Monday, November 28, 2011

Lists....and then What ?

Being organized involves many things. Even the most organized people need a little help. I know that I can't remember every single thing that needs to be done in my day, so I am constantly writing out lists.

This helps me remember what I need to accomplish during the day or week. But a "list" is not the "end all" of being organized.

If you constantly write things down, does that make you "organized"? The answer is "no". Writing things down, on your calendar or on a piece of paper (or electronically) does not make you organized.

Once you write things down you actually have to take the next step: do them! If you write things down but never actually follow through with completing your tasks you are no closer to being organized than if you never wrote it down in the first place.

After you make your list you need to take a good look at it and make sure that you can accomplish everything (or most things) on your list. If you can't, take it off the list.

Then you really want to "prioritize" the list by importance.

Next, you want to "schedule" the items on your list. Put it on your calendar. Set a date and time that you need/want to have the item accomplished. Be realistic. Allow yourself enough time to get the task done. Allow time for interruptions or traffic.

By scheduling your "to do" list you have taken the next step to accomplishing your goals.

Now follow your schedule and cross the item off of your list!

And don't forget to put "scheduling your week" on your "to do" list and schedule. Because if you don't schedule "planning" time you will have left out an important step.

Being organized in your life takes just as much work as in your job. Give it the same importance.

Have a great week!

Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, November 21, 2011

Another Thanksgiving....Are You Prepared ?

It's only a few days before Thanksgiving and people everywhere are rushing around trying to get everything done. They make food they haven't made all year, some of it most people don't even like.

Why? Because. That's all. Because that's what you are "supposed" to have for Thanksgiving.

So if no one in your family actually eats cranberries why do you continue to serve them?

Serve food that you and your family actually like and make the holiday something special for "you".

The pressure of trying to please everyone, especially parents and doing things “exactly” like when you were little and everything was perfect is how the “stress” starts.

It’s your house and your dinner party. You can start new traditions. I didn’t say that it would be easy or that you wouldn’t get some flack, but all “traditions” started somewhere. Make your own. You deserve some happiness.

You can make Thanksgiving as simple or as complicated as you want….it all depends on how organized you are willing to be.

A good way to keep the stress levels down is to divide and conquer.

Enlist your family for help. Don’t take “no” for an answer. This is your holiday too and you have a right to enjoy it.

And we all know that old saying “if Mom isn’t happy, no one is happy”.

Don’t attempt to make something new for dinner or try out a new dessert that day. It could turn out to be a disaster and that would cause you more stress. If you really want to try a new dish….test it out prior to Thanksgiving.

Start new traditions! It’s not easy to buck the system but once you make up your mind that you deserve to be happy and stress free on a Holiday you will wonder why you waited so long.

Remember, the whole point of a Holiday is family and friends and spending “quality” time together. Everything does not have to be perfect. Be thankful for what you have and not for what you don’t.

By starting early and making lists and getting as much done ahead of time as possible you will avoid a lot of stress.

A few days before Thanksgiving:
* Shop for all of the essentials, including as much of the food as can be purchased ahead of time
* Make sure that you have enough spices and things that you will need for the food (and rarely buy)
* Do any of the baking or make any desserts that can be made ahead of time
* Thaw the turkey (the size will determine how many days it takes to thaw in the refrigerator)
* Buy the wine or any beverages

The day before Thanksgiving:
* Buy any last minute items at the grocery store
* Chop anything that can be chopped ahead of time (vegetables, bread for stuff…but do not stuff the turkey ahead of time) and put them in plastic bags so that you will be all ready to go the next day
* Make sure you have enough ice
* Prepare any of the food items that can be made ahead of time
* Make your family aware of exactly what you need them to help you with on Thanksgiving.
* Having assigned tasks for your kids and spouse ahead of time takes away some of the stress of what’s expected of them the next day.

The night before Thanksgiving:
* Set the table and get out all of your platters and serving dishes.
* Make sure that you have enough dishes and silverware. If you don’t, now is the time to call one of your guests and ask to borrow something. Don’t wait until the last minute to find out that you broke the gravy boat last Thanksgiving and never replaced it.

But again…..the Holiday and family and friends are what’s important….not the china or the food. So if you aren’t the type of person to pull off a sit down dinner with all the decorations don’t beat yourself up. There are only so many Martha Stewarts around. And she has a staff to help her!

Thanksgiving Day:
* Wake up early so that you can have some “you” time to have coffee and relax before
the day starts (it will get stressful enough later, so the morning might be the
only time you have)
* Read over your lists and timetable
* Gather all of your food and cooking utensils, pots and pans ....
* Measure out everything that you can ahead of time and set it aside
* Follow your time table and start making the food according to the schedule
* Once the food comes out of the oven let it rest a while (you can cover it with
* Start cutting the meat and plating the food
* Have family members start their assigned tasks (setting out and serving food,
pouring the drinks…)

ENJOY your meal…… sit and talk…..

After the meal:

Have a plan in place to clear the table. Since I always make a ton of extra food so that my guests can take home leftovers I start with portioning the leftovers into plastic containers and putting each family’s containers into a plastic bag and setting it near the door so that they don’t forget them.

Once I have the leftovers divided up and mine put away in the refrigerator and freezer I then start to collect the rest of the dishes and put them into the dishwasher. I don’t start the dishwasher until after they leave so that we won’t be bothered with the noise.

Again, this is where your family members can jump in and help clear and stack dishes. It makes quick work of things when you have other people help.

I need to have as many things cleared up and put away as possible before I start serving dessert. This also gives everyone time to rest and relax before they start eating again.

Some people like to leave the dishes and the mess until the next day. And sometimes I wish I could too, but its worse the next day when you get up and walk into a mess. I’d rather get it done and over with.

Make quick work of it (or as much as will fit into the dishwasher) and then sit and relax and spend time with your family.

Remember, a Holiday is supposed to be enjoyable. If it’s not, figure out why it isn’t and change it. Skip the big complicated meal, the fancy desserts and the good china and make it as simple as you are able to handle.

Start your own tradition….and make it about family!

Happy Holiday !

Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, November 14, 2011

Stress and Lack of Organization

It seems that every day I hear people tell me that they are totally stressed out by their situation. Too much clutter, can't find things, embarrassed to have people over, feeling totally out of control.

And I say to them "take a deep breath, this is normal". The feelings I mean. Most clients that I have call me up or email me and I hear the same stories. They are at the end of their rope and they want help and want everything to be perfect. Now.

So I keep telling everyone "your feelings are normal, you are not alone, don't be embarrassed by your clutter and step back, breathe and let's take it slow".

Things didn't get this way overnight and they won't get fixed in a day. It's not only about all of the stuff, it's about a skill that wasn't learned and the way you were brought up. It's about environment and so much more.

And of course now that the holidays are near everyone wants everything to be perfect and the normal holiday stress is adding more stress to the mix.

But, at the same time, people are starting to realize that clutter and chronic disorganization does cause stress. And that's a big step in the learning process.

The next step is doing something to change your behavior and the way you live your life. And that's a really big step. It takes time. Time to learn new ways of doing things. And new things are always a bit uncomfortable. By realizing and accepting the fact that you are stepping into unkown territory and will be leaving your comfort zone you have taken another step into becoming more organized.

Baby steps. One thing at a time. Don't think that you are going to be just like one of the T.V. shows and your house and life will be totally transformed in one hour. It won't be. So don't set yourself up for disappointment. Learn to accept and appreciate the small steps and know that you are starting on your way to being more organized and will eventually get there.

But don't stress yourself out in the process and understand that it is a process. And it's a process that will take time. But it's a process that is worth going through.

Being organized will make you feel better and you will have more time to do the things that are really important.

Just take it one step at a time.

Remember: Less Clutter = Less Stress SM in your home, your business and your life

Organizational Consulting Services

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Planning Ahead for Year End

This is a really busy time of year. The holiday season has started and some of us are already thinking about Year End and taxes. Well, maybe you aren't but I know that some of my clients are already dreading the end of the year and the piles of receipts that they have waiting for them to sort through.

Now is the time to take a deep breath spend a few minutes thinking about where you dumped all of your receipts and tax related papers. Yes, I did say "dumped". Or was that shoved, as in shoved into a drawer never to be thought of again? It sounded like a good plan at the beginning of the year. "Deal with it at year end and get a whole year of not thinking about it".

Well, the end of the year is near. And now I hear by clients moaning about "the piles".

So take a deep breath and deal with it now.

* Make a list of the files that you need to create.
* Make a list of all of your documents that you will need to gather for the accountant.
* Separate your receipts into piles such as: house related expenses, business expenses, donations....
* Make an appointment with yourself to sit down for 30 minutes at least once a week to get some of your papers into order.

By taking some time now to think about the end of the year and what you will need to gather for taxes and your accountant, you will spread the "tax stress" out so that you are not hit with it all at once.

And also, think about how to create a better system for next year so that you don't have to go through the "year end tax stress" every year.

Happy Organizing !

Organizational Consulting Services