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Love and Stuff: Dealing with the Things Left Behind

The wonderful short film below came to me via a professional association just as I was writing material for the June meeting of the Houston Clutter Coaching Meetup Group on the topic of clutter and aging. The film by Judith Helfand tells the story of dealing with the stuff left behind after her mother died. The story is a perfect example of the situation that arises when the family is left to dismantle a lifetime of stuff after a loved one passes away.

Watch the film and tell me in the comments how you relate to it. (I’m sure that you will.)

Many thanks to Judith Helfand for sharing her story and her mother’s.

Love and Stuff by Judith Helfand

I talked about Ms. Helfand’s film in the June 2014 meetup because it expertly illustrated so many of the points I wanted to cover in the talk. You can view that talk here:

We’re Not Getting Any Younger: Clutter and Aging

We’re Not Getting Any Younger: Clutter and Aging (Meetup)

art floral grunge background pattern

Our clutter problems becoming more complicated as we age.

Houston Clutter Coaching June 2014 Meetup

Thursday, June 26, 2014
7:00–8:30 p.m.
FREE

Professional organizer Gayle Goddard facilitates the meeting of the Houston Clutter Coaching Meetup Group.

Henshaw House (Nature Discovery Center)
Russ Pitman Park
7112 Newcastle St.
Bellaire, TX 77401
713-667-6550

…[Read more]

Psychology of Clutter and Hoarding and the IOCDF Clutter Image Rating Scale

NAPO 2014 Conference Badge

A NAPO Conference 2014 Report

by Gayle Goddard
Professional organizer and owner of The Clutter Fairy

I recently attended the National Association of Professional Organizers 2014 Annual Conference and Organizing Expo in Scottsdale, Arizona. The conference is a great four days of new products, great education, and lots of fun with colleagues.

I attended a fabulous session entitled “Distracted & Obsessed: Helping ADHD and/or OCD Clients” presented by Dr. Roberto Olivardia, a clinical psychologist and instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He’s an ADHD/OCD specialist who has ADD himself. He gave a great discussion on the differences between OCD and ADD and how those differences affect one’s ability to organize. Both disorders affect executive function—the set of mental processes that allow us to perform activities such as planning, organizing, strategizing, paying attention to and remembering details, and managing time and space—but in completely different ways, and both can lead to hoarding behaviors.

Another organizer in the session shared a helpful resource that visually represents levels of clutter or hoarding. Check out the Clutter Image Rating Scale from the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF). This PDF guide shows photos of several sample rooms that range from completely clean (photo #1) to a hoarding situation (photo #9). The document is designed to help people get an accurate sense of the seriousness of a clutter problem.

Piles and Heaps and Mounds: Dos and Don’ts of Organizing Paper (Meetup)

Paper—we all accumulate too much of it.

Houston Clutter Coaching May 2014 Meetup

Thursday, May 22, 2014
7:00–8:30 p.m.
FREE

Professional organizer Gayle Goddard facilitates the meeting of the Houston Clutter Coaching Meetup Group.

Henshaw House (Nature Discovery Center)
Russ Pitman Park
7112 Newcastle St.
Bellaire, TX 77401
713-667-6550

…[Read more]

NAPO Houston Volunteer of the Year 2014

The Clutter Fairy team was delighted to learn that our very own Gayle Goddard has been recognized as the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) Houston Chapter’s Volunteer of the Year for 2014! She participated in six NAPO Houston events over the 2014 fiscal year—the most of any chapter member—in addition to serving on the chapter’s board as past president.

Accepting the honor, Gayle thanked her colleagues and said, “I love supporting NAPO Houston, and I especially love working with other organizers. I’m committed to NAPO’s mission to raise public awareness of organizing as a professional service and NAPO Houston organizers in particular.”

Congratulations, Gayle, and keep up the great work!

Are You Ready to Pick Up the Pieces?

A quiz to test your knowledge about a loved one’s life

Hands holding a repaired broken heart

In an emergency, would your loved ones’ affairs be in good hands?

A friend passed away recently after a terminal illness, several months earlier than expected. I’m the executor of her will and a close friend, so in the weeks surrounding her death, I found myself responsible for a thousand tasks related to her medical care and financial and household affairs. I had known this woman for 30 years, so I was astonished by the amount of information that I needed to know, but didn’t. The hospice social worker, the attorney preparing her will, the funeral director…everyone seemed to need endless details about her family and her life.

If you suddenly found yourself in charge of the affairs of a loved one in an emergency—an injury, a serious illness, death, or any other unforeseen situation—how ready would you be to take on the responsibility? Take our quiz to find out! …[Read more]

Organizing for the Unforeseen: How to Be Prepared for a Clutter Crisis (Meetup)

Emergency room sign

You can’t always keep crises from striking, but you can take steps to manage better when trouble arises.

Houston Clutter Coaching October 2013 Meetup

Thursday, October 24, 2013
7:00–8:30 p.m.
FREE

Professional organizer Gayle Goddard facilitates the meeting of the Houston Clutter Coaching Meetup Group.

Henshaw House (Nature Discovery Center)
Russ Pitman Park
7112 Newcastle St.
Bellaire, TX 77401
713-667-6550

…[Read more]

Untidy To-do Lists and Cluttered Calendars: Organizing for Time and Task Management (Meetup)

Dry-erase board to-do list with "everything"

“[I]t’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”
—Steve Jobs

Houston Clutter Coaching August 2013 Meetup

Thursday, August 22, 2013
7:00–8:30 p.m.
FREE

Professional organizer Gayle Goddard facilitates the meeting of the Houston Clutter Coaching Meetup Group.

Henshaw House (Nature Discovery Center)
Russ Pitman Park
7112 Newcastle St.
Bellaire, TX 77401
713-667-6550

…[Read more]

How Much Is Enough? and Other Hard Questions about Stuff (Meetup)

Antiques

“After a certain point, material objects have a tendency to crowd out the emotional needs they are meant to support.”
—Graham Hill

Houston Clutter Coaching July 2013 Meetup

Thursday, July 25, 2013
7:00–8:30 p.m.
FREE

Professional organizer Gayle Goddard facilitates the meeting of the Houston Clutter Coaching Meetup Group.

Henshaw House (Nature Discovery Center)
Russ Pitman Park
7112 Newcastle St.
Bellaire, TX 77401
713-667-6550

Or watch the recording on YouTube.
…[Read more]

Five-Step Daily Practice to Support a Clutter-free Life

Frangipani (plumeria) flowers on stones

Greater happiness—and more decluttering success—may be just five steps away.

In recent meetings of the Houston Clutter Coaching Meetup Group, we’ve been exploring the psychology of clutter. We’ve talked about emotional patterns that sabotage our ability to be organized, and we’ve discussed the feedback loop of clutter and negative emotions. Our May meeting examined how living in clutter reflects negative emotional patterns, such as distraction, resistance, and avoidance of pain. We looked at how the decluttering process can serve as a release from bad feelings and a trigger for a brighter emotional landscape.

Inspiration for this topic came from a blog post that cites a TED Talk by Shawn Achor, a positive-psychology researcher and the founder of Good Think Inc. In the video, Shawn disputes the conventional wisdom that success creates happiness and says that positive-psychology research suggests the converse is true: happiness creates success. He documents five proven techniques for achieving success by focusing first on happiness:

  • Write down three things about which you’re grateful. This practice rewires your brain for the habit of scanning the world with a bias toward the positive instead of the negative.
  • Journal about a positive experience. The act of writing allows your brain to relive the positive experience.
  • Get some exercise. The habit of physical exercise teaches your brain that your behavior matters.
  • Meditate. This practice allows your brain to focus on the task at hand instead of being distracted by many tasks.
  • …[Read more]