Archive for the ‘small steps’ Category

Happy Spring

March 29, 2017

I’m so happy that Spring is here. I think it’s my favorite season followed closely by summer. I love watching the plants as they start this new season. The trees begin to have this haze around them, letting you know that something (leaves, flowers) is waking up inside their branches.

On my morning walks, I’m noticing all the small new things. Grass is greener, tiny leaves are starting to appear on the bushes and azaleas are painting the landscapes with the beautiful pink, white, and rose colored blossoms. I even saw a baby fox the other morning!

You may have read in one of my blogs from 2016 that I moved in August. Well, I left behind a gorgeous garden. I hope the new family is enjoying all the fabulous plants that are probably starting to emerge about now.

My current house had very little in the backyard in the way of plants. There were so many very large trees crowding out the foundation shrubs that had been planted.  And there was ivy everywhere. I do mean everywhere.

Little by little I have been working to transform this yard into a beautiful garden.  I had some trees removed. (Only the ones that were a danger to my house or that were diseased) This let light in. Some of those foundation shrubs are going to bloom! This is very exciting!!

I also hired a company to fix and enlarge the patio.

 The last step was to plant. This happened last week. I love that there are beautiful plants where there was just dirt during most the fall and the winter. I chose plants with different colored foliage which keep their leaves are year: some are light greens, some have a tinge of red on their leaves, some have green and white striped leaves. This provides a wide variety. Most of these plants have blooms but at different times of the year: some are spring bloomers, some are fall bloomers, and some are winter bloomers. This gives me something to look forward to year-round in the garden.

Yesterday, I sat outside in a lounge chair and just enjoyed the view. My dogs were happy laying on the patio in the sun and I was thrilled with my new backyard. I know I’ll be adding some more plants here and there. I’m already thinking about where to add hybrid tea roses! I  just love to dig in the dirt. I also know I’ll be pruning and weeding. Gardens need lots of maintenance and care. But, since I love gardening it will be an easy task for me to schedule the maintenance.

This was a huge project. If I could have snapped my fingers and magically made all the changes overnight I would have. This required planning, breaking the project down into several distinct parts, and scheduling. It also required patience.

 

backyard 03-2017 (1)

Are you working on a HUGE project? Does it have you operating in overwhelm? Talk to me about it. I’d love to help you break it down into manageable parts.

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Home Inventory

March 1, 2017

infographics about home inspection checklist and tips

One of the best ways to prepare for a disaster at home is to have a complete home inventory. Do you have an inventory of the contents of your home? Have you ever thought about taking or making such an inventory and then immediately stopped because the thought of all the work involved paralyzed you? You know that an inventory is the absolute best way to prove what your house contains in case of theft, fire, flood, tornado or any other disaster. I do understand that the creation of an inventory is a ton of work! I had to handwrite my first inventory back in 1979 since my husband’s job required us to submit a complete inventory when we were moving to Thailand. Imagine handwriting something such as that! Wow!! Even now I shudder at the thought. As the years went on and we moved from place to place technology allowed me to put our inventory in a spread sheet and then there was a program created for just such a purpose.

The program I use now is very flexible. It is called HomeZada. It does so much more than just keep track of your household furnishings. When you are ready to do the inventory, it allows you to take a picture of the item, identify what room it is in, put the date purchased and from where – if you know that information and if it is a valuable item (sentimental or expensive) you can even say who should receive it upon your death. Additionally, you can scan the receipt for the item so you have an accurate record of the date of purchase and how much it cost. You can also take a picture of a room and identify the built-in pieces of cabinetry.

I also love the fact that this program allows you to record the maintenance of appliances and keep track of home improvements. No more searching for that information. You don’t need to wonder when the HVAC was last serviced or your home last painted. The information is right there at your fingertips. If you’re planning to sell your home, you can easily retrieve the documents which identify the improvements you’ve made to your home.

Since this program is cloud based you will be able to retrieve all the information from any computer anywhere in the world. So, if disaster should strike and your home was destroyed you would be able to show an insurance adjuster photos of all that your home contained. No guessing involved.

This is real peace of mind. What a relief. Even better the program is easy to use. I recommend tackling a home inventory project the way you would any other large project – a little at a time. You could enter the information one room at a time. Or, if you decided this was simply too much for you to contemplate you can hire a professional organizer to do the original data entry for you. This is a service I offer as do other professional organizers.

 I recommend updating the information once a year, or as you trade out furniture or complete a home improvement project. It is very important to keep your home inventory information current as stale information defeats the purpose.

Please feel free to contact me if you’d like more information about the HomeZada home inventory program and how I may be able to with a home inventory project. Check out their website: www.homezada.com

 

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.

 

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

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!

 

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

Proud Navy Mom

February 4, 2015

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A little more than a year ago my son told me that he wanted to enlist in the Navy. I told him that would be terrific. He had just turned 28 years old and was looking at this opportunity with the Navy as a career choice. He also told me that he had some work to do before he would be considered.

Of course, I was curious.. what kind of work did he need to do? To be accepted he needed to meet the weight requirements for his height. I knew that would be tough. My son was in great shape and had been working out so had built lots of big bulky muscles. He had to do more than change his diet he had to change his workout strategy so that he would stay strong and fit but loose muscle mass. That’s a huge challenge. He enlisted the help of a trainer at a local gym. Together they made a detailed plan.

In addition to that he told me he wanted to study hard so that he would do well on the placement test. He figured out what he needed to study, looked at his calendar and plotted the different subjects into the months. He also scheduled review sessions so the material would be fresh in his mind. He also needed to move home – to do that he had to clean out his house and list it for sale. These were very big long-term projects but he was determined. He broke these projects down into small, manageable steps. He set achievable bench marks and rewarded himself along the way. He made lists and stuck to his plan.

He moved home in late September and started boot camp with the Navy in early December. All the while he studied for those tests, continued to follow his diet plan and worked out.

This past weekend I had the honor and privilege of attending his graduation. He is now a sailor! This just goes to show that hard work, dedication to a dream, determination, and planning pay off. I am a proud Navy mom!

Let’s Get Started

January 13, 2015

I don’t know about you but many times I start a project with a picture of what the end will look like to me. I also typically will have an end time in mind. Is this true for you, too? When you think about beginning a project do you have a vision of the finished project in your mind’s eye along with a completed by date?

What happens next? Well, for me, I break the project down into small steps. I like to write each step on a separate line. If I do it on the computer I print it when I’m finished (I could also use a pencil and a piece of paper). Then I get out my calendar and starting backwards I enter each small step into my calendar. Essentially, scheduling appointments with myself. This way I can ensure that all the steps I need to take to complete the project will be done because I have allocated the time each week to moving forward with this project.

What if the project is so big that it is overwhelming? Perhaps you don’t have an end in sight. Maybe the very thought of working on this project makes your head ache!

What do you think would happen if you just started to work on this overwhelming project? Just pick a place and start. Decide how long you want to work on it. Once you’ve figured out how much time you want to spend on the project today set your timer. Just dive in to that one spot where you decided to start. Take a box or a bag with you so that anything that doesn’t belong in that space has a place to go (into the box or bag). When the timer goes off spend a few more minutes going through the contents of the box or bag. Recycle or toss anything that needs to be recycled or thrown out. Have a box or bag ready for any items that you want to donate – put that in your car. Finally, put away any remaining items.

Try to spend a few minutes everyday or every few days working on this overwhelming project. Before you know it the project won’t be so overwhelming. So let’s get started. Write me back and tell me about a project or space in your home that is overwhelming you.

Celebrate!

December 16, 2014

I know it’s the holiday season and parties are being planned and happening. How much fun! I believe (I know you’ve heard this before) that everyday can be a celebration.

There’s a young man who works at my local grocery store. When someone says “Hello, How are you?” to him he always replies “I woke up today. It is a good day.” I love this attitude.

Celebrate everyday. We tend to celebrate our large successes but what about the everyday small steps that we take toward completion of that large project? Get in the habit of celebrating those, too.

Celebrate when you do something that’s been hard for you to do a little more easily. For instance, if it’s hard for you to donate clothes that are too small, that you’re hoping to get back into, but in reality you probably won’t want them – even if they do fit you again and you successfully put together a donation bag of these clothes, CELEBRATE!

Celebrate when you get to an appointment on time or a little bit early – particularly if managing your time is a struggle for you.

I think you get the idea. Celebrate life as you’re living it. Of course, we want to get together and celebrate holidays. That’s extra special. Think about celebrating as you go along. I think it will make you pay closer attention to the things you actually accomplish in a day instead of the things you haven’t done.

Tomorrow?

April 9, 2014

Do you like to put things (tasks) off to do tomorrow? If you do, I bet if you think about it you’ll admit that the things you put off until tomorrow continue to be put off again and again. The other expression of this action is procrastination. Sometimes I find that another more time sensitive task has appeared on my ‘to-do’ list and because my time is finite – I have only the time I have in which to take care of tasks – something gets bumped off my today list and rescheduled.

That word – rescheduled – is key here. I find nothing happens unless it is given a specific day and time.

Another key component to getting things done is to take care of the things you least want to do first. Perhaps you think it will take too much time and so you decide to put off this task that you don’t want to do until you have enough time to complete it all at once. In my experience, you never have enough time and if you just go ahead and start this dreaded task you may find it doesn’t take nearly as long as you anticipated that it would. Also, starting this dreaded task allows you to more clearly break it down into manageable smaller steps. So, start and do as much as you can in the time you have allotted to the task and then move on to other tasks that are scheduled for that day.

Something else to consider is that we’re all very busy. We have lots and lots to think about and to remember. Generally, it’s easier to remember things that we want to do. Sometimes, if we don’t particularly want to do something it’s easier to put it on the back burner and forget about it. I find that having a master list is a good way to stay on top of the tasks that are important to take care of. I make a daily list from that master list. If something is time sensitive I put the date (due date) beside the task. For instance, taxes must be mailed by April 15th. I must have them done by April 14th – sooner, if possible.

Making a list is a sure fire way to keep track of all tasks – especially the ones you dread. Putting things off until tomorrow will not make them go away. It just means that the task stays on your mind – even if it is in the back of your mind – for a longer period of time. Why not just dive in and get it done so that you can enjoy the rest of your day?

Are there certain tasks that you continually put off until tomorrow?