Big or little....decisions are everywhere in our lives. They can haunt the back of our minds as we move through the day or be one of a million we make subconsciously.
The ones that drive me crazy are the little ones that become big and cause angst and churning. Personally speaking, when I have a big decision I'm grappling with I find myself getting bogged down in little ones - like what to wear, or what to make for supper. Easy enough, right? Yes, unless indecision is weighing me down.
My solution? It always comes down to a list (What did you expect? I'm an organizer - I thrive on lists!). In this case, a brain dump of all my thoughts regarding the decision at hand. Paper, white board, post it notes (these are really my favorite), word doc - whatever tool appeals to you - and then dump all your thoughts regarding the decision. Actually, all thoughts in general - the "to do" tasks and thoughts of daily living - need to come out, too!
Then I divide the list into pros and cons - which is why post its are my favorite method - they can just be moved around on a wall and, voila! You have a visual of the struggle going on behind the scenes in your brain. Highlighters can also be helpful to distinguish pros and cons - color adds another dimension to the visual decision making process.
"It doesn't matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions." - Jim Rohn
How do you make weighty decisions? Do you have a tool or process that works for you? I'd love to know more - please share in the comments below!
Last week I talked about my favorite methods to avoid "churning", or shuffling things from one spot to the next without making decisions on what to do with them. While the hula hoop is fun to use, a utilitarian white sheet or tarp works equally well and can be used two ways.
When there is a lot of visual clutter in a space I will cover the areas we are not working on with sheets or tarps. This physically defines the space we are working on much like the hula hoop does, as well as decreases the opportunity to bounce around to other areas.
The second way to use the sheets or tarps is to lay them down, often on the lawn, to sort large items into different categories. This is particularly useful when there are multiple people sorting and the person who needs to make the decisions can see the quantity of items in each category as well as duplicates, etc.
There are many different methods for organizing - I encourage and help my clients to find the ones that work for them and stick with it. Aim low and achieve, or overachieve!
P.S. Can you guess why I recommend a white sheet instead of a colored or printed one?
Ever walk into a room with the intention of getting it organized, start moving things around, but never really make a decision on what to actually DO with the stuff? Organizers call that "churning", or shuffling things from one place to another. It can be anxiety producing and lead to frustration - expending energy but not achieving organization.
How do we avoid churning? There are multiple methods, but I'm going to share my two favorites - hula hoops and white sheets. Personally I like the saying "Aim Low and Overachieve" - sometimes I modify it to just "Aim Low and Achieve" and both these tools help us do that.
The Hula Hoop Method
For example, we want to organize our entire craft room....that's a very large goal. To avoid churning, we are going to lay a hula hoop on a horizontal surface and only deal with what is within its circumference. Being confined to that space not only helps set an achievable goal, but it is much less overwhelming than organizing the entire room. Once we've made decisions on what is inside the hula hoop we can move it and repeat the process.
Next week I'll explain how I use a white sheet to organize. Stay tuned!
We live in what is considered a “throw away culture” yet storage units are everywhere! Is it quantity over quality? I estimate that 95% of the client storage units I’ve been in have been delayed decisions – the clients all knew what needed to happen with the items inside, but they couldn’t bring themselves to take the next step.
I'm not the only one who sees this throw away culture. Jim Gaffigan gives us some spot-on insight into this trap we've set for ourselves. Take two minutes (actually 1 minute 58 seconds) to watch his views on the subject.
Are you holding on to a storage unit? What’s inside? Have you ever figured out what the unit is costing per year and then salivated over what could be done with that money instead? What’s keeping you from taking action on emptying the unit? Inquiring minds want to know – please share below!
We keep searching for things that fit. The right shoes. A comfy pair of jeans. Maybe even a career or relationship. It is the struggle to right-size - make decisions based on the life we are living today - and preparing for changes we might encounter in the future.
A great example is the baby boom generation - they've raised their kids, had careers, and are now retiring and moving on to the next "life chapter". This phase can mean a smaller house with less maintenance, more free time to spend with the grandkids and for traveling, or even launching a new, entirely different, career.
A Closer Look at Right-Sizing
Right-sizing our homes doesn't have to involve grand, dramatic changes. In fact, right-sizing can often be a series of related steps that work together to make sense for your personal situation.
For a baby boomer, right-sizing might look like moving from a four bedroom where we raised our kids, to a one or two bedroom just for us. We let the space itself define what we keep - 2 beds instead of 4 mean we "need" fewer sheets, blankets and pillow cases. These simpler, smaller decisions that can be made right now pave the way for the harder, more emotionally laden ones we might face later.
The less we have to maintain the more free time we have to spend with loved ones, or pursuing new interests. Those big lawns, gardens, and driveways and the machines that helped us maintain them can be right-sized as well.
Remember: Just because we've always done it one way doesn't mean we can't ask ourselves what it would look and feel like if we changed our strategy - perhaps doing less of something - letting go of a time and energy-taker. The answer can, and often does, surprise us!
What have you right-sized in your life that has freed you up to spend time and energy elsewhere? Do you wish you would have done so sooner or was the timing just right?
So, there's these slippers. Slippers that are well loved and worn thru on the soles. I knit them about 7 years ago, and then felted them. If you've ever seen me knit you know it's a painful process...shoulders hunched, pure concentration. What should be a relaxing hobby gives me a neck cramp. I've since given up knitting. But that's a story for another blog post....
My daughter keeps telling me I need to give the slippers up, too. They've served me well, and are quite past their prime. I keep meaning to throw them out. And, I....just cannot let them go. I think, "just one more wear" or "tomorrow. Definitely tomorrow".
What it boils down to is the heart and soul, sweat and tears I put in to them. Throwing them out, even after they've served me well, just isn't that easy. They are one of the few material things to which I'm actually attached.
I've learned over the years that often clients need the opportunity to tell the story of an item before they can release it. I feel the same way - now I've shared the story and they can go. Letting go is a process - whether it's material things, emotions, relationships - it doesn't matter. Telling the story helps validate the process and keep us moving forward.
Have a letting go story to share? Please share in the comments below - I'd love to hear about it!
Tell me I'm not the only one this has happened to - I'm cruising down the road in the midst of a packed-to-the-rim day, glance down, and I'm on "E". Big deal. Stop at the gas station and fill up. Except....the schedule is back to back and that 10 minutes makes me late for a stop, which snowballs the rest of the day. It feels like I'm barely holding on to my grasp on the day.
Who. In. The. World. Doesn't. Have. 10. Minutes? OK - I DON'T. On certain days/weeks, that is. My husband is aghast that I can essentially live in my car and not be cognizant of when it is on, or about to be on, empty.
Time to reflect! There reaches a point where the empty gas tank becomes a neon blinking sign saying that I'm not refueling myself, either. Burning ourselves out so there is nothing left in the tank means there is nothing to give out when working with clients, parenting, being a friend, etc.
I've used the oxygen mask analogy before in blog posts - if you don't put your oxygen mask on first you won't be able to help the person sitting next to you. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to use my Daily Calm app to meditate and recharge for 10 minutes!
What are YOU doing to take care of yourself? Let's encourage and support each other. I am doing this by giving away a FREE Strategy Session! Just LIKE this blog post and you'll be entered to WIN!
The American Dream.....intrinsically we strive for it in all we do - working hard, achieving "success", accumulating the latest and greatest things. We are surrounded by things that are marketed to make us feel successful - tell us we have arrived. But have we? And to where, exactly, are we arriving?
The house with the two car garage that was The American Dream in my parents' generation now has a garage so full of stuff that only 32% of Americans fit even ONE car in the garage. We have stuff! We have arrived! But, are we happy?
I have had the privilege of attending a National Association of Professional Organizer's annual conference, where The Minimalists gave the keynote address. I've waited over a year to hear them in person, and they didn't disappoint. They spoke of realizing that The American Dream wasn't their dream, and of the events leading them to question their lifestyles and embrace minimalism.
What is Minimalism?
Minimalism isn't about frugality, but about more deliberate questioning of the resources (including money) we have at our disposal and how we choose to use them. Do our things add value to our lives or are they clutter? Stuff doesn't fill the void of unhappiness; it widens it.
Minimalism has helped me reframe the way I think about not only physical things, but the resources (time, energy, education, etc.) I have at my disposal and how I use them.
Have you embraced minimalism? Have thoughts about the movement or the lifestyle? I'd love to hear your comments!
So you think your closet is messy? Scientists estimate there are more than 100 million pieces of space junk in orbit, posing a growing threat to future space exploration. It is easy to ignore the things we can't see everyday... until one day we are faced with the reality that something just needs to be done.
Piles for donation. Boxes for recycling. Bags for consignment stores. We have options for our extra "stuff", people. But what about that space junk? In December Japan launched an epic cleaning machine into space, designed to gather debris and do a little spring cleaning of its own. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned and the "space junk collector" malfunctioned and burned up upon re-entry into the atmosphere. So they have to try again.
We (collectively as the planet's population) can't just ignore that we are sending up junk into space that has to go....somewhere. And we also can't ignore the overflowing closet. We have to look under the bed. We have to stare down the piles in the garage.
Ignoring the problem-piles and hoping they won't affect us too much just isn't a doable option. So we have to get creative, get working, and be OK with the idea that we just might not get it right on the first try. Organizing is not a one-size-fits-all experience! We just have to make sure we try again.
If you need a little help with the trying, give me a call or send me an email!
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Tammy Schotzko is a Certified Professional Organizer who