Habitual organization: Q+A with Kathie England

Kathie England

After the dot-com bubble burst in 2000, Kathie England was laid off from her job at a software company. She had done a great deal of traveling for her job, so before diving back into the workforce, she decided to take some time and get herself organized. Before she knew it, others were asking her to help them, too.

She learned about the National Association of Professional Organizers and launched her business, Time for Success, in 2002. In 2009, Kathie England was among the first class of certified organizer-coaches, a subgroup of organizers who use their coaching and teaching skills to help clients achieve better long-term results.

“The focus of a coach is to help people really get down to the foundation of what’s going on and discover many times it’s not about the stuff, it’s about the attitudes and beliefs we have about our stuff that gets us into trouble,” says England, who is based in Portland, Ore., and offers individual and group coaching, as well as public speaking engagements.

(For those outside the Portland area, Kathie England offers virtual workshops. Her next tele-workshop is slated for Feb. 27 and is entitled  Tips for Working Smarter, Part 1.)

In our short half-hour phone conversation, England had me re-thinking my cluttered bedroom closet. She discussed the Three S’s and the Three H’s that can help you get any space under control — and keep it that way.

Stand up Kathie England

Kathie England and the Three S’s

1.) Small steps: The old saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day” applies to taming your storage spaces, as well. Don’t feel like you have to tackle your whole house — or even your entire closet — in one sitting.

“The most troublesome thing people face is paper,” England says. “It starts off being in the office, but frequently I’ve seen it spill all over the house — on the kitchen counters, the dining room table, in the bedroom.

“With a client, I would ask them to choose one area of their house where the paper was really bugging them and just focus on that. Maybe it would be just the desktop, because if you can get your desk cleared off, it gives you some space to work.”

2.) Set an appointment with yourself: Oftentimes, things get out of control because we feel there are not enough hours in the day to devote to getting re-organized. It’s important to set an appointment and make time to accomplish your organization goals.

“Actually get that appointment on your calendar, write it down or put it in your phone, just as you would an appointment with a dentist or doctor,” says England.

3.) Set a timer: Then, set a timer for how long you’d like to spend decluttering that particular space.

“One of the reasons people don’t get around to the things they want to do is because it seems too big or overwhelming,” England says. “I would invite people to set a timer for maybe 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, stop and look at the progress you’ve made.”

READ ALSO:  Paper Organization: Dealing with Time Sensitive Papers

Homes and Habits: Kathie England and the Three H’s

1.) A home for things: Everything needs a home. From books and papers to pots and pans, every item in your house needs a place to live.

“The home is the consistent space for something to live,” England says. “The reason stuff just starts piling up is usually because it doesn’t have a home.”

Moreover, she emphasizes, monitor those homes to make sure they don’t become too full. If you can’t get another sheet of paper into the filing cabinet, it’s time to comb through it and recycle or shred old, unnecessary documents to make room for new ones.

(And again, to do that, England recommends setting an appointment and a timer to ensure you make time to complete that task.)

2.) A home for activities: Besides putting things on your calendars, also keep two lists: a master list, which lists every project you want to accomplish, and a to-do list (or “today list” as England calls it) for projects you will take on today.

“Most people can get three to seven things on a today list accomplished, depending on how long the thing is going to take,” England explains.

3.) Positive habits: As you get things re-organized, recognize — and correct — those habits that created the clutter in the first place.

“Put things in your closet, rather than dropping them on the floor. Put the paper in the file drawer or wherever it lives,” England advises. “Small changes like that can make a huge difference.”

Thanks again to Kathie England for taking the time to drop some knowledge. If your small steps, timed appointments, and improved habits show you that you need more room for your stuff, contact Uncle Bob’s Self Storage for affordable storage options. We’ll show you the best storage options for you and your lifestyle. Check us out online.



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