Leadership: Talk Less, Smile More

talk less smile more leadership



As a devoted Hamilton (the Broadway show) fan, one of my favorite quotes is “Talk less, smile more.”  In the play, Aaron Burr is sharing his leadership philosophy with Alexander Hamilton.  It refers to a national leader’s philosophy, but the leadership concept of “talk less, smile more” can apply to all of us as leaders.


Talk less

Listening is an essential part of leadership. It’s how we gather information, build trust and create a team effort. When we are listening, we are showing how we appreciate the knowledge of the speaker.  Listening and leaning in indicates that you are building rapport and trust with the speaker.  Your listening empowers the speaker to share more information.  In talking less, we are open to more.  It requires that we hold back our own agenda and our own words to learn from others.


Smile more

A smile typically is an invitation to a connection.  As a leader,  your smile is cultivating connections.  Your smile is the bridge.  The warmth and invitation of a smile indicates you are open.  Even in the most stressful of leadership challenges, a smile and humor can lighten the situation and create solutions.  A smile can lead to increased positivity about any situation.


How to get started smiling more?  Create a new awareness of smiling. Place something that sparks joy (of course a reference to Konmari) on your desk. Like all new habits, it’s worth linking your smiling to an existing habit too.  Perhaps you already smile and have noticed how powerful this is in your relationships and leadership.



Link here to listen on YouTube to Talk Less, Smile More









My Organizing Obsession: Timers

organizing obsession timer



It may not surprise you about my obsession with timers.  A timer is a vital tool for time management. It’s a monitoring device as well as an accountability tool.  There are so many uses for a picket timer.  A slim, digital, easy to set timer can help you in a myriad of ways. Timers comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Keep it simple with an easy to use timer that fits in a pocket.



At home

  • Reminder to check the washer or dryer.  You may be in another part of the house and need an auditory reminder to move your clothes to the next step.
  • Reminder to turn off the the sprinkler.  You’re inside and the sprinkler is outside.  A timer helps you water the whole lawn.
  • Reminder to get ready for bed. You may need a reminder so you are in bed on time.
  • Set your timer for 10 minutes of daily distribution of items to put away with your family. Together you pick up the house and everything is back in order.
  • Set your timer for 10 minutes of paper management. Everyone can do 10 minutes of paper sorting.


At work

  • Reminder to make a phone call at a certain time. You won’t want to miss an important call to a client.
  • Count down to a meeting. You get busy and distracted and need a reminder of when to stop to in order to be on time for a meeting.
  • Pomodoro method working in 20 – 45 minute increments. You work for a specific amount of time on an important project and take a 5 minute break.  Do this for 3 sessions and see how much you have accomplished.
  • Stay focused for your power hour.
  • Schedule cage for a task.  A timer gives you boundaries to start and finish a task. These boundaries are just like a physical boundary, or cage, to help you stay on task.


For your student

  • Reminder to start homework.  Once your student is at home, set a timer to count down until homework time starts.
  • Beat the clock to finish homework.  Does homework drag on?  Help your student focus and work hard with a set time to finish.  A timer can also help your student break big homework assignments into manageable pieces.
  • Reminder to pick up and place the backpack by the landing strip.  Get everything ready for the next day with a timer.  Just 5 minutes and everything is ready to go.


I’d love to learn what you use your timer for!  What uses have you found for a timer?














Fall Fresh Start

fall fresh start more people organize in the fall than the new year


Fall has started and we are ready for a fresh start too.  With the routines of back to school, vacations complete and holidays approaching, we look forward to a fresh start.  It just feels right to get back into routines. According to Scientific American, Fall is a “temporal landmark” or date that sets our fresh start feelings into motion.   More of us get organized in the Fall than the New Year.  Take off with that Fall Fresh Start feeling with these tips for freshening up spaces at home and at work.


Fall Fresh Start for your Closet

Still looking in your closet and seeing nothing to wear? It’s time for a Fall Fresh Start.  Take a good look at what has not been worn in the last year and be brutal.  Let go of clothes that you would not wear today. If you would not wear it today, despite the weather, you’re probably not going to wear it at all.   Not sure if you can be brutal alone?  Invite a friend or family member in there with you and get their honest opinion of what to keep.


Fall Fresh Start for your Kitchen

You’re back in the lunch cycle and dinners at home need to be easy.  Holidays are coming and that requires more time cooking. Get a Fall Fresh Start in your kitchen by clearing out the pantry. Take items out, check expiration dates and organize this area like a grocery store.  You will see what you have extra items, know what’s ready to go for lunch and dinner, and be ready for holiday preparations.

Fall Fresh Start for Your Papers

Take 15 minutes at a time to review papers at home and at work.  There are papers you have set aside and now are ready to shred or recycle.  Each fall more papers have come in as activities gear  up from our own special interests and our kids’ back to school.  Your Fall Fresh Start for papers includes eliminating paper, making fresh categories, and getting back into good routines for administrative work.


At home, set aside an hour to create files, eliminate files and do a little tax preparation.  It’s a good time to really dig deep into your files and be sure you are only keeping what you need. It’s time to actually do some filing!


At work, check on not only your files but also your command center. It’s the spot where your projects and resources are easily accessible.  If its become stagnant and filled with completed projects, renovate it with what’s current.


Fall Fresh Start for your Desk

If your desk has become cluttered with everything including the kitchen sink, a Fall Fresh Start is what you need to boost your productivity.   Clear the surface of paper and stuff.  Keep out on your desk top only the tools you need and return items to where they belong.  Remember to use a list rather than an item as a reminder. Gather up your sticky notes and place them in a resource notebook rather than posted on your computer screen.

Fall Fresh Start for your Digital Documents

Digital documents can be harder to find than paper documents. Our digital disorder takes time and creates frustration.  A Fall Fresh Start is what’s needed to easily access data and add productivity.  Look at your files and check out what you need.  Add general, broad files to house documents.  Remove or archive documents for completed projects. Move items from your desktop or from emails to your digital files.   It’s a bit tedious but makes finding documents and spreadsheets much easier.


How to get started on your Fall Fresh Start?  It’s adding dates for your work to your calendar and working in a team.  Your date is your commitment to work.  Your team will make the work easier and more fun.  I hope  you will share your Fall Fresh Start work here too!


Project Management Tools for Home and Work

project management


So many projects, so little time! A project is an “individual or collaborative effort that is planned with a specific aim.” Project management is the “discipline of planning and executing the work of a team to complete a goal.”


As Walt Disney said, “Of all the things I’ve done, the most vital is coordinating the talents of those who work for us and pointing them towards a certain goal.”


At home and work projects are everywhere. It all depends on your view of a project.  At home it can be an organizing project like garage organizing, a holiday project like Christmas or Hanukah, or a family event like a family reunion.  At work a project can be starting an email newsletter, marketing your product or service or doing your taxes.  If your end result takes more than 3 steps to accomplish, it’s a project.  While there are many free tools to use, these easy to use tools make it easy for you to work on and track your project.


Post it notes

We all love post it notes. It’s a great way to keep track of individual tasks for a project. Write each step on a separate note.  Post the notes in a time line with dates for daily or weekly accomplishments.  It’s fun to crumple them as you complete a task.



Trello is the digital equivalent of index cards. Set up your tasks and your timeline to accomplish your project. Capture ideas, track your progress and assign tasks to maximize your success.


Dropbox is a cloud based document system. You install Dropbox on you and your collaborators devices and you can share.   What’s best about Dropbox is accessibility and portability. Whether it’s a document, spreadsheet or presentation, you can work together or alone and share your work.


Google apps

Many of us use gmail for our connections. Google offers a host of products to work together. Use Google calendar to drive dates for your project. Use Google docs for your collaborative documents and spreadsheets.  Work on the same document at the same time and see changes in real-time together.


Accessible tools make it easy to track and complete your project.  Take a few minutes to set up your tools to maximize their effectiveness and then get to work.


Check out this tech list for other tools for home and work.






3 Essential Filing Tips for Home and Work

3 essential filing tips for home and work


According to the Economist the average American uses the paper equivalent of almost six 40-foot (12-metre) trees a year.  That’s a lot of paper!  While we would ideally have less paper in our home and office, frankly we need to find great strategies to create filing solutions and more efficient strategies to find what we need.  Check out these basic filing techniques and tips.


#1  Know what to keep and how long to keep it

In the tsunami of paper that comes in your space, knowing what to keep is the crucial first step.  It’s easy to be overwhelmed so look to a resource to help you.  Every situation is a little different so start with your lawyer and accountant. They know your home and business details.


A detailed list of what to keep and how long is critical.  My favorite resource is Oprah.com ABCs of Important Papers.  Julie Morgenstern has a list that includes details about your home and work. For finances, I rely on Real Simple 5 Steps to Simpler Record Keeping.  This document focuses on your financial documents.  Between these two resources I find that your record retention is up to date.


While much of this information can be found online, it’s up to you to decide if you want a paper statement too.  In some circumstances you can save a PDF of the online document to your personal Dropbox account or on your computer. Be sure you are always backing up if you decide to keep your documents electronically.

#2 Separate your documents by how long you will keep them

Divide your filing into two categories: reference and archive.  Reference refers to document with information you refer to regularly.  These are documents that are up to a year old.  Archive refers to documents you must keep for the duration.  By categorizing your files, it’s much easier to keep up to date and much simpler to know what information is kept in what area.


Set an annual file organizing time.  It’s when you move files from reference to archive. This keeps your files updated and uncluttered.  There’s nothing worse than a paper cut from overcrowded files! It also reminds you what you have in your files.

#3 Keep your filing simple

The simpler your filing the more you file.  There are a few options for filing systems, depending on your style.

  • The 1 box method takes only a little time and effort.  Have a box in your space to drop in papers throughout the year.  Label the box 20XX and you are all set. You can go through the box as needed to find papers.
  • Notebooks make paper storage more accessible and visual.  You can assign one category of files per notebook.  It’s also an attractive way to store paper.
  • File drawers with hanging files are the traditional organizing method. Use your label maker to create tabs for the files. You can see what the titles are and drop in  your papers.
  • File bins can used for archive documents and can be stored in the top of a closet or attic.
  • Keep a basket for “to be filed” papers.


General, consistent categories make it easier and simpler to file.

  • Traditional Home Categories: Financial, personal, home and auto
  • Traditional Business categories: Financial, clients, vendors, administrative
  • Traditional set up for file cabinet is a hanging files for category and an inner file folder for more specific details.  (Financial drawer or notebook -> Hanging files Banking -> Bank of America and Compass Bank file folders)


Your file system is ready to go! Now it’s time to establish a weekly administrative time.  Each week go through papers and place those that needed to be filed in your “to be filed” basket.  Once a month or every other month do your filing. Make filing “fun” with a music set or while watching your favorite show.  Filing is like laundry, there’s always some to do!


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