Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spirit: Angela Kantarellis on How to Organize Your Life

"It’s clarity about what’s important to us and how we want to live our lives. It’s about letting go of what no longer serves us, identifying what’s great in our lives and figuring out what else we want to bring in to the mix to support us in our personal and professional goals."


Today we're glad to meet New York-based professional organizer Angela Kantarellis. She's been a complete blessing to me as I undertake Project: Desk over at the Herman Miller Lifework blog. Hopefully you'll find her as smart and savvy as I do.

I would totally trust organizer Angela Kantarellis, wouldn't you?
1. How did you become a professional organizer?
It’s really a 40licious kind of story … when I was 38 I decided to go back to grad school. I needed something to support myself while I was in school, something that came very naturally to me and that drew on the skills I had developed in my previous career in real estate. I’ve always loved the organizing process – the way making changes to our physical environment can have a profound impact on our inner world. I put the word out to my friends and within two weeks I had 14 clients! That’s how AKorganizing was born.

I joined NAPO – The National Association of Professional Organizers and the New York Chapter, NAPO-NY and I knew I had found my tribe. I graduated with my Masters in Psychology in 2008. I was 40. AKorganizing had taken on a life of its own by that time and the industry in general was rapidly expanding. The rest is history as they say.

2. By the time we are in our 40s, we have a lot of history racked up. How do we organize pictures, mementos, knickknacks and things our mother gave us that we can't throw out because we feel guilty?
First things first…no more guilt! I always encourage clients to “re-gift without guilt.” Don’t love it, can’t use it? Pass it along to a friend who would delight in it – yes even if your mother gave it to you! Donate the rest or gasp, toss it.

I’m a big fan of having memorabilia boxes. Beautiful boxes to store cards, mementos and knickknacks. There is something really powerful about all those memories and personal history stored in one place. It’s great to go through it every so often, and rediscover forgotten treasures.

A wall of photos is always a fun and creative way to display photos, especially at the entrance to your apartment or home, great feng shui! For photos that don’t get displayed, you want to store them in archival grade photo boxes or in lignin free scrapbook albums.


2. Can we talk about shoes for a minute? There seems to never be enough space to organize the shoes logically. Help!
I like to keep shoes in their original boxes so when I open the box it’s like seeing them for the first time.

I keep the shoe boxes stacked in a closet devoted exclusively to coats, shoes and bags. They are in chronological order – oldest, rarely worn but beloved on the bottom; more recent, often worn towards the top.

For everyday shoes, lined up at the bottom of the closet is a simple way to go, especially boots.


3. What's the best way to organize emails? We are bombarded by work and personal ones. Which should we tackle first?
Folders are key for managing email. I just revamped my email folders to reflect my current priorities for AKorganizing. I numbered the folders so they appear at the top of my folders list. It helps me stay on track and focused on my current business goals.
  1. Clients
  2. Press
  3. Speaking
  4. Writing
  5. Follow up
  6. Read
  7. Great Ideas/Reference

Clutter, whether it is physical clutter or e-clutter results from delayed decision making. A great way to stay on top of email it to respond to simple items right away and schedule uninterrupted time to handle more emails that require more thought. To keep clutter at bay unsubscribe from unsolicited newsletters and delete suspicious email immediately.

4. What are the essential tools people need for organizing?
Surprisingly it’s not more gadgets or fancy boxes. It’s clarity about what’s important to us and how we want to live our lives. It’s about letting go of what no longer serves us, identifying what’s great in our lives and figuring out what else we want to bring in to the mix to support us in our personal and professional goals. A good professional organizer is an indispensable resource in this process.


5. Anything else people should know?
William Morris said it best “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

3 comments:

home network manager said...

great job !

Jeff said...

Just did something with emails this morning at work - I created "new rules" in Outlook that send items I need to save into their proper folders as they arrive. That way I can look at them at my leisure, they're already organized and they're not cramming the inbox.

40licious said...

That is such a simple thing to do that will save loads of time on the back-end of everything. Now I'm working on unsubscribing from everything I just never read. Good job, Jeff.