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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.

Clocks and Time management

clocks and time management

 

For some people, time management is a natural rhythm of the day. For some people, there is no awareness of time, time passing, arriving or leaving on time.  The greatest asset for time awareness is a clock! Placing clocks in various spots in your home or office can make a difference.  Having an analog clock in view helps you keep track of time and be more productive.  Clocks and time management are like peanut butter and jelly.

  • Analog clocks give you a better perspective of time passing.  The face of the clock, markings for each 5 minute period, and the “feel” of how long a task takes come together with an analog clock.
  • Place analog clocks in many different places in your home and office.
  • At a minimum, have a clock in your bathroom, in your kitchen and in your bedroom at home.
  • It seems redundant to have a clock by your computer, but often we lose time perspective during our work. Have a clock where you can see it without getting up from your chair.
  • Set your clocks all at the same time.  Many people want to have 15 “extra” minutes as a measure to prevent tardiness.  If so, set all of your clocks with the extra minutes.
  • Setting alarms on your phone helps you if you rely on auditory cues.  Set the alarm 5 minutes early so you can be sure you are ready to go even after it goes off.

What places and spaces do you needs clocks in your home?

Time management: Your Weekly Planning Time

 

weekly planning time

 

Organizing your time takes many different steps to get the job done.  Having one great calendar and an effective way to manage your tasks and lists are the first step.  Carving out a weekly  planning time pulls together these great tools.  Stephen Covey and David Allen both incorporate this routine into their strategies.  This time helps you create a proactive plan!

 

Basics of weekly planning time

  • Weekly planning time is when you pull together your lists, assess upcoming events and add a plan to your calendar.
  • Start by setting an undistracted time for you to “meet” with your planner.  This should be added to your calendar as an appointment!  A good time may be Friday before the end of work, Sunday afternoon as you are getting ready for the week, or any time that really works for you.
  •  Gather together your tools of your planner, your lists, any emails or papers with upcoming events, projects you are leading or collaborating, and any other date driven activities.
  • Add all new dates and update any existing dates, then add small reminders, consolidate errands, project out baby steps for a big project, and generally scan for bumps in the road coming up.
  • If you use a technology planner, no problem! Same strategy with this tool!

 

Upgrade your weekly planning time

  • Set a day of the week for certain activities.  Money Monday and Financial Friday are the days you work on money matters.  By allowing yourself one set day a week for an important task, you give yourself permission to be dedicated to one specific task instead of many difference ones. This strategy works well for people who know that they can do one thing well.
  • Be consistent about your weekly planning time. The more consistent, the more you will notice what’s working and what is not. “Noticing” can lead to enhancements too, such as knowing what works best for you and what are your strengths.

 

Take this routine to the next level with a Family Meeting too.  Gather your family on Sunday evening, with all their calendars and your family calendar (paper, Cozi, or google calendar) and set this time for planning purposes.  Not only will you have family communication, collaboration and cohesiveness will be a big bonus.

Let me know how you are doing with your weekly planning time!

Reminders: Task Management, Technology and More

 

reminders and organizing

Sometimes we need reminders to help us get our tasks done, be on time, and honor our priorities.  Here are some systems to use!

 

 

Technology reminders

www.dailynudge.com

Daily Nudge helps you remember the important things in life. Setup regular, free electronic reminders, or “nudges”, to arrive in your inbox or cell-phone.

 

www.hassleme.com

Forgot to feed the fish again? Need a little help keeping your New Year’s resolutions?
Tell us what to hassle you about, and we’ll nag you via email at semi-unpredictable intervals.
HassleMe is unique because you never quite know when your reminder will come along.

 

Remember The Milk (or RTM for short)

Managing tasks is generally not a fun way to spend your time. We created Remember The Milk so that you no longer have to write your to-do lists on sticky notes, whiteboards, random scraps of paper, or the back of your hand. Remember The Milk makes managing tasks an enjoyable experience.

 

www.cozi.com

Cozi is a free online organizer that helps families manage crazy schedules, track shopping lists and to do lists, organize household chores, stay in communication and share memories—all in one place.

 

 

Other reminders

 

 

  • Large, colored post it notes.  Using the 5 by 7 size post it notes, keep your 3 Most Important Tasks in front of you at home, work or in the car.  This is the one that works for me!

 

  • Getting Things Done (GTD) list with quadrants for each category, such as @computer, @home, @anywhere/errands, or @meetings/agendas.

 

  • Small, very adorable, spiral notebook with sections for mind sweep and categories such as kids, home, work, other. Date the top of your page each time you start a new day with new tasks to do.

 

 

 

 

Great Wall Street Journal article on making lists!

 

 

 

What other systems do you use for your reminders?

Time Management Tips

 

time management tips

How are you? Busy? Busier than ever? Never thought you would be this busy? How is it we never have enough time?

No matter our age or stage, we all feel and deal with time issues.  We lack of control of our schedule with too many demands, too many balls in the air and too many meetings.  Having no time means we have disorganized space.  There are so many interruptions and distractions.  Tasks take longer than we think.  If you are organized, you think you can squish in just a little more.  Is it time for a change?

How we use our time comes down to creating a new awareness of it and a baby step to make change happen.   The first step is the awareness of how you use your time.  Ask yourself some questions.  What is working well?  Are you getting places on time? Are you always on the go, with too much to do? Do you feel like you are productive and get tasks done? Do your planner and task list work well for recording commitments and tasks? Now ask yourself what is not working! That is where your first baby step will start.

Not getting places on time

  • Set a timer to alert you 15 minutes before you want to leave.  This gives you time to gather up and get going.
  • Plan on arriving early.   You get the best seat, you stress less about parking and traffic, and you are in prime position for whatever you are doing.   Bring your magazines to read now!

Always on the go with too much to do

  • Everything can’t be equally important to you.  Assess if you need to join both girl scouts and adventure princesses, volunteer for church and PTA, and work second and third jobs.  Spend time thinking about what you want to commit to for now.  One of my favorite sayings is, “we can do it all, just not all at the same time.”  Simplify your time with one big commitment at a time.

Day to day productivity

  • Put the big rocks in first, as said by productivity guru Stephen Covey.  Be sure you know what the big rocks are for your job and get these done early in the day.
  • If you are smothered by small tasks at work, group them together and consolidate to be more effective.  Having a call list, an email list, and an errand list for work to group and conquer!

Your Calendar and Task list

  • First decide if you are a paper or technology person.  See what works best for you and all the jobs you have, including parenting.  You can cover a  lot of ground with the google calendar to match up to your partner.  If you love paper, think about www.plannerpads.com.  It consolidates your tasks and your calendar.
  • Find a work flow that works with your style.  With your family, host a family meeting weekly to update your calendar.  At work meet with your assistant or colleagues to be sure you are on top of dates.  Having partners makes the process more effective and fun!

This is a long list!  Please pick just one of these baby steps to own this year.  You will be glad you did!  Please share with us your choice and how it is working for you! We want to help you get this done.

You can also find more organizing ideas at http://www.organizewithsandy.com/2011/01/10/organizing-mission-monday-link-party-week-4/

Procrastination

 

Procrastination affects even the most linear thinking right brain people (professional organizers!) and there are strategies to help you make simple shifts to change.  Sometimes procrastination can take on a life of its own. It brings on worry, depression, regret, and stress and has the power to reduce people’s ability to function normally.  The first step in moving forward it recognizing what is most difficult about productivity  or the task itself.  Is it the spot where you work? Is it the work itself? Is it working by yourself? Here are some ways to get started thinking about procrastinating.

Set up a distraction free, reminder rich environment.  Think through where you work best with an appropriate chair, desk and space.  Do you need soft music, good lighting, or any other options?  Is your space in your home or out? Reminders can take the form of post it notes, 3X5 cards, or a task list on  your PDA.    

Establish priorities.  You may be busy with low priority tasks, for example pruning the hedges instead of working on your presentation that is due the next day!  Prioritizing is the first step to being more effective day to day.  Part of prioritizing is making manageable, short lists with a “do-able number” to ensure success. 

Commit to what is important by slotting tasks on a calendar. This sounds simple but this exercise cements the task in your mind which is important when you struggle with focus and time.  Set “mini deadlines” and add rewards to keep you moving toward your goals by delaying gratification until completion.

 

Sometimes it takes more than the space or time to complete a task.  Find a partner to discuss the steps and be accountable to completing.  Accountability can be done with texting, telephone or a quick email.  Loving accountability makes you more successful.  

 

So what do professional organizes procrastinate about?  For me it was being the committee chair of a national committee. Once I had calendared the dates for significant events, committed to working on baby steps in the process, and finding partners that helped me in the process, it all proceeded well. 

What do you procrastinate about?

Have you uncovered the cause?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go Outside and Play

Being active with my grandkids is a priority for me! Recently interviewed by Grandparents.com (July 1 edition), I was interviewed about my favorite outdoor activity with the 3 grands. http://www.grandparents.com/gp/content/activitiesandevents/everyday-activities/article/13-grandparents-1-mission.html?clktrk=home_feature_stories-1

Pool time is my favorite kid and grandkid activity! In the pool families interact on a totally fun, non judgemental, no standards arena.  It is all about safe, “clean” fun!  Everyone gets time to be together, share the space and get a healthy dose of vitamin D too.  Being active promotes a healthy lifestyle, encourages a life long love of activity, and bonds you as a family.   Outside time is an aspect that nurtures me, creates clarity in my life and is a priority for me.  I want to share this with my family. 

What are you doing to go outside and play?

Date Night

When asked to give advice to newlyweds, I always answer to include a weekly Date Night in their activities. Daily life takes it toll on relationships, when conversations about finances, kids and work can take priority over relationships.  Date night is one evening (or day) once a week spent having fun with your spouse.  It is a time to connect on different levels, including communicating about what you are thinking about as well as making plans for the future.  It is also the time to renew the fun you had when you began your relationship.  Date night does not have to be expensive or elegant. It can be a dinner and movie in or out, ice cream at Sonic, a trip to a museum or zoo, or whatever simple activity you both enjoy.  Date night keeps communication and fun in your most important partnership. This is just another way your planner  help you prioritize and  empower our relationships. 

 

Others agree too! http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/life/main/6544045.html

 

JQ and my favorite date night is dinner and a movie.  What is your’s? 

 

 

15 minutes of Home Organizing

home organizing

 

For most of us, we seldom have hours and hours to get organized. Here are some baby step 15 minute organizing ideas for our homes.  Just 15 minutes of home organizing makes for easy home maintenance.  See what 15 minute project  you want to start with and comment on how much you accomplished! Ready, set, go!

 

15 Minutes Under the Sink

Check out those toiletries, body lotions and cosmetics! Toss what is empty, consolidate what is half empty and categorize the items by their use. Keep extra bottles of each item to the back of the area. Place in the front, in a portable container, what you will use each day.

 

 

15 Minutes in the Medicine Cabinet

Toss expired medications and over the counter remedies. Do you have allergy medicine, cough drops or other over the counter items for use in the middle of the night just in case? Make a list of what you will need for your next trip to the store! Group together the medicines for each type of illness, from stomach to sinus.

 

 

15 Minutes in the Pantry


Can’t find what you need to make dinner each evening? Group together the veggies, then the fruits, and finally pasta. Line up your can goods together just like the grocery store. Keep what you use most frequently on the middle shelf in easy reach. On the bottom shelf, group drinks and snacks for your children to serve themselves.

 

 

15 Minutes at Your Desk


Overwhelmed by paper? Use 15 minute segments to make decisions about your piles. Your options are “toss”, “to do”, or “keep/file”. Make quick decisions about toss by referring to these options – anything out of date, any duplicates, or anything you can find on the Internet. With your “to do” pile, generate a list to be incorporated in your calendar. For your “keep/file” papers, jot the category on a post it note and stick this to the paper. It will be ready to create files at a later time.

 

 

15 Minutes in the Closet


Here is a challenge! Spend 15 minutes every day for a week in your closet! Starting on the left side of your closet, go piece by piece and decide what to keep! Keep only what you love and what will fit you currently. Donate clothes that are still in good condition, toss what is stained, missing a button or torn. Make a list of your donation items and calculate your tax deduction using “Its Deductible”. Once you have reviewed all your clothes, re-arrange them by categories of slacks, shorts, blouses, skirts and dresses. Within these categories, arrange the items by the length of the items and then color. An extra special visual touch is to use one type of hanger for your clothes! Hangers with a swivel metal head and clear plastic body with clips or without make your closet look like a fashionable shop!

 

 

Daily 15 minute reset

 

Every day have 15 minutes of organizing to maintain the systems you have set up. After our busy days, we come home tired from our work, but we still need to get a little organizing completed. What can you do in 15 minutes? Get things back to where they belong, get ready for the next day, get lunches made, get your list together, get paper sorted into your command center and get your sanity back! We all can do anything for 15 minutes, especially, if it adds peace of mind and quality to our lives.

 

Have your family team participate with you in organizing for that 15 minutes! It is more fun, gets more done, and adds to family cohesion. You can play beat the clock by setting the kitchen timer for 15 minutes. You can assign tasks to 2 family members so you work in pairs to get trash out, laundry put away, or dinner dishes done.   See who can put away the most items in 15 minutes. Don’t we all want to have fun and get the job done?

 

 

Let me know what works for your 15 minutes of organizing!

 

 

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Your calendar and your master list

calendar and master list;time management

 

There are many systems to help you with time management. I have found that this comes down to integrating two parts, your calendar and your list. We all have so much to accomplish and we all want to be productive.  Try this and see if it works for you!  

 

Your Calendar

Have a great calendar you love! It can be paper or electronic, whichever is most compatible and engaging for you. It should be portable to travel with you and the format should be week or month at a glance. Rules for using your calendar include writing in everything regularly (from doctor appointments to work meetings) reviewing it daily. Add a weekly planning time for you to review what is coming up and adding items from your master list. This is the single most important tool you can have for time management.

 

Your Master List

Most people have too much to remember on a daily basis to remember it all without writing it down. Having a list keeps you in the moment, so that you can keep energy and focus on the project you are doing. Keep a spiral notebook or PDA with you at all times, so you can easily jot down notes and lists when the thought occurs. By consolidating all of this in one place you can review and prioritize actions and projects, combine activities and errands and be more productive each day.

Weekly planning with your calendar and list

 

How do these come together? Not surprisingly your weekly planning time combines these two tools.  Take time each week to review your list and place tasks on your calendar.  This way all priorities are covered.  You can consolidate tasks too, like phone calls and emails.  Your weekly planning is a time on your calendar too!

 

Join my newsletter for more ideas on planning and list making.