Decluttering and spring cleaning

Decluttering and spring cleaning

Tired of that mess in the attic, the basement, the garage, or even your entire home? Moving to a new place and vowing to be neat and organized this time? Making the transition to assisted living or generally downsizing with no room for all those piles of “I don’t even know what most of this stuff is or how it got here?”

Sometimes organizing, whether it be because you’re working on spring cleaning or just watched Netflix’s show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” Kim Hayes, of Trout Run and owner of Organizing by Kim, can help with the clutter that’s standing in the way of the lifestyle you really want to live.

Nature and nurture

For Hayes, being neat and organized is a combination of nature and nurture.

As a baby she had respiratory issues. The doctor said she would do best in an environment that was as dust-free as possible.

“My mother took that very seriously,” Hayes remembers. “She vacuumed several times a week and cleaned thoroughly once a week. Because dusting was a pain, we didn’t have a lot of things around. To this day I don’t have a lot of knickknacks or things like that.”

As a teenager, Hayes was too busy with schoolwork and activities at Williamsport Area High School to keep up with any inclination to be regularly neat and organized.

Hayes noted, “I would let my room get out of hand, but my mom never had to tell me to clean it.” She got to it when the mess drove her crazy. When the urge came, she cleaned top to bottom and rearranged the entire room. “I liked the feeling that gave me for about a week” until the process needed to be repeated.

While a student at Lycoming College, Hayes always kept her dorm room organized, she said. Prior to starting her business, she was organizing for fun.

Hayes looked around inside a friend’s garage and said “I’d love to organize this place.” “It took me three days, but I organized the whole thing, right down to the screws and nails in coffee tins”

The idea of Organizing by Kim began in 2015 when she quit her job and decided she wanted to be self employed, Hayes said.

“I sat down and made a list of things I’m good at and enjoy and that’s what I did,” she added.

Tips and tricks

Whether you are working with an organizer or have decided to tackle that mess of a basement yourself, Hayes has tips that will help you stay focused and successful.

Get into the right frame of mind before you start. Only you know when you’re ready and motivated to do the job, Hayes said. Organizing is a process – you didn’t accumulate all those things in one day, and you should not expect to reverse that in one day.

Keep the end goal in mind. The mess at hand is where you are now but the only direction to go is forward.

Partnered with a spouse or roommate who’s your opposite? Compromise with strategies that work for both of you.

The most important tip to remember though is to have a designated place for everything and put each item back where it belongs. Once you’re in the habit, you don’t waste time looking and searching for things.

“That’s how things stay neat,” Hayes emphasized. “It’s a mind-set shift that prevents the old habits from taking over again.”

Be kind to yourself as you shift your lifestyle to what you have always wanted it to be.


When it comes to downsizing, for example in the case of elderly parents moving into assisted living or nursing care, often the job is about mentoring and mediation, because the whole family is involved, Hayes said. With mom or dad accustomed to being in charge but now putting the transition into the hands of their adult children, there can be issues.

“It doesn’t always go well,” Hayes said. “That’s where I come in.”

“I am able to help them determine what is okay to keep and what is okay to let go. It’s a lot of reminding people that their possessions have served them well but now they can serve someone else, too,” she added.

Charlene Costa, who hired Hayes to handle her mother’s transition to assisted living a few years ago, noted the organizer kept in touch with the facility to ensure each selected item would have a place.

“That was a monumental job,” Costa said, considering her mother was 97 at the time, with 50 years of possessions that “meant something to her. “Growing up during the Depression, her mother, like many of that era, “didn’t want to get rid of anything,” her daughter added, praising Hayes’ patience in helping her mother “focus on bringing the most important things.”

“I make it so that if someone decides to downsize, and by extension wants to get organized, all they have to do is call me,” she said.

In any situation of downsizing, the process is challenging for everyone, Hayes stressed. “I have yet to work with someone who doesn’t cry because the process is emotional. It’s hard and I understand that.”


Hayes works with a variety of clients with different mind sets and needs.

“Some people just need a little guidance,” she said. Others might call to say “I’m moving and I want you to pack up all my stuff. You don’t have to organize it.”

For clients focused on decluttering and organizing only, the hardest part is making the first call,” she noted about inviting a stranger to see what for some people might be their darkest secret. “Once they call, I’m there for them,” she said. “We’re all human and I’m not judgemental.”

At the end of a day of organizing, Hayes hauls away the items to be donated for two reasons. If she didn’t take them away, “we wouldn’t feel we had made any progress,” she said of the psychology involved.

Demonstrating her deep understanding of the emotions behind letting things go, she also explained that if the boxes were left in the house the client may root through them and dig things out.

“That’s not what we want,” she stressed with a smile.