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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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Personal Change and the Zebra Within


Visiting the San Diego Zoo this past August was one of my favorite memories of the summer. While strolling and enjoying the spectacular animal kingdoms, I was particularly drawn to the zebras. I was struck by both their likeness as well their differences. Although at first glance, they appeared the same, up close and personal, they were in fact, unique. I since learned that while their general patterns are similar, there are no two sets of zebra stripes exactly alike.

It got me thinking about people. We too, are truly unique.  No two blueprints alike. If given the same task, we would all probably approach it differently, even if it yielded the same results. Each of us have our own core competencies, values, and personalities that navigate us through our lives.  That’s what makes the world go ’round.

Unfortunately, the Zebra’s markings are fixed. Like the expression suggests, “a zebra never changes its stripes.” They are stuck with them, forever branded. This reference suggests the “inability to change,”  and implies that a person’s personality flaws are not likely to shift. Of course, a contrary belief is that all of us have the ability to surrender an unfavorable trait or two, and change. And I’m a believer.  No one is born with bad habits, they are learned. Therefore, they can be unlearned through change and with the passage of time. At least, it is possible.

In this regard, let’s talk about two kinds of change; willful and passive.

The willful aspect of change is acknowledging the need and aligning it up with intent to pursue. When our life isn’t working, we generally feel the warning signs (pre-contemplation). There is a moment of clarity (contemplation). We react with a deliberate consciousness to act on these instincts (w/preparation and action plan) as we change something, anything.  It can simply be empowering enough to recognize that we can.  

And yet, even if  we are happy with the status quo, we still continue to evolve in a very organic way. Some of us may not even realize that we have changed our “stripes” until we look back from where we came.  As we mature, we “grow” into change. This is a more passive and natural process of change, but change, nonetheless.

However change emerges, one thing is quite clear;  Making a lasting change in behavior is rarely a simple process, and usually involves a substantial commitment of time, effort and emotion.

So when we consider the possibilities for personal change, let’s think about the Zebra. Appreciate that we have options to change our “stripes,”  because we can.  Anytime. It’s a choice.  The real question is…do we want to?

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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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