4 Ways to Simplify Holiday Gift Giving

 

4 ways to simplify holiday gift giving

 

Have you been gathering gifts all year in your gift closet?  Maybe you have been tucking away your unloved gifts to regift to another.  It may be an important gesture to share gifts teachers and others you want to appreciate.  The holiday season sweeps us up into gift giving.  It’s the time of year we feel required to match gift for gift, dollar for dollar. According to a Gallup poll, American’s spend close to $850 a year on holiday gifts. At the same time, 81% of Americans would rather receive an experience based gift.  Holiday gift giving involves emotions, finances, and practicality. Is this the year you decide to make your holiday gift giving more meaningful? Here’s how to simplify holiday gift giving.

Review your gift list each year.

There’s many times that gift giving changes.  Maybe you haven’t been in touch during the year.  The nephews are getting older.  You and your siblings have all gotten to retirement stages.  When life transitions happen, it’s a good time to agree with family and friends to decline gift giving. You can open the conversation so that no one feels ambushed when you get together. Another option is to give gifts to families in need in your community.

 

Know what you want to share, more than just a gift.

There’s lots of different expectations about gifts.  Does the recipient enjoy a practical gift or a gift that is an experience? Can you gift money or a gift card? Would a thoughtful card with a meaningful note be the right gift?  Thinking about the recipients expectations makes holiday gift giving easier.  As you are creating your gift list, jot down a few ideas about that person to help you decide.

At the same time, think about the meaning of the gift you want to convey.  How can you best convey joy, gratitude, and love in what you give?  Your expression and your gift may be more powerful in something small. There’s more to share than the gift. It’s the thought behind it.

 

Homemade gifts

The word is out that homemade gifts are a thoughtful way to share.  It makes your gift special in that you took time to prepare something for friends, family, neighbors and colleagues.  Your something special can be a simple baked treat, practical item or ornament to share.  It can also be the same treat year after year as a tradition.  Start early preparing your homemade gift and be sure it is wrapped and easy  to transport. My favorite homemade gift is holly cookies and banana bread.  You can take a wallet size photo and place it in an ornament frame.  There are so many ways to simplify your homemade gifts.

 

Wrap it up

There’s a process for gift giving. Purchase -> Wrap -> Deliver.  Set  up a time and space to get it all out and get messy.  Be sure you have all the supplies including boxes, tissue, bags and ribbon.  You can delegate the wrapping or share the fun with a wrapping party.  Write on  your calendar when you are going to get this step and delivery complete.  A gift at home is of no value, and makes  you feel less, when it’s undelivered.  Wrap up your holiday gift giving with a time to deliver your gifts.

 

A word about the kiddos

Our kids have gifts galore at the holidays. Some families have chosen the 4 gift, something you want and something you need, one gift to wear, and one gift to read.  Carefully decide on what you want to gift kiddos because an overwhelming number of gifts can make kiddos uncomfortable, ungrateful and unable to play with it all.  Get relatives on board with this option to be sure everyone agrees that giving one gift per child is plenty.

 

When you are paralyzed in not finding the perfect gift, step back and think about what you really want to express in gift giving.  You will know what is the next, how to simplify and how to express what you have in your heart. As Mother Theresa says, “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Holiday organizing for joy and meaning!

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We love the lights, sounds, smells and feel of the holidays.  It can be overwhelming too!  There’s lot of places to go, people to see, gifts to buy and cards to send.  Here’s simply strategies to keep this the most wonderful time of the year for you too!

 

Make lists

Have you been searching the Internet for a gift for a “just in case” hostess gift for a party?  Or not sure what to purchase for your family but you don’t know if you are a part of a gift exchange?  It all starts with a list.  It’s a list of who to buy for and a list of your budget for the purchases. That list keeps you aligned with what you plan, instead of those extra purchases and expenses. Find 3 small “general” gifts for hostesses and “surprise I brought you something” times.  My favorite list making apps are Evernote and Notes.  Your list is with you all the time on your smartphone.  Make your holiday wonderful with a list.

 

Write it on the holiday calendar

A quick family meeting, even if it’s only you and your partner, gets all the details on  your holiday calendar.  Invitations are coming in and holiday activities are starting up. Writing these on your calendar makes sure you are in the know and are at the right spot at the right time.  It’s also important to schedule time to just be.  By scheduling in this time to sit, reflect, catch up, and rejuvenate, you gives yourself the gift of time.  Otherwise, all your time will be filled and you will end up feeling frazzled.  It’s hard to not overbook the holidays however your holiday will be wonderful with a modest schedule.  Use your usual calendar and add these dates in red, green or blue to stand out.

Enlist help

Santa has his elves! Mrs. Claus is there too! It’s time for us to work as a team too.  There’s help around us to wrap gifts, make treats, and share the fun.  Ask for help from your family with specific requests but without being a perfectionist.  Look around for resources to help, ask teens who want to make a little extra holiday money and inquire when a friend mentions a service they used.  Take a small step by purchasing already cut fruit, using the gift wrap option online, hire a cleaning service or a decorating professional.  These little gifts to yourself make your holiday wonderful.

Rest up

The holidays are when we are most busy. It’s easy to stay up much later online, decorating and baking.  However, it catches up with us!  Keep true to your bedtime routine that includes sleep for 7 – 8 hours.  Be sure your sleep is restful with a cool, darkened space. Make a list at night while your tasks are fresh on your mind to keep your mind clear and ready for rest.  Stay true to your exercise routine to be tired in a good way to sleep well.

 

Simplify

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the wonderfulness of the season. Holiday fun extends to extra gatherings with friends, sharing more treats with neighbors and family, and extra good wishes with holiday cards and gifts. Simplify your holiday by choosing what’s most meaningful to you.  Reflect back on prior holidays with your family or in a moment of meditation to remember what made your holiday special. Take that awareness to the next step by reinforcing this with your holiday activities.  Just checking in and knowing that even one thing is NOT on your agenda this holiday makes for a wonderful experience.

 

Not sure what to simplify this year? Here’s how I do it.  My decorations include a festive doorway garland and my Christmas tree.   We send holiday cards at the beginning of December.  My holiday treats include make ahead holiday treats.  Find what’s most meaningful to you, and simplify the rest.

 

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Gratitude

I am grateful for our connection

Gratitude   

noun grat·i·tude \ˈgra-tə-ˌtüd, -ˌtyüd\

simple definition of gratitude is a feeling of appreciation or thanks

I am grateful for our connection!  This year has connected me to more colleagues, friends, family and clients.  Each of you has shared my joy with laughter and silly sayings. You have each shared with me leadership, learning, transitions, reflections, and hugs!

  • How to lead and how to follow
  • How to share values and be true to your priorities
  • How to learn collaboratively and share knowledge
  • How to learn new habits and routines
  • How to learn new technology
  • How to make hard transitions easier
  • How to reflect and prioritize
  • How to be your best you and live the life you imagined

 

May your gratitude be a part of your daily habits. Find a small, simple way to make this happen each day. Thank you for all you have shared with me this year. As we enter the holiday season, I look forward to hearing what you are each grateful for.  Post a comment below to share your gratitude.

 

May your holidays be filled with hugs and happy organizing!

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Organizing: Streamlining or Unearthing Treasures

 

organizing streamlining or unearthing treasures

 

What’s organizing REALLY about?  Working together with my clients I see two different ways we work.  I also see the goals of our work in two different ways as well.  Organizing while both strategies accomplish what my clients want, each process differs slightly.  Here is my concept of organizing as letting go and organizing as unearthing treasures.

 

Organizing is streamlining and letting go.

You are overwhelmed with stuff.   Your goal is to have less, organize it and then keep your space maintained.  The first step  in your organizing project is to review what you have.  Then you assess it’s value. Do you use it or love it?  If neither applies, it’s time to eliminate this item.  As Marie Kondo says, “To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.” Working on having less is often the most motivating reason to get organized.

 

Organizing is unearthing treasures.

Your stuff is overwhelming you, but just culling out is not enough.  Your goal is to keep what’s most valuable to you.  Organizing can also be about finding and unearthing treasures. You can take the “treasure hunt” perspective where you sift through items to find what is most valuable to keep.  In choosing what’s most valuable, only you can be the judge.  It may be a long lost trinket or a check.  Organizing can be unearthing items that have been buried in what’s not important.

 

 

unearthing treasures

We found this treasure while working together! What treasures have you found while organizing?

 

When you unearth treasures, whether it’s financial or sentimental, you find real value in organizing.

 

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6 Ways to Pause in our Busy World

6 ways to pause in a busy world

 

I recently spoke to a group of 20 women business owners. I said, “who’s busy?”   Everyone raised their hands.  Not surprising, right?

 

There’s not much time to pause in our busy world.  At work there are tasks, projects and deadlines.  At home we focus on our family.  There’s the rush of thoughts and feelings when something went off kilter. At times we think we should forge ahead and just get on with whatever we are doing.  There’s much to think about and no time to think about it.  A pause could make a difference in your stress level, in your decision making, and in your happiness.  It’s not only moving that creates new starting points. Sometimes all it takes is a subtle shift in perspective, an opening of the mind, an intentional pause and reset, or a new route to start to see new options and new possibilities (Kristin Armstrong). Here’s some ways to pause.

Breathe deeply

Maybe you haven’t thought about breathing and how it affects our brains.  When we take a deep breath and let it out slowly, we are slowing down our body mechanisms and our brain.  Controlled breathing “may be the most potent tool we have to prevent our brains from keeping us in a state of stress, and preventing subsequent damage caused by high stress levels.”  Creating a pause physiologically helps us.

Say a prayer

A client shared with me how she recites the “Serenity Prayer” when she needs a pause. Whether it’s her kids fighting or a decision to make about work,  her prayer gives her a pause and helps her focus on what’s important to you. It may be a few words or something memorized, prayer is centering and mindful.

Drink water or get a snack

It’s difficult to hydrate sufficiently.  Our bodies require more water than we think about regularly.  Pausing to drink water gives us a physical lift too. When we think of the benefit, add a sip of water as a pause.  A protein filled snack can do the same. It’s a break to fuel.

 

Make a connection

Whether it’s a smile, a hug, a text or a phone call, making a connection is a pause.  Connections yield self-confidence, empathy, empowerment and positivity.  Keep connected during a pause with tools like your phone.  A connected person is a happy person.

 

Talk a walk

Getting up and moving around is a physical and mental pause.  Getting outside in the green space does even more to give you a pause.  Taking a walk gives you time to reflect, engage, create new perspectives and go back to work ready.

Take a nap

A nap is the ultimate pause! When you are tired, your brain is stuck and you have no energy to proceed, a nap is the best way to pause.  It’s my favorite way to pause!

 

How can you create an awareness of when to pause? Is there an emotion you recognize with anger or fear? Is it a feeling like a clenched jaw or stomach pain?  Start to recognize when a pause can make what you are doing easier and more in line with your values and needs.

 

why pause

 

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12 Secrets To Better Work Life Balance

12 secrets to work life balance

 

 

Work life balance is a conversation heard around the “water cooler.” We think about how we can equalize our work and our play.  But perhaps it’s how we keep our professional life in check and prioritize our personal goals.  Recently surveys show that less than half of us are feeling that we are successful with this. A recent survey shared that 40% of men and 33.2% of women were satisfied with their work life balance. It seems this is an area where we aspire to have better strategies.  Which one of these will help you create more work life balance?

  • Write it all down, then schedule

    My favorite quote, “the biggest lie I tell myself is that I can remember it all.” When it comes to work life balance, writing it all down is the best first step. When you write it ALL down, you see where you are spending time and getting stuff done. It’s a “time audit” of where you spend your time and how in balance you are. The secret to writing it all down is to schedule your work and your play. It might be surprising but you must schedule your play time too.   Research shows that we are happier with scheduled time away from work.  Vacations and mini-vacations improve happiness, health and connections.  Write it all in to insure you are reinforcing your work life balance.

 

  • Use your one best tool (planner)

    Having a planner is the first step. But the secret to using your planner for work life balance is scheduling transition time. A busy schedule requires time to transition. It’s important to write in your transition times, like the time to travel between meetings or picking up kids.  Also write in preparation time for upcoming meetings and homework time for classes you are taking.  It’s not just the appointments that matter; it’s the time in between.

 

  • Keep the big picture prioritized

    Not sure what’s most important? While most of us think of getting all tasks checked off, prioritizing requires keeping a big picture of what 1,2 or 3 things make the most difference in our work and life.  Most of us would say our family is our priority and making money at work is a priority. The secret is to not get too bogged down with all the little tasks.  All the little tasks can be overwhelming and stressful.  Everyday make a deliberate effort at these 2 priorities in some small way.  You are on your way to balance.  Put away your perfectionism too.  It’s getting in the way of you acknowledging your successes.

 

  • Weekly planning time

    The secret to keeping calm is planning.  Your weekly planning time reinforces your values and priorities.  It’s when you take a big picture view of your week and take note of all the tasks. It really pulls together your calendar and helps you prepare for your week.  When you know what’s ahead you are ready for a successful week.  No more surprises when you have weekly planning time.

 

  • Align energy and task

    I follow the Energy Project, a resource that believes that “science tells us that we perform at our best when we move regularly between expending and renewing energy.” The concept applies to how we align our energy and the task.  The secret to work life balance is that when you are working at a difficult project with high energy, then you are at your most efficient.  In addition, the Energy Project reinforces the idea of playing hard too. It’s about renewing your energy to be ready to tackle difficult projects.  It’s a secret time saver and productivity tip.

 

  • Create routines and themes (daily, weekly, or monthly)

    Developing robust routines makes for work life balance. Routines help us get stuff done regularly and consistently.  You can have Money Monday or Financial Friday when you focus only on finances that day. You might have a checklists for your morning. You might have a weekly  routine of Gym time on Monday, Wednesday, Friday.  In our home we have Gigi Friday every week where the grands come play that afternoon.  Check out what holds you accountable to your routine and why that works.

 

  • Host a Pajama Day

    We all want a day with no makeup and nothing to do.  Host a pajama day at least once a month and possibly once a week. That’s the day you stay in your pajamas and just relax.  It’s a day with no demands and no schedule.  You will be amazed how balanced you feel at the end of the day.

 

  • Intentional start to your day

    Prayer, yoga, and exercise are all intentional ways to begin your day. Starting your day in a centered, mindful way helps you maintain balance throughout the day.  Prayer helps us be grateful and mindful of our blessings.  Yoga and exercise center us in the moment, breath deeply and feel our being. Choose a mindful practice that boosts your brain and helps your work life balance.

 

  • Eat dinner with your family and have a date night with your honey

    Dinner time is our time to connect with our family and friends. Dinner is when conversations big and small take front and center.  These conversations are a break from the daily  grind.  Eat dinner with your family or friends to stay connected and in the know.  Weekly date night keeps the spark going in a relationship. Research shows when couples share an evening together there is improved communication and commitment.  A simple date night can be a walk or bike ride. Date night reinforces why you and your partner met and mingled.

 

  • Control technology

    Taking control of technology is required for work life balance. Technology is everywhere all the time.  The secret to disconnecting is setting boundaries.  No tech times include overnight, meals together or whatever you know to be one on one time.  Choose a common charging spot not in your bedroom to support restful sleep. Check your email 3 times a day to work on it and not be overwhelmed by it.  Be present and keep your tech in control.

  • Go team!

    A team approach helps everyone. Your team can be collaboratively, working together on a project.  You can delegate and share a responsibility on a task. You can have a coach who helps keep you accountable and helps you navigate your responsibilities. These are all ways to engage with others to do your best work.  How to create a team? Find resources in your area such as American Business Women’s Association, a local chapter of the industry you are in or the Chamber of Commerce.  Go online to check out additional tech tools such as Dropbox and Join Me. Attend a local conference to connect with those in your industry and learn more.

 

  • Keep it simple sweetie (your time, your space, your thoughts)

    When things get complicated, they get out of whack. It’s easy to over complicate and over think our home, work and life.  Keep it simple sweetie by doing what’s easy, what’s simple and what’s needed.  Keep in mind that the simplest answer is often the best.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, it’s time to step back and assess simplicity.

 

Remember, our work and life balance starts with the choices we make.  Keeping it all in balance is a work in progress and that at times our balance needs to shift between work and life.  Keeping it in balance requires us to spin many plates at the same time.

 

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How your Dog helps you be more Organized

dog helps you be more organized

There’s lots of reasons to have a furry family member.  You want unconditional love all the time.  You think a dog will help your kids be more responsible.  Your family is not complete without a pet.  Did you ever think how having a dog will help you be more organized? It will!

 

Dogs help you have routines

Dog require care on a regular, consistent basis day in and day out.  As a dog owner, you want to care for your dog.  The routine walking and feeding of your dog gives you structure for your day. Typically your dog’s care takes place around the same time each day.  Having a new sense of routine gives more order to your day all together.  You have a sense of time and when tasks should occur.

 

Dogs help you exercise

We have the desire to exercise daily, but we may not be able to initiate this daily.  With a dog, we happily walk or run on a regular basis.  Being more active on a daily basis helps you with clarity and focus. Regular exercise starts your pattern of healthy habits like improved nutrition.  Exercising with your pooch helps make daily exercise a routine too.

 

Dogs remind everyone to pitch in

Dogs keeps us working as a family team.  Everyone takes turns walking, feeding and caring for your dog.  Working as a team means that your family will pitch in on other responsibilities too, such as meals and laundry.  Getting your family rallied with your pooch means that you are teaming up together.

 

There’s much comfort in having a dog.  The bonus of being more organized helps everyone!

 

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Do this NOW to get ready for the holidays

do this now in October for holiday organizing

 

It’s October and we are starting to see twinkling lights on holiday trees.  It’s tempting to wait for the day after Thanksgiving. There’s a big list ahead of you. Capitalize on the time by getting ready in small ways for the holiday.  Stretch your preparation time forward into October.  Do this NOW to get ready for the holidays.

 

Write out your holiday lists.

Start with a budget, gift list, a card list and activity lists.  A budget is a guideline for what your expenses will be this holiday. It’s your way of keeping financially responsible when it’s easy to go off track.  Your gift list includes all those you will be exchanging with or thanking with a gift. This can include teachers, hostesses, hair person and others.  Your holiday card list needs tweaking with updated addresses.  An activity list adds meaning to your holidays.  Know that happens when and create a holiday calendar to share with your family.  You can keep these lists in a holiday notebook.  These are  your guide posts for the season ahead.

 

Take your holiday card photos and choose a holiday card

Holiday cards are a joy to receive. Your family photo is a special way to share what’s happened this year. Now is the time to take the photo. It’s great weather to be outside for the background.  It’s the first step for this holiday project.  Check online for possible cards. There’s an array of choices and it’s the next step to decide on your card too.  Get this mini project checked off and ready to go.

 

Shop holiday craft bazaars

This month is filled with the joy of holiday crafts and goodies. Use this time to check out local vendors to support local crafts people.  There’s treats for parties and hostess gifts.  There are theme gifts special for the holidays.  Holiday craft bazaars also get you in the holiday spirit. You can find a list of local holiday markets online.

 

Check out local resources

Maybe this year you want to have a local restaurant make the Christmas Eve lasagna.  Maybe this year you want to have a cleaning service come in and deep clean the week before you have company.  Think about what help would make a difference for you this holiday.  It’s a gift you give yourself to be able to enjoy the holiday fully.  Now is the time to gather resources and referrals for extra help.

 

Make a plan

Whether it’s logging onto 101 Days To Christmas or simply sitting with your calendar, now’s the time to make a plan for the holidays ahead.  Each holiday season we vow to be more organized and more productive with our time.  October is the time to talk to your family about simple holiday traditions, about what’s special to them and then prioritize these activities.  Add dates to your calendar, purchase tickets for the Nutcracker, and decide when you will pull out the decorations.  A plan, a list and a calendar keep us in control during the holiday season.

 

What are you doing NOW to get ready for the holidays?

 

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How to use the 80/20 rule at home and work

80/20 rule

 

Have you heard of the 80/20 rule?  It’s also known as the Pareto principle.  The concept is that  roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. It’s seen as a short cut to being more focused, more organized and more productive. Here’s some statistics that show the 80/20 rule.

  • At home, we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time.
  • At work, 80% of a company’s profits come from 20% of its customers
  • When you volunteer, 20% of the volunteers do 80% of the effort.
  • What’s the benefit you can find in the Pareto Principle?

Pare down 80% of your clothes.

Our closets are jammed and we have nothing to wear.  It’s time to  use the hanger trick where you turn your hangers around of the clothes you wear. It’s a study in what you truly wear.  Once you see this, you are ready to let go of your unworn clothes.

Spend 80% of your time on the most important 20%.

Prioritize the most important projects for work and home. It might seem like everything is equally important, however it’s not possible.  Drill down what’s your most important and schedule work for this at your high energy times.  Scheduling your work both at home and at your job ensures success.

 

File and scan documents using the 80/20.

Have you created files and never went back to these?  Where can you find the information, when you need it, most easily?  Know what to keep and keep what you need.  You might be keeping 80% more than you need so pare down ruthlessly.

 

Rethink 80% of your activities and find the 20% you are committed to

We are busy! We find ourselves in many different groups, joining more than one Bunco group or book club.  We are taking our kids to many activities.  It’s time to rethink 80% of your activities.  You will find that you are less stressed. You will enjoy your activities more because you have fewer.

 

You will find that the 80/20 rule will be one of your most referenced math equations once you see how it applies to your life.

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Live the Life You Imagined

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined.

 

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.

 

This quote by Henry David Thoreau may be the start of something amazing for you!  Have you thought of how your stuff may be holding you back?  Have you thought about how with less you can start a project of your dreams? Could you be a more mindful and present person? Perhaps you may have a dream to pursue and letting go of you stuff can help you live the life you imagined.

 

How much do we need to live a life we have imagined?

A corporate person moves to a new city to start her dream job.  In her move, she decided her dream jobs might not be long term and more in a sequence, so she may have to move frequently as she climbs the corporate ladder.  Because of this, it’s important for her to have less to take from city to city.  She lets go of her possessions to be more nimble.  Her work takes most of her waking hours so she will not be home to enjoy her space.  As she envisions where her new assignments might take her, she wants to be less burdened by stuff to carry along with her.

 

A client marries and blends her belongings with her new partner. She lived a single life for quite a while and  has been filling her closet with shoes and clothes.  Letting go of her stuff makes the transition smoother.  It is not about her stuff vs. his stuff.  It is about living a life together in a small space but with great love and respect.  Their lives will be about their connection, not their stuff.

 

A friend begins a mission trip that she has imagined for many years. She begins her preparations to move 6 months before her trip began.  She whittles away  at her furniture, clothing, books and papers. She moves most of her information to online resources.  In the end, she  has 3 larges suitcases for her 2 year stay.  She begins to live the life she imagined by her bravery and commitment.

 

It’s hard to imagine how important and compelling these journeys  are.  These dreams require letting go.  It’s deep and meaningful commitments to what you can imagine.

 

How do we start?

Your dreams are waiting for you.  Start with your dream and the simplest first step.  It’s possible to achieve your dream with a plan.  Start with letting go of what’s easy and move to what’s more difficult.  In paring down not only do we decide what’s essential, we also find what’s most vital.  We can find out what’s the one most important thing for us to use or take with us on our journey.  I would love to hear more from you on your journey to live the life you imagined.

 

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