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A Move Gone Right

A Move Gone Right

A move gone right  – one of our latest projects helping one of our clients move.

First, kudos to this client of ours for two main reasons: (1) She first called us to declutter and organize her whole house (she knew she was moving in the future), and (2) After we organized her place, she maintained the house and the order within in top shape.

Organizing Before Packing

These two things were of great importance, especially because she was moving. And as counterintuitive as it sounds, organizing the home before packing for moving is crucial. This is because:

  • It’s the only way to decide what to keep and what to let go confidently.
  • Organizing the home before the move allows packing by category, which leads to a smoother unpacking and new home set-up process.

Organizing the home is critical before packing for moving, especially if the homeowner shows the house while living there.

Living in the House to Sell Complicates Things

Showing the house to sell while living in it is a different animal altogether – from packing itineraries to staging parameters to navigating living in a home while tiptoeing around.

Trying to sell, stage, and show a house while living in it is far more complicated in every aspect. But our client navigated this process like a champ! And what’s more, packing her home for the move was simpler than expected because of the preemptive strategy and planning employed.

Preemptively Planning and Working Together

As mentioned, she had the home meticulously organized by us and then professionally cleaned by a company we recommended months before putting the house on the market.

Some months later, we worked together again when she was ready for a staging and home prep consultation. She followed our advice quickly and thoroughly.

When it was time to pre-pack the home as part of the staging phase (to show the house with fewer contents), she had us help her with that as well.

The final packing took place three days before closing.

The Timing Of It All

One of the critical aspects of planning a smooth move is considering the different levels of packing the person or family will need, according to what the process looks like for them.

Our client already had conducted a preliminary pack to stage the home. The moving company placed her belongings in a local storage facility.

Given the timing of the closing, we needed to pack her last belongings four days before closing to provide time for the movers to pick up the boxes and furniture, plus allow an extra day for the make-ready cleaning.

So, we had two days to finish packing her house, and that was it? No, not so fast.

This client would spend two days in her empty house and two more days in a hotel before finalizing the house sale.

Although she would hit the road immediately after closing, she’d need an extra night in a hotel somewhere along the route. Also, she was going to a rented house for 30 days until her new home was ready (new build).

The Many Packing Levels

So, each one of these details informed and directed our packing efforts. It was more complex than packing everything on sight and go. There were several packing levels to consider:

  1. Items packed in the preliminary stage – these were taken to a local storage by the moving company.
  2. Items packed in the last few days and picked up by the moving company to be added to her local storage for the time being (including her car).
  3. Items the client needed during a month-long stay at a rented house until her new is available. These things would be packed in more accessible bags/boxes and loaded into her van.
  4. What she needed for the last couple of days in her empty home, the local hotel until the closing, and the hotel on her way to her new state – to be packed using her suitcases and carry-on bags. She was supposed to operate exclusively with the stuff in her suitcases and carry-ons for 6-7 days.

We considered all these things in our master plan. Our client was able to follow the plan, and when everything was said and done, she happily went on her way to her new life adventure.

It’s Complex But Not A Nightmare

I wanted to share this experience and process to illustrate the things I usually discuss in a real-world scenario.

The moving process, in its many dimensions and details, is complicated. But with the right planning and execution, it does not need to be a nightmare.

The next time you plan to move, call an expert in moving management so you can get help navigating this cumbersome process from A to Z.

 

Mindfulness: A Fundamental Practice in Organizing

Mindfulness: A Fundamental Practice in Organizing

Mindfulness is a fundamental practice in organizing, although most people don’t think much about it. Here’s why.

Did you know one of the biggest reasons a house becomes disorganized is because we fail to place things back where they belong? 

Much of the blame for this goes to everyday absent-mindedness. And the antidote to this absent-mindedness is mindfulness. 

Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the surrounding environment through a gentle, nurturing lens.

Mindfulness is one of the fundamental practices to live by when we wish to gain better control over how organized life can become.

 The (Lack of) Focus in Everyday Life

Unfortunately, regardless of how focused we can be when something demands our attention, everyday menial tasks, things we routinely do, and how we move around in our home or work environment usually are not focus-demanding tasks. At least, we do not perceive them to be.

When we get comfortable in specific routines, especially at home, we engage the mind in something that happened, something to come, or anything else but what lies in front of us at any given moment.

An Exercise in Mindfulness

Have you heard how a sustained focus on chewing food helps with weight loss? Concentrating on chewing achieves several things:

  • We savor the food better.
  • Digestion starts with the chewing process (it’s supposed to).
  • The brain reaches satiety with less food.
  • The body absorbs nutrients more efficiently.

Notice that focusing on chewing food is an exercise in mindfulness. I remember undergoing this process during a 12-week mindfulness workshop that I participated in. At that time, paying full attention to chewing our food, we could taste even the additives and preservatives in the food. Talk about focus!

This seemingly unrelated example illustrates how focusing attention and engaging the senses in a particular activity or life moment connect us with new information that ordinarily would have been overlooked. That is what mindfulness does. It makes us understand better what we do, how we do it, why, and how we feel about it without judgment.

Recognizing and Mending Mindless Patterns

If you need help with disorganization or feel you can’t keep up with the house, the solution might be to focus on your actions, reactions, and thoughts at home. Notice those things you might be performing mindlessly. You’ll recognize the pitfalls in your processes throughout the day. Noticing those instances will help correct the habits responsible for the home chaos. 

We could discuss many tips and tricks for this or that. We can list ways to become organized or maintain home systems. But as long as we remain mentally disconnected, habits won’t change.

Exercising mindfulness (as in being constantly present in the body and aware of our circumstances without judgment) is essential to change unhelpful patterns.

 Nothing Like This Very Moment

Have you ever heard, “In the present moment is where your power lies”? I don’t know a better quote to illustrate the power of mindfulness and focus on the NOW.

Mindless operation is what makes us place the phone in the freezer, look for our glasses while wearing them, pour orange juice in the cereal, or take the dog’s pills instead of ours (true story -this one has happened to me more than once! 😬)

If you need help organizing your time, home, work, or life, you must know that some things must change. Habits need to be modified for those things to change sustainably and significantly. Becoming mindful allows us to recognize which practices need to be adjusted. It also helps us achieve the modifications required to become more organized.

Becoming mindful takes effort – like learning to meditate, for example. However, to become intentional, aware individuals, we must learn to focus attention on the moment and be present in the body.

Adapting New Spaces To Feel At Home

Adapting New Spaces To Feel At Home

You know when you move into a new home and feel like everything perfectly fits (“like a glove”)? Yeah… that usually never happens. New spaces need to be adapted to you and your family so you may feel truly at home.

Start With A Blank Slate to Adapt Your New Space

Almost every new space you encounter will require certain changes to make it work best for you. And to plan these changes in a new space the best thing to do is to completely clear the space. It’s important to have a blank slate.

Instead of assessing how your stuff fits in the new space, remove everything from that room, including any additions previously installed (like shelves and furniture). Then, plan the space by looking at it empty.

Ask For Help

You might want to call a Designer, an Organizer, use an app (many apps with free levels allow you to design 3D spaces with all kinds of architectural singularities), or engage the services of stores like The Container Store, California Closets, Closet Envy to have one of their space designers come and help you with the project. This is a service most stores offer for free. And it is critical to have it right.

In this process, consider the kind of things you intend to keep in that space. Note that we say the kind of things, not the amount.

The design should drive the project when dealing with a new space, not your stuff. Your belongings should conform to the area, not the other way around. Although a functional design uses the available space more efficiently, the physical space available is set, while the contents is more easily adapted.

Time To Let Go

When the time comes to incorporate your belongings into that area, there are serious decisions to make about what to keep and what to let go.  Because even though a good design will always seek to maximize the use of the available area, no design will ever work, and no space will ever look good with more than it can and should hold.

Many people experience this situation when moving. Usually, furniture, storage solutions, and belongings work and fit well in the previous home. But transferring those into a new structure rarely works the same. This leads to odd feelings of not belonging in that new house.

Do You Really Feel At Home?

When finally set in a new house, you want to feel “at home,” and you would like this to happen as soon as possible. But for this to happen, the spaces require some adaptation.

Interestingly, this adaptation process often gets ignored due to a lack of time or skill. The feeling of not belonging persists over years of living in a house where you don’t feel “at home.” But with the sacrifices we often need to make in moving, don’t you think you deserve to feel you belong in your new place?

Here’s the good news! As Organizers, we specialize in space planning. We are highly skilled at adapting, organizing, transforming, and designing your new house in every way so you feel at home as soon as possible. We want you to start your new life in your new space, loving how you feel.

If you are moving or don’t feel “at home”, call your Organizer today! The difference we can make will surprise and delight you – you’ll wonder why you never thought of us before.

7 Steps To Ease Your Pill Pain

7 Steps To Ease Your Pill Pain

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Let’s Simplify Pill Management

Whether you are a caregiver to an older adult or a mom managing a family who values wellness, you might find that administering pills can become almost a full-time job. But here are seven steps to ease your pill pain.

I want to share a system that can simplify pill management and increase consistency in everyone’s taking meds and supplements.

The secret is the pillbox!

What You Need

 Here are some tools you might need for this process.

  • Pillboxes with morning, noon, evening, and bedtime compartments are available here.

  • Label maker (optional)

  • Sharpie

  • A medium to large plastic bin or container – these Multi-Purpose bins work wonders. Also, here’s my favorite plastic box ever.

Follow These Steps

  1. Place all prescribed and OTC meds and supplements that household members regularly take in the plastic bin or tote. The amount and size of pill bottles on hand determine the size of your container or box. This step only happens once because this bin will become the forever home of ingestible medicines and supplements at home. You may benefit from a second plastic container for all OTC medicines NOT regularly taken, like cough syrup, painkillers, allergy medicine, etc.

  2. Write the name of each person (or initial) who takes each medication on the bottles’ lids. Include the intake frequency of that product. For example, “M 1-am / 2-pm” indicates that person “M” takes one of those pills in the morning and two in the evening. Repeat this process with all bottles for easy identification at a glance.

  3. Assign each person taking medications or supplements regularly a pillbox and label both sides of each pillbox with their name.

  4. Line all pillboxes on your counter or table and open their lids.

  5. Work by person – Select all bottles with someone’s name and place all meds/supplements they need in their pillbox, according to timing and dosage.

  6. Work by-product – If you’d instead work with one product at a time, distribute a medication or supplement into the pillbox of each person taking that product.

  7. Repeat the process for each person or per product bottle (depending on your preferred method).

  8. Close all pillbox lids when each box is complete with all medications and supplements for that individual.

**Devote 30 minutes to this task every week. Make it a commitment and calendar this activity!

Where and Why

Ingestible medicines and supplements are best kept in the kitchen, not the bathroom. The humidity in the bathroom might affect the product’s integrity.

Keeping medication and supplements in the kitchen makes sense because we ingest these, usually with water or another beverage. The pantry or a cabinet in the kitchen are optimal spaces for these pillboxes and the bin with the medication bottles.

On the other hand, things we apply to our skin, hair, teeth, or nails go in the bathroom. This group includes rubbing alcohol, H2O2, antibiotic creams, muscle pain patches, cotton, gauze, bandages, etc.

It is simpler to take medications and supplements when we do not need to sort the product, open several bottles, and make the same decisions repeatedly, several times per day. It makes sense to streamline this process.

When medicines and supplements are in a single place, finding what we need at any moment is easier.

A central location for meds and supplements also facilitates knowing what needs reordering and when.

It also eliminates having multiple open bottles of the same product.

This process has an inherent accountability built in; it’s easy to notice when someone forgets their meds and when it happens just by looking at the pillbox. Thus, this system also increases the consistency in taking medications.

Make It Happen

These five steps described above will make it easier for everyone to take their meds and supplements consistently.

However, to make the system work:

  • Devote 30 minutes to this task every week.

  • Place this activity on the calendar as a recurrent weekly activity.

  • Make it a commitment.

Pro-Tip: Consolidate medicine when it arrives at your home. Usually, medication bottles come half empty. There is no reason to have several half-empty bottles of the same product, which takes up a lot of space and leads to expired medication around the home.

The Mess The Organizer Made

The Mess The Organizer Made

What could be the mess the Organizer made? Allow me to explain.

People overbuy for many reasons and often end up with so much stuff they can’t see what they own. Other times, it’s a matter of not letting go. But whatever the reason, there’s usually a severe problem with space, although the problem lies in how much stuff we accumulate.

There is a need to fill every inch of space available. When there are available drawers in a spare room, they get filled with the most random collection of things because of open storage space.

What We Find

Too often, clients call us to organize a room in their home and insist there needs to be more storage space in the area they want to manage. 

But upon assessing the project, almost invariably, we realize three things:

  1. inefficient use of the space
  2. the space contains unwanted things that have not left the home
  3. much of what the project space includes does not belong there

No wonder there is no space for what does belong in that area.

Once unwanted items are out of that area, and we allocate and organize what is to keep, the client marvels at all the space they have.

But then they turn around and see the mess in their living room. 😂

Okay, So This Is How It Happens

No one expects to end up with a mess in other areas of the house when they engage an organizer to work on their home. That’s for sure.
During the organizing process, what we remove from an area of the home accumulates somewhere else while we work on the project’s primary goal.

Once we organize the project area, whatever is out of that space will require some decisions – what stays, what goes, and the best place to allocate what remains.

Often, we need to repeat the organizing process in areas of the home the client did not contemplate in the project initially. If things removed from one space are to be kept but belong to another area of the house, we need to find the proper space for them wherever they should go.

But when there is no evident storage space for these items where they belong, we must discover or create such storage space. And for that, the whole process repeats itself (remove what does not belong in the other areas and what might be unwanted/unused).

It Always Works Out

As Organizers, we want to delight the client, take care of everything, and leave their home looking perfect. And we know it will all work out in the end. (Because it always does!)

In the meantime, invariably, it’ll get worse before it gets better. So, take a deep breath and play along. The mess the Organizer made will go away.

A Real Case Example

See this example. The first picture is the living area “before.” The second picture is the living room after organizing the first three bedrooms. It might seem as if the pictures are inverted, right? That’s the mess we made! But here’s the other thing: often, a home’s chaos seems contained and controlled. You might not see it, but the clutter monster lurks behind closet doors and inside drawers.

Before picture in the organizing process

Before picture

in the organizing process

“During” picture

What You Give When You Give A Gift

What You Give When You Give A Gift

The holiday season is usually the time of the year when we give and receive the most gifts.

This gifting situation can become overwhelming, not only the buying process but also the receiving. 

Among the top reasons people find it hard to get organized is their guilt about letting go of unwanted gifts received.  

Have you ever thought about what you give when you offer a gift?

More Than A Gift

When you give someone a gift, you might do it with the best intentions, out of a perceived obligation, or without a specific reason. 

Regardless of the reason, you give that person responsibilities that might be more than the person wants or can handle. 

Has this ever crossed your mind?

When you give a gift, you are passing the responsibility of another possession they did not necessarily choose for themselves. 

They will be responsible for finding this item space in their home, storing it, cleaning it, and maintaining it. 

Unwanted Gifts

An unwanted gift exerts negative pressure subconsciously on the gift receiver. The mind recognizes the item’s presence and why such an item remains hidden or unused.

If someone receives a gift from a person they dislike or the item brings sad memories, that gift brings compounded negative energy.

No Strings Attached

Offering a gift should be without strings or obligation from the recipient. Whether it is to display, use, store, regift, donate, recycle, or trash the item, the outcome of the present should not become a reflection of the relationship between the giver and the receiver.

When you feel slighted if you don’t see the beautiful crystal vase that you gave to your niece in her home, or if you’re hanging on to the pink fuzzy throw blanket from your sister because you don’t want to hurt her feelings, then the gift is no longer a gift, but an emotional burden. 

Appreciate The Act of Giving Instead

Both parties should recognize that the gift recipient and the gift giver appreciate the gesture. But the best gift we can offer one another is the freedom from becoming a hostage to an unwanted gift.

It is only human to feel hurt when others do not fully appreciate our gifts. But if we genuinely care for the person receiving our gift, the last thing we should want is to burden that person with an additional problem or guilty feelings that will haunt them.

Let’s be mindful of the gift-giving process and less sensitive about the gift’s destiny. Then, when we finally understand this concept, let the gift recipient know how we feel about the whole process.