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Author: Janet BernsteinEmergencies Family General Goal Setting healthy living Home Organizing Procrastination Productivity Project Management

How to Stay Emotionally Healthy During Quarantine

First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with those who have contracted this virus. We wish you a speedy recovery. For the rest of us, we face several weeks of home confinement. I don’t know about you but when I stay home for longer than one day, I tend to become lethargic and unmotivated. This time I’m determined not to let that happen. Here’s my plan of action:

  1. Make a list. Create a list of all the projects you can do at home. Tasks you’ve wanted to tackle but previously never had the time to accomplish. (Mine includes de-cluttering my home office and organizing my digital files.)
  2. Make a second list of all the fun activities you’ve always wanted to do but for which you’ve never had the time. (My list here is significantly longer and includes several books I want to read, working on a jigsaw puzzle with my college-rebound daughter, and catching up on several TV shows.)
  3. Schedule Your Tasks. Just like you would schedule a meeting or an appointment, start scheduling these tasks on your calendar.  Make sure there’s a mix of both tasks. The items you’d rather not do (those you’ve been putting off) and the fun activities. I intend to use the fun activities as a reward for when I’ve accomplished a task from my first list. Also, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start with a just a couple of small dreaded tasks, then reward yourself.  The satisfaction of accomplishing tasks plus giving yourself a reward can be highly motivating!
  4. Use the same strategy for your kids.  If you have kids at home, sit down together and draft a similar list including fun and obligatory activities.
  5. Create a new “At Home Timetable.” We all function better when we have a routine. Now that our regular lives have been disrupted it’s up to us to create new, temporary routines in order to preserve our and our family’s emotional well-being. Consider purchasing a large whiteboard. Draw up a weekly calendar then write in each family member’s tasks, chores and schoolwork etc.
  6. Get Organized with Virtual Organizing. If you are self-motivated and able to do the hands-on organizing independently, this is a wonderful option to keep you accountable, productive and organized during this time. Many professional organizers are currently offering virtual organizing at discounted rates during this time.
Author: Erin CovoleskyEmergencies Family General Goal Setting healthy living Productivity Spiritual and Holistic Tips

Making Lemonade Out of Lemons

As we head into a new month, continued stay-at-home living in most states, with the kids out of school, and a large percentage of the workforce working from home, most of us are starting to wonder just how much longer we can survive through this pandemic. This downtime has been a blessing for some and a curse for others, and right about now, I bet most of you are struggling with staying busy, maintaining a routine and downplaying anxiety. If you have kids, you might be pulling your hair out amidst boredom, complaining and fights. In my house, we have had high highs and low lows. We have moved almost daily from amazing family moments of laughter and warmth to stressful bouts of fighting and discontent. This rollercoaster might look a bit different for each family, but I think there are some things we can do right now to combat the negatives and approach each new day with a sense of accomplishment and hope. None of this is new, but I know that I personally enjoy the timing of a good reminder when I need it the most.

The main thing that I have been working on lately is to be intentional and own my perspective. We all get bad thoughts occasionally, and with the scary things that the media is sharing, it’s no surprise that most of us are being hit with thoughts of worry, anxiety, and fear. It’s human to feel these things, and we shouldn’t necessarily fight them off when they show up. They are sometimes there to warn us against a real danger or protect us from something that might be about to happen. On the flip side, they can also be brought about or intensified by our imaginations or fears, generated from negative experiences in our past. Owning your perspective involves allowing all thoughts to enter and float by, analyzing them to obtain any useful information as they move, and letting them continue their journey out of your brain. Follow up with a positive affirmation, take a step forward anyway, and change the dynamic. The key for me has been to let the thoughts go. Don’t hold onto them, don’t brew over them, and don’t go to bed at night thinking about them. Instead, read a good book, listen to a motivational podcast, pray with intention, or call up a friend or family member to talk about something else. Simply dismissing a thought can feel easier said than done, but I have found that the magic is just as simple as distracting yourself and replacing the thought.

For the first few weeks after the schools closed, my family and I were all sick, so our lives resembled something like those of a pack of wild dogs, scrounging for food and doing whatever needed to stay alive. I joke, but it felt a bit like complete chaos. As we are healing, we are picking up the pieces, getting the laundry done and assessing the inventory of our pantry. Now is the time to reassess the state of your own household and determine things like what supplies are needed, how schedules will change, and who will be responsible for required household tasks. Reinventing and implementing a routine is key for feeling like you have some control over your situation. If you use a family command center or large calendar, erase the scheduled soccer practices and instead schedule a time for things like school or professional work, exercise, chores and free time.

As you acclimate to your family’s new routine, don’t forget to relax and give yourself some grace in this process. Most of us have never lived through a pandemic like this, and it has literally upheaved our lives in a matter of weeks. Most of us have never been trained to navigate in this time, and we are all in the process of figuring things out as we go. If the dishes are dirty and the laundry is piled up, it’s okay. If the kids are not yet in a home school routine, they will survive. If you are using tissues because the toilet paper ran out, everyone will still be fine. Take a deep breath and remember that you are smart, capable and blessed. If a routine or schedule doesn’t work out as you envisioned, change it. The sky will not fall, and you WILL go on to live another day.

I certainly don’t claim to be a therapist or guru in the art of living, but I can confidently claim the title of a real wife, mom, neighbor and professional who is also learning to navigate this strange time right alongside the rest of you. I am finding that readjusting my perspective to focus on the positive, continuing forward momentum, resuming a routine for my family, and giving myself the grace to show up in whatever capacity that I can bring to each day is helping to make great, slightly sweetened lemonade out of this batch of sour, slightly bruised up lemons lying in front of us.

Author: Anne WisgoOrganizing Productivity Uncategorized

Making Your Bed Can Change Your Life

I remember when my mother used to nag me to make my bed. I remember her saying, “you can go when your bed is made.” I would come up with a hundred reasons why it was a pointless task but perhaps there was a method to her motherly madness.

We spend approximately one-third of our lives in our bedrooms. And, it has been proven that the appearance of our bedroom has an overall affect on our mood and our productivity.

Our bed is the most dominant feature in our room. A made bed creates a positive vibe and immediately gives us a feeling of accomplishment. According to the National Sleep Foundation survey, a made bed also contributes to healthier sleep habits and better rest. In addition to increased productivity, bed makers also enjoy lower stress levels, improved moods and tidier homes.

Admiral William McRaven spoke about the transformative power of the daily bed making habit at the University of Texas commencement in 2014. It has since gone viral with over 10 million views and has been referred to by some of the worlds best thought leaders. He states “If you want to make a difference in the world, start by making your bed.” He said in part, “if you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making our bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.” I just love this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jflUvxQLkgs

Since his commencement speech, Admiral McRaven published Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World , a
#1 New York Times Bestseller.

Thanks mom, I suppose you had a point. Having an organized living space makes all the difference. I make my bed ever morning…and this small task has made the rest of my day feel infinitely more together.

I hope you will agree!

Author: Ellen FayeEfficiency Productivity Time Management Tips

How Productive Leaders Reduce Inefficiencies

When I think of reducing inefficiencies I think of when I was in college and learned about the time and motion studies of the 1950’s.  I envision Lucy and Ethel wrapping chocolate on the production line. And then I think that no one wants to live life with so much constraint that we are more machine than human.  However, so many of my clients tell me they want to be more efficient.

I am a big fan of putting rote tasks on autopilot so that our energy can be put towards creative process and enjoying life. I am embarrassed to tell you this (but will because perhaps it might help) but I’m always looking at how to do things in the fewest steps.

I will exemplify this with a task we all do – emptying the dishwasher. I’ve observed many people empty the dishwasher – I do it differently.  And I typically get it done in the time it takes to brew 2 or 3 cups of Keurig coffee.  

  1. I work from the bottom up so that if water spills out of something it’s not going to get anything below it wet.
  2. I unload in groups –the silverware into my hand and then direct to the silverware drawer
  3. I place things on the counter at the location it will be put into
  4. I unload completely, then I put away.  I’m only opening the drawer or cabinet once and I’m putting everything away at one time
  5. And I make it a game to see how fast I can do it. It’s fast and it’s done.

I waste not a moment on something as routine as unloading a dishwasher.

Now let’s apply that to our work. 

  • How can I process my email as efficiently as possible?
  • How can I keep my to-do list as streamlined as possible?
  • How can I make my meetings as effective as possible?

I’ve blogged about all of this and I’ve linked the above questions to those posts.  What I’m addressing here however is how to create systems and processes to be most efficient, streamlined, and effective.

Creating efficient systems

  1. Notice it – recognize the opportunity. Don’t assume you can be efficient without thinking about how to be more efficient
  2. Analyze the steps.   Is there a better, faster, more effective way to do something?  Can you eliminate, combine, or change the order of doing something.
  3. Do – Assess– Adjust. Try it out, practice, watch, question.  Shift, try something else. Keep modifying until you get it right.
  4. Practice and Repeat – use the system until it becomes routine and you don’t have to think about it. Watch your stopping and starting.  Stick with a task until it’s done, or at least until there is a logical stopping point. 

Sometimes having a productivity coach or organizing consultant helps. We work with our clients to help them develop the best ways to improve efficiency.  

Author: Barb BermanClutter Downsizing Organizing Productivity Project Management Time Management

Do You Have an Extra 15 Minutes? It is Amazing What You Can Do!

There are times, I am sure, when you have an extra 15 minutes where you just want to sit, relax, and take a few deep breaths. There is certainly nothing wrong with self-care. However, self-care can also take on another form where you want to use those extra 15 minutes to get something done in your home or office. 

In my world, of course, it has to do with de-cluttering and organizing. There have been a couple of times recently where I took that 15 minutes with a client and myself to do just that.

A client of mine moved into assisted living several months ago. During one of our sessions, as I was helping her unpack and organize, I had some extra time. I went through one of her end table drawers in the living room and was able to recycle and trash 95% of what was in the drawer – old catalogs, old address labels, etc. Now, I could make room for other items that were important for her to have nearby in her new life.

In my own life, I love to travel. I always have travel articles and catalogues that I keep in an antique rice holder box (pictured above). When I started going through my collection, I was amazed at what I could recycle – articles and catalogs that went back to 2016. Since the box never looked like it was totally overflowing, I just kept putting more articles and catalogs in it. As with my client, I was able to recycle 95% of what I had stored.

This led me to think what we can all do in 15 minutes to maintain our organizational systems. Maintenance and persistence always seem to be a huge challenge in the organizing world. Developing a system or process is 1 part of the project. Another part is maintaining or tweaking what you’ve already developed.

Consider what you can do in 15 minutes. You never know what you’ll find unless you go through these areas:

  • Go through a junk drawer in your kitchen, bathroom, and/or bedroom and recycle, trash, shred, or donate.
  • Go through a section of your closet or a dresser drawer when you buy something new and recycle, trash, shred, or donate something old.
  • Go through a section of your closet or a dresser drawer when you haven’t bought something new and recycle, trash, shred, or donate.
  • Go through a file drawer, if you have paper files, and recycle or shred things you no longer need to keep.
  • Go through some bookshelves and box up books you’ve already read or have no intention of reading and donate to a local library.
  • Go through your medicine cabinet and dispose of medicines properly – do not flush down the toilet.
  • Go through your makeup and discard what is old.
  • Go through your spices and discard what is old.

On any given day, we all make choices in our lives as to what to do with our time. With those extra 15 minutes that you have, you could sit back and relax or go through an area of your home or office to see what you no longer need. What is your choice today?

Author: Adriane WeinbergLists Productivity Time Management

Too Much to do? How to Get More Done in Less Time.

Why are some people able to get more done in less time? What’s their secret?

No secret. They’ve mastered how to manage their time.

What is Time Management?

Simply put, it means to effectively manage your time to do what needs to be done on time. Most people feel overscheduled, do not plan their time well, spend too much time on unimportant tasks and so on. It’s not a time issue; it’s an organizing issue. In most cases, proper time management is lacking.

“I definitely am going to take a course on time management…just as soon as I can work it into my schedule.”  ~ Louis Boone

To maximize productivity, you must know and apply effective time-management systems and tools that work for you. Here are some proven ways:

Organization

If you’re disorganized, you cannot maximize your productivity. Your first step is to get organized.

Eat That Frog

“The first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog.”  ~ Mark Twain

The “frog” is your toughest, most important task. Twain’s point was to get it done first each morning and the rest of the day should be easier.

Task Batching

This means scheduling time to do similar tasks. For example, reply to emails from 2:00-3:00. 

Active v. Productive

There’s a huge difference between busy and productive.

“Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.”  ~ Alfred Montapert

I recommend watching this three-minute video, which nails it. It’s meant for older folks with ADHD but everybody can relate.

Multitasking

Forget it. According to Forbes.com, 98% of us don’t multitask well. We’re actually just shifting between tasks which takes our brain time to constantly refocus. Studies show multitasking can reduce productivity by as much as 40%. However, I say it works when one task is mindless and your focus is on the other one.

Procrastination

Delaying inhibits productivity. Be intentional, positive and focused on your objective.

To-Do List

Use one! It’s critical to note tasks in one place, on paper or your device, so you don’t forget.

To begin, implement one or two tips. Practice until they’re routine. Repeat. There’s no shortcut but, over time, you’ll accomplish more in less time. That means more time to spend at work, with family, to read a book, do yoga or on whatever you want! 

 © 2019 Adriane Weinberg. All rights reserved.