"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."

Anne Frank

Friday, September 9, 2011

Clutter: The Rhyme And The Reason for It All

Some homes are clutter-filled because their owners lack the knowledge and the skills to deal with it. Some people lose control due to bad health or other circumstances.
The resources and information I've given in earlier blog posts will help. A professional organizer may be the solution.

Today, however, I want to talk about another reason for losing control and being overwhelmed by the things surrounding us.



According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, depression affects 1 in every 10 adults in the U.S. or 21 million adults and children according to Mental Health America. An estimated $31 billion dollars in work absenteeism and lost productivity is a result of depression. It is the leading cause of disability and suicide. Depression not only raises the risk of stroke in women, it also affects chronic conditions i.e. arthritis, heart disease, cancer, eating disorders among others.

Depression is serious business. It destroys energy, initiative, relationships, careers and our health. It creates havoc in our lives, allowing C.H.A.O.S. to overwhelm and gain control.

If someone you know (maybe you?) lives surrounded by clutter at home and/or at work, depression may be the culprit. Depression also isolates. Reach out, offer help and don't take no for an answer. You may just save a life.

Monday, July 25, 2011

How Do You Eat an Elephant? One Spoonful at a Time

"Listen up, people. You did not gain the weight overnight. So you can't expect to lose it overnight, either."
If you've ever attended a Weight Watcher's meeting, you've heard this.

Well, listen up,people. The same principle applies to clutter. All that stuff took time to accumulate. So it's going to take time to dispose of it. Whether you do it a little each day or have a marathon declutter with family and friends helping, it still takes time to sort, decide and purge/put away.

So where do I start? 
Beginning a new project, be it writing, cleaning out the storage shed (yes, I have one, sigh), or going grocery shopping, I find I do best if I take time to analyze the situation first. Yes, I know. I'm well known for jumping in feet first, eyes closed. I said it works best if I analyze first. Checking out the refrigerator before I go shopping keeps me from bringing home yet another carton of milk.

Once I know what needs to be done, why what I'm already doing may not be working, and what is, I can develop a working plan. This includes breaking the project down into manageable steps.

So what are those steps?
The SPACE formula is something I learned from Julie Morgenstern. It breaks each project into five steps.

  • Sort: Pick up each item and ask if it will help you reach your goal of a serene, happy home. If not... 
  • Purge: Out it goes either to Goodwill, the trash or someone who asks for it.
  • Assign:Keeping it? Give everything a home and put it there!
  • Containerize:Need containers to hold the keepables? List what you need, measure to be sure things will fit into the containers and the containers will fit where you need to put them. Take this list and a tape measure with you. Nothing is more frustrating than getting those boxes and baskets home and finding they won't fit. Remember to label.
  • Equalize: This is a fancy way to say maintenance. Map out a simple plan and set up a workable schedule. Now stick with it. It takes practice but before long your home will be clutter free and it will stay that way.

                                              Now grab that spoon!

Monday, July 11, 2011

It's Resource Time Again

Being a former librarian, I know how important finding new resources can be. Sometimes we find them by accident while surfing the net or browsing a bookstore. Other times, someone we know suggests a book or website, even a movie or television show. Maybe that someone is a librarian.
So check out the following resources.

Are you a list maker? Need a schedule to keep you straight? Then Jennifer Ford Berry's book organize now! is the one for you. This week by week guide is divided into 52 chapters (don't worry...they're short!). Every chapter covers a different area to be organized from our minds to our finances to our homes. She even covers topics such as parties and vacations. Each one includes a checklist for that week's goals, special tips to reach those goals and a stay organized list. The introduction alone is chock full of ideas.
She also has a website organizethislife. So check it out and get your pencil ready to check off your to-do list.

Two weeks ago, I announced the beginning of Bren's Den.  One of the many resources I used in creating my new business was
How to Start a Home-Based Professional Organizing Business by Dawn Noble. Even if you aren't interested in going into business this is a great resource for getting organized. It will even help you with whatever career you may be currently in. My copy is threadbare, striped with many colors of highlighters and marked with bookmarks and post-its.

Magazines. How does anyone live without them? Good Housekeeping, Country Living, Woman's Day, are only the beginning of a long list of periodicals which cover the subject of organizing on a regular basis. No need to clutter your home with hundreds of copies. Borrow from family and friends, including your local library, or check out the website almost every magazine has now. This is also a great way to check out an unfamiliar mag before subscribing.

So check out these resources. Each one will help you in your quest to be organized. Don't forget to check back here next week for more organizing tips and ideas from Bren's Den and me.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Holidays: A Special Challenge

Holidays are wonderful, fun, exciting, hectic, miserable, insane, overwhelming.
In other words, a real challenge, especially for those of us who are organizationally challenged.

Cleaning the house, mowing the grass, (raking leaves, shoveling snow), hiding the clutter before letting family and friends inside your house. All of that takes time, energy and planning. Who has energy left over to decorate? Besides, finding where the decorations are hiding is next to impossible. (I know I bought minature flags on sale last year. Now where did I put them?)

So this week's challenge is to locate all those Christmas, Halloween, Fourth of July decorations and finally designate a special place just for them.
  • Gather them all together in one place.
  • Sort them out by holiday.
  • Throw away those tree lights that haven't worked in three years. They won't miraculously work this Christmas either.
  • Repair the repairable. Dispose of the unrepairable or the things you don't love. Even if it was a Christmas present from Great Aunt Bea. She probably gave it to you to get rid of it herself!
  • Now go shopping! Look for see thru, stackable bins in sizes to fit your decorations and the space where you will store them.
  • Label each bin. Only one holiday per bin.
  • Stack the bins in order. Which holiday will you decorate for next? Halloween? That bin will be on top of the stack.
Feel better? I sure do. Now maybe next holiday my blog post won't be late because I wasted time looking for those blasted flags!

Happy Birthday, America! May all your holidays be wonderful, fun and exciting! 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Just Do It Already!

Sigh. It isn't the organizing I find difficult. In fact, it's rather fun. Finding that adorable little sewing basket for all my sewing supplies (never mind I rarely sew on a button, or hem anything), or the perfect storage unit for a bedroom closet. Seeing the look on someone's face when they discover how calming a clutter less den is.

No, it's what Weight Watchers calls "maintenance" I dread. You know, what you must do in order to keep off the thirty pounds you worked so diligently to lose. Organizing your home is like dieting. It only works if you change your habits for life.

A place for everything and everything in it's place is the Organizer's creed. Finding that place is our challenge. It's also when we get to have fun (and fight our battles!). However, this is where the maintenance part comes in. The not so much fun part. Someone needs to put things back into their place on a regular basis. And that's the part, I admit, I struggle with.

There are ways to make it fun. Find a basket, box or other container for each member of the family. Set a timer. The person or team that collects the most items before the timer goes off wins round one. Round two is won by the person who puts away the most items. Remember each thing must be in its proper place.
This game can be played even if you are the only player. Give yourself a point for each item put away before bedtime. Reward yourself based on a point system you make up. A manicure for twenty points. Bowl of ice cream for ten. Get the picture?

Taking pictures is a good idea. Before and after. Put up a before picture somewhere to remind you what life was like before you became organized.

Doing a little at a time is the real key to maintaining. Never letting clutter get out of hand or overwhelming us is the only way to stay organized for life. After all, remember what it felt like to live a cluttered, unorganized life? Do you want to feel that way again? So when you feel the urge to let things slide just this once...Resist that urge for a double fudge sundae...umm, I meant the urge to procrastinate and Just do it already!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bren's Den...Turning a Dream Into a Reality

I am thrilled, excited and delighted! to announce the opening of Bren's Den: Professional Home Organizing and Event Planning.
Bren's Den is available to help with all your organizing needs. Whether it's setting up a home office, decluttering kitchen cabinets or the spare bedroom/junk room you want turned into a welcoming guestroom.
I'm eager to help you turn your home into the oasis you and your family deserve.

Moving? Facing the painful chore of sorting through an estate? Tired of paying for a storage unit of "stuff" but can't decide what to keep and what to discard? I can ease the stress of difficult decision-making.

Imagine the life you want...in the home you cherish. Together we can make it happen.

Contact me today and let's get started!

I'm also available to organize special events including workshops, conferences, childrens events and family reunions.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Think you can’t afford to get organized?

Watching most decorating shows on television, flipping through glossy magazines or perusing coffee table books on the subject, one gets the idea that only the rich and famous can afford to live in beautiful, organized homes.

I’m here to tell you a different story. While you might not literally be able to Design on a Dime, you can do it for much less than expected. All you need is a little imagination and a few helpful resources.

Where to start?

The library: Most public libraries are wonderful resources on everything from organizing a closet to building a home (and garden). Books, magazines, even DVDs can be had for the price of a library card. In other words, for free. They also have the best resource of all...librarians. Feeling overwhelmed by all the choices? Can’t seem to find just what you need? Ask for help. It’s why they’re there, after all.

County Extension Service: Look in the phone book under County Government (usually the blue pages). They offer a wide range of homemaking services. Pamphlets, classes, advice. Sometimes there’s a small fee for the classes, frequently it’s just to cover materials.

Hardware stores: Lowe's, The Home Depot, Ace Hardware to name a few. Roam the aisles, checking out the brochures, and you may come away with a wealth of ideas. Do a little tweaking and you can adapt those ideas to your own home and often for much less. Some stores also hold classes. Check them out. You never know what may tickle your fancy.

Goggle it!: It’s amazing how much free information is on the Net. Diagrams, storage ideas, stencils, websites where you can virtually paint your house, all at your fingertips. Again, for free.

OK, I’m up to my ears in great ideas. Now what?

Collected more free ideas than you know what to do with? Start a Dream Notebook. A simple three ring binder, a few sheets of plastic sleeves, some dividers and voila’, your own organized book on organizing.

Great, I’m all set. Umm, I’m still not sure this isn’t too expensive.

Look at the pictures of perfectly organized closets, kitchen cabinets, bathrooms. What do you see? Baskets, shelves, dividers. How can you replicate the beautiful bedroom closet that’s caught your eye? Imagination, creativity and careful shopping.

Discount Stores

Family Dollar, Dollar General, Big Lots, Fred's and yes, Wal-Mart. These are just a few of the discount stores in my area. There are bound to be plenty where you live. It is amazing what they carry. Baskets of every shape and size. Some are lined with pretty material. Others you can line yourself with remnants of cloth you buy right there. Shelving units, bookcases, chest of drawers, desks for that closet office, can be found to fit your design. I’ve found clothes hangers exactly like the ones shown in organizing books at Big Lots for $5.00 per eight pack. Drawer dividers for a dollar at Dollar General.

Yard sales, Thrift Stores, The Side of the Road!

One woman’s trash is another’s treasure. Think creatively. That pretty ceramic bowl for fifty cents? Perfect to hold brooches on your dresser top. A tiny vase to hold makeup brushes? Ten cents. Easter baskets someone’s child outgrew? Hang from your closet ceiling to hold belts, scarves, etc. Someone’s discarded dresser with a missing leg? A little paint, remove the other legs or replace the missing one with a block of wood, and it’s perfect to slide into a closet to hold your out of season clothes.

Your Own Home
Walk around your house. Go on. I dare you to look in every room, every closet. Open your eyes and use your imagination. I bet you own some of the things I listed above. How are they being used right now? Can you think of other ways to use that flowerpot with the dead geranium? The plastic shoe boxes you bought to organize your shoes but realized you didn’t have room for on your closet floor?

Are you beginning to get the picture?

A little imagination, creativity, and careful shopping can net you the resources and supplies you need to organize your home. Never let the lack of money stand in your way. There are free resources, even free supplies to help you live in a beautiful, organized home.

Now, who feels rich and famous?