Wednesday
Aug032016

Organizing Hacks

So, its spring and I am supposed to feel like getting my house organized. My family tells me I need to get organized. I would love to be more organized but I don’t know where to start. Oh and I have no time, because I am too busy?

 


Does this sound familiar. The lack of time and knowledge are the two biggest obstacles that stop people from clearing the clutter. Let’s try to tackle both issues at once.


First up is finding pockets of time which then will work for you to simply start removing things from your home. Once the clutter is cleared you can start to organize what is left. You do not need to take a week off from work for most organizing sessions. Yes it may be necessary in extreme cases, but if you are dedicated to just taking a few minutes a day, every single day, you will make progress in the right direction.


Create a new routine: Set aside time every day and make it part of your daily routine. For example, while you brush your teeth you walk around the house gathering items while you brush. Or you set the alarm to go off ten minutes early in the morning when all is quiet in the house and you can accomplish so much in a few minutes before the kiddos wake up.


Combine with an existing routine: Maybe you read a book at night before you go to sleep. Download the audible version and listen to the book and take that time to organize. Perhaps you always watch the Voice on Monday nights. Take the commercials and organize for a few minutes at a time.


Get reinforcements: Get the whole family involved. Remember we have to be taught to organize, it isn’t a natural tendency for many people. If you tell your children to go to their rooms or play areas and find 10 items they no longer use and place them in the donation bin, chances are they can do that.


Make a game out of organizing: You may need to set the timer and make a game out of it. When my kids were little we had an organizing song thanks to that purple dinosaur Barney. Even though my oldest son is in his twenties I can still sing it word for word. I wonder if he sings it when he is cleaning up.


Create a reward: We all like some form of external gratification for a job well done. Decide what your reward is and when the project is complete, go and celebrate. It could be a family movie night, massage or a pedicure. Decide what would motivate you and set that reward!


Pick a number: Decide on a number and every day you will discard that number of items. This is a great way to help reinforce counting with younger kids and for us older folks it makes us focus on the number. We trick our brain into thinking about hitting that number and are more willing to discard to get that goal.


Day of the month: Discard the number of items for the day of the month. So on the 4th day of the month, you get rid of 4 items. On the 31 you need to find 31 items. Never before have had you prayed that it was February with its short days of the month.


Let it be a personal decision: Just because you don’t like what the person is keeping or discarding let them make the decision. I have witnessed more parents discourage a child donating a toy because it was an expensive toy or a gift from a special person. We need to not transfer the guilt of why we hold onto items to our next generation. As Elsa says, “let it go….let it go…”


This week, pick a few of these to try with you and your family. Once the clutter is gone, the organizing is easy. If a drawer is half empty, suddenly all the clothes have a home. If the pantry has empty shelves, you can now organize by category of food. Just make the room and the organizing will start to happen, I promise.

 

To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,

 

MS. Simplicity

 

Melissa is a Productivity Consultant and author living in Fargo, North Dakota doing her best of living a life full of adventure. Filling a life of memories and not of things! 

 

Melissa's e-book on Kitchen Organizing can be found on Amazon.

 

Wednesday
Aug032016

Spring Awakening Through the Decluttering Process

 

I think there is some physical connection with opening of the windows in our homes and letting fresh air in and wanting to throw stuff out of our homes that we no longer need or want. Entire communities have coordinated spring cleanup efforts that we gear up for. We want to live with less, but we simply don't know where to start.

I suggest you do a little bit each day. Nobody likes spending days organizing, not even me. We like to spend our time off of work with our families, not sorting our clutter. So this week take a few minutes each day and rid your home of clutter. I have created 9 activities that I like to call Spring Flinging. Each activity should take you between 5-10 minutes. Save them up and do them all at once or do one or two a day. Grab a box and get ready to fill up for the donation center.

Silverware Drawer: When was the last time that you went through your silverware drawer? You will find take out silverware, chopsticks, clothes pins and a variety of things that are not silverware. Chances are there are even baby spoons in it and your baby is now 18! Clear out what you don't use and fling it!  

Towels: Do you buy new towels but never seem to get rid of the old ones. You only need so many towels but why do we keep them? They take up space. We never use them but we save them and call them "rags"...but how many rags do we need? The towels in good shape can be donated. The ones that are torn or stained, donate to your local animal shelter. They don't care if they are stained.

Winter clothes: We sure hope that winter is over. Take the time to figure out what fits and what you want to wear next year. Donate what no longer works for you or your family. Wash and store everything that you plan on using next winter.

Unread Magazines and Newspapers: Do you have them? Do you read them? Do you keep them way too long? Today just get rid of everything that you have not read. You do not want to be looking at Christmas Cookie recipes in March! A rule of thumb is to get a magazine read and out of your house within 1 week. Take it to your gym, doctor’s office or retirement center after the 1 week is up.

Papers of Good Intentions: Admit it, you have it...a pile of papers that you are ignoring. You know that you need to go through them, but you don't have the time to go through them. Either take the time today to get that pile reduced or just toss it.....yikes!

Manuals: Raise your hand if you have a filing cabinet full of manuals? Chances are you have never looked at the manuals. And truth be told...if something happened to your snow blower you would go and do a search online to trouble shoot and not look in the manual....if you even know where it is stored. So be ok with flinging those manuals. Keep the ones for major appliances that would go with the sale of your house...but for the rest....feel free to fling.

Cords for Electronics that we are clueless about: We all have random electronic cords that we don't know what they go to. Today either figure it out or fling them! Big box electronic stores have recycling bins in the entry of their store, so be green when you fling.

Linen Closet: Often our linen closets are filled with mismatched sheets or sheet sets that don't even fit the bed size that you have. I have one set of sheets for each of my beds. When I wash them I take them off and put them back on so that I can avoid the dreaded folding of the fitted sheet.

Clothes that no longer bring you joy: Grab 5 items from your closet that you are no longer in love with or wear. Only keep clothes that you love and make you feel and look great wearing them. Even if you spent good money on them, they are taking up space....either consign them or donate them....simply get them out of your house. If you want to do more than 5....go for it.....think about other closets in your house as well. Set the timer for 5-10 minutes and get cracking!

Organizing can be done if it is taken in small bites. This week set your intentions to work on these 9 areas. You may find that once you get on a roll you keep on going.

To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,

 

 

 

MS. Simplicity

 

 

Melissa is a Productivity Consultant and author living in Fargo, North Dakota doing her best of living a life full of adventure. Filling a life of memories and not of things! 

 

Melissa's e-book on Kitchen Organizing can be found on Amazon.

 

Wednesday
Aug032016

Making a Plan in Order to Make a Plan

Sometimes I just need to laugh at myself. Here I am a smart woman who can make quick decisions for other people, but when it comes to my own, I get stuck. I even hired not one, but two business coaches to help me figure out my business life.

I have to laugh at how a simple decision can be made complex by my overactive mind. Here is a great example, our broken snow blower. It is not just a broken snow blower but a symbol of something much bigger, in my mind. The snow blower will cost $500 to repair. A new one that is similar in size and power costs about $1,300.

But if I bought the new snow blower I would be committing to living in my house for several more years. And if I continued to live in my house I would want to redo the bathrooms and put new carpet in. You see how my mind can quickly spiral out of control. All because of a broken snow blower. 

Oh but wait, my mind continues. Because the last two winters have been low on snow I have this false sense in thinking that the rest of winters are going to be like this. And because I am an organizer who is trying to minimize my possessions, I really don't want to add a new heavy piece of machinery to our garage. 

I think about the possibility of us borrowing our neighbors snow blower for the few times it snows enough to use a snow blower. Or hiring a service to remove the snow those few times a year. I also look at the fact that my husband and I are healthy and we can physically remove most of the snow ourselves.

While I didn't hire two business coaches to help me with making decisions about fixing or buying a new snow blower, I did hire them to help me with some pretty difficult decisions. But the steps to determine most decisions in life really are similar.

Give yourself grace: This tip was given to me by a friend as she heard me discuss the decisions I am wrestling with. I am so stuck in perfectionism that I am afraid of making the wrong decision. I want to do what is best for our family first and foremost. Me taking chances and working hard are not what matters as I don't mind doing that. Having the money to provide for my family is. 

Confide in your key people: My husband is such an easy person to talk to as are my close circle of friends. Sometimes key decisions need to have different points of view. My business coaches are great at this as are my key friends. Gather your people and ask for input. 

Make a list of pros and cons: The tried and true method of taking pen to paper and writing out will give you clarity. There is something about making that list. Seeing the columns side by side that will give clarity to the situation. There is power in that list.

Just let time pass: Sometimes we just need to let life happen and see if things settle down. Waiting to let time pass can seem like the easy way out, but it really can be the mature thing to do. I like making quick decisions, but sometimes time does heal and give perspective. 

Getting rid of possessions can be just as difficult, especially if there is guilt or sadness involved. Guilt of money spent. Sadness of time that has passed as children outgrow toys. Sadness of a family member that has died and the possessions that need to be sorted. These same steps apply. 

Making decisions can be challenging and often paralyzing. We get stuck in perfectionism and we can't move forward. We don't want to hurt anyone. We don't want to make the wrong decisions. So we stop and stress about even making the decision. Instead, stop and take a breath. Make a plan. And if making that plan requires you to first make a plan, be ok with that. I for one am giving myself some grace this week and making my list of pros and cons. That list will give me clarity that will help me create my plan. 

 

To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,

 

 

 

MS. Simplicity

 

 

Melissa is a Productivity Consultant and author living in Fargo, North Dakota doing her best of living a life full of adventure. Filling a life of memories and not of things! 

 

Melissa's e-book on Kitchen Organizing can be found on Amazon.

 

Wednesday
Aug032016

Paying Attention by Asking the Right Questions

Over the past couple of weeks I have been more mindful of the people in my life. I make sure my boys in college have their needs taken care of. I make sure that my husband and I spend quality time together. It has been hard, because for months I have been working more than ever. My work time is now including weekends and evenings. With all of my attention on work I forgot about someone near and dear to me, my youngest son.

He is a teen boy busy with friends and activities and is not home all that much. His life no longer revolves around me and I was OK with that. I was the one who was sad as I saw him grow and be with his friends more. It was natural and I was happy for him despite my feeling sad. But just because he isn't home much, does not give me permission to not be engaged with him when he is home. I always said in the back of my head that he is busy doing his own thing and he is just fine, but I was wrong.
This realization hit me like a ton of bricks when I was taking one of those Facebook quizzes that has you to ask your children a list of questions. Well I asked the questions and I didn't like the answers my son gave me. He stopped me mid quiz and said that he didn't mean to hurt my feelings but he considers me either too in his business or absent. No middle ground. I knew exactly what he meant. When we were together, I really tried to squeeze every moment out of it. Obviously I squeezed too tight.
 
So what is a parent to do? First I was mad. I was thinking that I have been primarily a stay at home mom for years, but now as my children are growing and having large college expenses I needed to work more. His two older brothers are now in college. My husband is in a new job and he works long hours as he navigates his place at work. And I have increased up my own work by about 300%.  Our family dynamic has shifted. 
Then I was thinking how unfair his criticism was of me. He did not hold his dad up to the same standard. My husband can leave for a business trip and it isn't noticed for days. But I am the mom and I was the primary caregiver when he was little. So I understand why he treats my husband and I differently. I cannot be upset with his feelings, but rather I needed to empathize. 
But then sadness took over soon to be followed by a need to fix the situation. He is still home for another year I can reestablish the connection. But action needs to happen in order to make it happen.
First up was creating a family meal time where we all gathered. Studies show that a family that eats together is closer. I can't have all seven days of the week, but I can have one. We chose our night and we decided to make it a meal that we go out to eat. We try to wait and have dinner with him every night. But when 6:30 rolls around and he isn't home yet we do eat. But on Wednesday's we wait. I hold those family meals as sacred. If I am traveling I make sure that I am home by Wednesday nights. 
The next thing I did was I started greeting him again when he walked through the door. I pride myself in always being home when he walks in the door. But I stopped greeting him. I was focused on the work I was doing. So now, even if I was in the middle of a project I took the time to stop what I was doing and come in the room he was in. I made sure that he felt my presence.
The other thing I started doing was reaching out via text. Usually when he texts me he asks me two things....what's for dinner....and...can I have some money? I want him to start texting me and asking how I am doing. But it needs to start with me. I need to set the example. This goes back to my earlier post of asking the question "how are you?"
Since we have implemented the Wednesday night dinner I have seen a change in my son. He is opening up more on what he is struggling with. I am loving that he again feels comfortable enough to tell me what his frustrations are. I needed to simply open the door and keep it open, no matter what. And if I ask the questions, I need to beprepared for the answers, not matter what. So this week, open the door and ask the questions, no matter what.

 

 

To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,

 

 

 

MS. Simplicity

 

 

Melissa is a Productivity Consultant and author living in Fargo, North Dakota doing her best of living a life full of adventure. Filling a life of memories and not of things! 

 

Melissa's e-book on Kitchen Organizing can be found on Amazon.

 


Wednesday
Aug032016

How Are You?

 

When was the last time that you asked a person that question "how are you" and really wanted an honest reply? It happened to me yesterday. I saw a casual friend in the grocery store and as a habit simply asked how she was. I was in a hurry and I really didn't have time to listen for her reply. But I took the time and asked about her kids and what they were up to. We certainly didn't go deep in the conversation but just scraped the surface.

My son was a part of mental health campaign on his college campus reminding people to really ask how people are. Their video they made really impacted me in how I ask that "how are you?" question. With long cold winters this question can become even more important.

When my son was first diagnosed with Crohns several years ago, people would ask me the "how are you" question. I knew when they asked me, that they really didn't want the real answer. I knew that they didn't want me to say how scared I was. Or how I blamed myself for his disease. Or how I cried in the ER as the doctor told me that they know all their Crohns' patients by their first names. Or how when I took him to Mayo and we were sleeping in our hotel room I would have tears hitting my pillow as I prayed for good news at our next appointment. Most people just wanted me to answer with a "good" or a "fine."

When I saw the "how are you" video last week it took my breath away. My New Year's Resolution of 2016 is to have authentic relationships and have authentic conversations with people. It is such a simple question but one that resonates with my authentic conversation goal of 2016.

I worry our socializing is happening more and more in front of a screen. I see people who have 2,000 friends on Facebook and struggle to get out of bed and have face to face conversations. As I was talking to a friend yesterday about how hard it is to connect with even the people we love face to face these days, she said when she was growing up her mom always had a pan of bars at the ready and friends would just stop over unannounced.

My husband is not a fan of people stopping by unannounced. I am a fan. I am that girl who when stopping by to see a friend, I will give the one knock and walk in. When my husband is standing next to me when I do that, he looks at me like I am an alien. He needs to get over that.

This is why we need to get back to making the pan of bars and having people stop in, isolation. I know that my house is at its most clean and organized right before I have a party or before I have friends stop over.

The state of our home can tell us a lot about the state of our mental health. When a friend or family member walks into chaos, red flags will go up and they will really ask the question "how are you."

When people tell me about their messy mother or father in law, I always listen. Often our conversation ends with, if you really think this person is a hoarder you need to help them get mental health help. Hoarding is a mental health disorder and listed in the DSM-V, which is the manual that mental health providers use. I am blessed to live in a community that has a strong presence of providers that specialize in hoarding. Start the conversation. Make the phone call. 

But often we don't even make it past the front door. We are never invited over. They become more and more isolated. So this week start asking the people in your life, "how are you?" And really listen to their answer. Don't let them get away with a simple good or fine. Open the door to an authentic conversation. It's time to get away from the screen and in front of the person. Bake a pan of bars and invite some friends over for authentic conversations and get to the bottom of "how are you?"


 

To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,

 

MS. Simplicity

 

Melissa is a Productivity Consultant and author living in Fargo, North Dakota doing her best of living a life full of adventure. Filling a life of memories and not of things! 

Melissa's e-book on Kitchen Organizing can be found on Amazon.