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:

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!

Snow Day – No Car Day!

What did you do on your snow day? If you don’t live in East Tennessee you may be saying, “What snow day?”  We can wake up to several inches of snow. Really, it is nice being home, feeling good and not having a choice to leave.  It is also a great opportunity for a Snow Day Organizing project!

One of my clients with young children says she tries to plan “No Car Days.” That would probably do a lot to reduce our stress as adults if we did that regularly. This area of the country isn’t equipped like the North to clean the roads quickly, and with our hills, mountains and curvy roads, it is smarter to stay home.

On one snow day, I slept in, fixed pancakes for breakfast and then conquered a project on my list – dug through, cleaned out and organized (putting like items together) several drawers of tablecloths and stuff like that.

I did drag my daughter in to show her which ones were family pieces, so in case I croak someone would know where the older ones came from. Maybe I should practice what I preach and label them with their history.

Don’t ask me why they were in these drawers, but at the bottom were several board games, such as Mother Goose. They will stay out because shortly my 3-year old granddaughter will be ready to play them. That is fun to think about!

In the afternoon, I read a book and relaxed. Tomorrow I plan to try a recipe I dug out that I used to make as a teenager, Spanish Cream. Now, if you have looked at my picture on the website, you will realize that that wasn’t yesterday. I wonder if I will even like it, but it will be interesting to see.

I also took a walk in the woods and enjoyed the beautiful snow.

So what do you do on your day at home?

Are You Always Running Late?

Do you often find yourself asking, “Why am I always running late, although I think I am leaving on time?” Running late creates Mind Clutter and negative mind chatter.

The solution is to understand The Gap. Planning for The Gap will get you to work and to business meetings on time. Plan for The Gap any time you have a set time you need to arrive somewhere.

You are probably wondering, “What is the Gap?” The Gap is the difference between when you think you are leaving and when you actually leave. Standing in your kitchen and telling yourself it is time to leave for work 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, such as a bottle of water or feeding the cat. If you allow 10 minutes for The Gap, you’re probably safe. If you have children, 15 minutes may be more realistic.

Once you are at work, planning for The Gap will also help you get to meetings or appointments on time. Just as when you are leaving your house, The Gap includes the time it takes to gather materials for a meeting and tie up any loose ends.

Work through these steps while planning for The Gap:
– What time are you expected to be at your desk? What time is your appointment or meeting?
– Decide what time you could arrive and have a few minutes to breathe and be calm.
– Take into consideration what time you need to plan to leave if traffic is heavy or if you need to gather materials for your meeting or do one-more-thing.
– Determine the time you normally would plan to leave for work or for your meeting.
– Now add 10-15 minutes so you can arrive on time and stress-free.

Another thing to be aware of is “one-more-thing-itis”. This also can make you late for work or for a meeting. You could leave now but that means you might arrive a few minutes early so you think, “ I can do one more thing”. That is what gets many of us, including me, in trouble because the one-more-thing takes longer than you thought or it leads to another one-more-thing.

The key is to be okay with leaving a few minutes early. For those of us who fear that we might end up wasting 10 minutes with nothing to do if we get somewhere early, keep a book or an unread magazine in your car or spend the time reviewing your calendar.

Changing our departure habits takes focusing on the clock and being realistic. Planning for The Gap will get you to work and to business meetings on time. Once I started planning for The Gap, I was no longer pulling out of my driveway stressed or leaving my office uptight. In fact, my whole day went much better. See if you don’t feel the same positive effects.

Three P’s to Peaceful School Mornings

Lost shoes, lost reports and lost keys, the clock seems to be running on double – THE SCHOOL
YEAR BEGINS. No, I am not peeking into your house, but many parents describe this kind of hectic
morning to me.

As a mother of seven grown children, I know mornings can be hectic. Since I survived and also
since I am a Professional Organizer, here are some tips to ease the beginning of each day by
planning, purging and paper handling…

Create a Plan
Get the family together over a dish of ice cream and brainstorm for ideas to meet everyone’s
needs. Listen to each person’s input. The kindergartner’s suggestion may be the best.

Routines keep everyone calmer so the night before…
• Set out planned breakfast items
• Everyone, including Mom and Dad, pick out clothes for the next day
• Divide the house into sections – each person takes an assigned room and spends a few minutes
returning items where they belong
• Take a few minutes in the evening to come together and discuss plans each family member has for the
next day
• If Mom and Dad get up 30 minutes earlier and get dressed before the children get up, it allows time to
handle any problems that arise

Purge, Purge, Purge
This is the time to simplify.

Help young ones go through their room and eliminate the old stuff. They will probably be
willing to throw out many of last year’s school papers. The ones they want to keep can be put
into a sentimental box.

Share old toys with the needy. Sorting through their room is often overwhelming for children to
do. Sometimes it is too stressful for a parent and child to do together, so possibly an older
sibling, aunt or grandparent could help them. As a professional organizer, I also work with
children and since I am a “neutral person,” this works out well.

This is also a good time of year for parents and children to organize their closets so that
selecting clothes to wear will be easier.

Tame the Papers Problem
Have a plan for incoming and outgoing papers. It is not so important what you do with a piece
of paper but that you do follow the plan consistently.

Place all papers that need to be signed in a specific, designated area, possibly a basket near
the door that everyone comes in.

Have a system so children know where their papers will be the next morning. For example, you
may return the papers to them or they may be by their place at breakfast. It is not so important
what you do but that you do it consistently.

Keep papers needed for future dates in one place.

Have one location where everyone writes upcoming events, giving each family member a different color pen to use.

Simple Steps to Organization
Plan a routine, give everyone something on the evening To-Do List, decide how school papers will be
handled, and take the time to purge rooms and closets – these are all simple steps we each can
take to help our families be less stressed on mornings during the school year.

Getting your children off to school is more than just getting them out of our door and into the school’s
door. We want them to feel loved, and we also want to have time to listen to our children as they talk. It is
important to be able to give them a hug and smile as we part for the day. Allow some extra time, because
the unexpected will happen – but with good planning and simple organization, we can handle the
unexpected without unnecessary difficulty.

Time Management When Children Are Home

Did I have a big reminder of how little you get done with a 2 year old at your feet!

My granddaughter Ava and I were spending some special time together. By 11 o’clock that morning, I finally
had the kitchen cleaned up from breakfast.

I had a big laugh when I thought about what I teach on procrastination. You may have heard me use the illustration about emptying a dishwasher: Emptying the dishwasher is a 3 -5 minute project, so it is just as easy to “Do It Now!” and get the job done. But you can count on that being an hour project or more when you have a little one helping, interrupting, and causing you to stop and play.

About the time the kitchen was cleaned up, it was time to start lunch. Nap time (hers) was when I finally put on my make-up and real clothes. After all, I needed to look presentable. We were going to the hospital for Ava
to see her new, adopted baby sister.

Having raised 7 children, I had to stop and think how much it helped when the older ones had
assigned chores like emptying the dishwasher. I remembered when my 3 boys were small, we would laugh and say that we didn’t worry about the house getting broken into. If the would-be burglar didn’t break his neck on all the toys on the sidewalk, he would end up falling over all the ride toys in the living room. Someone once asked me what my decorating style was and I said “toys, toys and more toys.” Actually it has never changed – now there are cat toys scattered on the floor.

I may be an organizer but children come first. Organization should support you and not control you. Little ones grow up so quickly. I find it hard to believe my youngest is 35. Given the choice between organizing and spending time with your children, my recommendation is to spend time with your family!

Organizing Tip 1. Put family first in your life – you can empty the dishwasher later.
Organizing Tip 2. There is a funny side to almost everything – lighten up!
Organizing Tip 3. No one expects you to be SuperMom. It is better to be super-loved.

Summer Is Meant to be Enjoyed

Is this the right time to do organizing projects?

Questions to ask yourself:
• While my children home, do I want to spend time with them?
• Do I have company coming to stay?
• Isn’t summer my time to take a vacation, relax, and enjoy the outdoors?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these, maybe it would be better to scratch organizing projects off your
To-Do List and put them on your calendar for fall. Sometimes telling yourself “I am just going to work on maintaining the house” is more realistic and takes the pressure off so you can enjoy the summer.

If you do have a project that you really want to get done so you can mark it off your list, give us
a call – we can help you do it quickly so summer can still be yours to enjoy.

Working with us takes the overwhelming out of projects!

Schedule Some Downtime This Summer

How many autumns have begun and you’ve said, “Summer has gone by in a blur and I didn’t even enjoy it, I was so busy at work”?

Before we know it, we will be looking at fall leaves. It is not too late to make changes that can make our summer fun, relaxing and invigorating.

One of my clients says she can’t break her habit of working late, and that leaves her no time to do extra things with her children. We decided the best cure was to plan an activity and tell the children so she was obligated to leave the office.

Are you saying to yourself, “But I need to work late to get things done?”

I too can be proud of my accomplishments when I stay in my office late into the evening, but if I am honest I’ll admit that I wipe out that productivity by being tired and sluggish the next morning, even if I am sitting at my desk. Is that also true for you?

To quote Canadian time management specialist Harold Taylor, “Working long hours makes you good at one thing — working long hours. It does not increase either your efficiency or effectiveness. Any anticipated increase in personal productivity is usually offset by a lower work pace, additional error, more frequent self-generated distractions, decreased creativity, and a decline in energy and motivation.”

So how do you enjoy this summer?

Get out your calendar and write down on specific days specific things you want to do. Call others and make a commitment with them to do these things. Giving yourself downtime will not only be good for your health and give you a more positive outlook in life, but it will also be good for your business and career.

How many of us get our best ideas in the shower when we are relaxed? Don’t be surprised if brilliant ideas come to you when you are at the pool or in the hammock. Jot them down and relax again.

While we are on the subject of balance, sleep habits must be addressed. Short-changing your sleep is totally unproductive. Science News reports, “People who get by on a modest sleep deficit are often not aware of their shrinking thinking capabilities and don’t feel particularly drowsy.” Studies show that being tired can decrease our productivity by as much as 35 percent. Michal Skalski of a sleep disorder clinic in Poland reports, “Someone who sleeps little is under permanent stress.” The bottom line — if you want to be more productive, get a good night’s sleep.

Just a reminder, when you are doing something for fun or relaxing, turn off your cell phone. The world will not come to an end if you are not connected to it. In fact you will relax more and have real communication with the real people you are with. Isn’t that what life is really about?

It is not too late to make this summer full of great memories. Take a few minutes and think about what you want this summer to look like and get out your calendar and make definite plans.

Remember, having a balanced schedule will make you better at your job in every respect.