Make space. Find peace. Feel joy.

How do you relax?

2 September 2015

I think regular rest and relaxation is very, very important. It’s so easy to get caught up in work and chores and family and never take time for yourself. That’s particularly true, I think, when you struggle with disorganization and feel like you should spend all your spare time “getting organized.” (That’s a fallacy, of course.)

I think it’s wonderful when we can have some sort of outlet that allows us to relax. That can be going to movies, doing crafts, meeting with friends, exercising. For the last ten years or so, that outlet for me has been knitting, which I can do while I watch tv. But in the past year or so, I’ve been knitting less and less. I’m not sure why; I think I just needed a break. I suspect I’ll get back to it when the weather gets colder.

Recently, I’ve hopped on board the coloring craze. I had no idea that coloring books were being produced for grown ups. Their designs are more intricate than what we remembered coloring as kids. I visited a friend who had a coloring book she kept for relaxation, I jumped at the chance to color again.

When I got home, I went on Amazon and bought a coloring book called Creative Coloring Inspirations, by Valentina Harper and a set of Prismacolor Premier colored pencils.

Here are some of the favorite pages I’ve colored. Even though my husband makes fun of me a little, I find it very relaxing to consider the colors to use and to gently color in the shapes. I also love that I get a little twinge of satisfaction when I finish a page.

how do you relax?

coloring for relaxation

adults can color too!

(These are all done with Prismacolor Premier pencils, though I’ve just ordered a small set of Tombow art markers to play around with.)

I’ll be starting a new knitting project soon, I’m sure. But in the meantime, I’ll continue with my coloring. Yesterday, I ordered Sonic Blooms from St. Louis artist (and friend) Kat Kissak’s etsy shop. And next month I think I’m going to order this Secret New York coloring book when it comes out.

What about you? What activity relaxes you?

Today's truth

27 August 2015

This phrase keeps coming to mind and I’ve probably said it to five clients this moth. So I thought I’d make it into a graphic to share with you here. (I used the website Canva to create it.)

the less you have the more you love

If you keep everything, nothing is special. If you keep just a few things, you can love it all.

Worth repeating: Making your move easy(er)

25 August 2015

This past weekend my team helped a wonderful client get her spacious home unpacked after a move. It was fun and stressful simultaneously. And it was made more stressful by the fact that the movers, who packed the home, did a terrible job of labeling the boxes. So this morning I thought I’d blog about best practices to make a move easier, and then I saw that I did that a year ago. Instead of reinventing the wheel, I’m presenting last year’s blog post, written after we did a couple of unpacking jobs. If you have a move coming up, please read this!

Make your move easier

A supply drawer we created while unpacking a client

Moving is stressful. There’s pretty much no way around it. Even if an employer is paying for the move and you have the movers pack you, there are a lot of details with which to contend and it’s a hassle. Working with a professional organizer can help, but even so, the process is stressful.

I’ve recently helped several clients settle into their new homes by bringing in teams to unpack and organize their belongings. All of them were packed by the movers. Observing how the unpacking and organizing process went, I’ve identified a few ways to make the move easier:

  • Start early. It’s easy to procrastinate on decluttering, packing, and making logistical arrangements. But the more time you can give yourself, the less stressful the process will be—and the more likely you are to avoid last-minute crises.
  • Declutter before the move. If an employer is paying for the move, you might be inclined to delay decisions about letting go of stuff until after you see how it might fit into your new home. But believe me, by the time you’re in the unpacking phase of the move you’re going to be tired. And the fewer decisions you have to make when you unpack, the happier you’ll be. Less stuff = easier move.
  • Go through the unopened boxes from the last move. If you’ve been in your home awhile and there are still unopened boxes in your storage area, don’t just move them. Open up those boxes and find out whether the items inside merit the space you’re giving them and the effort and money involved in moving them.
  • Categorize before packing. If each box contains a category of items, unpacking is much more streamlined, and less frustrating. It can also make it easier to find an individual item before you’ve finished unpacking. If you don’t organize before you pack, you’ll end up with a hodge lodge of items in each box, which can create headaches when you’re unpacking.
  • Mark the boxes for the destination room. If the layout of your new home is different from the old one, try to mark the boxes for delivery to the appropriate room in the new home. That way you’ll be able to stay in the room that you’re unpacking.
  • Try to unpack as much as possible as soon as you move in. I’m typically a big fan of little and often, and if you need to break down unpacking into tiny chunks in order to get it done on your own, so be it. But if you can power through the unpacking process so that you get rid of boxes and get settled, the transition will be easier.
  • Unpack the kitchen first. I think it’s hard to get a semblance of normalcy until your kitchen is unpacked. When you can make coffee in the morning and fix yourself a snack, life is better. Eating off of real plates rather than paper plates will make you feel like you’re home.
  • Let go of perfection. Don’t get bogged down in the unpacking process trying to decide the perfect place to store items. You can always improve on it later. Just choose a location and see how it works.
  • Enlist help. Unpacking a home on your own can be overwhelming. Enlist the help of friends, family or a professional organizer (or organizing team). In the last two unpacking jobs we did, we were able to get the entire homes unpacked in two days. It felt like a miraculous transformation—from a sea of boxes to a comfy home in two days. The clients still had tweaking to do, certainly, but they were able to get in with their daily routines.

Yes, moving is stressful. But it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. With a little planning and forethought, you can make it relatively easy.

Worth repeating: 5 questions to ask yourself before getting rid of paper

20 August 2015

Paper is one of the toughest things for people to make decisions about. Three years ago, I wrote this post to guide you on letting go of paper. It’s still relevant today.

Sometimes when I work with clients, I realize that they’ve hung onto a lot of paper out of fear. They’re afraid that they’ll toss or shred a piece of paper and find out later that they need it.

When you’re afraid to let go of paper, before long you get overrun. Then you add a feeling of overwhelm to the fear and becomes really hard to go through the paper.

So to make things a little easier (and perhaps take away some of the fear), here are the five questions I suggest you ask yourself when you’re trying to make a decision about whether or not to keep a particular piece of paper (particularly paper related to finances):

  • Can I get this information online?
  • Can I replace this paper if necessary?
  • Have I kept this type of information in the past and, if so, did I reference it?
  • Can I scan this document and keep it electronically?
  • What’s the worse that can happen if I get rid of this?

The fact of the matter is that very few papers are irreplaceable. So fear of getting rid of them is pretty unwarranted. You can always ask your tax advisor or your financial planner for advice. But hanging onto unneeded paper can weigh you down.

Why not take a few minutes now to go through your file cabinet and get rid of some outdated paper? (Don’t forget to shred anything with identifying information like social security numbers or account numbers.)

Welcome back, Itso bin!

13 August 2015

In 2011, I wrote a blog post in praise of Target’s Itso bin. I was inspired to do so because of a great post by my friend and colleague Aby Garvey on the Simplify 101 blog.

Aby had turned me on to the Itso bin, a rather non-descript plastic bin. It’s slightly narrower than a plastic shoe box, with higher sides and no lid. Aby showed me all sorts of great ways to use Itso and became my go-to container. I bought them whenever I saw them. I used them in my own home, as well as with clients. And then, in 2013, Target discontinued them.

This year, in what feels like a storage-solution miracle, Target has brought back the Itso bin. The color is different—it’s more milky white than translucent (they call that color “sour cream,” which seems kind of icky to me), and it now also comes in smoky gray and blue (below). But the shape is the same and they’re still very useful.

Target's Itso bin is back!

It appears they’re available only in-store on not online. I check for them when I’m in Target and more often than they don’t have any. But I just wanted those of you who missed Itso to know that they’re back!

Something important to remember

10 August 2015

I made this graphic using the super-easy (and free) website Canva. I created it for social media, but thought I’d share it here because the message is so important. And it’s something I say to clients all the time.

Do you control your things or do your things tend to control you?

Why do we overpack?

6 August 2015

Why do we overpack?

I just returned from an eight-day trip to visit family in Walla Walla, Washington and attend my high school reunion. I had a great time, but I’m glad to be home.

As usual, I packed too many clothes. (That’s a photo of my suitcase on this trip as I was facing down repacking it.) I was getting frustrated, so I started to ponder why I (and I assume others) do this. It’s an irritating practice because it actually makes life on the road harder. As I’ve written about it before, there are benefits to packing light:

  • It makes it easier to choose what to wear when I’m on the road, particularly if I plan my outfits by ahead of time.
  • It makes it easier to find things in my suitcase, if I’m not able to unpack at my destination.
  • It makes it easier to repack to return home if I have unpacked.
  • It saves me room to bring home gifts (or, in the case of trips to Walla Walla, wine).
  • It makes my suitcase lighter and therefore easier to manage during travel.
  • It makes it easy to carry on bags, rather than checking them.
  • It makes unpacking easier.

So why don’t I pack less? I think it’s because I’m afraid I won’t have the clothes I want when I’m getting dressed at my destination, so I pack extra. And it’s easier to delay decisions about what to wear (does that sound familiar?). So packing gets easier but living on the trip gets harder.

I travel again in a few weeks and I vow here and now to pack as light as possible. I know it will make my life easier and that’s the name of the game for me.

How about you? Do you consider yourself an overpacker? And, if so, why do you do it?

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