Before we even closed on our home, I knew we would be putting elfa from The Container Store in at least 3 closets including the entry one. Since I have designed my fair share of elfa closet systems, with the support and guidance of their amazing designers, I felt comfortable beginning the journey on my own. With one of their sales on the horizon I got right on it.
After taking solid measurements and confirming them 5 times (lol), I hopped onto The Container Store’s Custom Closet design center to start designing our entry closet system. This is a very handy tool to get an idea of how the layout will look, feel, and function, and I highly recommend going into a store, if possible, or calling their design center to have one of their experts look things over before making any purchases.
Once I felt good about the design I headed into the store to finalize with an elfa designer. As you can see from the middle picture below, the elfa system made a tremendous difference in the functionality of the space. You will also notice that all of the open shelves became a bit of a dumping ground, mostly because of the remodeling we had been doing.
As you see in the third picture, fun and right-fit containers not only make the space pop, but also function better. Making time to measure the shelves for the containers also gave me the time to move all the items that don’t belong in there. Whew, what a difference!
Containers are one of those subjects where we can experience a wild array of emotion about… from excitement to overwhelm, from adoration to contention. If you aren’t sure where to start, please hop over to The Clear & Simple Steps page for guidance. Purchasing containers comes after most of the other steps of the organizing process.
Our Top Ten Tips, Tools, & Truths for a Happy Spring.
Bring the sweet energy of spring into your space!
Ritual is a great way to anchor your intentions. It helps you to massage and soften and release tough holding patterns and bring to conscious reality the longs of your heart. Stephanie Bennett Vogt
Check out The One Minute Clear Exercise from Stephanie Bennet Vogt. This unbelievably simple, yet profound practice of only one minute a day for seven days will shift your space and your being. Click here for the video and feel spring energy move into your own body.
Clear & Simple’s Tips on ritual…
1. Invite fresh, clean energy into your space.
On a warm, sunny day, open up your windows and doors, turn on some music and let the freshness of spring flow through your space. This helps move the stagnant winter energy to rejuvenate all the moving molecules. Then let yourself enjoy the new energy and what you are inspired to do throughout the day.
2. Dig in the dirt – or simply plant one pot.
Ahh, the yummy feeling of dirt in your hands – dry, rough, wet, packed, smooth – so many sensations just waiting for you. Spring is the time to let your inner child go outside, get your hands dirty and connect with the earth. For those of you that love gardening, you know how healing this time is. Give yourself permission to put earth time first and love every minute.
If gardening isn’t really your thing or you don’t have the time, just pick out one fabulous pot, choose a flower arrangement and plop it in. Place it on your porch, where you can enjoy the beauty every day when you arrive home.
Spring is invigorating!
New life and fresh ideas abound. The urge to create has been building all winter long. Sadly, it can also be overwhelming because of all the fun choices. Just imagine taking a trip down to the local gardens and gazing at the abundance of flowers. Where do you start?
3. Keep it simple by choosing one project for the season.
It can be overwhelming to think about all the clutter clearing and organizing projects in your home, which can block you from ever starting. So begin with choosing just one project for each season and over time your space will be transformed. Also, each season has it’s own feel.
Spring is the perfect time to transform your closet, garage or craft area. Remember to write a vision of what you want to create before you dive in (the MAP IT Step).
4. Get inspired and bring in new life with bright colors.
How often have you caught your breath at the sight of a flowerbed in full bloom? Just like the blossoming flowers, bright containers make us happy. Our brain and bodies react to color first. So make your space or project one you will love to spend time in with bright, fun colors!
To find containers for all areas of your home in gorgeous colors, we love & recommend The Container Store!!
Harness the creative spring energy!
You know how contagious spring energy can be. It hits your body and you feel compelled to start clearing your space, go buy cool containers and somehow bring your space to life. You want to mirror what is happening outside and bring it inside. We believe that each season has it’s own energy and tapping into that makes organizing easier.
5. You get to choose what stays and what goes!
This is your space, this is your life, this is your choice, and your responsibility. There is a gift if you claim your personal power and make your space what you really want. Start with one room and ask – how do you want it to look, feel and function? Take out everything that doesn’t align with YOU! Then have fun making changes like adding color, or a new plant, a sweet bookshelf, or soft rug. Create a room that you love being in!
6. Refresh Your Clothes Closet
Spring is the best season for clearing out the clothes closet. Here are two personal tips for this personal area that gets a lot of use. First, we suggest getting real by trying everything on your body and asking, “Is this me?” Be prepared to laugh and cry. Make it a party and do this with a friend. You will actually be able to release the clothes much easier than if you just look at them on the hanger.
Second, choose hanger heaven rather than hanger hell by simply getting the same color and material of hanger. This is the easiest and cheapest closet transformation. Choose one color and get the different types you need in that color. The body and brain go to color first. You will be amazed at the difference.
Get The Steps to make spring organizing easier!
Spring is often a time when the urge to organize hits us! It’s vital to your success to know where to start, what to do and how to keep it up! What is you were given a simple step-by-step method that makes the organizing easy. Then you could choose a small project, like your junk drawer, or tackle a large project such as your garage.
8. Capture the incoming paper in one place and container.
The paper comes at us so fast it is impossible to keep up with it. It can take over your kitchen counter, dining room table, desk or any horizontal surface. You can start by freeing your kitchen counter of the paper piles. Get one large container to hold the incoming. It can be a covered basket or vertical wall pocket. Place all the incoming paper here and then sort once a week into piles for read, action, file and toss.
We created a 5 step system to simplify all of your interactions with paper, technology & information. Remember a SYSTEM – Saves You Stress, Time, Energy & Money! Let us walk you through iRAFT, go to www.clearsimple.com/iraft.
Ways to make letting go easier.
“Clutter is delayed decisions and holding onto the past.” Marla Dee
We know it can be fun to clear the clutter from your clothes closet or garage. It can also be overwhelming when faced with all the decisions. It can be helpful to do this step with a trusted friend. Here are a couple of tips that will support you in letting go.
9. Choose a donation agency that aligns with your joy and beliefs.
Giving to charities that support work you care about makes the toss step easier & more meaningful. Working with our clients for years has shown us this is true. Get online and look for a charity that speaks to you. If you can find one that will pick up the stuff, even better.
10. Let go of one habit that is keeping you stuck.
Spring is a time of renewal, of light, of growth. Releasing even one old habit and replacing it with something new can bring energy and new growth. Maybe this spring is the time to start going to bed at the same time every night. Or how about a simple 10 minute meditation each morning.
Cool Tools for Spring Organizing!
Get the Cool Tools to make the job easier. – Everyone knows that having the right tools is essential for getting the job done. As professional organizers, we want to share our favorites that every home (and most offices need)
30 banker’s boxes are the minimum for a home. We use them to sort, contain and move the piles, stage the stuff during large projects, and free our clients from the visual distraction of all the stuff in messy piles.
A labeler is essential. Having your containers and shelves labeled not only makes it easy to find what you need but mostly makes it easier to put things back where they belong. We recommend the Brother PTouch.
The time timer is a brilliant tool that allows us to stay focused and “touch” time. This amazing tool comes in many sizes, can be used by all ages and has hundreds of uses. Go here to check it out
Your Guides, Marla Dee & Kate Fehr.
We are passionate about teaching people The Clear & Simple Way to clear clutter and get organized at last.
*Please note that we recommend implementing this system and starting in present time. Once you are familiar with it and have every step in place, then go to the piles, filing drawers, etc. to clear out and clean up. Paper is its own beast and is very overwhelming. If you desire the help of an organizer, please contact us.
iRAFT begins with INCOMING:
As we mentioned above, the information is coming from many places; the mail box is only one. Think about how much easier it is to start into your email because it is in your INBOX. So for the paper, choose a container that will hold a week’s worth of incoming paper and put everything there! This includes mail, flyers, notes, etc… You also need a place for thoughts, conversations and such to land. You might use an app on your smart phone, Evernote or a small spiral notebook.
Then once a week (or more often if needed) you will take all the incoming and sort it into four piles. You simply ask do I need to Read, take an Action, File or Toss. Then take the paper (or move the emails) into the each container or folder.
Choose a cool container for your reading that is staying at your desk, your reading chair and for on-the-go.
Every home and office needs an action container for those papers that need your attention such as bills to pay, errands to run and items to discuss with someone else. We suggest making your container vertical so that it is easy to find what you need and leave the other items organized. It is also nice to have it portable so it can move around your space.
We often ask our clients to describe how they feel about FILING. We hear words like yuck, overwhelming, impossible, always behind, drawers are full. And there is a constant theme of not know what to keep or for how long. So start with setting up a “to file” container and then schedule time once a week or once a month to file, depending on your volume. If you really hate filing then get someone else to do it.
By sorting once a week into RAFT, your tossing of the paper is now easy. Have fun noticing how much of that paper pain is really toss papers. Of course you can still throw away junk mail and such before it even lands in your space.
To summarize the SYSTEM:
Daily – plop all the incoming paper and information into the container.
Weekly – take 5 minutes to sort into 4 piles – Read, Action, File, Toss. Then take each pile to it’s proper container.
Weekly – set your TimeTimer for 30 minutes and do the action papers that need to get done that week.
Monthly – take your To File pile and file into your FreedomFiler system.
Here are our top ten tips to make letting go easier:
Let go only when you are ready. To force the TOSS step is abusive whether we are doing it to ourselves or to someone else. If you let go of even 5% of your things you will free space for the new to come in. From Marla – I learned this from my meditation teacher Mary Nickel, of Time Out Associates, who helped me see that I couldn’t clear a lifetime’s worth of buildup in my body in a 2-hour session or even in 3 months. I have been meditating for 21 years and I still need a clean out every day.
Let your vision support you. Ask the question, “Does this support my current vision?” If not, be willing to let it go. It is powerful to print your vision and put it on a wall so you can see it often!
Find an Agency you care about supporting. Let go of the idea that you have to figure out where everything is going. Keep it simple and find one agency that is meaningful to you and donate your things to them. If you have unique, valuable items, trust that someone is willing to help you.
Believe in win-win.Choose Trust over Fear. Look to the gift that you are passing on to others who will love what you no longer need or want. One of our favorite stories is about a client who kept getting stuck on this step because all of her items were so valuable. They represented thousands of dollars of her time, energy and money. But the stuff was paralyzing her. Finally, the day came when she had to let go. She called in sick, sat still, went deep inside, and called out for inspiration. Within minutes, she jumped up and started hauling all the stuff outside to the front yard. She took it all out along with a big sign that said FREE. Then she sat in her living room all day and spied on the people finding treasures. She let herself witness their joy and delight. It set her free. It was a beautiful way to honor the value of what she was letting go. She was then able to start a meaningful new chapter of her life.
Trust your body to tell you. A simple exercise is to hold the object, close your eyes, take a deep breath and ask for a Yes or No. If your answer is yes, you will feel your body lift and expand. You will feel a YES. If your answer is NO, your body will sink or get heavy or tired. This tells you that the object is draining your life force. It is time to let it go. This works well with clutter clearing tasks also.
One box, one pile, or one type of item at a time. This will support you in staying present and keep you free of distraction. Keep the other piles hidden in covered banker’s boxes.
Ask the question “Does this serve me in the current chapter of my life?” Remember all of our clutter tells a story. Is this clutter from a past chapter that you are ready to close so you can get on with the new?
Always do the TOSS step when you are fresh. Because this step takes so much energy, it is important to give yourself a chance of success by having as much energy as possible.
Have a temporary staging area. If you can’t let it go and don’t want to keep it, give yourself permission to have a temporary staging box or area. Then choose how long. We suggest no longer than 3 months.
Lastly, get help if you need it. We have other professional organizers come into our homes seasonally and support us in letting go of what builds up. Because it is our own stuff, it is very challenging for us. If you would like support from a professional organizer, check out NAPO and UPO.
Remember all choices boil down to FEAR or TRUST! You can trust to let go of what no longer supports you and that you will have what you need when you need it.
We want you to live free of clutter and replace it with meaning.
Marla, Kate & Team