Even though she had hired me, a recent client was definitely quite reluctant to work with me. She indicated that she:
- wanted to get organized.
- didn’t want to have to do the sorting and organizing.
- just wanted to “maintain the system.”
This presented an interesting dilemma. My organizing and productivity model integrates an Executive Function approach, which is a fancy way to say I help people think and act effectively. Each of my clients gets a strategy that works especially for how they think. That strategy covers:
- getting over the hurdle of starting
- figuring out what and how to get things done, and
- keeping it how a client would like it with the least time and effort.
And so while I obviously wanted this client to be happy with my services and not have her feel that her time had been wasted, I needed for her to understand that if I organized her things without her input, the system would most likely fail. But, I was willing to give it a try as she was adamant that it would work and so I started organizing her closet. Sounds simple? Within 30 minutes of taking everything out, organizing groups of like items into categories, she took one look at the neatly folded stacks of T-shirts (they had originally been bundled into balls on various shelves and in drawers) and said, “Oh, I like to see the pictures on the T-shirts. I don’t like them folded, but I don’t know what else to do.” I then asked her if she would like to hang the T-shirts on hangers and her face lit up and she said, “Now why didn’t I think of that? That would be great!”
There was, however, an additional roadblock: not enough hanging space in the closet. My solution: turn large cubbies into hanging space by adding sturdy spring-loaded curtain rods.
This client appointment reinforced again my organizing and productivity model of integrating an Executive Function approach. Successful and sustainable organization is created by:
- analyzing systems
- evaluating the systems and identifying how they meet your goals and where they fail to meet your goals
- making changes and adjustments to streamline systems
- reevaluating the systems on an ongoing basis
It is a process of creating a state of balance between continuing processes that are affected by internal and external influences: your relationships with others, your environment, societal factors, personal roadblocks and belief systems.
So when you see an organized closet, know that a lot of understanding has gone into the process of setting it up.
© Image by Paula Berman Organizing
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1. Use a food bank locator to find out which food banks are accepting donations in your area.
2. Set up three temporary staging zones in your kitchen and label them with sticky notes: Keep, Donate, Toss.
3. Remove pantry items from cabinets.
4. Check for expiration dates. Place anything that has expired or has been opened and looks or smells suspicious in the Toss area.
5. Place food items you no longer eat or have no intention of cooking or eating in the Donate zone.
6. Group ‘like’ items together in the Keep zone and name each group. For example, baking goods, canned goods, oils and vinegars, condiments, breakfast, snacks, etc.
7. Work out the best cabinet and shelf location for each group of ‘like’ items. You will have a better sense of how much space each category (canned goods, breakfast, etc.) needs when you see each group of ‘like’ items together. In your placement planning:
- Think about convenient access for each family member. For example, you may want to place breakfast items on a shelf that all family members can reach.
- Allow for sufficient shelving space for each group of items. Overcrowding a space makes it difficult for family members to remove and return items (two key steps in maintaining an organized space).
8. Return pantry items to their designated shelf locations.
9. Label each shelf. The categories and organization may seem completely obviously to you, but other family members may need more guidance.
10. Put the Donate pantry items in your car and deliver the pantry items.
Photo credit: © Paula Berman Organizing
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Writer and author June Casagrande of Grammar Underground says, “As a writer, it’s your job to organize information, to prioritize it with the Reader in mind, to chop and add as you see fit. But only by fully understanding the mechanics of the sentence can you do so in the best way possible.”
Bearing this in mind, take comfort and know that even the greatest authors reworked their manuscripts, George Orwell included. If you need some help in the writing department and want to organize your thoughts and write killer sentences, look no further than these great resources:
- June Casagrande: It Was the Best of Sentences, It was The Worst of Sentences: A Writer’s Guide to Writing Killer Sentences
- Roy Peter Clark: Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer
- Mignon Fogarty: Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips For Better Writing
- William Strunk and E. B. White: The Elements of Style
- Save a work-in-progess digital file every 15 minutes as you make additions and changes.
- Back up files to an external drive.
- Save copies of digital files to a cloud storage option like Dropbox.
- Email a copy of the latest draft to yourself.
- Read romance novelist Joy Adare’s best-kept writing secrets.
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Yes, I will admit it, meal planning can sometimes get a little monotonous. I finally decided to try Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) and it has definitely taken the boredom and monotony out of menu planning. My family gets to:
- buy from local farms;
- have fresh food delivered to our doorstep;
- try foods I may have walked past in the grocery store because they didn’t fit in with my go-to meals;
- test out new recipes provided by the CSA that have already become family favorites; and
- develop an understanding of what grows seasonally in our area.
While the contents of many CSA boxes remain a surprise based on what is seasonally available, CSAs like Farm Fresh to You allow you to customize your delivery.
Try a CSA and take a break from your usual fare. A change is as good as a holiday!
Photo credit © Paula Berman Organizing
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- Set up different areas/boxes in the room. Label these areas. At some point you may forget which box is for repairs and which is for donating. Designate the areas/boxes as follows:
- Keep Remember, keep only what makes you look and feel the best you can.
- Recycle Go online and search “textile recycling” for options in your area. Keep unusable, damaged clothing out of landfills.
- Donate Find a home for your donation items. A suit you don’t wear may be someone’s interview outfit; a bridesmaids’ dress – someone’s prom dress.
- Relocate These are items that you’ll find in your closet that belong elsewhere in your home (do you really want to keep the hammer in your bedroom?). Avoid zigzag organizing and wait to put these items in their correct places once you have completed your closet organization.
- Repair Set these items aside. Make a note of the repairs that need to be done. Then set a deadline for two weeks from the current date by which time you have to have the repairs completed. Write the date on the box. If the repairs have not been completed by that date, be honest with yourself about the likelihood of getting it done and wearing the item. It may just be the time for some tough love and to donate or recycle the item and move on.
- Return The best-case scenario is that the tags are still on the garments and you have the store receipts.
- Regift A friend or colleague may be the perfect recipient for an item. But remember, a gift isn’t a gift unless the recipient truly needs or wants it.
- Sort your clothing using the designated areas and questions listed above. Don’t pass over any item and think, “I’ll come back to that one later.” By delaying the process, you’ll end up doing the work twice and that is a time waster. Do it once and get it done.
- Return your final selections to your closet.
- Regular maintenance is a prerequisite. It would be lovely if a closet had a self-cleaning button like an oven, but it doesn’t. A daily routine of putting your clothes back in their newly designated homes is a must and a seasonal streamlining routine is highly recommended.
Image courtesy of marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net