Pro organizer counters the cry 'But I might need it someday'

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As the carefree days of summer end, structure once again begins to dominate life.

As they dive into school, work or whatever obligations autumn may hold, many may find they need to wade through the clutter that accumulated over the summer.

To help bring order to the disorder, Peters Township Library held a free program titled "But I Might Need it Someday ... How to Organize Your Life."

Patty Kreamer, a certified professional organizer and author of the book, "But I Might Need it Someday," offered simple, practical solutions on how to become organized and win the clutter battle once and for all.

Ms. Kreamer, of Green Tree, said one of the keys to becoming organized is to look at the goal as a process rather than an event.

"It's not a stagnant life," she said. "Life keeps moving on, and you have to have systems in place that accommodate your activities."

Organizing is not just putting things away, she said. Rather it's about having a place for every item and knowing where things are when you need them. To do this, she recommended continually rotating items that are used at a specific time, season or quarter.

This could mean setting aside a specific place for winter items and replacing them with summer, fall or spring items as the seasons change. In an office setting, it might mean establishing an active file drawer for current projects.

Ms. Kreamer said she has always been very organized. As a child, she never had to be told to clean her room and she would alphabetize her Halloween candy from Almond Joy to Zagnut. Her tidiness carried over into her professional career and she employed her organizational skills at each company where she worked.

"I realized I had something that I call a curse and a blessing all at once," she said.

In 1999, she founded Kreamer Connect Inc., a company to help people understand how they think and work and how their life flows. Then, she puts systems in place to accommodate their habits.

For many of her clients, the desire to be organized is often triggered by a transition in life, she said, such as a marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, a change in jobs or the death of a parent.

Often, a client doesn't know where to start and is caught in what she calls the "stuff shuffle," moving items from one room to the other and not making any decisions.

She tells all of her clients that clutter is nothing more than unmade decisions.

"It sort of takes the emotion out of it, knowing that you're sitting there looking at a pile of decisions," she said. "It's just deciding should I keep it or not. If I do, where do I keep it? And if I don't, how do I get rid of it?"

During her presentations, Ms. Kreamer said, participants learn how to make quick, logical decisions, easily maintain the daily flow of paper, and discover a system for a paper-free desk.

"There's nothing to lose but the clutter," she said.

neigh_north

Shannon M. Nass, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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