Streamlined Summer

I love Spring cleaning! Refreshing my space, my mind, and my physical being leads to so many benefits come summertime, but this year's Spring cleaning has an incomplete to it. Grandpa's illness, managing MegaBug while working full-time, starting a new business, and life in general left me exhausted with either no time or motivation to finish cleaning.

I was, however, able to attend a Spring Cleaning workshop at Rooted By Stacey with my mom in March. We did yoga, learned about Feng Shui, eco cleaning, and even tried a few delicious smoothies. From there, we went to the Little Village Toy & Book Shop where mom picked out an awesome book. She let me have it when she exhausted the wisdom from its pages.

Clearing Clutter: Physical, Mental, and Spiritual kept me up with our Coleman lamp. My favorite section was Physical, and it has motivated me to take control of our clutter and clear our surfaces. Each night I'd check out the Bagua Map to see which space reflected what. (I always strive to keep our kitchen clean, as it is wealth and prosperity!)

With each item I put away or donated, I could feel my head clearing. Not only were the tangible objects around me in place, but so was my mind. It's incredible how much the physical has to do with the mental.

I took a hiatus from organizing, which led to a pile up of dishes and Shelby dumping all of our laundry on what I call the Blues Clues chair. (A green version of what Steve sat in on my favorite childhood show.) My mind was full and I lost motivation to do anything about it after the past few weeks of weddings and losing Grandpa.

Then I received an e-mail in my MegaBug inbox from the School of Styling, an organization whose newsletter I subscribe to. They were advertising "Streamlined Summer Challenge," seven days of helping readers simplify and streamline their business/life. It seemed interesting, so I signed up.

Day 1 was finance, and I like to toot that my bookkeeping is impeccable. I reflected a tad, then counted down to Day 2. Oh my gosh did Day 2 hit me. The e-mail listed these facts:

  • The average American wastes 55 minutes a day (roughly 12 days a year) looking for things they own but can’t find. Newsweek
  • The average office employee spends 1.5 hours a day (6 weeks per year) looking for things.
  • The typical executive wastes 150 hours a year (almost an entire month), searching for lost information. For someone earning $50,000 a year, this loss is equivalent to $3,842 annually. Forbes ASAP

Yes! Yes! Yes! Finally statistics to back up my reasons for keeping a tidy space! I'm so sick of wasting time trying to find something in my desk. Over the past month I have yet to find my business cards and MegaBug checkbook (yeah, I really need to get on that), and recall having vivid memories of where I placed something and finding it within seconds in the past. When spaces are tidier, the mind is tidier. Not only is it easier to find something in an organized space, but with a clear mind, it's easier to remember where the item was left in the first place.

So Day 2 focused on digital clutter. Fortunately, this was last winter's project so I did a few simple maintenance tasks and am back to a clear desktop. Both of my inboxes have also been hovering at 10 or fewer e-mails. It's incredible.

Yesterday, Day 3, was about physical clutter- especially in the workspace.  Every room in our apartment has been decluttered (minus the "dining room table"), but the office. It's actually an office/garage/basement at the moment. Shelby and I have enough tools, computers, decorations, and other miscellaneous items for a house that organizing this room has been an elusive task.

Two months ago I was able to file all of our paper clutter away. That felt incredible! Then I sifted through items for the donate pile and cleared off the bureau, but now the desk is full and there are a few items around the room that need to find a better home than the floor.

This is my workspace. It needs to be functional.

In addition to, Shelby and I are buying a house soon. I moved three times last year, and because I never fully unpacked, my items were thrown in multiple boxes in disarray, making it harder to unpack on the other end. When we move this time, I want everything to be in a box with like items, and I don't want to move something if I don't have to. This is why it's imperative to donate or sell as much as possible.

The good news is I'm leasing a studio space with two other ladies beginning August 1st! I will take all of my film cameras to the space as decoration along with my studio lights, plethora of camera bags, and some pieces of equipment and office supplies. This will clear up our office/garage/basement considerably. But in the interim, I need to get on it.

These e-mails have inspired me to take the time and make our space as organized, welcoming, and efficient as possible. I'm excited to feel happiness when I look around, not dread.

One more element of the Day 3 e-mail was color, and its psychological effects. Blue encourages creativity and calmness, which I definitely need. So I went through my Bermuda photos and made Warwick Long Bay Beach my background. It was mine and Nanny's favorite beach in Bermuda, and the light blue waves paired with the pink sands is automatically setting my mind at ease.

Day 4 had interesting ways to tackle my to-do list from batching like tasks to block schedule in order to accomplish them. I love to-do lists!

On Day 5 I was tasked with creating my ideal morning. So here it is:
Expectation of an ideal morning...
6 a.m. Rise. Stretch. Take probiotic. Oil pull. Brush teeth. Sip green tea with lemon.
6:30 a.m. Say good-bye to Shelby. Prepare protein breakfast. Enjoy!
7 a.m. Assemble my wardrobe like a pro. Wear it proudly.
7:15 a.m. Answer e-mails and tackle small tasks.
8 a.m. Tidy up around the apartment (soon to be house!)
9 a.m. Get to work!
*On an ideal evening, I would go to sleep at 9 p.m.

8 a.m. Rise. Take probiotic. Oil pull. Brush teeth.
8:30 a.m. Prepare protein breakfast. Enjoy!
9 a.m. Answer e-mails and tackle small tasks.
9:30 a.m. Decide if I can wear the same outfit I had on two days ago.
10 a.m. Get to work.
11 a.m. Tidy up around the apartment.
*Go to sleep anywhere from 10:00 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. the next morning.

I tend to lose motivation towards the afternoon then gain it back at 7:30 p.m., working all hours into the night to accomplish what needs to be done. When I move beyond the hectic stage of establishing a new business and concluding wedding season, I'm going to make a strong effort to make my expectation of an ideal morning a reality.

I was a champ at Day 6. On this day, School of Styling focused on goals. Since I can remember, I have always written down my personal and business goals, the majority of which I've been able to achieve. However, Day 6 advised me to break-down my goals into monthly and even weekly assignments. I usually do it overall, by the year, and in daily to-do lists, but if I find the right planner, I'll give their break-downs a shot.

The final day focused on social media, which I really need to get on. It recommended writing out content towards the beginning of the week and scheduling it throughout. I always schedule my Facebook posts, but I don't like apps that will share to Instagram and Twitter from Facebook and vice verse, as it creates a link to the other instead of an actual post. Not as viewer friendly. However, the e-mail recommended the Later app specifically for Instagram. I'll give it a try.

Overall, I feel that I've been able to organize and plan how to organize the intricacies of life and business. I'm thankful I read Clearing Clutter and signed up for the Streamlined Summer challenge! Excited to pack up and implement these tactics at our new house.

Meg Brown