Tag Archives: clutter

Got the Urge to Do Some Spring-Cleaning? Avoid These 5 Classic Mistakes.

Spring CleaningIt’s spring! (In my part of the world, at least.) And with spring comes the urge to do some spring-cleaning. The warmer weather and the fresh breezes make me want my home to feel orderly, spacious, and clean.

So far, I’ve tackled three kitchen cabinets, a closet, and my pile of white t-shirts. It feels great.

One of the things about happiness that continually surprises me is the degree to which, for most people, outer order contributes to inner calm, and inner self-command. I write about this connection in Better Than Before, in The Happiness Project, and inHappier at Home. (All New York Times bestsellers, I can’t resist adding).

This connection fascinates me; in the context of a happy life, a crowded coat closet or an overflowing in-box is trivial, and yet such things weigh us down more than they should. And clearing clutter is so energizing and cheering!

I’ve learned the hard way, however, to avoid these classic mistakes during spring-cleaning, or clutter-clearing generally:

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Are You Clutter-Blind? Or Do You Know Someone Who Is?

4494987374_36e21d0849_bOne thing that continues to surprise me about the nature of good habits and happiness is the degree to which, for most people, outer order contributes to inner calm. More, really, than it should.

In the context of life of a happy life, something like a crowded coat closet or an overflowing in-box seems trivial—and it is trivial—and yet I find that I get a disproportionate charge of energy and good cheer from clearing clutter.

An orderly environment makes me feel more in control of my life, and if this is an illusion, it’s a helpful illusion.

Many people feel that way, and even people who thrive on a little chaos tend to have a limit, and enjoy orderliness to some degree.

Oblivious to Clutter

However, there’s a group of people who seem oblivious to clutter. They don’t appear to see it at all. Just as some people are color-blind, these folks are clutter-blind.

“Clutter-blind” doesn’t apply to the people who can stand to see dirty dishes scattered around, because they know if they wait, a spouse will collect the dishes — perhaps complaining all the while; see these crucial facts about shared work.

The fact is, very often, people in a couple or in a group have different levels of tolerance for clutter, and the ones with the least tolerance end up doing the most tidying, and the ones with more tolerance end up doing less. Again, this is a problem of shared work. However, in most cases, the messier ones would eventually cave and do some clutter-clearing, too. They want to be in environments that are reasonably orderly (though others might disagree by what is “reasonable”).

But some people don’t seem to register clutter, ever. A friend told me, “My husband never notices anything. As an experiment, when we got back from a trip, I left a suitcase full of his dirty clothes right in front of the front door, so he’d have to step over it to get in the house. I wanted to see how long he’d put up with it.  After a month, I called off the experiment and dealt with the suitcase myself.”

Have you found anything that works?

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4 Tips to Make Your Home Office Less Stressful

Home OfficeBy Jessica Snow

Working from home is an excellent way to make a living while balancing other crucial aspects of life. And depending on your family’s dynamic, it could be the only way you’re able to work. The flexibility of having an office at home makes it possible to raise small children without having to foot the cost of childcare providers, and otherwise reduces travel expenses most people accrue by commuting.

This option can be remarkably convenient, but all the distractions that tend to come with this setup can give it the potential to be disastrously stressful. There are a few things to keep in mind as you’re setting up your office that will help make it the most productive space it can be.

1. Keep Energy Positive With Feng Shui Principles

Keep your office as far away from your bedroom as possible. This will help you mentally separate work from home life by eliminating possible distractions and temptations. Also, position your desk area so that your back is to a wall. Sit at the desk so that you can see out a window or through a doorway. Keeping your immediate surroundings open and not boxing yourself in will help prevent anxiety and promote a positive outlook.

2. Prevent Clutter

According to Feng Shui consultant Natalia Kaylin, “Clutter is vicious, it takes many forms, and is the biggest contributor to stress.” Reduce the possibility to accumulate stressful clutter by installing a filing system to keep records organized, and make a conscious effort to keep unneeded supplies and knick-knacks at bay.

3. Let The Light In

The plants you use to decorate your office will need a certain amount of natural light, as will yourself. Let as much sunlight into your workspace as you can, as this is the purest form of light. Avoid using fluorescent lights if at all possible. Over-exposure to fluorescent lighting has been known to cause or worsen migraines, headaches, eye strain, and anxiety. You’ll want to find a balance between having enough light that you can see your computer monitor and read freely, but not so much that your eyes become strained.

Choose the right shades for your office that will let in the right amount of light, and the environment in your workspace will be ideal for producing your best work.

4. Purify Air With De-Stressing Plants

Houseplants are a lovely way to decorate a home office. If you choose the right plants though, they will do so much more. Ivy, Peace Lilies, and bamboo palms have been known to have air-purifying qualities in addition to their peaceful beauty.

The home office is supposed to be a very productive, practical space, so it’s understandable that decorating it may not be at the top of your list of things to do. You’re human though, so a workspace that doesn’t accommodate that will not be conducive to productivity. Keep these tips in mind while you’re setting up your space. Your office will be an inviting, positive place to be, and your work will reflect that.

* * *

Jessica Snow is a young writer from sunny Florida who enjoys learning and writing about a myriad of topics. When shes not glued to her laptop you can find her running the trails with her Great Dane, Charlie

2 Rules to De-Clutter and Get Creative with Your Clothes

Rubbermaid Homefree Series Closet Kit 3P40Most of us probably wear 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time because we play favorites. However, we continue shopping and spending money that we could have used more wisely or saved. For many people a cluttered closet becomes a symbol of a cluttered mind. Moreover, an overcrowded closet demonstrates that we are overly concerned with what others think: “Oh, everyone will remember that I wore this outfit last week.” To this worry I respond, “I hope they remember me, how kind I was, or what I said, not what I wore.”

When I asked people why they don’t get rid of excess clothes, here are popular responses:

* I paid a lot of money for this outfit

* It was on sale

* I have my fat clothes and my skinny clothes

* This outfit symbolizes a special day in my life, so I can’t give it away

* I got it as a gift

* I will have a future occasion to wear it

If your item’s best attribute is that it was an irresistible sale, you might want to reconsider the purchase. I have found two rules which prevent my own impulsive purchases:

1. If I think I just have to buy it, I ask the sales person to put it on hold and then return in a day or two to try on the merchandise again. Most often I lose my enthusiasm for the purchase and decide NOT to spend the money. This makes me feel empowered and in control.

2. I imagine myself in a school uniform or doctor’s scrubs or a nurse’s uniform. In other words, I can wear the same clothes every day. Guess what? I usually end up wearing jeans or black pants with different tops.  Black serves as a great base to build.

Stress management is all about perception. When the seasons change, I put away some knick-knacks, bring back a few old ones, and rotate others around the house. Therefore what’s tired becomes stimulating and fresh. I even change where I sit at the kitchen table to see things from a different perspective. Similarly, in your own closet you can change your perception about your old clothes to see them in a fresh light, clearly no need to purchase when you possess the creativity. Try wearing an old outfit differently by belting, shortening, accessorizing or changing buttons – the way you change cabinet handles to achieve a totally different look.

Cleaning out your closet is cathartic. Keep it simple.

Cleaning Out The Old

 Most of my advances were by mistake. You uncover what is when you get rid of what isn’t.”Buckminster Fuller

 Lately the idea of getting rid of old, unwanted and unnecessary stuff has been on my mind.Perhaps it is the urge toward spring cleaning that comes from witnessing the budding trees and bulbs pushing up through the cold ground that reminds us of nature’s perpetual cycle of rebirth. It could be my great fortune of having hired a superlative office manager who is teaching me a few things about the spirit world as she dispenses with years of old notes and files, making room for the new. I have been inspired to reconsider the attachments I have made to the stuff that bears witness to my history. Old information, old contacts, even in hard copy are not relevant, and the fact that I haven’t looked at them in years is proof.

 It is not only in my office that my life tends to get cluttered. I have had this habit of holding onto things that represent a period of time or emotional connection in my life with my four children. The sheer volume of things collected has forced me to continuously work at letting go, but still it has not been easy. This past winter I sent 18 boxes of clothing on to a homeless shelter to replenish their stores after a fire cleaned them out. Easily seven years of collecting, maybe longer if you take into account all the hand-me-downs.

 Another place where I tend to hoard is with the written word. I have yet to get rid of many of my books, but recently have been learning to let go of old magazines and newspaper columns.Although I rarely go back and read the same book twice, the idea that the information will still be available somehow comforts me. Rationally I can tell you that there would be little reason to read my old parenting toddler books or even the old novels that I still hold onto. True, I was glad to be able to pull an old Alan Watts off the shelf recently for my 18-year-old son, but largely my book collection mostly collects dust.

 Perhaps the most telling space of my ineffective letting-go strategy has been in my closet, which instead of a walk-in, is actually a walk through, on the way to bathroom. Nowhere has my compromised ability to let go been more apparent than here. Every day, several times a day even, I witness the stuff crowding my space, tethering me to the past without really seeing it.We get accustomed to our own clutter. Sweaters that are as old as my marriage, dresses and pants from a size that I probably will never be again, shoes that never felt right new and haven’t been worn in a decade, remedies from a child’s illness 5 years ago are still crowding my shelves.

 Is it the empty space that these things would leave that intimidate me from not letting go or is that each time I walk through I wonder where to begin. I think Joseph Campbell may have been cleaning out his closets or clearing papers off his desk when he wrote, “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.” Today, I dedicated the first day of spring to cleaning out my closet. I sent four huge leaf size bags of old stuff on its way. Looking through my old stuff with fresh eyes that are ready for a new life helped me to see all that I have collected for what it is.The tenderness and connection that I have long attributed to those things never belonged to them… it was in me all along. 

 Next stop, my office desk….

Clutter Can Mess Up Your Life

If your environment is cluttered and you are overweight, you might be wondering if there is an emotional connection. Perhaps, if you cure one, you cure both. Shopping and hoarding like eating and gaining might indicate that you are trying to self-soothe your stress. Whether you eat junk food or accumulate junk, the result is that you tend to feel guilty and ashamed.  How can you invite someone in to see your inner chaos?

Here is how clutter can make you fat. For example, check out your fridge which once housed an exciting, impulsively hungry purchase of crisp, colorful healthy fruits and vegetables from a local farm stand and a huge container of low-fat Greek yogurt.  However, now you hastily close the fridge door after you grab some milk for your coffee, offended by the sour smell and the science experiment actively growing there. You lack the motivation to clean it out – it has become overwhelming. Instead, you easily reach into the pantry for the processed, preserved foods with a real long shelf-life like, cookies, chips and candy bars, or head towards the odorless freezer for the ice-cream.

You take your stash to the living room to get distracted by TV. Your space looks like a thrift shop during year-end tax-deductions. Piles of dusty possessions sap your natural energy. Drawers are bulging with receipts, mail, unread magazines and loose photographs. The clothes in your closet still hang with price tags from a couple of years ago because you rotate three or four outfits. You are imprisoned, unaware that you can open the cage door any time you want.

Turn on the music and move it out. Music restores your rhythm.

The good news: as soon as you throw out the very first object of external clutter, you will feel lighter and lose that ravenous appetite to consume. Probably, the easiest place to start is with your fridge. Success breeds success. Then proceed to where your eyes are drawn; let your body lead you to it. The sequence doesn’t matter; the emotional association is more important. So you can go from the fridge to your closet or to your desk. The order you create will enable you to cope with the chaos of daily stress. When you can sit alone in your space without feeling lonely, you have de-cluttered, ready to invite others into your life.

Here are 3 basic questions to help determine what to let go.

* Do you collect objects to show off who you are like books you never read or strange souvenirs from your travels, or do you really treasure your possessions? Throw away what you don’t love.

* Are you afraid to let go of the things you have inherited from family, living or dead, whom you have always wanted to please? Take photographs to remember these items like grandma’s piano in order to free up your space. Create your unique place in the world.

* Do your possessions symbolize who you are and wish to become? The hand sculpture holding a bar bell no longer reminds me of my essence. I gave it away.

Thoreau lamented that life is frittered away by detail and begged us to simplify. TODAY.


Clear Your Clutter for the New Year

This week’s INTENT is about managing your time and I have found myself mysteriously drawn to clearing the clutter of my life in so many ways. I did not set out to clean up that messy drawer, or to re-organize my closets, or toss out a lot of old paperwork I had been holding onto for years. It just sorta happened and I must say that WOW it is refreshing and you should try it. First it started with my moving my art studio of ten years to a new smaller space.

Yes, everyone seems to be downsizing these days. With a smaller space I have to let go of STUFF. I had to ask myself, "When I am old and gray (well, I will never be gray because I love my hairdresser too much) and my nephews are forced to deal with the stuff I have left behind – does it really matter if I hold onto this and that?" And of course, the overwhelming answers were NO, NO, and NO. While cleaning out my studio, I decided to bring some of my more valuable stuff home and that’s when I had to make room in my loft.

Now a loft is one big room and with valuable closet space. Making the most of every nook and cranny became paramount and this caused me to toss out more stuff at home. Finally, my upstairs neighbor was generous enough to share his roaches with me and that meant taking everything out of my kitchen cabinets to have it sprayed. And this lead to more clutter clearing as I found things I no longer needed in the kitchen.

The point of my BLOG this week is to get you think about the physical stuff in your own life. Ask yourself: do I need it? Is it who I am today and who I want to become tomorrow? Most importantly, at the end of your life is this what I want to be holding onto and passing along to my family as something I truly value? Realistically, clearing clutter is NOT Feng Shui. It might be the western interpretation of Feng Shui, but the classical Chinese version does not care how much crap you have around your house as long as it is in the right location and compass direction.

Best Time Management for this month would be CLEARING YOUR CLUTTER and starting the new year – February 4th is the Chinese New Year – with a clean sparkly slate!

11 Tips to Transform Your Home into a Safe Haven–for Stressful Holidays!

In these times of economic upheaval, it’s tough to keep stress levels down. Most of us know some ways to keep stress in control; eat right, get plenty of sleep, exercise, meditate. But, did you know that making your home a safe haven can also be extremely beneficial?

The other day, Oprah had Peter Walsh, the organizational expert on her show. The segment was about clutter and how it’s the last thing we need in troubled times, as clutter makes us feel unsafe and anxious.

As an eco-friendly interior designer and Feng Shui expert, I have had the honor of helping many clients transform their lives by changing their homes. Living in a home filled with positive energy, with beauty, a home that is clean, organized and clutter-free makes the occupants feel safe. In safety comes freedom; freedom to be creative, to be motivated and energetic.

Best of all, it doesn’t need to cost a fortune to create your sanctuary. I recommend the following steps to create your safe haven:

* Eliminate harmful products and replace them with eco-friendly ones. This step will improve your health and the health of the planet.

* Clean your home well and get rid of clutter! This is huge and you can even make money by selling your stuff! A clean home is a healthier home and just feels good. Clutter, as mentioned previously, causes stress, confusion, depression and lethargy. Get rid of anything you don’t love, need or have used for over a year.

* Clear your home of negative energy with smudging or dowsing. See a previous post of mine on smudging.

* Get rid of processed food and eat wholesome and organic.

* Allow energy, or chi, to flow unobstructed throughout your home. Don’t crowd furniture.

* Use color to your benefit. The cool colors, like blue and purple, are great in the bedroom because they lower blood pressure and help us relax. Social rooms, like the kitchen and living room, benefit from the warm, expansive colors like yellow, red, and orange.

* Place objects in the Bagua to attract whatever you want—love, money, fame.

* Balance each room with all four elements—earth, air, fire, and water.

* Houseplants add great energy and suck up indoor air pollution.

* Treat yourself to flowers every week—simply my favorite way to make my home feel like a sanctuary.

* Learn to decorate with confidence! Don’t worry about what’s in style—decorate to please your unique style.

One last suggestion–have fun while doing this! Transforming your home into a sanctuary is really enjoyable—something we all need a bit of now.

Allow Money to Flow Into Your Life!

A recent New York Times article wrote that psychics and astrologers are seeing a boom in their business as people flock to them to answer questions about their finances.
But, there is a better way to attract money and it begins in your home and office. There are definite steps to take to keep your money intact—or to make more. 

Attracting money begins with a clean and clutter-free home. Clutter bogs us down and doesn’t allow us to perform as well as we should, Energy should flow into a home and glide effortlessly around the home. Having a lot of junk in the entry way, for example, is a good way to prevent this from happening. Even more importantly, clutter prevents us from thinking clearly, which prevents us from manifesting what we want—in this case, money. 

Once your home is clean and free from clutter, Feng Shui can be used to bolster your finances. The Bagua is the sacred octagon used in Feng Shui and is one of the oldest methods for reading energy patterns. The eight sides of the octagon plus the center are the nine sections, or Guas, that correspond to one or more life areas.  

The wealth area is in the upper left section of the Bagua. Superimpose the map over the entire home, or concentrate on important rooms, like the bedroom, office or entryway. The wealth corner of the desk is also important. You can bolster the wealth corner in one or all of the rooms in your home. 

Depicting the flow of money, water objects like fountains or aquariums are the best choice in the wealth areas of the home or office. A photograph of water will also work. Add coins to a fountain for even more power. Heavy objects, depicting grounded finances, are also good. Choose plants, sculptures and other heavy objects. When you look at these objects, think about attracting good fortune and having as much money as you desire. 

Finally, another key to attracting money is to think positively and to give energy, focus and attention to making it. Writing down your thoughts about how it feels to have plenty of money and feel what it’s like to be worry free about finances. 

Try these tips before you spend your money on a psychic! 

By the author of the book:

Harmonious Environment: Beautify, Detoxify & Energize Your Life, Your Home & Your Planet

March 2010: Sell Your Home Fast In a Buyer’s Market: Secrets from an Expert green feng Shui Staging Designer.


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