If “getting organized” is one of those New Year’s resolutions you seem to make each year without much progress, professional organizer Lauren Wolf can relate.
After spending time at home when she left her full-time job in July, Wolf realized that her house was utterly disorganized.
“Every room was a hot-mess room,” she says. “I felt as if I couldn’t find anything.”
What mainly motivated this Leland-based wife and mother were the growing piles of papers she had everywhere – in her purse, in the upstairs’ closet, in shoeboxes. Checks would be lost, bills would be late, and every time the mail came Wolf would get stressed. With two children, and her daughter having Type 1 diabetes, Wolf had trouble keeping track of their school and medical papers to a point where she felt little control over her family’s needs.
“(Paper) was the bane of my existence,” she says.
Deciding to take control, Wolf learned as much as she could about organizing from podcasts, books, and blog posts before finding The Sunday Basket workshop by Lisa Woodruff of Organize 365 which helped her tackle her paper predicament.
“I went from not having anything organized to getting myself and my paper organized,” Wolf says. Setting aside time once a week to sort her papers and organizing files into binders were a few key ways that helped Wolf be more productive and less stressed.
In October, after completing a month-long program through Organize 365 and taking multiple classes to teach others about organization, Wolf became a certified organizer and started her own business called Her Kind By Design.
“The thing that you fear becomes the thing that you love and want to share with other people,” Wolf says.
Wolf takes time during her initial, free consultation to look at a client’s space or problem area and talk about their goals. She’ll work hands-on with clients in full-day, half-day, or hourly increments to declutter, organize, and increase a space’s functionality.
Serving the greater Cape Fear region, Wolf helps her clients with their organizing needs especially for home and paper, kids’ school and artwork, and photos and memorabilia.
A lover of poetry, Wolf named her business after the Anne Sexton poem “Her Kind” as a way to relate to her clients who might feel ashamed of or lost in their clutter.
“I wasn’t born organized, but I’ve been there, I’ve been her kind,” she says.
Here are Wolf’s top five tips to help you reach your organizing goals this new year and to “Declutter the junk, uncover the joy,” as her business mantra states.
1) Start with paper.
“Paper was my fear and became my passion,” Wolf relates.
When she organized her paper trail, Wolf was confident in knowing where important documents were and wasn’t wasting time looking for lost items.
Using The Sunday Basket method, Wolf suggests designating a container for weekly mail, to-dos, and actionable papers in the kitchen or a frequented space. Divide the container into files or binders based on your needs. Once a week on a determined day and time, go through the papers and decide what “offers” the papers call for.
Wolf created the acronym AWFRS (sounds like “offers”) to determine what actions to take:
A-Act on this paper
W-Wait until next week to act
In her weekly paper container, Wolf also has a taxes folder that she fills throughout the year with tax receipts, W-2s, and anything she might need for tax season.
“No more scrambling at the end of the year,” she says.
For important papers that don’t need weekly reviewing, create household binders with page protectors. Wolf says their portability is convenient for bringing the information to a doctor’s appointment, bank, or parent-teacher conference.
2) Organize your clothes closet.
A good time to go through your clothes is with a change of season, Wolf says. But to make the process more effective, she suggests taking every item of clothing out of your closet and trying each piece on. If something doesn’t fit or is out of style, this will help you decide what to keep or donate.
Sort clothes by type then color to make it easier when putting an outfit together or keeping inventory.
“By hanging all your pants, dresses, skirts, tops, cardigans together you can get a clear sense of what you have or need to buy,” Wolf says.
3) Break it down into manageable tasks.
“Organizing a whole house or even a whole room can be overwhelming,” Wolf admits.
Instead of going all out, start with the most-used room or space in the house. Even taking 10 to 15 minutes to organize a drawer, corner or shelf will do.
Wolf says breaking down big goals into actionable tasks creates little victories along the way to keep you motivated. Take before and after pictures to see your progress, too.
“It is amazing what you can accomplish, even your kids, in a short set amount of time,” Wolf says.
Set a timer, put on music, and get the kids involved with a family organizing party. Letting them declutter and organize their rooms, too, creates good habits and organized mindsets.
4) Declutter and sort by category.
“Once I got all my paper in one place…then I felt I could really tackle it,” she says.
First put all similar items – like shoes, office supplies, books, or purses – in one location to sort through them. Then assign a place for them where they will be most used or needed. Wolf organizes her family’s everyday shoes in a hall closet, crocs in the garage, and her high heels in the master closet.
By creating designated areas for each item, Wolf says it takes up less space in your mind so that you’re not wondering where something is.
“You’re decluttering your mind as much as you’re decluttering your physical space,” she says.
To make things even simpler, use clear storage bins – one of Wolf’s must-have organizing items. Tape an index card to the box with a list of what’s inside so you don’t have to take the box down and open it.
5) Plan tomorrow’s top 3 to-dos.
If organizing your time is a challenge, try planning ahead.
“Every minute you spend in planning saves you 10 minutes in execution,” Wolf quotes author Brian Tracy.
Set aside five minutes in the evening to plan your tasks for the next day and keep the list with you to check off items as they’re completed. Wolf writes her three most important tasks in different color ink at the top of her daily to-do list.
Instead of losing time trying to remember what needs to be done, Wolf says writing her top priorities helps keep her mind focused.
The most important tip Wolf stresses is to remember that organization is not a final destination.
“Organizing is a learned process,” she says. “What works for you today might not work six months from now.”
Decluttering and organization lead to productivity, Wolf says, but it takes the right mindset, and sometimes the help of a friend or professional, to reach your goals.
To learn more about how Lauren Wolf can help you get organized, visit www.herkindbydesign.com or call 910-297-4576.