A month ago I was ecstatic, my craft room was going to get a closet system installed. Oh the anticipation! For the week before the date, I kept talking about it, the joy of having a system and the organization I would set up. I was excited, at least until the system actually was installed. Then something happened. I became overwhelmed with feeling daunted by the effort and process of setting the closet system up. It confused me in many ways too.

I love organizing. I don’t do this for a living without a reason; I am passionate about organizing. In fact, if I am feeling a bit down about something, I will tackle an organizing project and immediately start feeling better. Can you begin to see how puzzling it was for me to feeling overwhelmed? Maybe you can, yet you might be asking yourself – “what does this have to do with ME?”

How often have you gotten overwhelmed at the thought of tackling a project? Although I did not take pictures of the piles of my stuff meant for the closet – the boxes filled up 3 ½ rooms here. Since it is my craft room, many of the items are smaller. It was going to be a process to go through it all and get it organized. It’s easy to feel like there is just so much to be done. Where do I start? I don’t have time to delve into this project.

Interestingly, this is exactly how I felt. This is how my clients often talk about feeling with their own stuff. I joke that this is why my profession exists – help in getting started and having some direction during the process. I know all this. I knew what I needed to do. Nevertheless I was still dreading it.

My point – we’re all human. We can each feel overwhelmed and reluctant to jump into a project. It doesn’t even need to be a big project, like my walk-in closet. Papers are a common area that causes significant dread among people. They tend to be tedious and time consuming. I have a lot of scrapbooking paper – possibly the easiest papers to organize and it still took me over 3 hours to organize the 12×12 loose sheets.

Another point – all it takes is jumping in. You don’t need to set aside a huge amount of time to get started. I didn’t organize those loose scrapbook papers first. I did find an “easy” place to start – in this case it was the completed photo and scrapbook albums. I already had at least part of a vision for the closet. Then I grabbed the next box. I won’t say that my feeling of overwhelm went away just because I got started. If only it was that simple. Sometimes it is, not always.

Sometimes it also means stepping back for a break. As I was going through things, I found items I spent money on and knew I would never use. I felt sad and frustrated. Even that feeling got overwhelming at times. When I saw this happening, I would try to finish the immediate stuff and then take a break and do something else entirely. Other times, I just moved the stuff off to the side and stopped anyway. This also provides a way to gain perspective – all this stuff was personal to me – ideas and plans I’d had at some point or another. Yet, I needed to let some of it go. Stepping back can be just as important as jumping in and getting started.

I’ll admit I have been a bit ashamed of feeling overwhelmed by my craft room closet. I mean I am an organizer, how can I of all people be overwhelmed by an organizing project? Yet, it also means I can relate to other people feeling overwhelmed. It also means that I will bite the bullet and jump in. You’re not alone if you too are feeling overwhelmed by an organizing task – just remember you are human like the rest of us and to just get started, somewhere or anywhere.

What Type Are You?

There’s something I really struggle with when writing this weekly blog. Do you have any guesses? It’s not coming up with ideas to write about.  It’s not about making time to write and edit it (though I could be better here). It’s not worrying about whether it provides value to you, the reader, though I do want it to be helpful.  What it is for me – how to explain one way of doing something while I know that there are variants upon variants of how to approach the exact same struggle.

In the most recent coaching class we worked with processing modalities.  I learned about these in Gardner’s Frames of Mind, where he talked about the school system teaching in limited modalities and this neglected the children who learned in non-traditional ways, yet they were equally intelligent. I was fascinated.  Similarly, Meyer-Briggs (in Please Understand Me) can help classify how you interact and relate through 16t types, leaving you with 4 letters to describe yourself (the first one being whether you are an introvert or an extrovert).

Although these have interested me, they can be used to limit yourself – at least if you are willing to be boxed in by the results.  Really, they are designed to help you see the spectrum that makes you the unique individual that you are.

So, Jennifer, what exactly is your point here?

We need to embrace who we are and find those unique systems that work for you, the individual. It can be challenging for me, in this blog, to provide a specific solution for everyone since we’re all different. This is why when I come to your home, I do not advocate one way of doing something.  I love to recommend tools and tricks in order for you to learn what might work for you.

Let me give you an example: I had one client who worked from her bed.  There was no health problem to induce this approach – it was simply her preference.  Other people would be quite uncomfortable working in their bed. Does it make it wrong for her to work in bed? Certainly not. It works for her and we set things up so that the things she worked on would be nearby – easy to retrieve and put away.  I would never go into a client’s a recommend they work in their bed because it worked for this one person.  So, what works for you?

In order to figure out systems for yourself, you do need to be aware of your tendencies and preferences. It helps to look at both what encourages and discourages you.  This is something to accept in yourself, not judge or try to change.  Another client really resisted doing anything unless she could hear the television.  Happily, she wasn’t embarrassed about it and we developed some systems so her tasks could be accomplished near the TV. What are the reasons for your resistance? Too hard, too complicated, too time consuming, too _________.  What are the reasons for your successes?  Easy, simple, fast, rewarding, _________.

My cognitive strength supports me in the near constant problem solving I offer my clients, yet encompasses the clients strengths so they get systems that work for them. Although I will talk about this approach or that approach to something – there is such a plethora of choices on how to tackle any struggle.  As the modalities point out, we are all unique and this means we use our strengths to make things work for us and most importantly support us in the life we want to lead.

Goals, Already?

Yes, it’s not even Christmas and I am already talking about goals. I’ve mentioned before that for me I review my goals throughout the year, yet some people focus on the beginning of the year and the changes they want to make.  And it’s never too early to start planning for the New Year.  In fact, beginning now may even make a positive impact on your upcoming holidays.

Who is it that you want to be? How are you different from that idea?  Is it something you can actually change? I would love to be someone who doesn’t have a chronic disease, yet I have no control over that.  On the other hand, I am adamant that it does not control my life.

Supposedly one of the most popular goals of the New Year is to get into shape/ lose weight/ or other diet and health related goals.  Being organized is often up there as a popular goal. And we have all heard the dire statistics on how well we as a whole follow through on our goals, especially at New Year’s.

There are several reasons that we don’t make much progress on our goals: too abstract, too many, too dramatic a change, and the list goes on. This is a prime reason that it’s a good time to start thinking about what your goals will be – giving yourself time to let it float around in your brain and percolate.

Let me cover some basic ideas and I am sure they are out there in cyber space aplenty:

  1. Get specific. If you want to lose weight, come up with a plan on how you will work on that. If you want to be more organized, define one area that matters most and focus on that specifically.  What steps are needed to accomplish this goal? Do you need to schedule time to exercise? Do you want to check the dining room table twice a day and spend time clearing it if things are accumulating?  What do specifically want? Set the guidelines for yourself.
  2. Choose one goal to start with.  If we divide our attention to many different goals, we’re likely to do none of them.  You can always add a new goal after a month or so of success with the first one.  Remember, on average it takes 30 days of doing something consistently for it become a habit – whether that’s exercising or keeping the dining room table clear.
  3. Start with small changes.  Our routines are hard to change, we’re used to doing things in very specific ways, and switching how we do them is uncomfortable and hard.  I’ve heard it compared to ruts in a road, it’s hard to get out of the rut and to not end up back in those ruts.  Our brains are used to us behaving as we always have, and to suddenly be trying to make large changes – it’s unsettling.  This is also where recognizing the ways you are successful can help, then making some modifications to become more successful.

One of my goals for the coming year is to monthly tackle one room in our house and review it and the things in it.  I’ve recognized how easy it is for things to build up.  I don’t always appreciate the decor as the years pass since I too can become “blind” to it.  I want to be surrounded by things that inspire me and especially not bogged down by things that aren’t relevant to me anymore. It will also keep the space relatively fresh, and I won’t stop seeing things out of habit.   Also, at the monthly level it will give me time to tweak some systems if they need it before we’re on to the next room.

What’s one thing you want to be different next year? You can make it happen, I believe in you.

Using Your Planner

With my recent reviews of 2 different planners (PlannerPad & Taylor Planner), this is a great time for me to talk about time management and our planners. This becomes even more critical with all the digital options available. I’m sure there are people out there who will advocate one specific system. You might realize by now, that would never be me. Nevertheless, there are things to consider for a system that will work for you. Our planners are about our time and how we spend it – both our schedule as well as the tasks we need to accomplish.

Most importantly, use what works. If you already have something that works, don’t try to change to keep up with the crowd or for any other reason. Remember how I say, don’t try to fix it if it isn’t broken – this applies to our planners just as much as any other system we have in place. It also doesn’t matter if it’s some “no name” planner. I’ve worked with several people who’ve found some planner and use it successfully – from various non-traditional stores.

Using this idea of thinking about what works for you – one consideration is about scheduling tasks into your calendar which are not time sensitive. We all have tons of things we want to accomplish, those tasks that aren’t critical or time sensitive. Are you more likely to make progress on this if you put it into your calendar? Or if you put it in the calendar, do you end up ignoring it? We’re all unique and there is no one right answer.

  • I tested this out for myself, putting general tasks into “open” slots into my calendar. What I discovered was that unless it was time sensitive, I would more often ignore or procrastinate it. I was more likely to work on those same tasks if I left them on my to-do list and simply had a block of time for tasks in my calendar.

Do you know what will help you more? Play with it and find out – become curious to see how you respond.

With all the electronic gadgets available, exploring them if they’re accessible to you can be great. They do provide some benefits; my husband and I share a calendar and I can see when he’s scheduled an activity for us. Are you working with trying to schedule multiple people for meetings regularly? The electronic calendars are often cloud computing so you can access them from multiple devices with internet access – is this important for you? Of course, the size varies according to the device – so is it big enough on a smart phone to be useful?

  • When my Franklin planner was getting too heavy for my purse, I tried my smart phone for a calendar. I strongly disliked it. I now love the calendar on my iPad – I rely on it, trust it, and it works wonderfully for me. When I recognized this, I got a to-do app for the iPad. I mostly like this. It has all of my tasks contained and I can set priorities, time lines, and categorize the tasks. Then something interesting happened – I was working with paper planners in order to review them and I loved writing the tasks I wanted to accomplish during the week into the to-do areas of those planners.

Using this system provided me with that planning aspect that so many experts talk about – a review of my various tasks and what was most important for the coming week. I think it also helped me because I enjoy the process of writing it down and the color-coding I could do (although I didn’t do much, 2 colors). It also limited me from seeing the huge number of things I have on my general list daily (or more often), making sure I didn’t get overwhelmed each time I had some time to work on one of my to-dos. As I said with both of the planners I reviewed, I appreciated the limited space for to-dos and see too many people thinking they need to do MORE. Anything that can help us limit the amount we try to do is a great thing in my mind.

Do you want a monthly view or is weekly enough? Do you need a daily view? This is something else to consider when choosing a planner system – whether electronic or paper. With electronic you usually can change the view to whatever suits you. For planning to-dos I think monthly is too broad, so you’d likely need something in addition to that. Personally, the daily view is too constricting now and contributes to my losing the bigger picture. What works for you?

Size and weight can often be an issue. Does it need to fit in your purse? I do recommend that if you are using a planner, that it is with you all the time. It will only save you time and energy to be able to make appointments and know you’re available (and not need to reschedule later due to an accidental double booking). It also means you can make appointments on the spot, not after you return home to check your calendar. You can also add tasks immediately and not risk forgetting them.

Consider your personal tastes – do you remember better by handwriting things? Do you try to give yourself too much to do? Does scheduling non-critical tasks into your calendar focus you to actually do them? Do you need to coordinate your schedule with someone else? Remember there is no one right solution. No matter what you choose, it needs to work for you. There are lots of questions here rather than answers – giving you some aspects to think about if you are looking for a new system for the coming year.

Purging – Part of the Whole Process

If you have ever heard me speak, you’ll know that after the introduction I jump right into purging, “yes the dreaded purging”. Often this is an important aspect of getting organized. As FlyLady says, “you cannot organize clutter.” One of the reasons that I focus on the purging is also the limitation of space we all have. If you open a door to a stuffed closet and think that you won’t have to get rid of anything, you might be fooling yourself.

In fact, I have had a couple of clients lately who have opened their closets and told me that everything in them needs to stay. Beyond bringing in my closet guy, I worry that they think simply neatening things will somehow change the space limitations of their closet. Yet, as we dig into the closet and the items within, there are things that leave, whether it’s to the trash or for donating. It often is not a lot, but is enough to make space for what’s needed.

It’s also premature to focus on purging too much. It needs to be integrated into the entire process, something you’re considering each time you handle your stuff as part of the organization process. If you are handling something and there is no reason to keep it, get rid of it – whether it’s raggedy or no longer your taste or whatever. Sometimes it can be helpful to make a “pending” pile, a collection of the things that you’re considering getting rid of. One of the pre-teens I’ve worked with did this; we just kept adding things to it as it applied. When we had finished sorting everything, moved most of the keep items into place, only then did we revisit the pending pile. This gives you some space to let the need for a decision be set aside for a while and when you revisit the stuff you have more clarity about whether to keep it or let it go.

I’ve spoken before on how when you’re organizing, it’s gets messier before it gets better. This is also why purging is part of the entire process. You begin on a section you want to organize – you sort first. As you’re sorting, you can purge what is no longer relevant to you. If you are doing a thorough organization, you are inevitably going to need to sort it again – another time for purging. I am going to be organizing my craft room in a week or so and much of the like items are together, not all them are. I will gather them altogether and go through those like items in one fell swoop. I’m expecting that I might find some things that as I look at everything, there will be some things I will no longer want to keep. Not because I need to or “should” purge, but because as I am organizing I will discover that there are things I don’t want.

If we could make purging part of our life, it could simplify things. Imagine going to your closet to pick out your outfit and seeing a shirt (or whatever) that you don’t like, doesn’t fit, or is getting worn – and then and there pulling it out and putting it in a bag to be donated or into the trash. That’s purging too, as part of the whole process. This also means that you will be less likely to need to go through your entire closet because it’s getting too full.

Purging doesn’t need to be a process of trying to force yourself to get rid of things. It’s about considering whether those items still hold value for you; then whether you have room for them all. What are your values? Some people I work with cherish free space, the sparsely decorated space and roomy closets; others don’t care as much about that as long as they can find and get what they want when they want it. I will always make room for my books and music – these are what I hold dear. What are the things you want to make space for above others?

Remember, being organized is about being able to find what you want when you want it. It’s also about maximizing your own quality of life and what that means to you.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving! :)

It’s the night before Thanksgiving.


There are better times to be considering ways to be more organized.

There are better times to be considering improving your time management.


This is the time to be getting ready to enjoy your Thanksgiving, whatever you do.

It’s a great time to be continuing to think about the things you are thankful for.


Here are some quotes to inspire you…
I am thankful for a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home. I am thankful for the piles of laundry and ironing because it means my loved ones are nearby.  ~ Nancie J. Carmody


As we express gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.  ~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy


Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.  ~ Marcel Proust


A grateful mind is a great mine, which eventually attracts to itself great things.  ~ Plato


Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day.  ~ Robert Caspar Lintner


An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day.  ~ Irv Kupcinet


Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.  ~Native American saying

Taylor Planner

3.5 out of 5 stars


  • Small, portable size
  • Limited space for tasks
  • Week at a glance view
  • Perforated edges for easy marking of current week


  • Monthly view too compact
  • Limited space for planning outside of scheduled time slots


I discovered Harold Taylor at the NAPO conference last year, and came home with some questionnaires he developed to identify problem areas with organization and time management.  This year, I came home with one of his books and a sample of his planner. After using the PlannerPad, I moved to this Taylor Planner.  What better time of year to consider what you might need for next year?

One of the things that I absolutely love about this planner layout is the extremely limited space allotted for daily tasks.  I have often struggled with trying to do too much in a given day and I see this frequently with the people I work with as well.  We’re never satisfied with our accomplishments, “we should have done more.” With this planner, you choose the top 3 things you want to get done on a given day, which is written above the daily scheduling column.  It can help focus you on the most important tasks, then everything else you get done is a bonus.  You only had three things, you get those done, you’ve succeeded with your plans.

The weekly view of the Taylor Planner

There is an additional space in each column for any follow-up actions you need to attend to for a given day.  I used this more sporadically, as it applied to my life and tasks.  It’s good to have an additional space, yet limited space for something that arises.  He suggests using that to record when assignments are due.

On the left side of the two-page weekly layout is a column for that week’s priority, your weekly action items, and notes. It’s important to focus on your goals, and it’s great that he provides a small box to remind you on a weekly basis as well as cuing you to work toward your long-term goals.

There are different ways to approach your calendar.  As I talked about in the review of Getting Things Done, David Allen proposes that you schedule tasks into your calendar with caution.  Harold Taylor is of a different perspective, where you use your calendar to schedule all activities, providing the commitment as well as time to get them done.  Since this is just talked about in the beginning of the planner, I cannot tell to what extent he promotes this.  I know that for myself, if I schedule things that are not time sensitive or important, it’s too easy to still not work on those tasks and then feel the sense of failure at not accomplishing them!  Other than in the column to the far left for weekly action items, there is not much space for planning.

When I was strictly a paper planner person, I relied on the monthly calendar view.  This planner’s version of that is considerably too small for me.  The monthly view consists of 3 months on a page.  Yet, as I move to scheduling on my iPad, the monthly view no longer holds much value to me.  You need to evaluate what your priorities are in this regard.  This is the same layout for the future years, at the back of the planner.  I find the year at a glance intriguing while at the same time a little odd – each column is a month and the holidays are labeled.

The monthly view, with 3 months to a page

Year-at-a-glance on two pages















From my sensitivity to carrying around planners, I appreciate the compact size of this planner.  It is slightly larger than a standard trade paperback book and fairly thin; it will not contribute much weight to a purse or bag.  The version I have is bound, with some space for the binding to not interfere with entering the information you need to. Since it was a free copy, it’s just the planner itself, though offers a cover, with pockets for business cards and to carry post-it notes around with your planner.  Also, with the perforated lower corner, it’s easy to mark (tear it off) and find the current week.  Included with the planner are contact pages, several assignment record pages, notes, and a section for back burner ideas.

You’re Organized, Right?

“You’re probably completely organized, aren’t you?” I get this question frequently. And sometimes I cringe. My home goes through stages, much like most people’s homes. It is certainly not uber-organized at all times, and I have a tendency to have a project or two going at any given time. If you’ve worked with me, you’ll probably have heard stories of some of my own organizational struggles – I am not perfect, gasp! Yet, perfection is not necessary to achieve organization in your own home and life.

What does it require?

First, you need to recognize what areas need help. If you don’t “see the mess,” you aren’t going to be able to fix it. If an area has become a “dumping ground,” a place you easily drop various things, this is a good example of where you can start. It might be an area you avoid or a space you dread dealing with.

  • This was the case with our utility closet. You can see that it had gotten bad and I was reluctant to retrieve anything from there, let alone return anything to the chaos. (See how far from perfection I can be?)

Our utility closet before!

Second, you need to assess what is wrong and develop a plan for what you want it to be. This is also the step to stay with until you have an idea. You can always work on sorting and purging the area, but nothing more significant. If you race ahead, you can easily discover that you’ve made more work for yourself.

  • One of the problems with our utility closet was the odd shape, under our stairs, and my desire to maximize all that space. Also, the narrowness of the entrance complicated the shelving options. The shelving we’d chosen was still a little too deep for easy access to the closet. Also, it was wire, despite the wires being spaced close together, bottles had a tendency to tip, and smaller items too frequently found a way to fall through those wires. Interestingly, it took years of living in the house and getting past the duct (not visible in the pictures) as a reason to avoid putting shelving on that side of the closet. By switching the sides of the shelving, it works better with the way the door opens (also considering the floor stops the door from opening completely) and allows considerably better access to the closet.

Third, you need to plan for the necessary tools, time, and energy to tackle the task of creating organization. The tools are specific – the large pieces of furniture and containers to collect the trash, recycling, and items that belong elsewhere. I recommend waiting to buy other tools – containers for the space – until after you’ve completely sorted and organized. You need to set aside time to work on the project and coordinate with others if it involves them. You also need to have energy to deal with the space and items – this can be frustrating and draining, depending on what you are dealing with.

  • In our case, we needed to buy the shelving I had found and liked for this space – it has solid shelves, is narrow enough to work in the closet, and required assembly. I have not yet bought any other containers, though I am considering a couple, and just need to find the right size. We wanted to work on this together since it’s a space we both use. Also, we wanted to not have too many others projects going on at the same time. We contemplated replacing the linoleum tile and painting as part of the process, but decided that could wait and would be easy enough to do at a later point.

Fourth, simply doing it. Sometimes it’s not that simple. When you delve into an area that has been a dumping ground, especially something hidden, you’re likely to find any number of oddball things. You need to go through everything you find and make decisions about it. You might even get a little dejected at the level of chaos that you are discovering. Then there’s the frustration that can happen from the items you don’t know what to do with. We all have those types of items – you want to keep it, but where exactly does it go, logically? Or those items that don’t fit well into another category.

  • We worked together; he began assembling the shelving while I began pulling all the stuff out of the closet. I tried to group obviously similar items together on the floor for easier organizing later, although this became challenging with the amount of things that had been living in the closet. Then we talked about each thing and category we came across – was this something that we even wanted? Did we want it in the utility closet? A large number of items were moved to the basement (more painting supplies!); then we assessed the things that remained – how would we categorize them? How frequently do we use them – in order to decide if they needed to be more or less accessible. Then finally we began to put the items back into the closet, beginning with the highest used items.

Fifth, you need to see how it is working with time. If things are organized according to how you use them and how you function, the new system should work for you. The biggest challenge for some people is not getting dejected because it’s not working for them. I encourage you to examine it closely and figure out what pieces are working and then work on ways to tweak things so that the parts that aren’t working can be. Although I wish being organized didn’t need discipline, it does – and maybe it’s time to focus on one area to be disciplined about, to make it habit.

  • Our utility closet seems to be functioning well almost 2 months with the new organization, though time may tell a different story. On a different front, a challenging room to keep organized as the systems fall apart before long. I’m in the process of re-doing that, so stay tuned and it will end up in the blog too.

Our utility closet after (& you can see why we'd want to change the flooring!)

As a professional organizer, I’m sometimes embarrassed that I am not more organized. My husband reminds me, “The shoemaker’s children go barefoot.” And I realize that I have the skills to make things organized when I make time and energy to do so. I believe that you can to (and if not, you know how to get a hold of me for help). 🙂

Getting Things Done

It has only been in the last year that I actually picked up and read David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.  As I’ve mentioned before, my father was an avid follower of Franklin Covey – this is what I learned about how to structure time and productivity.  I’ve also seen how often Franklin Covey does not work for people – clients with binders never opened and frustration.  This is just another reason there is such a plethora of systems for people – one way doesn’t work for everyone.  David Allen doesn’t care what tools you use, he outlines his way of organizing your time and productivity.

A major component of David Allen’s Getting Things Done approach is the idea that if something will take you less than 2 minutes to accomplish – you do it now.  If it will take you longer than 2 minutes, you then evaluate where it needs to go: into a specific day/time in your calendar or into your organization system to do later (or to delegate it).  If you can successfully apply this, you cannot procrastinate those fast tasks and will in fact getting things done.  Also intrinsic to this system is the need to review your system at regular intervals from the daily to the Weekly Review.

There are 5 stages to mastering work-flow: collect, process, organize, review, and do.  One of the steps people gloss over is often the collecting – it can be hard to really collect all of your tasks, emptying your mind of everything and getting it down on paper (or electronically).  Our brains can only hold a certain amount of information at a given time – we need to have it collected somewhere concrete.  Processing is about deciding on the next action item, which I wrote about in “Decide on the Next Action.” Organize for him is where you add the action to your calendar or appropriate list.  Review is critical to any time management system; you need to stay aware of what is on the horizon.  Finally, do is for deciding on what you will tackle next.

One of the most intriguing aspects of what David Allen talks about is his “4 Criteria for Choosing Actions in the Moment.”  Many systems focus first and foremost on the priority of the task, not with Getting Things Done.  This applies only to those tasks that aren’t important enough to be in your calendar already.  His criteria are:

  1. Context
  2. Time available
  3. Energy available
  4. Priority

Context is an easy initial criterion since if the task requires a computer, but you are not near one, you cannot do it.  Time and energy available are self-explanatory, and do need to be evaluated before deciding on a task.  No matter how high the priority might be to work on ‘x’, if you do not have the time or energy, it’s better to wait until the initial 3 criteria are in place.  I think choosing your next action based on following these criteria could ease the stress I see people putting on themselves – the rational for why they need to wait.

Most productivity systems promote the importance of thinking beyond the immediate – Stephen Covey wants you to create a mission statement for your life; David Allen is no different, he talks about the six levels for reviewing: the runway or your current actions to 50,000+ feet or life.  David Allen clearly outlines what the six levels are and I find this more accessible than a mission statement.  Too often this is an area we neglect in our planning, yet is a worthwhile task in order to keep us in line with where we want to be.

Although this book was a bit dry, I appreciated many of his ideas.  It has flexibility built into it, with the idea that you don’t put things into your calendar that aren’t time sensitive.  I’ve been know to be one of those people who will put things into the calendar with the best of intentions and then to avoid it.  I’ve learned how important it is to keep the calendar a sacred space and now have another way to approach the other tasks – to consider the 4 criteria.

The key to any system you use to manage your time and productivity is to make time for reviewing.  It’s likely most of us fall off our systems from time to time – I know I do – but we need to be able to get back on the system.  David Allen lays out the steps to hopping back onto it and makes it easier to do so.

Negativity – Nip it in the Bud Now

A few weeks ago, I found myself leaving some client’s homes feeling very frustrated.  I realize most of you don’t know me, yet this is not typical.  To make matters even more interesting, it wasn’t about the clients. No, really it wasn’t.  It was actually about the family members I had been interacting with for a couple of moments here or there.  Part of me wanted to absolutely scream at them! Sometimes wishing I could shake them – jostle some compassion into them.

It also had me wanting to grab and squeeze my clients, hoping I could through osmosis make them not believe the negativity.  I know how challenging it can be to contradict the negativity of others.  Especially when they come from someone you love.  My frustration was coming from seeing the insensitivity to my client.  How pointless to comment on how “easy” or “simple” this should be – at least according to them, and not considering the client’s struggles or even that they’ve asked for help.  That’s why I am there after all (and hearing the comments).

Many people have different ways of approaching the same thing – while the end goal is relatively the same.  Often the struggles of getting to that place can be overwhelming.  Every person I work with has beautiful strengths, as well as the requisite challenges (this is called being human) and follows his or her own process.  They work at different speeds and make progress in different ways.

Can you allow this for yourself?  Can you have the strength to be whom you are and where you are at without negativity filling you?

The family members aren’t always the ones being critical.  Often it is the client themselves, beating themselves up.  Labeling themselves as this or that; at least this I can try to address directly.  Negativity rarely serves any of us well.  How often does it help you tackle that project?  Or think outside the box to come up with a different solution to this struggle?

I truly wish that organizing could be easier – and easy for everyone.  Just imagine the way our quality of life would improve! Also, frustration does often seem to come from love and the feeling of helplessness – the inability to help make a difference.  In the meantime, stop the negativity – whether from yourself or from listening to it from others. There’s no easy answer to this, yet beginning to be aware of it and contradicting it.  Discover your strengths and remind yourself of these.