In June I asked you to take stock of three areas of your life—your health, your home and your business (e.g. an actual business, your job/vocation, or school). This month we tackle your home.
Getting in Gear
For most of us, as September rolls around, whether you or your kids are going back to school or not, it’s still a bit like a new year and a chance to make some resolutions.
Your environment plays a big role in your mood as well as your productivity. So take a good look around…what is pleasing about your environment and what is not? If clutter is your problem, as it is for most, set aside some time to tackle that first.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…
Each item we bring into our homes needs a place to live—“a place for everything and everything in its place.” Assigning places takes a plan and decisions, and that can be hard sometimes. Start simple by setting up three boxes and label them keep, discard, donate, and then start sorting.
Once you’ve paired it down, remove the garbage and get the donations picked up or dropped off and out of sight. Now you need a plan for what you’re keeping. Rather than going into detail on that, here are a few resources that may help:
- Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern
- Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix
- Productive Environment Institute
The bottom line on getting organized is learning to make good decisions—and being decisive once you do. Piles are actually physical manifestations of procrastination…and procrastination is usually caused by not really knowing what to do with an item.
The more general you keep your categories or storage places, the better. For instance, you may want to keep canned goods together on one shelf. Don’t try to assign a specific space for olives, another for beans and another for artichokes and another for peaches. It will only set you up for failure. Simple categories like canned fruits and canned vegetables give you flexibility and will keep you sane. Keep folders simple too—important house papers, important personal papers, automobile-related, and perhaps a file folder for each child.
Use Your Calendar
Our physical environment is often a reflection of our time management skills or lack thereof. As you try to get organized, you can’t address everything at once so now you need to work on assigning a place in your calendar to conquer your environment. Putting it off and looking at it only causes more stress, and waiting until you have free time…well, you know where that winds up! Even if you can only devote 30 minutes a day to organizing, or a one to two hour block on weekends, if you schedule it and keep to your schedule, you’ll make more progress than you thought possible.
This item, The Swiftfile tickler system has been a godsend for me. (It’s currently out of stock apparently but worth the wait). Instead of keeping all the important stuff you need to tackle in a pile on your desk or dresser, organize it so you can put your hands on it quickly. In other words, assign it a home on your calendar. For instance, if a bill needs to be paid by a certain date or you need to RSVP to an event, just place it on the day it needs to be done and get in the habit of checking your folders each day. Place the invitation on the day of the event so you can pick it up quickly for address and directions.
It takes at least 30 days to develop a new habit so be patient with yourself. Use your reminder app on your phone and have it repeat for 30 days until it becomes second nature.
Sadly, financial stress is all too common today and can have terrible health consequences, both physical and mental. You may not have enough coming in or you simply may not know where it’s going. Before you can get on your feet financially and decrease the stress that financial strain may be putting on you or your family, you need to have a good idea of where your money is actually going.
Take advantage of some great tools to track your spending and income. I love Mint.com, by the makers of QuickBooks. It’s a free program that will interface with your bank and credit card companies to help you keep track of your finances. It offers great budgeting tools too. It has a phone app as well so you can keep track on the go. Record every penny you spend and assign it a category. Then you can see what can be cut and what a realistic budget will look like for you.
Most of us don’t have plumbing or electrical skills so we call in professionals when we run into a problem. Sure, maybe we can change the washer on a leaky faucet or replace a light switch…but if the problem is more serious we don’t tackle it. Organizing is no different…if you’ve struggled and it’s a constant source of stress for you or your family, hiring a professional organizer can be a very worthwhile investment. You can search online for one in your area or you can find a virtual organizer online who can work with you remotely. I did that many years ago and it was worth every penny. What I learned in the process I still implement today so the effect was far reaching.
Next month we’ll dive a little deeper on addressing your “business life”—whether it’s your job/vocation (and moms, I’m talking to you), an actual business you run, or school etc.
Soooo…enjoy what’s left of summer and let’s look forward to a fresh start this fall.
God bless you!
Allison is also the Founder and President of www.CatholicTherapists.com, a nationwide network of dedicated Catholic therapists.
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