The ONE Question to Ask Yourself When You Declutter

 

Only question needed to declutter

 

Decision making can be paralyzing when you declutter.  It’s all the questions, decisions and options that weigh you down and bring organizing and productivity to a halt.  How long have we had it? When did we use it?  Do we love it?  How many do we need? When we are faced with decision making back to back, we shut down before we start.  How can we pare down the questions to just one question?  Here’s the ONE question to ask to declutter.

 

Would I use it today?

 

Would I wear this today?

It’s a combination of do I fit in it? Is it my style? Is this a color the complements my hair and eyes? With all these questions, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and make no decision.  If you put on an item, and decide you can’t or won’t wear it today, it’s time for that item to go.  It’s just that easy.

 

Would I use it today?

Would I baste a turkey with it? Cut up veggies with it? Can I use it today to cut down a tree or hammer in a nail?  If I can’t use it today because it requires repair or it’s not useful, it’s time to let it go and make room for another that can be used right away.

 

Would I refer back to it?

You’re about to start a landscaping or repair project, but would you refer to the article you cut out a while back to do that work?  Often when we collect service people or clip articles from a magazine, we are thinking that we would use this information later.   We have to admit sometimes it’s hard to find that information again and it’s easier to find it online.  If you can admit that the information will not be used or easy to find when you need it, you can let go of that paper.

 

Would I start this project today?

So many project, so little time! You may have started a project and it became complicated, unwieldy, or boring.  If you have moved beyond the project, you can let it go.  It can be donated if there are unused resources.   It’s completely okay to let it go as pieces.

 

 

Reflect on this question, “Would you use it today?”  It’s going to simplify decluttering, help you eliminate more, and get you started on organizing.

 

I look forward to hearing you and learning more about your organizing and decluttering.

 

More ideas on how to simplify and declutter here on my newsletter!  Join here!

 

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Restarting routines

 

Restarting routines

 

You’re cranking stuff out at work.  Your completing tasks at home.  Your calendar keeps you on track and your lists are serving you well.  Routines are working for you.  Then, all of a change happens.  Summer or Christmas holidays come along. There’s a new employee at work you have to train. Your job responsibilities shift.  Your routine does not exist anymore.   Here’s ways to begin restarting routines.

 

Assess your tools

What’s going on with your planner and your lists?  Have you lost your favorite mini notebook that held your lists? Did you have weekly planning time or fill in your calendar this week?  Look at the tools you use and be sure you are using them wisely.  If you have let these lapse, start here with restarting routines that served you well.

 

Improve your tools

Maybe it’s time to make a small improvement to your tools.  The Japanese concept of kaizen, making small, gradual improvements, could help you with productivity.  The small improvement to your tools could be learning technology. At times when we have a change it’s about learning and practice to master a new skill.  It takes time to learn new technology to be agile.  A small change could also be hooking a new habit to an existing well established habit.  That habit might be making a list each night for the next day right before you brush your teeth.  Just a tweak can help you with restarting your routines.

 

Automate your tools

I don’t like to reinvent the wheel. I like to “automate” when I can to save my thinking for the bigger picture.  I use tools like checklists to automate. I have a checklist for activities that are new to me.  It’s easy and simple to complete a task this way.  There’s a checklist for things I do infrequently just so I don’t forget a step in a project.  My packing checklist helps me remember all the little stuff that make a big difference when I am away (like all my electronic chargers). Another way I automate is my routines is smartphone reminders.  An alert helps me remember the next step.  The reminders are recurring so you keep on top of your intentions.

 

Take the opportunity when you are stuck and not feeling back in the groove to assess, improve and automate.  While it’s uncomfortable, it’s also a time to make necessary changes that might not have happened. That when the break makes for greater productivity.

 

Get back to routines with my newsletter! Join here!

 

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Healthy and Organized: Setting up for Success Getting Dinner on the Table

ADD and ADHD Healthy and Organized

 

Setting up for Success

Getting Organized to Get Dinner on the Table

 Register at www.adda-sr.org

Saturday, January 28, 2017

9:00 – 11:45

Memorial Drive UMC, The Gate

13194 Memorial Dr    Houston, TX 77079

 

Is your new year challenge to eat a healthier diet or have dinner together more often? Do you struggle with how to organize your pantry or kitchen? What about foods that help or hinder the symptoms of ADHD and related disorders? Can supplements help?

 

Join Certified Professional Organizer and Family Manager Coach Ellen Delap to learn about healthy food options, supplements, meal and grocery planning, organizing your kitchen and pantry and better family routines.

 

Often the biggest challenges we face in the new year are our goals for health, wellness and organizing.  Take a first step in creating new ways to meet your goals with this event. Leave the class with new tools and tips for wellness, as well as new perspectives on getting dinner on the table.

 

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7 Simple Steps to Achieve any Goal in 2017

Get Organized Month. Be organized and productive!

 

In honor of national Get Organized Month, I’d like to offer you a simple, organized strategy to achieve your goals in 2017.   A template can be the best practice for achieving any goal.  It’s a standard that  you use to accomplish a task, series of tasks and goal.  More than ever, we have many goals and not much accomplished. Celebrate national Get Organized Month this year by applying this strategy each day in January and assessing it’s value on January 31.

 

Step 1:  Identify your goal

 

Write down what you want as a goal.  Be specific, measurable, realistic, and detailed to make accomplish the goal.  By writing it down, you are also committing to success.

 

Step 2:  Write out advantages for accomplishing your goal

 

Each advantage gives you justification of why to accomplish this goal now and how it fits your values and needs.  The more advantages you write down, the more likely you will keep working the system.  These benefits justify your time and energy.

 

Step 3:  Note obstacles to reach this goal.

 

What stands in the way?  Spell out obstacles to overcome and what will hold you back.  Identifying a challenge early on keeps you from being discouraged or giving up when the obstacle occurs.

 

Step 4:  Add in skills or knowledge required to reach this goal

 

There is more to accomplishing a goal than just desire.  At times, it requires higher level skills and learning.  Identify what you need to learn or what training is needed to reach your goal.

 

Step 5:  Create a team to reach your goal

 

Look for support and assistance around you.  There’s others who have strengths and skills to be collaborators.  With this in mind, who can be part of your team to assist you to reach this goal?  Reach out and partner up to reach your goal.

 

Step 6:  Plan your work and work your plan

 

Write down your detailed plan of action of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks to reach this goal.  Go beyond the planning phase and be sure to execute each step as planned. Assign a completion date for your goal. Every task and project requires a deadline.  Set a realistic deadline for you to complete your goal.  Your deadline keeps you accountable to accomplishing your goal.

Step 7: Assess your success

There’s an equal amount of learning both strengths and fails in accomplishing a goal. It’s important to celebrate the accomplishment. Just as important is reviewing attaining the goal. When you assess, you are looking for continuous, small improvements, also known as the kaizen method.

 

I’d love to hear about your progress in using this system. What flaws are you encountering? What’s holding you back?  What’s working well?  Your daily practice during Get Organized Month for 31 days will serve you well to create a new habit.

 

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How to Set up Successful New Year Goals

start with the end in mind

 

New year goals have had a bad rap for a long time. It’s the natural time for a fresh start. We have goals for health, wealth and relationships.  However, each year 1/3 of American’s make a goal but that goal is dismissed in 6 months.  It’s not only the goal that’s important. It’s how to keep on track all year long with it.  Here’s how to set up successful new year goals.

Why define the goal

Stephen Covey, productivity guru, writes all about how to be your personal best.  Habit #2 of Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is to “start with the end in mind.”  When setting a goal, to “begin with the end in mind”  helps us chart a course for success. When we define the goal, we have a clarity.  What does the end look like?  What does the end feel like?  It’s a reminder of a road map analogy where you can’t travel to your destination without a road map.  Making sure your goal is well defined to get to the end.

 

goal setting measure your success

 

How to define the goal

Metrics are an important of defining your goal. How do you know you reached your goal? By setting up simple measure-able steps.  It’s part of the SMART goals acronym: Specific, Measureable, Achieveable, Realistic and Time based.  Be as specific as possible, with a measureable, realistic, achieveable time based goal.  In addition, write down your SMART goals to see these each day.

Make yourself accountable every day.  Keep a money log of where you spent every dime and a food journal for every bite.  Share your successes each day with supporters who help you stay on track.  It’s keeping your eye on the prize every day that helps you measure your success.

 

goal setting work as a team

 

Work in collaboration

There are lots of pieces to reach your goal. You may not  have all the skills to reach your goal.  Working in collaboration makes reaching your goal more fun and easier to accomplish.  The best practice is to seek out others who have a strength you need to reach your goal. At home and at work, your team helps you accomplish your goals.

When you work as a team, the energy of your team makes the difference. Research shows that positive thinking helps you view more possibilities. With more possibilities, there’s greater probability for reaching your goals.

 

goal setting keep your skills sharp

Sharpen your skills

Your goal may require more education, more organization, or more practice. You may already be aware of obstacles to your goal that can be avoided by learning more, taking a new track, or being more skilled.  In all these cases sharpening up your skills gets you to your goal.

Take a class to learn something new this year to make you more productive. Your business can expand as you read a blog, view a TEDx talk, or participate in a Mastermind group.  And besides, you are probably someone who loves to learn so feed that part of your soul!

 

What goal to set

Typically our new year goals are lose weight, get organized, or save money.  Choose a goal that has compelling reason with a great end in mind.

  • If it’s lose weight, what realistic number of pounds by what date do you want to lose?Who else is on your team who also wants to lose weight? What combination of tools will you use?  What skills can you sharpen to help you?

 

  • To be more organized, decide what space, what it will look like, and how many hours a week you will work toward the goal. Who can be your clutter buddy? What strategy will you use to declutter?

 

  • To save money, use a tracking tool to see where you spend money now, review what can be cut down, and create a place where will the savings be held.  How much do you want to save?

 

Reaching your new year goals doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does have to be strategic. While having a goal is important, what’s more important is to have a compelling reason to accomplish your goal.  Losing weight is really about living life more fully. Being more organized is really about being less stressed and sharing experiences.  You save money to be more secure in our chaotic world.  Find your compelling reason for your goal and it will make it much easier to stay committed.

 

More tips and tricks for productivity, organizing and related ideas here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Family Holiday Traditions

family holiday traditions

 

Family holiday traditions are what make memories.  It’s experiences and gifts you remember for years to come that are repeated annually.  There’s lots of family traditions including annual cookie swaps, trips to the Nutcracker Ballet, or Ugly Sweater competitions.

Every tradition requires planning and organization.  Most important are dates and deadlines. When will you host your tradition? Invite early to be sure your guests are available.  Be sure to make a list of what you need and have it available.

 

Here are my family holiday traditions.  Each family holiday tradition shares memories of the year that has passed.

Annual Dinner

Each year we take our grandchildren for a fancy holiday dinner in downtown Houston.  It’s just the grands and Gigi and Paps (that’s us!).  It’s our time together to enjoy the holiday lights and drive.  We spend the dinner talking about our holiday together and each of their interests.  It’s a special night together.

holiday dinner

Christmas ornament

Since each grands birth, we have given them an ornament for Christmas. I order these around September in be sure they arrive early.  The theme of each ornament depends on something special each year. Some year’s the ornament is about a special activity that year, like baseball or gymnastics. This year it was an beach ornament for each grand celebrating our beach trip together.  These ornaments are a treasure each year as they place them on the tree. The ornaments have their names and year on each one.

 

personalized Christmas ornament

Pap’s Photo Album

My husband, aka Paps, only Christmas gift is an annual photo album.  I started these albums when we had print photos!  It takes time to gather the photos from the year.  I gather these from all the spots that photos comes from including my camera, my phone, his phone, and all my family.  I upload these and create an annual photo album filled with all the year’s fun.   Throughout the year I organize the photos with this album in mind and work on it throughout the month of December.  It’s the gift cherished by my husband everyone in the family looks at it all year.

 

I’d love to learn about your family holiday traditions too!  Post these in the comment please.

Happy organizing and Happy Holidays!

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My holiday wish for you!

the-holiday-season-is-the-time-to-reflect-on-our-blessings-and-seek-out-ways-to-make-life-better-around-us

 

Wishing you the happiest of holiday seasons!

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Happier Holidays with ADHD

happier holidays with adhd

 

The holidays add extra activities and extra stress to already busy lives.  It’s a marathon of gifts and giving, baking and sharing, and decorating and wrapping.  There’s planning and executing of lots of activities. The joy intended can often devolve into obligations.  How do we keep the happy in happy holidays?

 

On Dasher, on Dancer: Continue on self care

Keep up with your self care through the holidays. Get to bed on time.  Attend your pilates class.  Drink plenty of water. All these ways you take care of yourself keep your spirits and energy up.  These activities also keep your routine in place during this busy time.

The Twelve Days of Christmas: calendar it all

Your planner is crucial during the holiday season. Add all your invitations, special events and activities right away.  Next add in dates for cookie baking, gift shopping, decorating and other holiday related tasks.  Finally add in time to rest and rejuvenate. A calendar can be your guide for all holiday actions.

 

Silver Bells: Stick to your budget

During this gift giving season, it’s easy to justify extra gifts and purchasing.  Start with a financial plan and stick to it while you shop. It’s especially easy to overdo your purchasing online.  Make it easy to stick to your budget with a gift giving list. Homemade gifts can help you stick to your budget too.

 

Santa Claus is coming to town: Find your elves to delegate

One of the most important ways to get through a long holiday list is to delegate.  Start with small things, like purchasing cookies.  Add on a helper who can wrap.  Gather your family and ask who wants to do what job and post the list to check off. Be creative about who to delegate to and when to delegate. Delegating can be the hardest part of the holidays but the benefits of a team effort makes it worthwhile.

Dreaming of a White Christmas: Let go of perfectionism

We have an idea in our head just how perfect every part of our holiday season might be.  It could be the delicious food, the 10 foot elegantly decorated tree, or the gifts wrapped with big bows.  Think about the one thing that makes this holiday so special for you.  Host a family meeting for your family to find out and share what’s most special to them. By simplifying your holiday and prioritizing what’s most important,  you share the joy of the holiday season.

 

More tips on holiday organizing, planning and productivity here!

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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.

 

More tips to simplify and organize on my newsletter! Join here!

 

 

 

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