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July 2013

From Adele’s Desk

You may have heard rumors that I’ve turned into a runner – well that is not exactly true. I am however running to raise funds for the Wesley Research Institute. What started out as volunteering to run 10km of the Byron Bay Triathlon has morphed into a full scale fund raising campaign in memory of my dear friend Liz who lost her battle with breast cancer last year. So if you would like to support this very worthy cause and save my feet, then head to this page. www.mycause.com.au/ page/57496 If anyone would like to join me in the Bridge to Brisbane, let me know!

Cathy Conroy

Senior Executive, national IT company and mother of 2 active boys!

BLM: What prompted you to look for concierge/organising services? CC: Having just moved to Brisbane in 2007 to establish an office for the company I worked for, all I did for the first few years was concentrate on work. My personal affairs became a disaster, nothing was filed, store credit notes and vouchers expired, bills were just paid and put on top of a large pile for another date. Trouble was that the “other date” just never came.... I was doing some on line research about getting some help and came across a blog that was written by Adele. It had this check list of questions and I answered “Yes” to nearly all of them. I knew then that BLM was the company for me and I emailed them straight way. BLM: Why did you choose to use BLM? CC: The blog that Adele wrote really resonated with me and I thought “my search is over” this lady speaks my language! BLM: What kind of solutions were you looking for? CC: General home office! Initially, getting organised and having a process that would work long after the BLM team had gone home was my priority. However, from this initial engagement, I have been able to use their services in many other areas and their engagement has expanded to include things like • Organising my mother’s 60th birthday, which was on Christmas Eve, something I just did not have time for • Arranging trades people to quote

on various home projects • Coordinating gardening and landscaping services and home cleaning services, they just know everyone that can help with any request I have, it’s so fantastic. BLM: Did we deliver those solutions? CC: Time and time again! They always turn up when they say they will, they always follow up on all projects and keep me on track! BLM: How has engaging BLM changed your lifestyle? CC: If I had not engaged the team from BLM, I wouldn’t have been able to bring my home office back to being functional and I would be in lots of trouble with the Tax Man! BLM: What has been the standout moment of our services to you? CC: The customer service is always outstanding. When I call up, they remember who I am and what they have helped with or are currently helping with and it’s like phoning a friend. You don’t get this level of service from many organisations these days. BLM: Would you recommend BLM to others? CC: Absolutely, without hesitation, every time! BLM: Anything else you would like to add? CC: The service from BLM can really give you your time back and this can be spent on other important areas of your life.


FEATURE STORY

Law and Order: How Pro Helps Tackle Clutter Wall Street Journal | 9 April 2010

If you’re aiming to organize a chaotic and cluttered home, the most dangerous place on earth may be the Container Store. At least that is what some professional organizers say. That is because most people leave that Mecca of boxes, bins, shelves and hooks (The stores carry more than 50 different types of CD holders alone.) without much of a plan. Armed with good intentions and a host of shiny new products, they often end up with just as much of a jumble. And even more stuff. “It is the biggest mistake people make,” says Laura Leist, president of the National Association of Professional Organizers or NAPO, a trade group. “They think if they buy something to put their things in that is going to solve the problem.” (A Container Store spokeswoman says store employees—who receive more than 240 hours of training on storage and organization—can guide customers into making the right decisions about products.) The most important part of organizing is actually throwing stuff away or “purging,” Ms. Leist says. And that is where professional organizers say they can often be the most help, by gently and tactfully encouraging people to get rid of superfluous stuff.

Fantasy Closets We’ve all seen magazines showing freakishly organized homes: closets with precision-stacked linens; alphabetized spices; orderly toy cubbies and designated bill-paying stations. Glossy shots like these inspired four lifelong pack rats to get organized—with a little help. Professional organizers were asked to tackle everything from a home-office overloaded with piles of paper to a closet stuffed to the ceiling with a melange of baby clothes (the kids are teenagers), school artwork and even an old mattress and box spring. Testers in varied living situations—from a two-story house in the Atlanta suburbs to a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, N.Y.—were enlisted to hire organizers in our hometowns. In general, we were thrilled with the outcome and were amazed at how quickly we saw results. Forced to justify what we wanted to keep, we were able to be much more ruthless in our purging. (Though, one of our testers did resort to hiding some purge-worthy note cards from her organizer’s eyes.) Our organizers kept us focused and on task, and definitely got their hands dirty, digging into the depths of closets and lugging bags of trash. So we were able to avoid what Ms. Leist says is the second biggest de-cluttering mistake: getting distracted and tackling multiple projects at once, never making much headway in any. All this hand-


holding didn’t come cheap. Our organizers charged between $75 and $100 an hour (for a two-person team). We also ended up shelling out more money—one tester spent $400—for new storage items that our organizers recommended, but the experts we worked with were sensitive to our budget concerns. Two of our organizers came to our homes for an initial consult and then returned for the actual organizingan approach that seemed to yield the best results.

us an email with a shopping list of low-cost storage items to buy from the Container Store (A great place when you have a plan.) When she returned for four hours of actual organizing, Ms. Wiss had us take everything out of the closets and put items into four piles: one for trash, one for things we wanted to donate or sell, one for storage and one for items we’d keep in the apartment.

Anyone can call himself or herself a professional organizer, though those with the designation of “Certified Professional Organizer” have passed an exam and have a minimum of 1,250 to 1,500 hours of hands-on work with clients. All of the organizers we worked with belonged to NAPO (Organizers are searchable by zip code at napo. net.) We also checked references from previous clients.

She had a terrific solution for our biggest eyesore: the mounds of paper, books and other clutter that marred our beautiful six-footlong dining room table (and often barely left us enough room to fit two dinner plates.) She had us buy an attractive “in-box” for the day’s newspaper and mail and create a “project” shelf in one of our nearby bookcases to house the magazines we were saving to peruse later, travel books for an upcoming trip to Italy and novels we’re reading. “Clutter is just delayed decisionmaking,” she says. And the best part is that we’ve been able to maintain the systems she put in place: Weeks after her visit, we’re still clutter free … relatively.

In Brooklyn, we found Amanda Wiss of Urban Clarity through word of mouth. We wanted help with an entryway cluttered with shoes, coats, newspapers and baby gear and two front closets that were packed so tightly we could barely open the doors. After an initial consult, Ms. Wiss sent

‘Delayed Decision-Making’

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Home Blair Lifestyle HOME provides a seamless extension to the services you already enjoy at Blair Lifestyle. Our Domestic Assistants, Mandy and Roger have been working for our clients, including Adele (!) for a number of months and we are now happy to extend their services to our clients. Services included: • All domestic cleaning • Ironing • Washing • Spring Cleaning • Post-Party Cleaning • Exit Cleaning Their schedule is filling up fast so if you need your HOME to be professionally cared for, let us know.

www.blairlifestyle.com.au

PO Box 6144 Fairfield Gardens QLD 4103

FEATURE STORY In Los Angeles, we hired Regina Lark of A Clear Path to tackle a room in a four-bedroom house that does double duty as a home office and guest room. Ms. Lark, who has a doctorate in history, started off by asking, “What’s driving you crazy?” While she had us sorting through and purging the mounds of paper on and in our desks, Ms. Lark went through a closet stuffed with photo albums, stationery and office supplies. She had some novel ideas for how to deal with the deluge of memorabilia a family of four had acquired, including a poster the 13-year-old twins had made: Instead of letting it take up space in the closet, we should “take a picture of it and put it on your desk,” she says. She also recommended that we “Keep one thing that is representative of a time period, like a picture or letter,” instead of several mementos that will just collect dust and create clutter. In Manhattan, we wanted help setting up after a move to a new, bigger apartment. We settled on In Order to Succeed because the company specializes in relocations. When Robin Reid Hunt arrived for a four-hour session she toured our sevenroom apartment and immediately went to work making suggestions; adding hooks in the hallway for coats (so we could reform our prior habit of tossing coats on diningroom chairs) and a second rod for the closet in the children’s room to expand room for clothes. Then we tackled our biggest issue: the kids’ toys. Here is where we wish we’d had a consultation first—and the opportunity to buy some new storage items before Ms. Reid Hunt did the actual organizing. The organizer did dive in and help us purge and categorize toys, but we

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knew we needed to buy a new, bigger storage unit. We did end up buying something similar to what was recommended after our session, but by then we were on our own to do the final set up. In Atlanta, we needed serious help. A deep basement closet was packed with baby clothes, lamps, mounds of memorabilia from a decade living in Moscow, including nesting dolls and old newspapers, a mattress and even a papasan chair wedged up near the ceiling. Another closet was stuffed with files, luggage, pet food, cases of canned tomatoes and more old newspapers. We knew we had some serious editing to do. One of the best things about the company we hired, Chaos 2 Comfort, was that it recycles or donates purged items for you. Our two-person team was very sensitive to our feelings, suggesting we take a break when we felt overwhelmed and advising us to keep those items that had real sentimental value. In the end, we had five garbage bags full of clothes and toys for our organizers, Susan Fox and Teresa Taylor, to take to a local homeless shelter. But that night we panicked: In our zeal, we had accidently tossed the blue sweat suit one of the kids had lived in as a toddler—and we wanted it back. So we sheepishly called Ms. Taylor. Thankfully, the items hadn’t been donated yet.— Miriam Jordan, Betsy McKay and Judy Dixon contributed to this article. Write to Andrea Petersen at andrea. petersen@wsj.com and Jennifer Merritt at jennifer.merritt@wsj.com

Blair Lifestyle eMagazine July 2013  

Blair Lifestyle eMagazine July 2013