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Free and clear: Feel new again – unearth yourself from the clutter

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Jeweler Nina Forrest’s workshop before her makeover by professional organizer Hazel Thornton. Thornton says everyone can benefit from before, middle and after pictures. It can help people see what they want to do and what they may have missed. (Courtesy of Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life)

Jeweler Nina Forrest’s workshop before her makeover by professional organizer Hazel Thornton. Thornton says everyone can benefit from before, middle and after pictures. It can help people see what they want to do and what they may have missed. (Courtesy of Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life)

Oops, is your clutter showing again?

Despite all your good intentions, if you find clutter crowding you, it’s time to take charge.

Professional organizer Hazel Thornton knows that’s easier said than done: “You can’t make room for the new if you are all cluttered up. You can’t grow. Clutter weighs us down: mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Everyone deserves to feel lighter.”

Your physical stuff has a direct connection to how organized your mind is, she says.

“Less clutter in your home, office, schedule and mind means more room for the life you really want. Less clutter, more life,” adds Thornton of Organized for Life, org4life.com.

One of Thornton’s clients, Nina Forrest, a jeweler who works at home, says she had tried to tame her things, but every time she tackled the mess, it seemed to expand.

“I found myself separating jewelry from my paperwork. Once people got past the kitchen it was a real mess. It was definitely a psychological thing that Hazel helped me with. When you walk into a messy room, it’s hard to think clearly. You can’t find things and you waste time looking for things. It’s not just wasted time. It’s also frustrating,” she says.

Forrest had beads and more beads, stones and chains and soldering and other tools in two bedrooms and one of the bays of her garage.

They cleared and cleaned and labeled, Forrest, 67, explains. Not everything all at once, but in manageable time blocks.

“You have to purge,” Forrest says of beginning the work. She was glad to have Thornton’s support.

Thornton says that’s what many clients rely on her for. “I don’t hold anything back. I tell you everything.”

Forrest says she was surprised at the sentimental attachment she had to things, even those she relegated to a dark corner of a closet. “My physical stuff was so scattered I didn’t even know what I had. I was surprised by how much stuff I could get rid of. It was a lot of stuff I wasn’t using.”

For example, for a while Forrest made pillows. She had saved 40 or 50 of them in plastic bags. Thornton helped her see that she could keep her two favorite pillows and donate the rest to charity, to someone who would actually sit on them.

Jeweler Nina Forrest’s workshop after she and professional organizer Hazel Thornton worked on it. (Courtesy of Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life)

Jeweler Nina Forrest’s workshop after she and professional organizer Hazel Thornton worked on it. (Courtesy of Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life)

Forrest says she researched local charities and took her excess items to the ones she liked best. For example, she found an art program, ArtStreet, at Healthcare for the Homeless, that could use her no-longer-needed art supplies.

“It was easier to give things away, if I knew someone could use them,” she says.

Thornton says the premise of clearing clutter depends on moving things out that you no longer use. Banking all those items for a someday garage sale isn’t a good idea, unless you actually like having garage sales and watching people pick over your things. Garage sales often don’t generate as much income as one expects, she cautions.

Same for selling items online: “Do you already sell things on eBay? If so, then that’s a good idea,” she says.

Otherwise donate the items to charity as quickly as you can and enjoy the free space and the tax deduction.

The next part of the project was labeling what supplies remained and supported Forrest’s jewelry making.

“It can be as easy as taking a Sharpie and writing, ‘blue beads’ and ‘yellow beads’ on masking tape and labeling a drawer or a box,” Forrest says.

The other organizing system that Thornton helped Forrest with was time management, Forrest says.

Each evening after she finishes or before she goes to bed, Forrest lists three or four outstanding items that she plans to tackle the next day: “It sounds simple, but it’s so much better than waking up the next day and just winging it.”

Forrest says she has maintained the organizational efforts because they make her work and her life so much easier.

“It calms me down,” she says. “I can find whatever I need in half the time, I used to spend just looking for it.”

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