Professional Organizers Are Just Like You & Me

For the last year the corner on an upper-floor of our home has become a dumping ground. Before it was a usable space; my personal work and storage space, a desk with paperwork, my husband’s record collection, house administration and mementos. Last October when we re-configured and upgraded an area of our living room to include a new work space for myself, storage units and an entertainment system, the renovation resulted in moving “temporarily” all audio and video equipment, CDs and videos upstairs.  Our intention was to re-home it all after the renovation.

Well, a year on and that hasn’t happened. We were conscious of what we added to the new storage units, what I moved into my downstairs work space. We didn’t want to clutter the space we just spent months designing. So there stood everything upstairs, collecting dust, being neglected. And as the months rolled by items that had no home or were part of another project began to pile up. I walked by this space every time I went upstairs. It irritated me that the rest of our home was neat and tidy, yet if I wanted to use the printer it required careful footing and a balancing act ensuring the piles didn’t tumble. It was a growing irritation that appeared to only affect me, my husband appeared to be clutter-blind to the situation.

It has been a year since the renovation and I’ve had enough. To me, this is a useless, waste of space, cluttered with useless, outdated items. I had to take action.

The take away:

  • It takes a vision/purpose to motivate for the what the space should be used for. Just tidying alone will not keep it tidy. If it is considered a dumping ground then it will remain a dumping ground, no matter how tidy the piles are. So I re-imagined the space as a music corner for my husband. He has a large record collection and a stereo system silently collecting dust. He also has no individual space for himself in the home.
  • It takes time. Over two afternoons I moved and rearranged furniture, configured the new music station, sorted through piles of paperwork (so much went into the recycling bin), and re-homed several items. In total, I spent more than six hours re-organizing. Limit the time you commit to your organizing project to save energy and avoid decision fatigue. Start with 30-minute intervals and build from there.
  • You will have to make lots of decisions rapidly. And it will be exhausting, that is decision fatigue. It hasn’t been used in a year, should I keep it? Will we use this? Do we love it? How many art projects of my children should I keep? Do I like all these photographs?
  • You will get distracted. As you sort you will discover a myriad of projects to complete. I found piles of photographs and albums, my children’s art projects, computer cables and accessories, furniture parts and manuals.  Don’t fall into the trap and be distracted by completing these projects, no matter how small or how quick you might think they will take to complete.
  • You can’t throw away possessions that aren’t yours. We own a large CD collection, on top of the records, and I wanted to downsize the storage. We’ve gone digital, but we are not yet ready to let go of our collection. Despite saving the CD along with the inner sleeve my husband was rather disappointed when I trashed the jewel cases of his CDs. I saw less storage space; he saw a less valuable collection for his rarer CDs.
  • You will find outdated appliances or materials. I found a Walkman CD player and a tape collection. My smartphone plays my digital music and tapes went out of vogue in the 1990s. Technology changes rapidly, but our willingness to let go over our investments is much harder. What is the current value of holding on to these items?
  • There will be a (large) pile that needs to go to the charity shop and recycling center. Schedule this in your agenda and action it ASAP. The point of the organization project was to get rid of the piles. Leaving this too long will lead to the broken window syndrome, the piles will attract new piles. You will end up back to where you started, losing the time and space you gained.
  • Everything needs to find a home. Re-home every item in the current space you are re-organizing or somewhere else in your home. If it you can’t, then most likely it needs to leave the home.

When you look around your home do you see unfinished projects?  What you need is the help of a professional organizer, a person who can:

  • help you see the big picture
  • clear your space of clutter and unnecessary distractions
  • focus on the right priorities for your family and home
  • find more effective organizing solutions

If you are struggling to decide where to start, Melissa, a professional organizer, can help. Whether it be addressing clutter, storage inefficiencies or preparing for a move or renovation, Melissa will work with you to find the solutions that work best for you and your home so that you can move forward.

Thumbs-down Facebook

emojis FB

This week Facebook rolled out new emoji icons for mobile users, adding six alternative responses to the classic “Like,” thumbs-up. My initial response was the opposite of “Like,” though I couldn’t at first put my finger (or thumb) on why I was having such a strong negative response to a small change that most users seemed to have been wanting for some time. 

It was only after I looked at Facebook from the perspective of my business (as a professional organizer) that I realized why I dislike the new emojis so much: these seemingly innocuous new options are just a further disruption/impediment to the order and calm I try to instill each day in my own life and the lives of my clients.

Let me tell you why.

  1. Clutter.  Many of us only consider the clutter we experience in our physical surroundings but, increasingly, it is our virtual environments that threaten to overwhelm us. We are bombarded each day with an excess of media, images and words, an assault which our brains struggle to continuously process. From a design perspective, I appreciate that Facebook has thus far kept its digital presence clean and streamlined. The logo is simple, the color scheme soothing (blue, grey, white, black) and the user interface restricted for the benefit of uniformity. The addition of additional instant responses opens the door to future modification and personalized configurations, and the possibility of losing that streamlined tidiness that keeps virtual clutter at bay.
  2. Choices.  Mark Zuckerberg himself said:  “I do think it’s important to give people more options than just ‘like’.”  Well, now we have six new options. Will this be it, or will Facebook add another six in a few months’ time? Will we continue to request more and more elaborate emojis to use as shortcuts, so that eventually modern language is reduced to merely a string of symbols? Facebook is a platform for connectivity to other people, albeit virtual, and within that framework we should strive to communicate meaningfully with each other. The choice to use emojis rather than express ourselves with words abruptly shortcuts much of the conversation we may have with each other in order to explain and support those simple “Likes”.
  3. Decisions.  Now instead of just a simple “Like” we will have to take more time to decide if our response warrants a more emotional icon and, if so, which emoji represents that best. It feels like there are just too many options. Before the new emojis, the decision was simple:  “Like” it if it sparked something in you, ignore and move to the next post if nothing resonated. Now you have the option to decide to respond to everything with love, extreme joy, sadness, anger. That feels like an emotional rollercoaster I will decide not to jump on.

We can continue to ask our social media outlets for more customization, more personalization, and more options. But ask yourself:  is more always better? Or is the “more” sometimes actually offering me less?