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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: Adriane WeinbergConsignment Donating Downsizing Family Recyling

Heard About Buy Nothing Groups?

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.

This exchange of items makes people happy because:

  • Their unwanted things go to local people who need them;
  • They save money by getting things they need for free;
  • It builds community connections;
  • It keeps tons of stuff out of landfills.

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.

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: 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: Kelly GalfandEmergencies Family General Goal Setting healthy living Home Organizing Procrastination Productivity Project Management Time Management Tips

Stressed Spelled Backwards is Desserts!

While sheltering-in-place we’ve been spending a lot more time baking. And wouldn’t you know: Stressed Spelled Backwards is: Desserts!

I saw that catchy phrase after delivering my 5th batch of muffins in April. To avoid gaining the dreaded Covid-15 (think Freshman-15) I delivered Tupperwares to my neighbor, who appreciates my zero-sugar recipes.

With my last delivery of cranberry-sweetened pumpkin millet muffins, I wrote “sorry for dumping my stress-baked goodies on your doorstep.” She texted back “TY” with a link to  “Stress-baking is a real thing!”

My 3 favorite therapeutic benefits to baking:

  • On the surface, baking’s sweet “aroma-therapy” is a lift to the senses.
  • It’s a form of mindfulness forcing us to stay in the moment and be present.
  • Baking offers proof of progress; it lets us see a project through from beginning to end.

This “proof of progress” is where I want to focus. 

I don’t know about you, but I am:
•  losing a sense of what day it is
•  not as productive as I was before Covid-19
•  feeling less accomplished despite feeling almost as busy

So I reflected on the tools I used before Covid-19:

  1. Planning out my day the night before factoring in daily exercise
  2. Setting timers before ANY screen tasks and computer-related work
  3. Setting self-imposed deadlines
  4. Rewarding myself for meeting those deadlines 
  5. Taking breaks to free my mind and open myself up to creativity

Here’s why I’m returning to these habits:

  • Planning always makes me more efficient. When I predict how long something will take—I challenge myself to get it done before the time is up. 
  • Timers build in accountability for being “on” and give permission to be “off.”
  • Set self-imposed (and realistic!) deadlines: they offer us an amazing boost to our sense of self and inner confidence. They also give us a healthy look to the future and make us more aware of time.
  • Earned rewards are the essential “pat on the back” that we can gift ourselves. While all rewards should not be caloric, a little baking—no stress involved—can pay off.
  • Breaks are essential to productivity, healthy living, and…when else can we bake?

I can’t take credit for figuring out…stressed spelled backwards is desserts!

Author: Rie BroscoEmergencies End of Life Planning Estates Family General Goal Setting healthy living Home Medical Organizing Productivity Safety

What do you think of when you hear the words: COVID-19 or Corona Virus?

A recent RieOrganize! poll on Facebook came up with the following: Stay at home. Boredom. Facebook. Zoom meetings. Gratitude for front line workers. Frustration about having to wear a mask. Death. Telecommuting. Homeschooling. Social isolation.

Until recently, I knew of only a handful of friends who were dealing with COVID-19. Most were friends who live out of town or who were dealing with their friends/family members who were dealing with the virus. Yesterday, I was told that a friend is in the ICU with novel coronavirus. While we were not close friends, we did keep in touch over the 30+ years that I’ve known him and his husband.

What I realized today, however, was how much I did not know about them. For instance, who is my friend’s next of kin? My immediate answer would be, of course, his husband. But his husband died last week of a non-coronavirus-related illness. I don’t know if he has a health care directive or, if he does, who is listed as the alternate proxy because his husband just died – or where this document is located. I know that his husband took care of most of their financial, legal and daily responsibilities. I don’t know who will be responsible for all of that now and, more importantly, nor does anyone else. Everyone is scrambling to try to figure out what to do!

While this is indeed stressful and sad, I have to ask myself and you…

·        How many of us or our friends or family members could find themselves in a similar situation?

·        Have we taken care of our own medical, legal and financial paperwork? If we have, does anyone know where it is located or have easy access to it? 

·        Will you or someone you know find themselves sick or dying alone with no one who knows what you would want to happen medically or, if you should die, with your belongings?

According to our informal Facebook poll, not everything in our world today is discouraging, heartbreaking, disheartening or grim. Looking at some of the memes on Facebook or Instagram can make you smile or laugh out loud.

There is little wrong with cooking or baking too much, using Zoom or Facetime to be connected to friends, relatives and colleagues, binge watching Netflix or taking naps. There is much kindness, laughter and sharing. Neighbors are helping neighbors.

This can be a time of transformation – interpersonally, socially, economically and globally. It can be a time to focus on the people and things that are important in our lives.

And this is where we all come in to transform our world into a better place in which to live. Thinking about medical and financial preparedness is not high on most people’s lists of things they want to do, but, especially during this time, it is essential.

First, we should examine our own paperwork. How prepared are we? Then, we should take a look at our contact lists. Who do we know who may need help?

Few people want to talk about the possibility of being sick or dying. In this age of COVID-19, it is imperative that we do so and that we talk with those whom we love and help them to prepare as well.

This is something that cannot wait. Please take steps to ensure that someone will know what you want to happen if you are unable to speak for yourself.

Stay well, stay safe and stay home… and if you are one of the many who must go to work to keep us safe, healthy, fed, informed or otherwise (relatively) sane, thank you.