The Why and How of Order

Clutter comes in many forms- none pretty. We have cluttered homes, calendars, schedules and minds. How to deal with all the clutter and chaos is where many people start. If you’re a shopper, buying matching containers and bins to hold all your things sounds like fun. Hiring a professional organizer seems like the perfect solution for taming too much stuff. With the right supplies and the right talent, the clutter problem will be solved!

Hold on a minute. Buying more things to solve the problem of too many things is an inauspicious start.

A more reasoned starting point is why. Why do I have so much stuff? Am I a recreational shopper? Am I a doormat for family “heirlooms”? Am I keeping up with the Joneses? Am I buying ‘just in case’? There are plenty of whys. And the answers may vary, but one thing is certain. If you don’t explore why, the how will suffer.

At the Cornwell Center’s Learning Connection, Robin’s Rules and Simplicity Organizers connect and you will learn why and how to make 2017 your best and simplest year ever.

The Why and How of Order

Wednesday, Feb. 15
10:30am-12:00pm
The Cornwell Center
FREE- no registration required

Robin’s Rules of Order will help you with why. The principles and practices explained in the book will guide your thinking. Thinking that should precede any doing. The Rules pave the way for Simplicity Organizers to do what they do spectacularly well. The how. These professionals specialize in clearing out the unnecessary to focus on what matters most-creating space, balance and harmony in homes and lives. Simplicity does much more than just purging and organizing stuff. They’re really your partner in ‘life simplified’. You’ve answered the why by considering Robin’s Rules.

The next step is for Simplicity to show you how. That inauspicious start can be the perfect ending!

Why? Robin’s Rules of Order

How? Simplicity Organizers  

 

 


Procrastination

 

When we willingly defer something even though we expect the delay to make us worse off, we’re procrastinating. (per Piers Steel) And most of us are guilty as charged. It’s so easy to find a distraction that doesn’t demand much commitment that avoiding a demanding task or project is commonplace. But dragging our feet doesn’t make the job go away. It only makes us feel guilty, inadequate and ultimately overwhelmed.

Procrastination has many faces. The thrill-seeker loves the euphoric rush of waiting until the last minute. The avoider often has unrealistic expectations or a serious case of perfectionism. The decision avoider feels that by dilly-dallying, he’s absolved of any responsibility for the outcome.

Procrastination might be a basic impulse, but it’s also bad habit. It’s costly and anxiety producing. Failing to file taxes on time results in fines. Late papers and projects can mean failing grades. Dithering over a decision often closes the door on options.

Here’s a procrastination conundrum: Avoiding the onerous task doesn’t seem to make people happy. This is what William James was talking about. Not doing something we know needs to be done is exhausting and defeating. In our heart of hearts, we know that “One of these days is none of these days.” Henri Tubach

So how can we overcome the tendency to dawdle? Try better planning. Set deadlines or have others set them for you and impose penalties for failure to comply. Expect interruptions- they’re part of life so give yourself enough time to complete the project even if the roof springs a leak or the dog goes missing.

Divide projects into smaller parts, each with better definition so the tasks are concrete and you don’t have to think about how to start. Restrict your options.   If you need to buy a new washing machine, determine your budget. Ask two friends for recommendations. Read several consumer reviews. Pick one that looks good enough- no expectation of perfection. Buy the darn thing!

Will power has been compared to a muscle that can be strengthened through exercise. Making now the time to act, paves the way for that pattern to more easily be repeated. You can become one of those people who accomplish things in a timely fashion. The best way to get something done is to begin.

 Getting Things Done by David Allen is full of time- management tips.

“The Thief of Time” essays edited by Chrisoula Andreuo and Mark White

By Robin McCoy

 

 

 

 

 


Nature: Your Personal Decompression Chamber

Natures peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.

~John Muir, Our National Parks

While rubbing elbows with the birds and the bees can become a bit more challenging during the winter months, getting outside and moving in nature should be a priority all year through. The benefits of crisp clean air, a good dose of bright light or the peace found in the sound of rippling water can go far beyond that moment to completely transform your day. Research is piling up to show that perhaps one of the quickest ways to a better mood and a healthier mind and body, is simply moving your lunch hour and/or your exercise routine to a park, a field, a forrest, or a patch of grass near you. So bundle up, if necessary, but just grab those boots and go. Don’t let a little weather keep you from getting out there and enjoying all those gifts the natural world has waiting for you.

Here are our top 4 reasons for soaking up a bit of nature right NOW:

  1. Kick the Seasonal Blues

If you are anything like me, the lack of sunshine during the winter months can get leave  you feeling a bit down. So much for myself, in fact, that we moved to Florida for four  years to combat it. It is not necessary, however, to pick up your life and move to the sunshine, just make an effort to get outside everyday around noon when the  sun is at its brightest, to soak up some of nature’s very best blues busters. If you also combine your time outside with some exercise, you get a double dose of that mood  lifting healing-power.

“It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it. “

~John Burroughs

  1. Relieve Stress Naturally

Think of nature as a personal decompression chamber that is always available to you. It heals, soothes, and restores. Feelings of overwhelm that are too often a part of our modern lives, can be gently and quickly eased by simply taking a walk outside, breathing, and noticing the beauty and continuity of the natural world.

Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

  1. It Doesnt Get Boring

Nature is ever-changing. The color, the light, the scents, the living things, will never be the same from day to day and season to season. Research shows that we are far more likely to keep up with a workout that does not feel monotonous and at the same time, feeds our soul. So, while I am not suggesting you give up your gym membership, moving your workout or your yoga practice outside a couple days a week will keep you routine (and your lungs), fresh.

Is the spring coming? he said. What is it like? …‘It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine, and things pushing up and working under the earth.

~Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

  1. Up Your Ecological Intelligence Quotient

Even if you don’t consider yourself a true “nature lover”, exposure to nature is key. By upping your time spent outside and making an effort to absorb the gifts of nature, you will move toward an appreciation for it. So if bugs freak you out, or if the wind makes you a bit crazy, take a moment to literally stop and smell the roses or the rosemary or a sprig of pine and see if it doesn’t instantly pick you up. Then, give it a try the next day, and the next and the next. Your love of nature is sure to grow, making you far more likely to become a protector of this beautiful world. And it is no secret, that we need many, many  more protectors.

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.

Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

 

 

 

 

 


Use Your Gifts for Good

Earlier this year Simplicity and Carolina Organizers volunteered their skills for a major transformation of the Fashion & Compassion’s* jewelry room. Even Laurie Martin, the team leader at Simplicity, was speechless when she first stepped into the room and saw the huge quantities of beads to be organized!

Our jewelry room is the where the heart of our ministry in Charlotte happens… Women overcoming human trafficking, addiction, incarceration, domestic abuse, as well as refugees and immigrants find purpose, peace and community in this room as they create the beautiful jewelry designs we sell to fund our work. These women’s lives are often full of chaos – when they come to Fashion & Compassion and we want them to find hope and healing rather than disorder and disarray.

Fashion Compassion sorting

Creative-types aren’t known for their organizational skills and this is true for our wonderful jewelry-project staff! They have amazing design skills and huge hearts, but keeping thousands of beads in order is not their specialty. We’re so grateful that Simplicity and Carolina Organizers took our project on… Simplicity developed a plan and we secured the supplies needed, then a dozen of Charlotte’s finest professional organizers went to work sorting and arranging beads for 2-3 hours one weekday night. Our jewelry room was transformed! The atmosphere of the room now matches the peaceful, happy spirit of the rest of the beautiful 116-year old Victorian house in Dilworth we call home.

Fashion Compassion beads

Everyone has unique gifts and skills this world is desperate for. I’m grateful that Simplicity and Carolina Organizers blessed us with the gift of their skills and time – we were certainly in desperate need! What do you have to offer to a world in need? Creativity, bringing order out of chaos, or one of millions of other gifts and skills? Consider what you have to offer and find a place where you can use your gifts for good.

Fashion Compassion

*Fashion & Compassion is a 501c3 non-profit organization providing part-time, transitional employment to women (and some men) in vulnerable communities around the world – including Charlotte! Fashion & Compassion’s products are available for sale at their website and their local boutique and workshop located at 1717 Cleveland Avenue. Please consider shopping with a purpose at Fashion & Compassion as you purchase gifts for loved ones this holiday season.

Fashion Compassion leader

By Michele Dudley, Executive Director, Fashion & Compassion

 

 


Less is More During the Holidays

Wreath

Ultimately we want to fill the holidays with more joy, relaxation and time with family and friends. Instead, we have a tendency to fill the holidays with more commitments and more stress all the while draining our bank accounts and adding to landfills.

Many of us can certainly be guilty of spending half of a day making and packaging cutesy Pinterest holiday treats (which will soon be forgotten) for every last neighbor and co-worker, rather than spending that time fulfilling a holiday tradition with my children (an action, which will unfortunately, not be forgotten anytime soon by their precious minds).

How do we shift our actions to align with what we want and what brings us true happiness?

  • Wrap yourself up in only the important things. Decide as a family what activities/traditions are non-negotiable. Before taking on anything extra, ask yourself, “Am I doing this for myself, a family member or friend? Would I do this if I couldn’t brag on Facebook or Instagram that I did it? Am I doing this for pleasure or because I feel like I ‘should’ do it?”
  • Put on blinders to advertisements. First cancel, then recycle all catalogs. Unsubscribe from and delete emails from retailers. Consolidate your shopping trips and eliminate them, when possible, to free up time and to avoid the impulse buys.
  • Go green. Choose live decorations, garland and pine cones. The scent brings joy and there is nothing to store away at the end of the season.

The Center for a New American Dream reports that more than three-quarters of Americans want the holidays to be less materialistic. Yet people are still just gifting stuff for the sake of gifting, with utter disregard for the consequences to the recipient and the environment. An online survey conducted for eBay in Nov. 2008 found that of U.S. adults who receive gifts during the holidays, 83 percent receive unwanted items. It seems we love to give more than we love to get.

How do we remedy the issue of “stuff” while satisfying our desire to “give”?

  • Give experiences, not stuff. Click here for a list of suggestions on non-physical gift ideas for everyone in your life, including your children.
  • When a physical gift seems like a must, create something.
  • Re-gift. If you have acquired a gift that you feel bad getting rid of, sell it and donate part or all of the proceeds to a charity in honor of the person who gifted it to you. See our list of charity suggestions here.

We’ve all experienced the overwhelm of too much stuff. Our garages and playrooms are bulging at the seams and quite frankly, so are our nerves and patience. Review these tips for managing your garage and your playroom so you can spend more time living rather than being a manager of things.

In closing, remember one thing this holiday season…less can, in fact, be more.

 

SIMPLICITY’S DECEMBER PROMOTION

If you book services from Monday, December 12th-Wednesday, December 23rd, you will receive 15% off your entire organizational service.  This does not include organizational supplies.

SIMPLICITY’S GIFT IDEAS:

GIVE THE GIFT OF TIME!

When you purchase 4 hours of organizing,

you will receive one free hour that can be applied to a Needs Assessment

or a to a basic hour of organizing.

(Cost $260)

BUY 1-GIVE 1

Pre-purchase one hour of organizing for yourself and receive a free hour of service to give to a family member or friend who has not used our services before.

(Cost $70)

*Travel restrictions apply.


What Type Are You?

The idea of personality type has always been intriguing to me. Over the years, I’ve taken several personality tests – Myers-Brigg, Enneagram, Love Languages, etc.  With each test, you can learn a bit more about yourself. Are you a judger? Agreeable? Introverted? Extroverted? Do you like to receive gifts or spend quality time?  The list goes on and on.

carson tate working simply

Recently, I had the opportunity to take a different type of personality test. I was able to learn my “Productivity Style”.  For two days (approximately 20 hours), I attended a two-day implementation boot camp called “Working Simply: Work Smarter, Not Harder”.

Led by expert and author, Carson Tate, the purpose was twofold – to learn more about my own style and how to increase my personal productivity, but also to learn how to detect and identify other people’s styles so that I can help clients not only in their homes but also their lives.

The first morning began with a seemingly innocuous task – use a large blank sheet to describe your productivity in various ways.  Being the prioritizer that I am, my sheet contained bullet points, numbers, straight lines, and I finished first. Apparently, finishing first is a common trait for prioritizers. As I looked around the room waiting for others to finish, I realized immediately the purpose of the task.  With a very short and concise activity, it can become quickly obvious to detect someone’s “type.”

carson tate workshop

From prioritizers (me), to planners (my colleagues), to visualizers and arrangers, we covered the gamut.  I learned that my “prioritizing” style tends to be straightforward and fact reliant (not a big surprise).  We moved on to sequential and organized “planners” and intuitive and big picture “visualizers”. Lastly, we became acquainted with “arrangers”, those who thrive on relationships and like to focus more on people than the process.

The rest of the two day boot camp was an intense study of personal productivity. How do you manage your schedule – on paper or digitally? How do you manage your time – focused or distracted? We learned how to improve communication when considering your audience – how to determine your co-worker’s and client’s productivity style? We even spent time with a tech guru to make our inboxes work for us rather than us working for our inboxes? Do you ever feel like a slave to your inbox? I’m sure I’m not the only one.

All in all, we were able to come away with a toolbox full of ways to increase our own productivity and communication. We also walked away with many resources to help our clients in their lives; from home office organization to simply managing the endless to-do’s of daily life.

On the last day, during the last hour, each attendee was asked to “free-write” for ten minutes on a blank sheet of unlined paper.  My “visualizer” neighbor made a bullet point list…something she had never done before. My “prioritizer” bullet point list from the first day turned into a stream of consciousness memoir of the past two days.  I walked in as a “prioritizer” and walked away more in touch with my inner “visualizer,” a true measure of bootcamp success.

Carson Tate Group pic

Simplicity’s Shyla Hasner, Laurie Martin and Jenna Skaff with Carson Tate.

By Jenna Skaff


Out of Sight, Not Out of Mind

 

garagesbasementsattics2

Perfect is the enemy of good enough. Maybe you want your living space perfect, but better might be good enough for your storage areas. Don’t sabotage your efforts by holding these areas to the same standard you desire for the living room or bedroom. A good rule of thumb- if it’s not climate controlled, don’t sweat the details. And if it’s not climate controlled, be careful about what you store. Memorabilia, off season clothes and paperwork don’t fare well in damp, temperature-extreme conditions.

When it comes to organizing, the garage suffers an identity crisis. Is it part of the house or not? Does it merit a high level of “spiffing “ or does anything go? Is it a place to park cars or is that fantasy thinking?

Regardless of how you view your garage, some organizing can be helpful.   This is a project to tackle when the weather is mild. Too hot or too cold and you’ve got a built-in excuse for quitting!

With garages, the contents may be different from what’s in your house, but the organizing process is the same. First, envision how you want your garage to function- what’s working and what’s not? Then, it’s time to roll up your sleeves.

Garage

Sort and Purge

Everything comes out and is separated into one of three piles- keep, donate or toss.

Reorganize

All the keepers are stored with like kind, with most frequently used items being easily accessible. Open wire shelving is an excellent, affordable option for keeping things off the floor and in easy reach. Shelf height can be adjusted to accommodate your needs. If your budget permits, a custom installed garage storage system is as good as it gets.

Contain

When practical, use clear, lidded containers for storage.   Dirt and bugs will be minimized and small items won’t be lost.

Label

If you have a label maker, use it. If not, consider buying one. It’s a purchase you won’t regret.

Discard /Donate

Don’t sabotage your project by letting trash and donations linger. Call the city for an extra trash pickup and load the car with donations. If you’ve got a mountain of discards, using a professional rubbish removal service to haul it all away will be money well-spent.

simplicity-garage-promo2


Simplicity’s Student Planner

student-agenda-cover

“The assignment is due when? Today??”

We’ve all been there at some point. Somehow, that assignment due date just slipped right up on us without our noticing. That is why organizational skills are so important to school performance.

Using a planner is the key to time management!

Students are doing more than ever before-taking multiple classes, completing homework, preparing for projects, studying for tests, participating in afterschool activities, playing sports, and attending family and other social events. With so much to juggle, it is important for students to have a planner that works for them. Planners help students track and organize all their to do’s including their homework, tests, projects, and other events. Planners reduce stress, increase productivity, and prevent students from feeling overwhelmed. It’s important to invest in a planner that fit’s your child’s needs.

Tips for Using a Planner

  1. Pick the right planner. Take your time when choosing a pocket planner. Find one that fits inside a special pocket or pouch in your book bag if you can. Avoid planners with locks or zippers that will only annoy you. Little things like that will become a hassle and create bad habits.
  2. Put your name on your planner. At some point throughout the school year-most students misplace their planner. Take 30 seconds to put your name and phone number or email on your planner-just in case!
  3. Make the planner a part of your daily routine. Carry it with you at all times and remember to check it every morning and every night.
  4. Fill in your assignment due dates as soon as you learn them. Get in the habit of writing in your planner while you’re still in the classroom. Don’t put it off!
  5. Learn to use backward planning. When you write a due date in your planner, go back a day or a week and give yourself a reminder that the due date is approaching.
  6. Use a color-coding system. Keep some colored stickers on hand and use those for reminders that a due date or other important event is approaching. For instance, use a yellow caution sticker to serve as a warning two days before your research paper is due.

Put everything in your planner. You must remember that anything that takes up time, like a date or a ball game, will keep you from working on an assignment. If you

  1. don’t put these things in your planner as time out, you may not realize how limited your homework time really is. This leads to cramming and all-nighters.
  2. Use flags. You can buy sticky-note flags and use them as tabs to indicate the end of a term or the due date of a large project. This is a great visual tool that serves as a constant reminder of a imminent due date.
  3. Don’t discard old pages. You will always have important information in your planner that you’ll need to see again at a later date. Old phone numbers, reading assignments—you’ll want to remember those things later on.
  4. Go ahead and congratulate yourself ahead of time. On the day after a big project is due, put in a reward appointment, like a trip to the mall or a meal out with friends. This can serve as positive reinforcement.

Things to Include in Your Planner

It is important to block off anything that consumes your time, in order to avoid conflict and crisis. Don’t forget:

  • Homework
  • Test, Quizzes and Papers
  • Holidays
  • Sports/Activities

If your child has lost their planner or has a planner that doesn’t seem to be working efficiently, consider using one of Simplicity’s student planners!

Simplicity’s planner includes:

  • A laminated, durable cover
  • 3 hole punched
  • Monthly calendars
  • A tab that divides the weekly calendars
  • Ample room to record assignments and projects
  • A special section to write announcements, reminders, and notes

To purchase a Simplicity Student Planner please email info@simplicity-organizers.com


Household Tips for Eco-Efficiency

eco-efficiency-october

We believe that people inherently want to be good stewards of the environment and its natural resources, but there are a few popular excuses that get in the way. Many people believe that going green will take more time or cost more money when in fact, it can even save you time and money, in some cases right up front.

Here are some simple steps to save energy, which will also save you some green.

  • Set your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer to save on heating and cooling costs. For every degree you turn your heat down in the winter, you can save up to 5% on your energy bill.
  • Install compact fluorescent light (CFLs) or LED bulbs when your older incandescent bulbs burn out. CFLs use 75% less energy and last 10 times as long as incandescent bulbs. While they cost more up front, they pay for themselves 10 times over during the life of the bulb!
  • Unplug appliances when you’re not using them. Or, use a “smart” power strip that senses when appliances are off and cuts “phantom” or “vampire” energy use. Americans spend about 4 billion a year on electricity for things they aren’t using!!!!
    1. Buy less electronics overall.
    2. Keep electronics as long as possible.
    3. Donate, if possible. There is no shortage of places that accept old phones for a great cause. Just google it.
    4. Recycle them! Simply Google search “Electronic Recycling” in your area.Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. As much as 85 percent of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes to heating the water.While most of the Earth’s surface (nearly 70%) is covered in water, one may wonder why water conservation is so important. Well, less than 1% of the Earth’s water is actually usable by people. We also have to consider that the population is growing but the water supply is not. Follow these steps to save water, money and time:
      • Take shorter showers. Most standard shower heads today release 2.5 gallons per minute! You will not only save water, but you’ll save the energy used to heat the water you aren’t using.
      • Install low-flow shower heads. Many can be found for under $20. They typically release 2 gpm (gallons per minute). Save $23-$33 annually. So with only one person showering you have paid off your low-flow shower head in less than one year!

      Even the foods you eat make an impact. According to the EPA, in 2012, nearly 30% of municipal waste was from containers and packaging. Here’s what you can do to help:

      • Buy from the bulk bins and avoid single-size packaged foods (which we don’t recommend packaged foods to begin with). You’ll save money and eliminate package waste.
      • Make one day a week meatless. Standard meat production is taxing on the environment and can be rather expensive. 1 pound of ground beef costs more than 1 pound of organic lentils. Yet the lentils yield more than double the servings than the ground beef and one serving of lentils still yields 11 g of protein.

      See more ideas on simplifying your pantry here.

      We are a society of convenience. But if we continue on as we have been, many of our greatest conveniences will be lost forever. Here are some ways to replace single use or disposable items without compromising convenience:

      • Quit the plastic water bottles. Simply use a filter from your fridge door or Brita or find a water bottle that has a filter built in.   Save $500 a year by eliminating 1 bottle of water a day. The production of plastic bottles uses a lot of oil and they typically head straight for the trash. Here is one of our favorite re-usable water bottles.
      • Use Micro Fiber cloths to replace paper towels. 1 Skoy cloth can replace 15 rolls of paper towels!
      • Use beeswax Abeego to replace foil/plastic wrap.

      Click here for more products we love that replace single use and disposable items.

      We all know how quickly technology gets updated and old technology becomes obsolete. This is very taxing on the environment, our happiness and our pocketbook. There truly is a battle here of wants versus needs. Getting the latest/greatest iPhone because it is more cutting edge is a want. Getting a new phone because yours is broken (or almost broken) is “closer” to a need. We can save money and the environment by hanging onto our TV’s, computers, phones and other electronics for their lifespan.

      Follow these simple steps (in order) to minimize your technology footprint:

    As with anything else in life, you don’t have to do it all at once. Pick one or two things to start with, then once those are habit, pick another suggestion to try.

    References:

    www.usgs.gov

    www.epa.gov


The Domino Effect

A client’s perspective by Lauren Shapiro

Shapiro_Pantry-BEFORE-4

The worst part about going to the grocery store every week was the annoying task of putting things away. I say annoying because that is what it was – a skillful game of perishable item Tetris, trying to figure out how to cram soups, sauces, pasta, snacks, cereal, baby food, baking items, and any other random necessity my husband thought we needed at the store that week into our small pantry. I’ve tried to organize my pantry many, many times…but it always seems to become a giant mess in no time.

I’m not going to lie, I was nervous before Simplicity arrived to organize my pantry. I was embarrassed. But I was also extremely excited at the thought of having a professional organizer tidy my pantry. As you can see from the before pictures, I really did need help.

Shapiro_Pantry-Process

Once we pulled everything out of the cabinets and sorted into what seemed like a million bins and we got down to the actual act of organizing, I realized there was no way organizing was going to stop with the pantry. And then a thought came into my mind, you know the one where the person pushes one little domino over and about a zillion dominos follow? Well, that’s what organizing my pantry turned out to be: a Domino Effect.

Shapiro_Pantry-Process4

We started emptying drawers, cabinets on either side of the stove in the kitchen, cabinets under the island, and even the laundry room. Before we began, it all seemed overwhelming, but it was actually very liberating! As we sorted the items in the pantry, Simplicity organizers asked questions about which things I use the most, how I work in my kitchen, and of course the dreaded question of “When was the last time you used this?” Once we figured out what was going to live in the pantry, there was a ton of extra items that now needed a new place to go. The domino effect was highly motivating to start organize other areas.

BEFORE-AFTER2BEFORE-AFTER

It was amazing to see how much we were able to organize in just 2 1/2 hours. Perhaps even more important, I had a very real sense of how to tackle the never-ending struggle to stay ahead of clutter and mess. Thank you, Simplicity, for the help. I’m excited to ride the wave of dominos and bring order to other areas of my home!

By Lauren Shapiro