Archive for May, 2012

Maintenance

May 29, 2012

Earlier in May I was honored to have my garden included in the Atlanta Botanical Garden Tour of Gardens. There were 11 gardens on the tour and those who bought tickets could visit the gardens over the course of two days. As you might imagine I worked really hard (as did our landscape designer – Marcia Weber and her crew) to make our garden the best it could be for the tour. The weather worked against us as it was unseasonably hot in April which forced many plants to bloom earlier than usual. While I admit the roses were not at peak and the azaleas had already come and gone my garden looked really great! The Saturday of the tour was a beautiful day. We had over 1400 people visit our garden. I was outside for part of the time with my dog, Miles. I answered questions if someone wanted to know the name of a plant or how long we’d been working to create the garden.

The truth is that I’m always working in the garden. Some days I do a little weeding or a little clipping. Sometimes I add plants to an area I think needs more color or just more. Sometimes I just walk around and admire one area or another and think to myself ‘Good Job!’ There is always something to do in the garden. The plants grow as do the weeds. I admit that I can’t do it all myself. Marcia Weber’s team is terrific! I do what I can and they help me with the rest.

Maintenance organizing is a bit like maintaining a garden. Sometimes all is takes is a little time to put a few things back where they belong. Sometimes it’s necessary to re-organize a space – move some things around, redefine the use of the space and what can be put there. Maybe you can’t do it all by yourself. Perhaps you need to ask a professional for assistance. There are many reasons to seek assistance from a professional organizer. As a trained professional we can be completely objective. We offer solutions and can provide strategies to make maintaining a system easier. Since life isn’t static and since circumstances change (just like the plants in my garden grow) maintenance is a key component to staying organized in your home.

Closet Organization

May 22, 2012

Do you practice what you preach? I do. Some people give great advice but then don’t apply it to themselves. Recently I decided it was time to reorganize my closet.  When clients ask me about organizing their closet I ask them a few questions….

1. Are there clothes in your closet that don’t fit?

2. If the clothes are too big is it worth the alteration cost to have them fitted?

3. Are there clothes that you haven’t worn for more than one season?

4. Are there items that you simply don’t like?

This past weekend I asked myself these questions. I removed all the clothes that didn’t fit. A few items I put in a pile to take to the seamstress. Then I took a hard look at the rest of the clothes in my closet. There were a few things that I had purchased on a whim, had never worn, and will never wear. Those clothes went into my give away pile. That was hard for me – those clothes were brand new, still with tags, but they were doing me no good hanging in my closet since I was clearly not going to wear them! Lesson to self, do not buy clothes on a whim!

There were a few sentimental dresses. One was the dress my mother had worn at my wedding (almost 34 years ago!). When I was cleaning out my mother’s closet last year I saw that dress and kept it. I thought I might wear it at my son’s wedding last June but it just didn’t look right on me. I kept the dress but it and others with memories were now taking up too much valuable real estate in my closet and I decided that it was time for someone else to make good memories wearing them.

Finally, I inventoried the clothes I was giving away and put them in my car along with the clothes that needed some alterations. A little while later (after a much deserved lunch) I went to the seamstress. I tried on the clothes I thought could be altered. The seamstress agreed with me on some things and told me others were not worth the cost. Those items were added to the clothing inventory.

My next stop was Goodwill. I am happy to know that these clothes (some used, some brand new) would find new homes. When I returned home I gave myself a reward – an hour reading a book outside in my garden! The first step in my closet reorganization had been completed!. After my reward I moved on to the second and final step. Sometimes it’s a good idea to do these steps on different days. I was on a roll and wanted to really complete this project. The next step also involves answering some questions. They are:

1. Can you easily find the item of clothing you are looking for?

2. Do you like to have all your shirts (blouses) together or do you like to sort them by sleeve length and then by color?

3. Is it easier to keep the suits (jacket and slacks) or (jacket and skirt) on the same hanger?

4. Do you want to separate “knock around” clothes from work clothes?

5. Do you need different hangers?

Once I had answered these questions (and to be honest, my closet was almost exactly the way I wanted it) I moved a few things around. I determined it is easier for me to have the jackets with the jackets and not to have them paired with either skirts or slacks to make a suit. I like to mix and match my outfits so, for me, it was more effort to separate the suits when they were put together that way. It took me another hour or so to finish tweaking my closet. I worked hard but it was worth the effort. My project is finished. I can find what I am looking for in my closet. AND I had accomplsihed my goal to reorganize my closet and that was a wonderful feeling!

What do I do first?

May 1, 2012

I am often asked this question by some clients with lengthy ‘to-do’ lists and by other clients with multiple large scale projects to complete. I do not answer this question directly rather ask my clients to think through the process of prioritizing. They define for me (and in that process clarify to themselves) the importance of the project. Is it time sensitive? What is the ripple effect of this project? Does a colleague’s project hinge on the completion of this project?  What will happen if this project is delayed in order to finish another project? Is this project something the client wants to do for himself or is someone else asking this project be done?

Once these questions are answered I ask my client to look at his calendar. I am a firm believer that nothing happens unless it is scheduled. The trick is to be careful not to schedule so many things into a time slot (or into a day) that you become overwhelmed just looking at your daily calendar. Another trick is to group like things. In other words, if my client has several phone calls to make on his ‘to-do’list I suggest he set aside a block of time and make all those calls. Next, look at the errands that are on a ‘to-do’ list. Are there any errands in the same vicinity? Which ones can be easily done one after the other? It saves my clients time to organize their calls and errands this way.

Something else to consider, when my client has a large scale project that is overwhelming the best tip I can give is to break the project down into manageable parts. Look at the pieces of the project separately and decide when to start. Assign a little time each day until that portion of the project is finished. Set a timer for 20 minutes when the timer rings come to a logical stopping point and walk away from the project. Maybe take care of one or two small tasks. Then begin the next part of the project. Do this until the entire project is finished. Believe me, you’ll be finished before you know it because it’s not overwhelming when broken apart into manageable pieces.

If you are asking “What do I do first?” see if answering the questions I pose my clients help you arrive at a starting point.