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Got Swag?

Got Swag?

Think about the last time you attended a seminar, workshop, or tradeshow. You got swag.

All the stuff you brought back, where is it? What did you do with those little gifts, binders, notes, notebooks, and product samples from a continuing education event or tradeshow?

You may come from the event and “put the bounty bag down for later”. But if you did not have a concrete, immediate plan for it, “later” never came, and eventually, you got tired of stepping over that bag or moving it from one place to the other.

You decided to place it where it would not interfere with your daily life (i.e., where you could not see it anymore).

Swag Turns into Clutter

Once you can’t see that material anymore, it is out of your mind. It does not interfere with your daily life, that’s true. But that means that you forget about it. Hence, a new bag to clutter your space!

If all that stuff is out of your mind, it is unimportant to you, and you don’t need it.

But why did you gather that stuff in the first place? It could be an automatic reaction to grab anything free.

Benefit From It

Think of ways that material can benefit your present life, help you in your career, relationships, or whatever it might be. Then, decide on concrete, appropriate steps to allow that to happen.

This process takes intention and planning. It will not happen if you relegate that bag or binder full of notes and product samples to a place you won’t think about.

What To Do with It

Here are some examples of what that process of paying attention to that material might look like:

  • You took notes on the various seminars during the activity — to cement the knowledge in your brain, transcribe the notes by hand. Then, scan those notes and file the document in an electronic file related to the topic. If you have Evernote or the like, that’s another convenient way to keep your information handy and classified.
  • You received printed material you already know is valuable and want to keep — scan it and follow the steps described above. If you’re going to keep the paper copies, make a file.
  • You collected sample items — Are you interested in trying those items? Place them where you are most likely to use them and try them! Did you collect the items for someone else? Place the things where you won’t forget to take them the next time you see that person.
  • Were there recommendations about books, apps, or programs to try? — If you made notes on these, these interested you in the first place. Revisit each of those and decide what needs to happen for you to act on it if that still sounds like a good idea.
  • Do you have ideas to develop? — Don’t let it go to waste! Instead, assign a time on your calendar to make those things happen or list the steps needed to obtain that goal. Then, calendar those steps. What gets in the calendar gets done.
  • Business cards — Scan them or input the information with appropriate notes into your iPhone. Then, establish steps and dates to reach those contacts, explore possibilities together, and network.

Take Action

You can certainly come up with more ways to benefit from all the material gathered at that event. The point is to take action about those ideas!

You paid money to attend these events, and you invested your time. Don’t let that go to waste. Learn how to get the most out of these mysterious swag bags we love to collect, for they hold a wealth of possibilities!

How Is That Convenient Auto-Shipment Working For You?

How Is That Convenient Auto-Shipment Working For You?

Excess purchases are a significant component of the clutter we encounter in our clients’ homes. In this case, I’m referring to purchases driven by auto-shipping programs. So, how does that convenient auto-shipment work for you?

They offer savings on things we would buy anyway, so why not?

Moreover, they save us the trouble of having to remember to reorder. What can be better? How can this be so bad?

First, lured by the savings on what you intend to purchase, you might get into the bundling of items you did not need or want to qualify for reduced shipping rates or discounted prices. That means additional unnecessary expenses and more clutter in your home.

Second, there is the quantity of stuff shipped. I often see an excess of products delivered to my clients’ homes. 

Whether they order an excessive amount of the product to qualify for the program parameters or take advantage of the shipping expense per fixed order amount, they get more than they can use before the next shipment arrives.

The third is the shipping frequency. It could be that the program establishes a specific frequency to lower the shipping costs or ensure future purchases. It may also be a misjudgment of the reordering time. But truth be told, pre-scheduled deliveries also compound the situation by arriving way too frequently.

What’s The Result?

If you have the situation mentioned above, then you probably are experiencing one or more of the following factors:

  • Boxes and other packing material from deliveries that are so frequent that you can’t seem to catch up
  • An excessive number of products need to be stored in odd or illogical places because you no longer have space in the logical area for that type of item
  • Product overflow lies around just anywhere because it does not fit anywhere else, or you “have not had time to put it away.”
  • That pesky recurrent charge on your credit card that you always say you will eliminate, but you always forget to

Can You Relate?

In principle, these auto-ship programs may save money and offer the advantage of not considering placing future orders. However, they work under limited circumstances and for certain people or products.

Often, we just let things go. The status quo goes on as days, weeks, and months pass. But, because we don’t manage these subscriptions, we must manage the clutter that results. 

If automatic deliveries run your life and home, please handle this situation now. Adjust the frequency of deliveries, the number of products, and the products you buy, or eliminate the auto-shipment. Go! Now!

Overwhelmed by Clutter? Show Junk Its Way Out with These 10 Steps.

Overwhelmed by Clutter? Show Junk Its Way Out with These 10 Steps.

As a Professional Organizer, I deal with people’s clutter daily. Over time, I have discovered that most of the clutter found in any given home is things that should have left home but failed to do so. We’ll call it junk. If you are overwhelmed by clutter, show junk its way out. 

Although junk includes trash, it also includes anything that does not serve us anymore, regardless of the item’s condition. How long waste stays in the home depends on the routines and procedures we follow (or fail to) in handling our belongings.

Those routines determine how cluttered our environment remains. Thus, consistently following specific practices and learning different habits can remove most clutter and help us maintain the space in much better shape. 

Handle The Trash 

Have a good-sized trashcan (13 gal.) and a recycling bin in the kitchen. To be functional, these need to be out in the open. Getting matching trashcan and recycling bins (or dual-purpose units) is a good idea. Square or rectangular shapes are best because these save space and configure better to the areas. 

Relying on the latest grocery bag hanging on a doorknob to discard your trash or an 8-gal trashcan in a corner to collect recycling might be an economical alternative. Still, it creates more obstacles than benefits and is not conducive to a cleaner kitchen. So instead, invest in good quality tools that make life easier.  

Sort The Mail

Have another trashcan and recycle bin set where you sort mail if this place differs from the kitchen. This process goes hand in hand with having an effective mail processing system

Add Trashcans Everywhere

It is easier to dispose of trash when there is a place to do so while we handle that waste. Therefore, place a trashcan in every room in the home. The amount of actual trash removed from homes while decluttering is astonishing. Garbage goes on the floor, under the bed, on the counter, and everywhere else when we don’t have accessible trashcans. During the weekly cleaning day, take all trash out.

Be Aware

Pay attention to when and how you experience the feeling that something no longer has a place in your life or your home. This feeling could be subtle as an energetic discrepancy in your body or noticeable, like clothing that does not fit. That’s the moment when you need to act. So take that thing out of your space. NOW.

Handle Packages Immediately

When receiving a package, open the box and remove the contents. If keeping it, remove the outer and inner packaging and tags. Take the item to where it is used or stored. Then, trash or recycle all packaging. Do not let those boxes and protective packaging material roll around your home for weeks. 

Every Time You Come Home

Every time you come home, especially when you bring bags of any kind, open that bag and remove its contents. Take everything where it belongs. Then, trash, recycle, or fold bags to reuse if desired. This process takes a few minutes, but it is better to employ seven minutes each day than suffer a panic attack when you realize you can’t deal with the clutter.

If anything can go anywhere, then everything will go anywhere. So you want to have control of your environment. Every single day, with consistency, is how you achieve that. 

Donate 

When you decide something is for donation, take it out of the house and place it in your car. Then, place a note on your windshield or seat to remind you to stop by the donation center when you go out next. This practice might sound silly, but it won’t when you see how effective this method is. 

Deal with Broken Things

Upon identifying an item that needs repair, put that item in a particular place dedicated to this purpose. Assign a monthly date in your calendar for repairs. Take the basket, bag, or bin with you on that day and take care of them.

Send Stuff Away

If you see something that you should have/could have/would like to send someone, prepare the package at that moment. If this is impossible, place the item where it bothers you enough that you will notice it and remember it. Then, include a reminder in the calendar for later that day to prepare that package. Once the box is ready, please put it in your car immediately to be shipped.

Take It Out NOW!

The point is to TAKE THAT THING OUT OF YOUR SPACE NOW. Some things need to wait. For those, prepare a labeled area in your home to place them. As you put something in that area, calendar the action or reminder to address the issue.

Is the item too big to move, or is the action something cumbersome you cannot handle now? You can always calendar these things. You deal with the issue the moment you decide about it. By placing a reminder or an action in the calendar, these things will be out of your head – clearing your mental clutter as well.

Refrain from entertaining trash, junk, and other people’s treasures in your home. Your home is living space, not storage space or a dump. 

“When” Matters

“When” Matters

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, you or someone else inadvertently step on the spot once or twice. 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. The extra effort needed to accomplish the goal grows each minute while the likelihood of taking 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. 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 results 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, or life (whatever it is).

Neglected Actions Create Chain Reactions

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 something other than 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. 

Remember the dog that has yet to eat. 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 associated with placing things inside the dishwasher, which 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 remaining, 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 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 become a ten-minute ordeal (with resentment!). 

And who will happily volunteer to take on the task when everyone is tired at the end of the day? Let’s remember 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’s 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.

Every chore becomes manageable when all household members understand and accept the home systems and perform their duties on time. 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 significant and seemingly insignificant things. You will probably see the cause/effect of delayed decisions and observe their ripple effect in your life. You will make amazing discoveries!