Even in the tidiest and most organised of homes, there is one thing that never ceases to cause problems and that is the dreaded paperwork. And half of it we never even asked for – we can’t even blame ourselves for the little piles everywhere!
It flows through the door of our homes via the postman, school bags, newspapers, fliers or in work bags. And where does it find its home? In the hallway, kitchen surfaces, bedroom, living room – in short, lots of places where it is never going to be dealt with and leaves you with lots of paper piles, causing unnecessary stress each time you see it building up and up.
The first step in curbing that paper mountain is making a conscious effort to deal with it as soon as it comes through the door. If you spend just 5 or 10 minutes every day sorting your mail as soon as it arrives, you will avoid paperwork becoming a mammoth pile and a mammoth task.
As with everything else clutter related, breaking tasks down into manageable chunks is the key to reducing overwhelm.
So, pick that mail up from behind the door, get your recycling bin and shredder at the ready and declutter:
Adverts And Mailings Trying to Sell You Stuff
Ask yourself how often you have ever bought something on the back of a mailing through the post. It’s never hard to find things to buy!
If you love a coupon, they can stay but you are going to need a process to ensure they are used in a timely manner. Be honest whether you are planning to buy that item because you have a coupon or whether it is something you would ordinarily buy.
So many of us keep letters in envelopes and it just adds to the bulk of paper to deal with. Take the letter out of the envelope and annotate the letter itself. Each envelope that goes is effectively a double sheet of paper. Reduce that bulk and reduce the overwhelm with it.
Terms and Conditions
They are sent for information only because it is a legal requirement for institutions to make you aware of any changes. But how often do we really read them or take notice? If we need to refer back to Ts and Cs at any point it will be a straightforward process to get hold of a new set.
Duplicate Bank/Credit Card Statements
If we have joint accounts, we often get two statements. We may have the banking app but still get a paper copy too. Put going paperless on your to do list for today and reduce that bulk immediately.
Letters That Are for Info Only
Read the info, put any dates into your diary and you’ve done what you need to keep on top of things.
Make your charity donations something that you control. By keeping all the requests from charities, we can open ourselves up to that feeling of guilt and don’t make our decisions for the right reasons.
Make sure you don’t collect take-away menus from takeaways you will never order from. If you do receive a new flier with the latest menu from a takeaway you use, be sure to swap the old one out.
I could go on and on, but you get the gist by now.
Make Tackling the Mail a Priority
By tackling your mail as soon as it pops through your door, you will have made a huge dent in the volume you have. Everything that is left can go to a designated spot where you can tackle your filing and actioning once a week or so.
Once a week tends to be the sweet spot in terms of how often paperwork needs our attention to keep it under control, but that is going to ebb and flow depending on what’s going on in your life administratively.
For most people who cite paper as their worst clutter nightmare, incorporating this simple daily routine makes a huge difference.
And who doesn’t love a simple habit and a simpler life?
Do you tackle your mail as soon as it arrives? How do you feel about envelopes? Are you wedded to keeping them? What other paperwork clutters your home?
STOP BEING A REPOSITORY FOR OTHER PEOPLE’S STUFF!
BY RITA WILKINS
If there is one thing we all noticed a little more of during the Covid lockdown, it was the amount of clutter we had accumulated and the impact it can have on how we feel in our own homes.
Perhaps for the first time, you clearly felt the impact that clutter was having on your health, your well-being, and your relationships. You might have finally realized that the stress level in your home and in your life was directly related to the amount of clutter in your home… especially when living in such close quarters for an extended period of time.
In many ways, the pandemic forced us to come face-to-face with our own clutter and also to confront “other people’s clutter” that has been occupying space in our homes, perhaps for many years.
As you looked around your home, you realized a large portion of your basement was filled with your children’s school memorabilia and toys.
As you continued to look around, you realized that another large percentage of your basement was filled with hand-me-down furniture and clothing from well-meaning family and friends, as well as gifts you received but never used.
At one point in your life, you made the decision that those things were “too good” to be thrown away because you might need them “someday.”
And yet another portion of your home or storage unit had become the “temporary” home for furniture and memorabilia from the home of your deceased parents or loved ones… Sentimental items you inherited that you had difficulty letting go of at the time because you were still grieving their owners’ loss.
A Catalyst for Change
Now, for the first time…
- You realized that you were responsible. You had allowed your home and your storage unit to become a dumping ground for other people’s stuff.
- You realized just how much other people’s clutter was causing tension, resentment, and upset within your household when you said “yes” to becoming the caretaker for other people’s belongings.
- You also admitted that you had not set boundaries or timelines, so in essence, you allowed this to happen not just once, but many times throughout the years.
At the time, you might have felt responsible or obligated to allow your home to become the store house, putting others’ needs and wishes before your own. And at that time, you might have resisted getting rid of those things, choosing instead to hold onto them, hoping that your kids might want those “special treasures” for their own homes… “someday.”
But this time, something changed…
- You saw this clutter through a new lens, through a new set of eyes.
- You wanted your own home back!
- You needed less clutter, more peace of mind and you were ready to deal with it.
- You were ready to set boundaries so this wouldn’t happen again.
- You were tired of feeling guilty, resentful, and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of clutter that has been occupying your home… clutter that wasn’t even yours!
- You were tired of other people’s stuff weighing you down.
- You suddenly became committed to getting your own house back!
5 Steps to Reclaiming Space in Your Own Home
#1: Acknowledge That You Allowed This to Occur
Commit to a plan to get your house back, setting boundaries, saying “no,” and never letting it happen again.
#2: Identify Other People’s Stuff You No Longer Wish to Occupy a Space in Your Home
Get clear on what needs to be removed and make a plan for dealing with it.
#3: Discern What You Want to Keep from Deceased Parents or Loved Ones
Identify what you want to keep and what you will use. Then donate, sell or give the rest away to family or friends who might want, need or use it.
#4: Create a Plan and Timeline to Remove Other People’s Stuff
Set a goal and make a plan for how and when this will happen. Write it down and follow through.
#5: Have a Conversation with Your Children About Their Stuff
Let them know that you are decluttering and possibly downsizing to a smaller home and that you won’t have room to store their stuff any longer.
Give them a date that it needs to be removed by. Let them manage all of the details to deal with it: keep, sell, or donate. An added benefit might be that this is a great opportunity to offer them things that you will be getting rid of. If they have an interest, have them remove it from your home.
Top 3 Benefits of Getting Your Own Home Back
Clearly, there are many benefits of decluttering by removing other people’s stuff from your home. These are just a few:
Your Home Feels Lighter… And So Do You
There is a new positive energy that flows in your home when you have less stuff and more time for your life.
A Newfound Respect
When you stand your ground and create boundaries around your own needs and wishes, you will not only respect yourself more, but you were also garner a newfound respect from others, including your kids.
More Time, Energy and Freedom
When you declutter your home, you are also decluttering your life. This provides you with more time, energy, and freedom to live your life to the fullest.
Is your home filled with “other people’s” clutter? How did that happen? What portion of your home is currently not your own? Challenge yourself to a date and schedule to free yourself so you can get your own house back, then let us know how it goes!
Rita Wilkins, known as The Downsizing Designer, is a nationally recognized interior design and lifestyle design expert, Tedx speaker and author of Downsize Your Life, Upgrade Your Lifestyle: Secrets to More Time, Money and Freedom. She challenges baby boomer audiences to reimagine, reinvent, redesign their lives to live abundantly with less. Learn more at https://www.designservicesltd.com/
Do what you love – and take it easy: Eight ways to get back lost fitness and motivation
by Sirin Kale
The pandemic has left many of us feeling tired, out of sorts and beaten. But it is possible to get your exercise rhythm back. Here’s how
Many of us have been working at home for more than a year now, without the “ambient” exercise we used to get during the 9 to 5 – walking to and from the station, say, or up and down the office stairs. And so we’ve made a conscious effort to get our feet moving and our hearts pounding.
Even in the gloomy months of January and February, it was surprisingly easy to stay motivated. Endless mournful laps of the neighbourhood park, brisk jogs past shuttered high streets and empty window displays; they gave you a legitimate excuse to get out of the house. But now that pubs and bars have reopened and we can finally see our friends, many of us have found that our fitness and enthusiasm have plunged off a cliff.
How best to get back into exercise? The experts weigh in.
Don’t be ashamed
Exeter-based personal trainer Joe Edmonds sees this all the time: people who want to exercise more, but are terrified to venture into the gym because they are worried that regular users will laugh at them. The reality, he says, “is that, generally speaking, other people don’t care. They’re doing their own thing.” Edmonds advises people to push past the discomfort for a few sessions. “I find that if people can just get in for one or two weeks, they soon change their perception of the gym space, and themselves within the gym space. They just need to get in in the first place.”
Find your personal incentive
If you’re naturally inclined to be sedentary, or don’t particularly enjoy working out, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to lace on a pair of trainers and head out for a run. “I would try to encourage that person to find another reason for them to exercise,” says Zahir Akram, personal trainer and founder of Akram Yoga Studio in Addlestone, Surrey. “For me a huge motivation to continue training and get healthier isn’t aesthetics, but because of my son. I like to remind clients that there are people who rely on them and they need them to be strong. If you can’t exercise for yourself, do it for the people who rely on you to be healthy.”
Don’t overdo it
Although it’s tempting to embark on a full-throttle fitness kick when you feel that you’ve been slacking, it’s actually counterproductive. “When I work with clients who are getting back into things, I tell them not to go from doing nothing to being Jet from Gladiator by the end of the week,” says the London-based personal trainer Hannah Lewin. “I know it’s super-tempting when you are in a down phase to amp it up to the max, but it’s not realistic.”
Identify something you enjoy
If you hate running or find yoga boring – don’t do it. “If you start with something you really dislike, it won’t help you get back into anything,” says Lewin. “Finding something you don’t hate is a good place to start, and it will also help build your confidence level. Confidence and motivation go hand in hand, so if you are finding something makes you feel bad, exercise will be even more stressful, and your motivation will decline even further.”
Don’t obsess about the gym
There are many ways to exercise that don’t include gyms. Skating in the park with friends; a dip in the lido; a long walk down the beach: all get the blood circulating, and, more importantly, are enjoyable (providing you don’t fall over on the skates). “You don’t have to think of exercise as going to the gym or for a 5km run,” says Akram. “Just going for a 15-minute walk every day will contribute to health, make your joints feel better, and loosen you up. Lots of people have a mistaken idea of what exercise is. If you go walking regularly, that’s exercise. So if you don’t want to go to a gym, at least get up and move around more.”
Consider measuring your progress
“Incremental gains can be really motivating,” says Edmonds. Fitness apps such as Strava have free-to-use versions, and are great for monitoring your progress. “A lot of people are numbers-based,” says Edmonds, “and being able to write down and see their progress and logging it can be very beneficial for them. Others will be motivated by training with someone else. You have to understand what motivates you.”
Use the resources that are available
We’ve all heard of Couch to 5K, but there are many other brilliant programmes that can help you get into fitness for the first time, or rediscover your motivation. “The FIIT app has some indoor-based workouts that are really good for lots of different levels,” says Lewin. “I also like to recommend Keiser’s The Ride, which is an indoor cycling programme that is much less intimidating than Peloton, and you can use any indoor bicycle.” Nike also does a very good free-running app with plenty of beginner routes. And avail yourself of your local gym’s reopening offer. “Most of the bigger gyms are doing free back-to-the-gym personal training sessions,” says Lewin. “You’ll get 45 minutes for free with a personal trainer. Even if you’re a seasoned gym-goer, it’s really worth it, as it will give you a bit of fire for trying something new.”
Be consistent – and kind to yourself
“It’s better to have a few shorter sessions a week that are manageable than packing in lots of classes, and then dropping out,” says Lewin. “The more consistent you are, the higher your motivation levels will stay. But consistency needs you to be realistic. Otherwise, it gets overwhelming.”
Lewin would encourage people to be kind to themselves. “Compare where you are now with where you were a year ago,” she says. “My God, we have all gone through such a lot since then. And instead of thinking: ‘Oh, I was fitter last year’, think about how this year you’re going to build back better.”You’ve read 2 articles in the last year
We all know the old saying that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step – and the same principle can be applied if you want to declutter your home. The trick is to begin small and take it one step at a time. Here’s how to get started.
Use 20-Minute Time Boxes
Begin by choosing a small area that contains things you do not have any emotional attachments to – just a drawer, a shelf, a small cupboard or something similar.
Set an alarm to go off in 20 minutes and start decluttering. When your alarm sounds, stop and pay attention to how you feel. If you you feel like you’re done for the day, that’s fine. If you feel like doing a bit more, set the timer for another 20 minutes and keep going.
Continue in 20-minute time boxes, pausing after each one to assess if you would like to finish at that point or keep going.
If you have good stamina and find that 20 minutes is too short, set your timer for 30 minutes or an hour. But be sure to stop before you feel too tired. When you end each session feeling good, you will be more likely to return the next day to do more.
The lovely thing about time boxing is that each small area you clear releases energy for you to do more. The stagnant energy that accumulates around clutter causes you to feel tired but when you start clearing it, this frees up stuck energy in your home and also energizes you.
In fact, so many people have experienced this invigorating effect that I once wrote an article Don’t read or listen to this book at bedtime! to warn what can happen if you read my book too late at night.
Doing 20-minute time boxes also means that with each one you complete, you will experience the feel-good dopamine release that accompanies each achievement, which will encourage you to want to do more.
Break Each Area Down Into Small, Manageable Chunks
Don’t make the mistake of dragging everything out of your cupboards or closets, piling it in the centre of the room and trying to sort the whole lot out in one go. I’ve never heard from anyone with more than a trivial amount of clutter that this method worked for them.
Instead, break each area into small, manageable chunks. If you are clutter clearing a cupboard, work shelf by shelf, completing each one before moving on to the next. For chests of drawers or dressers, work drawer by drawer. If you have a whole junk room full of clutter, divide it into chunks and tackle each area one at a time.
If you get easily distracted, spread sheets or blankets over the other stuff in the room to hide it from view, which will enable you to focus completely on the area you are working on.
Use the Box System to Sort Through Your Clutter
The box system doesn’t take long to set up and will help you enormously to sort through your things and make decisions about what stays and what goes. Two boxes that are particularly useful are the Transit box and the Dilemma box.
The Transit Box
The Transit box is used when you are sorting through an area and find things that don’t belong there at all.
Suppose you find a kettle that has somehow ended up at the back of a shelf in your bedroom. You may be tempted to take it to the kitchen, plug it in and see if it works, then perhaps make yourself a cup of tea. And, before you know it you are sitting in the garden reading a book while you drink your cuppa and you’ve forgotten all about your clutter clearing mission.
Using my method, you put the item in the Transit box and carry on. At the end of the session, you go around your home putting the items in the box where they belong, or if you don’t yet have space for them, put them near where they belong.
The Dilemma Box
The Dilemma box is another lovely invention. When you come across something that you can’t decide whether to keep or let go, in the past this may have brought your clutter clearing session to an abrupt standstill. But, if you use a Dilemma box, any items you are not sure about can get put in there, and you can just continue.
At the end of the session, stash the Dilemma box away somewhere and put a reminder on your calendar to check it a few months later. The passage of time will usually bring much more clarity about whether to keep the items or not, especially if you haven’t used any of them in the intervening period.
If you’d like a more radical approach, ask a friend to open the box for you. Anything you can name, you get to keep. If you can’t remember what’s in there, it rather proves the point that you don’t need any of the things, and your friend gets to take them away and dispose of them for you in any way they see fit!
Have you tried any of these methods to help you declutter your home? Which one helped you the most? Which items did you find most difficult to let go of? Please comment below
BY JACQUI HOOK
We all have those days when mustering the motivation to exercise seems like more of a challenge than usual. We just can’t seem to get going and we end up giving ourselves permission to skip the gym or yoga class, or postpone the run or walk.
I don’t have my gym clothes on. I’m too tired. I haven’t eaten. My back has been bothering me. I just washed my hair. It’s raining. It’s getting dark.
The excuses are endless. As a result, we end up feeling guilty about our laziness or regretful about missing an opportunity to do something that would improve our physical, emotional and cognitive health and increase our longevity. To make matters worse, the hour that would have been spent building strength and endurance, or increasing mobility and flexibility is replaced with more time sitting at the computer or lounging on the couch. Instead of burning calories and increasing metabolism, we’re doing just the opposite.
If you really want to know how to motivate yourself to exercise, here are a few tips.
How to Be “Workout Ready”
So, how do we get workout ready? Replace laziness with preparedness.
We prepare for natural disasters and emergencies by keeping a disaster kit in our home and a spare tire in our car. Exercise is equally important to our survival, so it stands to reason to be prepared for it as well!
Here are five surefire ways to increase your chances of working out on any particular day:
Dress for Success
Eliminating the task of having to change into your workout clothes can go a long way toward getting yourself to that yoga class or starting your run.
Put on your athletic wear as early in the day as possible. If you work at home, put on your fitness garb first thing in the morning. If you work or volunteer outside the home, bring your workout clothes with you and dress out before leaving the workplace. Being dressed and ready to go can mean the difference between a sure bet and an unfortunate regret.
Start the Music
Nothing is more motivating for me than hearing the songs from my workout playlist. If you like working out to music, have your earbuds and playlist handy and turn on your music before hitting the gym or Pilates studio. Put on a song that gets you into the workout frame of mind and you will surely get up and go!
Between-meal hunger can be a workout killer. Don’t let your appetite get the best of you. Keep a favorite protein bar and sports drink in your backpack, gym bag or purse, and make a point to fuel up and hydrate. Once you have some nourishment, your body will be revved up for an awesome workout!
Set Your Alarm
Sometimes we can’t seem to pull ourselves away from what we’re doing, especially when at the computer, and the day seems to just slip away. Don’t let time pass you by. Schedule your workout and set your phone alarm to go off 15 or 20 minutes beforehand. This will give you enough time to finish up what you’re doing and get yourself out the door.
Promise a Partner
Invite a friend to work out with you at a specific time of day. Agree to take a fitness class together or go for a walk, hike or run. For extra insurance, have the friend pick you up. This will decrease your chances of a no-show. Exercising with a friend adds a social element to your workout, which is almost always an extra bonus!
Put It All Together
It’s hard to go wrong if you combine all five strategies. Put on your workout clothes as early in the day as possible, turn on some energizing music, power up with a protein bar and a sports drink, set your alarm and invite a friend for good measure.
Being dressed, motivated, nourished, duly reminded, and partnered up will make it easier for you to steamroll through excuses, get your workout in, and feel fantastic!
How do you get motivated to exercise? What motivates you to go for it whether you’re tired or the weather is bad or you’re just not in the mood? Any favorite workout music you’d like to share? Please comment below
Are Money Problems Concerning You? You’re Not Alone!
So Many People Need Good Financial Advice and Don’t Know Where to look!
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- Do you struggle with managing money and your purchases?
- Does the worry of your debt or the idea of going into debt keep you up at night?
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If you answered YES to any of these questions, this course is for you!
The past few years have been tough for everyone financially. Businesses have been reopening and closing constantly and some have even gone out of business. Lots of people have been laid off from their jobs and many people are doing everything they can to get by.
You need to have savings, but what if you don’t? We can show you how you can save in ways you might not have thought about before.
Every single effort you make will add up to a lot more than no effort at all. Sure, there will be sacrifices to get yourself to a secure position, but it can be a fun journey. You will have security and peace of mind by taking action today to change your financial future!
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Over 8 weeks you will be given:
- 8 video lessons which are packed full of information (in easy to understand chunks) and great examples. This means you can see the techniques in action and learn how to apply them for yourself.
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That’s $1000 in value this course gives you, and once you start using the information and techniques, the true value of your results will be enormous
Is this course worth the money?
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Will I have enough time to do this?
If at first you give this priority and you have someone to support you and you work on it in a productive way. Rather than wasting your time worrying about how you’re going to pay off debt and save enough you’ll be facing these tasks head on and will actually combat them. The real question is, how much time will you SAVE by doing this course?
Couldn’t I do this all myself?
Yes, you could go and do all sorts of research into techniques which help you overcome your debt and lack of savings issues but it might take you months to go through the material and then you have to test all the solutions out to see if any of them work. Why spend so much time just to end up in the same place as if you buy this course? This course has proven results and it’s ready to go right now. You’ll get scores on your board within just days of trying it
Well, you can see the course offers lots of value.
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The cost of this course is less than you’re probably expecting.
It’s much less than it should be, considering the value of this course.
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Money and debt consolidation advice anyone can use
SPENDER, IDEALIST, STAR, AVOIDER OR SOMETHING ELSE?
BY KATHLEEN M. REHL
Your money style, whatever it may be, can be helpful, but it can also block your progress. Oftentimes we cling to beliefs about money without even thinking about why we hold them.
They may be based on your money history. Or, if you’re on your own after a divorce or the death of your spouse, that big transition can greatly impact your money style.
Experts, including Olivia Mellan, have defined several money styles or money personality types. Below are some examples of these various styles.
Do You Recognize Any of These Styles in Yourself?
Guardians are always alert and careful with their money issues.
Spenders prioritize pleasure and enjoyment through spending money on “the good life.”
Idealists put the most value on creativity, compassion, social justice, or spiritual growth.
Hoarders seek security and abundance by accumulating more ﬁnancial assets.
Stars spend, invest, or give money away to be recognized or feel classy and increase self-esteem.
Avoiders don’t pay much attention to money, believing or hoping that life will work out for the best; they may feel incompetent or overwhelmed with money tasks.
Caretakers give and lend money to express compassion and generosity.
Empire builders and entrepreneurs thrive on power and innovation to create something of enduring value, which may include their own business.
Amassers like to have lots of money available to spend, save, or invest. They equate money with self-worth and power.
Nesters think that money invested in their homes brings happiness.
Bag ladies believe they don’t have enough money and may be out on the street soon. They feel powerless to do much about their ﬁnancial situation. Many suddenly single women might feel this way at some point, even if only for a short period.
Does Your Money Style Trip You Up?
Sometimes your dominant money style can cause problems. For example, Guardians may prefer ultraconservative investments such as certiﬁcates of deposit and money market funds. This tendency may block their ability to build a diversiﬁed portfolio over time.
For Avoiders, whose husbands handled most of the family ﬁnancial issues, it may feel strange to be in a decision-making role about money when this time arrives.
Some women may be fearful they won’t have enough money and can experience the Bag Lady syndrome. That was definitely me immediately after my husband died more than a decade ago.
I suddenly craved safety and security. Facing an unknown future, I felt insecure and lacked self-confidence. But that unhelpful money style dissolved soon afterward as I stabilized my life and moved forward.
Indeed, simply taking a deep breath and not embarking on a radical action may be the best move after a major life change. I re-evaluated my financial situation, calculated my numbers and knew I was going to be OK.
It’s Really About More Than Your Money
Ultimately, it’s not about the money. Rather, it’s about understanding your money and how you react to it. Recognize your natural inclinations toward spending, saving, giving, and investing, and what’s motivating those habits.
As you get to know yourself better, you can make important changes to create the ﬁnancial life that’s best for you. Have an honest discussion with yourself about your money style.
Are you a saver or a spender? Are you a penny pincher who clips coupons? Do you give too much money to your children? Are you carrying lots of credit card debt?
What’s your money style today? Has your money style changed as you’ve matured? If so, why do you think it’s different now? What’s a positive feature of your money style today? What, if anything, about your money style, may be problematic going forward? Please comment on your money style and how it’s helping or hurting you today. What do you want for the future?
Which door do you dread opening? Is it your clothes closet, the linen closet, the kitchen pantry, or perhaps the one to the back seat of your car?
We all have those places where we stuff, hoard and ignore clutter, and they mock us every time we walk by. We realize, eventually, we must face them, but just can’t find the time, the energy or the willpower. What might help? A clutter buddy!
Last week, while hiking with a dear friend, the conversation turned to the sorry state of our cars, confessing it had been ages since we sifted through the shopping bags, dog leads and whatever else was stacked up back there. Instead of procrastinating any longer, we made a date for the next morning to park our cars side by side in my driveway and get busy.
By the next afternoon, the items that belonged in our vehicles were well organized, the interiors were vacuumed, and the windows washed. We even washed the exteriors. We were so energized by our accomplishments. Having each other’s company and encouragement made all the difference.
We’ve now set our sights on our linen closets!
So, here are a few thoughts about why I think this works so well for us and how to capitalize on this idea, choose your clutter buddy and get your world decluttered and organized.
Be sure you’re very comfortable with whomever you invite to be your Clutter Buddy. My friend and I have been through years of life together, we’ve seen each other through heartbreak, babies, illness and hard times.
So, opening the door to an over crammed linen closet isn’t going to cause any real embarrassment. We’ll still love each other just as much.
No Clutter Shaming Allowed
Even though we laughed at some of the stuff we dug out of our dirty cars, there were no disparaging remarks that would leave hurt feelings. You must trust each other to be kind, no matter what you discover.
You Are Both Sworn to Secrecy
No one else can ever know what lurked in the far reaches of the darkness. The condition of each of your homes, cars and lives stays between you. You’re in this to be supportive and be supported.
Tackle the Easy Stuff First
The cars were nowhere near as daunting as our linen closets, or our clothes closets. Having a win under our belts makes moving to the next challenge easier.
Devote the Day to the Task
Don’t try to shoehorn the job into a few hours in the morning with other plans for the afternoon. You may run out of time and end up shoving it all back in, and feeling quite defeated as a result.
Have a Plan for Your Unwanted Items
Sort into three large garbage bags marked, Keep, Donate, and Discard. Decide where you will donate and be sure to get the items out of the house and to their destination by the end of the day, or at least by the following day. The goal is to see results so you feel satisfied and proud.
Schedule Your Next Project on the High of an Accomplishment
Even if it has to be a month or more into the future, get a date on the calendar to work on the next bastion of clutter. You’ll be more likely to stick with it when you’re feeling good about your progress.
Have a Little Fun
Put on some great music, enjoy some tempting snacks, and perhaps a glass of wine, while you work and enjoy your time together.
Most of all, celebrate your friendship. Savor the company. Be grateful to have a friend in your life who loves you enough to help you make your life more comfortable.
Have you recently started a decluttering project? Did you tackle it yourself or did you choose to invite a clutter buddy? How did it go? Which part of your house did you start with? Please share with us!
Work out why, don’t just work out
Our reasons for beginning to exercise are fundamental to whether we will keep it up, says Michelle Segar, the director of the University of Michigan’s Sport, Health and Activity Research and Policy Center. Too often “society promotes exercise and fitness by hooking into short-term motivation, guilt and shame”. There is some evidence, she says, that younger people will go to the gym more if their reasons are appearance-based, but past our early 20s that doesn’t fuel motivation much. Nor do vague or future goals help (“I want to get fit, I want to lose weight”). We will probably be more successful if we focus on immediate positive feelings such as stress reduction, increased energy and making friends. “The only way we are going to prioritise time to exercise is if it is going to deliver some kind of benefit that is truly compelling and valuable to our daily life,” she says.
Get off to a slow start
The danger of the typical New Year resolutions approach to fitness, says personal trainer Matt Roberts, is that people “jump in and do everything – change their diet, start exercising, stop drinking and smoking – and within a couple of weeks they have lost motivation or got too tired. If you haven’t been in shape, it’s going to take time.” He likes the trend towards high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and recommends people include some, “but to do that every day will be too intense for most people”. Do it once (or twice, at most) a week, combined with slow jogs, swimming and fast walks – plus two or three rest days, at least for the first month. “That will give someone a chance of having recovery sessions alongside the high-intensity workouts.”
You don’t have to love it
It is helpful not to try to make yourself do things you actively dislike, says Segar, who advises thinking about the types of activities – roller-skating? Bike riding? – you liked as a child. But don’t feel you have to really enjoy exercise. “A lot of people who stick with exercise say: ‘I feel better when I do it.’” There are elements that probably will be enjoyable, though, such as the physical response of your body and the feeling of getting stronger, and the pleasure that comes with mastering a sport.
“For many people, the obvious choices aren’t necessarily the ones they would enjoy,” says Sniehotta, who is also the director of the National Institute for Health Research’s policy research unit in behavioural science, “so they need to look outside them. It might be different sports or simple things, like sharing activities with other people.”
Be kind to yourself
Individual motivation – or the lack of it – is only part of the bigger picture. Money, parenting demands or even where you live can all be stumbling blocks, says Sniehotta. Tiredness, depression, work stress or ill family members can all have an impact on physical activity. “If there is a lot of support around you, you will find it easier to maintain physical activity,” he points out. “If you live in certain parts of the country, you might be more comfortable doing outdoor physical activity than in others. To conclude that people who don’t get enough physical activity are just lacking motivation is problematic.”
Segar suggests being realistic. “Skip the ideal of going to the gym five days a week. Be really analytical about work and family-related needs when starting, because if you set yourself up with goals that are too big, you will fail and you’ll feel like a failure. At the end of a week, I always ask my clients to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Maybe fitting in a walk at lunch worked, but you didn’t have the energy after work to do it.”
Don’t rely on willpower
“If you need willpower to do something, you don’t really want to do it,” says Segar. Instead, think about exercise “in terms of why we’re doing it and what we want to get from physical activity. How can I benefit today? How do I feel when I move? How do I feel after I move?”
Find a purpose
Anything that allows you to exercise while ticking off other goals will help, says Sniehotta. “It provides you with more gratification, and the costs of not doing it are higher.” For instance, walking or cycling to work, or making friends by joining a sports club, or running with a friend. “Or the goal is to spend more time in the countryside, and running helps you do that.”
Try to combine physical activity with something else. “For example, in my workplace I don’t use the lift and I try to reduce email, so when it’s possible I walk over to people,” says Sniehotta. “Over the course of the day, I walk to work, I move a lot in the building and I actually get about 15,000 steps. Try to make physical activity hit as many meaningful targets as you can.”
Make it a habit
When you take up running, it can be tiring just getting out of the door – where are your shoes? Your water bottle? What route are you going to take? After a while, points out Sniehottta, “there are no longer costs associated with the activity”. Doing physical activity regularly and planning for it “helps make it a sustainable behaviour”. Missing sessions doesn’t.
Plan and prioritise
What if you don’t have time to exercise? For many people, working two jobs or with extensive caring responsibilities, this can undoubtedly be true, but is it genuinely true for you? It might be a question of priorities, says Sniehotta. He recommends planning: “The first is ‘action planning’, where you plan where, when and how you are going to do it and you try to stick with it.” The second type is ‘coping planning’: “anticipating things that can get in the way and putting a plan into place for how to get motivated again”. Segar adds: “Most people don’t give themselves permission to prioritise self-care behaviours like exercise.”
Keep it short and sharp
A workout doesn’t have to take an hour, says Roberts. “A well-structured 15-minute workout can be really effective if you really are pressed for time.” As for regular, longer sessions, he says: “You tell yourself you’re going to make time and change your schedule accordingly.”
If it doesn’t work, change it
It rains for a week, you don’t go running once and then you feel guilty. “It’s a combination of emotion and lack of confidence that brings us to the point where, if people fail a few times, they think it’s a failure of the entire project,” says Sniehotta. Remember it’s possible to get back on track.
If previous exercise regimes haven’t worked, don’t beat yourself up or try them again – just try something else, he says. “We tend to be in the mindset that if you can’t lose weight, you blame it on yourself. However, if you could change that to: ‘This method doesn’t work for me, let’s try something different,’ there is a chance it will be better for you and it prevents you having to blame yourself, which is not helpful.”
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Talk to someone
Suffering alone adds to the pressure. Share the situation with friends or family if you can. Even if they can’t help, just talking to someone could help you see the problem with a clearer focus. You can also get free and independent money advice from hundreds of debt charities and organisation across the country. Find free and impartial money advice near you
Know exactly what the situation is
If you’ve lost track of your spending, it’s even harder to find a way out. Though it could be scary to see the true extent of your problems, a simple budget will clearly show you how much you spend and where. There could be some simple ‘quick wins’, where you can instantly find places to save or cut back.
Take it one at a time
If there are so many bills you feel overwhelmed by what to do next, stop. Take one concern at a time. You don’t need to solve it, but you might be able to make it less of a worry. Then move on to the next, and so on until you feel able to look at the bigger picture. Focus first on the priority expenses such as rent, Council Tax and energy.
Make some simple changes
Though some of your money worries might be big, you might ease the pressure with some small and simple changes. You could free up extra cash by switching your energy company or changing to a discount supermarket. You might be able to raise some money by selling things on eBay or at boot fairs.