COVID-19 Get Organized for the New Normal

get organized for the new normal

 

Thinking of all that we have been navigating together, I want to congratulate you! You have been resourceful and creative, finding new ways to accomplish tasks.  In thinking of others and acting with kindness, you have supported small businesses, donated to help others and sewn masks for our community and medical professionals.  You have been with family in small spaces, working from home and working on corona school. It has been a learning curve with new technology and adjusting to old school phone calls as needed to resolve challenges.  For all of this time, you have had ups and downs too. High Five and Way to Go! You are a champion!

We are again entering a new phase with transitions.  I learned that there are five phases and soon we will enter phase 3. Who would have thought that masks, hand sanitizer and temperature checks would be a daily part of our lives? And here we are!  After our quarantine, we are venturing forth into the New Normal. It’s time for us to get organized! Getting organized means reorienting ourselves to tasks, time management, and self care.

 

Get familiar with the New Normal

From the grocery store to the work place, we have a new set of ways to communicate and go about business. It’s important for us to feel comfortable with the changes and incorporate these into our lives. Masks may be required or not, so keep your mask easy to access and clean. Your work place or other places may require temperature checks. Check your own temperature at home if in doubt or if you feel a bit off. Social distancing of 6 feet continues as we work and shop which means more time to do anything. We continue to clean and disinfect all areas including offices, bathrooms, common areas, and shared electronic equipment routinely. Knowing what to expect will require some reading and research.  Feeling familiar with the new “rules” will take a little time. Acting on each of these new ways to engage will also take more time.

 

Give yourself time

We have certainly been existing in a time warp.  What seemed to be seamless before is often a bit clunky.  This is the case with ordering through websites with delays in delivery due to USPS or Amazon. You may be applying online for unemployment or loans which take more time that you imagined. Checking to see if your applications are complete and accepted are cumbersome. There is curb side pick up for purchases which takes extra time to connect by text and then receive your goods. You use Open Table or call your restaurant to make reservations for dining in.

The New Normal will take more time in many ways.  It will take more time to get tasks accomplished. There will be glitches where we feel frustrated and anxious.  Give yourself the opportunity to be your best self by taking this extra time into account.  Going in and out of your work place will take extra time. There may be a single entrance, possibly temperatures taken, and social distancing in place.  Give yourself extra time to get to work on time. Many people have been enjoying working from how and will need to re-adjust to travel to and from work. Be sure you have extra time rather than rush to get on the road. By adjusting our expectations, we will be better prepared when oops happen. Giving yourself time for tranquility helps as well!

 

Continue with easy, simple organization

Now that you are a pro with technology, keep going on what is making your life easier.  For grocery ordering online, be sure to continue your regular routine for shopping.  Banking with your device app has simplified your deposits and financial work. Using the Notes app is our best way to capture thoughts and ideas.  Keeping contacts in your smart phone keep us connected, as well as our Zoom Happy Hours with long time friends.  We have learned a lot of useful, helpful technology to continue.

 

Ongoing Self care

The first thing we stop when things get busy is self care.  That’s not an option in the New Normal. Your self care should continue as a priority.  If you are exercising more outside and loving it, build that into your routine. As for time together for family dinner, block that time as sacred. Self care is what we learned must be continuous and ongoing, pandemic or not.

Crafting calendaring habits that will change your life

Calendar and planner

 

Truly crafting calendar habits can change your life.  Calendars and planners are our road map to fulfill our goals and intentions. With a plan and tools you use well, your life will be easier, more productive and more rewarding.

Most especially at the start of the year, however all year long, we search for creative solutions to calendaring. There are two parts to this search. The search for the “perfect” tool” and the search for how to put it to use.  This year more of my clients with ADHD are crafting calendaring habits that are changing their lives.

 

How to get started

Get started by finding the right tools.  Know if you are a paper, digital or hybrid planner person.  I am learning that my clients do best with all three styles and a hybrid variation of these styles. In this case, my clients have a large month at a glance view, a week at a glance view, on both paper on a wall and in a medium sized paper planner. My clients use their phone, laptop and other devices to lay this out too.

Typically I have conversations about having one planner and this is not the case here!  While it does add time and focus to maintain these planners, it is valuable because all the view of all the information helps with processing. It gives context to the data.  On a month at a glance you see your information in comparison to other activities. On a week at a glance you know what you must accomplish in the short time span. With a digital version, you create recurring events and routines. While investing in these tools, you are investing in the opportunity to process information and keep all your balls in the air.

 

Routines to get started

Front loading is the way to start. This term means to add all dates and plans right away, as soon as you receive the information. It also means to front load the level of work required on a project. Front loading takes advantage of your natural energy and interest in both your tools and your projects.  Having these dates, projects and information easily accessible creates a foundation.

 

Keeping on keeping on

There are two elements that keep you on track with your new habits. First, keep adding information and dates as soon as you know about them. This information is in text, email, papers, conversations and meetings. It can be easy to lose track of these. Take time each day to record this in your planner.  Second, review your planner each morning and each evening. It is not enough to record and reviewing daily keeps this information top of mind and fresh.  When I learn that your new calendaring habits are failing, the root is often these two parts.

 

A weekly calendar review time keeps you moving forward. Once a week, check in from a big picture and detail view of your planner. This weekly review is familiar to those following GTD.  It is time for mind sweep to capture all ideas to keep your brain working on work and not remembering.  Capture your mind sweep on paper or digitally, then slot in all the information in your planner. Schedule your weekly calendar review at the start of your week or the end of the week.  Planning is what keeps you up to date and on track.

 

The most important element in your life changing calendaring habits is to not give up. Developing new habits takes time. This is a work in progress each week for you to create a pattern with a combination of dates and projects, as well as work-life integration.  Remember if you skip or miss a week, just get right back to your calendar tomorrow or next week.  Your tenacity  will pay off!

 

Check out my ADHD Friendly tips here on YouTube.

Professional Organizers’ Favorite Planners

professional organizers' favorite planners

 

My clients and my colleagues are often searching for the perfect planner.  There’s a range of options for all of us, from digital to paper.   I polled my colleagues to help you determine what planners are most popular and why!

 

Planner requirements

What helps you determine the planner you choose?

  • Ability to quickly assess and add appointments
  • Agility in adding information to your planner
  • Size and portability
  • Attractive cover and interior pages

 

Here’s the responses

MaryJo: I’m a 100% digital calendar. I can color code and set reminders. I don’t leave home without my phone so I always have my calendar.

 

Melony: I’m old school. Franklin Covey Classic, ring bound 5.5×8.5, leather zip planner with lots of pockets.

 

Michelle: I have Erin Condren, Life Planner vertical layout this year. I like the format but it is so bulky.

 

Judy: The planner I love is the discbound planner with inserts (happy planner). I use the Louis Vuitton Monogram cover to hold everything together. I love this style of planner because you can customize it to your liking.

 

Me: I love the planner pad and love Outlook reminders. I have a hybrid system that works for me. I am visual so a paper planner lets me see it all and easily write in appointments. I have a few pockets for papers and use a binder clip to keep a pad of paper in the front.

 

Whatever your system, remember to have a weekly planning time with your planner and task list. It’s time to schedule your tasks and check on appointments.

 

More on planners and time management here!

How to make Time work for You

Be on time and be productive

 

Staying aware of time is one of the foundations of time management. It may be that you have a bit of “time blindness,” where you don’t see or feel time passing. Without this time awareness, you may be losing time and being less productive. Let’s admit it, when time passes we feel less effective and caught off guard.

 

Here are timely tips to help you track time and use it as you plan. You can rely on clocks, routines, and work flow to help you be your most productive.

 

  • Place a clock in all the important spots in your home or office. Time awareness begins with an analog clock.
  • Have a work flow, not necessarily a set schedule. Rather than a packed time table, set up work times that naturally flow in the context and content of your work.
  • Routines are the automation of time management. Establish routines that build success and structure for you. These routines begin and end your work day, and begin and end your daily life.
  • Use the Maximum and Minimum strategy to help you know how long a task or project can take. Assess what is the most and least amount of time for these and schedule your work accordingly.
  • Check out apps that can help you with time management. These include RescueTime, Toggl, and StayOnTask.
  • Use multiple alarms to keep you on track. These include one day out, one hour out, and 15 minutes out from a deadline.
  • Bedtime is the remedy for all time management challenges. Getting a great night’s rest solves many time management issues.
  • Schedule in free time, fun time and family time. Intentional time to disconnect and reconnect makes you more productive.

Choose a simple start for yourself with just one tip from this list to make you more aware of time and more effective in how you use your minutes and hours.

 

time flies and you're the pilot

Choosing Time Management Tools

Time management tools

 

Say the words time management and we say how can be manage time?  We can’t really. What we can do is track how we use time, understand how long a tasks takes, and prioritize what we spend out time on.   Time management tools help us track and record how we spent our time.   By tracking and recording our tasks and how much time each takes, we can be more productive about how we use our time.  These basic, elementary tools also empower us to be more productive.

 

Capture tools: planner and task list

A planner is where you place dates and appointments. It’s also where you can create a plan for your work by breaking tasks and projects into smaller units. Planners come in a variety of formats so choose what works for you.

 

A task list is where you record all the details. It’s the spot for all ideas, whether actionable or not.  The task list evolves into the 3 Most Important Tasks (MITs). Those the tasks that are assigned by date and recorded on your panner. These capture tools can include a simple notebook to the online tool Trello.

 

Both capture tools are essential for productivity. Knowing the high priority tasks, choosing which to schedule when, then you can use your planner.  Your planner is your every day map for getting stuff done.

Focus tools

These tools help you stay on track with your plan and ensure productivity.

 

A timer can help you start, finish and stay on task. Setting a timer helps make the shift into action.  It’s set to help you with the duration of the task. Using the Pomodoro technique, you can break up your work into chunks too.

 

An analog clock can help you gauge the beginning of a task.  Placing an analog clock where you can see time elapsing is beneficial in that you can assess how much time has passed and when to move onto the next step.

 

There are many apps that create more awareness about your own productivity.  RescueTime is a a digital tool to assess where you have spent your time.  This time management software helps you stay on track knowing that your time is being assessed. TimeDoctor give you tools for analysis for you and your team.  Trello helps you set up an online tracking tool.  Check out of one these on one of your devices.  Use these focus tools together to help you keep to your plan.

 

Time management concepts

Time management concepts provide the perspective of how to use your tools.

 

The Power of One highlights how important a single capture tool can be for you.  Capture your tasks and assigments in one place. It’s easier to know what you have to do and when you are doing this tasks.

 

Chunk your  work into segments that work for you. If you are someone who likes long time periods to work, create theme days to do this work. If you work for an hour at a time, break your work into these units.  Chunking is a powerful way to be sure you are accomplishing and not procrastinating.

 

 

Now you have the tools. It’s time to put them to use!  Be sure to have your planner, task list, clock and timer at your side at all times.  Put them to work today as you start your work day.

 

More time management tips here! Join my newsletter!

 

 

 

4 Surprising Ways to Use a Planner

4 ways to use a planner

“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”  ― Allen Saunders

A goal without a plan is just a wish.”   ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”   ― Benjamin Franklin

 

It’s all just a wish until you make a plan! Whether it’s home, work, meals or exercise, a planner helps you accomplish your goals. It sets the road map for your work and helps you track your metrics. Here’s some planner love for you!

 

Work planner

work planner

 

A week at a glance planner, where you can easily write on it and see it, makes it easier to accomplish your goals.  What special about this planner page is that you write in your priorities at the start of the week. This helps you stay on task and keeps away distractions.

 

Meal planner

meal planner

 

One of our most important goals is to plan meals for ourselves and our families. This weekly meal plan helps you write down what you are preparing and what ingredients you will need.  In the notes section, track information about the recipes. Keep each week in a binder to use as a meal rotation schedule.

 

Exercise planner

workout planner

Weekly exercise can be a lofty goal.  Here’s a planner that’s a weekly tracker.  It’s creating a plan for you that is specific, measurable and realistic. Keep your tracker with you to be sure you get your workout complete.

 

Travel planner

Travel planner

 

We’re off on a wonderful adventure! We want to share our travel information with friends and family. This travel planner helps us share the most important information.

 

Of course, all my blog posts on planners must share my love of the planner pad!

 

This week as you do your weekly planning, download one of the extra planners to help you get things done.  It will help you stay accountable and work on what’s missing from your goals.

2018 Word of the Year: Possibilities

Possibilities

 

Each year I choose a word as my reference for what my intentions are.  Other’s choose SMART goals or consistent habits.  It’s a guide that has been my stead for some time.  The guide word, also known as your one word or your word of the year, is catching on as a way to create change in your life.

 

This year my word is possibilities 

I am inspired by my clients who think about possibiltities.  What is possible this year? What can be a possibility that I should think about as I work or play?  What would be the options if there were fewer or no limits?

 

I chose my word possibilities as I thought of entering a new decade.  (Yes, this year my age ends in a 0.)  As a professional organizer and productivity consultant, I am a believer in limits, guides, structure and all that is established and set. This limit setting is intrinsic to every fiber in me. It’s who I am.   It came to mind that perhaps I have this year an opportunity to take ideas further by opening myself to possibilities.

 

What’s your new year beginnings?

I’d love to know your new year goals, new habits or word of the year!

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!

5 Simple ADHD Time Management Tips

5 simple adhd time management tips

 

Do you feel there’s not enough time to get important work complete?  In the corporate world, a “perennial time-scarcity problem” afflicts executives all over the globe. In small businesses, owners wear many hats from marketing to providing services, which can stretch anyone and everyone.   Here’s 5  simple ADHD time management tips to help you be productive and get stuff done.

 

Write down your 3 Most Important Tasks each day.

Start your day with your 3 most important tasks.  Look at your calendar, your tasks, your projects and your goals.  Look far enough out to assess how much time you need for these.  Either written or digital, your tasks should be prioritized by your Return on Investment. Pick what has the biggest impact for your work.

Set a power hour and eliminate distractions.

Set and protect one hour during your most high focused time of day.  It’s important to know when you work best which is when you work most effortlessly and with flow.  A single distraction can set you back 20 minutes so turn off electronics, shut your door, put up a note on your cubicle or have a colleague catch distractions.  In one hour you can accomplish so much!

 

Use a timer to get started.

A timer is a great motivator for you.  Set your timer for 15 minutes to get you going.  Timers are part of the Pomodoro technique, a well-known productivity method with intervals of 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break. RescueTime is a free tool to record your time online by tracking websites and applications.  It helps you understand where you are using your time each day. It’s an automated time for your online time.

Assess the amount of time needed.

Whether it’s a task or project, a general idea of how long to accomplish will help.  There are two truths to this: that we may not know how long and work can expand to fit the time we give it.  A rough estimate, then doubled, can be a guide.  It will help you realistically project completion.

 

Time block your time.

Every task and project needs an assigned time to accomplish.  Block your work in chunks, assigned to specific times.  Scheduling is required to get stuff done. Your schedule can include routines that happen weekly at the same time.  These routines can carry you through what seems like small insignificant administrative work, work that you may have been trying to squeeze in.

 

While we can’t really manage time, what we can do is use better tools to be productive.  Choose just one of these tips to get started on making time work better for you.

 

Need more time management tips?  Join my newsletter here. 

I am an Organizer Coach now!

I am an organizer coach

A common element I have learned about all of us is that we need support.  That support can look like many things and come from many different elements. Support comes from processing information, using what we know, and incorporating our strengths into a new awareness and perspective. You are using your strengths and knowledge to create a plan and act on it.

There are times we need extra support, especially in times of change and transition.  Those times include when we want to start something new, when we are faced with new opportunities and challenges and when we are taking responsibilities and relationships to the next level. When times are most challenging there is the best opportunity for building new relationships, overcoming challenges, accelerating growth, setting new goals and achieving success.

 

I have always valued education because furthering my skills makes a difference for my clients.  My clients are the reason I continue to learn new ways to help them let go, streamline and keep their intentions daily in their lives. Completing my Coach Approach training is one way for me to empower my clients with their home, work and life goals.  I am an Organizer Coach who works one on one with clients to empower your change and goals.

 

For the past year, and several years before, I have been taking classes via phone, working on skills in small groups, and completing a curriculum to become an Organizer Coach.  My classes and reading have included learning about modalities, using new tools to help my clients such as a values and needs assessment, and learning more about ADHD, depression and anxiety. Throughout the year I have coached or been coached in 3 different small groups to practice my skills and learn what it is like to be coached.

 

How do these new skills help you, my client?

  • Are you stuck and can’t get started? Coaching supports awareness, action and learning.  Your new awareness will lead you into action.  Getting started and finishing up are often holding back my clients until we work together.  Learning comes from perspectives at your success.  Overall, coaching supports maintaining the change you have created.
  • Need a trusted coach to listen to you?  I believe in the strengths of my clients. You bring thoughts and ideas and my listening brings focus to our work. Your values, needs and strengths are all a part of our work together.
  • Do you feel overwhelmed and paralyzed?  Your strengths are the foundation of organizing in your home, work and life. It’s easier to maintain the systems you establish by working from your strengths.
  • Do you struggle with ADHD or anxiety?  Brain based conditions, such as ADHD and anxiety, can impact your executive function and your goals. Our work together will move you forward as you create new awareness and learning.
  • Have you created support for your efforts?  Essential structures, such as self awareness, support and education are the baseline for your life.  Together we investigate how these essential structures support your organizing goals.

 

Ready to take a step forward?  Our sessions are virtual one hour meetings on Join.me, in a sequence of 4 sessions, to help you achieve your goals. Let’s talk today to connect and learn how we ca partner.