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Blog: Organize This!
Unclutter to Uncomplicate: Organizing in the Dark!

Hello Organizing Fans, Welcome to 'Organize This!' I'm your blogger, Vali Heist, professional organizer for homeowners and businesses.
My latest rumination about CRAP (Clutter that Robs Anyone of Pleasure) occurred when I was walking up to my porch when it was dark, and I was feeling for my keys to open the door. I only have a few keys on my keychain, so it was easy to find the right key. But what if I had a jumble of keys on my keychain? How much longer would it have taken me to find the right key? If I lived in a dangerous part of town, I might have even put myself in jeopardy.
I walked into my dark house to turn on some lights and there was a clear path. But, what if there was stuff everywhere? I could have tripped! And it occurred to me, if I didn't turn lights on, how easy would it be to get around in my home and find what I need? Would I still be able to function in my home? I've been keeping the lights off a lot more in my home since the electric is going up at an alarming rate and will continue to do so. So, I started to wonder, how easy are our houses to maneuver in, navigate through, and find things…even in the dark?
Navigating your home should be easy, not complicated. You shouldn't have to unearth your stuff, move stuff aside, and dig through a lot of CRAP to get to what you need... even in the dark!
Simplifying my home for me and my family, and therefore simplifying my life, is always a top priority for me. I want my home to be organized for a lot of different reasons, but basically I unclutter to uncomplicate my life. I want my home to be predictable so I can be spontaneous if I want to and be able to deal with the unexpected when it happens.
However, the first step to organizing is to unclutter. Unclutter with reckless abandon! Have respect for yourself and your time by uncluttering and maintaining that organization. Uncluttering and organizing means finding a "home" for everything, after all, you deserve a calm environment when you come home.
Second, stop buying needlessly and compulsively. When you go shopping, ask yourself: Will I use this? Will I wear this? Can I replace something else with this new item? Do I want this more than I want a new car (or new kitchen, or vacation…)?
Third, use the seasons to unclutter:
--Fall-fall 'clean-up' time
--Winter-donate items before Dec. 31 for tax purposes
--Spring-spring cleaning!
--Summer-outside uncluttering: garage & garden shed
Finally, don't think of uncluttering as getting rid of stuff, think of it as
--I know who I am,
--I know what I like, and
--I know what I want...and it's not all this CRAP!
Organizing can bring beauty and a sense of calm to your home. Organizing doesn't have to be boring or sterile! Uncluttering allows you to surround yourself with the things you love, not with clutter; surround yourself with things that make you smile, not with things that make you feel claustrophobic.
So, for the practical tips part of this blog, I started going through my home and figuring out how hard it would be to navigate my home in the dark. I know, it sounds weird, but hang in there with me. I started in the bedroom because that's where we start our day. Remember: The bedroom should be place of calm not a dumping ground.
--Night stand-put only what you need on top: tissues, pen and tablet, Chap Stick, earplugs (my husband snores), reading glasses, clock radio, water glass and small pitcher. Put things in pretty containers so when you reach over in the middle of the night, in the dark, you can find what you need.
--Dresser top-decorate and organize by using beautiful things to hold your jewelry, hair accessories, watches, bracelets, etc. I use redware pieces to hold my things.
--Do you wear all the jewelry you have? Do you have to wade through your jewelry to find the piece you want? Narrow it down to a manageable amount by handing some down to relatives, give as gifts, or sell your old gold jewelry!
--I have all my jewelry in one nice jewelry box. It's not too big to be overwhelming and not too small that it doesn't hold a lot of stuff.
--Fine jewelry is always in style, wear it often and not just in the evening.
--Costume jewelry-goes in and out of style and styles change so I go through and purge every year so I don't have too much to choose from.
--Earrings-I have lots of earrings so I don't want to fuss and dig to find the pair I want. I could probably find my earrings in the dark, because I moved the earrings I wear most often to a certain area of my jewelry box and now they are easier to find.
--Now, obviously I don't pick my clothing out in the dark, but I have my closet organized so I can quickly pick out pants, skirts, dresses, blazers, suits, long sleeve and short sleeve shirts.
--Categorize your clothing so you can more quickly put an outfit together in the morning, if you don't do it the night before.
--When my son was a baby and I worked full-time, I had a week's worth of clothing ready to wear on Sunday night, now that's anal retentive!
--Just a tip: When you get dressed in the morning, pick one thing you haven't worn in a while: a pair of pants, a blazer or a great necklace, and build an outfit around it. That way, you'll wear more of what you have.
The next place to go through is the bathroom because that's where we get ready in the morning and I try to save as much time as possible.
--When it comes to shampoos, conditioners, and body wash, I only have one of each in my shower. I store the rest in the closet. You should be able to identify your shampoo, conditioner and body wash without opening your eyes. I'm not a morning person so I do shower in the dark a lot!
--If you have bottles of stuff that you don't like or don't use, get rid of it! Donate it to a shelter. If it takes you longer than a second to find your shampoo, you have too much stuff in your shower stall.
--Donate little bottles from hotels to emergency shelters or use them up.
--Okay, I do open my eyes to put on make-up, but I keep it simple.
--Keep on the counter only those things you use every day.
--Separate the blush from the eye shadow from the mascara from the foundation. If they are in one container, you'll have to dig too much.
--Use pretty containers or trays to keep order.
--Throw out old make-up that is 2 years or older (that's called CRAP).
I'll go through the rest of the house with you in my next blog and see if I can still navigate my home…in the dark, but meanwhile, as you go through each room in your house, say to yourself, "Is my house simplified enough that I could find what I need in the dark?" If it isn't, consider simplifying, consider downsizing a few items so you could, almost, navigate your home in the dark. Make your life easier, because if you won't who will?
Let's close today with a quote from Anne Morrow Lindbergh, aviator and author, "Today more of us in America than anywhere else in the world have the luxury of choice between simplicity and complication of life. And for the most part, we, who could choose simplicity, choose complication." Don't choose complication, don't choose CRAP, choose yourself, your precious time and your precious loved ones. Unclutter to uncomplicate!!
Thank you for reading 'Organize This'! Your comments and suggestions are appreciated. Have a great day!

posted on: 7/24/2010 2:30:00 PM by Vali Heist
category: General Organizing Tips

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Organize This!

by Vali Heist

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About Vali:

Vali Heist is a Professional Organizer, the owner of The Clutter Crew for homeowners, and a Certified GO System Trainer for businesses. She also writes a monthly column for the Reading Eagle called 'Ask the Organizer' and has a radio program called 'Organize This!' on BoomerGenerationRadio.com. Vali's bachelor's degree is in Business Administration from Shippensburg University and her Master's Degree is in Higher Education from Kutztown University. Vali has an extensive background of 24 years in Higher Education including training, administration, project management, writing, and editorial production. Her passion has always been organization and how it relates to the simplification of work and personal life in order to enjoy both to the fullest. Her ultimate goal is to continue finding simple, easy to implement ideas that work in the real world and pass them on to her clients.

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