Major movie toy fatigue could be a fresh revolution for our environments

In November 2013, Disney’s Frozen hit our screens and it’s no surprise that it grossed more than US $1 billion at the global box office because it’s an amazing film and Let it Go is not only a great song – it’s become a mantra. Scarily though, it was reported that Disney’s consumer products sales increased by seven percent in 2014, largely thanks to toy sales related to its various films. Although I didn’t see it, The Force Awakens, brought in more than US$2 billion globally in 2015, and data shows that Star Wars toys generated US sales of US$700 million in that same year.

These stats came from a recent article in Kidscreen from April 2018 “Fighting the Fatigue” by Elizabeth Foster. As someone who often sees houses littered with far too many toys that are no longer used or loved and the resulting stress that such clutter causes, the article interested me on a level probably not intended. A particular quote in the article from Chris Byrne (New York based Toy Analysist and TTPM content director) had me sitting straight up in my chair: “the industry is figuring out what the toy is before they’ve even finished the final draft of the script. It’s a tremendous revenue stream…” This statement worries me beyond the notion that a toy is more important than good quality entertainment simply because of the resulting effects on those aforementioned littered houses.

From my Organiser perspective, the article raises a few points that I’ll share below:

  • Companies are starting to see that consumers can’t be expected to buy the same volume of toys everytime a new film is released. Apparently the time when people wanted to get their hands on any and every Elsa or Chewbacca doll is past. There used to be a new Star Wars film every three to five years, and now there’s one every year with various spinoffs. It’s still an immensely popular franchise and The Last Jedi was the biggest film of 2017 by far (I didn’t see this one either). Especially when it appears that Disney is set to release a film practically every month this year, and with every film comes its own specific merchandise. Outside of Disney, sequels and spinoffs are making up a significant chunk of this year’s upcoming film releases – and are also contributing to major movie toy fatigue.
  • Physical shopping is one of the main components necessary for impulse buying, and having fewer physical stores reduces the opportunities of putting shoppers in such situations. With such events as the company Toys “R” Us shutting down (having filed for bankruptcy protection in September 2017) there is incredible pressure on toy retailers to find new ways on getting their products in front of consumers. As we move increasingly towards a digital economy, less and less people are walking passively through stores and so are experiencing decreased exposure to the latest toy fads.
  • Manufacturers and property owners don’t ask the following question enough:  If kids are going to pick up a new toy, what are they going to put down in order to play with it? “Now kids move from one thing to the next incredibly quickly, and the loyalty you might have seen a few years ago has dissipated to a large degree. There’s so much out there. Kids can go to the movies every weekend, but that doesn’t mean they’ll buy the toys,” Byrne says. “It’s not just about seeing a product and wanting it. There needs to be a compelling emotional and intellectual connection with a character.

In the article, Byrne laments that “we work in a sector that survives on the whims of an eight-year-old” and just as he suggests that “it’s time to look at how the market has changed, how kids’ interactions with movies have evolved, and how play patterns are different now, to a certain extent,” I think that’s a very insightful observation from a decluttering and staying organised perspective too.

There will always be that tug of war between parents and kids, between whims and values. A clutter free house versus the ‘you can have everything you want’ house. Something that I think is worth keeping in mind is that this external tug of war will eventually become an internal one as kids grow up, become independent from their parents and learn to manage their own funds and spaces in relation to how that relates to their desires and needs.

The success of tie-in toys is shrinking which is bad for that market but which can be a development that is great for our environment at large and our individual indoor environments. But the challenges don’t end there, in a subsequent article in the same issue, it’s revealed that parents and households are just starting to face the effects of a new trend: smaller squish toy ranges with lower price points. According to Michelle Liem, director of toys at the NPD Group, the timing is right for these toys “because although the price points are lower, the repeatability of purchase is much higher,” she says. “Parents buy a bigger toy for birthdays, and even larger ones are usually reserved for Christmas.” She goes on to say that these smaller squish toy ranges are “great for the industry because it keeps consumers in the market, and not just focused on the holidays.”

The focus on the toy industry’s health rather than the consumers’ health and general happiness is confronting. I’ve mentioned it before but clutter has health impacts. It’s something that people, more generally, are becoming more and more aware of.

So what to do IF you have succumbed to the urge to purchase the “toy of the moment” and now it’s no longer a favourite? Here are some suggestions:

  • Holiday toy donation tradition: Teach your kids the value of organising, decluttering and giving by helping them sort through their unwanted toys and to give as many as possible to your local Toy Library or charity op shop during the holiday season.
  • Limit toys on rotation: Make only a small amount of toys available at any one time. Utilising a Toy Library supports this too.
  • For the smaller toys that remain wanted:  Use a Clutter Tub: Each child has their own tub of a different colour. All their things that become scattered around the house can be collected using the tub.
  • Easy kid friendly storage options:
    • Dedicate a box and label it with the name and an image of what goes inside so your kids can learn to associate the words with the item.
    • Hang stuffed toys along a line strung along one wall. Kids often love to do this themselves.
    • Plastic sewing boxes or fishing tackle boxes are great for sorting little things like doll accessories or Lego.

Thinking about going forward, what will your game plan be for the next time a request for purchase arises? I’m not a child expert by any means, but from my research in relation to how to handle a ‘demanding child’, these ideas seemed like good ones. Plus I’ve witnessed them work at the adult level so I can see how they would have seeds of potential for keeping toys from entering your environment:

  • Give kids an allowance so that they can save up for whatever item they deem worthwhile.
  • Set boundaries of when toys will be bought – birthdays, special holidays only.
  • Talk to the child and assure them that their friends will like them with or without such a toy.
  • Remember that as hard as it is, listening throughout the duration of a child’s tantrum (if it’s got to that stage) is an act of love and will help with their development.
  • Encourage them to find alternatives within their collection (build something from Lego etc).

Good luck out there and happy organising!

flor&order

Organising heart, head and home

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Leaving something out for later is a recipe for chaos

It’s a basic organising foundation that if every item in a house has a home then a space has more chance of staying organised. I’ve touched on this previously – basically it means that an item is either in use or is stored away in its home.

I was having a chat with a friend who mentioned that their partner often thought ‘I might need this later’ so would not put an item away.  That is all fine and good if “later” is within the next 15 minutes; not so great for the household if “later” doesn’t end up eventuating.

Chances are, everything in a house will be used at a later date – otherwise there’d be very little point in housing it. Running with this train of thought, if someone was to leave every item out for ‘later’, eventually everything in a house would be out in view and always getting in the way.

Following through on cycle completion based on the current demands of the item is another organising basic foundation that supports the level of organisation that a space has. I.e.: I’ve had a cup of tea, I will put my cup in the dishwasher as I’m finished NOW even though I probably will have another cup at some point during the day. Cycle completion keeps cupboards stocked and items maintained.

The friend that I mentioned was becoming more and more irritated that they were the one who had to put everything back in its place once it was obvious that their partner no longer required the item. After a discussion about the importance of cycle completion, my friend stopped completing their partner’s cycle. In a relatively short time the importance of returning things to their “homes” became apparent. It may not work for everyone but in this case, my friend’s partner came to see the logic and could not avoid the truth that leaving things for a possible later was not practical.

Organising basics are just that, basic. As the saying goes, “it’s the little things that count” and in organising your living space there’s nothing truer than that.

 

 

Flor&order

Organising Head, Heart and Home

How cutting out the middle man can help you achieve a better result

A recent client was looking to simplify his living space to better appreciate his surroundings. As we began working in the bedroom, the first thing I noticed were small recycle and garbage bins in the room. Positioned against the wall and close to the bed, they stuck out quite obviously.

Having been on a tour of the house previously, I knew that the kitchen, and the larger refuse bins, were close by. Playing around with ideas as to how to maximise/declutter the space, I asked my client if he’d thought of removing the bins from his bedroom – this was a completely new idea for him. I suggested that since the kitchen was quite close and his rubbish would end up there anyway, that eliminating the small bins would be an improvement. Though reluctant, my client decided to count the steps from his bedroom to the kitchen to see just how close it really was – turns out that it took him ten steps.

Needing further convincing, he spoke of the convenience of having bins directly where he needed them. In other words, he feared going to kitchen might interfere with task completion. Eventually though, he concluded that it wasn’t a big deal to leave a can or a napkin at the door as a reminder to take it when he was heading towards the kitchen.

Easing into change, the bins were then removed from his bedroom which opened the space up and cleared the air. My client commented that he hadn’t realised just how close he had been sleeping to a pile of rubbish. This simple act and a change of habit, simplified his living space, cut down on the time it took to empty bins and offered him an opportunity for better quality sleep. It also improved the flow and appearance of the room.

So, have a think, is there something in your living space that you could do without or rearrange and so improve the overall environment?

Flor&order

Organising Head, Heart and Home

Organising Musings

A collection of Flor&order Instagram Musings:

Financial freedom starts with knowing that you must always spend less than you earn, and if you’re not, one of those two parts of the equation must change.

If you’re feeling out of control and resentful of all you have to do, instead of just rolling up your sleeves and “getting it done,” try taking a few deep breaths and maybe even go for a short walk.

If you start feeling that your schedule is getting out of hand, it’s a signal that it’s time to slow down and reevaluate what’s important; rather than just powering through everything.

Clutter is harmful to health – studies have shown that there are tangible effects on mental and physical well-being. And if you don’t have your health, what do you have?

Clutter decreases productivity because as studies have shown “multiple stimuli present in the visual field at the same time compete for neural representation.” A clean work environment helps increase productivity, balances moods, and assists in processing information.

Clutter will eventually seep into a person’s professional life too, making it harder to reach career goals and preventing them from getting promoted.

Flor&order

Organising Head, Heart and Home

The need for brain extensions

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The brain is an amazing thing. It can also be very demanding. Most people are aware of the ‘fun facts’ of how many thoughts the human brain has during a day, estimated as fifty to seventy thousand.

Increased awareness of this has resulted in more studies and the development of an array of techniques to help us manage our thoughts. Such tools can help us in deciding which thoughts to follow and act upon and can assist us in living in the present.

I view being organised as a valuable condition to be in so as to keep on top of the wave of thoughts. In today’s fast paced world, being organised is a survival skill. When you think of the number of choices we are presented with, how much time is spent online, checking news and social media, plus doing our everyday work, the effort to stay present and on top of life admin and all that it takes to be human has never been as challenging as it is now. With so much constantly coming at us, it is vital to have ways of capturing our most important thoughts. Our brain simply can’t hold onto everything we need to remember. Assisting it by utilizing a variety of brain “extensions” (like Calendaring, Evernote or Keep programs) really helps a person to make the most of this life and hopefully enjoy it to its fullest potential.

The more you get the important minutiae (if that isn’t a contradiction in terms) out of your brain and into a trusted system (or “extension”), the more clear, focused and present your mind can be. I find using Google calendar, Evernote and Keep every day as electronic mind dumps for what I’m feeling, thinking, and needing to accomplish aids me tremendously in this area.

Google calendar is my place for appointments and “to dos” with specific time frames. Evernote is a place where I capture ideas and information that I want to hold on to. And Keep is for shopping lists, general lists and “to dos” that don’t yet have a time frame. It may seem a stretch to have three such apps, but by blending their use I feel that I cover all bases.

I’d recommend using one or more of these tools, if you aren’t doing so already, as a way to clear the clutter from your busy mind. With your brain generating thousands of thoughts per day it’s nice to know that you have help capturing the essentials.

ORGANISING HEART, HEAD, AND HOME

FLOR&ORDER

Worried about someone coming over? You haven’t reached your level of organised yet!

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Everyone’s level of organised is different. Some people’s level looks like a magazine shoot, other people’s resemble a lived in pair of jeans. I strive to help clients achieve a perception change to ensure that they find, and are happy with, their level of organised. Often times there’s some unpacking to do around being okay with not keeping up with the Jones’ and being comfortable with their level being different to what they think it should be.

A good way to determine whether you’ve reached your level or not is to take note of how you next feel when it dawns on you that someone will be coming over. You could have initiated the event or maybe it’s a service call that has to be done. Start to notice what comes up – maybe nothing, maybe a small worry, maybe your mind might dart to the clutter on the kitchen bench or maybe it’s a huge worry and you want to cancel the whole thing. Whatever your reaction, you’ve learnt something valuable about yourself. You’ve learnt whether your home is reflecting the life you want.

This self-knowledge is empowering and gives you some insight as to your desired organising level. It will also help you create guidelines for your next steps to take to reach that goal. If for example, your mind did dart to the kitchen bench then maybe that’s where your energy is best spent getting started. Clear it, sort it, and implement a system to keep the clutter from reappearing. After having a win there see what else pops up for you and continue until you’d be perfectly happy to have anyone come to your house at any time of the day or night (well, within reason…)!

So give this exploration a go and see what comes up for you. Let me know what you’ve found out about yourself – I always find it interesting!

ORGANISING HEART, HEAD, AND HOME

FLOR&ORDER

How to get your spice and herb collection under control

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Is your collection of spices and herbs out of control? Do you always reach for the same thing again and again? Are you having trouble remembering what’s hidden at the very back of the shelf?

If so, it may be time to do a Spice and Herb reality check!

Step 1) Take stock

Pull everything out and sort like with like. You may be surprised as to how many duplicates you have.

Step 2) How old is the stuff?

Over time, spices will lose their potency and not flavour your food as you hope. Check the expiry date listed but a general guideline is: whole spices will stay fresh for about 4 years, ground spices for about 3 to 4 years and dried leafy herbs for 1 to 3 years. Get rid of anything out of date!

3) Looking at a product, do you know what it is? If it’s not recognisable – ditch it!

Now, what to do with those items that you will keep?

Think about the best way to make the items accessible. It could be using jars, a rack or a tier shelf to stagger the labels. Make sure that the option you choose works for you and is functional over aesthetically pleasing (that’s the cherry on top!).

Organising heart, head, and home

Flor&order

 

Use vertical space to maximize your storage

Last week I was working with a client who’d pulled me in to look at a space that was causing her a storage dilemma. With my fresh eyes it became clear that to squeeze more storage space out of the small area that we were going to have to go vertical!

Going vertical really does increase the storage capacity available. And there’s usually a vertical option available in every room and space you can think of (pantries, wardrobes, garages).

For my client, adding more shelving fixed the problem. By working out what it was that needed to be stored, we designed shelving options that would be installed at the right height to accommodate everything.

Other ways of taking advantage of vertical spaces include:

Storage solutions that use that behind the door space.

This over the door option gave this bathroom an additional towel rack.

These shower buckets could also be used in pantries and in wardrobes.

Clever wall accessories get these tools out of the cabinets freeing up space.img_20170927_160158374482972.jpg

Using vertical space is often an overlooked and underutilized option. So when you’ve considered that all options have been explored, take another look at those vertical options and see if extra space doesn’t just open right up!

Organising heart, head, and home

Flor&order

How to organise your desk to be the most productive you can be

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If your work, lifestyle or hobbies entail being at a desk for long periods, it’s worth giving that space some attention to maximize its functionality so that you feel your best in the area.

Seven Steps to work space happiness:

  1. Take stock of the existing arrangement, what’s going on at the moment? Is there a lot of clutter? Is it all paperwork? Can you find your phone? What items do you use the most and what do you rarely use?
  2. If you haven’t had or given yourself a Work Station Assessment I suggest taking the time and checking out this useful document.
  3. Sort everything (drawers included) and get the desk cleared. Use some space behind you to create piles of “like” items.
  4. Detox the space. Bin, recycle or rehome things that don’t belong. Rethink your collection of knick-knacks, are they really bringing value or just adding distractions?
  5. Clean the surface of the desk. And get into the drawers.
  6. Using your computer as the prime real estate location (as that is most people’s prime focus), take the piles you’ve made from step 3 and begin to position the things you most use as close as possible to the keyboard. Phone, notepaper and pens are usually the most used items so they should be within easy reach. Continuing further out, place items further away as they rank less and less in importance.
  7. Developing a new routine in order to maintain your newly organized desk space may be something to think about in order to keep the desk operating smoothly. When packing up for the day, sparing five to ten minutes to place things back in their “homes” ensures that a ready and supportive desk is there to greet you each morning.

Paperwork weeding

In initially organizing the space, one of the piles that you collected will most likely be made up of paperwork.  So lets look at that now. The aim being to keep as few papers on the desk as possible.

Looking at the paperwork pile, create three sub piles divided into three types of documents:

  1. Documents which need to be actioned
  2. Documents which are important but which require no immediate action
  3. Junk – shred or recyle it!

Once the original pile has been sorted into these three categories, turn your focus to the first group. What we’re looking to implement is a system that doesn’t allow for stacking ’till later’. A wire vertical file organiser is what I recommend as the tiered design lets you easily identify folders. Divide the papers into categories that makes sense to you and use terms that you regularly use – using different coloured folders will further cement the system.

Looking at a couple of different desk set ups, we’re going to work through some tips and processes that can make your situation greatly improved.

In an office

Divide your workstation into zones, using various sections of the desk to reflect and contain your various activities. This may mean that you have a zone where you take phone calls (note paper, pen and contact details), another for filing (in trays, files and folders), and a zone for research/reading.

Hot Desking

If your office environment utilizes the ‘hot desking’ system where every day requires setting up at a different desk, creating personal routines become of paramount importance. First, allow at least 20 minutes to find and get settled at your new post. Make a basket or box (one that you like) your hold-all and resist dumping everything in it at the end of the day. By having an end of day routine to keep the things in your box orderly – the next day is made easier and your brain gets into the habit of relaxing for the evening to come. Such a box will also help streamline the start of the next day for when you go to your locker, as it’ll be simply a matter of retrieving one item and getting on with finding your work space. Before starting work, take a moment to wipe down the desk and equipment to assist in maintaining your health and also adjust the height of the chair and monitor so your body is comfortable.

Small Business

If you’re running a small business from home and don’t have the luxury of having a dedicated room for it, being able to section off your work is the second best solution. This could be through the use of screens for example. By having a certain area set up for your business with everything you need to conduct your work, it helps trigger work ready habits and to help keep work separate from the rest of your life.

If space is really quite tight, using a box or basket that you can unpack and pack up your work items (laptop, papers, other equipment) in helps create a routine and triggers the mental preparation for work to come (see Hot Desking above).

At home

The home ‘office’, if you will, is often fulfilling several functions – sometimes as a hobby room, often times as a home admin center or a place for quiet study. Decide what purpose/s your desk at home is serving and ensure that it isn’t taken over by unassociated clutter. It can be tempting to use a study room and its desk surface as storage, but by working at maintaining the prime purpose of the space it helps to establish zoning for the rest of your house.

Study, hobby, office or small business – the desk is the heart of it all. Get this “tool” on side and watch as other parts are enable run more smoothly!

 

ORGANISING HEART, HEAD, AND HOME

Flor&order

How to never forget your work pass again

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With most work places these days having some sort of security measure in place to ensure only their employees gain access to work sites, a security pass has become something that you just can’t leave home without. If you’ve ever left that item at home on a work day then you’ll know just how disruptive this can be to the morning routine and the general flow of the day.

From observation the most common reasons for forgetting passes are:

  • swapping bags;
  • just returned from holidays;
  • wearing a different jacket or belt to the day before; and
  • leaving it somewhere… the bench? desk? in the hands of a small child?

Observing such patterns in yourself is really useful. By making note of what the common factors are around such oversights you can apply that knowledge towards the creation of a new daily habit.

A habit that is generally successful for many, and that is also one of the simplest ways to avoid forgetting that pass – is to ensure that it has a home. This is a basic yet invaluable mechanical organising principle. With this in effect, your pass can only be in one of two places – on you or in its home.

Developing this strategy depends on what works for you, however.

First, to find the perfect home for your pass you need to take your living arrangements into account.  Do you live alone or in a share house? Then observe where you gravitate to when you first walk into your home or room. Whether it’s a table, a bookcase or a couch, could that area or somewhere near it work as a home for your pass?

Having found the ‘neighbourhood’, try re-purposing a splendid bowl or platter and place it within reach of your arrival area. If you can only really leave things in your own room, a bowl or platter will still help as it triggers your mind towards identifying a certain spot as a “destination”. Making the deliberate choice to place your keys, sunglasses, change or travel cards there will eventually make the habit part of your routine. If you are an intensely visual person, taking a mental snapshot of where this home is and what surrounds it might be a good way of cementing the solution in place.

This may also be a good spot for other things to live that frequently go with you into the outside world: purse or wallet, money and/or cards, ID, keys, watch and maybe even your mobile. Many of these items are must haves for daily tasks so the likelihood of forgetting your work pass is drastically reduced by having such items together.

Getting your body involved is another way of supporting such a strategy. The inclusion of the body can be extremely useful for tactile minded people as a way of making such forward planning more tangible. When about to head out the door, starting from the top of the body make your way down – touch your head and check off glasses or sunnies, touch your right hand for keys, your mid section for wallet/cards and your pass.

When at work, use accessories like a lanyard or bracelet or retractable clip holder to keep your pass on your person. And think creatively as to where to attach the clip if nothing obvious seems available, like the neck or under arm of a dress. Keeping your pass with items like your phone may also be what works for you – a phone cover with card slots is a handy way of keeping all your essentials together.

As security passes become more and more a work place necessity – exploring these ideas to find what works for you sets you up for an effective and stress free morning routine. A fine start to the day!

ORGANISING HEART, HEAD, AND HOME

FLOR&ORDER