About Melissa Schmalenberger

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The 90/90 Rule in Organizing

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on May 26, 2015 in Uncategorized |

Remember me, the rule follower? Well I have another good one for you to implement in your life; the 90/90 rule. This is another rule that I learned from The Minimalists when I heard them speak in LA at my annual organizers’ conference. For my clients to learn to shed excess items they need little nuggets to stick in their brain, kind of like an ear worm. The last organizing ear worm I gave was the 20/20 rule and it worked. I was stopped in coffee shops and told by readers that they have items ready to be donated. Well I think I love the 90/90 rule more than the 20/20 rule.


The rule is simple, If you have not used an item in the last 90 days and you do not plan on using it in the next 90 days, get rid of it. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Well it can be if you let go of all the preconceived notions that you have going on in your head.


Why this 90/90 rule works? I use to tell people that in the upper Midwest we have seasonal clothes and you really need to wait a full 9 months to see what you wear. I am no longer a believer in that. Truth be told, you may see me wear a maxi dress in the winter with boots and a sweater. The more organized my closet becomes the less seasonal I am.


Before I purchase items I look at pieces and see if they can be year round clothing. I must admit I am not a snowflake sweater wearing type of girl, so you wont find those types of clothes in my closet. But you will find many neutral cardigan type sweaters that I wear daily, even on cool summer days.


But I know that even my closet has things in it that I have not worn in 90 days and I am not sure if I will wear in another 90 days, unless I magically lose that 20 pounds.


A good way to chronicle what you wear in the 90 days is the good old fashioned hanger trick. Whenever I describe this trick people all sigh like they had a light bulb moment. Simply take all your clothes that are hanging up and turn the hangers so they are facing backwards on the rod. Here is a hint, if your clothes are dusty just pull those clothes out now!


Where else can you use the 90/90 rule?


Jewelry: Not sure what you wear? Purchase a jewelry organizer and as you wear the items put it away in the organizer. This will help you really determine what you are wearing on a daily basis. Try to remember what you wore in the last 90 days and put those items in there as well. After your 90 days is up, time to get rid of the excess.


Cooking items: For bigger items in your kitchen I like to put post it notes with the date on it. So I would write the date 90 days from now on the notes and place them on the kitchen items I have not used in the past 90 days. I now have 90 days to use this item or guess what? It goes in the donation box. If you didn’t use that gingerbread house mold last Christmas and you know you aren’t going to use it this holiday season, donate it now. True story, I had one and now I don’t.


Things you dust: Walk around and really “see” your items that you dust. Do you even see them anymore or have they become mindless tchotchkes taking up space. Walk around your house and really notice what you have on display. On the main floor of my house I now only display things that bring me joy. Seeing my husband’s patent cubes signifying the 10 patents he has makes me smile.


Things hanging on the walls:  Walk around your home and “see” what you have hanging on your walls. Do you even notice what is there? Do you have a collage of mismatched photos? Or how about a hodgepodge of random prints?  I now hang things on my wall because they make sense to me, not just to fill a space.  Ask yourself the question, would I buy this again? Look at your walls for the next 90 days and really see and appreciate what you have hanging on them. If you find yourself in 90 days not enjoying what is on the walls, then time to donate.


As I am a fan of The Minimalists and I think you would be a fan too I want to make you aware of a stop they are making in Fargo on May 30, 11:00 location is the Fargo Theater. You can see a viewing of the documentary they have been working on and they will be having a Q and A session as well.


To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,


MS. Simplicity


Serving the Fargo-Moorhead area as well as North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. Also seeking new representatives for Clever Container in all areas of the country.

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What If?

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on May 19, 2015 in Family, life |

When I work with my client’s I find my time with them a learning experience for me and hopefully for them. But really it is about me. A few weeks ago I worked with a stage 4 breast cancer survivor and I learned so much about grace and dignity. This week my client was a person […]

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When You Have More Than a Junk Drawer

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on May 12, 2015 in Family, life |

While conversing with the gentleman on the plane seated next to me last week he recognized me and we began the discussion of his concern of his parents being possible hoarders. He read my article on hoarding and it reminded him of his parents. He described them as not having a junk drawer, but rather […]

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The 20/20 Rule of Stuff

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on May 5, 2015 in life, Moms |

I am a rule follower and a rule breaker. None of this middle of the road for me! I am either all in or all out! So give me a rule to follow that resonates with my heart and I will run with it. When I heard the Minimalists speak at a conference I attended in […]

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Do You Love It Enough To Dust It?

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on April 29, 2015 in Family, life, Moms |

Spring cleaning is in the air and I have the measuring stick to prove it, more and more people are coming up to me and telling me that they are sick of all the clutter in their homes and are ready for action. As I was leaving a coffee shop last week someone came up […]

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From Hoarding To Hope : A Book Review

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on April 21, 2015 in Family, life |

I just returned from a three day intense NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) conference in Los Angeles where I was surrounded by the best and brightest in the industry. For many years I was the only member of NAPO in the state of North Dakota which forced me to make connections with other organizers […]

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Top Travel Tips

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on April 14, 2015 in life, money |

If you know me personally, you know that I love to travel. I am frugal with my travels and try to look for good deals wherever I go. I look at ways to maximize my travel budget and my time. Because of this I have been able to take some fantastic trips for less money […]

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5 Things That Can Leave Your Home Now

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on April 7, 2015 in Family, life, Moms |

When people start the process of organizing they are overwhelmed. This time of year the pressure is even more as the weather turns nicer and we feel the need to spring clean. Most people simply don’t know where to start. The trick is to start and the organizing bug will bite you and you will keep going! […]

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Laundry Tips

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on March 31, 2015 in Family, life, Moms |

If I had to pick one household chore to do I would always choose laundry. It is a task that I can stay on top of and it feels good to put everything away. I started doing my laundry at a young age, and my kids are all of the age that they can do […]

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We Are Family

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on March 24, 2015 in Family, life, Moms |

We are only as strong as our weakest member. This saying is used in business and in coaching, but I think it can be used for our family as well. I have seen my role as a mother to not only comfort my children when they are suffering and to give them strength when they […]

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