Delma in the News
Delma Smith Hosting Q & A at
Barnes & Noble, E. Lansing, Michigan
October 8, 2003

Former treasurer of the National Association of Professional Organizers(NAPO) -Michigan Chapter Delma was interviewed during the NAPO Get Organized Week (October 5 - 11, 2003) by the Lansing State Journal and the Battle Creek Inquirer.

Battle Creek Inquirer, October 9, 2003 (paraphrased from article)
When asked by the Battle Creek Inquirer how one can become more organized, Delma responded that the best way to tackle that pile of papers on the desk or organize your messy closet, is to see it as a step-by-step process.

"The first thing I do is evaluate the space. I see what the purpose or the activity of the room is or the space. I say that every room has an activity center. What is the purpose?" she asks. After you decide what the room is for, Delma suggests that you not organize the room as a whole, but do it in pieces. "Start in a closet or even a corner section of a room," she says. "And make sure to have boxes at your disposal. I take everything out of the closet, then sort. I have one box that says toss, one that says keep and [then] only keep it if you know it is going to go back in the closet, one for charity, and another one that says, 'I don’t know what to do with it, [but] it has to go elsewhere.'”
When the closet is clear, stand back, admire the clean closet and decide what needs to be done to keep it looking good.

“Stand back and reconfigure the space,” Delma says. “Do you need another shelf?
Do you need hook brackets for your belts? People think they need to go buy a bunch of stuff, but simple things make a lot of difference.” She then suggests that you put everything back that belongs in the closet, but only things that you will actually use. This means that you need to get rid of your inner pack rat and purge. “You need to throw stuff away and take the charity items to a local mission,” Smith says. “And then take the box that is labeled ‘belongs elsewhere’ and sort through that and put the items in the right room.”

Delma notes that clutter is building up in American homes because of busy lifestyles, life-changing events, or because it is a personality style. She observes that, “Maybe you are the person who cannot find your keys. You want to get organized, but you can’t find a way to stick to it,” she says.

She says that learning to stay organized is a bit like losing weight or smoking: You have to do it for yourself. “Knowing that you want to change is the first step. And identify what you want to do in your life to make this change. You have to change your thinking and attitude.” She recommends that you give yourself 30 days to “stick with it,” and if you can that you will probably be able to make the change.

“What I tell everybody is that statistics show anything that you do for 30 consecutive days is a habit. Maybe to do it for that long, you have to be assured of benefits that you are getting out of it. Maybe if you knew that it was going to create more time, there would be less chaos, you’d have less stress, more energy, and less worrying – then that [in itself] would make all the difference.”

Lansing State Journal
, October 8, 2003

(paraphrased from article)
Delma was asked why clutter seems to build up in homes. She responded that this problem exists mainly because people don't know where to put things. "[For example]," she said, "one of the big things I see with my clients is where to put the mail." She suggested that you designate an appropriate box or space for the mail, so that you always know where it goes and can deal with it whenever you wish.

In her home in Charlotte, Michigan, Delma not only routes stuff to its appropriate place, but she also throws a lot of stuff away. "If something comes in, something goes out," she said, "and that's even for a piece of furniture." Delma admitted that she'd always been a neat and tidy person. "But it doesn't mean that a person has to be born that way," she quickly reassured the reporter. "It just means that you have to have a system that works for you."

Here is a step-by-step plan that Delma suggested usually works for organizing your home or office:

Your Mission: Organize

Try this step-by-step plan to bring order to what’s become a catch-all – in this case, a front hall closet stuffed with everything from winter coats to board games.

Evaluate: Ask yourself, “What’s the purpose of the front hall?” Let’s say it serves as a place to greet guests and as a staging area for family members getting ready to leave for school and work.
Sort: Empty the closet and sort everything into 4 boxes marked: Trash; Charity; Keep it; Belongs elsewhere.
Re-configure: The standard closet has a rod for hangers and a shelf. If that’s all you need, don’t spend a dime. But maybe an extra hook would keep the scarves off of the floor. Add a shelf. Take one away. Do whatever works best.
Fill it: Put everything back in the closet that belongs there. Where the board games used to be piled, store the kids' school bags. Where boxes of old photos were stacked, place shoes and boots.

Finish Up: Toss the box of trash and send the charity items to the local mission. As for the stuff labeled "belongs elsewhere," sort it and distribute the piles to the appropriate locations in the house.

Doesn't that just relocate the mess?
Not really. The key to organization is using the near-far rule. Items should be stored near the location they are used. So, because board games are played in the family room, they should be stored in the family room. That may mean organizing the entertainment center to accommodate the games. That, however, can be a project for another day.

Source: Delma Smith, Treasurer of the Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO)  

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