Clean up your act, already.

Fall on Martha’s Vineyard…time to fish, hike, and change out your gear after another whirlwind summer has passed. Beach bags get packed away in favor of backpacks, and guest linens are exchanged for favorite flannels as the house guests dwindle. In town, meanwhile, the cool October air finds business owners bobbing in a sea of paperwork and left-over inventory.

Isn’t there an easier way to bridge the seasons than all this shuffling, searching, and shoving? Enter Kim D’Arcy, member of the National Association of Professional Organizers. She’s the owner of Organize MV, a three-year-old company offering customized solutions to keep things calm in the office, home, and rental property.

“Organization is a learned skill,” says D’Arcy, who has worked on- and off-Island with schools, businesses, and families. Her mission is as much about developing strategy as it is about product, with the goal that clients will be empowered to keep going beyond the big “aha moment” when their kitchen suddenly appears magazine worthy. “Working side by side with people lets me learn about them and see if we can establish new organizational patterns that will work for them.”

In her process, she works with clients to get through what she believes are the three major challenges to being organized: “Too much stuff, not enough time, and not enough knowledge or skills.”

After losing everything she owned in a house fire in 2009, D’Arcy was forced to look at her own possessions in a new way. “I’m not a minimalist. But I know why something is important. Aside from my grandfather’s trunk he traveled the world with…most of it was just stuff.”

Not that she recommends organization by fire as a strategy for others. Combing through personal items can be difficult on many levels. And as the mother of four young children, she knows how deeply sentimental some items can be. But not all clutter is equal: “Look at your ‘someday’ clutter – your knitting you might learn one day. ‘Memory clutter’ – a T-shirt from that concert fifteen years ago. ‘Everyday clutter’ – magazines, thank you cards. Understand why you’re holding onto these things,” she says.

As the days shorten, many folks feel the urge to tackle their long-standing indoor projects, but D’Arcy recommends starting small. With a closet, for instance, not a spare bedroom or, heaven forbid, a basement or a garage. Also consider one of her favorite tools: clear hanging shoe pockets. “Not just for shoes!” she exclaims. Her clients use them for craft supplies, cosmetics, cleaning products, and even Barbie dolls and accessories. Another favorite item is the clear shoe box, which is especially handy for playrooms.

But be prepared. “Stuff almost always causes anxiety,” says D’Arcy. “The emotional relief people experience at the end of a project is real.”

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