SELF-HELP Seminar offers assistance to get organized

Start with something you can finish, then build on that success.
Deniece Schofield of Cedar Rapids, IA, wasn't always organized. She hit bottom after her third child (of five) was born. She had become so depressed and discouraged, she couldn't imagine going on like this.
"I knew I had to do something," said Schofield. "So I made a list of everything that needed to be done. It filled two notebook pages, and I felt overwhelmed. So I decided to work on just one thing. It was a slow process, and I had no self-discipline. I had to keep starting over, but I made myself do it."
Since that time, Schofield has organized her successes and techniques that work, and is now known as an expert in household organization. Two seminars this week will give people a glimpse of what she has learned.
"We will talk about finding more time and space without throwing things out," she said. "Many people have a hard time discarding things. I also show slides on ways to organize. Then I conclude with a section on managing time and paper. We all seem to have too much paperwork lying around."
Schofield stresses that there is no one special way to organize. "I present hundreds of ideas in the seminar," she said. "And that can be a springboard for other ideas. The important thing is that each person has a system that works for them."
Who's there
People who have read Schofield's books are often the ones interested in her seminars. But what if someone is really allergic to being organized?
"Those people usually don't come," she said. "Although sometimes husbands will send their wives. I once had a woman attend who was so angry because her husband made her come. She sat there with her arms folded, and left immediately after it was over. Her husband is the one who should have attended. And I have talked to some people that don't have a chance in their lives of ever being organized."
Schofield says that mostly women attend her seminars, young, old, even teen-agers, but some men, too (the record is five), and sometimes people come as couples. Schofield feels it is in the nature of women to organize the household.
So what's a good way to begin to get organized for spring and summer? Schofield's rule of thumb is to do it slowly, so you don't get discouraged or overwhelmed.
"Start with one room, like the kitchen or guest room," she said. "Pick one small thing that you can finish, like a drawer, or a small area, like the first two feet of a wall. Organizing is messy, so you need to set a goal. Tell yourself, 'I'm going to work on this for 30 minutes,' then after the time is up, stop. Don't let an imperfect situation be an excuse to do nothing."
Schofield says some people run out to Wal-Mart and buy loads of containers after her seminars, but that isn't the idea.
"The best thing to do is to see what you have laying around the house," she said. "Kitty litter pans make great slide-out trays. Ice cube bins can be used to organize extracts. Tackle boxes are also great for storage."
Schofield recommends reusing what you can, and is big on donating usable items that you don't need to charities, especially the Salvation Army, because they help Third World countries, and also to battered women's shelters, because they always need clothes.
In addition to lecturing, Schofield is the author of four books, and numerous articles for magazines such as Women's Day. Some of her corporate clients have been Procter and Gamble, Girl Scouts of America, and the IRS.
XShe will be at the Holiday Inn on South Avenue in Boardman on Wednesday for two seminars: 10 a.m.-noon and 7-9 p.m. No reservations needed; cost is $25 at the door. Schofield may be reached at (800) 835-8463,

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