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
Ah, new relationships! They can be fun and exciting, right? You love being together every day, you fall deep into the honeymoon period, and you feel that your partner is the best thing ever…
Hmm…do you remember mid-March, and a certain technology that blew up? Read the sentence above replacing Zoom with your partner…still works, right!
Yes, Zoom! I remember that gut wrenching feeling of being alone when we first learned that much of the world had shut down. Add living alone to that and it can really throw you for a loop.
My networking group started moving onto the platform that many of us were just starting to learn about. Working through kinks, like Zoom bombers, the leaders of our group helped us navigate through our new normal and suddenly I was with my friends again! It felt SO good!
I was on every day for a while, either networking, with friends, or with family, going to Zoom birthday parties and gathering for Zoom trivia nights. On my birthday in May, my friends threw me a surprise Zoom birthday and more friends appeared flash mob style to one of my favorite songs.
I loved Zoom! I couldn’t get enough of Zoom, until the day came that I could. Just like the honeymoon phase in a relationship, my relationship with Zoom peaked, and I reached the level of Zoom Fatigue, which many of us are facing today.
I just didn’t want to be on it anymore and faced that alone feeling again. I learned to fill my days in different ways, and after a while, as the world was starting to open up a bit, I started new routines with more balance.
Zoom is still a part of my new normal. I became a part of an accountability group with a few friends, go to a few networking meetings a week and even started virtual organizing with clients.
If you are still in the fog of Zoom Fatigue, here are some things to try to make being on it fun again:
So, learn to love Zoom again, but try to keep a life balance, and leave the honeymoon period for people, not the latest tech craze. Wishing you, your family, and your friends, a happy and healthy Fall!
In 2015 Forbes reported a Bureau of Labor statistic affirming that, in 1930, the average American woman owned 9 outfits. This, as opposed to a current day figure of about 30 outfits – one for each day of the month.
In 2016 a survey of 1,000 American women was conducted by ClosetMaid. It found that women only really like 10 percent of their wardrobe. It also found that one in ten women are depressed when they open their closet and 40 percent say that they don’t like any of their clothes.
As Americans, we are blessed with an abundance of choices when it comes to clothing and fashion. A broad variety of style, quality and affordability surround us. Yet, we can surmise from these two studies that, in the U.S., we have more clothing than ever before and are less satisfied with what we have. So where does the disconnect lie? How do we get from Point A – the clothing that we own; to Point B – happiness?
There are many explanations centered around the social and psychological motivations behind our large wardrobes and our dissatisfaction. Compulsive shopping, ecological reasoning, “retail therapy”, depression and loss are just a few theories offered.
The anxiety experienced when contemplating and processing the variety and abundance we face upon viewing our overcrowded wardrobes adds a real neurological strain. We end up starting our days stressed-out even before we walk out our front door.
Although it remains important to address the underlying reasons for overwhelmed and overwhelming closets and spaces, professional organizers (unlike therapists) also get the opportunity to directly address the physical issues as well. Addressing spacial congestion is empowering, encouraging a feeling of control over the environment, a feeling that can help ward off anxiety and depression.
Here are three simple tips for actions that you can take today that will make a difference every day.
Start with unused hangers and empty boxes that take up space for absolutely no reason. A dozen empty hangers can take up to a foot of space on your hanging rod – a whole foot! There may be many hiding between crowded garments so be sure to filter through everything. Next, begin at one end and review each garment. Remove all items that can be tossed or donated; toss the trash, then bag and label the rest for “Donation”.
Unless you live in a temperate climate where your entire wardrobe is versatile for year-round use, there are very few reasons to keep all of your clothing at hand in your closet all of the time. Separate items you are keeping into two seasonal categories: Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer. Keep the current half at hand in your closets and dressers. Store the other half in plastic bins or space bags. Take advantage of the seasonal switch to purge items that you no longer want before storing the rest.
Okay, I will admit that this may sound a little “organizer”-geeky, but try it out before you scoff. Imagine you are looking for your favorite pair of black pants. The ones that fit just right and aren’t too long or too short. Do you have to go in between all your tight spaces in your closet to find them before realizing they are at the cleaners? Not if your closet is color coordinated. You will simply go through the section of black pants. Not there? Then they are in the laundry. Need to put together a quick outfit? Easy to do when your eyes are simply matching colors and not hunting between randomly hung, tightly crammed fabrics.
Wishing is a good thing! It creates a vision of what we’d like for the future. Often the vision motivates us into action to make it come true. But the tricky part about a wish, compared to a goal, is sometimes we want our wish to magically happen without our taking action. Can you relate?
Here are some examples of Wishful Thinking that might be contributing to the clutter in your home:
The clothes you wish you could get into two or three sizes down.
The workout equipment you wish you would use.
The craft projects you wish you’d have to time to work on.
The second home you wish you could buy.
Charitable shops have been closed for some time due to the pandemic, and now that they’re opened, they are inundated with goods. Some people are reluctant to donate to charities for fear their items will be thrown in the trash. I’ve been told by Goodwill workers that they are storing items in trailers, however that statement is unverified. Another option for items you wish to sell or give away for free are websites like Freecycle.org and CraigsList.com, or local pages on Facebook Marketplace. Since summer is here, you can find ways exchange items with social distancing.
Wishful Thinking can be shifted to Realistic Thinking. If you have trouble getting started, consider the help of a professional organizer. Many are doing virtual organizing and can help you shift your thinking so letting go is easier. YOUR WISH FOR A CLUTTER-FREE HOME CAN COME TRUE!
Sentimental objects are one of the most challenging categories for professional organizers to help clients with. This is especially true with objects related to family history, such as:
Family history documents (letters, journals, diaries, invitations, etc.),
Education related (book reports, college papers, graduation diplomas, etc.),
Civil records about family members (marriage records, immigration records, birth/death certificates, etc.)
Photos, diaries, papers, trophies…these are all critical elements of your family legacy. They tell the story of important family members, and are the fabric of what binds families together. Personally, I am not an advocate of throwing this all away. On the other hand, how can anyone benefit if these materials are stashed away in the attic, basement, or closet?
The first step to any family history project is taking an inventory of what you have. Even if your project is simply tidying your family history boxes, you will be happy you did it. And I promise, your children will thank you!
Take some time to go through each box carefully and understand what is in them. It’s almost always the case we find things we had completely forgotten about. And it’s not at all uncommon to find objects we thought were lost. Once you know what you have, it will be much easier to figure out what to keep, and how to organize it all.
One complaint I hear frequently is that people don’t really know what to do with these materials. They accumulate and accumulate, taking up more room than you ever would have wanted. The fear of the materials being damaged, and frustration that nothing productive is being done with them, causes most people to feel anxious, along with a good measure of guilt.
Organizing family history materials allows us to honor family members and declutter. As I mentioned, I am not a fan of throwing these materials away. BUT, you’ll be surprised how much space is being taken up by duplicates, damaged papers/photos, old frames, and photos of people you don’t know—all of which can all be thrown away.
And watch out for newspaper clippings! Newspaper paper does not last. Not only that, it can damage other materials it comes into contact with.
The advent of online publishing has made printing books in small print runs very affordable. Imagine having a book of all your parents’ correspondence, and giving a copy to each of your children. Or imagine assembling all the civil records about your ancestors so the whole family can have a richer understanding of its roots and history. All you need is a scanner and a little patience. If you don’t have the time, there are many scanning services which can do this for you. The Association of Professional Photo Organizers is also a great place to find someone locally who can do this.
Once scanned, it’s time to select an online book publisher. There are many to choose from. Two of my favorites are Blurb and Mixbook. Mixbook in particular has some great layouts just for family history projects. Be sure to wait for a sale! Both these sites frequently offer significant discounts.
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that these books become instant family heirlooms. They make terrific gifts for important birthdays or around the holidays.
If you run into a hiccup while organizing, scanning, or making your book, feel free to give me a call. I’m always happy to answer questions. Good luck with your family history project!
If the answer is yes, you’re certainly in good company. According to recent research, people touch their phones an average of 2,617 times per day. Tally up the hours we’re projected to spend on social media apps over a lifetime and the sum comes to a whopping 5 years and 4 months. (To put that in perspective, it’s 36% more time than any of us spend eating and drinking.) And don’t even get me started on the time we spend on our laptops and tablets.
If we don’t use our devices effectively, everything we’re gaining in convenience is outweighed by the frustration and anxiety it causes, not to mention the lost time. What’s unnecessary? How many clicks does it take you to find something? Are your precious memories and photos backed up? Is your data transparent across family members so that decisions can be made faster and easier? All of these things add up to our daily dose of digital frustration.
Lately, I’ve been working with a lot of clients who feel inefficient when it comes to their devices. It is no surprise that while we all carry around these “necessary evils”, we don’t always use them in the most optimal way.
There’s no denying it, technology is always changing. If you choose to use technology strategically and invest in the proper tools you will undoubtedly save time, feel more productive and be able to unplug! (Now that’s a whole other topic)…