• Cheryl Libutti

Organizing in the Age of Covid 19

Well, it's been an interesting few months, now, hasn't it?? My goodness. I could write a book about all the changes our own family has encountered in the last 6 months and all the stories I've heard of what other families have endured. The good news is that my family is healthy, my husband is still fully employed, and after a 5 month hiatus, Pretty Neat Home Organizing is up and running again.

I did have to make the very difficult decision to shut down my cleaning business for now so I could stay nimble and keep my schedule manageable as I support my kids' return to school and ongoing hybrid (remote and in-person) learning. I'm hoping to relaunch in 2021 when our world is a bit more certain and reliable and I have the time, energy and availability to grow and expand and best serve our clients.

So what does home organizing look like in the age of Covid19? In some ways, very similar to this time last year. There are always people who struggle with chronic disorganization, depression, and anxiety that impacts their living conditions, and wisely choose to bring on a partner with expertise who can guide and support them. I am thankfully back to seeing some of my longer term clients, and the reunions have been wonderful! I am wearing a mask at all appointments, keeping a 6 foot distance if I can, and encouraging good air ventilation when possible, as well as plenty of hand washing. As we progressed through learning about the transmission of Covid 19, I felt more comfortable returning to people's homes as scientists determined that surface contact transmission was rare and face-to-face unmasked transmission seemed to be the main way for the virus to spread from one person to another.

In other ways, I have seen a real uptick in questions about homeschooling and setting up home spaces for that. I've seen people, including my own husband, set up a work from home area that is quiet, organized, and comfortable for sitting in front of a screen all day. I have heard of many people taking this slower pace of life and working from home time and diving into decluttering projects. I know I have tackled some dysfunctional cabinets and spaces in my own home and have felt great satisfaction with that- I even decluttered the last of the sippy cups from my kitchen! I have heard from donation sites that they are either not accepting any donations or are very bottlenecked from an influx of donations and limited requests for distributing their donations. It makes my work a little trickier as I try to assist clients find good homes for the things they are willing to part with, but with a little time and energy, I usually can find a great place to bring items.

I know that according to sales figures from the big box home improvement retailers, we as a nation are improving and fixing things in our homes that have been bugging us for years. Even in my own house, we are tackling a board and batten project next month that we've been talking about doing since 2018. Something about being home so much and for so long has helped us all collectively look at our spaces and make needed changes and updates. I know that when Marshall's and HomeGoods finally reopened, the lines were outside the door filled with eager shoppers and the stores could barely keep up with the customer's demand for products.

Everyone is experiencing a different reality now, and some people do not have the mental or emotional energy right now to jump into a new project or make hard decisions. And that's okay. Self-care and being kind and gentle to yourself are important when you are feeling lost, stuck, or frozen in place. Others are able to critically look at some spaces and devise a plan for moving forward, and that's okay, too. I recommend that people look on Pinterest for ideas, save the ones that look appealing to you, and start making notes in an app like Evernote for ideas, resources, blogs, photos, to-dos, and timelines. An old-fashioned composition notebook works just as well for those not looking to be high-tech or need the tactile experience of touching the paper and referring to handwritten notes.

The biggest hurdle to WISHING that you could complete a project and actually DOING the project is a structured plan of steps to take and committing time in your calendar to achieve that goal. You need to block out time in your day and week, and commit to being focused on the task. That's one of the main reasons hiring an organizer to help works so well- we stick to our appointment, stay focused, and make progress and have fun doing it.

Whatever your focus is now, my hope is that you know help is available to you, either from your doctor, your friends and family, online communities (of homeschoolers, minimalists, moms, or whatever your tribe is), or your friendly organizer- me! This is a challenging, overwhelming, isolating, listless, depressing, scary, and head-shaking experience we're all going through and when we get out on the other side we will be able to look back and say we made it through, We survived. And we learned that we are stronger than we thought, and endured what we thought would never happen.

I am surviving a pandemic as a self-employed small business owner, living with two teenage daughters and a pre-teen son and when this is over, I may get a t-shirt printed up so everyone knows that nothing can scare me anymore.

Nothing. Seriously.

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