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Brushing Up Your Routines: How to Stop Chores From Growing Into Huge Projects


Being organized and staying organized might seem unfeasible in a busy household, but if you can distinguish a chore from a non-negotiable routine, you will be surprised with the time-saving results. When we change the way we think about our routines, maintaining our “busy” lives can be more manageable.

Approach home-life organization as you would your personal hygiene.  Do you shower daily?  Do you brush your teeth every morning and at bedtime? I think we can all agree that these are two things we do routinely every day.  It’s not only a healthy practice, it’s a dedicated daily ritual, right?  We find the time to make sure it happens.

Everything else we want to do in a single day spills onto some grandiose list for each of us to do, which sometimes never gets done at all.

I’ve coined the brush your teeth model as the guideline to help my client’s manage their life-organization. Brushing your teeth is not something you schedule, it is something that you just do.  Even moreso, these two times of day punctuate both the start and finish of any given day. So why not use this model as a consistent reminder to check in with yourself? It’s that rare time that you must stop and pause, at the beginning and end of your day. Here’s how to take advantage of this ritual;

1. In the morning, brush your teeth and brush up your productivity.  

Use this time to do one thing that will make your “later” easier.  This should only take you 5-10 minutes. Add this wiggle room into your your designated morning routine every single day. Maybe throw in the laundry, empty the sink, load or unload the dishwasher. Clear a counter. Pre-sort the mail in categories to save you time later.  Set the table for dinner.  Perhaps keep an empty bin handy, and do a quick sweep in the den. Return items back to their designated homes or just corral them in the bin to clear spaces. Deconstructing these annoying chores to a day-to-day practice will prevent them from accumulating into a bigger weekly chore.

The reality is that when neglected daily, these chores can mount into way bigger projects.  Paper piles grow taller, busy hubs become too cluttered, dirty dishes litter sinks, and hampers get overflown with an insurmountable of laundry.

When to-do’s get too big, they are simply not approachable. You’d be surprised how a cluster of just 15 minutes of preparation can ultimately save you exponential time later. Jump starting the task can be very effective.

2. In the evening,  brush your teeth and brush away tomorrow’s potential mistakes.

Before you go to bed, sync your schedule and calendars so they align. So often, we jot down appointments on scribbled notes, put reminders on our phones, but fail to write it down on our paper or virtual calendars.  Too often, important dates fall through the cracks and we miss important events and appointments.  This is great opportunity to organize the next day. Collect your thoughts, write down a doable plan for the day. Maybe a plan for the week is too big.  Keep it simple. Think about what has to get done tomorrow. Trust me, you will sleep more soundly knowing exactly what the next day will look like.

No doubt, maintaining a busy household and lifestyle requires attention.  It cannot and will not run smoothly all by itself.  Sustainable organization can be achieved with just a small change of a dedicated routine. Find the time to tend to your home, schedule, and things, as you would to brush your teeth. It’s as imperative. A healthy life-balance requires it.

Brushing up on these skills every morning and every night will keep things under control.  Consider breaking down some of your weekly chores into daily routines, it will improve your life in countless ways.

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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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April Ahhs…How The Enchantment Drives Productivity

hikingAlthough the temps are still vacillating from unseasonably cold to mildly normal, I think it’s safe to say that Spring has finally sprung.  Gone are the forecasts of snow and sleet. As we gradually accept the warmth and sunshine of recent days, we can sense the internal shift within us.

I’m not suggesting that Spring has magical powers but one would have to admit that it does cause somewhat of a spellbound effect. Beyond its glorious bloom, it has a strong and compelling influence on our mental attitude. Most of us have been stuck inside this past winter, we are all yearning to get out and do.  Anything.  Even a mundane errand seems joyful.  So aside from the noticeably longer lines at the car wash, what does this all mean?

This might just be the kick in the butt we needed. Change is good.

We are so ready to shift into action and squelch procrastination.  I write often about weather as a strong influencer and this particular cycle seems to emit such powerful motivation.  Inclement weather is no longer sabotaging our to-do’s. The change in weather boosts our morale and more importantly, heightens our productivity.

Spring urges us to spring forward, with a more positive bounce to our step.  We feel inspired by the new landscape that’s shifting before our eyes.  Flowers will be blooming and lawns will be turning greener.  You can sense movement and shift with the obvious external changes.  This feeling can likely discourage the ‘lazy’ in us, don’t you think? Fewer of us will opt to sit on the couch inside when a gorgeous sunny day is begging for our attention.

The thought of putting away winter sweaters and buying ‘spring things’ is so enticing, isn’t it? Perhaps even swapping out your wardrobes will inspire you to re-organize your closets and ignite the spring cleaning process… everywhere. Embrace the endless opportunities and possibilities that this new season prompts.

Whether you feel inclined to bike, hike, or start a new project, this is the perfect setting and time to do so. Spring into action!

So are you tapping into the shift?  Are you ready to do?

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The Stuckness of Winter: Is Your Productivity in Danger?

snowed inAnother winter storm, another snow day.  Home. Again.  Most of us are thrilled to have a day off and more importantly, most of us need one.  But after continual blizzards and hazardous road conditions, many of us find ourselves stuck in our homes.

Some are lucky to be able to work from home, but too many are victims of mass transit nightmares and are unable to get to where they need to go.   In either case, both work days and office hours are shifting and cancelled appointments require re-scheduling.  Parents of school-aged children are dealing with delayed school openings and early dismissals. Everything is out of whack.  Winter weather advisories are our new normal.  Our new “busy” is about managing and adjusting our daily routines to fit.

Snowstorms interrupt our routines and can often impact our productivity both IN and OUT of the house.  

At first, the reaction is utter glee, right?  Hunker down with abundant food, snacks, and DVDs and cuddle on the couch with no concrete agenda other than taking a nap.  But after a while, cabin fever can get old.  We can get increasingly bored, lazy, or even depressed.  Winter doldrums can be paralyzing and likely to promote some bone cracking procrastination.

In theory, we could think about this “stuckness” as an opportunity to be more productive around the house, but how many of us actually do? How about cleaning out that spare bedroom or re-organize the messy coat closet? Maybe tomorrow.  The truth is that a call to action is so very difficult when procrastination is flirting. Lazy tends to beget lazy, especially this time of year.

Stop. Flip the thought. Consider framing this confinement in a more positive light. If you are indeed captive in your home,  why not focus on the inside?  Watching TV and reading are great but designating a time to work on a neglected “inside” job can be equally rewarding too.  Look around and find one project that you can work on.  The hardest part is the actual doing, so start small.

One simple call to action will surprise you and it just might ignite your productivity. Imagine the satisfaction of accomplishing one small task you’ve been avoiding. We never seem to have enough time, right?  So if you’re stuck in, you’ve got lots of extra time. Here’s some inspiration to;

  • Catch up on the laundry.
  • Organize the scattered shoes and dirty snow boots. Create a zone for them.
  • Clear countertops.
  • Sort mail.  Separate bills to be paid.  Organize your coupons.
  • Empty or load the dishwasher.
  • Return phone calls you never have time for.
  • Empty a messy drawer or closet. Toss the clutter and create an exit strategy for the donatables.


One thing for sure, when Spring rolls around, we will undoubtedly want to embrace the outdoors more than we will want to organize a drawer.  So jump in and simply do. If you schedule it to happen,  it will likely get done.

For me, icy roads and cancelled appointments are keeping me in today.  I’m inspired to write, and pushing myself to organize my office and files (and yes, my desk needs organizing too). 🙂

Hoping to inspire you today to get motivated and get ready. There’s another winter snowstorm coming this week.  Winter is far from over.  Let’s fight the winter blues together and get busy doing.

Don’t let Winter plow away your productivity.  Call to action.  You IN or OUT?



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Lark or Owl? How your Habitude Affects Your Productivity

owl jpgWe all have such different predispositions, don’t we? Some of us rise early as the lark, or stay up into the wee hours of the night just like the owl. If we pay attention to these proclivities, perhaps we can use our time more optimally.

Are you an early bird or a night owl?

To know me well, is to know that I am definitely not an early bird. Truthfully, I’m not my ‘natural’ best self early in the morning.  I know this.  It takes my brain a little while to get into a groove and catch up with my body. So in the event when I do need to rise early, I must give myself extra time to adjust and wake up my body and sync it to my brain. I always marvel at those people who start their day really early and have already been to the gym and back, ran some errands, showered, and completed several tasks, way before I’ve even opened my eyes!

I suspect that those early risers are also ‘early to bed’ people too.  Knowing how much sleep you require is important, but actually getting it, is even more essential. We try to calibrate our sleep patterns in accordance with our body rhythm.

There is probably a valid reason as to why I’m not such a an early riser.  I’m really more of a ‘late night’ person, always have been. Although I don’t always get it, I require a minimum of 8 hours sleep every night.  For me, after a busy day, I need several hours in the evening to unwind. After dinner spills into a myriad of to do’s, to calls, and ultimately leads me upstairs to relax and watch some entertaining (sometimes mindless) late night TV.

For most, this is the moment to drift off into a delicious deep slumber. Well that’s not exactly how it works for me, lol.  Firstly, I need quiet to sleep. I cannot fall asleep with ambient voices emanating from the TV, so after my husband finally falls asleep and I’ve had my fill of late night talk shows, it’s light’s out for me.

The interesting phenomenon about my body rhythm is that although I’m asleep, I’m often woken up by my brain in the middle of the night. Thoughts invade, ideas percolate and poke at me. Truly, I am a ‘natural’ night owl, but I’ve learned how to manage this. I always leave a pad and pen by bedside to ‘catch’ my thoughts because I’m afraid I will forget them in the morning. Sometimes I wake up multiple times to remind myself to add to my to do’s for the following day.

When it’s still and quiet, my brain does not shut down.  Actually, the silence activates and provides clear space for me to think.  I must confess, it’s not like I choose to stay up all night, it’s more like an unconscious tug that urges me to empty my brain so I can have a more restful night’s sleep.

I’ve learned to stop fighting the nudge,  and turn on the lamp for a quick jot of genius.  In fact, most of my blogs are crafted from these late night epiphanies.  I jot down key words and phrases, sometimes even full sentences! When I wake up the following morning, I’m frequently shocked that I wrote such legible and focused content in the wee hours of the night. It sometimes feels like I’m ‘working’ in my sleep!

But clearly, every day is not perfect and I cannot manage my required hours of sleep all the time. Without a doubt, after a great night’s sleep, my days are physically active and very productive.  I am operating on full throttle with my best self.  On those other days when I might be more sleep deprived, it’s not so pretty, lol.  My productivity suffers and so does my sleep cycle. I must adjust to catch up.

The key is to know thyself.  Are you aware of when you are your best self? If you are indeed an early bird, are you taking advantage of the gifted hours? Do you use late nights to get more things accomplished?

We all structure our day and use time differently because we all have unique lifestyle and habits. When are you most productive? Lark or owl?

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Did You Show Up Today? When Punctuality is Irrelevant

tigerWe all have days like this, don’t we? It doesn’t even seem to matter if we are precisely on time.  In fact, it really has nothing to do with time at all. Punctuality is irrelevant. It’s more about whether we have mentally shown up to be present in that moment. The real question is, did you wake up with the eye of the tiger?

We feel this very deeply inside.  At the start of our day, we instantly know whether or not we’ve brought our “A” game.  No matter what we’ve got planned on the day’s agenda, if our head is cluttered with a myriad of thoughts, it will most likely impede on our focus, clarity, and concentration for the rest of the day.

We get to where we’re going, right?  But sometimes we just get our bodies there, and our minds are elsewhere.  

On those days, you might be doing one of these;  Sound familiar?

  • You find yourself looking down at your watch multiple times, and still not know what time it is. (true story, I confess I’ve done this many times).


  • Someone introduces themselves to you and you forget their name almost instantly.  You are in a conversation with someone, nodding and smiling, but you aren’t really hearing or understanding a word they are  saying. You try to pay attention but the information is just not computing.  You have difficulty connecting because you are distracted and therefore struggle to pay close attention.


  • You fumble for familiar words and tussle with routine thinking, while just yesterday, you were sharp as a tack. For me, it’s a day that I just don’t seem to click. I’m simply “off.” I refer to it as my “dumb” day, lol. Every now and then, my brain escapes. I accept the “me” that showed up that day and figure out a way to work with I’ve got.


Clearly, there is something to be said for “getting up on the wrong side of the bed.” Not every day is the same, nor is every day perfect. From one day to the next, and for a host of reasons (stress, sleep deprivation, illness, etc.), our moods shift and can easily throw us off our game.  It is unrealistic to think that we can be our best selves every single day, but we can do our best to workaround the day’s shortcomings.

It’s hard enough to sustain focus on a good day, but if we begin our day without it from the get go, we are going to really struggle. When we are mentally absent, we are emotionally and socially unavailable to ourselves and to others around us.  In a sense, we are in our own way.  Losing our mind/body connection will tend to “show up” in all spheres of our lives. It is impossible to be productive or even engaging when we feel “off.”

When we lose our mind/body connection, I often wonder if we are better off just staying home, rather than showing up without purpose or clarity. Ideally, if we could learn to compartmentalize our invading thoughts and place them on a shelf somewhere, maybe we could combat this “off-ness.”  Wouldn’t it be great if all we had to do was press a “reset” button to recover?

Or, perhaps we need to be a bit more realistic. Simply accept that we are merely human, not tigers. It’s hard to sustain ferocity every day of the week. We all aspire to be champions, but few can “roar” on a daily basis without a fight.

What are your secrets to “showing up?”  How do you maintain that mind/body connection? What steps do you take to recover your focus, should you lose it? Please join in this conversation. I would love to hear you roar.

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Pacing Your Holiday Busy; Up Close and Personal

1435817704_optBelieve it or not, some of us already have the holiday table set, gifts already purchased as well as wrapped, and menus planned. But… then there’s everyone else. There are those who slowly and steadily accumulate gifts and check off diligently, and yet there are those who haven’t even begun to think about jumping into the frenzy. So where are YOU on the continuum?  One thing I know, for sure…it’s personal.  Very.

Having already celebrated Chanukah, I’m no longer channeled into the shopping cue, so I’m observing with a more objective eye.  I’m now more cognizant of the frenetic energy in each store I enter, and sense the heightened anxiety on everyone’s faces.

It’s so very easy to get caught up in the tumult around us. The stores are filled with the contagion of holiday busy and TV commercials are selling holiday joy every 10 minutes. Inevitably, we are lured into the madness. These influencers can interrupt our focus.

The challenge is in finding the balance.  Here’s how;  Don’t get caught up in other’s exuberance, find your own rhythm.  Above all, make your own choices. It’s your holiday,  your personal kind of joy. Don’t beat yourself up for not keeping up with the “idealized” version of the holidays.  Not everyone is shopping for cars, and diamonds, and expensive technology. Not everyone has the time or money to shop endlessly.

Keeping pace that’s within your comfort zone will be far more fulfilling than trying to measure up to somebody else’s.

Pacing your holiday busy means beating to your own drum.  It really has less to do with being more organized than the next guy, it’s more about knowing your natural life rhythm,  identifying your objectivesand the ability to manage time.  Certainly, effective time-management strategies play a huge role in customizing your pace. Taking on too much in a concentrated period of time is fruitless.  Evaluate your “busy” and be sure it’s filled with activities you enjoy. Holiday shopping, party invites, and celebratory dinners can overwhelm your schedule. Choose wisely.

Quite often, we burn out and stress out before the holiday even arrives. Instead, take a time out.  Find your personal pace and seize the opportunity to experience the great joy of celebrating your way.

Somehow, it all gets done.  It always does.  Even if your proclivity is to be the “last-minute” shopper, and you’re more inclined to wait it out, you could be just as productive as the early bird “doorbuster” shopper. Choose the kind of holiday busy that works best with your comfort level.

The holidays are indeed a beautiful time to celebrate life, family and friends.  The key is to let it be joyful, not stressful.  Listen to your inner voice and sync your personal pace with the holiday commotion. Perhaps you need to slow it down, or do less.  Pay attention.  Truly, that’s how to create a “happy” holiday.

Are you all “wrapped up” in holiday busy? How are you pacing yourself? If you’ve got a minute, come join in the conversation 🙂

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Do Your Outsides Match Your Insides?

8412601296_optFor all intents and purposes, let’s just say that “judging a book by its cover” is an accurate measure. Does your appearance reflect who you really are?

  • Do you come across well put together at first glance, but inside your head, you’re actually a disorganized frazzled mess?
  • Do you act cool, calm, and collected, but are actually internalizing a great deal of stress?
  • Does the exterior of your home appear to be well manicured but inside, it looks more like a bomb hit it?
  • Does your shiny car look sleek and sharp on the road from a distance, but under closer inspection, its interior looks more like a “mobile” mess?

First impressions are powerful.  They matter.  People can quickly form an opinion and they often make assessments based purely on first glance. But be mindful that they can be very misleading.  The impeccably dressed and coiffed person may give the distinctive impression of being really organized.  This “dress to impress” style exudes a professionalism, a polished confidence, and yes…success.  This image commands positive attention. But let’s suppose, it’s all just a facade.

Maybe he or she really struggled to find cleaned, ironed, or appropriate clothing that morning, or possibly they just barely arrived on time for an appointment by the skin of their teeth (and no one noticed). In fact, this “seemingly” organized person could have raced out of the house, harried and stressed, leaving a trail of clutter behind and nobody would ever know.

The expectation is that your “look” should reflect your authentic personality, style, and attitude. The caveat to this is that you may dress one way outwardly, but are really a different person on the “inside,” thereby sending out mixed messages.

Perhaps you are not inherently organized at all, but just love the idea of being organized so you dress the part. Paying attention to how your “outside” appearances reflect your self-image can be very enlightening, particularly about how people react to them.  It can work in your favor.  It may even opens doors, that would otherwise be closed.

When your outsides don’t match your insides, it requires a sensible acceptance in order to balance the two.

Here’s the enigma: neat and tidy does not mean organized.  Two different things, indeed.  You can purchase beautiful and decorative containers and still be searching for things.  It has less to do with the packaging or appearance and more about poor organizing systems.

On the other hand, many high-powered executives can operate quite efficiently behind messy desks cluttered with unruly paper piles, because their systems work. The incongruity is that an untidy office does not mean you can’t be successful and driving fancy cars does not mean you’re wealthy.  This is the obvious paradox when insides and outsides are conflicting.

But because we live in a culture that appearances do matter, connecting your outsides with your insides can ultimately affect your productivity. Your physical demeanor can have a huge impact on your mental attitude. When you look good, you feel good. You attract like-minded people, and self-confidence soars. The law of attraction is based upon this positive “like” energy.

Consider this. Paying attention to detail on your physical appearances might inspire a change in other facets of your life. Don’t stop at the mere surface, see if you can make an internal change.  Dig deeper.  Align yourself inside.  When you feel more harmonized, you will be more synchronized.  Balanced.  Inside and out.  

Check the mirror.  Don’t just look organized. Aspire to be organized.  Walk the walk, for real.






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Catch the Wind in Your Sail

3062986132_opt-1Timing is everything.  The rise and fall of your personal productivity depends on it. Everybody’s productivity barometer is calibrated differently. It’s a such personal measure, so it cannot be standardized. How we adjust precisely in this particular function can definitely increase our personal successes, but it in no way, defines it. It simply enables us to synchronize our opportunities with our actions.

I’m a summer gal, so I feel that I’m my best SELF in a season I’m the happiest.  Certainly every day is not perfect, nor can I claim that I’m always super-productive!  I’m human, after all.  But I am very cognizant that my energy levels boost higher and more often, than on a cold wintry day.  This is a time that I catch the wind in my sails, and so I capitalize on these opportunities. With blue skies above and the sun shining brightly overhead, I am more apt to get up and be ready to work hard and play hard. For me, outside work reigns supreme, and indoor projects are reserved for rainy days.

Productivity may easily be triggered by the natural seasonal changes, but it can also fluctuate from day to day.

The key is to know thyself.  If you further edit it down, you may find that there are specific days of the week or hours of a day, that you notice an energy surge.  Are Mondays tough for you to get back into a groove? Are early mornings more productive than late afternoons? There’s no right or wrong answer, we all operate on our own unique efficiency levels.

So if you’re feeling blue, don’t beat yourself for not getting things done.  There will be brighter days ahead. Wait for them, and catch the wind in your sails.  Find your rhythm.  Inspiration can feed productivity so figure out what inspires you and seize the moment!

Do you have a particular season, day of the week, or a time of  the day that makes your productivity soar?

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The Power of Praise

cheerleaders_opt-1Everyone needs a cheerleader now and then. Who doesn’t love a compliment? We all respond well when we are told we look great, or we’re doing a great job. We feel validated. Make no mistake about it, “flattery gets you everywhere,” because it feeds our productivity and nourishes our success.

In fact, the casual “pat on the back” often provides us with the significant encouragement to fuel us towards reaching our goals sooner, more than later. Even the smallest acknowledgment can make the greatest difference in someone’s self esteem, thereby building self-confidence and impacting personal productivity.  Do not underestimate the power of praise.

As Organizing specialists, we can identify the key obstacles that cause our clients to feel “stuck.” While the analytics may reveal obvious shades of poor time-management, insufficient space, procrastination, fear of failure, etc., they are not the only culprits.

There is one more piece to consider.  The big “S” word, i.e. Support, or lack there of. This is a huge component of motivation and decision-making.  Whether it be a Professional, friend, or family member, sometimes just having someone standing by your side can inspire you to get “unstuck.”   When someone is rooting you on, it not only encourages you to do well, it propels you forward to even greater heights.  Ask any marathon runner who crosses a finish line, or any athlete who relies on their fans to cheer them to victory.  Everyone performs better with an active fan base and supportive audience.

At a recent NAPO Conference this year, Psychologist Dr. Ari Tuckman shared specific strategies to help increase a person’s motivation.  He suggests that if we cheerlead bits of progress, it can have a huge impact on a person’s motivation to succeed. Very powerful thinking.  Good therapy and coaching are super effective for this specific reason. Likewise, my role as a Professional Organizer not only embodies a facilitator of change, it also includes my being 100% cheerleader for my client.  For me, it cannot be separated, it is one in the same.

So ask yourself, do you have a personal cheerleader?  When you’re down, stuck, or overwhelmed, having positive backup could be a game changer. Get the support and help when you need it. Don’t go it alone.  You shouldn’t have to.

Gimmie a Y…

Gimmie a O…

Gimmie a U…


Whatever you’re doing, keep up the good work.  Keep going, you can do it!  The power of praise can be pretty powerful. Do you have a personal cheering squad that has made a difference in your life? Do you think that having someone “champion” your endeavors impacts your motivation?  Even if YOU believe in YOU, it feels good to know others do too.

Perhaps you never thought about it before, but I invite you to now…and continue to motivate some more conversation. I believe you can.

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