Posts Tagged ‘calendar’

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.

 

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Grocery Shopping and Meal Planning

April 13, 2016

Empty menu board

Over the past few weeks I’ve been talking about the kitchen. Buying and organizing supplies; only buying what you need. How do you know what you need?

Do you have a list to refer to when you grocery shop?

Some people have a list of the things they buy frequently from the store and they put a check mark next to the item when they need to replenish their supply. They leave space on the page to make note of the extra items to purchase. This is a very good option.

Other people create a list of things to buy as they run out of them. I have a small pad of paper in a holder on my refrigerator. When I run out of something or when it is running low I can quickly make a note of it on this paper. This way I don’t over buy.

Another tip is to once a week schedule time in your calendar to sit down and create a menu plan for the following week. Check your recipes to see what non-perishable items the recipe calls for and then take a look in your pantry to see if you have those grocery items. If you do, you won’t need to buy them. If you don’t then add them to your grocery list. I like to make a little note on my grocery list what recipe certain items are going to be used for – particularly if it’s something out of the ordinary. That helps to jog my memory!

Buy the perishable items for only a few meals at a time. This way if your plans change and you decide to eat out it will be easy to reschedule that meal.

Another tip is to try not to grocery shop when you’re hungry. I know that if I’m hungry when I go grocery shopping I end up buying food that I don’t need. I buy way too much and I also buy food items that look appealing at the moment but that in reality I won’t eat. I also tend to buy more snack food.

Schedule your trip to the grocery store after a meal if you can.

Please let me know how you plan your grocery shopping and if you think planning your meals will help you?

 

 

Getting Your Garden Ready

March 16, 2016

Recently I’ve been talking about spring cleaning inside your home. To recap this time of year when the light is newly bright again take the time to open your eyes and really look into all the spaces in your home. Get right into the corners and dark spaces. Clean them. Take the opportunity to look closely at your belongings. Dust them off and put them back or remove them from your home (if you determine they no longer fit your decorating style or lifestyle). Remember that spring lasts a good three months.

Schedule time in your calendar to deep spring clean each area of your home. Tackling your whole home at one time is a daunting and overwhelming task. When you plan it out and break it down into small tasks this project becomes much more manageable.

2015 05 summer mailbox flowers

Now is also the time to take stock of your garden. I should ask, do you like to garden? I do. I love to spend time in my garden! The last few days I’ve been out taking a look at my garden to see which plants are starting to poke their heads out of the earth. I love this time of year when my garden springs back to life! I notice where there are empty spots. Places where plants have not made it through the winter. I’m taking stock and thinking about the different plants I may want to add. While it’s too soon to plant it’s not too soon to make a plan and to decide what you’d like to do with your garden.

My garden is full of shrubs and perennial flowers. Is your garden a flower or vegetable garden? Is it a small cottage garden or do you have lots of space to garden? Are you learning to garden and trying one for the first or second time this year or are you an experienced gardener?

No matter your level of expertise or the size of your garden playing in the earth with plants is a wonderful pastime.

Look at the area in your garden you may want to change. Determine if you’re adding plants in the shade or the sun. If it’s a sunny spot try and calculate how many hours of sun that spot gets. It makes a difference as to which plants you want to consider. Likewise, if it’s a shady spot try and figure out if that area gets any sun at all or if it’s deep dense shade. The amount of sun makes a tremendous difference in the plants that will thrive in a location.

Another thing to consider is the size and color of the plants. Do you need to fill in with some low growing plants in the front of your garden? Maybe you want to add a tall plant in the back to add interest. The possibilities are endless.

Once you have these things figured out you may want to take a trip to your local plant nursery. Generally, the people who work there have great information to share about the plants they carry. They can tell you about how tall and/or bushy a plant will get as well as what you will need to do to promote its continued growth.

Young botanists  in greenhouse

As with everything else this is something that requires a plan. Pull out your calendar and set aside some times to really look at the garden space. It will take several observations at different times of day to figure out the sunlight question. Then schedule time to look at different garden websites to figure out the plants you want to add. Soon enough it will be time to plan the trip to the plant nursery, buy the plants, and plant them!

Garden Maintenance is key but that’s a topic for another time!

Write me back and let me know if gardening is one of your hobbies. If it is what are your plans for this year’s garden?

 

Now What? What do you do to take care of yourself?

November 4, 2015

Close-up of female hands holding teacup in front of opened book

Did you have a good and fun Halloween? I hope so! When my children were young we had the best time on Halloween. A friend of mine invited us all – my family and 3 other families – to come to their home, have dinner, and then go trick-or-treating. It was a blast! The children dressed up and went as a group knocking on doors, shouting “TRICK-OR-TREAT”, collecting candy and going on to the next door. We moms loved watching our young ones, making sure they all stayed together and took care of each other, and sharing our thoughts as we went walking down the sidewalk behind our children. We did this for many years. I have great memories of those times with my friends.

This Halloween tradition signaled the beginning of the Holiday season for me. Starting in November my calendar would always begin to get a little more jammed up with parties and responsibilities. I would begin to plan how I was going to get all the baking, shopping, decorating, and wrapping done well in advance of Christmas.

As the years went on I began to realize that I was taking care of everyone else and forgetting about myself. I started to plan little things just for me into my calendar. Are you wondering what sorts of things I plan for myself? They are little things: a half hour of peace and quiet reading a book, taking a bath, or doing some needlepoint. These are things I like to do that don’t cost anything, that help me relax, and that give me a feeling of well-being.

Think about it. What can you do to relieve the stress of the season? What sorts of activities let you relax, feel happy and centered?

Scheduling a few little things just for me is a wonderful way to make sure that I am able to take care of all that I have on my plate as well as myself during this very busy time of year. After all, I realize that I am much better at taking care of my family when I have taken time to take care of myself.

I’d love to know if you feel the same way and what you can do to take care of yourself!

Now What? How Flexible is Your Plan?

October 21, 2015

Young girl doing gymnastic exercises on the pier (ancient version)

How do you define flexibility? The dictionary has several different definitions. They are: 1. to be able to bend without breaking; not stiff or rigid; easily bent; pliant 2. Easily persuaded or influenced; tractable 3. Adjustable to change; capable of modification.

If you are physically flexible that will serve you well as you age. How do you maintain that flexibility? Easy – exercise regularly and focus on being able to move easily. I do competitive ballroom dancing as a hobby. Last weekend I participated in a dance competition in Atlanta. There was a woman 94 years young dancing tango, foxtrot, waltz, Viennese waltz and quickstep – wow! I imagine she practices regularly; since ballroom dancing requires you be physically fit and flexible as well as mentally alert and flexible.

At this time of year it’s easy to feel swamped or overwhelmed by all the activities and events. If you have children in school there are parties to volunteer for and field trips not to mention the school recitals and performances. If you are part of a volunteer group many celebrate and honor their volunteers in November right around Thanksgiving. I have a large family and keeping track of who is doing what, when and where can sometimes sound like a comedy routine.

This is where the third definition of flexibility comes into play. If you can adjust or modify your plan for the day you are brilliant! How can you do this? You start by being organized, by keeping your calendar up to date, and by having a plan for each day. When you know what you are doing, when and where then you also know what things can be shifted – modified – to accommodate a slight change in plan.

strategy photo

Chaos happens when you don’t start with a plan. When you let the day happen without having an idea of how you are going to get the things done that you want to do the day can float on by. You can be pulled in many different directions, never quite finishing any task. Letting the day float on by is a wonderful thing to do when you’re on vacation!

Try and create a plan for your day with your calendar in hand. Take note of your appointments, how long it will take you to travel there and back, how long the appointment will probably last. Then see where you can fit in errands or other tasks that you’d like to accomplish. Then take note of any remaining or free time. If something unexpected pops up you’ll be able to shift those errands and other tasks around to accommodate the unexpected event. You’ll also know what can be put off for another day.

This will help with that swamped and overwhelmed feeling that can creep up on us as we’re preparing for all the fall festivities!

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?

Do Your Best

March 17, 2015

There are a few organizer sayings that I often hear and even more often repeat to my clients. One of them goes like this… It doesn’t have to be perfect, just make it good enough! The message behind this statement is fairly clear but in the interest of complete transparency let me explain it further.

When you begin a project you have a vision in your mind’s eye – a picture of how you want the project to look once completed. This vision is probably close to perfection, if not perfection. However, it’s not always possible to achieve that level of perfection. So, if you finish the project and you’ve done your best, be happy with good enough.

How do you know if it’s good enough? Well, you can ask some questions – and answer them.

Does the completed project solve the problem?

Will you be able to maintain the organization?

Does it make you happy?

Does it look the way you’d like it to (even if it doesn’t match the picture in your mind’s eye)?

If you can answer ‘yes’ to these questions then it’s definitely good enough!

I always work towards doing my best. I firmly believe that is all anyone can ask of another. So, if you consistently put out lots of effort and do your best, be happy with good enough!

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

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!

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.