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Meryl Starr on Getting Organized
Meryl Starr, organizing expert and personal consultant, is the author of various books on organizing, including the Home Organizing Workbook and Home Organizing Planner. She also runs her own business, Let’s Get Organized, and is a feature writer for Women’s Day, Shape, Ladies’ Home Journal and InStyle Home magazines. Starr shares her thoughts on getting organized.
Why should people organize their lives?
When you’re not organized, your time is filled up with trying to find things. Being organized lifts the stress automatically out of your life—it’s fantastic. Once you’re more organized, you can spend more time enjoying life, having fun and doing things you enjoy, instead of playing catch-up all the time.
What feelings can people expect when they’re first getting organized?
People get stressed, and they may feel fear and guilt. There’s a lot of, “I can’t do this,” “It’s too difficult,” or “I’m afraid.”
How do you help them move beyond these fears?
I try to be very calm and nonjudgmental. I get to know my clients, so I know when to push them and when to be delicate, based on their situations. I help my clients get over their fears by getting them started on projects. Starting with a small project will motivate them to move on.
What are the common questions people ask at the beginning of the organizing process?
Everyone says to me, “You’ve probably never seen anything like this before.” Then they ask: “What should I do?” “Where do I get started?” “How am I going to do this?” And always, “Will you come back?”
What are the most essential things to do during the first 30 days of getting organized?
Once you make the commitment, you need to visualize what you want your outcome to be. Then, it’s important to make a commitment as to how much time you’ll spend each day organizing. And it has to be doable; I’d rather my clients take 20 minutes a day to organize, than to say they’ll take two hours a day but not do it. You also want to start getting rid of the clutter.
Explain the “philosophy of simplicity” discussed in your book.
The philosophy is that once you have a simpler life, you don’t have the stress of worrying about the clutter. These days, everybody has so much stuff, which creates stress. Personally, I think it’s time for people to simplify. Think about how much you really need in regards to things like clothes or children’s toys.
How does this philosophy help people get organized?
If you don’t have as much stuff, it’s easier to maintain. For example, if you simplify the number of pots and pans you have in your kitchen, only keeping what you need, maintaining an organized kitchen will be easier.
What’s the first thing a person should do on the path to organization?
Get rid of the clutter. Clutter is anything that you don’t love or need; it can be an object, a relationship or even a thought. If something feels good when it’s in your presence, it’s not clutter. If it doesn’t, then it is clutter, and you should get rid of it. Getting rid of the clutter can cut your stuff in half; then you can begin to organize.
If a person can only commit to organizing one part of his or her life, what should it be?
That’s personal, based on each individual. I think you should commit to what’s disturbing you the most. Starting with something small is good, because you can accomplish it, and it gives you incentive to move on to something bigger.
Do you believe being organized leads to a happier life?
It works for me. Life seems to flow a little bit easier when you’re more organized.
What things can people do to stay successfully organized?
Put things back where they came from. Don’t bring unnecessary things into your life. If someone gives you a gift you don’t need, give it away. Only bring into your life what you love.
What is the belief you personally go to during times of change?
I think change is fantastic. I think we always need to look at change as positive. Even if it doesn’t always seem that way, it’s always for our benefit. We need to trust when something is changing and go with it
The best thing about change is…
…that it’s a new experience.
What is the best change you have ever made?
Getting divorced. I don’t mean it in a negative way, but it really was the best thing I’ve ever done, as far as change.
For more information on Meryl Starr, visit www.merylstarr.com.