National Organize Your Home Office Day: My High Tech Me Project

Did you know?  The second Tuesday in March is National Organize Your Home Office Day.

I’m entertained by the fact that, thanks to technology, I started this blog seated at my favorite satellite office, the Corner Bakery near my home.  Not to be confused with my favorite Conference Room, the Beverly Bakery, also near my home and where I take my breakfast meetings.  The real irony is that I’m avoiding baked goods, but I really love these places!  And now, I’m home in my actual office.

These “home office” musings remind me that my “Home Office”, or in my case, just my “Office”, is anywhere that I am at that moment, thanks to technology.  There is a dark side of tech, though:

I’ve been struggling with the myriad methods of communication available, and how to manage them all well.  For example, last summer, a friend asked “Did you get my message?”, so I went back to check my:

  • recent texts;recent voice mails on my mobile phone;
  • recent voice mails on our home phone;
  • FB messages on my personal page, and
  • FB messages on my business page;
  • professional email;
  • personal email;
  • at the time, cub scout pack email (as I was still Cubmaster and she is a scouting friend);
  • twitter; and
  • actual snail mail, and my really big white mail box because she lives down the street, and could have left something for me.

Ridiculous.  Not the message or the friend (she is lovely), but the number of places I had to check for communications.  Ugh.

Fast forward: I spent the first 7 weeks of 2017 working on what I called my High Tech Me project. My plan was to make the moving parts of my office experience work better together.  To organize my “office” and clear communication clutter, I organized my tech.  After assessing my needs, I (just to list a few steps):

  • streamlined my IPad and IPhone apps, and set up my laptop so all the devices communicate with each other;
  • set up my devices to update automatically overnight, and installed yet another external hard drive;
  • purchased a few more chargers and surge protectors for the places we all use them the most (and my chargers are pink as the only female in the house, to easily identify who swiped my stuff);
  • fully embraced Gmail for my personal email – it’s easy and has an app!, and I left behind our old email provider that doesn’t have an app and regularly froze up or kicked me out;
  • wi-fi enabled my new IPad (woot woot);
  • adjust my privacy and notification settings on all my social media and email accounts, to better manage my information;
  • explored Evernote, and now use it more fully to organize my thoughts and notes;
  • unsubscribed from dozens of retailers and email mailing lists; and
  • re-established a relationship with Siri on my apple devices, and while we still don’t always see eye to eye, we’re making progress (and Siri is now an Australian male voice and I refer to him as Nigel.  Whatever works.).

On this National Organize Your Office Day, remember these important points:

  • Technology is amazing and overwhelming, but it is just a tool.   It’s here to make our lives better, so set yours up to improve your life and not detract from it (and if you don’t know how, ask my web guru Claire and she will say – When in Doubt, Google it Out!)
  • BACK IT UP.  To the cloud, to a hard drive, to your lap top.  Back up your information. And get a case for your phone.  Yes, you,
  • Keep current on your device udpates, all the time.
  • De-Clutter or streamline what you can. Unsubscribe, send all your emails to one address, get rid of your home phone (we’re working on this one!), mirror your devices so you only have to remember one set-up, etc.
  • Make maintenance a habit.  I have actually added a line item to my daily routine to remind me to check different communication methods until it becomes a habit.

 

“If I Don’t Write It Down, It Doesn’t Exist”

“If I don’t write it down, it doesn’t exist.”

After a conversation with a friend last week, “If I don’t write it down, it doesn’t exist.” was already the working title of this week’s article. Then, yesterday, a friend texted, and I quote, “seriously, If I don’t write it down, it’s gone!”

Maybe this statement resonates with you, too?

To be honest, I hesitated to write this article, worried that you might harshly judge your professional organizer who has to write things down to remember them.  But then I realized that to help us all get more organized, I needed to share the solution I have found to a common challenge!

“If I don’t write it down, it doesn’t exist.”

Our brains are always working.  My brain has a lot to do, and a lot of tasks to juggle.  Often my brain will supply a thought, idea or an answer to a question that I am not, at that moment, ready to process.

This happens all the time.  While I’m:

  • driving;
  • trying to fall asleep;
  • in the shower;
  • in Mass;
  • sitting at a soccer game;
  • working with a client, etc.
You get the picture.  Personal thoughts come while I’m working, and client/business thoughts come in the midst of personal time.  I want to capture those ideas for later, and then get back to what I was doing.
Appreciate your brain, and all it does for you.  And give it a little help.
Clear your Mental Clutter by getting those swirling thoughts out of your brain.
  1. Create the Habit of Writing Stuff Down (you can try voice recordings, too, if you prefer);
  2. Create the Habit of turning your notes in Actions;
  3. Act on the Ideas.  And then
  4. Give your brain another challenge to work on.
  • Write Stuff Down, as it comes.
    • Capture the idea.
    • I have a large Post-It pad in the car (orange), and a similar one next to me right now (pink).   The different colors help me to put them back in their proper homes, should they wander.
    • I also have a dry erase marker in the bathroom, for jotting notes down on the mirror; and
    • I even have a waterproof note pad and pencil in the shower (www.myaquanotes.com)  
    • What I use most to collect my thoughts is Evernote on my laptop, IPhone and IPad.
  • Make A Habit of Collecting / Compiling
    • Regularly (daily?), compile the little notes into an Action list.
    • Once a day, I collect all the little notes and put them into my master lists on Evernote.  Tasks, blog ideas, personal and professional development ideas, grocery lists, etc..
    • This keeps them from piling up or getting lost, and reminds me of the urgent issues I need to address.
  • Turn Your Ideas Into Actions.
    • Make your notes and ideas actionable, so you don’t just have a jumbled pile of papers in front of you to compete with the jumbled ideas in your brain.
    • My large orange Post-It note from a car trip yesterday (I jotted it all down while parked in a parking lot, very safe I promise) included:
      • Explore Bullet Journaling idea for workshop;
      • Send A theatre ticket info;
      • Send D Cub Scout info;
      • Send T the recipes;
      • Return client calls on Tuesday; and
      • remember to carry promotional materials to all your presentations.
    • So, last night, I made sure to add these ideas to my Project List and Daily Task Lists, and
      recycled the note.
  • Ask for reminders in the form that works for you.
    • If you prefer auditory reminders, ask folks to call you and leave you a voice mail.
    • I prefer written reminders.  For example, when my son asks me to buy something at the grocery, I refer him to the grocery list.  He can say the words to me, but if it’s not written down, I may not remember 4 days from now when I actually go to the grocery.
      • This is also the reason I prefer emails and texting to phone calls – I can refer back to the message, for details or contact info, etc.  I don’t remember entire conversations for more than a couple of days.

This week, give your brain a break and boost your productivity by creating the Write Stuff Down Habit!

 

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You’re Smart. And Smart People Make SMART Goals

Make goals ACHIEVABLE.
  • Make sure that the goal you set out to achieve is actually do able.  I can change the world, it’s true.  However… I probably can’t grow a foot taller, join a professional sports team or run a marathon in the next week.
  • Remember, too, that achievement requires action.  We can’t just sit there and expect things to happen.  Goals go nowhere without action.  Create an action plan to achieve your goals.
  • Let’s take a moment here to remember:  we can only make goals for ourselves; and we cannot force goals on others. Our goals may be in conjunction with another person’s goal, like a business plan with a business partner, or a healthy living plan for the whole family.
  • Break down your goals to make them achievable.  Big goals are a  series of small goals, or, broken down even further, a series of tasks or steps.  Set a big goal, then break it into bite-size actionable steps.
  • Make your goals achievable, but also use them to stretch you as a person! Don’t make your goals too small!

Make goals TIMELY.

  • Set a time frame for your goals.  A SMART Goal needs to be timely, time specific.  “I will achieve xyz goal by March 1st” or “next Tuesday.”
  • Every goal needs a deadline, or else its just a wish.  Set a deadline, and then make mid-goal benchmarks to check your progress.  Make the goal time-frame long enough but not too long!

National Clean Off Your Desk Day: Whadda YOU looking at?

No, really, what do you see?

This time every year, we have a chance to review, refresh and de-clutter our work space with National Clean Off Your Desk Day, celebrated annually on the second Monday in January.

I’ve published many articles about organizing your work surface, but today I suggest you lift your eyes, and organize your visual work space (your view).

Look up from your desk for this one.  What do you see? Look straight ahead, side to side. Order or chaos?  Positive messages or nagging responsibilities?  Simple beautiful things, or old and outdated things?  We are all influenced by our visual fields, but we can also become overwhelmed with visual clutter.

Let’s make it better!  Think about this statement:  “I want to see that which I want to attract.” For me, I want to look at a view that is simple, streamlined, functional and beautiful!

Spend some time cleaning off your desk space today (yes, you still need to do that!), and then Look Up! and apply the same steps (from Julie Morgenstern’s SPACE Method) to taking care of your view!

 

SORT your stuff into categories:
Clear the stuff off that message board or wall in front of you.   Yes, all of it.

Then, sort the stuff into categories, for example:  Photos, memos, messages, task reminders (bills on paperclips to send in or pay, post it notes with “call Bob”, or “order baby shower gift”), decor / tchotchke / kitsch, things to go elsewhere or to other people, etc.


PURGE:

Ok, friends. Time to get real.  Let’s go back to the statement “I want to see that which I want to attract.” Keep only the items that encourage, nourish and support your work.  Put away the rest, or purge it completely.

If you are not ready to part with all the stuff, consider a seasonal visual work space / view: swapping out your photos or inspirational messages every week / month or season.

(I like my Chrome extension Momentum: every day I’m provided a new beautiful photo, an inspirational quote and a space to jot down my intention for the day.  Then I see it whenever I sit down to work at my computer.)

A few words about… Post-It Notes.  I have a love/hate relationship with Post-It Notes. Post-Its are meant to be momentary reminders.  However, when we use Post-Its a lot, we start to look past them.  When I ask clients about the notes all over their work space, I’ll hear “Oh, they’ve been there so long, I don’t even see them anymore.”  Then WHY ARE THEY THERE?

So, jot a note on a Post-It Note, and then do something with it.  An event reminder?  Put it in your calendar.  A phone number?  Enter it into your contacts.  A task reminder or creative idea?  Add the task to your to do list, or the idea to your idea file.  AND THEN TOSS THE NOTE!!

 

ASSIGN A HOME, CONTAINERIZE and EQUALIZE:

When assigning a home and containerizing the stuff in our field of vision, consider keeping only those things that are useful and beautiful.  Keep pictures that make you smile (only a few), inspirational messages (only a few), and a handful of little items that evoke positive memories or creativity.  Add a plant, if you’d like!

Consider boundaries – limit your visual clutter to a small space in your line of sight or just one shelf or tray for kitschy items.

We want a nice view, but not too nice!  Have nice things to look at, but not so nice that they pull your focus from your work.  I love my vision board (thanks, MTO!), but if I look at it all the time, I take it for granted.  It’s more inspiring for me to intentionally look at it, and then set is aside and move on to my tasks.

Now, set a reminder to do this again every few months, to keep your View looking good!

OK, daylight’s wasting! Get on with cleaning off that Desk!

You Can Change the World in 17 Minutes (or less)

Big progress and big changes can be made in little pieces.

Too often, we believe that great progress towards a goal can only be made with a great investment of time and effort.   We get stuck in perfectionist thinking, believing that we can only make progress or work on a project if we have a bunch of uninterrupted hours all together (that doesn’t sound like my typical day or week, how about you?).

However, maintenance and progress towards goals really can happen in bits and pieces of time, in 5 or 10 or 15 minute increments, fit in around all the other tasks and responsibilities we take care of  on a regular basis.

For example, consider the 7th game of the 2016 World Series.  

I would love to know what was said to the Chicago Cubs team during the 17 minute rain delay in the 7th game of the World Series back in November.

If you were watching the game that night (as myself, my family and most of the cities of Chicago and Cleveland plus millions of others were), you may remember the rain delay.  

It was a late night with an extra inning, so when the rain delay was called, I decided to go to bed.  In those 17 minutes, I plugged in my phone to charge, brushed my teeth, put on my PJs and hit the pillow.

As I drifted off, I heard my husband and sons start to chat again and I figured (correctly) that the delay was over  and the game had resumed.  So Of Course I got up and watched the fantastic end.

17 minutes.  The team all said how important and pivotal the talk in the weight room was, how simple and moving words made the difference.

17 Minutes.

And here we are, in 2017.  Let’s appreciate that symmetry.  As we begin 2017, what can we learn from the 17 minute rain delay?

Do not underestimate the power and potential and progress that can be found in small bits of time.  5, 10, 15 minutes?  17 Minutes?  I’m just sayin’!

So, what can we do in 17 minutes (or less) that can help us have a better, healthier, kinder, more productive, more organized 2017?

  • Take our vitamins; 
  • Take a power nap; 
  • Take a shower; 
  • Make our bed; 
  • Run an errand; 
  • Text or call a friend when we think of them; 
  • Pay a bill, either in person or on-line; 
  • Pray; 
  • Respond to an email ( I just booked a presentation for April.  2 minutes.  done!); 
  • Delete a bunch of emails; 
  • Unsubscribe from a catalog or retailer; 
  • Steep a cup of tea; 
  • Clean out the fridge; or 
  • Fold a couple loads of laundry, and put it all away.

And per my awesome friends and readers:

  • Reorganize our purse or bag (receipts; discard or file, update or toss notes/ lists, change, bills in place;
  • Clean that pile of mail off the printer;
  • Clean out junk mail (both physical and email), as well as
  • Empty the recycling bin (virtual and physical);
  • Throw out the garbage in the car (No, C., no judgement here!);
  • 10 minute pick ups in each room;
  • Take 5 min when you use the bathroom to wipe it all down;
  • 10 min quick clean up of my desk;
  • Gather dishes(coffee cups!) from various reading spots and put in dishwasher;
  • Empty and reload dishwasher, makes a huge difference;
  • Go through the house, gather shoes, put in correct bedrooms;
  • Do a once thru the house to pick up items and put them where they BELONG; and
  • Stash a bag on every floor for donations, add to the bag as you come across things to purge!

Imagine with me, friends.  If we were open to taking little steps instead of waiting to take great strides to our goals.  We could feel the rush of accomplishment in a steady glow, stay motivated, makes changes mid-stride. Let’s think about 2017, and all the great progress we can make in 17 minute-or-less pieces!

Here’s to a great 2017!

To:

Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
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Right Now, What’s The Right Thing To Do? (a.k.a. Don’t aggravate your loved ones)

Last week in my newsletter, I stated:a755a998abbfc3e4597f01a9ba15e829

“Let me recommend – focus on the most used areas of your home.  For a Thanksgiving event, those areas would be:

  • the entryway / coat closet; 
  • kitchen; 
  • dining room; 
  • family rooms; and 
  • guest bathrooms. 

“Now is NOT the time to pull out everything from the attic, garage, or basement storage room.  Restore order and touch up those public spaces this week, and leave the other projects until after Thanksgiving!”

 

Apparently, this statement resonated with a number of my readers, thanks for your comments.  One readers specifically asked if I had grown up in her home, as her dad would take the day off before Thanksgiving every year to “help”, and would instead start a huge and messy project , driving her mother crazy.

Every.

Year.

We all want to help, we all want to act.  But we all need Priorities, Focus, Big-Picture planning and we don’t always have it!

My to-do list is long.  I may never complete it,  since I add more tasks all the time.  But since I always have tasks and to-dos to complete, I have to decide   “RIGHT NOW, What’s The Right Thing To Do?”

I think this happens to us all, to some extent.  We have so many tasks and to-dos and ideas that we want to act upon, we could ACT all day but still not get to our important work.

So here’s how to figure out What’s The Right Thing to Do Right Now.

Write Things Down!  Write down, either on paper or digitally, ideas and tasks and to-dos.  Don’t edit them, just write them down.  Your busy brain will thank you.

Not All Actions Are Created Equal.  It’s often difficult to know what the next step is.  Sometimes we feel like we should be doing SOMETHING, but we don’t want to think through the process, so we just dive into a project or task and end up making a bigger mess.  THINK first, and Act Well.

Often, it’s the simplest thing.  We tend to over-think things.  Sometimes the best thing to do is to shower, put some clothes on, get a drink of water, make a phone call, make dinner, leave the house, send the email.

Pick Today’s List.  Look at the to-do list, and choose.  Last week, a client asked if we could come up with a plan for our 3 hours together and talk through the planning process.  So, on her dry erase board, we:

  • wrote down all the tasks that were on her mind to complete that day;
  • asked how long each task typically takes, and how long to allot for it (finish tagging files – 20 minutes; file receipts – 30 minutes; hang art in home office – 45 minutes, etc.);
  • determined if any of them were attached to a specific time (like a 3 o’clock conference call, or starting the crock pot to warm dinner 2 hours before dinner time);
  • and finally, ordered the list by attaching a number to each item (#1, #2, #3, etc., and moved a few things to the next day’s list).
  • This was an interesting exercise.  We ended up adding other tasks in, and we ran over a few time estimates, but we certainly learned a lot about the process and the client.


Group Similar Tasks.  
A class participant explained how her home seemed to be full of distractions and asked me how to keep focus.  We talked about a couple of strategies, and she chose “set aside a half an hour for house tasks, then a half an hour for paying bills, a half an hour for cooking and cleaning up the kitchen” etc., instead of hopping from task to task without ever feeling like she had completed a project.


What tasks on your list only need elapsed time?
 Start the laundry, start the crock pot, send out the emails and ask for responses by a certain day this week.  And then ignore the results until the next time you need to check in.


Ask.  Communicate with the folks around you, whether at home or at work.  
You may feel some tasks and your part of the overall plan are high priority, but some one else may see other tasks and other parts as higher priority.  You both may be correct, but communication will help everyone get the right things done.


Make an “After Thanksgiving” or “January” list now.
 Looking at all the tasks and to-dos on the Master list, determine which ones can wait.   Today, I was reminded that I need to make an annual doctor appointment for February or March, but I waiting until January to make that call. I wrote it down, so I won’t forget, and will worry about it later.
Manage your time and yourself better by asking often “Right Now, What’s The Right Thing To Do?”.
To:

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Tech and Back To School: Update your Home, Habits and Devices

c89201_usb_phone_pakGetting your Tech and Home organized for family productivity is a great idea any time,  but especially for Back To School! Read on for 11 tips for getting your Tech and Home in order!

Update Your Home for Tech.

  • Centralize your office supplies and printers.  Have you noticed?  As our capacity to work anywhere in the house has expanded, so has the spread of office supplies and clutter. Establish one printer space and a wireless network for printing.  Then, collect all the supplies stashed all over the house, and create office supply (pens, papers, post-its, etc.) storage near the printer.  This will: save time searching for items; save money when we can find what we need and don’t have to buy more (I found lots of new items that we can use for back-to-school); and cut stress when we don’t have cabinets in every room dedicated to half-used notebooks or derelict writing supplies.
  • Work Stations Are Good. Consider your favorite library or coffee house – flat work space, no storage.  Have specific spots available for family members to work – home office, kitchen counter, traditional desks –  and let folks be flexible and share the spaces.  At these specific spots, make sure there is good lighting, access to an outlet, a comfortable chair (or make it a standing work station, also awesome!).   Keeping specific work stations makes it easier to find that rogue charging cord or book left behind.51L838PvfDL._AC_US200_
  • Desks are Bad.  Have you also noticed? New desks have changed a lot.  New desks (more likely to be called a Work Station) don’t offer drawers these day, and that’s a good thing (see the centralized supplies idea above!).  Traditional desks with multiple drawers full of paper and supplies and clutter are just waiting to drive us crazy!
  • Establish a Charging Station.  Find a convenient-to-everyone counter or shelf, NOT on your surge protector with usbkitchen counter where you need to make dinner; add storage for cords not being used; and a surge protector (new ones include USB ports).  We mounted ours on the wall, to cut down on counter clutter.  And here’s an idea – if your cords “wander off” sometimes, like mine, label the chargers and cords with a sharpie or label maker, or choose a color per person (once I started buying pink earphones and cords, they stopped disappearing.  Go figure!).

 

 

Update your Habits.

  • Pick Your Battles.  In recent history, I have advocated for keeping tech and charging out of bedrooms.  The light of technology devices disrupts our sleep signals, texting and notifications can occur 24/7, and even the fields generated by electronics can disrupt sleep in some sensitive folks.
         However, slowly the chargers have moved into the bedrooms, which aggravates me, but my 16 and 18 year old offer solid arguments, and need to learn to manage themselves.  I am reminded often that the world they are growing up in looks a lot different than the one I grew up in.  So, I have stopped pushing so hard on that, though I still encourage screen-free time and getting enough sleep.
  • Using your cool new charging station, make charging your devices a habit, part of your routine.  We have extra charging cords stashed in the car and at work, just in case!
  • Use On-Line Portals for School. Most schools have on-line parent / student portals these days, and some teachers have websites for their classrooms, where students can access homework and educational resources.  Make checking on things part of your habits (for example, I have a item on my daily to-do list to remind me to check the on-line announcement page for the high school).
  • Passwords and Log-Ins. Keep a page for each child’s passwords and login info for their student portals and on-line resources (these often go missing in our house!).

 

Update your Devices.

  • Buy the warranty.  Since our tech devices go with us everywhere, chances increase that something bad may happen to them.
  • Stay up to date!  Automate your device or computer udpates, or add “check updates” etc. to your weekly routine.41DGbXhN5zL._AC_US160_
  • Keep the college laptop safe.  (Love these, thanks MJS!) College students should invest in and use a lock to tether a laptop to a desk at the library or in a dorm room.  Also, buy an extra long charging cord in case your student is on the top bunk.
Save yourself hassle later, and invest time a little time and energy this week getting your home, tech stuff and tech habits ready for Back-To-School.
To:

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Small Business Week: How to NOT Overbook Your Calendar

Recently, a friend/client/networking partner had to cancel a morning meeting because she had overbooked her Tuesday.

Another client had to reschedule a document drop-off with me because he “ran out of day today.”

No judgement here.  Been there, done that.

In her text message to me, the overbooked friend/client/networking partner asked me to write a blog about how to not overbook our schedules!  So, friend, in honor of National Small Business Week, here it is!

When do you work?  Where?  How?   Workdays and work places have changed, due to worker and industry preferences.  A “typical” workday is anything but typical, more than half the workforce works for themselves or small businesses, and many of us work from home (or Starbucks, or someone else’s home, etc).

As the lines of work and home blur, it’s difficult to keep all our commitments straight!  So, to help get the most out of your schedule, without resorting to teleportation or cloning, here are a few ideas:

  • Check your schedule regularly, with an eye out for potential snags or trouble spots. Don’t wait until tomorrow to plan for tomorrow. or until next week to plan for next week.
  • Schedule recurring events.  Actually put them in your calendar / planner / etc.  Yes, you will probably remember.  But then again, you may not.  Just write them down.
  • Better yet, Just write everything down (or make a note in Outlook or Google Calendar, or your planner, or however you track such things).  I can’t be trusted to remember things unless I write them down.
  • Determine realistic time estimates for your regular tasks.  Have you noticed?  We tend to underestimate how long our favorite tasks take, and overestimate how long dreaded tasks take.  We assume the easy stuff will go quickly, but get snagged or run late when something goes wrong.
  • Factor in commuting time between meetings where applicable,  and multitask your travel time.  I’ve been leaving a more generous time cushion between client appointments, to accommodate conversations that go a little long, traffic troubles, or a quiet moment to eat my lunch on the way to the next appointment.
  • Keep your calendar and contact information up to date and with you at all times, so if you do find yourself overbooked or running late, you can do the polite and professional thing and call ahead.
  • Do not feel you have to explain yourself.   No one needs to know that you need to leave a meeting on-time to get to a 6th grade soccer game.
  • If you do double book yourself or if life gets in the way, just OWN UP, APOLOGIZE and reschedule.  Make that call with solutions in mind, as in “I’m very sorry, something unexpected came up and I’m going to be late to our 1 o’clock meeting.  Would you like to push it to 2 pm, or reschedule for a different day?”
  • Meetings.  Ah, meetings.  Meetings, by definition, involve other people.  And talking, and planning and note taking and assigning tasks.
    • Don’t be ‘that guy’ or ‘that woman’.  You know, that one with the late, rushed and loud arrival. Be early, be prepared, and be quiet until there is something to say.
    • Don’t like making pre-meeting small talk?  Smile politely, then make a show of reviewing your notes, or making new notes (even if it’s your packing list for vacation, or an email for later).
    • After the fact:
      • Set an alarm to keep from getting chatty.
      • Factor in processing time for your notes and action steps from the meeting, before heading to your next activity.

As you move through your week this week, keep your schedule in mind, and try a tip or two to make that next workday or meeting go more smoothly!

How Are You?  No, Really. How Are You?

Getting and staying organized requires focus, motivation, a plan, energy and probably a few more things, if I think about it.

It requires Action. Vision.

And sometimes a healthy meal and comfy shoes!

Getting organized can be a challenge for some people, but its really challenging if you are already feeling off, or at a disadvantage.

Good Self-Awareness and Self-Management are powerful tools in life. They help us be our best self and do our best work.

Know any toddlers? I’ve known a few. And I know some adults who may occasionally think or act like a toddler, myself included. Toddlers lose their cool sometimes. We all do. But toddlers, and the rest of us, are more likely to melt down if they are overwhelmed, hungry, tired, thirsty, bored, in need of a washroom, cold, uncomfortable or just plain sad (to name a few).

In my Organizing Coaching classes, we learn about self-management. To be fully present and focused on my client and our organizing coaching sessions, I have to make sure that I am ready before we begin. I manage my physical needs, and also mentally prepare. I can’t help others until I’ve helped me.

So, if

  • your focus has dimmed;
  • your motivation has lagged;
  • your planning failed; or
  • your energy has run out;
  • it may be time to ask yourself some questions.

Is it time to eat something? Something healthy?

Is it time for a cold or hot drink?

Do I just need to step away from this project for a moment and take a walk around the block to get some clean breaths?

Am I bored? Could I use some music or a partner to help this project go more smoothly?

How do I feel in this space?

Is this space too cold? Hot? Drafty? Smelly? Too dark? Too bright?

Is this project difficult? Am I uncomfortable because I am being called upon to do difficult work?

Am I upset now because of something bad that happened earlier or yesterday or last week?

The answers to any of these questions can give us an idea of why we’re feeling out of sorts, and also the ways to rectify the situation.

A friend and client shared a powerful tool she learned in Recovery, HALT. When we feel like our resolve or focus or calm are slipping, we can ask our self if we are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired? Addressing these challenges first can help us continue to make good and positive choices.

When we’re working through our organizing projects, or our work day or just life in general, we can’t always fix every discomfort we have. But increasing our self-awareness and improving our self management helps us put names to our challenges. And then we can begin to make them better.

Tax Season Has Ended – Whew! 5 Lessons We Learned.

I truly believe we can learn from every experience, if we’re paying attention.  Every day, every moment, every experience.

Along that line of thinking, I just wrapped up a call with a good friend / network partner, and the last thing we did was Review and Recap what we had discussed and what our next steps were.

So, let’s Review and Recap what we have learned from this tax season, just ended, and what we can do to make next season more organized and less stressful!

 

  • I could have started preparing  a lot earlier. “  Start early.  There is really no reason not to.

ACTION STEP: Take a few simple steps now to make next April go much smoother!

 

  • “I keep too much paper!”  Everyone does, it’s true.

ACTION STEP:  Call me!  Or, read my other blogs on paper management and change the way you save paper.

 

  • “This process would go a lot smoother if I made a file folder at the beginning of the year called ‘Tax Documents: Current Year’, and added to it through the year as pertinent documents came in.

ACTION STEP: Make the folder, title it “Tax Documents: Current Year”, and USE it!

 

  • “I should adjust my withholding, then I wouldn’t owe so much next April.”  And if you’re self-employed, like me, perhaps you said (as I did), “Perhaps it’s time to start sending in quarterly tax payments, instead of one lump sum.”   Yes, you should.

ACTION POINT: Talk to your HR department, or if you are self-employed or own your business, discuss your options with your CPA.  April 14th of next year is too late to make positive changes for this year.

 

  • “Wow, A lot of people must procrastinate about their taxes.  My usual accountant barely had time to speak to me last week and those other places were a zoo. I could do my taxes myself, but not if I wait until the last minute.”   Yes, all true.  Lots of people procrastinate. Don’t be most people.  Refer to the other learning points above, and …

ACTION POINT:  Book your appointment for next February NOW!

So, take a few actions this week to make your 2016 more organized, and your tax season next year go more smoothly!