Archive for the ‘Organizing’ Category

One Point in Time

I sat there among the paper, projects, commitments, emails, bills, promises and looming deadlines. And I sat and continued to sit, unable to move on any of it. Full blown inertia set in and I was hopelessly stuck in it. This familiar moment in time is one I relive over and over and have little warning when it will show up. Several inner sparks tell me to gather the bills, write an email, or sort through the file. Others say create a plan, prioritize, call someone. Still more admonish my laziness;others push my head into my hands and plead with me to do something! No thought of threat or reward can lift me. I have lost many opportunities, much money, jobs, potential clients and a few friends over the years- all traceable to one or more of these quick sand moments in time.

On its face this does look like simple procrastination or laziness. I have work to do and promises to keep and I am doing nothing. There are reasons why I’m in this predicament- most of them the results of choices I made. I took on too much. I waited too long. I over-promised. I allowed too much to accumulate. I did procrastinate and succumb to more interesting pursuits instead of doing what needed to be done when it needed doing. This is all true. There is no one to blame but myself.

I have shelves lined with advice for how to organize my time and space; how to manage my things and my schedule. These are valuable resources in my life and in my work as a life coach. The myriad tips and tools for managing oneself are like bricks and mortar for creating an empowered existence. Each tool is an opportunity to build a stronger foundation and a calmer, more successful life. I can start fresh each day with a new way of being: From this day forth, all my incoming mail and papers go in the red basket. Starting right now, I check my emails three times a day and turn off my Blackberry between the hours of 2 and 4pm. I do a lot of cooking on Monday nights so that I need not cook for several days. As soon as I accept a new project, I outline its parameters and create a time line for completing it. These are all tools I use to create order in my life. When I commit to these kinds of activities, over a period of weeks, months, and years, much of the mundane aspects of living are automatically handled. With the start of these kinds of habits I have come miles on this journey toward living a fully harmonious life.

And yet even the finest sieve lets particles through. Despite my efforts to form good habits and commit to them, I sometimes forget to turn off the Blackberry. I’ll sign up for a Monday night exercise class or the red basket is co-opted for another purpose, leaving the incoming papers to fend for themselves. Without a contingency plan, there go the systems. This partially explains why, on this particular day, I sat there among the paper, projects, commitments and looming deadlines and felt so overwhelmed. My pre-frontal cortex, that part of my brain that plans and organizes and handles the details of my life, seemingly shut down. All the books, advice, tools, programs, habits and support groups in the world could not help me in that precise moment. I was stuck.

One Point in Time:
Sitting there at my desk at 7:07pm, mental wheels spinning wildly, I saw in my mind’s eye, a large period. I picked up my pencil and drew that large period on a piece of paper. Then I put my finger on that period. I thought of it as a pause button. STOP! Stop spinning. Stop thinking, ruminating, judging, deliberating, drowning. STOP. Breathe. Keeping my finger on the dot, I then I drew a small circle. What should be the very next thing I do? I wrote it in the circle. (walk to ladies room). When I returned to my desk I put my finger back on the circle. I drew a triangle. What is the very next thing I should do? Pack up to go home. I put my finger on the triangle, took a moment to pause and breathe. I packed up to leave. I drew a square. What next? I wrote in the square Go Home.

This whole process from the moment I drew the first period to the time I locked my office door took 7 minutes. At another time I would have sat there until 10pm feverishly plugging away. During my pausing moments, I focused only on what I need to do in the next moment. You can only fill a moment with one activity. My periods and other patterns represented those moments for me- one at a time. They allowed me to pause, and consider what do I really need to do next. I could take myself home to my family and make dinner for us, and sit down and eat it. Once I did that, I came to my home office and drew a diamond shape: 10 minutes plan for tomorrow. I made a list of 5 important things to take care of, with a reminder to place Periods through out the day in order to STOP, breath, notice, and decide. What’s Next?

Favorite Books for Creating Peace, Order, and Connection in Daily Life

These books are on this list of favorites because they are easy and fun to read. They help me establish a sense of focus and direction, and they teach me how to better organize my time, my space, my money, and my life. I refer to them again and again and share them with others. For people living with the challenges of ADD, these books really help.

  1. One Small Step Can Change Your Life by Robert Maurer, PhD.
  2. Making Peace with the Things in Your Life by Cindy Glovinsky MSW  ACSW
  3. ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize your Life by Judith Kolberg and Kathleen Nadeau, PhD
  4. Survival Tips for Women with ADHD by Terry Matlen MSW
  5. The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom by Suze Orman
  6. Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern
  7. Conquering Chronic Disorganization by Judith Kolberg
  8. Do It Tomorrow by Mark Forster
  9. Getting Things Done by David Allen
  10. A Finger Pointing to the Moon by Linda Anderson and Gregg Krech of ToDo Institute
  11. The Concise Little Guide to Getting Things Done by Linda Anderson and Gregg Krech
  12. NaikanGratitude, Grace, and the Japanese Art of Self-Reflection by Gregg Krech
  13. The Natural Way to Mental Wellness by Gregg Krech
  14. Living a Beautiful Life by Alexandra Stoddard
  15. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
  16. Change Your Brain, Change Your Life by Daniel Amen MD
  17. The Disorganized Mind by Nancy Ratey MCC
  18. More Attention, Less Deficit by Ari Tuckman PhD
  19. Getting Unstuck by Don Kerson, MD
  20. Driven to Distraction by Edward Hallowell MD and John Ratey MD
  21. Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew

Clean Up Your Room!: 10 inspiring ways to declutter a space

Some people can just walk in the room and start picking up without fanfare.  I can’t do that. I need a fun method.  Make that 10 methods.  I have at least 10 tricks I regularly use to clean up the clutter in my home and life.  Sometimes I’ll use 3 or 4 methods for one clean up.  Other times I’ll stick with one method for a period of time; then switch to another. I combine, revise, and re-create my methods.  These are the ones I’ve found most effective.

1. Square Foot Method :  I use this method when there is a large space full of random clutter. Start in one corner of the room and literally block off one square foot of floor space and clear it, clean it, and organize it. Then move on to the next square foot.

2.Beach Pebble Method: This method reminds me of walking on a pebbly beach and picking up all the red pebbles; then the black ones; white ones, and so on. Likewise in a cluttered room you create categories such as papers, clothing, containers, books etc. Then you choose one category to start with like “clothing”.  Let your eye peruse the room looking only for clothing.  Pick up all the clothing.  Next choose “papers”, perusing the room gathering all the papers.  And so on.  In a large and cluttered room I might block the room off into quadrants and work one quadrant at a time.

3.10 Minute Method: Set the timer for 10 minutes and jump in. When the timer goes off, stop. I usually combine this with another method to make it more interesting.

4.Empty Everything Out Method: Do not try this at home alone.  This is a method I only use when I’ve got an orderly and disciplined person working with me.  It is dramatic and exhilarating to quickly empty a cluttered room of all its contents. However, you have now created a mess somewhere else, right? Many a winter I have used this method (unchaperoned) and brought everything out to our covered deck, where it stayed until July.  Sure I enjoyed my clean room, but at what cost?

5.Donut Hole Method: Climb your way to the middle of the room and clear a circle 2 feet in diameter.  Keep widening the circle until all that’s left are the corners.

6. Roll the Dice Method: I use double dice to give myself maximum freedom.  Let me explain.  Grab a pencil and paper and number 1-12. Survey the room, writing down 12 tasks. Roll the dice and do that number. I add a little freeing spice to this method by allowing myself to choose among 3 tasks. Say I roll a 2 and a 6. I can do task #2, #6, or #8. There’s something about having controlled choice that makes this a favorite. I’ll use this dice method for busy days when I have a lot of things to take care of, especially if I’ve been procrastinating. They all go on the list and I roll the dice.

7. Next Step Method: I use this method when I feel overwhelmed, depressed, or tired. I grab a pad of paper and a pen or sit at the computer. I’ll list all the things I need to do. I’ll break them down into small tasks that I can do in less than 10 minutes. I’ll pick one task and write it down, and write down the next thing I’ll do after the first. Before doing the second task I’ll look at the list and choose what the next thing will be.  This method keeps me focused on completing one thing at a time, eliminating confusion and overwhelm.

8.Multi-Task Method: This method was inspired by an efficiency coach in England, Mark Forster.  He called it doing “Bursts.”I use this  method when I have a variety of things to do and can’t get started. Let’s say I’ve got a tax return to prepare, a room to clean, a letter to write, papers to file, dishes to wash, a presentation to prepare.  I’ll make a list of these tasks down the left side of the page. On top of the page, I’ll create headings : 5 minutes  10 minutes  20 minutes  30 minutes. I’ll start with the first item on the list, tax return.  I’ll spend 5 minutes getting and opening the file. Then stop. I’ll spend the next 5 minutes cleaning the room. The next 5 minutes gathering letter-writing materials; the next 5 filing; then washing dishes; then outlining the presentation. After I’ve given 5 minutes to each thing, I’ll return to the tax return and work for 10 minutes; then 10 minutes cleaning the room, and so on.  Once I’ve gone through the list I’ll return to tax return for 20 minutes and go through them all. Continue in this way until all tasks are completed.

9. Counting Method: In a messy room, choose a number of things to pick up and stop to rest. I like the numbers 25 or 50 for this. We may have a lot of clean laundry strewn about our bedroom. I’ll count 50 items to fold and hang. Then stop or choose another number. This creates rhythm for myself. I’ve found this helpful when feeling blue or anxious about something. Just focus on the number and the item you’re dealing with. This method is best when it’s rote (folding, hanging, gathering, sorting) and not things that require decision-making or thought.

10.Container Method: While in the messy space, with this method you zoom in on a container you want to organize or a shelf, a drawer, a tabletop.  Or a box or bag you want to fill. Then one container at a time, you deal with it.