By Caroline Bujold
Well, it wasn’t exactly a private date, as hundreds of us crammed ourselves into the Boyce Theatre on April 20, 2013 in Calgary (CAN) to hear Peter Walsh give us tips and tricks on how to get organized.
I LOOOOOVE Peter Walsh and was very excited to be able to see him in person. For those of you who don’t know him, he’s one of the guru of organization with TV shows like Extreme Clutter and Clean Sweep. His take on organization is ever practical, with a good reality check that so many of us need. So a couple of friends and I made a girls weekend out of it, with dinner, hotel stay and lots or fun.
Peter started the night by saying:“Start by asking yourself what you want FROM your home and not what you want FOR you home. Create a vision for the space you’re about to organize.” We so often don’t take the time to ask ourselves what our intentions are when we begin a project, a relationship or a new job. But having a clear vision of what we want to create helps later in the decision making process. Do I want this space to be light and airy, warm and welcoming or something else?
Clutter is never about the stuff. Peter Walsh
What is it that makes us cling to certain possessions? Decluttering could just help you uncover your reasons.
Lots of people, especially women, hang on to clothes that they might be able or want to wear someday. Peter sees no reason to do so. He suggest that we wear 20 % of the clothes we own, 80 % of the time. So wear clothes that:
- Fit you NOW;
- Make you feel great;
- You look fantastic in.
He also recommends we all use the following trick. At the beginning of a season, when you switch your clothes from winter to summer, for example, put all the hangers backwards. As you wear your clothes, wash them and put them back in your closet, put the hangers as you would normally. At the end of the season, you will have a visual reminder that maybe it’s time to donate those article of clothing that are still hanging “backwards”. We use this trick personally and it works really well.
Peter talked about parenting and how we can teach the children in our lives to be respectful of their stuff and be better organized (and let’s admit better prepared for the future) by setting limits and routines, the two things kids will respond to.
I really liked his comparison between a desk/office and the inside of a car. Basically the things you need the most and use the most often, like your computer, your phone and writing material, should be at arm’s reach, like the radio in your car. The stuff you use regularly, including maybe the files containing your current projects, the garbage, recycling and shredding bins, should be just a little further, like the stuff you put in your glove box, for example: maps, access cards, etc. The rest should be stored neatly and properly in filing cabinets and shelves to be access when needed, just like the shopping bags I keep in the trunk of my car. That makes a whole-lot-a sense to me.
People got emotional when Peter started talking about mementos, heirlooms and things passed on from loved ones (and not so loved relatives as well). I am guilty of this and have been working on it for quite some time, peeling away the layers and letting go a little bit more each year. He said “Anybody that loves you, or who has ever loved you, doesn’t want the stuff they gave you to strangle your life. Your responsibility is to receive their gift and say thank you. What you do after that is your own business.” His suggestion is to keep five items from a person or certain period of your life and display them throughout your home or arrange them in a frame/shadow box. Only keep things that make your heart sing. This will definitely be one of my future projects.
Peter uses humour to drive his point across. One of my favourite things he said was: “If you don’t respect and honour the space you have, it will turn on you like a crazy lover” and we all pretty much know what that looks like. Yikes!
So on your next organizing project; use these few guidelines provided by Peter Walsh to help you make decisions:
- START SMALL – If you don’t have an entire weekend, start with a 20 minute blitz.
- VISION – Before you start, ask yourself what your vision is for this space? What do you want FROM it?
- FUNCTION – Identify what are the functions (tasks) to be done in the space. For a family room this could be: relaxing, entertainment, play, etc.
- ZONE – Divide the space by zones for each of the functions you identified. Again for the family room this could be: TV/movie stuff, toys, craft, books, etc.
- LIMIT – The space you have is the space you have is the space you have. Stick to the limit the space sets for you.
- STEP 1 – Take everything out of the space you want to organize
- STEP 2 – Throw away broken, donate unused, etc.
- STEP 3 – Group like-things together (or by function) and put them in the appropriate zones by respecting your space limit.
- REPEAT – You will eventually get to the bottom of your list/pile.
I leave you with one last classic from Peter: “If you can’t find it … you don’t own it.” Happy organizing.