A Refresh for Spring Success

With the official arrival of spring, I’m thinking about why many of us are so productive in the spring. I think it has to do with everything being fresh. We’re more likely to pick up the new shirt, spend time in the clean rooms, and even be with people who are more like sunshine than rain clouds. There’s something magical about going out in nature after a rainstorm, or seeing peices of history uncovered by a storm. There’s something refereshing about walking into a clean room or putting away clean clothes or finally getting things organized (that hands-on-the-hips, surveying the victory moment).

With that breath of fresh air also seems to come a burst of energy, a feeling of renewal, and a spark to the motivation that may have been missing for some time. So if you’ve been struggling with success, maybe it’s time to give yourself a little spring refresh. I get it, we’re pulled in many directions, given more to our piles rather than less, distracted by shiny things and trying to stay with the movement of life. Whether you get organized, hire help, delegate, or let go of stuff, spring is a great time to give yourself a fresh chance at success.

Spring would be beautiful if just the green stuff showed up or if we only had flowers come up, but true spring experiences are an explosion of activity, growth and new life. Spring isn’t just baby bunnies or crocuses, there are countless animals and flowers that come into bloom. It’s only when it’s all taken together that you can really see and appreciate what spring is all about. Don’t feel like you have to make “spring” happen in your life without help. Yes, you’ll have to make some potentially big decisions that you may have been avoiding, but passing on the cleaning to a cleaning crew, hiring a carpenter to build you shelving that actually works for you, deleting emails you’re never going to read, or saying no to some things you’re really not passionate about can give you the mental and physical freedom to get more done that only you can do, and only in the way that you can do it.

So on this fine spring day, what freshness will you commit to creating or welcoming in your life?

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Time for Changes

In thinking about Daylight Savings Time that the US adjusted to this past weekend I thought we might talk about the idea of it being time to make changes. I never can quite remember which way the clocks are supposed to go when they switch, I’m very thankful for technology that does it by and large for us now. Sometimes change is like that: we just feel the need to make changes but we’re not really sure which changes to make. So today I thought we’d take a look at some changes you can make if you’re not sure what changes you’re in need of, and until you’re certain of what changes need to be made in your life.

Clean and organize: many of us are blessed to have lots of stuff and lead busy lives, but with lots of stuff and busy lives it doesn’t always leave a lot of time to clean and get organized. Many of us just do the minimal to get by each week and end up one day with a big pile of stuff that needs to be gone through and more dust bunnies than real ones hopping around. Cleaning and organizing is one way to clear out some of the old and make room for the new, a symbolic welcoming of whatever changes your life is bringing.

What you eat: there’s never a bad time to make a decision to eat healthier, and today is no exception. But you don’t just have to change to healthier food, you can choose to change and try new foods and recipes too. There’s nothing wrong with having some go-to foods that you love, but it’s often fun to try new foods and recipes and mix things up a bit. Maybe it will give you the chance to learn a new cooking technique or try an ingredient you’ve always wondered about but never really knew how to put it in a dish, and this would be the chance to do either or both.

Consideration for others: one of the biggest areas of our lives that could use some changes for most of us are the relationships we have and ways that we interact with others. Maybe you’ve gotten in the habit of being on your phone at the dinner table, you think or say really nasty things about the other drivers on the road, you talk with your mouth full, you don’t give your significant other much of your attention, you ignore employees under you or belittle them, or you haven’t made time for making new friends and relationships or learning about other cultures. It’s not about being best friends with everyone but about respect, learning to listen, being open to others being different than you, and doing better at sharing the space we all live in.

What changes are you feeling inspired to make in your life?

Secrets to Success: Schedule It

Today we’re continuing our look at little secrets to success with one of the things many find to be challenging: scheduling. The issue though isn’t really that we don’t like scheduling necessarily, but more often that our nice, neat schedules get messed up, adjusted, moved around and pre-empted. So it makes it understandably frustrating when we try to make schedules because they just don’t work out. Even though I have those same issues I still believe that having a schedule can be one thing that will help you be successful.

One of the things I think is noteworthy about schedules is that they reveal a lot about our priorities. If your schedule always has fitness and if something comes up during your regular time you don’t just skip it but move it to another space in your day, that says to me that fitness is very important to you. If your schedule includes a date night with your partner every week, that says to me that your relationship is something very important to you. If you consistently get up at a certain time every day so you can have a couple of minutes to look over the day ahead and have a cup of coffee so you’re somewhat sane by the time the kids are up, it tells me you’re a focused and organized person.

The lack of a schedule also reveals a lot about you as well. It’s not “wrong” to not have a schedule and to let the day take you as it will, but I think even those of us who consider ourselves free spirits probably do have some type of schedule, even if it’s just a list of things that we do at some point in time every day, or something like moving through the natural process of breakfast and getting ready for the day then work then lunch then work then dinner then bed, with some activities and engagements in between. You may be a very productive person with this type of free schedule, but today we’re kind of going on the assumption that you’re not as successful as you would like to be, and that having a schedule would help you be more successful.

So why should we use schedules? A schedule allows you to predictably and more consistently have the time you need to do things. It means you’re intentionally setting aside the time to do things that you think will bring you to success or bring you happiness or add value to your life.  Schedules also give you the opportunity to plan things out and make sure that you’ve got the time and resources in place for what you want to accomplish.

Not sure you’re ready to go full-blown scheduled life? Then start with writing a to-do list of everything you need to do over the next few days or weeks and setting up a chunk of time each day to work on that to do list. This will give you a way to get used to having a schedule in your life and see results very quickly because each day you’ll be crossign things off your list.

As far as how to schedule, you can of course use an app program on your phone or just the calendar app, write on a white board each day (and/or for the week), or have a paper planner or calendar that you use, or use a mix of all of them.

Do you use a schedule and what are the benefits you find in having one?

Motivated to be Organized

Over the past week I’ve been doing some organizing in my office. I enjoy organizing and it’s something I do on a regular basis for clients, but if I’m completely honest there’s something comforting about the piles and having things around you, so I get why some people get sucked into the disorganized trap.  I enjoy seeing everything in a place though and knowing that everything has a home. It’s also nice to have a clean desk and and neat shelves to look at. So it got me thinking about the motivation and inspiration behind organization and getting everyone in the family more on board with being clean and clutter free.

Organization means that you can easier rotate through kids toys so when they’re bored with some toys you’ve got others you can bring out that they haven’t seen in a while. Organization also means less clothes in the closets and drawers because you’ve got everything for the cold/hot season that it’s not boxed or bagged away, and if you don’t have hot/cold seasons then you can follow the concept of the toy rotation and rotate your clothes that way as well. Organization also means that it’s easier to find things because you’ve got only the stuff you need and it’s all in a home where you always know you can find it.

So what about motivating people to be organized, whether adults or kids? It’s a little easier with kids because you can add cleaning up their toys and putting clothes in a hamper or their closets/drawers as part of their chore list or as part of the list of ways they can earn money. You should make it as easy as possible for them, whether having a storage system that’s low to the floor so they can reach it all (think low bookshelf height) or spending some time with them while they clean and getting the boxes down for them from taller shelves and then helping to re-store them after cleaning.

If you’re motivated as an adult to get clean and organized you can either make the time to do it yourself, a little every day whether at the end of the day or as part of your morning routine, or hire someone to tidy up on a daily/weekly basis. If you can’t get your partner to do their organizing, then you should do the organizing and give them one of the other tasks you typically do that they’re more inclined to do so you don’t have to do both it and organizing.  As far as hiring someone, there’s no reason to feel shame or as though you’re lacking if you can’t find the time to do it yourself, you just have priorities that are more important than cleaning up. The only way shame should become a factor is if the “priorities” that you’re putting ahead of cleaning up are just watching TV (something you could do while organizing) or going out with friends every night or surfing the internet and YouTube.

Once you’ve got a system in place it takes a lot less time to clean up as long as you’re consistent about doing so. So as daunting as it may seem right now to get organized, once you’re over that hurdle, as long as you’re committed to consistently cleaning up it’s really not as bad or challenging as it could be if you let things keep going as they are. I encourage you to make time this week to work with an organizer or set up a system yourself that works for you and your family.

Make Your Own Success

This weekend I read an article that reminded me the value, the necessity, of being yourself and doing your own thing. Yes, to an extent there’s good in doing the same thing, for example with many medical practices (how many ways can you really put a band-aid on a single cut?), and in doing better with treating everyone with respect, regardless of our differences. We have to find ways to unify the many divisions that have been created and reinforced over the past few years. But today I want to talk about being more willing to march to our own tune, do our own thing, and create our own successes.

In the world of organizing there are 2 basic keys: 1-reducing and 2-structure for storage and going forward. Beyond those two keys there are tons of ways to get and stay organized, and which way is chosen depends completely on you. Let’s take a simple one that most of us deal with: the calendar. I’m a much more traditional person, I prefer to write out my calendar/appointments on paper, but prefer to reference the calendars on my various technology devices as necessary while I’m working if I need to know when a date falls in the week/month.

When it comes to success the same is true: it takes hard work and a plan. But the work you choose to do and the plan you choose to have depend on you, your preferences, your knowledge, your abilities, your resources (or ability to tap into the resources of others) and your dreams. You can take the idea that someone else started with and turn it into your own. You can take what was bland and boring and add personality that only you can bring to the table. We may have similar experiences but that doesn’t mean we will tap into them in the same way. We may even have similar dreams but put them to work in different ways. Or, of course, you can do something new and revolutionary in an industry.

Don’t be afraid to be your own person, do your own thing, and shine in the way only you can. Don’t be discouraged by failures, setbacks or critics, many of the most successful people and organizations in all types of industries and walks of life were only successful after many tries.

Summer of Change

Summer is a great time to work on change with your kids and family. Why? Because most of us have lighter schedules that allow for taking a little time off to do those big projects, weather that allows both indoor and outdoor activities and plans to be done, less things on the schedule and more opportunities to put in a little time each day to work on those changes, and an abundance of people home from college who can watch the kids if you and your partner need to work independently of the kids on something. It’s not always easy to work on change, but having the abundant resources that the summer provides to work on changes does make it a little easier and remove many of the excuses you’ve been using to hold yourself back.

Why work on changes? Because whether it’s the mile-long to-do list that you’ve been adding to for too long, or the stuff that’s just sticking around bothering you or holding you back, neither is good for your family or you personally. If you’re familiar with the concepts of Feng Shui, the law of attraction and the laws of abundance, they also speak to the importance of having a space that allows you to think, grow, love, create and prosper, which aren’t things you can do if you’re feeling pressured by that to-do list or all the stuff just hanging around.

Also, if it’s on your to-do list it must be there for a reason. Sometimes we do put things on there that we think we’re supposed to put there, but most often it’s stuff that really does need to be there, even if we end up doing the lower priority stuff first because it’s less intimidating, or less of a commitment, or less of a change.

So what are the big changes you might work on this summer? Organizing clothes, organizing the kitchen, organizing the garage/shed, cleaning up the outdoor areas, organizing the office, changing diets/eating habits, increasing exercise consistency, setting aside consistent time for personal development, making more consistent time for your partner and/or kids, reducing your bad habits (including overspending, too much TV, too much junk food, not enough sleep etc.) or even job searching (or starting a business), just to name a few.

What will you (finally) work on this summer?

Processes and Procrastination

As we head towards the end of another week you may be thinking about what you can toss onto the piles on your desk or mark so that you deal with it next week and not today or tomorrow.  I’m familiar with the process, everyone does it to some extent. And to some extent it’s necessary to do because there are only so many hours in a day and while you may have something sudden and time-sensitive come up today, you may not have that tomorrow and be able to deal with things from today tomorrow.  The danger comes in when you never get to “tomorrow” and you keep having to put out fires and deal with emergencies today and never get to that other stuff you keep putting off.

The good news is that a portion of what you keep putting off can be handled by someone else.  You can get someone else to file the papers or place/pack orders or refill supplies or input data to a spreadsheet or program or app.  The bad news is, as you probably guessed, they can only do so much as they are not you. All that help is great to a point, then you have to step back in and choose or approve purchases, reply to clients, or confirm the data.

But what it comes back to is that you need to stop and realize that there’s a problem and you’re tired of seeing the problem day after day and not being able to do what you want to with or about it.  Maybe it’s as simple as changing the software, program or procedure that you do things with/through.  Maybe it’s creating a schedule and following it 95% of the time.  Maybe it’s just hiring someone to help out a few hours a week (on either the personal or the professional side).  But I believe that for many of the things that we’re putting off, there’s a simple solution that can make it much easier and much less painful to do the job and get it done quicker and with the results you’re looking for (or at the very least results which is something you didn’t have before).

If you’re struggling with the never ending search for tomorrow in your work or home, I encourage you to take an important first step before the end of the week.  Maybe it’s reaching out to an organizer or coach like myself who is local to you and getting the conversation going.  Maybe it’s taking 30 minutes to investigate other program/procedure options.   Maybe it’s sitting down with your team and talking about who’s doing what and who would rather do what and who can help you clear things off your plate (making things easier for everyone).   What will you do?

Filing System for Success

One of the challenges that all business owners face is organization. With Organize Your Files week this month I wanted to share some insights to organizing your files and keeping things as straight as possible to make it as easy as possible to run your business, keep track of your finances and clients and work and get back to the good parts of running your business as quickly as possible.

Organization starts with a plan. Do you have a plan for what you do with documents you download, print or receive in the mail (virtual or physical)? If you don’t have standard operating procedures for how you deal with your materials pretty quickly you’ll become overwhelmed by them and it will be very difficult to catch up.

Once you’ve got a plan you have to consistently implement the plan. Plans, ideas and concepts are all great, but implementation is the key to success, especially when it comes to organization. Some things you can get away with organizing on a weekly or monthly basis, other things should be organized on a daily basis. Knowing the volume of different types of information and documents in your business will allow you to come up with an appropriate schedule.

So how do we get organized? You may want to create inboxes, both physical and virtual, where you quickly categorize things to be dealt with all at one point in time during the day or week, or it may work better for you if you file things as they come in. Personally I find filing as things come in a distraction and interruption to my work, so I have boxes (physical and virtual) that I stick stuff in to be filed at the end of the day/week/month, for example paid bills, bills to pay, items to shred, things to keep for ideas or clients, and things that need to be done. It takes seconds to put things in a temporary home and that allows me to get back to work quickly and take care of properly filing when I’m not needed with clients or during non-traditional work hours.

The next step is more permanently addressing things.  Have overall categories and more specific folders within the categories to organize things as is most appropriate.  Things that you have a large volume of files for should have many more specific folders to help you manage the clutter like leadership, marketing, and legal/taxes, while things like potential art and decorations for your offices will have a one general folder and no sub-folders since you won’t access it as often or have as much to put in it.

Once you’ve got your filing system set up you have to implement and keep up with the filing.  This is where the specific folders make things much easier for both filing and finding in the future because you won’t have to search for things or go through files of papers before finding things because you’ve got a great system.  If your organization system needs work make time for it this week. You’ll be glad you did in the future.

Strategies for Success: Organizing

Today I want to talk about a success topic that is very important but many people don’t like to think about or actually do: getting organized. Being organized means you save a ton of time trying to find something or get something from an employee or partner, and means you don’t have to sort through a bunch of stuff before you find what you’re looking for. The two principles we’ll go over today can be applied to lots of different types of organizing but I’ll include some examples that will be specific to things that often need organizing.

How do I know when to get rid of stuff?
This is one of the biggest questions most people have and because they can’t come up with a good answer they don’t get rid of anything. Paperwork, especially tax and legal related should always be checked with a legal professional before you get rid of anything. Some things you’ll want to keep forever, like house/property sale paperwork, other things can be gotten rid of within a year’s time or even sooner, especially if you have a digital copy. Clothing and other home goods items should be kept if you like them and if you use them. Don’t hold onto them if you don’t foresee yourself wearing/using them in the future or haven’t worn/used them in several years’ time and don’t see that changing in the near future, or if it would be cheaper to just buy new ones when you finally decide you want them. Oh yeah-as far as food goes, if it looks moldy or tastes stale get rid of it.

How do I know what to get rid of?
Duplicates are one good way of making that decision. There are a few things you need duplicates of but for the most part duplicates aren’t necessary, whether we’re talking papers, clothes or other items. Many people have duplicates of papers because they can’t find the first 6 copies, hence the need to get organized in the first place. Unless it’s a clothing item you wear a lot there’s no need to have duplicates of it, variety is good for you! The other thing to consider is something we talked about with the first point: how long has it been since you used/wore it? If it’s been years there’s no reason to hold onto it, it’s just taking up valuable space.

No, I’m not encouraging everyone to get into the “tiny house” movement (I couldn’t do it), but I know that when I’m organized, the clutter is gone and everything has it’s place, the world feels a little lighter, a little brighter and I feel a little freer to accomplish things and set goals because there are less things distracting me or calling for my attention.

Planning for Problems

As a business coach I talk with lots of business owners who are struggling. Let’s face it, depending on the day any of us could be struggling with something, whether it’s a frustrating customer, a product failure or a timing snafu that screwed with our marketing, plans or productivity. So the struggle is something that we all face, it’s not unique to just those of us who have physical businesses or are trying to succeed with an MLM. The thing that frustrates me most with business owners I talk with, as well as life coaching clients, is that more often than not there were plenty of red flags that showed up and were ignored and now they’re falling off the cliff without a parachute and expecting a miracle.

This month as we talk about health it’s important to recognize that health is done by sticking with healthy habits or changing bad habits into good ones. We’re not perfect, so more often than not we have work to do when it comes to our habits, and it’s not realistic to assume that we’ll ever attain perfection and not have things that we’ll have to work on.

The question of success comes in with when there’s something wrong, and in our reaction or response to it. Do we wait for all systems failure or do we make the time on a regular basis to tend to things so that it never ever gets that bad? I believe in yearly, monthly, weekly and daily maintenance rather than waiting for stuff to hit the fan. By preparing ahead of time, planning my day/week/month/year out, and leaving room every day for issues that pop up as well as personal time, I’m not facing an unmanageable struggle when bigger issues come my way and force me to move things around by a day or two. But it’s only because I’m prepared personally, financially, relationally, and business-wise that when issues happen I’m not usually dealing with as big of an issue, and I’m more capable of dealing with them if they are.

Your business and your customers depend on you to be on top of things. One of the only ways this happens is if you’re prepared and working ahead rather than catching up. You’ll accomplish more and feel better about yourself, your life and your business and be able to better serve your customers when you take the time to anticipate the issues and have fall-back plans for if they do appear.

“…that it is the neglect of timely repair that makes rebuilding necessary.” Richard Whately