I consider myself to be a pretty organized person. I wouldn’t say that I struggle with getting rid of stuff and don’t consider myself to be overly sentimental about things. Yet after living in our home for 6+ years and having two growing children, a husband and managing businesses from home, I found myself overwhelmed with clutter. Piles of stuff that I didn’t know what to do with.

I enlisted the help of my friend Michelle Palamara, professional home organizer and owner of Cora Jane Co. in Macungie, PA to help me tackle my home office. My office is located just off our kitchen and is the source of most of my overwhelm. Plus it’s a space that has multiple functions. Not only do I work in my home office, my husband stores important paperwork in our office, and we have a craft/kid table set up where they can do homework or art projects together.

Before of my home office, over-cluttered, lots of piles, no systems for the kids or our paperwork.
Second view, before we organized the space.

Here’s some of the ways that Michelle helped me reclaim my home office:

She helped me define clear goals and address pain points in our spaces.

Michelle visited my home in early February for a consult in which we spent time going through my office. She asked a lot of questions and made suggestions of things I should consider implementing. She took measurements, pictures, and wrote lots of notes as we went through the space.

From there we came up with a list of clearly defined goals:
– A command center for important bills and paperwork for both Tyler and I and the kids.
– A small bulletin board to pin things like school calendars, permission slips, things that I need “out” and easy access to.
– A chore chart system for both kids.
– A separate set of drawers with organized arts & crafts items for the kids.
– Decluttering and relocating things such as gift related items, essential oils, extra books, an old filing cabinet.
– A tidier set up for Tyler’s important bills & paperwork that is EASY for him to access.
– Set up a “gifting” area (plastic chest of drawers) in my guest room closet for things like ribbon, tissue paper, gift bags, etc thus consolidating everything into one place.

She made suggestions on things that I hadn’t thought of.

Initially when I had her visit, I wasn’t planning to create a command center set-up or a chore chart for my kids. Because Michelle is a mother of elementary & middle school aged children, she knows what lies ahead of me in the realm of homework, kids activities, etc. She really encouraged me to think about a clearly defined set-up to better manage the kids stuff. Prior to creating a command center, I was piling important kid stuff on my desk and had difficulty keeping track of things.

Command center set up has three separate bins, one for Leona, one for Turner and one for Home stuff. Home stuff has folders for personal bills, bills for our second home, and important house papers. We also created a zippered pouch for gift cards & gift certificates.

She took care of all the details and shopping.

As the organizer, she took charge of measuring the space to determine what size bins // organizers are needed. After our initial consult we spent time communicating back and forth via text and she sent different links and ideas of things to consider in the space. I appreciated that she shopped for the best deal and again, she took care of ordering, purchasing and bringing the stuff to my house.

She released me from the guilt of getting rid of things.

As we were purging and organizing my office on “organizing day” she said a quote to me that has SO much truth: “Clutter is postponed decisions.” So often we choose to not donate or sell something because we get paralyzed in the decision. What if I need this again? I feel guilty throwing this away. Couldn’t someone else use this? All of these unanswered questions haunted me from taking the step and DOING SOMETHING with my stuff. She really helped me navigate some of those decisions.

She packed her van full of my donate items and donated them for me!

The worst part for me about organizing a space or decluttering is THEN taking the final step and donating those items. I am notorious for transferring a pile to my basement or garage “just in case” I decide I may later need or get the itch to sell the items. She eliminated that process by promptly loading those items into her vehicle for me.

Gifting bin set up in guest room closet.

She made the process seamless.

After our initial meeting she came up with a plan and a list of my defined goals for the space. From there she told me how many “sessions” I would need to tackle my space. She also sent me a list of things to work on prior to our organizing session. After our organizing session was over she sent me a few additional suggestions on things I can do on my own to further maximize my spaces and keep them organized and decluttered long term.

Overall the entire process was well worth it. It was also cathartic to be rid of old things that weren’t serving me anymore. I also didn’t realize how helpful it would be to have a third party person that isn’t sentimentally attached to the way a space is utilized AND has a knack for organizing.

AFTER!!! Everything has a home!! I even had enough room once we removed a filing cabinet, to add a houseplant!
Another after shot. We added a bulletin board on the left wall, relocated a table to create an “L” shape for the kids arts & crafts area.

If you’re in the same boat as me and struggle with the overwhelm in managing stuff and your home, reach out to Michelle! She is a professional home organizer located in Macungie, PA and serves the greater Lehigh Valley area.