One of the biggest challenges most people face is staying organized. It’s also one of the biggest new year’s resolutions for those who resolve to start their new year off clutter-free. But, for many, it’s an elusive process that either starts off strong and fizzles out, or seems so daunting a task that they don’t know where to begin.
Enter Krista Colvin, lifestyle expert, Founder of Organize in Style LLC and creator of The Shebang, The Smart Woman’s Guide to Doing It All, who sees your clutter as a canvas for crafting a well organized masterpiece that’s as eco-friendly as it is stylish. Best of all, she offers practical solutions that are easy to implement — and maintain — and will save you precious hours to boot. With Krista’s help, the only thing you’ll need to think about is what to do with all that extra time!
You are an organizing diva, and manage the Organize in Style blog in addition to creating The Shebang, The Smart Woman’s Guide to Doing it All. How did you get into organizing and what do you love most about it?
After teaching high school for 13 years, I decided to take what I dubbed my “Domestic Diva” leave of absence. A year into it, I got antsy. It was while watching HGTV that I discovered professional organizing as a profession. From there I launched Organize in Style, my consulting and hands-on organizing business then later developed The Shebang!, my online lifestyle management program. I love the instant gratification clients feel, plus express. They say “thank you” immediately vs. my high school students. It usually took them till graduation or their 1st quarter at college!
Why do you think it’s so difficult for people to stay organized? What’s the one main tip you offer clients to help them remain focused in their organizing efforts?
It’s difficult to stay organized because we are busy living life to its fullest! We are constantly bringing items into our homes and offices. Think of clutter as just a pile of decisions you have yet to make. The key to staying organized is to make those decisions. Sometimes those decisions are quick and easy while other items require more thought. But make at least some decisions every day.
Is there a secret to being a successful organizer?
Successful organizers create personalized systems for their clients. I believe everyone has their own organizing style and a Stepford approach to organizing just doesn’t cut it. I also believe that people are secretly afraid of professional organizers because they think we will throw everything away. Au contraire! We simply press you to answer your own questions i.e.; “Do I really need/use/cherish this?” It’s far from scary and clients quickly comment that it’s actually fun. I know fun isn’t what you’d thought, now is it? But it’s true… I guarantee it!
Your blog talks about how being organized is a lifestyle that can help you effectively manage all areas of your life — and that you can do it in style. Do you have any specific areas on which you focus? What’s the biggest challenge that typically prompts people to seek the services of a professional organizer like you?
The Shebang focuses on getting it, plus keeping it together amongst all things SHE… self | home | personal/professional endeavors. I believe you can do it all, just not in 1 day or 1 week… but we want to do it all now. It’s the perfectionist in us and the desire for instant gratification. Having a plan takes the overwhelm out of getting organized, and sets you on a course for achieving your goals.
The majority of my new clients call when they are ready to take their business — or their home — to the next level. An entrepreneur may be in their 3rd year of business or have recently moved into a new space. Another client may be fed up with the lack of systems in their home or want to make their space function and look fabulous. But the biggest issue is always paper… paper, paper, paper. “Help! I’m drowning in paper!”
Our readers embrace a green lifestyle. Do your services include eco-friendly tips and tricks for organizing stylishly — and responsibly?
The first step is getting to know the client’s organizing — and personal style. Then comes the fun part — getting creative with the use of “out of the box” storage items. I love using vintage items to organize. A tea cup can serve as a paperclip holder. An old metal cash box can become a “bill box.” Look for items that can be used for incoming mail or magazine and catalog holders. An old bread box can be a clever way to hide your kitchen office clutter — i.e. pens, scissor, pad of paper etc. I did a segment on organizing with vintage items that offers more great tips as part of a reuse/recycle approach to organizing.
What green organizing tips can you share? Is this a big part of your business?
Being green is integrated into my basic organizing process:
Know what you’ve got. I love it when a client says happily, “I’ve been looking for that.” Tt’s much better than hearing “Dang, I couldn’t find this so I bought a new one last week”.
Use what you have. Gather up all the ½ full shampoos, gels, etc. Place them in a shower caddy and use them up. Try to see how many meals you can conjure up with the food in your fridge, freezer, and pantry.
Make a “love it or leave it” basket. Your girlfriends or babysitter may love the smell of the lotion you loathe or adore the stationary you no longer fancy. Give them easy access and feel good about your decision to let it go.
Spread the love. The old camera, old phone, old sheets, and so on and so on are perfectly good, but they aren’t good to anyone sitting in the closet. Pick your favorite charitable recipient and make a monthly visit.
“Isn’t that lovely?” Get in the habit of not bringing the “lovelies” home. Instead, try picking up the item, and in your best sweet drawl, utter adoringly, “oh, isn’t that lovely” then gently placing it back down and keep smiling as you walk away!
What are some of the benefits of being organized? What areas of the house do you think offer the greatest benefits?
Being organized allows you to dream big dreams! Once you’ve got the little things under control, you can tackle the big items that come your way. And of course, save oodles of time and money.
Think of the areas you use on a daily basis. Organize these first and you’ll free up time while feeling less anxious. Mail centers and often used spaces like the bathroom, kitchen and pantry fall into this category.
Your services extend beyond basic room organization to crafts and meal planning — and even TO DO lists and entertaining. Why did you decide to take this comprehensive approach? Do clients engage you for specific services or do you offer a total package?
After completing projects with clients, I realized they were anxious to keep their spaces looking and feeling fabulous and functional. They wanted a plan. An easy plan. It’s not just stuff that overwhelms people… it’s life, the over committing, the perfection misconception, and trying to entertain on a 5-star level. Having a plan where you know you will focus on all these areas in a particular time frame — and with a particular, achievable — goal in mind will take a majority of the stress out of it.
Most projects begin with a consultation which includes creating an overall plan for their space. Together, we determine where to start and where my help is most needed vs. the DIY list. I prefer to focus on one area at a time, allowing the client time to adjust to, and feel comfortable managing, the newly implemented system.
Are there certain times of the year (like New Year’s!) or life events (such as getting married, moving etc.) that prompt people to contact you? Do you have a particular time of year or life event that you recommend is a good time to start getting organized that offers the greatest chance of sticking with it?
I’m not sure if it’s the media hype or the fact that we are so over all the holiday décor that creates the New Year organizing craze. But it’s definitely a time when people are seeking information. About 2 weeks into January, the calls really start flooding in. People just want it done and don’t have the time or patience for the DIY phase. Transitional periods, whether it be moving or having a 2nd child or taking a business to the next , typically prompts a majority of calls.
But anytime is a good time to start. Your success depends on the system you’ve chosen to implement. The more simple the system the more likely you are to stick with it.
What’s your dream organizing job? Do you have visions of being the next Martha Stewart? Where do you hope to take your expertise?
Ooooh, my dream job. I’d love to consult with builders and have them implement my savvy storage solutions into their homes, and feature them in the models.
As far as being Martha Stewart, I did before I had kids! Now I’m much more Erma (as in Bombeck) sprinkled with a touch of Martha glitter. Visions of Martha make me feel like I need to be perfect and frankly, I lock my keys in my car every so often so I just aim to be the best me!
I’d love to design organizing products and have my own little cable show. The products would be functional and fabulous and the show… well, it would have to include coffee and my girlfriends, two of the essentials I can not live without. Oh, and lipstick!
If readers could only focus on ONE organizing effort in 2009, what would you recommend it be?
Create simple routines and schedules… not necessarily to be so rigid and followed to a “T” but as a base for staying sane!
How can readers get in touch with you if they want to contract your services? Besides your blog, where would you send them to learn more about the wonderful world of organizing?
Email or a simple phone call! [email protected] or 360.921.2843
My favorite organizing sites are www.Unclutterer.com and www.thehomeofficeorganizer.com.
Whether you decide to follow Krista’s blog for more great organizing tips or enlist her services directly, the possibilities of an organized, stress-free new year await you. And it will not only make you feel good, it will give you time you can spend looking good. There’s a sale on eco-friendly boots at Simple Shoes, and you can use the shoebox to house receipts and bills or whip it up into something eco-fabulously crafty that would make Danny Seo green with envy.