Welcome to The Resilience Through Joy Show - Episode 001: Joy Through Decluttering, a conversation with Amanda Wiss, founder of Urban Clarity, a professional organizing company that helps busy New Yorkers get out from under the clutter, streamline their spaces, and maximize their lives.

For many parents, clutter is a big thing that ends up stealing joy as all the toys, gear and clothes quickly get out of control. Amanda shared with us some practical tips as well as mindset shifts that can help create less anxiety and more joy in your home. 

Amanda is also a mom of two so, towards the end of the show, we talked about how she finds joy through photography, and I answered some of her questions about organizing and decluttering your photos.

This live interview series is a little bit of an experiment, but approximately weekly I'll be chatting with different interesting people like Amanda about a variety of methods of finding resilience through joy no matter what's going on in your life or in the world. This is all about increasing your personal and professional impact without sacrificing yourself in the process. 

Don’t have time to listen?

Here are the key takeaways from our conversation:

From Amanda on decluttering:

Manage the outflow:

  • When you become a parent, there’s a huge amount of inflow of stuff that no one really tells you about, and it becomes your job, if possible, to manage the outflow - because if there’s only inflow, it quickly becomes overwhelming.
  • Knowing where the stages and segments of inflow are means you can be a little bit prepared for a surge of inflow, and ideally try to get rid of stuff in advance, for example, before a birthday, or as seasons change and kids outgrow clothes.
  • There are all sorts of creative ways you can make sure there is consistent flow - for example, you can set up a donation station, which could just be a bag in your kid’s closet, and even as young as four or five they can be involved in identifying the clothes that no longer fit them (subject to review by you of course).

Integrate small tasks into your everyday life:

  • As is one of the themes here at Photosanity too, you can integrate small tasks into your everyday life as it is hard to carve out a huge chunk of time. So, for example, you can go through your junk drawer while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil.
  • It can really help to do small micro-tasks that keep you abreast of things, such as opening your mail daily. It can help you feel better about how everything is going.

Where to get started:

  • If you’re feeling really overwhelmed, the entrance to your house is usually a good place to start, as there is a lot of inflow stuff that just lands there and then doesn’t go anywhere, but off-season items especially can get moved away to create a little more space.
  • Another good place to start is with a first pass of the toys, especially some of the bigger items that the kids are no longer playing with, or that are broken and not fixable. Or you might take a look in your linen closet and get rid of some sheets or towels or other bulky items you no longer need.

Getting the kids on board:

  • As far as getting the rest of the family on board and involved, kids tend to create a lot of chaos, but thrive on order, so even if it feels like they don’t care, it can actually make a really big difference for them in terms of how they’re even able to explore and play.
  • Kids tend to play with 20% of their toys, 80% of the time, so you really can be a little bit more minimal and experiment to see which toys they really gravitate to if you bring out a few specific toys.
  • Your job is not to be a school and have every single resource available to them that they need.
  • If you can create enough space for your kids to play, and enough “holes” where things can be put away, kids can participate in the clean-up (just like they do at school) and they can also participate in the decluttering.

Amanda asked Alethea what people should do about organizing all the photos they’re taking on their iPhone:

Organizing iPhone photos:

  • A super easy thing you can do if you have an iPhone is to make sure you have iCloud back-up and storage turned on so that your photos automatically upload to iCloud. 
  • If you select the option to "optimize iPhone storage” you will avoid the problem of running out of space on your phone and having to delete photos in order to take new ones. You will also have access to all your photos as thumbnails - when you select a photo, it will download it to your device, and when you’re done with it, it will compress it again, and you’ll go back to thumbnails.
  • Although I’m not a huge fan of the Photos app, if you’re just taking iPhone photos, that’s what I would use to access your photos from your computer or any of your devices, and your library is now in iCloud, so it syncs up to all your devices. 
  • Then what I recommend is using the “favorites” feature - and similar to the idea of decluttering during in between times such as waiting for the kettle to boil, you can just go through and “favorite” your photos during those kinds of times, and they automatically get put in a separate album for favorites.
  • People always ask me about deleting photos - if you want to delete the photos you don’t want, that’s fine, but it’s more work to delete, and as storage is so cheap these days, it’s not a necessary step.

Getting your photos off your devices:

  • Chatbooks is a great service that will literally pull photos from your favorites to automatically create photo books, and you can sign up for a subscription. It can also pull from your Instagram or Facebook feed. It makes the whole process of making a book seamless and easily integrated into your daily life.

Photography as daily gratitude practice:

  • The process of taking and reflecting on your photos is actually a great daily gratitude practice - at the end of the day it can be really easy to focus on what went wrong, but you can go back through your camera roll and also see the moments that went well.
  • I always say, look for the photos that don’t necessarily look the best but have the most meaning to you and evoke the emotions that you want to remember.
  • Use those photos to shift the narrative that you tell yourself about your own life - and also for your kids.
  • Amanda also mentioned how much she enjoys the “on this day” feature in Facebook where you get to see past photos and to get a boost that way by seeing favorite photos from the past pop up. Even if you’re not comfortable sharing photos on social media, you can create an album where you post photos just to yourself, or there’s also an app called Timehop that will pull from all your social media but also from Dropbox, Good Photos and iCloud.

To find out more about working with Amanda and the Urban Clarity team, visit http://urbanclarity.net. To find out more about Photosanity, join us for our upcoming free online challenge, 7 days to finding joy through photographing your kids (even if you're having the worst day) - it starts Monday July 31st!