16 November 2021

Habits and the power of repetition

We all have habits. Good ones and bad ones. As we come up to the new year you’ll see people trying to start new habits. Maybe an exercise program, maybe a reading routine, maybe a commitment to post to social media once a week. I read somewhere that setting a new habit takes 21 days. This could be true, or it could just be that the longer you do something, the more likely you are to keep doing it.

November is a big month for habits for me. I’m a writer – and mostly write for myself – which can be hard when it comes to consistency. Some days, weeks, I just don’t feel like writing. Sometimes I’m not inspired, sometimes I’m too tired, there are a lot of excuses for those days I don’t get any words down. Without a publisher or deadline for my work, it’s up to me to stay motivated.

This is why November is an important month for me. In November there is an online project called National Novel Writing Month  (NaNoWriMo).  The primary goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in the month of November.

I’ve accomplished that goal several years, but this year I am using November as my month to reset the habit of writing, which I’ve fallen out of. My goal for NaNoWriMo this year is to write new content every day.  No excuses, just repetition to rebuild the habit of writing.

Staying organized is a habit too. Sure, there is the original goal to meet, whether that is organizing your pantry or closet or computer, but there is also the daily upkeep of an organized space.  The reminder to put your keys on the drop zone every night. The routine of picking up your clothes before you go to bed. The habit of deleting unwanted emails after reading.

And it isn’t easy to establish these new habits.  It takes time and practice. Sometimes more than those 21 days. There can be a lot of reasons why you don’t stick with your goal. Maybe you don’t feel like it that day. Maybe you’re too tired. Maybe lots of things get in the way.

But you can do it!

Build your habit on your own or with a support system to help you through the rough patches.  Just because you miss a day or forget about your new habit for a moment, don’t worry! You can pick right up where you left off.

Habits are all about consistency and repetition. There’s no time like the present to get started.

What organizing habit do you want to develop? How can I help? Reply here or send me an email to let me know!

29 September 2021

Why Inbox Zero Won’t Fix Your Email Problems

How many times are you checking your email each day? Either because you’re bored or because you’re trying to stay on top of your unread count? How much spam are you getting? Cat memes you didn’t ask for (but why not, they’re about cats!), and messages you didn’t need to be cc’d on. That’s not including all the newsletters and ads you subscribed to at one point.

The business world runs on email.

Love it or hate it, you can’t leave it behind or pretend it doesn’t exist.  But beyond basic communication, email can be just as much of a distraction as it is a tool. This is where Inbox Zero comes in.

You’ve heard of Inbox Zero, right? It’s a productivity hack, a system that was developed as a way of managing email clutter and distractions. The goal is to keep the inbox empty – or nearly empty – at all times. Inbox zero. It’s a great goal, one that a lot of people work hard to maintain on a daily basis. This is not about those people.

This is about other people. Those whose inbox will fill up with emails, into the thousands, and they’ll set aside a day to try and achieve Inbox Zero through mass deletions and processing.  It’s a one day blitz and after achieving their goal, and celebrating, the user goes back to business as usual.

Using Inbox Zero this way is just like putting your inbox on a diet.

The problem with so many diets out there is that they are focused only on achieving the result. Drink this shake and lose 10 pounds. Try this meal plan for a month and lose 15 pounds. The thought is you go on a diet, then eventually you go off a diet and return to your normal life. With this approach, there’s no permanent change in how you behave. Once you’re off the diet you go back to living the behaviors that got you there in the first place. 

Too many people use Inbox Zero like a diet for your inbox. They focus on getting the result – zero emails – thinking this will solve all their email problems.  But an inbox diet isn’t the answer to email management. Better habits are.

So what can you do today to better manage your email?

  1. Make a decision about that email the first time you read it – action item, reference item, or trash. Read and react.
  2. Create filters to keep your inbox uncluttered. Get those urgent items front and center instead of hidden in the spam.
  3. Set specific times to check emails and turn off your notifications. Theses dings and flags interrupt your workflow and decrease your productivity.
  4. Be the change you want to see in the world. Send the type of messages you want to receive and model positive email behavior to others.

And remember, better email management is a lifestyle change, not a diet. Instead of chasing the goal of trying to get down to zero emails in your inbox, focus on building better habits as the way to manage your inbox and incoming email!

Need help getting your email under control? Call me and let’s talk about how!

14 September 2021

How to Eat Your Frog

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.

I’m sure you’ve heard that before. Or maybe it was something about eating a frog first thing in the morning. Either way, there’s an important message there.

Many clients I work with tell me about the “pile” of things that have accumulated. Maybe it’s the unread count in email, maybe it’s the number of documents in your downloads folder. No matter where the stuff has gathered, there is this prevailing feeling that you have to tackle the whole thing at once. 

And nobody wants to do that.

But that all at once theory isn’t true!

The pile didn’t accumulate in a day, so don’t try to tackle it all at once. Instead, take 10 – 15 minutes at a time and see what you can accomplish. Before you know it, the pile is a little smaller, and a little more manageable. For many people once they have the pile tackled, it’s easy to stay on top of the everyday.

Do you need help tackling your pile of emails or your stack of files? Reply here and let me know what I can do to help you be more productive!

1 September 2021

How to Clear Your Digital Desktop

A clean desk is a sign of a disturbed mind.

I saw that once on a coffee mug and laughed. Of course, it’s not true. It isn’t, right? : )

Regardless of whether you are working at home or in an office, we all have a desk of sorts. It might be the dining room table or a dedicated desk in your private office. When it’s clean, work is easier. You can find what you need quickly and the things that need your attention are front and center.  All things that can lead to increased productivity.

The same is true for your digital desktop. Clear away the unnecessary icons and save the documents to the documents folder instead of on the desktop.  Get rid of old downloads and program icons you no longer need. Doing so will provide you a clean slate when you sit down at your desk in the morning. 

And a clean, organized desk, is a sign of a productive mind.

Need help clearing your desktop? Let me know! Sign up for a Discovery Call today and we’ll talk!

17 August 2021

What You Need, Front and Center

Last week we started talking about the 4 things you can do to be more productive. This week, we’ll tackle a second thing you can do to increase your daily productivity!

Does anybody remember when they got their computer, opened it up, and turned it on for the first time?
Down on the Dock (for you Mac people) and on the start menu (Windows people) were icons for programs the creators thought you might need quick access to. Most people nod and say, sure, sounds good, and go about their business, never changing the order of their icons or even adding new ones.

But it doesn’t have to be that way!

I got a new laptop last month and the first thing I did – after opening the package and oohing and aahhing over the contents – was remove those programs I didn’t use. Things like News and Stocks and Garage Band.  Then I added in Evernote, Chrome, and Outlook to round out my standard setup.

You can do that too! Instead of being resigned to access your program the long way, you can change the icons in your start-up menu to reflect those programs you use most frequently.  It’s a little step you can take to improve your daily productivity.

Don’t forget – the same principles apply to your phone too! Don’t shuffle through multiple screens to get to what you use most frequently. Instead, sort out the icons you need and move them to the first screen or two.

Need help moving those icons? Let me know and we’ll get it set together.

Join me next week for another little thing you can do to improve your productivity!

3 August 2021

Empty Your Brain to Sleep Better

Have you ever woken up at 3 in the morning, frantically trying to remember if you sent that email you promised a client? Heart pounding and mind racing? Yeah, nobody likes that feeling. But imagine the peaceful dreams you could have if you knew everything was documented, prioritized, and waiting for you to tackle in the morning.

You can have that! How? Pull out a piece of paper or your task management software and empty your brain on a regular basis. Once a day, once a week, whatever works, just take a moment and write down everything you can think of that you need to do, order, create, etc. Don’t worry about priority or the size of the task. A brain dump is just about getting the information out of your head and into a trusted system. David Allen (of Getting Things Done) said it best when he said our brains were meant for processing information, not for holding information.

Having task management software – and a regular brain dump – ensure that all your responsibilities and commitments are accounted for and waiting for you to act.  No need to wake up at 3 with that panicked look on your face.
Need help finding a task management software or want help setting your software up? Let me know and we can get it done together!