Beneath the Mask

Posted by suevenman on Oct 30, 2013  

I love Hallowe’en. I love the costumes. I love the mystery. And face it, I love the candy. My husband hid our stash so I wouldn’t consume every tasty morsel before the 31st. But I’ve found it (don’t tell him) and have been nibbling away; so much for losing those 5 pounds.

Between bites, my Hallowe’en musings lead me to ponder masks. In my organizing work, I often see how our cluttered-selves mask our real-selves. I frequently hear, “I’ll get to that (really important, but scary and self-revealing) project once I clean out the garage (or closet or attic).”

It’s easy to hide behind the clutter in our lives. 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 »

Tag Sale Reflections

Posted by suevenman on Sep 27, 2013  

Last Saturday I did something that I’ve warned many of you never to do: I held a tag sale.

Also known as a yard, garage, rummage or boot sale (as in the English “car boot” or trunk), I have repeatedly cautioned you not to spend time and energy on something that will likely only net you a couple hundred dollars. And yet, there I was, up at the crack of dawn, hauling out boxes of books and vinyl records, house wares, blankets and comforters, furniture and more decorative tchotchkes than even Yankee Candle could find room for.

So, why did I do it?

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 »

Summertime Treasures

Posted by suevenman on Aug 29, 2013  

“Summertime, and the livin’ [was] easy.”~ Porgy and Bess

I had my first sighting of fall colors the other day. No matter when they show up, it’s always too soon.

As summer days decline and back-to-school sales start to look a bit frayed around the edges, I ask what summer treasures I want to bring forward into the cooler weather. I have the pickles and salsa I canned earlier this month to remind me of vine-ripened freshness. But what warm-weather-ways might brighten my spirit as the days grow short? Read the rest of this entry »

Creating a Productive Homework Area

Posted by suevenman on Aug 21, 2013  

Ready or not, the new school year’s here!

I can almost hear the groans – from you parents! Getting the kids up and off; arranging for after school care for the little ones; trying to remember which kid is supposed to be at what after school activity when; and then, perhaps the toughest of the difficult-to-swallow pills, homework.

In her delightful article in the Washington Post, Nicole Anzia has some great suggestions for creating a homework space that smooths out some of the bumps along the homework highway. Even if you don’t have school age kids, her ideas can be used for setting up an out-of-the-office office space. Read the rest of this entry »

One Hanger at a Time

Posted by suevenman on Aug 15, 2013  

With only 10 minutes here and 15 minutes there, the closet clean-out seemed like it would never get done. But blouse by blouse, hanger by hanger, I cleaned it out, sorted through and reorganized the clothes so that I could once again access the clothes I need.

It all began yesterday, when I went to put away a clean basket of laundry, more than half of which needed to be hung. After using up the 3 available hangers (where did all those hangers go that used to hold up these garments?), I got frustrated and left the laundry in the basket on the floor. Read the rest of this entry »