Posts Tagged ‘prioritizing’

Moving Again?!

August 24, 2016

Yes, I took some time off writing this blog because I was preparing to move again. I did what I tell all my clients to do. I took a long hard look at my things. I emptied out cupboards and only packed that which I really wanted to take with me. I donated some things, sold some things and put some things out for the trash. And I scheduled 3 appointments with a professional organizer. Yes. Even professional organizers need some guidance and encouragement when tackling difficult tasks!

Then the move happened. I didn’t go far – only about 8 miles or so from where I had been living but it seems light years away. More about that in a moment.

It doesn’t matter how organized or prepared you are – moving is stressful. There is a chaotic feeling about the day of the move. I knew this would happen so I took my dogs, Miles and Josie, to be boarded for a week. I didn’t want them to get even more upset watching the process of dismantling their house. Also, with all the doors open there was a chance that they may get lost!

The truck made its way to my new home. Everything was unloaded. Furniture was placed. And then the boxes. OH, BOY were there ever boxes!

I gave myself a week to unpack, put things away, and hang pictures. That was a very tall order. I did get all the boxes unpacked and everything put away. I am pondering the placement of a few pictures but most of them are hung and look great!

Miles and Josie came home to a house that was full of familiar smells, familiar pieces of furniture in unfamiliar places. They have adjusted well and so have I.

I’m resuming a normal work schedule and feel really settled. I am attending to some volunteer tasks that I had let slide while I was preparing to move.

Yes. I still have things I want to do. I want to tweak the shelving in a few places. I want to paint the rooms. I have HUGE ideas for my garden. These things can wait. I will get to them one project at a time.

The most important thing I want to share with you is that while moving is undeniably stressful there are things you can do to speed up the transition from one home to another.

1.      Be mindful of your decisions of what to take with you when you move

2.      Only bring things you Love, Need, Use

3.      Unpack and put away as quickly as you can

4.      Unpack your bedroom first so you can get a good night’s sleep

5.      Pace yourself

6.      Recycle the packing paper quickly

7.      Cut down and flatten the boxes (my moving company reuses the boxes and came to collect them)

8.      Board your pets – moving is stressful for them too!

I’m so happy to be in my new home! I hope if you move some of these suggestions will help you in your transition to your new home!

Workers Putting Furniture And Boxes In Truck

 

 

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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?

 

 

 

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

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!

“Focus on What’s Strong, Not What’s Wrong”

September 25, 2013

I attended a conference last week hosted by The Institute for Challenging Disorganization in Denver, Colorado. I go to this conference every year. This group, of which I’m a member, always gets fantastic speakers and this year was no exception. One of the speakers, Lee Shuer, gave us all the above quote during his presentation.

Don’t you think that if people in general would focus on what’s good and strong and think less about what’s wrong we’d all be a little more content? Think about it. As a student teacher I learned that if I wanted to get a classroom of six year olds to lower their voices I would have greater success if I complemented the children who were using ‘inside voices’. Using positive reinforcement worked like a charm! This technique works equally well with teenagers and adults. My mom used to say “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”. I, in turn, used to tell my children “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all’. I still believe this to be true and practice what I preach!

 It all boils down to the same thing, doesn’t it?  Saying something nice is just as easy as saying something nasty. It might take a little more thought and creativity to come up with the nicer comment as, it seems, the negative comments come so quickly to our lips.

Since this conference was attended by many professional organizers, therapists, coaches and related professionals this quote resonated with us all. It was good to be reminded to bring focus onto our clients’ strengths. Point out to them the things they are doing well. Teach them how to focus on their strengths. For anyone, focusing on what is done wrong only serves to depress or dishearten the individual. This is not to say that things don’t go wrong sometimes but dwelling on those things is counter-productive.  Learning to move on, letting the negative things be over and done, is a powerful skill.

When a client wants to work with me to de-clutter their home I ask them to describe how they want their home to look and feel. Then we review  their priorities. Finally, we create a plan and work methodically through the different spaces – celebrating each and every accomplishment. Together we focus on my client’s accomplishments, even the smallest step toward a stated goal. This enables the de-cluttering to move forward all the while positively reinforcing and teaching organizing skills.

 

Summertime Scheduling

June 5, 2013

Summer ….don’t you just love summer? It’s a great time to relax, kick back and enjoy all the fun things we can do outside with friends and family; walks in the park, going canoeing, tubing sailing, swimming, attending parades and more.

How do you schedule those fun activities and take care of your household chores and garden?

Make your calendar your best friend. Schedule your daily tasks and make a weekly or bi-weekly household chores list so that you regularly hit all the chores you need to do to keep your home organized. Have the chores be a family affair so that you are not the only one taking care of everything. Share the wealth! Rotate the chores so that each person living in the home has a chance to tackle almost every chore. Having said that, if you have small children you will want to make the chores you assign to them age appropriate. The sooner your children learn to help out around the house the better it will be for you and for them. You are teaching them skills they will have for the rest of their lives!

Scheduling and prioritizing your chores will allow you to have some flex time for all the fun summer time activities in which we all like to participate! One of my favorite summer activities is gardening!

I love to be out in my garden. I have a large flower garden and really enjoy the weeding, clipping, and other chores that go hand in hand with having a lovely garden. I schedule a little gardening time into my day everyday that it’s not pouring rain. I do that so that I continue to enjoy the process and so that I don’t become overwhelmed by the enormity of the task.

If I did not work in my garden consistently I would have more weeds than flowers. The result would be a garden that is not particularly lovely and it would be a monumental chore to get the garden back in shape. Doing a little bit everyday allows me to keep the weeds to a bare minimum, even if I miss a day here or there it’s O.K.

For more information on scheduling household chores you can download The Sample Weekly Cleaning Routine for a small fee from my website.

Take Time to Save Time

May 21, 2013

Quite often I hear things like this from my clients: I don’t know where to start; I have so much to do, I don’t know what to do first; I sit around and think of all the things I have to take care of and by the time I’ve decided what to do I don’t have time to do it.

Do any of these phrases sound familiar to you? Do you ever find yourself wondering what task to begin first or having so much to do that you spend all of your time trying to remember all those things and doing none of them. Then, perhaps, you feel a little guilty or unhappy with yourself because so much time has gone by and nothing has been accomplished.

I suggest that you take the time to make a list. Taking the time to write everything down (either on paper or electronically) will free your mind of having to remember all the tasks you want to complete. Then you can take a look at your calendar, review your schedule, and decide which tasks you have enough time to either complete or, at least, start.

When should you make this list? That’s up to you. What day and time makes the most sense to you? I make my master list on Sunday afternoons. I take a look at what I’ve accomplished during the preceding week and think about what I’d like to get done this week. Then I write everything down, recognizing that not everything will get done but if it’s on my list, I know I won’t forget! Every evening, after work, I make a short list for the next day. I first review my master list that I made Sunday afternoon, I look at my calendar see what time I have available to use and schedule my tasks accordingly.

I created the daily habit of doing this every evening because then I don’t worry during the night about what I have to do the next day. Taking the time in the evening saves me time in the morning – I know what I’m doing. I’ve already reviewed my tasks and prioritized them. This is not to say that I can always, everyday stick to my list and complete it – I can not. However, because I have this method and it works for me, when other unexpected things have to be taken care of first I am confident that I can juggle my schedule and manage the top priority tasks.

Change?

February 20, 2013

I read an interview this morning on Linda Samuels’s blog The Other Side of Organized with Judith Kolberg.  I’m proud to say that both these wonderful women are colleagues as well as friends of mine! Linda interviewed Judith about change and why some people make the effort to change. It is a wonderful interview and I encourage you to visit Linda’s blog and read it.

I wanted to keep this topic of change going and talk about how to change and what motivates people to change.

First, let me say that change is never easy. It’s much more comforatble to continue doing what you’re doing. Change requires a concerted and obvious effort. To change you need to know exactly what you want to change and then be deliberate about effecting that change in your behavior.

So, if it’s not easy why change? Sometimes we want to change because our behavior is impacting the way we live, our relationships, our health, or our quality of life.

Here are a few steps to take to create change:

1. Identify One and only One behaior you want to change

2. Replace that behavior with a different one

3. Make a few signs (large ones) to remind you of the new behavior

4. Reward yourself when you are succesful

5. Do not punish yourself when you goof – just admit that you’ve goofed and try again!

 

When you have succesfully replaced the behavior you want to change with a new one then go ahead and identify another behavior to change. Remember that change is challenging so trying to change too many things at one time is not a recipe for success. Change one behavior at a time, building on each accomplishment.

Take a Break!

January 23, 2013

Are you working hard? Does the list of tasks on your desk or in your mind seem endless? I know I can always find one more thing to add to my ‘to-do’ list. I bet you can, too. Working endlessly without getting up, stretching your legs, and looking at something other than your computer screen can become truly overwhelming – even when you are making your way through your list. I have a few tips to share with you which may help you be even more productive.

1. Straighten up your desk in the evening as your work day is winding down.

2. File completed work that was left out.

3. For work still in progress; decide what your next step will be and make a note of that on the outside of the file. Put the file in a spot designated for work in progress.

4. Make your list of things to do the next day.

5. Prioritze your tasks and then schedule them into your day

6. Now schedule a few 15 to 20 minute breaks

When your next day begins you’ll know what your doing and when. You’ll also be able to anticipate some breaks in your work day. Use that time to stretch your legs, maybe even take a walk. Letting your mind wander can be really refreshing. In fact, you may find that when you return to your desk you are able to focus and get more done efficiently.
Of course, unanticipated taks sometimes pop up but when you have a good working list of priorities you can do a little juggling and take care of the new urgent task as well as the one you have put at the top of your to-do list.

 

 

 

Do you have time to…?

October 10, 2012

Do you get that deer in the headlights dazed look around this time of year when someone says something like ‘Do you have time to help me …’? There is always so much going on in the fall. Reconnecting with friends you haven’t seen much of during the summer at meetings, like the Garden Club or Book Club.  If you have children in school then there are the school parents nights to attend and parent/teacher conferences.  How about making or finding your child’s halloween costume? Following Halloween is my favorite of fall celebrations: Thanksgiving. But, leading up to Thanksgiving for me is the baking and preparing of the goodies which make up the Thanksgiving feast. Right on the tail of Thanksgiving comes Channukah and Christmas. I don’t know about you but I sometimes get a little overwhelmed thinking about all the activities that go along with Christmas.

Personally, I have lots of tasks to take care of in preparation for Christmas. I send out cards, decorate my house and bake lots and lots of cookies. I have several cookie monsters in my family and love to provide them with these delectable cookie treats at Christmas. I also have gifts to buy for my immediate family and for my siblings. So, in addition to buying the gifts, they also have to be wrapped and mailed to the recipients. How do I accomplish these tasks and keep from feeling a bit stressed and overwhelmed? It’s all about organizing & prioritizing my time demands and knowing what additional tasks I can take on without overtaxing my schedule.

How can you avoid the deer in the headlights look as we get deep into fall? This is the topic of a workshop my colleague, Jonda Beattie, and I are presenting on Friday, October 19th in Alpharetta, Georgia. It’s going to be a wonderful workshop complete with holiday punch, christmas cookies and door prizes. Jonda and I will share our strategies that enable us to complete all the tasks surrounding these holidays AND enjoy them! Attendees will also receive a terrific handout full of useful tips. I hope to see some of you there.