How to Create More Work Life Integration

 

Work life integration

 

It’s often said no one wished they had worked more.  Living the life you imagine is about working smarter, playing harder and being with those who are most important.   As we assess just how to accomplish this, we seek solutions to creating more work life integration on a consistent basis.

 

Dig deep: prioritize what is a part of work and life

To start with, you have to cull priorities.  Everything just can’t be equally important. We can have times where priorities alternate, what I call “seasons”.  For each part of the year these priorities can change.  Most likely fall is about getting back to work and routines. Spring is about lightening up your work schedule. Summer is about having fun.  As we seek out priorities for our lives, keep these to your top 3.  That sounds small and insignificant, however it’s what can be accomplished.

 

Engage in weekly planning time

That endless list running in your head? It’s time to capture it and calendar it. Your list and your calendar are your best friends for truly engaging productively.  Meet with yourself on Sunday afternoon to Integrate all the work and life activities for the week.  It’s a well spent hour to assign realistically what you can accomplish.

Set boundaries into motion

Wow, it’s hard to set boundaries and keep them! These intentional boundaries include non-negotiable times that keep your work life in balance.  It’s getting to the gym routinely, setting times to gather with your family, and getting a good night’s rest regularly.

Here’s where interference plays a roll.  Set up boundaries for technology. That’s no tech in the bedroom, after 10 pm or at the dinner table. That rule applies to us all including parents.

 

Set aside time for fun

Fun is not going to happen accidentally in our busy lives.  Setting aside time for fun, game night with your kids, a Sunday bike ride, or knitting a scarf, are all what we can use weekly.  Laughing brings out some of our best qualities and feelings.

Repeat

Work life integration is far from a one and done activity. It’s a daily pursuit.  Give yourself the opportunity to feel good and do well at keeping important personal priorities aligned. It’s always a work in progress. That’s when you know that you are achieving work life integration.

How to Create and Maintain Small Business Routines

 

Small business routines

 

No matter how small your small business, routines are what are your best return on investment.  Routines permeate your small business, whether it is how you track clients, take payments, or thank your clients. Its worth an investment in your time to be sure your small business routines are working well.

 

Client routines

Client intake is your first steps in business success.  You have done your marketing and your clients are contacting you.  Clients call, send text, email and meet you at an event. I have seen client contacts on back of paper plates too.

When there are so many ways to connect, it’s up to us as a small business to streamline how to track incoming clients. I am a big fan of consolidating this incoming information. Consolidating can come in the form of adding this information to a single sheet of paper or adding this information digitally right away.  Give yourself a time each day and each week to consolidate this information from all the incoming spots, create a paper or digital folder, and take next steps with the client information. Is your next step an appointment with your client?  If so, be ready with your paper planner, Outlook or Google calendar or your online scheduler.

How to reinforce this routine for yourself?  You can start with a checklist to remind you of the steps.  Your client checklist can be online or on the front of the client folder.

 

Financial routines

Taking payments and paying bills are important routines for all businesses.  Have an established date for both of these. For payments, determine the frequency of deposits. Again, funds come from many sources such as paypal, square, checks and venmo.

 

Good financial routines include more than bill paying. It includes setting aside and paying taxes at the set dates, reviewing budget and expenses, and looking at your best return on investment is for marketing.   Calendar the dues dates of taxes to be sure you pay timely.  Review your budget and expenses monthly with a monthly money date.  Your marketing budget is one of your most important expenses. Know where you are getting your clients from in order to budget accordingly.  Each of these dates gives you a heads up on your success and also details to know what to keep doing and what to change.

 

Thanking your clients

One last note about an important routine I practice.  My goal is to keep my clients for the duration.  We are in a lifelong journey with organizing and productivity.   As such I send a thank you note at the end or at a break when we work.   I also send an annual thank you for the holidays.   Keeping this list updated is a final step of my routines with clients.  It’s one small way to keep connected.

 

There are so many ways to start and maintain routines.  There’s no time like now to review these. Think about the steps you have put into place, build on these and reward yourself for your successes!  Your business  will be all the better for this work.

 

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How to End your Work Day Productively

How to end your work day

 

It’s well past 6 pm and your family is waiting for you. Your paper and digital inboxes are still overflowing.  You don’t feel like you have accomplished your goals for the day.  It’s time to close down and rejuvenate for the next day. Take the last 30 minutes of your day to successfully end your work day.

 

End your day with a mind sweep

Be true to your productivity plan with a mind sweep at the end of the day. Much information has come in so capture it.  By keeping it in a trust spot like your paper or digital tool, you know you can come back to it with a fresh perspective, place it in a time line, and work with others.  With the fatigue of the end of the day, giving ideas a holding spot help you.

 

End your day with your Most Important Tasks

Jump start and front load tomorrow with your 3 Most Important Tasks.  It’s a head start to the work of tomorrow.  Not sure what the 3 MITs for tomorrow are you? Write down where you are leaving off in a project you worked on today.

 

End your work day with by freshening up your environment

Freshen up your desk, computer and work space at the end of the day. Not unlike an artist, even though you are returning to this spot tomorrow to continue, a cleared desk brings you a blank canvas.  It’s sort of what our parents always reminded us, to pick up and put away at the end of the day.  If doubt this, try it for a week. It’s like making your bed.

 

Creative ways to end your day

  • Set an alarm with a special sound or music to herald the end of the work day.
  • End your day an hour earlier to pack your work into a smaller time frame. Your work expands to fit the time you give it. Give your work less time and give yourself more time.
  • Travel by public transportation and give yourself a deadline to get on that bus or train.
  • Give yourself a reward as you return home. Listen to an audio book, podcast or music you love.

 

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How to Start your Work Day

How to start your work day

 

It’s 9 am and time to get to work!  You grab your planner, you sit at your computer and you start your work.  Not quite!  Not surprisingly it often takes a warm up of sorts to get started. A warm up prepares you to do the work you intend.  It’s not only motivation. It’s also at times physical and cognitive acts that prepare us to do our best work.  What does that look like to warm up?  Here’s some possibilities of how to start your work day.

 

Self care start to your day

With so many possibilities, perhaps a self care warm up will suit your need to clear your mind and focus on work.  There’s several ways the self care focus appears to us.  Many of my clients start their days with meditation.   Spending time in meditation offers the benefits of lowered stress, greater focus and clarity.  Another choice is a spiritual start to your day, including a bible reading or prayer time. Getting in touch with God helps us align our thoughts with our spirituality.  A physical self care warm up incudes drinking a glass of water, taking any medications, exercising, and eating protein.  Your self care warm up might be also called your routine for starting your day.

 

List making start to your day

As part of the strategy of Getting Things Done (GTD), there’s always a mind sweep.  It’s how we clear our thoughts and capture them.  A list is a great way to start your day and clear your mind to prepare to start real work.  Simply writing down all your thoughts in a capture tool either paper or digital helps give you clarity.

Now what about all those thoughts and ideas?  This is when we must prioritize.  We can’t and should not do everything on the list.  It’s our priorities that rise to the top for our work.  I call these Most Important Tasks (MITs).  If you want to start your work quickly the next day, write out your MITs at the close of your work day in preparation for the next day’s work.

 

Verbal processing to start your day

Team up with a partner for a short conversation to start your day.  Many of us are verbal processors, meaning that in talking through a thought we can become clear on next steps.  It’s also a great tool to remind us where we are, what our thoughts are, and our current task.    A short team meeting can help you start your work day with priorities.

 

Creative ways to start your day

In my conversations with clients, here’s a list of ways they have decided to start their work day.

  • Start your day by drawing or writing on a white board.  A mind map, a picture or an icon can be the visual start for your work day.  Use this big space to be creative and connect your thoughts.
  • A quick morning shower where ideas percolate.  Capture your ideas with a waterproof voice recorder.
  • Don’t hold back. Start. Then assess after the first hour what you have accomplished from yesterday’s list.
  • Do the babiest of baby steps to a big goal.  Chunk your list into manageable steps over the time of a week.
  • Create a metric. Determine a measure of what you want to accomplish in a certain amount of time.

 

Once you know how to start your work day, create a daily routine that empowers this.  Write it down, share it with your colleagues, and tweak it as you work.

 

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In honor of Get Organized (and Be Productive) Month

2019 goals

 

January is our National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals Get Organized and Be Productive Month! It’s when we as professionals share tips, tricks and tech for you to gain momentum all year long.

 

This month I am introducing a weekly series to be more productive. Follow along each week as I share routines that make your life easier, smoother, more organized and more productive! Take just one tip and use it consistently to make this your most organized and productive year every!

2019 Word of the Year: Shift

word of the year

 

My Word of the Year has served me well!  Each year I choose a word that will guide me as I look at new opportunties, face challenges and focus my time and energy.   It’s become a tradition for my colleagues to share our Word of the Year.

 

Here’s what has been on my mind as the year begins.

Shift 

1. to (cause something or someone to) move or change from one position or direction to another, especially slightly

2. (of an idea, opinion, etc.) to change

 

The world is full of a lot of fear and a lot of negativity, and a lot of judgment. I just think people need to start shifting into joy and happiness. As corny as it sounds, we need to make a shift.

~ Ellen DeGeneres

Your best creative assets do not occur unless you do a mental shift. You have to be in a positive frame of mind because inspiration is fleeting. I walk to work for inspiration and to clear my mind.

~Ron Ben-Israel.

It’s been exciting to think of my word this year. It has been something I feel in the air and in the world.  I have learned that embracing a shift or change is what helps us thrive in all ways.  Shift is a word that shows a slight change and a slight new perspective.

 

I am looking at all the ways a shift will bring focus to my personal and professional life this year.  I am open to the next steps. I intend to shift my practice with more productivity.  This year I shift my leadership to NAPO Immediate Past President in May and focus on supporting our new President. I am shifting where I am volunteering  and what I am committed to and emphasize.

 

Knowing what not to shift is important too!  I am remaining constant in many ways as my core values as the same each and every year. I continue my practice with ADHD clients, learning more about ADHD and being a part of the ADHD community. It’s always family first for me!  And of course I continue prioritize my health with healthy eating, pilates and a great night’s rest.

 

What’s your word of the year? I am looking forward to you posting it here!

 

Previous Word of the Year

2018. Possibilities. What’s possible?

2017. Thrive.  Thrive in all ways.

2016. Momentum. Keep going.

2015. Fifteen years in professional organizing and productivity

2014. Flourish. Flourish in life.

2013.  Fabulous. Fit, fabulous and fun!

 

Holiday Organizing Gifts

Holiday organizing gifts

 

If you are the practical, functional kind of gift giver, this post is for you!  Organizing gifts are the most cherished! These gifts give back to your recipient in so many ways.  Your gift gives a feeling of order, clarity in life, and an organized space.  Here’s five of my favorite holiday organizing gifts!

 

Chalkboard menu

Chalkboard menu

Every family loves to eat! Plan your weekly menu and share it with your family with a chalkboard menu in your kitchen.

Corkboard Cork board

Families have lots of reminders and invitations.  A family corkboard keeps everyone on track.

 

Hooks

Decorative hooks

Hooks help everywhere! Decorative hooks can be used in a hall for a landing strip, bathroom for towels, bedroom for bags and more! Amazon dot

Amazon Dot

Amazon Alexa helps you make lists, order groceries and much more!

 

Tile  Tile

Tile’s remote system helps you track the stuff you lose.

 

And that’s a wrap for the stuff!  I always encourage holiday gifts that are experiences instead off stuff. If you decide you must give stuff,  make it practical and functional this year!

Inside Secrets and Holiday Tips Used by this Professional Organizer and Productivity Consultant

holiday tips

Holidays come around each year and each year we are looking forward to the real joy of the holiday. How do we professional organizers and productivity consultants make the holiday merry and bright? Here’s tried and true tips we use!

  • Organize as you decorate and undecorate.  Donate unused decorations right after the holiday. This way you are not storing decorations another year and you are keeping only what is most important and treasured.  Use an ornament organizer and mark your bins with specific contents to make decorating easier and more fun next year.
  • Start early if you decide to send holiday cards. Have your family photo ready by October.  As you receive cards, update your holiday card list.  If you decide to keep your cards for the next year, here’s a way to keep them year after year.
  • As you are going through the holiday season, make a note in your smart phone about what worked best in terms of holiday hacks. These are inside secrets you learned as the season progressed.  Here’s an example. Our Houston Zoo Lights are fabulous and you need to purchase tickets that morning in case of weather glitches and to be sure tickets are available that day.
  • With new and traditional recipes, make a note on the recipe what small changes you made.  Each year I make cream puffs and I have notes on what worked best with oven temperature and ingredients.
  • Keep your Christmas receipts together in a ziplock and ask for extra receipts for returns. You will eliminate hassle with returns.
  • Check in with your family on what family traditions to keep and what has gone by the wayside. Spending an evening relaxing at home and getting in bed early helps everyone enjoy the season.

Wishing you a very merry holiday season!

 

My Organizing Obsession: Holiday Ornament Organizer

my organizing obsession holiday ornament organizer

 

When the holidays are here, we love decorating our tree, our special ornaments from each year and enjoying the joy of the holiday. To keep our joy, holiday decorations need organizing or these get overwhelming.  Our precious holiday ornaments need careful storage. Their value is priceless as they are gifts, memories and traditions bound into one element.  I love holiday ornament organizers for this reason.

 

 

ornament storage holiday organizing

 

ornament organizing holiday organizing

 

 

Both of these organizers have individual sections for each ornament. The cardboard dividers can be used as needed depending on the size of the ornament.  The durable exterior keeps ornaments safe and clear during storage.

 

For your most precious ornaments, you can wrap the ornament in tissue and then store it in a center section of the organizing box.  Mark your box fragile so all those who help you store and carry know the value of the contents.

 

More of my organizing obsessions here!

 

 

Keeping Extra Organized and Productive throughout the Holiday Season

 


 

Holidays add extra to our lives.  Whether it’s extra fun, extra work, or extra time,  there’s much more to think about and do.  When you are running on extra everything, keeping extra organized and productive this holiday season are critical.

 

Extra rest

We don’t think of extra rest at this time of year.  How can you add extra rest with an earlier bedtime?  Perhaps it’s an extra nap that is needed?  Think first of how to add extra rejuvenation to your week.

 

Extra help

It’s as simple as buying the cookie tray rather than making a dozen cookies.  Get extra help this season in any way you can, from food prep, home cleaning and extra hugs.   You will appreciate having this bonus.

 

Extra planning time

Schedules get criss-crossed this time of year.  There are multiple simultaneous events.  Be sure you double and triple check your plans and planner.  You will be happy to know what is planned by capturing it on your device or on paper.

 

Extra spiritual time

Holidays are about a greater meaning.  Keep the joy of the season in more than sprit by devoting time to devotion.   That can be reading, prayer, or meditation time for you as you seek the meaning of this time of year.

 

Extra work scheduling

The end of the year may be a big wrap up time for projects.  Schedule extra time to do a solid wrap up of what you have worked on this year.  Take extra time to let go of extra drafts and extra paper.

 

Wishing you EXTRA joy this holiday season!