Archive for the ‘Institute for Challenging Disorganization’ Category

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. 

 

 

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Now What? Compassion Fatigue

September 24, 2015
Senior Woman Being Served Meal By Carer

Senior Woman Being Served Meal By Carer

Last week I attended the Institute for Challenging Disorganization’s Annual Conference. It was a terrific conference! Many of my professional organizer friends from all over the world attend. It’s so great to be able to connect with them in person. The location of the conference varies from year to year. This year it was in Cleveland, Ohio. I, of course, went to the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame (that is a must see) and kayaking on the Cuyahoga River with 4 other conference attendees and a guide.

This conference is always jam packed with awesome speakers. I came home with my head spinning from all that I learned. I thought I’d take the next couple of weeks to share with you some of the golden nuggets of information that will definitely influence my professional organizing services.

Patricia Smith spoke to the group about how to recognize compassion fatigue and what to do about it. So, what is compassion fatigue? Patricia provided us with examples letting us know that someone suffering from compassion fatigue shows symptoms of physical, emotional or spiritual emptiness. This is not a disease but symptoms which are most often present in people who care for those who are in emotional or physical distress.

This is so interesting to me because as a professional organizer I work with people who are sometimes challenged by the enormity of their disorganization. I become deeply involved in helping my clients create solutions to overcome this challenge. Thus making me susceptible to compassion fatigue.

The many people who work as caretakers and constantly give of themselves are also susceptible to compassion fatigue. Caregivers give their time – often putting the needs of others before their own needs. Think about the parents you know. How many hats do they wear? What about nurses and home healthcare workers? The time and energy these marvelous caregivers give to their patients is enormous – perhaps beyond measure.

Patricia Smith taught us that to alleviate the symptoms of compassion fatigue we need to know ourselves. What makes us smile? What fills us up? We, as caregivers, must take care of our own needs in order to care as well as we want to for those for whom we give care. We should put in place a good support system – people we can talk to who will listen to us and our concerns and who will give us constructive advice.

For me, I have three hobbies in which I actively engage and which bring me joy. They fill me up, help to relieve any stress I may feel as a result of my work. These hobbies are gardening, needlepoint, and competitive ballroom dancing. The one I indulge in most often is dancing. I love the music, the physical and metal challenge involved in perfecting the steps I already know and in learning new steps.

Think about yourself. How well do you know yourself? Do you have someone to talk to – a good support system? Do you engage in activities which give you joy, replenish your soul?

What do you think about this topic of compassion fatigue? Do you know someone who may be exhibiting symptoms of compassion fatigue? Is that someone you? I’d love to hear your thoughts. There is more information about compassion fatigue on Patricia Smith’s website: www.compassionfatigue.org

“Focus on What’s Strong, Not What’s Wrong”

September 25, 2013

I attended a conference last week hosted by The Institute for Challenging Disorganization in Denver, Colorado. I go to this conference every year. This group, of which I’m a member, always gets fantastic speakers and this year was no exception. One of the speakers, Lee Shuer, gave us all the above quote during his presentation.

Don’t you think that if people in general would focus on what’s good and strong and think less about what’s wrong we’d all be a little more content? Think about it. As a student teacher I learned that if I wanted to get a classroom of six year olds to lower their voices I would have greater success if I complemented the children who were using ‘inside voices’. Using positive reinforcement worked like a charm! This technique works equally well with teenagers and adults. My mom used to say “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”. I, in turn, used to tell my children “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all’. I still believe this to be true and practice what I preach!

 It all boils down to the same thing, doesn’t it?  Saying something nice is just as easy as saying something nasty. It might take a little more thought and creativity to come up with the nicer comment as, it seems, the negative comments come so quickly to our lips.

Since this conference was attended by many professional organizers, therapists, coaches and related professionals this quote resonated with us all. It was good to be reminded to bring focus onto our clients’ strengths. Point out to them the things they are doing well. Teach them how to focus on their strengths. For anyone, focusing on what is done wrong only serves to depress or dishearten the individual. This is not to say that things don’t go wrong sometimes but dwelling on those things is counter-productive.  Learning to move on, letting the negative things be over and done, is a powerful skill.

When a client wants to work with me to de-clutter their home I ask them to describe how they want their home to look and feel. Then we review  their priorities. Finally, we create a plan and work methodically through the different spaces – celebrating each and every accomplishment. Together we focus on my client’s accomplishments, even the smallest step toward a stated goal. This enables the de-cluttering to move forward all the while positively reinforcing and teaching organizing skills.

 

Small Steps

June 11, 2013

This morning The Institute for Challenging Disorganization posted a comment on Facebook about setting a goal for the week and then breaking that goal down into small steps. One step to accomplish each day so that by the end of the week the goal will be reached.

I love this concept! It’s one of my favorites and one that I regularly teach my clients. Are you thinking to yourself that this is a very simple concept? Well, you are right. It is a simple concept but it’s also one that people tend to forget when faced with a goal that they’d like to reach but don’t have the time for it today.

Start by making your calendar your best friend. Think about the goal you have in mind. Then work backwards. What is the step you have to do just before reaching your goal? What is the step before that.. and so on until you arrive at the first step to take. Write the individual steps down. Then plot the steps into your calendar, actually schedule them into your day. If some of the steps take only a few minutes to complete you may be able to do more than one step in a session.

This process can be applied to just about any goal or project you can think up. Do you have summer reading to complete? I do. I’m studying for an exam which I’ll take in September at the Institute for Challenging Disorganization Conference. I have 5 books to read in order to prepare. I’ve already taken all the required classes. To get these books read, take notes and study them I have to plan ahead. Taking small steps, setting aside small amounts of time each day to read a few chapters at a time enables me to reach my goal.

Maybe you have a room in your house you’d like to reorganize. Take a look at the space. Decide how you want to use the room. The remove the items that don’t support your vision for the room. You can probably tell that a project like this will also involve decisions about what to keep and where to keep these things, what to donate and what to trash or recycle.

Maybe you have a smaller project like organizing a drawer. Whatever your project may be breaking it into small steps will help you reach your goal.

Are You Organized?

January 17, 2013

What does organized look like? I believe that being organized feels and looks different for everyone. Some people like having a little bit of clutter or disarray around. They are really O.K. with that. They know they are organized because they can find what they are looking for, the amount of clutter they allow to accumulate does not stress them out, and they feel in control of their environment. Other people get stressed when there are a few items lurking around without homes. These people like to have everything put away and do not allow any clutter to accumulate.

Part of my job as a professional organizer is to find out what organized looks like for each of my clients. Everyone of my clients has a unique definition. Helping each of my clients define organized and then working with them to achieve that sense and feeling of being organized is my passion.

This is not to say that you can work to become organized, achieve that feeling of being organized and then stop. Being organized is a constant work in progress. This is because life is constantly evolving. What works for you this month may not work for you next month.

Once you have your definition of being organized and you get organized then you have to have a strategy or system to maintain the organization. When your circumstances change or when life tosses you a challenge take a step back, reassess your defintion of organized and then work to achieve it again.

Here are a few tips to help you stay organized:
1. create a daily routine
2. Put things away when you are finished with them (later rarely happens)
3. Only have things in your home that you either love, use or both
4. If you don’t love an item or you don’t use it then let someone else have it!
5. Jump start your organizing process by hiring a professional organizer

Brain Dump?

September 25, 2012

Does your brain ever spin? You know, when you have so many thoughts and ideas swimming around inside that you haven’t a clue which one to attend to first? Well, that’s the way my brain feels today. I’ve just returned from a conference in Chicago sponsored by the Insitute for Challenging Disorganization. The speakers were simply outstanding!  Thankfully, the program book with the presenters’ handouts had room for me to take notes. Over the course of 4 days I attended the presentations, met with friends and reviewed the material presented. Now, it’s time for me to think about how this information applies to me and my business. Some of the material is simply awesome information to have and review from time to time. Other information can be directly applied to help me guide some of my clients (current and future) be better organized.

What do you do when your head is full of so many ideas? The routine I follow is to make a brain dump. That’s when I take out a pad of paper and a pen and write down all the ideas as they occur to me – in no particular order. Then when I’ve finished with this list I review the list and combine like ideas. This allows me to organize my thoughts. I can see which ideas naturally fit together and further see what I need to do to implement them. I’m thinking that I may need to tweak some of the forms I use and perhaps upgrade some of my methodologies.

Once I have an organized list I take out my calendar and start scheduling appointments with myself to work on these new ideas and skills. The good news is that I know if I follow my calendar these new ideas will be slowly incorporated into my business and will have a great impact!

If you have lots of ideas swirling in your mind… if your brain is spinning why don’t you try this strategy? I bet it will work for you as it does for me.

Overcoming Obstacles

September 19, 2012

I’m going to a conference in Chicago this week sponsored by the Institute for Challenging Disorganization. The title of the conference is: Overcoming Obstacles. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a member of the ICD and I am on the conference planning committee. My job as a member of the conference planning committee was to proof read the conference program book. So, I have read all the handouts from the various speakers! I am really looking forward to attending the presentations. The speakers are covering a fairly wide range of topics but each topic relates to an obstacle that many of us encounter daily. Here’s the presentation line up (courtesy of the Institute for Challenging Disorganization)

1. End Procrastination Now: Pause Ponder, Plan , Produce

2. Brain Injury and ADHD

3. Baby Steps – Radically Reducing Your Clients’ Time Clutter

4. Forgive For Good

5. Don’t Call Me Nuts! Beating the Stigma of Mental Illness

6. Walk in Their Shoes! (an experiential workshop that will give you new tools and a new appreciation of your elderly clients)

7. ADHD: What the Science Says

As a certified professional organizer specializing in chronic disorganization I am positive that each one of these presentations will provide me with new ways of approaching my work with clients. Are you wondering about the presentation on forgiveness? Well, think about this… many people blame themselves for the state of clutter or disorganization in their home and have a hard time moving past the blame. I am not a therapist but if I can have a few tips to present a client – different ways to look at the issue, perhaps I can refocus the client on the items to be organized.

Another huge benefit in attending this conference is networking with other professional organizers from around the world! Yes, I did say ‘around the world’. Last year, we had organizers from Japan, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada and the United States. It’s fascinating to hear (and learn) what obstacles organizers in different parts of the US encounter as organizing challenges as well as those from other countries.

My Journey

September 15, 2011

The journey I am going to tell you about is my experience in the Level III program to earn the designation CPO-CD with the Institute for Challenging Disorganization. You see, for the past year and a half I have been reading books, writing papers and studying to enhance my understanding of chronic disorganization. This knowldege serves to improve my ability to provide great organizational assistance to my clients challenged by chronic disorganization. Today my journey ended with a final exam. It was an oral exam. The people administering the exam were wonderful – friendly and encouraging. However; I am not at my best in situations like this. I’ll find out later if I passed the exam.

As I left the conference room and had a chance to think about it I realized that, no matter what the result, the past 18 months have provided me with an invaluable experience. The homework combined with work, family, and my volunteer activities taught me even better time management and prioritizing skills. The vast amount of learning which took place during the sessions with my program coach is priceless.

Many people  have written that often it is not as much about the result as the journey and what you learn during the process. Whether or not I receive that passing grade this journey is one I am so thankful to have taken.