Does perfection have you stuck?

 

‘I just can’t get that ‘magazine’ look to my master bedroom.’

‘Well, you certainly won’t see this on Pinterest!’

‘I spent so much money with a designer on this house! Why doesn’t it look like something out of Southern Living?!’

 

Ladies, for the most part, it’s because you LIVE there! Yes, of course, the rooms on Pinterest and within the pages of Southern Living and ELLE Décor look fantastic – because they’re set up as ideals!

That multi-million dollar celebrity home that’s featured still goes through a fanatical cleaning, decluttering, and staging process before the photographer picks up his camera. And guess what those stagers are moving out? Generally, everything that makes that house a home. Framed family photos, the dog’s favorite toy on the rug, remote controls. They even PhotoShop out things like the lamp cords!

Take a look at Reese Witherspoon’s tween daughter’s room, for example, featured in Elle Decor.

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Photo Courtesy: Elle Decor

Gorgeous, sure. Does it look like any teenage girl’s room you’ve seen? None that I’ve ever seen. No photos of family and friends, no discarded outfit possibilities, no phone, no electronics, no evidence of anyone actually living in the space, right?

Here’s another example – Sarah Jessica Parker’s swank Manhattan kitchen, featured on FrontDoor.com.

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Does that look like the kitchen of a busy working mom of young twins? I’m a clean freak, and my kitchen isn’t that immaculate on a good day! And look around – where all of the things that make an active family’s kitchen the epicenter of the home? Breakfast dishes, graded papers from school, even the small appliances are gone!

Can we manage the clutter, create spaces and processes that streamline our home lives, and reduce stress? Absolutely! But so many of us get stuck in the idea of perfection, wanting to do things perfectly, that they don’t get done at all.

Do you get stuck getting things perfect?

Tax-Free Shopping Weekend? Skip it!

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The local media makes such a big deal about Georgia’s annual back-to-school tax-free weekend. My two cents? Skip it!

Get your back-to-school shopping done now, and be done.  Here are my reasons why!

#1: Crowds, crowds, and more crowds. Is there anyone who enjoys picking out flash drives and crayons while being shoved and jostled around by a million other parents in the seasonal aisle at Target?

#2: When was the last time you hightailed to the mall for an 8% off sale? Seriously?

#3: The deals are better right now. OfficeMax has a $20 off any purchase of $125 or more deal right now. That’s 16% off!

#4: As far as clothes go, it doesn’t even get cool here until October. Shop for fall clothes right before you need them, not when it’s still 90 degrees. Plus, the newer the items, the higher the price, generally speaking.

#5: Get it off your list. Shop now, so you can relax and enjoy the last few weeks of summer watching everyone else go nuts and complain about crowds and crayons!

Embarrassed by your clutter? Read on!

Yesterday afternoon, I was working with a client whose goal is to reclaim an unused room and transform it into a warm, cozy living space. While we were sorting many boxes of books, she looked at me and said, ‘I can’t wait to write you a testimonial! I was so embarrassed by this mess, but you’ve made this so much fun!’

Of course, I always love hearing that! But it brings up a great point. People tend to personalize their clutter – to consider being disorganized a character trait. That their clutter says something negative about them. It doesn’t!

Clutter is frequently a result of higher priorities. The vast majority of my clients were organized at some point in their lives. And then kids came along, or a cancer diagnosis, or a major life change like marriage or divorce. Their priorities just changed – and that’s okay!

Don’t get too frustrated with yourself. Your home didn’t get cluttered overnight, and it won’t get uncluttered overnight either. Start small, even with a junk drawer. Check out my ’15 Organizing Tips in 15 Minutes’ for ideas on how to get started. Build your confidence with smaller projects, then tackle a larger space like your closet, kitchen, or kid’s room.

Do you have some level of embarrassment or shame surrounding your disorganization or clutter? Why do you think that is?

Get your drawers in order!

Whether they’re in your kitchen, your office, or your bathroom, chances are that you have a few drawers that are driving you crazy! Here a few things to keep in mind!

Drawers are a great project with which to learn or hone your organizing skills. They’re small and self-contained, which makes them a quick project with immediate results. Gain confidence here, and you’ll have the confidence to organize bigger projects.

#1: Take everything out of the drawer and wipe the drawer clean.

#2: Toss anything that’s old, expired, outgrown, or broken.

#3: Now, figure out the categories that you’re keeping.

#4: Measure your drawers before you go off buying containers or dividers – there are more drawer depths than you think!

#5: Think ‘outside of the bin’ – make sure to not limit yourself! Great drawer dividers or containers can be found in The Container Store, sure, but also in Target, the office supply stores, and on Amazon!

Newman Utensil Drawer BEFORE 10.2013

Before & After: Kitchen Homework Station

I’ve had a few requests asking about quickie projects that I’ve done, so voila! So many  homes have these built-in desk areas in their kitchens, but so many people struggle with their tendency to end up cluttered and unusable.

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Look familiar?

This photo was taken even after the client had removed dozens of cookbooks from the desk surface and the cabinets.

We pulled everything off the desk and out of the cabinets and purged tons of old craft supplies, never-used cookbooks, used-up coloring and sticker books – you know the routine! We created bins for current categories in the cabinet, left room for growth, and found new homes for the framed photos.

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Ready for the new school year!

Ta-daaa! The clutter is cleared, everything that needs to live there is organized by category, and the desk is functional again and ready for the new school year!

Before & After: Alpharetta Garage

Garages that look like this ‘before’ picture worry me. No, not because they don’t look nice or are disorganized. They worry me because they aren’t safe!

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Lots of tripping hazards, rusty cans of paint and other hazardous chemicals, and sharp blades out in the open. So many household injuries are completely preventable – we just need to make the time to be conscious of how we handle and store things.

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Much better! Still a few saws on the workbench to be hung, but now there is a clear space to walk around, any other sharp items are stored away safely, and the old, rusty cans of chemicals have said goodbye.

Take a look at your garage or workspace – are you satisfied with its safety?

 

 

It’s trash day – make the most of it!

These are a few of the things we do on the night before trash pick-up. This routine is super easy and even kids can help out! With everyone assigned a task, you can do this in less than 5 minutes. Set a timer, play an upbeat, fun song, and GO!

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  • Do a quick scan of the pantry – do you spot any expired or forgotten items you can toss?
  • Fridge & Freezer Check – pull and toss any forgotten doggy bags, wilted veggies, and old milk.
  • Grab a trash bag and act like a janitor! Go from room to room emptying all of the wastepaper baskets in one fell swoop!
  • Old magazine and newspapers go into the recycling bin

Get into the habit, and this alone will keep down the clutter in your home! What other quick tasks would you add?

EVENT: Recycling & Donation Event this Saturday, 6/7!

Free Document Shredding Event in Johns Creek this Saturday 
Also: Donate gently used clothing, shoes, and books for charity 
Saturday, June 7, 2014
9AM – 1PM
Panera Bread Company
11715 Medlock Bridge Road
Johns Creek, GA  30097

Dispose of sensitive documents with a commercial shredder.  All of the paper will be recycled.
To avoid identify theft, the Federal Trade Commission recommends shredding charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank statements, expired charge cards, and credit offers.

We are also accepting donations of clothing and shoes, to be donated to American Kidney Services, as well as books, to be donated to Better World Books.

For more information, contact us at 770-551-7766 or info@knfb.org.

This event is supported by Panera Bread Company, The City of Johns Creek, Cintas, and KNFB.  You do not have to be a Johns Creek resident to attend.  This event is free to the public, but donations are appreciated and benefit our environmental education programs.

Keep North Fulton Beautiful is a 501(c)3 organization, and all donations are tax deductible as allowed by law.

Making choices, making change!

I’m always looking for ways to simplify my life – it’s one of the things that led me to become a professional organizer, after all! And I’ve recently made a fairly big decision, at least on a personal level, to eliminate coloring my hair. You see, thanks to the wonderful world of genetics, I started going grey at 22 (thanks, mom!) So for exactly 22 years, I’ve been coloring my hair back to its formerly-natural shade of dark brown. But no more.

SuzanneHeadShot_5.2013.HighRes_Crop

As I’m sure many of you can relate, every 2-3 weeks when I’d color my hair to cover the roots, I found myself getting more and more resentful of the time it took. Time I could be spending with my family, or walking the Suwanee Creek Greenway with our mutt, or working with one of you! Then I reminded myself that I have a choice! I’ve been choosing to spend that time on my appearance, under the guise of vanity and outdated stereotypes (grey = old). And so I have chosen to let my beautiful, bright, shiny silver grow out and shine in the sun.

We make choices every day. We choose hours of  ’must-see’ TV vs. spending time with our spouse, time spent on Facebook instead of really interacting with our kids, etc. Or two hours every few weeks coloring our hair even though we hate doing it.

What choices do you make that you can change to change your life for the better?

4 BIG Misconceptions About Organizing!

Misconception #1: You need to buy containers first.

Nope! And that’s one of the most common mistakes that people make. You’re buying a solution before you even know what the real need is! Sort and purge first, so you know what you need to store. Then buy the appropriate solution for your need.

Misconception #2: I’m gonna knock this out in a day!

While yes, there are some projects that you can completely organize in a day, most take a few sessions to be done well. Remind yourself that your home didn’t get chaotic in one day; it won’t get decluttered, calm, and organized in one day, either! Try 3-4 hour sessions, no more than two days in a row. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Misconception #3: The LEGOs have to be sorted by size or color (or both!)

Over-organizing is another big mistake that many people make. In order for the space to stay organized, be realistic about what your family will do. I’ve yet to meet a kid (or adult) who will take the time to resort LEGOs by color after every play session. Even as an organizer, I’m happy if all the Barbie stuff is all in one Barbie bin. No one here is separating Barbie’s clothes from her accessories from her home décor. Same goes with color-coding your underwear drawer. Or alphabetizing your entire bookcase. Which brings me to Pinterest…..

Misconception #4: It has to be perfect. And pretty.

No. It doesn’t. It just has to work for your family. Many of those beautiful Pinterest-perfect pantries and playrooms are unrealistic for busy families.  Let go of the need to look perfect, and you’ll find everyone at home is much less stressed. And having more fun – which is what it’s all about.

Do you have any questions on getting organized that make you wonder if it’s fact vs. myth? Let me know in the comments!

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