Articles tagged with: Productive Enviromnent

When Tears Flow

What is behind the tears?

When Tears Flow

20 years ago, just after opening my business, I got a call from a prospective client. Before we started to work together, she asked me to meet her for lunch so we could discuss her needs. She was not willing to let me (or anyone) into her home until she knew we were a good fit to work together. We spent a couple hours talking about the process, my philosophy of organizing, and why she wanted to become more organized now.

Here is what I learned. She was organized at work where there were rules and structure, but she could not recreate this same order for her home life. She had friends at work, but could not invite them to her home for fear being judged for her the clutter and disorganization.

Her goal was to have a home where she could invite family and friends to visit, to relax, cook a meal to share, and to sleep in a furnished bedroom, not a mattress on the floor with piles and baskets of clothes all around.

When we finished lunch, she paid me for my time and scheduled an appointment the following week to begin the project.

It was a bright sunny July day, when we met at her home. I arrived with my toolkit in hand. The doorman announced my arrival, and the client met me in the lobby to take me to her unit. There was silence in the elevator as we passed floor after floor.

When we arrived on her floor, she walked hesitantly down the hall to her door. Once there, she stood silently in front of the door. Thinking she needed my help, I put my hand on the doorknob to open the door. Tears flowed down her cheeks. Standing there in the hallway, I knew the stuff was not the only issue.

Celebrating 20 Years at All Ways Organized

I am filled with gratitude

Celebrating 20 Years at All Ways Organized

Today is a very special day for me and for All Ways Organized. 20 years ago today, my organizing and productivity consulting journey began. I want to thank the mentors, clients, and colleagues who have been part of it all.

First, Barbara Hemphill, I have been a fan of Barbara since launching my business. She has been the most supportive mentor, walking with me every step of the way. We met at the NAPO (then the National Association of Professional Organizers, now the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals) Conference in 2006 in Boston.

I joined Barbara’s training program at the Productive Environment Institute and became certified in her methods and was the first to attain the Master’s Certification. Andrea Anderson, and her team at PEI are constantly working to refine the program and give immense value to the trainees and their clients. Andrea is always in my head, telling me to, “trust the system.” Great advice for us all.

In the fall of 2019, Barbara called to discuss collaborating on a book about email. I was all in. Barbara, known as the Paper Tiger Lady, wanted to show that the Productive Environment Systems could be for any organizing challenge, including the world of Email. I believed her when she said her methods would work for anything.

 

 

 

 

Marie Kondo, Ten Years of Tidying Up.

Do you feel the magic?

Marie Kondo, Ten Years of Tidying Up.

Ten years ago, Japan suffered a series of massive earthquakes leading to a 10-Meter tsunami. Kate Middleton married Prince William. Apple founder, Steve Jobs passed away at age 56, and Oprah Winfrey ended 25 years of sharing her wit and wisdom on the Oprah Winfrey Show. It hardly seems possible that all these events happened in 2011.

It was also ten years ago, Marie Kondo, the Japanese Tidying and Organizing expert, started “sparking joy” around the world with her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. The book was first published in Japan in 2011 titled Jinsei Ga Tokimeku Katazuke No Maho. That book introduced us to her signature program for “Tidying Up.”

We love those words, "Tidy Up" and "Magic". They are so enticing; they make the actual work of getting and staying organized seem easy and quick. At least that is how I feel when I think about “tidying up.” It seems the sessions will be no problem and will take only minutes to accomplish. She captured our hearts and minds, helping us to see a way out from our clutter and overwhelm.

I think we all hoped by some bit of magic, we would be joyful and clutter free, but in reality we knew from experience there would be hard work and tough decisions ahead.

The Secrets of Perfect Timing

If not now, when?

The Secrets of Perfect Timing

I recently revisited a book I read a couple years ago: When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink. He extensively studied the science of time. I learned there are times best suited to each task in our lives. You can stop guessing when to do things, and pick the best times to work, eat, sleep, have your coffee, and even quit your job. He stressed we are all different, we all have peak times every day, and they are predictable.

Daniel puts us all in one of three categories he calls types: Larks (morning people), Owls (night owls), their best work starts at 9PM, or Third Birds–this describes most of us who are neither Larks nor Owls.

Until now, in my practice, I referred to client types as happy morning people, afternoon aficionados, or midnight mavens.

Key take-aways:

We all have times of day that we are strongest at performing certain types of work (our circadian rhythms). Add to the rhythms your emotions. Did you know, our emotions run through cycles every day, and these cycles are the same every day. Matching our rhythms to our activities can really boost productivity.  

We need regular breaks and “Nappuccinos” (a very particular type of napping that involves having caffeine before a brief nap.) When you awaken, the caffeine will be active and available to boost your productivity.

Marie Kondo, what is new in 2021.

Will it "Spark Joy" for you?

Marie Kondo, what is new in 2021.

It was two years ago today that Barbara Hemphill and I had a discussion in the Productive Environment Network™ about Marie Kondo and the KonMari method. Yesterday in the mail, I received an ad from one of my favorite stores, The Container Store. Guess who has a new line of products at the Container Store? Yes, Marie Kondo.
Here are some of my thoughts

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.

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?

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.

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…

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.”

Clear Your Desktop in 7 Easy Steps

Clear the Clutter, Clear Your Mind!

Clear Your Desktop in 7 Easy Steps

1. Prepare yourself! Have a great breakfast, coffee, tea or whatever gets your day started in a fantastic way. Warm up your body and your mind: Take a walk, go to the gym, stretch, run, meditate, pray. Hydrate yourself, prep a water bottle to have with you as you work.
2. Dress in comfortable clothes. You do not want to give up because you feel like you cannot move, bend, and reach what you need.
3. Get rid of the strangers…clear out those things that do not belong in your office: empty coffee mugs, dirty dishes, empty cardboard packing boxes, bubble wrap, and any other strangers that need to be removed from your office.
4. Clear off the top of your desk. Put all the items in one pile and work from the top to the bottom of this pile to deal with all these items. Make sure the most recent items are on the top of the pile so your current work and most important follow up items will be taken care of first. Remember, Barbara Hemphill’s motto: Clutter is postponed decisions!
5. Now that the top of your desk is cleared off, it is a great time to give it a good cleaning. Your energy and the energy of your office will improve if you can see a clean, clear space to work.
6. Now you are ready to process the items in your pile.