Hey there, remember me?

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So it’s been quite awhile since I’ve written anything here.  Summer, as always, got super busy and I decided for once to really just live in the moment (that sounds so cliché) and not do any projects.  I always hoped that as an adult I would one day happen upon a perfect formula of keeping up on long term planning, short term planning and living in the moment all at the same time.  I’m beginning to realize that it’s usually a messy mosaic of doing what suits your life at the moment.  So this summer instead of training and planning for every moment I decided to spend as much time as possible hang out with friends and it was worth every second.

But as summer faded away I felt that project urge bitting once again 🙂 My latest project and obsession is organizing my house and belongings using the KonMari method.  I love organizing, love it.  I’ve read dozens of books about it, get really excited about new organizing products and have organized my own stuff countless of times… for fun!  Now I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but whether you like organizing, or if you just need to organize, this book/ method is the best one I’ve encountered.

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This book is the first one I’ve read that really has some new ideas (including some that seem crazy) and doesn’t just rehash the same old organizing ideas you find in every magazine.

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If you had no idea that there were whole magazines dedicated to storage and organizing… welcome to heaven.

Most of the book is spent explaining the process and stories of her former clients.  She does actually claim that if you go through the whole process correctly and completely you will never have to organize again.  That seems like quite the claim, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Toward the last third of the book she explains why organizing has the power to really change people’s lives.  She did a great job of explaining something that I have felt with organizing but never put into words.  Basically by going through your stuff and keeping only the items that give you joy and pleasure you really answer some key questions about yourself.  What do you value, what do you love, what are your passions?  These are key questions that a lot of people struggle with.  Even if you know the answers it’s amazing how your belongings don’t always reflect those answers.  As she says in the book:

“In essence, tidying ought to be the act of restoring balance among people, their possessions, and the house they live in.”

and now… on to the method! Of course this is a simplified version of what she suggests, but it’s the key points. 

First, you gather the items

She suggests you go through items by category instead of organizing by room or area.  I’ve always done the opposite, organizing a specific area like a closet or a storage area.  I have to concede i really like her method better.  It helps you get a better picture of how much of the item you have spread throughout the house.

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turns out I do have a lot of shoes!

Second, you get rid of some of those items

She has a very specific (and in my opinion very Japanese) way of discarding items.  This part is always the hardest part for anyone organizing.  I mean if it were easy to throw your things away, no one would need help organizing!  But of course people get attached to their possessions, this is why she suggests talking to them…yes I’m serious.  With each item you pick up you should ask yourself if this item sparks joy in you.  If the answer is no, than it is time to discard it.  You can’t think along the lines of, “but what if I need it”  or “ it was so expensive!”.  Now you take the item and you thank it for it’s use and for whatever lesson it taught you.  Maybe you learned that you really don’t like wearing 4 inch heels so matter how cute they look, or that orange isn’t your colour after all. Thank these items and send them on their way to mangle someone else feet. Donate what you can, but bag them up right away and don’t go back through that bag!

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My eyes miss you, but my feet sure don’t

While I felt silly at first talking to my possessions, I was surprised how much it helped to just thank them for their service and say goodbye.  When it’s hard to let go of something it’s usually for one of two reasons: attachment to the past or fear of the future.  Sometimes the items confronts you with a poor choice you made.  Acknowledging that poor choice and letting the item go does a lot for your psyche.  In fact as you go through the list, letting go of things gets easier and you can feel the weight of all these items lifting off your shoulders.  One last important fact of letting go: don’t focus on the idea of getting rid of things, focus on choosing the items that you love and spark joy in you. Changing this mindset is really critical to letting things go.

Third, you find home for the kept items

Now that you are left with the items that excite and inspire you, put them back in their “home”.  For most things you already know where that is, they just couldn’t all fit there before.  She actually has very little in the book dedicated to the storage part, no fancy storage contraptions, no magical suggestions.  It’s quite simple, when you have less stuff there is less stuff you have to store.  She also believes that simple storage solutions are much better, no need to think up complicated storing strategies.  It’s the Occam’s razor theory of storage solutions.  One other major point she she believes you should keep all of the same item in the same place, especially for storage.  

Last, repeat for all your items!

She suggests doing this process for your items in a very specific order.  Here is a very detailed checklist I found online.  It’s the one I have been using and i really like it.  Over time she has found this order to be the easiest for her clients to follow.  She says it goes from easiest to hardest to get rid of.  For me clothes are always really hard so I bet the list is somewhat subjective, but I am following her method, so I will follow her list!

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you can get it here

One final rule, don’t discard other people’s items.  Even if you know they won’t miss it, it’s just not a good idea.  If you are trying to inspire other people to organize and get rid of their things, try to remember the following:  

1.) You can’t change other people and trying to do so will usually result in the opposite of what you are hoping for.

2.) Often once you start successfully organizing your stuff and living in the dreamland of simplified possessions, other people living with you will be more inclined to follow suit.

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seriously, who wouldn’t covet these closets?!?!

I’m going to be tackling this list over the next month or two, and I really curious if it will help me simplify my belongings.

Get’er Done

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Getting Things Done or GTD by David Allen is probably the best productivity book I’ve read… and I’ve done my fair share of researching productivity.  I’ve done all that research because I tend to have two problems:

1.) I work hard, but not always smart

2.) I seem to never have enough time to finish projects due to procrastination and perfectionism… which are basically two sides of the same coin.

I’m always working on, thinking about or worrying about the things I have to do.  But a lot of the mental gymnastics I am going through isn’t really helping me accomplish anything.  My skating coach once told me that I work very hard, but not very smart and she was right.  It didn’t matter how many times I was willing to throw myself into the air, until I thought about what I wanted my body to be doing, I wasn’t going to be landing any jumps.  I have since figured out pretty well how to accomplish goals related to physical abilities, but I need to do the same with the other areas of my life.

I used to think I needed to manage my time more wisely, but I am starting to think that my projects simply swell with the time given to complete them.  Deadlines always inspire a certain dread in me that counter intuitively bring out procrastination.  It’s like I’m  a little child that thinks if I just hide everything under the bed no one will notice… maybe the project will just disappear!  But of course they almost never do and then I’ve just wasted more time and added to the stress.  Perfectionism plays out in much the same way except when the deadlines are ones I’ve made up, the projects get pushed further and further back.  Everything that I did this month is a perfect example of that.  I was waiting until I had a perfect website envisioned to even start making one.  Which basically led to years of essentially doing nothing except worrying and being upset that I hadn’t done it yet.

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The main reason I feel GTD works for me, is that it allows me to capture everything going on in my world/ head so I don’t have to think about it all the time.  This frees me up to be a person and not a walking worrywart.

I am really great at the initial part of the process which is basically make a list of everything that is or has ever been on your mind.

Next organize those thoughts into actionable plans.  Basically, “Get in Shape” is not an actionable plan, but “Research nearby gyms” or “Make appointment with a Personal Trainer” are.  The less vague the better.  Some thoughts are one-step actions, while others will turn into multi-step projects.

Then do one of the following: Do It, Defer It, Delegate It or Drop It.  There is also a recommendation that anything you can do in less than 2 minutes, you should do right away.  Implementing this has been most helpful for me for emails.  It’s amazing how many I will read and then let sit there when I probably could have responded immediately and just been done with it already!

The last part of his process is probably the most important and also the easiest to start avoiding or ignoring.  It’s the weekly review.  You basically want to review your system and all of its captured parts so you can stay on top of everything and make a plan for the next week about what needs to get done.  It’s easy to start letting this slide, but without this step the method really won’t hold together for long.

I would recommend this book to anyone who ever feel even the slightest bit overwhelmed by the things they want or have to get done.

Here’s a fun chart that may not make sense to everyone, but it’s a great reminder chart after understanding his system.

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One app I found useful is actually a browser extension for chrome called “ActiveInbox”.  It is made to help you implement GTD in your gmail.  I feel like it does a pretty good job, better than what I could do using folders and labels alone.  I haven’t been using it long enough to know how well it stands up over time… but so far so good.  If you are interested in ActiveInbox you can find out more about it here:

http://www.activeinboxhq.com/

Oh yeah and its basic version is free!

Goodbye debilitating perfectionism, hello consistent, purposeful effort 🙂

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