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

Go Lightly!

ImagePack lightly…that is!  I mean take one carry-on bag.  This is surprising, coming from a gal that used to pack a different outfit for everyday and occasion.  Many friends and family members, my mother especially, cannot believe I can pack lightly.  So why do it?

The benefits to traveling lightly for a trip are:  less to carry (it is called luggage), less to keep track of, money saved by not paying for baggage fees, not worrying about losing your luggage, not waiting for it to show up or collecting it damaged, not lugging a bag up and down flights of stairs, and by packing lightly we can have space for souvenirs!

Guidelines for packing lightly:  anticipate using a Laundromat or hand washing items, choose fabrics that dry quickly; choose coordinates and layer your clothing; for just this trip- choose comfort over fashion. (Ladies- that means skipping the cute heels.)

Details:  Where are you going, what is the weather, and what activities are you going to participate?

For this example, let’s say you are going to New York City by plane, for a week during the summer.  You will walk the neighborhoods, go to a Broadway Show, go out to eat at a nice restaurant, do some shopping, visit museums, and relax in Central Park.

What to pack in a 22” small carry-on bag?  (Check with airline carrier to confirm acceptable size for carry-on) 

Clothing:

Ladies:

▪    three bottoms, (skort or shorts, capri’s, jeans),

▪    three short-sleeve tops,

▪    one dress,

▪    one long sleeve top,

▪    one cardigan,

▪    one linen white long sleeve shirt,

▪    one dressy long scarf,

▪    one pair of sandals,

▪    one pair of walking shoes,

▪    and one pair of flats (also used as slippers),

▪    pj’s,

▪    four underwear,

▪    two bras (wear one),

▪    hat (optional)

▪    four pairs of socks or footies

▪    swimsuit (optional),

▪    rain jacket (optional).

Gentlemen:

▪    three bottoms, (shorts, khaki’s/dress pants, jeans),

▪    three or four short-sleeve shirts,

▪    one long sleeve shirt,

▪    sportcoat,

▪    one pair of sandals,

▪    one pair of walking shoes,

▪    pj’s,

▪    four underwear,

▪    hat (optional),

▪    four pairs of socks,

▪    swimsuit (optional),

▪    rain jacket (optional).

Toiletries + Other Items:

Liquids placed in a quart size ziplock bag- and put in the outside front pocket of carry-on, made easily accessible to go through security.

  •  Toothbrush/toothpaste/floss
  •  Face soap
  •  Face lotion
  •  Sunglasses
  •  Small paper notebook/pen
  •  Small collapsible umbrella
  •  Shampoo (LUSH sells solid shampoo/conditioner- does not count as a liquid)
  •  Brush/comb
  •  Razor/shaving cream
  •  Sunscreen (small 70 from Neutrogena)
  •  First aid kit/moleskin/blister kit
  •  Deodorant
  •  Nail clippers/emory board
  •  Hand sanitizer
  •  OTC remedies (whatever works for you): Pepto, decongestants, immodium, etc.
  •  Baby powder (small)
  •  Phone and necessary charger
  •  Cameras, charger, cords, memory cards
  •  Tissue pack
  •  Few plastic ziplock baggies (small and large)
  •  Small stain remover pen
  •  Wallet items (money, credit cards, etc.)

Additional Items –if needed or necessary:

  •  Jewelry (no more than 3 pairs of earrings, keep it simple) / necklace
  •  Hairclips
  •  Earplugs (if you use them
  •  One travel purse
  •  Hair products
  •  Makeup & makeup remover
  •  Vitamins
  •  Feminine hygiene products
  •  Prescriptions
  •  Q-tips
  •  Lotion (unless at hotel)
  •  Travel type purse- with many pockets- can be worn across body
  •  Small gifts from your hometown to give to waiters, hosts, etc.

Wear on the plane:

  • Jeans/pants, short sleeve shirt, carry yourcardigan (or sportcoat), scarf, and wear your “biggest shoes.”

Strategies for packing your one carry-on suitcase:  Roll your clothing (additional tip:  try “packing cubes”) stuff socks/underwear in shoes, save room by putting your “non-liquid” toiletries in a separate ziplock/or small case- rather than placing them with your liquids.

Try “Going Lightly”next time you travel!  When you return from your trip, look at everything you packed and make note of what you used. If you didn’t use it, don’t pack it next time. If there was something you needed and didn’t have, think about packing that next time.

Copy and paste the items listed and make yourself a “check-off” packing list to use repeatedly.

Please share your experience with me by e-mailing Wholly Organized at lynne@wholly-organized.com.

Happy and safe travels!

New & Improved To-Do List!

Are you overwhelmed and exhausted AND have too much to do?  Are you wondering how you are going to do everything?  The thought of it all makes you more tired?

I came up with this strategy when I found myself overwhelmed.  The result of SWATS

SWATS!

SWATS!

is my “new and improved to-do list.”

SWATS

Stop              Stop when you can stop.

Write              Grab a notepad. Write down all the things that come to your mind; all your                             “to-do’s.”  Don’t worry about the order or organizing the items.

Arrange         Arrange the items in groupings.  Use one sheet of paper or a number of                                 sheets depending on what works best for you.  Categories may be as                              follows:  calls, at computer, errands, actions, and waiting for.

Time              Note the amount of time for each task, in minutes, next to each item (as                                    posted on a February 22nd, 2013 Facebook post).

Schedule      Map out when you can tackle each task and schedule it!

Key things to remember:  We can only do so much, be realistic about what you can do in one day (given interruptions, e-mails, phone calls, your energy level).  Group like things together and take care of as many of the same tasks in one segment as possible- this approach helps those who want better focus.

Apple users:  Use reminders and have a page for each category.

Check out “Getting Things Done” by David Allen- he has great ideas. I learned about “Waiting For” in his book.  Changed my life!

So you want to organize your basement?

So…you want to organize your basement and you don’t know where to start? Here are some guidelines to get you started. 

First, make two lists:

  • Things you want to do in the basement (how you want to use the space)
  • Things you want to live in the basement (what you store in the space)

Based on those lists, divide the basement into zones such as office area, recreation area, bar area, workout area, storage area, etc.  The storage area might be divided into smaller areas such as Christmas decorations, luggage, memories, tools, etc.

Once you have established zones, now you need trash bags, boxes/bins, sticky notes, and a pen.   Establish a “staging” area and use sticky notes to label the boxes or bags according to these categories: 

  1. Trash
  2. Recycle
  3. Shred-bank statements, credit card bills, anything with personal information
  4. Donate
  5. Lives somewhere else-could be another part of the house or something you borrowed
  6. Keep and lives in the basement

Pick one of your zones, decide how long you will work (maybe start with an hour) and begin sorting using the six categories above.  Be honest with yourself: are you really going to use that item that has not been out of its box in 10 years?  Do you really need all those old magazines, bills or snail mail?  Leave 20 minutes at the end of your sorting session to do the following:  take trash out, place recycling in your receptacle, put donations and shredding (if you have a large quantity) in your car and schedule drop offs this week, take the items in your “live in another area of the house” and return them to their “homes.”

Repeat this process with each zone in your basement.  Wait to purchase organizing bins and shelving units until you have identified the items you will keep.  This will save money since there will less “stuff” than when you started.  Clear bins are preferred because we can see what is inside them quickly! 

Often we identify additional projects as a result of “organizing the basement” (photo sorting, file clean out, framing pictures).  We suggest that you map out a plan to tackle these projects separately.   Watch the “trap” of getting side-tracked and pulled toward a different project while going through the process of organizing the basement.   The box for things that “live somewhere else” is suggested for just this reason.  Stay focused on your zone.  Do not run upstairs to return something to the kitchen.  Do all your returning at the end of your session.

Repeat this process for all of the zones.  Before you know it, you will enjoy the feeling of relief, accomplishment and joy from having an organized space to use just the way YOU want to use it!