Tag Archives: Organization

The Quick Start Guide to a Decluttered Home

The Quick Start Guide to a Decluttered HomeBy Leo Babauta

One of my favorite habits that I’ve created since I changed my life 9 years ago is having a decluttered home.

I now realize that I always disliked the clutter, but I put off thinking about it because it was unpleasant.

The thought of having to deal with all that clutter was overwhelming, and I had too much to do, or I was too tired, so I procrastinated.

Clutter, it turns out, is procrastination.

But I learned to deal with that procrastination one small chunk at a time, and I cleared it out. That was truly amazing.

Amazing because I didn’t really believe I could do it until I did it. I didn’t believe in myself. And amazing because when it was done, there was a background noise that was removed from my life, a distraction, an irritation.

Decluttering my home has meant a more peaceful, minimal life. It’s meant I spend less time cleaning, maintaining my stuff, looking for things. Less money buying things, storing things. Less emotional attachment to things.

For anyone looking to begin decluttering, I’d like to offer a short guide on getting started. Know that this guide isn’t comprehensive, and it can take months to really get down to a decluttered home … but if you do it right, the process is fun and liberating and empowering, each step of the way.

  1. Start small. Clutter can be overwhelming, and so we put it off. The best thing I did was to just focus on one small space to start with. A kitchen counter (just part of it) is a good example. Or a dining table or a shelf. Clear everything off of that space, and only put back what you really need. Put it back neatly. Get rid of the rest — give it away, sell it on Craigslist, donate it, recycle it. The clearing and sorting will take 10 minutes while you can give stuff away later when you have the time.
  2. Work in chunks. If you start small, you’ll feel good about it, but there’s still a whole home full of stuff to deal with. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. (Not literally — I’m vegan.) So just like you did one small area to start with, keep doing that, just 10 minutes a day, maybe more if you feel really enthusiastic. If you have a free day on the weekend, spend an afternoon doing a huge chunk. Spend the whole weekend if you feel like it. Or just do one small piece at a time — there’s no need to rush, but keep the progress going.
  3. Follow a simple method. For each small chunk you do, clear out the area in question and put everything in one pile. Pick up the first thing off the pile (no putting it aside to decide later) and force yourself to make a decision. Ask yourself: do I love and use this? If not, get rid of it. If the answer is yes, find a place for it — I call it a “home”. If you really love and use something, it deserves a home that you designate and where you put it back each time you’re done with it. Then go to the next thing and make the same decision. Working quickly and making quick decisions, you can sort through a pile in about 10 minutes (depending on the size of the pile).
  4. Put stuff in your trunk. Once you’ve collected stuff to donate or give away, put them in boxes or grocery bags and put them in the trunk of your car (if you don’t have a car, somewhere near the door). Choose a time to deliver them. Enjoy getting them out of your life.
  5. Talk to anyone involved. If you have a significant other, kids, or other people living with you, they’ll be affected if you start decluttering the home. You should talk to them now, before you get started, so they’ll understand why you want to do this, and get them involved in the decision-making process. Ask them what they think of this. Send them this article to consider. Ask if they can support you wanting to declutter, at least your own stuff or some of the kitchen or living room, to see what it’s like. Don’t be pushy, don’t try to force, but have the conversation. Be OK if they resist. Try to change the things that you can control (your personal possessions, for example) and see if that example doesn’t inspire them to consider further change.
  6. Notice your resistance. There will be a lot of items that you either don’t want to get rid of (even if you don’t really use them) or you don’t feel like tackling. This resistance is important to watch — it’s your mind wanting to run from discomfort or rationalize things. You can give in to the resistance, but at least pay attention to it. See it happening. The truth is, we put a lot of emotional attachment into objects. A photo of a loved one, a gift from a family member, a memento from a wedding or travel, a treasured item from a dead grandfather. These items don’t actually contain the memories or love that we think are in them, and practicing letting go of the items while holding onto the love is a good practice. And practicing tackling clutter that you dread tackling is also an amazing practice.
  7. Enjoy the process. The danger is to start seeing decluttering as yet another chore on your to-do list. Once you start doing that, it becomes something you’ll put off. Instead, reframe it to a liberating practice of mindfulness. Smile as you do it. Focus on your breath, on your body, on the motions of moving items around, on your feelings about the objects. This is a beautiful practice, and I recommend it.

These steps won’t get your home de-cluttered in a weekend. But you can enjoy the first step, and then the second, and before you know it you will have taken 30 steps and your home is transformed. You’ll love this change as much as I have.

 

By Leo Babauta of ZenHabits.net.  Mr. Babauta grants anyone the rights to republish his writing. Thank you, Leo. (To see the original article, search for: zenhabits declutter guide

 

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Organization for Children: Supporting Executive Functions

Help your child feel successful

Help your child feel successful

by Cindy Goldrich, Ed.M., ACAC

Have you ever noticed that staying organized — or getting started on a project and seeing it through to completion — are all in a day’s work for some people, but for others, they don’t know where to begin?

Well, that might be due to executive functions and how well they are working — or not working. Executive functions are the cognitive skills that give us the ability to focus, plan, and act in a goal-directed manner — and current research shows that these functions are responsible for how effective we are at managing ourselves. Basically, these functions are the CEOs of our brains.

For the most part, we don’t need to consciously access these skills for day-to-day habits or routines. However, when we face new challenges or stressors that is when the CEO must take charge. And when it is not managing effectively, that’s when we forget things, can’t get organized, can’t get started, lose track of time, and lose our stream of thought. It’s behavior that makes some children look unmotivated, uncaring, and, well, unintelligent — while nothing could be further from the truth. By and large, these children are really suffering from a neurologically based difficulty, which results from incomplete or immature development of their frontal/prefrontal cortex of their brains. It’s not that these kids won’t perform, it’s that they can’t on their own … yet.

So how can we help? There are two distinct approaches. First, modify the environment. Help structure your child’s work- space, modify his work, and provide more prompts. Second, model actions and behaviors and join in with him as he works on his skills. Don’t be concerned that you may enable your child. Before he is ready to be independent, he needs to develop the necessary skills. Once the skills are developed, you will be able to gradually lessen your active involvement with your child.
It is important to recognize that weaknesses in executive functions are real and neurologically based. There is no shortage of strategies and devices to help children — and adults — improve their executive functioning. Children need modeling. The skills they need to be organized and manage their time effectively are not difficult, but they are not necessarily intuitive. Providing support and guidance, either directly or with outside support, will go a long way in helping your child be and feel successful. Here are some tips for your child to organize school materials and remember important information:

Day planner

Mike Rohde\'s Custom Moleskine Planner

Think of an agenda book or day planner as your calendar for your whole life, not just school.
• Write all of your school assignments, after-school activities, and social plans here.
• Use a large paper clip to mark the page you need to be on for quicker entry.
Binders and notebooks
Use different colors for each subject binder and notebook.
• For each subject, you will have two three-ring binders. One will be the everyday binder, and the second will be the reserve binder, where all of your papers will be moved to after tests. This allows you to straighten out and empty excess papers so you can focus on the current work. (Note: Check with each subject teacher before removing papers from your binder.)
• Both binders for each subject should be the same color (blue for math, green for science, etc.) and have the same labeled dividers.
• Keep one master reference binder with dividers for each subject. Here, you can keep any material that you might need to use in years to come, such as math formulas, social studies facts or periodic tables.
• Perhaps two of your subjects can be combined into one larger binder or notebook for less to carry.
Be sure to label everything! Big bumper stickers work great. Have fun, and be creative!

Master folder
Consider a multi-pocket folder to keep with you all day. It can hold the day’s hand- outs, work to be turned in, and your agenda book. This is an excellent tool for the overall organization of papers to go to and from school. It should be cleaned out each week, by transferring the appropriate papers to either binders or the recycle bin. (An excellent sturdy folder can be found at Nick’s Folders for $3.50. Not an affiliate.)

Locker
Clean out your locker and/or workspace every week, to lessen the chance of losing papers.
• Consider small trays to keep extra pens, pencils, tissues, erasers, etc.
• Keep a dry-erase board or small notepad for writing reminders.
• Try to keep your backpack on the hook, so there is more room to store items.
Backpack
• Keep an extra pen and pencil inside at all times.
• Look in your assignment book and check your locker’s dry-erase board before packing up for the day.
• When you get home, empty the entire bag near your workspace and sort the contents for homework and notes for parents. • Pack it up before you go to sleep at night, which will decrease the odds of forgetting things.

Alarms
A kitchen timer is great for keeping you on task and allowing for time-limited breaks. Set it for various intervals to see if you are on task and on track. What works for you? Set a start time or break time on your computer or cellphone alarm for a discreet nudge. Set an alarm for the time you want to go to sleep as a reminder to pack up, brush teeth, etc.

to do list

Lists
• Keep a dry-erase board or a small pad of paper by your workspace and use it to jot down things on your mind, so they can be done later and not distract you now. Write out your homework plan for the day — what you will do and in what order? It’s a great feeling to cross items off! Use it to plan out long-term projects or for math problems and other quick temporary notes.

Structures
A structure is any device that reminds you, visually, of something important. They work because they interrupt your ordinary mind flow and grab your attention. Some of the best structures come from your intuition and may not seem to make sense at first. Be creative — experiment with different ways to jolt your memory! Here are some examples:
• Wear a rubber band on your wrist when you want to remember to do something, such as breathe deeply, speak powerfully, sit up straight, or take home your violin.
• Put a chair by your door to remind yourself to take along important items tomorrow.
• Send yourself an e-mail, text or voice mail to request that a certain task be done.
Have some friends over once a month. This can be a structure for cleaning your room or keeping up relationships with friends.
• Devise an intentionally fabricated deadline on the day you start a project — such as scheduling a time to show a friend or family member your completed project.
• Schedule study time with one friend a week for two months to get you to study a particular subject.
• Counting is helpful to make you aware of your behavior. For instance, count how often you participate in class and work on increasing the number each day. Counting does not require you to do anything other than notice, but noting every time you do something heightens your awareness.
• A special slogan on your key chain can be a structure to remember to smile or be positive.

roary lion

A toy lion on your desk can remind you to be ferocious in pursuit of a goal.
• Put your keys in the refrigerator so you remember your lunch.
• Make a sign around your work area: “Don’t give in to the impulse!”
• Create a screen saver with one-line, motivational statements.
• A coach is one of the best structures. Text or e-mail your coach every day when a certain task is done.
“To do” lists are not meant as nag lists — just a place to hold important things. Be creative where you put your notes; try to have it somewhere in your field of vision on a regular basis: the refrigerator, your desk, next to your bed. Try to develop a consistent habit of where you write and keep important notes.

 

Written by Cindy Goldrich, Ed.M., ACAC © 2013 www.PTSCoaching.com All rights reserved. Articles may be reproduced or electronically distributed as long as attribution to PTS Coaching is maintained. Note: This article originally appeared as Get it Together! Tips to conquer your child’s organizational problems in LONG ISLAND SPECIAL CHILD, Fall/Winter 2010/11 and was retitled Just What are Executive Functions?  Link works

“Image courtesy of ImageryMajestic/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net” – Modified on Canva.com

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