Archive for organizing

A Cluttered Life – Middle Class Abundance

Make your home perfect for you.

Make your home perfect for you.

This 6 minute video is a great look at our society and our relationship with “stuff”.  It is easy to collect “stuff” but it is hard to know how to get rid of things.

Need help simplifying your life and home contact Mind over Clutter to work with you in person or virtually to help you meet your goals.

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at

Organize Your Valentine’s Gift

Looking for that perfect clutter free Valentine’s Day Gift?  One that says:

  • I understand you,
  • I want you to be happy,
  • I want to make your life easier


Great Valentine's Ideas

Let’s get organized

Contact Julie if you need help making this happen.

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at

11 Professional Organizers Share their Favourite Tips.

Professional Organizers in Canada

I asked my colleagues from the Professional Organizers in Canada Cyber Chapter to send me their favourite organizing tip.  This is what they said.

Patti Schneider from Time to Organize Coach™ in Huntsville, Ontario tells us :

  • Don’t organize anything without tossing, recycling and donating first!

April Miller owner of April Miller Professional Organizing in St John`s Newfoundland shared:

  • To ensure better maintenance: Organize according to what works for you, not according to someone else’s system.

Elana Kleinman owner of EK Organizing in Toronto, Ontario

  • For maintenance, do a 5-10 minute scan of your home before bed and return everything to its assigned home. This prevents end-of-week (month?) organizing marathons:)

Ruth Beattie-Ostrom of HOME, Hard Organizing Made Easy from Parry Sound, Ontario shared:

  • A fun tip to involve children to help maintain the house: set the timer for 15 min and everyone (incl mom) puts items back in their place.

Kym McFadden owns Space-Ese-Solutions Inc in Burlington, Ontario.

  • If you don’t use it, lose it. Recycle, donate or toss it in the garbage. I generally tell clients for clothing wear it within 6 months and all other items use it within 6-12 months or out it goes. Then go have fun! If it is close to bedtime read books together.

Nathalie Bureau owner of Nathalie Bureau L’Art de l’Organisation/Organized Living from Saint Boniface, Quebec tells us:

  • Using the space vertically is one of my best tips
  • Sort food packages in a drawer using hand made separators or dividers.

Adele Lapointe of Chaos to Clarity from Burlington, Ontario simply said:

  • Like with like

Karen McIntosh Murdock,Your Organized Friend in Edmonton, Alberta

  • If grieving clients are having trouble releasing sentimental belongings I recommend that we take photos of the items, write down the stories surrounding the item and make them into a photobook.

Bev Chandler owner of C & C Organizing  from Regina, Saskatchewan shared:

  • Keep the things you use the most, close at hand.

Adriana Romkes  from Dundas,Ontario tell us:

  • Less is more

My tip, Julie Stobbe owner of Mind over Clutter in Beamsville, Ontario

  • If you are having trouble letting go of things figure out if it is because you are clinging to past or fear the future.  Once you solve that mystery it will be easier to part with unused items.

Share your favourite organizing tip with me in the comment box.

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at

Need a Great Collapsible Storage Container?

Samsill Medium Pop’n Store Box

I have used a lot of pop up and unfolding type boxes in my organizing business.  They usually like to refold themselves flat, have weak bottoms that collapse and may or may not have lids.  The Samsill Medium Pop’n Store Box is great.  It has none of those problems.flat

It is easy to assemble and it stays together.  Although it can be unfolded it may be hard to get the bottom back up which I like. Having a strong, tight fitting bottom means the sides are well supported, the box will stay square and the lid will fit on firmly.

It is made of very thick strong cardboard with a lovely low gloss pebbly looking finish.  It gives it a look of being made of fabric not cardboard.  The corners of the lid are reinforced with metal to prevent them from ripping or tearing. The bottom is made of fabric so it won`t scratch your furniture.

Samsill Pop,n Store Container

Samsill Pop,n Store Container

It is light and easy to handle but strong and ridged and lovely to the eye.  It combines functionality with beauty to store and organize your items.  It comes in 5 sizes and multiple  colours.colour

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at

10 Hacks to help Parents Organize Their Children’s Routines.

You have successfully accomplished back to school organizing but the day to day chores are not getting done and you are feeling overwhelmed.  Clutterbug has a great video, Organizing Hacks for Parents.  Organizing your home to help your children become more independent means that they are able to complete tasks without your help.  This will help daily routines and habits to be accomplished quickly leaving more time for family fun together.

Which hack worked best in your household?

Need some organizing help contact Mind over Clutter, julie@mindoverclutter, to help bring happiness to your home.


Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals.

Meet Mary Dystra Novess of Within Reach Part 2

In my blog post on March 25, 2016 I formally introduced Mary Dystra Novess CPO.  She is a past president of NAPO and a warm, lovely, helpful person.  She has generously given of her time and expertise to allow me to interview her.  I hope you enjoy getting to know more about her and her business Within Reach Organizing

As an organizational consultant, what motivates us to change?

Books have been written on change and what drives it. For our purposes here I’m going to cover 2 main drivers: avoiding pain and seeking a better state of affairs (mentally, emotionally, physically, financially etc.).

One of the biggest influences on how we deal with change is how we are internally wired. If you have ever done an assessment (for example DISK), you become aware that people are wired differently; from a high comfort in embracing change through the spectrum of avoiding change. Some people seem to thrive on change while others only embrace change when presented with dire consequences if they don’t change – possible loss of job, home, relationship, or health. Change for many triggers fear. Fear that it won’t be enough to make a difference anyway or that it will be emotionally painful, or it will cost too much or that they will have to deal with loss.

For those who struggle with change (we all do at some time), the best way to become more open to change is to identify the end goals and put it in context of positive outcomes vs. the pain of possible loss. For example, if you are on a diet and concentrate on the loss of the chocolate cream pie instead of how great it will be to have more energy and fit into your favourite clothes again, it will be much harder to stay with the diet because you are focused on the pain instead of the joy of healthier and more trim you. Same principle goes with decluttering your environment and mind. I always suggest a person seek out support in the area they want change because it makes it so much easier and keeps the focus on the right things especially on the hard days.

Through helping your clients to organize their home offices you help them to increase their bottom line while improving their quality of life. What would be the first step to reaching this goal?

As Steven Covey wrote many years ago, “Start with the end in mind”. If you can’t define something, you can’t track it and you can’t attain it.

When I start a relationship with a new client the FIRST thing covered is setting up great decision making criteria in 4 key areas. Then, all decluttering, organizing, time management and decisions revolve around the client established criteria with the end goal(s) in mind.

As a speaker, blogger and trainer, you’ve been helping clients and families learn strategies to become better organized. You specialize in inspiring others to live an uncluttered life. What suggestions do you have for those that feel overwhelmed by clutter?

Identify who would love, need or appreciate the things that no longer serve you well. Donate, recycle and return items today because every day that you feel overwhelmed or controlled by your stuff/environment, is a compromised day that can lead to a compromised life and compromised relationships. If you are a reader, there are 3 books I would suggest right off the bat to read: It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh, Everything That Remains by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus and Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez. For a newer read, some are finding comfort in Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up. If you are not an engaged reader, save the money and do NOT buy the books. I have been in more homes where clients have dozens of unread organizing books. In my experience, intentions will only waste money and create more clutter and guilt.

What has been your biggest personal challenge around organization?

I have my own “Would’a Could’a, Should’a” bugaboos. That’s why I have such high empathy for my clients and I don’t judge. My passion is aquatic stuff, gardens and reading for knowledge. That means for me that I have 5 aquariums, create an overabundance of vegetables in the summer and always have articles to read. To my credit, I was born with great leveling force in my gut that hates waste so I remain conscious of 1) what I spend in time and dollars, 2) what goes to waste and 3) make sure I have a way of sharing the excess so that little is wasted.  When I have an ailing client, I often do a drive by to deliver a meal and a smile. Good for them & good for me.

To keep my reading papers in check, I clip down to the article. Dad still gives me his Wall Street Journals, Financial Times, Time, building and home trade magazines and I pick up magazines that discuss organizing and simplifying. I am still old school and I love paper. I try to speed read and pick up trends, statics and tips. When I fall behind, I choose a cutoff date or relevancy date and do a quick mini purge so that things stay in balance as I am running a business, home and need quality time with my great husband on the weekends. Life is always a balancing act and there is an ebb and flow to all activities and mental bandwidth. As the old proverb goes, we teach what we most need to learn and I am a lifelong learner. It’s the gift I get from my clients and share with my clients. It is the circle of life.

Thank you to Mary Dystra Novess of Within Reach Organizing Services for sharing her thoughts with us.


An Interview with Mary Dystra Novess of Within Reach Organizing Services Part 1

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Mary Dykstra MBA, CPO (Certified Professional Organizer), owner of downloadWithin Reach Organizing Services who has been helping corporate, residential and entrepreneurial clients get organized since 1984.  Her specialities are: Professional speaking, consulting and hands-on corporate, residential and entrepreneurial organizing with special emphasis on home based businesses plus time management training.  She is a long standing member of National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), teaches time management courses nationally and she earned her Senior Relocation and Transition Specialist (CRTS) certification.

Mary is passionate about helping her clients regain control of their minds, lives and environments – long term.

In your business, Within Reach, you offer business, residential, home office, ADD & ADHD organizing services. What is your favourite part of organizing?

For me, it’s never about the stuff. It’s about the people. The favorite part of my work is the moment when I see a client’s face and body change as they move from feeling overwhelmed to empowered and confident. The change in the space and within the person is striking and I love the fact that they trusted me and the process.

When organizing residential clients what is one common obstacle and a strategy for overcoming it?

The biggest obstacle I hear from my audiences and future clients is that they don’t know where to start. They do not always use the term ‘overwhelmed’ but that is the common emotional bugaboo that keeps us from decluttering and setting up great functioning systems. The easiest and fastest way to get beyond this is to bring in assistance. For some, that might be an understanding friend who can help with the focus and physically getting things sorted and moved. For others it is hiring a professional organizer who can come in with clarity, and help you create a plan so that either you or they or combination of both can get the work accomplished quickly and effectively.

For those that prefer DYI (Do It Yourself), you can get all kinds of tips and see pictures from YouTube, Pinterest, an organizing book, seminar, a professional organizer’s website/blog etc. Just use the search function in the app or website you prefer. Look at working on one area at a time. If you find this is overwhelming or that you don’t get it done, make that call to a professional organizer or friend. My first recommendation is always a professional organizer if you can afford it because it has the tendency to keep your friendships on a healthier, less stressed level (“What do you mean you want to get rid of this sweater? I remember when I gave it to you…).

What are some of the trends in organizing that have changed from when you started in this field to now? How long have you been involved in organizing?

I have been in the Organizing Industry for over 16 years and a lot has changed. The economy fallout in the USA in 2007/8 made a big impact with people losing jobs, selling homes and downsizing all aspects of their lives. Though the economy has come back for most, the new focus and trends are on wireless/paperless living and living unencumbered lives – especially for the Millennials. The smart phone is decreasing some of our physical clutter but keeping our minds over stimulated and our attention spans suffering. Other trends I see are people moving to reclaimed urban areas to enjoy walkable and social communities, having smaller dwellings (there is a strong interest for some to embrace Tiny House living) and many are forgoing house ownership preferring the freedom that comes with renting and not having money tied up in 1 large asset. The effect is that organizers today need to be much savvier about helping their clients manage electronic information and help clients maximize the utility of confined space.

Also, older adults who are downsizing and simplifying sometimes are unprepared to discover that their children and the marketplace do not value many of the things that they thought were very valuable.  When a client says to me that they are saving something for their adult children or grandchildren, I encourage them to directly ask if those items are indeed wanted by the children. If the answer is no, to let those items go with grace. If the client believes that items should be sold only for a very high price, I suggest getting an appraisal or checking a site like EBay to see if their value expectations are reasonable.

Click to find out more about Mary Dystra Novess and Within Reach


Virtual Organizing maybe the Solution to your S.P.A.C.E.

  For clients who wish to do the “hands on “organizing themselves I offer support services through virtual organizing.  In order to keep the process simple only one room will be discussed at a time.  There will be an initial session cost for each room to be organized.

Initial Session

The initial session costs $100.00.  It consists of an intake conversation,  about one space, over the phone or Skype or e-mail lasting about 15 minutes.  It is followed by or at the same time, sharing with me a visual look at the space to be organized.  The client can e-mail me pictures or can show me the space over Skype.  If the client wishes, they can send me a description of their challenges.  I will e-mail a plan of action to the client.  After the client has studied the plan a question and answer conversation will occur to clarify the plan and establish a timeline for the project. This session will last about 15 minutes. Once a timeline has been established for the project one of two options may be selected.

Option 1

The client will work on the project and will e-mail me pictures or set up a Skype call as needed to help them solve problems, clarify the next step, receive storage suggestions or donation and recycling information.  This system works well for people who manage their time well and are motivated to get the job done.  The cost of option 1 is $10.00 for each half hour consultation requested by the client.  A retainer of $30.00 is paid in addition to the initial session cost at the beginning of the job.  Additional retainers can be purchased as needed.

Option 2

The client will e-mail me the day and time they will be working on the job.  I will e-mail, Skype, text or call each hour to see what assistance they need in order to successfully complete the work scheduled for that day.  This systems works well for people who are easily distracted or procrastinate in getting the space organized. The cost of option 2 is $5.00 for 5 minutes each hour.  For example if the client is planning to work from 12:00-3:00 on the job then I will contact them at 1:00, 2:00, 3:00 and the cost of the session in $15.00.  A retainer of $30.00 is paid in addition to the initial session cost at the beginning of the job.  Additional retainers can be purchased as needed.

5 Myths about Being Organized

Myth 1 Organization is a born talent

Organization is a skill. If you have the right resources or support it is really quite easy. Some tasks at home can be simplified so they are not so over whelming and time consuming.  Here is one small example about meal planning.

  1. Pick your menu for the week
  2. From the menu make your shopping list
  3. Now you don’t need to decide what to make each morning or evening and you can take out of the freezer the items you need for later in the day.
  4. After you have done this for a number of weeks or months you can start recycling your plan.  This makes it even easier as you just pull up an already completed menu plan.

    Plan a menu then build your grocery shopping list.

    Plan a menu then build your grocery shopping list.

Myth 2 – Organized space is neat, tidy, minimal and boring.

Organized spaces should reflect your personality and lifestyle. If you can’t enjoy the space then you won’t take care of it.

Myth 3 –Getting organized is an overwhelming, hopeless chore

No matter what you’re organizing, no matter how daunting the task or how huge the backlog, getting organized boils down to developing a predictable process which you can reproduce. You follow your process and organize the current things you are using and then each time you’re organizing, work for a little time on the backlog.

Develop processes that work for you, can you can stay organized.

Develop processes that work for you, so you can stay organized.

Myth 4 -It’s impossible to stay organized

Organizing is sustainable, if your system is built around the way you think and designed to grow and adapt with you.  Here are some tips:

  1. If it only takes 30 seconds , do it right away if not add it to your to do list
  2. Most unorganized people don’t notice things are in the “wrong place.” Look and do a mental check to see if everything has been returned to its assigned space.
  3. Use spare minutes wisely.  Have a list of small tasks that can be completed quickly when you are waiting for meeting, appointments, trains, planes, children, elderly parents.
  4. Use your lists to record: things to do , to call, to e-mail and errands .  Check the list don’t just write it down.

Myth 5 Organizing is a non-productive use of your time.

You can’t afford to not be organized. A national survey conducted by Professional Organizers in Canada in 2010, indicates 91% of disorganized Canadians feel that disorganization negatively impacts their lives – with a large focus on feelings of stress, frustration and even failure. According to a study by a Boston marketing firm, the average American loses 55 minutes a day, roughly 12 weeks a year, looking for things they know they own but can’t find.  Newsweek, June 7, 2004.”

Leave me a comment about what is stopping you from becoming organized.

How Can I Become a Better Housekeeper?

Find the motivation and you can learn it.

Find the motivation and you can learn   it.

How can some people learn to be better housekeepers? The optimal word is learning.  Keeping a house organized is a skill that can be learned like any other skill, reading, skiing, or social media.  There needs to be a motivation to want to learn this new skill. If you can decide that adding organization to your life will make you feel less anxious about your home, provide you with a system that allows you to get everything done and still have time for yourself or live in a space that you love and enjoy you can take on the task of being less messy. So here are 3 tips:

  1. Schedule everything. Decide when you will do each of the household tasks you are responsible for eg, laundry, grocery shopping, bill payments, meal preparation, driving children, cleaning, doing the dishes. Look at your week and add it to your schedule and consider it an appointment with yourself and complete the task.
    Treat all task as an appointment with yourself

    Treat all tasks as an appointment with yourself


  2. Make the space look better than when you started working in it. The old saying “if you get it out put it away” works. Don’t set it down; put it back, in the desk drawer, in dishwasher, in the laundry hamper, in the refrigerator. In addition put one more thing away too.  This helps you to slowly get rid of the “mess”.  You are not creating more mess and you are reducing any mess that has accumulated. Your space will continue to look better.
    If you take it out, put it away and one other thing as well

    If you take it out, put it away and one   other thing as well


  3. Get help to be successful. Your may find you don’t have time to do it all yourself. Delegate it to other family members. At first it may take longer to get things done as they learn how to do things.  Stick with it and soon it will no longer be your responsibility.  Hire help for the things that are the most difficult for you to complete.  You may want a cleaning service, lawn care service, share carpooling for your children or Professional Organizers.  Consider your budget; you may not be able to have them come every week but what if one service came each week.

    You may not be able to do it all yourself so get some help

    You may not be able to do it all yourself so get   some help

At the end of each month you would have most things under control   with the help of your scheduling, putting things away as you use them and involving others in sharing the work.  Tell me how you become better at keeping your house in order.

Residential Organizing Services for the Region of Niagara, Hamilton, Halton-Peel and Surrounding Area