Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Photos and Mementos Link

If you are struggling to manage photos and mementos, I suggest you hop over to Org Junkie. This month Laura is dedicating to organizing photographs and keepsakes. These items are always a challenge for clients - they are even a challenge for me. She has recently collected a series of helpful links and resources.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Organizing to Maintain your Sanity - 5 Enjoy being Organized

You are looking at the title of this post and thinking to yourself "OK, Carolyn has lost it. Why would I go to all this work if I don't enjoy being organized?"

Because people organize themselves for all kinds of reasons. Some of us like to be more in control of those parts of our lives that our within our control. Some of us are responding to the pressure from our spouses, our kids or - yup, even when in your own home - our parents. Some of us get ourselves reasonably well organized and then feel uncomfortable; its as if the clutter around us fills a void left by something else.

Whatever your motivation for organizing might be, a higher level of organization, supported by a daily 15 to 45 minute ritual as I presented in items 1 to 4, will help you spend time pursuing those goals that are really important to you rather than managing around, through, between, over or even under clutter.

So now that your home is in pretty organized shape, sit back and think about all the things you can focus on now rather than what you "should" be doing about the clutter. You've done it. Move on. In fact, you don't even have to look at the clutter any more since you cleared the floor, de-cluttered your entrances, set up for tomorrow and put things back in their homes. What is really important to you? Planning a favourite meal for your family? Reading a book? Studying for a "feels like its out of reach" university/college degree. Go for it. Make it happen. Enjoy your organization.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Organizing to Maintain your Sanity - 4 Go Home

To keep the organizing going, and the clutter at bay, every item needs to go back to its home. for a residential organizing project, next to purging and/or downsizing, much of the work is in establishing a home for everything in your home. Once an item has a home, it needs to return there when you finish using/playing with it.

Again, just a few minutes a day to scan through your home and put things away will take you a long way to a more organized existence. Teach your children from an early age to cruise through the house before bed and put away their toys/homework/books/video games. Assign them a time limit. Keep it simple and commit to completing this task daily.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Organizing to Maintain your Sanity - 3 Time

"If I had time", you say, "I would be more organized!" I know, me too. Unfortunately since none of us have figured out how to put an extra couple of hours into each day, we will just have to work with the 24 hours that we have.

Let's start with your calendar. Do you have one? Do you carry it with you all the time? If it is a paper calendar, can you put it into your purse, briefcase, computer bag? If it is electronic, can you carry it in your purse, briefcase, computer bag? Do you have a family calendar (if you have a family)?

Since this series is about maintenance tips I am concentrating on keeping organized (as opposed to the clearing out and sorting to get organized).

Ensure that today's appointments are in your calendar. Review tomorrow's appointments before the end of the day so that you have time to prepare for whatever is scheduled. If you have car service arranged, have you organized someone else to take the kids to swimming? It takes only a minute or two to review the appointments for tomorrow. It could take a lot longer to catch up if you miss something or it takes you by surprise. At the end of the week, review your appointments and plans for next week. Again, the anticipation will give you a chance to plan and prepare.

Once that is done, you can head for your evening knowing your plans for tomorrow and next week are already in place and organized. Aren't you clever!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Organizing to Maintain your Sanity - 2 Entrances

Have you ever noticed the tendency to walk into a house, room or office and immediately put down on the first horizontal surface whatever is in your hands? It is such a common habit that we professional organizers find amongst our clients that if you are missing something, I would suggest you check the first flat surface you find in each of the rooms you have just visited.

To maintain your sanity and stay organized, the next habit to develop is to clear those flat surfaces just inside the threshold of each room. (Notice I didn't say "...and then get rid of the flat surfaces." Maybe later!). Take a few minutes each day - 15 to 30 should do it - and clear off those surfaces. Needless to say, once you do the big clear out the first time, each subsequent day will be easier and require less time. Concentrate on what is just inside the entrance way to the room. Include the entrance to your home. If this is a big undertaking, start with one room a day until they are all done. Each successive day, revisit the first location for the daily review.

This may feel like an overwhelming task at first. If you have a lot of clutter, break done each location into a couple of smaller tasks. Start with one small surface each day. Then move onto the next surface the next day etc.

This series of posts is all about maintaining organization in your home and life. The idea is to tackle a little bit each day that ends up as a huge accomplishment and a calmer environment for you in the long run.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Organizing to Maintain your Sanity - 1 The Floor

I am committed to education. Yes, the formal kind our kids attend; for my clients I am committed to educating them with new behaviours and habits to adopt to keep their lives organized. I have heard it said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If my clients continue to do what they have always done - their lives will once again be full of the clutter that I help them control/purge/manage and they will be no more organized then before we started working together.

This week's posts will address basic, simple habits to help you keep the clutter at bay. Organizing does not have to be complicated. In fact, the less complicated your routines the more likely anyone - you, your spouse/partner, your children - are likely to follow them. Keep it simple and focused - keep the clutter away.

Habit 1 - Clear the floor.
Spend 15 minutes at the end of each day clearing away the debris off your floor. Start with your bedroom so that you can wake up each morning feeling in control of your clutter - if not your entire life. Put the clothes where they belong: dirty in the laundry hamper, clean back in the closet/bureau/shelf. Put the newspaper into recycling and the magazines/books back on their shelf. Finished with the magazines? Send them to a friend to read. Put away the shoes and boots. When in the kitchen, consider giving the floor a sweep to keep the crumbs and daily food litter under control.

If you have children, they can easily help with this exercise. Bear in mind, it does not need to be a lengthy one. Give the children 15 minutes to run through the house and pick up/put away their toys, books, homework items, sports equipment. Consider giving a reward when they are done like reading them an extra chapter of their book or a Popsicle.

There may be lots of clutter on the floor when your first start. That's OK. Try this for 28 days without a break and I guarantee you that by day 29 your house will be tidier and you will feel more organized and in control of the clutter.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Books - ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize your Life

If you or someone you know/love struggles to organize under with ADD then this is the book for you. ADD-Friendly ways to Organize your Life by Judith Kolberg and Kathleen Nadeau, is even written to hold the attention - but not the hyper focus - of individuals with ADD.

It's seven chapters, including one with further Resources, are chock full of information, strategies, suggestions and ways to adopt new behaviours to make your life the organized world you desire. This book has been written in a light-hearted vein but addresses the seriousness of disorganization in the world that individuals with ADD know so well. Solutions are broken down into those that you tackle by yourself and those that require additional support from friends or professional sources.

Even if you don't struggle to organize with ADD, but are looking for a book full of strategies that have been proven to work for organizationally-challenged individuals, you will find this one a good read and a helpful manual.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Books - Clear your Clutter with Feng Shui

Today's book is a little lighter read. Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, by Karen Kingston is a handy feng shui and space clearing primer. It is an easy read with practical tips in language that is understandable even to those of us who usually get hung up on the direction finding side of feng shui. In addition Karen addresses the background of clutter and helps identify what it is and how it accumulates - all in 163 pages.

If you are in the Toronto area, you may be interested in the upcoming speaking tour of one of Karen's students. Tracey Stanton will be in Toronto April 18th to 20th and will be teaching space clearing and clutter clearing in a three day workshop. I have recently heard Tracey speak on clutter and space clearing and recommend this workshop to both professional organizers and their clients who are serious about understanding more of the underlying issues of clutter. For more information contact Cecilia Moorcroft at 416 535 6007.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Books - Buried in Treasures

For this week, I am focussing on organizing resources and for now, sticking with books.

I recommend Buried in Treasures by David Tolin, Randy Frost and Gail Steketee, for packrats and their friends or family. In the past month alone, I have received three phone calls from family members who are distressed by the hoarding or packrat behaviour of siblings. This is the book for you. The authors explain underlying issues associated with packrat behaviour, along with assessment tools and strategies to understand their degree of severity. In addition, they provide concrete strategies for changing behaviour.

This book is very readible and information rich. Hoarding and packrat behaviour in yourself or a loved one can be a stressful and heartbreaking situation. This book may let a little ray of hope shine through.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Books - Enough Already

Peter Walsh's most recent book Enough Already is now available on Amazon. I highly recommend this to those of you who are overwhelmed not only by your clutter, but by your life in general. True to his character, Peter handles not just the stuff in our lives but the issues of emotional and mental clutter.

Whether you are tackling little clutter, big clutter at home or at work, I recommend this read to you.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Spring into Action - But Where to Start

Starting to get organized is sometimes the biggest challenge of any organizing project. Where to start? Which pile of clutter will be demolished first?

There are two places in any home that typically have a big impact on one's outlook on life - picking up one's spirits and positive outlook. They are the front entrance home and the bedroom.

The front entrance is a place one's immediately upon entering or exiting the home - no matter how big or small. Since most of us do this at least twice a day, and many of us several times more often, each re-encounter with the freshly organized space will reinforce your ability to take back control of the level of organization in your home.

Your bedroom ought to be a sanctuary for you; a place where you go for respite, to refresh and relax. When you get a grip on your bedroom organization, you will go to sleep feeling more in control of your life and wake up feeling more organized. What a great way to start the day!

If possible, pick something in these two areas of your home with which to start your Spring into Action organizing project. The temperatures are rising. As you shed those heavy winter coats and feel lighter in the sunshine, so too will you feel lighter and more positive with an organized space.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Spring into Action - Getting Started

With spring just around the corner, I felt compelled to use the old cliche "springing into action". Hopefully the weather is at least sunny where you are reading this - as it is while I write, although still very cold - in order to set you in a spring organizing mindset.

One of the most important elements of organizing is to be confident about your ability to make a change in your life and/or space. To do that, it helps to visualize the space that you have chosen to organize and have a clear idea in your mind of what it will look like in its newly organized state.

Pick the space that you would like to organize. Start small. Look over the space very carefully and take in all the detail you can. Now close your eyes. Imagine each part of the space in its newly organized state. What does it look like, feel like, sound like? How will it work for you? How will your life be different when that space is organized? How will you feel when it is organized? Hang on to those thoughts, the picture and the feeling.

Now go for it. If you become frustrated or discouraged, close your eyes again and return to your vision. Revisit all the detail that your created in your vision of look, feel, sound and function. Then return to your task.

Your space will help you attain the organized life that you desire for yourself and your family.