Introducing Jessica Duquette:
Janice: Hi Jessica, I am thrilled to have you joining our team here at “5 Minutes for Mom”.
We are honored to have you Tackling with us and so grateful for the help you will be bringing us with your monthly column.
Jessica: Hi Janice, I am thrilled as well to be answering organizing questions for your readers! I just want to warn them, though, that I tell it like I see it, so if you ask, be prepared to hear something that might shift you out of your comfort zone (that’s a good thing, in my book!)
Janice: Jessica, when did you start organizing and why are you are so passionate about it?
Jessica: As I mention in my bio on my blog , one of my earliest memories is of my mother, an amazing homemaker, on the floor alongside the housekeeper, scrubbing vigorously to make sure anyone could perform brain surgery on any surface in her house.
My father, on the other hand, was—and still is to this day—let’s just call it “organizationally challenged”, leaving a trail of socks, paperwork and keys in his wake wherever he goes.
Clearly, the influences of my parents combined with my own natural instincts have created the foundation for my life’s work, professional organizing.
The reason I am so passionate about what I do is that I have the deep honor of witnessing people’s journey to freedom. We laugh, we cry, we get mad, we let go and we get free. *sigh*, what a beautiful journey!
It’s not about your stuff, it’s about your choices and your commitment to being a responsible person in every way.
Janice: Most of us with cluttered lives don’t want to be living in a mess. In fact, we are often desperate to get out.
What do you believe is the main roadblock that is trapping people in chaos?
Jessica: I feel that for most people the roadblock is multi-dimensional, but there are two main issues at hand.
First, a deep fear of what you will discover hiding beneath the clutter—those unconfronted emotions that keep you stuck, usually a combination of rage, resentment and grief.
The second issue holding you back is feeling unsupported and overwhelmed, not knowing where to begin. We are social creatures and we need the support and guidance of others to tackle the difficult and unpleasant tasks in life, but often we are too proud to ask for help!
Janice: So what is the first step in tackling our clutter?
Jessica: I honestly believe the first step is putting a support system in place and then asking yourself the hard questions: What is my clutter saying to me? Who am I resentful toward? What am I grieving? Until you can answer these questions honestly, you can clean up the mess, but it will always—ALWAYS return. That’s because it’s not about your stuff!
(You can write the answers out, talk them over with a friend or just allow yourself to really feel the response that comes up from within.)
Janice: What is the best hint you can give us as we approach tackling one of these big catch alls in our life?
Jessica: Most people have at least one hotspot, and that is what I call the FFS, the first flat surface in their house when they walk in the door. I encourage my clients to be playful and once they have cleaned off the space, think of it as “hot lava”, you just CAN’T put anything there or it will burn up. Kids love this and delight in pointing out to you that you’ve put your stuff in HOT LAVA!
The best way to clean out anything is to get prepared with grocery bags or empty boxes, clear out the entire space, whether it’s a closet, drawer, garage or cabinet, and then make decisions about every item that goes back in the space.
Use the question “do I LOVE it?” to decide if you should keep something or not. Keep like items with like (all the towels, all the coffee-making supplies, all the coats) together, keep things nearest their point of use (the coffee cups near the coffee maker, the wooden spoons near the stove, the toothpaste in the top drawer, etc) and the things you use the most should be in the most accessible place, the least used items in the harder to reach places, such as upper or bottom shelves.
All the best and I am on your team!
Janice: Thank you so much Jessica for sharing with us and for offering to contribute to “5 Minutes for Mom” with this exciting new column Ask the Organizer.