The Blog

8 Ways to De-Frazzle the Holiday Dazzle

Holiday tinsel_opt-2No matter our age, I think we all get a bit spellbound by the dance of twinkling lights. As young children, we are easily entranced by the sparkle of our own candle-lit birthday cakes and eagerly drift into some magical place.

Even as adults, we are still intoxicated by Times Square’s brilliant light show. How can we not be? It’s a sensory explosion of grandeur that is seamlessly hyponotizing. But lights do not only dazzle, they can “light” us up inside too. They can often ignite and elevate our spirits. Or not.

With Chanukah and Xmas approaching, holiday lights are abundant everywhere; decorations on every street and in every store, and adorning our homes with a festive energy.

But all this glitter and glam may be transmitting an underlying message. It punctuates a particular segment of the year that for some, triggers more anxiety than glee.  The round the clock media push to encourage holiday spending can be nothing short of stressful.  It tends to be all about shopping, shopping, and more shopping. Consumerism on steroids.

Are you frazzled by all the dazzle? Does it instigate more holiday stress?

Here comes the true confessional.  Rewind 25 years ago.  Guilty, present, and accountable.  Especially as a young doting mom, I indulged my children with way too many presents.  Yes, I did that.  It happened.  Lured by the melodic holiday bells and whistles, resisting the impulse to buy everything for my children was admittedly, so very difficult.  It’s was an easy trap to fall into, and I fell hard.

The hustle bustle was exciting and while I bought into the holiday mania hook, line, and sinker, it was not devoid of stress. The long gift lists, wish lists, and the laborious wrapping consumed my days. And yes, I even gift wrapped the accompanying batteries to every toy! (what was I thinking?)

And yet on the first night of Chanukah, I witnessed the once beautifully gift-wrapped boxes torn to shreds in seconds. At the end of the day, I was left with a huge paper clean-up and way too many toys.

Eventually, it all became too much. I watched with increased awareness that my kids were only playing with their newest toy and seemingly ignored the others that I had relentlessly wasted time hunting down. They were clearly overwhelmed and over-acquired, and that was my fault.

Ultimately, I set limits on the amount of incoming gifts from other family members as well, and was inclined to rethink the whole concept of  gift giving.

Hindsight being 20/20, this is what I’ve learned.  Passing the wisdom, heed the lesson:

While in the throes of the holiday glow, it’s easy to lose sight of your goals and more importantly, your budget. But truthfully, the holidays need not be so stressful.  Here are some things you can do to avoid the frazzle;

1.  Shop smart:  Try to be more practical and sensible with gift giving. Better to buy what one really needs and reduce returns.

2.  Shop simple: Purchase gift cards and reduce the stress of hunting down the perfect gift.  Personalize it by accessorizing it with a small trinket, favorite wine or sweet treat. Put your love stamp on it.

3.  Set Limits: We can’t have it all, so stop trying. Adapting to less is more attitude starts with gratitude for what we do have.

4.  Go Green: Go green with holiday gift wrap. Be creative and keep it simple. It’s about the gift, not the wrap. This will save you both time and money.

5.  Go Creative: Get the kids involved and make a DIY night of gifts. Homemade treasures always trump a store-bought gift.

6.  Go Educational:  Encourage reading with the gift of a book, or any creative plaything that stimulates learning.

7.  Go Kind: Make room for the new incoming, and pare down. Donate your un-desirables to those less fortunate. Teach your kids the blessings of giving.

8.  Go Clutter-free: Gift with an intangible. Give the gift of special time with your family and create a memory.  Give your kids creative gifts of privilege (picking a movie, favorite restaurant, extra bedtime story, or special planned fun days)


The Xmas and Chanukah holidays are one of the most beautiful times of the year, but not because of the glistening tinsel.  It’s about family and friends enjoying each other.  If we shift our focus more on how we are spending the holidays and less about the actual holiday spending, it can feel very different.  For me, sharing the festivities with family and friends are unequivocally the best kinds of gifts. Truly, it’s about the moments, not the things.

As this holiday season approaches, be mindful that the dazzle may frazzle you, only if you let it.  Find ways to reduce the holiday havoc. Above all, remember that embracing the joy that family and friends can provide, and creating sustainable memories, will endure long after the holiday lights are dimmed.


Read this post on single page to comment →

Mess and Stress Can Weigh Heavy: Shed the Clutter, Shed the Pounds

scaleLike the chicken and the egg dilemma, it’s difficult to determine what came first; the mess or the stress. Are you so stressed and time-challenged that you create the mess? Or is it that your natural messy style causes you to be in a constant state of stress?

The triple threat is that all too often mess and stress can exacerbate bad eating behavior. Research has shown that there is a strong connection between stress and over-eating. Each of us handle stress in a different manner and in order to cope, some of us resort to emotional eating. Food is commonly viewed as a comfort for combatting loneliness, depression, and a whole hosts of other emotional pain syndromes.

Recently, I have been witness to a fascinating discovery with regard to organizing and diet. Clearing and cleaning one’s spaces can have a significantly positive impact on a person’s physical state. Just like dieting, organizing can give you back the control you might have surrendered.  Both processes emit great results and provide huge measures of accomplishment.  The brain wakes up, will power is revitalized and ignites productive behavior.  This kind of “heathy thinking” spills into healthy eating.

So start simple and try this.  Clean out just one drawer and begin to toss some junk mail or unread magazines lying around.  Take a good look around and see if you can clear some more clutter you never noticed before. Baby steps. Get to a point that you feel you accomplished something and you feel good about it.  Give yourself a pat on the back. Maybe you will get bit by the bug and that sense of pride will fuel you to continue.  You might feel encouraged to lean out those paper files or get the courage to attack the closets!  Who knows?

One thing is for certain, shedding the clutter can often shed the pounds. It’s astonishing to see both the spatial transformation and the weight loss. I’ve noticed that once your spaces feel lighter, YOU will feel lighter as well.  Shedding the clutter will make you feel mentally unencumbered and that can have a powerful influence on the mind/body connection.

Are you ready for the ultimate diet? Organize. Don’t be surprised that it will re-shape your life… and your body too!

Read this post on single page to comment →

How Well Do You Know Yourself?… The Secret to Your Personal Productivity

Not everyone is a self-actualized person.  It takes a very insightful individual to pay attention to who they really are.  I like to call this sixth sense, one’s life rhythm. Essentially, it is understanding what makes you tick.

We all approach life so differently in accordance with our own individual personality styles.  I have often blogged before about our unique learning styles and how these different modalities affect the way we understand organization, but I recently have realized that we must also factor in our general life rhythm. Are you in or out of sync with yourself?

Making a real connection with our consciousness will impact how we move through our lives and will organically affect our productivity

Let’s talk about stress. We all manage our anxiety levels in a discriminatory way.  Have you thought about how you handle pressure?  Are you a last-minute person, or do you like to prepare?  Do you delay making decisions, or do you cut to the chase?  Do you get a vicarious thrill from living on the edge, or do you play it safe? When you’ve answered  all of these questions, you will gain a keener sense of who you are, and discover if you are indeed in touch with your inner you.  There are so many layers to all of us, it is so very difficult to identify each and every one of them.

These triggers will formulate the patterns of one’s life organization.  I have seen time and time again from clients that no matter what organizational principles I implement, their natural personality style beats out any systematized solution I provide.  One client in particular, continuously stresses to me that she’s unlikely to prepare ahead of time for any meeting, manage her child’s readiness for after-school activities, or respond in a timely fashion to any social engagement.  She just shoots from the hip, and is very comfortable with that.  I’ve realized that her reaction to cause and effect is immediate.  This formula has always been her life rhythm and will always be.

From a personal perspective, although extremely organized, I understand that I function at my optimum, under extreme pressure.  As a college student and way beyond academic life, I have always preformed best under duress.  Somehow, whenever I leave myself with too much on my plate with too little time, I fully engage in the challenge of succeeding.  The cogs start to rapidly turn, my energy and commitment morph into high gear, and I recognize that I am fueled with the pressure of a deadline.  My organizational skills are heightened.  I know and understand that I perform best this way.

Certainly, there is no cookie cutter pattern to living an organized and productive life.  But before you can even attempt success, you must first really understand who you are at your core. Get in sync with yourself.

Identify your proclivities.  Work with your strengths and outsource your weaknesses.

Think about what feeds your productivity gene. Can you identify your life rhythm?

Read this post on single page to comment →

On Life Balance: You Can’t Find it Unless You Feel It

So many of us are over-extended with both work and “life” schedules, we struggle to balance it all.  We are often sleep deprived and so, fatigue, has become our natural state of mind.  It is our new reality, and yet we continue to battle every day to catch up as if we think we actually can.  But we cannot. And when we realize that there are not enough hours in a day to accomplish all that we had hoped, we just let it spill into the next day, and on and on it goes. Yes indeed, we can lose our sense of self in this unravelling vicious cycle.

Present, guilty as charged.  I write so often about time-management and how powerful it can be in order to reach our goals and maintain balance, but I neglected to include how important it is to carve out some self time.

I have always been an advocate of exercise, but lately it’s been an activity that I dread, and more like something I have to do, not want to do.  In the past, I would squeeze a quick work-out in just to feel like I accomplished something.   Typically, I jump on the treadmill and trot along as random thoughts invade my head, but never really focus on anything in particular except how much longer I need to stay on it.  A prime example of not being present or embracing the moment, but just worthy enough to cross it off my checklist.  Just barely.  Rushing to get my day going, I jump off that treadmill to just start running on essentially a different kind of treadmill; my work schedule.  Truth be told, I have been kidding myself.  I have never reaped the optimal benefit from the time I’ve set aside to find the balance.  The experience was lacking purpose.

Recently, I decided to take up Pilates and I must admit, it has been life-altering.  For me, that one invaluable hour of a day provides me with not only the physical balance I need, but the mental focus I require.  Stepping away from my daily fast pace and taking time out just to breathe, is rejuvenating.  Throughout this new workout, my core is fully engaged and strengthened, and when it’s over, my mind is equally engaged to face the day with an incredible energy to succeed.  It’s my new life-balance.

Don’t be too busy to live a healthy life.  Prioritize.  It’s time to stop chasing your tail.  Working until burnout is not at all productive.

At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter what exercise you prefer, albeit the gym, yoga, or a run.  What is imperative is that you do something to exercise physically and allow the mental juices to flow.  It’s cathartic.  Exercise diffuses the stress.  The more you do, the more you”ll want to do, and the better you will feel.   My trainer always likes to say before a final stretch, “give yourself a hug,” and I do.  And it feels great.

Does your life often feel like a balancing act?  What do you do to feel balanced?

Read this post on single page to comment →

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?




Read this post on single page to comment →