Based on a recommendation for a professional organizer, Eugenie contacted me about her friend Linda. Her charming, old farmhouse was very full with two houses’ worth of furniture, plus she might benefit from some de-cluttering. We wrote back and forth about how to best help Linda.
After receiving Eugenie’s check for several sessions and some more exchanged emails, Linda and I scheduled our first session. It would be mid-day on a beautifully bright, though very cold, day.
We looked around the first floor. I asked what was bugging her most. Her answer – her upstairs bedroom, but she was concerned that I would be shocked and put off by it. I told her that I’ve seen many situations that could use some attention. Not to worry!
Once upstairs, we started with her dresser. We cleared, then she dusted it. Success!
Next, we started on some piled books, magazines, etc., on the floor next to her bed. Making a good start with it, our time was then used up. We likely would return to it during our next session together.
Natalie and Tom would soon welcome friends who often stay with them to ski. This time, the wife in the couple would stay in one of their guest rooms, recovering from double knee replacement surgery. Her husband would sleep in another guest room, close by.
As Natalie had indicated, I arrived to find the bed covered with neatly folded clothes. She was sure about parting with some, though we would discuss other items.
We carefully looked at all. She graciously decided to donate some to SCHIP’s Treasure Resale Shop, an interfaith program’s second-hand shop in Shelburne, VT. All of its sale proceeds benefit needy families and individuals in Shelburne, Charlotte and Hinesburg. I offered to drop off her contributions to SCHIP’s on the way home, and to send a tax deduction receipt for her taxes.
With a scratchy throat and a cold coming on, Natalie helped load donations into my car, and promised to send a photo of the bed, once it was made.
She found De-clutter me! online. Renee left a somewhat anxious-sounding voicemail message. She mentioned family visitors and having been ill. Two rooms needed help. I called back, we chatted and scheduled a “double session” day – three morning hours, a break, then three more hours in the afternoon.
She called at 7.00 on the scheduled morning. She was ill, including with a fever of 101. We rescheduled and I urged her not to worry. Better to concentrate on feeling better, and we’d get it all done soon.
I arrived on a Saturday morning that was changing from rainy to glorious. She lives in a sweet second-floor apartment within a farmhouse surrounded by gorgeous gardens. Her landlady has a good eye, and is a talented gardener. Farther afield are some 150 acres of the family farm.
We strategized. She wanted to clear the guest room, moving some items to the storage room. (There’s no basement or attic space.) First, we would have to conquer the clutter in the storage room. We hauled from the garage two shelving units, discussing how they would best use space in the room, while allowing air flow from its two windows. We placed on them holiday decorations and wrapping, a printer and scanner, photos, winter clothes, and various other items. With the center of the room clear, she may even be able to do yoga there!
We brought some items from the guest room across the hall, then worked on it. We cleared floor space and the bed.
It was a very good start. She will be able to confidently welcome her visiting family. Tired, though smiling broadly and hugging me as I leaving, she called me an angel. Aw, shucks…
They’re a busy family – two professional parents, two teenagers. This time, the husband and dad of the family and I cleared a corner of the bedroom, in front of a dresser, then between it and another one. Then, the wife and mom joined us. Together, we three started to develop a filing system for their bills and other financial statements.
When we’re together next, we’ll work more on the new filing system.
Liam is a bright, engaging and pleasant teenager. Busy with school and sports, keeping his room neat isn’t his highest priority. In our first session, we started with the space behind the door. Next, we neatened his dresser. He really wanted to keep the “display” of shoe boxes next to it. How could I resist his sweet smile?
After that, we cleared the corner floor space, then rearranged the table next to his bunk beds.
When time allows, we’ll tackle the corner at the foot of the bunk beds and his closet.
She’s a busy wife, mother and professional. We had worked together in the spring, in the office nook of the master bedroom. She works at home. We’d planned to work again, when time allowed. The summer got busy, complicated by a car accident. She needed time to recover. Also, her father-in-law passed away, requiring travel.
When I returned, it was clear that we would have to revisit clearing her desk. It was understandable. She was doing the best she could. Plus, at the end of a workday, if there was a chance to get out onto the lake aboard the family boat, wouldn’t that be more fun than clearing off her desk for the next day? Also, it could boost her spirits as she continued to feel better.
That repeat “visit” completed, with her acknowledging how much better she felt about the desk, we moved to her dresser. We cleared its top, adding treasures to the roomy and well-designed jewelry box.
With our remaining session time, we cleared a bedroom corner and organized her bedside table. We placed books on the floor, so she would have them nearby.
In our next session, we would continue working our way around the room.
She is a busy wife, mother of two active teenaged sons, and working professional. The large master bedroom in the family home has space for her office and a treadmill. Horizontal surfaces and the floor collected clutter. I suggested starting in a corner and working our way around the room.
Next to the printer, we cleared a table where her sons sometimes like to do homework and be near their mother as she works. We added printed obsolete work and school information to the scrap paper file and created other new files.
After that, on a tall dresser, we coiled some electronics cords. On the floor, we collapsed boxes for recycling, put some other things into the trash, and separated items bought online for return.
In our next session, we will continue on our path around the room.
Amelia shares a rented house with two other people. Her bedroom must provide space for sleep, meditation and music practice, since she’s in a band.
In our first session, while getting acquainted and planning what we would accomplish together, we focused on clearing the floor and meditation area. We talked about files to end paper build-up. In another session, we created an organization system in her closet, using storage bins and baskets she already had. The next time, we discussed finances.
With her goal of attending a dear friend’s wedding, which will require plane travel across several time zones, I suggested that she open a savings account specifically for trips. Adhering to a strict weekly cash budget and “allowance” might help her curb non-essential spending. Anything left over could be deposited into the trips savings account.
We devoted part of our most recent session to scheduling. By writing down where she must be and when, since she also has two jobs and other activities, it cleared some of Amelia’s mental clutter. She looked very relieved and smiled as we finished. We scheduled our next session.
Grace lives in an old, charming brick house. She works long days for a non-profit organization, and also cares for her elderly mother and her companion, who live in separate assisted living housing. Though quite busy, she’s also considering joining the AirBnB movement. Our task: clearing clutter to help her thought process about renting a room or rooms. Downstairs? Upstairs? How many?
Unhappy with her living room, we emptied boxes of papers stashed behind the couch, and moved some already-created files into her downstairs den/office for filing there.
Thinking about which room(s) to rent out, she wanted to clean up the room where her Pilates equipment sits. Its closet needed some help. We weeded it out, separating some clothes for the trash and donation.
In another room, where she may sleep, we cleaned out a closet, organizing gift wrapping and other materials, and placing her mother’s photo albums at a height where she can get to them easily when visiting.
While contemplating if/how to rent out part of her home, Grace will be able to think more clearly when looking at some spaces that are de-cluttered. After all, physical clutter = mental clutter.
Katherine is a busy medical professional. An avid reader, she also cherishes time with her friends and visits Disney World a couple of times each year. Her room could use some care. We agreed on a “double session” day – three morning hours, a lunch break, then three more hours in the afternoon. She especially wanted to work on her closet, but first…We started with a book case. We organized its books, concentrated fashion magazines, and displayed on top some photos and cameras, including a vintage Brownie, found at a yard sale.
We then worked our way around the room. We cleared the top and around a standing jewelry storage piece and displayed in the corner a parasol bought at Disney for sun protection.
Next – a bookcase and shallow desk on the other side of her bed. We added books and generally straightened up, including placing a red piggy bank on the desk for her collected change. On to clearing the dresser then, next, what felt a bit scary – the closet.
First, we removed games from the closet’s one shelf, preferring to use that “valuable real estate” for sweaters and other tops. We folded them neatly with the folded part showing, to reduce “visual noise.” Next, we sorted the hanging dresses, skirts, slacks and varied tops so she could see them all easier. We also organized her shoes and discussed floor storage for them, so she could see her options fast, grab a pair and go!
After our “double session” day, Katherine was smiling and looked relieved. Success!