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Posts Tagged ‘10 minutes’

Back in June, I did a short series called “10 Minutes, 10 Days.” I wanted to share provide a variety of tips that crossed over various parts of life that aren’t very time consuming. “Organizing takes too much time” is a phrase I’ve heard more times than I can count. Yes, organizing can be time intensive, but if you do not have a lot of time to devote to a huge project all at once, don’t let that stop you. There are plenty of things you can spend a few minutes on each day that will help you reach your goals. The following are a few more suggestions for things you can do in 10 minutes to clear a little more clutter from your life:

  • Clean up your cell phone or PDA contact list. If you’re the kind of person who adds the number of everyone you’ve said “hello” to, then this might take more than 10 minutes. Most of us, however, should be able to scroll through our rolodex and do some quick editing. Remove information from old clients or business contacts that you no longer need to keep close at hand. Delete the information of people you simply don’t want to communicate with anymore. Add people whose numbers are jotted down on Post-it notes. Update or add additional information that contacts have given you.
  • While you are cooking in the kitchen, clear one drawer. If you have a junk drawer in the kitchen, try starting there. Get rid of things that are clearly junk. Put a few items in their proper places. If you keep take out menus, toss duplicate copies or menus from restaurants that have gone out of business. Throw out old soy sauce packets.
  • While filling the tub for your bath or for the bath of one of your kids, clean out a drawer in the bathroom, or toss a few outdated products (please don’t do this if your kid is sitting in the bathtub, unattended).
  • Sort through the mail that has been piling up. Create a pile for unpaid bills. Toss the ones that have been (or will be) paid automatically. Recycle the junk mail.
  • Return stray CDs and/or DVDs to their rightful homes.
  • Pre-sort your laundry. This is great for families that accumulate lots of dirty clothes each day. I live alone and I still find this handy. Have three hampers or purchase a hamper that has three sections in it. I like this idea because as I shed clothes each day and simply toss them in the right section, it is easy to tell, without spending time to sort, whether the whites, mediums, or darks are ready to be washed ASAP.

  • Clean out your purse, briefcase, messenger bag, backpack, man bag (or “murse” as I heard recently), etc.
  • Clean out under the kitchen sink. If you keep plastic grocery bags, stuff them all into one, or corral them in a plastic bag holder. Throw out cleaning products that have lost their effectiveness. If two bottles of Windex are down there, take one bottle upstairs so you’ll have one handy when your bathroom mirror needs a quick cleaning. Cut down on the space your cleaning supplies take up by using products that can be used on a variety of surfaces.
  • Match your socks.
  • Clean up your computer desktop. Remove shortcuts you don’t use frequently. Place documents in folders to clean the clutter from your screen and improve boot up time.
  • Toss out pens, highlighters, and permanent markers that no longer work. Why would you need them?
  • Clean out your glove compartment. I had to do this regularly because my glove box would be stuffed to the gills with napkins, straws, plastic utensils, coupons, car repair receipts, hand wipes, salt and pepper packets, and who knows what else.

If you know you need to get organized, don’t procrastinate by waiting until you can “find more time.” Do what you can with the time you have. I’m sure you have a little wiggle room somewhere. Many of the suggestions above save you time in the long run. Conserving energy by washing clothes when you have a full loads is a responsible thing to do – and also cuts down on how often you have to spend your time doing laundry! When you have five minutes to get out the door to work, being able to grab a pair of socks instead of having to look for a match gives you time to take yourself a quick lunch. And when a police officer pulls you over for speeding, you won’t be embarrassed when a bunch of stuff comes tumbling out of your glove box as you search for your insurance papers. I’ve had a speeding ticket and an avalanche of napkins. I don’t judge – this is a safe place.

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I am the official Queen of Multi-tasking. Sure, it’s a self appointed title, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. I don’t know if it is the world we live in today, if its just something that is prevalent in my generation, or just my personality, but I feel like multi-tasking is in my blood.

If you peered into my window at home (please don’t) on some random weekday evening, you’d find the TV (or my iPod) playing, while I toggle back and forth between reading things online and checking emails. I’ll also be checking my voicemails and writing notes on who to call back. I will start some to-do list in between firing off several text messages and a couple of IMs.

I’m usually pretty proud of myself for being able to pull this off.

I do believe that multi-tasking is a great skill to master, and it is especially helpful if you are someone who runs a front office or if you act as a project manager which is something I do. I have to jump back and forth between calling people back as soon as possible so I don’t miss deals or clients, handling email, scheduling things that come up as a result of those emails and phone calls, plan, research, and execute. If you couldn’t multi-task, you’d probably fall apart.

But in today’s fast paced society where we tend to focus on instant gratification, a lot gets lost in our shuffling around. We work on a million different things at once and then at the end of the day wonder what we’ve done or where the time went. How many times at the end of the day have you thought “did I accomplish anything today?”

When we multi-task, we feel like we are really awesome for being able to handle so many things and so much information at once. In reality, when we engage in multi-tasking, we’re diluting our attention – so rather that one task or project getting your full attention at the time, 10 or 15 little tasks get incredibly low amounts of attention. Sometimes we lose track of the details – and details put together make up the larger picture. I believe that focusing on one thing at a time, and seeing it through to completion is likely to get a project done faster. Often times, multi-tasking just delays the completion of multiple projects – because they are ALL in a constant state of being worked on. I think I’d rather have one thing completed and scratched off my list than 10 things “in progress” carrying over from day to day.

When we are jerking our attention from one thing or another, we’re also more likely to allow interruptions from other people, which can further delay getting things done. We lose our concentration and have to figure out where we left off, or we take on whatever project Jim just dropped on our desk and increase the amount of projects we’re half working on.

Stop. Slow down. Deeeeeeeeeeep breath. Focus. Reassess.

Make a list of things to be done, preferably in priority order if you have things that need to get done by a certain hour or a specific day. It is likely that some of the things on your list will have various steps to completion, so group those things together. If you aren’t a list maker (even I have my phases of interest in them), just be aware of your behavior. Are you jumping from task to task? When the phone rings while you’re washing the dishes, do you answer? Pretty much everyone has voicemail now. Call the person back later. You’ll be more relaxed for the call, knowing the chore is complete. Flip that around – has a friend called you for advice? Sit down, listen to what s/he has to say, provide your insights, be a good friend, and tackle the dishes when the call is over.

Try, at least for a while, to focus on one thing at a time. It can be tough, especially for us “multi-task or die!” kind of people, but it sure does relieve some pressure, and at the end of the day, can probably help you feel a little more successful too.

Day One: Consider: What kind of clutter do you have in your life?

Day Two: Clear the walkways in your home or office.

Day Three: Clear the clutter off your dining/kitchen table or nightstand.

Day Four: Get rid of old invitations, cards, address books…

Day Five: Clean out your fridge (and freezer).

Day 6: Get rid of old periodicals.

Day 7: Meditate or read something inspirational.

Day 8: Toss items that have negative associations.

Day 9: Say no to something (or someone).


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Have you noticed how easy it is to say “yes”?

Have you noticed how hard it is to say “no”?

I have never really thought of myself as a yes person until recently.

Yes, I can help you with that. Yes, I’ll be there. Yes, I can take on this project. Yes, I can put a few more hours in. Man, I’m tired!

We directly agree to a lot of things. But have you also considered the things you indirectly say yes to?

Yes, I will respond to business related emails 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Who needs one entire day off from anything work related? It’s just a few emails. Yes, I will continue to allow you to take advantage of me.

Sometimes, we say yes to things because, sure, we really do want to be there or we really would love to help (and have the time available to do so). But, if we are honest with ourselves, there are a lot of things we say yes to because it’s easier than saying no. It’s easier to say yes than to see the disappointment on the other person’s face. It’s easier to say yes because you feel like it’s your job. Sometimes we don’t say no out of fear of the unknown – what will the person say? What will the person do? What will happen as a result of me saying no.

Saying no can definitely be freeing – it can free up your mind, your schedule, your spirit. And you don’t always have to use the word “no.”

Thank you for the invitation, but I’m not available that night. I’m I won’t be able to handle that in the time frame you need. I can handle it next week, or perhaps there is someone else who can help you this week who is more available than I am. No, I will not allow you to treat me this way.

If you really don’t want to attend that event, politely decline. If you don’t want to assume responsibility for a certain part of a project because it will encroach on your personal time or space, suggest another person the task can be delegated to.

Learn to say no. I’m learning…help me feel like I’m not the only one! 🙂

Today: Say no to something or someone.

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Day One: Consider: What kind of clutter do you have in your life?

Day Two: Clear the walkways in your home or office.

Day Three: Clear the clutter off your dining/kitchen table or nightstand.

Day Four: Get rid of old invitations, cards, address books…

Day Five: Clean out your fridge (and freezer).

Day 6: Get rid of old periodicals.

Day 7: Meditate or read something inspirational.

Day 8: Toss items that have negative associations.


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Holding on to things that bring up memories of unpleasant situations, experiences, and people, cause us (whether we know it or not), to keep that negative association in the back of our brain. And when it’s there – who knows what can happen? We can either become annoyed without thinking about, feel sad remembering someone who hurt us, or even angry at someone we feel acted inappropriately.

Before I became a Professional Organizer, I had an organizer by my place. I gave her a tour and talked about different areas of my place. She noticed a framed handmade drawing that had a shelf all to itself. She asked who drew it – I mentioned that an ex did, but we were still friends (at the time). She pointed out that by having it, and having it in a place of honor like that, I’d constantly be thinking about that relationship, the way I wished things were, and the way they REALLY were. At the time, I viewed the picture as just a wonderful memento of how much someone valued me. But then I realized how true it was – I’d look at it every day, and think “why didn’t things work out?” That’s no way to move on and move forward! In that frame of mind, no one new could come into my life and no new healthy relationship could form.

Most of us have these kind of things around, but we probably just don’t think about it. What things are you holding on to that have negative associations?

Day One: Consider: What kind of clutter do you have in your life?

Day Two: Clear the walkways in your home or office.

Day Three: Clear the clutter off your dining/kitchen table or nightstand.

Day Four: Get rid of old invitations, cards, address books…

Day Five: Clean out your fridge (and freezer).

Day 6: Get rid of old periodicals.

Day 7: Meditate or read something inspirational.


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I will be the first to admit – I am not good at meditating. Quieting my mind in general is a big challenge for me, but something I am actively working on. I do, however, believe in the value of meditation. I believe it’s definitely something that takes a lot of discipline. So, while doing it for 10 minutes today might not bring a world of improvements to your life, perhaps 10 minutes a day every day will, don’t you think?

I’ve heard it said that it takes 21 days for a habit to stick. Whether that exact number of days is right on the money or not, the idea is that you can’t reasonably expect something new to stick on day one. It takes practice and dedication – yes, sometimes forcing yourself to do it – until it just becomes something you do without thinking about it. Example: me turning on the morning news and booting up my computer as soon as I get out of bed. I don’t think about it – I just do it.

If meditation isn’t for you, trying reading something that will motivate or inspire you. I’m good at that one. One book I like is called Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much. Yeah, that’s me. Each daily entry has a quote, a paragraph or two on the focus for the day, and a positive affirmation at the bottom. I also like to read interesting blogs, like the one Jonathan Mead maintains. Just generally speaking, I like to read things that spark my creativity or lift my spirits. Sometimes, it’s just a funny or thought provoking quote that pops up on the top of my Gmail screen. All of it helps me.

Find what inspires or motivates you. Find what helps you get through the day. Make it part of your daily routine.

Day One: Consider: What kind of clutter do you have in your life?

Day Two: Clear the walkways in your home or office.

Day Three: Clear the clutter off your dining/kitchen table or nightstand.

Day Four: Get rid of old invitations, cards, address books…

Day Five: Clean out your fridge (and freezer).

Day 6: Get rid of old periodicals.


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Ever heard the term “old news”?

Well, if you’ve got a collection, it might be time to part with some of it.

Get rid of old periodicals and other reference materials you no longer use. Especially gossip magazines. If that’s your choice of reading material, just keep in mind – it changes every day and you can get most of that information online.

I firmly believe that you have to get rid of the old to make room for the new. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in the past. If you want room for new information, ideas, and inspiration, make a little room by getting rid of some of those outdated magazines and newspapers you have around.

One of my favorite things a client has said to me is, “Real Simple is making my life real complicated.” And then she proceeded to donate and recycle all of her magazines.

Day One: Consider: What kind of clutter do you have in your life?

Day Two: Clear the walkways in your home or office.

Day Three: Clear the clutter off your dining/kitchen table or nightstand.

Day Four: Get rid of old invitations, cards, address books…

Day Five: Clean out your fridge (and freezer).


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You can’t eat that cheese forever.

Just because you froze it, don’t think it has the same shelf life as spam. (USDA info on freezing)

Throw out that left over chow mein after a couple of days. Your milk is only good a few days after the sell by date – please don’t wait until it starts to get chunky.

When it comes to food that perishes quickly (a week or less), don’t purchase more than you can feasibly eat in a week.

And please – if any of your food has green spots on it that weren’t there when you bought it – throw it out immediately.

Day One: Consider: What kind of clutter do you have in your life?

Day Two: Clear the walkways in your home or office.

Day Three: Clear the clutter off your dining/kitchen table or nightstand.

Day Four: Get rid of old invitations, cards, address books…


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