Here’s What a Sustainable Relationship with Your Home Looks LIke

One of my favorite teachers, Gay Hendricks, says that we live our life in one of four zones:

  • The Zone of Incompetence: I believe this is the uncomfortable place we ALL start, every time we begin to master a new skill. The temptation is to get STUCK, depressed, and stay in this zone.
  • The Zone of Competence: for me, it’s such a relief to get to this zone. A feeling of mastery grows as we realize we can do it well—most of the time!
  • The Zone of Excellence: In this zone we can even teach others how to do it, and we feel even more positive about our life.
  • The Zone of Genius: Now we’ve developed personal power—and we enjoy offering our own unique methods and programs to support others!

As I pondered Gay Hendricks ideas, and remembered moving up the Zones in my life, I realized that the homes in which I’ve lived and worked in have literally partnered with me to move me forward.  How?  Because I’ve consciously partnered, in sustainable ways, with THEM!

Here’s how you can create the same kind of conscious, sustainable relationship with your home:

  1. To move up from the Zone of Incompetence, make changes in your home that allow you to feel more PEACEFUL
  2. To move up from the Zone of Competence, make changes in your home that allow you to feel more POSITIVE
  3. To move up from the Zone of Excellence, make changes in your home that allow you to feel more personally POWERFUL


TO MOVE UP —> allow your home to help you feel more PEACEFUL!

tableWhen we start mastering something new, the Zone of Incompetence is a pretty uncomfortable place to be!  And when we are frustrated and short-tempered, it can be harder to make progress and move up into the Zone of Competence.

So, when I find myself in the Zone of Incompetence, I know cultivating inner peace will give me the compassion to forgive my mistakes and keep going.

To cultivate PEACE, find something to organize.  Usually, when I’m in the Zone of Incompetence, it’s not hard to find a messy surface!   And when I’ve spent an hour de-cluttering, my mind is more spacious and open to creativity and new ideas.

If you keep going with your de-cluttering projects, you are going to end up with a high-functioning home and workspace—which will give you that sense of inner peace!

Because when we’ve created order in our homes and workspaces, we consistently experience the calm, centered, congruent feelings that accompanies inner peace.  When our home and workspace embodies peace, we do, too. And when we embody peace, we more gracefully move up to the Zone of Competence.


TO MOVE UP —> allow your home to help you feel more POSITIVE!

home-officeAfter the clutter is gone, it is important to focus your attention on your big vision, your long term goals.  How?

Remove everything from your space that does not relate to or support that big vision.  Display reminders of your goals.  This is where Feng Shui can really help activate your intentions!

Cultivate a POSITIVE vision by creating an altar that activates your goals.  An altar is any item or grouping of items that alters—in a positive way—your mood and energy level.  It’s impossible not to be up-lifted when we are surrounded by images that anchor our intentions!


TO MOVE UP —> allow your home to help you feel more PERSONALLY POWERFUL!

excellenceHow can we allow our Genius to deliberately create a bigger vision for our lives, and for our work in the world?  Allow your home to help you embody your PERSONAL POWER!  Personal power is not power over others. It’s personal mastery of your time, space, money, attention, energy.

To cultivate PERSONAL POWER, put yourself in the “command position” and surround yourself with ONLY those colors, textures, furnishings, accessories and symbols that make you feel powerful.  In the command position, your back is against a solid wall and you can easily see who is coming in the door.


TO STAY THERE: Celebrate — and Focus on Serving Others!

microphone_audience1When you get to this level, your focus will be on serving others in a bigger way. And, don’t be surprised if living in your Zone of Genius gets you started learning something new… and you find yourself back in the Zone of Incompetence.

Just look around for something to organize and the resulting inner peace will propel you up to the next zone!

This process really does work.  Back when my home was a mess, so was I.  I wasn’t able to manage my time or energy well.  I was depressed and unhappy.  But as I went through the process of getting rid of the clutter and creating sustainable systems, I changed.  I began to correspond to those changes, becoming first more peaceful, then more positive, then more empowered.

I would love to hear from those of you who are also experiencing the benefits of creating sustainable relationships with their homes!  Share you comments with us below.

In A Relationship: You + Your Home

You + Your Home

hands-2In our culture, we tend to use the word “relationship” to denote the experience of relating to another person or group. But we all have a relationship with our home. When we think of the home in which we live, we each have our own unique experience of relating to that space.

Our experience of our home is either healthy and uplifting, raising our mood and energy level. Or not.

Your + Your Home = Sustainable Relationship

We start creating a sustainable relationship with our home with curiosity and willingness… to learn how we are affected by our homes and they are affected by us.

To have a sustainable relationship with our home, we must partner effectively with it. We must appreciate and value it, become more sensitive and aware of it. Utilize and maximize its strengths, and eliminate or minimize its weaknesses.

When we work with our space, creating order and beauty, we are setting up a sustainable relationship that allows our space to work for us. A space that works for us is a powerful resource, a partner, that allows us to live our best lives, doing what we were born to do.

Stay tuned. Each week in June, I’ll be sharing strategies to create Sustainable Relationships with your home.


How to Create Systems

This is the second article in this Sustainable Systems series.  For the first article, You’ll Never Be Organized Unless You Can Create Systems, click here.

What can Systems Do for You?

office-deskAs a Holistic Professional Organizer, I help my clients learn what I had to learn myself 25 years ago: how to create systems for running a home efficiently.

The word system comes from the Latin systema, which means a set of interacting and independent components forming an integrated whole.  It derives from the more ancient word sunistemi, a verb denoting union.

When you create efficient, effective systems for your home, it’s like you are setting up your home to be what I call your “success partner,”  and your home is then able to serve the full measure of it’s creation.  I believe our homes can do more than shelter us and provide structure for our activities.

When you have systems in place, your home will support you to live your dreams, to become the most successful versions of yourself.

How to Create Your Systems

When you create systems for your home, you deliberately decide:

  1. the functions you want each room to fulfill (e.g., meal prep in the kitchen)
  2. each step of those functions (e.g., mixing, cooking, baking)
  3. the equipment you need to support each step (e.g., pots, pans, bowls)
  4. the most efficient way to arrange the items for best work flow

You’ll need to create a system for every household task.  When I had my systems in place, I found I didn’t need all those built-in storage units I’d been dreaming about!

Below are some highlights from some of the systems I created in the early 80’s that I’m still using today:

  • Meal Prep: We clean as we prepare the meal, so that by the time we eat, the counters are clear.
  • Dishes:  We use the left side of the sink for dirty dishes, the right side of our double sink serves as a place to drain and dry everything we wash by hand.  When we start the dishwasher, we flip the “Dirty” card magnetically clipped to the front of the dishwasher to the “Clean” side, and we all take turns emptying the clean dishes.
  • Laundry:  We installed shelves and hanging rods in the laundry room.  Dirty clothes go into the laundry basket in our closet.  Once a week, I gather up the empty hangers, put them on top of the dirty clothes and carry the basket to the laundry room.  After sorting, washing and drying the clothes, I pull them out of the dryer and hang or fold them immediately.  Delicate items hang dry.
  • Bathrooms: I keep old washcloths under each sink, along with spray cleaner.  Each evening and morning when I use my sink, I wipe it down with the washcloth.  Each bathroom gets a complete cleaning once a week.
  • Our Bedroom: We own the most luxurious bed linens we can afford, and I love to walk into our room when the bed is made, so I take a few minutes each morning to create that loveliness for myself!

About Storage Containers

You’ll notice that buying lots of storage containers is NOT part of creating your systems.  I’ve seen people spend hundreds of dollars on plastic bins they didn’t need once we’d de-cluttered and created their systems.  I’ve also seen people spend thousands of dollars on built-in shelving and garage systems to store items they really didn’t use or need.

To save your money, I recommend against buying storage containers until after you’ve:

  • completely released everything you don’t use, need, and love
  • gone through the 4-step Creating Systems decision process above

I’ll share more about when and where to buy storage containers in my next blog post.  If you’d like my expertise as you create your systems, I’m offering a special $200 May Savings on my Mess to Success HomeStudy course.

  1. Find out more:
  2. Click to register and, in the Coupon Code box, type MaySavings to receive this $397 course for only $197… only until May 31!

You’ll Never Stay Organized if You Can’t Create Systems

Having a “Place for Everything” Doesn’t Keep You Organized!

closet-newYears ago, when I was getting rid of clutter and trying to get our home organized, the quote “have a place for everything and everything in its place” was the only organizing advice I could find.  So, it became my motto.

Our family had grown quickly: at age 21, I had our first child.  When she was in kindergarten, our fourth child was born.   Baby clothes, cloth diapers, toddler toys, Big Wheels, puzzles, dolls and trucks filled each room—and the garage, which also included the baby carriage, folding stroller, picnic basket, pool toys, soccer balls, and bikes with training wheels.

At first, I believed that if I could just buy enough bookshelves, cupboards, dressers and file cabinets, my organizing dilemmas would be solved.  I would have “a place for everything!”

I dreamed of being able to line the walls in the garage and family room with built in shelves and cupboards and drawers.

Thank goodness I couldn’t afford built-ins—because more storage wasn’t what I needed!

I Needed Systems!

At a parenting conference I found a brochure about organizing that explained systems, and I began to realize that I lacked a system for all my routine tasks:

  • laundry
  • dishes
  • cleaning the house
  • washing the diapers
  • tidying up toys
  • preparing meals

The biggest reason why my home was chaotic: I didn’t have a system for any of these routine tasks.  Before children, I’d been able to get everything done in my own meandering “when-I-feel-like-it” way.  But when my life got crazy-busy, that didn’t work.  After a sleepless night up with a sick baby, coming downstairs to dirty dinner dishes and a toy-strewn kitchen, with unfolded laundry on the table was a depressing start to my day.

The Business Dictionary defines a System as “a set of detailed methods, procedures and routines created to carry out a specific activity, perform a duty, or solve a problem.”  I needed to start thinking of running my household like a business, with a system for each activity.

If you want to learn more about creating systems, stay tuned for more of my of Blog posts and make sure you’re signed up for my email newsletter.  I’ll be covering systems each week during the month of May!