Planning a wedding? Merging households? Simply cleaning up?
Ann Arbor based Carolyn Anderson-Fermann, the Organizing Consultant and Founder, Simply Organized Life, can help you strategize and keep things in perspective.
I know I wish we had known her when we merged our households and started selling everything from extra toaster ovens to tire chains on Craigslist. It took forever and we kept changing our minds. We are settled in now, but we always have things we don’t need that clutters the room we do need. Like this bulky sweater a friend gave me in Italy because she didn’t want to carry it back to the United States. I not only carried it across the ocean, but also across the nation to Michigan. Maybe it is time to part with it since I’ve never wore it.
We are probably all in the same position. Thanks, Carolyn, for these hints!
Couples often move in together after they’ve already lived on their own independently. What advice would you offer to couples who are merging two households?
The longer that the individuals have lived on their own, the more difficult this process can be. I recommend that couples start with items that I would classify as “low hanging fruit”. This generally includes duplicated items such as home appliances that are often less emotional or personal than other items, like clothing. Couples can decide to keep the item they like best and donate the duplicate. Alternatively, they can choose to donate both items and either purchase or register for new replacements. The latter happens with a lot of older more established couples who are ready to finally upgrade. The basic rule is to have only one of each item for the household.
As for more personal items, such as clothing or music collections, I generally recommend that couples collectively decide the amount of space each of them needs. Then the individuals can pare down their collections to fit the limited space. After some years of marriage it is natural for collections to merge and need to be culled as a team.
Planning a wedding requires great organization. What top tip would you offer to a couple planning a wedding?
First and foremost the couple should assess their goals for the wedding and align their priorities. This is helpful in organizing a wedding and in setting the tone for the marriage to follow. This does not mean that the couple needs to agree on everything, but planning a wedding can be the first big exercise in creating core values for the new family unit. A lot of this comes down to how the couple chooses to spend their time and money.
Most of us own things we don’t need but for some reason don’t part with (I’m thinking of some bulky wool sweaters from the ’80′s that I don’t wear or books I bought in college and never read.) How can we lighten our lives (and future moves) and best choose what to donate, sell or throw out?
In my individual consultations and seminars, I often state that the process of organizing is like pulling back the layers of an onion. We all have “onions” of clutter, it is just that some folks’ onions are bigger than others. Even as a professional organizing consultant, I have a few of those
unneeded items myself that I keep mostly for sentimental reasons. I never tell a client to let go of sentimental items, but rather recommend that keepsakes be kept to a minimum depending upon the available space. For everything else these simple rules can help:
Keep it if:
1) You use it on a regular basis
2) You love it!
3) The item makes you feel good
Let it go if:
1) You “might” use it “someday”
2) Someone else could be using it now
3) You hate it!
4) The item makes you feel terrible
It is important to remember that organizing is a process, not an event. Getting organized is not something that you just do one weekend. It is about the daily choices you make in how to spend your time, money and energy in your space.
How has your business influenced your own life’s organization?
I have always had good organizational skills. By sharing these skills with my clients over the last four plus years, I am acutely aware of my own space, time and relationship with the “stuff” in my life. That being said, I do not believe in organization solely for the purpose of organization. It is
not about perfection, which I believe is unobtainable. It is really about being organized enough so that we can free ourselves up to experience life more fully.
Carolyn Anderson-Fermann founded Simply Organized LifeSM with the mission to help others find more time and space for the things that really matter in life. Carolyn is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and in the last four years has become Ann Arbor’s premier organizing consultant. She holds an MBA from Michigan State University and brings her clients nearly 10 years of experience in the corporate world. Contact at 734-646-4177.
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