Prime Real Estate

Let me just start by saying I could not have picked a client that I had more in common with. Mel had the same taste I do in movies, books, art, and is a phenomenal artist. She was doing the job I dreamed of doing when I got my unused degree in graphic design. Sorting through her things was like going through your mothers closet as a child. Everything was a bit magical and I was impressed by her collections.

But there was no place for anything. There are many different kinds of organization. What works for one person can be a fiasco for another. If your home organization system does not work with the flow of your space or how your brain works and organizes, it is not sustainable. Mel had piles of beautiful things, but her cupboards were empty. She had no clue where to put things, so she didn’t. She was unable to use her kitchen table or draw because there was no space clear. It made her feel very claustrophobic and she had no idea where to start in the organization process.

I began working in Mel’s house in the living room. Mel was working from home due to covid, and we felt she would get immediate relief from having a clear workspace that was not set up on her couch (she also ate, watched tv, and rested there). Being able to walk away from work at the end of the day would be a great relief to Mel. The progress was quite visible in the first session, and that would make her see the value of the process immediately, something I really enjoy. It was a bit of a surprise how little Mel actually had to get rid of. This job was actually an organization project, rather than a downsizing project. You see, Mel never learned as a child how to use the space in her home to create a flow. She came from a very cluttered home, and that carried over into her adult life. As we discussed what was ‘prime real estate’ in the living room, Mel had a lot of “ah ha” moments.

Prime real estate in your home is the central working areas. This means putting things directly within reach of the task being performed. Not understanding this process is what kept Mel from putting things away in the cupboards. She had gone through her home several times and found that within a month, it became undone. This was because the placement was wrong for her. Things used everyday were too far away from where she used them, or things that were seldom used were in the prime spots. I could see when sorting through Mel’s belongings that there was a flow based on where things were, in piles and that is where we created space for them. This created a sustainable organization system for her and actually improved her affection for her living space and her belongings. As we uncovered the table, the excitement was palpable. After I left that day, Mel texted me and said “I ate at my table for the first time in years! I even got out my good cloth napkins!”

This is why I love this work. The proof is in its sustainability. Pay attention to what gets undone the fastest in your home and where those items end up shifting to. It is a clue to how to adjust the prime real estate in your home and make it fit your lifestyle. Every pile tells a story. Listen.

If you have downsizing/organizing needs in the Eugene, Oregon area, CONTACT me.

Home Office Organization

I am amazed at how many credit card offers I get in one day. Coupled with insurance renewals, cell phone deals, and all the other crap that lands in my mailbox, it can be extremely overwhelming. I would find myself moving papers from place to place in my home because I felt weary just looking at them. I would gather them all on one place and throw them in my file cabinet. Out of sight, out of mind? Ugh. The future me clearly was not consulted in this though process. When I needed my passport to travel out of the country (!) the mountain of unwanted papers were hiding what I needed. This had to stop.

Does this sound familiar? I have a solution.

The first step is to get a new bin with a lid that to put in a high traffic area in your home. Something that can be kind of tucked away, but isn’t too small. If you are anything like me, a bright color will not make you feel stabby. Now head to that file cabinet (or desk, or table… no judgement here. Could be all three) and dump all of the papers that have accumulated in this bin. Deep breath. Do not pre-sort. This is a trap not to get caught in right now.

Next, go to the dollar twenty-five tree and get three garbage pails with no lids, one file folder, one basket to stack papers in flat, and a sharpie. This is the new organization system for your home. Write on the first pail RECYCLE, the second will be SHRED, and the final will be FILE ( I am assuming you have a trash bin in this space. If not, please get a fourth can for trash). Line the cans up near your new bin and admire how well you have prepared for this job and celebrate your success.

Now, decide when your sorting time will be. It might be while watching TV or right after dinner. But designate a time- at the minimum once a week- to sort one file folder worth of papers. The flat basket is for paper that need attention, and the other pails are pretty self-explanatory. Do more if it feels good, but do no less that one file folder a sitting. Empty the pails you can at the end of each session. Do you feel relief? Do not worry about how long the project is going to take or how long you waited to set up this system. What matters is NOW. Celebrate that your home office organization is happening now. Rockstar! Yes, you!!

When the large bin is empty, what should be left is a FILE pail, and a basket of papers that need attention. The pails can now be moved next to the desk and used as the mail arrives. This is now a familiar system to you and should honestly take less than a minute to do daily or twice a week. Place the “needs attention” bin on the desk, and let yourself feel excited that everything has a home and your journey to being organized in your home office is halfway complete.

The second stage of this process is a bit harder, not gonna lie. The designated time for your home office organization will now be filing important papers and taking action on the papers and accounts that need it. Do the filing one file folder at a time, because you know it works. This can be scary, but it is also liberating. How exciting to be taking control of your business life and making sure your important information is secure. You are on track. If calls need to be made, try to do one or two a week until the pile is gone. How satisfying!

Finally, once all of the paperwork around your home has been sorted, filed and attended to, the system will be reduced sorting the mail as it comes in. Then action and filing only happens weekly. In many instances monthly statements can be scanned to the computer or can go paperless to stop the influx of paper all together. Often companies will give discounts for going paperless. How’s that for a win/win? If a better filing system is needed, it is absolutely stunning how many options there are and how beautiful they are. Remember to start simple and celebrate every single victory along the way.

If you have downsizing/organizing needs in the Eugene Oregon area CONTACT me.

SPACE.

When I began speaking to my first client about reclaiming her space, she cried.

Having endured 8 months of lockdown in an apartment that was controlling her freedom and stifling her creativity had taken an emotional toll. She had no space.

She lived in a lovely apartment by herself. However, an emotional trauma from a particularly horrible break up had caused her to cocoon herself in belongings. Her clothing was on her table- there was no space to enjoy a meal. The walls were lined with stacks of paper and mostly unused items and there was very little walking space. She needed SPACE. Space to move freely and to just be.

I like to think about the word SPACE. The final frontier. Outer space. Personal space. Breathing space. Emotional space. Holding space. All of these forms of space hold wonder to me. Space is something I think about a lot.

I find that a person’s living space reflects their emotional state. An unkempt bedroom is a sign of sadness. People collect items to fill emotional voids. All of this takes space. In a world where marketing is telling us that a blender, clothing, or beauty products will help us fill the void, it’s no wonder so many are displeased with their living space. As we look for happiness in external items it creates a space that is unwell on an emotional level. This requires some deep thinking and releasing of a broken thought process to mend.

Things do not make you feel better. the promise of how the thing will heal you is the end goal, correct? The guitar will make music, and music is something you enjoy. The treadmill will make you fit, and being fit will bring you love. The 12 bottles of face washing system will make you look younger, and appearing younger will solve everything. Every item has an ideology of improvement attached to it. Most of these things are used for a short period of time, discarded, but yet they are still hanging around. When I say to a client “BUT DO YOU USE IT?” the shame is palpable. So is the relief of letting go.

I had a client that had more than 800 pounds of free weights in his home. When I did an initial consultation with him, I found that he did not lift weights. He WANTED to lift weights. When his daughter, who lives across the country came to take care of him when he took a fall, she was stunned by the state of her childhood home and scheduled a consult with me. When I asked him why he had so many weights, he told me that he was looking for the perfect set. When I worked with this man, I came to realize that he had an excess of just about everything. We counted 35 purple button down shirts in his closet! This clients things were occupying so much space that living in his home had become impossible. The counters were buried, the oven was full, only one of three bathrooms were usable. He confided in me that he wanted his daughter to have to sort through his things when he was gone. He wanted to leave something behind. She, in turn, was terrified by the amount sorrow she already felt, being in her fathers space.

With these two examples I have shared, I see two lovely people struggling with how their homes- which should be their sanctuary and a safe space- became a burden. One was trying to fill a hurt space inside of themselves, and the other was trying to leave a space that spoke of who he was.

We all have different reasons for filling our space with excess, and those things must be addressed or downsizing is a cycle, not a solution. As a professional organizer and downsizer, I find that so many people want to fix the problem with bins, baskets, and labels, but do not want to do the emotional work it takes to prevent this cluttering and collecting to occur again. Many organizers are very happy to take your money and move on. But that is a band-aid. I do not think organizers have ill intentions, I just think many do not understand the importance of what they are doing, and how much better it would serve the client to ask WHY and HOW the space got into it’s current state and how can it be prevented in the future. Understanding that your space is out of control because of an emotional need takes strength. It’s hard work, and it takes self reflection.

So- sit back, take a look around, and think about your surroundings. What does your space say to you?

If you are interested in downsizing and organizing services in Eugene, Oregon contact .

My Journey

When my kids took off to start their own lives, things took on a very strange momentum. My marriage was in it’s 25th and final year (unbeknownst to us) and we were planning a grand adventure to Central America for a month. We had been saving for a couple of years and we thought there was really not a better time to go.

But the house.

The house was too big and too full and just TOO much. Paying to maintain it for a month while absent seemed silly. We wanted to move. We wanted something smaller and manageable, with completely different creature comforts. The school district we were in no longer mattered so the sky was the limit. My husband and I had never purchased a home so there really was no reason not to cut ties with this giant house other than the massive amount of personal belongings. Thus began the journey from a full 4 bedroom home to a 10×10 storage unit and absolutely no home to come home to! Yes, we voluntarily became homeless and got rid of 80% of our- dare I say it… JUNK.

I decided to go through one room at a time starting with the kitchen, because it was completely apparent that I no longer needed nor wanted to cook for 7 people. I have no idea why I had 7 cake pans, 4 pie plates, and 6 sheet cake pans. I had never considered opening a bakery, nor did I go to the trouble of baking for bake sales (I mean, Fred Meyer cookies are so good. Why bother?) much to my children’s chagrin. I did use the cookie sheets every year for my Christmas cookie baking week but other than that, it was perplexing. I had two crock pots (two!!) with a healthy layer of dust on them, air poppers, salad shooters, 2 blenders, margarita/rocks/wine/martini/shot/champagne/pounder glasses aplenty, a waffle maker, corn skewers, taco holders, gravy boats, butter dishes, kool-aid pitchers, mismatched plastic containers (SO many), 3 full sets of silverware and enough plates to host a block party. Why? I sat on my kitchen floor filling bag after bag of unused appliances and kitchen crap and wondered how did it get this far?

As I went through each room it did not get any better. I donated bags and bags of clothing. My family are avid thrifters, so I consoled myself with the knowledge that I never paid full price for anything other than intimates and shoes, but I watched thousands of dollars worth of purchases go out of the house in black plastic bags. There were listings made and furniture sold. All five of the children were contacted and offered things, but we were rarely taken up on it, because no one actually wants your junk. I gave each of my children 2 weeks to come get their things left at the house and they really could not understand ‘why I could not just be like a normal parent and keep their crap forever’?

But I soldiered on.

It actually took two sweeps in each room to get down to a manageable amount of belongings. I feel it would have been easier if I would have had one hour to get 5 bins of what I could not live without in my new home. It is easier to decide what you can’t live without than it is to decide what to throw away. It’s a mindset. A paradigm shift, of sorts.

I began to notice with each carload I dumped off at the St. Vincent DePaul I began to breath easier (they pay power bills for people down on their luck and make toiletry bags for homeless people). I felt free and untethered. I began to get a rhythm in my thinking, “Do I love it? Do I use it? Do I need it?” I began to feel euphoric with each goodbye. I was letting go! I was saying no to my worldly goods! I felt so bohemian, so hippy, so one with the earth. My love of ‘Less is Better’ was born.

I managed to whittle a four bedroom house down to a small storage unit. I kept my washer and dryer, mattresses, TV, 2 lawn chairs, the computer and desk, a dresser, and approximately 10 bins of clothing and household goods. My husband and I put in our 30 days notice and wondered if we were actually planning on coming back from Central America. Like I said, the sky was the limit.

If you have downsizing/organizing needs in the Eugene, Oregon area, please CONTACT me.