Incorporating Essentialism Into Your Standards

 

Essentialism

 

 Essentialism isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done.

 

Are you looking for a strategy to help you do less and own less but you are not a minimalist?  I have found that Essentialism works for me! It gives me the opportunity to do what I love and own what I love.

 

What is essentialism?

I have been a  proponent of essentialism for a while now. Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less is about prioritizing, which is knowing who, what and why something is essential. “The Way of the Essentialist involves doing less, but better, so you can make the highest possible contribution.”  I read this many years ago and it has stayed with me.  I find that drilling down to essentialism keeps me purposeful, intentional, and productive.

 

What does essentialism have to do with our next steps?

Before COVID-19, we have to admit we were on a hamster wheel with an endless list of actions and endless opportunities to purchase. Now we know what it feels like to do less.  It gives us the opportunity to be selective about what we are doing, who we are with, and what choices we can make.  We can regain control of our choices to use our time and energy to make a difference. Even more, after time has passed since COVID, we want to live intentionally and purposefully.

 

Where can we apply this concept?

Wonder where I apply the concept of Essentialism? It starts with what is in my home and what I own. I consider what is essential to my work and self-care. For me what is essential is a limited number of work clothes and play clothes. Limiting these helps me save time and money. Digging deep into my core values, I know that it is essential for me to spend time with family and stay connected to friends. My calendar reflects these essentials. I love that I can define these elements and stay true to my purpose in what I own and what I do.

Here is an example of where I have used Essentialism for myself. A product comes to mind that will make my life easier. I sit with that idea for a day, thinking about how essential that is to my daily life. I research the cost and prioritize the improvement it might make. I purchase it with intention and when it arrives I place it where it will be used frequently. It is now essential to what I do each day. I have deemed this item absolutely essential to my well-being and the order of my life. That item might be a new keurig pod flavor or a new bag to travel. The process works well for every purchase and every new activity in my life.

 

Where can I learn more?

Learning about Essentialism and its role in others’ lives helps you evaluate for yourself. Check out this podcast to learn more and be inspired.

Productivity Trends for 2021 and the Future

 

trends and future

 

Even though we are living in uncertain times, there are trends emerging. These organizing and productivity trends started during the pandemic and are taking shape to have a big impact on us and how we get stuff done.   Check out these trends for 2021 and the future.

Remote Work Is Here to Stay

Towards the end of 2021, the hybrid work trend came into being more as the norm. More people had the opportunity to work part time at home and part time at the office. Remote work is here to stay because people can be especially productive in different spaces and with different types of collaboration.  Look to improve your productivity remotely with using trusted tools that work in any space.

 

Freelance Work Is Creating Opportunities for Companies and Workers

The “Great Reshuffle” is giving new opportunities to all who seek meaning in what they do every day and the values of those they work with ongoing. Your strengths and skills open up next steps for you.  Be prepared and organized about how you seek new opportunities in order to give you the best flexibility and opportunity. Keep your new contacts readily accessible on your devices and keep your skills sharp with training.

 

Automation Is the Future

Technology, organizing and productivity have been intertwined for years. There are more apps and automation that make work effortless. Data collection and review have become a part of every process. This information helps you determine priorities and focus.  Investing time in automation give you greater income and greater opportunity. Some of these apps include Calendly for meeting clients, Zapier for essential actions in business, and Hootsuite for social media marketing.

 

Healthy Work-Life Balance

Statistics share how work-life balance and relationships are our priorities.  One in five have met their colleagues’ pets or families virtually and one in six (17 percent) have cried with a colleague this year. The new connection to who we are and what we believe in has helped us see what is truly important.  Taking care of ourselves has become critical after difficult times.  Create your own healthy balance using time blocks to get work done and have fun.

 

Lead your industry and business by using these trends. This information will  help you bring more focus to your own work this year and going forward.

Money Management: Organizing Your Money and Finances

 
financial organizing

 

We are more aware of the personal power of using our resources wisely. Those resources start with your finances and your time. Financial organizing is as important as organizing your home.  It starts with setting intentions, establishing priorities and creating goals for your funds. You want to know where you spend money and how much you spend.  All of this happens with money management and financial organizing. Try one of these five tips to get started organizing your finances.

 

Creating a money mindset

Perhaps as an adult with ADHD, disconnected utilities, insufficient funds, late payments and unpaid bills even with enough money in the bank may be constant struggles for you. Fear and overwhelm might create a road block in working on or organizing your finances. Getting organized is the first step to realizing your financial goals. These goals can be attained by a working knowledge of your finances. You can set short and long term goals by writing costs down and analyzing how to achieve these.  Set aside time each week to be aware and learn about your finances. Be specific about your goals and use these as your “why” to get organized. Share your responsibilities with a partner to work as a team.  A money mindset gives you a sense of accomplishment and command over your fears.

 

The Power of One

Keep a list of all your accounts. That includes bank accounts, credit cards, lines of credit and credit unions. Many of us are unaware of just how many places have our money. From this list you can pare down to single accounts to work with and use.

As in all organizing, you want to be able to find what you have! Having just one checking account is the way to know how and where you are spending it! Having one credit card not only simplifies paying the bill during the month, it also makes you most aware of where your money is going. If you are a small business owner, you should also have one credit card and one checking account for your company. Simplifying our connection to money can make all the difference. There is a lot less paper coming in as a result too!

 

Write It Down


Writing down how and where you spend money is an enlightening experience! Just like those food logs that scare us into a lifestyle change, we can do the same for money. Keep a log of EACH item you purchase in a month. Not only will you realistically know what things cost to create a realistic budget, you will also know just how many times you are using money for “wants” rather than “needs”.

 

Ledgers can make the difference for us in keeping track of and being accountable about our funds. Use your check register all the time to record checks and debit card transactions as these occur. For bill paying, keep a ledger to record your payments to utilities, credit cards and other monthly expenses. This way you see what each bill is each month, compare the expenses of the bill each month, and be sure you paid it each month. Seeing it on paper makes money not only a currency traded, but an effective way to track your financial goals. You can also use Quicken and budgeting apps to record the payments to see annually what your expenses are and to help balance your checking account each month.

 

Automate your money management to accomplish your goals


Good routines reinforce your plan. You hear it all the time: “pay yourself first!” Set up an automatic payment from you to your savings account. It is the most painless way to get ahead on your savings. Having trouble paying your bills on time? Set up automated payments to get this done timely. You can use auto debit from your bank account or a credit card. You will still need to keep up to date on what is being paid and to whom, but the process can make a difference in getting the job done. Finish bill paying by filing all receipts into an easy access file or notebook. Automation can give you visual tools to help you see your finances.  Charts for bill paying, categorized payments, debt tracking and financial goals help you see where your money is going and where you can change your behaviors.

 

Routines reinforce your priorities

Even with automation, you need solid routines to be sure you stay on track. A monthly money meeting with yourself and your partner insures your bills are being paid and you further strategize on how you are spending money. Set this date and make it fun by meeting at a coffee house, having a special treat, and keeping the meeting short.  At that meeting review your bills and see what goals you are accomplishing. Set goals for the next quarter and the year. These meetings give you knowledge and opportunity to drive your success.

 

Get started where you have the most questions about your money. Wondering where you spend your money all month? You can start with an expense tracker app like Mint.com to automate and then review your spending. Want to be able to pay your bills on time online? Set up your bank account app for automatic bill pay. Looking ahead to save more? Automate your savings plan.  If you are struggling in this area, meet with a money manager or certified financial planner to help as your guide. Once you start, you will feel comfortable spending more time on your finances.

Hearts, Flowers and Organizing

Hearts, flowers and organizing

 

We’ve heard so often, “diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”  You set the scene for romance with jewels and flowers. So what do hearts, flowers and organizing have in common? According to the Five Love Languages and Real Simple, a lot!

What’s love got to do with it?

In the book, The Five Love Languages, Dr. Chapman shares the many ways we share and connect in love relationships.  These include acts of service, words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, and receiving gifts.  Each of these are ways that we share connection.

 

Give a little gift of your heart

Acts of service is just one of these five. Acts of service are those ways you take on a responsibility for your loved one or perform an act of kindness.  These include vacuuming, doing the dishes, and routines around the house or at work. Now you can see how these two connect every day and especially at Valentine’s Day.

 

Families and homes have many responsibilities.  Set aside a family meeting time to discuss and assign home routines.  Be sure that there is an equitable distribution of work, hopefully assigned by preferences. Everyone hates to do dishes so work as a team to get this complete.  Together every one accomplishes more.

 

Words of love soft and tender

Another one of the love languages, words of affirmation, set the stage for romance. Words of affirmation are compliments, accolades and acknowledgements.

 

Show a little love with words of affirmation and gratitude.  Those who are washing and folding laundry, getting dinner on the table, or completing what is needed to keep you home up and running what to know you appreciate their efforts and that they are not taken for granted.  Knowing you appreciate them and their work keeps them motivated.  Share your gratitude with specific ways they are contributing to the organization, ease and energy of the house.

 

Love will keep us together

Quality time makes a difference. Quality time is spending meaningful time together.

 

Team work can be quality time.  That work together might be time with body doubling, where you are working independently in the same space, or teaming up together on the same project. No one likes to be told what to do and no one wants to work alone.  Make it fun and work together on organizing.

 

This Valentine’s Day, take the 5 love languages quiz and share some intimate organizing details over dinner!

Use Weekly Planning Time to Create a Calm, Organized and Productive Week

 

weekly planning time

 

Organizing your time takes many different steps to get the job done.  Having one great calendar and an effective way to manage your tasks and lists are the first step.  Carving out a Weekly  Planning Time pulls together these great tools.  Stephen Covey and David Allen both incorporate this routine into their strategies, as well as Asian Efficiency and The Productivity Show.  This time helps you create a proactive plan and gets you ahead of the curve.

 

Basics of Weekly Planning Time

  • Weekly planning time is when you pull together your lists, assess upcoming events and add a plan to your calendar.
  • Start by setting an undistracted time for you to “meet” with your planner.  This should be added to your calendar as an appointment!  A good time may be Friday before the end of work, Sunday afternoon as you are getting ready for the week, or any time that really works for you.
  • Gather together your tools of your planner, your lists, any emails or papers with upcoming events, projects you are leading or collaborating, and any other date driven activities. You want to consolidate all this information into your planner and an organized list.
  • First, add all new dates and update any existing dates, then add small reminders, consolidate errands, project out baby steps for a big project, and generally scan for bumps in the road coming up.
  • Next, scan ahead for new projects, events or recurring annual projects for that time period. This includes for work and home. Consider taxes, financial reviews and home maintenance. Make notes of who to meet with for these upcoming tasks and projects.
  • Finally, create a “think big” section of your planning time. What is a major goal you have thought about and would want to take action on?  This is where you have the opportunity to be creative and act on your dreams.  It’s also about being strategic about life goals.  Take this time to spend a few minutes on goals and dreams.
  • If you use a technology planner, no problem! Same strategy with this tool!
  • Make it fun! Grab your favorite beverage, sit in an inspiring spot and enjoy this planning time.

 

Upgrade your Weekly Planning Time

  • Use a planner that adds focus to your time.  I love my paper planner pad! A digital tool to do this work is To Do ist.
  • Set a day of the week for certain activities.  Money Monday and Financial Friday are the days you work on money matters.  By allowing yourself one set day a week for an important task, you give yourself permission to be dedicated to one specific task instead of many difference ones. This strategy works well for people who know that they can do one thing well.
  • Be consistent about your weekly planning time. The more consistent, the more you will notice what’s working and what is not. “Noticing” can lead to enhancements too, such as knowing what works best for you and what are your strengths.
  • Level up with this podcast featuring the weekly review of Getting Things Done (GTD) with David Allen.
  • Take this routine to the next level with a Family Meeting too.  Gather your family on Sunday evening, with all their calendars and your family calendar (paper, Cozi, or google calendar) and set this time for planning purposes.  Not only will you have family communication, collaboration and cohesiveness will be a big bonus.

 

What obstacles might you have incorporating into your week this planning time? Be sure to set this at at time that works well for you.  In order to be consistent, the time that you work on Weekly Planning Time makes the most difference. How do you do know this is working well? Now you feel in control, ahead in your planning and confident in your tasks and projects.

 

More time management tips here!

ADHD Friendly Ways to Organize your Papers with a Command Center

 

 

 

 

 

Scraps of paper everywhere?  Not sure where your bills are? What about your kid’s papers to return to school?  Mail on every surface? These are the challenges faced by those with ADHD in organizing paperwork. Organize your papers with a Command Center.

 

This custom creation pulling together several solutions for paper can make finding and accessing your papers super easy.  Bulletin boards, wall calendars, and wall pockets may be the perfect spot for you to post your paper and get organized.  Having components that suit your organizing needs create slots for specific categories of papers and make it easy to find things.

 

Establishing your Command Center system

A command center is the strategy spot for all incoming and actionable papers. It is best placed at the entry where your mail comes in the house or in the kitchen. That is the organic spot where paper tends to accumulate.

Here are some tools and strategies to establish your Command Center. These integrate a variety of resources including a bulletin board, wall calendar, and wall pockets.

  • Your bulletin board is a visual reminder of activities coming up.  It is a place to post important papers, schedules, invitations, announcements, and inspirational quotes.  As papers come in, simply pin the most important papers that you won’t want to lose to your board to keep track of them.  If an invitation or announcement arrives, keep it if it has directions, a gift registry, or a reminder.  Be sure to add this date to your wall calendar as well, since duplication can help too.  Don’t overcrowd your bulletin board as a clean, neat appearance will serve your purposes better.  Edit what is on your board regularly to keep up to date.

 

  • Use 2 dry-erase month-at-a-glance calendars on your wall.  We always have dates that are more than one month away.  Having 2 calendars means that you can keep up to date on activities.  Keep a handy container of different colored dry-erase markers to use for different activities or family members. Take a photo of your calendars to keep with you when you schedule new dates.

 

  • Wall pockets are strategic vertical storage to keep up with paper.  Have one container for each family member. Have one container for receipts. Have one container for resources like directories.

 

  • A dry-erase board lets you make notes, lists, and checklists.  It is an easy way to create reminders for you and your family.

 

  • A desktop sorter command station is another way to keep all your papers together too.  Use hanging files with tabs on them, labeled To Do, To Pay, To File, Receipts, and Taxes.  You can add a hanging file for each family member too.  This compact solution keeps your bills and papers together.

 

  • A basket or bin for mail as it enters the house. This is where paper collects until processed into the system. Use an attractive container that holds ample but not too much paper.

 

  • Be sure to style your space. Having colors that match the walls or simply black or white makes for a more serene space. You can also use ornamental, retro items, baskets or crates for your system.

 

Routines that reinforce your use of your Command Center

A Command Center integrates and coordinates a space for every kind of paper, as well as a specific spot for unprocessed mail. Establish a five-minute daily or once-a-week weekly routine to bring in the mail and sort it into the command center. Have a recycle bin and shred station at this spot to remove any junk mail. By keeping consistent with eliminating extra paper, you will be more in control of important information that arrives by mail. Remember, this is a coordinated effort with your partner in working through the paperwork.

  • Where does the paper go next? That is your filing system! Papers that you will refer to or archive are kept in your filing area.
  • What do you do with the actionable paper? That’s addressed during your weekly planning time when you pay bills, add dates to your calendar, and add tasks to your task list.

 

Overall you are creating a workflow that includes a system and routines for taking the paper from when it arrives, to review, prioritize and act on the necessary information in your life. This will remove a lot of stress and help you find what you need when you need it.

 

 

How to Tackle Organizing your Digital Photos

Organizing photos

 

When asked about what we must take with us in an emergency, we all say our photos!  Our photos are our most precious stuff.  We have them on our smart phones, cameras, social media online and in print.  It’s easy to over snap and not come back.  It can be overwhelming after a birthday party or family event to gather them together. Our photos are our way of capturing the magic of the moment.  Organizing your photos means you will truly enjoy them.

 

The best solution for organizing photos follows a routine that works well with your routine.  Allow time once a month or immediately after a family event to work with your photos. We jump back into life and don’t get the opportunity to reflect and enjoy our photos. It helps to set a time to work with these.  Summer can be a great time to reminisce, review and organize your photos.

 

Start with a plan.

How will you group your photos? With paper or digital photos, we can group chronologically, by events like holidays, birthdays or trips, or by family member.  Keep in mind your family will be growing, like adding grandkids and partners.   Write out your plan and then create folders online to capture the photos as you consolidate them. If you are working with paper photos, you can use photo boxes.  Make a plan and test it with sorting.  Remember, you can delete photos as you work to keep only the best photos.

 

Begin consolidating.

Get all your digital photos together in one place. For me that’s on my computer.  I email them to myself from my smart phone, download from Facebook, and move them from my camera with a cord.  There are many services that automate consolidating to get all your phots in one place such as GooglePhotos, Dropbox and AmazonPhotos.  Keeping all your photos in one place makes it easy to know what you have.

 

Always backup your photos.

There are lots of ways to do this.  I use Carbonite to back up all the time. Highest recommendations are for for GooglePhotos, Dropbox, Smugmug and Shutterfly.  Each allows a certain amount of space with additional space for a fee. Scanning is the way to back up your paper photos. There are options for you to scan yourself or services to delegate.

 

Taking the next step is the fun part.

Decide what photos you want to print, create a digital photo album, or create a gift.   I keep framed pictures of grand kids throughout my home. I know the frame sizes so each season I print out an updated photo.

  • If you are just starting a photo grouping in a hallway or on a desk top, choose the frames first, then purchase the pictures.
  • My daughter in law does a birthday book for each child. The book consists of 5- 8 printed pictures from each birthday, placed in sequence in a photo album. The kids love looking through these each year.
  • Other options include digital scrapbooks from Shutterfly and even Walgreens.com.
  • For Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or birthdays, gifts like mouse pad, calendar or mug are wonderful ways to share photos.
  • Remember to give yourself plenty of time to choose the photos you want to share.

 

Keep your most precious items safe with backing up and organizing digital and paper photos.

How to Maximize Summer Organizing

Maximize summer organizing

 

Summer is often when our organizing intentions get momentum. There are fewer school responsibilities and daylight lasts longer.  Those organizing projects have been on our list for a while.  Here’s ways to tackle these projects, even before you start your organizing work.

 

List first

First you want to have a specific list of what you are planning to organize this summer. Capture your list as a dump first with brainstorming. All those ideas need a spot to prioritize. Your list will be the base of your project management.  The best project management assesses how much time, what resources are available, the budget and the team.  Now you are ready to determine what you will tackle.  It may not all get done this summer however you know what’s possible. If you are not sure what you want to organize, here’s ideas.

 

Timeline

Start your list before the end of May.  Your summer may be much busier than you originally had intended. With your list prepared, as well as your vacation schedule, you can realistically get moving on these projects.

 

Strategies

There are several ways to accomplish your summer organizing goals.

Chunking

Do you like to plan specific units to accomplish your goals?

  • You review your prioritized projects and allocate manageable units of time, the budget, or team members you have to work with to your organizing.
  • The value in this method is to know your plan and work steadily to accomplish your goal.

All day project

Do you have a large block of time and know this organizing is a priority for the fall?

  • Allocate a large amount of time to accomplish decluttering and setting up systems. Allocate resources for editing and removing items in order to proceed smoothly.
  • The value in this method is that before school resumes or the fall comes, your organizing will make a major impact on your life.

Team approach

Who can be your helper in organizing?  Create your team before you start on any project. The teams can work together or in a sequence.

  • Your team might be members of your support community or a paid professional.
  • A team can work in segments, either in sequence or simultaneously.

 

If you need Plan B, C or D

If your summer is business than you originally thought, or your budget is less than required, or you have no team to help you, there’s options!

  • Be sure you have trash and recycling out of the way.  That’s often clogging up your system.
  • Prioritize the one most important organizing task and accomplish that. A single success builds you up!
  • Host a one hour organizing party where your team either does the 27 fling boogie (edits 27 things, places in a bag, and places in a car.
  • Keep it real with a 15 minute Reset (where for 4 time slots your team moves items back to the spaces where they are stored.)
  • If your team doesn’t exist, pick up a new team with high school or college age kids who want to earn money this summer.

No matter your list or strategy, you will be thrilled you allocated energy and time to organizing this summer!

I am a Certified Professional Organizer

Certified Professional Organizer

 

Are credentials important to you?  My “initials” in instagram represent a credential that’s valued beyond measure to me.  My industry offers a gold standard for working with clients.  It’s called Certified Professional Organizer®, which I have been since the program began in 2007.  I am so proud of my CPO that I always share this credential in articles, speaking and blogging.

 

Credentials are earned by passing a test to show a base line level of knowledge.   The test includes questions about my job, called a job task analysis, to be sure what is being tested applies to the work I do. To sit for the test, there are a required number of hours with clients.

 

What is required for certification?

You might say it’s surprising that there is a certification for this work.  Most clients inquire about how long I have been in business rather than the education or testing done.  Certification includes earning over 1250 hours in working with clients and passing a test over a body of knowledge for working in this field.  This credential is offered by the Board of Certification for Professional Organizers®.  There are a little over 350 CPOs globally. It’s an elite group!

 

Here’s more facts about my certification.

It’s more than passing a test! It’s about maintaining your education  with continuing education.

  • Every three years I recertify by earning 45 or more continuing education units.  I just recertified with 127 CEUs. I take classes to make a difference with you as my client and stay on top of industry and professional trends. We recertify every three years.  This is the year of my recertification.
  • I am bound by an enforceable Code of Ethics.
  • Certificates are not the same as certification. I also hold certificates of study in ADHD and chronic disorganization, as well as specialist certificates in life transitions and workplace productivity.
  • The CPO is the only certification endorsed by the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO).

 

Why certification matters

Certified Professional Organizers are committed to experience, education and ethics.  That’s who I want to work with when I am choosing a professional too!

 

 

Your Command Center for Papers

 

Your command center

 

desk top sorter acrylic desk top sorter

 

 

In our busy lives, information and paper come at us from all directions all the time! Where does all this come from? It comes in with the mail, from school or work, or in your purse! These items require immediate action, with dates and times to enter on our calendar, bills to pay, or addresses or service providers we may need later. The Command Center is a space for information and paper that needs easy access and quick retrieval.  Keep organized with a command center for paper.

Command Center location

Our first decision is where best to create the space for this work zone. Where do you see these papers? In most homes, it is the kitchen since it is the hub of your home.  In the office it is on your desk or on your credenza.  However, if your home office is on the first floor and in a central part of your home, this is a great space to establish this area. Your command center for paper must be located where it’s most valuable.

Setting up your Command Center

Begin by reviewing the current clutter that’s on your desk or counter. Start by deciding what to keep and what to toss. Be decisive! This ensures keeping only what you need.

Continue by sorting your papers into the categories that work for you. Most people need these categories: to do, to pay, to scan, pending, and to file. Other categories include the names of each of your children and partner, weekly activities, other school and organizations’ papers.  At work these categories include your assistant, your boss, hot projects and resources.

 

Choosing your container

Now that you have categories, decide what organizing product might assist you best in keeping these papers in order. Look around the space, measure the area for size, and think about your personal organizing style. Look for a desktop file suited to the décor of the space with hanging files to label with each category. You can also use wall pockets, one for each category, if you have h ave vertical space.  Be sure to choose a product you love and this will help you stay organized.

A calendar and bulletin board are a vital tools in this area too!  Add a month at a glance calendar where everyone can record their activities.  Placing it where all the family or your work colleagues can see it helps everyone stay on top of weekly plans.

 

Command Center routines

Designate an administrative time for you to work  on the command center. This routine usually takes just one hour a week, especially if you choose a time you are high energy to get the job done. Write your administrative time in your personal calendar to commit to the time and make yourself accountable to get the job done.

 

 

Creating a family Command Center and a work Command Center makes the difference in keeping information accessible and easy to locate. Find the right space, the right categories, the right products and the right time to make this work for you. You benefit by having balance and peace of mind!

 

 

Want more ideas on a command center for papers?  Visit my pinterest board Command Centers for Communication and Cohesiveness.

 

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