When is Enough?

Helpful Organizer BlogHave you ever ask yourself, “When do I have enough?” Is enough when every drawer and cupboard in our homes are stuffed to the max? Is enough when we can’t possible fit another thing in our closets? Is enough when we can’t see the walls in the kid’s playroom because the toys are stacked to the ceiling? It’s an interesting question, and I know the answer is different for everyone.

So, I challenge you to go through your personal possessions, and the rooms in your home, and ask yourself, “Do I have enough?” Open your closet and ask yourself, “Do I have enough shoes? Handbags?” Pull out your kitchen drawer and ask yourself, “Do I have enough gadgets?” Look at your bookcase and ask yourself, “Do I have enough books?” Open your desk drawer and ask yourself, “Do I have enough technology? Office supplies?” What answers did you come up with?

Deciding when you have enough maybe something new to you. It may be something you’ve never really thought of before. If that is the case here are a few guidelines that can help you.books

  1. Use containers as your guide. For example allow yourself one bin of handbags. When the bin is full, and you can still close it, you have enough handbags. This guide can also be used for toys, DVDs, decorations, games, and craft supplies.
  2. Pick a maximum number and use that as your guide. So, pick a number that will signify when you have enough of something, and only keep that number. For example keep only 2 sets of towels per person. This guide can also be used for bed sheets, coffee mugs, eye glasses, water bottles, and umbrellas.
  3. Use organizing products as your guide. For example allow yourself one shoe rack. When the shoe rack is full, you have enough shoes. This guide can also be used for books, tools, jewelry, cosmetics, and kitchen utensils.
  4. Use a date as your guide by creating your own expiration date. For example give yourself 3 months to use a recipe by putting an expiration date on the recipes when it’s received or printed. This guide can also be used for magazines, unmatched socks, catalogues, and things waiting to be repaired.

Setting up guidelines will help you know when you have enough, but what then? What do you do with the extra and surplus? I practice the one in, one out rule. This means if something new pushes me beyond the “enough” mark, something old has to go. For example if I get a new pair of shoes, then an old pair has to be donated. This also helps when I’m shopping, because now I’ve gotten in the habit of asking myself, “If I buy this, what will I let go?” This  requires time and practice, I know, but I’d like to hear your progress on finding your ENOUGH.

Another helpful organizing tip can be read in my blog about exit strategies.

©September 2017  Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer®  All Rights Reserved

Pocketbook Editing

Organizing tipHow often do you go through your pocketbook and get rid of all that can be tossed? Do you wait until you find yourself sifting through a crumpled mess of old receipts and candy wrappers? Do you hold off until your arm gets sore from hefting all that loose change that’s fallen to the bottom of your bag? Or, do you simply switch your wallet and cell phone to a different pocketbook when the mess gets too cumbersome to deal with?

What about the kid’s backpacks? How often do you sort through those? What about the fridge, medicine cabinet, or pantry? What about your closet, dresser, or nightstand? I’m not going to mention mail, files, coupons, recipes, or other paper. That’s a whole new topic.

Taking time to sort through and get rid of stuff helps us stay organized. By editing the contents of our pocketbooks (and all those other areas mentioned or not mentioned) we perform an important step in the organizing process, the discard and remove step. By removing what is not wanted, needed, or used, we’re able to spend less time searching for stuff. We’re also able to easily notice when something needs to be replaced, mended, or renewed.

One important factor to consider is the frequency in which we edit. If it takes a week for those receipts to become a crumpled mess, then weekly edits need to take place. If not the mess becomes very frustrating. To help reduce our stress with a disorganized, overstuffed pocketbook (or other area) timely edits are necessary. What would you consider timely? Once a week? Every other week? Once a month?

Whatever time frame you use, consistency in editing is another important factor. Creating the habit of going through your pocketbook every week (or whatever time frame you use) helps you stay organized. It also helps reduce your stress and frustration, and helps your ability to find what you want when you need it. Worthwhile benefits. Wouldn’t you agree?

©July 2017  Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer®  All Rights Reserved



Help Veterans Organize

Helpful Organizer BlogI was thrilled to be interviewed by Rebecca Jennings, Town of North Attleboro, Veteran Service Officer on NorthTV on June 8, 2017 on a show called Veterans’ Forum. The half hour interview is about how I can help Veterans organize. I shared how I help my clients with their organizing, downsizing, and de-cluttering projects. I provide tips on how to start an organizing project, and how to use a five step process to get organized. I also share some helpful resources for donating and getting rid of stuff. It was exciting to be on my local TV channel. The interview can be viewed on YouTube. Want to see?

I am offering to help Veterans organize their homes in 2017. The offer is ten (10) complimentary hours of organizing with me, Janine Cavanaugh, CPO® ($600.00 value). For more information please email me.

©June 2017  Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer®  All Rights Reserved

3D Character and question mark

Keep or Not Keep

Helpful Organizer BlogIf you had to guess the dollar amount of new, unopened items in your home, what would you guess? Don’t count food or paper goods. Count surplus items, unopened gifts, new clothing that hasn’t been worn, backup items, unopened craft items, new shoes that haven’t been worn, unopened tech toys, new books that haven’t been read, and any other such items. What would your guess be?

It’s estimated that the dollar amount of new, unopened items in the average American household is $7000.00. Do you believe it? I didn’t until I started counting. So, start counting? What do you come up with? Please share.

There are many reasons we purchase things that we don’t end up using, just like there are many things we hold on to for no valid reason. Making decisions on what to keep or not to keep can be challenging. Are you having trouble making decisions? Is it a struggle for you to get rid of things? I’ve devised a Keep Quiz that will help.  Here are the instructions. Ask yourself the following ten questions. Please answer them honestly, and then follow the rest of the instructions.

  1. Is it practical and will definitely be used?
  2. Does it hold value and significance to me?
  3. Does it fit my lifestyle and is exactly my taste?
  4. Would it be very expensive and time consuming to replace?
  5. Is it a genuine treasure and irreplaceable?
  6. Does it help me live the life I want to live?
  7. Is it one-of-a-kind and unique?
  8. Was it hand-made just for me?
  9. Does it hold tremendous personal value to me?
  10. Does it bring me joy?

If you answer yes to 6 or more of the questions, yeah for you. It’s a keeper. If you answered yes to only 1 or 2 questions, it’s time to let it go. If you answered yes to 3-5 of the questions, give yourself 3 months to use the item. Put a sticky note on the item with the use-by-date. If, in 3 months, it hasn’t been used, let it go. However, if the item is meant for display, put it in a prominent place for 3 months. At the end of 3 months take the Keep Quiz again and see if you get different numbers.

How did you do on the Keep Quiz? Did it prompt you to take some action? I hope so. Please share.

© May 2017  Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer®  All Rights Reserved

Janine with donation box

Determine, Decide, Dispose

Helpful Organizer Blog

How easy is it for you to get rid of stuff? Deciding what is worth keeping and what needs to go, can be difficult. I follow a three step confirming process. These three steps help me confirm what I have, and decide what I need, use, and want. The first step is to determine what I have. The second step is to decide what stays and what goes. The third step is to dispose of stuff. Let me explain how this confirming process works.




The first step is to determine what I have. This means gathering and assessing. I pick a small group of items to work with at a time. Instead of working with all my clothes, I work with just my spring wardrobe. Another example is instead of working with all my books, I only work with my organizing books. This helps reduce the time needed to complete the process, and helps prevent procrastination. Once I’ve chosen which category I want to work with, I gather the items into one location and assess them.

The second step is to decide what stays and what goes. I find it helpful to have criteria for what items stay and what items go. I call them my confirming guidelines, and they help me make decisions.

Examples of confirming guidelines:
1. It has to go if it’s broken, damaged, or missing parts, and you’re not going to fix it or pay to have it fixed within 3 months.
2. It has to go if it hasn’t been used in the past 3 years and won’t be used in the next 3 years.
3. It has to go if it is more than one size too big or too small.
4. It has to go if it’s torn, stained, or moldy, and you’re not going to fix it or pay to have it fixed within 3 months.
5. It has to go if it doesn’t reflect your current lifestyle. (Use 3 year timeline.)
6. It has to go if it’s very similar or identical to another item. Keep three favorites and the rest have to go.
7. It has to go if you’ve already purchased a replacement for it.
8. It has to go if it’s something you don’t like, or something that never worked right or fit right.
9. It has to go if the reason you’re holding onto it is not a good, valid reason. (See blog articles)
10. It has to go if it brings negative thoughts or causes self doubt.

The third step is to dispose of the stuff. It helps to schedule a day for removal, whether it is donations, items to be recycled or items to be given away. Voila! Confirming process complete.

© April 2017   Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer®   All Rights Reserved