I hate filing

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I always recommend that my clients be as ruthless as possible when filing paper. When are you going to look at that again? Why would you need it in the future? What terrible thing is going to happen if you get rid of it? When was the last time you even opened that drawer? 

Part of my agenda is to get them to keep less paper because paper takes up space, space that could be used better by more useful items. Another agenda I have reflects my attitude toward filing: I hate it. So it naturally follows that the less one needs to file, the better.

Are you with me on that?

Yes, I hate filing. I have a perfectly serviceable system and I can find things in it. That’s not the problem.

I’m not sure why I hate it so much, but let me explore. One reason is that I often am pretty sure that I will not look at a piece of paper again, ever, but it’s hard to get rid of. I just don’t want to make that decision. There’s a little cloud of uncertainty that I don’t want to investigate. 

A related reason is that I don’t like opening those drawers full of paper I haven’t looked at in forever. I feel burdened by having all that paper, and by not wanting to deal with it. Putting more in there makes me feel guilty. 

Here are some less hateful strategies for keeping files in decent shape:

  • Have a filing in box. With all your to-be-filed papers in one spot, you’ll still be able to find things even if you haven’t filed them yet. 😉
  • Look in the back of some over-stuffed folders. If you file with current items in front, the oldest stuff will be in back. That’s the paper that’s most likely to be unneeded.
     
  • Go though some folders where decision making will be easy, such as one for instruction manuals. Find manuals for appliances that you no longer own and toss them. 

Do you have any great file taming ideas? Let me know!

Podcast 039: Make the most of your productive time

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Subscribe:  iTunes  ⋅  Stitcher  ⋅  Soundcloud ⋅  YouTube  ⋅  Google Play

You can leave a review here!

In this episode, I’ll talk about what productive time is, and how to manage your work so you use it best. Here are some highlights:

  • What if I’m a night owl?
  • What should I NOT do?
  • How do I get more productive time?

Subscribe:  iTunes  ⋅  Stitcher  ⋅  Soundcloud ⋅  YouTube  ⋅  Google Play

This podcast is based on my book, 52 Simple Ways to Get Organized, available on my website. Each week I go into greater depth about one of the 52 ways. Some weeks I’ll take on different organizing topics and reader suggestions.

If you’d like to comment on the podcast, you can leave a review on iTunes. I read all your reviews, and  your positive, creative comments help others find my podcast.

If you have a question for me that you’d like me to address on the podcast, please post it on my Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter.

Help from the Procrastination Research Group

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Yes, this group really exists!

On the web I discovered a site for the Procrastination Research Group. One researcher has identified five “cognitive distortions,” which are

  1. overestimation of time left to perform tasks, 
  2. underestimation of time required to complete tasks, 
  3. overestimation of future motivational states, 
  4. misreliance on the necessity of emotional congruence to succeed at task, and 
  5. belief that working when not in the mood to work is suboptimal.

The first two are pretty commonly known. The remaining three were a bit surprising to me, especially the last one. Although I intuitively knew them, I’ve never seen them spelled out so clearly.  

Number three refers to putting things off with the belief that you’ll be in the mood to do them later. This presupposes that the obstacles currently in your way—being tired, distracted, depressed, overwhelmed—will be gone in time for you to complete the work. 

Number four elaborates on that concept by asserting that you don’t really have to be perky, focused, happy and carefree to get work done, and the last point says that the work you do can be good work even when you’re not up for it.  

It’s common to have a romantic hope that the muse of report writing, sales calling, house cleaning, sculpting or tax preparing will descend on you and will cause you to happily devote your energies to the appointed task and emerge with a masterpiece.  

But let’s be realistic. For one thing, most great artists and other accomplished folk didn’t sit around waiting for inspiration, they just got down to business. Hard-working Thomas Edison said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”  

Here are some strategies from the same website for handling procrastination: 

  1. Make a list of everything you have to do. 
  2. Write an intention statement. 
  3. Set realistic goals. 
  4. Break it down. 
  5. Make your task meaningful.
  6. Promise yourself a reward. 
  7. Eliminate tasks you never plan to do. 
  8. Estimate the amount of time you think it will take you to complete a task, then increase that amount by 100%. 

Again, most of this is pretty self evident. 

The fifth point is one that sometimes escapes our attention and it can help you decrease reliance on being in the mood to get things done. It means remembering why you’re doing something. What is meaningful to one person may not be to another, so you have to find a meaning that will motivate you.  

What’s the reason to write a report? Because it’s due? Because you owe it to the other people working on the project with you? Because you may get a promotion out of it? Because it will advance your standing as an expert in your field?

Any of these can be good reasons, but they need to have meaning for you. If they do, they can help you stay on task and discount your excuses.  

For a more arcane discussion of the relation of feelings to action, I visited the ToDo Institute web site for the following insights

Feelings are uncontrollable directly by the will. You can’t simply make yourself feel what you want to feel. You can’t make yourself fall in love with someone or feel grateful to someone who has just hurt you. You can’t willfully and reliably change your feelings when you’re feeling depressed or lonely.

Feelings can be indirectly influenced by behavior. Though we can’t control our feelings directly by our will, we can often influence them by what we do. Taking action often causes us to feel differently. A lonely person who asks someone out on a date or organizes a dinner party is likely to affect his or her feelings of loneliness. Feelings of depression or lethargy are often influenced by vigorous exercise.

To the last statement I would add that completing a report can change feelings of overwhelm and inadequacy to feelings of accomplishment and validation. The next time you’re faced with a task you want to put off, try substituting your emotional reaction with a meaningful reason to complete it. Or be honest and follow strategy seven: eliminate tasks you never plan to do.

Podcast 038: Time is short

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You can leave a review here!

In this episode, I’ll talk about how time is short. That means, use it carefully and thoughtfully. Here are some highlights:

  • If time is short, shouldn’t I speed up?
  • I have so much to do!
  • How do I prevent overwhelm?

Subscribe:  iTunes  ⋅  Stitcher  ⋅  Soundcloud ⋅  YouTube  ⋅  Google Play

This podcast is based on my book, 52 Simple Ways to Get Organized, available on my website. Each week I go into greater depth about one of the 52 ways. Some weeks I’ll take on different organizing topics and reader suggestions.

If you’d like to comment on the podcast, you can leave a review on iTunes. I read all your reviews, and  your positive, creative comments help others find my podcast.

If you have a question for me that you’d like me to address on the podcast, please post it on my Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter.

Podcast 037: The power of checklists

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Subscribe:  iTunes  ⋅  Stitcher  ⋅  Soundcloud ⋅  YouTube  ⋅  Google Play

You can leave a review here!

In this episode, I’ll talk about how how valuable checklists are and why you should use them. Here are some highlights:

  • Why should I write down little mundane tasks?
  • How will it help me?
  • What’s the best way to use a checklist?

Subscribe:  iTunes  ⋅  Stitcher  ⋅  Soundcloud ⋅  YouTube  ⋅  Google Play

This podcast is based on my book, 52 Simple Ways to Get Organized, available on my website. Each week I go into greater depth about one of the 52 ways. Some weeks I’ll take on different organizing topics and reader suggestions.

If you’d like to comment on the podcast, you can leave a review on iTunes. I read all your reviews, and  your positive, creative comments help others find my podcast.

If you have a question for me that you’d like me to address on the podcast, please post it on my Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter.

Podcast 036: Make it to the finish line

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Subscribe:  iTunes  ⋅  Stitcher  ⋅  Soundcloud ⋅  YouTube  ⋅  Google Play

You can leave a review here!

In this episode, I’ll talk about how to make it to the finish line with your projects. Here are some highlights:

  • Why should I limit my time?
  • How do limits aid in creativity?
  • How can I manage my time better?

Subscribe:  iTunes  ⋅  Stitcher  ⋅  Soundcloud ⋅  YouTube  ⋅  Google Play

This podcast is based on my book, 52 Simple Ways to Get Organized, available on my website. Each week I go into greater depth about one of the 52 ways. Some weeks I’ll take on different organizing topics and reader suggestions.

If you’d like to comment on the podcast, you can leave a review on iTunes. I read all your reviews, and  your positive, creative comments help others find my podcast.

If you have a question for me that you’d like me to address on the podcast, please post it on my Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter.

Podcast 035: The master list

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You can leave a review here!

In this episode, I’ll talk about maintaining a master list. This is the place you can do your brain dump and get mental clarity. Here are some highlights:

  • What’s a brain dump?
  • How do I write my entries?
  • Won’t it get way too long?

Subscribe:  iTunes  ⋅  Stitcher  ⋅  Soundcloud ⋅  YouTube  ⋅  Google Play

This podcast is based on my book, 52 Simple Ways to Get Organized, available on my website. Each week I go into greater depth about one of the 52 ways. Some weeks I’ll take on different organizing topics and reader suggestions.

If you’d like to comment on the podcast, you can leave a review on iTunes. I read all your reviews, and  your positive, creative comments help others find my podcast.

If you have a question for me that you’d like me to address on the podcast, please post it on my Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter.

7 great organizing gifts for Christmas!

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Here’s my gift round up for the year. All items are available through my Amazon store. Click on the photo of each to learn more and purchase.

1.

I love drawer organizers! They are particularly helpful in the bathroom to keep small items contained and separated. If a tube comes open, you’ll only have to clean the icky stuff out of one organizer. No need to empty the whole drawer and wash it out. $16.78.

 

2.

Magnetic knife bars keep your knives from getting jumbled in a drawer. I find it helpful to see each knife; when they’re in a wooden block I tend to forget which is which! This bar can also be used for tools in the workshop, for craft supplies like your scissors or metal button container, or even for metal toys. Pretty nifty. $17.85.

 

 

3.

Everyone needs a shredder. Put it next to your recycling bin and sort the mail right there. All the junk and unwanted credit offers can get taken care of on the spot. No saving up bags of shredding for that rainy day that never comes. This one handles credit cards and staples too. $67.47.

4.

Here’s a great way to travel with electronic devices and keep them safe and contained. I like that it doesn’t have assigned spots for items. The crisscrossing strips mean you can fit things in wherever you want. You can mix your little iPod in with the heavy computer cord and not damage either one. $19.50.

5.

Monkey Bars makes a great line of garage storage solutions that work together and take care of all kinds of odd shaped items. This sports equipment rack is a good example. It has a bag to hold balls and also let you see them, unlike an opaque organizer. And it fits different shaped items like a hockey stick and golf bag. $134.99.

6.

Slim, huggable hangers. Yes, I saw the movie “Joy” and loved it!. Plus, these hangers really are great. The flocking keeps garments from sliding off. The slim profile means you can hang more garments in your closet. With regular hangers, people often resort to double hanging, which usually has the effect of simply hiding the garment underneath so you can’t find it again. $19.97.

7.

This label maker is one of my favorite gadgets. My clients all love it too and some end up buying their own. The P-Touch is a work horse. I’ve had mine for years. It’s compact but easy to use. It has a QWERTY keyboard which I find way easier to use than others with an ABC keyboard. If you can touch type, you’ll want this one. $27.99.

3 great solutions for overwhelm

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How do you get organized when you’re too overwhelmed to deal with it at all?  Try one of these three ideas, or all of them. These techniques are described in Stephanie Winston’s book Getting Out From Under. The key is that making lots of small changes will really add up and help you significantly. 

The 10% Solution

Take the problem of getting out of the house in the morning. If it’s a frantic rush and you’re often late, then it’s a problem. 

Divide the morning’s events into discrete tasks such as washing, dressing, eating, gathering your stuff, supervising children doing all those things, newspaper reading, lunch packing, etc. Notice for a few days how long each of these tasks takes. Then figure out how you can either do each task 10% more efficiently, perform 10% of it at another time, or omit 10% worth of it. 

Some examples Winston gives are switching from bedspreads to duvet covers to speed up bed making, laying out clothing the night before and gathering needed items near the front door in advance.   

Inventorying

I like this technique because it involves an organizing skill that can be used in other ways. Inventorying the specific tasks you do for any given activity brings them out of the dark, dusty realm of “we’ve just always done it that way” and into the light where you can see clearly how it can be done better, maybe faster, or maybe not at all. 

Inventorying your possessions is an excellent way to start organizing them. It’s one thing to know you have too much stuff, and another to know specifically that you have three tape dispensers and can get rid of two.  

The Chore List

This clarifying exercise can be used to create a family chore list. Winston suggests starting out imagining how your ideal home would look. Beds made, shopping done, mail sorted? 

Include everything on the list at first, even breakfast in bed. After you get in all on paper, you’ll need to pick out what you have the time and resources to get done. This is important: be honest or it won’t work!

Once you define the top priorities, again you’re going to break those things down into the tasks that get you there. Who is going to make the beds, at what time and how often? When is the best time to shop and what exactly are we shopping for? Do we take turns sorting mail or does one person handle it? 

The more specific you can get, even if it means asking questions that seem very obvious, such as what constitutes a “made” bed, the better.

And now, some haiku (by me).

Make some decisions
All these things have their uses
But not in your life

Podcast 034: Make a “not to do” list

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Subscribe:  iTunes  ⋅  Stitcher  ⋅  Soundcloud ⋅  YouTube  ⋅  Google Play

You can leave a review here!

In this episode, I’ll talk about how to make your to do list more effective by taking some of the items off and putting them onto a “not to do” list. Here are some highlights:

  • But I need to do all of this!
  • Isn’t that cheating?
  • What if I change my mind?

Subscribe:  iTunes  ⋅  Stitcher  ⋅  Soundcloud ⋅  YouTube  ⋅  Google Play

This podcast is based on my book, 52 Simple Ways to Get Organized, available on my website. Each week I go into greater depth about one of the 52 ways. Some weeks I’ll take on different organizing topics and reader suggestions.

If you’d like to comment on the podcast, you can leave a review on iTunes. I read all your reviews, and  your positive, creative comments help others find my podcast.

If you have a question for me that you’d like me to address on the podcast, please post it on my Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter.