Paris Love can bring order to chaos in the time it takes to get a good night’s sleep. She’s been known to transform a cluttered home office — jam-packed with years of paperwork, extra furniture and supplies — in just a few hours.
A member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, the Chicago native has been helping people eliminate clutter from their homes, offices and lives for more than 11 years. Her motto: Have clutter, will travel.
“Clutter is really a symptom of something else,” Love said. “We have physical clutter and emotional clutter. Sometimes, we don’t realize the things we hold on to affect our lives. A lot of the time, we don’t know how or why it is occurring.”
For example, when you have to spend time searching for papers you’ve lost on your desk, or buying another stapler because you can’t find the one you bought to replace the last one you couldn’t find, you are wasting time and money you could have saved if you were more organized.
Love was the kind of child who never had to be told to clean her room. She alphabetized her books and toys, always looking for ways to be more neat and tidy. As an adult, she would organize her friends’ homes for fun, rearranging and straightening, she said, because she couldn’t seem to help herself.
Later, her friends became her first paying clients. “I think whenever you can turn your passion into something that you truly love,” Love said, it doesn’t feel like work. For Thanksgiving, she rearranged her own office.
“I’m always doing some type of organization or seeing how I can change something.”
Helping people reclaim a room or an entire house brings her joy. “It’s so cool, I still get excited about it.”
Love said she finds that many people are apprehensive about having a stranger come into their home, afraid that she will toss out their treasures. A while back, she was part of a team featured on the television show Hoarders, helping a family in north Mobile County separate themselves from a lifetime of clutter, including more than 5,000 purses.
“That was a team effort,” Love said. We talked about if you are not using this should we give it to someone who can use it. There are some people who probably never had a purse. “I said ‘Why don’t we release it to the universe so they can have it?’”
Along the way, Love has written and co-written half a dozen books on organizing, productivity and reclaiming your home, office and career through the power of organization. They are available on her website and other outlets including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.
While hiring a professional can give you the push you need to get more organized, Love said anyone can make changes for a neater, less cluttered, more intentional life. Here are five tips to help jump-start the process:
PLAN: Decide what your goal is then create a strategy to get there. Be sure to write down your goal and put it somewhere you can see it. A lot of times people look around and there is so much paper and so much stuff. Here’s a tip for mail: When you go to the mailbox, you are usually passing a trash can. Get the mail, look at it, and toss all the junk before going back into the house. I recycle, so I put it in the recycle bin.
ASSIGN: In business and your personal life, it’s important to assign tasks to the right people. In a corporate environment, we might feel we need to do everything, but you have to delegate projects. Give people tasks they are good at. At home, divide the chores. One spouse might pay the bills, one might do the grocery shopping. Get the kids involved, too, because you are teaching them these skills. Have a child write out the grocery list.
RETAIN: In business, it’s vital to retain the right employees, tools and supplies to get the job done. At home, you should keep only the things you truly love. If you don’t love it, let it go. Often, we keep things we don’t love because it belonged to our mom or dad. It has a sentimental value.
INVEST: Investing in your personal and/or professional development is vital. It doesn’t cost you anything to get organized. Whether you do it yourself or bring in a professional, becoming more organized is an investment in your future and ultimately in your well-being.
SIMPLIFY: It’s all about keeping it simple. The key to organization is consistency. Once you have the process down, you really have to be consistent. Being able to find things when you need it will increase your productivity.