Chaos Control Needed
March 13, 2005 7:10 PM   Subscribe

I admit that I am the daughter of Chaos. I seem to have zero organizational skills when it comes to objects, use of space, and clutter. I would like to hire someone to come organize my house, create a logical system whereby things are stored, and walk me through clearing the detritus of my mad packrat tendencies. To whom do I turn for this sort of skill set?

The problem is that I have a very large house that has virtually no storage areas...and I'm obsessive with the collecting stuff. The house was amazing as a showroom, but is totally non-functional now that we've got a toddler, dogs, cats, and slackers. There must be some profession that deals with the hopelessly chaotic and provides some order and organization. (Also...shelving...if they could bring shelving, that would be nice.)
posted by dejah420 to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Many people do this. I have, at times, done this. I think you may be interested in the National Association of Professional Organizers as a place to get started looking. My Mom had a lady come to her house and just do sort of "this is what you'll need to make this work" assessment of her office and workspaces. Email me if you want a first-hand report and I'll put you in touch with her.
posted by jessamyn at 7:27 PM on March 13, 2005 [1 favorite]

Yep, Jessamyn's right on the money (as always!)

Do you have ADD? Because if so, I know that there are professional organizers who ONLY work with people with ADD and ADD specfic issues. I have considered this for that reason but I'm in a relatively small apartment so I don't think I need it just yet.
posted by sugarfish at 7:49 PM on March 13, 2005

Best answer: There are a few cable shows devoted to home organization. The relentlessly cheerful team from Clean Sweep can get irritating fast, but it does demonstrate some effective techniques for purging the useless stuff from an entire household and then storing the rest more accessibly. Mission: Organization usually sends in one organizer to attack a smaller space.

An outfit like California Closets can help you maximize limited storage space. Usually there's a lot of wasted space that they can reclaim for you.

The Organizing Sourcebook helped me a lot. Very simple, repitive advice--but effective. Some hints that were especially helpful:

-it's okay to let go of that sense of obligation to hold onto stuff that has more sentimental value than practical value. you don't "owe" the giver or that nice memory a permanent place on your shelf; no matter what, you'll always get to keep the joy it was associated with
-photo boxes instead of photo albums (or digital storage instead of boxes). Saves a ton of space, and the process of pulling the photos from their sleeves brings up a ton of fun. Open a bottle of wine and have a kick over those old memories. However, chuck all the ones that now make you go "huh??", plus cull duplicates or minor variations down to the one best version.

-storage containers belong on shelves, NOT other boxes. otherwise the stuff on the bottom of the stack might as well be in the city dump for all its inaccessibility.

-CLEAR storage containers. with nice big clear (e.g. removable tape & a sharpie) labels. so you can easily locate stuff when you need it, and notice when there's a box full of stuff that's just wasting space.

-display your collections, don't store them. pick our your best pieces, and give them a treasured spot where you and everyone else can enjoy them. then get rid of the duplicates, poor quality, etc. members of the collection--don't stick 'em back in storage.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 8:28 PM on March 13, 2005

I come from a family of pack-rats, and seem to be the only member able to limit my belongings. My method is to move to a new apartment every year or two, forcing an assessment of my entire inventory, culling those less desireable items (with the added benefit of improving the general quality of what remains).

None of my siblings or relations are able to do this, and I'm sure they'd find the idea of a stranger/"professional" judging which of their stuff to be superfluous detritus absolute anathema.

Hats off to dejah420 for seeking order for her chaos.
posted by Rash at 9:15 PM on March 13, 2005

Response by poster: Oh my goodness gang, this is all so very helpful, thank you!

jessamyn, those are *exactly* the type of people I was trying to find...and I love that you can search their database by tons of different criteria. Fantastic!

Sugarfish, one of the criteria you can search by is ADD...which I suspect I may have when it comes to "things". I tend to get overwhelmed and just wander away doing my Scarlett O'Hara impression..."I'll think about that tomorrow".

Nakedcodemonkey, great resources, thank you!

Rash, it would have been anathema to me as well, if it weren't for the fact that I'm beginning to fear that I might have to mount search parties to find the toddler in all the stuff if I don't get a handle on it. ;)

Thanks again gang, this is so very helpful! I just had a long talk with the husband, and we've decided to admit that we have a problem, call a local charity to back up a truck on one side of the garage, and call the local sanitation department to rent a dumpster on the other side, and start culling the crap. The keywords have become: "Simplify, man. Simplify". Then bring in the big guns to help organize what's left, design some storage solutions, and perhaps give the remaining stuff a second culling.

I actually feel better I've taken a step in the right direction, as though recognizing the problem was the hardest part...the rest is implementation. I'm good at implementation. I'm a "see the hill, take the hill" kind of person. Now I know how to get some help seeing the hill. Weee!
posted by dejah420 at 10:02 PM on March 13, 2005

If you want to do it yourself, go check out the Flylady.
posted by cass at 6:22 AM on March 14, 2005

I have exactly the same problem (and by the looks of it ADD) but live in the UK can anyone advise who to turn to here?
posted by Flitcraft at 10:08 AM on March 14, 2005

Here's a brief list of professional organizers in England.
posted by bachelor#3 at 12:11 PM on March 14, 2005

Where do you live? I'll do it. I'm trying to start my own business doing this very thing.
posted by suchatreat at 12:30 PM on March 14, 2005

One of the best pieces of advice I've gotten was "Before purchasing something, think if it's worth moving three times." This was from someone who moved a lot, but it made me reevaluate what I buy and what I keep. Good luck!
posted by deliriouscool at 1:18 PM on March 14, 2005

I like this book, Organizing from the Inside Out. The author has been on Oprah and some other shows, and has, I think, a great overall philosophy. One of the things I liked was she says that if you can find what you're looking for within 30 seconds all the time, then you're already organized, no matter what it looks like. Also about paying attention to where certain things are already being done - if you're bills are piling up on the dining room table because that's where you sit and do them, then a system which tries to make you sit and do your bills elsewhere won't work.
posted by dnash at 2:03 PM on March 14, 2005

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