I recently shared some tips with Tommy John about staying comfortable throughout the day and was included in this infographic they produced. Tommy John is known for (among other things) their boxer briefs for men, and the infographic cleverly ties in the comfort of their product with productivity, using the slogan, “Adjust your business, not your underwear.” I was one of four productivity bloggers whose tips were included in the infographic. Check it out:
I love seeing productivity tied into an underwear campaign!
It might be time to stock up on Forever stamps! This week you can buy a one-ounce first-class Forever stamp for 49 cents. But come January 21, the same stamp will cost 50 cents. According to this article on stamps.com, the price of mailing a postcard will also go up a penny, to 35 cents.
While perusing the stamps selection on the U.S. Postal Service website, I spotted a beautiful new Love stamp (pictured above) that is not yet issued. (It will come out on January 18.) I was pleased to see that I could pre-order it for 49 cents. So I’m going to do that, because spreading love on my letters seems like a great idea. And why not save a penny a stamp?
Last June, I ran a guest post from my friend and former organizing colleague, Julie Hough of Enjoy Mouse Travel about the benefits of working with a Disney Vacation Planner. Julie helps people get the most out of their Disney trip by using her knowledge and amazing organizing skills to plan the trip for her clients. Her services are paid for by Disney, not the client. So if you have an upcoming trip to Disney, by all means call her at 636-399-9725 or email her at email@example.com and let her suggest and arrange for an amazing, stress-free trip. Julie is one of my favorite people in the world and I promise you that working with her will be a joy. She absolutely loves Disney.
The reason I’m posting this today is that Julie was our local Fox affiliate last week talking about five ways to save money on a Disney trip. These simple ideas add up to an amazing $1400 savings for a family of four on a week-long Disney trip. So if you’re Disney oriented, watch this video! Then call Julie for your next trip.
I am thrilled to be a part of the new (early spring 2018) issue of Secrets of Getting Organized magazine from Better Homes & Gardens Special Interest Publications!
This beautiful magazine is chock full of really great organizing ideas (and beautiful photographs—it’s truly organizing eye candy). I was one of a dozen professional organizers from around the country who were interviewed for the magazine, and I’m quoted in three of the articles (Stop Paper Pileups, Goal: Conquer Media Room Clutter, and a kitchen-organizing article called In the Zone). The 96-page magazine is free of ads and full of great advice. I encourage you to pick up a copy wherever you buy magazines. It will remain on the newsstands until March 25.
Here’s the cover. Isn’t it lovely?
I’m really excited that my friend, Dacy Gillespie of mindful closet, has created a live e-course that can help you make space in your closet and time in your life for more enjoyable things than getting dressed. Dacy has worked one-on-one with over 200 personal styling clients to help them minimize their wardrobes and shop mindfully. (Can you see why we’re friends?)
This course, called Making Space, will take you through the step-by-step system that she uses so successfully with clients: defining your style, editing, overcoming common stumbling blocks, and creating a mindful shopping list. The course is presented in the form of PDFs, videos, a private Facebook group for discussion and a weekly live Facebook Q&A. By the end the course, Dacy says you’ll have a closet that contains only things you love and wear. I’ve been experiencing that for over a year and it’s a wonderful thing.
The course is four weeks long. Every Sunday, you’ll receive an email with the class for the week. In each class, there is a video to watch, workbook exercises to complete, and homework for you to do in your closet. There will also be a private Facebook group where you can share about your progress with the other class members and interact with Dacy. Every Thursday at 7pm cst, she’ll do a Facebook Live session in the private group to answer any specific questions that may have come up for you during the week’s work.
The course starts on January 14 and there are a limited number of spaces available. It goes up for sale today and if you sign up before January 8, you’ll receive a $50 discount. So the price from January 5 to 8 is $147 and it goes up to $197 on January 9. I think that sounds like an amazing, cost-effective way to create a closet that brings you peace instead of tension!
For more information, and to sign up, go to the Making Space page. (This is an affiliate link, which means that Dacy will give me a commission if you sign up. But I would have publicized this great course anyway.)
Please comment here if you take the course. I’d love to know how you like it!
The Central Library
I love this week between Christmas and January 1. I’ve always been inspired to organize and plan during this special week. Yesterday I took a whole day to focus on my goals for the coming year. I call it a personal retreat.
In order to stay focused on this, I knew I needed to get out of the house. So I planned a little itinerary, so I could shift locations as I shifted my planning focus or activity.
I didn’t need any library resources (beyond wifi), I just wanted to be in beautiful, quiet surroundings. At the library I worked in two different rooms; those two mini-sessions were divided by a quick bite in the library’s cafe. Let’s pause for a moment to appreciate how cool it is that the library has a cafe!
I prepared for the day by getting up to date on my financials, so I could compare this year with prior years. And I also took the time on Tuesday to create a list of accomplishments for 2017. I do that every year and it’s a really fulfilling activity. It’s so easy to forget the great things that happen in the year and focus on less-great happenings or those things that didn’t happen at all. I also created a list in Evernote of what I hoped to accomplish by the end of the retreat day.
On retreat day, I packed my tote bag for my various locations. The tools I used included my laptop (primarily I used Evernote, Word, Quickbooks and Numbers) as well as my mind-mapping notebook, which I used to brainstorm ideas with myself and to also review the year’s mind maps. (I tend to use mind mapping when I’m trying to puzzle out a problem.) I took along some lined paper as well as a smaller unlined spiral notebook. And I took pens of various colors and thicknesses. I loved having an abundance of tools at my disposal so I could choose what I wanted to use as I shifted gears.
One of the first things I did was take a look at the goals I’d come up with at last year’s retreat. They were divided into four categories, all of which are important to me: Peace of Mind Organizing, Organize Your Family History (my genealogy website), genealogy research, and personal/family. I did a good job of achieving those goals in some areas and fell short in others.
I consulted this year’s goals as I crafted last year’s goals. I noodled around some ideas I’d been thinking about for a few months and I came to a few conclusions. And I wrote some concrete action steps for achieving my goals, as well as some habits I thought would support achieving the goals.
One thing I just realized I didn’t do yesterday, but which I usually do, is come up with my Word of the Year for next year. I actually did think of one last week (Spaciousness), but I would like to take myself through Christine Kane’s Word of the Year Discovery Tool to make sure that Spaciousness is right. (In 2017 my word was Fearless and it was helpful!) I’ll do that this week.
For me, taking a solid day to think about the coming year and reflect on the past year is one of favorite end-of-the-year activities. I’m hopeful it will pay great dividends!
I’ve been a fan of Courtney Carver of Be More With Less since I heard her speak in St. Louis about her Project 333 minimalist clothing challenge. I immediately accepted the challenge and have been enjoying my tiny wardrobe ever since.
Courtney has a new book—out today!—called Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much More. When her publicist invited me to interview her for a Q&A for this blog I jumped at the chance.
I really enjoyed reading Soulful Simplicity, in which Courtney takes us on her journey toward simplicity, letting go of excess clutter, debt, and responsibilities. She describes the many ways it has benefited her life (including improving her health) and gently guides us to embracing simplicity in our own lives.
I heartily recommend the book for everyone who feels they’re surrounded by too much stuff or overwhelmed by life’s choices or just not living the life they see for themselves. The book inspires, it doesn’t goad. It’s a quick and fulfilling read.
Here are some highlights from the enjoyable 45 minutes I spent with Courtney on the phone.
Why did you write this book?
I wrote the book to go deeper than where I’ve gone with the blog. And also because as much as I love hearing from experts and learning from experts, I am much more moved by learning from other messy humans, like myself.
I love that message, but I think of you as an expert!
I definitely don’t consider myself an expert. In fact, I think I’m just learning along with everyone else, and just sharing the experiments and the different things that I’m trying. I’m learning just as much from people who are doing the same thing or doing other things.
I just think it’s so important that we share our stories. I think so often there’s so much of ourselves that we don’t share and so we secretly think that everyone else has it all together and we’re the only people who don’t. On some level, during some time of our life, we’re all a little bit of a mess. And if we share that more openly, it’s less scary to go through. I know I pretended for a long time that I had it all together. And I definitely didn’t.
I think those are wonderful reasons to write a book. I’m curious, when you started your journey, what were some of the biggest surprises that you encountered? Or the things you didn’t expect that happened?
I didn’t really have specific expectations about how things would turn out, so I was really surprised at how much more present I was by letting go of things. I knew of course that by letting go of clutter, there would be more space. That seemed obvious, but that there would be more implied space, more mental space, more heart space, that really surprised me.
How long did that take for you to observe that?
I would say I could notice it, little pieces of it, but when it really set in it was probably a couple of years into it. Because at first you’re really focused on the changes that you’re making and you’re actually adding a little bit to your plate when you’re taking on bigger projects. So it can be a little daunting because you think “I’m really overwhelmed, do I really want to do more to become less overwhelmed?”
As I was reading the book, I was wondering how with your job, and everything going on with your health, you were able to fit in all the changes, including the decluttering and blogging?
I was definitely adding more in, but I was so excited about the changes that I was making and the progress that was happening that it actually lightened things up a little bit. Even for instance, when I started my blog, I was working full time. I didn’t enjoy my job, but working on this other thing, even though it was more hours spent working, I knew it was leading to something that would help me get out of that job. It made me not hate the job as much once I started doing something that I was really interested in.
It probably felt like the beginning of an escape path. Rather than feeling trapped in your job, you were working on something you enjoy that might allow you to let go of your job.
Definitely. Instead of spending that extra time after work complaining and whining about my job or thinking about how much I hated my work, I was actually working on something I cared about.
You started this journey after you were diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The changes you made to your life, including improving your diet, reducing clutter, and eliminating debt actually improved your health and allowed you to live without medicine for MS. Why do you think that is?
I think the biggest thing I would point to is the reduction of stress. Letting go of the stress of the debt and the clutter. And the stress of really fast-paced life. The stress of being someone who I wasn’t. Doing work that was really outside of my heart. That was all very stressful. But when you’re in it, it feels normal. It feels necessary. You convince yourself that it’s up to you to hold all these pieces together no matter what the cost, until you break down to the point where you can’t hold anything together anymore. And then it’s time to rebuild.
Right. That’s a huge message. I think we get caught up in that race, and it feels so necessary, and even desirable for some people, though it perhaps isn’t necessary or desirable at all. But people can get out of it. You created this life for yourself that you’re sharing with us. I think this book would make people who feel trapped feel like there’s a way out for them too. That’s gigantic.
Yeah, when you say desirable, I think you’re right. I think we convince ourselves it’s desirable, because otherwise it’s unbearable.
Those are some powerful words. I think you’re absolutely right. What would you say your favorite aspect of embracing this soulful simplicity is?
That’s easy. My favorite aspect is that I can actually now show up for my life. I can show up for conversations and really be there for the people I love. I can show up for my work and really be there when I’m for instance writing a book or writing a blog post. I have the time and energy to really dive in and stay focused on that one thing. Where prior to really getting rid of a lot of the excess, there was just always too much to be thinking about and dealing with. And so if I was in the middle of a conversation with you, I would probably be also checking my phone, or thinking about my to do list. If I was writing something I would also be checking email and social media, or something like that. I would try to do too much at the same time, which I could kind of gloss over and do that, but I would never be making any real connections. Never be writing anything of substance, and never be really content with my connections to people or projects.
I really believe that we get more freedom when we have less stuff, and you’ve expressed that so well in this book. The book isn’t a how-to, it’s not telling people what they should do. It’s about how you benefited in your life from doing what you did. The way you expressed it is just so clear and so gentle. I love that it’s not directive.
There was more to the interview, of course. I intend to create at least one more blog post from the interview. Stay tuned!
If what Courtney says in this interview resonates with you, please do yourself a favor and read this book. And if you can, go see Courtney talk about the book in person. She’s going on a book tour early next year. (Alas, it doesn’t look like she’ll be coming to St. Louis.) To see if she’s coming to a city near you, check our her book tour page.