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Organizing an organized person

So I thought I was organized. I’m a mother, wife, and school librarian, for Pete’s sake! I often juggle many balls at the same time, so I must be organized … right?!?! Then my friend Jeannie Triezenberg of Hire Order comes to visit. Our plan is to enjoy a girlfriend weekend together. Which we do. With benefits.

A couple weeks before Jeannie’s arrival, my husband says, “I hate this cabinet!” as he tries to find a used plastic grocery bag. I tell him not to worry … Jeannie will be here soon. So I’m thinking I’ll ask her to organize that one cabinet. Which I do. And she does. My husband is very happy. Then I happen to open a cabinet near that one, and Jeannie kindly asks if I’d like help with that cabinet. I never thought that cabinet really needed organizing, until I looked at it a bit more closely. So Jeannie started on that one. She would take everything out of the cabinet, use 409 and a paper towel to wipe it out, and ask me to go through everything. I made 3 piles: things to throw away, things to give away, and things to keep. Jeannie took the ‘keep’ things and put them away nicely and neatly in the cabinet. Here’s what she didn’t do: laugh at the things in the keep pile. Or laugh at the things in the other 2 piles. She would say that this is my house, and I could keep and get rid of whatever I wanted. I never felt small or criticized for what I wanted to keep or get rid of. She never talked down to me, nor giggled or rolled her eyes at the sidewalk chalk above the microwave. She was the poster child of professionalism.

By the time the weekend was over, we had gone through every cabinet and drawer in our spacious kitchen. Since we recently had to count the cabinets and drawers to purchase new handles for them, I know there are exactly 57. That’s a lot of places to store things! We no longer have arts and crafts in the ‘prime real estate’ drawers, as Jeannie calls them, near the oven and counter where the real kitchen work happens. We no longer have to hunt through a foot-deep pile of utensils for the lemon zester since the utensils are now housed in the prime real estate drawers near the place where they’ll be used. We no longer have napkins in 3 different cabinets. We no longer have the turkey roasting bags in the pantry and the turkey roaster in the basement. But probably the best thing I learned during this weekend was how to organize things myself. Jeannie didn’t just do it for me … she taught me how to do it for myself. Rather than giving me fish for dinner, she taught me how to fish! We were going to work on my closet, but I told her I already did it. Since I had paid attention to our work in the kitchen, I knew what to do in my closet.

And with Jeannie’s help, I’ve applied the same approach to the school library where I work. The aide who has worked there for 16 years (this is just my 2nd year there) didn’t even notice anymore that the batteries were all mixed up, glue sticks could be found in 3 different drawers, and that we had copies of reports from the ‘90’s. She now makes sure that her work area is clear before she leaves, and of course I do the same. It’s a whole new approach. We work more efficiently when our work areas are organized.

Now I can say that I really am organized, thanks to Jeannie Triezenberg and Hire Order. My friends here in Denver are envious when I tell them the work that Jeannie and I did in my house. Everyone wants an organizer, and there are none better than Jeannie. And the crazy thing is, she really likes organizing! She’s a lucky gal to be doing what she loves. And I’m a lucky gal to have her as my friend.


Helping to cope with a loss

Losing a loved one is never easy, but losing a spouse can be devastating. Your husband or wife was your best friend, confidante and partner in life. Once the funeral is over, picking up the pieces of your life can be difficult. Joann and her husband were married 26 years when he passed away in September 2007. Because he was responsible for paying the bills and maintaining much of the finances, Joann found that paperwork was piling up and she was having a difficult time coping with it all.

When her father-in-law passed away just two months later in December 2008, she became completely overwhelmed. Joann called me because she saved one of my brochures that had been given to her by a friend in her bunko group. At first, Joann was hesitant and very wary about asking an “outsider” into her home. Being in the medical field, she was familiar with all the laws governing privacy. Confidentiality was extremely important to her because the information that she would be organizing was so personal.

After our initial free consultation, I saw Joann relax and the worry started to melt away. When I arrived at her home the first day, the desk was covered in paper, so we started there first. In starting a job with a new client, I begin by having a conversation with them. We talk about how the space is working, and more importantly, what is not working. We categorized papers, purged and then made file folders for what remained so every piece of paper has its place. That way, when more paperwork arrives, you have a place to file it. The piles on Joann’s desk soon began to shrink and the stack of organized file folders began to grow.

After putting her paperwork in order, we began on her father-in-law’s box of bills. We managed his items in the same way, so now Joann has a separate box for any letters or correspondence that might arrive pertaining to him.

Joann noticed the difference in her life when she gathered information for her taxes. She found that because everything was in its place, it was accessible and made the task of assembling information so much easier. 

We didn’t stop at her desk; we also organized her entire home. She never had a place for all her bedding, so we used a back closet in the newly converted guest room, which received custom-made shelves created by a handyman that was referred to Joann by Hire Order. We also found a place for all her holiday decorations.

Joann said, “I had so much coming at me at once and I just needed some support and direction. Jeannie provided that. She is very good about utilizing things you already have in your home. I used what I had around in my house to solve the situation. I would refer Jeannie in a minute. She’s a great person.”

Joann said that it was hard to get her life on track after she lost her husband. I’m very glad she called because I was able to take away the worry and pass along organizational skills that will help her not only today, but into the future. She’s even passed along some of the organizing tips she learned from me to her own mother!


Frank's Transformation:

It doesn't have to be flawless...

When people think about getting organized, many times they get defeated before they even start.  I call this “ but there’s too much” syndrome.  You take a look at that basement or that closet and say ‘but there’s just too much stuff.  I don’t even know where to begin.’  The sense of dread and overwhelming takes over and you close the door or walk out of the room.  Nothing gets closer to being organized, and on top of that, you tend to feel guilty about not getting it done…again.

But I’m here to tell you a little unknown secret…come closer…don’t want everyone to hear…ready?... You don’t have to make everything ideal. Yep, that’s the big secret. AND “ideal” can mean different things to different people. Take Frank’s case. After many years of living in the same home, he decided to sell his house. But his basement was full, and I mean full. Not of ‘junk’ but of all the things Frank and his family wanted, but the problem was they just couldn’t walk into their basement anymore and the Realtor said it 'had to go'. They needed a way, not to purge what they had, but organize what they had. So they could showcase their house and their basement in the best light for selling. The current condition would not allow potential buyers to 'see' the large basement and the added value to the home. Upon the advise of the Realtor, they decided to hire a professional organizer but they didn’t have a lot of money. Frank figured they HAD to do something to get the best price for the house, so at least they had to get their project started. When Frank and I met, I made it clear to him that organizing didn’t always mean flawless, which meant less time was needed, and therefore a smaller budget. Frank thought that was great. He was apprehensive about a total reorganization of his items anyway so an “ideal for me” organization seemed to be the best fit.

We got to work and when about half the items were moved and organized, and a clear walkway path was established in the basement, Frank was thrilled!  By no means would a professional organizer think this basement was the very best/most organized basement they had ever seen, but Frank thought it was and so would a potential buyer looking at this now organized basement.  His ideal was just what he got: Organization of his family’s items and walking room to the washer/dryer, showcasing the basement in the best possible light.  He didn’t need or want the traditional label-maker marked plastic bins and so much organization that no item touched the floor.  Frank's Realtor also commented how easily a potential buyer could now see how much storage was available in this home - a great selling point!

So the next time you go in your basement or closet and start feeling the “but there’s too much” syndrome, especially if you're moving, think of Frank, it doesn’t have to be ideal, just better than it was.


Moving Day can be a Breeze

Imagine moving into a new home, having all your boxes unpacked and your entire home organized in less than two days. When you call Hire Order, we make it happen!

Beth and her family were moving and Beth remembered how long it took her to completely unpack all her boxes the last time they moved - it seemed like three years! She wanted to move into her new house and hit the ground running by being organized from Day One. She was referred to me by GraceAnn Simoni, an interior redesigner, who helped stage Beth’s home for sale. We often work together to successfully move clients into their new homes.

When moving day came, we were at Beth’s house unpacking boxes as the movers delivered them. As we unpacked, we found places for everything, whether it was the kitchen, bedrooms or basement. The most important rooms in your house are the kitchen and bathrooms, so we organize those first. Every shelf and drawer needs a theme and a logical location, such as pots and pans near the stove, canned goods on a shelf, the breakfast food in another spot and even snacks have their own place. Every kitchen has its own personality and we organize it for each particular family. Linen closets are important, too, and decisions should be made about how many sets of sheets and towels you really need.

By using this method, and by receiving input from the homeowner, we had Beth’s kitchen up and running within a few hours. We also organized her basement, which can sometimes be a catchall for miscellaneous items. Another service we offer is taking away the boxes. Within a day and a half, her new four bedroom house was entirely organized and there was not one box to be found.

Beth said that her household was much more chaotic before she called Hire Order. She wanted everything to have its place, but needed some help. Her friends and family are amazed that this family of four is completely moved in. Beth still had one closet that seemed to attract clutter, so I’ve been back to help her organize that.

After living in her new home for a couple of months now, Beth notices that her day-to-day life is simpler. “What seems like a daunting task to me is a very simple process to Jeannie. She doesn't just come in and tell you what to do; she does the work with you, all at a very reasonable cost in my opinion. She was patient and had a way of making me feel at ease about choosing what to hold onto and what could go away. Plus, the return on investment is priceless. I'll never put off an organizational project again, because I know I can call her. My advice is, call Jeannie!”

Moving can be one of the most stressful times in your life, but it doesn’t have to be. We can help you move with minimal interruption of your family’s busy schedule. With one phone call, we can help you organize your belongings before the move by helping you stage a clutter-free home that is attractive to buyers, and we can help you organize your belongings during and after the move, so you can enjoy stress-free living – just like Beth!


Finally ready to Organize

Liz was ready. She’d had enough. Liz lived in a two-bedroom condo with her cat, Baby, and a lot of clutter. Liz loves to do crafts - lots of different crafts - and they were taking over her life and her home. She loves to watch the cleaning and organizing shows on television, but watching them wasn’t enough. After a few unsuccessful attempts on her own, Liz remembered that she had taken a class led by me at Harper College and even won a one-hour consultation. She also remembered how that one hour spent with a professional had made such a difference. She decided that it was time she made an investment in herself and her home and made the call.

We worked together for four short days and did every room. Since Liz had the supplies for a number of different types of crafts, she made decisions on which ones no longer interested her and donated those items to friends, classmates and others who were interested. She also donated five boxes of books to a local library. Liz said that in the past she had gotten rid of things, but then purchased more because there was no closure. She said it was important for her to take ownership of the decision-making process by keeping or discarding the items that would affect her life that day and into the future.

When organizing your belongings, think about it logically. Labeling each container helps maintain organization, as does adding shelving to store the containers. Liz took a guest room closet and transformed it to her craft haven. Instead of having any hanging storage in this closet, she installed shelving to keep all of her well-marked containers for her craft supplies. Now Liz follows this simple rule: when something comes in, something has to go out. She has also made it her new habit to “just put it away.” That advice worked for Liz, and today her craft room and closets remain organized.

Liz said her experience with Hire Order was “life changing. It was the best thing I ever did.”

Sometimes too much of a good thing is just too much, so it’s essential to work together with your organizer to make decisions about what you want to keep, what can be donated, and what can be discarded. Simplifying your life makes it that much easier to stay organized.


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