One Thing Learned: Use my Filter!

This past week I experienced my own whirlwind.  I left the house at 10:00 a.m. on Friday to meet my friend from kindergarten at the Cincinatti IKEA. After spending three hours exploring we rested for an hour and then enjoyed dinner at a cozy lodge. Saturday morning she ventured home and I entered an eight-hour long conference. As if three hours weren’t enough, I went back to IKEA after the conference to “pick up a couple needed things.” At dusk I drove to my in-laws 2 1/2 hours back up north,   enjoyed dinner together and then promptly hit the hay. After a breakfast with them I drove across town to the mecca of Easton Shopping Center in Columbus to meet two fellow organizers. We spent three hours grazing each aisle of our beloved Container Store- making videos, sharing stories, talking products, and really enjoying each other’s company. After a 30 minute “rest” we met up with five additional organizers for a wine tasting and dinner.  Trudging through the snow we settled in around 10 pm.

We rose on Monday at 7 ish and enjoyed a meal together before meeting up with 33 people to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House all day. On our feet moving supplies, trouble-shooting, and getting the job done made for a full day’s work. I got a jump on the traffic and journeyed two hours home, but took a detour to the grocery to pick up breakfast goodies for the meeting I was sponsoring the next morning. After the meeting on Tuesday I met with an older adult for three hours to organize and continued the momentum and drove to Cleveland so I could record three interviews with Jim Brickman about organizing for his radio show. I collapsed in bed on Tuesday night at 8PM.

What on earth? Just because I can do everything in a day, doesn’t mean that I should. My enthusiasm about doing everything can lead me to burn out. I love what I do, want to help, and want to connect. On Thursday and Friday I had three cancellations.  Cancellations = no business and this is usually not helpful.  But this time, my clients unknowingly gave me a reprieve that I needed. It is Friday now.  I am rested, more relaxed, have re-grouped and am ready to go.

I need to follow my own advice and use a filter.  When I am faced with multiple demands and opportunities- my filtering questions are: “Do I have time for this? Is participating going to lead me to my goals?  Am I taking care of myself? Will I pay a price if I do or don’t do this?

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Book Review: “Conscious Order: Clear Your Mind, Leave Clutter Behind” by Annie Rohrbach

“Conscious Order: Clear Your Mind, Leave Clutter Behind”   by Annie Rohrbach

Immediately upon meeting Annie at the May 2014 NAPO Conference I knew we would know one another a very long time.  Both of us believe in a Holistic Approach to helping our organizing clients.  

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In her book, she gets us thinking about why we want to get organized and then how the power of our choices lays the foundation of creating a less cluttered life.  

One example of a new choice that she shares:  “I choose to let go of the things in my mind, my home, my office, and my life that no longer serve me.” 

Research shows that 90% of our self-talk is negative.  Try reframing the “I don’t have enough time,” to “There is plenty of time for me to do what is most important to me.

The list of specific types of clutter is insightful:

  • Gift Clutter
  • Fix-It Clutter
  • Don’t-Know-Where-to-Put-it Clutter
  • Too-Nice-to-Toss Clutter
  • It-Might-Be-Worth-Something-Someday Clutter
  • Might-Need-It-Someday Clutter
  • The-Kids-May-Need-It-Someday Clutter
  • Should Clutter
  • Inherited Clutter
  • Other People Clutter
  • Event Clutter
  • Unfinished Projects Clutter
  • I’ll-Deal-With-it-Later Clutter
  • Kids Clutter
  • Stuff-It Clutter
  • Heap Clutter
  • Paper Clutter

Here are a few of the great questions we can ask ourselves when “we hit a wall:”

  • If I were moving, would I take it with me?
  • Would someone else make better use of this, or use it more often than me?
  • What’s the worst thing that will happen if I let go of it?
  • Is it in alignment with the life and intentions I am now choosing?
  • Will this just add to my clutter?

Other areas explored in this book are:  fear, awareness, and life transitions.  She offers ways to work through them all. 

Remember, what you focus on gets energized; what you are grateful for increases. 

Book Review: “The Boomer Burden”

“The Boomer Burden” by Julie Hall (The Estate Lady®)

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A fellow Organizer Colleague and friend, Deb Heimann made me aware of this book earlier this year and I can hardly stop talking about it. Why? Because as a Professional Organizer I help people sort through their stuff and de-clutter. AND my parents are nearing 80 and guess who will be sorting through their stuff?

“When we lose a parent it is devastating to most and then to face the reality that no one had prepared for this eventuality makes it even more difficult.” The author calls this “the boomer burden.” “If a family has not adequately prepared for the inevitable loss of their parents, the grief at the funeral will quickly turn into a nightmare. For those who are unprepared for this event, the legal technicalities and process of cleaning out the parents’ estate can drag on for months and sometimes years.”

The author got me thinking about how many of us avoid thinking about death. Because life is going at a warp speed, we don’t take the time to ponder the inevitable. And if we do take the time to ponder death, then we must also confront our own mortality. Preparing for your parents’ passing will also prepare you so that your kids never have to go through what you’re going through. Many people just don’t know how to get their affairs in order.

Get things in order!

  1. Create a will and a division of assets (it is a fairly simple process, make an appointment with an attorney and get it done).
  2. Assign an executor and a power of attorney
  3. Locate all important papers
  4. Know the monthly bill and expenses system
  5. Plan end-of-life decisions
  6. Make funeral plans

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The 7 Reasons to Get Rid of Your Own Stuff

  1. You will experience less anxiety and worry about all the stuff you seldom use.
  2. You will spend less time looking for things.
  3. You will be helping people in need.
  4. You will have more time to do what you really want to do.
  5. You will find things you forgot you owned.
  6. You will revitalize your routine with a new adventure.
  7. You will protect your kids from ever having to do what you have done/will do/ or are doing with your parent’s home.

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 6 Reasons it is Hard to Get Rid of Stuff:

  1. One spouse hoards, and to keep the peace, the other spouse just tolerates it.
  2. Clever advertising screams an irresistible message, you need to buy this to be happy!
  3. We can afford it.
  4. Even if we can’t afford it, its’ easy to buy stuff with just a swipe of a card.
  5. Peer pressure doesn’t stop at high school.
  6. Blurred lines between wants and needs.

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 8 Indicators That I May Have Too Much Stuff:

  1. When I go to hang up a shirt in the closet, I have to push apart the other clothes to make space.
  2. I can’t see the floor in my closets.
  3. All of our kids have moved out.
  4. At least one bedroom has been turned into a storage area.
  5. We rent storage space or have a filled a small storage barn.
  6. There are more licensed vehicles that licensed drivers in our home.
  7. We have more than one credit card, and on one we are only paying the minimum balance each month.
  8. We can’t put our vehicles in the garage because we use it for storage.

 

Have no fear, the great thing about letting go of stuff and starting this process, is that you don’t have to do it all today.

 

“The best gift that you can give to your kids is to not leave them with an accumulation of your stuff.”

 

If I could, I would buy this book for every person that I meet. It is a must for anyone’s library. There is a great “Complete Parent Care Checklist” at the end of the book that is incredibly useful.

 

Crazy thing!  My friend alerted me that this book is available for only $1.99 through Amazon for Kindle for $1.99! http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007V91MX2/?tag=rdtyc-20  Love it when the “stars align!” 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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 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.