Making it Personal

As I was contemplating starting my new business, the first thing I felt I had to do was get a name and a logo.  I thought about this for weeks, looking up names on GoDaddy.com, and running them through my mind.  I thought of several, only to strike out on the name search.  Finally, I found and settled on a name for my professional organizing business - Magnolia Organizing.   This name search delayed my ability to market myself for a few weeks as I went through these decisions.  And I am not alone.  I have seen this phenomenon occur over and over again as I have mentored others.  Many folks take weeks to decide on a name, spend time developing a logo, work on branding colors and printed material. 

I did all of that, and now I am transitioning my business to my personal brand at Beth W. Smith.  I still do local professional organizing, because I love the 1:1 interactions that hands on-coaching affords.  But because I want a bigger voice and platform, I have added my Woman Reinvented Podcast and business coaching/public speaking to my offerings.  So, I have transitioned toward personal branding for myself.  Because it makes more SENSE. 

I want to encourage you to think about developing a personal brand for yourself.   And yes, your social media strategist and graphic designer may be horrified, but please hear me out. 

I know, I know, you have seen Instagram feeds with 10K pictures of the same girl in different outfits – this is NOT what I’m talking about.  I am talking about being the VOICE of, the FACE of and the PASSION behind what you are doing. Or just the life that you are leading (for now). 

I have to tell you, I was not raised to run a personal brand. In fact, it can feel very narcissistic to be selling yourself.  When I started on this path, it felt self-serving and just “out there”. 

But in today’s climate, I’m convinced that personal branding is the way to go.  Here are the top reasons you should consider this strategy:  

1.       If you are in corporate you can work under the umbrella of your corporate job.  No one need ever know that you are working on personal branding for yourself if done under the guise of developing your corporate brand.  If you do this work it a) paves the way for the opportunity to do consulting b) paves the way to find a new (better!) job c) if you are inclined to write, blog or speak on career-centric topics, you can inexpensively do a “Boost Post” on Facebook to find folks in your particular niche.  I read of an up and coming executive that spends $3/day boosting his posts.  He says it’s one of the best strategies he’s implemented for his career.  Just think, if I had known about this years ago when I was in corporate and I started boosting my posts, my life would have been so different.  Unfortunately, I only saw Facebook as a personal platform – please learn from my mistakes!

2.       If you are starting your own business – Branding your business under your own name simplifies your social media (which is becoming more and more complicated) and allows you to pivot.  Can you tell me that this business you are starting is where you will end up?  Are you sure you will be doing the same thing in 18 months or 5 years?  If your business evolves you need not change a thing if it is under your personal brand.  Think of the big businesses that have evolved but suffer from a branding problem.  Overstock is the one that comes to mind for me.  They started out AS an overstock company and now spend valuable commercial time explaining how they are NOT what their name implies.  Do you want to do that?  Lastly, if you are a multi-passionate individual and have various outlets you’d like to explore and offer to your audience, branding under your name makes the most sense.  Think of Martha Stewart – she sells us a large variety of items under her brand.  She has magazines, TV shows, personal appearances… all under her personal brand.   And they all make sense because hey, Martha Stewart!    

3.       Personal branding simplifies your social media feed.  And we need anything that simplifies social media.  If you choose this route, you only have to be YOU.  In your personal branding you can combine family, your passions and work together in one. 

4.       The tactic of personal branding is genius, if you are “hiding” your side hustle from your boss.  Invite everyone appropriate that you meet in your job onto your personal branding feed.  Folks who know and trust you are the start of your new business/career when you leave.  Caveat: if you are under a non-solicitation situation, social media followers can get a bit sticky.  I am not an attorney and cannot give you legal advice here.  Be smart, be aggressive,  but be aware of your employment situation.

Some personal branding strategies you might recognize: 

a.       Stars – their name is first, movies and businesses second.  Now you can leverage your own personal brand as stars have been doing for years.

b.       Designers – Vera Wang, Michael Kors, for instance.  Are their products actually more expensive to produce?  Probably not, but you buy the NAME with an expectation of quality and design.  And they make boatloads of money off their NAME. 

c.       Book Authors – After you read one book, you look for others by their name.  You know a Steven King book is going to be scary, and a Dan Brown book is probably going to be about solving puzzles.  Brene Brown is going to talk about vulnerability. 

d.       Radio Talk Show Hosts – Whether you love them or hate them, their NAME is far stronger than their show label.  Because the show name may change, but their message is going to be similar no matter what the outlet.   

So what is the result?  If you build a personal brand that is strong enough, you become an influencer in your space.  And then you can SOAR!  An organizer friend of mine worked on her Insta stories daily and surprised herself by gaining a following of 25K people.  Then a local boutique reached out to her to model some of their outfits.  With a feed of 25K, the sky is the limit for this young professional, depending on how she chooses to leverage that influence.   

Here’s the problem.  It’s never been easier to jump on social media and start your personal brand.  But because EVERYONE can do it, there is a lot of noise.  And honestly, a lot of poorly executed feeds, Insta Stories, and Facebook stories are springing up everywhere.    You’ll have to start, and you won’t be very good, but if you work strategically, you can build your voice and if you pay attention you can get better.  The key is just to START.  And then LEARN.  (Hint, Insta Stories only last 24 hours, so this is a good place to start and then let your rough beginnings disappear!)   

Here are some clues:  Your Social Media is NOT HOW TO CONTENT.  I can Google anything I want to learn how to do – in fact, how do you think we built our tiny house?  YouTube was our best friend.  Your MISSION and PASSION and PERSONALITY are going to be what people follow NOT your content.  Scary, huh? 

Biggest tip I can offer:  Organize your social media calendar by week, or quarter or year… then repurpose repurpose, repurpose.  In another post we will explore exactly what your content needs to be and how you can structure it. And no, I’m not a social media strategist, but I am learning from the best of the best.   

Favorite book on the subject:  Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk.  Go get this book, it will change your life! 

What I'm Passionate About

Someone asked me this week to post in a Facebook group what I am passionate about and while that is something I think about a lot, it hit me squarely in the face today. What am I REALLY passionate about? I mean other than my family, my country, the ability to live in a free society where I can VOTE. 


What am I really passionate about? I’m passionate about women (and men) living their fullest life for as long as they want to live it. I’m passionate about women disappearing, hiding in the background, hiding inside ourselves because as we get older, suddenly we don’t want to be seen. Why is that? Why is it somehow is unseemly for us to be visible? We hide behind weight, we hide on the beach in shorts or capris so folks won’t see our wrinkles or our fat, we quit getting our pictures taken because we have wrinkles – we look weird to ourselves so we must look weird to others. And video – OMG forget it!

I’m passionate about the fact that we are treated differently in the workforce, and I’m really passionate about the fact that age discrimination is a thing that corporations are proud of. I’m passionate about the fact that if you are a woman over 50 in the corporate world, you almost have no chance of changing jobs and if you do, you have to expect to make 20% less in your new job (yep, this is real look it up!).

I’m passionate about the fact that our value is minimized by male executives in the workforce and that minimization is allowed by women leaders in the workforce because they are struggling to survive there, too.

I’m passionate about telling the stories of successful women who have bucked the system, won the race, earned the right to sit at any table they want to. I don’t have a chip on my shoulder, I don’t have the “poor me syndrome”, because my corporate run was pretty successful and I will find great success in my new life, too. But I love the stories, and I want to share them so others can follow and others can learn to play the game…or better yet beat them at their own game. Yep, that’s me. I am a now a professional organizer and educator by day and a Podcaster by night. I’d love to know (and share?) your story, too

An Uncluttered Holiday

As professional organizers, particularly when we are helping folks downsize or declutter their home, we see how hard gifts are to give up.  Even if the gift was not to their liking, doesn’t fit, doesn’t go with the color of the room, folks often have a hard time parting with these items.   This year, with a little planning you can create Holiday gifts that won’t sit in a closet, box or bag.  We’ve tried to offer a wide price range and a wide variety of ideas to cover various interests:  

1.       A Manicure/Pedicure, otherwise known as a Mani-Pedi.   This is a great gift for Mom or sis, but even more fun if you can make it a family affair (and, hey, guys go to nail salons, too!)

2.       “Tea” At Your Local Ladies Restaurant.  For the ladies in your life, most love a trip to the local luncheon hot spot. The day after Christmas might be a perfect day to slip away for a quiet break.

3.       A Massage.  There aren’t too many folks that would turn down a massage.  The prices are reasonable these days.  But if you have someone who seems to forget to take care of herself, rather than provide a conventional gift certificate, make the day truly memorable by booking her appointment and taking her to the massage studio.  You might even join her. 

4.       A Facial.  While a close companion of the massage, this might be a better option for those who are unable to participate in a massage or have dry or problem skin. 

5.       A Gift Gertificate for a Session with a Professional Organizer.  You didn’t think we’d leave that one out, did you?  Most organizers have various packages.  If Mom or Dad have been complaining about closets, pantry or kitchen cabinets, or they’d just like a little decluttering here or there, a session with a professional organizer might be just the ticket. 

6.       A Football/Hockey/Basketball Game.  There are many folks who would rather to go to a ball game with the kids than to a fancy restaurant. 

7.       Show up for important holiday religious services.   Whatever your faith, there is often nothing more meaningful to the folks who care about you than having you attend traditional services.

8.       A Flower Arrangement.  We often think of flower arrangements when we think of Mother’s Day or birthdays, but what about providing a beautiful arrangement for the holiday table? Rather than an 800 number flower company, try contacting a local florist directly.  You will get a much better product and you will be supporting a local business.  A local florist should be equipped to talk through your custom order and get it delivered if you can’t be there in person.

11.   A House Cleaning Crew.  What a nice surprise to offer Mom a break from housecleaning around the holidays. Mopped floors, clean bathrooms and kitchen might be just the ticket.  Make sure you know if your Mom would appreciate the help. 

12.   A Hobby Day.  Do you know a painter, a scrapbooker?   Find a special class for their interest. Make the arrangements and set it up, it’ll even be more fun if you go, too.  

13.   Breakfast in bed.  It’s hard to go wrong with this one. 

14.   Volunteer together.  Feeding the homeless, picking a name off an Angel Tree, singing carols in the neighborhood. These are memories you will never forget.

15.   Tickets to a Concert. Find out who is coming to town, Harry Connick, Jr., Jimmy Buffett, Michael Buble, Maroon 5, the local symphony, Taylor Swift, and all kinds of music in between are just a few that come to mind.  What a treat if you can find tickets! 

 Well, there you have it, a professional organizer’s clutter-free list for gift giving.  We hope we got your wheels turning about how to honor the idea of gift-giving without adding clutter to the mix.  We know more than the “stuff” you offer,  your family and friends will be delighted that you are honoring them by carefully considering what experiences they might love.

Watch out! Christmas is Coming!

When kids arrive, stuff starts to seep into your house.  They arrive with car seats, pacifiers, stuffed animals (omg, the stuffed animals!) train sets, collections of the newest toy craze, the list goes on and on.  And then birthday parties, Build-A-Bear sales and Holiday gifts add to the piles.  Without a strategy to manage this onslaught parents can quickly become overwhelmed. 

Here are my 7 top tips to keep the kid stuff in line:

1.       Create adequate storage for a reasonable amount of items.  Focus on maximizing closet, playroom, and bedroom storage, utilizing bookshelves, closet shelving, toy cubbies, etc.  Stay away from large toy boxes/large totes as these become black holes to the Island of Misfit Toys. Hint:  Most kids do better with fewer toys and only one type out at a time.   

2.       Decide a maximum load for your storage.  For instance, “the lid must close”, “the books must be standing on end” or “the items on the shelves must be visible” or “we have to be able to close the closet door”.  Sorting Like with Like makes this easier to accomplish. 

3.       You must stay committed.  Once the storage hits the max load, the family must stay committed to keeping the volume of toys at that level by removing the old to accommodate the new.  i.e.:  1 new toy = 1 old toy of similar volume has to go.

4.       Request experiences rather than gifts. I know this is HARD to do and it’s hard to keep well-meaning friends and relatives in line.  Therefore, you’ll have to be the CEO of Inventory Control at your home.   Keep encouraging well-meaning grandparents toward memories, not stuff.  If it does sneak in and you can’t return it for cash, add it into the current process for dealing with toys by using, then purging.  Do not let guilt associated with gifts prevent you from managing your inventory.

5.       Purge and recycle often.  Trash broken toys (no one wants them) and donate gently used items.  Always have a donate box or bin easily accessible and ready to go when filled.  I have always used Goodwill – my kids were trained to say “here’s something for the Goodwill bag”.  I probably made a run or two a month.  As a professional organizer, my volume of Goodwill trips has certainly increased, but thank goodness the stuff is no longer mine.  😊   Note:  Be careful, I think the idea of setting toys aside elsewhere to bring back into rotation has merit, but this is this could be an easy trap...these outlying toys are often forgotten and can quickly become out of control.

6.       Let kids decide.  When I work with families, I ask to work separately with children even as young as 3 or 4.  They are often willing to purge more easily than Mom and Dad.  They usually don’t have an emotional attachment to many items and don’t feel the guilt associated with who purchased the item and how much it cost.  They just know they don’t play with it and are often ready to let it go.  

7.       Discipline yourself to implement a 7-minute bedtime clean up routine.   With all hands on deck, usually the day’s toys can be put away w/in that time frame.  If toys are sorted Like with Like and toy play is limited to one or two toy types at a time, putting things away is easy. For small children, clean up songs make this a fun exercise.  If you don’t have a family clean up song, there are many on YouTube.  Here’s the standard Barney clean up song to get you started:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whrNJH8S-Ys

So that’s it.  Once you and your family agree to limits, the job becomes easy.  It’s just like the garbage, when the can becomes full, you empty it.  If you set the same limits on your house – when your house becomes full, you empty it, then your new clutter-free life with kids can begin. 

Happy livin

What Victoria Secret Knows about Selling Your House

In selling your home it’s all about the marketing.  In retail it’s all about the marketing.  It’s hard to imagine anyone does a better job of visual marketing than Victoria’s Secret.  Their beautifully designed stores lures women (and men!) to linger and shop for that perfect lingerie or scent.  With 27% of the lingerie market, it’s clear Victoria’s Secret knows a thing or two about marketing. 

I popped into a local store this week and was instantly drawn in by custom lighting and dark cabinetry accented by pops of color.  And while selling bras is a complicated process because of the number of colors, sizes and types, this chain has that part DOWN.  Beautifully colored bras are silhouetted against light colored walls and drawers below are organized by color and by size.  Bras in style lines that are featured in the drawers are anywhere from $50 - $200 each.  Discounted items are always a featured in pick through bins – which are always a mess.

Is the beautifully displayed bra in the drawer worth 100-200% more than the bras in the bins?  The labor to create a bra and the tiny bits of fabric aren’t that different.  Of course, it’s the marketing, mostly the presentation.  The ease of finding the right size, displayed beautifully in high-end cabinetry raises the perception of worth.   The same for your house. 

Houses that are staged (I would argue, ORGANIZED) have some pretty amazing statistics. 

  • 81% of buyers say home staging makes it easier to visualize the property as their future home.

  • A survey by Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corp. found that staged homes sell for more than 6% above the asking price

    • The National Association of Realtors found that number to be up to 17%

  • A survey by Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corp. found that staged homes spend half the time on the market than non-staged homes.

So, I’m getting ready to put my house on the market, do I bring in a stager or organizer?  The answer may be “yes”.  I think it depends on your short and long-term goals.   If you look around your house and know that if your old friend from college popped into town, you could host them in your guest room with an hour notice, you probably need a stager to spruce up, depersonalize and decorate.  OR if your house is vacant, you need a stager.   BUT if you have to meet your friend for coffee and put them up at the Holiday Inn nearby because you are embarrassed about all of the “stuff” that is visible and your closets and garage are full, you probably need an organizer.  And then maybe a stager. 

With the average American home coming in at over 350,000 items (yikes!) you are not alone in this situation.  A good organizer will work with you to eliminate extra stuff in your closets, declutter your living spaces and help you make choices about how to sell your house now and just as importantly how to live later.  With magazine ready rooms, organized closets and pantries all over Pinterest these days, your potential buyers want to see that their stuff will fit with ease in these spaces.  We recommend decreasing the items in closets and pantries by 1/3 to 1/2.   And displaying them effectively.  If it makes your house sell in just a few days, how many outfits and meal prep items do you really need for the short-term, anyway?  We also recommend displaying these remaining items beautifully, by color and type or enclosed within beautiful containers.  Think of Victoria’s Secrets marketing strategies.

Usually moving to a new home is exciting – your organizer can help make that new space stay exciting by helping you eliminate the weight of your clutter.  And once you quickly sell your house, can make your move efficient (why pay to move stuff that you are going to throw away when you arrive?)  

Once your house is purged call your Realtor - they can help decide if you need a stager, and depending on your market, may be willing to pay for that staging. 

Happy organizing, happy selling! 

Mom's Office Purge

I had a great time earlier this month with a young mom whose office was her Waterloo. We put several hours into it and pulled this together for her. I know that she’s not the only one struggling with this so I thought I’d knock out a quick office how-to.  

My 8 steps for Office Organizing:

1.       GET MENTALLY PREPARED.   Many folks would just as soon clean their office as be “dragged behind a truck nekked”.   But you can do this.  Mark a date or two on your calendar to tackle this project.  Gather sorting and cleaning supplies including trash bags, turn off the computer, set your phone in another room to prevent interruptions and hit “go”.

2.       POWER SORT ALL OF THE UN FILED PAPER.  Gather 5 or so boxes or baskets.   Label them (sticky notes will do): Bills, Magazines, Correspondence, Taxes, Shred, etc.  Then go through the stacks and sort each item into its proper place AS YOU TOUCH IT.  Don’t get granular here, just put like with like, don’t make judgments, don’t put things in files, just focus on LIKE WITH LIKE.   Set a timer for a reasonable time and hit “go”.  See what you can accomplish in your allotted time frame.  If necessary, reschedule additional timed work sessions for this task.  When done, shred old documents with personal information, remove trash, and set the sorted boxes aside.  That’s it for now.   We’ll get back to these later. 

3.       TACKLE THE OFFICE SUPPLIES.  We’ll apply the same concepts:  Get ALL pens in a stack, all pencils, all cords (careful here, these seem to multiply when you are not looking), all paper sorted into stacks.   Just stick with sorting LIKE WITH LIKE.  By now you probably have discovered dead pens, multiple highlighters, staplers with no staples, etc.  Toss the trash, pare down any multiples to what you could reasonably use in 1 year.  And pitch or donate the rest.  Place the keepers on your desk top in their respective batches (if you have desk drawer dividers, by all means use them, here) and move on. 

4.       HIT THE BOOKSHELVES.  Evaluate each book.  Ask yourself, would I buy this book today?  Have I read or referred to this book w/in the last year? If the answer is “no” may we suggest you donate these out of date dust catchers?  Purge the oldies, dust the shelves and books and celebrate ALL the space for new books you have just created (although we highly recommend digital books to keep clutter to a minimum).   

5.       DISPATCH NON-OFFICEY THINGS. You might discover in your purge that there are items that don’t belong here at all.  Your son’s baseball cards, your daughter’s ballet shoes, your spouse’s left-behind craft supplies.  If at all possible, don’t succumb to the temptation to leave your sorting and deliver these elsewhere. Set each person’s items in a stack (or box or basket) and keep your focus on the office purge. In a perfect world they would come remove these items as necessary.  But you may have to deliver them yourself at the end of the day. 

6.       LET THE FILING BEGIN! I don’t know about you, but I HATE filing.  There are some organizers who specialize in filing, but that is NOT me.  Therefore, I am motivated to eliminate as many pieces of paper as I can.  I encourage all my clients to print as little as possible, file digitally and make sure to have a good digital back up system.  But if you must have pieces of paper, create a filing system that meets your needs.  If you’d prefer, there are several professional ones on the market which are out of scope of this article.  Do a little Googling and decide what works best for you.  Dave Ramsey publishes a list of which items to keep and for how long. https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/organizing-your-important-documents. Some folks find that binders work well for important papers, I prefer all files in a drawer…but you decide what works for you. 

7.       NOW TO CORRAL THE OFFICE SUPPLIES.  If you don’t have storage containers for your office supplies, now is the time to shop.  I like to measure my desks and snap a photo of the measurement with my smart phone.  I also run a tape on top of any supplies and snap another photo.  This way, I can see about what size container they will need.  Don’t forget to measure drawer length, width and height to make sure that the dividers or containers will fit.  I prefer vertical stands/dividers for envelopes and paper for easy access.  I hate digging for that one piece of paper on the bottom of the stack.

8.       GO BUY WHAT YOU NEED TO KEEP THE SORT.  With your measurements in hand, head to Amazon, The Container Store, The Dollar Store, Target, Walmart, Office Depot any one of these places will have paper sorters, drawer dividers, bookends, file folders…you name it.  Don’t go broke here, repurpose what you can, but get your stuff stashed.  Now, maybe you can repurpose a desk lamp, grab some pictures if you need to, a vase of flowers.  Whatever makes you happy and fulfilled after all that hard work. 

Its time now to bask in your success.  After you have put all these items into their new homes and wiped the desk down. Sit and meditate on how well you’ve done. You are organized, neat and tidy.  AND you found those missing tax receipts!   

While we have focused on your home office, your business office can probably use the same love and attention.  A couple of Friday afternoons, or maybe a Saturday morning when it’s quiet should give you enough time to knock out your other office, too.  And hey, you are now a practiced pro!

We Must See

  

I was in a house this week that spoke of sadness and depression, exhibiting itself through disorganization and an “I don’t care” feeling that permeated the house.  If you met this family on the street, you’d never know that there was so much sadness and frustration back at home.  The things that contribute to this sadness won’t go away. But I want them to.   I want to go in and wave my magic organizer’s wand and make it all better. I want to shake them awake and tell them to CARE about life and their home and their family – because they might not have that family in the same way next year.  But depression doesn’t work that way I can’t shake them to fix them. 

Isn’t that what we as organizers try to do?  We try to fix things through making life orderly.  When the world feels chaotic, we strive for order at home.  Because the dissonance outside is loud and messy and challenging we seek the peace of orderly things.  And we want and hope to be able to do that for people who can’t figure out how to have that peace themselves.  We offer our skills, our energy and our emotions into that house, that closet, his garage.  And while we know our success may be transient and understand that no matter how often we clean the house it’s going to be messy again, we do it because we need to, because caring about our people is to offer peace and order, our language of love.

As organizers, when that door is opened to us and we are entrusted with the weight and burden of disorder and chaos, we are honored to share the hopes and dreams of the space, but also the hopes and the dreams of the people that inhabit that space.  And yes, sometimes those hopes and dreams are smashed, broken, stomped on and bruised….

 But we have a problem, sometimes we get so caught up in the work we’ve been asked to do (“see mess, must clean it!”) that we might not actually see that the mess goes farther than the mess, the house mess that is just a symptom of the mess inside.  There were so many clues from the gunman-how did we miss them?  How did we miss his mess inside?  In hindsight, there may have been clues from our young mother, and the family will wonder for years what they didn’t see.  I challenge myself and fellow organizers, and fellow PEOPLE, to SEE people, see people for who they are, see them in spite of how they look, how they dress, how disorganized their house is.  Organizers get glimpses into folks that others rarely see, tonight I pledge to continue to educate myself and be aware when people near me are hurting and do what I can to fight for the support they need. 

7 +1 Laundry Hacks to Save Your Sanity

I have several folks in my family (I’m not naming names, here!) who HATE to do laundry.  They will put that job off until the laundry area is piled high with a mountain of stinky, dirty clothes.  Finally, the marathon  begins but often it is never QUITE done.  And then it all begins again. 

If you are one of those who absolutely hates to do laundry – take heart.  From someone who actually kind of likes it – here are some tips (and my best professional organizer tip as a bonus).

1.        Don’t wash so much.  I know some of you will think this is heresy, but everything you wear does not need to be washed every time.  It’s true!  Your pants and shirts usually can be worn more than once. Towels don’t need washing after each use.  Rule of Thumb:   If it stinks or has spots/stains, then wash.  If not – hang it up or put it away.

2.       Teach kids and spouse rule #1.  It is easier to get Mom, Wife or Hubby to do your laundry for you than to take personal responsibility of that item you are shedding at the end of the day.  Years ago I was staying with a young teen when his parents were out of town.  He wore at least 3 outfits a day and shed each outfit on the floor between changes.  As his stand-in Mom, his expectations were that I’d take care of that for him.  He had to quickly learn Rule #1. Or go naked.  He learned Rule #1.

3.       Big family?  Do a load a day.  Just as you schedule for meals in your life, schedule for that load of laundry.  If possible start it at the same time every day.  If your washer and dryer each take 1 hour to run, start a load when you get up, and throw it in the dryer before you head out the door to work.  Or, start a load just before you start dinner, then pitch it in the dryer afterwards.

4.       Better yet, teach your kids and spouse to do their own laundry once per week.   I know this may seem impossible, but if you start early with your little ones, and make it a game, they can learn.  They love to help mommy, right?  But warning, warning, little fingers will not fold the same way you do.  If you are a bit OCD about your folding, you’ll have to get over it.  Your spouse will also probably not do it the way you would – but hey, that’s OK. 

5.       Buy easy to wash, easy to wear clothes.  Take all the others to the dry cleaners. 

6.       Don’t forget to get the wash into the dryer.  Set a timer on your phone as a reminder.  I can’t tell you how many times I have seen soured laundry due to a forgotten load of wash.  And folks, that smell is HARD to get out.  (I have had success with 1 cup of baking soda added to the re-wash load.)

7.       Fold and put away.  DON’T FORGET THIS PART! So many folks get the clothes out of the dryer and that’s where it stops. Piles of clean clothes become piles of wrinkled, dirty clothes when they are on the sofa and on the floor and then they have to be re-washed!  If you struggle here,  try this, make a commitment to yourself to put that laundry AWAY while you are throwing the laundry into the washer.  Visualize and affirm all those neat little piles of clean smelling laundry tucked away in their drawers for the night.  (I know that sounds crazy, but it works!) 

+1.       And lastly, my best laundry trick.  If number 6 (above) is your Waterloo, and you are looking at a new washer/dryer combo, look into the “new” all-in-one washer/dryer units.  These products are common in Europe, but have had some difficulty catching on here.   There are some upgraded products on the market that offer you a single unit space-saving machine that is easy to install (no special wiring and no dryer venting) and the efficiency of one machine that does it all.  The Kicker: You never have to worry about transferring laundry from one machine to another ever again.  We just purchased a new, small LG model that works wonderfully for our family.  They also offer a full-sized version.  Be sure to evaluate the Pros and Cons of this system for your family but I give it a big thumbs up.  (We are not sponsored by LG but we wish we were!)

  1. Do you have any other laundry tricks you can share?  Feel free to add them in the comments below.  

ARE YOU TOO EMBARRASSED TO CALL AN ORGANIZER?

Your finger is poised over your phone dial, you really want/need an organizing intervention, but you keep hesitating.  When you are finally honest with yourself, you realize you are embarrassed to have anyone, PARTICULARLY someone who specializes in neat and tidy spaces see your unneat and untidy spaces. 

Let me reassure you. 

NO, IT’S NOT THE WORST WE’VE SEEN

Believe me, we’ve Seen. It. All.  For most organizers the sight of a “mess” is energizing – we want to get our hands on it and well, you know, ORGANIZE IT.  We want to help you get your house in shape, we also are on a mission to help you understand and solve your clutter issues and find the FREEDOM that eliminating clutter can offer.  So yeah, it may be a mess, but that’s what we are here for.  We are also in the business of forgiveness.  We’ll forgive you if you promise to forgive yourself. 

WE DON’T EXPECT PERFECTION

We figure if you are calling an organizer it’s because you need one.  So, don’t rush through the house in a panic the day before we come.  Don’t scream at the kids to pull their rooms together and don’t run your hubby out of the house as you make a mad dash through the house with mop and bucket in hand.  It is better for us to see the real you, the real way you live and the real challenges you face.  Just be yourself, we’ll probably like you just fine that way.

WE STRUGGLE TOO

Many organizers are doing what they are doing because they were once where you are.  But we slip, too.  Today I am working on my shed office or my “shoffice”.  Over the last few months we have moved most of the items out into our new house and I’ve been too busy being out and about to spend too much time there. Now – it’s a mess!  It’s not just cluttered, but it’s dirty, it is stacked with junk, unorganized and in need of a COMPLETE overhaul.  As an organizer, I know better than to let it get in that shape, but life happens…and boy did it happen here.  Would I have been embarrassed to have anyone see it that way?  Sure.  Would it have been worth a little ego bruise to call in help?  Absolutely!  Unfortunately, since much of this stuff needs purging decisions, I can’t delegate it, but I wish I could.  So I soldier on.

IT'S OK TO HATE THIS KIND OF THING - IT'S NOT FOR EVERYONE

Don’t worry, we got this.  The expectation that you have to work along-side your organizer is fantasy.  A garage is a garage, a kitchen is a kitchen, kids rooms have many of the same organizing tasks.  Your organizer can wrestle many of your items into place without you.  BUT if your home is sorely in need of purging and significant decluttering, you and your organizer will have to work out a plan for that.  Maybe you do an initial purge and save questionable items for review during the last 20 minutes of your organizing session. Maybe you are available for text communication during the day.  Find what works, remember, you can just let your organizer organize so you don’t have to.  Blessed relief.

 

IT'S OK TO ADMIT YOU DON'T HAVE THE SKILLS

Some folks are better at this than others.  I’ll be blunt.  Having you work alongside can either help or hinder a project.  This usually depends on your ability to make decisions and your emotional attachment to the items under review.  Of course, having you working with us gives an extra set of hands and easy access for decision making.  We can crank on some music and knock this out together.  You’ll probably feel empowered and exuberant as you see the project take shape.  We are happy to teach you what we know, BUT a word of warning – we work HARD.  So buckle up. 

MAYBE YOU HATE YOURSELF BECAUSE YOU THINK YOU'VE MESSED UP?

If you have clothes with tags on that you’ve never worn, or they don’t fit, or way too many toys, books, clothes, cosmetics, kid’s toys (stuffed animals!), items that you have no idea where they came from…it’s OK. Forgive yourself and let’s move on.  Your organizer can help you take items to a consignment store, donate things to a good cause, and may be able to help you understand how you got here in the first place.  And yep, I'll say it again. we hope she will be able to help you realize it’s OK to forgive yourself.  (But I promise, they will try to help you stop from doing it again.)

WE CAN HELP YOU MAKE THE DECISIONS NECESSARY

Your organizer will offer you tough love.  She will help you work through your clutter decision making processes and will probably push you toward eliminating clutter through those decisions.  She’ll be your cheerleader and will celebrate with you as you learn how easy it can become to let it go. 

YOU ARE PROBABLY NOT A HOARDER

Some days you might look around and wonder if you are heading down that path,   but truly most folks are not hoarders, they are just overwhelmed and maybe not making the best choices about “stuff”. You'll be amazed at how much easier it becomes to purge and declutter with a little bit of direction and a seasoned teammate.    BUT If your organizer suspects you are a hoarder, they might realize they are not a match for you.  If that is the case, they usually can refer you to someone who has the proper training.  For you, the first step to getting past this issue is calling for help.  We can help you evaluate your options.  If we decline you as a client, please do not be offended, it is because we want you to get the RIGHT help.  

So, what are you waiting for?  Reach for that phone, change your life.

Who Am I and Why and I Here?

I STARTED EARLY

As a kid, my mom insisted that we make our beds and keep our rooms neat.  We were a military family so keeping a neat home was an expectation that we weren't given the option to argue about.  As  teen, my bedroom was probably messy from time to time, but in my family we put our clothes in the hamper, made our beds and put things away.  As a little girl, when I dreamed about my happily ever after, I never imagined it as anything but perfect.  A perfect little house, that was perfectly neat. 

LET THE CLUTTER BEGIN

Well, I grew up, got married, had kids and the clutter struggle began.  Toys, diapers, portable cribs and high chairs were now the norm.  Toddler/kid clutter later turned into teen clutter: books, DVDs, CDs, lots and lots of clothes...which meant we needed a bigger house.  We upgraded.  We bought stuff.  Three corporate long-distance moves helped eliminate some of the clutter, but when I accepted a VP position back home in Atlanta, we got a big house with a pool.  We looked around and realized we need more OF EVERYTHING.  About that time we discovered the fun of auctions.  At auction we bought Persian carpets, concrete pool statues, awesome chandeliers...you get the idea. 

I was traveling 4 to 5 days per week while managing a $20,000,000 contract load.   I had the corporate title, money and trappings, but I was working in a job that I hated, to buy things for a house that was too big, so we could impress people that never had time to visit.  I felt suffocated by the stuff and the responsibility to maintain it all.

SOMETHING HAD TO GIVE

An avid reader, I started delving into self-help books and began to understand why I was unhappy.  I realized that I needed to simplify my life and simplify my spaces, as I am happiest when I am in an orderly, simple environment.  I finally understood that too much visual noise drained my energy.  Further, the quest for "more" was keeping me trapped in an unhealthy work environment. 

HERE'S THE HAPPY PART

So, I decided to change.  I changed careers, I changed my living environment, and I changed how I look at the items I chose to put in our home.  I decided to forgive myself for buying too many clothes.  I decided that we could clear out the garage of my excesses so we could park in it again, I also realized that my mom had the right of it all along in her simple daily strategies for life:  make the bed, put your clothes in the hamper, don't buy more than you need.  

Now I make a living helping others do the same.  Using the management and organizational skills I learned in the corporate world and pulling from my own personal experiences, I focus on creating systems to make life work better.  I also have the privilege of tackling important life-changing moves AND I help families find the peace and joy of an organized space that WORKS.  Oh, I also help folks forgive themselves for buying that concrete pool statue (I kept mine and put her to good use, but THAT's another story).