Mindful Organization

Sparking Joy...for less stress and more positive energy

Have you ever stood in front of your closet and thought, “I have nothing to wear?” You are in good company if you answered yes. I have a theory about why this is so prevalent. And, I must thank Marie Kondo and Chriselle Lim for this epiphany and argument in favor of asking, “Does this spark joy?" Adding to that question, “If not, why not?”

Less-Stress Organizing Solutions Blog Spark Joy

This morning I was re-reading an article in Darling Magazine-Issue 7 written by Chriselle Lim. Her article, “Paper Doll” inspired a circuitous thought bubble as I contemplated my own challenges with curating my closet and outfits over the years. Chriselle notes a few key guidelines in her article. Her second key point, “Focus on your favorite object,” was meant to inspire the reader to begin building an outfit with a favorite item.

My ADHD brain went into overdrive considering the connection between the pitfalls of retail therapy and curating a closet of clothing we love to wear.

One possible reason many garments, shoes, and accessories don’t spark joy for some of us, is connected to our reason for making those purchases in the first place. Think about it. If you initially purchase something to soothe or validate yourself, is it possible you hesitate later to continue using that item, unknowingly, because it triggers negative feelings?!

I know this to be true for myself. I used to LOVE shopping! But my closet was filled with many garments that were just a little bit snug because I would only purchase clothes when I felt good about my body. Those clothes mocked me every time I saw them. And, I would no longer feel good about myself. I felt like I had almost nothing to wear in a sea of beautiful garments. Retail therapy as a reward system has its drawbacks, as I learned. At the end of the day, I still need clothing that is comfortable, fits well, and suits the body I have right now.

Purchasing something when I feel angry or sad is almost always regretted. Admittedly, retail therapy, feels good, but only in the moment. Later, I am reminded of the negative event and usually return my purchase unworn. If it cannot be returned or a small part of me really does like this item or finds it useful, I spend time reframing reasons for keeping it so that it brings me joy going forward. If I cannot find a positive spin, I give it away and consider this episode of retail therapy another difficult lesson learned.

If we are making purchases without considering the financial implications, even when we love something at the time of the purchase, it may become a negative reminder of an impulse that added to our financial woes. And, that is a good enough reason to reconsider the purchase and reinforces my theory that retail therapy doesn’t always bring the lasting joy we seek.

In my twenties, I LOVED earrings. Since, I wore scrubs to work every day, earrings were the only accessory I could wear that brought a little whimsy or personality to my outfitting. I treated myself to a new pair every month or so and enjoyed wearing each and every pair! My choices were mindful and deliberate, and their cost fit my budget. There was no negativity attached to them.

I don’t wear earrings as often any more. My style and taste has changed. So, letting go of most of my earring collection was really quite easy. It served me well for a long time and is now making someone else happy.

Perhaps, Marie Kondo really IS on to something when it comes to curating the contents of our homes from a place of joy. If we make mindful choices, choices that are needed, wanted, and/or bring us joy, then seeing and using what we bring and keep in our spaces will be more likely to foster less stress and more joyful living. And, that includes a curated closet that lifts us up.

I say, Amen to that!




Productivity...Finishing something is a very good place to start!

"I don't know where to start and I feel like I'm falling more and more behind!" These are words I hear frequently from prospective clients. I know the accompanying, unsettling feelings well. 

It's true confessions time! If you follow my blog, you know I haven't posted a new blog piece since February. If this isn't delayed decision making and fear of making a wrong move, I don't know what is. I am now a published author. So on the surface, one might think I have it all figured out. The truth is, authors struggle with the same things everyone else does every time we sit down to write. What better subject to tackle than delayed decision making?!

Today, I am choosing to follow my own sage advice. Choose something and FINISH IT!! 

When I don't know where to begin, I find something, one thing, any thing, and finish it. This may seem to contradict much of what you have been taught, and even some of what I have written in previous posts. It is not meant to replace other excellent advice. This is simply another strategy for getting unstuck and moving forward.

2017-12-26 at 13-58-24.jpg

Prioritization, planning, and scheduling are still important productivity tools. But, sometimes, there is so much begging our attention, we delay making any decision for fear of making the wrong decision. I am here to tell you, doing nothing is a decision.

What remains are unfinished tasks and what I have come to think of as loose threads both physically and mentally. Delayed decisions seem to multiply exponentially and add to our stress levels making planning and productivity even more challenging. 

In those moments when we have allowed delayed decision making and perfectionism to paralyze us, setting aside our fear of making the wrong decision is critical. But, getting into any sort of momentum requires taking a first step.

So I ask you this: What if you were to choose one simple task to finish? And, then you were to finish it. Just one task. It need not be the most important, but rather, just one task you are absolutely certain of completing. It could be as simple as clearing the kitchen counter or folding a load of laundry, or five minutes sorting the afternoon mail, or clearing your desk before writing an important email. But, in those next moments, you have completed a task and prepared yourself mentally for another task.

You have finished something. 

The next step is to repeat that simple first step until you feel a sense of calm and confidence. I promise calm and self-confidence are there if you will allow yourself to appreciate and value completion of even the smallest of tasks. 

Once you feel the momentum build, you are more prepared to prioritize and strategize asking these important questions: What is the best use of my time? What is critical or time sensitive? What adds the most value to my life and goals? And, then, finish something that answers those questions. Today I have done exactly that! I finished simple tasks at home and then headed to have my car serviced. I put myself into momentum and now here I sit blogging for the first time in months.

It feels good to finish something! Try it...you just might like it!!

Resolutions...a very good place to start

In the spirit of Chinese New Year and The Year of the Dog, I thought I would share my alphabet soup of practical organizing and productivity words to help build your lists. It's not too late to start visualizing and manifesting your goals for the next twelve months. 

Less-Stress Organizing Solutions_Foo Dog_ Hong Kong_1989.jpg

 

RE Assess Begin where you are. Take a look at what is and isn't working for you. Know what you want to feel in your home and work spaces. Real change begins with having a vision, and, remembering that vision.

RE Boot Check your computer and phone. Update settings and make sure that they suit you. Are your emails out of control? No time like the present to unsubscribe and delete, delete, delete!

RE Cycle Do you have a designated space for recyclable materials? Make it easy on yourself to follow through with this goal by taking a little time to set up a space in your kitchen, office, garage, or the side of your home to collect the items that can be repurposed. 

RE Define  Know the difference between a project and a task. Break down your goals into manageable pieces. Celebrate the completion of each task with a little mental "high five" rather than wait until the entire project is finished to acknowledge your accomplishment. 

RE Finance February is a good time to reevaluate your budget and commit to following it. Tax time is here. Gather what you need to complete your returns.

RE Enerergize Repainting your walls is a simple and inexpensive way to change how a room feels. Consider colors that enhance the feeling you want in each room and have fun with it. 

RE Group No budget for new furniture or decorations for spring? Edit your spaces by removing what you no longer need. Try rearranging what remains to make the room look fresh. Regroup favorite photos as a collage on the wall or group books by their jacket colors to add a focal point on a shelf.

RE Hash Do your files need revision? Do you have three files with similar names making it difficult to remember which one houses what you seek? Make a decision to simplify your labeling. While you're at it, purge old, irrelevant files, and shred anything with personal information.

RE Inforce New habits and resolutions need reminders. Reinforce your commitment by writing things down in your planners and calendars. Add visual reminders until what's new becomes habit. Use them and keep them easily accessible.

RE Juvenate Commit to self-care! Schedule regular time to restore your energy, to decompress, and, to find your calm center in ways that fit you. For me it's a manicure or a few hours at the beach. 

RE Kindle Is there a hobby or skill you want to pursue? Make time for something that makes your heart happy and to remember your creative self. Take photos, write in your journal, fit a puzzle, binge watch old classic black and white movies. Do YOU!  

RE Linquish Let go of what you no longer need, use, or love! Let having less to clean and take care of, lighten your load; and, at the same time help someone in need.

RE Move This is a good time of year to remove toxic items stored in your garage. Check your local waste removal companies to learn where to take old batteries, old paint and stains, and electronic waste. 

RE Number If you can finish something in two minutes or less, why wait?  For me, it takes longer to add some things to my list than it does to actually complete them. In the spirit of getting things done: keep it simple, know your priorities, and keep your main task list short. 

RE Organize Be sure to edit your belongings before organizing them. Purchase any containers, shelving, or organizing systems after you decide what to keep. It saves time and money in the long run.

RE Pair Are you having trouble finding a replacement for your favorite shoes or boots? Consider having the soles repaired by a cobbler. They'll be good as new for a fraction of the replacement cost.

RE Quest There are only 24 hours in a day. Be sure to utilize resources that are available, request help when necessary, and delegate tasks. Whether at home or work, many hands make small work!

RE aRange Keep items you reach for the most often where you can easily access them. This may require you to remove and rearrange the contents of your cabinets, shelves and closets. 

RE Sale Do you have a growing collection of gently used clothing? Take them to local consignment shop. Be sure to repair and launder items before reselling or donating.

RE Turn To quote Peter Walsh, "Don't put it down, put it away!" Return things after using them. You will save time over the long run and will thank yourself later when you can find it in its designated place.

RE Use I'm a big fan of reusing and repurposing common household belongings in new ways.  My favorite multipurpose rock star item is the mason jar. There are a million uses for them, they come in several sizes, and are inexpensive. 

RE View Don't let perfectionism hinder your path to what you want to accomplish. There are very few jobs that require perfection. Why not take a new view of your progress and let good enough be good enough?!

RE Wire Have you considered feng shui or space healing to bring clarity and energy to your home or office? I have recently explored these options in ma petit chateau and have found setting intentions, writing affirmations, and deliberately arranging my environment to have positive benefits. 

RE eXamine Schedule annual appointments including vision and dental screenings. Remove old, expired first aid and medications in your bathrooms and cabinets and replace what you still need and use on a regular basis.  

RE Ykjavik Iceland anyone?! It's not too early to put travel plans for summer vacation into motion. Begin with your destination, lodging, and transportation arrangements. 

RE ZZZ! Finally, I cannot stress enough the importance of adequate, restorative sleep. It sets the tone for your whole day, at least that has been my experience. A calm, uncluttered bedroom with no signs of work when you awaken is a good place to begin. Know your caffeine limitations. Has your promise to yourself to limit caffeine wavered? Add that to your resolutions. Finally, take a look at your bedtime routine. Does it need tweaking so that you feel relaxed enough to fall into a deep sleep?  

Happy New Year! May it be filled with less stress and more joy!

 

Closets...when it comes to getting dressed, less is more

Is your closet bulging with clothes that you no longer wear, clothes that you might wear given a different life, clothes that no longer fit, clothes that have seen better days, clothes that have lost their appeal or just bring a frown to your face? 

If you answered, "Yes," then I understand because I have been where you stand...just outside the closet door, dreading it even though it holds an abundance of beautiful things. Why? Because they are crowded by the other "stuff,"  the stuff that needs a new and grateful home. 

Spring is just around the corner and wouldn't it be nice to open the door to your closet and love what you see? How much time would you save having just what you need to get dressed quickly and in a style that suits you? Wouldn't it be refreshing to have room in your closet for that something new that makes your heart sing?! 

If you have been following me on Facebook, then you know I have been exploring  closet organization strategies. My reason for doing this was two-fold.

First of all, a personal closet review was long overdue. Second of all, several people have asked my thoughts regarding Marie Kondo's Konmari Method.

So, I began there, utilizing "The Magic Art of Tidying Up," by Marie Kondo. How convenient that she asks that you begin your "tidying up" journey by sorting and purging your clothing. 

I admit that I was tentative at first which only served to slow down the entire process. But, once I embraced her "pull-it-all-out-and-only-keep-what-sparks-joy" methodology, it worked. I honestly love everything in my closet, well almost everything. There are still a few pieces that I am holding in reserve.

That said, less is definitely better! But what to do with it all?!

My mother will tell you that she loves my style. But, she has to say that though 'cuz she's my mom. I LOVE styling others. As for myself,  I struggle a little bit unless I adhere to my must-have trifecta: Cut, Color, and Comfort.

Enter my second closet strategy: reading and studying the content in "The Curated Closet," by Anuschka Rees.  Such a useful book filled with beautiful visuals and practical ideas regarding building a wardrobe that reflects what you need for the life that you lead. 

closet organization

I spent an entire weekend reviewing my pared down closet, studying colors and shapes and patterns, thinking about where and how I spend my time, and remembering what I love about clothing. I know, I can hear you laughing or scolding now, wondering how you are going to find an entire weekend to devote to your clothing and closet overhaul. Sadly, or as luck would have it, I had a nasty virus and needed something to keep my cabin fever at bay.

As they say, when the student is ready, the teacher will come. I was a captive audience. 

So here is my take away from my weekend of closet review, reflection, and revision:

1. There is no shame in having nice things in your closet. After all, we cannot run around naked. Feeling good in your clothing allows you to get on with your day in a confident manner.

2. Less IS more. It takes less time to put outfits together when everything you own suits your style and your life. 

3. Play with outfitting and take notes and photos for later. Really! 

4. Keep a few go-to outfits ready for those times that you are rushing or are over-scheduled (who me?!). You will thank yourself later, trust me!

5. Sharing feels good. Let go of the garments that you no longer wear, need, or love while someone else can still benefit from them.

6. My three personal criteria for clothing must be met or I am throwing money away. If a garment is not comfortable, not a good cut for my body,  or not a color that I feel confident wearing, then I say, "No!" 

7. I am clear on what I like and on what I need , but am in no hurry to add to my wardrobe unless I LOVE it.

8. I have a good foundational, neutral wardrobe. Adding pops of color is where I will focus my efforts next! I see shades of red, raspberry, and greens in my future.

9. Strategic placement of my garments has streamlined the time it takes to choose an outfit. As I returned garments to my closet, I considered how and where I would be wearing them. Work clothes are together, clothing for outings are separate from what I wear when I do heavy organizing jobs. You get the idea.

10. Time spent planning and organizing saves you time in the long run!  

My advice to you as I close this chapter is this: Take time to review, reflect, and revise what you already have in your closet before adding anything new. Be honest with yourself and let go of what is just getting in your way. You may find that you already have what you need. If not, you will definitely have a clearer picture of what is missing to make getting dressed easier.

Cheers to finding less stress and more joy in your closet. 

Much love,

Jen

 

 

Minimalism...when all else fails, Kiss! Keep it simple, sweetheart!

One of the most interesting and relevant buzzwords of the day is "minimalism." And, it is frequently misunderstood, ill conceived, and too quickly dismissed.

The very thought of living with eight plates and four white shirts, for example, has absolutely no appeal to me; and, yet this is a choice that some people make and it suits them. I would not feel joyful, nor would it be practical for me to live so sparingly. Yet, it is just what some people need and want. And THAT is really at the heart of minimalism, choosing to live with what YOU truly need, want, and love.

And, if this is true, then minimalism is not a tick in the box or a "thing to do," but rather a lifestyle of "living with intention" that will evolve and grow to suit you personally.

In the spirit of minimalism, I offer a short list of guidelines for setting down a path of intentional living. 

 

 

Keep what you “love & need”

 

Integrate your “wants” based upon your  space, time, budget & priorities

 

Share, sell, or discard the remainder

 

Sort & organize your spaces & schedules

 

When the work of redefining your spaces and belongings is done, you are left with a sense of order, harmony, joy, and peacefulness. At least, that has been my experience. You are free to move on to the work of living and being truly present in the world. Beginning a more intentional life is just a kiss away.

Personal Organizer

 

Best regards as you ponder if this choice suits you!

Jennifer xox

 

Getting started...sifting through the stuff of your life gracefully and with kindness!

Sometimes, getting started can feel paralyzing, even for an organizer like myself.  I have honed my skills by implementing ideas, strategies, and systems, with an open mind toward paying attention to what is serving my family well, and what isn't. For me the keys are getting to the heart of what matters and then breaking them down into manageable pieces. 
 

As I move through my home, my schedule, my life, I keep a clear vision of a home and a life of love, joy, beauty, order, harmony and balance. Theses images and feeling are what I value. They influence how I make decisions regarding my environment and schedule.  The process of decluttering, repurposing, and reorganizing ultimately leads me to less stress and more joy.

Through this process, I juggle time, money, energy and changing needs, as anyone does. And, there are times that I feel overwhelmed just like anyone. I have heard it said that a confused mind says, "No!" I can certainly relate to that!

When too much stuff and too full a schedule are competing for our attentions, it is no wonder that we shut down and take detours that lead us further away from our intended goals. When I feel like this, I ask myself what is the one thing that  I can do or change that will make an immediate difference. And, then, I DO it! 

This shift in focus and positive action are often all I need to find the momentum and encouragement to keep going in the direction of what matters.   

One final thought as you begin to sort through the stuff of your life. Do so with self-compassion and the same kindness that you would show a friend, avoiding the harsh judgmental words that question "what took me so long to get here." The point is that you ARE starting. 

To borrow Dinah Maria Mulock Craik's beautiful words, 

"...But pouring them them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; 

certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, 

 keep what is worth keeping, 

and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away." 

Regrouping...what about the days that fall off the tracks?

We know the value of creating and following habits that keep all of our ducks in a row. My morning routine is usually streamline although to an outside observer might look like I am rushing around doing several unconnected tasks. I'm not. There is actually an order that makes sense for me.

The truth is, I am looking at the big picture as I let the dog outside, feed the cats, start a load of laundry, open the blinds, and put the kettle on to make tea. In the time it takes me to tend my pets and my home, my muscles have warmed up, I have shaken off the morning "sleepies" and I am ready to ask myself what is the best use of my day and ready to begin my plan, which by the way,  is written on the dry erase board on my refrigerator. These days are my Plan A days, and I feel on top of the world.

But what about those days that you over sleep or something unexpected happens that takes priority over everything else? We all have those days and it is okay to allow ourselves a moment of panic, anxiety or temper without judgement. It is also important to get back on the rails as quickly as possible. How this looks will depend upon what works for you.

Something I have found useful in my own life, is to take a look at my scheduled tasks for the day, the ones that are on a timeline. If there is something that can be moved to a later time, I will make those shifts to open up the morning to settle myself and do my soothing morning rituals. And, on those days that this is just not possible, then I move directly to the most important thing. Period!!

Those little things you do to start your day, will get fit in somewhere else. The dog will still adore you, the cats may leave a special present to announce their displeasure, and the laundry may pile up, but at the end of the day, no matter what happens next, you will know you did the most important thing. These end up being some of your highest value days, the ones that define your character, and allow you to practice creative problem solving.

Lastly, expect to have Plan B days.  I am a big believer in setting the bar high and believing in your dreams, so don 't misunderstand me when I say this. It does NOT mean that you are giving up, but rather that you are being flexible and kind to yourself. When we are tired, busy or over-fill our schedules for whatever reason be it the nature of our jobs or over enthusiastic scheduling, or are faced with an unforeseen emergency, there are little things we can do for ourselves ahead of time in anticipation of those inevitable, tightly scheduled days.

This will look different for each of us, so ask yourself, "What do I wish someone else would do for me?" And, then, do it. Do it for yourself. This may seem a strange suggestion, but if you have you ever set something out the night before because you had a few minutes and acted upon this good idea, you know what I am talking about. It could be as simple as counting out your vitamins the night before when you usually set them aside in the morning. Or clearing your desk and setting the mail by the front door with your car keys rather than wait til morning. Then when the phone rings, and you need to rally to Plan B, you will be ready. It is a little gift to yourself and who knows better what you need than YOU?!