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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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!

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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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5 Reasons Spring is the Perfect Time for Organizing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe sun is shining, the flowers are blooming– Spring is back and just in time because as a southern girl deep winters are not my favorite thing.  If you are like me you anxiously awaited the defrost and wasted no time getting moving again.  Inside the house, in the yard and in the office I have found renewed energy to refresh my spaces.  I think that Spring is the perfect time to work on organizing projects.  See below my top 5 reasons you should be organizing now.  

1.It’s a natural time of change. 

The change of seasons brings good prompts to transition some things in your life and environment. 

  • As it warms up you can turn over the closet by removing what you didn’t wear this year and bringing out warm weather clothes. 
  • When the taxes are done it’s a good opportunity to shred old files and refresh your home inventory and insurance policies. 
  • Spring break is coming.  Be prepared by setting up a packing list or planning to put those extra hands to work on a bigger project.

2. Some spaces are more accessible.

Better weather allows access to larger spaces. You can bear to be in the spaces that experience extreme heat in the summer but it’s nice enough to spread items outside for a very effective sorting process. It can also have a more dramatic result in functionality and appearance.

 Speaking of large spaces, this year The Advocate’s All Around the House special section highlighted tips on garage organizing.  A Taylored Space was featured in the story on page 12, which you can enjoy by clicking here.

3. You see more family and friends.

Whether it is for a spring break trip, upcoming graduation, family reunion… you will see those folks whose stuff has been taking up room in your space.  I hereby give you complete permission to return it or invite them to pick it up really soon.

4. There’s more time to work.  

Having extra daylight supports the body feel like there are more active hours in the day.  You can fit in an extra hour or two towards your project in the morning and evening hours around your work schedule.  Additionally for spaces you are working outdoors that natural light helps.  Just remember to stay hydrated and fed to have the energy to keep going.     

5. Brightening up your perspective can help with the space. 

Have you been waiting until or setting  conditions like if this then I will, now might be the time for you to adjust your outlook.  Maybe the best time to start  is now.   Shaking off the chill of winter and opening the windows can shine new light on a room revealing the perfect spot for reading or that pile of items you still haven’t dropped off for donation. Clear out the clutter and reclaim your rooms.  The space is valuable and so is your piece of mind.

Whether your next project is small or large there is no better time to start than now.  Prioritize your projects, schedule time to work on them and spring into action.

Happy Organizing!

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Start Again Now: Use the Second New Year to Recommitment and Take Action

carl bard_new start 9-2-14I recently heard a radio show host say he considered September 1 to be the second new year…  I hadn’t heard it expressed that way before.  Yes! September does begin a time of change and transition in nature and family schedules but when I thought about it a little more it made sense to use this time to recommit and take action the same way we do in January.

 Have you ever wanted to just erase that failed attempt at getting organized or take back the time spent on lesser tasks that kept you from spending time with your family?  I can’t give you a time travel portal but I can share with you 3 quick reasons to take action now:

 You’re likely already making changes

With the 1st of September comes the season of change.  Some areas are seeing the first signs of fall and may be transitioning their wardrobes.  Some people are experiencing life changes of school starting and schedules readjusting to more active busy lifestyle. Why not  optimize the family calendar and set up some boundaries.  Didn’t quite hit the goal on that hottie beach body? Now may be time for some coaching to increase focus and keep you from gaining weight.

 There’s a good amount of time left in the year

Starting a new habit or reclaiming an unruly space now would give you 90-120 days to execute your plan and experience success.   Also you don’t have to go all the way back to a castoff new year’s resolution just start by focusing on what you have learned from it that can help you move forward and feel like this year you’ve had some positive results that you can sustain over time.

 One small success can bolster confidence to do more

You know how it feels when you’re making things happen and loving life?!  You’re super confident and will try something completely new feeling you can’t lose. Success shakes off fear and dependency  replacing them with optimism and self-reliance.  Yeah it’s kind of deep but it’s true.  Have more positive experiences, you can change your mind and environment!

I hope you’re looking at this month as an opportunity to do something positive to improve your space and time use.  The biggest challenge is making the first step and deciding to take action.

So, what are you going to start this month?

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Uh- It Costs How Much?!

confused man Do you know the price of your distractions and mental clutter?

Less than 5 minutes of multitasking last week cost me $44.99 plus tax.   That’s $9 per minute and $540 per hour!  When I thought back to how this happened it was all due to a crazy hectic week and trying to do/ think about too many things at once, you know– multitasking.  I went on autopilot for a very short series of tasks I perform each month while my mind churned away at what was next and I half-way listened to someone on the phone.  Little did I know I’d set myself up to spend an hour trying to find something, which I knew had to be somewhere, only to end up back at the store making a repeat purchase.   I could have prevented this with a few simple steps.

1. Slow down and breathe 

Most tasks are not a timed race.  Slowing down just a bit can help you feel more focused and snap you back into the present. 

2. Get it out 

Grab your notepad and do a brain dump of everything you think you have to do right now.  Then prioritize the list taking into account the true importance of the task along with your time and energy constraints.

3. Single- task

You may have a lot to do but that doesn’t mean you need to do it all at the same time.  Focus on one thing at a time: Do it right, knock it off the list, go on to the next one.

4. Set boundaries for distractions  

In my case I could have let the phone go to voicemail while I finished what I’d already started.  Today work, play, friends, family, communication, devices, etc all mixes together to create ongoing overwhelm and a false sense of urgency.    

Often times we rely on habit to complete the routine things that we do.  We assume that we can still do them even while something else is activity occupying our attention.  We also maintain the expectation that because we’ve had a lot on our minds before and still got things done we can do so now.  Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.  To be most successful, we have to give ourselves a chance to get it right most of the time.  By taking on more than we have to we are often working against our best interest and could end up paying a higher price than we expected.

Do you have an example to share on the cost of your mental clutter?

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