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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!

The Foundation of Elevated Living

The Foundation of Elevated Living

Elevated Living

I always refer to that elevated living we should all experience or my “Elevate Your Everyday” message. And we might immediately think of luxury, high-end brands, a richly designed home, or other things.

But when I speak of an elevated life, I refer to much simpler yet meaningful things – often details, that can alter our perception of our environment and ourselves. That might be the deeper subject to dive into at a different time.

It turns out that what lies beneath an elevated life is something most people neglect. No one would ever consider having it part of a happier, more beautiful life. However, this piece is crucial for extraordinary living.

Cleanliness and Maintenance at the Core of Elevated Living

We can all agree about how we like the experience of a hotel room or a spa, although we might have different views about how or why we enjoy these places.

Clean, minimalist, spacious kitchen as part of an elevated living.

I typically refer to the minimalism in hotel room designs and the serenity spas convey. Both places speak of relaxation and peace and offer a rich experience that appeals to our senses.

But at the core of every experience in a hotel room or a spa, there is a common denominator we hardly ever think of – cleanliness and maintenance.

Without cleanliness and maintenance, the experience of staying in a hotel room or visiting a spa would never be as we regard them.
We know these two places require constant cleaning and maintenance. Yet, we never see evidence of these activities – like tools or cleaning products. If we did, the magic would disappear.

We enjoy the experience of these places because we don’t have to think about cleaning and maintaining them- just a fresh, uncluttered, well-appointed, functional environment to relax and enjoy.

That Feeling Should Begin at Home

However, cleaning and maintenance are essential for those places to create the feeling of a perfect life where nothing ever gets broken, and cleaning is even unnecessary. And by extension, we tend to feel as if nothing could go wrong when we are there.

Shouldn’t this be how we feel at Home? Home should be a place of rest, support, nourishment, inspiration, and revival. Imagine feeling all that in a place where you truly belong.

Necessary and Unavoidable

Cleaning and maintenance tasks must happen, whether it’s you, other family members, or trained service personnel. So, if cleaning and maintenance are necessary and unavoidable, why not systematize and schedule these tasks? With a system, a plan, and a schedule, these tasks get done, and the Home remains in shape.

On the contrary, neglecting the cleaning and upkeeping of the house means:

  • Trying to make up for all the tasks left undone when guests arrive
  • Coming home daily to a less-than-desirable place
  • Draining your energy
  • Being unable to rest appropriately
  • Not enjoying your Home at its fullest
  • Cleaning and maintaining the Home should not be left for when you feel like it, have the time, or whether you like those activities. Stop fighting, ignoring, dreading, and suffering it. You’ll never feel like doing it, you’ll never have the time (if you don’t plan for it), and no one likes to do these chores. (No one!)

Organized, designed and minimalistic living room

Systematize and Schedule

The less you think of home cleaning and maintenance, the less energy you put into those thoughts, and the less these thoughts will bother you. How could we make sure these activities happen without thinking much about them? Scheduling is the answer.

Scheduling these home tasks:

  • takes them off your mind
  • ensures these tasks happen consistently, thoroughly, and promptly
  • allows you to enjoy your home without constantly worrying about maintenance and cleaning

More importantly, these tasks will stop interfering with your life when they have a specific time in your schedule. You might even forget about them if you trust yourself to follow the routine and allow your schedule to guide you.

Food for thought: A schedule we respect and follow allows the mind to relax.

Love It Clean but Hate Cleaning It

A few years back, we downsized considerably. With a much smaller house, I do most of the cleaning. I find our place to be bright, joyful, and super cozy. I love it! But cleaning? Nope. Not at all.

However, I do love having a clean, cozy home. I feel thrilled when the home is fresh and clean; I can relax and feel comfortable.
I’m disciplined and, as someone once said, “very task-oriented.” This is important when planning activities and following a schedule (especially when we want to avoid doing any of it).

Cozy bed is part of an elevated living.

I’m disciplined and, as someone once said, “very task-oriented.” This is important when planning activities and following a schedule (especially when we want to avoid doing any of it).

Tips for the Not-So-Task-Oriented

What do you do if you can’t follow a routine or schedule? You may want to learn to put yourself into “automatic mode” to keep up with your household routines. (Works like a charm).

And here’s what I do when not feeling so task-oriented (because this has nothing to do with how we feel about it, remember?). My cleaning time goes by much faster when I listen to podcasts, webinars, or classes that interest me while working on house tasks. Try something like that and see how it goes if you hate cleaning the home like me.

Remember

  • A nurturing, restful, and organized home starts with consistent cleaning and maintenance.
  • Cleaning and maintenance don’t magically happen; you must make them happen.
  • Scheduling is the solution to ensure cleaning and maintenance tasks get done consistently with the least amount of stress.
  • When home-keeping tasks get scheduled, these are off your head and allow you to enjoy a clean, fresh space consistently.

Related Reading:

The Shame That Binds You

The Shame That Binds You

The Shame That Binds You

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?

But why does this happen? Where does such a thing come from?

Well, it starts with some harmful beliefs society has perpetuated. These beliefs are particularly detrimental to women.

Harmful Beliefs

Society has perpetuated three beliefs that are particularly harmful to women:

  1. 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 house.
  2. This female job comes from the fact that a woman’s capacity to organize, plan, and manage comes inherently to the female gender.
  3. A woman should be capable of doing all that naturally, effortlessly, and excellently.

However, planning, organizing, and managing require engaging the brain’s executive function. 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 the lack of skills and time. 

We defer the making of products and provision of services we need to groups or individuals who are experts at what they do because engaging our time in or learning all the skills required 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. Making their whole wardrobe from scratch is not an efficient use of their time. So they even 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! It 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. And if we can’t accomplish that, something must be wrong with us. Furthermore, if those skills are innate, 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.

A Professional Organizer Can Help

Professional Organizers can help by:

  1. Doing the organizing and planning, you do not have time to do
  2. Doing the organizing and planning you do not want to do
  3. Developing systems that make your life and home more efficient
  4. Using their knowledge, experience, and skills to build systems to make your life and home more efficient
  5. 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 easy life can be! You might be surprised. Your only regret might be not making that decision sooner.

A Place For Everything and Everything In Its Place

A Place For Everything and Everything In Its Place

Do You Really Need It Out There?

We all need certain things handy. I hear it all the time – “Oh, this is out here because we use it all the time, and we need it handy.” 

Let’s consider this for a moment.

If you have already purged everything that does not serve your life anymore, what you keep then is something you or your household members need.

But if we apply the same reasoning that “it’s out there because we use it all the time,” everything you own would be “out here.” 

Can you visualize the chaos?

You’d be surprised at the unused or underutilized space at home. And usually, the reasoning behind it goes: “It needs to be out here because we use it all the time.” The issue might not even be a lack of storage space!

This “everything out there” mentality reminds me of what Joshua Becker (from BecomingMinimalist.com) calls the “convenience fallacy.” On his blog, he wrote: 

“By leaving these things out in the open, we think we’re saving time when we need them, and we think we’re simplifying our lives, but the result is anything but. I call this the “convenience fallacy.” And it’s a huge source of the visual clutter in our homes.”

“Sure, by leaving them out, you may save a couple of seconds when you want to grab one of them. But for the other 99.9 percent of the time, they’re sitting out, where they create a visual distraction, get in the way, add to the disorganization of our spaces, and attract more clutter.”

A Place For Everything

To get and remain organized, you need to have a place for every item in your home. Also, after using it, you must return everything where it belongs. Do this immediately and consistently; soon enough, it becomes a habit. 

Even when you start a project or process that you can’t finish immediately, get in the habit of putting things back at the end of the day. You see, life happens, and often, despite our best intentions to finish what we started the next day, we don’t.

And it might not happen that week or even that month (sounds familiar?). There will be supplies, tools, equipment, and materials in odd places – anywhere but where these things should go. And stuff remains wherever for months and years while new, incomplete projects come into the picture. 

A few things left out of place due to frequent use will soon justify all other items we use often left out of place. And eventually, only very few things are in their rightful place in the home. By then, the chaos around the house affects your productivity, joy, sleep, and life. Worse, your mind might not be getting what your body and intuition perceive.

And it doesn’t matter how well organized the home gets to be at a particular moment. When everyday habits don’t support that order, the mess will return (and with a vengeance).

Continued Effort Is Essential

The idea behind organizing is to make life easier. Hence, in developing systems, consider item accessibility and frequency of use.

However, that does not mean that a well-organized place with great systems does not require any effort. There must be a balance between the convenience of having an organized home, the ease of using our belongings, and the effort that maintains order in the house.

Your belongings might be easier to find once everything is organized (even labeled). Still, everything needs to return where it belongs every time. After all, that’s key to finding those things again quickly.

Many people struggle to understand their disorganization at home. Some buy containers or storage solutions. Others go after the latest trend in organizing and trying various things. 

But if the basic principles in organizing are ignored, the result is less than satisfactory or doesn’t last. No fad, gimmick, or container will ever help.

The truth is that three basic steps are necessary for the organization to stick.

  • Let go of all the excess in your life (clutter)
  • Designate a proper, permanent place for every item you own
  • Place everything back where it belongs after each use. 

Those three steps are fundamental to maintaining an organized space.

Note that the first point is letting go of the clutter. You’ll inevitably have to face your clutter issue while designating a place for everything you own. Clutter must go away, and you’ll have to make critical decisions.

It’s the only way to open up the space needed to store what you intentionally decide to keep.

Let’s Help With That Initial Push

If your home has never been in top shape, you might need help with that initial organizing effort. The initial organizing of the house can be a profoundly confusing process for many people. If that is your case and you don’t know where to start, do not hesitate to seek help. We can assist you with the initial organizing but, most importantly, help you develop the systems and methods to keep your home space in great shape. Let’s chat!

11 Key Habits of an Organized Lifestyle

11 Key Habits of an Organized Lifestyle

Organizing is not a project; it is a lifestyle. So, here are 11 key habits of an organized lifestyle. These will make a big difference in your home and how you live.

Make The Bed Every Morning

Making your bed makes the room feel in order and makes you feel accomplished from the time you get up. In addition, this action helps you face the date with a can-do attitude.

Keep A Donation Bag In Each Closet

Having a bag for things you no longer need or want allows you to make those decisions when you think about them. You will have a designated place for these items and won’t need to remember to gather them later. When the bag is full, schedule a donation run. When you put on a piece of clothing that you feel is no longer suitable or is ripped or screams dated, instead of hanging it back (or, God forbid, throwing it on the bed or a chair), you will place that item in the bag.

Create A Home For Everything In Your House

You will decide where things should go based on their use pattern in the home. The important thing is to assign one specific place to each category of items, preferably. If using an object requires storing it in more than one space, set those spaces up. Also, labeling storage areas allows everyone to know where to put things back. And remember, If anything can go anywhere, everything will go everywhere. 

Put Things Back In Their Place

To maintain an organized home, everyone must always return things where they belong. Hence, it is essential to label spaces until everyone knows the proper place for things. “I will put this here for the moment” does not work. It never has. It never will.

Shop Intentionally

The words “free,” “save,” and “discount” act like a drug on the brain. Please don’t fall for it. Before you buy, ask yourself if you need the item and have the space to store it. If not, please walk away. The less you own, the more living area you enjoy in your home, and the less you have to care for.

Remove Extra Packaging 

When bringing home bags or boxes, remove the contents and strip those items of outer packing as much as possible. That is making the stuff truly yours. It also makes the item(s) ready to be organized within your home. This process is a critical step we follow when organizing a space. You want everything as visible and ready to be used as possible. Removing all unnecessary packaging also saves lots of space and makes all items of the same kind look the same. The more homogeneous your collection, the more functional the system is and the prettier your areas look.

Discard Trash At Once

Entertained garbage makes up for most of the clutter in every household. If you commit to removing the packaging of what you bring home, go the distance and trash the garbage instead of allowing all the extra packing to linger around your home until who knows when. 

Process Mail Efficiently

Keep a recycle bin, a shredder, and a tray or sorter to process the mail. Preferably, have your filing cabinet where you process the mail. Most of the mail you receive is junk. Throw it away before it can clutter your home. Also, be a knowledgeable shredder. You only need to shred documents with account numbers, social security numbers, medical information, or bank offers. 

Having a shredder right where you sort the mail immediately lets you take care of this. 

Too often, I find boxes full of documents that need shredding, cluttering my clients’ lives—concerns about safety compound the problem. We accumulate more paper over time when we do not know what to destroy. 

Also, mail sorting and filing systems are critical for processing bills on time and filing what you keep in paper form. 

Plan Ahead

Take a few minutes to prepare for the next day at the end of each day. Evaluate your “to-do” list and set out everything you need to go through your planned errands the next day.

Practice Strategic Scheduling

Scheduling is Logistics 101. College business programs include courses on administration and logistics, with algorithms to determine the optimal sequence of events to complete a project or the most efficient routes to get around. 

Of course, you don’t need to go to such an extent, but you can gain significant efficiency and add more time to each day with some planning.

Clean Out Bags Daily

Whether it is your handbag, weekender, kids’ sports bags, or suitcases, emptying the contents of all bags allows you to assess what needs replacement, washing, trashing, or placing somewhere else. This practice is particularly beneficial in helping you plan for the following day or week. 

If you are a paper kind of person and love to write little reminders and notes to yourself throughout the day, consistently emptying your bag helps you remember that idea you wanted to pursue. Those reminders might be the start of more significant plans in the scope of your life.

Consistency Is Key

These 11 steps might seem like little, but combined and executed consistently, they will make a big difference in your life.