By Karen Kabara, Yours Tasks – Our Time, Inc, (610) 847 5422
With the holidays here, is your head spinning with work deadlines, family obligations and holiday preparations (and let’s not forget quarantine fatigue)? There are plenty of suggestions online on how you can declutter your home but what can you do to declutter your mind?
Each thought floating around in your head is like a mental post-it note. The more post-it notes, the more mental clutter. Physical clutter can cause people stress, but mental clutter can as well. The easiest way to get the clutter out of your head is to jot down all those mental post-it notes so you can release it from your thoughts. Use whatever format is best for you to organize that information. You can use the Notes app on your phone to create a To Do List. You can add action items directly to your calendar, so you have time blocked on your schedule to complete them. You can use a productivity app, like Evernote, to capture all your notes and action items. Or, if paper is your preference, use a notebook. But keep your information to one notebook so there aren’t random pieces of paper all over the house that will get lost or create physical clutter.
Learning to Say No.
Capturing your mental post-it notes on paper or your device is helpful to organize your thoughts. But how do you reduce the amount of post-it notes creating that mental clutter in the first place? Learning to say no can help.
Many of us overschedule ourselves. Accepting every party invitation. Volunteering to organize every event. But when you’re constantly exhausted and stressed out, it’s probably time to make some adjustments and dial back the schedule.
Saying no can be difficult. Saying no can be filled with guilt. But it can also be so freeing. Freedom from additional obligations. Freedom from more items on your To Do List. And freedom from the mental clutter that comes along with all those obligations.
I came across this quote a few years ago that really stuck with me …
“My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do.” — Francine Jay
For me, having less to do means having less mental clutter to stress about. I can focus on the important things. And most notably, it means I have more time to focus on the things that bring me joy and happiness.
When you focus on the important things, it will reduce the number of responsibilities you struggle to balance each day. Many of us attempt multi-tasking to accomplish our action items but sometimes end up with a bunch of tasks half done. The practice of mindfulness encourages you to focus on one thing at a time and give that one thing your full attention. Mindfulness is not a new concept, yet many of us are not aware of the impact it can have on decluttering our minds and reducing our stress.
Declutter Your Mind
For many, mindfulness goes hand-in-hand with meditation. Meditation teaches you to focus on your breath and stay present in the moment which lends itself very well to mindfulness. But I realize some people don’t have the time or desire to meditate. In my opinion, that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate mindfulness into your day. The key is to focus on one task at a time and try to overcome distractions. When you’re able to focus on a task, you’re more likely to complete it more efficiently so you can move on to the next task.
Before beginning a task, do what you can to reduce distractions. Turn off the phone. Close email. Wait until your son’s Zoom lesson begins so you know he will be occupied for the next hour. Personally, I try to complete tasks that need the most concentration early in the morning before my daughter wakes up. It allows me to get a burst of work done before the interruptions begin.
When a distraction does occur, try to work through it the best you can. If your mind wanders off during a task or someone interrupts you, acknowledge it but try to not let it completely derail you. Try to bring your focus back to what you’re doing. If you struggle to get back on task, try taking a few deep breaths or do breathing exercises. For others, you may need to step away for a few moments and get a cup of tea or step outside for a breath of fresh air to regain focus.
Maintaining focus and practicing mindfulness isn’t always easy. But, like most things in life, the more you practice, the more you will improve. Clutter can come in my many forms and mental clutter is just one. But learning strategies to tackle that clutter can reduce stress and help simplify your day. Learning to say no can be empowering and help set the stage for prioritizing what is important to you. Capturing your thoughts, whether digitally or on paper, can help organize your ideas and information. And incorporating mindfulness can help accomplish your daily undertakings and set you on the path to … organizing your life one task at a time.
By Geri Chark Frankel, GCF Organizing LLC, (856) 296 6605
Kudos to you! Somehow you have found a few minutes to read this blog during this busy holiday season. How did you manage it?
Is it a much-needed break from work? Are you avoiding a task you just can’t face right this minute? Are you a passionate follower of all things about organizing? Do you want to honor your NAPO colleague by reading her words?
I am curious about your answers, and welcome you to explore them. First, there is no right answer. There is YOUR answer. And to get to that answer, I’d like to you give yourself permission to:
STOP – PAUSE – REFLECT. Did any insights rise up? Did you get a glimmer of what your priorities are? Should be?
Now let’s take this tool and use it as you head into a New Year… and into any organizing/time management/productivity project large or small about which you feel stuck.
For example, you have a huge amount of memorabilia: inherited from relatives, reminders of your childrens’ youth, and your own school, personal and work papers. This stuff all reminds you with what your life has been woven together. Maybe it even symbolizes your core identity. It’s hard to let to go. Even editing them down, creating digital (photos, scans) records of them does not seem possible.
So let’s STOP PAUSE REFLECT. And ask yourself this: What Matters Most To Me NOW? Is it making room for other activities in the space now clogged with memories of the past? Is it giving myself a beautiful space in which to create my life today? What are my core needs and values, and how might they be best served?
In my experience working with hundreds of clients over the years, they all know these answers, deeply and profoundly. Decluttering and creating a life that reflects who they want to be is greatly facilitated by taking the time and energy to develop the self-awareness that bursts forth from mindfulness. Give it a try!
Wishing you joy during this holiday season,
Geri Chark Frankel
GCF Organizing LLC
Thanksgiving and the approach of more holidays add incentive to put our homes in order. “Getting organized” has become a need, not a dream.
For those who want the expertise, guidance, and support of a professional organizer, hands on help is still available. If in-person organizing doesn’t work for you, virtual organizing is an option worth considering.
Virtual Organizing is not new…
• Over ten years ago, Sheila Delson, co-founder of The Institute for Chronic Disorganization, coined the term Virtual Organizing (V.O.). She has since educated experienced organizers in the best practices and most successful methods for V.O.
In years past, V.O. had been limited by familiarity with zoom and other remote options. With so many adjusting to zoom school, virtual offices and FaceTime meetings, that tech barrier is (virtually) gone making V.O. much more accessible.
Obvious benefits of working virtually:
• Guidance on where to start
• Expert clarity for steps involved
• During this pandemic: it is a no-risk option for working together
Five bonus benefits of working remotely:
• Accountability so you’ll follow-through on each step
• Access to resources and connections only your NAPO organizer can provide
• Control over what your organizer sees…or doesn’t 🙂
This may make it easier to focus on a discreet project before you’re ready to open yourself up to a whole room or house re-org.
• Affordability V.O. sessions are typically shorter (1 – 2 hours long) than in-person appointments (which could be half or whole day commitments)
• Any progress you make will be 100% YOURS to claim
If you already have experience working in-person with an organizer, transitioning to a virtual partnership puts the emphasis on what you can do. That’s empowering!
Virtual options aren’t limited to a geographic location.
That said, there are benefits to working with someone local:
• When working with a local organizer, your organizing work can be virtual. Even so, you can still benefit from having your organizer collect items or run some errands, if they handle donations or resale of items.• In the future: post-pandemic, once you’re more comfortable, or when the scope of your project changes, you’d have the option to invite your local organizer in for hands-on organizing. It’s all about choices!
By Adriane Weinberg, An Organized Approach, (215) 540 9401
Let’s admit it. We Americans have Too Much Stuff. And we don’t get rid of nearly enough. Reasons from clients include: it feels impersonal donating things to unknown people or they’re saving stuff for their kids (hey, your kids don’t want it). What if there were a way to give things away that feels good? There is! Buy Nothing groups.
The purpose of Buy Nothing Groups is to give away unwanted items, or request items that are wanted, for free. It’s based on the ancient practice of gift economies where people share and pool resources. The Buy Nothing Project started as a social experiment by two friends, Rebecca Rockefeller and Liesl Clark, in July 2013.
Groups are hyper-local and found on Facebook, which was chosen because it’s a free, widely used platform. The rules are simple. From their website, “Post anything you’d like to give away, lend, or share amongst neighbors. Ask for anything you’d like to receive for free or borrow. Keep it legal. No hate speech. No buying or selling, no trades or bartering, we’re strictly a gift economy.” Easy enough.
These ladies couldn’t have imagined that their little experiment would become a worldwide movement with 1.3 million users in 28 countries and 6,000 volunteers!
For more information or to find a Facebook group in your area, visit https://buynothingproject.org/. Rebecca and Liesl are currently crowdfunding to create a social media platform and app (https://www.soop.app/) to enhance “the power of shared abundance.” Their recently published book, The Buy Nothing, Get Everything Plan: Discover the Joy of Spending Less, Sharing More and Living Generously, shows people how to be a smarter shopper and get rid of things without adding to landfills.
On a related note, Buy Nothing Day is the Friday after Thanksgiving, aka Black Friday. It’s an international day of protest against overconsumption. This year, it’s Friday, November 27, if you’d like to participate.
I’m not anti-stuff. In fact, I have lots of stuff. My house isn’t cluttered, there’s ample space and I can find anything in seconds. For several years, a few years ago, I avoided shopping because I have what I need and much of what I want. I have enough. I don’t buy much anymore, unlike when I was acquiring things in my 20s, 30s and 40s. As a professional organizer, I know it’s about moderation and space. Everyone should do what feels right for their situation.
Many people lost jobs due to COVID-19. Buy Nothing Groups are a great way to save money. Or help neighbors save money by gifting things to them. Maybe you’ll be inspired to check out a Buy Nothing group.
Authors: Lea Gallagher 405.458.0408 and Rie Brosco 215.435.5609
When it comes to an organizing project (or really, anything in life), the words we say out loud or think in our heads can either empower us or hold us back. Today, we want to share with you three words we loathe and three words we love. They apply to the work we do helping clients organize their space, and they have broader application in life as well.
REDUCE THE USE OF THESE THREE WORDS WE LOATHE
Maximize. Hello, corporate speak! Does anybody else think this word sounds a little soulless? When you hear the word maximize, does it imply that the only way to operate is at 100% or 110%? But everyone needs wiggle room and flexibility! We don’t need to be everything to everyone all the time, and that’s what maximize makes us think of.
Productivity. This word goes right with maximize as it is often paired together, as in maximizing productivity. It’s pretty ingrained in American culture that we need to be productive. But we are all worth more than our productivity! Don’t connect your self worth to how much you can produce for someone else. I’m in full support of efficiency, but not productivity at a negative cost or impact. Remember, sometimes the best thing is to NOT be productive. Down time rejuvenates the soul and helps make the time when we are working on a project more fruitful.
Perfect / Should. Okay, that’s two words, but they’re related. There’s no such thing as perfect, and all too often, we set unrealistic expectations of ourselves to try and reach that impossible standard. And in seeking perfection, we create a lot of “shoulds” for ourselves: we should do this or we should do that. A friend of mine often says, “Don’t should on yourself.” Just for a day, keep track of how many times you think or say you should do something. Bet you’ll be surprised by the weight you’re putting on yourself unnecessarily.
REUSE THE USE OF THESE THREE WORDS WE LOVE
Progress. This one’s about the continuous journey! We are all works in progress. We’re on our own path and at various spots along the way. Progress feels hopeful and implies growth and forward movement. And it’s okay if your progress isn’t always linear and doesn’t look like somebody else’s progress. What matters is that you’re making progress for you.
Can. A much better word than should! If you believe you can or if you believe you can’t, you’re right. It’s more of an active choice versus the burden of should. We can choose to do something. We can also choose not to do something. There’s a difference between, “I should do the dishes,” and “I can do the dishes because I want my sink to be clean.”
Enough. This one’s empowering to me (Lea) as a recovering perfectionist. Each of us gets to decide what’s good enough or what’s done enough for us. There’s wiggle room! It also implies that there’s a stopping point where you can shift your focus to other things like relaxing or spending time with family or being creative. If you spend all your time on one thing until it’s perfect, it may never be good enough and you will be neglecting everything else. And perfect isn’t actually possible, so you’re missing out for no reason. Focus on what’s enough and move on.
In today’s world where we all try to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible to save and improve our environment, we encourage all of us to reduce and recycle the use of the words we loathe. Instead, strive to reuse the words we love and expand the joy in our lives.
If you only had a few hours to evacuate your home because of an emergency (health- or weather-related), could you determine and locate your essential information, documents and resources?
Hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes and a global pandemic….to say that 2020 has been a challenging year is an understatement. National Preparedness Month is recognized each September and the theme for 2020 is apropos – “Disasters Don’t Wait. Make Your Plan Today.”
In an emergency, the last thing you should be doing is scurrying to find extra batteries, locating essential documents, and worrying if your insurance is updated. It is critical to have easy access to important documents, records, and resources in the event of an evacuation or emergency.
Thinking through the details and your priorities when you are not in the midst of a crisis is vitally important.
DOCUMENT – the information and resources you already have (for example, your health insurance information, your ‘in case of emergency’ contacts).
Tip: Store your important documents in the Cloud which affords you access no matter where you are. Alternatively, if you plan to keep your documents in a paper-format, store them in one binder/folder and consider laminating.
CONSIDER – the information and resources you may need in an emergency (for example, flood insurance, extra prescription medicine).
Tip: Prepare an emergency kit with the essentials.
ORGANIZE – the information for easy access. Having everything in just a few places, rather than scattered through the house, is a good idea.
Tip: Create a roadmap (in a physical or digital binder) that details where the information and documents are located. My Life Packet is a comprehensive life and legacy affairs organizing workbook that guides you through the process.
SHARE – your plan with your loved ones.
Tip: Establish a family communication plan.
Taking inventory of what you would need in an emergency can save you and your family time, money, and stress. Although it may feel overwhelming, organizing and taking inventory of key information will not only help you ‘weather’ a storm, it will also create peace of mind.