Paper Piles

February 3, 2016

paper pile

Are you buried in paper piles? Do you know what’s in the stacks?

Perhaps you like to see the stack of papers as a reminder of something to take care of? Maybe it’s a group – a category – of papers that you want to have easy access to? Is there anything important or vital lurking in those piles? Could your missing passport, marriage license, social security card be hidden amongst these papers?

Do you lose track of what’s there? Maybe some things slip your mind or bills are left unpaid because they remain hidden in a pile? Does that ever happen to you?

I often hear from clients that they have a hard time knowing what to do with certain financial and legal documents. Which ones do they have to keep? How long should they keep them? Where should they keep them?

Other questions revolve around household receipts, user manuals, and medical receipts.

Since tax season will soon be upon us it’s time to start getting these papers organized so that you can easily get those taxes done and so that going forward you’ll know where to find your important documents, your bills, and your project notes or any other category of papers you may have!

This month I’ll be giving you some strategies and solutions to get on top of this paper work. I’ll tell you about some different ways to file your papers so that you can find what you need when you want it. No more wondering where on earth you put … and spending lots of time hunting through the stacks!

Let’s start by bringing all the paper piles from around your home into one central location. Decide where you want to work on these piles and bring all the piles to that place. If you have a large table or even a card table that you can put up as a sorting spot that would be terrific! This way you can be sure that you are dealing with all the paper. Now, don’t get the idea that you have to tackle all of this at once. We’re going to break it down into small manageable tasks so that you can really take control of the paper as it comes into your home. I’ll also be giving you some tips on how to maintain this sense of order.

Label the piles that you bring to your sorting place. You might label them by the location from which you removed them. For instance if the pile came from the kitchen label it ‘kitchen’. That might trigger you to remember what’s in the stack.

You will want to gather some supplies to this sorting spot. You may need some paper clips, post-it notes, a marking pen, manila file folders (these can be either colorful or plain), hanging files (these can be plain or colorful also), and a notebook binder or two. As time goes along you may decide you want other supplies but let’s start with these.

Knowing where to put papers you want to keep so that you can find them at a moment’s notice will give you a wonderful sense of accomplishment and peace of mind!

Reward Yourself

January 27, 2016

Over the last several weeks I’ve been talking to you about creating change in your habits. The way to go about making a lasting change and the benefits of taking small steps toward your stated goal.

This week I’m talking about the benefits of rewards. I don’t know about you but I do my best work when there is a reward to work for. Now, the reward is not always an object.

I like to treat myself: to an extra hour of reading time

woman reading

a mani/pedi

Closeup photo of a female feet with beautiful red pedicure

a massage

professional masseur doing massage of female back

or a movie complete with popcorn!

Popcorn and a remote control for the TV background

Sometimes my reward is the joy I receive from knowing that I’ve completed a task to the best of my ability (notice I did not say perfectly).

How about you? What sorts of rewards will work for you? Think about that. When you’re trying your best to create a new habit or a change in your routine and you successfully stick to your plan for the day consider rewarding yourself at the end of the day. If there’s no time for a reward today then schedule time in your calendar for that reward sometime very soon.

Make a list of the rewards you like best so that when it’s time to reward yourself you can treat yourself to something wonderful! Try to make your reward an experience.

I believe the more you can reward yourself for a job well done the more success you will have!

Baby Steps?

January 20, 2016

 

First steps

I wrote last week about taking small steps toward your stated goal. But, why take small steps? Why not just dive in and really make an impact? The reason is simply if you want to make lasting change, to create a new habit, the best way to do so is by being gentle with yourself and implementing the change over time.

Taking small steps allows your body and mind to get used to a shift in the pattern. Your inner voice might talk to you and say something like ‘this isn’t so bad, next time let’s do a little more’. Then you take the next step forward, pause, let yourself become accustomed to this new way before adding the next incremental level.

If you take huge steps you shock yourself and that’s not particularly friendly. Let’s say, for example, that you decided that you want to get more exercise and made a plan to workout at your local fitness center. You go for the first time and workout on the machines without regard to the amount of repetitions you’re doing or the weight you’re lifting. You go home and collapse on the couch. Every muscle in your body is sore. Do you think you’re going to want to go back? I don’t!

It’s better to start slowly. Lift light weights (or medium weights) and only do a few repetitions of each exercise. Then you’ll feel great and have more energy to proceed with the rest of your day. And you’ll want to go back. That’s what we’re looking for – the desire to continue to make a new habit (going to the gym, getting exercise on a regular basis)!

To update you on how I’m doing setting Monday aside working on my business housekeeping – it’s a bit of a struggle to not assign an errand or two to the empty space of Monday morning. So, I’m taking my own advice and starting slowly. I’m allowing myself to do 1 very necessary errand on Monday. Only 1.

How are you doing? Are you sticking to your plan? Is it hard? Have you compromised a little? Write me back I’d love to know!

 

New Habits for a New Year

January 13, 2016

Did you identify a habit to change? Perhaps you just want to shake up your routine. Take your time and change your habit little by little. If you’ve decided to lose a few pounds then why not start by reducing the size of your portions? You can even trick yourself by using a smaller plate. That way the portions look right for the size of the plate!

woman chosing salad over burger

If you decided to work out more often why not start by taking a short walk every day and then gradually increasing the distance you walk and the pace you set. There’s a great app for that. Check out RunKeeper. I use it every morning when I walk my dogs. I like to see how far we’ve traveled (usually not that far as I have limited time), what pace we kept (we walk slowly as my dog, Miles, likes to sniff a lot), and how many calories I’ve burned in the process.

young fitness woman hiker legs at forest trail

young fitness woman hiker legs at forest trail

If you want to get more sleep try going to bed five or ten minutes earlier each night until you arrive at the bedtime that works for you.

 

Bright moon in the night sky

Night fairy tale – bright moon in the night sky

Be consistent in your efforts and forgive yourself if you goof one day. Remember your reason for creating a new habit and make a plan to start implementing it. You may want to post some reminders around the house or set reminders in your phone to help you.

I know it will be hard for me to resist doing a few errands if I don’t have a client scheduled on a Monday morning and if I have errands to do. However, it has become increasingly evident to me that I really need to dedicate this time to business housekeeping. Knowing that makes me WANT to create this new habit.

Be sure about the habit you are choosing to create. Since you know that changing a habit is a challenge it’s not enough to need to change the habit. You also have to WANT to make this change. Once you have the desire to change, make a plan to take small incremental steps toward this new habit. Small steps are the key to lasting change.

 

Changes?

January 6, 2016

 

Changes ahead

So, now that we are really and truly into the New Year it’s time to act on the resolutions we made. I told you already that the big change I’m making in my weekly routine is to set Monday mornings aside to take care of business housekeeping. I resolved to keep those hours to myself. I have decided that I will not take care of errands or allow myself to book a client on a Monday morning.

What habit did you decide to change? Did you decide to work out more often? To lose a few pounds? To take more time for yourself? To get to appointments on time? To get more sleep by going to bed earlier?

The reason I have decided to set Monday morning aside for business housekeeping is that in the course of the last couple of years as I have become much busier with clients and other business opportunities (YIPPEE!) I have had less time to take care of these little details. I have been fitting them in – in between other tasks – and not giving them my full attention.

What’s your reason to create a new habit or change your routine? It will be easier to work on when you know exactly why you have decided to work on it.

Whatever it is that you resolved to do absolutely will not happen unless you make some changes in how you run your day or how you do what you do. This is a true statement. It may sound a little harsh but it’s a fact nothing changes if nothing changes. You can only have a new or different result by changing your habits.

It’s also true that it’s real work to change a habit. It’s so much easier to give into temptation and do things the way you’ve always done them. It’s also true that lasting change doesn’t happen overnight. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that it can be done. Next week I’m going to give you some strategies to start creating this new habit.

I’d love to know if there’s a change you’re going to make in your routine and if so, what it is.

Now, what did you do this year?

December 30, 2015

 

Happy New Year

As the new year is dawning and 2015 is drawing to a close I want to take a little time to reflect back on this past year. I do this to remind myself of the many things I accomplished. Sometimes it’s easier to remember the things that have gone wrong, to focus on the things left undone.

I think back through the year month by month. I keep a paper calendar so this is a fairly easy task. I can look at the weeks and see the appointments I kept, the places I went and the projects I worked on.

I believe if you keep an electronic calendar you can set it to keep your schedule for the year. I hope this is true because it’s so helpful to be able to look back.

As I look back on the year that was I can celebrate the things that went well and learn from the things that did not go as well as I would have liked.

I encourage you to take some time over the next couple of days to look back on this year. Write down your accomplishments. Think about the things that you would like to have done better.

I have decided to make a change in one of my habits. I realize upon reflection that I tend to put off the housekeeping side of my business. I fit in all those little tasks in and around other things. I don’t think my business really suffers but I know that I don’t give it the attention it requires to grow. I’m going to change this in 2016 and dedicate a few hours every Monday morning to these business tasks.

Is there something you would like to change in 2016? Write me back and let me know.

Remember to celebrate your accomplishments from 2015 and have a fun, safe and Happy New Year!

 

Pack Your Patience

December 23, 2015

Are you traveling for the holidays? Maybe you are visiting family or maybe family is coming to visit you?

Perhaps you’re spending the holidays with good friends? Whatever your plans be sure to pack your patience.

Traveling at this time of year whether you are traveling by plane, train or automobile can be stressful. Lots of people are on the road. Holiday expectations are high. I know that whenever I’m traveling during the holidays I simply can’t wait to get where I’m going and for the FUN to begin. Do you ever feel that way?

So, the slightest delay can put me on edge. It could be traffic related, or the plane is delayed or maybe my checked bag is slow to arrive on the baggage belt. I’ve learned over the years to breathe a little more deeply and to smile. This is where I pull patience out of my pocket. I know I will get to my destination eventually and I can hop right into the holiday fun upon my arrival.

If you’re staying with someone else try not to let your expectations get in the way of the actual plans. The expression: go with the flow comes to mind. Hopefully whoever you’re visiting has given you a heads up about the plans for the holiday. Letting you know about any parties, church activities, and other activities so that you have a sense of the schedule.

If you are the host consider posting a schedule of the events for the time they’re staying with you. Think about including some ideas of things to do in the area – sights to see – if they’ve never been to your home before. This will let your guests know what to expect and how they can participate.

A little knowledge is a powerful tool. It’s so helpful to know even the little things like how to start the coffee pot and where to find the extra roll of toilet paper!

Whatever your plans I hope you have a marvelous, relaxing, fun-filled and safe holiday!

Now What? The Perfect Time?

November 18, 2015
if not now,when?

if not now when concept on blackboard

Is there such a thing as “the perfect time”? Sometimes we look for the perfect time to do .. you can fill in the blank with whatever project is looming on your horizon. Often we think something like this project will take a long time. Then we go on to say to ourselves ‘there’s no point in starting it now because I don’t have enough time’.
I tell clients to take just five minutes to get that project underway. My clients are always amazed by how much they can get done in the five to ten minutes that they have available. This jump starts the project and gets it off the ground.
I was looking for ‘the perfect time’ to make a phone call to a friend. For several months (that’s right, I said months!) I put on my calendar that I wanted to call my friend Jeanne. It never happened – there was never the perfect time to make that call. I should have picked up the phone even if just to say ‘I’m thinking about you’
Last week, sadly, I lost her to cancer. Jeanne and I became friends from the moment we met. We met at the pool at our apartment complex in Singapore. She was there with her 2 children and I was there with mine. I remember it was an overcast day and we were the only two families out by the pool. So, naturally, we started talking. Jeanne and her children had only arrived in Singapore a few weeks earlier. I had been there a few months so I could share some tips about the American School. It turned out that her son, Matt, and my son, Alex, shared the exact same birthday! They were not going to be in the same class but they would see each other at school. Jeanne’s daughter, Meghan, and my other son, Andy, would be in the same class. Another coincidence was that Jeanne and Andy shared the same birthday. Needless to say, she and I were inseparable. We played tennis, went exploring, and participated in volunteer activities together.
Since we moved back from Singapore we were in sporadic touch. Jeanne lived in the Midwest and I was in the Northeast and then in Atlanta. I didn’t plan visits to see my friend. We phoned and then were in touch on Facebook. I loved seeing her ‘likes’ on my DNQ Solutions Facebook page.
I knew Jeanne had been diagnosed with cancer but she made light of it. This was typical of Jeanne – always looking at the positive and talking of things other than herself. As I said before,I made a note to call her in my planner once a week for several months. Sadly, that phone call never happened. I thought to myself that I wanted to be able to sit down and have one of our long heart-to-heart talks for at least 30 minutes. I never set aside that time. I was looking for that ‘perfect time’.
I have learned a painful lesson. I recall the saying ‘there’s no time like the present’. I will now reach out to my friends even if only to leave a message saying I’m thinking about you when the spirit moves me. I want my friends to know that I value their friendship.
If you have a friend that you haven’t been in touch with for a while take a few minutes and reach out to them with a text, a phone call, or a letter – even if it’s not ‘the perfect time’!

Now What? What do you do to take care of yourself?

November 4, 2015

Close-up of female hands holding teacup in front of opened book

Did you have a good and fun Halloween? I hope so! When my children were young we had the best time on Halloween. A friend of mine invited us all – my family and 3 other families – to come to their home, have dinner, and then go trick-or-treating. It was a blast! The children dressed up and went as a group knocking on doors, shouting “TRICK-OR-TREAT”, collecting candy and going on to the next door. We moms loved watching our young ones, making sure they all stayed together and took care of each other, and sharing our thoughts as we went walking down the sidewalk behind our children. We did this for many years. I have great memories of those times with my friends.

This Halloween tradition signaled the beginning of the Holiday season for me. Starting in November my calendar would always begin to get a little more jammed up with parties and responsibilities. I would begin to plan how I was going to get all the baking, shopping, decorating, and wrapping done well in advance of Christmas.

As the years went on I began to realize that I was taking care of everyone else and forgetting about myself. I started to plan little things just for me into my calendar. Are you wondering what sorts of things I plan for myself? They are little things: a half hour of peace and quiet reading a book, taking a bath, or doing some needlepoint. These are things I like to do that don’t cost anything, that help me relax, and that give me a feeling of well-being.

Think about it. What can you do to relieve the stress of the season? What sorts of activities let you relax, feel happy and centered?

Scheduling a few little things just for me is a wonderful way to make sure that I am able to take care of all that I have on my plate as well as myself during this very busy time of year. After all, I realize that I am much better at taking care of my family when I have taken time to take care of myself.

I’d love to know if you feel the same way and what you can do to take care of yourself!

Now What? How Flexible is Your Plan?

October 21, 2015

Young girl doing gymnastic exercises on the pier (ancient version)

How do you define flexibility? The dictionary has several different definitions. They are: 1. to be able to bend without breaking; not stiff or rigid; easily bent; pliant 2. Easily persuaded or influenced; tractable 3. Adjustable to change; capable of modification.

If you are physically flexible that will serve you well as you age. How do you maintain that flexibility? Easy – exercise regularly and focus on being able to move easily. I do competitive ballroom dancing as a hobby. Last weekend I participated in a dance competition in Atlanta. There was a woman 94 years young dancing tango, foxtrot, waltz, Viennese waltz and quickstep – wow! I imagine she practices regularly; since ballroom dancing requires you be physically fit and flexible as well as mentally alert and flexible.

At this time of year it’s easy to feel swamped or overwhelmed by all the activities and events. If you have children in school there are parties to volunteer for and field trips not to mention the school recitals and performances. If you are part of a volunteer group many celebrate and honor their volunteers in November right around Thanksgiving. I have a large family and keeping track of who is doing what, when and where can sometimes sound like a comedy routine.

This is where the third definition of flexibility comes into play. If you can adjust or modify your plan for the day you are brilliant! How can you do this? You start by being organized, by keeping your calendar up to date, and by having a plan for each day. When you know what you are doing, when and where then you also know what things can be shifted – modified – to accommodate a slight change in plan.

strategy photo

Chaos happens when you don’t start with a plan. When you let the day happen without having an idea of how you are going to get the things done that you want to do the day can float on by. You can be pulled in many different directions, never quite finishing any task. Letting the day float on by is a wonderful thing to do when you’re on vacation!

Try and create a plan for your day with your calendar in hand. Take note of your appointments, how long it will take you to travel there and back, how long the appointment will probably last. Then see where you can fit in errands or other tasks that you’d like to accomplish. Then take note of any remaining or free time. If something unexpected pops up you’ll be able to shift those errands and other tasks around to accommodate the unexpected event. You’ll also know what can be put off for another day.

This will help with that swamped and overwhelmed feeling that can creep up on us as we’re preparing for all the fall festivities!


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