Goal Setting, Organization

Easy Organizing: Small Projects, Many Wins!

Organized display

Getting organized is one of the top 10 most common goals every year and for good reason: everything is easier when you’re organized.

But we often tackle huge projects and end up with a bigger mess and more disorganization than we started with. Getting organized is a messy process. You pull stuff out, sort it into piles, and often get side-tracked or overwhelmed in the process. It takes a lot of self-discipline to work through the messy stages of sorting, organizing, and cleaning up of a big project to achieve the satisfaction of a well-organized space.

Instead of tackling a big organizing project like your garage, closet, office, or kid’s playroom, make it easy and go small.

Set yourself up for small wins and bask in the glow of accomplishment. Make it so easy to get organized and get the win that you can’t wait to get started. You’ll want to keep tackling the small projects because it’s easy and being organized feels sooooo good!

Here are some ideas for easy wins to help you get started. You can always tackle several projects, one after another, but you must complete one organizing task before starting another one. Remember, cleaning up and putting things where they belong is part of the task.

Tidy Up:

  • Straighten up one room.
  • Clean off your desk.
  • Straighten up your fridge or freezer.
  • Empty all wastebaskets.
  • Clear off one surface.
  • Make your bed.
  • Put away one pile of stuff.
  • Restore order in one small space.
  • Clean out your car.
  • Put your Christmas things away. Do it in chunks if it’s a big job.
  • Do one complete load of laundry: wash, dry, fold, put away.

Declutter:

  • Ask yourself these four questions:
  • Do you need it? Do you use it? Do you love it? What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen if you got rid of it and can you live with that?
  • Grab a bag and gather 27 things you can throw away or donate. Flylady calls this the 27-fling boogie!

Organize:

  • Organize one drawer, shelf, or cabinet.
  • Sort one small pile of paperwork.
  • Set up a donation box. As you come across things to donate, put them in the box.
  • Turn your hangers around in your closet. As you wear things, put them back the right way. After a few months you’ll have a good idea what you wear and what you don’t.
  • Make a meal plan for the week.
  • Check your fridge, freezer, and pantry then add necessary ingredients to your grocery list.

If tackling even a small project still feels daunting, try these tips to make it more fun and doable:

  • Put on some uplifting music.
  • Set a timer.
  • Don’t pull out more than you can put back away in 15 minutes.
  • Make a game of it.
  • Set a reward for finishing the task.
  • Focus on how good it will feel to have one small, organized space.

PremoPro tip: Organize paperwork when your energy and focus are high. Each piece of paper represents a decision and decision fatigue can quickly set in!

What easy organizing task can you finish today?

Action Planning, Business Productivity, Daily Routines & Rituals, Managing Distractions, Personal Productivity, Process Improvement, Task Management, Time blocking, Time Management

Do You Struggle with Time Blocking?

Has this ever happened to you? You started the day motivated, full of good intentions to get a lot accomplished, but nothing got done. You let another productive day slip away.

It’s not easy to keep yourself disciplined and focused on your most important work, especially when you are only accountable to yourself. Interruptions, notifications, email, and interesting information steal our focus and time. It happens to the best of us. How can you stay focused and on task to get your most important work done?

The answer is time blocking.

I mentioned this to a client who said, “I suck at time blocking. But go ahead, let’s talk about it.”

Time blocking is NOT scheduling every minute of your day.

Time blocking is setting aside time on your calendar to do your most important work. It’s simple. Block out a chunk of time to work on your top priority and just do it.

Blocking the time is easy. Doing the right thing during that time isn’t always so easy. So what do you do?

Get crystal clear on the task to be performed during the time block. You want to sit down and do the work, not spend the whole time figuring out what to do. Be specific enough to act.

Protect the time. For real. If this is truly your most important work, silence your phone, shut the door, close open tabs, and eliminate distractions. Put a sign on your door if necessary. No, you don’t have a sec. You want to get in the zone and stay there. The rest of it can wait.

Schedule the right amount of time. Don’t automatically default to a 30-minute or one-hour time block, especially if the task is small. Your most important work may be a 15-minute task. Remember Parkinson’s Law: work expands (or contracts) to fill the time available. Conversely, your most important work may be a bigger project. Break it down into manageable pieces and time block the pieces. Or set a longer time-block and take short breaks to stay fresh, then get back to work.

Don’t time block everything. Time blocking isn’t the same as scheduling. Sure, might have a general plan for batching phone calls, checking email, working on a marketing piece, etc. When everything’s important, nothing’s important.  

Try this tomorrow. Review your priorities and block time to do your most important work. It will take repeated practice to make this a habit, but it’s the repeated action that leads to results.

Action Planning, Business Productivity, Daily Routines & Rituals, Goal Setting, Health & Fitness, Solopreneurs

Create Game-Changing Habits

Creating and changing your habits is hard.

If it were easy, we would all floss our teeth daily, eat healthy foods, quit smoking, exercise faithfully, have wildly successful businesses, and so on. Even when you’re highly motivated, mustering the self-discipline to take the small, consistent actions required to form a lasting habit (or break a bad one!) can be challenging.

As F. M. Alexander said, “People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.”

Think about this. Most people choose the wrong habits.

They create short-term habits to achieve a short-term goal. For every new goal, they have to create different habits. The result is a series of short-lived bursts of activity, rather than sustainable long-lasting habits.

Short-term habits aren’t really habits at all, but rather tasks done for a short time in pursuit of a specific outcome. Once the outcome is achieved, the behavior stops. The behavior hasn’t been practiced long enough to become automatic, to become a habit, like buckling up when you get in a car.

Let’s say you want to lose weight and get in shape, so you set a goal of losing ten pounds. You might try a new “lose-weight-fast” diet, work out every day for an hour, take appetite suppressants, or some similar tactics. After you lose the weight, you celebrate your achievement and promptly stop doing the things you did to lose the weight. Chances are you will go back to your old habits that helped you gain the weight in the first place and the lost weight will reappear.

What if you chose a better habit or even a better goal?

What if your goal was to be strong and fit for the rest of your life? Would you employ the same short-term habits you used to lose ten pounds fast? Or might you instead look at the long-term habits required to be strong and fit for life? Chances are, the habits required to be strong and fit for life would not only help you lose the weight in the near term, but they would also help you to continue to be strong and fit for years to come.

This paradigm shift was a game changer for me.

Instead of simply setting goals, I now consider the game-changing habits I need to create not only to achieve the specific outcomes, but also to achieve my bigger goals in the future.

Yesterday I met with a fitness trainer who drove the point home. My long-term goal is to be strong, healthy, fit, and flexible for life. It’s not a SMARTER goal because I’m not looking for a specific outcome (although I do want to lose the muffin top). This is a long-term strategy to help me become leaner, stronger, and achieve some specific training goals along the way.  To achieve the long-term outcome I desire, I need to think differently about exercise, training, and moving my body daily. I need fitness habits that are sustainable for life.

My new game-changing habit is weight training 2-3 times a week. I expect to become leaner, stronger, and develop the shoulder, core, and upper back strength to achieve my next milestone goal: hold a handstand for 10 seconds.

As you’re setting your 2021 goals, think about the game-changing habits can you create to help you crush your goals and set you up for continued future success!

Business Productivity, Goal Setting, Mastermind Group, Personal Productivity, Solopreneurs

Accelerate Your Success with a Mastermind Group

Imagine having an inner circle of trusted advisors to help you overcome challenges and accomplish your goals.

You tap into the collective wisdom and experience of the group. You help each other solve problems, brainstorm solutions, make wise decisions, and stay accountable to achieve your stated goals.

Imagine how much faster you could grow and achieve with a personal support team like this than you could by yourself!

But you’re on a team, so it’s not all about you.

You also help everyone else in the group achieve their goals. You share your experience, knowledge, resources, and insight to help them on their journeys. You are the first in line to cheer them on and congratulate them on their successes. Together you are better!

That’s a mastermind group. This is why you should join one.

I first heard about mastermind groups about 12 years ago at a conference. The panelists discussed how their mastermind groups were an integral part of their business growth. They talked about staying accountable to their goals and the value of their regular meetings to stay on track.

I wanted so badly to be part of a mastermind group and have amazing success like them! Over the years I tried unsuccessfully to find accountability partners because I couldn’t find any mastermind groups.

Things are different now.

This year I joined not one, but two mastermind groups and they are changing my business. Within the first month of joining Impact Mastermind Group, I created and delivered my first workshop. This was a huge accomplishment!

Was it perfect? Hell, no! My dry run was a disaster. I was frustrated and embarrassed. I stumbled, got back on my feet, made some adjustments, and tried again. The public presentation the next day went well!

The most important thing is that I got out of my own way and tried. I would never have acted that quickly on my own. My mastermind group pushed me, and I willingly stepped out of my comfort zone and into action. This is where the magic happens!

In the fall I joined Synergy, a mastermind group and mentoring program facilitated by mastermind expert, Karyn Greenstreet. With the support of my Synergy group, I am launching my own mastermind group in January. My group helped me make let go of my own perfectionism, pare the process down to the few essential elements needed to launch the group, and let the rest. I reached out for their support and encouragement to give me the confidence to put myself out there and try. My sample session today went well! I am most proud of myself for doing it. I know next time it will be better and easier.

If you want to make 2021 the best year ever, join a mastermind group to accelerate your success! Tap into your inner moxie, step out of your comfort zone, make things happen.

Mavens with Moxie Mastermind Group begins January 6 for badass women solopreneurs who want to crush their goals in 2021! If you want to join us, contact me at Monica@PremoProductivity.com.

Theme Word for the Year

Theme Words: Hokey or Inspiring?

While some people roll their eyes when they hear theme words thinking they are hokey or contrived, I love them! I choose a theme word every year, and it’s one of my favorite parts of my annual goal planning.

A theme word is a beacon, a guiding light to help you navigate your journey throughout the year. A powerful theme word inspires and motivates you to act in alignment with your greatest vision of the person you want to become.

More importantly, a theme word is a mindset. When you embrace a mindset, you are primed and ready to act in accordance with your core values and goals.

Try this simple exercise to choose an inspiring theme word to guide you in 2021:

  1. Reflect on the areas of your life that you want to improve or change.

What type of person do you aspire to be?

What qualities can you embrace and nurture to help you become that person?

2. Brainstorm words that express who you want to be or how you want to feel.

After the crazy COVID year we survived in 2020, what do you want most in 2021?

Write down whatever comes to mind. Don’t edit or filter, just let the ideas flow.

I like to write in my journal to explore ideas and see where they go. You can also use a mind map, vision board, thesaurus, or any other tool that stimulates your creative energy and liberates you to explore without limits. Generate a list a words that resonate with you.

3. Go deeper.

Circle the words that speak most to you.

Next, use your dictionary and thesaurus to explore their definitions and synonyms. Look for the nuances between words and different meanings based on the part of speech. Evaluate the synonyms to find the word that motivates and inspires you most.

4. Select your theme word!

Sit with your word and see how it feels.

Imagine all the ways you can use this word to guide, motivate, inspire, or ground you this year.

Write it down, make it visible, and check in with it every day.

Embrace your word. Own it. Let its magic wash over you as you get to work to do the things that turn this feeling into reality.

My theme word for 2021 is EXPERIMENT. Every day I’m going to try something new. Instead of expecting results, I’m going to think of it as a test, keeping an open mind and curiosity about what the outcome may be. This will encourage me to act more often, taking smaller steps and making incremental changes based on what happens.

What’s your word? Post it in the comments below. I can’t wait to read them!

Family, Personal Productivity, Solopreneurs

Gobble, Gobble, Zoom, Zoom! Navigating Family Video Calls

Thanksgiving will be different this year. Our families and friends are staying away to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. If your family is like mine, we’ll be spending some time together virtually on a video call.

With a large family, group video calls are a great way to see all the smiling faces we usually see in the same room. This picture is from our call last weekend celebrating my mom’s 81st birthday. We had at least 17 people on the screen and about 28 people on the call!

I’m sharing are my lessons learned and top tips to help you make your Thanksgiving call more joyful and less frustrating.

Use a platform that can handle your group size. I use Google Meet because it’s free and we can be on the call for an hour. Users need a free Google account to login, so if you have Gmail, you’re set. The free version of Zoom limits you to 40 minutes if you have more than three participants. If you have a small family, you can do a group call via FaceTime or What’s App.

Communicate the meeting and send the link via email and text. Some people check one or the other, and others may miss both. You might have an old phone number or email address. If you’re not sure, call ahead and make sure everyone knows about the call. You don’t want to miss anyone.

Choose a moderator. The moderator will control the call, manage the agenda, make sure everyone gets a chance to speak, and watch the time so you wrap up before the call cuts off.

If you’re the moderator, join the call 30 minutes early. Work out your own bugs and be available for other people who are trying to get on the call.

Designate a tech helper. Someone familiar with the technology can help people troubleshoot if they can’t get on the call, don’t know how to unmute, etc. It’s helpful if this isn’t the same person as the moderator.

Ask someone to set up the technology for older parents or anyone unfamiliar with it. My brother went to my Dad’s and my nephew set things up for my mom.

Have a group text chat and tell people to use the text for troubleshooting. Texting is a faster way to communicate and several people can help one-on-one if this is your first group video call.

Cast the call to your TV. We used Chromecast and could see everyone on the TV instead of just a few on the laptop. Be sure to take a picture of your family!

Have an agenda. I know it’s not a meeting, but it is. Without an agenda, it’s like chaos of people meeting and greeting as families arrive, exchange hugs, and catch up. That will happen anyway as people join the call. 😊 After a while you want everyone to talk to the group.

Go around the “room” and have everyone share something. Just like we do before our Thanksgiving meal, each person will share one thing they are thankful for. This is always my favorite part of Thanksgiving.

“Popcorn” to choose the next person to speak. The moderator starts, then calls on the next person. That person calls on the next person and so on. Keep track to make sure everyone gets a turn.

Be patient. Be kind. Be loving. Be thankful.

I wish you a joyful Thanksgiving and wonderful holiday season!

How is your family connecting this year?

Daily Routines & Rituals, Organization, Personal Productivity, Physical Organization

Organize like a Kindergarten Teacher

Do you ever wonder how a kindergarten teacher maintains order and control with 20 or so five- and six-year old children? It’s a simple, yet effective method that can work in your home or office, too. These simple steps will help you create and maintain order in any space.

Follow Simple Routines

Kindergarteners enter the classroom, hang up their book bags and jackets, put their snacks in the snack basket, sit in their assigned seats, and work quietly on morning work until the bell rings. After just a few days, every student knows what to do when he/she comes into the classroom.

Simple routines simplify life. Routines allow you to complete repetitive tasks with little thought so you can spend your energy on the things that take more thought, effort, and work. They give your day a simple structure so the things that must be done every day get done first. They become your habits: get dressed, make the bed, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, grab your purse or backpack, and head out the door.

Establish Work Centers

Kindergarten classrooms are set up in centers – the art center, reading center, calendar center, etc. All the supplies needed to do an activity in the center is stored in or near the center. It is easy to do the work and clean up afterward. Yes, cleanup is part of the activity.

Label Everything

Labels are everywhere in a kindergarten classroom. They help the students learn how to read and identify things. Labels can be written or verbal, and both help to identify where things belong and where they can be found. Books belong in the reading center. Scissors and paint smocks are found in the art center. Everyone using the classroom knows where things are kept.

Use Appropriate Storage Containers

Make it safe and easy to store and retrieve items. Baskets for snacks, storage cubbies for lunch bags, hooks for coats, trays for puzzles, cans for scissors, and folders for papers keep supplies orderly. Use the right size of the right type of container for the job.

Personal Productivity, Small Business, Solopreneurs, Task Management, Time Management

5 Baby Steps to Get Things Done

Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

When babies learn to walk, they are focused on that one task at hand, taking one small baby step. They are persistent and persevere, despite many failed attempts. After each attempt we encourage them to try again and we praise the effort as well as the success.  Eventually they are not just walking, they’re running effortlessly. Apply these same principles to achieving your goals and you’ll be off and running in no time!

1. What’s the next step?
Now that you know what your goals are, take each one and ask yourself, “What’s the next step?” You don’t have to have the whole plan mapped out, just the next step. What action is required – finding a phone number, making a phone call, searching the internet, discussing a problem with someone, taking 5 minutes to straighten your desk?

2. When will you take that next step? Notice that I didn’t ask when you will achieve your goal. I just asked when you will make time to take that step. How long will it take you? One minute, 5 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour? Put it on your calendar, daily task list, or group it with similar tasks you’re already planning. If it’s a difficult task, schedule it when you have the most energy.

3. Take that baby step! Here comes the hard part for most people – just doing it! We find a million excuses to put it off because we just don’t have time. The reality is that many baby steps take less than 2 minutes to accomplish. Remember, they’re baby steps.

4. Give yourself credit. You did it! You took the first baby step toward reaching your goal. Did you give yourself an “atta-girl” or ‘atta-boy” for your success? Doing something, taking one baby step, just took you one step closer to reaching your goal.

5. Evaluate and repeat. Okay, what happened? Did you successfully complete the task or do you need to try again or do something else? Keep the momentum going and go back to the top. What’s the next step?

Personal Productivity, Solopreneurs, Task Management, Time Management, Uncategorized

5 Easy Steps to Partner Up and Get Things Done

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Are you struggling to stay on task and focused on what needs to be done? It’s easier and more fun to partner up with a friend do it together.

An accountability partner can help you stay focused and motivated as you work toward achieving your goals. My partner and I meet weekly by phone to check in and make sure we have done what we said we would do. She holds my feet to the fire, helps me work through the hard parts, and motivates me with her progress. We get more done because we know we have to check in with each other every week.

Take these 5 easy steps:

1. Select your partner.
A friend, colleague, family member, or coach who is supportive and helpful is a good choice.

2. Have a regular time to check in weekly. Meeting weekly keeps you focused and accountable. It also helps you to break your goal down into small steps that you can take daily or weekly.

3. Commit to taking action every week. You can make time daily or weekly for what’s really important to you. Sometimes it’s as simple as completing a five-minute task that takes you to the next step and over a big hurdle.

4. Celebrate your successes; learn from your challenges. Every step toward your goal is a small victory, and small victories add up to big results. If you come across a challenge, brainstorm new strategies and tactics to overcome it.

5. Don’t give up! It’s about progress, not perfection. If you stray from your plan, start again right now and continue to make progress. Good enough is better than did not start.

Personal Productivity, Process Improvement

Top Ten Productivity Tips

Highly productive people use techniques like these to get more done every day. Give one or all of them a try!

1.  Review your goals daily.
Post your goals in plain sight or refer to them daily when you plan. Take one step every day toward your goals and you WILL achieve them!

2. Start or end your day with planning.
Take a look at your calendar for the next day and the rest of the week. What do you need to do to be prepared for upcoming activities? Add those items to your task list. Now prioritize the most important things you need to spend time on.

3. Schedule your day.
Now that you know what you need to do, decide when you’ll do it and schedule it.

4. Group similar tasks. Save time by working on one kind of task at a time instead of jumping from task to task. Phone calls, email processing, errands, computer work, desk work, and faxing are some easy tasks to handle in batches.

5. Keep your list short and in front of you. Limit your task list to the top 3 to 5 things you need to accomplish and keep it in plain sight. You can always go back and add more if time allows AFTER you have finished the most important things.

6. If the task can be done in less than 2 minutes, JUST DO IT! Often little tasks that we put off or avoid doing can be done in 30 seconds or less.

7. Use a timer to stay on schedule. It’s easy to get sidetracked, especially when you’re on the computer or in the middle of a project. Allow time to wrap up your task before starting the next one.

8. Use a timer to help you stay focused. Timers set for short periods of time, 5 to 15 minutes, can help you stay on task. Set your timer, work until it goes off, then take a short break or move on to something else. This works well for kids, too.

9. Use your voice mail. Don’t answer the phone when you’re in the middle of your important work. Let the call go to voice mail and check it when you’re finished.

10. Clear off your desk at the end of the day. Allow time to wrap things up for the day, plan for tomorrow, and leave a clean desk. This closes out the workday and helps you shift easily into personal time.