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Author: Ellen FayeGeneral Productivity

Clarify Priorities for Best Results

Time Management has changed.  It is no longer about getting it all done, it’s about making smart choices about how to spend your time.  Time Management theorists have been discussing methods for identifying what to do next for years.  While in concept it would be great to have these options, all too often we spend our days putting out fires and doing what we have to do.  By setting priorities we make better choices about which tasks we spend our time on.  This results in fewer “fires,” greater satisfaction and better results.  Over the years I’ve found the following process helps my clients in clarifying priorities:

1. SET GOALS – this helps you to become clear on what is really important to you.  The process doesn’t need to take a long time.  I suggest to my clients that they create one action statement for each relevant life area such as family, business, self-care, community, leisure, etc.

2. MATCH TASKS TO GOALS – when making a decision about if you should do something or not, determine if doing the task will assist you in meeting your goals.  By thinking about the task in context to what is important to you/your goals, you will gain better insight and make better decisions.  You might also notice:

  • that a task you’ve been doing a long time no longer serves you.
  • that doing something because you think you “should” just isn’t a good enough reason anymore
  • that you are spending time on things that don’t have the highest pay-back

3. CREATE A FILTER LIST – before you say yes to a task, a position, or an opportunity run it through a list you’ve created for yourself.  There are no standard questions that should be on your list – this is your list, you get to create it and you get to evaluate it.  What is important is that you are clear in determining what is important to you.  Here are some questions you may want to include:

  • Will it help me to reach my goals?
  • Will it help me grow my business?
  • Will it help someone who is important to me?
  • Will it give me joy?
  • Will I have fun doing it?

4. BECOME OK ABOUT SAYING “NO” – not just to others, but also to yourself.  Giving up opportunities is hard, but never accomplishing anything important is harder.  If you want to be true to yourself, saying “NO” is an important part of the process.

The final step is determining just how much time, energy and effort you want to put into a task you’ve decided is important to do.  For this, we go to 80/20 rule or Pareto’s Principle – you get 80% of the results in 20% of the time.  To get 100% of the results takes 80% longer.  That means you can get it done fairly well in 1/5th of the time.  For example I could write a really good blog post in an hour, or I could write a perfect blog post in 5 hours.  I need to decide which things need to be perfect and which things are sufficient when they are really good.  You can decide that too – that’s all part of setting priorities.  I hope my 80% effort has inspired you to make smarter decisions about how you spend your time.

Author: Vali HeistClutter Garage Organizing

Organize that garage!

Garages tend to become the dumping ground during the winter. But the best thing about organizing the garage is that if we do a really good job, it usually stays that way for at least a year. In reality, families use garages as storage facilities rather than a place for the car. That stuff can include obsolete electronics, delayed decisions about where to put something, overflow from the house, and unneeded building supplies. Since the whole family probably uses the garage, bring everyone together and make it a family affair. Let’s break it down:

Start with a clean slate and unclutter

  • Pull everything out onto the driveway if you can. Sweep it out and eliminate the cobwebs.
  • As you pull items out, sort them by categories:
    • lawn and gardening, work bench, sports equipment, dry goods overflow, car accessories, tools and power equipment, paints/solvents, lawn furniture, beach items, camping, etc.
  • Talk to your children about their items and help them eliminate clutter. Consider having a garage sale to sell their unneeded toys.
  • Finish or get rid of the unfinished projects (two years old or more).
  • Find a new home for stuff that shouldn’t be stored in an uninsulated garage (e.g. photographs, items that could melt).
  • Eliminate duplicates and donate unneeded tools, doors, windows, appliances, or anything to build a house to Habitat for Humanity in your area.
  • Take hazardous waste items (e.g. oil-based paint) to local semi-annual cleanups.

Stay in the Zone

  • Divide the garage into zones according to the categories you’ve established.
  • Think “grab and go” and store things where they are convenient.
  • Hang tools where they are most accessible.
  • Keep car accessories close to the cars.
  • Store overflow from the kitchen close to the door near the house.
  • Reposition some zones as the seasons fluctuate: move bikes, beach items and lawn furniture down in spring and move the skis and sleds up high.

Type of storage/system

  • Put big items back first and the rest goes around those items.
  • Think ‘up’: store infrequently used items on high floating shelves or beams.
  • Metal on cement will rust the metal. Rest metal on wood or up on the wall.
  • Studs with no dry wall are great for peg boards. Cut different sizes according to the types of stuff you have.
  • Use open wire epoxy-coated steel shelving: wet things can dry, mesh prevents dust.
  • Consider a garage storage system. Search the Web or go to Lowe’s or Home Depot.
  • Use different colored plastic bins for different zones so it’s easier to put them away.
  • Hang long things vertically so they take up less space. If garden tools don’t have a hole to hang, drill one.
  • Remix things you may already have: Use old drawers/cabinets, shoe bag on the wall to hold small garden tools, old table for work bench, etc.

Finally, if you enter your home through the garage make sure it’s clutter-free and welcoming. Hang a welcome home sign, clean the door, and put a nice door mat in place. You deserve a nice welcome home!

And remember: “Every time you put something back where it belongs, it’s a gift to yourself.”

Author: Carole WeinstockGeneral Spiritual and Holistic

Organizing is a Holistic and Spiritual process!

As a professional organizer for 8yrs, my belief is that the process of organizing someone’s belongings is just a small part of a much larger picture. The clutter, confusion, and unhappiness are just the warning signs for much needed attention.

People often describe feelings of deadness, heaviness, and despair. We are their vehicle to getting them to their rainbow of possibilities and dreams. On a much deeper level they are craving this change and this is where the much needed attention is. These unrecognized hopes, dreams and passions lie underneath, like a simmering pot that has boiled over causing a mess, yet still churning the contents into something delightful.

Organizing the physical space is the bridge to opening up the emotional, mental, and energetic processes that are occurring at the same time. New habits, actions and ideas do emerge. I believe as organizers, we are assisting people on their journey. The outcome is transformation in all areas of life that are important to you. So I say, ‘Invest in Your Wellbeing!’ The changes will occur not only in your environment but in many unexpected areas as well!

Author: Cindy EddyHome Special Needs

Organizing for Families of Newly Diagnosed Special Needs

I recently heard about a young child who was just diagnosed with Diabetes.  At first, I felt sorrow for this child whose life has drastically changed.  But then my thoughts turned to these ‘newly diagnosed’ parents, and my heart sank.

I can empathize, because my child was diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis at the age of six.  I was so overwhelmed, that although I am a professional organizer, my house was a cluttered mess.  I was too emotional to focus on what needed to be done.

I finally asked a close friend for help.  It was easy to put toys, books, and shoes away because everything had a home.  My trouble came when we reached the new items – the reminders that my child has an incurable disease.  The medication, paperwork, and supplies were everywhere, and I couldn’t look at it without tears.

We started in the living room.  All physical therapy supplies went into an attractive container in the corner of the room for easy access.  In the kitchen, an easily accessible cabinet shelf held a small bin for medication and supplies.  The cabinet door had a medication schedule, to make sure we did not miss a dose.

The paperwork was harder, because it needed a filing system. We created an arthritis box, and stored it far away from my daily files. My friend did the tedious part of labeling the files and handling the papers. All I had to do was tell her where it goes.

By reorganizing my home to incorporate my child’s special needs, the arthritis became an ordinary part of daily life instead of an entity in itself.  This reduced my overall stress, but more importantly, brought me closer toward acceptance.

If you are ‘newly diagnosed’, ask a friend for help.  Or better yet, hire a professional organizer!