Comic Relief

 Simplicity + Robin’s Rules of Order = Synergy!

Simplifying and organizing our homes and our lives are oft-cited resolves that are often unrealized. We give ourselves a pass saying we’re ‘trying’ to do it. But a thoughtful, less-is-more lifestyle can be yours. We suggest a comic approach to a serious topic.  

In a joint presentation on September 14th at Myers Park Country Club, Laurie Martin from Simplicity and Robin McCoy, author of Robin’s Rules of Order and Writings on Robin’s Rules, you’ll learn a lot about the ‘why’ and the  ‘how’. Why we have so much stuff we don’t love, use or need, and how to tame the chaos to regain control of the things we do need, use and love.

Comics hold up a mirror and reflect a lot of truths in a succinct, approachable way.  Witty or corny, pointed or gentle, they pack a punch. Comics are truth tellers in an effortless, economical way.  They do so with fewer, better words. And they unintentionally champions Robin’s Rules of Order.  And the rules are just the starting point for a thoughtful discussion of how Simplicity can help you live better with less.

So don’t despair.  We will have a lighthearted but serious discussion about showing your things who’s boss!

 


Garage Organization Day With the Bremers

 

Part of Simplicity’s mission is to serve the Charlotte community with our gift of organization.  A few months ago at the ChariTea fundraiser event for the Charlotte Rescue Mission, Sharon Bremer mentioned that she really needed our services.  When asked what area of her home needed our services the most, she quickly said her garage. Sharon had just wrapped up her final treatment of  chemotherapy, so we decided there was no better gift to her family than the gift of organization. Soon after, we informed Sharon that our company would be coming to work alongside of her and help her organize her garage.  To understand more about our process, we asked Sharon to share about her experience working with Simplicity…

What was your reaction when Simplicity told you they were volunteering to organize your garage?  

I was overwhelmed with joy and SO surprised.  It is something I have been wanting to do for years.

 

Describe your garage prior to Simplicity arriving.  

Disheveled.  We have been stockpiling items for about 9 years including kids toys, camping gear, paint, old files, photos, etc…  

 

 

What feelings did you have when you came home to a driveway full of your stuff?  I could not believe that all of that “stuff” had been in our garage for so long.  I am not sure where we hid it all.

 

What was the process like having Simplicity work alongside of you?   

Simplicity made it easy.  When I came home everything was laid out in our driveway.  All I had to do was go through each pile and say keep, throw out, or donate.  Then they organized by section (sports, entertainment, camping, holiday, etc…) A few hours later the sweetest man, Vincent McCullough, with Trinity Painters, took our old paint to recycle and Junkluggers took the rest to donate and trash.  Simplicity lined up all the vendors and it was so such a relief to have it all completed in one day.

How long do you think it would have taken you to organize your garage on your own?

Well, with the help of Simplicity, it took 16 hours to organize the garage.  I don’t think I would ever organized like that. I think I would have given up after 2 days of going through old stuff.  It is mentally, physically, and emotionally draining, so to have a motivated and experienced team-made the entire process easy.

 

How has this experience impacted you and your family?  

My kids are actually keeping their toys and sports equipment organized.  Before they would throw it anywhere. Now everything has its place which saves SO much time when heading to the ball field.  Now when I go into the garage I feel at peace whereas before I felt anxious from all of the chaos. Having Simplicity organize our garage has made us realize the importance of organizing other rooms in the house to free up all the clutter.

 


Simplicity + The Junkluggers = A Win Win for Customers in Charlotte

Ready to reclaim your home? Whether your garage is overflowing with clutter, your basement is packed with boxes, or your attic is in disarray, The Junkluggers of Charlotte has partnered with Simplicity bringing world-class junk removal and professional organizing to homes and businesses in the Charlotte area.

The Junkluggers of Charlotte provides an environmentally-friendly alternative, saving tons of junk from landfills each year by donating on average 50% of the items they remove to local charities and recycling centers. When an item is donated on a customer’s behalf, Junkluggers will provide a tax-deductible receipt within 14 business days.

Serving Simplicity Clients

Our services match perfectly with what Simplicity does best; organize. After Simplicity has gone through your home or business we act as the “clean-up crew.” Our trucks arrive onsite removing items ready to be donated, recycled, or disposed of. The Junkluggers are dedicated to making sure your items are taken care of and bless the community.

Besides our 5-Star rating, Simplicity customers can trust The Junkluggers for their junk removal needs for many reasons, including:

  1. Free, no-obligation estimates. Simply call our office at (980) 288-5848 or book online for a free, in-person junk removal estimate.
  2. We’re on time. We’ll arrive within the two-hour appointment window you choose, and if we don’t, you’ll get a discount of up to 10% based on our arrival time.
  3. We price by volume and guarantee our estimates. When our fully insured Luggers arrive, just point out what needs to be removed, and they’ll provide you with an estimate that guarantees you won’t pay more than the quoted price. Even better, if your items take up less than expected, you’ll pay the lower price!
  4. We remove & load your items. If you accept the estimate, we’ll get started right away. Our luggers will lift and haul away your items safely, taking great care to protect your property from damage.
  5. We recycle & donate. At The Junkluggers, we’re dedicated to eco-friendly junk removal, and will donate or recycle whenever possible. We know how to safely recycle, donate, and dispose of e-waste from old printers, appliances and TV’s. We provide tax-deductible receipts within 14 days for anything we can donate on your behalf.

Our crews can also provide muscle (hourly labor) for jobs that require heavy lifting, staging furniture, or emptying of attics and basements.

About The Junkluggers

Founded in 2016, The Junkluggers of Charlotte is family owned and operated by Bryan Rainey and his two sons, Caleb and Josh. Currently serving Myers Park, Dilworth, Ballantyne, Concord, Statesville, Davidson, Huntersville, Lake Norman, Fort Mill and the surrounding Charlotte areas.

The Junkluggers® of Charlotte

1-800-LUG-JUNK (584-5865)

www.junkluggers.com

 

 


Five Simple Tips for Organizing your Playroom

Keep in Mind that “Less Is More”

When setting up a playroom or kid-centric area, it’s important to consider the concept that “less is more.” I always think of the 80-20 Rule. According to Anne Steppe, professional organizer and member of the Simplicity team, 80 percent of the time, your children are playing with only 20 percent of their toys. This should give you insight into just how many things kids have that they don’t even play with. Keep this in mind when choosing the amount of toys to keep in a playroom at any given time.

Label Bins with Pictures as well as Words

Labeling toy bins is an obvious organizational plus, but including a picture of each bin’s contents (on both ends) offers an added bonus. This allows even young children to know where items belong and makes it easier for them to put things away during cleanup. It helps them develop a sense of maintaining order — a great habit they will use for years to come in other areas of their lives.

Label the Back of Puzzle Pieces

My kids love puzzles, but whenever they played with different puzzles at the same time, the pieces always got mixed up. This made it hard for them to finish the puzzles, which was always frustrating. On top of that, when it came time to clean up, it was usually quite difficult to figure out which pieces went with each puzzle. The solution for this is simple. For each puzzle, place an identifying mark — a colored dot, a number, a simple shape — on the back of each piece. This makes it easy to know which pieces belong with each particular puzzle.

Store Bins Containing Small Toys or Figurines Out of Reach

Instead of allowing your child easy access to bins containing little toys or pieces, which inevitably end up being dumped out and often mixed up with other toys, keep these bins out of reach. You should be the one to manage them. I always tell my kids that I will take down a new bin once the current toys they are playing with have been cleaned up. This helps prevent kids from dumping a ton of toys on the floor, which creates a messy, confusing atmosphere that makes it difficult to play effectively.

Rotate/Purge Toys Every Few Months

Kids’ interests and abilities change frequently and they may quickly outgrow their toys. What was appropriate a few months ago soon becomes too easy or boring for them. Typically, this results in a bunch of toys gathering dust and taking up valuable space in your playroom. For this reason, every few months, flip the toys, keeping those that are most appropriate in rotation. Kids will then enjoy their toys more, playing with them more eagerly and effectively. And when it comes time to purge toys from the playroom, let your kids help. Along with having them play a role in the cleanup, this allows them to realize how many things they haven’t been playing with that could be shared with other children.

By Jess O’Roarke, Simplicity Organizer

ENOUGH

Stress, anxiety, regret – these words too often describe our lives in today’s modern culture. We are overwhelmed by clutter in our calendars, our homes, and even in our wants and needs.

At the end of 2017 I read “Enough – Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity” by Adam Hamilton. Realizing when we have enough and living in a place of simplicity and generosity are in stark contrast to how our society works today. We live in a continuous state of consumerism and we are constantly told we need more, bigger, and better.

When is enough ENOUGH?

In his book, Hamilton discusses how chasing the “American Dream” has resulted in many of us living beyond our means and drowning in credit card debt. “A key part of experiencing financial and spiritual freedom is found in simplicity and in exercising restraint.” What if we started 2018 by being wise with our finances?

Much of our desire for more, or the newest, or the best comes from a deep struggle with discontentment.  Adam outlines four keys to how you can cultivate contentment:

  1. Make it a habit to look on the bright side or find the silver lining in your circumstances. There is always something positive to focus on.
  2. Ask yourself, “How long will this make me happy?” Too often you may buy something, thinking it will make you happy, only to find that the happiness lasted about as long as it took to open the box. Try asking that question before you make a purchase. It’s amazing how often you will change your mind.
  3. Develop a grateful heart – gratitude is essential if you are to be content. In every situation you can either complain or be grateful, focus on the disappointments or give thanks for the blessings.
  4. Ask yourself, “Where does my soul find true satisfaction?” Contrary to what the world would have you believe, the longing of your soul cannot be satisfied by shopping in a mall or online.

Rather than focusing all of our energy on the now and seeking only pleasure from our material things, we need to find that magical place where we spend wisely and we are living within our means. Please don’t misunderstand because I’m not saying don’t buy things, don’t go out to eat, don’t have fun. I am saying make a budget, stick to it, be smart with your finances in 2018, and be thankful for everything you have. Choose to live more simply, to be more generous, and to enjoy life and the people you love.  

Adam also suggests ways to simplify and make financial goals easier to accomplish:

  1. Set a goal of reducing your consumption and choose to live below your means. Imagine small changes that will reduce your trash and require fewer trips to the gas station!  
  2. Before making a purchase, ask yourself “Do I really need this?” and “Why do I want this?” This will help you discover the true motive behind your desire to buy something. Also, practice the 24-hour rule: wait 24 hours before making a purchase that is not a necessity.
  3. Use something up before buying something new. Take good care of the things you buy and use them until they are empty, broken or worn-out.
  4. Plan low-cost entertainment – simple and cheap – that enriches your life. You don’t always have to spend money to have fun.
  5. Ask yourself, “Are there major changes that would allow me to simplify my life?” What things in your life are causing you stress? Is it time to downsize? Are there things you pay for every month but never use? These questions can apply to your home, possessions, job and activities.

When striving to simplify our lives and our finances, we need to remember that less is often more. Having less definitely reduces the stress and the financial burdens in our lives. Let’s start 2018 with thankful hearts, focused on living simply and being generous because the most important things in life aren’t things.  We have been blessed so that we can bless others.  

By Melissa Stultz, Simplicity Organizers


Create a Timeline for Your Decluttering Plan

Have a list of every room that needs to be decluttered. Looking at this list, create a realistic timeline for completing each project. Give yourself at least one day to complete each room. If you’re decluttering multiple days in a row, give yourself a day off once a week to complete other tasks, relax and avoid getting burnt out. Allow yourself at least 30 minutes to complete the subsections of each room on that list.

“Stacks and piles didn’t appear overnight. It took time to accumulate. Getting organized takes time too! Estimate how long you think an area will take and then time yourself. Remember success breeds success. Start small and experience the joy of being organized!” – Laurie Martin

For the full article with more decluttering tips click here.


Simplicity Interviews Former Simplicity Organizer and Author, Robin McCoy

How did you decide to become a professional organizer with Simplicity Organizers?

I’ve always been organized.  Bed made, notebook in order, permission slip signed… so helping others get organized seemed a natural extension.  A propensity for organization is something inborn- like eye or hair color.  But unlike physical characteristics which are fixed, we can get better at keeping our ducks in a row.  And I wanted to help others get better.  Changing homes can change lives.

Tell us a bit about how your experience as a professional organizer with Simplicity prompted you to write down Robin’s Rules of Order – Principles and practices for your best nest.

Working for Simplicity was a fantastic opportunity to hone my organizing skills.  It also gave me a great platform for teaching clients some of the tricks that work for me.  I decided that Rules was a better name than tricks.  Ironically, Rules liberate.  They give you guardrails for keeping your material world under control.  And once you know some Rules, on occasion, you can break them!

Who would you recommend hiring a professional organizer to?

A professional organizer can help in myriad circumstances.  A move, especially to smaller quarters is an obvious time.  A blended family (how many toasters or tvs do you really need) might benefit from professional help.  And for those who are staying put but are ready to clear out the clutter of things they no longer (or worse- never) used or loved, Simplicity can keep the project on time and on track.

How are your Rules and Simplicity Organizers connected?

Robin’s Rules and Simplicity Organizers are connected at the hip.  Rules provide the “why” and Simplicity provides the “how”. When you first consider why you have come to have so many things you do not use or love, it makes it much easier to deal with how to get them under control. The boxes, bins, trash bags and labeler are tools to employ after you’ve gotten a grip on the psychological and emotional components of stuff. Why before how for the best results!

My relationship with Simplicity is warm and collaborative.  They have been unfailingly supportive of my new venture and I am certain of the transformation Simplicity provides- changing homes and changing lives.  

You seem to practice what you preach so naturally. Has it always been easy to do?

There have been times in my life where I tended more toward excess than I do now. But never would you find my living space a mess.  My childhood bedroom, my school desk or book bag, my college dorm, rented apartments, hotel rooms, houses… I am uncomfortable if my space isn’t in order.  And I’ve found it easier to keep that order if I don’t have too much stuff. But I am not a minimalist.  I’m an “enoughist”.  That’s my word for the place where things are balanced between too little and too much.  My grandmother used to tell me, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”  I love that mantra.  It is particularly satisfying when you are following it, not out of desperation or sheer necessity, but out of sheer desire to live more simply and thoughtfully.

We LOVE Robin’s Rules of Order. Tell us more about your latest book, Writings on Robin’s Rules – For your Nest, Refreshed.

I love that you love my books.  Writings on Robin’s Rules grew from a few random essays into a full fledged book.  Some early readers of Robin’s Rules of Order said their only complaint was that it was too short.  So I kept writing, under the guise of a blog. But those who know me know that a book suits me better than a blog and thus, the second book. It expands on the principles, philosophies and practices that were introduced in the first book.  In some essays the Rule is explicitly identified and sometimes more obliquely. But the Rules are the foundation for it all. And don’t be put off by the term essay. They are really just short, hopefully thought-provoking musings.

What one principle best defines and links Robin’s Rules and Simplicity?

Antoine de St. Exupéry’s belief:  “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add but when there is nothing more to take away.” For both the why and the how of dealing with our things, it is the reductive process, not an additive one that makes things work.  When we identify the things we neither use nor love, and let them go, what’s left is perfection. And like beauty, perfection is in the eye of the beholder.  It’s your decision and your delight!


More can be More

Maybe not what you’d expect coming from professional organizers who preach the gospel of less.  But sometimes, more is exactly right.  Like this adorable gingerbread house decorated by a little friend of Simplicity.  Colorful, plentiful and slightly askew adornments are what make this house perfect.

So what’s the lesson?  On occasion, more works, but usually, less is more.  And always, enough is enough.

As the holidays bear down, lighten up.  Embrace the stirring creatures, even the mouse!

Happy Holidays from Simplicity!


Mindfulness: A State of Inner Simplicity

By Amanda Zaidman of Constructive Parenting

As humans we evolved in a time of scarcity. For most of human history there was never enough to eat, never the promise of a roof over our heads, never the assurance of safety and stability. Fortunately, many of us no longer live with scarcity but the pendulum has swung the way. Now it is almost too easy to get food, clothes and other goods affordably. In fact, it is so easy that many of us have found ourselves surrounded by too much. Our brains haven’t caught on to the fact that resources are no longer scarce and we continue to crave more, more, more.

This plays out in many different ways. We can’t eat just one chip. We start to feel down and we rely on retail therapy for a pick-me-up. We hear about the latest gadget, and instantly thoughts of owning it consume us. We hear about our neighbor’s child playing soccer or competing in gymnastics and we get a pang of guilt that we haven’t signed our child up for that sport yet. The result is regret about expanding waist lines, homes filled with too many things, and a schedule that is so full that we don’t have time to just be together as a family.

I am not preaching from a soapbox. I live with a constant desire to have more, do more, and be more too. But feeling guilty about this desire is not productive. The goal is to acknowledge that this need for more exists so that we can gain the freedom to make different choices. Because what we know about the brain is that when it is constantly overwhelmed by “too much” (food, stuff, activities, choices) we become stressed and the result is that we end up walking around with a very short fuse.

Think about it. When was the last time you lost your temper or completely over reacted, and you surfaced from your anger only to wonder “whoa, what just happened? That’s not me. That’s not who I want to be?” Maybe you cursed at a driver who cut you off as you were hurrying to an appointment in your car. Maybe you completely lost your temper with your spouse or your kids. If you are tired of feeling stressed out as the result of our “too much” life styles it may be time to simplify.

This is where mindfulness comes in. We have all heard this trendy word but what does it really mean and how can it help? Mindfulness is simplifying where we place our attention so that instead of always being distracted by a worry about the future or a concern about the past we make an intention to bring our focus back to the present moment. We are so used to multitasking and we are so addicted to distractions that it is actually really hard to focus on what is going on right here and right now. But when you make the choice to slow down (to literally pause), your brain gets the message that things are safe and the stressful feelings dissolve. The result is that you gain the ability to choose how you want to respond to a situation rather than always having to look back after the fact wondering why you reacted the way you did. There is a famous Viktor Frankl Quote that captures this best, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

The following are tips for how mindfulness can help you simplify so you can get back to your best self.

Start with your values

What are the things that are most important to you and your family? Come up with a list of five values or positive traits and write them down. These are the qualities that you want your children to possesses as they become adults. These values can become the backbone for your choice to live mindfully. Believe me, making change is hard and when you feel the pull to give in or give up having a little backbone to lean on is super handy.

Mindful choices in daily life.

Once you have identified your values think about how you can start simplifying your daily life. If gratitude is important to you and you have noticed that lately your children seem entitled, maybe it is time to pare down the number of toys they have. Parents find that when kids are less overwhelmed with so many choices, favorite toys are rediscovered, creativity increases, and play becomes more peaceful between siblings. If the playroom isn’t the only room that has become chaotic with “too much” stuff, consider hiring an organization company to help you create a space that better reflects your values.

Next take a look at your schedule. If every minute of every day is filled with organized activities, it may be time to simplify here as well. As parents we feel pressure to give our children as many opportunities as possible and this may mean lots and lots of lessons. Piano, Spanish, tennis, golf, baseball, gymnastics– you get the point. After a long day in school children need down time for their brains to decompress from the stress of being “on” all day. They need time to play outside, time to build forts in their rooms and time for boredom. Yes, boredom. This gives them the opportunity to be their most creative selves.

If your family is still too busy with activities after school to relax together, why not make family dinners together a priority? This is a mindful choice that we can make as parents that allows us to create meaningful bonds with our children. While you are together you can spend time mindfully eating (pausing to consider where your food came from, how it got to your table, what flavors make up the meal). You can practice mindful listening as each person shares about their day, what they are grateful for, and what they learned from the mistakes they made (mindful listening means giving your full attention to the other person rather than thinking about what clever thing you will say next). When you are done you can mindfully clean up together.

Start a formal mindfulness practice.

If your goal is to truly simplify where you focus your attention so that you can live more fully in the moment, the best way to do this is to start a formal mindfulness practice. If the thought of sitting for 30 minutes in silence seems like it could never work for you, remember to try to set yourself up for success by starting with small manageable steps. Try downloading a mindfulness app like Calm or Headspace and learn to pause and ground yourself by focusing on your breathing. Do three-minute guided meditations for a few days in a row. If you miss a day don’t beat yourself up, just start again.   If you want to take it a step further take an eight-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course in your community or online. Remember, the goal of mindfulness meditation is not to sit with an empty mind. Rather it is to notice when you get distracted and gently bring your attention back to the present. Likewise, the goal of living mindfully is not to be a perfect. It is to notice when you are making a choice that is not aligned with your values, to learn from that mistake and then to start again with intention.

For other helpful parenting tips check out Constructive Parenting