Her Secret Revealed! I was an Organized Pack Rat

When I started as a Professional Organizer over 10 years ago, I freely admit that I was a Pack Rat. To say “an organized Pack Rat” may be redundant. As defined in the Urban Dictionary, a pack rat is “A person who can not throw away anything that, in their mind has value of any kind, and so begin meticulously filing away, in the style of the pack rat found in nature.”Organed and labeled The actual pack rat, found in nature, “builds complex houses or dens made of twigs, cactus joints, and other materials. These contain several nest chambers, food caches, and debris piles. …They use plant material such as branches, twigs, sticks, and other available debris. …They are particularly fond of shiny objects.”

I wouldn’t say shiny objects have any particular appeal, but, I did place too much value on too many possessions, all similarly well organized and labeled in my closets, cabinets and garage. In my self-diagnosis, I surmise that this rooting away of stuff derived from my early days living in a large family where we had limited space, inevitable clutter, lots of hand-me-downs and not much new.

Most of us Organizers have a logical brain, strong spatial skills and a capacity to organize that makes it easy, even fun, for us. Yet decluttering always involves letting go. The more I organized, the more I would come home from a client motivated to let go in my own space, While my past helps me to understand the connections and emotions my clients attach to their stuff, working with them helps me identify my own attachments and let go. I’m certainly not a minimalist now, but I have eliminated over 50% of my possessions, am wildly more mobile and have significantly downsized my living space. That will continue. I used to take pleasure in acquiring and putting away. I now take pleasure in eliminating and letting go.

Here’s the real secret: Letting go is key!

spark joyThat means coming from a place of abundance. It means getting arrogant about myself and who I am. I’m too busy and too fabulous to have things that “I might need someday” and to optimistic to worry about “what if”. As I tell my clients, I get brutal about my stuff to be kind to myself. This ensures I keep only what serves me, what I love, and what I need now. Nothing else is in the way of my brilliant life flow.  Like Marie Kondo says in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (2011), simply ask “does it spark joy”. And no worries – Ms. Kondo and I both agree – it gets easier.

Get started. Ask if it serves you, if it sparks joy. Pack rat be gone!

Have you started yet? Is it getting easier?

Part 2: Lighten Up, Brighten Up, Tighten up – Clutter Out! The Drink Move Dance Edition

This is the second part in my series on de-cluttering systemically, in celebration of our new BALANCE mobile-friendly website launch! Getting organized is not just about stuff and possessions. It’s about clearing up any clogged up areas in your life, even internally. So, starting with YOU, I give you 3 more things you can do… Continue Reading

Robinson Crusoe and Essential Organizing

Essential Organizing! While visiting my mother recently, I picked up a few of the books I had read and loved when I was young. One of them was Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, which I recently read again. It is still a wonderful story of one man’s journey being washed ashore onto a small desolate… Continue Reading

Organized Cooking – Get Your Mise en Place!

Another Kitchen entry inspired by Bon Appétit Magazine. More great ideas for maintaining order in your kitchen. Top chef, Thomas Keller of renowned restaurants (The French Laundry – Yountville, CA and Per Se – Manhatten, NYC), says it’s “about having everything you need before you start cooking: picturing every task involved in creating a dish… Continue Reading

Top Chef Wisdom for an Organized Kitchen

Besides enjoying remarkable food, one of my favorite things about restaurant eating, when the kitchen is in view, is seeing the orderly, mostly low-tech and typically small spaces from which they operate. From an Organizer’s perspective, It’s art, the efficiency and flow of the production that happens there. A Bon Appétit article enlightened me to… Continue Reading