Lest you think I'm actually talking about nutrients, because I did in fact devour half a bag of Trader Joe's Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramel Balls today...
Digression aside, I'm not speaking of macronutrients and micronutrients (though the MyFitnessPal Premium version of the app has been helping me track my specific daily macro goals so far in 2017).
I'm speaking of my approach to organizing and how I begin with the macro (big picture) and work down to the micro (small details). A common trap I see with my clients is thinking either too big picture or too much into the details. It takes a delicate dance of both to execute successful home organization in any area.
I shared on a Facebook group tonight called Ann Arbor Mamas Network about pantries which I've grown to recently love. I hope you gain something from my insight into my macro/micro approach in this area of the home.
Here's a pantry I worked on yesterday that is in progress... about 3/4 of the way through.
Here is my basic approach to a pantry!
1) First step: throw out expired food and be ruthless with dates and things you know you don't want to eat again, or don't look appetizing. ;) This creates space.
2) Pull out the majority of what's left in the pantry onto a nearby table, bench, etc. Separate it into basic categories - grains, cans, baking, snacks to name a few. I call that the "macro" organizing. Big picture categories. Why do I suggest taking stuff out? A few reasons...
a) you've probably been looking at stuff in the same spot for so long that you no longer see it. Moving it forces you to take each item in your hand and make a decision about it.
b) it's your chance to wipe those grody shelves down or replace shelf liner!
c) you have a prime opportunity to remove unhealthful items and call a local health coach like Liza Baker to Flip Your Kitchen.
3) Next comes the micro organizing. Determine which shelf/area is for grains and separate them into noodles, rice, and other mixes. Determine which shelf/area is for baking and keep that stuff together. Determine among the cans how you can further organize - in this pantry, for example, I separated into corn, beans, and tomato products.
Make temporary "labels" with post-it notes and try out that system for a week before you commit to buying products, labeling with a label-maker, and determining permanent "homes." See how it flows and if you like it!
When I go back to this client this weekend, we will have the containers purchased and fit these categories into things that can be contained so the mess doesn't spread.... At least not as easily! ;)
These are some baskets she already had, and we are ordering about a dozen more.
I ❤️ doing pantries!!!
Last fall I determined to turn my phone off for a week. A whole week! I was a bit nervous to try it, but I was constantly drawn in by social media, flashy apps, and my Wunderlists, and I knew my mind and heart were being affected. I needed a break, and more than that, I needed to create some space.
I often ask why people want to get organized when they inquire about my services as a professional organizer. There are so many ways people answer that, but I’ve found that deep down, everyone is looking to be more productive in their homes and in their lives. Clutter stands in the way of becoming the version of themselves they know they can be.
Oftentimes this productivity begins by making space. For example, when I help organize a closet, I often begin by taking everything out. Does it sound a little counter-intuitive? The first time I suggest this approach to a new client, there’s inevitably a mini freak-out moment. Or... in walks the spouse who, upon seeing piles on the bed and floor, comments in jest, “I thought you were here to make things better!”
I thought making space and increasing productivity were counter-intuitive too, until I realized I was idolizing productivity. It began subtly, but eventually I knew I had a problem when I couldn’t even bring myself to take a day of rest. I’d work through my breaks just so I could move to the next thing, but I was missing an important step.
If I’m not careful, I start placing my value in my work and productivity. No matter how hard I work or how many things I cross off my list, I still feel unsatisfied if I’m not resting and making space first. When I turned off my phone for a whole week last fall, I started thinking about my value in a new light.
I began by getting quiet, allowing my mind to slow, and asking God to speak to me. I knew I was valuable, yet my actions suggested I was hustling to prove myself, rather than resting in my identity. I meditated on the truth that I am loved by God no matter what projects I complete or how efficiently I work. God’s intention is to free us from the things we idolize so that we live for what we’re really made for. Although tempting to depend on my own strength and efforts, it’s much lighter (and easier) to depend on Him.
Whenever I find myself flying so fast that I forget to make space for my heart to be at rest and remember who I am, I know it’s time to take a step back. One thing that has helped me is the rule of three. I pick 3 tasks/priorities each day to accomplish, and no more. I also do not schedule more than 3 things in a day. Whether that is brunch with a friend, seeing a client, and grocery shopping, or whether it is 3 appointments in a day, I’ve learned over time that 3 is my happy place which usually still allows margin.
Another thing that helps me is to check in with my heart regularly through journaling each night before I go to bed. I often do this on my phone through the DayOne journal app. I typically journal my responses in the eight different areas I outlined in my Forward Motion format, and one of those areas is taking time to listen for a few moments as I ask God what He wants to say to me that day.
Sometimes it’s an encouragement, other times it’s a soft correction. This little practice has created just enough space for me to remember my value and keep my heart tender to His opinion of my identity. If I sense Him saying I’m going too hard, I open my Google calendar app and look for a time to schedule in a time of rest soon.
Rest looks different for each person. During my scheduled rest time, I shutdown my work e-mail and reference a list of things that refresh me, none of which are productive or work-related. I created what I like to call a self-care menu which lists a dozen things I like to do to relax. This includes things like getting a pedicure or visiting the Farmer’s Market. I love working with my hands, but if I’m not careful, my day off is filled with active things and I’m not resting my mind or my body.
Rejecting the idol of productivity and creating space to find our true value takes practice and time. This is still a journey for me, yet each day I’m learning the needs of my heart more and more as I listen and respond.
Try taking some time away from your phone or internet and scheduling in a time of rest this week. Rest in the knowledge that you are loved today no matter what you accomplish. Let us create the space to listen and respond together and learn to reach our goals in a healthy and productive way. You may be surprised how a rested spirit fuels your life in an even greater way!