Freedom From Want

Susan Stone, Susan Stone Organizing

I took a moment out of my Independence Day celebrations to reflect on one of our great four freedoms – freedom from want.

I suspect our Founding Fathers had in mind a country where no one went hungry, went without shelter, went without good health, meaningful work, and a sense of belonging. These are essential to living a full and free life. But it got me thinking – might the Founding Mothers have had some additional thoughts – like freedom from want of more time, less stress, more space, less clutter?

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The Simpler the Better

Receiving a thank you note in the mail is pleasant. It’s even more pleasant when you’re being thanked for something you didn’t realize would make an impact on the other person. This happened to me when I offered a simple organizing solution to a Realtor I had met at a networking event. She asked me if I had any ideas how she could keep all her real estate forms portable and organized. I suggested a portable accordion file. The next thing I know, I’m reading a very sincere thank you note that makes me smile. It just goes to show you, sometimes the simplest organizing solutions are the best solutions. In this case, find a good home for paper and things.

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Reproducing the Vacation Tranquility at Home

A client of mine told me a story of how she had to move out of her home temporarily and live in a much smaller apartment. She only took her utmost essentials. When she was able to move back into her home, she came to the sudden realization that she was able to live happily with very little and is currently on a mission to purge the unessential from her life. I thought to myself, “That is exactly how I feel when I get back from a vacation.” Have you ever gone on vacation and realized when you came home that you had lived quite easily without all the “stuff” in your home? Would you like to recreate that feeling again (without having to move out of your house) so you are motivated to purge the clutter from your home?

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Less is more

Because I am an organizer many people think I hate stuff, that I despise things and belongings.  When working with a client one-on-one I am able to dismiss this assumption pretty fast.  I don’t hate stuff and I do not disregard other people’s precious items.  What I try to help people see is that relationships and quality of life are so much more important than anything we own.  Organizing is often not about the physical stuff so much as it is about our perception of those things.

If disorganization, clutter or a lack of systems negatively affects you and those around you, you are being held captive by what you own and allowing it to control you.  This will cause stress in your life and ultimately your relationships.  Sometimes people have simply acquired more than their space can comfortably contain, but the belongings are relatively current.  Other times clients are drowning in an avalanche of memorabilia or things associated with memories.  This habit will hold you in the past, keep your present from being enjoyable and even your future from moving forward.

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Creating a Morning Ritual to Start the Day Off Right

I love my sleep, but I’ve discovered that I really love having time for a little morning quiet time before getting ready for work.

When the alarm goes off (a little earlier than it used to), I get up, put on my bathrobe, and sit in my chair by the window. It’s dark outside, but as I sit there for about 20-30 minutes, I can see the sky start to lighten. During these dark winter mornings, I turn on my “Happy Light” (like this one) and bask in the blue light as I let my brain slowly wake up. I read a brief daily thought in a favorite book (currently, this one) and prepare myself for the day.  I’ve found that allowing myself time to have this little ritual each day makes a difference in my resilience.

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How a Working Mom (and Dad) Survives Halloween

The first Halloween I re-joined the work force after having my children I had an enlightening experience. I worked in an office where I was the only working Mom. I knew that I would have a slightly different view on this venerable haunting holiday but it couldn’t be THAT different…RIGHT? After all my work colleagues surely donned a pirates’ costume or princess tiara when they were little buckaroos…RIGHT? Surely they remembered the exhilaration of dumping out the sugary loot to take stock after a chilly night of candy begging…RIGHT? Well, NO…they were clueless!

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A+ Homework Helpers

Try these tips to set up an effective homework spot for your child:

Provide a lap desk if your child likes to do homework in bed.
Clear the desk clutter.  Does your child have a clear space to spread outand work? Remove anything that has piled up on the desk but isn’t related to homework. Have the most-used supplies (pens, pencils, stapler, notepad) out on the desk and ready to go. Make sure your child’s desk has drawers or another spot to keep the less-used school/craft supplies. If your child prefers to work at the kitchen, stash supplies in a cabinet or basket. Have good lighting for the workspace. If your child likes to work on the bed, get a lap desk. Provide a place for the papers. No matter where your child likes to work – desk, bed, or kitchen counter – be sure they have a place to store their school papers. A desktop file works great – label a folder for each class.

Give papers a home with a desktop file.

Elizabeth Goodsell is a Professional Organizer and owner of That’s Neat! Organizing. Check us out at www.thatsneatorganizing.com or call 617-905-7762.

Time Management: Start at the TOP of Your To Do List

There are lots of things you start at the top, for example:

  1. Ice cream cones
  2. Writing letters
  3. Washing windows

And when the To Do list just looks too daunting, that’s where I start – at the top.

It’s tempting to look at the To Do list like a buffet menu. Which would be good to do first? And which do I feel like doing next?

But when nothing on the To Do list seems appealing, I’ve found that simply starting at the top and working my way down is the best way to actually get things checked off. Otherwise I just keep looking at the list and debating where to start.

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Procrastination and how to beat it

So what exactly is procrastination and how does it affect us? Procrastination is the postponement of action. As a result we get caught taking action at the last possible moment. This practice leads to tyranny of the urgent instead of what is of long term benefit or importance. Tasks that should have been fulfilled at an earlier time are addressed at that very moment, pushing other tasks out of the way.

Procrastination can make you scurry around at the last minute. This frenzy takes time away from other important tasks, activities or even your time to relax. You always lose your buffer when you push things off and a time buffer can be a great way to plan for the unexpected.

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Preparing Breakfast Ahead of Time

A Gift from Friends

Recently, some friends stayed in our home while we were away for a short holiday.  When we returned, they had left a pan of baked oatmeal in our refrigerator as a thank you gift.  It was one of the best things they could have given us!

Not only was the baked oatmeal YUMMY, but it provided both my husband and me a work week’s worth of warm breakfast.  Each morning, we’d spoon some into a bowl, pop it in the microwave for one minute, pour a little milk on top, and devour it.  Warm, comforting, yummy, filling, and quick and easy on a busy morning.

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