cluttered basement

Curious about hoarding?

If you wonder if you or a loved one might be what they call a "hoarder," an excellent way to dig deeper is to check out the Online Hoarding Conference. Presented by the International OCD Foundation, this year's online conference…

black magnifying glass over the words frequently asked questions FAQs

FAQs: Why you should never skip the FAQ page

When you're looking for a professional organizer, don't skip their FAQs page. It's a quick and easy way to see if this organizer's The One. Meta FAQ: How do I find the right organizer for me? One person's recommend-to-everyone professional…

Customized organizing for the way things really are saves you time and energy

Organizing for the way you actually live saves tons of time and exasperation. A furry example. It started when he was about eight. "He's a big dog, who knows how long he really has?" my husband said, tucking Baxter's doggy…

man in pink dress shirt

Use your complaints to get organized. Wishes can come true!

Thinking ahead is at the heart of organizing and it's a skill that can be developed and enhanced no matter how scatter-brained you naturally are. You've been waiting all day for a callback from your doctor/the IRS/the person who said…

expression of pain during a migraine

Migraines suck and you can get through them. Three tips to ease your burden.

Knowing I won't be able to do the dog walk tomorrow, I text my friend: "Massive mirage will gave to like tomorrow." Something feels off about that but I'm too far gone to make out the letters on my phone.…

woman in brown wedding gown and winter landscape background

Pandemic Countdown Week 8: Frilly Frocks

This week's challenge is to take a ruthless look at the frilly frocks and smart sailor suits in your kids' closets. They're so adorable and your kids look darling in them but how many are enough? Before you have kids,…

yellow gloves for washing dishes with

Pandemic Countdown Week 7: Lonely Gloves:

Whether you don't have a dishwasher, your dishwasher is broken or you just enjoy the feeling of hot soapy water and the satisfaction of getting the dishes done quickly, gloves are a must if you want to avoid chapped hands.…

battered suit jacket that has been used for years

Tell Me Your “Worn Stories”

I call them memory clothes - bits and pieces of clothing that bring up such intense memories that seeing them takes you back in time. Emily Spivack, author of Worn Stories, calls them 'sartorial memoirs'. If you've ever kept a…

stuffed toys arranged in a diorama

What Is Clutter?

Clutter's a slippery concept, because there's no generic checklist, no boxes to tick. You can't print out a list of things to declutter and know if you get rid of them, your home will be clutter free. You and you…

set of skin care products in contemporary bathroom

Pandemic Countdown Week 8: Bathroom Decluttering

Decluttering the Bathroom Nothing screams "declutter me!" like the counter in your bathroom. Lotions and potions jostle for your attention, all hoping today's the day you reach for them. Like the long line of hopefuls winding out from a casting…

strappy summer shoes

Pandemic Countdown Week 7: All The Shoes

This week's challenge is to try on all your shoes and see what still fits. The pandemic has done a number on our tolerance for shoes that pinch or blister. If no one can see what you've got on your…

anonymous person with binoculars looking through stacked books

Three Games to Help You Declutter Books

read this post on Medium When - not if - you declutter your books, taking charge of the process will make it easier. Kindle readers can skip this post - although I see you, digital clutter - but for most…

pens, tape, rubber bands, hole punch reinforcements tangled in messy desk drawer

Organized Enough

There are no organizing police, but you'd be surprised how many of my clients worry there might be. Perhaps you too feel you aren't organized enough, that you're not doing it right. Often, that's because you grew up in a…

What’s Your Clutter Story?

If you grew up in a messy home, you know how awkward things could get. Maybe you were even uncomfortable bringing friends home from school. Our parents did the best they could, but they couldn’t teach us what they didn’t…

crop kid drawing in coloring book

Pandemic Countdown Week 6: Coloring Books

Pandemics are stressful (this statement brought to you by the Ministry of the Obvious) and so we've all been trying to find some way to deal with the ongoing make-it-end stress. Perhaps you've dusted off your yoga mat or you've…

dog with snow on its nose looking up

Decluttering Motivation

Decluttering is like walking the dog no matter what the weather's like or how you feel. To understand where I'm going with this, you should know that Daisy is two years old and has a lot of sheep herding energy.…

several scissors

Pandemic Countdown Week 5: Scissors

How Many Scissors Do You Have and Where Are They? Were you raised in a full house where anything you could possibly want was somewhere if only that elusive spot could be located? We must have had at least twelve…

jigsaw puzzle

Pandemic Countdown Week 4: Puzzles

Have you been puzzling up a storm during covid? This pandemic has shown us that the world can be divided into people who love doing puzzles – they enjoy the relaxing challenge, the delight of a puzzle in progress, the…

pile of cloth masks

Pandemic Countdown Week 3: Masks

Remember when the Pandemic started and everybody started making masks? It was a wonderful creative way to do something in the middle of chaos, wasn't it? I fondly remember the mask I got from our library - pretty fabric, super…

stack of fashion magazines on floor

Pandemic Countdown Week 2: Decluttering Magazines

In these covidest of times, have you put your stack(s) of magazines to good use? Made the collages? Created the vision boards? Read all the articles you've been meaning to? No? You're not alone. The magazines have languished since well…

‘I always ask, What hurts most?’

Filled Up and Overflowing - what to do when life events, chronic disorganization, or hoarding go overboard, is a compassionate, practical read that I wish had been available when I was starting out as an organizer. I'm thrilled we have…

pile of assorted title book lot selective focus photographt

Pandemic Countdown Week 1: Decluttering Books

Covid is going to end - while we wait, here are 30 decluttering challenges to give you the freedom to come out from behind your screens and have people over again. If you get to the end of all 30…

photo of woman standing on sunflower field

Accountability That Works

If your Facebook or Twitter feed is anything like mine, you're currently being deluged with offers for productivity coaches, apps and courses. Many of them might be helpful but is this really the first time you've tried to get organized…

two tall stacks of paperwork and files

Paperwork Challenge Q & As

Last week's paperwork challenge gave me the opportunity to hear what troubles you most about paperwork - here are my answers to the top three most popular questions I've received. Shouldn't I Be Scanning All This Paperwork? Only if you…

two tall stacks of paperwork and files

Paperwork Challenge Day 9

You made it! I'm so grateful for your time and energy during this paperwork challenge. As promised, I'm wrapping this challenge up with a list of five file folder categories that'll make organizing your paperwork in 2021 and beyond so…

two tall stacks of paperwork and files

Paperwork Challenge Day 8

So good to see you! I'm posting these daily so you have the sequence of steps but please know that I'm not expecting, or even encouraging you to take just one day for each step. Take it steady, go at…

two tall stacks of paperwork and files

Paperwork Challenge Day 7

Thanks for coming back, I'm excited to show you how to move your paperwork from broad categories (see posts 1 - 6) into the next level of organization without having you break out into a sweat! To review, you've taken…

two tall stacks of paperwork and files

Paperwork Challenge Day 6

Keep sorting papers, twenty minutes at a time, until you have all the papers distributed into bankers boxes. Could take a while or it could take twenty minutes, depending on how much paperwork you're sorting. This could be the end…

two tall stacks of paperwork and files

Paperwork Challenge Day 5

Alright, you're ready - let's start sorting! Set your timer for 20 minutes and let's do this. Take a handful of papers and look at the first one. What is it? Without spending ten minutes reading it through and worrying…

two tall stacks of paperwork and files

Paperwork Challenge Day 4

Nearly there! Today's step is to gather a large recycling can and a large garbage can, empty them both and then set them in the room with the piles of paper, the flat surface to work on and the assembled,…

two tall stacks of paperwork and files

Paperwork Challenge Day 3

Today's the day to open the bankers box pack and assemble a few of them. If you've done this before, it'll take you less than 30 seconds per box but if you've never put together a bankers box before, you…

two tall stacks of paperwork and files

Paperwork Challenge Day 2

Welcome back! I hope Day 1 wasn't too arduous and you were able to gather all your piles of paper together and find a flat surface to sort them on. Day 2's step is to head for Walmart, Target or…

two tall stacks of paperwork and files

Paperwork Challenge Day 1

Even if you usually run a pretty tight ship, paperwork probably makes you groan. Sorting through it seems so daunting, so time consuming, so incredibly boring. To celebrate the end of 2020, I've got you covered with a New Year's…

assorted color rolls

Holiday Clutter Challenge: gift wrap

The challenge this Holiday week is to consider releasing any and all gift wrap supplies you don't end up using this week. It's not that they aren't perfectly good, but if they didn't make the cut this time, why will…

shalow focus photography of mailed letters

Holiday Clutter Challenge: Donation Requests That Never Stop Coming

Every day we skip to the mailbox and then slowly trudge back with our bills, flyers and catalogs again. Too boring to go through, we set it down "for now". If there was a way to completely stop it, we…

white pillows on a bed

Holiday Clutter Challenge part 3

This week, the clutter challenge heads for the spare room. If you don't have a designated guest room, it's the room where someone would stay if they came for a visit. Keeping the game's rules in mind - find one…

cans of pureed pumpkin

Holiday Clutter Challenge part 2

How did you get on with last week's Send it away Saturday challenge? I enjoyed seeing your pictures and hearing about your Holiday discards! This week, the challenge gets a little more specific but it's still within the general umbrella…

tinsel on a christmas tree

Holiday Clutter Challenge

Mid-November through Mid-January is tough and expensive. It's cold, often overcast and there are all those Holidays. There's desire and pressure to buy gifts for anyone you can think of whether or not they want or need what you get…

potato peeler

How To Decide

One of the most difficult things about decluttering is making decisions about your possessions. What stays and what goes? Here's how I'd help you learn how to decide if we were working together and we realized you had five potato…

condiments crowded into a fridge door shelf

Ask The Organizer: A Bad Smell In The Fridge

Dear Joyful Surroundings, There's an odor in my fridge. I've got a new box of baking soda in there but it doesn't seem to be working.  Thanks for listening, M, Colorado Dear M, We have huge fridges these days, nothing…

armchair with blanket and two teddy bears

Organizing Your Bedroom

Remember when you were a kid and your room (or the bit of the bedroom you staked out as your territory) was the only place you had to keep everything? The bed, which doubled as your couch, was squashed in…

young boy carefully holding a corn snake

Ignoring Clutter

My son likes snakes and I don't.  He would happily fill his room with cages full of carefully selected specimens and  meet all their serpentine needs. I'd happily never see one again. Our compromise is that he has a couple…

Joyful Surroundings logo colorful plumeria flowers with healthy green leaves

How To Declutter When You Don’t Feel Like It

Some days you’re just not feeling it. You're still sick of not being able to find anything, you still really want to have your grandkids stay over, you still want to get the car in the garage and have friends…

stack of boxes waiting to be sorted

Organizing Case Study: Jason’s Story

“Want to give me the tour?” I asked as Jason stood in front of me, awkwardly shifting his weight from one foot to the other. I’d seen photographs of his house already and we’d talked about his organizing goals but…

old potatoes with shoots coming out of them

Mindful Decluttering

When it comes to decluttering, the focus is usually on how things look. Look at that bedroom! I can't see the bed! I don't see how all those clothes can possibly fit in the closet. But we have five senses…

purple stuffed animal with a nervous expression

The Importance of Clutter

from the archives: Sometimes clutter is vital and that’s why you’re keeping it. It’s not important because your house papers are in those piles somewhere, although that may well be the case. It’s important because it’s serving you well, cocooning…

Joyful Surroundings logo colorful plumeria flowers with healthy green leaves

Showing Up Even When You’re Not Feeling It

I could try to put this in my own words for you...or you could just enjoy this beautiful post from the creator of Zen Habits while I work through the sleep restriction phase of CBTI. Back to regularly scheduled programming…

character standing in front of three doors

The Simplest Clutter Challenge You’ll Find

As this pandemic drags on, I'm sure your inbox is as full as mine is with all sorts of improving suggestions about how to make the best use of our COVID time. If organization doesn't come naturally to you, these…

two small organized floating display shelves against a red painted wall

How Will I Know When I’m Organized?

If clutter has been a long-standing problem for you, it can be tough to figure out when you're done. How will you know when you're Organized with a capital O? Organized You're Organized when you can use each room for…

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