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The Greatest Pitfall in Home Management

The Greatest Pitfall in Home Management

No Time for Housekeeping

Here’s my take on the most significant pitfall in home management.

That laundry basket seems to travel around the house and never gets emptied. Do you know that basket? Families don’t have time to finish the laundry. Cleaning up the kitchen is a problem for most people. Laundry, paper, and kitchen are the nemeses of so many! I repeatedly hear an argument: “There is not enough time to keep the house in order.” The problem here is a lack of systems and time management skills.

Have You Ever Had a Managerial Role?

I have identified a common pitfall among household managers — not acting as managers at home. Most people do not apply in their homes the skill set that makes them successful at work. But why not?

If you work outside the house, you have managed to keep your job, staying on top of things. Regardless of the type of work you do, there are out-of-the-ordinary projects and day-to-day ones. Those routine tasks comprise the backbone of your job. Whether you supervise those tasks or execute them, the responsibility is yours. If you stopped ensuring those processes are thoroughly performed, things would go south rapidly.

Why can’t we all plan and execute like actual managers at home? One might think it is because home is where we rest and want to think of things other than chores and duties. 

Here’s the Irony

But the irony here is that the more you feel that way, the more chaotic your home environment will be and the less you can rest and relax.

You are looking for the million things you can’t find in the home, buying duplicates, wasting time, effort, and money, forgetting essential family commitments, or not having a dining room table available to gather around.

Each time we neglect our home duties, we add a new layer of chaos to our most intimate environment and the corresponding energetic shift that such chaos brings. Are you sure your home is where you want to rest and forget about the stress of your job?

What Get Scheduled, Gets Done

Running the home like a well-oiled machine requires planning what needs to happen. Remember that what gets scheduled gets done. 

You would not leave it to chance or rely on “when you have time” to make client appointments at work or to write that report for the boss, right? So, why not schedule house chores and involve every household member? This way, everyone contributes to the home and learns to execute all these domestic chores. This knowledge is essential. Your kids don’t want to go to college to realize they don’t know how to boil an egg.

Then Schedule It!

Much of our household stress would decrease if we transferred some of the management skills we proudly displayed at work to the home and started planning and scheduling the many menial household tasks. 

Planning allows us to control when and how these things happen, while scheduling means that those chores will stop interfering with our lives — they will be part of it.

Suggested Reading:

 

Moving? Call A Professional Organizer Now.

Moving? Call A Professional Organizer Now.

If you are considering moving, this is the ideal time to call a Professional Organizer. The best time to contact an Organizer is six months before the relocation. Please do not wait until the week before the move (seriously, don’t!). Here is some background story on how and why the moving process is chaotic and feared by many. Then, you’ll see why you should call a Professional Organizer now if you are considering moving.

Is This You?

Do you still have unpacked boxes from your last move? Do you even know what is in them? You did unpack but put things away without thinking about where everything should go. Are you still living with the consequences of that moving day? 

The process of moving is stressful and messy. But it also has lingering consequences that you probably have not even considered!

What Lies Beneath

At a fundamental level, moving is a change we might resist. When we move, we need to make decisions about what we own. Frequently, facing our stuff stirs up memories or fears we have not dealt with or are not ready for. 

When people do not want to face these memories or fears, they drag everything they own from one home to the next without evaluating or discarding a thing. 

Some move stuff they no longer want from one house to the next because they don’t have the time to evaluate and organize what they own. Yet others do not know any method or strategy to prevent the chaotic moving day debacle.

By forgoing the critical steps of organizing their move and purging what is no longer wanted, they miss the chance to simplify their lives and start fresh in a new home.

As a result of the missed opportunity, their clutter, and disorganization will follow them to their new home. 

Meanwhile, At The New Place

After falling for the beautifully staged home they saw and bought, reality rushes in like a train wreck on moving day when all the boxes and bulky bags arrive at the new place. These boxes and bags come in total disarray and include things that should have been discarded. However, they are here now, and what is in and where is yet to be determined. 

The arrival of such mayhem on a moving day often results in frantic unpacking and placing stuff wherever it lands. But, unfortunately, that is precisely where all that stuff remains for months, even years, after the move. 

Some boxes never get opened. So instead, those boxes will go from the garage to the attic, then back to the garage, and maybe the spare room, all the way reminding us of the messy move poorly executed.

Do-Over: Organize Home Before Packing To Move

Organizing the home before packing your move has several distinctive benefits:

Faster Home Sale

Clutter in a home speaks of a lack of storage and makes the home look smaller. Conversely, a well-appointed house conveys larger spaces and proper storage. Potential buyers will always open cabinets, closets, and drawers when these come with the house. They need to see those spaces as ample and efficient. An organized home sells faster because people buy space.

More Profitable Sale

An organized home looks and feels more spacious, leading to a more profitable sale. An organized home makes staging the property possible. Staged homes sell faster and for more money than unstaged homes.

Less Expensive Move

Why pay to pack and move things that will end up discarded anyway? Discarding what you don’t want first makes the process simpler and more economical.

Packing by Category

Organizing the home before packing for the move leads to everything having a single logical place in the house. When item categories are together in a single place, it is easier to assess our belongings and make decisions about them. Then, it is possible to pack the move by categories. Packing by categories leads to logical, streamlined unpacking. 

Streamlined Unpacking

Belongings packed logically and with the new home space in mind are easier to unpack. After moving in, the result is a faster new home setup and better organization system designs. The unpacking process is critical in determining how you’ll live in the new place. You can expect to live with order and grace if the process is fast, logical, and streamlined.

The Move – The Professional Organizer Way

Engaging a Professional Organizer to help with all your moving details can be crucial for a positive moving experience for once!

An Organizer can help your moving process in many ways. Here are some of them: 

Strategic Planning + Project Management = Streamlined, Stress-Free Moving Process

The Organizer knows the chaotic process of moving. Many organizers are excellent project managers. From managing the entire process to advising you on staged home living, the Organizer will spear no detail in the strategic plan. 

The Organizer will share additional services and resources you might need throughout the moving and home-selling process. Furthermore, they can coordinate and manage those services for you, removing stuff from your to-do list.

Whether it is staging services for your home, make-ready cleaning services, repairs for the new or current house, bulk trash removal, or designing services for the new place, your Organizer has you covered!

But the earlier you engage an Organizer in this process, the more opportunity they’ll have to help.

Organizing Home to Sell = Faster, More Profitable Sale

If you need to sell your current home before moving, an Organizer provides lots of value in the process. An organized home sells faster. Clutter in a home speaks of the lack of storage and makes the house look smaller. 

Conversely, a well-appointed house conveys the idea of larger spaces and good storage. Potential buyers will always open cabinets, closets, and drawers that come with the home. Hiding the clutter instead of managing it is not an alternative! 

Organizing the house before packing for moving makes sense if you need to be at your current home until you sell it.

Letting Go = Less Work & Fewer Costs in Moving

People often pay to move stuff they do not want or need anymore. Selecting what you need and use beforehand saves effort, packaging material, and money. Working with an Organizer helps you quickly purge unwanted items before packing. There’s no point in packing things that you will discard anyway. Instead, simplify the process and save money by discarding or donating what you no longer need or want before packing for the move.

Organized Belongings = Logical Packing + Easier Unpacking

It is easier to see what you own and make decisions about your possessions when related items are together, things are where they belong, and every category has a logical place. Thus, organizing your home before packing makes total sense. It facilitates packing by category, making unpacking much easier later on.

Packing with Care & Logic = Faster New Home Setup

I have seen far too many packing jobs where we find trashcans with actual trash inside, kitchen stuff, and even clothes. And when the packing does not include labeling or inventory, good luck finding what you might need from any of those boxes!

The scenario described above happens because moving companies usually pay their employees by time and volume. So, it makes no sense for them to separate item categories. Besides, packers are usually not Organizers and can’t make these decisions.

An Organizer packs by categories, carefully labeling everything and preparing comprehensive box inventories. Unpacking will be done with the same care and efficiency at your new place later.

New Home Prep = Feel “At Home” Sooner

The Organizer can fit your new place with systems to suit your lifestyle — modifying closets, creating built-in organizing solutions, translating systems previously used in your last home, or lining shelves and drawers. This professional prepares your new home to make you feel like you belong there from the very start.

Intentional & Thorough Unpacking = Faster Moving On with Life

Organizers find the perfect place for everything you own and put everything away so your new space remains organized and as functional as possible. 

With careful unpacking, everything finds a logical place, and everything is beautifully appointed.

In Summary

Moving is a process many people dread, but it can be amazingly beneficial when it is an organized, intentional exercise. Moving is the perfect opportunity to propel our lives where they should go. But when the process occurs without purging first, it leads to clutter and disorganization in the new place. And clutter is the opposite of the calm and stylish home we look forward to having.

So, declutter your home for a faster sale and an easier move and make space for new possibilities in your life. What is more exciting than moving to your new home? Moving to a new home where everything has a place, everything looks beautiful, and the space is functional. That is!

Do not hesitate to call a Professional Organizer to help with your move. Engaging an Organizer might be the best investment you make after purchasing your new home. With some planning and thought given to the logistics of the moving process, we’ve got this.

Welcome Home!

 

Further reading on moving:

When Emotions Get in The Way of a Clutter-Free Life

When Emotions Get in The Way of a Clutter-Free Life

Some emotions might get in the way and keep you from living a clutter-free life.

There is usually an emotion associated with people’s resistance to part with stuff that no longer has a specific role in their lives. Let’s look at some of these emotions.

Excessive Sentimentalism

Some items do have sentimental value. When you can keep them in a particular place of honor, that is not a problem. But having too many sentimental things, or that everything is so unique, the truth is that nothing is. Special items get lost in the crowd, and instead of evoking sentimental value, those items become annoyances.

Unwanted Gifts

Have you been a hostage of unwanted gifts? You might feel guilty about getting rid of something you received as a gift. What if you don’t like or need that item? What if you lack the proper space to home that thing? None of that matters – you feel guilty just thinking of letting that item go. 

This guilt probably arises because you don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings. However, if you follow the same pattern in many instances, you end up in a home where you feel unhappy, given the clutter of many things you’d rather not have around.

Your home should be your sanctuary, not a storage place for unwanted stuff. Learning to separate a gift from the feelings you associate with the giver is essential. You can acknowledge the gift as an expression of their love for you, but that does not mean the item must remain a subconscious contention between you two. It is also beneficial to look at the matter from the perspective of the gift giver. For that, read our blog: What Do You Give When You Give A Gift?

Unfulfilled Dreams

Some people don’t want to get rid of things that might symbolize the life or experiences they wished they had but never did. It is common to hold on to things representing what we wish we had done. Karen Kingston calls this “aspirational clutter.”

A clear example of aspirational clutter is crafting. The amount of new crafts supplies and unfinished projects we find in homes is enormous. 

But people can’t let any of those crafts supplies go because, in doing so, they would accept that they don’t have time, desire, or the talent to do those crafts. 

But your home should reflect who you are now, support your goals, and be the launching pad to your future. When you hold on to past dreams, you have little room for the future. Let go and rest assured- if you are meant to live those other dreams sometime in the future, it will happen. In the meantime, live and be in the present.

Money Paid

You spend money when you buy something, not when you get rid of it. Keeping something because it costs a lot will not bring back the money spent. When it is time to let that thing go, think about the value it brought to you, recognize it accomplished its mission, and let it be free to enhance the lives of others.

Keeping objects that clutter our lives compounds the problem. These items take an emotional toll on you, rob you of time, and cost money. Such things require that you spend time caring for them and money paying for the space they take up in your home or even a storage unit. 

Understanding and addressing the source of discomfort in parting with things you no longer need can also remove a layer of guilt and emotional baggage you may not have even realized you were carrying.

If you can identify your source of discomfort with decluttering, you can make significant breakthroughs. You can deal with your emotions, move on, and eliminate the stuff cluttering your life. 

It all boils down to forgiving yourself for past money mistakes or accepting that not everything continues to have a high value over the years. Understanding this will allow you to get past the emotions and part with the object without guilt.

Future Needs

The fear of needing something in the future and not having it comes from the primal fear of not having enough. It comes from not trusting yourself or others to provide for you in the future. If you can replace the item for less than $30, let’s say, or a couple of hours of work, let it go.

There’s a point and time when you must take a leap of faith and trust in yourself and your loved ones to help you with things instead of thinking you’re alone with no resources or skills.

Perfection Paralysis

When a task is too daunting, it is hard to start and much more challenging to see the end. This disturbing feeling is a familiar one when it comes to decluttering. It also encompasses the phenomenon of “perfection paralysis.” Some people will only start a project if they are confident the result will be perfect. Unfortunately, that is hardly ever the case; thus, they never start the project.

When a task seems impossibly hard or the desired result unachievable, it is helpful to divide the project into smaller parts and conquer it in chunks. If this still proves too hard to handle, you should engage a Professional Organizer to guide you through the process. Having guidance in the form of a project manager, coach, or even body double can help you see a more straightforward path to completing your project.

To further explore the topic of clutter and emotions, read:

Intentional Storage – Knowing Your Why

Intentional Storage – Knowing Your Why

Intentional storage means considering what we keep to determine how to keep it. However, in talking about storage, we must discuss the difference between putting things down and putting things away.

Putting Things Away

A simple life with fewer things means that we can adequately contain the contents of the house and develop sound systems around the use and care of those possessions.

A home that operates in this way is a home that facilitates putting things away instead of just putting something down.

Putting things down is the beginning of the end if you’d like a tidy home. 

Putting things away after using them every single time is fundamental to having a home that breathes peace and order.

And it’s much easier to learn to put things away consistently when everything has a logical, designated place in the home and everything fits its designated storage space.

Containers Keep Us Accountable

I heard Joanna from The Home Edit say something that stuck with me because it is so accurate, and I never thought of putting it into words as she did. She said: “Containers keep us accountable.”

I can see now why their organizing method always includes all that micro-organization and over-division of stuff. The more (appropriate) containerization, the easier it is to determine when our stuff is becoming too much – they’ll start spilling over.

When things start spilling over, we must decide (if we don’t want clutter to take over) what we should let go of or if that group of items has grown for a legitimate change that might require a permanent change in space planning. And this is what being intentional with the storage means.

The Why Dictates The How

Suppose you love crafting, embroidery in particular. And you have a section in your home office with all those supplies needed for your hobby. At some point, your hobby turned into a business possibility. So, you decide to pursue embroidery as an income-generating activity. Now, you’ll need much more material and supplies and probably more significant, better equipment to handle production.

In this case, it makes sense to “set shop” on a different part of the house dedicated to these activities, transform your home office into the facility you need, or even rent some industrial space. Either of these alternatives calls for a total change in how you gather, store, and use your embroidery supplies, materials, and tools.

Having a ton of new material available because your mother-in-law gave you a bunch of stuff over the holidays is not a reason to overflow or change the storage system that has worked for you so far. If you received embroidery material that you were not expecting or needing, you should decide:

  • whether to keep the new stuff and get rid of the previous material
  • sell or donate the new stuff
  • keep parts of each collection and give away the rest

The two instances are different but require an intentional decision and an action.

All that additional material will hang around the carefully appointed system and previously set containers without an intentional decision. As a result, it won’t look as contained anymore nor be as functional as it was.

When Storage Space Is Minimal

And one more thing! If the home of your dreams has minimal storage space, some “stored” items might not be concealed (as in open storage). So, when stuff needs to be in view like that, the trick is to blend that with the design and make it “disappear” from sight.

You’ll need some out-of-the-box thinking to achieve this. Finding the right storage solution means transforming potential eyesores into space enhancers, conversation pieces, and even eye candy. How about that? Are you up to the challenge?

Digital Clutter Is A Thing

Digital Clutter Is A Thing

Digital clutter is a thing. Although it is present in many ways, its lack of physical appearance allows us to ignore it. This type of clutter appears as a disorganized desktop, misplaced electronic files, multiple copies of the same documents, and misspelled file names, among other things.

Our digital clutter causes us to spend precious time looking for information, going through duplicated files and folders, forgetting tasks, and missing appointments. 

Digital clutter fills up your hard drive; before you know it, you also have 10,000+ messages in your inbox.

Organizing our email system might be a daunting task. However, email is so front and center in our lives that a change in this area can produce substantial changes to boost productivity and increase our efficiency.

Here are some email management tips to reduce electronic clutter, especially regarding emails.

Retail Bombarding

How about setting up a folder for promotions and store-related matters? If your email service does not allow creating folders within the inbox, consider setting up a separate email account just for stores, ads, and orders. After setting up that folder, go through your retail subscriptions and move each to the new folder. 

Instead, if you need to create a new email account, change the email address retailers use to communicate with you to the new account’s email address. Then, only check your new retail folder or the new email account when placing orders. Finally, clean out the new file or inbox monthly.

Email and Breakfast Do Not Match 

Avoid reading your email first thing in the morning. When you do, you let someone or something else prioritize your day. This practice sets the day off to a stressful tone—instead, schedule times during the day to read your email. You will notice increased productivity in your email response time and other tasks.

That Chime

For most, the chime of a new message creates an immediate reaction to checking the email. Turn off notification sounds that make you jump and see how productive you become. You lose momentum and efficiency when distracted by email notifications. And remember that the multitasking phenomenon is a myth. Attempting to multitask makes us absent-minded and derailed.

Update Contacts

Add important senders right to your address book. Otherwise, their messages might appear spam or junk, and you will miss important information and dates. Keep your contacts updated for your peace of mind.

Managing Emails Efficiently

Strive to read each email only once. Using folders and category options in the email is a necessity. Use the following categories or actions for each email message:

    • Delete – When the message is not needed now or later, delete it immediately.
    • 2-Minute Action – If your response or action to this message will take less than 2 minutes, process the information at that moment and then delete it. If the answer or action requires additional time, leave the message in the inbox as a reminder to tackle it later.
    • Pending Matter – Messages with information to be referred to in the short-term future and notifications to remember can stay in the inbox until the time comes to act on these. Limit inbox messages to follow-up and immediate action items to allow these messages to stand out.
    • File – File messages or notifications containing information for future reference. These messages might deserve a permanent electronic file, but removing them from the inbox is essential.

An inbox containing 4,230 messages will not help improve efficiency or boost productivity – it will hide essential messages that should stand out for your inbox to become a productivity tool.

More importantly, an inbox with this many messages is evidence of delayed decisions. An inbox full of messages of all kinds is no different than that basement or garage, where you keep things “just in case” – no one knows what is in there.

Digital clutter might not be as apparent as physical clutter, but it affects us. And whether the mess is digital or physical, it creeps up every time we postpone decisions and actions. 

So, decide and act promptly and consistently when processing your email messages. Decrease your digital clutter by increasing your inbox control.

P.S. If you dive into organizing your digital clutter, you want to expand your planning to include organizing pictures and organizing media.

The Hidden Magic of HGTV Design Shows

The Hidden Magic of HGTV Design Shows

When “The House Stops Working”

We all love those HGTV design shows. Whether it is “Love It or List It,” “The Property Brothers,” “Unsellable Houses,” or a rerun of “Fixer Upper,” we absorb their contents with joyful passion. But what is the hidden magic of HGTV design shows?

I recently enjoyed a “Love It or List It” marathon. Episode after episode confirmed that homeowners invariably mention that “the space no longer works” for them when they want to move or engage in a significant home remodel.

Clutter Is The Common Denominator

After establishing this fact, we then see the interior of these houses, and most of the time, we see a cluttered space that gives the impression that the home truly does not work for the family anymore. Typically, the common denominator in these homes is the clutter.

But why does the space “stop working” for a family? What does that even mean? Maybe homeowners have stopped trying to conform to their homes and instead have gone out of control, holding on to much more than they need.

They may have stopped objectively looking at their possessions altogether. Things accumulate without anyone noticing, and one day, they realize there is stuff everywhere, and they can no longer put things away even if they try. Or they can only use specific home spaces if their stuff occupies all their living space.

Please do not take me wrong. I love these shows the same as everyone else. In particular, “Love It or List It” is terrific. The dynamics between David and Hillary are fantastic, and this is one of the few shows where you see the Designer fighting for a budget to deliver her proposed plan.

I have never understood the budget distribution on these shows’ renovation projects, by the way. How can $100,000 completely renovate a home, including a whole new roof (and I don’t mean shingle replacement, but removing the entire existing roof where you can see the sky and replacing the whole thing – as I saw on “Mountain Mamas”?)

That Hidden Magic

But back to my main idea. I find it very interesting that these shows could not present their “reveal” without the staging.

Staging plays a fundamental role in the final product. The initial clutter is gone because homeowners moved out of the property during the renovation. But at the time of the reveal, we see that every area has new furniture, accessories, plants, and flowers- everything is perfectly appointed, which goes flawlessly with the new concept. Well, of course, it needs to be like this. Nothing less will do.

But the point is that we see none of the homeowners’ belongings in the space. We see hung clothes in closets, for example. It is a carefully curated selection of clothing pieces that barely occupies the space. And just like the clothes and shoes in closets, we do not see toiletries in the bathroom, the contents of the living room cabinets or kitchen dishes, or an overabundance of forgotten appliances.

What would the space look like with all the homeowners’ stuff and their original furniture? Not quite as impressive, for sure. What is the missing link here? The part they need to discuss is the staging involved.

So, the true hidden hero in those HGTV homes we love is the staging. Although the staging details are not discussed in the show to avoid diverting the focus on design, that big reveal is only possible with staging.

These HGTV shows do not discuss that if homeowners want to continue enjoying their fabulous new space when staging props leave the scene, they better reconsider the amount of stuff they keep and how they store everything in their house. That is what the organization is about.

No Organization, No Magic

Staging does not seem to be compatible with everyday day-to-day living, though. So, unless we look past the design and pay attention to the home organization and available space, the shine of the big reveal will fade as soon as clutter returns.

Staging is the true hero on these shows. But the organization ultimately makes the magic remain once reality sets in and homeowners’ stuff makes its way back into the house. Clutter the area again, and nobody will care about or even notice the outstanding design that once took their breath away.

For the homeowners to move back in and have this fantastic layout “work for them,” they need to flex those long-neglected organization muscles. Otherwise, the place will soon stop “working for them” again.

No matter what changes a space undergoes, if we don’t consider the area available and adequately manage our belongings, no HGTV design wonder will help in the long run.

There are very valid reasons to want to move or renovate a home. But when it is just a matter of the “space no longer working for us,” maybe giving the organization an honest chance saves us the costs and complexities of home renovations or moving.

Properly addressing the organization of the home makes it possible to live in a house worth a design show reveal any day of the week.

As an organization expert, I wish to show homeowners how they can live in bliss with their home environment. They can have a home and a space they love for its functionality and beauty.

That home you never knew you had? I can’t wait to show you!