The excitement continues with our recently launched “Ask the Expert” feature on The Other Side of Organized blog. In the past few months, we talked about change with John Ryan of The Life Change Network, next steps with Yota Schneider of Open for Success, and letting go with Geralin Thomas of Metropolitan Organizing. This month, I’m thrilled to introduce you to the energetic author and organizing expert, Lorie Marrero to share her wisdom about clutter.
Lorie is wonderful colleague and industry dynamo. I remember a conversation we had together many years ago at a NAPO conference when she was about to launch her unique Clutter Diet concept. It’s incredible to see how much she’s accomplished and given to the professional organizing industry in such a short time. My appreciation and thanks goes to her for taking the time to join us. Before we begin, here’s some background about Lorie.
Lorie Marrero is the author of The Clutter Diet book and the creator of ClutterDiet.com, an innovative program allowing anyone to get expert help at an affordable price. Lorie serves as the spokesperson for Goodwill Industries International, and she is a sought-after expert for national media. She writes regularly as an organizing expert for GoodHousekeeping.com and lives in Austin, TX with her dog, two sons, and spouse and her 30,000 bee daughters. You can connect with Lorie on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, blog or website.
Linda: You’re an expert on helping others manage their clutter. What are your favorite clutter management tips?
Lorie: When you’re creating an organizing system, whether a closet or pantry or garage, assume that laziness is the norm. Nobody wants to take extra steps, use more than one hand, or take a long time to put something away. Make things as visible, easy, and obvious as possible so that other people can help maintain the space. Labeling and grouping really help, and products like hooks and open baskets are easier and work with our “lazy” tendencies.
Just like weight loss, getting organized is really about Prevention (cutting the clutter calories coming into the house), Reduction (working off the accumulation you already have), and Maintenance (creating a pattern of habits to maintain your good work). Most people focus on the Reduction part, meaning doing projects like organizing their closets or garages, but they forget to think about Prevention and Maintenance, so their spaces soon revert back to being cluttered.
We have lots of resources at www.clutterdiet.com/freetips, including our popular Clutter Prevention Wallet Reminder Sleeves, which you can print out and use to store your favorite credit or debit card. On them are the five questions you should ask before buying anything!
Linda: Why are we so clutter obsessed?
Lorie: In North America we have innovated and worked hard as a culture to raise our standards of living, and we’ve reached an unprecedented level of abundance. We are faced daily with hundreds of advertising messages that insist we still don’t have enough, or that what we have is no longer in fashion, so we keep acquiring.
Linda: Is there such a thing as “good clutter?”
Lorie: If you realize your clutter is a result of your fortunate abundance, you can look at it as a great problem to have. I would rather have this problem than having no clean water or war in the streets, which is what many in the world live with each day. Also, one person’s clutter is another person’s treasure, so perspective is everything!
Linda: Do you have a philosophy about clutter?
Lorie: One of my personal missions is to remind people that this “problem” of clutter is a result of our abundant lives. I believe we should activate our gratitude for this abundance by being responsible donors. Donating household goods IS philanthropy, so always be aware of how your donations will be used. Latest numbers from Goodwill® show that 82% of your donations’ collective revenue goes directly to their mission of helping people find work. This message is very important to me! It’s why I am the ambassador of Goodwill’s Donate Movement, and it’s also why at the end of my YouTube videos, I always say, “May you always be happy and grateful for having more than enough.”
Linda: What has been your biggest personal clutter challenge?
Lorie: My kids! Definitely. I have two teenage boys, and they are naturally not as conscious of keeping their parents’ house as tidy as they probably will be with their own homes. In various ages and stages we’ve had different challenges with different kinds of toys. Right now it’s clothing and school papers that are their biggest clutter problems.
Linda: Is there anything you’d like to share about clutter that I haven’t asked?
Lorie: Fear is a huge factor in this topic of clutter and organizing that I feel needs addressing. I hear a lot of fear out there: fear of waste, fear of loss, fear of offending someone, fear of not doing it perfectly right, and fear of missing out or not keeping up. Fear is there to keep us safe, certainly, but it’s also there to challenge us, and its presence makes our victories sweeter. We have to push past it confidently to get clutter out of way so we can do the important things that really matter!
What inspiring thoughts, Lorie! I’m grateful that you shared your insightful, clear ideas about clutter, fear and abundance with us. I invite all of you to join Lorie and me as we continue the conversation. What are your clutter challenges, successes and stories?