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“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 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!

How Is That Convenient Auto-Shipment Working For You?

How Is That Convenient Auto-Shipment Working For You?

A significant component of the clutter we encounter in our clients’ homes is excess purchases. In this case, I’m referring specifically to those purchases driven by auto-shipping programs. So, how is that convenient auto-shipment working 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 is the result of all this, and how does this affect how you live?

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 is lying 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 to any of these?

In principle, these auto-ship programs may save money and offer the advantage of not thinking about placing future orders. However, they work under limited circumstances and for certain kinds of people or certain types of 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 have to manage the clutter that results. 

If automatic deliveries are running your life and home, please take care of this situation now. Adjust the frequency of deliveries, the amount of product, the products you buy or eliminate the auto-shipment. Go! Now!

The Mess The Organizer Made

The Mess The Organizer Made

You might wonder what could possibly be the mess the Organizer made. Allow me to explain.

We overbuy for a myriad of reasons. We hoard stuff sometimes. Other times, it’s a matter of not letting go. Whatever the reason, we have a severe problem with space (although the real problem lies in how much stuff we accumulate).

We seem to need every inch of space available to store all the things we own. We have drawers open in a spare room, and there we go, filling them with the most unimaginable items just because there is available storage space.

What We Find

Too often, clients call us to organize a room in their home and insist there is insufficient storage space in the area they want to manage. However, upon assessing the project, almost invariably, we realize three things:

(1) inefficient use of the space

(2) the space contains many unwanted things that had failed to leave the home

(3) much of what the project space includes does not belong there

Well, no wonder there is no space for what needs to go in that area!

Once unwanted items are removed from the space, and we correctly allocate and organize what the client wants to keep, they usually marvel at all the space they have.

That is until they turn around and see the mess in their living room. Then clients might not be so happy (for just a little while, though).

How It Happens

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

Once we finish organizing the project area, whatever we removed needs sorting as well. The client needs to decide what stays or goes and the best place to allocate what they keep.

Often, we must repeat the organizing process in areas of the home that our client did not contemplate in the project. Such is when stuff removed from the space we are organizing needs to go to different home areas with no apparent space available. Then we need to create that space so that what logically belongs in those places can be stored in them.

Here are two pictures from a recent project. Our goal was to organize seven home areas, starting with three bedrooms upstairs. Although the plan included the living room, this area was initially uncluttered. Ironically, that was not the case once we finished the first three rooms!

Before 1024x768 - The Mess The Organizer Made

The first picture is the living area “before” picture. The second picture is the living room after organizing the first three bedrooms.  The before picture looks somewhat like the “after” and vice versa! That’s the mess we made! But it all worked out in the end. The client was delighted.

After 1024x768 - The Mess The Organizer Made

And as much as we would like to estimate the time a project might take, this shifting of things inherent to the organizing process makes it unpredictable. All we can assure the client is that “It will get worse before it gets better.” 

As Organizers, we want to delight the client, take care of everything and leave their home looking perfect. So, take a deep breath and play along. The mess the Organizer made will go away.

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 day after day. 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 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 of that clutter and help us maintain the space in much better shape. 

Handle The Trash 

Have a good size trashcan (13 gal.) and recycling bin in the kitchen. To be functional, these need to be out in the open. It’s a good idea to get matching trashcan and recycling bins (or dual-purpose units). 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 it 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 is not 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. Trash 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 on end. 

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 couple of minutes, but better to employ seven minutes each day than suffer a panic attack when you realize that 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 first thing when you go out next. This practice might sound silly to you, 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. On that day, take the basket, bag, or bin with you and take care of all 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 won’t ignore it or forget. 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 might need to wait. For those, prepare a labeled area in your home to place those. As you place something in that area, calendar the action or reminder to take care of 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.

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

Restoring Proper Body And Mind Energetic Flow

Restoring Proper Body And Mind Energetic Flow

The Body Knows

Our environment can make us sick. I’m not necessarily referring to pollution, but rather how we react to our environment. We react consciously and subconsciously. We are energy. Everything around us is energy. Even the colors we see are nothing other than different wavelengths of energy, and we know colors have the power to impact our mood. Thus, restoring proper body and mind energetic flow seems essential to practice self-care.

It is impossible not to react to our environment in one way or another. You might not react consciously, but our bodies know. Our subconscious minds know. I first learned about this through an acupuncturist when he showed me how the “muscle test” works. He showed me how the body is the best lie detector. The body can’t lie, and it has a mind of its own.

So, regardless of our thoughts and what we perceive from our environment, the subconscious mind and the body know the truths we might not be aware of or purposely ignore.

The Energy of Clutter

In previous articles, I have discussed clutter and its psychological and physical effects. 

In her book Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui, Karen Kingston says: “The word “clutter” derives from the Middle English word “clotter,” which means “to coagulate” – and that’s as stuck as you can get. Clutter accumulates when energy stagnates, and likewise, energy stagnates when clutter accumulates. Clutter begins as a symptom of what is happening with you in your life and then becomes part of the problem itself because the more of it you have, the more stagnant energy it attracts to itself. It starts with a bit and then slowly, insidiously, it grows – and so does the stagnant energy around it, which then has a correspondingly stagnating effect on your life. Sorting out your life by sorting out your junk results in a tremendous renewal of your life force energy.”

It’s no surprise that clutter directly interferes with the correct flow of energy, both at the physical and metaphysical levels (spirit and mind). So often, surrounding mess creates a physical or mental imbalance. However, the process can work in the opposite way – pains and tensions that make it impossible to deal with our clutter. Most times, these two scenarios feed off each other.

When clutter surrounds us, our physical and emotional energy is cramped. An impaired energy flow can cause adverse mental and physiological reactions. Unhealthy patterns emerge, and illness might follow. We should strive to be on the defense rather than relying on corrective methods when it comes to the energy in our bodies.

Holistic Practices That Prevent Disease

Traditional medicine is mainly an interventional solution for health problems and falls short on prevention. Practices such as essential oils, Chiropractic care, and Acupuncture are examples of holistic ways to correct our energetic flow and health.

Essential Oils

In my article The True Power of Essential Oils, I share a little of my own story with essential oils, as well as my genuine surprise to discover their true power. 

Chiropractic Care

Plano Chiropractor, Dr. Brian Dillon, explains: “One of the many hidden benefits of chiropractic care is creating a more effective immune system by removing interference with the nervous system at the spinal level. For example, when the spine is out of alignment, the immune system is impaired, interfering with the body’s ability to heal. Being aligned allows the body to heal itself and help prevent “dis-ease.”

Acupuncture

Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist Xenia Maradiaga-Gross explains that “Acupuncture is part of the Traditional Chinese Medicine. Traditional Chinese Medicine regards (and treats) patients as whole individuals, considering the physical, the emotional, and the mental, with both the conscious and the subconscious. When we suffer physical or emotional trauma that is left unaddressed, this might create an obstruction of energy over time. When this happens, energy gets stagnant, which disrupts the flow of blood and vital fluids. Then we experience physical symptoms like headache, tension, tiredness, cramps, bloating. Those symptoms are the body telling us that it is out of balance. Those symptoms affect our mood and quality of life. When we ignore chronic imbalances affecting organs and body systems, this might result in severe conditions and disease. Acupuncture addresses the patient’s symptoms and the root cause of energy imbalances creating those symptoms. It increases blood and energy flow in the body to properly restore its systems’ functions.”

Prevention Is Key

Practicing prevention seems like the best strategy to follow, given that the body and the subconscious mind perceive what we can’t notice. We don’t necessarily know when/where energetic disconnections occur. Leaving these disconnections unattended might result in those strange, spontaneous pains we experience from time to time. Even worse, illness might follow sooner than later.


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