Much like New Year’s, spring heralds a new beginning as the outdoors greens up and blossoms.
Indoors, for many, that means clearing out the old to make room for a fresh start and its possibilities, including getting organized.
Whether it’s that jammed-packed closet, cluttered garage or the entire house, many Americans will feel overwhelmed with getting it done.
That’s where professional organizers or their bounty of free tips (often found on their websites) may come in handy.
Heather Powers, owner of HK Power Studios, is the president of South Carolina’s only local chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers and says the focus of the 32-year-old accreditation group is turning toward improving productivity.
“We need more help today than we did 30 years ago. Back then, there were more one-income households. Today, it’s more two-income households having to manage kids, activities and more stuff,” says Powers.
“Being organized is important because we want to be more productive or just have more time to do the things we want to do.”
Recently, Powers says organizing is making a comeback as people long to simplify their lives and because of the popular books “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” (2014) and “Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up” (2016) by Marie Kondo.
Powers says part of the problem that people have breaking the bonds of clutter is “decision fatigue” and that professional organizers can help make decisions, ideally “striking a balance between emotion and compassion” in helping.
In a day when people hire personal trainers to help them get or stay fit, Powers says more consideration should be made for hiring a professional organizer.
Clutter = postponed decisions
Patty Clair of Simply Put in Columbia started her professional organizing career in Cleveland in 2007 and noticed that the service is not used in South Carolina as much as the Midwest. She and June Smith of a Bit of Order are the only two NAPO-certified organizers in the city of Columbia.
“I think people here are more laid back,” says Clair.
Like Clair, Diane Aversano of Organizing Made Simple in Myrtle Beach started her professional career in a city in another region, in her case, Las Vegas. Her first job involved a young couple who were both gambling on laptop computers when she arrived, and had been in the house two years without unpacking the boxes for their kitchens.
Aversano says that despite regional differences, disorganization is a universal problem.
“It gets to the point where, for many people, it becomes overwhelming,” says Aversano. “It’s somewhat like gaining weight. It mushrooms out and gets to the point where it’s debilitating.”
She likes the quote that “clutter is simply postponed decisions.”
Divide & conquer
Aversano says the question she gets asked most is “where do I start.” Her answer, “Find the area that annoys you most and dig in. Do it with a friend and set a time limit. Of course, it helps to have an organizer.”
She says organizing a large area, such as a garage or closet, is much like a drawer.
“Pull everything out and start with a clean slate,” says Aversano, urging people to do that before buying containers and bins.
Proceed by putting the essential items back first and then having two boxes, one destined for donating to a charity such as Goodwill and one for the landfill.
She adds that she thinks it’s extremely important to avoid sending stuff to the landfill as much as possible.
“I’d rather be painting”
Longtime local artist Marty Whaley Adams Cornwell hired Powers when, after a decade hiatus, she wanted to go back to the easel and her paints.
Her creative spark waned after her son died from injuries suffered in a car accident. Her move into the house of her late mother, Charleston icon Emily Whaley of the famed book, “Mrs. Whaley and Her Charleston Garden,” added the responsibility of protecting family heirlooms, not to mention the garden itself.
Cornwell recalls, “I’d move things from one end of the house to the other, not knowing what to do with it … I wanted to get back to my art because art is my life raft.”
Powers says that Cornwell came to her, as so often happens, at a turning point in her life.
“That usually happens to people. They decide they don’t to want to live the way they’ve been living and just playing catch up. They want to be more intentional and do things they want to do,” said Powers.
She helped Cornwell do a “whole house organization” but is now in maintenance mode, coming about once a month.
“She (Powers) can teach you. Frankly, I’d rather be painting than organizing.”