Give your brain some love and unplug

Give yourself a Valentine's day present and your brain a break by unplugging for a bit.  Neuroscience shows that our brain receives the equivalent information a day to reading 174 newspapers.  That's enough to make your head spin.  And it does sometimes when we feel a bit overwhelmed.

Our brain was not meant to process so much information, so fast, without breaks.  Downtime replenishes the brains stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity and is essential to achieving our highest levels of performance.  There are ways throughout the day that we can give our brain a break and actually bring us back to work more productively and ready to solve problems we might have been stuck on before.

Here are a few tips and suggestions for giving your brain that much needed break.

  • Make sure you are getting a good night's sleep.  According to the National Sleep foundation, adults need need 7-9 hours a night to feel your best and be most productive the next day. 
  • Give yourself mental breaks throughout the day where you completely unplug and let your mind wander.  If you can take a walk outside, even better.  Neuroscience and psychology research show that mind wandering facilitates areas such as creativity that are important for helping the brain work more effectively.
  • Take time for meditation or mindfulness every day.  Even 10 minutes a day can change your brain.  According to Harvard neuroscientists, meditation can increase the amount of gray matter in the frontal cortex which is associated with working memory and executive decision making.
  • Don't multi-task or switch task, it makes your brain less productive and efficient.  It also divides up your mental resources between tasks and requires your brain to switch contexts for each task you're juggling.

How to make 2016 resolutions that will stick

It's  2016, now's the chance to start fresh and make realistic resolutions that you will stick to.  According to the American Psychological Association, "setting small, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of a singular goal on Jan 1 can help you reach whatever you are striving for".  
A few hints to remember:

  • Start small and make resolutions you can keep
  • Try to change only one behavior at a time (don't make 10 resolutions all at once).  You can gradually add resolutions as the year goes on.
  • Don't beat yourself up when you have a bad day and don't stick to the resolution.  This is only normal.
  • Stick to it.  It takes 21 days for a new activity to form a new habit so be persistent and patient with yourself.
  • Write them down and track your progress.  Keep track of each small success.  Short-term goals are easier to keep and each small accomplishment will keep you motivated.
  • Whether you're making personal or career resolutions; with some focus, planning and determination it's possible to make positive changes that will stick in the new year.  Most of all, remember to be gentle with yourself.  You will no doubt take detours on your path to a new you but when you beat yourself up, you're less likely to brush yourself off and try again.

  • So, choose just one or two resolutions that you'd really love to see become new habits and go for it!  And of course, don't forget to celebrate your success.

How to stress less during the holidays

The holiday season is upon us and as we get ready to be busier than we've been all year, I wanted to share some tips and secrets for staying stress free.

Remember the 80/20 rule, to focus on the 20% (what must get done) and the 80% (if it gets done will be nice, but if not won't be the end of the world).

To keep the holiday stress away, stay on top of the tools you use all year:

  • Your calendar: Make sure all family members are on board by using a shared calendar to avoid any last minute surprises.
  • To do list:  Delegate responsibilities to family members that can help share the load.
  • Budget:  Make a budget and stick to it!  At this time of year it's even more important than ever.  Have family members help decide who will buy gifts for whom.

Just remember, with a little pre-planning over the holidays you can get organized with ease.  The most important thing to remember is not to worry about anything that is not essential and to make time to enjoy what really and friends!




How disorganization keeps you stuck and how to get unstuck

We've all been there sitting in our office, whether our work space is in our home or in an office we commute to; feeling stuck.  We look at the piles of paper, books, personal items and decide to just check email to keep ourselves busy, so we don't have to think about the mess.  The disorganization becomes overwhelming but we tell ourselves that same old lie, "I really do know where everything is".  The average office employee spends 1.5 hours looking for things a day.

Start small with just one pile or section of your workspace.  Toss any trash, gather personal items that need to be taken home or put in their correct spot and sort loose paperwork.  Once you've got the momentum going, cleaning your work space will go faster than you think.  And the results will leave you breathless!  You'll feel lighter, more clear-headed and less stressed.  Not to mention the time you'll save in finding things you've misplaced.

To stay on top of an organized workspace, set a weekly appointment with yourself to clean your desk area.  Maybe every Friday, the last 15 minutes of the day to tidy up so that you'll start work Monday with a clean desk.  Don't make piles but instead set limits.  Create zones, for example: a workspace for your computer, library for your books, storage area for supplies and filing area for your archives.  What are you waiting for?!  Set an appointment with yourself to organize your workspace.  You'll thank yourself and be so glad you did. 

Take a moment to praise yourself for what you've accomplished today

In our hurried lives, we run from this to that sometimes skipping meals and losing more and more sleep.  We cram more and more into our days all the time with the advancement of technology and Productivity Coaches teaching us how to make better use of our time.  We have daily, weekly and monthly goals.  But do we ever, after crossing something off our to do list say, "Good job!"?  Rarely, if ever.

One of the tips an Organizing Coach might tell you is to end your day with order. This simply means, clean up your desk, tie up lose ends and make your to do list for the next day.  This is an amazing tip that will help you leaving work feeling less stressed and more centered, but do we ever stop and say, "Damn, I killed it today!"?  Rarely, if ever.

I propose that we all start taking a moment at the end of each day to look back, even just for a moment, not at what we didn't complete or accomplish but what we did do.  Praise the good first before you make your to do list for the next day.