Wow! This issue is the start of the 10th year I've sent my little missives out! Time flies while you're having fun, right? Admittedly, I've been a bit hit-or-miss lately, but you're still always on my mind and I so enjoy sharing my various organizing and productivity thoughts with you. So, with that in mind ... onward to an event that is affecting most of us now: school's out for summer!
Remember that song? I had to Google it because Jim and I couldn't remember who sang it. So, whether you like the Alice Cooper version (the one I remember) or the one by The Chipmunks (ack!), it's generally a pretty happy albeit loud ditty. The thing is, it's a reminder that we're into a new season, a new time of different and fun activities and, hopefully, much less 'normal' routine. All of which brings its own excitement as well as dilemmas.
For instance, we must watch out for kids on bikes or various transport all over the streets and sidewalks now, at any time of the day. No school buses or school zones means folks are speeding through areas they're usually much more cautious about. No 'school routine' means parents are shuffling their little ones between various summer activities, camps, friends' homes and whathaveyou. All of this creates some tension due to the newness of the requirements and settling into a comfortable routine that gets everyone through their work day and all back home for the evening meal or planning that family vacation to the Grand Canyon.
Yes, routine is very comforting, but it's also a great challenge to throw something new into the mix, right? We even cook differently in the summer: BBQing takes center-stage for food prep. Salads become a big deal and soups get set aside for cooler weather. Heating costs go down, but your A/C and water costs start to climb. Gardening and yard work take up huge chunks of time, but the beauty and serenity they provide to our homes is so worth it. Budgeting for fun can be daunting, but somehow when we factor in the 'learning experiences' and camaraderie of all we plan, money becomes an issue that we tend to ignore until later - when those bills arrive!
So, let spontaneity rule a bit, OK? School shopping, parent conferences, too many extracurricular activities can all wait until we've enjoyed the joys of this new, hopefully more relaxing time of year. Enjoy your lovely yards and patios; sip your iced tea; have picnics with friends and family; and put your feet up a bit. All the rest can wait until .... later!
Wishing you a joyful, peaceful but exciting summer!
Well, it's been a year since our last National Day of Unplugging! I didn't want to give you too much notice of this challenge, because I didn't want you to over-think it and bail on me! Just the thought of not having some sort of electronic device attached to their hand makes some folks crazy!
I still won't carry a cell phone unless I'm traveling away from the area and truly do believe that the insistence of being wired 24/7 is a lack of time management! Plan ahead; make your lists; know your route; low and behold: you don't have to rely on the machinery always within arms length of too many of us, way too often! Just my bid for some Civil Disobedience in a world that pushes me to be connected to any and all, all the time. "Just say 'no'!" "But what about an emergency?" frantic folks ask. The few times we have needed something like that, we were out of cell-phone coverage anyway!
When one of the founders of Twitter, Ev Williams, is on the talk-show circuit that the craziness needs to stop; when Mark Zukerberg of Facebook is having his techs work on ways to slow down the proliferation of hours and days spent on his site and others; when apps are now seen by psychology gurus as loading folks with a 'sugar hit" .... Something needs to give, right??
Roger McNamee, an early investor in Facebook and Google share:
“Like gambling, nicotine, alcohol or heroin, Facebook and Google — most importantly through its YouTube subsidiary — produce short-term happiness with serious negative consequences in the long term.
... the big Internet companies know more about you than you know about yourself, which gives them huge power to influence you, to persuade you to do things that serve their economic interests. Facebook, Google and others compete for each consumer’s attention, reinforcing biases and reducing the diversity of ideas to which each is exposed. The degree of harm grows over time.
... The fault lies with advertising business models that drive companies to maximize attention at all costs, leading to ever more aggressive brain hacking.” WOW - strong stuff, right?
Tristan Harris of the non-profit "Time Well Spent" is also extremely concerned, with the company's goal to “stop technology platforms from hijacking our minds, and to start putting our best interests first”
So, can I dare you to turn off all your electronics and just see what it's like to have TWO HANDS FREE for only 24 hours, starting tonight at sunset, through tomorrow at sunset? Go outside; have coffee, face-to-face with a friend; read a book! I'd love to know of your survival rate for this challenge, OK? Just email me from here, if you'd like. I'll share comments in a future newsletter!
Here's to the beginning of your recognition that we need to take back our brains!
Well? Did you get everything under control on Thanksgiving? Pies all baked? Was the turkey cooked properly? Everyone arrive on time? Did you remember the cranberry sauce and the rolls? Now, you start hitting the malls or your computer for shopping; decorating the yard and house; putting up the tree; baking the holiday cookies; sending out cards for Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa; and on and on and on, still... Lack of sleep, grief or loneliness, limited health, shopping - huge stress sources, right? Are you mentally and physically exhausted yet? How about overstimulated? ACK!
Family and cultural traditions, along with expectations (real or imagined), can have a tendency to blow up your stress levels to a frenzied pitch. Depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder or the thought of spending way too much time with that rude Uncle Fred could just make you want to junk it all and take a hot bath, true? Stop and take a deep breath! You know me: I'm not one to dwell on the negative, so let's find the hope in this scenario, OK? You are not alone!
How DO we deal with all this? You'd think we'd all be experts at handling the holidays because we do it year after year after year. History will repeat itself until we learn the lesson, eh? Guess we're still learning! So, here are some tips to keep in mind and practice so that maybe, just maybe, as we are launched into the beginning of some wildly hectic weeks, we can set some boundaries, be realistic, instill some good habits and get through it - with smiles on our faces and love in our hearts!
• Maintain a healthy routine and keep practicing your good habits: keep walking; keep going to the gym; get plenty of sleep; be mindful of what all this is about; watch the alcohol and food intake (less pounds gained = easier to get rid of it in the New Year!). Get outside! That always helps me put everything in perspective!
• Be realistic! Nothing is perfect (ever!), so expect the unexpected and try to 'go with the flow.' There should be no 'shoulds!' Be flexible, but do set boundaries and be prepared to 'just say no' (delay your response so you can think about the full ramifications - politely!). You will make yourself ill if you try to please everyone, all the time!
• Practice an Attitude of Gratitude: don't dwell on the negative, especially things you can't change (Maybe turn off the news for the month? Someone will let you know if anything important happens!). Pay attention to enjoying your friends and family and counting your blessings.
• Plan ahead and get organized! (Gee - where'd that come from?!) Make sure your to-do lists are reasonable, with goals you can actually reach (so you can cross them off!). Keep some white space on the calendar because challenges and the unexpected will happen. Allow some time for R&R, too: a good nap can put everything into proper perspective. Set a budget and stick to it - paying for one season of the year during the entire next year is just ___ - you fill in the blank! You, your family and friends can find a lot to do that's even free!
• Practice self-care! This goes with the nap-thing above! Focus on the NOW and be mindful of each moment: breathe; do things just for YOU; always fit in some things that you enjoy! If too much socializing is getting you down, keep your gatherings limited to certain days, certain times and maybe those limitations will help you cope that much better.
• Make sure you're connecting, sharing and caring with others, especially if you are alone, lonely, grieving. No family locally? Find a local church or soup kitchen you can help in while helping others. Such tiny Acts of Kindness will just warm your heart and ease the pain that having to make 'new' traditions might garner. Try to find the proper niche for you at Volunteer Match, for instance.
• Know if/when you might want to seek help from a health care professional. Symptoms lasting for weeks on end and your SAD lamp not really helping? Reach out!
OK, enough of the reminders of what you already know, right? Now, get to all that baking, shopping and decorating - but now with some recollection that all this is supposed to be fun; be a reminder of how blessed we all are; and enjoy these next weeks with joy and peace in your heart and soul!
So, it's been a while since my last missive, hasn't it? With days on end of 100+ degrees, I've just been stymied trying to get much done - outside or inside. Are you feeling the same way?
Yes, this weather and all the fun that summer traditionally bring have brought full-force the recognition of situational disorganization. This, as opposed to chronic disorganization, when no matter what, you just can't seem to get a thing done, year after year after year. Heat or cold; life's events - happy or sad; looking for permanent vs. temporary fixes - situational disorganization comes and goes. I've been facing that in droves of late!
Up at the crack of dawn just to get walks in or some gardening done before we get to 90 degrees, and working long into the evenings, with a lot of 'dead time' in the middle of the day, right? The desire to just go-go-go has sort of gone recently, but I know to be kind to myself and am dealing with any guilt by reminding myself to just be present, be mindful, be grateful. Sound a bit woo-woo to you? Don't worry - your get-up-and-go will return as we put away the iced teas and jump into fall, which is just around the corner.
In the meantime, please remember that there is no such thing as perfection, so aim for good enough to get the most mundane tasks done. I'm talking about the laundry, ironing (what's that, millenials might ask?), housekeeping, shopping and cooking - keep it easy and just 'git 'er done! Salads have been our main fare lately and that's not only healthy but less expensive than many food options, so all's well. Looking for the 'easy way out' always works, and fits right into the 'good enough' philosophy. That said, remember that 'good enough' isn't to be equated with being sloppy or slovenly - just cut yourself a break on any and all 'rules' you may have been raised with or concocted over the years. Be easy on yourself - be easy on yourself - I can't repeat that enough!
Yoga and Pilates have been our exercise recently; lawn care is hired out; reading has taken on new importance; gardening is just what must be done - watering and deadheading, early in the day. Guess what? There's nothing wrong with wanting to slow down and move more slowly through these heated days. Watching our cats is always a good lesson - running around early and late in the day and that's it for any major progress. Nothing wrong with this, right?
So, there! Have I made you feel less guilty about your lack of progress on that To-Do List? Aim for 2-3 items per week, maybe, instead of 2-3 per day - the Completion Police are on vacation, too! Handle The Musts and then enjoy the rest of your day - speedy times are coming when vacations are over and the kids head back to school.
Recognize this bit of wisdom from Oprah: "The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate." ENJOY, and we can all get busy next month!
Here's to seeing the balance in all and taking in each moment!
Providing Peace and Harmony for your Home or Office. Tips on getting organized and staying organized. Cleaning up the clutter in your home or office.