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You have enough to remember over the course of a day. Forgetting an important task can be the source of a great deal of stress. Not remembering to pay a bill on time can affect your financial profile. Forgetting to pick up your child from an after school activity can make the child feel anxious and cause you to feel guilty. Forgetting a friend or family member’s birthday can make you feel as if you have to overcompensate to make up for your actions. All these experiences can have quantifiable real world consequences. In addition to impacting your finances, relationships, and self-perception, these situations can be very taxing on your energy level and motivation. While many of us are in the habit of writing things down, most of us overlook the many ways writing can help us save our energy and contribute to our sense of peace of mind.
Writing for “Energy Conservation”
One of the most obvious ways writing can help you save your energy is by freeing up mental real estate you would otherwise allocate to actively trying to remember tasks and other important information. Sometimes, people who are not already in the habit of regularly writing down daily reminders may feel intimidated by the thought of organizing their thoughts and activities on paper. In reality, writing can take whatever form is most helpful to the individual. To-do lists, calendars, and notebooks are helpful starting points that can be customized to meet the individual’s needs.
Writing for Mental Clarity
Journaling is a very flexible, practical activity that can help us feel renewed when we may otherwise feel mentally drained. Using a journal should not be stressful. Therefore, format, regularity of writing sessions, and nature of content may vary widely depending on the writer. A journal is the perfect place for making “pros and cons” lists when making decisions, drawing brain maps when planning, freestyle writing, and simply making personal notes. The vicious cycle of replaying an incident in your mind or trying to think through a conflict can be mentally and emotionally draining. Physically writing these ideas down and working through them on paper can have the effect of freeing your mind and curbing the temptation to spend hours withdrawn and obsessing over recurring thoughts. The act of writing these thoughts down can create a sense of relief that is similar to the way you may feel after talking to a trustworthy friend.
Writing for Improved Mental Health
The process of writing, whether for practical organizing reasons or for mental and emotional clarity, forces us to slow down and deliberate. When implementing writing as a strategy to help you remain organized or to remember important information, your brain is better able to retain information you have written down. Writing for mental and emotional health allows us to take a step back and process our experiences, which can ultimately help us make better decisions and feel less inclined to unnecessarily hold on to excess mental stress.
Sure enough, after I posted my Day 3 review of the Calm brand magnesium supplement, it worked for me…I think. I was up very late on Day 4, so I wasn’t fully sure if it was the supplement that kicked in when I finally went to bed. But I definitely suddenly felt tired…in an agitated way after taking the supplement. That forced me to go to bed because I felt grumpy. The next day, I was unsure whether the supplement had taken effect or if my body had suddenly caught up with my mind and I was simply feeling the natural effect.
I decided to give the supplement another try on Day 4. That time, I was almost 100% certain the supplement had taken effect. But, again, the type of sleep I experienced wasn’t “calm.” It was a grumpy toddler-like urge to sleep. The product has overwhelmingly positive reviews, and most people report that it helps them feel calm and sleep in a more instant, relaxing way. Part of the issue could have been that I was attempting to stay up late to work on projects when I very well should have gone to bed. I will be giving this product another try at some point, maybe tonight as my sleep pattern has improved as a result of being more diligent about following my schedule. Stay tuned for more updates as I’m not fully ready to recommend this product for insomnia as the sleep I got after taking it wasn’t exactly…well…pleasant. Therefore, I think I’m going to test it further.
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It’s a new year. We all, more or less, want to be healthier, wealthier, wiser, and more aerodynamic. I’ve highlighted a selection of productivity apps that will help you keep that fresh new set of resolutions you’ve recently made. All apps are available on Android and iOS.
Addicted to self-help books? Or perhaps you may simply feel like your self could use a loooot of help. No judgment. The Blinkist app may be for you! Blinkist works with non-fiction books and delivers a 15-minute audio or written summary. The app contains more than 2,000 titles by leading self-help authors in categories that include Personal Growth and Self-Improvement, Management and Leadership, Psychology, Communication and Social Skills, and Motivation and Inspiration.
This one is for my entrepreneurs who use social media. Buffer is a social media management service that can be helpful if you manage multiple accounts. In addition to allowing the user to schedule posts, Buffer also supplies detailed analytics on Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, and other networks. Users may manage up to three accounts free of charge and schedule up to 10 posts per account. There is a premium option which allows for more posts and accounts.
Derived from the phrase, “If this, then that,” IFTTT allows users to automate repetitive tasks. The app can message a friend or family member when you approach their location (useful when picking someone up after work or school or notifying a roommate or spouse that you are on the way home). IFTTT can also work with smart home features to program lighting to turn on upon your arrival and off when you depart for work each day. The “if this, then that” phrase refers to the app’s ability to program tasks that are dependent upon certain conditions (i.e. if I’m not home by 4, then text my sister to say I’m running late).
A super-charged email app, Newton has built-in tracking capabilities, a “Send Later” option, and can even remind you to follow up with clients. The app can also keep your inbox tidy by weeding out newsletters and other extraneous mail.
This app may work well for people who are interested in using the Pomodoro method to increase their focus. The app allows you to write your plans for the day and allocate time for each task. When it is time to complete a task, the app directs you to work in 25-minute timed intervals of complete focus followed by 5-minute breaks until the task is done.
Similar to post-it notes, Google Keep allows you to post digital notes on your phone, which will remain visible until you have completed the task and no longer need the reminder.
An app that is geared toward habit modification, Momentum utilizes Jerry Seinfeld’s “Don’t Break the Chain” strategy to help users build new, productive habits. Each time the user completes a specified healthy behavior he or she would like to turn into a habit, the app adds a new square to form a chain on the display. The chain remains on display via the “Today view” screen and is visually satisfying as it increases with each successful completion of a positive habit-forming activity.
Before downloading a new app, be sure to think about your ultimate goal and evaluate how well the app will support you in accomplishing it. The new year just got started, and there are tons of apps under the sun. Stay tuned for more reviews to help you live your best life by staying organized and productive!
We often commit to things for which we lack passion. We take jobs that aren’t in our intended career field because we need to make ends meet. We spend time in less-than-ideal settings with an incompatible social group because it’s “better than being alone.” We go on dates with people who probably aren’t appropriate matches from the outset because “you never know who will be the one (…debatable…you can often tel who is NOT the one).” We remain in dysfunctional relationships of all varieties because “it could be worse.” This sort of thinking has its time and place. Unfortunately, for many of us, it is often applied virtually all the time in many of the wrong places.
Choosing “in the meantime” situations is only appropriate when combined with an exit plan that leads the individual closer to his or her ideal goal. “In the meantime” is not an adequate substitute for the lack of a goal or plan. While it is true that plans are sometimes delayed or even derailed, an exit strategy must also be malleable enough to accommodate the unexpected hand life may sometimes deal. Otherwise, there may be a great temptation to remain focused on the immediate term instead of looking out onto the horizon and making plans according to the terrain that stretches forth. It is when a person submits to the temptation to remain focused on the immediate term that the risk of encountering long-term lack of fulfillment sets in.
Unfulfilled Life Ambitions Often Lead to a Vicious Cycle
Remaining in an “in the meantime” situation that is not congruent with your overall desire for your life may seem comfortable at first, but eventually, the effects of not actively working toward your goals will emerge in other areas. Working a steady job, but uncompelling may pay the bills at first, but spending large chunks of time in a role that does not feed into a greater passion is oftentimes accompanied by added stress or even feelings of “numbness.” People often utilize their hard-earned income to alleviate stress and avoid numbness by pursuing other outlets, including expensive vacations, drinking, gambling, shopping, or other activities to create a greater separation from “work” during off-duty hours. There is nothing inherently wrong with leisure activities. However, knowing that you are committed to working 5 days a week in a capacity that is in conflict with your life goals can intensify the urge to get as far away from work as possible when you’re not working. The cycle becomes vicious when you realize are spending so much of your income on activities to get away from work, that you find yourself having to work more to maintain your basic, everyday needs throughout the work week (i.e. food, shelter, clothing, electricity, transportation, etc.). Entering the cycle often means having to delay your desired goals even longer.
Avoiding the Cycle of Unfulfilled Ambition
The cycle of working to make ends meet and spending the rest on activities that help us forget about work is alarmingly common among many of us. While most people mistakenly think the key to avoiding the cycle is to either be independently wealthy or very lucky, it is not only feasible for some people to avoid the pitfalls of working in an unfulfilling job altogether, but it is even possible for those who absolutely must work an “in the meantime” job and leverage it to pursue a life goal.
The Role of Detailed, Yet Flexible Planning
Plans are made and broken all the time. However, attempting to reach a desired destination without utilizing a map is the least efficient way to get there. Similar to traveling to a new restaurant or shop on an unfamiliar side of town or visiting a friend in a new city, employing the use of a “map” when working toward a goal can be very beneficial. When working to achieve career goals, an action plan or “career map” might include the level of education required to achieve the ultimate goal, schools that award the required degrees or certificates as well as their entry requirements and tuition costs. In addition to education, a plan might include related part-time jobs that will not only help cover the costs associated with achieving the goal, but also help develop skills that can be used in pursuit of the ultimate career destination. Internships and related postgraduate entry-level positions may also be included in the plan.
Planning is not only helpful when working toward a fulfilling career. “Mapping” is also effective when navigating the road to personal and relationship goals. A person who would like to dedicate more of their resources to philanthropy may wish to map out a course to working for a non-profit organization or create a detailed budget to determine how to achieve a goal of giving a certain amount to charitable organizations each month or year. An individual who wishes to allocate a certain amount of time to community service projects may start by creating a detailed schedule and determining changes that may need to be made in the interest of freeing up time to do volunteer work. When seeking new friends or a romantic relationship, mapping out shared interests you would like to have with a potential friend or partner and planning to participate in related activities is an excellent starting point for meeting like-minded people.
Whether you are feeling stagnant in your job, relationships, or any other area in your life, take a step back, evaluate where you are in relation to where you would like to go, and plan accordingly. By continuing to reassess your current whereabouts and reevaluate your plan, you will eventually end up where you would like to be.
The following infographic is a simplified supplement to Organizing Your Life 102: Reclaiming Your Time. Feel free to bookmark and print to use as a reference to help you remember the steps to setting your own schedule!
After helping New York-based clients through weekly recurring organizational coaching sessions over the years, my coaching services will now be available over the internet.
eCoaching is a monthly subscription service through which clients may work closely with me via email and Skype to devise an action plan to help them become more organized. At the start of each week, I will deliver a customized email detailing weekly steps and areas of focus to help bring about the behavioral change the client wishes to achieve. In addition to the weekly action plan, the subscription also includes unlimited email support and the option of having a bonus 30-minute Skype check-in call each week.
If you believe you may benefit from the guidance of an organizational coach, contact me today to discuss your goals!
Employee A arrives at work and immediately feels a familiar sense of dread. She sits down at her cubicle and promptly begins checking messages in her company email account. She comes across a message from her supervisor requesting that she print several documents and prepare them for the late morning department meeting. As Employee A proceeds to the printer to pick up the documents, the printer chimes to signal an empty paper tray. Employee A redirects her path to the storage closet on the other side of the office where the printer paper is stored. Upon retrieving more paper, Employee A hears the phone on her desk ring. She returns to her desk, recognizes the number as that of her supervisor and answers. Her supervisor asks whether Employee A has seen another email referencing a spreadsheet she has been tasked to create by noon. Employee A jots down a few notes regarding edits she will need to make to the spreadsheet’s layout and dutifully returns to the print station to refill the paper and to finally retrieve her documents. After returning to her desk with documents in hand, Employee A reaches for her stapler and discovers it has run out of staples. She sighs and returns to the supply closet, located across the office, and realizes she is only 15 minutes into her workday and is already beginning to feel exhausted. Employee A repeats a similar sequence of events several times for the next seven hours.
Many employees find themselves experiencing fatigue, not solely due to the extent of their workload, but also as a result of attempting to work efficiently in a disorganized setting. Overcrowded file drawers, illogical layouts, and the hunt for misplaced supplies can add up to a non-obvious losses in productivity as employees must divert their time and energy to secondary tasks.
A professional organizer who specializes in office settings can help businesses identify these “productivity vampires” and recommend solution to make the workday less taxing and more efficient for workers. By working with a professional to identify and address pain points, companies may significantly reduce worker fatigue and enable their employees to focus more of their time and energy on performing essential job duties.