Save Time and $$: Stop Running Errands (Over and over and over…)

Perhaps you love running errands.  Maybe you love shopping.  I love neither.

I detest errands and shopping.  The expense, hassle and time spent.  But, of course, there are items  – food, clothing, supplies, etc. – that I need for my family, our home and my business.  Errands and shopping are a necessary evil.

I have been pondering how to spend less time, money and hassle on running errands and shopping.  I’ve talked to a lot of people also working on the same challenge, and we’ve learned a lot from each other!

Why Change Your Shopping and Errand Running Ways?  Here are a few examples of why:

  • I want to make more client time available in my schedule which means streamlining some recurring errands and tasks.
  • A friend travels for work, and is looking to streamline the household errands and shopping to spend more time together with family on weekends.
  • A client has chronic health problems that make shopping or running errands difficult, and lugging supplies into the house nearly impossible.

How to Change Your Ways:

  1. Answer the questions:  What tasks / errands do you regularly run?
    Grocery or groceries, cleaners, coffee, bakery, post office, bank, pharmacy?
  2. Pay Attention:  For a week, take note of Where Your time Goes.
    Are you running off to the same place multiple times in a week?  A couple of grocery runs, dropping off cleaning, a handful to trips to the ATM or bank?
  3. Which of those tasks / errands / places could you complete less often?  Just once weekly, or even monthly?
  4. If you HAVE to run errands, bundle what you can.  I bundle the Errands I absolutely have to run onto one morning per week. I don’t need to run them more than once a week.  These may include: the cleaners to drop off and pick up; gas up my van; drop off donations for myself or for clients; or in-person banking if necessary.

More Importantly, what Errands could you eliminate entirely?  This week, I asked my FB community: “What is one regular errand you have been able to outsource or delete?”

 

Groceries / Household Supplies:

  • Scan-n-Go app for Sam’s club has been a major game changer. My husband and kids even come with me now that I don’t have to wait in that line! (KB)
  • Mariano’s click list I order my groceries online call them from the parking lot and they load my groceries in the trunk. They even give me 2 free cookies. (ND)
  • Love Peapod! Use them almost exclusively because I do not like grocery shopping. (KK)
  • InstaCart app (favorite groceries will deliver!) (BK/CK)
  • Amazon Fresh for groceries when I don’t have time to go. (MK, KB)
  • Amazon Prime Pantry for cleaning supplies, toiletries and paper products delivered monthly (NR, DCD, MK, LB)
  • Amazon for lots of little purchases, saving time, gas, and most importantly, aggravation. (LB)
  • Melaleuca.com, my first foray into home delivered household supplies!  (Me!!)

Gifts / Cards:

  • Gift giving. Sending an electronic gift card to out-of-town family saves me 1.) having to go to the store to search for a gift, and 2.) having to wrap and make a trip to the USPS to mail said gift. (JB)
  • Send out cards for sending g thank you cards and such. You can even attach gifts. (MK)

Errands:

  • I reserve my library books online. That way, despite having to go pick it up my reads at the library, they are at least waiting for me at the circulation desk, and I don’t need to search for them in the stacks. I guess true outsourcing for this would be using an e-book for reading on a Kindle or Nook. 
  • Mail-order prescriptions in 3-month supplies. No more long lines at the pharmacy! (MJS)
  • I have Chewy.com deliver my 30 lb bag of dog food every 5 weeks and I get great reminder emails when they are ready to ship the next box. I can move the auto ship out another week if they still have food or ship immediately if they are almost out. No more trips to the pet store to break my back on dog food. (AB)
  • Mobile banking is a big timesaver.  (LB) 
  • Chase quick pay and deposit (BO)
  • Auto pay for bills. (MK)
  • Stitch Fix (Me!!!):  I just received my third monthly Stitch Fix. This is an on-line styling and shopping website that sends me an great outfit every month based on my own preferences.  I can choose to keep as many of the items they send or none at all.  For this self-proclaimed non-shopper, this is GOLD!!
  • Target.com (Me!!) I shop at Target every other week for household items like paper goods, toiletries and cleaning supplies.  Amazon Pantry doesn’t carry a few of the items we regularly buy, so recently, I set up my on-line account at Target.com, paid with my Target Red Card credit card for free shipping, and received my first shipment.  They were delivered to my door.  It was beautiful.

So, in the interest of saving time, money and hassle, what errands are you willing to outsource or delete entirely?!  Let’s Go!

“Can We Go Buy School Supplies?”

I was pondering tonight’s article topic this evening as I made dinner.  After his first day of classes today, I asked my high school senior (in jest) if there were any really important, hard-hitting organizational questions he would like to ask.

His response?  “Can We Go Buy School Supplies?”

Uh, well, sure.  That wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, topic-wise, or how I planned to spend my evening, but sure, we can head to Office Max/Depot.

As we stood in the very long line (I love my son very much), I was still ruminating on how to craft our experience into a meaningful blog post (doesn’t everyone use their waiting-in-line time to mentally write articles?).  I asked him what organizational tips we could learn from our experiences. Here is what we came up with :

  1. Do Not Go Shopping at 6 pm Monday evening when 2 or more local schools started back to school that day.  (um, yeah, that…)
  2. ALWAYS Use a list. Mentally walk through your schedule, or make a copy of the schedule and jot down next to each class the items needed.
  3. If your school doesn’t provide a list, don’t shop until you have been to class.
  4. If your school does provide a list (like our district’s elementary  and middle schools), shop as as soon as its published, and early in the day.  Why would you wait?!?!
  5. Use coupons.
  6. Bring an umbrella.
  7. Eat dinner first, since you don’t know how long this adventure may take.
  8. Don’t even bother losing your cool.  I apparently used the word “peeved” as we stood in the very long line (did I mention it was a very long line?!).  My son and I then discussed “peeved”, with my explanation being “I just can’t be bothered with actual anger.  What is the point?  No one benefits, it serves no purpose.” And he agreed.  There was a toddler losing his mind at the front of the store, and I’m sure perhaps a few of us in line wanted to throw a tantrum at one time or another. But again, what’s the point?  Instead…
  9. Use your wait time constructively.  Breathe deep, scroll FB on your phone, chat with the folks around you, mentally write articles or sing songs in your head.
  10. The line at Office Max/Depot is not the place to buy Swedish fish or cherry sours.  No matter how good they look.

On the way home, I realized that next year, this son will be doing his own back-to-school shopping away at college. I am totally okay with that, this is not (yet) one of those weepy “my baby is growing up” posts, though I sense those could be coming.  But I am even more glad we had the chance to talk it out!

This is about as close to a guest blogger as I’m doing to get, so I dedicate this to D.

To:

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Clothes Check: Yes, No, Not Today? Or Not Gonna Happen?

It’s that time of year again – for the age old back-to-school tradition (that works for everyone, and not just students!) of reviewing your clothes and closet to get ready for the new school year or season.

I know this activity can seem overwhelming, but here are a few suggestions to make it go more smoothly and reap better results!

Enlist Aid.  Phone A Friend.  Ask for Help.

Here is the thing – the minute we touch an item, we are more likely to keep it even if we don’t need it.  Ask for help – your friend / partner / confidant is there to hold up each item for your review.  Then you can make your decision about the item: Yes / Not Today  / Not Gonna Happen (See below).  And YOU are that friend / partner / confidant for your kids, if you’re tackling this project with them.

If you’re flying solo for this project, grab your clothes by the hanger and not the fabric.  It will help you make more objective decisions.

Set a timer.

We all need deadlines.  Many of us work better with external motivation, so set a timer for an hour or two and jump in.  We and our kids also need a “Hard Stop” – an end time – to know that this (occasionally unsavory) task will soon end, and then we can go do something else. Deadlines and hard stops increase motivation and focus.

 

Ok, not THIS kind of filter…

Set Your Filters:

Come up with your filters.  Get ready to ask yourself the same question over and over again. Make your filters easy and specific and maybe even funny, and ask them for every item of clothing.   For example, hold up (or have someone hold up for you) every item in your closet and ask yourself something like:

  • Every Day?
  • Yes, but Not Right Now (off season or dressy)?
  • Yes, But It’s a Keepsake (keep in a keepsake bin NOT in your closet)?
  • Never Gonna Happen / What Was I Thinking? / Where Did That Even Come From? etc.

Determine your decision-making filters ahead of time, and the process goes more smoothly!

You can set up size filters, too – for example, reviewing your kid’s clothes, and deciding that any item smaller than a size ???? (6T, adult small, insert your child’s current size here) needs to leave the closet and be passed on / sold / donated.  The size filters can be applied by you or a helper or a child to take the emotion out of the process!

I walked a college-bound young man through this process a few weeks ago.  We sorted his clothes into:

  • Yes: the clothes he wears every day that he will pack for college;
  • Yes, but not today: the clothes he will take to school in a few months, when the weather cools off;
  • Yes, but way back in the back of the closet: the clothes that he doesn’t wear but he would still like to keep, like his Grandfather’s hunting jacket; and
  • Not Gonna Happen: the clothes that he will never wear (either too small or doesn’t like) that can be bagged up, passed on or donated.
  • Maybe (this should be a VERY SMALL PILE!): Try it on, get it fixed, or just suck it up and Let It Go.  If you hesitate to keep an item, that should be your first and strongest indicator that it is really a Not Gonna Happen and should go.

With this young college man, each category of clothes hung in a different area of his closet, so packing will be really easy when it comes time to head to school.

So, ask for help, set a timer and use your filters as you spend some quality time with your clothes this week!  And for more info on the subject, here are more articles on this same topic!

 

Conquer Your (kid’s?) Clothes and Closet: Summer Project #1

 

Back To School: First Things First – Clothes!

A Better Way to Hang, for National Get Organized Month!

That age-old Ritual: Back To School Clothes Shopping!

When Reality Meets the To-Do List: It’s Time To Act!

Last week, I found myself on the phone actually agreeing to a Demolition Date for my kitchen.  

Demo Date.  That’s what it is called.

I arranged for a team of people to come in and disassemble our kitchen as we know it, so it can be reassembled with hardwood floors, new cabinets and appliances, paint and lighting.

I’m very excited about these improvements.  And terrified.  And just a wee bit overwhelmed (especially considering that now the demo date is now just hours away).

In conversation with a friend over the weekend, she mentioned that Saturday was the day “Reality meets the list”.  For a week, she had jotted down ideas, planned, imagined, strategized, categorized, prioritized, etc., but now it was time for action.

As I packed up the kitchen this afternoon, my Reality Met My List, too.  No more planning and lists and thinking.  Now it was time to open the cabinets and finish putting things in boxes and baskets for the next few weeks.

So, if you are working on projects, whether at home or at work, professionally or personally, there comes a moment when we need to implement our plan.  Commit.  Execute.  DO!

Don’t Act Too Early.  
I found myself saying “I leaped before I looked” to my son when I asked him to help me move something while my arms were full of stuff.  So, Act, but don’t Act Too Soon!

On the Other Hand…

Don’t Think Too Long.
Have you heard the term “The Paralysis of Analysis”?  We can overthink something for so long that opportunities pass or situations change before we ever get to act or travel or grow.  My Dad says “Do SOMETHING, even if it’s wrong!”.  I wouldn’t want to be wrong, but the point is to DO something.

See the paint shown to the right?  I want a dark color for the kitchen walls, but I’m a little nervous. So the best way to figure out if we will like it was to buy a sample and paint the wall.  I can wonder all I want, but to make a decision and make progress, we needed ACTION (and I like it!)!

Be Reasonable.
My to-list contains EVERYTHING I need to do, and sometimes I just use it as a dumping place for my ideas and tasks, which means the list for any given day can be ridiculously long and unrealistic.  Putting 28 hours worth of work or tasks on the list for a 24 hour period is dooming myself to failure.

Make the list, but also look at your day and week and month, and determine what you can reasonably get done.

Just Do It. Implementation is Key.
We can plan and discuss and research a topic until we are blue in the face, but without action, it remains just a topic.

And now… I need to go and pack!

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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Call / text 708.790.1940
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Life’s Stormy Weather: Cleaning Up and Getting Ready

I presented to a church group last week, and as part of the meeting, they were reflecting on Proverbs 31:21, “She doesn’t fear for her household when it snows, because they are all dressed in warm clothes”.   As I pondered the verse, I realized that we all have Snow, we all have difficult seasons in our life.

This idea has been rolling around in my head these last few days, as friends and family struggle with life’s stormy weather, and the clean-up afterwards. Even we Klimczaks are cleaning up from especially busy days, and preparing for more busy times in the next few weeks.

We all have to endure “Snow” from the scripture, the stormy weather of life.  We have cold, dark, uncertain or tumultuous times:  big life events or small, personal hardships and tragedies, major work deadlines, illness or the death of a loved one.  If you are enduring ‘stormy weather’ right now, know that I am praying for you.

Here’s the toughest part, I think.  Regardless of our storms, no matter how vulnerable or maxed out we feel, the rest of the world just marches on.  And as hard as it seems, we have to catch up. Today, let’s talk about the after-storm clean up, and preparing for every day life plus the possibility of the next storm.

If you’re coming through your storm, you may feel tired, sad, drained, unmotivated.  Focus on Survival first: Food, clothing, shelter and safety.

  • Take a shower, get dressed, accomplish your usual morning routine.
  • Get something to eat and something to drink.  Take care of You.
  • Make the bed.  It’s amazing how accomplished we feel after such a simple task.
  • Open up the blinds and curtains.  Close your eyes and bask in the daylight for a moment or two. Maybe even crack a window open for some fresh air.  Breathe deeply.   If the day is dark and gloomy, turn on some soft lighting as you get moving.

Now, Maintenance tasks:

  • Grab a notebook.  I guarantee, as you move around your space today with your thoughts set on clearing “storm damage” and restoring order, ideas will occur to you that need to be noted!
  • Start a load of laundry.  Or fold a load.   Ah, laundry.  That never ending pursuit of clean clothes. Ours are clean but heaped in the big cart to be folded.  So this morning, I started a load and folded a couple.   This task took all of 5 minutes once I set out to complete it.
  • Clean the kitchen counter so you can make coffee, of course!, but also so you have some place to put the groceries you’re about to buy!
  • Craft a quick grocery list and head to the store.  This is not a 2-week buying extravaganza, this is the “let’s get through the next few days” trip.    And did you know there are flowers at the grocery?  Bought some tulips today.  Made me smile.  (There is also chocolate, specifically Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs, on sale right now.  Just sayin’…)
  • Take a coupe more deep breaths.
  • Put the groceries away, grabbing something for your self for lunch and leaving something out for dinner.
  • Feeling better yet?
  • Check the mail that has piled up, toss or recycle as much as possible, add the action items (add them to your list, of course, like “pay bills”, and “make appointment for car service”), and schedule time to complete those action.
  • Check the email, purging all but the essentials.  Add the action items to your to-do list.   Put out fires and flag emails for later, add those to your action list then move on.
  • Accept help.  A friend offers to drive the car pool, drop off a meal or run an errand?  YES! And remember, sometimes the storm is ours, and sometimes it is someone else’s, so be ready to help out when you can, too.

The challenge with life’s stormy weather is that we don’t usually know when the storms will hit.  So it behooves us to quickly recover from life’s ups and downs and get back to normal, so we’re better prepared when the next storm rolls around.

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;

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Call / text 708.790.1940
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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.

 

Life Is Too Short For Crummy Pens (The Question of Duplicates)

If you’re reading this article, you probably have clutter.

Let’s be honest, every person has at least a little clutter. You certainly have stuff, as we all need at least some stuff – food, clothes, furniture, books, etc. – to survive.  And when we have stuff, stuff can build up and become clutter.

Clutter is anything we don’t need, use or love. (Barbara Hemphill)

A powerful questions, as asked by a FB friend just today, is “Duplicates: how much is enough, and how many is too many? ”  This friend was asking about her sons’ clothes, but the question can be asked about pretty much ANYTHING.  TShirts, socks, cars, hammers, mugs, pens.

We need pens.  But with just 2 hands, we only need one pen at a time.  And it had better be a good pen. Few things frustrate me more than reaching for a pen and coming away with a broken/dried-up/wrong color pen.  Life is just too short for crummy pens.

I talk about Duplicates in my Clear the Clutter classes.  I mention Mug Math:
  • Ask (# of coffee drinkers  x  # of cups per day) x # of days we take to run the dishwasher.
  •  So, in my house, that would be (1 x 2) x 2 = 4.
  • Now, that’s a need.  We NEED 4 coffee mugs.  OF course we have more than 4 coffee mugs. Because sometimes we have company, or use the mugs for ice cream because mugs have handles, or I shake things up and have tea, too.
  • So, I NEED 4.  But I don’t need 40.  There will never be 40 people drinking coffee in my house at once.  When I have more than 40 people over, we’re usually drinking beer, wine or soda, which conveniently come in their own containers.
And the Kid T-shirt question?  We asked
  • The child wears # of shirts a day x how often you do laundry (2 shirts a day x 7 days)
  • So, for the child, we NEED 14 shirts. And since we like options, we keep more than 14 t-shirts. But not 40 or even 30.  Now may be a good time to re-choose or re-shop the favorite 20 or 25, and let the rest go.But I digress.  I hope you see my point.  We need the find the happy medium for our items – enough mugs or socks or pens that our needs and wants are met, but not so many of something that it falls out of the cabinet or clutters our dresser drawers or drives us crazy.
There are some items we need in duplicate: 
  • Every room needs a garbage can, box of tissue and surge protector.
  • Most rooms need apair of scissors, some band-aids and some pens, too.
  • Charging cords – at least a couple.  Definitely one at home and one at work.
  • House keys – We always need extra house keys.
  • A class participant last week pointed out that we should have a hammer on each level of our homes – in the bedrooms, in the kitchen and in the basement, plus one in the garage – so she doesn’t have to run up and down the stairs all the time.  Fair enough.
  • And there are others.  So, some items we need in duplicate, but certainly not everything.
So, how can you figure out how much is  enough and how much is too much?  Ask yourself some questions:
  • What is the relative cost of the item?  Having duplicates of things like scissors, garbage cans or pens doesn’t cost too much, and definitely saves time and hassle.
  • How often do you need to use that type of item?  Have extras of those things you use ALL THE TIME.
  • Are there convenient alternatives?  For example, scissors have a very specific function that few other items can perform.  Anything can be a book mark, not anything can cut a piece of paper cleanly in half.
  • Perhaps we just need duplicate accessories?   For example, I only need one bullet blender, but I may have multipe cups for multiple smoothies.  We
  • When we need an item, how quickly do we need it?  For example, we buy extra socks. Because when we need to leave the house, missing socks really slow us down.  So it is worth it to have extras, just to make our departures easier.  Not everything requires such immediacy, though.
So, how much is enough?  How much is too many?  That depends on who is asking, and what you’re asking about.  But these are great questions to ask as we get organized and purge our clutter!
To:

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Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
Discover the benefits of Organizational Coaching;

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Call / text 708.790.1940
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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!

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 reader 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 and Big-Picture planning and we don’t always have these!

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 many of us, 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 take a 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  on-going 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
www.Facebook.com/MColleenKlimczakCPO
Via Twitter, @ColleenCPO

Organize Your Kitchen for the Holidays: Do This, Not That

Success is not always about getting everything just right.

Instead, success may be about doing the fewest things wrong.

My priest at Mass this weekend made this statement, referencing a recent high school football game where the winning team had fewer penalties than their opponents, and therefore more opportunities to score (In full disclosure, my husband had to explain to me – the football novice – why fewer penalties might lead to higher scoring).

This week’s blog topic was swirling in my head this weekend, too, and I realized that Organizing your Kitchen successfully (or anything else) can be about doing fewer things wrong, too.   And ‘doing fewer things wrong’ may feel more attainable than doing everything just right!

So if you are familiar with these Wrongs, we can make them right!

1.  Wrong: Starting an Organizing Project Without a Plan.

Right: The quickest way to derail a project is to start without a plan.  Assemble your kitchen organizing tools (garbage and recycling bags, your grocery list, some good music and a timer set for 30-60 minutes), and get started.  Pick a starting spot (like the fridge), systematically decide to keep or toss your items, put back the keepers, and then move on.  DO NOT just dive in or take everything out of every cabinet all at once!

2.  Wrong: Neither Knowing Nor Using What You Have.

Right:  Regularly check your cabinets and refrigerator, and use the food you have on hand before buying more. Always check before you shop!  Leave a shopping list on the fridge, and add items to the list as you run out.

3. Wrong: Procrastinating.

Right:  Well, procrastinating is almost always wrong, but it can cause unnecessary stress around the holidays, and we all know – the holidays are stressful enough!  Pull out the recipes now, start the Who’s-bringing-what conversations with family members now, and start stocking up on holiday specific foods now, just a few things every week.

4. Wrong: Re-Purchasing Something Because You Can’t Find The First One.

Right: Establish a home for certain types of items, so you can check your inventory.  Re-buying items wastes money and contributes to kitchen clutter.  Imagine – If all the canned goods always live on the same cabinet shelf, you can check your inventory at a glance. Establish homes, let everyone know where the home is, and make a habit of putting things AWAY.

5. Wrong: Buying Big Specialty Items That You Only Use Once a Year.

Right: Talk to your friends and family members now, or go on Facebook and find out who has chafing dishes / holiday cookie cutters / a really big turkey platter, and borrow it!  Do not clutter up your kitchen with these specialty items: borrow them, take really good care of them and then give them back!

6. Wrong: Having Stuff on Your Kitchen Counters.

Right: Kitchens are very personal spaces, but they also need to be functional spaces.  Keep your counters clear of stuff – all the time! With clear counters, everything – unpacking grocery bags, making dinner, baking cookies, cleaning up – becomes easier!

So, this week, the pressure is off.  You don’t have to do everything just right!  Doing fewer things wrong is progress enough!