Checking in on you during stressful times!

I hope you’re staying safe and healthy. These are certainly unusual and stressful times. I appreciate all of you who sent notes and ideas for how you’re using your time. I have included a list of some of them at the end of this blog.

In my last blog, I mentioned that puzzles are good for relaxation and family togetherness. I haven’t gotten very far with my puzzle . . . guess who wanted to help? I hope your family members are more helpful than Oliver.

We are at home now more . . .

Since we are all home more now and probably doing more cooking, this is also a good time to make a list of what is in your freezer and use up things that need to be used. My daughter and I cooked a large ham that had been sitting in the freezer for a long time.

It is also a good time to look in your pantry for older or unique items that you bought on a whim but haven’t used. There were a couple of things that I found that just got tossed. But I did use a box of spinach, kale, broccoli and lentil noodles that I had been ignoring. Surprisingly, they tasted really good.

It is helpful to create uplifting routines for your day. When under stress, routines can actually make us feel calmer. Be sure to include getting out in the sun and walking.

Ideas from others . . .

Here are some of the ideas that others sent me of what they’re doing during isolation:

  • showing appreciation for all the people in my life,
  • creating a Jeopardy quiz to play with friends,
  • going through all my recipes,
  • working Wysock puzzles,
  • weeding out my clothes,
  • keeping my windows open to listen tot he birds as much as possible,
  • taking long walks,
  • decluttering.

Let me know what you’re doing, and I will continue to add things to the list.

Stay safe and healthy!

How Are You Doing at Home?

We are living in unusual times, full of stress.  I hope you are all well and that you have the supplies you need.  This is the time to focus on self care.  Are there projects at home that you have said you wish you could do if only you had the time?

This is not the time to tackle huge projects that will raise your stress level.  In other posts, you can find some tips for working on small projects at home.

I am trying to take walks.  I found a long book I had put away to read and that has become one of my projects.  My yard gives me plenty of time to do what I call “Weed Therapy” – a friend says she has a weed garden and mine could be called that also.

Reader’s Digest had an article saying that jigsaw puzzles are good for anxiety and encourage family togetherness.  The last few winters I said I was going to do one, so tomorrow I am getting a puzzle out.  My cat thinks we are having family togetherness when he is trying to knock puzzle pieces on the floor so now I have a large piece of plexiglass to cover the puzzle when I am not working on it.

Jigsaw puzzles are good for anxiety and encourage family togetherness!

Let me know what you are doing to stay busy.  I would love to share a list of suggestions!

Overwhelmed at Your Desk? Try Standing Up

Andrea standing at her desk

You may have seen on NBC’s “Today Show” the standing desk weatherman Al Roker has in his office. Or possibly you read The Washington Post report that 10 percent of AOL employees in Dulles, Virginia use standing desks.

Are you wondering if standing desks are the new “flavor of the month”? Not so!

Doctors point to research showing higher rates of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and even mortality among people who sit for long stretches of time. That is not why I started advocating standing to work, but it can be strong motivation.

Standing is not a new concept in working efficiently. Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill and Ernest Hemingway worked and wrote standing up, and Albert Einstein theorized standing up. Standing certainly worked for them.

I am not suggesting tossing your comfortable chair and office desk. In my office, I have a standard office desk and chair plus an art table that I use as a standing desk. I alternate between the two, depending on what I am doing.

Research has shown you have more blood in your brain when you are on your feet. Therefore, you are more decisive and make better and faster decisions. In addition, your paper stacks are not in your face. Subconsciously, you are bigger than the stack and so you feel more able to conquer it. When a client and I are trying to conquer a Mount Everest stack of papers, we tackle the job while standing unless health issues dictate otherwise.

One day I was working with a client whose paper stack would have reached the ceiling. After standing for a while, he asked, “Can we sit and do this?” I agreed, but when I later mentioned that I find this work goes faster when people are on their feet, he started to chuckle. I asked him what was funny. He said, “You are right. Ever since I sat down, I am reading the front and back of each piece of paper before I throw it away.” Back on his feet he went and soon his important papers were secured into a system that he felt comfortable using.

Need more motivation to try standing for some of your work? A Yale University study revealed that people who sit for more than half a day at work have a 60 to 70 percent greater risk of slipping a disk than their mobile coworkers.

When should you stand?
– When work feels complicated
– When you dislike a job
– When you have lots of papers to sort
– When it’s your body’s down time and you still need to be productive
– When your back is tired from sitting
– When you are returning to your office loaded with handfuls of papers
– If you are on e-mail overload and have a portable computer

A client of mine with attention deficit disorder said the suggestion to stand took away his tension. He was able to focus more clearly and stick with work longer. Schools that provide stand-up desks for their ADD students see a huge improvement in their work.

How can you put standing in your office into practice?

Once you find how effective this is, you may want to look at a permanent standing desk. Companies offer an addition you can use on a desktop or other surface, adjustable to your height. And, if you are really into multitasking, there are companies that sell a standing desk with a treadmill.

Today there are many great options when buying a standing desk but this also makes it confusing.  This link to Consumer Advocate evaluates and gives recommendations on purchasing a standing desk.  There is also useful information on how to decide which desk will best meet your needs.

Standing can be a simple and smart way to refocus your energy and work smarter.

Steps to Make 2020 a Successful Year

What Has Happened to Your BIG Plans/Goals for 2020?

It is several weeks into the new year and, if you are like most people, your big plans and goals have fallen by the wayside.

Here are simple steps to get back on track:

Do a “Mind Clearing”

  1. Make a list of all the projects that are on your mind for business and home.
  2. Pick one project from business and one from home.
  3. Write out the steps for each project. Yes – write the steps down.
  4. Get your calendar and plug in the dates to work on the first steps for each project. This is vital for success!
  5. After you have completed the first step on a project, ask yourself, “What is the next step?”
  6. Again, put this step on your calendar. Keep this process up until the project is completed.
  7. Step back and admire your completed project. Do something to celebrate your success!
  8. Now go back to your list and decide what the next project is and follow the same system to complete it.

Trying to think about all the numerous steps of a project is overwhelming.  Following this process breaks it down and makes it feel doable.

This is taken from page 11 of my e-book, Reduce Mind Clutter – Feel the Freedom. Learn more successful strategies to reduce your stress and accomplish your goals.

Order your copy today for only $4.95 from Clutter-free & Organized!

Reduce End of Year Stress

This organizing tip is taken from page 11 of my ebook, Reduce Mind Clutter – Feel the Freedom.

Feel like you are on overload?

“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the nobler art of leaving things undone.” – Lin Yutang, Chinese scientist

Give yourself permission to cross some items off your list, or at least say, “Not this year.”  One of my clients used an expression that I love.  When she was working on one area and became concerned about another, she just said to that area, “It’s not your turn!”

Learn more about controlling your To-Do List and reducing stress from my ebook, Reduce Mind Clutter – Feel the Freedom.  Order the ebook from the Products page of this website.

Need a boost to get 2020 started?  Phone Coaching Works!

“Mary helped me bring balance to my home life and my work life.  I feel so much better.  I feel like a caged bird who has been set free.  I just had my evaluation for work, and it has never been better.  Thank you Mary for the phone coaching!” – Sherry, phone coaching client

Call me to schedule a 15-minute “Focus Session” to give you a feel for how Phone Coaching works and how beneficial it can be.

These phone sessions are active working sessions.  In addition, the sessions will leave you with a plan to keep moving forward.  While we work, you will also have the chance to learn organizing strategies that will make a long-lasting difference in your life.

My Dishwasher Phobia

Another tip from my book You Can Be Clutter-free & Organized: Fast, Easy Organizing Solutions for Paper Piles and the Office . . .

One of the things that gets in the way of keeping (or getting!) things organized is the many small jobs that overwhelm us. Sometimes just thinking about them raises our blood pressure. In addition, if it is a job you hate to do, it might just feel like it takes longer than it actually does. See page 28 of my book for this organizing tip!

Try the 3-5 Minute Rule. If something takes 3-5 minutes, don’t delay acting on it. Do it right then and there.

Like I say in my book, I hate to empty the dishwasher because there are so many things in there it seems like it will take forever to empty!  But in reality, it always takes me less than 5 minutes, and I feel great when it is done.

Try and use the 3-5 Minute Rule to combat procrastination, and remember, those jobs we tend to avoid probably won’t take as long as we feel they will.

Book Bonus: Books make a nice gift for a friend or for yourself.  For each You Can Be Clutter-free & Organized book you order in December, as a bonus you will also receive the e-book Reduce Mind Clutter – Feel the Freedom for free.

Order today from my website Clutter-free & Organized!

Gift Idea: Help change someone’s life. Give an organizing session or a phone consultation.  Gift certificates are available – information is on the website.

Shop at Home!

Do you have Clutter-Collecting Thinking Traps that keep you stuck on a project?

In my book, You Can Be Clutter-free & Organized: Fast, Easy Organizing Solutions for Paper Piles and the Office, you will learn Organizing Success One-Liners to reduce your stress and get you un-stuck!

Clutter-Collecting Thinking Trap:

I have all these gifts to shop for and so much to do.

Organizing Success One-Liner:

Collect all the un-given gifts you have stacked away. Start your own gift store and remember to shop at home first!

Book Bonus!

Books make a nice gift for a friend or for yourself. For each You Can Be Clutter-free & Organized book you order in December, as a bonus you will also receive the e-book Reduce Mind Clutter – Feel the Freedom for free!

Order today from my website Clutter-free & Organized!

Practicing “Do It Now!” instead of “I’ll Do This Later!”

I love the saying “Later is not a day on the calendar.” Practicing “Do It Now” will make your day better!

Don’t we all have things we would rather not do?  I know that I do.

Think about the dreaded phone call that gives you a knot in your stomach thinking about so you put it off to do later . . . Research has shown that something interesting happens when we put off an unpleasant task.

Until you do the task, everything you do that day will take longer!  So when you hear yourself say, “I’ll do it later,” let that be a red flag to ask yourself: why?

  • If it takes less than 3 to 5 minutes, DO IT NOW!
  • Will you have any more information in an hour?  In a day?  In a week?  If not, DO IT NOW!
  • If you don’t want to do it now, will you want to do it later?  If not, DO IT NOW!

You will be so much more productive and feel great for the rest of the day! For areas in your home to practice “Do It Now!”, visit our Clutter-free & Organized website.

End Kitchen Counter Clutter

Do you have kitchen counter clutter? Try this strategy to put an end to the clutter.

Start on the left side and pick up each item on your counter as you go around and ask, “How often do I use this?” Whenever I do this exercise with clients they are always so pleased to have a calmer kitchen counter!

Follow these 3 guidelines:

  • If an item is used once a day, it needs to be within arm’s reach. Example: If you drink coffee every morning, put all the coffee items together near the coffee pot.
  • If an item is only used once a week, you can look for it in a lower cabinet.
  • If an item is not used often, you could walk to another area to get it, such as a pantry, or store on a higher shelf.
kitchen counter clutter

For more kitchen clutter strategies as well as other areas of your house, see these organizing tips from the Clutter-free & Organized website.

Do I Need to Look at Old Papers?

Recently I was with a client going through bins of old papers from a relative’s house who had passed a number of years ago. The estate had been settled, but she still had tons of papers left from the house. These were the treasures that were found!

Fourteen property deeds were found from the 1800s with the most beautiful handwriting that you can imagine. Look at the address on the envelope – it only has the man’s name and his county – yet he received it! These treasures will all be donated to the county historical society.

With other clients I have found important items such as the family cemetery deed, checks, money and historic family pictures.

So the answer to the question, “Should I look at old papers?” is “Yes!” But do it quickly – standing will make this project go faster. Your eye is looking for treasures such as old stock certificates or other important papers that may have value.