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Imagine you are having coffee with a friend. She begins to tell you that in the next 30 days, she plans to decorate her entire house, make several gourmet meals, buy presents for all her friends and family, attend several get-togethers and parties, bake special treats for charity, and make a clear plan for her next 12 months.
If you’re like me, you would reach kindly across the table, take the hand of your dear friend, and look her in the eye. You might gently ask, “Are you sure you want to do all of that in one month? It sounds like a lot.” Because it is a lot.
December is a special time. When else in the year do you deck the halls, cook up a storm, wrap dozens of presents, send cards to everyone you know — and expect yourself to feel merry about it?
In addition to the decorating, cooking, festivities, and extra purchases, you may be the kind of person who holds herself to a very high standard of perfection. Even if you don’t achieve it, you want things to be as perfect as possible. Sound familiar?
If it does, you may also notice the consequence of feeling rather tired in January and lacking the energy you might usually use to plan for the new year. Or even just to get out of bed.
Honesty: Take a good look at the to-do list you’ve mentally written for yourself this month. Trust what you intuitively know to be excessive, and cross off these things where you are able.
Sanity: Because December really only has three weeks in it, choose only the activities and commitments that will nourish you (now) and sustain you (into January). The last two weeks of this month are so full of activity and preparation that it is a profound act of self-care to plan nothing extra during this time.
There’s even a connection between the holidays and organizing (you knew I’d get to that, right?). The holidays are like a pile on your desk; this season contains some things you love, some things you can let go of, and some things you need to keep. The holidays give you an opportunity to organize what is important to you and to release the rest.
So, from my home to yours, I wish you honesty, sanity, and peace over the next four weeks. More than anything, I look forward to connecting with you in the new year.
For the first time, Inspired Home Office and I are participating in Cyber Monday…
And you win!
Choose any of my organizing ebooks or home study programs and get a whopping 60% off the advertised price.
It’s my gift to you in hopes that your holiday season is peaceful and 2014 is your best year yet!
Check out all your options here: http://inspiredhomeoffice.com/products/!
Every room in our home has a view of flowers, trees, and flowering shrubs.
As you can imagine, our yard in the spring is brimming over with color and greenery. But this time of year is another story.
It’s a story worth telling because it mirrors what is happening right now with some of your projects.
The gardens look like this picture I snapped this morning.
Earth everywhere. Stubby little plants (these are iris) sticking up forlornly. No bees humming. No birds singing. Wet dirt and bare trees.
These little plants won’t produce another flower until May. No buds until April. Not another leaf until March.
But if you waited to plant them in the spring, they wouldn’t produce a single flower.
Just like your creativity.
We often mistake a flurry of activity for the entire creative process. Haven’t you ever compared yourself to someone who’s just released their book, finished a painting, or showed off a knitted shawl? Where do they get all that energy?
It’s a secret: they don’t just conjure it up. The flurry is actually the final step in a long process. Just like you, and just like the plants in our garden, it takes weeks and months of gestating before an idea blooms. Intentional spaciousness is critical to the creative process and takes considerable time (8 months for iris!).
This time of year is a time of gestating. Everything has been harvested and plants are going to sleep. All the tulip bulbs are gathering strength in the dark ground. All the tree roots are growing deeper with the rain. It’s vital. It’s life-giving.
So it is with your creative projects.
My juicy gem for you is this: Give yourself and your sleeping projects permission to gestate. Rather than wake them, tuck them in lovingly and turn off the light. Let them rest. When it’s time for them to reawaken, they will spring to life, renewed!
You may have some projects that are ready to bloom too, but which of your projects are sleeping?
We’re on the very cusp of the time of year that is so important, advertisers have been trying to get your notice since back-to-school. I hope that your last few months have been productive and soul-satisfying. And before we launch into the holiday season, it’s a great time to pause and reassess.
The choices you make over these next two months will determine how rested you feel in January, how prepared you feel, and even how uncluttered your space is. Choose carefully, and you’ll feel clear-headed, rested, and inspired.
Trusting your gut
Your head is not always your friend.
When you’re trying to figure out what to throw away or keep, trust your gut.
When someone asks you if you want to get together the week before Thanksgiving, trust your gut.
When you’re trying to decide whether you should overspend a little to get someone a more impressive gift, trust your gut.
Your gut just knows. Your head? It wants to give you a gazillion justifications and alternatives. Practice trusting what you know. If you notice yourself overthinking, pause and ask, “Hey, gut? What do YOU say?”
Then listen to that soft knowing.
Renegotiating with yourself
Sometimes you don’t listen to your gut. You keep stuff you don’t need, you find yourself overscheduled, and you might even overspend sometimes. It happens.
All is not lost. You didn’t fail. You just forgot to listen to your gut.
When this happens, grant yourself the opportunity to do it again differently. Be kind.
How can you undo what’s been done?
You can toss the thing you kept, for example. You can return the over-spent item and get your money back. You can swap it for something within your budget. See? It’s totally remedy-able. (I invented that word, just for this occasion.) You can undo.
Renegotiating with others
In situations where you’ve committed something to someone else, you can choose to renegotiate with them.
For example, “I really want to attend your party and I’m so thankful that you invited me. When I said yes, I didn’t know that my family was coming into town that same day. I can still stop by, but it would just be long enough to give you my gift.”
Whatever the new terms are, be sure they pass your gut test. Yes, you hear it say. I can do this.
Or “I’m so thankful that you want to know what’s on my wish list. I’ve thought a lot about it and realized that I already have more possessions than I can manage. I would like for us to do it differently this year. I’d like to suggest that you make a donation to a charity on my behalf.”
Or, “I love having our family together for Thanksgiving. It’s so fun to spend time with you. Since we’ve hosted the holiday dinner in the past, I wanted you to know that I’m concerned about the amount of stress I’m under at the moment. I would prefer to eat at a restaurant together this year instead of at our house. What would you think about that?”
Then you work out the details. It takes vulnerability and strength to veer off the familiar path. It can be hard to admit to someone else that you made an error in judgment, but we all do it. Just know that when you focus on what you want and what others want, it’s possible to discover a solution that is workable for everyone.
Note: It’s kind to give anyone affected sufficient notice both to brainstorm alternatives and develop a new plan. Cancelling at the last minute is a renegotiation, but it may have negative consequences on your relationship.
You don’t have to do it all
Everything you’ve ever committed to is negotiable. You may think it isn’t, but it is.
While it’s still early, think about what experience you want for the holidays and how you want to feel in January. (Or come to the Calming the Holiday Crazies call). Trust your gut. And renegotiate when you need to.
This one-day decluttering workshop was so popular in August that I’m bringing it back in October!
Spend a day working on a big organizing project while receiving supportive guidance from me and enjoying the supportive, fun company of other creative women.
You’ll be amazed at what you can do in 8 hours!
Full details here: http://inspiredhomeoffice.com/products/declutter-retreat/
Do you alternately love and dread the holiday season? Join me for a 90-minute call and discover ways to honor the season and keep your heart open. Learn how to quell the fears in yourself and honor the needs of others.
You’ll leave this call with a plan that will help you manage the stress, trim down the stressful activities, and actually enjoy yourself. Best of all, it’s priced for your budget! I hope you’ll join me (recording available)!
Click for details: http://inspiredhomeoffice.com/products/calming-the-holiday-crazies/
Your brain is such a powerful tool that science has yet to replicate its functioning for more than a second.
This eight pound blob inside your skull can dream, solve problems, react to danger, coordinate your body’s movements while dancing, and take in auditory information so fast that you can sing together with others. Your brain is a miracle.
Under stress, however, your brain thinks you’re being chased by a tiger. Its only priority becomes survival. When you’re over-committed, short on time, and low on patience, your heart races, you feel short of breath, you want to run, fight, or hide.
This is your brain on stress!
Perhaps you’d find it fascinating to know that when you’re being chased by a tiger, your memory doesn’t matter all that much. Since the number one priority is escape, your brain starts to short circuit. Under stress, your brain’s ability to store and retrieve information drops dramatically. Maybe you’ve noticed.
Although I’m sure you wouldn’t want to, a great way to increase your stress in those circumstances is to rely on your memory for important things. “Oh, I’ll remember that,” you say. Under less-stressful circumstances, you probably could. But under stress, your memory fails, thanks to all those stress hormones swirling around in your blood.
Here are some examples of memory lapses that may sound familiar:
Not only will relying on your memory increase anxiety and stress – it also increases how likely your something important will be forgotten. So, barring a week-long Carribbean vacation to relax, how can you increase your remembering abilities?
While I do hope you find some calm in your life, your brain still processes two things very well – even if you’re running like crazy. These two things are visual information and sensory (touch) information. The trick to remembering things in harried times is to give yourself visual and kinesthetic reminders.
Let’s go back to our examples for ideas:
No matter how stressed you are, using your eyes and body can be powerful memory triggers that relieve stress and anxiety.
This week’s juicy gem: Don’t rely on your memory for important stuff. Put it somewhere (visual or kinesthetic) and be happy.
Got ideas to share? Comment below!
Maybe you went to the office supply store and found the perfect organizer to keep you on track – with lines in the right places and dates in the others. It had enough room to put notes and important details.
But it didn’t work. You forgot to use it. Not only was it money down the drain, but hope went with it too.
Maybe you found that perfect organizing expert who addressed how to eliminate your clutter at last. You picked up 15 things. You cleaned out your sink. And you grew to loathe, resist, and even resent following rigid techniques.
And they didn’t work. You rebelled. And the disorganization you wanted to solve persisted. Time went down the drain and a little more hope with it too.
Maybe you’ve used the tried-and-true organizing technique of ignore-it-and-it-might get better. If you have, it’s understandable. Especially considering all the hope you’ve lost on your journey to getting organized. Ignoring it gave you a precious but superficial reprieve. Your space is still full of unsorted things. There’s not enough room for you or the things you want to do.
So ignoring doesn’t work long term. And if you’ve tried all of these things and more, you might feel like there’s no hope for you at all.
But I’m here to tell you that you have three amazing, precious, untapped gifts within you that offer everything you need to solve your disorganization: your brain, your intuition, and your creativity.
These three gifts might not seem at all related to organizing, but they are at Inspired Home Office. They’re the same three tools you use in your life and your work. You think, you intuit, and you create. These gifts are so vital to you that you probably don’t even realize you’re using them.
You can use your brain, your intuition, and your creativity to get organized. No fancy equipment needed. No regimented routine to follow. You don’t even have to muster any hope – at least to start out with.
(As a side note, I’m offering a free class this Thursday (details below) about this very topic. Excited!!)
Three reasons for hope
Tool #1: Your brain
Here’s how I love to look at it: if a friend came to you with a problem and asked for solutions, how long would your list of suggestions be? Long! You have a brain that is wired for problem-solving!
The trick to using your brain in organizing is to suspend disbelief that you can’t get organized. This is hard for many people because of all the supposed evidence of failure. If you can stay out of negative self-talk long enough, your brain can generate amazing, intelligent solutions to your struggles.
Tool #2: Your intuition
You’re the kind of person who feels answers sometimes. You get a palpable, colorful knowing in your belly about your choices. Of course, it’s a lifelong journey to trust this non-rational knowing and use it to guide you, but it’s there.
When you bring this same gift for creating something out of nothing to your organizing, miracles happen. You get excited about new systems you’ve created. Your ideas stick and work long-term.
It bears repeating: you’re not broken.
You’re okay as you are. You’re not hopelessly disorganized (even if it seems that way).
If this approach sounds worthwhile to you, I hope you’ll consider attending my complimentary class this Thursday (details below)! Either way, my deepest wish is that you begin your journey toward order by embracing all of who you are (your brain, intuition, and creativity). There’s hope for your disorganization. You are a miracle!
Details about the free class:
Inspired Organizing Sneak PeekOctober 3, 2013 at 9:30am Pacific (your time) for 1 hour
Conference number: 712-432-9998Passcode: 1036056#No need to register — just call in and get inspired!
You’ve probably heard of people having a morning ritual and think… Well, that sounds nice! A cup of tea, puttering in the garden, a little yoga. Delightful. But really possible?
Even with the best of intentions, reality sets in. The alarm goes off before you’re ready to wake up. The phone rings (or beeps with a text) that derails you before you even know what your priorities are for the day. The milk has gone bad and – is it okay to put whipped cream in your coffee?
The morning ritual goes out the window.
Really wanting to make a go of it, I tried printing out to-do lists with written instructions for what to do first thing in the morning, then next, etc.
My inner floaty, creative self balked. “Structure?!” she asked incredulously. “I don’t do structure!” So that was a bust.
I can’t say I’ve perfected mine, but I have been experimenting with a new approach to doing a morning ritual that is working!
Everyone knows that a picture is worth a thousand words. Images tell a story like no words can.
Instead of written list, I drew a visual map – pictures of how I want to spend my morning – on a big piece of sticky flip chart paper (I LOVE sticky flip chart paper!). The I posted it on the door of my office, so it’s the first thing I see as I am just waking up.
Can you see how different the images are from written steps? Because it’s not a structured, bullet-pointed list, it gives me freedom to proceed however feels right. Sometimes I do them in a creative order and other times I skip half of them depending on how I’m feeling that day.
Best of all, it’s working long-term! Sometimes when I start new habits like this, they fall away after a while. When I was recovering from my surgery, it would be a perfect time for me to lose the new habit. I rested all day, did very little except read, and stopped using my visual map completely.
Here’s the surprising thing: Now that I’m back on my feet, I’m still using that map! I’ve picked up right where I left off with my morning ritual. Today alone, I’ve done at least half of the things I’ve drawn.
If this sounds intriguing to you, take a half hour to think about how you’d like to start your day. Reflect on the activities nourish you, sustain you, and help you feel prepared to meet the day. Then spend the rest of your time drawing fun symbols that represent each idea.
Hang it somewhere you’ll see easily, without having to look for it. Then notice whether it is serving its purpose.
Another idea? Draw a new one every season, since each has its own focus and energy. The likelihood, for example, that I’ll be out in the garden mid-winter is low. So I’ll draw a winter visual map that has activities I enjoy during that particular time of year.
So, grab some markers! I’d love to hear how it goes for you!
Imagine my shock last week, when the emergency room doctor hovered over my bed and said in a kind, direct way, “We have to take out your gallbladder.”
As I’ve been recovering, there have been some jokes about how removing my gunky gallbladder was extreme decluttering.
A week later, I’m doing much better. The thing that has surprised me is the difference between my time (brain) and my body’s time. My body is a part of nature and it heals on its own schedule, processes the anesthesia, digests, rests, recovers, and mends as it will. I can do very little to accelerate these processes except to make peace with the time they take.
Meanwhile, my brain gets worked up about all the things I have to do, should do, and need to catch up on. But my body just takes its time.
Maybe you’re feeling like this as we launch into fall. It’s the time of year when we kick into gear and make ambitious goals for ourselves. We’re rarin’ to go – but we sometimes forget about this beautiful, precious container we live in that won’t be rushed.
Ambition is great. Just go gently.
The reality is that autumn lasts about 11 weeks. It’s not that long before the ThanksMasYear holiday season arrives in the US and derails our best intentions.
If you have goals for the fall, I suggest that you pick a few precious ones that get you closer to becoming the person you want to be and living your dreams. Keep it simple.
Recall a peaceful moment from the summer. See if you an integrate this peaceful groundedness into your work pace.
Choosing a focus word for fall is also helpful. How do you want to feel over the next two and a half months? Use these words to guide your priorities.
Most of all, as you launch into these productive months, give yourself permission to rest, to connect with loved ones, with the Divine, and to pace yourself. With this strategy, your goals are more likely to be manifest because you’re nourished along the path. This honors your body and it’s natural needs and cycles.
If these insights from my own surprise surgery inspire you to proceed peacefully this fall, it will all be worthwhile. Besides, if I can do it, so can you.
Wishing you peaceful, grounded, and focused inspiration for fall
Want to share your fall goals with me? Feel free to comment below!
Once I heard a story of a woman who handled an entire remodel of her home by herself. Her husband was seriously impressed by her organizational skills, the management of workers, and the overall improvement of their living space, yet he deliberately waited until the very end of the project to compliment his wife. He wanted to make a big gesture at the end. When I heard this, I was incredulous. Why wouldn’t he compliment her along the way?
When you’re doing something challenging, something that takes a long time to complete, or trying to change an ingrained habit, you deserve an uplifting boost along the way.
If you want to experience how good celebrating feels, I invite you to share some of the things you feel proud about doing and being this summer. You may find yourself feeling newly energized for fall!
I look forward to celebrating with you!