It seems strange, but we all tend to be emotionally attached to things. It might be a toy collection, art, books, plants, even dishes, that we feel we just can’t get rid of because of the value they hold for us. We often don’t really even recognize this or realize until certain system and processes in life start to fail and we don’t know why. Fortunately, for us, there are those that tend to have a certain superpower, an ability to not be so attached, which is why Clara Schoen founded The Home Organized. Clara has that amazing gift of letting go and helping others do the same and provides some really helpful tools and thoughts on doing the same.
Thank you for taking the talk with us Clara! You have such an organized Instagram profile and an amazing business. Tell us about The Home Organized. How did you get started? What have you learned that you never thought you would?
I began in February 2018, after my talented interior designer and close friend Caitlyn encouraged me to take my passion and turn it into a business. I had been organizing for friends and families for years and had seen what a difference it had made in their homes, as well as my own. I knew I could make a difference in other people homes as well and so my passion became a full time job.
I am not emotionally attached to many things (except for a few of my kids baby clothes) and realized I’m not in the norm. Most of my clients have a deep level of attachment to sentimental items. So, I have learned along the way how to approach my clients in a very caring way and why something is special to them, but also teach them that just because we get rid of the physical item doesn’t mean we forget the person or the memory of them.
I think it can be hard sometimes for us to admit that we have such an attachment and take the steps to do something about it. What is the number one thing you tell all your clients to do to stay organized and what is the number one challenge everyone faces when trying to get organized?
Honestly, it comes down to letting go of a lot of stuff – so I tell them to purge and purge again and purge yet again. Then it’s key to create a home for everything in the house. If things don’t have a permanent spot to live, then it’ll float from counter to closet and everywhere in-between.
I think the number one challenge that I see is being overwhelmed and trying to tackle the clutter & organizing all at one point. And on top of that, trying to do it alone. This is my full time job and even I don’t like tackling my junk by myself. I encourage people to grab a friend or spouse, who will walk through the spaces with you. It’s important to not feel paralyzed in the process of getting the clutter and excess out. Also, take one small space at a time. Pick an easy drawer or the fridge to get your feet wet and tackle the harder spaces after you’ve done several easy parts of your house. If you are able to, hire a professional organizer, who is able to tackle the clutter and organization with you.
I agree, getting overwhelmed is easy, especially if you’ve spent years doing one thing and now have to change that approach. I like your idea of getting a friend involved and taking one step at a time. With that being said, what are 5 simple steps to a more organized life anyone can do right now?
- Pick a space, like a pantry that you don’t have a ton of emotional attachment to. Ease in to the process without tackling a space that you’re really emotionally invested in.
- Pull everything out. If you leave stuff in the space, you will easily skim over stuff that needs to go or shouldn’t live in that space in the first place.
- Categorize. This helps see how much you actually have – like 10 unopened ketchup bottles you had no idea were in the pantry.
- Purge anything and everything that isn’t used or that you don’t love. Be ruthless. Take note of your habits. Why did you buy 10 of these? When do I tend to buy this? Does it actually make me feel good? Don’t make excuses for yourself like “but I could use it one day ” or “I shop when I’m bored”. Learn your habits and adjust. Realize this stuff is taking up valuable real estate in your home emotionally and causing underlying stress. Better to get rid of it now and purchase when you actually need it or know yourself enough on what triggers that purchasing in the first place and stop that habit.
- Containment is key to success. Purchase products that help you maintain your space and keep you accountable. Most of us aren’t minimalists, so containing is an important part of the process that creates a permanent home for our items. Having items contained helps create physical boundaries. If you overbuy and it can’t fit in that basket, you have too much. Also, it’s vitally important to label. Grab a sharpie or dry eraser and label exactly what’s in that basket or container. That way, everyone knows where that item lives and there’s no excuses to put it back in its home.
These are such great tips! What are some of your go to products for better organization?
I love anything and everything from i-Design. I’m lucky enough to be a brand ambassador, but had already been using their products for all my clients. My go to are turntables, tiered risers, and any of their acrylic products.
I am also a HUGE fan of labels so that everyone knows exactly where everything lives. I love the bin clips from The Container Store as well as shipping labels. Bin clips and labels can be added to almost any container and removed if the basket needs to be repurposed elsewhere.
Simple clips and labels are such a good way of providing quick tools to be better organized! When it comes to the benefits of being more organized, what do you see is the most undervalued benefit of a well organized life?
Most people might not realize that having a well organized home can help in their relationships with family members. If you are no longer spending an excessive amount of time picking up stuff and allowing clutter to control your life, you can have more time to spend on relationships. There is a ton of value in not picking up junk or looking for an item. It’s crazy how frustrating that can be and how in turn, we take that frustration out on the people we love.
That’s very true! Relationships are probably one of the biggest things that suffer and we often don’t understand why, until we take that step back and realize how much time we devote to other things. What are the 3 things you should toss immediately for a more organized life?
The first would be paperwork. So many people hold onto paper that isn’t needed. I suggest when you get the mail, immediately go to a trash can or recycling bin and toss all the things that you don’t need before you even walk in the door. Same with kid’s artwork. We tend to get a lot of paperwork from schools and really I suggest only keeping the absolute favorites – which might include a hand print or a special poem. You can take a picture or scan it in and then toss. We live in a digital age where we no longer need the physical piece of paper.
The second would be a lot of multiples. There is nothing wrong with having several pair of jeans – but if you are holding on to the jeans from college that (fingers crossed) you can fit into one day – let them go! You want new stuff anyway, if you ever get to that size again.
The third would be toys. I’m a parent of two young boys and have gotten to the point where I realize they don’t need all these things and less is truly more. My boys are so much more creative with one or two items as opposed to 30 trucks or hundreds of legos.
It is really interesting that you say paperwork is number one, because we do live in such a digital age and yet paperwork at home seems to pile up the more we digitize the rest of our lives. When it comes to making a house feel more like a home, what role does organization play?
When our space is chaotic and full of excess I think we have trouble trying to relax and get comfortable in our space. When things are put away/have a permanent home and we let go of the excess, we can really truly begin to relax and enjoy our homes. What is the cost of bigger and more?
That makes so much sense! Bigger is not always better! What is the most common space in need of organization and what are some of your top organization tips for this space?
Spaces that are extremely high traffic areas like the kitchen, pantry, closets and play rooms. Number one would be to purge and eliminate duplicates and things that you don’t use on a regular basis. If you’re keeping a fryer that you only use once a year, is it really worth having and visually cluttering up a space? Everything needs breathing room. What I mean by that is having space for things to come in and out without overcrowding a space.