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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.

Author: Janet BernsteinEmergencies Family General Goal Setting healthy living Home Organizing Procrastination Productivity Project Management

How to Stay Emotionally Healthy During Quarantine

First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with those who have contracted this virus. We wish you a speedy recovery. For the rest of us, we face several weeks of home confinement. I don’t know about you but when I stay home for longer than one day, I tend to become lethargic and unmotivated. This time I’m determined not to let that happen. Here’s my plan of action:

  1. Make a list. Create a list of all the projects you can do at home. Tasks you’ve wanted to tackle but previously never had the time to accomplish. (Mine includes de-cluttering my home office and organizing my digital files.)
  2. Make a second list of all the fun activities you’ve always wanted to do but for which you’ve never had the time. (My list here is significantly longer and includes several books I want to read, working on a jigsaw puzzle with my college-rebound daughter, and catching up on several TV shows.)
  3. Schedule Your Tasks. Just like you would schedule a meeting or an appointment, start scheduling these tasks on your calendar.  Make sure there’s a mix of both tasks. The items you’d rather not do (those you’ve been putting off) and the fun activities. I intend to use the fun activities as a reward for when I’ve accomplished a task from my first list. Also, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start with a just a couple of small dreaded tasks, then reward yourself.  The satisfaction of accomplishing tasks plus giving yourself a reward can be highly motivating!
  4. Use the same strategy for your kids.  If you have kids at home, sit down together and draft a similar list including fun and obligatory activities.
  5. Create a new “At Home Timetable.” We all function better when we have a routine. Now that our regular lives have been disrupted it’s up to us to create new, temporary routines in order to preserve our and our family’s emotional well-being. Consider purchasing a large whiteboard. Draw up a weekly calendar then write in each family member’s tasks, chores and schoolwork etc.
  6. Get Organized with Virtual Organizing. If you are self-motivated and able to do the hands-on organizing independently, this is a wonderful option to keep you accountable, productive and organized during this time. Many professional organizers are currently offering virtual organizing at discounted rates during this time.
Author: Erin CovoleskyEmergencies Family General Goal Setting healthy living Productivity Spiritual and Holistic Tips

Making Lemonade Out of Lemons

As we head into a new month, continued stay-at-home living in most states, with the kids out of school, and a large percentage of the workforce working from home, most of us are starting to wonder just how much longer we can survive through this pandemic. This downtime has been a blessing for some and a curse for others, and right about now, I bet most of you are struggling with staying busy, maintaining a routine and downplaying anxiety. If you have kids, you might be pulling your hair out amidst boredom, complaining and fights. In my house, we have had high highs and low lows. We have moved almost daily from amazing family moments of laughter and warmth to stressful bouts of fighting and discontent. This rollercoaster might look a bit different for each family, but I think there are some things we can do right now to combat the negatives and approach each new day with a sense of accomplishment and hope. None of this is new, but I know that I personally enjoy the timing of a good reminder when I need it the most.

The main thing that I have been working on lately is to be intentional and own my perspective. We all get bad thoughts occasionally, and with the scary things that the media is sharing, it’s no surprise that most of us are being hit with thoughts of worry, anxiety, and fear. It’s human to feel these things, and we shouldn’t necessarily fight them off when they show up. They are sometimes there to warn us against a real danger or protect us from something that might be about to happen. On the flip side, they can also be brought about or intensified by our imaginations or fears, generated from negative experiences in our past. Owning your perspective involves allowing all thoughts to enter and float by, analyzing them to obtain any useful information as they move, and letting them continue their journey out of your brain. Follow up with a positive affirmation, take a step forward anyway, and change the dynamic. The key for me has been to let the thoughts go. Don’t hold onto them, don’t brew over them, and don’t go to bed at night thinking about them. Instead, read a good book, listen to a motivational podcast, pray with intention, or call up a friend or family member to talk about something else. Simply dismissing a thought can feel easier said than done, but I have found that the magic is just as simple as distracting yourself and replacing the thought.

For the first few weeks after the schools closed, my family and I were all sick, so our lives resembled something like those of a pack of wild dogs, scrounging for food and doing whatever needed to stay alive. I joke, but it felt a bit like complete chaos. As we are healing, we are picking up the pieces, getting the laundry done and assessing the inventory of our pantry. Now is the time to reassess the state of your own household and determine things like what supplies are needed, how schedules will change, and who will be responsible for required household tasks. Reinventing and implementing a routine is key for feeling like you have some control over your situation. If you use a family command center or large calendar, erase the scheduled soccer practices and instead schedule a time for things like school or professional work, exercise, chores and free time.

As you acclimate to your family’s new routine, don’t forget to relax and give yourself some grace in this process. Most of us have never lived through a pandemic like this, and it has literally upheaved our lives in a matter of weeks. Most of us have never been trained to navigate in this time, and we are all in the process of figuring things out as we go. If the dishes are dirty and the laundry is piled up, it’s okay. If the kids are not yet in a home school routine, they will survive. If you are using tissues because the toilet paper ran out, everyone will still be fine. Take a deep breath and remember that you are smart, capable and blessed. If a routine or schedule doesn’t work out as you envisioned, change it. The sky will not fall, and you WILL go on to live another day.

I certainly don’t claim to be a therapist or guru in the art of living, but I can confidently claim the title of a real wife, mom, neighbor and professional who is also learning to navigate this strange time right alongside the rest of you. I am finding that readjusting my perspective to focus on the positive, continuing forward momentum, resuming a routine for my family, and giving myself the grace to show up in whatever capacity that I can bring to each day is helping to make great, slightly sweetened lemonade out of this batch of sour, slightly bruised up lemons lying in front of us.

Author: Annette ReymanBack To School Clutter Education Family General Goal Setting healthy living Home Organizing Productivity Time Management Tips

Take Some “Me” Time – Now

Ahhhh, can you hear it? Stop. Listen closely. Is that the sound of an empty house? Oh my goodness! Are you actually at home – alone? That’s right folks. The kids are back to school and that morning cup of coffee hasn’t tasted this good in almost longer than you can remember.

Thank you Fall for showing up – right in time to save us from completely losing any semblance of sanity! While you sit for an extra 5 minutes, enjoying the sound of silence and taking another sip-o’-joe, you may begin to look around.

What you are looking at is the aftermath of summer:

  • Collections of odd paraphernalia from summer crafts
  • Flotsam and jetsam of beach and pool excursions (Wait. Whose towels are those?)
  • Outgrown and short-lived children’s summer clothing and shoes
  • Vacation pamphlets and souvenirs

Amidst everyone else’s debris, there are some of your own items that need attention, yet it’s hard to know which and where they are. Here are 3 suggestions from a Professional Organizer and mom of three grown children:

  1. Pamper yourself. You made it through the summer. You planned and chaperoned and hosted and entertained. And now that everyone is back to their normal routines, start your autumn out by putting a date on the calendar for you. Get a massage. A manicure. Go out to lunch. Take time to get yourself settled down and focused for the season ahead.
  2. Make a List. The start of a new season comes with a host of tasks, commitments and appointments. Go through each area of responsibility in your mind and write it ALL down on your list. Doing this type of “brain dump” will help you capture everything while you are able to quietly focus. Getting it onto paper and out of your head will also relieve stress and help with better sleep. So, before you jump in and start running from one new event to the next, have an extra sip of coffee and take 10 minutes to write down a list of everything that needs your time and attention:
    1. Home – are there any service people that you need to call – plumber? electrician? roofer?
    2. Car – is there an inspection due? Do you need to replace your windshield wipers? Is an oil change needed?
    3. Medical – do you or any other family member need a doctor or dentist appointment?
    4. Organizations – do you belong to any organizations that require your attention; PTA? Church? School? Club?
  3. Clear your space. An organized space will help with clearing not just your environment but also your head. Organize an entire room or just one work area. Set things up the way you want them to be and allow your environment to support your productivity.

Take these three small steps and enter Fall confidently prepared to harvest the rewards of the season.

Author: Darla PompilioCloset Clothing Clutter healthy living Organizing Productivity Time Management

Cultivate Your Space to Change Your Life

People hire organizers because they feel their lives are out of control and they are unable to get organized on their own. Frequently the problem is simply having too much stuff to organize. Often the weight of too many possessions can wear us down. When our space is cluttered and dis-organized it can impact every facet of our lives.

When the burden of too much clutter is lifted from our shoulders, we can feel physically lighter, more energetic and less stressed. This relief can lead to increased work productivity, greater enthusiasm and better relationships.

The question we need to ponder is why do we purchase so much in the first place?  There are a number of explanations for this compulsion. Often, we simply want to possess the latest and greatest stuff because we think it’s fun to own!   We live in a consumer culture and we often validate ourselves by what and how much we can accumulate. Consumerism and materialism are promoted by advertisers in print and on TV and computers in the form of commercials. According to Annie Leonard who wrote, “The Story of Stuff”, the two main activities Americans engage in are watching TV and shopping. We are bombarded by advertising and are exposed to approximately 3,000 ads per day. We see more ads in a day then people saw in a year 50 years ago. Couple that with the fact that the average house size has doubled since the 1970’s and it becomes easy to see why we accumulate so much “stuff”.

Sadly, in order to maintain our lifestyles of consumption, many people are working 50+ hours per week. We work until we are exhausted and depleted and then we shop to make us feel better. We return home too tired to do much else than watch TV and the cycle begins anew!

Is this the way we really want to lead our lives? If so, fine. If not, then it’s time to rethink our goals and blithely step off that hamster wheel of consumption and examine saner options.