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Archive for August, 2011

Organizing Time

Otherwise known as time management, organizing time can be elusive.  When it is all laid out and clearly defined, all is well — except when there is too much structure.  Then there’s the temptation to scrap it all because it feels like there’s not enough space to breathe or move or think clearly!  I know I’m not alone, but that only helps a little bit.  It doesn’t do much for the practical side of wanting time to work more smoothly.

There is a gob of time management stuff out there, both in print and online.  I have waded through much of it, first in an attempt to get a handle on it in my own life, then with an intent to find what seems to be most useful for the people I write for and work with.

Consistency is the keyword.  Consistency.  Far easier said than done, eh?  We start out all gung-ho with our planner or calendar, wanting so much to believe that this new system or this new planner is THE ONE that will allow us to be successful with getting organized around time.  But…there’s often some key piece missing.

It may be that…

  • we have difficulty setting up a routine to check our planner each day.
  • there’s too much chaos in our daily lives, thwarting our efforts to establish some structure.
  • we don’t have the support we need to individualize our planner so that it works for us, rather than it working us!
  • we just don’t have the planner or system that “thinks” like we do.

Each of these challenges has a solution.  Your solution may be different than someone else’s.  Working with a coach is one way to not only discover what the right solution is for you, but also receive the support, structure and help with prioritizing that you may need to be successful.  A coach doesn’t do it for you but works with you to find the missing key or keys!  (Those “keys” may be literal or figurative!)

Something That Works

One of the keys that I have discovered is a system called the Planner Pad.  It is the closest system I have found for the way I think.  I have tried and used other planners and systems in the past, with some success, but this one comes the closest to what makes sense and seems to work the best.  I like it because it helps me keep track of the various categories of my life (personal, business, home, etc) and prioritize on a daily and weekly basis.  Each page is divided into three sections: the top is for categorizing your actions and projects, the middle is for daily prioritizing, and the bottom is where you schedule your appointments.

If you are a student or have a schedule that is not your typical 9 to 5 job, the Planner Pad can help you clarify what’s on your plate and what needs attention each day.  You still have to put in the work of creating the categories, identifying the projects and prioritizing what’s most important, but the Planner Pad provides a solid structure for that.

But It’s Not Magic

The biggest drawback for me was that I was attempting to put my entire list of everything (often referred to as a Master List) into each week’s categories.  You could certainly use some of the blank pages in the Planner Pad to put your Master List, but attempting to have everything that needs attention of some kind on each week’s pages is asking for overwhelm, which is particularly to be avoided when ADD is part of your life!  Aside from that, I have found it to be a really good system for time and project management.  It IS a pen-and-paper system, so it may not be the right one for you if you want to do that kind of planning on your computer.

A planner pad is only one system.  There are so many out there, both electronic and pen-and-paper ones.  Look around (if you haven’t already!)  If my description intrigues you or sounds like the way you think about time and project management, go check out the site: Planner Pad.  I found it to be very reasonably priced.  The site did have some hype (in my book, anyway), but it IS a good product that is different from other products out there.  I liked the description of  “How It Works.”

Looking for Support, Structure or Perspective?

If you’re looking for help with setting up a routine or dealing with chaos or just plain old need some support, contact me!  Working with people who have ADD (or who can relate) is a joy to me.  I love identifying your strengths and strategizing how you can use those to help in areas that are difficult for you.   It’s easy for me to see your creativity and all that you ARE doing RIGHT!  If you’re curious about working with me, here’s what you can do.

1) Reply to this article (by clicking on “Leave a Comment” at the top of the article.  Those comments are usually published, so let me know if you do not want me to publish your comment.)

2) Email me at LightSpiritCoach@aol.com.  (See the form below to make it easy.)

3) Call me at (573) 999-9809.

4) “Like” my Facebook page at Light Spirit Coaching.

Would love to hear from you in any of those ways!

Organizing … Part of Self-Care?

What do you think of organizing?  More importantly, what do you think of yourself when it comes to organizing?  This is an area that many of us either glorify or curse.  We look at the homes of our organized friends and think, “Ah, what would it be like to live like that?  My life would be wonderful if I could live in a home like that!”  Or, we just berate ourselves because our homes do not look like that, and we see our own organizing ability as some kind of shortcoming or weakness.

What about getting rid of that dream of organizing perfection and all of the negative judgments that go along with it?  I’m not saying to get rid of organizing, but to get rid of the dream of perfection we’ve had about how it works and what it “should” look like.  For many of us, because we feel so embarrassed and/or guilty about this area, we do our best to hide it from others, which only increases our isolation and makes it more difficult to ask for and receive support!

Consider this idea.

Organizing is one form of self-care.

Organizing can be one form of self-care, instead of one form of self-criticism!  However, that does require rethinking the whole area.

Instead of “perfection,” think “good enough” and “What works for me?

I am asking that you find a way to wiggle yourself out of the seductive hold that the glossy pictures of perfectly organized homes have on you.  Keep in mind that nobody actually lives in those homes, at least not in the way that they are portrayed!  Interior design experts have been in that home, not to mention professional photographers, all whose job it is to portray perfection and sell something, correct?  Just what are they selling?  And do you really want any of it?  Do you really want to live in a home that exists to look beautiful but not necessarily be very functional?

If you can suspend your view of what you thought organizing was, then you have a chance to consider something more realistic and more useful!  A way that is more fitting for you.  A way that works for you.  A way that it is good enough and is more in line with how you really live.  In that view, you have a chance to look at organizing as part of self-care, instead of as a way to criticize yourself.

“How Do I Do That?”

Here is what I have learned so far.

* Little by little.  ONE STEP AT A TIME.

Not three steps at a time.   Not do it all at once.  Give yourself a chance to be successful!

* Separate out the projects from the tasks.

Tasks are something that you can do in 10 or 20 minutes.  If it’s much longer or full of steps, it qualifies for a project.  By identifying it as a project, you give yourself a chance to make progress on it by identifying the smaller steps that are involved in it.

* Before beginning a project, break it down into tasks. 

What all is involved in getting that project done?  If it feels overwhelming, what is one small action that you can take that would move that project further along?  Most projects have more leeway than we think because there are different ways that we can move forward on the project.  Stop trying to figure out the “perfect” way.

* The bigger the area you do at one time, the more likely you are to fail.

Don’t mean to be harsh or negative here.  Actually, quite the opposite.  Straightforward compassion, learned from lots and lots and lots of experience…  Stated more simply (and related to “Little by Little”), here’s the positive spin on this:

* The smaller and more manageable the area is to organize, the more likely you are to succeed in organizing it!

My thinking used to go something like this.  “I ‘just’ want to get my desk organized today.”  However, my desk was covered with piles of paper and folders and notebooks and reminders and — you get the picture.  “Just” getting my desk organized made success risky.  What has increased my success is identifying one part of my desk or one pile on my desk and deciding to take action with that one part or that one pile.  It may seem really small, but I am so much more likely to succeed, which builds my momentum and confidence for then taking action on the next part or pile!

Coaching Can Make A Difference!

I’m making progress in learning how to approach organizing differently in my own life.  The funny thing is that I’ve been helping my clients organize parts of their lives for a long time now!  The idea that, “You can’t see the forest for the trees” certainly applies here.  All those trees can block our vision of the forest when we’re standing right in the middle of them!  That’s why I have my own coach in this area, and that’s also why I’m able to be such an awesome coach for someone else in this area! 

If you’re looking for someone to help you change your approach or be more effective with organizing, I’d love to help.  Or, perhaps you want to learn how to take a kinder, gentler approach with yourself, which might surprisingly be the key you’ve been missing.  You can contact me in several ways:

1) Reply to this article (by clicking on “Leave a Comment” at the top of the article.  Those comments are usually published, so let me know if you do not want me to publish your comment.)

2) Email me at LightSpiritCoach@aol.com.  (See the form below to make it easy.)

3) Call me at (573) 999-9809.

4) “Like” my Facebook page at Light Spirit Coaching.

Would love to hear from you in any of those ways!


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