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My Garage is Dead to Me

My Garage is Dead to Me

Fasten your seat belts, Spring has arrived. Its time to clean: just open the drawers, organize the cabinets and wash the family vehicle. Pull out the hose, back the car out of the garage and…wait, my car is on the street. Why isn’t the car in the garage?

We have an oversized two car garage! A dream come true for anyone living in the city or a suburban life with children. A garage, the walled and roofed building adjacent or attached to a home used for storing vehicles. What a great concept. No more hunting for spaces, no rain on your Honda after you just washed it; you’ll no longer have to shovel two feet of snow or ice off the windshields.

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At our house, “the garage is dead to me.” I can’t get in. It is piled with chairs, light fixtures, holiday decorations, books, bikes and lawn mowers. I work in an elementary school so once a year during Spring break, I spend five to seven days sorting, compiling and hauling items from that valuable space. It’s a hidden dungeon of family and prior owner relics. We just can’t seem to make improvements. Some members of the family think that we might need the old rusty tools or lamps because they “might be worth something”, so we keep them.

I know that we are not alone. Just this week, Carlos Lozada of the Washington Post reviewed a book titled, Empire of Things, How We Became a World of Consumers, from the Fifteenth Century to the Twenty-First, by Frank Trentmann. The author thinks we are consumers; that is our identity and we came by it historically because the author argues that personal collecting is found as far back as the people in Renaissance Italy. We simply keep consuming and accumulating.

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The prior owner of our home left many items. We agreed to let her leave them because we knew it was difficult to deal with a lifetime of belongings to move across country. Then my parents gave me their furniture when downsizing. After that my husbands parents moved, so more items. Of course we collected our own “treasures” from estate sales and yard sales as our family grew. Before you knew it: a huge collection of items that arrived at the last stop in our home, the garage.

Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing is a bestseller. In it the author directs you to ask when you hold an object, “does it spark joy?” Apparently there are a lot of people finding joy in their garages.

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So, now what to do? First, pretend you are moving. The day you leave, many of those garage trinkets will be given away at a very stressful time. Do it in advance. Second, because you are pretending to move, take a moment to see if someone in the family will benefit from some of your family heirlooms. Then, call Goodwill. Third, put the items on Craigslist, letgo: Buy and Sell Second Hand Stuff or Zupa:Buying and Selling Made Easy. Yard sale preparation is very time consuming and requires muscle. I’ve found that the money is often not worth the time invested, having done several myself.

Yes, my garage is dead to me now; but, I have begun the journey towards bringing it back to life again. Our county allows for several special trash pickups each year and last week I did my first one for 2016. All the objects that I cannot pass on will be placed on the curb, little by little. One project a day, after work and on the weekend will push me a bit closer to an organized life and of course seeing my ride off the curb!

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Featured photo credit: https://picjumbo.com/testdrive/?i=HNCK0942.jpg&l=https://picjumbo.com/sportcar-waiting-in-garage-at-night/#1 via picjumbo.com

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My Garage is Dead to Me

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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