This is 40

I know what I want. I always have. But now that I’m 40, please, hold your applause, I know you’re surprised that this is the face of a 40 year old adult grown woman. sillyselfieNow that I’m 40, I really, really know what I want. That means I know the kind of people I want to spend time with. That means I know what food I like to eat. That means I know what I want my home to feel like, look like, smell like. No, I don’t like gardenia candles, I know that for sure.  No, I don’t enjoy washing my body with bar soap. No, I don’t like American cheese slices wrapped in plastic. I’m not an animal, for Bette Midler’s sake. I DO love goat cheese omelets and Earl Gray tea with almond milk. With age comes wisdom. And with age comes really good cheese. Back to my house…

So, it’s October and I have a lot more cozy time inside to fully evaluate my crap, I mean treasured posessions. Fall is an excellent season to look around my apartment and see what suits me for real. What do I know for sure about my things and my space? Things I enjoyed a few years ago, might no longer be “my thing.” Even though, at the time of purchase or receipt, we are very excited about a particular thing, that may no longer be the case and we need to forgive ourselves for naturally outgrowing something that we once enjoyed.

I’ve been considering replacing my 5 year old Ikea living room bookshelf with something more modern and open. Until I decide if I’m investing in that large piece of furniture, this past weekend, I took the time to purge and rearrange so I can see the situation a bit more clearly. I spent a couple of hours working my bookcase. I ALWAYS advise people to organize in a small chunk of time, not the entire life span of a weekend. It’s a good thing I absolutely love to putz around my house, I love to rearrange my things, get rid of unwanted do-dads and trinkets. This is what it looked like before I starting purging and sorting:FullSizeRender (2)

Generally, it looks pretty good. It’s organized and contained. There are baskets and boxes to house things I don’t want out in the open but it’s a bit overstuffed and I’m tired of looking at these things everyday. Candles and picture frames and excess books get pretty tiring after a while. I live in a small one-bedroom apartment, I can’t avoid looking at it.

For the purging process, I use the same speeches I give my organizing clients:

“That friend who gave this to you will never ask where it is.”

“You have no use for this in your current life.” I hold that thing in my hand for a minute. Give it thanks and say good-bye.

Because I do this process every six months or so (or whenever the mood strikes, really), the process was not monstrous. The cards and photos (in the organge and green boxes) took the most time because there were more of them.

Questions I asked myself as I went through the cards:

“Is this person meaningful in my life?”

“Did this person write something sweet, funny, memorable or did they just sign their name?”

“Does this card bring up yucky feelings of a past relationship?”

Those were the parameters for keeping or tossing cards. Photos were all about clarity, duplication and, again, yucky or great feelings. If I had four photos of the same church in France with nobody standing in front of it, they all got tossed. Sorry Notre Dame. If I had four photos of people from high school standing in front of that church and I don’t speak to any of those people anymore…tossed. You get the picture. Get it? Picture? This is evidence of sorting and purging in progress:

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Next came the books. I already purged around 40 books in the Spring but I’m not kidding around and I purged about 35 more on Saturday. It felt awesome.

Questions to ask myself while purging books,

“Will I EVER read this thing?”

“Can this info be found online?” The answer was “yes” when I held a Suze Orman finance book in my hands. Never gonna read that thing as much as I love Suze.

“Am I keeping this for sentimental reasons that are ridiculous?”

“Can I get this book again if I truly need it?” The answer to that last question is almost always a loud YES…library and Amazon will save you if you absolutely need something you threw out.

After I put those 35 books on my building’s front stoop for looky loos and treasure finders to nab, I immediately felt like I lost 5 pounds. (Let’s just pretend that I did because that would be awesome.) I personally love to color group my books for a little bit of a visual effect. Something you can do with hardcover books is remove the book jacket and enjoy the pristine binding underneath. Book jackets can be tossed immediately. You don’t own the first copy of Moby Dick so let that sucker go. Do it.

Here’s the pared down, re-arranged but not wildly different bookcase experience:

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There are fewer books which leads to more free space. Good candles are now in a closet grouped in a large Tiffany box. Mostly-used candles got tossed. A frame is now on my bedside table. The large basket that took up an entire shelf is now holding kitchen goods on top of my refrigerator. The small green box got switched for a small basket from my closet that held sunglasses. Now the green box holds the sunglasses.

I used to love lots and lots of color but now I’m veering towards Eileen Fisher neutral territory. So those orange and green boxes are going to be replaced with tan boxes in the next week or two. Is this a reveal worthy of Extreme Home Makeovers? No. But it’s a small change that makes me feel better about walking past this bookcase every day. And guess what? The whole thing cost zero dollars (until I buy the tan boxes which cost a hell of a lot less than a new bookcase). So I’ll live with this until I save up for a new piece or I’ll do some more changes. It’s really up to me. Because at the end of the day, I know what I like. And I like that I know that.

 

With love, light and less clutter

xo

Jeni

Goals are GREAT!

Howdy! It’s been a little while since I’ve checked in here. I’ve been busy working with some really terrific clients who are all going through various life transitions with different goals in mind.

 

My client “R” is about to welcome her second child any day now. In her small two bedroom Brooklyn apartment we set out to create space for the new arrival by purging old toys and clothing and by reworking the furniture layout in her son’s room. We moved a bulky rocking chair to the living room to fit the new baby’s crib. It’s amazing what can be done in a few hours with a fresh perspective. Moving furniture around can actually create space and breathe new life into a room. In just one session and armed with a detailed list of homework, “R” felt ready for her baby girl’s arrival and much closer to her goal of creating a functional space for her new kid.

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Another client, “K,” and I steamrolled through her bedroom closet. She was hesitant to sort through it alone as her cats had found a mouse in there just the previous week. I pretended I was totally cool if we found a mouse or not as she plugged up the mouse hole with steel wool and we got to work. After two hours, the jam packed closet was now 4 garbage bags of stuff thinner and we were able to tuck her very large laundry caddy inside so she didn’t have to wake up every morning staring it in the face from her bedside. There’s nothing romantic about dirty laundry greeting you each day as you attempt to get out of bed. The accomplished goal of clearing that closet was just what “K” needed to motivate her to attack the rest of the bedroom on her own (without the help of a cute and furry friend – the mouse, not me).

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A third client I’ve been helping is prepping her 4-bedroom Manhattan apartment for sale. After 40 years of residing in her home, she’s got a lot of items that need to be stored, thrown out, appraised, given back to her adult children, donated and kept for staging. A project of this size (and really all projects) need to be conquered in stages. After three 3-hour sessions of purging, relocating items in better areas and boxing things up for short-term storage, she’s now having a moving company remove large pieces of furniture that won’t be needed for staging. I’ll return for more purging and organizing in round 2. Sometimes with a project of this scale it really does take a village – of paid professionals. Her goal is within sight and she should be placing her home on the market in the next two months.

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I share these three snippets of my work to show you that when your goal is clear you can digest what you have to do with clarity and focus. My job becomes achievable when I figure out exactly what it is the client wants to do with their space. Visualizing the finished project keeps us on task and allows me to better serve the client’s needs so I know what to recommend and what to hold them to. Goals keep the project moving smoothly towards a destination and the end result is very satisfying.

 

What’s your goal for your home organizing project? Make more space for a home office? Finally get rid of your storage unit that you are tired of paying for each month? Welcome a new partner into your home? Or are you seeking some peace in a cluttered environment? I’d love to hear!

 

Love, light and less clutter!

Jeni

Spring Recycling Event

Many times, after I’ve worked with clients and we’ve purged a lot of hard-to-chuck-items from various parts of their home that cannot be donated or sold or given to a friend, we’re often left with the question, “well now what do we do with this worthless junk?” Well, if you’re in New York City, you’re in luck because the annual NYC Safe Disposal Event is rolling into town just a few days after Earth Day. If you have old radios, busted TV’s, leftover paint cans, chunky nail polish, dead cell phones and creepy buckets of odd liquids (don’t ask), hold on just a couple more weeks so you can dispose of these items properly and responsibly.

 

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This Spring, the city will have a recycling event in each borough starting on Saturday, April 26th in Queens. Sunday, May 4 will be in Brooklyn. Saturday, May 10 is in da Bronx. Sunday, May 11 is in Manhattan (Happy Mother’s Day mom, I found you this burnt out toaster oven!) and Saturday, May 17 is in Staten Island. Visit the site below to learn about what you can and can’t bring to the events and how to bring it there and what to wear so you’ll be the cutest thing in any borough dumping poisonous materials in a safe way. Might I suggest a kicky gingham print blouse? You, too ladies!

http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycwasteless/html/events/bwprr_safe.shtml

If you’re not fortunate enough to live in the best damn city in the world then google your area’s Department of Sanitation to see what fun party they’re throwing in your neck of the woods. If they don’t have a recycling event like ours, write an email to your mayor or call and ask what’s the hold up?!

And if you haven’t prepared for THE event of the season, take this opportunity to sweep through your home to say good-bye to any unwanted items. If you have a basement or a garage, I know there are cans of something weird you can bring to drop off. Why wait a moment longer when you can get rid of these headaches now and enjoy the extra space that those leaky containers and sad electronics were consuming. Happy Spring Recycling!

 

With love, light and less clutter

Jeni

 

Sell it!

Hi Folks! I’m dialing in from the very chilly, very slushy, always fabulous NYC. Here in the city, aside from fashion and food, the conversation on a lot of lips is real estate. Whether you’re looking to rent a new place, buy your first home or sell your small apartment and upgrade to a new joint, everyone is in the game in some way. Organizing a space is extremely important when it comes to selling a property or renting a listing. Here are some reasons why decluttering your space will make your apartment more appealing to a potential renter or buyer:

 

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  • Your space will look LARGER and LIGHTER!

Whether you’re living in the tightest studio or a five bedroom house, the main thing lookie-loos want to see is the potential of a space. It’s hard to see how roomy a place can be when magazines and books are crammed into a bookcase, dishes are piled in the sink, too many towels are jammed into a linen closet and kids’ toys are littering the living room.  With all that stuff purged or tucked away, your one-bedroom, one-bath will look like a castle. And have I told you about the LIGHT, Sheila? Well! With trinkets gone from window sills and plants contained to one spot, light can flow into a room with the ease of angels. Cue the harp.

  • Your space will be easier to clean between showings!

When you’re showing your home to the public, cleaning is obviously very important. Nobody wants to smell a funny smell or see a year’s worth of grime on a stovetop. They want to feel welcomed and they want to envision themselves living in your space. But it’s a big challenge to dust a piano with 27 framed photos on it. It’s a nightmare to vacuum a guest room with paperwork strewn about and it’s a down right nuisance to wipe down a bathroom counter with a zillion different bottles and jars populating the place. Clear out the stuff and cleaning will be a piece of chocolate cake. Mmm…cake.

  • Your space will be able to show off its goods!

Many homes have special features like crown moulding, hardwood floors and high ceilings. But how can you focus on the beauty of a space when the main focus is all that darn clutter? Clear out that negative stuff zapping precious energy from a home and help direct the attention to the glitter and magic that makes your space shine. Make it sparkle!

 

You can declutter on your own or you can hire a professional like me to help you get your place ready for an audience. It’s worth the effort! Many realtors say that organized listings stay on the market for a shorter amount of time and they get a higher asking price than cluttered spaces. Sell it, baby!

With love, light and less clutter,

Jeni

 

 

 

Renting More Space

Hi Friends!
I’m going to brag for a second…I am lucky enough to live in an apartment that has a huge walk-in closet that feels like an attic. It’s so cavernous that I need a big boy ladder to get to the very back of it. It’s so spacious that I even contemplated renting it out to European travelers on Air BNB but friends convinced me that renting a windowless closet is kind of a cruel trick to play on a sweet, unsuspecting couple from Denmark.

ANYWAY – not all of us are lucky enough to have great storage space like moi. That’s why, after you’ve exhausted your residential resources and sorted through everything in your apartment and you’re not using it as a dumping ground, it’s actually very okay to rent a small off-site storage space. I highly recommend getting a storage space when going through a transition like moving, getting a divorce, expecting a baby, renovating your apartment or dealing with your sports equipment addiction (I’m sure there’s a Sports Equipment Anonymous meeting you should be attending right now). Do NOT use a storage space as a place holder for making real, honest decisions about your stuff but DO use a storage space as a short-term solution that fits into a larger plan.

Feel free to check out this fun little interview I did with Manhattan Mini Storage: http://blog.manhattanministorage.com/a-conversation-with-the-clutter-cowgirl
Enjoy!

With love, light and less clutter,
Jeni

Fresh Starts

Like most of you I spent my summer outside, enjoying nature, meeting up with friends and soaking in the sun (with sunscreen). Summer is great but I’m completely in love with the Fall – maybe because I’ve always considered September to be about fresh starts. My birthday is in September, the Jewish New Year is in September and there is a crispness in the air that clears my brain. And whether or not you have children, the idea of Back-to-School is a concept that never quite leaves the system. It’s a time to learn, to take stock of what we need to do in the next year to succeed, to leave the past year’s flaws at our feet (which is pretty much the idea of Yom Kippur – the Jewish holiday when we atone for our sins and try to make things right with ourselves and our higher power).

In addition to all the psychological shifts this season brings, let’s figure out what this upcoming time of year means for you when it comes to getting organized.

Clothing:
Now that summer is over, there are accessories and seasonal pieces that will need to be packed away. Please take an hour and evaluate the quality of your bathing suits, beach towels, sun dresses, sandals, sunglasses, flip flops and any other items that scream Summer to you. If any of these have seen their last hurrah, say good-bye and be grateful that you’re saving storage space by getting rid of these pieces. Now you can pack away the keepers in a labeled bin in the back of your closet and have them ready and available for next year.

Food:
As the seasons change, so do our choices in fresh foods. Take a half an hour to clean out your fridge and weed out any funky fruits and veggies that didn’t quite survive to see the Fall cycle. It’s time to restock your supply with Fall-centric foods. Wipe down the fridge, toss any unused leftovers and take a mental note of what did and didn’t get consumed by you and your family.

Shelter:
As it’s still quite beautiful out so use this fantastic in-between weather to do any home repairs that require you to be exposed to the elements. Roof issues (including gutter cleaning), terrace repair, autumn gardening efforts and anything that requires preparing for cold weather treatments while it’s not yet too frigid out.

These are just a handful of areas where you can use this shift in weather and sensibilities to get back into swing of things after your summer vacations and retreats. What else comes to mind when you think of Fall?

With love, light and less clutter…
Jeni

Mail Mania

Despite the popularity of email, texts and Facebook messaging, we all still get paper mail on a daily basis. Most of my clients complain about how much of their mail seems to accumulate without them even realizing it. I made a fun and quick VIDEO highlighting my easy 3-step mail wrangling solution F.A.R.: FILE, ACT, READ.

 

FILE   Only file things that no longer require your attention but you know you need to keep for the long-term. Apartment leases, birth certificates, job reviews, love letters and notices from the state lottery informing you that you’re a millionaire are a handful of examples of FILE-worthy items.

 

ACT   These are pieces of mail that still need attention: bills to pay, your cousin’s neighbor’s dog’s birthday party invite to reply “NO” to, fruit-juice-of-the-month subscription to cancel. Anything that needs immediate action are things that go in the ACT pile.

 

READ   When you receive a magazine or catalog in the mail, leaf through it. If know you want to give it a more intense look-see later on, pop that sucker in the READ category.

 

When you tackle your mail on a daily basis and stick to these very direct and basic steps, you can save so much precious time and finally be able to enjoy more stimulating activities, like catching up on all 47 seasons of Dancing With The Stars. I won’t tell you who won.

 

With love, light and less clutter,

Jeni

Being Selfish Will Help You Get Organized!

Most of us consider selfishness to be a horrible flaw, a dent in our character and a trait we’d use to describe our worst social enemies on Facebook. But, in reality, when you’re setting out on your organizing project, it is imperative that you remain focused on yourself and nobody else.

Here are two examples of how being selfish will help you to get organized:

  • You say: “But my Aunt Rita bought me all of these Lenox porcelain figurines! I have to display them in case she pops over.”

First of all, why is Aunt Rita popping over unexpectedly? That’s rude! But more to the point, this is your house, you pay the rent or the mortgage and Aunt Rita does not. When your home is a reflection of who you are, and everything has a purpose and a place, it is a haven. You will feel embraced by the energy your home emits every time you walk through the door. There is no way you can feel that loving vibe if your home is a guilt trap of gifts that you trip over every time you turn your key. This doesn’t mean you can’t have tokens in your home that remind you of the gift bearer, please just make sure they’re not piles of junk and clutter that get in the way of a functioning, lovely home.

  • You say: “Oh, an umbrella, my friend Shirley said she needed an umbrella, I’ll give this to her.”

Hold up, Senator. You’re telling me that Shirley is a fully grown woman walking around the city without an umbrella? I guess that’s one more issue for Shirley and her shrink to work out. But here’s my real problem with this…are you planning to see Shirley tomorrow? No? Okay, then this umbrella with one busted metal leg is going in the trash.

If coordinating a donation to a friend takes more time than you can afford, please skip it and say good-bye to the item. REMEMBER: Getting organized needs to be all about you and figuring out how to streamline your efforts and how to make your space work for you. If you came across Shirley’s birth certificate in your files (why that’s there, I don’t know), then sure, pop it in the mail. But be selfish and discerning about the efforts you make when you’re purging items from your home. Sometimes the garbage, not Shirley’s house, is the best receptacle for unwanted stuff.

 

 

 

Let’s wrap this up. Can friends benefit from your organizing efforts? Absolutely! Can you sprinkle visual reminders of loved ones throughout your home? Absolutely! But when you focus on your time, your energy and your project, you will reach your organizing goals with more speed and agility than an Olympic luge racer. And when you keep to this rule of thumb about putting yourself and your needs first, you’ll be able to maintain the work you’ve done for a whole lot longer.

 

What items are you holding onto because you don’t want to offend the gift giver? What’s in your outbox to give to a friend that can, quite possibly, be tossed in the trash instead?

 

With love, light and less clutter,

Jeni

 

 

Love & Clutter

A friend of mine recently wanted to purchase my organizing services as a gift for his ex. “He’s never going to meet anyone with all that crap in his apartment!” As dire and dramatic as that sounds, my friend has a point.

 

I’m a big believer in the Feng Shui principal of nurturing and curating your home to allow for good energy to flow into your home and heart. When a bedroom is loaded down with papers, a bicycle, old food containers, dirty laundry and an overflowing closet, how sexy of a message does that send? It’s not only giving out the attitude that the bedroom (and other parts of the home) aren’t alluring to a potential partner, they’re not putting you in the mood for love because you’re overwhelmed and embarrassed by your mess.

Here are a few simple tips you can use to invite the idea of more love into your life:

  • When you can, set up your home office outside of the bedroom. I know how limited square footage (especially in big cities) can be. Having an office in the bedroom reinforces stress and reminds you that there’s always work to be done and it allows paper masses to migrate into the space meant for love and relaxation. If you have the room in your kitchen for a mini-office or a corner in your living room, consider setting up shop there. The bedroom should be for unwinding and for tickle fights.
  • If possible, remove any exercise equipment from your bedroom. These big, obtrusive, ugly machines tend to gather dust and they become a repository for sweaters, jackets, shopping bags and many other unromantic items.
  • Use lighting that is pleasing to the eye. Any lamps or overhead lighting need to be fully functional – no bulb-less wonders or broken pieces for you! Also, clean the lamp shades to let as much of that beautiful light into the room. Dusting will remove harmful allergens and it will create better mood lighting for all that canoodling you’ll be doing.
  • Position your bed so that you can move around it freely. Make sure to have a bedside table on each side of the bed: one for you, one for your partner. If you’re not currently in a relationship and hope to be, this sends out the universal invite that there’s room for someone in your life. A simple basket for magazines, books and bedtime materials can live under each table so that the top of the table can remain clear.

There are many other small and big changes you can make to your space. What changes will you make today?

Please feel free to click on the VIDEO link to check out my organizing tips for your sock drawer, if you have not already done so: VIDEO

With love, light and less clutter,

Jeni

Daylight Savings Time – a great reminder to get organized

This Sunday is Daylight Savings Time! While it’s a lovely opportunity to show up too late or too early to appointments, it’s also a good reminder to get some bi-annual organizing jobs done around the house. With super quick projects, you can make the most out of your Sunday even with an hour less in your day. 
 
  • In my first fun Clutter Busting Tip VIDEO you’ll see how simple it is to organize your sock drawer. I suggest taking care of this twice a year so you can say good-bye to any worn out items, items that don’t apply to your life anymore and items that might remind you of an ex. In the length of one TV commercial break, you can neaten this area and have an easier daily routine each morning as a result. The only supplies you’ll need are clear plastic shoe boxes or just regular shoe boxes. If you’re feeling crafty, feel free to cover the shoe boxes with your favorite wrapping paper.  
  • Clearing out your medicine cabinet is another quick and easy task that can be done during Daylight Savings Time. Get rid of outdated medications. Be realistic about the make-up you keep in there and toss anything old/crusty or not a good fit for you. Get strict with yourself about hair care products. What are you really using? Is that anti-frizz spray really working for you? Wipe down the shelves of the cabinet and put back only the items that you use every single day. Less frequently used items can be stored in a non-central area.  
 
  • Gym clothes are the most aggressively used apparel in your wardrobe (if you’re actually hitting the gym – no pressure). Do yourself a quick favor and evaluate the functionality of these clothes. How is the elasticity of your shorts? Are the previously white t-shirts now completely yellow? Do the sports bras fit/support you? When you’re working out, you deserve to look and feel hot to trot at the gym (you never know who you’ll run into!). So feel free to turn that sad t-shirt into a cleaning rag. There are plenty more free charity t-shirts coming to you in your future. Now, each morning when you’re pushing yourself to go work out, you’ll be able to grab what you want and run out the door with ease. 
 
 
 
What other areas of your home can you wrangle in a short amount of time this weekend?
With love, light and less clutter,
Jeni