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!



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.



Organize Your Purse: Organize Your Life

Talking with a friend recently she had an AHA! moment and started digging into her purse. She said she had a number for someone I could talk to about that topic and would share it. She began pulling out wallets and papers and beauty items and ink pens and loose change and fussing about not being able to find it and needing to get that purse together. As I watched I quickly realized I needed to help my friend.  I took her purse and pulled everything out then started walking her through the process of making SPACE. I had extra paper clips in my bag and we made quick time of it because she had to go. She thanked me for my help adding she was glad we did it and she felt like she knew where her life was going today because she depended on her purse as a catchall.  Guess I hadn’t thought that for some ladies organizing your purse could be the first step to reorganizing your life.  In just 15 minutes we were able to go through everything in her bag, setting aside what didn’t belong and bundling what she wanted to keep.  We didn’t find the contact info but we did find a need for a new tool: a purse organizer.  I recommended a few to her and have included them along with some additional solutions in the below list.

1. Get a better wallet
This version has lots of slip pockets for cards and monies.  It is a slim
version that will fit easily into your favorite bag.

wallet on string

Keep it simple with a wallet on a string. You have limited space to carry items around and they have built in card holders and pockets to streamline your contents.  This one can also double as your wallet in a larger bag. 

2. Maximize built-in features
A perfect purse is hard to find. I personally have one of these and love it.  I use the pockets on the side for my cell phone and serenity prayer
bracelet.  The inside is flanked by two side drop pockets on one side and a zipper on the other side.  The full length zipper pocket in the center
gives added options for small items and separating my purse organizer.  

tignanello purse1tignanello purse2

 3. Try an insert purse perfectorpurseket
Removable purse organizers provide the extra compartments when your purse isn’t internally equipped to keep your contents neat.  A couple of my favorites are shown here: the Purseket and the Purse Perfector, which I currently carry.  

4. Give yourself some options 
Pill organizer having to follow a daily medication  nutrition routing. You can try an organizer with a pouch for each day of the week or a hard case labeled for each day.  

 PurseN makeup organizer Makeup case:  This PurseN bag is great because it has interior dividers to hold your essentials in place and prevent spills.

If you like to spread everything out this Lay and Go option allows you to do so then just wrap it all up when you are done.  Add your girls only items here also :)cosmetic-organizer-mat-green

 First aid items: can be stored in a clean mint tin or a mini first aid kit. 

grid it Electronics and small writing supplies: can be stored safely with easy access on a Grid It. There are lots of options to choose from to fit your bag or even be your bag if you want extra items in a tablet or laptop sleeve.

Papers: I am seeing a lot of instances where ladies are walking around with receipts, bills, loose notes, etc in their purse.  Best thing is to leave bills at home.  If you need them for reference in running an errand, carry a manila folder in your car.  For notes use a small notepad you can write everything on or make notes in your cell phone.  You can take the papers and keep a zipper bag for them in your purse like this one.  This gives them a designated place that keeps to together until you get home to get them out.

No matter what don’t overfill the purse. Make sure there is room for you to see into the bag and your hand won’t get stuck.  Also at times you need a little extra space to maybe hold a small umbrella or sunglasses or bottle of water.

Hopefully this have given you some ideas on tools to get your purse organized.  Don’t forget to maintain your new found order- you can build the habit of doing a weekly clean out or just do it whenever you change bags.   We are all super busy and so much goes on in our lives the condition of the purse as portable assistant can easily get out of hand. Help your purse help you by keeping it clean and organized.