Category Archives for "Organizing Tips"

Beautiful Living Room by Organize My Space Calgary
Feb 21

Being an Organized Person

By Noreen Music | Organizing Resources , Organizing Tips

Being an organized person

So what does it mean to be an organized person?

Being an organized person means different things to different people.

There is a sliding clutter scale where we each feel the most comfortable and in control of our lives. Some people prefer their spaces to be pristine and minimalist while others are happiest when they can see more of their stuff.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to being organized. The most important thing is that your spaces work for you.

If you feel ashamed to have company over, you regularly can't find things you need, or you miss paying bills on the due date because of clutter, it is time to get organized.

How do you become more organized?

Organized people are not born that way....really they're not. They have simply learned skills, tools, habits, and systems to get and keep themselves organized.

The good news is that anyone can learn to become more organized!

You may think "I'm just not that way." or "I'm too creative/spontaneous." and that is understandable.

But if you are open-minded and motivated to implement a few basics, you can live a more organized and stress-free life.

Basics of becoming organized

When you are an organized person, your house is neat, and you keep track of what you need to accomplish and when.

You know what your priorities are. You have simple systems in place. You use tools to help make tasks more efficient. You understand the basics of organization.

The following practices, systems and habits illustrate what being organized looks like.

  • You take time to think about what is most important and set goals for yourself.
  • You use your goals & priorities as a filter for what you commit to (and what you don't) and what important tasks you focus on completing.
  • You find tools that work for you such as technology, apps, paper planners/calendars, meal planning methods, etc.
  • You declutter any excess stuff regularly. Your golden rule is to only have what you need, use and love.
  • You have simple systems that you actually use. 
  • You have established daily routines to keep your spaces clean, organized and prepared for the next day.

Benefits of being organized

The benefits of being organized are numerous and truly life-changing.

Here are just a few of the transformative ways your life will improve.

  • Making small and simple shifts reduces your feelings of overwhelm and stress.
  • You project a better image to your clients, colleagues and friends.
  • What you accomplish in a shorter amount of time amazes you.
  • You gain energy and a sense of calm from your spaces. 
  • You find the freedom to be creative, pursue your passions and have more fun in your life!

Enjoying the satisfaction and advantages of living a more organized life is within your reach.

You will never regret becoming a more organized person.

Looking for more help?

If you are looking for more help, check out our DIY organizing resources to find a ton of great suggestions.

Need even more help getting organized and putting systems in place to stay that way? Call us at (587) 889-7189 and we can chat.

We are here for you.

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

Top 10 Productivity Secrets to Reduce Stress and Leave the Office on Time
Feb 21

Top 10 Productivity Secrets

By Noreen Music | Organizing Tips

Top 10 Productivity Secrets to Reduce Stress and Leave the Office on Time

Are you always stressed out and never able to leave the office on time?

Do you feel no matter how hard you try, your email inbox never gets to zero, your calendar is out of control and your to-do list is overwhelming? 

You are not alone….

The sheer volume of information to sift through, the myriad of distractions and ever-increasing workplace expectations is constantly increasing. How we worked a decade ago doesn't work anymore.

To combat the overwhelm, we must think differently about how we work. 

Being organized and productive is the key to eliminating stress and feeling good as you leave the office on time at the end of the day.

Try these top 10 productivity secrets to reduce stress and leave the office on time.

1. A stress-free day starts the night before.

Think about your current evening routines - what can you do the night before to make your next day as stress-free as possible?

  • Do you set out your work outfit while changing into your casual clothes?
  • Have you prepared a healthy lunch/snack when making dinner?
  • Do you get your morning coffee/tea/breakfast ready after doing the dishes?
  • Is your gym bag packed and good to go for your workout tomorrow?
  • Should you set your alarm half an hour earlier so you aren't rushing or late?
  • Have you established the practice of journaling, meditating/praying or reading before lights out?
  • Do you go to sleep at around the same time every night and get a good 7-8 hours of restful sleep?

Being organized in advance keeps your stress levels down as you feel confident in your preparations. You can't control the traffic, bad weather or a surprise meeting at work but you can control how you set yourself up for success.

This will help reduce stress and let you leave the office on time.

2. Schedule your hardest projects for when your brain is the most active.

Determine the time of day when your brain is the most active and you are ready to accomplish your hardest tasks. It could be the first thing in the morning, just after lunch or later in the day.

Now is the time to tackle your most difficult or least favourite projects and the ones you have been putting off. By doing this, you are actually training your brain not to procrastinate and these tasks get easier. 

To ensure maximum attention, reduce distractions by blocking your calendar, closing your door, turning off all electronic notifications and settle in. You will be amazed by how much you can accomplish when you simply schedule your hardest work during your brain’s most active state.

3. Remove any unnecessary clutter.

If your work environment is disorganized and cluttered, declutter your workspace. Solid productivity practices rely on creating an environment that is conducive to efficiency and effectiveness.

Remove any obvious trash. Clear away any unnecessary clutter from the top of your work surface and only store on top of your desk what you use daily. For papers set up 4 file folders or boxes - 1 for important & urgent, 1 for important & not urgent, 1 for not important and 1 for agonizing. Keep a notepad handy and write down any to-do's as you go so you don't sidetracked.

Group similar items together then put them away. Daily items go on top of the desk, items you use several times a week go in a desk drawer close by, items used once a week or once a month can go in a cabinet close by, items used a few times a year can go in the least accessible cabinet and rarely or never used items can be archived.

4. Clean your email inbox to zero.

Now before you gasp in disbelief and close your browser, hear me out. Even if you have 7,000+ emails in your inbox, this will work for you. Follow these simple steps to find the bottom of your email inbox once and for all:

STEP ONE: Mass Deleting & Filing

The fact is, at least 80% of your emails do not require any real significant action on your part so get comfortable using the delete button. A word of caution however....be ruthless but not reckless with deleting. DO NOT read each email in its entirety - at this stage you are focusing on weeding out all of the unnecessary noise and the emails you don't need to do anything with.

Sort & delete emails by FROM - Ask yourself these questions - has this person left the company, is the project over or is it the fridge cleaning notice from 4 months ago?

Sort & delete emails by SUBJECT - Do you have email strings from a group conversation that you can delete except the last one? Has a date or event already passed and is no longer relevant? Do you have emails from retailers or blogs that you never read (hint unsubscribe from these please)?

Sort & file emails by DATE - If you have many months worth of emails, the chances are pretty good that anything over 6 months can be safely bulk filed in an "EMAIL BONEYARD" reference file.  If you haven't needed anything from this folder in another 6-8 weeks, delete it.

STEP TWO: Processing Emails One by One

Now that you have mass filed and deleted, you should only have about 20% of your email backlog left. This is where you sit down and process each email one by one.  Use the D is for Decision method:

  • Delete it or file it.
  • Do it now, if it takes less than 2-5 minutes.
  • Do it later by sliding the email into your task list or writing it on your to-do list.
  • Decide if it should be filed for reference or future use.
  • Delegate it to someone else to do.
  • Defer the decision by adding it to your task list or calendar.
  • Decide if you need to follow up with someone or track if someone else follows through.

When you make one of these decisions for each and every email, your email inbox will be at zero. This will reduce stress and let you leave the office on time.

5. How to keep your email inbox at zero.

Now that you are on top of your email inbox and no longer scrolling up and down wasting precious hours a day and stressing about what you are missing or not getting done, here is how you keep your emails to zero:

STEP ONE: Set Up Processing Folders

Action Folder - This is where every email goes that you are actually working on NOT sitting in your inbox. Emails here should only take 2-5 minutes to deal with. Emails that take longer to work on go into your task/project list.

Read Folder - This is for those emails that you need to read but they can wait until later. Use unproductive time like waiting in line or at the doctor's office to do your reading.

Holding Folder - This folder is where emails go while you are waiting on someone else to do something or you're waiting for an answer, a quote, etc.  This folder can also be used to remind yourself to send reminders to other people.

STEP TWO: Set Up Reference Folders

Set up reference folders into larger buckets with NO sub-folders (and definitely no sub-sub-folders). A smaller number of folders ensures you make quicker decisions about where to file an email when you are processing your inbox plus it leaves fewer options and makes it easier to look for an email in the future.

STEP THREE: Process Emails 1-3x a Day

Your email inbox is where new emails land and are waiting for you to process them, that's it.

Schedule in your calendar 1-3 times a day to keep your inbox at zero. Resist the urge to check your emails at any other time unless you are expecting an urgent message. We only do this to procrastinate on work, when our brains have decision fatigue or to look busy. 

Clear the handful of emails that have accumulated in your inbox since the last time you checked using the D method and you will always be at zero!

6. Take control of your time.

Is your calendar filled with the will of others rather than the necessities of your work or the company? Do you make casual commitments and then regret offering to set up that lunch or coffee? 

Schedule and attend meetings only if absolutely necessary. Use your goals to be clear around what's important to you and as a filter for what you say yes to and what you say no to. You are still a good person with a kind heart even if you (nicely) say no.

Move to a fixed calendar. Block your calendar for your various projects or tasks when you know your brainpower is at its peak and when it's not. Try scheduling your calendar using themes such as "Marketing Mondays" or "Catch-All Fridays".

Remember that we are not able to work more than 20-30 minutes at a time on one project so set time limits on longer projects, take breaks and switch projects/tasks during the day to keep your mind activated.

Schedule uninterrupted periods to reflect and be creative. Make yourself a priority by scheduling in your workouts, downtime, family and fun time.  This is your life and your calendar after all.

Don't forget to leave white space in your calendar for the unexpected, travel to and from commitments/meetings and time to go dark and take a break. Down time is critical to reduce stress and to be productive and in control so you can leave the office on time.

7. Keep a To-Do List

Keep a to-do list and write everything down. When your brain knows you have all of your important tasks written down in one place, you relax. Yes you still need to do the work, but your calendar is now set up with blocks of time to be productive with limited distractions.

Use tasks in Outlook, OneNote, Evernote, a paper planner/notebook or any other system that works for you. Your to-do list is the place where your tasks from various sources are captured. When you come back to your office from a meeting and have an action item - record it on your to-do list. You speak with a customer and need to follow up - put in on your to-do list. You have a great idea in the shower - write it down on your to-do list.

Your to-do list helps you know exactly what you need to do and how much time you need to block in your calendar to get things done. There is also a real rush in crossing off tasks and seeing how much you accomplish!

8. Don't multitask

Multitasking is impossible. Our brains can only focus on one thing at a time (music playing in the background is ok). It's good to have a one-track mind. Be present and concentrate on the task at hand or the conversation you are having at that moment.

You will accomplish far more by focusing in on one thing at a time, then juggling multiple tasks and completing none of them.

9. Take regular breaks.

Take breaks. Get up, stretch, go outside, grab a healthy snack or a glass of water, listen to your favourite playlist. And no, being on social media or playing Sudoku while your work is open in the background is not a break.

10. End well

How you end your day is just as important as how you start it.

Keep the last 20-30 minutes of your day for tidying up any loose ends. Jot down any last-minute tasks on your to-do list. Make sure your email inbox is at zero. Get your meeting notes ready for tomorrow. Clean your desk off. Organize your project folders and tasks in order of priority ready to start fresh in the morning.

Implement these top 10 productivity secrets to reduce stress and leave the office on time.

Need more help getting organized at work? Go to our business organizing page and check out our 4P Productivity Program and coaching services or call us at (587) 889-7198. 

We are always here to help you.

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

SPACE-Acronym
Jan 11

How to Organize Any Space

By Noreen Music | Organizing Tips

How to Organize Any Space

S.P.A.C.E is an easy way to remember how to organize any space!

The S.P.A.C.E acronym stands for:

S = Sort
Gather all similar items together that should or can be stored together. Having similar items in multiple locations can cause confusion and clutter. This also allows you to visually see what and how much you have.

P = Purge
This is the process of going thru your items one by one and deciding what you want to keep. Ask yourself - do I need it, use it or love it? The items you let go of should be boxed up into donate, sell, recycle/garbage and be dealt with right away.

A = Assign
Now that you are left with only the items you need, use or love, it is time to assign a place for everything. It makes sense to keep things where you use them. Creating zones also helps such as a craft zone, reading area, paperwork zone, etc.

C = Containerize / Label
Containers and labels make it easy to keep all of your items grouped together in their proper home. This step makes it easy to retrieve your items, you know exactly what you have, you won't accumulate more than you need and putting things back is easy because you know where it belongs.

E = Evaluate
This is a critical step in the organizing process. It takes a lot of effort to get your spaces organized and you don't want to end up disorganized and cluttered again. Revisit your systems to make sure they work for you. If they don't, modify them.

Need more help organizing your space?

Check out our DIY section for a ton of great resources to help you get more organized.

Or you can ask us a question by leaving a comment below and we will respond with expert advise to help you.

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

Hassle Free Holidays
Dec 09

A Hassle-Free Holiday Season

By Noreen Music | Organizing Tips

When did the holidays become such a hassle?

We rush around crowded malls buying mountains of gifts we can't afford. We spend hours planning and attending an overwhelming amount of holiday events and commitments because we feel obligated.

There are gifts to wrap, decorations to put up, baking to do, special meals to cook and, oh yeah, enjoy Christmas.

I know there's no way of getting around many of the to-do's that come with this time of year. It is an incredibly busy and stressful season without a doubt. For some, it is a really sad and lonely time too.

Christmas however, is meant to bring light into a dark world. It is a time to nourish ourselves and our loved ones, to reconnect with what gives us true joy and peace. It's a time to celebrate an amazing gift given to mankind.

For instance, we have a choice. We can fall into the hassle and stress of the holidays or we can focus on the magic and wonder of Christmas. Sorry but big box stores and TV marketing ads should not get to choose for us.

Ask yourself these important questions for a hassle-free holiday season....

  • Who do I really want to spend the holidays with?
  • How much time and money am I willing to give without sacrificing my calendar and pocketbook?
  • What traditions mean the most to me?
  • Who can I truly bless or serve or reach out to in comfort?

Above all, being clear and focused on the reason behind the season reduces the stress and hassle you experience. You may decide to let go of a few things that no longer serve you (with love and gratitude of course). Some special people and traditions you may hold onto even closer.

Not all of the holiday hassle can be eliminated from your life, but it can be dramatically quieted when you focus on what is most important to you.

Leave a comment below telling us what part of getting ready for the holidays stresses you out the most. I will respond with my best tips for you.

From my family to yours, I wish you a blessed and hassle-free holiday season!

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen