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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?

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 home.
  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.

But planning, organizing, and managing require engaging the brain’s executive function. And 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 lacking skills and time. We defer the making of products and provision of services we need to groups or individuals that are experts at what they do because engaging our time in or learning all the skills needed 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. In general, it is just not an efficient use of their time to make their whole wardrobe from scratch. So even they 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! This 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. So, if we can’t do that, something is wrong with us. Furthermore, if those skills are a given, 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 easier life can be! You might be surprised. Your only regret might be not making that decision sooner.

 

All That Packaging!

All That Packaging!

What the deal with all that packaging! Medicines and supplements come with an extraordinary amount of packaging that they no longer need once those items get home. Remove all that at once and make the product part of your home.

Medicines and supplements are usually found all over the home. New bottles, half-empty bottles, expired products, OTC stuff… Medicines and supplements take a lot of space in our home. It is hard to account for the meds and supplements on hand and even harder to track them for expiration and re-ordering.

Here are a couple of suggestions about the medicines and supplements we take and keep at home. Specifically, how to make more space when storing them and how to better track your supply and reordering process.

Simplify

Whether you get your medicines and supplements by mail or you pick them up at the store, you probably have an excess of bottles and extra packaging complicating your space.  

Many medicines and supplements come with excess packaging. It is unthinkable having to go through it every single day to get your medicines. 

Thus, it makes sense to strip your medicines and supplements from all unnecessary packaging as soon as they enter your home.  Better be done with that at once!

Consolidate

Most supplements and medication bottles come half empty. How about consolidating all that product? Do so when the product is the same type, with a similar expiration date.

I have consistently decreased the number of bottles I get by half, by consolidating their contents. The amount of unnecessary packaging I remove is considerable.  I gain amazing space in my cabinets just by doing this. 

Allocate

Store ingestible medicine and supplements in a single place in your home, preferably in the kitchen.

The bathroom is a suitable space for therapeutic and medicinal products that are not ingested. These are products we apply to the skin, hair, nose, mouth, and teeth (both OTC and prescribed). This group includes items contained in a first aid kit, for example.

Having these two distinct categories of medication properly allocated and stored allows you to better track the product on hand. This also facilitates the management of prescription reorders with the pharmacy.

Finally…

It boils down to how diligent can you be at managing packages that enter your home and what you do with them, medication or otherwise.

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 your will and using your head when your heart won’t just 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 very dear friend of mine wrote to me recounting her story, which reminded me of the words from Paulo Coelho and my own blog.

Thinking about her journey, I saw that some instances are more challenging than others, but that 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 Little 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 Fall 2017, right 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 abandoned my systematic decluttering and organizing efforts for a moment. 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, I know 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 maintaining the rest of the house organized and clutter-free.

Maristella, I want you to know that your blog validates my path on this journey. Somehow 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 that 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 wellbeing.

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!

What Happens After Grocery Shopping?

What Happens After Grocery Shopping?

What happens after you come home from grocery shopping? Do you place plastic bags in the fridge to avoid dealing with the groceries? You might find the lightbulbs and toilet paper you bought inside the fridge tomorrow morning.

I confess I don’t particularly appreciate going to the grocery store. And it is not necessarily the process of buying the stuff. Instead, what follows gets me – when all that stuff comes home. 

It takes me a lot longer to organize what I bring from the store than the errand. Yet, I manage the groceries every single time. An hour devoted to the process pays off in many ways during the week. It helps me save time while cooking, allows me to plan varied, healthy meals, looks delicious and inviting (so family members get interested in healthy cooking), and makes it joyful to cook when everything is organized, fresh, clean,, and accessible. 

Don’t you go insane when you hear the dreaded daily question: “What’s for dinner?” (at least admit you roll your eyes).

What if I told you that the horrendous hour after grocery shopping might be essential to spare you the feeling you get when you hear that question?

Here are eight steps to help you stay on top of your game.

1. Plan your menus for each day of the week

Schedule an hour to plan your menus for the entire week. Make this a commitment and calendar this hour on the same day, at the same time every week. Make the list of ingredients for each dish with specific quantities, according to the amount you plan to prepare. Having the particular amounts you need helps you save money by not overbuying and not wasting products.

 Planning your weekly menus can be a breeze if you follow the process described in my blog Systems Take Organizing To The Next Level to organize the kitchen cabinet. 

Pull out those index cards and mix and match your dishes to get complete meals. All the information you need to prepare your grocery list will be there. Leave those index cards out, group them by meal and date of the week, and you’ll be ready to go when you start cooking. 

2Calendar your shopping trip 

Plan your grocery shopping for the same day each week. If this is part of your routine, it will become a habit. As part of your grocery shopping process, block in your calendar the time needed to deal with the stuff when you bring the groceries home. 

3. Invest in the proper containers for your freezer and your refrigerator

Select containers that are similar in size and shape, so they stack nicely in the fridge and freezer. Avoid round containers because they don’t use the space efficiently. Stay with a line that serves both the refrigerator and freezer, so you only buy one type of container. Select a microwave-safe system, dishwasher safe, and BPA-free line of containers. I love the TellFresh line from The Container Store.

4. Wash and prepare your produce

Remove all packaging. Remove stems and other non-edible parts and cut up the fruits and vegetables. By washing and repacking in sealed containers, your produce will stay fresh for longer. Also, your fridge and pantry will look spectacular. Everything washed, cut, and ready to go will make meal prep straightforward and more pleasant. You’ll have your Mise en Place in a flash!  

Another great advantage of following this routine is having healthy snacks very accessible. When we are hungry, we eat what’s available. And if we have ready-made fruit packs or cut-up veggies available, we will probably make healthier snack choices.

5. Remove most of the packing from your frozen products

You save a lot of space in the freezer and fridge when you remove your frozen items from the packaging and re-group them in designated freezer containers or use your freezer door compartments. Frozen fruits and vegetables in bags, for example, don’t stack well, and once we open the bags, the product doesn’t preserve their freshness the same way. 

6. Maximize the space and organization of your fridge by including bins

Typically, the fridge comes equipped with a couple of drawers to keep some items at slightly different temperatures. But you can add some bins to the refrigerator to create compartments and separate products by categories. Your fridge will look fantastic, and items will be easier to find. In addition, it will be easier to monitor what’s there, what we need to buy, and what has expired. Some fridges’ design allows the drawers to be substituted with some bins to create even more space.

7. Label!

Don’t skip the labeling part. To maintain the freshness of your fridge and freezer products, you need to know their expiration date. I know labels can be problematic, and the process could be tedious. Labels in the freezer and fridge need to change quite often. Pick a flexible label system such as Label Once labels! Write on them with any sharpie or marker and erase with any eraser. These labels stay on the containers, even if you put them in the microwave or the dishwasher. It is simple to label and relabel with this product.

8. Treat your pantry with the same respect and care 

Use transparent or translucent air-tight containers for dry goods such as flour, sugar, rice, pasta, dry beans, chips, cookies, crackers, and cereal. This way, products stay fresh longer, and you’ll know how much product is left. These containers stack well and give your pantry that polished look we all want. Bags and opened boxes do not look appealing and do not stack well, they can spill, and the product inside can easily get contaminated.  

For all other products that don’t need decanting to containers, use baskets or bins to create product categories and separate food groups. 

Have a condiment system, whether a section inside the pantry or a designated cabinet next to the stove. Another alternative for condiments is to use the Elfa Spice Rack. This tool makes excellent use of the much-neglected vertical space of the pantry door.

An organized kitchen reduces food waste and promotes cleanliness, joyful cooking, and a healthier lifestyle. Get in the habit of managing your groceries after going to the store and see your productivity, efficiency, and joy in the kitchen exponentially grow. 

What’s for dinner?

Systems Take Organizing To The Next Level

Systems Take Organizing To The Next Level

The ability to notice details and the willingness to creatively tweak little things are crucial to achieving the perfect space in a project. Organizing takes skill, patience, strategy, time, and attention to detail. Those are a Professional Organizer’s tools of the trade. However, Organizers are exceptional at developing systems that take organizing to its next level. Systems usually increase clients’ efficiency in utilizing their space.

Consider the kitchen cabinet and notice all details involved in the process resulting in an organized, functional space. However, organizing this cabinet also resulted in two efficient systems.

MySpaceReclaimedPix 47 - Systems Take Organizing To The Next Level

Systems Take Organizing To The Next Level

The Kitchen Cabinet Situation

  • this cabinet had lots of cookbooks and recipe binders
  • it also had a myriad of serving items
  • books stacked sideways because some did not fit the space
  • recipe clippings were sticking out of books and binders
  • nothing was labeled or had hand-written post-it notes

Also….

  • recipes were hard to remember, identify, or use
  • meals were boring, repetitive, and unhealthy
  • medicine and supplement bottles occupied the lower shelf of this cabinet
  • taking meds and supplements was inconsistent because of the sorting and opening of bottles required, and it was hard to remember who took what and when

The kitchen cabinet needed some tweaking to become a functional cabinet with valuable, organized content.

The Process

  • removed all cabinet contents
  • sorted through contents and removed what was no longer wanted or needed
  • adjusted shelves to fit even the tallest book
  • allocated specific areas for things that stay
  • created a recipe use and management system
    • recipes photocopied, cut, and pasted on 4″ X 6″ index cards
    • index cards classified by dish type and organized in index card boxes
    • recipe boxes labeled with the recipe categories it contains
    • system benefit: mixing/matching cards create a week’s worth of healthy, varied meals
  • created a supplement and med management system 
    • pills presorted in bags according to dosage/time of intake for each person
    • pill bags divided into baskets for each household member
    • system benefit: a streamlined process where everyone knows where, what, when, and how when getting their meds

The development of systems improves efficiency in the use of your space. Therefore, designing systems that increase productivity and make life easier is one of the most valuable benefits you can get from working with a Professional Organizer. 

If you want to experience some of “Organizing magic,” let’s talk! We’d love to hear about you and see how we can help.


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