Posts Tagged ‘Institute for Challenging Disorganization’

Now What? Are you forgetful?

September 30, 2015
Retiree and senior care assistant talking together

Retiree and senior care assistant talking together

Are you forgetful? Do you forget where you have left your keys, your wallet or your handbag? Do you walk into a room and forget why you went into that room? Do you remember a person’s face, know that you have met them but don’t know their name? These are memory lapses that happen to all of us from time to time. If they happen regularly then you might start thinking about being tested.  Have you ever wondered what it would feel like if you were diagnosed with either Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease? I have. My memory is something that I pride myself on. These diseases scare me. Do they scare you? Do you know someone with one or the other of these diagnoses?

I had the privilege of attending the Institute for Challenging Disorganization conference in Cleveland, Ohio earlier in September. One of the speakers, Margit Novack, gave a presentation titled: Still Someone: Working with People Who Have Memory Loss. It was a terrific talk and gave countless tips on the ways to help who are no longer as in control and adept as used to be.

Here are a few of Margit’s handy tips:

  1. Make lists – keep them short
  2. Post frequently called numbers by the phone
  3. Create detailed schedules to let the individual know exactly what’s going on during the day
  4. Include the individual in the conversation
  5. Don’t talk about them as if they aren’t there
  6. As much as possible allow them to make the decisions
  7. Speak loudly, clearly and slowly but not condescendingly
  8. If the person is telling a story don’t interrupt and don’t correct them – even if a few of the details are wrong!

Margit also told us that it’s so important for the seniors in our care (whether you are a professional organizer, a home healthcare worker, a therapist or a family member) to give the person as much control as possible. This helps to build their confidence and self-esteem. We can take a few extra minutes and make another list or explain something again or even listen to the same story again. After all, we may be there ourselves one day and will want someone helping us to be kind and respectful.

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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.

 

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