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Author: Vali HeistGeneral Goal Setting Holidays Organizing Procrastination Seasonal Time Management

Happy New Year…Time to GO!

"Happy New Year" decorated slogan

Let me be the first to wish you Happy National Get Organized Month! I saw a sign hanging in Lowe’s that said “Resolve to Declutter” and it was surrounded by a colorful array of storage containers. It’s that time of year when many of us look around our homes and ask “Where did all this stuff come from?” Taking the first step and staying organized can be daunting, but if you think you are alone, you are not. Here are ten barriers that keep my clients from starting and staying organized. Let’s break it down:

  1. Don’t have the time. Time won’t magically appear when you want to achieve something. Use a day planner or your smart phone to schedule the time to organize, have fun, or accomplish something great. When you do, there is suddenly time to be spontaneous!
  2. Allowing others to dictate your schedule. I’m not talking about going out and having fun, but I am talking about setting boundaries so others don’t infringe upon your personal time to get your own life in order.
  3. You aren’t good at organizing. Some people need more practice than others and developing a habit takes at least 30 days to make it stick. Use books and websites to help.
  4. Staying focused. Our brains aren’t wired to stay on task so use cues, rewards, or a stop watch. Use whatever you deem necessary to stay focused on the project at hand.
  5. Perfectionism. If it can’t be perfect why start at all? If that sounds familiar, start small and celebrate small accomplishments. Practice saying the words “good enough.”
  6. Too much clutter or CRAP: Clutter that Robs Anyone of Pleasure. If your things do not bring you joy, pleasure, usefulness, or life to your home, it should leave your home.
  7. Once and done should do it. All homes need maintenance to remain organized week after week, but if you have a home for everything, cleanup will be a breeze.
  8. The voices around you. Don’t allow others to make you feel bad about not being able to get organized yourself. Ignore the naysayers and enlist a friend or call a professional.
  9. House isn’t big enough. The size or layout of a home isn’t always the issue. Organization methods, storage tools, and less clutter will usually do the trick.
  10. Health issues. Even if you have the desire, you may not have the ability or the energy to do what is needed to get organized. Enlist help.

If you or someone you love needs help moving forward in the New Year, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a professional: a cleaning service, a senior care agency, financial planner, insurance broker, senior move management company, or a professional organizer. Professionals are trained to listen and narrow in on your specific needs. They can give you a jump start or much needed tools to help you or someone you love live their best life.

Clutter Quote: “As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” Henry David Thoreau

Author: Vali HeistClutter General Goal Setting Home Organizing Procrastination Time Management

Happy National Get Organized Month

"Happy New Year" decorated slogan

Let me be the first to wish you Happy National Get Organized Month! I saw a sign hanging in Lowe’s that said “Resolve to Declutter” and it was surrounded by a colorful array of storage containers. It’s that time of year when many of us look around our homes and ask “Where did all this stuff come from?” Taking the first step and staying organized can be daunting, but if you think you are alone, you are not. Here are ten barriers that keep my clients from starting and staying organized. Let’s break it down:

  1. Don’t have the time. Time won’t magically appear when you want to achieve something. Use a day planner or your smart phone to schedule the time to organize, have fun, or accomplish something great. When you do, there is suddenly time to be spontaneous!
  2. Allowing others to dictate your schedule. I’m not talking about going out and having fun, but I am talking about setting boundaries so others don’t infringe upon your personal time to get your own life in order.
  3. You aren’t good at organizing. Some people need more practice than others and developing a habit takes at least 30 days to make it stick. Use books and websites to help.
  4. Staying focused. Our brains aren’t wired to stay on task so use cues, rewards, or a stop watch. Use whatever you deem necessary to stay focused on the project at hand.
  5. Perfectionism. If it can’t be perfect why start at all? If that sounds familiar, start small and celebrate small accomplishments. Practice saying the words “good enough.”
  6. Too much clutter or CRAP: Clutter that Robs Anyone of Pleasure. If your things do not bring you joy, pleasure, usefulness, or life to your home, it should leave your home.
  7. Once and done should do it. All homes need maintenance to remain organized week after week, but if you have a home for everything, cleanup will be a breeze.
  8. The voices around you. Don’t allow others to make you feel bad about not being able to get organized yourself. Ignore the naysayers and enlist a friend or call a professional.
  9. House isn’t big enough. The size or layout of a home isn’t always the issue. Organization methods, storage tools, and less clutter will usually do the trick.
  10. Health issues. Even if you have the desire, you may not have the ability or the energy to do what is needed to get organized. Enlist help.

If you or someone you love needs help moving forward in the New Year, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a professional: a cleaning service, a senior care agency, financial planner, insurance broker, senior move management company, or a professional organizer. Professionals are trained to listen and narrow in on your specific needs. They can give you a jump start or much needed tools to help you or someone you love live their best life.

Clutter Quote: “As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” Henry David Thoreau

Author: Rie BroscoClutter Document Management General Home Office Organizing Paper Procrastination Productivity

Help! My Office is a Mess!

“Help! I can’t stand it anymore! My office is a disaster. Papers are piled everywhere. I don’t know where things are. I don’t know what supplies I have until I run out. My bulletin boards have announcements for events that happened two years ago attached to them. I’m behind on my work, and I hate being in my office. My life is a mess!

“Was this a phone call I received from a potential client?” you may ask. No. This is what I said two weeks ago when I felt like I was drowning in paperwork, and my life was a mess. “But wait,” you exclaim. “You’re a Professional Organizer. You know how to organize stuff. Why can’t you just organize your office?” The answer is that even we, who are experienced and proficient organizing other people’s things, sometimes cannot do it for ourselves.

Every morning I would walk into my office with incredible determination. “This will be the day that I finally and completely organize my office and my life!” But when I walked into my office, something happened. I looked at the piles of paper and the disorganization, and I became paralyzed with dread.

It doesn’t matter whether the area that is disorganized is an office, a kitchen, a bedroom or a play room. Sometimes it just feels as though as much as you really, really want to get organized, you’re just having a hard time doing it. So I asked myself what I would tell a prospective client if they called me with a similar situation.

  1. Just because your (insert name of area here) is disorganized, it doesn’t mean that your entire life is a mess. Remember, you can gain control over the disorganized area.
  2. Set aside a time that you want to do some organizing. Find a timer (a kitchen timer or one on your cell phone works well). Set the timer for five minutes. Yes, I realize that’s not a whole lot of time and that you won’t get a whole lot of organizing done, but it is a manageable period of time to start the process.Untitled
  3. Choose a very small section to work in. Remember, you only have five minutes.
  4. Get rid of the easy stuff first. You know, the stuff that is out of date, moldy, torn, or the thing you just never really liked anyway. Take these items and either recycle or trash them.
  5. By now the timer has probably gone off. If you are on a roll and you don’t mind going further, set the timer for another five minutes. This may seem like an arbitrary amount of time, and it is, but I have found that five minutes of doing almost anything seems easy.

But what do you do if you can’t get yourself to commit to tackling that cluttered area for even five minutes? Take a tip from a professional who has been-there-done-that. Either call a friend who is nonjudgmental and willing to help or call a professional; which is what I did. I figured that if I call a doctor when I’m sick and go to the dentist when I have a toothache, I should call a professional organizer when it feels like my (insert name of area here) needs organizing. What about you? Take just 5 minutes and call for help. Now? Yes! If not now, when?

Author: Yasmin GoodmanGeneral Medical Organizing Organizing Products Procrastination

Did you Hear? Diets Don’t Work. What does? Adherence!

A woman weighs in on a scaleAs I was driving the other day listening to NPR, I heard a provocative story suggesting that researchers should stop spending millions of dollars comparing the content of all the various diets programs on the market today. Instead, they should focus their studies on how to effectively change behaviors associated with weight gain. As a Professional Organizer, this piqued my interest.

Featured on the NPR program “Here And Now,” was Carey Goldberg, health reporter for WBUR in Boston, commenting on a recent paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Analyzing different well-known diet programs, the report concluded that the various diet programs — on average — are equally well suited for losing weight. Therefore, one could pick and choose any one of the diet programs that looks appealing to them and get pretty much the same result.

If the report concludes that it doesn’t matter what diet program you choose for losing weight, then why are these programs ineffective for so many participants over time? Why is it so common that dieters gain back the weight they lost soon after they stop dieting? The key is “adherence” – sticking to healthier eating habits over time. Instead of continuing to spend millions looking at and worrying about the specific content of the diet programs on the market, this report suggests that we need to understand the context of the individual dieter, and therein lies the key to adherence. We need to shift the focus from simply counting calories and carbs, and look toward behavioral change and how to make those changes last – forever.

Behavioral scientists studying the effects of dieting over time look at factors such as why people crave different foods and how environmental factors, such as family traditions, affect their dietary preferences. They found that the one common factor that undermined the best of intentions around dieting and healthier eating habits is stress. The NPR story stated that, “researchers often hear dieters say that they want to lose weight, but life gets in the way.” The root problem is woven in the feelings experienced, when “life gets in the way” and that is a behavioral issue – not a nutritional one.

Just like the dieting industry, the organizing industry has zillions of products to choose from, and still people feel overwhelmed and stressed. For many, the products don’t deliver on their promises of freedom and ease over time. Before clients call us, many of them have been on a number of “organizing diets” and have not reached or maintained their organizing goals over time.  Sleek new organizing products and best intentions are easily de-railed when “life gets in the way.”

As Professional Organizers, we know what makes the biggest difference to someone staying organized over time. It isn’t simply which storage bin we use but rather, that the person develops the habit to actually use the bin over time. All the different storage bins, calendar systems, time management tips, electronic gadgets, apps, etc., do not ensure that one will achieve a state of organization that lasts. They are only the tools we use to create an environment that supports an organized life-style. The actual change towards living an organized life comes from within the individual. Effective behavioral change resets our personal compass, and points us toward our goals and aspirations. “Adherence” to these behavioral changes, ensures us it will last forever!

So the point of this story is…If you want to lose weight, don’t stress about which diet program to choose. Choose the one that appeals to you since they all, on average, work about the same. If you want to keep the weight you lose off for years to come, work with a behavioral specialist to create your unique practices of adherence that promote healthier eating habits. And, if you want to decrease the stress of “life gets in the way,” create an environment that supports your new healthier habits over time — then call one of us. Professional Organizers love supporting behavioral changes that last forever.
http://commonhealth.wbur.org/about/carey-goldberg

Author: Yasmin GoodmanChallenging Disorganization General Goal Setting Home Organizing Procrastination Productivity Project Management Time Management

Curious George Isn’t Just for Kids!

Yasmin and Curious George

Kids May Have Curious George, But Adults Now Have Curious Accountability!

Like Curious George, who stimulates children’s natural curiosity about the world around them, Curious Accountability offers adults a new perspective for tasks associated with getting organized; one where they embark on an exciting journey of self discovery and realized goals. This methodology turns the act of getting organized into a skill building activity. Personal ‘aha’ moments promote longer lasting effects for those who want to get organized and remain organized over time.

At the National Association of Professional Organizers conference in New Orleans last month, Casey Moore and Cameron Gott introduced the concept of Curious Accountability. They defined this concept as “a positive evaluation process based on respect and trust that focuses solely on learning from actions (or inaction). The learning in turn, raises the awareness necessary for developing new skills and tools and achieving goals. Applied consistently over time, Curious Accountability increases self-knowledge and resilience and fosters effective behavior change”.

The word accountability, for many, has a negative connotation — answering to another or a feeling of being punished. In this Curious Accountability model, the focus is on learning and self discovery. Whether the task was accomplished or not, isn’t important. What is important is what the person learns from the process of doing or not doing the task.

Curious Accountability requires a contextual shift in one’s thinking to bring unwanted habits that promote disorganization into the lime light without the usual cloak of shame and blame. If we apply the same kind of curiosity, inquiry, and learning a scientist brings to their fieldwork — or Curious George brings to his daily adventures — we can free ourselves of the ever present good, bad, right or wrong rating systems we apply to our actions and efforts. We can, instead, view our actions, results, and even the “no results” through the filter of learning and exploration. Over time, we are left better problem solvers, in action, and moving towards our goals with more joy, confidence, and ease.

In this learning-focused approach, one might ask themselves at the end of a task or project (accomplished or not):

What did I learn?
What is the value of this learning to the task or overall goal?
What hurdles or “obstacles to overcome” did I discover?

Questions like these are good for illuminating what is important to us moving forward in our organizing endeavors. Should you “get stuck” in this new model, the role of the professional organizer, practiced in this technique, is to be an/a:

Active Listener – listening for the client’s goals and aspirations — long and short term
Cheerleader — keeping the person on track
Mirror – reflecting (not judging) how effective their actions are
Reminder for Self Awareness – let client’s experience inform their next actions
Involved Learner – redefine success

A professional organizer can summarize the learning as it relates to your over all goal or project leaving you ready, prepared, and empowered for your next week of Curious Accountability.

Kids may have Curious George to reveal the magic of curiosity, but adults now have Curious Accountability to propel them forward toward their goals with greater ease.

Author: Sue FrostDocument Management Filing General Goal Setting Procrastination Productivity Time Management

Do you plan your your time or let life happen? : 7 Questions to help you get back on track

Have you ever made it through the week with the same To Do list you started with?
If the answer is yes, and you’d like to change that, the time has come to ask yourself some honest questions.
Emergencies happen.  People get sick.  The unexpected occurs, but not every week.  If your week ends this way more often than not, you may need a new approach.
Try asking yourself the following questions:
1) Do you keep a running list of “To Do” items?
The number one reason things don’t get done, is that people forget to do them.  Well, maybe that’s just my house.  However, I promise this will help you too.  Notice I say one list, not many lists.
If you’re tech savvy, great.  There are more application than I can shake a stick at.  I love my iPhone Reminder List.
If that’s not for you, a good old binder will do the trick.  From that list, move weekly and daily tasks to your calendar.
2) Are your goals broken down into easily understood tasks that can carried out a few at a time?
This will ensure things get done.  Often we just stall out when we don’t know what to do next.
3) Is saying yes to everything your Kryptonite?
Remember the emergency airplane evacuation analogy.  In order to be of use to others, you must first save yourself.  Depending on propriety, learn to say, “No,” “Not right now,” or “I’m trying to meet a deadline.  Can this wait?”
4) Are you a procrastinator?
Most of us are, some are just better than others. There’s a fun book on the subject called Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy.  The book includes lots of suggestions to get moving.  As the title suggests, sometimes it’s best to get those icky tasks done first.  It makes the rest of the day so much brighter.
5) How much time do you spend reading and responding to phone calls and e-mail?
Try limiting e-mail to two times per day.  Turn the audible alert off too.  Limit calls to what you feel is realistic without impacting your business.  If you’re in the middle of reading or analyzing a project that requires critical thinking and you stop to respond to something else, it takes eight to twelve minutes to achieve critical thought again.  It’s more efficient for you to finish what you started.  Then, return the call when you are able to focus on the caller’s needs.  This also minimizes mistakes.
6) Do you spend a lot of time looking for things?
An inefficient filing system (whether electronic or paper) can be a productivity killer.  Investing just a few hours of time in a simple system will pay you back may times over.  You should be able to put your hands on information in minutes.
7) Have you ever been called a perfectionist?  (I have and I was quite pleased until realizing it wasn’t a compliment.)
It has pros and cons.  Here are some examples of it backfiring:  Wanting things perfect can cause a backlog of filing. A perfectionist may only file when he or she has time for the whole project.  A perfectionist can cause projects to stall out while they gather all the information to make the best decision.  Perfectionism can also cause missed deadlines due to overworking details.  At a certain point efficiency is lost.  My motto for the true perfectionist is, done is better than perfect.
I’ve heard it said that no one gets to the end of their life and wishes they worked more.  So, use your time wisely and mindfully.  Save it for friends and family.  If anything gets in your way, consider hiring a Professional Organizer.