Category Archives for "Organizing Tips"

WFH Series - Routines for Success
Oct 01

WORK FROM HOME SERIES – Organization & Productivity Solutions: Routines for Success

By Noreen Music | Offers & Discounts , Organizing Tips , Productivity

Have you established daily routines that keep you organized and productive while working from home?

Do you plan ahead for the next day the night before?

Work From Home Series

We are creatures of habit so it is important to maintain your work from home weekday routines as close to your normal work schedule as possible.

It is okay if you need to tweak
 some of your habits and routines to ensure working from home is a success for you.

Determine ahead of time when you will work by maintaining regular hours, keeping in mind that one of the many benefits of working from home is your ability to be more flexible.

Your daily habits and routines will make you or break you when working from home.

Organizing & Productivity Solutions: Routines for Success

Keep Your Same Morning and Evening Routines

Keep your same bedtime routine and go to sleep at the same time.

Get up on time (or early!) and get ready for the day. You don't necessarily need to wear a suit, nylons or your best jewels, but do your hair, put on a bit of make up and wear clothes you wouldn't mind answering the door or going outside for a walk in. 

The exception is if you have a video/virtual meeting - keep it professional by always looking the part even when working at home.

Maintaining your normal morning and evening routines while working at home will keep you from feeling you are on holidays and you will be super productive by getting a ton of work done!

Build Transitions In (and Out) of Work

Your previous morning commute not only physically got you to work but it also gave your brain time to prepare for work.

Just because you’re not traveling outside of your home to an office doesn’t mean you should stop a regular routine to start your workday.

Possibly you read on the train/bus or listened to music, podcasts or audio books on your commute. There is nothing stopping you from doing that same routine at home. Or you could change it up now that you are home and have breakfast with your family, walk the dog, workout or meditate.

At the end of the day, your commute home did the opposite. You had time again either on public transit or your vehicle to unwind and mentally process the day leading into your evening at home. This gives your brain time to reset and helps you transition back into your personal life.

When working from home, find something that will signal the end of your work day and the beginning of your personal time.

Go for a walk or to the gym. Watch the news. Change into your super comfy casual clothes. Do something that helps you decompress.
 

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 work from home day as focused as possible?

  • Do you set out a work outfit for the next day depending on any outside meetings or video calls?
  • Have you prepared a healthy breakfast/lunch/snack so you're not wasting your time during the day cooking?
  • Do you get your morning coffee/tea/breakfast ready after doing the dinner dishes?
  • Are your gym clothes set out for your workout tomorrow?
  • Should you set your alarm half an hour earlier so you can spend more time easing into your work from home routine?
  • 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 a lot of things in this world but you can control how you set yourself up for success while working from home.
 

Routines to End Well

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

  • 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 any meeting notes ready for tomorrow.
  • Clean your desk off and tidy up your home office.
  • Organize your project folders and tasks in order of priority ready to start fresh in the morning.

Log Off at the End of the Day

Once your work is done for the day, tidy up, shut down and walk away.

Working from home makes it even more important to log off and set good boundaries.

We all need time with family, time in nature, time to exercise, time for self care, time for fun, time for creativity, time for our souls.

Make Your Routines Personal

Above all else, figure out what works best for you. 

Sometimes the answer is obvious, but other times you might need some inspiration from other people who are in the same boat.

Seek out a supportive community of other people who work from home, either in your company or online.

Working alone has many benefits but even the most introverted among us need social interaction. Stay connected and social with team members and colleagues, family and friends.

Evaluate regularly what is working with your routines so you tweak them as needed. Work and personal circumstances change therefore, your routines should also be adapted in response.

Work from Home "Homework"

  1. Create a work from home routine that fits with your life.
  2. Decide how you will transition from home into work and from work back into your personal life
  3. Challenge yourself to stick to your routines as much as possible!

Special Work From Home Offer

For a limited time, we are offering a personalized and professionally prepared Work From Home Plan for only $95+GST!

Your Work From Home Plan includes:

  • 60-minute virtual "in-home" workspace assessment
  • Personalized 10 point organizing & productivity plan
  • 90-minute virtual implementation session
  • 30-minute virtual evaluation call
Work from Home Offer

Book Your Discovery Call

Click HERE book your FREE discovery call directly in my calendar to see if we are a good fit to work together.

Be sure to take advantage of this valuable offer while it is still available.

Our Gift to You

Included with your personal Work From Home Plan, is our exclusive 33-page Productivity Mastery E-Book as our gift to you.

Your personalized Work From Home Plan, along with your copy of the Productivity Mastery E-Book, will provide you with powerful stress-busting organizing and productivity solutions to make your work simpler and your outlook more peaceful once you start working through them. 

You cannot buy our Productivity Mastery E-Book as it is only available to our Work From Home Plan clients (valued at $19.99).

Productivity Mastery - 5 Keys to Overcome Productivity Overwhelm

Additional Resources

Here are additional Freedom Living blogs and many other valuable resources for even more support on your organizing and productivity journey.

More Work From Home Blog Posts

The first blog in our Work from Home Series focused on Your Physical Space.

The second blog in our Work from Home Series focused on Your Digital Space.

The third blog in our Work from Home Series focused on Managing Distractions.

The fourth blog in our Work from Home Series focused on Getting It Done.

Book Your Discovery Call Today!

Click HERE book your FREE discovery call directly in my calendar to see if we are a good fit to work together.

We promise your personalized Work From Home Plan will transform your spaces from frustration to freedom and you will become a Productivity Master!

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

WFH Series - Getting it Done
Oct 01

WORK FROM HOME SERIES – Organization & Productivity Solutions: Getting it Done

By Noreen Music | Offers & Discounts , Organizing Tips , Productivity

Are you accomplishing what you need too while working from home?

Is your time being used as effectively as it was in your more formal office setting?

How are you handling the increased flexibility?

Work From Home Series

Efficiency and flexibility are two of the top 10 reasons that people enjoy working from home, along with shorter hours as you can accomplish more with less distractions, interruptions and meaningless meetings.

Sometimes this flexibility is too much of a good thing however.

When your office is always there, waiting, with that deadline looming over your head or that big project you want to finish, it's hard to just close the door and pretend you've left the office for the day.

Many people who work from home find they work more hours than in a corporate office as they spend more time working at night and on weekends.

It's there and you just can’t ignore it.

If you set clear boundaries between work and home and implement these organizing and productivity skills, you will keep a five-hour day working from home, as opposed to an eight-hour day and get far more accomplished.

Organizing & Productivity Solutions: Getting it Done

Schedule Your Hardest Projects 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.

Tackle your most difficult or least favourite project and the ones you have been putting off FIRST THING. By doing this, you are retraining your brain not to procrastinate and these unpleasant or stressful tasks get easier over time.

Save phone calls, virtual meetings, processing emails, reading articles/publications, etc. for the afternoon for example, when your brain is not at its peak.

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 and keep interruptions from stopping your flow.

Time Blocking

Use the Pomodoro technique by setting a timer for 25 minute blocks with a 5 minute break or 50 minute blocks with a 10 minute break. 

You can also work for one hour then take a 15-20 minute break or work for 30 minutes then take a 5 minute break.

Use the amount of work and break time that works best for you and what type of project you are working on.

Try Strict Workflow which is a chrome plug-in which enforces 25 minutes of distraction free work and 5 minute breaks repeating until your work is done.

You can also use Time Out for Mac which is an app that locks you out of certain websites when you should be working and locks you out of your entire computer when you need a break.

Task Management

Keep one to-do list which is driven by your vision and goals for your work. 

Arrange your to-do list by importance and this is what drives your daily tasks. This will shape your day and help you focus on what’s most important to you.

Aim to complete 3-5 tasks per day. 1 bigger task and 2-3 smaller tasks is ideal.

A great to-do list with tasks full of your critical work is the key to productivity.

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 you are now working when your brain is most active with solid blocks of time to be productive and 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 all of your tasks from various sources are captured.

When you have finished a meeting and have an action item(s) - 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!

Keep a One-Track Mind

Multi-tasking 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 on the conversation you are having at that moment.

Post your vision, goals and priorities where they are clearly visible in your work from home space. Refer to them when you are tempted to do unimportant "busy" work or if you get bogged down and overwhelmed by all of the tasks you think you need to accomplish in one day.

By consistently focusing on your important work, you will see your vision come to reality and this will keep you on track when you get the desire to multi-task.
 
You will accomplish far more by dialing in on one thing at a time, then juggling multiple tasks and completing none of them.

Work from Home "Homework"

  1. Track when your brain is the most active - is it first thing in the morning, after dinner?
  2. Schedule your hardest work during these times.
  3. Try using a timer or app to time block work and breaks.

Special Work From Home Offer

For a limited time, we are offering a personalized and professionally prepared Work From Home Plan for only $95+GST!

Your Work From Home Plan includes:

  • 60-minute virtual "in-home" workspace assessment
  • Personalized 10 point organizing & productivity plan
  • 90-minute virtual implementation session
  • 30-minute virtual evaluation call
Work from Home Offer

Book Your Discovery Call

Click HERE book your FREE discovery call directly in my calendar to see if we are a good fit to work together.

Be sure to take advantage of this valuable offer while it is still available.

Our Gift to You

Included with your personal Work From Home Plan, is our exclusive 33-page Productivity Mastery E-Book as our gift to you.

Your personalized Work From Home Plan, along with your copy of the Productivity Mastery E-Book, will provide you with powerful stress-busting organizing and productivity solutions to make your work simpler and your outlook more peaceful once you start working through them. 

You cannot buy our Productivity Mastery E-Book as it is only available to our Work From Home Plan clients (valued at $19.99).

Productivity Mastery - 5 Keys to Overcome Productivity Overwhelm

Additional Resources

Here are additional Freedom Living blogs and other valuable resources for even more support on your organizing and productivity journey.

It's True: You Can be Productive While Working From Home and Here's How

7 Tips to Conquer Your Clutter

Perfectionism is the Enemy of Productivity

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

How to Get Your Email Inbox to Zero

Check out our DIY Resources page for various apps and other resources to help you manage your distractions.

To help you organize even more areas in your home, download your copy of our FREE guide Keeping Your Home Organized Through Every Season.

Read the next blog in our Work from Home Series which focuses on Routines for Success.

The previous blog in our Work from Home Series focused on Managing Distractions.

More Work From Home Blog Posts

The first blog in our Work from Home Series focused on Your Physical Space.

The second blog in our Work from Home Series focused on Your Digital Space.

The third blog in our Work from Home Series focused on Managing Distractions.

The fifth blog in our Work from Series focused on Routines for Success.

Book Your Discovery Call Today!

Click HERE book your FREE discovery call directly in my calendar to see if we are a good fit to work together.

We promise your personalized Work From Home Plan will transform your spaces from frustration to freedom and you will become a Productivity Master!

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

WFH Series - Managing Distractions
Oct 01

WORK FROM HOME SERIES – Organization & Productivity Solutions: Managing Distractions

By Noreen Music | Offers & Discounts , Organizing Tips , Productivity

How many hours a day do you spend on social media or watching "how-to" YouTube videos?

Have you set water-tight ground rules for the other people in your home?

Are the dings and pings coming from your electronics interrupting your concentration?

Work From Home Series

The issue with your brain is that it is conditioned to seek out distractions.

It has become a daily habit for many people, dare say even a compulsion, to obsessively check social media, have multiple browsers open, allow all notifications from apps, multi-tasking, etc.

When we work from home, this type of chaotic environment undermines our attention and constantly takes us away from focusing and completing our important work that move the needle on our projects, goals and the bottom line.

Organizing & Productivity Solutions: Managing Distractions

Reduce Distractions

Exercising control and managing distractions in your home environment is a serious advantage to working from home.

The secret to excellent time management is actually mind management. That means eliminating, reducing and managing distractions that repeatedly tempt your mind to wander.

There is no one asking you "just one quick question" or telling you about the fantastic movie they saw on the weekend but there are distractions when working from home that will derail your focus if they are not managed.

Managing distractions allows you to concentrate on one task at a time and keep your work flowing to stay on the productivity track.

Suggested Ways to Manage Distractions
  • Close your email.
  • Turn off all phone and computer notifications.
  • Keep social media tabs closed on your laptop to prevent temptation and only check your social media feeds on breaks or after work hours.
  • Keep the TV off (background music is ok).
  • Do your hardest work when your brain is the most active.
  • Focus on one task at a time.
  • Ear plugs or headphones - helps with noise and makes you feel like you have more privacy, helping you focus.
  • Take regular breaks.
  • Pay bills, do your online shopping, go to the gym or run other personal errands during scheduled breaks or when you are off the clock.
Schedule Breaks

Scheduling shorter and longer breaks while working from home is vital for your focus and productivity.

It's easy to get distracted by the many things that have to be done around the house during the day so use your short breaks to throw in a load of laundry, sweep the floor or check your social media (checking work email is NOT a break).

Take longer breaks to eat lunch (not at your desk, please) or to leave home and get some fresh air - go for a walk, run an errand, just leave.

Without regular breaks, the output and quality of your work substantially decreases.

If distractions during the day are unavoidable, ask your employer about working evening hours or alternate remote locations.

Boundaries

We already know that distractions will knock you off your productivity track every, single time. Attention management is a powerful tool and is the secret sauce of people who are productivity masters.

Create boundaries and ground rules for family/kids. Ask yourself what boundaries you need between work and your home life.

If anyone else is going to be at home when you're working, they have to be clear that when you're in your work from home office, you're working, even if it looks like and feels like you're hanging out at home. 

When you are sitting down to focus on work, turn off your phone and TV (background music that isn't distracting is ok). 

Minimize your email inbox and turn off all notifications. You get to decide when it is convenient for you to return phone calls and process your emails.

Resist the urge to check your social media accounts, the stock market or Google as these things are all designed to keep you going down as many rabbit holes as possible for as long as possible.

Block time in your calendar to complete work and stick to it.

Work from Home "Homework"

  1. Make a list of your worst distractions.
  2. Write rules and clear boundaries on how you will counter your biggest distractions.
  3. Make an agreement with yourself to stop doing these things.

Special Work From Home Offer

For a limited time, we are offering a personalized and professionally prepared Work From Home Plan for only $95+GST!

Your Work From Home Plan includes:

  • 60-minute virtual "in-home" workspace assessment
  • Personalized 10 point organizing & productivity plan
  • 90-minute virtual implementation session
  • 30-minute virtual evaluation call
Work from Home Offer

Book Your Discovery Call

Click HERE book your FREE discovery call directly in my calendar to see if we are a good fit to work together.

Be sure to take advantage of this valuable offer while it is still available.

Our Gift to You

Included with your personal Work From Home Plan, is our exclusive 33-page Productivity Mastery E-Book as our gift to you.

Your personalized Work From Home Plan, along with your copy of the Productivity Mastery E-Book, will provide you with powerful stress-busting organizing and productivity solutions to make your work simpler and your outlook more peaceful once you start working through them. 

You cannot buy our Productivity Mastery E-Book as it is only available to our Work From Home Plan clients (valued at $19.99).

Productivity Mastery - 5 Keys to Overcome Productivity Overwhelm

Additional Resources

Here are additional Freedom Living blogs and other valuable resources for even more support on your organizing and productivity journey.

To help you organize even more areas in your home, download your copy of our FREE guide Keeping Your Home Organized Through Every Season.

More Work From Home Blog Posts

The first blog in our Work from Home Series focused on Your Physical Space.

The second blog in our Work from Home Series focused on Your Digital Space.

The fourth blog in our Work from Home Series focused on Getting It Done.

The fifth blog in our Work from Series focused on Routines for Success.

Book Your Discovery Call Today!

Click HERE book your FREE discovery call directly in my calendar to see if we are a good fit to work together.

We promise your personalized Work From Home Plan will transform your spaces from frustration to freedom and you will become a Productivity Master!

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

WFH Series - Your Digital Space
Oct 01

WORK FROM HOME SERIES – Organization & Productivity Solutions: Your Digital Space

By Noreen Music | Offers & Discounts , Organizing Tips , Productivity

Do you have access to all of the digital information you need to complete your work at home?

Is your team communication suffering since transitioning to remote work?

Are you drowning in emails?

Work From Home Series

We will be focusing on another critical aspect of your efficiency and productivity - setting up, decluttering and organizing your digital space.

Working in a cluttered physical environment is not conducive to you having a clear and focused mind and the same applies to your digital space.

When your digital space isn't under control this leads to confusion, missed requests and deadlines. A disorganized and chaotic digital space means you are not working at your full potential.

You waste time looking for what you need. You become unfocused and unable to process all of the information sitting in your email inbox, cloud folders and reference files. 

Now you have a big mess.

Cleaning and maintaining organization in your digital space is important for you to get more productive in your work. 

Do it today!

Organizing & Productivity Solutions: Your Digital Space

Digital Access to Information

Ensure you have all of the proper digital tools, software and hardware you need to complete your work at home such as computer, programs, apps, VPN (if required), remote server access, electronic chargers and so on.

Set yourself up with all of the technology you need to attend virtual meetings/training sessions, etc. from home.

Use cloud-based file sharing such as Dropbox, Google Drive or Trello.

Having the digital equipment you need will ensure you have access to all of the information required to complete your work without missing critical information or suffer delays.

Communication

Working from home means that the more effortless opportunities to communicate such as impromptu meetings, casual water cooler conversations or quick updates are greatly reduced.

This calls for an intentional increase in communication with team members, your boss and direct reports.

Whether your company uses video conferencing apps like Zoom or project management tools like Trello, fully embrace this technology to stay connected and have your voice heard albeit from afar. Use these tools for meetings, collaboration and to keep socially connected with your team.

Establish how you will stay connected with your boss/team/subordinates in advance. Determine what makes the most sense for your work and the communication levels required to keep your company goals, projects and bottom line in mind.

Video Conferencing Set Up Tips

We have all been on more zoom calls these days than ever before.

There are a number of things you need to set up to make a good impression or provide a great experience while either attending or hosting a virtual meeting.  

Lighting for video calls is not to be understated. Poor lighting is distracting and takes away from the conversation. Don’t have your back to a window as you can’t see your face in the dark. Use natural light, unless it's too strong, then close the blinds and use a table lamp or a ring light in front of you.  

Move close to your Wi-Fi router to improve your connection speed.

Consider limiting kids gaming and streaming to keep a more stable connection while you are on Skype, FaceTime, Slack, Zoom or Google Hangouts.

Keep background noise to a minimum and prevent the kids or dog from interrupting video calls and meetings as much as possible. You may not hear the dishwasher running or traffic from an open window in the background but your computer microphone does.

You don’t necessarily have to dress formal but keep it professional, wear a little make up, brush your hair and avoid wearing busy patterns.

Remove Unnecessary Files, Photos, Programs & Apps on Devices

Keep your devices clean with only the files, apps and programs on that you actually need and use.

Delete photos you have saved in the cloud or already shared on your social media feeds. Delete all of those apps that you never use. You really don’t need all of this clutter.

If you feel compelled to archive old project files or photos from when your kids were little, download them on a USB stick and keep one copy in a fire and waterproof safe in your home and keep one copy with a trusted family member or friend for safekeeping.

This keeps your digital devices fast and working well as they don’t like clutter either.

Email Management

The amount of emails sent in a day around the globe is staggering and I'm sure you get and send your fair share.

Drowning in email communications is common and it can be extremely debilitating.

Stress about what you didn’t get to or the fires you don't know about that are buried in your email inbox keeps you up at night.

Chronic worry about not getting back to your boss or missing a critical deadline is a constant dark cloud over your head.

Your digital world is completely out of control and it doesn’t feel good.

Follow These Simple Steps to Control Your Email Overload

STEP 1: Mass Delete & File
STEP 2: Process Remaining Emails One by One
STEP 3: Set Up Processing Folders
STEP 4: Set Up Reference Folders
STEP 5: Only Process Emails 1-3x a Day

Maintain the order! Schedule in your calendar only 1-3 times a day to process your emails to keep your inbox at zero.

Resist the urge to check your emails at any other time unless you are expecting an urgent message. You generally only do this to procrastinate on work, when your brains has decision fatigue or to look busy. 

Commitment Management

Structure your work from home day like you would a regular in the office day.

When working from home, you are your own personal commitment manager so it is up to you to schedule your calendar to what suits your workload and family commitments.

A solid calendar showing all of your work and personal commitments helps you avoid over-scheduling and double booking.

Schedule and attend virtual 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 seriously still a good person with a kind heart even if you (nicely) say no.

Fixed Calendar

Move to a fixed calendar as this is a real game changer.

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 in recurring tasks, reminders and breaks. Without breaks or a short 10 minutes to put a load of laundry in to break up your day, you can be quick to lose focus or burn out.

Plan 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 calendar after all.

Don't forget to leave white space in your calendar for the unexpected, travel to and from appointments/commitments and time to go dark and take a break.

Down time is critical to reduce stress and increase your productivity levels. It also helps to make sure you feel confident when shutting down at the end of your work from home day.

Stay Connected

Working from home can be isolating so it is important to keep ties with people both at work and socially.

Keep connected socially either in person or virtually.

Go for a walk. FaceTime a friend for a coffee date. Set up a Facebook group for your book club or women's group to regularly converse and stay connected.

Work from Home "Homework"

  1. Delete all unnecessary files, programs, apps, and photos from all of your devices.
  2. Clean out your email inbox, set up folders.
  3. Clean up and set up your fixed calendar.
     

Special Work From Home Offer

For a limited time, we are offering a personalized and professionally prepared Work From Home Plan for only $95+GST!

Your Work From Home Plan includes:

  • 60-minute virtual "in-home" workspace assessment
  • Personalized 10 point organizing & productivity plan
  • 90-minute virtual implementation session
  • 30-minute virtual evaluation call
Work from Home Offer

Book Your Discovery Call

Click HERE book your FREE discovery call directly in my calendar to see if we are a good fit to work together.

Be sure to take advantage of this valuable offer while it is still available.

Our Gift to You

Included with your personal Work From Home Plan, is our exclusive 33-page Productivity Mastery E-Book as our gift to you.

Your personalized Work From Home Plan, along with your copy of the Productivity Mastery E-Book, will provide you with powerful stress-busting organizing and productivity solutions to make your work simpler and your outlook more peaceful once you start working through them. 

You cannot buy our Productivity Mastery E-Book as it is only available to our Work From Home Plan clients (valued at $19.99).

Productivity Mastery - 5 Keys to Overcome Productivity Overwhelm

Additional Resources

Here are additional Freedom Living blogs and other valuable resources for even more support on your organizing and productivity journey.

More Work From Home Blog Posts

The first blog in our Work from Home Series focused on Your Physical Space.

The third blog in our Work from Home Series focused on Managing Distractions.

The fourth blog in our Work from Home Series focused on Getting It Done.

The fifth blog in our Work from Series focused on Routines for Success.

Book Your Discovery Call Today!

Click HERE book your FREE discovery call directly in my calendar to see if we are a good fit to work together.

We promise your personalized Work From Home Plan will transform your spaces from frustration to freedom and you will become a Productivity Master!

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

WFH Series - Your Physical Space
Oct 01

WORK FROM HOME SERIES – Organization & Productivity Solutions: Your Physical Space

By Noreen Music | Offers & Discounts , Organizing Tips , Productivity

Have you found yourself working from home for an indeterminate amount of time?

Are you still working from your dining room table or off the corner of your kitchen counter?

Does your current home office space work for you for the long term?

Work From Home Series

The ongoing global pandemic continues to keep many of us at home and the future continues to look uncertain. What will our offices look like in 3 months, 6 months or a year from now?

What we do know is that working from home is the new reality.

For employers, working from home can boost productivity, reduce turnover, and lower organizational costs, while employees enjoy perks like flexibility and the lack of a commute.

So now is the perfect time to create a super organized and highly productive home office space to set you up for long-term success.

Here are my proven organizational and productivity methods to help you get organized, stay productive and create a balanced routine to crush your work projects all from the comfort of your own home office.

Read on if you want to transform your work from home office into an organized, functional and highly productive space that inspires you!

Organizing & Productivity Solutions: Your Physical Space

Set Up Your Physical Space

If you don’t have a home office already set up, pick a location in your home that is the most conducive.

If possible, it should be a private space dedicated just for work where you can have peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of the household, kids, TV, and where distractions can be kept to a minimum.

Proper lighting is also critical. Access to natural light during the day is best but if you are working where there are no windows or at night, good overhead lighting with a task light for your desk work surface is critical to avoid eye strain.

Having a clear desk or table surface to place your computer or laptop on plus a notepad and a few basic supplies close at hand is all you need on top of your work surface.

Basic Ergonomics

Your work from home space needs to be set up so that you will be physically comfortable working in this area long-term. 

Arrange your workspace with proper ergonomics in mind so you don't end up experiencing back, wrist or neck issues.

Reducing the chance of injury and being comfortable allows you to stay productive and focused. 

  • The weight of your arms should be supported at all times.
  • Your monitor should be at eye level with the top of your computer screen to keep the weight of your head supported.
  • Your monitor should be at least an arms length away.
  • Minimize glare on your computer screen and give your eyes a break periodically by looking away.
  • Use proper lumbar support to avoid slouching.
  • Avoid leaning and reaching to get close to your work.
  • Use headphones or your speaker when talking on the phone.
  • Your feet should reach the floor with your legs at a 90 degree angle. If not, use a footrest or lower your keyboard or chair.

Declutter

If your work environment is disorganized and cluttered, declutter your workspace.

Solid productivity practices rely on creating an environment that is favourable for efficiency and effectiveness. When your space is cluttered, this actually hinders your brain from functioning at its best.

Start with removing 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 organizing your 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 as you sort through your papers and write down any to-do's as you go so you don't get 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.

Tidy, clean and disinfect your space regularly to keep clutter and germs at bay.

This will keep you happier and healthier while working long hours in your home work space.

Supplies

Invest in your home office. Request or purchase the equipment you need - monitor, keyboard, mouse, a good chair, printer, software, dedicated phone line, internet connection, stationary supplies, etc.

Find out if your company has a budget for WFH equipment? Do they require you to have a separate computer for work versus personal?

As this is your home office, add pleasant scents, plants and motivating images to make it a space you enjoy and are inspired being in.

Work from Home "Homework"

  1. Declutter your space!
  2. Set yourself up with all of the supplies you need.
  3. Check your ergonomics to prevent injury.
     

Special Work From Home Offer

For a limited time, we are offering a personalized and professionally prepared Work From Home Plan for only $95+GST!

Your Work From Home Plan includes:

  • 60-minute virtual "in-home" workspace assessment
  • Personalized 10 point organizing & productivity plan
  • 90-minute virtual implementation session
  • 30-minute virtual evaluation call
Work from Home Offer

Book Your Discovery Call

Click HERE book your FREE discovery call directly in my calendar to see if we are a good fit to work together.

Be sure to take advantage of this valuable offer while it is still available.

Our Gift to You

Included with your personal Work From Home Plan, is our exclusive 33-page Productivity Mastery E-Book as our gift to you.

Your personalized Work From Home Plan, along with your copy of the Productivity Mastery E-Book, will provide you with powerful stress-busting organizing and productivity solutions to make your work simpler and your outlook more peaceful once you start working through them. 

You cannot buy our Productivity Mastery E-Book as it is only available to our Work From Home Plan clients (valued at $19.99).

Productivity Mastery - 5 Keys to Overcome Productivity Overwhelm

Additional Resources

Here are additional Freedom Living blogs and other valuable resources for even more support on your organizing and productivity journey.

More Work From Home Blog Posts

The second blog in our Work from Home Series focused on Your Digital Space.

The third blog in our Work from Home Series focused on Managing Distractions.

The fourth blog in our Work from Home Series focused on Getting It Done.

The fifth blog in our Work from Series focused on Routines for Success.

Book Your Discovery Call Today!

Click HERE book your FREE discovery call directly in my calendar to see if we are a good fit to work together.

We promise your personalized Work From Home Plan will transform your spaces from frustration to freedom and you will become a Productivity Master! 

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

5 Tips for Every Student to Stay Organized
Aug 10

5 Tips Every Student Needs to Stay Organized

By Noreen Music | Organizing Tips

5 Tips Every Student Needs to Stay Organized

School is definitely going to look a bit different for the student in your family this fall.

Whether your child is going back into the classroom, completing school online, homeschooling or a combination of these options, every student needs to stay organized to maximize their success.

It is true that many children and teens struggle with organization. Living in organized ways is a skill that, if learned early, will serve your child well into adulthood.

Here are 5 tips that every student needs to stay organized during the school year.

Here are 5 tips every student needs to stay organized....

Declutter & Organize:

Start with decluttering and organizing their room.

Clean out their closet of unworn, worn out or too small clothes. This is a good time to take inventory of what clothes they will need when you do your back to school shopping.

Go through their toys and games and donate what they have grown out of or no longer want.

Deep clean as you go so they start the new school year with a fresh and clean space.

Create a distraction free study/homework space they can concentrate in. Ensure they have all of the necessary materials, stationary, paper and study tools. Also provide them with a suitable table and lamp. 

Family Calendar & Command Centre:

Set up a shared family calendar and command centre. 

In order for your family unit to function smoothly, a family command centre is a must.

The calendar itself can be paper or electronic (click here to access a list of resources on our DIY page). The type of calendar you use is not critical but having one calendar the whole family has access to and feels comfortable using is what is important.

For a step by step guide to reduce your family's paper clutter and set up a family command centre, click here to read our blog post Organize Your Family’s Paper Clutter.

Schedule:

Create a schedule for everything.

Block all school days and times, holidays/professional days, special occasions (family birthdays, etc.), recurring appointments, commitments, homework time, chores, extra curricular activities, free/family time and so on. 

Developing a solid framework will keep your student on track and super organized.

A word of caution….I suggest keeping the schedule balanced by leaving a good amount of space for free and fun time. Overscheduling kids can cause stress which can lead to mental health issues, poor sleep habits, rebellious behaviour and choosing unhealthy ways to cope.

Planner:

Teach your student how to use a planner. Again the planner can be paper or digital - use whatever planning tool fits their life and needs. Again you can access a list of suggested resources on our DIY page.

Once a week, sit down with your whole family to review your family’s calendar for the next week, record when your students assignments are due, test dates, upcoming medical/dental appointments and 2-3 smaller goals or tasks they would like to accomplish in the week. 

Make it a daily routine to have your student check their planner at the end of every school day. What did they accomplish? What do they need to do to prepare for tomorrow? Are they on track with homework, studying or their other tasks?

Having your student take control of their time by blocking their calendar and tweaking it regularly is a real game changer. They will know exactly what to do when and their productivity will go through the roof.

Label & Color Code:

Clearly identify books, notebooks and other school materials with labels or fun stickers. Color code each subject so it is easy to tell which is which. 

This will really help your student keep better track of their stuff.

Bonus Tip!

Set your child up for a lifetime of success by ensuring they have a solid morning and evening routine.

At night, make a lunch, set clothes out, review planner, pack backpack, set wake up alarm, limit electronics before bed and get a good night's sleep. 

In the morning, get up early to prevent stressful rushing or being late, make bed and eat a good breakfast.

Eighty percent of school success is showing up AND staying organized.

If you need more help getting your student organized, please complete the contact form below and I will get back to you within 48 hours. 

Let me know if you have any challenges and how I can help you support your child's scholastic success.

I am always here for you and your family.

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

Getting Unstuck When Organizing
Jul 21

Getting Unstuck When Organizing

By Noreen Music | Organizing Tips

Getting Unstuck When Organizing

If you are stuck on whether to keep or get rid of an item, ask yourself these 7 questions.

HINT – if you say “No” to one, some or all of these questions, considering getting rid of it!

Remember….the more of these decisions you make, the easier it gets.

Getting Unstuck Question One

Have I used this in the last year?

Getting Unstuck Question Two

Will I use it in the next year?

Getting Unstuck Question Three

Would I buy this item again today?

Getting Unstuck Question Four

If it’s broken is it worth fixing or will I spare the time & money to fix it?

Getting Unstuck Question Five

Is it easily replaced or borrowed if I need it again?

Getting Unstuck Question Six

Would I keep it if I moved?

Getting Unstuck Question Seven

Do I have a duplicate of this item in better shape?

Still Stuck?

If you are still agonizing over an item, put it in a box with a sticky note with an expiration date on it for a few months from now. 

If you don’t reach for the item in that time frame, remove it from your home. 

Do You Need More Help?

Do you need more help from a professional organizer to help you get unstuck when organizing?

Contact me by using the comment box below and we can book your free, no-obligation 30-minute call.

I will help you get unstuck with your organizing project and let go of what no longer fits in your life.

More Resources For You!

Sometimes all you need is a solid plan to get unstuck when you're organizing! Here is our blog post Don't Expect Progress Without an Organizing Plan.

Two of our most popular posts are 7 Tips to Conquer Your Clutter and Being An Organized Person.

Download your FREE resource guide Keeping Your Home Organized Through Every Season and I will walk you through step by step on how to organize every area in your home.

Remember, I am always here to help you find your freedom to live your best life!

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

Why is change so hard?
Jul 21

Why Is Change So Hard?

By Noreen Music | Organizing Tips

Why Is Change So Hard?

Guest Post Written By: Kristine Morris, The Change Maven

You don’t have to look very far to see the pressure for change all around us. 

Magazine covers telling us how we can get slimmer, stronger, smarter, and sexier. YouTube gurus telling us how to be more productive, wealthier, more influential.

Why are we so drawn to change? And if it’s so irresistible, why is it so hard?

First, we are drawn to change because we are wired to evolve; without change we would still be living in caves, dragging our knuckles, and fighting off saber tooth tigers.

“Without change we would still be living in caves, dragging our knuckles and fighting off saber tooth tigers”

Why is change so hard?

Why then, if we are ‘supposed to’ change, is it so hard when we try to do so? We can turn to our ancestors for this answer as well.

As much as we are wired to evolve, we are also wired to follow the known path, to make the choices that our brains recognize as safe.

Historically, our lives depended on us NOT making the same mistakes over and over again. 

It was very important, from a survival perspective, to know that we must RUN when a saber tooth tiger was chasing us. 

Our lives depended upon us knowing NOT to eat that same strange looking berry that our buddy ate and died from the previous day. 

Our brains are wired to remind us of DANGER!

Unfortunately, our brains have not evolved enough to recognize the difference between true danger and the natural discomfort of change, which we routinely misinterpret as danger.

Let me give you an example.

Let’s say you are terrified of speaking in public. I’m talking TERRIFIED - puke worthy, sweaty palms, pee your pants kind of fear.

Your brain reads this as danger on par with being chased by that saber tooth tiger, and so it tells you to RUN!

Your brain literally does not know between the two scenarios, creating a reaction in your body that tells you “this is not safe”. 

To reinforce the message of “this is not safe”, your body throws in the feeling of wanting to vomit all over your new shoes, along with sweaty hands and feeling like your heart is going to explode out of your chest.

Mission accomplished: you are now thoroughly convinced that speaking in public is DANGEROUS!

From a survival perspective it makes total sense that you would avoid this activity, the same as you would avoid pissing off a saber tooth tiger.

So naturally, when you try to reason with yourself and say “no, I am not in danger, I can speak in public”, your brain and your body screams “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

Why our brain doesn't like change and what to do about it.

Let’s compare your thoughts to you walking in the woods. You are your thoughts, and the path in the woods is your brain.

When you are walking, you naturally look for the clearest and smoothest path, right? I know I do! That’s exactly what your thoughts do - they look for the clearest, smoothest thought pattern in your brain, which is the one you are used to thinking (for example “public speaking is terrifying!”).

Does this mean that you can’t walk through the tall grasses or cut through the thick bushes? No, of course you can. But it will be harder.

It takes more effort to cut through a less trodden path than a well trodden one.

That is EXACTLY how it is with our brains and our thoughts. It’s EASIER to default to what we are used to (the belief that "public speaking is terrifying") instead of going on a path that is less familiar ("Hey, I think I can try this public speaking thing and it just may not be a danger to my survival after all!").

When we understand WHY we feel the way we do when faced with change, we can take concrete steps to making the changes we want in our lives.

Change IS scary, some more than others, but it IS possible.

What thought patterns do you have that you assumed were "hard wired" but that you could change?

More about Kristine!

Read more interesting and informative blog posts from Kristine!

If you would like to chat with Kristine, her contact information is here.

Find out more about Kristine and her coaching, workshop, speaking and event/retreat offerings at The Change Maven.

More resources for you!

You may also find these blogs on our Freedom Living page interesting reads.

How To Be An Organized Person
Organizing Obstacles
Perfectionism is the Enemy of Productivity

Enjoy!

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

Organizing Obstacles
Jun 03

Organizing Obstacles

By Noreen Music | Organizing Tips

Organizing Obstacles

Do you ever wish you had an organizing fairy who could wave a magic wand and all of your clutter miraculously disappears? Oh yes, please.

Getting organized is simple but it's not always easy.

There are some common brick walls you might encounter when embarking on your decluttering journey. 

You may even be reading this Freedom Living blog because you are frustrated with an organizing obstacle right now!

Big Organizing Obstacles

Clutter Blind

It happens. The clutter in your home turns into wallpaper and over time you don't even notice it anymore.

Stuff has a way of creeping into your cupboards, your closet, or your garage, and then before you know it, your spaces look like a bomb went off!

Take a look around you. What do you see? Clutter and disarray? Or are things neat and tidy? Is it time to take off your blinders and be honest with yourself about how much stuff you have?

I understand. It's difficult to organize and overcome clutter especially when it's an obstacle you can't see.

The good news with a blind spot is, once you are aware of it, you can choose to change it!

Overwhelmed

Knowing where to start when you are frustrated and overwhelmed with your clutter is a challenge.

You have a burst of energy to tackle your clutter mountain and then you fizzle out partway through.  And it's hard to get back at it.

This is where a professional organizer comes in. We know where to start. We climb the clutter mountain with you. We don't give up. We make sure you reach your goals and vision for your spaces.

We cheer you on when you feel overwhelmed, frustrated, or discouraged.

It's perfectly okay to ask for help to conquer the organizing obstacle of overwhelm. Helping you is why I do what I do.

Emotional Attachment

Letting go is hard. It's normal to feel emotionally attached to a possession, especially when it evokes a fond memory or it reminds you of someone. 

That special item, that thing you love and brings you joy, you should keep.

The emotional attachment organizing obstacle comes into play when you refuse to let something go that has no special meaning or value, you don't need it and you never use it.

During the decluttering process, emotions will come up. You might feel excitement, fear, guilt, relief....these feelings are normal. 

What is key is to acknowledge and allow yourself to feel whatever emotion happens to surface while you are decluttering. This is an important and healthy part of the letting go process.

If you are willing to be uncomfortable yet keep making decisions about what you want to keep and what you want to edit, you will become comfortable with the practice of letting go. It does get easier the more decisions you make.

Only when you face this organizing obstacle head-on does the brick wall come crashing down revealing the bright, beautiful blue sky of freedom from your stuff.

Staying Organized

Okay, now that we've overcome a few big organizing obstacles, here's another doozy. 

You're not convinced you will actually stay organized.

I'm here to reassure you that, you will.

It does take work, time, and willingness. But if you can commit to a bit of effort every day to keep all of your hard work in order, you will maintain your clutter-free status.

Simply tweak your routines. Make your bed every morning. Shine your sink after dinner. Hang up your towel after you shower. Put a load of laundry in the washing machine every day. Tidy up the living room at the end of the night.

When you work with a professional organizer, we help you focus on how you can live in organized ways by sharing our expert organizing skills, processes, and routines so that you are able to organize yourself and stay organized over time.

Being an organized person can be learned, it is not a genetic characteristic.

By implementing a few simple routines into your day, this organizing obstacle will no longer be in your way and you will find the freedom to live your best life.

For good.

Organizing "Don'ts"

As you organize, you may encounter some of these common organizing "don'ts" while you are working at creating more freedom in your life.

These aren't huge organizing obstacles however, you should be aware of them so you know what not to do.

  • Don’t transfer clutter from one area or surface to another. Declutter.
  • Don’t keep doubles (or triples).
  • Don’t keep things where you don’t use them.
  • Don’t buy a ton of organizing containers or solutions right away. Use what you have on hand and only buy something if you really need it after purging & sorting.
  • Don’t “over” organize as this can lead to frustration and make it hard to keep up.
  • Don’t assume your family knows where things go – label everything.
  • Don’t fill every space with stuff. Keep some “white space” open.
  • Don’t assume your used stuff is worth a fortune – it might be, but likely not.
  • Don’t keep donate/sell/consign stuff in your home – remove it immediately after editing.
  • Don’t push your clutter onto friends or family.
  • Don’t just deal with surface clutter – deal with hidden clutter in cupboards & drawers too.
  • Don’t assume kids can’t help – teach them so they learn these solid life skills & habits.
  • Don’t keep something just because it was a gift.
  • Don’t keep all of your kid’s hand-me-down clothes and toys.
  • And the most important don't of all is.......
Don’t give up! Organizing is hard work but worth every ounce of effort to experience more time, freedom, and pride in your home! - Noreen

Free Resources For You

Do you need to download your own personal professional organizer? Here is our FREE and easy to use resource guide Keeping Your Home Organized Through Every Season as our gift to you.

Need help with an organizing plan? Well, here you go!

Read our Ask a Professional Organizer Freedom Living post for more information about daily routines to help you stay organized.

You've got this!

Free Gift to You

Need More Help?

Leave a comment below if you have a question for us or if you need more help to overcome your organizing obstacles.

We are always here for you.

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

How to Organize Your Garage
Jun 02

How to Organize Your Garage

By Noreen Music | Organizing Tips

How to Organize Your Garage

With summer upon us, it is time to start thinking about cleaning out and organizing the garage.

The garage always ends up as a dumping ground for your unwanted or broken stuff. It's easy to shove everything in the garage out of sight until you can't park in it anymore!

Here is our step by step guide with expert tips to help you get your garage in great shape for summer. It's everything you need to know to organize your garage.

Disorganized Garage

How to Start

Ensure you are wearing the appropriate clothing and protective equipment such as work gloves, dust mask, eye protection, closed-toed shoes, long pants with your hair tied back.

Gather the supplies you will need to tackle this area such as heavy-duty trash bags, shop vac, broom and a couple of large plastic baskets.

Do a basic cleaning by giving the floor a sweep or a vacuum keeping an eye out for nails, oil or chemical stains, evidence of pests.

As you are cleaning, remove any obvious trash, recycling, donation, doesn’t belong or broken items.

You are well on your way to a clean and organized garage!

Time to Declutter & Sort Into Zones

Declutter by pulling everything out onto the driveway then divide all items into the following categories:

  • TOSS
  • KEEP
  • DONATE
  • TRASH
  • SELL/CONSIGN

If you have too much stuff, divide the garage in half or by zone (tools, sporting equipment, camping gear, garden tools, etc.) before moving onto the next area.

Group all the items you are keeping into like categories such as car supplies, small tools, large tools/equipment, recycle centre, garden tools, sports equipment, general storage, etc.

Assess how much room each zone is going to need and plan out your garage accordingly.

A super organized garage is always arranged with "like with like" items in defined areas.

Organized Garage

Organizing Products for the Garage

Check online or in local stores for various garage organizational products if you need specialty storage containers, toolboxes, pegboards, or vertical/ceiling storage options made just for the garage/shed. 

Work with what you have first and only purchase only what you actually need. You may be surprised by what you have already on hand or what you can re-purpose.

A rolling tool organizer works great for gardening tools or car cleaning items saving back and forth trips.

The fifth wall in your garage is the ceiling so use this vertical space for storing wood, ladder, seldom used storage boxes, camping gear, and seasonal sporting equipment.

Make sure horizontal surfaces and shelving in your garage are heavy-duty enough to support the weight of what you are storing on and in them and properly affixed to prevent accidents.

Label everything! Bins, baskets, shelves....when your stuff has a home, the easier it is for you and your family to put it away where it belongs.

Organized Garage Tools

Expert Tips for the Garage

Ensure birdseed is kept in a container with a tightly closing lid to keep pests out.

Create a junk box for the garage to keep those odds and ends out of your cabinets and drawers.

Keep one surface clean to work on. You can fill a pot with pencils and keep a small box on the work surface for small frequently used tools, measuring tape, etc.

Dangerous items such as chemicals, pest control sprays, or poisons, paint supplies should be stored in a fireproof lockable cabinet.

Dispose of old paint cans, chemicals, and electronics properly. Go online and check out where you can drop these items off in your community. Or you can access our DIY resource page where we have gathered a lot of this information for you already.

Paint Can

Organizing your garage is well worth the effort to get it there. You will be the envy of your neighbours and gone are the days you feel the need to close your garage door as quickly as possible!

Our FREE Gift For You!

Please accept this limited time offered gift to help you get and stay organized through every season.

Click on this link to receive your FREE copy of our resource guide Keeping Your Home Organized Through Every Season as our gift to you!

Free Gift to You #2

Let us know if you have any great tips for how to organize your garage. We love to hear from you!

If you have any questions or need more help, please leave a comment below and we will reply to you within 24 hours.

We are always here to help.

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

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