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  • Writer's pictureKay Patterson

Clutter Therapy: Mindset for 2020

Happy New Year! It's 2020 and it seems as though it's the year that everyone wants to make a change. I don't know if it's because 2020 looks cool or if it's the symmetry of the year 2020 but a lot of people want to get their homes and spaces organized this year and this is the year we're going to do it together.

As you may or may not know, January is National Get Organized Month, but of course, you're always free to get organized any month of the year, however, January feels like a fresh start which is why I believe people are motivated to make changes in their lives. So, starting this month, we'll be talking about how to take the steps to get to a point where you home hugs you instead of stresses you out.

The first topic I'd like to focus on is mindset. A lot of people have the desire to get their homes organized, but they are overwhelmed and don't know where or how to begin. Changing the way you think approach your project can help motivate you and relieve some of the anxiety that I know a lot of people feel around organizing their home. I've come up with a concept so simple that it blew my mind. Now, I'd like to point out that simple does not mean easy. It just means simple.

Being a professional organizer means I help people in their homes and online to repair a fractured relationship between them and their spaces and belongings. I firmly believe you ARE in a relationship with your homes and your belongings whether you like it or not and how organized or disorganized your space is, is dependent on the health of your relationship. More and more, over the years, I've started to focus more and more on client behavior than just putting things in rows. Not to discredit the value of creating an aesthetically pleasing space, but it is often the icing on the cake...not the eggs and butter and flour. Those are core components and without have no cake. If you try to ice your bowl of unprocessed cake ingredients, you won't get a pretty matter how hard you try.

So, the first step in achieving an organized home is changing your mindset about your space. The one thing that may help you get started in your space if you look around and you are overwhelmed and don't know where to start is to realize...that organizing is simply problem-solving and nothing more.

I realize not all of us are gifted when it comes to solving problems. I took a physics course in my post-baccalaureate days and let's just say...I practiced solving physics problems for hours and hours a day and over the course of the year, I got better at it, but ultimately, I found it to be difficult. However, you can get better with practice and help from someone who knows what they’re doing better than you do.


The reason I always mention that I don't have that many hard and fast rules for organizing that work for everyone is that disorganization is a phenomenon that is an individual experience and needs to be dealt with accordingly. When I am with clients for the first time working with them, instead of sitting down and getting to the decluttering and all that right away, I spend a pretty good amount of time asking questions and asking about their lifestyle and habits. I believe very strongly that the way you use and store your items is simply a manifestation of your behavior and the behavior of people in your household. That, in turn, creates a problem...that you then need to solve.

"I cannot find my keys when I go to look for them."

"I don't wear these boots because I can never reach them."

"My blouses keep falling on the floor when I go to hang them up."

"My kids are just throwing their coats on the mudroom bench instead of hanging them up."

"I can't find anything in my pantry when I need to cook."

"I have an ever-growing pile of unopened mail."

"My kitchen counter is cluttered with all kinds of junk."

If you think carefully about each one of these scenarios, they are just problems that need a solution. Sometimes the solution is to change a previously unhelpful habit and sometimes the solution is to buy a product and sometimes, it's both. This is why organizing spaces is such an individual experience and while it's definitely possible and helpful to gather ideas from other people's solved organization dilemmas, how you organize your space in a way that works for you and your household will be a personal experience.

When I'm with clients for the first time assessing their space, I will ask specifically what the problem is in their space and one of the answers I get back most frequently is: "It's a mess."

When I get this reply, I always ask them to go one step deeper. Is there something they are trying to accomplish in this space that's hindered by the "mess"? Is there an item that they regularly are trying to find and can't because of the mess? Is it a mess because not everything in the space has a place to go when it needs to be put away?

Going one step deeper can help give you an idea of where to begin when you are organizing a space. Simply figuring out the problem can take some of the guesswork and anxiety out of the "Where do I even start?" trap. Solving the problem is another feat but uncovering the underlying problem to be solved can actually do some of the heavy-lifting when you're on a path to home organization and improving your relationship with your space. I hope this inspires you and changes your view on your organization project this year so that you can create a home that hugs you!

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