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Author: Russell PitcairnEducation Efficiency General Home Lists Paper Productivity Time Management Time Management Tips

Inspirational Books and their Key Takeaway!

By Russell Pitcairn, The Junkluggers, (215) 779 1644

Recently, I asked my network to share several of their favorite books. Below is a list of inspirational books along with their own key takeaway. Feel free to comment if you have read any of the books below. Let me know if you have a favorite book that has inspired you. Please enjoy!

“Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson

Linda’s Key Takeaway: Be Flexible

“The Tipping Point” By Malcolm Gladwell

Linda’s Key Takeaway: Keep your eyes and mind open at a high level.

“The Purple Cow” By Seth Godin

Nate’s Key Takeaway: Companies that have grown into large successful organizations did so by offering a remarkable service or product. In order to succeed in the same industry, you must offer SOMETHING ELSE that is remarkable, stands out, and talks to the people. It’s the only way to be successful in the long run.   

“The Go Giver” By Bob Burg and John David Mann

“A Complaint Free World” By Will Bowen

Linda’s Key Takeaway: Be aware, stop and surround yourself with those that come up with solutions…not complaints.

“Wild: From Lost to Found on The Pacific Crest Trail” By Cheryl Strayed

Linda’s Key Takeaway: Get out of your comfort zone.

“Resilience” By Eric Greitens

“Never Split the Difference” By Chris Voss.

Russell’s Key Takeaway: If someone gives you a response you do not like, ask open ended questions like “Why?” or “How?” This may reveal key information, or may get the other person to come up with a different response.

“One Small Step Can Change Your Life” By Robert Maurer

Linda’s Key Takeaway: Move with intention and control.

“Welcoming the Unwelcome” By Pema Chodron

Darla’s Key Takeaway: The time we live in is a fertile ground for training in being open-minded and open-hearted. If we can learn to hold this falling apart-ness without polarization and without becoming fundamentalists, then whatever we do today will have a positive effect on the future.

“A Fine Mess” By TR Reid

Blair’s Key Takeaway: Understanding America’s tax system and an effective way to restructure it. Lower tax rates but eliminate deductions/ways people avoid them, but broaden the tax base/tax on spending of earnings.

Author: Kelly GalfandClutter Goal Setting healthy living Home Keepsakes Organizing Organizing Products Time Management Tips

Can’t Decide? Set It Aside!

Day 365 + ???? (who’s counting) of the pandemic and it seems like everyone is decluttering. We’re all trying to hold true to our reoccurring New Year’s Resolution to ”Get Organized.” Getting Organized can mean different things to us but it usually involves some sorting and culling of categories of stuff.

In our experience, there are always 3 decision buckets your stuff will fall into:

  1. Yes! You love it. Easy-peasy, you’re gonna keep this. And it goes back to wherever it came.
  2. No! You hate this thing. You’ve always hated it or you know you will never use it. You no longer want it anywhere near your life so it lands in the “no” pile (for donate, resale, or regift)  
    This kind of conviction can only come after you’ve allowed yourself to truly let go (despite how much money you spent or which favorite aunt gifted it to you)
  3. I don’t know or Maybe? These are the items that you really need to ponder.

Our NAPO colleague, Barbara Hemphill, coined this brilliant definition: Clutter is Postponed Decisions.™ Clutter builds when we postpone decisions about:
• Do I really love it?
• Will I use it?
• Does it fill a void in my life?
• If I’m keeping it, where should it live?
While you do need to decide about your stuff, you do NOT want to stop the decluttering process to ponder each individual item.

Our time-saving advice is DEFER your decision for the “maybes” and “I don’t knows.”

These tricky decisions deserve attention — but NOT while you’re in the initial stages of rapid-fire, gut reactions to your stuff.

If you stop your intuitive process of deciding Yes, No, Maybe you won’t get through the whole category of stuff and you won’t see visible signs of progress. This will feel depressing and probably halt the whole decluttering process.

Follow our advice and schedule time with yourself — on a separate day — when your mind is fresh and you’ll taste sweet success. Technically, it’s called time chunking. In practice:
• One organizing session is dedicated to quick, visceral decisions.
• Another for contemplative, thoughtful and reasoned thinking.

Permission granted to defer your decisions on all of your “maybes” and “I don’t knows” — not because pushing off until tomorrow is a winning strategy. Permission granted because setting aside the necessary time to consider what deserves a place and space in your life is worthy of your full attention. In this case, deferring the decision is a smart move.

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: Annette ReymanCloset Clothing Clutter Consignment Donating General healthy living Home Organizing Seasonal Tips

Closet Organizing Tips

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?

Point A – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Point B

Why Are Our Wardrobes So Overwhelming?

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.

What You can Do about Your Overstuffed Closet

Here are three simple tips for actions that you can take today that will make a difference every day.

1.    Remove useless items from your closet.

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”.

2.    Store seasonal clothing.

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.

3.    Color Coordinate.

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.

Take the time to clean out and organize your closet now and you’ll start your day with a feeling of peace and control. Your closet will be the first empowering confidence boost to your day!

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: Rie BroscoGeneral Goal Setting healthy living Home Time Management Tips

Channeling Stress Through Creativity

Some have taken to baking bread or cooking. Others have unleashed the crafter within themselves. Finding a common item and brainstorming the various unconventional ways that the item can be used is fun and challenging.
Between the ups and downs of the COVID-19 pandemic and the political tension, the past several months have been especially stressful. There are many ways that people handle stress. Some make To-Do lists. 
For instance, what does one do with old (clean) socks? You know the ones… the dryer has eaten the mate or the elastic has lost its stretch. Below are some ideas of what you can do with socks. Not only can you enjoy some of these projects, beautify your home and/or enlist the aid of any children you may have lounging around the house feeling bored, these projects are a good way to reuse old socks. Thank you to Megan Willett and Business Insider for the post on 61 Things You Can Do With Your Old Mismatched Socks. Two that I found particularly interesting were the No-Sew Sock Puppy and the No-Sew Sock Face Mask.
No-Sew Sock Puppy. I love sock toys, but hate to sew. Inspired by the website Danielle’s Place, which is filled with no-sew sock animal and plushie tutorials, this is a picture of Fritz, the sock. He is made with a sock, rubber bands and fiberfill stuffing. Add whatever you want to give him character.   No-Sew Sock Face Mask. There are many DIY face mask tutorials on YouTube. The one I found most helpful requires no sewing and no rubber bands. You can make these in under five minutes if you are in a pinch.
We live in trying times. Even though businesses and restaurants are slowly opening, many people feel quite alone and isolated from the world. Find a phone buddy. Make yourself a To-Do list and share it with your phone buddy. Did you check off at least one thing on the list? Fabulous! Share it with your phone buddy. If that person is not available, tell your cat or your dog or look in the mirror and tell yourself. Celebrate your accomplishments. 
When you have taken time to decompress and replenish your spirit, learn about the multiple ways that we can all work for social justice and change in our world. But, most importantly, be gentle with yourself.   Stay well, stay safe and stay home if you are able… and, if you are one of the many who must go to work to or who chooses to volunteer to keep us safe, healthy, fed, informed or otherwise (relatively) sane, thank you.