By Angeline Grenz | Photos by Phoco

Many of us are contemplating 2020 with a fresh start in mind, and organization of mind is sharpened when our environment can display the same orderliness. But, let’s face it, that is easier said than done.

Enter Morgan Tyree. Morgan’s profession is taking back time and decluttering lives. Obviously, she is drinking her own Kool-Aid. Tyree is a published writer, maintains a regular blog and podcast, and manages a busy home with three teenagers, all while running her business, Morganize with Me, a personal organization service. She offers up some practical tips to start you down the path of organization.

Q. What is your background?
A. I grew up around a family of entrepreneurs. My parents were small business owners in the custom home design/build business. As a young child, I was intrigued by floor plans, rearranging furniture and the world of design. In college, I pursued a degree in small business and entrepreneurship, and went on to work in the fields of marketing, management and human resources. However, my hope was always to run my own business. So, now working as a professional organizer and an author, I am living my dream!

Q. What do you like best about what you do?
A. I love the variety of work that I get to do, my client relationships and the opportunity to coach and problem solve with my clients. I consider it a privilege and an honor that my clients allow me into their personal spaces and trust me to walk with them through the organizing process. It can be a vulnerable and often stressful time. I do not take my role lightly and I am so grateful that others trust me to help them. Seeing their joy and sense of peace after we are done organizing is a wonderful feeling!

Q. Describe your typical week.
A. As an entrepreneur, author, fitness instructor and mom, I wear many hats and my weeks tend to vary. I generally time block my schedule as much as possible. I’m an early riser, so my morning hours are typically when I hit the gym or teach a fitness class. In a week, I will typically have three to six client organizing sessions. Then other blocks of my daily time are used for writing, podcasting, emailing, marketing and organizing. As a small business owner, I do all things. Within smaller pockets of time, I run errands, meet a friend for coffee or schedule appointments. My late afternoons are generally when I put my mom hat on and run carpool, fold laundry, clean up the house, walk the dog, prep dinner, etc. I love the variety and flexibility of my job, but some days I do crave more predictability. It’s sort of like when you have straight hair, but you wish you had curly hair.

Q. Tell us about one challenging job you have had over the years.
A. Each and every client presents its own set of challenges and rewards. The reality is that so much of organization touches emotional places in the lives of my clients and I do my best to walk with them through these challenges. I suppose the most challenging job I have had is recognizing that there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” solution to organizing.

Q. Is your home really that
A. I think so. But I’m a pretty relaxed person. I’ve had many people tell me over the years that I’m calming. So, while yes, I prefer order and tidiness, I’m much more about making people feel comfortable, which I hope is what my home represents. I do have three teenagers, and, in my experience, teenagers are generally not very interested in organization. So, I will not confirm or deny that their bedrooms and/or bathrooms are organized! What’s most important, in my mind, is to have a mission of intentionality. Being organized (to me) means you are stewarding your time, money and resources well. And at the end of the day, that you can find what you need when you need it. Bliss!

Q. How do you stay on top of
A. Staying organized is a daily campaign. One of the best ways to maintain an organized home is to work on being intentional day in and day out. Three of my “simple rules” are: 1.) Set up systems. 2.) Put things back where they belong. 3.) Shop with a plan (only buy what you need).

Q. As we enter into 2020, many of us are thinking about organizing, simplifying and decluttering our homes and our lives. What is the single best thing a person can do to begin this process?
A. Prioritize. Choose one small project to begin with, then work start to finish. Do you need a solution for your paper? Is your laundry room overcrowded? Does your pantry need a good decluttering? It’s easy to get started and then to start zigzagging from one room or project to the next. And when this happens you keep starting fires rather than putting them out. Prioritize and commit to working on one project at a time, to completion. Setting up a new system, or a new normal, is the goal. Then, once one project is done, you can move on to the next.

Q. Then what?
A. Next steps: 1.) Plan for more time than you might think it will take you (maybe even double the estimated time). Generally, a maximum of four working hours at one time. (Most of us get emotionally and physically drained at around the four-hour mark.) 2.) Build in accountability. Who can help you? A friend or a spouse? Ask someone who will help you with making decisions and who will be honest with you about whether you should keep the pair of jeans that you haven’t worn in 10+ years or the collection of CDs that are collecting dust in your basement. 3.) “Check the box!” Meaning that within the four hours of organizing, allow for enough time to put things back into their homes, load up donations and tidy up the space you are working on. In other words, try to leave the project in a good place at the end of the four hours. It may not be completely done but try not to leave it in a complete mess.

Q. It seems that part of decluttering and organizing is knowing when to let go of “stuff,” yet for a variety of reasons (guilt, sentimentality), it is hard for many of us to actually get rid of all the junk. What are your suggestions to help us let go?
A. This is the complicated piece. We each have different values that we place on items. The best way to approach decision-making is to consider the bigger picture and remember that every single thing you own requires something of you (time, money, energy, space…). When going through the process, ask yourself what do you want the result to be? What is your desired outcome? And how you would like your space to ultimately function? If you find yourself unsure about certain items, create a holding bin and place those items that you aren’t ready to part with yet in the bin. Then set a reminder on your calendar to check back in six months and reevaluate. You don’t need to make decisions immediately, however, you should try to avoid staying stuck in indecision indefinitely.

Q. Is it worth trying to resale items, or do you recommend donating, sending to the landfill, etc.?
A. It can be worth your time to sell things, such as furniture or higher priced items. For lower priced items, it’s often not worth the time and energy. However, this is a personal decision and will be based on how much available time you have. In general, if you don’t have the time to sell it, then I say donate it! There are many local donation options available that would be happy to have your gently used items, and some will even pick them up from your home.

Q. What are your thoughts on a capsule wardrobe?
A. I believe in it 100 percent! I personally have a relaxed two-season (Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer) capsule wardrobe. Over the years, I’ve pared my closet down and I follow two rules: I must try things on when I shop, and I only shop from a list. These two rules save me from buying clothes that I won’t end up loving and wearing. We tend to wear 20 percent of our clothes 80 percent of the time, so invest in pieces you love and wear—basically, that’s what a capsule wardrobe is.

Q. Do you have a junk drawer in your kitchen?
A. What’s a junk drawer? I’m kidding. We have a small drawer with pens, notepads, Chapstick, tape, etc. But we don’t call it a “junk drawer.” My family has been known to write “DNTA” (do not throw away) on sticky notes on those items that they don’t want me to recycle or toss. In other words, junk doesn’t last long too long around our house!

Q. What are some organization tools you can’t live without?

A. 1.) Baskets and bins. I’m all about calming the chaos, and good containment does just that.
2.) My trusty label maker. Labels are game changers, no more guessing where things go.
3.) You can’t go wrong with a turn table. I use them in cabinets, pantries and fridges, or anywhere I can.