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That Defining Moment

That Defining Moment

That moment when you re-enter your home from a day out defines how organized your home will be and how organized it will remain (or not). That is the defining moment.

From groceries and mail to a briefcase or your children’s school and sports gear, chances are you are carrying things into your home each time you come back from a day of errands, work, or a trip. 

So, what do you do at that moment? Do you put things down, or do you put things away?

There is a big difference between putting things down and putting things away. If you needed to put everything away in your home right now, could you? 

The answer depends on whether everything in your house has a specific place to belong. Everything in your home should have a single, designated, permanent space where that item or category lives. Recognizing and following this principle may make daily life easier and more efficient.

You find everything easily when items have a permanent, specific storage place. It also facilitates putting things away since objects have a known space where they should go.

But if anything can go anywhere in your house, everything will go everywhere. So, day after day, this way of going about your environment will yield undesirable results.

When you “put things down for later” instead of taking the time to put things away, several things happen:

  1. “Later” never seems to arrive (it is not an actual date on the calendar!). Every day’s residue accumulates all over the house day after day.
  2. Your home becomes cluttered because clutter invites more clutter. It’s a vicious cycle.
  3. You can’t find what you need when you need it since nothing is where it belongs.
  4. Looking for things, you waste lots of time. Also, you spend money buying replacements for items you have but can’t find.

Then, one random Saturday morning, when the sun is shining and you feel great, you decide to clean up your place. You spend hours sorting through the clutter and finally putting things away. 

When finished, your home is manageable again, but you’ve spent the whole day cleaning up instead of being outside, enjoying the possibilities that await you. 

You are tired, sore, and frustrated. Yet, ironically, you conclude that being organized is a drag that intrudes on your life, preventing you from living your life. 

As a result, you put off “organizing” or “cleaning up” again for as long as possible. The senseless circle of events repeats itself.

What if you took a moment or two to put everything away (as in “where everything should permanently go’) instead of “putting things down until later” every time you come home? Your home would remain organized. 

If your home remains organized, there is no need to spend an entire day organizing later. Yes, it takes a few minutes every day, and it might take some time to make the practice a habit, but it pays off significantly. 

Besides, spending a few minutes daily to keep our environment organized is more manageable and less time-consuming than spending hours cleaning up or trying to find what we need.

The next time you enter through that door carrying all that “stuff,” think about it – It is a defining moment.

What You Give When You Give A Gift

What You Give When You Give A Gift

The holiday season is usually the time of the year when we give and receive the most gifts.

This gifting situation can become overwhelming, not only the buying process but also the receiving. 

Among the top reasons people find it hard to get organized is their guilt about letting go of unwanted gifts received.  

Have you ever thought about what you give when you offer a gift?

More Than A Gift

When you give someone a gift, you might do it with the best intentions, out of a perceived obligation, or without a specific reason. 

Regardless of the reason, you give that person responsibilities that might be more than the person wants or can handle. 

Has this ever crossed your mind?

When you give a gift, you are passing the responsibility of another possession they did not necessarily choose for themselves. 

They will be responsible for finding this item space in their home, storing it, cleaning it, and maintaining it. 

Unwanted Gifts

An unwanted gift exerts negative pressure subconsciously on the gift receiver. The mind recognizes the item’s presence and why such an item remains hidden or unused.

If someone receives a gift from a person they dislike or the item brings sad memories, that gift brings compounded negative energy.

No Strings Attached

Offering a gift should be without strings or obligation from the recipient. Whether it is to display, use, store, regift, donate, recycle, or trash the item, the outcome of the present should not become a reflection of the relationship between the giver and the receiver.

When you feel slighted if you don’t see the beautiful crystal vase that you gave to your niece in her home, or if you’re hanging on to the pink fuzzy throw blanket from your sister because you don’t want to hurt her feelings, then the gift is no longer a gift, but an emotional burden. 

Appreciate The Act of Giving Instead

Both parties should recognize that the gift recipient and the gift giver appreciate the gesture. But the best gift we can offer one another is the freedom from becoming a hostage to an unwanted gift.

It is only human to feel hurt when others do not fully appreciate our gifts. But if we genuinely care for the person receiving our gift, the last thing we should want is to burden that person with an additional problem or guilty feelings that will haunt them.

Let’s be mindful of the gift-giving process and less sensitive about the gift’s destiny. Then, when we finally understand this concept, let the gift recipient know how we feel about the whole process.

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.

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.

The Universe Conspires And The Energy Follows

The Universe Conspires And The Energy Follows

The Universe Conspires

Paulo Coelho, the author of “The Alchemist,” said, “And when you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it.”

This quote makes me think of a blog I wrote some time ago, highlighting the importance of summoning your strength and will and using your head when your heart won’t take you where you ought to be. And when you do that, the universe responds accordingly by boosting your journey.

The Energy Follows

Some weeks ago, a dear friend wrote to me recounting her story, reminding me of the words from Paulo Coelho and my blog.

Thinking about her journey, I saw that some instances are more challenging than others. However, no matter the circumstances, when we put our attention and intention towards a goal, the energy around us will carry us forward.

When emotions prevent us from acting, we must do whatever it takes to bypass those emotions and raise our energy. Soon, that energy will change your feelings. In time, it will feel easier to achieve your goal.

A Story of Hope

Here is the story of my dear friend and her emotional journey following one of the most challenging times of her life:

After my marriage ended, the kids and I returned to our previous home in the Fall of 2017 after Hurricane María. We came to a sad, dark, beaten, dirty house without running water or power. Even remembering this makes me so emotional.

Right after we moved back, as sad, dark, and dirty as the house was, I knew I had to face this move with grace, determination, efficiency, and elegance, or the situation would defeat me.

So, I started cleaning, decluttering, and organizing right away. And then something fantastic happened! Plants welcomed me with palpable excitement, birds would come to watch me rebuild our life here, and orchids suddenly bloomed. I felt like Snow White!

I had stimulated the home’s energy, and it came to my rescue. I felt at peace. Only the home office remained to tackle. But one day, I just felt exhausted. So, I shut the door to the home office to avoid dealing with that room for a while.

This room quickly became chaotic because I had momentarily abandoned my systematic decluttering and organizing efforts. And maybe because this room was already messy, the movers continued piling random things and unopened boxes in that room whenever something else came home from the last house.

As time passed, I recognized why this home office was a pause point for me. It carried a heavy emotional burden for all that it represented:

  • a broken business partnership
  • the place where we envisioned so many family plans
  • pictures and memories of a once happy couple
  • past team effort toward my professional goals
  • a smaller space where I needed to start all over again now
  • physical and emotional clutter I needed to let go of to move forward

It was a lot, and I had placed all these emotions in that room. So, finally, I had to pause and decided to shut the door.

Although that room still needs attention, my feelings have now changed. At this moment, I feel the strength to open that door and face it all. Even more, this change in feelings has a lot to do with the fresh energy brought by the much-needed pause I gave myself. I recharged my emotional battery by keeping the house organized and clutter-free.

Maristella, your blog validates my path on this journey. Along the way, reading your blog, that connection between clutter and emotions you write about dawned on me. I saw how the states my home had been through correlated with my path to emotional healing!

Your blogs are very helpful, even for those of us who have already experienced what you preach. The life principles you promote through your business are a vital ministry that enhances the lives of others, helping us heal and live with greater peace and well-being.

So, please send me your best wishes and energies to engage in this final effort – I promise to send you pictures of the room once I finish!

You’ve Got This!

When you direct your attention, intention, and best effort toward those big goals in your life, the universe conspires in your favor. It whispers: “You’ve got this! I’ve got your back.”. Don’t doubt it!