Knit One, Purge Two

Posted by suevenman on Jun 5, 2012  

My self-imposed come-to-Jesus talk last week must have done the trick. As you can see by these pictures, I finally started the hands-on decluttering my barn.

The barn’s yarn stash

The steps I took to organize my yarns were similar to those outlined by Joanna (the founder of Breathing Space) in her book, Decluttering 101, with a few tweaks to fit this project. I hope that those non-knitters among you will be able to translate these steps into other organizing projects that involve sorting materials of various kinds. Read the rest of this entry »

Creating an Organizing Map

Posted by suevenman on May 18, 2012  

Confessions of a Professional Organizer, Chapter 3

Embarking on this organizing adventure, I’m reminded of all the trips I’ve taken over the years. Even after the advent of the GPS, I begin my trips by pulling out a map. Without a map it’s easy for me to get lost. In truth, I get lost even with a map, but at least a map gives me a reference point. It keeps me focused on my destination and points out landmarks along the way.

When you’re embarking on an organizing adventure, you also need a map. If you’re heading into difficult territory or planning to move through several different spaces, a map will keep you motivated and focused on your desired outcome. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Tis the Season … For Lists!

Posted by suevenman on Dec 14, 2010  

‘Tis the Season … To Make Lists!

I have gift giving lists for my family, my colleagues and my friends. I have a list for both our Hanukkah and our Christmas feasts. I have lists for the household chores that I dream about accomplishing before the chaos descends and a list of the chores that absolutely must be done. I have a list of the seasonal events we’re either required to attend or would like to attend. Perhaps I need a list of all my lists!

Funny how the most important things in our lives do not always make it onto our lists: A list of all the people I am grateful for (including you, dear Readers); a list of my accomplishments throughout 2010 (it’s all too easy to look at what I’ve left UNDONE rather than celebrating what I’ve DONE); a list of the delicious gifts of light, love and caring that I’ve received, and a list of recipients of my own gifts of light, love and caring.

Without these “most important things” list, December becomes the season of insanity, sweeping us up into the frenzy of buy-buy-buy and go-go-go. The only way to stop the insanity is to intentionally slow down and mindfully, gracefully and joyously reverse course and CHOOSE a direction that feeds our souls. Because, when we’re not feeding our souls, we’re feeding the frenzy.

On my soul-feeding list are walking the faerie-light lined labyrinth at our local church; cookie decorating with my daughters; s-l-o-w-l-y trimming the Christmas tree and telling the stories behind each of the ornaments that have special meaning; and taking time each morning and evening to just BE.

But if I’m going to make time for feeding my soul, I’ll have to abandon some frenzy-inducing activities along the way. It isn’t easy to let go of seasonal activities, even when they are more stressful than festive. In order to make time for cookie decorating, I’ve chosen to limit my house decorating to candles in the windows. To make time to walk the labyrinth (and that’s WALK, not RUN), I’ll attend only one open house rather than the several I’d planned. Just like trying to cram one more thing in an already full closet, you can’t fit one more activity into an already full calendar.

So what’s on your soul-feeding list? And what do you need to say NO to in order to say a heart-filled YES! to what truly nurtures you?

Happy list making!


The Magic of Dating

Posted by suevenman on Jan 30, 2009  

Dear Breathing Space Readers

The magic of dating… what do I mean? Here’s an example:

On the 19th I was part of “Project Sleep Warm & Well” a local MLK
Jr Celebration service project. One of the churches in our town has
contributed space in the winter as an  overflow shelter for the homeless. These terribly cold nights it’s clearly a blessing to have a warm shelter available. The church has had to make room for the individual egg box foam pads,blankets and pillows that are bagged together to make each individual “bed”.  In addition there are the yet unassigned blankets and pillows.

Thus the church storage space is doing double duty.. You can
imagine! We set to sorting through everything in thecloset,cleaning the space, and putting things back so they would be easier to use. Here is where the “DATE” comes in.

Read the rest of this entry »

While the weather is still good

Posted by suevenman on Jun 20, 2008  

It’s a great time to

1) Relish life …

2) Let go of things you don’t love or use…a super time for FREE
at the curbside or yard sales if you enjoy them! (Or just take
the stuff to your local good will!)

With all best of wishes, Joanna

p.s. Basements are good places to declutter on TOO HOT days – other
indoor spaces at times when it is truly too rainy to be outside. Tackle
a small area with gusto – and get outside again soon!


Posted by suevenman on May 17, 2008  

If you are like most of us (me included) there is a TON of
information that comes at you every day – by email, snail mail,
radio, TV etc.

Decrease the volume and you will find it easier
to stay organized.

Mind you, it  takes an odd kind of bravery to be able to admit,
“In reality I DON’T have time to read that __________  every week.”
It takes courage to say, “I know enough about that topic for right
now. I can go to the library or re-subscribe when I REALLY need
more info.”

BUT piles of unread magazines or dozens of unread e-zines won’t make
you happier or smarter.  I promise.

Once you are clear about that, you CAN (yes- you really can)
cancel a subscription. Sure you can GIVE away the extra magazines
AFTER your receive them, or delete an e-zine but even that takes
time and attention. It IS possible to unsubscribe!

If you feel burdened by the ton of subscriptions piling up… try
cancelling at least one and see how it feels.

Packing Trauma

Posted by suevenman on Jan 31, 2008  

Last week a client asked me if I was willing to help her figure
out how to deal with all her toiletries for different length trips.
She said that ever since the rules changed about what you can and
can’t have on the plane, the job of packing all those little bottles
has been driving her crazy.

I said “of course”, figuring that she and I would work out a
solution. She had a wide variety of travel cases, each one filled to
the brim, but they were just adding to the endless number of
pre-trip decisions.

We did our standard first step: old sheet on the bed and empty
everything out onto the sheet.  Then we sorted by major category:
all the tooth stuff in one pile, all the shampoo in another and so
forth- tossing out anything that was gross. Of course we also had a
give away pile. (I’m sure you know that unopened little bottles
shampoo, moisturizer, etc., that you aren’t going to use are very
helpful to homeless shelters.)

My client travels lots – with different kinds of trips having
different requirements.  So we talked about her travel needs and
came up with a system that felt almost life changing to us both!

We figured out her categories – labeled big clear zip-lock bags…
voila!  Sorting into the bags was easy.  We decided this was a
great system and I said I would write it up as a tip.

Here are her categories – yours may be different:
1) Every Trip (this bag is all ready for any sort of overnight etc.)
2) Long Long Trip – stuff like medicines that can’t be purchased in
other countries, a little iron and so forth
3) Walking Trip- includes hat/shoes/fleece that are only used when
she’s in Scotland
4) Trips with _______ (could be trips with kids/ trips with the dog
and so forth – the things you need ONLY if you are going with
_________. )

The stuff STAYS in the zip locks! Each zip lock gets replenished
with it’s particular category and there you are…toss in the
appropriate zip lock(s)for that trip. Obviously the “Every Trip”
zip lock will get the most use.

She’s promised to let me know how it works for her; I will try
it too. If you have another system that you really like –  do

Toxic Back Packs – Organizing Tip

Posted by suevenman on Sep 7, 2007  

I just received a tip about backpacks from IDEAL BITE. Since back packs
are a daily item of “clothing” for many kids and plenty of adults
I figured it best to share this tip- pronto.

If anyone in your life uses a backpack regularly, do have a look at
this info …

Inch by Inch – Organizing Tip

Posted by suevenman on Sep 6, 2007  

Sigh! I just discovered that my August 23 tip never went out.
My apology! It was about back packs and I meant for you to
get it before school started up for the Fall. Ah well. Will send it
in a few days – just in case you have to replace a back pack sometime

Meanwhile — Reading the SIMPLE TRUTHS e-letter this week I thought
about you and how absoutely true this quote is when trying to
get organized.

“Inch by inch, life’s a cinch. Yard by yard life is hard. ” *

If you think about organizing your whole space, it can easily seem
impossible. Choose ONE surface, ONE drawer, ONE corner to work on!
Inch by inch you CAN transform your space– faster than you imagined.

* Here’s the site: I enjoyed the mini-film
version (after turning off the music).The quotes and images are good.

The BUY Test! – Organizing Tip

Posted by suevenman on Aug 9, 2007  

A friend and I were chatting the other day about the danger of words
like BARGAIN! She said she always has to stop and give herself a good
talking to – even when she had NO plan to go shopping,and has NO known
use for a particular whirlygig, and has been determinedly
decluttering for months so she can use her upstairs to give workshops.

The pull is SO STRONG!!! Even for me, though I spend hundreds of hours
helping folks figure out how deal with stuff that clutters their
space and lives and have become like a hawk about my own stuff.

These words are designed to make us SHOP!



10%,20%,30%,40%,50,60% OFF





They are designed to stop you in your tracks, make you forget
what you were PLANNING to do with your hard earned pennies and getcha!

Instead of getting caught – try using a purchase test, not unlike
my Keep Test. See

Maybe make a little card to carry in your wallet with these questions:

1) Do I LOVE it?  (Will it REALLY make my heart sing to have it?)

2) Is it something that I have already been wanting/needing for a
specific use? (Or is it the idea of getting a bargain that is
pushing me to buy.)

3) Is it truly a treasure? (Something that I will use and cherish
for a long time?)

Sales and bargains can be great if you don’t let yourself get trapped
into buying stuff that you never needed and may never use.

To actually save money(and space) …test every bargain to confirm that
it will truely be a savings for YOU!

Wishing you a month with time to relish what you already have!