How to Get the Answers to All Your Questions

Last year a new little grocery store chain came to town. There was buzz in my circle of friends because one of them knew this chain from overseas. I was excited to check it out one day, “I’m looking forward to going to Lydl this week.”

Now, how did you just pronounce “Lydl” in your mind? Did you say “lie-dl” or “lee-dl”? When something is just in print and not spoken we use our own grammar rules to come up with how we think words and names are pronounced. Well, our English paradigm is incorrect as this business is pronounced “lee-dl”. How did I know? Well, yes, my friend knew but ultimately, I just called the new grocery store and listened to them say “lee-dl” and then my dad and I continued to go back and forth making puns until it stuck.

We have turned into such a crowd source group of people (I am one for sure!) that we forget that we can actually go straight to the source to find out the answers to a lot of our questions. Is that store open and what are the hours? How do you pronounce that business name? How do I care for this product? How do I get rid of this product? Most of the time we forget that we should go directly to the source to answer our questions.

Want to know what your friend’s favorite meal is? Ask her. Want to know how to make your mother’s famous apple pie? Ask her. Want to know how to say someone’s name? Ask them. Want to know how to care for or dispose of a product? Ask it. Wait, you can’t. So instead, ask the person that made it. Still not quite right. Ask the business that made it.

My clients do a lot of work deciding what they want to keep around their homes which then leaves the things they want to leave their homes. Whether an item stays or goes, there are items that need care or disposal. A stained precious pillow, a broken but probably fixable appliance, unwanted cleaners, and too old paint. While you may be tempted to ask your friends how care for or dispose of these items, it might be more efficient to go to the source.

Purchase of Items
Ever wonder where to buy things and if they are in stock at your favorite stores? You can check with the producer and the store. This allows you to get the exact product you are looking for while still supporting your favorite stores.

Care for Items
A quick internet search will yield many different results on how to clean specialty fabrics, repairs of appliances, and care those plants that you think are dead in the winter. The best way to find the best answer is to do a specific search. Search the product down to the product number if possible.

Disposal of Items
Chemicals, paints, batteries, small appliances, the list could go on. These are the kinds of items that people generally want to know how to properly dispose of. Hint, it’s not throwing them in the trash. And, depending on where you live, each geographical area has different policies. The best way to find the best answer is to check with the producer of your item or the store that sells it and your local authorities.

Here’s another post on where you can dispose of some other common items.

How Many Should I Have?

There are direct questions and there are underlying issues. I get this question as both multiple times a month. Someone will directly ask, “how many bath towels does my family need?” I will also open a linen closet and see bath towels shoved here, there, and everywhere just begging the question, “how many bath towels does this family need?”

Each household runs different. Many times, each individual in a household has different needs. There are even different ways that we may define the word “need.” There are all kinds of needs: physical, emotional, spiritual just to name a few. In this article I will give some questions to ask to help you determine how many of several different kinds of items you may need in your home.

I have a list of general questions that I will sprinkle throughout these specific groups of items. You may see a question under “Movies and Music” that actually helps you with “Towels” or other items.

1. How often do you do laundry? How often would you like to do laundry?
2. How many outfits do you wear between laundry loads?
3. What type of clothing do you need (casual, formal, work, athletic, etc)?
Perhaps… you’d like to pair down your clothing and rewear pieces between washes that aren’t yet dirty.

Undergarments and Socks
1. How often do you do laundry? How often would you like to do laundry?
2. How often do you need a new pair of these items?
Perhaps… you’d like to have a pair for each day between laundry plus a couple of extras.

1. How often do you do laundry? How often would you like to do laundry?
2. How many baths or showers does each person in your household take between loads of laundry?
3. How many times is one towel used between washes?
Perhaps… you’d like to have a specific colored towel for each person in your home that they would be responsible for.

Toilet Paper
1. Do a little experiment. Write down when you start a roll of tp and then right down when that same roll is out. Do this for each place that uses tp. Using that information (or doing this for a few weeks or a month) you should be able to estimate how much tp you need to buy and how often.
Perhaps… you’d like to teach the little ones how much is an appropriate amount of tp to use.

1. What do you actually use? What do you like?
2. What keeps you from using the things that you keep around but don’t use?
Perhaps… you’d like to make up a travel kit ready for you to grab in an emergency to use up some of those items.

1. How many people eat at your house regularly? How often do you host those outside of your family for meals?
2. What dishes are used how often?
Perhaps… you’d like to borrow specific items that you would need for a larger gathering but don’t use regularly.

Sheet Sets
1. How many beds are in your home?
2. How often do you change the sheets on each bed? Do you have any children nighttime potty training?
Perhaps… you’d like to have one spare set of sheets for each bed. Perhaps for the potty training child you would like to have two spare sets of sheets.

1. What value do you put on reading and literacy?
2. Which books do you actually like and know you will read again?
Perhaps… you are ready to let go of the books you know you won’t read again.

Movies and Music
1. If you were to have to repurchase any, which would you repurchase?
2. Which movies do you enjoy watching over and over?
2. Are these same movies and albums available in other forms?
Perhaps… you’d like to take advantage of digital forms of music and movies to free up space on your shelves.

Games and Toys
1. What has your family outgrown?
2. How often are games being played?
Perhaps… you’d like to offer the games and toys that you no longer enjoy to someone else who would enjoy them now.

School Supplies and Office Supplies
1. Do you home school or have a home office?
2. How often do you go through tape, pens, etc? In a year, how many of each do you think you’ll use?
Perhaps… you can get rid of all the pens you don’t like because you only use 3 pens in an entire year instead of 50.

Craft Supplies and Hobby Supplies
1. How many hobbies do you have? How many can you keep up with? How many do you want to keep up with?
2. What supplies are worth keeping?
Perhaps… there are only a select amount of things that are worth keeping for your craft or hobby.

Baby Items
1. Does your family currently have or expecting a baby in the next few years?
2. If yes, how many bottle, blankets, teethers, pacifiers, etc are you using a day in between washes?
Perhaps… you would like to give or loan your baby gear to a friend who can use it now. Perhaps… you would prefer to only keep up with the items you actually use and not the excess.

1. Does each of your electronics have it’s cord with it?
2. Do these devices travel with you?
Perhaps… you would like to keep one extra charging cord for each device for travel while keep a charging station with “permanent” cords for each device.

As you can probably gather from the questions in specific areas, the main questions you can ask yourself are as follows.
1. How many of that items do you use?
2. Are these items useful at this time or in the near future?
3. What do you want to keep up with caring for (cleaning, storing, putting away)?
4. Would you buy this item again if it was lost or damaged?

While there is no magic number of any of these items, the questions provided above should help you make a decisions on a good number for your household.

Squatters or Residents: Why it can be so difficult to let things go

If you’ve been around for a while you’ve noticed that I like a good analogy. I find it easier for people to understand what you are saying if they have a category to put it in. As with any analogy, sometimes you can’t carry them over one-to-one but the spirit is what we’re going for. When helping people see that they get to choose what stays in their homes and what leaves their homes this might be a good way for you to think about it.

Are the items in your home Squatters or Residents?

A few months ago my family got a notice that there had been squatters on property near ours. No one knew them, they had just set up a temporary home and were living on property that didn’t belong to them without having any permission. We wouldn’t have even known they were there since they had set up camp in a location that we didn’t see. To our knowledge they weren’t doing any harm. But it is illegal so they had to go. As residents in the area, those who own property and houses, we belong there. We have a known purpose, are paying to be there, and are active in the community.

Items as Residents
This part is simple. The items in your home that belong there as residents have purpose, are beautiful or functional. You have chosen for them to take up space in your space. You know what they are, where they are, and how you use them.

Items as Squatters
You probably have a lot of stuff in your house that you don’t even know is there. It’s living in the back of cabinets behind another pile of things. It’s living under the bed or in a box that has started to fall apart. It’s in the bottom of your purse or sock drawer.

But, it’s not doing any harm, right? Well, maybe not that you know of. But what if what you don’t know is there is actually something you could use and have been looking for. Harm might be a strong term or it might not be.

A few ways these squatter-items can bring harm.
1. Taking up valuable space that can be used for things you know and find useful or beautiful.
2. Taking up space in your mind or time in your thought process that can be spent on something else.
3. If it is something you could use but you don’t know it’s there, it is now time, money, and energy being spent looking for it or repurchasing it.

Are the things in your house squatters or residents? Do you know these items? Do they belong there? Do they serve a good purpose for you, your family, and the way you want your household to run?

You are the home owner so you get to decide if something is truly a squatter or resident. But until then, those items you don’t see and don’t know are there… they are just squatting on your property.

I hope you had fun with this analogy and that these terms helped you make a connection with letting go of things that don’t belong in your home.

Building a Habit with the 30/30 Program

***scroll down for registration link***

Well, it’s happened again. The other people in your home have successfully managed to disorganize everything you organized and rather than put it back together you want to give up.

Well, hold on just a minute. There is still hope! Now, you and I can’t change other people (though we can teach our littles) but we can work toward building a habit in you to keep up with the organization of your home.

All that hard work that you’ve put in for the past few months or weeks at getting unwanted items out of your house was not for nothing. Let’s keep it going!

Or maybe you find yourself finally getting frustrated with not being able to find things in your home and having to purchase things you KNOW you already own but just can’t find it. Ahem, tape, scissors, glue… anyone?

After working with clients who have diligently been through their entire home side-by-side with me developing little habits of success along the way, I want to provide that for others. While not the same as working with someone, I want to make encouragement and tips and success available to you as well. For that very reason, I’ve developed a program that will show up in your email every day for 30 days. Consider it a little version of me in your back pocket cheering you on for 30 minutes each of those 30 days. I’ve had people ask me to come move in with them to help them with their spaces. This is pretty close!

You’ll learn about the best method to organize fully. You’ll hear from others about the change that organizing has brought to their lives. You’ll have the accountability to work in your home’s disorganized areas every day for 30 days, building a habit that can last a lifetime. You’ll have quick wins along the way. And, best yet, you’ll have a daily cheerleader in me!

I will be popping in every day for 30 days to cheer you on to working 30 minutes in your home every day. Thus, the program is called 30/30! 30 minutes for 30 days. It’s really up to you how much time you spend but the goal is to build a solid habit to either create or keep up with the systems that are keeping your house organized.

So sign up, invite your friends, and make a fun time of it!

Click here and scroll down to register. This link has more information as well as the link to register.

In Case of Fire

I ask a lot of questions when working with people to find peace and freedom in their home. The questions vary by person and situation. “Do you like this item?” “Do you want to keep up with the care and storage of this item?” “Is this item an excess duplicate?” And so on.

One question I ask myself but not others is, “would you rebuy this if you lost it in a fire?”

Maybe you will think this is morbid. At times I sure do. That is exactly why I don’t ask this question of other people. I simply ask, “would you buy this item again?”

I should say that I have never had any reason to ask this question involving a fire. I’ve never experienced a fire myself. I’ve never even known anyone personally who has been involved in a house fire.

That is until this past year when I found out that the house of my friends burned. It was an accident that they had nothing to do with. Each of the seven people in their family made it out safely but hardly any of their possessions did. A photo or two and a small amount of other precious items.

Maybe you’ve known someone or you yourself have suffered this loss. What is the first word that you think of when you hear about a house burning down? I think of words like tragedy, devastation, and loss. Then I think of words like rebuilding, starting over, and community.

There are a few lessons that I want you hear from this as you continue reading. First, from my friend, make a video documentation of what you own because the insurance dealings are difficult and this video will help. Second, the less you own, the less hassle you will deal with both in everyday life and in emergencies or loss. Third, it’s all just stuff and only some of it is necessary and beautiful.

Make a Video/Take Photos
I spent a little bit of time walking through my home recently making a video of all of my belongings. It took some time but it is done. I got serial numbers on things like the TV and my computer. Be sure to get in close on jewelry and artwork, perhaps getting photos of these individually.
As another quick practical tip, have a fireproof safe that you store your important paperwork in as well.

Own Less
Remember that “less” is different from “none.” The less things you own, the less things you have to keep up with in the day-to-day. And, in the unlikely but still real possibility event that you suffer a fire or natural disaster or loss of a loved one (more on this specifically in another blog post to come) you have less to deal with.

The Necessary and Beautiful
When my friends started rebuilding their belongings they had immediate needs. They made a list of all the things they would need and their amazing community stepped up in beautifully unexpected ways. Yes, I used the word “need” in that last sentence correctly. They needed clothes, basic kitchen items, and basic furniture. But we also thrive when we have beauty around us. They might not be the first things we buy after a fire but they are probably on the wish list just the same.

I’m not asking you to get rid of everything you own except that which you would need right after a fire. I’m asking you to think about what you own and WHY you own it. Do you want to keep 3 sets of fine china that you wouldn’t purchase again if it was all broken? That is totally fine. Just know WHY you are keeping it. Chances are they are sentimental items and we all know those can’t be replaced. (I’m also not saying you need to keep everything that is sentimental but that is for another time.)