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Book Review: SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life

Friday, September 16th, 2011

I am a big fan of Julie Morgenstern’s books. She has a way of boiling down a hairy problem to the essentials and then providing a step-by-step process for walking a person through the solution.

Julie’s original work Organizing From the Inside Out, is a great place to start if you want to do DIY organizing. I use this book as a basic text for the group program “Clutter Management” offered twice a year.

Julie’s latest offering, SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life, is a timely message for those of us realizing there is more to life than status, things, or even security. We yearn to make a difference, to become a force for change, to be light in a dark world.

This answer to the question “What is SHED?” from Chapter One will give you some insight into how this book can impact your future:

SHED is a transformative process for letting go of things that represent the past so you can grow and move forward. The four steps of SHED (Separate the treasures, Heave the Trash, Embrace Your Identity, Drive Yourself Forward) provide a framework for proactively managing change, transition, and the feeling of being stuck and unsure. By releasing the defunct, extraneous, and burdensome objects and obligations that are weighing you down, you create the space to discover what’s next and gather the energy and courage to move forward.

I have not finished the book. This is not one to rush through, but to thoughtfully and actively immerse yourself in the process as you go. I heartily recommend this read!

Trish’s Advice for WAHM (Work at Home Moms)

Friday, April 15th, 2011

This article is written by Trisha Philbrook, a graduate of AssistU, and my Virtual Assistant. Trish has a heart for moms who want to raise their children themselves AND bring in a little extra money with an at-home job. This is her open letter to like-minded moms with a little advice on how to get started as a WAHM.

“Hello O4L friends!
I call you my friends because I’m the behind-the-scene administrative gal for Martha and although I’ve never met most of you, I still feel like you are my friends. Martha approached me about writing an article. This is a topic I know a lot about and could talk about all day.

To tell you a little about myself, I am a wife and mother to three precious girls. Their ages are five, two, and one. My husband and I decided after we had our first daughter that I would stay home. So, for the first 4 years of our first daughter’s life, I did not work. Actually, I never really thought about whether I would work from home, but realized after our third child that I needed that “me” time and working sounded like a great idea. When I set out to find a job, I knew that if this was going to be part of my “me” time, then it better be something I enjoy.

Below, I have put together four simple points that I feel would be a great start if you are considering the world of stay-at-home/working mom.

  • Consider how many hours you can work from home.
    This may be time while the kids are napping, in the evening when your husband gets home, during the weekends, or even getting a sitter for a couple days during the week. Whatever you decide you need to know how many hours a week/month that you have available to work. Remember you need to be flexible in case of sick/cranky kids (I didn’t consider this when I first started.)
  • Make a list of jobs you would love to do even if you don’t think there is a possibility that you could do it from home.
    You would be surprised at what jobs you can do from home these days. I enjoy doing administrative computer work. This may sound boring to many of you, but to me that was my ultimate dream and something I really, really enjoy doing. Start making your list of what you enjoy doing.
  • Update that resume!
    It may take you a while to remember some of the important dates so, get it done now so you can email it immediately if necessary. I have a great story about how I became a Virtual Assistant …email me and I’ll share with you how that happened.
  • Network.
    Networking is so, so important. When I began looking for a job to do from home, I told everyone I knew that I was looking for a job to do from home and let me know of any jobs they hear of. By doing this, I still receive job opportunities that I can now pass on to my other friends that are looking for jobs. I could write a whole separate article on networking. The best networking resources for me has been Facebook and my local Moms Club.

I hope this helps you or someone you know to get a start on a new direction. Please feel free to email me if I can be of further help. I would love to talk with you.”

You can reach Trish at [email protected]

Knowing What You Really Want is Key to Success

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Book Review: Write It Down, Make It Happen

In December, my sister and I met to exchange Christmas presents and to just BE together. That doesn’t happen nearly often enough.

I told her, ”I’m not sure what I really want!” She said, “I’ll send you a copy of the book I’m reading,” and gave me a notebook to write my thoughts in. The funny part: the book’s tag line is Knowing What You Want – and Getting It!

Author, Henriette Ann Klauser, has a PhD in English Literature and teaches writing techniques in U.S. and Canadian universities.  As she taught her students how to practice “rapidwriting, writing fast, lickety-split, past the Critic”, her students began to share with her the positive, life-changing results they experienced. Those stories became the catalyst for her book, Write It Down, Make It Happen.

Write It Down, Make It Happen

Klauser uses illustrations from real people who found once they wrote dreams down, the resources and contacts came to them, rather than their having to seek out either. Well known examples are Lou Holtz, Notre Dame coach and Jim Carrey, comedian.

As a Christian believer, I don’t ascribe to “name it, claim it” type thinking.  I see something else at work here. Once you and I identify what we really want, we will see opportunities that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Marian’s story of building a state-of-the-art retirement home in a small Nevada town inspires me. Not only did writing clarify her thoughts, but she states,

That’s another benefit of writing  – it helps me to recognize what is happening and to appreciate it. When I don’t write it down, sometimes I overlook… small victories and forget to be grateful.

What is it you really want? Start to keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings in 2011. From organizing, to losing weight, to getting finances in order… it is key to know what you want as an end result. You may be surprised at the strange “coincidences” that help you along the way.

Better yet, find someone with whom to share your goals and desires, and who will cheer you on/hold you up during tough times. That is exactly the role my wonderful sister fills for me. I am grateful.

Are You Getting The Right Things Done?

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Yes, this is the first Monday of the New Year 2011. Did you jump right back into your life and work with gusto? Do you know where you are headed and how to get there?

One of the hardest things about a TO DO list is choosing which task to do first. That choice is difficult to make unless you have a known destination in mind. Then, do you tend to see one task completed, or do you like to dabble with 3-4 in progress at a time?

To find out your productivity quotient, try taking David Allen’s GTD-Q test. This is a “less than 2 minute” activity, so you can do it now. Find out what your strengths and weaknesses are in the “getting things done” arena.

Are you proactive or reactive? Do you have more creative ideas than you ever follow up with? How are you at taking care of details?

Suggested reading after you see your detailed results:

Getting Things Done by David Allen
Time Management from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Closet Organizing Inspiration

Friday, December 17th, 2010

I received this email from a reader and asked her if I could share her story.  Lori attended a presentation earlier this year and started receiving my Simple Changes newsletter.

Hey Martha,

Just a little note to say thanks for your inspiration this past year.  I’ve been able to focus on small and large projects one at a time.  When I get overwhelmed I just take a break and then re-prioritize if I have to.

Martha Stewart Closet System

The most recent project was putting in a closet system into our master closet.  My husband and I installed 2 martha stewart towers (one for him, one for me) with drawers and shelves the weekend after thanksgiving.

This has made a huge difference in our closet, bedroom and bathroom.  Now I can bring in my scarves and purses and keep them organized (& handy) in my closet instead of having them in other areas of the house.  Plus we have extra space to grow: his drawers aren’t all filled and there’s room on the shelves.

We ended up purging some unused items, so will be handing them to goodwill soon.   I find myself going into the closet and smiling and I tell my husband that everyday.

He deserves something special this holiday.  Maybe the telescope he wanted or a garage organization system.

Happy Holidays

Lori B.

Victory! Purged Clothes Lead to Organized Closet

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
Recently I received this wonderful email from a friend and O4L reader. With her permission, I am letting you read over my shoulder. I hope you are encouraged and inspired to make needed changes in your life.

Dear Martha,

Here’s a praise report and some good [news] about how the LORD has given me the needed desire and encouragement to purge and organize my clothes and closet.

I had wanted to lose weight to be healthy and The LORD led me to a ‘diet plan’ that has really made a big difference.  I am down 22 lbs. and have reached my goal with 2 lbs to spare. In the meantime - the lost pounds and inches – meant lots of my clothes needed to go -  He has  given me a new mindset -  that this is the healthy weight for me and I’m making the lifestyle change to stay within two pounds of it.

So I no longer feel the need to save the larger sizes “just in case”. When I lost the first 10- or 11 pounds I gave away some of my ” too big for me but in good shape” clothing to friends and family.  It was a joy to pass things on to others (who were blessed) and to have less “stuff” cluttering up my closet.

Then two days ago – after losing this final 11 lbs - I tried on every piece of clothing I own – summer - winter – all of it and I’m actually purging at least 2/3 of my wardrobe!!

We have always had limited closet space and even though I’m not one to buy tons of clothes -I did save old ones for WAY too long and  I have had to use the  spare bedroom closet to store seasonal clothing.

Both the spare bedroom closet and our closet are so organized now. I  purged every part – old shoes – purses – belts you name it – WOW what a euphoric feeling on all fronts !!!  Also I’ve done what you’ve mentioned and used the summer sales to buy a few ‘nice replacement items’ in the new sizes – but only a few.

I still have to find homes for some of the clothing I think friends might like – but all that is decent and not something specifically thought of for individuals  is boxed up and in my car to be donated.

YOUR message is timely and I’m blessed by God’s grace to make healthy changes which I know are improving our quality of life.   MOVING Forward into a lifestyle of organization.  Thanks for your help and inspiration.

Blessings, Cyndy

Great Ideas on How to Focus… Now!

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Don’t critique the job you’re doing until you’ve completed it.

Christine Adamec, author of “Moms with ADD”
Adult ADD

Adult ADD

This is just one of the “8 Ways to Focus at Work & Home” from the article in ADDitude Magazine online.

If you are distracted by bright and shiny objects, are a raving perfectionist,  or simply have to move NOW or you will die, you will find hope in these simple tips from ADHD experts.

While you are there, sign up to have the newsletter delivered to your in box. We all can use the additional nudge to simplify desktops, write lists, and ask for help from a friend. Common sense? Yes! Do we do it? No!