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Victory! Purged Clothes Lead to Organized Closet

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
Recently I received this wonderful email from a friend and O4L reader. With her permission, I am letting you read over my shoulder. I hope you are encouraged and inspired to make needed changes in your life.

Dear Martha,

Here’s a praise report and some good [news] about how the LORD has given me the needed desire and encouragement to purge and organize my clothes and closet.

I had wanted to lose weight to be healthy and The LORD led me to a ‘diet plan’ that has really made a big difference.  I am down 22 lbs. and have reached my goal with 2 lbs to spare. In the meantime - the lost pounds and inches – meant lots of my clothes needed to go -  He has  given me a new mindset -  that this is the healthy weight for me and I’m making the lifestyle change to stay within two pounds of it.

So I no longer feel the need to save the larger sizes “just in case”. When I lost the first 10- or 11 pounds I gave away some of my ” too big for me but in good shape” clothing to friends and family.  It was a joy to pass things on to others (who were blessed) and to have less “stuff” cluttering up my closet.

Then two days ago – after losing this final 11 lbs - I tried on every piece of clothing I own – summer - winter – all of it and I’m actually purging at least 2/3 of my wardrobe!!

We have always had limited closet space and even though I’m not one to buy tons of clothes -I did save old ones for WAY too long and  I have had to use the  spare bedroom closet to store seasonal clothing.

Both the spare bedroom closet and our closet are so organized now. I  purged every part – old shoes – purses – belts you name it – WOW what a euphoric feeling on all fronts !!!  Also I’ve done what you’ve mentioned and used the summer sales to buy a few ‘nice replacement items’ in the new sizes – but only a few.

I still have to find homes for some of the clothing I think friends might like – but all that is decent and not something specifically thought of for individuals  is boxed up and in my car to be donated.

YOUR message is timely and I’m blessed by God’s grace to make healthy changes which I know are improving our quality of life.   MOVING Forward into a lifestyle of organization.  Thanks for your help and inspiration.

Blessings, Cyndy

Organize with Friends: More Fun, More Accountability

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Organizing your cluttered space can be lonely and downright depressing! Who wants to spend a couple hours looking at the clothes you could fit into two years ago, the mementos you saved from your now-grown children’s early years, or the projects from work that you poured your life into and have now been replaced by newer, better?

The solution: make a party of it! Invite a bunch of friends, promise to feed them, and divide the organizing among the lot of you.If you only have one friend kind enough to help, make it a reciprocal agreement. He/she comes to your place first (of course) and you go to to help at the friend’s place the next week. To quote English playwright and poet, John Heywood, “Many hands make light work.”

Take these steps to ensure your organizing party is both fun and productive:

  1. Choose a date that works for you and your friend(s).
  2. Dream and plan your ideal layout for the space.You can always make a course correction later.
  3. Purchase any large storage pieces you know you will need:  bookshelves, end tables, storage ottomans. Wait to purchase smaller organizing systems until you know what they will contain and the dimensions of the drawer/shelf to hold them.
  4. Gather supplies: black trash bags, cardboard boxes or plastic bins for sorting, felt tip pens, sticky notes or 3×5 cards, masking tape.
  5. Use an proven organizing method like Julie Morgenstern’s S.P.A.C.E.  Explain how it works to your guest(s)
  6. Feed the workers before you start, and take water breaks.
  7. De-clutter and organize for a set time, say 1-2 hours, stop and straighten up.
  8. Celebrate the great progress you made and make another date to complete the task!

In addition to the extra hands and brainpower, this method works well because once committed, you can’t back out. We may break appointments with ourselves on a daily basis, but hesitate to let our friends down.

Just think… if you and a friend did this trade once a month for a year, you could organize your whole house or apartment! An added side benefit is the relationship building time together. How fun!

Use an organizing method like S.P.A.C.E.

Clear the Clutter! Part 3 – Keeping Stuff Contained

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

This past Monday I was giving a presentation at a local Senior Center. I met Terry who found me online and had several printed copies of my blog in her hand. Then she asked, “I found your blogs Clear the Clutter Parts 1 and 2, but not Part 3, did you write Part 3 yet?”

I was embarrassed to have to answer, “No, I have not.”

So, you know what’s coming… by golly, this is Part 3! Maintenance doesn’t have to be a bad word. Use these tips to keep your newly organized space contained and going strong.

Room to live

7 Keep it Organized Tips to making “main-tain” more than two rhyming four-letter words:

  1. Store items by categories. Name the category so you and everyone else know what goes in there. Label, if necessary. Sample categories: first aid kit, cold weather accessories (hats, gloves, scarves), everyday office supplies, Stationery/Bill paying supplies, hair care.
  2. Keep items close to where they are used so you don’t have to travel very far to put them away.
  3. Use containers that fit the item to be stored in size, convenience of access, quality of décor. Ask, “Does this container make me want to put things in it, or is it too hard?”
  4. Set limits on how many you truly need. You are the manager here. Too many extraneous things make it hard to find what you really use and love! How many margarine tubs can you use in a month? That’s enough.
  5. Commit to putting things in their homes that you have designated.  Think “There’s no place like home…there’s no place like home.” Click your ruby slippers and let that object go home.
  6. Gather things that have escaped, or are on permanent vacation from their homes into a “Move” box. Then walk around your house delivering them to the doorstep of the room where they belong. Put each one in its home the next time you enter that room.
  7. If you have kids, make a family play date to do some straightening. In each child’s room let him/her be the manager and tell the “employees” where things go. Hold your tongue, mom or dad. Any headway you make is an improvement on what was before. Other children may make some good suggestions that can better be heard by their sibling.

Maintenance issues often are solved in the organizing process.  When systems are put into place in deference to personality and present habits, the odds become much greater that we can “keep it up.” If you are having lots of difficulties maintaining your organized space, it could be that the system itself needs tweaking.

Organization doesn’t have to be boring. Use color and style to ratchet up your desire to keep your space appealing to the eye and inviting as a fun place to hang out.

Final thoughts:

  • Enjoy your space as you currently have it arranged.
  • Be present in NOW.
  • When you leave an area, look for something that you can deliver to the room you are headed to.
  • Try to spend 10 minutes a day putting things away.
  • Devote a concentrated 2 hours per month working on one area in particular.

Living and working in an organized space is more a process than a destination. Over time as you find systems that work for you and are committed to keeping it up, you will see the gradual change. If you need more support, find a professional organizer in your area on the National Association of Professional Organizers webpage. We are a diverse group but all have a passion to help others live balanced and productive lives.

Pretty Post-its – New Organizing Solutions

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Some days it pays to be a National Association of Professional Organizer (NAPO) member. This week I received a packet from 3M with samples of the new Post-it offerings we have been seeing on commercials lately. The not so subtle hint read, “6 Great Blog Topics for 2010.”

OK, I will share the love. These are my 3 favorites.

1. Durable Filing Tabs – 2″ square tabs that attach securely to any file folder, can be used for creating subcategories in hanging files. At Office Max, four assorted colors, 24 total tabs, $2.99.

2. Removable label pads- have full adhesive backs, are repositionable, and remove cleanly. Use these to label any size storage container. My favorite is the 225 piece neon assortment from Amazon at $9.40.

3. Post-it pockets – Lightweight plastic sleeves that peel and stick on the wall. These are pretty, antique floral prints in three sizes- receipt, bill, and letter.  I want the letter size pockets, 1 pink and 1 blue, $6.99.

It always helps to have more options for paper management and labeling storage. Thanks 3M for the presents.


Ask NOT What Organizing Can Do For You…, Better Yet DO Ask!

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Perhaps intelligence can lessen the consequences of ADD tendencies? Maybe, maybe not.  My father labeled me a “scatterbrain”, but I was able to excel in school and in my first jobs. The real challenge in my life began when I became a military wife and eventually a mom of four. To survive, I was forced to develop systems that would guide our home life as well as our packing and moving 11 times in 20 years.

Just when I thought I had it all figured out, my family began to experience the added turmoil of cancer diagnosis and treatment, anorexia, mental illness, and death of parents. I trust in a big God, but had to tell Him, “This is really too much, Lord!”

Although I was not thrilled with these situations , they have stretched me and given me an added measure of compassion.  I know what it is like to feel buffeted by situations you can’t control, to feel helpless and hopeless. I also know that to do what I can no matter how little that is, is all that is required of me.  Small actions taken consistently can produce extraordinary results!

My desire for you is that you…

  • Get clear about what you really want. What is that? Do you want to be able to find what you need when you need it, to have only furniture sitting on the floor, to enjoy a calm retreat at the end of a busy day, or to finally get rid of paper piles… what is it? In other words, why are you reading a post about organizing?
  • Know why you want it. Be specific. How will that result improve your life?  What will it allow you to do? How would that feel?
  • Stop allowing the past to dictate your future.
  • Eliminate the physical and mental clutter that is holding you back.
  • Make room for something new in your life – a new vocation, volunteer effort, or creative pursuit.
  • Be realistic about where you are now.
  • Dare to dream about where you want to be. Expand your possibilities.
  • Do not be a victim, or a survivor, but be ready to thrive.
  • Let go of those things and attitudes that are blocking your success.

Once you have taken an honest look at where you are and have decided you don’t want to stay there, allow me to be a part of the solution. On my home page, you can request the F.R.E.E. 60 Tips to Organize Your Life.  Use that as a quick guide to de-clutter, take control of your time, and save an hour a day.

You will find that taking those small positive steps will increase your self confidence. That begins a ripple effect that makes you want to take the next step and the next – rather like painting your living room and then seeing that your old ratty couch doesn’t fit anymore.


Let me know what tips you decided to take action on first. I want to be able to cheer you on. As the L’Oreal commercial says, “You are worth it!”

Drug Litigation and Professional Organizing?

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Using Google Alerts is one way I keep up with current news in the area of professional organizing. Once in a while, I am perplexed when I see the  source. Today is an example. Google found an article from the site Drug Litigation: Get Help With Drug Litigation entitled:

Gain Order Of Your Home By Finding A Professional Organizer

Of course, I had to see if there was a way a professional organizer could actually be of help with drug litigation! Chia Trams wrote an excellent article, citing the many benefits of using a pro organizer’s services in the home. I found links to similar articles that were intriguing as well: Professional Organizers – Patience And Organization To Clean Up The Clutter and Get Rid of Clutter By Adding More Storage In Your Home.

I found no results that mentioned a connection with drugs. Perhaps if you have an organizer in your home, you have a ready-made witness that there were no drugs at that time? That is one benefit that had not occurred to me before! 

What Mementos to Keep?

Monday, November 9th, 2009

This is a question I am frequently asked, and a difficult one to answer. These are a few thoughts:

1. Do keep those awards, photos, milestone markers that mean the most to you. Of course this requires that these items have a home,  preferably in one place in appropriate container(s). Basement/attic storage should be monitored for heat and moisture problems.

2. Only keep things that remind you of happy, positive events. I finally convinced my husband that he didn’t have to keep the fake flower arrangement from his grandmother’s funeral. There were so many good memories to hold onto instead.

3. Do not keep items out of duty. Just because someone you care about gave you something doesn’t imply a forever contract.  Especially for larger objects, take a photo and let go.

4. “Most paper is not meant to be saved forever.” I love this quote by a fellow Ohio organizer, Alicia Miller! Especially when we can scan and store on a wand why keep the piles?  I do have immigration records from my great-grandfather that I will keep; I need my marriage license. Most everything else can go.

5. Ask the question “Who is likely to care 20 years from now?” Is there someone in your family who enjoys history and would treasure those “old” things you are saving? Share those treasures now while you can give an accurate accounting of where they came from, who used the objects, etc. Then you are free not only of those things, but of the burden of being the only one who knows their significance.

If you have another thought that would help others decide which mementos to keep, please share!  We all need help in this area.