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ABCs of Organization

What if you were about to adopt a long-awaited baby? But then found out the foster family was going to separate the siblings, so you ended up adopting that baby AND their four siblings?? You would get some help to get your house and life in order to accommodate your new five children.

That is exactly the scenario where professional organizer Sarah Bergholz got her feet wet with her very first client. She helped this mom get systems in place to make their space work for her new family.

Sarah and her daughter Taylor

Sarah and her daughter Taylor

Sarah now owns her own business Organized Living where she helps families, parents who work from home and really anyone experiencing a life transition. A life transition could be a move across town or across the country; it could be a new baby or your parents entering a retirement community out of state. She’s seen it all!

Here’s what’s great about Sarah. She’s not hung up on perfection. She’ll even tell you: prioritization over perfectionism. And Sarah is adamant that her tips or anyone’s tips for for organization for that matter are not one-size-fit-all-solutions. We all have our own methods for getting things done, and we have to find systems that work for us.

I enlisted Sarah to help me with my home office. This had become a dumping ground for all things related to baby (mine and every baby-related meeting/conference/class I had ever taken), household business (bills, taxes, legal documents, nanny schedules, etc.) then all my office supplies and photo albums and on and on and on.

beforeI thought the colored boxes from Container Store somehow made it ok that they were stuffed full. And behind that cabinet door, I was hiding all kinds of stuff!

We started by pulling everything out and I mean everything, and going through things one by one. Sarah and I talked about almost every item: what I needed, why I was saving it, where it should go where I would remember where I put it!

Here’s what it looked like for about 3 hours:

during

I realized that not only did I have a lot of stuff, I was holding on to a lot of stuff for the wrong reasons. I felt guilty about getting rid of things I would never use that had been gifts. I was afraid to throw away a business card because what if I needed to get in touch with them?! Sarah helped me realize that I had already reached out to lots of people and had electronic records with their email and phone number and I didn’t need the actual card anymore.

I found the box with every single baby shower card I had received. My daughter is not going to measure how much people love her by looking back through those cards. And had I gone through them once since the day of my shower? The answer was no.

Our afternoon together was grueling at times. I was drained by how many things we had touched, discussed, debated. And I was starting to see that stuff doesn’t really have all the meaning that I had given it.

We recycled a ton of paper. And I donated 6 baby carriers I had never even put on, books I had no intention of ever reading and a slew of office products that would serve someone but weren’t serving me.

This is what my office looks like now. after

More than half of those red boxes up top are completely empty but we left them for a little pop of color.  I get that one yellow box for ‘memorabilia’ and that’s where I put the things I do want to hold on to: the baby shower cards with touching messages, my college yearbook, notes from James, etc. When that yellow box gets full, I’m not allowed to go buy another colorful box. I have to go through my ONE box and decide what stays and what goes.

You don’t realize how clutter affects you until it’s gone. It’s so much easier for me to write emails and blog from that desk now. Those shelves of stuff were closing in on me and I didn’t know that I was suffocating until we freed up the space and in doing so, freed up some creativity.

If you’re wondering why anyone would or should pay an organizer for something they could technically do themselves, I would compare it to a personal trainer. Yes, you can do sit-ups and push-ups without someone watching you. But how many will you do? How well will you do them? Paying someone keeps you motivated and honest.

And now the ABC system for your To Do list…

Check out how I am using the ABCs. One set for work and one set for personal To Do's.

Check out how I am using the ABCs.  One set for personal To Do’s and one set for work To Do’s.

Listen to Sarah explain the system here (skip to 30 seconds in to miss my rambling.)

Here’s your Cheat Sheet…

A. Urgent. Do this today or at the latest this week.

B. This needs to happen sooner rather than later

C. Do this someday…keep this on my radar!

Need Sarah to help you in your home or office? She’s offering free 30 minute consultations for Denver Natural Mom.

Contact her today and let her know you heard about her here!

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