Posts Tagged ‘to-do list’

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?

 

 

 

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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!

 

 

 

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!

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

Proud Navy Mom

February 4, 2015

IMG_0754
A little more than a year ago my son told me that he wanted to enlist in the Navy. I told him that would be terrific. He had just turned 28 years old and was looking at this opportunity with the Navy as a career choice. He also told me that he had some work to do before he would be considered.

Of course, I was curious.. what kind of work did he need to do? To be accepted he needed to meet the weight requirements for his height. I knew that would be tough. My son was in great shape and had been working out so had built lots of big bulky muscles. He had to do more than change his diet he had to change his workout strategy so that he would stay strong and fit but loose muscle mass. That’s a huge challenge. He enlisted the help of a trainer at a local gym. Together they made a detailed plan.

In addition to that he told me he wanted to study hard so that he would do well on the placement test. He figured out what he needed to study, looked at his calendar and plotted the different subjects into the months. He also scheduled review sessions so the material would be fresh in his mind. He also needed to move home – to do that he had to clean out his house and list it for sale. These were very big long-term projects but he was determined. He broke these projects down into small, manageable steps. He set achievable bench marks and rewarded himself along the way. He made lists and stuck to his plan.

He moved home in late September and started boot camp with the Navy in early December. All the while he studied for those tests, continued to follow his diet plan and worked out.

This past weekend I had the honor and privilege of attending his graduation. He is now a sailor! This just goes to show that hard work, dedication to a dream, determination, and planning pay off. I am a proud Navy mom!

Daily Routines?

January 27, 2015

Do you have routines that you follow day in and day out? Did you know that having a routine can save you time?

Routines save you time because the tasks that  make up the routine are simple and easy to complete in one or two steps. When you do these simple short tasks one followed by the other chores get done quickly!

What sorts of tasks do you think I’m talking about?

Which tasks will help you start your day?

My daily routines involve tasks that help me feel settled as I head out the door.

I make the bed, walk my dogs (by the way, walking the dogs first thing in the morning allows me peaceful time to think about the direction of my day and I get exercise – a double benefit!), get some breakfast and then check my indoor plants to see if they need water.

My evening routine involves making a to-do list for the next day. I tidy my desk and evaluate where I am in the work that I’m doing, think about my appointments for the next day, and gather all the items I need to take with me.

These routines don’t take long – maybe 15 minutes in the evening and about an hour in the morning. This is because my dogs and I usually walk for about 30 minutes. I have more information about daily routines in my book: Now What? A Simple Organizing Guide.

What daily routines can you create for yourself to make your days run more smoothly? Write me back, I’d love to know!

Unfulfilling Tasks

April 29, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Tomorrow?

April 9, 2014

Do you like to put things (tasks) off to do tomorrow? If you do, I bet if you think about it you’ll admit that the things you put off until tomorrow continue to be put off again and again. The other expression of this action is procrastination. Sometimes I find that another more time sensitive task has appeared on my ‘to-do’ list and because my time is finite – I have only the time I have in which to take care of tasks – something gets bumped off my today list and rescheduled.

That word – rescheduled – is key here. I find nothing happens unless it is given a specific day and time.

Another key component to getting things done is to take care of the things you least want to do first. Perhaps you think it will take too much time and so you decide to put off this task that you don’t want to do until you have enough time to complete it all at once. In my experience, you never have enough time and if you just go ahead and start this dreaded task you may find it doesn’t take nearly as long as you anticipated that it would. Also, starting this dreaded task allows you to more clearly break it down into manageable smaller steps. So, start and do as much as you can in the time you have allotted to the task and then move on to other tasks that are scheduled for that day.

Something else to consider is that we’re all very busy. We have lots and lots to think about and to remember. Generally, it’s easier to remember things that we want to do. Sometimes, if we don’t particularly want to do something it’s easier to put it on the back burner and forget about it. I find that having a master list is a good way to stay on top of the tasks that are important to take care of. I make a daily list from that master list. If something is time sensitive I put the date (due date) beside the task. For instance, taxes must be mailed by April 15th. I must have them done by April 14th – sooner, if possible.

Making a list is a sure fire way to keep track of all tasks – especially the ones you dread. Putting things off until tomorrow will not make them go away. It just means that the task stays on your mind – even if it is in the back of your mind – for a longer period of time. Why not just dive in and get it done so that you can enjoy the rest of your day?

Are there certain tasks that you continually put off until tomorrow?

 

Feeling Overwhelmed?

February 18, 2014

What do you do when you’re feeling overwhelmed? Do you walk away from whatever it is that is overwhelming you? Many of my clients are challenged by that feeling of overwhelm. It doesn’t matter if it is piles of paper, too much to do and too little time, too many emails to respond to or deal with or too many household chores when you’re feeling overwhelmed you don’t know where to start.

My advice is to pick a place and start small. If we’re talking about household chores, look at your calendar, figure out how much time you can give to this task, turn on some music that you love – it should probably be upbeat – something you can (and want to) move to, set your timer for the allotted amount of time, and start. You don’t have to finish. When the timer goes off you’re done! Do the same thing again everyday for a week tackling a different spot each day. Before you know it those household chores won’t be so monumental.

Use the same technique to conquer your piles of paper. Start with one pile and for a specific amount of time. Label each piece of paper with its next action. File it appropriately. I’ll talk more about filing paper next week. The point is if you start tackling the paper a little bit at a time you will get control of it.

If your to do list has too much on it and that is overwhelming you try to delegate some items. Then, look at the tasks you can’t delegate and prioritize the list. Now, pull out your calendar and schedule a few of the tasks each day. Taking action on these items will reduce your feeling of overwhelm. Try to only have two or three of your ‘to-dos’ scheduled on any one day. It’s less imposing when you have only a few things to take care of.

Small steps can have a big result as long as you keep taking those small steps forward! Give yourself permission to only do a little bit at a time. Don’t think about ALL you have to do – that is overwhelming. Focus on the small tasks you’ve set aside to tackle today. Do them, reward yourself and be done.

Let me know if this helps reduce your feeling of overwhelm!

Wins!

August 20, 2013

Once a month I attend a meeting with several other women. Some of the women have known each other for years and years. They started out decades ago as colleagues and have maintained their friendships. They have a beautiful history together. I joined this group about a year ago. I’m just getting to know most of these women. However, two of the women in the group are colleagues of mine, fellow professional organizers. We three have known each other for about seven years. So, as you might imagine, it’s a very friendly group. This is my goals group. I am so thankful to be a part of this group!

As I said, we meet once a month. The meetings are generally in one of the member’s home and always are timed around a meal. Everyone brings something to contribute to the meal. It’s interesting that no one organizes the meal and it just works out. For instance for this month’s meeting 1 person brought a quiche, 1 brought veggies and dip, 1 brought fruit, and 1 brought chips. There was plenty for everyone and no duplications!

The meeting starts with a thought provoking inspirational quote. The member hosting the meeting finds and reads this to us. Then we start by going around the group and each person states what her ‘wins’ are for that month. Then we go around again and each person talks about what her goals are for the coming month.

I’m talking about this because this month was particularly meaningful to me and I wanted to share my thoughts about it with you. One of the members of our group said ‘I don’t have any wins this month’. The woman sitting next to her said ‘yes, you do!’ and she went on to elicit the wins from her friend.

We all do things that we must celebrate as wins. They may not appear on the surface to be things we feel we have accomplished but think about them again and we might say something like ‘I’m happy I did that’ or ‘ wow! that worked out well!’

Do you make a daily ‘to-do’ list? If you do, then you know the things you have done. Maybe some are routine tasks. Maybe you are working on a project and have broken that project down into smaller portions (measurable, achievable goals) and have completed a portion. Perhaps just getting through the day is an accomplishment.

Celebrate your wins. Remember them. Write them down and tell your friends. So often we talk about the things we haven’t done, want to do, or didn’t do well. I love being a part of a support group, my goals group. We celebrate each others wins and encourage each other.

Are you a member of a group such as the one I belong to?

If you aren’t, maybe you’d like to start one?