Michelle Smithpeter of Pretty Practical Spaces shares one of her clients experience in using a professional organizer. You can connect with Michelle and Pretty Practical Spaces at http://www.
If all the seconds, minutes and hours I have spent looking for my glasses, keys, phone, credit card, purse and anything else that doesn’t come attached were combined, enough time would have accumulated for me to actually accomplish something, like start a small business, write a novel or, dare I say, organize my house?
Any reluctance to marry again is not that I don’t want to live with someone else. It may not be fair to ask someone else to live with me.
I can never get out of the driveway in one motion. There’s always the “go back” thing for my sunglasses, the dog leash or the birthday card I just signed.
My whole life I have not known where to put anything. A Birkman personality test confirmed it. I officially have no inner structure.
It’s a family thing. My mother was not exactly Martha Stewart, but I am worse. My little brother is even worse, but he’s male, so less is expected.
I sought counseling. OK, I brought it up to my hairstylist, Brittany. Brittany has an artful way of relating her personality quirks, which frees me to make my own confessions.
Here’s the latest.
I get home from work to Annie, the anxious Yorkie/Poodle overwrought with the delight of my presence. Knowing her walk is coming, she follows my every step. I root around for the house key, venture into a pile of shoes for my walking shoes. One is on the floor. Where is the other? I never have to look for Annie, who follows me like a human/dog synchronized act. If only my stuff followed me like that. The leash? Oh yeah, it’s in the car from a weekend walk, along with the doggie bags. Annie finds the other shoe and drops it at the front door out of self-interest.
Finally. Ready now.
Oh, my phone? Where is that? Ah, I’ll just leave it wherever I put it.
Here’s something you need to know: My front door automatically locks when it shuts. Here’s something else you need to know. There is a locked gate between my front door and the outside world, with a small alcove in the middle.
So, I open the door. Annie runs out and up to the gate.
Cue the wind gust.
The door slams shut with the key still in the door on the other side.
Annie and I are locked outside, between the door and the gate.
Why didn’t I bring my cell phone?
This story has three varied endings, which “work out.” That’s because it’s happened three times. One upside to my condition is my well-honed ability to get myself out of jams. Here’s a synopsis of the protocol.
Step 1: Scream. (People do walk by my house.)
Step 2: Some stranger walking his/her dog arrives with a cell phone.
Step 3: Since I don’t know anyone’s phone number, I call a restaurant my son-in-law owns and get them to call him. Before I thought of that, I called the locksmith. But he was kind enough to let me off the hook once I reached my son-in-law.
In between: Zen pose. Pray. Pet confused dog.
Thankfully, the weather has always been mild. I didn’t have to go to the bathroom.
Let’s just say Annie and I have done quite a bit of self-imposed jail time between my front door and gate.
Brittany listens and clips in syncopation. My hair is looking better and better as I relate this story. Brittany expresses her own habit of dropping things to the floor in the creative process, but without seeming nearly as unhappy with herself. Brittany says she knows she will never change. She just accepts it.
What? I have spent the last six decades planning to change. When I get married, when I have kids, when I quit work, when I go back to work, when the kids are older, when the kids move out. I have spent decades in a perpetual mindset of procrastination.
One day later, I brought this up to my “worse” brother, Buddy, the least likely person to have the answer. But the following six words came from his mouth. “Matt’s wife is a professional organizer.”
Matt? Your best friend from high school? That kid actually grew up and got married? Then, I felt the following words come from my mouth.
“Give her my phone number.”
Within two days I had a perky text that felt like a jury summons. “Hi Cindy, are you ready to begin organizing your spaces? Would you like me come to your house Saturday?”
It sounded so immediate. Without feeling it at all, I said, “Let’s get started.”
Michelle Smithpeter forced me to notice that I had three pieces of furniture in my closet, along with files, memorabilia, picture frames and AC filters.
“Your closet is where you dress. Only what you wear should be in it.”
We set some things on the street with the words “free” taped to them. They vanished. There was suddenly more room in my closet and in my brain.
I think I worked with Michelle one full Saturday. The rest of a two-month period, Michelle worked around my schedule and texted me pictures and asked me to make decisions. Michelle was on a roll. She lost 3 pounds the first week.
I knew my life was different toward the end when our helper Ronaldo needed slightly shorter screws for the paper towel holder. I remembered that there was now a bin in my garage labeled SCREWS. I went to the bin, pulled it out, and there were two slightly smaller screws that were just perfect.
A wonderful, relaxed feeling of relief entered my soul. I have not changed, but my life has, with the help of other people.
What a relief.
(Photo: Aimee McCrory)
Cindy Gabriel was born into journalism. Her parents met on their college newspaper staff, then took her to work with them while running her great-grandfather’s small town newspaper in Rosenberg, Texas. It never occurred to her that going to work was anything but fun. The sound of the printing press, the smell of fresh ink, mixed with iron shavings from the typesetter, stale coffee and flattened cigarettes on the floor are etched into her earliest memories. Cindy’s first job in journalism would be as a wire service reporter. This would lead to radio news jobs for KIKK, KTRH and KQUE. Finally, she would become a local TV news reporter for the CBS affiliate, KHOU TV-Channel 11, followed by a stint as producer of the nationally syndicated Dr. Red Duke Health Reports. More recently, Cindy has worked for city and county government handling media-related communication involving the relocation of evacuees from New Orleans to Houston following Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ike and Harvey recovery efforts. The highlight of this was her production of a light-hearted video for homesick New Orleans evacuees on finding a job in Houston. The video, which opened with a little riff on The Wizard of Oz in the backdrop of downtown Houston, then appeared as the front-page lead story in the Sunday, New York Times.
Michelle Smithpeter’s Bio:
Michelle Smithpeter of Pretty Practical Spaces helps you make your spaces BOTH Pretty AND Practical:
Home Staging for Living!
Home Organizing-Space Planning-Closets & Kitchens
Curb Appeal projects.
She is a member in the following organizations:
National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professions
The Organizing Specialists Network
The Association of Change Management Professionals
Pretty Practical Spaces® serves clients in the greater Houston area, including Conroe & Montgomery, Texas.
Amy Vance of Eco Modern Concierge shares her 2018 Holiday Gift Guide on the NAPO Houston blog. You can connect with Amy and Eco Modern Concierge at ecomodernconcierge.
Eden & Earth Diapers:They are produced in a zero waste to landfill facility and are made with sustainable fluff.
Glass Straws: No more plastic straws 🙂
Market Bag: An eco option to plastic and perfect for the farmers market.
Cotton Face Wipes: They are made in part from up-cycled cotton t-shirts.
Thaan Charcoal: This is a clean alternative to traditional charcoal and is made from rambutan fruit wood.
Stainless Steel Ice Pack: 100% non-toxic and reusable.
Bamboo Toothbrushes: 100% biodegradable and made with BPA free charcoal bristles.
Reusable Snack Bags: They are made from some recycled material.
Stainless Steel Water Hose: An eco-friendly option to plastic.
Reusable Lids: These are great to keep things fresh from fruit to canned goods.
Cutlery Set: Great for those that take their lunch on the go, like me.
Air Purifier: Energy efficient and filters large and small particles in the air.
My name is Amy Vance and I am the founder of Eco Modern Concierge. Eco Modern Concierge is lifestyle company that helps you get sh*t done you don’t want to do or don’t have time do. Whether it’s personal assistance with tasks, professional organizing or eco – consulting. I specialize in using the most eco- friendly ways of providing my services whenever possible. Let’s connect!
Our kitchens are the heart of the home! We want to nurture and communicate with our families, have dinner together, and make this hub of activity more efficient and less cluttered. Take a simple, step by step approach to making this space more effective. Kitchen organizing makes family life more cohesive, less stressful and more fun!
- Pare down to what you need by assessing what is in each drawer and in each cabinet. Keep the multi-function tools and donate the single use tools. Do this in baby steps, just drawer by drawer.
- Arrange your kitchen tools by use. Keep food preparation items near the sink, food storage items near the refrigerator, cooking items near the stove, and plates and glasses near the dishwasher for easy retrieval and storage.
- Be brutal about your food storage containers. Keep all the rectangular containers nested together with the lids nested in a separate container and then the circular containers nested together with the lids nested in their own container.
- Group small appliances together for easy access and improved storage. Assess when was the last time you used your bread maker or waffle iron and donate these if it is a while ago.
- Establish work zones for frequent tasks. A lunch zone is great for getting your kids’ lunches together, including sacks, Ziplocs, and snacks that go into the bag. A coffee zone for the morning java might include coffee pot, coffee filters, mugs, and sweetener.
- Your “command center” for paper keeps piles from forming. Use a desk top sorter with hanging files for categories such as Action, Pay, File, and then one slot for each of your kids and husband or wife. Drop paper in when it arrives and then take an hour once a week for administrative tasks.
- Add a calendar space for your family calendar. Be sure to hang this where everyone sees it regularly and add information during your family meeting to keep it up to date.
- Review the expiration date of food in your pantry. Set up the “grocery store” on the shelves and put a label where food goes. Remember to keep a section for healthy snacks for your kids to easily grab and go.
Your kitchen organizing really makes a difference as we enter the holiday season. You will be ready to prepare for holiday family gatherings with less stress or mess, as well as feeling in charge!
About Ellen Delap of Professional-Organizer.com
Certified Professional Organizer Ellen Delap launched Professional-
This is a guest post by NAPO Houston member Donna Matthews, of Slay the Chaos.
Let’s look at the tale of two mornings…
On the first morning, you wake up in anticipation and excitement. You are headed out of town on vacation. You jump out of bed, grab your coffee, finish packing and head out the door to the airport. Your phone is dinging with random text messages, Facebook notifications, and the occasional email. You glance quickly to make sure it’s not flight related but otherwise, you are focused and on your way.
The second morning looks much different. You wake up and grab your phone wondering what happened overnight. You check your Facebook feed and Snapchat stories. You look over email. You clear all the notifications and feel productive because you’ve been busy. But now what? Because we’ve been focused on staying busy, we look for other busy work. Perhaps, we start the communication cycle again. Or we grab another cup of coffee and get distracted by the kitchen mess? Or if already at the office, we run into a meeting. We spend our day being busy and taking care of other people’s priorities. Because busy is productive, right?
On the first morning, you had clarity on your purpose. You had to get to the airport and go somewhere. You had places to be, things to do, and your goal was your priority. Get somewhere important to you.
On the second morning, without the same kind of clarity, you allow your morning to be whittled away by what others think is important. It’s more spinning wheels than getting somewhere.
Peter Drucker once said, “Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.”
Why are we attracted to busy work?
Busy work is easy. It doesn’t require a lot of thought and checking the checkbox gives us a rush of endorphins. We’re accomplishing things! Look at how busy we are today! I am important! But do you ever end the day wondering what in the world you accomplished?? And then something you didn’t do will come up and you hear yourself say “I don’t have time.”
You do have time. You just have to take it back.
A perfect example of this is a fiercely INTERNAL debate of mine… Inbox Zero. As in All.The.Emails processed. Inbox Zero gives me a great sense of satisfaction…but on the other hand…so what? The narrative goes something like this: Your inbox is empty but you didn’t write an assignment for your memoir class. Or you didn’t read a chapter in that book you’ve been meaning to read. You also didn’t try out the new recipe and you missed out on an important conversation with a co-worker. And that big work project…yeah, still not done. In order to accomplish inbox zero, I gave my precious time to busy work and missed out on the places I wanted to go. It’s not so much the quest of the empty inbox but what I exchanged for the empty inbox.
Let’s back up a minute.
Busy work screams for our attention. Electronic media feels urgent. In some cases it is urgent but I think after a deep breath we can all acknowledge that most of it can wait. Email, text messages, social media, errands, phone calls, idle chit-chat, another cup of tea, etc.
I’m suggesting that we make “our places to be – our airplane to catch” THE PRIORITY of our day. Once our priority is accomplished, then we look at the minutiae of everyday living.
Let’s take back our time!!
It starts the night before.
- You sit down and determine your 3-5 most important tasks you want to accomplish. Not the laundry list of things you think you should be doing…but rather the Most.Important.Tasks.(MITs)
- Write down the MITs. Your brain takes you more seriously when you write down the tasks.
- Go to bed knowing you have a plan. You have places to be tomorrow.
* Not sure what your MITs are? A great place to start is thinking about the times you hear yourself say “I don’t have time.”
You have your list – your places to be today. If at all possible, work through your list BEFORE you work through busy work. Sure, glance at the email and text messages to be sure there isn’t a fire somewhere but then return the focus to your objectives, your MITs for the day.
Momentum Method of Habit Change
The momentum method of habit change states that habits can be effectivity built using consistency as a starting point. Momentum is gained by a DAILY PRACTICE. If you are serious about changing your morning routines and breaking the habit of busy work, I suggest you consider the Coach.Me platform. There are hundreds and hundreds of habits you can join for free to build consistency, accountability, and structure to your schedule. As an example, I am currently in a habit titled Limit Email and Social Media. I check in each day I limit my online activity…I’m loving the accountability.
Now get going on your frog for today… you’ve got a plane to catch. Places to be. Goals to accomplish. Dreams to realize.
This is a guest post by NAPO Houston member and President, Liana George, of By George Organizing Solutions.
It’s that time of year again…..time for lunch boxes, backpacks filled with papers, and school buses! Before the first bell rings you’ll want to do a little homework in the area of organization to make sure you and your child are ready for another school year.
Pinterest and Facebook feeds are already filling up with articles, tips and pins to help you start the school year on solid organizational footing – which is great! But as a former teacher and a mother, sometimes outside the box thinking is what can really make your year a greater success.
2 essential back-to-school tips
That’s why I want to share 2 essential back-to-school organizing tips you may not have thought of:
1. Know your child’s organizing style. Because organizing isn’t one size fits all, your child has a particular way to organize based on his/her personality (I promise they do, even if it doesn’t seem like it to you!). Can you recognize if your child:
- likes color-coded binders for each subject rather than just one binder for everything?
- prefers digital calendars to paper ones?
- enjoys studying in the quiet of his/her room or being in the kitchen where you are?
If you can identify you’re child’s organizing style and preferences rather than forcing them to organize like you, their teacher or their classmates, then you’ve taken a huge step towards helping them be organized this school year!
So how do you figure out your child’s organizing style and make it work for them? I suggest reading Lanna Nakone’s book, Every Child Has a Thinking Style. It is one of the best books I know that breaks down personalities, learning styles and thinking styles to help you identify your child’s organizing style. It is a quick read and offers valuable suggestions on how your child can organize their time, paper and space that you can implement during the school year.
Once you better understand how your child organizes based on his/her personality, then the struggle for school organization can be greatly minimized and success can be in your back pocket!
2. Set the example. This one may be a hard pill to swallow, but it is true. If your disorganization keeps you from finding the field trip permission slip that needs to be signed and returned or causes you to forget about the class party you were supposed to bring cookies for, how can you expect your child to find his papers or remember her assignments?
Truth is, kids follow their parent’s examples.
If you want your kids to be organized this school year, show them the importance of an organized lifestyle by living it out yourself. Set up a central Command Center where you keep school papers, create a launch pad for school-related items to “live” to make getting in and out of the house easier, or purge unnecessary items out of your spaces. If your kids see you making an effort to be more organized, you’ll have much greater success in helping them achieve organizational bliss too!
As parents we all want our children to be successful in school. Key to that success is an organized approach to school and learning. Identifying your child’s organizing style can help give them the confidence and the ability to be better organized in and out of class. Modeling an organized lifestyle as a parent will show them the importance of being organized at home, a valuable lesson that will help them in life and in school.
About Liana George of By George Organizing Solutions:
Liana George is a Professional Organizer and the owner of By George Organizing Solutions. In her years of working with clients, she has helped people bring order to their homes and lives with customized solutions, whether it be in their kitchen, their garage or their clothes closets.
In addition to working with clients, Liana also writes organizing blog posts, books and articles, teaches organizing classes and webinars and speaks to numerous groups on a variety of organizing topics. She knows that not everyone may be as passionate about organizing as she is, but she does believe that everyone can be organized. She has been married to her husband, Clint, for over 25 years and together they have 2 wonderful daughters, Kayley and Abbey. When Liana isn’t organizing something, you can find her reading a book, watching or playing tennis, or planning her next diving adventure.
Currently, Liana serves as the NAPO Houston Chapter President.