Category Archives: Organizing

Are You Putting Things Away to Stay Organized?

One of the single most important habits that will help you stay organized is to put things away

This is what can happen when things aren’t put away. You lose the use of your kitchen table.

all the time. Putting things away after use is insurance that you will be able to find those things again when you need them. It also keeps your home feeling good, clear of the clutter of things left out in the open.

Everything is alive with energy, positive or negative. A jacket might have positive energy because you love the color, fit and style. However, the energy of that jacket changes when it’s thrown over a chair instead of put away in a closet. It takes on negative energy because it has landed where it is not supposed to be because it’s irritating to see it out of place. It’s energy is similar to that of litter — irritating and therefore negative.

This is what is available if you take the time to regularly put things away. Which space would you choose?

You may know it’s better to put things away, but you keep leaving things out. What are the reasons that you do that? Following are some common reasons that things don’t get put away.

  • It’s easier to leave things out and/or not put them away.
  • You tell yourself you will do it later. But, do you?
  • You think it will take a lot of time to put away.
  • You tell yourself that there are other more pressing things that need to be done.
  • You think putting things away is tedious and boring.
  • You are unaware that you’ve left things out because your attention has shifted to something else.
  • It’s a habit to drop things without thought.
  • It’s a habit to leave things out.
  • It’s not easy to put things away because where they belong is too full of other things.
  • The item doesn’t have a home, a place where it can be stored.

What does it cost you to not put things away regularly?

  • You can’t find things when you need them.
  • You create a space that over time feels chaotic and uncomfortable.
  • You attract criticism from others.
  • The negative energy of the space causes increased irritability between family members.
  • You waste money because you buy things you already own but can’t find.
  • You are less productive because you can’t think clearly in a messy space.
  • As your space becomes more cluttered, negative energy increases and your self-esteem dips. You feel bad about yourself and your space.
  • You create negative energy blocks that distract you from what it most important.
  • You create negative energy that blocks good things from coming to you.

Can you really afford to wait until “later” to put things away? The longer you wait to put something away, the harder it will be to make yourself do it. Make putting things away after use your “must do” habit to keep your life more peaceful and productive.

If despite your best efforts you cannot seem to develop the habit of regularly putting things away, it’s time to seek support to change your behavior. A coach can help you tease out what is preventing you from making the change you want, and can provide support and accountability as you try on new behaviors. Schedule a free 30-60 minute Back on Track phone coaching session to explore how you can develop new habits to keep you organized and on track with your goals.

The Junk Drawer: A Kitchen Mini-Attic

Don’t know what to do with the curtains you removed from a child’s bedroom? Stick them in the attic! Don’t know what to do with miscellaneous pieces of plastic that might be important for

Adding dividers or small containers to “junk” drawers to separate items into categories can transform your “junk” drawer into a highly functional drawer.

some reason? Stick them in the junk drawer! Is it any wonder that most people cringe, not only when attics are mentioned, but also when junk drawers become the subject of conversation? Junk drawers are the “I don’t know what to do with it” places for small items, often located in the kitchen.

What I don’t understand is how that drawer of miscellaneous items got its name. Often most of the things in a junk drawer are not junk. They are useful items: screw drivers and other small tools, pencils, pens, batteries, nail files, sewing kits, screws and nails, gum, rubber bands . . . I’ll bet junk drawers were so named because their contents were jumbled and looked junky!

I object to using the adjective “junk” to describe any storage area in a house, because using “junk” to describe a space gives it permission to be junky. I once had a client who had a junk room! Can you imagine giving over one whole room in a house to junk?! Needless to say, that room is now a small study, not a junk room!

Believe it or not, junk drawers can be transformed from junky spaces to organized places with organizer inserts or small containers to hold the different categories of things you choose to keep in that drawer. You can even find those containers around the house, if you have some small boxes set aside for gift giving. Both lids and boxes can be used.

Be sure to limit the contents of each container to one category. For example, one container might hold batteries, another would hold pens and pencils, and a third would hold miscellaneous tools. Don’t mix items within a container or you’ll transform your neatly organized drawer of miscellaneous small items back into a junk drawer.

And, why not call your newly organized drawer of miscellaneous small items something fun like the Picasso drawer or the Discovery drawer? You decide! If you want to be successful in maintaining a really useful storage space for miscellaneous small things in your kitchen, let go of the “junk drawer” label. You’ll be glad you did the next time you are able to quickly find that miscellaneous piece of plastic that turns out to be the battery cover for the back of your TV remote!

Closet Organizing Can Be Creative & Fun

A very interesting guest room closet.

A very interesting guest room closet.

Who says closets have to be overwhelming and boring? You can make your
closets interesting with a little thought and creativity.  One of my clients did just that when she decided to gather all her Williamsburg memorabilia and mementos together and displayed them in her guest room closet. How creative and lovely!

Apparently this client was in the habit of leaving her guest room closet empty for use by guests. When she was moving into her house she noticed how many Williamsburg mementoes she had and considered her options for displaying them. The empty shelves in the guest room closet seemed like a perfect place to store and display her treasures.

What a lovely greeting!

What a lovely greeting!

Can you imagine being a guest and opening that closet? How wonderful it would be to be greeted by such historic and interesting items? It sure beats the heck out of unsightly bags, boxes and other miscellaneous stuff!

Make organizing interesting and fun to get it done!

Stay Organized to Reduce Christmas Stress

It’s holiday crunch time! The final push to get everything done by December

Don't let holiday stress prevent you from staying organized!

Don’t let holiday stress prevent you from staying organized!

25. It’s quite common to focus on finishing shopping and Christmas cards, wrapping presents, and baking at the expense of maintaining order in your home. You may think the mail can wait, cleaning up after wrapping presents can be done after the holiday, and putting clothes away is definitely NOT a priority.

You just have to be ready for Christmas. At what cost?

Regular maintenance tasks like cleaning up, putting clothes away, and processing mail are activities that will ground you, help you feel in control at a time when many things can feel out of control. You don’t know how people will get along during your holiday social events. You don’t know if people will be happy and appreciative of the gifts you worked hard to find and wrap. You don’t know if dishes you make for your family will turn out or be liked. You don’t know if someone will drink too much and pick a fight.

Christmas is a time of heightened emotions and high expectations. It can be very stressful. The best thing you can do when facing unpredictable, stressful situations is to ground yourself by keeping up with tasks that help you stay organized and feeling in control.

Even if your bills are not in your awareness as you plough through your “to do” list, the fact that you don’t know where they are or how much you have spent can stress you on an unconscious level. Clothes chaos in your bedroom affects the quality of your sleep and starts you off on the wrong foot in the morning. A messy kitchen or gift wrapping area holds negative energies that are irritating and sap your energy.

Besides, do you really want to wake up December 26 to a nightmare you created by choosing not to make time to keep up with essential maintenance tasks?

Essential Maintenance Tasks to Lay the Groundwork for a Great Holiday

  1. Process mail daily — recycle junk mail and move important papers to an area to be further dealt with after Christmas.
  2. Clean up every day — wash dishes, unpack shopping and work bags, restore order when finished with projects and/or wrapping gifts.
  3. Put coats and clothes away every day.
  4. Take out trash and recycling often.

A Solution for Organizing Necklaces

I have yet to find the ideal necklace organizing product. In my work I have seen many types of organizers, but none have accomplished what’s needed to keep necklaces organized: visibility, ease of access, and keeping necklaces tangle-free.

My own necklace organizer finally reached the point where I had to do something different to be able to enjoy my necklaces. My mother recently died, and I inherited a number of her brightly colored necklaces, most of which we bought together. They hold her energy, and being able to easily access them became a priority.

IMG_4611

Before

When I added Mom’s necklaces to my existing organizer they became part of a jumble of necklaces, all of which were then difficult to see and access. If you have to fight with other necklaces to get to the one you want, you will feel irritated and most likely avoid using necklaces all together.

What to do? I went to Bed, Bath & Beyond and bought another necklace tree. It was still not ideal for easily getting necklaces on and off of it, but it did have the capacity to store necklaces at two levels. Longer necklaces could be on the top level, and smaller necklaces on the bottom.

After. The necklaces on the counter were donated to charity.

After. The necklaces on the counter were donated to charity.

When I contemplated the volume of necklaces, most of which I actually love and use, I realized I still had too many necklaces for the new organizer. Rather than cram all of them onto the new tree, I decided to divide the necklaces into two groups: colorful beaded necklaces on the new tree; simple silver and gold necklaces on the smaller tree. Removing the silver and gold necklaces reduced the volume on the tall tree, and made it more likely that I’d be able to see and access the remaining necklaces.

I used the sorting process as an opportunity to clear out some necklaces I don’t wear and am not likely to wear again. That too reduced the volume. Any time you are setting up a new organizing system, you have the opportunity to clear clutter. 

My solution is not ideal because it takes more space, but I was able to take a chaotic jumble of inaccessible necklaces and make them accessible and visible. Mission accomplished!

If you have found an effective way to store necklaces, please share it! And, please include photos so we can all benefit from your method.

Custom Closet Design: Is It Worth the Cost?

Closet Factory, California Closets, Closet Tailors — should you pay the big 103820849_PZpaFgdN_cbucks for a closet designed to your needs? Is it worth the cost? Is it worth the effort it will take to empty the closet and put everything back?

I’ve worked with a number of clients who bit the bullet and hired a company to do a custom design and install of their personal closet or the closets of their children. Without exception, the custom closet arrangement was far superior to what had existed before.

Following are some of the benefits my clients experienced.

  1. There was more usable storage space.
  2. There was more structure within the “black hole” of the closet, so fewer items tended to float without a home.
  3. The process of emptying and refilling their closet provided two clearing opportunities, when the clothes, shoes, etc. came out and when they went back in.
  4. The energy of the new closet felt really good and seemed to urge clients to respect the space by keeping it neat and organized.
  5. Custom closets are considered to be an asset when you sell your home.

That being said, if you do decide to invest in custom closets, I do have a few suggestions:

  1. Make sure you use a company with a good reputation. Not all companies produce and stand behind their products. Ask for references for any company you are considering or go with a company recommended by discerning friends.
  2. Make sure you have a good designer. Designers are not equally skilled. I learned that lesson when I had the opportunity to review the plans of two different designers from two different companies for a client. The difference in the quality of the two designs was startling.
  3. For your personal closet, work with a same sex designer because they’re likely to have a better grasp of the complexities of your storage needs.
  4. Make sure the company has some kind of guarantee for satisfaction. It is quite common to think that a design is perfect until you begin putting clothing back into it. It’s not uncommon to need to make adjustments to the original design.

So, should you get custom designed closets? When your budget allows, I highly recommend it. If you can only do one closet at a time, start with your personal closet and that of your spouse if you are married or in a committed relationship. Having that closet function work well for you will ground you and reduce your stress. 

Your Personal Closet Is a Reflection of You!

Your personal closet is the most important closet in the house. Well, from a DSCN1100feng shui perspective it is! Your closet is an outward extension of you. Your clothes hold your energy. Take a look at your closet. How are you doing right now? Are you calm, spacious and organized? Or, are you a chaotic jumble of stuff?

How can I be so certain of the significance of your closet?

For thirteen years I’ve helped people clear and organize their closets. I have helped clients make decisions about what to keep and what to toss using the “Love It, Use It or Lose It Method” of clutter clearing. Clothing items that were loved or used have the best energy and were kept. Those that were not loved or used at least once a year were tossed. By going through that process over and over again with clients, it was very apparent that clothing held important associations with the different aspects of their lives, some of which were current and some that were outdated.

During the clearing process clients had the chance to “get current” about who they’d become by identifying those clothes they still loved, that still fit, that made them look attractive, that were comfortable, and that were useful given their current activities. In the process they let go of volumes of clothing that was too small, suited to a former occupation only, that felt uncomfortable, that fit poorly, that was of poor quality, that held  negative associations, and that was permanently stained.

When we finished our clearing sessions each client had more clarity about their current self, who they were the day of our clearing session–their current values, lifestyle, and preferences in terms of comfort, color and styles. Clients went from overwhelmed and scattered to clear and empowered within the space of two hours!

Go into your closet and set your intention to create a space that is an accurate reflection of who you are today. With each clothing item ask yourself, “Does this item accurately reflect who I am today? Does it reflect who I want to be today?” If the answer to either question is no, let it go! Get clear. Get current. And, get empowered!

Clear Clutter: Have Your Cleaning Products Had Babies?

It’s always interesting to see how many kinds of silver polish I find when I’m cleaning-932936_640helping clients clear clutter from their utility rooms. I’m not exactly sure how it happens, but I often find duplicates of silver polish, glass cleaners, carpet stain removal products, floor waxes, and furniture polish in particular.

I wonder if this happens because clients hear about a new, improved product and just have to try it. Or, if they just don’t remember that they already have a product. What’s also interesting is that when they discover that they have multiples of a product, they keep all of them. “They are still useful,” they say. Yes, but how long have you had them? Why haven’t they been used before? Are you REALLY likely to use them? Get real and get clear!

I recommend that you figure out which products work best for you, and either let go of the rest or systematically use up the extras. A good way use up a product is to put the bottle you want to use up first in front of the other duplicates. It’s also always a good idea to keep smaller containers on lower shelves so they will be visible and easy to access. Even though you use many of those products only occasionally, storing them on an upper shelf guarantees that they will get lost in the bottle jungle. Make them visible and use them up! Also, make a deal with yourself that you will only buy new cleansers when you are SURE that you need them.

Things that don’t get used have a static, dead energy. Plus, those extras are taking up prime real estate that could be better used in some other way. Get real with yourself about those that are really worth keeping! Lighten your cleanser load!

Stay Organized to Effectively Navigate Crises

When tough times hit it’s very tempting to stop doing all the maintenance

Stay organized to stay afloat when you hit rough waters in life.

Stay organized to stay afloat when you hit rough waters in life.

behaviors that keep you organized and relatively clutter-free. The emotions that come up during an extended illness, the decline or loss of a special person or pet in your life, a divorce or period of financial challenge can derail motivation to do those boring tasks that keep you organized and moving. 

What happens when you stop doing those important maintenance behaviors (putting things away, hanging up your clothes, doing laundry, processing mail, paying bills, filing, daily cleaning up, deleting junk emails) is that you create pockets of negative energy in your space and on your computer.  Those energies produce stress that will keep you feeling bad and stressed and prevent clear thinking. Plus the chaos you create by not staying organized makes it very hard to get back on track once you move through the difficult period.

The truth is that if done regularly those maintenance tasks don’t take a lot of time. Plus, if you can make yourself do tasks that don’t seem very important during periods of crisis, you will keep yourself grounded so you can think clearly and make good decisions. 

Doing maintenance tasks in a time of crisis is not optional. It’s an important investment of time to assure that you can effectively navigate rough waters. Make doing it a priority during tough times. 

Organized Papers are Empowering!

Papers associated with challenges can empower you when they are organized. I had thegesture-772977_640 chance to observe this first hand when I helped a very dear friend organize papers associated with her son’s very challenging disability.

We faced numerous binders, paper storage containers, and piles of papers, the kind of paper challenge that makes you want to run from the room. We went through all the binders, storage containers and paper, sorting papers into easily identifiable stacks: IEPs, psychiatric evaluations, medical evaluations, reference materials, etc. In the process we got rid of a whole box of paper! By the time we were done she could put her hands on any document she might need, and had plans for sustaining the order we created.

My friend began the sorting process feeling overwhelmed and anxious, focused almost entirely on how very difficult her journey on the painful road to obtain help via a less than cooperative school system and a medical establishment that had led her son down some rough roads. By the time we’d finished she was calmer, and saw the remaining papers not as a big burdensome reminder of her difficult situation, but rather as resources to use as she continues to advocate for her son. The process of purging and organizing those papers not only made the papers more manageable, but also helped her ground herself to face future challenges.

Disorganized papers can keep you anxious and overwhelmed. Organized papers can empower and support you!

Dogs and Your Ability to Get Organized

I LOVE DOGS. And, I look for any excuse to talk or write about them. To that end I found myself wondering whether there was anything that dogs could teach us about getting and staying organized. This is what I came up with.

  1. Self-discipline is necessary in order to take action to get and stay organized. Dog breeds have different levels of ability to be obedient (self-disciplined). So do people.
    • beagle-166873_640Huskies and Beagles are difficult to train and not very obedient. Poodles and Shetland Sheep Dogs, however, are much easier to train.
    • Brain wiring and personality result in some people being driven, Type A achievers who get things done, and some people being couch potatoes who procrastinate and have difficulty completing tasks.

2.  Focus is required to be able to sustain attention and effort to clear clutter, get organized, and stay organized. Dog breeds differ in their ability to focus. So do people.

The Border Collie stare.

The Border Collie stare.

    • The Border Collie is an intense, highly driven breed with a superb ability to focus on his owner. The Border Collie stare is visual evidence of that. It is far more difficult to get the attention of more relaxed, less driven breeds like Shih Tzus and Golden Retrievers.
    • Some people can sustain focus easily. People with ADHD and other brain-based disorders like anxiety and depression, however, can have great difficulty sustaining focus.

3.  Not all dogs are motivated by the same thing. Not all people are motivated by        the same thing.

    • labrador-1114810_640Some dogs are motivated by food (e.g. Beagles). Others by attention. Some by toys, balls, and play (e. g. Terriers, Labrador Retrievers).
    • Some people are motivated to get and stay organized because they have a high need for order. Others need to look good to outsiders. Still others are motivated because being organized makes life easier.

4.  Dogs have differing levels of energy. People also have differing energy levels.

    • dog-719630_640Terriers are high energy dogs, whereas Mastiffs and Greyhounds are not.
    • Some people are always moving, enjoy being productive, and can keep going for long periods of time. Others are more laid back, slow to get into action, move at a slower pace, and exhaust their energy more quickly.

Why compare dog behavior to people? It’s a fun way to make the point that in terms of our abilities to be self-disciplined, focused, motivated and have energy available to get and stay organized, we are all different.

Differences are normal, not something to hide or feel bad about. Once you identify your “normal” in terms of self-discipline, focus, motivation and energy level, you can better understand any challenges you have with getting and staying organized. And, you can better justify getting help to handle your organizing challenges with less guilt.

Just as dog breeds are different, so too are people. Accept who you are and your abilities, and make getting and staying organized happen!

Staying Organized: The Lesson of the Weeds

Lessons come in the most unusual of places! I remember the time when the lesson of the benefits of staying organized really hit home with me.

I was pulling weeds in an effort to make bring our yard under control and make it 22998127_spresentable for a visit from my in-laws. As I worked my way around the yard I noticed that in the areas where I had been regularly weeding periodically there were fewer weeds, and they were much less well established.  In other words, I could pull them with relative ease. In one particular area that I hadn’t touched at all that summer, the weeds were a thick mat and very difficult to pull. Those weeds required that I put my whole body weight behind each pull in order to make their roots give at all. It was frustrating, exhausting work.

There I was on my knees, yanking away at those tenacious weeds when it occurred to me that the lesson of the weeds is the same as the lesson of the stuff. If we regularly manage our stuff, putting it away, cleaning it up, pitching on a regular basis, it really doesn’t get out of hand and overwhelm us. We can restore order with minimal effort.

It’s when we ignore those maintenance tasks for a period of time that it seems that a superhuman effort is required to bring our space back to order. Instead of taking minutes to get organized and on track, it can take hours and even days. And, just as I had avoided tackling that garden with its spreading masses of weeds because the task seemed overwhelming, so too is it a common inclination to avoid those areas of accumulated stuff. That doesn’t work at all because things only go from bad to worse.

I didn’t finish weeding that overgrown garden. It was too much for me to do in one session. My back, arms and shoulders weren’t up to it. I did, however, get a major chunk of it done and have a plan to return to finish it the next day.

What areas of your home or office are becoming an overwhelming task to tackle? Do something today to improve one of those areas, and make a plan to return to it regularly to chip away at it until it’s gone. Then, guard against a return of the chaos. Remember what it cost you before. Use that memory to motivate you to take regular action to keep order in your space!   

Keeping Closets Organized: Common Issues

Your problem keeping closets organized might not be all your fault.IMG_3011

Following are eight of the most common reasons people have problems with maintaining organized closets.

  1. Closet are not set up for successful maintenance.
  2. Closets are used by more than one family member.
  3. Family members have no idea how to organize and maintain order in a closet.
  4. Family members are not committed to keeping closets organized.
  5. Closets are poorly designed.
  6. A closet’s size is too small for current needs.

The Closet Is Not Set Up for Successful Maintenance of Order

Setting up a closet for successful maintenance of order means taking the time to create an initial order using containers and other organizing products that make access to the items easy. Too often in the rush of a busy life a closet is just thrown together with good intentions of returning to it at a later date to make improvements. And, that day never comes.

The Closet Is Used By More Than One Family Member

Anytime an area is used by more than one person, the chances of its order melting down increase. It’s unlikely that all family members will have the same level of commitment to maintaining an organized space. And, often the person who initially established the order just assumes that others will see the order that has been created and help to maintain it with no specific request or instruction.

Family Members Have No Idea How to Organize and Maintain Order in a Closet

Closet organizing skills are not taught in schools. Many left-brained folks intuitively know how to organize closets because they are wired for organizing anything. People who are right-brain dominant, and those who have ADHD, are not so lucky. Their wiring often leaves them clueless about how to organize something as daunting as a closet. Unfortunately when they don’t know how to deal with closet organization their default is either to do the “throw things in willy nilly and slam the door” approach or don’t bother using the closet at all, leaving volumes of their belongings outside the closet.

Family Members Are Not Committed to Keeping It Organized

Getting a closet organized and keeping it organized are two very different processes. The first is time-limited, and often can be completed in one time period. Keeping a closet organized first requires that family members be conscious of the need to maintain order in the space, then be willing to make the time (often less than a minute or two) ato take the necessary actions to keep it organized despite any personal inconvenience. Too often the importance of helping to keep closets organized doesn’t even make it on to the list of responsibilities of all family members.

By the way, don’t assume that others know that they are responsible for helping to keep closets organized, or that they know how to keep a closet organized or that they can easily decipher the system you’ve set up. That’s a sure fire way to guarantee that people will go about their merry way, looking out for their immediate needs, and your closet organization will melt down rapidly. You’ll then start feeling resentful because family members aren’t doing their part to help keep the closet organized. It’s important that family members be shown how a closet is organized, and told that you need their help to keep it organized.

The Closet Is Poorly Designed

DSCN0951The most common problem with closet design is having shelves that are too deep. Visibility of all items is so important in any area of the house if you want to access your belongings. Deep shelves make it impossible to see what’s at the back of the closet. Unless items at the back of a deep shelf are large enough to loom over the items at the front of the shelf, they disappear from view and then become sources of negative, dead energies.

Another common design problem is having a shelf located underneath hanging clothes. Items on that shelf become invisible when clothes hang over them. I recommend that nothing be stored on those shelves so you can avoid losing things under the clothes or being irritated by the clothes every time you retrieve an item located there.

Most traditional clothes closets have one bar with a single shelf above it. That design is often too simple to meet the varied needs for storage in homes today. Invariably there is wasted space below short items, and the shelf above can become a jumble of mixed items like shoes, sweaters, photo albums and memorabilia, and gifts. The more recent wire shelves are no better and can be frustrating to use because items slip through the wires. Custom closet design can transform that type of closet in a highly organized space for maximum storage that is less likely to lose its order.

IMG_1225

Not a pretty sight! And, not only was the opening to this closet too narrow, but I practically had to climb into the closet to get to items being stored there. The shelves were set too far back from the opening and too deep.

Perhaps the worst example of poor closet design that I’ve ever seen was a linen closet in a bathroom that had very deep shelves set back about six inches from the closet opening, situated behind an opening that was narrower than the width of the shelves. To make matters worse, the floor of the closet was about 18 inches above the ground. The opening was so small that I had to turn sideways to extend my arm to the back of the shelves. To clear the top shelf I had to step up into the closet, turn my shoulders and stretch my arm as far as it could possibly go. Very few people would be willing to go to the trouble of stepping up, twisting and extending their arm to put something away. More likely they’d be inclined to throw things into the closet and hope for the best. 

The Closet Is Too Small for Current Needs

Older houses tend to have small closets. At the time those houses were built people had less stuff. As our world changed post-WWII, many people began to enjoy more affluence and acquire things associated with a “good life.” What had been viewed as luxuries by the past generations became necessities. Couple that with a depression era mindset to “waste not, want not,” and the corresponding imperative to keep anything that is still useful, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for packed closets.

Now what? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Make time to carefully set up each closet for optimal functioning.
  2. Take the extra seconds required to put things away properly in closets rather than shoving them in and closing the door.
  3. Restore order to closets before they become completely disorganized.
  4. Create new order in a closet when its function changes. For example, new categories of items will be stored there.
  5. Live within your closets. It may require that you purge more and keep less.
  6. When closet space is truly inadequate, add pieces of furniture to your space to augment closet storage, like additional dressers and armoirs.
  7. Educate all family members about how to organize closets and keep them organized. You may need to give explicit instructions like, “hang up your coat, put your gloves in this container, return nail polish to this container, etc.,” until maintenance behaviors become automatic.
  8. Educate everyone in the family about the importance of keeping closets organized, and make it clear that all family members have responsibility for helping to maintain order in closets they access.
  9. If you have the financial resources, hire a custom closet company to assess, design and install custom closets that meet your specific needs within each closet. Custom closets are easier to keep organized and will add to the resale value of your home.

Closets order can be maintained, but only with proper setup and a family consciousness and commitment to keep closets organized. What can you do today to improve the condition of one of your closets?

Home Office: The Most Neglected Room in the House

When you look at your home office, do you cringe?

A home office that is guarantee to scare you off!

A home office that is guaranteed to scare you off!

Many people do! Why is that? I think  there are two main reasons that home offices become places to avoid: they often hold  functions that most people want to avoid, like bill paying, financial management and paper repository; and they are often unattractively appointed and cluttered. 

No matter how much money you make, you probably still have some discomfort when it comes to paying bills and managing your finances. And, were you ever taught how to handle paper? Not likely! So, quite possibly it’s an area associated with money anxiety and paper incompetence. Doesn’t that just make you so excited about spending time there doing boring tasks like paying bills and filing? Heck no!

Unless you use your home office for a home-based business that generates enough income to pay for high quality office furniture, most home offices are furnished with furniture leftovers doubling as office furniture; folding tables and cheap office furniture from office supply chain stores. You end of up with a hodge podge of furnishings that are difficult to make look attractive. And wall color, if funds are tight, you’ll hold off on painting the home office a pleasant color. Attractive art in the home office? Why bother! After all, nobody sees it but family members, and you don’t even spend that much time there! 

Add to that the fact that home offices often are multi-purpose rooms that are also used as guest and craft rooms. When rooms have more than one purpose, it’s easy for their essential functions to become blurred. They eventually end up as dumping grounds for things you don’t know what to do with, things you don’t want to take the time to move up to the attic, and things you need to clear from other rooms when company is coming.

If by now you’re feeling sorry for your home office, good! Because it’s the brain of the house, the home of crucial functions like financial management, and should be treated with more respect. If I told you the condition of your home office could be affecting both your current finances and your financial future, would you treat it with more respect? If I told you that disorder in that room creates a mental fogginess that could affect all decision-making and productivity, would that motivate you to create a new order and spend some time and money making it an attractive place where you enjoy doing essential tasks like bill paying? I hope so. Because what it’s true.

This is my home office. It's look may not appeal to you, but compare how it feels to the photo above. In which office would you be most able to get something done?

This is my home office. It’s look may not appeal to you, but compare how it feels to the photo above. In which office would you be most able to get something done?

If you decided to make your home office a personal paradise, a place where you would enjoy spending time, what would it look like? Because the functions of a home office cause discomfort and anxiety, you really need to create a lovely, comfortable space that will seduce you into crossing the threshold to do dreaded tasks like filing and bill paying. Have fun with it! The time and expense are well worth 

Staying Organized: The Power of Putting Things Away

“I’m too tired.” That was the response of a speech attendee when I asked what kept people from putting things away on a regular basis. 

For years I’ve navigated through spaces littered with clothing, papers, and objects that had not been put away. I was curious about how that happened because not putting things away would be difficult for me. My mother taught me the importance of keeping my room neat and our house neat. It was no big deal for me because I did it every day and there was never any big mess to deal with.

Dropped items are the bud of a clutter nightmare.

Dropped items are the bud of a clutter nightmare.

I’ve heard the “I’m too tired” response over and over again from clients. This time instead of being understanding and sympathetic I asked the class to look at the reality of the energy that would be expended by hanging up their clothes every night. “It takes seconds to hang up or fold clothes and put them in a drawer,” I said. Seconds that could prevent a clutter nightmare from forming or from getting any bigger.

I guess the real questions are, “What do you want?” and “What are you creating?” Going for the immediate gratification of dropping things where they land instead of putting them away gives you a short term reward while creating a long-term problem. If you want your space and your life to be more peaceful, your space must feel peaceful. A space with the litter of life shouting from all corners screams of negative energy and creates feelings of overwhelm and self-contempt.

If you have difficulty making yourself put things away and maintain order, clearly your tired self is winning over the self who wants a peaceful, comfortable space. What if you felt tired and put things away anyway? How would that change the feeling in your space? What would your efforts do for you? How would your energy be affected?

Making yourself invest a few minutes a day to maintain order can be a tangible way to take care of yourself, ground yourself, and help you connect with your personal power. It’s a way to communicate to yourself that you matter. 

You are not separate from the space you live in. If it’s a mess, so are you. If it’s well maintained, you’ll have more access to your own wisdom, energy and feelings of well-being. Those are pretty good results for investing a few minutes per day to put things away!

Start Organizing for a Great Christmas Now!

It’s never too soon to start planning for the holidays. Those who wait until the last moment to shop, wrap, do cards, bake, etc. usually find themselves up late Christmas eve and worn out by the time the big day arrives. Did you know that with a little planning you can have a very different sort of holiday season?

Here are a few suggestions to get you rolling:

  1. Decide whether or not you’ll send cards this year. If you want to be sure you get them out before February, buy your cards and stamps, write your Christmas letter and print your photo cards NOW. Then, schedule a weekend day in the next few weeks to do your cards. Put on some Christmas music. Make a festive beverage, and make doing your cards a pleasurable opportunity to connect with friends and family members. Set a goal to put the cards in the mail the day after Thanksgiving. Once your cards are out, you’ll have one weight off your shoulders.
  2. Clear out Christmas decorations that either never get used or that are a hassle to to use. It’s the start of simplifying your decorating process so that it takes less time and can be more pleasurable to do. Decoration clearing can be done right now–before you get caught up in all the activities of the season.
  3. Make decorating a fun event. Schedule a date to put up Christmas decorations now. Pick a weekend day to do it. That will give you a deadline to get any necessary supplies. Make decorating a fun, memorable event instead of just one more “have to” on your list of too much to do. Put on the Christmas music. Make cookies to munch, and have hot cider or hot chocolate while decorating. Include children in the process if they are interested or invite friends for a tree decorating party and a shared meal.
  4. Simplify gift giving by reducing the number of gifts you give and by giving lots of gift cards. You can reduce the time spent wrapping if you give gift cards because they can be slipped into a pretty card or a Christmas bag. Gift cards allow people to enjoy holiday cheer after the holidays when they use their cards to get things they really want and need. Wrap gifts as you purchase them or schedule parts of weekend days before the last week before Christmas as decorating times. Again, listen to music you love. Fix yourself a warm beverage and reflect on Christmases gone by as you wrap. If you leave gift buying and gift giving to the last moment, you’re setting yourself up for a stressful, exhausting and exhausted holiday. Do it different this year!
  5. Limit socializing to a few events with people who matter the most. Saying no to invitations for events that don’t interest you is one way to ensure that what you do will be pleasurable and will free up time to do holiday activities that feed you instead of drain you.

Make this holiday season the kind of celebration that you really want. You get to decide how much or how little you do. Start now by thinking about what it would take to have a season of joy and fun instead of a season of too much to do.

© 2012 Clutter Clearing Community | Debbie Bowie

“Author, Organizing Expert and Feng Shui Practitioner, Debbie Bowie, is a leading authority on clutter clearing to attract more of what you want in life. If you’re ready to clear clutter and move your life forward, get your FREE TIP SHEET, “Feng Shui Tips for Instant Success” at http://www.clutterclearingcommunity.com.

Being Organized: What It Takes to Find What You Need When You Need It

Set Up Homes for Everything!

The other day I was thinking about what it takes to be able to find what you need when you need it. Yes, we professional organizers are a strange lot, daydreaming about what it takes to find things! But, alas, that’s the way my brain works!

The three keys to being able to find things on a regular basis are setup, habit and memory.

Setup–The best way to ensure that you will be able to find things is to create a “home” for everything. A home is the place where an item is stored so you can find it when you need it. Homes don’t just magically present themselves. They have to be set up. Setup takes time and careful thought to determine the best home for each item you own so you’ll know where to go to retrieve it when you need it. You will need to set up all the storage areas in your home, your car, your purse, your garage, your shed, even your wallet. When you create homes for everything, you’ll be creating an initial order. In so doing, you will be laying the groundwork for being able to find what you need when you need it. Setup is an initial action that will likely need evaluation and adjustments over time.

Habit–Having a home for everything is great, but if items aren’t returned to their homes after use, all your work to establish homes will quickly melt down into a mess. The essential habit you need to ensure you’ll be able to find what you need when you need it is to routinely return things to their homes after use. Retrieve things. Put them back. Retrieve things. Put them back. The repetition of putting things away will help you remember where everything is located in your space.

Memory–To be able to find things, you must remember how you set up your space. You must remember the homes you designated for each item. That is no small feat! Homes and offices are filled with thousands of items. If your memory isn’t the greatest, being able to find things will be a challenge. One way to build the necessary neural pathways to be able to remember where things live in your space is to work very hard on the habit of retrieving things and putting them away. If you are conscientious about putting things away immediately after use, that repetitive action will help create the neural pathways for remembering the homes of your things.

Setup, habit and memory. Where do you get hung up in this process of finding what you need when you need it? Do you struggle with setup, either because you have no clue how to do it or because you have difficulty making time for setup? Is your “put things away” habit weak? Or, is your memory your weak point? Perhaps you set up your space nicely but struggle with the habit of putting things away. If losing things is a constant challenge for you, identify where you struggle–with setup, habit or memory, and take steps to address your problem.

If you are at a loss for what to do to make real progress to improve the odds of finding things on a regular basis, remember that help is available from both coaches and professional organizers. Being able to find things on a regular basis is a great way to lower stress and feel empowered. It’s worth the investment of your time and money to improve the conditions for finding what you need when you need it!

© 2012 Clutter Clearing Community | Debbie Bowie

“Author, Organizing Expert and Feng Shui Practitioner, Debbie Bowie, is a leading authority on clutter clearing to attract more of what you want in life. If you’re ready to clear clutter and move your life forward, get your FREE TIP SHEET, “Feng Shui Tips for Instant Success” at http://www.clutterclearingcommunity.com.

9 Feng Shui/Organizing Tips to Pop Your Small Business to the Top

Running a small business is hard work. You wear so many hats! So, the condition of your office may not your highest priority. In fact, it might not even make your list of priorities! But, did you know that neglecting your office could be costing you business? Feng shui teaches that what you have in your space and how it’s arranged affects what happens in your life. If you apply that principle to a small business, the condition your business environment affects what happens in the business.

As you look around your office knowing that its condition is affecting your business success, you’re probably thinking, “Where do I start?” Following are nine feng shui organizing tips to help you focus on changes you can make that will give you the most bang for your energy buck.

  1. Place your desk in the command or power position facing the door with a solid wall behind you. In this position your nervous system is most relaxed and you’ll feel most empowered while working.
  2. Paint the room a color, preferably one with energy like a buttery yellow, sage green, terra cotta, or my new favorite–turquoise.
  3. Keep only things that you love or use. Lose the rest! This also applies to books.
  4. Clear things that don’t fit the function of business success, like mementoes from a challenging job where you were not successful.
  5. Fix or remove anything that is broken. Broken things have a negative energy and attract “broke-ness.”
  6. Remove anything with a negative association. Objects hold the energy of people and events associated with them. For example, papers associated with prospects that were never converted to clients hold the association of failure.
  7. Have good lighting, both natural and artificial. Avoid halogen and fluorescent lighting which are not full spectrum, buzz and pop, and give off a harsh light. Pools of light are preferable to overhead lighting.
  8. Display symbols of your success–in art, diplomas, certificates.
  9. Add plants to bring the outdoors inside. Touches of plant green can transform a sterile office environment into a comfortable place to work. Use live plants, silk plants, and depictions of plants in art.

What will you do in your office today to enhance your business success? Start small. Take 15 minutes per day to clear clutter and make positive changes to your office. Over time not only will you find you that you can be more productive, you’ll love working in your office. And, you’re likely to be much happier with your bottom line!

© 2012 Clutter Clearing Community | Debbie Bowie

“Author, Organizing Expert and Feng Shui Practitioner, Debbie Bowie, is a leading authority on clutter clearing to attract more of what you want in your life. If you’re ready to clear the clutter from your life and move your life forward, get your FREE TIP SHEET, “Feng Shui Tips for Instant Success” at http://www.clutterclearingcommunity.com.

Stop to Get Organized!

Today I took half an hour to reorganize my computer desktop. What a difference that has made! Before I did that I kept drifting to tasks that were not very important. I had great difficulty even deciding what was important to do. There was so much visual stimulation that I just took the easiest path–which happened to be doing whatever was right in front of me. It was the exact opposite of intentional activity. Now I know how my clients, particularly those with ADD, must feel.

Before I could get any relief, I had to take the leap of faith and stop trying to be productive so I could get organized. Then, once I was organized, the quality of my actions immediately improved. And, I noticed that I was also much more relaxed and less anxious while working.

Would stopping to take 15 minutes to clear clutter affect your productivity? Do it! Silence all those energetic distractions. Then pay attention to how much easier it is to determine your priorities and take action. Sometimes putting a stop to ineffective action is the best answer!

© 2012 Clutter Clearing Community | Debbie Bowie

“Author, Organizing Expert and Feng Shui Practitioner Debbie Bowie, is a leading authority on clutter clearing to attract more of what you want in your life. If you’re ready to finally clear the clutter from your life and move your life forward, get your FREE TIP SHEET, “Feng Shui Tips for Instant Success” at http://www.clutterclearingcommunity.com.

Getting Organized: The Power of Clumping

My client stood in the middle of her home office looking overwhelmed and harried. “What a mess! I don’t know where to start!” How often have you felt that way? Without a word I began clumping like items together. Mary Kay products in one area, cassette tapes and CDs in another area, paper in another area. When I left that day, the room still had way too much in it, but everything was sorted into piles of like items.

Two weeks later I returned and was surprised to learn that my client had not only organized much of her Mary Kay products, but she’d also sorted and filed papers for over two hours. How remarkable! You see, this client had been diagnosed with ADHD. In the 13 years I’ve been helping people clear clutter and get organized, I cannot recall a single client who had spent two hours sorting paper by themselves after one of my visits, much less one with ADHD. ADHD is a brain disorder with deficits in executive functioning that make dealing with paper seem like an impossible nightmare. I was astounded. Paper is one of the toughest things to organize for anyone, and is definitely at the top of the list of organizing tasks that are avoided like the plague!

My client had no clue that what she had accomplished was remarkable. She said, “When the paper was all over the room, I couldn’t even begin to think about going through it. But, once it was all in one place, it was much easier to do.” That is the power of clumping. Once like items are all in one place, it’s much easier to deal with them, both psychologically and energetically. When items are all over the place, it’s as though their energy is calling to you from all different directions. It’s just impossible to wrap your brain around what to do with them. Put them all together and you’re ready for action.

So, the next time you are faced with an overwhelming organizing challenge, first clump like items together. Don’t make decisions about the items you’re clumping, unless it’s a no-brainer to discard them. Making decisions will distract you from clumping and slow the clumping process. Once you have groupings of like items, then go back to each grouping, working from the largest to the smallest items, and make decisions about what to keep, what to pitch and how to containerize items. Experience the power of clumping!

Paper Scatter, A Sign of Dementia

I got my organizing gene from my mom. She was highly organized and ran a tight ship when I was growing up. Not only was I blessed with her organizing gene, but I also had a skilled model for getting and staying organized. She was always restoring order in our home where I lived with my parents and two brothers.

So, when I started noticing miscellaneous papers floating over the tops of three counters in her kitchen as well as her desk, I was at first curious, then alarmed. Something had changed. And, it wasn’t the quantity or type of paper that flowed into Mom’s house. When my step-father’s health declined and he eventually died, I finally felt I had permission to closely examine all those papers. Mom needed my help to manage her finances because her focus was on her husband and, I later discovered, because she really was not cognitively capable of doing so herself.

I had noticed my mother’s significant short term memory problems for some time, but I tried to explain it away as normal aging. My step-father’s health crisis made it very clear that Mom has dementia. During that difficult time she exhibited significant confusion, and it was obvious that she was unable to make decisions, cope in new environments and learn new things. The sea of papers was the most visible symptom of her cognitive decline in her home. Changes in her brain made it more and more difficult for her to make decisions about what to do with incoming mail and my step-father’s medical papers. Her way of not handling her papers was to drop them on an empty counter. Then she would look at them over and over again.

Mom’s sea of papers reminded me of what I so often find in the homes of clients who hire me to help them make peace with their papers, particularly those with ADHD. It is well known that those who have ADHD often have frontal lobe deficits. The frontal lobe is the area of the brain responsible for executive functions like short-term memory, decision-making and prioritization. I am guessing that Mom’s dementia has been affecting her frontal lobe for some time.

If you have always had difficulty managing paper, don’t leap to the conclusion that you have dementia. I share this information with you because you may know someone like my Mom who once was very competent at managing papers but who with age has become less capable of paper management. It could be an early sign of dementia. It’s easier to be helpful and loving with a person who is having difficulty with the details of life if you have some idea of a possible cause of the decline. Changes from previous levels of functioning are information you can use to determine the best way to be helpful to a beloved family member.

An Organized Purse Begins at Purchase

How do you know when it’s time to get a new purse? When your dog eats it! Since I hate shopping I usually find myself shopping for a purse when my old purse is showing embarrassing signs of wear. But, most recently I was motivated by the fact that my dog, Oz, had expressed his boredom by chewing up my beloved purple purse!

So, when I made myself go to Kohl’s to search for the purple purse replacement, I was not really up for the task. Despite my attitude, I took my time locating just the right purse. As I made the rounds of the purse displays, I was acutely aware that being a feng shui practitioner and professional organizer has made me especially particular about the criteria for just the right purse. Over time I’ve learned what works for me, and settling for anything less is a setup for disorganization and daily irritation when I can’t find what I need when I need it.

Here are some features that do not work for me:

  • deep, large purses–They hold too much stuff, and the deeper they are, the harder it is to see what is in them. They also weigh a ton because I tend to fill the space that’s available.
  • zippers for closure–Zippers require added effort to get inside a purse. I knew I’d find that effort irritating. Besides, zippers break.
  • purses with no inside dividers–I carry a variety of items in my purse, and it’s easier to find what I need if I have specific locations for things. One big area would become an annoying jumble of stuff in no time.
  • purses with no outside pockets–I’ve learned that I enjoy easy access to high use items like my keys and cell phone. An outside pocket is perfect for that. When I don’t have one, there’s no telling where the phone will end up. Then I’ll be cursing as I miss calls while searching through all the items in an inside section.

Features that I have to have:

  • medium size, but not too deep–This size is perfect to hold what I need to carry, but it won’t weigh a ton. And, it must be a depth where I can see everything at a glance.
  • magnetic closure–This type of closure takes little effort both to open and close. And, it doesn’t break!
  • two major sections with a zippered divider, a small zippered pocket on the back wall and an open pocket on the front wall–I use the front section for my wallet, change purse, business card holder and glasses case. The back section is for my small spiral notebook, pens pouch, pouch for earphones and cell phone charging wire, and pouch for occasional use items like special keys and nail clippers. The zippered divider is where I keep high dollar coupons for office supplies and restaurants and extra business cards. The zippered pocket on the back wall holds personal hygiene items like kleenex, a small brush, nail files and a small mirror. The open pocket on the front wall is used to hold lip balms and lipsticks.
  • interior fabric that is any color except black or brown–Dark interiors transform purses into black holes and really reduce visibility.
  • an appealing color–It is important that my purse be a color that does not clash with my coats and shoes. Its color also has to be dark enough so it won’t easily show dirt. I’m rough on a purse, tossing it into my not-so-clean car and dropping it on the floors of client houses. I never want a yellow or white purse that will look dirty in no time. And, the energy of the color has to be compatible with my current energy. I wanted a purse with a rich, vibrant color like the purple purse was destroyed by Oz. But, when I finally found all the necessary features in a purse, I had a choice between a light purple that was too flashy for me and a pleasant taupe, a nice earth tone. I chose the taupe because earth tones are very grounding, and given the recent challenges in my life, a grounding energy would work well.

Finding just the right purse took me about 45 minutes of searching and thinking and deciding what would work for me. When I left the store I wasn’t completely happy with the color of my new purse because I had wanted a color with more energy, but I chose to compromise on the color in favor of having the best size and internal design. The color is neutral and calming, something I can learn to like a lot.

My new purse may not be the color I wanted, but it’s design is actually better than my mutilated purse. It is not quite as deep as the purple purse, so I can now see everything inside much more easily. It seems that Oz did me a big favor!

When you go shopping for your next purse, it’s worth taking your time to find one whose design and appearance really work for you. Your purse is an extension of you. If it’s a jumble of disorganized stuff, you will not only waste precious time finding things when you need them, you will also be annoyed over and over again as you move through your days. That annoyance is a stressor that costs you vital energy.

By investing time and money in finding just the right purse, you will make an important statement to yourself and the Universe that getting and staying organized is a priority in every area of your life. Know that it may take several purses for you to find the features that matter most. But, when you finally figure it out, you will be amazed at how wonderful it feels to have a stress-free purse!

Lost Keys: An Opportunity for Organizing

I couldn’t believe it! I’d stopped to get gas, had pumped the gas and then couldn’t find my keys. I’ve done that before, so I automatically searched the usual places: the car seat, between the seats, the passenger seat, the front pocket of my purse. No keys. I felt a flutter of panic that was quickly followed by the reprimand of a critical inner voice that was saying, “How could you lose your keys in such a small area!” Since that voice was not very helpful, I quickly switched to a problem-solving voice that instructed, “Just straighten up the inside of your car. The keys will show up when you can see more clearly.”

As I began to create more order inside my car, I had a little chuckle with myself when I thought about my options, one of which was to ask for help. Just imagining myself going into the gas station and telling the cashier that I’d lost my keys while pumping my gas really struck me as funny. It would be even funnier if I told the guy I make my living helping people clear clutter and get organized. I’m supposed to be an expert in not losing things!

When I organized my front seats, I found the remote for my car stereo which had gone missing about a month ago, a quarter, a rock, and a piece of jewelry that had been riding around with me for months on its way to the jeweler to be repaired. Still no keys.

Hmmmm. . . . time to take deep breaths, look in all the same places one more time and as a last resort, I thought back to what I’d been doing when I stopped the car. I’d been talking to my husband on the phone. The phone! Where did I put it? If I found the phone, I’d likely find the keys! Usually I put it in the front pocket of my purse, but I already knew the phone wasn’t there. Ok, if not in the front pocket, where else would I throw the phone without thinking? In the other pockets of the purse! Sure enough, I found the phone and the missing keys. Success!!!

Why do I take time to share this story with you? What are the lessons from this experience? First, I want you to know that I am just as human as you are. I too have moments when I take action unconsciously and misplace things. When I do, I am just as normal as the next person, at first castigating myself for my mistake and then momentarily panicking.

Second, I think losing my keys at the gas pump, when the keys couldn’t have gotten very far, is a hoot! Sometimes you just have to laugh at the absurdity of your situation. That humor helped calm me so I could finally get into the problem-solving mode that eventually led to finding the keys.

And, when I finally did find the keys, I had also located my missing stereo remote and the front seat of my car was neatly organized! When you lose something, it’s always an opportunity to get reorganized. The process of organizing creates clarity, making it possible to find things.

The next time you lose something, silence the critical voice that shouts out first. Have a good laugh. Then go into problem-solving mode and get better organized. By all means, resist the urge to tear your house or car or office apart in your hunt. If you do finally find your lost item, you then will be surrounded by a nightmare of your own making. Instead, laugh, problem-solve and organize! Remember, even professional organizers lose their keys!

Staying Organized: A Mother’s Legacy

It has been a quiet week here in Kilmarnock, Virginia, in the aftermath of my step-father’s death. I’ve been here to make funeral arrangements and support my mother as she comes to grips with the biggest loss of her life.

As is my habit, I’ve watched my mother move through her days both with curiosity and concern. Mom is not only grieving the loss of the love of her life, she is showing signs of dementia. The most obvious sign is poor short-term memory. I’ve been preparing myself for further decline by reading The 36 Hour Day by Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins, a book about dealing with dementia. I know it’s possible that over time she will eventually forget how to do even the simplest of tasks. I dread that time.

My mom has always been very organized. At the moment, for the most part, she still is. It has been comforting to watch her move through her days maintaining order in her lovely home. When she opens mail, she routinely throws away the opened envelopes and junk mail. As she moves from the den to the kitchen, she picks up used glasses and plates to put in the dishwasher. She regularly clears cluttered surfaces, stating that she just doesn’t like to have too much stuff around. Maintaining order is a way of life for her. I am so grateful to have learned the lessons of how to get and stay organized from her. I feel sad when I think about the possibility of her losing that ability to the ravages of dementia.

For now, I take comfort in Mom’s commitment to maintaining order and her ability to tend to her space. What a blessing it is to be her daughter!

Putting Things Away: The Aspirin of Staying Organized

What can happen when you don't put things away!

Are you a person who routinely puts things away when you’ve finished using them? Or, are you a person that uses something and leaves it where it landed when you were finished using it? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess which person would be most challenged with staying organized. Regularly putting things away as you move through your day is one of the most important behaviors necessary for staying organized.

 What is the benefit of putting things away?

  • You restore visual order. An orderly space is peaceful and feels good. It has positive energy.
  • You snuff out a bud of clutter. Anything left out of place immediately creates a negative energy that will attract more of the same. Once one thing is left out, it’s much easier to leave other things out.
  • You’ll be able to find the item when you need it.
  • You maintain order in your space and a sense of control in your life.

Why doesn’t a person put things away?

  • You were never taught the habit of routinely putting things away. It is a habit to use something and leave it where you last used it. It is also a habit to use something and put it away!
  • You have attentional issues that keep you bouncing from one task to another, leaving object litter in your wake.
  • You haven’t created a home for the item. There is no place to put it away.
  • The home you created is not convenient enough given how often you use the object.
  • The home you created has become so cluttered that putting it away is a hassle.
  • Putting things away seems boring to you.
  • You are rushing and putting an item away will take time you don’t think you have.

I could go on and on with reasons why people don’t put things away. Whatever the reason, you pay a heavy price when you neglect to regularly put things away. Over time you create your own nightmare of clutter and chaos in your space.

Putting things away is a behavior over which you have complete control. It can take only seconds to do if you’ve created convenient homes for everything. Being faithful to the behavior requires self-discipline, but it is one of the best ways to stay organized and directly correlates with feeling in control in your life.

Watch yourself today. Are you taking those extra few seconds (yes, seconds, not minutes) to put things away when you are finished using them? Remember, your peace of mind, stress level, productivity and success are affected by what you choose to do. Make putting things away a priority every day! If regularly putting things away isn’t a habit, make it the next habit you acquire in your effort to stay organized, manage stress, and have the life you really want.