Friday, October 30, 2009

Professional Organizer Q and A

A heartfilled thank you goes out to Rubbermaid for featuring your's truly in their Adventures in Organizing blog.

Timing could not have been more perfect, since I was having one of those "woe is me" single mom moments. If you've been a single mom, you know what I'm talking about.

Here are the questions:

1) How long have you been a professional organizer?
Wow! It was officially 5 years this past September, though my friends and family say I’ve been doing it my whole life.

2) What inspired you to become a professional organizer?
After my career as an engineer at a major auto company, I became a mom and love raising my boys. Life has a way creating twists and unexpectedly found myself divorced. Feeling I was spirally downward, I had a good old fashion pity party. Walking into the woods with a notepad and pen, I began to write all that I had accomplished, beginning with “I can walk.” After a bit of a chuckle, and three pages later, it was clear I love the fun of life. Thought if I was going to start anew, let’s do something fun and help people enjoy life. I shared my business idea with my friends and family who thought it was perfect for me.

3) What is the most common organizing project you’re hired to do?
There are two that stand out. The woman whose home has slowly become cluttered and needs help getting it back on track. We talk about how her home ideally should look and feel to come up with a plan to get it there and maintain it. The other project is helping families downsize their loved ones as a senior move manager. Maintaining the peace amongst family members during this transition can be tricky. Success is when the loved one turns to me and says, “Thank you for making my apartment feel like a home.”

4) What is the most common organizing challenge people have?
The one that pops into my head first is letting go of things that have lost purpose in their lives. At one time, we all have enjoyed every item we have ever owned. There does come a time when your favorite blouse is worn out, your daughter’s amazing first grade artwork is crumbling, family photos are fading and then there is that gift you received from your mom that you just never used. Helping people recognized that their items have served their purpose and it is time to let them go can be a challenge, though the smile on their faces when they sense it’s OK. Priceless.

5) If you had to pick ‘your’ biggest organizing challenge, what would it be?
I’m a single mom, raising two amazing boys, running a business, driving to soccer practice that constantly seems to hear, “Mom, I’m hungry.” My home is constantly drifting toward chaos. Maintaining some balance in my life can be a challenge. I recognize when we must take time and get our home back in shape. Being organized just doesn’t happen, it takes work. Even for this professional organizer.

6) What one tips would you give to people who are trying to get organized?
Set a date on your calendar. If the project is not written down, chances are it will not happen. Once you’ve got your date, do not make the project too big. Better to start with a drawer or shelf, enjoy success and move on to the next part. Getting organized does take time please be patient with yourself and you will be successful.

7) Are you really a rocket scientist?
With B.S. in Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering from Purdue University … yeah, I really am a rocket scientist. Getting organized is not “rocket science” but it sure makes you feel better about your space.

8) How can potential clients get in touch with you?
-They can call me: 734-890-1276
-Send me an email:
-Check out my website:
-Read some blog posts:
-Become friends on Facebook:
-Tweet with me:

What question would you like me to answer?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Organizing With Egg Timers

Ever start working on a project, only to find yourself an hour or so later in a completely different room and frustrated that you didn't have the time to finished what you set out to do.
(whew! long, run-on sentence).

Well here's a little trick that will help keep you on task. The incredible, non-edible, egg timer. DING!

Say you decide you are going to sort out your closet and you begin to pullout all your clothes and lay them on your bed. You find your daughter's toy in there and take it to her room. While in her room, you see her clothes are scattered all over the floor. You pick them up and take them into the laundry room. We'll you mind as well start up a load. mmmm ... as you walk past the kitchen you have the munchies and have a little snack. Your phone rings and your best friend asks, "Whatcha up to?" (This reminds me of the book "If You Give A Mouse a Cookie.")

Well you were organizing your closet about an hour ago, now you're pretty much fed up with the project because it just never seems to get finished. Try using a good old fashioned egg timer to keep yourself on track.

There are all sorts of shapes, colors and sizes. The key is that your timer makes some sort of noise. Hey, there's even "an app for that" (for iPhone app click here).

Now with your egg timer set for say 15 minutes, begin your project. If the timer goes off an you are still working, EXCELLENT! Reset you timer and continue. If your timer goes off and you are in the kitchen having a munchie, time to get back on task.

What did you time yourself doing?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Confession of a Professional Organizer

Gotta make a confession here.
You may be surprised, then again, maybe not. Like the plumber with leaky pipes and the personal trainer that eats McDonalds, professional organizers are not necessarily the most organized people.

Check out my desk:

This may not seem too bad, though I gotta tell ya it's dragging me down and something's has to be done. It's dusty. Little notes and receipts scattered about. Print outs and faxes that need to be filed. Bills to be paid. Literature and brochures that need should be tossed.

Lately when I come into my office, I just feel blah. Unmotivated to get going. Thought to myself this morning with a little chuckle the famous saying, "Do as I say, not as I do."

So, yes, some professional organizers do NOT have every piece of their lives together (my hand is raised high). Everyone's life gets out of whack and needs to be brought back into check. When you start to feel like life is getting grumpy on you, then you need to make a change.

That's exactly where I'm at. Little grumpy events keep knocking me down. Nothing terribly awful, just enough to knock the wind out of my sails and keep me from soaring. By getting my office organized, I will feel motivated and energized.

So today I'm going to take everything off my desk and dust it. File the papers that need to be filed, toss the items that I'm not using and get my system back together.

Even though I am a professional organizer, my life is not perfectly organized ... and that's OK.

What do you want to confess?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

If ...

What if you could?
What if you did?
What if you had?
What if you said?
What if you been?
What if you just?
What if you were?

It's a beautiful new day.

What if ...?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Organizing Rules ... Blah, Who Needs Them?

Organizing is not always about decluttering, purging, tossing, screaming and sorting. Our wonderful friends at Wikipedia define organizing as the act of rearranging elements following one or more rules.
Rules? ... there are no rules listed, I'm not aware of "organizing rules?!"

Anything is considered organized when it looks like everything has a correct order of placement. But it's only ultimately organized if any element has no difference on time taken to find it. In that sense, organizing can also be defined as to place different objects in logical arrangement for better searching.

Taking your space and optimizing it for better searching ... that is how organizing should be thought. This way if your space is organized, you end up saving time and effort searching for your wonderful stuff. Best part ... there are no rules.

Your closet may be very well organized (see left picture). Though optimizing the space by adding a shelf above your existing one ... boom baby! Items on the floor can be stored off the floor and you have gained more storage space without losing any (right picture). Sweet!

Take a tour through your home and jot down a few thoughts as you pass through each room. Look at how you can possibly use your space more efficiently. Chances are you can. I know of places in my own home that need to be tweeked. Break those ideas down into smaller projects and schedule them on your calendar.

Get one project done and you will feel better about your space.
Heck, maybe you'll end up doing another.

What did you think about your home tour?

Friday, October 09, 2009

Moving MY Mom ... Another Dose of My Own Medicine

Starting to get that thick, coating medicine taste in the back of my throat.

First I got a flavor of organizing with my own garage.
Now, I'm moving my own mother. (serenity now ... serenity now)

Helping families move and downsize their homes is something I do all the time. As a senior move manager, becoming the leader in orchestrating the transition for the family to have their loved ones living in a new home is something I truly enjoy. Taking the stress and conflict out of the moving process.

Well, that is until it's my own mother (who I love very dearly).

Buttons are pushed, dramatics are played out and tensions rise.

Family dynamics are a crazy thing, having experienced a bit of frustration, eye-rolling, digressing to being a 10 year old chastised over not putting my toys away. When working with your parents, in a flash your parents forget you are an adult and you forget your parents are struggling with little loss of independence. Maintaining a calm and non-eye-rolling front can become quite a challenge.

All went well in the end. Mom is settling into her new home and I have a new found appreciation for the role of senior move managers. If you are looking for some help in moving your loved ones, check out the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM) for a listing of people in your area that can help.

What can make your eyes roll?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

$50 Garage Make-Over

"Mike" pulls into his garage after a long day at the office. Like every night, crawls out of his car, cleans up and gets his dinner started. He's tired and mentally drained from business meetings.

Mike began thinking he wants his garage more organized, just not sure what to do. It has 50 year old cinderblock walls that are kinda dungeony (its my word, I made it up) looking. After some late night browsing he came across my garage make-over.


He immediately contacted me about the pegboard organizing walls I installed in my garage. The pegboard would clean up the walls, giving them a shining new look with loads of options to hang tools and supplies. All of this happiness could be achieved in under $50 for material costs. SWEET!

Mike is now supercharged when he pulls into his garage. The shiny walls have inspired him to refinish the workbench top. He's having fun getting all sorts of hooks and clips for the pegboard walls and arranging his tools for quick, easy access. Best of all, Mike feels awesome when he gets home from work, and that makes me happy, too.

Fall is here.
Did you get your spring organizing garage project done?

Monday, October 05, 2009

Organizing Is All About YOU!

Sometimes you have to get a bit selfish when you want to get organized. You may not be able to convince your significant other/"the other person" that:
"Hey, we need to live a little bit better."

Perhaps they are happy with the way your home is set up. Then again, they could just be a little embarrassed to acknowledge there is a problem and asking for help would just add to those negative feelings.

Once confronted with this situation, try to fall on the old adage:
"Lead by example."

Look around your home and find an area you can conquer the organization of your stuff without the help of others. Maybe it's a kitchen cabinet, your bathroom counter top, a sock drawer or your nightstand. Tackling one small organizing project successfully will give you a sense of accomplishment. Following up with another small project will get your mood rollin' toward pride in your progress.

Choose your areas to organize that involve only your items and interests, if possible. That way you are not interfering with "the other person" in your home. Hopefully they'll see you are feeling a bit better, able to find your keys quickly and overall just more relaxed about your own stuff. Maybe, just maybe, they will begin to clear up their areas too.

You cannot change who people are, though you can alter your reaction to them. If you are feeling more relaxed in your home, it will show. Yes, you may get frustrated at how this "other person" lives, but you can have solitude in your organized area.

If it took several months, or years, to lose control of your home, it will take some time to regain the organiziation again. Be patient and believe that you are working toward success.

Get a bit selfish. (there's nothing wrong with it)
Believe you can get organized.
Make it happen in small projects.
Enjoy your organizing successes, no matter how small.

You are doing a great job!

What area of your home can you organize for yourself?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Original vs. Unplugged

Nothing to do with organizing just can't seem to get this song out of my head, usually a post does the trick. My vote is for the original, never really cared for the slowed down, unplugged version. Perhaps you do which is why they are both here.

Enjoy the day!

Eric Clapton, "Layla" original verison vs. unplugged:


What two song versions do you want to see battle?