H.O.M.E Book – Meet the Author

Adele Blair is a born organiser. As a child, she would often incorporate a room “rearrange” into any given play date; and from a very early age she watched on as her parents successfully ran two business’ and a thriving home. The need for organisation was ever present and it’s importance to a harmonious household, was second to none.  Her lifelong passion for planning, sorting and streamlining was her inspiration for creating this book and Adele joins us now to discuss the importance of organisation and her practical guide to storing your belongings.

Adele, thank you for joining us. Throughout your personal and professional life you’ve witnessed firsthand the importance of ‘being organised’ and you’ve shared this wonderful ‘how to’ guide with all of us. Why is being organised so important?

“It’s important for the home to be a place of rest for a family. Often when there’s a lot of clutter and disorganisation it can lead to a lot of disharmony and that can be from things as simple as, “I can’t find my school shoes where have you put them?” because there’s no designated area for them, to arguments because bills have been misplaced because they’re just piled up on the kitchen counter because there’s no system around how that’s managed. Without some sort of organisation it leads to a lot of conflict in the household. It’s also a really good discipline for the whole household to pull together as a team to make this environment work for everyone. It shouldn’t be up to one person; mum or dad. It’s about demonstrating best practice to other people in the household cause it really is, monkey see/monkey do; for example if dad comes in and throws his sports bag by the front hall, he’s hardly in a position to tell the children to pick up after themselves.”

What’s the knock on effect of being disorganised?

“There are a lot of costs of being disorganised. There’s a financial cost of misplacing bills, paying overdue fees, missing out on vouchers you may have been given as a gift because you’ve lost of misplaced them, not returning library books and getting penalties, not claiming medicare receipts cause you can’t find them; there’s a huge financial cost.

There are health implications; if there’s a lot of clutter around it can cause dust and allergies. We’ve seen extreme cases where we’ve seen infestations. We know some family’s engagement with asthma has reduced as a result of being decluttered. It can keep the air cleaner by having less clutter around. Mildew is another one as a result of clutter.

Then there’s peoples relationships; arguments can be caused as a result of ‘why can’t I find something’, ‘why is the house such a mess’ or ‘I can’t have my friends for dinner because my house is such a mess’. There’s a lot of emotion that goes around being organised. I think a lot of people think, well my house in neat and tidy I’m fine. It’s not about neat and tidy. Being organised is a whole different thing.”

So what is your approach to organising?

“The approach to organising here has always been that; don’t try and look at your entire house, you’ll get into a state of overwhelm.

It’s almost like you might go on a diet because you have to lose 20kgs but if you focus on the 20kg you’ll never get it done but if you focus on one kilo then you will. It’s the same approach to every massive project. We choose an area that is causing the greatest amount of pain and start with that first or if that’s too much start with try something that you think you can manage; it might just be the junk drawer in the kitchen.

If you say, “right today I’m going to declutter the house” that’s an unrealistic expectation. It’s just starting, and starting small. The other thing that’s key, is allowing plenty of time. It’s not something that takes one hour; it’s many many hours of work. So be prepared for it and plan for it. Allow plenty of time because you’ll get distracted.”

How long should you allocate to each project?

“It depends on the extent of the clutter. A pantry can take at least 4 hours. A spare room could be just a wardrobe or it could take 6 hours. I think that people see television shows where a ‘declutter’ gets jammed into a one hour time slot but it may be a full week’s worth of work that has gone into it (and lots and lots of people helping, not just you), so it does take a lot of time to get it going, to get a bit of momentum and to see results.

It’s about having little ‘wins’ along the way and that’s why I wrote the book the way I did. The majority of people are pretty ok and it’s usually just one space; the kitchen, home office, pantry or the kids toy room; one area that really gets on their goat. With H.O.M.E they’re going to be able to flick to that page in the book and deal with it. They won’t have to read ‘War and Peace’ to get to the answer, they can turn to the page, have a look at the recipe, see what they need and just crack on with it. Each project is in easily digestible pieces.”

It’s one thing to get organised, it’s another thing entirely to stay organised; how often do you suggest people ‘fine-tune’ their space?

“It’s not always a set and forget, it’s a set and maintain process. Some spaces will look after themselves but if you’re doing a home office you’ve got to keep filing your paperwork in the filing system you’ve just created; and with the kids toys you need to keep putting them away in the place that you’ve created. Unless the people that are interacting with the systems are also disciplined to follow the organising rule then you’re going to be doing it every week. It’s a little bit ‘every day by everyone’. It becomes part of your lifestyle. If you can see that it’s having a positive impact on your household, then why wouldn’t you?”

If you were to pick one key space within a home to organise as a priority, what area would that be?

“Everyone is different. Some people might say my whole house is great except my office is a disaster, or, I’ve got the smallest kitchen in the planet and I just can’t stay organised. I’d say if you were trying to refine your organising in order to get maximum effect I would go for the family dining room, where it meets the kitchen, because that tends to be the main dumping ground for stuff and it’s also the place that has the most demands placed on it in terms of function.

The dining table is used for eating, it’s can also be used as a home office and where the kids do their homework; that one piece of timber serves a lot of purposes so can we break that function down a bit? It’s not just about decluttering. It’s determining what you want a space to do for you. need to be realistic about how much functionality one little space can offer you effectively.”

For a lot of people, getting organised can feel overwhelming; what your advice for them?

“It can be overwhelming. So my advice would be: start small; like really small, micro small; just do a drawer and see how it feels.

A lot of people are overwhelmed with organising because they think they’re going to have to throw a lot of things away and that’s terrifying. They think, how do I decide what to give away and what to throw away? It’s at this point where it can be really helpful to get a professional organiser in to get you started. To give you the confidence to say it’s actually ok to give things away and recycle things, send things to charity and if it’s completely broken and just gathering dust, to throw it away.

If people are worried about landfill, well it’s still landfill in your house! Whether it’s in actual landfill or sitting in your house, it’s still having the same effect! There’s the thought that “I might need this one day” – well probably not. “I got it as a bargain I can’t get rid of it” – well it’s not money anymore, it’s a ‘thing’ so forget the correlation with money.

There’s still a bit of emotion around scarcity and impoverishment. Particularly older people we’ve worked with who might have grown up through the depression and the thought of throwing away something that’s perfectly good is just unthinkable. We’re working with more people in that age group and they’re actually getting quite liberated which is exciting. “Mums” is another category where they want to keep everything every child has ever done. We suggest taking photographs of their artwork then you can make a book of all their art and give it to them, or make a screensaver out of their work because if they’re on a screensaver you can see more of them! You can negotiate with the kids that way.

The other thing we see a lot of is people storing their mothers or grandmothers treasures, which they can’t get rid of for sentimental reasons. You’re not actually respecting the items that belonged to your mum or the memory of your mum by piling them up in the garage. There’s a lot of psychology that goes into it – often all people want or need is permission to let these items go. When it gets to that level of overwhelm its time to call a professional organiser. It might be to do the whole project with you or just the beginning stage. People need to feel as though the process of giving certain items away is a positive experience not a negative one.”

What’s the best piece of organising advice you’ve received or given?

“There are two: organising is about retrieval. It’s about putting things away in such a fashion that you’re easily going to be able to get to them and mentally, you know where something is. When we create an organising system for someone else we try to think how he or she think, not how we think.

Secondly, always put ‘like’ with ‘like’. Put everything that’s the same, together. If it’s DVDs for instance; if they’re all in the same place and you can’t see it, you don’t have it. This will make retrieval so much easier.

At the beginning of this conversation we were talking about things that we can’t find. I can’t find the school bag; I can’t find the bill to pay… It’s about retrieval. You’re keeping it for a reason so you can find it. If you didn’t need to find it again you could throw it out.

 

Retrieval is the difference between neat and organised.”

Thank you Adele for your words of wisdom and your expert advice.

Click HERE to preview the first chapter FREE.

To purchase your copy of Adele’s H.O.M.E Book click HERE.