HELLO Ivy and Sprig friends! I have been behind the scenes setting up some new exciting aspects of this blog and revamping some technology to bring more great ideas to you. My original vision for Ivy and Sprig included some inspirational interviews for you with women who are raising a family and using their passions in the workplace or community. I hope we can learn from some inspiring women about how family life and personal passions can intersect.
I couldn’t think of a better way to start than right here in Houston with some very special people. Over the coming weeks, I’ll interject some stories for you of Mothers (IVY) growing in their passions while raising families (SPRIGS).
Organization and productivity are areas that I always need help with in life so I thought that we would start off with, Michele Clements of The Well Ordered Life.
Michele is a professional home organizer and when you step into her townhouse it’s like a breath of fresh air.
There is a sense of calm and order everywhere I look. I had asked Michele to tell me a little about her business and share some of her tips and systems for organizing. She knew I had to come and see how she lives to help me understand some of the many ways she keeps it all straight at her house. Now, granted, she has no small children but she does have grandchildren and a teenage son and husband. I get the sense that her house would be organized no matter how many people were in it.
Michele makes a Cappuccino to rival Starbucks, so I was welcomed with a steamy mug of frothy cappucino and felt instantly at ease.
For those of us who are constantly trying to keep some level of sanity at the desk, in the closets etc., these posts are for you. I have broken her ideas into a series of two posts so as not to make your head spin. I hope you find some tips to help you in your own life.
Below is our conversation:
Hi Michele, thank you for sharing your time with us to learn how to be more organized in our own homes. This is something I’ve always struggled with. Have you always been organized?
Well, it really did come kind of naturally to me. When I was little I spent a lot of time with my grandmother. I remember being at her house and sitting at her feet while she sewed. She was a very talented lady who made and sold Christmas ornaments for her gift store. She made everything from clothes to my Barbie’s clothes. She was literally like a Martha Stewart of her time. I started by sorting her bobbins by sizes and color. I was always organizing things. I liked things neat. In my career, I was the Vice President of Marketing for David Weekly Homes for 16 years but when I became a mom, I started thinking about a new flexible schedule. A friend suggested that I would be a good home organizer. I didn’t start right away but as my son grew and I had more time on my hands, I started helping friends and I loved it! One friend led to another and eventually, I opened my business, The Well Ordered Life. I truly enjoy helping people feel more organized.
What do you think is the key challenge for people when it comes to organizing?
I think that if there is a place for everything then it all stays organized but if there isn’t a place for everything….specifically for …say, extension cords, then you end up wasting time hunting for things in your house or garage. It can be overwhelming to stop to create those places, especially in a house move or a large house. That’s what I do. I help create those spaces so that everything has a home.
My biggest challenges are really around my desk, mail and email. Can you give us some tips on how you handle those things?
Yes, Ok, let’s start with mail. I go get my mail every single day.
Ok, that’s my problem right there. I’m kind of bad about that because I drive past it at the end of my driveway. I really get it like every other day….or worse.
You really need to make a routine to go get your mail every day and I pass right by my recycle bin in my garage and stop to drop all things out of the stack that I’m not going to keep. Just dump the junk before it even goes in the house if you can. While I’m walking by my car, I grab my leather zip pouch in from my car door pocket for coupons and take it in with me. Then I divide our mail into stacks for my husband and son and I have a standing file on the desk for each of them that their mail goes into. I immediately open and sort mail into my files, pay any bills that are there that aren’t on auto pay and RSVP to anything once I check my calendar. I try to respond to invitations immediately but sometimes need to check with my husband. I use the POP money app from my bank account for payments to be made that keep me from having to write lots of checks to people like my handyman, housekeeper etc. I take coupons and put them right into the leather flat zip bag and take that back to my car so I have them when I’m out. If I do this everyday, it’s a short 20 minute process. This is a great thing to do in the afternoon around 4 pm when kids are doing homework.
I have some standing files for tickets to events or things I may need to grab. I can explain my binders in a minute. But that’s about it for snail mail. (You can see in the photo above that Michele uses a curtain to cover a printer and any unsightly office equipment. Her furniture was basic that she painted with her wall color paint along with her file cabinets and desk. The room looked streamlined, clean and serene.)
You mentioned putting things right on your calendar, do you use an electronic calendar or a paper one?
I use my phone/computer calendar for everything. I’ll be out with someone on the golf course and we are trying to make a plan and I’ve got my phone and can check right then. But my friends with a paper calendar have to wait until they get it out of their car to see if they are available. To me, it’s more efficient to use an electronic one. Speaking of which, if you travel you can add all the details direct to your calendar from the airline app. I have the United App and can add a flight to my calendar and when I open it in my calendar, there are all the details to my flight…times, gates, boarding information. That is really great! I really use my calendar for everything.
What do you mean?
I will create events on my calendar for important errands and block in time to exercise that way too. I’m basically time blocking. I will go online to reserve a place in a Yoga class and then send it to my calendar so it comes up as an event.
What other ways do you organize with your phone?
I organized my photos in my phone into albums. You know how you’ll be someplace and someone will want to show you a photo but they have to scroll through hundreds just to find the photo they need? I make albums of say Ajax my dog that recently passed away or events or my son so that I can show someone a photo quickly. I do keep a closet with hard copies of photos for each person in the family and scrapbook keepsakes.
I keep notes for Christmas in my phone year round so if I notice someone needs something or they want something, I add it to a list in my phone. Or, if I see a Christmas idea that I like for someone, I might write in the idea and put their name beside it. Then when a special deal comes around or the Holiday Card, I can go and get those things using the list I’ve been building. It’s nice to start Christmas shopping with a running list from the year.
Can you give us some advice about handling email? I find that email is one that can get away from me…it’s hard to keep up with the avalanche of emails from schools, committees, kids activities etc. not to mention junk emails between it all.
Here’s what works for me…I get up in the morning and make our breakfast smoothies, my son and husband both leave the house at 7:15, then I take my coffee to my desk and immediately go through emails for 30 minutes or so. I delete any junk and respond and file things into folders. I print any information related to projects or committees at school and keep a hard copy in a binder so that when I leave for a meeting, I can just grab that binder and take all of the information and communication with me. I unsubscribe to junk and then read and respond to everything else. I check back a few times during the day and then once in the evening.
You really have to be committed to staying on top of it everyday. I use an iOS outlook email sorting app but there are several that can help you sort and stay on top of your email.
Now, I didn’t know what she meant by iOS software. I looked it up and read about a few different apps that can help you read, file, respond and delete email more efficiently. I downloaded one called Spark and started using it immediately. I really see how this could help. I’ll let you know….
Stay Tuned For Part Two of The Well Ordered Home with Michele Clements! Here is a sneak peak at just some of the tips you will get from around her house ….how to tame the baseball hats! Brilliant.
Closets, Pantrys and Garages…OH MY!! You won’t want to miss photos of her ways to organize your space.
To reach Michele Clements at the Well Ordered Home, contact her at 832/228-8688 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to be inspired regularly? Follow Michele on Instagram at TheWellOrderedLife!
I hope there was something new for you in this post. Share your tips for any of the things we talked about above in the reply box below. I love to learn! A clean desk and a roomy, spacious inbox to come for me!