While working with clients on managing their paperwork and filing systems, and/or time management/productivity we often come across very old (meaning over a year) TO DO lists.
Are YOU haunted by these? Know they are out there lurking to challenge and shame you? I AM!!!
Here are some thoughts to guide you as you contemplate your next move against these demons.
Option #1: Look at them
Option #2 Throw them out
Take an hour or two off and, armed with a legal pad or journal, bring those lists to a coffee shop/library or other secret hideaway. Review them in a loving, self-accepting way. Jot down any thoughts that arise.
Then, like you would with the old tub of cream cheese that is festering in the back of the frig, growing green and black molds, TOSS the old to do lists out.
Onward to what calls to you NOW!
As a residential professional organizer, I visit lots of homes. One household system that is quick to fall apart and overwhelm a person is LAUNDRY.
I have strong opinions on laundry:
• dark and light clothing should be separated (my children do not all agree)
• “laundry” is not done until it is all put away
You don’t have to share those views, but I see on a weekly basis how the “putting away” is where the system breaks down. Most of us are pretty good starting the laundry process. There is an obvious and inevitable external motivation to wash clothes when one runs out of clean socks or underwear. Many people are also decent at shifting the wet clothes over to the dryer. The widespread access to timers on our phones has made this step particularly easy for even the “follow-through-challenged.”
I see “laundry overwhelm” during the next 2 points in the system:
1) clean but not yet folded clothes that remain clean…until they get mixed with dirty clothes or buried under other stuff
2) folded clothes in baskets — when not returned to dresser drawers or closets they clog bedrooms and hallways and hold laundry baskets hostage creating a problem for dirty clothes who remain “homeless”
If we focus on these 2 connected steps along the process: 1) folding and 2) putting away and employ task batching, the process goes smoother.
Task batching is a way to manage time and perform tasks in sets where the same mental effort and physical energy is used to maximize productivity and streamline a process.
Even if laundry is not the most stressful task, any project you can simplify will free up your mind for the heavy lifting of life. If you’re a procrastinator, my suggestion to task batch your folding and put away steps is good news! It decreases the distance between start and finish and builds in lots of manageable size “loads.” More, but smaller tasks to quickly complete, offer the satisfaction of a job well done!
Task Batched Folding Steps would look like this:
• Sort clean laundry into categories: if you mix loads from a whole household, your first sort job will be by person, then by category of clothing (socks, underwear, shirts that fold, shirts that hang, bottoms, work out clothing, pajamas…etc).
• Prep each category so it’s ready to be folded (right any clothes that are inside out or button collars).
• Fold each category separately – meaning one category at a time – preferably on a clean and flat surface.
• Do all of your folding at once.
Will task batching your folding process solve all of your laundry dilemma’s? No — but folding by category allows you to delegate small pieces of the project to even the youngest helpers and lets others take pride in the smooth running of the household if you’re lucky enough to live with people who will “volunteer” or as in our household, be volunteered to help 🙂
“Where did all this stuff come from anyway? How did it all fit in here in the first place? I can’t believe how long this is taking and how many boxes we have! AAAaahhhh!!!!”
Well, it’s true. When we pull everything out of its storage space, we can see the volume of what we really have. And, for those things that haven’t been seen or touched in years: much of it is astonishing.
“Cans of hairspray? Wait. I haven’t bought hairspray in a can in at least 2…uh, 5…oh, I don’t know – better throw that out. How did these shoes get back here? Man, they’re dusty. And sort of misshapen. Well, okay very misshapen. Nevermind. Out! And, wait. Do we really have 6 new containers of black pepper? Six? I had no idea. This will last us forever!”
You are moving into a new home. Whether larger or smaller than your last, it’s an opportunity to get organized – right from the start! Here are 6 spaces to set up when you move in so you can get and stay organized:
Spice Storage: There are so many options for organizing spices that there is really no reason you need to fight to find what you need, have bottles and jars falling out onto you as you reach behind, or repurchase multiples of what you already have.
Pantry: DIY or go the extra mile and get pro-installation. A pantry organizing system will be a delight to your family today and a great selling point tomorrow.
Under Sinks: Either in the kitchen or bathrooms, under sink storage will make ALL the difference. Enjoy the control and say goodbye to yucky under-sink messes!
Shoes: The struggle is real. First decide where you want to store them (By the entryway? In a closet? Under the bed? In the garage?) Then, reign them in.
Bedroom Closets: If you are renting a home, you may want to save money and purchase some temporary solutions that you can take with you when you move out. For homeowners, installing built-ins is the way to go.
Storage Area: Before you go building columns and walls of heavy boxes stacked one atop another; stop and think. This is what got you into the last mess of storage chaos. Is there room for some shelving? Is there ceiling or wall space to be taken advantage of?
As a professional organizer, I have seen more than my fair share of wedding gifts…
But not exactly as you’d expect…
I see them years after the big day…
…in their original boxes,
…tucked away in a closet or in storage.
Think ice cream maker (sure, sounds super fun but…), bread maker, fine china, crystal…
In recent years, there has been a real shift in registry selections, a move from traditional household items towards experiences, accessories to fuel their hobbies and lifestyle while still embracing good old gift cards, but to new locales, services.
As a professional organizer, I LOVE that modern, engaged couples are choosing to pack their registries with low clutter or clutter-free options!
So how can you, as a newlywed, plan a better registry with functional (and fun) items you’ll use and love vs those that you won’t? Check out our practical tips to your best wedding registry.
3 Practical Questions To Ask When Planning Your Registry
Does This Make Sense With Our Lifestyle?
Think about your lifestyle right now, as a couple. Do you love to make elaborate meals together, entertain family & friends? Or are you a couple who orders Hello Fresh or prefers to eat out due to busy schedules? How necessary is an 8-piece professional knife set or a Cuisinart Dual Blade 8qt Mixer or the 10-piece mixing bowl set if you have a compact kitchen? Are you planning to start a family right away or is travel and entertainment on your immediate agenda?
Think about what fits your lifestyle as a couple. For example, my husband was a chef, in a previous life, so the kitchen tools we received as wedding gifts have been well-loved & well-used over the years! So DO register for what you love…whether it’s cooking or entertaining, camping or traveling!
If you’re already keeping your life simple, don’t clutter up your kitchen or other spaces with big bulky items you’ll use once or never at all.
What Do We Already Have?
If you and your soon-to-be spouse lived in separate homes before getting married, now is the perfect time to see what you already have for your new space. Put everything where you want it. You may find that your future spouse already has a brand new Kitchen Aid Mixer and a set of glass mixing bowls, so no need to register for them. Have extra towels? Set some aside for guests.
Now you’ll have a great idea of…
…what you’re missing or might need,
…what is on its last legs and needs to be replaced,
…what items are duplicates and can be donated or passed along to a friend.
Repeat this process in every room in your home – declutter, evaluate, and adjust your registry accordingly.
But make no mistake…merging households could require quite a bit of decluttering…definitely more so than starting from scratch.
What Would Our Future Selves Do?
Your wedding registry is all about your future, so fast forward…5, 10, 15 years…
Do you see yourself using that must have juicer?
Are those higher thread count sheets really a priority?
Do you really need a 6-slice toaster or should you opt for nicer everyday towels?
Will being married motivate you to make your own bread?
Will you ever really host formal dinners that require fine china & crystal?
As someone who has been married for 15 years, I can tell you that, over the years, we’ve donated at least half of our wedding gifts…for one reason or another. Remember less is more so don’t overdo it…but get what you love to make your house a home! Good luck!
Starting my Professional Organizing business was one of the smartest moves I’ve ever made. It has given me the opportunity to travel to many different neighborhoods in the Tri-State area and then some; traveling to NY City and to Winston Salem. Once a month I find myself across the street from the beautiful Philly Art Museum and, at other times, right across from City Hall.
Meeting people from all walks of life, in diverse living arrangements and hearing their stories has been a gift to me. My clients include healers, artist, nurses, psychologist, equestrians, entrepreneurs, writers and Dragon boat racers. Over the course of seventeen years I have watched children grow up and parents pass. I have organized their toys and helped plan for funerals.
Every day I am in a different situation.
This week I organized paperwork for my very first client and, on another job, found myself building shelves in a garage – yes, it was cold! I have clients who love to buy clothing – luckily I have retail experience and love to organize closets with all the new arrivals. Some days I am organizing kids toys for young families and, at other times, I’m clearing a basement that is packed solid with everything you can imagine. Yesterday I worked in a business office organizing their promotional materials. I have a close relationship with some of my clients. We sit, talk, laugh and eat while organizing or processing paperwork.
I am often cold or hot, dirty from dust or watchful of the occasional critter – including the family dog eating my lunch. And yet I say it is the perfect business for me. It’s a service I am giving to families and individuals who just need a helping hand keeping their spaces neat, clean and organized. Together we come up with the best solutions for their life & work style in their spaces. It’s not unusual for me to say “I was dreaming about this room last night and I have an idea”. Organizers are full of ideas and solutions. We have studied books, have taken classes, workshops and have supported each other when looking for remedies to make our clients comfortable, safe and happier in their homes.
I am so grateful for all the lovely people I have met over the years and excited to meet new people I can help in the future. If you have any interested in being of service to others I highly recommend this profession. I have gained so much from my clients and every day I feel blessed for this wonderful opportunity.
Professional organizers often apply the 80/20 Rule (a.k.a., the Pareto Principle or the Law of the Vital Few) to decluttering. For example, in a closet, determine the 20% of clothes you wear 80% of the time, purge the 80% of clothes you seldom or never use, and – voila! – you have space for clothes more like your favorite few.
The principle also applies to time. Most of us accomplish 80% of our best work in just 20% of our time, and fritter away 80% of our time doing…what? The key to really accomplishing our goals, to really making an impact, is to focus on the 20% of things we are really good at.
Determining our best 20% when it comes to clothes is pretty straightforward: pull everything out of the closet and start sorting: things I love (or not), things that fit (or not), things that make me look great (or not), etc.
But how do we determine our best 20% when it comes to work? Claire Diaz-Ortiz, in the book Design Your Day, suggests this similar pull-out-and-sort activity to find out:
First, get two pieces of paper. At the top of one write “Big Wins” and on the other write “Activities.”
On the “Big Wins” paper, list things that you’ve done in the past few years, personally or professionally, that have brought you the greatest joy, that have made you feel most alive, that have made you feel like you were in the sweetest of sweet spots. These could be things that happened just once, or continuing things.
On the “Activities” paper, list absolutely everything you do on a regular basis – fun or not fun, significant or not significant, necessary or unnecessary, whatever. Then sort these items into three categories: Things Only I Can Do, Things Someone Else Can Do, and Things I Should Stop Doing. (It might help to rewrite your activities on a fresh piece of paper with three columns headed with these categories.)
Next, cross-check. Things that appear on both your “Big Wins” list and your “Things Only I Can Do” list are your best 20%!
Now, set priorities:
As Diaz-Ortiz says, “ultimately, this activity is a mind-opening way to see where your time and work is really moving the needle and where you’re just running on the hamster wheel to stay busy.”
Let 2018 be the year where you focus on the few vital tasks that best get you to where you want to be.
80/20 your 2018!