The Organizing Cycle

Getting organized and staying organized are two very different things. Getting organized can definitely be a project, and it can be a long one or a short one depending on your goals. The process of cleaning out and decluttering never stops. You have to maintain your organization once you find the system that works for you. This is “The Organizing Cycle.”

 

Step 1: Decluttering and sorting.

This can be the most overwhelming step, so take this one piece by piece. Declutter and sort the areas that are causing the most stress to your life. Move slow and ask for help if you need it – sometimes a clear set of eyes can help you work through the process and minimize the overwhelm and stress.

 

Step 2: Creating a system that works for you.

As you organize and sort, think about your process for the way you do things already. Creating a new system often means creating a new habit, this takes time, but keep it simple. If you always go to the kitchen when you get home, put your mail sorting system in the kitchen.

 

Step 3: Adjust the system if its not working.

Often times we put in a system and it works at first but its not working in the long term. That’s okay! Notice what piece of the system/ process is not working and adjust. Maybe even change it completely. The process of organizing is a often a constant test of trial and error.

 

Step 4: Maintain the system daily, weekly, monthly.

Maintenance is a crucial step of the organizing cycle. It is what makes it a cycle. Once you organize, you are not done, things are still going to be coming in and needing to go out. This is where the maintenance comes in. This is the clearest step to see if the process and system you’ve created is working — are you able to maintain it? This can take time, you have to create new habits, and often update the system as you notice what works and what doesn’t.

 

Organizing is a cycle, it’s creating habits, and adjusting for your life. It ebbs and flows. Just keep moving through the cycle.

Traveling Abroad? Key Tips for Your Trip

Heading on vacation this summer? Heading out of the country? Here are some essential organizing and planning tips for traveling abroad as smooth as possible!

Make a packing list.

No matter where you are traveling or for how long, you should always make a packing list. List everything from clothing to chargers to toiletry items. This ensures that you won’t forget the most forgettable items – i.e. chargers.

Keep all pertinent travel information in one place.

Keep your hotel information, flight information, embassies, contact numbers in one place. Ideally, have it written down or printed out. We have technology at our fingertips, but sometimes it fails, having the information close to you in another way is crucial when traveling abroad.

Contact your credit card companies.

No matter where you are traveling you should notify your credit card companies. If your credit card company sees purchases in an area outside of your normal, they may shut off access and decline all purchases to protect your funds. If you are abroad, it may be more difficult to contact them after it happens. Do this before you leave.

Carry a photocopy of your passport – in a different location than your passport.

You should always carry a copy of your passport with you (and keep one at home). If your passport is lost or stolen, having a photocopy if it to bring to the embassy can save time in the process.

Know the climate of where you are going.

Even in the summer, you could be traveling somewhere that has colder temperatures. Don’t assume that since you are traveling in the summer that you need shorts, tank tops, and bathing suits.

Make sure someone who is not traveling with you has your travel information.

Someone back home should always have your flight and hotel information. Whether you are traveling with your family or solo, make sure a friend or family member has the info.

Roll your clothes in your suitcase.

Rolling your clothes seriously creates more space in your suitcase. I was recently traveling for 10 days (attending two different functions – meaning two different types of clothing needed), and I rolled my clothes in my suitcase for the first time. I could easily fit everything I needed to bring and have leftover space. When I just folded my clothes, I ran out of room quickly and couldn’t fit everything.

Pack a change of clothes in your carry-on.

When you are checking luggage, always have a change of clothes in your carry-on. Sometimes our luggage doesn’t always want to start our vacation with us!

Learn some basic phrases (write them down!) if traveling to a place where they speak a different language.

Learn some basics before you go so you can be friendly and polite when traveling abroad. Learn how to say – “do you speak English?” I found that when I was in Rome, I wanted to speak Italian to the natives, but once they realized I could speak English, they wanted to talk to me in English to practice! It will be different everywhere you go, but you don’t want to get lost in translation.

Pack in flight essentials in a separate pouch.

Keep the things you need for the flight in easy access. When we put items in the overhead compartment or underneath our feet, we tend to disturb the person sitting next to us when we need something. Pack what you need – headphones, phone, wallet, ipod, book, glasses, etc. – and use on the plane in a pouch or small bag that you can easily pull out and keep with you during the flight.

Pack a small medical kit.

Have a small medical kit with you when you travel packed with band-aids, neosporin, pain relievers, itch relief ointment, antibiotics, ear plugs, OTC medicines for various ailments. You are exposed to so many different things when your travel – in route and in the new place you are traveling to. You want to have the medicine that you know will make you feel better if you get sick.

Pack dryer sheets.

Pack a couple of dryer sheets in your bag so that your luggage stays smelling fresh through your travels – especially as you start to have more dirty clothes than clean ones!

Bring a laundry bag.

Bring a small bag that you can put your dirty clothes in. It makes it easier when you are in the hotel to know what you have that is clean, and it creates a barrier in your suitcase from the clean clothes. If you actually used everything you brought (first: celebrate!), you won’t need the barrier but it will keep your dirty clothes away from the other items in your suitcase.

 

Have a great trip!

The Unproductive Timer

Back in December, I posted about Setting a Timer to help us in our tasks and be more productive in our days and in our lives.

I have a counter proposition for you.

Has anyone ever told you to set a timer to find unproductive time?

It may seem counterintuitive to set a timer to relax – and it definitely is. But perhaps it is exactly what you need.

Sometimes we have to remind ourselves we need to take a break. We live busy lives and often times are running from one thing to the next. In the short periods of free time we have we want to be productive and get the things done that we need to. It can be overwhelming, For those of us that are busy, work for themselves, or just do not do well at not being productive with every moment of their free time (that’s me!) – setting an “unproductive timer” could be the answer to our baggy eyes.

When I have a “free” moment – rare, but it happens – I want to be as productive as possible, and check things off my to do list because I don’t often get that time with my busyness. Sometimes I even get a few hours to be productive! With that, I actually need to take some time to self-care, and just watch TV for 20 minutes, or read a book, or close my eyes for a moment. If I don’t set a timer or an alarm, I could easily fall asleep or accidentally binge watch Netflix before I realize it’s been hours and it’s 2am and I only meant to watch one more episode (I know you all have been there)!

If the thought of calling it an “unproductive” time already stresses you out, call it something else. Your “me time,” “time to breathe,” whatever you need it to be to be effective, and even productive, for you!

We all need to find a pause throughout our days, and ensure we are also taking days and moments for ourselves. Do what you need to do to find that for yourself.

Get Organized After the Holidays

The holidays have come and gone. A couple months ago you cleaned up, sorted gifts, wrapped them, gifted them, and now you find everything is a little bit more of a mess than before. As we start the new year, it’s time to pack away the holidays and figure out what to do with all the “stuff” you just received.

It’s a new year, so it’s the perfect time to clear out and make room for the new!

As you go about cleaning out, ask yourself some questions about that excess that came in over the holidays.

1. Do I already have this?

This can easily happen at the holidays, you get multiples of something, or you get something that you already have. If you’ve established that you already have it, ask yourself: “is this a newer edition?” Maybe you want to get rid of the old and replace it with the new and updated version. If that’s not applicable here, be honest with yourself. You do not have to keep it. Return it, or donate it, or give it to someone you know would want it. It’s okay to do that. Don’t feel like you have to keep something out of obligation, that’s how the clutter starts to build in our homes.

2. Is this box necessary to keep?

I love this one! Boxes can be tricky. For example: I got a TV for Christmas a few years back, and brought it to my apartment, I knew that I was moving in a few months, so I kept the box (I had a very large closet/ storage space), and it was simple for me to put it back in the box during move out and get it to my next places a few months later. I had the space, and I knew it was short term. This is not usually the case. We do not need to keep the boxes from our TV, game system, or electric toothbrush. Take out the papers that come with it (keep if needed), and then recycle the box. We can get so caught up in storing boxes, it can quickly turn into a closet full of empty boxes and we have no place to store the things we actually need to.

3. Can I get rid of some of my old things to make room for the new?

I also love this one (okay, I love all of them!). It is a great habit, holidays or not, to start donating old items when you get new ones. Especially when it comes to clothes. Our closets are only so big and we tend to fill them. When we get new clothes, our closets become overstuffed. Create a rule for yourself, this should apply year round, about “in and out” – someone recently shared with me that their new rule is when they add 1 new item to their closet, the get rid of 4! Figure out a “rule” that makes sense for you about the things you notice pile up – i.e. books, clothes, DVDs, etc. – try it out and see how you feel! The simpler the rule, the easier for you to remember and make a habit of it.

4. I love this new item, where can I find a home for it?

Yes! We finally received that item we’ve been dreaming about and cannot wait to use or display it our home. We already know that we need to find a “home” for everything in our space. The place that that item will live. This may involve getting rid of something else to make room for it, or maybe it’s time to find a new organizing system for the space you want it. Sometimes we do need to create a new system or structure of our space when we add a new item. It’s not ideal to do this for every new item you receive or purchase, but definitely think about it for the larger ones.

5. Do I have a place to store all my holiday decorations?

This one is a little different than the last four, but definitely still relevant after the holidays. The majority of us have an entire closet devoted to our holiday decorations. Don’t stress! Whatever your designated storage space is, if possible, make it a place that you wouldn’t need for everyday life the rest of the year. This should be a place we can keep these seasonal items, but also find them easily and not forget they are there. Maybe you put the beach chairs next to the Christmas boxes, next to the skis and bikes.

Key tips for storing your items:

  • Label all sides of the boxes/ containers. Boxes get turned around all the time, it is very helpful to label all sides when putting things in storage.
  • Use plastic containers if available. All items, treasures, valuables will keep better in plastic containers. Cardboard boxes get easily damaged and can break or ruin your items inside. Protect your items!

It can be difficult to begin the processing of cleaning out and organizing after the holidays – but it’s a great time to start fresh for the new year!

Good luck cleaning out and making space for the new!