A professional organizer’s quick tips for staying on track
By Jessica Duquette
Managing your minutes
the only three things you can do with time are sell it, savor it or squander it.
- Avoid checking email first thing in the morning, the distraction throws off the rhythm of the whole day. Instead cross off two or three of your more urgent action items and then get to your email.
- Create a quick action plan for the day on a large post-it, and prioritize by what is most important and urgent to get done and do those first.
- Important things are not always urgent and urgent things are not always important. Learn to evaluate in the moment whether or not you can afford to commit to a project or action before choosing to do so. If you have conflicting feelings and someone else is waiting for your response, let them know that you will get back to them in a specified period of time.
- Brain Dump. Write everything you need to remember on a piece of paper to clear your mind and allow the space for critical thinking. This paper should always be disposable!
Managing your mind
the hand that’s open to let go is the hand that’s open to receive.
- Schedule a time to clean out your purse and your car. It will always make you feel better about yourself and help you think more clearly.
- Allow yourself to purposely let go of things that you feel like you are attached to. Discover what the emotions are behind the grasping and really nurture yourself on that level. Grieving a past time in your life, such as when your kids were babies, or when your parents were alive or when you were 30 pounds thinner or 20 years younger? Afraid that you will not have or be enough? Ashamed that people will discover that you are a fraud? None of these feelings are about the things you are holding on to. Clutter is NEVER about the “stuff”, it’s always about you and clutter always has the result of keeping what you want away. (please reread that 3 times till it really sinks in)
- If an item reminds you of someone, you can take the memory and implant it in your body. Try breathing in the memory of your grandmother or your daughter when she was a baby, breathe every last bit of the essence of the person from the item and then see what happens!
- Honestly evaluate the places in your life where resentment, blame and acting the victim are stealing your joy, your energy and your vitality. Determine if holding on to these toxic feelings are serving you and forgive…yourself, the situation, the other person. Keep in mind, forgiving someone is not the same as condoning unacceptable behavior.
- Notice how your clutter is screaming at you. What would it be saying if you could actually hear it? What are you saying to the world, including the people that you live with, by keeping the clutter? This step takes a lot of courage to face.
Managing your space
- Make your life easier by noticing what the flow of your routine is and then building your systems around the flow, rather than slavishly following some organizing guru’s ideas of order. People don’t change by being forced or coerced, and that includes your spouse and kids. If you can’t get them to cross the room to hang up their coats, put a coat rack where they first walk in!
- Create areas for yourself that have all the tools you need to complete the task at hand:
1. Make a useful “launch pad” for yourself by the door you use most and put important papers, party invitations, directions to events, soccer schedules, yoga classes, etc. handy and visible.
2. Create a bill paying area with stamps, envelopes, address labels, stapler and the necessary files close by. If you pay bills on line, make this “station” by your computer.
3. Put the coffee mugs, sugar, creamer and spoons right by the coffee maker!
- When you are decluttering, pick something up and ask yourself what number would you give it on a scale of 1-10? If you want a magical life, only keep things that are a 9 or a 10. Why would you want to have something taking up space in your life that you don’t absolutely LOVE?
- Think of your surroundings as real estate. The space that is at arm’s reach and eye level is the ‘prime’ real estate and should only hold items that are befitting the position. Assess your closets, cabinets, shelves and cupboards, take a good look and see what’s there. Does it make sense from a flow standpoint? Is that crock pot you almost never use taking up valuable space on your best shelf in the kitchen? Then move it to that hard-to-reach shelf above the fridge or even into the garage. (or better yet, donate it and borrow one from your neighbor the few times a year that you actually need it). Go through every surface and make a decision about where this goes. You can even ask yourself if something is a ‘friend or foe”.
- Let go of guilt-ridden items. Is that painting your mother-in-law brought back from her trip to Haiti hanging above the fireplace? Take it down and claim the space. Still using your ex-husband’s dishes? Go get some new ones! Make the space YOURS. You will be amazed at how much better you will feel!
- Don’t micromanage your files. No one wants to file anything in a system that is too complicated. Consult with your CPA and ask him/her what you need to keep and what you can toss and then have a shred-fest! Let it all go and start a new filing system that works for you. Make broad filing categories, take anything out of your immediate file cabinet that isn’t a needed resource or a current year reference and feel the breeze blowing through your mind .
Managing your computer
- Keep on top of your Inbox. periodically (for me now, it's about once every two weeks!) do a major purge. Here's a previous post about keeping your inbox clear. I started sorting by FROM (in Outlook, just click on the word FROM at the top of the Inbox) and then deleting the emails from senders I knew I didn't need to read. That helped tremendously. The next step is harder, skim the subject lines and get ruthless with what you need to keep and don't. My ideal (and I use this word consciously!) is less than 25 in my Inbox. (yeah, right!)
Create folders for emails you get all the time. Some ideas would be:
- Shopping- I recently made a folder for a client who enjoys looking at the sale emails from the Gap, Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, etc. Now those emails aren't cluttering up her inbox, and when she is ready to shop, she knows where to go!
Blog Feeds- I use this folder as a home-made blog reader. I get all my blog feeds through Feedblitz. It's so much easier for me! For more info, take a look at Ariane Benefit's post on organizing your blog feeds. In the comment section, I talked about a neat trick I learned from Phil, the founder of Feedblitz. If a blog you like doesn't have a Feedblitz subscription box, no worries! All you have to do is go here:
- Current Travel- I use this one all the time, along with sister folder, Current Purchases- biz or pleasure, travel generates a lot of email nowadays. I just toss anything related to a certain trip in my current travel folder, but not before editing the subject line so I know which trip that email refers to! Look here if you aren't sure how to edit a subject line in Outlook (brought to you by Less is More blog). I use the same protocol for current purchases; any time I buy something online I toss the confirmation email into that folder. I cheat a bit and use the same folder for items I am currently selling on eBay or Amazon Marketplace.
- Passwords- I use a code word to name the folder for security. (no, I'm not telling what it is!) when I get a password email, I change the subject line to the company's name only. I sort that folder by subject and it's really easy for me to find a specific login info for anything in a matter of seconds. I also edit the email itself so that all it says is the user name, password and a link to the login page. Some people do this in the subject line, and I certainly can see the value of that!
If anyone has any clever and useful folders (this means YOU, Monica, Marcia, Ariane Benefit, Professional Organizer, Amy, Brandie, Susan, Aby, Suzanne, Laura, John, Emily, Kerry, Megan and anyone else I may have left out!)Remember, I am on your team!..· ´¨¨)) -:¦:-
((¸¸.·´ ..·´ Jessica -:¦:--:¦:- ((¸¸.·´*