25th Hour Organizing

"Because 24 Just Isn't Enough"

Walt Bodine Show March 25, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christine @ 12:59 pm

As I listened to my husband’s voice on the phone, so happy, and telling me over and over how fantastic I was, how well I had done, I realized how very lucky I was. I am surrounded by people who care about me and believe in me. My husband, my dad, my mom, my grown daughter—even my toddler thinks I’m hot stuff.

I walked away from the radio station and felt as if I was dancing on the clouds. I had managed to pull it off, my first foray into radio, and with very few “umms” or “errs” or mixing up of words (well except for that whole ‘drawers in closets and closets in bathrooms’ snafu). I had sounded confident, kind, calm, and professional.

Wow. I had done it. Really, really done it.

I even got a compliment from Walt Bodine on my radio voice. That just made me feel so warm and fuzzy inside. The small child in me is still bouncing up and down, saying, “They liked me, they really, really liked me!” Oh wait, maybe I’m channeling Sally Fields.

I realize too, having had some time to think about it, that this is just the beginning. I am so excited when I think about the possibility of doing more talks on the radio, teaching more classes, and really getting the word out there.

And not just because more clients will come knocking, but also because so many of us just need a nudge, a tiny little push, to take off and change our lives for the better. Whether those changes are having a more organized house or losing weight or finding a job that speaks to our strengths. I like the thought of inspiring change and growth. The idea that little old me could encourage another human being to be something more, and consequently find happiness and pride in themselves—it makes me feel good inside and out.

Two callers mentioned that they had started cleaning their desks as they listened to the show. I grinned like a fool at the compliment. The show did just what I hoped it would—energized its listeners to start making some changes.

Let’s face it—in your home are you and your possessions – it’s time to figure out who owns who. And if the possessions are the owners of the day, it’s time to turn the tables. With or without a professional organizer—it’s time you turned things around. After all, aren’t you worth it?


This Is My Life March 12, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christine @ 12:58 pm

I walked into the Radio Shack today with little time and even less patience. There was one young man in the store. He looked up from a battery he was attempting to pry loose for an elderly customer and nodded a greeting. I waited for, oh, thirty seconds before deciding I could find a replacement batter for my cordless phone. How hard could it be?

I pried open the back panel of the handset and then wandered over to the cordless phone section. Plenty of cordless phones, but no batteries. Finally, after wandering through half of the store I asked, “Do you have cordless phone batteries?”

The young man hardly looked up from his battery-wrestling, “Yes.”

“Where?” I snapped. He pointed to an area I hadn’t searched and I walked over to find an array of batteries.

I looked again at the battery in my hand, “Six volt, 600 m..” I stared at the batteries hung haphazardly on hooks in no particular order. After two minutes of shifting back and forth and noticing that none of them were on their correct hooks anyway I swept up a stack and marched up to the front.

“Umm, Ma’am? I can just scan that and find out which battery you need.” Poor kid, he was sounding a bit frazzled.

“Well your batteries are all hanging willy nilly, with no real order to them. I’ll just organize them for you,” I smiled at him as I began quickly sorting them into piles.

“Really Ma’am, that isn’t necessary,” his voice sounded strained.

Suddenly he was the picture of efficiency, ringing up the customer before me and quickly reaching for the batteries I had sorted to scan one and see which one was needed. How relieved he was to send me on my way! Okay, I’ll admit it, I felt like the lead character on the TV show “Monk”, minus the obsessive compulsive hand washing.

But this is my life.

The other day I was at an organizing assignment and the client and I were organizing her kitchen. I suggested moving the spices and teas to a large built-in lazy Susan and asked the client if it was okay if I alphabetized her spices. She rolled her eyes and said, “That will take forever! And the first time I use the spices it will just get all messed up!”

“Humor me, I’ll do all the alphabetizing.”


A few minutes later we had all of her spices alphabetized, duplicates combined or set behind the first one, and everything had a place. “Now, see here, if you remove the sage, you will have an empty spot, so it’s easy to see where to put it back. Just try it for a while.” She smiled and nodded, commenting that it did make sense and promising to try it out.

So I alphabetize spices…this is my life.

The other day, at that fabulous class with Christian Legacy Church Women’s Retreat, I admitted to keeping a file folder labeled ‘Weeds’ on my hard drive. Yes, you heard me right. I have a folder of digital photos of weeds on the hard drive of my computer.

See, my husband and I have a large yard. We love flowers, and don’t particularly love grass, so we have several perennial gardens that often volunteer some rather odd plants. I will insist it is a weed, he will insist it is a flower. So we let it grow. It usually turns out to be a weed (small surprise there) and I take a picture of it, so that we won’t repeat the same argument next year.

So I keep a file folder of digital pictures of weeds…this is my life.

If you think I’m odd now, wait until you meet me.


Economy of Movement March 5, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christine @ 12:57 pm

I mentioned ‘Economy of Movement’ in my previous entry and promised to address it—so here goes.

While I have no idea if this is an original idea unique to me, or if I heard it somewhere and adapted it for my own use, but it works like this—each movement that we make should be as efficient as possible.

The seeds to this idea started in one of my first jobs as a teenager working in the mail room for an investment firm. There I helped collate, insert and mail prospectuses to potential clients, ran errands, and did general clean-up. Collating is pretty mindless work, and I liked it because it allowed me to talk or think on subjects or a variety of other activities that I wouldn’t have been able to do while performing a more challenging task. But it was boring, so I tried to think up ways of getting it done sooner – despite the fact that that meant less pay – so that I could then pursue whatever new subject had caught my interest. I was thirteen, so my attention span in the ‘work’ department could be rather…spotty.

I began to see how many steps I could eliminate—steps to the copier, steps to the paper trays, the supplies, and the postage machine. Conversely I realized I couldn’t overload the paper trays or stack the envelopes too high, or the resulting collapse, paper jams and mess would make the task even longer. I began to count every stack, find the ‘perfect’ number and would spout it off to the nearest co-worker, whether they wished to hear it or not.

Thus was born the idea of ‘economy of movement’ which I have continued to use in different forms throughout my life. If I’ve lost you, or you think I’m really weird, or you are busy wondering if I’m going to start spouting off numbers—relax, and continue to read. It gets better, I promise!

When you wash and dry a load of laundry all that is left is to fold and put each piece away, right? Okay, now as you are standing there, maybe with the television on to keep you entertained, do you fold a shirt and then immediately put it away? Or do you make a stack of like items (your son’s clothes in one pile, or separate stacks of shirts, pants, et cetera) and then put them away?

Hopefully you answered ‘yes’ to the latter. If not, stop what you are doing, you’re wasting valuable time and effort! Folding clothes, separating them into stacks or categories and then putting them away is an example of Economy of Movement, plain and simple.

In my previous entry I also spoke of energy, and how you need to conserve it, expand on it, and use it to your best advantage to get blocks of organizing done. If you are running back and forth between rooms, up and down stairs, ferrying one or two objects at a time—you are wasting energy. This makes the organizing process, an already mentally exhausting experience also physically exhausting.

Practice Economy of Movement by staging items into piles, preparing them for other locations. I usually sort by room – so if I find toys they go into the ‘Emily’ pile, books land in the ‘basement’ pile (I have a reading nook down there), the baby thermometer goes in the ‘hall bathroom’ pile, et cetera. Once I have sorted through everything and made piles of locations to take the items to, I immediately move them to those particular locations. Using this approach means that I, a) don’t leave the area that I am organizing and get distracted, and b) conserve my energy to move the items I have organized and get them put away in their ‘homes’.

It takes a little practice and perseverance to effectively utilize Economy of Movement. Some may find it easy, but most will slip up and find themselves in another room wondering what they were doing. Keep thinking “Economy of Movement” and pretty soon you will find that you get more accomplished in a chunk of time than you thought possible. And in this busy world of ours, you will find that to be a welcome trait to have.


Find the Energy March 3, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christine @ 12:56 pm

I have a confession to make.

I used to be terrified of crowds, shy to the point of muteness, and completely incapable of anything as bold as giving a speech. And as I drove home Saturday, on top of the world after spending an hour with 45 fabulous women and speaking to them about how to get organized, I realized just how much my life has changed in just a few short years.

I am reminded of just how lucky I am and how far I have come from that shy young adult that I once was. My college Speech teacher would be so proud along with many others who have known me and seen my metamorphosis.

Talking to people about how to get organized, sharing knowledge, encouraging change and seeing their nods and smiles of understanding is so…energizing. I feel as if I am flying by the time the class has ended. I’m ready to march into the biggest, baddest organizational challenge and be a part of that life-changing event.

Saturday was a fabulous day, a golden moment, a day I can tuck into my memories and revisit when I’m faced with those challenging, difficult moments that everyone has. I spoke to these women in a room that was standing room only and I felt their energy and enthusiasm and interest surge through me. I have no doubt that a large part of that energy was due to their very purpose there—it was a women’s retreat through the Christian Legacy Church—and their enthusiasm was contagious! I left there so appreciative of the opportunity, and so jazzed to have met and spoken with such a fantastic group of women.

It reminds me that energy is just what we need when we begin to organize. Often my clients have lived so long with the mess that they are simply overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. They stare around at the mess and feel their energy drop just by the act of looking at it!

Clutter and mess and disorganization can literally be debilitating and despite what you might think, most of us will experience an organizational challenge at some point in our lives. I have met clients who speak of being completely organized at one time, and having illness sneak up on them, or loss, or a multitude of life-changing events that lead down a path to chaos. It happens to so many of us, yet we are embarrassed and rarely speak of it. We let the clutter creep into each closet and cupboard of our homes, and eventually, when it has filled those storage spaces to a state of complete uselessness, we see it migrate out into our living spaces as well.

So how do you get that energy to tackle the organizational challenges in front of you?

  • Be well rested before you begin
  • Ask for help from others in babysitting your children so that you can devote your full attention to the task at hand
  • Enlist the help of family or friends
  • Start out small, and build up (one room, even one drawer at a time)
  • Practice ‘economy of movement’ (I’ll touch on this subject in a later entry)
  • Reward yourself (no, not by buying more items! Instead go out to dinner or see a movie after you have accomplished an organizing task)
  • Hire a professional organizer – we have the emotional distance from your belongings that you may not have and the experience that it takes to help you move towards a less cluttered life

You will find that as you accomplish your goals – first the small ones and then ever-larger challenges – that your energy levels will grow and grow. It is a process that will improve your life, one drawer, closet or bedroom at a time.