Getting Organized

Spring is a great time to get organized because the light is starting to shine really well into your home for longer times during the day making it more obvious what needs cleaning and what’s been sitting for too long. So today I thought I’d share a few ideas for getting and staying organized.

The big thing that many people are talking about when it comes to organizing right now is the question of “does it bring you joy?” Organizing like so many other things has many options and perspectives, and the question of joy is just one of many ways to decide what’s important enough to you to keep. You can also question how long it’s been since you used/wore it, if it helps you be productive, if it serves multiple purposes, does it work/is it broken, or if it’s functional. If you’ve gone through those questions and you’re still on the fence about keeping something, asking whether or not it brings you joy certainly can be the deciding factor.

Once you’ve decided what you’re keeping you have to decide how you’re going to keep/store it, for example by date or color or theme or family. There isn’t a right or wrong here, with the exception of not having any system. It may take a little work to find out what system works best for you, so I would try a system for a month or a season (about 3 months), and by then you should be confident as to whether it works for you or not.

Getting organized continues with how you’re storing stuff. One of my biggest frustrations when it comes to organization is that most of us aren’t really well equipped to store the things we do want to keep. Much of the furniture that’s available is built to store a wide variety of items, which can be great because it means you can reuse it in a multitude of ways and get a lot of life out of it. Typically furniture is also designed horizontally rather than taking advantage of all the storage potential there is vertically. However if we were to change out from using some of the bookcases and dressers and instead used more custom shelving (even simply shelves) for our books, toys, clothing, shoes, office items, and kitchen items we’d be able to better store items, know what we have and have more space in our rooms as well.

Staying organized is just like many other things, if you keep after it consistently you’ll stay on top of it. Maybe that simply means seasonally going through things, or being more conscious about what you buy and whether or not you really need it (a.k.a. making fewer impulse purchases). It definitely means that you take the extra seconds or minutes to put things where they really belong neatly rather than throwing things in a pile and leaving it for “tomorrow.”

What are your organization tips and challenges?


Time to Save Time

This week we’re a little more sensitive about the topic of time because Daylight Savings time happened on Sunday, which means we lost an hour. I enjoy the extended daylight we’ve got now but as for everything else, I’m not a fan. It’s just confusing and extra work and even though we don’t have to as much work as we used to because most of our devices update themselves, it doesn’t mean our bodies are able to make the adjustment as easily.

Whether or not you care about the time change or if we’ll ever be able to get rid of it or not, time is a topic that’s often on our minds. So today I thought I’d share a few tips on managing your time and making the most of the time you do have.

Schedules: I love freedom as much as the next person, and as important as it is to be flexible, having a schedule can really help keep you on track and help you get stuff done. This is especially true when it comes to social media and email checking. For email, it’s rare that whatever message comes through is important enough to need to be dealt with immediately, more likely it’s something that can wait until your next scheduled check in. As far as social media, it’s impossible to keep up with everything that is shared or going on even if you were on social all day every day, there’s just too much happening, so it doesn’t make sense to push yourself into over checking.

Learn to say no: I get it, we don’t really like the guilt trip we sometimes get when we say no to someone or something, and sometimes we feel that we can’t say no. But when you don’t say no it may mean that you don’t really respect yourself and your time, you don’t really understand how long things take (or care), you don’t always commit to giving your best effort to each activity or person, or you feel you have to be in charge of everything. Saying no means you respect your time, other’s time, and are committed to giving your best to yourself and your family.

Purge: I like my stuff and my information as much as the next person, but there’s something satisfying about being able to get rid of something you don’t need or use anymore or doesn’t work. The same holds true for the emails we’re subscribed to and all other subscriptions we have (audio, music, TV, movies, boxes etc.). There’s no reason to pay for something or get updates about something if you’re really not using it and aren’t going to be in the future, and if you need it in the future you can always resubscribe.

Time is one of the most limited resources we each have, I encourage you to treat your time with respect and make the decisions that will help you get the most out of it.

Simple Starts

This month one of the topics we’ll be talking about is the topic of simplicity.  Today I thought we’d talk about a few ways to simplify our lives.

Food is one of the topics that challenges most of us but there are some things we can do to make it easier to deal with. First, have healthy snacks on hand so that you’re not tempted to reach for the unhealthy stuff. Second, buy what you know you’ll eat in a couple of days’ time, and not more than that. If you’ve got a bigger family this can be a bit more challenging, but food stores and farmers markets are a lot closer to where we all live than they used to be, so it’s not as big of a deal to stop at the food store twice a week so you can have fresher items on hand. Finally, there are tons of recipes out there that call for shortcuts (like the store-cooked rotisserie chicken) or are only 5-10 ingredients, and one of my favorite tools is the crock pot. Take advantage of all these great resources and recipes to add not only variety to your culinary life but also simplify it too.

People are one of our greatest joys and one of our biggest challenges. I’m glad that we’re finally moving away from the seeming need to be friends with each and every person in the world, and working now on more meaningful connections. I’m not saying you have to unfriend or unfollow everyone you’re not really good friends with or that you should never make new friends, just that instead of saying to people that you should get together more often and not mean it, you prioritize the time to invest in the relationships that really mean the most to you, and let new relationships be a much less time-consuming event.

Finally, let’s talk about our stuff. I’ve got no issue with people having stuff. As much as I love clean and simple lines when it comes to decorating, I also really value having options and choices and holding onto the things that truly mean something to me. However, I’m also a big supporter of getting rid of stuff that’s not helping you, doesn’t mean much to you, is old and outdated (and you’ve moved on to other things and won’t be going back), isn’t healthy for you or doesn’t fulfill you in the way that it used to. I don’t believe in having stuff for stuff’s sake, there are lots of other people in the world who could benefit from what you’ve got and no longer use or appreciate.

So this month what’s one thing you can and will do to simplify your life?

Space to Be Me

I was reminded again in an email this past week of how important it is to clear out space in your life. I like stuff as much (and maybe more) than the next person, but I also find huge value in freeing yourself from that which no longer pleases, inspires, encourages, fulfills or excites you. And yes, sometimes that can include people.

I think my line on keeping “stuff” starts with having a really good place to put everything and not having storage/organization solutions that frustrate you. For example I’m a big book lover and for the longest time I’ve been frustrated by traditional bookshelves, they’re all twice the depth of my books which leaves so much empty space, and takes up more space than it needs to. I’m looking forward in the near future to installing shelves that I can neatly store all of my books on. Another example would be using shelving spacers or stackers that help you get organized in the kitchen without stacking dishes of different types or sizes directly on top of each other. And I will never store winter clothes again without the use of space-saving bags that allow you to remove the air from them.

To an extent proper storage allows you to have a lot more stuff. It also helps you to give everything a proper place, and when everything has a place it’s not only much easier for you to find, it’s much easier for anyone who needs it to find. It also means you won’t have duplicates or triplicates of everything unless that’s what you want or need.

Do you have proper storage for everything in your home? Do you make time to go through those various storage and organization spaces and get rid of the things that you no longer want or need? It’s not just about having less, it’s about having the space to contribute in your own way to the world, to receive the best that others and the world have to offer, and having a life, people and things in it that make you feel open and comfortable about being yourself.

Will you join me in making room this week?

An Enemy of Freedom

As we talk about the topic of freedom this month today I want to talk about the challenging topic of indecision. I talked about what indecision means in your business on my other blog, but here today I want to talk about indecision in your personal life. Let’s face it, sometimes we really stink at making decisions. I get it, we’re tired or there’s too many choices, or not enough choices, or there’s too many opinions, or we’re feeling lazy, or we don’t feel it’s really a priority. But when you don’t make a decision you actually do make a decision, it’s just not the decision you may have made if you actually made a decision. Not having an active role in making the decision leaves you up to the whims of the universe. I like a little luck in my life, but some things are too important to leave up to luck.

Indecision and decision making is an important part of freedom, because without making decisions you’ll never have the freedoms you want, or help others get to that freedom. If others are making decision for you, you may end up at what someone would consider freedom, but not what you want as your freedom in life. So if you’re really serious about having those freedoms in your life, you’re going to have to make some decisions and take action on those decisions.

If you want to beat your struggle with indecision, a really effective way is kind of a trick. Ready? Make more decisions. Yep, that sounds really dumb but if you’re consciously making more decisions you’ll learn how to make decisions through experience so when the big decisions come your way you’ll be prepared to make those decisions quicker and better.

If you’re not sure how to make a decision about something, part of that decision making practice should be to make a step-by-step plan. This should be more of a strategy or plan framework so that you can apply it to other decisions you make. It will probably include listing the options you have, researching your options, setting goals/steps, asking for or finding opinions, and trying things out, and maybe even role playing so you can get a feel for how things might go if you make a particular decision. Of course the last step of every plan or strategy you create is taking action!

As I mentioned in the last point, one of the ways you can make better and quicker decisions, and make decisions at all, is to better tap into the available resources. I hear from too many people in this internet age that they have no clue about being a parent or being in a relationship or starting a business or using social media. There’s almost no excuse for not having or getting some foundational knowledge about any topic you’re experiencing in your life with all the blogs, podcasts, videos, courses, webinars and classes available both online and offline. There are also tons of people in your physical circle as well as online that you can talk to about topics that confuse you, and give you some of the information you need to make your decisions.

But as we’ve said throughout the post today, the biggest aspect of indecision that has to be addressed is action. It’s great to make a decision, but once you make that decision you have to take action on it. Yes, sometimes that will mean you’re not taking action because you decided not to pursue the options that were presented to you, but more often than not you’ll have some things to do, buy or change as a result of the decision you’ve made. Don’t let the fear of taking action or worry about commitment be the reason you are indecisive. I encourage you to decide to choose your future today.

Making Room for Freedom

If you talk to most people and ask them if they want more freedom in their life, they’ll say yes!  Just about everyone wants a little (or a lot) more of whatever freedom means to them.  So today we’re going to take a look at a few things you can do if you want more freedom in your life.  Unfortunately they’re not as sexy or cool as the freedom will be, but if with just a little work you’re able to have that freedom, I’d say it’s worth a try.

As a small business owner I am fortunate to have a lot more flexibility in my life than someone who works a traditional 9-5 job.  But it’s still important for me to have schedules in my life and business.  Schedules help keep me on track and it’s always awesome to be able to check things off the to-do list.  Creating and sticking to a schedule means that you can schedule in the freedoms you want in your life as part of what you do on a regular basis.

We’ve all got some no-so-great habits, but if you can get control over some of those bad habits you’ll have more financial, time or relationship freedom to pursue the things you enjoy and want more of in your life.

Plan Ahead:
This is one of the biggest factors in whether or not you’re able to have more freedom in your life.  There are so many of us who live day-to-day and don’t have a whole lot of consideration for the future, certainly not a plan that we’re working on.  But if you’re able to come up with a plan for how you’re saving money, how you’re paying for upcoming big expenses, how you’re spending your time, where you want to be in the future and making a plan to achieve the freedoms you want, your future will be a lot less uncertain and you’ll be more likely to actually get to those freedoms because you’ve got a plan for how you’re going to get there.

Know your Goals:
In line with the previous point, if you don’t know your goals you can’t make a plan to accomplish them.  I know that we don’t always think about goals because we’re wrapped up in life today (including today’s issues), but tomorrow does arrive, and someday you may be wondering how you got to where you are and why you aren’t somewhere else.  If you want the freedom to say where/what your future holds, the only way to choose it is to set goals and then plan ahead and put those plans into action.

Get Organized:
One of the biggest time wasters for people who have stuff and lead busy lives is lack of organization.  Whether it’s putting things away in a rush or not putting them away at all, over time things build up pretty quick.  In line with our first point of scheduling, the same is true for our lives, if we’re not getting organized about what’s happening when and how we’re fitting it all in, it’s a lot harder to get stuff done and you’ll feel like you get less done at the end of the day.  If you’re disorganized it’s also easier to put off those things you don’t want to deal with but really need to be dealt with if you want that freedom in your life.

This weekend I encourage you to put in some effort into making room in your life for the freedoms you want, and even deciding what those freedoms are if you don’t know that yet.

Simple and Smart Organization

Today I’m thinking about some ways that we can be more organized.  I’m a big fan of being organized, I like things being in their special places so that I can always find them.  Even if I’m the only person who knows where something is I usually know where it is because I put it back in its spot.  Organization doesn’t have to be challenging and complicated and it’s something that the whole family can (and should) participate in.  Many people struggle with getting started which is the best time to hire an organizer to work with for a period of time until there’s a system in place and you can get into the habit of putting things back. Let’s take a look at a few things you can do to be better organized.

Have a structure: this is an important part of being organized, and really the first thing that has to happen if you want to get organized.  If you don’t have a structure for how you organize and homes for everything, there’s no way you can get organized, let alone find anything. Invest in a good cabinet or shelving system and boxes for any room in the house that will have books, toys, clothing, paper, or other products in it including the office, kids rooms, kitchen, storage room, attic, garage, bedroom, basement, and/or bathroom(s). That’s the physical organization, but don’t forget about the other types of organization like apps that help you with grocery lists, to do lists, and communications between family or teams, and folders and labels on your computer.

Get the family involved: just because it sounds like a grown-up thing to do, getting organized is something the kids can participate in too, especially if the organization plan is such that it’s easy for them to do so.  Having things stacked high on shelves is great for getting them out of the way and maximize use of available space, but putting them long and low gives your kids an opportunity to do more of the cleaning.  Also being able to sort the toys into boxes for easy play and cleanup is important.  If your kids aren’t reading yet you can cut and tape pictures of the type of toy on the box and matching lid so they know what to put in it.

Have a plan: some people do better if they organize as they go along, other people prefer to make a mess and clean up at the end of the day.  I do a mix of both, some things I clean or put away as I go along like dishes going into the sink, but other things I put away at the end of the day because I use them throughout the day like pens, schedules and important papers.  The important thing is that by the end of the day everything should be cleaned up and ready for the next day.

What do you do to get organized and keep your life and family on track?