Toddler to College: a story of a college grad letting go.

Coming and going from college for four years can really cause some clutter build up. Every time I would come home from school, more boxes and miscellaneous items would wind up in the back of the my closets. My family also started using one of my closets, since I’m the only one with two, for storing things that didn’t fit in theirs. So when I graduated this May all of the accumulation really hit me and I realized that I needed some help.

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I have been fortunate enough to know Lynne my whole life, and I was thrilled when she agreed to help me with my closet problem.

Lynne & Jess 90's!

I couldn’t even see the floor in there anymore! I knew that having recently graduated, and planning to move in November, I needed to let go of some things and free up space.

Lynne is a close family friend, and at first I wasn’t sure how working with her as an organizer would be. Our relationship is similar to that of an aunt and niece, but as soon as the organizing process begun my reservations flew out the window. First she evaluated the situation, and we set up some goals that I wanted to achieve by the end of the day. Then we talked about things that I would be willing to get rid of, what kind of things we might find in the closet and what things I knew I wanted to keep.

Lynne & Jess

As we got to work on clearing out the closets so we could see everything that we needed to deal with, I realized more and more how overwhelmed I would’ve been without Lynne helping me. I think that it’s very easy to say “I can do it myself” or “I don’t really need the help”, but sometimes, you do! If I had tried to tackle the task myself, I think I would’ve quit about halfway through. Lynne kept me motivated, kept me on task with lots of piles, sticky notes and planning, and eased me through an otherwise daunting task.

Lynne was understanding about things that I wanted to keep, and caught on quickly about which items might be important to me and what things I wasn’t attached to. She was also great at delegating things that we could tackle separately, to get the job done more efficiently. At the end of the time, I felt so relieved and like I had done something really significant as a step forward in my post-grad life.

There were still some things that we didn’t get to, so Lynne left me with a simple list of tasks that I have been working on day by day since we did my closets. It is nice to have that written out, and its on the wall in between the closets. Checking one thing off of my list each day makes me feel accomplished and successful.

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Before when I opened my closet doors, I felt stifled and like I couldn’t breathe looking at them. Now I can see the floor in there again, everything is neatly in its place and all of the things that I really didn’t need will be donated to people who can enjoy them. I can’t thank Lynne enough for such a positive and rewarding experience. If this situation sounds like something you might be going through, don’t hesitate to ask for help! Get your post-grad life on the right track to being Wholly Organized.

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-Jess Antrobus

Friend and Director of Social Media Marketing for Wholly Organized!LLC

31 ways to be a better leader

Do you have 3 minutes to be a better leader? Grasp the 10 Truths!

 “The Truth About Leadership” by James M. Kouzes & Barry Z. Posner, was introduced to me by Ned Parks, the facilitator of the ’13-’14 Leadership Stow Group. Summarizing a book is the best way that I learn and a great way to defy the trap of having “smart shelves;” put that good reading you do to work! I am sharing 31 takeaways that stood out to me as great reminders on how you can be a better leader.

leadership

 Truth #1: You make a difference

  • Leadership is accessible to anyone who has a passion and purpose to change the way things are. 
  • Leadership is not a birthright. It’s not about position or title. It’s not about power or authority. It’s not about celebrity or wealth.
  • Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you…and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

 Truth #2: Credibility is the foundation for leadership

  • Being honest means telling the truth and having ethical principles and clear standards by which you live.
  • You don’t have to be the most skilled engineer to lead a high-technology company.

 Truth #3: Values drive commitment

  • You cannot fully commit to something that isn’t important to you- no one can.
  • In order to devote the time, to expend the energy, and to make the sacrifices  necessary, you have to know exactly what makes it worth doing in the first 
  • Leadership is a relationship, and relationships are built on mutual understanding.

 Truth #4: Focusing on the future sets leaders apart

  • Research on top executives show (sadly) only 3% of their time is spent thinking about 10 years down the road. Not enough time- we must be disciplined.
  • Be your “organization’s future department!” 
  • The best leaders defy the verdict that we are doomed.

 Truth #5: You can’t do it alone

  • Leaders are here to serve others. 
  • One of the reasons people want to follow a leader is because they know that they will be better off as a result of being in that relationship that they would otherwise.
  • Effective leaders understand that their role is to bring out the answers in others.

 Truth #6: Trust rules

  • People who demonstrate trust in others are seen as more trustworthy       themselves.
  • Someone has to start the positive cycle of trust.
  • “Can we trust you?”…”I can’t answer that for you, but let me tell you that I trust  each and every one of you.”

 Truth #7: Challenge is the crucible for greatness

  • There are no shortages of opportunities to change the way things are. View challenge as an opportunity and not as a threat.
  • Challenges can be harsh ways of reminding you of what’s important, what you value, and where you want to go.
  • Whenever you are making meaningful changes, you will sometimes fail.

 Truth #8:You either lead by example or you don’t lead at all

  • You have to model the way you want others to feel, think, and act. 
  • A big part of being credible is keeping your promises.
  • A willingness on my part to admit mistakes sets a positive example for others.

 Truth #9: The best leaders are the best learners

  • Learning is the master skill. 
  • No matter how good you are, you can always get better. 
  • The first thing to learn is that you can learn to lead.
  • Rough metric of what it takes to achieve the highest level of expertise: 10,000 hours of practice over a period of ten years. That’s about 2.7 hours a day, every day, for 10 years. 
  • Be careful that you don’t focus more on “looking good” than “being good.”
  • Leaders can’t lead alone. They can’t learn alone either.

 Truth #10:Leadership is an affair of the heart

  • Research indicates that the highest performing managers and leaders are the most open and caring.
  • Purely and simply, exemplary leaders excel at improving performance because they pay great attention to the human heart.
  • Exemplary leaders do not place themselves at the center; they place others there.

Pick one truth and develop it this week. “You can’t fast track your way to excellence.”

Family Ties

Looking for a way to make your organizing project more efficient or to support someone else’s organizing project?  Here’s a key tip to reach that objective:  get the family involved!  My experience as a Professional Organizer has taught me that family support and involvement has several positive impacts.  First, the client feels that they are not “in this alone”.  Support and encouragement from family helps to ease the stress of letting go of possessions.  I’ve seen how the spirits of clients are lifted by direct family support.  I have also seen how clients react positively to the relief and joy in their families when getting rid of possessions that the family may have had to deal with in the future.    

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Another important way that family members support the process is by taking an active role in the decisions to donate, recycle, sell or keep various possessions.  For example, a client may want to keep something thinking that a family member really wants the item. However after open and honest discussion, the client may find that the family member doesn’t really want it.  I have also seen just the opposite, in a situation where a client wants to donate or sell an item not knowing that a family member wants or needs the item.   In conclusion, whether you are engaged in your own organizing project or you are a professional organizer, get the family involved!

 

“The Boomer Burden” by Julie Hall is an excellent resource.

Simplifying!

An interview my Assistant conducted with one of my clients. What impresses me about this client is her practicality and acceptance in letting go. She has inspired me to let go of books that I haven’t looked at in four years!

Books!

Why books?

Well it’s really anything I’m not using. I’ve always felt really connected to books, but there is no real purpose to keeping them. It’s a hassle when you’re trying to move, and how do you really store them? I realized that I’d wanted to keep them to remember that I’ve read them, but there are other ways to keep track of that.

What other things are you getting rid of?

My husband’s old tools, and things of his that I don’t use. I’m also looking to move into a smaller house because we only use a few rooms as it is. I would rather just have the things that we use on a daily basis. My girls’ clothes need to be paired down; laundry always takes up a lot of time, drawer space is low. Maintaining clothes just takes a long time.

How did you get connected with Lynne?

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I found her online, and we started with my basement. Lynne said it wasn’t that bad but it was significant for me. A lot of boxes hadn’t been unpacked since we moved. My family are all really organized people and I didn’t know if they would understand to help me.
Lynne is really understanding, compassionate and non-critical. She really motivated me to keep going.

Letting Go of Stuff- A Client’s Story

IMG_4652    I grew up being told to hang on to all of my childhood toys and memorabilia. The message was: “These are memories you are going to want to keep to share with your children.” “Your toys are going to be valuable collector’s items.” So I hung onto to everything. The reality of it was I moved it from one home to the next. It languished in boxes collecting dust, getting musty, and ruined by mice.

When I moved into my most recent home 6 years ago, I was so frustrated with all of this “stuff”. I recognized that I wasn’t going to do anything with it. It was just taking up space. I vowed I wouldn’t move it one more time, but I didn’t know what to do with it. I didn’t want to just throw it away or give it to charity. Feeling a little helpless it sat in my basement.

Now I am entering a wonderful new chapter in my life. I recently got married, and for so many reasons I have never been in a happier, healthier place in my life. We sold my old house and are getting ready to move into a place my husband and I can call ours. It became time to deal with all of that “stuff” in the basement.

Lucky for me, this time I had a secret weapon: Lynne Poulton! She is an incredible friend of mine who also happens to be a compassionate, driven professional organizer. I reached out to her, and she had just the right resources to help. She connected me with people who specialize in buying and reselling the very items I had in my basement. It was such a relief to sell my things to other caring professionals who would give them a new life.

In the end I was able to go through nearly 30 boxes of “stuff”. When I looked at these things in the boxes I was able to separate out my emotions and see it for what it was. I sold the things of worth, kept the things that still had meaning to me, donated a few things, and threw out a lot of what was truly junk. I narrowed down 30 boxes to only 5 boxes of what I genuinely want to keep.

It is amazing how relieved I feel. My basement is transformed, and I wish I had done this years ago! However, I am very happy to move deliberately into a new chapter of my life with only the things that I really want to carry with me. I am making this new move in a state of peace having intentionally managed my struggle with “stuff”.

 

Delegate- Yes!

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Since August (my last post), I have been delegating. :) Delegating is an art.  Delegating is about letting go.  An organizer needs to support their clients in their choices to let go and delegate.  What better way to support a client, than to practice the action?  I am practicing delegating and letting go during this holiday season.  In preparation for the Thanksgiving Meal this year, I was challenged to ask family members to bring more than I had asked in previous years.  My husband and I would do the turkey, stuffing, appetizer, and GET THE HOUSE READY!  The difficulty for me in delegating (and in this case – menu items) is that things are not exactly as I want them, they are not what I chose and prepared how I would prepare them, and may not look how I want them to look.  Who cares?  Well, I did and I have.  I want to change.  Why?  Because, I have too much to do and I don’t have to do it all.  My clients say the same thing.  A good friend of mine taught me an important question to ask when I am caught in the trap of not wanting to delegate or let go…it is “What is the resistance?” The next time you find yourself stuck in not wanting to delegate or let go, ask yourself this question.  Then, ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that can happen?” (can you live with it?…probably yes)  and “What good can come out of delegating or letting go?”  The worst thing would of been if someone forgot to bring a food item (let’s be real, we have enough to eat.) Because I delegated, I experienced relief, more calm, and more energy on the Friday after Thanksgiving than I ever have.  What will I delegate next?  Hmmm….

Paper… Oh My!

ImageDo you have a space that looks something like this?  Are you sick of it?  Are you constantly looking for “that piece of paper?”

Here are tips to get you started on sorting through piles of paper:

Useful supplies to collect right before starting:

  • Bag or box for papers that can be recycled
  • Bag or box for papers that will be shredded
  • Notebook and pen
  • Empty file box (some type of container) and empty hang files & file folders
  • Sharpie marker and post it notes

Let’s start!  Grab a pile of paper and start sorting.  Everyone’s paper piles and file systems are unique.  You will use the post-it notes & sharpie to create temporary file labels for EACH of the categories that you uncover.  You will likely have some of the following categories:  insurance, school papers, read, to do, medical bills, recipes, manuals, receipts, coupons, work papers…

Here is an example of a temporary file system:  (Category written on the opposite end of the sticky, allowing the sticky part to affix to the inside of the hang file.)

ImageUndoubtedly, as you move through you will uncover “things to do/take care of.”  Make note of these “things to do” on a notepad, file in “to do” and keep moving.  Try not to get distracted by going to take care of that thing now.

Keep moving through the piles and make a file for each topic area.  You may choose to use manilla file folders along with the hang files.  The most important actions in sorting through paper is to corral like papers together, give them a home (file), and label it so that you can find it later!

Once you have sorted through ALL your paper.  Then figure out where your hang files/folders are going to live.  You may have a home office, kitchen nook, basement storage area…put files that you touch daily, weekly, monthly near where you take care of paper like activities.  Papers that you never refer to, or rarely, like insurance papers, manuals, financial statements…put these in a file box or cabinet in the basement, closet, or somewhere out of the mix of the papers you need to refer to regularly.

Other helpful ideas:

  • put your coupons in a clear plastic envelope and keep them in the car.
  • develop a recipe binder, put recipes in clear plastic sleeves and organize binder by topic.
  • keep important receipts in a file, drawer, envelope- labeled

You have done it!  You have tackled your paper!  Now you will be able to find things and you will be less stressed.

Contact Lynne Poulton, Wholly Organized! LLC  330.858.5886

http://www.wholly-organized.com