Posts Tagged ‘overwhelming’

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!

 

 

 

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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.

 

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?

 

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? 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? Too Many Toys?

July 8, 2015

These past few weeks I’ve been talking with you about knowing when you have enough of something based on the container. I talked about clothes and closets and books and bookshelves. Today I’m beginning the topic of our children’s toys.

Wow! What a topic! I know that when my children were little toys just seemed to multiply overnight. My mother would give toys on random occasions. Birthday parties with goodie bags contained small toys. Then there were birthdays and holidays and all of a sudden the toy chest, closet, and shelves were full to overflowing!

Then the toys appear in the family room. I’m not sure there was ever a space (maybe the dining room) that didn’t have some sort of collection of toys. So, do I think there were too many? Absolutely I do.  However, we moved overseas when my children were young. Because of this move we were only allowed to bring a certain amount of things with us. Naturally, this meant we had to cull our collection of toys – making some tough decisions.

So, how do you go about this process with your children?

First, think about what is age appropriate. Are there any toys they have aged out of – baby toys, toddler toys? I understand they may love these toys and may even play with them occasionally. Help wean your child away from these toys by removing these toys slowly. Be sure to do this when they are not around. You can selectively donate out (to a friend, relative or charity) a few toys at a time. If you want to keep them for another sibling then simply put them out of sight. Perhaps the top shelf of a closet.

Next, are there any toys that are missing pieces or broken? Those should be easy to discard. Please don’t donate toys that are not in ‘gently used’ condition. Your child can help you with this process. It’s a valuable life lesson for children to learn to go through their belongings and weed them out. This will help them understand that they do not have to keep everything they own always.

Finally, are there any toys of which there are duplicates or even triplicates? Please reduce the number by eliminating the extras! Your child can help identify the extras. You can even go together to give the extras to a local daycare center.

I’d love to hear from you on this topic. Do your children have too many toys? Is the amount of toys overwhelming? How do you handle this?

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.

Under Pressure?

October 10, 2014

I know I’ve taken a break from writing this blog for sometime now. Usually, I’m all about not taking on too much – knowing that when I say ‘yes’ to someone to do something I not only know that I will do that task but that the task will take time away from something else. Well, I have really been over scheduled and over-committed the past few months and the pressure will not be off until the middle of November. That’s still almost a month more of living in a time-sensitive pressure cooker.

Are you wondering what tasks, projects, and chores I’ve taken on or maybe you’re wondering why I did this to myself? Let me answer the last part of the question first.

I took on all these projects because each one appealed to me on some level. Have you ever taken on a project because you are friends with the person asking you for help and you didn’t want to let them down? Well, I have and I did recently. I agreed to do the other projects because I believed (and still do) that they are very worthwhile. So there you have it. I over-committed myself without any regard to the fact that all these projects would be due within several weeks of each other. If they had been more spaced out during the year I would not be in this state of over-whelm.

The tasks or projects I took on are widely varied. One is a volunteer project for the community in which I live. It’s a great project, I like the people involved and wanted to join forces with them. I just didn’t count on the project being quite as time consuming as it is. Two of the other projects I’m currently working on will have an impact on my role as a certified professional organizer. I’m excited about being involved in these projects because I love being a professional organizer and these projects (if I do a great job – which I plan to do) will reflect my passion for organizing and the clients I serve. My final project is to get the word out that my book: Now What? A Simple Organizing Guide is now published! YIPPEE It is available for purchase on my website and will be up on Amazon within a few weeks. I know I should have been marketing this book for months now – building a buzz – but I was working on all these other projects and simply didn’t do it. So, now, marketing my book is another project.

I truly understand what it feels like to be under a lot of pressure with time demands hitting you right and left. Coming to the end of this season of over-whelm for myself I can fully appreciate just how heavy the pressure can get. Having said that the next time someone asks me to volunteer for a project I plan to ask what the deadline is, how much time they anticipate it will cost me (double whatever they tell me) and then I will check my calendar before jumping at the bait!

How about you? Are you under pressure? Can you relate? Please let me know! Also, if you have any marketing tips for my book I’d love to have them!

Planning

May 27, 2014

Do you have a plan for the day? Do you have a general idea of what you’re going to do or what you want to accomplish today? I’m sure you have places you have to be – perhaps work or appointments – that are accompanied by a specific time. That takes up part of your day. What about the rest of your day? Do you have friends you want to call or meet up with? Do you have errands you want to do? Perhaps you have a project like reorganizing a room on your mind. How or when will you get started? How will you get the other things that are swirling around in your mind done?

Planning is the key to getting things accomplished. Think about it. You schedule a dentist appointment, doctor’s visit, a haircut and the list goes on. You set aside time to take care of these appointments. So, how about setting aside time to get things done at home?

Recently, I was working with someone to reorganize their laundry room. I knew this was going to be a large (lengthy) project so rather than try to accomplish it in one day which would have been overwhelming we set aside time each day during the course of a week. We broke the project down into small manageable steps. You never know exactly how long each step will take and, in fact, one of the steps in this laundry room project took a little longer than anticipated.

Our first step, which should be the first step in every reorganization of a space, was to remove everything from this laundry room – other than the washer and drier, which we left in place. Then we sorted the items we had removed. Once we knew what was going to return to this room we were able to talk about how to organize these things. It’s important to creatively use the space you have. We decided that installing shelves about the washer with an additional shelf and clothes hanging bar above the drier would allow us to put everything away neatly.

We planned time to shop at The Container Store for the elfa shelving system and then we planned time to install the shelves and put everything away. The laundry room reorganization was a huge success! All the items are put away. The room looks great!

Do you have something in mind that you want to tackle this summer? Take a little time and write down all the ideas you have swirling around in your mind. Make a prioritized list of these ideas and decide which one you want to tackle first. Then make a plan. Schedule the time to implement your plan. Remember it may require that you spread this out over several days or maybe even several  weeks. If you plan it, it can happen!