Processing Your Awesome Ideas

April 18, 2024

As always I am floored with how incredibly insightful and kind you all are. Thank you ALL for your thoughts, (mildly) tough love, and honest opinions.

Some brief ideas I have had inspired by your notes and some adjacent text chats:

1- I need a deadline around the estate planning. We do have a lawyer and have paid (I think for 50% of the work?) already! The lawyer, who is also my friend, is a very nice person and does not bug us. But obviously that is not working. I just emailed her to ask her for a Zoom date, which took all of 30 seconds. I NEED THIS ON MY CALENDAR. Because while editing the document I mentioned is the first step, I do not think this editing will happen without a deadline.

(I am not going to delay basic travel planning until this is done, because . . . I know I’m already behind on that! BUT I will force Josh + me to do estate planning work on our marathon trip if we aren’t done by then and I’d really rather do other things, so that may be motivating enough to get a lot of this complete by the end of May. Someone mentioned going to various banks and moving funds to a trust and BLAHHHH that sounds like my worst nightmare, but I guess it is what it is. Other people seem to have managed to get this done and thus we can too.)

2- I really DO want to write a book. I am not deluded enough to think that I will be the next James Clear or that it would launch me into the upper echelon of Planning Thought Leaders, but I feel that I have a clear enough message and system to share (essentially based on the system + methods taught in BLPA – which I’ve now honed over multiple rounds) that could be a really cool addition to the cannon of productivity books out there, most of which are written by men and/or people with entirely flexible jobs.

I think that authoring a (GOOD!) book would bring more legitimacy to my work, I think I would love sharing more about my methods with the world in a different platform, and yes, I think it could be good for my overall business. I also have just always deeply wanted this! It’s on very old 100 Dreams lists of mine, along with having 3 kids, working part-time as a pediatric endocrinologist, and qualifying for the Boston Marathon. What can I say — I guess I hold on tight to some of my dreams.

a 2013 version. I no longer have any desire to “swim for real” but who knows, maybe it will return someday.
And I believe I can still break 22 min in the 5K even though I’m old.

I LOVE the idea of a retreat to focus solely on book proposal writing. I might use up some hotel points and do a local overnight thing (like Weds night –> Thursday), or even just take a full day somewhere. If I can be unavailable to be on vacation, I can be unavailable to do some concentrated writing.

3- I don’t think I can outsource organizing our home. I don’t think I’d have others on board, and I’m not really on board either because we don’t have the extraneous $ to responsibly cover it (ie I don’t want to lower our savings contributions to do this!). We could hire someone in the future if we forego a couple of vacations or something like that. But that option is not an appealing one to me when the kids have finally reached such great ages for travel and the years to do so are limited!

(Am I wrong in assuming this is like a five figure expense, if we’re talking about an entire home? I think I learned that from Organize 365, which makes sense as I would think it is many hours of specialized labor. And I’m assuming the homeowner still has to play some role, though I understand involving professionals makes it a lot easier.)

So . . . I guess then I probably just need to accept the reality that I am actively choosing experiences over an organized home right now. I’m also choosing marathon training over having the energy to do this myself. Could I at least do SOME OF IT myself? I don’t know. I still want to. I think I have to really really lower the bar and focus on some small problem areas and go from there.

I want to respond to all of your wise comments, and I eventually will! Thank you for giving me so much to think about.

I know! All this from a self-professed Upholder? I’ve taken that GR quiz like 5x, I have never gotten any other Tendency. But for some reason, my Obliger side seems to come out when something feels Big and Scary. Hmmm.


  • Reply Laura Kathleen Freyman April 18, 2024 at 5:37 pm

    I love reading your thoughts! re: outsourcing your home organization… would it be something a creative college student or someone just starting out in organization do at a much lower rate (or potentially for free) in exchange for the marketing and exposure? I work at a university and am always impressed by how capable and creative our students are, and how many of them have cool side hustles that could really benefit a lot of people. When I was just out of college I actually cleaned the house of a professor I knew. I wasn’t a professional cleaner by any means, nor did I desire to start a cleaning business, but just having one “client” was a nice boost to my young 20s budget and likely the slightly discounted price benefitted my busy professor friend. (I still recognize that finding said organizer is another lift that might not be worth your time or expense, just food for thought!)

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 21, 2024 at 2:32 pm

      Well, A is currently decluttering G’s room . . . so yes 🙂 I probably could go younger!! (We will see how much actually gets done, but I’m impressed that she’s giving it a shot!!!)

  • Reply Leneigh April 18, 2024 at 5:53 pm

    I thought I would share what has (sort of) working for me on the home front. Your home sounds like mine!

    I’m also a working professional, I work long hours, have a spouse who works full time and my two kids are the exact same age as your oldest two.

    I have managed (with some difficulty) to work on letting this go and giving myself a ton of grace in this area. I still work on small organizing and decluttering projects when I have the time and energy and we have a house cleaner every two weeks who helps with the general cleanliness.

    Otherwise I have focused on embracing that I am at a stage of life where I do not have the time and energy to devote to this to get my house anywhere even close to my ideal preference. Someday when the kids are grown and/ or I’m retired or semi retired I will have the time but for now I try to give myself grace and accept it.

    I do keep the house in a state where I can at least find things (most of the time) and trying to get my kids to be involved in keeping their spaces organized (with mixed results). My other focus has been to be intentional about not bringing more stuff into the house unless I really value it (and/ or I get rid of other stuff). Just generally having less stuff in the house makes the situation easier to handle.

    I feel like for me to invest the time (or money) to this at this stage of life would involve trade offs I’m not willing to make as I value devoting my time and money to other things more right now (travel, rest, fun family time).

    Anyway, for me spending a lot of time thinking about this and recognizing this is an intentional choice I’m making has made it easier.

    • Reply Emily April 19, 2024 at 7:04 am

      Here’s another perspective on the home organizing thing. It’s not really a project – there is no end point where it’s done. Ultimately it’s a totally uninspiring act of constant maintenance. I suspect on some level your brain knows this and resists working on it because it will never be complete, especially at this stage of life. It may be more helpful to find a few rituals or routines to keep the worst spots under better control, but this isn’t a finishable project. Give yourself some grace.

      I also don’t think an home organizer is the answer because they can’t maintain for you. And that’s the hard part of this right? Keeping up when life is moving fast.

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 21, 2024 at 2:33 pm

        Yep, the “continuous” nature is also why hiring doesn’t appeal to me all that much though I see the value of maybe having some more sustainable systems in place

  • Reply L. April 18, 2024 at 6:12 pm

    A friend books a hotel for her family for a weekend and during the day they have fun, then after the toddlers are in bed (in a connected room/suite), she and her husband do a couple hours of budgeting/estate planning/etc. I’ve considered doing something similar with planning and a nice dinner or something.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 21, 2024 at 2:34 pm

      yes we do this with planning type stuff just not the ESTATE planning part. but I think if we can’t get it done by our marathon trip in May that will be on our agenda. I’d like to avoid so that’s motivation!!!

  • Reply Rachel April 18, 2024 at 7:23 pm

    The biggest thing for me in having a tidy home is just not buying anything unless it had a clear spot in the home, like I’ve always purged clothes every season for clothes that don’t fit or are worn, regularly donate kids toys or books they don’t play with, get rid of all paper the day it comes home (unless I want to save). I tackle one closet at a time and once it’s like that, I make sure nit to buy things to change it. I’m not saying this works for everyone but we’ve been in this home for 2 years and my kids are 5 and 7 and it works great for us.

    Also, can you ask your nanny to take a stab at this with three piles atleast for kids rooms i.e. keep, trash, and donate?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 21, 2024 at 2:35 pm

      I probably should ask her to give it a try. She really has trouble letting go of things in our house even more than I do!! But maybe if I asked for one small area to be sorted daily it could happen . . .

  • Reply Kay April 18, 2024 at 7:45 pm

    I’m in Australia, and I cant imagine an organizer costing that much. So i googled and reddit indicates between $60-$100 an hour in the US. Could a house take more than 5 days and cost more than $4000 (even that seems like alot to me)? Alternatively we are pretty minimalist, but at some point i can’t handle the chaos anymore and i spend all weekend sorting and cleaning, it sounds like you are nearly at that point. So it might all just get done one weekend, once you have truly had enough.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 21, 2024 at 2:36 pm

      Hmm that sounds much more reasonable than what I read before. (I guess question is also – do you have to BE with them the whole time helping decide what needs to be kept?). But you’re right maybe I overestimated the cost.

  • Reply Lizzy April 18, 2024 at 8:11 pm

    Hi! Long time reader and estate planning attorney here. I always tells my clients to not let perfect be the enemy of good here.

    The tax landscape and your assets and wishes will change over time. This (unfortunately) is not a one time process. You will need to revisit it in the future. Don’t obsess over crafting the “perfect” plan. Just put down some people, ages, etc and be happy it’s done. It’s more important to have “some” plan in place rather than a perfect one.

    • Reply Coree April 19, 2024 at 5:49 am

      Yes, definitely. I feel like “Do my kids have a clear guardian? And are there funds to support everything that we would support as parents?” is the minimum, and anything else is a bonus.

    • Reply Lisa’s Yarns April 19, 2024 at 7:28 am

      Great insight! That is the approach we have taken. We have opted not to get a trust at this point. We probably will in the near future but when we crafted our will when I was pregnant with my first, we decided to start with a will and could then set up a trust in the future. SHU – I’d love if you guys had an estate lawyer on the podcast!!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 21, 2024 at 2:36 pm

      thank you!!! Such a good thing to keep in mind as it takes the pressure off.

  • Reply Brenda Earle Stokes April 19, 2024 at 6:17 am

    I have decluttered our home by probably 50% and it has been a life changer. Rather than worry about the big picture, just start with on drawer or one shelf. Set the timer for ten minutes and have three bags or boxes nearby. 1. Trash/recycling 2. Donate 3. Put away where it goes. Start with some easy wins – junk drawer, laundry room shelf and work your way around to harder things like sentimental objects and kids stuff. It works!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 21, 2024 at 2:36 pm

      I LOVE success stories like this!! Thank you for sharing!!!!

  • Reply Gillian April 19, 2024 at 7:40 am

    I used an organizer in suburban NY (HIGH cost of living). She charged $100/hour for a minimum of 4 hours and in the first 4 hours we got through 2 kid bedrooms and the playroom. In the second 4 hours we did a messy basement storage area and had time to spare in which she took a bunch of donations to Greendrop. I was much more pleasant to do this with someone who knew how to make systems. She used what we had on hand and had specific ideas for what to buy when we didn’t already have a storage piece that would work.

    • Reply Elisabeth April 19, 2024 at 9:00 am

      Yes, I don’t think it should cost anywhere close to 5 figures to do your house?! Gillian’s situation sounds perfect for you – having someone take donations away and knowing at a glance how to make things work with what you already have and/or making SPECIFIC suggestions of what might suit your life/house configuration/goals.

      I feel like you might have a lot of clutter, but you aren’t an overbuyer at all, so I suspect it has more to do with putting things away, clearing away excess “stuff” that accumulates – papers, old clothes – than needing to do some epic purge. You’re not a hoarder!! Getting some new organization strategies in place and clearing away low-hanging fruit of things that need to go and I bet you’d notice a huge difference.

      As someone else commented, organizing and decluttering never ends. There is exactly zero chance of things not getting cluttered and messy again. Hence, I’d suggest booking this in as a biannual event. I suspect if you had an organizer help once (say for 8-10 hours) you’d be able to get away with 2-3 hours moving forward?

      While I love the suggestion of hiring a local student or something of that ilk, I suspect in this case your better bang-for-buck would be a pro. They’ll be quick, efficient, and knowledgable. Also, the pain point of spending more money might be motivating to keep things more organized moving forward

      That, or let it go. Unless the mess is impacting your function and happiness (and not just because you perceive it should look a certain way)…there is nothing morally objectionable to having a cluttered house!!

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 21, 2024 at 2:40 pm

        Interesting idea to think of it as a recurring thing (even having a professional for a short stint every year or so). While I am good about sticking to the confines of my allowance and I definitely don’t buy ANYTHING in certain categories (um, decor . . .) I am probably an over buyer which i why I need an allowance in the first place! I like to be prepared. I will say I’m pretty good about buying fewer pricier items rather than more cheap stuff (ie, I have just two pairs of jeans on current rotation and neither were cheap but cost per wear won’t be bad!)

  • Reply Kate April 19, 2024 at 8:53 am

    I interned at a literary agency last year to explore the profession (I’m a librarian by training). I think I can safely say that between your blogging tenure, podcasts, and success with in-person planning events, you’re well-positioned to get an agent who can help you develop a proposal and sell a book! They love it when writers have existing platforms. Word out of the Frankfurt book fair last fall was that the market for “prescriptive nonfiction” (i.e. self-help/how-to books) was hot. Having an agent on board at this stage of the process could save you major time and energy, and developing an elevator pitch about what makes your work unique is valuable. Anyway, just a vote of confidence from this reader!

    • Reply Arden April 20, 2024 at 8:27 am

      This is a great idea! Sarah do you have representation or have you looked at all? That might be a way to focus your proposal in the right way. You have done a ton of work on your platform over the last million years.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 21, 2024 at 2:41 pm

      I think I need something impressive to SHOW an agent but definitely hoping to get representation at some point!!!

  • Reply jennystancampiano April 19, 2024 at 9:27 am

    About your future book- I definitely agree that you would be a unique voice in the field. Like you said, so many of these books are written by men, with flexible schedules, who don’t seem to have kids or whose kids are mysteriously being taken care of by SOMEONE ELSE (ha ha, I wonder who that could be.) I get frustrated reading them sometimes. I also love the idea of a writing retreat for you, where you have concentrated time to work on the book proposal. I’m excited to follow along this process!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 21, 2024 at 2:42 pm

      thank you Jenny!!!! I mean of course someone could still say “well, you have XYZ resource that I don’t have . . .” but I still think it’s a fresh perspective!

  • Reply Abby April 19, 2024 at 10:19 am

    I paid $500 in nyc to organize my kitchen, so it would probably be cheaper in Florida. I think it’s worth looking into prices.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 21, 2024 at 2:49 pm

      good to know that price comparison!

  • Reply Angela April 19, 2024 at 10:42 am

    Echoing the advice to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good! YMMV, but we didn’t set up a trust when we did our estate planning. We do have a clause in our will where if both parents die, the kids get a certain percentage of the estate when they turn 18, but then they don’t get the rest until they turn 30. So we built in to the will a contingency/backup plan in case one of them made some silly decisions as a young adult.

    With the house decluttering/organizing – I bet if you paid for 10-15 hours of a professional’s time you would be shocked at how much progress you will make. I get that this is a never ending process, but you’re also in a phase where you’ve transitioned from the baby/toddler/preschooler years. My two are 12 and 7, and I am also feeling extremely overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of stuff in our house…and we don’t have any baby gear or clothing left! We have heaps of games, puzzles, toys, etc. that are now too young for our kids. We’re planning for a spring garage sale because my kids are highly motivated to increase their spending power and this means that a) they’re willing to let go of stuff and b) they’re willing to help make decisions. Anything that doesn’t sell we will donate immediately. This is more work for me in the short term, but I gave the kids two options – garage sale where they help and they get the money or I donate everything – and they really wanted the garage sale. I’m hopeful it will maybe spark some discussions around consumerism and value when they realize just how much work it is to get rid of things thoughtfully and not just toss it in the trash.

    • Reply Angela April 19, 2024 at 10:49 am

      Adding to this because I meant to say – what is the part of your house that is most stressing you out in terms of decluttering? Would it be worth paying a professional just to help you do that area/category? For me, it is kid stuff. I can live with messy junk drawers and kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities right now, but the kid stuff is what feels suffocating. So that’s the target for the garage sale/donation pile.

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 21, 2024 at 2:43 pm

        Great question. I would say a) kids’ stuff and their rooms b) just general level of clutter . . everywhere?! c) my closet

  • Reply Marcia Francois April 19, 2024 at 12:46 pm

    Hello, I have said this before but you lean to Obliger. It’s not a bad thing – you just put plans in place to use it (like the Zoom call request).

    Nope, it’s not going to cost 5 figures unless you want The Home Edit. google home organising and either do a per room project – one at a time, or a hourly rate. I used to do this before my twins got mobile and some people would want 3 hours per week, others would do per project. Whatever works for you. You can discuss and negotiate 🙂

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 21, 2024 at 2:44 pm

      Haha, I do want the Home Edit. Just kidding. I got that figure from Lisa Woodruff (org365) but I am happy to know maybe it’s not reality based!!!!

  • Reply Erika April 19, 2024 at 2:38 pm

    One idea on the organizer front. I find that it helps to have a partner, and in my case I have a professional organizer to come and work with me for a few hours per room. She knows what products are out there if it’s a matter of getting bins, and encourages me to think about whether we need something and if it’s in the optimal place for our family. I think her by hour rate is reasonable and slowly we’re getting through the house. I always feel better after we’ve done a couple of hours and we fit it in when I have time.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 21, 2024 at 2:49 pm

      Yeah maybe I will eventually get to a place of just going for this! 2025 – in lieu of pop star concert tours? lol.

  • Reply Erin April 19, 2024 at 3:13 pm

    Chiming in only to say we did not have to physically go to any banks after doing some estate planning, only had to name the trust we created as the primary beneficiary (which we could do either with a phone call or online – like, it wasn’t FUN and it’s a pain but it wasn’t as bad as having to GO SOMEWHERE. And this is reminding me that we really do need to update our stuff – the guardian choices and executor people are still the same, but it’s not a process that’s ever really “done” and I need to think of it more as an annual checkup type of thing.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 21, 2024 at 2:44 pm

      okay that is good to know!!!!

  • Reply San April 19, 2024 at 7:00 pm

    So helpful to bounce thoughts off of friends and then rearrange your own thoughts around the topic, isn’t it. So glad you’re feeling a little bit more settled in your mind!

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.