5 Things My Mom Taught Me About Organizing and Productivity

Depositphotos_25892317_l-2015 thanksmomHappy Mother’s Day to all of you wonderfully inspiring moms!

You remember those sayings, demands, chores, urgings and advisories from mom?! You know those things that it took you almost a lifetime to realize where actually life lessons and values intended to make you the best person ever. I’ve lived a little and thought it would be fun idea for this holiday to reflect on what my mom taught me.  When thinking about specifics to include for this article I texted my mom and asked “what did you try to teach us that connects to this topic”?  Her responses are the first 2 🙂

1. Have a place for stuff and put it there…

Yes this one often received an “uh Mooooom” or blank stare but it is absolutely true. Defining where things belong helps you find them and return them much easier and faster.   This is especially applicable with multi-user spaces.

2. Finish what you start; Keep the commitment you signed up for. If you don’t like it you don’t have to do it again but get through the process.

Okay. I have become much more of a big picture person that in the past but realizing that the planning and follow through required after making a decision were so important to my learning and sense of achievement.

A productivity point that also comes to mind is doing the hard things first. If we can get past the activities that seem so big, we gain a huge boost of confidence.  Then what comes after is much easier to complete.

3. Clean your room.

In organizing this is one of the most common challenges people face- maintaining the order that is established. Did it seem like you heard this every day too?  It’s interesting that this now makes me think about organizing space styles.  My definition of clean was not necessarily the same as hers.  Now we have tools like the Time and Space Style Inventory (link to page) to find out what makes sense for the user of the space.  With that knowledge we can help the systems and the maintenance routine match the person.

And yes I do make my bed every day now.

4. Be happy with what you have.

You couldn’t control what anyone else had- As a kid not even what you had. But you could control how you looked at it. Gratitude  and perspective are much more openly discussed today than they were in the past.  We also practice more consumption and comparison today.  We want the latest and greatest that our friend has without much regard for what we really need. If we can take a step back to a simpler definition of life and happiness, it will have an impact on the volume of unused things we have around us.

5. Come back before the street lights come on.

As a military kid there was a layer of protection around the community that afforded us some freedom of movement. So at times I could stay out later but she always had to know where I was.  The street lights just served as a boundary on my behavior and strategy to plan her time.  She clearly stated the expectation and there were consequences when I overstepped.  This boundary allowed her to continue managing the household without overextending wondering where I was or when I’d be back.  What boundaries do you set for yourself and others? Are you able to balance time for play, self care, and readiness for the upcoming day? Do you instill confidence and trust through your behavior? When a situation arises that is beyond your boundary how do you recover?

These may seem like very simple examples yet in each there is a lesson that I didn’t realize I was getting at the time. As I look at the person I have become and the work that I do,  it’s so easy to identify the organizing and productivity tips mom shared all throughout my life. 

What did you learn from your mom? How is it showing up in your life today? Share with a comment below.

Happy Organizing!

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Change One Thing

Sometimes it seems like nothing works the way it should. If you’re a human, you have probably hit that point where work is no fun, relationship is a struggle and you don’t even feel comfortable in your body.

At times like these, changing your life can seem overwhelming. There’s so much to do…where do you even start?

It’s really quite simple… just change ONE thing.

Read a magazine article you would not typically even consider. Try a new clothing combination. Take a different route to work. Any simple change of scenery can shift your perspective, and has the potential to drastically transform your life.

It’s like a ship at sea…if it changes course even one degree, 100 miles later it’s in completely new waters.

Of course, the most profound shifts are the ones you make on the inside. Annoyance can easily be turned into fascination. Frustration can be flipped to become gratitude. Even anger can be transformed if you simply turn it into a song.

You don’t have to tackle your whole life at once, just make one simple shift.

And the best part is…it’s all experimentation. If you don’t like your new perspective, you can always go back to your old one.

What “one-degree” shift can YOU make TODAY?

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Do You Know What April Showers Bring?

You know that old saying April showers bring May flowers.  Well it brings a little bit more than that.  Any time is a good time to get organized and spring is no exception.  Check out these 3 things that I know come in the month of April and how they can remind you to declutter your space.

1. Allergies

Between the falling pollen and beginning of grass cutting if you have any sensitivity with airborne allergens, you are stocking up on tissues and medication.  Now is a good time to review your medicines.

  • Check those travel bags, bathroom cabinets, bedroom and kitchen bins for outdated and expired prescriptions.  If there are old prescriptions with doses left return them to your pharmacy for destruction.
  • Separate the valid ones by family member or condition and return to proper storage area.
  • For any current ones make sure your next pickup is on auto-fill or if it will require a doctor visit you add that to your task list to schedule a visit soon.
  1. Mosquitoes

Riiiiight. I hate them around my house too.  The customary advice to reduce these critters on our property is to survey and dump standing water. Now is a great time to take stock of those hiding places and decide if they even need to exist. 

  • Can you reduce the number of empty pots and trays?
  • Does that old tire or oil pan need to be put to the curb?
  • What’s creating dark hiding places on the patio or in the shed that is no longer needed? 

Having an open space through which your fans or any pest treatment can flow will be a big help to take the sting out of your spring.    

  1. Warm Weather

Even though we didn’t have a cold winter you can still spend some time turning over your wardrobe to prepare for the warming.  Take a couple of hours to go through your closet to get out the items that are no longer needed in this new season.

  • What doesn’t fit? What do you no longer like? What hasn’t been worn for the past 2 years?
  • Take a closer look at the things you want to keep.  Do any of them need repairs or cleaning? Do that now.
  • Where are you going to put these off season items up to make room for what you will wear now?  Whether it’s the back of the closet, up on a higher shelf, in a different room or contained in the attic.  Make sure the place is big enough for what you have and any containers you use are appropriate for the storage area.   

Sometimes it is hard to keep up with lists of things to do and when exactly is the right time to execute a plan.  If you let the natural cycles in your life guide you to action, you likely won’t go wrong.  Hope you enjoy all the gifts of spring!

Happy Organizing!

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She Thanked the Clock

 

Box of unwanted stuff close upFinishing up a recent appointment, an interesting thing happened.  As I packed my truck with donations, the homeowner came over and added in an old clock.  Then she said “Thank you clock.  I’m going to miss the chiming you did for me. I can let you go now.” 

Whoa! 

I stand by the viewpoint that our things serve a purpose.  Whether tool, toy or treasure things are in our life for specific reasons. On an ongoing basis if we treat them well they will do just what we intended for them to.  Then when their task is done, they are used up, or we have changed our minds about them, we should be able to let them go.  In reality that doesn’t always happen for many reasons including:  we value the things we spend money on, we connect them to our relationships with people, we feel if they are useful they can be tolerated taking up extra space and others.

I love that she was able to initiate her own way of letting go. We talked about the clock being something she remembers for many years in the home.  It was a gift from a family member.  It hadn’t been used recently and didn’t really have a place because it was replaced with other clocks she likes now. Yet it was still in the maybe area. For some other items we had to think of ways to help her facilitate letting go of items.  I want that to go to my friend. I want to get some money for this so it needs to be sold. I want a picture of that piece…  In this case she decided on her own that it was okay that the clock had done it’s job and that was enough.  So she brought it to me and she thanked the clock.

I smiled at my client and told her I appreciated her expression of gratitude for the clock.  I would take it to the place of her choosing and someone else will enjoy it like she did. She said I know it’s silly but that’s what I needed to do to let it go. 

It wasn’t silly.  It was awesome and I wished more people could do it so simply. That experience was a great way to end the day.  I left excited about the project and what my client was learning about her ability to work through the organizing process.  I just had to share!

What about you?

Have you ever had the experience of thanking an item as a way to help you let it leave your space? Share in the comments.

Happy organizing!

tt

New Year, New View

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We spend a great deal of time around New Year’s Day thinking about all of the things we want to achieve, do (redo :)) and become.  These resolutions and goals get a lot of energy and they enchant us because they are shiny and new.  Often we reach for that something better but quickly become stuck and lose momentum.  One of the reasons for this is because there is a tug of war on the inside- past versus positive present and future.  Imagine you are trying to take a step forward, big or small, and having something holding your leg.  That restrictive force is an emotion or perspective from your past.

So in 2106 should old acquaintance be forgot?  In this case I say YES.  This year before you proclaim another goal or resolution, I invite you to have a new view on where it starts.  Shake yourself loose and let go!

 Here’s a list of 4 things to let go of this year.

1. Fear that you can’t do or don’t know how. You have learned so much over the years. From early on there were life-changing situations you survived (walking and talking surely changed my life what about you :)).  They were scary and had some setbacks but through those experiences you learned how along the way.  I have confidence that you can be successful in other future endeavors as well.

2. Thinking it’s all or nothing.  This is hard perspective to see through. There is a lot of life that happens in between the extremes.  The world moves so fast that often the Pareto Principle of 20% of your best effort yielding 80% of result holds extra firm.  Defining the result, setting smaller milestones and celebrating your accomplishments can help you work through this. 

3. Feeling there’s a right or wrong way.  Consider ending the practice of comparing your way to anyone else’s way.  You are the expert on you.  When things are working for you, you can feel it and when your life is in order it’s much easier to see it.

4. Thinking more is always more. Give yourself a break because you will reach a point of diminishing return.  Finding your sweet spot may mean that doing and having less brings you more satisfaction.  Simplifying your life and environment with clarity and an end in mind allows you to experience your perfect amount of fulfillment.  

I love that organizing and coaching can help address all of these.  In the process we talk about what you really want, how you want your life to be, how you want your space to work for you, the fact that organizing skills are learnable life skills and that there’s a right amount of stuff and to-dos to make your life work.

Isn’t that what it’s all about– living a good life and enjoying what you have when you want to.

What do you want for yourself in 2016?  What can you let go of today to help you get what you want?  Post a comment to share.

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Everything or Nothing- When What’s OUT Is IN Line with Your Space Style

These two styles are all about the way you arrange your things to create a space that is stimulating, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing .  whether you prefer to hide things from view or have them displayed openly, the goal in working with this aspect of your style is to create a supportive and productive environment where you know what you have and can easily access it.

Everything Out = Out Of Sight, Out of Mind

Courtesy of DepositPhotos- galdzer

Courtesy of DepositPhotos- galdzer

Someone who connects with the Everything Out Style Preference is clearly from the “out of sight, out of mind” school of organizing. They feel most comfortable when their things are visible and within reach. The challenge with leaving everything out is, with so much in your field of view you won’t be able to really see anything. Piles of stuff and stacks of papers will soon overwhelm you.

One of my clients felt the only way to manage her mail was to keep it all out on her desk.  This led to mounds of envelopes of varying age and state of openness on top of the desk.  These would spontaneously lean and slide leaving layers of mixed papers spread across the desktop and often falling off the desk.   Additionally her checkbook, calendar and phone were regularly thrown into the mix and often lost.  The mail was not being processed timely and the desk was not functional.

We created a 2 step process in which she could corral and have handy the papers she needed to address.

First all incoming mail was placed into a clear bin near the desk.  The bills went into a labeled folder in the bin.

Next we set a scheduled time to pay bills.  When the time came she grabbed the folder and processed those bills. This allowed her to see those items, work on them when it was the scheduled time and make some of the desk available for using the computer and reading.  Her stress level was reduced because she knew where the bills were and her budget was back on track as late fees were eliminated.

I am a strong Everything Out.  When I am working on a project I will spread everything out on my desk or worktable or floor (depending on what the project is) so I can put my eyes and hands on what’s needed.  When my work time is over, I take that chunk of material and put it away to clear the space.

What do you think? Does out of sight mean out of mind or the total opposite?

Nothing Out  = No worries, right?

Courtesy of DepositPhotos-pinkbadger

Courtesy of DepositPhotos-pinkbadger

The Nothing Out Style Preference is the opposite of the Everything Out Style. Nothing Outs are uncomfortable with “visual clutter” and feel claustrophobic when they don’t have room to move around in their space.  The challenge with a Nothing Out approach is that they have a tendency to literally stuff things into drawers or closets and then forget what’s been put where.

A client of mine had a professionally decorated home.  It was a great open space for entertaining and she often had guests.  She called me because she was “running out of room’ and couldn’t find anything thus needed to get organized.  As we walked through the house I quickly saw that although there was plenty of storage in the house she was filling the closets and cabinets with all kinds of things.  It helped when preparing for guests but there was absolutely no order to what was being stored so when the people left she was left with a mess.  We sorted the contents of all the closets and she decided where things would go.  One closet was for decorative/ entertaining items, one for memorabilia and family photos, one for office supplies.  There was also a big spare drawer for mail and kitchen counter items.  This way when she needed to tidy up for people coming over she could put things out of sight in predetermined places then find them again later.  It was a good balance of her preference to have things out of sight and be organized enough for easy future access.

As you can see from the examples above, knowing what systems and products work with your personal styles is so important because it allows you to make efficient and effective use of your time and space ultimately creating more satisfying experiences.

Once you identify your dominant preferences – are you an Everything Out™, Nothing Out™, Minimalist™, Saver™, Straightener™, or No Rules™? – you can begin to take steps to integrate more Flow Steps into your everyday life.

The Time & Space Style Inventory™ (TSSI™) evaluates your space style preferences and  how you arrange your space, assign value and tolerate disorder.  By learning your dominant and strong style preferences, you can make the most of the things in your space and increase flow in your life. Consistently taking the Flow Steps in your styles of dominance will help you successfully manage yourself, and your decisions about your space.

EMBRACE your natural style!

Make it all work better for you – take the Time & Space Style Inventory™ today to identify your time and space styles and enjoy your life!

tt

 

It’s National Clean Out Your Files Month!

coutesy of depositphotos.com-SpacesYes, we do just keep the organizing festivities coming 🙂  October is National Clean Out Your Files Month.  It’s a second great time of year to spend some time organizing your files.  The first time I recommend is in April around tax time.  We are 6 months from April now and I think it helps to relieve some of the pressure to focus on the financial records in the spring and others now. To get started, follow these 3 tips for some filing fun this month.

Rethink Reference

The Small Business Administration says that 80% of the paper we file we never refer to again.   80% !  OK now look at your files.  That means if you have 5 drawers saved you will likely never even look at 4 of them again.  Think about that as you go through your files.   Also think about whether you can access the info again either in print or electronically.

Package Projects

By taking the time to sort files into categories of similar subject area, you can then see the true volume and make easier decisions down the road both in purging and in storing.   This applies to creative friends also.  Whether it is writing, photos, paper crafts you may have some project files that have gathered some dust.  Keep an eye out for old projects you don’t remember why you wanted to do or have been sitting for substantial time.  Also gather up the pieces that may connect from other areas of the home/ studio and get them together as a project file.

Save Some Space

Don’t overfill the drawers, cabinets, boxes and folders used to store your files.  When full the average 4 drawer file cabinet holds 15-20,000 pieces of paper (In my best Robin voice” Holy smokes Batman that’s a lot of paper cuts!”)  There is nothing worse than trying to open a drawer that eats up your hand, barely moves or falls off the hinges because it is overstuffed.  When files are tightly packed it’s harder to read the labels and handle the files.  Additionally if all the drawers are full you won’t  have room to store other critical files, you buy additional storage, fill it all up, buy additional storage and the accumulation of clutter begins.

These were just a few quick tips to get you going to fabulous files.  As long as we wish to record our life activities, we will need to take care of our files.  Make some time this month to give your files the attention they need and you’ll be rewarded with easier access to your important pieces of information and maybe even a little more piece of mind.

Happy Organizing,

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What’s Your Preference: Straightener or No Rules Style?

Let’s face it, disorder  happens.  With the speed of life bringing so much information, activity and items into our lives it seems that the edge of our environment keeps expanding to include more stuff.  When you are ready to clear the clutter, look no further than your everyday behaviors for clues on how to get organized. The Straightener and No Rules Style Preferences focus on the extent to which you are able to tolerate disorder in your space.

You can pretty easily determine if your habits follow a Straightener or a No Rules style.

Straighteners are compelled to align items within their space. 

No Rules are less in tune to the stuff and often don’t notice details in their space. 

Wondering which one better describes you? 

Take a look around your space.  Are many of your belongings neatly stacked, piled or arranged so that edges are even, lines are congruent or evenly spaced.  There may be a drawer or shelf of items that seem to fit just right and look really neat.  Have you or a friend described you as being OCD or a neat freak?  Really you may feel like the opposite is true, you can’t find enough places to put your neat stacks of stuff and it is driving you a little batty. You may be a Straightener.

 Quick Tip for working with your Straightener Style- Practice greater appreciation for function over form.  While having items arranged in a way that’s pleasing to look at may seem nice, it is the actual organizing- giving meaning to grouping and locations of items- that will help you maintain order. 

Take another look at your space.  Are there mixed arrangements or messy piles of stuff?   Does it even feel right to have everything put up?  Do you feel like you are often too busy focusing on other activities to even see what’s out of place in the room.  Maybe you are just overwhelmed and unable to improve the space so you just leave it.  Meanwhile your family describes you as a clutter bug or living in ‘organized chaos’. You may be a No Rules.pile-of-jeans

 Quick Tip for working with your No Rules Style- Work from simple systems and routines.  When organizing feels too difficult, too time consuming or too much trouble take a step back remembering what your goal is then build easy-to-use systems that help you stay organized without feeling overwhelmed. 

The Straightener and No Rules Space Style Preferences are at either ends of the spectrum. If you’re not aware of why you have certain tendencies and habits, it can be difficult to create customized strategies to get you organized.  When you understand where you fall on the spectrum you know which strategies, structures and behaviors will most likely yield success for you. 

The Time and Space Style Inventory (TSSI) assesses your space preferences and describes the typical ways you manage your surroundings.  The results are based on how you arrange your space assign value to items and tolerate disorder. By learning your dominant and strong style preferences, you can make the best use of your time and choose to take actions that increase flow in your life. Consistently taking the Flow Steps in your dominant styles will help you successfully manage yourself and the items in your space. 

Ready to embrace your natural style? Take the TSSI today  to understand how to make your space work better for you.

Can you relate to either of these styles?  Share where you are on the spectrum and what works for you!

 Happy Organizing!

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Discover Your Style

perfect room magazineEver feel like you are the only one not getting results from following Perfect Room Magazine’s ‘Top 10 Tips for Organizing Everything in 10 Minutes’ article.  The truth is you are not the only one.  Part of the reason for this disconnect is that while the article may contain sound advice, it may not be a good fit to your personal preferences.  So how can YOU get organized and maintain it?  Start by finding your style.

 Coach and Momprenuer Mentor Cena Block developed the TSSI- Time and Space Style Inventory  to help you better understand your unique preferences for using time and managing our space.    The TSSI takes into account how you normally interact with your environment and to-do list to help you assess your personal style.  With this understanding you are set up to reach peak levels of productivity (we call it “FLOW”– a heightened state of focus resulting in efficient action and ultimately fulfilling results) in which you are able to do more and stay organized because you are aligning your strengths and preferences with specific techniques that work. 

Check out this video explaining the TSSI and how it can help you.

 

It takes about 15 minutes to complete the inventory and you are sent a report that gives your styles in a range from dominant, strong to moderate.  You also get access to the TSSI Hub where you can find more details on each style including the steps you can take to make the most of your time and space and  achieve flow. 

In taking the TSSI I discovered that I am a Hopper- Big Picture- Cliff Hanger.  I see across all there is to do then I jump from thing to thing and continue working until the last moment at which I had to call a task done (there’s a bit of the Perfectionist showing up too).  With the insights gained from the TSSI I was able to adjust a couple of my task management routines based on the suggested flow steps in my report.   It has helped to relieve anxiety about the laundry list of projects that I want to get done.  I also can maintain a higher state of focus because I know there is already rest and play time built into my workflow. 

What about you? What do you hope to learn in understanding your style better?

When you’re ready to discover your style go here to access the TSSI.

Happy Organizing!

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Getting Off the Roller Coaster

 

Image courtesy of photostock/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of photostock/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What do you do when you think you’re ready to get organized but you are not quite ready?!  There’s too much going on and it seems like life is just happening to you.  The fast pace and blurred boundaries of work, family, friends, community, self, etc can turn what may be a short period of high stress into an extended time of distress and disorganization.  Have you experienced these situations:

  • Things gets suspiciously calm then crazy busy then leaves you exhausted.
  • You start working on a space then realize you are just moving items from one space to another.
  • You set a goal to focus on what you want but stuff just keeps popping up and you never get around to it.

If this sounds like your life then you, my friend, are on the clutter chaos roller coaster Ready to stop this wild ride?!

 1. Breathe. 

Take a deep breath and as you release it try to clear your mind of alllll the things you have going on.

 2. Reflect on your goals 

What exactly do you want and why do you want it. Go deeper. What needs will it fill for you?

3. Understand your challenges

Ask yourself what’s getting in the way of you getting to your goal Assess whether you have the skills, knowledge, and ability to face the challenge alone. Think of specific ways you can overcome those challenges.

4. Recommit to a next step forward

Write down the next one best thing that you can do to move forward. Commit to just doing that one thing.  Many times single tasking and simplifying the to- do list is key to staying focused.

5. Take action

The power to get what you want is in the doing work to get there.  When you move forward with that first step you are taking back control from the clutter and chaos.

Life may be leaving you a little dizzy these days, with end of school year, preparing for vacation, So taking that first step back off the roller coaster may seem like a big one… BUT how big are your dreams, what is a better quality of life worth for you?  Go for it!  You can only reach your goals if you start now.  

 Happy Organizing!

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