All Ways Organized Blog

What my hiking shoes taught me about productivity.

Ten things to remember.

What my hiking shoes taught me about productivity.

I got new hiking shoes for a trip to Colorado and Utah in 2015, we had no idea where they would take us.
Our first adventure with these shoes was to Denver, Boulder, Aspen, all five National Parks in Utah, Kodachrome Basin State Park, Escalante National Monument, Deadhorse State Park and Las Vegas. It filled us with awe, enjoying views we had never experienced here in New England.

A year later these shoes took us to OR, WA and HI. On this trip we hiked in forests and saw the pacific ocean as never before. We crossed the Kilauea Iki Crater in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, just as Kilauea was becoming more active a few miles away.

Closer to home they traveled to wonderful places in the White Mountains, Cadillac Mountain at Acadia National Park in Maine, for sunrise and sunset and more.

These shoes are trusted friends I fell in love with the first moment I put them on. Comfortable, sturdy, dependable and ready when adventure calls.

So why am I writing about these shoes today?

In the past few months, since Covid 19, they have supported my journey differently.

 

September is National Preparedness Month

Now is a good time to update your plan.

September is National Preparedness Month

Seems like 2020 did not want to wait for September for us to think about preparing for disaster.
Prepared or not 2020 hit like a freight train with no brakes. We careen from one disaster to another. The flu, COVID-19, floods, fires, landslides, hurricanes, tornados, volcanic eruptions, civil unrest, racism, economic distress, Midwest derecho, humanitarian crises. The disasters just keep coming.
No one needs to tell any of us this year that we need to be prepared for a whole host of things. Many of you will have already gone through your plans and updated everything, but one thing I know for sure is, right now, things change quickly. What felt like the right plan today, may need to change tomorrow.
Illness, natural disasters, accidents all happen everyday all over the world. I am reminded by Ready.gov every September to think about updating my plans. Maybe you do too. If this is you,think about what you need if you had to evacuate your home NOW. Preparing so you can collect to these things quickly and get to safety is key.

The big productivity killer in your vocabulary.

Stop shoulding and start doing.

The big productivity killer in your vocabulary.

What should I do?

This question often leads to a discussion of what is “best”, and where can I find the perfect tool?
You want to do the right thing, the best thing, the thing that will make someone else proud. How does it make you feel when you ask yourself, what should I do? When you ask what should I do, does it lead you to do something or not?

Psychologist Clayton Barbeau coined the term, “shoulding yourself” referring to the intense pressure to do something in a certain way based on what we think we “should do.” The word should causes you to do one of two things, you freeze unable to move forward or you run away and avoid the work altogether. Either way, you are not doing the work. When I work with clients, I see some big emotions attached to shoulding yourself, like fear, guilt, and shame. Fear of the consequences for not completing the task; guilt for falling behind; and shame for not asking for help in the beginning when you knew you needed help.

It is all about time

Have you checked your time lately?

It is all about time

What are YOU waiting for?
I love the Nickelback song, What Are You Waiting For. The song asks the questions: are you waiting for lightning to strike, a perfect night, or for the time to be right? It encourages us to take the wheel and steer, to learn to deal with the fear, and not wait another minute to give it your all. We need to take the leap of faith, believe in our dreams, and not be afraid to fall.
Do you have a dream that is just a dream, or do you have a dream you are working to make a reality? If it is just a dream, ask yourself why?
If I were to take a guess, you are waiting for someone else to tell you it is a great idea. In reality, the only person who can take you from dream to reality is you.
Often, I hear clients talk about time as an obstacle to realizing their dreams. So let’s get clear about what time is and is not.

Got the Monday Morning Blahs 2.0

7 Ways to Conquer the Overwhelm

Got the Monday Morning Blahs 2.0

 Today, I am sharing an update to a Blog Post from early 2019. We are facing some new challenges, and others have just changed location. The good news is, we can still take action and improve our work day.

Do you wake up every Monday feeling dread about returning to work? Well, you are not alone. Why do Mondays cause so much pain? We spend the entire weekend trying to catch our breath from the week before. In our current Covid "new normal" it can be even more challenging.

During our weekends, and maybe even weekdays in our Covid 19 world, we stay up late, sleep in, perhaps drink too much, or eat foods that are high in fat and sugar that sap our energy.

I get it. On the weekends you want to spend the “quality” time you lack Monday through Friday. You spend your work week in virtual meetings all day,and you are suffering Zoom Fatigue, back and neck pain, and eye strain. You are constantly redirecting the kids. You stay up late to work, so you can have peace and quiet, because your family needs you during the day like never before. You struggle to give them something, but you have little left.

On the weekends it is a mad sprint to fit in everything you want to do for and with your loved ones before it all starts again.
How many of you are working all weekend because you are trying to make the whole work from home, take care of the kids all day, fear of the unknown world work? How in the world can you have a great Monday when you are so out of sync with your Monday – Friday world?

Now let’s back up to last week.

How did you leave your workspace Friday afternoon?
Is your workspace piled high with things that belong elsewhere?
Are you a vagabond, moving your office on and off the dining room table every day?

Have you checked your Spam Label in Gmail Lately?

You might be surprised by what you find there!

Have you noticed that email you want is suddenly going to the Spam Label in Gmail? Algorithms are constantly changing, and recently I noticed something you may want to check in your Gmail accounts. I found 195 messages in spam in my primary Gmail account. YIKES! When I opened the Spam Label to look at them, 194 of the 195 were NOT spam. That is a lot of emails going to the wrong label. So, what are we to do here? Here are some easy things you can do today!

The real costs of disorganization.

Have you ever thought about what your disorganization is costing you?

The real costs of disorganization.

Have you ever thought about what your disorganization is costing you? Well, here are 10 examples to get you thinking.

1. Lost Receipts: Not being able to return a purchase because you can't find the receipt means money down the drain.

2. Uncashed checks and lost gift cards: Rebates, tax returns, gifts and other uncashed checks that have expired often cannot be reclaimed. Did you hide them to keep them safe and now you can't remember where they are? I once found a check for $262,000.00 that the client lost in the process of buying and selling a home. What a nightmare! I had another client put gift certificates and money in the books above her desk. She did not realize the extent of what was there, and some of the stores were out of business. Money lost...

GPS, The Small Stuff, and Getting Back on Track

GPS, The Small Stuff, and Getting Back on Track

A short time ago, we were returning from a trip, in my car, at O’dark 30 AM, when the dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree. There were warning lights that I had never seen before and there were a lot of them…Check engine was among them…YIKES! So, there we were on the highway, going along with traffic, it was raining, the road was rough, and we had no map other than the little tiny GPS screen on my phone.

Calling for help, meant we needed to know our location. Google tried to help, but there was no street address, and drilling down a location took a bit of expanding the map and trying to find helpful details. In the “olden days”, I would have a route planned on my paper map that would have revealed most of the information I needed at a glance. The big picture here was important. Calling the 24-hour roadside assist that came with the car led to a discussion with an operator in Tennessee. Her reply was; “looks like you have got a big problem there” …Ok, FINE! I thought the check engine light established that fact, but I digress.

We did eventually find our location (hey it was a stressful event; we were a little freaked out!) and a plan for tow was arranged. Time passed and no one called with details about when help might come. We decided we were ready to move to plan B, call the local dealer and see if they could help.

Next up was finding a dealer to help us with the car. OK, 7 miles away…Should we chance it and just drive there? Should we wait?  What should we do?

Ever wondered if Productivity Consultants get disorganized?

10 Ways I Might Be Just Like You

Ever wondered if Productivity Consultants get disorganized?

When I meet new people, and they find out I am a Professional Organizer/Productivity Consultant, they will often stop in their tracks and tell me how much they need me at their home or in their offices. Then, they ask about my home or my office. They want to know if my home or office is immaculate, if I have everything put away, or if I always know where everything is. I often laugh to myself wondering if I have some superhero power that I do not know about.

Always and immaculate are some strong terms. How about this - sometimes my home and office are just how I like them, other times they need work. Life happens, we travel, we get home late, something unexpected comes up, and bad things happen.

Perfection is a productivity killer. I choose to: clean up, tidy up, straighten up, put things back where they belong, or whatever terms you use to describe this task on a routine basis, but the key is an underlying system to use when things get out of control.

So, today I want to share some of the things some of the things you may have wondered about me in my life as a productivity trainer and professional organizer. Why am I sharing this with you? Because, we are all in the same boat. We all get busy, we all have last minute interruptions, we all have days we are just too tired to put everything away…Don’t worry, with the right training and systems you can decide to get your home or office back in shape when you are ready.

Time for a nice long vacation?

Why you really need to take one!

Time for a nice long vacation?

It has been a couple of years since I wrote about vacation and productivity. The first time I wrote about it , I had just come to the realization that I had never in my working life taken a two week vacation I saw so many friends struggling with chronic illnesses and aging family members and I realized right now is all we have. Life is not a dress rehearsal! Today is your chance to live the life of your dreams.
Here are the facts I reported, when I initially wrote about vacation and productivity:

The remedy to your digital distress lies in the analog life.

The remedy to your digital distress lies in the analog life.

We are all so busy with our computers, smart phones, tablets, and smart home devices with their personal assistants. It got me wondering if in the quest for digital nirvana that we might be missing something IRL. (in Real Life). You may all know about my word of the year (intention) and my desire to live more simply with less. On my journey to less, I have begun working on a template for a course on designing your digital life. (I will share my thoughts on that in another post.)

One important component of my digital life design is to be sure it includes analog time. I think of computer related things as digital and human beings as analog.

OK, so you may be shaking your heads wondering what has become of me and that surely I must be losing my mind. Well, I may be losing my mind, but this would not be the reason…

Living With Less. What Really Matters?

Living With Less. What Really Matters?

Have you ever thought of living with less? Have you ever wished you could do more of the things you love? How is this even possible with the demands of our busy lives?
Let’s begin with the way 2019 started for me. I chose a word to guide my efforts this year. That word is intention. The choices I make must serve my intention, which is to live more simply with less.
Why is this coming up now? Well, I am getting older, I have been acquiring for years and it is now time to live in a different way. Relatives and friends have become ill or disabled. People close to me have died.
I have felt the weight of helping others declutter. Often decluttering is to get rid of things that have been kept because of the guilt and shame they have been bathed in. It belonged to Great Aunt Bethany… it cost a lot of money… it is very valuable…what if they found out you got rid of it? I would like to think that I have not given gifts with the intention that they must be kept forever. I want the recipient to enjoy the gift. If they do not it is OK to let it go. All I want is for them to be happy.
I have come to understand that the younger generations do not want our stuff (much of it anyway), and I have too much stuff. I have also come to realize that the things we have been told are valuable, may or may not be. There is a cost to keeping everything, your job is to decide if you are willing to pay the cost: time, space, energy, and money.
Being a professional organizer, I can tell you that this is not only true for me, but also in the experience of many of my colleagues around the country. The NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals) discussion boards frequently visit this topic. What to do with all these “valuable” artifacts of lives well lived. In truth, many in the younger generations are choosing life experiences over stuff. Living more simply and experiencing more of the world around them is perfect. The things that they do buy are not too expensive and can be changed when they are worn or outdated without a boatload of guilt.

Even in this digital age we all must deal with some paper. How do you keep yours, and does it matter?

Four great questions to ask about how you manage you paper.

Even in this digital age we all must deal with some paper. How do you keep yours, and does it matter?

I once shared an office with a therapist whose style of organizing was different from mine. We shared the caseload of an adult/adolescent psychiatric unit. In our work, we used lots of forms and handouts. While our organizing and paper management philosophies were different, they were both effective. She was a classic "piler." She kept her important papers in a large pile on top of the desk. She could go to the pile of paper on the desk and find the form she needed…in seconds. That paper pile was “her system.” Some of our colleagues saw these piles and felt they looked disorganized and messy. Did the pile hold her back? Could she find what she needed in seconds? Yes, she could find what she needed, when she needed it.
Now, what about my system?

Got the Monday Morning Blahs? 7 Ways to Conquer the Overwhelm.

Got the Monday Morning Blahs?  7 Ways to Conquer the Overwhelm.


Do you wake up on Monday feeling an acute sense of loss and a feeling of dread about returning to work?
Well, you are not alone. Why do Mondays cause so much pain? We spend the entire weekend trying to catch our breath from the week before. During our weekends, we stay up late, sleep in, perhaps drink too much or eat all the delicious foods that are high in fat and sugar that sap our energy. I get it. You want to spend the “quality” time you lack Monday through Friday. You spend your work week running all day, you come home tired, your family needs you, and you struggle to give them all you have left. On the weekends it is a mad sprint to fit in everything you want to do for and with your loved ones before it all starts again.
How in the world can you have a great Monday when you are so out of sync with your Monday – Friday world? Now let’s back up to last week. How did you leave your workplace on Friday afternoon? Is your desk piled high with things that belong elsewhere? Do you know where they came from, or where to return them to? Did you note specific times on your calendar to follow up on all the items that are on your desk? Do you even know where your calendar is? What are your highest priorities for next week? Are they on your calendar (I am sure you know my feeling that a blank calendar is a sign of not much getting done)? Is your inbox overflowing? Are you afraid there are urgent and uncompleted tasks in your inbox? Do you have systems you follow that help you do your job? Meetings on a certain day, blocking off some Focus Time during the work week to dedicate to the highest value work you have? I have found that even the most disorganized clients have some strengths they can build on.

Is There an App for That? Here Are Some Questions to Ask First.

Is There an App for That?  Here Are Some Questions to Ask First.

“So, is there an app for that?”
Most likely the answer is yes, there are hundreds of tools that will all “do” what you are looking for: tasks, calendars, to-do, scanning, notetaking, photo editing and many other things. If you are like some of my clients, you can open the app store on your phone in seconds, and find all the apps that do, “that thing you want” just as quickly.
When I am asked this question, I ask, why? Why do you need another app? Maybe this is the perfect question, but often the better question to ask first is: “What tools do you already have that do the same thing.”

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