I’m stuck with Paperwork

I’m stuck with Paperwork

I’m stuck with Paperwork

I’m Stuck with My Files, HELP!

A great example from yesterday for getting unstuck with too much paperwork can help all of us
to get unstuck. A senior woman I met a year ago called me, and said she needed help with her
filing. She was feeling stuck even though her life’s work was one of being organized, she just
could not get out of the mess of papers everywhere. That is not uncommon. She had tub and
boxes full of papers that needed filing. She moved six months ago into a new apartment and
that was part of the procrastinating and chaos with paper. Any number of things can cause
being ‘stuck’: 7 ways get yourself unstuck.

FILES

With her new housing arrangement and widowhood. she needed to review what papers she
needed to keep and what file categories best suited her. With a guide sheet we selected the
categories for her files then we worked together to edit her current single file drawer and an
extra file box. With a list of five file categories and the system used in the webinar at
elisahawkinson.com/calming-office-chaos we tackled the project and made great
progress in an hour. We had five categories in the drawer; using tri-cut file folders we had used
the left file cut and made a front to back row for PERSONAL files, a center cut file folder
category (front to back row) for FINANCIAL, then a right cut file folders for a row of
LIFESTYLE files. Then one more center cut file folder row for the category of
TAXES/INSURANCE files.

At the very front of the drawer was a center cut file labeled NOW, CURRENT where she
could have easy access to files like the retirement community’s activity calendar for the month,
and the menu for the dining hall. She could also have any other file she would need to have
quick and frequent access to like an upcoming reunion or birthday celebration with details for
driving or gift ideas.

MEDICAL RECORDS

The file box she had became her collection of current Medical files; one file for each health
category she had records, labs or x-rays for: orthopedic, heart, optical, dental, and wellness
records. That gave her a way she could have easy access to and not have to go through the
stack of papers she had to find a specific lab report for a heart issue. Those files could be in the
single drawer if it had been larger or a second file drawer in the desk.

WEEKLY CALENDAR

The woman said she had a habit of doing her dishes each day and she was willing to add the
habit of filing each day using a calendar for each week that would help her lay out her
commitments and appointments. She felt the weekly calendar* would help her stay on track
and she would use a timer for each of the segments she chose whether it as 15 minutes or 60
minutes or 90 minutes. A color pencil would be used for each segment of time.

PERSONAL PLANNING GUIDE

A 3-ring binder for her son, the executor of her will, had already been assembled with all the
final instructions and information of sources for retirement income and social security, service
preferences and a list of people to contact, financial information. estate information and a few
other personal details. She is intentionally making it as easy as possible on her son for her end
of life details. That is another beautiful example of adulting to the last breath.

* email to request a copy of the weekly calendar and it will be sent upon request.

Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson

Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson

Elisa Hawkinson
Professional Organizer | Author Calming Your Chaos | Leader of the Smooth Organizer Community
www.elisahawkinson.com

about

Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson

 

 

Since 2000 Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson, author of Calming Your Chaos, has been teaching and training businesses and individuals to support anyone who is not naturally organized on a consistent basis to be just that. Her HOW2GetOrganized seminars, workshops, and speaking along with hands-on coaching and coaching by phone has evolved from her natural genetic bent for order. Efficiency, calm, productivity and profitability are increased with the help of HOW2 and Elisa.

 

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How Does Laughter Help in Downsizing

How Does Laughter Help in Downsizing

How Does Laughter Help in Downsizing

Is it possible that laughter helps when downsizing? My own personal experience tells me yes,
at times, but when I’m not grieving the loss of a loved one. I’ve been on that side of downsizing.
The other side of life when it’s time to edit the contents of my home and or in helping others,
laughter has played an important part

A silly memory from long ago of a garage sale with a friend sitting beside me makes me a smile
right now. She saw a pair of culottes (think long shorts in the 70’s hitting below the knee) on
the table for sale. She laughed at me for having held on to them for over ten years, long after
anyone was wearing them. They were in great condition, had cost plenty and the fabric was a
lovely wool. I don’t think at that point in my life, and twenty years into my marriage that I had
ever consciously downsized or decluttered. I just hung on to stuff until it was useless. I was
still in the accumulating phase of life.

After getting over my embarrassment with my friend I laughed too. I quickly evaluated why I
still had those culottes. I realized I had not put boundaries around what I would keep or for
how long and, since I once loved them, I thought I should keep them until the pregnancy weight
was off. Being on a budget was also a factor. I grew up hearing the motto, ‘Good clothes must
be worn until they were worn out. After the laugh, reality set in and I could not wait for
someone to buy them. No one did but I did donate them since someone somewhere might
need them.

That laugh was refreshing and urged me to keep sorting through my home to edit down what
was no longer needed or used. There were plenty and things in every household category that
showed up that could be donated that were not used or needed. I reflecting on how laughter is
so good for our health, and decided to look for what else I could laugh at for keeping so long.

There have been countless times that a client and I laughed at something found deep within a
cabinet that had not been used for over a decade. One of the best laughs came from finding
parts of a blender in four different places in the kitchen. We howled imaging the scavenger
hunt that would have happened should a smoothie for the children been on the ‘need now’
agenda. But it is the older appliances pushed far to the backside of a deep cabinet that has
brought the most giggles and shock at the find of forgotten items not-used-in-years category.

Research shows how clutter causes us stress.

Clutter causes stress anxiety. Many of us may not have realized how
healthy it is to have our homes and offices better organized. That alone may be incentive
enough to decide to do something about the accumulated amount of stuff covering our kitchen
countertops and furniture. If support is helpful to tackle the project, there is no shame in
asking for that. A friend or relative might be able to help or a professional might be better for
you. You will know best. Decide what would work best for you to have a plan to move
throughout the home or a room to put it in order. It helps to have everyone living in the home
be part of the solution to keep things in better order.

Being perfect is not the solution. We all have lapses and real-life conflicts to that conflict with
order. Relax, enjoy life and know you can get right back to having things better organized as
soon as you are rested and have the energy to put things back where they belong. Looking at
life like it is a mobile that moves with the breezes helps us see that our lives are not stationary,
nor can they be absolutely organized all the time. After an event breezes through your life,
things settle back down, and you can put things back in order.

One thing that I like to stress is a purpose and place for every item. If an item is kept that is
because it is needed, and it has a purpose. Placing that item back in the same location each
time makes retrieving it simpler, rather than a hunt and search mission that wastes your time. If
for some reason you cannot find an item quickly, relax and look later but rethink if where it
was placed made good sense. Finding a new place may be required if you searched too much
or too long.

We each need to be mindful of our health and that includes our mental health. Now we realize
how that accumulated clutter causes us stress and there is a solution to get rid of that stress.
Put on an attitude of being ready to laugh and set your intention to have less stuff and have
more order. Be sure to laugh your way through the process and celebrate along the way or
certainly by the end with something that brings you joy.

Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson

Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson

Elisa Hawkinson
Professional Organizer | Author Calming Your Chaos | Leader of the Smooth Organizer Community
www.elisahawkinson.com

about

Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson

 

 

Since 2000 Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson, author of Calming Your Chaos, has been teaching and training businesses and individuals to support anyone who is not naturally organized on a consistent basis to be just that. Her HOW2GetOrganized seminars, workshops, and speaking along with hands-on coaching and coaching by phone has evolved from her natural genetic bent for order. Efficiency, calm, productivity and profitability are increased with the help of HOW2 and Elisa.

 

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How to Right-Size

How to Right-Size

How to Right-Size

Ruthless * Generous * Audacious * Intentional *

How to “Right-Size” to Calm Your Chaos

In a recent interview with a new client, I was asked what could decluttering be done instead of hiring a 
professional organizer. The words on my bookmark spell it out exactly from my perspective; may
sound tough but let’s get serious and get the work done. This may sound tough but it takes toughness
to tackle the piles.

Think of putting on a white painter’s outfit and put these four words on the two arms and two legs,
then take serious action!! You will need to use these words to motivate and inspire yourself to be
steadfast in your effort to have less chaos in your home and possibly your car.

BE . . .

Ruthless

Without pity or compassion along with being almost merciless tackle and tame the chaos that has over
time accumulated. Be unrelentless and unforgiving in letting go of all the stuff. You could almost say, be
vicious or brutal or cold-blooded with the piles of junk or stuff if that suits your sensitivities better. You
could even be merciless with the cr*p that has piled up that stresses you out by just being in the room.

Generous

Being generous is showing a readiness to give more of the stuff, junk or items than is expected. Could
say “She was generous with her unused Christmas decorations or the dishes or clothes (that no longer
fit)”.

Allow yourself to be lavish in your giving away or letting go of stuff. Do so in free-handedly and
unselfishly or in a magnanimous way. Be openhanded, and bounteous in letting go.

To not be generous is to be mean and unselfish according to the Google dictionary.

Audacious

Think of you showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks in reducing chaos. In this case, taking
the bold risk of letting go of items not needed or used to make room for space and calm to enter your
life, including your home, family and business.

Show an impudent lack of respect for so much stuff not being used or needed. Be courageous in tackling
the piles that have accumulated in a room, on the bed, in the garage or the bathroom.

Intentional

Think of being deliberate and fully conscious or mindful of what is being kept in your home. Is each item
needed often and used? Be full of purpose in what is being kept and stored in the home. Versus what
could be let go of to sell or donate. Keeping something that you might one day need that leads to an
overabundance of stuff accumulating. Then you get to the point where the item cannot be found, or it is
outdated by the time it is being searched for.

To sum it up, to right-size is to edit or reduce the contents of every drawer, closet, and cabinet down
and every surface area to the items used regularly along with those needed items. Think Need~Use all
the time and collect the items to be donated in a container (bag or box) to be delivered frequently to a
thrift store with a mission that aligns with your heart. That makes giving even more meaningful by
supporting the mission of the thrift store. When sold the item(s) that you gave provides financial
resources to support thrift store’s mission.

Finally, arrange kept needed and used items with ‘likes’ going together; all the cereals
together, all the snacks together, all the mugs together, all the dressy clothes together, all the athletic
clothes together, all the casual blouses together. The same goes for keeping the cleaning products
together, all the pots and pans, all the small appliances.

Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson

Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson

Elisa Hawkinson
Professional Organizer | Author Calming Your Chaos | Leader of the Smooth Organizer Community
www.elisahawkinson.com

about

Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson

 

 

Since 2000 Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson, author of Calming Your Chaos, has been teaching and training businesses and individuals to support anyone who is not naturally organized on a consistent basis to be just that. Her HOW2GetOrganized seminars, workshops, and speaking along with hands-on coaching and coaching by phone has evolved from her natural genetic bent for order. Efficiency, calm, productivity and profitability are increased with the help of HOW2 and Elisa.

 

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How to Select a Professional Organizer

How to Select a Professional Organizer

How to Select a Professional Organizer

Just like finding the ‘right’ doctor isn’t easy, neither is finding the right professional organizer,
so let’s review some key things to consider in making the right selection:

Referral
If someone you know well has worked on a project with a professional organizer and found the
experience helpful, then it would be worth talking with that organizer first.

Know why . . .
Why do you think you need and organizer? What specifically do you want help with? That is
your starting place to find a professional organizer. What are you expecting the organizer to
do for you? Do you want to be taught a system for organizing your personal chaos or do you
want pressure exerted on you to buy expensive furniture? 7 Reasons you might need to hire a professional organizer

Ask the organizer . . .
It is important to know how long the organizer has been working in her/his profession and why
that profession was chosen. Hear his/her stories of working with other clients like the most
challenging or funniest situation. Does that professional have a heart for truly helping other?

Your Story
Share your goal and intention for what you expect to accomplish along with the time frame.
Then ask the organizer if that sounds reasonable and how could she or he help. The organizer
can then let you know what the time frame means in terms of the time commitment for each of
you. That is assuming you will be working on ‘homework’ between visits that will need to be
factored in. Having a clear objective and schedule is most helpful for a successful and timely
outcome.

Assignments
You will need to know what part each of you will play in the project, or what each of you will
do. Will you be expected to do some homework between visits? Will you work side-by-side
or will the organizer, having been given direction by you, do her/his magic to bring order to
your chaos?

Trust
Do you get a ‘gut’ sense you can trust the organizer to hear your concerns about your
sensitivity toward your items being touched. Get a sense of how carefully your personal items
will handled. Organizers are limited in helping clients when the client is distraught over any
and every item being touched. The fear of dust being agitated in the air when papers are
touched can be so extreme that working in that environment is almost impossible for an
organizer. Some clients have anxiety over an old empty envelope being thrown out and that
leaves the organizer at a loss to be helpful.

An initial trial session may be of help to test that the chemistry is right to accomplish the task.

Watch
Be aware of being judged for the state of your home or room being worked in. Talk about how
you are feeling. Does the organizer cause anxiety to surface? That is not uncommon. The
process of organizing can stir up some anxiety. But it will settle down as order takes shapes. If
you feel anxious, tell the organizer and listen to the response you get. Hopefully, the organizer
can slow down or back off working in a specific area that can be tackled later. Make that
suggestion if the organizer does not. Postponing a specific area is perfectly acceptable.

Does the organizer have a sense of humor? Can you both laugh about odd things found in even
odder places or are insensitive comments made? Chunks of dried paint in an old paint can have
been the cause of many mutual chuckles. No one needs to feel blamed for that, but it feels
good to laugh at that oddity. It has only happened a couple times in the last two decades of
helping clients.

Whatever your personal concerns are, honor them, use your voice and see if you and the
organizer are in alignment. Asking for help and finding the right person to help calm your
chaos is the important first step for more peace in your life.

Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson

Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson

Elisa Hawkinson
Professional Organizer | Author Calming Your Chaos | Leader of the Smooth Organizer Community
www.elisahawkinson.com

about

Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson

 

 

Since 2000 Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson, author of Calming Your Chaos, has been teaching and training businesses and individuals to support anyone who is not naturally organized on a consistent basis to be just that. Her HOW2GetOrganized seminars, workshops, and speaking along with hands-on coaching and coaching by phone has evolved from her natural genetic bent for order. Efficiency, calm, productivity and profitability are increased with the help of HOW2 and Elisa.

 

Join Our Community of Amazing Women

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How Does Laughter Impact Your Health?

How Does Laughter Impact Your Health?

How Does Laughter Impact Your Health?

Did you grow up with laughter being part of your family culture? Do you realize how critical laughter is you to health?

I did not grow up with laughter and was actually told not to smile much because it showed
my crooked teeth which my parents could not afford braces. But, I did learn to laugh and
laugh hard and often through my husband and his family. I have been blessed to learn to
laugh at so many things. I’ll even tell embarrassing stories on myself just so I can have a good laugh.

Now as a caregiver to a husband with dementia, laughter is a huge piece of my own self-care so I am constantly on
the lookout for something I see or hear to laugh about.

I recently read about a man caring for his wife with dementia. As they were driving on a trip, his wife told him she
was looking out for dead animals on the side of the road. Rather than worry about what was said as something so
out of character, the man quickly responded, “Oh, hon, I didn’t realize you were so hungry.” She thought that was
very funny, and so did I.

I am not laughing at people with challenges but somethings just hit my tickle bone and that is good for me. Almost
3000 years ago the wise King Solomon wrote, “A cheerful heart is good medicine . . . . “(Proverbs 17:22a NIV)
Another way to say that is, being cheerful helps keep you healthy. If he was the wisest man of all who are alive
today, Solomon might even agree that laughter is indeed “the best medicine”. I take a dose or more a day for myself
and it relieves some of the stress out of life and caregiving.

Think about how by God’s design, laughter boosts both physical and emotional health. It’s many positive effect on
well-being can strengthen our resiliency and help us cope better with the stresses of life in all its forms. Experts
say that laughter:

  • Strengthens the immune system by increasing antibodies
  • Relaxes muscles throughout the body
  • Reduces tension, anxiety, and stress
  • Lowers bad cholesterol and elevates good cholesterol
  • Increases blood vessel elasticity
  • Increases energy
  • Prevents heart disease
  • Improves social connections
  • Shifts perspective in a positive direction

At least once a day, find something that makes you laugh, and sometimes a big belly laugh, with friends, movies,
books, and internet videos. Do it for your health. Be a good self-care giver.

Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson

Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson

Elisa Hawkinson
Professional Organizer | Author Calming Your Chaos | Leader of the Smooth Organizer Community
www.elisahawkinson.com

about

Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson

 

 

Since 2000 Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson, author of Calming Your Chaos, has been teaching and training businesses and individuals to support anyone who is not naturally organized on a consistent basis to be just that. Her HOW2GetOrganized seminars, workshops, and speaking along with hands-on coaching and coaching by phone has evolved from her natural genetic bent for order. Efficiency, calm, productivity and profitability are increased with the help of HOW2 and Elisa.

 

Join Our Community of Amazing Women

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How to Keep the Joy During the Holidays

How to Keep the Joy During the Holidays

How to Keep the Joy During the Holidays

How would this month of celebrations and activities become a memory for keeps for the entire family?
Let’s start with some strategic planning. The month may include performances, parties, special meals, gift
exchanges, along with time Let’s take a look a key tips to help improve the outcome of each piece of the
holidays.

Think about the memories being created by the choices being made about each of the holiday activities and
the accumulation of them during the month. The sum total could be wonderful or withering or disappointing. Design your memories from the beginning by considering each component.

Time ~ has its limits so work within the time you have each day and make sure you cherish rest and
sleep. Don’t skimp of sleep along with hydration and exercise. You want to stay healthy through the holidays! Reminders of these important items is essential because we humans need reminding about selfcare.

Meals ~ that may be interchanged for a specific night work could be an alternative night. Be flexible. Keep
the menu nutritious and simple and easy to prepare. Eat together as a family and keep conversation upbeat.

Help ~ Include asking for help from family members and stay calm and pleasant, even cheerful, through
working together. A mother may want to hire helping hands if small children are at home. That frees up
mom to get more done and also have the child’s needs met. An extra playmate may help the child to enjoy
the holidays more too.

Performances ~ Mark the calendar for the performance(s) that you would like to attend. Limit the number to keep the calm and joy of the season flowing throughout for all the family members.

Parties~ The same limitations hold true here too; just how many parties need to be attended? The extra
time to prepare for the parties and work meals around them can add so much stress in addition to getting
child care arranged and the cost.

Gifts~ Using the internet makes shopping quicker and easier. Plus avoidance of seasonal germs is a benefit. Having a gift wrapping station in the home with the wrap, scissors, tape and gift tags ready makes wrapping a gift on the day of purchase so much calmer than the hours it could take waiting to do them all at
once. That I learned from experience when the children were younger.

Laugher~ along with seasonal music keeps the immune system stronger so be sure to keep the air full of
music and laughter.

Each of these tips are helpful throughout much of the year so don’t limit the strategic planning to just the
holiday season. Joy to you this Holiday Season and Merry Christmas.

Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson

Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson

Elisa Hawkinson
Professional Organizer | Author Calming Your Chaos | Leader of the Smooth Organizer Community
www.elisahawkinson.com

about

Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson

 

 

Since 2000 Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson, author of Calming Your Chaos, has been teaching and training businesses and individuals to support anyone who is not naturally organized on a consistent basis to be just that. Her HOW2GetOrganized seminars, workshops, and speaking along with hands-on coaching and coaching by phone has evolved from her natural genetic bent for order. Efficiency, calm, productivity and profitability are increased with the help of HOW2 and Elisa.

 

Join Our Community of Amazing Women

Be the first to know about upcoming events, new shows and stories!

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