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Get Organized with Shannon

04/01/2007 02:09PM ● By Brandi Barnett

Spring Clean

April 2007
By Gwen Lawler-Tough

It’s spring and time to get out the mops, buckets and brooms. The problem is that i would rather climb ladders and wash a hundred windows than deal with my real problem: clutter.

most of us have at least one “Fibber McGee” closet — you know, the one where everything falls out when you go to retrieve something. i have a closet stuffed with boxes of our family photos as well as the photos and memorabilia that my husband and i have inherited from our parents. also in this closet — grade-school artwork of my 17 and 20-year old sons and magazines commemorating Princess Diana and Jackie Kennedy. When I attempt to clean out this space, i spend my time re-discovering old photos, and revisiting my childhood
Jackie scrapbook. Nothing gets thrown out.

When you get “stuck” in the clutter muck like me, there is only one thing to do: Get help! Shannon Simmons, a local professional organizer, meets many people like me. She says that anyone can find their household in disarray after life-changing events such as a big move, a major illness, a new baby, deaths in the family. and most of us realize at some point that we need to start getting rid of most of the stuff that we have spent a lifetime accumulating. Uh-oh.

So i invited Shannon to take a crack at my kitchen desk. Welcome to papers stacked upon papers. I somehow find the important stuff, and leave the rest. i was amazed to see how quickly she cleared my desk. Her action plan is RAFT, or Read, act, File, toss. She took piles of my papers and sorted them out on our dining room table according to several categories. my job was to read them and either toss them in the trash or file them. She created a new action file for me, for items like the jury summons, which i had tacked on a bulletin board so
I wouldn’t lose it. action is the file for papers requiring action in the coming weeks. Shannon reminded me to enter the action info into our family calendar. Now i know where to find the summons, and it doesn’t clutter my important “visual space.”

Shannon calls my desktop, or any surface area in front of you “prime real estate.” Keeping this area clean is important in creating a space that actually works for you. The desktop that i dreaded cleaning for over a year, took a total of three hours to clear. Shannon was here 90
minutes, and the rest of the time i finished sorting, filing and admiring my newfound desktop. The key is scheduling time every week to keep it that way. Shannon says “if i make time to pay her for her help, i can find the time to regularly go through my papers.” Once a week, i now go though my in-box and toss or file. i have hanging files for Read, action and File. I’m so proud of myself I’m ready to tackle that Fibber McGee closet. Shannon, what are you doing next week?�