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Household items on the back of a uteThis has been a very busy month for me.  We moved house just before Christmas, so there’s a big test of my organizational skills. 

I’m happy to announce we are all in one piece and most things have found a new home in the new home. 

It’s always a great opportunity to let go of a good lot of junk as it’s uncovered in the packing and unpacking, and invariably some furniture needs changing. 

I worked my way through my change of address checklist, making a couple of phone calls each day.  There’s only so much waiting on the phone pressing 1 for this and 2 for that I can take in one hit.  I’d love to be able to say I multi task and do other things while I’m on hold, but I tend to need all my concentration to listen to the recorded messages over the sound of my little ones playing.

Three bored looking young kidsIt’s school holidays at the moment here for my older kids.  The challenge for me is to not end up feeling guilty. 

How on earth though, do we manage to not feel guilty when it’s guaranteed that at some stage during the holidays the kids will complain that they’re bored and have nothing to do. 

It’s no good telling them that when we were their age we had to make our own fun, and we certainly didn’t get driven to the pool or the roller skating rink or the zoo every day.  And it’s no good complaining to them that we have limited funds to spend on entertaining them.  They just don't get it. 

So what I do is tell them at the outset, that there will be a set amount of outings, whether it’s one or two a week, and they can each choose some.  That way my schedule and my budget are prepared, the kids know what to expect, and there’s no arguing. 

The other days they are welcome to get together with friends or do things that don’t cost money, and if there’s driving involved for me, there’s a limit, and I don’t guarantee being able to if given no notice. 

We have some visits lined up with family and friends as well, and hey, we parents are allowed to have some time to ourselves too.

Woman hard at work interrupted by the phoneIt's great having routines in place and our own systems for being organized, both at home and at work.  But how do you deal with interruptions and things that throw you off course?  An unexpected phone call, a breakdown (your car, your washing machine, you!)  Well, you identify it as a situation where you have to make a decision, and as much as possible you do that decision making in advance, in other words, you allow for interruptions and decide how you will deal with them at different times.

Some interruptions, like your car breaking down, just have to be accepted.  There's no point stressing, you just get on the phone if you can and let whoever needs to know what's happened. 

Analogue alarm clock in a boxLately I've been reading that time is a constructed concept, that it doesn't really exist and so on.  That may well be so, but I also believe that if you're aware of the balance of how you spend your time, you can get more done and enjoy your life more.

In my e-book I talk about spending a pre determined amount of time on a task and sticking to that as a regular habit, rather than continuing with it until it's ‘done’.  Some things are just never done are they, and there are other things that need our attention too, so you've got to draw a line, prioritize and plan.

Don't fall asleep on me here, words like time management, prioritize and plan make me want to check the pantry for chocolate biscuits too.  These kinds of terms are used a lot in a business sense, but we can apply them to our personal lives too, without it being boring or tedious.  In fact if you learn to think like this, life becomes more fun and less stressful.

Mouse with a piece of Swiss cheeseA lot of readers tell me their biggest hurdle in getting organized is motivation.
 
Do you feel like your motivation is something that’s out of your control?  I know exactly how you feel.  But I have to keep telling myself that it’s not true. 
 
You can control your own motivation, and all it takes is increasing your level of interest and awareness in what affects it.  If you care about improving your motivation, you can.  And I’m not talking about listening to some ra ra motivational hype.
 
Motivation is not going to come from outside of you.  Not the right kind anyway.  Nobody can give it to you.  Sure, when you’re exposed to people who are very positive and inspiring, you will feel a temporary lift.  And certainly being around people who are positive and inspiring will do you good. 

Digital personal organizerPlanning is one of the most important things you can do for becoming organized.  It can be difficult to do, and it can be difficult to carry out your plans once they’re made.  We can fix that…

The better and more carefully made your plans are, the easier it is to carry them out. 

What is it that prevents you from carrying out plans you’ve made?  I find it’s usually a feeling of indecision; not being completely sure that it’s the right plan, not enough detail about how or when or what steps are required in carrying out the plan, basically a plan that hasn’t been properly thought through.


Planning is a skill.  It’s something you get better at the more you practice it.  And it’s not something that’s ever finished.  As you get on with your life, there are always new plans to be made, whether it’s your grocery list for the week or what you want to achieve in your life this year.

So, it needs to be done regularly.  If you incorporate regular planning sessions into your life, that is, make it part of your routine, whether it’s daily or weekly or both, you will form a very useful lifetime habit and develop a skill which will help you stay organized and achieve what you want in your life.

An obvious place to start is to look at what you want to get done for the week ahead.  If you have a To Do list or a task list, make sure you’re choosing the most important items to get done first, and be realistic about how much time you will need to get the items done.

Spend your planning time, not just noting down in your planner, diary or calendar what tasks you want to do this week, or tomorrow, but thinking about how you will do them, how long they will take, what resources you need and so on.  Make sure they’re realistic, and that you’re setting yourself up to succeed.  If you’re not sure you can do it, set a smaller more manageable task.

It’s also valuable to spend some of your planning time reviewing your goals.  Imagine achieving them, what steps you will take to achieve them, enjoying those steps and feeling confident about them; enjoying both the process and the end result.  Identify as many specific, smaller tasks and steps you can complete which will take you towards your goal.  Think about why you want to achieve it.

Planning time is also the time to review your ever changing list of things to do and keep it organized.  Your list may need separating into categories, for example to ensure you are balancing the time you spend in different areas.

Your lists also need prioritizing.  You may think it’s pointless constantly re-writing lists, but actually, it’s a really good way of constantly re-evaluating which items are most important in relation to the others.  Number them in order of priority, and as you go to your list to choose the next item to attend to, you can go straight to number 1 instead of re-thinking the whole list again and worrying about it.

If you know you’re doing the most important things, that cuts out a whole lot of potential guilt and worry.

Planning is about decision making.  If you make decisions in an orderly and consistent way, it’s easier to actually make them instead of just ‘going with the flow’, and it’s easier to have confidence in your decisions.

Make planning time a regular part of your routine, with a set time limit on it of course, and your life will magically feel more organized.

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Man at work in an office about to throw a paper planePutting things off to do ‘later’ is something we’re all familiar with, some of us a little too familiar with perhaps.  It’s certainly one of my main struggles.

So why do we do it?  It’s a complicated topic, because there are all sorts of reasons, such as:

- We think the task will be unpleasant

- We would rather be doing something more pleasant

- We don’t know how to do the task

- We don’t know why to do the task

- We think it will take too long

- We’re not sure if we should do the task

- We think it will be difficult

- We’re afraid of failing at it

- Shock horror - it could even be that we're afraid of succeeding at it.

Gee, all of that.  And you thought it was just because you’re lazy?  Nope, that’s not it.  Seriously, I don’t believe in laziness.  I think what often seems like laziness is often a lot more involved.

What do you do when you’re not doing something you ‘should’ be doing anyway?  You might keep watching TV or surfing the net, or you might actually be working diligently at something else, something also useful and important, as a way of avoiding the thing you’re avoiding.  Sometimes you may be so set on avoiding something that you actually accomplish an amazing amount of other stuff, which is pretty funny.

But eventually, we do want to get that thing done.  We’d just probably rather that somebody else did it. 

Woman at a fork in the roadFeeling indecisive contributes to disorganization and vice versa.  To be organized is going to involve making some decisions, and making decisions is not always an easy thing to do - especially if your state of mind is fuddled by disorder.

Here is a very basic framework for decision making:-

- Firstly, recognize when a decision needs to be made.  This is not as simple as it sounds.  Sometimes we feel stuck and unable to get on with things, and it hasn’t even registered that the reason for the hold up is that a decision is required.  To do this, we can ask ourselves, “what’s happening now?  What am I doing?”

- Often when we find ourselves in a position where we think a decision is required, it is not.  What may be required instead is to remember and recognize that we have already made a decision. 

Clear plastic storage boxWhether you should be storing something or not is another subject, but assuming the stuff is worth keeping, sometimes you might be wondering where the best place to put something is.  How do you decide where and how to store your stuff around the home?

These are the desired outcomes:

- You want the place to look neat, tidy and un-cluttered.

- You want to be able to find things easily.  Really easily.  Instantly even.  No thinking or wondering, you know where everything is.

- You want to be able to get to things easily – no rummaging, scrounging, piling, sorting, lifting, climbing etc. 

- You want things where they won’t get damaged.

- You want everything up off the floor so you can clean easily.

Writing a To Do listLooking for a way to avoid actually doing things?  There are two great solutions:  meetings and lists.  In this article I’m just going to discuss lists though, specifically the To Do list.  We’ve all got one, even if it’s just mentally and not written down.

Yes, lists can just be an avoidance tactic, but they can also be a very useful tool for being organized if you use them effectively.

My definition of an item for the To Do list is anything which is not part of your normal routine.  Writing this article is not on my To Do list, because I write it every two weeks, so it’s a routine task.  I set it as a repeated event on my calendar, so I can easily see when it’s due.

Brass scalesLife is full of decision making, and one type of decision we need to make constantly is what to do next.  Which of the tasks we have decided to complete takes priority?  What is the most important thing to do next?  What order should we do things in?

Just a clarification before I go on.  I’m not talking about regular, routine daily tasks.  There are some things we need to do every day as part of our routine, and that’s a different topic.  I’m talking about To Do list items, tasks you are going to allocate a block of time to attend to.

So backing up your computer, for example, should be part of your routine, not a To Do item.  (Note to self).

In the last article about To Do lists, I talked about taking the top 10 or 20 items and numbering them in order of priority.  Well, how do we do that exactly?  It can be quite difficult to decide what the most important things are.  You might feel all the items are important, or you wouldn’t have bothered writing them down.

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Anshula Ohri, Toronto,
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"Before I met Yvette I had many opportunities in front of me but I was feeling overwhelmed and I had no confidence in making the decisions.  I was feeling stuck and confusedd.  My career has progressed in a positive direction and I am now functioning better in physical and emotional health.  Thank you Yvette for your help.  This was one of the best decisions I have ever made."

 

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Western Australia

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Lynne from Lowood,
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"I consider myself very fortunate having chosen Yvette for coaching.  It has turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. I started from a place where I was stuck in procrastination and everything seemed so overwhelming that I didn't really know where to start.  I love the freedom and empowerment I now feel.  Yvette's methods are personalised and very effective.  I have looked forward to every coaching sesssion."

Heather
Melbourne, Australia

"Yvette is a great coach who inspires you to overcome the obstacles that she finds in working with you.  She is highly motivated and has worked hard to increase her knowledge in many areas that in turn help her clients.  Yvette draws on her own real life experience adn studies to help those of us who have to juggle many responsibilities and mangage the conflicts in thinking that come from that.  I am looking forward to working with Yvette again in the near future"

Liz Jarvis, CSI Business Solutions, 
NSW, Australia

"Through my coaching experience with Yvette I was able to shift my awareness onto my value system as opposed to staring at my circumstances each day and feeling pulled in a hole.  It's powerful because I want meaning, I want to live up to my values and what's right and good for me!  So, I truly learned the value of letting go and receiving the abundance of knowledge for every situation that gives life, love and meaning to who I am and what I can do, with this fearless self awareness."

Keri, 
New York, USA

"Yvette.  Many thanks for a wonderful experience... Our sessions were productive, really interesting adn I so looked forward to them each week with anticipation of what I can learn about myself and my behaviours.  Every session seemed to flow right on topic of what was present in my relaity at the time and your effortless guiding of my strategies never ceased to amaze me.  I highly recommend you as a life coach and thank you again for the experience."

M Shears, 
Melbourne, Australia

"I really questioned my future career ambitions and thanks to Yvette I changed direction from something I felt I had to do, to something I know I will love to do.  I was stuck on this topic for quite some time and Yvette really helped me shed light on this.  I changed the MBA I signed up for and feel excited about my careeer and all the opportunities in the future."

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Wollongong, Australia