Tag Archives: overwhelm

A Perspective on Moving from a Coach

artful coaching on moving

Our favorite personal coach, Sydney Metrick of Artful Coaching has just gone through the experience of downsizing and had some valuable insights to share.

How long does it take to accumulate more stuff than you need? I’m a person who detests clutter not only for aesthetic reasons, but because I think better when things are neat and organized. Yet, it appears I have waaaay more stuff than I need or would ever use.

Stuff seems to fall into six categories:

  1. The things I use regularly and actually need
  2. Items I acquired because they were interesting and I might enjoy them
  3. The “someday” items that are clothed with good intentions
  4. Gifts
  5. Memorabilia
  6. Mystery items

Because I’m moving, drastic downsizing is mandatory. Going through two decades of books, clothes, art, and extensive miscellaneous stuff, I’ve learned two really important things. The first thing is that only the stuff in category #1 is worth packing and taking, like insurance papers, my computer, clothing, and shoes. The second insight came about from looking through everything in categories #2-#6. That is, looking through them is enough. It’s kind of like a review and letting go. It was nice to take those little trips down memory lane, but bottom line, living in the past is not for me. Would I truly miss a wooden cigar box, or a meditation candle I received one holiday? Did I really care about the glass that acknowledged Peter and Jennifer’s wedding? And what exactly are the little brushes for anyway that were in the box with printer ink?

So, in addition to scheduling time to go through everything, I also had to pack and label the things I’m keeping, and arrange for everything else to be sold, donated, given away, or shredded. It was a lot. But I thought how moving is such a great motivator. Going through all those things was fun, interesting, informative, and useful.

Wondering how this might work for you if you’re not moving? Consider the “gift of the month” exercise. Pick a drawer, shelf, box or whatever, that you haven’t gone through for quite a while (or ever). Set aside an hour or so one day that you’ll devote to emptying and looking at everything in that space. Put back only what really makes sense and discard the rest. What’s the gift? Well, it may be that you find something you’d been looking for or had forgotten. Or you have the gift of a newly decluttered and organized space.

Be Sociable!

sydney-metrick.jpg

Sydney Metrick of Artful Coaching – Coaching for ADHD and other non-linear thinkers since 1998.

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Filed under ADD/ADHD, Decluttering, downsizing, Guest Experts, Moving, Perspective, Strategies

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

Adjust Your Zoom Lens to Get Organized

woman with camera (1)

One of the most valuable skills to develop to get and stay organized is the ability to see a macro view as opposed to a micro view.

Step back to get the bigger picture…

Before you start organizing ask yourself questions such as:

  • What’s important to me?
  • Why am I getting organized in the first place?
  • How do I want to feel when this project is done?

During organizing ask:

  • In my typical day, how often do I need this?
  • What other objects relate to this object I want to put away?
  • How does it fit into my regular routine?
  • What else is living in the space where this should really live?

Here’s a very simple example to illustrate the concept: There’s a pen laying out on the counter and you want to put it away. Before you just shove it in the first available drawer or pen cup think about it for a second – does the pen work well? If not, toss it. If it works but you don’t like how it writes, does someone else in the family love it? Maybe it should go live where they can find it easily again.

Adjusting your zoom lens out to a wider view provides context and perspective. It’s easy to get lost in the details. Thinking in the bigger picture helps simplify the process of figuring out what to keep and where to put things. Living in this conscious way results in less clutter.

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Filed under Decluttering, General Organizing, organizing, Perspective, Strategies

5 Clutter-Free Gifts

Last week we focused on great gifts to help people stay organized. This week we focus on “consumable” gifts. The advantage of a consumable gift is it gives the recipient a special experience, doesn’t take up any room and doesn’t leave behind any clutter.

gingerbread people

Edibles and Drinkables

  • Your parents might appreciate a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant or one you think they’d like
  • Gift an invitation to dine out with you at the hot new restaurant or a known old favorite – your treat of course!
  • Teens love gift cards to Peet’s, Starbucks, ice cream, lunch food
  • Gift baskets of food – nice fruits, cheeses, nuts, chocolates. Who wouldn’t want to try a variety of yummy foods put together by you…or from your favorite vendor? The SF Bay Area is home to many artisan chocolate and food makers; a basket of local treats makes a personal touch.
  • How about a wine club membership? …or a Beer-of-the-Month Club subscription?

movie night

Entertainment

  • Tickets or gift certificates to movies, dance, theater, museums or sports events can be prized by people who can’t seem to justify frivolous expenses
  • Subscriptions to entertainment services such as Amazon Prime or Netflix can provide easy access to movies and entertainment at home
  • Gift of a special outing with you: ice skating, a picnic in the park, a visit to a children’s museum, the zoo or an amusement park
  • Annual pass for a ski resort or for a fun place like Six Flags Magic Mountain
  • Lottery tickets make great stocking stuffers!

Holiday Tamale Workshop

Education

  • Get cooking!  Sur La Table offers a holiday tamale workshop. Cooking lessons are fun to do with a group or with one special friend: either at a store, a cooking school or in your own kitchen
  • A stack of specialty magazines on gaming or weaving or architecture – whatever they’re into – are a treat!
  • Would your giftee love an art or other adult education class?  Offer to take it with them!
  • How about a subscription to a meditation website such as Headspace – a gym for your head?
  • A block of classes at the local pilates or yoga studio can inspire them to get going on their health goals
  • Sign them up for a historical tour of a local hot spot

relaxation

Pamper

  • Trips to your local water park are memorable events
  • Massages, facials, and nail services are always welcome treats
  • A thorough and expert housecleaning session is great for folks who always do it themselves (Locally we recommend Casa Azul and Cleaning Solutions)
  • Hot tub session at a place such as Piedmont Springs
  • Do you know someone who complains about the state of their closets, garage or playroom? Give the gift of a session with a professional organizer!

offer help in the garden

Your Time

  • What do YOU do well? Offer a session with your loved one sharing your skills and time with them: interior design help, personal shopping, gardening, back rubs, clutter-clearing, cooking a meal or teaching a cooking technique, a personalized sight-seeing tour, iPhone instruction-sessions…the sky’s the limit!

Remember to follow up with your giftee. Sometimes people forget about gift certificates. Put a reminder in your calendar for sometime in January or February to touch back with your recipient. Reinvite them to take you up on your offer of a fun experience or remind them of the gift certificate you gave them.

Have a great consumable gift idea? Share it here! Happy gifting and happy holidays!

 

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Filed under Decluttering, General Organizing, Holidays, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies

Information Clutter And Overwhelm

Too many inputs can make it hard to take action

Too many inputs can make it hard to take action

Have you ever gone on the internet to do some research on a travel destination and looked up – hours later, hair disheveled, still in your pajamas –  realizing you haven’t really found out anything relevant about your trip?

Information overload was the topic at a recent workshop by organizing expert Judith Kolberg, author of Organizing in the Era of Endless.
Judith pointed out that external limits have changed. It used to be that getting information meant that you had to go to a library or business during their operating hours. Or you had to call friends on the phone during socially acceptable hours.

With 24/7 access to the internet, email and texting the external boundaries to socializing and information exchange have largely disappeared. Wikipedia even has an extensive entry about information overload.

More than ever it’s up to each person to set his or her own boundaries to prevent information overload. Here are some of tips from Judith:

  • Make your search well rounded and then STOP. This might include:
    • Talk to 3 or 4 friends in-the-know
    • Refer to three authoritative blogs or podcasts
    • Watch a few choice YouTube videos
    • Conduct a time-limited internet search
  • Set a time limit for your research and spend time in proportion to the importance of the research project you’re on.
  • Use alarms to remind yourself of your limits.
  • Learn how to search more efficiently. Go to http://www.google.com/insidesearch/tipstricks/basics.html to brush up.

Remember, since there is no end to the amount of information, points of view, perspectives, arguments, “facts” and claims you can gather from others, at some point, you need to draw your own conclusion, formulate an opinion, or make a decision.

 

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

Managing the World of Self-Storage

How good of a deal is that storage unit?

How good of a deal is that storage unit?

Lately we’ve had several clients struggling with the issue of storage units. It makes us realize how important it is to think through the decision about renting one before you make the leap.

When we feel compromised for space the appeal of an extra garage is enticing. There are valid reasons for needing and using storage but if you don’t have a planned exit strategy and timeline for emptying it, the long-term cost will far outweigh the benefits.

The Financials

Don’t let the perception of a low monthly cost cloud the reality of how much you’ll really be paying over time. According to the Self Storage Association, in 2013 the asking rent for a 10’ x 10’ unit was $115/mo. That comes to $1,380/year. If you can afford that much would you be better off spending higher rent or mortgage to get a larger living space? Would the money be better spent processing and organizing the stuff so you don’t have to store it? 

Still think it’s a great idea?

  • Some stored objects depreciate or become obsolete (computer equipment, appliances)
  • If you’re holding onto things because “they might be valuable one day,” the storage cost will greatly offset your profit
  • If you can store it for years, you can probably live without it
  • If the storage bill is unpaid, the contents will be sold to pay the fees and you will still be liable for the balance of the bill
  • Having more storage promotes acquisition
  • Inadequate security can put your items at risk of loss
  • Climate issues – damage can occur to furniture/art/photos/papers due to moisture and heat; climate controlled units are more expensive

Getting Out

Understand that the main cause of clutter is unmade and postponed decisions. Getting a unit emptied will require many decisions about what to keep, what to let go of, and how to let go of items. Having an exit plan is essential for controlling your costs. Decide a date for when the unit will be empty and plan a timeline accordingly.

First step is usually to sort the contents. Options for getting items out once you’ve sorted:

  • For furniture, art, and collectibles – have an estate sale person come and make you an offer
  • Some storage facilities offer eBay selling services
  • Schedule a charitable donation pickup
  • You many need to hire a mover or hauler to get rid of large items or trash; storage units generally don’t let you use their dumpsters
  • If all else fails, leave the unit unlocked and the door ajar

Take a hard look…do you want to spend money on keeping things in limbo or do you want the clarity and peace of mind of having made sometimes tough choices to free up your resources for better uses?

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Filed under Decluttering, Garage, General Organizing, Perspective, Storage, Strategies

Productivity Tools for Home or Office

Last Friday we attended the Small Business Summit in San Francisco, hosted by our Professional Organizing Association, NAPO-SFBA. Here are the most useful productivity tools we learned:

Virtual Office

Attorney, Jeena Cho spoke about how to set up a virtual office. She is able to work from home and be virtually paperless.

Her two must-have tools are:

Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner

and

Egnyte file storagefile sharing site

Productivity

Hot tips from a panel of productivity experts:

  • We can only control our behavior and attitude toward information overload
  • Productivity = vision + quality. Make a vision for your life to help keep your task choices in line with what is important to you
  • There is no such thing as multi-tasking
  • Mindfulness and meditation are good tools for keeping perspective and managing overload. Headspace is an app that can help you get started
  • Set specific times to check and respond to email instead of letting it interrupt your day constantly. Use the signature line of your email to set an expectation around response times

 

Apps 

HomeZadaOur favorite app: HomeZadaThis cloud-based application helps you create a home inventory and manage upkeep and improvement projects for your home. It’s free to use their home inventory function. But the time tracking tool for figuring out when to replace filters, clean gutters and flush water heaters is promising.  We look forward to test-driving HomeZada and sharing more about it.

 

Cloud Security & Privacy

No huge surprises here; basically if you choose to use the Internet your data and information are not all that secure. Key things you can do to increase your protection:

  • Use complex passwords! Use lots of them. Ideal passwords are a string of 3 unrelated words (so you can remember them) with mixed in capitals, numbers, and symbols. For example the password: curtainbeachdog could become Curt@1nB3@chDog
  • Pay for apps instead of opting for the free version. Nothing is truly free! If the company can’t make money off your purchase they will make money off of selling your data to others
  • Actually read the terms of use and privacy policies of companies and only do business with those whom will protect your privacy

We’ll explore more about these topics in the coming weeks.  What are your favorite productivity tools?

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Filed under Decluttering, General Organizing, Office, Paper