Working on Work-Life Balance

Long, long ago in another universe, boundaries between work and home were clear. Here and now, not so much. This is especially true if you work from home.

I work (funny word usage here) on keeping a balance but it is a constant struggle. Setting limits is the key.

We know that time is the same for all of us so it is up to us to make decisions on how we use it.

Setting Limits:

  • Track how you use your time now. This is always a first step on using your time wisely. It’s a lot like planning a budget. You need to know how you use your resources now so you can plan on how you want to move forward.
  • Use your calendar. Know when and where you have obligations that must be kept. Mark out times to do self care routines like taking walks, doing yoga, or meditation. Plan ahead times for days off with family and vacations.
  • Delegate time sucking tasks that others can do better than you or that you hate to do. This allows available time to do the things you do best in your work and leave time for rest and fun.
  • Leave work at work. This is really a hard one. When I walk out of my home office, I try to leave the work behind. I only take work related phone calls after that time, if I suspect it is going to impact tomorrow’s schedule. When on vacation, I limit the times I check email, voicemail, and texts. I attend to what I feel is very important and make notes to attend to other tasks when I return home.
  • Learn to say no. Be selective in what volunteer work or extra projects you take on. You do no one a favor if you set yourself up for failure or collapse by taking on too much.
Good luck to us all as we continue on this journey of balance and happiness.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

February is Time Management Month

Good time management is really good choice management. We can’t save time. We can’t speed up or slow down time. We all have the same 24 hours or 1,440 minutes a day. It’s up to us to spend it wisely.

Easy to say – harder to do.

Below are 9 tips to help you stay in control of your day:

  1. Know how you are using your time now. Track how you are using your time for a couple of weeks. The first week you might track Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The second week you might track Tuesday and Thursday. Add in weekend days if that is also an issue. Use a timer and every 1/2 hour make a quick note of what you are working on. No cheating! (Wow, the timer is about to go off, I’d better log off Facebook and pay some bills!)
  2. Notice what interrupts your time and pulls you off task. Do you answer every phone call? Do you really need to? Do you have an audible alert when emails come in? Do you check them when they come in? Do friends or colleagues feel they can drop in at any time? Anytime you are pulled away from a task, make a written note of what you were doing just before answering the phone or talking to the person in your doorway. That simple task locks in the importance of your task and makes it easier to return to it.
  3. Never multitask. Having said that, you can fold laundry and talk to your husband. You can go for a walk and mentally put together a plan for tomorrow. What you can’t do is write a report and talk on the phone or pay your bills while checking emails. Neither task will get your full attention. It is exhausting for your brain to keep switching back and forth. The adrenaline rush will hurt your concentration. There is no way you can get into the zone where work flows easily. Do one thing and do it well.
  4. Know your priorities. What is important to you today? What 3 big tasks need to be worked on or completed? Are you keeping in mind other priorities besides work? Is exercise and a time to eat a healthy meal a priority? Is family time a priority? Keep in mind that some priorities are not urgent things to do today but tasks that will help you down the road.
  5. Use your calendar. The calendar is your friend. I like calendars where I can see the whole month. Every appointment, every obligation, every birthday/anniversary is seen at a glance. As soon as I have a known date for a commitment I put it into my calendar. Long term projects are put on the notes side of the calendar of the months that I intend to devote the time on.
  6. Use a daily schedule. My calendar holds the big things, but my daily schedule has the details. This is where I not only have down what I plan to do for the day but also when I plan to do it and how long I have allowed for the task. I work in transition times between tasks. When life happens – and it does – and I know I will not get through everything on my schedule, I pause and do triage. I pick out what must get done and move the rest to later in the week.
  7. Know your peak production times. These are the times you schedule the tasks that are more difficult and require concentration. For me, I kick in about 9:00 am and need to stop the morning by about 11:30. In the afternoon I can get into heavy lifting around 1:00 and am getting weary by 5:00. Anything I do after that is mostly automatic non-thinking tasks.
  8. Delegate. Some tasks I know I do not have expertise. Some tasks I can do very well but I choose to use my time on another task. So I pay for others to do these tasks. I also am lucky in that my husband is willing to run errands for me like taking items to Goodwill or going to the post office. I have clients who can delegate some tasks to their children like taking on the shredding. Don’t try to do it all.
  9. Come to each day rested and spend some of the day on you. If you are not rested, well nourished, and centered you will not concentrate on tasks at hand. On your daily schedule allow time for breaks, meals, whatever centering practices that you use, and a decent bed time.

Look over the above list and choose a couple to concentrate on for February. I would love to hear some of your wins.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Final Countdown of the Days

It’s almost here! It’s time to relax and enjoy the season. Let good enough be the rule now and allow time to revel in all that you have been preparing. Take time to enjoy your decorated home and enjoy some of the goodies you have prepared. Enjoy the holiday music that is everywhere and watch some of those old movies.

Here are a few tips to help you on your way.

  1. Cleaning:
  • just do maintenance work now
  • delegate where you can

2. Cooking:

  • keep it light
  • eat out more
  • plan a picnic meal by the tree

3. Holiday tasks:

  • set up a gift wrap station and finish wrapping – get rid of those scrappy pieces of wrap that clutter up space
  • as cards come in, check addresses and update your contact list
  • keep an eye on the tasks you have delegated on your calendar – adjust where necessary
  • play some holiday music
  • put together a container for Christmas morning – have in it a couple of trash bags fro used wrap, paper/pen to note who got what and from whom, scissors for opening those pesky wrappings
  • plan a car trip to view the lights or to visit a light display

4. On the day:

  • start jotting down now a list of ideas for future gifts – list sizes – if you plan on doing any re-gifting, make notes of who gave you the gift
  • if you receive a gift that duplicates something you already have (hello nice new coffee maker) start a donation box for the items no longer needed

Wishing all the best holiday season ever!

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

What Value Do You Assign to Your Time?

Time is very elusive. At the end of the day our time is used up. We can’t speed it up, slow it down, or save it. So often we are not really aware that time is passing. At the end of the day we often wonder what we did with our day.

When we do one thing with our time that means we are not doing something else. This is the Law of Excluded Alternatives. It is important to know that we do make choices of how we spend our time.

What is your time worth? As I have aged I have found that I no longer have this need to do everything myself. I chose to work on my job helping clients rather than polishing up my newsletter. I chose to spend time with my friend over the weekend rather than cleaning house. I would rather let another organizer sell items on EBay than try to do it myself. I am more conscious that I am not really saving money by doing these tasks myself. Instead I am losing time, and my time has a very high value to me.

I feel it is important to check in with yourself frequently. What are your goals? What gives you joy? Is what you are doing right now moving you closer to your goals or happiness? Is it more important to spend the day pressure washing your deck or going for a walk with a friend?

I love my business but I do not excel at all parts of my business and some parts I find very tedious. I work one-to-one with my clients but I get help with graphics and accounting. I contract our the tasks that are not my strengths or loves so that I have more time to do the things that I do really well.

In my home I contract for cleaning assistance and landscaping. I am capable of doing these tasks and even enjoy some of them but I chose to do other things with my time. I do a lot more delegating these days. My time is my life and that is priceless.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer