Remote Managing Your Home

This post is for Traveling Professionals

For most of us who work every day, we always take pride in how our careers progress, how our pay slip seem to add another number in the end, or even just being able to buy more for our family. I have worked in Human Resources for a while, the last one was in a  multinational company which was considered, for a time, one of the biggest company in the world in its more than a century of existence. Throughout my life in this company, I got to appreciate the small and big wins alike. So I would always feel good every time I get to buy a new pair of jeans, a bag, or just a simple grocery using my own money. I love that feeling.  Now that I am in Sales and an entrepreneur, I value whatever I earn even more! I value the house that my husband and I were able to purchase two years ago, I value what’s in it, and I value those who live in it – my family. I think this is brought about by the pride coming from having to make an effort in our jobs and getting validation by getting an increase or a promotion.

This is the reason why I would tend to hate it whenever I lose something, or see people who do not give importance to what I buy. This leads to a realization where I kind of understand now when people put a lot of importance to things in their lives. Even more difficult for career men and women who always travel or would be far from home for an extended period – how do they then get to manage the house they have decided to buy and are paying for from miles away? Or the things inside which practically would represent all the accomplishments they had.

Let me try to give you a few things to help with remotely managing your home and having a system to make sure you and your family give the proper care and importance to your treasured properties.

    1. Thoughts Before Buying – Think about it. You have been eyeing this really nice 65″ OLED TV for a year now. You think this is a fantastic addition to your home. People will see it and they will be in awe with its size, and when they turn it on, they will see even the smallest of pores of actors’ faces. Only thing is, you have to shell out a month’s salary. USD 4,000 is something you would not be able to buy 3 years ago even with a year’s salary, but now, you can get it for only a month of grinding at the office. 24 months to pay is not bad too! So should you go ahead and buy it? NO!!! First and foremost, your next visit back home is a year from now, and you will stay there for 3 weeks. Your utilization of this is relatively very little. Not for anyone else, but you. Always buy for yourself. Enjoy the things you get to acquire. Now consider these points – 1) There’s this thing called scheduled obsolescence in technology, by the time you get home, there’s already a much better version of the TV you want to get. 2) Your 5-year-old kid doesn’t need ultra high definition TV to watch Peppa Pig. 3) Your guests and family will only say wow and forget about it the minute they step out of your home 4) Installments are practically loans, even if its zero percent interest, your personal cash flow gets affected without you even knowing it and limits you from preparing for the future needs. As much as possible, don’t take out a loan for something which depreciates, unless it’s for business use. So always give a good thought about the things you buy. Make it a point that there’s no one you are buying it for except for you or your family. But never just to wow other people.
    2. To See is to Believe – Buy a camera! Hahaha, so after me asking you not to buy a depreciating asset, I’m asking you to get a camera! But this is not any other camera, get a CCTV camera. Why? Nothing beats you actually seeing your home in real time and having that comfort and happiness that everyone and everything are A-OK! So the things that you might lose, the confirmation you need by calling people every time, and all the other cost associated with making sure everything are safe and sound is actually minimized. Which makes all these worth the expense of a camera. There are really good systems out there which will not require you to burn money for nothing. What we use in our home is this China made one called Clever Dog. It is a WIFI camera, both indoor and outdoor, which has the best user interface and app in the market. You just need to view it through your phone and you can already see your lovely house, your prized possession, and even talk to your family. It’s easy to setup too!JPEG image-2DDFA502D7FF-1
    3. The LRT – List – What is an LRT? List, Review, and Transfer. Three steps when you manage the things you already bought. List as much as you can. Make sure you remember whatever you have and include how much you bought it for. I suggest you also add the reason why you bought something. This is a good practice for you to be able to visually assess your belongings in one view. If you cannot finish listing all in one day, you might want to ask yourself if you have too many things in your life that most of it don’t even make sense in having. The idea is for you to have something to review from time to time. You can also add the location where you last placed it. This really works best if you want to practice minimalism in your life. With this, you tend to be more active in managing the essentials and justifying those which make you feel happy. What you don’t want to happen is to realize one day that there’s this thing you lent to someone and you just don’t remember who this someone is… such a waste!
    4. The LRT – Review – From time to time means regularly, not once a month, then once a year, then never again… Make sure the timing is manageable, I suggest you do it after Christmas, say January, and around 6 months after. This gives you that understanding of where you are in terms of personal belongings during a time where you accumulate a lot. You get to review this with people in the family and learn together the value of this stuff and how to take care of it. This way as well, this system of review becomes second nature already. That even a single look through your remote camera, you would know if something is missing or something is not being taken cared of properly.
    5. The LRT – Transfer – Lastly, transfer. You can always acquire stuff in your life, as long as it makes sense. You don’t need two refrigerators… Trust me, we tried. The fridge takes up space and consumes a lot of electricity 24×7. We tried to have two fridges but we don’t need a lot of that space for one single household food consumables. We ended up getting a small chest freezer which we can use for all the meat and other frozen products which we don’t have to open every single time. The fridge remains to be used for the chilled stuff only, which my kids literally open every 5 minutes! But not the chest freezer, so net net, I save more on electricity cost. Anyway, enough about the fridge, what I’m saying is that if you look at your list and you think you can donate or sell something, please do. You are in a great position to do so because you are miles away, so there’s really not much attachment to it. As long as your family will be able to sell it at the right price then you are good… Oh wait, you don’t need to worry about remembering the right prize! You have the buying price in your list! Look at that! Listing comes in handy! Rule of thumb is things depreciate 10% every year. For appliances, make the first year 20%. So the salvage value after 3 years, for example, is 60% of the purchase price. I think that is fair amount already, generally speaking. 20% less for the first year, 10% less for the second and third years.
    6. The Comfort of Autopilot – Autopilot is having you to not even look at your camera, or not looking at your list every time. Once the family understands the value of the things around them and understands the effort you had to make in order to buy them, the custodians would take care of these as if you are the one actually making sure there’s no dust or grime in all your appliances or making sure that the house is clean all the time. This is the comfort of an autopilot. That’s what’s good about the camera too… people would think they are being watched even if the camera is turned off!so they tend to act accordingly and sooner or later doing the right thing is already a habit for them (shhhh, that’s our secret ok?)
    7. The Most Important – But the most important thing in your life are the actual reason why you work in the first place – your family. Things in your life are nothing compared to the love of family. Don’t let things get in your way of making a meaningful relationships with the family. Have some time in your busy career to check on them rather than check on the latest Italian leather bag you have bought on your recent trip. Learn to smile even if there’s something you can’t find. You have put enough checks and balances in your system to be able to avoid this. If something slips through, try to move on quicker. And remember to get to tell your family how much you love them instead of getting disappointed for them not finding your 3 year old Apple iPad. Just ask them to not burn your house to the ground…! hahaha!

That’s it Neatropolis! More NeaTip for you guys and I hope you learned a thing or two from this one.

And to all those Pinoys working abroad, you guys have my utmost respect. Stay strong and live strong! Always remember that your home is only as far as how you make it… Stay close and stay Neat everyone, until my next post!


Smile Though Your Heart is Aching

This is a post about service. About overcoming challenges.

Every now and then I get to spend precious time with friends or clients who I help out in their own neat projects, improving their family’s health, or even financial planning. I get to see very personal sides of them. In return for the trust they give me, I make sure I give enough focus and attention in making sure that our little project presents a meaningful and lasting impact.

It’s never an easy job though. My clients would often feel compelled to be very involved because they get inspired by my hands-on approach in all aspects of my projects. I literally and figuratively do the dirty work. In this process, most of my clients would initiate in giving ideas and spend time with me with sorting, organizing, mixing essential oils, or draining our Microsoft excel powers in coming up with the right retirement plan for them. This is something that I would really prefer, not because it makes the job a lot easier, but for making the outcome very personal to both me and my clients. The project becomes longer lasting and my advocacy in promoting a holistic care in the lives of moms gets more traction.

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This post is a bit different from the tips I usually give. This is a reflection of how I keep that smile on my face even when the job is very hard. Some people call it Service, to others, it’s called Passion, for me, I call it Love.

Just like a mom’s love to her children, I love what I do. And even though this is hard work, I am full of joy every morning after any of my projects. I feel content and more energized for my next mommy client. I’m sure at one point in your life, you have been there and have reached that certain peace in you. In the midst of all the chaos of work, you feel happy and driven. That’s what makes me smile. The things that I do to help other moms in being neat, being healthy now or in the future. Every now and then there are feedbacks and words of encouragement that I get from my clients. Now, this makes the job even more special! More than anything else, I am always overjoyed when I get validation that I make another person’s life a little better.

Let me share some of my insights and realization in all my experiences by summing it up into three approaches

  1. Imagination is the start of Passion – every client, every project, every work which I do requires some time for me to think. Imagining the what if’s, the whatnots, and most important of all – the what else! To push the boundary of progress, one must use her creativity to move forward and not think of limitations, but rather, think of the opportunities to create something new. So every time I start a new project, I always make it a point that I have a good idea on how to execute it. I would always sound this off to my ever dearest critique, my husband. He would give me ideas which I have never thought all by myself. But a word of caution to our dear wife readers, be prepared to receive some brutally honest comments which may hurt you. During this time, do take another advice from a reliable smartie – the Apple watch – breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, and breathe out… haaay naku… sometimes it’s exhausting but always take it with a grain of salt and remember that his comments have nothing but love in it. All of these are just for you to think and come up with something uniquely effective! Ultimately it’s your decision, you are the wife, you are the boss! 🤨😉
  2. Good relationship gets you going – If I don’t get a chance to know my client, tendencies are, I don’t get to have the best of results. I have tried time and time again, to have a cookie cutter approach on what I do, but because organizing and financial planning are very personal, the personality of one has to be embedded in your work for them. I always make it a point that I get to start a relationship with my client. Surprisingly, this is also the reason it keeps me going even on super tiring days. Of course, if a client is nice and we have a great rapport, I tend to become a machine, churning out good ideas and solutions for every challenge. Slight problem when clients do not have that connection, at all! But I push myself to the brim and make sure the last drop of my nice potion is always there. So far, I have always found that zen with clients which leads to great projects. Being nice really goes a long way. ☺️
  3. Inspiration keeps you sane – But if everything doesn’t seem to go my way, my inspiration keeps me sane. I would always think of what my family would need, how I want them to live, and how I want them to feel whenever they live in a place which is orderly and nice. This gives me comfort, and especially when I imagine the laughter and smiles of each and every one of them – enjoying sweet-nothing nights in our bedroom playing without any care in the world. That is my inspiration.

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I want to end this with some lines from a Nat King Cole song called Smile. It makes a lot of sense especially when you finally found that passion in you and in what you do. Don’t worry about the hardships today and make sure you always have that positive outlook on life. Give positive vibes, always. Feel blessed that there will always be a bright and sunny day tomorrow, or the day after.

I dedicate this post to the people who make me smile even on my worst possible day – my three little kids and my husband.

Smile though your heart is aching

Smile even though it’s breaking

When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by

If you smile through your fear and sorrow

Smile and maybe tomorrow

You’ll see the sun come shining through for you

Stay Neat everyone!


The Art of Sorting

Sorting is one of the first steps in organizing. Making sure one would understand what they are organizing in the first place. Every simple or complicated task starts with understanding the task at hand and making sure there is a game plan for reaching your objectives. So even though sorting is already a big part of the organizing process, it is in fact, part of your planning too. This step gives you a validation and another perspective on how you should be able to fix a lot of the stuff you have.

So let’s step back and try to understand what our objectives are in organizing.

  1. First and foremost, you want to feel relieved of the clutter. You ultimately want to feel happy about this. If you are not happy with the outcome, then there’s something wrong with the process.
  2. Second most important is Ergonomics. You have to make sure that the result adds to the efficiency of the environment and not worsen it. You don’t want to have a difficult time in spending more effort in reaching, or even just looking, for things that would help you in completing a work you initially intended to accomplosh in that space.
  3. Have a provision to declutter and give/throw unnecessary things or those that you don’t even want to be there in the first place.
  4. It has to be nice to look at! I don’t think this needs further explaining but if you don’t like it to be, then… why?
  5. Lastly, but certainly not the least, you want to be able to make it last. You don’t want to see yourself doing this activity every single week.

Ok, so now that we have established our objectives, let’s move on to our 3-Step process:

  1. Categorising – make sure you are able to have a good list of groups or categories that would work for the area. Things have to be like-for-like in order to properly label it and make sure you are able to maximize the storages you have. Bear in mind though, that the meaning of like for like, is not to be too minute that you find yourself sorting all 1×3 grey Lego pieces issued out in 2007 for the Ultimate Collector’s Edition of Millennium Falcon of Star Wars!!! That’s just beyond crazy! Why? because you will probably never finish, at all! So make sure your categories would be something similar to 1) small toys often used 2) small toys not used that much 3) big toys 4) soft toys… etc. Once you have these listed out, make sure you understand if this suits your available storage items.
  2. Prioritising – Simple rules in prioritizing that I follow are the following:
    • Need to Have – all the necessities. All the things that you think are really important and vital to your work or well-being! You cannot operate without these.
    • Nice to Have – all the things that you have an attachment to but not necessarily you need on a daily basis. This can either be items that will improve your work or well-being but not necessarily something you cannot live without. Or this might be the most expensive item that you have and you still think this will be worth more as time goes by – so it has to appreciate in value
    • Might be ok to Have – this category is those items that don’t fall in the two above. Generally speaking, these items are those that you would like to dispose of. But of course, I do not advocate throwing it immediately unless you have gone through the process already (Read 3 steps in Letting Go). With this, I always make it a point to have a separate bin for you to put all the items that you think you can let go of. If in one week you already felt good about not seeing it anymore, then you can either sell it, give it away, or throw it.
  3. Rationalising – so now that you are able to understand all the things you have. It is time to finalize the game plan. Make sure that categories that are needed in one area are actually there. You don’t want printer ink cartridges to be on the other end of the room right? It has to be near the printer! Makes sense right? Also, what do these items look? Does it have a lot of cables and look really messy? Or are these items that are just really not that exciting to look at? Either you have a nice bin to cover these, else if it is aesthetically pleasing you can then sort it by color – ROYGBIV to the rescue!!!

So, there you go. You now have an idea on how to go about sorting the hundreds of stuff in all your rooms. In no means Sorting is a science though, rather, for me Sorting is an Art. This means what works for me may not necessarily work for you. I have been doing this for years, and it takes a lot of practice. In time you will get to do this in autopilot mode, where you really don’t need to list down the categories and do it on-the-fly. The concepts above are just really guidance so that you would know what is applicable to you and what is not. But I hope we all have the same goal, that is to make sure everything is organized for the betterment of our lives!

Please let me know your comments or suggestions. Until the next NeaTip! For now, I leave you with some sample projects I had in the past… Enjoy!

Stay Neat everyone!

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The Birth of Neat Obsessions

A little more background as to how this passion project started…

I was updating our (family) documents one morning and posted the result on my personal IG stories. I got surprised when friends started to send me messages saying that it was a nice idea, even thanking me for the tips, and that they were encouraged to do it as well. I thought, if my friends find it inspiring, maybe I can come up with something to share. Things that I have been doing since I was a kid… cleaning and organizing! hahaha! I already have some materials to feature at home and all I have to do is to point and shoot. Sounds easy to me then. With that, Neat Obsessions was born.

Little did I know that this will lead to something beautiful (and apparently, not easy at all!). I was so happy to be receiving wonderful comments from people, especially from people that I didn’t know before. Friends are encouraging me to share, post, and do it for others too (I have such supportive friends). And my husband, who fuels my passion every single day, cheering me on no matter how simple my posts are.

But one particular message had me thinking really hard about this passion project. Should I actually reach out and help other moms out there? Not just send replies or DMs, but actually help them and be with them.

The message was from a mom who said that she’s so helpless and overwhelmed about the things happening in her life. I immediately felt heavy, but at the same time inspired, in knowing there is a mom out there who needs help. She’s a mother who recently gave birth to her 2nd child. Without any helper at home, she clings on and remained strong, but was not ashamed to reach out for help. She said that she wanted to have a home which is neat and tidy, but just couldn’t find the time to do it because she’s so exhausted. I was able to relate right away with her situation and felt that if only I can step in and help, just for a short while,  maybe it will lessen her worries.

It is very uncommon for most moms to ask for help because, as weird as it may be, when you become one, there’s this set of superpowers that automatically become a part of you… Carrying another human? How super is that?!!! And asking for help should never be only a last resort because of this pressure from the world that ALL MOMs CAN DO EVERYTHING – is totally MISUNDERSTOOD! It’s not that we are supposed to do everything, it’s that we just want to do everything… out of love, of course. I also realized that motherhood is the ability to become the best even if we’re not perfect. Why? Because our children only need us – nothing more, nothing less. So I reached out to the super mom ready to take another helping hand so that she can continue to be super with her two lovely kids.

That’s why Neat Obsessions is here! Born from the passion of motherhood, focusing more on an aspect of holistic well-being. At times when things (Literally… actual things that pile up around you) become overwhelming, I can help you sort it out.

As most moms say it… there’s no better hood than MOTHERHOOD! So let us empower each other and pray that our husband and children will continue to love us even during those crazy times where we can’t seem to fulfill the promise of EVERYTHING. At the end of the day, no matter how chaotic the world is, a Mother’s Love makes everything better; giving peace from the love which is ever so pure and NEAT. 🙂

High five to you momma! Stay Neat!

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3 Steps in Letting Go

 

Ok, so the mom in me, for some reason, would always think about the song “Let It Go” of Disney’s Frozen every time I think about Letting Go. But, I guess, there’s a lot of truth to what Elsa was singing out loud –

It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all
It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me
I’m free

I can just imagine you are singing in your mind while reading this. Anyway, think about it – everyone is free, we are all created free, living free, and supposed to find freedom everywhere. So if we are free, what stops us from doing something? What traps us from this state where we are in now? For me it’s all about choice, all about free will, doing things based on what you believe in, what you think is right or wrong for you, or simply how you just are. So why do we then let ourselves be bound of the things we have? It’s all about what we believe these things represent. These are the memories that made you feel good about an important event in life, an achievement you have been trying to reach since forever, or that one person who made you feel you are the queen of the world. There are so many reasons why, so I cannot just say (or sing) “Let It Go, Let It Goooo!” to any of my clients. By recognizing that these things around you represent a feeling, which has to go through a process in order to change, is already a good start. The start of understanding that another feeling sits on top of that hierarchy of importance in your life you call – purpose. Let me share a few steps with you, which hopefully will help you in finding part of this purpose.

Step 1 – Remember and Transfer

Things you have may or may not have an actual use for you at the present. You might find yourself wondering why you can’t seem to just say yes to letting go of something even if there really is no other reason for you to keep it. Try to remember why these things are important. If you cannot remember a certain event, then try to remember a feeling. Were you very happy when you bought this? Do you feel happy or fulfilled when you look at it? Or is this a remembrance of a sad or angry feeling that you want to remember so that it won’t happen again in the future? In reality, what we come up with is actually a feeling of expectation, an outcome that you expect from the feelings you have had before. Either a feeling of hope from the joy or success you felt will go on forever. Or the feeling of strength that will lead to a better quality of life in the future.

Once you finally remember that feeling, try to understand how you would like to treat it? Do you want that feeling of resentment forever? Or do you accept the fact that everything is bound to change? The joy that you have now, which is a blessing back then, will serve as inspiration for a greater thing in the future.

Once you do understand how to deal with it, there is an option of transferring that emotion. I always suggest writing it and sending it to your own email. This way, it’s easier to look for, and hopefully – will last as long as possible. But taking photos is also an option. This way your imagination will not have to work double time to remember how it really looks like. Nevertheless, transferring is only a tool in order for you to help you cope up with Step 3 later and be able to manage that gap or emptiness that you might feel in the future.

Step 2 – Understand, Accept, and Commit

Now that you have an understanding of the feeling a particular thing reminds you of, you have to understand the rationale for why you should let it go now. Is it because there is a realization that you think is more important? Do you think that letting go of a room full of clothes you have accumulated for the past 15 years is good now because you have a daughter who loves you dearly and would want you to move on? Have you strengthened your faith and found solace on a new concept of giving, where there are a lot more people who may need it more?

This understanding should lead to acceptance that now is the time, and committing yourself to it means that you found that courage to start the process. Take note, you are not letting go yet! You just found that courage to start. Take it easy. It’s never an easy decision, it always has to go through a process. A process of acceptance which will be different in length of time for every person strong enough to start.

Step 3 – Forgive, not Forget. Choose Peace All the Time

Finally, even before the act of letting go, you have to forgive yourself already. Forgiving yourself for the pain that it will be causing you after. Have peace in your heart that this understanding leads to an improvement of life and purpose. This process is a humbling experience that leads to the fact that there’s always something greater than us. And with that, you strive for greatness with your newly found purpose.

Forgiving and not forgetting are always partners in this process. The reason is that we are feeling beings. Our ability to remember gives us a basis for moving forward. It is a learning experience that helps us become better. As you forgive yourself with the pain, don’t forget whatever that thing stood for and how it became part of you. The moment that you let go, there will always be that gap with in you, that feeling of longing you want to solve by bringing that loss back. But as soon as you want to be able to get it back, try  reading or looking at the medium you have transferred these objects to, so that you can slowly adapt. Give yourself a time to grieve. And just like any gap in your life, a new joy will fill it up. It can either be an object or an experience. Travelling to see new places, or having new activities to meet new friends, or just finding a new purpose.

Choose peace all the time, peace with yourself and peace with the people around you. Once the process has been completed, you will find yourself smiling, not just because your home is cleaner now, or that you have more space to walk around in, but because you were able to do it without having to resent and binge back to whatever you have accepted to let go of. The success of any person is the success in overcoming their greatest challenge – overcoming oneself.

Thanks for reading!

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