7 Tips to Help You + Your Biz Finish the Year Organized

As I was putting my son's Banksy costume away, I realized the New Year is almost here. I was thinking about how overwhelming the end of the year can be for some of us and I came up with a list of pretty small tweaks that you could do that would make your holiday season less stressful.

For Businesses:

If you want to finish this last quarter of the year on a strong note, here are a few things you can do now:

  • Take some time to do a desk purge. Even 30 minutes can make a huge difference in your work space. Take home the empty lunch containers and jackets that have been piling up. While you’re at it, make a list of the office supplies that have gone low. I’m always more excited to work when I have a fresh pad of sticky notes in a cool color.

  • If you use paper calendars or planners, do you need to re-order the inserts for next year? If so, do it now so you’re not scrambling those first few weeks of January.

  • How do you thank your clients? Do you send out holiday cards? If so, make sure you have a current list of clients to send to and order the cards before the rush.

  • Make tax season less stressful by organizing your expenses now. Whether you have loose paper receipts or use an app for your mileage, even 20 minutes of filing like with like and making sure you’ve input the latest information will save you time in the long run.

For Home Organization:

The holidays will be here before you know it! Here are a few things to do to help you prep and be more prepared for this time of year:

  • Make sure you and other family members have your calendars synced. You don’t want to miss an event or holiday party because everyone is not on the same page. Better yet, have a weekly 15 minute meeting every Sunday to prep for the week. When everyone is aware and onboard with the schedule, things will run so much more smoothly.

  • If your family brings gifts into the house during the holidays, why not do a mini-purge now? I like to think of it as less consumption when I can donate clothes, books and toys now to a good cause before more items are brought into the house. 

  • It’s not too early to at least make lists for holiday shopping. If your family decides not to do gifts, there are so many great causes to give to, especially local non-profits like See International and Direct Relief. Or maybe your family has decided to forgo gifts for a cool family trip together. Decide now where you’ll go and at least map out the rough itinerary.

Do you have any great tips for getting organized before the holidays? If so, I’d love to hear them.

If you need help getting organized at home or in your business, schedule a free consultation with me here.

The Checklist Manifesto

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I just read a great book that I want to share with you that changed my life.  I’ve always loved making checklists but this solidified my love for the super simple, seemingly mundane task.  The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande was a New York Times bestseller a few years ago when he published his research on how a simple checklist can save lives, specifically in operating rooms. The simple idea was so groundbreaking that the World Health Organization has adopted the use of checklists in more than twenty countries as a standard of care.

Not only are surgeons using simple checklists to save lives, pilots do to.  There are take-off checklists and checklists for engine failure. These lists eliminate the guesswork and implement a factor of slow and steady thinking into a world of fast, constant input.

I am by no means saving lives with my checklists but for me it forces me to slow down and think through my next steps.  For me making checklists has become second nature, especially for travel. If I don’t make a checklist for my trip I will inevitably forget my charger, favorite sunglasses or worse my eye shades for a good night’s sleep.  

Check out my Inbox Checklist for getting your inbox down to zero in twenty minutes.  You’ll feel lighter and leaner and ready to be productive and efficient!

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 matters.....family 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.