Archive for the ‘choice’ Category

Home?

February 23, 2017

House on wooden floor , home concept

What does this word mean to you? For me, it is more than a place. It is a feeling of belonging. A feeling that I am safe and at peace inside this place. I have moved many times to three completely different countries and to two very different regions within the United States of America and yet I’ve been able to create a home for me and my family in each spot.

So, I ask again, what does home mean to you? Is it the home in which you grew up? Will that place always represent home to you? If it does, do you also have a home in which you live most of the time?

Here’s another question for you to ponder: what does your childhood home contain that makes it feel so much like home? My childhood home is now someone else’s home. Whenever I went back to visit my mother it was the scent of her perfume that brought memories flooding back for me. Also, my mother was there. We would spend time together reminiscing. The other thing that made my childhood home so special to me was the familiar furnishings: photos, paintings, and furniture.

When we sold my mother’s house (my childhood home) I was able to keep a few of the items that meant something to me. I do mean only a few. I incorporated them into my décor so that I have a little bit of my childhood home mixed in with my adult home.

Do you want your home to contain a few memories? Would you prefer to create your own memories and leave your childhood home behind?

If you choose to bring some of the furnishings from your childhood home into your current home be selective. Be sure to ask your partner, if you have one, if they agree with your choices. One thing is for sure, you do not want to create additional clutter in your home simply because you want to bring part of the past into your present.

Ask yourself these questions:

1.       Does this bring back a special memory?

2.       Do I love it?

3.       Will this add to the overall atmosphere of my home?

4.       Will this fit in?

5.       Does it have a purpose?

If you can answer more than one of these questions positively then by all means bring some of your childhood home into your current home.

If you need to create the feelings of safety and peace inside your home take a look around and ask yourself what is bothering you about your home.

1.       Are things out of place?

2.       Do you know how to put your belongings away?

3.       Can you find what you are looking for?

4.       Do you have to do a major clean up before inviting someone over?

If you need to create order in your home so that it will be your place of refuge take the time to figure out where you want to start.

Please write back and let me know what home means to you. Let me know if I can help you in your quest to make your house feel like your home.

 

How to Say ‘No’ Nicely

January 25, 2017

An organizing friend of mine, Andi Willis, wrote a beautiful blog this week about giving herself Grace. It is a wonderful essay on the ability to be kinder to ourselves. We (many of us women) set high standards for ourselves and do not cut ourselves any slack.

I want to piggy back on this thought and talk about our ability to say ‘No’. I don’t know about you but most times when I’m asked to do something I typically say ‘Yes’ even when in my heart I want to say ‘No’. Does this ever happen to you? I get guilted into taking on projects that I know I’m going to carve time out to complete – time that I would prefer to set aside for an activity of my choosing. I hate to let people down and so will agree to take on the project even when I know it means postponing something else. Other times I get complimented into a task. Someone will say ‘you did such a good job organizing …(fill in the blank) please will you volunteer your time organizing… for us?’ It’s really hard to say no under those circumstances!

I’ve learned that saying ‘No’ selectively can be a form of self-care. It allows me the space to choose the activities to dedicate my time to.

Because saying ‘No’ is a very hard thing for me to do I’ve recently come up with some strategies to allow myself the time and space to say ‘No’ gracefully. These are not by any means new and different strategies. I think we’ve probably all used them at one time or another. I put them together and have multiple copies in strategic places so that I can refer to them when I’m put on the spot and can’t think of the best response.

I have one copy on a bulletin board in my office, another copy in my planner, and a third copy digitally in the notes section of my phone.

1.       Let me check my calendar and I’ll get back to you on ..(when you get back to the person you can say) I’m sorry, I’m not available.

2.       I’m not able to take on any more projects right now. Please feel free to contact me another time.

3.       As much as I would really like to be able to help you with … this is something I’m not comfortable tackling at this time.

Having these phrases handy has helped me better protect my time. They help me say ‘No’ without negativity.

Is saying ‘No’ a problem for you? How have you handled it? Write me back and let me know!

 

Hand writing Time To Say NO concept with red marker

 

 

 

Limits?

January 11, 2017

 

Scattered clothes

Happy New Year! I’m so happy to be starting this New Year by writing a blog to share with you. I’ve been thinking a lot about limits recently and why it’s important to know what your personal limits are.

This has come up because some of my clients have had trouble determining how much is enough.

We all have physical limits that are pre-determined by the home in which we live. The closets and cupboards can create limits for us if we let them. However, we sometimes (and yes – I am including myself in this discussion) cram things into these spaces thinking that we can ‘make room’.

I have found that the best way to ‘make room’ is to remove everything from the cupboard or closet and only return those items which you absolutely KNOW that you use and/or love. The temptation is to push things around or to restack everything inside the closet or cupboard because it does take time to completely empty the space and make those decisions.

How does knowing your limit apply here? Well, if you’re headed out to go shopping and you come across a dress or a new platter and you know that your cupboard or closet is full and that you’ve reached the limit of what the space will contain easily. It’s easier to say to yourself something like “I know that if I bring something more into this space I will be removing things that I don’t use or love – do I want it badly enough to reorganize the space or can I decide not to bring it into my home”.

We also have physical limits in terms of what we can physically do. I can’t lift very heavy weights. I know not to try to lift something really heavy because I will end up hurting myself and I definitely don’t want to do that.

Can you change your physical limits? Sure, through diet and exercise or through modifications you may be able to change some things. For instance, I love to walk and I walk at a pretty fast pace. One of my friends walks with me sometimes. I used to have to slow my pace to accommodate my friend. Since we’ve been walking together regularly his pace has picked up and he can walk farther before asking that we turn around. His limit has increased.

We also have spending limits. Do you want to incur more debt to buy this one item or do you have enough at home? Is it necessary to spend this money or can you make the decision to tell yourself ‘not now’. Knowing your spending limits is key. How do you do this? You create a budget and check it regularly.

Another way to curb your spending is to only carry cash. I know it’s inconvenient but it is effective. Without a credit or debit card in your wallet you have to be mindful of your spending limit. I have more about the benefits of carrying cash in my book: Now What? A Simple Organizing Guide.

I talk to my clients about the physical limits their homes provide regularly and ask them to think about how much is enough. What number of ….(you can fill in the blank) makes sense?

Ask yourself this question and see if it helps you set limits within your home. Maybe you’ve already set limits for yourself? I’d love to hear about your limits and if the question: How much is enough makes sense to you.

woman is holding bill and credit card in hands

Happiness is…?

October 19, 2016

2015 05 beautiful roses

At the end of September I had the privilege of attending a conference run by a group to which I belong: The Institute for Challenging Disorganization. I love this conference. In fact I love it so much that I decided to demonstrate that by chairing the conference in 2017! But I digress.

One of our speakers was a young woman, Ayla Lewis, who spoke to us about the power of positive thinking and happiness. Her presentation was well thought out, fun, and interactive. Ayla had a marvelous way of engaging the audience to teach the concepts she was presenting.

Many of the concepts presented were not new to me and I’m sure not new to many of us there. However; Ayla included scientific information to substantiate these concepts. It was fascinating.  

So, what is happiness? Ayla told us that happiness is a choice. I believe this to be true. I’m one who likes to look at a glass and say that it is half full rather than half empty. I’m always looking for the positive spin and am generally happy. Or should I say content.

We were told that no one is always happy. We have moments of happiness. It’s more important and better for us if we often experience small moments of happiness rather than striving for that one big fleeting moment to be happy. Have you ever heard someone say ‘I’ll be happy after I …’ or perhaps ‘I’ll be truly happy when I’ve …’ I have heard people say things like that and wondered if they ever had those moments of happiness. And how long the happiness lasted.

Ayla advised us to use journaling to record the brief happy moments that occur during the day. She asked us to write down three things daily. If you’re looking for the small things I’m sure any one of us could find way more than three things to write down.

Let me tell you a little story. I attended a wedding last weekend in Connecticut. An adorable three year old little girl was the flower girl.  She made many of us smile as she ran down the aisle in church during the rehearsal. When she got up to the altar she turned around and faced those of us sitting in the pews, sat down, and just started swinging her legs. She looked like she was waiting there to watch the show begin. She was happy in that moment. And those of us watching her chuckled and were happy too!

Ayla encouraged us to take those moments and savor them. This is happiness. It is something that comes and goes. Celebrate – really be happy – live in those moments when they arrive. It’s ok, in fact, natural, not to be happy 24/7. Acknowledge and experience  other emotions. Then welcome the happy moments as they occur.     

I’ll tell you what makes me happy. Working in my garden, successfully completing a series of dance steps with my partner, getting a phone call from one of my children, getting together with a friend, seeing that a client has maintained the organization, making progress on my needlepoint canvas – all these things create moments of happiness for me.

What makes you happy? Write me back and let me know. 

 

 

Free To Be …

July 6, 2016

In light of recent Independence Day celebrations I just wanted to take this opportunity to let you know how thankful I am to be a citizen of the United States of America.

Yes, I was born here. However; I am very aware of the freedoms that we have as I spent a number of years living overseas in Asia. We are able to travel freely across the continental United States and to Alaska and Hawaii. We can speak our minds and not be worried we might be overheard, misunderstood, and taken off to jail or worse. We can practice our own religions or not – it’s our choice. We can change religions or not. We are free to do as we choose – as long as we are not disrupting the peace or breaking any stated law. We are very lucky.

I do not take these freedoms for granted and am very thankful and appreciative of all those men and women who choose to serve in our armed forces to insure that we in the United States continue to enjoy these freedoms.

I choose to celebrate these freedoms by mindfully acknowledging that if I am awarded these freedoms by living here in the United States of America then all those living here with me are also awarded the same freedoms.

I believe that by acknowledging and celebrating the differences between us, learning about the ways in which we are the same and the ways in which we differ, brings a wealth to each one of us. We can learn about other customs, other ways of dress, different religions, other foods and let our lives be enriched through these discoveries.

These are the things that make our country great. Letting each of us be free to be who we are not forcing anyone of us to follow a certain path just because that’s the way it is – without the freedom to choose.

I am a Christian, a mother to two children, a certified professional organizer, a certified professional organizer in chronic disorganization, an author, a speaker, a gardener, a ballroom dancer, an animal lover, a nature lover, a baker and more. These are some of the things that define me. Things I love about me.

Who are you free to be? IMG_0754

What Do You Model?

April 20, 2016

 

Fashion kid concept - beautiful stylish little cute girl child w

No, I’m not asking if you model clothes or if you are featured in magazines. I’m more interested in what behavior you model for the people in your life.

Oh, do I have your attention? Have you ever heard the expression “monkey see, monkey do”? Well this expression describes what often happens. Think about the people in your life who you admire. Do you copy some of the things they do or say? For instance, if someone you admire says ‘I like ….’ (you can fill in the blank) I think you might be inclined to agree with them. Also, if a person I admire says ‘I’m trying to live a healthier lifestyle. So, I’m going to join a fitness club. Do you want to join with me?’ I would probably say ‘sure! I’ll give it a try!’ I’d be doing that because I like and admire the person and want to copy some of the things they do. How about you? What would you do?

Now, think about yourself. Do you have children? What do you do that they might copy? Remember children will copy the good and the not so good behaviors. They are watching you and reading your body language for clues all the time.

If you say ‘Oh, no! There’s so much dusting to do. I hate dusting.’ Then you turn around and say ‘I don’t think I’m going to do that today.’ You teach your children the language to use when they don’t feel like doing something. Conversely, if you say ‘there’s so much dusting to do! I’m going to do a little now and a little later to break it up.’ You model negotiating behavior. You let them know that there’s a lot but that it’s doable by breaking it down into more than one session dusting. The time will come when you ask them to take out the trash (or some other task) and they could say ‘I don’t feel like doing that right now’ or they could negotiate and say ‘how about if I take it out after I finish my homework’.

If you leave your clothes on the floor or draped over furniture and then tell your children to put their clothes away you are giving them the message ‘do as I say, not as I do’.

Think about the behaviors you would like to see in your children. Do you want them to become accustomed to leaving glasses and dishes in their room or do you want them to clear their dishes and glasses to the kitchen sink when they’re finished with them? Maybe even put them into the dishwasher?

Do you want them to leave their shoes laying around the house or is there a place in their closet for their shoes? What about your shoes? Do you leave them where they fall when you kick them off at the end of the day? Or do you kick them off, pick them up and carry them with you to your closet?

Think about the modeling you do now and let me know if you think you want to model some things a little differently or not.

 

 

Organizing Your Pantry

April 6, 2016

pantry

Last week I talked about the benefits and drawbacks of buying groceries and household supplies in bulk. This week I want to talk about the pantry. What happens in your house when you bring the groceries home? Do you have specific places – shelves or cupboards – for specific sorts of non-perishable groceries?

Sometimes putting away groceries is a free for all. Things are just randomly put away. This makes it very difficult to know what you have and where it is. When things are just randomly put away it’s hard to just glance over to a shelf or into a cupboard to find the particular item you’re looking to find.

So, what can you do to have an organized pantry?

Recognize that this is a choice. You have to decide that you want to know what is in your pantry. There are some good reasons for making this choice and for cultivating the habit of keeping your pantry organized.

When your pantry is organized you know what you have and you will not wonder what is lurking in the back of your shelves so you will save money by not buying duplicates.

An added benefit is that when you plan your meals it will be easy to spot what ingredients you already have – saving you time. You won’t have to hunt through the shelves to figure out whether or not you have the necessary ingredients. You’ll simply be able to look in the spot where the required ingredients are kept.

Here are some simple steps to take to create an organized pantry.

  1. Empty all your shelves
  2. Toss expired foods
  3. Donate out food (that is not expired that you know you won’t eat)
  4. Sort like with like:
    1. Cans together
    2. Baking supplies together
    3. Condiments – oils and vinegars
    4. Snack food
    5. Cereal & breakfast foods
    6. Nuts
    7. Grains
    8. Pasta
    9. Anything else you can think of
  5. Look at your shelves
  6. Decide what you want to have within easy reach & what can go out of the way
  7. Decide if you want containers (you may want to empty bags of sugar, flour, rice, pasta into airtight containers to keep them fresh)
  8. Wipe down the shelves
  9. Label the shelves – even sections of a shelf – so that everyone in the home will know where to put each category
  10. Put everything away

 

I hope this helps you keep your pantry organized

Baby Steps?

January 20, 2016

 

First steps

I wrote last week about taking small steps toward your stated goal. But, why take small steps? Why not just dive in and really make an impact? The reason is simply if you want to make lasting change, to create a new habit, the best way to do so is by being gentle with yourself and implementing the change over time.

Taking small steps allows your body and mind to get used to a shift in the pattern. Your inner voice might talk to you and say something like ‘this isn’t so bad, next time let’s do a little more’. Then you take the next step forward, pause, let yourself become accustomed to this new way before adding the next incremental level.

If you take huge steps you shock yourself and that’s not particularly friendly. Let’s say, for example, that you decided that you want to get more exercise and made a plan to workout at your local fitness center. You go for the first time and workout on the machines without regard to the amount of repetitions you’re doing or the weight you’re lifting. You go home and collapse on the couch. Every muscle in your body is sore. Do you think you’re going to want to go back? I don’t!

It’s better to start slowly. Lift light weights (or medium weights) and only do a few repetitions of each exercise. Then you’ll feel great and have more energy to proceed with the rest of your day. And you’ll want to go back. That’s what we’re looking for – the desire to continue to make a new habit (going to the gym, getting exercise on a regular basis)!

To update you on how I’m doing setting Monday aside working on my business housekeeping – it’s a bit of a struggle to not assign an errand or two to the empty space of Monday morning. So, I’m taking my own advice and starting slowly. I’m allowing myself to do 1 very necessary errand on Monday. Only 1.

How are you doing? Are you sticking to your plan? Is it hard? Have you compromised a little? Write me back I’d love to know!

 

Do You Have Time?

February 25, 2015

Do you wonder how some people seem to have more time in their day? You know, these are the people who accomplish many of their tasks during the day. They plow through their ‘to-do’ lists and still have time to exercise or relax over lunch with a friend.

Other people struggle to get even two items crossed off their ‘to-do’ list. Why is this? We all have the same number of hours in each day to use so why is it that some people accomplish more in the same amount of time?

I think we’re all so busy – our days are jam packed full – that we forget to stop and ask ourselves is this the best use of my time right now. When you ask yourself that question you might be surprised at the answer you give yourself.

Perhaps, instead of spending your time running a quick errand now you can combine that errand later in the day with picking the children up from school. Then, you’ll have time now to work on the project at home that you’d like to complete by the end of the month.

Maybe, you’re hosting the book club at your house later this week. What do you need to do to get ready for this event? Take a few minutes to write down all the small steps to take to make your home ready to welcome your friends. Then, schedule in your calendar to take care of these small steps. You’ll be much more relaxed and ready to talk about the book if you take the time to prepare yourself in advance.

Doing small tasks because you think you should be doing something is not always the best use of time. Take time to think about the things that matter most to you. What is really important to accomplish? Write it down. What are the small tasks that you can do – a little here and there? Write them down. Now get out your calendar and plan your time accordingly.

Before you know it you’ll be one of those people who get all the ‘to-dos’ on their ‘to-do’ list done!

For more tips on managing your time check out my book: Now What? A Simple Organizing Guide

Choices

January 18, 2012

Choices… we all make countless choices everyday. Some choices we make without even realizing that we are, in fact, doing so. Are you scratching your head trying to figure out what I might be referring to? I am talking about the unconscious choice a person makes when she walks past something that really should be either thrown out (recycled), put away, or dealt with in some fashion. When this happens it’s as if she has blinders on and really does not see these things that are out of place. Since this is the eighth year that NAPO (the National Association of Professional Organizers) has promoted January as the month to ‘Get Organized’ some people have made the choice to take a more active role in making that happen in their offices and homes. One choice you can make is to open your eyes and take a good look at what you have around you. Let’s say there are a few things in the kitchen that don’t belong. Maybe there are some papers to be filed, a book that should be returned to the library, and a pair of shoes. As you go on your way through the kitchen move the papers near the filing cabinet, put the book in a tote bag and leave it near the door so that you take it with you when you next leave the house (don’t forget to schedule a stop at the library), and deposit the shoes in the bedroom closet. You don’t have to do it all at once! In fact, you could have a basket in which you collect things that don’t belong. Then, when you have a few free minutes each day, make a choice to deal with the things in the basket. Decide to add organizing to your daily routine! Every little bit helps. Part of my routine is to take a few minutes at the end of everyday to organize my desk. I file loose papers, put away information I have pulled during my day and leave my desk tidy – ready for the next day. This really helps me stay on top of all the things I  have to do.Think about the choices you make each day, will you make some different choices in an effort to be more organized this year?