Teleworking has taken Quebec by storm in recent months. Who says teleworking also says reorganization of a multitude of aspects of our daily life. For some it is going relatively well while for others it can be more problematic. We therefore spoke with Marie-Sophie Berruex, professional organizer, to guide us in this process.
Here is a summary of the interview:
Daniel: Marie-Sophie, you define yourself as a professional organizer, what does that mean?
Marie-Sophie: We help people to organize themselves and to declutter their space so that they are functional according to their needs. We therefore move to their home to allow them to regain control of their environment, thus facilitating their daily lives.
Daniel: What are the advantages for our well-being of better organizing and purifying our environment?
Marie-Sophie: We often talk about the mental load; consequence of having to think of everything. The more objects we have, the more things we have to manage, which adds a mental load. When we remove the superfluous, it allows us to focus on what is really important in our lives.
The minimalist lifestyle is often scary and people fear that I will leave their homes with all of their possession… when I am not. It's just figuring out what my needs are in the present moment.
If you like to play sports for example, it is quite legitimate to keep sports equipment since it brings you added value in your life.
The superfluous? It is energy, time and money that you spend on things that have no value to you and that will not bring meaning to your life.
Daniel: With the merger of the workspace at our home, how do we go about organizing ourselves properly in order to separate the two spaces separately?
Marie-Sophie: We are living in a special situation with the pandemic. We go out less so we are more confronted with the problems of the household.
The first trick is to take stock in order to know the needs of everyone in the house and then adapt the space. For example, some will need a closed room for their many meetings, etc.
I must remember that space is not static; we tend to want to freeze that when everything is rearranged if we devote a little time to it. The master bedroom does not have to be the largest bedroom in the house. Why not put the children there in order to recover a room to set up an office there, for example? It will always be possible to return to the initial configuration once the teleworking is finished.
For tight spaces, I really like working with verticality. The walls are full of spaces to organize, for example by installing folding shelves.
Daniel: We tend to keep things simply for the emotional bond attached to them; is it good to keep a memory box for example?
Marie-Sophie: There is nothing wrong with keeping some memories! The problem is when you have 25 boxes of photo albums / memories in the basement. We have to be rational.
There are 3 types of objects that cogitate in our lives:
- present: objects that we use all the time and with which we have the least emotional ties;
- past: objects that we keep because it brings us back to a moment, an emotion and it is very difficult to let go of it because the emotional bond is very strong;
- future: “just in case” objects that relate to an emotion of anxiety about an unpredictable future in order to be prepared for any eventuality.
Objects from the past and the future prevent us from anchoring ourselves in the present, which is why it is better to have as little as possible in our lives in order to avoid mental overload.
Daniel: What should a telecommuting space look like? What objects should I keep near, or far, etc?
Marie-Sophie: First of all, you have to assess the need. If you just need a computer, a small table does the trick. No need for your office to be a mini branch of a Wholesale Bureau; go with the bare minimum in order to be functional!
I like to apply a simple rule of thumb:
- What you use every day (a pencil for example), keep it close at hand;
- What you use less, keep it within arm's reach (you can stretch out your arm to find a die on a tablet, for example);
- What you don't use much, they say it's within easy reach, so you can get up to pick it up in another room.
Daniel: Do you have any advice related to cell phone use which can become invasive in our lives? How do we do to free ourselves from the grip of it?
Marie-Sophie: It's a very good question and it's very difficult at the moment because it is our only contact link with those around us.
Do you know the expression “far from the eyes, far from the heart”? It works very well on cellphones so keep it in another room, remove notifications and block certain apps. Know on the other hand that there are no magic recipes: you will need discipline to succeed in abandoning it.
Daniel: Is it possible that the most difficult step is taking action? How do we make the leap?
Marie-Sophie: Yes, absolutely! We must stop always wanting to find the perfect solution because it does not exist. There's a lot of trial and error as well so you can always re-evaluate and readjust.
It's a process (sometimes very long): one change at a time, one drawer at a time. Little by little, you will learn to declutter and organize yourself and you will feel a lot of well-being during the process. It's like sport: you don't start lifting the heaviest weights from the first day you step into a gym… you progress.
It doesn't matter if you start with this or that; the important thing is to start.
Daniel: Do you offer your consulting services? How it works ?
Marie-Sophie: I am still authorized to travel to people's homes but I also offer Visio conference consultations. I have a lot of interesting tools also on my website marieso.ca .
I am currently working, with various stakeholders, on a one-year program, My house, my landmark, in order to support people in their process of decluttering and reorganization by offering them a different theme per month.