Archive for the ‘action’ Category

Do You Ever Feel Like A Hamster?

September 28, 2016

Business loop

I’ve been talking about moving and changing routines the past few blogposts. I was going to say weeks but I know I haven’t been posting every week – life has been getting in the way.  That leads me to the title of my blogpost this week.

Do you ever feel like a hamster? I’m not talking about a hamster who is idly nibbling on a carrot or a piece of apple. I’m talking about a hamster who is stuck in a wheel. No matter how fast or how long the hamster runs he never gets out of the wheel – until he steps jumps off.

Well, that’s how I’m feeling these days. No matter how much I do or what I change I can’t seem to catch up to the point that I feel in control. This might (you know it does) have something to do with the fact that I sometimes (often) take on many challenges at once.

Have you ever felt this way? Like there’s simply too much on your plate?

I want to tell you how I plan to get on top of all that I have going on. Maybe you can apply some of these strategies to your sense of overwhelm.

1.      Make a comprehensive list of all I have going on

a.      Chores

b.      Volunteer responsibilities

c.      Home improvement wants and needs

d.      Business responsibilities

e.      Hobbies

2.      Under each category make notes about the next steps to take – for example

a.      Errands to run

b.      Tasks to complete before the end of the year

3.      Get out my calendar

a.      Prioritize the tasks

b.      Schedule time in my calendar to complete the tasks

4.      Make a daily list of the things I want to accomplish

a.      Refer to may calendar

b.      Take into account appointments

c.      Remember to schedule time to exercise

d.      Also take time to relax

I know I will be able to jump off this hamster wheel I’m on when I take control of all these things that I have going on.

How about you? How will you regain control and jump off the hamster wheel?

Feeling Overwhelmed?

April 27, 2016

It’s not unusual to feel a bit overwhelmed at this time of year. Why? Well, if you have children there are all the end of year school activities. These include awards ceremonies, class parties, prom, graduation ceremonies and parties, athletic competitions and the list goes on. If you don’t have children the groups you belong to may be winding down, finishing up activities.

Then there is the yard. If you live in the South you may be changing out the winter annual plants and replacing them with the spring/summer colorful annuals. If you live in the North you may be guarding the tender perennials that are just starting to grow. In fact, yesterday my sister told me they were expecting snow in Vermont. She was concerned that the plants that were poking their heads out of the ground might be damaged by freezing temperatures!

What to do about this feeling of having so many things to do and a finite amount of time?

First of all, BREATHE!

When I’m feeling this way, overwhelmed, I sometimes forget to take deep breathes. How about you?

Start by getting out your calendar and noting all the due dates.

Then get out a sheet of paper and write down the steps you need to take to bring each event to completion.

Some events may just be a matter of getting there on time. Others may need you to take some actions – like buying or making cookies for a class party or planning a pre-prom parent party!

Once you have broken each of these tasks down into steps get your calendar back out and schedule those steps into your planner. Take into account your regular chores and activities and be sure to allow travel time or set up and clean up time.

I know that this is something I have just done for myself as I was feeling overwhelmed by all the little tasks I have to complete in the next few weeks. I was definitely feeling overwhelmed and under-prepared. Writing everything down and breaking the tasks into their steps helped me. I hope it helps you too.

 

What Do You Model?

April 20, 2016

 

Fashion kid concept - beautiful stylish little cute girl child w

No, I’m not asking if you model clothes or if you are featured in magazines. I’m more interested in what behavior you model for the people in your life.

Oh, do I have your attention? Have you ever heard the expression “monkey see, monkey do”? Well this expression describes what often happens. Think about the people in your life who you admire. Do you copy some of the things they do or say? For instance, if someone you admire says ‘I like ….’ (you can fill in the blank) I think you might be inclined to agree with them. Also, if a person I admire says ‘I’m trying to live a healthier lifestyle. So, I’m going to join a fitness club. Do you want to join with me?’ I would probably say ‘sure! I’ll give it a try!’ I’d be doing that because I like and admire the person and want to copy some of the things they do. How about you? What would you do?

Now, think about yourself. Do you have children? What do you do that they might copy? Remember children will copy the good and the not so good behaviors. They are watching you and reading your body language for clues all the time.

If you say ‘Oh, no! There’s so much dusting to do. I hate dusting.’ Then you turn around and say ‘I don’t think I’m going to do that today.’ You teach your children the language to use when they don’t feel like doing something. Conversely, if you say ‘there’s so much dusting to do! I’m going to do a little now and a little later to break it up.’ You model negotiating behavior. You let them know that there’s a lot but that it’s doable by breaking it down into more than one session dusting. The time will come when you ask them to take out the trash (or some other task) and they could say ‘I don’t feel like doing that right now’ or they could negotiate and say ‘how about if I take it out after I finish my homework’.

If you leave your clothes on the floor or draped over furniture and then tell your children to put their clothes away you are giving them the message ‘do as I say, not as I do’.

Think about the behaviors you would like to see in your children. Do you want them to become accustomed to leaving glasses and dishes in their room or do you want them to clear their dishes and glasses to the kitchen sink when they’re finished with them? Maybe even put them into the dishwasher?

Do you want them to leave their shoes laying around the house or is there a place in their closet for their shoes? What about your shoes? Do you leave them where they fall when you kick them off at the end of the day? Or do you kick them off, pick them up and carry them with you to your closet?

Think about the modeling you do now and let me know if you think you want to model some things a little differently or not.

 

 

Paper File Maintenance

February 24, 2016

Close Up Of Folder For Household Bills

Over the last several weeks I’ve been talking about paper. We set up action files, files for your file cabinet, and archival files. There should be no more wondering what to do with the paper as it arrives in your home. I hope you’re not thinking that once your files are organized you’re done because you’re not.

A filing system only works if the system is used, updated periodically, and maintained.

You know that when you print a bank statement or an investment statement you look it over, check it to make sure it’s accurate, and then file it. At the end of the year, you can shred everything but the year-end statement. What a relief! No more hanging on to piles and piles of statements.

You also know that you have insurance files which hold the policy statement and the updated information. When the new information arrives remove last years’ update and replace it with the new document. This also serves to reduce the bulk of paper in the insurance file folder.

Your filing system must work for you. A filing system that works enables you to find the documents you need when you want them. No time lost hunting through the files or digging through piles of paper looking for a document.

This is the reason for taking time to label the files and folders in such a way that will spark you to remember that that is where the paper belongs.

This is also why I advocate looking through your files several times a year. Check them to make sure the files are current. If they are not either update them (if that’s what is needed) or remove them (if they are no longer pertinent).

Life is not static and neither are your files. As your life changes and things are added and subtracted your files should reflect these changes.

When you are doing your paperwork set aside some time to maintain your files. Just like any other part of your home if you attend to the files regularly they will stay up to date and organized.

 

Paper Filing

February 17, 2016

Last week I talked about setting up Action Files. These are the files which hold papers with which you will do something. You might file them, read them, respond to them, keep them available for easy reference. Whatever you do with these papers once you take action they leave the Action File holder and go …

That’s just it. Where do they go? Which papers do you keep? Those which you know you are over and done with get rid of right away otherwise they will just add to the pile and you will need to look at them once again. Only to find out that you didn’t need to bother. Will you need to look at them again (reference them)? Are they papers to keep but not to refer to? Will they help you with your taxes? How will you find them, if you need the information?

These are all questions I am asked by my clients.

If you are technologically inclined many papers can be scanned and saved in secure password protected folders in the clouds. These folders will still need to be organized and labeled appropriately so that you don’t waste time searching endless saved files. This will enable you to have access to this information from any computer provided you have the password!

Now, back to the papers.

I often get asked how to organize the files. My advice is to organize them in a way that makes sense to you. Some people like to file alphabetically, some by category, and some like to mix it up. There is no right way to file your papers. The important concept is that you are able to find what you’re looking for when you need it.

Organizing supplies to have on hand:

Manila folders, hanging files, a marker, and plastic tabs and/or a scanner

Label the Hanging file and the manila folder so that you will know exactly where to return the manila folder when you remove it from the file drawer.

Here are some basic categories:

  1. Let’s start with personal papers. I call these Vital Documents. These are papers which serve to prove your identity. You keep them forever. I advise keeping a copy at home in your file cabinet and the original in the bank. For the technologically inclined – scan these documents and keep them together in a folder in the cloud. Label them with something that will prompt you to remember the type documents the folder contains. Keep the original in a safe deposit box at the bank.

Here’s a short list, you may think of others:

Birth Certificate, Passport, Baptismal records, Marriage license, Divorce decree, Citizenship papers, Military records, Social Security numbers

2. Finances:

Keep the year end financial statements for 7 – 10 years in an archival box  (or scanned to the cloud)

    1. Keep the current year in an easy to reference file in your file drawer. You may have more than one file depending on how many accounts you have. Be sure to include any investment accounts, checking and savings, credit card information, any loan information, and retirement accounts. You might file these by category and then alphabetize the folders within the category. Just a thought!

3. Insurance:

    1. Sometimes the insurance is bundled. You may have one policy which covers a multitude of things. Be sure to keep the original policy and then add the updated rider when it comes in each year. Remember to remove and shred the past year’s rider so the file doesn’t contain stale information.

4. House:

  • List any service providers – name and contact informationAlso keep receipts for any expensive furniture or appliances or machinery – like a new HVAC unit.

 

Keep receipts for home improvements and repairs (make a copy of this for your tax file – some may be tax deductible)

  1. Keep an inventory of all your household furnishings and belongings here. (more about this next week)

5. Taxes:

  1. Keep tax returns forever in an archival box. Keep the supporting documents in an archival box for 7 – 10 years.
  2. Keep a folder in an easy to access file drawer labeled with the current year. Put any tax related information into it as it comes into your house. This way when it comes time to doing your taxes you have only to look in the one place.

 

This is just a few categories of files. You will probably have more as you continue sorting through your papers. If, when you were sorting, you created a pending or marinating file please remember to go back and take another look at those papers. As time has passed you may have figured out what your next step with those papers should be.

Let me know how your paper sorting is going and if this was helpful. I hope it was!

 

 

Action Files

February 10, 2016

Last week I started a series talking about the paper. Even though it’s possible to receive notices and statements via email paper is still a problem. Many of my clients complain about paper. Organizing paper, finding the documents they need quickly and efficiently, and eliminating paper piles are on the top of the ‘to-do’ list. While this is a problem for many it comes front and center around this time of the year when taxes are looming on the horizon.

I suggested, last week, that you gather the paper from around the house and bring it to a central location. I also recommended that you set up a card table or clear a surface so that this week we could work on sorting this paper into categories to file, recycle, or shred.

Speaking of shredding, I recommend you have a cross-cut shredder. If you don’t have one or don’t want to get one then take the papers you want to shred to a place that will shred them for you. Office Depot, Office Max, and some Mail Box shops offer shredding by the pound. Put the papers you want to shred into a box or a bag. When the bag is full take it to be shredded. Another option is to look in your newspaper for Free Shredding. Organizations will take turns sponsoring a mobile shred truck in a parking lot from time to time.

Remember to look at every sheet of paper. Sometimes things get stuck in between the sheets. One time a client of mine found her social security card stuck in between some pages that were stapled together.

Now, let’s start by creating action files.

Action files are just what the name indicates – full of papers which require you to take action. I recommend you use a table top file holder for these files. Schedule a time to check these files every few days. This is not a place to store papers long term. Rather a holding spot for papers for which there is an action.

Here are some basic steps to follow:

  1. Warning… this can get tedious and boring. When we’re bored we tend to make mistakes or want to just grab a handful of papers and think “I know what’s in this stack so I’m going to just shred them without checking” That’s when critical papers get misfiled, lost or destroyed.
  2. So, SET A TIMER for some time between 20 and 30 minutes. When the timer rings either take a break and come back in a little while or schedule another work time for tomorrow.
  3. Look at each piece of paper and decide what your next ACTION will be.
  4. Your action may be to Recycle – you know if you’re not going to look at a catalogue or a magazine or an advertisement so recycle these items right away.
  5. Your action may be to Shred if so put those pieces of mail into a shred box or bag
  6. Other typical actions are: READ, FILE, PAY, SCHEDULE
  7. What do you label it when you don’t know what your next step should be? Put it aside for another time – I call that MARINATING or PENDING. The next time you look at these papers you may have figured out what action to take.
  8. You may also want a file for CONTACTS. You could put contacts to input into your data base here. You may also put your children’s class list or other contacts you’d like to have at your fingertips.
  9. If you sort the mail into these action files as it comes into your house you will not have an accumulation of paper piles!

Before you go out and buy a table top file organizer figure out how many files you want to have at your fingertips.

You can find file holders at Target, Office Depot, Staples and The Container Store.

Good luck sorting your papers into these action files. Next week I’ll review what to do with the remainder of your papers!

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? 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’!