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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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.

Communicate Your Expectations

Communication is key when working toward maintaining a home with others.  Everybody is “wired” differently and may not be aware of the the same household tasks that need to be accomplished.  For example, if the dishwasher contains clean dishes, my first thought is, “the dishwasher needs to be emptied as soon as possible.”  My husband however may think, “the dishwasher needs to be emptied sometime.”  Therefore, I may leave the house for the day and when I arrive home later, although he may have been home all day, the dishwasher will not be emptied.  This is not a task that he felt needed immediate attention and piling dishes on the counter is acceptable to him.  If I do not verbalize my expectation that the dishwasher should be emptied as soon as possible, it will not be done.

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Write it Down: Get Those Fleeting Thoughts Out of Your Head!

The Problem of Too Many Thoughts

How many thoughts do you suppose run through your head in a day?  I didn’t do any formal research for this blog post, but based on personal experience I would suspect hundreds.  How many of those thoughts flutter in and out so quickly that you are left saying, “wait, what was I going to do?”

This phenomenon is something that has been part of my life for as long as I can remember.  The reason for bringing it up now is that a client of mine seems to have several of these moments every time we meet.  Often they are paired with a sense of urgency or dissatisfaction with himself for not following through with the thought.  I asked him what (if any) system he used for writing down those fleeting thoughts of things to buy, people to call, tasks to deal with.  He responded that either the idea did not get written down or it was jotted on a piece of loose paper sitting around.

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Three Tips for Creating a Successful To Do List

I have been making To Do lists since I was a kid.  And these are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.

1. List single tasks, not entire projects.

A task is a single, actionable step whereas a project is a series of tasks toward a goal.  So, for example, let’s say you want to paint your house.  If you write, “Paint house” on your To Do list, you’re setting yourself up for failure.  But if you write down, “Pick up paint chips at hardware store,” you can actually get started!

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Three Tips for Conquering Big Projects

My husband and I moved this summer and we systematically sorted through all our things and weeding what we didn’t need anymore/didn’t want to carry up three flights of stairs into the new apartment.

My husband has many, many books.  (Books are heavy!)  He’s also a librarian, so he sorted through his books and picked out the ones he could easily get where he works.  He weeded out over 100 books.

These books sat in piles in our already cramped home for a couple weeks.  I could tell that my husband had lost steam on the project and was not…enthusiastic…about actually getting the books out of the house.  So here’s what we did:

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