Japan, KonMari and sparking joy

I’m super excited to write this post in Tokyo, Japan. A project is taking me to this fantastic country and what a great way it is to learn more about organising in small spaces. For us in the Middle East, space is often not an issue. Villas and apartments are substantially larger than in Europe or even in Japan, where the average apartment is a mere 59.7 sqm (642.6 sq ft).

It’s not surprising that the Japanese have taken residential organising to a whole new level.

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How to have an organised home office

Keeping the home office organised is a very common struggle for many of my readers. One of my clients and I spent a very productive decluttering session, purging, sorting and organising her papers and files. It was so rewarding seeing her achieve peace of mind by knowing where everything is now stored and according to her preferences.

I want to help you to be as productive as you can be in your home office and compiled some top tips for you:

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Get ready for tax season

One of the beauties of Dubai is its tax-free nature. Unfortunately, some of us still have to file a tax return in our home countries. I’m lucky and only have to submit a “mini” tax return. The supporting documents, receipts and forms are already available and kept in one folder. It shouldn’t take my accountant too long to complete it. It’s not always this easy to get ready for tax season.

I’ve had my years where I scrapped for the receipts to get the most out of the different allowances and deductions. The stress of knowing that I had it but couldn’t find it drove me nuts. Until I changed to a system of collecting and sorting tax-relevant documents throughout the year, tax season always had a reputation. Please note this is not tax advice, just general information: Here are my tips to make tax season easier for you:

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Get it off the ground

When I looked for a title for this blog post, I had some ideas and googled for some inspiration. The Free Dictionary sealed the deal for me. It gave an example for getting things off the ground: “When we get this event off the ground, we can relax”. Isn’t relaxation what we want?! I took it as a sign and carried on!

If you are looking around your house, are you overwhelmed and don’t know where to start? Do you feel relaxed? If not, win some ground by picking things up from the floor. It’s amazing how calming removing a few pieces will be. But why is this the case?

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Wrap up the year

Year End PartyThe last few weeks of a year always seem to be a mad rush. Last week, we had our company year end party which was such a great laugh. In less than 2 weeks, we’ll celebrate the birthday of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and Christmas. For a lot of expats in Dubai, this will be time to travel to their home countries and many are also thinking how and where to spend New Year’s Eve. I’m so happy that all this is sorted and I’ve some peace of mind!

Yet, as we’re getting ready to celebrate, it’s also time to wrap up 2015. Nowadays, year end is almost forgotten and few people only use it to reflect. Instead, we’re already focusing on the next year. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s finish this year first. Here’s a list of activities to wrap up in 2015:

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Time to toss your make up

This week has been a fun filled week in Hong Kong. My study buddy Fernanda and I loved our course given by the wonderful Eve. Learning about colours and style during the day was so inspiring! Fernanda and I applied our knowledge in the evening, venturing through the myriad lanes and small shops before stopping for delicious dinner and drinks.

Following the theme of this week, I wanted to write about the expiration dates of cosmetics. Do you know when to toss your make up? The little symbol of an opened jar with a number tells you for how many months you can use a product after its container has been opened.

Make up expiration

Wouldn’t it be great if all manufacturers used it? Unfortunately not all do. This timeline comes in really handy!

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Create your NOW (National Organising Week)

Have you heard of NOW? The National Organising Week? In Australia and New Zealand, the AAPO runs its annual campaign about the benefits of being organised this week and they partner with charities who’ll take any pre-loved items.

About 16,500 km away from Sydney, I’ll be working with clients on their own NOW here in Germany this week. I’ve been approached to organise a basement and am rather grateful for the cold and rainy weather. Moving unwanted furniture or bags full of stuff upstairs can be exhausting.

To start an easy NOW for you, look around your home and get rid of things you no longer want or need. Here are 15 suggestions of things you can declutter within 10 minutes:

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Emotional Clutter – Get a tissue

About 2 years ago, my mother and I embarked on our own little decluttering journey: We went through the storage room which also included some of my grandma’s stuff. Even though my grandma passed away in 2000, it was a deeply emotional process. For my mother, it was a final good bye from the woman who meant the world to her.

There was the manicure set which my grandma frequently used. It had surely outlived its days – it was so loved. It was time to throw it out. Besides, my mom probably had 2 or 3 manicure sets of her own. Yet, she struggled to put it in the bin.

The question asked most often that day was: “How about we give this away? You don’t need and there are other people who’ll enjoy having this item.”

Knowing that she could help other people made the process of clearing the storage room and letting go of my grandma’s belongings a lot easier. She would make someone else happy with things she no longer needed or wanted. And for that, my mom was grateful.

You may have gone through similar experiences. A relationship has ended or loved one has passed away. You don’t want to simply throw out their things. Emotional clutter, just like physical clutter, can weigh you down and pause your life. But what do you do with emotional clutter?

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Is your stuff bringing you down? The cost of clutter

Last week, I was helping a client transform her spare room filled with moving boxes into an arts and crafts haven.

Until then, walking by the room was dreadful for my client. “Where do I start?” was a big question and it was just easier to keep the door shut. Yet, she could feel the impact the room had on her, even with its door closed. It brought her down. You should have seen the smiles on her face at the end of our session. Her spirits are high and she’s now all set to start her first sewing project.

How is your stuff bringing you down? What are you paying while living with clutter?

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Your well deserved closet make over

As temperatures are rising, what are you doing with your wardrobe? You’ve probably read articles on how to change your clothes. But why wait for the end of a season to do so? Now is the time!

I’ve started clearing my closet on a regular basis and couldn’t be happier. We only wear 20% of our clothes. So why do we keep the other 80%? I’ve consciously decided to part from clothes which no longer fit or I don’t like. Remember those Christmas jumpers. Well, they’re gone, too. If you’re in the Middle East, there’s no need to wear them. Not even at Christmas!

This weekend is the perfect time to give your wardrobe the make over it and you deserve! Here are 10 easy steps to create the wardrobe of your dreams:

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