Archive for July, 2017

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!

 

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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?