For many, spring is the season for deep-cleaning and decluttering their homes. Northern Michigan University alumna Carrie Young is helping people tackle organizational challenges more effectively, efficiently and consistently so they can regain balance in their lives. The 1998 business management graduate parlayed her skills into a career as a professional organizer about 15 years ago. She works in the Toldedo, Ohio area.
“I was tired of corporate America and wanted to be my own boss,” said Young. “I thought to myself, ‘I'm really good at organizing.' I've been organizing since I was very young, so I looked into professional organizers. There was a whole networking group of us, and I decided to do that.
“It's important to declutter because people spend a lot of time on organizing, finding their stuff or spending money because they can't find their stuff. Their brains are pretty cluttered because of the chaos in their homes, which makes it hard to focus. Being organized creates more peaceful relationships and reduces stress because people are not scrambling around in search of things. If you have an organizing system set up, it creates more happiness in the family.”
Young advises people to spend five minutes in the morning or at the end of the day on smaller tasks: putting things back in their place, washing the dishes, cleaning a junk drawer or going through the mail. She said everyday maintenance makes cleaning easier and more manageable than waiting for a longer period until it builds up into a bigger and more overwhelming project.
People who want to organize themselves should envision what the space should look like and ask what is and isn't working in the space, Young suggests. Then set up labeled boxes of keep, donate, sell, recycle and trash. Even put a donation bin in the closet. If an item isn't fitting right or no longer interests the person, it will never get worn. She recommends listening to music while sorting, or asking a family member or friend to help.
Young is a member of NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing), which has chapters in each state. Members network, invite guest speakers, exchange resources, get to know each other and work in teams on bigger projects.
Alongside her own business—Space Organizing Solutions—Young works for Home Sweet Home, Moves For Seniors, and Liv Now Senior Relocation. She helps people purge unwanted items, downsize, pack, unpack, and set up their new homes with organized systems. Young said she works with clients an average of three hours on a small project, but packing and unpacking a move can take two or three days. Springtime is her busiest season, with three or four sessions per week.
“I do a lot of marketing, and residents call you for individual jobs,” said Young. “The unpacking is a bonus that people like because, as an organizer, I can set up the systems for them as far as streamlining kitchen items in a certain area, like the glasses near the dishwasher, and categorizing pantry items together, such as rice, pasta and canned goods. I suggest products and labeling containerizing.”
Young encounters common problems, such as a difficulty letting go of sentimental items. When clearing out estates for a deceased family member, surviving family members occasionally have disputes about what to keep, what not to keep and what to do with the items. She advises people not to feel guilty for getting rid of something that doesn't give them joy or fit into their lifestyle. They can keep one item from a collection, take a photo of the item, give the item to someone in need or sell the item and create a new memory in their family member's honor.
Learn more about Young's Space Organizing Solutions here.