Do What Matters. Do ONLY What Matters

Easier said than done, I know.  I have found that asking myself these two questions before any task can free up some much needed time and takes the “busyness” out of my life.

How special it was today to be able to make dinner. I had the day off and wanted to cook something that my husband, the usual chef, loves but doesn’t really have time to make. A trip to Costco and soon roast beef was turning on the rotisserie. Amazing smells filled our home.

But we had no gravy. Now, I could have gone to the store and bought it myself. After all, I have the day off, right?


I asked myself the two questions, and the answers were Yes & No. Yes, it needed to be done. No, it did not need to be done by me.


My Reasoning:

Yes, I could’ve gone to the store, but it wouldn’t be the wisest use of my time and resources.  Shopping for just one item would have taken at least 30 minutes, factoring drive time and time spent in the store. Additionally, what a waste of gas!

My husband, however, passes at least three grocery stores on his drive from work. He can easily hop on and off the highway without adding much time and wasting any gas.

It just made more sense for him to complete this shopping task.

That half hour that I would’ve spent getting one item was actually spent on you dear reader. This post was created.

Just in time for my husband to come home.

How to Plan NOTHING & Get Stuff Done.

This week I was on vacation from my day job. I had my choice of what I wanted to do: work on my Thirty-One Business; work on my Organizing Business or plan NOTHING.

I opted for the latter.

My, how daunting and freeing it is to plan NOTHING. I could choose to work on either business. Or not. I could choose to blog. Or not.

Plan Nothing.Do What's Right

My week of PLANNING nothing doesn’t mean I DO NOTHING. It just means I had a lot of free time to do the important stuff.

Stuff like writing this blog post on a sidewalk outside my local coffee shop.

Reading The Tao of Pooh (because yes, I recently saw the new Christopher Robin movie and have been moved by it

And doing Tai-Chi. Because it’s an amazing moving meditative practice and because I am also on track to being a Taijifit Instructor.

Here’s My Instructor:

Oh, and COLORING! What a wonderfully meditative practice it is. Read more about it HERE.

I am currently coloring this beauty by Zondervan:

Gorgeous, right?

In the end, when I plan nothing, regular stuff like laundry, dishes, vacuuming, etc. gets done. BUT what happens in the between time is being caught up in the beauty of things.


What do you do when you plan nothing? Tell us in the comments below 🙂

Something to Do While You’re Waiting

Problem No. 1

My husband likes to spring surprises on me. And they’re not always the good kind–you know, like flowers when he comes home (he does do that). The surprises I’m referring to are things like having to make an unexpected stop at the store when I am ridiculously tired. The more I think about it, the more I realize this really is the ONLY negative surprise he springs on me. But it happens ALOT. And it’s always frustrating.

So, how does this normally play out?

Well, I would usually get my way and we get to go home. But honestly, that’s not always fair. I know I can’t make him remember things he needs according to my schedule (I’ve tried. It doesn’t work) and there is no way he could somehow make me untired, so something has to give. And that “something” has got to be me.

Problem No. 2

With a job, a blog and TWO side gigs (Thirty-One Independent Consultant & Professional Organizer )finding time to read a monumental task. Parting the Red Sea was probably easier. In fact, finding a conventional solution, like scheduling reading time in the morning has not worked for me because my sleep patterns have been interrupted.  Scheduling it at night is out of the question as well (See Problem No.1)

But as a Professional Organizer, it’s my job/vocation to come up with unconventional solutions to common problems.

Enter My Perfect Solution: Have Kindle, Will Travel

It makes perfect sense: packing my kindle (or using the Kindle App) solves two problems: my husband gets to go to the store when he needs to and  I can score some much-needed reading time. Even though I may be exceptionally tired, I can still fit five minutes of reading in. My attentions span will hold for that long.

Is this my ideal? No. My ideal reading time is in the morning, during coffee.  But waiting for my ideal time to manifest has led to almost zero reading. Perfection is the enemy of done. Every time.

Why This Works, No Matter What You Can’t Find Time For.

Maybe reading time isn’t your problem.Maybe it’s answering emails or texts. Or perhaps it’s going through snail mail. Whatever the problem is, if it’s portable, it’s do-able. Bring the mail with you (and a plastic bag for discarded paper), delete messages in your Inbox. Work on this stuff while you are waiting–either in line at the supermarket, or in the waiting room of the doctors office.

Try this the next time you have to wait. I guarantee you will have a better sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

And yes, this title was inspired by the beautiful Mister Rogers:


Travel Tip: Never Forget Your Toiletries Again!

See video below for how I use my toiletries bag.

Travelling? Not travelling? Doesn’t matter.

Yep, we are in the middle of travel season. Are you planning a trip for the second half, last-minute travel surge before Labor Day?

Or are you the type who takes a lot of short, weekend trips?

Maybe you are like me and travel rarely? Don’t worry, this tip works for you, too.

The Tip:

I keep all of my “go to” toiletries in a clear, plastic bag. This way, I can easily see what I have and it’s all in one place. This works great when I switch my bags. I know then that I am not forgetting anything important.

Drilling Down: Organizing that bag!

So, being the organized person that I am, I also keep the stuff in that bag in smaller, ziploc bags. For example, I keep all of my lip products in one baggie, and my sunscreen in another. It just makes my life a whole lot easier when I can find quickly what I need.

LOL…the preview is upside down, but the video is NOT!

Can you spot the hidden in plain site kitchen tip? Hint: You’ll want it handy when using knives. 🙂

Buy the Pocket-A-Tote Here!

Want Your Kids To Have a Better Education? Stay Organized


Kids & Clutter: (not)Too Cool for School

As a childcare provider, the first thing I do when I get to work is bring the house to order. Dirty dishes go in the sink; counters and the stove are wiped clean. Floors swept; dishwasher is unloaded. Laundry is started. Toys are put away.

Meantime, I am answering the needs of a toddler: diapers changed, food gotten, spills cleaned.

But ALWAYS the day starts with taking the house from chaos to order.


My experience as a Professional Organizer and my college studies in Early Childhood Education have taught me that children thrive better in order. Children love boundaries, even if they can’t express that verbally. They express it by actions. Books they can find by themselves are books they can read by themselves (or with you).

Studies Back Me Up.

Good Thing All Those College $$$ Didn’t Go to Waste

Studies prove what my experience taught me. In Chaotic Homes and Children’s Disruptive Behavior, authors Jaffee, Hanscomb, Haworth, Davis & Plomin drop this bombshell:

Children raised in chaotic homes—characterized by noise, overcrowding, and a lack of order—tend to score lower on tests of cognitive ability and self-regulatory capabilities, have poorer language abilities, and score higher on measures of problem behaviors and learned helplessness than do children raised in less chaotic environments.


Whoa! Did you catch that?

Here’s the Skinny…

Clutter leads to all kinds of kid problems. Seriously.

Here’s where children in chaotic homes score LOWEST:

  • Problem-solving (cognitive ability). In chaotic and cluttered homes, this ability is not displayed by parents adequately enough to pass on to children.

⇒Parents can’t to decide where things belong = kids can’t make decisions, either.⇐

  • Focusing, particularly in school  (poor self-regulatory capabilities). Kids may learn to filter out unwanted stimuli (tv, chatter, electronics, etc). While this might work in the home, it doesn’t work so well in school.

⇒TV, Computers, Video Games….all fight for the attention of your kid.

No wonder they can’t focus.⇐

  • Vocabulary.  In more cluttered homes, parents are less verbally responsive. OUCH!

⇒Clutter keeps your attention away from your child. You don’t respond well to your child. Their vocabulary is stunted.⇐

Ready? Here’s where children in chaotic homes score HIGHEST:

  • Problem Behaviors: Yep, kids from cluttered and chaotic homes are more apt to have behavior issues.
  • Learned Helplessness. Seriously. They are less apt to do stuff for themselves. Because they usually can’t. They can’t make their beds if Mom and Dad can’t show them how to make them. They can’t do their art projects because the adults in their homes haven’t designated a “home” for art supplies.  They have learned to be helpless. This is something I learned growing up in an alcoholic home, which, by definition, is chaotic. But, hey, glad the study backs up my behavior from my entire childhood and MOST of my adulthood.


For all you statistics nerds out there:

Chaotic Home Study


No parent wants their kid to fail in school. I get that. I don’t want your kids to have trouble in school, either. I would love for you to contact me below so that we can start on this journey together. Together, let’s give your children a better education:






Getting Rid of Clutter: 3 Small Actions, ONE Big Impact

Let’s face it–ridding the house of clutter is an overwhelming task. We look at a room filled to the brim and we think:

I don’t even know where to begin? How did this happen?

And then we get into the blame game: We either feel so incredibly guilty for letting it get this way OR we start to blame others and circumstances.

Who cares how it got this way? I don’t. There could be a million reasons (all legit) why clutter accumulated. And that might be good to know. But knowing WHY it got this way does not solve the problem of clearing the clutter.

The only thing that solves the problem of clutter is CONSISTENCY.  Here is my three-pronged approach:

  1. Make a plan. Making a plan an actual plan on the best way to declutter is crucial.  Writing down the plan on paper or in a planner is exceptionally important. See below for my easy, quick start plan for decluttering. No fancy pinterest charts needed.
  2. Keep it simple. We can so easily make simple things very complicated. My easy, quick start process is so simple, your whole family can even get in on the process.
  3. Act on the plan regularly.  This is the crux of it. Consistency is so important. Complex systems discourage us from doing anything with regularity. That’s why my easy, quick-start program works: it’s simple and can be done every day.

My Easy, Quick-Start Program for Decluttering:

  1. Garbage In, Garbage Out. Put a small waste basket (or two) in EVERY room. You will be amazed at how much easier it is to throw things away when there is a garbage can available to every person in every room. Kids will be encouraged to throw garbage away. You might still need to encourage them to EMPTY the bin, but hey, you have to start somewhere!
  2. Get Up & Move. Every time you leave a room, take something that doesn’t belong in to it’s home. A jacket draped over a dining room chair? Next time you leave the room, hang it where it belongs. TV remote in the bathroom? After you wash your hands, put it back where it belongs.
  3. “Commercial” Cleaning. The sister activity to Get Up & Move. A commercial on TV? Get Up & Move. Watching on DVR? Let the commercials run. When the show comes back on, sit and enjoy it. BInge-watching “Breaking Bad” on Netflix? No problem. Set a timer for 10 minutes between episodes. Get Up & Move! Repeat as necessary. HINT: this also works for getting things ready for the morning.


For making it to the bottom of this post, you get a bonus 4th activity to help with clutter!

One In, One Out. Although this is not technically decluttering, it does help in preventing the accumulation of clutter.  How it works is that EVERY TIME you bring something new into the house, RELEASE something old. For example: bought 3 new shirts for back to school? Get rid of 3 OLD shirts.  New plunger for the sink? Get rid of the old one, EVEN IF IT STILL WORKS. Keeping items “just in case” leads to clutter.


Products to help clear the clutter

Take these along when you are doing “Commercial” cleaning or “Get Up & Move.”  Personalize them with something helpful like: “Take Me Home,” or “Clutter Buster.” Make it fun!



Purchase My Products Here:


I want the Oh Snap Bin!

I want the Your Way Rectangle Basket. (Retiring July 31, 2018) 

I want the Catch-All Bin!

I want the Mini-Catch-All Bin!

I want the Your Way Display Bin!


1final blue less white

Can’t do it on your own? There is no shame in asking for help. I’m happy to come to your home and help get you on the road to freedom and recovery from clutter! Contact me below or email me @





Three Bathroom Items to Get Rid of NOW

Did you know…

Clutter Robs Our Self-Esteem

You wake up one day and tell yourself: “Today I am going to declutter the bathroom! This is it!” You walk to the bathroom, feeling triumphant and elated. You made a decision! You open the door and see the following:

  • bath toys scattered all over the floor
  • more toothpaste on the sink than in the tube
  • several bottles half-full of shampoo and conditioner
  • Creams and OTC medications crammed into the medicine cabinet.

You don’t know where to start.


You walk out of the bathroom and shut the door. “Well, not today,” you say. Before you even begin you feel deflated and dejected. Your self-esteem as mother/wife/father/husband is in the tank.


You Are Not Alone

Did you know…

Decluttering Builds Self-Esteem

This feeling of failure and overwhelm is common to many who experience organizing issues. With my clients, I like to take a huge

problem (like decluttering a room) and break it down into small, more manageable tasks.

So, today, just start with throwing these three bathroom items away:

  1. Expired Medications. These require proper disposal. See the note below for proper disposal
  2. Expired lotions and Sunscreens.
  3. Empty bottles and tubes.

Just clearing the bathroom of these old and expired items will help build self-esteem and make you feel a LOT less like a failure. You are on the road to recovery!

How Do You Eat an Elephant

How To Properly Dispose of Expired Medications.

  1. Don’t flush medications down the toilet.
  2. Take unwanted medicine to a collection program. The medicine is destroyed at regulated incinerators.
  3. If a collection program is not available in your area, either use a medicine mail-back envelope (available at many pharmacies) or dispose of the medicine in the trash after following these tips:
  • Keep medication in its original container.
  • Remove or blacken out all personal information, but leave the name and dose of the medication visible.
  • Add a safe and unpalatable substance such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds to the medication and then replace the lid.
  • Seal the medicine bottle in a leak-proof container such as a coffee can. Dispose of in the trash as close to pick-up day as possible.

List provided by the University of Illinois.

There is no shame in asking for help. I want to help you reclaim your home and your life. Contact me HERE

Everyday Stuff Every Day

In her book, The Way of Abundance, Ann Voskamp poses the following question:

How Might You Change

Tough question, right?

In this fly at your face, mixed-up crazy world, how do I remember anything at all? Doesn’t having a jam-packed schedule of soccer games and a whole bunch of to-do’s on my list mean I have an abundant life?


In fact, when our lives are packed so tightly, we hardly have any room to remember the important stuff. Stuff like:

  • Hugs
  • Kisses √
  • tousling hair √
  • brushing teeth √
  • passing on basic life skills–wait, what?

When parents tell me of the troubles they have getting their kids out the door in the morning, this is what they ask: “How do I get my kid more organized?”

“You don’t.”

is my response. You don’t get your kids more organized unless you make being organized yourself a priority. For many parents, this is a tough nut to swallow.

Everyday Stuff

When your children see you doing the everyday stuff every day, it will be much easier for them to follow along. For example, if you want them to make their beds every morning before school, make your own. If you want them to clean up after themselves, you do likewise.

I’ve compiled a neat little list of what you can do to begin living the abundant life today. These habits will give you more time for the important things in life–like spending time with your loved ones.

Here’s how to begin:

  1. Make your bed as soon as you get out of it. It will then be done and you don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day.
  2. Clean up right after meals. Put the dishes in the sink if the dishwasher is full. See the next item for more on that:
  3. Empty the dishwasher. Not doing this as soon as the dishes are done is more catastrophic than you realize: when it’s not emptied, any dirty dishes have to remain in the sink. When the sink is full, the counter becomes cluttered with dirty cups, plates, etc. See where I’m going here?
  4. Avoid running the dishwasher over night. You probably won’t have time to empty it in the morning. The dirty breakfast dishes will then be hanging out in the sink until you empty the washer. Either run the dishwasher right after dinner OR run it in the morning after breakfast. Then empty the washer before you begin dinner.
  5. Put items away as soon as you are done with them. When you use the last drop of toothpaste, immediately replace it with a new tube. The same goes for body wash, shampoo, etc. No more searching for toothpaste at the last minute!

Doing each one of these things not only smooths out your nighttime and morning routines, it puts you on the road to a more abundant, simple life.

Do you suffer from C.H.A.O.S. (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome)? There is no shame in asking for help in decluttering your home and life. I am more than happy to show you how I got out of living in chaos. Contact me at

The Thief of Freedom

 A Walk in the Woods I


Dense Woods Andrewhugill

You are a free spirit. You stand at the edge of the deeps woods and think, “There is no trail; no boundaries holding me back. I can go where I want. This is good.” And so you go.

You soon find out that the terrain is tough, rough, and scary.  It’s difficult to navigate. You turn around and head back.



A Walk in the Woods II


Van Buren Trail South Haven Visitors Bureau

You are a free spirit. You stand at the edge of the deep woods. To your right this time is a trail–wide and long. You take it. You walk the trail for miles. Amazing wildlife crosses your path at every turn. You look at the beautiful sky and soak it all in. This trail has led you to unexpected places. You have found unexpected beauty. You are safe. You are free.


The Shackles of Clutter

At first, boundaries seem so constricting, right?  After all, they set up a sort of  series of rules or guidelines. Using the example of the walk in the woods, we can see the fault in this thinking.  When we have no boundaries, we are caught in challenging situations, difficult to navigate.  Boundaries give us the ability to walk free and clear.

Clutter in our homes is like the woods without the trail. At first it seems like freedom: “I don’t have  to put these things away so I can do what I really want.” We might even say, ” I don’t have time to figure out where these things go,” or “I can’t be bothered trying to organize my home. I’m creative. Organization is for neat-freaks.”

Now, there are some people who function quite well in a cluttered atmosphere. They can easily find what they need in piles of stuff.  They are also VERY rare.

The rest of us, however, need visible order. Clutter hinders our ability to do what we want, even if we don’t realize it. How many precious moments do we waste looking for stuff? If you can’t easily find what you need, clutter may be a problem for you.

It just might be the thief of freedom.

Clearing the clutter in our homes works like the trail in the woods–establishing a clear path to provide safety & a joyful experience. Making space allows us to move freely.

So tomorrow, as the country celebrates it’s freedom, why not do one simple act to remove the shackles of clutter?

Think Big, Start Small

Start with a junk drawer. Take out anything that fits this criteria:

  1. Broken. Throw it away.
  2. No longer used. Donate it to your favorite charity.
  3. It belongs somewhere else. E.G. a DVD, a screwdriver, your kids dirty sock (hey, it happens!)


There is no shame in asking for help to clear the clutter and get organized. Let me help. Contact me at








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