Between my hip bursitis pain and my husband’s stroke, we’ve had 8 therapy appointments a week since December, 4 each.   Next week my husband starts vision therapy to correct his missing left visual field.  If it helps, he might be able to drive again in 3-4 months.

With driving back and forth to therapy appointments, I’ve turned to listening to audio books.  My husband’s choice would be more along Clive Cussler who writes adventure novels.  I heard some, but once he explained waterboarding, and I heard too much.  I was way too emotionally involved = TENSE as all get out, listening to what happens.  His detective series is milder and I like those. 

So I ordered what I wanted to listen to, since I’m the driver.  My husband actually liked the lady reading an Eloisa James novel.  He said her choice of words was great.  (Note – My husband does watch Hallmark movies with me, and I watch war movies and some adventure stories with him.  We both like musicals, westerns and old time movies like Cary Grant or Gary Cooper.  I, however, don’t always reciprocate.  I draw the line on thrillers and most sci-fi.

 

What do you do when things are stressed and you need to relax?  I turn to reading romance novels or watching romance type movies. A cup of chamomile tea and a good book even on a cold winter day is bliss.  Sweeps me away to a another time and place.

Replace stress with pleasure

 

What about you?

What’s your remedy for stress relief from things you can’t control?

Reply and let me know your secret remedy.

 

Happy Leap Year day.

 

The second group of distractions to remove from your desk are items that fall into three different groups.

Knick Knacks

There really is no reason to have knick knacks on your desk.  They are a true distraction because you look at them and several thoughts probably come into your mind in seconds:

  1. I love that little stuffed animal doggie.
  2. I remember that David bought it for me.
  3. I remember where we were when I got it.
  4. I remember why I got that stuffed doggie.

 

All of those thoughts just took you totally off your project and into a story about the memory of receiving that doggie knick knack.  While it may put a smile on your face, how much time did thinking about that memory just cost you? 

 

Let alone the fact that your boss walks into your office and doesn’t think you look professional.  Did that cost you an important project or a promotion?

 

Advertising Specialties

Similarly, advertising specialties are also distractors. I can’t tell you how many times I see advertising items all over someone’s desk.  And most of them are practically cousins to the knick knacks — worth nothing, not useful at work.  However, they do the one thing they are supposed to do – they promote the name of a company and you think of that company or its products when you see it.  So they distract you from your work. You really don’t need a cute little box or cube item taking up valuable work space on your desk.  If you don’t need it, or will never use it, let it go.  

Technically, don’t even take it in the first place, especially if you received it at a trade show or conference.  So many trade show promotional items are not useful; so why take something you can’t or won’t use? 

Sometimes you get a practical item like a pen, highlighter or notepad. Keep it only if you will use it.  For instance I don’t like black ink, so I rarely find a pen I would use because it doesn’t write in blue ink.  Many of these advertising items are little and don’t need to take up desk space either, so keep them inside your desk–only if you intend to use it!   

And if it’s not even a desk item, but you would use it in the office, put it inside a drawer .  i.e. If you got a stress ball and you want to try one, put it inside your desk drawer and take it out when you want it.  If you find you’re not using it,  give it away.

If you do take something useful and don’t want it after the conference, leave it in your room for the hotel staff. Someone will use it — if it’s useful.

 

Children’s Artwork

The same holds true for artwork your children made.  They do not look professional and don’t belong in the office.  And, of course, they totally distract you into thinking about your children. They should not be on your desk, nor hanging on a file cabinet with a magnet.  The office isn’t your kitchen refrigerator — not that I agree with piling things on the refrigerator either.

Hang up your children’s art projects at home.  Then you and your child can both appreciate it. 

Take a minute and look around your office.  Do you have any of these items? Comment below and tell us what you are going to release.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday is National Clean Off Your Desk Day.  You may not know it, but the first book published on unique days was Chase’s Calendar of Events.  Mr. Chase had a messy desk.  His daughter decided he needed a special day to clean off his own desk.  So the second Monday in January is dedicated to National Clean Off Your Desk Day.  

Technically, every day should be National Clean Off Your Desk Day for everyone!

Part of cleaning off your desk is to remove items from your desk that might take your attention away from your work, or your phone call.

Family Pictures

Let’s start with something easy to fix – family pictures.

When you look at them, you think of your family — not your work. If you see your children, you think of something they did. That might make you smile, OR you might remember something else that could take you “down the rabbit hole” (waste more time) because you spend too long thinking about it and not working. –i.e. You discovered this morning that your child went to school without finishing his/her homework, and you’re thinking about what you are going to say to him/her tonight.

Hang them!

That doesn’t mean you have to remove pictures from your office, just your main work area. Hang pictures on the wall and take the distraction off your desk.

There’s another reason to hang your pictures on the wall. When the pictures are on your desk facing you, your guests can’t see them when they come into the office.  ( Just look at the picture above this article and picture sitting on this side of the man’s desk with family photos on it facing him.)

When the pictures are on the wall, they are visible to your visitors. Show them off just like the paintings/pictures and certificates on your walls.

Now you can turn and see them when you’re taking a break. This way they won’t interrupt your thinking while you’re concentrating on a project.

If your family photos are on your desk, hang them up to create more of a distraction free work area. 

Watch for the next blog with the next article on more desk distractions.

 Comment below if you have family photos on your desk and if you ever noticed how they affect you.

 

 

 

 

 

I

The first week of August is Simplify your Life Week.

 

The first and simplest thing you can do is  –Get rid of the visible piles.

 

Piles can occur in any room of the house. 

The most common areas are:

              Kitchen counters

              Dining room table

              Family room tables and couches

              Master Bedroom

              Guest bedroom 

              Spare bedroom

              Bathrooms

              Home office

              Front entryway

             

Just removing the piles from your eyesight will dramatically improve your stress.

 

However, if you just toss items into a drawer or closet,  you haven’t accomplished anything.

Your mind will know the piles still exist, just in another place.

 

So take the time this week to get rid of the piles.

 

              AND

 

Tell yourself that you will not start any new piles. 

 

Make your new mantra =  NO MORE PILES.

 

I challenge you to do this for the next 30 days.

Make August “NO MORE PILES” month, and you will start to create a habit.

Continue that habit, and you will see a drastic change in your lifestyle. 

You will reduce your stress and feel so much more relaxed.

You won’t see piles everywhere, and you will find things fast.

 

 

Any piles you remove will simplify your life.

 

 

 

 

Graphic:  Not putting things away as soon as done using them.

 

The obvious first mistake that keeps you disorganized is that you don’t put things away.

Instead you put something down, thinking you will take care of it later. That’s the start of a possible pile. Something not in the right place.

Next thing you know, something goes on top of the first piece. – There’s your pile. It starts with just 2 items. And by the end of the day something else is added to it. Now there’s 3 pieces. It’s definitely a pile!

And later something else goes on top of those 3 things until there’s more, and more, and more. Now you’re suddenly inundated with piles. Piles everywhere.

 The best way that you can stay organized is to do what my parents taught me:

 “Take something out, put it back.” 

 If you’re done using it, put it away, NOW.

  • Not later.  
  • Not tomorrow.
  • Not next week. 
  • Not next month.

 

If it’s put away, it’s not going to end up in a pile. No piles means “almost organized.” What did I say – “almost organized?”

 

The second mistake makes “almost organized” turn into “mostly organized.”

This is the mistake of just putting things away anywhere.  Just tossing items into a hall closet or onto the bed or floor in the spare bedroom isn’t organized.  When you put something where it doesn’t belong, it might be put away, but it’s not really organized.  If you can’t easily find it, it isn’t organized.

Let’s take clothes on a chair in the bedroom.  That’s still the start of a pile, or added to a pile. Clothes have a place – either the dresser drawer or the closet.   Chances are it’s the closet. Pants go with pants, tops with tops, and skirts with skirts. It’s that simple to organize.  Don’t stick a top in the middle of the pants section. It’s not in its right place.  It’s not organized.

Think logical, even if you’re a creative.

 

So don’t just pick any place. Put everything in its place.

 

Being organized isn’t that hard, it’s more maintaining it after you get organized so you don’t become disorganized again.

 Spring or fall cleaning is doing all the things you don’t do on a regular basis.

That means it’s usually items that rarely get cleaned, mostly just a couple of times a year.

 

There’s a few items like dusting lamps or cleaning the oven

that are probably part of your regular cleaning,

 but I included them for those that don’t do them in their normal cleaning.

Most items listed in these checklists are not done as part of a normal routine.

 

 Not cleaning your dryer vent hose could cost you in longer drying times

 as well as problems when lint clogs the vent system.

 

Having a house sparkling clean brings a sense of newness.

 

Something that definitely goes along with spring cleaning — and even the coolness of fall cleaning. It makes you feel much better about the appearance of your house – to you, your family, and you when guests visit (neighbors, friends, or relatives).

 

Spring Cleaning also can be a time to get better organized.

 It might mean letting go of items that you no longer use, hence the increased amount of garage sales!

Or it might mean just donating those items.

 

Do you have to clean all at once?

Of course not. Sometimes, especially for duct work or heating and cooling cleaning, a professional is better. And if you do have toddlers running around, it might be easier to have a cleaning service come in. There’s also the option to hire out some of the services and do some of it yourself. For instance, hire someone to wash walls, windows and blinds besides the duct work and dryer vent. You decide what you want to do and when it’s better to hire someone.

 

Best time to Spring or Fall Clean If you are the host for family gatherings for the holidays, the best time to do your spring or fall cleaning is just before the holiday. Then your house will be ready for your holiday celebration.

 

 But that doesn’t mean you have to do all the rooms before a holiday, you can just do the ones people will see. If you want, you can do the rest after the holidays.

 

Not that you don’t have to clean up after guests leave,

but you can relax knowing your main spring or fall cleaning is already done.

 

 Actually, I recommend cleaning whatever you can as early as possible.

Even if the weather is still cold outside, there’s plenty of things to be done inside.

 

If you have kids, be sure to work around any spring or fall break schedules so you’re not cleaning when you want time to spend with your kids.

 

Time to Clean out the Computer

Most people need a specific day to get things done. Well today is the day. It’s National Clean Out Your Computer Day – always the second Monday in February.

If you haven’t cleaned out your computer or reviewed your files for some time, you may want to do it today. McDonald’s corporate sets aside a day a year for their employees to clean out their files.

What about you? 

Your excuse might be: “It’s too much; I need more than a day. “ That’s okay. I get it. It could be very overwhelming to tackle this all at once. 

So don’t … 

Don’t tackle it all at once

Get started by taking just a chunk of it. One bite at a time.

Ever eat a Mounds bar? Even though it comes in 2 pieces, I’ll bet you don’t eat a whole piece in one bite!

Take a chunk out of your digital file clean out. Set yourself a reasonable time limit of at least an hour or two, and clean out as much as you can. Keep a running note (on paper or a digital file) that let’s you know where you started and where you ended up. You might want to schedule it for the same time for the next day, or two, or three days. Or you might want to do it over the weekend, or several weeks, whenever is best for you.

Where to start

The logical place to start is with your first file folder, and keep working through your files.

 But that doesn’t mean you have to start there. If you have a certain file that has been bothering you for some time, that’s a good place to start cleaning it up. Just be sure to note that you did those files so you don’t have to review them again.

The better organized you are, the easier it is to find information when you want it. 

Keep less, find it fast.

 

Last weekend we had 32 degrees and 7.5 inches of snow in north Scottsdale AZ. My husband actually measured how much snow was on top of a low dividing wall.  I felt like I was back in Chicago looking at a white winter wonderland as the large flakes fell softly to the ground.  In the 14 years I’ve been in this house, it’s been our fourth snow, but this one was the most and lasted more than overnight.  If you drove just 8 blocks south, there wasn’t even a drop of snow on the ground!  You could only see it on the top of the mountains. When we drive north towards our house, we always watch the temperature gauge on the car as it drops about 10 degrees from the main city, but rarely down to freezing.

As my daughter said, she didn’t have to take Max and Miles several hours north to play in the snow – just 40 minutes to Grammie’s house!  After a few sled rides over the back patio, we all went into the side yard (the only place with grass) to play in the snow and build a snowman.

pix

My Fairy Garden buried under 7.5 inches of snow

The snowman was a group accomplishment. Max and Miles (7 and 3)  brought the snow over to our snowman location.  Padding the snowman into shape was mostly from the adults because the boys kept trying to put bulky pieces on top and the snowman would break apart.  That was mostly because the rain on Sat. with the cold temps had made the snow more like ice than fluff.  I really knew it was hard-pack when Max threw a snowball at me — it hurt.  As I suspected, the next day I had a black-and-blue mark on my hip.

Next:  Make the snowman look like more than a mountain of snow!

Since the snowman needed to look like one, we added features to our “mountain”:

  • The arms came from some red poles that were used for a game of horseshoes.
  • The face and buttons came from small rocks the boys found on the ground.
  • The gloves were donated by my daughter.
  • The hat was donated from Max since he had a hood.
  • I didn’t have any carrots, so I used an orange bell pepper for his nose.

pix

I think the bell pepper was better than a carrot – more like a nose!

All in all, we had a grand time.  But it wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t all have the same goal – to build a snowman together. The boys couldn’t have done it themselves, as evidenced by their bringing huge pieces over and toppling half the body several times.

Toasting the New Year
Toasting the New Year
Friends Toasting the New Year

How are your New Year’s Resolutions Progressing?

Did you make New Year’s Resolutions? Are you progressing? Some unknown person named Jan. 17th as Ditch Your New Year’s Resolutions Day. I don’t think you need to ditch them yet. It takes 30 days to make a habit. If you didn’t get going on your resolutions, it’s okay to get moving forward now. And if you did get going but aren’t moving along, here’s some ideas to re-activate your goals.

Success begets more success.

First, most resolutions are way too big, and you will miss the mark if you just go after the big goal itself. You can usually find several smaller goals within that one big goal. Chunking resolutions/goals down into smaller ones let’s you see more progress. More importantly, you have this sense of accomplishment of the smaller goal, and that makes you want to continue. Success begets more success. For example, your goal to drop 25 pounds won’t happen in one week so you’re smaller goal might be 1–2 pounds a week instead. When you accomplish 1–2 pounds a week, you feel better than only looking at the bigger goal of not reaching losing 25 pounds. When you steadily lose 1 pound a week, that sense of achieving your goal is the motivation to keep going.

Reward yourself.

Second, add another motivator — Take small rewards as you accomplish each step. If you lost 1 pound, have a 1-pound reward. If you organized one drawer, have a reward for that, not just one reward when you organize all your files or your whole office or the whole bedroom — those are bigger goals and get bigger rewards.

Make a list of small rewards that you could take like a cup of hot chocolate or hot apple cider (vs. your usual coffee), or a sweet treat, or reading a novel for 30 minutes. (Don’t do this last one at work unless it’s lunch time.)

Chart it

Third, keep a chart of your progress as you accomplish each step. You could use a spreadsheet or even a handwritten list like:

Week 1 small goal =  Lose 1 pound of weight and check it off when you have accomplished it. The same goes for week 2, 3, 4, etc. Reward yourself only when you accomplish the task and don’t reward yourself if you don’t complete the small goal.

 

Make this year your best year ever!