Committee meetings have had the same agenda ever since cavemen decided to pull up rocks around a large rock table and discuss the yearly mammoth hunt. When I entered the world of work, I spent countless hours of my life around a table while discussing new business and old business. I like to move forward when possible, so I have a low tolerance for old business.
To me, old business winds up being the stuff we’ve left undone, undecided, and unbudgeted. But over in our personal lives, we can find ourselves surrounded with old business. During my recent birthday weekend, I was looking around and spied several unfinished, non-urgent tasks, ones that I’ve put off or kept forgetting to do despite their prominence on the to do list. I decided to give myself a birthday gift – to finish the pesky old business lingering at home. I wanted to clear the decks as much as possible as I enter a new year.
Here are just a few things on my old business list:
- Mail overdue thank you present to a colleague.
- Buy a rose tree to replace the dead stick in my front yard.
- Pull up the dead stick and plant the new rose tree.
- Send a sympathy card to a friend.
- Update photos of the nieces and nephews on my wall gallery.
- Call the tile guy about installing a kitchen backsplash.
With a little focus and determination (and the promise of treating myself to ice cream), I was able to work through my entire list except for calling the tile guy. It was progress, and it felt good. Old business can weigh you down and we all have some. Many of my organizing clients have old business lingering in their offices and homes. It’s the stuff that trips us up, sometimes literally.
If you have some old business, here’s how you can move it off of your agenda:
- Make a list of your old business tasks.
- Ask yourself: ”Do I still need to do this?” and ”Is this still important and necessary?” If not, forget it, let it go, and move on.
- Pick the most annoying item on your list.
- Do it.
- Reward yourself. You deserve it.
- Repeat until your list is completed.
Did you know that you can use the warmer temperatures to be more productive? Here are three ways spring weather can help you get more done:
1. Harness the power of nature’s cycles.
Winter is often associated with a sense of barrenness. In many spiritual traditions, winter is a time for going inside – physically as well as mentally. It can be thought of as a time of being introverted or spending more time in meditation, prayer, or in solitude.
Spring, on the other hand, symbolically stands for new birth, a time of renewal, or starting over. Whether we like it or not, the animal part of our being does have certain rhythms or patterns it tends to follow year after year. Just like the birds that return after being away for the winter, or the flowers that start to pop their heads out this time of year, there seems to be something that moves us to take action.
After being inside for the winter months, the spring weather naturally pulls us to being more involved with projects and activities that just don’t seem so interesting during the colder season. Take advantage of this natural rhythm and start your clutter clearing now!
2. Energize your body and soul with sunshine.
Spring days are longer with more minutes of sunlight every day until late June. Here are some of the reported effects of sunshine:
- Sunshine is said to help enhance your immune system.
- Sunshine helps soothe nerves and boost your mood.
- Sunshine has positive affects on depression, fatigue, insomnia, stress.
- Sunshine increases the production of endorphins and serotonin in your brain which helps you feel more positive and energized.
- Sunshine provides the body with vitamin D, essential for many body processes.
It’s much more inspiring to work in a well-lit environment than a dark, dingy one. If you’re able to pull back the curtains and let the light into the area you’re working in you’ll feel better and have a clearer view of what you’re sorting.
3. Boost your brain functions with fresh air.
If you live in a place where the house gets shut up tight during the winter you already know how wonderful it can feel to open the windows for the first time in the spring. The air tends to get stale, and depending on what kind of air system you have in your home, it often gets recycled for months at a time.
Fresh air is reported to help:
- Make you happier – More oxygen helps your body produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates learning, mood, sleep and vasoconstriction.
- Clearer thinking – Higher levels of oxygen to the brain can result in clearer thinking, improved concentration, and increased energy levels.
- Overall better health – When you breathe dirty air, your body has to work harder to get the oxygen it needs to function optimally.
These benefits are similar to some of the benefits of sunlight – if you can get fresh air (and sunlight!) into the area you’re sorting or organizing it’s possible you won’t feel so drained during and after your session.
Ready to start your clutter clearing process? Try these three tips and see how much more inspired you feel when you tackle the clutter!
One of the first thoughts that might pop into your mind when a friend or colleague starts talking about getting organized is about the piles of papers that may be littering the desk in our office, the books overflowing from the bookshelves onto the floor, or those bags of once-coveted conference giveaways which have taken up residence in the corner of the office. Scheduling time to tackle all of these types of tasks is a wise idea and will ultimately result in increased productivity.
However, there is another application for getting organized that is especially important in a business environment and is also tied to efficiency: preparing for and running a productive meeting. All of us have sat through meetings that went on much longer than necessary, when with a little advance preparation they could likely have been wrapped up in under an hour.
In today’s fast-paced, constantly connected world, it is more essential than ever that meetings are kept with a specific agenda and that the discussion remains focused. The key to doing this is a little advance preparation (here’s where the getting organized part is applied).
Here are some easy-to-apply tips for creating productive meeting agendas as well as running the subsequent meetings. Btw, I am using my own experience getting organized and running the NAPO-NY board meetings (I’m the President) as an example.
1. Keep it focused. In assessing topics for inclusion on the agenda, keep them very focused on the essential items requiring immediate attention. You may want to look to those that are deadline sensitive, “hot button” issues, or that have been sufficiently researched so that the ensuing discussion will make for a productive meeting. For example, the NAPO-NY board needed to approve a request from our 25th Anniversary committee chair by April 30. The request was about the budget for a commemorative program that is being produced. Needless to say, this topic was included on the April board meeting agenda.
2. Share key information in advance. In order to use the meeting time for productive group discussions and to make decisions, it is important to get all of the appropriate information organized and distributed to the attendees a few days in advance of the meeting so there is ample time to review it. I request that my board submit information for discussion topics in advance. I then review it to ensure that the information is clearly and completely presented so that the board will be able to make a decision with only minimal discussion.
3. Stick to the agenda. In order to be sure that there is sufficient time to address all topics on the agenda, it is essential that there are only minor additions to it during the meeting. When running the meeting, it is important to allot a specific amount of time for each of the agenda points. Understanding that the meeting attendees have blocked out a specific time slot for the meeting and being considerate of their other commitments is really key. As we have two hours allotted for our NAPO-NY board meetings, I guesstimate the amount of time that will be needed for each of the agenda points and then can pace the meeting accordingly. If we are ahead of schedule, additional time can be spent discussing an issue or a topic that wasn’t on the agenda.
4. Identify next steps. During the course of a meeting, there are typically next steps identified or decisions made as a result of the discussions. In an effort to get organized for any follow-up meetings, making note of the point person for specific tasks that are assigned during the meeting, along with the deadline for completing those tasks, is very important. For example, I am planning a retreat for my board and needed to locate a suitable meeting place for this day-long event. I made note of the three board members who volunteered to locate space for us and requested that they advise me of their findings within four days.
*Affiliate link on this page
Many thanks to Julie Gray, the author of today’s post. Check out her simple three-step process that will help you conquer procrastination.
I used to be a big-time procrastinator.
It isn’t everyday you hear that coming out of the mouth of a productivity coach, but there you have it.
I procrastinated going to bed, starting my homework, exercising, making dinner, cleaning up from dinner – you name it.
Nowadays, things have changed considerably. It has been a long journey and one I don’t think will ever truly be over. This, in and of itself, was a big shift for me – to view this process of transforming my procrastination habit as a journey. Adopting this mindset has been the number one biggest contributor to why I now call myself a “recovering procrastinator.” Real change occurs when you take it day-by-day and earn your way to a transformed life experience.
Now that I’ve clarified this critical mindset, let’s dig into how you can begin to shift your own procrastination habit.
Here is my simple three-step formula for beating procrastination:
A = Awareness
C = Chunk it down
T = Time Scheduling
“A” stands for Awareness.
There are actually two levels of awareness that will support you in this process.
The first is to get clear about your goal and commit to it. You’ve got to be aware of where you want to go in order to get there. Is it a new habit? A project at work? Not being clear about what we are working toward can be a big contributor to procrastination.
The second level of awareness is noticing when you are procrastinating in-the-moment. Catching yourself and being hyper-conscious of when this occurs will give you a major boost in the process of overcoming procrastination. Just the awareness alone – without judgment – will move you forward.
“C” stands for Chunk.
Not a pretty word, but it’s effective.
It is really important that when you are planning a project, a new habit, your goal is to Chunk It Down.
This is a HUGE reason why so many of us procrastinate. We look down at our to-do list and see “organize garage.” It can be such an overwhelming line of words that we can’t possibly figure out where to start.
David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, offers a really handy approach. When you are staring at “organize garage” on your list, you can ask yourself, “What’s the very first thing I have to do?” “What’s my next step after that?” Keep asking probing questions until you have broken down the project into micro-steps.
“T” stands for Time Scheduling.
You’ve got to schedule the time you need to fully commit to this project or goal, so put it on your calendar.
What gets scheduled, gets done. [Tweet This]
Another reason we procrastinate is because we put something on our to-do lists that we haven’t created the time to complete. In order to get something done you must commit the time to do it. The perfect time to do this is right after you’ve chunked your project down. As soon as you know the action steps, get them scheduled.
This simple process will give you an amazing sense of control and peace of mind. You will know what you are doing and when you are going to do it!
And who wants to put that off?
About the Author
After building a successful professional organizing business, Julie Gray meshed her organizing and productivity skills with her business savvy and currently teaches leaders and professionals a holistic approach to powerful and productive living that results in more time, energy, and focus.
Combining practical time-saving systems with experiential methods to accelerate habit formation, Julie helps her clients tap into their own wisdom and mindful awareness to fuel their creativity, focus their energy, and free their spirits to live aligned with who they truly are.
Greetings OTR blog readers … I hope all are well today. It’s good to be back as a contributing blogger to OTR. As some of you may recall, I was a contributing blogger here about two years ago, writing about time management and tech. When Deb asked me to contribute again, I was happy to do so. Ironically enough, I’ll start this post off with an e-mail I sent to her last night:
It’s 1:06am. I just laid my head back in this chair back, closed my eyes, and started listening to a good friend’s podcast. As many do, podcaster’s announce the date of their podcast edition in the beginning. My eyes IMMEDIATELY POPPED open and realized I didn’t send the blog post yesterday. I will send it today after church. Please forgive me.
Time Management #FAIL :-) Stay tuned…and thank you.
It’s very interesting that I did NOT add this task to my calendar a month ago because I thought I’d remember. In fact, I added it to my calendar yesterday morning, but when the alert came up, I canceled it, which resulted in the email to Deb.
Moral of the story: Using technology to manage your time and tasks works great (I can attest to it), but only when used as designed. I’ve got a busy work and personal life — I’m a husband and father of two, a software systems engineer, church musician, songwriter/producer/recording artist, head of the STEM committee at my children’s school, in a band, and have a few hobbies — so even though last night was a fail, the only way I can keep track of all of that is to really rely on a combination of time management principles and productivity apps.
Speaking of which, since I’m an iOS device user (iPhone and iPad mini), I’ll leave you with a review that I recently read about the app, Producteev. I haven’t tried that app yet, but check out the review to see if it might work for you. I’ll share my personal reviews of apps I use in upcoming posts.
Until next time, peace and blessings unto you.
“So if you like jazz, don’t listen to jazz while working, because, although that music will give you pleasure, it will also release dopamine in your brain, actually distracting you. Unfamiliar music, on the other hand, maximizes the focus effect you could get from music—extending your concentration time up to about 100 minutes.”
Choose Unfamiliar Work Music for Better Productivity and Focus | Lifehacker.com | 2.26.13
Get More Information
“In the age of endless technology, instead of being more productive, we work longer, with more distractions. By focusing on a single task, we become more productive and the quality of our work becomes higher. Once technology is added on top of our work, trying to keep up with those devices can be as addictive as cocaine.”
Working less can increase productivity | PRI.org | 2.14.13
Get More Information
“When you do the same thing for a long time, performance falls. In fact, after about 40 minutes of focus, our attention begins to wane. If you break that pattern and force yourself to think of something else very briefly, when you go back to your task you get a refreshed focus.”
Procrastination And Productivity: What Helps And What Hurts| HuffingtonPost.com | 1.31.13
Get More Information
There are many ways that you can get of track with how you well you manage your time. You might under estimate how much time you really need to complete your tasks. You might stuff your to do list with too many things. Or, you might have difficulty saying no. You may find yourself always saying yes to everyone who asks you to get involved with a new project.
The good news is that there are solutions to each of those circumstances.
1. First, you can start regularly using a timer to see how long you really need to finish your tasks. You can also keep the number of items on your to do list to a reasonable number.
2. And, instead of agreeing to every request you get, you can say yes…with conditions. This is a simple but tricky solution…and it will probably take some practice to stop yourself from automatically saying yes to everything. You’ll need to find out how much time you really have to devote to new projects. This will mean taking the time to look over your calendar and your tasks list to see if there’s any room for more stuff.
This also means saying “maybe” or “I’ll need to think about that.”
3. Finally, though it might be really hard to do, there will be times that you will need to say “no” (nicely, of course) the next time you’re asked to take on something new.
“A short afternoon catnap of 20 minutes… enhances alertness and concentration, elevates mood, and sharpens motor skills. To boost alertness on waking, you can drink a cup of coffee before you nap. Caffeine requires 20 or 30 minutes to take effect, so it will kick in just as you’re waking.”
Secrets of the Productive Nap | Inc.com | 9.6.12
Get More Information