Tag Archives: coach

Coaching and Organizing Differ

I love coaching, both the coaching I do and the coaching I’ve received. Why? It is the single most

If you want to make positive changes, choose coaching.

powerful process for change I’ve ever experienced with clients and myself.

I’ve worked for years doing hands-on organizing for people (since 1997), a role in which I usually direct the action, make decisions about what to do, and make sure progress is being made. Clients request hands-on organizing because they want me to improve their spaces. There is the possibility for change because as we clear clutter and organize a space, the energy in the space shifts from negative to less negative or positive. It’s a rather passive change process. Although the client may be the recipient of the energy benefits of improving their space, those benefits happen without much ownership by the client. Without ownership of the change process, the client is less likely to commit to maintaining the environmental changes that are made.

Coaching is a learning/action process that helps clients reach their goals. Unlike typical hands-on organizing, in coaching the client is the driver of the process of change. Clients reach out to me because they want something to be different and better in their lives. They want to be different — more productive, less scattered, more aware of what they want and how to get it. They want to change what they are doing so they can get the results they seek.

I partner with my clients to co-create a relationships that make it possible for clients to find their own answers. For coaching to work, the client must be invested in the process of coaching. They have the opportunity to create awareness of who they are, what they’re doing, what they’re thinking, their values, challenge areas and strengths. That information and learning is then leveraged to inform action. With awareness the client and I work together to strategize options for action. I may offer possible strategies, but the client decides what action he/she will take.

Accountability is part of the process of coaching. The client agrees to take specific action between sessions and report his/her progress in the next session. It is his/her opportunity to take their learning into real life practice. I provide accountability and support for the client taking action by inquiring about his/her action in the next session. Whether the client completed the action(s) or not, he/she has the opportunity to learn from whatever was or wasn’t done. With learning and practice change occurs.

Hands-on organizing is very beneficial in the short run. However, if you want real change, if you want to learn to do things differently with a non-judgmental support, coaching is your best option.

Are you curious about what coaching could do for you? Experience the benefits of coaching by scheduling a FREE 30 minute Back on Track phone coaching session with me. You’ll get a risk-free taste of coaching and have the opportunity to learn more about this empowering process for change.

Productivity: Plan Your Breaks Carefully

Have you had the experience that you are working along on a task or project, stop for a short

Avoid engaging in social media and other pleasurable electronic activities when you take breaks to ensure that you will be able to return to work in a timely manner.

break with the sincere intention to return to your work, but don’t return to it? I’m guessing that most of us have had that type of experience. What happened? Breaks are supposed to help you be more productive, right? How did you get completely derailed from your work?

What you do on your break can determine whether or not you will be successful returning to work after it. If you stand up, stretch, get a drink and/or a snack, go to the bathroom, step outside for a few minutes, even take a short walk, it will be relatively easy to return to your work. Those activities are not likely to distract you from your focus on your work.

If you check Facebook or any other social media site, look at Youtube, play video games, watch TV, surf the web or listen to something engaging, like NPR, you are likely to have more difficulty getting back on track. Those activities are highly stimulating and give great pleasure that can be hard to disengage from. They take you to a place that is very different from your work. You may think you’ll just look at Facebook for five minutes, yet find yourself there for 25 minutes. By then you’ll have shifted from a work/productivity focus to a pleasure focus.

Breaks are essential for productivity. Your brain needs a rest after working hard for a period of time. Taking a break allows you to reset and refresh your brain and get your energy and motivation back. Take breaks regularly (5-15 minutes), but plan your breaks to avoid highly stimulating and highly pleasurable activities that can shift your focus and make re-engaging in your task or project more difficult, if not impossible.

Women Get Stuck! Is This You?

Stuck means not moving. All women experience times in their lives when they just can’t seem to

Self-doubt, limiting beliefs, and fear can keep an artist stuck. Taking action is an act of courage.

muster the motivation to take action to do the things they need to do to maintain a manageable life and/or the things they want to do to support mental, physical, emotional and spiritual growth and create a fulfilling life.

Some women get stuck more easily. I work with three categories of women who get stuck.

  1. Women in transition. When you experience a death or loss, like the death of a spouse, parent or child, or a divorce, it is quite common to get stuck in grief, stuck in an old role and paralyzed when you have to rebuild your life following a significant loss. Other transitions include retiring from a job, becoming an empty nester, changing careers.
  2. Women Artists. Writers experience writer’s block when ideas and words will not flow. Artists want to paint, draw, sculpt, etc., but can’t make themselves show up on a regular basis to do their work. Musicians have the best intentions to practice their instruments, but keep choosing other things to do.
  3. Women with ADHD. Women with ADHD can have great difficulty initiating action, particularly action that is perceived to be boring, not fun and not stimulating. They are also prone to rumination, getting stuck spinning in negative thoughts that keep them stuck. Transitions, getting into action and out of action, are difficult.

What these categories of women have in common is that each is probably stuck because they hold negative perspectives about themselves, their abilities and what’s possible for them. Limiting beliefs, fear, and self-criticism block forward motion. Fear keeps them disconnected from awareness of their strengths and gifts that could be used to get unstuck. Most aren’t even aware of how their negative thoughts and fears block action.

Coaching is a process that will get you unstuck. You will partner with a coach for support to generate awareness of what is keeping you stuck, what your strengths, values and needs are, and to strategize ways ways to take action to achieve your goals. The real gift of coaching is the opportunity to plan and take action with accountability. Knowing that your coach believes in you and is supporting forward movement can motivate you to reach for goals that previously seemed out of reach.

If you are stuck, take the first step. Schedule a 30 minute FREE Back on Track coaching session with me. In that session you will test drive coaching to see if it could be a good fit for you to get unstuck and moving in the direction of your goals and dreams.

Women In Transition — A Growth Opportunity

You are trying to get back on your feet after a painful divorce. You are planning to retire and are contemplating how to spend your time in retirement. You are grieving the loss of a spouse or a child. You want to quit an unfulfilling job to pursue work that is more in alignment with your values and passions. You are recovering from an illness and know that you need to make significant life changes in order to live a healthy life. But, how can you get through the challenges of these periods that seem so daunting?

Life transitions are times of change whether by choice or circumstance. Typically they are periods in your life when you feel uncertain, perhaps disconnected from yourself, and sometimes stuck because it’s scary to go from a familiar way of being into something new and unknown. However, transitions are also times of opportunity to create new awareness about what really matters to you, your choices for forward movement, and possible steps to take to get to a better place.

Times of transition are often accompanied by swings of emotion — fear, overwhelm, excitement, depression. It is not uncommon to get hung up in negative emotions, to complain about how long transitions last and how lost you are, to feel frustrated with a lack of mental clarity and, to be stuck.

Many people in transition will isolate themselves from others. They mistakenly believe they have to find their way on their or that getting help from others means they are weak. Going it alone only prolongs this uncomfortable state of being. Also, in isolation you are more likely to become wedded to inaccurate perceptions and limiting beliefs because there is no one to question them or offer alternative ways of thinking and doing.

One way to navigate through transitions more quickly with fewer stuck points is to hire a coach. A coach can help you reconnect with yourself, identify your options for forward movement, help you develop a plan of action, and provide emotional support as you find your way into a new segment of your life journey.

Are you in transition? If so, make this time of transition a productive period of growth and personal development by hiring a coach to walk with you as you find your way through uncertain and unsettled times to a better place. I offer a FREE 30-60 minute Back on Track phone coaching session so you can experience the benefits of being coached. Schedule your frees session now!

Clutter & Soul Starvation

I’ve often wondered why clutter has become such a problem for many people. In my work with

The weight of these clothes broke the rod that was holding them.

clients as a hands-on professional organizer I have the opportunity to see just how much stuff people can accumulate. In extreme cases purchased items are never used and closet rods break under the weight of clothing. People feel ashamed about the condition of the spaces in which they live. Yet, many keep accumulating more things. . .

There are many reasons people continue buying things even when their homes are extremely clutter. Some do it because they aren’t aware of what they already have. Others buy more stuff because they can’t find what they need when they need it. Still others have to have the newest, best, latest version of a product, something new and shiny.

I think there is also another reason for the constant accumulation of stuff. People buy things to feel good, unconsciously trying to fill an inner ache, an inner longing for meaning in their lives. Our society promotes materialism. We are constantly bombarded with advertising whose subliminal message is, “Own the newest model of car or iPhone or the new style of clothing, and your life will be wonderful.” We’ve been programmed to believe that having things will make us happy. When it doesn’t work, many people buy more things because they haven’t figured out that things don’t bring long-lasting happiness, contentment, and fulfillment.

I believe that in some cases clutter is an outward manifestation of an inner need for meaning, for connection with our true selves, perhaps parts of ourselves that we don’t even know exist because it has never been safe to reveal them or we were never encouraged to explore our inner world. We live in a society that rewards extroversion, outward action, more highly than inner exploration.

I refer to the inner knowing self as the soul. Our souls are fed when our actions are in alignment with our values, strengths and passions. To discover our values, strengths and passions we must go inside and reflect on what lights us up, what makes us feel alive and motivated, what brings us long-lasting pleasure. We aren’t taught how to do this in schools, churches, communities or even our own homes. We are taught that money is the source of happiness, that it’s important to get an education in subjects that have potential to lead to jobs that pay well. We are taught to seek money, not self-knowing, self-connection, or fulfillment.

Clutter caused by overspending happens when our souls are screaming to be fed. We’ve been taught that fulfillment exists outside of ourselves, so we shop. And, if that doesn’t work, we shop some more. Our houses become congested and sometimes even toxic with the physical remains of our attempts to feed our souls. Then, when clutter problems become severe, we turn on themselves with judgment and negative self-talk. Our families also join in, echoing our own criticism, and self-esteem plummets.

How do we stop the downward spiral described above? Stop shopping. Then, get to know yourself — your values, passions, and what you are longing for. Once you’ve done that, spend your time and resources investing in those things. Self-exploration is often easier to do with the help of a coach or a therapist. A close friend who knows you well and is a good listener may also be able to give you feedback about what they know about what really matters to you.

Know yourself. Feed your soul. Prevent clutter.

ADHD: Benefits of Planning with a Coach

I coach women with ADHD. Part of the coaching process is to identify an action at the end of

Planning with a coach increases the chances that you will take action.

each session to do between sessions. In the next session I check back with the client about what happened. Did they take action? If so, what happened? What did they learn? What worked? What didn’t? If they didn’t take action I inquire about what happened that prevented taking action. Did they forget to take action? Did they choose not to take action? If so, how did they reach that decision? If they didn’t take action, what else were they doing?

It is not uncommon for ADHD clients to return to sessions and report that they didn’t do what they said they would do. Why not? Often they committed to an action but didn’t do anything to hold that commitment in memory. It was as if the action was a floating leaf that touched down because it sounded like a good idea, and then blew away out of awareness just as quickly.

I initially worked with clients on how to more effectively anchor commitments in order to increase the possibility of follow through. However, just remembering what they’d committed to do wasn’t enough to motivate them to take action.

So, I went a step further and asked questions like, “When will you do this?” “What’s the benefit of completing this task?” “What steps will you need to take to make this happen?” “What barriers could prevent you from doing this?” “What resources are available to help you do this?” When I’ve helped clients plan in this way, they were more likely to report the following week that they had taken action. It seems that the planning we did together helped to anchor their commitment in memory and made doing the action easier to face and follow through on.

Planning is a process that can be difficult for people with ADHD due to executive function deficits. Saying you will do a task is easy. Breaking a task down into step-by-step actions, considering the when, where, what, how and what ifs necessary to take action are not. Planning done in partnership with a supportive other can be just the mental fuel necessary to take action.

If you have ADHD and have difficulty starting and completing important tasks, perhaps difficulties with planning are blocking action. Coaching is an option that could help you practice planning and take action with support. To learn more about how you can be more productive with coaching, schedule a FREE 30-60 minute Back on Track phone coaching session with me.

Eliminate Perspectives that Keep You Stuck!

Clutter keeps you stuck. Normally, clearing clutter helps you get clear aboutimagesCAGBLYOU what matters which then leads to positive action. But, if you’ve cleared your clutter and notice that you still feel stuck, it could be that limiting perspectives are the culprit.

What’s a limiting perspective? It’s a way looking at things in your life. For example, you could look at life as a daring adventure and greet each day with enthusiasm and the expectation that no matter what happens it will be a great adventure. Or, you could look at life as a daily grind, where nothing will ever change. With that perspective you are likely to wake with a feeling dread and resignation that each day will be the same old unfulfilling thing.

Which perspective resonates with you? Most of us are unaware of the perspectives we carry in our heads. You move through life with limiting perspectives and don’t even realize that it’s not that you have bad luck or grew up on the wrong side of that tracks or that you didn’t get enough education or land the right job. What’s often keeps you stuck are your thoughts, those limiting beliefs and perspectives that have become habitual. 

Following are some common limiting perspectives:

  • life is hard
  • we all have to struggle to get by
  • I’ll never get my head above water
  • when I get the right job, mate, break, everything will be OK.

With those kinds of beliefs running around in your head, is it any wonder that you are stuck, unable to create a meaningful life in which you experience joy, are connected to your passions, and feel happy and fulfilled?

The challenge of limiting perspectives is that they are so habitual that you aren’t even aware that they are holding you hostage. Without awareness of their existence and power over you, you are unable to let them go and choose perspectives that will move you in a positive direction.

One of the best ways to identify limiting perspectives, strategize how to release them and identify more helpful perspectives is to work with a coach. A coach is trained to listen for limiting perspectives and bring them to light in coaching sessions to be addressed and released. Coaching is a partnership in which you have the opportunity to learn which behaviors, thoughts, beliefs and perspectives do not serve you and keep you stuck, plus strategize ways to take action to let go of those habitual ways of behaving and choose new ways to think and behave.

What limiting perspectives are keeping you stuck? If you are unable to identify what is keeping you stuck, sign up now for a free 30 minute Back on Track phone coaching session with me. Remember, getting unstuck begins with a single step. 

Clutter: 5 Negative Effects on Personal Relationships

If you think your clutter affects only you, think again. Feng shui teaches that everything

Clutter creates conflict in relationships.

Clutter creates conflict in relationships.

is connected. Clutter in any area of your home affects the overall energy of the space. The overall energy of the space affects what happens in your life.

Clutter is negative energy. Negative energy repels good things from coming to you. It also can make you feel unsettled, irritable, anxious and overwhelmed. Clutter affects your energy and the energy of everyone in your space even if the clutter is yours alone. The energy of each family member affects their decision-making and behavior. 

Over the years I’ve worked as a professional organizer I’ve seen clutter affect personal relationships in the following ways:

  • It affects your relationship with yourself. Your self-esteem and your thinking and feelings about yourself suffer when you have clutter. You can be very self-critical, forever beating yourself up about your inability to clear your clutter. Clutter blocks you from accessing your gifts and strengths and effectively utilizing them in your life.
  • It affects your relationship with your spouse. Spouses of a cluttered person who are bothered by the condition of the environment express their discomfort in judgment, negative comments, name calling, anger and irritability. Even if your spouse is not openly judgmental, the negative energy of the clutter creates a charged environment in which it is easier to become irritated, agitated and at odds with each other. Clutter also keeps you unconscious of the state of your relationship, it’s growth or lack of growth, issues that need to be addressed, and changes that need to be made for the sake of the relationship. Failure to address clutter challenges can lead to divorce.
  • It affects your relationship with your children. Clutter is distracting. Feng shui teaches that the energy of each item in your space talks to you. Having clutter, therefore, is like having hundreds of little conversations going on all at once. All that noise keeps you distracted, unable to have the mental clarity needed to parent effectively. It also makes it more difficult to stay calm, grounded and make good decisions. In a cluttered space you are more likely to be reactive, saying and doing things that are hurtful to your children.
  • It affects family relationships. The negative energy in cluttered spaces makes everyone less tolerant and more easily irritated and reactive. It distracts from what is really important to sustain healthy family connections. Clutter keeps you focused on what’s wrong, what doesn’t feel good rather than on fostering and investing in positive connections.
  • It affects your relationships with friends and relatives. You may be embarrassed by the condition of your space to the point where you avoid asking people over to visit, to share a meal or to celebrate birthdays and holidays. Barring people from your home can disconnect you from social contacts and eventually result in isolation.

What can you do today to improve your relationships by clearing clutter? If you cannot clear clutter on your own despite your best efforts, email me today to schedule a free 30 minute coaching consultation to determine your next step to clear clutter for the sake of your relationships.

Pause to Manage Your ADHD

Even hummingbirds pause. So often we see those tiny birds in constant motion. It’s easy

Even hummingbirds pause.

Even hummingbirds pause.

to think that their wings never stop beating. But, they do. I saw it for myself today. I have a branch right outside my kitchen window where hummingbirds come to pause for a few seconds before heading back to work. It always seems like a miracle when I witness that miraculous event!

Pausing is not only essential for rest, but we humans need to pause so we reflect on our actions, desires, and our reality to create new awareness, anchor learning, and regroup. What does this have to do with ADHD? People with ADHD (even the inattentive type) find it difficult to pause. They are either physically moving or their brains are constantly active.

The ADHD brain has two speeds: either full on or stopped. Consequently, people with ADHD can miss the learning and opportunities that are possible with a pause. Failing to recognize the value of pausing, of taking a breath to engage reflective processes can result in acting impulsively without sufficient thought to benefits and/or consequences of actions. The fallout can manifest as mistakes, hurt feelings, wasted time, and worse.

Pausing is hard to do in our fast-paced world, and especially difficult for those who have ADHD. Coaching provides the opportunity to pause. Clients who participate in coaching make a conscious decision to stop and step outside their busy lives. The coaching process is all about clients pausing to create new awareness and learning that can be used to design action that will help them achieve their goals.

Are you running as fast as you can but still not getting where you really want to go? Perhaps it’s time find a coach to make pausing possible. Why not pause right now and schedule a FREE 30 Back on Track phone coaching session to find out more about coaching and consider whether it’s a process that could work to help you achieve your goals.

What Is an ADHD Organizer Coach?

People with ADHD function best when they get support from others who understand

An ADHD organizer coach can coach by phone and work in clients' homes to help get organizing done.

An ADHD organizer coach can coach by phone and work in clients’ homes to help get organizing done.

the nature of ADHD. An ADHD coach can provide that support. ADHD coaching helps people with ADHD manage their symptoms and discover ways to lead more organized, productive, intentional and fulfilling lives.

There are currently two good coaching options for people with ADHD: an ADHD coach or an ADHD organizer coach. An ADHD coach is a trained coach who has chosen to specialize in coaching people with ADHD. An ADHD organizer coach is both a professional organizer and a coach. ADHD organizer coaches are typically trained both in coaching and in working with ADHD coaching clients.

Disorganization is a common ADHD challenge that causes problems in many areas of life. What sets the ADHD organizer coach apart from the ADHD coach is that she/he is qualified to address a client’s organizing challenges as well as other common ADHD challenges like time management, emotion regulation, getting things done, consistent followthrough, making decisions, impulsivity, memory problems, relationship challenges, etc.

Because an organizer coach is required to have hands-on organizing experience in order to become a Certified Organizer Coach® (COC), and a majority of people who seek the services of professional organizers have ADHD, those who become COCs have undoubtedly logged  many hours working side by side with people who have ADHD. That gives them first hand knowledge of the way ADHD typically shows up, not only in organizing issues, but also in time and task management challenges. They also come to coaching with experience and knowledge about what works to help people with ADHD clear clutter and set up and maintain organizing systems that work for them.

Getting things done, initiating action and sustaining action to completion is difficult for people with ADHD, particularly if tasks are overwhelming, boring or repetitious. Clearing clutter and getting organized can be both overwhelming and boring. Unlike the ADHD coach, an ADHD organizer coach can work with clients not only over the phone, but in a home or office setting. When it appears that clutter and organizing issues are impeding client progress, an ADHD organizer coach can work side by side with clients to clear clutter, set up organizing systems, and get organizing done.

If you have ADHD and have clutter and organizing challenges, an ADHD organizer coach can help you with both challenges. I am an ADHD organizer coach. Email to schedule a free 30 minute phone consultation to explore the option of ADHD coaching to make your life more manageable.

9 Elements of Success

Green treeSuccess isn’t a yes/no, right/wrong achievement. It can’t be attained by hard work alone. Many people operating from the “just work harder” school of thought have tried and failed. So, what really is necessary to achieve success in any endeavor you undertake?

My own life journey and my coach training have helped me get conscious about nine distinct elements of success. I share them as the beginning of an on-going conversation I plan to have with you in future blog posts.

  1. Self-knowledge: know your passions, your strengths, your needs and values, the areas where you struggle, what you avoid.
  2. Keep the big goal top of mind: identify what matters most and keep it conscious as you navigate through your days.
  3. Positive focus: look for the good in every experience, even challenging ones. What you focus on you attract more of.
  4. Self-care: good sleep, regular exercise, good hydration, good nutrition create the conditions for the best brain power, the best attitudes.
  5. Good boundaries: learn to say no, avoid taking on too much, giving too much to others to your own detriment.
  6. Continuous learning: look for the lessons. Learn from every situation, especially challenging ones.
  7. Support: get help in areas where you struggle, areas you hate, areas you avoid.
  8. Letting go: do your part and let go. You are responsible for the effort, not the outcome.
  9. Balance: avoid extremes — all work, no play; all play, no work. Avoid black and white thinking and engaging. Go for gray. Find a balance. 

Working with these elements is part of the program I offer coaching clients. They can become the building blocks for consciously living an empowered life of your choosing. Instead of just floating down the river of life at the whim and mercy of events and those around you, consider these elements to be strong trees on the bank of the river. They can help shape your perspectives and guide your thoughts and feelings to personal and professional success.

In upcoming blog posts I will be writing about each of these elements in more detail. Stay tuned!

Clutter Clearing: Your Freedom Depends on It

Independence Day! July 4th is in my sights and my mind drifted to freedom and independence. iStock_000025764823SmallAs Americans we are blessed with the freedom to determine our own life direction, to live as we choose within the limits of the law. What a blessing!

Being a professional organizer and organizer coach my thoughts naturally honed in on the effects of clutter on freedom and independence. I’ve worked with countless people who enjoy being free and living independently in the US, but who are imprisoned in clutter-filled homes and office spaces that keep them stuck in negative thinking, habits and patterns, unable to be their best selves living the best lives possible.

Clutter blocks freedom in the following ways:

  • Clutter blocks the freedom to think clearly.
  • Clutter blocks the freedom to make good decisions.
  • Clutter blocks the freedom to move to a new home or office.
  • Clutter blocks the freedom to see your strengths and design a life that fits with your strengths.
  • Clutter blocks freedom to invite new, good things into your life.
  • Clutter blocks the freedom and courage to take risks and step out of your comfort zone.
  • Clutter blocks the freedom to access positive self-esteem.
  • Clutter blocks the freedom to make good choices.
  • Clutter blocks the freedom to enjoy time off because the weight of the clutter keeps you feeling like you should be doing something to address it.

I could go on and on. Clutter in any form blocks freedom to move forward with your life with confidence, courage, determination, and focus. Finding a way to purge clutter is a great investment in reclaiming freedom and greater independence. 

If, despite your best efforts you have not been able to clear your clutter, consider seeking support from a professional organizer or an organizer coach. We are trained to help people reclaim their brilliance and freedom to move in a non-judgmental, empowering supportive process. If you’re ready to reclaim your freedom to be your best self, email me to schedule a 30 minute phone conversation to explore the possibility of working with me to clear clutter with hands-on organizing or coaching. Reclaiming your freedom begins with a single step!

Happy 4th of July!

Coaching Accountability Leads to New Learning: A Chilling Story

One of the great benefits of coaching is the opportunity of accountability. In each session the iStock_000010338713Smallclient and coach strategize actions that the client commits to taking between sessions to help her make progress on achieving her goals. When the client returns for the next session the coach checks in with her about her action item. Whether or not she completed the task, there is always an opportunity for learning. It’s fascinating to see how the learning emerges for clients. Following is a particularly rich example of the type of learning that can happen when clients take action.

Sally (name changed to maintain confidentiality) had committed to “chilling” for 15 minutes every day. She knows how to work hard, but self-care and relaxing are difficult for her. She had been unable to make time for chilling at home, but was determined to do it on a trip to St. Thomas with her daughter and husband.

The first day Sally went to the pool with her family and lay on a lounge chair. She soon realized she had forgotten to bring a book or magazine. She had nothing to do. Sounds heavenly, doesn’t it? Not so for Sally! She felt extremely uncomfortable, like she was going to jump out of her skin. She looked around and noticed others doing nothing. They seemed just fine with relaxing. The contrast between the comfort of others around her and her discomfort made her aware that she really didn’t know how to relax and do nothing. She could see and feel how inexperienced and uncomfortable she is with doing nothing, with just relaxing.

Shortly thereafter she asked a staff member what people do on St. Thomas. The young woman responded, “Relax! Relax! Relax! Relax! Relax!” Given Sally’s memory of her difficulty relaxing at the pool, she took the young woman’s response as an indicator that she what had made her so uncomfortable at the pool, relaxing, was exactly what she was meant to do on this trip.

A day or two later Sally and her husband had some time to kill before a scheduled event. It was an excellent opportunity to practice chilling. They went to the lobby and hung out for four hours! When I asked Sally how she had managed that she told me that she had taken that staff member’s message to heart. Somehow it opened her up to have a different experience when there was nothing to do. Instead of twitching, she enjoyed watching people, nestling down in a comfy sofa, allowing her mind to wander and chatting with her husband. Her drive for doing was replaced by allowing rest, relaxation and just being with her loved ones in a lovely place. 

Sally’s commitment to chill led her to new awareness of how difficult it is for her to unplug and relax and to having a new, positive experience that motivated her to seek more such experiences. In our next coaching session Sally was more determined than ever to bring chilling into her time at home.

What new behavior would give you the opportunity to learn about yourself and open up the possibility for real change? Would having accountability offered in coaching make it more likely that you would take action and have a new experience? If you’re curious about this possibility, email me for a free 30 minute conversation about the opportunities of coaching for you.

A New Definition of Competent

imagesCAZS6KYU

What’s possible when you change your definition of competent?

I made a New Year’s commitment to have a different kind of year this year. I wanted more rest, play, and lighthearted times. I have a long history of over-functioning and pushing myself beyond my physical limits. Not only was I running on empty. I was running on fumes trying to run my business, finish Organizer Coach certification, coordinate care for my mother who has Alzheimer’s and is in assisted living, oversee my disabled brother’s care in Connecticut, maintain a good marriage, and manage our household. I knew if I didn’t make some real changes I would eventually pay a hefty price with my health. 

When I began making changes, like avoiding my computer until after I had walked my dogs and had quiet time with a cup of coffee and reading from books that feed my heart, soul and brain, I felt wonderful. And, I also felt uncomfortable. Fortunately I’m working with Diane Thomson, a great coach, so I had the support I needed to work through my discomfort. Following is what I wrote her as I was trying to make sense of my experience of slowing down.

“After our session I did some thinking about my blahs today. It occurred to me that perhaps part of the blah feeling is because I’m not running on adrenalin constantly. I’m not getting high from urgency every day. What I’m feeling might really feel OK to a ‘normal’ person who is not a compulsive doer. This feeling of going slower and more deliberately, instead of at warp speed to get as much done as possible, trying to jam way too much into the time available, feels unfamiliar. I think I may be equating unfamiliar with wrong, problematic, and bad.

I also thought that it would be a good idea to re-write MY definition of competent. My old unconscious definition was something like ‘be reliable and do high quality work for as much time as possible during a day or until you drop dead or get sick.’ Yes, I had been living by that unconscious recipe for disaster for many decades. 

The notion of self-care was completely missing from my original definition of competent. But, with current awareness, facilitated by coaching, I realize I’m not being competent when I get tons done at the expense of my health, rest, relaxation, and quality relationships. Competent can be doing high quality work in amounts of time that still allow me to stop, breathe, rest, enjoy life, have fun and build/maintain quality relationships.”

With my new definition of competent I’m moving into each day deliberately making space for me and my needs. I am getting more rest, having more fun, stopping before I’m exhausted, enjoying a deeper connection with my husband, and still being productive. In fact, these days when I work I am able to focus more quickly and easily, and I get a lot done in less time. Who knew that taking care of myself could improve my efficiency!

Yes, I still feel twinges of discomfort because I’m not driving myself as I once would have. I notice those feelings and remind myself that change is hard, but that my choice is right. I believe getting off the fast track and onto the right track, a track that is respectful of me and my needs, is the only way to be able to make the biggest difference in this lifetime and drink in all the blessings and gifts this life has to offer.  

What is your definition of competent?

Inattentive ADD & Workaholism: Two Ends of the Productivity Spectrum

Some people struggle to get started, particularly on tasks that are challenging, unpleasant or boring. Others can start with relative ease, but have difficulty finding their off switch. The first type of person struggles to get things done, to be reliable, to be consistently productive and follow through consistently. The second type gets lots of things done, but struggles with exhaustion and burnout as well as the personal fall out from being so absorbed in work that other areas of their life, particularly relationships, are neglected.

Are you ready to step out of the stress?

Are you ready to step out of the stress?

The first description is of a person who has inattentive ADD (attention deficit disorder), a neurobiological disorder. The second describes a compulsive doer, a workaholic. The person with ADD is likely to have more conflict outside of herself in relationships for not following through, finishing tasks and being reliable as well as an internal struggle with shame and low self-esteem. The compulsive doer seems to have her act together because she is productive, but she is not free from struggle. Though her relationships can be stressed by her unavailability, her biggest struggle is internal. Workaholics are often driven by fear that they might not measure up and an unconscious need to do enough to be OK. They manage their fear of inadequacy by continuing to push themselves mercilessly. No matter how much they accomplish, they have never done enough to feel safe from the critical voice in their own head.

These two types of people are at opposite ends of the continuum of productivity. One struggles to be productive. The other is incredibly productive, but is unable to acknowledge and enjoy their accomplishments. Unfortunately it’s common for both types of people to continue struggling because they are not aware that there are other options to dodging bullets, racing for deadlines and working to the point of exhaustion. 

Coaching is a process that focuses on developing self-knowledge and self-awareness to make it possible to accomplish goals. In coaching the person with ADD has the opportunity to develop awareness of how her ADD sabotages her efforts to be productive and design and practice strategies for managing her ADD. The workaholic in coaching has the opportunity to pause, connect with herself and discover what keeps her on the treadmill to exhaustion. With greater clarity about what drives her to the point of exhaustion and even illness, strategies for shifting to a lower gear, and the support of her coach, the workaholic has the opportunity to shift her perception of herself and make space for more than work in her life.

Opposites aren’t always opposite. The person with ADD and the workaholic both struggle to feel competent and productive enough. Their lives are lived in stress mode. Coaching is an option that can help them identify and manage their internal and external struggles and create new ways of being that can result in long-lasting personal empowerment.

If you recognize yourself in either description, consider investing in coaching to make possible living a life with less stress, more pleasure and more peace.

Crises: Opportunities to Get Clarity About Your Values

DSCN0244“Big rocks” are those areas of your life that are most important. My big rocks include my family (including furry family members), my marriage, my health and personal growth, my friends, and my business. I spend most of my time and energy on my “big rocks.” Sometimes I must choose which rock is most important. When that happens, I view it as a self-knowledge learning opportunity.

This past Monday I was scheduled to work with two coaching clients. However, when I had lunch with my mother at her assisted living facility, it was very apparent that the tumble she’d taken out of her bed the day before had left her in significant hip pain. I had been told that an x-ray of her hip was scheduled for that afternoon. So, I returned her to her room after lunch and set off to call the first client.

Before making that call I checked with the doctor’s office to verify that it would in fact happen that day. I didn’t want Mom hurting for long. And, I was concerned that she might actually have fractured her hip. I was given the phone number of the imaging company that would do the x-ray, and  was told they’d never received the order, from either the assisted living facility or from the doctor’s office. There I was, due to call a client in ten minutes and in the middle of an administrative debacle regarding my mother’s care.

I was at a choice point between two of my “big rocks”: my family and my work (means of fiscal survival). Plus I was mad as hell! What to do? The super-responsible worker part of me was on auto-pilot, proceeding with the work, planning to make that call. That part of me wanted to be the reliable, conscientious coach, a person of high integrity. But, when I factored in my emotional state (mad as hell!), I quickly came to the conclusion that I was not in a good place emotionally, and my ability to be the attentive source of support my client needed and deserved had been compromised both by my feelings of anger and my concern for my mother.

Looking back, I realize that what had emerged in that crisis was awareness of my strong value of working with integrity and my equally strong value of family. Awareness of those values and the weight of those values helped inform my decision to cancel my coaching client and return to help my mother get the care she needed. And, I also learned that family trumps work anytime!

What values are guiding your decisions? Times of crisis, difficult as they are, can in hindsight be great opportunities for awareness of your most important values. Knowing  your values arms you to make good decisions.

**If you are curious about learning more about your values, I would be happy to send you a copy of a “Values & Needs Exercise” I received in coach training with Coach Approach. Email me to request that exercise at debbie@debbiebowie.com.

Awareness is Essential for Clutter Clearing Success

Clutter clearing is no small feat!

Clutter clearing is no small feat!

Clutter clearing. I’m sure you’re familiar with the challenges of engaging in and completing clutter clearing tasks. Who wants to do it? Why go there where there’s a good chance you’ll feel a myriad of uncomfortable feelings, like overwhelm, disgust, sadness, regret, anger, fear. Let’s face it, clutter clearing is a challenging process at best, and an overwhelming nightmare at worst. Initiating and sustaining action to completion are no small feat!

But, you may not be conscious that engaging in action and completing clutter clearing tasks are not possible without sufficient awareness. You may be aware of the clutter pockets in your environment that need excavating, but how aware are you of what it takes to motivate yourself to take action to tackle a problem area? What’s your best time to tackle a clearing challenge, the time of day when your brain is best able to make decisions? Where is the best place to start to ensure optimal clearing? Where are the land-mines in the mix of your stuff, those things that hold energies and stir feelings that could shut you down? And, when you run into them, what’s the best way to address them to prevent fleeing the scene?

Much of this awareness can come from paying attention to what happens when you begin to clear clutter. You may notice that mornings are your best time or that you clear best with support from a family member or friend. You may notice that you always quit when you start with paper or you encounter an item associated with your childhood. But, do you take that awareness and change focus, adjust what you’re doing and continue clearing? Unfortunately what I find is that people tend to run from uncomfortable feelings of any kind. They quit and move onto something else. They don’t take the time to pause and reflect on what happened and consider other options to quitting. In so doing, they miss a valuable opportunity to generate awareness and learn the valuable lessons that could be gained from their unpleasant experience.

Another way to generate awareness is to work with a coach. Coaching is a co-created partnership with a supportive trained coach in an awareness/learning/action process. Coaching provides the time to pause and reflect on challenges like procrastination and avoidance while clutter clearing.

With the support of a coach you can become more aware of what tends to shut you down and what works for you to initiate and sustain action to completion. Obstacles that impede your progress can be identified and strategies for addressing them generated. Coaching is an opportunity to step back and create the awareness needed to successfully accomplish your clutter clearing goals.

Lack of Awareness Affects Productivity, Creates Stuckness

One reason we get stuck and fail to make positive progress toward our goals is because it’s so easy to get off track and be totally unconscious of the fact that we jumped the rails. For example, I recently was working effectively and efficiently in my office when I encountered a computer problem. Because I hate to have anything not working properly, I began trying to solve the problem. You know how that goes. It’s like going down a rabbit hole–many twists and turns, much time wasted, and still no resolution.

At some point along the way it hit me that I was wasting valuable time and not making progress on tasks I wanted to get done that day. When I weighed my options I realized solving that problem at that moment was a choice, not an imperative. With that hit of awareness I was able to change course and get back to work. Had I remained unconscious about the time I was wasting, as many people do, especially people with ADD/ADHD, I could have lost the opportunity to get an enormous amount of important work done.

If you are prone to such side trips, getting caught up in things that are not top priority, becoming aware of when you are off track and aware of the ways you can be lured off track is imperative if you want to be productive. I got back on track because I have a good time sense and a strong drive to accomplish my goals. My sense that time was slipping away as I worked to fix the computer problem got my attention and made it possible for me to pause long enough to become aware of the choice I had regarding the focus of my efforts.

Another way to create the opportunity for awareness is to set an alarm on your phone to go off every 20 to 30 minutes. When the alarm sounds, consider it a cue to pause and notice whether or not you are doing priority work. If you’re off track you can then shift back to work that will make it possible for you to reach your goals.

A lack of awareness that you are drifting away from priority work leads to being stalled in your efforts to move forward and eventually to being stuck. You choose. Stalled and stuck or aware and moving toward your goals!

A great way to develop awareness of priorities, of what derails your efforts to be productive, and ways to keep yourself on track and moving forward is to work in partnership with a coach. Developing awareness is the first step in the coaching process and is the first step to better time management.

To learn more about coaching, email me to schedule a 30 minute free consultation to explore the possibility of coaching as a way to get unstuck and improve time management and productivity.

Being Organized: What It Takes to Find What You Need When You Need It

Set Up Homes for Everything!

The other day I was thinking about what it takes to be able to find what you need when you need it. Yes, we professional organizers are a strange lot, daydreaming about what it takes to find things! But, alas, that’s the way my brain works!

The three keys to being able to find things on a regular basis are setup, habit and memory.

Setup–The best way to ensure that you will be able to find things is to create a “home” for everything. A home is the place where an item is stored so you can find it when you need it. Homes don’t just magically present themselves. They have to be set up. Setup takes time and careful thought to determine the best home for each item you own so you’ll know where to go to retrieve it when you need it. You will need to set up all the storage areas in your home, your car, your purse, your garage, your shed, even your wallet. When you create homes for everything, you’ll be creating an initial order. In so doing, you will be laying the groundwork for being able to find what you need when you need it. Setup is an initial action that will likely need evaluation and adjustments over time.

Habit–Having a home for everything is great, but if items aren’t returned to their homes after use, all your work to establish homes will quickly melt down into a mess. The essential habit you need to ensure you’ll be able to find what you need when you need it is to routinely return things to their homes after use. Retrieve things. Put them back. Retrieve things. Put them back. The repetition of putting things away will help you remember where everything is located in your space.

Memory–To be able to find things, you must remember how you set up your space. You must remember the homes you designated for each item. That is no small feat! Homes and offices are filled with thousands of items. If your memory isn’t the greatest, being able to find things will be a challenge. One way to build the necessary neural pathways to be able to remember where things live in your space is to work very hard on the habit of retrieving things and putting them away. If you are conscientious about putting things away immediately after use, that repetitive action will help create the neural pathways for remembering the homes of your things.

Setup, habit and memory. Where do you get hung up in this process of finding what you need when you need it? Do you struggle with setup, either because you have no clue how to do it or because you have difficulty making time for setup? Is your “put things away” habit weak? Or, is your memory your weak point? Perhaps you set up your space nicely but struggle with the habit of putting things away. If losing things is a constant challenge for you, identify where you struggle–with setup, habit or memory, and take steps to address your problem.

If you are at a loss for what to do to make real progress to improve the odds of finding things on a regular basis, remember that help is available from both coaches and professional organizers. Being able to find things on a regular basis is a great way to lower stress and feel empowered. It’s worth the investment of your time and money to improve the conditions for finding what you need when you need it!

© 2012 Clutter Clearing Community | Debbie Bowie

“Author, Organizing Expert and Feng Shui Practitioner, Debbie Bowie, is a leading authority on clutter clearing to attract more of what you want in life. If you’re ready to clear clutter and move your life forward, get your FREE TIP SHEET, “Feng Shui Tips for Instant Success” at http://www.clutterclearingcommunity.com.