Are You Following These Habits????

A few months back I came across an article written by Sarah Stebbins for “O” magazine, called “The 10 Habits of Highly Organized People.”  Now, I’m not normally an “O” magazine reader, but my mom is and she’ll mention articles of interest to me every so often.  As a matter of fact, I’m astonished she didn’t tell me about this one!  LOL 

At any rate, the article is pretty short and simple, which I happen to like, but makes total sense.  It’s relatable and easy to follow.  So many times when you read something about the habits of successful people, they seem so….unobtainable.  These don’t.   There are ten (10) insightful habits in all, but I’m only going to share a few of them with you.  The rest you can check out for yourself. 

  • Make peace with imperfectionI know this is a hard one, but I promise you, you’ll get the hang of it.  As long as you put forth your best effort, that’s good enough!  Striving to be perfect is exhausting and boring!  Besides, a little imperfection never hurt anyone, right?
  • Schedule regular decluttering sessionsWhy wait for a build-up?  Do you like feeling overwhelmed with stacks of paper everywhere?  Try scheduling 10-15 minutes of your time, say at the end of your day, going through your office, sorting through your mail or finally going through that pile of magazines on the floor that seems to continue to grow.  Even the littlest of things that you can put away in their rightful place will help you feel more at ease.
  •  Separate emotions from possessionsEver heard of the term ‘pack rat’?  Most of us know of someone or is that certain someone who can’t seem to get rid of anything because it reminds us of something or someone else.  Sentimentality has always been my weakness, however, I have learned over the years, that most of the material items I was holding on to were just that…material.  My memories won’t fade if I let go of that old sweatshirt from my father nor will my feelings for my husband fade away if I get rid of the dried up flowers from our anniversary.  There are memories attached to these things, yes, but honestly, I don’t need them and they are just taking up space.  So, I let them go.
  • Never label anything “miscellaneous”This one rocked my world!  Who doesn’t have a file somewhere labeled miscellaneous?  Do you know what all is in that file?  I sure didn’t.  But, the habit makes sense.  If you go through this folder, you’ll find either things you don’t need or things that should be filed elsewhere.  The article suggests making specific groups and then sorting your files that way.

I don’t know about you, but these habits are extremely easy to understand and follow. I love personal growth articles that only take a few minutes to read and motivate me for personal change.   I am looking forward to re-reading this article again and putting those thoughts out into the universe.

Having Calendar Issues? Try These Tips!

As many of you know, I am in love with the Microsoft Outlook calendar.  It’s functions are endless and for me, putting everything I do in one central location has been a tremendous help.  I can track the time I spend on all my work projects, schedule my available time for household errands and still see where I have free time for me.  Yea!!! 

I recently came across a great article from The Crabby Office Lady, who wrote about some unique tips for the Outlook calendar that I thought were worth sharing.  Here are just a few:

  • Change the time periods in the Calendar gridYou can change the default setting for 30-minute time slots to 5-, 6-, 10-, 15-, or 60-minute time slots by right-clicking the actual calendar, click “Other Settings”, and then click the number you want from the “Time Scale” list.  I chose the 15-minute interval since that works better for me.
  • Quickly change an appointment into an all-day event – Once you are in the calendar, switch to “Day” view and drag the appointment to the day heading.  This works great for when the cable guy will be at your house anywhere between the hours of 8-5. 
  • Quickly switch to viewing by month in Calendar – Click in calendar and then press ALT+EQUAL SIGN.  Loved this tip!  Talk about quick!

There are several other Outlook calendar tips from The Crabby Lady that I did not share with you, as well as tips ranging from silly thoughts on life to office and work tips that are great.  The added humor she uses puts things into perspective nicely.

I hope these tips have come in as handy for you as they have for me.  Enjoy and happy scheduling!

Mind Mapping: Draw Your Conclusion


Mind mapping is an activity that might be very familiar with those who understand that they are visual learners, though it could help many of us.Think about a story you read as a child.
Do you remember the words on the page?- or -
Do you remember the pictures that you were able to build in your mind with each of the author’s details?
Because most of us retain pictures, I am convinced that we are all “in-part” visual learners. Mind mapping could be a very effective way for us to develop a more efficient process to develop our ideas. Students, entrepreneurs, and group leaders can use this tool to learn, develop business plans, and even break down group projects visually.

An Example of a Mind Map

Figure 1: How students or professionals can use a mind map.

Figure 1 is a sample mind map that I put together as a visual aid to show (1.) who might use mind maps and (2.) what they might use them for. The stars represent a way that might be most obvious to start mind-mapping.

How to Start Using Mind Mapping

When you begin to work with mind maps, it is important to keep it as simple as possible, and build on the skills you develop. I used a free program called FreeMind. This is a program from SourceForge used to create, view, and save mind maps in XML and HTML. There are many programs available to draw maps like this. However, all you really need to start drawing a mind map is a piece of paper, a pencil, and a central idea.

Mind Mapping for Business

In our very complex business world, we are surrounded by graphical representations of all kinds of information. We like pie charts, interactive menus, and even things as simple as before and after photos to show off our work. How are we using visual aids to develop our business? Mind mapping could be a great tool to develop and break down plans pictorially.

For example, if you have a small project that you can divide into two parts, you could create a mind map for each part. You could visualize when certain events needed to occur, and build on specific details that you think of later or after speaking to a client.

There are two very important questions that still need to be asked before deciding if drawing a picture is even helpful.

1. Does it help us retain what we’ve learned?
2. Does it really help us develop our ideas?

Pictures Help Retain Information

This is an example of short term and long term retention; the two ways that visual aid can help us recall information. I watched a television series on HBO called “The Alzheimer’s Project” this last winter; and I remember a nurse was asking each of three elderly Alzheimer’s patients (on separate occasions) to remember three words that were unrelated. Then the nurse would ask them a couple of more questions, and finally ask each patient to repeat the three words that she had told them only a few minutes before. Only one lady remembered all three. “Do you wanna know how I remembered?” she asked the nurse. “I made a picture in my mind of a table, and then imagined someone put down a penny, and then someone put an apple on the penny.” She was right; the three words were apple, table, and penny.

As I was writing about this past memory, I did not have to watch the television show again to remember this part. In fact I even recalled the three objects without looking up the show. (Except I must confess, I remembered the items as apple, table, and quarter.) I recalled this situation that I saw once, months later because this little lady helped her audience by giving them a really great tip. In its most basic form, she shared the wisdom that a picture (mental or not) can help us recall information. She represented how it can help with short-term memorizing, and I am a real life example of how those pictures can become longer term memory retention.

Developing Ideas in Groups

Mind mapping can also be used in groups to start planning projects. In her book, “The Manager’s Guide to Effective Meetings Briefcase Book”, Barbara J. Streibel describes a term called “displayed thinking” which is mind mapping as a group. Its purpose is to represent analytical and creative ideas in picture form using symbols, colors, and arrows to represent related pieces of the plan. She states that it as an “exploratory tool, rather than analytical,” and “spatial rather than linear”; and continues to accurately describe it as similar to storyboarding. Storyboarding is also used by many web developers to plan visual layouts of graphics and websites.

Conclusion

There are lots of ways to learn and remember information. Mind mapping is another way to represent and develop your ideas. It will not work in every situation. However, there are many situations where drawing a picture can help us work out problems on paper. The trick is to start small and then develop this skill just as you would develop any other, with practice.

Mind mapping is more effective the more personal you make it. Use symbols that make sense to you and bold text that are the most important or plausible ideas. Next time, when your clients or teammates don’t understand your plan or explanation, try drawing them a picture!

Organization is a Tricky Thing

Organization can be a tricky thing, not to mention a daunting task.  However, if it is done in steps, you will not only feel a weight has FINALLY been lifted off your shoulders, but you will feel more balanced when your project has finally been accomplished.

A great point to remember is, what works for one person, may not work for another.  Each person’s organizational system is or will be different; just like a person’s personality.  The trick is to come up with a system that works with you and your natural abilities or habits so as to assist in you in being at your best, whether for your clients or for your friends and families.

I came across an article in the Lifestyle section of MSN awhile back and found it to be spot on.  It offered up realistic tips on how to get and maintain being organized.  I have laid out the basic tips for you and added my own little thoughts; however, if you want to read more, I encourage you to click on the link above.

  1. Custom-design your system = This is something that you will have to put some thought into.  What works best for you?  What goals are you trying to achieve?
  2. Think kindergarten = The old adage “everything has its place” seems to come to mind here.  Make sure documents get filed in their rightful place instead of lying on top of your desk or your to-do-lists are next to your computer or typed up on sort of project management system instead of scattered throughout your office.  Centralization seems to be the key here.
  3. Organize the basics first = Start with areas that are accessed the most often, like a briefcase, which can end up becoming a “junk drawer.”  Once the most accessed areas have been tackled, move on another area…one step at a time.  As you start to see “the light at the end of the tunnel”, the more motivated you are apt to feel.
  4. Study yourself = Find out when you are at your most productive and utilize that time period to your advantage.
  5. Learn your concentration threshold = Tailor your schedule/tasks around your attention span.  If you know you have a big project coming up, cut it into smaller parts accordingly.  Make sure to intersperse those break times as well.  This will help with the wondering minds.
  6. Hire a pro or find a friend = If all else fails and you still feel overwhelmed, as for an outsider’s perspective.  Their ideas could be the difference between success and failure.

For more inspiration, you may want to visit Julie Morgenstern’s site.  She has written several books on the subject of organization and time management.  Her site also offers tips that can further assist you with your goals.

The best advice I ever received was to stay positive.  I think this advice works well for organization and time management, too.  Success and accomplishments will abound, if you just stay positive. 

Good luck and I look forward to your organizational tips!