Worth repeating: Dealing with orphan socks

19 March 2019

Nearly five years ago, I posted about my clever clients system for handling socks that have lost their mates. I still love the simplicity and visibility of this system!

Pin orphan socks to the laundry room wall to easily find mates

As I toured a new client’s home recently, I was struck by the clever solution she had created in her laundry room for dealing with orphan socks. She created a sock wall!

When a sock comes out of the dryer that doesn’t have a mate, she just pins it to the wall using a push pin. If the missing sock shows up in a subsequent load, she can easily identify its mate. She told me that if an orphan sock languishes for a period of time, she tosses it.

I think this is great, because it’s easy, sustainable, and very visible. I think if it were my laundry room, I might want to minimize holes in the wall (and socks) by putting up a bulletin board of some sort and using push pins with binder clips to hold the socks. But the principle is terrific!

Orphan socks aren’t a huge problem in my home because we minimize the number of different types of socks we have. My husband and I each have one type of white socks we wear with sneakers and a minimal number of dark socks. When I do come up with a sock without a mate, I just put it in the sock drawer and trust its mate will join it soon.

What about you? How do you handle orphan socks?

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Why hire a Certified Professional Organizer?

14 March 2019


Back in 2008, three years after I started my business, I earned the credential Certified Professional Organizer® or CPO®. This credential is conferred by the Board of Certification for Professional Organizers as part of an accredited credentialing program. In order to become a CPO, I had to pass an exam that I studied hard for. In order to sit for the exam, I had to have 1500 paid client hours or 1250 paid client hours and 250 equivalent educational hours. (I had the latter.)

To maintain my certification, I must have 15 Continuing Education Units (i.e. hours of education) every year; I have recertified every three years, in 2011, 2014 and 2017. It’s clear that there is some time and expense involved in being a CPO. So why do I do it? Many successful organizers aren’t certified—in fact, I’m one of only three CPOs in the St. Louis area and only five statewide. (See the CPO Directory.)

I do it for two simple reasons: (1) I’m very proud of the credential and (2) I think it demonstrates to my clients and prospective clients that I hold myself to a very high standard. I am bound by an enforceable code of ethics and that I am committed to experience, education and ethics.

When you invite an organizer into your home, you expose your challenges to us and it can feel a bit vulnerable. Finding the right organizer for you can take a little research, but you can narrow down the field by looking for a CPO or for a member of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO). (If you’re in St. Louis, check out the website of NAPO’s St. Louis chapter for a listing of all our great members.) Another great place to look for a trained organizer is the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD). ICD subscribers are also consummate professionals, with a special interest in chronic disorganization.

There are a lot of choices out there. I hope this helps you narrow it down!

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Spring 2019 edition of Secrets of Getting Organized Magazine

12 March 2019

Just a couple of months ago, I wrote a post about being included in the Early Spring 2019 edition of Secrets of Getting Organized Magazine. Well, there’s a new edition of the magazine out, the Spring 2019 edition and I’m quoted again!

This issue has completely different content than the early spring edition. I’m quoted in articles on organizing pet gear (p. 39) and also paper catchalls (p. 89). To be honest, my contribution this time around is fairly minimal. But the contributions of my organizing colleagues (our pictures and bios are in the back) really make the issue one worth buying, in my opinion.

Here’s the cover, so you can pick it out on the newsstand.

Secrets of Getting Organized Spring 2019 cover

There are lots of great articles. But I particularly enjoyed these:

  • Field notes: Always in Style, about an office and studio for a Seattle-based textile business
  • Stop the Clutter at the Door, with some great storage ideas for mudrooms
  • Unpackaging 101, about what items to decant in your pantry (and how to do it)
  • Clear the Counter, about bathroom organizing

There are many other beautiful articles that I found very interesting. The issue went on sale on March 8 and will be available through June 7. You can buy it (the cover price is $9.99) at newsstands and bookstores nationwide and as well as grocery stores, big box retailers and home centers. I’m honored to be associated with it!

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Worth repeating: Decluttering old papers and memories

28 February 2019

I wrote this post in October 2015 and reading it today made me appreciate the big task I accomplished in getting rid of all those papers and memories. Here’s the good news: In the three and a half years since I let that stuff ago, I haven’t missed on thing. Not one. Letting go is definitely liberating!

Decluttering old papers and memories

Over the weekend, I faced down the challenging of decluttering a file cabinet full of old papers and memories. I love having these experiences that put me in my clients’ shoes and help me better understand what they’re going through.

A number of years ago, I moved my office four-drawer filing cabinet into the basement, replacing it in my office with an Elfa file cart. I didn’t bother decluttering the stuff that moved to the basement with the file cabinet. It was all papers related to achievements in my first two (and only) jobs, as well as administrative and project files from my decade as a dog writer, along with over 100 files of newspaper and magazine clippings of published articles I’d written.

They might have sat there until we moved, except that we’re doing a big repair and renovation in our basement, so the file cabinet has to be moved several times. It seems like a good time to (literally) lighten the load in that cabinet.

So I went to the basement and started going through the files. It was a fun and sometimes sad trip down memory lane. The tricky part was much of the material in that file cabinet pre-dated the worldwide web as we know it so isn’t available online (or at least not easily). I always caution people to give some thoughtful consideration to discarding irreplaceable items, but I also tell them that the more sentimental items they keep, the less value any of it has. So I was experiencing the push-me-pull-you of those two factors.

In the eighties, I worked for a non-profit on an international project that involved publishing magazine supplements in magazines around the world. I had a copy of each of those supplements. They really don’t have any value for me—in thirty years I’ve never once been asked about them. Yet they evoke some fond memories. (I traveled around the world and met those magazine editors.) And I don’t think they exist in digital form. What to do?

After a little thought, I decided to keep one of them and recycle the rest. That felt a little scary but also gave me that great feeling of lightening the load.

My next job was doing media relations for the Missouri Botanical Garden and I had kept some important clippings I’d placed. Back then I was able to garner some pretty significant attention for stories that felt like a very hard sell. Those clippings and the news releases I’d written to place them could be handy if I were every seeking a job in media relations. But the likelihood of that is close to nil. So I ended up keeping a little portfolio I’d created back then and recycling everything else.

Then I came to the more recent career—all the files from when I was a dog writer from 1995 to 2005, when I started Peace of Mind Organizing. I threw away all past project files, which was a pretty easy decision. Then I dealt with the clipping files. I wrote something like 150 articles and back in those pre-internet days one mailed photocopies of clippings with query letters to try to get magazine assignments. So I had made a bunch of copies of every article I published. Only laziness had stopped me from getting rid of the extras years ago. Yesterday, in the spirit of lightening the load, I kept one copy only of the more significant articles, like the ones that appeared in national magazines (I wrote quite a bit for Family Circle—that’s part of one of my favorite Family Circle articles in the photo above), the columns I wrote for a now-defunct magazine and a now-defunct website, and the articles for which I won awards. I went from hundreds of files to a single, fairly thick, file.

Going through this process was a great mental exercise. I got to revisit some achievements, which is always fun. I cried when I read the column I’d written after our dog, Scout, died in October 2001 and the one I wrote after our other dog, Kramer, died in December 2001. It made me appreciate, as I probably didn’t at the time, that those articles probably helped others who were grieving the loss of their pets. I’m glad I kept hard copies of those because they’d be tricky to find online.

Do you have ancient files or other memorabilia lurking somewhere in your house? I encourage you to bring them out into the light and go through them. You may jog some really fond memories. And you find it easier than you think to let go of this particular type of excess. Trust me, it can be liberating!

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The kudos file, a great self-care tool

25 February 2019


What do you do with nice little notes you receive from people? You know, the ones that make you feel good or help you know you’re on the right track. I’m not much a keeper of cards and the like. I discard holiday cards when the holidays are over, though I have kept the lovely notes sent me after my mother’s passing in 2015.

But every now and then I get a card or an email that compliments me or lets me know I’m making an impact. Those notes make heart happy. And I don’t want to toss them. Years ago, I created a kudos file and that’s where I put those cards. (I’ve even been known to print out a particularly wonderful email and file it.)

I received a lovely card (pictured here) recently from my colleague Lynne Poulton of Wholly Organized complimenting the podcast I host with Shannon Wilkinson, Getting to Good Enough. It’s so rare nowadays for people to take the time to put pen to paper, especially when it’s so easy to email or text. I was so touched by her words and her effort and, of course, I filed it in my kudos file. While I had the file open, I was surprised to see how thick it was. I’d been filing into it but not really looking in it.

So today, I pulled out the kudos file and read through all the cards and notes in it. Most of them I don’t remember ever receiving. And I had a very enjoyable 15 minutes or so feeling the love. To me, that’s real self care.

Do you have a kudos file? If not, I encourage you to create one. (Pro tip: Jot a date on a card before you file it; I wish I had.) If you do have a kudos file, when was the last time you looked in it? It might be nice to pour yourself a beverage and curl up with it for some good reading. It’s bound to make you feel good.

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An innovative pants hanger: Holding Hangers

22 February 2019


Last year, I learned about Holding Hangers , an innovative style of pants or skirt hanger that had just been made available in the U.S. My colleague, certified professional organizer C. Lee Cawley of Simplify You in the Washington, D.C., area, had seen these hangers in Europe and decided to import and distribute them in the U.S.

I love supporting my fellow organizers (and I so admire those who are willing to take the final risk to deal in physical products), so I ordered a couple of sets. My initial response was very favorable.

These hangers are meant for any garment that doesn’t have a shoulder, including pants, skirts, strapless dresses and off-the-shoulder tops. They’re spring loaded and lock into the waistband of a pair of pants or a skirt. I was concerned at first that they might stretch out the waistband, but C. Lee pointed out that they apply less pressure than the wearer’s own waist.

After using them for over a year in my own closet, I’m convinced. Here’s what I love about Holding Hangers:

  • They’re very easy to use—I don’t have to fold my pants prior to hanging.
  • I can remove a pair of pants (or a skirt) with one hand.
  • They’re very tidy in the closet.
  • They don’t take up much space on the rod.
  • They keep pants and skirts wrinkle free.
  • They don’t leave marks on the garment like clips can.
  • They come in four sizes (including kids).

When I told C. Lee I was going to blog about Holding Hangers, she offered my readers a discount! Between now and midnight (eastern time) on February 28, you can get a 20 percent discount on Holding Hangers by entering the code JANINE20.

If you try them, let me know what you think!

P.S. C. Lee had a great TV appearance recently, helping a TV reporter organize her pantry. You might enjoy it.

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Perfectionism in Organizing - interview on Smead's podcast

14 February 2019

You know I love talking about perfectionism on the podcast I co-host with Shannon Wilkinson, Getting to Good Enough. So I was thrilled to be asked to be a guest on Keeping You Organized a weekly podcast presented by Smead, the big filing products manufacturer.

The topic of the episode is “Overcoming Perfectionism in Organizing” and I enjoyed talking with host John Hunt. They gave me permission to share it on this blog, or you can view it here on Smead’s website where you can also see a list of the talking points (and timestamps).

Audio-only version:

Video version:

I hope you enjoy it!

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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