This is the Organize 365® Story. In this first podcast. I share the five foundational principles that are the bedrock of everything I teach inside of Organize 365®. Sharing these principles with you helps to ensure that we have a common vocabulary and understanding.
No matter when you begin your transformational journey (or when you need to reset or restart), this information will be here as a reference for you. Listen in as I teach you about the ideas and beliefs that are at the core of everything I teach and how I approach organizing.
I want to share the cycles and seasons you will experience along your transformational journey to an organized life. This podcast and our new glossary will help the Organize 365® community to have a shared vocabulary and foundational language.
As things get moving faster and you begin to feel overwhelmed, the way to regain clarity and be able to adjust from being reactive to productivity is the Sunday Basket®.
I want you to focus on having realistic expectations about how long it will take you to get organized. It definitely does not happen overnight, but it does happen. On our Wednesday Transformation Podcasts, people share how one day they suddenly realized they had achieved organization in at least one portion of their home and life. You do not have to do the 100 Day Home Organization Program perfectly for it to work, but consistency in your organizing efforts will move the needle. The 100 Day Program is set up so you repeat it three times each year and keep moving forward toward becoming an organized person. As your teacher, I want you to figure out how to order your thoughts and change your mindset so that you can figure out what you need to do in order to organize your home yourself.
The first person that helped me to change my mindset about time was Laura Vanderkam. I have spoken with Laura on the Organize 365® Podcast, reviewed her book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, and she has really helped me to think differently about time. Laura showed me that a week can be divided in half and that helped me to think about how I spend my time. Although I do like to sleep a lot, I have a lot of awake hours every day and with focus I was able to increase my endurance for making decisions and using my time to my own advantage. I became much more aware of time and how I spend it. In this podcast, I want to pass those lessons on to you.
Work is a major concept in the Organize 365® Story. I have always been careful about how I define work. As a woman, other people do not always see what I do as “work.” Over the years, I have wrestled with how I define work. At different times, I have valued my work based on the income that I have earned. In the past, I worked a lot of little jobs to pay little bills. Throughout our lives, we all love to work, to learn, and to make others happy. You can reclaim these feelings as an adult. When we can more clearly see all the different kinds of work and jobs we have, we can give ourselves permission to treat them as important work. When we level out how we spend our time so work for pay and not for pay are both important, we can give them equal weight, merit, and focus on making them productive.
I want to give you the ability to look at your life circumstances and understand the ways in which they are impacting your organization. Getting your thoughts and mindset ordered is vital to ordering your physical spaces. I want to share with you some life circumstances and talk about how they affect your thinking and your organizing work.
Unexpected Events In life, we experience unexpected events that alter our journey to organization. These are things that happen and are unexpected in terms of timing and how we react to them. I have shared many of the unexpected events in my own life – I have experienced infertility, became an adoptive mom, had my parents divorce when I was in my 30’s, walked with my father as he became ill and passed away and subsequently became the executor of my father’s estate. Every life will face some unexpected events. I am going to share a few in detail below, but the principles for surviving (and even thriving) through these events are the same.
Warrior Mama I deeply believe that each parent and child relationship is matched purposefully for the benefit of all. You parenting style and your child’s unique need is matched exactly the way it is supposed to be. Both of my children had special needs as they were growing up, and our family resources (time, money, and energy) were spent helping our kids become successful adults. Along the way, I grew as a Warrior Mama. When I call myself a MAMA – it stands for Managing All Medical Alternatives. I became an expert in supplements, therapy, and alternative treatments in order to best advocate for my children. In the podcast, you can hear some of my stories about vitamin research and supplements that I researched in order to help my children’s behaviors.
Organize 365 offers a Warrior Mama IEP Binder to help you if you are facing the unexpected event of caring for a child with a special need as they progress through school. This binder is focused on helping you keep the educational advocacy paperwork organized for your child. If your child has significant medical needs, a Medical Binder is likely to be more helpful. And, some children will benefit from having both, especially if their needs are highly complex. You were put here to be the MAMA for your child. I have walked this path too, and I am here to support you and help you stay organized so you can best help your child.
How ADHD Affects Home Organization ADHD is a disorder of time. For people with ADHD, time passes differently – sometimes it is hard to focus and other times there is a hyperfocus. People with ADHD (kids and adults) can learn to do anything. Sometimes it takes longer to complete a task. Sometimes it takes longer to learn the skills. Sometimes skills are acquired later in life. But, organization and executive functioning are learnable skills.
I wrote the book How ADHD Affects Home Organization: Understanding the Role of the 8 Key Executive Functions of the Mind to help adults understand how the brain works and to find strategies that actually work for helping you get (and stay) organized. The book deep dives into 6 of the 8 executive functions and what they look like when applied to organizing the inside of your home. You can listen to Podcast Episode 174 where I share more about the book. There are many studies about the impact of ADHD on work and school, but there is little about maintaining a home. The home environment has less structure and accountability, and can be a bigger challenge. I share how you can learn to create structure and supports to help you learn the skills of getting organized.
Organizing with Chronic Illness – Spoon Theory Chronic illness (and other physical limitations) can create circumstances where you physically cannot get organized independently. In Podcast Episode 244, I share what I have learned about Christine Miserandino’s Spoon Theory. Spoon Theory is a way to understand that we are each blessed with different levels of energy and physical capacity. When working from a place of limited spoons, it is important to manage your energy level. Everyone can learn to be organized, but we are not all starting with the same amount of energy for completing the physical tasks of getting organized. How you spend your spoons, and what you spend your spoons on is a very important decision. Find what is uniquely the essence of you and spend your energy doing that.
Paper is my thing. I love writing on paper, I love organizing paper, I love everything about paper. But, as a professional organizer, I realized there is very little information available about how to organize paper, the categories of paper we deal with in our lives, and how to actually use paper in everyday life. No matter when you begin your transformational journey (or when you need to reset or restart), this information will be here as a reference for you.
Less Paper, not Paperless. - Although we have been promised a “paperless” society, the reality is that the US is a paper-based society. We are able to handle more things digitally than ever before, but we still need physical paper for many things in life. In America, our vaccine cards, birth certificates, vehicle titles, and medical records are all physical paper. Other parts of the world have digital systems for these things, but because of the uniqueness of our government and our focus on freedoms, we do not have universal, digital records for these things. In my own life, physical paper has saved me over and over. Paper means that I can avoid expensive professional fees, and it gives me authority with lawyers, doctors, and school principles. In America, paper is the way I (and you) can substantiate claims and provide proof of what you know. Paper is useful in settling estates, advocating for children during IEP meetings, and for communicating vital health information during a medical emergency.
The Paper Solution® - The Sunday Basket® is the foundation of an organized home. The Sunday Basket® starts as a physical basket that holds actionable papers. But, really, it is so much more. It is a weekly habit of processing and looking proactively at the upcoming week that keeps the household running more smoothly. In 2020, I published The Paper Solution as a physical book. It is written to change your mindset about papers, and to give you the practical tools to get your household papers organized.
The Big Purge - As a professional organizer working in people’s homes, I saw over and over that file cabinets allow us to save much more paper than we ever in. Surprisingly, most Americans can get rid of 80% of their filed papers and will never need them again. You can declutter your papers in as little as 15 minutes a day. Take a few file folders out and review them. Make piles for papers to recycle, shred, and save. Put the “save” papers back in the file cabinet. If you have ever taken care of a loved one’s papers, you know how vital it is to have important papers organized and easy to find. Take care of the people you love by clearing out all the old papers that no longer need to be stored or saved.
Types of Paper - Actionable and Reference - Of the papers that should be kept, there are two main categories:
Actionable papers are papers that require you to take some action — bills to pay, grocery lists to buy, or a note to book that vacation hotel.
Reference papers are all of the other papers we save — bank account numbers, retirement statements, wedding cards, and love letters. These we may look at again sometime in the future, but they mostly need to be kept safe.
Ditch the File Cabinet - After years of helping people get their files color-coded and organized in a file cabinet, I had several clients who were facing emergency evacuations. The reality was that they did not have time to pull out important documents during their emergency. That is when I realized that our reference papers need to be portable and there must be a constraint on how much paper we keep. It’s not realistic to load up an entire file cabinet when trying to get away from a forest fire or a hurricane. For several years, I have been teaching people to ditch the file cabinet and replace it with several essential reference binders. (More on this in the next podcast).
After some ongoing analysis, I realized that household paper generally fits into four categories. I thought about all of the information it took to keep my household organized and my family functioning. There were no ready-made systems for being a caregiver and executor when my father passed away. I have worked with the members of the team who have gone through similar life challenges to try and make our binders as broad and effective as possible. But, because they are binders, they can also be adapted to handle any life situation you encounter. I created a reference binder for each of the four areas of essential household paperwork. Tax forms and kid's memories live outside of this system, but everything else that needs to be saved can typically be fit into one of the four essential binders.
The Four Essential Household Binders - Organize 365® sells physical binders to help with your household paper organization. The contents for each binder is also detailed in The Paper Solution book. However, our physical binders have multiple pages of worksheets that help get the information from the many places it lives organized into one location. Setting up the binders will make your life more organized and easier. But, it is also a gift for your family. If anyone else ever needs to take over any portion of your #adulting, they will have what they need at their fingertips.
Financial Organizing Binder - This binder details your current and future financial information. It includes retirement accounts, vehicles, insurance, home inventory, estate planning, and funeral plans. This binder was originally designed for someone to be able to take over your financial life and close your estate. It can help with tracking bills, selling a house, or cancelling a lease. I estimate that in order to have a comprehensive financial binder, you will get 30% from your file cabinet, 30-40% digital information, and 30-40% in your memory or on random papers in your home.
Medical Reference Binder - This binder is designed to be used mainly by a caregiver. You can set one up if you are caring for someone else, or you can set one up to make it easier for a friend or family member to care for you. Although medical records are electronic, they are siloed in each medical practice. Many of the software systems do not effectively share information. Pharmacy, doctors, dentists, specialists, and insurance companies all have their own record systems in America. I estimate that 5-10% of this information lives in your file cabinet right now. 40-50% is online in some kind of medical record system. The other 40-55% is not recorded anywhere (yet!). Your medical binder is also a perfect place to keep a list of questions for your next appointment, write down observations, record behavior changes, and communicate with other caregivers. This binder has a comprehensive workbook that includes a health history, childhood milestone tracker, symptom recorder, and place to record what you have already attempted. Life is short and the unexpected happens. We will either need caregivers or be caregivers. Having a portable, concise medical reference binder will help you to get the best care.
Household Reference Binder - This binder is the one I use most frequently. It is designed for people who are homeowners but can be used if you rent too. This binder is designed to have all the reference information you would keep organized if your house was a person. If you were selling your house tomorrow, you could hand over the binder to the new owners. The binder contains home improvement information, paint colors, appliance information, and landscaping details. Typically, 80% of the contents of this binder are already in your file cabinet. Manuals, make and model numbers, serial numbers, and similar information can be stored in the binder. I also recommend keeping receipts for purchases here too so you know when it was purchased and how much it cost.
Household Operations - The Household Operations binder is all of the paperwork and information you need to run your household. No matter what kind of dwelling you have, you need a place to track meal planning, cleaning schedules, events, holidays, vacations, and pet information. As a teacher, I think of this binder as my lesson plan book for my family.
Kids School Memory Binder - Kids enjoy their own memories most when they are young and can see their own growth and progress. When your kids are in the midst of their accumulation phase or survival phase of life, they probably will not have time to sit down and look through their old math tests and spelling lists. But, when your kids are young, you might be amazed at how much joy they get from looking at their artwork, stories, and projects. They will sit down with their binders and tell stories about school that you might not otherwise get to hear. Have your kids help to make their own memory binder and then use them. Sit down together and see what they have to say about certificates, awards, and their own creations.
Warrior Mama Binder - For kids who have an IEP or 504, we have the Warrior Mama binder. This is a combination of medical and educational information that will help you to keep your child’s paperwork organized and help you to advocate for his or her best education.
Walk Softly and Carry a Big Binder - Your binder will hold essential details and can cut down on the time you need to spend to get your support professionals up to speed. This gives you more effective time during appointments. In my own experience, having paper documentation raises your expertise level with professionals and gives you immediate credibility.
Several years ago, as I was writing the Organize 365® vision, I knew that I wanted to conduct research to bring to light the organizational needs of Americans. I want to be the go-to resource for knowledge about home and paper organization. When we developed the first survey, I needed to figure out how to define “housework.” The research questions ended up focusing on four different types of housework.
Cleaning - Cleaning is related to the dwelling and covers any task a cleaning company would do. Learn more in podcast 422.
Tasks of Daily Living - These are tasks related to the person regardless of where they live. These are the tasks defined by Social Security Disability and include things like preparing food, consuming food, running errands, planning meals, and washing laundry. Learn more in podcast 424.
Organizing - is an optional housework activity where a person makes an investment of current time for a future return of time. This is completely optional and customizable. Time spent today organizing results in an exponential time in the future. Often this involves setting up systems of organization and can be applied to renters and owners. Learn more in podcast 426.
Maintenance - is an optional housework activity where the property owner makes an additional infusion of money into their investment (property) to maintain and improve their property. In the long run, maintenance expenses increase the value of the initial investment. Learn more in podcast 428.
Thank you for taking this 11-week journey with me through the Organize 365® story.