Professional advice given to amateur clutterers

Jordana Turcotte at Grooms Tavern.Jordana Turcotte at Grooms Tavern.
Jordana Turcotte at Grooms Tavern.

Jordana Turcotte at Grooms Tavern.

By Molly Congdon
Gazette Reporter
CLIFTON PARK — Ten women sat in Grooms Tavern on Feb. 6 and listened intently as professional organizer Jordana Turcotte offered her wisdom on how to keep their homes clean and clear of the dreaded word that many of us are all way too familiar with — clutter.

“Clutter is a delayed decision,” Turcotte explained. “It isn’t always garbage. It is just too much of anything that makes the room appear busier than it needs to be. It is the everyday stuff we don’t see anymore; that we are used to. It represents artifacts not used to their potential or perceived potential.”
Many of us are guilty of creating this type of mess.

Turcotte started her business — Simply You: Organizing to Simplify Your Life — 61⁄2 years ago. She runs it out of her Ballston Lake home.

“I have an engineering background and I did process engineering so I did organizational projects in the manufacturing environment,” she said. “So then when I stayed home with my kids, I said, ‘I want to help people at home.’ ”

Being organized is important for many reasons. “It saves time and reduces stress, which are the key things that everyone complains about,” Turcotte said. “When I decided to go into business I picked the home because people are so frazzled from work and busy that they really need their home to work for them — it sets them up for success every day.”

Prior to her presentation, Turcotte passed out a handout to all in attendance with the words “Getting Organized” on the top in bold. After explaining the benefits of creating order within one’s home and the long list of excuses people sift through to avoid getting rid of certain items that they’ve accumulated over the years, she asked everyone to take a minute to reflect and write down their personal vision they have for their home.
One woman joked: “How do I get my husband to control his stuff?”
After the laughter faded, Turcotte explained that it is always better to offer up solutions instead of saying: “Move your stuff.”

SPACE program
It was at that moment that she divulged her secret to staying organized: following the SPACE system, which comes in handy when dealing with something as big as a room or as small as a drawer:
u S: Sort similar objects together.
u P: Purge anything you don’t want or need.
u A: Assign a home for everything, keeping in mind which zone it is used in and where it makes sense to keep.
u C: Containerize with bins
u E: Equalize 3 to 5 minutes per day — put things away where they belong.

Before commencing the process of eliminating clutter, assemble certain key materials close at hand, including garbage bags, boxes, labels, a Sharpie pen, a large empty space for sorting and a pen and paper to create a to-do list.

She also introduced the 80-20 Rule, which states that we use 20 percent of our things, 80 percent of the time. “Your favorite pair of jeans go in the wash and you put them right back on as soon as they are done,” Turcotte said. “We tend to wear the same clothes over and over again.”

She touched on the fear we all have when it comes to letting things go. (Apparently we all have to take a page out of Princess Elsa’s book and belt out, “I’m Free!” each time an item bites the dust.) It can be tough because even the smallest objects can have great meaning.

13 questions
Turcotte always asks her clients 13 questions to see if the object should be purged or not such as:
u It is useful or beautiful? If not, throw it out.
u When was the last time you used it?
u Does the item enhance and advance the vision you have or impede it?
u If it is an item with a memory, are you honoring it?
As the women filed out of the room after a crash course in tidiness, Turcotte’s greatest lesson was clear: In order to keep our homes and lives more in order we must retrain our mind and body into having good habits until, like a smooth jump shot, avoiding clutter is instinctive.