Archive for Get Organized

Summertime is a Great Time to Get Organized

Here in the Northern Hempisphere are celebrating the first day of summer – warm beautiful days and lots of hours of sunlight – so let’s get organized.

For some people, their business slows down in the summer and this can be a great opportunity to get your business organized.  For others this may be their busy time, so best to be as organized as possible.

If you get organized now, imagine how much you could possibly increase your productivity and income by the end of the year.

Schools Out For The Summer

The kids are out of school, so take advantage of their skills.  Younger kids may be able to help you with various projects, but the older kids – high school and college – are very computer savvy, use this readily available labor force.

You can make use of your own children, you can farm in family and friends kids, post ads at the local college job boards.  They are out there, go and find them.

But wait, before you hire them, know what you want to hire them for.

Do you need to get your documents into organized folders, with logical file names.  Do you need to have them organize your photos, separate work and not work, etc.  Do you have multiple websites or businesses that they can organize?  Do you need receipts entered into a spreadsheet or accounting software?  Just make sure you decide what you want before you officially hire anyone.

Remember to be careful if you are hiring college students, this is your home and your business, make sure to protect both.

Once you have this wonderful team of summertime organizers you can focus on planning your next business steps so that your year ends on a high note.

Have Fun In the Sun

It is still summer and you may want to take some time off and catch some rays.  I don’t expect you to spend all summer inside getting organized – that actually sounds more like punishment – just to remind you of all those opportunities while they are available.

I’m Lori Winslow, the Organized Solopreneur.  I help solopreneurs get their business and their life organized.  To get started, pick up a copy of my Top 10 Ways to Get Your Solopreneur Business Organized.

How to Handle Old Habits Creeping Back Into Your Life

No matter how good your plan is, you might find that after a few weeks you let old habits slide back into your life. Or, perhaps something threw you off your game plan, such as illness or an emergency. However it happens, you find yourself back into your old habits of being a disorganized solopreneur.  Here are some tips to get you back in the game:

  • You Have Choices — Remember that you’re not without choices in your life. You can choose to let this slip up derail you completely or you can remind yourself why you wanted to get organized in the first place. And also learn from the experience, why did you fall back into your bad habits, in other words, what was working and what wasn’t working?  Make adjustments and keep moving forward.
  • Be Honest With Yourself – Were you committed to your plan, or were you expecting failure? Are there some changes you can make?  Are there other factors at work?  Are you over tired?  Are you eating right?   What caused you to go back to your old ways of procrastinating and being disorganized?
  • Start Small – If you were simply overwhelmed with all that you want to accomplish, take a step back. Find one small area that you think you can get done in a small time frame, a few hours or 1 day, whatever works for you.  Now schedule the time to work on only that area until it is done – and don’t procrastinate, sit down ready to work.  Set a timer and see how quickly you can finish.  Offer yourself a treat if you beat you estimated time, whatever will make it fun for you do it.  In the words of Nike, Just Do It.
  • Go Back to Your Calendar – Time it the one resource we can’t get more of. Make sure you are where you are supposed to be when you said you were going to be there.  Using a calendar system is the best way to make sure this happens.  If you’ve been writing things in it, even just a few random things here and there, then you already have a start.  If you are not using a calendar system, start today.  I personally using Google Calendar, and love the convenience of having it available on all my devices.
  • Let Go – Take a deep breath. You didn’t get disorganized overnight, you won’t become organized overnight either.  You will make bad choices, you won’t follow through with a system you set up.  Don’t beat yourself up. The important thing is that you’re trying.  Remember: Baby steps will get you there just as easily as leaps and bounds.
  • Do What Works — If you’ve discovered a way to do something that works, stick to it. I’ve said this already, but it is so important it gets its own bold heading. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel. If it works, stick to it. Watch and make sure it is really working and not just a clever way to disguise more procrastinating.  And build on your success, pay attention to what is working and why.  And then how can you apply those ideas to other areas of your life and business that are also disorganized?

The fact is, starting is half the battle.  Even if all you do is start with something small like filling in your calendar, or cleaning off your desk.

You have taken the first step, just by reading this far.  You know you want to be organized, so start today and build on each success, before you know it you won’t even recognize the disorganized solopreneur you used to be.

The 3 Most Common Reasons Procrastination is Keeping You Disorganized

As a procrastinator, it’s important for you to find out why you procrastinate, if you hope to change the behavior and become an organized solopreneur.

Now, almost everyone suffers from procrastination tendencies in at least one aspect of their lives, whether it’s getting work done, doing household chores, or going to the gym.

Wouldn’t it be great if we procrastinated about eating that delicious chocolate brownie as much as we do about writing that blog post?

The truth is, when you procrastinate, you’re getting some sort of payoff for the behavior.

You’re avoiding the pain of right now.

Maybe you realize that it may cause pain later, but you put that out of your mind. Think about that the next time you decide to put something off until later.

Now some of the most common reasons that people procrastinate are:

Fear of Failure

This is the most obvious reason people procrastinate. The fear that you won’t succeed is so strong that you’d rather not try at all. Your mind tells you that you’re not a failure because you didn’t do it yet.

Many people who fear failure have perfectionist tendencies. Perfectionism is really just a cover and an excuse for the fear of failure.

Fear of Success

Believe it or not, some people procrastinate due to a fear of success, the inverse of fear of failure. If you have an innate feeling that you don’t deserve success and lack confidence in your ability to continue being successful, you will procrastinate.

You have a tendency to look so far ahead you already know that once you are on top, it’s harder to stay on top, so why get to the top at all?

Fear of being able to repeat success can block you from ever experiencing success in the first place.

Addiction to the Rush

This is something that often happens to college students and other people who work with strict deadlines. They wait until the last minute and the extra adrenaline that their body produces makes them feel good, too good.

Adrenaline junkies often believe they do better work at the last minute, which could not be further from the truth. If you believe that you perform at a high level at the last minute, imagine how well you would do with a real plan of action?

Now of course there are other reasons for procrastinating, but you will often see at least some of your actions reflected in these 3 most common reaseon for procrastination.  Identifying your reason can help you identify that behavior in the moment.  If you are a perfectionist, you now need to give yourself a deadline and then meet that deadline, no matter what.  Everything could always be improved upon, but does it always need to be imporved upon, that is the real question to be asking.

Please share you procrastination struggles in the comments below or use this contact form to reach out to me privately.

Putting My Money Where My Mouth – or in this case – Where My Blog Is

As you can see if you have been visiting my site, I have been neglectful in getting regular posts up here on my blog, so I am challenging myself to post every day for the next 30 days.  I honestly have so many blog post ideas, that I have trouble deciding where to start, so today we are starting here.

If I were coaching myself at this point, I would advise me to take action, get some blog posts up an see what happens from there.  It’s good to practice, and I will get better at blogging if I continue to practice.

Honestly, my long term goals don’t include blogging on a daily basis, but I do need to develop the habit of regularly posting to my blog, and this will get those creative juices flowing and also help me be found online from all my different content.  Because as much as we bloggers like people to engage on our blogs and get conversations started, we also know that as smart and savvy business folks that blogging gives us the ability to be in many places all at the same time.

So tomorrow if you don’t see me here – make sure and call me out, here in the comments, or by using my contact form or even on Facebook.

And I would love to hear what challenges you are facing and what you are trying, or have used successfully to get you over the hump in the comments below.

 

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

I have gotten quite a bit off my to-do list in the last few days, but not all that I had planned.

The sticky notes have helped me to put on paper the thoughts in my head and that has helped me to take action.  I was always thinking of things I wanted to do, for my business and in my personal life, at the entirely wrong moment.  Now I have a place to write down what I’m thinking about and actually do some of the things on the notes.

I have always used Google Calendar and have the app on my phone.  But since I started to use the sticky notes, I have then added my plans to the calendar and I haven’t missed any time specific event since I started this process.  And while I haven’t accomplished all of the items on the sticky notes, I am better able to see where my time is being spent – a great eye opener.  I realize there are definitely times that I could be spending on my business that I’m not.

Right now my calendar is sticky not heavy at the end of the week as I move forward some of the tasks I haven’t quite gotten accomplished.

Sticky note week end heavy

A lot of the items I took care of this week were more personal than business specific, but I really feel that as solopreneurs, it is very hard to truly split the two.  I have also been more focused on my business and how I’m spending my time even though there was a more personal focus.  I truly believe that the more we accomplish in any aspect of our life has a ripple effect and gives us confidience.  So, alternatively the more you put off tasks you mean to do, the lower your self esteem plummets.

Of all my household chores, I like laundry the best, so if my laundry basket starts to overflow, it is usually a direct reflection that I’m feeling overwhelmed in other areas of my life.  So I do a load or 2 and get the pile down, and as I do the laundry I end up having the energy and desire to get other tasks done – that ripple effect.  You may not know what it is that makes your feel accomplished and can help you get over that hump, but now you know you should be paying attention and see what task you like enough to help you get that ball rolling, or those ripples rippling.

So I plan on, I accomplish more and I am learning more about myself and how I’m spending my time.  Let me know in the comments below how you are doing with your plans.

 

Time is on My Side

I have gathered up my sticky notes and pens, and pages and pages of calendars – I am ready.

This is my desk :).

This is my desk :).

Seriously, I needed to sit down and really look at where I am spending my time.  I mentioned in the previous post that I had recently gone back to work 4 days a week – almost 40 hours per week.  I really underestimated how tiring a 12 hour workday can be – I can’t guarantee I can get anything done after work on those days (big eye opener).

So while this is a sticky note method – I’m also updating my Google Calendar.  I added my new work schedule, I have been just mentally remembering not to overbook myself – this hasn’t really worked out.  Just the visual of seeing the blocks of time that are already taken up and being able to see where I have blocks of open time.  This has been the best part for me so far.  I am a winner just for what I have added to my Google Calendar to finish out the year.

I think one of the reasons, we get unorganized in the first place is lack of planning and lack of tracking.  Just putting my plans on paper has given them new life, they have dates and times attached to them.  And by using the sticky notes and Google Calendar – I can also easily make adjustments as I go along.  I’m sure there will be changes, so I really like the flexibility of this system.

One aspect that I had to change from Angela’s original plan was the ability to lay out all the calendar pages and leave them out for several days.  I don’t have a place to lay them out in the first place, so I put the pages into a 3 ring binder.  I divided the monthly pages from the weekly pages.  This way I have easy access anytime I need to add any more sticky notes.

As you can see in the picture I used the Rio De Janeiro Collection of colors from Post It Notes.  I figured this way when I buy more I’m sure I’m getting the same colors.  And by giving each area of my life it’s own color I look at my weekly schedule pages and I want to see an equal balance of the colors, not just 1 color dominating.  And if I see very little of a color, I know that is an area that needs something.  Another thing I did to help me easily remember what color I assigned to each aspect of my life, I wrote it along the edge of the sticky pad – that way I didn’t have to stop and think about whether I was using the right color or not – it was right in front of me.

If I didn’t have this challenge – presented by my coach – and perpetuated by my creating these blog posts – I may not have gotten to this project yet.  In other words, I would have kept procrastinating.  If you are putting off your next step, I encourage you to move forward and procrastinate later :).  If you want to be held accountable, just leave a comment below and I will follow up and encourage you to take that next step.

This project is not over by a long shot, I am still adding sticky notes all the time – and feeling more and more focused.  Til the next update….

How I’m Getting Time Back

I have added to many priorities in my life and feel like I’m losing my grip.  I pride myself on staying on top of my business and lately that has not been true.

So it’s time to take a step back and see what I can do to get back on track.

I am working 4 days a week outside my home.  I’m rarely posting to my blog, which I truly do so love.  I’ve not sent any new inventory to Amazon for over 2 weeks (thankfully I’m still making sales :)).  I’ve started to put back on some the weight I just worked so hard to lose, and I wasn’t really done losing weight yet either.  I’m eating on the run and making poor choices.  Now some of these are not directly related to business, but I feel that as a solopreneur everything is related.  If we are the primary aspect of our business, and our health is suffering, our work suffers.  If we are distracted by pressures in our “real lives,”  that affects our ability to focus on our business.

Okay off my soapbox.  To fix these areas of my life I know just identifing the problem is a wonderful first step.  I’m a planner, it is my nature, so I need a plan of action.   My coach Angela Wills, has a planning system she calls the Sticky Note Unstuck Method.  I’m going to use her system to create a time management schedule.  I feel that is the first step to trying to keep all my ducks in a row.  Quack Quack.mama and baby ducks walking in grass

Angela’s system uses different color sticky notes, so I have identified 5 differnet colors – so far.

Sticky_Note_Pad

  • Personal
  • Household
  • Ecommerce
  • Internet Based Business
  • Work

I like that fact that she wants this to be a fun task and use color and be creative, I want to make sure this works for me, not just copycat someone else.  When I’m away from home I’m keeping notes (physical and on my phone) to add to stickies later and place on the calendars.

This process will take time, and I will be sharing my experience with you and you can decide if you would like to try it for yourself.

Do You Use An Alarm Clock In Your Business?

I have been playing around with using more and more alarm’s as reminders in several areas of my life – including my business.

The idea developed from a podcast from Gretchin Rubin, the author of  The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun, where they talked about useing an alarm clock to go to bed, as well as to wake up in the morning. The overall goal was to improve your sleep patterns and overall happiness in life. I liked the idea and did start setting an alarm to go to bed at night – and guess what – I have been having the most amazing sleep of my life. It really worked for me. I’ll admit, I don’t always go to bed when the alarm goes off, but it reminds my every night, so I feel in control. I can go to bed or stay up a little longer, or even a lot longer.

The word control can be off-putting to some people, but the overall sensation is less chaos. I don’t suddenly realize it’s already midnight and I should have gone to bed hours ago. I tend to get lost in books and movies and loose track of time :). I’m making the decision about my actions, but my alarm reminds not to forget to make that conscious decision.

Okay so now that I’m sleeping better, I think there must be more I can do with this alarm system. But don’t go overboard, an alarm going off every 10 minutes all day every day will not make you productive or happy.

I have used the alarm system so I don’t spend too much time sitting behind my computer. When I sit down to write and concetrate on the task at hand I can write for 45 minutes tops and then the words become gibberish. I tend to stray way off topic, so I set my alarm for 30 minutes and whether I’m done or not, I stop and get up or at least switch tasks. I’m pretty sure back in school they used to teach us that 20 minutes was ideal study time and then you needed a break – guess they were right.

I also use an alarm to remind me to go back and finish the task I interuppted if I didn’t finish what I was working on. So if I’m working on a blog post and the alarm goes off signalling my 30 minutes is up and I’m not done, I set an alarm for 1-2 hours later to remind me to go back and finish what I started.

This can be accomplished using reminders, but I like the added benefit of the snooze button. I can use the snooze if I need a little bit more time, or if I don’t turn the alarm off, it goes into snooze mode and reminds me again. This has made all the difference in my keeping track off all the things I want to accomplish in a day.

take some time to discover old fashioned tag

I have been using alarms when I put in a load of laundry to remind me to go change loads. I set the alarm to remind me to give the dog his pills. I have found lots of wonderful ways to use alarms in my life and in my business, so I encourage you, if this ideal appeals to you at all, give it a try. Start small and if it feels comfortable and you feel that you are improving your efficiency add more. Don’t start off by using too many alarms, you will get overwhelmed and you not even remember why you set each alarm.

Let me know if you like this system and how it works for you in the comments below.

My Ideal Day Update

As you know I hate to-do lists, and much prefer An Ideal Day List.

binders labeled task and list

So I have been using this system for a few months now, and I still love it.  I am having a conflict about the fact that the app I’m using on my phone is called ToDoList – I may have to create my own app :).

But, I still work best with a reminder list of some kind.  I like to be able to look at a list to think about what all needs to get done and decide what I should work on next.

Some people don’t like the idea of having a less than ideal day so this tip doesn’t work for them, but if it appeals to you, I encourage you to give it a try.  And if you like the concept, tweak it to make it work for you.

I have put some priority markers for some items, such as simply placing a star next to an item on my list or sometimes I put it in my calendar to create a reminder for me.  It depends on the task and the importance of it being done.

Last week I was trying to get some work done here in my office and the priority items for that day were being thwarted by some technical problems that were beyond my control.  I had to be patient – some days I am better at this than others.

So, I turned to me list and found other tasks I was able to complete while I waited for the technological demons to depart.  It made me so happy to quickly see the other things I wanted to get done that day.  I accomplished several items and later I was able to make some progress on my initial priority project, but not as much as I had intended.

I didn’t get frustrated and quit, I readjusted and found I was very accomplished.  It felt like an ideal day, even though I didn’t actually knock everything off my list.

My point is that you need to find your small wins – celebrate those victories – and keep using what is working for you and ditch what isn’t working you and your business and your life.

If you feel like your business is out of control you may want to sign up for my free gift to you “5 Quick Fixes for Your Out of Control Business”

What Organized Really Means To Me

Too many people I talk to have this idea that to be organized you have to have everything put away in a pristine white space with labels on everything.  This is crap.

This is someone else’s vision.  You need to figure out what organized really looks like for you.  If you love color, this is a good place to start.  If you hate labels, don’t use them.

Use color if you like color.

I believe, and I teach, that being organized is being able to find what you are looking for, when you are looking for it.  If you can’t find the tools you use to run your business, then you won’t keep your customers happy for very long.  And your business is going to feel like such a drag, if you always feel behind.

Now don’t get me wrong some people thrive on stress, or at least believe they do.  If you do then you should organize your business to create productive stress, rather than let stress build up on you unexpectedly.

Personally, I like to have things labeled and so I have a label maker and use it all the time.  I like to have my business books close at hand, so I have a bookcase in my office for specifically for those selected titles.   I keep a spiral notebook next to my computer so that I can jot down ideas or any kind of notes easily.

What I really want for you is to make sure that you aren’t trying to reach someone else’s idea of being organized.  I worked with a woman several years ago that always had piles of paper all over her desk, but she could put her hands on almost anything you asked without hesitation.  Now when people looked at her desk they assumed she wasn’t organized, but I say she was – it just didn’t look “normal.”

So chaos can be okay if you can really find what you are looking for.  Just make sure you aren’t allowing a mess that isn’t productive for you.

There used to be a TV show on HGTV called “Mission: Organization” that had people come in and get people whose houses had become cluttered and get them organized.  Now they weren’t focusing on the home office, but they did sometimes do the office area.  I loved to see the before and after, but I really liked the 3 month follow up to see if they had kept up the clutter free lifestyle.  The people that did the best were the ones that continued to tweak the changes to suit their family, and they had lasting results.

So my best advice is to find what works for you and keep tweaking the areas that aren’t working for you.

I would love for you to share your experience in the comments below.