Happy Friday! Today I have an interview to share that I did with organizing guru, Jane Stoller, author of
“Organizing for Your Lifestyle”.
The title of her book caught my attention because it states Organizing for YOUR lifestyle (not Bob, Sue’s, or your best friend’s lifestyle). I liked that the title acknowledged that we all have different needs when it comes organizing our homes because we all have different lifestyles.
I think that organization can be frustrating at times because we try organization systems that work for other people but fail for us. After this kind of repeated failure it is easy to have negative thoughts about ourselves and/or about organization in general.
Over the years I have learned that an organized home is not created by a one size fits all method. It truly takes thoughtful pondering of your family’s needs, personalities, activities, and time capabilities. Only then can you develop organizing systems that work for YOUR life.
Systems are steps or actions that you set up to get and keep a specific place in your home organized. For example you may have a system for keeping your personal closet organized by having specific places to keep things in your closet like shoes go on the shoe shelves, sweaters have a place, short sleeves and long sleeves are hung up separately.
You may even have them organized by color so that if you are feeling in a pink mood that day it’s easy to see all the available pink shirts. Part of your system may include that everytime you take your clothes off you either put them back in your closet in the designated spot or in a dirty clothes bin.
Once you come up with a system test it out for a week or two and see if the system is effective for keeping the space organized!
Let’s say even though you have this system in place you are still finding that your clothes aren’t getting hung back up. It’s important to remember that when systems fail it’s not a indication that something is wrong with you!
Instead it is an opportunity to dive in deeper to your specific needs. For example you can ask yourself why is it difficult (what are the stumbling blocks) for me to hang my clothes back up. Do I not have enough hangers and it’s tedious to find a hanger (buying more hangers will fix the system)?
Or is that I can’t find the right outfit in the morning and am rushed so leave the clothes I didn’t select on the floor and feel too tired at night to hang them back up (picking your outfit out the night before would fix this system)?
The biggest roadblock to obtaining an organized home is not failure to keep our home organized…it’s what we say to ourselves about the failure. When we take the failure personally (saying I’m lazy, I’m a slob, I can’t do it) we miss the opportunity to ask the important questions that will help you figure out what tweaks in the system are needed to find success.
Finding organizational systems for your spaces that work for you and your family may be trial and error but more importantly it is a matter of asking yourself questions (without judgement) and being willing to make tweaks to your systems!
As I revealed in my first post about organization (HERE) I am not naturally an organized person. It is something I’ve learned over time and continue to learn because I am motivated by the feelings of peace and confidence that come when my surroundings are organized.
When I find certain areas in my home becoming unorganized I start re-examining the current system for that area, ask questions, and tweak the system.
I truly believe our homes can be a place that serves and supports us in our lives and that as we invest a little time upfront to create and tweak our systems that we will feel greater satisfaction and joy in our homes and our lives.
So a few posts back I asked if any of you had questions for Jane, the organizing guru. A couple of you chimed in and then I had some questions of my own.
Below is the interview with Jane Stoller.
1. Question From Reader: I have a spot in my kitchen I call the catch-all counter. It is a dumping
ground for everyone in the house, myself included. I like clear counters and I feel like it’s
a constant battle that I’m losing for this space. Do you have any ideas that would
prevent this constant build up of clutter?
Jane: I feel like this is a universal problem especially with kids in the house. One quick
solution could be to get some plastic bins for on the counter and either labels them with
contents such as (keys, mail, coins) or label them for each person in the house. Ikea
has some great white plastic bins which could be an example.
2. Question From Reader: We have so many different types of shoes –hiking shoes, walking shoes,
biking shoes, running shoes, gardening shoes, indoor shoes. And then there are all the
different types of socks that go with them. We have a shoe rack and a basket by the
front door but even so things are always out of control. Do you have any suggestions?
Jane: Another great question as especially today with so many different activities that all
require different shoes and socks! One suggestion I like is a shoe cabinet that I use for
my outdoor activity shoes and I keep their matching socks in a box beside or on top of
the shoe cabinet. Ikea also happens to have a solution that I use however any shoe
cabinet would work. What I like about cabinets are they hide shoes so often if the
shoes are dirty and no time to clean they can be put away until them. Plus cabinets that
are metal or plastic can also easily be wiped down opposed to wooden shoe racks. If
each family member had their own it would be easy to keep track of their activity shoes.
I like to keep my dress shoes stored in their boxes or shoe boxes in my closet as I
usually don’t need as fast access to these and they are easier to keep clean.
Here is one with 4 compartments!
3. Tamara: We have a part of our basement that is unfinished and collects a lot of
“stuff” that isn’t currently needed but I hold onto just in case it may be needed in the
future. How do I know when and what to part with?
Jane: If I had the answer of how to know exactly when and what to part with life organizing
would be a breeze. However, that is the most challenging question as you really need to
think about your lifestyle and if the items fit into your lifestyle and if they ever will? I also
try to think if someone else could use it as often this makes it easier to part with.
An idea for your basement could be to get large bins and categorize the items and put a
date on it. If a year later nothing has been used then it might be time to seriously
evaluate the items. Also keeping a large bin labeled “Donate” always helps me to
4. Tamara: What is your favorite system for dealing with mail and papers that come
into the house?
Jane: I try to go paperless as much as possible and keep folders on my computer instead.
However for the stragglers I get in the mail I first try to deal with them immediately I
have hanging files by my door labeled (deal, send, discard). It may not be the best solution
but it works for the amount of mail I get.
5. Tamara: I know organization helps a home stay tidier and more attractive but what
are the other benefits?
Jane: In the first chapter of my book, “Organizing for Your Lifestyle” I devote an entire first
chapter to the science behind organizing and the benefits. Aside from the points you
mentioned above many other benefits can include being healthier, staying on a budget,
increasing the value of your home, lowering your stress and much more. I credit all my
life improvements to being organized as I try to create a system that works for my
lifestyle so I don’t have to think about organizing all the time but so that it is a natural
part of my lifestyle
I appreciate Jane sharing her thoughts and ideas with us! If you are interested you can buy her book “Organizing for Your Lifestyle”, HERE (affiliate link).
I’ve been working hard on our TV room re-fresh this week and hope I’ll be able to share it with you soon! Also I was able to attend the completed BIA Parade of Homes yesterday.
It was fun to see the homes all decorated. If you want to check them out HERE is a link to photos of this year’s Parade of Homes (I’m not sure who took the photos).
I hope you have a great weekend and as always thanks for reading!!