Organization

A Tip for Tackling Those Nagging Projects

polishing silver

I’ve got a pretty good system for keeping up with the daily paperwork and bills, but sometimes things still pile up. Bigger decisions, bigger challenges, significant changes, tedious tasks (like polishing silver) … usually those things we’d rather avoid. So my husband and I will schedule an “admin day” together. It sounds so, so nerdy, but it really does work for us. When we set aside the time in advance and know that is how we will spend the evening, somehow we are prepared to rally after the kids are in bed. Doing it together is also significantly more fun than one of us tackling it alone.

We also schedule “project weekends.” When we bought our house years ago (before children), we lovingly spent the entirety of many weekends working in the yard, painting or whatever we felt like doing. With two toddlers now running around, these projects tend to stack up more than we’d like. When that happens, we’ll hire a babysitter or the kids will spend the day at my mom’s house. We buy the supplies ahead of time and know exactly what we need to accomplish. Then we dive in head first and get as much done as we can.

How do you handle bigger projects? Do you let them pile up and tackle them all at once or find a way to manage them as they arise? I’d love to know!

About That Dress You Seriously Love But Never Wear

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Do you own any clothes like this? You love it. You look great it in. You may even get compliments on it! And you think to yourself “this is a great dress.”

And yet. You never wear it. Never. At least not anymore.

I had a dress like this that hung in my closet barely worn for the last four years. I bought it following my first pregnancy when I was out of maternity clothes but still appreciated those loose, breezy cuts. So now when I put it on, I feel like I’m back in that slightly awkward stage. Ultimately, I don’t feel good in it.

These are the hardest clothes to get rid of. The things that look great, fit, are in perfect shape, etc. But you just don’t wear them for whatever reason. The thing is, there always is a reason. It just may not be clear what that reason is.

What to do? Commit to wearing it within a time period (say, two weeks) or it is gone. More than likely you won’t wear it, so you can even just skip this step. Where did my dress end up? Consigned. And it felt so good—better than I imagined—to get it out of my closet.

Do you have anything like this?

Kitchen Workhorse

clothes pins

I find an unexplainable amount of joy in tiny things that make my life easier. Humble, little items that are easily overlooked but provide an important service in our lives. Clothes pins (the spring-loaded kind) definitely fall into this category for me. We decant most pantry items into glass jars, but that doesn’t always happen (or it just isn’t practical), in which case we bring out a clothes pin. They keep bags tightly sealed (cereal, coffee, crackers, frozen berries, cotton balls), they are made of wood (instead of plastic), they aren’t garish bright colors, they are available at any grocer or online, and they seem to last forever. Easy to store and easy on the wallet. We also use them to clip notes to things—bags, lunch boxes, stacks of papers, etc. Once we started using them for everything, it made me wonder how we ever lived without them.

In my dream world, I also use them to pin clothes on my clothesline in the backyard, but that’s not happening any time soon.

A Closet Full of Clothes

Quote - If a woman has a closet full of clothes ...

So often I find women have far, far too many clothes—most of which they don’t even like or wear. We’ve all heard the rule that we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time, and I do believe this is true. I certainly used to fall victim to this statistic, as well.

A few years ago, following the birth of my first child, I pulled out my pre-pregnancy wardrobe and realized how much of it I wasn’t excited to see again. Why did I have all of this stuff I wasn’t wearing?? I went on a rampage ruthlessly editing my clothes, got rid of nearly everything, and was left with only the things I really loved. It was shocking to see how little remained. And it was the best feeling.

When working with clients, time and again I find they love their very same clothes so much more after we clean out and organize their closet. Without buying one single thing, they feel better dressed, more confident, more comfortable and more excited to get ready every day. It seems counter-intuitive—that we’d like our clothes better when we have less—but it has happened so often that I truly believe it.

Why might this be? It is because we are no longer weeding through things that are not flattering, need to be altered, are out of fashion, impractical for our lifestyle, or just not our taste. We only see what we love, what makes us look and feel great, and what goes with the rest of our wardrobe.

Doing this will also show you where it might be helpful to purchase a few things. I once helped a woman with 20+ pairs of jeans, and not a single one made her look or feel good.

Give it a try. Remove everything from your closet. Only put back your very favorite things. Bag up the rest and set it aside for a two week experiment. I guarantee you won’t want to go back.

I read the above quote from Bill Blass on one of my favorite gardening blogs here. (Hire Tara if you need a garden designer!) I couldn’t find this quote attributed to Mr. Blass anywhere else, but I think he’d be okay receiving credit.

Decluttering Technique: This or That

There are all kinds of suggestions for how to declutter your belongings, but so often I feel like they fall short of telling you exactly how to decide on an item-by-item basis. I’ve shared my own rule of asking whether it brings you joy, but even that can be tricky for some people to incorporate. So, I thought I’d share with you my second strategy, in case you are looking for other ideas.

This or That

When I encounter a client really struggling to part with anything, I start breaking it down into very small categories. From there, I let each item battle for a spot. For example, if sorting clothes, I’ll gather all of the black blouses (this assumes someone has far too many black blouses, which is often the case).

First I’ll ask the client to pick her least favorite. Then another least favorite. Then another. I keep going until she gets stuck. Then I let the clothes duke it out: holding up two shirts I’ll say “which one—shirt A or shirt B.” If she keeps shirt A, I put it up against a new shirt that we’ll call shirt C. So now it is shirt A vs. shirt C. She might choose shirt C this time, so up next it will be shirt C vs. shirt D. I keep this process going until we reduce that category to a reasonable amount for her lifestyle and closet space. A client has never disliked this technique and it always seems to work!

If you find yourself really struggling to reduce your belongings, break them down into narrow categories and pit each item against one another. May the best man win!!

Blouses from Isabel Marant and Band of Outsiders.