Unplugging By The Book
Unplugging – it sounds so….ominous 😊 Having recently experienced 18 hours in a hotel with no electricity I can speak a bit to the angst of not having my devices charged and at my disposal (not to mention what to do when it is dark at 7 p.m. and you can’t read…or watch TV…or scroll mindlessly thru social media). And yet….there was conversation…there was reminiscing about experiences…there was talk of dreams and the future. And sleep….there was blissful sleep!
What do you do to unplug? I like to read. Even if I can only catch 15 minutes here and there, reading transports me. So what’s one of my favorite things to organize? Bookshelves – I love to see what other people are reading, to percolate titles of books and what they might contain, and the utter sense of order when the bookshelf is tidy and the owner’s favorite books are at their fingertips.
Over the years I’ve discovered there are many ways to organize books, and there is no one “RIGHT” way – as with all things organized it depends on what the owner of the books wants the end result to be. There are the standbys of alphabetical (author or title) or size of book, and for the one who craves visual serenity, by color, which can provide a stunning backdrop for the room. Did you know you can even buy sets of books purely based on their color aesthetics!?!?! There is also the option to “soften” the books a little by mixing in other items of interest.
What are you reading these days? Would love to hear your current selection, and how you choose to organize your book collection! Drop a comment, or better yet, post a picture! We love hearing from you!
Minimalism….what does that word bring to mind? A stark room with no personal objects or clutter in it? Having to get rid of everything and be uncomfortable in order to embrace the minimalist movement?
May I propose to you another way to embrace minimalism – in the words of the Head of Mindfulness at CALM (an app for sleep, meditation, and relaxation – but ohhhh so much more in my book – I’ve been using it for years and LOVE it!)? “Minimizing what we own and consume, preserving money, energy and time for what will nourish us in profound and lasting ways.”
Deep. Really Deep. But….it isn’t – the concept is quite simple.
What’s the first object you see when you glance up from the device you are reading this on?
Do you love it?
Has it earned the right to consume a space in your orbit?
Let me explain…I look up right now and see a picture of my son, an Air Force Lieutenant, living thousands of miles away. Has that pictured earned a right to be in my precious space? YES! The warm feeling I get when looking at it nourishes me. Makes me sad, too, because I miss him, but overall the effect is positive.
What else do I see in my space? A pair of slippers that are actually quite uncomfortable and I avoid wearing them. They do not nourish me, and although I paid very good money for them, it is time for them to find a new home where they will be appreciated.
Minimalism is not about making our space so stark and empty that it feels inhuman. It’s about surrounding ourselves with items that have meaning and importance that we can SEE (i.e. NO CLUTTER – it can’t ALL have the same amount of meaning ) and visually connect with in a way that nourishes us, even if subconsciously.
The flip side of that is clutter eats away at us and we don’t even realize it! If you hear anything in what I’m saying, if anything at all registers, let it be that YOU are important, your stuff not so much, and surrounding yourself with things that you use and love will nourish you in a way that you won’t be able to help but light the way for others! It is all about finding the right fit for you - the right sizing of life.
OK, maybe that is a weeeee bit over the top But. I believe in you, and I believe in your worth. So much so that I want to share a guest pass to the Calm app with you! 5 readers who like the We Love Messes page and/or share this blog post will get a complimentary guest pass to Calm – I hope you love it as much as I do! And if not, well, that’s OK too – we each have our own way of connecting!
Dreaming Out Loud
Recently I attended an Entrepreneur Mentorship Retreat weekend at the lovely Green Gate Guest House. It was a small group, and the ideas and passion that flowed forth were inspiring to say the least. I came out of it completely revved up with possibilities for the future - for myself, for the other participants, for the world!
And then...and then, I returned to reality. Sometimes the reality is that we don’t share our wild hopes, dreams and ideas for the future with our loved ones. The reality of reality is that we all look at life differently - some of us are anchored in the here and look at how these wild ideas might affect us, and others of us HAVE the wild ideas that they need to percolate (in safe spaces like an entrepreneur weekend with other like-minded individuals - our “tribe” if I may borrow that word), knowing deep down that maybe only one of the 15 ideas talked about may actually come to fruition.
My point? We ALL need that space to think out loud. To dream. To say things that perhaps aren’t acceptable to others around us even if they know inside that’s how we feel. I’m getting to the correlation here, stay with me. :)
Organizing sessions are often that space - we talk about goals for the space, for time management, for decluttering our lives, for business growth - whatever is on the mind of the client. It's a safe, judgement free environment, and trust me, I can get just as excited about the potential as the client does! And then, we take the next step - we plan. We set tiny, bite sized goals.
Aim Low and Achieve!
Wanna percolate out some ideas? I’d love to help! Click here for a complimentary virtual consultation, or better yet - kick it in to gear and sign up for a Kick A#@ session - you, my friend, and your ideas, are TOTALLY worth it!
See you soon,
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!
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.
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?
Why I Cannot Let go
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!
Are You Living the American Dream?
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!
Tax Time Panic
Have you been putting off your tax prep and filing? Breathe. Let's think through those files and piles together.
What's the solution?
Right this second it is all about buckling down and powering through to find the data you need in order to file. You do not have to suddenly create the perfect filing system. Just breathe, plan, and then let me know how I can help you develop a system that wipes out the worry.
This place of paperwork madness isn't any fun. Now is the time to move forward with a plan to work in the future. You can use your filing process to set up a system that makes sense to you and won't have you scrambling next year.
Think about how you sort the data you need. Take for example the receipts necessary for reimbursement from a Health Savings Account (HSA).
Take the way your mind thinks, or searches, for papers/receipts and set your filing up according to that. Can't quite visualize what those categories or files look like? Let's have a planning session - I'll bring the questions, you'll have the answers, and together we'll create a filing system that makes sense to you!
Getting Kids On Board
Kids model what they see, right? One of my lovely clients shared the folding boards she made for her girls, pattern found on Pinterest (of course!), and the video of how they use it.
I was amazed that even at the girls' young ages they were able to, and excited about, using the folding boards. This Mom is giving her girls a head start on the life skills they'll need to manage adulthood! WAY TO GO MOM!
For more instructions about how to make your own boards, be sure to go back to my #ResourceWednesday from yesterday and watch that video. If it can take away some of the dread and crumpled laundry mess, it is definitely worth it!
Tammy Schotzko is a Certified Professional Organizer who