Digging Out of the Aftermath of Depression

[Disclaimer: I am not a licensed counselor, social worker, psychiatrist, or psychologist. The following post is intended for motivational purposes only for individuals who would like to create a more organized environment. Individuals who believe they may be experiencing depression are urged to seek out a licensed counselor or other mental healthcare professional.]

I recently worked with a client who is an accomplished businesswoman. She is also at the tail end of a six month struggle with anxiety and depression. She described herself as “finally having the motivation to do something, but felt terrible after looking around” and seeing the state of her home. In particular, she had been avoiding her office area and another space that was dedicated to her love of working on craft projects.

Feeling overwhelmed when emerging from a period of physical illness or depression is not uncommon. Oftentimes, people struggle with finding a place to begin in restoring order to their environment. As illustrated in the example above, remaining in a disorganized home or work environment can lead to procrastination and additional feelings of guilt and anxiety, thus potentially creating a negative cycle that can become very difficult to break: eating habits may suffer, work performance declines, and a daily schedule that was once filled with more fulfilling activities may be reduced to simply going to bed upon arriving home or watching television until falling asleep.

In these situations, starting small and organizing one area at a time may be most effective. Those who have recently experienced anxiety, depression, or illness my require more immediate results. Small victories up front may provide the momentum these individuals need to keep going and to dramatically transform their environment. The following suggestions may help virtually anyone who is struggling with getting started on a large organizing project, especially those who are recovering from emotional or physical stress or illness.

  • Organize according to your energy level. I am a firm believer in realistically creating a plan before beginning an organizing project and tailoring the steps within the plan to your mental and physical energy level at the time. It is okay (and even encouraged!) to set relatively challenging targets, but plan to take a break or reach a stopping point before you would typically expect to become completely exhausted.
  • Start small. If you lack the time, energy, and focus to organize your entire home or office within a day or over the course of a weekend, divide the project into manageable parts. Can you organize one room at a time? If not, try starting with a single closet, dresser, or “junk drawer.”  Whether removing clutter from a bookshelf or donating old clothes from a closet, completing the first part of a large project often provides the inspiration to do more.
  • Don’t organize alone! Call a friend who will help you and keep you accountable, or call a professional organizer! An organizer can coach you along while offering the encouragement and, if necessary, healthy distraction from the more mundane or perhaps overwhelming parts of the process.

Contrary to what most people believe, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to getting organized. Therefore, the individual must consider his or her specific needs and goals when setting out to affect a lasting, positive change in his or her environment.

 

What is Professional Organizing?

Rolanda L., Professional Organizer shows clients how to tame clutter and regain control of their homes and workplaces.

Simply stated, professional organizing is a process through which a system is put in place to help individuals and businesses become more orderly. It is one of many very effective ways to improve quality of life and boost productivity.

What is the Rolanda L. Method?

Disorganization is typically a symptom of a larger disruption in an individual’s life. Sometimes the cause of the disruption may be minor and temporary like moving to a new residence or redecorating. In other cases, disorganization may have a root cause that is very chronic and persistent. Regardless the cause of a disorganized home or office, Rolanda L, Professional Organizer seeks to address each individual situation at its origin and to design and implement solutions that will ultimately set the client up for continued success. The Rolanda L. Method is a holistic approach to organizing!

What Can Be Organized (…Professionally)?

Closets, cabinets, shelves, paperwork, filing systems, you name it! Rolanda L. is also available to assist with furniture selection, room layout, and color coordination. Our clients also love our specialized relocation packing service, which makes moving to a new home or office much more efficient and generally more secure. Having a highly detail-oriented professional organizer handle packing during a move makes the entire process much faster and easier from start to finish.

But I Always Seem to Find Myself Needing to Reorganize… 

Solution: Work with a professional organizer to implement a system and/or layout that works well with your lifestyle and behavioral habits…We happen to know one if you’re interested!

If you are unable to work with an organizer, simply take inventory of your daily routine (even if it is somewhat erratic), and ask yourself if you have designed your home and everything in it in a way that supports you in achieving your daily objectives. If the answer is no, walk through each aspect of an average day in your life, ask yourself what could be improved to increase efficiency and peace of mind. Then modify your environment accordingly. Keeping a journal of observations and changes may be helpful.

Also ask about our affordable workshop events, where you can learn organizing strategies in a supportive small group setting led by Rolanda!

Put me in touch with your pro.

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More Than “Minimalism”

Whether I am speaking to people in their homes or reading an article about organizing, I sometimes encounter what I describe as a near-obsession with the act of throwing things away. People will often say to me in frustration, “I am a minimalist. I just want to throw everything away.” However, the act of throwing much away in favor of owning little is only a small part of the equation for living a balanced, organized life.

Throwing Things Away is Only the Beginning

Many, many of us in the United States own more than we need for daily survival. And, in my opinion, there is nothing inherently wrong with this. However, anyone who has become frustrated with “clutter” has likely discovered that there is such a thing as having too many nonessential items. In contrast to that notion, most of us feel much happier when we have comfortable furniture, several clothing options, and aesthetic objects around the home we simply enjoy for the sake of ambiance. While doing a very detailed and thorough purge is essential to truly becoming organized, purging is just the first step. Furthermore, “over-purging” can be more detrimental than helpful.

The Dangerous Over-Purge

On the front end, purging can bring a sense of relief and help most people realize exactly how much space they really have and how little they use certain items they have been storing needlessly. However, it is important to avoid the danger of simply throwing things away to receive instant gratification, then later routinely buying new thing to fill the space. In the end, the cycle repeats and a need for a second major purge will eventually arise.

Deliberation While Purging

In my opinion, one of the most effective tactics in Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is her suggestion to hold and even speak to each item before deciding whether to keep it. While I do not typically advise clients to communicate with their items in this exact way (…unless they want to), I believe there is value in pausing to think about an item before deciding whether to keep it or throw it away. Oftentimes, when I notice what appears to be an impulsive, emotional response toward an item, I ask the client to pause, and we quickly discuss the object. Just by creating a pause, the client is typically able to think through the cause of the strong feelings toward the object and become comfortable discarding (or in some cases keeping) it. He or she is then able to proceed with a clearer understanding of the item’s role (or lack thereof) in the home.  Taking time to think about each item also minimizes the risk of over-purging and allows the person to logically think through potential opportunities and uses for an object they simply never knew they had or never took time to seek out opportunities to use it.

Yes, Some of Us ARE True Minimalists, But…

By nature, most people prefer to surround themselves with certain comforts and with aesthetically-pleasing things. Therefore, it is important for each person to consider where his or her center of gravity lies when attempting to balance the functional constraints (i.e. storage capacity) of a room with individual preference when it comes to variables like decor, technology, and comfort features within the space.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kid-Friendly Organizing Tools

[This post contains affiliate links, which means Amazon will pay me a commission on purchases made through the any of following product links]

Parents often lament the state of their children’s play areas and bedrooms. The truth is these are oftentimes the areas that lend themselves to successful implementation f the most basic organizing strategies. When approaching a kids zone, the main objectives should be to categorize, label, then categorize even more if necessary. By getting the child involved, he or she can even improve other skills while learning to maintain his or her room. Color-coded buckets and bins, containers of different sizes and shapes, and keeping toys and art supplies well-sorted can enable small children to practice the same basic concepts they are required to learn and leverage in school. The act of restoring order to their room or play area can also help reinforce positive lifestyle habits and even teach the child to organize his or her thoughts.

Choose Tools That Suit the Child

Children who are very small or those whose motor skills are still in early development may especially benefit from having their toys organized into larger containers that have an open top. Balls and building blocks may be stored in larger open bins. Stuffed animals may be stored in a toy box or on a low shelf. The goal is to make cleanup time easy for kids and parents even if the child does not have the agility to latch and unlatch complex containers. Open bins and large boxes also allow the child to grasp and further develop the important concept of object categorization while participating in the practice of clearing and “resetting” the play area.

Restrict Access When Necessary

Small children may have toys and puzzles that consist of many pieces. Parents who are concerned about the pieces becoming scattered should consider utilizing containers that have a latch closure or a locking mechanism. Storing these types of toys on high shelving can also minimize random spillage. Art supplies may also be stored in a similar manner when not in use.

Cube Storage for Older Kids

Once a child is able to read labels, fabric storage cube are a fantastic option for separating the many different items older children use throughout the week. My client have used cube storage systems to create a designated place for winter accessories like hats and gloves, folded sports uniforms, clothes (in rooms that are too small to accommodate a large dresser), video game controllers, pajamas, arts and craft supplies, and more. Fabric cubes can be used with a cube storage system like the products offered by Closet Maid or on regular built-in or freestanding shelving.

Success in keeping a child’s room or play area organized most often depends on the parent and child working together. Parents can set their children up for organizational success by keeping systems clear and simple, but effective and, most importantly, by involving the child in the process of organizing and maintaining the area as often as possible.

Choosing Achievement-Friendly Environments

This is a quick #ItsPersonal post.

An often overlooked step in goal-setting is creating surroundings that support the desired outcome. For most of us, the people with whom we spend time are the most critical part our “surroundings.” Therefore, many times, it’s not enough to simply set a goal and work at it in isolation. Losing weight may require joining a class or playing a sport in addition to working out alone. Making nutritional changes is much easier after taking a cooking class or attending healthy food-themed events. Learning a new skill is often more enjoyable when meeting with groups of people who share the same interest and are working toward a similar goal.

In addition to deliberately placing yourself in settings with like-minded people, it is also important to find others who know more than you and who are further along in their experience. Not only can a more accomplished person with similar interests tell you how they met their goals, but you can also examine their description of the road they’ve taken and decide whether it leads to where you’d like to be. #ItsPersonal

It’s very easy to become your surroundings. Therefore, achieving different results may require a change in scenery and a different cast of supporting characters. Moreover, we should always be mindful of our surrounding environment and the company we choose to keep. The human brain is constantly processing and responding to data from our surroundings–even when we don’t realize the outside influence.

Let’s Get Personal

It’s safe to say the overwhelming majority of people who meet me, especially in a work capacity, view me as a “solutions-oriented” personality. The minute a problem arises, I quickly begin the process of finding and evaluating the best possible solutions. It’s pretty automatic. Sometimes process starts well before a potential problem can arise. Nevertheless, I recognize I don’t have all the answers […at least not immediately?]. In fact, I’ve found that my willingness to be “human” and to share the fruits of my own [admittedly sometimes wacky] trial-and-error episodes brings an added level of comfort and relatability when working with clients. I was at a workshop for startup founders and entrepreneurs tonight when the obvious occurred to me: I should be bringing that level of humanness to my blog. And with that, I’d like to introduce the #ItsPersonal tag!

My journey as an entrepreneur is fertile ground for the very same lessons and principles I impart to my clients day in and day out, week after week. I’m a believer in teaching and encouraging by example. Tonight, in a lightning bolt-esque moment, it occurred to me that others may also be able to learn and grow by getting an inside look at my own exercise in diligently applying the life-changing concepts I’m always sharing with others.

Through my #ItsPersonal posts, I will aim to share more of my personal insights as a young business owner (along with other more personal stories that impact me as an entrepreneur and as a pro organizer). I hope my stories will leave readers feeling motivated, inspired, (and maaaybe a little entertainment…).

In closing, I will highlight a particular principle that especially rang true for me today and inspired this post (…and the #ItsPersonal posts that will follow): sometimes you just have to pick a starting point and GO!

I’ve probably coached hundreds of people in taking the initiative to “launch,” whether it was the beginning of an organizing project, researching a next move, pursuing a dream, going abroad, applying for schools… But very recently, I’ve been quietly struggling with having several business-related ideas and choosing which to pursue…and in what order. After narrowing the  list down to the most immediately feasible, I still found myself procrastinating and unnecessarily dragging out the regular tasks on my daily to-do lists–anything to avoid taking decisive action.  Today, I was reminded that there comes a point at which there is one thing left to do, and it’s to take the first step forward. After taking that step, however large or small, you can always step backward, continue along the same trajectory, or even go left or right. But once you’ve planned, deliberated, and identified a goal, there is one guarantee: the act of standing in place won’t bring you any closer to it… #ItsPersonal