Quick-Start Solutions: Simple Rescue Strategy for Rooms That Are Buried in Paperwork

Sick and tired of unorganized…*things*? Feeling overwhelmed at the thought of getting tackling that nondescript pile of stuff? I’m here to help. This exercise will help you move one non-painful, very manageable, highly productive step toward getting organized.

Problem: Help! My living room/dining room/bedroom/office/kitchen/the doghouse is overflowing with papers that are of questionable importance!

Solution: Go grab some empty file folders. If you don’t have any lying around the house, run to your nearest office supply store/drug store/grocery store…or scroll to the bottom to see some cool folders Amazon can have on your doorstep within 1 to 2 days…depending on your shipping preferences [note: affiliate links included].

If you don’t have folders right this second, you can still separate the papers into piles, but label the piles CAREFULLY, and clip the papers in each pile together using a paperclip or binder clip. Now. We’re ready to begin:

1. SET A GOAL, and determine how much paperwork you would like to clean up in your current session. Be realistic. If you know you only have the energy to work on the task for 30 minutes, set a timer for 30 minutes. If you can work for a full hour…POWER HOURRR! Let’s Go!

2. Create categories,  and label each folder according to the types of papers you have. If you can’t think of categories, try starting with these: Health, Home, Work, Finance, Bills, Leisure. Some of you may need to add a category for School. If you have kids, each child should have his or her own folder…but for starters, you can keep them all in one folder. For now. You WILL have to go back and separate everything out, though. So it’s best to just make a folder for each child if you have a massive amount of paperwork coming in from school, hobbies, etc.

3. Pick up one piece of paper. Determine which category the paper best fits. Example, if you pick up a car insurance bill, file it in the “bills” folder. If you can’t decide within 30 second, set the paper aside, and revisit it at the end. 

4. Repeat process until you can see the table/desk/floor/interior of the oven (yes, I’ve seen this before) or wherever your unruly papers have been landing. Advanced tip: (file your papers in chronological order as you add them to the folders; doing this now will save time when you need to access these papers later…and you WILL need to access your papers later: either to use them, to file them more permanently, OR to throw them away).
5. When finished, store the folders in a standing file box or file cabinet so you can access them later.
***If you still have remaining papers to clean up, don’t worry. Pull out your calendar, and schedule another time WITHIN THE NEXT 7 DAYS to continue the task. Write it down as an “appointment!” Keep repeating these “appointments” until all papers have been cleaned up and appropriately filed.
Maintenance: Set aside a general basket, bin, or letter tray to collect paperwork throughout the week. Choose one designated day each week to clear out the basket and file paperwork in its rightful folder. Eventually, the papers should go into a permanent file cabinet or drawer. But I will discuss that in a future post in the interest of keeping it simple and just focusing on quick cleanup strategies for now.
Recommended Supplies:

 

 

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The Real Reason You’re Always Late

I’ve always viewed tardiness as a touchy subject. If you’re a person who is consistently on time, you may feel like others are late because they don’t value your time. While this may be true in a percentage of cases, I know…from personal experience…that there are multiple layers to a person’s ability to be on time and that oftentimes, tardiness may not be rooted in a basic disregard for others. Instead, people who are chronically late often have legitimate struggles with learning to manage time effectively and are more likely to be prone to over-committing themselves to a variety of tasks and obligations. In addition, inaccurate time perception is oftentimes a culprit that only makes matters worse. Still, there are other cases in which hidden emotional stress or anxiety inhibits an individual’s ability to regularly show up on time.

Trying to Please Everyone

We live in a time of InstaPots, entertainment on demand, and “there’s an app for that!” It’s very easy to find ourselves taking on the societal expectations of “fast,” “easy,” and “always accessible.” Therefore, many of us have lost touch with our ability to say no, to plan things out, and to do things on timelines that are more feasible for us. We feel like we always have to deliver. We find ourselves always wanting to perform. We never want to let anyone down. Therefore, people are increasingly overstretching themselves without even realizing it until there is a logistical, relational, or physical breakdown. And then there’s the guilt. Society steadily streams the message that there is no room for us to attend to our human needs. But the reality is we must. The irony of adopting a mindset of over-committing in the interest of never letting anyone down is that by doing so, your risk of letting yourself and everyone else down rises sharply.

Taking time to plan your schedule is essential. Only after creating a schedule for yourself and deciding when you would like to make yourself available (and are logistically able to do so) can you realistically ensure you are able to fulfill the time commitments you decide to undertake. Moreover, you must say no whenever a request for your time is made and you are unwilling or unable to either a) provide sufficient time to comfortably meet the request or b) re-prioritize your current commitments to make the new request fit. If you are unwilling or unable to do a or b, saying no is within your best interest; doing so also better for the person who is making the request. The sooner that person is made aware that his or her request will not work with your schedule, the earlier he or she can request an alternative time or make other arrangements altogether. Sometimes we waste time and needlessly cram our schedules with things that don’t serve us or other people. In many cases, we can avoid these situations by being more realistic with our time management and planning ahead.

Inaccurate Time Perception

To some of us, a minute isn’t a minute, and an hour isn’t an hour. Those of us who are challenged in the way we perceive time know that this can easily lead to always arriving a little late or even showing up awkwardly early. But there are ways to overcome this type of time management hurdle. Addressing inaccurate time perception requires an initial assessment. I recommend spending a day or, if your schedule changes often, an entire week timing and recording how long it takes to do your normal, recurring tasks. Make a list of how long your commutes take, how much time you usually spend in the shower, how long it takes you to read through your emails at the office, the average length of your phone calls, all the major events that comprise  a  typical day. Next, you HAVE to begin maintaining a written schedule if you do not do so already. Keep your list of timed activities next to your planner or wherever you choose to record your schedule. When planning your schedule, ALWAYS reference the list you’ve created, and budget your time accordingly. That means if you know your friend wants to meet you across town after work and you know it takes you 45 minutes to commute to that area, go ahead and tell that person you will meet them a full hour after your workday ends. Not only are you accounting for the 45-minute drive, but you are allowing yourself an extra 15 minutes to have a quick chat with your supervisor before leaving, go to the restroom, and attend to any other small time “vacuums”  that tend to pop up whenever we really have somewhere to go. While it is important to actually allow yourself the extra time, the game-changing potential lies in continuing to behave as if you only have 45 minutes to get there. This means recreating that same sense of urgency despite knowing you have a time cushion. That part may or may not take a little practice, so be firm, yet patient and consistent with yourself.

Set Firm Time Barriers

Whether you have to set a very loud alarm, have someone call you at a particular cut-off time, or use an app on your phone, creating unavoidable reminders that you need to stop what you’re doing and move on to the next activity will greatly enhance your ability to avoid being late. Be very intentional about how you structure your activities and transition points (i.e. leaving one place to commute to another, stopping one task and beginning the next). Try to make it nearly impossible for you to ignore the reminders and time boundaries you create for yourself. By giving yourself the right tools and holding yourself accountable, you will immediately begin to see real change in the way you manage time and adhere to deadlines. Inviting other people you trust to also keep you accountable will only add fuel to your self-improvement fire.

 

 

 

 

10 Strategies for More Effective Time Management – Free Cheat Sheet

 

Click HERE for Time Management assessment quiz!

We’ve entered the second half of 2018 and the beginning of Q3. Now is the perfect opportunity to assess how well we have been managing our time and to determine whether we are on track to have the 2018 we hoped for back in January.

Check out my 10-question Time Management Assessment quiz to see how you are measuring up, and receive a free cheat sheet that outlines 10 areas you can address today to reclaim and better manage your valuable time.

Thrive App: Your Mini Mindfulness Coach in Your Pocket

There is a growing interest in taking a holistic approach to productivity. Each year more and more working professionals and business owners are seeking out ways to implement a greater focus on mental health and spiritual wellness in the workplace.  Employee rest areas, yoga sessions, meditation classes, and kitchens that are always stocked with various teas and organic snacks all signal a remarkable shift from the traditional brick-and-mortar, 9 to 5 job setting in the U.S.
While some workplaces are making a greater effort to create an environment that nurtures the “whole” employee, many others have yet to join the revolution. For people who do not find themselves having regular access to an employer-sponsored wellness and productivity program, Thrive UK has created an app that may be a very affordable alternative for millions of people.

Exploring the Link Between Mindfulness and Productivity

There are several components of a person’s well-being that can have a direct impact on the individual’s level of productivity. The body uses food as fuel; therefore, diet influences a person’s energy level as well as his or her ability to concentrate and focus for extended periods of time. Rest is essential to health and performance. Consequently, a lack of sleep can quickly diminish workplace performance. Stress and anxiety can also have a negative impact on a person’s work and home life. Finally, one of the most often overlooked aspects of productivity and performance is mindset. The Thrive App utilizes soothing music with ocean sound effects in combination with various exercises and helpful tips to bring peace, optimism, and balance to the most critical areas of the user’s life.

Mental Health and Wellness Monitoring on Demand

Upon logging into the Thrive app, the user is greeted and immediately offered a practical tip for managing stress, easing anxiety, or simply shifting to a more positive mindset. Next, the app asks the user to rate his or her mood on a color scale. Mood tracking can be helpful to anyone, especially to those who are experiencing anxiety or depression. Tracking moods can help the individual remain connected to his or her emotions in addition to detecting any concerning or unusual changes in the overall mental state. Next, the app asks the user to identify specific events that may have led to his or her current mood, whether negative or positive. Reflecting and considering the connection to certain events that may have triggered a particular mood can be helpful, particularly when a person is experiencing a negative emotion and has difficulty identifying the exact root cause.

Mind and Body Activity Recommendations

Upon receiving feedback on the user’s mood, the program then assigns three daily goals that are recommended activities to help maintain a healthy mental state and, if necessary, to improve a bad mood. Examples include 30 minutes to an hour of a specified physical exercise, breathing activities, self suggestion, deep muscle relaxation, and an impressive collection of meditation strategies that leverage sound, smell, and the power of imagination. The user may set notifications to serve as a reminder to complete the prescribed activities throughout the day. Each time the user logs in, the app will ask the user to indicate which activities he or she has completed since the previous session.  In addition to the daily recommended activities, Thrive also includes a collection of games that provide a healthy distraction when the user needs to unwind.

In-App Games

At any time, users may swipe over to Zen Island, which is the Thrive app’s virtual destination for games and recreation. Zen Challenge requires the player to draw paths to connect two objects on a plane while navigating through a series of obstacles and hoops. Wise Words teaches the participant to focus on positive words by identifying them within an assortment of jumbled letters that are displayed on a grid. Those who are feeling creative may choose to design their own zen garden in Zen Island’s sand.

Conclusion

The Thrive App is packed with valuable resources that can help virtually anyone increase self-awareness and practice mindfulness in ways that can have a very real and positive impact on overall health and productivity. Even occasional use can help a person relax and even avoid an oncoming episode of mild tension or anxiety. Like virtually any health tool, the Thrive app should be used regularly to produce lasting results and to realize more substantial improvement.

Thrive is a subscription-based app available for £4.99/month, £14.97 for a three-month subscription, or £47.88/year, which translates to approximately $8/month, $21/quarterly, or $67/annually.

Thrive UK has graciously provided a FREE access code for my readers. Click HERE to request your free subscription to the Thrive app.

Why You Need a Rest Day

All over social media, I see entrepreneurs and professionals who boast about their 7-day work weeks and 12 hour days as if these things are the bragging rights of working for yourself. Hard work should be rewarded, celebrated, and praised. But are people who work non-stop ultimately cheating themselves? Their families? Even…their careers and businesses? I would venture to say yes. Here’s why.

Human Beings Are Not Machines

The title of this section is probably obvious to most of us. Nevertheless, it bears repeating: human beings are not machines; therefore, they need rest. We need rest. Furthermore, even most machines go on standby or require time to cool down or to be powered off. You and I are no different. When we work non-stop, there is a point at which we become less “sharp.” We become tired, and our mood deteriorates. We have to stop for food because we get hungry (and you reallllly should take time to pay attention to what you eat, chew your food properly, etc for health and nutrition reasons…but I digress).  Over time, you will not be at your best; this inherently means that while you are giving 100% of your time to your business (or career), you are very likely giving much less than 100% of your competence. Don’t cheat yourself, your teams, your customers, and don’t cheat your business or career out of being it the very best it can be. Rest.

Multitasking Kind of Sucks

Pardon my language. But the ability to multitask is another capability about which many of us love to brag. The truth is if you’re multitasking, you’re probably not focusing, which also means you’re likely cheating someone out of receiving your full attention to detail and level of competence. If you are giving time to your family, set that time aside and focus on them. If need to write important emails, schedule time to do that outside of listening to webinars, participating in conference calls, etc. Otherwise, you will retain only a fraction of the information that is conveyed during the webinar or call, and you also run a high risk of sending an email that lacks coherence or is missing important details and will ultimately frustrate the person on the receiving end. Let’s eliminate these errors by giving our full attention to whatever we’re doing. In fact, doing so will help you complete your tasks faster and more efficiently so you can move on to the next task much sooner.

But, Rolanda. How Am I Supposed to Do All This?

 

One word: planning. If you haven’t taken a look at some of my posts on scheduling and time management, check them out. As a first step, I recommend everyone spend a few days to an entire week keeping a time journal. Keep track of everything you do in a day, and note the how long it takes you to complete each task. Most people readily discover there are small pockets of time they waste throughout the day; these small pockets often add up to hours. Moreover, simply taking inventory of how you utilize your time and having the data on paper can be eye-opening on its own. Having a written account of how you spend your days allows you to interact with the concept of time more tangibly and to visualize different ways you can spend it. Once you’ve discovered exactly how you are spending your time, set boundaries. Set a bedtime. Schedule time for meals, family, and even idle time…because you need time for yourself. By setting a schedule and sticking to it, you will feel more balanced and recharged when it’s time to work, and the added efficiency will help you eliminate the need for those seven-day work weeks and 12-hour days.

 

If you need assistance with time management and scheduling, message me to inquire about my productivity coaching services available to individuals in all locations.

Please also join my new Facebook group to connect with individuals who are also determined to manage time more effectively and to achieve their goals in 2018!

 

When Your New Year’s Resolution Takes a Sharp Left

Business Insider Magazine reports 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail before February. Now that we are a few weeks into January, you may feel yourself reverting to those habits you’ve wanted to change. The following tips will help you keep going strong into February and beyond:

1. Set benchmarks. Instead of planning to immediately make a gigantic change all at once, set benchmarks that will ultimately lead you to your larger goal. For example, if you want to start cooking at home and eliminate fast food, reduce the number of times you go out for fast food by half. Next month, reduce that number by half again. Keep cutting down until you’re no longer eating fast food. In some cases, you may need to make very immediate changes up front (i.e. if your health dictates an immediate switch), in which case you should do whatever your health professional tells you. But in most cases, gradual change is more likely to become permanent behavior.

2. Get back on the horse! It’s VERY easy to give up on your diet after having a forbidden dinner, throw your commitment to arriving on time out the window the first couple times you’re late to work, or to skip a couple days at the gym and never go back. Instead of feeling like you have to go back to the drawing board, pick up where you left off as if you never missed a beat.

3. Assess yourself frequently. If you are having difficulty making a change or sticking to a resolution, evaluate why you have decided to make the change, and consider all possible mental, emotional, and situation blocks that may be preventing you from making the change. Then work to bypass or, if necessary, eliminate those blocks.

4. Consult someone with more experience. When in doubt, seek help. Hire a coach. Ask a friend who has been there/done that. Join my Facebook group! Transformation is much more easily attained with the support of like-minded people. My goal for the group is to create a community of people who are focused on becoming the best version of themselves and helping others along the way!

Productivity Apps to Help You Get Stuff Done in 2K18

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.

Apps to Help You Save Time

Blinkist

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.

Buffer

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.
IFTTT

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).

Newton

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.

 

Productivity Apps

FocusList

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.

Google Keep

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.

Momentum

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!