ICD Conference Highlights

October 3, 2017

Dear Reader,

I have moved my blog over to my website. I would love for you to take a look. It has a new and improved look.

This new entry – about the conference I just attended is there.

You can find the blog at: https://www.dnqsolutions.com/blog

I hope to connect with you there.

Thanks,

Diane

 

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Procrastinating is a habit!

August 28, 2017

I’ve been talking about habits and routines recently – although I took a break from this topic a couple of weeks ago to get on my soap box and talk about trash! Anyway, procrastination is one of the worst habits to adopt.

do it - procrastination concept

Think about it. Procrastinating is a habit. If you have a list of things you want to do and you have nothing in particular going on and nothing on your list is accomplished what happened? You found other things to do that were not on your list. You procrastinated, put off getting things done that you indicated on your list you wanted to do.

Let’s talk about this habit.

First of all, admit that procrastinating is a choice. Just like everything you do is a choice. You can choose to browse through your Facebook feed, watch television, read a book, play in the garden, needlepoint, watch a movie, putter about or whatever and be totally entertained for hours or you can choose to do a task from your list.

Next, go through your to-do list and estimate how long it will take you to complete each task. Write down the estimated length of time next to each item.

Now think about your available time.

Then rank your to-do list. Is there any task that is absolutely important to do today?

O.k. now, think about fun things.

Reward yourself for completing most – let’s say 80% – of your to-do list with a fun activity. What will you choose to do?

You can avoid procrastination by talking yourself out of it – if that’s what you want to do. It’s your choice.

Do you want to accomplish something that’s on your list today?

Decide what time will work with your schedule to tackle that task and, at the appointed time, go ahead and do it!

Remember procrastinating is a choice. Just like taking action is a choice. It’s up to you!

Write me back and let me know what you decided and how you’ll reward yourself!

Routines

August 8, 2017

girl gymnast athlete isolated

Last week I talked to you about habits. Some habits are good habits and easy to maintain, some are not so great and can be replaced with better habits.

What about routines? What is the difference between a habit and a routine?

First, let’s talk about what makes it a routine.

A routine is a series of actions that is repeated so often that it becomes automatic.

We know that gymnasts have routines (a series of acrobatic moves) that they practice on the balance beam, on the floor mats, on the parallel bars – you get the idea.

 I can think of all sorts of routines that happen and I bet you can too. Professional athletes, for instance, have routines they follow to warm up their muscles before they either practice or play their sport.

I have routines which I practice every day. I have a morning routine and an evening routine. These twice daily routines help me move quickly through some regular chores in my home. I don’t even think about them anymore. I just move quickly through my morning routine and when I get home in the late afternoon I settle into my evening routine.

My morning routine goes like this: I get up, let my dogs outside, feed both the dogs and myself breakfast, water my plants, tidy the kitchen, walk the dogs, quickly vacuum the kitchen (my dogs shed a lot), and then shower and start the rest of my day.

Are you thinking, that’s a lot to take care of. Well, honestly, I take the most time on my morning walk and in the shower. The other things take no more than a few minutes. And, I’ve done this routine for so long that I don’t even think about doing these tasks. I just do them.

My evening routine is different. I come home from work, update my client files, do a final check of email and respond to some – if necessary. Then I spend a few minutes tidying my desk and workspace. This way it is ready for me in the morning. The last thing I do is make my list for the next day. I review my appointments, think about what I want to do for my business, any volunteer responsibilities I have and how I might fit them into my day, and plan my day. I do this with the understanding that something may come up to prevent me from accomplishing what I set out to do. This way when the unexpected happens I am prepared!

I sleep well because I’m not trying to remember what I have to do the next day. I am certain, because I follow this routine, that I have written out my plan for the day.

My routines keep my house tidy and my business running smoothly. Like most things my routines get tweaked from time to time.

Do you have a routine you follow?

Child girl doing gymnastic exercises

Do your children have routines?

Even the youngest of children can follow a short routine. It provides structure to their mornings and evenings. A friend of mine was telling me that her 9 month old grand-daughter has an evening routine. She has a bath, puts on her pajamas, turns on a white noise machine, gets her lovey and goes to sleep. Of course, her mother or her grandmother do most of these things for her. But, this is the routine they follow and this little girl is content. She can predict what comes next.

Write me back and tell me about your routines. If your routines aren’t working for you I’d be happy to talk with you to help you to create ones that better fir your lifestyle.

Habits

July 29, 2017

Smiling woman snapping cigarette in half

Last week I was talking about organizing time or rather organizing what you do to make the best use of your time. I told you that your habits and routines can help or hinder you in this regard. Today I’m talking about habits.

Do you have habits? What are they? I have a habit of waking up early in the morning. I love this. There’s a hush outside. Usually the air is still. It’s so early the birds aren’t even up yet. I love to sit outside with my cup of tea and listen. Slowly, the birds start talking to each other, then the squirrels start scurrying around and the day dawns. This is one of my habits. I definitely don’t want to change it.  

My habit of getting up early and quietly contemplating the day ahead allows me to start my day stress free. I am relaxed and ready to put my energy into the day ahead. I love this habit.

I did have a terrible habit.

I used to smoke cigarettes. Back when I was very young and thought it was cool to smoke. This habit caught on with me and I smoked a lot, particularly when I was playing bridge. We (the four of us) would light our cigarettes, put them in the ashtray and let the smoke billow around us as we studied  our cards. I smoked for about 3 years. Then, I got sick with pneumonia. The doctor told me not to smoke. Truthfully, I didn’t want to. I was having a hard enough time just breathing. I never picked that habit back up. I think it was easy for me to break or change that habit because of the circumstances.

What if I want to change a habit now? Perhaps I should ask, what if I want to replace an old habit with a new one?

Some habits are like a warm, comfy, soft sweater. They are easy. We know what they feel like. We don’t even need to think about them – they just sort of happen; like the early morning habit I described above.

Other habits are more like a scratchy sweater. You wear it because it’s handy but it bothers you. You take it off only to put it back on because you don’t have a replacement sweater handy.

When you want to change a habit it is easier to have an idea of the habit you want to create – your replacement habit.

For instance, let’s say you’re in the habit of having a cookie after dinner. You don’t really think about it, you just grab a cookie and snack away. You’ve decided you’d like to eat more fruit. You want to replace the habit of eating a cookie with eating some grapes. Remind yourself by putting a post-it note on the cookie jar. It might say: Eat Grapes! Have snack size bunches of grapes in an easy to grab spot.

After a while you won’t need the reminder post-it. It does take time and mindful practice to create a new habit. It also takes great will-power. If you have a reason for changing your habit, remind yourself in visible notes of that reason. Maybe you want to eat healthier or loose a pound or two.  Maybe you want to have a little ‘me time’ in the early morning. Some time to yourself before engaging with the rest of your family and your list of to-dos.

My habit in the evening used to be that I would work on my needlepoint while watching (really listening) to television. I got out of that habit but it’s something I want to start again. I have a beautiful canvas, that will become a pillow, that’s about half-way finished. I really want to finish it, and I can if I would just get it out and stitch away for an hour or so in the evening. To remind myself I have a post-it on the tv remote that simply says: Stitch!

Is there a habit that you want to create or renew? Write me back and let me know!

 

Organizing Your Time?

July 21, 2017

Stopwatch.

How do you organize your time? Can you organize your time? This is a trick question.  There are many things I can and do organize very well but time? That’s another question.

You see, no one can hold onto time. I believe time itself is already very organized. There are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour and 24 hours in each day – everyday. We can all agree that these are facts.

Time doesn’t need to be organized.

What can be organized, however, is how you plan your day, the things you want to do and accomplish within the time you have.

I told you, it was a trick question.

We all have things we want to do and we have things that we are compelled to do. How do we get it all accomplished without working ourselves into the ground? Another question is how do we fit in time to exercise, have fun and relax?

Good habits, routines to follow and a great system of planning and prioritizing will help you do all that.

Where do you start?

Start with planning and prioritizing.

Summer time is a great time to start thinking about your priorities. During this time of year the pace can be a bit slower. Take advantage of it and do some critical thinking. What’s important to you and your family? You can think long term or break it down and think about what’s important in the next few months, weeks, or even the next couple of days.

Make a list of these priorities. Then rank them. Which one is most important? Is one of these priorities time sensitive? Would you like to have it completed by a certain date?

When you know that information, take out your calendar or planner (I prefer a paper calendar as I find it easier when I can see the items in my calendar without having to click on a day), and schedule the end date into your calendar.

Be sure to enter into your calendar all appointments and commitments. Please do not say to yourself, I don’t need to write it down – I’ll remember. You don’t need to ask your brain to hold onto to that information. You may well remember and if it’s written down you definitely will not forget!

These are the big things that are going on in your life.

What about the day to day tasks that you want to take care of?

That’s where good habits and routines come in. I’m going to talk with you about how to go about creating good habits and routines next week.

For now, write me back and tell me what’s important for you to get done in the next month.

I’ve promised myself (and scheduled time) to complete my home inventory this month.

Your turn – what are you going to finish this month?

 

Summer Slow Down

July 12, 2017

 

It’s hot and steamy here in Atlanta. Most afternoons we can count on the clouds filling in and then bursting with rain over one part of the city or another. And, did I mention it’s hot. It’s so hot that doing anything outside in the early afternoon is just out of the question.  Early morning and late afternoon (if it’s not raining) are my times to get out in the garden. My dogs, Miles and Josie, agree. They come outside with me but will typically lie outside the door and go back in as soon as I open the door for them. Just so you know, I always have a bowl of fresh, cool water outside for them!

 

These hot summer days make for a bit of a slower pace. It’s a good time to take long walks in the early morning, relax in the shade or inside during the day, and maybe do some grilling in the evening.  Take this time when the pace of life is a bit slower to enjoy. It’s so easy when the pace is fast to scurry from one thing to the next. Practice being truly present while the pace is not so frenetic. You may find that this is the way you want to be. You may find that really engaging in whatever it is you’re doing brings a greater sense of satisfaction. Perhaps you’ll let this feeling carry over when the pace picks up again in a few weeks.

 

It can also be a good time to reflect on our plans and priorities when the pace picks back up. What will be important when volunteer groups get back together? Do you have a project that you’d like to complete this fall? Are these slower days good days to make some initial lists?

 

Where will you record these ideas and thoughts? Consider putting them down on paper. You know, actually using a pen and putting your thoughts on a page. I love journaling. I take a few minutes every morning to write down my thoughts. Sometimes I talk about what happened the day before, sometimes I write about what I’m hoping to accomplish today. This journal helps me to remember my aspirations. And to celebrate those which have come to fruition. Of course, you can also use your computer to keep a document of these ideas.

 

Here in the South many of the schools start back up in late July. We only have a few more short weeks to relish this relaxed, summer slow down.  I’ll be taking my dogs for long morning walks by the river, weeding and pruning my garden, dancing, and organizing clients.

 

Beautiful nature at morning in misty spring forest with sunHow will you spend this time?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Organizing Lessons Learned on the Dance Floor

July 5, 2017

F7E92B04-B6E2-4C95-BC60-5EC0BADFB567Many of you know that one of my hobbies (a hobby about which I’m passionate) is ballroom dancing. A couple of weeks ago I attended the 20th Anniversary of the Millennium Dancesport Competition run by Mr. Michael Chapman. This competition is absolutely one of the best. It is really well organized and lots of fun! Mr. Michael Chapman always has a theme. This year his theme was Addicted to Love.
As you might imagine the colors in the ballroom reflected his theme. The chair coverings were black with a red band wrapped around the chair back. The table tops were adorned with fuschia pick feathers or miniature Eiffel Towers (you know Paris is the city of love, right?) or a very high heeled shoe with sparkles. The stage had enormous three-dimensional fuschia pink letters on it spelling out the word LOVE. The ballroom was so festive and everyone – all of us dancers – looked gorgeous with our ball gowns, hair and make-up.
This year there were over a thousand participants with more than seventeen thousand entries. WOW! The competition started on a Tuesday and continued through the week ending on Saturday. My partner and I danced on Thursday and Friday. We were there for the whole competition because part of the fun is watching the other dancers. In fact, I always learn something from watching the others.
The competition officially ended on Saturday evening with a fantastic professional show. Sunday morning these same professionals got up early to give a master class. Each of six professionals gave a 30 minute mini-class. The information they shared was terrific. I took lots of notes and plan to incorporate much of what they said in my dancing.
Are you wondering what all this has to do with organizing?
The competition, as I said before, was very well organized. We, participants received a terrific tentative schedule of events. It listed each day and that day’s events. We also received a HUGE binder with all the heat lists. Every event ran on time or a little early which was great. I know that lots of time and effort went into the planning. This made it easier to plan my time on and off the dance floor. My partner and I could predict when we’d have time to do a little practicing and when we could leave the ballroom to get a snack.
I was fascinated to hear each of the professionals talk about organizing as an important skill to employ with their dancing. They emphasized the fact that they must be organized in their body before beginning any dance.
They check the basics: they stretch, check their alignment, their breathing and notice if there is any tension in their body. If there is tension in their feet it could throw them off balance.
They talked about keeping it simple. They like to do simple steps within challenging patterns. They said do not mistake simple for easy. There is nothing easy about doing simple things really well and seamlessly.
Interestingly, they also told us if they are having trouble with a series of steps they break the series down into small components and tackle each one independently.
These are some of the same strategies I teach my clients.
I ask that my clients be ready to organize when I arrive. This means that they are mentally prepared to work with me.
We talk about the purpose of each room understanding that some rooms are multi-functional.
If the organizing project is large we break it down into small, manageable steps so that we can make progress and not feel overwhelmed.
Take small breaks when tackling an organizing project. This helps to clear the mind and let you reset your focus on the task at hand. It gives you renewed energy when you can walk away for a few minutes, take a breath or two, relax and then come back to do the next step.
I also teach straight forward simple strategies tweaked to the learning style of my client. Creating these strategies is never easy as changing what you do habitually is never easy but it can be done through regular and repeated practice.
I loved learning that so many of the organizing techniques I employ with my clients these professional world champion dancers use when practicing and perfecting their dances.

 

Do you have a simple organizing technique you incorporate into your daily life?

 

Tidy Drawers?

June 14, 2017

Tidy Snap

Are your drawers tidy? Don’t you wish that there was an easy way to fold your t-shirts and keep them folded – even after you’ve rummaged through the drawer looking for the shirt you want to wear? Alison Tringale has created a product that is so simple to use even her little girls use it.

Want to know what it is? It’s called Tidy Snap.

I’ve included the link to the product here. www.tidysnap.com

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m not being paid to write this review. Alison read some of my recent blogs about children and chores and thought I’d like to see her product, Tidy Snap, since it has helped her children fold their shirts. She very nicely sent me her product and I took it to a client’s house to see if her young daughter could fold a t-shirt the tidy snap way. She could!  And she thought it was really cool (which means to me that she will want to use it to fold her t-shirts). Her mom was as impressed with the Tidy Snap as I was.

In addition to keeping the shirts tidy in the drawer it will also save time. Imagine how wonderful it would be if your child could quickly and easily find the shirt they want to wear without making a huge mess in the drawer or dumping all the shirts on the floor!

There is a video on the tidy snap website which demonstrates how to use the product. Since it is so simple to use it’s easy to see that with the tidy snap you can involve your children in not only putting their laundry away but also in the rolling of their shirts the tidy snap way!

I think there are multiple uses for the Tidy Snap system. I can see using it to keep my collection of scarves tidy in a basket or drawer. I hang my camisoles so that I can easily see which one to wear. The Tidy Snap would help me out there too. I could use it to keep my camisoles tidy in a drawer or in a basket on a shelf saving hanging space for clothes which really need to hang.

I bet you can come up with even more creative uses for the Tidy Snap. Check out Tidy Snap’s website and then write me back and let me know what you think.

Summer’s Here – Let’s Play!

June 6, 2017

Do not despair if you haven’t enrolled your child in activities so that he’ll be busy every moment during the summer. Let your child find things to do. It’s really good to have nothing to do  –  except play.

Try not to use the television, cell phone, i-pad, computers as babysitters. Limit the amount of time your child spends engaged in technology/ screen time. While it may seem like a good idea to have your children engaged in this way, after all they are busy and not getting into trouble, the truth is that instant entertainment robs your child of the opportunity to use his imagination.

Using his imagination is also a wonderful skill to encourage. When children are bored or have ‘nothing to do’ they come up with creative ways to occupy themselves. Provide building blocks or legos and you have the framework on which to build any number of fictional situations. Even crayons, markers and paper are great entertainers. And what about having a family jigsaw puzzle to put together?

Some technology time is good. It can be used to review or practice math facts, to do some problem solving, and other school related skills.

You can also involve your child in activities around the house. Sorting and categorizing are critical skills. Let your child engage in sorting the cutlery from the dishwasher. Then teach him where to put the forks, knives and spoons away. He can also help sort the laundry. Teach him how to sort the colored clothes from the whites. He can even measure out the detergent and start the washing machine. When the laundry is dry he can match socks, fold some things and help put the laundry away.

If you like to bake,  ask your child to help you measure the ingredients. He can practice his reading and read the recipe to you and follow the directions along with you.  If he is old enough, perhaps he’d like to take over some of the cooking!

Am I suggesting that your child help with chores around the house? Yes! I am. It’s important to instill in our children a sense of responsibility for the care of their home. When better to do this than when they do not have schoolwork to attend to? There have been an increasing number of stories in the news about millennials who do not have the skills necessary to live independently. You can give your child these necessary skills by teaching them basic skills when they are young and then gradually increasing the amount they are involved in the household chores as they get older.

If your child is doing a great job helping you around the house and you give him an allowance for doing these chores why not help him open a savings account? You can teach him about money. Teach him to save some money aside from each allowance and let him watch his money grow. He can learn about interest payments and experience pride when he has saved up enough money to purchase something for himself.

The opportunity for learning is all around us. Take advantage of the summer months to engage your child in conversation, imagination, and exploration. Have fun engaging in all these wonderful activities with your child. After all, it’s summer time – let’s play!

Happy Memorial Day

May 29, 2017

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On the local news this morning there was a segment on how local communities here in Atlanta are celebrating and remembering those who’ve served in our armed forces. There was a picture of a boy scout placing flags in front of gravestones at a cemetery and there was information about several parades.

On the Today Show there was a segment about two sisters who’ve started a company called Sword and Plough. Their company makes things like handbags and tote made from surplus military material. They use things like old parachutes and fabric from old uniforms. Another interesting thing about this company is that they employ veterans and one of the sisters is a veteran herself! I remember seeing them on an episode of Shark Tank and thinking what a great idea. The tote bags, in particular, look great and would be really durable. Interestingly, the sharks did not bite – no one made them an offer.

Another segment on the Today Show featured an interview with Donald Rumsfeld and Ryan Manion. She was talking about the Travis Manion Foundation. Named after her brother, Travis, who lost his life while serving in the military in 2007. This foundation goes around the country talking to groups about the military. Donald Rumsfeld made the point that since our military is not required service it’s important to have those serving in the military connect with people who may consider such service.

My son is one such person. He decided to join the Navy. He proudly served in the Navy. The picture above is from his graduation from boot camp.

I met a young man at a local plant nursery the other day. He helped me load my car with plants. I think many of you know that gardening is a passion of mine. I was talking with this young man about his plans for the summer. He told me that in addition to working at the plant nursery he was training at a swimming pool. I asked if he was joining a college swim team. His answer was ‘no’. He was enlisting in the Navy and wanted to train to be a SEAL. Wow. I wished him good luck and thanked him for his service.

Today, I am thinking about how thankful I am to know dedicated young men. I am remembering and saying prayers for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. And, I am saying prayers of thanks for those who have served our country and returned home to their loved ones.

I’ll also be celebrating the unofficial start to summer with a barbecue. It’s a beautiful day here in Atlanta and I’m looking forward to starting up the grill and serving up potato salad, hamburgers, and hot dogs with the accompanying chips, dip and beer! I think we’ll offer up a toast to our military at the beginning of this fun time this afternoon.

What are you doing today? Do you celebrate Memorial Day? Write me back and let me know.