How to Get Unstuck (and stop procrastinating)

how to get unstuck

 

No matter the project, we all get stuck at some time. That might be procrastination to start a project or getting stuck midway. Here are ADHD-friendly ways to help you move forward with any task or project.

 

Make it fun

As Mary Poppins says, in every job there must be done there is an element of fun. Be creative and use a playlist matching your energy to your music to energize and interest you. Make your task a game with “beat the timer.” Track your progress with a chart or checklist. The more fun something is, the more likely you are going to make it happen.

 

Establish Micro-Steps

According to Thrive Global, being productive is “less about giant leaps and more about small steps” called micro-steps. Determine the smallest, or minimum, next step you can take to keep momentum going. It is about moving the needle just a little bit.

 

Set milestones

Milestones give you a deadline and a detail for your work. You can establish these milestones with a chart, a date in your planner, or a detail or of the task itself. Be specific and actionable about your milestone so you know you have finished. Each milestone you accomplish, whether it is a quantity of time or a detail of the project gives you confidence you are moving forward and assures you of completion.

 

Let’s get physical

Getting a drink of water or taking a 5 minute walk outside can get you moving forward. These physical activities and self care give you a short break to refresh. You will think more clearly and be ready to resume your task.

 

Talk it out

Determining a process or making a decision can be best accomplished by talking it out with a friend or colleague. Talking through a task or project with someone can give you a new perspective and new strategy to go about that activity. Look for a processing partner who has a skill in that area or has successfully accomplished this task.

 

Get focused

Distractions keep us from getting started and moving forward. Eliminate technology distractions by silencing notifications. Do a brain dump and write a out your internal thoughts and distractions to focus on the task at hand. Use a time block to keep focused on just this task or project to keep on track.

 

No matter if it is about starting or completing a task or project, have handy your list of what works for you to get unstuck.

 

How to Organize Your Kitchen (and get dinner on the table)

how to organize your kitchen

 

Kitchens are the heart of our home. We gather, connect and entertain here. Big or small kitchen, getting and staying organized is important for all of us. You might have a small pantry, narrow drawers, lack storage or have a lot of dishes. There is a lot to store including small appliances, dinnerware, cookware, “tupperware” and serving pieces. There are also those tricky items like cuttings board, and baking sheets that need to be stored. Keeping your kitchen items accessible and organized makes it easy to make meals and spend time together. These strategies are smart ways to make this space more user friendly.

 

Declutter your counter tops

Exactly what is stacking up on your counter tops? Likely it is technology and papers. Set up a command center on a transit way wall to be sure your counters stay clear. If backpacks are in your kitchen, add a landing strip to your entry area. And what about technology and your common charging spot? Gather these items in a location that makes it easy to keep devices charging and counter tops clear. A clear counter area makes your kitchen feel inviting and ready to cook.

 

Organize your kitchen cabinets

Follow this step by step process for organizing your kitchen cabinets (and your kitchen drawers too.)

  • Empty cabinets onto the counters in your kitchen. As you empty, sort your items into categories. Group items by use such as drinking, eating, or serving. Categorizing and grouping items used together make your space more efficient.
  • Decide what to declutter and what to donate. That may depend on how many items match, how many items you need of one category or how well used the item is. Give yourself permission to let go of more, rather than less.  Donate those items right away.
  • Determine the best location to store items by their use. Pots and pans should be by the stove, while plastic storage should be by the sink and refrigerator. If you want your kids to access these, be sure items are stored low.
  • Add shelf inserts and any other storage solutions to make it easy to access items and put them away after use.

Edit inside your kitchen drawers

  • Once done decluttering,  your kitchen drawers may need an additional round of editing.  Think about which tools are multi-purpose and more functional.  Group together tools that are used for baking, barbeque, garnishing, and grating. This last pass helps you keep only what you use and need.
  • There are many different drawer dividers that keep these spaces organized. Standard silverware trays are great for flatware. For drawers with a variety of tool sizes and dimensions, adjustable drawer dividers keep order intact.

 

Assess your small appliances

Small appliances have gained great popularity with Keurigs and Kitchen Aids. Placing these under cabinets where you can create a “zone” helps, such as the coffee area or baking corner.  Most cooks love showing off these appliances despite being counter top hogs.

 

The best maintenance tip for a kitchen is having a great dishwasher routine and coordinated chore chart. When you pair the timing for dish washing overnight, kitchens stay organized and tidy all day long.

 

 

 

How to Organize Your Bedroom (for a great night’s rest)

how to organize your bedroom

 

Your bedroom is more than a place to sleep. It is where you begin the day and end the day intentionally. It is where you take time for your self care and your preparation for work and family. It is your personal space to keep what is precious to you. This spot is restorative in an uncertain time. However, your bedroom might have turned into a storage space. It may be stuffed with papers, clothes, technology, returns, Amazon boxes and more.  Check out these tips to return to rest and relaxation in your bedroom.

 

Categorize

Typical organizing wisdom says to declutter first. In a small space with many different items, start by categorizing. This strategy will give you an idea of what you have and how much of each category. You may be surprised by what you have! Your categories could include jewelry, shoes, clean clothes, laundry to do, technology, papers, as well as returns and recycling. Making categories first gives you the opportunity to determine what to keep in your bedroom and what can be stored elsewhere.

 

Declutter

Even with the best of storage, it is important to edit and declutter. Make decisions based on what you love and what you use. If you have difficulty, use the tournament method to decide between two items at a time. How many you keep in the end of any item is determined by you, rather than a set quantity.

 

Organize

In a space with multiple uses like your bedroom, you can organize with zones. These are specific areas that you do different activities. For getting ready for the day, designate a vanity in your room or in the bathroom. Cluster items that you use like make up, hair accessories and jewelry in this area.  For night time, group items on your night stand or headboard for use getting ready for sleep. That might be glasses, books, and lotions. Move around your bedroom organizing zone by zone.

 

Maximize

Use of organizing products that add storage make better use of the space. Think about the best way for you to use existing storage and add more as needed. That includes storage on the back of doors and in dressers.

 

Decorate

Your space should be a reflection of what you love. Include what brings you joy in your décor, color palette, textiles and sounds. A beautiful space reminds you to make your bed every day and keep your space organized.

 

Keep in mind what you do every day in your bedroom to maintain it. Have adequate trash and laundry storage for these weekly routines. Be sure to give yourself time daily for resetting like putting away clothes and straightening your space. Give yourself the gift of intentional organizing and your bedroom will always be a spot for slumber and serenity.

How to Organize Your Garage (and park your car inside)

how to organize your garage

 

With spring is here now is the time to tackle the garage. Organizing the garage can be a giant project, but you will be giddy when your garage is clean and organized and you can easily park your car and find gardening tools, bikes, and other items you use in warmer weather.  Use these 6 steps to organize your garage this spring.

 

1. Make a Game Plan: Planning ahead makes every tasks easier. Write down what you want to accomplish in the garage and how you plan to accomplish it. What are my goals? How will things be stored? Will I use boxes or bins? Where will things be stored? Will I need to invest in a storage system?  When will I do this work? How will items be donated? How will heavy trash be picked up? Be practical and keep the end in mind in planning your project.

2. Enlist Help: Working as a team makes everything easier. It can be you and your family, you and a team of teens, or you and your paid helpers. Your team helps you decide what to toss out, helps you move large and heavy items around, and offer perspectives on how to best store and organize things. A team also makes the work more fun!

3. Move Everything Out: Plan to move everything out of the garage. You can use your lawn blower to blow out all the cobwebs and dust that have accumulated. This gives you a fresh start to your project.

4. Sort & Toss: As you are moving items out, determine what you will be decluttering and letting go.  Deciding what to keep and what to toss is usually the most difficult part. Decisions can be based on how often an item is used or if it is broken or unusable. Items can be donated that are still working to local philanthropies. Consider placing items that are to be given away on the curb depending on rules in your neighborhood or listing free items on local social media sites. Be sure your plan and timeline align for trash pick up.

5: Categorize: Once you’re left with your “keep” pile items, it’s time to group like items together. Some typical garage storage categories include:

  • Landscaping and yard tools
  • Power tools and repair tools
  • Automotive items
  • Holiday decorations
  • Sports gear
  • Children’s outdoor toys

Items that should not be kept in the garage are technology or photos. These deteriorate with non-climate controlled conditions.

6. Store:  Plastic bins are best for stacking and durability. Use clear bins so you can see what is in each. Add labels to the bins to be specific.

Choose a specially designed tool box for your tools. With drawers, you can categorize your tools. Label each drawer to know what is stored inside.

Instead of stacking bins and other items on the floor in the corner, take advantage of the vertical space your garage has to offer. Sturdy shelves with ample durability, large hooks, and ceiling racks are great for storing and hanging everything up off the floor, creating a clean, organized look and opening up floor space.

Place items back in the garage with an eye toward frequency of use. More frequently used items should be stored in a visible area and within easy reach. Less frequently used and seasonal items should be stored out of the way. Kids bikes and riding toys should be to the front of the garage, near the garage door.

 

Look back on your project and the work you have accomplished each day as you pull your car into your newly organized space.

10 Day Spring Organizing Challenge

Start any day you like this spring with this 10 day organizing challenge! Here are 10 days of challenges to organize your home, office and life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Organized with Cyber Security

 

get organized with cy

We have all recently heard about an Instagram or Facebook account being hacked.  Maybe you have experienced a situation where a family member or friend accidentally gave access to a bank account to a scammer. Cyber security has become a necessary part of life. Cyber security is protection of computer devices from information disclosure, theft of or damage. This includes your online financial accounts, social media and any information accessible online. There are simple steps and a checklist you can use to safeguard your information and save yourself time, energy and frustration. This requires organization and maintenance for you to stay safe.

 

Setting up devices with security.

Set up is the first step to secure your information. Know that all devices have these settings.

  • Set up privacy settings on your devices as soon as you purchase. Look in the settings-> mail -> privacy protection.
  • Set up two factor verification. This is where you get a text or a phone call with a code before a log in can happen for any account.
  • Be sure to have virus protection on your computer. Antivirus software prevents access to your information on your computer.
  • Update devices regularly. These updates include fixes and patches for security.
  • Use an automated back up system. Highly rated systems include Backblaze and Carbonite.

Password Protection

Passwords are the gateway to all information for us. This is especially difficult for us because these extra steps seem to be a barrier rather than a protection.

  • Use passwords with a trusted tool such as Last Pass. No one needs to remember all their secure passwords and a password manager keeps your information safe.
  • Use unique passwords for every account. It is easy for all your accounts to be comprised of similar or the same passwords with a twist of one or two letters or special characters.
  • Turn off Password Save for your computer and online access. You easily access your password manager instead.
  • Share your passwords only with those you trust. If you are helping a senior member of your family or community, encourage them to use a password manager for this reason.

Recognize scams and fraud early.

We are seeing more and more online scams and fraud. These are not always easy to spot so having a healthy dose of skepticism is necessary.

  • Be aware and suspicious of interactions of any sort with unknown inquiries. That includes whether a bill has been paid or a purchase has been made. These inquiries can occur through email or phone.
  • Know that social media captures information about you. From the movie, The Social Dilemma, we know that social media uses the information we share. Be alert to this while sharing your personal information online.
  • Be wary of emails from unknown sources. Never under any circumstances click on unfamiliar, unrequested links.

 

Being organized about your cyber security can help prevent long lasting issues with finances and personal security. It takes time, just like other tasks, but the pay back is well worth the investment.

Get Organized with Contacts, Email and Snail Mail Addresses

organize your contacts, information and addresses

 

No one remembers your 7 – 10 digit phone number or your Venmo account name. Happily this is all automated for us now.  Your contact list is a combination of your closest connections and lots of possible vendors and business people. Keeping your list up to date makes it easier to work together and also saves you time trying to find information. Here’s how to organize this area to make it easy and seamless for you.

 

Consolidate

You want your information in one place. Currently it could be in many different locations such as icloud, gmail, or any other email system. This might be the hardest part of this project. Where do you want to keep your contacts? If you have used Outlook, it’s often the easiest place to keep this information.  Google and gmail are a good choice if you use gmail as your native email account. Google syncs with all phones and transfers easily.

 

Name

Consistent naming helps you remember who and what to look up in your phone. You might be storing contacts for a new roof or doctor. Or you could have met a contact at a recent event and want to connect later. Having a consistent practice for entering information into your contacts helps!  Decide if you want to enter Name, Business (business name and what that business does).  That would be Ellen Delap, Professional-Organizer.com, paper organizing. Keeping consistent also helps you keep the clutter in your contacts to a minimum.

 

Edit

Editing is a tedious job, so it’s a task we can do while sitting in a carpool line, waiting on a prescription or when we are low energy. Look through contacts and delete those that are not used or you can’t remember when you last contacted that person.

 

Update

When it comes to updating, it is best to take a minute and update as soon as you see new information. It’s easier to do this right away because your contacts are always current.

 

Backlog

Before you add new contacts from business cards or other scraps of paper, be sure you review first. Adding names and businesses just in case will not help you.

 

Power up

According to SalesForce, “Contact management is the process of recording contacts’ details and tracking their interactions with a business. Such systems have gradually evolved into an aspect of customer relationship management (CRM) systems, which allow businesses to improve sales and service levels leveraging a wider range of data.”  If you are overwhelmed with contacts in your small business, it’s time to power up to a CRM to help you with contacts and leverage this information.

Financial Apps Make Organizing Your Finances Easy

 

financial organizing

Getting organized with your financial information can feel like climbing Mount Everest and the side of the mountain is quick sand. There is alot to look up at, the peak seems far off and there is consistently sliding back and forth. Money brings with it many emotions too. Check out these many automated tools that will help you gain control and get organized with your finances.

 

Cyber security first

We are all aware of the online dangers, phone and text scams, and dark web. Every account needs a strong, unique password. LastPass offers online security for you with easy access. If you are more of a paper person, use a paper address book listing the user name, password, and security questions. If you receive any kind of request about purchasing or payments, go directly to the source of payment. This is a time to be overly cautious.

 

Bill paying

Solutions: Many of us have been using automated bill paying online for a long time. The easiest way to pay is using your bank app and adding account information. You can pay directly from the bank to the vendor. The next easiest payment plan is with your credit card. Keep a list of automated payments, the vendor account numbers in case there is a gap in payment. Maybe you want to know more about your spending and how much you spend on different categories.  Quicken offers online bill pay with a tracking dashboard. This tools helps you analyze and strategize about your money.

Solutions: There are always random bills that need to be paid that arrive in the mail. There are quarterly payments for taxes too. Establish a command center where mail is opened and bills are paid. Set aside a weekly or bi-monthly time to pay bills. Keep your check book here with envelopes and stamps to efficiently pay with paper.

Routines: Set aside a weekly time to open mail and pay bills. Check your bank and credit card balances weekly or monthly to be sure all bills are paid and the amounts of payment.

 

Budgeting

Solution: There are two favorite budgeting tools Mint and You Need A Budget (YNAB). Both offer you consolidation of information to make financial decisions. You will need this tool to analyze where and what you are spending.

Routine: Review your spending monthly, quarterly or annually with a strategic planning meeting. With your consolidated information you can make good decisions on your next financial steps.

 

Credit

Solution: Your credit score helps lenders decide whether to give you a mortgage, credit card or other line of credit as well as the interest amount you will pay. The score is an assessment of you are a credit risk at the time of application. This score goes up and down monthly as you pay bills, get new credit and pay off loans. A good credit score saves you money, gives you options for better loan rates, and more. Credit Karma offers you a free monthly view of your credit score. Many banks offer this as service. 

Routine: Review your credit score annually or before a major purchase.

 

Taxes

Solution: Gather your paper or digital documents in January, February and March. Follow these instructions here. Can’t find your most important tax papers? Look online for your property tax payments and mortgage interest expense.  It’s easy to locate these records on your mortgage or banking websites. Medical expenses are easy to track online at your medical provider’s website.

Routine: At the beginning of February, mark your calendar for a 2 hour tax session with yourself! Go through your checkbook, bank statement and files to find important items to copy for accounting purposes. Three weeks later, mark another 2 hour tax session to wrap up those loose ends and file your documents in your master file. If you use an accountant, you are ready to send in your papers.  If you file yourself, break your filing sessions into manageable chunks like 2 hour sessions too!  You can always break these sessions into one hour segments too.  Most importantly marking these on your calendar commits you to work.

 

Bringing it all together

Make your financial organizing a priority with a weekly or bi-monthly review of your automated tools. Dig deep and think what you want to know about your spending and your goals. Create a dashboard with the information you want to know. Use your financial planning time to feel confident about your financial success. Add bookmarks to access each site easily and your ready!

 

 

 

 

How to Impress Your Accountant with Your Tax Preparation

organize your taxes

 

Tax documents have started to arrive and it’s time for us to organize these pieces of paper or digital information. Even though the filing deadline is still a little ways off, and even though taxes are scary, it’s better to start to get organized now.  What do you need to bring to your tax preparer to be ready to file?  There are specific documents that are required and how you organize these can impress your accountant or bookkeeper and save you money in fees.

 

Gather your documents

As paper statements arrive in the mail, be sure to place these in a Taxes 2021 folder. Organize this information in paper or digital folders as you collect the documents according to Income and Deductions.

Income

Income documents confirm the money you received during the previous year. These include:

  • W-2 forms (Statement from your employer that includes how much you were paid, deductions for medical and social security.)
  • 1099 forms (Form 1099-Misc for contract work, Form1099-INT for interest, Form 1099-DIV for dividends and Form 1099-B for broker-handled transactions.)
  • Next year income from Venmo and Square will be included.

Deductions

Documents that help reduce your taxes are known as deductions. You will need to gather the information for this documentation, which may take time. Break this into chunks to make it easier to gather this information.

  • Property taxes paid by you or your escrow account
  • Mortgage interest on Form 1098
  • Charitable donations with receipts from those entities
  • Retirement account contributions up to a set limit. Look for these forms with your January statement
  • Educational expenses which are on a form 1098-T
  • Medical bills if they total more than 7.5% of adjusted gross income for most taxpayers
  • State and local taxes and sales tax which the IRS provides tables with average amounts you can claim.

Credits are similar to deductions.  Currently the primary credit is the Child Tax Credit for each child in your family

Keep a record of the estimated taxes paid for this year. Those are quarterly payments made to adjust for additional income throughout the year. As you pay these electronically or by check, record that date and amount paid.

 

Shortcuts for tax preparation

There are shortcuts to gather this information.

  • You can also gather this information online in your investment, mortgage, and online appraisal district accounts.
  • Use one check book register each year and record the information as you write the check. Highlight in your favorite color to be sure you see these.
  • Keep all tax papers all year long in a folder marked Taxes 20XX in your command center in the office or kitchen.
  • Scan receipts to a digital folder all year long. Keep this folder on your computer.
  • Take a picture with your smart phone and create a photo album of Tax Receipts 20XX
  • Set appointments with yourself the last weekend of January, February and March to set aside time for tax preparation.
  • Ask your doctors and pharmacy for payment records for the entire year.
  • Partner with another family member as you organize your documentation. Your college and adult kids will need this preparation for their own taxes.
  • Use a tax preparation check list.

Now that you have all the data you need, use file folders for each segment of information.

  • Your information, including name, address and social security numbers
  • Income
  • Deductions
  • Credits
  • Estimated taxes

 

You are ready to go to your accountant or tax preparer with everything you need and you are guaranteed to impress!

Three Small Spots to Organize to Keep You Ahead

keep ahead of the game

 

Do you think about big organizing goals and not so much about the little spaces that need organizing? Here are three small organizing spots that will make your life more organized and productive, and most importantly help your peace of mind.

 

Your purse, satchel or man bag

What you carry with you should give you peace of mind to know you have what you need when you need it. Often your bag becomes where everything goes without order to it at all.

  • Divide your bag into useful categories and use organizing products to keep the categories together.  Use a wallet for money, a zipper case for medicine and makeup, and a glass case to protect your glasses. A small Ziploc can hold your receipts until you trash these or move them to your command center.
  • Pare down to essentials in your bag. The less you carry, the less weight on your shoulders. Remember that carrying papers back and forth may not be necessary if you can find that information online.
  • If you are carrying important documents or check books just so as not to lose these, purchase a small safe to keep at home and store these documents.

Once week clear out all the debris, paper and other items to keep your bag organized.

 

Your contacts in your devices

Communication with home and work is key in this new era of work from home and the uncertainty of daily life.

  • Sync your contacts across all your devices including your computer so that you can access these from anywhere. Being automated saves you time.
  • Determine a consistent approach to entering contacts. That includes entering the contact’s name, the company name, and the work of that business. You can enter multiple data to be sure you can find the information.  An example of that is Ellen Delap, Professional-Organizer.com, professional organizer. Or Professional Organizer, Ellen Delap. Choose the easiest way for you to find what you need.
  • Use your device automation to add contacts from email.  It’s the easiest way to add information and it takes just a few minutes.

Spend a few minutes every day entering information as you receive it in email, in text, or from scraps of paper.

 

Your self care, morning and evening supplies

Getting ready for the day and your night time routine can be much easier when you are organized.  Many times we have too many supplies in these areas to be able to get ready quickly.

  • Gather together what you use every morning and evening. You can store these in a caddy under your sink area or attractive tray on your countertop.
  • Store loose items like cotton balls and qtips in attractive containers for easy access.
  • Have a trash can that is very easy to access.
  • Edit ruthlessly. Toss out items that are six months old and unused. Share your partially used items with friends or colleagues.
  • Save the deep dive into bathroom organizing for a longer session. Keep everything else off the countertop.

Tidying your stuff daily gives you extra time to get ready and get to bed every day.

 

Each of these small organizing projects should take 15 minutes or less a day. Keep it simple and get it done.