Authors: Lea Gallagher 405.458.0408 and Rie Brosco 215.435.5609
When it comes to an organizing project (or really, anything in life), the words we say out loud or think in our heads can either empower us or hold us back. Today, we want to share with you three words we loathe and three words we love. They apply to the work we do helping clients organize their space, and they have broader application in life as well.
REDUCE THE USE OF THESE THREE WORDS WE LOATHE
Maximize. Hello, corporate speak! Does anybody else think this word sounds a little soulless? When you hear the word maximize, does it imply that the only way to operate is at 100% or 110%? But everyone needs wiggle room and flexibility! We don’t need to be everything to everyone all the time, and that’s what maximize makes us think of.
Productivity. This word goes right with maximize as it is often paired together, as in maximizing productivity. It’s pretty ingrained in American culture that we need to be productive. But we are all worth more than our productivity! Don’t connect your self worth to how much you can produce for someone else. I’m in full support of efficiency, but not productivity at a negative cost or impact. Remember, sometimes the best thing is to NOT be productive. Down time rejuvenates the soul and helps make the time when we are working on a project more fruitful.
Perfect / Should. Okay, that’s two words, but they’re related. There’s no such thing as perfect, and all too often, we set unrealistic expectations of ourselves to try and reach that impossible standard. And in seeking perfection, we create a lot of “shoulds” for ourselves: we should do this or we should do that. A friend of mine often says, “Don’t should on yourself.” Just for a day, keep track of how many times you think or say you should do something. Bet you’ll be surprised by the weight you’re putting on yourself unnecessarily.
REUSE THE USE OF THESE THREE WORDS WE LOVE
Progress. This one’s about the continuous journey! We are all works in progress. We’re on our own path and at various spots along the way. Progress feels hopeful and implies growth and forward movement. And it’s okay if your progress isn’t always linear and doesn’t look like somebody else’s progress. What matters is that you’re making progress for you.
Can. A much better word than should! If you believe you can or if you believe you can’t, you’re right. It’s more of an active choice versus the burden of should. We can choose to do something. We can also choose not to do something. There’s a difference between, “I should do the dishes,” and “I can do the dishes because I want my sink to be clean.”
Enough. This one’s empowering to me (Lea) as a recovering perfectionist. Each of us gets to decide what’s good enough or what’s done enough for us. There’s wiggle room! It also implies that there’s a stopping point where you can shift your focus to other things like relaxing or spending time with family or being creative. If you spend all your time on one thing until it’s perfect, it may never be good enough and you will be neglecting everything else. And perfect isn’t actually possible, so you’re missing out for no reason. Focus on what’s enough and move on.
In today’s world where we all try to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible to save and improve our environment, we encourage all of us to reduce and recycle the use of the words we loathe. Instead, strive to reuse the words we love and expand the joy in our lives.
About a year ago, I started asking myself a question that gave me dramatically more clarity (and joy!) in my work and life.
The question was:
Is it fun and easy?
Why did I start asking this question?
Because I was overwhelmed by the “shoulds.”
I have ALWAYS have been overwhelmed by those blasted shoulds, but I felt particularly overwhelmed as a new entrepreneur. Suddenly, I, alone, had to dictate how I would spend my precious time.
Being an entrepreneur can be incredibly freeing. But, there’s also no road map. No clear strategy. No “right” answers.
After a year of trying to do all of the “shoulds,” I signed up for an online course called 31 Days to Flow. I had learned about “flow” previously in my career, and I was intrigued about how I could apply it in this new phase.
Essentially, “flow” is a state where you feel totally in the zone. You don’t notice the time passing. You feel energized. You feel like you’re excelling at what you are doing or you’re seriously enjoying the process.
(Doesn’t that sound better than “should”??)
The course instructor asked us to spend almost two weeks identifying our core values. I was somewhat dismayed at this request since I had spent countless hours (days!) in my previous corporate and non-profit life identifying values. What?! Values?! But I signed up for flow!!
Alas, I really liked the course instructor, and I had paid for the darn class already, so I obliged.
The results ended up being one of the most game-changing exercises I have ever done.
After much soul-searching, ranking, debating and word-smithing, I came up with a list of 5 (soon to be 6) values that would become my new compass for EVERYTHING that I do – not just in work, but in life.
My values are (in order of importance):
These six simple words unlocked new wisdom about what I seek in life – in others, in my work, in my parenting, and so much more.
I could bore you for hours on the significance of each of these. So let me save you from that and instead offer a few examples. “Depth” alone explained why certain friendships filled me up, while others depleted me. “Quiet” explained why I turn into a crazed person from those hysterical Snickers commercials if I don’t have some quiet time in my day. “Beauty” came later, as an antidote to a world that often feels out-of-control.
Our instructor promised us that if we began to follow those things that aligned with our values, we would find more flow. More fun. More ease.
And so it was.
The question “Is it fun and easy?” became a shortcut to test if something “checked off my value boxes.”
I made some significant changes as a result.
By following the path of “fun and easy,” I have found more flow, ease, and joy. I’ve accepted the radical notion that I can follow what energizes me.
I know what you’re thinking. Not EVERYTHING can be fun and easy. So true, my friend. So true.
Luckily, for those things that aren’t fun and easy, we can often eliminate them, delegate them, or find creative ways to make them just a bit more joyful.
Starting today, how can YOU find more “fun & easy” in your work and life?
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.
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.
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!
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!
While we’ve been sheltering-in-place and social-distancing, I’ve been thinking about all the traveling I’ve done. Whether it’s a quick overnight or weekend trip or something longer, like 2 – 3 weeks, I’ve been remembering my wallet and how it gets filled with all sorts of paper not related to anything I needed to carry with me.
My wallet has been filled with receipts, ticket stubs, candy wrappers, etc. Were all these extraneous things necessary to stuff into my wallet? For me, this was the best place to keep all these items temporarily until I got home, when I could empty my wallet, file what I needed to keep in their respective “homes”, and discard the rest (I sure didn’t need to keep a candy wrapper). Do many of you have things like this in your wallet all the time?
How much you can fit in your wallet is really a metaphor for how much you can fit in your surroundings. Are you ready to “Empty Your Wallet” (and I don’t mean emptying it of money)? I’m talking about your wallet representing how light you would feel if you emptied your life of all the extraneous things that don’t need to be kept in it. What is actually important to you? What do you really need, not want, to keep in your life to make it seem less weighty? The 4 benefits of having an “empty wallet” are:
“Do not wait: the time will never be ‘just right’. Start where you stand, and work whatever tools you may have at your command and better tools will be found as you go along.” Napoleon Hill
Now is Your Time to “Empty Your Wallet”
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.
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.
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.
If the answer is yes, you’re certainly in good company. According to recent research, people touch their phones an average of 2,617 times per day. Tally up the hours we’re projected to spend on social media apps over a lifetime and the sum comes to a whopping 5 years and 4 months. (To put that in perspective, it’s 36% more time than any of us spend eating and drinking.) And don’t even get me started on the time we spend on our laptops and tablets.
If we don’t use our devices effectively, everything we’re gaining in convenience is outweighed by the frustration and anxiety it causes, not to mention the lost time. What’s unnecessary? How many clicks does it take you to find something? Are your precious memories and photos backed up? Is your data transparent across family members so that decisions can be made faster and easier? All of these things add up to our daily dose of digital frustration.
Lately, I’ve been working with a lot of clients who feel inefficient when it comes to their devices. It is no surprise that while we all carry around these “necessary evils”, we don’t always use them in the most optimal way.
There’s no denying it, technology is always changing. If you choose to use technology strategically and invest in the proper tools you will undoubtedly save time, feel more productive and be able to unplug! (Now that’s a whole other topic)…