Double Take Organizing

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A collection of memories

When I was little I always knew I enjoyed writing. Like an artist that never entirely feels like what they do is work and questions why they should charge so much. Writing has never felt like work. It has only ever felt like bliss. It is only natural then that during the toughest time in my life I would turn to writing to release the cacophony of emotions inside me. I have always been able to explain myself better with words on a page than words spoken from my mouth.

The other night I sat in the living room of my parent’s house for what is likely the last time that it would be “their” house. Following that evening the stuff that made up their life was to be moved, sold, and disposed of and I realized with startling clarity why it has been so hard for the clients I have worked with over the last four years that have lost a loved one.

First of all, everywhere I look there is a memory. The time I went to an auction house with my father and he purchased the painting that now hangs in the dining room. The time my husband and father were working on the floor and a giant spider crawled out of the vent. The chair my mom would always sit on and talk to my Dad and read the paper. The table my father would sit at for hours on end and read and do Sudoku puzzles. The shag rug my mom and I purchased on a whim at Home Sense. The bar stools and coffee table that they went searching for on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The picture they brought back from up north on a vacation with both their mothers.

Memories absolutely everywhere and the need to hold onto their stuff not because you need it but because each item triggers those memories and you remember. Will you still remember without the item? Maybe yes, maybe no but letting go of those things is like letting go of a piece of them. I am a practical person and a realistic person. I know these items can’t bring my parents back but the heart doesn’t care. It simply doesn’t let you make rational decisions when you are grieving. I want to hold so tightly to each item to keep them alive in my mind for just a little while longer. When you are on the outside looking in you simply can’t fathom what these items mean to someone. I have always had compassion for all my clients but I never truly understood. Not until now.

Some may tell you differently but for myself, it is the quiet of the night that is the hardest. The day is busy with work, kids, going here, going there and the daily things that need to get done no matter what the situation. It is when the house is still and my husband has peacefully passed on to dreamland that I find myself awake, the ticking of the clock a soft sound in the background. There is a gnawing inside your heart and I am here to tell you that heart ache is not simply a term. It does, in fact, feel like your heart aches. The only lessening of the heart ache is time. Each day that passes. A wise lady I know told me you can’t go around the pain you have to go through it. The truth has never been more difficult.

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The other day I saw a blue heron. The blue heron is a beautiful bird that has a large body and two very skinny legs and yet it can stand and soar across the sky. I am told it symbolizes standing on your own two feet. I hope in time I can feel that strength and that I can be standing and soaring just like the blue heron does. But for now, here I sit a collection of memories, each one wearing down my mind at a late hour of the night.

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How to get focus when life gets hectic 

Some days even I feel scattered inside. No really, it’s the truth! I have so many things on the go that it’s like a highway in there and the cars are all speeding a million miles an hour in opposite directions. 

But here’s the good news! Since I have figured out what works for me and I have SYSTEMS in place I can make it through the hectic moments and allow myself to refocus. 
One of the biggest things for me is self talk. Rather than telling myself I can’t do something I will often tell myself, “Okay Laura, you can do this. Finish this task and then move on to the next on your list.” And so on and so forth. 

How often do we simply just get in our own way? Too much. 

Another thing that helps me focus is my to-do list. I’ve yet to come across any organizer who does not fill lists upon lists and schedule out their days and months but it really does work.

I would also add that sometimes a break, even a short one can help you get back on track. Let your mind rest a minute or two and do something unrelated and then go back to it. We weren’t meant to stare at screens all day nor can we be ON all the time. We all need time to relax. The trick is knowing when to. 

Lastly, don’t make things too complicated. Think simple steps. The less steps the better in fact. If you are trying to accomplish something with lots of steps, break it down into one or two at a time. Breath deep and go at your own pace. Time will go by no matter what but if you get things done right you will save headaches later on. As my grandma used to say, “Haste makes waste.” 

Happy Organizing!

Laura


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Six financial changes that will help organize and change your life

Today I am thrilled to post an article that is  absolutely worth reading! This article comes from our guest blogger, Sherry Corbitt. Sherry is a fantastic Mortgage Agent and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. I would highly recommend her for all your mortgage needs.

Do you have a goal to be more in control of your financing in 2017? Here are some strategies that can help:

1. Kill high-interest debt. If you’re carrying large credit card balances or other high-interest debt and have enough home equity, you may be able to consolidate that debt into one low-rate mortgage. You’ll improve your cash flow, and simplify your life with one easy payment. Best of all, you can pay down your debt faster and save thousands in interest. No more running up credit cards and you’re golden. TIP: http://www.MNBA.ca has a credit card that is 0% interest on transferable balances for 12 months. This is only on transfers so don’t plan it to use for new purchases but to get away from the high interest cards you currently have.

 
2. Boost your credit rating. You can improve your rating pretty quickly with a few smart moves. Always pay your bills on time. Never let your credit card balance go past the 50% mark, i.e. if you have a $5,000 card, it should never go past $2,500. That goes for any lines of credit, too. And don’t apply for store cards when you’re asked at check-out. The better your credit rating, the better the rates you can negotiate on your next mortgage.

 
3. Step up your payments. If you are paying your mortgage monthly, consider changing to accelerated bi-weekly or weekly, increasing your payment amount, and putting a lump sum such as tax refund money on your mortgage principal. You can save significant interest over the life of your mortgage. Even small amounts add up.

 
4. Renovate, don’t relocate. Feeling like it’s time to trade up? Consider this: the right renovation might be all it takes to turn the house you’re in, into the home of your dreams. It is almost always less expensive to renovate than to relocate! I have some fantastic renovation financing options to help you improve the quality of your life while increasing the value of your home.

 
5. Choose low-interest debt. According to a recent Mortgage Professionals Canada survey, in 2016, almost 10% of homeowners had enough home equity and turned to their mortgage for low-cost financing. The average equity take out was $47,600, which was used for renovations (31%), debt consolidation (28%), investments including second homes and rental properties (22%), and purchases or education (9%).

 
6. Do NOT sleepwalk through your mortgage renewal. Be sure to get in touch when you get a renewal notice. Your renewal is your golden moment to save thousands. I can help make sure you get the best possible deal!

 
If you’re feeling financially overwhelmed, or if there is a new purchase, refinance, or renewal in your financial future, get in touch so I can help make sure you get where you want to go.

 

Having a plan in place will have you get to your goals faster and with more clarity.

“Providing solutions, not just rates.”

Sherry Corbitt, Mortgage Agent and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst
http://www.mortgagesindurham.com


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Meal planning for a mood eater

I don’t know about you but I’m a mood eater. I very much pick my meals based on what I feel like eating that day. As an organized person this is definitely at odds with how I like to live day by day. In order to curb this problem I have devised a way to plan my meals but still eat what I feel like.

It looks something like this:

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On the weekend I go shopping for what I need for the week. If you are in a rush be sure to check out the grocery pick up options they now have available at Walmart and Superstore.

Then on Monday morning I simply just choose which meal I want to eat that day out of the seven days. So for instance, if I feel like pizza on Monday I will cook that. As long as there are seven suppers planned out, the days that they are eaten is up to you.

A few more things I do to make meal planning easier is to:

  • Have staples in the house like pasta, rice, sauces for cooking
  • I also do a meat order for the year which supplies me with all my beef, pork, chicken and fish. This means that I am only buying dairy, fruits and vegetables and other odds and ends at the grocery store.
  • Lastly, I also try to do a few bulk cooking days a year to have easy freezer meals which save on my time, are healthier options and also save money! A great choice all around.

If you would like to use my, “What’s For Dinner” meal planner you can get it free on my website here.

Happy Organizing!

Laura


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What I’ve learned as a professional organizer

When I started my business over three years ago I never imagined the journey I would travel. This has been the most challenging but worthwhile venture I have ever undertaken. I can honestly say the teacher has become the student on many occasions. Here are a few things I’ve learned.

1) Everyone has a bin, drawer, closet that needs organization. In a perfect world we would have 48 hours a day to do everything we need to do. That just isn’t the case. Everyone can be more organized. Myself included.

2) Time management is an important component of getting and staying organized. It’s not enough for me to come over and organize your house. Systems need to be put in place to keep that organization working. Like a bicycle with a chain, you need to oil it to keep the wheels turning smoothly.

3) Sometimes we just need someone to get the ball rolling for us. Motivation is a huge component of what I do and by far this is the most gratifying. I love hearing from clients who tell me, “After you came over I did my whole basement I was so motivated.” Yes, this means less business for me but it’s a life changing moment for my client and hopefully this leads them to a more organized future with less stress. 

4) Often people just aren’t ready. If you are during a time of transition you may  think now is the perfect time to get organized but maybe not. It’s a journey not a destination. Much like getting in shape, its a huge lifestyle change and an even greater change for those who have been unorganized their whole life. 

5) Organizing does not come easily to a majority of people. If you know someone who is unorganized please try to be more helpful and less judgemental. Sometimes it’s really not as easy as just throwing things out. Do this and they will thank you for it.

Happy Organizing!

Laura

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One thing you can do today to get organized

January is coming to a close and now is a perfect time to reflect on how things are going since the beginning of the year. I personally am not a fan of new years resolutions because I feel it sets people up for failure. I much prefer daily goals that add up to long term successes and that brings me to what you need to do today!

Grab a calendar and jot down one thing everyday from now until the end of the year that is going to get you to your end goal. For example, say you have a closet that is weighing on you, literally and figuratively, grab one item out of your closet that you never wear and put it in a box marked donations. Keep the calendar and donation box somewhere in sight to visually remind you of your goals.

  
Or perhaps you have a junk drawer that is out of control. Dump everything out of the drawer and only add the things back in the drawer that you use all the time. Keep the rest aside and if you don’t end up using them, store elsewhere or add them to that box marked donations.

I like using a calendar for this activity but a planner will also work, as will a list of daily goals that you cross off as you do them. Whatever works best for you. I do realize it will take awhile to write all of this down but if you do this one thing today, I guarantee you will see results! As German writer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “What is not started today is never finished tomorrow.”

Happy Organizing!

Laura


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Five reasons to stay organized during the sunny months

Once the warmer weather returns, I have found that the last thing people want to do is organize. And I can hardly blame you. But here are five reasons why you should try to keep your home and life organized over the next few months.

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1) You will be less stressed – This is an amazing side effect of being organized. The more organized you are the less anxiety you have. Case in point, the last thing you want to worry about before a vacation is that your passport is up to date, or that your going to be returning to your job and everything is going to be a disaster because you didn’t get yourself organized before you left. Perhaps you will be stressing about finding a bathing suit two days before you leave. And even if you aren’t going on vacation, day trips are way easier when you know exactly where your sunscreen/hats/other summer accessories are and you have mapped out the route before leaving.

2) You can actually find things – “I know I have a battery for this flashlight somewhere….” This is often a common phrase changing out the item mentioned for whatever it is you are looking for. If it has a specific spot you will never be left searching throughout the house for it. According to a poll done by an Australian newspaper, the average person spends 10 minutes a day looking for things and a total of 153 days looking for things over our lifetime.

3) You WILL save money – Since you know exactly where things are you won’t be rushing out to buy a new one when you already own one. Add to that the cost of fuel if you are driving. If you sell things you no longer want or need you could even come out with more money than you started with!

4) You will have more time to enjoy the outdoors – You got right on top of spring cleaning and now your garage is perfectly organized. When you want to go for a bike ride you won’t have to dig through ten things in the garage just to get to your bike, you can just grab it and go. Cleaning up now only takes 10 minutes instead of 45 because every item has a spot to go to and you aren’t spending time moving one pile from one spot to another. Less time cleaning equals more time for the fun outdoor stuff.

5) Routines are good for you (and your kids) – The first thing to go in the warmer months is routines, especially if you have kids. Bedtimes are later because it’s sunny out. Your on vacation so you don’t work out. You eat food at different times. All of these things are hard on your body and make it hard to stay organized. Now, you might say you don’t have routines but even people who say they don’t have a routine generally do things around the same time each day. Keeping with a routine, even if its a modified one will make it easier on you. And at the end of the day that is what I love most about doing what I do. Making life easier for people. Why do things the hard way?

Happy organizing!

Laura