Change The Habit or Change The House?

Working with a client this morning, I was reminded  of an article I recently read on ApartmentTherapy.com.

In the comments for an article about creating an entry way in a small space, a reader asked if the solution to the problem was to “Change the habit or the house?”.

This is a powerful and useful question as we get organized!  And… what does that mean?

Let’s say I notice that, when I walk in the door every day, I consistently put my keys on the same side table and toss my coat over the same chair or the back of the sofa.

Leaving my keys and coat exactly there makes the space look cluttered or disorganized, so I could elect to try and change my HABIT and come in a different door, or walk down the hallway and hang things up in a closet, etc.   However, since I am consistent about where these items fall, I can find them in an instant and be out the door efficiently.

So the HABIT is a good one, but the entry way of the HOUSE doesn’t support the HABIT well.   I could change the house to support the habit by adding a decorative bowl in the entry way for keys and phone, setting a chair in the entry way for our coat and bag, or perhaps adding a coat tree or some wall hooks.

Another example.  This morning’s client has 2 school aged daughters, and they both consistently drop their school backpacks and sport bags in the same places in the living room / dining room.  This can drive a parent crazy, let me tell you!

Yes, the piles in these living spaces are unsightly.  However, these students have good and consistent habits that helps them keep track of their school work and team uniforms.  So, the question we asked this morning was “Is it easier to change the habit or the house?”

My client didn’t actually mind the location of the piles, merely the appearance of them.  So, de- cluttering the pile contents and adding attractive large wicker baskets to hold the bags and gear in the habitual drop zones seems a better solution than trying to establish new habits and drop zones elsewhere.

Years ago, I organized with a real estate agent who had a lovely home office, but she didn’t really like to work in there.  She preferred to work in her kitchen – it was warm and cozy, had great light plus coffee!  So, instead of trying to change her preferred habit of working happily in the kitchen, we instead set up a work space in the kitchen and reserved the home office for meetings with clients, and file and supply storage.  We helped her home better fit her good work habit.

Again, the question: Do I need to change my house or change my habit?

Is there is a space in your home or office that regularly causes you frustration?  A place that has just never seemed to “work” right for you?

If your habit is a problem – you drop stuff where it becomes unsafe, you neglect client files, you are inconsistent with your stuff and the habits around it – then consider changing your habits.

If, however, your habits are sound but the space doesn’t support the habit, consider what you can do to Support the Good Habit and Change the house around it!

Thanks for reading!

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
Online at  http://peaceofmindpo.com
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Creating Productive Work-From-Home Space: National Clean Off Your Desk Day

Last week, I heard from a newly minted college graduate.  She is very excited to start her first  professional position with a national company, working from home.

Hmmm… “Working From Home”.   A quick glance at wikipedia revealed related terms like “telecommuting”, “remote work” or “teleworking”.  This is a growing trend, with many of us working at least some of the time from non-traditional work space.

According to this recent New York Times article,  “More American employees are working remotely, and they are doing so for longer periods… Last year, 43 percent of employed Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely, according to the survey of more than 15,000 adults.”

With this conversation in mind and National Clean Off Your Desk Day (second Monday of January) here again, let’s talk about Organizing Your Work Space for Working-From-Home.  Let’s look at solutions to common Work-From-Home Challenges!

Be Professional and Productive While Working From Home

There are habits we can create to feel professional and productive, no matter where we work.

  • Create a morning routine – get up, work out, eat a healthy breakfast, get clean, etc. – even if your commute is the 10 feet between your living room and office.

    My Company Wellness Program 🙂

  • We all benefit from the clear definition of a start and end to our work day.  If you need separation in your day between personal time and work, go for a run, for Mass, for coffee, or to drop off the kids at school.  Then, come home and boot up!
  • Dress professionally, even if you don’t see another person all day.  No PJs for productivity!
  • We need to minimize distractions (more on this later) working from home, but the opposite is also true.  Remember to walk around and take breaks!

My Company Cafeteria (a.k.a. my kitchen counter!)

 

Stay Connected:

  • A common challenge of working from home is feeling isolated.  Remember, Community comes in many forms.
  • Check with your company!  If your company has teleworking opportunities, they probably also have strategies in place to help employees stay connected.
  • Find a mentor or accountability partner within your company.   You can also ask the professional association attached to your industry, or even just someone you really respect.
  • Join networking or FB groups within your chosen field or geographical community. My FB and networking groups are amazing resources for me as I navigate my day!

Physical Workspace:

  • If you are clear on the Work of your Work, you can probably work from anywhere!
  • No one needs to know where you work!  Some days saying “working from home” doesn’t feel professional, so I might say I’m working “remotely” or “virtually”, whether I’m at a client’s office, my own home office or Starbucks!
  • Your Actual Work Space:
    • If you skype, or have video conference calls, invest in a back drop or standing screen that looks more professional than your family room or basement!
    • Organize your work space, especially if you need to switch from student focus to work focus, like my young friend.  A clean desk helps you focus.  My accountability partner mentioned just last week how much more creative she feels when her work space is organized and clutter free.
  • Need Professional Space for a change of pace or a group project?  Perhaps your team is coming into town for training?  Many communities have available shared professional spaces or  business centers.  For a fee, these centers may offer work spaces, office services such as copiers or fax machines, conference rooms to rent by the hour or day, and even administrative help.   For example, I am a member of BAPA here on the South Side of Chicago, and their business center offers office equipment and conference room space free to paid members.

 

The “Home” part of Working-From-Home

  • Be clear with your house-mates what your tele-working will mean.  You may be home but still on the clock!  (The same goes for pets – one client closes the door and curtains to the back yard, to signal to her faithful furry companions that play time is over!)
  • A closed door can be an arranged signal that quiet time is needed, or that a conference call is in progress!

Consider these ideas when creating your productive work-from-home space!

If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes.

I have an article half written for publication this week regarding great questions a client asked about menu planning.  But that is not the point of this post.

Fact is, my thoughts on the menu-planning article were pushed away this morning by the recurring mantra “If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes”.  (I googled this quote, to give it and it’s author proper credit, but it is unclear as to who actually coined the phrase.)

“If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes.”

This phrase has been rolling around in my head since last night when I co-taught a class with my friend Mark at the Oak Lawn Public Library on Bullet Journaling.  Bullet Journaling is a great productivity tool, and I promised some of the class participants that I would publish more about it soon.  But that is not the point of this post.

“If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes.”

People don’t attend classes because they want everything in their lives to stay exactly the same. People choose to learn about new things because they want to think or do things differently.

“If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes.”

So, what do you want to change about your life, and what are you willing to do differently to create that change?  Some times, change happens to us from the outside.  Sometimes we are the catalyst for change from inside.  In this instance, I am asking YOU what YOU want to change or make better.

“If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes.”

Last Fall, I was asked to make a really big change, to take on a responsibility that would help my community.  One of my very wise sons asked me 3 questions:

  • “What will change, from day to day, if you take this on?”
    • The answer was “I will have to make room in my schedule for these new responsibilities, but I can and am willing to do make the necessary modifications, to let go of a few roles and responsibilities to make room for this new one.”
  • “What GOOD can you do?”
    • This was the more important question for me.  Yes, this big responsibility might be time consuming and a little intimidating, but the idea of the GOOD that could come from the change was enough to inspire me to act.
  • And, “What did Dad (my husband) say when you told him?”  That one made us both laugh!

Change is exciting and motivating and energizing.  It can also be occasionally terrifying, uncomfortable and paralyzing.  Change can be difficult.

What if the change is the wrong change?

Yes, but what if it’s the right one?

What if change is awkward or hard or uncomfortable?

Yes, but what if it’s not?

“If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes.”

There is an old adage that I read recently, “There are 7 frogs on a log, and one decided to jump. How many are frogs are on the log?”

The answer, of course, is 7.  Until that one frog actually jumps, there are still 7 frogs on the log.  Decision making is important, of course, but real change only comes from Action.

“If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes.”

So, think your thoughts, dream your dreams and make your plans. Then act.

Take that single small first step towards change on your own terms.  Jump off that log.  Because “If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes.”

Put Stuff Away Before You Take Anything Else Out

Have you ever noticed?  When we are excited about an upcoming adventure / event / road trip, our first reaction is to jump in and start pulling things out to get ready.

Perhaps we are packing for a trip.  We’re leaving in the morning, so we run to the closet or dresser drawers, and start pulling out clothes and piling them on top of a potentially already cluttered dresser or bed.

Sometimes, we have a project for work that must be done right away, and we spread it out on top of the projects already on our desk or work space.

Maybe we’re famished and we need to start dinner, so we pull things out of the fridge to the already crowded counter and then wonder why cooking is such a hassle.

AHHHHH!!! Let me suggest a better way:

  • STOP!
  • Put your stuff away before you start pulling more things out.
  • Just 5 or 10 minutes of clearing out and cleaning up will help you find focus and clarity and a clear work space!
  • As you tidy up, craft your packing list or project plan in your mind.   Then, when your mind and space are de-cluttered, jump in to action!

Let’s go back to packing for that trip.  Take 5 minutes and hang up that pile of stuff on the dresser or bedpost (you know, THAT pile).  Locate and put away your clean laundry, pulling out items you want to take along with you.  Then pull out your suitcase or satchel and get packing!

Need to pack up more orders for shipment?  Finish the ones from yesterday and load them in the van.  THEN… start on the new ones.  A clear work space is always going to make the job go more smoothly!

Back to that new project for work?  Take the 5 minutes to clear up the old project, so the two don’t get mixed up.

Friends coming for dinner, and you just got home with all the groceries? Before you turn on the oven or open one package, take 5 minutes and put your groceries away, setting aside the supplies you need to make dinner on a tray or cookie sheet, and wipe clean the counter.  Just those few moments of putting away and getting ready will make your meal prep a lot easier!

I always encourage action instead of inaction, but we should also be taking the RIGHT action. So, clear and clean up before you leap in and give your next actions some thought.  Then go ahead and jump!

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;

Please contact me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Maybe this statement resonates with you, too?

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

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

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

This happens all the time.  While I’m:

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

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

 

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.

Ways to Make Monday Mornings Less Icky

Sometimes, Mondays are rough. I get it.  There are simple things you can do to make them less icky, though.  Here are 6 common complaints, and some ideas to make them better!

“I always feel so frazzled on Monday morning!”

Invest an hour on Sunday to help you hit the ground running Monday.  Put the laundry away (or start a load), run the dishwasher, lay out your clothes for the morning, take out the trash, run the sweeper, pack your lunch for Monday.  60 minutes on Sunday will improve all 24 hours of Monday!

“Monday morning is a fog, and the day slips away before I get anything done.”

Before you leave work on Friday, or sometime over the weekend, take a glance at your schedule for  the week, and jot down some tasks and to-dos to help you be productive first thing Monday morning.  Map your plan for your Monday and for your week, to guide your actions.  Also, since the Monday morning email load can also be overwhelming, spend 5 minutes first thing Monday morning (or Sunday night) immediately and ruthlessly deleting anything  you don’t need to read, and flagging the important emails to find later for a response.

“The weekend is over, and the next one is 5 whole days away!”

Yes, I know.  I can’t help you too much with this one.  Two tips:

  • Let me channel my inner Dread Pirate Roberts and say “get used to disappointment”.  This happens  EVERY week, so the best thing you can do is stop being sad about it.dread pirate robers
  • Spend a few minutes on Monday planning something fun for next weekend, to look forward to throughout the week!

“I’m so tired…  I didn’t sleep very well last night.”

Stick to your usual waking time over the weekend, within an hour or so.  If you usually wake up at 5:30 on a weekday, set your alarm for no later than 6:30 on the weekend.  And as delicious as a weekend nap is, keep it to 30 minutes.  Both of these ideas help keep Sunday Night Insomnia (yes, that’s really a thing) away.  Sunday Night Insomnia happens when we’re stressed about the week to come, plus we have stayed up and slept late for two days, messing up our sleep hygiene (yes, that also really is a thing).

“I’m not feeling very well, maybe I’m coming down with something.”

Um, or, maybe not.  Don’t go crazy with specialty foods or beverages.  Indulge a bit, of course, at family parties or special dinners or out at the bars with friends, but don’t go too crazy or you will start your week feeling sluggish or even a little ill.  I know folks who follow strict diets during the week and save their “cheat” days for the weekend, and then wonder why they feel crummy Monday morning.

“Ugh, Monday.  I just feel blah…”

In addition to good sleep hygiene and a healthy diet, maintain other healthy habits on the weekend, too.  If you exercise all week, exercise on the weekends, too – maybe even changing it up, with a hike or bike ride with friends.  Take your vitamins, meditate, stay hydrated – whatever it is that you do to get through a week, do it on the weekend, too.

Like anything in life, we can take what we have and make a rough situation better, just by making better choices!  How else can you improve your Monday?

Small Business Week: How to NOT Overbook Your Calendar

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

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

No judgement here.  Been there, done that.

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

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

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

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

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