My birthday is Ground Hog’s Eve (Feb 1st). That means I get a do-over for whatever New Year’s Resolutions I haven’t followed through with. I get to make new resolutions for what I want to change before my next birthday. But this year I decided not to make resolutions. I decided to set intentions instead.
Resolutions too often include words like “don’t, won’t or never.” Intentions are focused on the future and can be stated in the present tense every day. After my morning meditation, I frequently set an intention to be grounded and focused throughout my day.
Intentions can become habits. A habit is defined as “an addictive behavior that is hard to give up” but an addiction does not need to be viewed negatively. For example, I am addicted to my grandchildren. The more time I spend with them the more time I want to spend with them.
What would happen if I became addicted to new habits? To become addicted, the first thing I need to do is to explore how I will benefit from my new habit. In sales, we are taught that when we convey the benefit first, ask key questions that lead our prospect to reply “yes” or to nod their head affirmatively, the close will take care of itself.
In December I set an intention to allow more time to get places and not squeeze one more thing in before getting out the door. Then I decided I couldn’t wait until January to put this into action because rushing to get out the door was stressing me out and negatively affecting everyone around me.
It isn’t an intention anymore; it’s a new habit. The benefit of allowing myself more time to get places and get out the door on time is that I don’t feel stressed about forgetting something important or anxious about being late. I am more grounded and focused throughout my day.
Habits create different types of energy. Good habits create positive energy that flows. “Bad” habits create problems like clutter and disorganization; a stagnation of energy, productivity and efficiency.
As a Home Organizer I look for the cause of the clutter and chaos in a space and often I see it is because of “bad” habits like not processing junk mail or not breaking down cardboard boxes when they are empty. When I am finished with a client, I make recommendations to help them to create new habits that will keep the clutter from re-accumulating and will maintain the serenity that organization has created.
One of the biggest challenges in life is to walk your walk and talk your talk. I intend to do that starting now and not wait until New Year’s Eve or Ground Hog’s Eve.
Here are some strategies that can help. The example we’ll use applies them to paper clutter, but they can help you get moving on any clutter-busting project.
Often, seeing something concrete will get you moving, especially if you’re a visual person.
The answer to the question is yes. According to the Mayo Clinic, hoarding disorder is “a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them.” Those who hoard have difficulty parting with possessions even if those possessions are of little or no value. This behavior can affect the emotional, physical, social and financial status of the individual and their family. Commonly hoarded items may be house hold items, newspapers, magazines, paper or plastic bags, boxes, photos, food or clothing. Hoarding is a disorder that may exist on its own or in conjunction with other health disorders. Obsessive compulsive disorder, obsessive compulsive personality, disorder attention deficit disorder and depression are often linked with hoarding. There is often a feeling of shame and embarrassment associated with hoarding.
Symptoms include: Significant anxiety when attempting to discard items. Obtaining and saving large amounts of items. Difficulty to organize items with items overtaking rooms of the home. Indecision about what items should be kept and what items should be discarded. Mental and emotional distress or overwhelm regarding the amount of items in the home. Fear of running out of an item and not having that item on hand in the future.
Loss of living space, social isolation, family discord, health and safety hazards.
The results: Items such as newspapers or magazies, clothing, bags of food or books crowd rooms, pathways and common areas of the home minimizing the functional use of the space and increasing the safety risks in the home. Those with hoarding disorder often experience distress or conflict at the suggestion of de cluttering or discarding hoarded items. Hoarding decreases the ability for an individual or family to maintain order and may cause rifts among family
Why do people hoard? It is not exactly clear what causes hoarding disorder. Perhaps genetics or parental influences or certain patterns in the brain. Stress may have an influence as well as emotional distress from loss of a loved one or pet. Other reasons include the belief that items are special or hold more monetary value then is realistic. Some are paralyzed at the thought of throwing items away for fear they are “wasting”. Certain items hold emotional value or serve as a reminder of the good days gone by. And some feel a sense of safety when surrounded by all the items that make up their hoard.
If you suspect you or a loved one have a problem with hoarding, it is best to seek professional help. Look for a therapist who specializes in hoarding situations. In some cases, an intervention is needed to ensure the safety of children or the elderly. After seeking the help of a therapist, a professional organizer is a great asset and can assist in collaboration with family members and other professionals to help guide the client to a more fulfilling and safer way of living.
I learned this with a new client: Kim (not her real name) has struggled all her life to maintain a neat space. Her efforts go in waves and she has managed to live a really rich and creative life — but it hasn’t been easy. She’s lost a few things along the way. Paid her share of late fees for bills and penalties for misplaced parking tickets. And wasted time rewashing clothes after the dirty commingled with the clean.
When she was ready to stop this chaos…she called in a professional organizer.
She had 3 areas to organize:
• her wardrobe and bedroom
• her living room – including a desk area
• her hallway which had become an over-crowded storage space
We started in her bedroom because the mess was affecting her sleep. After 3 working sessions we had sorted through all of her clothes, cleared every surface (including the floor) of anything that didn’t belong, rearranged her dresser drawers and closet with zones for each type of clothing she needed in her life.
Moving on to the living room, Kim sheepishly told me a “funny” story about her missing slippers. The one constant in Kim’s life had been lots of weekends away to cabins with friends. In preparing to pack for one such weekend, she described how she had scoured her apartment looking for her slippers.
She checked ALL of her usual spots: under the coffee table, in the bathroom, kicked under the hallway table, in a pile behind the couch, tucked under her bed, tossed into a corner by her cat…she couldn’t find them anywhere.
She left for her weekend sans slippers in a bummed mood.
As soon as she got on the road to the cabin, it hit her. She couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Her slippers were right where we had left them — in their new home. They were in the bottom “bay” of the hanging shoe organizer we had installed in her closet.
It was a funny lesson to us both, that getting organized takes some getting used to! The motto of Kim’s story is: It’s easy to find what you need when you need it…when it is right where you left it.
Does that surprise you? It seems like a low estimate to me, but I’m a certified professional organizer. The nature of my business may result in meeting more people with ADHD.
With such a large segment of the population diagnosed with ADHD, it’s about as common as freckles. One would think it was simply accepted as one of the different thinking styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, etc.) Instead, I’ve met people who avoid the diagnosis whether they’ve actually received a formal diagnosis or a family member has “diagnosed” him or her. If you are wondering why anyone would resist, try to put yourself in his or her shoes.
We live in a judgmental society. Some people have shared their reasons: fear of discrimination, avoiding the perceived label of a mental health disorder, believing a diagnosis won’t make a difference or referencing the many myths associated with ADHD. Therefore, I’d like to share some information in hopes of dispelling just a few of the myths that perpetuate a stigma about ADHD and may keep some from seeking support.
ADHD always manifests itself in hyperactive, inattentive, and impulsive children. In fact, ADHD can look different in different people. Some children and adults may have trouble with hyperactivity while others have difficulty getting started at all. One person with ADHD might struggle with wandering thoughts while another can hyper-focus on a topic of interest for hours.
Some believe adults outgrow ADHD. The truth is it stays with an individual throughout their lives. However, depending on the individual, it can begin in youth as hyperactivity and impulsivity and transform into inattentiveness and problems with relationships.
Some believe medication will “fix” their ADHD symptoms. The purpose of medication is to help one focus.
Individual needs vary. Medication, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and/or psychotherapy may be necessary to provide life-management tools, and, when appropriate, working with a professional organizer can help provide organization and personalized systems to aid efficiency and productivity. Experience as a professional organizer and family advocate (not as a therapist) has taught me that formal diagnosis is so important. Many issues can mirror ADHD, even stress. Therefore, diagnosis by a psychologist or a clinical neuropsychologist should be part of a reliable diagnosis and medical plan.
Creating routines, keeping often used items like keys in the same place every day, using task lists, breaking projects down into smaller tasks, and using your electronic calendar. These are just a few ways to create structure and ease stress in your life.
This term means that issues such as anxiety, depression, and mood disorders can sometimes accompany ADHD. Studies indicate a genetic or physiological link between ADHD and other diagnoses.
Feedback about arriving late, missing deadline, and conforming to “typical” classroom and workplace standards can often be negative for the person with undiagnosed ADHD.
Hopefully, more discussion and understanding about ADHD, its symptoms, and potential comorbidity will result in people seeking and accepting help. In addition, general awareness may help others to create a more understanding environment, reducing the stigma around this and other diagnoses.
Arm yourself with information. Knowledge is power!
You know I love you very much. You know I want us and our family to be happy. I treasure you in my life, and I want us to always be able to work out our differences and support each other.
Unfortunately, we always seem to have the same disagreement over clutter. You are very lucky to know how to organize and to keep everything organized. I, on the other hand, struggle with this daily. Sometimes, it becomes totally overwhelming, and I don’t even know where to begin. I know you have my best interests at heart when you say you will help me, but regrettably, we end up fighting and getting nothing done.
I have tried for years to do this on my own, and I know you think I should be able to do so. As you can see, I have not been very successful at this. This is not a reflection on you, and I am hoping you will understand that I need help. It is very hard for me to admit this, but I’ve decided the time has finally come for me to ask for help from a professional organizer. The professional organizer will:
Believe me, I love every gift you have given me through the years, but the one gift I would love is for you to support me in my need for organizing help. Thank you SO much.
Love you always,
The letter you just read is very real. It is from the heart and expresses a real need, and a real struggle. While this example is from a wife to her husband, husbands can explain to their wives, parents to their children, a child to their parent.
We all need help with things in our lives. Professional organizers can offer the assistance needed in this area. It doesn’t matter the size of the project. What matters is that you’ve heard what the person is saying to you. For example, a nurse practitioner client of mine is very overwhelmed with the disorganization in her home. In fact, she has taken naps after our sessions. I explained to her that removing a splinter for me is like having major surgery. Of course, I know that it isn’t, but to her, removing a splinter is nothing, but for me, it is more than nothing.
What can you do to listen to and honor your spouse’s, partner’s, parent’s, child’s, friend’s, etc. request?
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