Anxiety and an Ordered Space

Neat desk looking out a window, with monitors and shelves (image: Vadim Sherbakov)

I do not usually suffer with anxiety – and have always been blessed to feel that I control my circumstances and environment.  That said, during this year with the constant “on again, off again” restrictions, limitations and lockdowns, I have found my anxiety levels increasing and when my environment is cluttered or disorganised, I find this increases my sense of unease.

Neat desk looking out a window, with monitors and shelves (image: Vadim Sherbakov)
A tidy and organised desk space really helps with anxiety (image: Vadim Sherbakov)

To combat these feelings, I have found that having a routine and an organised space (where I can easily access whatever I need) has helped me.  Together with making sure I am getting exercise and watching my diet – I feel better able to deal with the rest of the uncertainty that is the overriding theme for 2020.

Some of the routines I have found help me include:

  1. Making my bed each morning (so that when I come to snuggle up at night my room is tidy.)
  2. Putting washing in the hamper and ironing away so that there are no odd piles of clothes lurking.
  3. Doing dishes after each meal – there is something very satisfying about tidy kitchen surfaces.
  4. Preparing meals ahead of time (on a weekend) – less to think about during the week, especially if things have been a little busy.
  5. Unsubscribing from newsletters and communications that no longer add value to my days.  Because electronic communications do not take up physical space, it is often easy to overlook them and they can eventually weigh you down with their sheer volume.
  6. Making sure my day has a definite start and end point – so that I am not tempted into being “on” at all hours.  This sets boundaries between work and relaxation and allows me to fully relax after work.

What are the routines or tips that have helped you through this crazy year?

What I have learned about being organised when changing countries (more than once!)

Buddha head in packing material

For better or worse, I decided during 2019 to pack up my life and return to live in the United Kingdom (which I had done before).  As you can imagine – never an easy choice, but as my children were grown and engaged or married, I felt it was now “Mom’s Time” to follow her dreams.  All this was before Covid-19 and before it was even on anyone’s radar.

I decluttered, donated, disposed of, and packed what was left over a period of about 4 months.  Being a professional organiser (and having moved globally no less than 4 times) you would think I would have this down pat!  But as I am only human, I still made mistakes, left things out of the packing, and had to send a couple of extra boxes (with the precious family genealogy records) as an afterthought!

Here are my main takeout’s from having packed up and moved (in a global pandemic):

  1. You will pack too much stuff – it is human nature to become attached to our possessions.  I still do not have a permanent home after 10 months of living here and I am still living primarily with what I brought in my suitcases!
  2. Do your research – often the spaces in your new home country will be quite different from what you are used to – South African or American furniture does not fit comfortably in European or UK homes.  Unless it is a family heirloom, or you honestly cannot live without it – leave it behind and buy what works in your new home.
  3. Take the time to be clear on what you will need initially and what you can wait for – you may need the summer clothes before you need the crock pot!  And honestly research the prices of items in your new home country – often it is cheaper to buy new (which also then means guarantees/warrantees) than it is to bring items with you.
  4. Make sure you can easily access all the critical records you may need – education certificates, birth, and marriage certificates etc.  And have digital backups of everything.  In this case – the Cloud is your friend.
  5. Take the time to review your Curriculum Vitae or resume and make sure they are in a format that works for your new country.  There are always subtle differences, and it may be worth your while to have it reviewed by a local professional to help with your job search (if you are not going to a job directly).
  6. Look for and join local area Facebook groups – there is a wealth of information available to you in these groups, including recommendations for trades people, great places to visit and generally helpful local information.
  7. If possible, set up some type of banking account before you leave – even a global account will make it easier to access funds once you land and will give you time to get the necessary paperwork to open a local account.  At the same time, research what is needed in your new home to open a bank account, local government services and utility bills.  As much as this seems like TOO much information – it will make it easier particularly if you have limited access to the internet or are relying on your phone.
  8. Talking of phones – get a local SIM card as soon as possible.  Initially in most places you will not be able to open an account but everywhere I have been there are companies that offer a data heavy package at a reasonable price.

I am sure I have left off a ton of things – but that just means I have a chance to come back and share some more lessons from moving globally – Covid or no Covid!

Good Morning – How to Save your Sanity!

coffee, sun, calm
Morning coffee in the sunshine.

Let’s face it – getting oneself and the kids out of the house, on time and still sane is no mean feat and one Moms encounter on an (almost) daily basis.  And it doesn’t seem to get any better even as the kids grow older or the days get colder.

I have put together some ideas – based on my own parenting experiences (including having an ADD child) that helped me get out the door and even managed to get me a cup of coffee too!

  1. Start with a calendar.  Preferably a physical one in a central location (I found the front of a kitchen cupboard worked well) onto which EVERYTHING and I do mean everything is written.  This includes extramural activities, matches or competitions, cycle tests, doctor or dentist appointments, parent/teacher conferences, birthday parties, etc, etc.  This gives you a quick overview of the week and what to expect.  It also serves as a reminder for the children of what is coming up.
  2. Every evening check what is on for the next day or even a couple of days ahead – this way you have time to ensure that practice kit is packed, or projects are ready to go at the door in the morning.  It also serves as a handy reminder for birthday presents which may need purchasing.
  3. Prepare as much of the following day’s breakfast and lunch as possible the night before – bowls, cereals, tea, coffee etc can be put out so that only water or milk need be added. The same goes for non-perishable lunch items – snacks, fruit and such can be put into lunch tins before hand and even sandwiches can be prepared ahead of time. (Handy trick – leave any soggy ingredients for the morning).
  4. Double check that all uniform items are ready before bed – that way you aren’t hunting the missing sock/tie/jersey in the morning madness.
  5. Ensure that all homework is in the school bag and any permission slips or forms that need to be returned are also accounted for.
  6. Set your alarm so that you have at least a 20 to 30-minute head start on the children.  This way you can get yourself dressed (and the cup of coffee made) before you have to start herding cats (a.k.a. the children).
  7. Once the children are awake, dressed and eating breakfast, you can then finish their lunches (as well as yours) and start rounding up everything that needs to go into the car or out the door with the children.
  8. With 15 minutes to “out-the-door” time start following up on tooth brushing etc and grab your last minute items.
  9. And you are good to go!  Enjoy your day and the small margin of sanity you gained.

A quick tip (especially if you have a child who has attention issues) is when they get home have a routine planned out for them to put used items such as lunch tins in the appropriate place so you have a head start in the evening when you get home.

I hope these tips have helped – please feel free to leave me a comment or tell me any other ideas which have helped you be more productive in the morning.

Cheerios, breakfast, spoon, milk
Breakfast Cheerios – a start to the day

“No Spend” Mother’s Day Gifts

Mother Child
Mother Lifting her Child Skyward

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I have put together some ideas that will delight Mom but won’t break the bank!

  1. The All Time Favourite – Breakfast in Bed.  Remember to clean the kitchen afterwards!
  2. A trip to her favourite park or museum followed by a picnic lunch – made by you.
  3. A voucher for your time – for example: “Good for one hour’s help in the garden”, or “Valid for one back massage”.
  4. Handprint Art from the kids – a search on Pinterest will bring up some fabulous ideas.
  5. A Poem – written by you – about your mother.  Make it sentimental, make it funny – whatever will appeal to her.  Most important – make it heartfelt.
  6. Teach her something new – maybe she’s always wanted to know how Twitter works – or how to change a plug.  If you have the skill – share it with your Mom.
  7. Take her for a walk – and just spend time together.  Take your camera (or phone) and capture the memory.
  8. Ask her what would have special meaning for her – most often it’s not the big things but the little ones that mean the most.
  9. Offer to do something you know she wants to accomplish but doesn’t really have time for – like updating the family albums, or painting the door, or updating the tech in the house.
  10. Last but not least – let her know how much you love her.

Mother’s Day is a special day – to take time out to thank our Moms (Step-Moms and Grandmums too) for all that they do for us, day in and day out, which we sometimes take for granted.  The above ideas are sure to make Mom feel treasured on this special day.


Working with a Professional Organiser – The Benefits

The benefits of working with a Professional Organiser:

  1. Purpose and Neutrality:  We help you to see the OVERALL picture.
  2. Composed Attitude: there is NO insurmountable problem!
  3. Fresh Eyes: ‘clutter-blindness’ does not impinge on the process.
  4. Strategies for Upkeep: hints for maintaining the organisation for lasting effects!
  5. Project Completion: no matter how difficult, each project is seen through to completion.
  6. Focus and Proficiency: staying on course and increasing efficiency.
  7. Knowledge: current information on community supports, resources, and products.
  8. Removal: disposal of items in the most environmentally responsible way — the dump is the last resort.

All this leaves you less clutter, less stress and MORE time and money!

This is an adaptation for my market of a post on KWProfessionalOrganizers Blog. Link Here.