Ideas for a Simple, Clutter-Free Life
Emotions in the Wings
With any organizing project, you may be surprised to feel a lot of emotions rushing in—both about the items you’re sorting through and your past habits. There may be strong feelings and emotions attached to certain items. As you make decisions about whether or not to keep these items, try to stay practical when at all possible. Take a picture of items before throwing them away, if it helps. As Leist tells her clients, “The meaning is in the memory, not in the memorabilia.”
Signore says it’s also common to be overwhelmed and embarrassed at how far things have gone. “They feel like they’ve failed, but in most cases, they’ve just never learned how to organize before,” she says.
For Lois, a mother, wife and lawyer, organizing was a time-consuming process. “My entire life needed organizing,” says Lois. “I delegated assignments to my children to cull their belongings and clothing.” She assigned each family member a responsibility and kept a checklist visible to ensure the tasks were completed. This kind of delegating can keep things streamlined and process-oriented, instead of random and emotional.
People Do This for a Living
If you don’t have family and friends close by, or you’re feeling completely overwhelmed, you may want to consider hiring a professional organizer. Lots of people do it—it doesn’t mean you’re a failure.
Judith Kolberg, founder of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization and owner of FileHeads Professional Organizers in Decatur, GA, prepares her clients for getting organized. “We’re probably going to take things apart before putting them back together, so we can see what you have and what you need,” says Kolberg.
Pat and Frank, a married couple from Blauvelt, NY, decided to use a professional organizer when they moved into a new, smaller house. The couple had been married for almost 40 years, and a lot of stuff had accumulated in that time. “Using an organizer made the chore of downsizing a lot easier,” says Frank. “He helped us organize our closets, cabinets and drawers.”
If you can't afford to have someone come in and get you going, try some organizing tips or check out some books at your local library or bookstore. There are also tons of web sites out there! You can learn lots from the pros, even if you can't get one into your home.