Should I Save or Should It Go?

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Originally posted 2008-06-26 10:00:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

People who are collectors love to tell me that things they've held onto for years and years have actually come in handy, so it was worthwhile to keep it. There's often a note of triumph in their voices when they come to the story's punchline, "and I had one!" They assume that I'm against keeping things and they want to head off any suggestions I might have for downsizing.

Elephant
Sometimes, the story is that they decided to get rid of a bunch of stuff that hadn't been used in decades and "the very next day" they needed one of those things. They reluctantly decide it's a big mistake to get rid of anything at all, although they would like to have less clutter. What to do?

I heard a story like the latter one recently and it occurred to me that the storyteller was asking the wrong questions to determine what to keep and what not to keep. He asked himself if he'd used the item in question in the past few years and the answer was no. So, out it went.

But if he had asked, "what will I do if I need this next week and I don't have it?" he would've gotten more helpful answers. Could he borrow one, rent one or buy a new one? Could he farm out the item on long term loan to a friend with the proviso that he could borrow it back as needed? Could he make do somehow with items he did keep? And how would those options feel? If none were acceptable, keeping the item would be the best answer.

The idea is to look into the future ("what will I do?") and not the past ("I haven't used this in years") to make your decision. The future is where you're going to use it (or not).

[White elephant courtesy of Lenny Montana's photostream]

Christine Arylo on self love, success and clutter

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Originally posted 2009-06-01 13:35:01. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

COVERmebeforewe
Creating an organized space makes it easier for you to lay your hands on the things you need and helps you be more effective because you now have time for the important stuff. It's also an essential part of taking care of the most valuable person in your life, yourself. Christine Arylo, coach and author of the new book, Choosing ME Before WE, graciously took some time from her book promotion schedule (you can hear her speak on June 2nd at 7pm in Oakland at Great Good Place for Books) to do an interview for my blog.

Christine is also an inspirational catalyst who uses the power of self-love to help people liberate themselves into the life they really want… or as she likes to say “Dare to Live and Love YOU!” 

Clutter Coach:
Sometimes clutter results from not deciding where to put things, or just not spending the time to put them away. It's a common problem. But what if you're using clutter as an excuse not to move forward in your life, or to insulate you from discomfort?

Christine_Chair_Cropped Christine:
The clutter we surround ourselves with is the symptom, it’s not the disease itself. The clutter is the outcome of something deeper going on within ourselves, and often times it’s protecting us from something we don’t want to be with… or it’s slowing us down from actually getting what we really want in life. If you have a clutter filled life, you have to stop and ask yourself, “What is behind this clutter? What is it a symptom of? What inside of me am I not willing to be with or look at?” And then attack that problem. The clutter will clear itself up from there. If you only attack the clutter without addressing the underlying issue, the clutter will just keep coming back.

Clutter Coach:
It can be scary to commit to a goal like getting organized if it's a big shift from where you are now. Who will you be once you're organized? Will you lose your creativity? How do you deal with the identity issues that come up with any major change, no matter how positive?

Christine:
One simple fact: structure actually creates more freedom not less. When you have form and structure in your life – such as getting organized – you create more space and that creates more freedom, not less. And within freedom, you are inherently more yourself, not less.  This lifetime is about letting go of all the ‘stuff’ that isn’t really who we are – fears, society expectations, bad training, ego, obligations, etc. – so that we can be free to be who we really are. If you can keep that perspective, that your life is a series of steps that brings you closer to your truest essence, it’s a lot easier to take each change one step at a time, stopping to integrate what you’ve learned about yourself along the way.

Clutter Coach:
Habits can be ruts we get into that prevent us from seeing what's really going on, or they can be welcome time-savers that allow us to focus on the important stuff. How can we become aware of our habits so we can evaluate them clearly and choose the positive ones?

Christine:
Notice what continually works well and what doesn't. Then look for the patterns that cause those results. That is where you will find your habits. Obviously, if your habits are producing good results, keep doing them. For the habits that create unpleasant or unwanted results, it’s time to create a new habit, so you need to cut a new internal rut. Literally, you have to retrain your brain to act differently, to follow a different pathway. It takes time but if you treat it like building a new muscle, it can be a lot of fun. The following four step process is one that I use with all my clients and with myself:

  1. Awareness:  You see the truth of your behavior and the outcome it produces. You take responsibility and commit to change.
  2. Reflection:  You still do the habit, but afterwards, you look back and say, “Oh, I did that again. Here is what happened. Next time, I would like to do …”
  3. Change in the Moment:  You notice the habit while you are doing it and you interrupt it, choosing instead to do something new.
  4. Integration: The old habit has been replaced with a new habit, and you no longer have to think about it.

Clutter Coach:
How can becoming accepting and loving of ourselves help us battle that sneaky little demon, perfectionism?

Christine:
Success begets success, so when you feel good about yourself you will naturally create more things that result in you feeling good about yourself.  Perfectionism never leads to success, only distress, so it’s a habit you want to give up for sure! You can do that by doing two things. 1. Set realistic expectations for yourself that you can meet. 2. When you meet them, celebrate! The more you acknowledge your small wins the more they will add up to big wins. Before I go to bed each night I actually say out loud at least 5 successes I had that day. It sounds so simple, and it really does make a difference.

Clutter Coach:
What's your personal favorite organizing trick?

Christine:
If it doesn't have a place to go, find it a home. I notice that
whether it’s my email box or my desk, what causes clutter more than
anything are those things that are homeless. So I immediately create a
place for them to go – whether it’s a new email folder on my computer
or in my filing cabinet.

If you find yourself living among clutter, working harder not smarter, or running around like an energizer bunny gone mad, your life is running you, instead of you living it. Don't feel bad, you’re not alone – we’ve been conditioned to live that way. But do be smart and realize that you need to learn some new habits, skills and super powers to deal with the realities of the 21st century. Also be smart enough to find people and resources that can guide you – none of us can do it alone!

About Christine Arylo
A new kind of self-love expert, Christine Arylo, inspirational catalyst, traded in twelve years of creating powerful images for brands like Visa and Gap, to inspire people to bust through their limiting self-images and self-expectations. As an author, speaker, and coach, Arylo is an expert at helping people to get the success and happiness they want by living and loving their most real and wise selves first. She is the author of Choosing ME Before WE, Every Woman’s Guide to Life and Love, and the founder of the international Madly in Love with ME™ movement. She has appeared on national television and syndicated radio shows across the country, and her opinions have been featured in places like the San Francisco Chronicle, Glam.com and Daily Om.

Shoe Storage Ideas

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Originally posted 2009-06-11 16:00:59. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

When you’re not wearing them, take care of them. That means putting them away. These boots may be made for walking, but they don’t do it on their own. The three keys to good shoe storage are: Easy to use, accessible and spacious.

Habits create ease. When a task is a habit, it’s automatically easier because you don’t have to think about it. Make putting your shoes away part of your current routine. When you come inside, you put your jacket and bag somewhere, right? And I don’t mean on the back of the sofa. Include shoe stowing in that routine. For example, jacket in front closet, bag on foyer table, shoes in bedroom closet.

If that’s too much work, create a daily dumping spot for your shoes; under the foyer table, under the coffee table, floor of the front closet, etc. The only way this works, though, is if you’re willing to do a daily or semi-weekly tidy up when you put the shoes back in your clothes closet. To keep them looking nice, select a spot where there’s room for a few pairs so shoes won’t get jumbled together and damaged.

The amount of work you have to do to put something away is inversely proportionate to the likelihood of you doing it. Clear plastic shoe boxes are orderly and keep your shoes clean and safe, but they are a pain in the neck to use, in my opinion. Taking a box off the shelf and opening it is two movements already! You want storage that’s accessible without reaching, bending, opening, shoving aside, etc.

Shoe shelves Uncrowded space is key to putting away almost anything. Just as your file drawers should never get more than 2/3 full, so you don’t have to use muscle power to wedge things in there, your shoe shelves, cubbies, etc., should be roomy enough so you can access them easily.

Roominess also helps prevent damage to your shoes. If you store 50 pairs of shoes in a space where only 30 will really fit, they’re going to be squashed together and get crushed and scratched. If this is your situation, you’ll have to get creative and realistic about your storage options.

Here are some ideas: Rail shoe storage

  • Move your shoes to the front hall closet if that’s where you hang your jackets.
  • Use shelves at the front door, Asian style.
  • Clear the floor of your clothes closet and let it be only for shoes. Then you can almost just kick them off!
  • Store off-season shoes away from those currently in use.
  • Double up or stack flip flops, slippers and other sturdy, compact shoes.
  • Keep special occasion shoes in boxes on a shelf and put a big photo of the shoes on the end of the box to remind you of what’s in there (this is a good trick if you’re worried you’ll forget shoes that you can’t see).

If you buy containers, make sure they will fit your shoes and your closet space

  • Shoe pockets Chunky heels, boots and platforms won’t fit into shoe pockets
  • Over the rail cubbies are great, if you can spare the rail space
  • Wire shelving not so good for stilettos; the heel sinks through and the shoes can get scraped
  • Baskets are only good for casual shoes that can be bashed up a bit. Best for canvas, plastic and very sturdy leather

My favorite shoe containers:

  • Over the door shoe pockets for low profile shoes
  • Over the rail cubbies for bulkier shoes and for doubling up flip flops and slippers
  • Three-shelf unit under my short hanging items for any size shoe and floppy boots
  • Floor space for rigid boots

Figure out what works for you!

Declutter the Digital

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Originally posted 2008-01-17 12:27:59. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Rule of thumb: it’s easier to organize things when there are fewer of them.

How often do you look through a folder or collection of digital photographs and find only a handful that you want to show to anyone? The rest are too dark, out of focus, more versions of the same thing, make you look fat, or you have no idea why you even took them. If you get rid of them now, it’ll be easier to find the ones you like and share them.

Next time you download your camera, really look at each photo and decide whether you want to keep it. This is also the ideal time to tag your photos so you can find them again by keyword. If you’re making the effort to tag them, the pictures should be worth keeping.

Tags can be very straightforward, such as names of people in the picture, where it was taken, what the occasion was, etc. Also, think about what else is good about the picture, or why else you might want to look at it or share it with others. Is there a fantastic sunset in the background? Is it similar to other pictures you’ve taken in the past (and might want to compare it with)? Is the mood calm or energetic? Do you want to remember what camera and settings you used?

Pitch those Pix
I know, you’ve got plenty of space on your hard drive. But think of decluttering your photo collection as a good-habit building exercise. Review all your possessions regularly and get rid of the ones that don’t fit, are beyond repair, have been replaced by something better, are ugly or you don’t like anymore. If you can make this a habit, you will automatically declutter your life. Automatic is good!

How to Organize Your Wallet

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Originally posted 2008-06-12 10:00:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

It may be small, but your wallet can be chock full of clutter. You don't want to be one of those people who holds up the line trying to find her preferred shopper card, do you? Or the guy with the unsightly rectangular growth on his backside (because we know it's not all money)? Of course not. 

So, empty your wallet and let's see what's in there.Wallet

  • Coupons:  Are they still good?  Are they worthwhile?  If you're not in the habit of using coupons, they can be more trouble than they're worth.
  • Frequent buyer cards:  These can be like coupons.  Only use ones from stores you patronize regularly AND where the clerk asks you for it (otherwise you may forget to present it).
  • Membership cards:  Most establishments will allow you to give your phone number instead of presenting your card.  Much less wallet clutter.
  • Receipts:  Why are you keeping them?  To balance checkbook?  Tax purpose?  Possible return?  Assign a pocket in your wallet for receipts and regularly take them out.
  • Credit cards:  You really only need one, or two if you have a business.  You have to be very organized to take advantage of perks like frequent flyer miles on credit cards.  Make sure using these perks doesn't cause you to buy things you don't need.  And make sure you have time to manage and track your benefits.
  • Scraps of paper:  Dedicate some space in your date book for little notes and ideas.  Reminders should go on a dated page.  Phone numbers into the address book, even if they're only temporary. 
  • Currency:  Keep your bills in denomination order.  Not only is it easier to find the amount you need, but you will have a better idea of how much cash you have at any given time. 
  • Stamps:  Can be handy, but only if you remember they're there.  Otherwise, you'll find them by accident and discover they're 41 centers

See if you can pare down to what you really need and use. The short list:
Driver's license or CA ID card
Health insurance card
Car insurance card
Credit card
Bank or ATM card
BART or other transit ticket
Money!

The Costanza Wallet (George, from Seinfeld) wallet courtesy of shareski's Flickr stream

Manage Expectations with Email

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Originally posted 2008-05-29 09:15:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

People put a variety of information in their email signature files, from business phone numbers to favorite quotations to colorful images of their signatures. I recently got an email that had a very clever sig line, as follows:

"I reply to emails at 8AM, 2PM and 4PM.
Calls returned: 10-11AM, 1-2PM and 5-6PM."

Short and sweet, gets right to the point.

If you find yourself constantly interrupted by emails and calls (and can't seem to resist answering/looking at them), try managing the expectations of your correspondents this way. Tack a similar phrase onto the end of your outgoing voicemail, too.

Multitasking vs. Creativity

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Originally posted 2009-11-10 11:03:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Here’s another, unsung reason that multitasking is not so great: it stifles creativity. I’ve been reading Marc Lesser’s book, Less: Accomplishing More by Doing Less. He focuses a lot on what “doing” is. Much “doing” is what he calls busyness. It’s extra effort we put in because we feel it’s required, or we’re just not comfortable not doing, or we crave activity of some kind.

Often we multitask by listening to tapes while driving, or talking on the phone while taking a walk. It feels good to get those two tasks out of the way by doing them at the same time. Yet when we’re driving or washing dishes or walking around the lake, we’re not really doing just that one thing.

We’re letting our minds wander a bit, observing what’s around us, feeling the soapy water on our hands. Those are the times when insights come to us. I’m talking about “aha” moments such as the famous one Archimedes had in the bath. And this is not just for artists and scientists. Creativity is important in all facets of life.

The next time your find yourself trying to get too much done in too little time by doing it all at once, remember that if you allow some space, some ease to come in, the answers may come with them. You won’t always have a magnificent brainstorm when you let your mind be quiet. Regular practice encourages your brain to think in new ways and make you more productive without working harder.

Peaceful walking from LaPrimaDonna’s photostream

Get Organized with these 52 Simple Ways

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Originally posted 2010-08-09 13:53:09. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

This ebook will help you get organized. What exactly will you get out of it? Lots of creative, helpful and immediately useful tips, including:

  • You’ll get more time. Time to spend the way you want to
  • You’ll be in control of your environment
  • Your life will be simpler
  • You’ll save money. No more replacing lost items
  • You’ll be prepared for the unexpected. Because it’s going to happen!
  • You’ll experience zen-like calm because you can lay your hands on what you need, when you need it

If you use the tips in this book regularly and make them part of your daily life, I guarantee you that your life will become organized and stay that way. Yeah, it’s a commitment, but you can go at your own pace and incorporate only the tips that work best for you.

In the first half of the book, the tips are action oriented and in the second half, they’re are about your mindset. Thinking about your environment and how you interact with it is a huge part of organizing. Make sure you use tips from both sections. You can do it!

Check out some sample chapters here:

Here’s the link to buy the book. You’ll also be getting a complimentary subscription to my monthly ezine.

Add to Cart


“This is the Year” to declutter your life!

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Originally posted 2007-02-09 13:01:17. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Oprah has declared it! This is the year! And if Oprah says it, well…

On Wednesday, Oprah’s guest was Peter Walsh of Clean Sweep. I saw him speak at the NAPO Regional Conference a few years ago and really enjoyed his down to earth, funny style. With clients he’s direct without being mean and compassionate without being indulgent.

One of the clients he worked with on the show actually works at The Container Store!!! That blew everyone away. But one of the recurring themes of their situation was that they hadn’t realized how bad it had gotten.

I once had a client who looked at photos I’d just taken of her cluttered living room and did not recognize it. She had to look back and forth between the photos and the very same room we were standing in before she believed that it was her living room.

With all the input each of has to handle every day, it’s a defense mechanism to stop noticing some of it. You’d go crazy otherwise. But how do you keep seeing it, so you don’t wake up one day under a pile of dirty clothes and dishes?

Here’s an idea. You know sometimes when you walk in your front door you smell something? The fish you cooked last night, or the cat’s litter box? But once you’re inside for a few minutes, you caArctic_cisco_fishn’t smell it anymore.

So, get a pad and a pen, go outside, close your eyes and pretend you’re someone else: your picky aunt, a new friend you want to impress, or Peter Walsh. Then open your eyes and go inside. What do you see? Use the pad to take notes.

Now is not the time to beat yourself up about how it looks. You’re doing reconnaissance here. Just the facts, ma’am.

When you’re done, try to find some patterns. In the show, Peter found that much of the client’s mess was caused by kids’ toys and clothes. The client agreed that the kids had the run of the house. Now they had a specific issue to work with.

In later posts I’ll talk about how to develop a vision of how you want your home to look and how to use that list to hone in on what to do. For now, choose a small area like the kitchen counter and experiment with noticing what’s on it for a week. I have some other hints on my website here.

It doesn’t matter if you clear it off or not during that week; as Peter notes, you can tidy up all you want but until you get to the reason that the clutter is there, it will come right back. So just notice, look for patterns, habits, types of things that accumulate. Noticing what is, now, will help you move toward what you want it to be.

Embrace your personal organizing style

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Originally posted 2012-10-30 20:33:07. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

“I can’t be organized.”

“I never learned about organizing.”

“My mom was a packrat and so am I.”

“My father was super neat and always gave me a hard time about my mess.”

“My grandparents lived through the Depression so they keep everything.”

Have you said any of those things? If so, here’s the truth:

Your ability to be organized has nothing to do with your genes.

It may have to do with your personal history, but only if you want to stick to that story.

Sandra Felton, the founder of Messies Anonymous, says that messies can come from “cleanie” homes or messy homes or any combination thereof. Whatever your experience was, you have the capacity to become a cleanie, or at least move in that direction.

One of my clients told me that her cleanie mother tried to teach her organizing skills and she just didn’t get it. She felt hopeless and dumb. Her story brings up another aspect of being organized.

There’s not just one way to be organized.

Isn’t that great news?

Your thinking style, learning style and personality style all factor into how you organize your world. Your mother may be organized but also visual and sentimental. She crowds tabletops with family photographs. If your style is more “hider”, you won’t grow up with any clues on how to organize in drawers, cabinets or closets because you didn’t witness it. It doesn’t mean you can’t do it, it just means you haven’t learned how yet.

We are suckers for systems that lay out exactly what we should do for success, but then we blame ourselves when they don’t work. Here’s the thing: you need to hack the systems to suit you. Discover and embrace your own organizing style, based on who you are today, right now, and how you like to live.