Organize Now: Organization Tips To Manage Clutter Out Of Your Life with Jennifer Ford Berry

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TBT 69 | Jennifer Ford Berry


How do you get rid of the clutter and stay organized? For Jennifer Ford Berry, organizational expert, bestselling author, and host of The 29-Minute Mom podcast, time is everything. She gives organizational tips and advice on the best way to break free from the clutter and explains why staying organized is a struggle for most people. She elaborates on the effects of procrastination and the correlation of being organized to stewardship. Learn the importance of managing your time wisely and living an intentional life so you can get your life organized now!

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Organize Now: Organization Tips To Manage Clutter Out Of Your Life with Jennifer Ford Berry

I am excited to talk about getting rid of the clutter because I have to admit we’re a productivity expert, but I have the same challenges and struggles as everyone else. Clutter is something that I’m committed to doing my cleaning. We have Jennifer Ford Berry with us and I’m super excited. She is an organizational expert, a bestselling author and the host of The 29 Minute Mom Podcast. She’s a national speaker and a promoter of God’s plan. Her book series include Organize Now! A Week-by-Week Guide to Simplify Your Space and Your Life, Organize Now! Your Money, Business & Career, Organize Now! Think and Live Clutter-Free, Organize Now! 12-Month Home & Activity Planner and Purpose Over Possessions. That’s super exciting. More books and more revisions and we’ll talk about that. We’ll let you introduce the rest of that. Welcome.
Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Organize Now! covers every part of our lives. I want to ask you about you too, but this is on my mind. Why is staying organized such a challenge and struggle for many people?
If I had to narrow it down to one answer, I would say too much stuff. We do have too much stuff. I like to say everything you own takes up some amount of STEM, which is your Space, Time, Energy and Money. The more things you add into your life, the more space, time, energy and money you’re giving to it, and the less you have left for yourself. That’s where we get super overwhelmed.
Are you super freakishly organized? How did you come into this Organize Now! theme and passion?
Procrastination is the easy way out. If you want to have a better life, there are things you have to do in order to achieve it. Share on X I went to college and I thought I wanted to work in advertising and marketing in Corporate America. After I was in that realm for a few years, I became a mom. After that happened, I was in this place where I wasn’t excited to wake up every single day and do the daily grind. I was like, “If I’m going to do this for 30-plus years, I’ve got to have a little bit more passion for it.” I started to ask myself, “What am I passionate about the most?” I went through this whole book called Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow.
It kept asking me questions that made me look internally and figure out what my gifts were. What made me excited? I realized I was totally into organizing since I was about five years old. I would go to my grandmother’s house and ask her if I could organize her jewelry, her medicine cabinet, her drawers, anything and she would let me. I loved organizing my room. My parents never told me to do it. I could see space clearly and I thought rearranging it, to be more efficient was super fun. That’s when I decided to make it a business.
Isn’t it cool how our gifts do show up at a young age? It’s a matter of whether we’re listening or not. What I love is you’re great at that and someone else is not great at that. They need what you have. When they say it takes a village not just to raise your kids, but it takes a village to be the best person that we can be. We have our skill set, and we are complemented by each other with each other’s skill sets.
Everybody has their gifts. Until I became a professional organizer, I didn’t realize that other people didn’t think organizing was fun. I didn’t know people struggled with it. It’s something you either are good at automatically when you’re born or you learn how to do it like anything else. My goal is to teach the people I work with how to learn how to organize their life in a way that brings them more joy and peace. That they can enjoy their space more, not feel stressed out at home, not feel overwhelmed, but feel peace and joy when they get there. Be able to use that extra energy and the extra time to do something that will give back to others. It’s a full circle teaching for me.

What are some important clutter tips for the cleaners that are getting ready to clear out all that stuff?
My biggest pieces of advice are simple. Number one, you want to go space by space, and you want to break that space down into a small area you can handle. Maybe for example you decide, “I’m going to start with my kitchen. I’m going to get my kitchen cleaned,” but you don’t have four hours to spend on a Saturday to do your kitchen. You want to break it down even more. To say, “Now, I’m going to do kitchen cupboards,” or even, “Now, I’m going to do three kitchen cupboards.” Don’t cut corners. The top to the bottom, sideways and back, clean it out. This is the second part. Ask yourself for everything that’s in there, “Do I love this? Do I use this?” Those are the two questions I tell everybody to ask. You’re either going to keep something because you love it and it makes you happy, or you’re going to keep something because you use it. It might not be your favorite thing in the world, maybe you wish you had something better, but you use it a lot. Those are the two main questions to ask yourself.
I want to relate and that’s why you’ve got books that talk about in our mindset and about money and different things because clutter and the approach to clutter are applicable everywhere. These strategies are important. When we talk about time management or anything that people feel overwhelmed in attacking, the first thing they’re going to do is procrastinate because they’re going to go, “I can’t clean this kitchen. It takes too long.” That concept of breaking it down as simple as it is, is important and key to keep people from getting overwhelmed and procrastinating. Somebody who automatically goes into that procrastination mode or overwhelmed mode, how do you get them to focus on that? We forget about those things at the moment.
Procrastination is the easy way out. If you want to have a better life, there are things you have to do in order to achieve it. You might not always like those tasks. The better thing to do is stop wasting your thoughts, your time and your energy going over and over in your mind how much you don’t want to do something. Put it on the calendar, set a timer and get it done. You don’t realize the procrastinating part of your brain takes away energy that you could be using for something else. If you are okay with a timer that you set, say for example you have 30 minutes. The trick is, especially with women, when that timer goes off you have to be okay with what you accomplished in 30 minutes. If your brain immediately goes to what you didn’t do, you’ve already beaten yourself down. You’re not going to do it. Put on some music, light a candle, make it fun. Think about all the calories you’re burning. Get it done. You’re going to feel so much better after you do it that it’s not worth procrastinating. It’s not worth it.
Even if people walk away with this one thing is to set that timer, break it down and go through room by room and piece by piece. What else does it cost them? They can understand they’re avoiding pain, but the pain is greater if they continue to procrastinate it.
Clutter costs us so much. Besides the fact it costs you money, space and all those things.
How does it cost us money? Tell me about that. They’re going, “That doesn’t cost me any money.”
Time is the one thing we are all given equally. Share on X For one, you will go out and buy something you already have because you don’t know you have it or you can’t find it. When you don’t have like things together which is part of organizing, the two rules of organizing are everything you own needs a home and like things together. For example, let’s say gift bags. If you have gift bags stored in five different nooks and crannies of your home. It comes time to wrap a gift for somebody, and you don’t have the right size bag because it’s not in this location, you have no idea it’s over here in this location. What do you do? You’re in a hurry, you run to the store, you buy a new one.
It happens with many things. I can’t tell you how many times I help people get organized and they have found cash, they have found checks. They have found things, gift cards. People waste so much money on gift cards and gift certificates that expire because they don’t know where they are. I could go on about the money part. The other thing you’re wasting is energy. If you were to stare at a little cluttered area in your home for a few minutes and take note of how it’s making you feel, I guarantee you’re feeling inadequate, embarrassed, ashamed, annoyed, tired, overwhelmed. You tidy it up, you get rid of things and now it’s focusing on a couple of things you love. Your energy boosts way up, you feel better about yourself internally. It’s psychological. I don’t even think people realize the gift you’re giving yourself by getting your home organized.
They don’t and that’s why I wanted you to go into it because it’s easy to tell ourselves that excuse, that, “It’s fine.” All the things we tolerate in our life, it’s just another example of tolerating things that pull us down.
Mediocracy. It’s within our power to do this action to make our home a better place for our entire family, not just us. If you’re talking about time to get a schedule down that is going to make you the most productive and efficient you can be. It’s worth it. You’re not living your best life if you’re not taking care of these things. One of the things I love to talk about, I’m passionate about is stewardship. I feel when you don’t take care of the home you’ve been given, you don’t make the most of the time you’ve been given, then you’re not a good steward. That usually gets people’s attention. Why should we be blessed with more if we’re not taking care of what we have already?
Talk more about that because then I go, “That’s interesting.” What does that mean not being a good steward?

I can see it in many ways. One thing I hear a lot about women and I’m going to use this as one example. How many times have you in your head, grumbled and complained about doing laundry at your house? You go in, do the laundry and you’re like, “It’s like I’m on stage. It never ends.” We don’t love doing it. It’s annoying. We’d rather be reading a book or taking a walk outside. If you backtrack, did you not possibly pray for those children that you have to wash clothes for and your spouse that you have to wash clothes for? Those clothes you wanted at the store at some point, you couldn’t wait to put them in the car, you couldn’t wait to bring them home and put them in your closet. You were excited. You have these things you purposely chose, you purposely asked for, now you’re complaining about it. You’re griping about it. You’re dreading it. You brought that into your world. You specifically did it. I’ve done it.
To keep myself aware of not doing it, I have this little sign in my laundry room that says, “Another day in paradise.” I want to be conscious of the fact that, first of all, I’m lucky I even have a washer and dryer. That’s a huge blessing in itself. We have to be careful not to complain and gripe about things we asked for. Stewardship, I hear people say, “I’m going to save that for when I have a bigger house. When we have a bigger house, we’re going to have room for those things and this and that.” I’m always like, “Why are you living in the someday and the maybe of a bigger house? Why should you own a bigger home if you are having trouble maintaining the one you currently have?” Sometimes it’s tough love, but it’s true.
I talk about this as well in terms of the attitude and how we show up for our time makes all the difference. It doesn’t matter whether you’re doing the laundry or you’re making dinner, you’re working at your desk, you’re working with a client, whatever it is. How you show up matters. Energy is contagious. If you’re working with someone else, you’re setting the example for your family based on how you keep the house. All of that is super important. I love what you’re saying, another day in paradise or be grateful for what the cause is behind it. You’re doing laundry because people that you love to take care of and that’s a way to nurture and take care of your family is by doing their laundry. I never even thought about that. I never complain about doing the laundry. That’s not a big deal. You throw it in. The folding is another thing, but that all depends on whether you do that. I let everybody do their own folding. That’s called delegation. That’s also good time management.
Do you know how many times I’ve heard people say, “I don’t know how to do this organizing stuff because nobody taught me how to do it?” A lot of times I’d be looking. They grew up in a disorganized home and that’s why they don’t know how to do it. Nobody taught them that. That’s why it’s so important to teach kids the skills of time management and the skills of organizing, just as much as it is to teach them how to read, write and ride a bike. As a parent, if you don’t give them those skills, someday you have to realize it’s going to add more stress to your life. Who wants to have their kids stressed out and overwhelmed?
Where else are they going to learn it? It’s not something they learn at school. They’ve got to learn it at home. How do you define time management and productivity as an organizer?
Your to-do list does not end until you die. Share on X I think tasks like stuff, needs a home. That home is on my schedule. I have to be the owner of that time because otherwise, somebody else is going to steal it from me. Something else or someone else is going to steal it from me. Time is the one thing we are all given equally. It doesn’t matter how rich, how poor, how thin, where you live, who your parents are, nothing matters. It evens out the playing field. It defines what life you’re going to live by how you use your time and what’s taking up your time. It’s all about being intentional. The things we can accomplish if we’re intentional in our time are amazing. Time to me is about being intentional. It’s about giving tasks a home and it’s about enjoying where I’m at, not always having to worry. Everybody has this long to-do list. That’s another thing we complain about. We hate the to-do list, but let’s be grateful because as long as we’re living, we have a to-do list. Your to-do list does not end until you die. The sooner we can say, “We’re not going to finish it now,” but whatever we can accomplish, you have to be okay with that. Time management for me is everything. I would not be where I am now if I didn’t know how to organize my time.
I like how you related it to the principles of organizing, that every task has its place and that’s on your calendar. The whole idea of being intentional is because we’re in such an impulsive society. What do you think is going to support people in being more intentional in their lives?
I think you have to know your why. You’re not going to be intentional if you don’t know why you’re doing it. You’re not going to guard your time if you don’t have a why. For example, time goes in seasons especially business owners. I’m in a season of finishing my book. That takes up a lot of time. I have to guard at that time. The reason why I’m okay with that, the reason why I’m okay with saying yes or no to certain things is it doesn’t align with my why. This season of my life isn’t about finishing a book. It’s also about launching a non-profit, a conference. It’s putting something out there that is a different way of doing organization. I know my why and why I’m going to spend my efforts, my time and energy, all these things on this, I’m okay with guarding my time.
When you know your why, you know. Here’s an example. Say your why is, “I want to lose twenty pounds by June.” We’re going to make time in your schedule to go to the gym to workout. You’re going to make time for meal planning because you know that goal is part of your main priority. That makes it more motivating to do it. If I asked you, “Do you want to go to Dairy Queen and eat some hot fudge sundaes with me?” You probably aren’t going to have scheduled a time to do that because of your main goal and your main why.
You have to stay connected to why it’s important, so you are putting it in your calendar and reserving time for it. I always tell people why there’s such a thing as date night. It’s not like you need to be reminded that you need to spend time with your spouse, but if you don’t schedule it, it doesn’t happen. The ultimate consequence can be the cost of your relationship if you’re not intentional and conscious about it. I like that concept of seasons of time. Where I’m going with this is around balance. I know a lot of entrepreneurs love to work and they have these goals they’re working towards and strong whys. They do work and put in tremendous numbers of hours. I have gotten criticized for not being balanced. I wanted to talk to you about your feeling about balance and also about how that relates to the seasons of time.

When you say balance, I immediately always have a visual of a pie chart. Each of those pieces of the pie has a color. This is how I make my to-do lists. They have a color. In order for me to be balanced, I have to be taking care of my business, I have to be taking care of my health. I have to be taking care of my spiritual well-being. I have to be taking care of my family. I have to have time for me. That’s basically the pieces of my pie. When I look at my schedule and I am missing a color. This is an example to make this more real for people. Health is green on my calendar. If I see no green, that means I’m not working out. I’m not in my devotional in the morning. I’m not going for walks. I’m not doing anything for the inside. I’m not filling my tank. Balance is for me touching all those colors or all those pieces of the pie chart every single week.
That’s the key. It’s a week’s perspective, not a day. People feel like it’s shoved everything into one day. I’m also a believer in that. It’s over the week you get that balance, not over one day.
There are days where I don’t have time to do my devotional in the morning or I don’t have time to work out. My kids travel for sports. We have a tournament. I know I give a lot of that time to that, but then there will be another day where I have to work longer hours. I don’t feel guilty because I know I took care of my family within the week. That’s how I feel balanced. You have to know yourself to know what you need to feel balanced and what you need to live your best life. It’s super important for me to have time with my girlfriends. They fill me up. It’s a big part of who I am. My love language is quality time. I know that about myself, but some other people don’t need that. You have to know yourself to know when you’re out of balance.
Thank you. We have gone through many great topics. Tell us how we can get ahold of you. You talked about a book coming out, you talked about an event that you’re having. Tell us about that information so people can connect with you further in that context.
Based on the conversation of time management, when you’re talking about getting your life organized, you always have to break it down into small baby steps. You can’t do your whole life in one weekend. I’ve written a series of books called Organize Now!. They’ve been out for many years and this 2019, we are revising the whole entire series. Organize Now! is the new cover followed up by volumes two and three. I’m also launching a conference which is taking place in Charlotte on June 28th and 29th called the Created Order Organizing Conference. I want to offer our readers, if they go to my website, and you’ll see some links to the top and under Ministry, there is a link to the Created Order Conference.
The kind of life you're going to live by is defined by how you use your time. Share on X The purpose of the conference, we have an amazing lineup of speakers and I want people that are feeling overwhelmed to realize they don’t have to feel like that anymore. This is an event that not only are we going to help you recognize what is cluttering your life, but we’re also going to help you eliminate it. We’re going to teach you how to get organized and then show you that with that new space, time, energy and money, you can start living your purpose. I believe and I’m sure you agree that when you live on purpose, life is much more fun and exciting. There’s nothing like it. I want everyone to leave there feeling fired up about their life and stop being a slave to all of your possessions. Be living in an intentional way. Hopefully, they’ll come down to Charlotte and check it out.
You better check that out. Jennifer, thank you so much. For all of you reading, make sure you check those out.
Thanks for having me. It was fun.
This is Take Back Time. We’ll see you in the next episode.

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About Jennifer Ford Berry

Jennifer was previously the regular organizing expert on the TV show: Wingit It, Buffalo Style. Jennifer has been a guest on numerous television and radio shows. She has also been featured in many national magazines and newspapers. She is an animated speaker who has presented to the Learning Annex, corporations, churches, national conferences, mom groups, and school districts.
Jennifer is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL. She currently resides in Western New York where she continues to work hands-on with her clients helping them to eliminate clutter and live their dreams.

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