Sandra Felton considers herself a master of clutter, and has published 15 books that challenge readers to break the cycle of disarray and disorder.ALACHUA – Sandra Felton looked forward to walking out onto her front doorstep and seeing a newspaper lying there every Sunday. She didn’t read them, however. She stuffed them under her sink.
Hundreds of newspapers stacked up and threatened to tumble to the floor each time she opened the cabinet door. It wasn’t until the puddles appeared after a leak from her sink started spewing water on her floor that Felton realized she had a problem.
Felton, now known as the “Organizer Lady” and founder of Messies Anonymous, once dreaded inviting guests to her house because it was dominated by clutter. Her favorite items to collect were the newspapers tucked away under the sink.
“I felt the need to keep anything that was written on paper,” she said. “If the information wasn’t valuable today, it may have been valuable tomorrow.”
After remodeling the entire kitchen since it was drenched with water, she said she realized it was time to get back control of her life.
“I hated the way I lived,” she said. “It overcame my life. I had to get organized, and if I didn’t, I was going to keep living this miserable life.”
In the 80s, Felton took the initiative to seek support from others suffering from clutter. She put an ad in the paper, and a week later, 12 people went to her house in search of help. Week after week, the group shaped what would become the principles to Felton’s success.
Fifteen books and 26,205 online subscribers later, Felton now considers herself a master of clutter. She said the key principle to organization is motivation.
“People tolerate their situations year after year,” she said. “Once it bothers them enough, they can see there is a better way of life out there for them, and if they put in the work, they can get that.”
Her latest book, “Smart Office Organizing,” challenges readers to use that motivation to organize office space to increase productivity, she said. Mini quizzes, factoids and jokes keep the reader entertained while learning the art of organization.
Whether in the office or just managing the home, Felton said she believes “messies,” or those who are organizationally challenged, need support from those around them. She offers free daily coaching tips sent through email to give subscribers the motivation they need.
There are also 12 different groups offered on messies.com that meet different needs for those that want to fix the clutter in their lives, she said. Groups for singles, moms and those who want to follow 12 steps allow people to meet others who are in similar situations.
“What our groups aim for is average successful housekeeping,” she said. “We are not aiming for super clean perfection.”
Readers can attempt this goal when Felton has her newest project published next year. The book, tentatively called “From Clutter to Clean in Five Days,” encourages readers to clean all surfaces in a house, including tables, desks and floors, she said. Messies can use the help of friends and family members to clean the areas.
“This method looks good, and it works well,” she said.
Felton said she hopes to receive positive feedback from this book, just as she has in the past. In the 1980s, she received over 12,000 letters asking her for directions on how to improve cluttered situations. Letters of gratitude have been pouring in from Australia, Europe and the United States for decades, she said.
“I can reach people through my books, my web sites and emails every day,” she said. “I can tell people that this can be possible.”
Felton said she plans on expanding her influence when she holds a workshop to educate the people of Alachua County on how to clear clutter. She is currently in talks with local libraries to host these events in January.
For the time being though, she said she plans on helping messies around the world as she keeps her own life in order.
“My house is a different house now. My life is a different life now. I am a different person. Organization is the basis of which every aspect of my life works on now.”
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