I was contacted recently by Genius Organizing, a Park Slope, Brooklyn-based professional organizing company which serves clients throughout the metro NYC area and beyond. They offered me the opportunity to try out their services, and I jumped at it for these reasons:
- I have an apartment that looks lovely when it is organized. Which it is usually not.
- I am about to turn 40 and it is time to clean out those closets–and lots of old memories that have passed their expiration date.
- I wanted to pick the founders’ brains. What are their tips for moms like me to get (and stay) organized?
I spent two lovely two-hour sessions with Julia, the co-founder of Genius Organizing. I was so nervous about her visit (what would she think of my clutter? would she call TLC’s Hoarders?) that I straighted up and de-cluttered as much as I could before. But there was no need to worry. When I met Julia it was like meeting a long-lost friend. We clicked right away. She did not bat an eye at some of the things I’ve saved—like too many of my kids’ baby onesies, too many of my college term papers, and too many shopping bags and remnants of gift wrap. She helped me to part with them all. Really, she is part organizer, part therapist.
And, some good news. I asked Julia on a scale of 1 to 10 how bad my mess was (1 being best, 10 being worst). She gave me a 3. Hurrah!
I do want to share, though, my favorite 5 tips from Julia (both general organizational advice as well as specific product recommendations):
1. Focus on One Area. Rather than trying to declutter your entire home, work on one area at a time. Julia helped me organized my front hall closet, which first looked like this:
Julia encouraged me to get rid of stuff I never use, either by donating or tossing in the trash. She also had practical tips to organize items by category (umbrellas on lower hooks, handbags on higher hangers, and labelled cubbies for each person’s winter accessories), my closet now looks like this. Impressive, right? The closet is my new happy place.
2. Get Rid of the Paper. Julie encouraged me to trim down my office files and scan important paperwork onto my computer instead (be sure to use back-up, too, like Carbonite). Also, she brought me this Mail Stop envelope from Catalog Choice. For just $6.95, you get this prepaid envelope which you fill with your address labels from various catalogs and junk mail you no longer want. Mail Stop will take care of getting your name off all of the lists for you. Easy peasy.
3. Use slimmer hangers. I’d been using thick white plastic hangers in my kids’ closets and they were taking up too much space. Julia pointed out I would have room to hang many more items if I switched to her favorite hangers, Real Simple Slimline Hangers with Built-In Hooks ($19.99 for a set of 50 at Bed, Bath & Beyond). She was right- I’ve been using them to replace S’s hangers and I’m fitting much more into his closet now.
4. You Can Sell Stuff, But Don’t Create More Work for Yourself. If you have items that you can sell rather than donate (such as cribs or glider chairs, which can be tricky to donate), it’s definitely worth putting them on Craigslist to earn some extra cash. But don’t feel you must sell everything. When Julia and I cleaned out my hall closet, I found some old coats I hadn’t worn in years. I said “I guess I should put these on Craigslist or Ebay” but Julia pointed out that I am overworked as it is, and it might be easier just to toss them than expend so much energy to earn just a few extra bucks. She said “Don’t give yourself extra work.” Excellent point that I intend to remember.
5. Save Less of the Kids’ Stuff. Ok, this is a very very tough one for me. But when Julia saw the huge accordion file folders in which I store my kids’ yearly school work and artwork (one overstuffed folder per year per child), she said “You can’t save all this stuff.” One helpful solution she had: Pare down yours kids’ artwork by simply cutting out your favorite part of several paintings or drawings. Let the kids use these pieces to create their own 1-sheet collages. They’ve just created a “best of” masterpiece and you’ve eliminated lots of bulky papers in the process.
I can not recommend Genius Organizing highly enough. These tips have really helped me. Not only do I have a gorgeous new front hall closet, but I have the confidence to tackle other areas that need work, like my kids’ play area in the living room, and each of their own rooms. I know that I can part with things I’ve held onto forever, and that I can organize spaces that I thought were hopeless.
Want to use Genius Organizing yourself? Check out all the services they provide, including home or office organization, pre-moving purges and post-moving set-ups, and even preparing spaces for new babies. Packages begin at $400 for four solid hours of purging and organizing (you will get a lot done during that time), and you can also buy gift certificates in smaller amounts (makes a great group gift for a wedding or new baby, in my opinion). Visit Genius Organizing.
Disclosure: I received four complimentary hours of organizing from Genius Organizing for purposes of this review. I was not compensated for this post, and all opinions expressed here are, as always, entirely my own.