3D Character and question mark

2 Most Common Organizing Issues

One of the most common issues people face when organizing and downsizing is deciding what to keep. Here is a tool that is helpful during the decision making process. This tool is from the book, Organizing for Dummies by Eileen Roth and Elizabeth Miles.

When deciding to save or not use the acronym WASTE.

  • W = worthwhile
  • A = again
  • S = somewhere else
  • T = toss
  • E = entire

This acronym is a great tool because it prompts us to ask questions regarding the usefulness of the items on which we’re deciding. We need to be honest with our answers and with our assessment of the items in question.

  • Why is this item worthwhile to keep?
  • When will we use it again within the next year?
  • Can we find it easily somewhere else, if we need to?
  • What will happen if we toss it?
  • Do we need the entire thing? If not, keep what we need and toss the rest.

A second common issue people face when organizing and downsizing is deciding what to do with the items that aren’t being kept. The options are countless, but what I have witnessed over the years is that it’s helpful to find a donation destination that motivates us to let go of stuff. Let me share some of the most common ones that I use for myself and for my clients.

 

©November 2021  Janine Cavanaugh, CPO  All rights reserved

Let go of Someday

Do you hold onto things because you think you might need them someday? It’s tempting to believe in someday. However, I want you to reconsider and think about these possible scenarios.

Someday arrives and…

  • You can’t find that specific item you’ve been holding onto for all these years. It’s not where you thought it was.
  • The thing you saved is no longer in working condition and you have to purchase a new one.
  • You can’t get at it because it’s buried under a pile of stuff.
  • You’ve wasted so much time looking for it, you’ve decided it’s easier to make do without or to find an alternative solution.
  • You’ve decided to let it go, but it no longer has any value. No one wants it, and you have to pay to get it out of your house.

In my 14 years of helping people organize their homes, these scenarios happen all the time. People cling to items thinking they will be of value at some point in the future.  They can’t pinpoint when that timeframe is, so they use the word someday. However a much more common occurrence is the someday they’ve been waiting, and waiting and waiting for, never arrives!

I do want to point out the difference between being prepared for possible emergencies and disasters verses holding onto items for a hypothetical someday. When you build an emergency kit you’re taking precautions to protect you and your family. When you cling to items that you MIGHT use SOMEDAY you’re avoiding making a decision on these items.

Therefore I urge you to let go of someday! Make room for today.

©October 2021  Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer   All rights reserved

Would you rather?

Would You Rather

Would you rather…

…wear a banana costume for a complete day (not on Halloween) or strategically remove all your clothes that don’t fit and flatter you?

…let go of 5 sentimental thing or let a tarantula crawl up your arm?

…thoroughly organize your junk drawer or jump off a high dive?

… have oral surgery or organize your kitchen cupboards?

…get rid of all your current tchotchkes or buy absolutely nothing for two whole weeks?

… wear a blindfold for a day or reduce your book collection by 50%?

…mow the lawn in your bathing suit or get rid of 10 items you’ve been holding onto for someday?

…donate 6 gifts you’ve received but don’t like, or shave your head?

…clear out and organize your file cabinet or tell your neighbors that you love them?

…spend $100.00 per month for a year on a storage unit or work with a Professional Organizer for 10 hours at a rate of $70.00 per hour?

 

So, what did you find out about yourself and your willingness to organize you spaces, places and stuff? I bet you realized that some decisions are easier than others. Please share your insights with me.

©September 2021   Janine Cavanaugh, CPO   All rights reserved

Experiment Living with Less

We are all consumers. We live in a society that values possessions. Our world economy relies on us spending our money on stuff. But does that stuff accumulate too fast and take on a life of its own? Do we end up with too much? Does the volume of things make organizing them stressful and difficult? Are you looking for way to get off the hamster wheel?

Experiment living with less. There are several ways we can accomplish this. Here are a few experiments to try.

  • Pack up half of your pots and pans. Date the box and put it in the basement for 3 months. Document how many times you retrieve something from it. Consider donating what doesn’t get retrieved. If you like this experiment do it with linens, toiletries, and kitchen gadgets.
  • Pack up all your CDs and DVDs and seal the box. Only take one out of the box when you really want to listen to it or watch it. After 6 months see how many are still in the box and decide whether you’d like to keep them. If you like this experiment do it with clothes, books, and serving dishes.
  • Establish a maximum number for certain possessions and reduce down to that number. You can find examples of a few numbers I suggest at Organizing with a Maximum Number. If you like this experiment do it with shoes, food storage containers, and coffee mugs.
  • Set up a temporary shopping ban for one month, or longer. Only purchase the absolute essentials, food, toilet paper, medications and the like. Keep a list of all the things you wanted to buy and the items that tempted you. At the end of the month share with me your insights.
  • Play the Minimalist Game. It’s interesting and challenging. When I played with my husband, we learned a lot about our relationship to stuff.stuff to donate

The less we have the less we have to organize and maintain. Try one or more of the experiments listed above and see what results you get. You may be pleasantly surprised and more organized.

©July 2021  Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer,  All Rights Reserved

Do you own stagnant things?

Stagnant means lifeless, inactive. Do you have stagnant things in your home? Do you have things that have outlived their usefulness? I think we all do. The longer we live in our spaces the more comfortable we get with our surroundings. It becomes easy to ignore papers that don’t require action, gadgets we tried once, and random things that have become part of our decor.  After a while we don’t see these things any longer. They morph into the background of our homes.

After attending a conference session on Feng Shui I decided to get rid of stagnant things in my home. I’ll list 10 stagnant things I removed my home to help you get motivated to do the same.

  1. An old cardboard display that I had used for a few business presentation more than 5 years ago was recycled with my weekly town recycle.
  2. An open, partially used bottle of carbon, that is used in fish tank filters, was given away by listing it on FreeCycle.
  3. A bag of craft supplies that I hadn’t used in more than 5 years was passed along to other creative people I know.
  4. Unused food in my pantry was donated to my local food bank and Operation Shoebox.
  5. Gardening gloves that I wore only once because they turned my hands orange were tossed.
  6. Our ice maker broke 2 years ago. So I finally donated (to Savers) the scoop we had used for that purpose, but hadn’t used since.
  7. Old makeup was tossed. I haven’t worn make up in years.
  8. A soup ladle that came with a soup delivery when I was sick, but never used, was donated to Savers.
  9. Two spare, never been used, hand-me-down light timers were donated to Habitat for Humanities ReStore.
  10. An open container of Armor All wipes that were given to me a year ago, finally got used up.

These 10 stagnant things may not seem like much, but they have a way of piling up and cluttering our homes. I encourage you to take a good look at your home and reevaluate what’s in your space. If you find stagnant things, get rid of them. You’ll improve the energy of your home (Feng Shui) which will have a positive impact on you.

©June 2021  Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer®  All Rights Reserved