The Blog

How To Be the Best Version of You: Have You Been Minding Your P’s?

superman_optWe all yearn to be the best version of ourselves, right?  Of course we do, who wouldn’t?  But the simple truth is that we don’t feel the same way every day and so this could be a very hard expectation to live up to.  After all, we are not super heroes.

Assuming it’s not the day after a long Memorial Day weekend, or a bad hangover morning after a friend’s wedding, you might be able to engage some measure of super power if you just mind these 4 P’s.

Priorities.  No matter how busy we get, we generally find the time to do what we want to do, not necessarily what we need to do. It’s only when our to do’s get too big or too many, that our priorities get all tangled and disordered.  Clarify what is really important to you. Whether it be a short term or long term goal, map out a doable schedule and/or a realistic action plan.

Preparedness.  Being prepared is the key to success in all spheres of life.  Getting “ready” may mean something different for each of us but this process will always yield optimum results.  When you pause to give any task proper attention, you may realize there’s another step you could be addressing. Readiness ignites purpose and intention.  Last minute action or a “shoot from the hip” mentality doesn’t usually bode as well.

Productivity.  Ask yourself if you are managing your time well.  Wasted time can discourage your thinking and draw you into a circuitous negative pattern. Try thinking more efficient with less effort when you approach any task. Is there an easier or better way to do this? Increasing your productivity can generate an internal energy that will empower you to do more.  The more you do, the more you will want to do.

Performance.  No matter what you’re doing, are you 100% engaged, focused, and committed? Are you giving it your best shot or just checking it off the list?  Showing up means way more than merely being physically present.  It is a mind-body connection.  When we bring our “A” game, it is apparent.  And vise versa.

Consider these 4 P’s as just stepping stones to build on.  Imagine that these are our super powers. They inspire each and every one of us to be our best selves.  Are you ready to soar?

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Having Company? Hosting a Holiday Dinner Sans the Hassle

dinner tableThanksgiving is almost here and you might be in sheer panic that you haven’t done a thing yet! For some of you, this could be your first holiday dinner. Perhaps you volunteered or maybe you got selected.  Either way, it’s time to get ready NOW.

If you follow this simple checklist you still have time to prepare and “shine” as the perfect host or hostess. Planning is essential for hassle-free entertaining.

  • Plan the menu.  Review your inventory to see what you already have. Make a detailed grocery list.  Check the liquor cabinet and be sure it’s stocked with the basic favorites.  Consider pairing red or white wine with your various courses.
  • Prepare the table. Setting the table the night before is a huge timesaver and can reduce some of the pressure of doing everything on the same day.  Select the plates, tablecloth, napkins, platters, and serving utensils you will need.  Have a seating plan in mind and have an accurate count of chairs to accommodate your guests. Have extra folding chairs on hand and be ready for that “surprise” visitor.  Just in case.
  • Organize the platters. To ensure that you have enough service for both the dinner and the appetizers,  use post-its or sticky notes to keep you organized and pre-label the platters for the nosh, main entrée, and for each side dish.  Match the appropriate utensils for each one.  This simple step can make it easier for eager helpers to lend a hand when food needs to be transferred from the oven and plated.  They can simply follow your plan.  It’s a seamless system.
  • Schedule the Prep.  Deconstruct the big picture and prep as much as you can the day before or morning of the dinner.  Chop and slice as many ingredients you can in advance to alleviate the overwhelm. Prepare ice and continue to bag and freeze.
  • Eliminate the last-minute.  I find that the most chaotic time of hosting is that 15 minute window right before the guests arrive. Light the candles. Turn on the music.  Prepare the bar accompaniments (shakers, wine openers, stirrers, etc).  Pre-slice lemons and limes. Fill the ice bucket.  Chill the wine. Have extra bowls and platters handy for guest gifts.  Anticipate. Be mindful that when the doorbell’s ringing, and your guests are flooding in, they’re likely to arrive with armfuls of delectable treats, pies, bottles of wine, flowers, and maybe even a hostess gift to open.  Trust me, at that hour you don’t want to be running around searching for the perfect sized cake plate, platter, nut bowl, or vase.
  • Keep notes.   Check off each task as it is completed and keep this as your automated checklist from now on. Create a “holiday” folder and jot down this year’s menu. Weigh in on what worked well, what was a huge hit, or not so much.  Write it all down.  Modify for next year. Eliminate having to remember it all for the next time you entertain.
  • Clear Spaces. Having company over is a great motivator to straighten up your home.  It’s  a great incentive to clean up some cluttered spaces that you would have otherwise avoided.  Remember to clear some additional space in the hall closet to accommodate your guest’s coats and jackets.

At the end of the day, of course you hope that all the food tasted great, but recognize that’s not why they came. Family and friends sharing good times together is far more memorable than any culinary faux pas.

Hosting a holiday can be hectic and sometimes stressful, but it doesn’t have to be.  You should enjoy it all too and be as happy as your guests!  It’s likely that a “happy” host/hostess is probably a prepared and organized one.  So are you getting ready?




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Endings, Transitions and Beginnings: Don’t “Fall Back” Just Step Forward

6235842449_optFor most Americans, daylight saving time (DST) will end with a “fall back” to standard time on Sunday, November 3, at 2 a.m. Not such a bad thing, really.  We get an extra hour of sleep and an earlier sunset.  This may punctuate the end of one season but yet it marks the beginning of another.

Both the change in time and the need to calibrate our body clock is somewhat of  an “organic” wake-up call. With the shorter days and early darkness, the noticeable change can often make this transition difficult. It can wake us up both literally and figuratively.

But let’s consider the glass half-full thinking as we explore the benefits of morphing into a new season.  Change is in the air. We all can feel it.  Holidays are just around the corner and we can sense new energy and new possibilities. Seasonal changes are natural motivators for evaluating what changes you might want to make in your daily life. It’s a perfect time to explore what’s working for you and what is not.

Here’s just a couple of ways to inspire:

Now is an opportune time to take a quick tour of your closet and evaluate what you wear and what you never will. Take an inventory of your stuff. That fall sweater you saved from last year might look a little more ratty than you remembered.  Organize your closet by “like” categories, so that you can see what you are lacking.  Then, you can go shopping to add to your wardrobe without duplicating something you already have. Ditto to the shoes and boots.  If they can be salvaged, bring them to the shoe repair now, and not wait for the day you want and need to wear them.

Check the buttons on all of your overcoats and toss that lonely glove whose mate never turned up from last winter.  Maybe it’s time to purge the threadbare socks too.  Replenish.  Start fresh.  Organizing also means preparedness for the upcoming season. Be ready.

It’s not too early you begin thinking about the holidays. Take a small bite out of the bigger chunks of your grandiose to-do’s. Reduce the overwhelm by planning just a little bit ahead of what you did last year.  Anything you can do now may minimize the holiday havoc  later.

Productivity tip:  Albeit only an hour, this usually throws many people off schedule.  Technically, we gain an hour sleep but we rarely modify our bedtime, and so we generally feel more tired in the mornings. For the first week, try to acclimate to the hour change by making adjustments in your sleep routine. Resuming energy through any transition is always challenging. 

So transition should not mean procrastinate until the snow day.  Make it an opportunity to not only re-stock, but take stock of yourself and your things.  It should mean get going, get with the change and march onward.

Don’t fall back.  Turn back the time, but not your locomotion.  Set your clocks back, but move forward. Embrace the season with opportunities for change in the physical, mental, and emotional sense.

So what changes are you ready for? What’s your secret for a smooth transition?

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Summer’s Not Over…It’s Just on Sale!

With the impending close of summer, it’s a great opportunity to prepare for next summer.  I know it sounds crazy but, everything is on sale!  All the stores that promoted summer seasonal items are now giving them away. Be economical, be smart.

It’s a perfect time to replace, repair, and toss the broken or unwanted stuff.  It’s easy to just shove the broken beach chair into the shed or garage and deal with it next year, but do yourself a favor and act on it now.  Check out your summer inventory.  Are you holding on to leaky garden hoses, deflated pool floats, cracked pails and shovels, broken umbrellas, or moldy coolers?

Fall clothes are beginning to dominate retail stores, so bathing suits and summer clothes are super inexpensive. Why not take advantage now? Buy new basics and save them for next summer. Be thrifty and benefit from the huge savings.

Oh and that old rusty sand chair?  Let it go, it’s just useless clutter living in your garage. You’ll avoid that last-minute trip to the store when you realize the old one’s broken. It’s time to bid farewell to the residue of this season and store only the desirables.

There is nothing as sweet as being ready and prepared for summer fun! You’ll be so happy you did!

These are just the small perks of being organized. Want to learn more?  Keep reading, I’ll keep writing.

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2 Power Tools You Need to Help Manage the Stress of a Busy Day

I have yet to meet a person that does not complain about how busy they are.  It’s seems to be the new standard reply to “how are you?” No more “I’m fine”, just “busy.” The truth is, it is indeed the sign of the times.  We are all guilty of immersing ourselves into over-scheduled days, action packed with juggling commitments, meeting deadlines, racing to appointments, and circuitous car pool runs.  Mornings are hectic, work days grow longer, and conventional mealtimes have become more spontaneous than scheduled.

Don’t fool yourself; as a result of this daily chaos, we all suffer.  We are all overextended, overbooked, at high speed overload doomed to crash and burn.

Being busy can be challenging but doable, but being too busy is arguably dangerous.  Mistakes are inevitable, and if you have not planned well, important dates, commitments, possessions, etc. can be overlooked, lost, or forgotten.  Is your busy schedule robbing you of things that matter to you? Are you lacking balance in your life?

What if I told you that if you stopped being so busy for a hot minute and relinquished a bit more more time to organize your lifestyle better, you’d actually have MORE time?

As to not unravel, I suggest two imperative tools to balance your life.  Meet ORGANIZE and EXERCISE.  They go hand in hand because they work in the same way for your mind, body, and soul. Hopefully most of us take to the gym to work out the stress we lug around,  and strive to keep our bodies healthy and fit.  Physical exercise is an excellent outlet to relieve our stress and provide the balance we require to function.  Just as exercising targets specific muscle groups, mental organizing can target specific tasks and accelerate productivity.  Take time out and focus on what matters to you.

EXERCISE your brain and ORGANIZE your priorities.

WARM-UP: Consider preparedness as your warm-up before a busy stressful day.  It could prevent you from spiraling out of control.  Consider your day at a glance, and make adjustments if your schedule looks too full.  Paradoxically, if your life’s treadmill is running too fast, slow down and customize the speed that works for you.

STRETCH: Use bits of time that you can carve out as as an opportunity to stretch your potential and make positive changes in your harried schedule.

TRAIN: Train your mind to stay on task.  Be aware of your actions and deliberate.  Time is invaluable, don’t waste it, get a value from it.

ALIGN: Organizing your daily plan will keep you in alignment. Be clear and realistic about your daily goals.

BREATHE: Adhering to an agenda that is not abusive will enable you to pause and breathe. It’s important to catch a breath during a hectic day.  Build in some wiggle room into your schedule, allowing for the unforeseen and unexpected.

Manage your settings; modify both your workout or work ethic. Take back the control. Being ORGANIZED, like EXERCISE, means having a routine, a plan, and a system.

Exercising daily is empowering and feeds your productivity.  Active planning and organizing will do the same.  In both scenarios, if you don’t schedule it, it won’t happen.  Make time-management just another EXERCISE of your day.

ORGANIZE and EXERCISE are powerful tools to manage and balance our lifestyles and can help us live our best life. Make them part of  your daily routine. Careers, marriages, relationships depend on it. 

Are you too busy?




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Organizing For An Emergency

8376821469_optThis is not a novel idea.  Clearly none of us can predict an emergency, hence it is called just that, an emergency. But realize that when caught off guard, it is hard to implement sensible decision making when you are in the throws of a disaster.  Setting up systems prior to the emergency and being prepared for one, would be ideal.

Should any kind of household emergency occur, can you say with confidence that you are ready?  How organized are you?

Right off the bat, prepare a list of emergency phone numbers all on one place and post it in a designated place for immediate retrieval.  Unquestionably, calling 911 saves lot of lives but it doesn’t solve all emergent problems. Anticipate.  Make the effort to prevent a disaster.

In all honesty, I do not claim to be an emergency specialist, but I can speak from both personal and professional experience. Regretfully, most of these scenarios have happened to me. Here’s my short list.

  • Check batteries for your smoke and fire alarms, stay on top of that. It can save a life.
  • Have an ample supply of batteries, flashlights, and lanterns, and a battery operated radio.
  • Check for a land line phone.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Be sure you have a fire extinguisher in the home.
  • Winterize your home and prevent pipes from bursting.
  • When you go on vacation, remember to shut off valve to the washing machine.  Avoid the flood.
  • Have crystallized aspirin handy in the case of a heart attack.
  • Never let your gas in you automobile go below 1/4 of a tank. You never know when you may need that full tank for an emergency.
  • Have your windows protected against storms and floods.
  • Have your gutters cleaned regularly.
  • Perhaps purchase a wet-vac (flooding has become a more common occurrence than you think) or have a reliable Water Restoration company on your emergency list. Keep old towels handy as well.
  • Have your cesspool maintained annually.
  • Clean your chimney regularly and avoid the puff back.
  • Organize your family’s critical medical information and create a folder that a loved one can retrieve an emergency (documenting all medical history, including medications).
  • Take inventory of your valuables and create a detailed manifest of  these items.  Take pictures for safekeeping.  Should they get lost or stolen, you will need this documentation.

The list could go on for sure.  If you live where earthquakes, mud slides, brush fires, and other likely disasters are a threat, be diligent with the necessary preventative measures. Readiness and preparedness should be a pro-active practice each and every day, but in regards to an emergency, these measures could be life -saving.

Protect yourself,  loved ones, and your treasured possessions against potential danger or risk.  Indisputably, these are not the things in which to gamble on.

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Fall Wake-Up Call: “Fall” May Be Back, But Don’t “Fall Back!” Here’s How….

OK, so September is shockingly here, or as most of us refer to it as, transition.  Apart from not knowing how we are suppose to dress or what kind of shoes to wear, (I’m already missing my flip flops) what does it really mean? Generally, it means we are morphing into a new season and each of us have our own way to adjust to the change.  For some of us, it might mean nothing more than merely throwing on a light jacket or a familiar sweatshirt.   But for some others,  it could be a wake-up call to start organizing the stuff we put off all summer.  The season is changing and perhaps, so should we.

The change in season is a natural motivator for evaluating what changes you might want to make in your daily life; what’s working for you and what is not.

Here’s just a couple ways to inspire:  How about putting away, (or throw away) the summer clothing you know you won’t need or wear until next summer? Take the time to store  the tanning lotions or throw away the ones that barely have anything left  in the tube.  Don’t just shove everything in a drawer.  Use a Ziploc and label so you can find them when you are looking for them next year, or for your next vacation.  Be ready, be smart.

Now is a great time to take a quick tour of your closet and evaluate what you wear and what you never will. Take an inventory of your stuff. That Fall sweater you saved from last year might look a little more ratty than you remembered.  Organize your closet by categories, so that you can see what you are missing.  Then, you can go shopping to add to your wardrobe without duplicating something you already have . Ditto to the shoes and boots.  If they can be salvaged, bring them to the shoe repair now, and not wait for the day you want and need  to wear them, and then freak out. Organizing also means preparedness for next season.

So, transition should not mean procrastinate until the snow day.  Make it an opportunity to take stock of yourself and your things.  It should  mean get going, get with the change, proceed forward, and MOVE THE MESS now!

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