This episode is about the life-changing magic of getting organised and how it improves not only the home you live in, but also how you feel about your home. You’ll discover how to find more time in your day, be prepared for a crisis, what the mental load is, and why decluttering improves your mental health. Meet your hosts Bonnie and Lily – two sisters and mothers with backgrounds in Education and Psychology – with a passion for decluttering, organising and going to the bathroom in peace!
- The Mental Load by cartoonist Emma
- Download our free Organising Cheat Sheet
- Join the Little Home Organised Community on Facebook
BONNIE: Hello and welcome! I’m Bonnie
LILY: I’m Lily – and this is Little Home Organised – the podcast dedicated to helping you declutter, get organised and reclaim time for the things you love.
BONNIE: Like no you don’t have to have an index, my football boots live at 4….
LILY: Linen cupboard lane. *laughs*
LILY: It is so satisfying truly when you think I need this item, I know exactly where it is.
BONNIE: Welcome to the very first episode of Little Home Organised. I am very excited to be here Lil, how about you?
LILY: Pretty pumped, we have been talking about this for a long time, so I am glad we are finally recording and getting ourselves out on the air.
BONNIE: Yes I think there are a lot of people who are feeling like organisation is really something that they would like to be a little bit more on top of, so what better time than now. I think before we get into it we need to tell our listeners just who we are so they can have a little background about us.
LILY: Sure thing! So I am Lily. I have a Bachelor’s in Psychology and I am really interested in knowing how organisation and mindfulness around how we live our lives in our homes affects our happiness so I have a huge interest in organisation in general. I am also a pretty organised person and a mum of a 4 month old and I have just actually spent the last couple of years living abroad with my husband in the US, Canada and New Zealand in a variety of jobs where organisation was key. What about you Bon?
BONNIE: So I am Bonnie and I am a professional organiser. I have been running a company now for 9 ½ years called Little Miss Organised and before that I was a primary school teacher. I am also a mum of three, 5, 4 and 2 and I am married to a shift worker and of course when we were pregnant with our first child we decided to buy a fixer-upper and spent 5 ½ years renovating it! So organisation is my middle name baby.
LILY: So when you think back to your younger years Bon, when did you realise that you had a bit of a weird obsession with getting organised?
BONNIE: I think it was in our second year of marriage when my husband got shafted to Townsville which is Far North Queensland, Australia and we had 6 weeks to move and when I moved up there I got a teachers’ position taking over someone else’s classroom in the middle of the year. There were all these old dusty resources in the cupboard that I knew we weren’t really using and so I went through and I culled and sorted and organised and cleaned that classroom to within an inch of it’s life. I stepped back afterwards and thought this feels really good and I knew then that I had done something wonderful. 6 months later I started Little Miss Organised and I started helping other people do the same thing to reclaim space and time and just feel pretty wonderful about making a really good transformation in their home. I really love helping people take their clutter and turn the chaos into calm and just especially working with mums and dads and families and helping them reclaim that space and, you know, be proud of the efforts that they have done. All of a sudden it is normal for you to show your visitors your walk-in-robe because you are so excited that you have finally organised it. *laughs*
LILY: Like I can think of times when people have come over and I have felt the opposite. I have been sprung and they have rocked up to the house unannounced and I have thought I have not had time to organise or they will come inside and I will say things like, “Oh excuse the mess.” *laughs*
BONNIE: And especially when you have the cleaner coming and you think, “oh quick the cleaner is coming tomorrow, I have actually got to clean up before they come.” I mean why is that something that we feel like we have to do?
LILY: And I think that there a lot of things with organisation that will improve people’s homelives where they can have a lot more of an open door policy for those unexpected visitors and today our topic is really going to dive into that.
BONNIE: If you feel like getting organised is a big priority for you but you are just not sure where to start, we have got an organising cheat sheet that would be perfect for you. Go to our website littlehomeorganised.com.au/organisingcheatsheet you will actually find the formula that we use at Little Miss Organised to organise any space and every space. It is called the 5 P’s and that is just a little freebie from us to you to help you get started on your organising journey.
BONNIE: Today’s topic is about getting organised and how it will change your life, and there is a couple of things that we would like to mention. Reasons why you should get organised and reasons why it will actually change your life.
LILY: Now keeping in mind there is many, many reasons that we feel it is obviously going to improve your quality of life; your day-to-day living so we have kind of narrowed it down to what I would call our top 5 reasons that getting organised will change your life.
BONNIE: The first of those reasons is because when you are organised you can actually find the things that you need the first time. I mean we have all had that situation where we can’t find the car keys and we need to get in the car quickly and that frustration then ensues and you are just madly searching for things and you are getting more and more stressed and flustered and overwhelmed. I am getting stressed and flustered just thinking about it. *laughs*
So being able to find things when we need them is really important, and the way that we actually find things when we want them is we need to have a home for them because if we don’t have a home for the items how can we know where to find them. It is a bit like thinking about our street addresses we all live in this particular street and our house is this particular number and we live in this suburb, in this city, in this state, in this country. The same thing has to actually apply for the stuff in your homes. No you don’t have to have an index, my football boots live at 4 …
LILY: Linen cupboard lane. *laughs*
BONNIE: fourth shelf on the left of Linen Cupboard Lane in my house but you do actually have to have a home for everything so that when you need those football boots they are exactly where you left them.
LILY: It is so satisfying, truly, when you think I need this item I know exactly where it is. I don’t know if you have been in this position before I can remember times when I have not been able to find something, I have then gone to the shops and brought said item only to months down the track find it
LILY: And that has happened to me a bit because I have actually lived a lot of my life in boxes having lived overseas as I have mentioned in several different countries, we take certain times with us because we packed pretty light and then you know a lot of my life has been in boxes so did I end up decluttering that? Did I throw that? Did I donate that? Is it in a box? Have I just misplaced it and then I go and buy it and then re-find it and that is when an organised system is really important.
BONNIE: That is really true, that frustration of buying duplicates because you have lost the first one, I mean how many times have you brought a birthday card for someone and you have put it in a safe place and then you forget where that safe place is. But imagine if you actually had a gift wrap station and a box you would know that that birthday card was sitting in that box ready and waiting for when that birthday actually arrives.
LILY: Yes and so I think being able to find things when you need them, having a home for those things, that is one way that being organised definite does help. I also think the biggest gift it gives you is having time and that would be the second thing that organisation the way it changes and improves your life.
BONNIE: Do you know what? Out of all the resources in the world like gold, silver, copper, iron all those things what is the one that you spend and you cant ever get back is your time and a lot of people don’t actually realise that. When you say yes to one thing you are saying no to another thing. So when you are saying, “No I can’t come to the party because I have to tidy my house,” that means that you are missing out on that chance for relationships and social interaction and things like that. So when you are actually more organised you can say yes to those random impromptu social engagements because you don’t actually have to spend that time organising, shifting stuff at home and trying to stay on top of the chaos.
LILY: I think it can be really subtle and it can be a snowball effect of jobs that need to be done in your house. I am just going to do this thing and oh you’re a parent so your child says I need XYZ and you are addressing that problem with that child but to address that problem with that child and be able to finish your job and to be able to get out the door you need to find that item but you don’t quite know where that item is but you think it is in that room and then suddenly not having those good systems in place is depriving you of the time that you actually want to spend your day doing things that you want to do. So it cannot always be really obvious and can be subtle and we can look back on our day and think what did I even do today? Or why didn’t I end up going to that place that I said that I was going to and do that thing. How many times have you said I am going to go for a walk or I am going to unwind and try and do some exercise or maybe I will even have a bath tonight or whatever relaxes you. But then you look back and think why didn’t that happen? Was is the fact that I changed my mind or was it the fact that suddenly the day disappeared from me and I am not quite sure how that happened and it can be something that is seriously subtle that leads you to feeling a little bit deprived of time to do the things you do actually want to do.
BONNIE: I think something that really helps you have more time is when you have got a good system in place. So when you are setting up your paper work actually invest the time in doing is properly so that when mail comes in you know how it is to get actioned and where it is to go if you actually need to store it long term rather than I will just dump it on the table and leave it for later. Because when we do that we are actually being really unkind to our future self and I know the amount of times that I have looked back and thought if only I had cleaned those dishes yesterday, if only I had finished that cycle or finished that task yesterday rather than today I have woken up and I feel that I am already behind and I am chasing my tail because I didn’t finish it yesterday.
LILY: I feel that way about kitchens. Kitchens are my thing, like I feel that it is the central hub of the house and each night I love to have it back to a beautiful clean slate. When I get up in the morning it means that I have a fresh start. It means that anything is possible. I could be as dramatic to say that anything could be baked, anything could be cooked but really it just about starting from scratch, starting from square one and having everything clean and hygienic but it is that sense of calm to start your day. I feel like if you start your day in chaos it can like kind of tilt things and it can alter how you feel depending how sensitive you are to your environment as well.
BONNIE: I think a clean slate is really important for your mental health as well and that is the third thing I want to talk about because getting organised actually does improve your mental health and that starting with the clean slate I think is the most important thing. If you have had a rough night’s sleep and you have to get up and still chase your tail from yesterday then what sort of mood does that put you in and I know that as a parent and as a wife I am probably not in my best form when I am starting the day already behind. So for me, school lunches for example, they have to be done the night before otherwise the morning of trying to get ready for school/kindy drop off I am just a raging mess and my poor kids think “who is this crazy woman that is our mother??” and I just don’t think that is me in my best state. I don’t think that starts me off on a good slate for the day so that’s why it is really important to be prepared the night before and make your following day a little bit easier and I think it really helps you have a better frame of mind and be a nicer person to be around.
LILY: Seriously like anything that you can do to reduce your unnecessary stress and anxiety in your life is going to be such a positive addition. If you can spend sometime setting up those systems and getting a bit more organised and changing the way you run things in your house to optimise how your household functions, it will affect your mental health. On the track of mental health there are many things that affect people in many different ways. For some people seeing clutter around their house is crippling, for other people clutter around their house is not something that they would necessarily notice.
BONNIE: It is comforting to some people. It is a security blanket to some.
LILY: Yeah and that is something that they need and we all have those security blankets in our life and that might be one way that it manifests for them. So it is different for everybody. So if the clutter in your house is crippling you absolutely addressing that issue is bound to improve your mental health you can bet on it.
BONNIE: Along that line of mental health this cartoon came out (I think it was a few years ago now) by a French cartoonist named Emma all about the mental load and how it was invisible burden. In her cartoon she states that mostly women in heterosexual relationships bear the mental load but I am happy to report that with my experience in working in homes I am seeing a lot of couples really embracing a shared burden of the mental load which is really lovely to see. The mental load is all about those tasks that are not tangible so the remembering that it is someone’s birthday and you have to buy a present for them. Then remembering it is the cupcake drive at school, the mother’s day raffle, the this the that and I have got to call the bank and double check on our loan and I need to book the gardener to do this. Just all these tasks that don’t have any tangibility to them but they still need to be done to keep a household functioning and they can be crippling if one person is carrying all that load or by themselves.
LILY: The clearest way I can describe the mental load is if you imagine if your house is a big long hallway and you see lots of rooms and as you walk down that hallway you look to your left and you see the child’s bedroom and you see that shirt, that pants that need picking up and you walk into the room and you look and see that book and you think that’s a school book and that has to go in the library bag. I need to pick that up and put it in the library bag. You continue down the hall and as you are walking down the hall you look to the right and you see something in your lounge room and you see that item and you think that not supposed to go there, oh that’s that bill, oh did I pay that bill? Oh I did pay that bill, Oh no I didn’t pay my car insurance though, I better go address that. You pick up that item and suddenly you are thinking about the current insurance item and you are walking down the house and you start thinking about insurance policies and are we even with the best insurance company? I remember reading that article about that financial adviser and he was saying that you should do this, what did he say? I really need to get that book, actually that book is in storage, I should probably get that book out of storage, I really don’t know which box that is in, I really didn’t organise it. My goodness we could go down this road
BONNIE: Wow you are exhausting me just talking about it.
LILY: But that is the mental load that is going on in someone’s head but the person who is sitting at the end of the hallway sees that person walk down the hallway and they have no idea what is going on in their head.
BONNIE: That is very true.
LILY: That is the idea of the mental load that someone is carrying that and we are all carrying a mental load but being aware of who is carrying what mental load and what mental processes and what mental baggage in your house is it far, is it even and when we think about improving our mental health I think identifying the mental load is a huge part of getting organised because when you create better systems in your household you can start to take things out of your head but also you can share that load evenly with you and your partner however the load is distributed in your house.
BONNIE: That brings me to my next point which is all about having better relationships, because when we are in a better state ourselves then we can be the best version that we can be as a wife, as a mother, as a partner and I certainly know that when I am feeling chaotic and cluttered because my area around me is chaotic and cluttered then I am probably not the nicest person to be around and I am probably not the most compassionate and empathetic especially to my family and I know that that really affects my relationships.
LILY: I think about how we view ourselves and how that affects our mental health so if you come into your home and your ideal self is someone who has got their life together, is really organised, is a go-getter, is this, is that whatever you idolise. If that is the idea you have of who you want to be and you look at your home and it makes you feel poorly of yourself it makes you feel really negative of your qualities. It makes you feel let down by your own actions. If you become bogged down in who you are because of how your home looks then that is not working for you. So if you become more organised there can definitely be huge improvement on how you feel. There is this little old quote that I remember as a teenager I think I printed it out and stuck it on my wall for ages but it really did speak to me, it is quite simple. “Your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your character, your character becomes your destiny” or something along those lines but it was really true because it highlighted that something so simple and innocent as a thought in your head can soon become who you are and how you act on an everyday basis and if we are not feeling good about ourselves that is then going to affect our relationships with others so when we are talking about your ideal self versus your actual self if there is that disconnect, obviously your expectations of what your ideal self need to change or you need to address those things so that you can start living the life that you really feel passionately about living.
BONNIE: So it is about bridging the gap between reality and the ideal.
LILY: Beautifully put.
BONNIE: Which is something that we talk about a lot in our sessions with clients because we often have an ideal version of ourselves. I would like to be Betty Crocker doing a 12-course meal for 20 guests every weekend thank you very much. The reality is that we have 3 small people and that is not actually going to happen because we do not have time to do a 12 course meal or have the space to host a 20 people so bridging the gap is a really big step towards getting organised and actually making that list and crossing things off the list that don’t actually apply and that are not very real anymore.
LILY: So the final reason being organised will improve you life has been so clearly demonstrated in 2020. COVID-19 of course hit and I think if you are being organised when a crisis like 2020 happens or unexpected emergencies so maybe you live somewhere where you get tornados, hurricanes and other natural disasters one of the things that has been highly during Coronavirus is how much our lives run in a certain order and this pandemic has totally changed that suddenly our lives in the day to day running has changed. Some people are suddenly working from home and they have never done that and they are taking Zoom meetings in their house and suddenly they are home schooling their children or doing distance education. We are not going to coffee shops, doing all these things that they were doing depending on where you live and how that has changed for now, but it totally changed our lives. If you think about your household how did your household cope when all those changes happened. If you are someone in Australia and suffered through the bush fires recently this year do you look back and think I thought I was prepared but I wasn’t prepared and I have changed how I organise things in my household in case that ever tragically happens to us again.
BONNIE: One of the systems we encourage our clients to use is the Grab ‘N Go folder. The Grab ‘N Go folder is your essential paperwork that you might also have a scanned copy on the cloud but you actually need the physical copy, so like your passport, the birth certificate, your marriage certificate. A copy of your insurance and rates and stuff like that just for those identity points so if you lose everything is say like a fire and have to go and prove your identity because your wallet has been stolen you actually need a bunch of stuff to prove who you are. So having that Grab ‘N Go folder means that when the siren goes that a cyclone is coming and you have to get out now you can grab that folder and you can go and get your family to safety knowing that you have still got the documents that you need to recover and rebuild once the crisis is over.
LILY: I think you can see that even with these 5 simple points your life is improved with more organisation and there is plenty more things that organisation will do to improve your life, from saving money to really taking care of things that we really value and keeping them in the their best state. There is so many things that being organised can do for you. So Bonnie we have talked about this topic, now how can we go ahead and help ourselves get into the mindset to get ready and get organised.
BONNIE: Each week we are going to do a tidy task and a tidy task is a simple practical way that you can take some of the tips that you have learnt from this episode and apply them in a very practical and functional way in your life and this weeks tidy task is just 2 questions so I want you to ask yourself:
When I am more organised I will ………….?
Fill in the blanks, so someone might say:
When I am more organised, I will have time to do sewing.
When I am more organised, I will be able to find my car keys.
When I am more organised, I will have time to go on a date with my spouse, wouldn’t that be nice.
LILY: I miss the old date night.
BONNIE: Me too but you have to bring it back and get very intentional with it when you become a mother or a father otherwise, they just go out the window.
The second question that I want you to ask yourself is
How do you want your house to feel……..?
Do you want it to feel functional, beautiful, welcoming, comfortable? I want you to pick two or three words that describe how you want your house to feel.
LILY: What I would do with those words is put them up somewhere, where you can look at them and be reminded of the feeling you want to have when you declutter your home. So maybe it is somewhere you are going to look at it every day, at the top of a mirror, in your bedroom or a mirror in your bathroom or on your fridge something that you are going to look at consistently or maybe you have just one specific space in your house you think that’s the room I want to tackle. So what you could do is put that message in that room so that when you look at that room and you see it and you are dissatisfied you look at that word and think I can have that and that is really inspiring and it is helping me feel motivated and get in here and tackle this.
BONNIE: It is a goal to be able to look towards that end result and think I know where I want to go and so I know how to get there on this journey and I know why I am doing it, because I think once we know our why then it is easier to know our way.
LILY: Now if you are anything like me when you get really excited about something you really want to get in there and do it and it definitely is a part of my personality I just get really pumped up. So if that’s you and you’re listening and you think YES I am finally feeling ready and I am going to go into that room and start but I am not quite sure how, well we mentioned earlier that we have this cheat sheet that we have made. The idea of that cheat sheet is that it is just a simple layout that you can apply to any room in your house 5 basic concepts that will take you from the cluttered space that you see right now and it will help you get more organised so that it becomes the space that you are hoping that it will be. Really simple and you can just head to that link which was littlehomeorganised.com.au/organisingcheatsheet
BONNIE: But first it is time for Clutter Confessions!
LILY: I am excited for this segment on our show! We all know that we hold on to things sometimes a bit longer than we need to and it ends up being clutter in our house, but sometimes we hold onto things that are just plain weird and we hold onto them for a really long time. On clutter confessions it is an opportunity for our listeners to call in and you can leave an anonymous confession of something weird that you have held onto for a really really long time. I really feel like we all have that one thing at least that is a bit wacky so how about we listen to today’s anonymous caller and see what weird thing they have held onto.
CLUTTER CONFESSIONS ANONYMOUS CALLER: Hey guys my clutter confession is I have had this weird looking marionette puppet doll, it is a Mexican looking man that I have had with me in 4 different houses and I don’t even know where it come from but I thought maybe one day that it might be worth something but it’s not, it’s rubbish and I have taken it with me to 4 different houses. I have it here with me right now and it is creeping my kids out.
LILY: Oh, Yep a bit weird
BONNIE: Hey look whatever floats your boat mate.
LILY: No, I love that and I think that is kooky and I love the fact that it has followed him through multiple houses.
BONNIE: Yes and I think you truly treasure something if you have packed it up and moved it with you to more than one location.
LILY: You know one of the share houses I lived in, they had, this is kind of a weird thing that they kept, I can’t even remember where they got it from but they had a human mannequin like you see in a shop and I think they named it Alice. They would dress her up in different outfits and the house was like 3 stories, I know it sounds super glamourous and they would hide Alice in different places.
BONNIE: Oh, that’s creepy!
LILY: It was horrifying and apparently one time when they had a rental agency there showing the house they hid Alice in one of the closets.
BONNIE: Skeletons in the cupboard! *laughs*
LILY: How totally horrifying, absolutely creepy, creepy Alice. Bon you’re a professional organiser, people might think that you don’t hang onto anything weird but I reckon everybody does, what is a weird piece of clutter you have held onto?
BONNIE: Well, when I was a child I had a very realistic dream of becoming an Olympic swimmer, breaststroke was my stroke of choice. One of my Olympic idols was Gold medallist Kieren Perkins and his race that he was exceptionally good at was the freestyle 1500m. Him being so famous they brought out a dollar gold coin in Australia with his face on it and I must have gotten it somehow as a child and it has followed me all around Queensland. It is still in my memory box to this day and even though I declutter my memory box every 6 or 12 months I still look at it with great fondness and think oh that was such a nice dream to have as a child and even though it was completely unrealistic and I never trained hard enough to even get anywhere close I still look at that coin and it still makes me smile.
LILY: Oh, good old Kieren – the myth, the man the legend.
BONNIE: You know what I actually met him a few years ago.
BONNIE: At once of the fundraising events for the orphanage our family is involved in, he was there and I think he was there through a connection from our mother knowing his mother from Weight Watcher days or something like that. I got to meet him and got a photo with him and that dream came to a realisation. It was fantastic and it was good closure that’s for sure.
LILY: Aw. So was he like an idol or was there a little bit of crush there?
BONNIE: There was definitely a bit of a crush when I was a kid because he was quite handsome.
LILY: Was that weird then meeting him? Were you like a bit giddy?
BONNIE: I was a little bit. I did have a little bit of star shock and couldn’t properly formulate my words all that well.
BONNIE: It was a bit embarrassing but he has probably forgotten me so that’s okay. I have got my photo to prove it happened and I can sleep at night.
LILY: We would love to hear your clutter confessions and I know you all have them. We have all held onto something weird, wacky and wonderful. So to anonymously record your confession for the show and you may be featured what you need to do is head to our Facebook page Little Home Organised Podcast, once you are there you send us a private message and just send it as an audio file. Super simple, we will also post how to do that as a reminder and it can be totally anonymous don’t worry we won’t name and shame you and never fear we are all just a little bit weird anyway.
BONNIE: Well that’s it for this week’s episode
LILY: We hope you are feeling inspired to get organised and we want to thank you for subscribing to our Podcast and listening and we really appreciate you taking the time to have us in your ears.
BONNIE: Next week – the wardrobe woes.
LILY: Pooh! It will be a great episode. It is going to be the nitty gritty how to declutter and organise your wardrobe and we all do have a wardrobe woe and we will tell you exactly what that is next week
BONNIE: But until then remember progress not perfection.
LILY: See you next week,
VOICEOVER: We would love to see the conversation continue. Head over to the Little Home Organised Community group on Facebook, ask questions, find motivation and share your before and afters. If you enjoyed the show please help us keep going by hitting subscribe on Apple Podcast, Spotify or wherever you listen. It is free and ensures you do not miss an episode but if you really want to share the love leave us a rating and review. Trust me it makes all the difference in the world!