Billy and Brian talk to Janet M. Taylor, an Organizing Expert with over 28 years experience. She is the host and producer of the Got Clutter? Get Organized! podcast. Janet was crowned Clutter Free Queen by Rachael Ray in 2018, and she is here today just in time for spring cleaning to help us do some decluttering and organizing.
We ask Janet:
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Janet: And there’s a statistic that says that 80 percent of the stuff we keep, we never reference again. And we wear 20 percent of our clothes 80 percent of the time. So we got them sneakers, those jeans, the jacket we always grab. Even for ladies, the pocketbook we always take even though we have one to match just about every outfit we own, we still take the same one every day. So it’s the same premise.
Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis, a podcast for people navigating the complexities and possibilities of life’s second half. Join your hosts, Billy and Brian, a couple of average dudes who will serve as your armchair life coaches as we share our life experiences, both the good and the bad, in an effort to help us all better understand how we can enjoy and make the most of the life we have left to live in a more meaningful way. Take a deep breath, embrace the present, and journey with us through The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
Billy: Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. I’m your host, Billy, and, as always, I’m joined by my good friend, Brian on the Bass. Brian, how you doing over there, man?
Brian: I am sterling today, Billy.
Billy: Sterling? What makes you so sterling today?
Brian: Sterling. I’m admirable, I’m excellent, I’m first rate, I’m magnificent.
Billy: Yeah, yeah, you are all those things.
Brian: Sterling. Mostly because of our guest today, Billy.
Billy: Yes, our guest is here to make us feel a little bit more sterling. Our guest today is Janet M. Taylor. Janet was crowned Clutter Free Queen by Rachael Ray in 2018. She is here just in time for spring cleaning. Janet is an organizing expert with over 28 years of experience and she is the host and producer of the Got Clutter? Get Organized! podcast. Janet, like I said, is here to help us with spring cleaning so that we can declutter, we can organize our spaces, and organize our lives. I think we can all use that right now. Welcome to the show, Janet M. Taylor.
Janet: I am so happy to be here with you, Billy, as well as you, Brian. I’m excited about this episode.
Billy: I’m excited too. We were talking offline here and you’ve got a good energy and I imagine it’s because you are able to just kind of keep your space and keep your soul clean and I think those two things very much go hand in hand.
Janet: Yes, they do. I love a clear clean space but I also like a clear mind as well.
Brian: I could use your advice, Janet. I have too much stuff all the time. All the time. I’m trying, I’m trying so hard to minimize my life but with bands and studio and musicians, I just have so much stuff and it’s driving me crazy.
Billy: You also have three boys wreaking havoc in your home.
Janet: Okay, all right, we’ll, see, now, I’m just going to have to kind of take that advice I was going to give you and pull back a little bit and kind of reconfigure it. But, sometimes, a lot of times when we do feel like we’ve got a lot going on, a lot of times, it’s just a matter of us just taking a moment, breathing, and really planning and strategizing just our next move. And, sometimes, the next move could be the next hour, it could be the next day or the next week.
Billy: Well, that’s what we’re going to get into today, but before we do that, we like having our guests talk about the 10 roles that they play in their life. Janet, what are the 10 roles that you play in your life?
Janet: This is a very hard list for me, but best friend, Godmother, friend, CEO, organizer, trainer, podcast host, podcast producer, plant mom, and I put city lover but actually like a city lover, I like walking, that’s why I love the city because I love walking.
Billy: You put down best friend as one of the three roles that you are most looking forward to in the second half of life. What is it about being a best friend that you love?
Janet: So, I chose that because my best friend and I, we have known each other since eighth grade and we’ve gone through all the phases, the teen years, the 20, when she got married, she had children, and now, the other day, I literally text her, I said, “Who would have thought we will be having a conversation about retirement and when is the best age for either of us to retire?” So I’m looking forward to that because then we’ll be able to hang out a little bit more.
Billy: Oh, that’s exciting. Are you excited for retirement?
Janet: I am excited. I already have my account set up for Social Security and I’ve given all my friends like, look, you got to out there and find out what your age is when you can fully retire and get all your benefits. That’s what it’s about right now.
Billy: So here’s a question for you then. As a godmother, are you looking forward to spoiling those children as their godmother? Or are you not the fairy godmother?
Janet: Well, see, I had to learn a long time ago in regards to spoiling them, it wasn’t about the stuff. It was about my time. So I’ve been doing that throughout their lives and now that they are actually 25, soon to be 26, and 22, we still text each other and the other day, the oldest one, my godson, sent me a heart and he said, “You know, I’m really looking forward to when we can spend time together again.”
Billy: That’s a great, and Brian and I actually have talked about how we don’t really give — I don’t give my nieces and nephews presents, like tangible presents. I give them experiences. That’s how I spend my money on them for their birthdays or for Christmas. And, Brian, you had talked about how you do some material items for the boys still, but, really, they get to pick a big experience and you and one of your boys just went — where did you go recently?
Brian: Yeah, we went to Disney World, Charlie and I, so for the major milestone birthdays, 10 and 18, we said, “You can go anywhere in the world and you get to pick somebody to go with you.” So, in this particular case, for Charlie’s 10th birthday, he wanted to go to Galaxy’s Edge down at Disney World so he picked me to go so he and I went down there for three days and had a great time and had a wonderful experience rather than, “Here’s your thing that you’re gonna play with for a little while and throw away and probably won’t ever remember.”
Billy: And add to the clutter in your household.
Brian: Add to the clutter, yes, which we want to try to somehow reduce.
Billy: And, Janet, you also put here that you’re looking forward to being a podcast producer. Now, you have your own podcast so you’re a host, but, interestingly, you put the producer so what is it about the producer side that you enjoy?
Janet: I enjoy bringing it all together, but I think it’s just because it’s the organizing piece of it. I mean, I think a lot of times when people see what we do, they think, “Oh, you’re sitting behind a mic, you’re just talking to a few people,” but it’s really bringing all those pieces together and making sure it’s a flow. And I enjoy that. I really enjoy that. And I want to continue doing that as long as I can.
Billy: Well, again, if you’re looking for investment opportunities with your retirement money, I know a small indie podcast that would benefit from an angel investor in some way. We do our best to promote people who look out for us.
Brian: Did you just solicit one of our guests for sponsorship? I think you did.
Billy: Listen —
Janet: I heard it. I heard it loud and clear and I will definitely keep that in mind.
Billy: Here’s the thing, if you are looking to declutter, I think you should declutter your bank account into ours.
Brian: You know, I think you’ve got a business idea there. Maybe you guys could go in business together and find people to declutter their bank accounts.
Billy: Isn’t that called a Ponzi scheme? Maybe we should avoid that.
Brian: Yeah, maybe this is a bad idea. Maybe we should see what Janet’s really got for us.
Billy: Well, that’s a good idea so let’s do this. Let’s take a quick break and then when we come back, we are going to talk to Janet about how we can declutter so we can better organize our lives.
Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
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If you’re listening somewhere safe and quiet, close your eyes and slowly inhale for four, three, two, one. Hold for seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Slowly exhale for eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Let’s do that one more time. Inhale for four, three, two, one. Hold for seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Slowly exhale for eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Go ahead and open your eyes. You feel better? We certainly hope so. And now back to the show.
Billy: Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. We are here with Janet M. Taylor and she is here just in time for spring cleaning. You can find her on Instagram at @janettheorganizer. You can go to her website, which is www.janetmtaylor.com. Very important to put the M in there as my understanding. Correct, Janet?
Janet: Yes, it is. M stands for Marie and it definitely means everything to me.
Billy: It sounds like you originally were going to go with Janet Taylor and then there was another person who had that who was not in the decluttering business.
Janet: Yes, that is so true. When I first started out, the person who was working on my website, she was doing all the behind the scenes research and she said, “Janet, we can’t use your name,” and I’m like, “Well, why not? I’m Janet Taylor,” and she’s like, “Well, there is a Janet Taylor out there.” But like you said, she’s not in the cluttering business, she’s doing something else, and she said, “You don’t want that confusion so we are going to use your middle initial.” I said okay.
Billy: We also want to make sure that we advertise that you are doing online classes at www.getklatch.com and we’ll make sure that we link everything in the show notes as well. What do you cover in that Get klatch course?
Janet: That specific course is about time. It’s mastering your time to get things done. And it just shows you strategies on how to manage your time, manage your projects, manage your life so you’re not overwhelmed, you’re not stressed, and you’re not burned out.
Billy: Oh, wow. That sounds like an amazing course for people to be taking right now, especially as we’re going through year 2 of the pandemic. I know some things are somewhat getting back to normal but I don’t know if people’s mindsets have shifted back to not feeling that burnout. So that sounds like a wonderful course. So, if that’s what you’re feeling, if that’s something that you need, go to that website. Again, we’ll link it in there so that you can access that course. I was listening to your podcast and I really enjoy your podcasts because it brings about that awareness of, “What is it that I need? What is it that I can get rid of?” I know on Tuesdays, you have something like Toss It Tuesday. You have —
Janet: It’s Toss It Tuesday.
Brian: Tell me more about this. I need to know about Toss It Tuesday. Janet, what is Toss It Tuesday?
Janet: So, Toss It Tuesday is, I guess it’s almost like a movement because sometimes people always bring it up in conversations, and it’s really just a focus on getting rid of something. Because if you toss, say, if you toss something every Tuesday, for a year, that’s almost like 52 items or 52 weeks of getting rid of something. Now, of course, my latest Toss It Tuesday has been focused on the tote bag because the average woman’s bag is like anywhere from seven to nine pounds and I said if the bag is seven to nine pounds, how much is your tote bag, so let’s get rid of anything you’ve read, those receipts you don’t need, maybe those wrappers of stuff you’ve eaten, or just stuff that you really need to get rid of and that’s really what Toss It Tuesday is about. Sometimes, it may be just getting rid of the chargers to all the devices that you’ve already gotten rid of but you still have all them right around, and then you’re trying to figure out, “Well, where does this go to? Oh, we got rid of that like two or three years ago.” So, Toss It Tuesday.
Billy: I liked that. As you were talking about the bag, it reminded me of all the dirty backpacks that I’ve had to go through as an educator for the last 21 years. Brian, I don’t know, do you go into your boys’ backpacks ever?
Brian: No, I don’t, but it reminded me of my wallet. I was one of those guys that, I’m sitting crooked because my wallets like seven and a half inches underneath my backside sometimes. She’s nailing it. Like receipts, things that I have absolutely no need for and no idea why I would have saved them but they ended up there anyway.
Janet: I was going to say, and this is a tip for anybody but for the men in general. Those receipts, specifically, a lot of times, we have those receipts because we want to keep them for expenses, but then by the time you look at it, it’s faded, you can’t even tell what it is so just get rid of it. And so hopefully you won’t be sitting crooked anymore.
Billy: So what is it about an organized home that brings about joy and relaxation for you?
Janet: Because when you’re outside and you’re working and you’re doing projects, meeting clients, but just kind of dealing with the outside world, when you come in, your home should be your sanctuary. You should be able to come in and you should just be able to relax, you can take your shoes off, you can just sit in your chair and just kind of decompress. Or if you just want to go into the kitchen and just make yourself something healthy, I always say healthy, healthy to eat, you can just do it knowing that when you look for something or put your hand out, it’s right there and you’re not frustrated because you can’t find it.
Brian: And what I find too is with decluttering, when you buy stuff, you now have to invest time in taking care of that stuff, you know what I mean? Like you have to find a place to put it, maybe it needs to be cleaned or stored a particular way, or when you take it out, there’s prep to be able to deal with it before you actually use it. Like boats, people are like, “Oh, it’d be so fun to go out on the boat,” but what they don’t see is there’s the cleaning in the spring, there’s the descaling, whatever, pouring chemicals in this and that, all the other time that goes along with owning that thing, which is why I agree with your premise, Janet, it’s just less stuff means you have more time and peace to yourself.
Janet: And there’s a statistic that says that 80 percent of the stuff we keep, we never reference again. And we wear 20 percent of our clothes 80% of the time.
Brian: You’re totally right about that. That fits me to a T.
Janet: So we got them sneakers, those jeans, the jacket we always grab, even for ladies, the pocketbook we always take even though we have one to match just about every outfit we owe, we still take the same one every time. So it’s the same premise.
Brian: It’s like you’re seeing inside of my life here, Janet. This is like everything.
Billy: It’s interesting that you bring that up because I’m packing for my trip to South Korea right now and based on how I packed for Portugal and Spain, I’m taking about half of the clothes that I took to Portugal and Spain with me to South Korea because I’m like, “Well, I didn’t wear that shirt, that shirt, that shirt, or that shirt but I wore that shirt every day, I wore those pants every day,” so I’ve just downsized significantly and it’s made packing and hauling that stuff around too, like I’m going from place to place on long journeys or going on flights and I don’t want to lug that stuff around because it’s heavy. So, now I’ve just lightened the load. Like I was bringing exercise bands with me because I had fooled myself into thinking that I was going to do exercises with those bands and stuff like that. So, I’m glad that I have figured out that just travel simply, you’re just going to wear the same clothes over and over and over again, and who are you trying to impress while you’re traveling? Like you’re traveling solo, you’re not impressing anybody. So just simplify it, right? What do your clients say after you’ve helped them organize their homes?
Janet: Well, it was interesting, I was with a client the other day and I was actually just doing some work in her office and she did a dance and I was like, “I didn’t even know you could dance like that,” but a lot of them are so happy. Some of them say they’re Janet dependent. They just feel the stress has left them because not only can they see floor and spaces but it’s also easier for them to find things. So it’s just like that tranquil feeling.
Brian: You can consider a dance a five-star review, I think.
Janet: For this client, yes, for this client particularly, yes. She put her hands up in the air and she just did a dance because she was just so happy. And it was really, all I did was just organize, because she’s a very visual person and she likes to see things, which I can understand with some people, so I just kind of put some order to her bulletin board in her office and that was it. And she came in, as I turned her around, she was like, and then she just did a dance, so, yeah.
Billy: Oh, you did the big reveal. I like that.
Janet: It was a big reveal. And then sometimes, it’s just not necessarily the client per se but sometimes who they hire me to work with. So, one time, a woman, she hired me to work with her sons because she said, “If I work with them, it’ll be screaming, it’ll be hollering, it’ll be crying.” So, basically, they went to their rooms and I went back and forth and she was amazed at how much they were willing to get rid of but also in that moment, when she was saying how the youngest one was just wasn’t organized and couldn’t hang up his things, I said, “Well, maybe he couldn’t do that because he didn’t have any hangers.” That’s what we discovered in all of this. He needed some hangers in there. But also because his system had to be a little different because he was getting all the hand-me-downs from the oldest brother and his room couldn’t contain it. So, sometimes, it’s just those little discoveries. It’s just like, wow, I didn’t even realize that. But I’m here. I mean, my clients, they sing, they dance, they bake me things, which is always wonderful because I have a sweet tooth.
Billy: That reminded me of two things. First of all, one thing that I like to do is I hang my clothes one way at the beginning of the year, and then when I wear that outfit, then I switch the hanger to face the opposite direction because, that way, it clues me in to what I’m wearing year after year after year and if that hanger doesn’t switch directions, then I know that I didn’t wear it and I should probably get rid of that outfit. Now, I don’t always do it because sometimes I have a sentimental connection to that outfit or I convinced myself that, “No, no, no, this will be the year that I wear that shirt.”
Brian: I do the same thing.
Billy: But there have been times where I have gotten rid of stuff just because it’s like, you know what, I haven’t worn that and I don’t feel connected to it. The other thing when you talked about handing down, I get on my dad’s case because his house is so filled with clutter and I’m like, “Dad, have you ever thought about getting rid of this? You ever thought about getting rid of this? Do you look at this stuff even?” He’s like, “Yeah, I look at that stuff every day.” He doesn’t but he’s convinced himself that he does and his response is always, “I’m not dead yet, Bill, so quit trying to get rid of everything of mine.” To which I have no response. But the one thing that I’m noticing and that I’m starting to feel bad about is particularly when I walk downstairs at my dad’s house, I’m like there’s so much stuff here but it’s a lot of stuff that I left at his place and it’s like old pictures or old weight equipment and stuff like that and it’s like, “Oh, I’m part of the problem here.” And I wonder how often do you run into that where it’s adult children like me who are cluttering their parents’ homes?
Janet: So, one year, I was really feeling lit and I went on Facebook Live and I told all my friends, I said, “This Mother’s Day, I’m asking you to go to your parents’ homes and get all of your stuff and take it with you. That is what you can do for your mother this Mother’s Day.” And it is. A lot of times, I don’t know, it could be an emotional thing going on but there are a lot of parents across the country and around the world who have their children’s stuff. And, sometimes, I work with clients and they’ll have a box of their children’s things and I’ll say, “Well, did you call them?” because the child has gone on, has a house of her own, children of her own, but she still has the stuff from college and she said, “My daughter said I could throw it out.” I said, “Well, if your daughter said you can throw it out, then I suggest we need to get rid of it. We can donate what we can donate and throw out the rest.” But, sometimes, it could be an emotional attachment, but a lot of times, I think it’s the children who need to just go with boxes, maybe a truck, and just take all that stuff out of their parents’ homes.
Brian: My mom, and actually more my dad, has been giving me stuff for the last 20 years. Every time I go there, I get sent with stuff. But the real confession here is my mom saved a lot of stuff, to the tune of she needed a pole building to put it on. I’m talking like an 80 x 150-foot pole building and it took my dad five years to clean that thing out when he finally did, because my mom was incapacitated and couldn’t move anymore, she’s half paralyzed, but it took him five years to clean that thing out. That’s how much stuff was in there.
Janet: And it’s some of the things that our parents keep. I mean, my mother had every report card and then, of course, when she passed away, I inherited that stuff. But then I was keeping it and then I said, “Now, wait a minute. Who cares what my grades were in the third grade?” And if they do, well, I’m sorry, but these things are going, and I just got rid of them. People are like, “You got rid of your report cards?” Who cares? And then, sometimes, you just have to give a little nudge to the parents, like, “Okay, I don’t want it. Do you want it? Are we going to use it?” and then kind of let it go, because there’s a few reasons why people sometimes hold on. So, of course, those reasons are the first one is hoarding and that usually sometimes comes from people who lived in a specific era, depression, or sometimes it could be triggers, like one client, he was overseas and when he was overseas fighting in the war, there wasn’t any toilet paper. So, of course, when he came home, every time he saw one roll, it triggered him to go out and buy a case. But it was just finding a solution to where all of it would go. Then the second one is deferring and delaying decision. “I don’t feel like reading the mail, I don’t feel like taking the stuff out of the package, the box.” But what that does is there’s no more time tomorrow than there is today so, sometimes, it’s just opening packages or taking stuff and at least putting it in them room where it belongs. Then there’s that perfectionism and that is you see stuff on HGTV, Pinterest, Instagram, and feel that your place or your space has to look like that. And until it does, I’m not going to move forward, and the reality is I tell people to purge before they purchase, because like I shared, 80 percent of the stuff we keep, we never reference again. And then, of course, the last one is the sentimental and that’s because you’re trying to hold on to that memory. I share with everybody I was 30 before I’d even gotten rid of my prom dress. Yes, 30 years old. But that was because when I was in high school, I was thin, I had thick glasses, I got good grades, I was teased, but when I went on my prom, I felt like a princess so I was holding on to that. So, sometimes, it’s just kind of just letting go gradually.
Billy: You know, that’s interesting because one of the things that I’ve tried to get my dad to toss and, of course, these are things that I’ve contributed to his life, are old VHS tapes that I had that I gave to him because I don’t have a VCR anymore and I’ve said, “Dad, just get rid of these VHS tapes. This VCR doesn’t work. You couldn’t even sell this so let’s just throw these in the dumpster.” And he is of the mindset that this is from an era that I know and I want to keep some things around from my era so that I can remember what it was like in those old days. I don’t want to throw away my whole past. And, again, just like the I’m not dead yet, it kind of shut me down in that conversation and I don’t know that I need to change his mind on that because that sounds like a valid reason, but I guess what’s your take on that?
Janet: And I think it’s okay for people to keep things. I’m not the person that tells people they got to get rid of everything, because my mother, before she had me, she would travel a lot and she had a traveling trunk with a nice little tray inside. Well, I still have that. I mean, I use it as a coffee table and storage. And then she’s got these beautiful yellow gloves that came all the way up to her elbows, I can’t get rid of them. I’m not ready to get rid of them because that just kind of gives me a sense of her style and her, “I’m not going to do what everybody else does, I’m gonna get these bright yellow gloves,” and that’s okay, it’s all right. If it makes you happy and as long as it doesn’t come in the way or your movement or make you feel overwhelmed when you come into the space, it’s fine. Keep it. I mean, it took me decades before I got rid of my Noah’s Ark and my dollhouse, but that was because it was like, wait a minute, why do I keep moving with these things and I’m past the age and all that other stuff where I was going to have children, so I was like, you know what, I might as well get rid of it. But then, of course, I realized that I could make some big money and I sold it on eBay because I still had the original boxes.
Billy: There you go.
Brian: That’s awesome.
Billy: There you go.
Brian: Good for you.
Brian: That’s a satisfying way to get rid of stuff, isn’t it?
Janet: It was, because I saw — with the dollhouse, there was somebody selling just a dining room set for like $15. I was like, wait a minute, I got the whole house, the people, the car, the dog. Let me — so, yeah, so that kind of motivated me to kind of move that out of my house really quick.
Billy: How often do you incorporate technology in decluttering? Meaning people that have old photographs, or you mentioned receipts, I know that there are programs where you can just scan the receipts and they automatically upload or that sort of thing, or even just boxing up your pictures and sending them off to get scanned so they’re on just one small CD, that sort of thing. Do you incorporate technology in that way?
Janet: I love technology. I do suggest it. There are some clients who are more than willing to embrace technology but then there’s also those clients who are like, “I’m just not ready.” When I talk about reducing the paper clutter, have you thought about getting electronic statements instead of the physical statements or electronic notifications when bills are due, and some people are ready to embrace it, some aren’t. In regards to photos, I mean, I personally spent a summer just organizing all of the photos my mother had taken because she was a photographer and she also developed all her photos. It was from 1923 until the early 70s worth of photos so, basically, a lot of them I decided to scan. She was from a family of 10 so you take those 10 children and they all had children so I was distributing photos and copies of all of that stuff so I could get rid of it so I could reduce and keep what I wanted to keep. So, yes, I do embrace technology because it allows you to keep a lot more things and it also preserves things, specifically when you’re talking about photographs from the 20s or even before that.
Brian: That’s a super cool thing to do, Janet, that you did that for everybody too because it’s a piece of their history too. It’s like, I would find just looking at those photographs fascinating for the history aspect of it.
Janet: And it was. It was. I mean, it was exhilarating for me because I was like finally organized because they were in so many bins and they were the negatives. I mean, some of those negatives were from ’23, 1923, and just to be able to release them, and even though some of them are like, “Well, why are you giving us this?” I said, “Because this is you in your Easter suit, and I know right now, you are enjoying retirement but, hey, give it to your grandchildren. I don’t have any need for this. I just want the pictures of my mom,” and, of course, actually somebody sent me a picture of my great grandmother so that was really nice just exchanging all those pictures as well as that history.
Billy: What do you say to people who are like, “Well, I’ll just go buy some tubs and throw all that stuff in there and then organize it that way so that I still have all that junk but it’s nice and stacked and organized,” but they didn’t get rid of anything? Brian was waving his hand because —
Brian: I do that. I raised my hand because that’s me. I’m better now, I only have a couple of tubs, but I used to have a lot more. I had a small incident with a pole building too. Like I cleaned mine out.
Janet: Well, I always suggest to purge before you purchase so at least kind of categorize and see what you really want to keep, and if you do want to keep those things, then put them in the tub but also label the tub so at least she’ll know, “Okay, these are all the Christmas decorations. These are all the kids’ toys. These are all the clothes that right now nobody can wear from sizes five to seven.” So at least that way, you can save yourself time and frustration when you do go back in that bin and then you look because everything is like categorized because what you don’t want to do is just kind of dump everything, you’re looking for something, you open up that bin, it’s a combination of all kinds of things and then you’re getting frustrated because you’re wasting time and you need whatever that is. So, categorize and then label and then you can stack.
Billy: You know, Brian and I are from Minnesota and the one thing with regards to tubs that blows my mind is I know people who do this, they have a tub for their winter clothes and a tub for their spring and summer clothes and they’ll clear out their closet when winter rolls around from their summer clothes and put all their winter clothes in there and I’m like, “You have a lot of clothes. Why do you have so many clothes? Like you have clothes for all seasons of the year?” That is mind blowing to me because as I am trying to simplify things, and we had a conversation with Brian Gallagher who you can follow him at The Simple Man Guide, his episode is going to come towards the end of this season but he basically just got rid of everything in his place and just reduced it down to the bare minimum. He doesn’t have anything on his walls. I mean, now, he lives nomadically, but when he had his place, he just stripped it down to the bare essentials. But it blows my mind that there are people out there who have bins for summer clothes and bins for winter clothes and they store them and then when the season rolls around, they bust them out and hang them up and I’m just like, “Oh, my gosh. When was the last time you wore all of these clothes?” I dated a girl who had a separate closet, I would tell her all the time. “You just bought a new dress. You don’t need to buy a new dress for this wedding, you have a whole closet of dresses that I have never seen you wear.” She’s like, “I like buying dresses.”
Janet: Well, there’s a couple of things I wanted to say. So because I know a lot of people who are into decorating and things like that, they actually have separate bins for seasonal decorations, but as long as, and I tell people, as long as you have the space and it’s not overwhelming, it’s fine. Because a lot of these people, they have the garage, they’ve got the basements, they have the attics. But also, I knew a woman who decided to do some downsizing and one of the things that’s really stuck to me is that she said her special occasion dishes became her everyday dishes. She got rid of the everyday and started using the special ones every day and that was her way of just getting rid of and downsizing things. So, yes. And, Billy, I mean, yes, I’m organized and things like that but given the chance of getting a dress for an occasion, I’m going for the next outfit. The outfit with shoes and the handbag.
Billy: Fair enough. So, in one of your episodes on your podcast, you talked about having at least one place in your home that is organized. If it’s too overwhelming to do the whole home, just have one space. And, for you, it’s your bedroom. Why is it important to have at least one room or space in your home to be organized and why is the bedroom yours?
Janet: Because that is the first place, when I start my day, I get up out of bed, and that’s the first place. And then when I end my day, that is like the last place. And that’s the place where — you need one place in your home because of all the chaos, the kids, you got to walk the dog, you may be caring for somebody, you may have a stressful job, you need one place in your home where you can almost be like your sanctuary and you can just like throw yourself on the bed, which is why I’ll tell people make sure you get all that clutter off the bed, and then when you wake up in the morning, you shouldn’t see piles and things, because a lot of times, people keep all the paperwork, they have all the stacks of books around. It should just be a place where you can just like take a couple deep breaths and then start your day and then when you come home, shut the door, shut all that chaos that’s going on outside and just have a nice place so you have mental rest. It’s like recuperate, restore, rest, all of those things so you can give and do whatever you choose to do in this life. The podcast hosts and producers, doctors, the nurses, the teachers, the moms, whatever you decide to do.
Billy: Well, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to give all of you an opportunity to take a rest and take a break and then when we come back, we’re going to continue talking to Janet about how you can declutter and organize your life.
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Billy: Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. We are here with Janet M. Taylor. She is the host of the podcast Got Clutter? Get organized! You can find her on Instagram at @janettheorganizer. You can also visit her website, www.janetmtaylor.com. She has a class that she is offering on Klatch, you can go to that at www.getklatch.com. Of course, we will link all of this stuff in the show notes. Be sure to check those out. We have really valuable information for you in there, like how to get in contact with Janet, which I imagine many of you want to do because this episode is coming out in April and April is, Brian, spring cleaning season. So, Janet, neither Brian nor I are big New Year’s Resolution guys and considering New Year’s Resolutions fail, why do we put that much pressure like we do with New Year’s Resolutions on spring cleaning when we have three other seasons to declutter and organize our lives? I think you actually talked about in your podcast and it has something to do with our biology, is that correct?
Janet: Well, yes, and because those other seasons, specifically winter, fall and winter, our houses are closed, we’re indoors. All of a sudden, the weather changes, it’s getting nice outside, we open the windows, we open the doors, so that’s what the whole spring cleaning is because we want to kind of give everything a refresh. But in reference to New Year’s Resolutions, I suggest to people you create your own New Year, like, for me, because my birthday, I was born in September, September is my New Year so that’s when I really look at my goals and things like that. But, also, in regards to just the New Year is really more or less looking at what changes do you want to make. Do you want to better manage your time? Do you want to spend less time on your stuff or on the things in your life? So look at those in regards to your New Year’s goals instead of like just those New Year’s Resolutions.
Billy: I like that, because when I was working in education, my New Year actually started at the beginning of the school year, that’s when my New Year’s Resolutions were, so I appreciate that. That’s a nice way of looking at that. Where do people fall short when it comes to spring cleaning?
Janet: I think a lot of times people think they can do a lot more than the realist time that they realistically have. One time, a woman called me in October and she wanted to have her entire home organized by the end of the year, three-story home, so I just asked her a few questions. I said, “Well, who’s hosting Thanksgiving?” “I am.” “Well, who’s hosting Christmas?” “I am.” I said, “So right now, you’re talking maybe two or three weeks of prep, house cleaning, decorating, entertaining that have been taken off of your schedule.” And then she was like, “Oh,” and then also you work full time, you’ve got children that are very active in sports, football, so that’s football season, I said, “So, really, we’re talking about realistically maybe five days dedicated to this project.” So a lot of times, it’s just looking at really realistically what I can do so you decide, okay, it’s spring cleaning, I’m going to do the entire house. Well, what do I really need to focus on? Maybe, because everybody’s just a little rushed when they’re trying to find something to wear because they go out the house with mismatched shoes and socks, maybe we need to focus on the closet. And even when you do that, I tell people you don’t necessarily have to do the whole closet on a weekend. I do my clothes then I’ll do my shoes then I’ll do the handbags. I break everything down because it’s manageable for me because taking a project on like that, specifically, even something clothes, you want to be able to like, “Okay, can I fit this? Do I look good in it?” so that’s going to take time. So just pace yourself. Figure out what you want to do and then incorporate it into the time that you have realistically, looking at I’m a parent, I’m also taking care of Aunt Mary, I’ve also got the dog to walk, and I’ve got a couple of projects at work, so be realistic about what you can take on.
Billy: I like that because it sounds to me like basic goal setting and that you don’t want to go with the large goal, you want to start with small goals, which really relates to Toss It Tuesday. I mean, that’s what Toss It Tuesday is, is it’s just a consistent, small goal in order to declutter piece by piece by piece throughout the year. I really like that.
Janet: That is so true. I mean, it could be something as simple like maybe you’re just frustrated with the way things look when you enter the house. Well, if most people take the shoes off when they come in, so that could be just something as you’re doing a shoe rack, putting it right by the door, and just making sure the kids know, “When you come home, you put both shoes here, not just kick them over there,” and then that’ll be one thing. And then maybe the next week or in a couple more weeks, maybe get some hooks so that people can hang things like their book bags or their coats when they come in. And then, maybe third week or fourth week, you get a nice little container, it could be a basket, it could be a decorative box, every time the mail comes in, we just put it in here for mom and dad and then whenever mom and dad gets to it, it’ll be in one location.
Billy: You brought up children, so what advice do you have for parents like Brian who have three Sharknados, three boys under the age of 12 just wreaking havoc in the home but wants, has a true desire to organize the home or to declutter the home in some way?
Janet: Well, of course, it has to start with, of course, us adults first, because they follow our lead, but also just creating systems simple that they can keep up. Maybe, for example, sometimes they’re like, “I can’t find my school ID,” and then you waste so much time trying to find it, it’s maybe just getting a hook and like every time you come home, put it right here, that’s it, so you can find it in the morning. Or maybe the morning routine is a little kind of crazy so it could be maybe the night before, get them in the habit, “Okay, where’s everybody’s book bag? Does everybody have everything that they need? Here are your shoes, your socks so we do not go out with an orange and a yellow sock anymore.” Just kind of those little things because that’s also good for adults too, because one of the things that they found is if we spend 15 minutes the night before getting ready for the next day, we save ourselves an hour. So that could be figuring out our outfit, making sure our briefcase and tote is already packed. Now, we got to make sure, depending on where we go, if we got a mask, always have hand sanitizer near, making sure all that stuff. And then even if you take snacks, like, for me, depending on where I go, a lot of times I like to have my little snacks and my water, making sure I have that so I can just grab it in the morning. So it’s doing those things, but that 15 minutes will save you an hour the next day.
Billy: That’s really good advice. Brian, is that something that you find applicable with your boys?
Brian: I do a lot of the stuff she’s talking about now, yeah, exactly. I prepare before — I lay out my clothes the night before because when I wake up in the morning, I don’t want to have to disturb everybody and be loud in the morning because I get up before everybody else so it’s out. I did it out of necessity but when you say it saves you a bunch more time, you’re probably right, it does. I did it for a different reason but the result has been exactly what you said. It’s like I feel in the morning, I’m ready to go, I can jump right into my shower, get my body ready, start heading into work, that kind of deal. Absolutely, everything she was talking about is applicable, yeah. And as far as the boys go, where stuff goes, like if there’s a place for something, that’s what we’re focusing on now. Hey”, guys, if you put it back where it belongs, you don’t have to look for it. It won’t be broken or kicked by someone else because it was laying on the floor,” that sort of thing. So in addition to time saving, yeah, just having a place for everything is important to reinforce.
Billy: Well, one thing that you talk about in your podcast too is helping people with ADD and ADHD stay organized and clutter free and so what are some tips that you provide for people with ADD and ADHD? And for parents with children who have ADD and ADHD, how do you help them keep a clutter free space despite the havoc children in general, you were just talking about that, but particularly people with ADD, ADHD, who have a hard time organizing those things?
Janet: Well, a lot of times, with people who have ADD or ADHD, it’s really about creating systems that work for them. So a lot of them are very visual, some of them like color, so a lot of times, it is using that vertical space. Maybe some pocket file folders that are colorful, clearly labeled so they can at least keep track of the paperwork. And, of course, with the children, a lot of times, it’s using different types of baskets and bins, keeping things open, using types of open shelving in order to really help them, one, have access to things but also make it simple for them to put things back when they’re finished with them. And sometimes you got to make a game out of it, depending on the age of the children anyway. We got the time route, who can get the stuff in the fastest, and then may be give them some stars or something. This week, you got it done, last week, she got it done, so sometimes doing those, using those type of systems, but also with people with ADD and ADHD, it’s really keeping spaces as clear because sometimes when they see too much stuff, it can get overwhelming so it’s really just maybe one or two things at a time and not really overwhelming them with a whole lot of piles of things.
Billy: We’re going to get you out of here on this. You talked a little bit about your Klatch class that you are offering and how not only do you help people organize their environments but you also help people organize time so that they can be more efficient. What are people going to get out of this Klatch class? You talked about it but give us a little bit more detail. What are some of the modules that you’re going to have? What are some of the things that you would talk about in there? What are some of the strategies that people will get from this Klatch class?
Janet: Of course, I always love telling people about how much they can save time, like I shared with you, the 15 minutes will definitely save you an hour, but I really like for people to really begin to think of their life and really begin to plan like strategies, specifically because everybody wants a work-life balance and you’ve got to work so many hours but you also have other things to do and really just plan that. And one of the things I’ll be sharing is just how I use everything, all the principles that I’ll be sharing with people. One of the things I started doing is I do food prep on Saturday mornings, because what that does, it makes it easier for me to, when my schedule gets a little full, where I can still eat a healthy meal without the sacrifice so I’m still taking care of myself but I’m not spending as much time in the kitchen. But also I spend once a week just sitting down and just strategizing my week. I already know when I’m going to have appointments, interviews, meetings, trainings, but then I also make sure I incorporate, okay, what day can you realistically do grocery shopping, because I still do grocery shopping, even though a lot of people do it online, but, to me, it’s a social occasion that gets me out the house so I do that. And then also when can I do laundry? When can I realistically do my cleaning? Because what I do, it just really allows me to live the life I want to live. Yes, I know I have to work but also to take care of my domain. And then also making sure I schedule in time with friends and family as well. So I’m going to be chilling, that’s why the class size is limited so everybody can kind of walk away with those strategies.
Billy: Do you find that people need to get their time in order before they can get their environment in order? Or is it the other way around? Or is it completely individual?
Janet: For some people is individual because they really have their environment okay but it’s just the calendar and that schedule that’s very hectic, whereas some people, they have things on a schedule but they’re just overwhelmed because of everything that’s on their schedule and they don’t have time to look after the physical environment. So it depends on the person, it depends on their personality. You’ll hear it. “Janet, I’m really organized at work but when I come home,” but that’s because you’re tired so you just need a little hands-on assistance. But then, of course, sometimes at work is because they’ve got so many different things going on, they just need a good system and place in order to continue on being effective and efficient.
Billy: Well, Janet, we really want to thank you because this is such a timely discussion since we are recording this in April and we are releasing this in April where people are most likely going to begin doing some of their spring cleaning. In Minnesota, I don’t know when spring is going to get here. It’s April 5th and it snowed again today. So, hopefully, by mid-May, people of Minnesota will be able to do their spring cleaning so you can use some of these tips here that Janet has shared. If you want more information from Janet, go to www.janetmtaylor.com. You can join that Klatch class, again, it’s www.getklatch.com and then search for Janet M. Taylor. You can access that in the show notes. Follow Janet on Instagram, @janettheorganizer, as well. Janet, like we said at the top of the show, you can just tell that because you keep your affairs in order and because you keep things decluttered, you can just tell that your energy is decluttered and that your soul is decluttered and you are absolutely deserving of that crown that is behind you that says that you are the Clutter Free Queen. I wish everyone could see here Janet has a crown that she got from Rachael Ray. Did Rachael Ray bestow it upon your head? I do want to know.
Janet: Well, actually, Peter Walsh bestowed it upon my head. Peter Walsh, who is like the guru, he was on Oprah’s show as her organizer so he bestowed it on my head, which just made it even more special, I was like, I can’t believe — I couldn’t even believe I was standing next to him. And then when he touched my shoulder and said, “Janet gets the crown,” I was like, “Wow.”
Billy: Is there a YouTube clip of this somewhere that we can put in the show notes?
Janet: I believe I do have clips, yes. I can send those clips to you.
Billy: Because I do want to see this because I bet that that was a thrilling moment for you.
Brian: Me too.
Billy: Janet, thank you so much for sharing those tips with us. We really, really appreciate it. For Janet, for Brian, this is Billy. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. May you feel happy, healthy, and loved. Take care, friends.
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