What about sentimental items?

When Marie Kondo came on the scene a few years ago, lots of people were talking about her decluttering mantra: “Keep only things that spark joy.” It makes sense. Why hang on to things that aren’t making you happy (or serving a practical purpose in your life)? It seems like a straightforward concept until you get to those boxes in the attic full of childhood toys and memorabilia. The wedding album tucked away in the closet. Your great grandmother’s jewelry, passed down through the generations. Marie’s “joy” principle becomes a little more challenging once items have sentimental meaning attached.

Keepsakes, photographs, family heirlooms, and gifted items are harder for people to let go due to the emotions and memories that go along with them.

Does that mean those things are immune to decluttering? Apologies in advance to anyone who isn’t ready to hear this, but the answer is NO. Just because an item has a happy feeling attached to it doesn’t mean you need to keep it forever. (The same applies to items that have been gifted to you.) Eventually, those items fill up boxes and dusty corners of the basement, only to get looked at once every few years. Sure, you may feel happy when you do decide to take those items out, but are those few moments of joy worth all the wasted space they are occupying?

A few tips for anyone who has trouble letting go of sentimental items:

  • Keep only the things that are really important to you.
  • Take pictures and document the rest. The memories are what often holds meaning, not the physical item itself.
  • Transfer photos/papers to digital files. You can still hang on to them this way, but they won’t take up as much physical space.
  • Donate items to other family members who may want them. (This way, you can still keep things within the family, but can take the responsibility off yourself.)
  • Don’t feel guilty. At the end of the day, it’s just stuff. You are not obligated to hang on to every item that comes across your path. Getting rid of something doesn’t mean you love a person, event, or memory any less.

Managing Motivation

So, you’ve finally decided to do a deep decluttering of your closet. It’s been a long time coming. It’s time to finally say goodbye to those 90’s platform shoes and fringed leather jackets! (Although, by the time I finish writing this both will probably be back in style, but I digress…) You made sure to keep your entire Sunday free so you can get it all done and start Monday off with a well-organized bang.

Then the day actually arrives and you just aren’t feeling it.

Maybe you stayed up late the night before. Maybe you’re just tired from the million and one other things you’ve been keeping up with. Maybe it’s a cloudy, rainy day and you’re lacking energy. Maybe the whole thing feels too daunting, so you keep procrastinating. We’ve all been there.

It can be incredibly frustrating when we want to achieve things, but lack the motivation to actually do them. Here are a few things I tell my clients to keep in mind, when they find that the Motivation Monster claims you as its victim:

  • Do a little at a time – Starting off small and focusing on just one corner, drawer, section, etc. will feel way more manageable than trying to tackle the whole thing at once. Telling yourself “I only have to get through this little bit,” will be way less intimidating and leave you less likely to put it off entirely.
  • Visualize the outcome you want – Remember to stay focused on the bigger picture. Keep reminding yourself what your space will feel like when you finally get more organized. Remind yourself of the extra time you’ll have and what you’ll do with it. Remind yourself the positive impact your efforts will have. Giving yourself something to work toward can really help give you that extra push.
  • Eliminate distractions – This can be a tough one, even for me. With constant reminders on our phones, kids & pets running around, and various chores on our radar, it can be difficult to remain on task. Eliminating the distractions to the best of your ability is important when you want to stay motivated. Doing just a little at a time also plays a role here, as it’s much easier to ask for thirty minutes of alone time, versus three hours. Turn off your phone notifications and put on some music that will help drown out the background noise. Do not let yourself do other chores until you’ve finished your task. Commit to doing this for a given amount of time (whatever is most reasonable for you) and stay in the zone. You’ll get way more done this way, I promise.
  • Make it fun! – There’s no reason organizing can’t be fun. Put on your favorite music or podcast and drink your favorite beverage while you work. If you can get other family members to help, turn it into a game. Find little ways to make the task more enjoyable and feel less like “work.”

What are some things you do when you need a little extra motivation? I’d love to hear about them in the comments! 🙂

Beginnings

Hello, friends! I hope you all enjoyed the holiday weekend.

Now that Christmas is over, talk of change is popping up everywhere. Normally, I don’t get all sappy and reminiscent this time of year. (Going into 2021, I was just grateful to be leaving a tumultuous year behind us.) Looking back at the past year, however, I realize how much has changed in my life. I got married, made a huge career change and launched my own business, decided to ditch some old habits, and finally started living a life that I actually enjoy. I have no idea what is waiting for us all in 2022, but whatever it is, I hope it’s a year filled with more of the things you love.

Lots of people will begin their decluttering journeys next year. Knowing where to begin the process can be a real challenge in the beginning. My advice to you is to start small. Look at the following list and pick just a few of these things to start with. You don’t need to start with every room. Just pick one and do a little at a time. The goal is to get rid of the things no longer serving you, not to create additional stress for yourself.

…and don’t forget to have some fun with it! 😉


Don’t forget to join the New Year, New Habits Challenge on social media if you want to really get a jumpstart on kicking those bad habits to the curb!

Join the Challenge!

Now that we’ve begun discussing habits, I invite you to join me in the “New Year, New Habits Challenge.” This is where we’ll jumpstart the process of turning our bad habits into better ones, ones that will help move you towards the life you want to have.

It doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming. Rather than try to tackle all of your bad habits at once, I encourage you to pick just one habit. One habit that’s adding clutter to your environment, such as:

  • Leaving dirty dishes in the sink every night
  • Letting bills and paper accumulate on your desk
  • Stuffing things in closets or under the bed instead of finding a proper place for them
  • Ignoring the laundry until it’s overflowing from your hamper
  • Leaving children’s toys all over the floor, rather than pick them up

Whatever bad habits you have that are creating stress and chaos in your life can be changed. (They didn’t become “habits” overnight.) Beginning January 1st, I challenge you to spend 14 days tackling one of those habits. Even if you only spend 10-15 minutes on it a day, I promise you’ll begin to notice a difference and it will become easier.

Don’t forget to spread the word and share your pictures on social media. Tag @TheRemakeStudio so others can join in and work on remaking their lives, too!

New Year, New Habits

Most human behavior is the result of habit. Setting your purse on the table when you get home, the way your husband leaves his shoes next to the bed, the way your kids leave their breakfast crumbs on the table…All habits. Even though you are completely unaware of it, many of the things you do on a day-to-day basis are the result of your brain signaling for you to repeat previous behaviors.

As we move into the new year, think about the habits you’ll be carrying with you. Think about the life you want to create for yourself. Are your habits supporting that life, or are they pushing you further away from it? If your goal is to be more organized and live with less clutter, stress, and frustration, that habit of letting dishes accumulate in the sink for days may not be serving your best interest.

This is the time to take action and change those habits, to move towards the life you want. “Why now?” you may ask. Why not now? You owe it to yourself to create a life of happiness. So let’s make it happen!

The Weight of Disorganization

Failure. Guilt. Shame. Did you know that these are common feelings among people with super cluttered homes? In a society that encourages rampant consumerism and materialism, areas of our homes can easily become dumping grounds for gadgets, toys, and clothing that we’re pressured into buying. All of that stuff, on top of hectic work schedules and endless hours of parenting, can start to feel incredibly burdensome when we are faced with the dilemma of how to keep it all organized.

As a professional organizer and fellow human being, I understand the overwhelming emotions that can stem from a messy home. I have been a victim of embarrassment, anxiety, and feelings of inadequacy, all because my home wasn’t as clean or tidy as I wanted it to be. And while most of us could probably benefit from learning to cut ourselves some slack, if the same stressor continues to make an appearance and wreak havoc on our emotions, shouldn’t we learn to tackle that, too?

YES.

Change can be daunting, especially if you’re already stressed. However, many people find that once they begin the organizing process those feelings of being overwhelmed start to fade. Organizing will help you regain control of your life by giving you back all the time and energy that gets lost among the clutter. You’ll also gain a greater sense of peace and satisfaction with your surroundings, thus making “home” a place of comfort once again. Don’t you deserve to be happy in your own home?

The answer is YES. Now, let’s make it happen!

Holiday Declutter: Avoiding Burnout

Most of the people I know seem to fall into one of two groups:

a. The “I love everything about the holidays” group

b. The “Ugh, it’s the holidays” group

If you identify with the first group then this post is probably not for you. (Go put up some more lights and buy your family matching plaid pajamas. This is your time to shine!) If you find yourself in the second group, then I welcome you to the club.

Many people get super stressed around the holidays. When you’re a kid it’s all Santa, presents, and excitement. Sadly, it no longer feels like “the most wonderful time of the year” when you’re an adult and all sorts of additional expectations are thrown at you. There are presents to buy, parties to attend, dozens of cookies to bake, and family members demanding your presence. This is where step one of the organizing process comes in very handy. (Yes, the principles of organizing apply to areas outside of the physical mess in your home! Don’t worry, there will be plenty more on this later.)

The first step of organizing is to declutter. Simplify. Purge. Edit. It doesn’t matter which term you use, the principle is the same: Cut back. If you want to be less stressed around the holidays, then it’s time to cut out the excess. Despite what anyone else says, you don’t have to do everything during the holidays. Did you get that? You don’t have to do everything during the holidays. A lot of people feel like they have to cram their schedules with as much “stuff” as possible this time of year. If you’re already working a 9-5 job, parenting, taking care of your house, running your kids back and forth to soccer practice, and doing all the normal day-to-day responsibilities adults get stuck with, adding an additional week’s worth of activities on top is going to leave you exhausted and stressed. For what? For the sake of saying you did a Christmas photoshoot every year? For the sake of seeing those relatives that you don’t speak to the rest of the year? For the sake of attending more parties than you did the previous year?

If any of those things are important to you/your family, then that’s great. Keep it up. You should do the things you enjoy during the holidays. If you’re just doing them to please other people, or because you feel like a “failure” if you don’t do them all, then you need to reevaluate. Will some people be disappointed? Maybe, but that’s their problem, not yours. Focus on yourself and the things that bring you joy, too.

One Small Change at a Time

You’ve finally jumped on board: You’re ready to get more organized and stop letting clutter disrupt your life (That’s amazing!), but where do you even begin? I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who feel like a deer in headlights when they finally decide to tackle their messy demons.

The first thing I tell clients is to take it one step at a time. You don’t have to tackle the whole house at once. In fact, I sincerely discourage you from trying to do that. It’ll will only lead you to become even more overwhelmed. The best approach is to take things slow. One room. One drawer, cabinet, or corner at a time.

Here are some easy places you can start:

  • Expired food items (pantry/fridge)
  • Plastic grocery bags
  • Expired/unused medications
  • Chipped dishes, mugs, or glassware
  • Clothing that no longer fits (or hasn’t been worn in 6-12 months)
  • Worn out clothing, blankets, and towels
  • Expired cosmetics
  • Damaged (or neglected) toys

Evaluate what’s in your home and figure out which things are no longer serving you properly. Do they really need to continue taking up space in your?


Did you hear the news? The Remake Studio has gone virtual! Click here to find out how to schedule your first session!

Causes of Clutter

Last week I talked a little bit about the steps of organizing on social media. The first step (and most important!) is to simplify, purge, edit, sort, etc. Whichever term you want to use for it, the principle is the same: Pare down the excess. Having extra stuff, that you typically don’t need, makes the rest of the organizing process difficult. Technically, you can organize and store said stuff, but why would you want to? Isn’t the whole point of getting organized to make your life easier and to get rid of the things weighing you down?

After making my post about simplifying, I started to think about the reasons so many people let clutter accumulate in the first place. It’s important for people to understand their behavior and the underlying causes if they want to make true changes in their lives. So, let’s discuss some of the possible causes for all that extra stuff that’s been piling up.

  • Sentimentality – Some people have a hard time letting go of sentimental items. But those drawings your kids made in first grade, the dress you wore on your first date, the tattered cookbooks that belonged to your grandmother add up over time. There’s nothing wrong with having a few keepsakes around if they have personal significance to you, but it’s important to keep them to a minimum and just hang on to those few really special ones.
  • FOMO – “But what if I need it later?” We hear it over and over again. Lots of people hang on to items that they no longer need or use due to fear that they might change their mind later. In this case, a good rule of thumb to follow is this: If you haven’t used/worn it in 6-12 months, it’s not serving an important role in your life and you don’t need it.
  • Being overwhelmed – If you’re battling a lot of clutter, trying to tackle everything at one time can be incredibly overwhelming. For some, those feelings of stress and being overwhelmed can make them feel helpless, so, rather than organize at all, they just put the task off until later. But if it’s stressing you out that much now, is it really going to be different later? Rather than try to organize your entire home at one time, it’s best to start small and chip away at it. Doing a little at a time is better than nothing at all!
  • Fear of change – A lot of people simply hate change! Even if their current system (or lack of) isn’t working, the thought of changing things feels even more daunting.
  • Habits – It’s always easier to continue doing things we’ve done for a long time. It’s instinctual and doesn’t require much effort, right? Once you start creating good habits (like putting your shoes away, rather than leaving them on the floor), they will become just as easy to keep up with.

Linen Closet Makeover Tips

I put a question out to my Instagram followers recently, asking what types of organization topics they might like to learn more about. One of the most common answers was linen closets.

Closets can be challenging to organize, especially linen closets. Items stored in linen closets tend to be on the bulkier side, meaning they take up a lot of physical space. That’s okay though! No space is too impossible to organize. Follow some of these tips and tricks the next time your linen closet is in need of a makeover.

-Get rid of old towels/linens – Say goodbye to items that are faded, frayed, or have holes in them. Step one of the remake process is to discard (or repurpose) things that are no longer serving you properly.

-Roll/fold towels to save space – Larger towels and hand towels can be rolled and stacked horizontally, or stored vertically inside baskets, to optimize storage space. (The only time I avoid doing this is when towels are really thick. In this case, it is typically more efficient to fold.)

-Group by category – Keep matching towels and linens together. This not only makes it easier to find things when you’re looking for them, but it’s also more aesthetically pleasing.

-Leave wiggle room – This goes for most organization projects. Stuffing any cabinet/closet to the gills won’t look neat, nor will it be efficient when you need to take something out. (The goal is to simplify!)

-Contain small items – Put small items and cleaning supplies together in bins or baskets. Over-the-door storage racks can be great for this, as well.

– Contain large, bulky items (like comforters and pillows) in storage bags or laundry baskets so they aren’t spilling off your shelves.

– Fold sheets and matching pillowcases together into bundles

-Remove packaging from toiletries and store in clear canisters or wire bins for a neater, more stylish look.

Don’t forget to hit the “Follow” button or find me on social media (@theremakestudio) for more ideas on home organizing!