Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It Feels Like Spring

I don't know about you, but yesterday with the sun shining so brightly and the temperature in the high 40s, it almost felt like spring was in the air. Just as nature changes for the better (in my opinion) in the spring, many of us feel the urge to bring positive change to our homes, schedules and self. With spring, comes the desire to make our homes lighter and brighter. Additionally, we look for ways we can free up some time to enjoy the longer days and maybe make some positive self changes a long the way...especially if we have long forgotten our New Year's resolutions.

Several new clients have reminded me of the amazing, uplifting power of letting go of clutter. For one client in particular, we had two storage units to clean out, and what I estimated would take several days, ended up getting accomplished in 1 day. A lot of it was due to her readiness to let go of things that she wasn't using and that didn't hold any particular significance now. She was able to gain great satisfaction knowing that these perfectly good items were going to be reused by people who need them now. She was able to move at a quick pace because she was highly motivated to clear out the clutter and she was mentally prepared to face whatever was in storage. By the end of the day she was beaming, and though we were tired, it was such a good feeling to witness her sense of satisfaction and happiness.

Organizing does have many benefits, and a significant one is through the process of letting go of clutter, it does enhance happiness. I have seen time and time again how organizing can have a domino effect whereby a person becomes more motivated to focus on personal goals such as undertaking a job search, working on a weight management program, or going to the gym regularly.

We all want more time to do whatever it is that makes us happy. Organizing can help us find extra windows of time in our day so that we can direct our time. Okay, so I realize we have a way to go until spring, but for now, I'll enjoy these first signs of it and smile as I hear the birds chirping out my window. Let's be prepared to embrace spring when it gets here!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Snow Days....

I think it is safe to say that we all are going a little stir crazy! Having an unexpected snow day in the middle of the winter can be fun, and can break up our routines, but too much snow, and too many days off from school (and work) can wreck havoc with our over packed schedules, create stress and sometimes be very demotivating.

Our neighborhood streets are still pretty bad since we haven't been plowed. I have been able to get out, but on a limited basis. Yesterday, I worked out at home and after my surge of endorphins kicked in, proceeded to organize my office closet, and knock out a few work to dos that I've delayed getting to. While I was busy doing my work, I told my kids, who were home from school again, that I'd take them to Krispy Kreme donuts if they got their rooms picked up and sheets changed on their beds. My daughter needed some help because she is only 5, but my 8 year old brought his laundry down to the laundry room, made-up his bed and picked up his room so that I could dust and he could vacuum. Though he will usually grumble when I remind him to clean-up his space, I can tell he has pride in his room and things, and I feel good knowing he is learning essential life skills. We all felt great that we had accomplished some things before heading off to get their donuts. It was a miracle that I was able to resist getting one...I think the work out helped with that.

I think a major winter snowstorm and the way it encourages neighbors to reach out and help each other is a great teaching tool for parents. My husband and I talked with our son about how proud we were that he had on his own, tried to help some of our neighbors with their shoveling. We talked about how important it is to help neighbors who live by themselves and who may not be as physically able to deal with the snow.

I hope the schools reopen tomorrow...unlikely, but if they don't, I am hopeful that I will work on some other projects I have been putting off. And who knows, maybe I can get my kids to work on cleaning up the playroom.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Three Elements to Organizing

I am sometimes asked by a client why a room that we have worked on together still gets disorganized. Sometimes it is because the system needs tweaking, or it may be time again for a good purge. Though, sometimes it is because there are some habits or behaviors that if modified, could help support the system.

Usually the first phase of organizing focuses on the physical space. This is where the most change happens. In order to organize a space, items need to be sorted and purged. Once a client has identified the remaining objects in a room, then the room is zoned, items are grouped by type and then a home is found for each item and/or group of items. We then talk about storage and strategize on ways to keep the system up.

This is where we talk about types of behaviors or habits that help or hurt the system. I encourage clients to have simple, uncomplicated systems that support their habits and behaviors. Don't have a mud room? Create one and have an area for each person in the house to put their briefcase/purse/backpack, etc. Have it become a routine to place your important bags and necessary items needed for the next day to minimize the morning, "where is my homework?" Have an issue with mail piling up? Does the system you have created for processing the mail work? Maybe you need to create a routine to process the mail.

Probably one of the most important aspects of organizing is the end of day 15 minute pick-up and next day planning. This is really important to maintain a sense of organization and order, especially if kids are part of the equation. An effective way to stay on top of your priorities is to plan ahead and figure out what your most important tasks/to dos are for the next day. In order to make things happen, a person has to have a plan.

The reality of life is rooms get messy, but if the right systems are created, it should not take a lot of time to pick them up. Have a plan so that you are reacting less and are checking things off your to do list.