Posted in Goal Setting, Home Office Organizing, Home Organizing, Learning, Office Organizing, Planning, Procrastination, Small Business, Time Management, Training, Uncategorized, Wellbeing, tagged balance, Change, Clutter Free, Control, Home Office, Organizing, Paper, Piles, Planning, Procrastination, productivity, Small Business, Time Management, Training on June 26, 2011 |
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I am fascinated by how the concept of ‘good enough’ relates to being organized and our many attempts to be what we perceive as ‘well organized’. What does being organized mean to you? Most likely not the same as it does to your spouse, your best friend or your children.
What if, instead of constantly striving to be more organized, better organized or even, heaven forbid, perfectly organized we strove for ‘good enough’. According to Sarah Hampson the author of an article entitled, The Secret to happiness? Live a ‘good enough’ life, “. . . when you don’t expect much, when you manage the ideas of what you think your life should be, you can be pleasantly surprised – and grateful – for the good fortune that comes your way.”
Somehow this sounds like lowering expectations, reducing the standards of what is acceptable and seems to me like settling for mediocrity. Not acceptable to someone like me who is a recovering perfectionist and still battling with doing my ‘best’ instead of striving for ‘perfect’. So, the concept of good enough doesn’t sit well with me but I know for many of you it might be just what you need.
If your kitchen drawers are organized so that you can find what you need but you don’t have those fancy dividers that you saw in a friends kitchen that might just be good enough? If your clothes are all hanging up but not on matching hangers is that good enough? If your papers are all off the floor and in tidy piles on your desk where you can put your fingers on what you need that might just be good enough. If your email inbox is down to 50 messages, instead of 500, maybe that is good enough?
I like the idea of good enough as opposed to perfectly organized as it does allow us to lower our expectations of what organized means and move towards a level of organization that is achievable. I think this concept is especially important for those who don’t like to spend their time organizing or find it difficult to know when to stop organizing.
What we see in magazines and on television is often not realistic and perhaps that is where some of our expectations of perfectly organized come from? Have you ever noticed the desk in the corner of the living room on a makeover show with a computer on it but not a single cord in sight nor a stitch of paper – no matter how organized we are our space will never look like that so perhaps lowering our expectations is exactly what the doctor ordered!
Everything in life seems to come back to deciding what matters most. As long as your home and office are organized ‘enough’ so that you can function effectively and enjoy your space, forget about what others may think and go with what works for you. I think the summer is the perfect time to try some ‘good enough’ thinking – at least for you my dear readers even if not for me!
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Most time management experts agree that many of us get to the end of a week and wonder where it’s gone and why we haven’t accomplished anything significant. Each and every time I work with a client to teach them the planning process, I realize I could do a better job of it myself.
Why is it that we put off planning even though we know that the most successful businesses and individuals dedicate time to planning weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually without fail?
In my experience working with dozens of clients on becoming more effective and figuring out how to get the ‘right’ things done we discover that no planning takes place each week therefore the important activities slip through the cracks in favour of the urgent activities or the priorities thrust upon us by others.
So, here’s what you might want to do to start to ensure that important activities and projects are on your radar and that you delegate more effectively:
- Block 1 to 2 hours with yourself in your calendar every Friday afternoon
- Start the weekly planning process by going back over the current week and looking for any promises you made to others. Note them on your ‘To Do’ list or in your calendar
- Look forward to the coming week and do the same
- Go through each item on your ‘To Do’ list and decide which ones you will do this week and which ones someone else could do for you
- Go over all of the other major projects on your plate and block time with yourself to move them forward
Do this faithfully every single week and you will become more productive.
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Posted in Planning, Procrastination, Training, tagged Continuing Education, Organizing, Planning, Procrastination, productivity, Time Management, Training on May 30, 2011 |
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A couple of weeks ago I travelled to Moncton to deliver a workshop on Overcoming Procrastination at the IAAP Atlantic Conference for a group of over 80 very enthusiastic women. Wow, it was good fun and we had some interesting discussion about procrastination and why we do it.
We brought up the topic of laziness – is procrastination laziness? Some people thought that sometimes it was laziness but most of the time not so much. It seems to go much deeper than that in a lot of instances.
Is procrastination due to perfectionism? In many cases it may very well be. We often wait for the perfect conditions, saying to ourselves, “I’ll do this when …” or “I can’t do this until …”. However, as the quote says, “Opportunities are easily lost while waiting for the perfect conditions.” (Gary Ryan Blair).
I have this article that I cut from The Globe and Mail several months ago which I pulled out in preparing for the workshop. It’s all about perfectionism and procrastination and how they may or may not be linked. According to the article perhaps it is not about perfectionism even though studies show that it is. Apparently perfectionists who procrastinate are more likely to seek help from therapists so they turn up in research numbers more often. Gee whiz, I needed therapy for that, who knew! If you are a perfectionist you feel worse about putting things off and therefore seek help to overcome it.
Hmmm . . . being a recovering perfectionist myself I still think that I wait for the perfect conditions to start or finish certain things and somehow they always get done before the deadline, always. Perhaps that’s my perfectionist standards or just the nature of the expectations of others that Professional Organizers always do everything ahead of schedule – how’s that for a little added pressure!
The article goes on to postulate that procrastination is, in fact, a result of impulsiveness. Say what? Impulsive people (you can tell I’m not one) live impatiently in the present moment and want everything right now. Showing self-control or delaying gratification is difficult for impulsive people. So, anxiety over a deadline leads directly to procrastination. And impulsiveness, they say, causes disorganized procrastinators who are mighty distractible. Impulsive people find it difficult to plan work ahead of time which leads to a lot of late nights just before the project deadline.
Wow, pretty complicated stuff, don’t you think?
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It occurs to me this week that having a nasty cold brings home the necessity for having time ‘buffers’ built into your schedule because you never know what might throw your careful plans off the rails. Like getting sick, for example.
I often encourage my clients to start projects well in advance of their completion due date simply because there is no better feeling than having something finished a little bit early. And it gives you the opportunity for a few last minute ‘tweaks’. I hadn’t really thought of doing this in order to plan for the unexpected as well. We always allow ‘open’ time in the weekly plan for those things you don’t know about but are invariably going to drop into your world demanding to be done in a rush.
How much time should you allow as an additional ‘buffer’? I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. Out of a 5-day week should you build in an extra day? Seems reasonable enough. If, heaven forbid, you get everything you planned to do completed (never happens to me but I suppose it could) then you’ve likely got more ‘To Do’s’ on your list that you can get started on.
Once every couple of months I have the chance to actually get a little ahead on the ‘To Do’ list which automatically creates a bit of a ‘buffer’. Some items that were on my list for two weeks out may get done this week thereby clearing some space for the unexpected or that nasty bug!
And when I’m creating my schedule for the coming week I try to leave at least a 1/2 day with nothing planned. Every single time someone or something comes along and fills up that ‘open’ slot, never fails. So, if I didn’t have that what would I have done? Likely I would have jammed my schedule to overflowing and then stressed myself out because I took on too much. Sound familiar?
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Posted in Goal Setting, Learning, Planning, Time Management, tagged Annual Planning, Change, Continuing Education, Employees, Grow Your Business, Money, Organizing, Planning, productivity, Profit, Time Management on February 6, 2011 |
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Last weekend I attended a retreat with a business group I belong to. We were very fortunate to have a session facilitated by Jol Hunter from Grant Thornton.
The most meaningful part of the 24 hours we spent together was something all of us as business owners want to know about and that is how to grow our business and make more money.
Jol identified 4 essential elements to making more money:
- Know Your Business
- Know Its Value Creation
- Involve Your People
- Be Disciplined in Execution
Here are the key points to consider in order to be certain we are on top of the 4 keys above.
- Know the formula for making money in your business. For example, in a service based business that might be ((# of hours x hourly rate)-expenses)/# of employees = profit/employee
- Work the formula relentlessly
- Have a plan to improve the current performance of the formula. For example, will reducing expenses have a positive impact on the profit per employee?
- Have a plan to make the formula produce more tomorrow. What should the formula look like in 2 or 3 years? More hours? Higher hourly rate?
- Execute on your plan
- Know where the value is created in your business. What is your distinctive advantage? Why do people buy from you?
- Work deliberately to increase your value-creating ability. Enhance the reason people buy from you
- Ask your people how they would score your business. There are several key questions to ask including – Do I know what is expected of me at work? Do I have the opportunity to do my best every day? Do I receive recognition regularly for doing good work? Do my opinions seem to count? (Wow, my last employer had it all wrong – no wonder I started my own business!)
- Ask yourself, on a scale of 1 to 10, how organized are you? (this point was music to my ears!)
- Have you analyzed how you spend your time? (Yes, I have – whew!)
- Is it time to bring on more support so you can truly spend time on the important things that will ensure you grow your business and make more money? (Yes, it is!)
And, after we’ve done all of the above, Jol says we need to ask ourselves, “How can I make sure my business is ready for the future”?
Holy cow, don’t know about you, but I’ve got a lot of work to do!
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Posted in Record Keeping, Time Management, Uncategorized, tagged Blackberry, Calendar, Change, Organizing, Paper, Paper-Based, Planner, Planning, productivity, Time Management on January 23, 2011 |
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I think I’m in ‘like’ with my new Blackberry Style but not yet in ‘love’ with it. Wow, do I have a whole new understanding for what many of my clients have gone through over the last few years as we switch from a paper planner to these wonderful electronic devices. I am suffering from ‘paper calendar withdrawal’ symptoms – who knew it would be so difficult.
I suppose I should lay blame with the Tony at Priority Management who taught me oh so well to be totally reliant on my paper system back in 1993 – eeks, that’s a long time ago, no wonder I’m having such a hard time. Now I understand why so many people have an electronic and a paper calendar system – it’s hard to teach yourself not to automatically go for the paper planner and open it up to glance at that big monthly calendar and the weekly To Do’s all nicely organized by day.
So, the first two weeks I had my Blackberry, you guessed it, I kept the paper planner too and spent an inordinate amount of time entering all my appointments and tasks in both places. Oh boy, that did not make me a happy girl. There is nothing I hate more than wasting time getting myself organized. I’m all about quick and simple when it comes to keeping track of where I have to be and what I have to do when. So I tried entering everything in my computer (which syncs beautifully with my BB by the way) and then printing out my calendar and tasks.
Suddenly I realized what I was doing – why on earth was I wasting trees printing all the information that was already in two places – my computer calendar and my Blackberry? It was difficult to explain the compulsion that drove me to keep looking for these things in my planner. I suppose it has been almost like an extension of my body for over 15 years. I never went anywhere without it, ever. Well, maybe on the weekends when I wasn’t working I left it in my office.
I am pleased to report that I am gradually weaning myself off my paper planner but I’m telling you it certainly isn’t easy. I still have to carry around client files and reference information during the week so my plan is to purchase a new binder to carry those items in so I can finally free myself once and for all from a paper-based organizing system. Fingers crossed that it all works more efficiently and effectively in the end.
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Posted in Goal Setting, Planning, Time Management, tagged 2011, Annual Planning, Mastermind, New Year, Organizing, Paper, Planning, Purging, Theme, Yoga on January 2, 2011 |
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What’s that, you say, someone found a theme for 2011 in yoga class? You’ve got to be kidding me. Shouldn’t that happen at a party with a few glasses of champagne?
Not necessarily. This year I tried something totally new and went to a yoga class on New Years Day to celebrate the beginning of a new year and leave the old year behind. I have to give big kudos to Sherry Zak of Halifax Yoga for leading an amazing class for 50 dedicated souls and helping us speak our theme for the new year in public and then let go of the past year with a tough flow class involving lots of sweat and more than a few sore muscles!
What’s all this got to do with organizing? A lot. Without a theme for the year it’s hard to set goals and without goals it’s hard to achieve anything important and even more difficult to decide how to use your time to fulfill your destiny in the way you truly desire.
Each year at this time, in preparation for a new beginning, I spend a day with my Mastermind Group setting goals and making commitments for the next year. This year we’ll be doing it online since we can’t get together in person. We’re spread from Calgary to Winnipeg to Sudbury to Toronto to Halifax and we’re so greatful for the technology which allows us to meet and to ‘see ‘ each other even though we’re not all in the same city.
In preparation for our planning session, I spent the rest of New Years day going through and getting rid of a huge pile of paper in my office (more to do tomorrow), giving away some odds and ends from the storage closet (while I was putting away the Christmas decorations), and clearing extra books from my bookcase.
Whew, that feels good . . . it really does! Now I’m truly ready to rock and roll into 2011 and can’t wait to come up with the plan for how I’m going to achieve my goals and fulfill my dreams for ‘freedom’ in the coming year. You should try it – go ahead . . . get organized! For the record, ‘getting organized’ was listed as the #4 new year’s resolution for 2011.
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Posted in Consulting, Goal Setting, Home Office Organizing, Office Organizing, Planning, Record Keeping, Small Business, Time Management, tagged Annual Planning, Auto Mileage Log, Budget, Control, Home Office, Organizing, Paper, Planning, productivity, Purging, Small Business, Solopreneur, Time Management on December 5, 2010 |
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At this time of year I always start to get into what I like to call ‘Clean Up and Get Organized for the New Year’ mode in my business. Somehow, I always look forward to this process. For me it involves several steps which many of you may find it helpful to consider.
- Purging Paper & Electronic Information - like many of you I accumulate a lot of paper and electronic information throughout the year, some of which I never use. There’s no better feeling than going through all the paper files and shredding a bunch, going through my ‘My Documents’ folder and either archiving or deleting a bunch of files and finally going through all my email folders from this year and either archiving or deleting a bunch of that information. Somehow this process always seems to shift the energy around a bit and make room for new and exciting projects each new year.
Getting Ready for Canada Revenue
- I have to say that all of us small business owners certainly do have to be well organized on the financial records side of our business in case our friends at CRA come calling. I firmly believe that if I’m well organized and keep good records there is less likelihood that will happen but if it does I’ll be well prepared. I can pull any piece of information they may require on a moment’s notice including invoices, expense receipts, HST returns, my calendar with all appointments, monthly financial statements and the all important Automobile Mileage Log (to purchase yours go to
) for the past 7 years. The two things that they love to audit us home-based businesses for are ‘office-use-of-home’ expenses and ‘vehicle expenses’, so be sure to have those records in tip top shape and easily accessible. In addition, HST audits are quite common so being able to produce your records in a timely fashion can make this process almost painless.
- Creating A New Budget - I always like to challenge myself to ‘stretch goals’ on the revenue side and then see how little I can get away with spending on the expense side while still growing the business. This year I’m thinking about a few new budget items such as a Smartphone (yeah, yeah, I know I’m so behind on that one), a part-time Personal Assistant (too exciting), and maybe even my dream of a Training Video. Having a monthly budget and reviewing it twice per month is one of the key success factors to any business, large or small.
- Annual Planning - in addition to creating a new budget, I schedule a yearly annual planning session for 1 or 2 days with my mastermind group(s) to brainstorm ideas for the next year or so. This will involve both my personal and professional life and is a chance for some free thinking with no limitations. A chance to review outstanding projects and think of new ones. A chance to dream big and share those dreams with others. And finally the time to put it all in writing, decide my priorities for the next year, and make a committment to others in my mastermind group to work on those priorities or, if I don’t, to have a good reason for changing them.
Whew, aren’t you exhausted just thinking about all this? Now we all have to go and book time in our calendar over the holiday season to get working on #1 to #3. In my business #4 will be happening in two phases, one in January and the other in March. However, you may decide to do something completely different like attend a workshop or hire someone to help you through the process. Remember the adage, “Poor Prior Planning leads to P… Poor Performance”.
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Posted in Goal Setting, Learning, Planning, Time Management, tagged balance, Organizing, Planning, productivity, Time Management, Wellbeing on November 21, 2010 |
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This past week I taught a workshop called ‘The Balancing Act’ all about managing your time in order to create better balance in your life. That’s got me thinking about time and balance and what balance means to each of us.
Ask yourself, is the way you spend your time the way you really want your life to look? Do you waste time on unproductive activities? Are you clear on your goals? How can you take steps to get to where you want if you don’t know where that is? One participant in the workshop said that he had heard that setting goals and writing them down was a good idea but had never taken the time to do it.
If you don’t know what your goals are then you can’t determine your priorities and may often have no idea how to make a good decision about using your time. It seems to me that without goals you are likely spending your time wherever you feel the most pressure. Urgent takes precedence over important. Would you rather work towards a goal or two or get to the end of your life having accomplished nothing much? It’s really up to you.
If you do want to spend your time on activities that are meaningful to both your work and personal life, take some time right now to sit down and write down your goals and dreams. Don’t be afraid to dream big! Everyone is different and we all want something different from our life. It doesn’t matter what the balance is that you want, it only matters that you decide what you want and make a plan to get there. Ask yourself how you want to spend your time today, tomorrow, this week, this month, this year and next year?
Give yourself the time you deserve to work towards your personal and professional goals right now. Remember it is not selfish to make time for you a priority. Time is all you have and you only get one life.
Here’s a great quote from Denis Waitely, “Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can’t buy more hours. Scientists can’t invent new minutes. And you can’t save time to spend it on another day. Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you’ve wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow.”
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