Sudden Departure Syndrome - 10 tips for organizing and living your life

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It occurred to her: Why not transform her neurosis into a business? Chat online with others about relationships, grandparenting, family and more. Get AARP member discounts on travel, shopping and more. Reich has since served about clients through her firm, Resourceful Consultants; she's booked for appointments a month in advance. For most clutterers, 10 two- to three-hour sessions do the trick; some clients ask for occasional tune-ups. A few have a standing weekly date. She doesn't work with compulsive hoarders , whose homes can fill from floor to ceiling with trash.

Such people have a complex disorder best treated with cognitive behavioral therapy, medication or a combination of both. The organizer, who rattles off rapid-fire tips as she works, is blunt but also a born nurturer; she softens her advice with kindness and humor. When Fred tells her that the hardest part is getting started, she nods sympathetically. Fred, a retired menswear executive, is still doubtful. If you think you're going to spend five minutes here and there, it will be undone in a minute. Then, play some music, enlist a friend to help, pour some wine — whatever works so you get cracking.

Sort things into three piles — keep, toss and donate — and tackle what makes you most bonkers first. Label Maker: When you label a drawer, you're not only telling yourself what goes in there. You're telling your entire family. Trash Bags Use these to collect items you'll donate or discard. Then, make sure all the bags leave your house.

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Nice Boxes Store items you use often or want to keep in attractive boxes that can be stacked, labeled and displayed. File Folders Keep your file categories broad.


If you have too many narrow categories, filing becomes burdensome. She turns to Fred. And then you can go to the movies. Fred nods. I don't even know what's in there. Reich feigns horror. And if you get rid of it, think of the money you'll save. They're bad for the environment, take up space and encourage you to buy things you don't need.

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To Reich, clutter is not merely piles of junk. Clutter is stress : It nags at you, drags you down psychologically, slows you down physically.

People tend to hang on to their stuff for a few different reasons, she says. Some clutterers suffered a major loss early in life. For them, accumulating stuff that no one can take away can be a source of comfort. Other clutterers grew up with a parent who didn't save anything so the person overcompensates or a parent who saved everything so there was no model for purging. Still others hold on to things as a way of preserving memories they fear they'll lose otherwise. Reich understands the comfort and security that stuff can provide, but when it piles up, that feeling of safety quickly turns into oppression.

The FlyLady’s Cure for Messy House Syndrome

She maintains that the things you own should be beautiful, useful or well loved. Reich has clients ask themselves these questions: Have I used or worn it in the past year? If the answer is no, out it goes. Is it justifying the space it's taking up in my house? Sometimes clients tell her she is wasteful when she advises them to toss still-usable things. Au contraire, says Reich. After the to hour megapurge, she urges people to live much more simply and stop being haunted by what-ifs. You can always replenish when supplies run low. She picks up a cracked box that once held a computer.

She chucks the box in the trash. One box! She moves on to a container stuffed with ancient manuals. As Fred steps gingerly out of the way, Reich grabs a stack of files and scribbles categories on the labels: medical, insurance, tax receipts. People like to make a separate file for every single thing, she says, but documents are more likely to get filed if you're not hunting for micro-categories, so the "car" file can include insurance, maintenance and expense records.

Next, Reich zeroes in on a horror she finds in almost every home: a plastic bin crammed with wires. No one ever knows what the electric cords and chargers in this box are for, she says, "but everybody is very afraid to throw it away. The processes of cellular replication that allow us to be boats rebuilt even as they cross the ocean cease acting efficiently, because they have no evolutionary reward for acting efficiently.

They are like code monkeys in a failing tech business: they can mess up everything, absent-mindedly forget to code for the color of our hair or the elasticity of our skin, and no penalty is exacted for the failure. That, at least, is the classic explanation of why we age, proposed by the British Nobel laureate Peter Medawar, in the nineteen-fifties. Once we have passed reproductive age, the genes can get sloppy about copying, allowing mutations to accumulate, because natural selection no longer cares. And so things fall apart.

The second law of thermodynamics gets us all in the end. And yet some trees go on for centuries, collecting rings, growing older without really aging. Some species—though those are often hard-to-track creatures, like Arctic sharks—may live for centuries. Even if aging at some speed is ultimately inevitable, what happens when we age is far from self-evident. Human beings are outliers: we live much longer than other creatures of our size, defying the general truth that smaller animals live shorter lives than bigger ones. Those extra thirty years of life, though won by advances in medicine and public health, are winnable because, given a little chance, we just go on.

The big question of human aging then becomes not why we fall apart but why nature lets us hold together for so long. Old folks are repositories of extended cultural memory: it would seem to be advantageous to have a few senior citizens around who know what to do, so to speak, when winter comes. People might not have a death sentence in their genes.

And so elsewhere in Cambridge, notably in certain genetic labs at Harvard, the chairs and seals and exaptated services of the AgeLab are regarded as mere Band-Aids on the problem to be solved. Here, there are whispers of undying yeast, tales of eternally young mice, rumors of rejuvenated dogs, and scientists who stubbornly insist that age is an illness to be treated like any other. Clear those off, he says, and the younger you, still intact in the information layer, jumps out—just as the younger Beatles jump out from a restored and remastered CD.

When a telephone switchboard was our most impressive knowledge-bearing mechanism, people thought that the brain was like one; when Xerox copies, growing less legible as generation passed to generation, were familiar to everyone, the image of a cell ceasing to replicate itself effectively in that manner was self-evident. One of his standard jokes is that the fifth floor of his lab is off limits to visitors, because that is where the mammoths and the Neanderthals live. He is also among a group of engineer-entrepreneurs who are trying not to make better products for aging people but to make fewer aging people to sell products to.

Perhaps aging is not a condition to be managed but a mistake to be fixed.


Sinclair, for one, has successfully extended the life of yeast, and says that he is moving on to human trials. In mice studies, genetic modifications that cause the rodents to make greater amounts of a single protein, sirtuin 6, have resulted in longer life spans although some scientists think that the intervention merely helped male mice to live as long as female mice. Church and Noah Davidsohn, a former postdoc in his lab, have engaged in a secretive but much talked-about venture to make old dogs new.

They have conducted gene therapy on beagles with the Tufts veterinary school, and are currently advertising for Cavalier King Charles spaniels, which are highly prone to an incurable age-related heart condition, mitral-valve disease; almost all of them develop it by the age of ten. But the team has larger ambitions. It has been identifying other targets for gene-based interventions, studying a database of aging-related genes: genes that are overexpressed or underexpressed—that make too much or too little of a particular protein—as we grow old.

In the CD replay of life, these are the notes that get muffled or amplified, and Davidsohn and Church want to restore them to their proper volume. Church is optimistic about the genetic-engineering approach. My guess is that dog trials will go well. Church is aware that the Food and Drug Administration, among other regulatory bodies, may not be crazy about weird new therapies that address what we customarily take to be a natural process.

The goal is youthful wellness rather than an extended long period of age-related decline. There are many skeptics among scientists who wonder how much, or how soon, this kind of work will really affect aging.

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  6. Others may recall the enthusiasm, in the early twentieth century, for implanting monkey glands in people, a procedure that was held out as a scientific solution to the problem of aging. Yeats had a related procedure. The fountain of youth is always splashing away somewhere. Behind the optimistic promise of heading off aging in spaniels and, soon, in their owners lies a sadder reality: that even foundational research cannot always cure a fundamental problem. Despite what had seemed to be groundbreaking discoveries in the basic genetics and pathology of dementia, no cure or even promising treatment for senility, as it once was called, is in sight.

    Here, there is talk not of imminent innovation but of discouragingly minute work proceeding on many slow-moving fronts over decades. His tenth-floor office is filled with reproductions of Blake illuminations and Whistler portraits, while photographs of his children cycle on the screen saver behind him, blended with images of whales and dolphins, a particular interest of his.

    He is white-haired, with the soft accent of his native Switzerland. We do tissue staining, taking a piece of brain or an entire brain—slicing them into very thin sections, which we incubate with an antibody that labels a specific population of neurons, and we collect that. If a room still somehow looks messy after you've cleaned, it's time to improve your organizational system, which, according to Brown, should allow you to tidy up in 15 minutes or less. Once you've pulled out what you don't need—to either throw away or donate—the next step is to group things together based on use or occasion and store them in open containers.

    They can be any material you want—wood, wire mesh or clear plastic—and are available at most home goods stores. For the bedroom, store everyday items—like underwear and socks—in top drawers, workout clothes in the second or third drawers and pants in the bottom drawers. In the bathroom, keep cotton swabs and other daily use items on the counter within arm's reach, and tools you use occasionally under the cabinet. Flat surfaces like your dining room table, entryway table and kitchen counters tend to accumulate piles faster than any other spot in the house, explains Isaacs, who advises clients to make clearing all flat surfaces part of their nightly routine—right along with washing their face and brushing their teeth.

    But if that doesn't work, her last-ditch trick is to physically block any surface that has become a clutter haven. Every time I try on a piece of clothing and then take if off again because it's unflattering, doesn't fit, is pulled, stained or out of style, I put it in the bag," Brown says. When the bag is full, Isaacs explains, donate the clothes or trade them with a friend at a swap party. When you're ready to roll up your sleeves and take on an organizing project, follow these steps to restore and keep! Set up a staging area, like the dining table, then empty whatever you're organizing so you can spot doubles, giveaways, and must-saves fast.

    Then use organizers like clear containers and baskets without lids so you can quickly access what's left of your pared-down collection. Keep the items you use every day in plain sight—or at least at eye level.

    Guide to Organizing Your Home

    Think attics or out-of-reach shelving in a garage. Not only will this storage system make it easier for you to find the things you use often, but the items you don't use regularly will stay organized until you need them. Think carefully about what you allow into your home. Consider your needs before accepting hand-me-downs or agreeing to store a friend's kayak for the off-season.

    If shoes aren't your size, skip 'em. If you do have space to hang on to something temporarily, set a pickup date so your basement doesn't become a free storage unit. Often clutter becomes such a fixture, you look right past it.

    Sudden Departure Syndrome - 10 tips for organizing and living your life Sudden Departure Syndrome - 10 tips for organizing and living your life
    Sudden Departure Syndrome - 10 tips for organizing and living your life Sudden Departure Syndrome - 10 tips for organizing and living your life
    Sudden Departure Syndrome - 10 tips for organizing and living your life Sudden Departure Syndrome - 10 tips for organizing and living your life
    Sudden Departure Syndrome - 10 tips for organizing and living your life Sudden Departure Syndrome - 10 tips for organizing and living your life
    Sudden Departure Syndrome - 10 tips for organizing and living your life Sudden Departure Syndrome - 10 tips for organizing and living your life

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