At the end of April, I returned home after attending the NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizer's) conference. Since that time, I've been thinking about what I wanted this month's featured article to be about. There is always so much to share after attending our conference. Each year at our conference, we have an Organizing Expo where vendors showcase their organizing product for home and offices. It's one of my favorite parts of conference. I saw many useful products that I will be sharing with you in future newsletters.
A couple of weeks before leaving for conference, Evening Magazine contacted us and wanted to know if we'd be interested in working with them on a Kitchen and an Office Organizing segment. We had already been working with Custom Garage Interiors on a Garage Segment for the show - and the producers were so inspired by this segment they decided to dedicate an entire show to Organizing on May 23rd. With so much content for the show, the segments will now air on May 22 and May 23rd.
While our team of Organizing Specialists have been working on these projects - a common theme was beginning to occur and it really didn't matter if it was the garage, the kitchen or the home office.
Around the same time, we saw the devastation of the tornados in Greensburg, Kansas. I listened to those that had survived, but lost everything. Several of those interviewed made comments about the "stuff" they had lost - yet they were thankful to be alive and have each other. I remember one lady saying "Stuff is Stuff. It doesn't matter if you have stuff if you are dead." Wow, I thought - it was true and if you've read "Laura's Story" at the beginning of Eliminate Chaos...The 10-Step Process to Organizie Your Home & Lifeyou will know that I talk about "you can't take it with you when you go."
And so the topic of this newsletter...."It's Not About the Stuff"
Here are a few short stories that you may be able to relate to - which are all based on the three projects we just completed for the upcoming TV special.
The Garage: Often times the garage is the largest room of the home that becomes a catch-all for anything and everything that doesn't have a place. Sometimes the things stored have very little monetary value - but they are kept because "I might need that someday." Other times, stuff is kept because there are memories associated with the stuff, yet if it's in a box, tucked away in the garage - do you have the opportunity to experience those memories as often as you'd like?
Let's face it, the reality is that not everyone will park their car(s) in the garage because they have made the decision to use the garage for a different purpose, for example - an office, workshop, gym, etc... If your garage really does not serve a purpose - other than to keep a bunch of stuff dry - then it may be time to reassess and take action.
This is the best time of year to tackle your garage, while the weather is nice. You'll be thankful you did this now rather than when the cold weather sets in. It's a wonderful gift to give your family - or for your dad, husband, partner or significant other. You will love the feeling of accomplishment.
The Office: Offices today serve a variety of purposes. I'm sure you can think of several yourself. Most of our home-office clients have offices that serve 2-3 purposes. The more purposes the office has, the more systems needed for keeping the office, paper and information organized.
I'd like to share with you two stories about Melinda's office that I think many can relate to.
Story 1: Melinda subscribes to many magazines and loves to tear pages out of the magazines for future reference. The problem Melinda faced is that there were so many pages torn out of magazines - that she didn't remember exactly what she had torn out (some dated back to 1999) and as they began to pile up, they would go from piles to a plastic box, to multiple boxes - making it very difficult to find what she needed when she needed it.
But what to do with all of those great ideas? We needed to find a simple solution for her to organize and store this information. One of Melinda's action items was to go through the tear-outs and sort them by category - for example: tips, ideas, things to buy, decor - sorted by area of the house. This was hours of work for Melinda. One day she called me and told me that she had a new appreciation for all of those tear outs and that she needed to be more "selective" in her choices. I was impressed. I loved hearing this. With the boxes narrowed down, we still had a lot of tear-outs to organize. Some simply went into files - such as a "tip file" or "travel file" for personal use. The majority of the tear-outs are used in her business for work with her clients and for these, we created beautiful binders of ideas that she could quickly place her hands on and make a color copy for a client.
Story 2: As a designer, Melinda has lots of product catalogs, brochures, price lists and product information that she must be able to put her hands on quickly. In the past, this information could be found in multiple locations in her office. We implemented three "product boxes" that contained hanging files that were organized by product type. Not only do these boxes look beautiful in her office, but they are portable and she can take them on-site to a client if necessary. What I loved about this story is another call I received from Melinda yesterday telling me "It worked!" I wondered what she was talking about - and then she proceeded to tell me the story of how she needed a model number for a table and within a few seconds she could access her product box, pull the product info and give the information out - she was so excited!
Not only do these new systems work, but after all of the time Melinda invested into organizing her office to a new level - she is motivated and determined to maintain her systems on a regular basis so that she no longer has to spend hours on this type of project. I am thrilled to have been able to help her create a sense of peace in her office.
The Kitchen: The room of the house that gets used several times a day by all family members - but for some is one of the least functional rooms in the house. Without good function and organization it makes meal planning and prep more of a chore than it needs to be. It's hard to find food in the cupboards if you can't see to the back or they are so full you don't have any idea what's behind closed doors. Every kitchen contains food you'll never eat, plastic containers you'll never use and most likely dishses that are chipped or miss-matched. If you start by just eliminating those items and then organizing your space, you'll be amazed at the space that is freed up. Don't worry that you have empty shelf space or an empty drawer - you'll always find a way to fill that space in the future - it's a good problem to have!
Everyone in the family can play a role in keeping the kitchen organized and functional. It's a wonderful skill to transfer to your children.
In the end - certain rooms will just have more "stuff" based on the purpose of the room - just be sure in the end, your "stuff" has a "purpose."
If you live in Washington State, you don't want to miss Evening Magazine on May 22 and 23. Tune into Channel 5 at 7pm to see three Organizing Makeovers: a Home Office, Kitchen and Garage.
Here's a sneak preview of what you will see....and learn!
Kelli's Kitchen Story - to air May 22
I have two beautiful, active teenage daughters and our kitchen is the hub or our lives. It it chaos at times here...we entertain many kids, adults and animals. People are constantly cooking, grabbing food and preparing quick meals and snacks. Everyone pitches in to cleanup and things get put away in different places all the time because of the lack of organization. Because of the girls activities, there are many times when we are having to prepare meals quickly and cannot find the tools needed to make the job quick. What frustrates me the most is everyone has to ask ME where everything is! My biggest reason for wanting the makeover is - I would like to teach these girls the lifestyle skills they will need to go out in the world and be able to set up a functional kitchen and be able to prepare good, healthy meals for themselves and their families."
Tune in to see the results of the kitchen and the pantry!
Melinda's Makeover - to air May 23
Melinda has a very successful Interior Design business and has a Home Office that was driving her crazy. In her line of work, there are mountains of paperwork, product sample of fabric, tile, wall paper, rugs - you name it! Top it off with the fact that this is the type of profession that is very "creative" and uses the right-side of their brain, which means they like to be able to "see" things. In order to see everything - that might mean spreading out - which had taken over Melinda's beautiful dining room table, which she'd rather eat on, than see her work on.
Tune in to see how if you are one of these visual individuals that you can still have things put away and in systems and still be able to access what you need, when you need it and not forget about it!
Garage Makeover - to air May 23
A couple of months ago, one of our Garage Vendors, Custom Garage Interiors www.customgarage interiors.com, sponsored a messy garage contest. Picture this...numerous 2 and 3 car garages that look like you've carefully opened the garage doors and all you see is wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling stuff. No kidding!!! So much stuff in fact, that Onrax asked us to help them with the makeover. With all due respect to the winner, their garage was not the worst one we saw, rather a very common problem that many people face. The homeowners combined houses and were trying to figure out what to do with all of the stuff as well as what purpose their 3-car garage would serve.
You won't want to miss their story and see the new product they won that will help them maintain their newly organized garage.
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Father's Day is just around the corner. Treat your dad to a gift of organizing for his garage, workshop or office. Don't give him any more "stuff" he doesn't need or want. Gift Certificates make a great gift - enable those you love to take control of their time, their space and their stuff. Contact our office for pricing. 425.670.2551
"I worked with Erin, one of the specialists who works with the Chronically Disorganized (hoarders). In a word, she was fantastic. In four 4-hour sessions, she helped me go through and box up (keep, donate, trash) almost everything that was stacked up in my kitchen, dining room, office, and bonus room. Erin arrived promptly. We went over what I wanted to accomplish that day, then we got to work. She was focused, calm, non-judgmental, and tireless. She faced very dirty circumstances and didn't bat an eyelash. She never once caused me a moment of anxiety; the relief that I felt when we were done was amazing. And Laura Leist, who is the owner of Eliminate Chaos, was lovely. She returned my calls promptly, was kind and understanding, and offered me some options. I would hire this company again in a heartbeat. But right now I'm too busy enjoying all the free space in my house!"
A great way to try us out and get some organizing done at the same time! For a limited time, we are offering an amazing NEW client organizing special. If you are not an existing client this is a great way for us show you how we can eliminate your chaos.