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I did it. My friends told me I was the last holdout, but I bought a nice cell phone (Samsung s3) this week and a grown up contract with unlimited everything.
I dragged my feet for a long time because I hate the heads-down culture I see evolving around me and did not want to become part of it. My impulse control is nil. Because my brain is wired for novelty, I dreaded the impact of carrying the Internet around in my hand. Actually, that’s the heart of it: a computer used to be something I went TO for information, much like a huge set of encyclopedias. It sat at a desk in a room you could leave. And leave behind. Carrying the font of knowledge and connection on my person seems like opening a vein and plugging in.
Relish is the word I use to describe my time in nature, in solitude, in writing. I can’t be the only one who resists being reachable 24/7. Now that I *can* text, I must check my phone for them. Must I now reply to email when it pops up, since I’m now able to? The door between technology and my life has suddenly disappeared.
This reaction is normal. Right now, the novelty and newness of this tool seems all-consuming, but in the weeks ahead, I’ll be able to create systems that help my life, not intrude on it.
For example, I’ve turned off every “helpful” notification, changed all the ringers and chimes to be soft and not grating, and have only shared the number with a few people. Yet, now that I can text, I’m sending more of them and checking in more often.
Still figuring things out, I’d love your thoughts. How does your phone affect your life (positively or negatively) and what do you do to moderate its intrusions? Your thoughts and ideas are welcome!
My recent Summer Special announcement brought a flurry of emails about organizing, decluttering, and other stuff you’d rather not think about.
One exchange about the declutter process was so poignant that I asked permission to share it here, in the hopes it might give you help and hope too.
Paula B. wrote:
I have a question for you, and I really don’t think there is an answer (!) or an answer that will work for me.
It has to do with decluttering when it is virtually impossible.
My two grown children are not yet fully on their own. They are independent and mostly out of the house, living elsewhere, but not yet settled anywhere where they can take all their furniture/boxes of books/clothing/supplies with them. They have no storage where they are, no room to call their own, etc.
So, the boxes sit in my house, in various rooms and piled high throughout the basement.
1. My garage is not big enough to accommodate everything
2. I don’t want to pay a storage facility to house them
3. Since I sometimes have water issues in the basement I don’t want to move the furniture to the basement
4. It is a lot of stuff. A lot of boxes. A lot of loose piles. not a huge amount of furniture but some antiques that need to be cared for carefully enough.
So, while I see this conundrum as impossible, I am wondering if you, or your readers, can somehow see something differently?
Goal: I’m not really looking for organizing tips. I’m really looking for a way to get the stuff out of my house, but still available for when my kids are in a position to move it all. A way that doesn’t cost money (that’s the clincher).
Any possibilities here?
Here is my reply:
Man, do I get that. It’s huge. I talk to people all the time who are storing things that don’t belong to them. It’s a kind thing to do, especially as a mom, but reading between your words I see there’s also a cost.
What hits me is the volume. The massiveness of it all. It must feel a bit overwhelming at times. I’m also struck by the fact that it’s at risk of getting damp, moldy, even wet (at least the stuff in the basement). That’s no small thing.
I agree that you don’t need organizing tips. You don’t even need to get organized. You just need that stuff out of your house.
And yet you can’t foist it on your kids, given their current situation.
Here’s what I see: the elephant everyone is stepping around is the assumption that everything in those boxes is important and must be kept safe. This may not be true. It’s likely that at least half of the stuff they’re holding is old, unimportant, even dated.
I’m not a mom, so I’m not qualified to give advice on parenting. What I see, though, is a need for determining *what* in those boxes is worth keeping. Although you may not be able to get rid of all them, reducing the actual number of boxes might give you the ahhhhh you’ve been seeking (and need). At least until they’re gone for good.
If you decide to go this route, expect some pushback (either from inside you or from your kids). They’re used to you keeping this stuff for them. Asking them to sort through it is may come across as a “mean mom” thing.
The fact is, it’s your house. You are doing them a favor. It’s 100% okay to advocate for yourself and your space: “I’m still happy to keep your stuff, but can we go through the boxes and get rid of anything you don’t really like or need anymore? I need less stuff in my house.”
Those are my thoughts. It’s not a final answer, of course, and if you decide to follow through on it, there’s a lot of work ahead of you (and them). What you gain in peace, spaciousness, and self-respect is priceless.
Note that Paula’s issue is as much about her desire to declutter the physical stuff as it is about struggling with the role of being responsible for all those boxes. It’s those unspoken assumptions that make other people’s stuff hard to get out of your space.
Paula asked if my readers had ideas. What would YOU do in this situation?
The post Q&A: When grown kids’ stuff seems impossible to declutter appeared first on Inspired Home Office.
It sounds like Jello and Hello, and it’s just as friendly. Trello is amazing. (Yes, I sound like a zealot. Sorry about that. )
I hardly ever use phrases like “have to” or “need to” because that’s not my style. I believe in you and your ability to decide what’s right for you.
But Trello? At least consider trying it. It’s a great solution for organizing the minds of busy, creative people.
Here’s my to-do list this week:
When something gets done, I drag it over into the Done category.
It’s like using sticky notes, except that it lives on your computer, tablet, and/or smartphone. Everywhere you go.
You can create lists like this for every project you’ve got. Here are some of mine:
I am getting so much done.
Yes, it sounds like they’re paying me to say this, but they’re not.
Here’s why I’m so thrilled and shocked and raving: my whole life I thought I was a “paper person.” Meaning, I thought I had to use paper and markers to get really clear about my to dos, goals, and projects.
What I really need is the capacity to move things around. Trello does this. I can move ideas and tasks, reordering them until everything works. Paper and markers are still fun, but I can’t take them everywhere with me. I can’t always move them around, either.
Every current project I’m working on now has a Trello board:
And when it gets down to the little fiddly bits, each card (a.k.a. task) has room for a checklist where you can put specific baby steps.
Like this for advertising our garage sale:
When I check off all four baby steps, I get a green sticker of congratulations.
Like Many online tools, Trello only works when you have an internet connection. Not everyone has one all the time, so if that’s you, think twice before using it.
Once an idea is on a Trello board, you don’t have to remember it. No sticky notes to lose.
I’m getting so much done.
Check it out
I’d love to know what you think!
“60 percent!? You’ve got to be kidding me!”
I uttered this while watching a YouTube video about springtime pruning of peach trees.
The guy on the screen was wielding a pair of loppers like two piano legs with a biting snout. Snip! Snip! Snap!
“In order to bear a crop of large, sweet fruit,” he explained, “a peach tree needs to have 60% of its limbs taken off before it begins to bud.”
I was shocked. This seemed awfully drastic. But when the video cut to images of the mid-summer harvest, the fruit was gorgeous. I’m astonished, but convinced: pruning is good.
* * *
Obsessed is a good word to describe how I feel about peaches. I can’t explain why; there’s just something powerfully compelling to me about an orchard of snowy blossoms, bees happily buzzing, and juice dribbling down my chin as I bite into the sun-ripened, literal fruit of my labors.
This orchard of my dreams doesn’t exist yet; I’m still very much in the imagining and learning stages. That’s why I spent an afternoon (confession: numerous afternoons. And evenings. Okay, days.) watching videos on the care and feeding of peach trees.
Told you I’m obsessed.
After watching this particular clip, a crazy thought occurred to me: there’s a profound connection between pruning fruit trees and the projects/goals list you started for yourself back in January.
Remember that? Back in those early days of 2015, when the year was still shiny-new and everything seemed possible? I’ll bet you got out a notebook or a stack of magazines for collage-ing or doodled on a sketch pad about the things you wanted to accomplish this year. Maybe you went wild with a spreadsheet or a planning app. That’s just how we creative folks roll–gotta get it all out where we can see it.
As we enter the month of March, it’s an amazing time to prune that list.
Now. Before you freak out and glare at me incredulously the way I did at the pruning dude, bear with me.
Have you ever looked closely at a peach tree in spring? Some of the branches just naturally come out of the trunk weak, small, or growing in the wrong direction. If these aren’t pruned off, the very weight of the developing fruit will cause the branches to snap and tear away. This tearing makes the whole tree vulnerable to disease.
Is your list like the tree? Some of your projects may be growing in the wrong direction, not lined up with where you want your life to go. Some ideas might be too weak to bear fruit. Or, if you try to accomplish all those goals, will you feel overburdened and become ill from the strain?
Early spring is a perfect time to revisit your list of goals and look it over really well. If you never created one or have no idea where that list is (’cause face it, it could be anywhere), take some time this week to free-write every possible thing you hope to accomplish this year, no matter how crazy.
Then. Be really honest with yourself about what you can do and what matters to you, really and truly. Consider how much sunlight and nourishment you actually want to pour on each of your projects. Consider the fact that while you’re working through your projects, you also have a body, a home, work, relationships, and financial health to maintain.
When that’s done, remove sixty percent of your ideas. Get out the pen and cross them off. I know. You’re cringing already at the thought. You might hate it.
Be clear that I’m in full support of you achieving your dreams, but being selective about the ones you pursue makes a profound difference in your actual results.
If you don’t prune off some of those idea-limbs, the extra branches will crowd each other out, block the light, and prevent ripening. This means small, sour fruit. Some of your ideas will fall right off your proverbial tree by themselves without developing to maturity.
Here’s the secret that every orchardist knows: you can either be proactive with those loppers today, or you can let life choose for you down the road with completely random outcomes. Your choice.
If you proactively prune your list, you end up with results–big, beautiful, juicy accomplishments you feel so proud of that you’ll want to send them to the county fair for judging. (Oh wait, maybe that’s my dream.) In any case, you’ll have measurable progress in specific areas–a full 40% of your ideas coming to fruition–just because you chose to focus on them. On purpose.
So. If you want savor some big accomplishments (and avoid carrying around metaphorical buckets of green fruit) this year, try something new.
Try spring pruning! It’s a peach!
And please let me know about your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!
The post The Orchard’s Secret: Peaches, projects, and pruning appeared first on Inspired Home Office.
Do you ever have one of those days where you have so much to do you simply can’t focus? Sometimes this happens because you actually have attention deficit (like I do), but lack of focus can also come from stress.
I’m having one of those days of feeling super scattered and unfocused – and we have a house guest coming tomorrow. Ack! Gotta make the best use of my time! (Stress!)
So I just took out the big guns: Not only did I write a to-do list to help me focus, but I got all Franklin Covey with it too and used the Four Quadrants to really narrow down what’s important (using scented markers, of course).
At least I feel more focused. I’ll start with the urgent/important stuff and will just wait and see how I do with accomplishing the rest of the list.
How do you get focused on “one of those days?”
Every year on this day, I’m reminded of a Bill Murray movie and its connection to organizing. Yes, I’ll admit it’s unlikely pairing!
If you haven’t seen it, Groundhog Day features Phil, a TV weatherman who reluctantly and snarkily goes to Punxutawney, PA to cover the mid-winter predictions of the famous groundhog. He gripes to his cohorts about this assignment, half-heartedly does the coverage, and assumes that he’s done at the end of the day.
Phil: This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather.
The next morning, Phil wakes up to find that it’s Groundhog Day all over again. Caught in a time loop, he relives the entire day down to the tiniest details. The next day he does it again and then the day after that – for weeks.
At first, he is astonished. Within a few days, Phil decides that if he has to repeatedly live this day without consequences he’ll do anything he wants. He invents many dark-but-inventive (and funny, depending on your sense of humor) attempts to escape his fate.
Phil: Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.
Eventually, after failing to exit this loop, Phil begins to realize that the repetition isn’t a curse. A change comes over him and he starts focusing on a positive outcome. He begins looking forward to Groundhog Day, springing from bed, inspired by his challenge, rather than resisting it.
For me, the enduring message of this movie is that life comes down to choice. Each day is essentially the same – with the same number of hours, the same cast of characters, and the same core issues inside of us. Given this sameness, we can become apathetic and resigned, or we can find something that calls to us (in the Phil’s case, love) and devote our energies create something meaningful from the time we have.
When I work with people on their clutter and disorganization, the first thing I ask is what matters most to them. Although it’s possible to get organized by focusing on the problems, it’s more inspiring to focus on the desire behind your motivation. Initially, Phil focused on avoidance of pain, rather than moving toward a desired something. When you pause to reflect on why you want to get organized, the effort becomes more meaningful and often yields more satisfying results.
Phil: Do you ever have déjà vu, Mrs. Lancaster?
Mrs. Lancaster: I don’t think so, but I could check with the kitchen.
The other parallel between Groundhog Day and organizing is how it illustrates that many attempts are required before something really works. Many of my clients describe how they’ve tried countless tools and techniques to get organized and, because nothing worked, they conclude that they’ve failed. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Creative people need to experiment; it’s in our very nature. If we write, we try different journals, different voices, and different times of day to write. If we create art, we experiment with a variety of mediums and techniques, learning from each one, and choose the ones we enjoy best. If we create music, we play with volume, tempo, and key until something sounds just right. This is how creativity works.
If you want to transform your organizing efforts, use this same spirit of experimentation. Instead of expecting the perfect solution on the first try, commit to exploring many approaches – from structured planners and apps to wall charts with colorful markers. Play with sounds, smells, and textures.
Embracing your creativity as a tool will support organizing efforts and eventually something will click. Bill Murray’s character tried everything from cynicism, despair, and humor to escape his fate. You’ve probably been down those roads too and trying new things can give you more insight into what works for you.
Phil: Something is… different.
Rita: Good or bad?
Phil: Anything different is good.
In honor of Groundhog Day, I invite you to consider beginning a practice of experimenting with your organizing, trying new things with curiosity, and celebrating both your accomplishments and attempts. With this lighter approach, I guarantee that you won’t need a rodent to predict the arrival of your success.
Happy Groundhog Day!
The post The unexpected connection between groundhogs and organizing appeared first on Inspired Home Office.
If you’ve been reading my blog or newsletter for a while and feel tempted to work with me in 2015, don’t miss the details about my 11-month program called Soulfully Organized in a Year.
It launches today!
Last year’s participants not only have clearer spaces and more effective systems, they feel more confident about bringing their gifts to the world because the clutter doesn’t stop them anymore.
Are you ready to transform your space in 2015 – inside and out?
Sign up for information and join my free call by visiting this link:
When I learned that January is named after a Roman god, my relationship to this month changed forever.
Janus is the god with two faces – one that looks back into the past and one facing forward into the future. I like this imagery because of the inherent balance in it. You’re looking toward the future, yes, but you’re informed by your past.
Two days ago, Inspired Spouse and I sat on the couch to observe our annual tradition of making a tree ornament that lists all our favorite things from the past year. While we found many events to add to the ornament, we both agreed that 2014 sucked (to put it bluntly). It was a hard year for both of us and neither of us feels sad to see it go.
Our very act of looking back and reflecting on the high points and honoring the low ones caused something very interesting to happen: we started talking about how we’d do it differently in the new year. This evolution wasn’t forced or contrived. Informed by the previous year, we both naturally came to the same realization that we could do some major things differently. In fact, we feel excited about the possibilities that 2015 holds.
None of those insights would have come as quickly or clearly had we focused only on the future (which is what resolutions do). The past is where we get our wisdom from. If we’re mindful, we can use the past to guide our actions and choices for the future. Which is exactly why I love the image of a god with two faces. Janus is the bomb.
If you’d like to experience this for yourself, the key element is reflection. Which takes time. In case you hadn’t noticed, you (and everyone around you) may be running around trying to catch up from the holidays, recover from family hangovers, trying to get your finances in order, planning for the year, and resolving to stop eating sweets while you’re at it. (Agh!)
In nature, January is not a time of action (at least in the Northern Hemisphere). Everything outside your window is dormant. I would like to encourage you to consider emulating nature. See if you can do *less* this month. Instead, do more reflecting – thinking of the past, considering the future, trying on ideas for size to see what fits.
You might even do what Inspired Spouse and I did this past weekend and think about 2014’s high and low points… and see what takes root in your heart in the new year. With some reflection, you’ll be informed by the past as you consider the future and will feel new inspiration bubble up within you (and a lot less frantic, too).
Wishing you a happy and satisfying new year!
The post Being two-faced is a good thing (for planning your year) appeared first on Inspired Home Office.
It seems like everyone I know is in some kind of limbo at the moment. Many are waiting for news about a job, waiting for a diagnosis, waiting for the call that a loved one has passed, or waiting for insight about what to focus on in life.
Let’s face it – waiting is hard. Inspired Spouse teases me for occasionally peeking at the last chapter in a particularly suspenseful novel, but I really don’t like not knowing how things turn out. Maybe you don’t either.
Unfortunately life doesn’t come with pages that you can read ahead. The challenge of being a creative, inspired person isn’t always to resolve what is unsettled, but to learn how to be present with not knowing and resting in this place without having answers. At least for now.
Uncertainty can feel particularly uncomfortable if the amount of time you will have to endure it is unknown or interminable. Borrowing from the 12-step tradition, focusing on one day, this day, helps simplify and zero in on what you can control. You only have to live today. By leaving all the other days for later, you become better at trusting that tomorrow can (and does) take care of itself.
I received a powerful lesson about uncertainty when I spent seven weeks walking across northern Spain on pilgrimage. One of the things that terrified me was the possibility that there would be no beds available when I arrived at my day’s destination. I encountered this fear daily. Among my tools for dealing with unknowing were worry, obsessing, walking faster than was good for my body, and racing other pilgrims to the next town. I started to notice that none of these strategies were very satisfying, nor very effective at preventing the frightening outcome.
Over those weeks, and with a lot of practice, I started choosing trust. I began to speak differently to myself. Instead of worrying about the worst possible outcome, I began to tell myself things like, “I trust that there will be a bed available for me.” and “I don’t know where I will stay tonight, but I know that I will be taken care of.” and “I choose to enjoy this moment rather than fill it with fear.” This new self-talk was a revelation.
While I had no evidence that these statements would prove correct, I hadn’t yet found any evidence that the worries or fears would come to pass either. In either case, I was making up a story and I decided I might as well tell myself the one that felt better in my body and soul. Surprisingly, out of 49 nights, I was never without a place to sleep – despite sharing this journey with hundreds of other pilgrims.
Believe it or not, the practice of resting in the unknowing comes up a lot in my work at Inspired Home Office. Many of my clients have been disorganized most of their lives and when they finally decide to improve this area, they want resolution today. Or, better yet, last week! Even in cases of positive, optimistic unknowing, it can still be difficult to be present in today. Yet this is where your power resides.
Although it’s the “season to be jolly,” this may not be where you are internally. If you are in one or more of life’s limbo lands and struggling, my heart goes out to you. If you can, try taking it one day at a time and practice speaking very, very kindly to yourself. If you’re contemplating your new-year possibilities, see if you can consider without committing (just yet). In our hurried culture, it can be real a blessing to allow yourself the spaciousness of not knowing and discover what blooms organically.
Thinking of you and wishing you all the peace this season promises,
In case you weren’t aware, I’m leading a free call tomorrow (Monday) called Overcoming Overwhelm – in honor of announcing the pre-launch of my new book!
Want to feel less overwhelmed?
It’s going to be a fun and informative call! I’d love to have you there live – and the recording will be sent out after too.
Here’s the page to sign up: