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Archive for Personal Organization


Turn Overwhelm into Order

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Love the Snow!

Is the snow beautiful, or what? Even though I know it can cause hassles, I still LOVE it! As I am writing this the sun is streaming through the window, the snow is glistening on the roof tops and the Olympic Mountains are spectacular. Ahhh…so nice!  

I hope you enjoyed Christmas and all the festivities. I don’t know about you, but in the days leading up to all the family gatherings, I had my share of overwhelming moments.  

When I am faced with overwhelm I need ORDER! Here’s how I have learned to go about getting it.  

Snap out of paralysis! When you are faced with a task or situation that seems insurmountable, don’t let it freeze you in your tracks. Make yourself move…the tiniest of baby steps are just fine….as long as they move you forward.  

Stop thinking about what you “can’t do”, and start thinking about what you “can do”. My high school health teacher, Mr. Moody, used to say…”garbage in – garbage out”. In other words, negative self talk leads to negative outcomes. And on the flip side, positive self talk will produce positive outcomes in your life.  

“The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.” Unknown  

Maybe you can’t get all of your holiday decorations put away in a day like you want to, but you can start taking the decorations off the tree. You can’t magically lose five pounds in a week, but you can go for a short walk right now.  

Don’t limit yourself. You are capable of great things. We all have gifts and talents that make us unique, but most of us are afraid to use them to their full potential. Go for it….try some of those things you’ve always wanted to do. Pray for some wisdom and courage and let God do the rest, He can do anything but fail. You just need to be willing to try.  

Deal with the things you can control. I am a school counselor and I hear things that break my heart sometimes. I do all that is within my power to help, and then I have to let go. The same goes for my family; the choices they make, and the unfortunate circumstances of others all impact my heart, but there are only so many tangible things you can do to help. And by the way, worrying is not a tangible way to help. It only makes you sick and wastes time.  

Count Your Blessings

Invest your time in the most important things in your life. It is easy to get lost in the daily grind and forget what is really important to you. Thinking back to my favorite memories of Christmas, I am reminded of the most important things in my life; enjoying conversation with my family at the dinner table, and reading a Charlie Brown Christmas to my son. Watching movies with my daughters; crying with one at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life”, and dancing around the room like a crazy person with another after “Foot Loose”. Christmas shopping and dinner out with my husband, and spending time at my parent’s. Laying on my couch and listening to Silent Night on the radio.  

If you really want to turn your overwhelm into order, ask yourself…”What are the blessings in my life?” Write them down and go experience one right now.  

If you have a great tip for creating order in your life, I would love to hear about it. Please feel free to comment on my blog.  

Happy New Year!

Have you ever said something less than kind to a family member or co-worker and felt ”guilty”? – that’s emotional clutter.  Maybe you have been hurt by someone and you have been holding on to “resentment” – emotional clutter.  Maybe a friend just gave you the most hideous gift ever, but you keep it because you don’t want to hurt her feelings and it would be “embarrassing” to tell her the truth – emotional and physical clutter.  You know what I’m talking about.  We all have something.

I’ve had my share of emotional clutter and there have been years at a time that I have let it bog me down and keep me from enjoying my life to the fullest.  I don’t like feeling that way and I am guessing you don’t either.  I have learned a few things on my clutter releasing journey and I hope some of my experiences will inspire you to let go of the things and thoughts that are holding you back in your life.

Lesson #1:  Emotional and physical clutter go hand-in-hand. We hold on to some interesting things.  This summer I went through a big box of high school memorabilia. Of course everything in the box was neatly organized and the box was even labeled, “Daniele’s Memorabilia”, so why not keep it forever?  It wasn’t taking up much space and after all they are my precious memories - right??  Well, a few are and a lot went bye-bye.

Read these statements and tell me if they sound familiar.

It’s been in my family for years!” “I might want to look at it for old times’ sake.”

“I am saving it for my children/grandchildren.”

“It was a gift.”

“It may be worth something some day.”

“But they aren’t making it anymore.”

“My high school boyfriend gave me that.”

Whatever item is in question, if it isn’t being honored or enjoyed, then it is cluttering up your home and your head!  Look around you. Do you love everything you see, or does some of it just stress you out? If someone took it, would you even notice it was gone?

Lesson #2:  Everything is a choice – choose to let go! As I went through my box I kept asking myself, ”Why am I keeping this?” My kids won’t care about this stuff when I am gone, in fact some of it might even be embarrassing.  Now, a few years ago, I wasn’t ready to let go of those things.  I wanted to remember (hold on to) my youth.  But, I finally realized that the person I was then, is not the person I am now, and I am glad.  Don’t get me wrong – I had fun as a teenager and I wasn’t an awful person, but I was a kid, making kid decisions.  A lot of the memories made me smile, but some of them were painful and it was time to let them go.  So, I tossed the dried up roses, some photos (yes photos – you can throw them away), and lots of notes and cards that meant nothing to me anymore.  Bottom line:  If it is taking up space and isn’t enhancing your life, it is CLUTTER – let it go!

Lesson #3:  Make room for the good stuff. Getting rid of any kind of clutter takes work, but emotional clutter takes some serious commitment.  I believe that we let go in layers.  Organizing your life is a ongoing process.  It is not all done at once, and then magically stays that way. You need to learn to sort out the useful from the burdensome, and motivate yourself to maintain the simplicity you are creating.

Practice letting go and get used to that lighter feeling.  Once you feel it, and realize how nice it is to make room in your life for what really matters, you will be hooked.  Memories can be wonderful, but the item you are attached to is not the person or event. I know that sounds obvious, but it doesn’t always feel that way.

Lesson #4:  Be patient with yourself and keep moving forward. My grandma died a few years ago, and I have a few items of hers that I treasure.  I love them because they were hers, but they are also useful in my home.  The year before she died I was going over to her apartment often to help her organize.  During the process I noticed she needed a tool box, so I bought her one and on the top I wrote, “Granny’s Tool Box”.  She really loved the gesture and that made me happy. After she died I brought the box home and I tried to use it on several occasions, but it just didn’t hold my things very well.  It was a little too big for what I needed, and of course it said, “Granny’s Tool Box” which I thought my clients might find a bit odd.

Well, it sat in my garage for a good two years and every time I looked at it I thought, “I really need to give that away”, but for some reason I wouldn’t let myself.  I felt guilty and sad (emotional clutter).  Then one day I had an older client (a grandma) who really needed a tool box, so I gave it to her.  It was that easy.  Someone had a need and it was no longer useful to me…I could finally let go.

Some of you may be thinking…come on it’s just a tool box!  Move on!  I get that, but having to go through it myself helps me understand why my clients have a hard time letting go of the box of drift wood from the beach, their grandma’s old sewing machine, the clothes of a loved one that has passed away……

I challenge you to open that box and see what you can let go of today.  Start small and then move on to the deeper attachments.  Give yourself permission to release your own emotional clutter. It is truly life changing!!


Are You Overwhelmed?

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Is your To-Do list too long?
Do you find it hard to say, “no”?
What or who is draining your energy?
Here are some synonyms for “overwhelmed”:  overcome, engulfed, flooded, inundated, overpowered, swamped, frantic, shut-down.
How do you know when you are overwhelmed? 
I know for me it is when I can’t think clearly, forget things, have anxiety, get moody, and just feel stuck. If you get too overwhelmed you can become frozen in your tracks. You don’t know what to do or how to do it…so you do “nothing”.  If this happens often, you can begin to dig a hole you feel you can’t get out of.
I recently took a class that dealt with just this topic. The woman teaching it was, Meggin McIntosh (The Ph.D. of Productivity).  She talked about feeling overwhelmed, but also underwhelmed; feeling frustrated, disappointed, lethargic and unfocused. What she encouraged us to reach for, was “just whelmed”.  She described “whelmed” as productive, energized, challenged and “in the zone”. Ahhh…to feel just whelmed…I like it!
What leads to feeling overwhelmed? 
  • Too much to do in the time available.
  • Too many different tasks, projects, and commitments.
  • Too many different people who are asking & expecting from you.
Dr. McIntosh described the difference between external and internal sources that can affect overwhelm.  The external sources we have no control over, like the weather, boring staff meetings, and other people. The internal sources we have a lot of control over, such as deciding how much information to keep in our head, procrastination, perfectionism, and unrealistic estimates on our time, money and energy.
She stated that if you want to move to a place of whelm, you have to learn how to leverage people, technology and your own strengths.  Here are some examples.
People – Delegate (i.e. at home everyone helps, or hire a student to run errands)
Technology - Turn off your phone (i.e. actually turn it off so you can work uninterrupted and check your email only at specified times each day)
Strengths – Build your inner strength (i.e. set boundaries and priorities, you don’t have to say yes to everyone, family is more important than volunteering for everything) 
So how can you diminish overwhelm?
  1. Recognize it for what it is.
  2. Have routines and systems in place.
  3. Set a timer for certain tasks, activities, and responsibilities and stick to it! 
  4. Hire out what you can.
  5. Do only what only you can do (i.e. decisions no one else can make). 
  6. Develop policies (i.e. Never say yes immediately.  Set a limit for the number of committees, lunches, and events you will attend in a week).
  7. Know what drains you and minimize that.
  8. Do what gives you energy.
  9. Ask for help (trust others).
  10. Go simple rather than complex.
  11. Be clear on priorities.
  12. Design a productive work environment.
  13. Know what you are already committed to (i.e. what have you already said yes to?)
Remember that when you are overwhelmed everything feels like a priority.  So, find an accountability partner and ask them for their perspective.  Don’t forget to carve out time for yourself and reflect on where you are in your life and what is really important to you. Reevaluate what’s working and what isn’t, and make the necessary changes to reach your state of “whelm”!   
“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time.  Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” 
~ M. Scott Peck 

If you are ready to create some “whelm” in your life, I can help.  Contact me for a free phone consultation and let’s talk about your needs.  Simplifying your daily routines and decluttering your surroundings is a great first step.