Archive for the ‘change’ Category

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 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?

 

Limits?

January 11, 2017

 

Scattered clothes

Happy New Year! I’m so happy to be starting this New Year by writing a blog to share with you. I’ve been thinking a lot about limits recently and why it’s important to know what your personal limits are.

This has come up because some of my clients have had trouble determining how much is enough.

We all have physical limits that are pre-determined by the home in which we live. The closets and cupboards can create limits for us if we let them. However, we sometimes (and yes – I am including myself in this discussion) cram things into these spaces thinking that we can ‘make room’.

I have found that the best way to ‘make room’ is to remove everything from the cupboard or closet and only return those items which you absolutely KNOW that you use and/or love. The temptation is to push things around or to restack everything inside the closet or cupboard because it does take time to completely empty the space and make those decisions.

How does knowing your limit apply here? Well, if you’re headed out to go shopping and you come across a dress or a new platter and you know that your cupboard or closet is full and that you’ve reached the limit of what the space will contain easily. It’s easier to say to yourself something like “I know that if I bring something more into this space I will be removing things that I don’t use or love – do I want it badly enough to reorganize the space or can I decide not to bring it into my home”.

We also have physical limits in terms of what we can physically do. I can’t lift very heavy weights. I know not to try to lift something really heavy because I will end up hurting myself and I definitely don’t want to do that.

Can you change your physical limits? Sure, through diet and exercise or through modifications you may be able to change some things. For instance, I love to walk and I walk at a pretty fast pace. One of my friends walks with me sometimes. I used to have to slow my pace to accommodate my friend. Since we’ve been walking together regularly his pace has picked up and he can walk farther before asking that we turn around. His limit has increased.

We also have spending limits. Do you want to incur more debt to buy this one item or do you have enough at home? Is it necessary to spend this money or can you make the decision to tell yourself ‘not now’. Knowing your spending limits is key. How do you do this? You create a budget and check it regularly.

Another way to curb your spending is to only carry cash. I know it’s inconvenient but it is effective. Without a credit or debit card in your wallet you have to be mindful of your spending limit. I have more about the benefits of carrying cash in my book: Now What? A Simple Organizing Guide.

I talk to my clients about the physical limits their homes provide regularly and ask them to think about how much is enough. What number of ….(you can fill in the blank) makes sense?

Ask yourself this question and see if it helps you set limits within your home. Maybe you’ve already set limits for yourself? I’d love to hear about your limits and if the question: How much is enough makes sense to you.

woman is holding bill and credit card in hands

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?

Changing Routines

August 31, 2016

Last week I let you all know that I spent the last month or so preparing to move and then moving. I am going to spend the next couple of weeks talking about what else has to change – other than the physical address. Are you scratching your head wondering what I mean by that?

Let me give you a little personal history. I grew up in New York City. My family moved apartments 3 times before our final move to Connecticut when I was 16. That’s the house my mother lived in until she passed away in 2009 and the house that I think of as my home but I only really lived there for 5 years.

The longest I ever lived in any 1 house is 10 years and that’s the house I just moved out of! I had established really great routines and places to keep all of my belongings. After all, I am a Certified Professional Organizer and I walk the walk. I don’t keep things I don’t use, I do periodically tweak my filing system, and I’m careful about the things that I keep so that I don’t end up keeping too much.

It’s been really hard to change how I tackle some tasks and to realize that I just have to change some of my routines and habits. I’m not planning to change them completely, just alter them to fit better in this new home.

Are you wondering why? Why can’t I just do the same things I did in the other house, follow the same routines – just in a different location?

It’s not always that simple. Some things I can definitely keep the same – others have to change. Where I lived before I could walk my dogs every morning and evening safely in the neighborhood. There are wide sidewalks that are well lit with street lights. Where I live now there are only narrow sidewalks, there are very few street lights and the sidewalks do not follow the entire length of the road. But there is a park only a short 2 minute drive from my new house that has well-lit very wide sidewalks. My dogs and I love it there. We can still have our 30 minute morning walk safely. We just hop in the car and away we go.

Over the next few weeks I’ll tell you about other habits or routines that I’m changing.

My big take-away is that sometimes we are so comfortable in our routines and habits that it’s hard to imagine doing what we want to do in any other way. This move shifted me out of my comfort zone and put me in a place of discovery. Everyday I’m tweaking my routines a little at a time so that I can still do what I want to do – just differently. It’s all good! In fact, it’s even better.

Is there a routine or habit that you want to change or have to change because a shift in your circumstance makes change necessary?

Write me back and let me know!

 

 

Moving Again?!

August 24, 2016

Yes, I took some time off writing this blog because I was preparing to move again. I did what I tell all my clients to do. I took a long hard look at my things. I emptied out cupboards and only packed that which I really wanted to take with me. I donated some things, sold some things and put some things out for the trash. And I scheduled 3 appointments with a professional organizer. Yes. Even professional organizers need some guidance and encouragement when tackling difficult tasks!

Then the move happened. I didn’t go far – only about 8 miles or so from where I had been living but it seems light years away. More about that in a moment.

It doesn’t matter how organized or prepared you are – moving is stressful. There is a chaotic feeling about the day of the move. I knew this would happen so I took my dogs, Miles and Josie, to be boarded for a week. I didn’t want them to get even more upset watching the process of dismantling their house. Also, with all the doors open there was a chance that they may get lost!

The truck made its way to my new home. Everything was unloaded. Furniture was placed. And then the boxes. OH, BOY were there ever boxes!

I gave myself a week to unpack, put things away, and hang pictures. That was a very tall order. I did get all the boxes unpacked and everything put away. I am pondering the placement of a few pictures but most of them are hung and look great!

Miles and Josie came home to a house that was full of familiar smells, familiar pieces of furniture in unfamiliar places. They have adjusted well and so have I.

I’m resuming a normal work schedule and feel really settled. I am attending to some volunteer tasks that I had let slide while I was preparing to move.

Yes. I still have things I want to do. I want to tweak the shelving in a few places. I want to paint the rooms. I have HUGE ideas for my garden. These things can wait. I will get to them one project at a time.

The most important thing I want to share with you is that while moving is undeniably stressful there are things you can do to speed up the transition from one home to another.

1.      Be mindful of your decisions of what to take with you when you move

2.      Only bring things you Love, Need, Use

3.      Unpack and put away as quickly as you can

4.      Unpack your bedroom first so you can get a good night’s sleep

5.      Pace yourself

6.      Recycle the packing paper quickly

7.      Cut down and flatten the boxes (my moving company reuses the boxes and came to collect them)

8.      Board your pets – moving is stressful for them too!

I’m so happy to be in my new home! I hope if you move some of these suggestions will help you in your transition to your new home!

Workers Putting Furniture And Boxes In Truck

 

 

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?

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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!