We could all take a lesson from America's most organized woman.
Deniece Schofield, an internationally known organization expert and author, used to live with her family's sprawling mess and endless clutter. But then she resolved to be more organized.
"It was born out of desperation," she recalled. "I wasn't born organized. I hit bottom after our third child. That was before organization had become a whole industry."
Schofield will be in the Sacramento area this week, sharing ways to get organized for life. She'll present two-hour workshops on Thursday in Roseville and Friday in Rancho Cordova.
With no products or systems available to aid her early attempts at organization, the then-Iowa mother developed her own strategy.
Eventually, her method grew into five books on home management. Woman's Day magazine dubbed Schofield "the most organized woman in America."
Now a grandmother with five adult children and living in Las Vegas, Schofield tours the country to coach others out of their clutter.
How did she get started?
"I made a list of all my problems," she said. "It filled two pages."
Methodically, she worked her way through the list, tackling one job at a time.
"The hardest part of getting started is that feeling of being overwhelmed," Schofield said. "It's paralyzing. It fills your head with worry. Everything on that list is in your head; you can't relax."
Before jumping into the to-do list, do some prioritizing, she says.
"Ask yourself, 'What's really bothering me the most?' " Schofield said. "Put a check by that item."
Also put checks by anything you wouldn't want a visitor to your home to see.
"And a big check mark next to anything contentious (between you and your spouse). The thing with the most check marks wins tackle it first. That project will give you the quickest feeling of accomplishment."
And enough momentum to keep going.
Also vital: Break projects down into doable parts.
"Plans can be very grandiose," Schofield said. "People want to organize the whole kitchen, but that's too big a task all at once. Do it shelf by shelf, drawer by drawer, one at a time.
"One thing people don't realize: Getting organized is very messy," she added. "You have to take everything out of the drawer before you put it back in. By taking one little step at a time, it limits the mess and makes the project go faster. Before you know it, the whole kitchen is done."
Don't expect perfect; just make progress, Schofield said.
"I tell myself every day, don't let an imperfect situation be an excuse to do nothing," she said. "The need for perfection can be paralyzing, too."
During her workshops, Schofield will focus on "finding more space without throwing everything away."
She'll also pay special attention to time-saving shortcuts and corralling "all those floating pieces of paper" such as receipts and records.
"Some people are too organized," she noted. "They take it too far and make their homes too rigid. Then, nobody is happy. Really, you just want to be good enough (at organization) that you feel comfortable. It's relaxing."
And you can find things.
GET ORGANIZED WITH DENIECE SCHOFIELD
Where: Orchid Suites, 130 N. Sunrise Ave., Roseville (Thursday); Holiday Inn, 11269 Point East Drive, Rancho Cordova (Friday)
When: 10 a.m. - noon and 7 - 9 p.m. both Thursday and Friday
Admission: $25 including handouts; no reservations required
Details: www.denieceschofield.com, (800) 835-8463
May is prime time for planting summer vegetables. Among the veggies you can plant now from seed: Lima and snap beans, carrots, chard, corn, cucumbers, melons, okra, pumpkins, soybeans, squash and watermelon.
Start setting out tomato transplants as well as seedling eggplants and peppers. The warmer the nights, the faster they'll grow.
In the flower garden, plant alyssum, aster, celosia, cleome, cosmos, four o'clocks, marigold, morning glory, periwinkle, rudbeckia, salvia, sunflower, verbena and zinnia.
Don't forget to water your seedlings and transplants. Irrigation is critical during these early stages.
Time to harvest, too. Bring in lettuce, cabbage, fava beans, peas, green onions and radishes.
Mulch around plants to control weeds and conserve moisture. Be sure to leave a small circle around the base of each plant to prevent rotting stems or trunks.
Watch out for snails and slugs. They'll gobble everything in sight. Go snail hunting with a flashlight an hour after dark. Hand-pick the critters and destroy.
For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.
Check for powdery mildew on grapes. If needed, spray with sulfur or potassium bicarbonate, available at nurseries.
Editor's Note: This story was updated at 11:12 a.m. Saturday, May 4, to provide complete times for the Get Organized With Deniece Schofield workshops. They will be 10 a.m. - noon, and 7 - 9 p.m. both Thursday and Friday. An earlier version of the story provided incomplete times for the workshops.