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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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In The Other Side of Organized, Linda Samuels, CPO-CD® will encourage you to get organized enough to reduce the stress of life’s details and make time to embrace your passions. Already, thousands of clients and readers have found help and inspiration in her advice, personal reflections on change and connection, and vision of what can be accomplished when you find that sweet spot between chaos and perfection.

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3 Awesome Next Steps for Successful Spring Organizing

Yes, I know. It’s not spring yet. However, even though in the northeast we had more snow in the past few days and we're still sporting our coats and gloves, spring and what it represents is on our minds. I have nothing against snow or cold or being cozy inside on a winter’s day. Yet the thought of spring brings a smile to my face and a sense of hope that’s particular to this season of rebirth and renewal. Some of you might be wondering why I’m jumping ahead to spring thoughts when it’s still winter. For someone like me that engages in mindfulness practice, this seems anti-mindful.

I was prompted to future-think when I was invited back last week to be a guest on WNYC’s All Of It show hosted by the fabulous, Alison Stewart. The topic was “Spring Cleaning,” as in ways to prepare for spring organizing, choose next steps, lighten-up, and let go.

Alison and I talked about many ideas including rituals for spring organizing and how those are different from other seasons, and which are the most popular areas to organize during the spring. I also answered listeners’ questions such as the best method for organizing “hard” purses, how to let go of the clothes we’re emotionally attached to, and how to be a role model for our kids.

You can listen to the podcast here:


One of the clear themes that arose in the discussions and questions was what to do next? And while that answer varies greatly depending on what your unique situation is I thought it would be useful to share a few organizing strategies to help you navigate next as you gear-up for spring organizing.


3 Next Steps for Successful Spring Organizing . . .


1. How do I choose my next step when I’m feeling overwhelmed by the number of organizing projects I want to tackle this spring?

Next Step: When there are a lot of choices, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. In some cases, this overwhelm can cause inaction. One of the best ways to get unstuck is to figure out the tiniest possible next step you can take. So instead of focusing on all of the projects you want to do, select just one for now. There is no wrong choice. Pick one that will yield the most significant positive result for you or the project that will be easiest to accomplish. Then think small. What one tiny step can you take to move it forward? Build on your success one increment at a time.


2. How do I figure out my next step when I know what I want to organize this spring, but I have no idea of how to get it done?

Next Step: It’s terrific when you know what your organizing goals are. It’s also normal to be unsure about how to accomplish them. An excellent next step is to reach out for help.  The help can be from a family member, friend, or professional organizer like me. It’s possible that merely talking about your goals with another person will be enough to get clarity and move you forward. Other times, it’s helpful to have someone working side-by-side with you to help with the actual next steps. The point here is that you don’t have to go it alone. Enlist help from an organizing buddy.


3. What next step ideas do you have for letting go of the things that I’m emotionally attached to?

Next Step: Letting go can be challenging, but it can also be freeing. It’s important to ask yourself why you want to let go. Are you feeling overwhelmed or burdened by your things? Are they taking up emotional or physical space in your life? It’s worth deciding which items are adding value and which ones are not. Once you do that and you’ve determined the belongings you’d like to release, but feel emotionally attached to, find the right resources. Giving, donating or selling them to others that will appreciate your things as you have will make it easier to let them go. It will provide them with safe passage. It can also be helpful to have the support of a non-judgmental, compassionate person to be with you during the decision-making and letting go process.


Behind the Scenes at WNYC

To listen to the March 1st podcast of my guest appearance on WNYC's "All Of It" including listener questions and organizing challenges, my responses, and more, click here. For an inside look at WNYC, watch the video below.

With spring around the corner, what organizing projects are you thinking about? What are your most pressing next step questions? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Join the conversation!





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Reader Comments (16)

I'm actually thinking about attics. Spring is a great time to get up into those spaces before the weather gets too hot, especially for those spaces with little insulation. I like attics because we often find some items that are easy to part with (e.g. empty computer boxes), and that builds quick confidence. There is something that feels terrific about lightening a vague load that you've been feeling you should tackle.

March 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

@Seana- Spring is probably the best season to tackle attics. That and the fall. It's interesting how much stuff ends "up" there. It's one of the most common places to store those things that we "might need someday" or don't know what to do with. Kudos to you for enjoying attic organizing. I have to admit that attics, basements, and garages are my least favorite zones to organize. But whatever spaces we decide to work on, the idea of lightening-up always feels fantastic!

March 4, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I'm starting a job next week with a client who has a closet full of attachments she wants to let go. She has admitted it will be hard. I'm working this week to find outlets which would provide safe passage for these items. This way she will have some choice as to where to send these belongings. I love the way you explain safe passage. This is such a helpful way to think about letting things go to which we are emotionally attached.

March 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

@Diane- Your client will be so lucky to have you with her to navigate the letting go process. I love how you're preparing for safe passage by identifying resources for her belongings to go. It makes such a tremendous difference with our clients' attitudes when they feel good about where their things are going. Wishing you and your client the best of success as her possessions get respectfully released with your help and guidance.

March 4, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

It's never too early to think about Spring--it makes me smile, too! The one organizing project I dread every season is organizing my children's clothes. It's the only time I look at my husband and say, "I think I need to bring in a Professional Organizer!" My older son's winter clothes need to be labeled and stored for my younger son, I pack up any clothes that look as if they'll never fit my younger son next winter and put them in the attic for my cousin's kids. Both boys have outgrown most of their pants by now but it's still too cool for shorts. Oh, and there's taking inventory of summer clothes because you have to start buying bathing suits and shorts in April! I put them in front of the TV to try on clothes since they don't enjoy the process. Can I go back to thinking about Spring now? :-)

March 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterStacey Agin Murray

I love your concept of "safe passage." Although I didn't realize it at the time, it's what I did when I let go of my mother's and grandmother's buttons - you can read about it here.

March 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

Great minds think alike. I do find my March is about planning for spring cleaning. I too am knee deep in snow, it helps me think of the process and what I need to get done in April. Planning really helps me feel less overwhelmed.

March 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina Quairoli

@Stacey- I can see you smiling now. Especially with last night's snowstorm, spring will be very welcome. Although that snow was gorgeous! You highlighted an important point- we all have our favorite and not-so-favorite areas to organize. I'm don't like organizing attics and garages, but love especially organizing clothing, papers, or creating repurposed rooms. It also sounds like one of the reasons you're not keen on clothing organizing with your kids is that they don't enjoy it, so the process gets extended and they don't like to participate in the trying on portion. It's a good thing you know a lot of organizers that you might be able to tag team it with. :)

March 4, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Janet- I just read your story about your Gramma's button tin, and it's trajectory. It's so beautiful how you provided it with safe passage in two ways- by giving it to someone that would be able to use the buttons for a variety of projects and writing about it too. I remember when I helped my mother close up her mom's house, my mom kept an entire cabinet filled with my grandmother's sewing and knitting supplies. It remained undisturbed at my mom's house for over thirty years. When it was time for me to clear out my parent's house, I cleaned out the drawers' contents, but the cabinet we kept in the family.

March 4, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Sabrina- It's nice to be on the same wavelength with spring organizing thoughts. It was quite the snow last night. A lot of it has already melted, but it sure was a gorgeous scene this morning when I woke up to the winter wonderland. You make an excellent point about how doing some prep and planning can reduce overwhelm. Enjoy your spring organizing projects!

March 4, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Thanks for future-thinking, Spring is just around the corner! Personally, I use spring cleaning time to focus on decluttering winter clothing that I didn't wear during the past season. Spring is also a great time of year to declutter and organize my garage.

March 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNancy Haworth

@Nancy- You're most welcome, my friend. I'm with you on the clothing edit. It's not quite time yet, but I'm looking forward to releasing those fall/winter clothes that I didn't wear and bringing out the lighter, brighter spring/summer pieces. I wear a lot of black as my base color, and my closet looks so darn dark right now. Our garage could use a good edit too. Just hearing you say it gives me hope and inspiration.

March 5, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I just did a talk about organizing for Spring. I think people get motivated when the weather gets warmer. I suggested to look towards your change if life style when the weather is warm. Clean out closets, get off season clothing stored away. Move things around in the kitchen so you are prepared to cook and eat outside. Move sports equipment around so the Spring equipment is ready to go. Thanks for all the great information.

March 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Schiesl

@Janet S- it sounds like a terrific and timely presentation that you gave. It’s good to get the thoughts in gear to prep for the new season. I agree with you how spring provides additional motivation. It’s such a hope-filled season.

March 6, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I had a similar problem with my mother and her boyfriend, who served time in the military. He had a bunch of friends who passed away. Being that, he also accumulated a lot of memorabilia from his fallen comrades. I suggested that he clean the place once, but gave me a look that I won’t forget.

Shortly thereafter, during a small stint at a reunion for fallen soldiers, I called for the services of Jux Los Angeles, a garage and attic cleaning / reorganization company, based in southern a California. My mother’s boyfriend wasn’t pleased with what I had done at first. As a week passed by since the renovation, much to his chagrin, he had to tell me that the place looked so different and that now, he has a place where he can honor his brothers and sisters; in his garage ( I made it extra special and hung up some uniforms his comrades wore on the garage walls…)

June 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRicardo Brown

@Ricardo- That's a tough one to organize other people's things without their knowledge or permission. I'm glad that it worked out, but often it can create more stress and strife for the person if they aren't involved in the decision-making process. It sounds like in your situation, your mother's boyfriend adjusted to the work you did and appreciated a cleared space to honor his comrades.

June 26, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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