How little projects can add up to BIG relief!

Last month, I found myself tackling lots of little clutter clearing projects.  And I have to say it felt good to complete lots of little projects that didn’t take a lot of time & energy but together added up to relief.  

First I cleared out the file box that lives under our main floor desk.  Out went the old school papers from last year, the summer community ed. brochure & other summer activity papers.  

The next week, I sorted & cleared the lightbulb collection that had been hidden in a cabinet & was the source of grumbling for years!  (Check out my instagram to hear about that project.)

These lightbulbs had been driving me crazy for years!

Then I cleaned & cleared out the washtub & extra laundry supplies that were waiting to be recycled.  And after that it was on to the mini fridge in the garage.

These projects were not that important or urgent.  They had been hanging around waiting for attention for quite a while.  But September offered the energy of fresh starts/restarts and I took advantage of it.

I might actually have been “procrasticlearing,”  This is a term that Gretchen Rubin describes on the Happier Podcast #175 (you can read or listen here).  It happens when you use clutter clearing as a way to postpone work.  And lots of people do it! 

If you ever find yourself rearranging your desk or testing pens instead of working, then you may be procrasticlearing.  The key is to recognize if you are using this project to avoid doing the actual work that needs attention or if this is something that you have been meaning to do for a while & will lead to better work & more efficiency? 

Gretchen says to ask yourself if this is  “useful preparation or unhelpful procrastination?”  

Looking back, I think I was doing a combination of both.  At times I avoided or delayed work when I dug into the project & other times, it felt purposeful & led to a clear head & greater focus when I moved on to the next thing.  Either way, those little projects created relief in areas of the house that normally were passed by.  And it felt good to prep spaces before the big shift to indoor living.

YOUR TURN…

I’d love to know if you ever find yourself “procrasticlearing” or if this concept seems totally foreign to you.  Comment below & it will go right into my inbox.

NEXT STEPS…

If you have longed to clear clutter & feel this relief but don’t know how to start then here’s one idea:

  1. Grab a piece of paper
  2. Enter one space in your room
  3. List all of the things that have been bugging you
  4. Pick one project on the list & break it down into some bite-sized chunks.
  5. Set a timer and work at that small chunk for 30 mins.
  6. The next time you feel the urge to clear, check your list & chip away at another small chunk.

Give it a try.  If you get the urge, go with it!  You might be surprised how much you can get done in a short time & how good you feel after.

What does INTENTION have to do with it?

When I first started this business, I used the word INTENTION a lot!

It was the  first question that I asked a client to consider – “What is your intention for this space?”

This was the guidepost to start our process.

And I believed in the value of this question, but somewhere along the way I started to shift my question.  Consciously or unconsciously I moved to a word that might be easier to grasp – goal.

We hear about goals all the time.  Goal weight.  Marketing goal.  Lifelong goal.  We can be a very goal-oriented society.

And don’t get me wrong, I know that goals are great- the best goals are measurable, action-oriented, achievable, manageable- all good things.  Goals offer us a way to note progress and keep us moving ahead, but I know that in this work we have to think about more than checking things off, finishing a project, or taking a great “after” picture.

I also understand that we can’t set achievable goals until we get in touch with the reasons behind them.  And that is why we need intention.  Because when I ask that question- what is your intention?  I really mean how do you want the space to feel?  And more importantly how do YOU want to feel in the space?

Intention brings the deep desires we hold for our lives.  It might not seem quantifiable or identifiable to people from the outside, but it is important.

It is the reason to begin.  It is the feeling you are hoping to achieve by doing the work.  It is the motivator and the driver when it feels hard to make tough choices or shift old patterns.

This summer our family has been spending hours on the backyard deck that we finished last fall.

When we started the project we spent time thinking about how we wanted to feel in the space.  We imagined the peace and rejuvenation that comes from sitting by a campfire or on a deck overlooking a lake.  We wanted a space that could allow time to slow down.

We took that desire into the design &  creation phase & now that intention is realized when we step out of our back door.  The space asks us to de-stress, connect, linger, and enjoy the outdoors.  And I’m so grateful we took the time to get clear on our intention.

So, be prepared to hear this question, “what is your intention for the space?”  It might feel foreign to you.  It might even take a little time for you to answer, but I know that when we get in touch with the desires underneath the surface, then we are ready for powerful changes that last. 

And that is what I am all about!

Let’s create changes that bring light and ease & free you up to spend energy and time on the things that matter most to you!

Ready to set your intention and get your project moving ahead?  Contact me today.

August is a great time to deal with kid art, here’s why!

I am so grateful for the creativity that abounds at both of the schools that my kids attend!  I mean the things that they are creating are AMAZING!  BUT…. all that amazing artwork ends up coming home at the end of the year & becomes a “to-do” that I tend to put off.

My daughter is headed to high school this year so you would think that by now I would have a streamlined system in place, but every year, we end up with a nice pile that sits for a couple of months.  I mean, shouldn’t “I” be on top of this?  Have a plan?  Be clearing the clutter?

But today, as I sat down to write about this topic, I realized that I actually do have a plan.  There is a process and it has been working for years.

Here it is!

  1. Kids bring home the art.
  2. We ooh and ahhh over it.
  3. We display some of the favorites right away (on the mantle or the piano or on a shelf in our TV room).
  4. The rest sits in a pile (in a place that doesn’t get in our way).
  5. In August we curate the pile, take pictures, and make decisions about what stays and what goes.

That’s the plan!

It doesn’t seem too strategic or systematic, heck, I didn’t even call it a plan, but it works for us.

The “plan” offers the kids a couple of months in between the time of creation and when we have to make decisions.  It gives them a chance to step back and be a little more discerning as they evaluate with fresh eyes whether it is their best or favorite work.  And doing this project in August feels natural since we are closing up summer & preparing for a new school year.  It is a natural restart point.

So sometimes you might feel like you don’t have a plan or aren’t doing things the “right” way, when actually you are doing just fine.  Give yourself a pat on the back if you are chipping away when you can or have made slow progress on a goal that you set.

Let’s give ourselves credit for all the great stuff we do.

Your Turn…

Ready to curate but have a hard time trashing or recycling any work that was created by your child?  Try this tip  http://katebuckmeier.com/tip-tuesday-take-photos-of-kid-artwork/

If you have been looking for a plan to dig into kid art at your house, see if the “plan” above could work for you or be in touch.  We can find a solution that honors your child’s creativity and doesn’t involve a ton of work to maintain.

Or contact me today to learn more about the small group class that I offer on decluttering kid memorabilia/artwork.  It is a great way to jumpstart your project and get you moving ahead with a plan!

How to Curate a Tub of all that Wedding “Stuff”

Finding a way to pare down and store memorabilia isn’t always easy.  It can feel daunting to sift through a tub or box of papers, tickets, cards, invitations, and all sorts of what-nots that you have been storing for years.  And there can be some embarrassment or shame over the fact that you kept some of the stuff in the first place!

I mean, why was I storing 17 year-old faded receipts from the cake decorator!??!?!  Ugh!

But… I have been determined to fight the shame & embarrassment and resolved to keep chipping away at the tubs taking up too much space in our storage area.   Along the way I have been doing a little research and conducting my own experiments to find out how we can all let go with a little more ease.

Here’s a recap of my sessions with a tub of “stuff” that we had been storing from our wedding and a product called the Wedding Edition Keepsake Box from Savor.

I decided to buy this product from Savor after thinking about the amount of space that I wanted this category of stuff to take up in our home.  Savor’s box with the folders & the little pull-out drawers felt like it would offer enough options to store a variety of different items and I liked the ease of having everything ready for me when I sat down to work on the project.

Disclaimer:  You do not need to buy a fancy product to get organized.  There are a million ways to store your things with items you already have in your house (shoeboxes, file folders, binders, paperclips, ziploc bags, etc.).  I chose this product because I wanted to conduct a little experiment to find out if a tool like this can make the organizing process easier.

I pulled the tub down from the shelf & began my first sort.  This meant I was only looking for things that I knew were a definite “NO.”  So I was making a “TO KEEP” & a “NOT TO KEEP” pile.  Remember this was my first sort.  I wasn’t trying to organize.  It was all about decluttering.  Making decisions & letting go of the extras.

I had some good laughs as I pulled out a big white wedding binder with color-coded folders that held all of the pamphlets, brochures & magazine pages that we had compiled during the dreaming & planning phase.  It was fun to remember all of the time spent in the planning phase, but it was easy to let go of most of the stuff in the binder because it didn’t hold specific memories- other than how excited & geeked-out we were about planning our “big day!”

.

After that first sort, I took out the recycling & trash that I had created & put the “TO KEEP” stuff back in the bin until I could carve out time for the next step.

The funny thing about sentimental things is that we often need a little time/distance from the event or the memory to allow the decisions to come easier.  Time can create some perspective about what really feels important & what doesn’t speak to your heart any more.  So, it really doesn’t surprise me that 17 years had to pass before I felt I could let go with more ease.

When I dug in again, I gave myself a bigger chunk of time and some room to spread out.  This time I was thinking about the story that I wanted to tell with the things that I planned to save.  It was like going on a treasure hunt.  Finding the best items to tell our story.

"What story will these items tell about our wedding & our marriage?"

I let go of receipts & blurred photos.  I pulled out a few pages from a barely-used wedding planner and let go of the rest.  I let go of any duplicates & all of those chicken-scratched notes of to-dos.

And then it was time to start organizing what was left.  I started dividing things into categories: engagement, wedding showers, ceremony, reception…

Savor helped me out with this by providing pre-labeled stickers & folders that I could slide everything into.  I made a few categories of my own using their blank labels.

The items that didn’t fit into folders found homes in the little storage boxes & those were offered a few labels too.

The whole process involved some time & diligence, but I was able to pare down from a huge plastic tub into an attractive box that can fit on a bookshelf & could be looked at on our anniversary or any time we want to take a trip back in time.

This project had been waiting patiently for 17 years to get some attention and I’m so glad it did.   Pulling out the tub offered a chance for my husband and I to reminisce about that very special time in our life.  And I think the items that we saved can now tell their own story of how we wanted to start our marriage.

Your Turn…

When I offer a talk on this subject, I remind people that it will probably take a few sorts before you really get down to the amount that you really want to keep.  That means starting out with the expectation that you will do a first sort, or first pass, to pull out the “junk” or items that you had forgotten were being stored & feel no emotional pull toward.  Then you can come back and do another sort with the items that are left.  At this point you can be more discerning as you ask yourself questions about whether this item still offers a good memory and tells a story you’d like to remember or share.

If you are interested in more of Savor’s products you can find them here.

And I’d love to hear your thoughts on sentimental projects.  Have you recently tackled a project that involved sifting & sorting to curate your special memories?  Or are you hoping to get started on a project, but don’t know how or where to begin?  Tell me about it!

 

 

What to Do When Your Collection has Become a Burden

As I peered up at the tubs of photo albums, this phrase ran through my mind. 

“When everything is important, nothing is important.” – Peter walsh

We have been storing photo albums and loose pics on a high shelf in our storage room for years.  They have been been traveling in their box as we moved from house to house- rarely touched or opened.  Some albums hold memories from childhood.  Some capture the behind-the-scenes of our wedding.  Others document the growth of our family.  All seem to hold nostalgia. 

At one time the albums were displayed and occasionally thumbed through, but as the years passed, the space was needed for items of greater necessity and the albums were gathered up in tubs & moved to the basement. 

And now as I look at these tubs & boxes of photos, I start to ask myself some questions:

  • Are these albums a blessing or a burden?
  • What will happen to these photos in 10 or 30 years? 50 years? 
  • What story will all of these pictures tell?

As I think about these photos all tucked away & forgotten, I can feel a sadness.  I know this collection is too big to reasonably enjoy.  They aren’t organized to tell a story that will make sense in 50 years when the next generation is stuck with them.  They aren’t labeled and many aren’t even the best of the best. 

And while thinking of all of that can bring up some sadness, disappointment, and overwhelm,  I also sense a feeling of exhilaration.  Paring down this collection to a size that is easy to manage & enjoy with our family, feels refreshing!  It feels worth the effort & exciting to create something that could tell the story of our life.  A collection that wouldn’t take up as much physical space, but would hold a more prominent place in our home because of it’s ease & simplicity.

Next Steps…

If you have a collection that has become a burden, then these tips might ease the overwhelm & decrease the weight of it.

Be a curator.  In the case of photos, I will pick the ones that truly mean something & have people in them.  With collectibles or other special items, you can do the same – pick the ones that really make you smile or touch your heart.

Shift perspective.  It can be hard to let go of things that have been with us for a long time; things that were acquired with love, took energy to collect and create, or seem to hold special memories.  But paring down doesn’t mean losing the memory and doesn’t discount all that went into gathering this collection.  Shift your perspective to gratitude for the enjoyment you received as you created this collection & lightness in knowing that the memory isn’t held in the item, it is held inside of you.  

Capture the stories in words.  As I sort & pare down the photos I know there will be a lot of reminiscing.  This is a great time to dictate, journal, or jot notes about the stories that surround the items & the memories attached to them.  Find the simplest method to make this happen – maybe with sticky notes, a notebook labeled “special memories,” or by dictating the story into a smartphone.  These stories can offer your loved ones an understanding of how these items or experiences made you YOU.

Share your collection.  As I dig into the collection, there will some photos of family or friends that might be worth passing on or sharing in a fun way.  I imagine taking a pic of a photo & texting it to brighten someone’s day.   Or start asking yourself if there someone in your circle that would appreciate your collection as much as you did?   If there is a  family member that took an interest, has a similar collection, or enjoys reminiscing as much as you, then share some of the joy.  (Remember to ask before you pass on physical items.) 

Use a service to lighten the load.  To pare down our photo albums, I am looking to a few services that have the tools readily available to support my goals.  Look for professionals, apps, software, or products that were created to manage your specific collection.  Then let these services decrease the overwhelm & enable your vision to become a reality in less time & with fewer headaches.

Let the decisions come when you are ready.  I know that as I begin to sort through my collection of albums there will be some photos that I won’t be able to part with quite yet.  I’m giving myself permission to take time with those tougher decisions.  When you are feel unsure or need more time around a decision, let it be okay.  Label & store those items for now.  AND then set a date on your calendar to check in and determine if your feelings have changed & you are ready to send them on.

Have you reached the tipping point?

As with anything you decide to collect- photos, nicknacks, hats, shoes, china- there comes a tipping point.  A point where you ask yourself how much is enough?  The tipping point between having just enough to use & manage in your space vs. it all becoming too much to handle.  A point where you can enjoy each item & their presence vs. collecting such an abundance of things that you begin to forget what you have. 

If you can notice & catch yourself as you near that tipping point, then the collection can be a blessing.  You will slow down the collecting, decide you have enough and enjoy what you have, or become very picky when faced with the idea of adding to the collection. 

But if you aren’t conscious as you collect, it can quickly become a burden.  Spilling over.  Taking up too much space & feeling hard to manage.  At this point, decisions can feel overwhelming.

If you have a collection that has passed the tipping point & you long to pare down & preserve it in a way that’s meaningful, then be in touch.  Together we can create a plan that fits your collection & intention.

 

Stay Connected!

Stay connected with all the happenings going on at Kate: Declutter & Redesign by signing-up for my twice monthly newsletter AND receive my FREE DECLUTTER TIP SHEET as a thank you!  It’s the cheatsheet that will get  you set up for success as you tackle any decluttering project!

SIGN UP