Archive for the ‘calendar’ Category

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?

 

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Can You Ever Really Be Done?

June 15, 2016

 

Close-up embroidery

I want to continue a discussion about getting to the bottom of your ‘to-do’ list. I talked last week about finishing the tasks on your ‘to-do’ list and a strategy I have been using with great success! The strategy is to assign a group of tasks related to a specific topic to a day.

Now, I’m wondering if any of you reading this have ever felt the way I do on occasion. Sometimes I find myself thinking ‘when I get this, this, and this done then I will have time to relax and take care of something I really WANT to do’.

The truth is that there will always be things to do. That’s what life is all about. Some things are chores, some things are fun, some things are hard and some are easy. But there are always, always things to be done whether or not you chose to put them on a list.

How do you fit in the little (or big) things that you want to do that you (I) keep putting off until I get all these other things done? I have decided to schedule time into my weekly plan for the projects that are near and dear to my heart. For me, it’s needlepoint. I have a beautiful needlepoint canvas that I’ve been slowly working on. Actually, I had been thinking about working on it but had been neglecting it as I was so focused on getting other things done!  I had hope to have it finished by the summer. That’s not happening. I had been letting other things take priority over my needlepoint.

Since I started last week grouping my tasks and getting to the bottom of my daily ‘to-do’ list I’ve been able to plan time into my day – every day – for a little needlepoint. I talking about a ½ hour or so. This small change in my routine has made an incredible difference in my ability to feel more in control of all the things (tasks) on my mind.

Is there a small change that you want to make in your routine that will help you feel more in control? Do you have things that you’ve been putting off until everything else is done?

 

 

 

Going from ‘To-Do’ to Done

June 8, 2016

How long is your ‘to-do’ list? Do you have some things that never seem to leave it? I think you know what I’m talking about. These are the things that you just don’t really want to do so you leave them to the end of the day when you realize that you simply don’t have time to do them. Then you transfer those things to the list for the next day. I wonder if any of you reading this have ever done that? Actually, I’m sure you have but the question is really will you admit to doing it?

I freely admit that I have done this in the past and probably will do so again in the future. But I tried a different technique today. One that I want to share with you. I’m very proud to day that everything on today’s list will be done as soon as I finish this blog.

What did I do differently?

To Do List So Many Things

Over the weekend I looked at my calendar. Then I grouped my ‘to-dos’ by category. I assigned each category a block of time during the week. Today, for instance, I’m taking care of all things related to volunteer committee I’m working on. I made some phone calls, wrote some e-mails, and did some filing all related to this volunteer committee. It feels so wonderful to be completely caught up with those tasks.

Once I had finished that work I went on to respond to a few lingering messages that I knew I could handle in five minutes or less. What a relief! I won’t be transferring any of these things to tomorrow’s list.

I like managing my time this way. Grouping the tasks related to one topic has allowed me to think clearly about this subject alone. I’ve made more progress today than I ever thought possible in a few hours. Things that I had put off are done and I have a good sense of what I will work on next.

If you’re having trouble going from ‘to-do’ to done why don’t you try this method. I learned this from Mike Vardy at the NAPO2016 conference here in Atlanta. He talks about task management rather than time management because in all honesty we can never take control of time. Time will always march on. We can control the tasks we do in the amount of time we have.

Will you give this a try? Let me know!

 

 

 

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.

 

Getting Your Garden Ready

March 16, 2016

Recently I’ve been talking about spring cleaning inside your home. To recap this time of year when the light is newly bright again take the time to open your eyes and really look into all the spaces in your home. Get right into the corners and dark spaces. Clean them. Take the opportunity to look closely at your belongings. Dust them off and put them back or remove them from your home (if you determine they no longer fit your decorating style or lifestyle). Remember that spring lasts a good three months.

Schedule time in your calendar to deep spring clean each area of your home. Tackling your whole home at one time is a daunting and overwhelming task. When you plan it out and break it down into small tasks this project becomes much more manageable.

2015 05 summer mailbox flowers

Now is also the time to take stock of your garden. I should ask, do you like to garden? I do. I love to spend time in my garden! The last few days I’ve been out taking a look at my garden to see which plants are starting to poke their heads out of the earth. I love this time of year when my garden springs back to life! I notice where there are empty spots. Places where plants have not made it through the winter. I’m taking stock and thinking about the different plants I may want to add. While it’s too soon to plant it’s not too soon to make a plan and to decide what you’d like to do with your garden.

My garden is full of shrubs and perennial flowers. Is your garden a flower or vegetable garden? Is it a small cottage garden or do you have lots of space to garden? Are you learning to garden and trying one for the first or second time this year or are you an experienced gardener?

No matter your level of expertise or the size of your garden playing in the earth with plants is a wonderful pastime.

Look at the area in your garden you may want to change. Determine if you’re adding plants in the shade or the sun. If it’s a sunny spot try and calculate how many hours of sun that spot gets. It makes a difference as to which plants you want to consider. Likewise, if it’s a shady spot try and figure out if that area gets any sun at all or if it’s deep dense shade. The amount of sun makes a tremendous difference in the plants that will thrive in a location.

Another thing to consider is the size and color of the plants. Do you need to fill in with some low growing plants in the front of your garden? Maybe you want to add a tall plant in the back to add interest. The possibilities are endless.

Once you have these things figured out you may want to take a trip to your local plant nursery. Generally, the people who work there have great information to share about the plants they carry. They can tell you about how tall and/or bushy a plant will get as well as what you will need to do to promote its continued growth.

Young botanists  in greenhouse

As with everything else this is something that requires a plan. Pull out your calendar and set aside some times to really look at the garden space. It will take several observations at different times of day to figure out the sunlight question. Then schedule time to look at different garden websites to figure out the plants you want to add. Soon enough it will be time to plan the trip to the plant nursery, buy the plants, and plant them!

Garden Maintenance is key but that’s a topic for another time!

Write me back and let me know if gardening is one of your hobbies. If it is what are your plans for this year’s garden?

 

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? Backwards Planning

October 7, 2015
Many Hands Holding the Word Events, Isolated

Many Hands Holding the Word Events, Isolated

Backwards planning? Why plan backwards? Why not just plan ahead? Well, backwards planning is really planning ahead – it’s called backwards planning because you start with the end result in mind. More details to come.

I have four siblings, many nieces and nephews, and two sons (one is married). This time of year brings lots of birthdays mixed in with all the holidays. Every time I look at the calendar I’m noticing that one of these relatives has a birthday coming up. So, I use backwards planning to stay on top of all these events.

First, I plot all the birthdays into my calendar. I love my phone for this because it automatically shows the birthday in the calendar function and I only enter them once. I admit, though, that I am very much a paper and pencil person. At the beginning of every year I get out my paper calendar and write in all the birthdays and then I count backwards and note in my calendar when I need to mail the birthday card. I also make a note a few days before the mailing date that I have to go and purchase a card! That is backwards planning!

At this time of year with the holidays approaching (I saw on Instagram yesterday that someone had counted the number of weekends left before Christmas!) backwards planning is a handy strategy to employ. You can use it to help in planning a party, with decorating for the holiday, meal planning or any big project you may have.

Here are the steps to take when using backwards planning:

Tools: paper, pen or pencil, a calendar

Steps:

  1. Start with an end date in mind
  2. On a piece of paper, list all the steps to take in order to complete your task
  3. Plot each step into your calendar – schedule enough time to complete each small step

The beauty of using this strategy is that backwards planning allows you to get things done in a timely fashion so that you’re not over scheduled and can actually enjoy the process.

Tell me, how will you use backwards planning as we approach this busy time of the year?

Do Your Best

March 17, 2015

There are a few organizer sayings that I often hear and even more often repeat to my clients. One of them goes like this… It doesn’t have to be perfect, just make it good enough! The message behind this statement is fairly clear but in the interest of complete transparency let me explain it further.

When you begin a project you have a vision in your mind’s eye – a picture of how you want the project to look once completed. This vision is probably close to perfection, if not perfection. However, it’s not always possible to achieve that level of perfection. So, if you finish the project and you’ve done your best, be happy with good enough.

How do you know if it’s good enough? Well, you can ask some questions – and answer them.

Does the completed project solve the problem?

Will you be able to maintain the organization?

Does it make you happy?

Does it look the way you’d like it to (even if it doesn’t match the picture in your mind’s eye)?

If you can answer ‘yes’ to these questions then it’s definitely good enough!

I always work towards doing my best. I firmly believe that is all anyone can ask of another. So, if you consistently put out lots of effort and do your best, be happy with good enough!

Do You Have Time?

February 25, 2015

Do you wonder how some people seem to have more time in their day? You know, these are the people who accomplish many of their tasks during the day. They plow through their ‘to-do’ lists and still have time to exercise or relax over lunch with a friend.

Other people struggle to get even two items crossed off their ‘to-do’ list. Why is this? We all have the same number of hours in each day to use so why is it that some people accomplish more in the same amount of time?

I think we’re all so busy – our days are jam packed full – that we forget to stop and ask ourselves is this the best use of my time right now. When you ask yourself that question you might be surprised at the answer you give yourself.

Perhaps, instead of spending your time running a quick errand now you can combine that errand later in the day with picking the children up from school. Then, you’ll have time now to work on the project at home that you’d like to complete by the end of the month.

Maybe, you’re hosting the book club at your house later this week. What do you need to do to get ready for this event? Take a few minutes to write down all the small steps to take to make your home ready to welcome your friends. Then, schedule in your calendar to take care of these small steps. You’ll be much more relaxed and ready to talk about the book if you take the time to prepare yourself in advance.

Doing small tasks because you think you should be doing something is not always the best use of time. Take time to think about the things that matter most to you. What is really important to accomplish? Write it down. What are the small tasks that you can do – a little here and there? Write them down. Now get out your calendar and plan your time accordingly.

Before you know it you’ll be one of those people who get all the ‘to-dos’ on their ‘to-do’ list done!

For more tips on managing your time check out my book: Now What? A Simple Organizing Guide