Wanted: loving caretaker of stuff I no longer need

This was the “before” picture for a client I worked with in July. Yes, the Christmas tree is still up.

So we’ve all heard of Craigslist, Ebay, Freecycle, Goodwill, and consignment stores but I’d like to show you a new way to sell the stuff that you’ve eliminated from your home or, better yet, “how my stuff can find a good home.” One of the biggest obstacles people have to shedding the extraneous “junk” from their lives is the feeling of guilt associated with letting it go. Hoarders especially will experience panic attacks that their gazillion thing aren’t being properly cared for or won’t be appreciated by anyone else. There is guilt associated with acknowledgng that you need to let go of something that might have cost you a lot of money or was given to you by a friend or family member. My very sweet and admirable grandmother at 94 won’t let a plate, bowl, or scarf leave her already crowded home unless it is going to be loved and appreciated by someone. I think we can all relate to wanting other people to share in the joy a previously owned object brings us (see post here on the 3 lives of a wedding dress) but remember it is just stuff. The stuff doesn’t define who you are; your experiences and how you choose to live your life does.

So here is another way you can let your stuff go that might make parting more sweet with less sorrow: https://www.shook.co. This is a site that allows you to buy and sell to your community of friends on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter with ease and confidence that it will be seen. You can post your stuff easily or even just look at other stuff that is listed and share it with friends that might also like it, or maybe you just want to let them know what you’d like for your birthday. Shook.co also blogs about some of the objects posted to further explain or describe some of the objets d’art. I will say that I have not used this site personally but I plan to in the future. This is not a paid post but I just think it is a great idea and a little less intimidating than going through the lengthy Ebay posting process.

Let me know if you’ve heard of Shook.co or used them recently. Also, what do you think is the best way to get rid of stuff you’ve accumulated but want to find a happy home in which to place it?

Happy organizing!

Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor (Day Weekend)

Happy Labor Day weekend! I know we are all excited about a long weekend but I seriously had to research online to find out the origin of Labor Day to find out why we had Monday off. Here is the definition from the US Department of Labor website: Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.  I personally find that definition a little weak so I am using this an an opportunity to come up with my own interpretation and invite you to join me in this expedition.

Have you ever noticed that you can get so much accomplished if you have a deadline (false or real) to work against? I don’t think I ever cleaned my room as kid more quickly than in the 5 minutes before I knew my mother was coming up to check. Oh, those dreaded footsteps on the stairs, counting down the seconds with each step for one more thing I could stash in a drawer, or more realistically, under the bed. Why didn’t I just, as my mother kindly suggested, just keep in clean in the first place so I wouldn’t have to rush around at the last minute? That is one of those questions I don’t think you answer until you are an adult and turn it around to your own children. Keeping things in order is something that does take skill that not everyone possesses naturally. I am also realizing the longer that I help organize clients, that there are more people that were never taught organization skills and even more importantly, how to not let clutter pile up in the first place. But we all know about those deadlines that keep us on our toes and cause us to run through the house like that tasmanian devil putting things in drawers that have been out for weeks and throwing away trash that has been sitting out by the trashcan for 2 days.

For Labor Day, I am having company for a short time and I find myself doing the exact things I write about now. Now is the time I finally get the guest room in order, the refrigerator cleaned out, and the patio swept. Why does it take these deadlines to get these things done? I know, priorities change and life happens but wouldn’t it all be easier if we didn’t have to run around at breakneck speed to get things in order for other people? Why don’t we do it for ourselves? Shouldn’t we labor to make our lives easier and not just to impress others?

I remember when I put my house on the market a few years ago and my real estate agent advised me to make a few changes in order to stage the home and increase its curb appeal. One of the things she suggested was to paint the exterior, which I had never really liked  the whole time I lived there. Although I grumbled about spending the money, the house really did look great afterwards and I wondered why I hadn’t done it sooner. I invested the money in the appearance of the house and I wasn’t even living there to enjoy it!

So on this lovely weekend with an extra day to honor those that have labored to help make this country great, take 5 minutes to go through your house and notice those little things that you’d want repaired, painted, organized, moved, etc. if company were coming or if you were about to put your house on the market. In those 5 minutes, you can make a list and at least start on making your home a reflection of you.  Enjoy your home today because you live in it today, not just tomorrow, or when the kids leave, or just when company comes.

I didn’t have a photo to go with this post so I’m using this one since it commemorates the start of college football season this weekend.

Happy Organizing!

Don’t be a prisoner to your belongings

Alcatraz jail cell. Don’t be a prisoner to your belongings.

Being organized is about having the things in your home, office, closet, etc. that you really need and enjoy within easy access and aesthetically pleasing.  One person’s organization is another person’s confusion or discomfort so as much as there are tools of the trade and specific steps I take clients through to achieve success, it is unique to the individual. Just buying the cute boxes and label maker do not an organized person make. You really have to figure out what do you need and what serves you. Get rid of objects that hold you back and keep you from being the person that most exemplifies you.

“Gee, Carrie, how do my things hold me back? Is my closet conspiring against me?” No, not actively; but what you hold on to in your home is an expression of who you are and your relationship with it is expressed subconsciously. Do you hang on to clothes that you are too small for you because you will wear them “someday” when you lose those 5-10 pounds? Do you keep arts or craft supplies because “someday” you are going to take up knitting, scrapbooking, decoupaging, or whatever? Do you keep a piece of furniture that you don’t like because some relative gave it to you and you’d feel guilty getting rid of it? Or, here is my favorite: I can’t get rid of this because I paid sooooo much money for it. Well, all of these negative thoughts are holding you captive as a person who doesn’t accomplish whatever goal you’ve set for yourself by keeping these things.

  1. Get rid of clothes that don’t fit. Only keep things that are one size either too small or too large for wiggle room and have the others altered or donate them. Think of how you are helping others by sharing what you have. Someone else needs that suit, sweater, shoes, and it will be in better use with them instead of sitting on your closet floor.
  2. Donate supplies that you aren’t using or don’t think you’ll be able to use (really use) in the next 3 months. I know Pinterest is full of great Halloween, Christmas, Hannukah, Birthday, and other ideas for crafts and home projects. By all means, pursue and create but put a reminder on your calendar and block the time to actually sit down and create these great masterpieces. If you can’t find the time in the next couple of months, then donate those supplies to a church, school, or some type of program that will use them now. If you are inspired later, you can gather those supplies again and move forward with renewed enthusiasm.
  3. Guilt is such a great motivator and usually it’s negative. If there is something in your home you don’t truly love or use, give it to someone who needs it. I personally have a hard time with this because I want to please people but, really, it does no good to keep things in your home for others. Is there someone you know who would enjoy that style of art or furniture or clothing? Can you think of someone who can make something of it? Maybe it would inspire a renaissance for someone’s artistic interpretation. Above all, it’s not serving you sitting in your home reminding you of how much you don’t like it. And that is making you cranky and resentful of the person that gave it to you.
  4. As far as hanging on to the expensive item? Well, the money is gone. Spent. Bye bye. Resolve to strongly consider the consequences before committing this crime again and get rid of the offending object. It’s just sitting there taunting you and filling you with buyer’s remorse. Let it lead a new life with a new person and bring them joy instead of you pain.

You’ve probably detected a theme here by now and it is the bedrock of Neatsmart’s   philosophy: purge what you do not need, keep what you love, make it all look pretty, and use it to its fullest. Life is too short to not have happy surroundings and your home is your haven. Let it restore you, not repulse you.

Happy organizing!