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Overwhelmed? Frustrated? Sentimental?

Change doesn't take as long as you think...

...when you've found the right Reorganizer.


Conveniently located in Manhattan, NYC. 646.430.9150

Contact Leah for a free 15 minute phone consultation!

Tuesday
May062008

Resting eyes

Having places for your eyes to rest in your environment is really important for your mental health.

Make your bed.

Clear a small space on your desk by recycling or filing a few papers. Take those mugs to the kitchen.

Clear off your nightstand.

You will feel the delight as your eyes rest, and your body follows!

Sunday
May042008

How to Help Others Seek Help

A colleague recently asked me to include the topic of how to "get people to get help" in my reorganizing presentation.

In the past, my answer has always been to not even recommend seeking help. Reorganizing is so personal, emotional, and often intense, that I did not believe that it could be pursued for the sake or recommendation of others. However, I have seen families torn apart due to clutter and behavior surrounding clutter.

I contacted my friend who is a psychoanalyst. Explaining that I only recommend him to people if they openly indicate a need, I wondered if the same was possible for reorganizing. The difference was, I thought, that people more often have their own agenda when they recommend that a friend or parent get a Reorganizer. That is, a person will say to his/her spouse, "You're a mess. I can't take it. You need help." How awful, I had thought, and thus discouraged it.

My psychoanalyst friend gave me some great advice.

There are two ways to help someone close to you think about getting help:

1. Stay with his(/her) emotions.

If your husband says he can't take it anymore, don't judge or insist that he work with a Reorganizer, just stay with his frustration, his overwhelm. As my friend put it, this could take a long time, and the person might never ask for help, but it is a form of support. However, he might eventually confide in you that he does need help, knowing that you are trustworthy, supportive, and do not push him to change.

2. Talk about yourself.

If your partner lives in such a way that is becoming unbearable to you, explain that to her. Talk gently about how frustrated and overwhelmed you are becoming. If she becomes defensive, explain that you can talk about her feelings later, but right now you her to understand your feelings. Don't speak about her changing to please you or to help herself, but simply about your own difficulties which have been created or magnified by her clutter.

The dynamic of couples is very complex. One thing is certain, though. Clutter is often an unpleasant thorn in the health of relationships.

I welcome your comments!

Tuesday
Apr222008

Happy Earth Day

Each day is a new opportunity to do better...at whatever it is we feel we must improve.

Today is Earth Day. It is a topic in which I'd like to improve.

So, today I cleaned my apartment using mostly water, an old toothbrush, and some rags made of old fabric. It's amazing what those tools, combined with some elbow grease, can achieve.

I'd like to remove plastic from my life. Would you? One way to do that is fewer bottles made of it to contain the usual suspects-cleaners, lotions, shampoo, water!

There are natural alternatives to most of these things. However, if you are not interested in them, scrub harder. You'll get some exercise as well as need less product, which results in less plastic. I like to think of the olden days before plastic, when houses and castles were cleaned without Windex and Scrubbing Bubbles and the ever-ubiquitous antibacterial soap. Sure, hygiene left a lot to be desired, but plastic bags were not the alternative to fruit hanging off of trees. People were more in touch with their dirt and their cleanliness.

Whew! My soapbox, of barred soap, not plastic-ly contained....

Choosing a goal can help us minimize our expenditure of carbon emissions and cash alike.

What is your goal for Earth Day or minimizing in general? I'm interested.

Good luck doing a bit more and buying a bit less on this Earth Day.

Monday
Apr212008

Today

1. Make your bed.

2. Put all laundry in the basket.

3. Do the dishes (you don't need to put them away).

4. Remove all empty hangers from within the clothes in the closet and put them on one side together.

5. Find one thing to move or remove.

Let me know!

Thursday
Apr172008

Patience? No, sir!

For me, patience is the hardest thing- I wasn't brought up that way! But, things definitely take time, and we cannot control that, or how long others take to decide things.

So, we must struggle through our own chores, focusing on what we can do.

Let's try to distract our impatience today with outrageous productivity in very simple things.

One thing resolved or moved today...I will focus on a hidden pile of sundry magazines that is haunting me.

Tell me about your success.

Friday
Apr042008

Willpower limits

Contrary to popular belief, today's NY times article speaks about conserving and deepening the not limitless well of willpower:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/02/opinion/02aamodt.html?em&ex=1207454400&en=0ca7a89030aadb0d&ei=5087%0A

Today I will try to brush my teeth with my "non-dominant hand." What about you?

Wednesday
Apr022008

Self-destructive behavior

When we are so used to things being not as we want them, it can be difficult to accept them as they move toward what we want.

There are moments when our success or even the mere thought of relief from this burden of worry being lifted can cause anxiety. We may find ourselves behaving in a self-destructive manner in order to stay in this place of "comfort," although it is unpleasant. As we lose weight we binge, as our clutter disappears we put things in front of the door, as we achieve one thing we find more things at which we are failing...

What to do? Is it fair to say, "Deal with success" when we apparently cannot?

My friend gave me good advice on this matter today. Keep switching things around, he said. Don't stop moving. For example, he is writing his dissertation. Sometimes he writes in the computer lab, sometimes in a coffee shop, sometimes with a pen and paper. Anytime he senses that things are less than ideal, he changes the environment for his work.

If we lose weight and we want to binge, perhaps we can clean the apartment instead.

In lieu of confronting our fears and successes, let's try distracting ourselves.

Good luck..I'll need it!

Wednesday
Mar262008

Difficult...

It is not easy to do all we must do.

Nonetheless, put away one single thing right now.

That is all.

Monday
Mar242008

Tip for today

Do the dishes well, put them away and get back to me.

Wednesday
Mar192008

Limits

It's true that there is only so much we can do. But where does that "so much" end?

Allowing for the reality of external limitations, how much are we really doing?

I doubt I'm doing a fraction of what I could. However, instead of viewing myself and situations like a bundle of wasted opportunity, I will simply ask myself, "Can I really not do this?"

Honesty in such matters can be tricky, but if we really can do it, let's!

Wednesday
Mar122008

Act as if

Today someone said the phrase, "Act as if..." She had had a hard time getting out of bed today, but she decided to act as if she hadn't. She acted as if all were fine, though it wasn't. Not only did this inspire me, I realized how existential it is- we are not limited by who we were yesterday.

Today, I will act as if I were a person who gets places early, carries little baggage, and is cheerful and a good listener. Today will be a clutter-free day.

Act as if!

Thursday
Mar062008

It must get done

One of the main differences between youth and adulthood is responsibility, a truth many of us have trouble digesting.

This past weekend a friend spoke these wise but rather harsh words to me, "You have to do what you have to do before you get to do what you want." I realized how guilty I have been of not behaving as such.

Today I finally did what I had to do, and the freedom is delightful.

Really, life is so short.

Let's do what we must now in order that we truly deserve to what we want, and will be able to enjoy it.

Wednesday
Feb202008

Why I am not other Organizers

Someone recently emailed me this link:

http://newyork.metromix.com/style/article/closet-case/253539/content

There is this part of the interview:

What’s the strangest question anyone’s asked you about clutter?
“Why do I have to let go of my child’s umbilical cord that I have here in a Ziploc bag on my refrigerator door?

Now, my goal is not to speak ill of others, but the strangest question to me is, why on earth is an Organizer forcing someone to get rid of that?!

I am not other Organizers...and should it be relevant, I write this tempted to save any umbilical cords that may come my way.

Tuesday
Feb122008

Keep Going!

Today I was thinking about the topic for today's blog, and I decided on the notion of continuing forward, no matter what. Thinking hard, I nodded to myself at the wisdom of my future writing. Upon arriving outside, I realized I had left today's pressing errand up the many-flighted haul. Looking down at my six layers and two bags and sweating in anticipation, I considered avoiding the climb for tomorrow.

However! I imagined the stress of not having completed the errand, the ensuing relief upon its completion, and not least of all, the topic of this blog....

There are different kinds of exercise (mental and physical) involved in doing what you need to do. It may not always be as convenient as we'd like, but the necessity does not go away. The reward is particularly great when we persevere despite our inclination to avoid.

It's not easy, but keep going, and I shall try to do the same!

Tuesday
Feb052008

Dealing with the Mail

Yesterday's client was frustrated about the ever-returning pile of mail on the kitchen table.

"It starts," she told me, "and it just gets worse."

1. Separate- We separated out what was hers, her husband's, recycle, and shred.

2. Recycle/Shred

3. Separate further- We separated her file pile from her to-do pile, and the same for her husband's pile. A common pending pile emerged.

4. Do what's easy- The pending pile found a home with an already existing pending pile nearby.

5. Search elsewhere/condense- Upon going through all the papers on her desk in the other room, all fit into one of the piles.

6. Separate again- within the file pile, there were those papers with preexisting files, and those which needed new files made for them.

7. Check for strays- in pausing to think, one often inadvertently creates a new pile or places things in unrelated places. Look again with fresh eyes to see if there is anything else that sneaked by the sorting process, or that suddenly shouts that it does not belong.

How many piles are left?

My client had four: Husband, Preexisting files, Create-a-file, To-do.
Why was there mail on the kitchen table?

Two reasons: it's the first place to put things upon entering the house, and there is no real filing cabinet/system large enough for all files. Both of these reasons can be dealt with. Although the mail did not magically go away, much of the pile did, making the chores of filing and doing much less daunting.

As far as the furniture/lack of comprehensive system is concerned, to be continued....!

Monday
Feb042008

As simple as...

"I have no room in my kitchen," he said, chopping vegetables on top of the microwave, somewhere around hunched shoulder-height.

We looked at the items in his kitchen.

"Do you use this here?" I asked, pointing to the empty paper towel holder on the counter.

"Well, it goes there, but I can't use it, because everytime I do, it falls on the floor. So I leave it there, but tend to put the paper towel roll wherever I leave it..."

We moved the paper towel holder next to the sink where it filled a spot too small for anything else, but was supported from falling.

Watching him chop vegetables in his newly-freed up precious counter space, I felt my own shoulders relax.

Sometimes the tiniest things make all the difference. We may need new and bigger kitchens, but there's a good chance we just need to reorganize the awesome kitchens we already have.

To the smallest of adjustments with the largest results!

Thursday
Jan312008

"You know what Einstein said..."

Insanity is repeating the same experiment and being surprised at the result.

There are times, certainly, when we must plod on. However, there exists a delicate balance- sometimes we must recognize that what we are doing is simply not right/working/efficient. It takes an extra boost (my mother recommends B-12), but let's take a breath and, if not switch course entirely, at least take a break and do something else for awhile.

Which is why I managed to write this entry...

Monday
Jan212008

Money Reorganizing

One of my clients is in large debt. Her small salary just covers her monthly expenses, but she has been adding to her debts with late fees and interest, due to her inability to save money. She came to me when she just couldn't stand it anymore. "I'm totally out of control with this. If I don't do something right now...I...I don't know what will happen."

We started by making a spreadsheet of all of her known expenses, income, debt, online accounts + passwords. This spreadsheet was revised four times over a week as she thought of things that needed adding. In the final version, the subject was "Cigarettes added" and the body of the email read only, "Another reason to quit." Completing the spreadsheet was a step in Phase 1, Gather everything together.* (Next comes Separate and Investigate).

When we were ready to move to Phase 2, Action, today, we accounted for all items to be paid, and planned the spending of the upcoming paycheck. As we allotted more and more of the paycheck, she interjected and asked me, "Why would I put aside the food money for four weeks when I'm going to be paid in two weeks?"

In one organizing workshop I took, we learned the "3 P's:" Preparation Prevents Panicking.

By planning ahead, if something happens to her or her job, G-d forbid, she will at least have money to eat this month, and won't have late fees accruing on her credit cards, insurance, etc. At the end of the phone consultation, she had very little money to go out for drinks and dinner, but her bills were paid (online), the checks for rent and utilities were prepared for tomorrow, and she knew she wouldn't go hungry this month.

The more we think, plan ahead, and prepare the resources for what we do know, the more we can handle life, which is composed of so much we don't know. Sometimes it takes a spreadsheet to make cigarettes part of your past, but in the meantime, let's save the $39 fees for debt paying and, eventually, fabulous celebratory dinners that we are cigarette and debt-free.

Reorganizing. It's more than stuff.

*Please note: Phase 1 is always Gather and then Separate and Investigate, but the phases which follow depend on the project at hand.

Wednesday
Jan092008

The 3 Steps to getting there

1. Separate

Remove everything that does not pertain to the goal at hand from the immediate area.

2. Delegate

Have other people take care of as much as possible-errands, research, call-backs, etc.

If your goal is fundraising or using your medical degree, you need someone to answer the phone besides you.

If you hate cleaning the house, but it's driving you crazy how messy it is, hire someone to clean it. Laundry services will pick up and drop off laundry.

3. Dedicate

Focus on your goal.

Note what and when the distractions arise. Return to steps 1 and 2 until you can follow through with 3 sans interruption.

--
It is not always easy to find the right person/people to help you. In fact, it's usually quite difficult. Start by separating things away that do not pertain to your goal. You may find more things that others (even if they're not the perfect assistants) can help you with than you realised. See how it goes.

Please feel free to email me: leah.fisch@gmail.com if you'd like to discuss your situation in particular, or add a comment to this page.

Good luck!

Tuesday
Jan082008

Birthdays

What do birthdays have to do with reorganizing?

We are born not only without possessions, but also naked, an existence so fragile which is lucky to persevere. We continue through life accumulating not only cover, but also possessions, possessions, possessions. Although they may be pleasant and often "necessary," they are not us.

On our birthdays this year, let's try to aim toward our essences, as Victor Frankl called it, our "naked existence," and try to pare down our things.

To our existences sans possessions!

Contact Leah Fisch