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Great Ideas on How to Focus… Now!

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Don’t critique the job you’re doing until you’ve completed it.

Christine Adamec, author of “Moms with ADD”
Adult ADD

Adult ADD

This is just one of the “8 Ways to Focus at Work & Home” from the article in ADDitude Magazine online.

If you are distracted by bright and shiny objects, are a raving perfectionist,  or simply have to move NOW or you will die, you will find hope in these simple tips from ADHD experts.

While you are there, sign up to have the newsletter delivered to your in box. We all can use the additional nudge to simplify desktops, write lists, and ask for help from a friend. Common sense? Yes! Do we do it? No!

Drowning in Paper? Do the Perennial Paper Purge!

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Paper piles

Most small businesses and family units use the calendar year as their fiscal year for tax purposes. That makes December the wrap-it-up month (no pun intended) of the fiscal year.

Whether you celebrate Hanukah, Christmas or another holy day, the pace at the office and at home slows that last week of December.  Perhaps it is because your colleagues take vacation, school activities are on hold, and the kids are busy playing with new toys. As of this writing that week will be here in 8 days!

Take advantage of the slow down to shake out files from 2009. Here are a few ideas to get your reduction juices going.

  1. Weed out articles you thought you would read, but never got around to.
  2. Finish recording new addresses and recycle the holiday cards.
  3. Enter automobile expenses into a spreadsheet and ditch the gas receipts and repair bills.
  4. Make files for your hobbies and fill with those good ideas that you have floating around.
  5. Donate any magazines you have not read to a doctor, dentist, or senior center.
  6. Take all newspaper piles to your nearest animal shelter.
  7. Print out record retention guidelines and write in bold letters next to each category the earliest month and year that should be kept.   (Ex.  Pay stubs -  January 2009, until verified with W-2,  birth certificate – PERMANENTLY)

    The ABC’s of Important Papers – Julie Morgenstern


    [intlink id="what-financial-records-to-keep-and-how-long-to-keep-them" type="page" target="_blank"]What Financial Records to Keep and How Long to Keep Them[/intlink] –

  8. Shred documents in each category that are have dates prior to your cut off.
  9. Get a head start on tax preparation by pulling together all of your charitable receipts and business expenses.  A couple of hours of work now can mean a speedy refund by March.  Be aware that your accountant has the last word on which documents you need to complete tax forms. When in doubt, do NOT throw it out!

Have your paper shredder handy for sensitive documents, along with a box or black trash bag for papers you can’t recycle.

Paper purging is best done with a refreshing drink in front of those Bowl games, while watching the kids play on the floor, or with soothing music in the background. Think of it as a “paper purging party!”  You will be that much ahead going into the New Year!

Mapping Out Your Perfect Holiday Activity

Friday, December 4th, 2009

A popular saying is, “You have to make time for the important things in life.” The truth is, each day we have all the time we are going to get – 24 hours – then that day is done, gone, kaput! We can’t really make time, we can only manage wisely what we have.

Just as with a dollar in a candy store, you can only spend the time you are given… once.  What is one important thing you definitely want to accomplish this holiday season? Is it to…

  • Give of yourself to someone in need

  • Reconnect with a distant loved one

  • Connect in a real way with someone close to you

  • Celebrate spirit-filled traditions with your children

  • Express gratitude to those responsible for the good things in your life

  • Create a meaningful memory for your family

Choose one activity that is of utmost priority to you. Commit yourself to making that happen. Then take these steps to insure that you make it to your destination on time.
road map
1. Write down your goal. Commit yourself on paper to accomplish this one thing if nothing else. Set a deadline for yourself: when will you be done and what is the result you want (how will you know when you have reached your goal?) Remember that you can only control your actions, so set a goal about what you do, not how someone else will respond.

2.  Plan the steps to take.
On that same sheet of paper, write down what it will take to get the job done. Will you call someone, contact a volunteer effort? Will you plan a special trip or activity?

3. Recognize supporting actions. For each step you have written, answer this question – What must happen before you are able to take that step? Do you need to hunt information? Will you have to go to the store to purchase supplies? Write these supporting actions down next to that step.

4. Make your time map. Now you are ready to plug these action steps into your daily calendar, thinking “When do I have to have this done so I can…?” take the next step to meet your deadline and ultimate goal.

Now you have the full picture of the actions you must take, the time you must spend to accomplish your mission. At this point, I am always shocked by the actual time and effort that my chosen activity will take.

That is why choosing to do what is important and non-urgent (rather than to obey the tyranny of the urgent) is both extremely hard to do and vital to your character and success.

My request to you: Don’t let today end before you identify your #1 priority action. Write down your exact goal and deadline. Then complete steps 1-4. You now have the map to get to your desired destination on time! You can do it, just follow your map!

Last Day of November, Did You Clean Out Toys?

Monday, November 30th, 2009

November is one of two times per year that is perfect to clean out toys; the other is during the month before your child/grandchild’s birthday. That is the tip I shared with the MOMS Club of Dublin S at their October meeting.  Little did I realize my daughter in VA would recruit me to help her pare down toys while I was there this month.

I do admire moms who work outside the home. I think that is the hardest job in the world. There are not enough hours in the day to do everything, so the working mom has to choose who/what to neglect. Usually the choice is: herself.  My daughter, Sarah, is no exception.

That is why I am always glad to be there to help either by playing with my two pre-school grandchildren or doing some of the chores while she was busy with kids. This time Sarah and I had fun together doing some de-cluttering and organizing of toys.  These are the steps we took:

1. First we took all toys out of the family room, off the toy shelves, and dumped them in the middle of the staging area – in this case the formal living room.

2. We gathered trash bags and containers for sorting. Sarah was ahead of the game here because she already had designated containers for: cars/trucks, baby doll stuff, toy kitchen/food, dress ups, musical instruments, books, soft toys, little things (that 1 yr old Ethan can’t have.) In addition there were the categories TOSS (trash), GIVE (consignment), STORE (just in case of baby #3).

3. Then between the two of us we touched each item and sorted it into one of the categories. If I didn’t know what Sarah wanted to do with a particular toy, I would ask her.  She is a decisive person, so this part only took about an hour.

4. Meanwhile we had dusted and cleaned the toy shelves. So after sorting we put the containers back in their home. After the two trash bags went out, and we carried two boxes into the basement, all Sarah had left to do was take things to the consignment store that week.  DONE!

Now there is space for new toys, books, and games from Grandma and Grandpa. What fun!

If you didn’t have time to do this in November, take time during this first week of December. Your toys may be DVD’s, CD’s or video games.  Use the same steps with different categories.  It works!

Crayons… and Convicted of Clutter

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Have you ever had the experience of being convicted by your own words?  I have!

While preparing for my recent “Clear the Clutter!” workshop, I gathered several drawers of “useful junk” from around my house for a sorting exercise.  I decided to use one of the items to demo the use of 5 Key Questions to determine:  Should it stay or should it go?  I grabbed a box of crayons and began to ask:

Click to continue »

Your Magic Wand Goal

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

September is one of those “new start” months. Hopefully, the summer has been a slower pace, with time off from the normal demands of family, work, and school.

Then the weather turns cooler and kids go back to school. This is a perfect time to begin a project that will take 3 months or so.

Magic WandBefore you jump into something NEW, take a look at your present systems for your home and office. Do you feel confident that you are using your time wisely? Is your home maintenance routine working for you? How would you rate your communication within your family unit?

This may be a good time to evaluate and shore up the everyday workings in your home or office. If you could wave a magic wand, what result would you command? Set that as your goal for these three months with a deadline of 24 November.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may find someone who is willing to lend you his/her expertise in exchange for your help with something you excel in.

My request to you: Did you write down your magic wand goal? List three actions that will bring you closer to that reality. What is one task that you can do now – with no preliminaries necessary? Put that on your calendar and keep the appointment with yourself. When that is done, choose another strategic (an immediately doable) task. Try for three per week and you will be amazed at the progress you make toward your ideal relationship/communication/surroundings!

You will feel victorious, vainglorious, and just plain glad that you did!

Beauty? Maybe. Function? Absolutely!

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

People ask me, “How do I know if I’m organized or not? Does my room need to look like a magazine layout?” No! The main goal in organizing (whether it’s an office, bedroom, or bathroom cabinet) is to be able to find what you need when you need it.

Each person’s solution will look different.  Personally, I am distracted by lots stuff lying about and will tend to hop from one pile to another with no real progress on anything.  I have to put away the things I am not working on right now.  Another person may work best with visual clues present at all times.  Thankfully, there are some really good tools for pilers these days.  The standard organizing principles still apply, with a few tweaks.  Here are three hints for starters.

1. Keep everyday use items close by.  Grooming items (shaving, make-up) will be in the front row in your bathroom.  The coffeemaker is on the counter only if you use it everyday.  Current work projects will have a priority spot in or on your desk (I prefer in, but be sure to contain if not, see #3!) The flip side of this principle is that you have permission to banish to some other side of your office or home those things that you only need on occasion.  Seasonal items, reference files, extra supplies… shall no longer take up prime real estate where you live and work everyday!

2.  Keep the same kinds of things together. Have fun with categories.  Office supplies can be sorted into: writing tools, adhesives (glue, staples, tape), mailing supplies, filing stuff, paper, etc.  Bathroom items can include products for hair, teeth, nails, skin/face, first aid, etc.

3.  Keep the “piles” contained. Once you have sorted, find containers that work for your space.  Whenever possible, use the same style containers to hold your different categories in a given area. This trick alone can fool your eye into seeing a pleasing order. Here is where the beauty comes in.  There are so many options for decorative containers these days! Target, Staples, The Container Store are all competing for your business.  Don’t forget to repurpose something you find beautiful to keep stuff contained in style.

When you get your area arranged, give yourself the 10 second challenge.  Close your eyes and think of one item you just put away using the three hints above.  Open your eyes and count to 10 as you search for it.  Find it before you said, “10″?  You found what you needed; you are organized.