ORGANIZED YOU

February Newsletter - #6
ORGANIZED YOU

Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

(4 minute read)

I'm going to start by telling you what you already know. Put it on your calendar, create a post-it but put an effort into getting this done.

1. Collect all your passwords into one location. There are many good reasons for doing this--making things easier for your loved ones, avoiding identity theft, etc. Resetting and organizing your passwords can be tedious and complicated, but necessary (you might even want to hire a professional organizer to help you with this). 

There are many ways to do this.

• You can keep them in a dedicated address book.

• You can have them in a notebook.

• You can hide them under the mattress...

• You can use an online password keeper (Like LastPass) more about that below. 

2. Decide the best system for you.  Over the years I have used LastPass as my password saver. It requires one encrypted password that lets you (or anyone you share with) to get into your accounts. 

Think about it. If disaster strikes and you no longer have a home or office you can still access your information. Or if something happens to you your digital executor could still access your accounts. To get the information quickly to them is your gift to them.

Time spent figuring out what all your accounts are under stress and loss can be very time-consuming! So get them all in one place--every single place you created a password needs to be there.

So take the time to create your list and get everything organized in one place. Daunting? As an organizer, I can help you with the process.

3. Choose someone you trust and let them know how to access your passwords. Just tell them. You have to tell them, right? How would they know? (Do I sound like someone who might be familiar with this situation…?) It could be a lawyer all the way to your best friend to one of your children. LastPass has a family sharing plan allowing as many as you wish to have access with your permission.

Let's review:

1. Get all your passwords in one location.

2. Keep them updated and organized.

3. If there is a master password used, like LastPass, be sure someone you trust can access it on your behalf.

TIP 1: Don't create a passwords document on your computer and put it in a folder named "Passwords". A simple search or hack could reveal them too easily.

TIP 2: If you are traveling, print an up-to-date hard copy of this document and leave with a trusted person.  Make it easy for them.

Want to sort it out together?  Schedule Organizing Time with Jennifer

Good read: Your Digital Afterlife

ORGANIZED YOU

Hear what others say why they can't get organized:

Prospect:  My house is totally cluttered. It’s a disaster and I can’t find anything.
Organizer:  Would you like to get rid of the clutter and get your house organized?
Prospect:  Yes!
Organizer:  Would you like me to help you?
Prospect:  No, I can do it myself.
Organizer:  How long have you been disorganized?
Prospect:  About 25 years.

What would you say?

If we could sit down and have a conversation, what would you say is the reason you can't get organized? Here's what others have said: 

• Every time I get rid of something, I end up needing it a few days/weeks/months later.

• l will do it later (later never comes).

• The idea of letting someone see my clutter is too embarrassing.

• I just can’t seem to part with things.

• I can’t physically do it.

• I just don’t have the time.

• It’s her stuff. (…his stuff) (… their stuff).

• It will cost too much.

• My child left this stuff behind when they moved out and I’m waiting for him/her to have a house so I can give it back. 

• The item belongs to someone else, and needs to be returned (but that never happens).

• We work such long hours we don't have time for the house. 

As a professional organizer, I can see some common reasons for people’s objections. The most common one I hear is they are completely overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. Some have tried having a friend or family member help but it was not working very well (conflict, or things “disappeared”). They kept trying on their own, fully believing they could do it, and (because of ADD) they never got anything done, or it just got worse.

Others come up with the ultimate cop-out and consider renting a storage unit.

Family history can play a part. One client said she grew up with a maid that did all the housework so was never taught how to clean and organize.

Could one of these be you?

• The “gift” scenario: It’s hard to throw away things from someone who is no longer here, or someone who will be offended if I don’t keep it.

• The “saving” scenario: My parents saved this for me. I am saving it for my children or grandchildren (some are not even born yet). 

• The “pleaser" scenario: My son uses this pan when he makes eggs, my daughter uses this pan to make french French toast, my husband likes this pan to make pancakes and this is my favorite pan. (The story of why there are four of the same kind of pan in the kitchen).

In my work, I don’t promote getting rid of everything or advocate a minimalist lifestyle. I help you navigate the process and support your decisions as we go along to create more simplicity. There is a balance and we find what works best for you. Organizing together will make the decluttering process more efficient and you will love the progress that is made. 

TIP:

Soft Sorting is easy in the early efforts of organizing. This stage is not difficult at all to be decisive about tossing or donating certain items. Out it goes. Done. (Yay!)
Hard Sorting, the next phase, is more difficult. This is the second layer of things you put off for later that are not so easy to get rid of (see reasons listed above). Emotions can rise up unexpectedly. It can feel too final, feel too much like you are getting rid of the person, not the thing, so you put off the decision.

With New England temperatures dipping in the single digits, I am offering an opportunity to save money while you do some organizing this winter. Once you gain momentum you will love the results. Let's get started.

ORGANIZED YOU

Make a list and check it twice.

I haven't always been able to get my act together. I remember when I would get in the car to go Christmas shopping and wing it to do all my errands, helter-skelter all over town. Of course, I forgot important stuff and sometimes the very reason I went out! I remember how much time and energy I wasted just to get a few things done.

How do you get your act together during this busy time? Though it may sound obvious making lists before you head out the door could make a huge difference. Even Santa checked his twice.

Do you love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.  Benjamin Franklin

Did you know that when you make a list chances are higher it will actually get done?  When life starts to rachet up, like it will during the holidays, it is not uncommon to grab paper and pen and start making lists. Yet many don't bother. I have been working with a sweet little app that is on my phone and it lets me stay on top of errands and items and long term goals.

Any.Do is a fun, whimsical, web-based to-do list and task management tool that is easy to use. Go ahead and put in a distant goal that you want to remember, then easily find what you wrote. You create categories that encourage making a habit of reviewing your To-Dos. It is here you can easily find notes you want to track and information that matters to you.

GROCERIES - desserts, coffee

VISIT - Granny, Sally, Auntie 

CHRISTMAS IDEAS - Homemade-Goo recipe for kids

HOUSEHOLD REPAIRS - Fix steps, call plumber

HARDWARE STORE - AAA batteries

GERMAN CLASSES - find schedule,  class info

Any.Do keep it all in order on your phone while you are on the go or browsing leisurely through your list to remember what you didn't want to forget. This would assure your list doesn't get lost and helps keep it all together. Download it to your phone and get started with the FREE version right away. Like most apps it offers graded levels of service for a minimal fee. I am finding FREE works just fine.

Life can feel like a run-on sentence so make lists and create categories that will help you feel less anxious and more on top of your plans for the holidays. 

1. I love it.

2. I hope you will too.

3. Let me know if you tried it.

Deep Storage Blues

Our basement has a high end and a low end with the lower end for deep storage items and I hate it. This makes it a real challenge to crunch over, unstack heavy boxes and pop lids to see and find … our… precious… stuff [sigh]. The higher end has easier access for holiday and seasonal stuff. Even though fairly organized, I procrastinate going down there. Sound familiar to any of you? 

Do you have a plan for downsizing your deep storage? The amazing reality is you really can make the time to do it and consider the holidays your first baby step.

Start with the holidays

You will either go to your basement or attic where you keep your ornaments and decorations and pull them all out soon. Take this time to go through and look at things differently and see if there are items you could pass along. Repeat: look at things differently.

While you are removing household things to decorate and trim the tree see what you might be willing to donate this year. Use this time to challenge yourself— can I do without this? The goal is more simplicity with less and you can start with how you do the holidays. Tips: The bins that held your decorations can be used to hold your household items you put away during Christmas. Then easily exchanged when the decorations are returned to the bin. Also, consider using more of nature to decorate your home that gets thrown out at the end of the season.

Now, 'look at things differently' with your wrapping paper and gift bags.

Is it chaotic and messy? Ribbons and bows not reusable and flattened? Do you keep buying scotch tape every year in packages of 8 because you forget what you had? Do inventory and know what you have and take this time to organize it. 

There are great organizing solutions for gift wrap storage. Maybe this is the year you invest in a better way to store your things. I have done several solutions for clients and they make a huge difference year round for wrapping a gift. Tip: Consider creating a card box to organize all your Christmas cards and get them in one place. You could combine with your other cards or keep them separate, either way--a great time to downsize those cards and get more organized.

Next, look at your traditions.

We love celebrating the holidays with our traditions and can sometimes choose those things that are the most enjoyable. Take a minute to examine your traditions and see if you need to have a conversation with the ones you love to talk about celebrating the season differently this year. Ask them what their expectations are. You might be surprised what they say and it could lead toward baby step changes.

• Could you scale back on Christmas morning commitments to others? Celebrate traditions with relatives on other days of the month and keep Christmas day for your own family. 

• Stay organized with your budget. It is so important to honor yourself and not go into debt during this time. It's a jungle out there and everyone wants your dollar.

• Consider a real tree instead of artificial one to save on storage space and time.

• Maybe this is the year you 'gift' to your grown kid's ornaments from your collection for their memories. Wrap them up, put a bow on it and place it under the tree.

• This year try drawing names and downsize all the gift giving.

• Provide experiences (plays, concert tickets, museums, day trips, etc.) instead of a typical gift that adds to our stuff.

Definition of delegate: "Ask them to do it, then let them." 

Remember, every year you get to choose how you want to celebrate (or not). If you struggle with the burden of too much responsibility, practice how to delegate. Maybe you have been told that before but it does help. Learn to say, "here—could you please do this?" Then let them do it.

"Only I can change my life, no one can do that for me." Carol Burnett

Lastly, this is by far the most difficult season for so many people suffering from loss of loved ones or lack of resources for their own family. They would love nothing more than to fast forward to December 26. Be considerate that not everyone is excited for this time of year. Keeping their traditions may be exactly what you need to do. You can be sensitive and ease their pain with thoughtful words in a card, inviting them over or spending time with them.

Be gentle. Be quieter. They are healing.