Archive for the ‘organizing’ Category

Moving is Overwhelming

How long does it take to accumulate more stuff than you need? I’m a person who detests clutter not only for aesthetic reasons, but because I think better when things are neat and organized. Yet, it appears I have waaaay more stuff than I need or would ever use.

Stuff seems to fall into six categories:

  1. The things I use regularly and actually need
  2. Items I acquired because they were interesting and I might enjoy them
  3. The “someday” items that are clothed with good intentions
  4. Gifts
  5. Memorabilia
  6. Mystery items

Because I’m moving, drastic downsizing is mandatory. Going through two decades of books, clothes, art, and extensive miscellaneous stuff, I’ve learned two really important things. The first thing is that only the stuff in category #1 is worth packing and taking, like insurance papers, my computer, clothing, and shoes. The second insight came about from looking through everything in categories #2-#6. That is, looking through them is enough. It’s kind of like a review and letting go. It was nice to take those little trips down memory lane, but bottom line, living in the past is not for me. Would I truly miss a wooden cigar box, or a meditation candle I received one holiday? Did I really care about the glass that acknowledged Peter and Jennifer’s wedding? And what exactly are the little brushes for anyway that were in the box with printer ink?

So, in addition to scheduling time to go through everything, I also had to pack and label the things I’m keeping, and arrange for everything else to be sold, donated, given away, or shredded. It was a lot. But I thought how moving is such a great motivator. Going through all those things was fun, interesting, informative, and useful.

Wondering how this might work for you if you’re not moving? Consider the “gift of the month” exercise. Pick a drawer, shelf, box or whatever, that you haven’t gone through for quite a while (or ever). Set aside an hour or so one day that you’ll devote to emptying and looking at everything in that space. Put back only what really makes sense and discard the rest. What’s the gift? Well, it may be that you find something you’d been looking for or had forgotten. Or you have the gift of a newly decluttered and organized space.

Routine or Ritual?

 

Habits and routines created with intention can make life easier in so many ways. I don’t mean the unconscious habits of going for a snack when you’re bored or throwing clothes on the chair rather than hanging them up. Those are the habits that most people say they’d like to change.

What I’m talking about are the productive behaviors you want to change the problem behaviors to. I’m also including other positive routines and habits – such as regular sleep and wake time, paying bills every Friday, that kind of thing. For example, I have a morning routine that goes breakfast, exercise, shower and dress, work. Sometimes I have an early client and have exercise or shower after that. The actions of the routine may get shuffled but not neglected because they’ve become habitual.

Now with a ritual you are adding an additional element—the conscious intention of the behavior helping you be more of the person you wish to be. Here’s an example that uses the process of ritual:

Intention: Organizing a space in which you can find things, get things done, and keep what’s important to you safe. Hold the intention of creating your space as a sanctuary where you can be comfortable and focus on what is meaningful.

Planning: Schedule a block of time to look at all of the things in your space. During this time, you will make a decision about every item in your space. If something has no use or meaning, or is no longer important to you, consider letting it go. Some things will be tossed, some given away, and some perhaps stored elsewhere because they are rarely used. Next, look at what will stay – the things you want to keep and use all the time. Think about where it makes the most sense to put the items you’ve decided are special to you and support your intention.

Preparation: Your first action step is the clearing and de-cluttering. A cleansing process is often done to make way for something new. After clearing, find the right kinds of containers for the things you have. Now, take a break.

Manifestation: Set aside a morning or afternoon for the ritual. Enter the room and close the door. Sit down and focus on your intention.

Select one type of object—say books. As you recognize in what way they reflect who you are and what’s important to you, you can claim them as power objects. Put them in the areas you’ve decided upon.

To close the ritual, imagine doing what you will be doing in each area of the room. Do you feel better, worse or, the same as before? Make sure you feel good everywhere. Take a photograph of your space.

Integration: Put the photograph on the wall or in your journal. Use it as a daily or weekly reminder as perhaps the first step of a maintenance ritual.

To-Do, or Not To-Do

 

Is your To-Do list the bane of your existence? Or is it an effective time management tool? Those of us list-makers find that writing things down can alleviate possible memory issues, such as going to the market and leaving without the most important item, or packing for a trip to a beachside resort and discovering you forgot to pack a swim suit.

 

But some people personify the To-Do list and hear it relentlessly nagging with “you should…” or “when are you going to…” If you have a list with countless items and you don’t begin because you don’t know where to begin, you are likely to have thoughts like that run through your head.

 

Why not find ways to effectively manage your to do list?

  1. Categorize items
  2. Prioritize items in each category according to things like due dates
  3. Estimate roughly how much time, and when you can realistically attend to the high priority tasks
  4. Schedule them in your calendar as appointments

 

If you still feel that your To-Do list is more like the Grim Reaper constantly hovering over you than a helpful reminder of what you’d like to get done, how about a Not-To-Do list?

 

In her article “To-Do Lists are Great but Do-Not-Do lists Might Be Even Better for You,” Caroline Liu argues that a Do Not Do list lets you dump (or limit) the things that are keeping you from what’s really important. This list makes you look at all the things that you do do in your day and say, “this is not worthy of my time, I’m not going to do it any more.”

 

The key thing is to NOT. DO. THEM. ANY. MORE.

 

Three Tips for Managing Holiday Madness

Man in Santa Claus hat loooking depressed about his finances

Have you noticed that the winter holidays are starting earlier each year?

Even as days grow shorter and colder, calendars are filling up with all kinds of festive events and obligations. While our wallets aren’t getting any fatter, marketing for the “big” winter holidays is inescapable. We’re bombarded with ads and invitations to buy, buy, BUY. A whirlwind of parties, shopping, eating, and visiting families engulfs us. It all takes an emotional toll even as they allege good times.

Most creatures practice some form of hibernation during the winter months. In contradiction to nature, we humans rev up the action. You can protect yourself from the physical and emotional stress by following these simple steps:

  1. Learn to say no. It’s not mandatory to:
    1. do everything (Try, “Oh, jeez. Looks like I’m already committed then.”)
    2. see everyone (The above idea can work on this one, too.)
    3. eat whatever is offered (Choose what you really, really want and go for small amounts.)
  2. If you’re experiencing the anniversary of a loss in November or December, give yourself time to grieve.
  3. Try going a week without the newspaper, television, or social media… okay a day. A vacation from advertising and news can make a big difference in how you feel.

 

But if, for whatever reason, the season gets you down…don’t be afraid to see a professional. Help is always available. If I can’t help I’ll do my best to provide qualified referrals.

Three Tips to Avoid Late Fees

Penalty word in 3d letters on a steel bear trap to illustrate punishment, fees or fines for breaking rules

Do you ever procrastinate on paying bills? Solutions exist.

 

The List

First make a list of all your monthly bills and their general due dates. Note that some may be due weekly, while others are monthly or quarterly. Some bills will usually have due dates early in the month while others will be due later in the month. Organize your bills in the order that they need to be paid.

 

Pay Date versus Due Date

This is a place where lots of people screw up. Whether you pay electronically or send in a check, there is a time span between when the payment is made and when it arrives. If you pay online, your bank will usually have a note as to how many days it takes for the money to be transferred. If you put a check in the mail it could be anywhere from two days to who knows when. Scheduling pay dates a week before due dates is generally a safe bet.

 

Alert, Alert

If you’re income varies, have you noticed that institutions don’t like it when you try to pay a bill with money that doesn’t exist? Alerts can help with this. With online banking you can set alerts to send you an email with your balance daily or weekly. They can also let you know when a check posts, when you have a low balance threshold, and more. This is great information whether you are paying all your bills yourself or using automatic deductions to handle the job.

 

Finally, tips are only good ideas without implementation. So schedule a chunk of time in your calendar each week to be used for bill pay. Make it an appointment. If something that feels more urgent comes up, make sure to reschedule to a time within 24 hours.

Time Will Tell – Tools that Organize your Thoughts & Time

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Do any of these sound familiar?

  • You have a great idea in the shower and then forget it by the time you’re dressed.
  • A task you thought might take an hour actually takes three.
  • You sometimes get so caught up in one thing that you’re late for something else.
  • Prioritizing your schedule to address all your To Do’s feels impossible.

 

Solutions exist. I like things to be simple and easy to use so these three tools have passed muster. They are Aqua Notes, Time Timer, and Planner Pads.

 

www.myaquanotes.com says, “If you find that some of your best ideas and insights are generated in the tranquility and solitude of the shower…then AquaNotes® is for you! These waterproof notepads help you capture and preserve your ideas before they’re forgotten!” The 40 sheet, refillable pad suctions to your shower wall and even comes with matching pen.

www.timetimer.com has a line of timers, watches, and applications that helps you stay on track. Set the amount of time you want to spend on a specific task and have a bright visual of the time gradually elapsing so you know when you’re getting to the finish.

www.plannerpads.com has both paper and electronic easy-to-use systems that help you organize, prioritize, and schedule in ways that make sense.

 

Even the websites are user friendly. Check them out. Let me know if you start using any of them and tell me about your experience.

The Last Newsletter You’ll Ever Read

newsletter blog

Okay, this is not a promise. It’s more of a thought exercise.

What motivates you to read newsletters?
Do you look forward to useful tips, new information, special offers, upcoming events?
Do you open and read all the newsletters that arrive?
Do you anticipate the arrival of any of them?
Do you delete any unread?

I don’t know your situation, but I receive newsletters from people I barely know as well as from colleagues. Reading takes time and for most of us, our time is valuable.

There are three newsletters I read every time. Invariably they contain information I can use. A few others are interesting to me on occasion and I briefly scan them. And for the rest…there is a link at the bottom of every newsletter that lets you “unsubscribe.” (I hope I’m not shooting myself in the foot here).

So if time management is a concern for you, deciding how you can best use your time is important. If you are already using your calendar and focusing on your priorities (some of you know these are your “big rocks”) when and where do activities like reading newsletters fit for you? Deciding what’s important is important. If the information or education that arrives in a newsletter could have value, great. Look at your schedule and see when you have some time you can set aside for reading.

My intention is to provide a useful tip to you every month, along with a notice or two. If there’s something you’d like, please let me know. My goals is to give you information and tools you can implement.

Newsletter tips not enough? Contact me for that complimentary coaching session I offer.

Now Where Did I Put My…?

Lost Keys in the Freezer

My keys are in the freezer???

Does this ever happen to you? You’re carrying a few bags of groceries from the car to the house. Later that day, you’re in a hurry to leave again and your keys are nowhere to be found.

There are only so many things you can fully attend to at a time. When you’re engaged in a conversation, or have ten things on your mind something as “trivial” as where you set something down may shoot right past your short term memory.

My uncle Leon would have his glasses pushed up on top of his head. After looking all over the house for them, he’d offer me a quarter if I could find them for him. Easiest quarters I ever made. Like Leon, everyone misplaces things from time to time-you put your keys in your pocket because you’re carrying a few bags, hang up your jacket and later wonder where your keys are, or put the remote control down to get a snack then return and cannot find the darned clicker.

Two solutions:

1. Create places where you always (okay almost always) put certain items, like keys, phone, wallet, shoes. It’s kind of like having the address for them. Once you develop the habit, chances are you’ll find your items where they belong.

2. Calm down. For when you don’t put things where they belong, even if you’re in a rush, stop. Sit down. Close your eyes and breathe. Think about what you were doing when you last had the item. Recreate your steps. Do this as calmly as possible.

How do you decide where something “belongs” anyway? Where is the first place you generally look for the item? If there isn’t some place that seems obvious, pick a place a build the habit. I have a client who has to know where her keys are even if she cannot find anything else. Whenever she moves, the first thing she does is decide where “that place” is going to be for her keys. Even when she comes into the house with arms full of groceries, her keys always seem to land in their place.

Have you ever put something important in a safe place and then forgotten just where that place is? Again, having a special safe place that you use all the time can make a huge difference. Trust me. I still haven’t found two – hundred dollar bills I put safely away last fall.

Pop Up Thoughts

You know the scenario:
You’re in the shower, just got into bed, or out walking your dog and you think of an important appointment you need to make; or something you forgot to do; or that you want to call your mother/brother/best friend. These “must do” tasks are popping in at random times most likely because, A) you didn’t write them down in an appropriate spot, or B) you did write them down, but let them get pushed aside by other tasks or thoughts.
Having daily and weekly tasks lists, and using them, makes getting thing done in a timely fashion so much easier.
Here’s one way to go about it:
• At the beginning of each week, jot down the necessary tasks for the various areas of life—your home, health, work, family, and so on.
• Consider if the item is a project that can be broken down into smaller tasks. If it can be:
• Decide if the tasks are one-time actions, like dropping off cleaning, or require greater frequency such as responding to business calls.
• Prioritize the tasks by how important each is to accomplish on a given day or week, especially if a task is one step toward completion of a project with a due date.
• Look at your calendar. (You do use one, right?)
• Find appointment free spaces each day and plug in the tasks for the day at those times.
• At the end of the day, review your calendar and update your task list for subsequent days.
Learn from your task list. What got done? What didn’t? Do same things get pushed aside regularly? If you find you are continually avoiding tasks and carrying them over, that is a different issue.
Feel free to contact me for ideas and support.

Who’s in Your Head?

Does this ever happen to you?
Before leaving for an appointment this morning, I checked my email one last time (just to make sure nothing urgent came in. Then, before I knew what I was doing, I opened one that had an intriguing subject line. Wouldn’t you know it, the article had information I was interested in pursuing. I clicked the link that took me to the website that had a list of “helpful resources.” As I scanned the list noting several articles and sites I’d like to check out the “adult voice” in my head reminded me that I had an appointment to get to and that the resources would still be there in the afternoon. Sometimes my eagerness to pursue something interesting gets the best of me. Fortunately, I have more than one voice in my head.
Capture

Eric Berne developed a theory of Transactional Analysis. He said we have three ego states – parent, adult and child. The parent state is the one that creates the “should” that make us feel so guilty. Everyone has this part and it can be relentless. Then there’s the child state. When we’re functioning from this place we’re either resisting the parent state, maybe even being oppositional, or we’re just into having fun. The place you want to come from is the adult state. When you’re there your decisions are not based on what you should do or what’s fun, but on what makes sense.

How do you know what makes sense for you at any given time? One way is to have a future check with an “if…then” conversation (yes in your head). i.e. “if I do this now here’s what is likely to happen as a result.”

You can develop the habit of listening to the adult voice in your head that suggests behaviors that make sense. This is really preferable to being cowed by the tyranny of “should“ or the voice that doggedly resists being told what you must do or be. Of course, it does take time to develop and maintain a habit. Having someone to hold you accountable will help you succeed.
You can do it yourself with commitment and a tracking sheet, find an accountability partner, or better yet, work with a coach.

Who do you know that would love a half hour phone coaching session as a holiday gift? My gift to you when you book your own complimentary session before November 30th.

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