An Interview With Fay Wolf

You may remember my review of New Order by Fay Wolf earlier this year.  You can visit that post here if you want to check it out.  Fay is a creative professional organizer.  That seems like an oxymoron doesn’t it?  It’s surprising but some professional organizers find their ability to organize through creativity.  I love that Fay focuses on real life and real solutions, not simply following a predetermined formula.  I was lucky enough to get to chat with her recently…of course, I wanted to share it with you!

Fay Wolf Interview

Read our interview with professional organizer and author Fay Wolf, who helps everyone get organized. Click To Tweet

1.  A lot of people feel that they have to wait until the perfect time to get organized?  Is this true?

Nope. I encourage people to embrace imperfection and “just start.” There’s no perfect time or perfect way to do it. The most important thing is to take action and try. Small steps are key. 

New Order Jacket

2.  How long will getting organized take me?

Well, the truthful answer is: your whole life. I say that because I consider decluttering and organization to be a practice. It’s not one and done. It’s not all or nothing. Even after you’ve finished huge decluttering projects, it’s an ongoing process of continuing to allow breath and change within your space. You may buy something you love today that will need to be donated in three years. As for how long one should spend decluttering any given area, I believe that even 20 minutes can be fruitful. Yes, I want folks to complete their tasks and 2-4 hours is even better – especially with larger projects. But I would suggest focusing more on the process and on the feelings of relief that will inevitably come, rather than on the amount of time it will take.

3.  Do I have to buy special supplies to get organized?

Fay Wolf

Photo by Rebecca Sanabria

I say no. With physical organizing, I feel all that’s required is the creation of different sorting areas (“Donate”, “Recycle”, “Trash”, etc.). Usually that can be accomplished with Post-its and any bin, box, or bag you already have in the house. However, when sorting paper, I do think it’s much easier to have hanging file folders and a file box on hand.

4.  Is organizing expensive?

If you’re doing it yourself, organizing is free! If hiring a professional organizer, it may get pricey depending on your budget and how much work you’d like to do together. But it is a very worthwhile service if you’d like the expertise and accountability of a professional.

5.  Do you have a favorite filing system?

Any filing system that isn’t a horizontal pile! Seriously, though, any system where you can find and file the papers you need immediately is the best kind there is. Whatever works best for you, and that can be as simple as a file crate that’s under $10 and labeled folders for each category, with whatever file names make the most sense for you.

6.  How can I organize my mail?

Fay Wolf

Photo by Rebecca Sanabria

Step one is always getting rid of what you no longer need. So in the case of mail, that’s unsubscribing from catalogs and magazines that don’t serve you; and signing up for paperless billing. (As I say in New Order, going paperless on your bills may, as a result, mean that you also start a more trusted relationship with your email inbox. But that’s very possible, and I walk through those steps too.) Aside from receiving less mail, I suggest opening your mail each day and having one specific place it lands.

7.  Is digital clutter as important to organize as physical clutter?

These days it sure is. I don’t think one is more important than the other. They’re simply both two huge areas of clutter that most of us deal with on a daily basis. Again, my advice is to start with unsubscribing – both from email newsletters and from push notifications that pop up from all your various apps and social media platforms.

8.  How can I get my family to help me organize?

Well, if you have kids, you can force them do it. Just kidding…sort of. I do believe that decluttering and organization can be taught. Any practice can. Then, of course, it also helps if you practice what you preach and work on habits that prevent unnecessary stuff coming through the front door. When dealing with partners, I have found that unless the other person is readily on board, it’s tough to sway them without first doing some decluttering on your own. Leading by example is more powerful than forcing the issue with a spouse.

9.  How can I KEEP my home organized?

Moving forward, it’s about the small steps of practicing the work. We don’t realize that when we’re on the website about to click Buy on an item that we don’t truly need (or even want that much), that that’s the point where we’re creating the clutter. So the practice includes curbing the consumerism, as well as practices like putting regular items away each night, and choosing new homes for things as they come in. It’s like going to the gym. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.


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