January- A Time For Change

snowflake

So many of us view January as an opportunity for a fresh start.  We set goals, get re-focused, all determined to do this year what we just couldn’t do last year.

But before you jump right in, trying to make all these big changes, I recommend taking the time to answer some key questions about your life.  You see, sometimes we are too ambitious and try to initiate some really major changes in our lives so we can see some really major results.  Sorry to say though, that rarely ever works, at least not long-term.  Changing old habits is HARD which is why so few people follow through on their New Year’s Resolutions.  It’s a good idea to get very clear on why we need to make these positive life changes and then start with baby steps that take us in the right direction.   It may take a little longer but you will have a much better chance of reaching and  maintaining your goals:

What are the 3 biggest changes you would like to make in your life over the next year?

Why are these important to you?  To your family? To your career?

Describe in detail what the ideal you looks like, lives like and acts like.

What one thing has to happen for you to feel happy with your progress?

On a scale from 1-10 with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, how committed are you to reaching your goals?  (Anything less than a 7 means you are not ready to commit!)

What potential obstacles do you see that could hinder your success?

How will you handle these obstacle going forward so they do not stop your progress?

Try to focus on no more than 3 goals at a time then ask yourself, “What is ONE SMALL step I could take today that would help me start moving towards my goals?”   Then ask yourself that same question again tomorrow.  And the next day.  And the next day.  Then keep going until the day you can celebrate your success.  You may fail here and there but so what?  Just get back on track the next day and try again.  Success is not measured by how many times we fall down, but by how many times we get back up.  Wishing you success and happiness in 2017!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stress Busters for the Holidays and Beyond

christmas-candles

I saw this article from Matthew Kelly’s website (dynamiccatholic.com) and thought I’d share.  Who couldn’t use a little less stress this season?  Wishing you all the joys and happiness of Christmas and the New Year!

How do you manage stress?

Stress comes in many forms. It can be triggered by good and happy things like preparing for the holidays, a new job, getting married, the birth of a child, packing for vacation, or moving to a new home. And it can also be triggered by hardship and suffering like the death of a loved one, job loss, marital problems, illness, financial woes, unfulfilled dreams, and the list goes on. There are also the regular, everyday stresses that leave you feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, scattered, and aggravated.

Stress may be unavoidable, but it doesn’t have to run your life. Here are 8 simple tips that really work when managing stress, no matter how it comes.

1) Do less

Examine your life. Are you doing too much? Is there anything you can let go of—activities, commitments, plans, tasks? Taking things off your plate can be hard, but even if it’s just one thing your load will be lighter.

2) Prioritize your health

Food and exercise play a huge role in stress management. Remember to eat nutritiously dense foods, avoid refined sugars and processed food, cut down on caffeine, and drink plenty of good quality water. Combine this with regular cardio exercise. Make a point to exercise at least 3-4 times per week and get your heart rate up for 20-30 minutes each time. Whatever you can do to get yourself moving will help you cope better with daily stress—a daily walk, for example, can work wonders.

3) Find a sacred space

Whether it’s a corner in your home, a nearby church, or even a chair on your back porch, find a quiet spot that calms you and puts you in God’s presence. Commit to spending at least 10 minutes a day, or an hour every week if possible. Take this time to pray, journal, and reflect.

4) Breathe

When we experience stress, our breath becomes short, rapid, and erratic. The next time you feel overwhelmed or anxious, stop and breathe deeply. Take deep breaths of air in through your nose and out through your mouth, taking the air all the way into your diaphragm (imagine it’s going down into the pit of your stomach). Your heart rate will slow down, and you’ll feel better able to cope.

5) Pour some tea

If coffee is the great energizer, tea can be excellent for calming things down. Sipping a non-caffeinated herbal tea is a beneficial ritual before bedtime, or anytime of the day when you need to de-stress. Chamomile tea is known for its relaxing properties, and ginger tea quiets the stomach and reduces nausea. There are other soothing teas, as well.

6) Reach out and touch someone

Research shows that human touch brings down our heart rate and blood pressure. You may already be an affectionate person, but if you’re not, try it! Hug your family and friends more often, hold your significant other’s hand, cuddle with your kids more.

7) Work with your hands

Using your hands in a creative and often repetitive task is highly therapeutic; it takes you away from daily cares, and puts your mind in a restorative and relaxing state. Whether it’s painting, drawing, planting flowers, knitting, or stringing beads, you will feel calmer.

8) Play the music

It’s long been established that music affects our mood and thoughts, so it’s an effective way to manage stress. Listening to music can relax your mind and body, and lift your spirit—especially slow, classical music. Consider making a CD with calming music for the next time you need to de-stress.

So the next time you feel overwhelmed by something in your life, try some of these stress-busters. They will help you to better manage and cope with the inevitable stress that comes your way.

Hot Tips for Organizing a Cool Kitchen

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My favorite room to help my clients organize is the kitchen.  I can’t really explain why except that I enjoy the challenge.  So much happens in there besides eating and entertaining!   The kitchen can function as a satellite office, homework station, crafting area, and/or mudroom.  Unfortunately this is exactly why it can turn into complete chaos without the proper systems in place.  I’m often amazed at the money people will invest in a beautiful new kitchen only to have it buried beneath piles of clutter!

As the holidays approach and many of us step up our cooking and baking, now is a good time to take a critical look at how your kitchen is functioning for you.  Here are some tips to get you started:

  1.  Start with a big kitchen clean out.  Most people say they don’t have enough storage space in their kitchen.  Unfortunately, their kitchens are storing many items they aren’t using on a regular basis.  Go through EVERY cupboard, drawer, nook and cranny and take a good look at what you have in there.  If anything is duplicated, damaged or rarely used either toss it, give it away or store it someplace else.
  2. Be honest with yourself.  Are you a gourmet chef or a take-out regular?  Your space needs to reflect who you ARE not who you think you should be.  Stock accordingly.
  3. Gather like with like.  Keep all of the supplies for a particular activity near where that activity will be taking place.  This will save you time when engaged in that activity and will make putting things away much easier.
  4. Ease of storage.  Can you get to what you need quickly in your cabinets?  Do you reach for one thing and other things fall out?  Do you know what’s in the way back?  If space is an issue, consider using the backs of doors for storage or mounting baskets on the walls.  What about hanging a pot rack from the ceiling or using free-standing shelf dividers inside a large cupboard space?  Lazy Susan’s can help inside a corner cabinet and smaller bins or baskets can help to coral smaller items on a shelf.
  5. Cleaner countertops.  There should be nothing on your countertop that you use less than once per week.  Clean countertops create clean lines in the  kitchen.
  6. Since most of us enter and exit through our kitchens having a “landing/launching pad” is helpful.  Create a space where you can put your keys, wallet, bag and mail to sort or send and you’ll have a much easier time getting out of the house quickly.
  7. Dedicate a basket to those strange little items that always seem to end up in the kitchen – things to be repaired or glued, parts to who-knows-what, items that belong to someone outside the family, etc.
  8. Maintain.  No matter how good your systems are, no kitchen will ever maintain itself.  It’s important to do a daily or at least weekly sweep of the space in order to address the papers and paraphernalia that find their way in.  Clutter builds up very quickly in the kitchen.  By spending a little time maintaining the space you will create a kitchen that works for you, your family  and your lifestyle.

 

Time Vampires

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In your quest to become better organized, the ability to manage your time effectively is critical to your success.  In a recent article by Nathalie Gahrmann on MomMD, she lists the top 10 time wasters, aka “time vampires”, that trip people up most frequently.  In it she states, “Your attitudes and behaviors affect how you use your time. By substituting what’s not working for you with a more effective behavior and/or attitude you’re on the road to managing your time.”  And becoming better organized overall!

1. INTERRUPTIONS/DISTRACTIONS
If you have a constant stream of well-intentioned colleagues, subordinates and/or family members interrupting your concentration and focus, stop them by communicating when it’s okay to interrupt and when it’s clearly not.  It’s ok to be unavailable sometimes!

2. POOR PLANNING.
Planning is so critical when you want to accomplish something. Planning in advance provides direction before proceeding toward a goal.

3. PERFECTIONISM
Although perfectionism is a behavior it’s also an attitude. By striving toward progress rather than perfection, you will free up a lot of your time and energy.

4. PROCRASTINATION
Like perfectionism, procrastination also is both a behavior and an attitude. Waiting until the last minute or otherwise putting things off tends to create a crisis or problems that may not otherwise exist. In addition, by not doing something you’re procrastinating about, you also end up wasting considerable time worrying about how much you’re procrastinating. Just do it.

5. TRYING TO DO EVERYTHING YOURSELF
Taking on the world all by yourself will not serve you or the people around you. Learn to say “no” and to delegate tasks others can do for you (even if it’s not up to your standards).

6. TAKING ON TOO MUCH.
Biting off more than you can chew is a prime example of taking on too much. Not having strong clearly communicated boundaries is another example. You do not need to volunteer to be on every project, organization, taskforce, association, etc.

7. CRISIS MANAGEMENT
A crisis is an unforeseen emergency. By planning and asking yourself whether or not something is truly urgent, what will happen if it’s not handled immediately, you will eliminate a great deal of this fire fighting behavior. Remember the old adage, “haste makes waste”.

8. TOO MUCH SOCIALIZING
Although we all love to have friends and enjoy our relationships, by allowing yourself too much freedom in this area you’ll wind up spending a large percentage of your ‘work’ time socializing and will be pressing to meet deadlines.

9. NOT VALUING YOUR OWN TIME.
Others will not respect or value your time if you don’t send the message that your time is important. Watch your actions, behaviors and commitments–are they communicating the right message?

10. LACK OF SKILLS
Organizing, prioritizing, decision-making and problem solving skills are all critical in supporting effective use of time. Strengthen these skills and you’ll see a remarkable difference in how you use your time.

September-An Opportunity to Change Things Up

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I’ve always looked at September similar to the way I look at January.  Like the new year, September is  an opportunity to regroup, reorganize, and re-prioritize after enjoying the laid back lifestyle of summer.

If you have kids, getting them back on a schedule and filling in the calendar with all of their activities is a big part of September.  This year though take a careful look at what you are filling their time and your calendar with.  We often get frustrated as parents when our time is so over-booked that we feel spent and overwhelmed at the end of each day.  Balance out how many activities per child you can handle realistically.  It’s great that we want our kids to experience lots of different activities as they grow but that loses it’s appeal when all they have left at the end of their day is an irritated, exhausted parent.

If you don’t have young children September is still a great opportunity to look at how you too are spending your time.  If you have a full or part time position, your free time is very limited.  Time management is not about doing more each day, but about doing more of what you WANT to do each day.  If something is important to you and you consistently push it aside to handle whatever pops up for you each week, you WILL experience some level of dissatisfaction with your life.  I encourage clients to list 2 or 3 things they really want in their life that they haven’t made time for and start scheduling these activities in their calendar.  It could be a class they’ve always wanted to take, it could be a hobby they’d given up but really miss or it may even be a renewed commitment to their health.  Take one step towards that goal  and commit it to your calendar.  If your have several goals, start with just 1 or 2.  Commit to too many and you will likely fail.

Do something different for yourself this September and make the second half of 2016 an opportunity to experience some rewarding personal success.  If you would like more information on time-management coaching please contact Susan directly.

Getting your kids organized

organized toys

If you have small children, you know firsthand how difficult it can be getting them to pick up after themselves.  Kids want to move on to the next fun thing, they are easily distracted, and really can’t embrace the benefits of the whole clean up thing.  Yes, it can be challenging but if you start working with them early on, you will be teaching them skills they’ll have for a lifetime.  Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1.  Kids as young as 2 can help with cleaning up!  Of course at this age mom or dad’s participation is mandatory.  Keep it fun by making it a game and keep it short to maintain interest.  This is just a start, not a full-blown organizing session!
  2. Expect to participate for a while!  If you expect a cleaned up playroom be prepared to lead the team.  When kids are done playing for the day, help them put their things away.  You will teach them the value of taking care of things that matter to them and make it easier for them to find what they’re looking for the next time they’re playing.
  3. Keep their organizing systems super simple!  Use the kindergarten classroom model by dividing their space and their things by activity.  Have a dress up box or area, a coloring/craft area, doll or truck area, game area etc.  This way, the child knows where she can do what AND where those toys go when she’s done playing.
  4. Don’t put out every single toy the child has and you’ll have less to clean up!  A child can get easily overwhelmed when his space is cluttered with every toy imaginable.  It always amazes parents after I’ve organized a playroom and moved everything around how their child will play with something he hasn’t used in a long time.  It all looks new to them AND they can actually see what they have.  It’s not all jumbled up.  Our kids have more toys than ever today.  Hold some back!  Keep a couple of toy bins aside.  These may contain some birthday or Christmas gifts since generous family members give more than the child can even remember.  They can be also used to hold toys he hasn’t played with in a while.  On a miserable rainy or snowy or scorching hot day, a bin full of toys he hasn’t seen will be a blessing – for both of you!
  5. Be consistent with your clean up rules!  YOU are the role model, YOU set the example.  Don’t expect your kids to do what you yourself are not willing to do.  It takes time, patience, and work and yes sometimes it IS much easier to just do it yourself.  But do your kids a favor and teach them the benefits of being organized.  These are life skills that will serve them well in the future.

 

Top 5 reasons you won’t let me help you get organized

When I tell people what I do the response is often, “Oh!!  I could use you!”  Some people hire me and some do not, but like I said before, I want to help more people.   As a part of that effort, I’d like to address the most common reasons for not investing in some help to see if I can’t change your mind:)

Fear of being embarrassed  – many people are painfully ashamed about the condition of their homes or offices.  They see it as failure on their part and aren’t ready to openly share that failure with someone.

My response: I NEVER judge so forget about it!  Not everyone was taught the skills needed to become organized and not every brain-type operates in an organized, linear fashion.  There is always a story behind the disorganization and together we work through it all.  Our client agreement also assures that any and all client information remains strictly confidential.

Fear that being organized won’t last: It will just get disorganized again since you’ve always been disorganized.

My response:  I can’t promise you will stay organized forever.  Life doesn’t stop, things will continue to come in to your life.  BUT there are skills that can be learned and habits that can be formed and we discuss those throughout the entire process.  You also have the option to continue our relationship through coaching in order to help you stay on track.

Fear of letting things go:  You have images of me forcing you to throw everything away!

My response:  We talk about what you are keeping and what those things mean to you.  If something is important to you it stays – period.  We just figure out the best way to store it.

Fear you just don’t have the time to work together:  You’re already stretched for time and getting organized  just won’t fit into your calendar.

My response:  I totally get how busy everyone is.  Unfortunately your disorganization is having a ripple effect on your personal and/or professional life, causing an array of problems which in the end is eating your time anyway.

Fear it’s just too expensive:  Paying someone to help you deal with all your stuff seems like a luxury.

My response:  We spend money on so many things we don’t really need.  Consider the price of disorganization:  increased stress, increased anxiety, decreased productivity, decreased peace of mind.  PLUS my rates are at a 10 year low, half of what I normally charge!!

Stop being afraid and get some help.  Click here to see what my clients are saying.  I’m really quite nice, I promise!

 

 

Thinking about moving in the new year?

moving day

The new year is a time of reflection for most of us.  We think about where’ve we been, where we are and where we’d like our lives to go.  For some who have decided on a new direction, it could mean moving to a new town and/or into a different home.   This could be the result of a new job, the need to downsize, or the desire to try something new.  As exciting as this transition may be,  it can be equally stressful and complicated.

The following is a list of move-related services we offer in order to help clients throughout the moving process:

Downsizing: For the client looking to move into a smaller space, together we determine what will be kept and what will need to be removed. This sometimes difficult transition is made less overwhelming as the process of dispensing items through donation, disposal, and/or sale is managed for the client.

Preparing the home for a move: A home that is well-organized and clutter free will often sell more quickly and at a better price than one that is not. Also, why pack what you really don’t need? Investing in your home prior to putting it on the market can result in significant financial gains.

Moving In: Getting your home set up once the move has taken place can be a daunting task. Services will focus on high-priority areas to keep life flowing smoothly in what is often a disruptive time.

Moving is not an easy task.  If you or someone you know is thinking about moving and may be interested in the above services, please contact Susan directly.

 

#GivingTuesday

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I want to help more people. I want to help not just the people who are wealthy enough to afford me but the people who really need my help. People for whom sickness has caused a disruption in their home, moms who are recently divorced and overwhelmed, families of children with disabilities who face a whole host of challenges, the single person struggling to improve her lifestyle and the professional trying to do her best at work. That was my goal from the very beginning. As human beings we are all given special gifts and talents that we are encouraged to share as often as we can with others. I AM an organizer and coach – I can’t help it! And I love it:)

For this reason I have decided to offer my services at a rate that’s 10 years old. That rate is $45 per hour. I will run this offer from December through March then re-evaluate for the second quarter of the year.

This is my gift to you. My hope is that we can work together to bring you and your families peace in the New Year. If you know of someone who could use some help, please forward this along:)

Wishing you all the blessings of the holiday season!

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

~Winston Churchill~