“I’ll do it tomorrow” syndrome

 

We have all thought it and no doubt said it – “I’ll do it tomorrow”. Not a problem in the short term, but repeatedly putting off decisions about what to do with our possessions and the other items that arrive in our homes every day can lead to a long-term problem: stress caused by overwhelming clutter and disorganization.

So how do you beat procrastination and get down to sorting through the clutter that has built up in your home or workspace?

  • Find some motivation. Set yourself an ‘organizing target’, clearing the surface of your desk for example, and give yourself a reward for completing the task. Pro tip: try to make the reward something that doesn’t further add to your clutter; think of a positive experience rather than just more stuff.
  • Accept ‘good enough’. Don’t wait for everything to be perfect before making a start on organizing – the perfect time may never come.
  • Think small. Break the organizing up into smaller, more manageable tasks, such as clearing one drawer or closet, and write as a list or put each task separately onto a sticky note. Have great pleasure in crossing the task off the list or piling up your sticky notes as you work through your organizing, one bite-sized task at a time.
  • Ask for help. If tackling your clutter seems too overwhelming on your own, ask a friend you trust to help you get going. If lots of the items you are trying to sort out belong to other family members or grown up children that no longer live with you, call them and ask them to come and pick their stuff up. This saves you from having to continue to store their things until you get around to delivering items yourself.
  • Allow plenty of time. Be realistic about how long it will take to organize your space. Every organizing project is different and accurately estimating the time it will take you is near to impossible, but is almost guaranteed to be greater than you would think. If you are tackling a whole room it would be sensible to leave yourself a free weekend, rather than just a couple of hours one morning, so you have enough time to make decent progress and don’t have an excuse to go and do something else.
  • Try ‘one box at a time’. One strategy that can help people to focus on sorting through their possessions, particularly paperwork, is to put all of your clutter into medium sized storage boxes and then go through them one box at a time. Setting yourself a target to sort through the boxes, one box a week for example, can help to prevent the boxes from staying there forever while more clutter builds up around them! Pro tip: be careful to separate time-sensitive paperwork such as bills that need to be paid, so you can deal with them first.
  • Invite the pressure. This option is certainly not for the faint-hearted – invite a friend or relative to come and see your organized space when you expect to be finished organizing. That should give you some much needed motivation to get going and be done before they arrive.

I know it’s tempting, but don’t just shove your piles into the nearest closet or bag before you have visitors and think you’re done – this method not only doesn’t work for the long-term, it actually makes it more difficult for you to achieve your organizing goals in the future. Whatever you choose to do to get more organized, just choose to do something about it and soon your procrastinating days will be long behind you.

If the current state of your home or office is making you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or embarrassed give Andrea at Live Life Organized a call at 780-267-2969 to arrange a free no-obligation assessment, at a time convenient to you. 

Love your home, again

It is a feeling like no other – moving into a new home with the excitement and potential of a new life and routine, planning where furniture is going to fit, what colour you are going to decorate the rooms, and what fun get-togethers you could have. But fast forward a few years and for many that “new home feeling”, just like the distinctive “new carpet smell” has been replaced with familiarity and frustration.

But what if you could fall in love with your home again?

Try to view your home as a potential buyer might. What things do you notice as you walk up to your home? How about as you walk around inside? If you are feeling really brave you could ask a brutally honest friend or family member to identify the not-so-positives of your home that you may be accustomed to.

Paint or renovate your front door and add some curb appeal with a bistro set or some pretty planters.

Spruce up your entryway. Remove the clutter and put away anything that does not belong. Add hooks for keys, fun totes for hats, mitts etc., find a space to hang this years’ calendar and consider updating your shoe storage options for the number of shoes you actually have.

Get your carpets cleaned or if you have the budget (and your children are older) replaced.

Revaluating your closet layout, and the items your closet is storing, can free up a lot of inefficiently used space. Try adding a second rail or hanging storage unit, with labels for each family member, to increase your closet’s storage volume.

We are generally all guilty of living in a bit of a time warp, especially if we are busy parents with kids. Look again at how you are using your rooms and think about your families’ needs now and in the future. Remove items that are in the wrong place or are never used (and have no sentimental value) and find them new homes, either in another room or at a donation centre. Look at the size of kids’ beds, desks, chairs and storage units and replace if they have outgrown them. Curb the toy clutter by trying the “one toy in, one toy out” rule.

Planning a mixture of practical (or necessary) home improvements with some that have more aesthetic appeal can help to keep you motivated. Putting an extra shelf in a closet or getting around to replacing an old water heater is great, but warm your soul by completing some personal projects as well such as updating a wall with a gallery of recent family pictures.

If you still have unpacked boxes in your basement or garage, which is much more common than most people want to admit, then make an appointment with yourself to go through them. Some people find the one box a day method works for them, others may prefer a few larger sessions, perhaps even with some help from family and friends.

Whichever methods you choose, take back control of your space and make intentional choices so you can love your home, again.

If the current state of your home or office is making you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or embarrassed give Andrea at Live Life Organized a call at 780-267-2969 to arrange a free no-obligation assessment, at a time convenient to you. Check out the Services page for more information.

 

Resolve to achieve your goals

Happy New Year

Well it is a brand new, shiny year and we are all full of good intentions and ambitious New Year’s resolutions. The media is full of ideas on how to improve yourself by shedding those excess pounds, putting together a new wardrobe and getting that job promotion you know you deserve. All great ideas, but why more often than not does it not happen? We say, “life gets in the way” and “I’m too busy and don’t have enough time” and then somehow that gets us off the hook for not managing to achieve what we so wanted. At least for another year…

What many people don’t realise is that to make sure you achieve your goals you need to intentionally plan to achieve them. Start by writing down your goals: personal, work-related and financial. Think about the things that are important for your family or your work, such as taking that vacation, paying off your mortgage, building an awesome back deck, getting that job promotion or starting your own business. Include a timeline of when you want to try to achieve each of your goals – some may be during this year, some may be further into the future.

The next step is recognising what you need to do in order to make each of those goals happen. Next to each of your goals write a list of all the separate tasks you need to complete for you to be able to achieve that goal. Try to be as specific as possible and include dates for completion. If your goal involves other people completing certain tasks, don’t forget to include them in your lists.

Now at this point some people can feel a bit overwhelmed. “What is the point?” you say,”I still don’t know where to start!”. This is where recognising the way in which your mind works best comes into play. Here are some suggestions for managing goal-related tasks you could try:

  1. The traditional method is to capture all of your tasks onto one master task list (electronic or paper) and then move tasks from the master list onto a daily or weekly to do list, deleting as you complete them. As someone who likes to physically write things down, my choice of master task list is a dry-erase notebook.
  2. Some people find having a separate sheet of paper for each goal with its related task list works – crossing off each task once you have completed it can be very satisfying and allows you to see your progress towards achieving your goal.
  3. If seeing all of your tasks at once is too much, try writing each task onto a separate sticky note. Place all of the sticky notes for each goal into a pile, in the order in which you need to do them (put the first to do on top), and put the notes into the recycling once you have done them. You could add a date to be completed to each note to help you keep track of any deadlines.
  4. Instead of making a pile of sticky notes you could try adding them to your wall calendar or day timer, showing when you need to have each particular task done.
  5. If you are trying to break a sticky notes/paper lists habit then you could use a smartphone app (such as ColorNote or OneNote) to record your tasks along with dated reminders for completion.

PRO TIP – to increase your chances of success choose just ONE method (paper or electronic) for your task list, rather than trying to mix and match.

One thing is for sure, once the time has gone we can’t get it back no matter how many resolutions we make. So however you decide to do it, I hope you are able to enjoy the feeling of achieving your goals; whether big or small. Wishing you all a Happy New Year and an organized 2018!

If the current state of your home or office is making you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or embarrassed give Andrea at Live Life Organized a call at 780-267-2969 to arrange a free no-obligation assessment, at a time convenient to you. Check out the Services page for more information.

 

Christmas Countdown

Christmas Countdown

Some of you might think that it is a bit late in the day to start talking about getting organized for Christmas – it is after all already December and the panic has set in! However, a lot of the stress we experience around the holiday season is self-inflicted. We can so desperately want everyone to have the ‘perfect holiday season’ that sometimes we lose sight of what is really important to us and our family.

Taking some time to establish your priorities will help you to use the weeks of December more effectively, so you can really relax and enjoy the holiday. Here is my Christmas Countdown, with some suggestions of how to make your holiday tasks less hassle:

1 – Decorate your house. Try picking one or two rooms and maybe your front door to decorate rather than the whole house – looks just as nice and saves you lots of time; not only with the putting out but with the taking down. Outside lights look beautiful, but sometimes less is more (and then you can breathe when you open your January electric bill).

2 – Put up your tree. If you use a real tree make choosing it a fun family activity rather than a chore. Artificial trees can be a huge time saver, but wait until January when they are on sale to invest in one.

3 – Stock up on wrapping supplies (paper, tape, make sure you know where your scissors are).  Buying re-useable gift bags from the dollar store can save you money in the long run.

4 – Plan events and activities with friends and family ahead of time. Put all your school and community events, family get-togethers and work parties on one calendar, so you don’t end up overcommitted. If you need to book a babysitter, today is the day to give them a call. If your holiday period is looking like it is going to be spent in the car, try suggesting to far-flung relatives that you push back a visit until early in the New Year instead.

5 – Minimise your Christmas card list and then put stamps on your weekly grocery list so you don’t end up making a special trip for them at the last minute. Put your address book and card box next to the couch and when you finally sit down to watch a bit of TV in the evening write a few at a time. Make sure you know the last post date.

6 – Create a simple food plan for over the holiday period and buy the extra food you need over the next three weeks rather than in one big rush. Stock up on frozen or non-perishable foods for catering for unexpected visitors and double check on any food restrictions/dietary requirements for guests. Cook ahead what you can and freeze.

7 – Check out your families closets – does anyone need particular clothing for special events or school? Do you need to buy teacher gifts? Make one planned early morning trip to the shops for what you need, rather than several late night rushes to Walmart for a red sweater or box of chocolates.

8 – Ordering gifts online can save a lot of time, but picking them up separately doesn’t. Canada Post FlexDelivery allows you to collect your packages at one time from your local post office, saving you time and keeping gifts from prying eyes.

9 – Have a look through your kid’s clothes and toys and find items that no longer fit or they no longer need or use. Charities appreciate receiving donations prior to Christmas and you’ll appreciate your kids having somewhere to put their new presents and clothes.

10 – It is hard not to think your whole house needs de-cluttering prior to Christmas and end up feeling overwhelmed. Focus on the main areas that visitors will see and that give you the biggest payback for your time – entryways, the family room and the kitchen are good places to start. Remember to sort out clean linens and towels for the guest room. Then throw away the guilt of your junk drawers and save the big house sort out for January.

Wishing you a happy (and organized) Christmas!

If the current state of your home or office is making you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or embarrassed give Live Life Organized a call at 780-267-2969 to arrange a free no-obligation assessment, at a time convenient to you. Check out the Services page for more information.

Creating an energy-neutral home

Over the last few decades we have seen an explosion in consumerism on a scale never witnessed before in human history. It is one of the great conundrums of our age – we invent, produce, sell and buy more and more; yet many of us are still unhappy and feeling less connected to other people. So how can having more stuff make us less happy and isolated and what can we do about it?

Getting organized is a very trendy topic these days, no doubt due to the sheer number of possessions that people now collect in modern life. Television shows and magazines make it all sound so simple – buy new storage containers, throw a few things away, add some labels and abracadabra you are organized forever more. Yet all too often this approach to “getting organized” is only a temporary band aid. We have a big tidy up only to lose motivation part way through; then in a matter of days the piles start to build up all over again, just with more storage containers added to the mess. We rarely stop to properly consider the items that we invite into our homes and offices and the negative consequences these items can bring to our families and our workplaces.

So how can having more stuff make us feel unhappy and disconnected? The truth lies in understanding that the greater the amount stuff you choose to own not only reduces the amount of physical space around you, but can also limit the amount of free space in your mind for the things that really matter – family, friends and spending time doing what you love.

Just take a moment and look around the room you are in. How many individual items can you see? How many items should be somewhere else? Are there items you no longer use or that are broken and need throwing away? Maybe there are items you are waiting to give to a friend or to take to a donation centre. Each of these items represents something you need to do in your mind – a bullet point in your “subconscious to-do list”. Now as you look around the room again, imagine that every single one of these items takes a small piece of energy from you every single time you look at it. Think how much energy you could save if you were only surrounded by energy-neutral objects, that you intentionally need or that bring you joy. I believe that the true path to feeling happier, more connected and organized is not just about having less stuff, but in ensuring that we make more intentional choices about the objects we surround ourselves with.

Now imagine yourself in a room surrounded by items that you have chosen. Every single item has a purpose in your space or is a reminder of a positive memory. You have a feeling of calm, peace and possibility. Creating an energy-neutral space, that is not subconsciously sapping you of energy, allows your mind the time and space to relax, to focus on work or simply to enjoy being with your family. Being surrounded by less allows us to truly see ourselves, others and our lives with more clarity and understanding. Our best work is achieved and our happiest memories are formed when we are in a state of “flow” and that is only possible where there is neutral energy, so our minds are free to be open and creative and we can be fully present with others.

If the current state of your home or office is making you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or embarrassed give Live Life Organized a call at 780-267-2969 to arrange a free no-obligation assessment, at a time convenient to you. Check out the Services page for more information.

Five signs that you are NOT a hoarder

FIVE SIGNS THAT YOU ARE NOT A HOARDER

With the growing popularity of reality television, one major TV success story is the show “Hoarders”. We get to have a behind-the-door look at the lives of real people who are struggling to cope in homes filled to the brim with, well everything.

Although it is positive that public awareness of the importance of personal organization is increasing, the connection with extreme hoarding has also negatively impacted those suffering from more minor levels of disorganization. The majority of disorganized people are not hoarders, but are worried about being labelled as such and therefore sometimes avoid getting the help they need.  Here are five signs that, if you can answer no to, you should not allow yourself to be labelled a “hoarder”:

Are you able to let go of or throw some things away? Hoarding disorder by definition is when a person is unable to part with any possessions, regardless of its condition or whether they need it or have space for it, because they perceive a compelling emotional need to “save” every item.

Do you reserve your strong emotional associations for items of sentimental value? People suffering from hoarding disorder have very strong emotion connections with every item they save, regardless of actual value or sentimental worth, and experience huge emotional distress at even the thought of discarding any of their possessions.

Are you able to throw away things that are dirty or broken? Many hoarders keep unsanitary, unusable or unsafe items. The huge accumulations of possessions in these people’s homes can also lead to issues with personal cleanliness, deteriorating health, rodent infestation, home safety and maintenance issues just to mention a few.

Do you recognise that you might have a problem with too much stuff? Most true extreme hoarders are unaware or in denial that their choice of full to the brim living conditions are causing a problem and can be very resistant to treatment from mental health professionals and assistance from professional organizers. If you are aware that things piling up are causing a problem for you and the other people you share your life with, then extreme hoarding is unlikely to be the cause of your issues.

Do you use “escape strategies” to avoid feeling guilty about your organizational problems? People with organizational issues often find temporary escape in activities such as excessive shopping, watching too much TV, overeating and overworking; anything to avoid having to address the underlying issues causing them pain and hurt. Extreme hoarders, on the other hand often tend to live their outside life in “business as normal” mode until things reach a crisis point.

We all get disorganized at times. Life transitions such as moving house, having a baby, getting divorced, illness, bereavement, even just going on vacation can all cause clutter and chaos in our homes. This is known as “situational disorganization” and is a completely normal and temporary reaction to events in our lives; which are overcome and sorted out once we adjust back to our normal routine. However, sometimes a person is unable to bounce back to their normal state of organization after a significant life event and their disorganized state becomes their “new normal”; they are suffering from chronic disorganization.

A chronically disorganized person can feel overwhelmed, stressed out and often is completely paralysed from dealing with their clutter effectively. As time passes, the level of disorganization can start to impact their quality of life; bills may go unpaid, needed possessions are lost, much time is wasted with futile attempts at tidying up. The person may begin to accept that being disorganized at this level is normal for them, even though their family may express concern at this situation being considered permanent. Many chronically disorganized people are well-educated, often with good jobs, and respected by work colleagues and friends. This makes admitting that they need help even harder, as they experience shame and guilt at getting into a situation that they believe they should be able to get themselves out of on their own, but find they can’t.

For chronically disorganized people who pluck up the courage to ask for professional help, the news is good; with assistance and perseverance they can often successfully take back control and find the true path to their organized life.

If the current state of your home or office is making you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or embarrassed give Live Life Organized a call at 780-267-2969 to arrange a free no-obligation assessment, at a time convenient to you. 

 

Find your Garage Heaven

garage heaven

The morning after the first proper dump of winter snow many people can be heard saying “What already?!”; followed shortly after by the depressing question, “How am I going to fit my truck/car in the garage?”. If your garage is home to everything but the kitchen sink, and the thought of trying to clear it out is giving you nightmares, then try some of these ideas to get your garage winter-ready.

One of the hardest things about organizing a garage is the large variety of items we store in them. Start by identifying all the different categories of items your family store in your garage (other than your vehicles) such as shoes/coats, DIY tools, gardening tools, kids’ toys and bikes, sports equipment etc. Have a good sort through all of the items in each of your categories and let go of the things you no longer need before investing in any storage solutions for the stuff you actually use.

Now think about how often you need to access each of these categories. Generally the items you need to access most frequently should be closest at hand and at stored at eye-to-waist level and items you use less often can be on the lowest or the highest shelves. Designate a zone in your garage for each of the categories and try to put all of the items for each category together. For example if you have a workbench put all of your tools and other accessories nearby.

Shoes and coats are best stored as close to your house access door as possible – having an enclosed or built in wardrobe  keeps coats and shoes free of the grim and dust that can so easily build up in garage spaces. Try to keep only the shoes and coats appropriate for the season and vacuum pack the rest and store in your basement or under a bed to minimise the clutter and confusion when leaving the house in a hurry. Having a labelled shelf area or specific hooks and a labelled tote for each family member can significantly speed up everyone finding their own coat, boots, torques and mitts in the morning.

If storing your vehicle(s) inside during the winter months is a priority, and you have limited garage space then consider moving other items you do not need to use during the winter months, such as gardening tools, to a different location such as the basement or a shed. If your garage is very narrow, then high level individual shelves and wall hooks and containers, rather than standing shelving units, are probably your best bet. Customised overhead storage can also be useful for maximising the use of your space, but make sure you take into account the amount of the free ceiling space your garage door needs to open.

Shelving and hooks that minimise the number of items you have to store directly on the floor will not only give your garage a more spacious feel, but will make it easier to clean the melt from cars off the garage floor. Bikes are best hung on the wall using heavy duty hooks or padded angle brackets. Sports equipment comes in all shapes and sizes, so look at what you have and then buy specific hardware to suit. Wire mesh containers attached to the wall are great for storing balls, pads etc. Snow shovels and ice picks, as well as any everyday winter sports equipment, are best hung close to your main garage door for easy access from the outside.

If you find that there are a lot of items in your garage that you no longer need and still want to keep to sell next spring, then sort through, donate what you can and box up the rest to store elsewhere until the snow finally decides to melt. Then you can finally create your own garage heaven.

If the current state of your home or office is making you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or embarrassed give Live Life Organized a call at 780-267-2969 to arrange a free no-obligation assessment, at a time convenient to you. 

Back to School Routine – free printables

These resources maybe useful for people with younger children who are struggling to get themselves up and ready on time in the morning.

Kids’ Morning Routine 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Try printing a couple out and sticking on your fridge/kid’s pinboard as a handy guide for them on those weekday bleary mornings. This one is ready to go, but if it doesn’t meet your needs then you could use the blank template below to make your own customized version.

Blank Kids’ Routine

Back to school tips for parents

I don’t want to make anyone groan by mentioning the phrase “back to school” during the summer break, but the start of the school year is sneaking up fast. The long hot lazy days of summer are mostly behind us and before you can even finish shaking the playground sand out of your kid’s shoes they will be back on the bus to school.

As much as I appreciate being able to relax and loosen up the routine over the summer; I also hate starting the school year feeling unprepared and spending those last few days of vacation in a mad panic. So here are some things to slip into your summer to do list, then you can send your kids back to school without that frazzled feeling.

You know that pile of artwork and crafts from last year that is still in a corner; now is the time to tackle it. Often just a designated tote is the easiest way to store artwork. Try using pocket presentation books to keep your kids’ best pieces of work from each grade together. They are quick to use and create an instant scrapbook. You are not going to be able to keep everything, so limit yourself to your favorites by the size of tote and number of pages in the presentation book. If some of the creations are too big to store, consider taking a picture and filing a copy of the photograph instead.

Book your kids in for their dental appointments, annual medicals and eye exams. Getting some of these regular appointments out of the way over the summer break is a lot less hassle than taking kids out of school during the year or trying to bribe receptionists to get that desirable 4pm appointment time.

Summer is a great time to do a big closet sort out. Hold a fashion show to work out what fits and what doesn’t. Keep clothes for younger siblings in a tote in the top of a closet or under the bed; then sell, consign or donate unwanted items that are still in decent condition. Finding clothes in the summer sales that are a size or two larger to wear next year can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Buying school supplies using the school’s recommended supplier is often the most convenient way to stock up. If you would rather buy your own, try to get hold of the supply lists for the next grade early so you can take advantage of stationary sales throughout the year. Remember to order kids’ name labels and set aside an evening to apply them all.

Take a few minutes to sort through lunchboxes, containers, drink bottles and recycle or dispose of any that have seen better days. Make sure you add any items you need to your next shopping list, so you don’t need to make a special trip to buy new. Check the condition of backpacks and replace if necessary; higher quality bags can be better value as they often last several years before looking tatty.

Plan time to get the last few errands done in the final week before school starts. Get haircuts, take a trip to buy shoes (indoor and outdoor), and stock up on lunchbox friendly snacks. Then stand back and smile as the bus rolls up.

Andrea Marson is the owner of Live Life Organized, based in Sherwood Park and a member of Professional Organizers in Canada (POC). She can be contacted at 780-267-2969 or via e-mail at livelifeorganized@outlook.com

 

Helping seniors downsize

Making the decision to downsize into a smaller property with less maintenance is becoming a more popular option for today’s active seniors — especially with so many quality condos designed specifically for seniors on the market locally. For some seniors assisted-living facilities are also a good choice, enabling them to live more independently in a safe and managed environment.

Once committed to downsizing, however, actually reducing the number of your possessions in order to make the move can be a daunting task. Luckily for most, family and friends are on hand to help. But how do you help an older relative or friend through this process?

Leaving your home of many years and memories and moving to new accommodations is always going to be a heart-wrenching and difficult experience. Allowing sufficient time to complete the task of organizing a senior’s possessions, so there is no need to rush, will help to reduce the stress on everyone. Researching to find a moving company that specializes in moving seniors may also be of benefit.

Start by taking some photographs of their house and garden. It is important to celebrate fond memories of their old home and their time spent there. Having paid respect to the past, the process of moving on can then gain some momentum.

When someone has lived in one place for a long time they can easily accumulate a lot of clutter and may have strong emotional attachments to more items than they can take to their new home.
If you are working with a senior relative to sort through their possessions, start in an easy to clear room that is the least important emotionally, this will get the process off to a good start before any difficult decisions have to be made. It is worth checking on the size and layout of the senior’s new home, as they may not be able to take all of their furniture, or may need to replace pieces with smaller furniture more appropriate for the new space.

Determine which items and furniture are to take to the new home, which are to give as gifts to family and friends, which are suitable for donation and which need to be thrown away or left for house clearance — sets of differently coloured stickers can be used while doing this to allow your older relative to quickly and easily label items for their destination. It is sometimes hard for people to distinguish the items they need from those that they simply want, but do not actually use. Start off by choosing essential items and furniture that are moving with them, then which items are obviously not needed, before taking more time to sort through items and furniture that require more consideration. You can make this less anxiety-provoking by focusing on the positives of donating items to friends, family or a charity. Encouraging the giving of special items to friends and family, along with a note to explain the sentimental connection, may also ease the process.

If you are sorting through the home of a senior relative who is unable to assist, don’t assume that all of the items of value will be obvious. People have a habit of stashing money, important photographs and documents in drawers, shoe boxes, suitcases and at the back of closets, often mixed in with less valuable items. Make sure you go through every nook and cranny to ensure that all valuable items are found before calling in a house clearing company.

Ultimately giving your time, respect and care will help to make this a positive life transition for your loved one.