Sometimes people ask me what my “typical” client is. This question always makes me smile because there is no such thing. My youngest client is 25 and my oldest client is 80. My clients have been single, married and divorced. Some have had big families like mine and some have had no kids. They have been different religions and races. What they have had in common, however, is that they all feel a bit nervous when I come to their house for the first time. I’m not sure why that is, but based on the fact that they all want assurance that their home isn’t the biggest mess I’ve ever seen; I think they just want to know that they are “normal.”
I get it as we all have different gifts and strengths. I’ve been fired exactly once in my life and it was when I tried to clean houses. I hated it, was horrible at it, and lasted all of two weeks. But I love to organize and think I have a knack for it.
Anyway, you might not be able to relate to all these organizing goals, but I bet at least one will resonate with you. Here are five I think are noteworthy.
1. You want to organize a garage enough to get a car (or second car) into it. It stinks to have to scrape ice and snow off your car when you have a garage that’s stuffed full of…well, stuff! I think a subtler reason people want to organize their garage is that it’s the entry point into their house and in a way kind of sets the tone for the rest of the home. If the garage is a disaster, it kind of makes it hard to feel good about your other spaces.
2. There is a room in the home that you want to use for some reason that it can’t be used for right now. Sometimes it’s an extra room that has been the dumping ground and you want it as a craft room or “man cave” and sometimes it’s really a dining room but is so full that it can’t be used for that and you want to reclaim it for its original purpose.
3. Another goal I often see is to be able to find things more easily. This means we declutter in every room. My general rule is that if you can’t find something in five minutes you probably have clutter issues. I’ve seen the statistics on this and they are mindboggling but people spend, on average, 3,680 hours or 153 days searching for stuff over their lifetimes. (Daily Mail, March 20, 2012)
4. This is a more recent phenomenon but some of you actually adhere to the minimalist movement and are trying to live with less. Or, maybe you aren’t really thinking of it as a “minimalist” thing but are downsizing for whatever reason. We always think of baby boomers and elderly people as the ones downsizing, but sometimes it’s a deliberate decision to live with less. You may have heard of the method where you get rid of one thing on day 1, two on day 2, and keep doing this for 30 days. While I’ve never met anyone who has actually done this, the idea kind of fascinates me. If you do this, at the end of 30 days, you will have lightened your load by 465 items. Amazing, huh?
5. A fifth reason to organize is if you have a reason to sell or donate certain items in your home. If a child goes to college or gets married, this is a great time to get rid of furniture, clothing or other items that are no longer needed. Sometimes people want to get rid of things but are either uncertain of how to go about it or seem to need permission to let it go.
Once, about a decade ago, our family wanted to go to Florida for spring break but didn’t have the money. What we did have, between the eight of us, was a ton of stuff we didn’t need and no longer used. So we took this challenge seriously and over two months’ time made enough money selling items on Ebay and Craigslist to get to Florida. Sometimes you just need to dangle the right carrot! My boys even pared down their video game collection to make that vacation happen! It’s amazing what you can do when motivated.
It doesn’t matter what your goal is. What matters is that you make a plan and stick to it. Keep it simple and find someone to hold you accountable.