How to Maximize Summer Organizing

Maximize summer organizing

 

Summer is often when our organizing intentions get momentum. There are fewer school responsibilities and daylight lasts longer.  Those organizing projects have been on our list for a while.  Here’s ways to tackle these projects, even before you start your organizing work.

 

List first

First you want to have a specific list of what you are planning to organize this summer. Capture your list as a dump first with brainstorming. All those ideas need a spot to prioritize. Your list will be the base of your project management.  The best project management assesses how much time, what resources are available, the budget and the team.  Now you are ready to determine what you will tackle.  It may not all get done this summer however you know what’s possible. If you are not sure what you want to organize, here’s ideas.

 

Timeline

Start your list before the end of May.  Your summer may be much busier than you originally had intended. With your list prepared, as well as your vacation schedule, you can realistically get moving on these projects.

 

Strategies

There are several ways to accomplish your summer organizing goals.

Chunking

Do you like to plan specific units to accomplish your goals?

  • You review your prioritized projects and allocate manageable units of time, the budget, or team members you have to work with to your organizing.
  • The value in this method is to know your plan and work steadily to accomplish your goal.

All day project

Do you have a large block of time and know this organizing is a priority for the fall?

  • Allocate a large amount of time to accomplish decluttering and setting up systems. Allocate resources for editing and removing items in order to proceed smoothly.
  • The value in this method is that before school resumes or the fall comes, your organizing will make a major impact on your life.

Team approach

Who can be your helper in organizing?  Create your team before you start on any project. The teams can work together or in a sequence.

  • Your team might be members of your support community or a paid professional.
  • A team can work in segments, either in sequence or simultaneously.

 

If you need Plan B, C or D

If your summer is business than you originally thought, or your budget is less than required, or you have no team to help you, there’s options!

  • Be sure you have trash and recycling out of the way.  That’s often clogging up your system.
  • Prioritize the one most important organizing task and accomplish that. A single success builds you up!
  • Host a one hour organizing party where your team either does the 27 fling boogie (edits 27 things, places in a bag, and places in a car.
  • Keep it real with a 15 minute Reset (where for 4 time slots your team moves items back to the spaces where they are stored.)
  • If your team doesn’t exist, pick up a new team with high school or college age kids who want to earn money this summer.

No matter your list or strategy, you will be thrilled you allocated energy and time to organizing this summer!

I am a Certified Professional Organizer

Certified Professional Organizer

 

Are credentials important to you?  My “initials” in instagram represent a credential that’s valued beyond measure to me.  My industry offers a gold standard for working with clients.  It’s called Certified Professional Organizer®, which I have been since the program began in 2007.  I am so proud of my CPO that I always share this credential in articles, speaking and blogging.

 

Credentials are earned by passing a test to show a base line level of knowledge.   The test includes questions about my job, called a job task analysis, to be sure what is being tested applies to the work I do. To sit for the test, there are a required number of hours with clients.

 

What is required for certification?

You might say it’s surprising that there is a certification for this work.  Most clients inquire about how long I have been in business rather than the education or testing done.  Certification includes earning over 1250 hours in working with clients and passing a test over a body of knowledge for working in this field.  This credential is offered by the Board of Certification for Professional Organizers®.  There are a little over 350 CPOs globally. It’s an elite group!

 

Here’s more facts about my certification.

It’s more than passing a test! It’s about maintaining your education  with continuing education.

  • Every three years I recertify by earning 45 or more continuing education units.  I just recertified with 127 CEUs. I take classes to make a difference with you as my client and stay on top of industry and professional trends. We recertify every three years.  This is the year of my recertification.
  • I am bound by an enforceable Code of Ethics.
  • Certificates are not the same as certification. I also hold certificates of study in ADHD and chronic disorganization, as well as specialist certificates in life transitions and workplace productivity.
  • The CPO is the only certification endorsed by the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO).

 

Why certification matters

Certified Professional Organizers are committed to experience, education and ethics.  That’s who I want to work with when I am choosing a professional too!

 

 

ADHD and Tracking Tasks

 

ADHD and tasks

Is your mind is swirling with ideas? Are there so many projects you would like to do, but they are all running together? Perhaps there are also lots of small but very important unrelated tasks, which never seem to be at the top of your list. You’re not sure what to do or where to keep your tasks and ideas.  You need a task list or tracking tool to capture this.

According to ADDitude Magazine, “personal productivity is not a matter of coming up with ideas for what to do. The problem lies with poor sense of time and inability to gauge how long it will take to complete a given task. Then there’s trouble with setting priorities, and tendency to get distracted and forget what we were trying to do.”  If you are ADHD and struggle with getting tasks done, you may need some strategies that help you prioritize and focus. Here is a list of some ideas that can help you get more done in your week.

 

Capture your tasks and ideas

  • Be sure to list all your tasks in one place. This can be on paper or in technology.  The list starts with just a brain dump, getting everything out of your head.  This step makes the biggest difference in clarity!
  • Paper options are a post it notes, simple notebook or TUL notebook.  Date the top of each page as a reference for yourself later.
  • There’s tech tools too! Favorites include Evernote and Trello. Not only can you capture your ideas and tasks, you can track your progress with each.
  • Choose just 3 Most Important Tasks (MITs) for you complete.  Prioritizing these 3 MITs can be difficult. However, any 3 completed are 3 less tasks to do.

Tips and tasks

  • Set a timer to get started on your tasks.  Initiation, that is just getting started, can be your biggest challenge.
  • Give yourself ample time to complete a task. If you think it will take 10 minutes, give yourself 30 minutes. It may take up to 3 times longer for completion.  Give yourself some “warm up” time too.  That is about 10 minutes to get oriented. Prioritize and get into the mindset of the work at hand.
  • Find someone to assist  you with verbal processing.  Verbal processing is talking the ideas that are swirling in your head.  “Talking”  through the work is a processing tools for you. It helps you be aware of what is most important and cull out the first action step.
  • Get started with a body double. Ths is a person who is with you, virtually or in person, to just be in the moment with you. The person is just there, not giving you advice or being an expert, just in the space with you.

Set a great foundation

  • Know how important self care is and practice it. We all work much better with a good night’s sleep and good lean protein in our diet. Be sure you are at your best to get your best work done.
  • Track your tasks either each evening before you head out, each morning before you start off and weekly with a weekly planning time.

What’s most important is to choose a tool that will work for you!  If it’s paper or digital, choose what’s easier to use reguarly.

 

Need more task tips?  Join my newsletter here.

When Life Throws You a Curve Ball (Decluttering After A Flood)

#KingwoodStrong

 

When life throws you a curve ball, you learn to organize the balls!  When you are going through a crisis, such as our recent flood, your resilience comes into play. There may be a continuum of coping mechanisms. Your response to the situation can be a range of emotions.  Here’s a bit of what you might be feeling, doing and experiencing when decluttering after an unexpected situation such as recent flooding.   This is a continuation of life in Kingwood after the 2017 flood, better known as #KingwoodStrong.

Going through the initial decluttering experience

When you’re going through a flood, there were most likely people helping you.  People showed up to support and encourage you. However, you’re in such a state of shock and so overwhelmed you may not be aware of what is being let go of.  The goal seems to be to just get rid of things.  There’s a lot of damage to your stuff and your property and you are not sure of what to let go of. Those around you may be more sure in their minds.

 

Sorting and triaging

In this next phase, you’re trying to triage what’s left. You remember you had some things, however you question if these items are still here.  At this point you are assessing what do you have. Your emotions center on a combination of loss and gratitude.  It’s time to organize what you have.  You keep hold of what you have, knowing it’s all you have.

 

Assessing

In this step,  you are wondering about what to keep now that you have less.  Why do I have any keep things even if they’re damaged or broken or stains? Perhaps you think,  “at least I have this.”  You may be packing up your home for repairs and think I still have a lot or I don’t have much.  It’s when real perspective change happens.

 

Final steps

The final steps may occur when your home is complete or you have decided to move to a new home.  The final steps start when you are making plans for your new home.  The refreshing change you make is that you are now looking ahead. It’s time to assess what will be in your new space.  You take a deep breath and are ready to make important decision.  You realize that you can start to let things go again that don’t have a space, don’t serve you well or you are ready for someone else to benefit from the items.

 

Living in a flooded community, if you did not flood

I must add a short passage for those who did not flood and supported others.  Your compassion and empathy make a difference for those who flood. As you support others in this experience, you are learning and assessing as well.  While you did not experience loss, you may feel that now is the best time to declutter given it could have been you.  Seize the opportunity while you are motivated to declutter and donate.

 

It’s a multiple step process in decluttering and organizing after an unexpected situation, such as a flood.  You will learn so much about yourself, your partners, your family and your community.  Stay strong, stay connected and seek support as needed.  In my work with clients throughout the flood saga, our main focus is support.  There’s much work to be done after 6 months post flood.  #KingwoodStrong

 

Want to be prepared just in case? Here’s how to create a home inventory for emergency preparedness.

Why is it so hard to let go of stuff?

 

The statistics say it all. Perhaps we have a problem with keeping too much stuff?

  •  In the U.S., 65% of self-storage renters have a garage in their home, 47% have an attic, and 33 percent have a basement. This suggests that Americans have more things than their homes allow them.
  • Over the past 40 years, the self-storage industry has proven to be the one of the sectors with the most rapid growth in the U.S commercial real estate industry.
  • While 92 % of homeowners surveyed described their home as somewhat or very organized, one fourth of them admitted embarrassment with the garage and nearly one third said they keep their garage door shut so others won’t see the mess.
  • The average size of the American home has nearly tripled in size over the past 50 years.

General reasons

There’s a problem with letting go of our stuff.  In working with my clients, I find that there are typically 6 reasons why it’s hard to let go of stuff.

  • Financial reasons hold people back.  I could be that we purchased an item and we have not used it. Maybe it’s the clothes with tags on them in your closet or the beany babies that could be sold.  If we think it’s valuable, we postpone the decision of decluttering since we are not sure to sell it or give it away.
  • Attachments and sentimental reasons make decisions difficult.  The item represents something special about a person, like your grandmother’s silver tea set.  Will you be a “bad” parent if you throw away some of your child’s artwork?  Are you the “caretaker” of your family legacy by holding onto your mom’s paperweight collection and can’t let it go?  There’s feelings of guilt, shame, and vulnerability that are a part of the sentimental reasons that hold you back.  In addition there’s grief bound up in our attachments. Loss can look like unemployment, divorce, broken relationships.  Grief holds us back in paralyzing our decisions.
  • With brain based conditions, such as ADHD, clutter can be paralyzing.  In the ADHD brain, it’s hard to limit the amount of stuff and all things have possibility. There’s perfectionism and the thought there is the perfect system which eludes you.  Because of working memory challenges, ADHD causes you to keep stuff just to remember about it.  There’s impulsive purchases and difficulty prioritizing. Not only is accumulating clutter a challenge, but also the decisions to let stuff go is hard.
  • We are busy! There’s seldom a time we have free time or will get around to organizing.  It’s a low priority because we want to spend time doing what we love and with people we love. It’s easy to procrastinate about letting go and decluttering because we have so much to do each day.
  • There are skills that we might not know to organize. Perhaps your family was not organized and you lived in much clutter.  Do you wonder what papers to keep and what to let go of? Does everything have a “home”? Are items grouped together that are used together? There are key concepts to being organized.
  • We attach our dreams to our stuff. We think we might have a special tea with our daughter and need those tea cups.  Our family will be eating a special dinner together on each of those sets of dishes.

There’s a shift going on, however.  Essentialism, minimalism, relationships, and experiences are becoming the norm.  Americans are re-prioritizing.  The book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up is a best seller.

  • There’s many ways to recoup some of the money you spent. While you can’t recoup it all,  there are many ways to sell your items. There’s Facebook sales and NextDoor to sell items to your neighbors. There are consignment shops of all types.  In terms of donations, you can make a list and use this for a tax deduction.
  • Is it time to process and find new perspectives about your emotional attachments and how let go of stuff?  Without processing or new awareness about an attachment, we can get stuck.  We can process with a professional organizer, coach, therapist or non-judgemental friend.  How we process can make a difference. We can talk through the challenges, tell the story of the item, and acknowledge. As Brene Brown talks about in Daring Greatly, we can have a small ceremony or share a story about your stuff.
  • Learn more about ADHD and other brain conditions to know what organizing is difficult.  On ADDitudemag.com there are webinars, blogs and articles on decluttering. The book ADD Friendly Ways to Organize offers many ways to learn about ADHD and clutter.  Podcasts such as Taking Control with Niki Kinzer offers support, tools and community for ADHD.
  • We have to set a time to organize and set a time to organize routinely. Organizing moves up in priority this way.  Write in on your calendar or set a digital date to declutter.
  • What’s the best way for you to learn skills? Is it working alongside a professional organizer? Is it reading a book?  Choose what’s best for you to learn and practice.
  • Start a new awareness of why you have what you have.  You might notice how many of an item you have which might lead you to think about what you are purchasing.  Spend time assessing.

 

Think about your home, your energy and your vision of your life. Is it time to assess your stuff?

 

Click here to view the CBS Sunday Morning show, Clean Sweep.

 

More tips and tricks on decluttering here!

This is why following through on the Organizing Continuum helps you live the life you imagined!

organizing

 

Getting organized is a continuum, a work in progress,  a journey not a destination, and a learning experience. In my work with clients, I see that there is a definite starting place for my clients that begins with organizing skills and new perspectives. Clients learn basic skills to help them get organized and be productive.  I coach them to see new perspectives about themselves, their stuff and their time.  I am thrilled to acknowledge their gains as they progress through the organizing continuum.  If you are new to organizing, here’s how the continuum progresses. The time for the continuum depends on you.

 

Everything needs a place

It’s the basis of all organizing. It’s the age old adage, a place for everything and everything in it’s place.  All the items in your home or office need a specific spot.  That’s where they are located, put back and retrieved when used.  The first step in getting organized is having a place for everything. Yes, EVERYTHING. You can start by assigning a function to each room, what you need to do that action, the items needed, and then the storage of the items.  Overall, each item will have a home and a place as a result.

 

Everything needs a time to attend to it

Not only does everything need a place, everything needs a time for it to be worked on, worked with or returned to it’s spot.  You make breakfast, retrieve dishes and cookware, wash it and return it to where it was placed.  If you are doing your taxes, you need to gather documents, work on them, then store these whether paper or digital.  When you work, you go to your digital documents, work, and save it to a digital spot.  All things, papers, or digital documents need time to work the work and store appropriately.

 

There’s a place for your stuff, however it’s not worth the time to attend to it.

This is when your discerning decluttering really kicks into gear.  It’s not that you don’t have space for an item, how important is it to spend time getting it to where the place is? How many do you have already or do you need? Our time is the most valuable commodity we have and we can let go of items just so it’s not as time consuming to put them away.

It’s not valuable enough to find the space for it.

Here’s where you begin to assess a “just in case” perspective. Is the possibility of use a good enough reason to keep an item? The Minimalists have this perspective.  If it costs less than $20, and you can get it in 20 minutes, do you need it in your home or office?  Finding the value of keeping an item helps you move forward in this continuum.  It’s about prioritizing your time and space.

 

There are many easier ways to find the stuff you need.

You have wrangled your stuff to get it stored and put away. Now you realize that there are many easier ways to find what you need, whether it is stuff, information or paper. You are entering the continuum where you start releasing more and bringing in less to your home and office.

 

Living with less is rewarding.

Life is feels less overwhelming, more about experiences, and you are living the life you imagined.

 

Organized and stay organized.

Your life is about living, not about stuff. You stay organized because you know what is important to have and what to release.  Congratulations on accomplishing the real goal of being organized!

 

Sharing this continuum helps you start on your organizing and productivity journey!

Here’s more posts to help you too!

And join my newsletter to start on your organizing continuum.

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

 

 

 

 

The Secret of How a Reset Helps You be More Organized

reset your home, office and life

 

Days and weeks take a toll on our organization and productivity. We work hard and play hard. Some times our organization suffers because we are too busy.  That’s why a reset can make a difference.

 

What’s a reset?

By definition a reset is when you get back to your baseline, get started fresh and get back in order.  It is typically a verb that shows the action of placing back. It means to move (something) back to an original place or position. However, let’s think of it as noun to help you restore order.

 

When do I reset?

It’s a best practice to reset daily and weekly.  A daily reset is getting your bags emptied and reorganized, your kids’ backpacks uncluttered, and  your clothes in a hamper or hung up.  Each evening take 5 minutes (with your family) to reset your home. That is to restore order to important bags, spaces and spots to have a fresh start for the next day. A list can help you be sure you reset all the areas that are important to you.

 

Make your your week starts with a weekly home reset ion Sunday. It’s your preparation for having a great week.  Take 30 minutes to check your calendar for the week so you know what’s ahead..

 

A weekly office reset is best on Friday.  At this time you are most in touch with your projects and tasks. Capture information, get your desk back in order, create files for loose papers and tidy up your space at this time.

 

What else is behind a reset?

In the book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explains small changes in behavior and the impact. With a reset, you are applying the science of change to your life in a way that can make every day better. Life with new habits requires reminders and practice. Build in support for this new habit with baby steps, attaching your reset to an existing habit, and acknowledging how important can be for you.

 

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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.

 

Join my newsletter for loads of fresh spring ideas.