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…

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…

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…

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…

long haired dog with fur flying backwards as he races along a dirt path

How To Be On Time

Do you continually find yourself running late despite your best intentions? Here's how to make that a thing of the past. Side effects include improved friendships, feelings of being trustworthy and a decrease in overall stress. Your appointment with Polly…

Joyful Surroundings logo colorful plumeria flowers with healthy green leaves

Troubleshooting the Twenty Minutes

Twenty minutes decluttering a day is the slow and steady way to lasting change but sometimes it feels like you're spinning your wheels. When you start to wonder if it's worth it, check in with yourself and see if you're…

white long sleeved blouse and gauze red and yellow skirt laid out on a chair

Catalog Your Clothes

Coming up with the perfect outfit is too much brain work first thing in the morning. You keep meaning to set out your clothes the night before but by the time evening comes, all you really want to do is…

two tall stacks of paperwork and files

What Can You Declutter Today?

If you're a minimalist, the sort who happily gets down to one roll of t-paper before heading for the store, you've probably started buying a little more lately. If you're more of a packrat, you've most likely struggled to find…

organized living room with built in bookshelves, comfortable armchairs and flowers on a coffee table

Staying at Home Driving You Crazy?

This stay at home order has been hell on wheels for anyone who's been putting off getting organized. Tempers are frayed as the day starts off with a mad dash to sweep the dining room table clean before the online…

pile of sweatshirts (white, bottle green, yellow and gray colors) on a beige carpet

Step By Step Guide to Decluttering

You know how to get started with your decluttering project. You've eaten, you've used the bathroom, you have water with you and you've set your timer for twenty minutes. You've picked a category of things to work on and you have…

crowded garage full of old wooden chairs, moving boxes and a moving dolly

How to Start Decluttering

Have you started your daily twenty minutes decluttering but been frustrated by how little difference it seems to make? You set the timer, head off to the attic and twenty minutes later you've managed to let go of one balding…

individual toilet rolls crammed into a bathroom cabinet jostling for space with over the counter medications

Now what?

You've got the sixteen backup packages of toilet paper from Costco. Disaster is averted (for a while). But where are you going to put those enormous packages? If your basement is ready and waiting, with a clear path to the…

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