Tag Archives: organizing

Coaching and Organizing Differ

I love coaching, both the coaching I do and the coaching I’ve received. Why? It is the single most

If you want to make positive changes, choose coaching.

powerful process for change I’ve ever experienced with clients and myself.

I’ve worked for years doing hands-on organizing for people (since 1997), a role in which I usually direct the action, make decisions about what to do, and make sure progress is being made. Clients request hands-on organizing because they want me to improve their spaces. There is the possibility for change because as we clear clutter and organize a space, the energy in the space shifts from negative to less negative or positive. It’s a rather passive change process. Although the client may be the recipient of the energy benefits of improving their space, those benefits happen without much ownership by the client. Without ownership of the change process, the client is less likely to commit to maintaining the environmental changes that are made.

Coaching is a learning/action process that helps clients reach their goals. Unlike typical hands-on organizing, in coaching the client is the driver of the process of change. Clients reach out to me because they want something to be different and better in their lives. They want to be different — more productive, less scattered, more aware of what they want and how to get it. They want to change what they are doing so they can get the results they seek.

I partner with my clients to co-create a relationships that make it possible for clients to find their own answers. For coaching to work, the client must be invested in the process of coaching. They have the opportunity to create awareness of who they are, what they’re doing, what they’re thinking, their values, challenge areas and strengths. That information and learning is then leveraged to inform action. With awareness the client and I work together to strategize options for action. I may offer possible strategies, but the client decides what action he/she will take.

Accountability is part of the process of coaching. The client agrees to take specific action between sessions and report his/her progress in the next session. It is his/her opportunity to take their learning into real life practice. I provide accountability and support for the client taking action by inquiring about his/her action in the next session. Whether the client completed the action(s) or not, he/she has the opportunity to learn from whatever was or wasn’t done. With learning and practice change occurs.

Hands-on organizing is very beneficial in the short run. However, if you want real change, if you want to learn to do things differently with a non-judgmental support, coaching is your best option.

Are you curious about what coaching could do for you? Experience the benefits of coaching by scheduling a FREE 30 minute Back on Track phone coaching session with me. You’ll get a risk-free taste of coaching and have the opportunity to learn more about this empowering process for change.

The Junk Drawer: A Kitchen Mini-Attic

Don’t know what to do with the curtains you removed from a child’s bedroom? Stick them in the attic! Don’t know what to do with miscellaneous pieces of plastic that might be important for

Adding dividers or small containers to “junk” drawers to separate items into categories can transform your “junk” drawer into a highly functional drawer.

some reason? Stick them in the junk drawer! Is it any wonder that most people cringe, not only when attics are mentioned, but also when junk drawers become the subject of conversation? Junk drawers are the “I don’t know what to do with it” places for small items, often located in the kitchen.

What I don’t understand is how that drawer of miscellaneous items got its name. Often most of the things in a junk drawer are not junk. They are useful items: screw drivers and other small tools, pencils, pens, batteries, nail files, sewing kits, screws and nails, gum, rubber bands . . . I’ll bet junk drawers were so named because their contents were jumbled and looked junky!

I object to using the adjective “junk” to describe any storage area in a house, because using “junk” to describe a space gives it permission to be junky. I once had a client who had a junk room! Can you imagine giving over one whole room in a house to junk?! Needless to say, that room is now a small study, not a junk room!

Believe it or not, junk drawers can be transformed from junky spaces to organized places with organizer inserts or small containers to hold the different categories of things you choose to keep in that drawer. You can even find those containers around the house, if you have some small boxes set aside for gift giving. Both lids and boxes can be used.

Be sure to limit the contents of each container to one category. For example, one container might hold batteries, another would hold pens and pencils, and a third would hold miscellaneous tools. Don’t mix items within a container or you’ll transform your neatly organized drawer of miscellaneous small items back into a junk drawer.

And, why not call your newly organized drawer of miscellaneous small items something fun like the Picasso drawer or the Discovery drawer? You decide! If you want to be successful in maintaining a really useful storage space for miscellaneous small things in your kitchen, let go of the “junk drawer” label. You’ll be glad you did the next time you are able to quickly find that miscellaneous piece of plastic that turns out to be the battery cover for the back of your TV remote!

Closet Organizing Can Be Creative & Fun

A very interesting guest room closet.

A very interesting guest room closet.

Who says closets have to be overwhelming and boring? You can make your
closets interesting with a little thought and creativity.  One of my clients did just that when she decided to gather all her Williamsburg memorabilia and mementos together and displayed them in her guest room closet. How creative and lovely!

Apparently this client was in the habit of leaving her guest room closet empty for use by guests. When she was moving into her house she noticed how many Williamsburg mementoes she had and considered her options for displaying them. The empty shelves in the guest room closet seemed like a perfect place to store and display her treasures.

What a lovely greeting!

What a lovely greeting!

Can you imagine being a guest and opening that closet? How wonderful it would be to be greeted by such historic and interesting items? It sure beats the heck out of unsightly bags, boxes and other miscellaneous stuff!

Make organizing interesting and fun to get it done!

A Solution for Organizing Necklaces

I have yet to find the ideal necklace organizing product. In my work I have seen many types of organizers, but none have accomplished what’s needed to keep necklaces organized: visibility, ease of access, and keeping necklaces tangle-free.

My own necklace organizer finally reached the point where I had to do something different to be able to enjoy my necklaces. My mother recently died, and I inherited a number of her brightly colored necklaces, most of which we bought together. They hold her energy, and being able to easily access them became a priority.

IMG_4611

Before

When I added Mom’s necklaces to my existing organizer they became part of a jumble of necklaces, all of which were then difficult to see and access. If you have to fight with other necklaces to get to the one you want, you will feel irritated and most likely avoid using necklaces all together.

What to do? I went to Bed, Bath & Beyond and bought another necklace tree. It was still not ideal for easily getting necklaces on and off of it, but it did have the capacity to store necklaces at two levels. Longer necklaces could be on the top level, and smaller necklaces on the bottom.

After. The necklaces on the counter were donated to charity.

After. The necklaces on the counter were donated to charity.

When I contemplated the volume of necklaces, most of which I actually love and use, I realized I still had too many necklaces for the new organizer. Rather than cram all of them onto the new tree, I decided to divide the necklaces into two groups: colorful beaded necklaces on the new tree; simple silver and gold necklaces on the smaller tree. Removing the silver and gold necklaces reduced the volume on the tall tree, and made it more likely that I’d be able to see and access the remaining necklaces.

I used the sorting process as an opportunity to clear out some necklaces I don’t wear and am not likely to wear again. That too reduced the volume. Any time you are setting up a new organizing system, you have the opportunity to clear clutter. 

My solution is not ideal because it takes more space, but I was able to take a chaotic jumble of inaccessible necklaces and make them accessible and visible. Mission accomplished!

If you have found an effective way to store necklaces, please share it! And, please include photos so we can all benefit from your method.

Garage Clutter Clearing: The Challenge of Negative Energies

If you have a garage you probably have had this type of experience. You or
DSCN1058your spouse set your intention that this weekend you’re going to tackle the garage. The weekend comes. After your breakfast, coffee and the newspaper you set out for the garage, fully prepared to take on the beast. You open the door to the garage, take a look at the chaos, clutter, dirt and enormous quantities of items to be sorted and organized and you turn on your heel to return to the comfort of your family room and a good book or the TV remote.

Is it any wonder that garages rank right up there with attics, basements, and paper as clutter clearing challenges that are most often avoided? Why is that?

With few exceptions most garages present with a whole host of negative energy challenges. In other words, garages tend to be places that for one reason or another don’t “feel good.” Spaces that don’t feel good energetically push you away. Negative energy repulses. Positive energy attracts.

Why all the negative energy?

  • Garages are typically storage areas of an enormous quantity of items. The numbers of things to be organized, stored and kept in order is overwhelming.
  • Garages are also typically very busy places. Items of all sizes from large yard equipment like lawn mowers and weed eaters to tiny nuts, screws and bolts are stored there.
  • Many of the items in a garage are visible. If they are visible, their energy talks to you all the time. There is no peace in the typical garage with all those various conversations!
  • Garages usually hold various kinds of toxic substances like fertilizers, pesticides, and paints.
  • Garages are the storage area for items that hold “weapon” energy, tools that can do harm. This includes handsaws, drills, axes, chainsaws, hammers and crowbars.
  • Garages are often unfinished spaces with exposed framing. Even though it is common to leave garages unfinished, being unfinished makes them unattractive and feel like spaces waiting for finishing touches to make them more attractive and appealing.
  • Garages are dirty places. Even with the most deliberate attention to keep a garage swept clean, dust, dirt and grime easily accumulate because of their enormous doors and the types of items stored there.
  • Garages are dumping grounds. They are convenient places to drop things on your way into the house. Also, items get dumped in the garage because they is usually room to store things “temporarily” when shifting things around inside your house. Often “temporary” becomes permanent. Plus, when people can’t decide what to do with items, or if they run out of room for things in the house, their mantra often is, “Stick it in the garage.” Unfortunately, once dropped in the garage those items are out of sight, out of mind and become part of the garage chaos.

It is no wonder that most people tend to avoid clearing, cleaning and organizing the garage! It’s negative energy alone can send you for the sofa and the remote control!

Are you now feeling sufficiently overwhelmed? Don’t worry. That’s very normal. However, the garage monster can be tackled. Before that can happen you must be conscious of the sources of negative energy that can shut you down. If you head for the garage unprepared for its common challenges, like the power of its negative energies, you are likely to find yourself on the sofa time and time again.

Once you have an awareness of the sources of negative energy, you can use that knowledge to inform your retreating self that it’s not simply laziness or the inability to do the job that keeps you from clearing out your garage. It is the negative energy of the space as a whole that is dousing your enthusiasm to create order in your garage. With that knowledge and your new awareness of the power of negative energies to shut down clutter clearing and organizing attempts, you can then take a deep breath and seek ways to manage those energies so you can reclaim your garage.

Organized Papers are Empowering!

Papers associated with challenges can empower you when they are organized. I had thegesture-772977_640 chance to observe this first hand when I helped a very dear friend organize papers associated with her son’s very challenging disability.

We faced numerous binders, paper storage containers, and piles of papers, the kind of paper challenge that makes you want to run from the room. We went through all the binders, storage containers and paper, sorting papers into easily identifiable stacks: IEPs, psychiatric evaluations, medical evaluations, reference materials, etc. In the process we got rid of a whole box of paper! By the time we were done she could put her hands on any document she might need, and had plans for sustaining the order we created.

My friend began the sorting process feeling overwhelmed and anxious, focused almost entirely on how very difficult her journey on the painful road to obtain help via a less than cooperative school system and a medical establishment that had led her son down some rough roads. By the time we’d finished she was calmer, and saw the remaining papers not as a big burdensome reminder of her difficult situation, but rather as resources to use as she continues to advocate for her son. The process of purging and organizing those papers not only made the papers more manageable, but also helped her ground herself to face future challenges.

Disorganized papers can keep you anxious and overwhelmed. Organized papers can empower and support you!

Disrupting Events Make It Difficult to Stay Organized

When I walk into a chaotic environment I listen for clues from my client about what may have

Disruptive events can lead to clutter overwhelm once the challenge has passed.

Disruptive events can lead to clutter overwhelm once the challenge has passed.

caused the chaos. Some people have always struggled to get and stay organized. They are affectionately referred to as “chronically disorganized” by professional organizers nationwide. Despite all their efforts they cannot stay organized. Those clients usually tell me that they have struggled with disorganization for as long as they can remember.

There are some people, however, who at one time in their lives were organized and able to maintain organized spaces at home and at work. When I learn that a client was once organized and has since gone downhill, I seek to identify what threw him or her off course. Following is a list of the disrupting events that can turn a person’s life upside down, making it very hard to maintain order in their lives:

  • physical illness
  • mental illness–particularly depression
  • illness in a family member
  • surgery
  • death of a loved one
  • caregiving for an ailing parent
  • divorce
  • home renovation
  • frequent travel
  • Christmas
  • getting married
  • birth of a child
  • changing jobs
  • losing a job

Any of the above events or issues takes either an emotional or physical toll or both that is above and beyond what is experienced in normal every day life. Since you have energy limits, any one of those disrupting events can eat energy that would ordinarily have been allocated to tending to your home, your papers, your things, and the variety of chores that you do to stay organized.

It’s normal for people to do what is easiest in times of high stress just to survive. Paper and disorder can back up at those times because tending to them doesn’t seem as important as surviving the difficult time. But, you may want to remember that your space also affects your energy. Disorganized, chaotic spaces are loaded with negative energy. Exposing yourself to that energy will only deplete your energy all the more making it much harder to muster the energy and motivation to dig out once the current storm has passed.

Once you are on the other side of a difficult time, you may find you have a nightmare on your hands — clutter and chaos that are overwhelming and not easily addressed because of the size of the challenge. You’ll be depleted from your ordeal and further depleted by the negative energy in your space.

If you find yourself experiencing any of the disruption I’ve described above, it is important to remain conscious of your space even if you don’t have time to keep up as you normally would. Avoid the inclination to just let go and let chaos reign. Make yourself take as little as 5 minutes a day to clear clutter and maintain order. Doing a little clearing and organizing on a regular basis could save you from a nightmare of your own creation. If despite your best intentions you are unable to maintain a basic order, ask for help from family and friends, people who likely want to help you through a difficult time.

Ask for help and save yourself!

ADHD? Clutter Challenges? A Medication Success Story

Most of my clients have ADHD, commonly referred to as Attention Deficit Disorder with or

ADHD can look like this. Want something different? Try medication!

ADHD can look like this. Want something different? Try medication!

without a hyperactive component. Some have been diagnosed with the disorder. Others have considered the possibility that they have it but have never been tested, and still others have struggled with the challenges of ADHD symptoms for years (organization, clutter, time management, decision-making, prioritization, and productivity challenges), but had no clue that ADHD could be the reason for their on-going struggles.

When I bring ADHD up as a possible cause for on-going organizing and productivity challenges clients often ask me what can be done about it. I tell them that medication, to regulate brain chemistry, and coaching, to learn to manage their ADHD symptoms, are the two primary ways to deal with ADHD. Many clients immediately bat away the idea of medication, saying they don’t like taking medications, that they might try other possibilities, but not medication.

Medication can make it possible for a person with ADHD to focus and initiate and complete tasks, all of which are primary ADHD challenges. It doesn’t work for everyone, but when it does it can transform a life that alternately feels out of control or stuck into one that is manageable and rewarding. Following is an example of what medication can do.

“I no longer inhabit my home. I love in it.” Those are the words of a client who for many years felt uncomfortable living in her home because of clutter challenges. What happened? What made things better? I helped her identify that she has ADHD. She went one step further and sought medication to help regulate the symptoms that affect her ability to get things done in her home.

When she and her doctor found the right dosage of medication, she sent me an email sharing her success. Excerpts follow.

“I started doing things here that have not been done in some cases for years and years. I am mainly making it look better. I am discarding a lot of stuff, and moving things around. . . In moving things around I am freeing up space, making room to breathe. I am discarding things, but I am not making decluttering or downsizing the primary thing.  Rather, getting my space better. I go wherever my interest and energy want to go and do things that way. . .

Lots more to do, but I am actually enjoying a lot of this. Every time I look into my living room, there is so much more space and it is lighter, not all stuffed in. Not finished here either, but making progress. . .

From my heart to yours, Debbie, thank you for hanging with me until I could see that I probably did/do have some ADHD and related problems. This medication has given me energy, a much improved mood, more comfortable in my skin. I’m not sure that this is the best stopping place with trying medication, but I sure am grateful for what has occurred with me so far.”

In this client’s case being able to make real progress on clutter clearing in her home wasn’t possible until she figured out that she had ADHD and got the right dose of medication to help her focus. Medication made it possible for her to engage in tasks that previously she would have avoided. 

It’s clear that my client’s quality of life has improved with the addition of medication to help manage her ADHD symptoms. How sad that many others with the ADHD challenge refuse to give themselves the opportunity to make their lives more manageable, less challenging and more rewarding.

If you have ADHD, why not explore medication? It could change your life for the better!

You Might Have ADHD If —

If you have organizing and clutter problems, time management problems, and problems withiStock_000026018385Large productivity, you could have ADHD (I use ADHD to include both inattentive ADD and hyperactive ADHD). How do I know? Most of my clients come to me with those problems, and many have been diagnosed with ADHD.

I wrote this blog to give those of you who wonder if you have ADHD information about some of the more common symptoms of ADHD. I am constantly amazed at how many people I work with who have ADHD and don’t know it. They’ve just assumed that their clutter challenges are the result of not being disciplined or just being lazy. 

In fact, ADHD is a neurobiological problem. Translated, that means that there are mechanical problems with the functioning of areas of the brain. ADHD is not a matter of will or choice. It is a wiring problem in the brain that causes many challenges in the lives of people with ADHD and their families. 

The ADHD brain doesn’t work optimally, particularly the pre-frontal cortex, the area associated with executive functions associated with memory, organizing, prioritizing, time management, emotion regulation, effort, focus and getting things done. Below is a list of the way I have experienced ADHD showing up in the lives of clients and loved ones:

  • you have difficulty prioritizing tasks to be done, everything seems equally important,
  • you have difficulty starting tasks, particularly tasks that are not interesting,
  • urgency is a primary motivator for action,
  • you constantly seek pleasure, fun, new and interesting,
  • you have difficulty focusing when not interested in a task or conversation,
  • you can focus for long periods of time on tasks about which you are interested (hyperfocus), but have difficulty disengaging from those tasks,
  • you have difficulty sustaining action or interest when doing tasks, particularly those that are not stimulating, new, interesting or fun,
  • you get distracted by anything that is more fun, interesting, stimulating than what you are currently doing,
  • you get distracted by all the conversations going on in your head,
  • you have difficulty completing tasks,
  • you have difficulty transitioning from one activity or task to another,
  • you overcommit yourself because you underestimate the time and effort involved in tasks and you lose sight of all you’ve already committed to,
  • you procrastinate, particularly tasks with no deadline, urgency or that are not interesting, stimulating or fun,
  • you have difficulty with consistent follow through, doing what you say you’ll do,
  • you have difficulty managing time: lose track of time, waste time, underestimate the time it will take to get tasks done,
  • you struggle with getting and staying organized, particularly paper,
  • you have difficulty getting to sleep because you can’t shut off the activity in your brain,
  • you have difficulty regulating your emotions (become easily frustrated, get swept away by strong feelings, get angry easily),
  • you have difficulty pausing, especially when feeling emotional.

This list is by no means all inclusive, nor is it meant to be. It’s meant to give you some basic information about the way ADHD can affect the lives of people who have this challenging disorder. If you recognized yourself as you read the above list, I urge you consider getting a formal assessment to determine if you have ADHD. It will open up access to many resources that can make living with ADHD much easier.

ADHD is a neurobiological challenge that cannot be cured. However, its symptoms can be managed. If you think you may have ADHD and want to explore your options for next steps to take to improve your life experience, call me at 804-730-4991 or email me to schedule a free 30 minute consultation. Life can be different!

Ground Yourself for Greater Productivity

DSCN0461In our rush, rush world that seems to run on urgency, it’s very easy to get ungrounded, to lose your focus, and in turn get stuck or spin in activity without awareness or purpose. In order to be productive you must be grounded in who you are and your current purpose.

When you are grounded you feel good, capable and equipped to handle whatever comes at you during your day. You are connected to yourself and a universal source of energy. You have confidence, you can make decisions and work effectively. When I’m grounded I do my best coaching, my best writing, my best speaking and my best work with hands-on clients. I operate from a firm foundation of my self-worth, trust in my abilities, and faith that things will work out for the best.

Many things can cause you to become ungrounded. Upon reflection of my episodes of becoming ungrounded, I’ve noticed that I can easily get knocked off center and disconnect from myself when I make mistakes, when I’m in transition (e.g. the transition from hands-on organizer to organizer coach who also does hands-on organizing), when I receive criticism or perceive judgement from others, when I’m fatigued, when I am in new situations, and when I’m not practicing good self-care (eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep).

When I’m ungrounded I feel anxious and fears plague me. My self-confidence is wobbly. I get breathless. I have difficulty focusing and identifying priorities for action. And, I sometimes get depressed. Being ungrounded is no fun!

Once I learned how to recognize when I am ungrounded I began to seek ways to reground myself. Following is a list of some of the ways I get back to center:

  • clearing clutter,
  • getting organized,
  • listening to music I love,
  • reading for information and inspiration,
  • making my space feel better by adding flowers and rearranging art,
  • spending time in nature,
  • weeding (having my hands in the earth),
  • walking my dogs,
  • participating in community with others who have similar challenges,
  • connecting with others who care about me,
  • seeking professional support (in networking, from colleagues, from consultants), and
  • getting coached (yes, coaches get coached too!).

Once I’m grounded again, I’m off and running! I’m focused. I have hope. I have clear intentions. I’m reconnected to myself and I’m productive.

Some people find themselves perpetually in a state of being ungrounded and struggling to be productive. If this describes you, it’s quite possible that you have a brain-based challenge that makes getting and staying grounded difficult (e.g. depression, anxiety disorders, ADD/ADHD). A consultation with a coach or therapist is the best way to determine if your productivity challenges are brain-based and would benefit from coaching or treatment by a therapist. If you suspect you may have a brain-based condition, take the first step by contacting me for a free 30 minute consultation to discuss that possibility.  Consider it necessary self-care to get grounded and be productive.

What knocks you off your center? When you are having difficulty being productive, you may be ungrounded. Notice it. Don’t judge it. Look at your current state with curiosity to identify the cause or causes of being ungrounded. Then find ways to reconnect with yourself, the positive essence of who you are and what really matters in your life. Get grounded and get productive.

Clutter Clearing: Purging and Reorganizing Books to Improve Spirits

Yesterday I reorganized my bookshelves. It was a Saturday morning following two days spent with my mom who has dementia. So what does reorganizing books have to do with dementia? Mom’s condition and needing to make arrangements for assisted living for her despite objections from her and another family member had left me feeling powerless, exhausted, frustrated, angry and sad. Long ago I learned that when I am stressed by uncomfortable feelings, I can calm myself by organizing my space and purging unwanted and unnecessary items.

My husband had gifted me a Kindle for Christmas–which means I don’t have to have so many books in physical form. And, I had been staring at a congested bookshelf from my TV watching chair in the family room. Add in the angst of family struggles, and I was all fired up to clear out books I’d had on those shelves forever without cracking them open. I couldn’t control how other family members think and act, but I could make decisions about those books and create a new order.

I first got real about the novels I intend to read. When I read for pleasure I want to read stories set in places I love. I also prefer to read stories about the personal relationships, not death, war, murder or intrigue. So, I let go all books whose stories were set in parts of the world that don’t interest me, and tossed books that had violent story lines.

Next I set aside books for my husband to check out. He has had a Kindle for over a year and rarely reads a paperback or hardback book. Removing all those books made room for me to be able to rearrange the remaining books.

I ended up with a small collection of novels I feel sure I’ll read. And, there was a small shelf of spiritual/inspirational books that still speak to me. I also kept all the books I know that matter to Bob; professional books, books from childhood, reference books on home repair, and a few odd books on various topics. What gave me great pleasure was to be able to group all my gardening books front and center. When I was done there was a pile of books for Bob to review, two bags of books by the door to go to Goodwill, and a few books to go back to my office.

When I took the books back to my office I found I was motivated to go through all the books in that room as well. Only weeks before I had lamented that I had no room for more books there because I couldn’t bear to part with any of the books on the shelves. But, newly motivated by my success in the family room, I reviewed all the books collected there. To my surprise I found that there were books that could be purged. Others could be moved to the family room shelves. Again I was left with space. And, I was motivated to reorganize the books according to my current priorities.

My bookshelf clearing adventure reminded me once again that all it takes to get me psyched about completing a clutter clearing job is to move the first few items. I immediately felt pleasure once books started moving off the shelves. When they were just sitting there collecting dust, they seemed like an immovable wall. Very quickly I was able to see space and get clarity by clumping books of like type–novels, spiritual books, books on feng shui, etc. And, when I was done clearing and reorganizing the bookshelves in both rooms I felt so much calmer and grounded.

When Bob later went through his books a few were kept and three more bags of books were taken to the front door and then out to my car for donation. I felt so much lighter, and somehow richer. The books that remained on the shelves felt like gold to me, the best of the best. Now when I need a book I’ll be able to go right to it. And, the view from my TV watching chair is really nice!

P.S. It was so much easier to tackle the job of writing several difficult emails regarding my mom and her care once the bookshelves were clear and reorganized!

9 Feng Shui/Organizing Tips to Pop Your Small Business to the Top

Running a small business is hard work. You wear so many hats! So, the condition of your office may not your highest priority. In fact, it might not even make your list of priorities! But, did you know that neglecting your office could be costing you business? Feng shui teaches that what you have in your space and how it’s arranged affects what happens in your life. If you apply that principle to a small business, the condition your business environment affects what happens in the business.

As you look around your office knowing that its condition is affecting your business success, you’re probably thinking, “Where do I start?” Following are nine feng shui organizing tips to help you focus on changes you can make that will give you the most bang for your energy buck.

  1. Place your desk in the command or power position facing the door with a solid wall behind you. In this position your nervous system is most relaxed and you’ll feel most empowered while working.
  2. Paint the room a color, preferably one with energy like a buttery yellow, sage green, terra cotta, or my new favorite–turquoise.
  3. Keep only things that you love or use. Lose the rest! This also applies to books.
  4. Clear things that don’t fit the function of business success, like mementoes from a challenging job where you were not successful.
  5. Fix or remove anything that is broken. Broken things have a negative energy and attract “broke-ness.”
  6. Remove anything with a negative association. Objects hold the energy of people and events associated with them. For example, papers associated with prospects that were never converted to clients hold the association of failure.
  7. Have good lighting, both natural and artificial. Avoid halogen and fluorescent lighting which are not full spectrum, buzz and pop, and give off a harsh light. Pools of light are preferable to overhead lighting.
  8. Display symbols of your success–in art, diplomas, certificates.
  9. Add plants to bring the outdoors inside. Touches of plant green can transform a sterile office environment into a comfortable place to work. Use live plants, silk plants, and depictions of plants in art.

What will you do in your office today to enhance your business success? Start small. Take 15 minutes per day to clear clutter and make positive changes to your office. Over time not only will you find you that you can be more productive, you’ll love working in your office. And, you’re likely to be much happier with your bottom line!

© 2012 Clutter Clearing Community | Debbie Bowie

“Author, Organizing Expert and Feng Shui Practitioner, Debbie Bowie, is a leading authority on clutter clearing to attract more of what you want in your life. If you’re ready to clear the clutter from your life and move your life forward, get your FREE TIP SHEET, “Feng Shui Tips for Instant Success” at http://www.clutterclearingcommunity.com.

Staying Organized: A Mother’s Legacy

It has been a quiet week here in Kilmarnock, Virginia, in the aftermath of my step-father’s death. I’ve been here to make funeral arrangements and support my mother as she comes to grips with the biggest loss of her life.

As is my habit, I’ve watched my mother move through her days both with curiosity and concern. Mom is not only grieving the loss of the love of her life, she is showing signs of dementia. The most obvious sign is poor short-term memory. I’ve been preparing myself for further decline by reading The 36 Hour Day by Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins, a book about dealing with dementia. I know it’s possible that over time she will eventually forget how to do even the simplest of tasks. I dread that time.

My mom has always been very organized. At the moment, for the most part, she still is. It has been comforting to watch her move through her days maintaining order in her lovely home. When she opens mail, she routinely throws away the opened envelopes and junk mail. As she moves from the den to the kitchen, she picks up used glasses and plates to put in the dishwasher. She regularly clears cluttered surfaces, stating that she just doesn’t like to have too much stuff around. Maintaining order is a way of life for her. I am so grateful to have learned the lessons of how to get and stay organized from her. I feel sad when I think about the possibility of her losing that ability to the ravages of dementia.

For now, I take comfort in Mom’s commitment to maintaining order and her ability to tend to her space. What a blessing it is to be her daughter!

10 Tips to Make Christmas a Clutter Free Event

 

 

‘Tis the season to be giving, receiving, and decorating. That means that you will be giving and getting “stuff.” You will also be pulling decorations from their storage places. When “stuff” is moving you have an excellent opportunity to commit to 1) not creating clutter in your home and the homes of those who receive your gifts and to 2) clearing clutter every step of the way.

Following are 10 tips to help you make your Christmas a completely clutter free experience:

  1. Pull out ALL your decorations and evaluate each one. Toss every item that you no longer display EVERY year.
  2. When doing your Christmas cards, either send all the left over cards from previous years to eliminate your supply, or just pitch or donate the extra cards.
  3. Throw away small bits of wrapping paper you have been saving to use for just the right tiny package, but never seem to use, especially the pieces that have gotten scrunched.
  4. Clear out cruddy Christmas bags: those that have taken a beating; those that don’t reflect your taste, and those that are just plain ugly.
  5. Clear crushed bows and snarled ribbons. And, clear out ribbons altogether if you’re like me and, despite your best intentions, you never make or take the time to add ribbons to your packages.
  6. Make your gifts to others items that can be consumed and/or that are perishable, like candles, candies, fruit and baked goods. Consumption or time will assure that those gifts don’t linger long enough to become clutter.
  7. Give gift cards freely. People love to do their own shopping or enjoy a free coffee or meal out. Besides, gift card clutter is smaller and less annoying than ugly sweater or useless knick knack clutter.
  8. Evaluate each gift you get with the Love It, Use It or Lose It method. If you don’t love it or use it, lose it! Express appropriate thanks to the giver and then either regift it, donate it or pitch it. It’s the thought that counts and unwanted gifts only hold negative energy in place.
  9. When it’s time to put new gifts away, take the time to clear clutter in the area where the new gift will be stored. Release the old to make room for the new.
  10. When you put decorations away, take a good look at each item and consider the time it takes and the process involved in putting it out and taking it down. Pitch anything whose significance or beauty do not outweigh annoyance factor.

If you do any of the above actions, you will be doing your part to make the holidays a joyous, peaceful time instead of an overwhelming event to survive. Make clutter clearing a new focus of your holiday activities. It’s the best way I know to feel in control at this busy time of year.

 

Conquer Clutter Clearing Overwhelm: Get a Body Double!

“I get so much done when you’re here!” remarked the weary principal of a public elementary school. That comment caused me to pause and think about what she meant. She is a woman who works non-stop, carrying the workload of at least five people. And, she has been recognized as an outstanding principal in her school system. That kind of recognition doesn’t happen unless the principal is a highly competent leader and manager. In other words, she must be productive every day. So what exactly did she mean?

On reflection, I think she meant that when I’m there she is able to make herself face tasks that she would normally avoid or not get around to doing on her own. The pace and complexity of her job are such that she literally runs from one task/event/meeting to another, dropping books, papers and other printed materials in her office as she flies through her days. Her hit and run method of managing “the stuff” associated with her work eventually results in an office littered with piles of undifferentiated papers and books, each having a very negative, overwhelming energy. Over time their energy becomes not only more negative, but stagnant, making the possibility of addressing them seem like an insurmountable task. Putting out fires is always preferable to digging into piles of old papers.

Why can she tackle those piles when I work with her? First, I take the lead. She gets a break from having to be in charge. I strategically feed her items to address, going from the larger items to smaller items and single pieces of paper. That approach allows us both to immediately see progress being made.

Second, she has support and company from me while doing a task that she normally would avoid. My being there makes the work more like a social event. People in her position, at the top of the leadership ladder, often find it lonely there. Her position of perceived power makes it difficult for her to let her guard down and enjoy the company of those she supervises. I have worked with her for many years. She pays me, but I am not part of the system she manages day to day. Time and experience have proven that I am safe. She can be less guarded and formal with me. I also help ground her so that the anxiety she feels about the possibility of discovering forgotten tasks is more bearable.

Because I am in charge of the process she is free to focus on making decisions about what to keep, what to get rid of, and the priority of each “to do” item we uncover. I also help keep her focused on the task at hand by prioritizing the piles that will be reviewed. I make sure that we make the fastest progress possible.

Judith Kolberg, author of Conquering Chronic Disorganization and ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life, labeled my role as “body double.” Just being in the space with my client increased the odds that dreaded tasks would be faced and completed.

When faced with boring tasks that seem overwhelming, consider finding a body double to help you. I am a paid professional body double. In that role I am fairly directive. But many people just need a non-judgmental, caring person who is willing to be present while they work. The person can assist at your request, but should not take the lead unless they have your permission. Often their presence alone, which makes the task a social event, provides support and grounds them, is enough.

As we were leaving the school following our session my client’s last words were, “Well, I feel better.” You can too! Find a good body double!

Have Realistic Organizing Expectations

In my twelve years of professional organizing I’ve run into many women who are still trying to keep house just like “Mom” did. So, what’s wrong with that? After all, Mom was the role model. There would be nothing wrong with that if Mom’s life was comparable to the lives of women today.

When I look at my mother’s reality compared to mine, there are major differences:

  1. For most of the years that we three children were at home, she did not work outside the home. Therefore, she had much more time to manage all the tasks of running a home.
  2. The pace of life was much slower than it is today, therefore it was easier to keep up with all the chores of running a home. Easier, not easy. It’s never easy to keep up with the demands of raising children and running a home.
  3. There was no instant access to people with voicemail and email, so there were fewer social contacts to make on a daily basis. Mom wasn’t accessible to others at all times, as is the norm today.
  4. There were no computers to distract them from getting things done. Not only that, but there was no need to learn to use new technology like computers, cell phones, email, Ipods, Ipads, etc., activities that take time, focus and energy.
  5. There were fewer activities for children to participate in, therefore children played closer to home and did not require as much transportation.
  6. Academic expectations and involvement in extracurricular activities were such that children still had time to contribute to maintaining the home by regularly doing household chores.

So, given those differences, does it make sense to aim for the same level of organization and home maintenance by the same means? In other words, should women still be trying to do it all by themselves in addition to working outside the home, having more to do because of voicemail, email, computers, etc., more running around to children’s activities and events, and less help? No! That’s a setup for feelings of chronic inadequacy, chronic fatigue, and hating life!

What do I recommend? By all means, don’t compare yourself to your mother! You have two choices: get more help or lower your expectations. Remember that times are different and it’s imperative that you do things differently to achieve the results you want. One of the biggest mistakes moms make these days is to carry too much of the load of home maintenance. Husbands and children get off easy because moms pick up so much of the slack.

Stop it! Ask for help! Hire help! Doing so is imperative today, not optional, given current realities. You have a right to rest, play and leisure time too! Do it! Your health and the quality of your life and that of your family depend on it!