Thursday, January 20, 2011

keeping our heads on straight...good ideas

well, today seems like as good a day as any to talk about getting and staying organized. this morning, i left half my breakfast on my vanity, my blackberry in the bathroom, my glasses on the counter of the coffee shop, the ring guard that keeps my rings on securely somewhere in the house...and that was all before 7:30. needless to say, my day is a little off kilter.

so it's ironic, and quite useful, that i have these tips to share with you - don't worry, they're not from me (clearly), they're from the contributors to this month's better homes and gardens feature on getting organized for the new year, which i strangely can't find a link to on their website. anyway, it's part of their highly useful series of 25 ways you can do ___, or 25 ideas for ___...and the magazine is so cheap that it's a great one to pick up sometimes.

the best tips i picked up, and they are REALLY good ones, were these which i'm paraphrasing:
  • clean out your bag each night , making you ready to start each day fresh. it's so simple, but so good. sometimes i do this on the train, even in the morning, and it serves the same purpose. there's something just so good about knowing you're not carrying around any extra garbage, and everything is in its place.
  • limit your to-do list to a few items you can get accomplished TODAY. this one, to me is genius. i have a running to-do list, some of which is from the summer. clearly, many of those items aren't time sensitive, they just need to be done at some point. but it's true that when i flip to that section of my filo (yes, i'm still all about paper in this regard), i see an endless list and i'm sort of desensitized to it. i've taken this piece of advice to heart and implemented a post-it strategy. each morning (also on the train), i extract three items from the longesttodolistever and write them on the post-it - those are my goals for TODAY. so rather than a TO DO list, it's a TODAY list. i have already found i get more done that way, and enjoy a feeling of accomplishment and control which, really, is the whole point of a to do list in the first place. as i complete each day's tasks, i mark them as done on the bigger list, and choose the next three for tomorrow.
then, a segment on my new favorite the nate berkus show also comes to mind...he had a woman on who is a procrastinator and is, naturally, totally overwhelmed by the monumental tasks before her like going through her mail, checking her voicemail and decorating her daughter's bedroom. although those are sort of pedestrian tasks, it's easy to understand how they could become very daunting when left undone and how you could develop a lot of anxiety about having to do them.

the main suggestion of nate's expert was to break down each task into smaller tasks so they'd be more achievable and less overwhelming. this sounds so obvious, and it is in a way, but it's really quite perfect. rather than stressing about decoratingherdaughtersroom, today's task would be to go to a paint store and pick up some swatches and decide on a color. then tomorrow, look at furniture options online. suddenly, it's not only manageable, but could actually be pleasant! this dovetails nicely with the to do list suggestion from BHG and really has the potential to turn into a way of life.

i love getting good advice, and i love passing it on.


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