Worth repeating: Lessons learned from a painful thumb

3 August 2020


I wrote this blog post almost exactly four years ago. When I read it again this morning, I thought the message was still valuable so I wanted to share it again. I’m happy to report that my thumb continues to be pain-free!

I was diagnosed with trigger finger recently (trigger thumb, actually). Trigger finger happens when the tendon in a finger or thumb becomes inflamed, causing the finger to catch in its sheath. The finger then locks in the bent position and then releases with a snap.

As soon as I noticed severe pain in my thumb and experienced that tell-tale snap after waking up, along with a constant dull pain in the thumb, I made an appointment with a hand doctor. (My husband has had surgery for trigger finger twice, so I was clued in.) The doctor confirmed my self-diagnosis and suggested a steroid shot. I’d heard that the steroid shot was really painful, but I decided to give it a try.

What does this have to do with organizing? It brought to mind two things that I see in clients while decluttering and organizing.

First, the fear of the pain of the shot was worse than the pain itself. And while it was quite painful for about 10 to 12 (long) seconds, it wasn’t by any means unbearable. Once the pain of the shot was gone, the pain of the condition slowly started to fade away.

It got me thinking about the fear some clients feel about hiring an organizer or the prospect of going through the decision-making process of decluttering. It seems scary, but the pain is over pretty quickly. And once you’re past the pain of getting started, you can start getting relief.

After I got my steroid shot I was (unrealistically) expecting instant relief. That wasn’t the case. It took probably a week, but every day there was less pain in my thumb. Then one day there was no pain at all. I could grip items without pain and the constant dull ache was gone. And mornings were much easier, since I woke up pain free.

It probably took me a week to notice the absence of pain. That was a real a-ha moment for me. Once I noticed that my thumb no longer hurt, I was delighted. The shot had worked! I was amazed that it took so long to notice.

Isn’t that true of a lot of things in life, including organizing systems? We notice what isn’t working. We feel the pain and frustration of failing systems or the absence of systems. But when things are going well, we often don’t even notice. We’re missing an opportunity to feel good about ourselves!

I encourage you to think about the things in your life that are working well. Notice the absence of frustration. Think about what you’re doing right and apply those lessons to the frustrating aspects of your life.

Noticing the absence of pain can be difficult. But it can be rewarding!

Photo by Katya Austin on Unsplash

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Small changes, big benefits

30 July 2020

Sometimes little purchases or habit changes can make such a big difference. I keep thinking about that because a week ago I bought a Roku voice remote for my Roku streaming video device and it makes me so happy. It was a $20 investment. Every time I use it (which has been every day), I smile.

Previously, I had to use two remotes: One to turn on and off my TV, as well as adjust the volume (and mute), and one to control the Roku. My two most-used streaming apps are Hulu and Netflix. My old remote had buttons that took me directly to Netflix (as well as Amazon Prime and two other services I don’t subscribe to). I loved that Netflix button but wished there was one for Hulu.

I decided to indulge myself and buy the new remote that not only controls the Roku but also turns the tv on and off, controls the volume and mutes the TV. (That’s a photo of it above.) And it has button for Hulu as well as Netflix! I now only have to keep track of one remote rather than two. It’s a tiny thing but it makes such a difference! This new remote is also a voice remote—I can press a button and use my voice ask it to open a channel or search for a show. I’ve barely used that feature, but I know it will come in handy.

Such a little thing. But since it’s something I use every day (particularly during the pandemic), it has a big impact.

It’s also true that small habit changes can pay big dividends. For example, in my life, I am now pulling the few weeds that come up in my front yard (we replaced the lawn with native plants last fall) when I come home from walking Bix every morning. Usually just a few weeds have popped overnight and I pluck them out. So I’m never faced with a big weeding challenge or guilt over unsightly weeds.

Do you have any irritations that can be alleviated by a small habit change or perhaps a small purchase? I encourage you to ask yourself what could make life a little easier and see if that’s something achievable.

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Storing my ear buds and charging cables

27 July 2020

Phone cables are vital items, used daily, but they’re such a pain to store, aren’t they? A couple of weeks ago, I revamped how I store my ear buds and phone charging cable at my desk, and I’ve been so happy. I thought I’d share here.

Some background: I have two wired ear buds I keep close at hand. One has a lightning connector to my phone. I usually use my AirPods, but sometimes they’re upstairs when I’m downstairs, so I keep a wired set handy. I also have ear buds with an auxiliary connector, left over from an older phone. I plug them into the aux jack of my podcasting microphone every week when Shannon and I record our podcast, Getting to Good Enough. And I also keep a USB/lightning cable handy for charging my wireless keyboard and mouse. That’s three cords I really want on my desk.

For the longest time, I stored these items in a leather container I bought from Levenger whose purpose is to store such cords and also serve as a phone stand. It never worked as a phone stand, but I did use it for my ear buds and cable.

Here’s a photo of it from a past post—the red arrow is pointing to it.

I used it for years, but it was actually quite annoying. The cords would get tangled within and no matter which one I needed, it was never on top. Here’s a photo of the interior. I bet you can see what I mean.

I finally put my mind to coming up with a better solution. I had just received a new charging cable from LoopyCases and it came in a pouch. That pouch, unfortunately, isn’t large enough to comfortably hold all three cables, but I had another suitable pouch. I decided to put the ear buds in one pouch and the charging cable in the other.

I found two distinctive binder clips to keep the two ear buds tangle free and distinguishable from one another and put them in one of the pouches. Here’s a photo of the clipped sets of ear buds.

I put the ear buds in one pouch and the charging cable in the other. I labeled the pouches using some black tape from IKEA and a white gel pen and put them on the bottom shelf of my monitor riser. Here’s how they look:

(I tried to find a link to the black tape, but IKEA doesn’t seem to sell it any longer. But when I run out, I’ll probably give this Scotch Expressions washi tape a try.)

I’m really happy with this solution. The cords I need are right in front of me. They’re easy to put my hands on. And, best of all, they’re not annoying!

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A tiny life-enhancement: Tear-by-hand packaging tape

23 July 2020

I’ve been sending a number of packages these days—knitted gifts and so forth. And I’ve been so grateful for one little product I thought I’d sing its praises here.

It’s Scotch Tear by Hand Packaging Tape. It’s clear shipping tape, just under two inches wide, and you can tear it by hand.

Let that sink in. No grabbing scissors while you’re trying to keep the tape from sticking back on itself. No annoying dispenser whose teeth might scratch you. You roll out the amount you need and tear it with your hands.

Every time I use it, it makes me smile. We all need those things in our lives!

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POMO's 15th anniversary!

20 July 2020


I wrote a version of this article for my July newsletter and I’m so happy to be celebrating my 15th anniversary, I thought I’d reprint it here. If you’re not signed up for my newsletter, which comes out on the 15th of every month, you can sign up here. Of course, it’s free.

Times are so stressful these days I sometimes have to remind myself that it’s okay to celebrate the good things that happen. In fact, I think it’s imperative to celebrate them! So I’ll share what I’m celebrating.

In July 2005, I started Peace of Mind Organizing after a ten-year career as a freelance pet writer. I immediately started taking classes, building a website and trying to gain experience. It feels like a long time ago. But at the same time I can hardly believe it’s already been 15 years.

I am proud of how I’ve been able to build this business. I went from doing one-on-one work with clients to leading organizing teams, using independent contractors. I hired my first employee in 2018 and have enjoyed the challenges of building my business and leading my team members. But what I’ve really enjoyed is helping my clients make beneficial changes in their lives. (You might enjoy my blog post Why I’m a Professional Organizer.)

I am so grateful to all my clients (who number in the hundreds), some of whom have been with me for the whole ride (on and off). I feel like these long-term clients still consider me their professional organizer even if they no longer need me. And then when something arises, they call me. That always makes me so happy.

I took a chance to pursue a dream and am so glad I did. The business has grown slowly (sometimes growth felt glacial), but I absolutely consider it a success. If you have a dream, I encourage you to think about how you might go about making it a reality. If I can do it, so can you!

Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

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Worth repeating: Making homemade dog treats

13 July 2020

I first wrote this post back at Christmas 2015. I’m proud of this cookbook, which is still selling fifteen years after publication. If the idea of using some of your extra at-home time to bake for your dog is appealing, I encourage you to try out some of the recipes!

It’s a little late in December to be offering up gift ideas, but perhaps this is a gift you can give to your dog (and yourself) without needing the excuse of a holiday.

It’s the You Bake ‘Em Dog Biscuits Cookbook, written by none other than yours truly. This cookbook is the last book I had published a dog writer before starting my organizing business in 2005. Ten years after publication it’s still selling.

Making homemade dog treats

Making your own treats for your dogs has a number of benefits:

  • You control the ingredients
  • You control the size of the treats
  • You bake love right into the treat
  • You have the pleasure of doing something for your dog (or his friends or your friends’ dogs)

I developed the 50+ recipes in the cookbook (some were originally developed by me for a prior, smaller cookbook published by the same company). I’m lucky that my husband, Barry, who works from home right off the kitchen, is a culinary school graduate. He gave advice, when asked, as I was working on the recipes. My own dogs at the time (Pip and Kirby) were taster testers, but I farmed each recipe out to at least one willing dog lover, to test that the recipes work and to test that the dogs liked them.

I encourage you to give yourself the gift of the warm heart that goes along with making dog treats for your dog. If you try any of the recipes, please let me know!

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What kind of procrastinator are you?

9 July 2020

Help for procrastinators

I think most of us procrastinate at least sometimes. (If you never procrastinate, you can go ahead and put off reading this post until later.) I used to be a terrible procrastinator, back when I was a writer. Since becoming an organizer 15 years ago, I’m better about it. But there are still tasks I put off. They’re usually tasks I don’t think I’ll enjoy. If they don’t have a deadline I have really hard time getting started on them.

I learned that enjoyment was my barrier to getting started on a task when I took the quiz that my friend, life coach and podcast cohost, Shannon Wilkinson, created. Shannon is a wizard when it comes to helping people get over procrastination. She created the six-question quiz so you can identify the source of your procrastination. (The four barriers are confidence, reward, enjoyment and focus.) And she created a six-page guide and worksheet to overcome each type of procrastination. It’s yours free when you visit her website.

Just check out Shannon’s Less Angst More Action: The Anti-Procrastination Guide to get started.

Once the quiz helped me identify enjoyment as my barrier (I’m kind of shocked that’s not why everybody procrastinates), I’ve been able to use her worksheet to help me get in touch with the benefits of doing the dreaded task. And then the barriers just vanish. It’s a little like a miracle.

I haven’t read the other guides, but I’m sure they’re equally great and I encourage you to take the quiz and check out the guide that pertains to you. You may find yourself, like me, doing important things you’ve been putting off forever.

And if you come away from the whole thing with an appreciation for Shannon’s particular brand of genius, I encourage you to tune into our podcast, Getting to Good Enough where you can benefit from her wisdom every week!

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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 *

  • Getting to Good Enough podcast

  • NAPO Golden Circle