This week, I helped a client pack for her fabulous European vacation. As I explained my packing method to her, I remembered that I had written a blog post about it years ago. Now seems like a good time to post it again!
I’m leaving for a weekend trip to attend a family wedding. As I think about packing, I thought I’d share my method for ensuring I don’t overpack.
I’ve been doing this for years — decades, really. I think I invented this system. And I’m happy to share it.
Here’s what I do:
I did this last night for my trip. And I took a picture. (The backs of envelopes are good for this.)
Here’s my outfit list for this trip:
There was no item number five!
A nice bonus is that if I want, I can bring along the lists and then I don’t have to think about what I’m going to wear each day.
I don’t list undergarments (unless there’s something special) or jewelry. I certainly could list jewelry, but I don’t have that much and I just sort of eyeball it.
I hope you find it helpful. I’ve made my packing list but haven’t packed for my trip yet — we’re leaving after I get home from a client this afternoon. It’s so nice to have the list; packing will be a snap!
Last month I spent some time in some pretty cluttered situations with clients who had a very difficult time letting go of excess. This isn’t the norm for me; most of my clients are ready to let go by the time I work with them.
As I saw clients struggling to live comfortably because of an overabundance of stuff, I was once again struck by the power that stuff can hold over us and, conversely, the freedom that comes with owning less.
These are words I try to live by.
Spring and summer are big times for moving. If you’re planning to move any time soon, here are some ideas I wrote down a few years ago to make the move easier for you. (One way you can do that is to bring in an Operation Relocation team.) If you have a move coming up, please read this!
A supply drawer we created while unpacking a client
Moving is stressful. There’s pretty much no way around it. Even if an employer is paying for the move and you have the movers pack you, there are a lot of details with which to contend and it’s a hassle. Working with a professional organizer can help, but even so, the process is stressful.
I’ve recently helped several clients settle into their new homes by bringing in teams to unpack and organize their belongings. All of them were packed by the movers. Observing how the unpacking and organizing process went, I’ve identified a few ways to make the move easier:
Yes, moving is stressful. But it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. With a little planning and forethought, you can make it relatively easy.
On Monday, I was honored to be named the Volunteer of the Year for the St. Louis chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO-St. Louis). The recipient of the award, which has been given out annually for the last three years, is selected by the chapter president, who solicits recommendations from the membership. The award comes with a lovely engraved Tiffany key ring, which I will carry with pride.
I was delighted when this year’s president, Jennifer Stewart of Gateway Productivity named me as recipient, citing my longevity with and active participation in the chapter. NAPO-St. Louis has been a big part of my building my business and I intend to remain active as long as I’m in business. In addition to being a founding board member and two-term president about ten years ago, I served again as president in 2015-2016 and immediate past president for the last two years. Yesterday, I started a term as membership director.
All my team members are members of the chapter; in fact it’s a requirement to be on my teams. I believe that investing money and time in the chapter demonstrates that an organizer is serious about her/his business. And those are the folks I like entrusting with my clients.
I was president the first year the award was put in place and was thrilled to award it to Denise Lee of Clear Spaces, who was then the chapter’s immediate past president. Last year, Jennifer presented the Volunteer of the Year award to Lisa Gilliam of Six Hour Organizer. I can’t wait to see who wins it next year!
I’m very excited that my friend and colleague, life coach Shannon Wilkinson and I are starting a weekly podcast called Getting to Good Enough. In it, we’ll discuss how letting go of perfectionism and embracing a “good enough” philosophy can make you happier and more productive.
Shannon and I have partnered before. We created the now-closed Declutter Happy Hour course, a teleclass and guide to setting resolutions that stick and several in-person workshops. We’ve been friends for 18 years and love discussing this stuff, so we thought it would be fun to meet over the internet every week and record a podcast.
We’ve identified our topics and so far recorded one episode. More are in the works as we work out a few technical glitches. I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to launch the podcast within a month or so. Watch this space!
I’ve noticed in my clients’ homes that it’s hard for some people to let go of greeting cards they’ve been given. The trouble with saving them, of course, is that they can accumulate over the years and become a storage problem.
I have a couple of clients who save every single Christmas card. But they use them in their holiday decor. Each client bundles the cards by year. One places them in a series of festive baskets. The other creates little books of cards, one for each year. Both look at and enjoy the archived cards every year. I think that’s wonderful.
More commonly I see cards jammed in bags or boxes in the basement, sometimes in rubber-banded bundles. That’s less wonderful, in my opinion.
Here are some options to think about when it comes to figuring out what to do with these cards:
I got to thinking about cards today because in my own house I came across some cards I’d stashed, which is really unusual. I took them out, put on my reading glasses and went through them to see if I could let them go. Turns out they were the cards sent me when my mother passed away in 2015. (I honestly don’t remember saving them.) And there were some cards received when my dogs, Pip and Kirby, died in 2010 and 2015 respectively, as well as when my cat, Joe, died in 2012.
I really enjoyed looking through those cards and was touched by the sentiments people had written in them. I bundled them back up—and this time I put a sticky note on each bundle so I could tell at a glance what they were. Then I put them away in a plastic shoe box and put them in a closet. It was nice going through them today and I bet I’ll enjoy them again. But as much as I love receiving annual holiday cards, I have no desire to read them again. So I feel fine about recycling them.
This past Sunday morning I was drinking coffee and I got a text from my friend, Rob. “Turn on Channel 4,” it said. I’m no dummy. I jumped up and turned on the TV and was glad I did. CBS This Morning was airing a story on clutter, called “Making a clean sweep: decluttering your life.”
I was thrilled to see my friend Ellen Delap of ProfessionalOrganizer.com, who is the president of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) being interviewed and shown in action with a client, as well as two other professional organizers, Rachel Sager, of Restart with Rachel and Andrew Mellon, author of Unstuff Your Life! Kick the Clutter Habit and Completely Organize Your Life for Good.
Here’s the seven-minute story:
If you prefer to read the story, go to the CBS This Morning website here. You’ll also find links there to everyone mentioned in story, as well as stills from the piece.
Sometimes these stories are cringe-inducing for me because they can come across as judgmental of people with clutter problem or they can attempt to make professional organizers look bad. But that wasn’t the case here. I thought it was a terrific segment and I particularly liked the ending line. When Andrew Mellon is asked what words he uses to encourage someone to take action and start decluttering he says, “Set yourself free. It’s just stuff.” Truth.