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Make This Time Count

Make This Time Count

Social distancing and quarantine times, are they over? It’s hard to say. We’ve been too long on this. So, all that time we have been at home and with our loved ones? Make this time count! 

Some of the practices we observed during 2020 and 2021 are still here, and some are here to stay. 

For example, many companies have realized they are more productive when employees are at home. Therefore, more and more people are adopting this trend as the new normal. 

In addition, some schools have kept remote learning as a permanent alternative for the students. As a result, we still share our home space (and for more extended periods) with other household members. 

When we are closer together under one roof, clutter and lack of systems seem to hit us harder. Thriving under these conditions requires adjustments for most of us. 

But change can be very positive, depending on how we take it. I, for one, have discovered a new joy in being around my husband and children. We have created a productive and harmonious work and play environment for the most part. And I don’t need to mention how ecstatic our dog is with this at-home arrangement.

But living, working, studying, and playing in closer proximity to each other for more extended periods may cause previously considered menial details about our space to appear more significant and bother us. 

So here are some things that might help us enjoy our new way of co-existing to make the best of the situation.

Keep It Clutter-Free And Clean

  • Strategically place boxes of tissue throughout the house.
  • Have a trash can in every room and take out the trash daily. 
  • Have antibacterial soap or sanitizer on every sink.
  • Wash towels and sheets more often. 
  • Handle your incoming mail daily, rapidly, and efficiently. The last thing you need is more paper clutter around your home.
  • Take 15 minutes at the beginning of each day to put the house in order-clean the counters, vacuum floors/carpets, and open up shades or curtains to let in the sunlight.
  • Gather dirty dishes and utensils inside the dishwasher throughout the day so counters remain clear. It requires putting away clean dishes every night before bedtime or first thing in the morning, so the day starts with an empty dishwasher.
  • Get caught up with your laundry as soon as possible. Laundry is often the nemesis of many households. You don’t need the added clutter right now. Read my laundry process blog if you feel this is a weak point.

Embrace a Positive Attitude

  • Make beds every day – this gives you a sense of accomplishment to start your day.
  • Get dressed as if you were going to work or school – when you dress up, this shows in your demeanor on the phone and Zoom calls.

Enjoy Family Time

  • Go on walks outside with the family – if we are together at home, we can take advantage of that.
  • Watch a movie or play board games as a family – welcome back game and movie nights.
  • Get to know each other better!

Stay Healthy

  • Develop a system to ensure everyone takes their supplements and medications consistently.
  • Grocery shopping needs strategic planning to have what we need while avoiding waste. Although we eat more meals at home, buying more than we need leads to food waste. Have a well-planned system.
  • Go to bed and wake up at the usual time every day and keep meal schedules – these two practices allow the body to maintain a routine and feel better.

Increase Productivity

  • Assign spaces for each household member to work or study. These spaces can vary by day, but it is easy to control clutter and to have an increased focus if everyone has a space on their own to operate each day. 
  • Avoid distractions by making sure your pets are cared for before starting your business or school day. Ensure your pets have adequate food and water, have gone outside (if applicable), and have safe and comfy areas to rest.
  • Try listening to Binaural Beats using headphones while you work or study to boost productivity. Binaural Beats in the Beta pattern may help promote concentration and alertness. Listening to Beta waves helps to increase focus, productivity, critical thinking, decision making, situational awareness, and memory. Beta waves also help increase your energy, sharpen your hearing, and improve overall well-being. 
  •  To take productivity to the next level, combine the binaural beats experience with the diffusion of essential oils that enhance your mood and increase brain activity. Young Living Essential Oils are the purest oils you can find. Some oils that improve brain function and affect mood are Vitality, Joy, Awaken, Motivation, Frankincense, Peppermint, Sandalwood, and Lavender.

I believe this time will show us that we can move forward in more productive and efficient ways than we ever thought. As a result, we will arrive at a better place as a society.

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!

Digital Clutter Is A Thing

Digital Clutter Is A Thing

Digital clutter is a thing. Although it is present in many ways, its lack of physical appearance allows us to ignore it.  This type of clutter appears as a disorganized desktop, misplaced electronic files, multiple copies of the same documents, and misspelled file names, among other things.

Our digital clutter causes us to spend precious time looking for information, going through duplicated files and folders, forgetting tasks, and missing appointments. Digital clutter fills up our hard drives, and before we know it, we have 10,000+ messages in your inbox as well.

Organizing our email system might be a daunting task. However, email is so front and center in our lives that a change in this area can produce substantial changes to boost productivity and increase our efficiency.

Here are some email management tips to start reducing electronic clutter.

Retail Bombarding

How about setting up a folder for promotions and store-related matters? If your email service does not allow creating folders within the inbox, consider setting up a separate email account just for stores, ads, and orders. After setting up that folder, go through your current retail subscriptions and move each one to the new folder. Instead, if you need to create a new email account, change the email address retailers use to communicate with you to the new account’s email address. Then, only check your new retail folder or the new email account when placing orders. Finally, clean out the new file or inbox monthly.

Email and Breakfast Do Not Match 

Avoid reading your email first thing in the morning. When you do, you let someone or something else prioritize your day. This practice sets the day off to a stressful tone—instead, schedule times during the day to read your email. You will notice an increase in productivity in your email response time and other tasks.

“You’ve Got Mail”

For most, the chime of a new message creates an immediate reaction to check the email. Turn off notification sounds that make you jump and see how more productive you become. You lose momentum and efficiency when distracted by email notifications. And remember that the multitasking phenomenon is a myth. Attempting to multitask makes us absent-minded and derailed.

Update Contacts

Add important senders right to your address book. Otherwise, their messages might appear spam or junk, and you will miss important information and dates. Keep your contacts updated for your peace of mind.

Managing Emails Efficiently

Strive to read each email only once. Using folders and category options in the email is a necessity. Use the following categories or actions for each email message:

    • Delete – When the message is not needed now or later, delete it at once.
    • 2-Minute Action – if your response or action to this message will take less than 2 minutes, process the information at that moment and then delete it, if possible. If the answer or action to take requires additional time, leave the message in the inbox as a reminder to tackle later.
    • Pending Matter – Messages with information to be referred to in the short-term future and notifications to remember can stay in the inbox until the time comes to act on these. Limit inbox messages to follow-up and immediate action items to allow these messages to stand out.
    • File – File messages or notifications containing information for future reference. These messages might deserve a permanent electronic file but removing them from the inbox is important.

An inbox containing 4,230 messages will not help improve efficiency or boost productivity – it will hide essential messages that should stand out for your inbox to become a productivity tool.

More importantly, an inbox with this many messages is evidence of delayed decisions. An inbox full of messages of all kinds is no different than that basement or garage, where you keep things “just in case” – no one knows what is in there for sure.

Digital clutter might not be as apparent as physical clutter, but it affects us. And whether the mess is digital or physical, it creeps up every time we postpone decisions and actions. 

So, decide and act promptly and consistently when processing your email messages. Decrease your digital clutter by increasing your inbox control.

Open Storage Space – An Organizing Challenge

Open Storage Space – An Organizing Challenge

Open Storage Space Can Be A Challenge

Achieving a functional storage space that looks great both inside and out is challenging. For example, what to do with an overload of things to organize when there is little to no closet, drawer, or cabinet space available?

That’s when people typically place everything anywhere, just as long as these things are on a flat surface. Well, that does not look organized or pretty (but no one said they were trying either).
Some places do have open storage space by design. And this is where the challenge is.

One of the most charming houses I’ve ever worked with was a custom-built home without any storage space! The few areas available to store things, even in the kitchen, were small and exposed (as in no cabinets, drawers, etc.). Furthermore, every storage area consisted of built-in niches, which made the use of storage furniture pieces an awkward proposition.

Consider This To Make It Work 

Some factors to consider when organizing an area with open storage are the style of the space, harmonious storage solutions, minimalism, and maintenance.

When things need to remain in plain sight due to lack of concealed storage space, arrange them stylishly- that is, those items that might look good enough to display by themselves.

However, when storing items that clearly can’t stand by themselves as they are, like food or cleaning products, consider using baskets or bins that share either color or style to create a homogeneous, harmonic look that complements the style of the space. Otherwise, the area will look disorganized and cluttered.

Maintenance is essential because, over time, we turn blind to the looks of a space we see daily. We forget that such storage space, due to its openness, is an integral part of the area’s decor and style. Therefore, visible space needs to be well-kept, not only in order but also in color, item arrangement, and balance with the rest of the space.

Consider the picture below.

Open Storage Space In Kitchen 1024x683 - Open Storage Space - An Organizing Challenge

Open storage space is an organizing challenge

This kitchen would not look this appealing without attention to color balance, positioning, and item amount. Some kitchens rely on open shelves like these instead of upper cabinets. 

NOTE: The attention that open storage space requires does not excuse using cabinets and drawers carelessly (as in shoving everything inside in a messy pile) because these are concealed storage areas. These covered spaces still need to be organized to know what we have and easily access it. Otherwise, why keep any of it?

Please reach out to us if you find yourself in a difficult spot deciding about your own open storage space.

Organizing Media

Organizing Media

Sneaky Media

Media, like DVDs, cassettes, videos, CDs, and books, insidiously clutter our homes. These items sneak into our space without us even knowing why. We feel like organizing media today. Want to join us? Keep reading!

These items are often invisible until they overrun our environment or until they gang up with other types of clutter to take us down. Do you know that feeling?

Let’s Do This!

Let’s strike back and end this battle now. Follow these simple steps and suggestions.

1. Gather

Go through your home and gather every book, CD, DVD, video, and cassette (if you have any of the last two?). Do not get distracted by papers, clothes, Knick knacks, or other stuff around. You need to stay hyper-focused if you want to finish this process.

2. Divide

Divide this large media group into five categories: CDs, DVDs, videos, cassettes, books.

3. Cassettes (Tapes)

Let’s deal with those cassettes first, if you have any.

Do you have the equipment to listen to these? And would you listen to them — ever? (Honestly!). What are their contents? Are the contents something you can easily find online (like music)? Or is the material recorded conferences, for example? If so, could you find the same content online? If the contents of the cassettes are something personal you recorded and need to keep, find a service that can transfer that tape contents into digital. A digital format preserves the material and also makes it more accessible. Then you can let go of both the tapes and the tape player. Off with clutter!!!

If you MUST keep one or two tapes in the actual cassette format for utmost sentimental reasons, that item should go in your “warm & fuzzy” box. What is that box? This box is a special box everyone should have in their closet or under the bed, with very few carefully selected items that make you laugh or cry throughout your entire life. Of course, not everything can or should go in this box. You have to be super selective!

Place all cassettes you decide to digitize in a box or bin marked “to digitize.” Then, get your calendar (yes, right now) and schedule a date when you will do any research needed about this service and when you will mail this material to be digitized.

4. VHS anyone?

Everything said in point number 3 applies to any VHS video in your home.

Answer the same questions and take the same actions described for cassettes with your videos.

Photo Credit Home Decor Obsession 200x300 - Organizing Media

Photo Home Decor Obsession

5. Books’ turn!

Check all those books collected through the home and see if anything should go away through donation, recycling, or selling. If you have a decent number of books to let go of, see if you can sell them at Half-Priced Books? They also buy movies and music so, keep that in mind.

Take the books you will keep to that home area where other books live. If you do not have a central place for the books in your home, maybe it is time to assign a place?

Don’t limit your ideas for lack of space or bookcases. There is an infinite number of ways to create bright displays for your books. In addition, books can make a design statement! Just check Pinterest, and you will see. Smashing idea; Points for Design!

6. A word about vinylVinyl 300x214 - Organizing Media

Vinyl has come back- no doubt about it. But being a vintage item, vinyl makes a statement on its own. Because we tend to listen to records on special moments and need vintage equipment to play them, these items tend to behave more appropriately. They don’t run away like their CDs and DVDs relatives. There is not much we need to say about vinyl. But if you have some records and their player but have not given these items the standing they crave, you are missing all the fun. Consider a place of honor to display and listen to your Vinyl music. It is unlikely that you have records you no longer want out of their jackets or in random home areas. But if you do, I am simply out of words. Let’s leave it at that.

7. How about DVDs and CDs?

Make a space in the living room or a home office for all the DVDs you keep. First, you will need to pair DVD and CD cases with their discs! For mysterious reasons, half of the cases we find are empty. That probably tells us their corresponding disks might be broken or scratched somewhere or under some gooey, unknown blob. Chances are those disks are no longer suitable to keep, and you can feel okay with trashing them. But when you let them go, make sure you discard their case as well.

Other DVDs and CDs will be in good condition. So, after matching them with their cases, you can decide to keep or donate them.

The DVDs and CDs you keep should probably be all together in a single place in the home. Typically, the optimal location for these is the living room.

When you decide where all your DVDs and CDs will live, take those you found during this exercise to that place in the home. Then see if any of the discs in your collection can go. You could donate or sell them (remember Half Priced Books?).

When you go through all your disks and eliminate what you don’t want or enjoy anymore, you make a more comfortable, appealing space for the DVDs and CDs you keep.

The Most Brilliant Idea Yet

On the other hand, consider that movies and music are easy and inexpensive to download these days. It might cost you more to store these items if you consider the space they occupy in your home and the amount you pay for each square foot of the house. And when was the last time you watched a movie from your DVDs or listened to a CD? (No, honestly!)

Some DVDs and CDs might be homemade, with great sentimental value. You probably will want to keep all that material. However, here is my brilliant idea: Transfer their contents to an external drive dedicated to photos and videos or place the material in your computer and copy it to the cloud, for example. This way, all your memories are safe, shareable with others, more accessible to enjoy, and do not occupy the physical space CDs and DVDs take. Furthermore, you can also let go of CD players and DVD players. How about that? Off with the clutter, again!!!

Hopefully, these steps and ideas help you tackle the media clutter in your home. Probably media is not the most significant factor cluttering your environment, but every little bit counts. So, we need to divide, conquer, and work on every puzzle piece to get our desired results.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need help or advice with your home organization.


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