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Organization

An Unlikely Friendship

October 7, 2019 | By | No Comments

Client stories are my favorite, but one that always comes to mind is a client I did not want.  We had our initial meet and greet, it went very well, I was going back days later to set up appointments for the times we would help her purge and pack for her upcoming move from her home of 55 years.  However, when I went back, the whole family was there and after asking them to leave the room, she informed me that all I wanted to do was to get rid of her stuff.  She said that she wouldn’t be needing our services at all, “thank you very much.”  At this point, her family tried to stop her by explaining that physically, she needed our help and expertise.  She turned on them and said “no, I do not.”  I could not get out of there fast enough. 

Before I walked out, at the door, I told her two things.  First, our company is named Design Your Life for a reason, at the end of the day we know that we walk away, and you still live there. If you want to keep everything you own and move it into an apartment, we can do that. “Your stuff will take up every inch of your apartment, you may not be able to move around, and you may not be able to find things but that is your choice.  Secondly, if you find that you run out of time, we’d love to pitch in to help finish up.” She told me she would call on Monday and let me know.   I asked my Sunday school group to pray for me.  They asked if they were to pray for the job or to not get the job, I replied, that I was not sure.

On Monday, she called, her family had convinced her we would be an asset.  After 55 years in a home, there is a lot of stuff and she was a force to be reckoned with.  Although, she was in her mid-90s she could tell us where each one of her million shopping bags came from, what she had bought and who she gave it to.  She was very particular about lots of things, some logical, some not.  She yelled at one of the crew members for ‘stuffing’ plastic dry-cleaner bags into a bag rather than folding them precisely.  She took almost an hour to go through her measuring cups and decide which ones to keep, some were right handed, some were left handed, some were metric, some were by the ounce.  (she kept 5 or 6 out of the 28 that she had)

 I went out of town during part of this job and the head organizer who taken over for me told me that she had, had a tough time talking her out of keeping all 42 cheese graters.  The client explained, very impatiently, that each one was a different size and for a different variety of cheese. I understood where she was coming from, its hard to say goodbye to things that hold many memories and for her that was her million shopping bags, 28 measuring cups, and 42 cheese graters. It’s something different for everyone.

This job took place over several weeks, because of her age and health. She couldn’t work more than our four-hour minimum each day.  By the end of the project, each day as we would leave, she would hug me, and say through her sobs, “we could not have done this without you.” 

Now, I had to be coerced into sharing this particular story because to me it’s somewhat bragging about our ability to turn around a tough situation. I want you to know that we do have an ability to turn around a tough situation, but my favorite part of this story is the client herself.  She was tough, and she was staring into a future that she did not want.  But her heart was huge.  Her life had been filled with joy and she shared that with us in the most unusual ways, in one of the worst times of her life. Although, she has since passed, to me, she remains one of my best clients and a true friend.  

Retirement Living

September 21, 2019 | By | No Comments

 I can truly say, each move excited me.  New possibilities, new layouts, color choices, and furniture (remember, interior design background.) When time came to move our first retiree, the fact that she was not excited about the move stunned me.  As we were doing our initial walk through/meet & greet, she told me she was dreading the move, the ‘beginning of the end’ were the words she used. 

I honestly don’t know how many times I have moved in my lifetime.  Growing up, we moved a couple of times before I could have real memories, but for the most part, I lived in the same home from when I was in kindergarten till, I moved out to go to college.  During college I moved at least once a year.  In the next decade I moved probably every 2 to 4 years.  Then I married and settled down and stayed in that home for twenty-two years until my kids were in college and middle school, respectively. 

For her, it was the last time she would be living in her own home, there was a loss of freedom, an impending doom about what lay ahead.  As we talked through her decision to move into a retirement area, I discovered her reasons for wanting to do it. She saw it fitting in with her future not only monetarily, but for health reasons and area companionship.  So as the project went forward, those were the things we emphasized. 

For instance, she wouldn’t let go of her piano (she could no longer play) so that we could allow more seating space in her apartment for her new friends to come and play bridge. With her kids all in south Texas they weren’t available to be there for each decision. I helped her pick paint colors, arrange furniture, and decide on which art pieces would work in her new space. 

We purged every portrait of their frames so that she could keep the pictures just not put them up on her very few walls. She later got them put into books so that she could go through them as she liked.  We helped streamline her paperwork, so she could shred years of old tax info and not continually store it.

Last time I saw her in her apartment, she was content.  She had a very pretty bedroom, living room, and sitting room each with enough space for friends, walkers, and wheelchairs.  Everything that did go into storage (in her same building) was easy to get to and labeled so that she could find it.  Being hesitant isn’t the beginning of the end it’s a natural feeling that just comes with a move. I look at it as a new chapter that hasn’t been written yet. The best part, you can design and do whatever you want for the sake of your happiness. Remember, if you’re ever overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin Design Your Life helps you organize so that you may design the life you love.  

Organizing your Mound of Paperwork

August 28, 2019 | By | No Comments

This is a quick tip on organizing an office that has not been organized in a while.  If you have a big stack of old mail, go thru it. Divide those papers into stacks that are prevalent and let the mail guide you. 

If you’ve been receiving mail on any subject over the past 6 months you probably will continue to receive that same type of mail in the future.

Divide your mail into personal – business (you may also want to divide personal into stacks for other family members as well if that applies)

Then subdivide personal into several stacks as they apply.

          Home          School                  Health                  Auto

And then subdivide each of those as they apply:

Home   —    Expenses / Repairs / Donations

School   —   Expenses / Records

Health   —   Bills / Info / Insurance

Auto —   Expenses / Insurance

Now personal preference notes: rather than auto – insurance, home – insurance, health – insurance, you may prefer to do Insurance – home   health   auto. Again, this is personal preference, I would ask you how do you look at it, then allow that to be your guide.

There may also be other categories:

          Phone/ Cell, Banking (Checking, Savings), Addresses

          Credit Cards – (Visa, Pier One, Am Express)

If your credit cards are confusing, divide them up. If you only have a couple of cards, you can file all the credit cards together.

For ease of finding things, especially if files get left out on your desk top, they can be color coded by person or as personal documents different than documents for your business.

Here are some some tips to divide items up. If doing the entire alphabet, rather than memorize where each of 26 stacks are, divide by A-H, I-R, S-Z.  Then take each stack A-H and divide by A B C D etc.  Divide I-R by I J K L M N and do the same for S-Z.

When dividing dates do the same for each year. For 2017 divide by quarters January-March, April-June, July-September, and October-December. If you look up and your stacks of paper word aren’t hardly as huge as your envisioned them being consolidate more. Divide the paperwork into January-June & July-December. Filing this way is to help your office because less cluttered and simplified. For the 2016 paperwork do the same thing.

When filing older documents determine how far back you really need your filing to go. If you need your 2016 documents all in a section, then give them one but if don’t really have to grab for 2015-2014 documents simply file 2015-2014 altogether. If you must search for something in five or six months that is in 2015 file, divide it at that time.  Remember do not do extra work.

We once alphabetized an entire private library of paperback books, once we got the first letter of each author (by last name) we subdivided where necessary for second letter, for example, Rogers, Randolph, Regis all the same box, the Ra separate from Re separate from Ro etc.  It feels like subdividing would take so much longer to handle each document or book however, the length and confusion that it dissipates rather than trying to remember where each stack is (when there are more than five to eight stacks) eases the entire job. 

Also, subdividing this way also allows for rest breaks.  If you are trying to remember 15 stacks, you do not want to stop and forget which stack is which.  Remember it always gets worse before it gets better. If you’re feeling overwhelmed just call Design Your Life because we organize your space so that you may design your life. 

The Habit of Downsizing

August 8, 2019 | By | No Comments

There are several reasons people downsize these days. Retirement, divorce, loss of job, the newest one is simplification. People are wanting to leave a smaller physical footprint on this world and for whatever the reason, downsizing sounds easy, and it can be. However, it comes with new thought patterns and habits. Those habits are the tricky ones.

So, let’s start with the mathematics of it all, say you live in a 4,000 sq. foot house and you want to move to a 2000 sq. foot condo. Logistically, that means that half of your stuff must go. 

First things, first. Decide what’s most important to you. Start big. Can you delete entire rooms? Can you live with three bedrooms instead of four? Which beds do you want to keep, which are you giving to family, and what should you do with the beds you’re divesting yourself of. Once you’ve decided on rooms and their furniture, go through each room and decide on items in that room. For example, label what you want to purge and pack. If you want to keep your dresser, then stick a colored note saying yes. Nightstands yes, Desk no. Extra chairs, no. etc. Do the same thing with everyone thing even your linens. Keep that same process going throughout your home.  Do not pack any area without going through it. This is the main reason people get over-junked. 

In, The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo – continually asks does this item bring you joy?  Is it necessary?  If you are giving up 1 or more bathrooms as you downsize, do not keep all 5 sets of towels. Pick your favorites and move on.  Yes, you may need an occasional towel for a muddy dog, ceiling leak, giant spill but holding onto an item for a what if isn’t helping you achieve the space of your dreams. Clients give the craziest reasons for having to keep some items. Keep in mind your end goal and remember you’re creating a new habit for this downsizing process. Your reasons just get in your way.

When Design Your Life goes through and help someone purge, pack & organize, we work at getting the client to see and/or touch every single item. As we humans move into an area, we envelope the entire space. When we are not organized we continually buy extra stuff we already have. 

One of the main concepts about downsizing is asking yourself if you need it, if you love it, or is it just collecting dust? Once you learn this process and create this habit the world is your oyster. I tell clients all the time, you can pay me to pack it, you can pay me to move it, you can pay me to unpack it, and then throw it away. Or you can save the extra time and money and just get rid of it first. When downsizing, it always gets worse before it gets better. Just remember, if you’re feeling overwhelmed just call Design Your Life because we organize your space so that you may design your life.