Start Small Go Big

Start organizing small, then go big

 

 

How can SMALL and BIG be used together for organizing?  When we think of these opposites, can we use these together in getting organized?  Well here’s how!

 

Organizing and productivity are overwhelming. The most frequent question is how do I get started?  Whether your view is a cluttered desk or home, it’s not clear where, when or how to get started. And what about the next steps? Is that starting with the small of units, like organizing your paper clips or the shoes in your closet?  Or do you go big with the big stuff? Here’s answers to these 2 important questions.

Start small

I love the question, how do I eat an elephant? Its the analogy I use most often in presentations.  Of course the answer is one bite at a time!  It’s in getting start in a small way that gets you started at all.  It doesn’t matter if you take a nibble at the trunk or the foot, starting with a nibble gets you started. Your nibble in your home could be the junk drawer in your kitchen, the floor of a closet, the shelf in a linen closet or the papers in your kitchen.  Nibbling can be an amount of time, like only 15 minutes.  A nibble can be a number, like picking up 3 items to donate.  Your office nibbling can be your inbox, a bookcase, or a file drawer.  Decide what small looks and feels like to you then set a date on your calendar to commit.

 

Go big

Look around at your home or office.  What’s the big stuff in your way?  We organizers call it macro organizing.  Start with the big stuff when you keep on organizing.  It’s not the time to launch into complex sort ing of your stuff. It’s also not the time to go to that shoebox full of small random items.  Work on the big stuff first.   Big stuff open up space. That’s the space you see and feel.  It’s the big stuff that helps you break through being stuck and you feel the openness of your space.  Take a big picture with your papers too.  What are the big categories you can sort?  Broad categories make it easier to work through tedious papers.

 

Is this a new perspective for you?  Have you thought you needed hours to organize and never started?  Have you walked about from your papers after creating an overly complicated system?  Here’s a new way to make organizing happen for you.

 

Want to learn more organizing and productivity tricks?  Join my newsletter here.

 

Words Matter: My Organizing and Productivity Mantras

organizing and productivity

 

 

For over 15 years, I have been sharing organizing mantras with my clients. These come out when we are working together on organizing and productivity.  These also come together as I create presentations and work with virtual clients.  These come from years of experiences, in a variety of settings, for organizing and productivity.  I am sharing these here to help you on your organizing and productivity journey too.

 

Less Stuff = Less Stress

All your stuff takes a toll on your. You have to take care of it, put it away, make sure you have it, and make sure it works when you need it.  That’s a lot of care for stuff.  The more stuff we have the more stress we have on just how to take care of it.  It’s hard to do, but less stuff means you have less stress.

 

A little structure goes a long way

Structure is the way you set up something. It could be the way you set up a space, like a desk or a kitchen, or a day, like your schedule and calendar.  It’s the way that we establish what’s around us that matters most.  The impact of structure is that you set yourself up for success.  The reason a little structure makes a difference is to keep you nimble.  A little structure keeps you within a good working routine and complete chaos.

 

People matter, stuff doesn’t

Recently at home we had a small accident.  There was sadness and, well, some blame.  As I said to my family, people matter, stuff doesn’t.  It’s a reminder that truly relationships are the most important part of our lives.  The stuff we have either adds or diminishes relationships.  Let’s make people matter the most.  That’s not to say that taking care of your stuff isn’t important, however its important to keep it all in perspective.

 

Plan your work and work your plan

Planning in itself is not enough.  It’s getting started and working your plan that makes the difference.

Keep it simple sweetie

If you tend to over complicate and make work too complicated, this is the mantra for you.  It’s about choosing the most simple process to get the results  you want.

 

Hugs and Happy Organizing

Hugs and happy organizing is how I sign my success notes for my clients.  It’s that happy feeling because you are more organized and productive.  Check out lots of before and after successes with my clients in this Hugs and Happy Organizing category of Ellen’s Blog.

 

I’d love to hear the mantras that inspire you to be more organized and productive.  Add a comment here!

 

 

people matter stuff doesn't

 

 

 

 

Summertime…and the decluttering is easy (30 things to declutter in 30 days)

30 things to declutter in 30 days

 

Summer’s here and we have a slower pace.  Summer is typically when we have a little more time, our schedules are a little more flexible.  Hot spots have gathered clutter all year long and now is the time to declutter.  Not only is this a great start,  your summer decluttering efforts will be a gateway to fall. Then it’s on to more serious organizing with back to school and holidays coming up. There are definitely easy items to declutter.  Take advantage of summer to declutter 30 things in 30 days.

  1. Out of date magazines and catalogs
  2.  Extra notepads and stationary
  3. Expired coupons
  4. Pens and pencils that overflow in your pencil cup
  5. Extra gift wrap and gift bags
  6. Broken sunglasses
  7. Expired sunscreen
  8. Cosmetics and skincare products that are unused or over a year old
  9. Unused hair care products or blow dryers
  10. Nail polish that is not your color
  11. Boxes
  12. Empty jars or storage containers
  13. Shopping bags and paper bags
  14. Pools toys that won’t inflate
  15. Broken outdoor chairs
  16. Worn out or stained towels
  17. Tee- shirts you haven’t worn
  18. Old electronics
  19. Old cell phones
  20. Kids’ old backpacks
  21. Broken toys
  22. Faded, thin flip flops
  23. Books you won’t read again
  24. Expired condiments like ketchup, mustard, relish and mayo
  25. Crunched up paper goods
  26. Extra plastic drinking cups
  27. Unsubscribe with Unroll.me
  28. Delete old photos you won’t use in photo books
  29. Smart phone apps you haven’t used
  30. Any one item each day that is easy for you to declutter

 

Your decluttering may include recycling, donating, selling or sharing these things.  Make it easy to declutter by choosing what’s easiest for you to accomplish. There’s no one way to declutter, however it’s best to start small.  If you commit to one item a day, you will accomplish so much in 30 days. Get started today and share your success here!

 

Every newsletter has decluttering tips for you.  Join my newsletter here!

 

Intentional, organized living

intentional living is key to all of us

 

 

“Intentionality is the linchpin to living well.” – St Francis de Sales

 

When I work with clients, it’s their intentions that we set as goals.  We are finding ways to make the future what they intend. The future that my clients hope for is uncluttered, productive and intentional. They want to live the life they imagined, free from clutter and distraction.  How do you turn that intention into your lifestyle?

Compelling reasons to act

There’s lots of good reasons, but do you have a compelling reason?  Intentional living requires the most compelling of reasons. It’s the reason to postpone a reward now, for your future self.  Adults and kids struggle with this.  (Have you heard of the Marshmellow experiment?)  Your personal compelling reason, the reason that stops  you from purchasing more, helps you let go of more and keeps your goal front and center is key.  People who believe their actions affect their destiny have a higher motivation.

 

Moving into action

To create the life they imagined, it’s moving from intention into action.  The decisions and choices my clients face are what we all often struggle with. Its different questions.  What do I do now to have the greatest impact on the future?  As you step back and take in the big picture of your intention to live well, what do you see and what would you like that to look like? What is a baby step you can take to move in the direction of your intention?  Choose one of these, or your own question, to help you get started.

 

When intentional living gets the most difficult

True integrity is doing the things that are harder in the moment. How do you stay on track?  Prevention with self care is the first step.  Self care includes eating healthy, getting good rest and exercising.  These self care steps build us up.   It’s easier to stay on target when you have gotten a good night’s rest.

 

Keep your intentional living upper most with small reminders each day.  To keep mindful, a mantra or saying, a medallion or disk you can hold, or a post it note can keep you on track with your intentions.

Hugs and happy organizing: Bathroom Organizing

Hugs and Happy Organizing Bathroom

Hugs and happy organizing are client success stories.  Here’s a story about a client’s bathroom and bathroom organizing.

 

Bathrooms are busy places! It’s where you get ready in the morning to get out of the house quickly and easily.  Bathrooms are also where there’s a lot of potential clutter. There’s hair, makeup and products galore.  What’s a girl or guy to do?

  • Decide what you want your bathroom sink area to look like when you are done. Are you a minimalist or someone who like to see what you are using.
  • Know what you use every day and keep it easy to access.  Use drawers for easy access with one category in each drawer or all your items in one drawer.  This keeps it easy to find and use.
  • Keep extra products together by category. A category can be by body part (body lotions, face products, dental products).  It can also be by frequency of use ( daily, monthly, hardly ever.)
  • Use under sink organizers to tame this chaotic space.  By creating specific slots for specific items, your cabinet looks and is more organized.
  • Let go of products you are not using or are old.  Here’s tips on how long to keep different products.   It’s hard to do, but important to keep from infections.

Wishing you all the best as you do your hugs and happy organizing!

I am an Organizer Coach now!

I am an organizer coach

I have always valued education because furthering my skills makes a difference for my clients.  My clients are the reason I continue to learn new ways to help them let go, streamline and keep their intentions daily in their lives. Completing my Coach Approach training is one way for me to empower my clients with their home, work and life goals.  I am an Organizer Coach who works one on one with clients to empower your change and goals.

 

For the past year, and several years before, I have been taking classes via phone, working on skills in small groups, and completing a curriculum to become an Organizer Coach.  My classes and reading have included learning about modalities, using new tools to help my clients such as a values and needs assessment, and learning more about ADHD, depression and anxiety. Throughout the year I have coached or been coached in 3 different small groups to practice my skills and learn what it is like to be coached.

 

How do these new skills help you, my client?

  • Are you stuck and can’t get started? Coaching supports awareness, action and learning.  Your new awareness will lead you into action.  Getting started and finishing up are often holding back my clients until we work together.  Learning comes from perspectives at your success.  Overall, coaching supports maintaining the change you have created.
  • Need a trusted coach to listen to you?  I believe in the strengths of my clients. You bring thoughts and ideas and my listening brings focus to our work. Your values, needs and strengths are all a part of our work together.
  • Do you feel overwhelmed and paralyzed?  Your strengths are the foundation of organizing in your home, work and life. It’s easier to maintain the systems you establish by working from your strengths.
  • Do you struggle with ADHD or anxiety?  Brain based conditions, such as ADHD and anxiety, can impact your executive function and your goals. Our work together will move you forward as you create new awareness and learning.
  • Have you created support for your efforts?  Essential structures, such as self awareness, support and education are the baseline for your life.  Together we investigate how these essential structures support your organizing goals.

 

It’s been a busy year with training through Coach Approach, a coaching skills training program designed specifically for organizers.   I want to thank my trainers Denslow Brown and Cameron Gott, as well as my colleagues in training with me.

 

 

3 ADHD Productivity Tips

3 adhd productivity tips

 

ADHD and other brain based conditions impact productivity. It’s the quest to “get stuff done.” You start and are interrupted by other people, social media or the thoughts in your head.  With so much going on in your head, it’s difficult to focus. With each distraction, it takes an average of 15 minutes to regain complete focus.  It can be hard to get started on a task or to go back to a task the next day.  All of these aspects of executive function interfere with productivity.  Here’s help to address distractions and productivity.

Task batching

Task batching is multiplying the same task or do the same task repeatedly in a sequence. It’s when you bake 4 banana breads instead of 2, write 12 blog posts correlating to your themed blog calendar, or make 4 calls back to back.  The reason task batching helps is you have gotten past getting started and now you are in the flow of getting a task done.  You minimize distractions with staying focused on one task or series of tasks.  A few of my favorite task batching ideas are to answer email 3 times a day, block times of the day to respond to phone calls, or do your marketing on the same morning each week.  Task batch with any action by doing these together at the same, established time.

 

Chunk your task

Do you have items like this on your list: do taxes, send newsletter, or write a book?  Each of these tasks is a multiple step project requiring many small tasks for completion. Splitting these tasks into smaller chunks, or even micro-chunks, can help you get stuff done.  Start by capturing your task on a list.  Write the next step for the task and a completion date.  Write this as a series of steps and check these off as you accomplish each. Another option is Trello, an online task management tool, to break down a project to make it more manageable. A mindmap can help too.  Breaking a task into smaller, manageable, chunks helps you accomplish more.

 

Write it down when interrupted or the at the end of the day

You are about to finish up your day and you are in the middle of your work.  Write down where you are and what you are doing.  Writing this down helps you start back up where you left off and gives you a frame of reference for your work. If you are in the middle of your work and you are interrupted by a phone call or colleague, use a post it note to write down where you are.  It’s not surprising that these notes not only save time, and also keep you at a high pace of action.

 

These 3 options are small ways to be more productive. Here’s a daily tool for productivity!

 

Sign up for productivity tips here!

6 Areas to Declutter to Sell Your Home Fast

sell your home faster

A decluttered home speeds up the sale of your home.  After years of living in  your home, you have collected more than 2000 in just three rooms! It’s clear that a new buyer wants to see your home, not all the clutter in it.  Realtors know that home buyers see themselves in something beautiful, organized and spacious.  According to a 2011 study by HomeGain.com, cleaning and decluttering your home is the top method to get more for your home and a quicker sale.  Here’s the top 6 areas to declutter your home for a fast sale.

 

Kitchen

The kitchen is your first stop to declutter.  Most buyers want a big kitchen with lots of storage. Maximize your counter top and cabinet appeal by clearing off the kitchen counter top. Leave as little out as possible to showcase the backsplash and counter top itself.  Go through your kitchen cabinets and let go of odd glasses, mugs and plates.  Be sure to recycle old broken appliances.  Pack away seasonal items you won’t be using this year. Look under your kitchen sink and eliminate old packaging and leave basic cleaning supplies.  Declutter your pantry too especially if there is an abundance of items. Use up your pantry stock to minimize what is in the pantry.

Bathrooms

Bathrooms are the next stop to declutter.  Leave just hand soap on the counter. Declutter under the sink area and in the drawers.  Get out the trash that is in this room.  Neatly fold any towels.   Check out your medicine cabinet for expired medications and over the counter items. Be sure your laundry is hidden away too!

Closets

A spacious closet and abundant storage is on everyone’s wish list.  Declutter your closet and keep only what you love and can wear.  Do the same for out of season clothes you have not worn last season.  If you are using closets to store decor or linens, take time to decide if these will be used in your next home.

 

Kid rooms

Your kids’ rooms and kids’ toys are especially important to organize.  Too many toys can overwhelm a potential buyer.  Pack up more than half of your kids’ toys to sell your home. While your home is on the market, plan on lots of time at parks to entertain your kids and keep their toys organized.

Office

With more and more people working from home, an organized office is critical to the sale of your home.  Gather up all your paper and go through it to shred or recycle.  Place papers by year in boxes, ready to file at a later date.  Condense all cords and keep out only what you use regularly on your desk. A tool cup with scissors, pens and markers is all you need to keep out.  A decluttered office brings out the best in your home.

 

What about offsite storage?

While generally not an advocate of offsite storage, it is useful during staging a home for sale. Out of season clothes, additional furniture, extra toys and other items you are not ready to sell or donate can be stored here.

 

Decluttering your home has a big bonus! You have more space at your new home and you have saved money not moving the extra items. If you are unsure, be ruthless and let items go.

My Organizing Obsession: Clear plastic bags

my organizing obsession clear plastic bags

 

 

In the past few weeks, garage organizing has been in full swing! Beautiful Spring weather is the best time to organize outside. As we organized, my clients and I have come to love clear plastic bags. If it’s small or big, clear plastic bags make it easy to organize.  There are several options I want to share with you.

 

Clear is always a good option for storage.

  • You can see what’s inside. Most of us are visual and out of sight is out of mind.
  • It’s easy to know what you have and how to use it because of clear storage.
  • It’s easy to group items together that are used together.
  • You can label the outside of the bag too.

 

 

clear plastic bags

 

plastic bag organizing

 

Clear plastic bags are a great alternative for organizing.  These extra large garbage bags can be used for all types of storage.  It’s especially helpful for light weight, but big items.  You can wrap floral arrangements, sleeping bags, holiday decorations and more with these bags. It’s an extra layer of protection for your items. Use these instead of black plastic garbage bags.

 

ziploc giant bags

 

organizing toys in ziplock

Ziploc big bags are a storage option for all sorts of items.  As shown here, it’s great for athletic items, holiday storage, out of season clothes storage, and shoe storage. These bags are heavier than the clear plastic bags and more durable. It’s easy to store items under a bed, in the back of a closet, in a garage or in the attic.

 

Thanks to Ziploc, there a zillion uses for small clear bags. Ziploc has ideas for spring cleaning and organizing, as well as ways to organize all around your home.  You can organize your purse, organize your junk drawer, organize your crafts and organize your office supplies. There’s so much you can do with ziplocs of all sizes that every home should have a large supply!

 

 

When Organizing is NOT Enough

Declutter first, then organize

 

 

Organizing is on every one’s mind these days. If only I had time, or I need to be, or best of all, I SHOULD get organized. The thought is that if I organize what I have, I can find it and use it.  You may have tried organizing, re-organizing and then re-organizing again.  By trying different strategies,  you realize that you are not having the success at finding what you need and having access to what you want.  Being organized with all your stuff is not the solution. It’s not enough to be more organized. It’s time to make a decision about what you have ( or what has you.). That’s when organizing is not enough.

 

Breaking through Just. In. Case

What’s holding you back from letting go? It’s a moment you need to come to terms with. Is it a financial, emotional, sentimental mindset. This is the motivation factor behind Marie Kondo’s Magic of Tidying Up. If you own something, it should bring you joy. Are you ready to accept that an items needs to go if it is not serving you or bringing you joy? Can you see a real spot for this item or imagine a specific way to use it? Dig deep and see what has a hold on you to hold onto your stuff. If you need motivation, it’s time to talk through your reluctance with others and get support. Blogs,books and podcasts give you new ideas and new ways to think about your stuff.  There’s no amount of organizing that can make up for necessary decluttering.

 

Getting stuff out to the universe.

Getting stuff out is a big step in your organizing journey. You have decluttered but your stuff sits in your car or on a step in your home for too long. All of a sudden you find yourself going back into those bags. Here’s where a team approach can really help. Find online resources who come to you or answer the call to leave items on your doorstep. Find a clutter buddy who also needs to drop off donations.  Use an app such as OfferUp, LetGo, or Freecycle.org to let go of your items.

 

Declutter regularly.

We know the culprits – a birthday, holiday, shopping trip or big event coming up. We know more is about to come in. Take this time as prime time to declutter. What we also know that decluttering is ongoing that is needed as routinely as brushing our teeth. Write in time on your calendar to commit to organizing.  Check here for answers to your decluttering questions.

The same applies to our paperwork. I have frequently heard, “I organized that file in 2010 and never looked in there again.” Get information on what to keep and how long to keep it. Then set up a daily triage, weekly admin time and annual file maintenance reminder on your calendar.

 

It’s a whole new way of thinking about organizing. When you know organizing is not enough, it’s a perspective change that changes everything about what you own. Your stuff no longer owns you. So long, saiyonara, and toodles!

 

Want an organizing and productivity boost each month?  Join my newsletter here.