Clutter in Your Life

Piled high in clutter!

Piled high in clutter!

In the book of 2 Chronicles chapter 34, some pretty amazing events was happening.  Josiah, who became king at the age of eight, came from the the lineage of David.  A lot had changed in the land since King Solomon reigned. Evil and wickedness had come upon the land.  Eight years into his reign, King Josiah began purging his kingdom of all things ungodly.  He had a clean sweep of the idols.  Ten years into this effort, the king decided to make some repairs to the temple.  His men were sorting thru things in the rubble and came across the Book of the Law of the Lord.  They had found the very scrolls of Moses.  What a find!

 If you were to tackle your basement, garage or  off-site storage area, what you find?  Do you even remember what is in there? If you haven’t missed it in a few years, chances are you can do without and purge it.    And how are you honoring what is stuffed in this space? If it is important enough to keep, then you should have it properly stored. You don’t want to discover that it is moldy and not worth anything to anyone.

God wants you to live life to the fullest.  One way is to remove the clutter in your life of things that are hindering you.  People hide behind their stuff and try to convince themselves that it doesn’t bother them rather than face the reality of the situation.

But you never know what you might find; a missing piece of jewelry; your cherished record albums of old;  family photos? Who knows?  Some of what you purge may be trash if it has no life left in it. If it is usable but you no longer use it, bless others with it.  It is a win win situation.  You have more freedom to move about your space and the person blessed has something they can use at an affordable price; perhaps even free. That would be a real find for them!

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Disadvantages of Disorganization

Overwhelmed

Overwhelmed

A big disadvantage of disorganization is that it disrupts even destroys relationships.  Clutter can isolate us from building and sustaining meaningful relationships.  Instead of building a safe haven, clutter builds walls of isolation.

Let’s examine what we love.  That will tell us a lot about our possessions and how tightly we hold on to the things that end up cluttering our lives. What do you treasure?  Think about it. What do you really love about yourself, your clothes, your house, and your belongings? What does what you treasure say about you? How you spend your money greatly determines your priorities.  What expenditures have you made recently? What condition are your treasures in? How do you honor and respect them?

Keeping everything and not honoring our possessions undermines the value of that object.  We tend to take things for granted.  The more you have, the less you appreciate what you have.  All of our stuff has a cost.  First when you purchase it and then when you store it and maintain it.   And that cost can be even greater!

What is in order for people is to change their mindset.  That is the key component to maintaining organization.  What we perceive to be true we believe to be true.  If you perceive that things will bring you happiness, then you believe that that one item will bring you happiness.  The problem is, that is short lived.  Happiness has to do with your immediate experience – instant gratification.  This is why consumerism doesn’t work.  Clutter robs all life out of a room and from those who occupy it. When we are constantly living in a space full of stuff, it robs the joy from our lives.  A positive outlook helps us let go of the many things that have kept us trapped without a sense of personal loss.

Simplifying your life is what organization is all about. Organization restores balance, meaning and a feeling of being connected, the walls are broken down.  This connection is important.  When we feel connected, we feel more secure and we won’t be so apt to fill our lives with things.

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Guiding kids to be Organized

Point you kids in the right direction – when they’re old they won’t get lost.  (The Message Pro. 22:6)

playroomMany times, parents will make the argument that our kids are too busy to keep their room clean and care for their possessions and clothes.  Who is allowing the child to be too busy?  Or are you, the parent too busy to keep track of how your children are spending their time?

I have walked into rooms where every garment and every toy was tossed on every surface in the room. How did such chaos develop?  In talking with parents, I learned that some didn’t really care. Others expected their kids to know what to do, how to fold clothes and arrange them in a drawer, and to keep all the pieces to games and puzzles together in the box.  Still others were too exhausted to deal with a defiant child who refused to do as they are told.

Having raised two active boys, worked, volunteered and ran a household, I know about being busy.  My solution was to simplify life in ways that I could control. Here are a few things that worked for us.  First, I limited their time with electronic games and TV.  I limited the amount of activities they could be involved with like boy scouts and youth group; or a sport and a school club.  I limited how many games and toys they could have.  If we couldn’t store it in the playroom, they had to give up something or go without.  It wasn’t hard to give up things because they quickly outgrew play things.  We would sell them at yard sales, pass them along to others or donate them to places where people couldn’t afford small luxuries. We installed shelving in their rooms so they could display items that were special to them like trophies and awards or model airplanes they worked hard on. We also gave each one a pet to teach responsibility for caring for others.

Simplifying your household, controlling your time and activities, teaching young ones to respect their things and also borrowed things are steps you can take to guide your children to be organized. Don’t wait until there is a high level of chaos to begin.  Start today. Guide your kids to be organized by taking one small step at a time to achieve your goals.

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Organization is Relative

A cluttered desk is a cluttered mind.

A cluttered space is a cluttered mind.

Folks tell me in casual conversation that they are a disorganized person and there is no help for them.  I respond by telling them that organization is relative.  Then I get a puzzled look.  What I mean by organization being relative is what level of disorganization bothers you.  For my husband,  a few papers lying on a table for more than 24 hours annoy him.  Peace in our household is kept by trying to process the paperwork in a timely fashion. That includes mail, handouts and personal notes.   Several times I talk to people who are perfectly content living amidst clutter.  They take it in stride and don’t have an issue with it.  If it doesn’t create disharmony in the household; if it doesn’t create a safety concern, that is reasonable. Hence, organization is relative to the individual.

Where disorganization comes into play is when it does create havoc in the household or when you are not happy living in that environment or it is a safety hazard.  You feel unmotivated, drained, and even hopeless. You can’t find the energy to do anything about it.  I have heard many times, “I’m useless.  I’m not okay with it but it is just the way it is and it will never change.”  If it really bothers you; if it is does affect your lifestyle; if you are embarrassed to invite friends/family over, then you need to do something about it.

So what are your options?  One, you can tackle the problem yourself.  To do this, you need to keep on task and stay motivated.  For some, this is too much to ask.  Bad habits are hard to break.  Doing the same thing over and over ends with the same results. Your room may stay tidy for a short time but the clutter will creep back in without personal lifestyle changes. Another option is to hire a Professional Organizer like me, for instance.  A Professional Organizer can look objectively at the problem and develop a solution quickly.  But more, they can guide you into making better choices.  They are your accountability partner. And yet another option is a Virtual Organizer.  A Virtual Organizer like me, for instance, can guide you through the process from a distance, virtually.  With the new technology available that is user-friendly, it is a simple, cost-effective way of organizing.  A Virtual Organizer does everything a Professional Organizer does without actually being in the room with you.

To learn more about Virtual Organizing or about services available through Transforming Spaces, click on the Contact page, complete the form and click send.  This could be the first baby step you need to do to discover the organized space you have always desired.

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Getting Your Household Organized

Household organizingA moms’ job isn’t easy. It is more than changing diapers, cleaning bottles, and carpooling kids.  It is training, guiding, reassuring your child, and loving them unconditionally.  You may have read in Proverbs 22:6, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”  (NIV) Or possibly, “The speed of the leader is the speed of the gang.”  Every step of the way, we teach our children about trust, peace, love, joy, faithfulness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. We do this by setting the example in the household.

When it comes to organizing, parents and in particular, moms, have this responsibility. If we care for our belongings and teach our child to do the same, they will learn to respect and appreciate what they have. We can train them to pick up their toys, clothes, straighten up their beds, put away what they got out to use.  Yes, it takes discipline on our part to make the extra effort to set the example.  It also takes patience because the child may not do it exactly as we would like it to be.  If you are looking for perfection, don’t.  None of us are perfect.  We may need to lower our expectations, at times.

We should also examine our personal habits that inhibit our being organized. Are we one looking for instant gratification?  Do we watch the Home Shopping channel and QVC network?  We need to practice self-control so that our children will understand that one doesn’t just “write a check” as my toddler used to say. I could write a check but one, the money wasn’t necessarily there, and two, it wasn’t something that was needed in our household.

If getting your household organized has gotten out of control, begin by having a loving talk with the family telling them that there needs to be a change. Start small and build from there.  Reward your child with something they enjoy like reading an extra book before bed time or credits that go toward a special treat at the end of the week. Older children can take on more responsibility. Hold back some privileges for awhile such as the smart phone until they understand you are taking this seriously. Finally, stick with the program.  Like I said, a mom’s job isn’t easy.

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Clutter vs Organization

ClutterI am currently working on a project with a woman who has 2 teenage children, is working a fulltime and a parttime job, is very active in her church,  attends her children’s extra-curricular activities and tries  to run a household. I’m exhausted just writing that list.  Life is hectic for her.  Can you relate?

When life is coming at you from different directions and you feel you are losing the battle with your office or residence, your papers or stuff, your worry and anxiety levels increase.  The clutter issues, the messy car, the laundry piles didn’t happen overnight.  It won’t disappear with one afternoon of organizing either.

This person’s home may not be as decluttered as mine but that is not the point of organization.   The point of organization is finding something quickly when you need it.  It’s keeping the space clear of clutter so you can enjoy it and use it for its intended purpose.

Pick your battles.  What bothers you the most with your disorganization? You can choose to tackle the largest project and the others will seem like small potatoes.  Or, you can choose a simpler project that might take a few hours and know you have accomplished something quickly to reach your goal. When you realize you can’t live in chaos any longer and it is affecting your lifestyle, it is time for a change. A change of mindset.  A change of routine. A change for the better.  It is a transformation to a better life for you.

 

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Paper Management Help

Paper ClutterIf you are one of those who can’t seem to get papers into a file, don’t panic because you need to get your papers in order for tax purposes. Here’s a simple system to handle paper clutter this year and to continue for many more. This system is suited for owners who travel to business appointments in their vehicles.

Everyone thinks differently about handling paper.  Ask yourself what you dislike most about paper management.  Is it the filing?  Is it the difficulty of deciding what to label the file? Is it a time issue? Are you overwhelmed with the volume of papers you need to handle?  Do you find receipts on your dashboard, in your pants pockets after they have been laundered, or stuff in your wallet?  Determine what the blockage is before you proceed.

Place a container that you can close in your vehicle to place all your invoices and receipts.  Your papers won’t get dropped on the floor, fly out the window or get drenched from the soda you accidentally spilled. To be even more organized and save you more time, carry an expandable file. This way you can slip the piece of paper right into the proper slot immediately.  Label them, gas, postage, supplies, etc., (in alphabetical order, of course). This list should match the Schedule C, 1099 MISC IRS form.  That really simplifies what paper goes under each category.

When you arrive back at your office/home office, simply enter the information into your spreadsheet, QuickBooks or whatever software you are using. Depending on your volume of papers, you may want to transfer the papers to larger files in your file cabinet with the identical labels. Then there is no confusion. If you are not a detailed person or very busy, seriously consider hiring a bookkeeper.  Pass along all your receipts to your bookkeeper once a week to accurately enter into your files and ledger. Outsourcing or delegating tasks that consume your time helps increase your productivity.

Not all your records will be hard copy.  Some will be electronic.  I purchase my copier ink cartridges online, for example, and receive a receipt in my email. I print out a copy because that is my preference.  I also save the file in a folder labeled “receipts” so I can easily retrieve it.

Remember to keep good records of your mileage. Some people can deduct the expenses of an in-home office.  Follow the IRS guidelines carefully. Every little bit helps to reduce your tax burden. At the end of the year, all your documentation is together. Your amounts are entered and preparing your taxes is simplified.

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The Blessings of Organizing

ORGANIZING FOR LOVE

loveFebruary is sweetheart’s month.  It is a time to tell your loved one how much they mean to you.  You do special things to warm their heart.  I had a client, a husband, who loved his wife so much that it pained him to see her in such despair because their home was overwhelmed with clutter.

His desire was to give his wife a gift of organizing their home. He wanted to support his wife by providing a way for her to get organized.  She had been an organized person in the past but as often happens, life sometimes gives us more than we can keep up with and she fell behind.  She supported him by raising four boys, two with special needs.  She worked part time outside the home to bring in extra income. She did all the daily work of running a household and she was exhausted.

In three days over Spring break, we de-cluttered and organized four areas of their home, the master bedroom, dining room, living room and family room.  Their teenage boy got so into the energy of the work that he voluntarily organized and cleaned his bedroom. When I returned the second day to begin another room, they showed be all they had accomplished after I left the first day.  Smiles were on everyone’s face.  Enthusiasm was in great supply. Joy filled the room. The family dynamics had changed.  Now, their home was a place for family bonding, rest and relaxation.

Another benefit was that less than a year later, they unexpectedly moved.  The house was ready to be put on the market.  They had tackled the big job of de-cluttering.  A buyer could see the walls and the floors.  They could imagine themselves living in the space instead of attempting to look beyond the piles of clothing and toys and boxes.

Give your loved one the gift of organization.  It’s freeing, stress-reducing and truly appreciated.  As the commercial says, “It’s priceless!”

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ECO ORGANIZING

organized man's closetFor years I have been educating my clients about REuse, REpurpose, REmove, REcycle, REdistribute and REfuse.  I have referred to it as REsponsible REdistribution keeping useable items out of our landfills and water.  This way of thinking or RE-thinking is now identified as ECO ORGANIZING.  It is a growing trend around the globe. 

Transforming Spaces transforms your space into a room that reflects your lifestyle and your personality.  In the process of organizing, I encourage you to REthink the way you look at an object.  Let’s use a bedroom closet as an example.  We begin sorting through items determining what you will keep and what you will REmove from the closet.  Clothes and shoes are easier because they become worn, outdated, no longer fit.  But what about the 50 -100 wire coat hangers.  They can be REused.  Call a local dry cleaner who will accept them.  Move on to purses, hats and specialty items such as uniforms and costumes.  Donate them to a local community theater company and get a deduction.

REthink the way you look at an item.  Don’t assume it has no value. Old cotton T-shirts make excellent rags. Worn out, stained towels can go to the local humane society.  The REsources are endless.  On the REsource page of Transforming Spaces is a list of websites to REcycle various articles. www.transformingspacesva.com/resources. Check with your local REcycling center to see what they accept.  You will encounter REfuse.  Trash is trash so dispose of it properly.

Finally, when you purchase something, REthink why.  What purpose does it have? Where will you store it? When will you use/wear it? Beware of impulse purchases.  Go shopping with a list and a purpose.  If impulsive shopping is an issue for you, take along an accountability partner to give you sound suggestions and make your experience more enjoyable.

Make a commitment this new year to be more ECO Friendly in your organizing.

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TIMING IS EVERYTHING

time managment, organizingWhat is your focus this Christmas season?  There is so much to be done and so little time to do it. To prepare means “to get ready for some activity, purpose or use.” It also can imply “to get you ready for something that is going to happen.”  Another meaning is “to create something that is ready for use.”¹ Timing is everything.

With so much happening, a time table is important.  When are you going to do your baking (if you bake) and how much are you going to bake?  Oh yeah, that means creating a shopping list to make sure the ingredients are in the cupboard. When are you going to finish gift shopping and wrap all the presents?   Did I mention decorating? Many people I know spend Thanksgiving weekend putting up lights and setting up the tree. Others wait until Christmas Eve as a tradition to decorate.Do you need to recruit help?

What have I forgotten?  Festivities, they are very much a part of the season.  If you are having people over, do you need help to organize and clean the rooms? Do you need to update your attire? When you work fulltime, this is all a lot to accomplish. 

Do what you are capable of doing without wearing yourself out where you might miss the joy this time of year.  Make a short list of things you really want to accomplish, attend or create. For me, I do little baking as I am watching my waistline (shrink, hopefully). I attend a few annual local events and I am involved with several faith related events. The key is preparation. 

                                Let every heart prepare HIM room.



1 Merriam Webster Dictionary, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prepare 

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