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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: 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: 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: Janet BernsteinProcrastination

Are You A Procrastinator? Do Not Put Off Reading This Blog!

Let’s face it, there’s a lot of stuff we just don’t want to do. My list includes anything to do with car maintenance, housekeeping, yard work—come to think of it, my list is pretty extensive. And yet, these things have to get done. We gravitate to activities we enjoy doing and procrastinate on the other stuff.  Sound familiar? Here’s my top five anti-procrastination tricks:

  1. Write it down.  Research shows we are more responsive to items when we write them down. I use the task bar in my google calendar for my running to do list.  This works well for me as I permanently keep my google calendar up on my second computer screen*. Bottom line, your “to do” list of items you don’t want “to do” needs to visible and easily accessible. No point in writing them in a notebook you hardly refer to or store them digitally in an app you rarely open.
  2. Schedule it on your calendar. If your to do list is as long as a CVS receipt, it’s time to schedule appointments with yourself to tackle those dreaded projects. True, you can cancel on yourself without penalty, but I’ve found that scheduling appointments with yourself creates an effective element of self-accountability.
  3. Divide the task into bite-size pieces. If the project(s) is particularly loathsome, break it down into smaller tasks or set a timer.  You can do anything for 30 minutes and those 30 minutes add up.  A 30-minute task done for five days equals two and a half hours!
  4. Reward Yourself! My particular favorite. If the first three are just not doing it for you, try the reward system.  You get to pick the reward, but it should be in line with the accomplishment. Treating yourself to a Caribbean vacation for getting your bills paid on time seems a bit excessive but maybe that’s just me. Taking a 30-minute break for a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit might be enough incentive, or perhaps catching up on a favorite show. The treat system works just as well on humans as it does on dogs!
  5. Phone a friend. When all else fails, it may be time to bring in outside accountability. This person should be able to, well, let’s just say “strongly encourage” you to get things done but they should not be allowed to make you feel completely incompetent. A good professional organizer can also provide the accountability needed and create a system tailored to your specific needs.

Wishing you the most productive year!

*If you work at a desk, I highly recommend using a second monitor screen. This has significantly increased my productivity.

Author: Suzanne KuhnChallenging Disorganization Procrastination Productivity

Don’t Put Off Handling Procrastination!

When it comes to dealing with clutter, are you like Scarlett O’Hara in the film classic, Gone with the Wind, always putting off disagreeable tasks until “tomorrow?”

End ProcrastinationHere are some strategies that can help. The example we’ll use applies them to paper clutter, but they can help you get moving on any clutter-busting project.

First of all, know when you’re not procrastinating, as these first three strategies address:

  • Start by asking yourself “Do I know what I should be doing?” If the answer is “No,” you’re not procrastinating — you’re becoming aware that you need more information. For example, do you need to ask your insurance agent what receipts should be saved in case of a catastrophic loss? Go get that information, and action will come easier.
  • Now ask yourself, “Is this a priority right now?” Important as staying on top of your paper is, if your elderly father is in danger of tripping over the clutter in the family room, you’re not procrastinating – you’re clarifying your priorities. Decide what the most important thing to do is right now, and action will follow.
  • Finally, ask yourself, “Do I have all the tools I need for the job?” In dealing with paper, these might include a file storage unit, hanging or manila folders, a good marker, and a bag for recycling. Make task #1 assembling the tools you need,

If you know deep down that you are procrastinating, these techniques can help get you unstuck:

  • Write down just a few specific steps for part of the project you’re putting off, for example:
    1. Throw away obvious junk mail.
    2. Assemble all unpaid bills.
    3. Set up a folder for tax documents

Often, seeing something concrete will get you moving, especially if you’re a visual person.

  • Talk to people about what you’re planning to do. “This is the year I get rid of my paper piles for good.” This will have three benefits:
    • Listening to yourself will help you get moving, especially if you’re an auditory person.
    • Those people will probably give you good ideas and/or encouragement.
    • Accountability will help you move into action, if only to avoid embarrassment.
  • Pick a step on your action list that involves physical movement or use of your hands. Ripping up outdated paperwork is good for this.If you are what education experts call a tactile-kinesthetic person, this will engage you, and further action is sure to follow.
  • Pick any task that will take no more than five to ten minutes, no matter how trivial it may seem:labeling file folders; shredding old bills. Promise yourself that you can stop when time is up.Chances are, you won’t want to stop, because momentum will start to build.
  • Take advantage of your current mood. If you feel like talking, make that phone call to your insurance agent. If you feel like writing, make your to-do list. If you feel like moving, drive to the office supplies store.
  • Reward yourself for doing a task you hate to do by combining it with something fun. Listen to your favorite music while you purge old files.Or give yourself the reward when the unpleasant task is done: “As soon as I’m finished going through these old medical records, I’ll invite my friend to meet for coffee.”

Don’t put off handling procrastination another minute! Pick the one strategy above that speaks loudest to you, and do it before you go to bed today.

Author: Denise MacMurtrieGeneral Goal Setting healthy living Procrastination Productivity Time Management

Simple Living Isn’t Easy

Life in the 21st century is anything but simple. Our world feeds us countless messages defining what we need in order to be happy, successful, and fulfilled. We’ve all heard these messages, either directly or indirectly, and we’ve all bought into at least some of the hopeful promises that our lives can improve…if only we [you fill in the blank].

But the true result of our modern life, trying to keep up with our packed schedules, overflowing to-do lists, and material abundance is sadly, not satisfaction and peace. Rather, we have stress, anxiety, broken relationships, and a LOT of stuff.

So, in the complexity of our technological age, what does it mean to simplify? What does a simpler life look like for an ordinary family keeping up with work, school, and countless demands? Regardless of the season of life—a young couple, family with children, or empty nesters—how  can any of us find a greater level of simplicity in our noisy, chaotic, energetic world?

The beautiful truth is that the concept of “living simply” looks different for each person and every family. What I deem a simpler, less complicated life for my family will undoubtedly look different from your ideal. The challenge is that it takes effort to figure out how to step out of a cluttered and demanding lifestyle to pursue a more balanced and satisfying experience of daily life.

I want to highlight the two qualities that define a simpler life, according to Deborah DeFord in her book, The Simpler Life (The Readers Digest Association, Inc, 1998). These are integrity and intentionality.

Integrity is defined as a state of being whole and undivided. This ideal means I need to look at what is important to me, and then live according to those goals and values. If I believe physical fitness is important but never make time in my week to get up and move, then I am not living an integrated life. Rather, to live according to what I value, I will commit to walking 3 times each week and schedule it on my calendar. It’s as simple as that: Live in accordance with what is important to you.

Intentionality means we act with purpose. We consciously decide the choices we make throughout our day.  Thus, to be intentional requires a certain mindfulness. If we are always “going with the flow,” we may feel spontaneous, but we are not in control of our day. We are reacting rather than being proactive. I must admit that I sometimes fell prey to impulse purchases, buying things because they were on sale, even though they were not items on my list. The result was I spent money I hadn’t planned to spend, brought home things I might not actually use, and then had to find a place to store my latest bargains. Learning to live with intention means pausing to evaluate my true needs.

How will pursuing integrity and intentionality help you lead a simpler life?

Only you can decide what is most important to you. Only you can be in control of the way you spend your time, the things you buy, and the relationships you pursue. When you proactively make decisions on what you need in your life and shut out the noise of what others are proclaiming, you will have the ability to pursue only those people, activities and things that give meaning to your life. Saying “no” to the unnecessary is saying “yes” to what is most valuable—which leads to true satisfaction, contentment, and peace.