"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of their treasures."
Thornton Wilder 1897-1975, Pulitzer Prize Winning Playwright and Novelist
"I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition."
1731-1802, First Lady of the United States
"Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy."
Author and Speaker
Since 1998 I've been helping people take charge of their lives through teaching them to declutter, organize and master time management and productivity skills but sometimes I feel like a magician too. Inevitably, once we get my clients to put their physical stuff in motion (which usually OUT the door) and they begin making thoughful, deliberate, and powerful decisions about what to do with the things that remain, a magical thing happens.
They experience a mindset shift and all sorts of things start to change. They begin to release intangibles too, which makes the physical decluttering that much sweeter. Here are a few things some clients were inspired or able to let go either during or after our work together.
Karen* lost some excess weight she had been carrying for several years.
Lisa* gave up stressing about her mother-in-law's expectations of her house.
Jennifer* gave up trying to control her husband's habits.
Regina* let go of her old attitudes about money.
Tracy* released a few friendships that were no longer healthy or fulfilling.
Eric* gave up trying to do everything for his small business and began delegating and outsourcing.
Christy* left an unfulfilling career to begin a new work adventure on her own.
When we take action to "un-stick" areas of our lives, it creates a ripple effect that shakes up our minds and at the same time shake off the dust of the past. Taking positive action frees up space, time and energy and it invites the possibility of NEW opportunities, ideas, and plans for the future.
What have you shaken off or given up this year?
"I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again."
"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, 'I'll try again tomorrow.'"
Mary Anne Radmacher
Author and Artist
Chocolate or vanilla? Paper or plastic? Ginger or Mary Ann? Paper planner or digital? These are the questions of the universe. A few years ago I switched from using a paper-based organizing and planning system to electronic. Between my Macbook Pro, my Android phone and the cloud, I’m a synchronistic calendaring machine. One of the best things about organizing your life is that YOU are the boss of you! You get to say when and how you tackle the process, and if you try something that doesn’t work you can try something else.
Organizing your home, de-cluttering your life and taking control of your finances sometimes takes a little trial and error. You may need to tweak your systems before you settle on what finally works best for you and that’s just fine.
Organizing your time is no different from organizing anything else in your life. You choose a system, try it out and see how you like it. If it works, great! Keep using it. If not, try something else. In the quest to find the perfect planning tool, you may wonder which is better between paper or digital.
As an organizing expert and a consumer, my professional advice is this: Neither one is better. Each has its own merits and drawbacks and you should choose the one with the benefits you want and the drawbacks you can live with. Here are some pros and cons to both digital and paper planning and calendaring systems:
It’s low-tech. No batteries or electricity needed. You don’t need a special skill or to master a learning curve to use it. You can get the big picture, viewing a month at a time. You can write free form, erase and jot in margins. Paper makes note-taking fast and easy. It doesn’t depend on an Internet connection to work. If you drop it, it won’t break. No risk of data loss from a crash.
You have to manually record recurring events. There’s no super quick way to search for past notes or events. If you lose it, there’s no backup. It’s not secure or password protected so information could be vulnerable. Paper calendars / planners can be bulky and cumbersome to carry. It won’t automatically sync with anyone else’s calendar. You need to repurchase a new planner each year.
Digital / Electronic Pros
If you keep your calendar on a smartphone, it’s super portable. Your calendar can be backed up in multiple spots in case you lose your phone. Everything is searchable. You can set recurring events and appointments. You can opt to receive reminders of appointments. You can sync calendars with other people. Virtually unlimited storage space.
Digital / Eletronic Cons
Requires an external power source such as electricity or battery. Typically requires an Internet connection to sync and backup data. If you drop it, it may break, which means purchasing a new one. Subject to data loss or hard drive crash.
All choices have pros and cons, so when choosing a planning system, don’t let the decision-making process itself stop you in your tracks. Simply review the pros and cons of each system, decide which benefits are most important and choose the system that most closely aligns with your preferences.
Remember, change can be a challenge, so there may be a learning curve. Just stick with your new system consistently for thirty days so you can give it a fair evaluation. After thirty days you’ll know whether it’s really working for you. If not, tweak it slightly or switch it up completely. The choice is yours.
I admit, math has never been my biggest strength. Yes I struggled with fractions (I’m still not sure how to multiply them) and it’s truly a miracle that my 8th grade Algebra teacher, Mr. Simonton, didn’t retire from teaching after having me in his class. I’m not even kidding. Poor sweet man did NOT deserve that.
Fast forward to adulthood and I began to realize and appreciate the value of math in everyday life and in my work. As a passionate cook and baker, I constantly use math to reduce and expand recipes.
As a Certified Professional Organizer®, every time I make a scale drawing floor plan of a home office, I use math. Every time I measure a closet to create a fabulous new design, I use math. Every basement or garage shelving and storage system I design requires math. Heck, space planning requires the ability to think in three dimensions so now we’re talking CUBIC feet and inches. So yes, I suppose I’ve made friends with math after all this time. Have you?
Have you ever heard the expression, “Tryin’ to put ten pounds of stuff into a five-pound bag”? The meaning is clear and its essence is really just about math. You simply can’t FIT ten pounds of stuff into a bag that only holds five pounds of stuff. It’s not your fault, it’s just the reality of the situation.
The spaces where you live and work are nothing more than huge containers. Just like that five-pound capacity bag, your home and work containers hold a certain volume and no more. If you’re like many people, your math isn’t working, because you have more stuff than you have space for and the bad news is that you can’t outsmart math.
Here are some of the most common excuses people give for their math problems:
1. My house / office is too small.
2. My wife / husband / kids / dog bring in too much stuff.
3. I might need those dishes / clothes / tools / papers someday.
4. I don’t have time to get organized.
5. But I love all my stuff.
Here are the answers to those five excuses:
1. You think your house is too small? Your house will never be big enough if you don’t change your mindset and your habits. Clutter expands to fill the space available. The more space you have available, the more clutter you’ll have. I promise you, having more space is not the answer.
2. You think someone else in your life brings in too much stuff? Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. Regardless, be an example. Teach them another way. Simple systems such as putting incoming mail into a basket every day, or hanging action items under a refrigerator magnet are quick and easy to teach and provide big value.
3. You think you might need it someday. Sure, you might. But you also might not. And if you haven’t used that thing in a long time, or you forgot you had it, the odds are good you won’t need it someday. So why not err on the side that gives you less clutter, more space, freedom and room to move?
4. You think you don’t have time to get organized? Right now, you have all the time you’ll ever have. There is no secret stash of time lurking in your life just waiting to be pulled out at the right moment. Today is all you have. You can make time to do anything that’s important to you. But will you?
5. You love all your stuff? News flash! Math is cold-blooded. Math doesn’t care how much you “love” your stuff. Your stuff doesn’t care how much you love your stuff, and furthermore you can be sure your stuff doesn’t love you back. If you’re out of room, you’re out of room!
Before you catch yourself muttering one of the excuses I just rattled off, stop and set a clock or a timer and work for ONLY fifteen minutes on an organizing or de-cluttering project. Once your timer rings, walk away. If you feel compelled to keep working, reset the timer to fifteen minutes and do a second round.
Keep working in small increments and give yourself permission to stop whenever you want. It’s a process not an event. Before you know it, your home and work spaces will be back in balance, there won’t be “stuff overflow” and most importantly you’ll feel strong and powerful in your life again.
"I believe life is a series of near misses. A lot of what we ascribe to luck is not luck at all. It's seizing the day and accepting responsibility for your future. It's seeing what other people don't see. And pursuing that vision."
Chairman and CEO of Starbucks
Since I don't have a father to honor on this day, I'd like to honor my dear friend, Dan, who is one of the best fathers I know.
A Dad's work is important. He teaches his sons how to be men and his daughters how a man treats a woman. To Dan and all you hard-working Dads who do so much to provide for your family, Happy Fathers' Day!
Living in Atlanta for the past (gulp) seventeen years, I've heard "It's not the heat that gets ya... it's the humidity!" How does that relate to organizing your life?
It doesn't really, but it makes me think about how many people believe that one aspect of disorganization is making them ineffective, unproductive and miserable, when, like the humidty, it's actually something else. Maybe you've even had these thoughts yourself.You think if you just had the right tools, you'd be more organized. But despite new file cabinets, shelves, sorters, containers, boxes, and all sorts of other organizing tools, you're still disorganized.
You think maybe it's your time management that makes you disorganized.So you buy a new calendar or you sign up for a workshop. Yet still you're disorganized.
You think if you just had more space, you'd be organized. So you buy a bigger desk, a bigger house or get a bigger office. Yet still you're disorganized.
You think it's your stuff's fault. If you could just declutter, you'd be organized. You spend long arduous hours decluttering, sorting, culling and donating. Good for you!! Yet you're still disorganized.
This is beginning to sound like a children's book isn't it? Well just as children's books always have a lesson to teach, this has a lesson as well. Chaos is like a pie...there are many pieces and they all connect. When you address one piece it helps the other pieces improve on their own, but there is no magic quick fix for chaos. Creating a real long term fix involves evaluating and fixing EACH PIECE to make as much overall improvement as you can.
You must address your time management and priorities which means evaluating what you're saying yes to.
You must address your space and storage potential to maximize what you have.
You must address the amount of STUUUUUUFF you have in your life, how it got there, and how you can keep it from accumulating again.
You must address your lifestyle, the pace of your life and whether it's working for you.
And you must address your attitude, habits and behaviors, because until you can change your attitude, you can't change your habits and the behaviors that caused the situation in the first place.
Remember that today is the result of your past thoughts, beliefs and actions. If you want to change tomorrow's results you have to change your thoughts, beliefs and actions today.
"Remember, all the answers you need are inside of you; you only have to become quiet enough to hear them."
"With one kind gesture you can change a life. One person at a time you can change the world."
Author, Speaker and Radio Show Host
"Extend to each person, no matter how trivial the contact, all the care and kindness and understanding and love that you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again."
"Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, or worn. It is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude."
Denis Waitley Author and Speaker