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Podcast S1 E6 How To Win at Organizing with Trevor

Updated: Jan 19, 2023

[00:00] Sav: Okay. ‘You ready?

Trevor: Ready.

Sav: Thanks for coming back. You want to introduce yourself?

Trevor: My name is Trevor, husband to Master Organizer Sav.

Sav: ‘You ready for today's show?

Trevor: Ready for today's show.

Sav: Do you know what it's about?

Trevor: Probably organizing.

Sav: Today's show is themed “How to Win at Organizing”.

Trevor: How to win.

Sav: How to win. Yeah. I feel overarching. I'd say we're winning at organizing in our house.

Trevor: Is that because so many people try and end up failing?

Sav: So many people try and they quit or so many people get overwhelmed and they never start.

Trevor: Just like default back to their messy patterns.

Sav: Yeah. Or have aspirations and don't know where to start or don't put the time to start. Anyways, today is not about that. Today's about how you can win at organizing. Part one: Stealth decluttering. Part two: How To. And Part three: The Best of

Sav: So before we get into part one, what would you say is the number one thing that you and I are winning at organizing in our home?

Trevor: I would say I'm winning at the dish -

Sav: You or us? You're going You. That's fine.

Trevor: Yeah. I mean, this is my task, so technically it's my department, but it's our house. I would say we are winning together inside of our home at the dishes.

Sav: You do a stellar job. My favorite part is that at the end of each day, our role in our house is that the kitchen is fully reset, which means nothing's on the counter unless it permanently lives there and nothing's in the sink. And that's all clean. And you blow - What is the expression?

Trevor: Blow it out of the water.

Sav: Blow it out of the water. All right. I would say we're also winning, and I'll go to my department, my department's laundry, and I'm kicking butt. I feel like I have a really great system, and it never gets overwhelming because I trust the system and I follow through with my action plan. Would you agree?

Trevor: 100%. I love always having fresh socks and underwear.

[02:30 ] Part One: Stealth Decluttering

Sav: Okay, part one, stealth decluttering. How did you do it? I live with semi hoarder parents who discouraged me from decluttering my own possessions. A couple of people recommended stealthy cluttering and oh, it's been exciting. Every day I load up my work backpack with stuff to get rid of. Think junkie items, cardboard boxes, old clothes, etc. On my walks to work, I stop by and gradually empty out my junk at various trash bins and make a stop at the donation bin too. How do you do your stealth decluttering? Trevor: Ooh, stealth decluttering.

Trevor:: Yeah. I mean, one that comes off the top of my head, which Nancy, my old boss. This is one of her strategies is the way that she put clothes back in on a hanger. If they sat that way for more than a month or two months, which basically indicated to her that they haven't been worn in two months, then it was time to let that clothing down.

Sav: Totally. Okay. So just to clarify, in that scenario, I know what you're talking about. So instead of putting the hanger with the hook downward so it looks nice on the outside, she flipped the hanger to denote what had or hadn't been worn. I kind of do that, too. I'm thinking of two stealthy moves. One is we have a designated donation bin, and anytime I try something on or I'm using something and there's friction, as in it doesn't fit me right, or I don't feel my best or it hurts my wrists. If I'm using something or I haven't used it in years, I don't have to give it a second thought. It immediately goes boom into donation bin, and it's dealt with. That's my stealth move. It's quick action. It's easy, and it is a system. Into the sneaky part, I think I could confess that one of the stealthy things I do - is everything in our house is extremely hyper organized, and I'm okay with that. And I think it's beneficial to both of us in our lifestyles, and we've talked about that before. But when I am bored or I'm feeling motivated or I'm in a specific room and something stands out to me, my stealth move is that I'll take like 1 minute and I'll do a quick organizing. Like, I'll rearrange things I'll declutter. And so the stealthy part is that then I'll say, oh, look, I reorganize the laundry room, or look, I reorganized the linen closet today. Did you notice the differences, the changes in the pantry? Like, how do you like that?

Trevor: Yeah, I noticed. That's a great quality that you've had over the years. I, for some reason, can't just put one to five minutes on something like that. I feel like I got to spend like, an hour or something just banging the whole thing out, which ultimately puts the whole job, it postpones it. I think that's a good quality, just like we do two minutes here, two minutes there. Because those two minutes all add up.

Sav: They definitely do well. That actually makes me think of my timer. I use a visual timer. I use one in the classroom. It's super helpful, especially for young kids. And then I use a timer. It's permanently on my desk. And I do that for all of my tasks because I want to stick to my system, which is block calendaring. And that is world changing for me. So I like that. And for clients, I'm always like get a timer out, set that timer for five minutes. But yeah, I see it's a barrier for some folks to change pages quickly. Top response. Yeah, I put stuff in my bags and take it away to dispose of outside of the house. If anyone ever asks, saying “Where is this?” I say, “I don't know, it must be around here somewhere”, shrugging will do the trick. Lol.[laughs] I can relate with that in artwork. That is like one area that I see over and over for families where they have so much coming in and artwork is everywhere and parents can be sneaky and kind of just let some go. And I think that's totally healthy.

Trevor: My mom had this sort of expression growing up because our family wasn't the most organized. My dad was pretty organized. I actually was the most organized. My brothers are absolute slobs.

Sav: Oh my gosh. Your dad even had in his wedding speech for us about how organized you were growing up. That was cute.

Trevor: Yeah. Anyway, but compared to you I’m a slob anyway. Yeah. So my mom had this expression “When in doubt, throw it out”, because so much stuff would accumulate. Skyler just used to leave his lunches in his backpack and he'd have six, seven of his lunches that he didn't eat rotting in his backpack with his homework from two weeks ago. And it's just like none of that stuff is needed or necessary anymore. So if you're doubting it, you probably don't need it. Throw it out.

Sav: I love that expression. When in doubt, throw it out. I think that I normally say that differently to my clients when I say I need a yes or a no and I give them one item so they can focus in on that. And if they're like, “uhmm” that's the answer. That's the gut response of no. That's a no. But I like that. When in doubt, throw it out.

Trevor: I think it's a similar vein as Marie Condos’ “Does it spark joy?”

Sav: Yep. Of course.

[08:24] Part 2: How To

Sav: Yes, of course. Ready? Moving on to part two, being more organized. So this was a write in and it is from LPT, which is Life Pro Tip channel of Reddit. So OP Writes: LPT Request: How to get my house organized and uncluttered? That's it. So our job is to give the response. Okay, what's the number one thing we do or you would recommend to get someone to organize their house, organized and uncluttered? Back to your mom's point about when in doubt, throw it out. The macro, for me, is like thinking about our life as a bigger picture and how there's so much stimuli in our society and in our environment. And so for me, it's like decluttering my life. What doesn't serve me anymore? What are things that are barriers to bigger picture items, bigger goals that I have so on a macro level, decluttering my life. So it's really reflective of what I want and who I am and my future version, not living in the past. What's your macro bigger picture? Organizing and staying uncluttered.

Trevor: I think probably the macro would be routines like every single day. Like, I do this, I do that. Otherwise you get behind and then you're having to commit 4 hours on a Saturday to clean up the dishes for the week or something like that.

Sav: Screw working on the weekends. Nope, I'm with you. That's actually my micro is my behavior change. And I am fully with you, obviously, because this is our lifestyle in our home and how we do things. But incorporating organizing into your daily routine. So it happens, period. Okay to confess, we do work on the weekends. You do your Sunday routine, will you walk us through it? I love it when I see you doing your Sunday routine.

Trevor: Well, my Sunday routine usually starts Saturday night when I prep the coffee and tea. So all I have to do is wake up in the morning, press the button on the electric tea kettle, and get going. Well I start outside, clean up dog poop, clean the filter on the hot tub, shock the hot tub, anything outside, water the plants, anything outside that needs to be cleaned up or organized.

Sav: And then I feel like the other inside piece on a Sunday is that's when because we do our grocery shopping on Mondays. So at the end of the week, whatever's left in the fridge, what I see you do is that then you'll do your juicing and that's your big juicing. You'll use up anything remaining. Which is awesome because I hate wasting food.

Trevor: I was going to actually do that today, but yeah, it's like a weekend routine. I have extra time to make some juices.

Sav: And my weekend routine is actually only food prep because that's when I have the most time. And so Sunday is my day for cooking. And that's when I'll make up like, do a batch of almond milk, I'll maybe do some tea and I'll just put them into Crofts for the week. I might make up a few different dips for the week. I might do like, Trevor likes this pudding and I'll make up the pudding and that's like our set for the week. So that’s my Sunday.

Trevor: [overtalk] I love pudding.

Sav: Every once in a while I'll make this stellar for Kacha bread because that takes more time. So my like enjoyable leisure activities all envelope into that routine. Onto some inspiration. I might edit that out. I think so too. On to some inspiration. OP’s writes [reads]First Post here- inspired! This is a success story. I have a large three bedroom house with 1.5 kids and a husband who is a little bit of a hoarder. The clutter overwhelms me, but I can't seem to get it out as fast as we bring it in. My technique over the past month has been putting a laundry basket in the dining room and just popping one or two things in as I'm tidying up. Some days I have a lot of energy and I can do half a room. Other days I just put two books in, other days I just put two books in as I'm grabbing something from another room, I've taken two car loads of stuff plus heaps of rubbish so far and I'm gaining steam. Today I cleaned out two junk drawers, mine and my toddler's shoes and the whole bathroom. Woohoo.”

Trevor: Is there a question there?

Sav: No, it's just sharing success. What's your takeaway from this? What is enabling them to continue on their journey and to continue to declutter? Is there anything that stands out to you?

Trevor: I think yeah. Just the fact that they're excited about it.

Sav: When I read this, when I was like, oh Yay, they made a golden rule. So in the first part they say clutter overwhelms me, but I can't seem to get it out as fast as we bring it in. And that was like that's everyone's problem, especially today with all of the subscriptions that just automatically come on Amazon or a lot of people have Chewy and those are on subscriptions or they have subscriptions elsewhere. But it's like this automation that is supposed to help us, but in reality, it is adding to our list of things that we need to process. But in the case of many of my clients, they don't actually set the time aside to process those things. And so in our house, at least for me personally, with clothes, I have my golden rule. One thing in, one thing out. That's why I love and hate hand me downs. So when people give me hand me downs, it's almost like a stressor because I'm like, oh, great, now I actually have to deal with this, and I'm really happy with my current clothes right now. So it takes a lot of discernment for me. But I think what this person did is they made a golden rule of how they're going to process items. They're going to have one donation bin, they're using a laundry basket in each room, and as that fills up, they take it and they donate it. What is a golden rule you have personally?

Trevor: I know I'm pretty darn disciplined about cleaning my work van every day after work because I need to be able to find things. And if I can't find things, I get really flustered. So I clean out all the garbage, all the trash, I reorganize things if they've been moved. And they basically reset my van every day after work, so that when I go out to work again, everything's there where I can find it, I can access it. And nothing's in the way, and it makes work faster too, because things aren't in the way potentially.

Sav: Okay, I'm thinking of my other golden rule when it comes to email, which if you've seen my inbox, you know that. Well, first off -

Trevor: There's nothing in it?

Sav: Yeah. It's very little. So my rule that I've never actually made explicit to you is that I don't like having more than ten at a time, like that's the max. And if there's more than ten, they need to get processed. And if there's less than ten, great, I'm winning. [giggles] And even if there are things that are unfinished, unresolved, like it's an open tab still, that's okay. But I indicate using folders if it's actionable or if it's pending. And in what aspect is it? Is it work related? Is it home related? Is it AVO related and what not? And Mondays are my mail and email days because that starts with an M. And that's part of my system routine. Part three?

Trevor: Part three.

[15:54] Part 3: The Best Of

Sav: Part three. The best of Reddit, “What are some of your best home organization tips?I have a problem making decisions when there are a lot of options because there are an infinite amount of possibilities for organizing my home. It makes my head spin. I'm always looking for the best way possible because of my type A personality, but I also have ADD. Do you have tips/systems/ tools that you are proud of? Anything goes, office files, kitchen DVD collections, and so on?

Trevor: Ooh, good question. It's a lot there.

Sav: It's a lot there. I chose this one because I think it reflects you. And I I would identify with type A personality.

Trevor: I’m type C or D.

Sav: Well. [laughs together] I think you have type A tendencies, but you also have ADHD. And so that's a learning curve for me, which has been super helpful. Also, being in the classroom and having accommodations for students with ADHD has also been super helpful.

Trevor: I think I just realized something. I think -

Sav: Like this second? [laughs]

Trevor: Yeah. I think the fundamental difference between you and I. Oh, my God, is that you are organized and I am tidy. There's a major difference between those two.

Sav: What's the difference?

Trevor: Well, tidy like you put things, you arrange things so that you know where they are essentially, and it doesn't feel dirty, but there's not really a system there. Being organized is like there's more structure behind where things go and why things go there -

Sav: [overtalk] So much structure.

Trevor: And when they go there, it’s like a rhythm to it.

Sav: Okay. So I was actually watching a TikTok with Doctor Amon @docamon. That brain dude. He's up in the Bay Area like the Walnut Creek area. Right. Remember him?

Trevor: Yeah.

Sav: Okay. So he was talking about ADHD. Oh, gosh, I believe it was him. And he was talking about how neurodivergency is looking at a system kind of like a computer ones and zeroes, where people who are not neurodivergent, they are looking at, they have a top down approach. And so I feel like when I come in, I'm taking the ones and zeroes and making them make sense for people. So the structure is that it is a category. So in our kitchen, for example, what I've designed for you to be successful

Trevor: Subcategories.

Sav: Yeah. Stations. So we have a coffee and tea station because that's your job. It's all grouped together. There's a lazy susan for all the different accouterments that go into coffee. Everything's set up from the blender to the water thingamajinger to an easy container to get out Xylitol, teas are ready to go. There's no making the choice. It's in one designated container. That's the tea you grab for me, and I think that's super helpful. It's like, what are the train wheels we need so our automatic default can just happen? It's not a thought. It doesn't take energy. It's the most logical thing possible. And that's the structure. There's no thinking behind it. It's just an automatic response.

Trevor: I like it. I love it. Works for me.

Sav: [laughs] Another ADHD friendly thing for you, I would say, is the juicing drawer. It's kind of been taking over the fridge. And when you first got into juicing, I was like, uh, this is going to take up so much space. And now it's not only organized into one designated area and it's all juicing, but it's aesthetic. So I can be okay with it and enjoy it and value it because it has its home. It's not overlapping into another category, which is where so many people get into trouble, where it's like, oh, where do I put this? Or this? Is it camping supplies or is it emergency supplies? Well, now every time you look for that item, you're going to get confused. So it has to be, what is an automatic response.

Trevor: My kind of ADHD, and I think a lot of people who have it have a similar sort of impulsiveness when they're cruising around the house trying to be organized or productive is you pick one thing up and you go to bring it to its home, and you get distracted by another thing. When really I should just get one done and go on to the next one.

Sav: I'm also thinking about our kitchen design when we redid this, and a big shift was we took out all of the upper cabinets, and now it's open shelving, which means that everything is visible, which is something that I would say is your mantra. Everything needs to be visible, otherwise it doesn't exist.

Trevor: Yeah.

Sav: I think the other big thing is when we moved in together, I had to make a lot of adjustments, and you had to make a lot of adjustments based on each of our needs. And same thing with pets, with kids, with in laws, with relatives, with anyone living with you. It is not what works for you best. It is what works for everyone in the best way possible.

Trevor: I guess I'm just kind of thinking randomly about stuff and how it gets in the way. Too much stuff gets in the way. Too much stuff. Essentially, the more stuff you have, it becomes a time pull, or it drags your time down. Because if you have item A-B-C and D, then you're basically committing some amount of time in your life to being consumed by ABC and D. And if you don't really want D in your life or you don't really use it a lot or you don't like it, then what is it doing in your life Besides pulling you away from A, B and C?

Sav: I agree. I think that's why I always come back to less is more. I think a lot of folks -

Trevor: It gives more time for yourself.

Sav: Yeah, a lot of folks kind of have shifted pages and are more in the minimalism area in their life. And I think that's really awesome to just think about what is truly a value and that you love. So even if it's valuable, if you don't use it, lose it. Period. Or your mom’s “When in doubt -”

Sav and Trevor [together]: “Throw it out”.

Sav: I don't actually want people to be throwing things out. Like if it is perfectly good, please go onto your local Facebook group. Yeah, Facebook, because the Marketplace is where it's at. There are so many free groups in your neighborhoods that you can offset things to and feel that relationship and feel motivation from giving to others that need it when you don't.

Trevor: Or sell it. I love selling stuff on Craigslist.

Sav: Selling’s good too, but ultimately, if you can just donate it, it's better from the psychological perspective because then you get the momentum, the stamina, the growth of “Oh yeah, I can process things, I can move them out” and it's more weight off of your shoulders for the immediate win versus what could be a win, but it's going to be delayed. So you're not going to get the dopamine hit which I definitely get from organizing and that's why,


Sav: It's true. That's why even on a weeknight it might be 08:00 p.m. And I'm organizing the linen closet not because it's not organized but because it is a dopamine hit for me.

Trevor: So “Give me the rush!”.

Sav: It’s like, ooh my goodness, oh my goodness. And same thing with clients. I'll go into their homes and they'll be like, “Oh my God, I'm so embarrassed, this is the worst thing ever”. Inside my head. I'm like, “Oh my God this is so exciting”. So how do you win at organizing? Be stealthy. Only hold on to something if you love it and use it. Start by decluttering because decluttering and organizing are not the same thing. First declutter, then organize, then make it part of your lifestyle. Make it a routine.

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