Earlier this year, when I finally admitted that I needed help to deal with the physical and mental clutter that was overwhelming me, I chatted with the rather awesome Adele Blair of Blair Lifestyle Management and Green Apple Organising. Adele was very encouraging and supportive, assuring me that together we could tackle the clutter and reclaim my life.
Then I sent her some photos of my home.
It’s entirely possible that the poor woman hyperventilated at the immense task ahead, but to her credit she rallied quickly and sent me some very encouraging emails with a few tips for getting started. I also signed up for her newsletter, The Juice, receiving a free ‘Top 20 Organising Tips’ ebook with my subscription.
So what happened next?
The emails sent by Adele have been gathering virtual dust in my inbox and every now and then Adele has been sending me a ‘just checking in to make sure you are ok’ email, which has been lovely. My organising plans have been sidelined by a few family dramas and my own issues, but I am finally feeling ready to make the transition from talking about getting organised to actually organising.
Late last week, I finally opened those ebook files sent so long ago by Adele and, what do you know, that actually contain a whole heap of interesting and helpful information that make me feel like getting organised is actually achievable. Who knew?
It’s going to take some time, but I’m up for the challenge and I am more than ready to deal with the mess and disorganisation that has felt like a weight on my shoulders for so long.
I can highly recommend Adele’s newsletter The Juice if you want some great tips on keeping the chaos at bay. I’ll be working through the Top 20 Organising Tips ebook here over the next month or so, but you can cut to the chase and get your own copy by subscribing to The Juice here.
After months of talk, dithering, procrastinating, faffing about, feeling sorry for myself, making excuses and generally putting off until tomorrow what I just don’t feel like doing today.
It’s time to get this organising party started.
After four years of what I will choose to call gentle encouragement (but which my husband would no doubt refer to as nagging), we finally started to clear some of the mess from our garage recently. My husband has maintained over this time that there was no need to do anything, but to my mind if you have a double garage that never has a car in it and barely has enough floor space to walk from the internal access door to the garage door, then there is probably some room for improvement.
There isn’t really that much ‘stuff’ in the garage. The problem is that there are no shelves for storage so it is almost impossible to stack things out of the way. The Shelves v No Shelves debate has been the sticking point for our discussions about the garage for some time.
Once we started cleaning, it did become apparent that there were quite a few items that we could part with – empty boxes from appliances and blown light globes for a start plus two air mattresses that belong to someone else from a kids camp a year ago, a small bag of broken golf tees that belonged to my Great Uncle and brown paper off-cuts from my older son’s kite making project last year. Bit of a no-brainer about whether we really need to keep any of those.
While most of the clutter, both useful and useless, belongs to my husband, the rest of the family has ‘stuff’ hiding out in the shed too, like the stash of broken video recorders and DVD players for my 7-year-old to dismantle (six is enough to be considered a stash, right?).
I’ve got a few things in the garage as well, but it was one particular discovery that got me thinking about the things we hold onto for sentimental reasons. I’m guilty of this at times, although my clutter is generally more of the ‘well you never know, this could be useful one day’ variety. Sentimentality obviously plays a part occasionally though, as I found this in the garage:
That’s right. I have a 21-year-old plastic bag. It’s a Welsh plastic bag, but I’m pretty sure that Adele Blair, the professional organiser who is helping me to bring my chaotic life under control, would choose to emphasise the ‘plastic bag’ part of the description.
Adele suggested I photograph the bag, since it obviously triggers some significant memories for me, and that I then let it go. I don’t need it, it isn’t adding anything positive to my life and it is adding to the general clutter that I need to bring under control. So, photos have been taken (obviously) and the bag has been disposed of.
Do you hold on to things for sentimental reasons? I’m not talking about photos or items that are actually useful. Do you hold on to things like concert tickets and programs or other mementoes that you have collected at events, on holidays or at other special occasions? If you do, how do you store them to make sure that they don’t become clutter? I think it’s great that digital photography now gives us a very inexpensive means of holding on to the memories without keeping the clutter. What do you think?
Sorry. Three hours of ironing this afternoon resulting in NO MORE PILE OF IRONING has clearly gone to my head. I can’t remember the last time this happened (it’s entirely possible that it never has). Of course, within 48 hours I’ll have to wash again and the Vanquishing of the Ironing Pile will become the stuff of legend, a story told in hushed and reverent tones. It’s entirely possible that within a month my children will be convinced that the whole story is simply an urban myth.
But I will always know the truth. I will know that on a cold, cloudy winter’s day in 2011, the ironing pile was conquered, albeit briefly, and my soul rejoiced.
What are you grateful for this weekend? It’s too late to link up to the Maxabella Loves… Grateful meme, but it’s always fun to check out the Grateful posts. You can find all the links here.
As part of my preparation to work with Adele Blair to declutter and organise my home, I decided to photograph each room. Adele is based in Brisbane and I’m in Newcastle, so photos are the easiest way to give her a quick overview of the situation here at Casa del Whelan.
I procrastinated for almost a week as I worked through a mental list of jobs I needed to do before I could take photos to send to Adele – clean the bathrooms, put away the groceries, wash up, iron, file paperwork, make the kids’ beds, tidy my desk, tidy the kids’ play area… In the style of those stressed women who clean the house before the cleaner comes¸ I was mentally preparing a to do list of tasks that I needed to complete before I called in the professional organiser to help me get organised. Of course, if I was capable of getting all these jobs done, I wouldn’t need Adele’s help in the first place.
Have you ever taken a photo of someone or something only to realise later that you really should have zoomed in more? We are so focused on the actual subject of our photo that we don’t notice all the empty space surrounding it. The camera has no such bias. If it is in the view finder, then it is in the photo. I think that because I’m not generally a very visual person, I move through my whole life like that, only noticing what I’m mentally focused on at any particular moment and completely missing all the ‘stuff’ next to it (underneath it, on top of it and/or around it).
When I finally gave up my plans for pre-photo cleaning and simply wandered through the house taking photos I
found the amount of clutter in the images very confronting. It seems no flat surface was without papers, pens, toys and/or books. While my mind had happily filtered these details for me each day, the camera did no such favours and revealed my untidiness in all of its glory.
The simple exercise of taking these photos has helped me to realise just how much I need to clear away the clutter and adopt the ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’ philosophy.
Are you bothered by untidiness or do you, like me, find it easy to filter out the clutter?