Tuesday, March 19, 2013

365 Inspirations—78: Genuinely Organized by Karen Cafarella

"You don't have to spend hours to get organized. A little goes a long way."—Karen Cafarella

I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting author Karen Cafarella in person. She read my book Lessons from the Monk I Married and we've been in contact through my blog. She even hosted Yoon and I at her lovely home in Phoenix last October when we were en route to Sedona, AZ for a Yoon's Yoga Bliss Retreat.

We had such a lovely visit! She even knitted us scarves! While chatting in her living room over snacks and drinks, I learned that Karen is also an author of a book and workbook about getting organized called Genuinely Organized: A Simple Guide to a Clutter Free Life. As I sit here at my desk, which is cluttered beyond belief, I wish I could channel Karen or that she'd magically appear to help me out. Karen sometimes makes house calls in her area to help people de-clutter. For now, I'm going to start with her book and workbook. Organization has never been my strong point, but I'd like to make changes. Here's my interview with Karen:

1. Have you always been an organized person? If not, when did you start to become interested in organizing? 

 I look back at my childhood and remember how I used to organize my Barbie's clothes as well as my closet and dresser drawers, so I guess I have always been an organized person!

2. Do you think organizational skills are something we learn or something we are born with? 

 I think anyone can be organized.  You don't have to be born with that gene..ha, ha.  It just takes a little practice to make it feel more "normal" than something that is a struggle.

3. I know you have worked with people professionally by helping them get organized. How do you approach a person's mess and disorganization and not make that person feel overwhelmed? 

 The most important thing for me is to make them feel comfortable.  I always let my clients know that they can keep everything they have, I am just there to organize them.  Since I am not making anyone get rid of anything they feel comfortable and usually fill up my 4Runner with the stuff they want to donate.  

4. Do you think a disorganized person can learn to be organized? How long will it take ^_^!?  

I don't believe anyone is disorganized.  Everyone just has their own way of doing things.  I don't have a right way or wrong way of getting organized because we all have different ideas of how we want our home or work place.  As far as how long it will take, it is really up to you.  If I am helping a client, I only work with them maximum 4 hours in a day.  I find they get exhausted after that and then I come back the next day or week depending on what needs to be done.  

5. To be honest, I'm not an organized person. Where do you recommend I start organizing things and how often each day do I need to organize? 

 I would recommend you start with a closet.  If you want to organize your whole house you need to start slowly and for just a small amount of time.  The key is when you start with your closet you don't move on to anything else until that closet is done.  Also, as you clean out, put the stuff you want to donate into the car.  This way it is out of sight and when you pass a donation center you can just drop it off.  Again, really it is up to you how much time you spend.  It really depends on how busy you are each day.  I have found that most people,  once they start and see the results, can't wait to continue.

6. How do I keep up being organized and not slip off the wagon?

 Everyone slips off the wagon!! But don't chastise yourself for it.  Just get back into it.  After you have gotten your area, whether it be your home or office organized; to keep it up you should look at the whole area every few months.  Some of us obsessed organizing types do it much more often...ha, ha.  

7. As soon as I clean or organize something, everything gets cluttered again. How can I solve this problem? 
You have to look at what is getting cluttered again.  Is it the kitchen counter top?  What type of items are you putting on there.  Is it the bedroom? Is it clothes everywhere?  Make notice for a few days what is cluttering up the space and deal with it a little at a time until it becomes a habit.  For instance, if it is the mail, when you pick the mail up go through it right then and there.  Discard what isn't needed and place what is needed at your desk or wherever you do your bills.  

8. What prompted you to write Genuinely Organized: A Simple Guide to a Clutter Free Life?

 I love to organize and wanted to share what I had found helped people over the years.  I kept it very short because I feel no one who wants to get organized wants to read 100 pages or more on how to get organized.  I wanted it to be short and to the point  with tips to help get people started.

9. What do you hope your readers will get from both your book and workbook? 

 I hope with the book, people will see that you don't have to spend hours (unless of course you want to) to get organized.  A little goes a long way.  In the workbook,  I hope for it to be used as a guide and people will see how easy it truly is to get organized.

10. Any suggestions on how to keep on top of things when one is very busy?

  I think I keep repeating myself but it is so worth repeating, just do a little a day.  A drawer, a closet, the countertop.  You don't have to tackle it all at one time. When you try to do too much it is overwhelming.

11. Do you have any final comments?  

Keep it simple!  Thank you so much Katherine for inviting me to do this interview.  

Thanks for being here Karen! Now off I go to get ORGANIZED!

Karen and I at her house last October

Karen Cafarella lives and organizes in Phoenix, AZ.  She has written about organizing for her community paper and has spoken at women's groups.  Her other passion is yoga. Her books are available on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Genuinely-Organized-Simple-Guide-Clutter/dp/1438269390

And a questions now for my readers....

Are you an organized person?


  1. I am NOT an organized person. :-( But I want to be! When I have been organized, it was because I did a little at a time. That definitely worked for me.

  2. This is great, Karen and Karen! I have spurts of organization within my own studio, but in my work environments, I demand and easily facilitate organization. I have the knack for it; it's just the keeping up with it that's a challenge. Good post and best of luck to all of us clutterbugs!

  3. Tina, That is the best way. A little at a time. Thanks again Katherine for having me here at your blog.