5 Ways to be More Productive That Have Nothing to do With Organizing

There's more to productivity than just getting and staying organized. Being productive, like being healthy and happy, takes a little bit of work to achieve. Luckily there are many ways to enjoy a productive life that are easy to incorporate into your already busy life. While I mostly focus on organizing, it's a lot easier to get and stay organized when you are happy and healthy as well. Think of all 3 of them are part of a larger whole that leads to an amazing life. When you incorporate them into your daily life, they become part of your life plan rather than a "have to" that you stick into your life only when things look or feel horrible.

These are my top 5 ways I've incorporated into my life to be more productive that have nothing to do with organizing.

Eat Healthier

I started eating healthier when I developed a serious illness and chose to rely on natural remedies to heal myself rather than conventional western medicine. However, here is what I learned when I started eating healthier:

- I can eat more. In fact, I have to eat more. Fruits and vegetables naturally have less fat and calories than processed foods so I have to add in more food during the day to make up for that. 

- I get to eat more often. In fact, I learned that if you eat a snack or small meal every hour or two, it helps you keep your brain and body functioning at its peak.

- No guilt. I can eat as many fruits and vegetables as I want and I know that all of them are healing me from the inside out.

- In the 6 months since I've incorporated more fruits and vegetables into my diet, I've noticed an improvement of my skin, I'm naturally feeling more positive and more resilient and my body has been healing and getting stronger. 

- Try apples, clementines, bananas, celery, cucumbers, carrots, raisin and dried apricots as snacks during times you feel peckish and see how much better you start to feel!

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Sleep More

Most of us are exhausted and running on empty. This is not a healthy way to go through life and it certainly isn't going to make you more productive. In order to maintain focus and complete tasks, you must have energy. Eating healthy foods will provide you with some energy but without enough rest, you still won't be functioning at 100%. Here are some tricks I use to fall asleep every night more easily: 

- Go to bed at the same time every night. It helps your body get into a routine and you're much more likely to fall asleep quickly because your body and brain are expecting it.

- Remove or cover your electronic devices. They give off both light and energy which can distract you from your slumber.

- Remove all your work from your sleeping area. Give your brain a rest. If you keep work in your sleeping space your brain will automatically assume you still want to work, even when you're trying to sleep. Removing it will allow you to relax and enjoy a restful sleep.

- Try Implementing a Bedtime Routine. You know you did it as a kid. Your mom or dad would probably tuck you in and read you a book and halfway through you were asleep. It was the routine that did it so try incorporating a bedtime routine back into your schedule.

- Lavender and other scents are known to naturally aid in sleeping. Trying putting some on your body, in the room or on your pillow to help you relax and fall asleep more easily.

Take Deep Breaths

Breathing will help take you back into the present. We often get so worried and focused on the past or the future, which are both things we can't change right now, that we forget the only time we really have is now. Taking deep breaths will automatically force you back into the present.

It will also help you focus and deliver much needed oxygen to your body and your brain.

- Try taking 3 deep breaths every time you feel stressed. It will automatically start to de-stress you and allow you to think more clearly.

- Try meditating at least for a few minutes every day. The longer you can meditate for, the better, but even a few minutes of the practice will start to help you de-stress and focus more clearly.

Light Exercise

Exercise is beneficial to the mind, body and spirit. We know this and yet so many of us don't exercise. However, I think a lot of it has to do with many of us thinking exercise has to be hard and at least an hour and done at a gym. It doesn't and it shouldn't unless that's how you enjoy exercising. There are so many forms of exercise to choose from that it should be easy to find something you actually enjoy. Also, exercising can be done at any time, anywhere and doesn't have to be done all at once - even taking the stairs once a day can add up to a lifetime of health benefits.

- Stretching is a great way to put some blood back into your body and can be done for as little as a few minutes a day.

- Tai chi is a great exercise for those with or without limited movement.

- Every hour or two stand up and stretch at your desk and/or walk around the block. It will help get your heart moving and your brain refocused.

Have More Fun!

Sounds counter-productive, doesn't it? However, fun is a great way to alleviate stress and just be in the moment. By incorporating fun into your life, you're giving yourself permission to rest and relax which then allows your brain and body to do the same thing. When you let go, sometimes that's when problems are solved because you aren't focusing on them. 

- Watch a funny movie or tv show

- Play with your kids

- Play a game on Wii, the Internet, a game board or with cards

Even 10 minutes of play every day will help you refocus and get more done while becoming a happier, healthier person.

How to Become a Better Shopper & Organize Your Closet Permanently By Setting Boundaries

Shopping is a major part of the organizational experience. Ensuring you make smart purchases is half the battle in keeping clutter at bay, but when you shop without setting boundaries it's often very easy to bring home garments you don't like, use or need. Those unwanted and unnecessary items lead to clutter, chaos, confusion and waste your time, money and energy. They also lead to an unkempt, depressing looking closet filled with stuff you don't like wearing. 

It's important to enlist the help of boundaries when you set out shopping so you make smarter purchasing decisions. Boundaries help us make the right decisions to ensure that we are aligned with our priorities. Knowing our priorities and setting boundaries help us to make smarter, self love based decisions, which help us create happier, healthier, more productive lives. With that in mind, these 3 boundaries can help you become a better shopper and help you keep an organized closet filled with clothing you like permanently. 

 

20 Wears Boundary:

Shopping becomes easier when you search for items you can visualize wearing at least 20 times before getting rid of it. Another way to do this process is to ask yourself realistically how many times you think you might wear the item - choose a number that works for your lifestyle and stick with it.

-Helps eliminate "shopping high" purchases that are awesome until you get them home and then they sit in the bag until you donate them

-Eliminates the possibility of buying cheaply made clothing that won't last for 20 wears

-Forces you to buy what you truly love rather than stuff that you kind of like or is a quick fad

-Better for the environment

 

Easy to Repair/Clean Boundary:

Most of us lead pretty busy lives so buying clothing that is hard to clean or difficult to repair should something happen is usually not a good idea. Ask yourself before you shop what effort you're willing to put into the care of your clothing and then purchase items based on your honest answer. You may realize that machine-washable clothing is your best option for your busy, never-getting-to-the-dry-cleaners life.

-Easier to clean means more likely to wear more often

-Easier to repair means the shelf life of the garment is longer and will look great longer, too

-Helps you buy items based on the reality of your life rather than the fantasy a silk shirt may hold 

-Less time, money and effort wasted on cheap clothing that falls apart

Fit and Fabulous Boundary:

If it doesn't fit and look fabulous on you at the store, don't buy it. I don't care if you're planning on losing (or gaining) weight or not. Never buy something that doesn't look amazing on you at the time of your purchase. It is a waste of your time, energy, money and self-esteem. You deserve to look great and feel fabulous now and your wardrobe should reflect that. Stop looking to the past or the future for how you "should" look and look fabulous now, no matter what you look like. 

-Helps you feel more confident, which leads to smarter decision making

-Buying clothing you look amazing in now will ensure you always shop smart and create a beautiful wardrobe that you want to wear

-You're worth it, duh

 

5 Ways to Stay On Top Of Your Resolutions

Feeling stuck after less than a month into 2017? Do your resolutions feel like a cruel joke that might never come to fruition? The beginning of a new year starts out the same for everyone: we are excited and hopeful about the upcoming year and what it may bring us. We all start out strong in our determination to create real change but after a few weeks into our goal, we often find ourselves ready to throw in the towel. 

This doesn't just happen to us in when a new year happens. This hitting-a-brick-wall feeling can happen whenever you start to focus on your goals. You start out fine and hopeful that your goals are within reaching distance and then something happens to derail you and the hope starts to fade. So what can you do when that wall hits you and you're feeling like you got left behind in quicksand?

1. Accept Where You Are Now. 

In other words, if you're trying to get organized and you still have a huge mess to contend with in your home, accept it. If you're trying to lose weight but right now your favorite jeans don't fit, accept it. If you want to earn $1 million dollars but right now your bank account is -$20, accept it. The fastest way out of where you are is to just accept where you are. You certainly don't have to like it, but the more quickly you accept it, the more quickly you'll be able to change things because you'll have moved out of resisting what you don't like seeing.

2. Swap Out Guilt, Fear & Shame for Self Love.

Fear, guilt and shame are heavy emotions that usually force people to make bad decisions in their lives. If you truly want to achieve your goals, the best emotion to chase is that of self love. Self love will help you make good, smart decisions that will help you achieve your goal much more quickly and self love will most definitely help you power through those times when you feel your goals are too far away to reach. The more you choose to let go of guilt, fear and shame, the easier, happier and more productive your life will feel.

3. Find a Partner, a Coach or Be Your Own Best Friend.

Goals are always easier to reach more quickly when you have people cheering you on. Ask friends, family, or co-workers to help support you in your goals. On those tough days they'll be there to remind you that all the effort you're putting in is worth it and to keep going.

A coach can also help you develop an effective step-by-step strategy and will definitely be there to help you stop self sabotaging your efforts. If you don't have a strong support system and/or can't afford a coach, the next best thing is to be your own cheering squad. Little things like leaving motivational messages around your home and giving yourself a pep talk in the mirror can help you remind you that you're worth it and to keep going!

4. Look for Small Signs of Improvement.

If you keep focused on the big goals, like losing 40 pounds or organizing the whole house, it may actually stop you in your tracks. The goal may seem too hard to reach or too far away to ever obtain. When you focus on the small measures of improvement you are making, it helps keep you focused and reminds you that you ARE improving.

If you're looking to get organized, focus on the bags of stuff you've already donated or thrown out. If you're dieting focus on the fact that you can exercise longer than you could before you started. Focusing on the small successes will help you achieve your big goal.

5. Speaking of Small: Make Small Steps Toward Your Goal Every Single Day.

Some days are going to look and feel a lot better than others. Some days you will want to give up because your goal seems impossible and you feel like you've done everything within your power to change but you're not seeing the results yet. Some days you won't even have time to organize or maybe you ate an entire pie by yourself and you feel your diet is ruined. Some days are going to suck.

Expect that. Thrive in that suckiness! The more that you realize and accept that some days will feel like you're going backwards, the easier it will be to continue taking steps toward your goals. Take small steps because they're easier. You may not see the results immediately, but taking smaller steps will ensure you get to that goal more quickly. 

Also expect that setbacks are a normal part of the process. Sometimes you will take 1 step forward and 3 steps back. That's okay. Just keep moving forward and keep focused on your goals. Also remember to enjoy the process because you're learning and growing and this is your life right now. Happiness can be achieved and should be enjoyed now, not just at the culmination of your goal. 

How Organizing Helps Complex Thinking

I meet a lot of intelligent people in my line of work. One might think that being disorganized is a sign of a lack of intelligence but since organization is both an innate and taught skill set, it has nothing to do with intelligence. In fact, I find that intelligence and disorganization often go hand in hand. I think it has to do with the fact that many intelligent people I work with love a great challenge and it's their love of a challenge that gets them stuck in the disorganization in the first place. They think something isn't worth doing if it's easy so they complicate everything to keep it interesting for themselves. However, what ends up happening is that they get bogged down in the easy stuff, grow quickly frustrated and never give themselves an opportunity to focus on the really complex stuff that could produce great changes in the world.

For those of you who love a great challenge but struggle with disorganization, here are some tips to help you get out of your own way so you can start solving real problems: 

  • Save the Struggle for Something Real: Challenges are fun for the complex thinker but isn't it more fun to focus on an actual complex thought and solve it rather than wasting time focusing on creating a challenge in what should be a simple task with a simple solution? Your mind shouldn't be wasted on finding your lost keys (again) or that paper that was just in your hand or that other mindless task that is needlessly preoccupying your mind and time. Stop reinventing the wheel and focus on a real problem. Organizing will allow things to run smoothly and help you focus on the complex matters. 

 

  • Systematize the Easy Stuff: Many highly successful people like Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg and the late Steve Jobs all own a few outfits that they wear over and over rather than having huge wardrobe of items to choose from. This helps them have more time to focus on running their business (or the country) rather than wasting time in their closet deciding what they feel like wearing that day. Why waste time on menial tasks when there are far more interesting, complex matters to be dealt with?

 

  • Make Your Own Life Easy: Life is complicated and exhausting enough without us getting in our own way. Personally speaking, after suffering through a long and debilitating illness, my energy levels are now incredibly precious to me. I know what it is to be without any energy and it is terrifying and limiting. Basics tasks became major challenges so as a result of my experiences, I have developed easy systems to help me utilize my energy more efficiently. I realized I had a question to ask myself every day: Do I want to feel energized and continue to contribute to making a difference in this world or do I want to be exhausted just tending to menial tasks? I now focus on tackling the hard stuff first and then create systems to let the easier stuff handle itself as much as possible. 

 

  • Chaos is Not Inspirational: If you find that you're currently thriving on chaos, trust me, you'll burn out quickly and dramatically. If you need inspiration, then take a look around and see what's happening in the world. There's plenty of stuff happening all over the place that is chaotic and dramatic or inspirational and beautifully simplistic. You only need to open your eyes to see what's in front of you so take a walk, read a book, visit a museum or meditate.  Just don't allow actual dysfunction be judged as inspiration. While tough times and bad experiences can be inspirational, usually it only can be used that way after you've learned to step away and become an observer of the chaos, rather than a willing or unwilling participant.

 

  • Getting Help Isn't Giving Up: We all think we should be able to solve our own problems and achieve our own goals without any help. Often we think it's a sign of weakness or lack of intelligence to ask for or appear to need help but that erroneous way of thinking gets us stuck and bogged down in useless clutter. Ask for help. Delegate. Outsource. If you look at a truly successful person (happy and healthy and wealthy) they got that way because they surrounded themselves with a team of happy, healthy, positive, supportive people who helped them stay focused on what was most important to them. Hire a coach, a therapist, surround yourself with loved one's and appreciate those who help you along the way - this team of people will allow you to become the greatest version of yourself you can be, so don't be afraid to ask for help and support.

Home Organization Tips to Get Your Home Ready for the Holidays

This is an article I was featured in for Budget Dumpster. Please enjoy!

This is an article I was featured in for Budget Dumpster. Please enjoy!

Home Organization Tips to Get Your Home Ready for the Holidays

Ah, the holiday season is upon us.

From Late November to early January, there will be more pumpkin pie, Hallmark Christmas movies and college football bowl games than ever.

It’s the hap-happiest season of all. Yet for some, it also can be one of the most stressful.

Whether it’s the crowds and long lines at the stores, gaining weight or traveling, the holidays can be a hectic time for some. And if you’re expecting family over your house, that can add to the stress, especially if your home isn’t quite ready.

Don’t worry though, there’s still time to bring your home up to par. Here are some tips for organizing your home for the holidays that will keep your cup of cheer full:

Tip #1: Start Early

The best way to avoid stress this holiday season, especially if you’re expecting guests, is to start early. Give yourself an ample amount of time for cleaning, shopping and everything else you need to get done in preparation for the holidays.

“You can avoid stress by creating a list of small tasks to get ready for your holiday event and doing them a few at a time in advance of the event. That way you don’t get caught up in a whirlwind of activity before guests arrive.”

Janine Adams I  Peace of Mind Organizing

Tip #2: Call for Reinforcements

After all, you don’t have to do it all by yourself. We all know that getting organized for the holidays can get a little crazy. There’s no shame in asking for help – or hiring it for that matter. Hiring a caterer or servers will help lighten your load and free up some of your time. Keep in mind, though, that catering companies book well in advance, particularly around the holidays.

“Check to see what options you have available to help you get everything put together. Also, ask your friends and relatives to help. Most of them would rather help you prepare a meal or bring a dish than sit around waiting to be served.”

Alison Kero I ACK Organizing

Tip #3: Keep it Simple

No need to complicate things or add more work for yourself. Being a host comes with its share of responsibilities, but don’t overwhelm yourself. Simplicity is a great thing. Put off large-scale home improvement projects until after the holidays. The last thing you want is to be in the middle of an unfinished project, especially if you’re having guests over or even traveling yourself. Wait until things slow down. The holidays can be stressful enough, so cut back on stress rather than adding to it.

Tip #4: Declutter and Organize

For anything you don’t like, use or need, get rid of. Getting rid of stuff can be very therapeutic for some. One of the most important home organization tips is, well, organizing your home. This includes making room in your coat closet and decluttering the public areas of your home, such as the kitchen, living room and dining room. Make and prioritize a to-do list and stick to it. Do a little holiday cleaning, especially guest bedrooms and bathrooms. These areas should be clean and inviting. Make your guests feel welcome and secure. Read our Ridiculously Thorough Guide to Decluttering Your Home for room-by-room tips to feel more organized.

“You want to create a serene atmosphere for your guests. Trust me; they don’t want to be surrounded by clutter. Declutter and organize the areas that your guests will see, especially the entryway. Don’t let a cluttered entryway be the first thing your guests see. They will immediately form an opinion about your home.”

Kristin Carcieri-MacRae I Organizing In RI

Tip #5: Decorate Early

Don’t wait until the last minute to put up holiday decorations.

Home organization tips, as well as the holidays, wouldn’t be complete without decorations. This is your chance to showcase your decorative pumpkins, cornucopia or your display of Christmas lights. However, as you begin to sift through boxes upon boxes of holiday charm, don’t overwhelm your home’s space with décor, crafts and other decorations. The idea is to minimize the clutter.

Now that you know how to get your home ready for the holidays, it’s time to get in the spirit of the season. And if you know of any more holiday organization tips, let us know in the comments section below.