Sharpen Your Saw Productivity

sharpen the saw aka be more productive

 

Have you heard the Abraham Lincoln’s tale of the woodcutter and his axe?  It’s the story of how important keeping your skills, tools, and technology current. It’s a good reminder for us all that to do our best work and be productive, we need to keep ourselves sharp.  What’s best to keep sharp?

Organize your desk top and minimize clutter

The slide into a cluttered space happens every day as we work.  Paper piles up on our desk.  An uncluttered space helps you stay on track and manage your time effectively. When you are organized, you can find what you need quickly and save time.  You are undistracted and more focused on your work.  Solutions to create a more organized space include having only specific items out on your desk that you use daily, minimizing desk top clutter. You can set up a file drawer that contains “drop slots” for big picture weekly priority actions such as finances, clients, and vendors at work or bills, family and receipts for home. It’s most important to use a planner that capture your goals, projects, and tasks written in yearly, quarterly, weekly and daily. Set up a little time daily, just 15 minutes, to keep your desk clear and ready to use.

 

Learn new technology

Technology changes all the time. There are new tools to use and our time tested tools upgrade. It takes time to learn new technology and it can be a struggle for some of us. There’s value in researching new technology that can improve your efficiency and effectiveness. Look for tech gurus who help you learn what  you need and how to use it. It’s best to learn the tool before you need it in order to save time at a crucial project point.

 

Jump start your routines

Routines are smooth running processes that help us be productive.  When put in place, all the nitty gritty gets completed.  Each week, host your own one hour productivity meeting. It’s you, your calendar, your lists, and a beverage.  During your one hour productivity meeting, you review your lists, review your goals, assign tasks, break down projects into manageable tasks, and calendar all your activities.  In one well timed hour you are in control of your plans.  What about distractions and other interruptions? Leave time in your plan for these with some flexibility. Overscheduling can lead to discouraging results.  Each day, write down your 3 Most Important Tasks (MITs). First off, know what is most important with ongoing effort, not just an approaching deadline. Stretch out your efforts over several days to achieve results you are proud to own.  As you practice with MITs and your productivity meeting, your weeks will run more smoothly.

 

Faithfully check, add to and review your planner

Everyone needs a planner.  You wrote it all down in your planner or on your digital calendar, and then what happened? It’s not magic to think you will remember it all.  Set your planner so you can see it daily and add audio reminders if needed. Your productivity road map is only as good as your use of it.  Take a minute when you think of a task or project to record it right away.

 

BONUS: Sharpening your saw depends on your self care

How we approach our efforts depends in part on how we take care of ourselves. The best first step to sharpening your saw is a night’s rest, nutrition and exercise. Your brain requires sleep, protein and exercise.  Insuring that you are getting sleep, eating properly and taking a walk are the best ways to be sure you are using all your tools, tips and tricks.  The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that healthy adults get a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night, with an overall range of between seven to eight hours. Protein is a main factor for your brain. Exercise increases productivity too.   If you can start with just one of these, start with getting 7 hours of sleep a night.  Your brain and body will be refreshed and ready to work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Walk Every Morning

why walk every morning

 

As an organizer coach, I write about routines, self care and productivity. As one who “walks the walk,”  each morning I literally walk.  I get up at the same time (another routine like walking) to make time to start each day with a walk.  My morning is a productive and organized start to my day.

 

Morning is a glorious time of day.

The birds are singing and the sky is blue. I am grateful for the smell of wet grass.  Being a morning person, this is when I do my best thinking about life, work, family and health.  Taking a morning walk is the best start to my day.  All the sights, sounds and smells remind me of all I am grateful for each day.  My morning walk brings a smile to my face and starts the day off with jubilantly.

 

Setting my priorities

My health is a priority. I want to live a strong, healthy life. I have walked my neighborhood for nearly 30 years.  With the emphasis on walking 10,000 steps a day, I typically get in 5,000 steps in the morning.  It’s an easy way to boost my energy and strength. Not surprising, walking is a brain boost too. Research shows, “One year of walking increased functional connectivity between aspects of the frontal, posterior, and temporal cortices,” thereby reducing brain dysfunction in aging.  Walking enhances brain health.

 

Finding support

I walk alone or with a friend.  I appreciate my time alone to reflect, find new perspectives and gather my thoughts. I reflect on many different goals, like connections with other, my work and When I walk with a friend, I assess, set new goals, and laugh at life. Sometimes I call a friend or catch up with a mastermind partner where we together help each other. You can reach your goal with support, whether the support is a team effort, a teacher, or a friend.

 

What is your morning like? Is it a chaotic rush to get out of the house? A crabby, frustrated start to the day? Here’s how to make your start to the day what you want it to be.

  • Decide what makes your day “work.”  That means, what gets you started and what gets  you ready for a positive and productive day.  Spiritual reading, practicing meditation, and doing yoga are all ideas that I frequently hear from friends and clients as how they WISH they started their days.  Make a commitment to yourself to start your day in the best possible way.
  • Set your bedtime and adhere to it.  Too often the best morning is derailed  by a late bedtime.  Get in bed at a time that gives you ample rest to be ready to start your day refreshed.
  • Commit to keeping a morning schedule that works for you.
  • Set your goal and work out the steps and the process to make your goal happen.
  • A productive and organized start to my day leads to a productive and organized day.

 

I look forward to my morning walk and feel like something is missing if my day starts without a walk. I know you will find that one thing that makes for your best start of your day too! You will find that a productive and organized start to your day makes a difference.

One ADHD Family, Five Planners

 

1 adhd family 5 planners

Back to school means back to planners.  Planners are what keep families and individuals sane during the school year. It’s where we keep dates, deadlines, meetings and ideas. With ADHD, having a great planner is a must.  When I work with families, one of my first ways to make a difference is to recommend a planner.  In one family I work with, all the members know the value and are excited about using their planners.  Here’s the story of one ADHD family, five planners.

 

Mom’s traditional planner

Mom uses a traditional, month at a glance calendar.  She is working 2 part time out of the home jobs and her “family manager” mom job.  Mom loves to quilt and is a member of a quilt guild too.  Her calendar keeps her on track with where she should be on what day.  Mom like the month at a glance view to keep from being overwhelmed.

 

Big sister’s creative calendar

Big sister is starting an advanced degree. Her schedule includes a part time job and part time school.  Big sister’s calendar is customized for her routines, like cleaning her apartment, and self care, like hydration.  Big sister has a combination, daily, weekly and monthly calendar system bound together in a spiral.  She loves that all her priorities are in one place.

 

Little sister’s  Agendio planner

Little sister is starting her final college years, works a busy part time job and attends college full time.  She found a daily planner overwhelming and uses a template in Agendio to create a weekly/monthly planner.  She keeps her syllabus in her planner, as we as uses time blocking to keep up with her schedule.

 

Little brother Academic Planner

Little brother is beginning college.  While not a big fan of planners, Little sister has highy recommended this as a crticial element for colleg success.  Little brother uses order out of chaos academic planner because it’s big blocks to enter information.

 

Dad and his digital planner

Dad keeps all his information digitally.  He views it at wor on Outlook and checks his phone at home.

 

The big take away from this family is:  Use a planner that works for you and be productive!

Productivity Quotes I Love

 

 

 

Choosing Priorities and Most Important Tasks

Choosing Priorities 3 Most Important Tasks

 

Every day is busy and each project, task and appointment seem equally important to complete.  When we get too busy, it’s hard to prioritize.  As a result, it’s harder to make sure we are focused on our priorities. Does it seem like a vicious cycle?  I am here to help with a simple idea and a download to help you each day set priorities and keep up with your goals.

 

 

The problem: are you focusing on the priorities?

We get a lot done! But are you getting the right things done?  Some tasks take care of themselves and some need focus. It seems the tasks that are easy to us get done.  However, the tasks with extra steps, those that take longer or there is an element of fear, these don’t get attention.  These tasks can be laundry, meal preparation, a report for work or taxes. We may never be without underwear, but we might have that nagging feeling there is something we are missing.

 

The solution: Your 3 Most Important Tasks

As Zen Habits notes, put purpose in your day with your 3 Most Important Tasks (MITs).  The idea is that the 3 tasks must get done today, no matter.  If additional tasks are accomplished, that’s a productivity bonus.  Your most important tasks are individual to you and your goals.  “What are the three most important things that I could do today that will help move me closer to my goals?”  The goals could be about relationships, spirituality, productivity, work, or exercise.  A task is one small step of advancing to your goal.

 

Start your 3MITs here.

Let’s move into action with your 3 MITs.  This download is a way to set your MITs, remind you of your goals, and set a time to accomplish your MITs.  Set a time each day, at the end or beginning of your day, to write these down.  Think about your day and when is the best time for your work on each task.

 

ChoosingPrioritiesDownload

 

Most people find that the end of the day is the best time to work on the MITs.  When you start your day it’s already focused.  If you write your MITs in the morning, get an early start so you can not only write but start your day on time.  Creating this system for MITs helps you knock out your tasks early in the day too.

Your MITs will help you get the most important tasks done more consistently.  That’s the whole idea behind productivity!

 

 

Here’s ideas to be more productive! Join my newsletter here!

 

 

Spring Forward

Spring forward spring organizing

 

Each morning I am noticing the sun rising earlier, indicating it’s almost time for us to Spring Forward with a time change. While not something easy to embrace, the extra sunshine at the end of the day is a bonus.   What ways can we use that daylight hour to Spring Forward take better care of ourselves as well?  Here’s a few ideas I have.

Sunny, happy times

Research shows the value of sunshine on our emotional well being. Longer days mean more sunshine.  Sunlight cues seratonin, boosting your mood, helping you be calm and helping you stay focused.  Getting 15 minutes of sunshine boosts Vitamin D which helps bone health.

 

Time for exercise

Studies show that walking 10,000 steps in a day helps us keep active both physically and mentally.  With busy days that start early, the sunny evening time is great for a walk. Walking with your partner and kids is a bonus time for communication and sharing what’s happened that day.

 

Time for dinner

Longer daylight hours give us extra time to prepare dinner. Sitting down to dinner during daylight energizes you and your family.  The Family Dinner project shares ways to include easy meals to help you get dinner on the table.

 

Routines that make the most of extra daylight

  • End your day with meditation with the Headspace app.
  • Create a checklist for routines with dinner, including family members cooking and cleaning together.
  • Plan time for exercise with a family walk or bike ride.
  • Create a good sleep routine by stopping technology an hour before bedtime, keeping your bedtime the same, and keeping clutter out of your bedroom.
  • Spend 15 minutes with spring organizing at the end of your day.  Daylight will keep you energized.

 

By embracing this change, like all other changes, you will find more order and productivity in your day.

 

 

 

Using Your Strengths to be More Productive

Using your Strengths to be more Productive

 

I recently completed Coach Approach for Organizers coaching class named Strength Based Coaching.  I have always thought about using your strengths to maximize productivity and organizing.  A strength based effort felt right, much more so than focusing on weaknesses.  Strengths capitalize on success, while weaknesses may make us feel like we are not capable. While learning, I thought of my clients and how they focus on strengths to get more done.  Here’s 4 ways to use your strengths to be more productive.

 

How do I know my strengths?

When you look back at your schooling, what did you find worked well to learn?  Did you see it, hear it, do it, talk about it, write about it, think it through or just feel it was right?  There are many modalities we use to learn with and those are the same strengths we use as adults.    Look back and reflect on what was easiest for you.  Whether it’s learning new technology like a smart phone  or learning new tasks at work, we are always learning. For me, I learned that I am a visual and tactile learner. I like to see information to learn it and write out information to solidify my learning.  I use my cognitive modality to create frameworks and systems to incorporate learning.

 

How do I use these strengths for planning?

The debate continues for paper or digital planners.  Look to your strengths to help you decide what works for you.  A paper planner works well for visual and tactile learners.  You can easily see all the details on paper and write in your dates and tasks.  A digital planner works well for auditory learners.  Auditory reminders make it easier for auditory learners.  For verbal processors, that being people who like to speak to process, setting up a family or work meeting helps.  Verbal processors are talking through the upcoming dates and plans.  Setting a consistent date, like every Sunday evening, commits you to planning as well.  Think through the ways you can use your strengths to determine your planning tools.

 

How do I use my strengths for maintaining a task list?

There’s oodles of choices for list making.  With a visual or tactile strength, a basic notebook can help you get started.  Post it notes can be an option for kinesthetic modality.  You write one task on one note, post them, and then tear them up once completed. If you are an auditory learner, using reminder chimes help you get tasks done.  If you a cognitive processor, one who thinks through the options,  you want to categorize your list.  It’s easier to be productive with a framework. A verbal processor will want to talk through the list as it is created. For cognitive processors who like a framework, establishing a system for tasks is just what’s needed.  We can all approach tasks differently using our strengths to be successful.

 

How do I use my strengths for organizing?

An organized person is a productive person.  Getting organized is a basic step for being more productive.  What does organized look or feel like to you? That’s the key!  Organized is different for each of us. For those who are visual, it can be a minimal environment with few distractions or a lovely aesthetic.  For auditory strengths, you might have classical music in the background.  Based on the kinesthetic strength, you may want a standing desk.  Keeping aware of your modality helps you maintain your organized space too.

What about all these other things I am not getting done?

When your productivity is lagging despite using your strengths, delegating and collaborating are options. Find an assistant , team member or colleague who has strengths that match your weaknesses.  When you delegate, start with a small, specific, deadline driven task.  When you collaborate, be sure everyone knows their specific job and when it is due.  Keep your deadlines short so you can communicate and stay on track.

 

I have not shared all the modalities we explored. To learn more, check out Denslow Brown’s book, The Processing Modalities Guide. I know it will create curiosity and interest for you.

 

More tips for productivity here! Join my newsletter!

 

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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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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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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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