Tag Archives | organization

The Only One Syllable Word We Struggle to Pronounce, Guest Post by Royale Scuderi

Photo courtesy of Marc Falardeau

It’s hard to say no.

It’s even harder when we really want to say yes! It can be excruciating when it costs us financially or emotionally to say no. But…

There’s always a “but”, isn’t there?

I believe that the toughest no is often the most necessary and the most valuable – at work, at home, in every area of our lives.

What do I mean by a “tough no?” How about when you are offered an exciting project at work, but just can’t fit it in and juggle your other work successfully? Or when you are asked to volunteer for that special cause that is near and dear to your heart, but your plate is already full? Maybe you are offered your “dream job,” but there’s a catch, you have to travel all the time and you have small children? Or maybe it’s a fabulous career move that sounds wonderful, but isn’t really the direction you want to go. How about the potential client, partner, friend that looks good on the outside, but just sucks all of your energy?

You know what I’m talking about. You’re beginning to sway, your arm is being twisted either by money, pride, or guilt – but deep in the pit of your stomach, you just know that saying yes is the wrong decision – or maybe now just isn’t the right time.

Can you say no? Should you?

Yes, you can! Yes, you should!

I have struggled with this from time to time and have always been glad when I managed to choke out the “NO” even if it half killed me to do it. I just recently wrestled hard with a “tough no” that might have cost me financially in the short run, but would have taken me down the wrong path and stood in the way of long-term goals. It was the right choice for me even though it was incredibly scary and heart wrenching to utter that no and then follow through and stand firm on it.

If something is not a good fit for you – the best answer is no.

If something doesn’t quite feel right – the best answer is no.

If something takes you off your path, veering from your vision and beliefs – the best answer is no.

Stay on course.

Know where you’re going.

Have your priorities straight.

Listen to your gut.

And most importantly – when the decision is made and the NO is given, move on and don’t look back!

The beauty of the tough no is that in having the courage to dig down deep and honor your soul, you open up the space for new wonderful opportunities to flow into your life and you’ll be able to confidently offer the joyous “Yes!”

Royale Scuderi is a life fulfillment expert, consultant and freelance writer who specializes in personal and professional growth, life satisfaction, and success. She is a curator of ideas and strategies that support a productive and purposeful life. Visit her at Productive Life Concepts .

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Mind Over Clutter: Why the Neat Freaks Have Been Right All Along

Photo courtesy of Bluish Orange

I’ve always been the type of person who performs better in an organized setting. I’ve never been able to get much done amidst piles of papers, dirty dishes, or a mixed up mess, no matter what type of tasks I’m working on.  I’ve worked outside of the home, I’ve been a Stay at Home Mom, and now I work from home.  I find that no matter what my job title is, or where my “office” is located – if there’s a mess, there’s no success.

For years, my friends always made mention of how organized I was even though I didn’t really feel like that much of a “neat freak” – I simply thought it was normal to keep things compartmentalized and in order.

As it turns out, the drive to keep clutter at bay is a very important one, because orgnanized people are much more likely to achieve their ultimate goals, according to The DeClutter Coach Deborah Cabral. As I randomly clicked on a link that led me to her site a few days ago, I discovered that perhaps my penchant for being a neatnik is a personality trait that has gotten me a lot further in life than I originally thought.

Look into a disorgnanized environment and you will find people who are stressed out and worn out. They don’t know where to find important things which leads to frustration, missed deadlines, and anxiety. Long periods of clutter induced anxiety can make these people depressed and un-motivated to finish what they start, which is a nasty cycle that ultimately ends with burn out.

Make the mindful choice now to remove unnecessary clutter from your life so that you can approach each day without chaos greeting your before your morning coffee meets your lips. Everyone has their own natural preferences when it comes to organization, but if you’re really overwhelmed, consider the following possible starting points:

  • Start with one room at a time. If that even seems like too much, try emptying one shelf a day, sorting the items, and only putting back things that you need.
  • Set a timer. If you work better with a time limit, set aside an amount of time you feel comfortable with each day, and only organize for that long.
  • Bins. I can’t say enough about how important it is to invest in a multitude of plastic or cloth bins that you can easily label.
  • Think fast. The best de-cluttering happens when you don’t give too much thought to what gets tossed out and what gets donated. Sort quickly and efficiently.
  • Create a safety net. If you’re having trouble getting rid of things because they might be important in the future, consider making a ‘maybe’ bin. But only one.

Once you get into the groove, you’ll realize how cathartic the process of de-cluttering can be, but don’t get too addicted to the feeling.  It’s one thing to get organized, but the key is staying organized. You’ll find that when you let go of all of the unnecessary physical stuff in your life, that your mental clutter will start to dissipate, your productivity level will begin to rise, and your daily goals will once again seem conquerable.


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Why Keeping a Steady Pace Always Wins the Race

Photo courtesy of M Francis McCarthy
I’m all about time management. I’ve discovered that pacing myself works very effectively and allows me to accomplish a steady amount of tasks on a regular basis without stressing my mind or my body too much.  I keep a list of actions that I need to fulfill each day of the week and I cross each item off when completed. Since I work from home, my To-Do list pops right up onto the corner of my laptop to remind me what needs to happen every day/week/month in order to meet my financial and life goals (feed the children, try not to live in squalor, etc). So, yes, my daily list even includes things like “Buy milk” and ”Do 1 load of laundry.” Breaking things down like this helps me to get more done over the course of the week, both professionally and personally.

I didn’t always work my life like this, however, and neither do most other working adults these days. Many of us have spent years attacking each day haphazardly, with few or no specific goals in mind, only to reach 5:00pm to realize that we did everything but the important stuff. Getting off-task is all too easy on any given day of the week, causing us to feel overwhelmed by all of the things we weren’t able to accomplish. Most people bite off more than they can chew regularly by overestimating the amount of time they have available during the week. Although you can’t expect the unexpected, you should leave time for it just in case it happens.

Start by making a list of everything you would like to conceivably get done by the end of the current week. Include all tasks that must be completed in order to retain your employment, and necessary life-sustaining errands like grocery shopping. List actions that will boost your professional life, and things that you need to get done in your private life in order to keep things flowing harmoniously.  Divide your list of actions into daily groupings in order from what needs to be accomplished first, to what can wait until the end of the week. You can make your workload lighter if you:

  • Delegate one item on your weekly list to someone who has the time, ability, and willingness.
  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed this week, attempt to reschedule one action for later in the month when you’re less busy.
  • Try combining two similar tasks into one or do two tasks at once wherever possible.
  • Move one thing to your “Someday” list or delete it all together if it’s just not that important.

What you’re left with should be a very do-able action list for your week, divided nicely into daily task goals. Remember that there will be days where something unexpected pops up and an item on your list doesn’t get completed. In that case, simply highlight it and move it to another day during the week where it might feasibly get accomplished.  Pace yourself, people. Life isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon.


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Why Life Is So Much More Than a Paycheck

Photo courtesy of Colton Witt

I recently jumped on the Game of Thrones bandwagon; it was inevitable, really. As a fan of other epic fantasy works, like Tolkien’s Middle-earth, I was surprised to find there was a whole unexplored mythology from the mind of writer George R. R. Martin that covered a disturbingly gritty place unlike other fantasy worlds. After watching the first season of the excellent HBO TV series, I delved right into Martin’s books. For those who aren’t familiar with the Song of Ice and Fire series, these books (or which A Game of Thrones is the first) are huge, sometimes spanning over a thousand pages, so I was aware that they were going to cut into my already busy schedule quite a bit.

After reading through a hundred or so pages of the first book, I realized I was hooked. I’d become so drawn into Martin’s writing – the despicable characters and harsh, bloody settings – that I was trying to find little pockets of time here and there between working hours to fit in extra reading sessions. I also couldn’t stop telling people about it. It was probably quite annoying, but I wanted to share how thrilling the journey had been for me so far. I told my friends and siblings—basically, anybody I knew to have a preexisting interest in large fantasy works.

When I told one of my closest friends about the TV show and books, he was clearly excited by the concept and said that it reminded him of when he was a child and read the entire Lord of the Rings series. Because of this interest, I offered to loan him one of the Game of Thrones books, and his expression suddenly changed. “I could never get into this – how would I get anything else done?” he told me. After thinking about this for a moment, I asked him if he was reading anything else at the moment, or tuning in to watch a TV show on a regular basis. He admitted that he used to do these things, but that his work was now taking up too much of his time, and when he returns home from work each evening, he’s too tired to focus on anything.

For me, this was a bit of an eye-opener. My friend was basically denying himself things he agreed he would enjoy simply because of his work schedule. In addition, he thought that if he found something he truly enjoyed, he wouldn’t have the restraint to plan his work hours around it. I think a lot of people have this view of things that are deemed “less important” than making a living. They neglect small pleasures because they are too focused on working, and can’t find the time to enjoy themselves. I’m not saying that people should cut back on work in order to have fun, but with a little forethought there is room for both.

People spend plenty of time scheduling their work lives so that any time that is left over for personal things like reading a book or going for a mountain hike gets almost no thought at all. Planning out your personal time with as much detail as you use to plan out your work hours could offer you far more fulfilling opportunities in the future. Life is not all about working to make a living, so make use of the little spaces in-between.

If you gave yourself more time to indulge in a personal hobby, what activity would you choose?

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Are You Using the Best Tools to Develop Your Ideas?

Brain cloud
Photo courtesy of Thomas Lieser

A powerful tool that is often neglected when it comes to developing new ideas is mind maps.

For those not in know, mind maps are diagrams of interconnected words, symbols, tasks and ideas, that flow from a central idea in a series of paths. That may sound a little confusing, but mind maps are actually incredibly intuitive when you get down to them. There are no set rules regarding how you’re supposed to lay out your ideas (like, say, with a pie chart); you simply make connections between different elements much in the same way that the human brain does when it makes associations between similar items.

Whenever I need to lay out ideas for a new project I’m working on, I’ll begin by writing the central idea on a blank sheet of paper. Then I’ll gradually fill the page with headings, subheadings and concepts, all stemming out from the central idea. I find that the act of simply writing these elements down in this way helps me recall them a lot better later, and it can also be a great time saver when you need to organize your thoughts quickly.

Mind maps can be used to develop pretty much any concept you can think of, from planning a birthday party to planning the next forty years of your life. Although there are several good mind mapping software packages available online, I would recommend using the less costly pencil and paper method instead, for better retention of the facts.

How do you organize your ideas? Do you use mind maps, make lists, or find that brainstorming with other people helps make better sense of your ideas?

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Are You Sabotaging Your Projects By Broadcasting Them?

Photo courtesy of Andrew Allio

Common goal-setting wisdom says that you should tell as many people as possible about your goals in order to achieve them. This is so that you can then draw the strength of your personal support network when times get tough, and they can hold you accountable. The theory is that the more people who know about your goal, the more you’ll look like a failure if you don’t follow through, and so you’re more likely to work harder.

I, however, was surprised to hear this perspective, because in my own experience I have found exactly the opposite to be true – i.e. telling people about my goals actually makes me far less likely to achieve them. In the past when I have kept a project to myself, I found myself more determined to work harder to get the job done so that I could brag about it.

Several psychological studies have delved deeper into this topic, attempting to work out exactly how people’s minds behave when they tell other people about their goals. What they found was that test subjects got a great deal of satisfaction in their goals being acknowledged after sharing them with somebody else, so much so that their minds were tricked into feeling like they had already achieved the goal.

Several experts believe this satisfaction felt from sharing plans actually makes people less likely to go out and do them. Sounds a bit counterintuitive, I know. But I can’t tell you how many of my friends have told me about a great new project they’re about to start working on, only for the project to disappear into obscurity within days.

My advice to you would be to look back at some of your past goals. Do you always follow through with your plans, or have you started more projects than you’ve finished? If you’re the kind of person who is motivated about having your family and friends cheering for you, and you’re worried about how you’ll look to them if you fail, then broadcasting your goals might work well for you.  If, on the other hand, you gain greater motivation from the thought of keeping things under wraps and having a big ta-dah! reveal at the end when you’ve actually accomplished something, then do just that. You could find your next project a lot easier to stick with.

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How a Few Minutes a Day Can Earn You Freedom for Life

Freedom for Life

Photo courtesy of Bohari Adventures

Last summer, I had steady stream of friends staying with me as house guests. One evening, one of my guests was gazing over my shoulder as I went through my nightly ritual of typing up my to-do list for the following day. After watching me for a minute or two, eventually he shook his head and said, “I couldn’t live like that.”

Er, live like what, exactly?

“With every aspect of my life planned out to the last detail, no room for fun or spontaneity. I would find that extremely boring.”

At that moment I realized just how misunderstood to-do lists are, as I’m one of the most spontaneous people you’ll ever meet. I’ve been known to move to another continent on a whim (twice, in fact), and I frequently drop everything to accept last-minute invitations to hang out with friends, or pop over to Munich for Oktoberfest just because I feel like it, or jump on any other crazy opportunities that come my way.

The only reason I’m able to do these things is because I’ve intentionally built a life structure that allows for that level of freedom, by making sure that all the essential tasks get done and shifted out of the way in the most efficient manner possible. If you’re always staying several steps ahead, which is what a high level of organization allows, then you can easily jet off for a few hours (or a day, or a week) whenever the mood strikes you, without stress or guilt.

I see people who repeatedly take all day to do things that could easily be done in a couple of hours, providing that they would set aside a few minutes the night before to create a plan and a list. When you don’t have a detailed plan, you can spend your whole day not knowing exactly what to do next, backtracking when you realize you forgot to do something, and generally wasting time that otherwise could have been spent on the things you really want to do.

Left to my own devices, I’m pretty much your standard, disorganized, right-brained creative. This is where to-do lists come in handy – allowing me to sculpt that life of freestyle creativity, by ensuring that I get the essential foundation work out of the way first. It’s reasonable to want a life defined by personal freedom, and it only takes a few minutes to put the structural supports in place to allow that freedom.

Do you have a personal organizational system that helps you get things out of the way so you can enjoy your life?

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