Organizing, Procrastinaton

Conquering Procrastination…now!

I covered procrastination in my newsletter last year but since it’s Tax preparation time and Spring is here, I thought it would be a good time to revisit the subject.

The word procrastinate comes from the Latin procrastinatus, which means, literally, “forward tomorrow.” If you’ve been putting off till tomorrow what you could — and should — do today, then recognize that procrastination is a habit that can be broken. But it won’t happen overnight. It takes 21 days to form a new habit. So set a date, (Mondays work well, because they feel like a fresh start) and track 21 days to stay the course. (Comment to this post with your START DATE – accountability helps us get started.)

First of all, give yourself a reason to stop procrastinating. Will you improve your financial situation because you’ll pay your bills on time? Or will you impress your family, friends, and coworkers because you’ll appear productive and efficient? And — gasp — will you be less stressed because you are on top of your to-do list and arrive on time? (collective gasp is heard when you arrive on time)

Whatever the goal, keep it in mind throughout the first 21 habit-forming days.

How can you get started? Start writing. Yes, most of us have smartphones and if you’re like me, you are using up EVERY SINGLE bit of memory, but a good ‘ol fashioned notebook is a great tool…seriously. Whatever you do, scraps of paper and sticky notes won’t do – they have their place but not for getting started on stopping procrastinating. Remember, you’ll want everything in one place because you are forming a new habit.

In this notebook, keep a running list of tasks that need to be done. (It might be really long.) But then, each evening, make a smaller “to do today” list for the upcoming day, on a separate page in your notebook. List only the most important things you need to accomplish that day, and keep the number of tasks realistic and attainable. (About five things usually works well.) The next morning, you’ll know exactly what needs to be done, and you can concentrate on those tasks above all else. That evening, re-evaluate your list. Anything not completed moves forward to the following day’s task list, and a few more items are added. And take a moment to permanently remove tasks from your list that no longer contribute to your goals or happiness.

I use a paper calendar for my business. It has sections for personal, family and business items for each day. I review it in the evening, and in the morning. I keep a notebook beside me and on me at all times and this goes with me when I’m out and about.

REALISTIC-SIZED CHUNKS OF WORK: This is so key because procrastination is usually tied to poor time management…yeah, sorry but it’s true.  So as you’re writing your to-do list, make sure to break tasks down into realistic-sized chunks. If your goal is to organize your messy kitchen, the enormity of it will seem daunting. Instead, break it down into one-hour tasks: toss out all expired foods in pantry; clean out refrigerator; organize junk drawer; set up mini-filing system for kitchen. Completion dates are important, so assign specific tasks to specific days. You won’t organize a kitchen in a day, but over the course of a week, you can do it! And each day’s successes will give you the drive to keep going.

For truly unpleasant tasks (for me that’s cleaning the bathtub…ewww), set a timer for 15 minutes, and just do it. Nearly anything is palatable for a quarter of an hour. It’s also helpful to see that most unpleasant things don’t take nearly as long as we think they will. You may hate going through your in-basket at work. But just 15 minutes each morning and evening is enough to review, sort, do the quickie tasks, and assign the longer ones to your planner. If you’re feeling sluggish, complete an easy job first, to get your momentum going. Also, do the toughest tasks when your body is most alert — some people function better first thing in the morning, while others perk up later in the day. I am not a morning person, more of an afternoon person, so I schedule tough tasks for the afternoon.

Treat time like a precious gift. Are you a people-pleaser? If you’re truly behind in your own tasks, don’t add any more optional to-do items until you’re caught up. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to delegate. It’s okay to take some time for yourself. And stop saying, “If I can’t do it perfectly, I won’t do it at all.” This is what has kept you stuck already…and that’s not working too well for you, is it? Just limit your choices, let well enough be okay and move forward. Perfection is not realistic or required in life…just “let it go”.

Reward yourself. After 21 days of “just do it” action, treat yourself to something nice… lunch with a friend, a luxurious nap or bubble bath, a hot-fudge sundae, a concert, or an afternoon with a favorite book or movie. You’ve earned it!

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Decluttering, Organizing

Spring is Here!!! Quick Tips to Start the Organizing Process

Spring is Here! These tips will help you stop procrastinating and get organized today! Inspire and motivate yourself with the “Quick Start” projects. Each of these should take no longer than 30 minutes. Next, try the “Keep Going” tips to really put clutter and chaos in its place!

Kitchen

Quick Start: Take everything out of the refrigerator. Toss anything expired or mysteriously fuzzy. Clean the shelves. Then replace food items, grouping similar things together.

Keep Going: Tackle each kitchen cupboard and drawer the same way. Remove everything, clean, and toss anything not fresh or useful. Give most-used items your prime, easiest-to-reach space. Put infrequently used items up high or way in the back.

Clutter

Quick Start: Set a timer for 15 minutes. Grab a garbage bag, walk through your home, and quickly remove ten things you no longer use or love. Also, recycle newspapers older than one week and magazines older than 12 months, plus expired coupons and junk mail. Dispose of the bags immediately.

Keep Going: From here on out, put things in their proper places right away. Before buying something new, ask yourself if you really need it. If you decide to purchase, get rid of two similar items to make room.

Paperwork

Quick Start: With the exception of bills to be paid and truly important documents, grab all the paperwork you can find into one big pile. Plop it in a big box, seal it, and write today’s date on it. If you haven’t missed any of it two months from now, recycle the entire box without opening it.

Keep Going: Set up a new, easy filing system starting with paperwork you receive from today forward. Think of broad categories of papers you receive on a frequent basis: bills to pay, people to call, medical, school, etc. Get a desktop filing box, keep it in the kitchen, and file only what you’ll truly need to reference later. Be ruthless in your paper disposal. (Shred sensitive documents.) Review file contents weekly.

Touch paperwork only once: Open mail, and immediately act on it and recycle the paper, or file it in the appropriate spot.

Kids’ Stuff

Quick Start: Every evening, set a timer and have the family do the “Ten Minute Tidy-Up.” Holding an empty laundry basket, each person grabs anything out of place, and returns it to its correct home.

Keep Going: Limit clutter with the “new item in, old item out” rule. If you buy a new toy or clothing, get rid of at least one old one. Limit school art and paperwork. Save only the best, and keep them in an under bed storage box or portfolio.

Time Management

Quick Start: Set your watch ten minutes ahead. You’ll have a built-in buffer for running late.

Keep Going: Any task that can be completed in five minutes or less should be completed right away. Schedule a chunk of time each day to handle paperwork. Don’t schedule appointments too close together.

Email

Quick Start: Move everything more than two weeks old from your email inbox to a file marked “Holding.” Keep it for two months. Then, delete everything you haven’t needed in that time.

Keep Going: Treat your inbox like a real mail box. You’d never leave old mail sitting in there! Take the time to set up files where you can immediately move new emails. As emails arrive, either read and delete, file appropriately, or put in a “to do this week” file.

Garage/Attic/Basement

Quick Start: Set a timer for 30 minutes and toss/recycle dried out paint and chemicals, and anything broken, musty, or moldy.

Keep Going: Sort the space into zones. For example, a garage might have areas for sports, tools, gardening, and recycling/garbage. Group like items in those zones. Use appropriate storage containers and label clearly.

(courtesy © 2013 Articles on Demand™)

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Organizing, Time Management, Uncategorized

Time Keeps Ticking Tocking Away

Do you struggle with a poor sense of time? Are you often late for appointments, work? Are your kids late for school? This often occurs because of an inability to find what you need in the morning, distractions and sometimes not understanding just how long tasks REALLY take to complete.

Here are some tips to help you plan and schedule your time:

  1. Just like we do with our kids, we (adults) need to plan our morning out the NIGHT BEFORE. This will sound familiar if you have done this with your kids, but figure out what you’re going to wear the next day (I know this sounds really hard because you dress in the morning based on how you FEEL that day – bite the lip and try this technique before giving up). Gather your work items (briefcase, purse, bag, etc.) – put these by the door you will exit! Now do the same thing for your kids (clothes for next day, backpacks, shoes, items to take to school) and place those by the same door. We’re trying to help stop the morning madness!
  2. Hang your keys by the door you exit/use most often. If it’s the garage, then put up a key holder inside your house, next to the door to the garage. Multiple people using multiple sets of keys equals…yes you are right! Multiple hooks on the key holder! As for me, I prefer a small table also in this area to put stuff down on. Yes this can become the dumping ground, but in our prior home when we didn’t have one, everything was dropped right on the floor or onto the dining room table. Um, no. We currently don’t have a table near the door so items come into the kitchen. Our space in the entryway won’t accommodate the depth of a small table plus we have a large row of coat hooks / key hooks / purse hooks by the door. The counter is okay for this instance because the mail gets sorted through and purged into the recycling bin and lunch boxes live in the kitchen anyway. Phew! Moving on…
  3. Who likes to procrastinate doing the tough stuff? Yes, every human being raises their hand. Thank you. Here’s a simple but effective tip – schedule the tough stuff for early in the week – and when you are at your peak energy level – and see what happens! Believe it or not, once you get the tough tasks out-of-the-way, time is easier to manage. Otherwise that pink elephant is staring you in the face…everyday…all week long…ugh.
  4. Since errand running affects all of us (except those with personal assistants who run their errands for them and are named Kardashian, ahem), do you know realistically how long it takes you to run the errands? Try my tip – multiply by a factor of 3. If you live in the MetroDC area, anything can happen with traffic and what might be only 10 miles to run an errand may take you 30 minutes or more. (Note: if it’s rush hour in the MetroDC area, I increase my factor to 4). Yes this is my little secret…if I have to drive 10 miles, I calculate 30 minutes. If it’s rush hour, that becomes 40 minutes. Why is this errand running time understanding step important? Because we tend to not estimate enough time and external factors and then we over schedule and are constantly under pressure – maybe even yelling or honking horns at lights because we’re angry because we are late. Perhaps we made ourselves late by not fully grasping how long it takes to get from point A to point B? Hmm…that’s a thought.
  5. Hubs and I use a smart phone app for our shopping lists. I have a bazillion stores listed and we share just a few. We share lists for two grocery stores and three multipurpose stores (Target, Walmart and Walgreens). The app we use is called AnyList for iOS. I’m sure these apps exist for other types of phone operating systems as well. The cool thing is that NO LONGER are either of us out and about and decide to go by the store and realize we DON’T HAVE THE GROCERY LIST! Hate when that happens. Now we can add to the list on the fly (it updates immediately) and when either of us are in a store, we can purchase what’s on the list. The only thing remaining? Look at the lists. LOL.
  6. Do you have kids to keep track of schedules and messages? I’d recommend a family message center. White board or a chalkboard are fantastic for these areas. A family calendar is also a must since there are only so many adults who can drive the kids to all their after school activities. No, we are not cloned just because we are parents. Another idea is to set up Google calendar and husbands and wives can add their activities as well as their kids’ activities. That way everyone is on the same page when not at home looking at the calendar on the wall. (I’m all for technology if it provides a better solution!)
  7. Feeling overwhelmed at tasks to be done? Set a timer. I have used this technique a long time. If one of your family members struggles with ADD, then use 15 minute increments to focus on tasks. You don’t have to complete a large task in one sitting – done is better than perfect. Perhaps you need to just break up the task into chunks of time and put it on your calendar? I use this technique often – especially when performing home repair/remodeling tasks or yard work tasks. Why? Because I want to work on the task at my peak energy time and I know myself, if I’ve gone past a few hours, I’m going to not be as focused and will start making mistakes. To thine own self be true (and gentle!).
  8. Remember that if you are working on trivial tasks (oh, I need to print off those forms instead of writing a blog!), you are procrastinating my friend. We all do it. Usually it’s the tasks as mentioned in #3 above. Prioritize your tasks and work on the priorities first. Then reward yourself with a fun task!
  9. Lastly, and I learned this in pre-marriage counseling decades ago, usually in a relationship one person is the “tasker” and the other person is the “teamer”. What does this mean? That one person wants to do fun stuff and the other one wants to get things done! How do you overcome this “opposites attract” challenge? Ask the teamer to help you with a task (and yes, us “taskers” need to be specific in how long the task will take or be worked on), and that once the task is done, you will be glad to go “teaming”. Otherwise the tasker gets resentful and will not enjoy their time teaming, while the teamer doesn’t understand why the tasker is in a huff. Simple solution and works well if agreed upon by both people in the relationship. (Hey, this can also apply to kids).

Tick tock tick tock…let’s learn to make time our friend and not our enemy.

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