My email was getting behind. My project turnaround time was growing. My husband ate pizza for dinner two nights in a row.

I was feeling very frustrated. How did it all get so out of control? I know there was more work because several program launches for clients were happening at the same time. I was also trying to get it all done before we went camping for Labor Day weekend.

But, I can usually fall onto my time systems. Into my head popped a conversation we had in my Project Class about email. Email is quick, fast and there might be a few easy to do tasks in there. Much easier than working on a daunting to do list.

So I was popping into email in between every single task. I’d answer some emails then maybe do an email task that was pretty easy. And back to email.

My projects and important work weren’t being touched because instead of following my to do list I was falling into the email trap.

Immediately I went back to my email processing schedule. Email processing, not email checking. Email checking without processing tends to waste time.

I answer simple emails during processing time and more time consuming emails I put on my to do list for the next day. Quickly I started to catch up on my backlog of tasks because I was no longer interrupting myself by checking email.

When I wanted to go into easy email, I had to remind myself to do what was more important.

Has email sneakily started taking over your time?

***

You can learn about my time systems in my Change Your Relationship with Time class.

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Aug
15

Decluttering and Moving

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A reader writes, “I am moving and I need advice on how to purge and move only what we need. We have lived in our house for over 20 years.”

Many people in my classes have been saying this too. They will be retiring shortly and want to be more mobile and/or closer to the kids.

But, the whole process can seem overwhelming. 20 years is a long time to accumulate stuff if you haven’t been regularly decluttering.

I would begin the process by picture the next part of life. What do you want from it? What kinds of things do you want to do? What is important to you? Do you want to pick up at a moment’s notice or entertain a lot or spend long parts of the day gardening? Will you be babysitting, having sleepovers with the grandkids, working from home?

Once you are more clear on the next stage, you can see if your possessions will help or hinder your vision.

Keep boxes or bags available for things going to charity. Many charities will come pick your items up.

Most electronics and cell phones can be sold online to be refurbished. Amazon, Nextworth, Best Buy, Gazelle.

If you feel guilt over wanting to get rid of something, but don’t think you should – it’s a pretty good guess that it can go. This is not the time to hold onto things from guilt.

You can get rid of some guilt quickly, by returning stuff you have borrowed from people.

Items “just in case” like extras and items you haven’t used but might one day, are good items to give away so you have more room.

This is a great time to let go of projects never completed because you lost interest. It’s a brand new start.

Release those hobbies you used to do, but don’t anymore. Only take with you, the hobbies you love.

If you start with your storage area, you can pack as you declutter. Put like items together, declutter what you don’t need or want and then label the box with the contents and room they will go in.

Next will be out of season clothes, gear, decorations, hobbies.

Piles of paper are great to go through towards the beginning. Most of us have paper we will never look at again. Go through 5 files or 1 pile a day during TV watching or waiting time. Then move onto magazines. You have permission to not even look at them before you recycle. If you really need the information, you will probably look online before going through the magazines.

Photos can be boxed up and stored out of the heat. Duplicates can be sent to other people. Bad pictures can be tossed.

Now you start in specific rooms, beginning at the porch or entryway. Declutter/pack/label, declutter/pack/label. Go through each cupboard, drawer, closet in the room. But, don’t hop all over the place or you won’t remember what you’ve already gone through. Plus, you won’t notice your progress.

If you find broken items, set a fix-it day to take care of them. Don’t move them when they are broken.

What are your best decluttering and moving tips?

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People often inquire about or assume that because I advocate for simpler living I must be a minimalist.

For me, a minimalist takes the process of simplifying and makes minimalism the end product. The goal. They may work to only have 100 things. Or a 10 piece traveling wardrobe. Or nothing on the kitchen counters.

5930868774_799ba96a33_z

It takes a lot of work, thought and energy. You may save some money if you are an extreme couponer, but it also takes tons of time.

That isn’t to say minimalism is bad. If it is fun for you and a passion, go ahead.

I want to be organized, simplified and decluttered enough to live life smoothly. I don’t want to give it tons of attention. I don’t want it to be another thing where I try to be perfect. I don’t want to fall into comparing myself based on how little stuff I have or feel guilty if I have some useless items I like around the house.

I certainly don’t want to pack a 2-week vacation into a backpack. I could use that time and energy to plan a fun vacation.

I only have so much energy. I use simplifying as a way to save energy for what’s important. For me, that’s not counting my possessions.

Photo by: Genevra Kindon

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Aug
08

Project Procrastination

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During my academic years, I spent many long nights finishing up an English paper or getting a speech together or studying for an exam. My Mom cringed at Science project time because it would always be a last minute, underwhelming project.

In my early career I did work that was more immediate – writing for a newspaper, making appointments and answering calls.

Then I worked as a graphic designer at a printing company. The sales rep would hand over projects with deadlines of 3 days or a week. I would have 10 projects going at once, from the simple business card to the more complicated brochure. I would start with the most urgent one and not work at all with the others.

Until they  became urgent.

Once a project becomes urgent, it’s hard to have time for the back and forth with the clients and sending the faxed proofs for them to look over.

I was completely stressed. I felt always under pressure.

Early on it became clear that I couldn’t procrastinate on projects and I had to find a better way to do them.

I set up a folder system. I began the projects within a day of getting them. I found a way to track the projects.

Though the pace was still fast, I didn’t feel the overwhelm that I used to. I found I had more time to complete my projects well.

Monday I start my very first Pleasant Projects course. If you are having trouble with procrastination and tracking projects, I’d love to help. Check it out here.

 

 pleasantprojects

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Jul
18

Morning Routine Video

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Here is a video on the importance of a morning routine and what my routine is:

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Jul
10

Your heart and self-care

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Hearts

If you are feeling dry and stale or thinking that your life is nothing but drudgery, a great question to ask is,

"Where is my heart?"

When you disconnect what you do with purpose, your senses or joy, you dry out.

Does your work feel like nothing but to dos that you don’t want to do? If you are working, you must be serving someone or no one would pay you. Who are you serving? Whose life are you making better?

If you don’t like working where you are right now, how can you bring more fun or beauty into your work? Can you organize your space? Can you put something beautiful in the space? Can you wear ear plugs to drown out annoying noise? Maybe you need an aromatherapy pillow. Can you notice how your character is improving in this situation or notice where you are growing?

If you are parenting, do you remember you are trying to bring up kids of character and responsibility? Or just remembering that they are being a real pain right now? Seeing how you want them to turn out pulls you from the daily taking care of kids. You can also try taking part of the parenting time to relax and play with them. So it’s not all work for you or them.

When you do housework are you focused only on, "I have to do dishes AGAIN?" or do you see the outcome of the clean kitchen. Do you think of how you are nurturing you and your family? Or enjoying creating beauty? You can allow yourself to gaze for a second or two in appreciate of the newly polished kitchen table. Using natural cleansers with pleasant scents makes cleaning more enjoyable. As does music.

As you go throughout your day, keep asking, "Where is my heart?" Bring joy, beauty or purpose to whatever you do.

Then see if your life is juicier.

If you need help finding the time or losing the guilt for self-care, join my Simple Self Care class – starts July 14th.

***

Photo by Mauro Cateb

 

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Sports equipment is not nice a uniform. Often there are balls rolling around. It’s not an easy thing to organize.

Here are some visuals for you:

Ski and other boots:

storewall.com

Balls on Walls:

smallbrandnation.com

Have sports, will travel:

outdoorfunstore.com

Pegboard organizing:

thecreativityedge.com

For the golfers:

 

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Jun
29

Wetland Walk

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wetland collage

Pictures taken by my daughter, Brea Dargis. She also had fun putting together a compilation of the bird dancing around on the lily pad.

Bird Dance

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The sky was cloudy, but the weather site said it wasn’t going to rain. I double checked Facebook looking for a cancellation. Yoga at the Beach was still one. Yea!

I probably wouldn’t get up early on the weekend for regular yoga. But, yoga on the shores of Lake Michigan lures me to exercise.

I park and walk to the canal where people are setting up. The wind is so strong it’s hard to get the yoga mats to stay put. Some of us were laughing and others growl in frustration.

We start with easy poses to warm up, feeling the moist air touching our skin. Our tree pose was more like "Tree swaying in the wind" pose.

A little less than half-way through it starts to sprinkle. Moments later is starts to pour as I try to cover my keys from my lunge position. We get out of lunge and greet the sky with hands raised and face upturned, accepting the rain.

We almost packed it in, but the rain slowed down. Our instructor said she would be here teaching if we would stay. A few people ran for their cars, the class ruined for them.

How many times do we do this? Things don’t go how we think they are supposed to go so we complain, try to fix things or run away. Daily I would think.

I was already wet so I stayed as we finished our standing poses. Our mats got too slippery to keep us stable so we moved to sitting and laying poses.

In one pose I was on my back holding my right knee into my chest. The rain became stronger falling all over my face. I started to become very uncomfortable. To calm down, I focused on how it felt with my senses. The water drops on my cheeks. Wet hair on my forehead. The waves in the water. I turned off my mind thinking, "This is bad." I let go of the story that yoga at the beach has to be sunny, cool and beautiful every time.

The rain wasn’t bad, it was just wet.

When we have obstacles in our life, most of the time we don’t know if what is happening is good or bad not knowing the big picture.

I breathed, relaxed and felt the wetness on my face. The rain felt refreshing once I stopped thinking of rain as bad.

Life throws undesirable circumstances at us all the time. This is why we need to be able to keep our center within us.

We can stay calm and relaxed this way in the midst of mornings with the kids helping them get ready, or in slow traffic or when sprinklers come on during your party in the park.

Peace is inside. If you take yourself out of your thoughts, stories and judgments, instead feel your physical sensations and notice what’s around you, you can find that place of centered peace again. Breathing deeply helps.

The rain stopped as yoga ended. I walked the pier and watched with fascination at the wind surfers. I would have missed this beautiful sight if I had left earlier.

Wind Surfer

Today as you face things, see if you can find your center of peace.

 

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Jun
23

Bat in My Office

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I was just finishing up my last declutter chat when I felt something swoop over my head and flutter around in the corner in front of me. I screamed and ran into the bedroom, waking my sleeping husband who had to be up at 4:30am the next morning as usual. “There’s a bat or a bird or something in my office!”

He grudgingly got out of bed, walked to my office and said, “Yep, it’s a bat.” I slammed the bedroom door shut. He said, “What are you doing? Grab me a blanket so I can watch the bat.”

I snuck out, keeping an eye on the bat as I grabbed about 4 blankets. I started to hand them to my husband when the bat started flying our way. I screeched, throwing the blankets up as they landed on our heads. Jeff uncovers and I ran back into the bedroom.

Now he is annoyed because he lost the bat when I covered him with a blanket. He is searching for the bat while I am hiding in the bedroom.

With the bat.

I heard a flutter on the dresser and ran out screaming, “It’s on your dresser, it’s on your dresser!”

I ran to the bathroom and shut the door. Jeff captures the bat in a blanket and yells for me to open the door to the outside. I kind of open the door to the porch to let him and the bat out. The outside door screen door I swung open and rushed back in. Jeff lets the bat out, getting hit with the door as it swung back closed.

He mentioned next time it might be helpful to shut all the open inside doors and open the outside door so the bat could get out. He also mentioned I was not very helpful throughout the ordeal.

Often this is how we live life. Our adrenaline is high while we are rushing about trying to do urgent things. Our mind is going in a million directions. The fear of not being or doing enough is flapping about. This reptile brain does not make the best decisions.

Try calming and centering yourself in the morning with breathing, writing or praying. Then plan your day.

Throughout the day you can pause between tasks, breathe and checkin with yourself before deciding on the next task. Making the decisions from your calmer, conscious self will allow you to stop your frantic living.

You don’t want to live like a bat is following you around.

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