Now's the time to buy Elfa!

18 January 2019

It’s the annual Elfa Sale at The Container Store! Elfa, the highly flexible shelving and drawer system is 30 percent off, including installation, through February 26, 2019.

I love using Elfa for many spaces in the house. It’s a great way to customize a clothes closet that simply had a rod and shelf with shelving and drawer options. The design is free. You can bring your measurements to a Container Store near you and an Elfa designer can create a design for you. Or you can use the online tool to design it yourself.

I store my yarn and knitting supplies in a bank of Elfa drawers . It’s been more than ten years since I put that together and it’s really stood the test of time.

Here’s a photo of my yarn organization system, using Elfa drawers, which I blogged about in this post.

We use Elfa drawers in kids’ rooms and play rooms as well. They’re great for holding various categories of toys. And you can change out the drawers if you need different sizes as kids grow.

I’ve had clients convert entire spare bedrooms into closets using Elfa. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to do that and it’s removable in the event you want to sell your house or reclaim the bedroom.

I also love the Elfa file cart. I have three in use in my office—one under my desk for active papers, one for archival papers and one for genealogy papers. With this sale, the price of the file cart is down to $70.

If you’ve been pondering some Elfa, it might be time to act! Sale ends February 28.

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Secrets of Getting Organized magazine - early spring 2019

14 January 2019

Once again, I am thrilled to be a part of the new (early spring 2019) issue of Secrets of Getting Organized magazine from Better Homes & Gardens Special Interest Publications! I was also quoted in the early spring 2018 edition, if this sounds familiar.

I don’t read magazines much, but I really enjoy this one. It’s beautiful, with lots of great organizing ideas and inspiring photos. I was one of a dozen or so professional organizers from around the country who were interviewed for the magazine, and I’m quoted in three articles: Sanity Savers: Preparing for an Emergency, Quick & Easy Solutions: Get Out the Door on Time, and a laundry-room article called Room Tour: Utility Players. The 96-page magazine is free of ads and full of great advice. I encourage you to pick up a copy wherever you buy magazines.

Here’s the cover so you can easily spot it on the newsstand.

I should mention that my picture and bio were inadvertently left out of the Meet the Pros section in the back of the magazine. But I’m still in the articles mentioned above!

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St. Louis Recycling Extravaganza on Saturday!

10 January 2019

Update! Due to the snow storm in St. Louis, this event has been canceled. But it’s great to know that these things are offered!

If you’re like many people and have done some cleaning out for the new year and you’re in St. Louis, here’s a great resource to responsibly dispose of some of your unwanted stuff.

St. Louis Earth Day, in partnership with St. Louis City Recyles, is sponsoring a recycling event this Saturday, January 12, from 11 am to 2 pm. Collectors at the event include:

  • Midwest Recycling Center (electronics—some fees apply)
  • Bicycle Works
  • Remains, Inc. (used clothing and linens plus books)
  • Pro Shred (free paper shredding up to five boxes)

The event will be held in the parking lots near the Missouri Botanical Garden at Shaw and Vandeventer—right off the Vandeventer exit of Interstate 44.

For complete information, check the Recycling Extravaganza page on the St. Louis Earth Day website. Unfortunately, there’s snow in the forecast, so be sure and check the St. Louis Earth Day website to make sure the event is on if it’s snowy. (It won’t cancel for rain.)

The next St. Louis Earth Day Recycling Extravaganza event will be Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Forest Park.

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Worth repeating: What can you do in five minutes?

7 January 2019

I can across this post I wrote in August 2017 and thought I’d share it because I found inspirational! It’s amazing the decluttering and organizing you can get done in short, five-minute bursts of time. I’m going to try this again tomorrow!

I’m a big believer in using a timer to motivate me to work quickly and get stuff done. I have a seriously full calendar but a relatively free morning today so I thought I’d see if I could some clutter spots and other small tasks taken care of.

So I pulled out my phone and asked Siri to set a timer for five minutes. I did it seven times. Here’s what I managed to accomplish in just seven five-minute blocks:

  • I printed a couple of genealogy-related documents, wrote a cover note, and mailed them to a friend who doesn’t have internet access.
  • I whittled away at my email inbox, taking it from 78 messages to 35 in two five-minute sessions
  • I took out of the car and put away a bunch of containers that I’d taken to a client session
  • I inventoried those containers
  • I put away and inventoried a different of set of bins that are stored in my basement
  • I cleared off the completely cluttered countertop in our extra kitchen. It had become a bit of a dumping ground (to say the least).

That’s a lot of distracting clutter busted in just 35 minutes!

Because I apparently have no shame, I’ll share with you that cluttered counter and how it looked five minutes later.

It’s not amazing, but it’s a heck of a lot better for a really small investment of time and effort. (This is a room I don’t spend much time in, but I’d been turning a blind eye for so long!)

Your turn. Do you have a spare five minutes? What can you do in that time to make a difference in your home?

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Tidying Up with Marie Kondo: A professional organizer's view

3 January 2019

An organizer's review of Marie Kondo's Netflix series

On New Year’s Day, Netflix premiered a new series called Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, starring the Japanese organizer and international phenom, Marie Kondo. Marie’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, was a huge bestseller. Many of my clients have read it and I know it’s motivated many people to declutter and organize. I reviewed it and gave its concepts a try in 2015, the year the book made such a splash in the United States.

The TV show has taken Marie Kondo’s concepts to the next level. I think it will be very motivating for those watch it and I’m excited for its potential impact on the the organizing industry. In each episode, Marie Kondo and her interpreter, Marie Iida, visit a person, couple or family struggling with disorder. Marie Condo is undeniably charming and she clearly motivates her clients. But she doesn’t do much in the way of hands-on organizing—she’s more a muse and a guide. After her session, in which she helps the clients pile all their belongings of a given category (clothes, books, miscellaneous, paper or sentimental items) together in a giant pile, she leaves with the instruction that the client should go through everything before the Maries return, keeping only those things that spark joy. (And thanking the other items before they’re donated or discarded.)

I’ve watched four episodes so far and as I watch it, I wonder whether viewers will think that working with me would be like what they see on this show. So I thought I’d compare my view of how the experience presented on the show is similar to—and differs from—the experience my clients have working me and my team.

How we’re alike

When Marie comes into a home, she’s cheerful, excited and non-judgmental. I can tell that the clients are nervous but they’re also excited to begin. Those scenes feel very familiar to me. I know that my clients are nervous before I get there and I hope that I’m as good as Marie and Iida at putting them at ease.

Like Marie, I do a lot of listening and provide guidance and coaching on the benefits of letting go and organizing. I’m part teacher and part cheerleader. And when I leave after the initial consultation (where we create a plan but do not start), clients are usually excited about the next steps.

And like Marie, I get to see how creating order helps family relationships. That is such a joy.

That’s pretty much where the similarities end, though. When it comes to the actual decluttering and organizing, working with me is a very different experience.

How we’re different

The clients in Tidying Up with Marie Kondo actually do the hands-on work themselves, in Marie’s absence. It appears to take a long time—most of the clients seem to be working daily between visits from Marie, and this appears to go on for weeks. This is very different from how we operate. Clients who bring in a Peace of Mind Organizing team make all the decluttering decisions themselves. But we do the physical sorting and implementation of decisions. And we do the organizing after the decluttering is finished (in consultation with the client, of course). My team of organizers can accomplish in a few sessions (or sometimes more) what the clients on the TV show accomplish in steady work for a month. Sometimes my clients do homework between sessions, but often they don’t.

Another big difference is that Marie is prescriptive in terms the order of work. She says that people should work one category at a time (as opposed to an area at a time) and address every item in that category—bringing it together from all parts of the house—before moving on to the next. Her categories are (in order, of course): (1) Clothing (2) Books (3) Documents (4) Komono or miscellaneous (i.e. everything else except sentimental items) and (5) Sentimental items. She says that clothing is easiest to let go of and by the time you reach the sentimental items you’ve built your decision-making muscle and have a better sense of what sparks joy. When we help clients, by contrast, we work with them to choose priorities and the order in which to work. I’ll offer advice about what we should do first, based on my experience, but the choice is the client’s.

Beyond advice on folding, storing things vertically, and using drawer dividers, there is very little organizing going on in the episodes I’ve seen so far of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. As I mentioned, the Peace of Mind Organizing teams organize after the decluttering is finished. Our goal is to transfer skills to clients so they can maintain the organizing systems that we create with them. During the session, we’re talking about organizing principles that will help transform the clients’ lives. Marie is transforming lives without a doubt. And perhaps more education is happening that doesn’t come through in the show. But it appears that she leaves the clients to organize on their own without a lot of input from her. That’s not how we work.

I’m excited to finish watching the series later this week and I’m thrilled at Marie’s positive, gentle, non-judgmental nature. It’s wonderful to see how her work is affecting the clients’ lives. That’s the part I can really relate with!

If you’re in the St. Louis area and are up for a gentle, educational, and fast-paced organizing experience, please check out my Operation: Peace of Mind page and then shoot me an email so we can get started!

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2018 highlight reel

31 December 2018

I enjoy taking stock of the year that has just passed as I make plans and set goals for the coming year. Sometimes, I’ll post a highlight reel blog post here. I see that it’s been three years since my last highlight reel. So I thought I’d take a few minutes to share one this year.

2018 was a good year for me and for my business, though there were a few stresses that I’m glad are behind me. Here are some of the highlights of the past year:

Getting to Good Enough. My friend and life coach, Shannon Wilkinson and I started a weekly podcast that debuted on June 15. We have had such a great time discussing overcoming perfectionism. The topics that fall under that broad umbrella have been fun to explore and we’ve been gratified at the response we’ve received. So far there have been over 30,000 downloads! (If you haven’t heard it yet, you can get it out at our website or wherever you go for podcasts.

I hired my first employee! For years I’ve used wonderful independent contractors on my teams but I’ve been wanting to explore the opportunities that having employees might provide. In August, I managed to get through the paperwork and other technicalities in order to hire my first employee, Amy Hubbard, an experienced organizer. She’s been terrific. I’m still using independent contractors and am so grateful for all my team members.

I was named Volunteer of the Year by NAPO-St. Louis. I was a founding board member of the St. Louis chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO-STL) when it was chartered in 2006. I’ve been on the board all but three years since. This past May I was honored and humbled to be named the chapter’s Volunteer of the Year. I was given a lovely Tiffany key chain to commemorate the honor, so I’m reminded of it every day!

I was quoted in Secrets of Getting Organized magazine. I was interviewed for at least two issues of this magazine from Betters Homes & Gardens Special Interest Publications. And I just finished answering questions for the next issue. It’s a thrill to be included along with some my industry’s superstars!

People continue to read my blogs. In 2018 both my websites (Peace of Mind Organizing and Organize Your Family History each garnered more than 140,000 page views, the highest year for either of them. As a bonus, Organize Your Family History, which I started in 2012, hit the milestone of 500,000 page views in 2018.

I was there for my family. My 88-year-old father won a distinguished service award from the Alumni Association of Whitman College, his alma mater and the college where he worked for almost 30 years. I was so glad to be able to travel to Walla Walla, Washington, to be there for his moment in the spotlight. And I was thrilled to pieces that two of my college buddies flew in from New York to be there too! I was also able to drop everything and go to Walla Walla at the end of March when my dad had a health crisis (which he has recovered from). And I took about three weeks off to spend time with my brother and niece when they visited from Australia at the end of this year. I am so grateful that my work allows me that kind of flexibility. (I have an amazing boss!)

I helped get out the vote. Through the extraordinary organization Postcards to Voters I hand-wrote and mailed over 1,000 postcards to voters around the country urging them to vote in the mid-term elections. I did it on my own time and on my own dime and it felt great to feel like I was making a difference. As a side benefit, I developed a new interest in improving my handwriting and learning hand lettering. (An example is the illustration for this post.) I’m always up for a new hobby!

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Set achievable goals this year!

21 December 2018

This is the time of year that many of us start thinking about revisiting the goals we set for this year and setting goals for the coming year. I love this process and really enjoy taking a whole day to work on my goals. This year, my big retreat day is December 26. Can’t wait!

The process this year is particularly exciting because I’ll be revisiting a goal-setting tool I haven’t used in a few years—one that you can use too. Back in 2009, Shannon Wilkinson and I created a teleclass about setting and keeping resolutions. The following year, we created a workbook to go with it. After selling it for a few years, we took it off the market.

Fast forward to 2018. In June, Shannon and I started our Getting to Good Enough podcast, which is all about overcoming perfectionism. We realized that our resolutions teleclass really fit in to our good enough philosophy, so we updated it for 2018 and renamed it Good Enough Goal Setting.

I was so excited when I listened to the teleclass and went through the workbook because it is still so relevant and helpful. The audio includes guided hypnosis, which can be very useful in the goal-setting process. (Shannon is a certified hypnotherapist.) I listened to it earlier this month and intend to listen to it again during my retreat day!

We’re offering the 25-page Good Enough Goal Setting workbook for $15. With it, you automatically get the 2009 teleclass (with the guided hypnosis). I think it’s a great tool to help you set realistic and achievable goals (and then go about achieving them!).

We discussed Good Enough Goal Setting in Episode 30 of Getting to Good Enough. You can listen to that episode on the podcast’s website, or wherever you get your podcasts.

I encourage you to check out the workbook + audio. It’s a small investment to set you up for a great 2019!


Just click on the View Product or Add to Cart button to purchase via PayPal!

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About Janine

Janine Adams

Hello! I’m Janine Adams — a certified professional organizer based in St. Louis, and the creator of Peace of Mind Organizing®.

I love order, harmony + beauty, but I believe that the way that you feel about yourself and your home is what truly matters.

If you’re ready to de­clutter with a purpose and add more ease to your life, you’ve found the right blog — and you’ve found the right gal.

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Recommended *

  • NAPO Golden Circle

  • Getting to Good Enough podcast