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!

What Was That?  Three Types of Paper, You Say?

The Second Tuesday of March is National Organize Your Home Office Day.

Over the past 13 years, I’ve learned a lot from my clients and experiences in home offices.  Why are Home Offices a Challenge?

  • Home offices are still evolving, as more workers move out of brick-and-mortar offices.
  • With a blend of both home and office, there is just more paper to deal with, plus the boundaries between professional and personal papers blur.
  • Industries often provide Document Retention Policies, with clear instructions about what papers to keep, and how to confidentially get rid of documents when they are no longer needed (consider medical records in a hospital).  However, personal papers do NOT come with document retention policies, and we have to create them.

Most of the papers we have in our homes and offices fall into three categories:

  • Active;
  • Passive; and
  • Archival.

Your home office undoubtedly contains all three types, and each type requires different handling and storage.   Here ‘s what you need to know about each type:

ACTIVE PAPER

Active Papers are defined as papers that require some action to be taken.  Examples of Active Papers are: a bill to pay, a greeting card to send, a form to complete and send back to school.  The actions required might be a bit more complex, too, for example: a sports schedule to be entered into your calendar; a business card from a new contact that needs to be entered into your contacts and also an email sent; a reminder to call someone or make an appointment.

The most important thing to know about Active Papers is to ACT ON THEM, and then move them on.  So, pay the bill, send the card, complete the form, enter the info, make the call, send the email.  And them move the papers along, either into Passive storage, Archival storage, or the shredder or recycling bin.

PASSIVE PAPER

Passive Papers are Active Papers whose actions are complete.  Now, they require no further action except for retention for a predetermined amount of time (for reference or just in case), and then safe and confidential disposal.  For example, you may decide to keep one full year of receipts, paid bills, statements and the like until you file your taxes for last year.  Some people may feel more comfortable keeping 2 full years, and that’s OK, too.

The important thing to remember about Passive Papers is the “keep for an amount of time and then dispose of them” part of their definition.  Often my clients and I unearth grocery receipts from 4 years ago, maintenance records for cars they no longer own, or the electric bill from 7 years ago.  None of these papers have any bearing on our life today, and are just cluttering up our office and files.

Set up your Passive Paper files to store each month’s info together (no more micromanaging your filing), decide how long – 1 year or 2 years – to keep your Passive Papers, then put an annual date on the calendar with your shredder for old Passive Paper destruction.

ARCHIVAL PAPER

Archival Papers are the papers you will need in 5, 10, 20 or more years.  Archival Papers may include, but are not limited to: mortgage papers, car titles, certificates (birth, marriage, sacramental), passports and original social security cards, etc.

There are two tricks to handling Archival Papers.  The first is to be able to identify what is TRULY archival.  A couple questions to ask yourself:  Who else needs to know this info? Will it have bearing on my life or decisions in a year or 10 or 20?  Will someone ask me for this information some day?  How important was the transaction attached to this information?

Very few papers actually make it to Archival status, so you don’t need to dedicate too much space to them.  But the other important tip you need is to keep your Archival Papers SAFE. Invest in a portable fireproof safe, or a safety deposit box at the bank.

Invest a little time to day and this week to restore order in your home office.  Consider the various piles of paper in your space, determine what type of papers  you have, and plan your work and storage accordingly.

Clean Up Your Tech for National Clean Off Your Desk Day!

my portable office

my portable office

The Second Monday in January is National Clean Off Your Desk Day! If you look around, though, you may notice that desks and work spaces look vastly different than they did a few years ago!

My “desk” or “work space” is often just my smart phone, as I work through my days out with clients and at meetings.

Even in my actual office, I move between my laptop, IPad and smart phone as I work and connect with clients, or friends and family.  Here are 6 ways to organize your new and evolved “office”!

  1. Keep your tech items (laptop, tablets, smart / mobile phones) charged. Tech items are only good if they actually work.  Last year, my old IPhone battery slowly stopped holding a charge.  It became nerve-wracking, knowing I could run out of battery life at any moment.  Once I got my new phone, I realized how much I had stressed over the lack of battery life!  Save yourself some mental energy, and: make a habit of charging your stuff; keep extra chargers and cords in obvious places (like your desk at work, or in your car); and if a dying battery is a real concern of yours, invest in an external battery charger / power bank.
  2. Keep your tech items updated. Updates matter, and exist (in theory) to keep our tech items running smoothly.  Last Fall, I set my IPad and IPhone to automatically update, instead of trying to remember to update as needed (which I always forgot to do).  Again, one less worry.
  3. Keep your data up to date.  Create a habit of adding phone numbers and contact info into your phone as soon as it comes in.  Any time I receive a call or text from a new phone numbers, I add the contact to my list.  My habit is to not answer any calls from unknown numbers, too, so adding contact info helps me effectively decide what calls to answer and which to skip.  In addition, I connect my IPhone to my laptop multiple times a day to keep all the data current. I’m sure there is an automatic way of doing this, too, so I’ll need to research that!
  4. Clear your email clutter. This time of year, I have “Unsubscribe x 5” at the top of every day’s to-do list.  As I log into my personal or business emails, I un-subscribe from 5 unwanted ad emails, instead of just deleting them.  I am already noticing cleaner in-boxes!
  5. Clear your device / smart phone screen clutter. Clear screen clutter by keeping your most used apps on your first screen, deleting unused apps, and making folders for similar apps (like “travel” or “games”).
  6. Clean Your Tech, like actually clean, today!  Wipe down your cases, screens, keyboards, ear buds, etc.  Because, well – ewwww!

So how will you Clean Off Your Virtual Desk today?  Get to it, and good for you!

Productivity Challenge: Time Management!

This week’s Productivity Challenge is Time Management!
My associate writes:
“As a small business owner, we wear so many hats and have to stay on top of so many tasks.  
  • There are daily tasks, weekly tasks, monthly tasks; 
  • There are “big picture” issues to address – new product lines, new marketing ideas, personnel issues, all of the “where is our company headed?” type-stuff ; 
  • There are “small task” issues – placing orders with vendors, scheduling service calls, handling customer service issues, and even just answering the phone; and then of course
  • There are the “fires” that occasionally pop up that require me to drop everything and handle immediately. There is only so much time, and we work with a skeleton crew – so how can I better organize to stay on top of it all?”
As a fellow business owner, I can totally relate to all of these!  So, let’s tackle them one by one!
Managing the “daily tasks, weekly tasks, monthly tasks”.  With these recurring tasks:
  • Keep a Master To-Do List – a running list of everything that needs to get done.  I maintain my To-Do list in Evernote (a cloud storage notebook), so that I can access it from all of my devices.  I can even share my To-Do list (and other Evernote documents) with others, if I have info to share with staff or co-workers.  I have clients who use MS Outlook for the same purpose.   When I finish a recurring task for today on my Evernote list, I cut it and pasted it to the next day, week or month or whenever it is set to recur (For example, daily habits, weekly errands, and monthly billing and client care).
  • Actually block out time on your daily, weekly and monthly schedule for these tasks.  Make an appointment on your calendar, so other things don’t squeeze out these important tasks!  A client mentioned that her bill-paying was slipping and she was starting to incur late fees because she hadn’t blocked the time to manage her daily and weekly bookkeeping.
  • Attach paper / ideas / tasks to your time blocks, too.  For example, my Friday afternoons are blocked for bookkeeping tasks.  As bills come in, or tasks come up that are related to bookkeeping, I add them to Friday’s to-do list and tuck any paper bills in my Friday folder.

There are “big picture” issues to address – new product lines, new marketing ideas, personnel issues, all of the “where is our company headed?” type-stuff .

  • Big picture Issues:  We need to block time to make these big-picture discussions happen, too. They may not need to happen every day, but they are still important.  Have weekly check-ins with everyone involved, in person / Face time or via email, to touch base.  And once in a while (monthly, quarterly, etc.) Think BIG THOUGHTS!!! Set time aside, invite all the players / decision makers, go off-campus, set a time limit, and dive in!

There are “small task” issues – placing orders with vendors, scheduling service calls, handling customer service issues, and even just answering the phone.

  • There are no small tasks.  These “small tasks” are Our Work, whether they happen daily, weekly or monthly.  Communicating with our vendors and our customers – This Is Our Work! Even when these tasks seem small, they are really the most important tasks we can complete.
  • However…. we can still manage the flow of our work, to get more of Our Work done!
    • Phone calls can go to voicemail, or we can keep our calls polite but brief.
    • Emails rarely require an instantaneous response.
    • Do Not Reinvent the Wheel!  Figure out the best way to do something, and do it that way every time.  Those are your Standard Operating Procedures, and they create a uniformly excellent experience.  Start by creating standard email responses to frequently asked questions, and build from there.

And then of course there are the “fires” that occasionally pop up that require me to drop everything and handle that immediately.

  • Communication:  I received an email last week from my graphic designer: “I should be done putting out fires by XXX o’clock, I’ll call you then”.    Great way to handle it!
  • Flexibility is critical to time management success.  Having a Master To Do list means if we can’t get to something today, we can move it to the top of tomorrow’s To Do list.  Using Time Blocks are great, but we can block time later in the week just as easily as this afternoon.
  • Let me let you in an insider tip:  If you handle recurring tasks when they recur, manage the Big Picture and Small Tasks regularly – you will:  A. Have fewer fires to put out; and B. Be more prepared and able to quickly manage and put out the fires that to arise.

So, look at your task list today and this week, and consider how to manage your time and tasks to get your important work done!

Productivity Series: What to Do With All the Receipts?

Last week, I started this Productivity Series with solutions for the desk dumping ground! A related question was “What to Do With Receipts? specifically receipts for filing business taxes?” I understand the connection  – I’ve seen dozens of desk cluttered with receipts!
Think about this.  Generally, we need to keep receipts for three reasons:
1. for the information contained on the receipt;
2. as a reminder of a next action to take; and
3. as a physical record of an action, in case you need to prove how money was spent.
Next, think about basic accounting. Money spent moves out of “Cash” and into a different category.  For example, buying a printer at Office Max / Depot moves money from my checking account into my office supplies / assets.
Reason #1: Manage the information contained on the receipt.  How much, to whom, for what?  And make it meaningful.
For example, my business recently spent $$ on:
  • a new printer and toner, a lamp and pens
  • advertising in the form of a charitable donation  / sponsorship
  • gas
  • day-care expenses
  • lunch at Panera
  • annual dues for my professional organization
  • UPS for shipping, on behalf of a client
Each expense I mentioned above would be listed under different Expense categories in my Quicken software.  Office supplies, advertising, Dues and Subscriptions, Meals and Entertainment, Automotive, etc.  These categories are pre-set in Quickbooks and Quicken, and you can also create new ones specific to your business. (I’m not recommending one type of software over another, just reporting on what I know).
Since my friend’s question was about Managing Receipts for Tax Time, I strongly recommend discussing category questions with your Accountant as you set up your system, to make tax time easier. 
Manage your bookkeeping regularly (and if you need help with this, I can suggest a few great people!).  My business books are simple.  I track my expenses and sales daily on a spreadsheet, entering it all into Quicken once a month with my bank statement reconciliation.  My next step is to streamline that process, and enter the daily info directly into Quicken.   Some businesses will need to do this daily, some can stretch to weekly or monthly.   Regardless of how often, We HAVE TO DO IT!
Once the categories are created, and your information for the year is entered, preparing for tax time is a matter of running your reports, and handing the reports and receipts over to your accountant
Reason # 2: Take The Action Required:
For example, in my list above, the actions are to input the information into Quicken, and then with the UPS expense, I need to collect payment from my client, for services rendered and also for the UPS expense.  When I manage my bookkeeping, I need to make sure the two items are entered separately – one for sales, and one for reimbursement.
Manage your bookkeeping, send the invoice, submit the expense report, etc.    JUST ACT!!!
After you record the information, and take the actions required, storing the physical records is easy.
 
Reason #3: Keep your receipts in a monthly folder.   This makes it easier to reconcile your monthly bank statement, and in the rare instance that you actually need to produce the receipt as proof of an expense, monthly files will make your items easy enough to find, without wasting too much time on filing.  Don’t bother with specific vendor files, chronological files should be detailed enough, since you’ve already recorded the information.
Wrap up your receipts with your tax returns, and store them for 4-7 years.  Random receipts for printer toner from 3 years ago should not be floating around your office!!
Imagine how clean your desk will be, with all the Receipts managed and easily filed away!`

Big Changes, Small Blog Article!

Hello!  I am posting this article on my streamlined blog page, which is now integrated into my snazzy newly re-designed website (woo hoo!)!  I am very excited about these big changes that will enable me to help even more great people like yourself!

This evening, as my friend and amazing web-design / social media guru Claire DiCola with Amplify 7 was guiding me through all the changes, big and small, I mentioned that I still needed to write my blog article for this week and post my newsletter tomorrow morning.  She immediately said “Big Changes, Small Blog Article!”.  So thanks, Claire, for your amazing help and ideas, and the title to this week’s article!

Sooo…. with big changes come great opportunities!  Please

  • Check out my new website, www.PeaceofMindPO.com (and if my new page doesn’t come up, clear your browsing history);
  • Email or message me if you have suggestions for additional content or ideas;
  • Click any of the sign-up links, and connect with me via Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, through my blog or newsletter;
  • Share my website with anyone who could benefit from a more organized life (which is Everyone!);
  • Share a testimonial, and I will post it to my website;
  • Keep an eye on your in-box for my August Back-to-School Series of Articles, coming to a website and blog and newsletter near you;
  • As always, share your organizational questions with me, and you may see the answer in an upcoming blog; and finally…..
  • Be patient with me, as I embrace these new platforms!

Talk to you next Tuesday!!

The Subtle Difference Between Efficient and Effective

I taught a Time Management Workshop last week.  I asked the participants “Why do you think your company chose Time Management as your professional development topic for today?”  A gentleman answered “So that my coworkers and I could be more efficient with our time”.

This was a very good answer.  I responded, “‘Efficient’ is great, and I’m sure your company indeed wants you to be efficient, because of course, who wouldn’t?”   But I went on to explain that “Effective” would be an even better way to manage our time.

Those two words, Efficient and Effective, sound very similar, and may even be used interchangeably in regular conversation, but I learned long ago in a senior management seminar that they have different meanings.  I explained:

  • “Efficient” is used to describe the least use of our resources.  If we do a job efficiently, we will spend the least amount of time, money, resources, man power to get the desired result.  That indeed may be what a company is looking for.
  • “Effective”, my preferred choice, describes the BEST use of resources.  We might spend a little more time, more effort or a little more money on something, but the outcomes will be much improved and we will deliver a better service or product.  Spending a little more time helps ensure the job is done well, and won’t need repeating, which saves $$ and time in the long run.

To illustrate, I used the example of a Trip to Costco.  For a small amount of money, I can purchase a ridiculously large bag each of rice and beans (like 25 or 50 lbs), and a couple of 12-packs of canned veggies. Spending just a little time, I can make enough rice, beans and veggies to eat every meal for weeks.  Cheap, quick to purchase and assemble, and relatively nutritious.

Sure, I could eat this for weeks, but why would I want to? This efficient use of my time and money would be unappetizing and, after weeks, my health would probably suffer.  We can see how efficient isn’t always best.

If, however, I spend a little more time and $$ in my planning, shopping and prep, I could still shop and eat efficiently, but I could also eat more effectively, enjoy my food and better health.  By adding some variety to my shopping list and to my menu and spending a little more money, I could eat and live better, which makes that little extra outlay a more effective use of my resources.

We had a visitor last week from Germany, and we went shopping on Michigan Avenue for some gifts for her family.  She was amazed at how pleasant and helpful the store employees were. She mentioned that she was used to efficient and competent customer service at home, but the helpful and chatty people made the shopping experience enjoyable.  So, the associates we worked with managed to be efficient, but, more importantly, also effective and improved their customer outcomes by being friendly and helpful.  And we probably spent more $$ at the stores because of this, which improves the company bottom line.

So, sometimes our work calls for us to be efficient, to work quickly and cheaply and get the job done. There is nothing wrong with Efficient.  But for a little extra effort and resources, we could do our work well and improve our results or outcomes.  We can be efficient and Effective, which would be even better.  And Effective brings us closer to Excellence, which would be better yet.

Building Productivity with Time Blocks

In the interest of time management, I’ll start this article with my conclusions:
  • Blocking out time to get important work done ensures intention and attention to that important work.
  • Transition times, like school days to summertime for me, provide an opportunity to reassess our time management practices.
  • Summertime can make us lax when it comes to productivity, but that doesn’t have to be the case!
  • We make appointments for other things, why not for specific tasks?
  • Strategies that work in one area of our life often can be used to improve other areas, too, if we just pay attention.
I complete important tasks daily, and you do, too.  I manage my business, family and home, and a number of volunteer roles in my Parish and Community.  I’m grateful every day for the gift of organization, both as a concept and as a skill I am blessed to possess.  And yet, I struggle with time, just like everyone else. We’re all trying to complete our important tasks, and also, occasionally, do things that we WANT to do, and not just NEED to do.
Last week, I was struggling with a particular volunteer commitment.  It seemed that, after spending client and business hours, and family and home hours (plus occasionally eating and sleeping), I couldn’t find time to work on this important category of tasks.  During a meeting, one friend suggested Time Blocking to another friend, as a way to move forward with productivity during the summer months (Thanks, Jill!).  I use time blocking all the time in other ways, so I grabbed onto the idea to help with my volunteer commitment.
Time Blocking is a simple and obvious concept:  We block out time on our calendar, 30 minutes or a whole day, to address specific tasks or types of tasks.   Time blocking means: 1. you know your high priority tasks and projects; 2. you set aside time each week to work on those specific tasks and projects; and 3. then you actually keep the commitment.
Consider this: I make appointments to work with my clients and we keep those appointments, because I am committed to my clients and my livelihood.  I find time for family and home because we have set hours for things, like school time and summer camp and meal times.  I’m invited to parties and events at specific times and for specific duration, and I make those parties and events happen, because I’m committed to the people involved and don’t want to let them down.   These are great examples of Time Blocking.
The real magic of time blocking comes from being specific about what will occur during the block of time.  Set blocks of time aside for a specific purpose.  I’ve blocked out an hour a day this week for business maintenance tasks, and each day has a specific category attached: bookkeeping and bill pay; client follow-up and emails; presentation preparation and booking, etc. Being specific, and working with intention for even a short period of time will move me towards my goals faster than unfocused wanderings. We don’t have to complete a project in our block of time, but we can at least make progress.
A client mentioned the bills didn’t always get paid on time because she hadn’t set aside time every week to pay the bills. I suggested Time Blocks, making an appointment with herself to pay the bills.
The plumber was coming to install a new laundry sink, so I blocked 20 minutes to de-clutter the laundry room before he arrived.
Applying Time Blocking to my challenge last week allowed me to just pay attention solely to one project, one category of tasks, for the allotted time.  It was quite a relief, actually, and I completed the tasks.
How can you use Time Blocking this week to be more productive?  Give it a try!

7 Solutions to Get My (and Your?) Morning Back on Track

This is not the blog I planned to publish this week.
But as I drove home from a very early morning client, I considered what I need to focus on today to make tomorrow morning run more smoothly.  We have simple and wonderful systems in place.  Our mornings typically work really well, and all 5 of us know our parts and make the essential stuff happen.
However….. This week…  we could improve.  Let’s just leave it at that.
So here is part of my plan for today.  Maybe one of these solutions will resonate with you, too?  If your morning is a scramble, give them try!
Solution #1: Put ALL the laundry away.
There was a scramble for pants this morning.  Sounds funny when I spell it out. Other days, we scramble for clean socks or a favorite hoodie, but today it was pants.  I occasionally entertain the idea of buying more of certain items to lessen the chance of running out, but we really don’t need more of anything, we just need to maintain the established system, and put ALL the laundry away.  It’s clean, its just not where its supposed to be.

Solution #2: Another set of keys.
A family member has misplaced his keys.  This one little foible has complicated things, by necessitating other family members having to come home to let the lost-key family member in the house, plan around them, etc. We used to have a back-up key, but a winter garage break-in caused us to change our ways.  And Yes, I know, the real answer is for lost-key son to find his keys.  But today’s solution is to suck it up and get another set of keys made.

Solution #3. Stock the Mom-Envelope.
The Mom-Envelope, with $40-ish dollars in small bills, is sadly empty.  A trip to the bank will solve the emptiness, and the Mom-envelope will be able to again solve morning scrambles for a few $$ here and there.

Solution #4: A Full Tank of Gas.
Luckily, I gassed up the other day.  But as I did, I recognized how having a full tank of gas eliminates a lot of worry (or conversely, worrying about running out causes a lot of stress.)

Solution #5: Fully charged technology.
The strategies are having multiple chargers and just one place to charge stuff (the kitchen counter).  Mysteriously, last night we discovered some of the chargers have wandered off, so a goal for today is to round them all up and keep them where they belong.  I have also started carrying an extra charger in my car.  A recent quote from the Minimalists reads “If your phone is constantly ‘about to die,’ then maybe it’s not the phone that has a problem.” (click here for the full article)

Solution #6: Communications.
My youngest is a rock star when it comes to reviewing the plan for his day.  Before going to sleep, and again in the morning, he reviews out loud what’s in store for his next 24 hours or so.  “Ok, Before-Care, then Band and Boy Scouts, right?  And I already packed my lunch.”  This helps us both to plan ahead and remember the details.

Solution #7: A Clean kitchen counter.
A quick way to de-rail movement in my morning is a messy kitchen.  Can’t make my coffee, eat breakfast, make smoothie, work on breakfast for the little guy, etc.  We left early and in a hurry, but that is the first thing on my list after I publish this!

So look around, and see where you can get your morning back on track!  Whether with these solutions or some of your own!

Organizational Truth #42: When we want to break our habits, that’s when we need them the most.

Organizational Truth # 42: When we want to blow off our good habits the most, that’s when we need them the most.  Routines and good habits help us restore order to our disorder; bring focus to our scattered brains; and prime the productivity pump when our motivation has run dry.

I was reminded of this Organizational Truth last night.  We had a truly great weekend; participated (ok, walked) in a local 5K for a really great non-profit organization; visited with guests and friends at our house and at a party; had a fabulous evening downtown with dinner, great friends and a concert of one of our favorite bands; and sang at Palm Sunday Mass.

Come Sunday night, I was very tired.  I’d earned a Sunday evening of laying around, and I could easily justify abandoning my usual Sunday night prep-for-the-week hour.  But I also deserve an organized, productive and less-stressed week.  So, even though I really wanted to blow off my routines, I knew they’d serve me well and that I needed them more than ever.  I took a breath, and got to work.  I:

  • Cleaned up from dinner and started the dishwasher.  Again.
  • Had the 10-year old pack his lunch for today, unpack his bag from camping (oh, add that to the list of fun), and get his backpack ready for school.
  • Started laundry. Again.
  • Tidied / swept the bedrooms, collecting random laundry items and stuff, and emptying trash as I went; and then the family spaces as well.
  • Wiped down the bathroom surfaces and floor, and emptied trash.
  • Checked my email accounts, and ruthlessly deleted anything that I didn’t need.
  • Checked my Evernote To-Do list, and deleted or moved to Monday everything from the weekend.
  • And THEN, I curled up with my new book. (Insert contented sigh…)

Truth be told, this isn’t the blog I had planned to write today.  But when I woke up this morning to a tidied house, the kids mostly ready for school and a clear vision of what I needed to do this week, I appreciated the great value in my Sunday night maintenance hour that prepared us for our week.

HOW, you say?  HOW to maintain your habits when your Get-Up- and-Go got up and went?

  1. Set a timer to keep you moving.  Use your smart phone or a kitchen timer, set it for your allotted time, race the clock to get your routines / habits done, then go do something fun when the timer sounds.  I use timers all the time, for myself and with my clients.
  2. Set a timer because then you know you get to stop soon.  This can help us get and stay motivated, too!
  3. Crank some tunes.  Seriously, it helps.  Not so much when I’m writing a blog or coaching phone clients, but staying on task while plowing through emails, assembling marketing materials or working with clients?  Oh yes, we need music!  (My Pandora App is my friend!)
  4. Enlist aid.  Get help from the humans around you, or phone a friend to chat as you fold laundry or wash dishes (hands free, of course, so you don’t drop the phone in the sink), to make the mundane routines more enjoyable.
  5. Decision making slows us down and trips us up. Determine what YOUR Getting-Started / Making-Progress / First-10-Minutes-When-I-Sit-Down-At-Work Routine looks like.  Write it down, pin it up, make it simple.

So establish routines and good habits, and then use them all the time, especially when you don’t want to!  You’ll thank yourself later!