Archive for ‘Jana’s Blog’ Category

Posted on: September 10th, 2016 by Jana Hartwell | No Comments

When Organizing Becomes Very Personal

On Aug. 26, 2015, my 90-year old father died of congestive heart failure. Six siblings and I found out about his death, two days later. We had just received a copy of his very first completed Will only five days before. I was named Executor. Organizing, for me, had just become very personal.

2015-06-03-18-51-37Survived by my father was his sweet, almost 89-yr-old wife of the past 33 years; I was also asked to become her Power of Attorney & Guardian. Our StepMom suffered from a recently broken pelvis, dementia and other chronic health problems. Just a week before my Dad died, she had also lost her last remaining sibling. Two years before that, her twin sister died; plus her brother-in-law (my father’s best friend) passed a few months before that! My StepMom was traumatized, fragile, vulnerable, alone and quite confused.

The past year, my life as I knew it changed dramatically. Instead of thoroughly enjoying my successful, full-time business helping others reduce clutter, get organized and be more productive, I focused almost solely on managing a very complicated probate situation.

Since my Dad and StepMom resided in Nashville, TN for the past 25 years, it was necessary for me (with sometimes another sibling) to fly back there at least six times within seven months in order to clear out their home. And yes… they had hoarding disorder! Tidy hoarders (except for one room, which had piles of clutter stacks on every surface and on the floor), but nevertheless, “savers”. Many vital documents were mixed with old Publisher’s Clearinghouse mailings, letters from family or friends, newsletters from various associations, boxes of receipts or bank statements dating back more than 30 years and many other random, sentimental items. Few of their papers were organized so when all was said and done, I must have sorted through over 200 full boxes of just papers. This excludes the many rooms of other household items to be classified and dealt with.

After clearing out their home, it had to be prepared for sale. Once their home was sold, a rental home in Florida needed to be cleared and sold as well. This home had been rented for the past 10 years by some Level 5 hoarders who also collected many animals. Imagine that mess along with thousands of fleas and roaches. The renters skipped town, leaving many of their furnishings, leaving us with a very expensive clean-out project.

Needless to say… for the past year, I have been quite busy with some very high-level organizing responsibilities. But not for you, my clients. For my family; my deceased father; my abandoned, now almost 90-yr-old StepMom. As a result, my business has been neglected, which means many of you have been neglected! For this I apologize and deeply regret.

My monthly writings to you have also been put on the back-burner. Many other things and people in my life have been pushed aside. Because of an intense focus on managing estate duties, even areas of my home had become neglected and yes, disorganized! Most importantly, I had neglected caring for myself as well as I should have, especially core physical fitness.

I’m writing you to confess. To let you know that I too, know what it is like to feel completely and utterly overwhelmed. To feel alone sometimes with my clutter (mental, emotional and physical). To walk into a room that beckons me to tend to the project there, turn around, walk away and sometimes even crawl into bed with fatigue caused by depression. These are real byproducts of grief.

Grief, depression and clutter are bedfellows. One often causes and/or accelerates the others. Sometimes it may feel you might never crawl out of the dark hole. But you will… If you reach out and ask for help. Admit that you cannot do it all alone, all the time. Admit that sometimes you just need another human (and God) to be your strength when you can’t find it within.

So get in touch with me, especially if you can relate to what I’ve written today. I’ve been there. I’m crawling out and can feel the warm sunshine on my hopeful face. And there is always hope.

My joy is in helping others, using the natural gifts and earned skills I possess. And I know that helping others is integral to my healing. For the benefit of us both, I invite you to invite me back into your space again. Or forward this to a friend you believe can benefit from some sensible organizing solutions.

Posted on: March 27th, 2016 by Jana Hartwell | No Comments

Due to Jana needing to manage over a year’s worth of family emergencies and become the Executor over her father’s estate, blog posts were placed on hold until matters are settled. Sometimes when raw life happens, we need to modify our priorities.   😉

Come back to this page in a few months for some updated tips, tricks and inspirations on how to organize your time, space and information.

Meanwhile, for a glimpse into Jana’s personal life, please read the following blog post.


Posted on: December 19th, 2014 by Jana Hartwell | No Comments

‘Twas just weeks before Christmas, when I looked ’round my house…

And feelings were stirring that I just couldn’t douse.
The clutter was piled up in mounds all around,
While piles, dust and overwhelm all did abound.

No visions of sugarplums danced in my head,
Just feelings of angst and confusion and dread.
The papers were piled on the table so high
“There’s no chance of mealtime,” I thought with a sigh.

Just thinking of guests that would come all too soon
Had made me panic and wish it was June.
Aackk! People are coming! Oh, where will they stay?
I must move this clutter. It’s all in the way.

I want to have family and friends to enjoy,BEFORE-Close up of Sete by Window
To entertain, decorate, bake and…oh, boy.
“I meant to get to it”, I heard myself whine,
But now it’s December and we’re down to the line.

I thought I could do it myself if I tried,
But it was too much and my brain felt so fried.
I needed some help and knew whom to call
A Professional Organizer who’s on the ball.

My organizer friend was so lively and quick
Before I knew it, we were ready for St. Nick!
She helped me to think in a rational way.
I still had some time; they’re not coming today.

She settled me down and said, “You’ll be alright.
Now take a deep breath and this clutter we’ll fight.
We’ll start in one room and just put things away
Stuff with no ‘home’ won’t be able to stay.”

2014-12-06 08.14.32We cleared and we sorted, we put things away
I was so glad I had not waited just one more day!
We purged and we sorted and made such a clatter
The donation bags got fatter and fatter.”

Soon tabletops showed up and floors all got clearedAFTER-Close up of Sete by Window
There’s so much more room now, it almost feels weird.
With Karen’s help I got so much more done,
She’s taught me the process, we even had fun.

I love it!  I said as I looked all around.
I couldn’t believe all the lost stuff I’d found!
I’d managed okay while the stuff was all lost
But realized I’d be fine if most just got tossed.

I could go on but I think I’ll stop here
And wish every one of you holiday cheer.
Oh, and by the way, if your shopping’s not done-
Choose gifts they’ll want, need or use up and you’ve all won!

Wishing you joy and peace inside of your home.
And so I’ll exclaim as I send my newsletter
Merry Christmas to all! Be a clutter go-getter!

All rights to this poem go to my New York NAPO colleague:
© 2014 Karen Sheesley

Jana Hartwell, CPO®
Sensible Organizing Solutions, Inc.
(858) 300-5757 or (619) 302-5254

SOS…    Helping smart, busy people make room for what they love best!

Posted on: December 19th, 2014 by Jana Hartwell | No Comments

Organizing for the Holidays

Fall is a great time to organize for the holidays. Stores are full of Halloween costumes and treats with some already setting up aisles of Christmas//Hannukah themes.

But wait… Don’t you already have rafters or storage closets full of holiday decorations from years’ past?  Most people I know have many bins (some even entire storage units) full.

Instead of giving into the temptation of purchasing new holiday decorations, why not save hundreds or thousands of dollars by shopping from your own supplies?  To make this more pleasurable, first do the following:

1) Gather all holiday items from every part of your home and/or storage areas into one space.
2) Remove everything from the boxes and bins.
3) Sort and Categorize items by holidays (e.g., Easter, 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah, New Year’s, etc.)
4) Evaluate everything to see what may need to be repaired, donated or tossed. this is also a great time to untangle lights, cords or other messes caused from last year’s rush to clean up.
5) Choose the best of the best to decorate your home with this year. Anything not being put on display can now be re-evaluated. Is it time to let it go?

This exercise will most likely take several hours and for some, several days!  😉

Make the process easier by inviting me in to do the sorting and categorizing part. Once all is nicely arranged, all you need do is shop from your own, well-organized holiday store!

Jana Hartwell, CPO®

Sensible Organizing Solutions, Inc.
(858) 300-5757 or (619) 302-5254
Helping smart, busy people make room for what they love best!

Posted on: September 2nd, 2014 by Jana Hartwell | No Comments

Before SOS

Before SOS-2001 Cluttered Office Floor

Do you have an insatiable need to constantly acquire an abundance of stuff? Perhaps you find yourself frequently shopping as a form of relaxation or distraction from hurt, anger, boredom or a feeling of lack.

Take a look around. Is your living room open and inviting with plenty of room on the sofa and chairs should you have guests? Or are toys, games, electronics, clothes, leftover food, kitchenware and other clutter usurping most of the furniture?

Are you floors and hallways filled with obstacles to trip over?

Are you kitchen counter-tops filled with paper and other items that have nothing to do with eating or preparing food?

Do you have trouble thinking straight because your office is too cluttered?  These are some of the many reasons smart, busy people like you call me for help.

Most of you have invited me out to help with one or more of the above mentioned situations. But perhaps we never finished the project or you have simply allowed old habits to slip back in.

Need another kick start?  No matter how bad the clutter has gotten since we last worked together, there is no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed. Priorities constantly shift and “life happens”. You will not be lectured or judged. My goal is to simply help you get back on track — wherever you are  — whenever you are ready. We all have setbacks.

Now isn’t this better?     After

The beginning of Fall is a good time to remove all of the excess from your path, your work-space, your home, your brain, your life!.

Jana Hartwell, CPO®
Certified Professional Organizer; Time Management & Productivity Consultant
President, Sensible Organizing Solutions, Inc. (SOS)
NAPO-San Diego Chapter President / 2012-14 and 2001-03
NAPO-SD Immediate Past President & Membership Director / 2014-15
Office/Fax:  619-334-8767
Mobile:  858-300-5757