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Got Swag?

Got Swag?

Think about the last time you attended a seminar, workshop, or tradeshow. All the stuff you brought back, where is it? What did you do with those binders, notes, notebooks, and product samples from a continuing education event or tradeshow?

You may come from the event and “put the swag 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.

Make It Benefit You

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.

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!)

Create a Clean and Organized Home with These 22 Tips

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).

Dog in bed

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:

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!