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.

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.
Author: Ellen FayeChallenging Disorganization General Goal Setting Organizing Procrastination Productivity Project Management Time Management

Finding it Hard to Get Started on That Project?

Everyone procrastinates sometimes.  It only becomes problematic when procrastination is the norm.  Reasons for procrastination include perfectionism, overwhelm, over-analysis, and lack of planning.  What can you do when you have a project that needs to get done?

Clear the Decks:

  • Plan ahead and get your routine and critical tasks taken care of.
  • Schedule time to work on your project.  Be sure you plan enough time to get a fair amount of the project work done. Starting and stopping is hard; it takes a lot of discipline and wastes a lot of time and energy.

Make a Plan:

  • Write down the steps of the project on Post-its – one step per Post-it.
  • Put the post-it’s in a logical order.
  • You now have a plan.

Make it Fun:

  • It’s ok to alternate fun parts with more tedious ones.
  • You don’t have to start at the beginning either – if the first step is too hard or too boring, start on another part of the project.

Get Ready:

  • Pull all related material together (start this a week or two early), when you sit down to work, you’ll have your materials at hand.

Get Set:

  • When it’s time to get down to work, do what you can to minimize interruptions:
    • close out your email and Facebook
    • Forward your phone to voicemail
    • Clear the clutter off your desk
    • Close your office door.


  • Jump in and do it:
    • Know that as hard as it is to start it’s worse if you don’t get the project done or miss your deadline.
    • Don’t worry about perfection, if you never get started, you’ll never get finished.