Starting Point

Probably the most common challenges people face after deciding to get organized is figuring out where to start. It is at this point that a person is likely taking in the view of the disorganization in its entirety and feeling overwhelmed. My number one secret to starting virtually any organizing project is actually quite simple: categorize, categorize, categorize.

The easiest way to begin categorizing a pile of “clutter” is to start by grouping “like with like.” If a closet requires more organization, gather all the shirts with shirts, pants with pants, belts with belts, etc. The basic act will bring clarity and allow the clothing to be further organized by season, fabric weight, color, casual vs. formal, or in any other way that will make the closet more visually appealing and accessible.

Organizing a “junk drawer” or items that may be stored on an exposed surface like the top of a dresser may seem more daunting. Nevertheless, the same principle applies. When grouping items in these types of situations, I highly recommend maintaining groups by using drawer dividers or small baskets/boxes/bins/drawer organizers that are of an appropriate size. A key advantage to creating and maintaining categories is by doing so, you will gain a better sense of which items can and should be readily purged.

By teaching yourself to quickly categorize the items in your living or work space, you will likely find that, after your first attempt at organizing, you will be required to spend less time maintaining your newly organized space. And when it is time to reorganize or purge, being able to assess items by category may also make the process seem less overwhelming.

What is Professional Organizing?

Simply stated, professional organizing is a process through which a system is put in place to help individuals and businesses become more orderly. It is one of many very effective ways to improve quality of life and boost productivity.

What is the Rolanda L. Method?

Disorganization is typically a symptom of a larger disruption in an individual’s life. Sometimes the cause of the disruption may be minor and temporary like moving to a new residence or redecorating. In other cases, disorganization may have a root cause that is very chronic and persistent. Regardless the cause of a disorganized home or office, Rolanda L, Professional Organizer seeks to address each individual situation at its origin and to design and implement solutions that will ultimately set the client up for continued success. The Rolanda L. Method is a holistic approach to organizing!

What Can Be Organized (…Professionally)?

Closets, cabinets, shelves, paperwork, filing systems, you name it! Rolanda L. is also available to assist with furniture selection, room layout, and color coordination. Our clients also love our specialized relocation packing service, which makes moving to a new home or office much more efficient and generally more secure. Having a highly detail-oriented professional organizer handle packing during a move makes the entire process much faster and easier from start to finish.

But I Always Seem to Find Myself Needing to Reorganize… 

Solution: Work with a professional organizer to implement a system and/or layout that works well with your lifestyle and behavioral habits…We happen to know one if you’re interested!

If you are unable to work with an organizer, simply take inventory of your daily routine (even if it is somewhat erratic), and ask yourself if you have designed your home and everything in it in a way that supports you in achieving your daily objectives. If the answer is no, walk through each aspect of an average day in your life, ask yourself what could be improved to increase efficiency and peace of mind. Then modify your environment accordingly. Keeping a journal of observations and changes may be helpful.

Also ask about our affordable workshop events, where you can learn organizing strategies in a supportive small group setting led by Rolanda!

Put me in touch with your pro.

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Economics and Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method

Famed Japanese home organization consultant Marie Kondo has inspired millions around the world to focus on optimizing their home environment. Although the thought of organizing and “de-cluttering” is a source of dread for many, Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, has performed tremendously from Tokyo to New York City. What is it about a book on home organizing that appeals to so many?

Kondo helps readers conceptualize their home organization and storage habits by utilizing basic economic concepts. Through these concepts, the author translates the oftentimes daunting language of organizing to everyday, palatable lingo. She effectively guides the reader along the path of uncovering the very psychological correlations between organizational habits and psychology.

The Sunk-Cost Fallacy in Organizing

In economic terms, a sunk cost is a past cost that has already been paid and cannot be recovered. This term is highly applicable when it comes to organizing and is a major setback for many individuals who struggle to donate or discard unused items. For example, an individual may purchase a fruit bowl or even a small kitchen appliance while it is on sale and later decide not to use the item because the colors clash with the current decorating theme or because there is simply not enough space on the kitchen counter. Over time, the new purchase remains unused, and the individual may or may not realize the item is not really a necessity. However, the item remains in place because it is perpetually regarded as a “purchase” that went unused and may still be of use at a later date. Meanwhile, the item takes up space in the home and will likely never be used because it does not meet a more urgent need in the household.

When sorting through closet and storage spaces, remaining honest about an item’s realistic potential for use is paramount. While I, personally, do not aggressively focus on forcing clients to discard items simply for the sake of getting rid of things, I do encourage my clients to audibly talk through the way in which the item came into the home and list realistic pros and cons of keeping the item. At that point, the individual is typically able to make a firm, practical decision about whether the item should go or stay.

The Folly of Prediction in Sorting and Purging

More thoroughly explained in the Freakonomics podcast, the folly of prediction simply acknowledges that, in the grand scheme, human beings are often terrible at making accurate predictions. How does this relate to organizing? Marie Kondo uses this fallacy as a basis for utilizing current valuation of an object to determine whether to keep or remove it from the household. Common examples include clothes that are a few sizes too small or books that have already been read. At this point, my method diverges from the KonMari method slightly in that I typically do not insist on a client getting rid of clothing that is within a couple sizes of his or her current weight or donating favorite books if a) there is space to store the items within easy reach OR neatly within plain sight and b) the client establishes or is clearly working on an organized plan to get back into the smaller clothing size or reread the book. Other examples include housewares and decorations that were purchased for a specific purpose and will likely never be used again. Board games and toys that never see the light of day should also be considered through this lens in most cases.

Status Quo Bias and Preventing the Accumulation of “Clutter”

Under the status quo bias, as it relates to organizing, many people are governed by the belief that they should keep an item in the home if they cannot think of a reason to discard the object. Here Marie Kondo employs a dramatic switch that I find to be the most life-changing of all the economic concepts discussed: she suggests changing the status quo to one under which no item is kept in the home unless there is a valid reason to hold onto it. Under the suggested status quo, most of us would be opting for online bank, credit card, and utility statements, recycling empty bags and boxes, no longer keeping massive collections of old, unused plastic food storage containers. The average American household would be drastically different in form and, to a significant degree, in function. We would no longer need to go out and purchase new stuff to help us store our old stuff.

What would we do with all that extra space? Imagine how much more “living” we could do in our home environments…

For more information about the interplay between the KonMari method and economics, check out this  Atlantic editor’s personal experience.