Thursday, September 29, 2011

Too Many Choices

Don’t you cringe sometimes when you go down any store’s aisles at the choices we have? Yes, we are very lucky to have so many choices, but my inner organizer screams, “let’s simplify already” as all of these choices are making it harder to make decisions. In fact I read recently in Real Simple magazine (one of my favorites) that a study led by the University of Minnesota found students faced with multiple choices had less physical stamina and were more likely to procrastinate. I can totally relate to that because that is exactly what I do! The experts at Real Simple recommend that we limit ourselves to fewer than 10 options. I think I agree.

I remember when I was managing a home renovation project for my family that having to make so many decisions in a short amount of time was very stressful. I couldn’t procrastinate – I had to make the decisions. Luckily we were operating under a very tight budget so I was able to go into stores and direct the sales people to only show me tile, or whatever I was choosing, that fit into our budget.

I think having so many choices may contribute to the excess of stuff that we all have. We overbuy and then we need to have more storage to contain all of our things. Our excess of things can cause us more stress instead of the positive effect we thought it would bring by buying it. By no means am I saying we should be like the guy who lived for a year with just 100 things. I just think we need to narrow our focus more and really be sure we need or truly want something before we buy it.

I’m not sure why I am writing about this other than I had lunch with a friend today, and somehow the topic got around to clothes and makeup. I was lamenting to her that I need some new additions in both areas, but I am so overwhelmed by all of the choices…especially the whole skin care arena. I think I just need to do a little research so that I can narrow my focus and not be distracted by products I don't want, when I finally get up the courage to go buy some new skincare and makeup products.

Remember, with our stuff, the less we have, the richer in some ways our lives become. So when faced with purchasing decisions, the more we can narrow our choices, based on our specific needs and criteria, the easier it is to make the right choice.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Creat Fall ORDER in your Work and Home Lives

I feel like I’ve been running ever since we returned from vacation late last Saturday. We traveled to San Diego and had a wonderful time, but getting out of vacation mode and adjusted back to east coast time, coupled with a fun-filled Labor Day weekend, was too busy so close to the start of the school year. It didn’t leave much time to get the kids back into an earlier bedtime routine! Oh well, we have been doing okay, despite all the rain, and have only had a few bumps getting out the door in the morning. I realize all will be fine as we adjust to our fall schedules and routines.

So with school starting this week, I have been thinking about what I want to accomplish both personally and professionally this fall. In order to be productive I realize I’ve got to implement some changes. I know some people don’t like order, but as a professional organizer, I’m all about it. When I’m starting to feel stressed or a little overwhelmed I realize I need to pause, take inventory of what is out of whack and bring back the calmness…I know sort of zen.

Think about bringing more ORDER to your life by implementing some of these strategies.

O – Organize – I believe that our environments directly relate to the way we feel. If it is cluttered and unappealing, we won’t feel relaxed, our thoughts become cluttered and we feel more stressed. Even with great systems in place, spaces can get cluttered due to the pace of life. When I feel overwhelmed, usually I start to organize my office, kitchen cabinets, pantry or various rooms in my home. It works miracles, is energizing and has an amazing domino effect to increase productivity in other areas of my life.

R – Routines – It is important to establish morning and evening routines especially for children and to discuss them, practice them, and get their buy in so that they know what is expected. Routines for adults also contribute to saving time (no searching for lost keys), and enhance productivity because established routines allow us to free up our minds to focus on our priorities. Creating a routine for any standard practice we repeat daily frees up time and reduces stress because we don’t have to worry about the details of life.

D – Decisions – every day we have 24 hours to decide how we are going to use it. How do we figure out what truly are our top priorities. It is important to be able to make decisions and differentiate between what is an immediate priority and what is still important, but can wait. What happens a lot is we all get into reactive mode instead of planning and prioritizing so that we can decide thoughtfully.

E – Edit – I have learned to be skillful at different types of editing. There is the physical space editing that reduces clutter and enhances visual space. The other editing is related to time, editing out tasks, events and other time takers that aren’t important now, can be deferred or permanently deleted off of my schedule. This is a skill and like everyone, I can be great at it, but I also have months where I’m not editing items off of my schedule as I should.

R – Ready – In my house I’m always saying to my kids, “Are you ready for tomorrow? or “Is your backpack ready and in the right place?” Everything that can be done the night before, should be, both for kids and adults. Time just slips away in the morning and there is some comfort in knowing that if there is an alarm snafu or a mini crisis in the a.m., at least all bags are packed and are ready to go.

Good luck establishing fall order in your home and work lives!