The Seana Method Freedom Through Organization Mon, 21 Aug 2017 00:31:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 88360408 Things I Say When Organizing Mon, 21 Aug 2017 00:31:15 +0000


I love working with clients, mostly because I enjoy being with and helping people. I love hearing stories, laughing over memories and seeing progress unfold.

While every situation is unique, I’ve noticed over time that there are some phrases I use repeatedly. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to work with me, here are a few things you might hear me say.


“I specialize in motivation”

Many people struggle to get started on projects, even ones they really want to do. This applies to various endeavors, including dieting, exercising and organizing. People will say, “I know that I need to tackle this mess, but I just can’t seem to make myself do it.” My response to this is, “No problem!” I will make sure we get started and stay focused. Paying someone money, and then having her show up at your door, is a very effective way to make change happen.

By the way, if you ever need a little extra motivation, I highly recommend this adorable video:


“Talk to me about this.”

Most people assume I will come in and tell them to get rid of everything. That is completely false. I fully understand that most people have good reasons for why they have various items in their space. In order to decide what to keep and what to shed, it can be helpful to talk it through. Conversation yields discovery, which fosters wise decision-making. For instance, a piece of plastic that looks like trash may actually be a key piece of a child’s toy. Or an old newspaper may have a story about a family member and therefore needs to be saved. Often, a client is actually ready to let a possession go, but just needs to “relive the story” of it one more time. I have learned so much from these precious times, and consider it a privilege to be invited into the memory.


“Why are you keeping this?”

This is a question I ask all the time. Frequently, when discussing belongings, clients tell me what various objects are (e.g. their function) or where they came from (e.g. their provenance). Both of these pieces of information are helpful, yet neither helps me know what to do with them. Understanding why something is being kept is critical in helping to identify where it should go. For example,

If you are keeping an item because you ….             Then it should be …

… feel guilty to get rid of it                                       … donated, trashed, recycled or sold

… use it frequently                                                    … stored in an easy to access location

… might need it someday                                         … clearly labeled and stored remotely

… believe it has monetary value                              … possibly appraised and stored safely

… enjoy the memories it holds                                … stored with memorabilia or displayed

… want to give it someone else                               … shipped/delivered to the recipient

… plan on fixing/repairing it                                     … assessed and repaired

… don’t own it (e.g. it is my husband’s)                  … reviewed by the owner for a decision


“I give you permission”

Often, clients have a nagging urge to get rid of something, and yet are reluctant to do so. They may feel guilty, insecure or fearful. It may sound funny, but it is perfectly normal to ask, “Do I need to keep this?” In some cases, the advice of a professional (e.g. a lawyer, doctor or accountant) may be needed to answer that question. However, in many cases, it is helpful simply to have another person confirm an inner desire to finally move something along. Organizing, like so many other pursuits, is often easier when we do it with another person.


“The fun was in the making”

A common scenario in a household with children is a plethora of artistic creations. Pottery, artwork, sewing projects, sticker art, sand structures and model kits are frequently made in the home or come back from parties, school and activities. Often, we feel pressure to keep and/or display these pieces. When an object is new, that is a good idea. I typically suggest clients designate a “gallery” where the latest Lego kit or bedazzled picture frame can live. However, after a reasonable time has passed (which depends on the individual), it is usually okay to let them go. [Note: you can always take a photograph of a special piece for posterity!] For many projects, the joy of creativity is more in the “construction” phase than in the display phase, and it is healthy to let children know that they don’t need to keep the object in order to remember the fun.


“I love that idea!”

While I am the professional, hired to bring in ideas and solutions, I often find that clients have terrific ideas of their own. When talking about where or how to store something, it is very common for a client to come up with the winning idea. I love when this happens, because it builds a client’s confidence to see that he/she can organize. I love smart solutions, regardless of where they come from.


“I affirm you”

Everyone needs affirmation, especially when trying to move forward in a new, challenging or stressful area. I am a firm believer that a little encouragement goes a long way. When clients tell me about steps they have taken or freeing decisions they have made, I am known to say, “I affirm you!” Knowing that someone else understands and celebrates with us makes the victory all the sweeter.


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Have you ever hired a professional organizer? What phrases did he/she use?




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Lessons From Summer Vacation Mon, 14 Aug 2017 00:06:51 +0000 lessons from summer vacation

Like it or not, summer is drawing to a close. Many have already returned to work or school, getting back into the groove. As the pressures of the daily routine resume, memories of summer, leisure and vacation can quickly fade.

Recently, I was on a vacation and saw this image:

These three words – float, swim, listen – caught my attention. Most likely, they were intended as suggestions for a person enjoying some time at the beach. However, as I pondered them, I realized they could be even more helpful reminders in my normal, day-to-day life.

~~~ FLOAT ~~~

How often do we float in life? Floating implies release, letting go of control and allowing something bigger than ourselves to surround and uplift us. To float requires a measure of surrender and vulnerability, which then provides lightness and serenity in return.

For many of us, our lives require a fair amount of “pushing through.” We make lists, evaluate priorities, manage schedules, provide instructions and otherwise direct the events of our day. All of these tasks are important and helpful. At the same time, it is helpful to remember that we really are not in control of how events unfold. An unexpected development may thwart our plans. A sudden illness may render us incapable of functioning. A friend, family member or coworker may require our time or service.

If you were to fall off of a boat in the middle of the ocean, you might try to swim to shore. But if you were far at sea, with no realistic chance of swimming to dry land, the best option might simply be to roll over and float. Hopefully, help would arrive or the tide would push you in the right direction. If nothing else, you would have conserved your energy, given yourself time to regroup and possibly enjoyed a beautiful view.

This is helpful to bear in mind when the day seems to be falling apart. It may be possible to adjust course and still achieve an intended objective, but it might be wiser to relinquish the plan and simply see what unfolds.

~~~ SWIM ~~~

Submerging your body in water is one of the great pleasures of a summer day. Whether it is in a pool, a lake or an ocean, taking a swim can be refreshing and invigorating. Typically, I need to be in “in the mood” to go for a swim. Mostly, I enjoy swimming after I have been lying on a beach and gotten very hot. When the sun is shining, the breeze isn’t too stiff, and the water is the perfect temperature, I will dive in.

Most of us have long lists of things we’d like to get done. In spite of good intentions, we tend to repeatedly put off tackling projects that are difficult or stressful. After all, daily demands are always tugging at us, so avoiding things we don’t really have to do is tempting. However, I have observed that most people periodically experience a surge of energy for a long-delayed task. Maybe you simply can’t stand that ugly carpet one minute longer so you jump up and start pulling it up from the corners. Possibly your car breaks down one time too many so you decide to start shopping for a new car over the upcoming weekend. Perhaps you get frustrated that you can’t zip up your favorite pants and decide it is finally time to go on a diet.

There is an old phrase, “Strike while the iron is hot.” Whatever the impetus, if you find yourself wanting to “finally get it done,” harness that energy and dive in. Take a tangible step toward a desired goal, preferably one that requires enough of an investment (time, space, energy) that you won’t be tempted to quit.

~~~ LISTEN ~~~

One word that could be used to describe modern living is “frenzied.” It seems like events unfold rapidly, visual images pass by rapidly and there is constant noise. The pressure to multitask is so strong, we rarely allow ourselves the privilege of giving anything or anyone our full, undistracted attention.

True listening requires solitary focus. Have you ever been in a crowd when someone asked, “Do you hear that?” Suddenly, the group goes silent and still as everyone tries to hear the sound. Similarly, have you ever been talking to someone who is checking his/her phone while you are speaking? They may say, “I’m listening!” but you can tell they really are not.

People who truly listen are typically well informed and well liked. Listening without an agenda can bring surprises, wisdom, laughter and perspective. When we feel that sense of overwhelm encroaching, it might be time to slow down, turn off a few noises and listen.

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Did you get a chance to step away from the action this summer? What words do you think you might carry with you into the fall?

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A Smooth Back To School Mon, 07 Aug 2017 01:32:26 +0000

About mid-July, the airwaves light up with back to school advertising. While buying school supplies is important, it is only one of the tasks that parents & kids need to complete. To hit the ground running, be sure to do the following:

Buying supplies is fun, and can be a great way to get excited about the upcoming year. At the same time, we often buy more than we need. Before heading out to shop, take time to go through drawers, backpacks, and cabinets to take stock of what you already own. Be sure to check for…

  1. School supplies. Feel free to pitch the “dead” supplies (e.g. broken crayons, short pencils, pencils without erasers, binders which won’t fully close, “weak” markers/highlighters, etc.)
  2. Clothing. Try on the pants/sweater/jackets from last year. Donate (or hold) whatever no longer fits.
  3. Activity gear. Assess your sporting equipment, dance clothes, concert attire, etc.

Once you know what you have, you are ready to shop. Keep in mind that many teachers, coaches and directors have specific requests, meaning you will likely need to shop after school has begun. Nonetheless, stocking up in advance minimizes the time you will need with your child later when they are busy. Click here for a Back To School Supplies List.

Believe it or not, most children do not prefer to work at a desk in their room.
Talk with your children about where they like to work (e.g. kitchen table, the floor, the dining room, etc.) Once you have decided where kids will work, assemble the supplies they will need for daily tasks so they are handy. For example, have a bin or basket which can be set on the kitchen island, or a rolling cart that can be pulled out of a closet to the dining room. Also, discuss in advance where computer work will be done, and at what times of day. Setting limits now minimizes conflicts later.

Designate an area where extra school supplies will be stored. This may be a dresser in the hallway, a shelf or two in a closet, a kitchen cabinet or a bin under the bed. Teach children to keep only one or two of each item they need at their workstation, and to access the “supplies” area when they need a replacement. This keeps the work area from becoming overly cluttered. Be sure to group like items together in bags or smaller boxes, and label everything so family members can find what they need.

Children and adults alike walk in the door with “stuff.” It is critical to have a designated space for all belongings. For instance, set a tray where children should place all paperwork they need signed, a hook for jackets, a place for the backpack, a specific drop spot for the lunchbox and a hamper for dirty sports gear. Older children will need to know where they are expected to charge electronics and hang car keys.

The beginning of school typically requires a lot of forms. On the positive side, many schools, teams and activities are moving to online submission. The bad news is, you no longer have a physical piece of paper reminding you that it needs to be filled out. Set aside time in your calendar for working on these as school resumes. Typically, you will need to complete the following forms (and provide payment where necessary):

  • Emergency Forms
  • Enrollment Forms
  • Health Forms
  • Permission Forms
  • Release Forms

Establishing a routine makes life easier for everyone. Post a list (e.g. an index card on the bathroom mirror or near the door) that reminds children what they need to remember each morning and evening. Checklists can include reminders about chores, personal hygiene, homework, gear they need to bring and more. For younger children, consider a visual – such as a flip chart with a picture – that helps them remember which special activity they have coming up tomorrow (e.g. gym, library, art.)

As soon as schedules are available, put all dates into a master calendar. Whether you use a digital, paper or giant dry-erase system, commit to using one location where all of the family’s activities can be seen together. Color code by family member if possible. Be sure to include dates for:

  • Activities
  • Practices/rehearsals
  • Days off of school/early dismissals
  • Back-to-School night (book your babysitter immediately!)
  • Concerts
  • Field trips

Lastly, the first day of school is always a milestone. Consider planning something special to celebrate the day. Bake a special cake, serve doughnuts at the bus stop, take a photo in a traditional spot, serve a special meal, hang a balloon, etc.  Small traditions like this can help ease the anxiety of first day jitters.

Click to view slideshow.

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The start of school is a busy, and exciting, time. As with all life transitions, a little planning goes a long way.

What tip do you have for making the start of school run smoothly?

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