Worth repeating: Maintaining order

11 April 2019

I wrote this post in March 2015 and the words still ring true. Maintaining order once you declutter and create a home for everything is not complicated if you can follow the tenets below.

My office closet, part of the Clutter-Free and Awesome: 12 Pretty Organized Spaces article on iVillage

I love doing whole-house transformations. That’s when my team and I come in and create order in every room of a client’s home. We’re working side by side with the client, decluttering and organizing in ways that work for them.

So far this year, we’ve done four really rewarding transformations. The clients are thrilled at the end of the last session. But the proof of the pudding is whether they’re able to maintain the order.

I visited a client yesterday whose home we finished at the end of January. It still looked amazing, and that made my heart sing. It got me thinking about the basic tenets behind maintaining order. It’s really not complicated. They are:

  • Establishing a place for everything
  • Making a habit of putting things away in their place
  • Catching up quickly if backsliding occurs
  • Weeding constantly
  • Shopping mindfully and thinking about where a new item will be stored before buying it

If you’re able to follow those five tenets, you’ll have an orderly home. The trick is in owning no more items than you can comfortably store. When you have a number of belongings that’s appropriate to the storage space you have for them, then it’s easy to have a place for everything and put everything in its place.

In almost every one of my client organizing projects, decluttering is the first step. You can hire a professional organizer to help you declutter. Or you can do it on your own. (Here’s a short step-by-step series I wrote last year on decluttering.) Just don’t skip the all-important decluttering step when you’re creating and maintaining order!

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Getting to Good Enough hits 50,000 downloads!

8 April 2019

Are you listening to Getting to Good Enough, the podcast I co-host with Shannon Wilkinson? I hope so, but if not, I encourage you to check it out. Shannon and I were beyond thrilled last Friday when we surpassed the 50,000 downloads mark. We’ve been podcasting weekly for about ten months and are so happy that people are listening!

Getting to Good Enough is all about letting go of perfectionism so you can do more of what you love. Shannon, who is a life coach, is a recovering perfectionist and I’m fortunate to be a naturally “good enough” person. In our work with our clients, we’ve both seen how perfectionism can paralyze people and sometimes hold them back. We have advice on letting go of that.

Each week we address a topic that has some relationship to perfectionism (and, believe me, it’s not hard to come up with topics because almost everything relates to perfectionism). Last week’s episode was “Getting Back on Track.” This week’s is “How Do You Relax?”.

Each episode of the podcast is roughly 30 minutes long and is completely unscripted and virtually unedited. We’re discussing some serious topics but we also crack each other up, so there’s lots of laughter. People tell us it’s like sitting at the kitchen table with us listening in on our conversation. Shannon and I have so much fun recording it.

You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts or Stitcher. Or you can just listen to it on the website, where we post a new episode each Thursday morning at 9.

If you give it a try, I hope you enjoy!

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Heading to the NAPO conference!

1 April 2019

For the 13th time, I’m getting packed for the annual conference of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals. I’ve attended every year except 2014 when there was a conflict with my nephew’s bar mitzvah. (Family first, right?)

Attending is not inexpensive. But from the very beginning, I’ve invested in the conference because of the huge dividends is pays. Here are a few of the reasons I go:

  • I learn so much about organizing and about running my business from the educational sessions and from talking with colleagues
  • I’ve made professional associations that have helped my business
  • I get to see friends year after year (it’s like summer camp!)
  • I get to make new friends and associations
  • I get to room with my dear friend Geralin Thomas whom I met at my second NAPO conference in 2007. We’ve been rooming together for years and it’s always a treat.
  • I get to hang out with my local chapter members in a new environment (there are more than a dozen of us going this year!)
  • Attending conference makes me a better professional organizer

When you work for yourself, time away from home to attend a conference also affects your income. But, for me, attending the NAPO Conference is worth the investment (and the absence of income).

If you’re an organizer and haven’t attended, I encourage you to make plans to attend the 2020 conference. The location hasn’t yet been announced, but it’s sure to be good!

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Letting laundry help me get things done

28 March 2019

Back in 2010, I wrote a post called Laundry as a time-management tool. I thought of that post yesterday morning, when I realized I needed to fit laundry into my work-at-my-desk day. I ordinarily do laundry on the weekend but I was out of town this past weekend—and I didn’t have enough pairs of underwear to tide me over.

I decided to put the principles of that post to work. And of course I decided to blog about it.

Just as I did nine years ago, I realized I could use the laundry as a tool to help me stay focused. The time-management guru, Mark Forster talks about the concept of “timed bursts” in his excellent book, Do It Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time Management. With timed bursts, I use a timer and focus on my work until the timer goes off. At that very instant, I stop what I’m doing and take a break. By interrupting myself mid-task I make it easier to get back to work, because the brain craves completion.

Yesterday’s laundry breaks also gave me a chance to refocus on what I was supposed to be doing. Since I was away for the last five days, I had a task list as long as my arm. Unfortunately, I find that it’s really easy to get sidetracked by tasks that occur to me but aren’t on the list. Physically getting up to deal with the laundry allowed me to focus on my list again when I sat back down.

Mark says that taking these breaks allows you to get more done. “If you work on something for three bursts of 20 minutes,” he writes in Do It Tomorrow, “you are likely to get more done than if you do an hour’s untimed work on it.”

So I decided to make the intervals where the laundry was washing and drying my timed burst. I set a timer and when it went off, I immediately got up from my desk, transferred the wet laundry and folded and put away the dry clothes. That was about a five- to ten-minute break. Once the clothes were dealt with, I headed right back to work.

It worked very nicely, and the result—clean laundry + items checked off my list—was truly rewarding!

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New book to check out: Who Am I Now?

21 March 2019

My friend, Kate Varness of Green Light Organizing and Coaching a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization® as well as a Certified Organizer Coach®, is launching her new book, Who Am I Now? Realign Your Home and Life today!

Kate and I served together on the Board of Directors of the Institute for Challenging Disorganization from 2010 to 2012 and I know what a smart, caring and insightful professional organizer she is, so I jumped at the chance to help her launch her book.

Kate has written the book for people who have experienced a life transition and are living with the clutter that resulted from stuff getting tucked away while other priorities took over (something that professional organizers see with a certain amount of frequency). Kate has come to understand that often people don’t address this clutter because addressing it would mean recognizing that life has shifted and it would require taking some action to move on from the past. And that can be hard.

This book is designed to help people rediscover who they are now, using compelling stories, no-nonsense strategies, and exploratory questions. Kate teaches readers:

  • How to navigate the change process
  • Why it is so important to examine who you are now
  • What underlying beliefs interfere with the decluttering process
  • Strategies for letting go and getting started
  • How successfully get through the clutter backlog and create new habits

Doesn’t that sound great? Once you’ve made all these self discoveries, you can realign your life and belongings, and make space in your home for joyful living. If this resonates with you, I encourage you to pick up this book.

Kate’s writing and coaching skills shine through in the book, as does her vast experience helping people as a professional organizer. It’s not only an enjoyable read, it’s full of wisdom and practical advice.

I hope this book becomes a bestseller, not just because I like Kate a lot and wish her success, but because this book has the ability to really touch people’s lives.

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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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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