Archive for the ‘volunteer activities’ Category

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?

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.

 

Unfulfilling Tasks

April 29, 2014

I saw this expression last week in an interview between my friend and colleague,Linda Samuels, and Francine Jay. Francine is a minimalist. In fact, she is known as Miss Minimalist. Francine told Linda in the interview that being a minimalist involved not making unnecessary purchases, getting rid of unused belongings, and also eliminating unfulfilling tasks. Doing these three things opens your life up and allows you to live more fully.

I will typically advise my clients to stop making unnecessary purchases. You save lots of money by only buying what you really need and not giving in to impulse shopping. When I’m working with a client to declutter a house, a room, a drawer (you get the idea) we always talk about the items that are consistently used and loved. The belongings that are not either loved or useful are those which we talk about donating or consigning.

The idea of eliminating unfulfilling tasks is brand new to me but it makes really good sense. There are many times when we engage in activities which do not resonate with us. Now, I do want to stress the point that I’m not talking about taking care of basic household chores which we all have to do. Yes, they are tasks and perhaps they do not fill us with joy but they need to be done to maintain order and cleanliness within the home. Having said that, what am I talking about? What are those unfulfilling tasks?

I believe these are the tasks that do not give us any satisfaction at all. Do you ever decide to do something because your friends are engaged in this activity and they think you should join in too? Perhaps this activity is not as exciting for you and, in fact, eats up lots of your time. This, I believe, would be an unfulfilling activity (task). If you eliminate this activity you will have time for the activities that resonate with you. Another thought to consider is out sourcing tasks that you don’t want to do, if that is financially feasible. For instance, if cleaning the house really does not give you any satisfaction at all and you can afford to hire a cleaning service then eliminate cleaning from your task list. Maybe gardening – weeding, clipping, lawn mowing – is not a task you like to do but if you can afford a lawn service then that task is also eliminated.

Think about how you spend your time. What do you do that brings you satisfaction and what are the chores, tasks, activities that you find unfulfilling? Make a list and see what you want to keep on doing and what you may want to eliminate from your schedule. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic so please respond!

Live Now

December 19, 2012

I was at my local grocery store earlier today. Grocery shopping was just one of the many errands I had to do today. I took some time last night to organize my grocery list. I went through the recipes of the special dishes my family has requested for Christmas Dinner. I wanted to include some of the non-perishable ingredients on my grocery list. This will save me a little time next week and I’ll be able to do a little pre-cooking! I love my neighborhood grocery store. I know many of the people who work there. They are always friendly and helpful! One of these helpful people came to help me unload my grocery cart. As is our custom, we had a little conversation. She said, ‘It looks like you’re getting ready for Christmas’. I replied, ‘Yes, I am. Are you ready or getting ready?’ She looked at me sadly and said ‘No, I’m not. I miss my family. It’s just not the same without my family. So, I’m feeling a little lonely and sad. It’s hard for me to get in the Christmas spirit.’  I told her that I was sorry she felt that way. Many of my family members are far from me so I can truly empathize with my grocery store friend. In fact, one of my sons will not be coming home for Christmas. I’ll be seeing him for New Year’s, that’s some consolation, but I will miss him on Christmas Day.

Many people, particularly at this time of year feel a little sad or lonely – missing family members and perhaps shared family traditions. I don’t have a remedy or solution but I do have a couple of strategies.

One strategy is not unique. It’s a mindset. I try to live in the present, to enjoy and remember what has come before but to really live in the now. There was a time when I was almost exclusively focusing on the future and living in the past. I can recall saying to myself something like: I love the way we used to be able to sit outside, I can’t wait until we move from this apartment and I can sit outside with my coffee again. I would say this alot when we lived in a small apartment in Hong Kong. Looking back I really liked our apartment. The photographs I have of it are lovely. I know now that I didn’t truly appreciate it at the time because I was not living in the present.

My other strategy is to be a volunteer. When you are volunteering on a project, helping other people, you can not help but be happier. First of all, you meet other interesting people – always a benefit, and you work to make something better. Sometimes the work is hard but then when you’ve accomplished a pre-set goal or task you can go home and be proud of your work. You’ll sleep well from the physical effort and knowing you’ve helped in some way. That’s a good, rewarding and happy feeling.

So, if you’re feeling a little blue try doing a some volunteer work this will help you to focus on someone or something other than yourself. Remember to live in the present and appreciate all that you have – no matter what that is. After all, we no longer have the past and the future is yet to come. So, live now.

Thank You Notes?

January 9, 2012

I finished writing my Thank You notes for gifts I received for Christmas over the weekend. I enjoy the process and take my time writing these notes because I want to recipient of the note to know that I appreciate the time, effort and thought they put into my gift. I also write notes to thank people for having me over for dinner or for helping me with a volunteer project. I think that this (the art of writing a thank you note) is something that should happen more regularly. Too often, we send notes via e-mail or text. I know it’s fast and easy. There is certainly something to be said for checking that item off your ‘to-do’ list. However; when someone takes time to find a perfect gift, or they take time out of their busy schedule to volunteer for a project, or they take the time to host a lovely meal I believe they deserve a small hanwritten note in return.

So, my question to you is: do you write thank you notes?

Here are my guidelines for writing a great note.

1. Thank the person for the gift (include a detailed description), the time they volunteered, or (fill in the balnk)

2. Say something about how you will use (fill in the blank) or about the event

3. Include a sentence or two about something you are doing – a new endeavor, perhaps

4. Close with something like ‘Thank you so much for your genorosity’

Keep in mind that this is a note, not a letter, so it should be brief. Also, this is a wonderful way to really show appreciation to someone who cares for you!

My Journey

September 15, 2011

The journey I am going to tell you about is my experience in the Level III program to earn the designation CPO-CD with the Institute for Challenging Disorganization. You see, for the past year and a half I have been reading books, writing papers and studying to enhance my understanding of chronic disorganization. This knowldege serves to improve my ability to provide great organizational assistance to my clients challenged by chronic disorganization. Today my journey ended with a final exam. It was an oral exam. The people administering the exam were wonderful – friendly and encouraging. However; I am not at my best in situations like this. I’ll find out later if I passed the exam.

As I left the conference room and had a chance to think about it I realized that, no matter what the result, the past 18 months have provided me with an invaluable experience. The homework combined with work, family, and my volunteer activities taught me even better time management and prioritizing skills. The vast amount of learning which took place during the sessions with my program coach is priceless.

Many people  have written that often it is not as much about the result as the journey and what you learn during the process. Whether or not I receive that passing grade this journey is one I am so thankful to have taken.