Having the right supplies on hand when you need to turn a non-functional area into a functional area can decrease the anxiety of tackling the project as well as the time you spend working on it. We recommend having the following supplies on hand;
· A Sharpie
We recommend black trash bags for trash and white trash bags for donate. If you don't have two different colored bags, use a cardboard box and label it “Donate”. Laundry baskets and cardboard boxes work great as extra containers during the sorting process. You will use the Post-it Notes and Sharpie to make labels for the different categories you will be sorting items into. We also suggest taping the Post-it Notes to the containers, so they do not fall during this phase.
After you have your supplies you are ready to start. However, there are some ground rules we like to stick to in order to make the organizing process less stressful and more productive.
·First Rule: Acknowledge that the goal of your project is to make the area functional, so you know what it is in the area and can easily locate a specific category. An example of this would be a “Camping” Category. At the end of the Functional phase you may have two containers full of random camping stuff, you still may have to dig around in those containers to find a specific item, but you do have a general idea where to look. Organizing the camping category into more sub-categories, such as “Bug Spray” or “Cooking Equipment”, should be done during another organizing session, once the whole area has been addressed.
·Second Rule: If it takes longer than 5 seconds to decide what category an item should go in you need to put it in a category called the “Keep/Don’t Know/Need to Sort” category and move on to the next item. This is our cheat category and we only recommend using it during the Functional Stage of a project. The items you aren’t sure about go in this category, it lets you know that you already decided to keep it, you don’t know what to do with it, and you need to sort the stuff in that category after the main goal of making the area functional has been completed. This prevents us from getting hung up on a few items.
·Third Rule: As soon as you start a new category, you need to designate a container for that category and tape a labeled Post-it Note on it. If you don’t have enough containers or have items that won’t fit in a container then label a Post-it Note and put it near the pile as well as making sure no other piles are close by. Labeling every container and pile prevents us from forgetting what the category was, accidentally mixing categories, and makes it easier for other people to help. Labeling also allows you to stop, if needed, and pick back up where you left off later.
·Fourth Rule: This rule is for married people or anyone who shares their home with someone else. If working together isn’t an option, then anything that is not yours and you would consider "Theirs" needs to be put in a "Their Stuff" category. Once you have addressed your items in the area and made the area functional it will be easier for them to make decisions on their belongings If there are items are aren’t technically “Theirs” but you aren’t sure if they would like to part with the item, you can create a “Ask Them” pile.
·Fifth Rule: The final rule is to stay focused on the end goal. Don’t let yourself go down memory lane and try not to let emotions slow you down. If you find yourself getting emotional or playing the blame game, remind yourself that the goal is to sort and put everything in a category.
Now you are ready to get started. However, if you struggle with making decisions regarding your belongings, we will cover how to make decisions and how to come up with categories in the next article.
Until next time,
We have all been there and said, "next weekend we have to get that basement cleaned up and organized". If we are lucky, we find a way to push "next weekend" out as far as possible.
One of my favorite words when it comes to running a professional organizing business, is the word functional. It is also the first step to the JLB Organizing Method. I think we all strive to have a functional home that is also organized. However, the feeling of “being overwhelmed” is the #1 reason we put off organizing projects in our home. To better understand why certain areas are harder for us to tackle than others I want to explain the difference between a functional area of your home vs. a non-functional area. Understanding the difference can make the non-functional areas, which tend to the be areas of your home you are the most overwhelmed, by much easier to tackle.
First, I want to explain the difference between a functional area and a non-functional area from my perspective as a professional organizer. Functional areas in our homes are normally closets, kitchens, offices, linen clothes etc. They function, maybe not as well as you would like and maybe the area isn’t as organized as you would like but the area gets the jobs done, you can still cook or find an outfit to wear. It may take longer than you would like and annoy you but areas like this are functional. What these areas normally need are to be decluttered and then organized.
Then you have your non-functional areas, these tend to the "catch all" areas and they tend to be basements, spare bedrooms, or garages. The areas where if guest come over you can close the door and forbid entrance to any who try to pass. These are the areas that you feel like you know what is in there but in all honesty, you aren’t 100% sure and even if you were it could take 30 minutes of digging to find the item you were searching. These areas tend to be hard to walk around in with piles upon piles which can make looking for anything like a game a Jenga....can you move this, without that falling. Over the next few weeks I am going to share some simple tips and tricks to help you turn these non-functional areas into functional areas. This then makes the decluttering and organizing steps easier. However, if you can just get just get a non-functional area into a functional area, you will feel a million times better about that area and then be motivated to fine tune and organize that area.
The acronym I use for the JLB 4-Step Organizing Method is F.D.O.P. This is short for Functional, Decisions Making, Organizing, and Personalization. Before you can get an area organized you have to make the area functional and make decisions about the items in your home. The decision is not just if you need to keep an item or not but deciding what the item is to you and what category it should be organized in. After these two steps you can start organizing and once that is complete you can personalize the project or area you were working on. The final stage is for people who really want to put the final touches on the area, such as putting on the fancy label from label makers and getting the specific organizing products you might need. Next article, I will cover what the ground rules to follow are and the supplies you will want to have on hand when you tackle transforming a non-functional area into a functional area.
Until next time,
In the summer of 2015, I found myself knee deep in too much stuff and I had become unaware of the decline to the condition of my home. I was so caught up in keeping up with work, kids, and this whole “adult life” no one seemed to prepare me for (excuse my dry humor) that I began to ignore the most ordinary and boring parts of life. I quit opening mail, left baskets of laundry everywhere, and my once organized basement was unrecognizable. We all have our long list of “life is just too hard sometimes” and our homes tend to take the biggest beating when that list gets too long. I even received a few "Shut off Notices" from utility companies, not because we couldn’t pay but because I lost the bill in one of my piles and simply forgot. If you had asked me in 2014 if this was a person I would ever become, I would have said it was impossible as would my husband and anyone else who knew me. Yet, on the morning of August 7th, 2015, I set on my back porch holding back tears, hoping my kids would sleep just a little bit longer so I could try to figure out how my home had fallen apart so fast. I couldn't stop thinking there had to be a better way and that I couldn’t be the only one. There had to be other people like me who were hardworking but who just had too much life thrown at them. People who now saw their home as place of stress instead comfort.
This then became my passion, to create a service for people who weren't just looking for organization or to become a minimalist but people like me who just needed some help to get their home back under control after too much life seemed to happen and they didn’t know where to start to put the pieces back together.
During the development of JLB Organizing method I wanted to understand why my brain, an organized, spreadsheet loving, and detailed orientated brain was now on the verge of a panic attack even at the thought of opening mail. What I learned through research, personal experience, and years of helping others get organized is there are always two things to blame; your brain and life. The JLB Organizing method may seem backwards to most mainstream organization rules. However, what I found was most organizing self-help books were long and covered so many topics that I was normally to overwhelmed to want to read them. I also found the fun Pinterest post demotivating because you had to declutter and make decisions to achieve the finish product. If you are to overcome with anxiety, sadness, anger, or any of the emotions that come up when even thinking about decluttering an area of your home then those images are just a reminder of the hole you have found yourself in.
What I have learned through my personal and work experience is that we all feel our homes should be better and that we must be failing by societies standards. I can assure you, you are not failing! My goal is to teach people how to deal with the feelings of being overwhelmed with the condition of their home. I don’t support the technique of making you feel guilty for struggling to let things go, we all have our reasons behind why we keep what we keep. I recommend learning to make decisions by baby steps and realizing you don’t have to do it all at once.
My hope with this blog is that it will help people realize that the pursuit or organization can seem endless because your life is endlessly changing but that you are not alone in your struggle and there are techniques and tips you can learn to better manage your home. We are all good at something and you can learn to be better at organizing and creating systems that work for your life and your family. It doesn’t have to happen overnight and, in most cases, like all aspects of your life, your organizing systems will be a constantly evolving process. I look forward to sharing what I have learned in over a decade of organizing others as well as myself with you!
Until Next Time,
Time To Unwind.
Cleaning and organizing your home can be exhausting, despite what some think. It's not an easy, mundane task. When people hear words like "homemaker", they laugh and mention how they'd kill for a job like that. Little do they know, organizing and keeping up with daily chores is hard work. We totally get that!
There are things people do that make the burden of cleaning and organizing harder than it needs to be. It's easy to get tired or stressed and tell ourselves, "I'll do the dishes later," or "I'll pick that up in a few hours." How could we possibly clean when our emotions are running wild in that moment? We get it, and sure it does feel nice not having to do ANYTHING when we feel stressed.
Try to avoid this habit. Those few tasks actually add up pretty quickly and before we know it, at the end of the day we have an entire list of things we said we'd do later. It's not a good feeling when 'later' has become now. Regardless of what is happening that day, in the end, the tasks have to be completed. It's better to do them as you go, rather than wait and let the list get longer.
As You Go.
Cleaning as you go really does make things so much easier. Sometimes we let our emotions dampen your mood for cleaning. Don't let that happen! Here's a list of things that are easy to do as you go, but will truly leave us feeling much more lifted through out the day!
By starting these new habits you will greatly reduce the amount of time spent cleaning and organizing. Every time we "walk away" from a task we are wasting the seconds we used to "walk away." It is a hard habit to start but give it a try for a week or two and you will notice a difference. It is also a good way to set "House Rules" and have the whole family pitch in.
NEVER FEAR! HELP IS HERE!
I have been looking at the same pile of papers on my living room floor for over a month. The thought of organizing them stresses me out. I think many of us have piles or spaces that seem too overwhelming to start organizing. However, there comes a point where we surrender to our desire to be organized and dive in.
The internet seems to be the first place to go for help. So we do a simple Google search on “How to organize paperwork.” Okay, about 45,700,000 results. Whew! Pinterest will give us some ideas, let's go there. Five minutes later and we are still scrolling through pins. How about a good book on paper clutter? Amazon results: 65 books. Not as scary as the google search but still kinda overwhelming. Finding a solution to clutter can be as intimidating as the organizing project that you are trying to start. So I've come up with few things to help you move forward with your project.
ASK FOR HELP
If it’s in your budget, hire someone to help you organize. A professional organizer can take away the guess work on which solutions work. If it’s not in your budget, ask a friend to help you. They can be an accountability partner that helps keep you focused and motivated.
THERE IS NO "PERFECT" SOLUTION
As the old saying goes, “all roads lead to Rome.” Which means wildly different ideas on organizing can still lead you to your desired result. Before you go on a search for a solution, first acknowledge that no one book, website, blog, and/or pin has the only usable solution. There are many ideas that work and some that don’t. Trial and error is the best way to figure out what works for you.
START SEARCHING FOR IDEAS AND SET LIMITS
When searching for a solution be as specific as possible. Instead of searching for “paper clutter” do a search for “organizing children’s artwork.” Break up your space or project into smaller sections, then look for solutions to each of those sections individually. Starting small and completing that first section will give you the win you need to motivate you to move on to the next section. During your search, set limits for yourself. An Internet search can be a never ending rabbit hole. Set a timer for 15-30 minutes to search for online ideas. That will give you plenty of time to find some usable solution
If you are organizing your office, work or personal, check out the follow along printable worksheet
we created to help you with your project!
GO EASY ON YOURSELF
Clutter is a common problem. Even if you are completely organized right now there is a good chance clutter will find its way back into your life at some point. That is okay. Even the best organizers can revert back to old habits. The important thing is to be forgiving of yourself and try again.
I don't know about you but I’m ready to tackle my pile of paperwork. I can’t wait to see the empty space on the floor, to have less clutter to manage, and to have more time to do what matters most to me.
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"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed" Psalm 34:18
JLB Simplify Organizing Blog
At JLB Simplify Home and Unpacking Organization we help people on a regular basis who are overwhelmed with the state of their home. It is a normal thing and even happens to professional organizers! This is because life tends to throw more at us than we can handle from time to time. We created the JLB Simplify Organizing Blog to help provide tips and advice for anyone trying to get more organized as well as to be honest about how hard getting organized can be. We hope that you find useful information as well as comfort in knowing we all struggle from the JLB Simplify Organizing Blogs.
Thank you for reading,
The JLB Simplify Team
The JLB Team