In the News: April 2015

Photo by Chris Plavidal via D Home Blog

Photo by Chris Plavidal via D Home Blog

Five Tips for Effective Spring Cleaning – D Home Blog. I was so excited to be asked to contribute my favorite tips for spring cleaning to the D Home Blog. They also mentioned the release of “Fabulous Foothold to Organization!” Thank you to Caitlin and D Home!

16 Expert-Recommended Steps to Spring Clean Your Kitchen – Livestrong.com. Spring cleaning is definitely in the air and y’all know how much I love kitchens and food. Happy to contribute to this piece.

32 Organization Hacks That Can Keep Anyone Organized – DIYReady.com. Another site that picked up my binder clips in the freezer tip. This article includes some of my favorite tips (I’m lookin at you “hang heels from crown molding”) so definitely be sure to check it out.

But I’ve already let go of so much!

A common complaint I hear from people is that they’ve already let go of so much, why do they have to let go of more? Well Sunshine, if your home still feels cluttered and unruly then you need to keep going. No matter how much you’ve already let go of.

Even in an uncluttered home, there’s always more.

Seriously.

Last week I attended a charity event. The entry price was to bring donations. I’m in a small, clutter-free home and had just done my routine spring weeding so didn’t think I had anything to donate. I even told the lady that invited me that I’d just weeded everything out and didn’t know that I’d have anything to offer. However, the afternoon of the event I decided to give it a good faith effort and go through my closets again. I set two guiding principles:

  • Does this present the image that I want?
  • Can someone else make better use of this than I am?

Then I got ruthless.

An hour later I had 3 bags full of donations.There's Always More You Can Let Go Of. - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous Blog

Pro tip: seasonal weed-outs help keep your home clutter free and organized. Once you’re done with the big clutter release and set good organizational systems in place, subsequent weedings shouldn’t take too long. Just a quick sweep to remove anything you don’t need, use, and love then you’re done!

When you’re working through major amounts of clutter, don’t look backward. You can keep track of how much you’ve let go of for posterity’s sake and to congratulate yourself at the end but don’t lament over it. It’s defeating and a useless way to spend your energy. Instead, focus on how your home makes you feel. If you like where things are at then fabulous, you’ve let go of enough. If not, continue to release clutter until you feel good about your home. It doesn’t matter how much has to be let go of to get there.

Are you frustrated that you’ve let go of clutter and aren’t seeing progress? Or are you too overwhelmed to even know where to start? Contact me or buy “Fabulous Foothold to Organization: A guide for getting started when you don’t know where to start” today! 

We can’t do it all, see it all, live it all.

We can't do it all, see it all, live it all. - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous BlogThe other day I was reading an article written by the child of a hoarder. She described the conditions of her mom’s home and how this was the last time she would ever spend the night in the home.

At the end of the article, I skimmed the comments. Yes, this is the second post in a row where I mention reading the comments…which I KNOW better than to do…ESPECIALLY with situations like this.

I’m happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised to discover many well-written, well-informed comments! Hooray!

One that I paid particular attention to was from a hoarder. There was one sentence that struck me:

I see dust forming on things and wonder if I’ll ever live long enough to use it all.

Sunshine, here’s the answer to that in two words:

You won’t.

None of us will. There is far too vast a world out there and far too many things, places, ideas, and more for any of us to be able to do it all.

And that’s OK.

How can we get past this?

  • For starters, know that you can’t do it all. Like the saying goes, “You can do anything but not everything.” This should bring relief not anxiety. If it brings anxiety, remind yourself of this until it provides relief.
  • Think about what you want to prioritize in your life. What are the things that light you up? Make you happy? Bring sparkle? Set your hair on fire? Write them down and keep them somewhere prominent. These are your touchstones when you start to spiral out with things that don’t matter as much.
  • Set goals – realistic ones but some crazy audacious ones too. Make sure these reflect your priorities. If they don’t reflect your priorities, you’re wasting time on junk that doesn’t matter.

Then from here forward, compare everything to those priorities and goals. Activities you participate in. Groups you’re a member of. People you’re friends with. (Oh yeah. I went there. Some people are just toxic and will thwart your dreams.) The items in your home. Everything. Think to yourself, “Does this reflect my priorities and goals?” If not, let it go guilt free. This creates space for the things that will support your priorities and goals. Sometimes this means letting go of good things to make room for that fabulous right fit. It’s good. It’ll happen.

So remember, Sunshine. You can’t do everything. Nobody can. We all have a finite amount of time on this earth so spend it wisely on the things that reflect your priorities and make you sparkle.

Still not convinced or need some help getting started in the right direction? Contact me or buy “Fabulous Foothold to Organization” today. 

Is Your Disorganization Legit or are You Just Being Lazy?

Is Your Disorganization Legit or are You Just Being Lazy? - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous BlogRedheaded Rant Alert.

As many of you may already know, my binder clip tip has gotten some awesome exposure. (Thanks Good Housekeeping and Lifehacker!) With this fabulous exposure, I’ve also made a rookie mistake.

I read some of the comments.

Why in the hell did I do that??? I know better!!!

But I did and here’s what I discovered:

Many people out there are really lazy and they love to bitch.

OK…maybe I didn’t *just* discover this. My stint in retail hell during undergrad taught me that.

I digress…

Since the complainers didn’t see the photos in their original context, they complained that it wouldn’t work for them or was an extra step or wasted space, blahblahblah.

In its original context, it’s perfect. And it works perfectly for me. I’ve never said that tip (or any of my tips) are the end all be all. As a matter of fact, many tips may not work for you. The best tips are the ones that work for your specific needs and home. Not all of them will fit. Like with all advice, take what works and let the rest fall away.

Still, I feel I need to address something that other organizers don’t really like to say but I know many want to and it needs to be said.

I’m known for my “tough love” anyway.

So here it is.

Stop being so freakin’ lazy!!!!

The majority of excuses I read and hear are just code for

L

A

Z

Y.

But we sure do like to get critical and cranky instead of sucking it up, taking ownership and taking action don’t we?

Don’t like something? Fix it or stop bitching. Whichever doesn’t matter but your current course of action is an absolute waste.

Waste of time.

Waste of energy.

Waste of breath.

Why don’t you take a step back and perhaps a nap as well.

So how do we overcome this?

  • Find and address the inefficiencies. – where in your schedule can you delegate, fine tune, or drop altogether.
  • Remove the clutter – creating space gives you the room needed to do whatever it is you want/need to do. Visual clutter is also draining so you’ll have more energy after letting go of what is no longer serving you.
  • Suck it up and go through the uncomfortable spaces so that you can get to the other side with the time and energy to be less lazy.

I’m not saying you can’t be lazy ever. But don’t make that your default. Some specific laziness is good. It’s called downtime and we all need it. But when it’s your default you’re not helping anyone…least of all yourself.

And you deserve better!

What is one thing can you do today to be less lazy and more organized?

Need assistance formulating a game plan or motivation to help you accomplish your organizing goals? Contact me or buy “Fabulous Foothold to Organization” today. 

Did We Invent Hoarding?

Did We Invent Hoarding? | Organizing with a Side of Fabulous BlogRedheaded Rant Alert.

Recently I discovered there’s a book out there with the premise that hoarding is made up by the media, psychologists, professional organizers, cleaning teams, etc. purely to make money.

It’s written by an English professor.

ENGLISH, Sunshines. Were we to Venn Diagram this I’m pretty sure the English knowledge circle and hoarding knowledge circle wouldn’t overlap.

The author even admits he has ZERO knowledge of hoarding itself. He just decided that it’s all made up and he’d write a book about it.

So now tell me who is it exploiting a situation to make money?

I’m so disgusted and pissed by this notion that I can’t even put it all into words to it yet. Other than this:

Spend some time with a true, clinical hoarder. Witness the tears, pain, depression, anxiety, and whole host of negative emotions that come along with this problem and then tell me it’s made up. That’s just the beginning of everything that needs to be parsed through and unraveled.

Then there’s working through the frustrations of the families.

The ever deteriorating conditions of the home.

Let’s not forget the negative effect it has on the neighboring houses and home values. Oh? You didn’t know that happened. Well as we all know, one crappy house can really drop home values. And if that home has pests, rodents, or any sort of animal issue? It’s most likely spread to the neighboring homes. I once had a client who had pest control come to her home every month to stand at her property line and spray towards the hoarder home next door. If not, she’d probably have been in the same state as the home on the opposite side of the hoarder. That lucky home had fleas even though they owned no pets.

Delightful, huh?

Oooh, we have to also keep in mind the first responders. Hoarding presents special hazards for them. Fort Worth’s Mayor told me of a time that fire had to call in for reinforcements because they couldn’t get to a heart attack victim. They had to call in more people so they could hand-pass the victim through the goat trails and out of the own home.  Hoarded homes pose quite a few difficulties if they catch on fire. I’ve read articles written by fire professionals so I’ll leave the finer details for them. Just know that the situation is dangerous for not only the hoarder, but also for the first responders as well as neighboring homes.

All of this? Just a glimpse into the full issue. A mere teeny glimpse.

I’m sure that everyone that has ever come into close contact with hoarding in some way wished it were made up. I’d be happy to find a new line of work if it meant that everyone out there lived in a safe, clean space that supported their life. But that’s not the case nor will it be anytime soon.

I get it. To the outside world it seems odd. How can someone live like that? How can one not notice what seems to be basic trash? But what a hoarder sees vs what you and I see are two very different things. Essentially, asking a hoarder why they can’t just “clean up” is like asking an armless person to give you a hug. It just doesn’t work the same way.

And yes, cleanup is expensive. It can be very expensive. I worked with one home that spent well over $50,000 on cleanup. So sure, it can look like we’re taking advantage of a situation to make money. However the truth is that we’re helping people through what is often some of the hardest and darkest times of their life.

So you, Pumpkin of the English degrees that I’m guessing had too many martinis one day, thought you had the “brilliant” idea that we’re all just making shit up, and decided to write a book that is out of your zone of genius? Time to reign it back in and write about what you know.

‪#‎endrant‬

Are you or is someone you love a hoarder? It’s real. It sucks. It takes a lot of time, patience, empathy, love, and work to get to the other side but it can be done. Need help knowing what to do or where to start? Contact me or buy “Fabulous Foothold to Organization” today. 

Food Geek Friday: Quinoa Mocha Chia Pudding Parfait

Sunshines, prepare yourself for pure decadence.

OK. So the name is clunky and it might even sound gross to you. When I posted this picture earlier this week, it evoked responses from “Is it alive?” to “Will you be my personal chef?”

I’m just going to have to ask for your trust on this one. I don’t think I’ve let you down yet, and I don’t intend to start now.

This idea started to evolve a few weeks ago when I had random ingredients that needed to be used up. I plugged them into the Googles and then scrolled through for inspiration. When I attempted to actually follow a recipe, it went oh-so-awry.

I know better than to proper follow recipes.

So after a number of tweaks, this was born.

I’ve had it for breakfast and as a filling snack when I know dinner is a long way away. Enjoy.

Quinoa Mocha Chia Pudding Parfait

Mocha Chia Quinoa Parfait - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous BlogFor the Mocha Chia Pudding

  • 2 TBS chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk. (I prefer the canned, full-fat version for extra decadence)
  • 1/4 cup strongly brewed coffee
  • Heaping spoonful or so of cocoa powder
  • Sweetener of choice, to taste. (I used maple syrup. You may want to add in a little more than you would usually use. The dish loses some sweetness when it’s cold.)
  1. Mix together everything but the chia seeds until well incorporated. Add chia seeds and stir until well mixed.
  2. Cover and let sit in the fridge at least 15 minutes to overnight. (This will also keep for a few days so you can make a few for breakfasts/snacks for the week.)

For the Quinoa

Purchase pre-cooked quinoa or cook some quinoa according to package directions. (At the beginning of the week I cook up a batch of quinoa to use in different dishes through the week so I just use some of that for this dish. If cooking specifically for this dish, cook ahead so it will be chilled.)

For the Peanut Butter Sauce

  • Peanut butter
  • Honey, to taste
  • Milk, enough to thin to desired consistency
  1. Mix peanut butter and honey together. Stir in milk bit by bit until mixture is desired, saucy consistency.

For the parfait:

Layer ingredients starting with the mocha chia pudding. Then the quinoa. Top with peanut butter honey sauce. Depending upon dish and amounts of food made, continue layering until done.

Enjoy!

Moving In Together? 3 Tips to Make it Easier.

Moving In Together? 3 Tips to Make it Easier | Organizing with a Side of Fabulous BlogThe other day I received an email from someone who was about to move in with her significant other. She asked if I’d written any blog posts about this because she wanted to do so in an organized fashion. As I thought through past posts, I realized I hadn’t. I’ve written about moving and I’ve written about living with someone, but never moving in with someone.

So guess what today’s topic is???

How to move in with someone in an organized way!

Overall, the steps aren’t much different than if you were just moving to another location. However, once in the new home there is always the doubled up items to contend with so that definitely needs to be addressed. Note: these tips will work whether you’re moving into a roommate or romantic situation.

1.) You and the person you will be living with need to set the goal for the new home.

How do you want this space to look? How do you want to feel in the new space? What is each other’s clutter threshold so that you can come to an agreement on the level that you’ll both be comfortable with.

When I was in undergrad, I moved into a 4 bedroom, 2 bath home with 3 other ladies. We each had our own bedroom, paired off for the shared bathrooms, and then had the living room, dining room, and kitchen as our common areas. When moving in the 4 of us agreed that the common areas would be regularly picked up. Then each pair of us that shared a bathroom decided how we wanted to keep it. The lady I shared my bathroom with was also extremely tidy so our bathroom was very neat. The ladies that shared the other bathroom were less tidy, so their bathroom was less neat. Then in our personal bedrooms we could do whatever the hell we wanted. The four of us had VERY different clutter thresholds. Setting these goals up front when we first moved in prevented what I’m sure would have been many fights.

Get together with your person(s) and decide how you want your new space to look and feel. This is important because it sets the stage for the next (and subsequent) steps.

2.) When packing, only keep what fits into the goal for the new home.

Packing and moving is a pain in the ass. Help relieve a little bit of this by only taking what you need, use, love, and fits in with the goals for the new space. Once upon a time I was asked if it’s better to weed out before or after a move. Before is ALWAYS the answer. If you don’t love something, then there’s no need to bring that item with you. If you’re unsure, then it’s probably a “no” because maybes suck. 

3.) Once moved in, go through the regular moving-in and organizing process with your new house-mate.

This means:

  • Pick an area and only work one area/room at a time until it’s finished. I recommend starting in the kitchen. It’s one of the easiest rooms to organize and this is an area where you’ll probably have many duplicates. Once the kitchen is finished, move on to the next area, then the next. Remember, don’t move on to a new location until the chosen location is finished.
  • Sort like with like. Here’s where you’ll see exactly what duplicates you have. Chose which one you like the best and let the other go (by donation, trash, or sell.) If this is a roommate situation then you may not want to dump all the duplicates. If you’re going to hold on to a duplicate, make sure that it’s in good use and something you love. Then get creative with storage to make it all work. If this is a romantic situation, let go of unnecessary duplicates. Trust that the relationship is going to work, otherwise why the hell are you moving in together? If it ends up not working out, you may want a fresh slate and have bought new anyway. Operate in the now.
  • Think about how you and your new living partner want to operate in the space. Organize items accordingly. As always, the more often an item is used, the more easy access it should be. Also remember you have to put everything back so make that easy too. The less often you use something, the more tucked away it can be.

Side note on storage units: When moving in with a significant other, the lure of tossing everything into a storage unit can be very strong. In this moment, it feels easier and the “smarter” decision to make. However, most likely you will end up in one of two situations: the relationship works out over the long run and you have to make the decisions and deal with the things to clear out the unit. OR…the relationship doesn’t work out and now you’re cleaning out a storage unit while also dealing with all the emotional jumble of the failed relationship. In both situations you’ve spent a lot of money on a storage unit and no matter what you’ll still have to make decisions on the things. Suck it up, Buttercup, and do it now.

Moving can be very stressful. However, moving in with someone new – whether friendly or romantic – can be very exciting. Remember to focus on how you want the new space to feel in this new chapter of your life. If the items you have don’t fit in, leave them behind in that last chapter.

Have you recently moved in with someone? What helped you the most?

Frustrated, overwhelmed and don’t know where to start? Or maybe you keep starting over and over again without finishing? Buy “Fabulous Foothold to Organization: A guide for getting started when you don’t know where to start” today

Want more personalized help from me directly? I have several options to help you know matter where you live and no matter what your budget. Email me at info@melindamassie.com for more information. 

In the News: March 2015

In this month’s edition of In the News:

Binder clips for freezer organization - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous blog

Hang Bags in the Freezer with Binder Clips – Lifehacker
Gianormous thank yous to Lifehacker for sharing this tip!! Due to this article, I had multiple record-setting days on the blog. Not bad for something I came up with randomly out of frustration. That I’m a professional organizer so can share it and use it to help others is a bonus.

Side note to the bitchy commenters: it’s not for everyone or all freezers. No single tip is. If it works for you, fabulous. If not, there’s always another way.

Click here for the original tip and post. 

“Fabulous Foothold to Organization” is released!

Fabulous Foothold to Organization Get Started GuideI’m SOOOOOOOOO excited to announce that “Fabulous Foothold to Organization: A guide to get started when you don’t know where to start.” is here! Over my years as a professional organizer the sentence I hear most often is “I don’t know where to start.” This guide outlines the process I use with my clients to give them the push they need to get them going and clutter-free for the long-term. One reader has said that this is like having me in her home any time she needs a reminder, some direction, or just a little motivation and encouragement.

Inside you’ll find:

  • the ground rules for what to keep vs. let go of
  • common organizing rules that are OK to break
  • common pitfalls to avoid
  • the process I use with my clients to work through any amount of clutter: from mildly messy to hoarder
  • tips to successfully maintain your hard work
  • and more!

If you’re overwhelmed, frustrated, and don’t know where to start, consider this guide like your clutter sherpa – giving you the information you need to get you started and on the way to your goals.

Ready to get started? Click here to buy “Fabulous Foothold to Organization” today!

Break for Clarity

Fabulous Foothold to Organization - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous BlogI recently did a series on productivity and different ways to help create more. (Posts can be found here, here, here, and here.) Another key ingredient is singular focus. While we may be able to multi-task, we cannot multi-focus. Our brains simply won’t allow it.

When you have something important to focus on, the quickest and best way to get it done it to remove distractions and everything not completely essential and focus specifically on what needs to be done. In a recent planning session, the other participants and I discussed how the best way to get things done in our businesses was to pick only 1-3 goals and focus on those things until they were done. Then pick the next goal and focus to achieve it. And the next. And the next.

So with that, I’m taking a break from the blog for a little bit. I’m currently working on putting together a get-started organizing guide called “Fabulous Foothold to Organization.” With everyone I talk to and work with, they all have one thing in common: a hard time getting started. Often with many of my clients I never see the fully finished organization because once I give them the direction, motivation, confidence, and push to get going, they’re off to the races on their own. This guide will be all of that in written form.

I’m SO excited to get it done and out.

And to do that efficiently, I need to not write here as well.

I aim to have this done in about a month and once it is, I’ll be here with all new adventures, advice, and makeovers.

In the meantime, there is TONS of information throughout this blog. Just use the search function or newly updated category list to the right. Also to the right you may sign up to follow this blog and be one of the first to hear about when the guide is released.

I am still taking clients. I have room for a couple of in-person, a couple of virtual, and plenty of Hot-Mess Motivation clients. So if you want in, contact me here.

And I’ll see you again when “Fabulous Foothold to Organization” is finished!

UPDATE: “Fabulous Foothold to Organization” is published! You can learn more and purchase it here.