Marcia had on her desk the March 2014 issue of Vermont Maturity, which included an article about De-clutter Me! She emailed, somewhat tentatively, asking if I were still in business. Of course! We wrote back and forth, talked, then scheduled a first session together.
Our first focus would be her husband’s closet, then the walk-in closet that she and Bob share. Bob’s closet wasn’t bad at all – not crammed full, with items hanging from shelves. It just needed some attention to silence the “visual noise,” as another client has called it. It’s a relatively minor point, but simply turning a folded item so that the fold shows dramatically softens the view.
Working from top to bottom, we folded items, and she graciously chose some items for donation to the upcoming annual Tag Sale of a local women’s chorus. Others would be tossed or brought to Goodwill.
Next, we walked across the hall to the walk-in closet. Again working from top to bottom, we folded items to keep and, as with Bob’s closet, separated others for donation or the trash.
With our little bit of time left, Marcia showed me some other projects for our next sessions together in their beautiful house.
At the end of our first session together, a bit tentatively, Tamara asked if I would be available to help her with clothes. She had some things that she liked but didn’t wear much, and might need some encouragement to let them go. Should she keep other things? Sure, happy to help.
We focused first on the closet, and separated its two sides into work and play clothes. How lucky she was to have the space to do that! We also neatened the upper shelf. I pulled out her cross-country skis and poles, suggesting that she store them under her bed to save closet space for things really needed there. (Funny to handle skis in July!)
Next, the dresser. We pulled out each of its drawers and rolled most of the contents, so she could see everything easier.
With our remaining time, we went through two big bins against a wall. Much of their contents were winter clothes, which we consolidated into one bin. With the closet better organized, we were able to put it in the closet, without “crowding” clothes already hanging there.
Bonus points – opened-up wall space, valuable in her small bedroom!
Tamara’s apartment had several areas that could use help. What was bugging her most? Where to focus the time during our first session together? She opened a closet door. Its several shelves weren’t overloaded with too much stuff, but they needed some organization. Suggesting that we work from top to bottom, I predicted that the level of “visual noise,” as another client has called it, would be much lower when we finished. The big picture:
Some details about two of the shelves:
The closet finished, we used the remaining time on some nearby open shelves. Again working from top to bottom, we moved some things around on them and elsewhere, making the space more attractive to the eye and its contents easier to reach.
In our next session, could we focus on her bedroom? Maybe the closet? Sure!
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!
Well, not really, but it was a rainy afternoon, perfect for de-cluttering! Suzanne is busy. A wife, mother, and professional worker, she needed a push from a professional organizer. Several areas “called out” for help. As often is the case, I asked what was bugging her most. Her quick response – the laundry area. It could use some reorganization. We worked top to bottom, placing on the top shelves items she would want to have handy, but wouldn’t need often. Lower and in the “most valuable real estate” – others she uses more. Why the tennis balls? They’re great in the dryer, with down-filled jackets and vests. They bounce around, returning “puff” to washed clothes.
What was also bugging her? Next, the linen closet. Again working top to bottom, we first purged from the top shelf. It held more wrapping paper and gift bags than really needed. We thinned that collection, then spent some time on lower shelves, refolding towels, so that their folds face out. A small gesture, but it makes the closet look neater and easier on the eye. (Also, as written elsewhere on this website, physical clutter = mental clutter.) We also matched bedding. This was especially important, because everyone in the household does his or her own laundry. Returning bedclothes to the closet would be easier.
With our remaining time, we tamed and moved some cords in Suzanne’s office and strategized for future sessions.
Looking relieved when our session ended, Suzanne said that I had been a catalyst for her to continue with some smaller projects that wouldn’t need my help. Success!
On a bright, sunny (and not freezing!) February Saturday morning, I arrived at Jennifer and Ryan’s house. After sending their three children off for the day, Jennifer and I got to work. First, we moved some things around in the kitchen, and re-arranged some drawers. I recommended containers to hold small pieces, like batteries. Then, a bit hesitant and shyly, Jennifer asked if I would come upstairs to her daughter’s room.
Izzy, a bright and creative kid, is artistic and musical. First, we cleared her desk and reorganized shelves behind it.
Her walk-in closet includes shelves for her various projects. As with many busy and active families, neat storage might not have been at the top of the list. We worked on shelves, consolidating, moving, making some things easier for her to reach.
With the remaining available time, we cleared a corner.
As so often is the case, when our three-hour session time ended, Jennifer looked relieved. Another Success Story!
I saw Joan while volunteering at a concert. She remembered my work with her husband Dick, as we reorganized files and consolidated financial records in his home office. Would I help with her closet? It held some items that she didn’t wear anymore – including from past professional jobs, high-heeled shoes, a few purchase mistakes (we all have them!).
We scheduled a session for (what turned out to be) a dreary Sunday afternoon – perfect. We set to work, with me pulling individual pieces for Joan’s decision-making. In most cases, first a story about an item’s origin, then I placed it either back into the closet, or into one of three big, black plastic garbage bags for transport – to the trash, or to Goodwill, or to a higher-end second-hand shop whose proceeds benefit needy residents in three towns.
Like most clients, she exclaimed “I’ve been looking for that!” a few times. I vacuumed away some cobwebs, grouped tops, skirts and dresses in the closet. I re-folded sweaters and returned them to shelves, then we were done. She smiled, with an expression of relief. Ta-da!
Singing buddy Allison, new to her development and outreach job at the Burlington Emergency Shelter, emailed. There were several areas within the building that badly needed help. Would I come and take a look? I arrived on a chilly Friday morning in November. What to do? Let’s rescue the supply closet, which housed financial records, computer parts, painting and cleaning supplies, holiday decorations, donated hats, and more. We pulled boxes off shelves, then consolidated their contents. We emptied other, only partially filled, boxes. We placed financial records together, grouped art with holiday supplies, stored paint with varied tools. It was a fairly frenzied hour or so, but Allison and executive director Valerie smiled. Success!