39 Transcript: Easy Organizing for Your Lifestyle (with Jane Stoller)

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JR: You're listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, episode number 39.

JS: If you have something, does it bring you joy? And if not, why do you have it? So it really makes you think about your stuff in a different way, and especially for North America, we’re such a consumerist society, we’re always I was buying, buying, buying, but if you really sit down and say, “Okay, does this item bring me joy? And if it doesn't, why do I have it?”

Intro: Welcome to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, stories of vibrant women living happy lives. And now, your host, Jen Riday.

JR: Hey there, welcome to Vibrant Happy Women, I'm Dr. Jen Riday, and I'm so glad you're here. So it's December 5th and this means it's the holidays, it's upon us, and we have only 3 weeks or even less until Christmas. This probably makes your heart begin to race a little bit, to beat a little faster as you think about all that you need to do, all that you need to prepare and mail and wrap and cook. But take a deep breath, truly take a deep breath, and think about how do you want to feel this holiday season? I've been talking about this. Well, this week and next, I'm offering a free live online training for women who want to learn 7 easy steps to create more free time. And this is going to be so beautiful and so amazing for you, not only this month, but as you shift into 2017, you want to start noticing and creating a life that matches how you want to feel and not just constantly be doing. At some point you burn up… burn out on that, don't you? You want to feel a certain way, you want these connected relationships with your spouse and your kids and you don't want to constantly be doing and cleaning and vacuuming and laundry and all of that stuff because, after a while, you start to think it's really pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of things. We want more time for the things we love, our loved ones, the things we're passionate about, our talents, maybe some new talent we want to develop or something we've always wanted to try. Well, I'm here to tell you that, even if you're a busy, busy mom or a busy working woman or a working mom whatever the case may be, you can find time for more of the things that you love. I can testify of this because I have 6 kids and I'm doing something I love right now.

A year ago, maybe 2 years ago (I'm losing track), I was in a yoga class relaxing on my yoga mat during a savasana pose at the end of yoga class, and the thought came to me clearly, “You need to be a life coach,” and I did it; I jumped in and I have loved this journey. Doing something I love has filled my soul with so much joy. My kids can look at me and see, “Wow, mom is so much happier. She's doing stuff she loves, she's making a difference, and she seems so much more fun to be around.” And they might not say all those words, but they know that I love this and they know I'm happier. So what's that thing for you? How are you going to make time for it? Well, I'm offering a free class this week and next; it's an online training called ‘Seven easy steps to create more time for the things you love’ and there's a bonus, ‘How do you get your spouse and kids to be more responsible at home’. So this is a lesser-known trick that I have, but as I have let go of control of all the housework and the way things need to be cooked or the way things need to happen, my spouse and kids have stepped up; it is magical. And you might be skeptical and think, “Oh, that's not going to work for me,” well, join me in this free online training and I'll teach you my secret of getting my spouse and kids to do more so that I have more time for those passions, for doing my podcast, for example; I love this. Alright, you deserve this. You don't need to be the slave of your household or your life or these tasks; it's time to follow your passions. So join me in this free class; it's, again, on Thursday or there are multiple times. You can sign up by going to jenriday.com/jenclass (1 word; j e n c l a s s) or you can text the phrase ‘Jen class’ to the number 44222. I hope to see you in the class.

Well, let's talk more about our episodes. So last week, I spoke with Jill Savage. She shared amazing stuff about having compassion at home with our loved ones, and that can be so hard because they can push our buttons like nobody else. But she offered some great advice, be sure to go back to listen to that if you haven't already, especially if you want to have more love and compassion at home. Today, I'll be talking with Jane Stoller all about getting organized. I love when she shared in this episode how we need to look at all the things we own or all the things we do and think about what brings us joy and then let go of the things that don't. And this touches on what I was just talking about, let go of those things that are… that are a form of drudgery for you and start focusing on your passions; the things that fill you up. So we will jump into this episode, Jane has some great things to say, and I hope you love it as much as I did.

Hey there, Jen Riday here, and welcome to today's episode of Vibrant Happy Women. I'll be talking with Jane Stoller today, and Jane is from Canada and has been in Zurich, Switzerland for the last 2-and-a-half years. Jane's passion is to help women organize their lives and she helps with everything from closets to offices. Jane's the author of ‘Organizing for Your Lifestyle’. Her mantra is, “Organizing is a lifestyle, but it isn't a one size fits all. Incorporating organizing into your life shouldn't ultimately involve changing who you are, but rather maximizing who you are.” Welcome to the show, Jane.

JS: Thank you, happy to be here.

JR: So we love starting off with a quote and I can't wait to hear what you're going to share with us today.

JS: Well, I chose one kind of… this has been my favorite quote, it's kind of fitting because it's an American podcast, but this is by Benjamin Franklin and, “For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.”

JR: Ooh. So how does that apply in your life? Give us some concrete examples.

JS: Well, just like in the beginning, I said organizing isn't a one-size-fits-all, but I do say that organizing means you don't have to think about it all the time and that you should do it automatically as a part of your everyday routine. So let's say 10 minutes every day or at the end or beginning of every day you organize a few things, that can actually save you hours the next day or the next week. So it applies organically as a part of your life.

JR: Nice, “For every minute spent organizing, an hour’s earned,” that's a good one. So let's go to your low point and… and hear what you learned and how that led to writing this book, ‘Organizing for Your Lifestyle’.

JS: Good question. Actually, there was a time in… in my life, I’d just broken up with my boyfriend at the time, I had left a job or I'd say career because of him. So it was a time when I was struggling to find, let's say, a new job, I was, you know, in a new city, I had to really make… make a new life. And for the first time, I felt disorganized. I didn't have, let's say, the life plan, my… even my house, you could… it was a reflection of disorganization; my closet wasn't as organized as it was in… in the past and that really affected me. And actually, in the, book I mentioned the first chapter is all about kind of the science behind organizing, and I talked a lot about the stress that this organization can bring and I quote a few medical journals and also books. And one book that a good friend had given me, ‘Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers’, it's an interesting title, but I read that and it really made me think, “Okay, what in my life is making me kind of unhappy at the moment?” after all these things even, but there's something else, and it was being disorganized both in my goal-setting and also everything around me was disorganized. So that really hit me hard and I said, “Okay, this is the time when I'm going to pick up, reorganize, first, my house and my… everything I can see around me, and then set life goals again,” which I had done in the past which had really given me kind of that, let's say, organized brain to move forward.

JR: So how did that look? I mean, where did you start when you have so much organization to do in your life? How do you even begin? What's step one?

JS: Well, for me, my passion is really organizing closets. So, for me, I naturally started with reorganizing my closet. And whenever I'm in kind of a low point, that's what I do; I organize my own and then sometimes, I have lots of friends that love it when I come to do theirs. So that gives me kind of a feeling I've accomplished something. So I actually started with reorganizing my closet, getting rid of a few things that I didn't, you know, wear anymore, getting some outfits that really made me feel good and putting them front and center. And that was kind of the start for me to say, “Okay, my closet’s organized, next… next step, my house, next step, my working space so I can actually say, ‘Okay, now I can start working towards writing down some goals.’” So, for me, starting small and doing what you like.

JR: Mm, start where you like. Starting with the closets reminded me of a quote I heard, I won't quote it correctly, but it was essentially a friend of mine said, “Whenever I got depressed, my mom said, ‘Go clean out your drawers.’” (Laughs). So…

JS: That’s a very good quote.

JR: Yes, it’s great.

JS: I like it.

JR: (Laughs). So you hit that low point and you started organizing your life, organizing your closets first, how did that kind of mushroom and change your life? What did you learn from that experience?

JS: Yeah, good question. I learned that almost, first and foremost, when you're at a low point, you really have to reflect back and say, “Okay, I'm at this low point, what am I going to do to get out of it? What's going to make me happier?” And for myself, that was really ensuring that I get back to my passion which is organizing; which, as funny as it sounds, when I'm organized, I'm my happiest. So, for me, I would say reflect back and really go back and dig deep in yourself and what makes you the happiest.

JR: Okay, so for you, it's being organized. So you got your closets done and then you started, what happened next?

JS: All throughout my life, I've kind of fielded a steady stream of questions from a lot of my friends and requests to help them get organized. So at that point after I had begun organizing my life again, a lot of my friends said, “Oh, Jane, can you help me organize my closet? Oh, can you help me reorganize my filing system at work?” So at that time when I was in-between careers, I had more time, I helped a lot of friends out, and then I eventually got a new job again, so I got busier. And that I had friends in, you know, different parts of the country even saying, “Oh, Jane, like what how do you..? How did you organize your blouses again to make it look like that?” So I… I kept getting all these requests and I thought, “Okay, well, I… I want to help all of my friends, but I physically can't be there to do it all the time.” So that's where the idea of the book came and that was, again, putting my passion on paper which was, for me, a very exciting thing.

JR: So tell us more about the book how its organized and… and what we could learn from reading it.

JS: Sure. Well, it's organized very meticulously, of course.


JS: But it's kind of a broad… I say it's more of a female audience, but again, it's… it's not really, because the first chapter is actually called ‘The Science behind Organization and Stress’. So it really gets into… you know, it even quotes medical journals as I had mentioned, but it really gets down to kind of the motivation to get you organized. So it goes from everything to ‘Being organized can help you stay healthier’ to, ‘How to buy less’ and ‘Being organized can help you stay focused’; so those are the different kind of chapter titles. I then go into kind of a quiz as well to help everyone understand they're organizing style and determine where they're at, and then ask everyone to write down a few goals they have that this book might help them or a few goals they have with regards to organization that they can reflect on after the book. And then the book really goes into the nitty-gritty. So, again, my passion was closeted organizing; that's the first real organizing chapter. And then it goes into your bathroom with a special section for sobering up your toiletries; which I know we can all do. And then it goes into the kitchen, the travel section which is actually one of the largest sections because I'm… I've traveled a lot, both for work and pleasure; so it's being organized is so important when traveling. And then a chapter on books in the storage room, and then a conclusion where I really asked readers to reflect back on their goals and now make some quick tips and actions on how they're going to use these kind of tips to… to reach their organizing goals.

JR: I love that. And so it sounds amazing and… and you get your house organized, you get your life organized. What advice do you have for people to stay organized?

JS: Yeah, it's a very good question actually because, if you have a perfect organizing system, sustaining that is the most important part, otherwise there's no point in even getting organized. So that's where I say, “Make it your lifestyle, but don't think about it all the time; make it a routine.” So whether it's 10 minutes at the end of every day where, if you have a family, let's say, you and your kids say, “Okay, it's a 10 minutes organizing time,” or something that can become a routine will help create that organizing system; help you maintain it. Also, I mentioned, make it for your lifestyle, like my mantra. You know, I say, “I'd love to have my blouses organized by color and, you know, perfectly spaced,” but if you're constantly searching for in size sleeve lengths or different brands, then why not organize them by sleeve length? Even though it might not look as nice, it's going to be the more practical solution. So, again, make it fit for your lifestyle.

JR: I love this. Well, I would love if you'd be able to give us a day in the life of Jane and kind of pointing out how you would stay organized; what a day in your life looks like.

JS: Perfect. Well, actually, my day starts the night before. So, in my book, I also mentioned kind of planning and, for myself, that means planning my outfit for the next day and my meals. So I make sure that when I wake up in the morning, whether I'm working out first thing in the morning or whether I'm going to the office or on the weekend, I have my outfit planned so there's no last-minute stress of looking for what to wear or whatnot. So I think that really helps you start off on the right foot. And if you start off on that right foot, the rest of the day, I find, usually flows pretty smoothly. And, again, I do have a… let's say, I micromanage my calendar. I always ensure that I have all my workouts scheduled, I have travel time, I have meetings and appointments booked, and I have prep time for those meetings. So, for myself, when I opened my calendar in the morning, I see, “Okay, yeah, I booked time to travel to that meeting and I've also booked time to prepare for that meeting.” So, for myself, I'd say starting off on the right foot,

having your calendar organized so you know where you are, and then if something were to happen (which it always does), you're ready for that and you can adapt to that change. Yeah, and then, again, at night time, I always reflect a bit and probably do a little bit of organizing every day; I put my clothes back where they're supposed to and prepare for the next day.

JR: Wow, that's great. And would you say… do you use a paper calendar or a digital calendar when you're planning?

JS: You know, I was always a fan of the paper calendars for a long time, and now with just my job and… and whatnot, we all have to have calendars to show where we are and if we're busy or free. So I've really adapted to the… just a Google Calendar and I find that really easy to navigate, and you can make things different colors and it… and I always have my iPhone with me so now, I'm totally digital.

JR: Oh, that's great; that's great. Well, so if someone's really struggling with organization of all types, what advice would you give them?

JS: yeah, that's a very good question. And like anything, I would actually say seek help, whether it be a friend or a mentor or there's profession organizers all over in the United States and Canada, is actually a professional organizers Association. So depends on the level of severity, but if you really don't know where to start and, you know, you've… maybe you've read some books and you don't know… you just can't get that first step, I would ask someone to help; and, even having a friend over just to say, “Could you help me clean out my closet? Like, I need help, you know, getting rid of stuff or understanding where to put things,” that can be the jump start that you need.

JR: Yeah, just having the hand-holding is so helpful sometimes.

JS: Yeah. And we do it for a lot of professions, you do reach out to different professionals for lots of things, interior design or whatnot; so organizing, I don't think should be any different.

JR: That's true, yeah; good point. Well, so what's exciting you about life today, aside from your amazing book?

JS: You know, helping people get organized. And I know it sounds cliché, but even today, my boss is like, “Oh, I need to… my screen is so disorganized, can you help me, you know, make it a bit more efficient size?” I was like, “Sure.” Little things like that quite excite me, just helping… helping people everyday and making their lives more efficient.

JR: Well, I love how you're following your passion and doing what really brings you joy. And that alone is a great message for our listeners, we all have something that excites us; and I can tell, you love organizing, Jane (Laughs). So let's move into your favorite things, what is a favorite habit that contributes to your success?

JS: A lot of habits, and I… of course, I would say, yes, being organized is one of them, but getting to that point is really, for myself, a habit now is really… I mentioned it before, but having that calendar and planning really those… if you put in the next 2 weeks, you look at your calendar and you can see your gym session scheduled, you can see when you're commuting, you can see… have that overview, I think really helps to kind of visualize your next week or 2. And that's a habit that it's kind of helped me in the last… especially the last few years when I've had gotten very busy.

JR: Okay. And a favorite easy meal.

JS: That's a good one. I'm not the best cook, but I do like to make kind of a Swiss meal, it's called Rösti, and it's similar to hash browns in… in the States. So it's lots of carbs, but I… you know, on a winter day or whatnot when you need that; really similar to hash browns, but they make it into a pie form.

JR: Mm-hmm.

JS: And I learned that from my mom and that's probably my favorite side dish to make, and it's quite easy.

JR: So do you have a recipe you could share with us?

JS: Yes, I do. I actually have a recipe and it's a traditional Swiss recipe, so I would love to share that.

JR: Yes, great. We'll have that on our show notes page at jenriday.com/39. Now, you said Rösti so how do you spell it? Just curious.

JS: Yeah, it's R o and then it has 2 dots over the ‘o’…

JR: Mm-hmm.

JS: …s t i.

JR: s t I; r o s t i, yummy. And a favorite kitchen gadget.

JS: That would be my juice maker.

JR: Hmm.

JS: Because I don't like wasting food and I like to be organized and have lots of fruits and vegetables, but there comes the time, let's say, I have to travel and I can't eat them all, so making juice or with leftovers I think is phenomenal.

JR: So you may choose vegetables and fruits together or different… separately? What's your favorite way?

JS: It depends. Sometimes, I like to use, you know, different books that give you juices in there for, you know, if you're looking for energy or what not. But sometimes really, whatever I have is leftover and don't want to waste, it goes into the juicer.

JR: Okay, great. Favorite book.

JS: You know, I have a lot of favorite books, especially about organizing, but one that I really… I mentioned in my book as well is by Marie Kondō.

JR: Mm-hmm.

JS: And she's a Japanese kind of decluttering guru and she's gotten quite popular right now, and her book is called ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’. And why I like it is because it asks you what you find joy in, whether it's… and she's referring to your stuff. So she says, “If you have something, does it bring you joy? And if not, why do you have it?” So it really makes you think about your stuff in a different way, and especially for North America , we’re such a consumerist Society, we’re always buying, buying, buying, but if you really sit down and say, “Okay, does this item bring me joy? And if it doesn't, why do I have it?” So it's a good reflection book to help get people decluttering.

JR: ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ by Marie Kondō; great.

JS: Mm-hmm.

JR: Thank you. Best advice you've ever received.

JS: “Don't sweat the small stuff.” (Laughs)

JR: Mm.

JS: Mm-hm. And even if, you know, your… you can't organize today, don't sweat it. (Laughs)

JR: Perfect. Yeah, that's great advice for those with kids because, as soon as you have it organized, it's torn apart within minutes often times. (Laughs)

JS: Yeah, I can imagine.

JR: So, yep, you just do the best you can. And, everyone, you can find links to what Jane and I have been chatting about by going to the show notes page at jenriday.com/37. And now, Jane, my favorite part of the show, your happiness formula.

JS: So that's being with my family, being healthy and exercising, and of course, being organized.

JR: Ah, being organized. I don't think I've had that one yet, but it makes perfect sense. We become so unhappy when we're not organized because it's chaos and everything's flying at us from every direction.

JS: Mm-hmm.

JR: Okay. Well, thank you so much for being on the show. And, again, our listeners can find links to your recipe and your book at jenriday.com/37. Well, I love our guests to give our listeners a parting challenge and then tell us where they can find you.

JS: Yes, I was waiting for this part actually. Because, for my challenge, I'd like to challenge everybody listening to kind of write down 3 organizing goals, and I think that'll really help everybody start their organizing challenge. It can be small goals like organize every day or perhaps larger ones like create an organizing system; whatever it is, write down 3 small organizing goals.

JR: Okay, I'll tell you one of mine; I'm going to clean out my silverware drawer. (Laughs)

JS: Ah! Yeah, it makes me excited already.


JR: Well, thank you so much for being on the show, Jane.

JS: Thank you.

JR: Take care.

JS: Thank you, bye-bye.

JR: After my interview with Jane, I thought about what she said that we should let go of the objects and possessions that don't bring us joy. Well, I want to challenge you to apply this just a little further and let go of the activities or tasks that don't bring you joy or at least to reduced them. Remember, I'm offering this free online masterclass about how I've learned to let go of the things that don't bring me joy and give more responsibility to my spouse and kids without feeling guilty. Join me for the class by going to jenriday.com/jenclass, (j e n c l a s s, all one word; jenriday.com/jenclass) or texting the phrase ‘Jen class’ to the number 44222. I can't wait to see you there. Ladies, you are amazing, I'm so glad you're here and that you want to live a happier and more productive and fulfilling life. Make it an amazing week, I send you my love, and take care.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast at www.jenriday.com.