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.

 

Clutter and Procrastination: Making Room for Harry Potter

Sometimes there are actual hurdles – physical barriers! – between procrastination and organization.  Let’s seek them out, identify and remove them so we can get things done!

I love the Harry Potter books.  I’ve collected the hardback novels as they were released.  My set has seen the attentions of me and all three 3 sons as they read the series, too.  These books have seen the inside of many school backpacks,   traveled the country, been read and re-read, and are loved to the moon and back.  And they are showing their age (who isn’t?).

So, when a friend mentioned he was downsizing and had the full set in pristine condition, we jumped at the offer, in case one of my sons wanted to have a set to call their own.  Another generous friend recently shared a collection of organizing books with me (which I will share on this blog some day), too.

So, herein lies the problem.  Our bookshelves were full.   And I needed to make room on the shelves for these new additions / editions.

I’ve wanted to tackle the basement book shelves for a month, but just haven’t gotten around to it. But now, a pile of Harry Potter books lived in my office for a few days, then moved downstairs NEAR the bookshelves but still not ON the bookshelves.  Same went for the organizing books – oh, the irony.

I procrastinated about putting them away because there were actual barriers to putting them away.  Sound familiar?  Have you ever said or heard:

  • I can’t put away last year’s taxes because the file drawer is too full, or
  • I can’t put away last year’s taxes because of that pile of old printers stacked in front of the file cabinet.
  • I can’t schedule that appointment because I misplaced my calendar (a week ago), or I haven’t bought one for this year yet.
  • I can’t get rid of that old empty file cabinet before I find the keys (yes you can).
  • I can’t put the groceries away because the cabinets are disorganized, or are too full (I kid you not).
  • I can’t take those checks to the bank until I find a deposit slip (of course you can, the bank has piles of blank deposit slips!).
  • I can’t put stuff away on the book shelves because there are bags on the floor in front of the the bookshelves.
  • I want to organize that closet, but the light bulb burned out.

We’ve all had moments like this, I’m sure.   The good news for me and Harry Potter is that an hour on Saturday morning spent clearing off the bookshelves resulted in plenty of space for the new books, clean and dust-free shelves, the discovery of a few gems, and 3 bags of books in excellent condition donated to my local library yesterday morning.

So, this week, I want you to walk around your space with an eye on your Task List and also on the physical barriers that may be making you procrastinate instead of completing your tasks. Piles here and there, minor home repairs, maybe something as simple as taking out the trash, dropping off donations, or loading up those printers to drop off at your local EWaste recycling site.  Remove those physical obstructions, and get things done!

To:

Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
Discover the benefits of Organizational Coaching;

Please contact me.

Call / text 708.790.1940
Online at  http://peaceofmindpo.com
www.Facebook.com/MColleenKlimczakCPO
Via Twitter, @ColleenCPO

Why I Never Find Money in Old Coat Pockets

One of the biggest Cold Weather challenges for me (aside from the cold, snow, chapped hands and lips, etc.) is… too many pockets.

Have you ever noticed?  Too many coats, too many layers, too many pockets – these make it difficult to keep track of things like receipts or car keys or that one thing that I just had… a minute ago… in my hand… hold on, maybe it’s over here… no, not there…

Well, you get the idea.

We can wait for Spring, certainly, which will solve the too-many-pockets challenge with fewer layers and, dare I say, coat-free days, but we may still be challenged with too many places to put things and no habit or routine to help us take care of those things.

The challenge of losing things in pockets can be addressed and resolved, like so many challenges, with better habits.

Working with a new client yesterday, we talked about Routines and checklists, and a Landing and Launch Pad for getting out the door on time.   Keeping track of our time and our stuff relies on Routines and habits, and setting up space in our homes and offices to nurture those routines and habits.

When you get home from your day, what’s in your pockets?  An informal survey this morning (thanks, FB Friends, for playing along!) reports many of us are walking around with:

from
makemesomethingspecial.co.uk

  • debit card;
  • car keys;
  • straw wrappers;
  • wallet;
  • Sharpie;
  • lint;
  • lip balm;
  • those little dental picks;
  • tissues, clean and dirty;
  • loose change, ranging from 30 to 76 cents;
  • receipts;
  • Legos;
  • dog treats;
  • key card for work;
  • Jewel monopoly pieces “that are probably duplicates”
  • good luck penny;
  • business card (cards to give out, or perhaps a card just received?);
  • rosary;
  • flash drive;
  • pocketknife;
  • medication;
  • “my precious” (thanks C!)
  • “my hand” (thanks  P!  And standing up, yes, it’s probably in your pocket!).

 

To track and manage the stuff in our pockets and in our lives, we need to

  • Create space to deal with the stuff;
  • Create habits around dealing with the stuff;
  • Encourage others around us to create space and habits for dealing with stuff; and
  • Maintain the habits once we’ve created them.

 

First, create space to manage the stuff in your pocket.  Near your entrance, have

  • a garbage can (for things like straw wrappers, lint, tissues, dental picks, etc.);
  • an envelope for catching receipts until you are ready to deal with them;
  • a jar for loose change;
  • a bowl or basket for the really important things you may need while you’re home, like your CELL PHONE or  READING GLASSES;
  • a bowl or basket, or the habit to put-in-your-handbag, for the things you will need again when you leave, like KEYS, WALLET, SUN GLASSES.
  • For me, these all reside on my desk, right next to the back door.

 

Create the Habit for yourself:

  • The items listed above offer a visual reminder for me when I walk in the door to empty the stuff out of my pockets.  Even if I’m not ready to deal with it all, at least it is out of my pockets (ever run pens or lip balm through the laundry!?! Or cell phones?!?!).
  • I take care of receipts and bookkeeping items with just a few minutes every day – it’s easier to recall details when I do this daily!
  • While I wish I could be one of those people who slips on a coat not worn recently and finds a $20 bill inside, I much prefer to be one of those people who knows where her money is!
  • Let me encourage you to establish this Space and this Habit near your entrance (instead of on your dresser or in the laundry room), since much of what you brought home with you will also probably leave with you.

If you live with other people, encourage them to create the space and habit for themselves, too. For example, with 4 drivers in our house, there is a specific place for car keys to live, so we can find what we need when we need them!

Once you’ve created the space and the habit, Keep Up Every Day.  And if you or a family member start to lag or drift on the habit, be ready to re-commit with reminders and routines until emptying out your pockets, taking care of business and preparing for a seamless next departure becomes a natural and comfortable action to complete!

To:

Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
Discover the benefits of Organizational Coaching;

Please contact me.

Call / text 708.790.1940
Online at  http://peaceofmindpo.com
www.Facebook.com/MColleenKlimczakCPO
Via Twitter, @ColleenCPO

“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!

 

To:

Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
Discover the benefits of Organizational Coaching;

Please contact me.

Call / text 708.790.1940
Online at  http://peaceofmindpo.com
www.Facebook.com/MColleenKlimczakCPO
Via Twitter, @ColleenCPO

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
Discover the benefits of Organizational Coaching;

Please contact me.

Call / text 708.790.1940
Online at  http://peaceofmindpo.com
www.Facebook.com/MColleenKlimczakCPO
Via Twitter, @ColleenCPO

Did You Start That Other List Yet? The After-Christmas List?

As I write this, I have tea and cinnamon muffins next to me and Christmas carols on the speaker.  We shopped today, went out to lunch and I even caught a short winter’s nap.

And I started my After-Christmas list.

This is not your “Resolutions List”, this is the “hey, here is a great idea but I won’t have time to act on it until after the Holidays” list.

You see, I have ideas all the time about new ways to do things or make things better, but I don’t always have time to act on those ideas.  And time is an even more scarce and precious commodity during the holiday season, especially this last week before Christmas.

So, as I deck the halls and wrap the gifts and do my daily tasks and work with clients, I also make notes of things I want to do but NOT RIGHT NOW.

For example, current tasks and projects on the After-Christmas List include but are not limited to:

  • Move all my personal emails from my old email address to the new gmail address (I expect this to take a while!!);
  • Unsubscribe from almost every retailer email campaign;
  • Send out my business New Years Cards (don’t have to go out until next week!);
  • Review and cull my reading pile;
  • Reorganize the laundry room, after all the Christmas gifts are out of it!;
  • Wrap the gifts for my side of our extended family (we’re celebrating with them the end of the month); and
  • Teach my teenager how to do his laundry.

All of these ideas are really good ideas.  Important ideas.  Ideas I want to implement.  But NOT THIS WEEK.   This week, there are parties to attend, cookies to bake (and eat), White Christmas waiting for me on the DVR (I’ve never seen it!!!), and more fun, friends and family to appreciate.

So, this week, I challenge you to:

  • Focus on Christmas and your holidays, and not get distracted!;
  • Take note of the new ideas that occur to you; but
  • Prioritize your activities, taking care of the tasks that need to be done this week, and putting the other ones on your After-Christmas List!

Merry Christmas to All, and to all a good night.

564 Words About Gift Cards (and some special skills)

I, like all of you, have skills.  In addition to organizing,

  • I can quote movies and song lyrics from a range of decades and genres;
  • I can roll my tongue, and wink with either eye (my 12 year old’s suggestions);
  • I can read upside down, and I know the number equivalent of each letter of the alphabet, so writing in code is a piece of 3-1-11-5 (cake); and
  • For today’s purposes, I know way more about gift cards than most people.  (There are more skills, of course, but that’s enough for now!)

gift_card_holder_2lWhy do I know about gift cards?  In addition to giving and receiving gift cards like most people, I help administer a gift card-based tuition reimbursement program at my son’s high school, so I spend a lot of time working with gift cards.  To help you this Holiday Season, I thought I would drop some knowledge on how to use and give these handy items!

Here are some tips to help you manage your Gift Cards:

  • Gift cards are money.  Therefore:
    • They are meant to be spent, and
    • They need to be managed (management is defined as getting the most out of our resources).
  • Know where your gift cards are, and what you have in stock.  Have a single safe place at home to keep them, in one drawer or on your desk (Not all over the house!).
  • If you just don’t know how much a gift card is worth, call the customer service number on the back, or go to the website.  If a card has been used, the company can usually track exactly when and where the balance was used. Grab a sharpie,  and jot the date and current balance on the front of the card.  Keep a small sharpie with you, to jot the new balance on a card if you only use part of the value. This one clicks on a key ring!  minimarker_black
  • If you received gift cards for a certain store or restaurant, sign-up online or via an app or social media (FB, Twitter) for special offer notifications.  Use your gift cards along with those special promotions to get a bigger bang for your buck.  For example, I have a Starbucks Gold Card, and with my on-line account I receive special offers and can add money or gift cards to the balance.
  • Carry the gift cards you plan to use with you, but certainly not all the cards you have. Carrying all of them could be cumbersome and you risk losing them! (There are apps like Slide to manage and digitize your gift cards.)
  • And yet, you don’t have to take your gift cards with you.  If you receive gift cards for on-line retailers like Amazon.com or ITunes, redeem the gift cards and add to your online account balance when you receive them, and then toss the redeemed cards away.
  • USE YOUR GIFT CARDS!  They are money, but some can lose value over time, or merchants may go out of business.
  • If you have gift cards that you don’t ever plan on using, you can sell your cards.  There’s Craig’s List or Facebook groups dedicated to buying / selling, plus other websites or apps just a quick google search away.

This week, collect those gift cards from all the spots you’ve stashed them, and turn them around for more gifts, a nice dinner out or maybe some $$ for Christmas Shopping!

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:

Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
Discover the benefits of Organizational Coaching;

Please contact me.

Call / text 708.790.1940
Online at  http://peaceofmindpo.com
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