Are You a "Tidying Up" Failure?

I’ve read the The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and had my differences with the book but I was so thrilled that Marie Kondo had brought the profession of organizing into the forefront of so many minds in America. Before Kondo I had to explain what I did for a living, now people are familiar with what I do. I am so grateful for her and the popularity of the book and show.

There has been so much talk about the show on Netflix Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and of course, as a professional organizer here in Los Angeles where the show takes place, I had to see what it was all about. I was also curious to see if there were differences with my Space to Love Method and wanted to compare.

I was excited to watch the first episode, thinking this would be binge worthy for me. There I was, on my couch with my popcorn and Prosecco, I pressed play and soon realized after a few minutes that our methods are, in fact, very different.

I know there is a lot of editing magic and added drama that goes on with these shows but I was cringing when I saw her leave her client in the bedroom with a huge pile of clothes on the bed only armed with “If it brings you joy, keep it if not, thank it and put it in the donation bag”.

I have gotten a lot of feed back about the show and how people are now sleeping on the floor or couch because they couldn’t get through their clothes on the bed.

One of the big parts of The Space to Love Method is we don’t leave clients alone while going through their stuff. This is the part that is always the hardest (emotionally and psychologically) and they need guidance the whole way through. Only after we have worked with clients for a period of time and transferred skills to them, do we feel it would be appropriate to leave them to “let go” on their own.

After this process is over we then put systems in place that are specific to the clients needs. Not everyone is the same, therefore we do not have a cookie cutter formula for all organizing system. This includes folding, we come up with folding systems for the type of clothes and towels that work for the size of the drawers, closets or shelves.

Here is a video with some encouragement for anyone who feels like they are a “Tidying Up” failure. Know that you are not alone.

Comment below with any decluttering and organizing stories you would like to share. We would love to hear from you.

Mid-month Motivator: 5 Tips to Help with Your Broken New Year's Resolutions

How are your resolutions going so far? It’s only two weeks into January and I’m already hearing people verbally beating themselves up because they haven’t stuck with the changes they wanted to make for 2019.

If you’re one of the masses struggling to self-motivate your evolution, if you find yourself falling back into your old habits or giving up your resolution too quickly, here are some reasons why you may not be succeeding:

  1. You don’t have the time.

  2. You didn’t make a plan.

  3. You forgot why you wanted to do it in the first place.

Sound like you? You’re not alone. It turns out, about 45% of us make resolutions but only 8% succeed. But hey, don’t beat yourself up. It is, after all, only two weeks into 2019. You still have 50 whole weeks to steer your goals in the right direction. Here are some tips to help you get back on track from M.J. Ryan’s incredibly helpful book, This Year I Will

  1. Write it down! You are 42% more likely to accomplish your goal just by writing it down. - Easy enough; I like that!

  2. Make it realistic. - Weight loss example: if your goal is to lose 40 lbs this month, then you are setting yourself up for failure. Instead, think of an amount that is truly doable for you. In the past for me, losing 8 lbs in a month was manageable.

  3. “You have to really want it.” - Sure, you want “x”, but have you really thought it out? How far are you willing to go for your goal? Is it something you really want to do? A few years ago, I got it into my head that I was going to climb Kilimanjaro. When I started doing research to make a plan, I realized the journey was going to take more of me than I was ready to invest. Unwilling to make the necessary sacrifices, I took “climb Kilimanjaro” off my yearly bucket list, and made room for new dreams.

  4. “Make a back up plan, not excuses.” Back to my weight loss example - when I was first struggling with my goal, my excuse for not working out was, “I’m just too tired after work to workout.” Instead of giving up, I solved the problem: if I am too tired to get my cardio on after work, I’ll have to do it before I work. I really wanted to lose the weight, so I started going to bed earlier and sacrificed sleeping in to achieve my goal. (Bonus, the morning workout really energized my day instead of sucking the energy out of it!)

  5. Have an accountability partner. I always find it easier to make it to dance or yoga class when I know a friend is meeting me there. Separately, I was able to keep up with a 30-day Arbonne cleanse because my consultant, Kim, was there for me when I needed help. Having an accountability partner breeds solidarity, support, and success.

I hope you find these tips helpful, and I highly encourage you to buy the book! M.J. Ryan goes into great detail about how to make real changes in your life, no matter what you are trying to achieve.

Make 2019 your best year ever!

Don’t give up; YOU GOT THIS!

Time to Digitize

For years I have been helping clients around the Los Angeles area get rid of the clutter and belongings that no longer serve them. But what about personal keepsakes that could still bring joy but are inaccessible and unusable, specifically, the videos and photos rendered obsolete by our fast-moving technology?

Some of you may know that my sister is not well. Her battle with cancer has been devastating, and she will never be the same again. I don’t want to live in the past, but I desperately want to watch the home video of us from when we went to Hawaii. Of course, it is a VHS tape and I don’t own a VCR anymore. I know why I’m keeping it, even though I cannot watch it, and that is the spark for this blog post.

This is where Jeremy Suede from I.O.Solutions comes in. I know Jeremy from NAPO so it was a no-brainer to use his services. Here’s what he did for me:

1 - Converted all VHS tapes into iMovies on my external hard drive.

2 - Transferred all CDs (old photos and headshots) and DVDs (old short films from my acting days) onto my external hard drive.

3 - Transferred all items on my big, old, heavy hard drive to my sleek, new, mega-memory G Drive, then cleared the antiquated device so it could be donated.

I now have all my “stuff” in/on a 4.33” x 3.23” x 0.43” box/hard drive and can access it anytime I want.

Jeremy and I at NAPO-LA’s Monthly Meeting.

Jeremy and I at NAPO-LA’s Monthly Meeting.

How it works…I called Jeremy and he met me at a Starbucks in the Valley, (which was closer to me then his office), where I handed over my precious items. I have to say, when he was walking away with all my memorabilia I had a pit in my stomach thinking, what if he never comes back?!

To put my ‘fear of lack’ to bed, Jeremy did in fact return 2 weeks later with all my “stuff” on my G Drive. I paid him a very reasonable fee through Venmo and we parted ways.

As soon as I got home I plugged my hard drive into my computer and cried like a baby watching the video of my sister and I from over 20 years ago. I couldn’t have been happier.

My sister and I in Hawaii, early 90’s.

My sister and I in Hawaii, early 90’s.

Cautionary tale: Jeremy told me that had I waited any longer, the tapes could have deteriorated and the footage would have been lost forever. I am so grateful I have a physical reminder of a magical memory with my sister.

If you have memories that brings you joy, I urge you to digitize. Whether via hard drive or uploading to your cloud, you can keep more stuff in less space, and have it in a vastly more accessible way. Less clutter, more joy. Win-Win!

I’m thinking this would be a great gift this holiday season: a gift certificate to I.O.Solutions!

Don’t let the past clutter up your present.

I hope you create new wonderful memories this holiday season with your family and friends.

Happy Holidays!

Make Room for Summer Fun

It’s finally summer and feeling like it in Southern California. Not to complain, but it has been cold here in SoCal; Los Angeles is always sunny, but brrr. Anyway, the first hot day arrives and of course, we're clearing out a garage.

Fun Finds in the Garage.

Fun Finds in the Garage.

My clients' miscellaneous items have been nonpaying tenants of the garage since they moved into their home many years ago. I see this cluttered storage issue all the time, so here's a pro hint: when we store stuff in the garage/attic/crawlspace to be sorted later, for that magical "I’ll get to it when I have more time," time, it’s a good sign the items may never see the light of day again. 

We found a great variety of items in boxes and crates, including old clothes, paperwork from a job that they long moved on from, and ancient electronics with outdated technology. We had some fun with the donations on this job...

 

 

The organizing part of this garage gig was easy, considering there were really only a few items my fab clients wanted to keep: a few nice pots and pans, family heirloom fancy glasses, some long-lost decor that is finally going to be used, and some items that belong to other family members that need to be returned. From there, we donated what we could, and then called 1-800-GotJunk for the rest. Presto! Space!

Before and After of One Car Garage.

Before and After of One Car Garage.

 

We made room just in time for some summer fun in this garage... A new Mercedes!

Happy ending for my clients, but what if you actually use those DIY / gardening tools and yard equipment?  If you own a house and have kids it is a whole different ballgame: baby strollers, beach gear, camping supplies anyone? What about winter ski storage and holiday decor? How about bikes, helmets, scooters and surfboards?

 

 

 

 

Whatever the sport or season I’m here to help sort and purge. Once we figure out what is leaving your space, we take a look at what's left, and in the case of garage storage solutions, we call the experts. This is where the fun begins.

I love partnering with monkeybarstorage.com an amazing garage storage systems company. The local LA location is who I will collaborate with and figure out just how many bins and hooks you will need to fit all your sports equipment and baby gear for your growing family. Presto again!

So whether you're an outdoor junky with an extreme sports habit, an active family on the move, or finally getting that dream car, take a look at your space and then give me a call.  Together let’s create some more space to love this summer!

Downsizing

I feel like I'm hearing that word, "downsizing," so much more these days.  The mono-word turn of phrase is getting some social acclaim as of late, and as a de-cluttering pro, I can't help but do a little happy dance every time I hear or see the word in public.

Example: A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of watching an advanced screening of Matt Damon's new film Downsizing; what a great movie! If only we could shrink down our trash like those brilliant Norwegian scientists!  My head was spinning from the imagined possibilities. Then the word popped up again! This time in a book title from one of my favorite people and clutter organizers, Peter Walsh. His new book Let It Go, Downsizing Your Way to a Richer, Happier life will be in my hot little hands come January at the event his is hosting for NAPO-LA.

Practice what you preach: I did some serious downsizing myself over the summer. I moved from a 1000 sq ft, two-bedroom apartment, to a 400 sq ft studio, because "why-am-I-in-a-two-bedroom-apartment-when-it's-just-me-and-I-can-move-to-a-better-neighborhood-for-half-the-cost?" was a question that plagued me for a good six months. I didn't have room for the question anymore, and it was time to let go - of it, and my possessions!

I got rid of 75% of my stuff! Me! I'm already a minimalist by most people's standards, but even I was surprised at what I didn't truly need.  So, what did I do with the 75%? I decided to have a yard sale while I was downsizing.

My clients often ask about hosting a yard sale with their purge, and having never done one in Los Angeles, I believed they deserved a first-hand account of the hassle and shenanigans involved.  To give an honest answer from someone who's "been there," I decided to endure the process. And document it. For posterity. You're welcome.

 

Spoiler: We may have had fun making the video.

I walk you through the yard sale process in the video, but in case you just want to read the highlights, what follows are the steps and outcome from our endeavors (which I like to imagine printed up on a trifold pamphlet you might find at your doctor's office entitled):

So, You're Going to Have a Yard Sale...

1. Sort and stage - Here is where the bulk of the work comes in - good time to call your friend or family member (or trusted de-cluttering professional, ahem) over for the often overwhelming decision-making portion of your downsizing. Going through all of your belongings can be daunting to say the least, and I highly recommend the buddy system when going down the dark path to clutter freedom. If you have a garage, use it! The separate location can be a great staging area for your former treasures, plus you get the unwanted items out of your space sooner. Unfortunately, I didn't have a garage to keep things in neat, like-item'd piles, so I made due by opening up my organizing tables in my living room, and I stocked them with the goodies I wanted gone the night before the big event. Setting up the night before made the following early morning pretty easy; we just carried the tables out onto the lawn, ready to go.

2. Price - how to price it can be tricky. No one is going to pay what you paid for the item, or even what it's worth, so let that fantasy fly away with your limited-edition left-handed Frisbee. If you paid $100 retail, you'll be lucky to get $10 for it at the yard sale. (Side note, this part is sometimes painful, especially if you're forced into downsizing rather than choosing it.  Haggling with strangers over possessions you're forced into giving up can be a truly horrible experience, and to me there is nothing more hurtful than feeling devalued. So going in, know this, you are not valued by your stuff-don't take it personal!) Use the round stickers to price everything out. I priced things out for a few dollars each, knowing people would talk me down. Speaking of down, get your wares off the ground; take care to place items on a table or blanket. I happened to have a clothing rack which came in quite handy for displaying my former wardrobe.

3. Advertise - Place an ad on Craigslist/your local paper, and put up signs in your neighborhood.

4. Get change - You will need some cash to start. Get $1's, $5's and even quarters. Yes, it will come down to change.

5. Have fun! It's going to be a long day, might as well make the best of it. Make a video:) and it wouldn't hurt to have some ice cold Coronas on hand; your comrades will thank you.

The outcome from my yard sale experiment: It turns out that I didn't have a lot of the items people were looking for at yard sales. Many would-be patrons came early, between 6-7am, looking for electronics, microwaves, jewelry, gold/silver, and men's clothes. If you're dripping with these items then I say go for it! Put on that yard sale and make that sweet sweet cash.  As for me....I made a whopping $48.

Not everything sold at the yard sale (go figure). I ended up selling the larger items on Craigslist and OfferUp, which yielded $555. Adding the yard sale's $48 totaled me out at $603.  But wait; there's more - I donated the remaining items to the National Council of Jewish Women and got a tax receipt for $768.

Offer up and craigs list items.jpg
National Council of Jewish Women.jpg

Downsizing = Worth it!  Yard sale = Not! -  Hindsight is alway 20/20. I would have saved myself (and my loving pals) a lot of time and effort if skipped the yard sale and sold my stuff on Craigslist/OfferUp and donated the rest. I would have, but now I can authoritatively say that unless you have the right items, yard sales are not worth it! Again, you're welcome!

Creating More Space

We all want more space, well most of us. Ever the minimalist, I'm in the middle of downsizing from a mid-city 2-bedroom unit to a Culver City studio apartment; I'm just one person. Not like my client in Los Angeles with a growing family, totaling 8 people.

I've been working with this client for a while now. We've put systems in place to maximize every cabinet and drawer with organizers.  We've de-cluttered every thing that was not used or will never be used in the near future. Not one extra ladle took up valuable drawer real estate, not one mismatched plate in sight, no extra bottom pieces to Tupperware without a matching lid...you get my point. 

So on our latest work day, when I arrived to find my client attempting to put items away from her latest Costco run, all I could think of was, "No, no; these items are never going to fit!" We had maximized her space, but still couldn't accommodate her necessary bulk buys.

I'm a problem solver by nature, but boy, did I need to solve a bulk-sized issue that day. I looked around thinking that there had to be a way to make this work. Where could we add shelves or more storage?  My eyes settled on an unoccupied wall in the kitchen, and the answer appeared. After taking measurements, we concluded we would need something less then 13" deep. I knew it would be tricky, but not impossible.

Looking online, Ikea is always a go-to for me. That's where we found this shelving unit  and wouldn't you know it, perfect measurements! I was off to Ikea.

Did I mention that I build Ikea furniture:)

Did I mention that I build Ikea furniture:)

I do love building things. It was so rewarding to haul this unit in, build the structure, and fill it with items conducive to my client's needs!

Before and after close-up - The shelves are a perfect fit!

Before and after close-up - The shelves are a perfect fit!

Before and after wide view - They actually make the kitchen feel bigger!

Before and after wide view - They actually make the kitchen feel bigger!

We created so much usable vertical space! Now there's room for the extra protein powders and baby formula. The kids' lunch boxes have there own space instead of on top of the refrigerator, and the cook books are actually accessible. Paper towels - stored! Napkins - tucked away! Extra pancake mix - bring it on! 

After Picture front view

After Picture front view

The fun add-ons for better organization we used included: clip-on baskets for bread and produce, bottle rack for the wine:) and baskets for linen and party goods.

It was a great workday solving problems and creating more space to love!

 

 

Become the Butterfly: Spring Cleaning Your Mental Space

Ah, Spring. Time again to clean out your closets, dust off your cobwebs, go though your stuff and purge. In fact, now is the perfect time to purge, because spring is a time for renewal, rebirth and growth. How can you blossom into a beautiful flower if you are still covered in last year's leaves?  Time to embrace the "out with the old and in with the new" mentality.

To that end, I'm going to shake up this blog post and try something new.  Recently I was invited to lead a talk on "letting go of what is not serving you anymore."  The feedback from that discussion has been incredible, and it has inspired me to shed my "how-to" and "pro tip" blog cocoon, and embrace the freedom and beauty of "truth bomb" wings.  This blog post is dedicated to you and your energy.

I believe that everyone wakes up with a given allotment of choosing power, and how we exert our decision-making energy has an incredible impact on our daily lives. Every decision made counts against our quota, and as the day goes on it becomes harder for us to make good and decisive choices. I know this to be true for me: in the morning my decision making power is at 100%, but by 6pm I'm having trouble figuring out what I want for dinner, and by 6:30 I'm reaching for the frozen pizza because I-just-can't and cardboard carbs are easier than making a decision, let alone a meal.  Not the best choice.  By 6pm, the bulk of my daily choosing power has been spent.

So what's the link between choosing power and letting go?  See if you can imagine the increased ease of decision-making with a clean fridge, a completely wearable wardrobe, and a guilt-free view -  and see if this average morning stream of consciousness sounds familiar to you...

The alarm goes off (for the second time), and you're awake.  What do you want for breakfast?

Eggs. I want eggs. Great, but do I have eggs? If yes, can I make an omelette, and if so are those peppers even firm(ish)? I thought I had butter- is that cheese still good? Bummer; the toast is moldy! Ugh. I'll just have cereal and pretend its protein.

Shower time.  You are met with three shampoos to choose from, even though you only ever use one.  But you feel bad because the other ones were expensive, and you don't want to be wasteful by throwing them (or the scrubs, body washes and soaps that have lain dormant) out.  And you get to remind yourself of this every morning.

You make it out of the shower and prepare to get dressed. You look in your closet and the anxiety is already starting to set in. You pick out a shirt - oh wait, can't wear that; the buttons is missing. The next one doesn't really fit right, the next you don't even like. The next one, oh, still has the price tag on. The guilt of buyer's remorse sets in; you look at how much you spent on it...

$65 on a shirt I haven't worn yet. Let me try it on and see if today is the day...nope, still doesn't work, but I liked it in the store. Oh my god, what time is it? How long have I been daydreaming and trying to find something to wear? Okay, whatever shirt I grab next is it. Ugh! This one has a stain - well let me put this scarf over it and maybe no one will see it. Now, what pants go with this lovely stained blouse? Well, not those; they need to be hemmed, and this pair is a bit too snug right now, and these have a hole... I'll just wear the ones I wore yesterday; no one will notice. Shoes: these would be great but wait, where is the other one? It has to be in here somewhere!

...after a minute or two you give up finding the matching set and wear the pair that hurt your feet, but you're really running late for work now, so they will have to do.

On your way out the door... Even though you haven't punched the clock yet, your subconscious is already working overtime. You pass your bureau on the right and see the paper clutter, and you think without thinking, "I need to file those away/am I ready to do my taxes? I have to shred most of that/where are those bills I need to pay?"  On the left, stacks of magazines wait indefinitely for the magic day when you will be able to sit down and read through them, "I wish I had more time." Flanking the magazine tower is your equally lonely knitting basket, "I need to finish that baby hat for my sister's baby...er...toddler." Under the catchall table by the front door, the last misc. box (from when you first moved in but never got around to unpacking) mocks you, but you almost don't even care anymore. "I will get to that this weekend...maybe." You reach your door just to realize you don't have your keys, and can't remember for the life of you where you left them. A few minutes later you locate them in a drawer in the kitchen, still clueless as to how they got there, and rush out the door. One minute later you return for your sunglasses that you thought were in your purse, but are actually hiding in plain sight on the kitchen counter. Finally you make it to your car, out of breath, starting to perspire, and thinking, "I can make up for lost time if there's not as much traffic on the 10 this morning."

...So much of what weighs us down from our waking moment is our tangible 'stuff' that shares our physical space. As the day goes on, decisions become more difficult as our power is drained.  So, if you can only make 'x' many decisions in one day, do 20 of them need to be about what you're going to wear? How do you really want to use your energy? Consider the purge in your spring cleaning and give yourself permission to let go of the things that aren't serving you anymore.  Eliminating the unwanted options will result in less decision energy spent.  So sweep out the cobwebs of last year and reclaim not just your space, but your energy.

 

 

4 Piles to Pitch: Win Back Your Storage Closet

Yes! Clean out that storage closet once and for all. I just helped a client do this, and I want to share a few things that might be useful for the closet you have been ignoring... and the skeletons inside.

My client had recently moved, and didn't have time to purge or organize before transitioning from old place to new.  As a result, her storage closet was riddled with random items (because it had a door to close and hide it all behind). Sound familiar?  Well, it happens all the time. Time to reclaim your space!

To get started, take everything out of the closet. As you remove items, sort them into piles with similar types of items - put like items with like items.

With my client, as with most clients, the piles looked something like this: the first pile was composed of packing supplies, including empty boxes, bubble wrap, tubes for posters, etc.  A second pile contained decor items that worked in her old place but didn't work in her new home, including items that needed to be returned. Off to the side, we had a pile of stuff that was to be sold on eBay and Craigslist, and finally, my favorite pile, the bag of bags. Over 90% of my clients have at least one of these piles:)

We also had piles of old makeup to go through, bedding to make decisions on, and office supplies to sort. However, the 4 piles I want to focus on are the four piles mentioned above: packing supplies, things that aren't working, stuff to sell, and the bag of bags. By just dealing with the items in these four piles, you will reduce clutter by half.  So, in no particular order, give yourself permission to let go of ---

1 - Items that are not working in the new (or current) space. This is often a frustrating endeavor, but it's time to realize that even alternative facts won't make your drawer organizers from your last residence fit your new space, and those pictures that looked great on your former living room wall don't catch the light in the same way in your new (or now) house. Yet, these items get tucked away in the storage closet in hopes you will find someone to give it to or eventually sell it. A big crutch in the letting go process is the "waiting to give it to someone who will need it" crutch. We always want to help someone out (or in some cases, pass the obligation of the item onto someone else), but then the unwanted item ends up chewing up valuable real estate in your space for way too long. So go ahead, give yourself permission. Donate it. And those things that need to be returned that didn't work for the new space that got shoved in the storage closet to collect dust and be forgotten? Put them in your car with the receipt and make sure it gets returned before it's too late.  Or donate them. 

2 - The eBay and Craigslist pile. My client had fancy and pricey dresses; some still had the tags on them, plus other items she thought could be worth selling. Of course, I'm all for donating it. Too often the ideal amount you think you can get for a given item is a lot more then what you can actually get for it. With my client, we started looking up how much similar dresses were selling for online and found that they were going for $20 or $30, and some were being stolen at $10. So I ask, how much is your time worth? $10/hr? $20/hr?  Because the time you use listing the item, the time spent in sale limbo/haggling with a stranger, the time and energy physically exerted in shipping the item... is the sale really worth the trouble and your time?  I suggest establishing a minimum listing item price of $50 or more to make the listing worthy of your time. If you can get at least $50 for an item, then list it.  If not, donate it.

3 - The pile of packing supplies. It will be easier to let these items go when you realize you are donating most of the stuff you thought you were going to sell. The act of breaking down empty boxes from deliveries alone (ahem...amazon) will reclaim a significant amount of space.

4 - The bag of bags, or should I say the whole closet, considering how they seem to fill up space like some magic growing jello. Like many people, my client was keeping every bag that was ever given to her, and all the ones she paid for like the ones from Ikea, etc. We looked through them all, and kept a select few that were in good shape.  We used some to bag donation items, and, get ready, donated the rest.

How many shopping bags does one household need? If you go shopping and use about 5 recycled bags, then keep that amount in your car, and get rid of the remainder.  Rest assured, more reusable bags will come into your life; someone is always giving away a free bag. Oh! And if you get paper and plastic bags every time you go to the grocer's and keep them for trash, then take one bag and fill it up with other bags; whatever doesn't fit in that one bag, you recycle. You will keep getting more every time you go shopping; have faith that you will not run out.

By focusing on items in these 4 piles, and not worrying about the organizing part yet, we saw a huge difference in reclaimed closet space. My client even had drawers in the closet that (I didn't know she had) she could never get to, now ready to be filled with items worthy of storing. 

So, what can you donate today to win back your storage closet?