Tag Archives: overwhelm

Productivity Tips for Life Management

productivity morning ritual

Tip: Start your day with a routine that primes you to be in charge

All of us, at one time or another, get that sinking feeling of having way too much to do in way too little time. It’s demoralizing to feel overwhelmed by the routine tasks of everyday life. While barely treading water with the routine tasks, it doesn’t take much – a flat tire, an unexpected potluck, a roof leak – to push your schedule into full chaos. How can you reclaim your sanity and sense of control and competence?

Here are some strategies from a recent workshop we took from Productivity Coach, Steve Kirch.

Make Conscious Choices

Busy is a choice, but often doesn’t feel like it. You may not feel like you have choice or control over your time. But even in the most obligated person’s schedule there is enough wiggle room to create space for reflection, planning, and some choice-making. Regaining control of your schedule and your life, starts with making a little time to evaluate the bigger picture and consciously deciding what tasks are essential and where they fit best in your schedule. Otherwise, we get pulled from our important goals into other people’s priorities.

Purge, Purge, Purge

One of the most essential things to do is re-evaluate how much you take on. Just as our spaces get cluttered, so do our schedules. Given your personal priorities, figure out both your essential tasks and those that make you truly happy — and fit those in first.

Create a Morning Routine

It doesn’t have to take oodles of time to plan.  Start with 10 minutes of any day and be intentional about how you are going to spend your day. What are YOUR critical few priorities for today? The ideal time to do this is first thing in the morning.

Consider getting up a little earlier and incorporating this short morning routine that grounds you for the day and helps you feel in control of the ship:

  • Stretch or move
  • Drink some water
  • Meditate
  • Plan the day (check your calendar)

Get Things Done

Try these strategies for actually getting tasks done:

  • Time blocking – group like tasks together and schedule a block of time to complete them before moving on to a different set of tasks or project.
  • Pomodoro Technique® – work for 25 minutes, don’t work for 5 minutes, for 4 rounds –then take a longer break.
  • Don’t check email first thing in morning.
  • Know your biological prime time – what is yours? Try and schedule important tasks during this higher energy time.
  • If you’re naturally distractible (ADD), structure your planning time to avoid distractions and consider silencing your phone or putting it on airplane mode to avoid interruptions.

Try to incorporate one or two of these tips into your day and see how it feels.  If you need more help, consult with a Professional Organizer, Coach or Productivity Specialist.  Asking for help can be one of the most productive tips of all.

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Filed under ADD/ADHD, Decluttering, home organizing, organizing, Perspective, Technology, Time Management

Clutter-Free Gifts

As Professional Organizers, we meet people who are anxious about what to give their loved ones that are personal, valued and “green.” One solution is to give “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.

food gifts

Edibles and Drinkables

  • 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.
  • Your parents might appreciate a gift certificate to your 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.
  • How about a wine or beer club membership?

 

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Entertainment

  • Consider an outing to an Escape Room – a group game in which players solve a series of puzzles and riddles.
  • 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.
  • How about Poetry by Request?  My colleague, Claire Tompkins brings her trusty Royal typewriter to events and creates personalized poetry on demand.
  • 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!
  • Did you know that AirBNB offers gift cards?

cooking-class

Education

  • Get cooking!  Kitchen on Fire offers a variety of classes. 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

Pampering

  • Massages, facials, and nail services are always welcome treats
  • A thorough and expert housecleaning session is great for folks who always do it themselves
  • 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!

 

personal gift certificate

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 a couple months in the future to touch back with your recipient. Re-invite 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!

 

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

Overcoming Resistance-Getting Yourself To YES

Yes

We may want to get reclaim our dining room table or our linen closet from the throes of entropy.  But that isn’t usually enough to get ourselves to make it happen.

Resistance to our goals shows up in different ways for different people… boredom, sleepiness, getting distracted, anxiety, procrastination, avoidance.  So how do you get around your own resistance to meet your organizing goals?

I’m overwhelmed!

Being overwhelmed can stop us in our tracks.  We freeze because the project feels too big and scary.  There are some techniques to managing that overwhelm. Rather than tackling the whole project, take one small step. How about:

  • Working on just a corner of a dining room table or
  • Cherry-picking only the catalogs and magazines or
  • Moving the shredding bag and recycling bin next to the table
  • Removing only the mail that looks critical and leaving the rest for now or
  • Doing a rough sort and gathering only large categories of things: for example, paper, items made of cloth, dishes, other people’s things

I don’t have time for this! I’m too busy! There’s other important things to do!

It may be very true that you are busy and other things seem more important. But this project you are looking at must be costing you something or it wouldn’t be bothering you…mental distress, distraction.

  • What value will you gain by finishing this project?
  • How is this project you’re putting off affecting your daily life?
  • What is it costing you in time, money or distraction? …late fees, family arguments, inefficiency?
  • Get clear on why you’re doing it
  • Schedule a session and see how far you get.
  • If you’re waiting for this magical block of time to appear, unless you make an appointment with yourself, you’ll always feel too busy
  • Ask a friend to keep you company while you work on it or commit to someone else to make progress

I might need it! I paid a lot of money for it! Someone gave it to me!

We all have these objections.  Not valuing your current life as much as you value money you already spent and can’t fully recoup…or letting someone else’s generosity keep you from having your home the way you want it is debilitating.

  • Save that resistance for things that are truly hard to come by, not for things that are easy to borrow or replace, like novels and cheesecake pans.
  • Ask yourself “Is it really that precious to take up valuable space in my home and my life?
  • Is the value of having it on hand worth the everyday cost of keeping it, taking up space, requiring cleaning or care?
  • Don’t let the “maybe/somedays” stand in the way of living comfortably right now. How about that specialty appliance that you have been meaning to use…Is that bread maker/ice cream machine/panini press taking up valuable space on your counter or in your cabinets?
  • To keep from getting stuck, try dividing the items in question into three categories: “YES” – “NO” – “MAYBE” to maintain forward momentum while sorting

Sometimes our resistance isn’t literal or immediately obvious. Maybe you’re avoiding that pile of papers because you have a huge bill due…or clearing out a space means facing memories of someone who used to be in your life.

Hold that vision of the how great it will feel to have made progress on your organizing goal.  The cumulative effect of slight behavior changes can improve the course of your life.  Be kind to yourself, some resistance is pretty intense. If you truly get stuck, move onto something else or reach out for a helping hand.

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Filed under Decluttering, disorganization, Perspective, Strategies

Lose the Psychic Weight of Clutter

psychic weight (1)

Do you have a room in home that when you walk into it you just say, “Ughh!”?

These are spaces that are enough out of sight and out of mind that they are the perfect spots to accumulate years of random items. Attics, basements, garages, guest room closets, dining buffet bottom drawers … every home has them!

So why bother? For the most part they don’t affect daily life – the few times a year you have to retrieve something from them is a hassle but rarely hassle enough to raise the daunting task of cleaning out the space to the top of your to-do list.

These spaces may seem benign…not a problem, no worry…but they actually do have quite a presence. Spaces that trigger guilt, shame, inertia, and paralysis contain psychic weight. We know this from the decades of working with clients. Our clients almost universally describe the feeling of clearing out old clutter as having had a huge weight lifted from their backs. They had become used to living with the problem and hadn’t realized just how much of a mental burden putting off dealing with the clutter was. Feeling the relief of the cleared, organized spaces made it crystal clear what a weight they had been carrying in the background of their consciousness.

Observe and measure how you feel in each room of your home. The spaces can be as simple as a drawer, a cabinet or an entire room. Identify where you are being drained:

  • Where do you find yourself sighing?
  • Is there an area of your home that you completely avoid?
  • What space triggers a sense of feeling trapped?
  • When you want to use a space that’s cluttered, is it a complete hassle to reclaim it?
  • Would you be embarrassed for someone else to see the space?
  • Does the thought of dealing with it make you want to take a nap … or go on a trip?

Take stock of how much mental weight you are carrying around. Where is your extra weight hiding?  Wouldn’t it feel great to be relieved of the heavy feelings of those spaces?

If you’re inspired to get started, choose a small project or part of a room that you can get through in about an hour. Getting to experience that wonderful sense of relief that comes from making progress will fuel your motivation to go further. If you get stuck, reach out!

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Filed under Decluttering, downsizing, Garage, General Organizing, home organizing, Memorabilia, Perspective, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Seniors, Strategies

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