A New Leaf Productivity https://anewleafproductivity.com Home and Business Organizing | Coaching Wed, 12 Jun 2019 21:37:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 https://anewleafproductivity.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/0413030D-FF7A-409F-99DE-23A8E86E1150-150x150.png A New Leaf Productivity https://anewleafproductivity.com 32 32 How to Reduce Paper Clutter https://anewleafproductivity.com/how-to-reduce-paper-clutter/ https://anewleafproductivity.com/how-to-reduce-paper-clutter/#respond Thu, 13 Jun 2019 13:02:49 +0000 http://anewleafproductivity.com/?p=199

Paper. It’s a dreaded thing for many people. From not knowing what to keep to not knowing what to do with it once you decide to keep it, paper can cause major problems for people. It’s one of the biggest sources of clutter especially in offices, but the struggle is no better at home. In fact, it seems that decisions are harder to make at home as it isn’t always so clear what has value and what doesn’t.

The first challenge is to stop the accumulation. You must cut off the inflow in order to get a handle on the paper issues.

  1. Cancel subscriptions that you no longer want or need.
  2. Invest in a good shredder and place it near your garbage can.
  3. Check your mailbox each day.
  4. Open and process mail each day right near the garbage can and shredder.
  5. Immediately discard any obvious junk mail and catalogs or magazines you know you won’t read. A note: you don’t have to throw away these things. You can also recycle if this is available in your area.
  6. Create a designated spot for bills, things to read, forms to fill, etc. As you are opening the mail, place each paper into the appropriate spot.
  7. Find a few minutes each day to deal with the paper that requires action. You may pay bills one day, grab your “to read” pile on your way to a doctor’s appointment…you get the idea.

Do you have any paper reduction tips to share?

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Is Emotional Baggage Weighing You Down? Clear the Clutter! https://anewleafproductivity.com/clear-the-clutter-is-emotional-baggage-weighing-you-down/ https://anewleafproductivity.com/clear-the-clutter-is-emotional-baggage-weighing-you-down/#respond Fri, 24 May 2019 23:29:47 +0000 http://anewleafproductivity.com/?p=494

We have all felt that our environment was driving us crazy at one time or another. There is “stuff” everywhere and no hope in sight. Whether it’s paper piling up in your office or toys all over the living room, these situations and things can drive us crazy.

Decisions to get rid of things can be so difficult because many of us attach emotion to our things. It is an interesting phenomenon that we allow things to overcome us in this way. How inanimate objects take on such meaning that we almost feel the object may be hurt if we set it free.

To take back your life, you must relinquish the past. Clutter is often composed of past lives. You know…all of the supplies from that time you decided to learn cake decorating, or the old weight bench you bought 6 years ago and used once. Projects started, but never finished and books purchased, but never read. All of these things are not only remnants of the past, they are also sources of guilt.

When you look around your home or office and see remnants of projects started and never completed it is very emotionally draining. The first step to reclaiming your space is freeing yourself of all of those past lives.

Look at the present and decide what belongs here, NOW. What serves you in your present life? You may have to deal with some emotional aspect of freeing yourself from the past, but how liberated you will feel once you have done it!

Happy Organizing!

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Conquer Unrealistic Expectations https://anewleafproductivity.com/conquer-unrealistic-expectations/ https://anewleafproductivity.com/conquer-unrealistic-expectations/#respond Wed, 15 May 2019 22:33:49 +0000 http://anewleafproductivity.com/?p=483

When I think about exercise and dieting, I always come up with grand plans. These plans usually involve a few hours of exercise each day and eating fabulous foods that are healthy. Of course, it would be wonderful if I actually did these things, but I never do. The fact is that I set myself up for failure from the start.

My diet and exercise plans in the past have been way too ambitious for someone with my schedule. Taking into account that I hate to shop and cook, the idea that I would have fresh food in the house that I would then prepare is pretty silly when I look back on it. So, what went wrong?

I made these plans based on what I thought I should be doing, not what I knew I would actually do. Of course, I have to make some changes in my behavior if I want to have fabulous arms and killer abs, but it’s helpful to be realistic about what you will do when faced with the choice of laying in bed until 7:00 or getting up to do a workout.

In organizing projects this happens frequently. We have so many images of what organized means in various situations. Perfectly clear desktops, doing everything the moment you think to do it, scanning all of your paper so you never have to deal with it again. Not to mention all of the books out there touting the definitive solution to organizing problems. The reality is that much of what is published in books and articles probably won’t work for you.

Here’s my beef with most of the information out there on organizing. Solutions are presented as though they are great for everyone. If you just put enough effort into it, this extremely complex system can work for you. No way! Your organizing systems must be based on your own logic and realistic assessment of your behavior.

I was recently asked by a workshop participant if scanning paper was a good solution for paper clutter. I asked if the person liked dealing with paper. She cringed and said “No way! I hate paper!” So, my answer is that scanning probably won’t be a good solution for her. If she hates paper so much that she won’t deal with it to get it filed, what are the chances that she will want to sit around scanning paper for hours. Now, I’m not saying that scanning is not a good option for dealing with paper clutter. I’m simply pointing out that realistically, she will probably not keep up with scanning paper if she doesn’t like dealing with paper to begin with.

Here are three things to consider when setting up a system or routine for organizing:

1) Is there anything wrong with your current system? Don’t change for the sake of changing. If your systems work, leave them alone.

2) Ask the question, “What will I really do?” Will you really scan all that paper or is it better to come up with some strategies to keep the paper from coming in at all. Will you really put all of those articles you’ve been saving into alphabetized binders? Or is it better to put them into a few research folders and call it a day? Better yet, you probably won’t ever look at them again so maybe you could just toss them.

3) Keep things simple. Complicated systems are typically difficult to maintain. The best organizing systems and routines are very simple. No need to color code your file system or calendar…unless you really believe that you will keep it up. As you develop your systems, continually ask yourself how it could be made easier.

So, my new diet plan is to exercise as many times as I can each week and to cut out eating so much ice cream. I still need to work to keep up my new routine, but I am being more realistic and not beating myself up.

Happy Organizing!

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How to Manage Distractions https://anewleafproductivity.com/how-to-manage-distractions/ https://anewleafproductivity.com/how-to-manage-distractions/#respond Tue, 09 Apr 2019 01:34:42 +0000 http://anewleafproductivity.com/?p=474

Are you supposed to be doing something else right now?  But someone or something has interrupted you?  Managing distractions can be a huge challenge when working at home with children, pets or other home related activities going on.  Sometimes we are distracted by ourselves which I call avoidance behavior.  This is not what we’re talking about today.

Studies have shown that the recovering from a distracting event can take up to 25 minutes.  This is a huge time waster.  So, how do you manage distractions that seem to be unavoidable?

Manage Expectations.

Set some boundaries for yourself and those around you.  A common complaint that I hear from home based business owners is that friends think that they can just talk anytime or come over to visit any time.  Just because you’re at home, they think that you are available. 

We teach how we will allow people to treat us.  If you answer the phone each time your friend calls or invite them in each time they come over in the middle of the day, then you are teaching them that it’s ok to continue this interrupting behavior.  When you first change this behavior your friends may not understand, but explain the issue to them and eventually then will understand and respect your boundaries.

Setting office hours can help with this problem.  You may be the biggest violator of your own business hours.  It’s important to set that boundary for yourself, your friends and your family so that they know when you will be available.  Your clients also need to know when you are available. 

Schedule Focus Time.

To make sure you get the most important tasks done for the day, schedule a particular time during which you will completely focus.  Eliminate all potential distractions including email, internet, and phone.  You can start with 30 minutes and work your way up to longer periods of time.  You will be surprised how much you are able to get done when you truly focus.

Plan for Distractions.

Let’s face it, we really can’t completely eliminate distractions.  So, being prepared for them will help to minimize wasted time getting back on track.  Keep sticky notes handy.  When you get distracted, jot down a quick note about your last thought or what you were doing when you were distracted. 

These issues are also a problem in the traditional office environment.  The players are just different.  The principles remain the same, though, so you can use these tips in that situation as well.  I would love to hear your thoughts or comments!

Happy Organizing!

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How to Juggle Multiple Priorities https://anewleafproductivity.com/how-to-juggle-multiple-priorities/ https://anewleafproductivity.com/how-to-juggle-multiple-priorities/#respond Fri, 22 Mar 2019 01:40:58 +0000 http://anewleafproductivity.com/?p=468

I am often asked how to juggle multiple priorities, especially when everything seems important.  This is a struggle for many people so I thought I would share three quick steps to prioritize your workload.

  1. Get everything out of your head. Very often we feel overwhelmed by all that we have to do because it’s all floating around in our heads and there is no concrete plan for getting them done.  Not having captured those tasks can make you feel that you have to try and remember everything.  Reality is that we can’t remember everything so it’s very important to come up with a system for capturing your thoughts and tasks in an effective way.
    A very simple idea is to use a notebook or a Word document to capture all of your ideas and things to do.  Get everything out of your head and on paper or in your Word document.  You may not get all of your thoughts out during the first brain dump, but this gives you a good starting point.  You can always go back and add tasks that you think of later.
  2. Prioritize your tasks. Very simply, you will now decide which of the tasks or group of tasks is most important.  You can rank all of the others accordingly.  Another idea is to choose 2 or 3 tasks per day to complete and prioritize among those.  If you can’t decide which of the grouping is most important, just pick one and get started on it.
  3. Get to work! Now that you’ve captured all of your ideas and decided which is most important, it’s time to get started on the task.  Focus is a key in this step.  If you get interrupted, you can easily decide whether the interruption is more important than the task you’re currently working on.

Happy Organizing!

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Following Through with Your Intentions https://anewleafproductivity.com/following-through-with-your-intentions/ https://anewleafproductivity.com/following-through-with-your-intentions/#respond Thu, 28 Feb 2019 23:34:07 +0000 http://anewleafproductivity.com/?p=457

Why don’t we follow through on the things that we “should” do?

In Following Through: A Revolutionary New Model for Finishing Whatever You Start by Steve Levinson and Pete Greider, the authors propose that we have two guidance systems:  the Primitive Guidance System and the Intelligence-Based Guidance System.  Each of these systems pulls us in different directions like a car with two steering wheels.  The Primitive Guidance System, PGS, has the most control and is based on instinct.  The PGS responds to the squeakiest wheel – I’m hungry: Look for food.  I’m bored:  Look for something more interesting to do.

In the meantime, your Intelligence-Based Guidance System, IBGS, has enabled you to make great plans…I should get my taxes done.  I should eat more healthy food.  I should exercise daily.  I should, I should, I should.

The problem is that there is no connection between the two systems.  On April 14 your taxes will become the squeaky wheel and your PGS will respond.  You will race the clock to get your taxes done.  They may not have been done early, but they were on time.  This is the way your guidance systems work.  So you see, poor follow through is not so much a character flaw, but a flaw in the design of your mind and your guidance systems.

Now that you know why poor follow through occurs you can take steps to work around the design flaw.  The key is arranging your environment so that your good intentions are the squeaks that get the powerful PGS’ attention.  Here are a few of the suggested strategies to effectively follow through with your intentions.

Spotlighting – Your mind becomes distracted by many voices when you are trying to accomplish something: the ones that want to get the project done and the ones that just want to sit back, relax and not get it done.  The trick in spotlighting is to make sure that you are paying attention to the “right” distractions or cues.  Here is an example of a cue:  You see a big, juicy hamburger on TV and then become hungry for a big, juicy hamburger.

Here are the steps involved in spotlighting:

  1. Identify the right voices that urge you to do what your intentions are telling you to.
  2. Identify or create a cue.  Something that will stimulate the right voice.
  3. Find a way to be sure you will be exposed to the right cues.

For example, a manager who also coaches a baseball team uses baseball theme to provide cues throughout his day.  His intention is to coach his staff the way he coaches his little league team.  He puts a photo of his Little League team on his desk, uses baseball themed notepads, and hangs a baseball cap on the wall.  All of these cues remind him throughout the day to do a better job motivating his staff.   What behavior would you like to develop?  What cue would work for you the way that baseball worked for this manager?

Going too far – Make the intention more meaningful or threatening by pledging to violate it in a big way. Essentially you make a deal with yourself. If your intention is to stop smoking, make a pledge that if you are going to smoke a cigarette, you must smoke two cigarettes, one after the other. You can’t just smoke one. To your Primitive Guidance System smoking becomes a threat rather than just satisfying a craving because you HAVE to smoke two cigarettes.

Right Before Wrong – With this strategy you make a deal to do the right thing before the wrong one. For example, let’s say you decide to start eating healthy snacks, but find yourself reaching for something unhealthy instead. Make a deal with yourself to eat a healthy snack first and then eat the unhealthy snack if you still want it.

You have been introduced to three strategies to help you follow through on your intentions.  Try these strategies for yourself.  I am very interested in hearing about your results.  As you go through this, keep in mind that we are talking about your mind here.  If your mind fails (such as forgetting about your routine), you think that you have screwed up.  If your heart failed, you would not think of yourself as a failure.  It typically takes some time for habits to change.  Give yourself a break and give yourself time to fully integrate into the new behaviors.

To Your Success,

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Home Office Productivity https://anewleafproductivity.com/home-office-productivity/ https://anewleafproductivity.com/home-office-productivity/#respond Thu, 21 Feb 2019 02:48:22 +0000 http://anewleafproductivity.com/?p=444

Now that we have the ability to access work through phone, iPad, or laptops, more and more people are working from home.  Are you as productive if you work from home?  Or are you more productive working in an offsite office?  With the many distractions that come with working at home, the answer is not so much for many of us. 

While the attraction of working at home can be very alluring, it’s important to remember that you actually have to get work done.  I struggle with staying productive at home so I am seriously considering moving to an office space outside my home. 

You may fall into some small traps that cause big distractions.  For example, doing house work when you should be writing a blog, hanging out with your spouse when you should be responding to phone calls or email, or watching TV when you should be working on your business planning.  Whatever the distraction, some people are more susceptible to them than others.

There are other things that cause lack of productivity as well.  If you are your own boss or don’t have anyone watching out for what you’re doing, you may spend lots of time searching the internet for recreation, shopping, or playing games.  This could be avoidance behavior that may be signaling a bigger issue.  More on procrastination in another blog post.

I’m not saying that you should run out and get yourself an office, but you should probably be aware if you do, in fact, have a problem.  If you do have a home office productivity problem, there are some ways to work around them.

First, identify your hot spots or weakness areas.  Do you get caught up in watching TV in the middle of the day?  Or get too involved in household chores? 

Next, create a time map in which you allow yourself time to do those things you enjoy or have to do, like laundry.  This way, you have scheduled time to do those activities and you aren’t interfering with your work time.

If you are dealing with a lot of interruptions from family members, you may need to be very clear with them about boundaries.  You may need to designate a specific time of day to spending time with your kids or having lunch with your spouse.  Be clear that work time needs to be spent actually working.

Take a look around your office.  Does it make you happy to be there?  Does it support your work goals and enable you to be as productive as possible?  Or do you have piles of stuff everywhere?  Have trouble finding things when you need them?  Maybe you would rather just close the door and not go into your office rather than work.  If any of these is familiar, you may need to work on organizing and redecorating your office.

Ultimately, you may determine that moving into an office space outside the home is the best answer for you.  This is a major step and you should be sure that your issues are in fact due to working at home and not some other procrastination/avoidance behaviors.

Are you struggling with productivity in your home office?  If so, we’d love to hear your challenges and what you’re doing to overcome them.

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Myth of Multitasking https://anewleafproductivity.com/mythofmultitasking/ https://anewleafproductivity.com/mythofmultitasking/#respond Sat, 19 Jan 2019 08:30:32 +0000 http://anewleafproductivity.com/?p=302

The pace of work just keeps getting faster and faster. Employees are often being asked to do more work with fewer resources. Often they are handling not only their current workload, but also the workload of employees that have left but have not yet been replaced. The use of technology like instant messaging and smart phones has created an “always on” culture in many companies that is truly unhealthy. The bottom line…. Multitasking is not productive behavior.

Because many employers place multitasking in high esteem, job seekers and employees try hard to live up to their claims of having excellent multitasking ability. It is important for both parties to understand the pitfalls of attempting to multitask.

Much research has been done in recent years on the effect that multitasking has on employee productivity. This research has shown that the brain cannot process more than one activity at a time. So, technically, you are never actually multitasking. What you are doing is rapidly shifting from one task to another and to another. Some of the effects this can have are short term memory loss and poor overall work quality. In some cases, as in Air Traffic Control, effective use of multitasking can mean life or death.

Studies have also shown that multitasking can be costly to businesses both in terms of dollars and time. For example, it can take up to 25 minutes for an employee to recover from interruption. According to the Institute for Innovation and Information Productivity, a study by Basex calculated losses of $588 billion due to interruptions by such things as mobile phone calls and others. This translates into lost man hours of 28 billion. Not only does multitasking cost lost time for recovery and handling the interruption itself, but it also causes stress and frustration which can lead to health troubles for employees and increased medical costs.

Children growing up today are even more immersed in the multitasking culture as they are using various forms of multimedia at earlier ages, have smart phones, play video games constantly, use social media, and try to get school work done. A study done by the Institute for Innovation & Information Productivity and Oxford University showed that younger individuals actually don’t respond as well to constant interruptions as their older counterparts. There is a myth that younger people are more adept at handling multiple forms of media in rapid succession. However, they may not actually be retaining what they are learning or be making very good decisions.

While there are is a good case for limiting multitasking, you will likely never be able to completely eliminate interruptions from your daily life. Here are a few suggestions to help you to get more work done without interruption and to help you to recover from interruptions when they occur.

  1. Set aside distraction free periods of time to truly focus on getting things done. Limit technology use during these periods. Ask for permission from your boss to set aside one hour a day free from instant messaging and phone calls. Turn off the automatic notification of email coming into your inbox.
  1. When you are interrupted take a moment to jot down the last thought you had or where you were on the task. Use sticky notes or a note pad. This will help you to recover more quickly upon your return to that task.
  1. Build your mental muscle and learn to shift priorities more effectively. According to the article “Multitasking Makes You Stupid” by Sue Shellenbarger, meditation may help to increase your mental ability to shift priorities.

Changing corporate culture is a monumental task. Helping companies to realize the negative effect that the “always on, multitasking is a good thing” mentality will be a key to helping employees to be more effective in the workplace. Multitasking may not make you stupid, but as we have discovered it does have negative effects on your work product and stress level.

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Changing Behavior https://anewleafproductivity.com/changing-behavior/ https://anewleafproductivity.com/changing-behavior/#respond Mon, 04 Dec 2017 08:30:19 +0000 http://anewleafproductivity.com/?p=306

When I talk about getting organized I always let the audience members know that becoming organized is about changing habits and behavior, not just changing your environment. During the question and answer session of a recent speaking event I was asked how one might go about changing behavior. I answered the question, but realized that this question is really quite complicated.

Creating Self Awareness

Changing behavior is truly my objective when working with clients. The first step is awareness. I create awareness for my clients by pointing out things that I hear them say or see them do that may be a major contributing factor. We work together to figure these things out and to develop solutions that will help them to break the cycle of their past behaviors.  By uncovering these factors and guiding my clients to recognize the behavior on their own, we are creating self awareness that will allow for true lasting change.

Behavior Assessments

Behavior assessments can give you great insight into what motivates you, how you work with others, and what behaviors might be holding you back. These assessments are not pass or fail. They simply tell you what your behavior traits are and the common characteristics of individuals with those traits. Some of the assessments available are Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, DiSC®, RightPath, and Enneagram. I use the DiSC assessment with my clients.  This gives us a basis to start from in terms of preferred communication style, behavior tendencies and strengths that we can build upon.

Is Change Really Wanted?

Occasionally I get calls from friends or family members of individuals who have clutter issues. These friends are very well-meaning, but chances are the person they’ve called about will not see it this way. Unless a person truly wants to change their environment and their behaviors, it will not happen. There is no motivation for them to make changes that someone else thinks are necessary. Sometimes people have lots of clutter and that suits them just fine.

Another scenario is the individual who calls because someone else in their life is applying pressure for them to change. This situation also does not typically result in organizing success because the motivation for change is coming from someone else.

What’s the Motivation?

If you are truly the source of your motivation for change, then what is the ultimate outcome that you want from getting organized? What do you think will happen once you are organized? Your motivation may be that you don’t want your children to grow up in a cluttered environment. Or maybe your ultimate outcome is to have a more professional office environment where you can find things that you need quickly. Without that ultimate goal, or vision, you have no motivation for real change.

There are so many factors that can influence your success. If you truly want to get organized so that you can have a better life, at home or in the office, you can do it! Just remember that you must be willing to change both your environment and your habits. Have an ultimate goal in mind and go for it!

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