Monday, January 28, 2013

Motivational Monday #78 - Rainy Days and Mondays

Today is not a typical day.  It is raining. It is windy. It is cold.  You might think this was normal, being January and all, but it is not.  In fact, we have had so much rain over the last 5 days that we are beginning to wonder if the desert was picked up and dropped in a rain forest.  Okay, maybe not really, but close.

Rainy days here in the desert are usually a treat.  They are a break from the norm. They are also a reminder that those things which we do not regularly have to think about may get a bit neglected.  I had the chance to be a in a fast food restaurant during one of the downpours and was surprised to find water pouring out of the ceiling in numerous places.  The kitchen had water everywhere and the dining room had water sloshing all over the floor.  When I mentioned they might want to get a bucket, they helplessly looked at me and said, "Why?  It's everywhere, and we are a health hazard at this point."  As we had just finished eating our food, I was a bit disturbed by this last comment.

Later, as I got to thinking about it, I realized that most of us have areas of our lives, that if tested, would be the personal equivalent of leaking roof, a flooded dining room, and a soaked kitchen.  For some of us this area is preparation.  Like the restaurant, we hope that since everything is fine when the weather is dry, it will also be fine when the weather is wet.  I guess that only works if we have recently checked the roof for leaks.

It is hard to want to prepare for rain when the sun is shining.  No one wants to be the "Gloomy Gus" or "Chicken Little" of their families.  Thinking about what can go wrong all of the time is depressing, and no one really wants to be a part of it.

This is where attitude and routine factor in.

If your attitude is one of self sufficient care, and realistic ideas, then you are a far cry from doomsayers who try and scare the world into submission.  If your goal is simply to take the steps needed to keep your family safe and comfortable during an emergency, then you can feel confident you are on the right track.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when deciding what to do to prepare:
  1. Do I have food and shelter supplies for my family if we were without electricity, or had to evacuate?
  2. Are there any weather concerns that require special equipment such as generators for heat, or plywood for hurricane protection?
  3. Does my family have the first aid skills needed to treat minor medical issues? Do we have an adequate supply of medications needed by each family member?
  4. Do we have the financial resources to obtain extra fuel, food, water and shelter during a crisis situation?  Are some of those resources liquid, and stored at home?
  5. Do we have an evacuation plan that our entire family is aware of?  Does this plan contain contacts locally and out of state?
  6. Do we have the documentation needed to interact with government offices, insurance companies and banks following an emergency?
 This list is obviously incomplete, but a good place to start.  Each item requires some work, but once accomplished, will be a great step towards preparing for the upcoming "storm."  Establishing the routine of checking these details will go a long way towards keeping your family safe and protected.

I never want to find myself in the situation of the fast food place, namely, taking on water without a bucket to bail with.  If you take small steps when the sun is shining you are much more likely to stay warm and dry when those around you are wet and miserable, but as a small isn't nice to gloat!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Motivational Monday #77 - My Quest For Less

Every year about this time I decide I want less.  I want less stress, less strife, and less stuff.  My eye wanders my office and I get excited about all the things I can get rid of.  Right now I see a stack of old papers that is just screaming to be recycled!

My quest for less is an ongoing one.  As I have mentioned before, I had a professional organizer tell me visual clutter is almost worse than the physical stuff we need to get rid of.  Visual clutter actually makes you tired.  The more things you look at, the more your brain processes, and the more energy you expend on what usually amounts to junk. She told me to clean off surfaces, have no more than 3-4 things on my kitchen counters, and strive for the feeling of peace when I enter each room.  Doesn't that sound lovely?

Well, here is the problem, I have a lot of stuff.  I have even have a lot of stuff to organize my stuff.  Not all of this fabulous stuff fits under the counter or in a drawer.  Some of it is in my face and obvious.  My stuff like me to know it is around.

So many years ago I started eliminating stuff, lots of stuff.   I started giving away books (gasp) donating kitchen gadgets (double gasp) and unloading clothing I never wore (oh, the pain!).  I started consolidating half empty containers, using up what I had before buying more, and only buying what I needed.

Guess what happened? I started having less stuff! Then guess what  happened....

I felt the need to fill those empty spaces with more stuff! It really is okay to mock me.  I deserve it.

So now I am back on my quest, one drawer at a time.  I am proud to say my junk drawer is all but forgotten!  I hardly ever put anything in it.  I cleaned out my office over the weekend, and realized I hadn't added all that much stuff.  My closet only has a few items I don't wear, and my bathroom cupboard looks almost like when I cleaned it last year.

For me, this is victory!  Don't get me wrong, I still have a long way to go, but I have found the real secret is changing how you feel about stuff.  I went from "keeping up with the Joneses" to "keeping my junk to a minimum."  I no longer feel happy when I accumulate things.

If I don't need it, I don't bring it home.  If it sneaks in the house, I get rid of it.  If it doesn't have a purpose, I donate it.  If it is cluttering my peaceful space, I remove it.

The side bonus is that it take a lot less time to clean a house with fewer things in it.  My kitchen cleans up faster, my bedroom looks peaceful faster, and my drawers look organized faster when there is less in them.

So I challenge you, begin your quest for less.  You won't regret it.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Motivational Monday #76 - 10 Resolutions You Will Actually Like

Have you ever noticed how often we make resolutions about things we hate?  For example, I detest going to the gym and sweating in public, yet every so often I will be crazy enough to put "go the the gym" on my resolution list.  Why in the world would I be motivated to do something I hate?  What possible reason do I have for torturing myself?

Instead of making resolutions to do things we hate, which of course we will never do...I suggest we make resolutions to do things we want.  Back to the gym example, I hate sweating in public, so it isn't likely the weight room at the gym is the place for me.  I do however enjoy fitting into my jeans, so making a resolution to keep my weight within a 5 pound range is something that is in my best interest and I like the outcome.  If I gain weight, then I can walk more, swim, vacuum the house more often, or skip the jelly donuts. The method is up to me, but the goal is for something I really want.

Organization is the same way.  Many people detest the concept of dragging 30 year old junk out of the closet just to get overwhelmed and then shove it back in for another 30 years. 

So don't resolve to get organized this year!  Yep, I am the organization geek, and I just told you to not resolve to get organized.  If you hate the process, then don't torture yourself.  Find a different goal, that gives you something you love.  Here are a few examples of great non-organization goals that give you what you want.
  1. Resolve to find a convenient way to display (not organize) your shoes in your closet.  Make the goal easy access and recognition.  If things you don't want or need have to be removed to make way for the shoes...bonus!
  2. Resolve to identify your favorite cooking utensils and appliances so that you can put them in the easiest place to gain access. If your less favorite kitchen gear just happened to be donated to make space for the stuff you use and like...oh well!
  3. Resolve to share your old favorite books with others.  Encourage them to pass on the joy and give the book to someone else when they are finished.  If you never see it back, you will know you spread some joy, and your bookcase will have room for new favorites. Score!
  4. Resolve to beautify your kitchen counters.  This may mean getting cute boxes to hold unopened mail and paid bills, but that's okay!  Accidental organization is always welcome!
  5. Resolve to only wear clothes that fit and make you feel confident.  To identify the fabulous items in the closet that fit this bill, you may just have to try everything on.  If you happened to box up and give away the things that didn't quite meet your criteria, fabulous!
  6. Resolve to only keep what you use.  When on a quest to identify things you use, you may find things that you don't.   If that happens, you may have to let some stuff go.  Oh well!
  7. Resolve to take control of your finances and feel empowered to meet your financial goals.  You may just have to look at your spending and bank accounts to take control of them.  If you accidentally put all those papers in your copy of Prepared Binder and organized them, who could blame you?
  8. Resolve to enjoy the time with your family.  For me, enjoying the family means being less stressed about other things.  If I was forced to be less stressed, I might not schedule so many things, and I might cut back on busy work.  How sad...NOT!
  9. Resolve to focus on a hobby you love.  If you are focused on something you love, you might decide to clear out the supplies from attempted and failed hobbies of years gone by.  If those lovely items were sold or donated, you might just find extra space for the hobby you love.  Isn't it amazing how that works?
  10. Resolve to sleep soundly each night.  I love sleep, but there are so many reason to stay awake at night.  Most of those reasons have to do with undone projects or responsibilities. If, in the quest to sleep more, you were to find a way to keep track of and simplify your much the better!
So there are a few ways to have solid resolutions that you enjoy and will accomplish.  These are just a few of the "non" organizational goals out there.  I'm sure you can come up with many more.

So go forth, and DON'T organize your way into a Happy New Year!