Many people, especially women, feel ashamed about being unable to keep up with a tidy home or an organized life. Is that the shame that binds you?
Society has perpetuated three beliefs that are particularly harmful to women:
It is a woman’s job to organize the home, her life, and the lives of everyone in the household while even working outside the home.
This female job comes from the fact that a woman’s capacity to organize, plan, and manage comes inherently to the female gender.
A woman should be capable of doing all that naturally, effortlessly, and excellently.
But planning, organizing, and managing require engaging the brain’s executive function. And whether it is due to an accident, illness, a brain condition, or genetics, the ability to plan, organize, and manage, takes work and requires learning for a large part of the population. The truth is that most people do not excel at those activities, even less enjoy them.
An Outsourcing Economy
And that should not be a problem. Our societal arrangement provides for outsourcing services and products we cannot make ourselves due to lacking skills and time. We defer the making of products and provision of services we need to groups or individuals that are experts at what they do because engaging our time in or learning all the skills needed to produce our products and services is not cost-efficient.
And there is no shame in that.
For example, we go to a salon to get a great haircut. Of course, we could cut our hair, but that does not mean we should, would want to, or be successful at it (I know, I’ve been there! LOL).
Or we go to a store or tailor to get clothes instead of sewing our own. Although many people excel at sewing, that is not most of us. And even those good at sewing would only make some of their clothes. In general, it is just not an efficient use of their time to make their whole wardrobe from scratch. So even they outsource their clothes acquisition.
Why The Shame?
So, why the shame around organizing, managing, and planning?
Is the CEO of a Fortune 500 company embarrassed to engage a business coach or a team efficiency expert? No! This is even expected from a person in such a position.
The shame of being unable to keep a tidy home and an organized life comes from thinking we are inherently capable of achieving this. So, if we can’t do that, something is wrong with us. Furthermore, if those skills are a given, they are expendable at some level.
A Compounded Problem
We are dealing with a double fallacy that compounds that shame.
Believing a person is inherently capable of planning, organizing, and managing, negates the possibility of needing to learn these skills, as is the case for so many.
Consequently, someone without those skills might feel ashamed and even less open to acquiring the skills by learning.
How about focusing on what we excel at and what makes us joyful? It is easier to feel happier, accomplished, and fulfilled in life this way instead of pounding ourselves with guilt every step.
Here’s The Solution
And for things that involve knowledge we don’t have, skills we were not born with, and time we don’t want to spend (like organizing, planning, and managing, for example), the Professional Organizer comes to the rescue!
A Professional Organizer is skilled and, in many cases, instructed in organizing, planning, and managing physical spaces, time, people, systems, and ideas.
Doing the organizing and planning, you do not have time to do
Doing the organizing and planning, you do not want to do
Developing systems that make your life and home more efficient
Using their knowledge, experience, and skills to build systems to make your life and home more efficient
Teaching you the fundamentals of their work, should you be interested in learning to maintain your systems
A Professional Organizer sets household members up for daily success and long-term goal achievement, plus a home that operates like a well-oiled machine. Who would not like to have that?
A Matter of Perspective
Look at it from the perspective of that Fortune 500 Executive that engages a coach to crush their short- and long-term goals while learning to work smarter, not harder. After all, you ARE the CEO of your home.
So, stop the guilt if that is what’s holding you back. Instead, give a Professional Organizer a chance to show you how easier life can be! You might be surprised. Your only regret might be not making that decision sooner.
The Lived-In Design: What she wanted to know about when she asked how anyone could live in a beautifully designed home.
A client once asked me how some people can have “cute things and display them.” She wanted to know how some live in such a way they have space to display décor items and make them look good. From her perspective, this was impossible.
The question does not surprise me, given that some people engage a Professional Organizer because they don’t want to live in a chaotic environment any longer. That means they call an Organizer because they do live in chaos.
But I have thought about this question for a long time and realized the answer lies in that inverse relationship between clutter and design.
What A Stylish House Doesn’t Need
Look at this picture (@flamingos.home). What do you notice? Or rather, what do you not see?
You can appreciate this design due to the absence of elements that pull your attention somewhere else, like clutter.
And clutter happens for two main reasons:
(1) Owning excessive stuff – Renders even the best storage space incapable of containing and concealing all the stuff.
(2) The lack of decision-making about things at any given moment – Causes stuff to land (and stay) anywhere in the home.
Although most people would not consider their homes magazine-worthy, as long as we have four walls and a roof, we can make the space as beautiful and incredible as we wish. Elegance, style, and luxury have less to do with money and the size of your home and more with taste, simplicity, and attention to detail.
But it seems challenging for many to envision the possibilities in their homes. Could this be because their homes’ clutter prevents the imagination from visualizing what they desire?
What Happens To That Magic?
Clutter prevents us from seeing the beauty of the home’s potential. But clutter also physically occupies the space that should be left available for new and better things to come into our lives.
I have extensively discussed the model home magic Vs. the nightmare of moving day. We fall in love with a beautifully designed, perfectly appointed model home, but somehow the magic disappears on moving day as quickly as it came.
Why does it feel so different even when we selected the same model home, building choices, and décor? This probably happens because:
(1) It is our stuff there now. And our stuff seems less than exciting in contrast to our new home.
(2) We see all our stuff together while moving in. It makes a big difference. This wonderful space now seems overcrowded and will be for a while until we get it under control.
(3) With the moving process as messy and disjointed as it usually is, stuff seems even messier and uglier than ever.
Puff! Magic gone.
Where The Stuff Is
Add to this scenario the prospect of living out of boxes for a while (there’s no time to put things away, and life is hectic anyway).
And at some level, we also recognize that wherever and however things land in the home on moving day, they will remain for the next three years or so.
Things might quickly improve if we engage some help, like a professional organizer, designer services, cleaning personnel, and such. The new home will probably thrill us again soon. And this better happens soon. A home is one of the most important investments we will ever make. So, we should care how we feel about it.
Life After Moving In
Everyone gets crazy about model homes, HGTV shows(the reveal is grand, right?), architectural digest magazine, and all those amazing home designs on Instagram and Pinterest. However, only a few make the connection between a marvelous design they love and the reality of the day-to-day living in that space.
No one talks about what happens after people move into a new home or back in with their belongings after a renovation. Having this conversation requires people to confront their mess demons and out-of-control buying. But, of course, nobody wants to go there.
Enjoying the beauty and style of a new home does not happen automatically. After moving in, we must work on it. Even the best design might get drowned in clutter. Clutter is the noise that distracts our senses from the beauty of the space and interrupts how we experience our home.
The Role of Empty Space
And aside from speaking of design, it is essential to honor space in the home. So many have issues with unoccupied space and try to stuff things in best-left-empty areas (“because I have some space there”).
However, a house should be a living space, not storage. Space is our friend, and it is best to make peace with it. Space is to the home like a white mat is to a piece of art – it enhances its beauty by isolating it.
It is possible to have a lived-in design. Clutter just has to go.
I discuss the concept of mindfulness quite often. Mindfulness is about being in the moment, each moment, noticing our actions, reactions, and feelings toward others and the environment. Mindfulness puts seemingly ordinary, routine, everyday life events under a magnifying glass for close inspection – the things few people notice. Under this mind-frame, we can’t help but see how “when” matters. The timeliness of things matters.
You have probably heard that clutter is, at its core, a bunch of postponed decisions. So let’s put the concept of timeliness under that magnifying glass to illustrate its importance and consequences.
Clutter, Mess, and Chaos Creep In
If a drop of tomato sauce falls on the floor while you cook, one of two things will likely happen: you take four seconds to wipe the area clean at that moment, or you keep cooking undisturbed because you can always clean it later (Oh, later).
You continue with your culinary endeavor. Then either you or someone else inadvertently steps on the spot one or several times. As a result, the inoffensive tomato drop that could have taken four seconds to clean is now significantly spread on the kitchen floor.
Also, mixed with shoe dirt, it has transformed that four-second job into a floor moping task that adds five minutes to your schedule. But that is just the time. Consider the effort of prepping the mop, mopping the floor, and then cleaning that mop afterward.
The Toxic Build-Up
It is your choice to postpone taking any action – of course! But understand that the timeliness of actions does matter, and when we delay decisions, consequences usually follow.
Often, those consequences come in the form of additional time and effort required to achieve the same goal. That extra effort needed to accomplish the goal grows with each passing minute, while the likelihood of taking any action decreases. However, the situation (now compounded) will still be there for you to resolve later. Ignoring the situation won’t make it go away.
The tomato drop example might seem insignificant. But unnecessarily postponed tasks and decisions bring more impactful consequences.
Life constantly provides us with opportunities to neglect or delay actions and decisions of all kinds. And the consequences related to ignoring them might not bother us, especially if we don’t immediately notice. But sooner or later, we’ll find out that the consequences accumulated due to neglected or postponed decisions and actions are such that we no longer feel capable of bringing back balance or control to the situation, home, life (whatever it is).
Neglected Actions Create Chain Reactions
Let’s suppose that because dad is an early riser, he gets assigned the chore of emptying the dishwasher and feeding the dog in the morning. There is an understanding that these activities should happen before the rest of the family gets up.
But dad starts wasting precious morning time doing anything but those two chores under his responsibility. As the rest of the family members get up and want breakfast, the equipment they need is still inside the dishwasher. Therefore, everyone tries to get what they need directly from the machine. Dad tries to complete his unfinished tasks at that (very inopportune) time.
Everyone trips over the dishwasher’s open door and steps over a wet kitchen floor. It turns out the stuff coming out of the washer is still wet because the dishwasher is a piece of junk, and no one has bothered to replace it or call for repair service. So, the floor is now a mess that will require mopping with cleaner instead of a piece of towel paper to dry some water.
Do not forget the dog that has not eaten. The poor thing is in the middle of it all and pretty hungry. Dad knows he should have fed the dog and starts mixing the stuff into her bowl. He takes up considerable counter space to complete the task while others deal with their breakfast in the reduced counter space left.
But everyone has responsibilities and places to go – delaying breakfast is not an option.
Each person usually rinses their things and puts them inside the dishwasher. It takes about one minute to do so.
On this day, however, since the dishwasher is still partially loaded with clean items, dirty stuff cannot yet go in the machine. So, the first person to finish breakfast puts dirty utensils in the sink without rinsing (because rinsing is an action associated with placing things inside the dishwasher, and this is not the case this time).
The action taken by the first person is the cue for all others to do the same, even when the dishwasher becomes available in the next three minutes. (You know, “so and so did not do it, why do I have to do it?” syndrome).
Dishes are piling up in the sink and on the counter, with food remains, making them crusty (yeah!).
The day goes by, with the pile of dirty stuff over the kitchen counter and in the sink. It will take more time and effort to rinse those dishes and to place them inside the dishwasher now.
Also, the process will require someone (as in mom) to have the extra time and willingness to do so. Unfortunately, that one-minute job has turned into a ten-minute ordeal (with resentment!).
And who will happily volunteer to take on the task at the end of the day when everyone is tired? Let’s not forget that the kitchen needs some cleaning up before dinner cooking starts. Hello, kitchen clutter!
Often, we do not take action or make decisions because we forget- not necessarily because we purposely run away from it. But that is yet another consequence of delaying or postponing.
Take that alarm on your iPhone that reminds you of your noon pills, for example. Can you count the times it has gone off, and you have ignored it, thinking you will take care of it in five minutes? Then, hours later, you realize you did not take your pills.
A Nourishing Home
When you live in a household, you are part of a system. Everyone’s actions and inactions directly impact the unit function. If you are relied upon to complete specific tasks, please understand that such chores are tethered to a time frame and not subject to when you “feel like it.” “Feeling like it” might never come, and it is not a reliable time frame.
When all household members understand and accept the home systems and perform their duties on time, no chore becomes too big to accomplish. As a result, such a home efficiently keeps the chaos at bay, improves family relationships, and enhances the positive energy flow. It is a nourishing, supportive, and efficient place.
Does this ring a bell? Observe these patterns in your life for about a week – on the big things and the seemingly insignificant ones. You will probably see the cause/effect of delayed decisions and observe their ripple effect in your life. You will make amazing discoveries!
The holiday season is usually the time of the year when we give and receive the most gifts. It can become overwhelming, not only in the buying process but also in receiving gifts. But this practice is not limited to the holidays, as we well know.
Among the top reasons people find it hard to get organized is their guilt about letting go of items that they receive and for which they have no use, purpose, appeal, or storage space.
Although those guilty feelings are frequent conversations between Organizer and the client, it would be fair to look into the other side of this dynamic – the gift giver. 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 maybe without a specific reason: you give someone something you like.
Regardless of the reason, you give that person responsibilities that might be more than what the person wants or can handle. Has this ever crossed your mind?
So, what do you give when you give a gift? When you give a gift, you are passing the responsibility of another possession; one they did not necessarily choose for themselves. They will have the burden of finding this item space in their home, storing it, cleaning it, and maintaining it.
What About 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 is stored somewhere.
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 appreciates the gesture and the gift giver. 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.
Enjoying the holiday season this year might be simpler than you think. But, if we can take care of a few essential things first, this is possible.
It Starts with Halloween
Let’s see. It’s Halloween, and you have precisely the stuff you need to create the theme you are going for this year. You know this because you have that neat area in your garage dedicated to holiday décor where every box is labeled. So decorating will be a breeze!
This year you are dressing up and having fun with the neighbors on Halloween!
You are enjoying it even more because you know how easy it is to put everything away (and while your kids are at school, you can eat all their candy!).
Then Thanksgiving Arrives
While putting all the Halloween décor away, you want to take out all the Thanksgiving stuff. Easy! It is all well-organized. What used to be a grumpy task is now an enjoyable thing to do.
And just like that, Thanksgiving has officially started in your home. Time to think of the menu, the guests, football, and all that comes with it. But guess what? You do have the time and capacity to think about all that now.
Your home is decorated, organized, clean, and ready for holiday guests because after that initial effort and investment last year (when we worked together in managing your home and all the storage), you have maintained the place.
On Thanksgiving Day, you can eat all you want and blissfully go into a food coma while watching football.
And Before You Know It
When recovered, it will be time to decorate for the major holiday of the year and put all Thanksgiving stuff away.
Everyone wonders how this process became so easy this time – everything is organized, accessible, and clean. You are in a jolly mood. It is a beautiful atmosphere.
You do have time to go shopping or tackle all your gift shopping online in a couple of hours.
Since your home looks, smells, and feels like the holidays, you have fun gift wrapping. But, of course, it helps that you have a fantastic gift-wrapping station stocked with everything you need for this purpose.
Probably It’s Not You (Yet)
Okay, this is probably not your case. You need to contact My Space Reclaimed now. Let’s start planning and organizing now, so the picture described above gets to be your story.
People go frantic during the holidays. They have to clean and get the home ready for guests, decorate, plan special activities, shop for gifts, gift-wrap, mail cards, and cook.
But with a neglected house, seasonal decor shoved everywhere, and disorganization, it is hard to feel at ease or properly decorate, shop, gift-wrap, cook, or do any coherent planning. That does not sound much like the jolly spirit.
Shining A Light on Your Home
No other time of the year shines a light on our home and family life as the holidays. Our home is where we cozy up with friends and family to celebrate, cook, eat and drink while cold outside. So make your home an inviting nest that genuinely speaks of love, gatherings, family, and joy.
All these holiday-related activities can be joyful if we first take care of the fundamentals. Things like the physical organization of the home and developing systems that help us every step of the way is how we create the foundation for a joyful holiday season.
So be proactive this year! Start analyzing which home processes can be more efficient, what changes your home needs to feel and look its best, and what home areas need reorganization.
The holidays are around the corner, and we would love to ease your burden during this time. Contact My Space Reclaimed and see how we can help you.
Few things bring domestic chaos to the surface, like the holiday season: the gatherings, the cooking, the decorations – Holiday Décor (Oh Joy!).
The cold weather makes us stay closer, inside.
Our environment’s stability is tested like at no other time of the year during the holidays.
It Affects Everyone
Some people live in a mess, yet they get preoccupied with seasonal décor, gift-giving, entertaining, and baking.
I can’t help but wonder if that is just a defense mechanism to avoid seeing the elephant in the room. What sense does it make to decorate a house in total disarray?
Some might seem oblivious to the underlying disorganization of their environment. However, whether we notice it or not, a chaotic environment affects us all.
Clutter affects us, both consciously and subconsciously. Clutter drains our energy.
What Would It Feel Like?
But if only we could experience a different way, what would happen? How many possibilities would open up? How much more efficient could we become? How much more relaxed and joyful?
Our environment is our foundation. If the foundation is not in order, we are on shaky ground.
Rather than being a roadblock in life, your home environment should be your support and bring you joy. That joy starts with having an organized and optimized space.
Then, the whole family can have a wonderful time decorating, sharing, cooking, and eating together instead of fighting about the dusty boxes, the decorations they can’t find, or just being in a bad mood because the house is a mess.
Have A Proper Closure
Having an “exit strategy” is equally important. How you close your holiday season will directly impact next year’s celebrations. If holiday decorations were not in order before, this is a good starting point. Decide to mindfully and purposefully store your seasonal décor to properly preserve them and keep them accessible for the following year. Commit to putting your home environment in order. You will feel the difference!
Make Your Environment Work For You
Stop fighting your environment. Make it work for you instead. Want a joyful holiday season? Get your environment in order first.
If you feel overwhelmed by the task, contact My Space Reclaimed! Let’s set a time to chat and see how we can walk that road together. You don’t have to do this alone