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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: Sue FrostGeneral Organizing Productivity Time Management

Time Management Starts with Lifestyle Management

gardesana-762768_1920-2While visiting Italy I learned the maxim, Americans Live to Work, while Italians Work to Live. Their work day seemed a little longer, but the pace appeared less frenetic. They started a little later but enjoyed leisurely lunches and animated banter with coworkers.

Sitting in cafes observing the Italian lifestyle was as interesting as taking in their architecture. They appeared to savor the moment, dining alfresco, without waiting for the weekend to jam chores and fun into forty-eight hours. I admired this philosophy and tried to integrate it into my life upon return.

I became more aware of certain turns of phrase here in the States. Sentences such as, “I have to Chair the fundraiser again this year,” now had a different ring to them. When someone said, “I have so many events and obligations, but I can’t eliminate any of them,” it somehow sounded different.

Many of us approach work with the same mentality. Is there something about our culture that equates being busy with a badge on honor? Are we concerned about appearing lazy if our schedules are less than hectic? I’ll admit to needing to learn to say no. It’s not easy.

How does this relate back to time management? Simply stated, the way we use our time can often be a manifestation of our beliefs.

If we believe that anything less than busy is unambitious, our calendars will be filled accordingly. If we want a life that reflects our goals and dreams, decisions should be made mindfully before the calendar fills up.

In terms of time management, often the goal is to try to fit more tasks into our life. I lean toward minimalism in my organizing practice, and I believe the same minimizing principals can help us with time management. Yes, we need to plan work, meetings, errands, and time with friends and family. The idea here is to step back and do all this mindfully. Start with your goals or the goals of your family. We can work and give back, but we can do so joyfully. Here are some points to remember:

  1. Does your lifestyle reflect your priorities?
  2. Is there time in your life for those most important to you?
  3. Is there “down time” in your schedule? If not, burnout will ensue.
  4. If you find yourself saying, “I need to find time for “that,” stop – and schedule it. Time won’t magically present itself for any project. If something is important enough, pull out your calendar and schedule the task.
  5. Get eight hours of sleep. It’s difficult to accomplish much when we’re tired.
  6. Don’t forget your three square meals a day. Hunger can cause distraction. That said, overeating can cause sleepiness. Proceed carefully.
  7. If you have a home office, establish regular hours. Outlining your working hours will be helpful to you as well and your clients and colleagues. P.S. It sets boundaries with family and friends.
  8. Start each day with a short list of goals. It’s easier to stay on task.
  9. Establish “do not disturb time.” This will be your most productive time.
  10. Remember, multitasking is a myth. We can have multiple projects going on during the same span of time; however, we cannot work on multiple things, literally, at the same time.

Business and pleasure don’t need to be separate. As long as you conduct yourself with appropriate decorum, work can be fun too. Live in the moment. Strive to be present. It certainly seems to work in Italy.

Author: Darla PompilioElectronic Organizing Home Office Productivity Time Management

Seven Steps to Organizing Your Electronic Files

clutter-clipart-6431197_f260Believe it or not, it only takes a few steps to get your online files organized. Below are seven steps to help you save countless hours and avoid those embarrassing situations that come from searching for lost files. Let’s get started!

1. Start at the Root
Determine where you want your file system to live on your computer. Having all your files and documents under one ‘root’ folder on your computer will make it easy to locate your files. Many single Windows users have all their folders, files, and documents stored haphazardly in the ‘Documents’ or ‘My Documents’ folder on their PC. If this sounds like your system, then you might want to consider starting from scratch. The easiest way to do this is to save all your current folders, files, and documents to a new folder and name it something like Archive_2015 or any appropriate name that’s easy to remember. Now you can start to create a new file structure with broad categories without losing any of your current information. After your new filing system is created, you can move previously created files and documents to the newly created system on an as needed basis.

2. Create a File Structure
File structure is the backbone of your filing system and it begins with using folders for general categories. Think big when creating filing categories and limit the number of folders to a critical few. Describe the contents of the folders with short commonly used, meaningful terms. Start broad and get more specific as you add files and documents to those broad category folders.

Examples for business folder names:
        Administration
        Clients
        Financial
        Insurance
        Legal
        Marketing
        Organizations
        Sales
        Vendors
        Projects

Examples for personal folder names:
        Financial
        Medical
        Health & Wellness
        Housing
        Insurance
       Taxes

3. Use Sub-Categories
After you have created your folders using broad categories, you will want to create files with sub-categories. Sub-categories are used to organized those files and documents within your folders. You may have a folder called ‘Projects’ and within that folder are several files or sub-categories called Project-A, Project-B and Project–C.

4. Determine a Naming Convention
It’s important to name your folders and files consistently and logically. Storing multiple drafts of the same document can get confusing, and a naming convention is one way to avoid that confusion. Also, adding a date at the end of the file name is a great way to keep track of multiple documents, and the addition of initials at the end of the file name will add clarity if more than one person is working on the same document.

Naming convention examples:
      Jane_Doe
      Jane_Doe_1/1/15
      Jane_Doe_1/1/15_JD

5. ‘Save As’ You Go
File your documents in the proper location by using the ‘Save As’ feature. ‘Save As’ allows you to save and file your documents as you go, so they will be placed in the correct file or folder from the start.

6. Clean Up Your Desk Top
Evaluate what you really use and delete those icons or shortcuts that are outdated or infrequently used.  Note: deleting a shortcut is not the same as deleting a file, folder or program from your computer. Deleting the shortcut will simply remove it from your desktop.  A program like Fences is a great way to automatically sort out all those remaining icons into organized, easy to see boxes and categories. The program can sort the categories for you or you can create your own categories.

7. Backup Your Files
Have a regiment in place to regularly back up your files. If your hard drive fails or is damaged and your only source of backup is your computer, then you risk losing all of your business transactions and correspondence. The rule of thumb for data protection is “if you need it to run your business, then back it up.” Having all your files saved to a ‘root’ will make that process easy.

Author: Kelly GalfandClutter Electronic Organizing General Home Office Productivity Time Management

Clean Out Your Computer in 4 Easy Steps

Everyone has a different threshold for what it takes to go from manageable to maniacally crazed. In honor of National Clean Out Your Computer Day, celebrated the second Monday in February, I offer advice on four hot spots for digital clutter:

  1. emailcomputer screen
  2. your desktop
  3. photos
  4. documents

My advice: focus your efforts on one of the four electronic clutter hot spots OR do a little purging in each category to get yourself calm and collected — literally. 

When you approach winnowing your documents, photos, desktop or email, get ready for a trip down memory lane. You will be reminded of things you’ve completely forgotten — and some should remain forever forgotten, but some should be resurrected…or completed. It’s helpful to have a notepad next to you to jot down the name of a particular file that you want to compare to others and select the best version. You may want to start a to-do list for future decluttering projects. Clearing out your computer can get addictive…

EMAIL: Without getting into specifics about which apps work best on which platforms, the principles of email management are consistent:

  • notice what’s important
  • respond in a timely fashion to actionable requests
  • remove obsolete info, either from your field of vision, or permanently

YOUR DESKTOP: Go for Zen on your desktop and completely clear it! Apart from straining your computer to refresh icons continually, desktops are there to provide the calm visual space your brain craves while processing data. While your desktop may seem like an infinite holding basket for what’s important at the moment, or a safe place to store what might get lost, left unchecked it will become a graveyard of expired photos, files, and reminders. A final caution: desktop items are typically not included in routine back-ups.

PHOTO MANAGEMENT: When there is no monetary cost involved in taking photos there is little motivation to weed out bad shots and duplicates: except photos take up a LOT of memory. So rather than pay for upgrades, take a look at your stockpile of digital pics and decide on your keepers. Trash the rest. Do not attempt to manage your photos in a day; a few hours a week is a good goal until you have controlled your collection to date, and then a half-hour a week to maintain going forward. If that seems too daunting…just deal with the photos from January 1, 2015 and tackle your larger collection with a pro.

DOCUMENTS: The two biggest categories to tackle are:

  • multiple or draft versions of the same project
  • OLD files…irrelevant info that you have no reason to save, and no reason to refer back to. They have lived-out their usefulness and now need to be deleted.

YOU have to decide what maintenance schedule will work for your lifestyle…but National Clean Out Your Computer Day aside, once a year is not enough.

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: Ellen TozziFamily General Goal Setting Organizing Productivity Time Management

CHOICE MANAGEMENT

Ellen Tozzi picAlthough we tend to hear a lot about the importance of time and task management, more often than not, there is a more effective approach, and that is in the way we manage our CHOICES. Choices are made daily and affect every aspect of our day. Some examples are:
-What to do next
-What to say
-What to eat

Many things dictate and influence our decisions such as our intuition, our subconscious, outside deadlines, ease of choice, and pain vs. pleasure just to name a few. How many decisions are made by default, rather than by design? Also, what criteria is best to use when making choices?

The easiest way to make healthy, wise choices is to have clear-set goals. Knowing what you want to accomplish or achieve, setting a time-frame to achieve said goals, and asking yourself if your choices are taking you closer to your goals or moving you farther away from them is a step in the right direction.

Although it is not ideal, letting external deadlines dictate our actions is certainly one way to manage time and tasks. We are forced to focus on that ONE task in order to meet the deadline, but when this happens, we are reactive and not proactive. While it helps to eliminate making choices, it adds unnecessary stress.

Instead, I have found that what works for me is if I ‘check in’ with myself throughout the day and ask if what I am doing is the most effective behavior to meet my goals. The goals might be to maintain good health, grow my business, be in touch with friends and family, give back to the community or create life balance. Sometimes, I catch myself making decisions that may not be the best choice, such as a glass of wine instead of a workout on the treadmill. I check in with myself and confirm that I do want to make good choices and make a mental note be more mindful. For instance, I can work out and then have a glass of wine!

I invite you to think about the choices you make and to compare them to your goals. Are they in alignment? If not, what choices can you make to make a change? Remember, all it takes is ‘baby steps’ to come closer to achieving your goals?