How I lost and recovered my photos!

You will not believe what happened to me!

Very shortly after doing that Facebook Live session talking about the 3-2-1 backup method I accidentally dropped my external hard drive on which I store my photo collection or hub as we call it. I kid you not, I’m not making this up!

Imagine my shock, when I realised that the drive doesn’t show up at all when I plug it into my computer. Plus it makes that clicking noise, never a good sign.

At this point, I was grateful for two things:

  1. It was my own drive and not one of my client’s
  2. I knew the drive is 100 % backed up with Backblaze

So, no need to stress out and panic (I don’t even want to start imagining how it would have felt if I hadn’t had a backup …). Thanks to using the 3-2-1-backup-method, all I had to do is to go to my Backblaze account and restore the drive with a few clicks. Because it’s so much data, I am not downloading the restored files from the cloud but Backblaze does that and sends me a new external drive with all my photos. I haven’t made this up, it really happened and you can imagine how grateful I am to using this cloud backup service. It’s really affordable and soooo worth it.

Using the 3-2-1 backup method I of course have another backup on another external hard drive. However, I don’t backup daily to that drive. I could have restored everything from there but would have lost a few hours worth of work that I had invested to work on our photo collection over the past weekend. Hence, I decided to get the 100 % restore drive back from Backblaze.

Here is the link if you would like to try it out for free (2 weeks). And yes, it is an affiliate link but I’m not sharing this to make money but because I care about your photos and I don’t want you to experience the same without having a backup of your most precious memories.

Go to Backblaze

My KonMari Journey, Part 2 – Books

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. If you follow an affiliate link and purchase that product or service, I will be paid a small commission, however your cost will be the same. I only recommend products or services I know and trust.

In this post, I share my experience of using the KonMari method to declutter my books. The method is based on Marie Kondo’s book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I am interested in her approach, not only as a professional organiser, but also for us as a family.

Book decluttering using the KonMari method, during and after

If you’ve read my first blog post about the clothes category, you know that I actually started the process a while ago. I have to admit that there was quite a long interval between working through the clothes and the books. Marie Kondo recommends doing it all in one big sweep, or at least as fast as possible. Life happens, though, and personally I need to be in the right mood to tackle a project like this, hence the delay.

So, what happened? First, I have to tell you that I am a book lover and always have been. I’ve got an emotional attachment to many of my books. However, I have pretty much stopped buying books in recent years. Instead, I have become a very regular user of our beautiful local library. This obviously stops the influx, which is a good thing.

 

Working with subcategories

In contrast to the clothes category, I didn’t declutter the books in one go, but worked through various subcategories:

  • Fiction
  • Non-fiction professional
  • Non-fiction personal
  • Reference books
  • Travel books
  • Magazines
  • Cook books

There are more possible subcategories, which were not relevant to me, such as textbooks, comics, phone books or music books. I mostly used the coffee table in our lounge room as a sorting place and sometimes I added a trestle table.

To keep or not to keep … where the joy question wasn’t always enough

Marie Kondo says not to read the covers or extracts of books, but to pick one up and feel whether it sparks joy. I have to say: I found this more difficult with books than with clothes. I naturally did sometimes read the covers before I decided what to do with it.

Once I had decided, the books ended up in one of the following piles:

  • Keep
  • Keep but discard of when read once more
  • Keep for the sentimental category
  • Go to the German Community
  • Go to the OP shop
  • Go to the recycling bin

I did keep some books that I will eventually give away. First, however, I want to read them again (I often read books several times). So, I made a little pile of about 20 books that fell into this category. In the meantime, I have already reduced this pile and given away the ones I re-read.

 

Because I hate waste, I did some research first

Having lived in Switzerland for almost 40 years, most of my books are of course in German. This means that I can’t just bring them to the op shops here in Australia; at least, I wasn’t able to find one that is interested in these books. After quite a bit research, I found a retirement home with lots of German immigrants who love to read books in their native language. Knowing that the books would be appreciated made a big difference to me when deciding to let go or not.

I also knew that the local library has a magazine swap box in the entrance, so I brought all of mine there.

The professional, reference and travel books were the easiest for me to let go because I knew the contents were dated. That’s really a no-brainer.

Conclusion

Going through the process I was able to let go of about 126 books which represent almost exactly 50 %. Pretty good for a bookworm, don’t you think? I’m happy with the overall result, and it does feel great.

My top tip with regards to the book-category would be to think about where to bring the books you no longer want before you start the process.

 

Decluttering books using the KonMari method

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Related posts:

My KonMari Journey – Part 1 
What you need to know before starting with the KonMari method
Should You Apply the KonMari Method for Your Printed Photos?

My KonMari Journey – Part 1

As a professional organiser, I have of course read quite a few books by leading declutter professionals, my favourites being Julie Morgenstern and Peter Walsh. However, there is a relatively new book by Marie Kondo, the very successful author of ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’. Here is how I recently started my personal KonMari journey.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. If you follow an affiliate link and purchase that product or service, I will be paid a small commission, however your cost will be the same. I only recommend products or services I know and trust.

 

My KonMari Journey Part 1

When I went back to visit family in Switzerland in December 2013, my mum gave me this book (in German it’s called ‘Magic Cleaning – Wie richtiges Aufräumen Ihr Leben verändert’). Apparently, it was already quite popular in Europe, but I hadn’t heard of it yet in Australia. I read it during my stay there and found it OK, but not extremely revolutionary.

However, during the last year, my thinking has changed a bit, and all of a sudden, I have to say that her approach does hit a nerve. So, here I am as a professional organiser, reading her book again and most importantly, going through the process myself. Yes, in our own home! It’s not very cluttered, but read on to find out what happened.

KonMari – as she calls herself – doesn’t declutter in the way that most others do. One main difference regarding her method is that she concentrates on items that are staying in the home, which are only things that spark joy. All the other items and possessions are being thanked for having served, and then they are released and discarded by donating, selling or tossing them.

She very clearly recommends decluttering your home in a certain sequence, and most importantly, by categories and not by rooms. After creating a vision for the home, she starts with the clothes and ends with sentimental items. This makes sense to me because clothes usually have less sentimental value to us, and it gives us a chance to hone our skills before we come to the really difficult decisions.

I will write in another post about what you need to know before you start with the KonMari method (sign up at the end of this post so you don’t miss it).

Let me tell you about my first experience going through all my clothes (please note that you should only make decisions about your own stuff and leave the items that belongs to other family members alone).

This was my wardrobe before:

 

Wardrobe before decluttering with Konmari method

 

1. Take it all out

“O.M.G.” was all I could say. Have a look at that (and I consider myself as a woman who has not so many clothes …).
Pile of clothes before decluttering with KonMari method

 

Even for me as an organiser who has seen worse, it felt a bit overwhelming. The thing is, you not only empty your wardrobe, but gather all your clothes from wherever they are stored in your house.

So, I listened to my own advice – just start! – and followed the sequence that Marie Kondo suggests in her book. First up were tops, and then bottom parts, etc.

 

2. Let the sparkling of joy begin!

Again, as suggested by KonMari, I picked up every single piece and asked myself whether or not it sparks joy. If yes, it stays. If not, you thank the garment for having served its purpose and discard it. Sounds crazy? Exactly my thoughts when I read the book first. However, I’ve tried it and also did some more reading about gratitude, and for me, it does work. If you don’t want to say it out loud, just do so silently in your head.

 

3. Find a home for your clothes

One can hang or fold their clothes. KonMari highly recommends folding most garments (see here how she folds a t-shirt). We renovated our walk-in-robe a couple of years ago and put in some drawers and shelves, which is great. (If you only have hanging rods, there are other solutions, such as hanging organisers with drawers.) I have folded everything stored in my drawers, and I will need to buy a couple of containers for my tops that are still folded and piled in the ‘pancake’ way. Just want to give it a try.

This is an example with scarfs. I always used a special hanger but that never really worked for me. I love how I can now see at a glance what scarfs I have (after purging 50 %!).

Scarfs before and after folding according to KonMari

 

 

Finally, this is how my wardrobe looks now:

 

Wardrobe after decluttering with Konmari method

 

It might not look much different than the previous photo, but believe me – it actually does spark joy when I look at it! I have 5 full bags for charity and one bag of rubbish because the garments were stained or torn (if you wouldn’t wear it anymore, why would anybody else? Don’t donate those things). As mentioned, I hadn’t regarded my wardrobe as cluttered, but I was still able to let go of so many things.

 

Clothes donations

What is my verdict after the first step of my KonMari journey? I think it’s a really good approach because one creates a vision to start with, and then concentrates on the joy and positiveness. It absolutely does make sense to declutter by category, and not by room, even if it can be very overwhelming. If it’s too much, start out with a sub-category only. Most people don’t have the time to spend whole days decluttering anyway, and they might have to break it up into smaller bites due to the lack of time.

 

Having said this, I have only done my clothes and will now move onto my books. This will be a challenge because I looove books. Read here how it went (sign up below to not miss any future blog posts).

 

Wish me luck, and as always, I would love to hear about your KonMari adventure.

 

Related posts:

My KonMari Journey – Part 2 – Books
What you need to know before starting with the KonMari method
Should You Apply the KonMari Method for Your Printed Photos?

 

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Alone Time versus Me Time or How to Refill Your Watering Can

Do you ever feel exhausted? Do you neglect yourself because you’re always there for everyone but you? Do you feel you’re giving all the time? Then let me share something with you: a lesson I learned last year about the importance of recharging my batteries.

I feel soooo exhausted!

I started my organising business almost two years ago and have really enjoyed what I’ve done during that time. However, towards the end of last year I started to feel exhausted. Everything was going well and I was loving my work, but still, something wasn’t feeling quite right. It felt like my brain couldn’t take in anything anymore; I felt mentally exhausted and too tired to think.

During the summer holidays, having the kids at home, I had time to take a step back, have a good long look at my life and do some thinking. I had long conversations with a couple of very good friends that changed my perspective quite a bit, too. One day I listened to an interview given by my lovely yoga teacher (http://www.olgadossa.com), and it was such an eye-opener for me! You might have heard the ‘empty cup analogy’ – I had. Several times. But somehow, this time it really struck a chord!

It goes something like this: We are like a cup full of water – or if we use my preferred container, a watering can. But we can only give and share if there is enough water in it. If the watering can is empty, there is nothing to give. So we need to fill and top up our watering can regularly.

Very logical, don’t you think? And so true, I find. Thinking about this a lot in the last couple of months, I realised something. I had made a mistake – a big one! For some reason I had confused alone time with me time. Since our boys started school about four years ago, I’ve basically had six hours a day to myself (yeahhh). And this was my me time – right? Wrong! I misinterpreted it as my me time and thought I had plenty of it because I was mostly on my own – that is, if I wasn’t working with clients or meeting a friend or doing the grocery shopping or running some other errands. But being without kids or husband doesn’t mean that I automatically recharge my batteries. Of course not. But it took me until now to realise this. I did and still do enjoy my work. Working does top up my watering can to a certain degree because it gives me a great sense of satisfaction and fulfilment when I get to help my clients on their journey. But it also involves a lot of giving. Giving time to do marketing and administrative tasks that honestly don’t really fill my watering can, even though I like these tasks, too. And of course there are many other giving activities involved in a typical day, especially if you’re a mother. Often, we simply forget to put ourselves first and recharge our batteries.

If this sounds familiar, read on to find out how I fixed it.

 

How to fill and top up the watering can

1. What fills my batteries?
I had to think about what I actually need to recharge my batteries. It can be so many different things and it is different for each and every one of us. For me, it included doing Pilates and yoga, amongst a few other things. I noticed that this is how I can get grounded and connect with myself best. What fills your batteries?

2. Schedule, schedule, schedule!
Once I had defined what I need and want to refill my watering can, I sat down and scheduled time for it. This was quite easy for Pilates and yoga because I go to lessons and can write them in my diary. Other things, like reading a good book for pure pleasure or going for a walk, are a bit trickier because there is no day and time dictated by a teacher. So it takes a bit of discipline to schedule these activities. Look at them as you would any other important appointments. The only difference is that these are appointments with yourself.

3. Review and adapt
After a while, it’s important to think about what works and what doesn’t. Things change all the time. Maybe you thought that reading would recharge your batteries, but after a while you realise it doesn’t give you as much pleasure as you thought. Or maybe you did it during a time of the day that wasn’t ideal, or it was simply the wrong book. Find something else or reschedule it to a different day or time. I love walks, but more so in spring and autumn, when it’s not too hot and the air is so beautifully fresh and crisp. I don’t walk as often in winter and almost never in summer, but I do other things instead. Tweak the system as much as you want until it suits your needs.

As we all know, life happens. Sometimes we might not be able to invest enough time in our well-being. If this happens from time to time, it won’t be the end of the world. However, if we are constantly giving more than we’re refilling, we will feel the consequences sooner or later and burn out. So take care of yourselves – take the time you need. This is not being selfish. Because if your watering can is full and is constantly topped up, there will be plenty to give. And that is definitely not selfish, is it?

 

What do you do to recharge your batteries? I would love to hear from you in the comment section below.

 

Update 3rd December 2015: I came across this wonderful blog post that I think ties in nicely with the above-mentioned tips: 55 gentle ways to take care of yourself when you’re busy busy busy. Just before Christmas, many of us are really stressed and also emotional. Try a few of the tips Marthe suggests to stay sane during this season.

 

 

Why I do what I do …

You might or might not be aware that I’m Swiss born and bred and only moved to Melbourne a few years ago. Read here if you would like to know how it all came about.

Thanks to Courtney from Mr. Gift for the interview!

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