For some, the arrival of summer brings with it a variety of reasons for remote work. Be it summer break for the kids or a flexible boss, working from home can be a wonderful experience for both employer and employee. However, it’s important to be fully prepared for the challenges you might face, such as having your documents e-filed or having all parts of your home organized for peace of mind. Just like working in an office, working from home has its upsides and its pitfalls.
A major problem is how to remain productive when there are so many distractions at home that can get in the way of your work. Stay on target with these five productivity tips that will help you stay focused and get the job done.
1. Have a Dedicated Office Space
Whether you have a room set aside to be your office or a section of a room dedicated to work, it’s important to have a place to “go to work.” Be sure to have all the office necessities there: a desk, a comfortable chair, computer and telephone, filing or storage solutions, office supplies, and adequate lighting. This room or space should put you in a work mindset, so when you go there you’re prepared mentally to do your job.
Your custom office space should appeal to your work ethic and mindset. While a TV is generally distracting, some people work better with background noise. You know yourself better than anyone – just be reasonable and practical about the setup.
In other words, don’t just pull out your laptop and work from your bed in your pajamas. That might put you in a state of mind to update Facebook or even drift off to sleep!
2. Set and Enforce Boundaries
When you’re working from home a major productivity-buster can be the people you live with. The child who wants your attention. The pet who wants to hop in your lap or go out for a walk. The friends or family members who call just to talk because you’re home. To combat these distractions, it’s important to set and enforce rules for when you are working from the comfort of home.
If you have a door, close it. If you don’t, try hanging a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the back of your chair or set up some other notice that you are not available. Distractions are the downfall of productivity, and working without some healthy boundaries will cause more harm than good.
Post a schedule so others can see when you’ll be taking a break or are finished. Tell family not to call unless it’s an emergency. Enforce these rules from the get-go so they become a habit for everyone.
3. Set Regular Working Hours
Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you should roll out of bed at 10 a.m. or take a two-hour lunch break. Schedule hours to work, just as you would in an office setting. Set your alarm, take a shower and get dressed, and eat breakfast before you begin work. This will help put you in a mindset for working, not lounging.
No matter your profession, there will still be deadlines to meet. Set reminders that you have responsibilities and stick to a schedule. Do take a lunch break, but keep it to a reasonable time, no longer than an hour. Take this opportunity to eat, enjoy the summer weather, spend time with family and friends or make those personal calls. If friends and family are adhering to the second tip, they will know that this is a time you are available.
4. Keep it Clean
It’s tough to be productive when your desk and office area is a cluttered mess. Be sure to keep your desk clean and clear of any clutter. Keep a trash can nearby to toss unwanted items and a filing system to keep your important papers organized. Have an in-bin for items that need your attention. Make sure only work-related items are in your office; no kids’ toys (which could attract the kids) or piles of junk from elsewhere in the house. Your office space should be for your work only!
At the end of each workday, take a few minutes to put things in their proper places so you have a clean slate the next morning, not a mess from yesterday to deal with.
5. Eliminate Background Noise
Noises and other distractions will kill your productivity. Crying children, noisy lawnmowers and email alerts can all jolt you out of what you need to be doing. Turn off all alerts and vow to check email only at certain times of the day, such as first thing in the morning, before and after lunch, and at the end of your workday. Have your personal cell phone send all messages to voicemail during working hours.
If you live in a noisy household or neighborhood, consider a set of sound-cancelling headphones so you can truly work in peace. You can also invest in a good white-noise machine to replace distracting sounds with soothing ones, or run a small fan for the same effect.
For more tips on how to make working from home a productive and convenient experience or for help organizing your home-office environment visit In Order to Succeed’s website.
Now that summer is upon us and our children are off from school we have the pleasure and the pain associated with lots of free time. Although my 13-year-old has times throughout the summer where her schedule is booked with camps, classes, and structured events, there are those wide gaps where she has the freedom to choose what her day will look like. Her schedule is solidly booked during the school year, so summer is an opportunity for her to choose what to do during her downtime or to choose to do nothing at all and just relax.
Handle it Gently
Without being overbearing but at the same time wanting to create a sense of objectives, I sat down with my daughter to discuss the importance of her mapping out the next few months so that she makes the most of her summer break.
At the end of our efforts, we had developed a Google doc for her to complete that asked for the following considerations:
We asked her to set limits on the amount of time she felt appropriate for her to be connecting on social media or browsing the Internet, watching videos, or playing games.
We then asked her to determine what reading assignments or other school-related assignments she needs to complete over the summer and also pick out some books that she plans to read that are not part of her required reading. Similarly, we asked her to list other academic-related tasks that she will complete.
Another area that we felt would be helpful, was for her to identify the friends who she wants to connect with over the summer and perhaps write down times that she knows they will be in town or away. This would make it easier when we want to schedule and plan things or have spur of the moment play dates.
Take advantage of the time off
Summertime is a great opportunity when extra time enables us to try new things or work on improving things that we already do. With this in mind we asked for her to think about ways in which she may spend time learning new skills, trying out a new sport, or doing something that’s a little out of the ordinary and that she wouldn’t generally have the chance to do during the school year.
We then asked her to think of volunteer opportunities that she would be interested in participating in such as caring for animals at the Humane Society or being volunteer tutor or camp counselor to younger children.
There are also chores and family responsibilities we expect of her. Having those listed with frequency and times and when they need to be done is extremely helpful. This way she knows how much time there is for work and for play.
Continue after Summer is Over
Once our summer game plan is completed we add target dates and reminders on the calendar so that in addition to scheduled camps, theater productions, and taekwondo classes, our child has some reminders and a framework that she can use to navigate the goals that she has set for herself. Hopefully, our summer checklist and a calendar schedule will ensure that these activities and plans actually happen.
With all this said, my goal is not to overbook or over-stimulate her during the summer vacation but rather to keep her from falling into an area of too much time with not much happening. Left to their own devices, it’s easy for our children, (just like it is for us) to lose track of time and spend endless hours on social media and idly staring at computers and televisions.
To optimally plan for the summer, I developed a tool to guide us which you can access via the below link. I hope you and your family find that it facilitates your children’s time, activities and priorities!
As the end of the school year approaches we know to anticipate end of term projects and final exams. As parents and former students ourselves we understand that along with these increased demands comes stress and the disruption to normal routines. These changes can be particularly unsettling for your student and your family. While it is ultimately up to your child to figure out which practices work best for them to keep up with the current situation of things, you too can contribute your quota to their drive for success.
Students need a balanced environment to thrive, more so at this time when their senses are stoked, and nerves rattled. As a mom or dad, who’s aiming to be supportive, fostering a conducive environment that functions as a place of refuge – so to speak, is one of the most essential steps you can take to complement your son or daughter’s efforts towards success.
The First Part of Creating an Organized Environment is as You Might Have Guessed – Getting Organized!
The notion of final exams and its attendant complexities can mount pressure on your student and cause them to be disorganized. It’s not unusual to see your child’s room muddled in a heap of clutter, and while this can be justified as stemming from a lack of time, it is actually unhealthy and known to cause a significant drop in productivity because it in very literal terms, muddle the brain’s ability to perform optimally. As a parent, this is where you step in. Help your child create schedules and timetables that reinforce a balance between work, play and positive social and environmental interaction. Sure, they may be trying to rack up extra study time to cover all aspects of their syllabuses, but that doesn’t mean everything else should be relegated to the back burner.
Eating Healthy Requires Preparation
A nutritious and balanced diet is the body’s own octane booster to heightened performance. Fats are linked to a higher incidence of aggression, depression and heart disease. To prevent the onset of these conditions (which are already a risk given the heightened levels of stress), it is essential that you enlighten and educate your family to the dangers of an unhealthy diet. Keeping your home stocked with an assortment of nutritional foods and snacks that they enjoy is also super important.
Moderate the Tech Exposure
Technology can be potentially detrimental to your kids and adult children, most especially when there’s a need to focus and burn the midnight candles, and there is research to corroborate this fact. Back in the days, study time was ‘study time’ there were no mobile phones, no notifications or calls to put students off. Today mobile phones and computers are required for most assignments. They are integral part of the study environment but along with them comes unwanted distractions and noise. That’s not to say this is entirely nocuous but the key to technology (as is with most other parts of life) is moderation. Limit just how long your kids can be tethered to their technology or television and place an enforceable embargo on how much time they spend on their devices. Your kids should know that time spent online is valuable time – their efforts should be directed at making the most use of it.
In addition to these, don’t forget the importance of positive reinforcements. Your child needs all the encouragement he/she can get. So while you go about tuning the environment, don’t forget to rub it in with bits of the ‘you can do it’ and the ‘keep focused.’
To learn more about how to creating an organized home environment that enhances student performance on final projects and exams, please email or call us today!
A New Job
First off, congratulations! You’ve landed a new job and are now faced with so many new opportunities to grow professionally. Of course it is important to prove your abilities from the start, so it is easy to let your drive to succeed at work take over your life. To succeed in your career though, it is also essential to maintain a healthy distance from work when tending to your personal life. No one can focus solely on work without eventually crashing. Consider these tips to best balance your personal and professional life.
Coming out of the Gate
Starting a new job can be exciting and also a bit scary. The key to not getting overwhelmed is remembering why you were hired in the first place. Trust your knowledge and ability, and then work hard.
- Do your research. Learn as much about the company and clients as you can before starting. Having a knowledge base will allow you to become integrated more quickly.
- Come with ideas. Use the expertise that got you hired to contribute meaningful suggestions from the start.
- Be ambitious, but also respectful. This goes hand-in-hand with new ideas. Consider yourself as an asset (you are!) who has the potential to change the company for the better. Keep in mind though that other employees who have been around longer may feel uncomfortable with straying from the status-quo.
Productivity at Its Best
Keeping the mentality that while you are at work, you’ll only do work will help you excel each day. While of course life gets in the way, it’s all about setting priorities. Sometimes you may be forced from work in the case of a family emergency, illness, or accident. Everyone has been there and should be understanding. Aside from these rare and unfortunate situations though, your focus at work should be on your job. Don’t spend valuable work time on things like checking personal emails or checking off to-dos outside of work. Spending your workday focused and active will allow you to be as productive as possible.
What should you do at the end of the workday? Leave it there! Just as you should try your best to keep your personal life out of work, try to leave your career at the office and focus on family, friends and yourself in your free time. This is a difficult task as it is becoming increasingly common to work from home or have a more flexible schedule than a 9-5 workday. Even if you are in a non-traditional work situation, you can still designate work-time and personal-time. During your personal time, unplug. Don’t allow emails and alerts get in the way of your family or me-time.
While it is impossible to completely separate work and leisure time, working to accomplish this to the best of your ability will help you feel more well-rounded and balanced.
Marie Kondo, author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” has redefined organization. She works on “the metric of joy.” Ask yourself, “has this item sparked joy for me recently?” If the answer is no, remove it from your life. You’ll soon find yourself with a decluttered home surrounded by only meaningful possessions.
The transition into fall is the perfect time to try out the KonMari method in your home. Soon it will be cold and the holidays are approaching; take time to pack away everything summer and take on the fall and winter at peace and in control of your life.
Here are the top10 areas in you life that would benefit from the KonMari method in this time of transition:
- Clothing: To prepare for autumn, try KonMari’s method while switching over you closet. Put all of your clothes- winter and summer- in the center of the room, then go through each article. Does it spark joy? Then pack away your favorite warm-weather clothes to make room for your favorite cozy sweaters. Begin this fall season with a more manageable, meaningful wardrobe.
- Garage: Make room for the snow blower! Take the time to pack away summer gardening tools and children’s beach toys and bring to access winter essentials like snow-removal tools, wood-chopping tools, etc. Be sure to get rid of items that cause unnecessary clutter to create an accessible space.
- Office: Create a peaceful place where you can think and work clearly, free of clutter. Clear out inboxes, and create organized files on your computer. Try digitalizing your physical files and then shredding documents that are taking up space in your office. Be sure to back up all files!
- Kitchen pantries: Get rid of that blue icing your bought for your child’s birthday cake three years ago. Go through your non-perishables and get rid of anything you know you’ll never use. Make room to stock up on soups and other foods you will be eating more of come the colder weather.
- Coats/Shoes: Winter coats and boots are bulky, so it is easy to have a stuffed and messy closet when it is not kept organized. Go through your coat closet and trash or donate anything that you didn’t use last winter, or anything that your children have grown out of. If your closet if full of old, outdated coats, treat yourself to a new one if you can afford it and get rid of that puffy jacket you still have from college.
- Children’s Toys: Christmas is around the corner… which means a new wave of clutter for those with children. Take the time now to go through your child’s toys and donate those that haven’t been played with in some time. You will be much more at peace later when new toys are added to the playroom.
- Home decorations: It’s almost time to put out your favorite leaf-patterned table cloth! Everyone loves to make their house festive for the season, but these decorations collect over time and we often find ourselves with more than we can use. If decorations are left in the storage bin during a season, get rid of them. Only keep those that spark joy in your life and contribute to your home décor.
- Christmas tree ornaments:Tree ornaments are their own separate category because so many families have more than they can count. If you leave half of your decoration in the bin or your tree is falling over due to the weight of so many ornaments, take some time to minimize your collection. This is a difficult task as tree ornaments tend to be particularly sentimental, but having a decluttered home will help you better enjoy the holiday season. Do this now before Christmas so that when it comes time to decorate the tree, you are not tempted to keep every one.
- Car: Go through your backseat and remove the bags, jackets, and trash left behind from passengers, particularly children. Autumn is a busy time, so give yourself some peace in the car while you’re driving from work to children’s activities.
- Papers and files: Take the time to go through all of the papers that have gathered on your desk or counters. Create an organized and protected space to keep anything important like medical and financial files. It is a good idea to also digitalize these files. Then get rid of anything that will not be referred to later like flyers, receipts (unless they document a large and important purchase, in which case keep), and old schoolwork.
Why Declutter Your Life?
We are surrounded by things, clothing, books, papers, mementos, but much of our time is not spent enjoying those things. Rather we feel cluttered and overwhelmed by the space they take up and how we can’t find anything.
The concept of decluttering your life boils down to one question: what are the things that spark joy in you? Once you can minimize the possessions that do not, calmness begins to take their place. Instead of constantly feeling frustrated by cleaning and organizing, a huge amount of time is freed for other pursuits. Imagine whatever it is that gives you peace or brings you joy. If you want to have more time for it, remove the unimportant things that are taking up valuable time, energy and thought.
What Does The KonMari Method Require?
Get a copy of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” and begin this life-changing process. Following the steps in this book will quickly lead to a home that is more organized and more reflective of your authentic self.
The first step to the KonMari Method is to picture the end result. Envision exactly what will bring you peace. The book then takes you through categories of possessions rather than rooms. Each category is pared down to what you will keep through a series of steps. After you have discarded items there are specific ways in which to organize and place the possessions that are left.
The KonMari Method is a studied approach that will declutter your life and bring you peace and calm. It is worth reading the book and trying it out in your home. Whether you wish to work through one category to start or take a comprehensive approach, In Order To Succeed is a full service firm with professionals who can assist you in getting your home and your life organized, the KonMari way!
Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” – Allen Saunders
24 hours can be a daunting limit for any average human being, but especially when you’re someone that wears several different hats and juggles many roles each day. You probably find yourself running on fumes more often then not, and even making understated jokes about how there is just “never enough time to get it all done”. We are all searching for ways to make the most efficient use of the limited hours we’ve been given in the hopes of being able to spend some precious moments doing what we enjoy with the people we love. It’s not easy being all things to all people, so we at In Order to Succeed® have done some of the research for you to help automate some of those monotonous every day tasks to simplify your life a bit. Automation done right can significantly increase your productivity, as well as help build wealth and maintain a happier life. Now that the summer is coming to a close, the kids are going back to school, and the ebb and flow of every day responsibilities are gaining momentum again, it is good to start implementing some of these best practices before life gets more overwhelming. Even with these recommended tools that will assist with clearing space in your busy schedule, you must also remember to set parameters, plan ahead, and focus on your goals. It is easy to get caught up in the anxiety of the ever-present stimulations of multitasking, media updating, email responding, over-booking, over-working, and constantly striving to achieve. It’s time to recharge your batteries a bit and make space for you to relax and be present.
Resting your mind and body is the first step all do-ers need to establish as a primary priority to keep the life/work flow moving forward and productive. Not only are you hindering your focus and concentration by trying to squeeze in more time to get things done, but your jeopardizing the quality of your work, relationships, mood, and overall health. Keeping your electronics on to answer “just one more” email, or do “5 more minutes” of research when you should be disconnecting and giving your mind a break, also suppresses the production of melatonin (the natural sleep hormone your body generates when it’s time to go to bed). With a non-stop mentality (as many of us are guilty of), you are eventually going to be running on empty and crash. That’s never a good outcome, and defeats the whole purpose of working so hard in the end. Taking the time to honor and respect what helps you perform at your highest level is of utmost importance. When it’s time to turn down for the evening, listen to what your body is telling you and give in to the sandman.
With that being said, we understand that it’s easier giving that advice than it is to really take it, so set up a better organized structure, block your time, and prioritize so that the external craziness doesn’t effect your racing mind as much. Having an organized system for your day, and a decluttered environment both at home and work, relieves a lot of the tension that you feel when your in the midst of the chaos. Take it from our team of professionals, we see countless clients’ lives improve just by reaching out and asking for a little assistance once in a while to get the job started, and even more so getting it all done. From stacks of health bills and home utility invoices, to messy closets and randomized placement of dishes in the kitchen, the littlest bit of order can go a long way.
IDENTIFY & ACKNOWLEDGE
We recommend first identifying where the points of disorder in your life are first, so that you can then execute regaining control one step at a time. Keep in mind, this process is all to help you relieve stress, not add it, so make sure you are looking at what there is to do with a realistic perspective and then map out your plan of attack. We find that blocking your day into segments (and even your personal projects) can help manage your own expectations, and help remind you to pull back when you are spending too much time on one task. Not everything goes as planned, even when you’ve planned it to a T, so it is good to have the rest of your agenda items mentally organized before the inevitable hiccups come into play. You can never be too prepared, so try your best and prepare for the worst.
CLEAR OUT THE CLUTTER
Rule of thumb: if you haven’t worn it, used it, needed it, or wanted it in over a year.. it’s time to part ways. There is a bit of anxiety that always comes with letting go of things that you “might” use. If it’s paper, do yourself a favor and clear it all out! There are so many brilliant systems that will save everything important for you to access without taking up space on your desk. Evernote, our personal favorite digital filing cabinet, will do exactly that for you. Scan your documents, receipts, photos, notes, or bills right into Evernote by using the app itself or any other document recognition scanning program, and then shred .. shred .. shred the clutter away! You will never lose your files, and you can organize them however you see fit to access at a later time.
Now begins the autopilot phase. How much easier do you think your every day life would be if you did not have to handle manually taking care of each task, may it be purchasing groceries, maintaining your household, scheduling your and your family members’ activities, remembering birthdays? The list goes on and on! These are a few automation tools we have researched to help these simple yet time consuming tasks run on their own without soaking up your precious time:
- Amazon is a lifeline to some of us running around without a second to spare. Most people, while using Amazon regularly for countless types of purchases, don’t know about one of their best features… SUBSCRIBE AND SAVE! Select the items you purchase regularly (like household essentials), and then set how often you’d like them to be delivered. Once you do that, you don’t have to think about last minute orders or getting caught without toilet paper in a private moment. Amazon will schedule your shipments automatically, and on top of it, subscribers will get up to 15% off of the products as well as free shipping! Saving time? Check! Saving money? Check! Freeing up mental space? CHECK!
- Don’t just stop there. If you’re like us, grocery shopping is rarely the in-and-out errand that we always hope it will be. It inevitably ends up consuming hours of your day each time you embark on the adventure. Have you ever thought about cutting back some of the time you dedicate to driving to and from the store, waiting in lines, perusing the layout of the land, adding countless things you didn’t intend on purchasing, loading up your car, and carrying the items into your home? It might be beneficial to try something different if you’re allocating time you don’t have towards accomplishing this fiasco every week or two. Many highly populated areas in the country have a national grocery store nearby that offers delivery services, and if not, there are countless other services that serve your area regardless. Try a company like Peapod, FreshDirect, or ShopFoodEx (which serves all 50 states), just to name a few. Read more about all of your options here in this LifeHacker article: How Shopping for Groceries Online Saves Time, Money, and Hassle.
- There is nothing worse than losing a bill or realizing you haven’t paid an invoice too late and then getting slapped with fee because of it! It can be tough transitioning into an automated world at times because you’re not handling the physical writing of a check or placing the call to handle the balance yourself. On the flip side, setting your bills on auto-pay is a safety net that is truly priceless. Automatic online billing services can potentially prevent from damaging your credit or wasting more time and money that could be used elsewhere more desirable and enjoyable with your friends and family. We recommend giving it a shot if you haven’t already. You will eliminate the extra stress of remembering to pay each and every bill you are responsible for, such as banks, credit cards, utility bills, auto payments, etc. When you are working 60-hour 5-day weeks, you cannot afford to lose any of the time you DO have to yourself to instead have to spend it tracking down dates and providers to be paying your hard earned money to on top of it all. Wouldn’t you agree?? This way, you will ensure you never miss an important payment deadline that could very negatively effect you and your future.. it’s an easy choice to give yourself peace of mind.
These options are just scraping the surface of what types of options that are out there that assist with eliminating the arduous processes you spend a huge bulk of your time on without even knowing it! Our team at In Order to Succeed® specializes in helping our clients manually organize and structure their lives, as well as maintain various diverse systems that free up their precious time. If you’re interested in learning more about our services or how we can lend a hand in freeing up your busy schedule, you can take a look at what some of our past and current clients are saying about us on our website.
Being organized parents doesn’t just make your lives easier, it also makes your child’s life easier. Having systems in place both makes for a less-rushed life, saves time, helps your family avoid squabbles, and teaches everyone valuable tools that can be applied elsewhere in life. Here are five ways to be more organized parents across all the many areas of your life.
Have A Command Center
Every family should have a command center: a place where everyone, including parents, figure out what is going on for the day or week, leave important paperwork, get supplies, and write down items for a shopping list. A good command center includes:
- Color-coded calendars of activities.
- A list of chores including who does what and due dates.
- A place to leave paperwork that needs to be filled out (tests that have to be signed, field trips) and to place them once they’re ready to go.
- Shopping lists.
For many parents visions of Pinterest-inspired projects in bright colors and multiple calendars are a turnoff — you work hard to make your home a beautiful, peaceful place. Your command center does not have to destroy the aesthetic of your home. It’s more about having a place where families can check in and focus for the day and week. Our favorite idea? Turn a closet into a command center to keep it out of site. You can add a lamp or stick up lights and use the back of the door for extra room. Get kids into the habit of checking it each morning, day after school, and at a designated time in the evening.
Organized Parents Have Analog Backups
We’re not suggesting you ditch your smartphone. Not at all! But having an analog method of keeping track of things is great for when you lose, drop, or forget to charge your phone. It’s also a quick and easy way to keep track of things when you’re in an area without service. There are two separate ways we recommend. First, a planner like the one that goes with Evernote (why not sticks with what works?) or a simple, beautiful planner like the ones made by Ink + Volt is a lifesaving tool. Not into a planner? Even just a simple notebook where you list your to do’s and other thoughts and then cross them off when finished is a great way to keep track no matter what kind of access you have to your phone.
Get Kids Involved
Children should be a part of your overall organization plan. This teaches them good habits from a young age while taking a tremendous amount off of your plate. Organized parents include children to develop their sense of responsibility, make them better guests and students, and empower them to do for themselves. Here are ways organized parents involve the kids:
- Assign age appropriate organizational tasks like packing lunches, checking the activities calendar and putting items in a good spot to grab them in the morning, placing papers awaiting signatures in the right spot (and picking them up).
- Talk to kids about what they enjoy and how they can help. If you have a child who likes to write, make them in charge of organizing a grocery list. Have a kid who enjoys cooking — they can handle lunches. There’s no reason for everyone to do everything and by delegating organizational tasks based on interest you’ll avoid traffic jams and keep kids engaged.
- Get Into A Routine. Everyone loves a routine — this is why parents who devote time to sleep-training their children end up getting more rest. Organized parents have times of day that they check and do things and kids should be brought into this to develop good habits.
Develop A Network
Humble bragging and competing for “Most Busy” have their place for other people. Smart parents, though, know that there is something to be said for how to having time for oneself, time as a couple, and time as a family. This can only be done by developing a good network of friends, neighbors, and family. When your child has an activity get to know other parents and set up carpools. Talk to friends or family with children of a similar age and schedule date nights where you drop the kids for a few hours (or overnight) and return the favor. Everyone wants a break and the best way to do it is find others who feel the same way and work together to schedule them.
Organizing shouldn’t take over your life and organized parents know that prioritization is the #1 trick to being organized. That means that a huge part of your organizational routine should be determining and focusing on priorities. Here are the best places to start thinking about what’s really important.
- Social Engagements. It’s okay to say no to things if you feel you’re stretched too thin. Instead of being the person who says, “Maybe” (stressing out your host) and then doesn’t show or, worse, saying yes and not showing simply go through all of your invites each week and decide which matter and which you have no desire/time to do. It’s okay to say no!
- What things are the most important? Rank what matters and what you hate doing and you might discover interesting things. We had a client who had a gorgeous garden but when she thought about other interests and took time to rank things she discovered that she really didn’t enjoy it. Delegating or downright eliminating can free up time for other pursuits. It’s okay to give things up; even if it’s just for more play time with your children.
Organized parents find they breathe easier and enjoy life more than their disorganized counterparts. While things will always come up, it’s easier to manage life when you are organized.
Get Control of What Seems Uncontrollable
Let’s face it, you may have a beautiful desk, color-coded planner and pristine car, but chances are there is a disaster hidden where most people are unlikely to see it: your email inbox. At In Order To Succeed® we believe that an organized email boosts productivity, eliminates stress, and makes for a happier, healthier you. Start applying our tips for organizing your email and watch how quickly you start to feel more in control.
The Overflowing Inbox
Email. Some years ago it was primarily used as a go to method reserved for work communications. For most of us, the daily information flood of sales notices, social media updates, newsletters, and marketing emails now make up a significant portion of our inboxes. It can get out of control very quickly with messages going unread, undeleted, and haphazardly marked and tagged. The easiest way to get control of your email and begin working toward achieving the elusive inbox zero, is to begin to simplify it.
Plan An Unsubscribing Session
One of the problems with email is that we all sign up for mailing lists we’re just not interested in. Maybe it’s to get a coupon, maybe it’s because we enjoyed a few articles on a site. Whatever the reason, it’s time to kick those space-hogging subscriptions to the curb. Pour a cup of your favorite beverage at a time when you can give at least 90 minutes attention to nothing but your inbox. Open it and scan through just for subscriptions. Do not open anything else, ignore the beeps and leave your other tabs closed (it’s tough, we know!). Open each email and immediately scroll to the bottom where you’ll find the teeny font where you can unsubscribe and DO IT. If you haven’t opened and used the information in the subscription you’re not going to. You don’t need to know that someone else pinned a recipe similar to yours or what the specials are at Target — there’s an app for that. Only keep subscriptions to the emails you open and actually read.
After your 90-minute unsubscribing marathon, make it a habit to open, read, and delete all of your subscription emails. Anything from yesterday that is unread tomorrow should be unsubscribed from going forward. If you subscribe to something for a coupon, once it comes IMMEDIATELY go into the email and unsubscribe.
Avoid The Siren Song of Email Managing Software
At some point I signed up for a service that would roll up my emails into one. Instead of a ton of subscriptions I would get a daily email with all of those emails. And I ignored them. Services that say they are here for organizing your email often sound better than they are. The key is to only subscribe to things you will actually read, recognize those you don’t, and get rid of them.
Avoid Notification Emails
Many apps include an option for an email notification. But do you really need an email every time someone comments on a photo you liked on Facebook? No. Your notifications come up when you log onto various websites so unless it’s something very important (like major breaking news, your bank, or a job search site) stop the notification emails. One of the easiest ways to start organizing your email is to declutter your inbox!
Set up Filters
If you still want to receive and review the social network notifications, just not be notified every minute, create a filter and rule on your email platform to identify incoming messages that are generated by your network sites and give them a label. You can set up a rule to then have them redirected into an archive folder to review at a later time. This way, you can still keep up to date with your social news and events, but they are out of your inbox.
Stop BCCing Yourself
The last bit of email advice we have is to stop blind copying yourself. Your sent email file is a valuable thing but the blind copy clutters the heck out of your inbox. Just don’t clean out your sent mail so that you have your copy if needed. It will be nearly impossible to feel like you’re organizing your email if it’s overflowing with messages you’ve sent to yourself. Added tip: don’t print emails. You don’t need hard copies of your emails — they take up space and add to the clutter. Take a screen shot of important information and add to your phone or write what you need into your planner.
Read, Delete, Repeat
Rather than keeping your email open all day or having notifications for it on your phone, only open your email twice a day: when you start working, and when you’re winding down. 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. if you work a traditional work day. In addition to being harder to manage, multi-tasking just doesn’t work and getting distracted by the constant beep and buzz of emails that likely don’t matter isn’t helping your productivity. If someone needs you immediately they will call or text.
When you settle in to check your email, do so with intention — this is essential to organizing your email. Open your email inbox and nothing else. Skim and select those you know you won’t read and delete them without opening. Then start with your least recent email (the first to come in after you checked before ending work). Read it, do what you need to with pertinent information, and then delete it. Scared to delete? Here’s how to get comfortable with it:
- If an email has a meeting request that is linked to your calendar simply accept or decline. It’s now in your calendar or not.
- If an email has a meeting request that is not linked, assess whether the time/location works, put it in your calendar, respond and delete.
- Contact info? Add to your contacts and delete.
- Project info? If you have a hard file, print and place it in. If you are paperless, screenshot the necessary info and delete.
Once your inbox is empty, close your email and don’t look again until your day is unwinding. Eventually you’ll get into such a habit that it won’t bother you to see something at 5pm that came in at 1pm and wasn’t all that important. If you can’t act right away create a follow up folder and go back to it within 48 hours.
For other ideas to achieve inbox zero, check out these helpful apps that can assist you and make the process a little less daunting. Here is a good list.
In Order To Succeed® has a wealth of talent and experience in assisting clients get their digital spaces under control. Let us help you — organizing your email is the easiest place to start. Once you have that down you’ll be excited to see what else you can accomplish with that newfound time.
What Sparks Joy?
Unless you’ve been unplugged for a while, chances are you’ve heard the phrase, “spark joy” recently. Maybe on a morning show where a woman had all of her clothing on a bed and asked each pair of jeans, “Does this spark joy?” This is part of a movement to help declutter your life using the KonMari Method. What does it look like to declutter your life? And what’s the KonMari Method? Here is some insight into the movement that is taking over the nation, the movement brought about through Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”.
Why Declutter Your Life?
We are surrounded by things. Clothing, books, papers, mementos. But much of our time is not spent enjoying those things. Rather it’s grumbling about the space they take up, how no matter what we do our spaces appear cluttered, and how we can’t find anything. Even the most organized home with gorgeous bins and baskets is likely held hostage by these things. The concept of decluttering your life is one that boils down to one question: what are the things that spark joy in you? Once you can answer this and minimize your possessions, there is a calmness that takes hold and a huge amount of time freed for other pursuits rather than constantly cleaning, organizing, and frustration.
Imagine getting through the list of books you want to read. Imagine being able to go for a walk in nature each day. Imagine whatever it is that gives you peace or brings you joy. If you want to have time for it, the way to get it is to remove the things that are taking up valuable time, energy and thought.
What Does The KonMari Method Require?
The KonMari Method doesn’t require you to make a single purchase. Nor does it require any course or seminar. Instead what it requires is a copy of the book which is available in hard copy (hard- and paperback, eBook, audiobook) and a willingness to allow the process to move exactly as KonMari explains in the book. It will make most people uncomfortable at the outset, but once followed it quickly leads to a home that is more organized and more reflective of your authentic self, where you are only surrounded by only those things that bring you joy.
KonMari Method At-A-Glance
The KonMari Method takes you through categories of possessions rather than rooms. Each category is pared down to what you will keep through a series of steps. After you have discarded items there are specific ways in which to organize and place the possessions that are left.
Picture The End Result
The first step is to picture where you want to be at the end of your tidying marathon. One client of Kondo’s wanted to start a meditation practice. She wanted a clean space in her bedroom, which was covered in clothes, where she could light incense, practice, and then take a hot bath with candles. What is your end result you want? What is the thing that would give you joy?
The driving outcome of the Konmari Method is to strip your life down to the basic things that give you joy, remove the things that sadden and distract you, and spend your time on pursuits that bring you joy. Visualize what you want and keep it in your mind when the clutter creeps into your life.
While you could apply the method in different ways, Marie Kondo believes that following through the recommended steps in the correct order is the only way to end the process organized and without need for future organization. She is firm that you must not change the process to fit your personality but instead be strict and follow it exactly to avoid retreating to be bad habits. The list of categories and order in which items should be addressed:
Kondo warns that starting the KonMari method with mementos is a recipe for disaster and that the only way to guarantee success is to start with clothing and follow the process. Mementos come with a significant emotional attachment — we keep them to remember an meaningful event. With clothing, it is easier to assess quickly and move on to the next item. Starting with clothes and moving down the list trains you to be ready to approach the difficult assessment of papers and personal mementos.
The Metric of Joy
The first step of each category is to gather every item of that category in one place and then begin to pick up each item, individually, and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” The idea being that there is no reason to be surrounded by things that do not spark joy. In the end, a dwelling space that is only filled with items that make you joyful means you are able to look around feel at peace. Items that do not spark joy should be discarded for donated. Items may not be kept because they were expensive, because they might fit one day, or because they were given to us by someone special. For those items we hold onto for reasons other than sparking joy, we thank them for whatever they brought us and then toss them on the discard pile. Items that are able to be donated should be, with items that are no longer useful thrown out. It will amaze you how many things you’re holding onto that don’t ever get worn and simply take up room. Time to declutter the Kon Mari way.
After going through a category, the KonMari Method has steps for how every type of item is organized. Even folding clothes has a process. The KonMari Method shares how to fold shirts, arranging them in such a way that they can be stored upright in drawers like files. This allows them to be seen, selected and put away neatly and also frees up closet space, which are often far too cluttered. Kondo goes so far as to teach students how to fold socks in a new way: rather than bunched up socks are lovingly folded, giving them a sense of rest. Clothes can relax and breathe while stored and in a sense thanked for serving you well while they work for you. This can make future release of items easier because you know that you lovingly cared for them while they were in your possession.
The KonMari Method is a studied approach that will declutter your life and bring you peace and calm. It is worth reading the book and starting with clothes, to see how quickly your space will begin to transform. And from there it is easy to apply the method to all aspects of your life. The benefits feed upon themselves. Whether you wish to work through one category to start or take a comprehensive approach, In Order To Succeed is a full service firm with professionals who can assist you in getting your home and your life organized, the KonMari way!