How to declutter your life

It's time to start...

It’s time to start…

When it comes to decluttering your home and your life, there are many excuses not to start and many road blocks that hamper you along the way. If we let the overwhelm consume us, it is a lost cause before we have even begun! But it doesn’t have to be that way. Zen Habits had a great blog recently that shared many of my favourite tips. So take a read and see if they help you in your organizing endeavours:

Declutter Your Life

There was a time, about 8 years ago, when my life was cluttered. I had too much stuff, and it kept coming in all the time. I had too much to do, and didn’t know how to simplify my schedule. I was in need of some decluttering, and I knew it.

The question became, how to go about it? How do you start when you’re facing a mountain of clutter, and another mountain of commitments, and piles of files and mail and email and other digital information?

The answer became clear, as I got started: start simply. Keep it simple as you go. Simple, each step of the way.

That said, I found complications that made things harder at every turn. I’d like to help you with some of those here, briefly, in hopes that you’ll be inspired to start decluttering.

Start Decluttering

How do you get started? As simply as possible:

  • Take just 10 minutes today to sort though a pile, or declutter a shelf or table or countertop.
  • Put everything into one pile, and start with the first thing you pick up (no putting things back in the pile).
  • Ask yourself: do you really need this? Do you use it regularly? Do you love it? If the answer to any of these is no, then recycle, donate, or give it to someone who might want it. Put it in a box for these purposes.
  • Put things back that you need/use/love, with space between things. This is their “home” and you should always put them back there.
  • Stop after 10 minutes, continue tomorrow for another 10 minutes, and so on, one small spot in your home at a time.
  • If you want to do more than 10 minutes, go ahead, but be careful not to overdo it in the beginning or you’ll think it’s difficult and not want to continue.

Keep Going

Once you’ve gotten the ball rolling, here’s how to keep going:

  • Keep decluttering in small bits. Pick an area to focus on each week.
  • Don’t worry about perfection. Just get it simpler. You can always declutter it more later.
  • Put your box of donation/recycling/giving away in your trunk, to get rid of next time you’re out. Email friends/family to ask if they want things — often you can find a good home for perfectly good things you don’t really use (that workout equipment).
  • If you’re on the fence, use a Maybe Box (put things that you think youmight need in a box, mark it with today’s date, put a reminder on your calendar 6 months from now to check on the Maybe Box. If you haven’t used it in 6 months, you probably don’t need it and can get rid of it.
  • Get help. Sometimes you just can’t bear to part with yourself, but if you can get an outside person to make the decision (friend or family member), they are usually much more dispassionate and ruthless.
  • Enjoy the space. Once you’ve decluttered an area, really focus on how much you love the simplified space. Once you’re hooked on this simplicity, you’re more likely to keep going.

Read the entire article from Zen Habits here.

Image courtesy of http://www.getorganized-stayorganized.com/

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The New York Marathon – a runners perspective…

Hopefully I will be this cheerful at the finish...

Hopefully I will be this cheerful at the finish…

Many of my readers may not know, but I will be running in the New York City Marathon this coming November. I am raising $5,000 for Animals Asia and have called it the Moon Bear Marathon in honour of the moon bears I am helping to save from the horrific practice of bile farming in Asia.

Not being a marathon runner I am a little (a lot) nervous but having read this blog post from Pip Coates, an Australian journalist who blogs about running, I am feeling a wee bit better! See what you think:

If you’re contemplating a trip to New York, the best time to go is in early November and the best way to see the city is by taking a unique tour that covers all five boroughs- Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan. The tour takes anywhere from three to five hours and all streets along the route are closed to traffic for your exclusive access; it’s the only New York tour to offer such a service.

Along the way you’ll be entertained by more than 130 live bands, each one a musical representation of the cultural diversity of the neighbourhoods you pass through. Food and drink is provided every kilometre. Numbers are limited to about 45,000 and entry costs from $327 but, despite this, every year it’s harder to score a ticket.

The tour is called the lNG New York Marathon and, yes, you have to run 42.2 kilometres- or 26 miles- non-stop, but that is actually what makes it fun. Especially as you’re doing it with runners from about 80 countries. This event is at once a race, an intense personal challenge, a cultural exchange, a sightseeing tour, a music festival and a giant carnival. If there’s only one marathon in you, this should be it because it’s the only marathon in the world with enough crowd power to help carry you over the line.

The race begins from Staten Island with a steady climb up and over the two kilometre-long Verrazano Narrows bridge that spans the Hudson River. Manhattan – your final destination –looks very far away. As the sun rises, 45,000 pairs of sneakers smack the bitumen. Some runners record the moment on their smartphones; others cheer. The adrenaline courses through your veins; the scene is so at odds with the hours of solitary training in pre-dawn winter darkness that you ‘ve endured to get here.

OMG!

OMG!

Once over the Narrows your marathon tour arrives in Brooklyn and a rapturous greeting from the first of some 2 million spectators who will be lining the course and waving signs saying “Black toenails are sexy” , “You’ve got stamina! Call me”, and “You are NOT nearly there”.

The sidewalk enthusiasm evaporates as you enter Brooklyn ‘s ultra-orthodox Jewish neighbourhood where the locals appear to consider you an invading alien force, which to some extent you are. But a few streets later you’re back in the madness passing a yarmulka-wearing rock band with a banner out front declaring: “Shalom to all kosher marathoners. ”

After Brooklyn and Queens, you traverse the long and steep Queensborough Bridge. New York is the hilliest of the five major marathons (Boston, London, Berlin and Chicago are the other four)and here, at about the 15-mile mark, you need to stay focused . You descend into the exit tunnel, take a 90-degree turn and emerge at the southernmost end of First Avenue, Manhattan.

You know you’ve arrived in Manhattan before you see it. The almost deafening roar of countless cheering spectators ricochets off the tunnel walls and when you emerge onto the avenue the scene is staggering: thousands upon thousands of runners and fans stretch straight ahead of you for almost 70 blocks: Those 70 blocks get pretty tedious, however, and despite some entertaining signage (“Run total stranger, run “), it’s almost a relief to cross another bridge into the Bronx. This is the 20-mile mark and things can get a bit hazy. You’re tired and a little voice is trying to fill your head with negative thoughts. Then someone goes and waves a banner saying “It’s OK to cry”. Just as you consider doing so, the live music intervenes. This time it’s Alicia Keys (sounds like her, looks like her) singing Empire State of Mind. You kick on.

Your tour arrives back on Manhattan at 138th Street. It’s time for the return push south along the island – 48 blocks of straight grind up Fifth Avenue. Fortunately the crazy supporters haven’t run out of puff and when at last you turn into Central Park at 90th street, it’s a blessed relief. Yes, you will hurt and there will be scenes of carnage among some of the other runners, but the magnificent, dazzling display of autumn colours throughout the park can still fill you with joy.

With about 2.2 miles to go it’s time to draw on all your reserves of mental strength and remind yourself how to run properly as your body is close to seizing up in protest. It’s time to think about why you signed up for this tour, how much it means to you, who you are doing it for.

A few more bends in the road, the faces flash by and then you hear the blissful sound of the race announcer counting down the final few hundred metres. It’s all you can focus on: the finish line, the blue timing mats, the crowds in the stands, the overhead electronic timing clocks.

You run so hard to the end- and then it’s over. You can stop, but you can hardly stand, the emotion is overwhelming. Someone wraps you in a heat sheet, someone else pins it together and then someone drapes a heavy medal around your neck and takes a photo. You’ve completed the world’s biggest marathon. And you’ve got a medal to prove it.

If you would like to help me achieve my $5,000 goal towards the rescue of  moon bears from bile farming feel free to donate here!

Read Pip’s blog here. 

Why “should” is a dirty word when trying to get organized.

The books have taken over the bedroom...

The books have taken over the bedroom…

Deciding to declutter your home and get organized is hard enough without the guilt. The number one comment I hear when working with clients in the home is “but I should keep this because…”. We talk ourselves into why we SHOULD keep things rather than being able to LET GO of our possessions guilt free. And it is this thinking that is keeping us from moving forward in our organizing endeavours and is keeping us buried in the past. The No.1 excuse I hear is “I should keep this is because it may come in handy one day.” It’s time to bury the shoulds!

Unclutterer.com wrote a blog post about this very topic which really hit the nail on the head for me and I am guessing for many of my readers too. Here’s a peak at some “should” samples:

I need to keep these books because I should read them

Unless you’re in school, you can probably let go of this “should.” If you have absolutely no interest in reading some of the classics, you can give the books away; you really don’t have to read them. You only have so much reading time available in your life, so why not use that time to read the things you truly want to read?

should convert from my paper planner, address book, or to-do list to a digital system

Digital tools certainly have their advantages — but if paper works for you, there’s really no need to change. You may want to look at how you could back up these physical copies just in case they get lost or damaged, but there’s no reason you need to switch from what’s working well.

should keep this sentimental thing

Well, perhaps you should keep it. Is it actually sentimental to you or is it the kind of thing most people find sentimental? I got rid of all but a few pages of my high school yearbooks because I just didn’t care about it, even thought this act would horrify other people.

Read the entire article here.

A sneak preview of 2013…

Today’s guest post is by the fabulous Rosina Bond from Women 2 Success:

Do you feel energised, tired, lost or inspired?

The strong soul energies of this year brought about the inner and outer change that you have desired and for some there has been little rest. Many have gone through fundamental life changes and saw this year as a way to jump into the unknown and soar… did you?

October is a sneak preview of 2013.

We now move into October and this month gives us a window view of the potential and the pitfalls for 2013. For you to maximize this as an opportunity you simply need to be aware and take note of the following.

What comes up, do you feel energized, tired, lost or inspired?

How are your relationships?

What do you feel emotionally?

Is there anyone pushing your buttons and if so which ones?

How are your earnings and work?

How do you feel physically?

At the months end, take some time and overview how you felt and what you needed. This then allows you to include these insights into your goals for 2013 as you will know what is needed to support yourself next year to maximize your true potential.

This month is all about setting the tone, and you now have 13 weeks to clean, clear and complete 2012 and what this year has made you face to conquer.

Now is not the time to sweep things under the carpet but deal with them face them and do the necessary. If you complete this month with these tools in mind then you have a head start to next year and what an opportunity this is. This month gives you an opportunity to change outcomes by making a positive approach and clear decisions. Energy in means energy out; if you do the work you will reap the rewards.

This month will have a strong focus for money in general including business. The more attention to detail the better as there is a strong cause and effect associated to a 6 for those who ignore what is required will mean along drawn out process and not necessarily good. Don’t ignore instead deal with what you need to as the rewards are worth it.

Magnetism is increased and especially in relationship, there is a lovely undercurrent of sexual attraction and this can be a nice romantic time and especially for those who make the effort for a new relationship or an existing one.

Potential or new relationships – Often openings of the heart are easier and men especially find it easier to talk and I encourage you to make the most of this. if someone is not ready for this, then don’t push them rather go with the flow, use your instincts to feel your way through to gaining more.

Spiritual work and endeavors

This month also brings a stronger connection to spirit and is an ideal time for magic and magic practice for relationships of any kind, love, personal, and business and money matters. The way to connect is by taking the time to meditate or small ritual can be followed to gain insight and strength. Talk with like-minded people and share experience as we enter this amazing new consciousness.

If you need more specific ideas for clearings or enhancement remedies, please email me at rosina@pretoriamay.com

Also I have a few spaces left this month for those keen to work on them

‘Defining You’ is a four week series to help you do this, to help you clear the blocks that limit you from knowing and living. This series helps you reconnect to feel more empowered and stronger but most of all satisfied, even through times of challenge.

Go to http://www.woman2success.com/article/defining_you

Have a great month and remember to always embrace your intuitive self!

Clearing Your Life for a New Year

Isn’t it funny that someone just happens to write something just at the time you need it? Leo Babauta from Zen Habits has done it again. Check out this post about clearing your life for the New Year:

Every January, people rush out and get a gym membership, set a list of goals or resolutions, and get ready to take on a new year of frenetic activity.

Unfortunately, we don’t often clear space to make room for all this new stuff.

The beginning of the year is a great time for renewal of energy and taking on the things we’ve always wanted to tackle — clutter, fitness, work we’re passionate about, debt, and so on. But it’s also a great time to clear out your life, starting out the year on a blank page that’s ready to be filled.

While everyone’s life is different, I’ll share some of what I do to clear out my life.

  • Review the year to think about what I learned, what mistakes I made, what I accomplished.
  • Clear my schedule as much as possible. That often means saying no to people.
  • Wrap up old projects, end commitments to people, so that my work plate is clearer than normal.
  • Toss out old fitness and eating plans, to make room for new experiments.
  • Clear my email inbox. If I haven’t answered the email recently, it’s probably not important, so I archive it. Act on or answer other emails, so that my inbox is emptied.
  • Clear out other inboxes. That might be an inbox on a social network, or a list of things I wanted to do or read, or any kind of list really. File them away under someday, or delete or archive. Anything that’s taking some mental energy because I know I need to get to it, gets cleared.
  • Clear my computer files. Usually this means deleting a bunch of files I don’t need, but I also just consolidate files into one folder or put them in an online archive (like in Dropbox).
  • Clear paperwork. I rarely have any papers these days — I’ve slowly turned everything digital. But I still get things in the mail sometimes, so if I have any lying around, I dispose of them to clear out any remaining paperwork.
  • Clear clutter. If there are areas that have become cluttered, I clear them out. Often it just means taking a box or bag of things that I’ve been meaning to donate to Goodwill.
  • Clear my errands. I’ll make a list of all the errands I’ve been putting off, and do them in one afternoon.
  • Clear my finances. I’ll take a few minutes to review my checking and savings accounts, Paypal, investments, etc. and make sure everything is in order. If there are little things that need taking care of, I do them so that my mind is cleared.
  • Clear pantry and refrigerator of junk. Old crap that’s been lying around. Junk food if there’s any there (I don’t usually have any anymore, but I used to). Left with just good whole ingredients for healthy foods.

This might take a couple days, working off and on in little bits. For some, it might take longer. But when you’re done, it’s amazing. Your mind is clear and refreshed. You feel like you’re ready to take on anything. To be honest, I do these things regularly throughout the year, and it’s great to keep a clean slate most of the time. But the new year is always a perfect opportunity to clear everything at once.

Hear Hear Leo!

Read the original post from Zen Habits here: http://zenhabits.net/clear/

7 Steps to Declutter for the New Year

1. When organising, it’s best to unclutter first. Pull everything out of a space and sort it into piles: keep, purge and other.

o “Keep” obviously means that you plan to continue to store and/or use the item.
o “Purge” can mean that you intend to throw, shred, recycle, or donate the item to charity.
o “Other” is for objects that need to be repaired, relocated, returned to a friend or family member, or some other special action needs to be taken.

2. Once all of the objects from the space have been sorted, the garbage and recycling items need to go, donate the objects that can be donated, return items to friends, and drop off objects that need to be repaired at the repair shop.

So – what is left in your keep pile?

3. Do you need to do another round of uncluttering? If you’re feeling more courageous about purging items, now is the time to do it. When you are satisfied with your keep pile, sort the objects into new piles of like items — pencils with pencils, envelopes with envelopes, jeans with jeans etc.

4. When everything is in piles by type, examine what you have and compare it to your storage systems. It is only at that this point that you should consider buying storage. But before you do, look through your house or office to see if you already own something that could hold and organise your objects. Take into consideration your style of organisation:
  • Do you like to see things on display, or would your rather items are out of sight behind closed doors?
  • Do you like the eclectic look or the minimalist?
  • Do you like labels, or need opaque containers so you can see what’s inside?

Send Kerri to China (it’s for a good cause!)

I am the one on the left...

I am so excited – I am taking the trip of a lifetime to walk the Great Wall of China to help my beloved bears find freedom and a new home!

I’m raising much needed funds in the China Moon Bear Challenge for Animals Asia to assist them with the vital work they do in trying to make the horrible practice of bear farming a thing of the past!

 

The China Moon Bear Challenge aims to raise funds to continue the rescue and rehabilitation of Moon Bears from the extremely cruel practice of bear bile farming inChina, and bring them to the sanctuary inChengdu,Sichuan Province to live out their lives freely in a beautiful bamboo forest without pain or fear.

In the bile farms, the bears experience unimaginable horror by spending all day, every day, in tight, coffin-sized cages for as long as 25 years. They are milked daily (usually twice) for their bile in an excruciatingly painful process through crude (often filthy) implanted catheters and are sometimes  fitted with an iron corset to hold the catheters in place.

The bears moan and writhe in pain as the bile drains from their bodies. Sometimes the farmers mutilate the bears by breaking their teeth or pulling out their claws (sometimes removing entire digits) so that they can approach them without being injured.

Some cages have a collapsible top that can “crush” the bear and immobilise it better during the process. The bears are denied adequate water and food as this produces more bile.

The bile is used in traditional Chinese medicine, even though there are more than 50 cheap and effective herbal and synthetic alternatives readily available.

In 2000, after years of lobbying and negotiating, Animals Asia signed a landmark agreement with the Chinese authorities to rescue 500 Moon Bears and work towards ending the barbaric practice of bear bile farming.

Officially there are about 7000 bears  in bile farms in China, but Animals Asia fear there could be as many as 10,000.

As a participant of the Moon Bear Rescue Challenge for Animals Asia, I am raising vitally required funds used for the medical attention and rehousing of the rescued Moon Bears, and I will be visiting the Moon Bear sanctuary inChinain May 2012.

Please help me make a difference.

Click here to read more and make a donation (every little bit counts!)  https://www.gofundraise.com.au/page/KerriChinaMoonBearChallenge

The bears even have their own Facebook page:  http://www.facebook.com/Help.Rescue.The.Bears

Purchase a copy of my eBook The Essential Guide to Declutter and Organise Your Home and 100% of all sales goes to the China Moon Bear Challenge! Buy your copy for only $5.95 here:  http://www.domesticdownsizing.com.au/products.htm