Posts Tagged ‘Planning’

Organizing Your Time?

July 21, 2017

Stopwatch.

How do you organize your time? Can you organize your time? This is a trick question.  There are many things I can and do organize very well but time? That’s another question.

You see, no one can hold onto time. I believe time itself is already very organized. There are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour and 24 hours in each day – everyday. We can all agree that these are facts.

Time doesn’t need to be organized.

What can be organized, however, is how you plan your day, the things you want to do and accomplish within the time you have.

I told you, it was a trick question.

We all have things we want to do and we have things that we are compelled to do. How do we get it all accomplished without working ourselves into the ground? Another question is how do we fit in time to exercise, have fun and relax?

Good habits, routines to follow and a great system of planning and prioritizing will help you do all that.

Where do you start?

Start with planning and prioritizing.

Summer time is a great time to start thinking about your priorities. During this time of year the pace can be a bit slower. Take advantage of it and do some critical thinking. What’s important to you and your family? You can think long term or break it down and think about what’s important in the next few months, weeks, or even the next couple of days.

Make a list of these priorities. Then rank them. Which one is most important? Is one of these priorities time sensitive? Would you like to have it completed by a certain date?

When you know that information, take out your calendar or planner (I prefer a paper calendar as I find it easier when I can see the items in my calendar without having to click on a day), and schedule the end date into your calendar.

Be sure to enter into your calendar all appointments and commitments. Please do not say to yourself, I don’t need to write it down – I’ll remember. You don’t need to ask your brain to hold onto to that information. You may well remember and if it’s written down you definitely will not forget!

These are the big things that are going on in your life.

What about the day to day tasks that you want to take care of?

That’s where good habits and routines come in. I’m going to talk with you about how to go about creating good habits and routines next week.

For now, write me back and tell me what’s important for you to get done in the next month.

I’ve promised myself (and scheduled time) to complete my home inventory this month.

Your turn – what are you going to finish this month?

 

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Organizing Lessons Learned on the Dance Floor

July 5, 2017

F7E92B04-B6E2-4C95-BC60-5EC0BADFB567Many of you know that one of my hobbies (a hobby about which I’m passionate) is ballroom dancing. A couple of weeks ago I attended the 20th Anniversary of the Millennium Dancesport Competition run by Mr. Michael Chapman. This competition is absolutely one of the best. It is really well organized and lots of fun! Mr. Michael Chapman always has a theme. This year his theme was Addicted to Love.
As you might imagine the colors in the ballroom reflected his theme. The chair coverings were black with a red band wrapped around the chair back. The table tops were adorned with fuschia pick feathers or miniature Eiffel Towers (you know Paris is the city of love, right?) or a very high heeled shoe with sparkles. The stage had enormous three-dimensional fuschia pink letters on it spelling out the word LOVE. The ballroom was so festive and everyone – all of us dancers – looked gorgeous with our ball gowns, hair and make-up.
This year there were over a thousand participants with more than seventeen thousand entries. WOW! The competition started on a Tuesday and continued through the week ending on Saturday. My partner and I danced on Thursday and Friday. We were there for the whole competition because part of the fun is watching the other dancers. In fact, I always learn something from watching the others.
The competition officially ended on Saturday evening with a fantastic professional show. Sunday morning these same professionals got up early to give a master class. Each of six professionals gave a 30 minute mini-class. The information they shared was terrific. I took lots of notes and plan to incorporate much of what they said in my dancing.
Are you wondering what all this has to do with organizing?
The competition, as I said before, was very well organized. We, participants received a terrific tentative schedule of events. It listed each day and that day’s events. We also received a HUGE binder with all the heat lists. Every event ran on time or a little early which was great. I know that lots of time and effort went into the planning. This made it easier to plan my time on and off the dance floor. My partner and I could predict when we’d have time to do a little practicing and when we could leave the ballroom to get a snack.
I was fascinated to hear each of the professionals talk about organizing as an important skill to employ with their dancing. They emphasized the fact that they must be organized in their body before beginning any dance.
They check the basics: they stretch, check their alignment, their breathing and notice if there is any tension in their body. If there is tension in their feet it could throw them off balance.
They talked about keeping it simple. They like to do simple steps within challenging patterns. They said do not mistake simple for easy. There is nothing easy about doing simple things really well and seamlessly.
Interestingly, they also told us if they are having trouble with a series of steps they break the series down into small components and tackle each one independently.
These are some of the same strategies I teach my clients.
I ask that my clients be ready to organize when I arrive. This means that they are mentally prepared to work with me.
We talk about the purpose of each room understanding that some rooms are multi-functional.
If the organizing project is large we break it down into small, manageable steps so that we can make progress and not feel overwhelmed.
Take small breaks when tackling an organizing project. This helps to clear the mind and let you reset your focus on the task at hand. It gives you renewed energy when you can walk away for a few minutes, take a breath or two, relax and then come back to do the next step.
I also teach straight forward simple strategies tweaked to the learning style of my client. Creating these strategies is never easy as changing what you do habitually is never easy but it can be done through regular and repeated practice.
I loved learning that so many of the organizing techniques I employ with my clients these professional world champion dancers use when practicing and perfecting their dances.

 

Do you have a simple organizing technique you incorporate into your daily life?

 

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!

 

 

Can You Ever Really Be Done?

June 15, 2016

 

Close-up embroidery

I want to continue a discussion about getting to the bottom of your ‘to-do’ list. I talked last week about finishing the tasks on your ‘to-do’ list and a strategy I have been using with great success! The strategy is to assign a group of tasks related to a specific topic to a day.

Now, I’m wondering if any of you reading this have ever felt the way I do on occasion. Sometimes I find myself thinking ‘when I get this, this, and this done then I will have time to relax and take care of something I really WANT to do’.

The truth is that there will always be things to do. That’s what life is all about. Some things are chores, some things are fun, some things are hard and some are easy. But there are always, always things to be done whether or not you chose to put them on a list.

How do you fit in the little (or big) things that you want to do that you (I) keep putting off until I get all these other things done? I have decided to schedule time into my weekly plan for the projects that are near and dear to my heart. For me, it’s needlepoint. I have a beautiful needlepoint canvas that I’ve been slowly working on. Actually, I had been thinking about working on it but had been neglecting it as I was so focused on getting other things done!  I had hope to have it finished by the summer. That’s not happening. I had been letting other things take priority over my needlepoint.

Since I started last week grouping my tasks and getting to the bottom of my daily ‘to-do’ list I’ve been able to plan time into my day – every day – for a little needlepoint. I talking about a ½ hour or so. This small change in my routine has made an incredible difference in my ability to feel more in control of all the things (tasks) on my mind.

Is there a small change that you want to make in your routine that will help you feel more in control? Do you have things that you’ve been putting off until everything else is done?

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

Organizing Conference #NAPO2016

May 25, 2016

I just had the great good fortune to attend two days of the #NAPO2016 Conference in Atlanta. It was my original intention to attend the entire conference but my two sons and daughter-in-law decided that it would be good to visit me. I LOVE it when they visit as they do not live anywhere nearby but I freely admit that I was hoping they would not choose to visit when I was in the middle of attending this great conference. However, the three of them arrived on Friday evening and I was home to greet them. In my world, family trumps everything.

This blog post is not about my family but about the wonderful time I had at the NAPO 2016 conference in Atlanta.

The sessions I attended were fantastic! I am so happy to belong to an organization which brings in great quality speakers to further the education of their members. I will write more about the sessions next week.

For the first time this year I had a table at the Expo with two other organizer colleagues: Jonda Beattie and Judith Kolberg. We were selling our organizing books. It was a blast as many organizers stopped by our table to chat, see what was new, and buy our books. We, Jonda and I, had two new books available for sale. They are two children’s organizing books. They teach children how to go about the task of breaking down a seemingly overwhelming project (picking up a very messy room) into small manageable components. They are titled: Suzie’s Messy Room and Benji’s Messy Room. It was exciting for us to have our organizing colleagues see our new books, like the illustrations and the content, and buy them. We are working with one organizer who wants to buy the books in bulk and then provide them to participants in her workshop. Please feel free to contact me if you have a similar idea.

The other great thing that happened this year at conference – actually it happens every year – is connecting in person with organizers that I usually just communicate with online. We are a community. We speak the same organizer language and totally support one another in our efforts to give our clients the best organizing services. That means that we refer out to one another when necessary. It is an extraordinary experience to be among such a wonderful like-minded group of talented colleagues.

Admittedly, going to conference is an expensive experience. You have the cost of travel, hotel, buying from the vendors, some meals, and entertainment. I’ve found that putting money aside each month in an account earmarked for conference is the best way to afford the investment in my education as an organizer.

If you have a professional conference that you’d like to attend try my strategy of a savings account specifically for that event. I’d love to hear your thoughts on conferences. Do you attend them? Do you find them worthwhile?

 

Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Timely  - SMART Concept

Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Timely – SMART Concept. Conceptual image with yellow paint line on the road over asphalt stone background.

 

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.

 

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?

 

 

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

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!