Celebrate your achievements

All ready for the RSPCA

When I went to see my client yesterday, we started off as we usually do, chatting about what he’d achieved in the fortnight since I’d last been.

He was disappointed in himself, and complained that he hadn’t achieved anything. He had been too busy working (he works shift work).

Then through more probing on my part I discovered that he had cleared out a great deal of his bedroom and there was a big expanse of carpet on display (yay! I did a little dance in it to show him how big it was). He had also delivered a load of old towels and sheets to the RSPCA, and decluttered and cleaned his bathroom.

Now, for someone who is a hoarder and is crippled by procrastination, that is a LOT achieved!

I told him so, and he agreed. So the lesson here is don’t be too hard on yourself. Any progress is a step forward.

Don’t forget to celebrate your achievements, or at least NOTICE them!

Clutter-free gift ideas

We all have too much stuff and not enough quality time these days. Rather than make it worse this Christmas, why don’t you have a go at reversing it a little? What better way than to get some gifts that won’t clutter up the lives of your loved ones. After all, who needs more stuff? Here’s some ideas to get you thinking:

  • 20121120-100031.jpgMovie tickets
  • A dinner voucher (or you can combine them and get a movie/dinner package)
  • A baby-sitting voucher (again, combined with dinner and a movie would be awesome for busy parents)
  • A voucher for some organising or decluttering (from Clear Space, of course!)
  • A voucher for an assistant-for-a-day/week
  • Tickets to a theatre show or sporting event that is meaningful for them
  • A home-made “I’m your slave for a day” voucher (or if you prefer..”I’m your personal assistant for a day”)
  • A donation to a charity (see Oxfam Unwrapped or World Vision Smiles to buy a goat, a school kit, or blankets on behalf of someone – there are hundreds of gifts to choose from)
  • Flowers delivered every month for a year (or even once is just as nice..and far less expensive!)
  • An annual membership for their favourite sporting club
  • A car detailing package
  • A spring-clean service for their home
  • A gardening service (don’t do this if they love their gardening!)
  • Singing lessons
  • Music lessons (guitar, drums, piano etc)
  • A massage
  • Dancing classes
  • Art classes
  • Gym membership
  • Voucher for a treatment of their choice at a beauty salon
  • iTunes (or similar) gift card
  • A homemade frozen or fresh dinner home-delivered (great for new or extra-busy mums)
  • A zoo membership (South Australians click here for Zoos SA membership details)
  • A ticket for an adventure such as a ride in a racing car, vintage fighter jet, jet boat, hot-air balloon, sky-diving (but be sure they’re up for it!) or something milder like a hike, canoeing or a day-trip boat cruise
  • An opportunity for them to meet their hero. For my husband’s 40th I hired Stuart Dew from Port Adelaide FC to make an appearance at his party. He will never forget it!
  • Take them out for the day and let them do whatever they want to do, eat whatever they want to eat and go whereever they want to go (great for kids)
  • Hide a picnic lunch somewhere for the two of you and give them the GPS coordinates so they have to find it (make it a scenic route!)
  • Photography classes
  • A session with a stylist
  • A coupon that entitles them a few hours of your time helping them organising their digital photos
  • A week of full-time housekeeping (yes, please!)
  • A week of a personal chef (again…yes, please!)
  • Take them out volunteering for a day with you (you have no idea just how much you’ll gain in return)
  • An e-book reader (so they can reduce their book clutter)

All of these things either save time or space or give a unique experience and memory. Far better than adding to our cluttered lives, don’t you think?

 

Weekend Weightlifter – the “To Donate” spot

This weekend it’s another small “Spot Creator” and it’s for things you want to donate.

Find a box that is a fair size (too small and you have to head to the charity place too frequently!) and create a home for it that’s fairly accessible, but not in your high-usage areas. I’d suggest the bottom of a laundry shelf, bottom of the linen closet or in the garage.

Label it “To Be Donated” and teach the family to put anything in there that they no longer need, use or love in there so it can be loved by someone in need.

Whenever it gets full, take a quick trip to the nearest charity and drop it off, replacing the box in its spot again to continue the cycle (don’t leave it in the car for 3 months!).

Weekend Weightlifter – the “Not Ours” spot

I’m going to start a weekly thing – a little weekend project for you to undertake each week that will lift a weight off your shoulders.  I’m calling it the Weekend Weightlifter!

This weekend – the Not Ours spot (or box, or basket…). If you don’t have a home for things that don’t belong to you, you need one of these!

Some of the things that can go into it include: 

  • library books & books borrowed from friendsbaskets
  • borrowed DVDs
  • salad bowls and platters left after a dinner party
  • hair clips, water bottles, hats or socks etc left over after a playdate

Create a home (it needs to be fairly accessible if frequent-access things like library books will be stored there) and use a basket or tub to contain the items.

Every time you have a visitor, check your box to see if they have anything in there that belongs to them. Likewise if you visit someone – check the box first so you can return their items to them.

Report back when you have created your “home away from home” spot. Feel free to post pics of it so we can celebrate with you!

A Restful Haven – 6 Steps to an Organised Bedroom

peaceful bedroom

Source http://smallplacestyle.blogspot.com.au/

 

Do you dread going into your bedroom? Is it piled high with clutter? Do you wake each morning staring at a mountain of things to do?

A cluttered bedroom doesn’t encourage a loving relationship or healthy sleep!

Try this 6-step process to declutter your room so you can reclaim your haven.

  1. Decide on your vision for the room. Write it down, draw it, close your eyes and ‘see’ it.
  2. Eliminate all items that don’t fit the vision.  This includes paperwork, kids’ toys, excess books and magazines (keep just a few for current reading) and homeless “junk room” stuff that belongs elsewhere in the house.
  3. Group everything that remains into ‘like’ groups – clothes with clothes, shoes with shoes, jewellery with jewellery etc..
  4. Eliminate duplicates and anything you no longer need, use or love.  Eliminate any clothes you put on but always take off again, that are damaged, do not fit or you just don’t like them anymore.  You can donate or sell items; it’s your choice (only sell if you have the time and really need the money – otherwise it’s just another thing on your list of things to do). This is the hardest part – letting go.  Yes, it’s difficult, but keep your vision in mind and you’ll be able to do it. You NEED a restful haven to sleep in.
  5. Find and create homes for all the items you need, use and love.  Remember that those things you use frequently should be easy to get to, and those that you use infrequently (like luggage, memorabilia and spare linen) should be less accessible – use the high and deep spaces for those items.  Don’t forget the useful space under your bed, too. Use  vacuum packs, tubs, drawer dividers, clear shoe boxes, jewellery organisers and other useful organising tools. Don’t buy them until you know where they are going and what is going in them, though!
  6. Set up a new habit of ‘resetting’ your room before you go to bed each night - all that is required is that you do step 2 really, and then for everything that’s left, put it in its home. And then enjoy a peaceful sleep.

I know many people will say “It’s not as easy as that”. But I do this every week with clients and it IS that easy – I know from experience. You just have to let go of the fear. You’re brave, I know you can do it!

My Fashion Embargo Experiment for 2012

I recently thought I might try something new this year. Something that I haven’t done before, and that many people couldn’t do if their life depended on it (and that others regularly do it rather easily).

I decided I wasn’t going to buy any new clothes in 2012. For the whole year.

I’m the kind of person that gets bored easily – I like to update my wardrobe through the year, and always have a bit of a spree at the start of winter and summer.  I have been long exploring the idea that you can be happier if you can accept what you have rather than always wanting more. I have been practising it a lot, and wondered if I could take it this one step further.

So, I’m going to have a new clothes embargo in 2012. No new clothes or accessories for a WHOLE YEAR. These are the rules I have made:

  1. Replacement of essential items that have been damaged are allowed. By essential I mean that there is only one of them in my wardrobe, and it’s needed for work or something important (like underwear!)
  2. Gift cards can be redeemed (I have none, but if anyone wants to join me they can do this)
  3. Clothes-swapping and borrowing from friends is perfectly acceptable
  4. Clothes received as gifts are also acceptable (I have to wait until December for my birthday so this will be of no use to me!)
  5. Accessories are included – no new shoes, jewellery or handbags either (unless conditions satisfy rule #1)

Why am I doing this? A few reasons:

  1. I bought more clothes and jewellery this year than I ever have (BEFORE I decided on the embargo!) and I think I have everything I need to get by
  2. It will teach me to be patient
  3. It will teach me how to be more creative with my wardrobe instead of just buying something when I get bored
  4. It will save me money (this is a minor reason; I’ve never really spent a load on clothes or shoes)
  5. I just want to see if I can do it!
  6. It will show me that I don’t need new things to be happy
  7. I won’t have to go shopping (I don’t like it!)
  8. It’s something fun to blog about and share with others
  9. My wardrobe is full.

Would you like to join me?  It will be good for you, I promise! You can attend the Facebook event, and follow @rebeccamezzino and use the hashtag #fashem2012  to join in the discussion on Twitter.

Tell me what you think – could YOU do it?

Small desk syndrome?

Desks are fabulously useful. You can spend a lot of time sitting at them, pretending to work. And the more stuff you have spread around you, the busier you look, right? Well, what if you have a tiny desk?  How do you manage to look busy (or, more seriously, stay organised) when you have a teeny tiny amount of space on your desk?

Here are a few tips:

  1. Keep your active paperwork vertical. A stand of manilla folders takes up less space than a couple of piles of paper, and a magazine file of journals takes up less space than a pile of them on the desk corner.
  2. Keep your reference paperwork off your desk entirely. Try a filing cabinet, or binders on shelves. If you look at it infrequently, it should be off your desk
  3. Curb your stationery addiction. I know, it’s awfully pretty and fun, and it makes you feel organised, but you don’t need 60 notepads, 7 staplers and a bucket of paperclips. Nor do you need a billion pens that don’t work (throw them out – not back in the drawer!)
  4. Try to use your vertical wall space as much as you can – install shelving or add a hutch to your desk
  5. Have routines that include an end-of-day desk clearing – file your paperwork and put away your stationery. If you do it every day, it will never get out of control. And you won’t come in on Monday to the smell of curdled cappuccino, either.
  6. Try using a magazine file as your inbox instead of an in-tray (which is an unrestrained pile waiting to happen anyway!). And empty it daily (not yearly!).
  7. Ditch everything you don’t use regularly, and limit the amount of personal ‘knick knacks’ on the desk. They’re lovely, but it’s prime real estate that they’re hogging!

Tiny desk = no worries!

 

The ONE thing that can get you organised

A line in the sandI had a  journalist ask me recently that if there was only one thing she should do to get organised, what would it be?  Of course, there are quite a few things you can do, and quite a few adjustments in your thinking that you can make. However, if there is one thing that could singularly make a change to your life now, it would be boundaries.

Boundaries are everywhere. There are physical boundaries (the block of land your home is on, the walls of your house; curbs and fences), legal boundaries (one must not shop in the supermarket without any clothes on and you can’t take a stranger’s car just for the fun of it), social boundaries (we don’t sing at the top of our voices in the library nor take our own dinner to eat in a restaurant) and self-imposed boundaries (being vegetarian, a teetotaller or a non-smoker or never ever ever wearing runners with jeans, for example). Not all boundaries are ‘good’, nor are they all ‘bad’, but they are there nonetheless.

And you can also use boundaries to help you get organised and stay organised. And if you stick to them, you can’t fail!

If you’re cluttered:

  • The 1-in, 2-out rule will put your home on a diet and ensure that you have more going out than in. Every time you bring a new item into the house, 2 have to go. Useful for all collections of belongings, especially shoes, books and magazines. If it’s a particularly large and overwhelming collection, you may want to have 1-in, 5-out!
  • The ‘nothing lives on this space’ boundary. Visualise your home as the way you want it to be. Which horizontal spaces were empty in that visualisation? Pick one, and make a rule that no matter what, nothing is allowed on there anymore. If something turns up on that spot then it immediately has to have a home found for it. Once you’ve got that as a habit, choose the next spot.
  • The “Don’t Put It Down, Put It Away” rule: this is self-explanatory. Make a home for it if it doesn’t have one – don’t just put it down on the closest horizontal space
  • Shopping with awareness. Shop with a list and determination not to buy anything not on the list. Try to avoid shopping at garage sales or op-shops (as most of this type of shopping is impulsive and unstructured). Also ask yourself when you are purchasing something “Where will this live? Do I have room for it?”.

Once you’re decluttered:

  • Shift to 1-in, 1-out and keep that rule in mind on an ongoing basis
  • Spread your awareness of empty horizontal spaces to the whole home
  • Every time you open a cupboard, check that everything is in its home (it only takes a few seconds)
  • Set up routines to maintain your wonderfully organised spaces.

What is the difference between a Professional Organiser and someone who is highly organised?

A lot of our clients experiment before hiring us – they have friends that are really organised come to their home to help them sort out their stuff. I’m sure it works sometimes, but many of those people end up coming to us because the solution just won’t ‘stick’ – they find they get back to ‘messy’ in no time at all and can’t maintain the freshly organised space.

There are a few differences between a friend or family member who is really organised, and a Professional Organiser:

  1. A PO studies systems for a living. We don’t know just one system or ‘our system’ – we know many. And we know the best situations to apply them.
  2. We’re not intimidated or overwhelmed by the volume of ‘stuff’, nor the size of the project. We have the tools and resources to get the job done, with your dignity well and truly intact.
  3. We do not pass judgement. At all.
  4. We’re objective. This is a high value characteristic. We do not have the weight of emotion holding us down.
  5. We’re there for YOU. We have no hidden agendas. We are the client advocate first and foremost. We’re there with your wellbeing in mind and nothing else.
  6. We organise people, not things. We deal with you and what’s going on in your life. The stuff gets organised as a result of that.

5 steps to a more organised child

Some kids are born organised, many are not. Here are some tips to help your child learn how to be a bit more organised. It will help both of you!

  1. Start as young as you can. Starting at around the age of three will set your child up for a much more organised life, even if their personality doesn’t particularly support it. You’ll be doing them a big favour in the long run. Even if you’ve missed that age, however, it’s never too late to start!
  2. Set up routines. Have morning routines, after school routines and evening routines. Ensure they have a visual reminder (a checklist or chart) to remind them what their tasks are.
  3. Be consistent. The best way to develop new habits is to do them at the same time, every day, and preferably in the same order. You’ll need to put in some hard yards with constant reminders initially, but eventually they’ll be doing their routines without reminders. It’s worth the work involved.
  4. Don’t do it for them. If you’re finding you’re reminding them, doing things for them when they forget, or re-doing their jobs – you’re enabling disorganisation. They can’t learn new habits unless they actually undertake the tasks. Let them learn the consequences of forgetting their lunch, or not putting their dirty clothes in the hamper. Let them also learn the satisfaction of doing the job themselves, without it being corrected.
  5. Set up their space to support them. Ensure they don’t have too many belongings for their space, and make sure all their possessions have a home. It will make it a lot easier for them to maintain an organised space that way.