Chronic Disorganization

A lot of the time, those with Chronic Disorganization are labeled as “packrats” or “clutterbugs.”

The average person with Chronic Disorganization has around 3000 documents, 40% more
housework on their To-Do List, and 15-20% of their income goes toward late fees. They are
often creative individuals who cannot seem to stay on top of their chores.

Chronic Disorganization is often marked by a failed attempt at organizing self-help. Chronic
Disorganization affects day-to-day activities, and it may only be evident in one area of one’s
life but is often seen over several areas. It usually occurs over a long period of time, possibly
several years.

There is no quick fix for Chronic Disorganization, but those who suspect they have Chronic
Disorganization should start with 3 main goals:
1. Let go of shame and guilt and move forward.
2. Have a better understanding of organizing pitfalls
3. Generate ideas to start changing one’s own organizing thought process (This can be a
lengthy process.)

If attempts at “fixing” Chronic Disorganization on your own have failed, it may point out the
need for professional help.

Organizing My Closet and Letting the Light Shine

Does the thought of organizing your entire wardrobe make you groan and feel light-headed?
What to do?

Break it up into sections. For example:
I’ll put away my sandals and bring out my fall/winter shoes.
Next I’ll move the summer jackets out to make room for the year-round ones.
Then I’ll switch my summer pajamas with my winter ones. You get the idea.

A client who recently had me organize her closet for her was thrilled to discover a pair of
earrings purchased during a trip to Europe. She was sure they were lost forever…but they
were just waiting for rediscovery in the depths of her closet! I always say that instead of
thinking of it as tackling your clutter, go on a treasure hunt. My clients always find treasures
they thought were lost forever.

Let there be light!
That could be the motto for every closet organizing project.
Light equals energy. Let me repeat that. Light equals energy.
For some reason, good closet lighting is often overlooked, even in a walk-in closet.
Last week I decided to apply this rule to my own closet by adding another light. What a change!

Good light lets you see whether your slacks are blue or black. It eliminates “dark holes” that contain clothes you don’t choose to wear because you can’t see them back in their dingy corners. It motivates you to hang things up after wearing them.

Closet Organizing Tips:
Organizing Tip 1. Break closet organizing into sections.
Organizing Tip 2. Go on treasure hunts when doing projects.
Organizing Tip 3. Light is energy for all areas of the home.

Don’t Let Car Clutter/Cleaning Drive You Crazy!

Has your car become your second office and dining room?

Are you embarrassed if someone needs to ride with you?

Here are some quick types to get the car back in control!

I spent a long time vacuuming up the crumbs remaining from my many “dashboard dining” meals. I remember a cartoon where cleaning up from a meal means getting all the fast-food bags out of the car!

Over the years I have done TV segments on car organizing, so I hope these tips help. In my real life, I have to do this also!

• I spend a few minutes when I get in my driveway and get all the trash together
• Organize what I need for tomorrow
• Gather what needs to go in my office and separate what goes into the house.

If you have children, they can be doing the same with their stuff while you do yours.

It also helps to…
• Think of your car as another room of your house
• Pick up regularly
• Plan a few minutes once a week to purge anything you don’t want in the car for the next week.

You will feel like a new person when your car is Clutter-free & Organized!

Time Management: Reduce Distractions

Time management is a big goal for a lot of my clients. Often, there doesn’t seem to be enough time to finish up what needs to be done. The key to time management is to work in blocks on one item on your To-Do List only.

One of the biggest threats to time management is distractions. What you have to realize is that what you can do in 10 minutes will take 40 with distractions.

Some common time management distractions and solutions:
1. E-mail It can be very distracting if there is a constant flow of e-mail messages coming to you. Solution:
Change your e-mail settings so that it does not auto-deliver. Then you can filter through and answer your
e-mails in small blocks throughout the day.

2. Phone Calls Solution: Turn off your cell phone. If this makes you nervous, set a timer for an hour and
then you can check your voicemail.

3. Desk Paper Stacks Each pile of paper is diverting your mind from working and saying, “Should I be
doing this now?” “Is this more prominent?” Solution: The long-term goal is to eliminate paper stacks.
However, the short-term goal can be to perform a desk rescue.

Any of these can be daunting, but the benefit is to gain back a life and not constantly be at work. With
good time management, this can be a reality.

Three P’s to Peaceful School Mornings

Lost shoes, lost reports and lost keys, the clock seems to be running on double – THE SCHOOL
YEAR BEGINS. No, I am not peeking into your house, but many parents describe this kind of hectic
morning to me.

As a mother of seven grown children, I know mornings can be hectic. Since I survived and also
since I am a Professional Organizer, here are some tips to ease the beginning of each day by
planning, purging and paper handling…

Create a Plan
Get the family together over a dish of ice cream and brainstorm for ideas to meet everyone’s
needs. Listen to each person’s input. The kindergartner’s suggestion may be the best.

Routines keep everyone calmer so the night before…
• Set out planned breakfast items
• Everyone, including Mom and Dad, pick out clothes for the next day
• Divide the house into sections – each person takes an assigned room and spends a few minutes
returning items where they belong
• Take a few minutes in the evening to come together and discuss plans each family member has for the
next day
• If Mom and Dad get up 30 minutes earlier and get dressed before the children get up, it allows time to
handle any problems that arise

Purge, Purge, Purge
This is the time to simplify.

Help young ones go through their room and eliminate the old stuff. They will probably be
willing to throw out many of last year’s school papers. The ones they want to keep can be put
into a sentimental box.

Share old toys with the needy. Sorting through their room is often overwhelming for children to
do. Sometimes it is too stressful for a parent and child to do together, so possibly an older
sibling, aunt or grandparent could help them. As a professional organizer, I also work with
children and since I am a “neutral person,” this works out well.

This is also a good time of year for parents and children to organize their closets so that
selecting clothes to wear will be easier.

Tame the Papers Problem
Have a plan for incoming and outgoing papers. It is not so important what you do with a piece
of paper but that you do follow the plan consistently.

Place all papers that need to be signed in a specific, designated area, possibly a basket near
the door that everyone comes in.

Have a system so children know where their papers will be the next morning. For example, you
may return the papers to them or they may be by their place at breakfast. It is not so important
what you do but that you do it consistently.

Keep papers needed for future dates in one place.

Have one location where everyone writes upcoming events, giving each family member a different color pen to use.

Simple Steps to Organization
Plan a routine, give everyone something on the evening To-Do List, decide how school papers will be
handled, and take the time to purge rooms and closets – these are all simple steps we each can
take to help our families be less stressed on mornings during the school year.

Getting your children off to school is more than just getting them out of our door and into the school’s
door. We want them to feel loved, and we also want to have time to listen to our children as they talk. It is
important to be able to give them a hug and smile as we part for the day. Allow some extra time, because
the unexpected will happen – but with good planning and simple organization, we can handle the
unexpected without unnecessary difficulty.

Recovery Time

After a great week at the beach enjoying surf, sand and shrimp with family, I came home to
computer problems. Talk about coming back to the real world with a reality jolt. Immediately
having a speech to give and a class to teach just added to the pressure. A few other issues
needed to be resolved such as office phone problems. I realized, instead of plowing ahead, I
needed to pull back and allow myself some recovery time.

Here is what helped. I stopped and got my house in order – everything from the trip put away.
Then I did the same with my office. I had done a presentation and some marketing while on
vacation – that material all needed disassembling plus there was email to catch up on.
Working some when at the beach isn’t really work to me, because I look at it as marketing
which may create other opportunities to work and be able to walk the beach.

I realized this idea of having recovery time might be useful to others when I was talking to a
coaching client who had had several “life items” that made her get behind. We discussed what
she needed to do for recovery to take the pressure off.

What do you do for recovery? If you are feeling stressed, is this something you need to think
about? Often when we get behind, it isn’t inefficiency but “life items” that are soaking up time,
and that is okay. Stop and identify where your time has gone.

Hopefully you will smile because you’ve been having some fun. Then think about what is most important to do to get back on track. Make a recovery plan.

Time Management When Children Are Home

Did I have a big reminder of how little you get done with a 2 year old at your feet!

My granddaughter Ava and I were spending some special time together. By 11 o’clock that morning, I finally
had the kitchen cleaned up from breakfast.

I had a big laugh when I thought about what I teach on procrastination. You may have heard me use the illustration about emptying a dishwasher: Emptying the dishwasher is a 3 -5 minute project, so it is just as easy to “Do It Now!” and get the job done. But you can count on that being an hour project or more when you have a little one helping, interrupting, and causing you to stop and play.

About the time the kitchen was cleaned up, it was time to start lunch. Nap time (hers) was when I finally put on my make-up and real clothes. After all, I needed to look presentable. We were going to the hospital for Ava
to see her new, adopted baby sister.

Having raised 7 children, I had to stop and think how much it helped when the older ones had
assigned chores like emptying the dishwasher. I remembered when my 3 boys were small, we would laugh and say that we didn’t worry about the house getting broken into. If the would-be burglar didn’t break his neck on all the toys on the sidewalk, he would end up falling over all the ride toys in the living room. Someone once asked me what my decorating style was and I said “toys, toys and more toys.” Actually it has never changed – now there are cat toys scattered on the floor.

I may be an organizer but children come first. Organization should support you and not control you. Little ones grow up so quickly. I find it hard to believe my youngest is 35. Given the choice between organizing and spending time with your children, my recommendation is to spend time with your family!

Organizing Tip 1. Put family first in your life – you can empty the dishwasher later.
Organizing Tip 2. There is a funny side to almost everything – lighten up!
Organizing Tip 3. No one expects you to be SuperMom. It is better to be super-loved.

Summer Is Meant to be Enjoyed

Is this the right time to do summer organizing projects?

Questions to ask yourself:
• While my children home, do I want to spend time with them?
• Do I have company coming to stay?
• Isn’t summer my time to take a vacation, relax, and enjoy the outdoors?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these, maybe it would be better to scratch summer organizing projects off your To-Do List and put them on your calendar for fall. Sometimes telling yourself “I am just going to work on maintaining the house” is more realistic and takes the pressure off so you can enjoy the summer.

If you do have a summer organizing project that you really want to get done so you can mark it off your list, give us a call – we can help you do it quickly so summer can still be yours to enjoy.

Working with us takes the overwhelming out of projects!

Schedule Some Downtime This Summer

How many autumns have begun and you’ve said, “Summer has gone by in a blur and I didn’t even enjoy it, I was so busy at work”?

Before we know it, we will be looking at fall leaves. It is not too late to make changes that can make our summer fun, relaxing and invigorating.

One of my clients says she can’t break her habit of working late, and that leaves her no time to do extra things with her children. We decided the best cure was to plan an activity and tell the children so she was obligated to leave the office.

Are you saying to yourself, “But I need to work late to get things done?”

I too can be proud of my accomplishments when I stay in my office late into the evening, but if I am honest I’ll admit that I wipe out that productivity by being tired and sluggish the next morning, even if I am sitting at my desk. Is that also true for you?

To quote Canadian time management specialist Harold Taylor, “Working long hours makes you good at one thing — working long hours. It does not increase either your efficiency or effectiveness. Any anticipated increase in personal productivity is usually offset by a lower work pace, additional error, more frequent self-generated distractions, decreased creativity, and a decline in energy and motivation.”

So how do you enjoy this summer?

Get out your calendar and write down on specific days specific things you want to do. Call others and make a commitment with them to do these things. Giving yourself downtime will not only be good for your health and give you a more positive outlook in life, but it will also be good for your business and career.

How many of us get our best ideas in the shower when we are relaxed? Don’t be surprised if brilliant ideas come to you when you are at the pool or in the hammock. Jot them down and relax again.

While we are on the subject of balance, sleep habits must be addressed. Short-changing your sleep is totally unproductive. Science News reports, “People who get by on a modest sleep deficit are often not aware of their shrinking thinking capabilities and don’t feel particularly drowsy.” Studies show that being tired can decrease our productivity by as much as 35 percent. Michal Skalski of a sleep disorder clinic in Poland reports, “Someone who sleeps little is under permanent stress.” The bottom line — if you want to be more productive, get a good night’s sleep.

Just a reminder, when you are doing something for fun or relaxing, turn off your cell phone. The world will not come to an end if you are not connected to it. In fact you will relax more and have real communication with the real people you are with. Isn’t that what life is really about?

It is not too late to make this summer full of great memories. Take a few minutes and think about what you want this summer to look like and get out your calendar and make definite plans.

Remember, having a balanced schedule will make you better at your job in every respect.