Thursday, October 17, 2019

Maximizing Your Focus



Your brain is the biggest asset you have in life and how you utilize it can determine how effective you are in your daily life and how stressed you feel.  In recent years, multitasking has been a buzzword that has taken hold in society.  However, multitasking is difficult and leads to errors and stress.  If you try to do too many tasks at once, you’re bound to make a mistake.  For this reason, I believe that you should use your brain to focus on one thought at a time. 

Now, focusing on one thing at a time doesn’t mean that you can’t maximize your brain power to accomplish a series of tasks efficiently.  For example, you can cut vegetables for dinner while waiting for water to boil for the main course.  In this scenario, one of the tasks, waiting for the water to boil, does not require your constant mental focus.  This is not multitasking, but rather proper planning that results in an efficient order of processes.  By utilizing your time efficiently, you take pressure off your brain and allow yourself to focus on a single task at a time before moving onto the next one. 

Setting up a routine is one way to do this.  For instance, if you know you tend to rush around to complete tasks every morning, you might prepare the night before to make your mornings easier.   Instead of rushing to get everything done in the morning, you might prepare a breakfast or lay out clothes for the next day each night in order to smooth out the morning routine and make things more efficient and less stressful. This will help prevent mistakes as well and allow you to put all your focus and energy into one task at a time, which is safer and easier.  Plus, you will have the confidence that you have a plan to accomplish your objectives.

Some tasks, of course, need your complete attention, while others do not.  For instance, chopping wood might require your full attention while folding laundry might be done while also watching TV or carrying on a conversation.  Knowing the difference between what needs complete focus and what does not is important and will allow you to successfully plan and optimize your routines.  This does not mean planning your day down to the minute, as there will always be unforeseen occurrences that will require you to be flexible and accommodating. However, if you have a general layout of simple daily goals that you need to accomplish, it will help keep you organized and on track.  This outline allows you to focus on what is most important in the moment, one task at a time, instead of making you feel like you have to juggle many things at once.  If you focus on just a single item at a time and use a little planning to maximize your brain power, you will see the benefits of fewer mistakes and a calmer mind every day.

For more information, or to get help with your organization needs, visit
http://www.organiz-er.com/

978-376-9606



Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Downsizing After Children


Once your children grow up and move out of the house, your household dynamic will change.  Parents often struggle as they try to cope with this so-called “empty nest.”  It is ironic that the “empty nest” only refers to people as too often empty nesters find that their nest is full of stuff!  It is this overwhelming accumulation of a lifetime of possessions that leads people to call a professional organizer.

I have worked with many families who were experiencing a new life with their children out of the family home and have a few pieces of wisdom to share.  The most common phrase I hear from families is “I don’t know what to do with all this stuff!”  There are a couple main reasons for this.  First, there are often items that children leave behind, sometimes by accident and sometimes on purpose.  Parents don’t know how to differentiate between what items children forgot and what they did not want and so the parents keep all such items, hoping that children will one day return and decide what to do with the items.  Another problem is that parents can’t identify who owns what items and so they do not know who to ask about them and do not want to accidentally get rid of something a child wanted.  I tell parents that their home is not a museum and leaving spaces as they were when their children moved out, with bedroom sets and old memorabilia in place, is not the best use of rooms. 

To avoid keeping extra items, parents need to be clear about expectations with their children and set a date by which children will have taken out all items from the home that they would like.  Putting all questionable items for each person in once pile can help individuals easily sort through items to see what they want to keep.  Another way I have found useful is to photograph items and text children photos.  This way, they can easily decide right away and it does not hold up the organization process.  Another reason some parents don’t know what to do with items left behind is because they are hoping that children might one day want them, even when they haven’t said so.  Some parents believe that children will want certain items, such as furniture or family heirlooms, and will hold onto them in hopes that the children will take them.  This can happen because either parents have not communicated their intentions for the items, or they have ignored their children’s wishes and kept the items in hopes that children will later change their minds about taking them.  Be sure to communicate your intentions to your children, but parents should not keep items that children don’t or won’t want.  Think practically and worry about yourself and your own space.

Even after the kids have made their decisions, parents are sometimes still holding onto or housing items.  One explanation for this is that children do not yet have the space to store everything they want and so they ask for, or the parents offer them, storage space in the family home.  While some parents are okay with doing this for a time, parents can be taken advantage of and are left with piles of items that will never be taken by their children in some cases.  To avoid this, I recommend following a simple guideline: “if it’s your stuff, it should be in your space.”  This might sound harsh, but it works to clear the spaces and minds of parents so they can transition to the next phase of their lives and downsize more easily. 


Again, I would tell you that you are not a storage unit and since your children have become adults, they are perfectly capable of making their own decisions and deciding what they would like to keep and take with them and what they wish to discard.  If you want to remember the room, take a picture!


For more information, or to get help with your organization needs, visit
http://www.organiz-er.com/

978-376-9606

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Daily Activity Wheel

Do you feel like there isn't enough time in the day?  Do you wonder where your time goes or where it is spent?  If so, check out our "Daily Activity Wheel" on our website!



For more information, or to get help with your organization needs, visit
http://www.organiz-er.com/

978-376-9606






Monday, September 2, 2019

How to Find “That” Picture

It is well known how important it is to keep computer files organized.  We create folders and subfolders, often carefully titling files so that we can easily find what we’re looking for.  After all, if you can’t find a document, what good is it?  However, we often do not take the same care in organizing our collections of digital pictures, which can make finding that one picture you’re searching for a monumental task.

With advancements in technology allowing for the storage of thousands of pictures on our phones and in our computers, we have developed a tendency to take more pictures now than in the past since we are no longer limited by film or even SD cards in most instances.  The problem with this arises when all the pictures we take, including the duplicates and mistakes, end up being stored on the cloud, in our phone gallery, or on our computer.  Often, pictures are stored in multiple locations.  Faced with hundreds or thousands of pictures, it’s no wonder that few people want to take the time to go through their pictures before uploading them and dropping them carelessly into folders online or on their computer.  That is of course, if they even upload them at all.  But how do we solve this picture problem?

The first step, ideally, is to limit the number of pictures you’re taking!  I am personally a proponent of taking fewer pictures and spending more time in the moment enjoying your surroundings.  Last year, I went on a road trip with a friend for two weeks and I was amazed at how much time he spent looking at beautiful scenery and animals through a phone screen as opposed to using his own eyes and living in the moment.  I’m not saying that taking photographs is a bad thing, but I came home with a fraction of the pictures he did and was no less happy for it.  While taking personal pictures of family and friends is valuable, you must consider that many photographs of monuments, buildings, art, and attractions can be found online in better quality, for free, compared to what you can produce yourself.  You should ask yourself if every picture is really worth taking and keeping.
Next, pairing your collection of pictures down to the best ones as soon as possible will make for less work later.  Often, you’ve taken multiple pictures of people or things in order to get the best shot.  Once you have it, you should consider deleting all the other pictures of the subject right off your phone or camera soon after to clear space and make it easy to find the best photo right away.
Finally, it all comes down to organizing your pictures, whether that be on a computer, storage device, or cloud-based service.  Just like with other computer files, you need to create folders to organize your pictures if you want to be able to easily locate them.  If you can’t find pictures or it takes too much time, you won’t be able to view or share them and they will be a burden rather than an asset to you.  Now, there are different ways to organize pictures and it’s mostly a matter of personal preference and what you’re doing with them that determines what is best.  For instance, you may choose to simply organize pictures by date, using years or months.  Another strategy is to organize pictures by subject, such as sports, trips, nature, and clubs.  Others might find it easier to categorize by people in pictures with folders for family, friends, or even a single person.  No matter what system you create, sticking to it and keeping up with it so pictures are always organized will make them much more useful to you and to others as the years go on, especially when you’re just trying to find “that” picture you’re thinking of.  While it might take more time now, it will save you time from searching through hundreds of random icons later.

Over time, I’ve learned a couple of tricks that makes organizing pictures easier.  I’ve found it useful to upload pictures at appropriate and regular intervals, such as after a trip or event, so I can easily organize and share them.  I also make sure to delete the pictures off my phone or camera once I have uploaded them in order to prevent duplicates from being uploaded later.  For especially interesting or important pictures, I might also name the individual pictures something specific like I would a document, such as “Grizzly Bear in Yellowstone,” so I can easily find it by searching my computer instead of wading through thumbnails of pictures with randomized names.  Lastly, I try to stick to one source for my pictures so that they’re all in one place and I am careful about cloud backups.  While having the cloud automatically backup files provides protection against deletion, I like to manually back up my pictures periodically once I’ve organized them so I am not saving backups of pictures I have deleted or not yet organized.


By Joe Dumais

For more information, or to get help with your organization needs, visit
http://www.organiz-er.com/

978-376-9606

Monday, August 26, 2019

Are Worn Clothes Dirty?


We’ve all been there.  You wear a shirt or a pair of shorts once, but the garment isn’t dirty.  It might not be fresh, but it doesn’t need to be washed yet. If you put it back in the closet or drawer, you risk getting your clean clothes smelly and dirty. While these clothing items might not smell the best after a wear or two, washing them would be a waste of energy. I have a word for such clothes: pre-laundry.  Pre-laundry is the pair of pants hanging on the unused treadmill, the sweater hanging off the back of a chair, or that pair of socks on the floor that you barely wore the other day.  While easy to grab, it’s easy to forget these clothes for a while.  They begin to creep into our spaces and blur the line between dirty and clean as the mysterious pile of clothing piles up.  The question is, what is one to do with this clothing in the purgatory between your closet and your laundry basket?

I’m often asked about the best strategies to manage slightly-worn clothes.  To help, I recommend following these simple tips:

1. Don't let clothes pile up!  Allow no more than 3 outfits of varying kinds of clothing to accumulate. For example, having a pair of shorts and pajamas out at the same time might make sense, but having multiple pairs of jeans strewn about is just plain messy.  Don’t have multiples of an article of clothing lying around!

2. Hang worn clothes on a hanger and hang that off the end of another hanger (an empty hanger or one with the ends exposed) in your closet so they are facing outward as opposed to inside the closet where they could contaminate other clothes.  This way, you can still quickly identify and grab your pre-laundry clothing without having to take up more space or search around for the spot you dropped off your shirt.  For clothes that you may have only worn for a very short period of time, like a suit or dress for church, you can create a separate section in your closet.

3. Make a rule to wear pre-laundry items NEXT. In other words, if you have a sweater that is half dirty, think about wearing that one next instead of getting a clean half dirty as well.

4. Take a good look (or sniff) around once a week to see if you need to wash some of the clothes you thought weren’t dirty enough earlier in the week.


For more information, or to get help with your organization needs, visit
http://www.organiz-er.com/

978-376-9606

Friday, August 16, 2019

Checklist for Your Loved Ones

Dealing with end of life issues is always difficult, both mentally and emotionally.  To make things easier for your loved ones when the time comes, it is best to put your affairs in order and leave them the necessary information all in one place.  Our attempt to do this is our "Checklist for My Loved Ones" which can be found on our website by clicking the link.  Please try to use it and give us your thoughts and feedback on how we could improve the list. We hope this helps!

For more information, or to get help with your organization needs, visit
http://www.organiz-er.com/

978-376-9606

Friday, June 14, 2019

All the Items You Really Need in Life


One year, I took a deep look at what possessions people really need and why.  As my children have moved out on their own, this list has been helpful as it represents the bare minimum a person needs to live and challenges societal norms of what a person should have.  I am sure there will be people reading this who would like to debate the items on the list. Debate away.  Use this as a starting point to compare with your belongings.  I challenge you to see if you can eliminate some unnecessary items in each category.

Clothing/Footwear

Purpose: Protect from elements (heat, cold, rain, snow). Interact with society in a conforming way.

Comments: Assume 2 weeks max clothing rotation, or, if you really want to be a minimalist, assume 2 total outfits – 1 on and 1 to wear while laundering. People own a lot of clothing and footwear because they have many roles in society that require different uniforms. Also they get tired of wearing the same clothes. If the focus is shifted to view clothes as protection from elements, people would need less because the clothes would serve that purpose (as opposed to looking nice). To minimize excess clothing, consider whether or not you would like to fit into society. Also consider how often you want to wash clothing.  I recommend getting clothes that are made with natural fiber, are neutral shades, are medium-weight fabric, are cross-seasonal fabric, are not too formal or casual, are cut-easy to layer, and have a medium fit.

Items:
·         Undergarments – Not really necessary but do allow sweat and secretions a place to go so outer clothing does not have to be laundered more frequently. Undergarments are accepted by society as normal, not totally necessary but highly desired.
·         Socks – keep feet warm and protect your feet from blisters, give sweat place to go. Not 100% necessary but nice to have.
·         Long Pants – Good for keeping warm, protection from harm (bugs, poison ivy, snow, etc.) Sometimes easy to move around in. If living in colder climates: may want different thickness pairs for different weather. If working, may need “uniform” for job.
·         Short Pants – Not really necessary but some preferred depending upon weather.
·         Skirt/dress – Same as shorts. Dress may be worn for special occasions.
·         Shirts – Only a few are really needed but many people have a large quantity to wear for different occasions (tank, blouse, basic long sleeve, basic short sleeve).
·         Swimsuit (optional).
·         Sweaters/Jackets – Purpose is to keep warm. Probably good to have varying weights for varying weather conditions (protection from cold, snow, and rain). 1 light-weight, 1 thick, 1 cardigan, 1 overcoat, 1 blazer
·         Hats – 1 for sun protection, 1 for cold protection. Rest that people own are extraneous.
·         Gloves – Protection from cold. Protection while working.
·         Handbag – To carry items from place to place.
·         Jewelry – optional.
·        Footwear – Keep feet warm and protect from various surfaces such as grass, concrete, and sand. Various styles for various uniforms.

Personal Hygiene Items

Purpose: Keep oneself clean and refreshed. Protect the body from decay and to honor the body.

Comments: Each individual should have these items as part of his/her personal belongings. However, if living in a shared space, many of these can be stored in a common grooming area or bathroom. (Of course, some of these are not necessary but…)

Items:
·         Hair comb
·         Hair cleaner (aka shampoo) – conditioner (optional)
·         Body wash/soap
·         Face wash (can use same as body wash but I have been told that gentler is better)
·         Tooth brush
·         Tooth floss
·         Tooth paste/fluoride
·         Body oil
·         Nail grooming – clippers, file
·         Feminine hygiene products (for females)
·         Deodorant (optional)
·         Shaving supplies (optional)
·         Toilet paper
·         Towel
·         Medicines – Plants work but nice to have
o   Antiseptic drops --- (Natural option is calendula drops)
o   Antibacterial cream --- bacitracin
o   Pain reliever --- Ibuprofen
o   Anti-inflammatory --- Benadryl
o   Skin soother --- aloe
o   Bug bites --- (Natural option is plantain leaf)
o   Disinfectant --- hydrogen peroxide/rubbing alcohol
o   Stomach soothing --- (Natural option is mint tea)
·         Compress
·         Bandages

Cooking/Food Preparation

Purpose: Consistent location for food preparation including items needed for food prep/storage/serving. Place to store items that are used for food prep.

Comments: A person or household could get by without all of these items, but for one that sees the value in home-cooked meals, these are needed. When cooking, it is best to only prepare enough food for the current meal and have no left-overs; therefore, you will always be eating fresh foods. Although it may be more time effective to prepare foods in bulk ahead of time, it is not as healthy. Going back to the “simple” goal, spending time for self-care tasks such as meal preparation is actually more balanced and allows your mind and body time to wind down from the stresses of the day. By the way, if you are dedicated to living minimally, you can research how to live without refrigeration; however we will assume a refrigerator is a necessity. We will also assume that there is a source of running water.

Items:
·         Plates, bowls, cups, utensils, every person in the household should have one of each. You may want extra place servings for guests unless you request guests bring own. I remember attending a dinner party in college where guests needed to bring their own place setting. Understandable in that setting where people are just starting out on their own but probably not acceptable after you have been established awhile.
·         Pans – 2 baking sheets with rim with sides, pie, loaf, and muffin; square baking dish
·         Pots – saucepan, frying, soup
·         Cooking utensils – Stirring spoon, ladle, spatula, tongs, vegetable peeler.
·         Measuring spoons and cups
·         Knives – chef’s, serrated, paring (sharpening steel for knives)
·         Strainer/sieve
·         Mortar and pestle
·         Rolling pin
·         Grinder – hand crank is sufficient
·         Bowl –  mixing/serving (3 of different sizes)
·         Swiss army knife with can opener
·         Funnel
·         Cutting board
·         Potato masher
·         Grater
·         2 gloves for hot items
·         Stove/oven – fire source

Food pantry

                Purpose: To keep some staples on hand for cooking with the fresh items obtained each week. Have some items on hand in case of emergency.

                Comments: There are many books written about the staples needed in a kitchen. This list differs from those in that it is bare essential. One could actually have less than these and still manage to prepare wonderful meals.

·         Grain (whole grain – flour not necessary)
·         Sweeteners – honey and/or maple syrup
·         Cornstarch
·         Baking soda
·         Baking powder
·         Shortening / oil
·         Dried fruits (including tomatoes)
·         Nuts
·         Seeds – sesame, sunflower, pumpkin
·         Vinegar- apple cider, white
·         Canned or boxed milk – nut or  cow (optional)
·         Salt
·         Dried herbs and spices
·         Cocoa powder
·         Canned protein source such as tuna or legumes

                Items:
·         Blanket
·         Sleep mat desired (protect from wet/bugs)

Shelter from Elements

Purpose: Provide consistent location on a regular basis (aka home). Consistent safe location for rest with security away from elements in order to get a comfortable night’s sleep. Protect from elements. Sanctuary. Place to regenerate.

Comments: People reading this are presumably from an industrialized society of individuals living in homes, apartments, or other permanent structures.  However, shelter can be a box, tent, or cave. It is important to create a space that is safe from the elements and relatively safe from intrusion. No place will be entirely immune from middle of the night catastrophe. Also, the location should be dark and quiet. Some would argue that these last two criteria are optional, but they are required for deep sleep. Any place that you can sleep, prepare and store food, groom yourself, and store your belongings is a shelter.

Items:
·         Source of heat during cold weather
·         Don’t really need lighting but nice to have
·         Furniture is not really needed but…
o   Table
o   Chair
o   Bed/sleep mat/blanket
o   Storage cabinet
o   Toilet (preferred)
o   Sink

Transportation Method

Purpose: Way to travel outside of the safe shelter (mentioned above) as well as a way to interact with the outside world.

Comments: In my world, everything is spread out so I need car. However, a bike would be okay, and of course walking is an option, but would be more limiting as to the distance able to travel.  If a vehicle such as a car is needed, it would have to be able to be maintained by the owner, either by repairing it themselves or paying for maintenance.  This adds a level of complexity and responsibility to transportation and requires that the person earn enough money to maintain the vehicle or replace it if needed.

Tools

Purpose: Maintain land and home. Maintain all of possessions.

Comments: When you present the list as listed below it is apparent that you don’t really need much. Take a look at all of the tools and gadgets that you have. Are they for convenience? Do you have them because they are cool or because someone else thought you would want it?

General tools:
·         Scissors
·         Knife
·         Pen/pencil
·         Paper
House cleaning tools
·         Broom (vacuum optional if carpet)
·         Rag/scrub brush
Garden tools (optional for those with a yard):
·         Shovel
·         Rake – hand
·         Lawn mower
·         Pruning shears
·         Bucket/water can
·         Axe/hatchet
·         Snow shovel

Cleaning supplies
·         Lemon
·         Oil
·         Vinegar
·         Baking soda

Information/Paperwork
Purpose: To prove many legal issues that may arise within society.
Comments: These papers are really all you need. All but taxes easily fit in a hand held box. In case of emergency – you would not need to take the taxes with you.

Items:
·         Passport/license – to prove who you are
·         Paperwork relating to things you own such as home/auto – to prove what you own
·         Health info – in case someone else needs to find out your medical history
·         Tax paperwork – to show that you are a law abiding citizen
·         Legal documents – to track issues that you have had in the future or to prevent future issues

Entertainment (optional)

Purpose: Provide options for mental, physical, and spiritual stimulation when not using energy for daily living.

Comments: Communication devices, books, and hobby supplies are lumped into this category. They are not really necessary but a familiar way of life.
Items:
Communication devices - Phone is nice to have, but is not really a necessity for living. However, a computer/digital device may be a necessity for your lifestyle and choices as they are part of current society.

Books - How many books and of what subjects are necessary to keep as part of your personal responsibility?
o   Fiction – no need to keep, these can be obtained from a library
o   Non-fiction – have for reference that you use often and are not easily found elsewhere.  For example, I prefer books about plant and herb identification.

Hobby supplies (examples)
o   Craft supplies
o   Music supplies
o   Art supplies
o   Games-cards, few board games

Mementos/Totems
                Purpose: To serve as reminders to your soul.
Comments: Not necessary but some people prefer them. It’s all about personal preference.
Examples of items:
·         Greeting card
·         Photos
·         Statues
·         Religious items




For more information, or to get help with your organization needs, visit
http://www.organiz-er.com/


978-376-9606