Recycle, Upcycle, Unicycle
Ask the Organizer
Mrs. Devora Farrell
During this COVID/quarantine time, I’ve pretty well been staying at home to avoid unnecessary risk (my white blood cells are chronically low). In addition to davening for people for whom this time is painful (may they be healed quickly!), I have tried to use the time to tackle my larger organizing projects (creating useful, editable Master Shopping Lists with items listed in the order they appear in the store to prevent forgotten items – why is that one thing always the ingredient that cannot be omitted or substituted?), revisiting old hobbies that got lost along the way, less pressured phone/video calls, drinking my daily allotment of water, downsizing belongings and then downsizing some more, learning more about lots of things, trying out new solutions to old issues, and so forth.
The financial impact of our current reality has been enormous for many of us. I have often worked with organizing clients virtually (England, Yerushalayim, Ohio, Baltimore…), and am growing that avenue more and more. For those who wonder how virtual organizing works, it basically gives the client more autonomy (always a good thing). They either send me photos of the areas of focus or show me around via their tablet/phone. They choose what I see and what I don’t see, so there’s less embarrassment for them. By the same token, I have fewer clues about their aesthetic, where they’re getting “stuck,” what they’ve tried so far that didn’t work, and just the volume of belongings. I’ve noticed that my virtual clients are less self-conscious and more relaxed. Since a lot of organizing includes delegating responsibility, this approach offers them more control. Virtual sessions are also shorter than in-person ones, therefore, they cost less.
I am also using this time to fine-tune my organizing skills by completing more coursework (Digital Tools, Strategies for ADHD, Helping People Who Hoard…), reading and reading some more (especially those books/articles by industry-known organizing gurus), trying out different systems in my own life, and paying attention to what does or does not work for me. I’m also making strides in actually returning calls (rather than having multiple conversations in my head), answering relevant emails, and following through rather than quitting when I lose interest.
As a creative game-player, I am currently involved in “what can I use that I already own, rather than buying something else?” as well as “what empty space can I create, rather than what can I fill it with?” and, the classic “beat the clock.” My friend, author Tova Younger (Hands On How To’s), eliminates ingredients one by one to see if anyone notices. If they don’t, she’s just saved on cost. She frequently challenges herself to see what she can go without, what she can get used, and how to double and triple up tasks (e.g. goes for a walk every morning, ending up at the local boys’ yeshiva, so they can answer, “Amein” to her brachos and vice versa).
This option is bound to stir up trouble, but here goes: I’ve started researching the sourcing and manufacturing of “fast fashion.” I think we’ve all gone to the large discount clothing stores and been thrilled by the low prices. My eyes were opened by the documentary “The True Cost.” Since then, I have chosen to not purchase anything else from those companies. I know that the loss of my purchases is not likely to effect change (unless all of you join me). At least I can sleep better, refusing to benefit from cruelty that I know about. The remaining options are much more expensive (except for thrift shops – I have found designer items with the tags still on), which I see as a huge plus. I now have a very motivating reason to buy fewer clothes. And owning fewer clothes means needing to take care of fewer clothes, as well as needing less time to choose an outfit each day. Also, I pay more attention to quality, since each item costs more, I need to make sure it is worth the cost. I am less likely to purchase anything I am “iffy” about. I am more deliberate in selecting only those items that do not evoke ambivalence.
Sometimes, particularly with home décor, I am enjoying DIYing my own versions of popular examples from high end stores. I also like to move things around, displaying them differently, just for a change of scenery. Another option is to take something manufactured for one purpose and using it for others (e.g. using now-empty glass jars for pantry storage). Spray painting the lids to look uniform upscales the jars so that they do not look like a kindergarten project. A Dollar Tree mirror can be used as a candle tray. Color-coding books to look prettier without interfering with their function.
Finally, what does a unicycle have to do with this? It doesn’t. I just liked the way it sounded with the other words in the title. And most importantly, it provides an excuse for bragging about my 7 year old grandson’s skill in riding one (Hi, Chaim Simcha!).
Brave enough to try a virtual organizing session? You can reach Mrs. Farrell at (973) 919-7761 or firstname.lastname@example.org