Wednesday, January 26, 2011

4 Reasons to Love Lists

Hi everyone! We're getting yet another snow storm here in Boston - I don't know whether I'm over it or used to it yet.

If you read the last post about 5 minute fillers, you know that a key part of this strategy is making a list. Organized people, especially professional organizers, are often known for their list-making, sometimes to the point of being made fun of by other less-list-inclined friends and family. Before you poke fun at your list-making friends, consider the many benefits of making a list...

1) The most obvious and well-known benefit is that lists help you remember things! A basic example of this is a grocery list - have you ever tried to grocery shop without a list and come home without something you need? I have!

2) Making lists also helps you clear the clutter from your head so you can focus on other more important things rather than trying to keep track of all your to-do's like little sticky notes floating around your brain. Spending 5 minutes each day downloading the to-do's in your head to a list, whether you prefer paper or electronic, can help stop you from waking up in the middle of the night thinking about what you need to remember tomorrow! Speaking of, that's a great activity to add to your 5 minute fillers list :)

3) Lists can help you structure your time efficiently. If you can see what you need to do, it is easier to prioritize and plan your day so the most important tasks get taken care of. The 5 minute fillers list is a great example of using a list to help you use your time efficiently.

4) And last but not least, if you have a list, you get to cross things off of it! Ok, I'll admit, I've gone back and added things to a list, just to have the sense of accomplishment of crossing them off. And yes, this is often why list-makers get made fun of, but there is truly some benefit to knowing how you're spending your time and seeing what you've accomplished. For one thing, it just feels good to get things done, but this benefit can also help you improve your time management skills since it helps you get a better sense of what you can realistically get done during your day.

Bottom Line: Don't dismiss the power of lists! They are a simple strategy that can help you remember what you need to get done, clear your head, use your time efficiently, and know what you got done.

By the way, for those who joined me on the 5 minutes fillers list challenge, I was pretty pleased with my progress. I completed about 75% of the tasks I'd put on my list in only a couple days and also completed several other nagging tasks along the way. Now I'll admit, there are a few items from the original list that are yet to be completed, but overall I like this strategy. I have no doubt that it increased my 'spare time' productivity and helped me get more done than if I didn't have the list to rely on. I plan to keep up this practice and make it a habit - how about you?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Getting Things Done...5 Minutes at a Time

Do you ever feel like you have so much to do that when you have 5 or 10 minutes of 'spare' time, you have no idea what to start with and you end up doing nothing?! Well, you're not alone. I just read a great list of dozens of things you can do when you find yourself with a few extra minutes in this month's Real Simple magazine - part of their 'Get it Together Handbook.'

While not all of the items will fit your needs, I certainly found plenty of items I could act on when my next 5 free minutes pops up. In fact, I was so inspired that I quickly went through my house with a notebook and made my own personalized list...and guess what, it only took me about 5 minutes! Here's my list - maybe it will inspire you to act during your next free moment...

My 'Five Minute Fillers' List
  • Shred old receipts.
  • File 3 items in To File folder.
  • Tackle 1 item in To Do folder.
  • Put away new holiday gifts and recycle boxes.
  • Wipe off kitchen counters.
  • Review and purge clipped recipes.
  • Make grocery and household items shopping list.
  • Package gift to mail out.
  • Fill out birthday cards and prep to mail.
  • Put boots away and vacuum sand from boot tray.
  • Wipe down bathroom surfaces.
  • Vacuum couches.
  • Put away remaining holiday wrapping supplies.
  • Water plants.
  • Iron shirts.
  • Change pillow cases.
  • Review and purget 3 files.
  • Transport donations to car.
  • Write holiday thank you notes.
  • Clean up email inbox.
My challenge to you (and me): make your own 'five minute filler' list, post it somewhere prominent, and see how many things you can get done over the next week when a spare moment pops up. You will get a great burst of momentum from accomplishing those small, sometimes nagging, chores. Then make it a habit by refreshing your list each week and continuing the momentum - you'll get so much done you won't know what to do with yourself! But let's not get ahead of ourselves...let's take this one 5-minute burst at a time...I'll be right there with you!

Bottom Line: Don't waste your precious free time trying to decide what to do. Set yourself up for success by posting your 'five minute filler' list and get to it next time you've got 5 minutes to spare. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Get Organized Today!

Happy 2011! If you're like many people, 'Get Organized' might be on your priority list for the new year. January is the perfect time for a fresh start and it also happens to be the official Get Organized (GO) Month. So what better time to get started on your organizing goals than now?! If you're not sure where or how to get started, here are some tips:

  1. Start Small! Don't look at your whole house, or office, or life as a hopeless organizational disaster - you will be instantly overwhelmed and probably won't make any progress. Instead, pick a room, or a closet, or even a drawer to start with. And ditch the all or nothing attitude - small victories lead to big success!
  2. It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be good enough. Organizing does not necessarily mean ending up with a house that looks like it could be in a magazine. It means having systems and storage that make your life easier and contribute to the vision you have for your space. It's often a good idea to test out a new system using containers/storage you already have - if it works well and you want to upgrade to something that looks better, go for it.
  3. When in doubt, label it. If you are boxing items in a storage place like the basement, attic or even closets, don't pretend you will remember what you put in there when you need to get it back out. Do yourself a favor and label it! Clear containers also help, but even those should be labeled. If you share your space with others, labeling can help keep everyone on the same page even with day-to-day items. Just think, you won't have to answer "Where's the____?" ten times a day.
  4. If you're overwhelmed, get help. Staying organized is a huge challenge with the busy schedules and over-stuffed spaces we live with today. That's why there are professional organizers to help you dig out and get to the life you want to live. And it's not just a one-time fix - we can teach you the skills to keep your space organized for good!
Bottom Line: Take advantage of the January fresh-start spirit and take a step toward a more organized life today!