Blog

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!

Author: Annette ReymanUncategorized Virtual Organizing

Virtual Organizing – Is there such a thing?

Yes. Virtual organizing has been around and effective for much longer than this recent COVID-19 quarantine. However, our current degrees of isolation are making virtual organizing more attractive than ever before to both organizers and those looking for organizing help.

Unlike house cleaners or home renovators, much of what a Professional Organizer does is intangible. 

Surprised? You might be. Yes organizers can, and often do, physically redesign your office or room layouts, remove your clutter and set up your files and spaces. Yet, the more important and valuable benefit of what they do (what you are really paying for) is what you don’t see. It is the things you experience when working with a professional organizer and the resulting benefits of those experiences.

Whether in-person or virtually in-person, a professional organizer is a pot of gold when it comes to processes, goal setting, motivation and innovation. Partnering with clients from deciding where to start, to trouble-shooting client-specific challenges, to supporting continued maintenance – an organizing and productivity specialist is the way to go.

How do you find someone who offers Virtual Organizing?

If you have already worked with a professional organizer, start there! Contact them and ask them if they are running virtual sessions or, if not, ask if they would consider trying one with you. I recommend sticking with someone with whom you already have a good rapport.

Otherwise, the National Association of Productivity and Organizing professionals (NAPO) and it’s local chapters (here in the Philly area it is NAPO-GPC)  are the places to start. NAPO professionals invest in their businesses, training and professional development to make sure they are bringing the best services to their clients. What’s even more exciting is that, since they will serve you virtually, you could choose an organizer from literally anywhere!

What should you expect when Virtual Organizing?

  • Technology The first, and frankly essential, expectation for virtual organizing is that you must use some form of technology that includes video. It can be a cell phone, tablet or laptop computer. The best devices for most projects will be portable devices (with the exception of digital organizing, where you could remain in place at a desktop computer throughout the sessions). It is okay if you haven’t tried any virtual meetings yet, your organizer will help you get set up.
  • Time Virtual organizing sessions will almost always be shorter than in-person sessions. Expect to set aside between one and two hours with your virtual organizer, as opposed to a three to six hour day.
  • Results  Whether you want to organize a physical space, or manage your time and information, it is the goal of a professional organizer to help you create environments and systems that support the harmony and effectiveness of your lifestyle and to impart skills so that YOU can become organized, efficient, happier and more free in your life. You can expect immediate results – whether they be in your physical space, in clarity of mind…or both!

During this time of COVID-19, many of us are experiencing some degree of isolation and limitation in our lives. Some of us are eager to get back to an unrestricted lifestyle and others are cautiously waiting it out until stronger assurances are announced. Either way, the support of a professional organizer will help unravel difficult decisions, set up successful solutions and motivate you to stay on track. It is a service that you may decide works best for you even after the quarantines are lifted!

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: Darla PompilioHome Home Office Organizing Uncategorized

Reducing Stress During Coronavirus Chaos

As Professional Organizers, we spend most of our time helping clients declutter and organize their spaces. But, with the events that have been unfolding over the past few weeks with the coronavirus, change has been thrust upon us. Some of us may be annoyed or feel inconvenienced by this change. Others may feel down right scared by all the uncertainty of the situation. Wherever you fall on that spectrum, figuring out how to adjust our daily lives to deal with the new restrictions can be overwhelming or stressful. To support you through this difficult time, we’ve put together some organizing suggestions to help you manage under these new circumstances. 

Essential Supplies

We all want to make sure we have enough food and cleaning products to take care of ourselves and our families while we are being asked to self-quarantine and engage in social distancing. And while we support your need to have enough food; we urge you to think strategically about what you’re bringing into your space. How much milk will your family drink in a 2-week period? How many times will they tolerate eating mac n’ cheese in 2 weeks?

Also think about where you’re going to store the items you bring into your home.  Where will you put the extra 30 rolls of toilet paper? This might be a good time to look through your cabinets and get rid of expired products to make space. If you still don’t have room in your cabinets or pantry, you may need to consider other options, like storing items in another room. That three-shelf bookcase with unread books might be the perfect spot for your extra canned goods.

Work from Home / School at Home

With the steady increase of people testing positive across the country, many of us have been asked to work from home. Many schools have closed, and children are switching to online learning. This can create a challenging situation for parents, especially when everyone may need their own space to take that conference call or listen to their teacher’s online lesson. 

Some are fortunate to have a dedicated office space at home, but what if you don’t have that space and both parents are working from home? What if you have multiple kids who need to complete online schoolwork? What makes the most sense for your family? Can the kids do their school lessons in their bedroom? Can you use your dining room as an office? Do you need to alternate schedules? Can your partner can use the office in the morning, and you use it in the afternoon? Or, they use it today and you use it tomorrow? Will your employer let you work evenings while your partner works during the day so someone can tend to the little ones? If multiple family members need to work in the same room or space, perhaps use headphones or ear buds to reduce background noise.  It may take a bit of trial and error until you find a setup that works for your family, however, a little bit of planning and organizing can go a long way to reducing stressful events throughout your workday.