The Art of Letting Go

The art of letting go

Our industry gathers each year for our NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) conference.  It’s our annual family reunion where we learn and hug!  This year we were privileged to hear The Minimalists.  Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write a blog about living a meaningful life with less stuff (for 4 million readers.)  They shared their powerful stories of transition to simplicity.  They shared some powerful stuff.

 

The Art of Letting Go

Josh and Ryan are best friends from way back. Both chose a new path to having less and experiencing more because of transitions in their lives.  Originally living more traditional lives, they chose to let go of what is meaningless to them.   It required them facing situations that were emotion charged losses.  It made me think about how a sad and difficult situations can create the opportunity for change.

 

The Art of Letting go comes from the perspective of our new assessment of what our stuff means to us.  Our stuff does not define us.  Our memories are within us, not in our stuff. We can share our stuff with others who will find it useful.  We can remember without the stuff.   It all came down to this question about our stuff.  The question they asked of us…how might your life be better if you owned fewer material possessions?  Are you ready to embrace a life that means more without your stuff holding you back?

Getting started

Are you ready to simplify your life?  The Minimalists offer their solution to get started called #MinsGame. You eliminate one thing on the first day of the month. On the second, eliminate two things. Three items on the third.  It’s contagious! And who doesn’t like to play when you are an automatic winner?

 

I love the baby steps here.  Not only do you feel the emotional lift of less in your space, #MinsGame offers a daily dose of paring down in a small way.  It can be anything in your space that you choose to eliminate.

 

I love that decluttering takes on a powerful reason.  It shifts your focus from holding on tight to what you have just in case to keeping only what is most meaningful and useful.  Your decluttering and letting go will give you more opportunity to live the life you have imagined. 

 

(I first heard of this game last year.  Join the game and play with colleague Andrea Sharb.)

 

A final thought

 

The Minimalists resonated with me because of this quote they shared. Love People. Use Things. The opposite never works.  It’s in the art of letting go that we find what is being camouflaged by stuff and see what’s important to us.  That’s what’s empowering about organizing and simplicity.  Isn’t that what we are truly want?

 

 

 

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Hugs and happy organizing Storage

 

 

 

storage organizing

 

Hugs and Happy Organizing posts are about client successes. Here you will find a happy organizing story about storage.
We all want more storage! Having an extra closet makes all the difference!
  • Be sure to keep your floor clear.   When your floor is cluttered, storage space becomes chaotic.
  • Review what you are storing annually.  Be sure to decluttered what is past it’s prime or unused.
  • A great shelving installation makes all the difference. Inexpensive or custom, shelving heights should make it easy to store items.
  • Color coded, labelled bins make it easy to retrieve seasonal storage.

 

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Organizing your Aging Parents

aging parents

 

Suddenly the roles are reversed for you and your parents.  They need your help with their mail, paper work and medical care.  It can be a difficult and emotional time too as you as your family find new ways to support each other.  Your aging parents need your patience, help and support in ways you may not have imagined.

 

As with all transitions, having a family meeting is a great first step.  Learn from your parents what is most difficult for them.  Learn their wishes on how to get started transitioning what must be done.  If possible, sit with them while you get started on the tasks.  Their input shows your respect for them.  They may be resistant to ask for or use your help or those around them.   Start with small steps and work together.

 

 

Legal and other documents

Start with their important papers.  Just like for your own family,  you want to keep a copy  too of your parents’ papers.  Your parents will need a durable power of attorney if you want to help them with financial decisions.  A living will helps them share their wishes for medical treatment.

 

 

Medical needs

A first step for meeting your parents medical needs is a list of doctors and prescriptions.  You will also need their medicare, secondary benefits and prescription benefits numbers as well.  A complete medical history will help when emergencies arise.

 

Once you type these lists,  you can print them, save them to Evernote or Dropbox, or take a picture of this  list with your smart phone.  It’s best to have these with you at all times.

 

One of my clients created lists that included the pictures of each doctor.  It was easy for all family to take his parents to see the doctor and recognize that person.

 

Financial assistance

You may want to ask your parents if they would like help with bill paying and money matters.  You can be added to their checking account to be able to pay bills online for them.  Be sure to have a record of all account numbers, banks, and financial advisors just in case these are needed later.

 

Passwords and other details

Not always thought of, but very important, are passwords and other account access information.  You can help them by creating a password book using an address book. That way all the passwords are kept together for them.

 

A list including their insurance information, credit card accounts and other account numbers helps you when you need to contact vendors.  Your list should include a contact number and website.

 

Resources

Getting started may be the hardest part.  Here are some resources to review.

 Life.doc binder

Suze Orman system

Federal and National Elder Care Organizations

 

 

 

 

 

Making Organizing Manageable

chunking organizing

How do you eat an elephant?   …….One bite at a time!

 

Making organizing manageable is all about breaking the tasks into manageable pieces.  When we see a big project it’s often overwhelming.  We think about organizing our entire home, storage or an office and it seems to be an impossible tasks.  There are several ways to chunk down the project and create a manageable plan.

 

Work in time increments

I am a huge fan of using a timer to work on any project.  Even just 15 minutes on any project will help you reach your goal.  But I also like the idea of percolation time and working an hour at a time.  Other ways to use time increments include two or three hour segments with an alarm set for 30 minutes before the end of the time. If you are unsure about how long the project will take, using time increments helps you get started and work in measured units.

 

Use Quadrants

Think about dividing the space you are working in into quadrants of work.  It could be floor space, left wall, center wall, and right wall.   It could be dividing the space into 4 quadrants entirely. Creating a physical delineation of what areas you are working on helps you see change.   There’s hoola hoop organizing.  Drop a hoola hoop on the floor and work on that area to eliminate and organize.  As more space evolves,  you are feeling more capable and less overwhelmed.

 

Use Numbers

Flylady refers to her 27 fling bogie.   Flylady suggests eliminating 27 items a day.   White House Black Shutters recommends 40 bags in 40 days.  Use numbers to help you break through your feeling of being overwhelmed.  You can choose your own number, no matter how large or small.  Whatever your numbers, use these wisely to make your project easy to accomplish.

 

 Work with a team

It’s much easier to work together to achieve more. Make organizing manageable by adding a partner or triad of workers. Not only does having many hands help, you have lots of ideas to get your organizing done.

 

Whatever strategy you use, make organizing manageable in a way that fits your strengths and style. Choose one of these ideas in order to get started and complete a project.

 

 

 

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Asking for Help

 

asking for help

Is it not in your nature to ask for help?

Have you asked for help and you heard crickets?

Is it easier to procrastinate about something rather than ask for help?

 

Let’s admit it, asking for help is hard.  It may seem like it’s a signal about deficiency or weakness. It may be about fear and vulnerability. It may be a lack of a skill or an undeveloped skill.  It could even be about being stubborn. A lot plays into asking for help.  It’s time to acknowledge we are all not good at everything and play to our strengths.

 

It’s the best way to conquer a tough project though.  It helps you move forward when you are stuck. It saves you time when you are struggling with a task or technology.  Bringing together more hands and ideas can improve your project too.  Is it time for you to assess asking for help?

 

Start small

The best way to start anything new is to start small.  Ask for help with a small time commitment or piece of the project.  Isolate just one thing that is holding you back on a project.  Ask a trusted resource to help you with that one small task.  If you are not sure what that one small thing is, ask a trusted resource to process the steps in the project to create the series of actions for completing the task.

 

Asking for help at work

Collaboration is a great strategy for asking for help at work.  Create a team that works well together who create energy and more together.  Find resources for a variety of needs that you have, whether tech, writing, calculations or other needs.  Sweeten the pot with an offer to assist with a strength you have.

 

Email is your best tool for asking for help.  Be sure to include a specific request with a deadline.  Think of potential solutions as options that your resource can help you with, especially the small simple solutions.  Think about additional resources like coaches, professional organizers, and productivity consultants who can also provide support and increase your productivity.

 

 

Asking for help at home

We often think our family is an unreliable source for help.  However, asking for help at home is an important part of family cohesiveness.  Even if you think it’s easier to do whatever yourself, teaching how to help others and team work is worth the extra energy and time.

 

It’s easiest to ask by starting with a family meeting.  Even if there is a lot of eye rolling, your family will be happy to help with simple, small tasks that can be done quickly.  Use a family chart to keep everyone on track.  Set a time and date for your helpers to complete their work.  If someone is already doing that task, count that.  Find tasks everyone can do at the same time together to get a big job done too.

 

Finding resources

Have an array of resources at your disposal.

  • My first go to is google and find online resources. Finding answers can be as simple as a few keyboard clicks. It takes a few minutes and already I know new tricks.
  • My next step is to find someone in my inner circle who can respect my request.  There are many colleagues, family and friends who have skills that compliment mine. I return the favor by offering something to help them as well.
  • Finding resources in your community are a great collaboration as well.  In my arena I love having interior decorators who work on color and space design, handymen who repair and hang pictures,  and tech people who help make my computer and smart phone work well.
  • Who would be a bonus to you as a resource?

 

Not matter the challenge, there is help there for the asking!  Remember to share your gratitude for their help.   It’s not only about how to ask for help, it’s also how to appreciate those helping out too.

 

Tricks and tips for any organizing or productivity challenge here!

 

 

Fresh Start Spring Organizing

fresh start spring organizing

 

With small green buds peeking out from the trees, or maybe just many feet of ice melting, spring is around the corner (thankfully.)  It’s been a long winter of nesting. We may be especially looking forward to the change of seasons.  We want to get started on our spring organizing.

 

“Reset” frequently used spots

It’s time to recheck those spaces that are frequently used in your home. Those spots are the landing strip and command center.  The landing strip is where all your bags and backpacks land each afternoon.  Get this area back into shape by distributing what needs to go elsewhere in your home.  Pull out the mittens, scarves and boots and place them back in closets for next year.  Your command center is paper central for all incoming papers.  Review what is there, recycle and shred what is not needed.

 

Closet renovation

Another season has passed and you know there are lots of unworn items in your closet.  Before you do your season switch out, get started by pulling out, donating and consigning unworn items.  It will make room for spring and summer, as well as help you lighten up your space.  If clothes have gotten out of whatever order and organization is best for you, go back in and realign.  You may find even more to eliminate after this is reorganized.

 

Linen reorganization

Spend a few minutes reviewing your linens. Do you have too many blankets and sheets for your needs?  Let go of extra blankets, pillows and older linens.  Take these out to donate and create space. Have towels that are ripped or not a color the coordinates?  Move these out to the garage for spills.     Fluff up your bed by switching out to lighter linens.  Let go of those extra decorative pillows (that you don’t place on your bed daily) and simplify your bedroom.

 

Fresh start your pantry

Spring and summer are about fresh veggies. Make room for this in your kitchen, refrigerator, freezer and pantry.  Go through and discard expired foods.  Set up spaces that are designated for categories of food, like breakfast, dinner and snacks, so you can easily plan and make meals.  Label your shelves for easy access and putting groceries away.  It’s a great way to welcome spring, improve your eating habits, and make wellness choices easy.

happy spring daffodils

 

Finish up your fresh start with a new plant or flowers in your kitchen.  It’s a lovely reward for your hard work!  A fresh start for your spring organizing is a great way to be ready for the season.

 

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Perfectionism, Procrastination and Organizing

perfectionism, procrastination and organizing

 

 

Perfectionism and procrastination sound like opposites but are they really? Do you set incredibly high standards for a project including lots of planning and then don’t get started because it won’t be completed to your satisfaction? Do you put off a project, thinking you will have more time or energy to do it later? More often than you think, perfectionism can be immobilizing you.  Here are some points to think about with perfectionism, procrastination and organizing.

 

Are you a perfectionist?

Begin by becoming aware of perfectionism in your life. Many people do not realize that they are perfectionists. A home with clutter or incomplete projects can be the home of a perfectionist! Having incredibly high standards that are impossible to reach, whether in taking care of your home, completing a project, or in any thought process, indicate perfectionism. By having the realization of perfectionism, you can begin to evaluate what this is costing you and what’s next.

 

Focus on balanced goals and completion

Because perfectionism is stopping us from starting, we need to focus on the goals of balance and completion. Simply put, it is that old saying, “If I can’t do it right I am not going to do it at all.” Start by asking yourself, what is “right” to you? A realistic goal balances your personal energy, time and importance of the task. You can do it well and get it done. Donna Smallin, author of Organizing Plain and Simple, notes that “done is perfect.” You can start by using Donna’s saying to help you put things in perspective, create the balance for yourself and get the job done.

Empowering self talk

Another aspect of perfectionism is rigid, black and white thinking. Either a project is perfect or a disaster! Using acknowledging, empowering self talk, including kudos of accomplishment throughout the project, leads to satisfaction with the outcome and completion. Seeing productivity, you will feel successful and feel more like completing the project. It is definitely a circle of work and success that stands out then.

 

Making projects manageable

 

We may think that a project is going to take hours and we may not have hours to work on it. It may surprise you how much less time a project takes than we imagined.  We may not start a project until everything else is perfect around it.  Break the tasks into manageable parts. Make it manageable with one or two hour time slots, only taking out a part of the project, or adding in additional resources.  As you work through your project, commit by writing in your calendar slots that take advantage of your best energy times.  You will feel successful as you move forward, instead of putting off and procrastinating.

 

 

Standards of excellence instead of perfection make a difference in starting and completing a project. Whether organizing a space or any other task, start with baby steps and practice your imperfection. Work at a comfortable pace, allow for changes as needed and review your work consistently. When others offer to assist, welcome their help and disregard their imperfections as they help you complete a project. With this process, you will be excited by the excellence you created!

 

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Small Business Technology and Organization

small business technology and organization

 

As a business owner, we all want to find simple technology improvements that can make life and work easier. We see the value in using technology to its fullest. We seek out new technology options. Not long ago, wireless technology was a thing of the future and now two-thirds of small businesses use it unfailingly. Just a few small tweaks to our small business technology helps us in a big way.

 

Do you take advantage of the cloud?

A major trend is the use of the cloud. Did you know that 92% of all small businesses have adopted one cloud based solution? Options like Google drive, Dropbox and Box are used to store and retrieve files. The ability to store, sync and retrieve files across many platforms is a simple, smart way to efficiently run a business.

 

Are you using a scanner?

Take this to the next level using a scanner. Think about using a cloud based solution combination like Neat Connect to scan and store documents. You are on the way to a paperless office. There are fewer hassles finding and filing important documents. There is less manual entry and more automation. You feel less stress about shuffling documents between co-workers.

Do you market with social media?

Social media sites like hootsuite and klout make it easy to reach your audience.  You can post to Facebook and twitter by scheduling your posts.  Klout recommends articles of interest to your audience.   Take your social media marketing to the next step using these tools.

 

What apps apply for your small biz?

Using programs and apps that are available on smart phone, tablet and computer make powerful use of technology . Apps like Evernote and Notes help us increase efficiency with task management. Using social media across platforms helps us leverage our marketing. Apps can help with simple small tasks too. Expense reports and taking payments can be easily managed with Expensify and Square. Neat combines the power of your desktop, your tablet, and your smartphone creating a system that helps with accounting, contacts and documents.  We all have favorite apps.  Add your’s below.

 

Finding the right combination of apps for your small business makes small business work more manageable. Seek out new technology with an eye for automation. Keep open to find solutions to challenges you are facing through finding solutions within technology improvements.

 

Ideas for your small biz on Pinterest.

 

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5 Tried and True Techniques for Productivity

productivity

 

When we have tried and true tools and techniques, we trust these won’t fail us.  When it’s crunch time it’s easier to be more productive.   There are so many different tools, tips and remixes for each of us to use.  I have learned to trust these 5 techniques for making sure I am efficient and effective, especially when it’s down to the wire.

 

I always trust my planner

My first instinct as an organizer is to run to my planner and write stuff down.  In just seconds I won’t remember an appointment, a task for a client, or to return a call.  Writing stuff down means I don’t have to remember it and I can trust my planner with all dates and details.

 

I rely on percolation time.

I have learned that working on projects when they are broken down into smaller units works for me.  I think and work hard for an hour, then I leave the project for a few days. In the days between, I have new thoughts and additional energy.  The time between the work periods is what I call percolation time. It’s the time things “percolate” to the top. I can continue and complete the project feeling I have done my best.

I do my best work early in the day.

You’re either a morning person or an evening person.  For me my best work is done earliest in the day. Thoughts flow easily and content comes together.  I take a walk-run early and then head immediately into work time.  Do you know when is your best work time?

 

I start each day with a list and knowing my 3 Most Important Tasks (MITs)

Without my Maps app, I won’t be heading anywhere in my car. Without my 3 MITs, I am not heading in the right direction either.  My Most Important Tasks usually revolve around calendar (Note: it was first on this list) and client responsiveness.  Know your goals and set these up for success by prioritizing the day’s tasks.

 

I love and trust routine and use it wisely.

If you looked in my planner, you could easily see my daily routine.  Client appointments are scheduled in 3 hour units, parallel times each day.  I especially love my bedtime routine.   I am a person of great routines and consistency.  Each of us has some routine already existing. It’s in adding in what will benefit you, rather than rein you in, that routines do us the most good.

 

 

What are your tried and true tricks for productivity?

 

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ADHD Bill Paying Solutions

 

 

ADHD Bill paying solutions

 

It’s a struggle to pay your bills.  Anxiety, math phobia, and paperwork challenges all add up to ADHD bill paying problems.  Financial documents are a nightmare because of details, multiple steps and lack of consistency.  Not to mention those awful accruing late fees!  Try one of these ADHD bill paying solutions.

 

Bill paying center

  • Gather together your bills, a pencil, calculator, stamps, envelopes, checks and manilla envelopes.
  • Open the envelopes of all the bills and mark the date due on each.
  • Divide the bills to pay according to the date due and the income in your checkbook.
  • Keep your bill paying center where you see it every day.
  • Pay your bills either every day or 7 days ahead of due date.

Online bill paying

  • Set up online bill pay using your bank’s services.  You will need one bill from each utility, including your account number.
  • Open your bills each day and write the due date on the envelope.
  • Check your balance weekly.
  • Pay your bills daily and set the due date for payment according to your balance and income.

 

Money Management Binder

  • Set up your binder with tabbed slash pockets. Label the pockets: To be paid, January, February, March, etc.
  • Use this Monthly Bill Manager to list your bills and how you paid.

 

Bill Manager List

  • Place all bills in the binder as they arrive.
  • Write checks and pay online once a week. Call the day Money Monday or Financial Friday.  Set a reminder or put post it notes to help you stay on top of your weekly commitment.
  • Keep the binder in the same place all the time so you can drop in bills and keep up with your weekly payments.

 

Auto debits and other automatic payments

There may be some payments that happen automatically from your account.  Make a list of these payments and the amounts taken out monthly. It creates a visual reminder for you and keeps you on track with your money.

Big Bills to Pay

Even with a great system, big surprises happen.  Make a list of the big bills you pay at different times during the year.  Payments for property tax, insurance, and estimated tax payments occur at random times throughout the year.  Go back through last year’s checkbook and create a list of these expenses.  Add these to your recurring reminders.

 

What solutions work for your bill paying?

 

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