Home Organizing made SIMPLE

 I've felt a strong pull to simplify, streamline & therefore strengthen my life & business. After connecting with Emily Hamilton, owner of Gather by Emily, I knew I wanted - no NEEDED - to work with her! Emily is a professional organizer that goes beyond the usual call of duty. Her services spam from client & event hosting to business management to home & office organization. Ummmmmm, yes please?! Emily came over and in LESS THAN AN HOUR my entire home office was whipped into shape. IT WAS A DREAM! Click through the before & afters!

After we finished, Emily hopped on a Facebook Live with me to share her expertise with my Elemental Living Community - you can catch a replay here and check out her top tips below. 

Emily's Top Organization Tips:

1. Keep it simple - I often meet people who have bought right bins, made perfect labels, and ordered everything from the Container Store, but they still feel totally overwhelmed. Really the solution is to simplify and own fewer things. The fewer things you have to organize, the less time and resources you have to spend organizing them.

When you begin decluttering/simplifying, DO NOT BUY ANYTHING: no bins, drawer organizers, or file folders. You never know what you'll find along the way or what you can repurpose to avoid purchasing even more clutter!

2. Put things that are alike together. This not only helps you easily find items, but also alerts you when you need to buy more. It even prevents you from purchasing extra when you don't need to. 

  • All pens should be in the same place. Go through and test them and throw out the ones that don't work.
  • All batteries should be together, even if they aren't the same size.
  • All stationery, envelopes, stamps, etc should be together. 
  • Throw out or donate duplicates, worn out/broken items, or things you just don't like.

3. Paper and packaging is A PROBLEM.

  • Throw out mail as soon as you get it. 
  • Enroll in paperless billing and bank statements.
  • Go through receipts - toss for items that can't be returned. Scan items that need to be retained for records and save them on the cloud. *I like Cam Scanner.*
  • When you buy office supplies, toiletries, household items, etc, remove any extra packaging as soon as you get home. It takes up more space and and allows you to see exactly what you have easier.
  • Magazines, Toss them! If you have articles/recipes that you want to save, see if you can find them online and save them to Pinterest or a Bookmarks bar instead of saving the whole magazine.
  • Books, if you wouldn't spend your valuable time to read them again, donate them to the library for a tax write off or try to sell them on Amazon.

4. When you begin organizing a space, take everything off & out first. If you're clearing off your desk, take everything off. It will look MUCH WORSE before it looks better, but I promise this is more effective! File or scan papers. Toss old batteries, odds and ends, pens that don't work, etc. Put back only what you consistently use or what brings you joy.

For example, I hate writing with pencils. I don’t hand-write that many things for my job, so there is no need for me to have 20 pencils in a cute cup just because someone gave me a nice monogrammed set. Even though they’re pretty and I like the person that gave them to me, they have no function in my life. So, I put them in a bag and gave them to my friend who’s an elementary school teacher. She has plenty of function for them.

Now, you don’t have to throw out literally everything. Above my computer, I have a note from my best friend that makes me laugh every time I read it and ticket stubs from an event my husband and I attended together. Certainly these things don’t serve a particular function, but they make me happy to see them. That said, you do not need to keep every thank you note you’ve ever received. Encouraging notes and good memories are important, but so is the clear, white space we mentally and physically need for creativity and rest
— Emily Hamilton, owner & organizer Gather by Emily

5. Once you have made a point to HAVE less, make it a mission to BUY LESS. Bring less into your home/office and you'll have less to keep organized. Spend your time and resources on other people, experiences and bettering yourself, not on *things* that you'll use up or wear out.

Let there be Peace on Earth.

Let there peace on Earth…

and let it begin with me. The idea of “holiday stress” has always seemed solely cliché and never applicable to me. That’s most likely because for most of my life all I had to do was wake up, run downstairs, open the gifts, eat the ham and sweet potatoes, and revel in the magic of a holiday that brought so much happiness and cheer. As an adult (and mother) with gifts to buy, really long car trips to conquer, and multiple family occasions to attend, stress has surreptitiously slunk its way into my favorite time of year.

Since we were married, my husband and I have never lived in the same city as our families, both of which live in the same city. We kill the proverbial two birds with one stone when we make the haul home and get to spend time with both sides, which is so wonderful. However, this once-absent holiday stress first appeared when we started trying to be everywhere, for every event, for everybody. Well, not for everybody, for us. We didn’t want to miss anything if we didn’t have to, but this all-inclusive RSVP meant a lot of time bouncing around, a lot of sneaky glances at the clock, a lot of late arrivals, and for me, a lot of guilt. Add in two babies and very little sleep, and the whole thing was just plain exhausting. I felt like I could never really be anywhere. In my mind, I was already on to the next meal at the next house with the next family member, and the anxiety of disappointing someone was ever-present and ever-growing.  Talk about an out-of-body experience… We needed everyone’s patience and understanding, but we needed our own most of all.

In talking to friends and family, I learned I am not the only absent-minded guest at the brunch table (sub: dinner table, dirty Santa game, cocktail party). This year, I am making a resolution before the ball drops; one that will serve me well for what is left of this year. I am making a promise to myself to forgive. That’s right: forgiveness is the stuff peace is made of. How you ask? That stress (which leads to anxiety, which leads to edginess, which leads to guilt) can be curtailed with a little compassion and a lot of grace. And, it starts with me…or you. Instead of beating myself up for the array of things I should have done better, namely not getting so stressed in the first place, I vow to pat myself on the back, forgive myself for whatever I am thinking or feeling, and remind myself that I really am doing the best I can. When you are easier on yourself, you can be easier on others, and that is how grace can grow and peace can spread.

That said, if you Google “holiday stress,” you will stare down link after link of helpful coping tips and ways to ward off what seems to be a cultural norm. I browsed through several, and there is some really useful information out there. From sniffing citrus to taking a walk to just saying no to at least one holiday obligation or request, everyone has a list of go-to stress busters in easy-to-navigate slide show format. My biggest takeaway was a simple one. Nothing is perfect. Every family has conflict, every dinner has an overcooked turkey or undercooked potatoes, every gift exchange has at least one unscraped price tag. Try to shake the expectation for perfection à la Stepford and see that life is unfolding as it is meant to. It’s okay to be down, underwhelmed, or irritated at the holidays, just don’t let those emotions take root. Acknowledge them, let them go, and make room for joy. Don’t miss the smile on your child’s face when he opens his first present, the cold, creamy taste of the egg nog, or the familiar chorus of your family laughing in unison.

The peace is actually always there. We don’t make it; it was given to us long, long ago. It is our choice to deem ourselves worthy of a calmer, happier existence than is possible when our lives are stifled by stress. We deserve this always, but especially now. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? We have been given the ultimate gift. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Wishing peace, joy, and love to you and yours,

Melissa