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Author: Geri Chark FrankelClutter Downsizing Education Family General healthy living Holidays Organizing Procrastination

A Holiday Invitation: Get Unstuck

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

Author: Rie BroscoEducation healthy living Organizing Productivity Uncategorized

The Power of Words

Authors: Lea Gallagher 405.458.0408 and Rie Brosco 215.435.5609

https://rieorganize.com

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.

Author: Liz O'NeillEducation Executors Family Goal Setting Home Organizing Safety Tips

Emergency Preparedness for Peace of Mind

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.

Author: Naomi CookBack To School Clutter Education General Goal Setting healthy living Home Office Organizing Productivity Tips

Fall in Love Again…with Zoom

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:

  • Dress up your space – If your dedicated area is small, or cluttered, or right next to your homeschooled child, set up a virtual background on your computer.  Put yourself on the beach and bring your iced coffee with a tropical umbrella.  Put yourself in a snazzy kitchen and put on an apron and throw some flour on your face.  If your computer is not capable of working with virtual backgrounds, like mine is, get a cool shower curtain and hang it up behind you!  Have fun!  Of course, as a Professional Organizer, I must add in that you should take care of said clutter at some point…ha ha!
  • Dress up yourself – You’ll be looking at everyone, and everyone will be looking at you.  Dress up all the way, or just your top half and keep your pajama bottoms on.  Just don’t get up to go across the room without turning your camera off first!  Ladies, put on jewelry and makeup if it makes you feel good.  Guys, keep your facial hair in check. 
  • Stay comfy – Wherever you sit, bring your creature comforts with you.  Bring a pillow to keep your back happy, and your favorite iced or hot beverage, and wear your slippers.  Get a comfy bed for your best furry friend and keep it by your seat.  Just looking at them and petting them will make you stay calm and happy.  Show off your pets on screen, unless you are in a more formal setting, of course! 
  • Stay organized – Of course I had to go here!   You came to read a blog written by Professional Organizers, right?  If you’re working from home, you may be working in different areas at different times, on the sofa, at the kitchen table, on your bed.  Designate a tote or basket to collect all your necessities for when it’s time to get to your Zoom call. 

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!

Author: Darla PompilioBack To School Education Family General Goal Setting healthy living Home Home Office Organizing Room Transformation Time Management Tips

The ABC’s of Back to School

As parents face the annual back to school routine this year, perhaps we need to revise the standard preparation for the first day of school.  Rather than discuss how to organize your physical “stuff” for school, we are going to discuss the ABC’s for organizing a plan to address stress during this challenging time. 

ASSESS

Many parents experienced the challenge of online learning (aka – distance learning or at-home learning) with their children this spring.  As school openings fast approach, it is a good time to stop and assess how that online learning experience went for your family.  What worked well?  What did not work well?  And most importantly, why didn’t it work?  The best way to find a solution to a problem is to understand the root cause of the problem.  If your child was too distracted or had difficulty paying attention to online sessions, think about why he or she was distracted and do your best to address that distraction.  Was their sibling doing their lesson in the same room? Were toys in the room that caught their attention?  Was background noise a disturbance?  Perhaps switching the room for their online learning or putting away some toys may lessen the distraction. Wearing ear buds might reduce the background noise.  There is no one size fits all answer to this issue or any other issue you may have encountered.  The key is to figure out why the situation did not work so you can identify a solution that will work for your family.  And, for those who have not been through online learning as of yet, reach out to family and friends who have experienced it and get their input on what worked for them to see if it can work for your family.

BALANCE

Dealing with our children can be challenging in general.  So, having to deal with online learning or blended learning, in addition to normal daily stresses, can be overwhelming for some.  Many parents are also trying to work from home which compounds that stress. Finding balance amidst the chaos may be beneficial. Take time before school begins to identify ways to balance the hectic environment that may exist during the school day.  A quick 5 to 10-minute stress-reducing activity should provide relief. The list below is in no way all inclusive. 

  • Take a few deep breaths
  • Step outside for a breath of fresh air
  • Take a walk around the block (if your kids are old enough to be alone)
  • Do a short meditation, yoga or prayer session 
  • Turn on music you enjoy and listen, sing along or dance
  • Write down your feelings
  • Reflexology – press the pressure points in the hand and foot to relieve tension
  • Squeeze a stress ball
  • Brew a cup of tea
  • Chew gum
  • Guided imagery – picture yourself in your “happy place”
  • A hug from your child (my personal favorite)

Also, our children are not immune to the stress that online learning may create.  They may find some of the items above useful when they encounter a feeling of anxiety.  Here are a few additional suggestions:

  • Hold a stuffed animal or toy that brings them comfort
  • Let them run a couple laps around the house to release some pent-up energy
  • Draw their feelings on a piece of paper (especially for younger kids who may not have the words to express what they are feeling)
  • Play with the family pet

Figure out what works best for you and for each of your family members. 

COMMUNICATE

Creating a productive environment for both you and your kids is a goal for many parents.  Open communication can contribute to that goal. Does your spouse know you have a 10am conference call and he or she needs to handle any issues that may pop up during that call?  Does your son have a test tomorrow and needs quiet time to study? Is your daughter struggling with a lesson and needs additional tutoring?  Having open discussions about the needs of each family member can go a long way to reducing stress during the day.  The discussions don’t need to be formal.  While clearing the dinner table ask a question like “Do you need anything from me to prepare for tomorrow?” or “Are you stressing about anything and, if so, how can I help?”  Speaking to someone about their needs can help ease their tension.  And don’t forget to let your family know of your needs as well.  If they don’t ask you what you need, you can bring it up to them.  Let them know that you have that conference call at 10am and ask that you not be disturbed for that hour.  Remind them that the dog needs to be walked at lunchtime and ask who can help with that task. Communicating effectively will let each family member know you are all there to support each other.

Using the ABC’s above may not eliminate all the stressors you will face this school year.  However, utilizing Assess and Communicate as proactive steps to help prevent stress, and incorporating Balance when stressful situations arise, may help you get back on track and allow you to have a productive day.

Karen Kabara

Your Tasks – Our Time, Inc

Author: Ellen TozziClothing Clutter Consignment Donating Education Efficiency General Goal Setting healthy living Home Organizing Procrastination Productivity Seasonal Time Management Tips Virtual Organizing

Wishful Thinking and Your Clutter

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.

  • You really, really want to lose weight but so far haven’t been too successful. Ask yourself: If I were to lose that weight, would I want to wear clothes from the 1990’s? 
  • Save clothes one size down and a couple of absolute favorites from the lower sizes. And if you do lose the weight – treat yourself to new clothes!

The workout equipment you wish you would use.

  • You purchased some pretty expensive workout equipment and swear you’re going to start using it. But even through the pandemic, when you had time, you didn’t get to it.
  • Let go of the equipment if you aren’t going to use it. There are others who can’t get to the gym who will buy it or take it off your hands. If necessary, pay a junk hauler to take it away. You really will feel better without the reminder of your dreams (ahem … self-discipline) not coming true.

The craft projects you wish you’d have to time to work on.

  • Well, we’ve had time with the Covid-19 quarantine, so I ask, how many projects did you work on?  (Of course, if you were home-schooling or working from home, it probably wasn’t too many.)
  • Decide on two or three crafts that make your heart sing and let go of the ones that you like but don’t love.  Schools and nursing homes might enjoy your cast-offs.

The second home you wish you could buy.

  • Many of us have dreamed of a second home and saved household items and furniture to that end.  Ask yourself if it is realistic to think you’ll be buying another property?
  • If the answer is no, free the space by letting go.

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!