It's okay to break the chain

20 January 2020

January is a great time for people to try to create new habits or to take up 30-day challenges. Right now I have two 30-day things I’m trying to do: Yoga with Adriene’s 30-day journey called Home which is absolutely wonderful. I’m loving it. The other is my own 30 × 30 challenge on my blog Organize Your Family History, in which participants commit to doing 30 minutes of genealogy research every day for 30 days. In addition, I’m trying to create the daily habit of dealing with finances through You Need a Budget and Quickbooks. (FYI, that YNAB link is an affiliate link, which means I get a free month if you click on it and sign up after your free trial.)

I’ve blogged here before about the value of the Don’t Break the Chain concept where when you do something for a few days in a row it you don’t want to break the chain. The flip side of that, though, is that sometimes when you do break the chain, you abandon the practice all together.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. I’ve been reflecting on that because with my yoga practice I’ve missed two sessions so far this month. My practice wasn’t interrupted by my trip to Walla Walla, because I double up on sessions the day before each day of flying. (It takes an entire day of travel to get to or from Walla Walla.) But last week I had a seven-hour organizing session that, while rewarding, left me wiped out. So I gave myself permission to not do yoga that day. And then yesterday I had limited time due to social commitments. I thought I would do yoga later in the evening, but I got home later than expected. When did get home Bix had a serious need to play so I let go of the idea of yoga last night.

But I’m not calling that a failure. You can bet that yoga was on the priority list today and I will finish the 30-day journey on February 2, rather than January 31. No big deal. It doesn’t mean I can’t keep a commitment. It just means that I prioritized something different those days. With my 30 × 30 challenge, I have managed to do a little research every day, but it has not been the full 30 minutes. I am hopeful that by month’s end I’ll average 30 minutes a day, but I am feeling great about my daily effort.

My point is this: Daily effort and 30-day challenges are great. But if you miss a day, don’t let it shake you off your path. Breaking the chain doesn’t mean you failed or are incapable of doing the thing every day. It doesn’t mean you can’t create great habits. It just means that the next day you might want to make doing the thing a priority. It’s okay to break the chain, particularly if you get right back on your path.

(The lovely printable calendar above came from

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Do you have a word of the year?

17 January 2020

Every year during end-of-the-year planning time, I select a word of the year. I typically use Christine Kane’s Your Word of the Year Discovery Tool but this year I used the Power Sheets Intentional Goal Planner from Lara Casey of Cultivate Your Life to help me set my 2020 goals and decide on a word of the year.

My 2020 word of the year is Intention.

What’s the value in having a word of the year? It can serve as a filter through which you make decisions throughout the year. It can be reminder of your goals and your hopes for the year. In short, it can keep you on track.

Another benefit of having a single word of the year is that it’s easy to make a reminder so you don’t forget it. A note on your bulletin board or refrigerator. A periodic one-word reminder on your phone. Heck, you can change your lock screen to display your word in a lovely font. The year that my word of the year was Fearless, I had a bracelet made with that word from My Intent.

If you don’t have a word of the year, I encourage you to consider trying it. And if you do have one, feel free to share it in the comments!

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Worth repeating: Decluttering is like exercising

9 January 2020

Decluttering is like exercising

I first published this post in 2014. Back then I belonged to a gym. Nowadays, most of my exercise (aside from walking my dog and working with my clients) involves doing at-home yoga. And the similarities still resonate with me!

I’ve had my struggles with getting myself to exercise over the years and I’ve detailed some of them on this blog. The bottom line for me is that I’m pretty fit and pretty slender without going to the gym, so getting myself to go has been challenging, since I don’t enjoy it that much.

But now that I’m past 50, it feels like more of an imperative. I know that regular exercise will help me age more gracefully and healthily. I know that it will help stave off osteoporosis, which runs in my family. I know that it might help with the fact that my stomach is no longer perfectly flat. (Certainly, not exercising isn’t going to help with that!)

So I’m trying to make exercise a priority. But it’s not easy because I’m very busy with work. And did I mention I don’t enjoy it that much?
Back in October 2013 I joined a gym, the tiny exercise studio called Take Action just a couple of blocks from my home. The membership and some personal training sessions with Take Action owner Jeanna Jackson were a (requested) 50th birthday gift from my husband. At that time, I discovered the similarities between personal trainers and professional organizers.

So the other day, as I was going through my exercise routine—created for me by Jeanna—I got to thinking once again about how exercising for people like me is like decluttering for folks struggling with clutter. I’ve already mused here about the how both decluttering and exercising get easier with practice. But more recently, I’ve been thinking about these similarities:

  • You might not feel like doing it, but afterward you’re glad you did
  • It can be hard to find the time
  • Both decluttering and exercising can be easier to do when you have company (and/or guidance)
  • You may not see instant results, but little by little you see progress
  • Any effort at all is worthwhile
  • You’re frequently struck by inspiration while exercising and while decluttering/organizing
  • Both can become habits

When I look around my house and see the progress I’ve made over the years in keeping order despite being a naturally messy person, I know I can make progress in with exercise. I’m working on focusing on the benefits and making it a priority. I hope one day soon to make exercising a natural part of my day just as certain habits for keeping order (like clearing off my desk every day) have become habits.

Photo by Hotel de la Paix Geneve via Flickr.

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Watch me on the Hoardganize podcast!

6 January 2020

I enjoy being interviewed on other people’s podcasts. Since I’m a podcaster myself, I’m accustomed to talking on the fly and it’s fun to hear the kinds of questions that other podcasters have for me. Most of the interviews I do explore the confluence of two of my passions: organizing and genealogy. I feel like I can talk forever on that stuff. Most of the interviews I do are audio-only. That’s my sweet spot because I’m not distracted by how I look.

In case you’re interested, in 2019, I was a guest on these shows:

That last interview, which was published on December 29, was a lot of fun. The Hoardganize podcast is hosted by fellow professional organizer Rachel Seavey of Collector Care. Rachel’s podcasts are video podcasts, a little outside of my comfort zone. (What do I wear? What kind of lighting do I need? Why do I make such funny faces when I’m trying to think of the answer to a question?)

Our discussion focused on genealogy, including getting started, getting organized, and some of my thoughts on best practices. Here are some highlights:

  • Where to start: start with yourself and work up your tree (1:30)
  • Gather the basic info: birth, marriage, death, censuses
  • Track info in an tree or download info and build a family tree using separate software
  • Research direct lines (9:00)
  • Move to collateral lines
  • Using Family Search (10:25)
  • Using libraries (15:06)
  • U.S. research versus other countries (16:11)
  • Organizing your documents (17:54)
  • My file naming protocol
  • Keeping track of what you’re doing now and what you want to research in the future

You can watch the video on YouTube or, if you prefer audio, listen to it on the Hoardganize website.

I had fun talking genealogy with Rachel. If you’ve been curious about exploring your roots, you might find it helpful! (And if you want to explore more, please check out my genealogy blog, Organize Your Family History.)

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Oh boy! It's the annual Elfa sale!

30 December 2019

I’m a big fan of the Container Store staff here in St. Louis does an amazing job of helping me help my clients using their products. Not only are they incredibly helpful, their products are of high quality. I am so grateful that we have a Container Store here in St. Louis.

The Container Store’s Elfa system is often my go-to for creating relatively inexpensive customized storage solutions. Right now it’s even more affordable because all Elfa is on sale for 30% off!

Here are some of my favorite Elfa solutions:

The Container Store offers installation for their larger wall-mounted systems and installation is also 30% off during this sale, which usually runs until about Valentine’s Day. If you’re tempted by an Elfa closet, now’s the time to check it out. If you have a store near you, just bring in your measurements and they’ll offer you free design services. If you’re not near a store you can use their online design tool.

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I'm in the latest issue of Secrets of Getting Organized magazine!

23 December 2019

I am so grateful to be consulted regularly by the editors of Secrets of Getting Organized magazine from Better Homes & Gardens Special Interest Publications. The new issue (early spring 2020) has just hit the newsstands.

This beautiful magazine is chock full of really great organizing ideas (and beautiful photographs—it’s truly organizing eye candy). The 96-page magazine is free of ads and full of great advice. I encourage you to pick up a copy wherever you buy magazines. It will remain on the newsstands until March 20.

I was one of a dozen professional organizers from around the country who were interviewed for the magazine, and one of five organizers who offer tips in an article called Get Organized Before You Move. If you have a move on the horizon, you might find it helpful!

Here’s the cover, so you can spot it easily. I feel so fortunate to be included!

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Set yourself up for success with your goals

19 December 2019

I’m deep into thinking about my 2020 goals. There’s something about a year that ends in zero that makes it feel extra important. Maybe it’s because we’re starting a new decade, The Twenties. (It’s so bizarre that soon The Twenties will have nothing to do with flappers.) I love the process of setting goals for the new year and I really enjoy taking a whole day to work on my goals. This year, like last year, my big retreat day is December 26. I can’t wait!

At this time last year, Shannon Wilkinson and I launched a goal-setting product, Good Enough Goal Setting that I’ll be using again this year as part of my retreat day. (Shannon and I co-host the Getting to Good Enough podcast.) Shannon and I have been working together a long time and ten years ago, in 2009, we created a teleclass about setting and keeping resolutions. The following year, we created a workbook to go with it. After selling it for a few years, we took it off the market.

Last year, we brought it out and dusted it off after we realized that our resolutions teleclass really fit in to our good-enough philosophy. We updated it and renamed it Good Enough Goal Setting.

I was so excited when I listened to the teleclass and went through the workbook because it is still so relevant and helpful. The audio includes guided hypnosis, which can be very useful in the goal-setting process. (Shannon is a certified hypnotherapist.) I’m looking forward to listening to it again during my retreat day!

We’re offering the 25-page Good Enough Goal Setting workbook for $15. With it, you automatically get the 2009 teleclass (with the guided hypnosis). I think it’s a great tool to help you set realistic and achievable goals (and then go about achieving them!). If you listen to the teleclass, bear in mind that was done over the phone so the audio quality is not up to 2019 standards. We’re thankful that our podcast sounds much better!

We discussed Good Enough Goal Setting in Episode 30 of Getting to Good Enough. You can listen to that episode on the podcast’s website, or wherever you get your podcasts. Episode 83, to be published on December 26, 2019, is a re-airing of that episode.

I encourage you to check out the workbook + audio. It’s a small investment to set you up for a great 2020!


Just click on the View Product or Add to Cart button to purchase via PayPal!

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About Janine

Hello! I’m Janine Adams — a certified professional organizer based in St. Louis, and the creator of Peace of Mind Organizing®.

I love order, harmony + beauty, but I believe that the way that you feel about yourself and your home is what truly matters.

If you’re ready to de­clutter with a purpose and add more ease to your life, you’ve found the right blog — and you’ve found the right gal.

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Recommended *

  • NAPO Golden Circle

  • Getting to Good Enough podcast