You might wonder what could possibly be the mess the Organizer made. Allow me to explain.
We overbuy for a myriad of reasons. We hoard stuff sometimes. Other times, it’s a matter of not letting go. Whatever the reason, we have a severe problem with space (although the real problem lies in how much stuff we accumulate).
We seem to need every inch of space available to store all the things we own. We have drawers open in a spare room, and there we go, filling them with the most unimaginable items just because there is available storage space.
What We Find
Too often, clients call us to organize a room in their home and insist there is insufficient storage space in the area they want to manage. However, upon assessing the project, almost invariably, we realize three things:
(1) inefficient use of the space
(2) the space contains many unwanted things that had failed to leave the home
(3) much of what the project space includes does not belong there
Well, no wonder there is no space for what needs to go in that area!
Once unwanted items are removed from the space, and we correctly allocate and organize what the client wants to keep, they usually marvel at all the space they have.
That is until they turn around and see the mess in their living room. Then clients might not be so happy (for just a little while, though).
How It Happens
During the organizing process, what we remove from an area of the home accumulates somewhere else while working on our project’s primary goal. But no one expects to end with a mess in other house areas when they engage an organizer to work on their home space.
Once we finish organizing the project area, whatever we removed needs sorting as well. The client needs to decide what stays or goes and the best place to allocate what they keep.
Often, we must repeat the organizing process in areas of the home that our client did not contemplate in the project. Such is when stuff removed from the space we are organizing needs to go to different home areas with no apparent space available. Then we need to create that space so that what logically belongs in those places can be stored in them.
Here are two pictures from a recent project. Our goal was to organize seven home areas, starting with three bedrooms upstairs. Although the plan included the living room, this area was initially uncluttered. Ironically, that was not the case once we finished the first three rooms!
The first picture is the living area “before” picture. The second picture is the living room after organizing the first three bedrooms. The before picture looks somewhat like the “after” and vice versa! That’s the mess we made! But it all worked out in the end. The client was delighted.
And as much as we would like to estimate the time a project might take, this shifting of things inherent to the organizing process makes it unpredictable. All we can assure the client is that “It will get worse before it gets better.”
As Organizers, we want to delight the client, take care of everything and leave their home looking perfect. So, take a deep breath and play along. The mess the Organizer made will go away.
As a Professional Organizer, I deal with people’s clutter day after day. Over time, I have discovered that most of the clutter found in any given home is things that should have left home but failed to do so. We’ll call it junk. If you are overwhelmed by clutter, show junk its way out.
Although junk includes trash, it also includes anything that does not serve us anymore, regardless of the item condition. How long waste stays in the home depends on the routines and procedures we follow (or fail to) in handling our belongings.
Those routines determine how cluttered our environment remains. Thus, consistently following specific practices and learning different habits can remove most of that clutter and help us maintain the space in much better shape.
Handle The Trash
Have a good size trashcan (13 gal.) and recycling bin in the kitchen. To be functional, these need to be out in the open. It’s a good idea to get matching trashcan and recycling bins (or dual-purpose units). Square or rectangular shapes are best because these save space and configure better to the areas.
Relying on the latest grocery bag hanging on a doorknob to discard your trash or an 8-gal trashcan in a corner to collect recycling might be an economical alternative. Still, it creates more obstacles than benefits, and it is not conducive to a cleaner kitchen. So instead, invest in good quality tools that make life easier.
Sort The Mail
Have another trashcan and recycle bin set where you sort mail if this place is not the kitchen. This process goes hand in hand with having an effective mail processing system.
Add Trashcans Everywhere
It is easier to dispose of trash when there is a place to do so while we handle that waste. Therefore, place a trashcan in every room in the home. The amount of actual trash removed from homes while decluttering is astonishing. Trash goes on the floor, under the bed, on the counter, and everywhere else when we don’t have accessible trashcans. During the weekly cleaning day, take all trash out.
Pay attention to when and how you experience the feeling that something no longer has a place in your life or your home. This feeling could be subtle as an energetic discrepancy in your body or noticeable, like clothing that does not fit. That’s the moment when you need to act. So take that thing out of your space. NOW.
Handle Packages Immediately
When receiving a package, open the box and remove the contents. If keeping it, remove the outer and inner packaging and tags. Take the item to where it is used or stored. Then trash or recycle all packaging. Do not let those boxes and protective packaging material roll around your home for weeks on end.
Every time you come home, especially when you bring bags of any kind, open that bag and remove its contents. Take everything where it belongs. Then trash, recycle, or fold bags to reuse if desired. This process takes a couple of minutes, but better to employ seven minutes each day than suffer a panic attack when you realize that you can’t deal with the clutter.
If anything can go anywhere, then everything will go anywhere. So you want to have control of your environment. Every single day, with consistency, is how you achieve that.
When you decide something is for donation, take it out of the house and place it in your car. Then, place a note on your windshield or seat to remind you to stop by the donation center first thing when you go out next. This practice might sound silly to you, but it won’t when you see how effective this method is.
Deal with Broken Things
Upon identifying an item that needs repair, put that item in a particular place dedicated to this purpose. Assign a monthly date in your calendar for repairs. On that day, take the basket, bag, or bin with you and take care of all of them.
Send Stuff Away
If you see something that you should have/could have/would like to send someone, prepare the package at that moment. If this is impossible, place the item where it bothers you enough that you won’t ignore it or forget. Then include a reminder in the calendar for later that day to prepare that package. Once the box is ready, please put it in your car immediately to be shipped.
Take It Out NOW!
The point is to TAKE THAT THING OUT OF YOUR SPACE NOW. Some things might need to wait. For those, prepare a labeled area in your home to place those. As you place something in that area, calendar the action or reminder to take care of the issue.
Is the item too big to move, or is the action something cumbersome you cannot handle now? You can always calendar these things. You deal with the issue the moment you decide about it. By placing a reminder or an action in the calendar, these things will be out of your head – clearing your mental clutter as well.
Do not entertain trash, junk, and other people’s treasures in your home. Your home is living space, not storage space or a dump.
Our environment can make us sick. I’m not necessarily referring to pollution, but rather how we react to our environment. We react consciously and subconsciously. We are energy. Everything around us is energy. Even the colors we see are nothing other than different wavelengths of energy, and we know colors have the power to impact our mood. Thus, restoring proper body and mind energetic flow seems essential to practice self-care.
It is impossible not to react to our environment in one way or another. You might not react consciously, but our bodies know. Our subconscious minds know. I first learned about this through an acupuncturist when he showed me how the “muscle test” works. He showed me how the body is the best lie detector. The body can’t lie, and it has a mind of its own.
So, regardless of our thoughts and what we perceive from our environment, the subconscious mind and the body know the truths we might not be aware of or purposely ignore.
The Energy of Clutter
In previous articles, I have discussed clutter and its psychological and physical effects.
In her book Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui, Karen Kingston says: “The word “clutter” derives from the Middle English word “clotter,” which means “to coagulate” – and that’s as stuck as you can get. Clutter accumulates when energy stagnates, and likewise, energy stagnates when clutter accumulates. Clutter begins as a symptom of what is happening with you in your life and then becomes part of the problem itself because the more of it you have, the more stagnant energy it attracts to itself. It starts with a bit and then slowly, insidiously, it grows – and so does the stagnant energy around it, which then has a correspondingly stagnating effect on your life. Sorting out your life by sorting out your junk results in a tremendous renewal of your life force energy.”
It’s no surprise that clutter directly interferes with the correct flow of energy, both at the physical and metaphysical levels (spirit and mind). So often, surrounding mess creates a physical or mental imbalance. However, the process can work in the opposite way – pains and tensions that make it impossible to deal with our clutter. Most times, these two scenarios feed off each other.
When clutter surrounds us, our physical and emotional energy is cramped. An impaired energy flow can cause adverse mental and physiological reactions. Unhealthy patterns emerge, and illness might follow. We should strive to be on the defense rather than relying on corrective methods when it comes to the energy in our bodies.
Holistic Practices That Prevent Disease
Traditional medicine is mainly an interventional solution for health problems and falls short on prevention. Practices such as essential oils, Chiropractic care, and Acupuncture are examples of holistic ways to correct our energetic flow and health.
In my article The True Power of Essential Oils, I share a little of my own story with essential oils, as well as my genuine surprise to discover their true power.
Plano Chiropractor, Dr. Brian Dillon, explains: “One of the many hidden benefits of chiropractic care is creating a more effective immune system by removing interference with the nervous system at the spinal level. For example, when the spine is out of alignment, the immune system is impaired, interfering with the body’s ability to heal. Being aligned allows the body to heal itself and help prevent “dis-ease.”
Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist Xenia Maradiaga-Gross explains that “Acupuncture is part of the Traditional Chinese Medicine. Traditional Chinese Medicine regards (and treats) patients as whole individuals, considering the physical, the emotional, and the mental, with both the conscious and the subconscious. When we suffer physical or emotional trauma that is left unaddressed, this might create an obstruction of energy over time. When this happens, energy gets stagnant, which disrupts the flow of blood and vital fluids. Then we experience physical symptoms like headache, tension, tiredness, cramps, bloating. Those symptoms are the body telling us that it is out of balance. Those symptoms affect our mood and quality of life. When we ignore chronic imbalances affecting organs and body systems, this might result in severe conditions and disease. Acupuncture addresses the patient’s symptoms and the root cause of energy imbalances creating those symptoms. It increases blood and energy flow in the body to properly restore its systems’ functions.”
Prevention Is Key
Practicing prevention seems like the best strategy to follow, given that the body and the subconscious mind perceive what we can’t notice. We don’t necessarily know when/where energetic disconnections occur. Leaving these disconnections unattended might result in those strange, spontaneous pains we experience from time to time. Even worse, illness might follow sooner than later.
During the early morning hours, the CO2 alarm started chirping. My husband went to get a ladder to fix the issue. Then it was almost noon, and the ladder was still there. It was out of the way but still, that ladder was in my face.
I was trying to work near that space, but that ladder made itself known, telling me it was out of place and in my face. I could not focus nor ignore that fact. It truly made me uncomfortable. This incident made me think a little about how clutter happens and why it creeps quickly in many homes.
It Seems Trivial, But Is It?
That ladder is precisely the kind of thing that no one would pay attention to because it seems trivial or inconsequential. But ignoring the ladder for a couple of days would result in everyone getting used to it being there. After a few days, we no longer see the ladder. And weeks pass, months pass, and next year, the ladder is still there!
This phenomenon happens with the ladder, with every tool we own, packaging from store-bought items brought into the home, cleaning products, and even kitchen gadgets.
If we do not remain vigilant to these instances and miss the signs, clutter will likely follow. We stop seeing things when we ignore them.
What Is Your “Un-comfort” Zone?
The question is, how likely are you to take notice, and how tolerant would you be of items out of place? At what point do you start feeling uncomfortable?
Some people might not even have proper space in their kitchens to cook and not be bothered. Feeling uncomfortable with the situation is a very personal threshold. But if we end up confused by the clutter or need help dealing with the mess around us, that probably means that stuff has overpowered us. We missed the early signals.
The mere idea of putting the ladder against the wall for even a minute after using it bothers me. But that is how I am sure clutter does not happen in our home – because my tolerance level is zero! My zero-tolerance ensures that I do not miss the early signs of chaos.
“For The Moment” = Creeping Clutter
It is unnecessary to be so drastic to be and remain organized, though. What is needed is to recalibrate the point where we start feeling uneasy, so we get the cue that it is time to act instead of ignoring the clutter. That is how we avoid mess from taking over our lives.
While it might seem normal to use a tool and leave it anywhere “for the moment” to “put it away later,” this puts us at greater risk of creeping clutter. How likely are we to place the item in its place at a later time? Not very.