September's Clutterbusting Tips

It is Labour Day and the weather here is murky.   Seems like a good day to activate that September back-to-school feeling and start the new season fresh by getting more organized.   I have spent the morning clearing out summer and the leftovers from packing off our daughter Silken for her exciting year studying French and International Business in Lyon.   While completing this Clutter Patrol,  it has me reflecting about seven keys to success to  maintain a clutterbusted home.  

September and January: Clutterbusting Months

Both the months of September and January kick start that "get-organized" spirit each year.   At Kate's Garden, the phone starts to ring more each September with clients asking for our Clutterbusting, Organizing and Staging Team.   As the summer comes to a close, crisper days compel us to start a fresh new season by getting more organized both for the Harvest period and for the soon-to-come holiday season.

Kate's Garden Clutterbusting, Organizing and Staging: Business Reasons

Folks often ask me how a gardening and floristry business got involved in Clutterbusting, Organizing and Staging.   The answer is multi-faceted as it has both compelling business reasons and very personal ones.  For the past fifteen years, we've been called upon frequently by local real estate agents and clients to enhance the curb appeal of homes in preparation to be sold.    As our Kate's Garden team has a skill set that also includes carpentry, renovation, painting, closet design and closet organizing as well as interior decorating, it became a logical extension for us to learn the best techniques to fix up and stage the interior of homes as well.   We are, however, often confronted by the need to clutterbust and organize before we can figure out the best storage solutions and how to artfully stage homes.   This is where the decision to offer this key service as a facet of our business turns personal.   

Kate's Personal Clutterbusting Journey

As a creative type, I know how and actually quite skilled at creating messy piles of stuff.   And I know how to collect all of the paraphernalia required for all of my various hobbies: gardening, cooking, crafts, painting, entertaining and flower arranging.    Throw into that messy mix,  a penchant for certain collectibles, storing the excess from my parent's downsizing and a husband and two kids with equal penchants for acquisition.   It was not surprising that, way back in 2002,  even though we had a large home with ample storage, we found ourselves maxed out for space and constantly being frustrated because we could not find things.     I also started my personal journey on how to become organized shortly after my father passed awayas a way to deal with grief.   I was advised by a counsellor at the time that "controlling the controllables" could help with the loss.    I know it sounds strange but often doing something constructive when life spins out of control can be very healing.   I started by cleaning out the drawers in my desk.    It helped. 

Getting Organized:  A Learned Skill

When teaching our Clutterbusting, Green Cleaning and Organizing classes with our Team Leader Rosemary and Chef Maggie, the owner of C is for Clean, we often tell our clients that being organized is a learned skill.   Most of us are not innately organized.    Organization is not a course taught in high school.     All these years later, I continue to be an avid student of clutterbusting, organizing and staging; taking professional organizing courses and consuming every book, website, Pinterest post and magazine article on the subject.  (For starters, any book by Donna Smallin is a must-have as are the monthly editions of Real Simple magazine).     

The Clutterbusting Pay Off

More importantly, even though leading a clutterbusted, organized life takes discipline, applying all that I have learned has resulted in a huge payoff!  I personally waste much less time trying to find things, have to do lots less housework, spend less money on things I do not need and have gained valuable time to spend on my hobbies.    For me, it is part of an on-going process to live simply.    I have used our last three houses and six different business locations as my organizing labs.  As well, many years of experience with client's homes from apartments, potting sheds, garages, condos, small homes to estates, coupled with ongoing courses and information sources, have given me the tools to transform spaces into well-organized, inviting havens of "mise-en-place".    My point is that if a messy, artistic type like me can develop a skill that is not innate into a learned skill that is profitable from both a personal and business perspective, anyone can!

Five Clutterbusting Pointers

Keep Only what is Beautiful and/or Useful

Deciding to retain only the items in your home that you consider to be useful or beautiful is the backbone of clutterbusting.  Decluttering does not mean throwing away all that is sentimental to you.   It does, however, mean getting rid of stuff you do not like, makes you feel guilty, you do not use or does not suit your current lifestyle.    Be relentless when it comes to making your choices.   You are opting to reject the unnecessary in your life because it is weighing you down!

Mise En Place

Mise en Place is the French term that means  putting everything back where it belongs.      This presupposes that you have created the storage spaces in your home so that everybody knows where things go.    Easier said than done.   Still, making a commitment to find a place for everything in your home that you consider to be either useful or beautiful is the core of leading a clutterbusted life.     

Activity Centres

Think of each room in your house as an activity centre.   As an example,  the kitchen should really just be used for cooking, cleaning and entertaining.   As the hub of most homes, it often gets over-purposed into becoming the bill-paying centre, the homework or craft room, the drop zone for purses and schoolbags, etcetera.   The problem is that each  key activity in a home has the supplies and tools to go with it.    If the kitchen becomes over-purposed with too many activity centres, it attracts too much clutter.   Paying attention to your key activities is your starting point.   Housekeeping, cooking, entertaining, crafts, reading, hobbies, bill-paying, leisure activities, sleeping, hobbies are all typical activities.   Figure out what your major activities are so that you purpose the areas in your house and organize the supplies needed for each activity in spaces dedicated to specific purposes. Here is one example.   I like to knit.   I am not a good knitter but I can churn out a scarf pretty quickly. I find knitting to be restful and I love the gorgeous colours available in wool.  I knit as I watch television.  So now, instead of having my knitting supplies upstairs stored away in the closet,  I have them in a beautiful basket beside my usual spot for watching television.   It is all about an activity centre and finger-tip accessibility.

Finger Tip Accessibility

For most of us, not being able to quickly find keys, mittens, umbrellas, flashlights...the list could go onand on...is time-consuming and frustrating.   Finger tip accessibility means that you have to create the places in your home so that you can quickly find everyday necessities in a moment's notice. Simply put, a key rack by the door, a mitten basket in the closet, an umbrella stand and flashlights in bedside table make life easier.   Minor stress decreases but helpful all the same.

Clutter Magnets and Clutter Patrol  

There are hot zones that attract clutter in each home.   Entryways, the family room coffee table, ourbathroom counters and the kitchen are the biggest clutter magnets in our home.   

Like dieting, staying organized requires discipline.   It is actually fairly simple and very, very cathartic to get organized.   Bringing order to chaos is a big stress reliever for most people.   The self-satisfied feeling derived from an orderly room feels like losing ten pounds!  However, like keeping the pounds off after a crash diet, remaining organized takes vigilance.   Giving yourself a half hour once a week to do yourClutter Patrol and deal with your hot zones makes all the difference.   As they say, a tidy house makes a clean house look even cleaner.

Clutterbusting: Start Small

Most people get overwhelmed with the daunting tasks involved in becoming organized.   Best way to succeed?  Start small.   Begin  with your junk drawer, your makeup drawer or your kitchen utensil drawer. It is amazing how bringing order to chaos in a small space gives you just enough satisfaction to convince yourself that you really can do this.  One room at a time!

Clutterbusting Seminars at Kate's Garden

Better yet, to help get you started, check out our website for our next Clutterbusting seminar at the end of September.   It is free and you will also receive our Clutterbusting Booklet for free as well.  It is one of our most popular seminars so book early!

Kate's Garden Reference Library

We also have a shelf dedicated to Clutterbusting and Organizing in the small Seminar Room reference library of Kate's Garden.  The best of the Organizing books and the most useful of the magazine articles have been retained and, of course, are stored neatly in binders by subject matter for easy reference.   We make our reference material available to make it easy for our clients to find solutions for their clutterbusting, storage, display and staging dilemmas.   Drop by anytime to browse.  We are open most days and Sunday afternoons too.   We will make you a cup of tea and help you feel motivated to get started too.

Related Links 

C is for Clean by Maggie Smith

Unclutter Your Life with Donna Smallin

Real Simple Magazine