clutter-free desk

Clutter-free Surfaces

Organizing tipIf you took a photo of all the flat surfaces in your home right now what would they look like? Are they cluttered with a bunch of stuff? Can you prepare a meal on your kitchen counter? What would you have to clear off in order to eat dinner on your dinning room table? How many piles of paper do you have on your desk? Can you see the surface top of your bathroom vanity? Is there any available space on top of your dresser, coffee table, night stand, end table? Here are 5 tips to help you create and keep clutter-free surfaces.

  1. Scan and empty surface areas each day in order to prevent clutter build-up.
  2. Clutter-free means that there is some available, usable space. Therefore clear off an 18 x 18 inch area of space on your work desk each night.
  3. Uses these flat surfaces as temporary activity areas.
  4. Limit yourself to 3-5 permanent items per surface area.
  5. Don’t use surfaces as storage areas. Have a place for everything and put it in it’s place.


The Joy of Less

Helpful Organizer BlogDuring the past 10 years I’ve been in business, I’ve worked with over 1450* individuals to help them organize, downsize, and de-clutter. Although every project is different, with its own unique goals, the outcome is always achieved by getting rid of some stuff. The process of organizing includes removing what we no longer need, use, or want.3 steps to organizing process By removing stuff we free ourselves from the burden of having more than we can successfully maintain. By reducing the amount of material possessions we own, we have less to organize, clean, and stress about. Having less allows us to spend more time on what is important to us. Spending more time on what we enjoy improves the quality of our lives. The conclusion is we find the joy of less.

Through the years, I’ve witnessed how my clients’ lives improve with less stuff, and I’ve also seen first-hand how having less stuff has improved my life. My husband and I have participated in the Minimalist Game twice, May 2016 and June 2017. Each time we were successful in completing the game and getting rid of 930 things. We decided not the play the game this year, but we are continuing our efforts to have less, buy less, and reduce often. To us, having less means we have enough and aren’t overstuffed or overwhelmed by our things. Having less means we appreciate what we do have and really see the value in it. Instead of being overabundant with material possessions, we are working on being abundant in love, friendship, happiness, kindness, and gratitude. We are continuing to work on finding the joy of less.

Has this motivated you to see what having less will look like to you? What it will feel like? Will it bring you joy? One way to find out is to let go of all that you no longer need, use, or want, and experience the outcome. Keep me posted, I’d really enjoy hearing your story.

* This number includes hands-on paying clients as well as organizing students and presentation attendees.

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

one chair

Try Minimalism

Organizing tipExperiment with minimalism. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live with less? Why not give it a try? Less stuff means you have less to organize and maintain. Here are 3 ideas for you to sample for the month or for two weeks.

  1. Purchase only food and absolute necessities, but nothing else. To make it more challenging don’t eat out, get take out, or go through a drive thru.
  2. Put 5 items into a donation box each day and schedule a donation pick up at the end of the month. Make sure you only put in items that belong to you. It is very easy to get rid of other peoples’ “junk”.
  3. Schedule 3 fun activities with family and friends that have nothing to do with bringing home material goods.
clutter in basement

Keep Clutter at Bay

10 years in business
in 2018!

I’m happy to be celebrating 10 years in business
, but I wouldn’t be in business if it wasn’t for my sister. She was looking for a new job in 2007 when I was, and that is when we decided to attend a NAPO New England meeting. After that meeting I knew I wanted to start my own business and become a Professional Organizer. My sister decided to pursue a different direction, but if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Thanks sis! I owe it all to you!  

Recent Blog Articles:

Downsizing Action Plan

Organizing Small Spaces

Why We Hold Onto Things?

Innies or Outies

Question:  Do you change your wardrobe in the spring and pack away your winter clothes? If so, do you spend time removing items you didn’t wear or don’t wish to hold onto until next winter?  Please share.
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Hi  Janine,

      I’m amazed each year at the colorful  transformation spring brings from brown and drab to green and lush. It motivates me to transform my home into something lighter and brighter. What about you? Do you get motivated to make changes and improvements to your home? Do you get motivated to organize and declutter?

Here are 10 things I do to keep clutter at bay.

  1. Have a do-it-now attitude. I do my best to make decisions and take action in a timely manner. This helps prevent piles from starting and growing.
  2. Make bed every morning. This small act helps me jump start my day creating order.
  3. Have a morning and evening routine, and include activities essential to health and well-being. These routines allow me to start and end my day with calm focus. Two activities included in my morning routine are eating breakfast and meditating. Two activities included in my evening routine are preparing for the next day by reviewing my calendar and planning my outfit.
  4. Have a place for everything and put everything in it’s place. If you struggle with this, I recommend establishing a home for important items that you use daily, for example, wallet, keys, pocketbook, and toiletries.
  5. Have a return-home-routine. I allow myself time to put things away each time I enter my house. This prevents me from littering my entryway with piles of clutter and facilitates an organized home.
  6. Process mail daily. If you struggle with this, I recommend that you collect all incoming mail into a specific container and pick two days a week to processed what is in the container.
  7. Use personal daily calendar that keeps track of important actions that need to get done. A calendar is a great tool for keeping appointments and remembering birthdays, but I find it’s real value is prompting me to take action on tasks and projects.
  8. Use weekly tickler files. I use pocket folders to collect notes and papers that would otherwise be all over the place. The system I created for myself is one folder for the current week, two folders for the following two weeks, and a folder for anything beyond 3 weeks. I schedule time on Sunday night or Monday morning to organize all 4 folders.
  9. Use a donation box. This is a box that holds what I wish to get rid of until I can drop it off for donation. This box performs the important task of helping me separate what I don’t want from what I’m currently using.
  10. Spend time every day reclaiming order.

Shredding Resources

Now that tax season is over it’s a great time to shred all the old papers and files you don’t need. If you’d like a list of how long to hold onto a particular papers visit or

Here are 2 shredding options for you:

  1. Mansfield Shredding Services – They are a non-profit organization located in Mansfield, MA, that has pick-up and walk-in services. They offer a certificate of destruction. 508-618-4222
  2. Shred ‘N’ Go – They are located in Johnston, RI and have pick-up and walk-in services. They offer a certificate of destruction. 401-943-0522

Janine Cavanaugh, CPO®
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If you’ve worked with me in any capacity, I’d be grateful for a review.  Simply click on this link and answer 3 questions.  Thank you and happy organizing!

Downsizing Action Plan

Helpful Organizer BlogOne of my most popular workshop topics is downsizing. People want help with where to start and how to progress through the difficult task of letting go. They’re looking for guidance on how to make decisions about sentimental items and all the other things that have been accumulating in their homes. They’re hoping to get rid of stuff so their children won’t have to deal with it all. Therefore, I’ve devised a 7 Step Downsizing Action Plan that I share and discuss in my workshops. Here it is.

Step 1 – Prepare
Get ready for the transition by taking a close look at your options and where you are headed. Psych yourself up to make decisions about your next home and material possessions. Share the news with everyone and ask for help from family and friends, or seek professional assistance.

Step 2 – Write it down
Plan to work 8 hours for every year you’ve lived in your current home. Schedule 2 or 3 hours at a time and work for 20 minutes followed by a 5 minute break.

Step 3 – Get started
If you have a far off deadline (more than 8 months), start by removing items that you don’t want, use, or need. These items will include things that have been stored for others, unfinished fix-it projects, old hobbies, duplicate items, surplus stuff, items of which there are excessive quantity, broken things, expired items, outdated stuff, and damaged goods.
If you have a near deadline, divide items into 6 different categories and tag them. (I use colored painter’s tape to tag items.) The 6 categories are keep, recycle, toss, donate, give or return, and sell.

Step 4 – Reduce
Set limits by taping off cabinets, closets, storage areas, and rooms in your current home that won’t be available in your new home. Work to empty those areas of their contents.

Ask “W” Questions to help you make decisions:
Who? Who will use and maintain this item? Who gave it to you and is that relevant?
What? What purpose does this item serve? What would the giver tell you to do?
Where? Where do you want to make room for this item?
When? When is this item used, appreciated, viewed, treasured? When is it maintained?
Why? Why would you need this item in our new home? Why are you holding onto it?

Step 5 – Address Sentimental Items
Consider the cost of clinging to sentimental items. It takes a lot of money to pack, move, ship, insure, store, and maintain our belongings. Concentrate on keeping the memories, but not the stuff, by preserving them with words and photos. Do this with digital scrapbooks, videos, and a gratitude journal. Instead of having them gather dust in the attic, treasure them by highlighting the best and letting go of the rest.  Re-purposing them or use them in a different way so they sever a current need or look for a way that items can bring joy to others.

Step 6 – Establish Exit Strategy
An exit strategy is physically removing stuff by giving, donating, selling, or recycling what you no longer want, need, or use.
Give options:  Ask people you know if they want what you’re discarding. Ask family, friends, neighbors, club members, church members, past co-workers, and others. Put items on the curb with a free sign. Use Freecycle or Buy Nothing.
Donation options:  Give to charities, non-profits, religious organizations, Boy/Girl Scouts, senior centers, schools, camps, day-cares, shelters, libraries, theater groups, historical societies, and food banks.
Selling options:  Look into antique dealers, auctions, estate sales, consignment shops, on-line sites, newspapers, garage sales, estate liquidation.
Removal Companies:  Consider junk trucks, dumpsters, all-in-one clean out, complete house clean out companies.

Step 7 – Thrive in Smaller Space with Less Stuff
Here are a few tips for creating and maintaining order in smaller spaces. I hope they help you enjoy your new downsized, simplified lifestyle.

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