Downsizing Fast: My system

Do you want to get rid of everything that you do not need? Do you want to have a clean and orderly environment where you can easily find things and stay organized? 

In the following article I describe the system I have developed over the past 22 years in my experience as a professional organizer starting in 1999. 

Most people feel overwhelmed when they think about tackling decluttering/downsizing. My role is to help you feel more peaceful and in control by taking one step at a time and where you can immediately see results. My practical approach helps you to make decisions quickly and easily. 

This description might enable you to do the work at hand on your own or with the help of a friend or family member. That would be great! At the same time, because of my decades of experience and my ability to compassionately and efficiently tune into your specific needs, I might be able to save you time and have the process be as stress-less as possible. 

 I describe in as much detail as possible what I do, but every situation is different. I adapt according to the clients needs and the environment. 

A note about Marie Kondo’s system from her book, “the life changing magic of tidying up.” 

I really liked what Ms. Kondo said about gathering everything that is similar before you sort it, and then making decisions about the items. The two issues I have are as follows: 

Getting everything together in a house that is already cluttered and full of stuff–can be difficult and time consuming. . My system achieves the same goal, but in I believe is a faster more efficient way. 

Her prime directive is “keep what sparks joy.” Well, some things that you need, like toilet paper and a toilet plunger, don’t spark joy! But you know you need these items (unless you use the toilet paper plant aka mullein, or have an outhouse so you don’t need a plunger!). 

Sometimes you can’t think of reasons you need items at the moment. Recently I gave away an old, comfortable bathing suit because I didn’t need it. Now I am missing it because I realize that when I want to be in the garden when it rains, I liked that bathing suit! Of course I can live without it, but I wish I had remembered why I kept it! 

When you are a creative person, like to upcycle or repurpose things, and/or have a homestead where you can find uses for almost everything if you are an inventor of any sort–you want to figure out a way of storing things that don’t contribute to clutter. 

These items need to be stored in places that are lower priority access. Many clients are concerned about “out of sight, out of mind.” That is why I can help you make an index for those things that are tucked away in places that you don’t see. 

…………..

Here is how I can work with you: 

  1. We have a ½ hour exploratory phone, Facebook messenger video or audio call, or zoom call where I assess your needs, and we get to know each other. 
  2. We set up a time for me to come to work if you decide we are a good fit. The first 2 hours are $25/hour. After that, I charge $50/hr. The first two hours give you an idea of how we work together, and you decide if it is worth it to continue. I charge 50 cents a mile mileage fee per day. I live 7 miles from Kingston, between Huntsville and Kingston on Hwy 74. 
  3. My system is fairly simple for the extreme downsizing job where the client wants to do a thorough job of purging possessions. You can read about it later in this document here. 
  4. I bring the following supplies: Boxes to store things to sort later, packing tape, trash bags for give away stuff, packing materials to pack breakable giveaways, full back sticky pads for easy labeling, shallow boxes for easy sorting, markers, and boxes for sorting. 
  5. I can not guarantee how fast the job will take. However, if the client makes decisions fast, which they usually do with my easy sorting system, in 8 hours we can probably do the kitchen, master bedroom and closet, living room, another bedroom, and some other closets. How much we get done depends on how much stuff there is. We can get even more done if we really focus–it really depends on you!
  6. If you decide to have me come for a second day, great! You don’t have to book it right away if you want to experience my system first. On the first day, if you hire me for more than 2 hours, we will tie up loose ends so your house looks great. Or, we can leave the organizing central area, which is where you do your sorting, in process so you can continue decluttering and downsizing on your own. After 8 hours of using my system, as well as having the notes on hand instructing you how to do it, you can probably teach someone how to assist you. Even two hours experience can help you see how the system works so you can do it on your own. 
  7. I do not pressure you to get rid of anything. I do not judge you for whatever stuff you have, or decide to keep. I am very compassionate and I support you in every way possible, including listening empathically if distress comes up. I never throw anything away unless you give me permission. 
  8. Sometimes items will surface that are emotional triggers. I can listen empathically  if you want me to do that. Usually people move pretty quickly through this kind of situation and have even more energy to tackle the job once they get their feelings out. Others can set their feelings aside, keep moving, and deal with feelings later. Either way is fine. . 
  9. I offer a ½ hour free session as a follow up to see how you are doing in keeping your home decluttered. If you need more coaching after that, I charge $50 an hour for virtual sessions. We can go over the fine-tuning you are doing together, I can answer questions, help you develop systems, find homes for everything, help create an index and figure out how you can get into the habit of staying decluttered. 

My downsizing fast system: 

We decide on a room which will be the “organizing central” where we put empty boxes, organizing containers, things to pack, things to give away and boxes to sort. This will also serve as a sorting area, and a big table is very useful. If you have a dining room area that is fairly clear–that would be great. First order of business is to get this area decluttered so we can utilize the space effectively. 

We decide upon the first room or closet. 

I set up sorting boxes with these labels: 

  • Keep
  • Undecided
  • Give (items that you want to give to specific people can be marked and then set aside in the staging area)
  • Containers (for organizing) 
  • Recycle (if you choose to do so)
  • Pack (things to give away that are breakable)
  • Urgent (this is a small box that contains things that you do not want to get lost in the shuffle such as diamond rings, birth certificates, money, etc. 
  • Toss (trash)

We decide what items to sort. If you think a certain cabinet or closet or entire room is in good shape, we won’t touch it. You might decide to sort clothes later, on your own, since they are the most time consuming and also the easiest to sort. Or, I can help you sort them into categories as advised by Marie Kondo in the book, the life-changing magic of tidying up. We will gather all the clothes together from different rooms in the house in order to do this. I prefer doing clothes last, because the other parts of the house are harder to do alone, and I want you to see immediate progress. 

I start taking things from piles or shelves while you sit in one place and sort into the boxes. Ideally I set them up so you can toss things (except breakables) into the boxes yourself. As they fill up, I take the give to organizing central, and the keep box is set aside for you to deal with either at that time, or later when you have more time to think about finding a home. 

Smaller items, including breakables, are set into shallow boxes where you can see everything and easily pick out what you want to keep. If you just want to keep one or two items, I take the tray and put it in the give box. . 

My goal is to keep presenting you with things so they are easy to sort and you don’t have to move around. 

When we complete the decluttering, you will have shelves, cabinets and surfaces that are empty. Everything you want to keep is boxed up in categories that I create that are obvious. 

Papers and flat stuff are gone through later–very time consuming. This includes pictures, office supplies. I put all these in boxes and mark them “flat” and put them in organizing central to sort later once all the flat stuff is together. . 

The undecided box is usually not very full, I find. At the end of sorting each room, we decide what you want to sort later, put away later, so we can either move to the next room quickly–or if you want to take more time, that is fine, too. 

I make a list of things you need to do in the future so that you don’t have to stop sorting and lose that valuable thought.  When you say something like, “I need to call Goodwill to see if they take this.” I leave you with the list. 

Miscellaneous details:  

Large items. If you want to give a large item away, or sell it, I will write this in my notes. I can help you figure out how to get rid of large items. We can also put a sticky note on the large item so we know it is going out. 

Small items: There are a ton of small items which can slow you down and get you overwhelmed. I recommend that you dump out drawers which have a lot of small items into a shallow box (taking out any breakables first, of course.) Pick out the things you absolutely need, and put the rest in a box of small stuff to sort later. You might just decide to give it all away without sorting. 

Undecided: These items are boxed up and put somewhere to be sorted later. They are the lowest priority items to sort because you have already seen them and determined that you don’t need them right away. Papers and small stuff still need to be looked at to determine whether to keep or get rid of. The idea is to touch everything at least once, so you know what you have. You might touch things 2 or 3 times as you refine the sorting. But you won’t touch give away items more than once!

Why undecided? Because when you HAVE to make a decision, keep or give, your brain has to work harder. When you have a place to put something that you need to think more about–then the keep and give are more easily decided. 

After I leave, the sorting can continue

If  you choose to sort such things as clothes or papers on your own, you will use the same sorting system you have used throughout the house. Once you have your keep box–then you will sort into these categories: 

Find a home

Has a home. 

The “find a home” items can be sorted into categories according to which room they logically belong in. For example, if you have an office area, office supplies would likely go in that room. You can organize the office supplies once you have them in the room. Because we have decluttered that area, you will have places to put them. You can keep tweaking your system as you discover over time where you can most easily find things. 

Every room is a little bit different, and I adjust accordingly . But the basic principles are the same in every room and closet. This includes the garage, shed, and barn.

If you want my help after doing the initial downsizing/declutter purge. 

If you are strapped for time, and want me to sort your “keep” boxes, I can get things into categories so that when you sort them it is easier for you. 

Sorting Flat Stuff: Since I advise that you don’t sort flat items yet, once we have put these in one place, I can put them into categories of books, memories, junk mail, papers, and office supplies. The small stuff can also be sorted into categories such as office supplies, toiletries, kitchen stuff, jewelry. Then, when you go to sort this stuff into keep, give, and undecided–you will know how much you have of something. For example, If you have 5 brushes, you might decide to give 3 or 4 away. 

Sorting Keep Boxes. The “keep” boxes that will be sorted later are either put all in one area for sorting later, or stay in the room they are being sorted. For example, if all the stuff in the “keep” box can be easily put away in that room, it can stay. But if the box has a lot of miscellaneous items that need to be sorted into categories, such as kitchen, bathroom, office, etc. then the box should go to the staging/sorting area. 

Follow up coaching options

Creating Motivation: We look at your values and goals, and help you see how staying organized, including having a calendar and to-do list, will help you achieve your goal. 

Exploring emotional blocks: I use my empathic listening skills to explore with you what it is that is keeping you from keeping your new downsized, decluttered home tidy. I’m not a therapist, but just having a listening ear can help with discovering insights that can reveal deeper reasons for clutter piling up. 

Index: I recommend that you make an index of where you keep stuff so that if you put someone in a new home, and you forget where it is, you can find it again by looking in the index. This is especially useful for items that you put in more obscure areas that are not in your face, like the attic. 

Plan of Action: Together we can create a plan of action where you can have a goal of sorting a certain number of boxes per week so you can complete all sorting by a date that you determine is important. If you have a deadline, like having family coming in, or you are selling the house and need it ready for showing–this is important. We can also plan how to implement your organizing systems. 

Implement Systems: We can create a practical plan so you will stay decluttered. For example, every day you commit to decluttering for 15 minutes, putting on music or a video to listen to while you put stuff away. Having a home for everything is another system. Dealing with paper is essential. 

Prioritizing: We can look at how you can say “no” to some things so you can say “yes” to staying organized. 

I hope this is helpful. I look forward to talking to you about your decluttering/downsizing/getting organized needs. 

You can contact me in the following ways: 

Call  479-313-0414 and leave a message. I usually don’t answer the phone unless I know who it is since I get so many spam calls. 

Message on Facebook:

  • Is clutter driving you crazy?
  • Do you feel like you’re drowning in stuff?
  • Do you have a hard time finding things?
  • Are you overwhelmed by paperwork?
  • Are you feeling stuck and frustrated?
  • Is the question “Where to begin?” cause for confusion or paralysis?
  • Do you wish you could turn some of your junk into a bit of cash…

If you answer “Yes!” to any of these questions, you could use my help.

I call myself a “simplified living coach” aka professional organizer.  An expert with over 20 years experience, I can help you simplify your life. Together, we will deal with the clutter.

I help you to improve how you interact with your stuff, so you can keep your environment peaceful and ordered. What I don’t do is go through your space and throw out everything – no giant garbage bags or dumpsters unless that is what you absolutely need and want.

  • You can keep things that are useful and/or bring you joy
  • Learn to love your version of “A place for everything, and everything in its place.”
  • Finally discover that you actually need less stuff and CAN live more sanely!

I adapt to your unique needs;  my system is very flexible. Be one of the many people I have helped to get UNstuck.

I now do virtual organizing! Learn more here.

I offer a free one half hour consultation on the phone, zoom, Messenger or FaceTime – with tips on how to get started on the path to a more ordered, peaceful environment.  Feel free to bring a friend or relative in on the call for the consultation if you want them to assist you in doing the work. Learn more about what to expect from the consultation here. 

Learn more about my rates here.

I can use  Messenger, phone, and FaceTime.  With today’s technology, it is very easy for you to get organized while I coach you from a distance. Many of my clients have a challenging time lifting and moving, and thus I encourage to get family and/or friends to help you. Or you can hire someone who you consider trustworthy and capable, and I can coach the person.

Call or text me at 479-313-0414 or email me at livablefutureproject@gmail.com

Please leave a voicemail if you call because I rarely pick up the phone unless I know the person who is calling.

You can find me on Facebook here.

I Can Now Help You Virtually!

If you are motivated, have a computer with internet access, the ability to take and send digital pictures, and a phone which has a speaker phone mode… YOU can take advantage of the NEWEST TREND in personal organizing and coaching:

Remote Organizational Support

Help is Available

Support is Sufficient

Friends & Family can Help

Your House, Your Home, Your Happiness

From Survive to System

Feel Joyous and Generous

I will show you how to:

  •  Let go of anything that does not bring joy or usefulness (see
  •  Help you figure out the best and most personally comfortable way to get rid of unwanted items. This can include: selling, donating, and recycling
  •  Find a place for everything – which may include a storage unit.
  •  Develop a labeling and container system that works for you
  •  Create easy to use systems to deal with papers and other items which regularly come into your environment
  •  Effectively use an index so you can find anything
  •  Learn how to establish good, on going organizational habits

 Continue on as an independent ex-disorganized person on your own OR with on going support from me and/or friends and family that I have trained to support you. Enjoy a home that is always peaceful, clean and orderly where you can easily find what you are looking for.

A JOYOUS, PEACEFUL FUTURE AWAITS: Words from a satisfied customer

“Because I knew that Patricia had assisted on one of the TV hoarder shows, I figured my space wasn’t actually quite as bad as that, so I didn’t mind sharing my long standing and worsening disaster with her. I started from a position as a skilled professional who helps other people with all kinds of problems but who was absolutely humiliated and embarrassed by my inability to cope with my own physical space, and frankly, the personal psychological pain and issues that disorganization represented.

I had my doubts about the amount of help chatting with someone in Arkansas by speakerphone while cleaning in NYC would be, but my sessions with Patricia have changed my life and my daughter’s for the better. It feels like a crushing weight is slowly and surely being lifted from my shoulders and my spirit.

Patricia NEVER judges, pushes very gently (but inexorably), and she is endlessly encouraging. Her system is practical, sensible, doable, and adaptable. The progress that has already been made after YEARS of increasing clutter and disorganization is hard to believe.

I’m one of those clients who will need to use the Simplified Living Coach “retainer” package for periodic and regular organizational “booster shots”. I’m just so grateful.

– Deb C in New York City

Press Release for Huntsville School Board protest and rally

Because of the urgency of getting the word out about this rally, I am writing blog posts about this. I will be creating a blog specifically for the organization I am starting called Madison County Residents Connect. For now, this will need to suffice.

For immediate release

Contact: Patricia Mikkelson 479-313-0414 livablefutureproject@gmail.com Facebook messenger: https://www.facebook.com/patricia.mikkelson.hughes

Madison County Arkansas residents and other concerned people are invited to attend a rally and protest at 6:15PM on Monday, July 12. They are also encouraged to attend the Pack the School Board meeting at 7PM, after the rally.   5:30-6, there will be a prayer vigil. All events take place at the Huntsville School administration offices at 570 West Main, Huntsville, Arkansas.

The reason for the event is because people are dissatisfied with how the Huntsville school board members handled the case where some of the Huntsville Junior High Basketball team members have admitted to sexually assaulting other students in the locker room over the past two years. You can read more about the story here: 

Benjamin Rightsell, a parent of a Huntsville Junior High basketball player, was willing to speak out on KNWA news report which you can find here.  Rightsell will be speaking at the rally. Patricia Mikkelson, of Madison County Residents Connect,  will be organizing the rally and protest

Rightsell encourages people to show up and says, “If we don’t stand up to the school board now and show them that we won’t just stand by while our children are assaulted by their own classmates then we are just guilty as the board itself.”

“I don’t want my son to be a victim to this kind of sexual assault, and so I just have to get involved. This is important. I hope that people will come out and show the school board that we are very unhappy.”

Madison County Residents Connect is a networking organization recently founded by Mikkelson for the purpose of empowering people to work together to help Madison County thrive. Mikkelson saw a need to bring people together around the sexual assault issue in order to find ways to bring justice as well as healing to all who are affected by these actions, including the families of the victims, the victims, the perpetrators, the families of the perpetrators, and the entire community. 

“I see that there is a need for bringing residents together to work on all the challenges that we face in our beautiful county,” Mikkelson states. “This issue is just the tip of the iceberg.”

According to Mikkelson, the first action of the network is to organize and publicize the rally and protest. “I saw that Benjamin Brightsell was courageous enough to come forth and organize this rally as well as speak publicly about it. I realized that I need to come along side him to help be a voice for the voiceless.” 

In addition to the activities planned, a petition to voice people’s concerns will be circulated. “We want the parents of the victims to know that we are standing with them, and to help give them and others courage.” According to Mikkelson, the petition will be online and in person.  All school board members are up for re-election in May 2022, and people who want to run need to file around the end of February. Announcements are made in the Madison County Record as to the specific filing dates. 

Attendees are encouraged to bring signs that voice their concerns. 

You can contact Patricia Mikkelson for more information about all the events at livablefutureproject@gmail.com A Facebook page has been created for a long term approach to cleaning up Madison County, Madison County Residents Connect: https://www.facebook.com/Madison-County-Residents-Connect-104625635228165

Benjamin Rightsell can be contacted via messenger at https://www.facebook.com/Rolldy

The google doc for this article can be found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1rMfth9Fe_ckiZzUWab3qCnMQPWP8s1KUhR6JCxbPtNg/edit?usp=sharing

Here is the event page for the Pack the Courthouse, Rally, Protest, and Petition Drive

Crops you can plant in July–and still get a harvest

This article covers crops you can plant until mid-July. I found this very useful. I have procrastinated filling up those holes left by things like lettuce, cabbage, kale, radishes-so this is inspiring to me!

Thanks to Our Stoney Acres for this very informative article which tells about Zone 6, where I live in Northwest Arkansas. https://ourstoneyacres.com/what-can-you-plant-in-july-and-still-get-a-harvest

The list includes: Kale, summer squash, cucumbers, beets, summer lettuce, and bush beans.

If you live in another zone, here is an article that covers them all–also by Our Stoney Acres. https://ourstoneyacres.com/what-can-you-plant-in-july-and-still-get-a-harvest

35 Permanent Crops To Grow In Your Garden

I felt very encouraged and inspired when I read this article because I am already growing many of these plants, and have learned about some other plants I will definitely be cultivating.

I highly recommend that you read this article if you want to put less work into your garden and get a higher yield. Planting perennials is the way to go in order to simplify your life!

Resources in Madison County Arkansas To Help Us Residents Thrive

                

This list is just the beginning! Email livablefutureproject@gmail.com if you have additions.

Senior Center: 709 North College Avenue, Huntsville. 479-738-2612

Government https://madisoncogov.com

Madison county Health Unit which includes Senior Center: https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/health-units/detail/madison-county-health-unit-huntsville

Madison County Solid Waste and Recycling

https://www.facebook.com/MadisonCountySolidWasteAndRecyclingCenter/

Madison County Producers Facebook page to encourage local producers to sell to each other. https://www.facebook.com/groups/2778657819118647

Marble, Huntsville, Kingston Networking Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1086509508152801 

Huntsville, Arkansas Neighbors Helping Neighbors Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/587870038496634

Paws and Claws: No kill pet shelter: https://www.facebook.com/PCPSHELTER

Madison County Government https://madisoncogov.com

Madison county schools http://huntsvilleschooldistrict.org

Representative in our district: Look up here: https://www.arkansashouse.org

Madison County Record: http://www.mcrecordonline.com

Huntsville Library: https://www.facebook.com/huntsvillemadisonlibrary/

Kingston Library: https://www.facebook.com/kingstoncommunitylibrary/

Open Arms Pantry: https://www.huntsvillepresleychapelumc.org/missions.html

Friends of the Blessing Truck: https://www.facebook.com/groups/111086650856249

First Friday Block Party Article is on front page. And I inspired the Madison County Record to publish the story based on my press release. Yay!

Intro to the article: The 3rd Monthly First Friday Block Party is coming up this Friday, July 2,from 5:30-8:30. I have had a booth two times, and loved every minute of my time talking to people. This time I will be having a “Downsize fast” display showing my techniques on how to quickly and relatively painlessly let go of what you don’t need and organize what you do have. And of course I will be selling my plants including natives, pollinators, hostas and the miracle plant, comfrey. A display of wild edibles that can be found in most gardens and fields will also be on had for educational purposes.

………………

The Huntsville First Friday Block Party will be held in Polk Square, Huntsville, Friday, July 2, from 5:30 to 8:30. AT 6PM there will be a short Independence Day program. This event is for the purpose of supporting local businesses and building a sense of community among Madison County residents. The family-friendly event happens on the first Friday of every month this year through September. 

Katie Crow, Erika Dotson and Tina Hunnicutt are the co-organizers of this event which was first held the first Friday of May, with the 2nd one happening in June. 

Crow and Dotson wanted to do something to encourage residents of Madison County. Crow said, We originally wanted First Friday to be a community event when we started doing our First Friday pop-up classes at the gym. Then in April we just decided to go for it and create a larger event to start in May. 

”The goal was to bring the community together again since 2020 was so isolated for everyone,” stated Crow, who grew up in Madison County and graduated from Huntsville in 2011. “Everything was cancelled, people were staying home, there was nothing to do. Then people were starting to feel more comfortable in Spring 2021 so we decided it was the perfect time to begin First Friday.”

Dotson, mother of 4 and a resident of Hindsville for 14 years, commented, “My grandma has always said if not you, who? If not now, when? So when I have an idea I don’t worry it away and think of all the reasons it won’t work I focus on what I can do and now! Dotson added, “I just wanted to have the community closer and better for our kids. I wanted to feel more tight knit. First Friday seemed like a good thing to try and help boost that sense of community.”

The duo wanted to support local businesses and strengthen the economy of Madison County. “When we make a conscious effort to support our local small business owners because the money we spend with them turns right around and supports another business, a school, a baseball team, and puts food on their table,” said Dotson. According to Dotson, the team is growing“Tina Hunnicutt came on to the planning committee in May and has been a great asset.” 

Both businesses and nonprofits are invited to have booths at the event. “We want to invite anyone who has an interactive booth to be a vendor. We are always looking for food vendors. Also we love rotating the live music.”

So far, the founding team have found the event to be successful, and they are excited about inviting people to join in the fun. “There’s live music, fun family friendly activities, food, and shopping! Just walking around with all the happy people enjoying themselves would put anyone in a good mood!” 

If you would like more information about the First Friday Block Party, contact Katie Crow at huntsvillefirstfriday@gmail.com The official Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/FirstFridayHuntsville

Calendar: Madison County June/July 2021

I’m publishing this calendar as a service to our community.

Purpose: To provide information which helps Madison county residents thrive

These are just some of the events happening in Madison County that I think are worthy causes, or things that citizens need to know about in order to be involved in helping to govern our county. If you have events that you want to see included on this calendar, contact me at livablefutureproject@gmail.com or message me at my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/simplifiedlivingnow

Sunday, July 4, at dark. Firework show at Mitchusson Park Concession stand will be open. Bring lawn chairs and blankets and enjoy the park and the show.

Regular events. 

Swap Meet: Saturdays 8-1 east of Polk Square in Huntsville, A fundraiser for Paws and Claws. https://www.facebook.com/events/3950211388417753/?ref=newsfeed

Madison County Farmers Market: Tuesdays and Saturdays. 7-12 Polk Square, Huntsville Vendors wanted! $25 a season, $5 each time you set up a booth. https://www.facebook.com/MadisonCountyFarmersMarketAR

IA CHAPTER ONE GROUP NA MEETING EVERY THURSDAY 7PM …This Thursday the July 1st it will be at Sweet Dixie Browns on the square in Huntsville, location subject to change weekly for now til we find a permanent home but will know a week in advance and will announce in our FB group for members or you can call or text me to find out 479.325.8018

Huntsville First Friday Block Party: First Friday of the month from 5:30-8:30 through October. Next one is Friday, July 2 https://www.facebook.com/FirstFridayHuntsville. 

Huntsville City Schools Board Meeting:  7PM  July 13, 7PM Aug. 10 http://huntsvilleschooldistrict.org/509471_3

Quorum Court Meeting: 6-7 Mon. July 19 Madison County Courthouse and

Teleconference: madisoncogov.com/quorum_court.php: 

4 Hour Decluttering Transformation

I call my system the 4 hour Decluttering Transformation because my clients see their space changed so fast within a small amount of time. I feel fulfilled, joyful, and energized when I have the honor of supporting people to get a handle on their (up until I enter the picture) unmanageable stuff. 

I am writing the directions to how to do this without my help. But if you want to hire me, of course I would be delighted to assist you!

You don’t have to set aside 4 hours–especially if you live in a tiny home, or just want to get one room decluttered. These tips will help whether you want to work for an hour or even longer–if you want to do an 8 hour decluttering miracle. I used a similar system with a team of people (friends and family of the client) and we did a major declutter of a 4 bedroom home including closets and cabinets. We also did cleaning and left the home spic and span! It took us about 6 hours. I call that “team organizing” and you can learn more about that here. 

The goal is to get all surfaces and some storage areas (drawers, shelves etc) free of clutter so that you can feel happy and peaceful i your environment. 

You will find things you have been looking for, and you will quickly determine what things you absolutely need to keep available. Everything else gets packed up and stored for later storting. 

Designate one room, or a garage that is temperature controlled, in which to put stuff that you want to sort later

Start by getting the holding room clutter free. Box up items and stack in a corner. Label boxes with general labels-like “Misc ” or papers.

  1. Make a goal of getting your home decluttered in 4 hours. This will include having one room in which to store the boxes and items to sort later. Decluttering does not mean sorting everything. However, you will make it easier to sort things later. And you will only keep out what you know you really need for the next 2 weeks. 
  2. Prepare for the Decluttering Miracle by doing the following: 

Get lots of boxes in a variety of sizes (see my article on where to get boxes) 

Include shallow boxes so that you can easily see the items that you will need to find homes for that you need right away. 

Purchase full sticky backed post it notes. These are essential for speed!

Purchase or get 2 or three markers, medium tipped, black. 

Get an apron with pockets where you can put your marker and post it notes. 

Prepare the storage room (you can use the tips found in this article telling you how to organize a storage area) 

Have yummy, healthy snacks on hand for short breaks along with water and other healthy drinks like smoothies or fresh squeezed juice 

Music that inspires your brain to get organized–here are some tips in this article. 

Make sure you have a 4 hour block of time where you can be uninterrupted. 

Get some essential oils and a diffuser that energize you. 

Decide which room you want to start in first. I recommend the kitchen because that is where you need to have cleared space for healthy eating which is essential for healthy living. 

Optional and ideal: Find someone who will hold you accountable-either to hold your hand virtually, or to be present physically who can actually help you do things like label boxes (see this article about how to ask for help in helping you decluttering work)

Review how to get energy and stay positive during the breaks and during your organizing in this article 

Prepare for decluttering miracle on the same day: allow an extra ½ hour 

Just before the decluttering miracle, notify anyone you need to that you are available only for emergencies turn off your phone and 

Turn on music

Turn on diffuser or do some inhaling of essential oils. 

Set out boxes. If necessary, tape them so easily available. Put them in one place where you can see the various sizes and choose the ones that are best.

Label your first set of boxes. 

Get snacks readily available. 

Put on apron. 

Set your timer for 30 minutes. 

Ready, set go. You will now work for 4 hours!

You will be working for 30 minutes on, 5 minutes off. 

When timer goes off take a break and do some things that are listed here. 

Start by picking up items on the surfaces one by one. Put them in the following boxes: 

Small sort: any small item that won’t break

Papers/flat (office supplies, pictures, framed pictures, junk mail etc)

Breakable (this goes in a shallow box to be packed later so it won’t break.

Essential (take an action on this item within a day after the transformation)

Out: If you can quickly make a decision that you don’t want this item, whether recycle or give. You can even put trash in this box so that you can have one less box

Trash: you can use your trashcan but a box is just fine. You will be taking this box to the next room. 

The beauty of this system is that you will be taking the boxes to each room. So if a box is not filled, you don’t have to get a new box and relabel. 

Fill your boxes. You can clean later. Leave only the things you know you are going to need in 2 weeks. At which time you will need to sort all the stuff into more general categories. Learn how to do that here. 

Once you have the surfaces cleared, move to the next room. 

When a box is full, close it up and put it in the storage area. Stack boxes as high as you can. Make sure they are not too heavy, and packed in a way that makes them square. You cn fill the storage area to the brim, not needing to see what is in there because you will be pulling all the boxes out to sort using my special system. 

If you can put papers and flat all together-great, but if not, that is okay. 

Pack up the breakables. 

If you get through all the surfaces in all the rooms, you can then go back and start sorting drawers, cabinets and even closets. What will make you feel best? Kitchen is important–getting those drawers and cabinets emptied out so that you can clear the counters even more is essential. 

At the end of the transformation process, be sure to celebrate in a special way. 

Let me know how your decluttering transformation went.

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Here is a description of how the 4 hour decluttering transformation worked for a client. 

My client gave me permission to write this with a name change to protect her confidentiality. 

Silvia and I had an initial consultation where she gave me a virtual tour of all the places she wanted to declutter. Having this head start helped me to be even more supportive as we sped through the various rooms working fast and efficiently. 

We started in the room that was bothering Silvia the most–the office. I set out boxes that were labeled with super sticky post it notes. I had simple categories that we adjusted as we saw that we could do some initial sorting into easy categories. 

Super Sticky post-it notes, with the official name being “Extreme Notes” are one of my secret weapons. Being able to quickly label something as well as change the label easily cuts down on many minutes. Since my goal is to help clients save money and time, those minutes are important. 

Normal post it notes fall off easily when they are moved about, so Extreme Notes, which have a waterproof and extra-sticky backing, are perfect for the job. 

The main problem that Silvia had was that the drawers, cabinets and closets in her house were filled up with mostly un-needed stuff. Therefore, clutter easily got piled on surfaces and finding homes for the objects she needed to have easily accessible was impossible. 

We quickly boxed up the hidden contents of drawers, cabinets and surfaces. Silvia laughed so hard when she saw how much stuff could be fit into what seemed like small spaces. The whole office space (which was also her spacious living room) was filled with boxes! Her laughter was infectious, and I joined in and had a good belly laugh! 

I have seen this situation over my past 20 years of professional organizing. The amount of space that is taken up by objects taken out of a closet in order to put it into order seems a lot larger than the size of the closet. 

Yet a similar seemingly miraculous thing happens when items are boxed up and stacked in a staging area. Silvia and I had identified a spare bedroom as the place where we would put the boxes that were to be sorted later. At the end of 3 hours, with an hour left to go, I started re-organizing that bedroom and stacking boxes in the room in such a way that all the things that needed to be sorted were in one place. 

We continued to go through the house. The kitchen was the next priority. Silvia stood on a stool and handed me items which were on a high, deep shelf. Something that is time consuming and tedious is to get things out of a high space, so having a helper can save so much time and energy. Discovering that much of the stuff was old birthday decorations that took up a lot of space, I put those items in a big box. She knew she was not going to keep much of the decorations so keeping them in a category meant that box would be able to be sorted quickly. 

Sometimes we don’t have time to any sorting except for “important–keep out.” My clients almost always find things and happily exclaim, “I’ve been looking for this!” Setting such materials on a surface for them to deal with later contributes to them needing to declutter later. But with the clearing of space, it is much easier to find homes for these precious items. 

Silvia quickly realized after emptying a very spacious cabinet the she could put certain foods back, freeing up a cluttered floor space. I handed her the items and she put them right where she wanted them. 

Cleaning out large drawers was easy because Silvia was able to dump everything in a box to be sorted later. She found just a few things she knew she wanted to keep.

Having a “get rid of box” where we put recycling, give away, and even trash, was much simpler than trying to haul around 3 different boxes. I have discovered that the less categories we have, the faster we move. Silvia would periodically quickly clean the trash out of the box. 

We needed to prioritize because of our limited time. Silvia would look into a drawer or cabinet and make a decision–do together, or she would say, “I can do this later.” 

In about 5 minutes she reorganized under the sink when I suggested that she put some things in plastic containers she had purchased. It wasn’t perfect, but it was much better. 

The only areas that needed to be sorted in the dining room were what Silvia called “her hidden cabinet.” She had not looked into the cabinet for years, although she knew it was mostly crafts. She was the one to pull things out, and I boxed the items up. The only sorting that I did was to make a box of games which she wanted to put back into the shelf. 

The Mostly crafts and fairly lightweight items went into a big moving box. 

Having a variety of sizes of boxes is essential. I was glad that Silvia had followed my advice and bought a combination of plastic bins and boxes. I brought a long some as well, since I had time to pick some up. I have never seen too many boxes!

We looked at the time. Two hours were left. We had already gotten so much done! Silvia decided that her bedroom was next. One drawer had a large variety of items, mostly electronics, which were easily put into a box. 

The bottom drawer had tools and manuals. Removing the manuals and putting into a small bin left enough room for Silvia to be able to get to her tools. 

With 90 minutes to go, I knew we needed to look at the staging area where she would be storing the boxes to sort. Taking out some large items and putting them in the garage was quite easy. We did a tiny bit of re-organizing in the garage in order for these things to fit. 

I got permission from Silvia to reorganize some things in the bedroom staging area so more stuff could fit. We were finishing strong.Silvia kept handing me boxes to take out, and the most efficient use of space in the closet unfolded. 

Sorting and letting go of clothes was something Silvia knew she could do later. The goal we had was to get everything else out of the closet so that she could easily move around in the space. 

We took the risk of tacking her large walk in closet. We made the right decision. As she pulled out bins and boxes, she decided which ones needed to go back into the closet and I set those aside. The rest I hauled to the staging area, which fortunately was very close. 

Once the whole closet was decluttered, Silvia could put the things back that she wanted to have easily accessible. I swept the floor and put any papers or non-trash into a box. I do not throw anything away without permission! Of course the dirt went into the trash. 

I had prayed a lot before our session that things would go smoothly and that we could accomplish our goals in record time. And we did! It was just a few minutes past the 4 hour mark, and we could declare the job completed. We both felt such a sense of satisfaction. 

Before we started the job, Silvia wondered where she would ever find the time to declutter. Making the commitment to spend just 4 hours felt doable. I just heard from her that she sorted out two big boxes and a bag of plastic bags. Before, she dreaded the idea of having to spend her precious time doing this work. 

During our session, Silvia felt a lot of emotions. She decided to set aside the emotions, knowing that at some point she could process them. The priority right now was to get the physical job done. And clearing out all this stuff actually helped her to feel more energized and stronger so the emotions did not control her. –

Now, with everything in one place, it is easy for her to work 1/2 hour a day and see progress. I’ve written up a google doc which gives her a list of things to do and some ideas on how to proceed. Silvia says she feels confident that she can sort this stuff now that it is manageable. 

Because Silvia needed to work later in the evening, and I preferred not to drive back home so late, she graciously let me spend the night. Of course I made my request in advance so that she would know what to expect. 

Silvia made a lovely dinner, and we enjoyed lively conversation and getting to know each other. Something I really value about my work is that in some ways I am like a therapist. My clients need to trust me and be vulnerable. They don’t want to be judged–often they are already judging themselves. 

I have a way with making it easy for people to feel safe, and I reassure them that many people have challenges like this. I have not yet found a client that I felt a need to judge or criticize. Everyone is doing their best, whether they are like the hoarders on the programs which used to be popular (and I have had a number of these kinds of people) or they just need 4 hours to get a jump start. 

I left Silvia’s home the next morning feeling very satisfied, fulfilled and happy. I love my work, and feel so grateful that I have this talent. 

I am in the process of figuring out how I can help a client find someone to help them to physically assist them and do my job. I prefer not to drive because I am wanting to live on the earth lightly. I also want to save my clients money, because I can charge less if we do the job virtually. 

I have found that long-distance coaching is effective for people who want to spend an hour or two at a time. I continue to learn about how to be ever more efficient whether supporting people in person or long-distance. I love to learn!

Simplified Living Newsletter May 14, 2021 Focus on Plants

The purpose of this newsletter is to help you to simplify your life in order to live life more fully. In these days where rising costs of food and other essentials are challenging our pocketbooks, eating the weeds in your garden can save you money. I am going to regularly (I’m not sure how often) send out this newsletter so that you can learn practical ways to simplify your life with a lot of focus on growing your own food and eating the wild edibles that flourish here in the Ozarks and most of the United States.

List of plants I sold at the Kingston Fair in the Square and Huntsville’s First Friday: 

This article will be helpful to those of you who learned so much (and I learned too!) when we conversed at these events. . Each plant has links to articles explaining how to grow use these plants for eating and other purposes. I hope this will inspire you to look deeper into the value of these plants. 

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Comos and Daylillies

Both of these flowers are easy to grow. Lots of times, people need to divide their day lilies, and thus you can get them for free.

Cosmos flowers are AMAZING. They attract bees and butterflies, grow all summer and through autumn, and grow well in poor soil. Here’s more info: https://permaculturenoosa.com.au/cosmos/

Daylilies are undervalued. This article describes 8 reasons to grow daylilies. 

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Longevity Spinach: Featured Plant

I just discovered a wonderful plant that is easy to grow and propogate, super nutritious, and has medicinal properties. I have these plants for sale. Longevity spinach, otherwise known as Gynura procumbens, is an amazing edible plant for many reasons which I explain in this article. I hope you will explore this information thoroughly because even if you are a beginner gardener, think you can’t grow anything, or you don’t have much space–longevity spinach is something I think you will definitely want to learn about and grow. If you are an experienced gardener, I think you will be excited about adding this to your garden.

Please read this very comprehensive article. 

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Recommended Videos to Learn Foraging

I have found Sergio Boutenko’s videos very helpful in learning about wild edibles. I’ve been tracking with him ever since I learned about green smoothies about 23 years ago. Serio’s mother, Victoria Boutenko, pioneered the green smoothie movement and Sergio started his journey to health by eating wild edibles on an extended backpacking trip he took with his family. His story is fascinating. I hope you will check out this playlist.

Wild foods are nutrient dense: Don’t pull the good weeds!

This article describes how wild edibles actually have more nutritional value than the plants we normally grow in the garden. Isn’t it ironic that we pull up plants that we consider weeds, like chickweed, lambsquarters, and dock, yet they are the plants with the most nutritional value! Here is an excerpt from this article: 

“Wild edibles tend to contain more beneficial nutrients like vitamins and minerals on a per-weight basis than cultivated foods (Milburn, 2004). This is attributed to a variety of causes. First, cultivated foods like vegetables have been selected for many generations for their size and hardiness rather than their nutritional value. All cultivated foods originated as wild plants, and over the long history of agriculture, likely starting around 12,000 years ago (Uekoetter, 2010), humans have saved seeds and hybridized plants to genetically select larger, easy-to-grow varieties. Such plants make for greater crop yields, but tend to contain fewer nutrients than their wild counterparts (Davis et al., 2004).”

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Foraging as a way of surviving hard times

I have heard stories of people who have been able to survive because of their knowledge of how to forage wild edibles. I find them encouraging and motivating. 

Here is one: https://nanaisfrugal.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/wild-food-foraging/

“Grandma Mama lived through the difficulties of WW1, the great depression, and WW2 but still had plenty of food on the table every day.  She learned about wild edible foods from her own mother and Grandmother.  Grandma Mama used wild edible foods to supplement the foods she grew in her depression era garden and also her WW1 and WW2 victory gardens.  Same garden, just different names for it depending on the years.”

Reading this inspires me to want to be like Grandma Mama–and share my knowledge of wild edibles and growing food with my children, and others who want to learn. 

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Reviews of books about foraging. 

I’m researching the best books for foraging. This book has rave reviews. 

The Forager’s Harvest by Samuel Thayer:

A review is found here.

Excerpt: 

“The plant focused chapters are excellent. Sam provides useful detail on the foods generated from each plant. Detail he provides is based on experience. He includes an average of five to six photographs per plant with a range of three, like for sheep sorrel, to a maximum of 15, for wapato. This is far more than most other books (the book above is the only one with more) and the benefits are obvious. The photographs range from excellent to poor. 

Reading The Forager’s Harvest will make your life as a forager, more successful and more fun. While no book stands alone, Sam’s The Forager’s Harvest is an important part of any serious forager’s wild food library. Highly recommended.”

This video goes over recommended books.

“What books do you need for success foraging wild edibles? There are a lot of books and guides on the subject, some are good and others are not. These are the books you will need to succeed in foraging. They cover everything from identification, harvesting, preparation, and toxic look a likes. Books like Nature’s Garden, The Forager’s Harvest, Wild Edible Plants From Dirt To Plate are all a necessary ingredient to foraging successfully in the field. Don’t ever limit your books and guides to just one or two, make sure you have several! In this video we will go over 6 of the books and guides I wish I had when I was starting out ten years ago. If I had these books I would have had much more success in foraging wild edibles and medicinal plants, without all the trial and error.”

I’ve been using the book Arkansas Wildflowers by Don Kurz. I really like the colored pictures which are helping me to identify plants when they flower. Learn more here. 

Recommended Videos to Learn Foraging

I have found Sergio Boutenko’s videos very helpful in learning about wild edibles. I’ve been tracking with him ever since I learned about green smoothies about 23 years ago. Serio’s mother, Victoria Boutenko, pioneered the green smoothie movement and Sergio started his journey to health by eating wild edibles on an extended backpacking trip he took with his family. His story is fascinating. I hope you will check out this playlist.

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Simplified Living Coach Services: Organizing (decluttering, downsizing, moving and systems development) AND plant identification and selling

I am developing a new service: Helping people simplify their lives by harvesting the weeds in their garden and identifying other wild edibles. I can come to your home and help you identify your wild edibles in your yard. I can also supply plants that some consider weeds, like lambsquarters, curly dock, and plantain. In addition, plants like mint, comfrey, bee balm, and mullein are super easy to grow and have a variety of purposes including medicinal uses. 

I am a professional organizer with over 2 decades of experience.  If your main need is for my organizing skills,  we can take a break and take some time to look at your wild edibles. 

Check out what people say about me here.  Learn about my services here. 

Contact me at livablefutureproject@gmail.com or message me on Facebook, or text 479-313-0414