The Drawer is Still Organized

By Janine Adams

One year later: drawer still organized

9 March 2011

Yesterday, I was discussing a kitchen drawer with a client. Wanting to show her a photo of the Rubbermaid interlocking drawer organizers I pulled out my iPad and showed her a blog post I’d written last year about organizing my kitchen utensil drawer.

I encourage you to read the whole post, which shows what you can do in 30 minutes, but here are the before and after photos:

Talk about a hodge podge of stuff.

That feels much better.

As I was showing this to the client, I noticed that the date on the blog post was exactly one year ago. And I realized that my drawer looks the same now. That made me happy.

That’s unusual, though. Things like drawers or cupboards with lots of little items (for example, the vanity cupboard under the sink in your bathroom) frequently need maintenance. Once organized they can fall into disarray fairly quickly. They require a few minutes of attention every now and then.

There are only a few items in my kitchen utensil drawer that are used with any frequency and they get put right back where they belong, so I’ve been able to maintain order.

Something about using that blog post exactly a year later made me want to share today. It also inspires me to tackle another micro-zone in the house! Watch out, medicine cabinet!

Janine Adams is a certified professional organizer and owner of Peace of Mind Organizing. She specializes in working with chronically disorganized client, primarily in their homes, helping them create the order they crave. She blogs regularly at her website and offers concise, downloadable Organizing Guides for purchase. With life coach Shannon Wilkinson, she also offers a 28-day e-course called Declutter Happy Hour.


Cleaning out Your Clothes

By Janine Adams

Cleaning out the clothes closet is difficult for many people. Clothes can represent so much — like music, they can do a great job of capturing a feeling about an occasion or part of life. They also can represent hopes. You hope to wear that size again. Or you hope to have an occasion to wear that evening gown.

The trouble with hanging on to clothes that you don’t or can’t wear is that an overcrowded closet makes it so difficult to care for the clothes you do wear. It’s hard to put clothes away if they’re packed in too tight. They also get wrinkled. And it’s much harder to see what you have.

I was just perusing an issue of O Magazine, whose theme is “De-Clutter Your Life!” In one of the articles, Oprah Winfrey goes through her closet trying to decide what to keep and what to let go of, with the help of the magazine’s creative director, Adam Glassman. What struck me about the article was that even Oprah, who has an almost unimaginable about of money, had a difficult time letting go of stuff. At one point in her life she had a very limited wardrobe because of budget. “Even now, wasting money on clothes makes me crazy,” she admits in the article.

After insisting on saving some beautiful items (she calls a pair of boots she’s never worn “closet jewelry”), Oprah agrees to let go of trendy items she doesn’t wear. It appears that Adam’s suggestion that the discarded clothing be auctioned off on Ebay to raise funds for OWLA, Oprah’s leadership academy for South African girls, makes it easier for her to let go.

I see this in my clients; if they know the article of clothing will be loved by someone else, they’re more able to let it go. They’d like to give stuff to me, but my policy is not to accept items that my clients are letting go of. (It prevents the appearance of conflict of interest and helps keep my home clutter-free.)

So next time you’re trying to weed out your closet, remember that Oprah found it difficult. You can imagine how beautiful the clothes she was discarding were, but she did it.

As an aside, my friend, the organizer extraordinaire Geralin Thomas helped me weed and organize my closet on a visit in 2009. She convinced me to arrange my clothes by color, something I resisted. I felt it was hyper-organized and would be too complicated for me. Boy, was I wrong. I love having my clothes sorted by color. (I organize them by category first, then by color. All blouses are together, in color order, all jackets, pants, etc.) Not only is it beautiful, but it makes it very easy to find what I need and to put individual items away.

And the less densely populated the rods, the more I enjoy my color-coded closet.

Janine Adams is a certified professional organizer and owner of Peace of Mind Organizing. She specializes in working with chronically disorganized client, primarily in their homes, helping them create the order they crave. She blogs regularly at her website and offers concise, downloadable Organizing Guides for purchase. With life coach Shannon Wilkinson, she also offers a 28-day e-course called Declutter Happy Hour.

The Cost of Keeping Stuff

By Janine Adams

I gave a talk this week called Letting Go of the Tough Stuff. One of the points I made in that talk is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Many clients don’t like to part with items they don’t use or love because those items cost a lot to buy. Or they feel the item is worth something and they can’t just give it away, but selling it feels too complicated or labor-intenstive, so it gets put off.

When I’m working with a client with a big clutter problem they’re trying to resolve, I like to point out that there’s a cost associated with keeping those items. When you’re dealing with a lot of clutter, keeping stuff you don’t use or love can have the following costs:

  • physical cost. If you can’t dust because of the clutter, it can affect your health. If you can’t let in a repair person or get to the furnace to service it, your house might be paying a physical cost as well.
  • monetary cost. If you’re paying your bills late because you can’t find them amidst the paper, you’re probably paying higher interest rates on top of late fees. If you’re buying duplicates of things because you can’t find the ones you have, that’s costing you money. And if you’re paying for storage? That’s a quite literal example of how keeping your stuff can have a monetary cost.
  • An emotional cost. For many people, major clutter leads to guilt, shame and self-recrimination. Every time you look around you feel bad. If you’re hanging on to items that remind you of a bad time in your life (relics of a divorce for example), there’s an emotional cost as well.

Next time you’re tempted to keep something because it cost a lot, think about the costs of keeping it. Letting go of items you don’t use or love can be very freeing!

You can get more advice on letting go by purchasing my Organizing Guide,Saying Goodbye to the Stuff that’s Holding You Back.

Janine Adams is a certified professional organizer and owner of Peace of Mind Organizing. She specializes in working with chronically disorganized client, primarily in their homes, helping them create the order they crave. She blogs regularly at her website and offers concise, downloadable Organizing Guides for purchase. With life coach Shannon Wilkinson, she also offers a 28-day e-course called Declutter Happy Hour.

Your Home Inventory Portfolio

By Jennifer Morehead

I put together a home inventory because I wanted to know the value of the stuff in my home. I thought, if I can log into a website and see the exact value of my investment portfolio, why can’t I do the same for my home inventory portfolio?

In our household we keep track of insurance, investments, bank accounts, you name it. But in the past we weren’t diligent about recording information for the things in our home. And when you add up all of your stuff it equals, on average, 70% of the value of your home. Considering that the average U.S. home price is nearly $275,000, that’s coming close to $200,000. Can you believe that nearly $200,000 usually goes unaccounted for in most households?

I talked to different claims adjusters, and combined with surveys I did on home inventories, it seems that approximately 12% of the population has made a home inventory.

The process we created on Lockboxer is easy to follow. You take a few pictures of each room and closet in your house, upload your pictures, and then our website makes it easy to “grab” details about your stuff. It only takes an hour on the site once you’ve taken your pictures.

I have talked previously about how I would like to run my household like the floor of a successful retail store with old inventory being sold at a discount and new inventory continuously coming in. It all starts with a home inventory portfolio that is accurate and up-to-date.

Think of how you can manage ‘poor-performing assets’ like the couch in your basement that is only losing value. On Lockboxer, you can choose to make an informed decision about how and when to sell it or donate it, instead of rushing out the door on Dec. 31 frantically looking for a drop-off donation location.

I realize that I’m talking about stuff like it has no sentimental value. I am likening my stuff to lifeless stocks and bonds. But to be honest, most of the stuff in my home doesn’t have a lot of sentimental value. Maybe that’s just me or maybe it’s the current state of our society where you can pick something up at a store and there wasn’t a lot of hand-craftsmanship that went into it. At any rate, I hold certain items very dear but for the most part, I’m happy to have a home inventory portfolio that lets me effectively manage the stuff in my home.

Unique Ways to Dump Your Junk to the Curb

By Kylie Gilbert

By now you’ve probably all heard about how you can sell your stuff on Craiglist, eBay (directly through Lockboxer), or Amazon.  But there’s some new, less familiar sites popping up that can provide alternate means for getting rid of your stuff too.  And who doesn’t want more options?

Whether you’ve been berated by your significant other about clearing out all your junk from your frat star days, or if you simply know your closet will burst if you attempt to add one more pair of shoes, these sites can provide simple solutions to tackle your problems.

And, most importantly, at the end of the day you can get rid of all your junk and have a clutter-free space to do whatever you wish- even if it is just to run out and buy more stuff to fill it!

1. Garage Fairy

This is one site that has come up on my radar.  Box up the things you no longer want, schedule a pick up time and then wait for your check to come in the mail, all without having to sell a thing yourself.

The pros of this new site?  Easy and hassle free, and there’s no upfront charge.  If your stuff sells, you get paid.  Simple enough.

There are some restrictions however.  You must have at least $200 worth of stuff, and if you don’t you will have to pay a shipping fee. There’s also a $5 fee per item to offset overhead costs.  The more you sell, the higher percentage of the sale will go directly to you.  If you sell over $100 worth of stuff, you’ll see 85 bucks in your pocket.  If your stuff doesn’t sell you have to pay $30 per box to get it shipped back to you, or you can donate these items to charity (which will still indirectly benefit you).

So, if you’re one of those people who is dying to get rid of clutter and have some extra cash to play with, but don’t necessarily have the time to devote to online selling, this is a simple way.  However, you do give up some of the profit and don’t have as much control over the selling process.


Here’s another site I’ve come across that might be helpful to those recent college grads- or maybe those not-so-recent grads who still don’t want to part with their college memories just yet.

This newly launched website enables users, presumable college students, to sell to other students and there are minimal costs to do so. While I know I’d want to hold on to that ratty futon forever, this is a great way to let it go, and know it’s being passed onto someone else who will keep your legacy going.

It’s hard to give a final verdict on this site just yet- right now there are not very many items to browse through.  However, down the road this seems like a fantastic way for college students to find textbooks, college supplies, costumes, furniture, electronics, etc. right in one place- and for others to simultaneously benefit by selling stuff they no longer need.

Right now, they are offering new sellers no commission fees, or listing fees- only a small PayPal fee, which leaves more money for you compared to Amazon and eBay, which may make this site more worthwhile depending on the item you are trying to get rid of.

3. Freecycle

With a motto of “changing the world one gift at a time,” this site just had to be on my list as well. The Freecycle Network™ is a nonprofit movement made up of over 4,000 groups with over 8 million members worldwide.  It’s a fantastic way for people to give and get stuff for free in their own town and “keep good stuff out of landfills.”

Just search your town, become a member of the local group, and you’ll be able to post messages and get in touch with fellow members of the group.  It seems like you’re a bit on your own after that for getting the item to or from another person, so you should use caution like any other time you’re interacting with strangers on the Internet.  Overall, if you simply want to get rid of stuff without money in return, this is a great way to do so.

Moving Made Easier with Lockboxer

By Kylie Gilbert

People have mixed feelings about moving.  Sure, it can be one of the best, most exciting times of your life, but it can also be one of the most stressful and daunting tasks imaginable (take a look at this awesome checklist to make it easier.) However, for a number of reasons (mostly lifestyle changes like new babies, promotions, divorces, job transfers, etc. according to the U.S. Census Bureau), 1 in 5 people every year are forced to pack up all their belongings and move.

Since the average American moves 11 times during his or her lifetime, it’s something everyone could use a little help with.  If you’ve moved before, you know it can be extremely expensive, especially if you’re moving cross-country.  Lockboxer’s sell it tool is a great way to clear out stuff you no longer need in order to streamline the items you have to pack, ship, and unpack in your new home.  Plus, what better time to go through all your old junk than when you’re starting over fresh in a new home?

If you don’t want to sell your stuff, you can also donate it through Lockboxer. Since simply dropping off your items at a Goodwill store will only give you a receipt of the items you donated, and not how much they’re worth, Lockboxer can really come in handy.   We’ll help you donate your stuff by automatically giving you the Salvation Army and Goodwill locations nearest you, and then give you the average donation prices of your items.  Then, when it comes time for taxes you’ll have one less thing to worry about.

Of course, after you’ve cleared out all your old stuff and moved in, you may want to do some shopping. With a new home often comes a new wish list as well! Lockboxer can also be used to compile a list of all the new items you’d like for your home.  You can find the best prices on new dishware, linens, or whatever else your heart desires by searching on Lockboxer.  Then of course you’ll want to share it with all your friends and family so you get a housewarming gift you actually want- not something you have to re-gift or bury in the back of your cupboard, only to be returned from hiding when that lovely family member returns for the holidays.

Happy moving!

Feng Shui Expert Erica Sofrina Talks About Lockboxer

We spent time with Feng Shui expert Erica Sofrina to hear more about the practice of Feng Shui and what she likes about Lockboxer.

What are the principles of Feng Shui that you teach?

We can learn invaluable lessons by looking at our physical surroundings (i.e., our homes and the things that are in our homes). It can powerfully illuminate what and what isn’t serving us in our environment. You should ask yourself these questions about your things: Do you love it? Does it uplift you? Is it useful? Does it reflect who you are now in your life?

What do you like about Lockboxer?

I’m always talking about getting rid of stuff that is considered clutter and am a proponent of the reduce, reuse, and recycle philosophy. I also teach a lot of professional organizers for their own practice on how to reduce clutter for their clients. Lockboxer is just the perfect vehicle for this. Figuratively, it’s one-stop shopping, in a way. You have all of your stuff and you can assess it, find out what it’s worth, and then sell it. We might have gotten something that we liked at one point and it’s really not in our taste anymore. It would benefit us to get rid of it and Lockboxer helps us do it. Anybody who is working through their stuff will find Lockboxer useful.

What is so powerful about clearing out the clutter?

If we like something, we’re energetically connected to it. That item translates into positive energy in our lives. But I talk a lot about moving things out of your life that are no longer useful. Lockboxer assists people in doing just that. When you move something out of your life that isn’t useful, like clutter, then you actually open up places in your life for new things to come in. After all, small changes have a big impact on us.

Have people been more or less focused on accumulating things in our culture?

There has been a whole paradigm about getting more in our culture and our society, but we’re moving out of it. The whole economy is shifting dramatically. People are starting to wake up and change.

Erica Sofrina is a teacher, author, and speaker who focuses on creating inspiring environments using the principles of Feng Shui. Sofrina is the founder of the West Coast Academy of Feng Shui and wrote a book, Small Changes, Dynamic Results – Feng Shui for the Western World.