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

How to Tackle Organizing your 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.

A Peek Inside the Homes of Professional Organizers

Sneak peek into professional organizers’ homes

As NAPO National President, I have had the pleasure of visiting chapters throughout the country. On my visits, it’s a treat to stay with a friend who is in the area.  It’s fabulous to see the ways my colleagues organize their homes.  Truly it’s fun to see innovation, favorite products, and routines that serve us well.

 

Innovation

My colleagues find innovative ways to use their spaces. In big cities where space is small, they use lots of creative storage to keep organized.

  • Their closets include shelving installations that maximize the space.  By using vertical space, these professional organizers are taking advantage of what’s available.
  • Back of door organizers are also frequent storage additions.  It’s either a metal rack or a shoe organizer. As in all busy homes, what’s stored there is what is used most frequently as you head out the door.
  • Need storage in a certain spot?  Command hooks to the rescue!  Hooks can be used for inside closets, over sinks and any spot you need to access something.
  • Furniture serves double purposes.  It often is retrofitted for file storage, exercise equipment storage or multiple uses.

 

Favorite products

By far the most frequently used product is a shoe box size plastic bin.  Professional organizers use these for all sorts of categorizing, whether in a closet to keep mittens and scarves together to keeping pet leashes and pet accessories together.  In pantries shoe box size plastic bins hold floppy foods and spices, such as pastas or spice mixes.

 

For the kitchen, another favorite product is the lazy susan.  This small spinner keeps easy access in kitchens for spices and a large spinner keeps access to condiments.   It’s used in pantries, cabinets and in the refrigerator.

 

Professional organizers love their closets!  Shoe organizers and shoe boxes hold less frequently worn shoes. Slim line hangers have neatly arranged items by color.

 

Command hooks rule! If there is a spot where access would help, add a command hook there to keep an item where you can find it.  In the kitchen it might be a potholder by the stove. In the entry closet it might be a purse near the door.

 

Routines

Professional organizers practice what they preach with routines. They have a donate bag in their closets to give away clothes routinely.  They have pared down their linens to just one or two sets so there is little to store.  My colleagues have just enough stock in their pantries for a week or so, and not too much.  It’s because they shop routinely weekly and use fresh produce.  Laundry baskets are there to keep a routine for washing and folding.

 

My colleagues use both paper and digital planners.  Tasks have dates and deadlines. It’s a pleasure to visit our national chapters because our members have made all the arrangements for this project.  Their tasks lists include paper lists, trello and asana.  Everyone knows where to be, how to be prepared and how to finish up after a project.  (Yes, they are all so very organized!)

 

Thank you dear friends for sharing your homes with me! It’s delightful to visit organized and welcoming homes!

Hugs and Happy Organizing: Whole House Organizing

organize your house

 

Whole house organizing is a big project!  We all want to have a place for everything and everything in it’s place. It’s essential for us to work  in baby steps to accomplish this goal.  Many times at the outset of our work together my clients ask how long it will take.  Remember that we are not only changing what your home looks like and how it works. We are also changing your (and those who live with you) habits.  It’s truly a case where every situation is different.

 

My client and I worked together weekly or every other week to create order in her kitchen, office, son’s room, master bedroom, master closet and master bath.   In these photos you can see the significant transformation that occurred each time we met.

 

home organizing before and after

 

To date, she and her family love the outcome! They have stayed organized because we worked together on her spaces to create systems and routines that work for them.

 

Her comment on her work is this, “best money and time I ever spent!”

 

Finding your Motivation

 

 

finding your motivation

 

There’s nothing more motivating than, “company’s coming” when it comes to organzing.

There’s many motivations for making a change, getting organized and being more productive. There’s also many obstacles that keep us from getting started. One of those might be ADHD, where procrastination, lack of organizing skills and being overwhelmed keep you from getting started. Having inspiration and accountability can motivate you and get your work started. Finding your motivation is key.

 

Motivational Experiences

I recently met with a client who knew, now is the time to get organized. She had experienced flooding, health challenges and was looking at new healthy choices. She had recently rebuilt her home and was prepared to make her home the organized and productive spot she craved. Her life with ADHD had held her back before and now she had compelling reasons to begin.

I have also met with client who worked long hours, raised her family and one day looked at her home and said, “wow how did all this stuff get here?” She had invested her time in good and important goals and now knew it was time to make a change in her surroundings. While focused on the important parts of making a living for her family, she had gotten overwhelmed with the inflow of stuff.

When you know it’s time to make a change to your life, your home, your work, that’s the most compelling time to get organized. What makes for a compelling reason to change? It’s truly an individual decision and a decision you can make at any time.

 

 Motivational Media

Motivation in the form of Marie Kondo’s Netflix show is sweeping the nation this year. A new show called Home Edit is in production. It’s leading to other media connections, like podcasts, blog posts, and social media. In Tidying Up the tv show, we see many like us who have struggled with clutter. The kind inspiration offered by Marie Kondo leads us to be grateful and let go of things that are unneeded.

 

There are social media posts that are keeping us motivated too. Seeing other’s conquer their clutter on Instagram or Facebook help us know that we can do this. Forming a social media group that works together to reaffirm your motivation, keep you accountable by posting your successes and support you as you move forward are very instrumental. There’s existing clutter support on Facebook to join if you want this resource.

 

Motivational Practices

Decluttering is overwhelming. Setting quick, small, practical and realistic routines into place make it easy to be motivated. These practices include placing 5 items in a bag once a week and dropping these off at a donation location, or decluttering for 10 minutes in one space daily. It’s about creating baby steps that moves you forward.

Schedule time for organizing. In our busy lives, while we are motivated, we have not assigned a time to do the work. That time must be designed into your schedule each.

 

Motivational Team Members

Your team is crucial to your motivation. It’s about feeling truly supported as you work. That support comes in questions that coach you, support that acknowledges feelings and praise for each step. There’s no limit to your possible team members including those available by cell and facetime or professionals to coach and teach skills to your kids and grand kids. Start by building your team to help you begin and continue to be motivated.

 

The most compelling motivation to me has always been something I keep very close in my thoughts. Every day it is those thoughts that help me make the choices that impact my life in a positive way. Thankfully it has been making priorities clear and simple. I encourage you to think about your priorities and how they impact your motivation. Jump right in and get started on your organizing today!

best time to start was yesterday next best time is now

 

11 Summer Routines

 

summer organizing routines

 

 

It’s summer and we love the lack of routines. There are some days we can stay in pajamas all day and play unlimited. The change of seasons is best when you create new routines that suit the season itself. Summer routines makes the season more fun! Check out these 11 routines that make life better.

 

1. Set a bedtime.

Even in the summer it’s best when everyone gets a great night’s rest. When everyone is in bed, parents can shut off their lights early too.

 

2. Start or end the day with a bike ride or a walk.

Get moving this summer with time for exercise. The days are longer so you can take advantage of the cooler summer dusk to get outside.

 

3. Set tech limits.

It’s easier to set limits at the beginning than nag all summer. Your limits can include using a timer so when the bell rings, it’s time to get started on something else.

 

 

4. Eat 3 fruits and veggies each day.

Summer brings lots of great vegetables in season. Try something new like a mango or kiwi. Pick your own blueberries or strawberries.

 

 

5. Brain boost with flash card, a workbook, or tech games.

It takes up to 2 weeks to review when school begins.  Keep your kids brains fresh all summer. Join the fun by learning too!

 

 

6. Read every day. It can be a book, a blog, or a magazine.

Read together as a family so you all spend time together. Talk about what you read to share information of all types.

 

 

7. Set aside weekly down time.

Summer is our time to unwind. Intentionally plan time to do nothing. You will be surprised how refreshed you feel and less stressed too. Mark off those days on your calendar to be sure they stay open.

 

 

8. Establish ways your family can help around the house.

Helping prep and cook dinner, taking out the trash, and laundry are ways kids can be more involved during the summer. There’s fewer school responsibilities so add in a few for your home.

 

9. Declutter a little at a time.

Just 15 minutes to declutter drawers, under the sink, and other small spots around the house. Have your kids declutter their own rooms. It’s a time your kids can assess what’s most important to them and share their blessings with others. This is especially helpful if there are summer birthdays in your home.

 

10. Play games and do puzzles.

Hopscotch, Monopoly, Bingo, Old Maid and many other games are great family fun. Our kids don’t always know there are other games besides technology.

 

11. Practice gratitude together.

Gather together each day to share what you are grateful for. It can be through a conversation at dinner or a gratitude journal. Knowing that we are blessed by our family and friends helps us all be more positive.

 

BONUS!

Keep hydrated with plenty of water. Have a camelback water thermos for each kid and yourself. Keep it refilled all day long and carry it with you. We all need lots of hydration during the summer.

 

 

Your summer routines add a little structure to busy days. When everyone shares the routines in their home, life runs more smoothly. What routines can you start this week at your family meeting for summer?

 

What summer routines are in place at your home?

 

Join me on Facebook for more summer fun!

 

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!

Spring Organizing Office Edition

 

Spring organizing office

 

Offices and office spaces continual to evolve as more of our work becomes digital.  There’s lot of digital decluttering to do as a result.  This Spring more your office forward to become more electronically  organized.

 

Edit first

All offices are busy and it’s a low priority to eliminate digital clutter.  Start a 15 minute daily edit of digital clutter.  Look first at email, then documents.  In multiple 15 minute time slots you can pare down what is not needed. Now assess your duplicate documents and drafts. You can add these to trash to clear space and clear up confusion of the final document.

 

Attend to your desk top

We’re talking computer desk top here!  Add documents into folders and eliminiate any extra icons. There’s clarity here now.  Add a beautiful and serene screen saver for you to see when you are disconnected.

 

Graphics organizing

If you are a social media maven, it’s your graphics that can also need refreshing.  Use a content driven organizing system.  Group your graphics and photos by topic in your pictures to easily access and use your items.

 

Unsubscribe to unwanted

You may have once wanted to learn about a topic, and now you are saturated with email subscriptions. Take 15 minutes to unsubscribe rather than delete your unwanted subscriptions.  Less incominng newsletters free up time.  If you don’t want to let go of these, or incoming coupons, create an additional email account to directly access this when wanted.

 

Update your passwords

We change our passwords, hoping to remember then each time.  Update your password keeper in order to easily log on.  Change passwords if it’s been a while for sensitive sites.  Now log in on all your devices so that you have access from your smart phone or tablet.

 

Control the cords

Technology advances quickly.  It’s time to recycle your older devices and cords. Gather these together with the cords to donate.  Label the remaining cords to know what goes together. Store the cords at point of use in a drawer if used frequently or in a box under a cabinet if not.

Now you and your office are ready for a productive Spring!

 

 

 

Still cluttered in there with paper?  Here’s where to get started!

 

 

5 Ways to Make Mother’s Day Extra Special (and last beyond that one day)

Mother's Day. Extra Special Experiences

 

Mother’s Day is here and you may have already purchased your mom the best gift ever! Or you may have plans with her to make her breakfast in bed and bring her flowers.  Celebrating Mom should likely last more than a day.  There’s ways that you and your mom can create lasting memories together.  Here’s ways to show you care that make for special times together. The best part is that Mother’s Day lasts throughout the year with these ideas.

 

Create a Mother-Child Bucket list together

You and your mom can noodle about and decide on an activities list.  The list can include going on a road trip together, cooking a family recipe, or learning a new hobby.  Add dates to when you want to plan your activities to be sure you get these checked off.

 

Volunteer for a cause together

Your mom and you both have generous spirits and are passionate about making a difference. Choose a way to give back together that makes a difference locally or globally.  It can be one big volunteer experience or a routine activity.

 

Read the same book at the same time

Want to be in the best book club?  Join a book club together or create one of your own.  It’s twice as fun to read and review together.  You can also listen to the book on Audible.

 

Meet for lunch monthly

A gift of time can be the best gift.  Set a time each month to meet for lunch without any distractions or additional guests.  Alone time with Mom is precious.

 

Organize photos together

Mom has buckets, drawers and boxes of photos. She may be overwhelmed by them all. It’s more fun to organize together!  Gather up supplies for paper photos and grab your devices for digital photos. Guaranteed you will not only have fun, you will learn a lot about family memories!

 

Create a memory for Mom

There are many of us without a mom.  Even without Mom here, we can create a memory about her. For our family, that memory often includes eating a special food Mom loved or lighting a candle in her memory.   Choose a way to honor your family members who have passed. It’s a memory you create for all of your family.

 

More ways to celebrate Mom and share the love here!

How Goals, Calendar and Schedule Alignment Work for You

How goals, calendars and schedule alignment works for you

 

Tire alignment, also known as wheel alignment, can help your tires perform properly and help them last longer. It can also improve handling and keep your vehicle from pulling in one direction or vibrating strangely.  

 

It’s clear that tire alignment helps you save money and time.  How might alignment work for us when we are talking about productivity?  When your goals, calendar and schedule are aligned, it helps you with your performance.  That performance is getting tasks and projects completed with less stress and more joy.  When your life is in alignment, you are feeling the bonus of work life integration.  Just how do we accomplish alignment when our life seems out of kilter?

 

Check your goals first

Review your current calendar to align your goals and your actions. Is what’s on your current calender reflecting your annual or quarterly goals?  Do you see a direct connection to what your responsibilities are each month and week?  Are there times for self care and relationship building?  Knowing how close you are already to alignment will be a guidepost for you.

Write out your best week

As you look over your calendar, you may be dismayed to see disjointed and disconnected dates and activities.  Take a whole new look at your week with a best week calendar. Michael Hyatt refers to this as your “ideal week.”  This is setting yourself up for success to know what this looks like.  With a blank calendar start with filling in what are your priorities.  Parallel your plans with consistent routines for similar activities.  That would be exercising every morning at 6 am, working with clients starting every day at 10 am, and hosting meetings at 2 pm.  See what new awareness comes from this exercise.

It’s going to take time to get your best week aligned with your current week so start small. What tweaks can you put in place?  Where are there options to create alignment? What if you have no control over your goals, deadlines or tasks?  Here’s where to talk to your team and seek out solutions together.

 

Keep aware of where alignment can occur

Changes are naturally occurring on a regular basis. A client ends, a new project starts, or a new boss comes on the scene.  When you seek improved alignment, that’s when you take advantage of a shift.   Look for where new possibilities are happening. Let’s say your 10 am Monday meeting shifts to 2 pm on Tuesday.  Now you can place your high quality work on Monday mornings instead.  Another option is to schedule shorter more frequent meetings at a lower energy time.

 

Is perfect alignment possible?

There is not necessarily that you are seeking perfect alignment as there are changes occuring regularly. What you are working toward is every improving alignment for yourself. There’s also random tasks, especially administrative tasks, that are part of your week.   If you can batch adminstrative tasks to be more productive about these.

 

Remember that for tire alignment, a periodic check is required.  Use your Strategic Planning to continually assess your goals, and then assess your alignment. What you will find as the most powerful benefit is that you are feeling more on top of your goals as a result.