Shopping for a New Planner or Calendar

Now is the time that people begin to shop around for a new calendar or planner. The key to getting the right planner is to think about what your personal needs are.

For years, I’ve bought planners with a sectioned area for day-to-day, and used these pages as scrap paper. What I always used was the 2-page month calendar and that was all I needed to purchase.

Using the wrong calendar is like wearing the wrong size shoes. So gear your organization to what fits you, whether you are a techie person who likes using your phone and online calendars or a pen and paper organizer.

No matter which you choose, always remember to fill it with things that are only important to you. After all, this is your agenda. Using the right calendar will make you more efficient, organized and productive!

Some suggestions for planners:

Time Blocking for Stress and Time Management

A strategy that I often recommend for stress and time management for my clients, and use myself, is time blocking.  Sometimes I create my own stress by being guilty of “one-more-thing-it is”.  Thinking that I have time to do one more thing before I leave the house means that I’m often panting as I race out the door. The solution is to divide my time into blocks to organize my day.

Here’s an example of a typical day:

  • a trip into town for a doctor’s appointment,
  • followed by a quick drive back to my house to throw casseroles into the oven to heat for a luncheon my daughter was giving 30 miles away (yes, I did cheat by raising the oven temp higher than required),
  • then I made the trip to the luncheon, helped my daughter serve the food, and collapsed in a chair to enjoy what I must say was a delicious meal.

If I hadn’t time-blocked on paper my needs for the day, I would have never been able to meet these deadlines!

In the ADHD Time Management class I taught recently, this was an “AHA!” moment for several – learning to time-block what it will take to get out of the house in the morning.

Stress management is a part of most work days. Today I watched the horses roll outside the window of my country office. And I was able to breathe and relieve some stress.

When speaking to a group of high stress medical professionals, I reminded them that 60 to 90% of visits to the doctor are stress-related. A workable solution? Short breaks to be used for deep breathing. This brief break can change your perspective – mental and physical!

Look at a photo of people you love, imagine a paradise vacation, or, in my case, watch the horses rolling in the field…and breathe!

Organizing Tip 1: Use time blocks to schedule your day.

Organizing Tip 2:  Write out the time blocks on paper.

Organizing Tip 3: Schedule in time to breath and de-stress.

Check my website for more strategies for stress and time management.

An Office Makeover to Boost Productivity

Veggettes office before organizing

Two types of change can be made during an office makeover that will both boost productivity. The first has to do with our physical environment and the second relates to our work habits.

Workspace Changes

First we will focus on when we need to make changes to our physical environment, the actual workspace itself, and how to do it.

Productivity increases with an office that is current with your work, your position and job description. However, frequently what I see is an office where the current work is stacked up on the desk and the file cabinet and desk drawers are filled with ancient history.

Here are some hints to help you decide if you would benefit from an office makeover.

  • You have a new job title or job description in the same company. This may mean you have changed offices or you could still be at the same desk.
  • You are working for a different company.
  • You are now working from home.
  • You are in business for yourself and your company has changed direction in what it offers and/or you have new products.

If none of the above apply, but you are losing items and your office looks like a windstorm came through, it is time to tackle the job of purging and setting up current systems. This also is a good way to organize your mind for your current work, and it will reduce your working stress. Things that are hanging around our office are not only cluttering up the physical space but are also creating mind clutter.

Work Habits

Let’s review the above scenarios and the pitfalls they present for your office:

  • We tend to hang on to material from old projects and committees on which we serve. Now is the time to toss this material or pass it on to someone else. The same goes for newsletters by mail or by email that don’t pertain to your current job. If this is a new position, it often makes sense to keep some of the previous person’s material until you get familiar with your new work. What is not okay, and what I often see, is the material still filling up desk drawer space two years later. Open up your desk and see if this is true for you.
  • If you found yourself taking boxes home or with you to your new office “just in case,” it is time to do the purge. Sometimes I see boxes and more boxes taking up space years later that have no value.
  • You are now working from home. If you are not careful, your new office can creep into the other rooms of your house. It also is important to keep your time organized because another pitfall is that you may find yourself working all hours. Some of my clients find it helpful to close the office door and actually put up a sign saying “Office Closed” to give them some separation from their work.
  • For those who are in business for themselves, as I am, it is important for your office to keep step with what your business is right now. Purchasing another filing cabinet is not the answer. A client wanted to buy a new filing cabinet before I came so we would be able to file his current work. I suggested he wait. Turns out three of his four file drawers were filled with information that had nothing to do with his current business. Money and space were saved by getting his office current.
See the Results

You can check out pictures with the results of hard work that made office spaces less cluttered from the Business page of my website.

Change in your office can be very freeing — making your office more organized, look better and feel bigger. Another huge benefit of reducing your office clutter and your mind clutter is that you will be more focused, more productive and accomplish more with less stress.

Getting Unstuck on Organizing Projects

Organize your home for spring

Recently, I was really stuck on an organizing project – pulling together the information for a presentation. The material that I needed were in my office.  Many of you have read about or visited my cute little country office. (You can see photos and read about it on my website.)  It is a great place to work but, for some reason, I felt like I was going around in circles.  I was making little progress and knew that I needed a change.

I took the file box with all the information I had gathered and moved it from my office to the dining room table in my house. It isn’t finished, and papers are covering the table, but at least I’m working on it. Try changing locations from where you usually work to see if it will help you, too.

I was making progress by working at the dining room table, but decided I really would like to eat dinner on the table also! The project is now divided up into do-able sections that I have returned to the file box. Dividing projects into do-able, manageable parts is a great way to move forward.  

I’m working on it each day, and can now see that my presentation will be ready…soon, I hope!

Organizing Tip 1: Recognize when you are stuck on a project and need to do something differently.

Organizing Tip 2: Change locations – moving the project/box or whatever you need to do to another location makes it seem do-able.

Organizing Tip 3: Divide and conquer to really make a project feel more do-able.

closet organizing

Tips for Lean and Loved Closet Organizing

If you are planning a closet organizing project, here’s how you can have a lean closet full of clothes that you love!

L is for Lean – Less is Best . . . We wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. All those other items are just space hogs keeping you from putting great outfits together because you can’t easily see what you have.

L is for Love – Keep only Clothes that you Love. . . Wearing clothes that you love makes your day brighter. Get rid of all of your guilt clothes – you aren’t wearing them anyway.

Having a hard time deciding? Here is the Golden Question: Would you buy the item if you saw it in a store today?

Does organizing your closet make you feel overwhelmed? Maybe it’s time to call for help. I frequently organize closets with women and men, so give me a call.

Together we can make it happen quickly!

organizing quiz

Organizing Quiz: How Organized Are You?

Take this four question organizing quiz to see how organized you are.  Total your points and score yourself at the end of the quiz.

Question: Can you find important items quickly?

In the last 2 weeks, I have spent time I didn’t have looking for something = 4 pts.

In the last month, I have spent time looking for something, but I found it! = 2 pts.

I can put my hands on what I need without stress = 0 pts.

Question: Can you find important papers quickly?

My will and insurance policies are in such a safe place but I can’t find them = 4 pts.

I know where my will and my insurance policies are = 2 pts.

My family knows where my will and insurance policies are. They are up-to-date = 0 pts.

Question: What does my workspace look like?

My desk area looks like a volcano waiting to erupt = 4 pts.

At least my papers are not all over the kitchen counter = 2 pts.

I can be away from home and tell the rest of my family where papers are = 0 pts.

Question: Does your closet need some work?

I have unopened shopping bags in my closet with clothes in them = 4 pts.

When I reorganize my closet, I always purge the clothes that don’t fit = 2 pts.

Thinking about getting my spring clothes out doesn’t stress me = 0 pts.

Now total your points for the answers. If you scored. . .
10 – 16 points. Get help now to reduce your stress level! Call Mary for a complimentary phone coaching session or to schedule a hands-on organizing session. Meanwhile, try to apply one Clutter-free & Organized Tip from the website each week.

6 – 10 points. You’re struggling but we know you will do better! Remember – review the Organizing Golden Rules and apply them regularly. For a more detailed explanation of how they work, get a copy of You Can Be Clutter-free & Organized – Fast, Easy Organizing Solutions for Paper Piles and Your Office, available on the Clutter-free & Organized website.

0 – 5 points. Congratulations! You have been able to “Clutter-free your Mind, Clutter-free your Life” and are enjoying more success with less stress. If your life structure changes, don’t hesitate to call me for a tune up.

Create a Productive Workspace Using Gardening Principles

Are you challenged by a cluttered, disorganized workspace or office?

If so, your love for green living things and gardening may hold the solution.

If you like to garden but are challenged by organizing drawers and work surfaces, think of your workspace as your garden spot. If you can weed your garden, you can de-clutter your office.

It is easy to pull one little weed from your garden, but if you leave it long enough to grow and get established, it becomes a project. The same thing happens when you put off clearing that little stack until tomorrow, then tomorrow, then tomorrow.

Stacks of paper grow just like weeds; eventually, you have a huge stack to tackle.

Weeding and de-cluttering are the same: The sooner you do it, the faster it goes.

You plant tomatoes and lettuce together so that when you select salad vegetables, they are in the same garden spot. “Like items together” is a useful organizing principle. Following this principle in your office tells you where to put things and where to retrieve them.

It is best to weed or plant in one garden row at a time. Likewise, organize one area at a time in your office — just a desk or drawer. Finish it completely before moving to the next spot.

Seasoned gardeners plant kitchen herbs where they are easy to reach before the evening meal. Apply the organizing principle “Prime Items in Prime Space” in your office by putting the most frequently used items in the easiest places to reach.

The wisest gardeners weed a little each day. Most of us don’t have the time or energy to weed the entire garden at once. Organize your workspace in short sessions — perhaps 15 to 30 minutes at a time. It is simpler to make the smaller decisions, and you’ll be motivated by feelings of satisfaction and completion.

When your garden has the flowers that please you and the vegetables you enjoy, your garden is successful. Likewise, the definition of good office organization is “you like it and it works.” If you like how you’ve arranged your workspace, if you can find what you need, if you can be productive, then you have achieved good organization.

When we feel overwhelmed or we need to make huge changes in our yard, the smartest and most economical decision is to hire a landscaper. Similarly, when organizing is a personal challenge, hiring a professional organizer can be an excellent, tax-deductible investment for a business.

As you accomplish each task, no matter how small, stop and pat yourself on the back for the progress you have made. That will motivate you to do another area. Your efforts will definitely increase your productivity and be well worth the time you invest.

planning

The Key to Arriving on Time – “The Gap”

Planning: I am always running late, although I leave on time. The key to arriving on time is planning for “The Gap”.

Standing in your kitchen and saying it is time to leave is not planning for “The Gap.”

The time you actually leave is when you pull out of the driveway and go on your way.

“The Gap” includes the time it takes you to go out the door, get into the car, and pull out of the driveway.

“The Gap” may also include going back to the house for something you forgot, like feeding the cat.

If you allow 10 minutes for “The Gap”, you’re probably safe. If you have children, 15 minutes is more realistic.

Practice planning for “The Gap” and see how you reduce your stress. Make it a key time management tool in your personal and professional life. “The Gap” theory is also key to getting to meetings at work
on time!

I would love to have your feedback on how planning for “The Gap” makes a difference for
you.

Fun Ways to Look at Organizing Projects

An organizing project can be fun if you look at the task with these strategies in mind:

1. Think of your project as a Treasure Hunt – which is much more fun than saying “I am going to go through my clutter!” I have never worked with a client who during the day didn’t exclaim, “I am so
glad I found this…!”

2. Make a detailed list of the different Areas to Tackle. Check off each area and feel the sense
of accomplishment!

3. Any boxes or bags that leave your space are called Trophies! Some businesses and families that I work with have a contest to see who has the most and even take pictures of the group in front of their Trophies. Count yours and be proud. You may want to take before/after pictures.

4. Jump-Start the project by getting out supplies and making your list the night before. Remember that a job begun is a job half-done.

5. Get out your WOW! sheet and put it in the area you have completed. Look at your accomplishments – not what you still have to do. This will motivate you to keep going.

6. From my experience of teaching classes and presenting seminars, I hear people getting
discouraged because they have tried to tackle too big of a project. Remember the turtle – slow
and steady wins the Organizing and Productivity Award. Think small!

Conquering Mind Clutter

We often think of organization in the context of things and possessions, but often it is our Mind Clutter that prevents us from achieving our potential.

Tips for Conquering Mind Clutter:

1. Do a Mind Clearing of all the items on your “To Do List” by writing them down on a piece of paper
2. Next ask yourself how important each is on scale of 1 -10
3. Give yourself permission to delegate or eliminate as many items from your list as possible
4. The items that remain on the list then go on the “Must-Do List” and should be written on your calendar.

Time management will aid in working efficiently to complete your new “Must-Do List.” Block 15-minute uninterrupted segments to focus on a project, and only ask of yourself to complete a task one-step at a time.