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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!

When Emotions Get in The Way of a Clutter-Free Life

When Emotions Get in The Way of a Clutter-Free Life

Some emotions might get in the way and keep you from living a clutter-free life.

There is usually an emotion associated with people’s resistance to part with stuff that no longer has a specific role in their lives. Let’s look at some of these emotions.

Excessive Sentimentalism

Some items do have sentimental value. When you can keep them in a particular place of honor, that is not a problem. But having too many sentimental things, or that everything is so unique, the truth is that nothing is. Special items get lost in the crowd, and instead of evoking sentimental value, those items become annoyances.

Unwanted Gifts

Have you been a hostage of unwanted gifts? You might feel guilty about getting rid of something you received as a gift. What if you don’t like or need that item? What if you lack the proper space to home that thing? None of that matters – you feel guilty just thinking of letting that item go. 

This guilt probably arises because you don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings. However, if you follow the same pattern in many instances, you end up in a home where you feel unhappy, given the clutter of many things you’d rather not have around.

Your home should be your sanctuary, not a storage place for unwanted stuff. Learning to separate a gift from the feelings you associate with the giver is essential. You can acknowledge the gift as an expression of their love for you, but that does not mean the item must remain a subconscious contention between you two. It is also beneficial to look at the matter from the perspective of the gift giver. For that, read our blog: What Do You Give When You Give A Gift?

Unfulfilled Dreams

Some people don’t want to get rid of things that might symbolize the life or experiences they wished they had but never did. It is common to hold on to things representing what we wish we had done. Karen Kingston calls this “aspirational clutter.”

A clear example of aspirational clutter is crafting. The amount of new crafts supplies and unfinished projects we find in homes is enormous. 

But people can’t let any of those crafts supplies go because, in doing so, they would accept that they don’t have time, desire, or the talent to do those crafts. 

But your home should reflect who you are now, support your goals, and be the launching pad to your future. When you hold on to past dreams, you have little room for the future. Let go and rest assured- if you are meant to live those other dreams sometime in the future, it will happen. In the meantime, live and be in the present.

Money Paid

You spend money when you buy something, not when you get rid of it. Keeping something because it costs a lot will not bring back the money spent. When it is time to let that thing go, think about the value it brought to you, recognize it accomplished its mission, and let it be free to enhance the lives of others.

Keeping objects that clutter our lives compounds the problem. These items take an emotional toll on you, rob you of time, and cost money. Such things require that you spend time caring for them and money paying for the space they take up in your home or even a storage unit. 

Understanding and addressing the source of discomfort in parting with things you no longer need can also remove a layer of guilt and emotional baggage you may not have even realized you were carrying.

If you can identify your source of discomfort with decluttering, you can make significant breakthroughs. You can deal with your emotions, move on, and eliminate the stuff cluttering your life. 

It all boils down to forgiving yourself for past money mistakes or accepting that not everything continues to have a high value over the years. Understanding this will allow you to get past the emotions and part with the object without guilt.

Future Needs

The fear of needing something in the future and not having it comes from the primal fear of not having enough. It comes from not trusting yourself or others to provide for you in the future. If you can replace the item for less than $30, let’s say, or a couple of hours of work, let it go.

There’s a point and time when you must take a leap of faith and trust in yourself and your loved ones to help you with things instead of thinking you’re alone with no resources or skills.

Perfection Paralysis

When a task is too daunting, it is hard to start and much more challenging to see the end. This disturbing feeling is a familiar one when it comes to decluttering. It also encompasses the phenomenon of “perfection paralysis.” Some people will only start a project if they are confident the result will be perfect. Unfortunately, that is hardly ever the case; thus, they never start the project.

When a task seems impossibly hard or the desired result unachievable, it is helpful to divide the project into smaller parts and conquer it in chunks. If this still proves too hard to handle, you should engage a Professional Organizer to guide you through the process. Having guidance in the form of a project manager, coach, or even body double can help you see a more straightforward path to completing your project.

To further explore the topic of clutter and emotions, read:

One Catastrophe’s Silver Lining 

One Catastrophe’s Silver Lining 

Finding The Silver Lining

When a catastrophe strikes, like a devastating hurricane, we might need to look at our lives and possessions differently—for example, letting things go if a catastrophe ruins items. Also, the situation may require moving on with less due to reduced space in temporary living arrangements.

If this happens, we might start seeing what we own in a different light – we may even discover that we can let go of our attachment to things as we start a new life with less. Owning less means less to take care of, less to store, and a deeper appreciation for what we now own.

Within days after a significant hurricane, community volunteers rushed in and helped declutter homes in preparation for the much-needed repairs. However, there were many random, untouched items left in these homes. Those items were different from what these families wanted or needed to keep. However, the rushed volunteer-led effort was spontaneous and disorganized. Everything went into boxes. Homeowners had no idea what they had or lost and didn’t have immediate, organized access to the saved items. 

A Different Point of View

As families prepared to re-enter their repaired homes later that year, they surveyed what was left of their possessions and, instead of holding on to those few things as representatives of what they lost, these families expressed the need for further decluttering. Why was that? Because what was left in the houses made no sense to them anymore. Their perspective had changed. The stuff that remained was now clutter to them.

After experiencing the life-changing revelation that often occurs after a catastrophe, many have embraced living with less and now enjoy a different relationship with their stuff. They realize living with less in their homes means less to care for. As a result, they are willing and able to live a life of connection with friends and family. Embracing the essentials in their homes helps them find serenity. 

These people have opened up to change and have looked forward to a future with no clutter, a deeper appreciation for their possessions, and an energetic space for all the better things to come. They found the silver lining of a catastrophe.

Some Clutter Truths

Some Clutter Truths

How Would That Look Like?

Imagine a beautiful store window. But then you can’t focus on any particular item in it.

Think of a beautiful model home. 

Then clutter covers countertops, cabinets are packed to the brim, and boxes are everywhere.

Visualize a hotel room with a closet full of empty wire hangers, every inch of the walls has some artwork or painting, blankets (with prints of all colors and different types) on the bed, and bathroom cabinets full of toiletries to last for three months (with daily use).

What if The Container Store showroom was full of mismatched hangers, many pieces of clothing on top of each other, and store supplies boxes under the clothes?

Clutter Truths

The above scenarios convey the following truths about clutter:

  • We can’t organize clutter
    • We can’t organize clutter
    • A cluttered place will never look elegant, inviting, organized, or appealing
    • Clutter will ruin the beauty of any space
    • Less is more when it comes to elegance
    • Clear space is to a home what a wide, white mat is to a work of art – It highlights the beauty of its surroundings

Why Can’t We Let Go

We often struggle to let go of things we no longer need or want. This difficulty might come from fear of not having something when required (if we ever need it). But often, we don’t know what we own and continue buying more of the same.

Other times, we think discarding some expensive item is throwing money away. But the money was spent when buying that thing, not when tossing it—keeping costly things we no longer want will not return the money. And frequently, keeping those things costs us more money than letting those items go.

In the meantime, the fear of letting go holds us hostage to a cluttered environment – a home in disarray and chaos. Whether we notice it or not, our life energy gets sucked into a tornado of clutter. And the cluttered space prevents us from enjoying the things we do keep. When everything seems unique, then nothing is.

I invite you to take the plunge and free yourself of useless possessions. Re-evaluate your relationship with things. The less we own, the easier it is to keep up with what we have, and the more we start appreciating everything – material possessions or otherwise.

I can partner with you on this journey! Let’s talk.

That Buzz In Your Head

That Buzz In Your Head

Could that buzz in your head be clutter chatter?

Cheap Thoughts and Stuff

Making that noise disappear requires a commitment to living a simpler life with fewer (higher quality) things instead of hoarding cheap, unnecessary stuff.

Refrain from fooling yourself into thinking that you save money when you find something at a low cost and buy more than you need. You spend money when you buy stuff, not when you get rid of it.

When you buy cheap stuff by volume and refuse to discard or donate what you don’t need, you continually waste money and reject better possibilities in your life.

We All Know This Person

Here’s an example. Consider someone who finds no money to have some home repairs done but has bought all gadgets sold by infomercials between midnight and 5 am for the past year.

This person now has every possible iteration of cat litter boxes, 18 different lines of weight loss products and programs (because nothing works), seven different mops, laptop gadgets, several high-end electronic toys, four Roomba vacuum cleaners, and three other systems of oil diffusers, to name a few.

If added on a whole year, the amount spent on all those things could be enough to tackle significant repairs or upgrades in the home and buy the top-quality items in every category they genuinely need.

Yet, they continually spend their money on useless things (on sale), continue living in a house that is falling apart due to lack of maintenance, and continue hoarding cheap, low-quality versions of items they might or might not need. Does that make sense?

And remember that the more you have, the more you need to keep up with, more to clean, more to store, more effort to find what you are looking for, and so on.

Ah, let’s remember the cost of storage. You pay for every square inch of your home, which should be living space, not storage space. And what is the monthly fee for a storage unit? Do not even go there! Why do this to yourself and your family?

Turn Those Feelings Around

It seems very hard for people to let go of useless things accumulated in this manner. They might need to shift their emotions around stuff and money if they wish to break this spending cycle and upgrade the quality of their life.

Shifting how they feel about money and themselves would be a fundamental change if they aspire to live a simpler, stylish life that makes them proud.

Please understand that an elevated lifestyle has less to do with your financial situation or the size of your home. Instead, it is about your mindset, priorities, how deserving you feel to receive the best of life, and where you direct your attention to and your intention from now on.