Tag Archives: getting things done

Be S.M.A.R.T. About New Year’s Resolutions

hallway (2)

It’s that time of year – we are flooded with messages in ads, articles and magazine covers, about setting and keeping New Year’s resolutions. Over and over, GETTING ORGANIZED ranks in the top 3 – right next to getting healthier and managing your money better. Guess what?  Getting organized can help you with your other goals! A lot of us are great at setting goals but not so great at following through consistently to make progress. Without a plan behind the goal, it’s pretty hard to truly make changes.

An often-used concept in coaching and organizing is to set “S.M.A.R.T.” goals. Keep this in mind as you plan out your journey to a de-cluttered home.

S – Specific

Is your goal well-defined? For some “Getting Organized” is their goal. But it isn’t specific enough. Enlisting a friend or professional organizer to help you do big-picture planning is one way to start. Defining what you truly want and are willing to work for may be more challenging than you think. If you’ve started projects in the past and not completed them, getting specific may have been the missing piece. Instead of “Organize the house”, how about “Organize the hall closet and entry area”?

M – Measurable

Identify the milestones as you progress. If you are organizing your home, emptying out one closet and re-filling it in a way that makes sense to you is a measurable task. It’s good to define your goal in a way that lets you measure your progress and success. How will you know when the hall closet and entry are organized? Will it look different? Function differently? Feel different? Understanding exactly what items need to live in these areas and having clear and functional homes for those items is measurable.

A – Action Oriented

What specific actions are required to move you toward your goal? It’s difficult to take action on something that has many components, breaking the pie-in-the-sky project down into concrete, manageable bites helps. What would be the next logical first step? Is this action observable? It could be that you schedule 1 hour progress sessions. Action tasks could be: “Go through coats and donate ones we don’t use” or “Empty out the floor of the closet and only put back what truly needs to live here”.

R – Realistic

Have a realistic game plan. Are you trying to organize an area that requires other people’s input? If so, do you have it or how will you get it? Does your project require some space to stage items as you go through them? If so, don’t start working on it right before hosting a kid’s birthday party or having guests over.

Telling yourself you are going to organize your house in a weekend when you work full-time and have 2 kids who are active in sports isn’t realistic either. Make your plan do-able. Look at the reality of your schedule and how you like to work and plan out time accordingly.

T – Time-Based

What is your deadline for achieving your goal?  And is there enough time to achieve it? A realistic time frame can keep you sane. Remember that trying to fit a new project in an already-full life, no matter how inspiring it may be, can be a stressor. Blocking out time to act on your plan helps ensure success. Beware – it is very common to underestimate how long it can take. As organizers we usually allow 2-4 hours minimum to full go through, purge, and re-organize a small hall closet (with no re-design). What can you NOT DO in order to create time to do what you are most excited about?

Enjoy the surge of motivation the new year often brings and set yourself up for success by taking the time to record your desires and spend time planning to turn those intentions into actions…and results. If you can make the journey satisfying, you’re more likely to stay on the path.

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Filed under Decluttering, disorganization, General Organizing, Holidays, Perspective, Strategies, Time Management

Using Goal Periods For Time Management

 

Goal Periods

Breaking a master to-do list into discreet goal periods helps manage the “too much to do overwhelm.”  Trello is a free online tool to implement this strategy.

Have you ever had that feeling of overwhelm when you look at your to-do list, see a million items, feel unsure about where to start or even that the work will never end? We have too!

Inspired by her business coach, Sean Hicks, Katherine has been experimenting with using “goal periods” to help bring focus to her workday.

A goal period is a set block of time when you plan to get things done: seeing clients, doing administrative work, paying bills, running errands, doing chores.

Depending on what’s going on, each day can have several goal periods. A typical length of a goal period is 1.5-3 hours. You decide for yourself how long it should be.  But it should be consistent for you.

Planning Session

The first step to trying this out is to set aside ½ hour 2 times a week for a planning session. This is the time where you will take stock of your giant to-do list, review your schedule for the next few days and decide when your goal periods will be and which tasks will be in them.

What To Do?

Start by having a look at your master to-do list. Ask these questions to narrow the possibilities of what you’re going to tackle this week:

  • What is time sensitive?
  • What’s most important?
  • How long will each item take?

When To Do It?

Now it’s time to take a look at your calendar and set aside some goal periods for the week. Remember, it’s a good idea to do this planning twice a week so you’ll have a chance to shift items around if needed.

  • Block out as many goal periods as your schedule allows (You can have goal periods for exercise and fun stuff too!)
  • Decide which tasks are going to happen in which blocks of time.

Get Working!

When a goal period occurs, get to work on the items designated for that time. When the period ends, stop working on those tasks.

This is essential! Once you have committed to doing something within a goal period, if you don’t finish it within that goal period you have to wait until the next planning session to schedule time to work on it.

So how do you get through tasks that will take longer than a goal period allows? Split that task up into parts and schedule those. If your goal period is 2 hours and you have a task that you think will take 6 hours, you need to break that task down into parts and schedule them into 3 different goal periods.

Maintaining these boundaries is a critical part of the goal period strategy. It has helped Katherine feel the joy of accomplishment without feeling the burden of an unending list of to-dos. This technique also helps give you permission to put a period at the end of a work session, with the opportunity to get refreshed and ready to take on the next set of pre-decided tasks.

Have questions on how to implement this for yourself? Ask them here!

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Filed under Decluttering, organizing, Perspective, Strategies, Technology, Time Management, Work

Put Your Time In The Pickle Jar

Pickle Jar Theory

A man comes into a meeting of co-workers with an empty pickle jar. He fills the jars with rocks and asks the group, “Is there any more room?”

No!   He then adds pebbles to the jar and shakes them down. “Is there any more room?”

No!   He then adds sand to the jar and fill in the cracks. “Is there any more room?”

No!   He adds water until the jar is topped off.

What is the lesson? “There is always more room than you think?”

NO!   Put in the big rocks first.

The jar represents your time. If you put the larger rocks in first (your higher priority activities) you’ll be able to fit in the smaller pebbles (those less important activities) around them. This enables you to fill your time with what’s important and make progress on your goals.  If you fill your time with sand and water (less important activities like playing on the computer, watching TV or snacking) you’ll have no room in your schedule for the big rocks (activities that make your life worthwhile such as playing with your kids, writing that article or connecting with a friend in need.)

This “Pickle Jar Theory” is a popular concept in time management circles.

How do you figure out which tasks are your big rocks? What are your important activities?  Here’s one way:

  1. Block time out to review your to-dos…write them all down
  2. Search your mind for all those things you want to do…large and small…give yourself some time to gather all those promises you’ve made to yourself and others…all those hopes and dreams you have set aside
  3. Sort to-dos into categories such as: creativity – work – family – finances – achievement – romance – community – home – friends – health
  4. Prioritize categories based on which are the most important to implement NOW to move you toward your goals. Pick only 2-3 categories to focus on
  5. Purge items from your list that you think you may not do, or that you will do “later” (which often becomes never) or things you “should do” but know you never will
  6. Pick 1-2 actual tasks from your 2 – 3 chosen categories – a “task” is a one-step item like: make a phone call, read an article, write a list
  7. Analyze your calendar and figure out where those tasks will fit in (When will you do it? * Where will you do it? * How will you do it?)
  8. Rinse & Repeat – continue this process regularly to keep moving forward in areas which truly matter to you

Remember, ideas without implementation are just entertainment!

Next week, how to translate this “Pickle Jar Theory” into how you use your space.

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Filed under Decluttering, organizing, Perspective, Strategies, Time Management

3 Words That Will Change Your Life

Practicing DO IT NOW builds a special kind of muscle ... one you'll be proud of!
Practicing DO IT NOW builds a special kind of muscle … one you’ll be proud of!

Have you ever had a morning like this?

  • You wake up, go to make coffee but realize you’re out because you didn’t stop by Peet’s yesterday after work.
  • You have to dig out a work shirt (now wrinkled) from the pile of laundry on the couch because you didn’t feel like folding them when they came out of the dryer last night.
  • You go to do your daughter’s hair before school but there are no hair clips in the bathroom – she finally finds one on the coffee table after 5 minutes of searching.
  • At the last minute you realize you need to return a form to school – and spend 10 minutes scrambling through the last 4 piles of papers left around the house that you meant to go through.

Sounds like an easy and relaxing start to the day, right? NOT!

This is going to sound too simple but these 3 words could drastically improve the flow of your life:

DO IT NOW

The little decisions and actions you routinely delay have a cumulative effect of creating clutter…and lots of inconvenience and stress!

Here are some common areas people delay decisions and actions:

Kid memorabilia – It all seems so special. So you keep it all and because of our busy family lives, it just ends up in a heap, getting dusty and dog-eared. Once it comes home make a quick decision – does it go on display? Go straight to the memorabilia box (you have one, right?), or straight into recycling (yes, behind their back if need be)?

Junk mail – Are you in a rush when you retrieve the mail, leaving it in piles around the house, half processed? Instead of setting the fresh pile of mail down to go through later quickly extract the obvious junk mail and throw it straight into recycling. If you truly can’t get to it immediately, having one unprocessed mail-dumping station enables you (or your partner) to deal with it when you have the time to do it right.

Putting things away – If you’re passing through one room on the way to another, keep an eye out for things you can take with you and put back in their proper homes. This keeps general clutter to a minimum and prevents the need for a big chunk of time to get picked up – especially before cleaning day.

Keep the fridge fresh – How many times have you picked up a jar of something in the fridge to find it’s expired and put it right back to deal with “later” because you want to rinse it out and recycle the jar instead of just dumping it in the trash? Instead, clean out the jar right away or set the jar in the sink to be dealt with the next time dishes are done. The next time you open your fridge and find all the food inviting, you’ll thank yourself!

Weed regularly – I’ve seen many a client survey the contents of a closet or drawer saying “oh yeah, I could get rid of that” or “probably half this stuff could go…” As soon as you realize you’re never going to wear that shirt again or you really could let go of that figurine you‘ve always hated, get it into a donation bag right away. Letting potential donations accumulate in closets and drawers clogs up valuable storage space with unused clutter.

This sounds easier than it is – it takes a lot of consciousness and follow-through.

Just because we’re organizers doesn’t mean we have it all down; we have to practice at it also. But following this philosophy even some of the time will definitely make life easier.

Think of your future self – will doing it now save you headache later? Then DO IT!

Do you have a funny story of the domino effect of putting things off? Share it with us!

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Filed under Bedroom, Closets, Decluttering, Garage, General Organizing, Kids, Kitchen, Memorabilia, Office, Paper, Perspective, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Storage, Strategies, Time Management