Archive for July, 2011
Almost every time I talk with a new client, they mention “That Room!”. At first I thought it just must be a coincidence, but by now, I’ve come to the realization that most people have (or can relate to)”That Room!”.
My official definition of “That Room!” is pretty simple. It is the one area in people’s homes that is the collection area. Sometimes I find it is the attic, the garage, or even a spare bedroom. Wherever it is, it is the dumping area for those items that do not have a location elsewhere.
I find at first, clients feel that because “That Room!” is hidden away, it does not matter and therefore does not bother them. They also believe that because others cannot see what is lurking behind the door that others do not know about “That Room!” (though I think they usually guess it’s your cluttered room!). However, most times the feelings of “it doesn’t matter” and “others do not know” do not last, and instead clients feel stress because “That Room!” does still exist.
So even though having “That Room!” is a way to contain the extra stuff, a better idea might be to make it a priority to clear the space out. This allows you to stop feeling guilty and to use the space in the way it was intended to be used. A craft room? Scrapbooking room? Spare bedroom for guests? You take command of turning “That Room!” into the real room you’ve always wanted it to be.
As a professional home and office organizing service, Can the Clutter works with clients of all ages from individuals, to young families, to seniors, each grouping having their own unique challenges and obstacles.
I have found in working with Seniors and Baby Boomers often their biggest challenges are downsizing to smaller homes now that their families have grown, and sometimes moving into even smaller spaces within retirement and assisted living communities.
Because downsizing is rarely an easy transition, Can the Clutter can help in all parts of the process.
• The first step is helping clients sort through their belongings to narrow down the most important items they want to take with them. This process takes into account how their lifestyle may be changing. (One example includes if the client is moving into a community that provides three meals a day, then only a few kitchen items would be necessary.) I also help clients to not feel guilty about being unable to keep all of their inherited belongings of past loved ones. Having an objective third party’s advice during this emotional time can be quite helpful. In addition, Can the Clutter is able to help arrange estate sales for the belongings that won’t make the move.
• The second piece of the downsizing process is the actual move coordination. Can the Clutter helps with both the big and small pieces such as scheduling the moving company to coming up with the best floor plan at the new space and finalizing the actual furniture that will be required.
• The last part of the process is the unpacking and setting up the new space in a way that is pleasing, safe, and takes into account any physical limitations.
By taking a systematic approach, Can the Clutter provides a huge relief to families (especially out of town families). I provide a trusted resource in “getting the job done”, but in a way that is the least traumatic to the individual(s) moving. I just recently had a client who was moving into an independent living community ask her daughter how much I was charging. The daughter responded, “It doesn’t matter Mom, it is well worth every penny!”
Letting our possessions go can be tough. Many clients surprise me at how ready and willing they are to clean out, but I have also worked with clients whom this is more challenging for, even when they have said they want to.
For those clients that feel most everything they possess is important to keep, I work toward helping them realize the negative impact keeping things has had on their lives. By helping clients to see both the positive and negative sides of accumulating possessions, they are better able to rationalize letting go of items.
Many times clients can only think about the positives on why they shouldn’t let go of their items. Some common reasons are:
• I paid a lot for that.
• It’s still functional.
• I keep thinking I may need it.
Though these are all legitimate reasons to have/keep things, there are also disadvantages to keeping items that they do not use or need. This is where I come in!
To do this, I start every session with my clients by understanding the issues they are having and identifying their ultimate goals for the overall space. Once we have identified their issues and goals, then I work toward keeping the client focused on those goals.
Some examples of goals include:
• Having a home they’re not afraid of others seeing at short notice
• Having a welcoming, calming space
• Having room to do their favorite things (scrapbooking, sewing, etc.)
No matter what age we are, it can be difficult to let go of items. But by identifying and setting up ultimate goals for our spaces, we can better understand and live a clutter free lifestyle.
A recent client of mine was on a tight deadline to create more order in her house. We scheduled a couple of days to work together, knowing we had our work cut out for us. The day before I was scheduled to arrive, the client had a good friend ask if she could help. So while the client was at work, the friend was able to come in and get started sorting and clearing out some of the paperwork the client was needing to go through.
When I arrived the following day, I was quite amazed at the progress my client’s friend had made. What a great friend to come in and get the process started! However, in my conversations with the client, she shared with me that a small piece of paper that had her 92 year old mother’s passwords and account information written on it had been recycled in the clearing out the night before. Luckily, the client was able to go back through the papers that had been deemed recycle and found the lost information. What a relief for her!
Hearing this story reminds me of why I work the way I do. As a professional organizer, I work side by side with my client’s and NEVER assume anything about their belongings. I am meticulous when it comes to sorting client’s items and take special notice of even the smallest pieces of paper, especially when there is handwritten information on them. “Too careful” is clearly not part of a professional organizer’s vocabulary!
All in all, it’s fine to have friends help, but you take a little risk with not having professionals do the work sometimes.