Change is something that is guaranteed throughout our lives, but it isn’t always easy to experience. Dealing with sudden unexpected change can be overwhelming - especially for those of us who like to plan and prefer to reduce the amount of uncertainty in our lives. For the first time in recent history, the whole world has been impacted by sudden unexpected change. It might be comforting to think that there are no exclusions - everyone is transitioning from the way life was to a “new normal.” We are all in this together. According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of transition is:
A: passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another : CHANGE
B: a movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another
One thing the dictionary definition left out is that transition is gradual, it doesn’t happen overnight. We're leaving behind the way things were and stepping into a new way of living. It’s also important to remember there are normal ups and downs, and no set timeline for a transition to be over.
When people think about being organized, they might imagine picture-perfect pantries ready for a photo shoot. Organizing isn’t just about the physical stuff, our habits and routines play a big part in feeling and staying organized. Right now while we’re all dealing with containment is an opportunity to develop our habits and routines at home, either alone or with our families. It’s a time to reflect on all aspects of our lives and make adjustments where appropriate. My priorities have shifted to taking the best care of myself possible, and supporting my loved ones. Here are three things I focus on each day:
Be Kind and Patient
This is important, now more than before. Everyone is experiencing this situation differently. Some live alone, others have large families to manage. There are people who continue working with the public each day while the rest are hunkering down at home. Everybody has different needs and a different perspective. Some adapt to changes quickly, and others take more time - there is no right answer when it comes to this, only what works best for you. As restrictions ease, some people will be making changes faster than others, and some will still be choosing strict containment to protect themselves or vulnerable family members. As I mentioned before, whatever the situation, we are all experiencing changes together. Choosing to be kind helps strengthen our bond while we’re apart and gives others hope. I’ve heard a few people say, “smile under that mask every chance you get!” and have yet to regret taking the advice.
Maybe too much screen time and news reports leave you feeling drained. The seemingly endless raw, rainy weather might have you feeling restless. Try to recognize whatever it is that could be giving you the blahs, and focus on activities that help you feel better. While a lot is out of our control right now, a self-care routine is something we can control, no matter how big or small. Having something fun to look forward to each day has helped me keep a positive outlook. It might look like setting a timer and shutting down electronics for a walk or a family dance party. Rainy days are a good opportunity to work on some kind of fun, creative project indoors - whatever it is that interests you, go for it!
With this sudden unexpected change, we’ve been left with structuring our days from scratch. Many adults transitioned to working from home, children and teens are now learning from home, with parents juggling work and homeschooling. If your life was super busy before and felt chaotic, you might be enjoying this slower paced lifestyle at the moment. This could be an opportunity to drop what wasn’t working before we were all separated. Were there too many weekly activities on the calendar and not enough evenings at home? Are there things you’ve wanted to do “when time allows” that you haven’t gotten to? It’s ok to let them go. While there may be activities that you’d like to drop - there are surely some that are missed! What is it that you miss right now that you’re looking forward to when restrictions ease?
How has your life changed recently? What are some positives that have come out of this situation for you? I'd love to hear from you!
With many of us spending more time at home lately, we might be feeling like our spaces could use a little bit of sprucing up. There are areas we walk past daily, maybe hourly that we’ve been meaning to take care of “when we have time.” What better time to tackle that dusty corner over there, neglected houseplants needing attention, and that closet you’ve been meaning to organize?
The good news is, it can get done little by little by focusing on one task each day. If you have children at home, there might be some tasks they can help out with! Cleaning and organizing the house is a great way to move your body, take a break from screen time, and having something productive to focus on is going to bring on feelings of accomplishment.
If you fall behind, you can always use a day or two to catch up, and don’t forget to enlist help from family members! Some days might be more involved than others, and while this list has plenty of tasks to keep us busy, there are other tasks you might want to do to replace the ones I suggested. I invite you to follow along on Instagram, where I'll give more details for each day. I’ll be doing this challenge as well and would love to hear from you, let's keep each other accountable!
If you’re looking to move things out of the house but aren’t able to drop off donations due to the current health crisis, try Give Back Box. I’ve just learned about this genius service from fellow professional organizers. If you have boxes lying around from items you’ve purchased recently, you can fill them up and mail them to charities. It’s a great way to get your house in order and help people in need while we are all being urged to stay home. Check it out!
If you have extra food and household supplies, you can reach out to locals on platforms like Facebook, Nextdoor, and Instagram. It might be as simple as connecting and leaving the items outside your door for someone to pick up.
Are you motivated to get a good Spring clean done while we’re all spending lots of time at home? What are your go-to activities right now?
Do you have boxes of photos, videos, and other media sitting around your home, vulnerable to the elements? You’re not alone - it’s quite common for people to inherit photo and media collections from loved ones, often thrown in a box without proper storage considerations to preserve those precious family memories. Maybe you’re considering getting those photos organized and cataloged for the family, but the task seems overwhelming and daunting. If this sounds like your situation, it might be reassuring to know that your collection can get organized and become accessible for you, your family, and future generations. Knowing where to begin is often the largest obstacle - here are some tips for getting started:
Imagine your ideal situation
Before getting started with a large project, it’s helpful to take a look at the big picture and imagine what your ideal situation looks like when you’re done. This acts as a compass to lead you through. Think of your own life as well as your family history as a series of stories, and how you’d like to tell them. How do you picture yourself and your family accessing your photos, videos, and other memorabilia? The options are seemingly endless, but what matters most is that you choose options that work best for you and your family. Some ways people like to honor their memories are:
Hunt and Gather
Many people have inherited photos, slides, film reels, and family documents from loved ones who have passed, and as a result, these are squirreled away in little pockets throughout the house. Before starting, I believe it’s best to gather everything you’d like to organize into one central location, and this includes digital media. For digital media, do your best to get everything onto one computer, with at least one backup. If that’s not possible, do your best to list and locate the devices that are holding media. You may need to have conversations with family members - for example, if your sibling has all the slides from a family trip long ago, let them know of your plans. Who knows, you might even get help with your project!
Sort by Media Type
Group by type - all photos together, slides, film reels, VHS, correspondences, family history documents, and digital formats. This crucial step will be your way of taking inventory of each category - your big picture view. Getting a good look at everything helps you decide how you want to break this large project down into smaller, more manageable projects. Choosing the format you’re most eager to work with could be a good jumping off point - we have to start somewhere!
Have you gotten your family photos and memorabilia in order, or is this a project for your to-do list? What does your ideal situation look like? I’d love to hear from you!
Can you believe January has come and gone so quickly? If you’ve recently begun your decluttering journey, I hope you’re feeling like you’re seeing some progress toward those goals! For those of us who have been working on new habits, February can be a make-or-break type of time. If you live up north, the days are still short and often dreary. The urge to snuggle up on the couch with your favorite TV shows or books is strong, believe me - I fight it, too.
When working on a long-term project with someone, a common perception shared with me is “when we’re done, then I can enjoy XYZ.” Waiting for a day that may be a year or more away to enjoy your home can feel overwhelming, and like that day may never come. Instead, I like to suggest focusing on one area or part of the routine at a time that has changed for the better, and continue appreciating the positive changes. While it’s helpful to be clear on what you’d like to work on and diligently check items off that to-do list, it’s also important to take a look at what you have accomplished and enjoy those small victories along the way.
Here are some suggestions for starting to love the space you’re in, and making the best of your situation right now, no matter where you might be on your decluttering and organizing journey!
At the very beginning, it’s helpful for some to shift their mindset a bit. When people reach out for organizing assistance, they’re overwhelmed, don’t know where to begin, and are unsure about how everything is going to pan out. This is a good time to take a minute to appreciate what’s going well: having a home to live in, the courage to call for help, and assembling the support needed to improve your situation.
Just deciding where to begin can feel like a monumental task! I always suggest starting small - a small project or habit change at a time add up to make a big difference. Designating a place for keys and sticking to that new habit takes some stress out of leaving the house. Paring down excess toiletries from the bathroom eliminates extra choices and streamlines wake up and bed time routines. Noticing how these changes are affecting us in a positive way affirms our hard work and provides some momentum to continue making small adjustments.
Carve Out a Space to Relax
In my November 2019 blog, I talked about the concept of hygge (hoo-ga) and carving out a “hyggekrog,” or cozy corner. What’s your go-to relaxation activity? Is it stretching, knitting, snuggling with a book, taking a bath, your favorite TV show, or some other hobby? Designate a space in your home where this activity will occur, and commit to enjoying it 2-3 times a week, or whatever frequency feels most sustainable for you. This reinforces a new perspective, "my home is inviting and enjoyable."
Edit High Traffic Areas
There are places in our homes that we visit each day, such as the bathroom, kitchen, and entryway. You might want to start with editing your closet in order to reduce the stress around getting dressed in the morning. Carving out zones in your entryway that support your lifestyle helps take some of the mental load off arriving/departing your home. Knowing that your keys, shoes, jackets, shopping bags, and mail, etc. have homes provides clarity and streamlines these routines. Think about your situation and adjustments you can make to simplify your day to day life.
Reflect and Celebrate Your Accomplishments
If you’ve been going through the process for any length of time, you might hit a point where it feels like “gosh, there’s still so much left to do!” Think about where you were in the beginning of your journey, and how much easier your day to day life is to manage. Less time looking for things, arriving on time for work and appointments, and refreshed spaces to enjoy.
Have you been working on adjusting spaces in your home or routines in your life? What do you love about your home? I’d love to hear from you, let’s get the conversation going! Leave a comment down below.
Happy New Year! Not only are we starting a new year, we’re at the beginning of a new decade, which feels big and significant. This is a time of reflection and resolutions, and there are as many different resolutions as there are people making them. The most common ones I hear about are home and health related. Being a part of the organizing industry, you can bet I’ve heard from a number of people who are inspired to reduce the clutter in their lives this year! Every January, NAPO (the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals) hosts GO (Get Organized) month. GO month is about promoting the benefits of working with an organizing professional, as well as highlighting the educational opportunities for NAPO members.
If you’re feeling like your home and routine could use some decluttering, you aren’t alone. Research shows that people living in cluttered spaces tend to feel more stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed, which lead to poor eating and sleep habits. A cluttered space may not be the first thing we think of as a stressor, but it’s true that the clutter affects our feelings of ease at home - I've certainly felt it and seen it in action. It’s important to note that each person has a different threshold for clutter in their home. Some people enjoy more open space while others feel more comfortable surrounded by a larger volume of items.
Maybe you’ve been living in a home that you feel is cluttered and would like to change your situation. It’s possible that you’ve made the attempt to fix it on your own and just can’t seem to “get it right.” Not to worry, everyone needs a little help sometimes! It’s a great first step to acknowledge the desire for change, and even more brave to try and fix it. Someone looking to get healthier might start working with a personal trainer or nutritionist in order to get expert advice and coaching. We hire accountants, lawyers, plumbers, and other experts to help us in different areas of our lives. Along those same lines, someone looking to declutter and organize their home and/or routine might look to an organizing professional for guidance with their organizational goals.
If you’d like some outside help, be assured there are likely a few professionals in the area to reach out to! I would recommend seeking out a member of NAPO. NAPO members are bound by a code of ethics, participate in ongoing education, network with their colleagues to find the best fit for you, and are tapped into a bounty of resources. It’s important to consider their experience with your particular problem, areas of specialty, and how comfortable you feel when talking to them on the phone.
A professional organizer takes the time to get to know you, understand your needs, and has the skills to work with you to achieve your goals. They’ll have a good idea on where to begin with helping you problem solve and provide encouraging support along the way. And with someone by your side, you’ll be likely to meet your goal much faster than if working alone.
If you’re ready to reach out to an organizing professional near you, feel free to contact me or visit the NAPO Find a Pro Directory.
Would you like to read more about preparing for change? Check out my blog post: Developing a Healthy Mindset and Preparing for Change
Feel like giving it a go on your own? Check out 3 Simple Organizing Projects to Jumpstart Your Spring Cleaning and 7 Tips for Paring Down Your Wardrobe
Psychology Today, "5 Reasons to Clear the Clutter Out of Your Life," https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201705/5-reasons-clear-the-clutter-out-your-life
NAPO GO Month: https://www.napo.net/page/GOMonth2020