Tag Archives: productivity

Priorities Direct Effective Time Management

It is an illusion to think that you can actually manage time. You are given 24 hours in a day. Period. You can’t manage time. You can only manage yourself and how you use your time.

Effective time management occurs when you organize yourself so that you spend your time doing those tasks that are in alignment with what matters most to you. Surviving financially, being successful in a job or career, sustaining a good marriage, doing a good job raising your children, getting a good education, spending time with family and friends, assisting and supporting family in times of need, and expressing your creativity are some of the kinds of things that often matter to people. But, we are all different. What matters to you is unique to you.

Do you know what matters most to you? Your priorities? Until you do, you will be a ship without a rudder on a sea of time. Time keeps passing even if you are drifting through it with no clarity about your course and possible destinations. It is easy to let time slip away or to spend time on activities that aren’t important when you aren’t clear about the best use of your time in service of your goals and desires.

When you are aware of what matters most, you are prepared to plan your time to include necessary actions in service of what is important to you, what makes your boat float or what keeps you afloat and is in alignment with your values, goals, hopes and dreams.

Take a moment to jot down the “big rocks”, those things that are most important to you. If you have difficulty identifying what they are, have a conversation with someone who knows you well who can share their observations about what really matters to you. Or, hire a coach to partner with you to identify your values and the parts of your life that are worthy of an investment of your time.

Coaching is an effective process for identifying your priorities and learning how to organize your time so that your actions are in alignment with your priorities. Schedule a free 30-60 minute Back on Track phone coaching session with me to explore your priorities and the opportunities to learn effective time management.

Change Your Thoughts, Stop Procrastinating!

Victory over procrastination is possible. I speak from recent experience. This past weekend the weather was warm enough to work outside. It was a perfect time to offer to help my neighbor prune a grape vine that was threatening to engulf his forsythia. Why would I want to do that? The forsythia bush is in my direct line of sight from my kitchen window. Watching that vine overtake that lovely forsythia was very disturbing to me, bad feng shui! I didn’t want to face another season of observing the forsythia succumb to an out-of-control weed.

When I returned from doing errands and considered what to do next, I contemplated the task of tearing out the grape vine. Immediately my brain began to formulate excuses for not doing it:

  • It would be boring.
  • It would be overwhelming.
  • I would get dirty.
  • I could encounter poison ivy.
  • I hate making phone calls (I needed to call my neighbor).

As I processed each thought I noted that my energy and enthusiasm for tackling the task diminished. Fortunately I recognized the familiar voice of the way I procrastinate and chose to stop those thoughts mid-stream. In their place I thought of reasons why it was important that I offer to help my neighbor evict the grapevines that day:

  • The branches and vines are completely visible now before new growth appears. In a few weeks the job will be much harder to do, much easier to procrastinate doing, and would probably not get done.
  • The weather is warm for February (60’s F). Not too cold and not too hot.
  • My house cleaner is in my house, so it is not completely comfortable to be there.
  • I enjoy yard work and always feel better physically after doing it.

It was the perfect time to go to battle with the grapevines! My hibernating winter self wanted to resist the call to go outside and do the task. However, weighing my excuses against the importance of getting the job done right away, because it would be easier to do and weather conditions were ideal, I picked up the phone. As the phone rang I wondered if  my neighbor would be up for the chore. He could decline my offer and that would be that. He answered, and after a pause (probably doing battle with his own reluctance to leave the comfort of his arm chair), agreed to accept my help.

The result: the task took much less time to do than I thought it would, especially with two of us doing it; we cut out the offending vine that I now know came from just a single root; I cut out and put an herbicide on the poison ivy I found; I now know where the poison ivy vines originate, so I know where to continue to apply herbicide; I cut back the forsythia that had spread into my garden; I enjoyed and was energized by the process of rescuing the forsythia and working outside, and, I now love the view from my kitchen.

What thoughts block you from taking action on important tasks? Change them and take action!

Task Inflation Procrastination

I’m writing a speech on procrastination. I procrastinate. We all do to15873280_10208316588022928_397351164930254615_n varying degrees. As I’ve watched myself, my husband, and my clients procrastinate, I’ve learned that there are different reasons for procrastination. I thought I’d heard them all until today when a coaching client spoke of what was keeping her from completing a task that was not difficult or even time consuming to do.

I’ve known for some time that my ADHD clients can paralyze themselves by looking at the whole task to be done instead of focusing on the next step to take in the completion of a task. I call it the “looking at the forest instead of the trees” problem. It happens when the enormity of a task shuts down mental processes. It’s a very common cause for procrastination. It can be addressed by breaking a task into a series of smaller steps (eat an elephant one bite at a time) and taking one step at a time. If you do that you can avoid shutting down your brain and keep making progress. 

What I hadn’t heard before was procrastination caused by viewing a task as too overwhelming because you’ve added a much larger task onto a smaller task. In this case my client needed to complete putting Christmas decorations away in order to reclaim her dining room. That task would normally have taken 30-45 minutes to complete if she simply put things the decorations where they belong.

However, in my client’s mind the “Christmas decoration task” became connected to the “organize the garage” task. She saw putting the Christmas decorations away as an opportunity to also tackle organizing her garage since that’s where the decorations are stored. Those two tasks were then glued together in her thinking.

In her mind the task was no longer a 30-45 minute, fairly simple task. It had become a time-consuming, complicated task that could take hours and perhaps several days to complete alone.  Putting the Christmas decorations away was just a minor part of that big task.

Because putting the Christmas decorations away had ballooned into a garage reorganization project, it became so big that the “looking at the forest” problem kicked in and led to procrastination. What is exciting about the coaching process is that we had the opportunity to unearth the block that kept my client from completing the task.

As we talked and explored her reluctance to finish putting Christmas decorations away, she became aware that she was thinking of the Christmas decoration cleanup as part of the much larger garage organizing task. That awareness helped her realize that her expectation that she reorganize the whole garage at the same time that she put away Christmas decorations was keeping her stuck. She was then able to consider ways to disconnect the garage reorganization project from the Christmas cleanup so she could finally be done with Christmas.

Look at some of the tasks you are avoiding. Are you stuck because you’ve made a simple task into a much more complicated project in your mind? If so, you too have the option to change your mind to get unstuck and moving.

If procrastination is a recurring problem for you, coaching is a great way to make changes necessary to reduce procrastination. I offer a free 30-60 minute Back On Track phone coaching consultation for anyone who wants to experience coaching first hand and explore options for addressing challenges that interfere with their productivity. Start your New Year on the right track! Schedule a free coaching consultation now! 

Get Unstuck: Exercise Works!

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Yoga helped me get unstuck!

I’ve been stuck in grief and low-grade depression since the death of my mother in July. It’s been very hard to muster the enthusiasm needed to promote my business. I knew that losing Mom after 5 years of coordinating her care as Alzheimer’s claimed her mind would derail me. But, I thought after a month or two I would be back on track. Not so. Add in normal fall seasonal affective disorder, and I have been moving at a glacial pace.

For many years I have walked regularly and done sit ups, push ups, and leg lifts at night before going to bed — minimal exercise. In an attempt to build strength and energy, Bob and I joined American Family Fitness, a gym near our home, 

Going to a gym has never been easy for my introverted self. But this time I approached the challenge with a new perspective. Instead of thinking of the gym as a place where I would demonstrate how out of shape I am and how much better others are, I viewed it as a place to reclaim my strength, my center, my confidence and feelings of well-being.

I started with a yoga class and an easy workout on machines. As expected, I was wobbly during yoga poses and my muscles screamed and let me know I had been neglecting them. I got breathless on the treadmill. However, almost immediately I felt better. It was as if some vital life force in me began moving again. Optimism returned. Enthusiasm returned. And, with those good feelings came a desire to write this blog, to get to work.

Keys to making this gym experience different than others:

  • I went in with no expectations for a high level of performance.
  • I viewed going to the gym as self-care and an activity to help me feel better.
  • I took relatively easy, meditative classes and started slow on the machines instead of pushing myself in high intensity classes and workouts.
  • I chose the kinds of exercise I like to do.
  • I viewed just showing up at the gym as a success.

The payoff: I’m moving again, feeling better, and being more productive!

It’s Normal to Be Unproductive When Grieving

My mother died last week after at least seven years of gradual decline due to20160507_120423-1 strokes, vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s. Mom and I had always been very close, more like sisters than mother and daughter. Her death created a big void in my life. For the last 4 1/2 years I had been the coordinator of her care, a responsibility that was very heavy both emotionally and physically, and was as consuming as a full time job. When she died I lost that job, and I lost my closest connection with a family member. I felt numb, lost, unfocused and terribly sad.

Normally I am very productive. I value getting things done and making the most of my time. For years I had been running as fast as I could to keep up with home, work, and caregiving responsibilities for Mom and my disabled brother, Mark. When she died everything stopped except for taking steps to clear her apartment and plan her memorial celebration. Even the simplest of tasks too, so much energy.

Of particular concern was the fact that I had no energy to work on my business. Since I’m self-employed as a professional organizer, speaker and coach, I must work to be paid. After Mom’s death my grief flattened me, kept me stuck in slow motion, and unable to muster any interest and enthusiasm for picking up the reins of my business.

Fortunately I know a lot about the grief process and knew that he kind of grief I am describing is normal. Being productive immediately after such a big loss was not even remotely possible and was not a fair expectation. There are times when it is not realistic to expect yourself to jump back into action. This is one of those times.

Rather than beat myself up or worry myself to death about my malaise and its effect on my business, I chose to acknowledge my grief and give myself some breathing room until my energy and motivation return. Although that is not my normal way of operating, and I have twitched a bit about my slower pace, I know that to do anything else would be terribly disrespectful at this time.

Rushing right back into action would delay grieving. The underlying grief would then make it impossible to access my best self, focus and do my best work. By allowing myself to move through my grief at my own pace, I am making it more likely that I will be able to return to my former level of productivity.

Past Trauma Can Block Current Productivity

You need to do a task. If you do the task, you will reduce your anxiety. You will be able flower-1030408_640to get back on track. Not doing the task is keeping you stuck. You don’t understand why you can’t take action. What is blocking your initiative?

Does this sound familiar? People with ADHD get stuck in this mental spin all the time because they have executive function deficits that manifest as problems with initiating action. But, you can have this type of problem even if you don’t have ADHD.

Past traumas held in our unconscious mind can block productivity. If you had a difficult experience in your past, one that produced a strong emotional reaction like terror, fear, shame, or overwhelm, the unconscious memory of it can still be affecting you today.

My client, “Ellen,” was freaked out about how much money she had spent on renovations on her new home. A call to her banker would have provided her information she needed to accurately assess where she stood financially and be equipped to make good decisions going forward. She knew she needed to call her banker, but just could not make herself pick up the phone.

At first I thought perhaps she was avoiding the call because of fear of finding out that she was in big trouble financially. However, when we explored the issue in coaching, our conversation led us back to her childhood where she had experienced extreme feelings of hopelessness, embarrassment, fear and shame in school whenever she had to deal with numbers.

Her past experience with struggle and failure with math had caused her to avoid proactively dealing with her finances as an adult. Because she felt flawed and inadequate when dealing with numbers as a child, she avoided circumstances and tasks that could cause similar feelings. Her avoidance of the phone call was resistance to exposing herself to an experience that could cause all those uncomfortable feelings to resurface.

Once we uncovered the roots of her resistance, Ellen got off the phone and called the bank. Seeing the block, acknowledging it and its origins removed its emotional hold on her.

If you are stuck and can’t take action, check your past. Is the task you are trying to do similar to something you were unsuccessful at doing earlier in your life? Does it take you back to a difficult time in your life or a time when you felt inadequate, experienced failure, were shamed by others or felt alone and helpless? Identify the time. Acknowledge the source of your block. Replay the experience and remind yourself that you are older now with many more resources and sources of support available to you. Then, take action.

Control Your Focus, Be More Productive!

“Don’t look back. That’s not where you are going.” Those are the wise words of Shirley T.IMG_3564 Burke, motivational speaker and my good friend. She is referring to looking back at your past. I completely agree with that statement when trying to move ahead in life. However, when I was shoveling snow yesterday, looking back actually helped me keep going.

Shoveling snow is one of those really boring, exhausting tasks that can be overwhelming. If I looked forward I felt overwhelmed by how much there was to do. But, if I looked back I could see and celebrate the progress that I had made. I got through the shoveling by glancing forward for a few seconds every now and then to keep my eye on my goal. Most of my time was spent with my head town shoveling and looking back at my progress. The success I’d already achieved motivated me to keep going.

The same strategy can be used for any big task you must do.

  • Set your sights on your goal.
  • Manage your overwhelm and negative thoughts like, “I’ll never get this done,” or “It’s just too much,” by only occasionally glancing at the distance to the finish line.
  • Keep your head down and work.
  • Frequently look back to notice how much you have gotten done.
  • Celebrate your success and keep moving forward.

You too can strategically look back to manage overwhelm and motivate yourself to move forward on any task, even boring tasks like shoveling snow.

Clear Travel Clutter for Peace and Productivity

We just came back from a wonderful week of vacation in Hilton Head, South Carolina. As44883952_s always, we came home with a car full of stuff to be unpacked and put away, and we were greeted by a mountain of mail on the counter. We had spent 9.5 hours on the road, because we had to dodge flooded areas in South Carolina. Needless to say we were both very tired. We could have just brought everything inside, plopped down on the sofa telling ourselves we would get to it the next day. But, I chose not to do that.

I am one of those strange people who is really uncomfortable with disorder. Packed suitcases, bags, and coolers feel like clutter to me. I just cannot relax when they are strewn around my space. In their presence I feel like I am still traveling, like I am not really home yet.

So, I resisted the urge to crash in front of the TV. I did that by reminding myself how wonderful it would feel to have the house in order again. I unpacked everything, including the groceries we’d picked up on the way home. I started a wash. I went through the mail. By the time I’d finished I had re-established order and felt good knowing what bills I had to pay and other personal business I would need to attend to at a later date. It took me 1.5 hours to get everything done. Then I put my feet up, and there was nothing niggling at me.

Clutter niggles. It talks to you and makes it hard to fully relax. Having suitcases that are unpacked keep you traveling, make it impossible to be fully home. You may be crashed on the sofa, but part of your nervous system is aware that something is incomplete, something needs to be done.

With my house restored to order I was able to relax on the sofa, get a good night’s sleep, and get up the next day and get right to work. There were no clutter obstacles. There was the peace of having my home and life in order, of being home. It was a great launching pad for leaping back into work that needed to be done.

If your habit is to postpone unpacking, try unpacking as soon as you get home. Notice how long it takes. Notice how you feel when you are done. Notice your process of getting back into your life. A few minutes of doing something you’d rather resist (unpacking) can yield a much easier and more productive transition from traveling to real life.

Increase Productivity — Stop Answering the Phone

Want to get more done? Stop answering the phone every time it rings. I watch clients

Calls eat time!

Calls eat time!

when the phone rings during our clutter clearing sessions. Will they automatically answer it? Will they ignore it? Or, will they check the caller ID to see who is calling so they can decide whether it is essential to answer the call? After all, they are paying for my time.

The clients in the last two categories tend to be most productive. Why? Because every time you stop to take a call you are disengaging from what you are doing. The call takes time away from what you had intended to do, and it will take time, energy and focus to re-engage in what you were doing. Phone calls eat time!

Those who do take all calls they receive are often unconscious that by taking calls they are reducing their productivity. They are acting out of a habit of reacting to whatever stimulus comes along. In some cases they justify taking the calls because trying to get people on the phone again is difficult.

Those who either don’t answer their phone automatically or who screen their calls view answering the phone as a choice, not an imperative. They have greater awareness that interruptions always reduce productivity. They choose whether to allow the phone to interrupt what they are doing or not.

Make answering the phone a choice not an imperative!

ADHD Action Strategy: Task Switching

People with ADHD have difficulty engaging in action and sustaining action to a point of completion. With awareness that ADHD directly affects their ability to be productive, they can learn strategies that work well with their special brains. I love sharing the strategies that they discover on their journey to manage their ADHD.

I recently received an email from a client with inattentive ADHD and autism who was very excited to have made good progress clearing clutter. This client has typical ADHD challenges with sustaining focus and completing tasks. In that email he shared the “Task Switching” strategy with me, a strategy that has helped him keep going despite his ADHD challenges. He gave me permission to share his description of the strategy.

“I’ve mostly discovered task switching when I’ve been unable to just step away from work entirely.  When I was on deadline for comics, twice each week, for 5 years, for the VCU student newspaper, I learned to switch from drawing with a pencil to inking the words, to inking the lines, to shading, to bordering, and back around, when possible.

On my research assistant job. . . , I would switch from researching one state to researching another, or researching on another project in progress, or (with kind permission and encouragement from my Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services job coach) about 5 minutes with a game.

At home, I can switch from walking around to sitting, from papers to dishes, from one room to another, or from clutter to a computer game.”

About a recent success he wrote. . . “I helped myself along by listening to a comedy podcast, then watching some extra features for “Doctor Who” Season 8 [of the 21st century reboot], and also playing a computer game, for a few minutes at a time, now and then.”

Task switching is a great way to keep moving even if your attention wanes for your current focus. It is a way to work with your ADHD brain that is wired to seek stimulation to function effectively. The switching creates the stimulation.

There are also risks to the task switching method. One risk is that the ADHD brain can get stuck (hyperfocusing) on tasks that are particularly stimulating, new, fun and/or exciting. Because awareness is also an ADHD challenge, you might get stuck hyperfocusing and not even be aware that you’re stuck and eating up time doing a particular activity.

Another risk of task switching is that you could lose awareness of the important task(s) you are trying to get done due to ADHD deficits in working memory (holding in memory one task while working on another).

The above challenges, however, could be addressed with a timer to break any hyperfocus and a written note with the important task(s) to be done located beside the timer. When the timer goes off, you are cued to pause, refocus and shift back to anHand check mark the list important task.

Do you already task switch to get things done with your ADHD brain? If so, let me know how it works for you. If not, give it a try. Working with your ADHD brain’s normal tendencies is easier on your brain, prevents discouragement when non-ADHD productivity strategies don’t work, and can lead to greater productivity and success.

Home Office: The Most Neglected Room in the House

When you look at your home office, do you cringe?

A home office that is guarantee to scare you off!

A home office that is guaranteed to scare you off!

Many people do! Why is that? I think  there are two main reasons that home offices become places to avoid: they often hold  functions that most people want to avoid, like bill paying, financial management and paper repository; and they are often unattractively appointed and cluttered. 

No matter how much money you make, you probably still have some discomfort when it comes to paying bills and managing your finances. And, were you ever taught how to handle paper? Not likely! So, quite possibly it’s an area associated with money anxiety and paper incompetence. Doesn’t that just make you so excited about spending time there doing boring tasks like paying bills and filing? Heck no!

Unless you use your home office for a home-based business that generates enough income to pay for high quality office furniture, most home offices are furnished with furniture leftovers doubling as office furniture; folding tables and cheap office furniture from office supply chain stores. You end of up with a hodge podge of furnishings that are difficult to make look attractive. And wall color, if funds are tight, you’ll hold off on painting the home office a pleasant color. Attractive art in the home office? Why bother! After all, nobody sees it but family members, and you don’t even spend that much time there! 

Add to that the fact that home offices often are multi-purpose rooms that are also used as guest and craft rooms. When rooms have more than one purpose, it’s easy for their essential functions to become blurred. They eventually end up as dumping grounds for things you don’t know what to do with, things you don’t want to take the time to move up to the attic, and things you need to clear from other rooms when company is coming.

If by now you’re feeling sorry for your home office, good! Because it’s the brain of the house, the home of crucial functions like financial management, and should be treated with more respect. If I told you the condition of your home office could be affecting both your current finances and your financial future, would you treat it with more respect? If I told you that disorder in that room creates a mental fogginess that could affect all decision-making and productivity, would that motivate you to create a new order and spend some time and money making it an attractive place where you enjoy doing essential tasks like bill paying? I hope so. Because what it’s true.

This is my home office. It's look may not appeal to you, but compare how it feels to the photo above. In which office would you be most able to get something done?

This is my home office. It’s look may not appeal to you, but compare how it feels to the photo above. In which office would you be most able to get something done?

If you decided to make your home office a personal paradise, a place where you would enjoy spending time, what would it look like? Because the functions of a home office cause discomfort and anxiety, you really need to create a lovely, comfortable space that will seduce you into crossing the threshold to do dreaded tasks like filing and bill paying. Have fun with it! The time and expense are well worth 

ADHD? Clutter Challenges? A Medication Success Story

Most of my clients have ADHD, commonly referred to as Attention Deficit Disorder with or

ADHD can look like this. Want something different? Try medication!

ADHD can look like this. Want something different? Try medication!

without a hyperactive component. Some have been diagnosed with the disorder. Others have considered the possibility that they have it but have never been tested, and still others have struggled with the challenges of ADHD symptoms for years (organization, clutter, time management, decision-making, prioritization, and productivity challenges), but had no clue that ADHD could be the reason for their on-going struggles.

When I bring ADHD up as a possible cause for on-going organizing and productivity challenges clients often ask me what can be done about it. I tell them that medication, to regulate brain chemistry, and coaching, to learn to manage their ADHD symptoms, are the two primary ways to deal with ADHD. Many clients immediately bat away the idea of medication, saying they don’t like taking medications, that they might try other possibilities, but not medication.

Medication can make it possible for a person with ADHD to focus and initiate and complete tasks, all of which are primary ADHD challenges. It doesn’t work for everyone, but when it does it can transform a life that alternately feels out of control or stuck into one that is manageable and rewarding. Following is an example of what medication can do.

“I no longer inhabit my home. I love in it.” Those are the words of a client who for many years felt uncomfortable living in her home because of clutter challenges. What happened? What made things better? I helped her identify that she has ADHD. She went one step further and sought medication to help regulate the symptoms that affect her ability to get things done in her home.

When she and her doctor found the right dosage of medication, she sent me an email sharing her success. Excerpts follow.

“I started doing things here that have not been done in some cases for years and years. I am mainly making it look better. I am discarding a lot of stuff, and moving things around. . . In moving things around I am freeing up space, making room to breathe. I am discarding things, but I am not making decluttering or downsizing the primary thing.  Rather, getting my space better. I go wherever my interest and energy want to go and do things that way. . .

Lots more to do, but I am actually enjoying a lot of this. Every time I look into my living room, there is so much more space and it is lighter, not all stuffed in. Not finished here either, but making progress. . .

From my heart to yours, Debbie, thank you for hanging with me until I could see that I probably did/do have some ADHD and related problems. This medication has given me energy, a much improved mood, more comfortable in my skin. I’m not sure that this is the best stopping place with trying medication, but I sure am grateful for what has occurred with me so far.”

In this client’s case being able to make real progress on clutter clearing in her home wasn’t possible until she figured out that she had ADHD and got the right dose of medication to help her focus. Medication made it possible for her to engage in tasks that previously she would have avoided. 

It’s clear that my client’s quality of life has improved with the addition of medication to help manage her ADHD symptoms. How sad that many others with the ADHD challenge refuse to give themselves the opportunity to make their lives more manageable, less challenging and more rewarding.

If you have ADHD, why not explore medication? It could change your life for the better!

Task Management: Setting the Stage for Productivity

02_09_12_BizArticle_Fotolia_7316209_XS-225x300Last night I returned to my desk after a full day. I really wanted to write a blog post, but my brain was tired and I knew it was not capable of doing any creative work. So, instead I went through my email, responding to clients, friends and family members, deleting unimportant emails. I knew that a full inbox would be both anxiety provoking and distracting if I ignored it and did what I really wanted — to eat dinner and relax in front of Dancing with the Stars. 

Looking back at how I spent my time last evening, I realized that what I instinctively did was clear the decks to make writing possible today. In so doing I felt lighter when I finally turned off the light and headed for the kitchen. I was up to date. There was nothing niggling at me while I rested. And, here I am, writing.

When your brain isn’t capable of accomplishing a challenging task on your to do list, you have a choice. You can stop and escape to more pleasurable tasks that are not associated with your goals. Or, you can shift to tasks that require less brain power, but that when completed set the stage for accomplishing the more difficult task.

Clutter & Distraction

DSCN0014Clutter and distraction go hand in hand. Clutter has a very negative, noisy energy that beacons you to do something about it. I’m sure it’s pretty easy to see that the visual appearance of clutter is distracting. But, actually clutter creates layers of distraction.

Not only is clutter visually distracting, shifting a calm space to an uneasy, unsettled space, but when you look at clutter it stirs both thoughts and feelings that are also distracting. For example, picture yourself walking into a room that has pockets of clutter in it. When your eyes scan the space you might be thinking, “What a mess!” or “I can’t believe they left this room like this!” or “I’ll never get this room straight!” Those thoughts then trigger feelings like disgust, anger, hopelessness. 

Negative attracts negative. A space with pockets of negative energy in it stirs up negative thoughts and feelings. Anything negative is distracting. To get back on track you are challenged not only by the appearance of your space, but by what’s going on in your head and heart.

Where to begin? You have no direct control over your feelings. However, if you clear clutter and/or shift your thoughts to more hopeful thoughts like, “I can clear this clutter 15 minutes at a time,” or “I can clear this clutter with help from others,” negative energies will shift to positive and your feelings will follow along.

When you avoid tackling your clutter challenges, you are investing in distraction. Over time the distractions only become more negative and paralyzing. Distractions reduce productivity which in turn affects self-esteem and sense of well-being.

What will you do today to reduce clutter distractions and invest in yourself? Remember, clearing ANY clutter will reduce distractions and shift negative energies to positive.

Good Feng Shui Leads to Business Productivity and Profits

It can be difficult to explain the benefits of feng shui. However, nothing says it better than a story by a  client, who hired me to do a feng shui consultation who experienced positive results. Following is a story by Deena Kretzer,* a small business owner who used my feng shui services and offered to share her story with my readers. I’m most grateful to her for her willingness to share her experience.

before feng shui consultation

before feng shui consultation

In 2006, I had the privilege of beginning an incredible business with Arbonne International. More files and more shelves moved into my office!  I was thankful that much of my Arbonne work was done away from home, as I never liked working in the hodge podge jumble of my home office.  I was so embarrassed about how the office looked (even when picked up, it was a clutter of so many odds and ends of files, crates, shelves, tables) that I kept its doors closed, never once allowing any consultant on my team to catch a glimpse of it.  If I had to do any training with them at home, I would bring my laptop onto the kitchen table.

I am personally a 110% positive person. But, when Debbie Bowie spoke about “Using Feng Debbie Bowie at River CityShui to Make More Money” at the River City Express Network meeting in February, and talked about the effect of natural energies in your workspace on your ability to be productive and make money, about how spaces that have abundant sources of positive energy and very little negative energy attract more business and therefore more money, I realized that my workspace was anything but positive.

Debbie said that your desk should never be positioned with your back to the door, since in that position you have your back to your business, to customers, and to potential new business. She noted that we never see a doctor’s or an attorney’s desk facing the wall, having their back to the door.  Everything she said was ringing with truth. I thought, “I am a Regional VP with Arbonne and will reach the top level of the company in 2014. For all 7 years in this business, I have not only faced the wall, but have kept the doors closed so that no one would see the space I work in.”  I was determined to create a space that a National VP with Arbonne feels great about  and is happy to welcome others into.

I made an appointment for Debbie to come to my office to do a feng shui consultation. Just knowing that she was coming motivated me to remove everything that was not useful to my business.  I found another (much better) place for the piano, after spending years thinking there was nowhere else for it to go. I now face the door and have a solid wall behind my back, a position Debbie calls the Power Position. I learned that in that position my nervous system is able to relax and function really well, unlike when I had my back to the door and couldn’t see what was coming at me. That position disempowered me and kept my nervous system on high alert.

after clutter clearing, feng shui consultation and enhancements

after clutter clearing, feng shui consultation and enhancements

As I write this, I see light streaming in from not only my office windows, but also the hall glass panels at the front door and the dining room windows.  My double doors stay wide open, and I absolutely love being in this room that at last reflects who I am on the inside and my vision and my commitment to excellence in my work and service to my team. 

It’s a pleasure to walk in this room to begin my work day.  Instead of seeing that jumble of crates, files, shelves and an endless “to do” list produced by my surroundings, I walk in smiling (after 2 months, it’s still brand new every morning!) and can immediately give my focus and energy to my work – to helping my clients and my team.  After all these years of keeping everyone out of my office, I now feel great about where I am and about being able to welcome anyone into my space.

I am so grateful for Debbie and cannot recommend her highly enough! My only regret is that I forgot to take before and after photos.” (the first photo above was taken by Debbie when she did her consultation, when Deena was mid-way through the clearing process)!

Thanks, Deena! As you can see, letting go of clutter and repositioning furniture so that you are empowered and have a lovely view not only leads to spending more time in your office, it lifts your spirits and results in improved productivity and increased revenues. Can you afford to endure an office that is not “good feng shui?”

*Deena gave me permission to use her name and share her contact information. If you want information about Arbonne or about her feng shui consultation experience, she can be reached at 804-878-8710 or deenakr812@gmail.com.

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.

Ground Yourself for Greater Productivity

DSCN0461In our rush, rush world that seems to run on urgency, it’s very easy to get ungrounded, to lose your focus, and in turn get stuck or spin in activity without awareness or purpose. In order to be productive you must be grounded in who you are and your current purpose.

When you are grounded you feel good, capable and equipped to handle whatever comes at you during your day. You are connected to yourself and a universal source of energy. You have confidence, you can make decisions and work effectively. When I’m grounded I do my best coaching, my best writing, my best speaking and my best work with hands-on clients. I operate from a firm foundation of my self-worth, trust in my abilities, and faith that things will work out for the best.

Many things can cause you to become ungrounded. Upon reflection of my episodes of becoming ungrounded, I’ve noticed that I can easily get knocked off center and disconnect from myself when I make mistakes, when I’m in transition (e.g. the transition from hands-on organizer to organizer coach who also does hands-on organizing), when I receive criticism or perceive judgement from others, when I’m fatigued, when I am in new situations, and when I’m not practicing good self-care (eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep).

When I’m ungrounded I feel anxious and fears plague me. My self-confidence is wobbly. I get breathless. I have difficulty focusing and identifying priorities for action. And, I sometimes get depressed. Being ungrounded is no fun!

Once I learned how to recognize when I am ungrounded I began to seek ways to reground myself. Following is a list of some of the ways I get back to center:

  • clearing clutter,
  • getting organized,
  • listening to music I love,
  • reading for information and inspiration,
  • making my space feel better by adding flowers and rearranging art,
  • spending time in nature,
  • weeding (having my hands in the earth),
  • walking my dogs,
  • participating in community with others who have similar challenges,
  • connecting with others who care about me,
  • seeking professional support (in networking, from colleagues, from consultants), and
  • getting coached (yes, coaches get coached too!).

Once I’m grounded again, I’m off and running! I’m focused. I have hope. I have clear intentions. I’m reconnected to myself and I’m productive.

Some people find themselves perpetually in a state of being ungrounded and struggling to be productive. If this describes you, it’s quite possible that you have a brain-based challenge that makes getting and staying grounded difficult (e.g. depression, anxiety disorders, ADD/ADHD). A consultation with a coach or therapist is the best way to determine if your productivity challenges are brain-based and would benefit from coaching or treatment by a therapist. If you suspect you may have a brain-based condition, take the first step by contacting me for a free 30 minute consultation to discuss that possibility.  Consider it necessary self-care to get grounded and be productive.

What knocks you off your center? When you are having difficulty being productive, you may be ungrounded. Notice it. Don’t judge it. Look at your current state with curiosity to identify the cause or causes of being ungrounded. Then find ways to reconnect with yourself, the positive essence of who you are and what really matters in your life. Get grounded and get productive.

Identifying ADD, A Key to Self-Acceptance and Improving Productivity

Screen Shot 2012-01-25 at 12.20.50 PMSince I’ve begun coaching I’ve had the opportunity to help two of my clients identify that their long-term challenges with organization, productivity and managing time are the result of ADD (attention deficit disorder). ADD is a neurobiological disorder that affects a person’s ability to get and stay organized, get things done in a timely fashion, and accomplish their goals. Both women were so grateful to learn that there actually is an explanation for behaviors that have troubled them all their lives. After years of thinking that they were lazy, slackers, underperforming or somehow lacking in moral character, they now have an answer that explains decades of performance challenge. 

What was most exciting for me to observe in both clients is that following the tears and relief that came with knowing there’s a reason they can’t do some things well, were changes in behavior that are already bearing fruit. One client, armed with information about her diagnosis, immediately began seeking strategies to help manage her symptoms. She also began seeking support in areas where she now knows she will always struggle due to the reality of ADD. The other finds that it is easier to be gentle with herself when she is not performing to the level she thinks she should. Instead of beating herself up for not getting things done, she reminds herself of her diagnosis and turns to strategies and support that help her take action. 

Have you ever wondered if you have ADD? Following are the behaviors I noticed in the women mentioned above, symptoms of ADD:

  • have difficulty getting started on tasks, particularly ones that are complex, boring, or that seem overwhelming,
  • use urgency as a motivator to take action,
  • get distracted easily
  • get bored easily,
  • get overwhelmed easily and then paralyzed, unable to take action,
  • have difficulty sustaining action because they have difficulty staying focused,
  • have difficulty completing tasks,
  • have many balls in the air,
  • take on too many commitments because they aren’t aware of what they’ve committed to and the time it will take to do things,
  • have challenges managing time, usually having too much to do and too little time,
  • waste time being off course seeking stimulation or being frozen by feelings of overwhelm,
  • have great difficulty getting and staying organized, particularly with paper.

If you identify with many of these descriptors, you may have ADD. ADD is a disorder that can’t be cured, but it can be managed with the help of medication and effective strategies for handling problem behaviors and changing ineffective habits. Coaching is a process that works well for people with ADD because it provides support and the opportunity to build on strengths to identify strategies that work to address ADD challenges.

If you think you may have ADD, contact me at 804-730-4991 or at debbie@debbiebowie.com to set up free 30 minute phone consultation to talk about that possibility. Identifying the cause of your productivity and organizing challenges could be the first step to making sense of your life path and creating greater self-acceptance and productivity.

Moving Beyond Perfectionism

Pathway in Sunflower cultivationPerfectionism is a cognitive/emotional process held in place by habit and strong emotions. It is based on faulty beliefs like “perfect will give me what I want.” Habits, feelings and beliefs are difficult to change. Therefore, though the costs of perfectionism are high, self-esteem challenges, physical challenges, lowered productivity and performance, no time for yourself to enjoy life, and relationship difficulties, you cannot just make a decision not be a perfectionist and change overnight.

But, with awareness of how your perfectionism shows up for you, you can take steps that will help you ease up on yourself and learn to accept less than perfect.

  1. View your imperfections/mistakes and the imperfections of others from a detached perspective. Notice them. Don’t judge them. Perfectionism and making mistakes are not character flaws. Your perfectionism is with you because you think it is important to your well-being and perhaps your survival.
  2. Befriend your perfectionism. Be curious about it and identify the ways that perfectionism shows up for you. Notice when you’re stuck, being unproductive or taking too long with a task for the value of the task. Notice when you are thinking that something just isn’t right and you’re internally twitching about it. Also, notice when you are beating yourself up for a mistake or job that was less than perfectly done. Being critical of others is another sign that your perfectionism is running the show.
  3. Be curious about how perfectionism has served you. Bringing to light how you have benefitted from aiming for perfect and understanding the origin of your perfectionism and what it made possible could make it easier to shift away from the rigidity of perfectionism. Aiming for perfect could have been a useful method for managing anxiety because you were shy or insecure. Presenting perfect may have been a way that you stayed out of hot water at home. We tend to cling to strategies that have worked for us. Perfectionism can work up to a point — pushing you to excel, to manage the impressions of others about your worth. It can give you the illusion of control. For example, if you and what you do are perfect, then you will be above reproach.
  4. Re-aim for good, excellent or complete, not perfect. Shooting for perfect results in you shooting down your own self-worth or that of another. Excellent is possible. Perfect is an illusion. Those who strive for excellence can take mistakes (imperfections) as incentive to work harder. Unhealthy perfectionists consider their mistakes a sign of personal defects. Making excellent the new perfect will allow you ease up, take action, complete actions and be gentler with yourself.
  5. Adopt a new goal. Perfect is a goal, that unattainable result that never happens. Holding out for perfect can have a profound impact on productivity. For example, you don’t complete tasks because you are afraid of not measuring up, because you don’t have the time to do them perfectly, or you want them done just so.  Make completion your new goal. Done is better than perfect!
  6. Adopt a new thought. Since perfectionism is a cognitive/emotional process, using a cognitive strategy can be very effective in challenging perfectionism. You have no direct control over the strong emotions that may have created and now sustain your perfectionism. But, you do have control over your thoughts and actions. Changing thoughts can change feelings. So, adding a new thought not only will address the cognitive challenges of perfectionism, but can help you manage uncomfortable emotions like anxiety and fear that keep perfectionism in place. Make sure it’s a thought that resonates with you. Following are some possibilities: progress not perfection; done is better than perfect; mistakes are learning opportunities; perfect is impossible, excellence is the new perfect; human is better than perfect. 
  7. Notice and silence negative self-talk. What are those things you automatically say to yourself when you don’t measure up to your idea of what is acceptable in any arena? Your intention may be good, perhaps to motivate yourself to work harder. But, negative self-talk always hurts self-esteem and your sense of your own value and worth. You couldn’t stop criticism from well-meaning or perhaps not so well-meaning parents, teachers, and other family members when you were young, however, you can silence your own negative thoughts about yourself. First notice them showing up. Then silence them by saying to yourself, “Thanks for sharing, but I don’t need your help.” Or, counter the negative self-talk by making the distinction between who you are and what you do. You could say, “Even if I make mistakes, I am still OK.”
  8. Laugh at your mistakes. You know when you’ve screwed up. You’re probably hypersensitive about that. So, why not use that automatic awareness for good. When you’ve made a mistake, instead of pulling out the bat and beating yourself up or looking for someone else to beat up, notice the mistake and laugh at yourself. Laughing is completely counter to the critical voice that tends to rise up when people perceive imperfection. Once you shift your energy from the intensity of criticism to the lightness of laughter, you then can look for the learning opportunity that is available.
  9. Learn from your mistakes. When you accept mistakes and imperfections from a lighter perspective, it is then possible to view them as information and an opportunity for learning. Sometimes imperfect gives us important information that can be missed if you’re busy berating yourself.  It may signal a change of heart, a lack of commitment, a need not being met, a lack of commitment, an oversight, or a need for change.
  10. Deliberately be imperfect in some areas of your life. Practice being imperfect in a part of your life where you are less likely to experience negative consequences. That way you can experience the benefit of lightening up and adopting a new way of being without a lot of risk. I practice being imperfect in my yard. Part of that is practical because there is no way I can keep up with all the weeding. And, part of it is me letting go and accepting that good really is enough.

Living with the constant striving for perfect is exhausting, a threat to your physical health, your relationships, your sense of self-worth and peace of mind. Releasing perfectionism is possible, but will take time, commitment and mindfulness.

What’s possible if you aim for done instead of perfect?

The Costs of Perfectionism

Single Word: PerfectionPerfectionism may sound like a good thing. What could be better than aiming high, going for the gold? But, perfect is an unattainable goal. If you are a perfectionist, no matter what you do, you won’t be able to get there. Unfortunately many perfectionists are unaware that their aspirations are out of sight, always beyond their grasp. What do they do when time after time they fail to measure up to their unrealistic standards? They try harder. Over time all that effort can lead to some grave consequences.

There are many possible costs to living a life on a quest for perfect. I’m going to focus on five primary costs.

  1. Self-esteem challenges–due to never measuring up and harsh judgment of themselves and their efforts.
  2. Physical challenges–due to living in a state of chronic stress and having poor or non-existent self-care.
  3. Lowered productivity and performance–due to unrecognized exhaustion, too many obligations, poor time planning, and procrastination.
  4. No time for themselves to enjoy life –because all their time is spent trying to measure up to an unattainable standard.
  5. Relationship difficulties — due to a tendency to not only judge themselves harshly, but also judge others. 

Self-esteem challenges — Perfectionists tend to have a harsh inner critic. For example, as a perfectionist, when you make a mistake you beat yourself up for your error. When you don’t get something done, you beat yourself up, or at least feel bad about yourself for your incompletion. Because you can’t reach the bar, you’re never good enough.

Perfectionists can never do enough to really be OK. They are always seeking a higher level and never make it. The end result is they can’t be solid and grounded in the knowledge of their own competence, value and worth.

I’ll never forget when a therapist once said to me, “Debbie, you are one of the most competent people I know.” I was shocked. I had no clue I was so competent because I was focused on what was incomplete, what I hadn’t done right, and what needed to be done.

Physical challenges — Chronic stress and constant working can lead to exhaustion. Once one hurdle is leaped, another high one or several high ones are waiting. There is very little down time.

Over commitment and the stress that comes with it can lead to heart issues, musculoskeletal pain, particularly in the neck and back, digestive problems, and difficulty sleeping to name a few. At its worst cancer and heart attacks are possible, probably caused by chronic stress. 

Lowered productivity and performance —Perfectionists spend more time than they need to on tasks to make sure they are done just right, so consequently they get less done. Sometimes they fail to complete tasks because they are not yet perfect.

The quality of a perfectionist’s performance can be affected by unrecognized exhaustion or juggling too many obligations. I learned this recently when I deliberately took time off to play and rest every day. I discovered that the ease of writing and the quality of my writing when I got rest, even for short amounts of time, was far superior to what I’d been accomplishing when I was limping along unaware.

With such high standards and challenges believing in their ability, it’s not unusual for perfectionists to sometimes shut down completely, have difficulty engaging in tasks they need to do, have committed to doing, or want to do. I call this performance paralysis.

Not getting things done because they don’t have time to do them perfectly or because they are experiencing performance paralysis can also result in clutter. Clutter has a profound negative effect on both productivity and performance.

No time to enjoy their lives — Going for perfect costs time, time that could be spent doing other important things, like resting, enjoying social interactions and family life.

Relationship difficulties — If as a perfectionist you’re shooting for perfect, you’re more likely to carry that expectation beyond yourself and expect it from others or judge others for being less than perfect. That often results in criticism and/or a failure to acknowledge the contributions and value of others. Criticism NEVER helps. It corrodes relationships both with self and with others.

If you struggle with perfectionism, is the payoff for your efforts worth the costs long-term? Probably not. But, it’s a habit anchored in place by some compelling beliefs and strong emotions. My next blog post will offer suggestions for moving beyond perfectionism to a more humane way of living. Stay tuned!

Incomplete Tasks = Mind Clutter that Keeps You Stuck

Hand check mark the listAs I was running errands today I noticed I was feeling a sense of urgency about getting lots of little chores done. As is my habit I asked myself, “What’s this urgency about? What motivates me to knock action items off my to do list?” What came to me is that I wanted a clean slate so writing and other difficult tasks would be easier to do. Years of running a business has taught me that I can be most productive with really difficult and important tasks, like writing and designing seminars, when I clear out all those little tasks.

David Allen, author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, describes tasks that need to be done as attention units. Whether you have tasks written down on a to do list or not, whether you are conscious of them or not, items that need to be done, even little piddly items, take up space on the hard drive in your head.

To-do items are a form of mind clutter. Your space might be neat, but if your head is teeming with tasks that need to be done, you may find yourself stuck having difficulty getting the mental clarity you need to efficiently and effectively take action on important tasks.

How many items have accumulated on your to-do list? Make it a point to clear off as many of those tasks as you can. Then notice how you feel and where you focus once those attention units have been eliminated. Being stuck is a choice. Clear incomplete tasks and get moving!

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.

Lost To Do Lists Still Work!

To do lists. Yes, most of us have resorted to using to do lists in one form or fashion to keep up with the many tasks to be done at home and at work. The truth is, our brains just don’t have the capacity to reliably hold all the things we must do to keep our lives running efficiently and effectively. Downloading the many tasks roaming around in our brains to an external list is also a great way to lighten the mental load we carry.

Converting tasks you must do to writing not only will reduce stress, but it will also ensure that many more tasks get done. Have you ever had the experience of losing one of your to do lists, only to find it later and discover that you’d actually done many items on the list? Something about the tactile/kinesthetic act of writing down tasks seems to anchor them in the brain, making it possible to remember some of them without the help of the list.

So, empty your brain of your to dos onto a list. Then watch for an increase in your productivity!

Boundaries & Productivity

Today I coached a woman who began our session saying, “It’s been a wild week. I’ve really been spinning.” I typically hear reports of spinning from clients who have ADHD. Since I’m fairly certain this client does not have that brain based challenge, I was curious about her spinning. Was the catalyst of her spinning thoughts and feelings on the inside or was she spinning in reaction to things happening on the outside, happening with people or events in her life.

When I asked her to describe her spinning, when it started, how she experienced it, it was revealed that the spinning began when she’d gotten drawn into the drama of several family members, people who led chaotic lives filled with challenges of their own making. Her intention had been to be a source of support, but in the process she was adversely affected by their unpredictable behaviors and unintentional disregard of her needs and schedule. She began in spin in anxiety, lost sight of her goals, and lost a whole day that could have been spent getting important tasks done.

My client values being responsible and keeping her word. When caught up trying to meet the needs of others who don’t share the same values, she lost her center and begin to spin in response to their spinning. Together we identified a need to set clear boundaries with family members, letting them know under what conditions she is willing to help and saying no to requests that will disrupt her life and could send her spinning again.

What my client sacrificed when reacting to the needs and chaotic conditions of loved ones was her own ability to stay grounded and be productive. She lost a day of work and her peace of mind. How is your productivity being affected by the chaotic lives of others? What boundaries do you need to set?

Clear Clutter to Increase Productivity and Sleep Better

How does a professional organizer define a banner day? It’s a day when two clients report that they experience immediate results from clutter clearing.

I ran into one client who frequents the same coffee shop I do, and her first words when she saw me were, “I got so much done!” This client has her home office set up in her dining room. Over time she had accumulated a ring of clutter around her. Normally I can’t get at much of that clutter because she is sitting in the middle of it, and moving any of it is quite anxiety provoking. On my last visit she was running late, so I was able to start work without her. I took the opportunity to clear out the area around her chair. When she arrived I had a pile of bags and papers to go through with her, and the area where she works felt so much lighter, so much better. In that session we were able to go through all those things that had been sitting stagnant for quite some time, moving things along for filing, action, trash and to give away. My client was thrilled about the progress!

When my client reported, “I got so much done!” I was pleased, but I wasn’t surprised. The clutter around her chair was a block to her productivity. Those things that had been stagnant so long held dead, negative energies. They made it impossible for her to clear that clutter on her own. Once that block of negative energy was removed and order restored, the area had a positive energy, one that made mental clarity possible, and she was able to do many difficult tasks that previously were difficult to accomplish when surrounded by negative energy.

That same day another client reported “I slept much better last night.” The previous day I’d helped her reclaim basic order in her bedroom that had become completely cluttered since her return from college. It’s no wonder that she’d some difficulty sleeping in that room! Everything is alive with energy and the energy talks to you all the time. When she tried to sleep in the midst of chaos, the energy of everything strewn about her was chattering at her all night long. There were just too many things talking to be able to have a restful night’s sleep. Our clutter clearing together had quieted all those conversations, and good sleep was possible.

Want to be more productive? Want better sleep? Clear some clutter! Every little bit helps! Quiet those negative energies and you too can experience immediate positive results.