Clutter

Keep up with Change

Organizing tip

Change is sure to happen. Keeping up with change requires making decisions and taking action. If we neglect this, clutter builds. As clutter builds, accumulated amounts become overwhelming and more decisions need to be made. As time passes action becomes more difficult to take. So keep up with change to stay clutter-free and organized.

Clutter removal project - before

Do-It-Yourself Organizing

Helpful Organizer Blog

Are you a do-it-yourself kind of person? Do you clean your own house, mow your own grass, shovel your own driveway? Is organizing a do-it-yourself project? What about downsizing, clearing out the garage, or getting rid of all that has accumulated in the basement? From what I’ve experienced in my 11 years as a Professional Organizer, it depends on three things. It depends on the volume of mess, thoughts and feelings about the mess, and amount of time one has to devote to organizing and clearing the mess. All three of these factors help us determine whether we want help, need help, or can tackle it on our own.

Let’s first discuss the volume of mess. The amount that needs to be organized affects whether we cry for help or think we can manage on our own. Most of us are willing to organizing a junk drawer on our own, and even a kitchen pantry, desk top or medicine cabinet, but what about our closets, basement, or garage?

Secondly, let’s discuss our thoughts and feelings about the mess. How stressed and overwhelmed are we about it? Is this causing us to stall and procrastinate. Are we frustrated trying to figure out where to start?

Lastly, let’s discuss the time we have to devote to organizing? How much time do we want to devote to clearing the mess? Do you want to eat up your precious free time organizing your closet or family room?

We all have our own tolerance levels. That point where we just can’t stand it any longer, and things have to change. When do you reach yours, and do you ask for help once you’ve gotten there? Help is available. I’m available. If you’re not within 15 miles of North Attleboro, MA you can find a Professional Organizer in your area by visiting the website for the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals.  If you are close to North Attleboro, MA I’d be happy to assist you if you’d like help. Email me today.

©March 2019  Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer®  All Rights Reserved

one dollar bills

No One Needs a Lifetime Supply of Anything!

Helpful Organizer BlogWhen I heard this phrase, “No one needs a lifetime supply of anything!” I laughed. I understand that the phrase is an exaggeration, but it is also true. Excessive shopping and stockpiling can create real issues. There is value in having a well stocked pantry, and it’s important to be prepared for emergencies, but when do we have enough? We are constantly being encouraged to buy, and the message that more is better is pushed on us. It is often difficult to know when we have enough and when we have too much.

When I asked a group of business women the question, “What does more stuff equal?” I was thinking they would answer that more stuff equals more to organize and maintain, but the resounding answer was, “More Stress!” These women clearly understood that more is not always better, but do they live that way? The average American household has 300,000 things in it. How many of those things get used regularly or frequently? How much time is wasted taking care of all the things we own?

I’d like to propose an experiment. In order to become more mindful consumers, establish a self imposed shopping ban for one month. Buy only essentials, such as food, medications, and toiletries for a month. Purchase what is needed, but no surplus, excess, or impulse buys. If you’re up for a tougher challenge, extend your shopping ban to include take-out food and eating out for the month. Notice what happens. How does it feel? Is it difficult or easy to shop less and spend less? Please share your experience with me.

My husband and I imposed the tough shopping ban for one month and found that shopping less was fairly easy, but we are lazy cooks. When we’re tired or our pantry is bare, we succumb to the temptation to eat out or get take out. We decided to work on this. We are trying new recipes, experimenting with new food and ingredients, and visiting the grocery store more often. We’re still working on this, but I’m happy with our progress so far.

Here are some additional ideas on how we can become more mindful consumers.

  • Buy multi-use and multi-purpose items. Examples: all purpose cleaners, multi-season jacket, furniture that serves a dual purpose.
  • Value quality over quantity to prevent the need for frequent replacement. (Example: better quality clothing, furniture, footwear, kitchen items)
  • Be a “cart” user when shopping on-line. Put items in cart and let them sit for a minimum of 2 weeks and then reevaluate before purchasing.
  • Be resourceful and use what we have. (Example: Use something completely to prevent waste. Eat left overs. Re-purpose items.)
  • Use up items from the pantry or fridge to show one empty shelf before replenishing.
  • Experiment with the power of ONE – Only one of each item and only one product open at a time. No back up items or duplicates.
  • Practice 1 in 1 out guideline.
  • Use gatekeeper questions.
  • Establish shopping guidelines.

©December 2018  Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer®  All Rights Reserved

Less Possessions

Helpful Organizer BlogAs the holiday season approaches I’d like to encourage us all to find greater pursuits in life than material possessions. Instead of spending time shopping and acquiring more stuff, please consider these alternatives.

  • Value people, wellness, and kindness over possessions. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, food bank, homeless shelter, or nursing home. Donate gently used coats, hats, gloves and warm clothing to charities like Cradles to Crayons and Salvation Army. One amazing charity that I donate to is a local program called Clothes to Go. (Contact me for details.)
  • Define ourselves by what we do, how we think, and who we love, rather than what we buy and own. Make it a priority to spend quality time with family and friends. Volunteer our time or resources to those in our family, neighborhood, and community that need help. One way that I’ve been giving back to the community is by delivering Meals On Wheels every Wednesday morning. It’s very rewarding.
  • Once we’ve covered our basic needs, our happiness has very little to do with the amount of stuff we own. So, share the wealth with those who could use some help, especially our veterans. A worthwhile program in which I’ve participated is organized by Soldiers’ Angels.
  • Value experiences over material possessions. Spend time cooking healthy meals as a family. Start a holiday tradition to hike or walk after the family feast. Play games together. Share photos and family stories with loved ones.
  • Embrace the JOMO = joy of missing out. Limit technology overload by establishing email, text, and screen blackout times. Live in the moment and savor it.
  • Be grateful and express your gratitude. Share what you’re thankful for in a gratitude journal.
  • Purchase consumable products and intangible things instead of something that takes up space. Ideas can be found on my clutter-free gift idea list.

©November 2018  Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer  All Rights Reserved

Define Minimalism

Helpful Organizer BlogHow would you define minimalism? I asked this question at the beginning of a presentation I gave recently at Brown University in Providence, RI. The answers I received were varied, but most of them included the concepts of intentionally having less stuff, and living a meaningful life with less material possessions. This was consistent with what I found while doing research for this presentation, and reading how established minimalists defined minimalism. I found three definitions that I could easily relate to, one by Joshua Becker, one by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, and one by Miss Minimalist, Francine Jay.

Joshua & Ryan define minimalism

Miss Minimalist defines minimalism

After reading these definitions I was inspired to come up with my own personal definition of minimalism. This is what I came up with:

Minimalism is a lifestyle choice in which we focus on:
…minimizing consumption by shopping less, buying less, using less.
…embracing limits through reducing, reusing, recycling.
…protecting our environment and natural resources with voluntary simplicity.
…finding greater pursuits in life than material possessions.

This definition became the outline for my presentation on embracing minimalism. It also inspired me to adopt a more of a minimalist lifestyle. I’ll be sharing my ideas, tips, and experiences on aspiring to be a minimalist in future blog articles. I hope you stay tuned and get inspired as well. If you’re interested in having me share my presentation on embracing minimalism, please contact me.

Below are some resources on minimalism that I’d like to share. I hope they encourage you to make changes in your life, like they have encouraged me.

  1. Joshua Becker’s website, books, and blog
  2. Joshua Fields Millburn’s & Ryan Nicodemus’ website, books, and blog
  3. Francine Jay’s website, books, and blog
  4. Courtney Carver’s website, books, and blog
  5. Patrick Rhone’s website, books, and blog
  6. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
  7. Becoming a Minimalist: Your Guide to Living a Great Life With Less Through Minimalism by Kimberly Wilson
  8. Minimalism: How Living on Less Means Living More Life by Addison Fenn
  9. The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life by Leo Bubauta
  10. You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too by Tammy Strobel

©October 2018  Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer  All Rights Reserved