Archive for the ‘projects’ 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?

 

Advertisements

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?

 

Do I Already Have It?

April 5, 2017

I read a blog post this morning from Joshua Becker, becoming minimalist, about shopping. He suggested that most of us have more than enough in our homes already. Joshua asks the reader to ask themselves ‘what if I don’t?’.

What will happen if you don’t buy another pair of jeans? Think about how many you already have. How many pairs of jeans are enough? That is another question for another day.

Today my question is: Do I already have it?  Sometimes we overlook things that we already have that can be repurposed to fill a different need.

I was watching the Today Show yesterday morning and a guest gardening expert on the show was talking about spring gardening. As many of you probably know, I’m a gardener. I just love digging in the dirt and creating beautiful gardens so this segment captured my undivided attention. This gardening expert was talking about starting new plants by seed – to save money. Great idea! An even better idea was to take a clear plastic egg container to use as a mini-planter. The small spaces to contain eggs are a perfect size to start each new seed. The lid captures the moisture to keep the little plants watered – it acts as a terrarium. And since it’s clear plastic it will be easy to see the little plants sprout. A new use for something you probably already have. No need to buy small pots in which to start your seeds.

When I had a tree cut down earlier this year I asked the men to save 3 sections of the tree for me. These sections of the tree are now placed strategically on my patio. I’m using one as a table and the other two can be places to sit or as plant stands. A new use for something that I had.

Many times before I go to work with a client they will ask me what should I buy? My response is always, please wait until we work together. I’m not sure yet what you’ll need and we may be able to use something you already have!

If you’re doing some spring cleaning please take a moment to think about these points before you go out to buy organizing supplies.

  1. Take everything out of the cupboard, drawer, closet – whatever space you’re organizing
  2. Sort the items
  3. Remove anything to recycle, donate, or toss
  4. Remove anything that you’re keeping but that doesn’t belong in that space
  5. Now, evaluate the remaining items
  6. Do you need some organizing supplies?
  7. Look around your house
  8. See if you have anything that would work
  9. If you do, great!
  10. If you do not, then make a note of the size container(s) you’ll need and the number before you go shopping.

Feel free to email me any questions you may have regarding an area that you want to organize. I’m happy to offer a few suggestions.

Ask yourself these two questions you begin your projects and you’re thinking of shopping:

  1. What if I don’t? (from Joshua Becker)
  2. Do I already have it? (from Diane Quintana)Thinking woman in glasses looking up at many question marks

     

How to Say ‘No’ Nicely

January 25, 2017

An organizing friend of mine, Andi Willis, wrote a beautiful blog this week about giving herself Grace. It is a wonderful essay on the ability to be kinder to ourselves. We (many of us women) set high standards for ourselves and do not cut ourselves any slack.

I want to piggy back on this thought and talk about our ability to say ‘No’. I don’t know about you but most times when I’m asked to do something I typically say ‘Yes’ even when in my heart I want to say ‘No’. Does this ever happen to you? I get guilted into taking on projects that I know I’m going to carve time out to complete – time that I would prefer to set aside for an activity of my choosing. I hate to let people down and so will agree to take on the project even when I know it means postponing something else. Other times I get complimented into a task. Someone will say ‘you did such a good job organizing …(fill in the blank) please will you volunteer your time organizing… for us?’ It’s really hard to say no under those circumstances!

I’ve learned that saying ‘No’ selectively can be a form of self-care. It allows me the space to choose the activities to dedicate my time to.

Because saying ‘No’ is a very hard thing for me to do I’ve recently come up with some strategies to allow myself the time and space to say ‘No’ gracefully. These are not by any means new and different strategies. I think we’ve probably all used them at one time or another. I put them together and have multiple copies in strategic places so that I can refer to them when I’m put on the spot and can’t think of the best response.

I have one copy on a bulletin board in my office, another copy in my planner, and a third copy digitally in the notes section of my phone.

1.       Let me check my calendar and I’ll get back to you on ..(when you get back to the person you can say) I’m sorry, I’m not available.

2.       I’m not able to take on any more projects right now. Please feel free to contact me another time.

3.       As much as I would really like to be able to help you with … this is something I’m not comfortable tackling at this time.

Having these phrases handy has helped me better protect my time. They help me say ‘No’ without negativity.

Is saying ‘No’ a problem for you? How have you handled it? Write me back and let me know!

 

Hand writing Time To Say NO concept with red marker

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

Is It Spring?

March 2, 2016

Spring Cleaning

Is it feeling like Spring where you live? Here in Atlanta it’s looking a lot like Spring is just around the corner. We’ve had a couple of beautiful sunny days. It was even warm enough over the weekend to enjoy a picnic in the park!

The days are longer, the sunshine brighter and all that makes me long to get out in the garden and play in the dirt. However, it’s not quite time to do that so I’m going to use the brighter light and longer days to my advantage inside the house.

In other words, it’s time for me to do some Spring cleaning! Yup, this brighter light points out the need to get back in the corners and under the furniture to get the little dust bunnies that can hide when the light isn’t quite so bright.

Just in case you also feel inclined to do some spring cleaning I’ve put together a list of things you might consider doing. Remember Spring is a season. It lasts about 3 months. If you break down this list and do a little each week by the time summer rolls around you will be done with your cleaning and ready to spend more time outside. You can also delegate some items on this list to other members of your family!

  1. Remove and vacuum window screens
  2. Wipe the window sills before you replace the screens
  3. Wash windows
  4. Clean baseboards
  5. Move the furniture and clean under it
  6. Decide what to do (toss, recycle, donate or put away) with the things you find under the furniture
  7. Put the furniture back
  8. Dust floor registers and other vent covers
  9. Dust light fixtures and ceiling fans
  10. Air out mattress pads and small area rugs
  11. Sort through winter clothes and donate any that don’t fit or that you didn’t wear
  12. Check your smoke detector/carbon monoxide monitor to make sure they are working. Put in fresh batteries if they are battery operated.
  13. Check your fire extinguishers
  14. Take them to your local fire station to be recharged if necessary

Paper Piles

February 3, 2016

paper pile

Are you buried in paper piles? Do you know what’s in the stacks?

Perhaps you like to see the stack of papers as a reminder of something to take care of? Maybe it’s a group – a category – of papers that you want to have easy access to? Is there anything important or vital lurking in those piles? Could your missing passport, marriage license, social security card be hidden amongst these papers?

Do you lose track of what’s there? Maybe some things slip your mind or bills are left unpaid because they remain hidden in a pile? Does that ever happen to you?

I often hear from clients that they have a hard time knowing what to do with certain financial and legal documents. Which ones do they have to keep? How long should they keep them? Where should they keep them?

Other questions revolve around household receipts, user manuals, and medical receipts.

Since tax season will soon be upon us it’s time to start getting these papers organized so that you can easily get those taxes done and so that going forward you’ll know where to find your important documents, your bills, and your project notes or any other category of papers you may have!

This month I’ll be giving you some strategies and solutions to get on top of this paper work. I’ll tell you about some different ways to file your papers so that you can find what you need when you want it. No more wondering where on earth you put … and spending lots of time hunting through the stacks!

Let’s start by bringing all the paper piles from around your home into one central location. Decide where you want to work on these piles and bring all the piles to that place. If you have a large table or even a card table that you can put up as a sorting spot that would be terrific! This way you can be sure that you are dealing with all the paper. Now, don’t get the idea that you have to tackle all of this at once. We’re going to break it down into small manageable tasks so that you can really take control of the paper as it comes into your home. I’ll also be giving you some tips on how to maintain this sense of order.

Label the piles that you bring to your sorting place. You might label them by the location from which you removed them. For instance if the pile came from the kitchen label it ‘kitchen’. That might trigger you to remember what’s in the stack.

You will want to gather some supplies to this sorting spot. You may need some paper clips, post-it notes, a marking pen, manila file folders (these can be either colorful or plain), hanging files (these can be plain or colorful also), and a notebook binder or two. As time goes along you may decide you want other supplies but let’s start with these.

Knowing where to put papers you want to keep so that you can find them at a moment’s notice will give you a wonderful sense of accomplishment and peace of mind!

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?