1. Natural human motivation suggests "Things have to be easier to put away then they are to get out" because we have much less motivation to do that last part.
2. If someone's habit is to drop a certain item in the same place everyday, clear that space and make it where the item lives full time. Otherwise you're just fighting an uphill battle.
3. Clear and organise your OWN space first before asking others to sort theirs. It'll make the request seem a lot more reasonable.
4. Our children look to us for guidance. Just as we teach them to eat their greens, and practice their spelling words, so must we teach them the concept of allowing stuff to flow both in and out of our lives and homes.
5. When deciding whether to send something to an op shop ask yourself ' would I ask a friend to pay $5 for this item?'
6. Aim to own a few items that have many functions. Not own many items that have one function each.
7. When you're looking to buy an item ask yourself 'is this adding another job to my life? And if so, do I have time for another job? How will I feel if this item ends up sitting on the shelf unused after 6 months?'
8. The cost of an item is more than just it's ticket price. It includes lost opportunity cost, time, upkeep and your own focus and energy. Be a savvy shopper.
9. Everyone has everyday mess. The kind that changes often and is tidied up quickly. If there is stuff that's been hanging around for ages, that's an indication that there are some tricky decisions to be made about the items. It's wise to get help with sorting that kind of clutter.
10. Use your special things everyday. Don't keep them squirrelled away and boxes so they don't get scratched. Life's too short!
11. Special items and heirlooms lose their meaning after you're gone. Preserve stories by capturing photos of some of the items and writing about their significance. Your decendents may not want the obligation of looking after a box full of family knick-knacks but they'll be fascinated with a photo book instead. Bring alive the history and human-interest!
Last term my kids weren't helping me around the house enough.
I know I'm not alone in this...
So I sat down last week with these holidays and explained what would happen if this didn't change. Kids are smart. They can understand the honest truth. I wrote down all the missions I needed them to complete around the house for us all to be happy and well looked after. From Kitchen, to Toilets, to Weedspraying and Carwashing...there were 33 tasks!
But I do have four school-aged children to make the mess and share the load. Of course the shortest can't reach the washing line, the one most afraid of bugs isn't going to be given the garden duties and the one most easily distracted will need jobs that are based in the main living area so we can gently keep her on track.
Between the children and I, we weighted each task with a score from 1 to 10 based on how much effort the job takes and how often it needs doing. If the opinions of the scores differed vastly we spent a few extra seconds noting what was involved and saying "Oh yeah, I s'pose so" a lot.
Next, adding the scores and trading jobs until the numbers were clearly quite even, we divided the jobs up together to make sure no one had *que whiney complaining tone* 'all the easiest jobs'.
It had been 15 mins by now, attentions were slipping, so I made sure not to let any child slink off before the tasks were decided and agreed on collectively so no one could pull the 'wasn't my idea' card down the track. I made sure they all had an equal say and felt listened to. It's important for them understand that they are a valued team member and that their input holds weight... this prevents a large number of arguments (and doesn't allow the youngest to leave it all to the others).
I wrote it up clearly and they signed and dated their list themselves. This last part wasn't really necessary but it was an opportunity for me to sneak in a lesson about reading and signing contracts so the first time they handed a real one it's not so scary for them.
So far so good.
When I've said "it's time to get your jobs done, grab your list" I only get one "Awwwwe" instead of one for every task I ask them to do. I also don't have to listen to my own voice asking them to do the same things over and over again. When they see their siblings completing their list they don't feel so hard-done-by themselves.
Life is an ever-changing thing and people get bored, so this won't be the only chore list I'll ever have to write. One day I'll have to tweak it to keep their momentum up. Indeed I've been tweaking these methods for years. That's what we all do for our kids as they grow, isn't it?
Its not about getting them to 'help' around the house because it's not 'helping'. This is their home too. It's getting them to do their share and learn important skills that they'll need as Young Adults.
What have you found that motivates your children?
So your valentine doesn’t notice the how crazy the mess they leave is making you? Try one of these:
Go easy on them and remember: People Before Things.
Valentine’s day approaches, birthdays abound, Christmas doesn’t seem that long ago. Gift giving empties our wallets and overfills our cupboards, but pleases the inner voice telling us that ‘giving things means love’.
Indeed one of the five famous 'Love Languages' is Giving Gifts. And for someone whose top love language is Giving then receiving is also important. However, if it is important to them, then it’s not so much the monetary value as the act of giving/receiving that was important.
Gifters often pull out all stops trying to impress a receiver. They shoehorn time into their overstretched day to hit the shops at the last minute. Then overstretch their budgets on something that’ll ‘have to do’... Then afterwards the recipient has to find a place for the gift and look after it carefully for the foreseeable future until, after years of storage and shuffling it around they feel guilt at biffing it out while hoping the giver won’t notice.
The whole point of gifts on these special days is LOVE. Unless you’re getting them something they happen to really need this week, think about how you can send the experience of happiness and love instead of consumerism.
Here’s the best gift you can possibly give:
Write them a simple Love letter: Write some things that are great about them, and what they mean to you, in a short letter. Then roll it up and wrap it in a ribbon. It looks beautiful then stores flat and I’ll bet gets read at least 50 times. I’ve done this for my own children when they needed encouragement, and years later they still read them!
Flowers and chocolates are great at not cluttering up the place, and plants are ever-changing which makes them more interesting than photos that you get bored with looking at after about a year. But it’s the love letter that has always reigned supreme!
Don’t complicate it. Don't worry about perfect spelling or making it beautiful. The words always speak for themselves.
An open letter to the mothers of the homes I’ve helped organise, and who in turn have helped me. What I wish you knew…
My sincerest gratitude for opening your home to me, and allowing a new chapter to begin.
You were comfortable with the idea of hiring hairdressers, lawnmowers, mechanics… but a professional organiser was new. New things are hard. You were almost too busy to even think about trying a new service. But the sinking feeling you got every time you saw the piles of stuff ‘not going anywhere’ nagged at you for months. Sometimes family complained at you too.
To begin with you were worried that I’d think you were somehow lazy for not having a spotless ‘magazine style’ home.
I wished you knew that I don’t. I wish you knew you’re not alone and that without help, or spare time, chaos gets on top of Everyone. I wished you knew that you were doing a great job, and that I wanted to be your help.
I walked into your homes with my ‘Mary Poppins’ bag of organising bits and bobs, and a brief description you’d given me of the most chaotic areas in your house.
I shared with you my skill in decluttering, reorganising and introducing simpler systems and easier storage. Yeah, your housework time was cut. Yeah you, and everyone in the family, knew exactly what you had and where it was. No more buying the item again ‘cos you don’t know where the first one went. No more big messes from dragging things out of the back of cupboards toppling the piles in the front.
You took that but did even more with it. Heaps more!
As the mediocre clutter fell away we revealed the things in your life that are most important to you. You discovered that you have Enough. You actually Felt the abundance everybody wishes for.
Hiring someone to blitz the disorganisation was Effective Delegation – a skill so necessary in these busy times but quite hard to do, especially when you're expected to do everything!
From stripping back the layers of clutter you uncovered more time to spend with your families. More time to put out fires, support them through highs and lows and give them the time and attention that they needed but that busyness and clutter had been stealing.
You felt freer and your head was clearer, getting you off that hamster wheel, allowing you to pursue avenues that could make you feel happier and more fulfilled. Your family learned more about you as a ‘person’, as opposed to a ‘housekeeping service’. It was easier for them to help you out and see what made you happy. This gave you all a sense of ‘working together’. I can only imagine the amazing memories you’ve been able to create for your family with more clarity, organisation and direction… and less to clean!
With every new mum I help, when that chaotic fog of clutter lifts and those life-changing transformations brighten the home and energize the people who live there, I always hold a piece of that inspiration with me. Your family, and my own, are thriving because of it. Thank You
Aaah, yes. It always comes down to a person’s thought process as they complete the task. Everything we do is driven by the way we think; our fears, hopes, challenges, priorities, motivations.
Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with a lady who was very frustrated with the way her husband would always go into the walk in wardrobe, open the small’s drawer to take what he needed, get down some jeans, lay them over the open smalls drawer as if it was a pants-holding shelf, grab some other jeans and walk away.
What I read between the lines was: After he’s thought about what he has to do today, had his shower, chosen his clothes, he’s already bored with making decisions and the choice to hang up the trousers is more effort than it’s worth, they can stay where they are and be dealt with later (didn’t even notice the inconvenience of the drawer than now can’t be shut)
It’s never about just the stuff, is it? It’s always about the people who put it there! We love the people we live with. People before things, ALWAYS.
1. First things first. I reminded her that a person’s reason to do something isn’t usually to annoy the people they live with. This man wouldn’t snigger as he laid the jeans carefully over the open drawer and walked away. We all want the people we live with to be proud with us. So the first step would be to talk honestly and let him know how you feel, that you’d be pleased if he could hang that pair back up again every time [don’t forget to add] just like how helpful it is when he [puts his dishes straight in the dish washer? Mows the lawn? Hangs up his bath towel? Keeps the car running?]. Saying “thanks” for those things now, and at any other time, goes a really long way! How much do we take for granted nowadays?!
2. Next, if muscle memory and habit continue to rule the show, try putting a little note at the scene of the crime… “I love you, it makes me happy when you hang your jeans back up”. It may sound a little naff, but this reminds them that there are many things they do that make you happy. NOTE: Make sure you biff the note after a day or two, otherwise it turns into nagging.
3. The last resort is to move something so that behaviour is no longer easy. Move where you keep the smalls, swap it out with another thing more seldom used. Conveniently keep most of the jeans ‘in the wash’ so there’s less choice and more space on the rack. Try to never have so many things stored that there’s no free space left and things need to be shoved sideways to fit stuff back away again. Only 70% full is a good target. Putting things away should be super easy, or nobody’s gonna want to do it. Thank them again and again for other things they do so they remember how easy it is to please you.
It’s so easy to only see the negatives in the people we’ve lived with for years. How do they know we still love them?
This week try finding 3 things that please you about your family/friends/workmates and let them know it makes your life a little easier. It may be the only nice thing anyone’s said to them all week. And as a bonus, it’ll make problem solving go that much smoother!
Ok, so Christmas is knocking on your door, but you didn't have time to do the big clean up you wanted to do before your nearest and dearest [and pickiest] arrive!!!
Worry Not, Count to five (well, sort of) and it's DONE.
Step 1: Put a good book, a box of choccies or $20 for a cafe treat in the bottom of a large box or washing basket. Sweep ALL clutter not nailed down into this. Ensure there are some important things you really need in there so you simply Have To revisit it later. You might need more than one box or basket...
Step 2: Quickly clear and wipe down as many surfaces as possible and empty the rubbish bin. Arrange anything left out in a symmetrical way. For example, a neatly arranged pile of papers with tidy edges placed square on the bench against the wall [almost like magic] says "purpose, clarity and importance". In contrast, a the same papers left messy and strewen seem to suggest "stress". And objects quickly arranged an even distance apart in rows has the same positive effect. Experiment under your sink or in a cupboard- just put all the bottles and cans in rows with space around each and all of a sudden it looks beautiful!
Step 3: Tidy your entranceway inside and out. Shake off the welcome mats and sweep away dirt and cobwebs. First impressions have the most clout so if this looks good guests will perceive the whole house to be like this.
Step 4: When the people arrive NEVER apologise for the 'state of your house'. You'd be amazed at what they never even notice if you don't mention it ;)
Step 5: When the party's over and the dust settled and you've had a good sleep it's time to empty those boxes of stuff, all the way down to the treat at the bottom for a job well handled! ENJOY !
Today’s topic is about the question I get asked most often:
“Do you just go around cleaning up hoarders homes?”
The answer, in a nutshell, is NO.
People truly classified as having a hoarding syndrome need much more than just someone coming in and tidying up. In fact, this on its own is the last thing they need. For them the biggest issues aren’t the piles of stuff they collect, it’s the intense psychological processes and blocks that control them. Only when these are dealt with can they begin to understand the role their possessions play, and therefore which possessions to value over others, i.e. which items they truly need to keep and look after well.
The average Professional Organising client is a busy family, or professional who just doesn’t have the time to sort through all the things that have come into their lives in the last few months or years. These people would love to release the burden of having the job hanging over them, and once the job is done they feel freed up to focus on more important things.
Maybe they have a lovely garage space full of gear while their car weathers in the driveway. Or maybe their spare room is no longer somewhere they’re proud to offer to guests. Maybe they keep buying odds and ends every weekend because they can’t find the supplies they already have.
Everyone has stuff to look after, important things to do and only a set amount of hours in the day. Time doesn’t stand still and you want to get the most out of this life while you can. Imagine you and I clearing all that clutter. What would you say to me when it was all done?