Monday, August 3, 2009

Clear out the Clutter

I am not the world's best cook or house cleaner, to say the least, but I am a pretty good organizer. In other words, our house is dirty, but neat.

I might not change the sheets very often, but I put them away once they're clean. Recently, I went a little crazy organizing the children's books. After a productive trip to IKEA where we bought a new bookcase, I couldn't restrain myself for categorizing the books by reading level, author and size/shape (let's see how long it stays that way!).

Then I bought dividers for the girls' new dresser so that their shorts would be clearly separated from their shirts and pants.

Sounds nutty, but living in a New York City apartment with two kids and a cat, you've got to make efficient use of your limited space.

Needless to say, I don't need any help organizing. But I have a lot of friends who do. Some of them are even embarrassed to admit that they need help.

Luckily, I now know where to send them -- my new friend Eleanor Traubman, a small business consultant & professional organizer since 1999. Eleanor works with busy women who want to make more space for the people and the projects they love.

Eleanor is also the Editor-in-Chief of Creative Times, a blog for artists and entrepreneurs. Her mission is to bring people together through the arts, creativity, and humor.

I recently interviewed Eleanor, who is passionate about organizing:

Undomesticated Me: What inspired you to start your organizing business?

Eleanor Traubman: About a decade ago, I attended a workshop led by Michelle Passoff, author of Lighten Up! Free Yourself from Clutter.

I loved Michelle’s philosophy that de-cluttering wasn't just about getting organized; it was about letting go of things that are no longer relevant, useful, or meaningful to you so you could make room for new people, opportunities, and experiences to come into your life.

UM: Do you have any simple advice for people who are afraid to begin to clear out the clutter?

ET: Start by reflecting on this question: What do I want to make more space for in my life? A new relationship? A new job or career direction? A creative project? Your answer becomes the coaching tool to begin and to stay dedicated to the organizing process. Start small with one shelf or drawer.

And know that it is perfectly acceptable to ask for help! Getting someone to help you kick-start the process can be an immense relief.

UM: There is an emotional component to clutter and organizing -- how do you deal with that?

ET: When I work one-on-one with my clients, I am always going to ask them to consider the following questions when they are deciding whether or not to keep something: "Do I love this? Do I need this? Do I want this? Is this relevant to my life right now?"

There is something about having a supportive, neutral presence in the de-cluttering process that allows women to stand back from their stuff and make more rational decisions about what really deserves a place in their physical environment.

Also, for folks who come from families who have lived through war, economic depression, and other hardships, it's useful to remember this: Our safety lies in our relationships with others, not in our stuff. The universe will provide us with what we need when we need it.

Eleanor is giving a discount for Undomesticated Me readers!

Save 10% Special Offer

Professional organizer Eleanor Traubman offers a 10% discount for a hands-on de-cluttering session or a phone consulation to create a customized de-cluttering strategy for you.

To contact Eleanor: call 917-499-7395.

Offer Expires: August 31st, 2009

Now you have no excuse not to organize and clear out the clutter!

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