Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast. Christine? Yes, Christine? You know with the social distancing implemented due to COVID-19, that your listeners may not be in an empty nest right now, and they may be struggling with an unexpected full nest. I mean, listen to that racket in the kitchen. You’re right about that. You are listening to the Not So Empty Nest podcast, with Coach Christine. Is that better? I think at least for the near future it might be a good call. Sounds like a plan.
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Hi! This is Coach Christine of the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast, and…
Deirdre: Deirdre Dolan Nesline from Declutter By Deirdre, and the Magnificent Aging podcast.
Christine: I’m so excited to have her here. Deirdre is on my 2020 Your Empty Nest Coach Quick Tips team, and it hit me today that for many of you, you may have time to work on some decluttering that you have been putting off. So we did this on the fly. This morning, I said, “Deirdre, do you want to be on the show? Let’s do this together.”
Christine: So, here we are, and this is not planned, off the cuff. We’re going to talk about things that you can do while you’re home. Things that you’ve probably have been putting off for years. There is a lot of stuff. When we talk about decluttering, not do you have the physicality of removing an object from your life, you also have the emotions that go with it. If you listen to my podcast, you know I talk a lot about becoming the CEO of your life, the Conscious Effective Olympian, and in that, you have a fence of things that you can control, and most of the stuff in our house is outside of our fence. So we have to watch the thoughts that we have about the things, as we declutter. A lot of times we’ll look at something and think I have to hold onto this because my mother would be horrified if I didn’t keep it. That’s a thought that you have the option to choose to keep or not keep. So as Deirdre walks us through some things that we can do, keep this in mind, and I’ll kind of give you reminders as we go. How’s that sound, Deirdre?
Deirdre: Awesome. Thanks for doing it. It occurred to me the other day that if people are at their home, and they’re so bored, that they want to declutter, this is beautiful.
Christine: It is.
Deirdre: Because most of the time, people want to push it off, right? They don’t want to do it, just like you’re saying. It’s too emotional. They don’t know where to start. They don’t know where to put the items. So I’m very glad that we’re talking about decluttering while you’re stuck in your house today.
Christine: I think it’s great. There’s so many things, like how can I survive? It’s like, oh my goodness, this is a great opportunity. I’m hoping that we never have this again in our lifetime, right?
Christine: Let’s embrace what we can do.
Deirdre: Yes. So I just wanted to talk about being efficient, really. Because now that so many people are working from their homes now, in addition to having their home filled with people, that they’re not normally working while the people are there. So I thought about what are three areas that we tend not to be efficient in, and so that’s probably your photographs and your memorabilia, your paperwork, and especially, it’s IRS tax time, now, and then your time management, if there is such a thing, as time management.
Christine: I love that.
Deirdre: Oh, my gosh, I found a box of letters from my freshman year in college, my first semester, from friends from high school. I knew I had it, and so I pulled it out the other night and began reading it. Holy mackerel! Hysterical and so loving and warm, and brought back the best feelings to me. So like that memorabilia, I’m going to keep that, because that gives me such joy, and there’s probably ten, and it’s so fun. When we get overwhelmed and get so much, and like you’re saying, people tend to give us guilt clutter. Do not accept that and tell them, “I appreciate it, but maybe you can do this with that clutter.” The photograph though, they can be in those binders, like from the ‘60s and ‘70s? Remember those? They kind of get stuck on there? So if they’re not organized into events or chronological order, or by people or location, you can do that now. I have a little trick to getting those pictures off, because they tend to get stuck in there.
Christine: Oh, excellent.
Deirdre: If you have unwaxed dental floss, you can saw back and forth behind the photo very, very gently. It might take you a little while to get through, but if that photo’s really stuck on there, that’s a great way to pull it off.
Christine: Oh, my goodness, that’s amazing!
Deirdre: Right? A nice little trick.
Christine: I love it.
Deirdre: So I would put them in piles as you’re going through. Decide how you want to put them, in chronological order, by person, by category, whatever you want to do. Each one, put it in that category at that time. Then, either put it into a photo safe box, or into the newer albums without that acid paper that eats your photos.
Christine: Got it.
Deirdre: Did you know that there’s an organization called Appo.org, it’s A-P-P-O dot org. It’s the Association of Personal Photo Organizers. They’ll help you create albums, digitize your photos, if you don’t want to do that.
Christine: That sounds amazing. I’m writing it down now, so I make sure I put it in the show notes.
Deirdre: Okay. Great. They get trained, a very nice group of people, and they’re local to most places.
Christine: That’s really nice. What are your thoughts on scanning photos, if someone has a scanner?
Deirdre: I think it’s a great idea. I think that they recommend three repositories for your photos, because actually, look at all the old photos, if you have them, from your family, from 100 years ago, even. They hold up.
Deirdre: They actually recommend that you do keep paper copies, but honestly, I mean, do you need the picture of your eighth grade trip to Washington, DC, the dome on the capitol building, and it’s all yellowed and blurry? You don’t need that. Get rid of that.
Christine: Right. That’s true. Yes.
Deirdre: If you want to declutter the photos that really don’t matter to your life now, or in the future, or that your kids might not have any reference.
Deirdre: Get rid of them.
Christine: That’s great.
Deirdre: Get rid of them. Toss them out.
Christine: It doesn’t spark joy, right? Is that what you said?
Deirdre: They do not spark joy. So I wanted to also talk about paperwork. If you’re giving attention to your paperwork these days because of tax season, why not get organized now for next year? It’s so frustrating to pull items for your taxes from all corners of your house. I mean, we have people hire us just to put their tax papers together. To find them in their home, and put them together for them.
Deirdre: After that, or as we’re doing it, we create a system so that we keep track of everything that they need for this year, right on the outside of a file folder, so that they can put in for next year, now that’s manually.
Deirdre: ‘Cause there’s two ways to declutter your paperwork, manually and digitally.
Christine: Got it.
Deirdre: Not everybody likes digitally, I have to say, and that’s fine.
Christine: Yeah, you know, it’s interesting because we have done our taxes online the last few years and this year I got an accountant and I’m like, where are the paper copies? I just want a paper copy.
Deirdre: Isn’t that funny?
Christine: It is. It’s really funny.
Christine: It’s probably generational, too. I’m guessing my daughter would not have the same concern.
Deirdre: Right. Yeah, it’s your comfort level. That’s my comfort level as well. I don’t mind having things manual, but then I do load them up and send them digitally to the accountant, and that works for me.
Christine: Getting ahead for next year, that is future you. You are caring for her, and helping her out, and she will thank you. A lot of times I find that when I know I should do something, but you want to procrastinate, that’s where I really try to tune into future Christine, and how does she feel that I have done the work now, and if it means I have one or two albums that I can look at that bring me pure joy versus 20, and I have to go through to find the perfect photo, or if it means I decluttered some paperwork and now I can just pick up that file, oh, my gosh, she will thank me.
Deirdre: She will. I love that working off that future Christine, and future Deirdre.
Christine: It’s so motivating, because you’re doing it for you. I love it.
Deirdre: Right. Well, what I did with my pictures, actually, is I took one pack and I labeled it Deirdre’s Favorite Pictures, and it seems to be the one pack that I go to and look at. With my paperwork in regards to that, I also have one and I call it Permanent File. That’s all the paperwork that I know that I’m going to need at some point in the future, and I want to be able to put my hands on it quickly.
Christine: That’s a great idea. Excellent.
Deirdre: I don’t go looking for it all over the place.
Deirdre: Even if it’s just copies of things you might need.
Christine: I have a file called Important Stuff.
Deirdre: Okay. All right.
Christine: I know where it is. Someone will ask me, I’m like, “Did you check Important Stuff?”
Deirdre: Perfect. Sometimes you go through it again a year later, and you say, “oh, that’s not so important any more.”
Christine: That is true. Yes. Excellent. Is there any other paperwork you think we should be looking at right now?
Deirdre: Here’s the thing, the past is now the past, so why not set up, like you’re saying, for the future. So what I like to do is, if you have a pile of paper and you don’t know what to do with it, and it’s staring you in the face, get a box of folders and start with the top piece of paper, and write on the folder what that is. Say it’s your electric bill. So put electric bill, put it in, put it to the side. Say you have the next piece of paper and that’s your phone bill. With a pencil this is, and this is all manual, you can do the same digitally. But write on there, phone bill. Put it to the side. You’re going to then have everything filed. It might seem redundant, but until you get used to it, it’s not as overwhelming to do it this way. Then what you do is, you realize, as you’re going through, oh my gosh, okay, so my electric bill and my phone bill, I paid them. What do I need that for? So now, you’re going to consolidate your files, you wrote them in pencil, or you put them into digital file folders, get rid of the excess, and just bring it down to bills. Or if you feel confident enough, not everyone does, and that’s why I suggest doing it that way, start out with a bill file folder to be paid, paid. That’s all you need, the two. Basically it comes down to, to be paid, paid, to do and permanent file, and that’s it. That’s what you need for that.
Christine: That’s great. I love that.
Deirdre: Usually, when you look at it, when you have a huge mess, it’s so much easier if you break it down into categories, as small of a category as you can get for yourself.
Christine: Excellent. That’s really good advice. Thank you for sharing that. I love it.
Christine: I think I always want to go to the big category first, so I like this idea a lot. I feel if you can go from a whole bunch of little things to one singular, that just feels so rewarding.
Deirdre: It is. It takes awhile for your brain to get that it’s okay, and it’s not such a big overwhelming task, because you’ve broken it down into teeny tiny pieces. Then, you get more comfortable, you can run and just put them in big categories.
Deirdre: I have something else, talking just about your office. Think about things that can get fixed that you haven’t, ‘cause you always say, “I’ll come up with a fix in the meantime.” Say your office chair is uncomfortable, so you take your computer and you sit in the living room. That’s your norm. But now, everybody’s home, and so there’s a whole lot of noise, and you’re like, “Oh, gosh, I can’t sit in that chair. It’s so uncomfortable.” Well maybe now is the time to go and research a chair and have it delivered to you, or maybe it’s time to set up an office space in a corner of your bedroom, where you can shut the door. Is that people know please don’t come in, I’m doing the work here, so that you can concentrate on that. It’s a good time, I think, to kind of look at the software and the hardware, and your equipment that you’re using, and make it work for you instead of always putting it off.
Christine: You are right on. It’s so funny because where I work at my desk, I’ve never had it, believe it or not, I’ve never had it set up so I could easily go from something to podcasting and back and forth. I would take out my mic, attach it in, and I’m doing it quite often now. So it wasn’t until this experience happened, and I had to bring the work laptop computer home, that I was like, I can’t do this all the time. So I have it set up perfectly now, that it feels so good. It feels so good, and three days in, the chair I was sitting on was a hard dining room table chair. Which is fine when you work, like you said, a few hours here and there, but day in and day out, no, no. Before we shut down here, and everything was like you can’t go anywhere, I was able to run into the office and borrow my work chair, and it makes a big difference.
Deirdre: It does.
Christine: It really does. I am so much happier sitting here. So I can tell you if you do not have good work space, Deirdre’s advice here is right on. You’re worth it. You are totally worth it.
Deirdre: Totally. So my last kind of thought is, now’s a time to make your life easier and more efficient. So take a look at your time management these days. Because if you’re used to working outside the home, and you had to do certain tasks and accomplish them in a certain amount of time, if you work and eight-, eight and a half-, nine-hour day, when you’re working at home, the thought is, well, I can do that later, because I can do this. Or I can throw my laundry while I’m doing my writing, or whatever it is. But that becomes confusing at times, so now’s the time to make your life easier and more efficient. And I would suggest to continue your normal schedule as much as you can, ‘cause at work you’re not going to throw in the laundry. Because what’s going to happen, is you’re going to get distracted by it, and it’s not three minutes to do the laundry. It’s like 15 minutes to do the laundry, and you’ve lost your flow.
Christine: Yes. Totally.
Deirdre: So when the washing machine dings I’m done, you’re like, oh, okay, I’ve got to go throw it in the dryer, ‘cause I don’t want it to get wrinkled, like that kind of a thing. That becomes stressful.
Christine: It does.
Deirdre: Because now you’re trying to accomplish your work tasks as well as your home tasks, and there is no differentiating it. It just becomes all mucked up, and you’re going to say, well, why aren’t I getting done what I usually get done, and I think it might be that, in addition to all the stress from COVID-19. [Indiscernible] your brain as well.
Christine: I know. What’s also important here, is that I know I briefly worked remotely and I know the amount of training that they would give you in working remotely, because it was such a culture change. Even normally, that is a big deal and takes weeks for someone to fall into a routine.
Christine: Now, to have all of COVID-19 restrictions, do I have COVID-19, could I possibly have it, added to your brain, as well as a fuller house than you’re used to, and nobody’s routine in the house being the same. It is so much. So really give yourself grace and patience as you adjust to all of this, and definitely that separation helps. It’s so helpful.
Deirdre: It is. I was just talking to someone about this the other day, as well. Everyone’s talking about working in their sweatpants, but to me, that creates a certain vibe, so I get dressed, and I’m ready to go. That sets the tone for me. I don’t find it to be as, you know, it seems like your sweatpants would be more comfortable, to me that’s not, and I don’t know if you’re finding that you’re a little more casual than what you expected, or your minds wandering a little bit more. Sometimes if you put on the clothing that you would normally wear to work, it might set a different tone for you. I don’t know, you might try it.
Christine: I think that’s important, figuring out what it is for you, that gets you in the right frame of mind. I did homeschool my daughter a lot of the years, so I was home a lot, so I learned how to separate the Monday through Friday from the weekend, which is a lot of it, too, is how is it different? So this time around, I was like okay, I don’t usually get to wear jeans at work, so Monday through Thursday I’m wearing jeans, but a nice shirt, and then Friday, I’m making myself wear dress, so I have a nice separation from Saturday and Sunday, when I probably will stay in sweatpants.
Deirdre: That is so smart.
Christine: Otherwise, it’s just like what’s the difference, unless you have your one, right now, especially ‘cause we can’t go anywhere unless you’re emergency personnel, you’re doing an emergency, or you’re going grocery shopping. So that Sunday morning when I grocery shop is very exciting. But otherwise, they all look the same every day.
Deirdre: Yes. I know. I only started doing that because I was dressing so casually every single day, and every day was the same, and so I’m like, well wait, why am I working on Saturday and Sunday? Oh, yeah, hello, I’m a solopreneur, so that’s one reason.
Deirdre: But the other reason it was because I just didn’t basically even know what the heck day it was, because there was no separation for me. So that helped me.
Christine: It’s really important. Definitely, listener, if you cannot get motivated, it doesn’t have to be everything, pick one thing that you normally would do in your regular routine that you can do at home, and that might be the first trigger for you to get you moving, and then the next day add something else. It’s a good baby step way to try it.
Deirdre: Yeah. Yeah. You know what I love too, just a little tip for working at home, is my egg timer. I like that better than my phone because I think with my phone, I get so used to the notification. With my egg timer — wait. Let me see if I can get this thing to ding. [Ringing] When that goes, I’m like okay.
Christine: Oh, so good.
Deirdre: So what I do is, I work in blocks of time, so the night before I figure out how much time I need for each task. Say for example, I’m coming up with this new PDF that I’m going to sell. So say that tomorrow, I’m giving myself 45 minutes to complete the introduction to that. So I set the timer for 45 minutes. If it’s not done in 45 minutes, it’s done. That’s all that I gave that amount of time to it. ‘Cause otherwise, I’m going to waste that time. So if I know that from 1:00 to 1:45 tomorrow, I’m setting up the introduction for the PDF for Decluttering Your Closet. I have 45 minutes to get that done, and that’s the amount of time it’s being given, and then, I have to move on. Because I think what also happens when you work from home is, you lose your sense of time management, whatever time management is, you lose that. It’s also, what I find, it’s a way to — and you tell me if you think this is correct, Christine, is keep your focus on the task at hand, and not be pulled into all the craziness and the sadness and the utter confusion caused by COVID-19.
Christine: Yes. I’m calling this a great opportunity to level up your life because so much of what I teach is working on how to be with yourself, knowing who you are and we now have this kind of forced opportunity to do that. If you’re not able to find the present moment, it’s very difficult to find who you are. So as you do this and you’re able to focus on one singular thing, and not focus on the thoughts that the news might have put into your head on COVID-19, or the anxiety that you have over your child who’s right down the hall and totally healthy, but your mind goes somewhere else. When you can focus clearly, you become more productive because to me, it’s almost like you gain time.
Christine: Because when you can focus on that one thing, I know that there are things that I’ll be like, oh, I’ll do this this weekend, and the whole weekend would go by and I wouldn’t have it done, where the weekends and the days where I plan like Deirdre does, I get so much done, and I still have time. It’s unbelievable. People don’t believe you, but it’s learning to, yes, be very present in that moment and work on what is currently in front of you, without bringing in all of those other things that I call outside of your fence, be it concerns of others, be it another project. You know what, if something pops in my mind, I write it down and I put it out of my sight, ‘cause I’m not allowed to focus on it on that time. So really important, and it’s a really good skill to learn that you can apply also to just daily life and being able to be present with somebody.
Deirdre: I love that. Yeah, I call it a life reset, too.
Christine: That’s why I was drawn to you at Shepodcasts Live, Deirdre.
Deirdre: Well, it’s a chance to set your life to make it easier and create new routines that actually work for you.
Christine: Yeah, and it all comes down to caring for yourself ultimately, all of this, whether it’s photos, paperwork. Mental health is knowing that you want to live in a more peaceful life, whatever that is for you, and figuring out what that is for you and picturing it in the future and then picking the one task at hand, focusing on it, and slowly working on that until you get to where she is. Things can change and be more powerful in your life, but every person needs to believe that that future version of them, is worth it. I think that’s where most of us get hung up, is Netflix is more appealing.
Deirdre: Here’s the thing, you can do what you want to do.
Deirdre: Going forward, and that’s it.
Deirdre: ‘Cause you make that change right now, and it has to be right now, in this moment. You make the decision, I’m going to make a change and do it.
Christine: Yup. You’re worth it. Well, this is a good start. We hope that this motivates and assists you. If you’d like to learn more about me, you can find me at my website, YourEmptyNestCoach.com, or wherever you listen to podcasts, my podcast is Your Empty Nest Coach. And for Deirdre…
Deirdre: You can find me at DeclutterbyDeirdre.com, or the Magnificent Aging podcast.
Christine: Excellent. And as always, remember that:
Christine and Deirdre: You are amazing!
Christine: See ya!
Thanks! Thank you! A huge shout out to every member of my GPS Support Flock. I invite you to fly on over to my website, or see my show notes, for a link to learn how you may become a GPS Support Flock member, where you will gain access to all of my programs, monthly workshops, group coaching, and more. See you there!