Archive for the ‘tasks’ Category

Procrastinating is a habit!

August 28, 2017

I’ve been talking about habits and routines recently – although I took a break from this topic a couple of weeks ago to get on my soap box and talk about trash! Anyway, procrastination is one of the worst habits to adopt.

do it - procrastination concept

Think about it. Procrastinating is a habit. If you have a list of things you want to do and you have nothing in particular going on and nothing on your list is accomplished what happened? You found other things to do that were not on your list. You procrastinated, put off getting things done that you indicated on your list you wanted to do.

Let’s talk about this habit.

First of all, admit that procrastinating is a choice. Just like everything you do is a choice. You can choose to browse through your Facebook feed, watch television, read a book, play in the garden, needlepoint, watch a movie, putter about or whatever and be totally entertained for hours or you can choose to do a task from your list.

Next, go through your to-do list and estimate how long it will take you to complete each task. Write down the estimated length of time next to each item.

Now think about your available time.

Then rank your to-do list. Is there any task that is absolutely important to do today?

O.k. now, think about fun things.

Reward yourself for completing most – let’s say 80% – of your to-do list with a fun activity. What will you choose to do?

You can avoid procrastination by talking yourself out of it – if that’s what you want to do. It’s your choice.

Do you want to accomplish something that’s on your list today?

Decide what time will work with your schedule to tackle that task and, at the appointed time, go ahead and do it!

Remember procrastinating is a choice. Just like taking action is a choice. It’s up to you!

Write me back and let me know what you decided and how you’ll reward yourself!

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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!

 

 

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.

 

Paper File Maintenance

February 24, 2016

Close Up Of Folder For Household Bills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Daily Routines?

January 27, 2015

Do you have routines that you follow day in and day out? Did you know that having a routine can save you time?

Routines save you time because the tasks that  make up the routine are simple and easy to complete in one or two steps. When you do these simple short tasks one followed by the other chores get done quickly!

What sorts of tasks do you think I’m talking about?

Which tasks will help you start your day?

My daily routines involve tasks that help me feel settled as I head out the door.

I make the bed, walk my dogs (by the way, walking the dogs first thing in the morning allows me peaceful time to think about the direction of my day and I get exercise – a double benefit!), get some breakfast and then check my indoor plants to see if they need water.

My evening routine involves making a to-do list for the next day. I tidy my desk and evaluate where I am in the work that I’m doing, think about my appointments for the next day, and gather all the items I need to take with me.

These routines don’t take long – maybe 15 minutes in the evening and about an hour in the morning. This is because my dogs and I usually walk for about 30 minutes. I have more information about daily routines in my book: Now What? A Simple Organizing Guide.

What daily routines can you create for yourself to make your days run more smoothly? Write me back, I’d love to know!

Think Replacement…

January 21, 2015

I often get asked how to organize a closet. Something to remember is that we generally wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the tIme! You know which clothes are your favorites. Since this is true, why are closets so full to over-flowing? My suspicion is that garments are not replaced. By that I mean when shopping for yourself, are you replacing something that is worn or that is either too big or too small or are you shopping because you’d like a new outfit?

If you have children, this is something you do already – I hope. First, you sort through their clothes. As you sort, you determine which clothes are too small and which ones are so well worn that they must be either cut up into rags or tossed. The too small clothes are put into bags or boxes to hand down to a younger child or relative or to donate. Then you go shopping to replace those clothes. If you don’t have children I bet this is something that your mother did for you as a child!

So, if your closet is over-full ask yourself when you go to buy clothes what are you replacing?

As a professional organizer I recommend you remove 2 items for every item you bring in. This adds space to your closet. You’ll be able to see what you have and find what you’re looking for!

Here are some other closet organizing tips:

1. Group your clothes according to type and color. Put short sleeved shirts together, long-sleeved shirts together, slacks, skirts, jackets, and dresses together. Then sort by color within the grouping.

2. Take a hard look at what you have. How many pairs of black pants do you have? How many do you need? How many can you wear at one time?

3. If you have ever put something on, looked in the mirror, and then said to yourself, “this doesn’t look right…”. You take off that garment and then put it back in your closet, right? I suggest that you take off that garment and give it away. If it doesn’t feel right or look right today it will never look right!

4. Keep a donation bag in your closet for those clothes and for any clothes or shoes that you haven’t worn in awhile.

5. Turn the hangers backwards. As you wear an item turn that hanger around. At the end of 6 months revisit your closet and take a look at the hangers that remain backwards. Consider giving those clothes away. The exception to this rule is the clothes that are special event clothes.

If organizing your closet is on your list to do, follow these tips and remember to think replacement!

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.

Resolutions

December 30, 2014

Do you make a New Year’s Resolution? I used to. It generally involved promising myself to exercise more and eat healthier meals – snack less.

I just read a post on Facebook from a life coach about her top 10 New Year’s resolutions. I loved reading them because they were all about doing small things for yourself. They were something like: rest more, let myself off the hook, schedule fun everyday…. these are wonderful to remember and not to hard to keep.

The resolutions that I used to make – promises to myself – were never kept. Well, maybe they were for about a month and then I forgot all about them. This New Year’s Eve I suggest that we follow this life coach’s example and write down a few (not more than 10) things that are easy to complete almost daily or at least weekly. Then post these resolutions somewhere you’ll see them daily. This way they will stay in your mind and hopefully on your calendar. Remember if you don’t schedule the time for yourself it probably won’t happen.

Another activity to engage in over the next few days is to write down your accomplishments from 2014. What are the projects that you completed – write them down. Did you take any trips, go to any conferences, have any adventures? Write them down and celebrate these marvelous accomplishments. I think it’s awesome to plan your next goals but I also think it’s great to remember and celebrate that which has already been tackled and successfully completed!

Here’s to remembering what was in 2014 and looking forward to what will be in 2015!

Happy New Year!