Tiny Traditions & Big Love

We call him “The Tiny Santa”. I’ve always loved miniatures. And I suppose that’s fortunate since I don’t have much room and keep very little. Very little, in this case– we’re only talking millimeters, in fact.

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Can you see him?

I can’t remember where I first found The Tiny Santa, but I do know I used him as a gift in an Advent calendar box some years ago. Most of the other trinkets are long gone but Santa has been with us for years now. When we put up the tree, the first to come across him among the decorations will hang him on a not-too-obvious branch. His small stature makes him awfully difficult to find, and sometimes it takes days. Once discovered, he is then rehidden by the finder, and the game continues through the season.

When the time comes to take the tree down, he is tucked away in a Ziploc bag labeled Tiny Santa so that he won’t be forever lost. There he waits to play hide and seek again the next year.

Although the usual Santa is seen bringing huge bundles of toys, this one knows his gift is in his smallness. He knows that Christmas joy doesn’t necessarily come from excess. And he knows that tiny traditions, looked forward to year after year, add up to a big love.

Merry Christmas 🙂

How Much is Your Clutter Costing You?

Hint: It’s way too much.

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My second passion besides organization is frugal living. Or maybe it’s my first.

As an organizer, I’m aware of many different kinds of costs associated with clutter, but I began to wonder exactly how much time & money it translates into. I did some digging. It was shocking… I’ll get right to it.

 

Financial Costs

On average, you’re paying about $15 per sq foot of your home per year according to AARP. So, that big bouncy ball from the dollar store that’s been sitting in the corner for 5 years has now cost you $75. Multiply that by everything in your home that’s not regularly used. Woah.

Enter storage units. There are 5 times more storage facilities in the US than there are Starbucks! Let that sink in. According to Forbes, Americans spend more than
$24 BILLION a year for storage. AARP mentioned one widow who rented storage space for three years after she “downsized”. In all she paid over $11,000 to store $1,000 worth of items before paring it down.

A few more:
-late fees for late or unpaid bills you’ve lost
-throwing out food, make-up, and other things that spoil because we couldn’t find them
-REPURCHASING things you know you have but can’t locate

Cost of Time

It’s been reported that over a lifetime, the average person wastes between 1/2 and one year looking for misplaced items.

Additionally, the National Soap and Detergent Association (who knew?!) estimates that decluttering eliminates 40% of all house work. How ’bout that?

Emotional Costs

I can’t say enough here. I’ve experienced:

-Children with ADHD that simply can’t concentrate in their spaces and are overwhelmed
-Spouses who argue and rant about the messes, marriages strained
-Higher stress levels in all family members due to feeling enclosed and lost items

Here is a link to a study that shows how clutter leads to higher cortisol levels and depression rates and lower marital satisfaction. I’ve seen it first hand.

There’s simply a mental angst to spending so much time and money on a home and not being able to move around in it. Lifehack mentions loss of focus and productivity.

 

The Final Verdict?

Many people believe that getting rid of things will be a waste of resources. The truth? It’s costing you more time, money and emotional equity to keep them. Start your organizational journey today!

 

 

Clutter-Free Christmas Part Two.

A no-junk approach to stocking stuffers.
Pay attention, Santa. You might learn something.

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Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

I don’t like cheap little things that clutter up my house, break easily, and create junk drawers. I also don’t believe in feeding kids inordinate amounts of sugar. This led me to come up with some quality ideas for stocking stuffers over the years–they have to be either higher quality, useful, or consumable. So now I’m sharing them with you, ready?

  1. Creamy body wash for winter skin
  2. Those washcloths that expand in water
  3. Fun smelling mini hand sanitizers they can take to school (check out Bath & Body works–they have a great variety! More in store and they change with the seasons)
  4. Card games such as Rook
  5. Forget the spinners and try these Mokuru Fidget Sticks or Spinning TotemsFidget sticks
  6. Body Spray (such as AXE)
  7. Jerky
  8. Madlibs or puzzle books
  9. Encourage creativity with colored/patterned duct tape and instructions on how to make a wallet or something else fun
  10. Tub of cotton candy (yes…it’s still sugar, but it takes up more room so you don’t need to get much!)
  11. Fun socks or wool socks
  12. Deodorant
  13. Color changing light bulb with remote
  14. Chapstick!
  15. Nuts or sunflower seeds (often small packs can be found at the dollar store)
  16. Bean Boozled — a gross jelly bean game by Jelly Belly. Your kids won’t be eating many of these, but they’ll be having a great time!
  17. Ornament making kits
  18. A dice game such as Farkle or a set of dice with printed instructions for several games
  19. Fun flavored gum
  20. Cool pens or other school supplies
  21. Hand or foot warmers like these (can sometimes be obtained at store for cheaper. Store them by your gloves!)
  22. Small pocket or key chain tools
  23. Flash lights or book lights
  24. Popcorn
  25. Nail polish
  26. Lotion
  27. Super Handy Slip ‘n’ Snip mini foldable scissors (I love mine!)
  28. Makeup
  29. Organizing items such as gear ties
  30. Cat’s cradle string with instructions

A Clutter-Free Christmas

Jingle bells, evergreens, and the spirit of giving which leads to…stuff!
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This not only is this a good time of year to consider getting rid of some things to make room, but it’s also a good idea to think about how to eliminate more clutter before it starts.

And so I present to you some ideas for gifts that only take up space in your heart and memory 🙂 If you have time, check out all the categories. Although I’ve tried to create categories, some ideas can be used for other loved ones in your life. Also, many of these experiences can be found on sites such as Groupon, so check out your local deals there.

Click here to view as a handy Word Document instead: NoClutterChristmas or fast forward to the end for some printables.

 

For Kids & Families

-movie gift cards
-tickets to a play or other show
(Cirque du Soliel anyone?)
-museum passes
-zoo membership or “experiences”
(for instance, some offer a chance to meet the penguins!)
-Audible or Amazon Prime Membership
-sporting event tickets
-rodeo tickets
-indoor trampoline park gift card
-certificate for paddle boarding lessons
-a segway tour or scavenger hunt in your local area
-an escape room experience
-museum membership
-indoor rock climbing
-gift card to an unusual restaurant
-festival entry
-a “coupon” for a staycation at a local hotel with grandparents (make sure it has an indoor pool!)
-gift card for bowling/laser tag/arcade
-a seasonal pass for an activity such as ice skating
-party at a fun place (for instance, Hammond’s Candy Factory near me has a fun experience)
-whale watching tour

For Couples

-certificate for a professional organizer 🙂
-gift card for Home Depot or The Container Store
-concert tickets
-a glass blowing lesson
-sushi-rolling class
-a Top Golf gift card (it’s fun even for non-golfers!)
-a night’s stay at a local getaway
-horseback riding certificate
-wine tasting experience
-ski passes
-dance lessons
-a murder mystery dinner
-helicopter or hot air balloon experience
-local sleigh ride (or if you’re in Colorado like me, try a dog sledding experience for two!)
-something that can be easily cooked:
    Omahasteaks.com order or
    a Hello Fresh gift card
-indoor sky diving experience
-a sip and paint evening
-comedy show tickets
-Netflix subscription for a year

For Him

-rounds of golf
-luxury car driving experience
-auto race or monster truck tickets
-fire arm/shooting range voucher, membership, or lessons
-tickets to an auto show
-martial arts classes
-carwash gift card
-flying lessons
-deep sea fishing experience
-arrange dinner with an old friend
-sailing lessons
-season passes for a sports team
-ziplining certificate
-landscaping or lawn care services
-gift card to a local restaurant reviewed by a Food Network celeb
-fencing classes
-maker faire tickets
-beer tasting or festival tickets
-anything that can be consumed, such as:
    -unusual meat jerky @
    mountainamericajerky.com/
    -fancy BBQ sauces
    -backpacking food for outdoor
    trips
-ask his buddy to help you plan a trip according to his interests
-certificate for a full service haircut and shave

For Her

-photography lessons
-tickets to the symphony (go with her!)
-spa/massage certificate
-foreign language lessons or software
-coupons for time out with friends
-get together with her friends to plan a night out
-if she’s interested in family history, order a DNA test kit or subscription to ancestry.com
-send her and her mom or sister on a trip (maybe to the Magnolia Market in Waco?)
-classes at the local craft store
-AAA membership
-car detailing certificate
-night at a fancy bed and breakfast or hotel
-certificate to have nails and/or hair done
-fancy food tasting
-trip to a local holiday light display (we have nice ones at our zoo and botanical gardens)
-house cleaning voucher (careful with this one– know your woman!)
-the new mattress she’s been asking for
-SPEND TIME WITH HER 🙂

And finally, some handy printables: (same list, different format)

 

How Disorganization Led to My Near Arrest…(a true story)

To begin with, I’d like to defend myself. In this country, we are innocent until proven guilty…

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The fact of the matter is that I’m a busy gal. I’m a single mom, college student, have a bit of a social life, and am a business owner. Not the kind of work where you show up on a regular schedule, do the same old thing, and then go home. No, the kind where you juggle everyone else’s lives simultaneously. So, I have a lot of balls in the air at any given moment. Things were going great without a hitch, until my doctor tinkered with my thyroid hormone dosage (as described here) and I had a hard time regaining equilibrium.

And then one day I received a letter from the government…I was to show up for jury duty at the end of the following month.

Cool! I was just starting a business law class for the summer and had never been called up for jury duty. Should I put it on my calendar? The new phone calendar I had wasn’t as good as the one on my old phone and the reminders weren’t so obvious. No, I’d put the letter on the fridge where I’d be constantly reminded (I don’t really have anything else on it) and surely it was so important that I would remember.

And I did remember!

I thought about my impending duty regularly, especially in law class when my teacher inquired during her lectures whether we had ever been on a jury. I’d say to myself, “I will be towards the end of this month.” …the problem is that time flies, the day came quick, and I had not been keeping track of the current date.

So, as I sat in law class one evening, it dawned on me…I was supposed to have been on the jury THAT MORNING! 

When we were dismissed I flew to the car and called my teenager. As he read the letter out loud to me, I panicked! I had indeed missed jury duty. What would happen to me? It was 8 pm so no government office was open for me to inquire of–I called anyways and got a recording.

I texted my mom who told me they usually come for you immediately. “Come for you?!” “Yes.” I texted a local police officer friend of mine. “They put a warrant out for your arrest,” was the reply. “Stop messing with me,” I said. “This is serious.”
Him: “I am serious. This is so great! I can’t wait to arrest you! Haha!”

I checked the county’s website to see if my number had in fact been called up but I was still in my car and had a hard time navigating it on my phone. I Googled “what happens if you skip jury”, and got the same answer. Sometimes a fine, but usually a bench warrant out for your arrest with up to three days in jail. I knew I’d never survive in prison!

Desperately, I returned to the county site to look for answers…and found them. I stumbled upon a page where it listed all of the juror numbers that had been called up for the week and found my number among those that had been dismissed!!!! Relief came over me in waves. Then I shuddered a little thinking again of how I would not have survived in the slammer. A resolve was made then and there to re-institute a better calendar and reminder system.

And so my dear readers, please learn from my mistake and please remember: organization is not just desirable– it’s a necessity! (If you’d like to avoid a run-in with the law!)

Illness and Disorganization

“…what about a health issue that silently steals your motivation?”

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Many times when I enter a situation, I find a homeowner who is perfectly capable and could have handled their mess on their own along the way. So what happened? Life.

Often, there has been some major life event that has stalled progress and productivity, and it’s not uncommon for it to be health related. Whether it’s a major personal health problem or an issue with a family member, it puts organization on the back burner. But what about a subtle health issue that silently steals your motivation?

Depression would be the most obvious. A person may know what things need to be done, but may simply not have the want-to. And other hormonal imbalances go hand in hand with this as well.

I’ll take myself for an example. A few months ago, I felt on top of the world and my schedule. In fact, a friend called me and inquired how I had been doing recently, and mentioned how busy I had been. “I feel like I’m killin’ it!” was the reply and I proceeded to tell her how excited I was at the fluid motion of my pace. Fast forward a little…

My doctor and I decided to lower my thyroid supplement dose a little and wow, did it take awhile to regain my balance! Until then, I struggled to keep things together and paired with some other life changes…chaos followed. And it led to one hilarious situation in particular which I will save for a future post.

In any case, if you are struggling with your organizational skills, consider whether it may be an underlying health problem– especially if you’ve been organized in the past.

Clearing Your Inbox

Do you still get emails from dating sites when you’ve been married for 10 years? (and you swear you’ve unsubscribed!) Did you enter an obscure contest and now you’re getting daily ads for melon ballers?

HOW CAN YOU CLEAR ALL THE SPAM?!
I’ll tell you 🙂

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Try any of these methods (the best is last!):

1. Instead of throwing those emails in the garbage, remember to actually mark them as spam. Good email clients such as Gmail are good at learning what you don’t want. (And speaking of Gmail, consider switching if you’re with someone else. In my experience, you’ll get less spam that you haven’t signed up for with them as compared with some others)

2. Many email clients offer a large unsubscribe button or link at the top of the email now, instead of scrolling to the bottom to search for it. Still, this takes some time if you need to unsubscribe from several lists. So up next is my favorite!

3. Try Unsubscriber or Unroll.me
You can click your way to an uncluttered inbox as these services will do the work to go thru the steps to unsubscribe you. These add up to a real time savings!

Reclaiming My Time- App Usage

I’ve wanted to do this for awhile. And yet, I didn’t…

But I’ve recently heard that the average person will spend about 4 years of their life on a smartphone.

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If there’s one thing I hate to waste– it’s my time. But ignorance is bliss, and as long as I wasn’t aware of how much time was slipping thru my fingers, maybe it wouldn’t bother me.

There have been apps out for awhile that could keep track of how much I was watching funny videos or browsing facebook, but did I really want to know? Did I really want to stop?

Truth is, for all of my shortcomings, I’m a pretty productive person. But I couldn’t help but wonder how many moments I was missing out on. How much time that my loved ones saw my face only in the blue light of a screen.

And so, the journey begins. This morning I downloaded an app simply named “App Usage”. It will keep track of my comings, goings…and lingerings on my phone. Wonder what wonderful activities and people this will make time for? Oh I’ll still have downtime. But now hopefully it will be spent in better ways 🙂

Wish me luck!

ADHD and ORGANIZATION

How can four little letters lined up in a tidy row make neatness so difficult? Yet tidiness is one thing that brings clarity and peace to every mind.

Photo by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash

 

And even if we pitch the letters, what about the fact that we all start cleaning one space and wind up lost in another and then another, forgetting the original intent? Staying on task when organizing can prove difficult, so here are some tips to get it done!

  1. Set a timer- work on one task for about 15 min and don’t leave it until you hear the alarm! Then set a new goal, working in small increments. Almost anyone can keep focus for that amount of time, and the timer will keep you accountable. If you have a family, also consider regular 15 minute clean ups.
  2. Break it down! Similar to making small sections of time, break down your home into small spaces. Edit one cabinet, one storage bin, only one toy box at a time. Then move on to another type of task until the next day or so. Small victories and achievable goals will encourage you to go on!
  3. In keeping with the above, always keep boxes nearby clearly marked for “donate”, “trash”, or “somewhere else”. This will keep you from walking away from the project every few seconds– those items can be dealt with afterwords.
  4. Do it now! If after you’ve  tidied, you have things to donate, return, ship to a family member, etc, do it ASAP! Better yet- organize a donation in advance! This will keep leftover items from hanging around while forgotten or put back into circulation.
  5. Treat your ADHD: Some studies point to a link between shopping/impulse buying and ADHD. Many of my clients find that they simply lose desire to fill time this way once treated. Also, think of organizing as a form of treatment.
  6. Recruit a tidy friend or a professional organizer- why? Because they will help to keep you on task and everything seems more doable when you have help!

I notice a vast difference in those with attention issues once things are tidied up. Not only does the novelty make them feel happier, but putting things where they are easily located greatly reduces stress, and brings focus. Look thru the lenses of an organizer– life could be a completely different experience 🙂

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