Aromas woman turns “simplifying” into full-time job.
by Dave Nordstrand
The Salinas Californian
Professional organizer Christy Best of Aromas flies to South Dakota next week to clear the clutter from an old family farmhouse.
Nothing in the house, not even bits of string, has been tossed for 100 years.
“This may be the mother of all jobs,” says Best, a pioneer in her field.
Since 1995, Best – she calls her business Clutterbug.net – has swept through, helping people in Monterey County and beyond get organized.
USA Today, Reader’s Digest, Good Housekeeping and the New York Times have interviewed her.
“Clutter is a national problem,” Best said. “Everybody has too much stuff.”
The effort to clear the floor is important. Clutter can reduce efficiency, increase stress and upset relationships.
Best has even noticed a clutter-depression link. “Many of my clients are highly intelligent people with beautiful homes,” she said.
“Yet they’ve manifested their depression in accumulating useless material items, filling their homes to the bursting point.”
“My function is to help people simplify their lives so they know where all things are at all times.”
Her clients – they include marketing businesses – make a list of places they can’t seem to clear on their own, and she goes after those first.
The most important thing to remember is that getting organized doesn’t happen all at once, Best tells her clients.
It’s more bit-by-bit.
Like losing weight, she said.
“Those items took years to accumulate. They’re not going to disappear overnight,” she said.
She works in five-hour segments and can make “a huge dent” in the first session.
In the 1950’s, when Best was growing up, the assembly line turned out far fewer goods than it does in 2004.
“We didn’t have the out-of-control consumption,” she said. “No computers. No faxes. No answering machines.”
Today, people have too many things, Best said. An industry has sprung up to deal with the result. Stores offer product lines aimed at getting people organized.
Best is a former editor. She developed her organizing skills getting a newspaper out on deadline. One day, she saw a TV special on the National Association of Professional Organizers and decided to get into the business.
Many clients have collected so much clutter that they can’t see the floor. One Salinas-area client had not thrown a newspaper away in 30 years. Another kept a tidy closet, but scattered 5000 CD’s about in other rooms.
“Only 10 percent of people I work with can fit a vehicle in the garage,” Best said.
Many of the items can be of use to others, so Best carries a long list of agencies accepting such goods.
The business of clearing clutter seems rooted in the consumer society. Best is always on a job or en route to one.
“I have a gruelling schedule,” she said.
Starter tips from Christy Best on how to create order out of chaos:
- Keep a donation box going.
“We keep bringing things in without getting things out,” Best said. “It’s simple math.”
- Deal with mail and paper daily.
“Don’t put it in a stack to deal with later because it never will happen,” she said.
- Avoid impulse buying.
Make sure you have a need for an item before you buy it.
- Consider intangible presents, especially during holidays and birthdays.
A trip, for example as opposed to “25 more toys on the floor,” Best said.
- Stored family memorabilia or archival paperwork should not be in the living or working space.
Ten years worth of tax returns do not belong on the coffee table.
- Remember, the garage is not a storage space.
Neither is the floor. “If an item doesn’t have a home, then you need to rethink having it,” Best said.