Get Set: Prepare for Success

Posted by suevenman on Jan 16, 2014  

Get Set: Preparing to Succeed

One sunny Saturday morning last summer I jumped out of bed eager to tackle the clutter in the second floor of my barn. If you’ve been reading these posts for a while, you know that my barn is my space-nemesis: the one place on my property that I’m convinced has a vindictive spirit that will one day defeat me.

Before 6.12 (2)By 8 a.m. I was moving boxes and filling bags with old clothes, papers and books with the intention to make a couple trips to recycling before it closed at 1. By 10 a.m. I was flat on my back, covered in dust and cobwebs, in the midst of piles of half-filled bags and boxes ~ totally defeated; In my eagerness to plunge in, I’d forgotten to eat breakfast, wouldn’t stop for water, and had tried to deal with the entire 30 by 40 foot space that day.

Once again, the barn had defeated me. Read the rest of this entry »

Get Ready

Posted by suevenman on Jan 10, 2014  

Get ready. Get set. Go!

Happy New Year!

Are you ready to make 2014 your best year ever? I certainly am. So let’s get started!

A couple days ago I received this email from a client:

Sue, I finally decided to tackle that closet we’ve been discussing. I read in Decluttering 101 about clearing the space before cleaning and organizing it. I even remembered to lay out an old sheet to put all the stuff on! The only thing that I forgot was the open house we were supposed to attend at 4:00. Just about the time I’d pulled everything off the shelves and was ready to scrub everything down, Steve came through asking if I was ready to go. Ready? The only thing I was ready for was tripping over all the stuff I’d pulled out of the closet. Here I am, 3 days later, and I can’t seem to get myself motivated to finish the job. Help!

Decide2What happened? Read the rest of this entry »

Gifts that speak of kindness

Posted by suevenman on Dec 13, 2013  

Greetings from icy, sleety, snowy Vermont!

This week, I want to respond to a question I received about holiday giving. “What can I do when I know that the people I am trying to find gifts for already have way too much stuff?”

What a great question! Thank you for the chance to expand on last week’s post.  Remember the ads that declared, “For the man who has everything..heart gift.” and then tried to sell you some expensive gadget as a measure of the love you have for him? If he has everything then does he really need more stuff? Isn’t there a better way to express your love and appreciation? Read the rest of this entry »

Making Space When Time Gets Tight

Posted by suevenman on Nov 20, 2013  

Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky-tacky. ~Malvina Reynolds

Does it seem to you that November is racing by? Is it possible that Thanksgiving is just around the corner? And then, before we have time to take a breath, it’s December! Gadzooks! Just when you’d like to be kind and gentle to yourself, your family and friends, the time-treadmill lurches into the high speed.

And it’s not only time pressures that accompany the holiday season, it’s also the pressure of stuff.

So how do you make a bit of space: space for you and space free of clutter and chaos?

Read the rest of this entry »

The Magic of Garlic

Posted by suevenman on Nov 11, 2013  

With snow predicted, I finally took the time to plant garlic. Digging in the dirt in November sends my heart a-pitter-patter. I may not have my snow tires on the car, but at least I’ve got a crop of garlic in the ground. I’m now ready for winter.

There’s a certain magic in planting bulbs or, as a dear octogenarian gardener friend of mine says, “Putting them to bed for the winter.” You prepare the soil (garlic likes it rich with humus), dig in compost or manure, loosen and stir up the dirt ’til it looks like chocolate mousse (I always think of the Ents from Tolkien here), dig trenches and then nestle in the bulbs and cover them up. Patting down the soil reminds me of gently patting a baby’s back as she’s falling asleep.

I’m always surprised when the crocuses and daffies and tulips pop up. I never remember what I planted where, so it feels like magic. But the garlic is not so random. I watch the garlic bed, awaiting the tiny shoots that herald spring. For some folks, the robin is the first vernal sign. For me, it’s the garlic. Shooting up out of the earth, green and singing of spring, it brings the promise of pesto and roasted cloves on French bread and its sweet smell simmering in butter …

What does planting garlic have to do with organizing? Read the rest of this entry »

5 Steps to Quit Quitting

Posted by suevenman on Oct 23, 2013  

“Winners never quit and quitters never win.” ~ Vince Lombardi

Eleanor has lived on Maple Street for 27 years. Of those 27 years, 24 of them have seen sincere attempts to clean out her attic. Back in ’88 she moved the entire contents of her old attic plus the inherited furniture, trunks of old photos and boxes of linen tablecloths from her mother and grandmother into the attic on Maple Street.

Each spring she sets out to “finally organize this junk!” She puts a date on the calendar, makes sure she’s got enough boxes and garbage bags on hand and then digs in with hope and gusto. After several hours of combing through dusty boxes and crumbling paper, she decides to take a break and get back to it, “a little later in the summer,” which, predictably, doesn’t happen.

Where did the hope and gusto go? Why, after 24 sincere attempts, is Eleanor’s attic still a disaster zone? Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by suevenman on Oct 18, 2013  

Does this sound familiar?

You’re looking for the gift you’ve been planning to give your sister. Maybe you stashed it upstairs in the hall closet when you had last-minute guests. You go upstairs and find a box on the top shelf tucked under a couple shoe boxes (photos? old baseball cards?), a precariously balanced deviled egg platter and what looks like a Christmas sweater box. You can feel your forehead tighten.

Your mind starts to churn. What’s in that box? Let’s see, it was probably last summer when you put it up there … hmmm … tick-tick-tick … whrrrrrr … buzzzzzzz … but the box really isn’t the right size, so maybe the present is in the bedroom closet. But then, what’s in this box? No time to take it down now: supper is on the table and then there’s that board meeting.

As you drive to the meeting you find yourself thinking about that box and mentally unpacking it. Maybe the present is smaller than you remember and it’s in the box after all. Grrrrr … tomorrow you’ll take the time to pull out the step ladder and get down the box and see what’s in it!

And what could have spared you all those additional grey hairs? Read the rest of this entry »

Trading Places

Posted by suevenman on Sep 19, 2013  

The cold wind doth blow, and we shall have snow, and what will poor robin do then, poor thing? ~ English Children’s Rhyme

Let’s continue last week’s Seasonal Swap theme with a look at household items, other than clothes, that we store when warm afternoons turn into frosty nights.

Gone are the days when we replaced cotton or rattan floor coverings with warm wool carpets. But we still need storage for lawn furniture, air conditioners and those cute little garden gnomes that don’t like the snow. The good news is that each swap comes with the opportunity to get clearer about what goes where (admittedly, I might be the only one in the room who thinks of this as good news).

Read the rest of this entry »

The Seasonal Swap

Posted by suevenman on Sep 12, 2013  

Since we’re at that time of the year when the weather is rapidly changing, I decided to revisit the seasonal clothes discussion.

Last week I worked with a client, Jenny, clearing out a long-neglected closet. At the back, squashed between a couple of summer dresses and a pair of ski pants, was a favorite jacket she thought she’d lost. It was like a reunion with a favorite college roommate. But as Jenny had just purchased an expensive replacement, she was a bit irked. To avoid this unnecessary frustration in the future I suggested she adopt the seasonal swap.

Nowadays lots of folks don’t store away off-season clothes, choosing instead to leave everything in their drawers and closets regardless of whether they are currently wearing them. But for more ease in your daily life (and to lessen the chances of losing favorite garments), I suggest trying out the seasonal swap. It’s a delight to reach into your closet and actually be able to wear anything you see and touch.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hurried, Harried Happiness

Posted by suevenman on Sep 5, 2013  

With September comes a lot more than colored leaves. Summer recess gives way to team sports, extracurricular activities and a myriad of meetings. When life feels like it’s going to run you over, a little organization goes a long way.

One memorable fall, each of my five daughters was on a different sports team. This meant five separate practices on five separate fields with five game schedules to coordinate and, hopefully, attend. My job (if I wished to accept it) was to make sure they had rides to and from, clean uniforms for games, healthy snacks before practice and somehow fit in homework and piano practicing. I also needed to prepare dinner in advance so we could eat before everyone fell apart and hope against hope that I didn’t forget to pick one of them up along the way.

Read the rest of this entry »