365 Let Go Project

Written by Laurie Palau. Posted in BLOG: A Life More Organized

One of our SBO Partners, Erin Barbot, of Erin Barbot & Co in Silver Springs, MD, just completed a yearlong decluttering project in her own home, and documented her progress on Instagram for all of us to see. I was so impressed with this simple, yet effective approach, that I asked her to write about her experience. You can also listen to our conversation on my podcast, This ORGANIZED Life.

Here is Erin’s story:

If you followed me on Instagram or Facebook in 2017, you know that I created a project for myself that I called #365letgo. Even though I pride myself on decluttering on a regular basis, and have even made a career out of helping others do the same, I found myself encountering possessions around my house that no longer served a purpose or brought me joy. I decided to make my purge a daily habit for an entire year, and document my choices online to share what I learned and to keep myself honest :).

The idea was simple: each day, I let go of at least one item and documented what it was, why it no longer served me, and how I planned on getting it out of my house. Needless to say, this disciplined process of letting go proved to be quite a journey and learning experience for me, and I hope all of you who followed me throughout the year got some inspiration along the way.

Erin’s Takeaways from her year-long experiment:

1. Hiding in plain sight. Even though I edit our home on a regular basis, to my surprise, we still had a lot of stuff that we didn’t use, we didn’t need, we didn’t like, or was in bad shape and needed to be replaced with something higher-quality and longer-lasting. Every day we came across things we had overlooked, and the discipline helped carry us through the few days when we thought we’d finally run out of stuff to let go of!

2.  Flexibility is key. I originally set out to not only get rid of one item a day, but to also get rid of something additional if I made a purchase (one in/one out). I quickly realized this was not attainable for us. It was too much to keep track of and took the pleasure out of getting anything new, even if it was important or necessary. While I believe we need to be thoughtful about our purchases, the act of bringing something new into our homes should still bring us joy and not feel like a chore or some kind of karmic burden.

3. We didn’t regret a single thing we got rid of. Sure there are a couple items that pull at my heartstrings a little to think about, but I still wouldn’t bring them back into our house.

4. I knew this from helping sell my clients’ stuff, but learned it more acutely when it was my own: unless you have a ton of spare time, selling your stuff is not often worth the effort. If you assign your own time with a dollar amount (easy to do if you have your own business) and think through the time it takes you to post, manage responses, package, and ship your stuff, it’s rarely worth your while. Exceptions include brand new items or high-end name-brand pieces that are in great condition.

5. Getting rid of small items that fill up drawers and bottoms of bins and baskets, like hundreds of paper clips or rubber bands, gave me the most satisfaction. Sometimes this stuff can be the most tiring and tedious to go through, but it really adds up to clutter and gets in the way of finding and enjoying what you have.

6. It was both harder and easier than I thought to work with my 3-year-old on letting go of some of her things. Some items I just got rid of without a word and she didn’t notice or care. On occasion, she asked me where some other items were, and I had to tell her that we gave them to someone else who doesn’t have as many toys as she does. A couple of times she got upset, others she didn’t. I will admit this got in my head a little and I had to stay committed to my goal and not let her potentially getting upset distract me. At the end of the day, I know that her not being overwhelmed with tons of toys is better for her and our family, so I just had to keep reminding myself of that. As a side note, I did have to get sneaky with where I put the donation pile, because once she saw something in there, she would take it out again.

7. Make a list of where you like to take things: charities, neighbors and family members, hazardous materials dump, technology recycling, etc. Knowing in advance where you want things to end up will make it much easier to get started.

8. Designate a space in your home where you keep donations before you are able to handle their disposal. In other words, you don’t need to drive to the Goodwill every day, but you should physically move the items you want to let go out of your daily living space and into a designated container or area of a less used room (laundry room, basement, shed, or garage, for example).

9. Biggest reminder and lesson: This process never ends. If you go through a decluttering project and then a year later are frustrated that you have too much stuff again, note the last time you really took a look at what you’re keeping. With stuff constantly coming in, wear and tear, and tastes changing, the passage of things through your life truly needs to use a revolving door.

Thank you again to everyone who followed along and supported me. It was a really fun project and I’m excited to keep the process going on my end. Happy new year, and happy editing!


If you’d like to see exactly what Erin purged,  I encourage you to follow her at @erinbarbotandco on Instagram and Facebook, and look for the #365letgo hashtag.

5 Things to Purge in 2018

Written by Laurie Palau. Posted in BLOG: A Life More Organized, Getting Organized

This is my last blog post of 2017, and throughout the year I often listen and reflect upon the comments, questions and feedback I get from you, our clients, listeners and readers. Although everyone struggles with different areas of clutter or disorganization, the one thing that all of us have in common is the desire to live simply, yet it’s often difficult to articulate what that really means.

I was recently interviewed by Alicia Vitarelli from 6ABC on my top 5 list of things to purge as we enter 2018.  The more we can reduce physical and emotional clutter from our lives, the lighter we feel. A couple of my answers may seem cliché, but a few may surprise you. 

   1Toxic People: You know who they are. The people who put you down, people who are too needy, people who don’t value your time. Life is too short to not spend it with people who value you, and who bring value into your life.

   2. Unnecessary Paper: 80% of the paper we keep we will never look at again-that’s a LOT of waste! In my book, HOT MESS: A Practical Guide to Getting Organized I have a whole cheat sheet of what to purge and what to keep. FEAR often holds us back, but once you have permission to let things go, it makes it easier.

   3. Excess Social Media: In this day and age, it’s almost impossible to avoid social media, nor am I suggesting you should. However, if you can be mindful of limiting screen time, you will be amazed at how much extra time you will have in a day to do things that really matter to you.

   4. Clothes from the 20th Century: We’re all guilty of holding onto things for the wrong reasons. Whether it’s the guilt of donating something that cost a fortune, or the “what if” factor that it may come back into style, these items can handcuff us emotionally. My general rule of thumb is that unless it’s a keepsake, the stuff that you’re not wearing needs to go.

   5. Guilt. Nothing weighs us down more than regret. Things we should have done, or things we wish we didn’t say.  Good News! Each day we are given a do-over.  If you feel compelled to apologize to someone you wronged, say you’re sorry; the worst thing you can do is live in the past with remorse.

People are always asking me my thoughts about New Year’s Resolutions. As I shared in episode 054 of This ORGANIZED Life Podcast, if you want to resolve to make a change in your life, GREAT!, but, there’s no need to put pressure on yourself simply because the calendar says January 1st.

That being said, in 2018 I will be sharing 365 days of gratitude on instagram. It’s something that I personally want to do, so I will be sharing something each day through my personal page @organizingmaster,  feel free to follow along!

You’re Getting Warmer….

Written by Laurie Palau. Posted in BLOG: A Life More Organized, Favorite Products, Getting Organized, Organizing Apps

Tile App: Redefining Lost & Found


Do you remember when you were little and you used to play the game Hot Potato?  One person would hide something and then the other person would search for it while the hider would eagerly announce “WARMER!” or “COLDER!” as the seeker would search for the item. As a child, this is a fun and entertaining game, even humorous at times, watching the seeker go completely out of their way looking for something that was in different location.

Fast forward to your life today; have you ever tried to get out the door to work, or take the kids to school, but can’t find your keys or your phone? You search all of the logical places to no avail, and your frustration mounts. How you wish at that moment that you had someone guiding you, letting you know if you are getting “warmer.”

Thankfully, one of my favorite gifts this season was the Tile Pro Series. It’s a tracker for your belongings. Use it to track almost anything, including your phone, keys, purse, laptop, backpack, or luggage.  It works off of bluetooth, and literally with the press of a button you will be notified by sound and signal if you are getting closer, until you locate your item.

I’ll let you all in on a little secret…when I’m onsite with clients, I am constantly misplacing my keys-just ask my assistant, Erika!  I’ll leave them in my workbag, inside a jacket pocket, or buried inside my purse.  Ironically, when I’m at home I know exactly where my keys are, but when I’m out, I’m often distracted, and as a result, I’ll arbitrarily place them without thought.  Has that ever happened to you?

As much as I’d like to believe that I will never misplace my keys again, I know that’s not reality, so why not reduce stress and save time by attaching this little square to my key ring?  The setup was so easy, all I had to do is download the app, enter my name and email, and attach the tile to my keys. No fancy tech set up required!  There are multiple versions available based on your needs and lifestyle. See which one is best for you by clicking here.  Tile is available for both iPhone & android users.

 

 

 

 


*I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own.

Our Clutter Free Gift Guide As Seen On 6abc

Written by Laurie Palau. Posted in BLOG: A Life More Organized, Holiday Organization, Media

‘Tis the season!  

There’s a reason that it’s called the Spirit of Giving, it makes us feel good to spread joy to others. Yet somewhere along the way the tables turned, and the season of giving became a pressure-filled month of Black Friday sales and Cyber Monday deals where we end up buying more stuff that we don’t need.

I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t give or receive presents. Who doesn’t like unwrapping a gift, or watching the look of excitement on someone’s face when you surprise them with something they weren’t expecting?!

This year I decided to make a clutter-free gift guide filled with ideas for the whole family. Last week, I shared some of my tips with Alicia Vitarelli, from 6abcactionnews.  You can check out the segment here:

1. Experiences:  Who doesn’t love tickets to a show, concert or sporting event?  This is a not only a great gift, but a wonderful bonding experience and a chance to make lasting memories. 

2. Classes: Ever want to learn how to play an instrument? Take a cooking class or learn how to Tango?  Sometimes our “bucket list” items take a back seat to everyday life, so why not gift your loved one something they’ve always wanted to try!

3. Memberships:  This is a great one for kids.  Think zoo, aquarium, or museum.  Think of all those winter weekends when you are trapped inside and looking for something to do?  Ongoing memberships are the gift that keeps on giving all through the year!

4. Self Care: Spa treatments, personal training or even a professional organizer (hint! hint!) are a few examples of luxury items that we would love to indulge, but time, money and guilt often stand in the way.  Why not use the holidays as an excuse to splurge your loved ones.

5. Subscription Services:  Everywhere you turn these days there is another subscription service on the market, why not give the gift that keeps on giving month after month? Who wouldn’t love getting fresh flowers each month, a free meal delivery service, or a 3 month subscription to a wine club.

6. Digital Gifts: There’s no mistaking we live in a digital age. From kids to grandparents, everyone has a device (or two). From phones, to ipads, to laptops we use our devices for more than phone calls and checking email.  Netflix, Audible, Kindle or eReader subscriptions to magazine or newspapers are wonderful gifts for the tech lover in your world.

7. Gift Cards: Think gas cards, a gift certificate to getting your car detailed, a pack of movie tickets or a starbuck’s gift card (my 17 year old would love that!)

8. Service Gifts:  We are all busy with our daily lives and sadly our weekends are far from relaxing. Don’t underestimate the value of a cleaning service, lawn care service, or snow removal service.

9. The Gift of Time: In this hectic world we live in, uninterrupted time is priceless. Don’t underestimate the value of an afternoon lunch date, a trip to the park, or a bike ride.

10. The Gift of Giving: Donating money to a charity, or gently used items to those who are less fortunate, is a great way for you to give to others in need. We recently partnered with Second Chance Toys, and organization that donates gently used toys to inner city programs. Not only does this help others, but allows you to declutter your house for  a great cause!

Whatever gifts you give or receive, always remember the real meaning of the season.  

 

 

 

 

P.S.  If you are looking for a last minute stocking stuffer, consider picking up a copy of my new book, HOT MESS: A Practical Guide to Getting Organized. A portion of all book sales each month are donated to charity. This month we are donating to The St. Baldrick’s Foundation which provides much needed funding for Pediatric Cancer Research.

Creating an Organized + Inspiring Home Office

Written by Laurie Palau. Posted in BLOG: A Life More Organized, Office Storage

Today’s blog post is courtesy of one of our Partners, Katie Siefermann, founder & CEO of Fall Into Place Organizing in Denver, Colorado. Follow her on social media and check out her website for additional inspiration!


Working from home. A love-hate thing, right? You love the flexibility and comfort, but hate how hard it feels to be productive at times. As you try to wrap up an urgent project, you have dishes, laundry and piles of paperwork staring at you from your dining table. That cluttered view is not only distracting and uninspiring, but causes undue stress as your to-do list suddenly feels never-ending.

Speaking from experience living and working in a busy household, I have learned the value of setting up a dedicated home office. Now I love helping my clients create their dream workspaces as a professional organizer in Denver. Here are some of my favorite tips to help you set up a home office where you feel happy, calm, organized and inspired to be your most productive, creative self! A space that you love and can call your own.

1. Start big picture by considering optimal function + layout of your office furniture.

⋅ Choose a desk with drawers to store frequently needed supplies out of sight but within reach, allowing for a clutter-free desktop.

⋅Create a surface for materials needed in your workflow by using an L-shaped desk or forming a makeshift “L” by adjoining a table, filing cabinet or bookshelf to one side of the desk (choose position based on whether you are right- or left-handed).

⋅Position your chair and desk to face an inspiring view (window, artwork or whiteboard with business goals) and/or the door (Feng Shui bonus points!).

*photo courtesy of Pinterest

 

 

2. Create practical + dedicated homes for all work-related items.

⋅Use containers such as drawer organizers, magazine files, trays or binders to store frequently needed items close by. Don’t be afraid to splurge on some new office supplies that spark joy and motivate you to keep things in order.

⋅Create a “paper action station” for incoming paperwork that needs processing, based on whether you are a “filer” or a “piler.” Think vertical (desktop file box) if you are a filer and horizontal (stacking trays) if you are a piler.

⋅Label, label, label! Don’t forget to label your containers so you know exactly where things belong and can easily maintain your systems.

*photo courtesy of Pinterest

 

 

 

3. Decorate using colors + details that inspire you.

⋅Paint the room a color that evokes the emotion you want to feel when working. Blue is a popular office color that can improve productivity. Keep in mind that bright colors tend to be stimulating while softer hues tend to be calming.

⋅Accent the room with colors and images you love using throw pillows, lamps and wall art. Plants are also a wonderful addition to bring life into your workspace.

⋅Display objects that motivate you and help you focus, such as a favorite book, a scented candle or an inspiring quote. Keep open shelves minimal to help maintain mental clarity while working.

*photo courtesy of Pinterest

 

 

 

Whether you are modifying your current office or starting from scratch, it’s a worthwhile investment of your time and energy to create an organized home office that you love. You will notice the difference when your productivity, success and overall happiness soar!


For more tips from to help you create an orderly, calm and inspired life, visit Katie’s website and subscribe to her newsletter , or follow Fall Into Place Organizing on Instagram or Facebook. If you are interested in working with Katie locally in Denver or virtually from afar, be sure to check out her professional organizing services for home, work and life.