9 Simple Solutions for Procrastinators

This is a guest post of sorts, from the fabulous Christine Kane, who helps people achieve their dreams. I’m reprinting it, with permission, from her newsletter. It arrived in my mailbox today and I thought it was so great I’d share it immediately. Incidentally, I wish I’d thought of the acronym CRAP for Clutter Removal Action Process!

—Janine Adams

by Christine Kane

Irony: As I started to write this article, I thought, “I’ll just go play one Sudoku game first.” I caught myself in the act and marched to my laptop.

People who say that procrastination is about laziness are probably the same people who think that anorexia is about not eating enough.

Procrastination isn’t about laziness. It’s about fear. It’s about perfectionism. It’s about being overwhelmed. We all experience it, and there are some tricks to help you get moving again.

Here are 9 ways to break the procrastination habit:

1 – When you get an idea, do some little thing to begin.

When I read Stephen King’s book On Writing, I noticed something. I noticed that when Stephen King gets an idea, he writes it. Immediately and imperfectly.

Most people get an idea. Then they sit there. They wonder if it’s a good idea. Then, they wonder if it’s a good idea some more.

Got an idea? Begin it now!

2 – All hail small chunks of time!

Lots of us complain about having no time. My guess is that we all have lots of time. It just doesn’t happen to be all at once.

Are you waiting for many hours of spare time to begin your idea, your project, or your taxes? Stop waiting! Learn to use the spare half hour that comes up here and there. (I gave myself 45 minutes to write this article just to take my own advice.)

3 – Agree to do it badly.

Set a goal to do it badly. Set a goal to show up. Let go of doing it ALL, or doing it WELL.

Some of my coaching clients’ biggest victories have a lot more to do with getting over perfectionism and fear, than they do about getting it all done perfectly.

4 – Commit aloud.

Call a friend and say something like this: “I’m going to spend the next half hour working on my Law School Essay.” Then go do it.

Call the friend after the half hour and make her congratulate you. Repeat daily.

5 – Define quantities.

Nebulous goals make for nebulous results. “I’m gonna get my office organized” is a lot like saying, “We oughtta do something about Global Warming.”

Most procrastinators have a hard time defining quantities. We think everything needs to be done NOW.

When are you going to do it? For how long? Which part of your office? The file cabinet? Or your desk?

Define the goal and acknowledge its completion.

Note: The Clutter Removal Action Process (or, “C.R.A.P.”) is one of the many bonus elements of my new “Uplevel Your Life Mastery Program” – and it makes this step a BREEZE!

6 – Install this System Upgrade into your Mental Hard Drive: Less is More.

Have fewer goals. Have no more than three priorities for a week.

Why?

Because you’re not lazy. You’re just trying to do too much.
Find out what it feels like to accomplish one thing instead of not quite getting to everything. Wow – what a difference this makes!

7 – Do it first.

My first coach made me write songs first thing in the morning. He told me to schedule the 2-hour chunk as my first activity upon waking.

Why?

“Because you’re telling the universe that this is your priority. And then the universe lines up everything to align with your priority.”

Action grounds your priorities. It makes them real. It also makes your day easier because you’re not wasting energy thinking about this thing you’re supposed to be doing.

8 – Avoid nose-bleed activities.

Email, voicemail, web stats – any activity that bleeds itself into your whole day becomes a non-activity. It becomes a nose-bleed.

When you do it all the time, you never complete it. You just let it slowly drain the very life force from you. Define times for these activities. Then, turn off your email, your cell phone, your web stats, until that time comes.

9 – Don’t ask how you “feel” about doing the activity.

Have you ever committed to getting fit? And then when the alarm goes off, you lie in bed thinking, “Do I really feel like going to the gym?” (Like you even have to ask!)
Change this pattern. Make your decision the night before. Commit to getting up and going right to the gym, the computer, the blank canvas. Don’t have coffee and sigh and think, “I’ll probably feel more like it at lunch time.” You won’t!

If it’s a priority, don’t waste time asking yourself how you feel about doing it. Feelings are an easy out.

——————————————

There. I did it. I wrote this article. And now, I don’t even want to play Sudoku! How about that?

Performer, songwriter, and creativity consultant Christine Kane publishes her ‘LiveCreative’ weekly ezine with more than 4,000 subscribers. If you want to be the artist of your life and create authentic and lasting success, you can sign up for a FREE subscription to LiveCreative at http://www.christinekane.com.

Janine Adams is a certified professional organizer and owner of Peace of Mind Organizing. She specializes in working with chronically disorganized client, primarily in their homes, helping them create the order they crave. She blogs regularly at her website and offers concise, downloadable Organizing Guides for purchase. With life coach Shannon Wilkinson, she also offers a 28-day e-course called Declutter Happy Hour.

 

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Cleaning out Your Clothes

By Janine Adams

Cleaning out the clothes closet is difficult for many people. Clothes can represent so much — like music, they can do a great job of capturing a feeling about an occasion or part of life. They also can represent hopes. You hope to wear that size again. Or you hope to have an occasion to wear that evening gown.

The trouble with hanging on to clothes that you don’t or can’t wear is that an overcrowded closet makes it so difficult to care for the clothes you do wear. It’s hard to put clothes away if they’re packed in too tight. They also get wrinkled. And it’s much harder to see what you have.

I was just perusing an issue of O Magazine, whose theme is “De-Clutter Your Life!” In one of the articles, Oprah Winfrey goes through her closet trying to decide what to keep and what to let go of, with the help of the magazine’s creative director, Adam Glassman. What struck me about the article was that even Oprah, who has an almost unimaginable about of money, had a difficult time letting go of stuff. At one point in her life she had a very limited wardrobe because of budget. “Even now, wasting money on clothes makes me crazy,” she admits in the article.

After insisting on saving some beautiful items (she calls a pair of boots she’s never worn “closet jewelry”), Oprah agrees to let go of trendy items she doesn’t wear. It appears that Adam’s suggestion that the discarded clothing be auctioned off on Ebay to raise funds for OWLA, Oprah’s leadership academy for South African girls, makes it easier for her to let go.

I see this in my clients; if they know the article of clothing will be loved by someone else, they’re more able to let it go. They’d like to give stuff to me, but my policy is not to accept items that my clients are letting go of. (It prevents the appearance of conflict of interest and helps keep my home clutter-free.)

So next time you’re trying to weed out your closet, remember that Oprah found it difficult. You can imagine how beautiful the clothes she was discarding were, but she did it.

As an aside, my friend, the organizer extraordinaire Geralin Thomas helped me weed and organize my closet on a visit in 2009. She convinced me to arrange my clothes by color, something I resisted. I felt it was hyper-organized and would be too complicated for me. Boy, was I wrong. I love having my clothes sorted by color. (I organize them by category first, then by color. All blouses are together, in color order, all jackets, pants, etc.) Not only is it beautiful, but it makes it very easy to find what I need and to put individual items away.

And the less densely populated the rods, the more I enjoy my color-coded closet.

Janine Adams is a certified professional organizer and owner of Peace of Mind Organizing. She specializes in working with chronically disorganized client, primarily in their homes, helping them create the order they crave. She blogs regularly at her website and offers concise, downloadable Organizing Guides for purchase. With life coach Shannon Wilkinson, she also offers a 28-day e-course called Declutter Happy Hour.

The Cost of Keeping Stuff

By Janine Adams

I gave a talk this week called Letting Go of the Tough Stuff. One of the points I made in that talk is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Many clients don’t like to part with items they don’t use or love because those items cost a lot to buy. Or they feel the item is worth something and they can’t just give it away, but selling it feels too complicated or labor-intenstive, so it gets put off.

When I’m working with a client with a big clutter problem they’re trying to resolve, I like to point out that there’s a cost associated with keeping those items. When you’re dealing with a lot of clutter, keeping stuff you don’t use or love can have the following costs:

  • physical cost. If you can’t dust because of the clutter, it can affect your health. If you can’t let in a repair person or get to the furnace to service it, your house might be paying a physical cost as well.
  • monetary cost. If you’re paying your bills late because you can’t find them amidst the paper, you’re probably paying higher interest rates on top of late fees. If you’re buying duplicates of things because you can’t find the ones you have, that’s costing you money. And if you’re paying for storage? That’s a quite literal example of how keeping your stuff can have a monetary cost.
  • An emotional cost. For many people, major clutter leads to guilt, shame and self-recrimination. Every time you look around you feel bad. If you’re hanging on to items that remind you of a bad time in your life (relics of a divorce for example), there’s an emotional cost as well.

Next time you’re tempted to keep something because it cost a lot, think about the costs of keeping it. Letting go of items you don’t use or love can be very freeing!

You can get more advice on letting go by purchasing my Organizing Guide,Saying Goodbye to the Stuff that’s Holding You Back.

Janine Adams is a certified professional organizer and owner of Peace of Mind Organizing. She specializes in working with chronically disorganized client, primarily in their homes, helping them create the order they crave. She blogs regularly at her website and offers concise, downloadable Organizing Guides for purchase. With life coach Shannon Wilkinson, she also offers a 28-day e-course called Declutter Happy Hour.

Manage Time by Managing Priorities

By Janine Adams

Time management isn’t about managing time. It’s about managing priorities. We all have the same amount of time in a day to deal with. How we use it is an indication of our priorities.

If you’re not accomplishing as much in a day as you’d like, take stock of how you’re actually spending your day. Are you at least getting the important stuff—the stuff that reflects your values and goals—done? If not, time to examine your priorities in relation to how you spend your time.

These aren’t earth-shattering revelations, I understand. But sometimes it’s important to take a step back and take stock of how things are going. Personally, I have some catching up—and some priority management—to do. (Mark Forster, whose Do It Tomorrow time-management system I’m in the process of implementing, calls it “going through the audit procedure.”)

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been so busy with clients I’ve not had as much desk time as usual, so I’m falling behind on tasks. The great satisfaction I’ve been feeling over really accomplishing what I set out to do has been starting to evaporate.

Time to hunker in, see what’s going awry, and manage my priorities. While I have a lot that I need and want to get done, I can say with all honesty that right now, taking a little time to relax is a high priority!

Janine Adams is a certified professional organizer and owner of Peace of Mind Organizing. She specializes in working with chronically disorganized client, primarily in their homes, helping them create the order they crave. She blogs regularly at her website and offers concise, downloadable Organizing Guides for purchase. With life coach Shannon Wilkinson, she also offers a 28-day e-course called Declutter Happy Hour.

 

Get Started with a Professional Organizer

By Janine Adams

If you’re reading an organizing blog, chances are pretty good that you fall into one of three camps:

  • You’re a professional organizer
  • You’d like to work with a professional organizer
  • You’re a fairly organized DIYer looking for ideas

This post is for those of you who fall into the second category. If you’d like to work with a professional organizer, I’d love to provide you with some advice to optimize that experience, should it come to pass.

Choosing an organizer

  • Check out your choices thoroughly. You can find professional organizers at the website of National Association of Professional Organizers and the Institute for Challenging Disorganization. Choose some local organizers and read websites, look at testimonials and before and after pictures. Call any organizers you’re interested in who don’t have websites.
  • Ask around. If you know folks who have worked with organizers, quiz them on their experience
  • Know what you’re looking for. Do you want an organizer who tells you what to do (some people do)? Or one who involves you in the process of coming up with solutions?
  • Trust your gut. If an organizer’s website or telephone manner resonate with you, that’s a good reason to pick her (or him).
  • Don’t bargain shop. This is a field where fees are usually commensurate with training and experience. If you’re challenged by chronic disorganization, for example, you’d be wise to select an organizer with training and experience in working with chronically disorganized clients. And you may well pay more for that.

Working with an organizer

  • Resist the temptation to clean up for your organizer. If your home is messy, you may feel embarrassed. Try to set that aside so that the organizer can see the natural state of your home in order to help you best. Mess and piles can provide clues.
  • Be honest. Try not to anticipate what the organizer wants to hear. Instead, just answer all questions honestly, even if you’re a little embarrassed. Your organizer can help you best if you’re honest in everything you tell her.
  • Be realistic. How long have you been dealing with disorder in your life? Probably quite some time. Unfortunately, organizers don’t have magic wands, so we can’t fix things instantly. Recognize that this is a process that might take awhile.
  • Be prepared to learn new behaviors. If you’re dealing with a lot of clutter, the first step might be decluttering. But after that, you’re more than likely going to need to change your habits and create new routines to ensure that the clutter doesn’t come back. If you don’t change your behavior, the order that you and your organizer create might be temporary.
  • Do your homework. If you and your organizer agree that you’ll do homework, try to accomplish it. If you don’t it’s usually not a big deal. But being honest and realistic about the prospect of what you can accomplish between appointments can help your organizer better plan the next session.
  • Trust your gut (again). If you’re not clicking with your organizer, don’t be afraid to talk with her about it. This is intimate work and it’s essential that you have a trusting relationship and work well together. If you don’t feel it’s working with the organizer, perhaps the two of you can come up with a solution. If no solution is in sight, perhaps you can ask her for a referral.
  • Keep your appointments. If you book an appointment with an organizer, try to keep that commitment. She’s set aside time for you and scheduled around that appointment. Last-minute cancellations can be costly for the organizer. And they’re costly for you, too, since you can’t get help if you don’t keep appointments.
  • Expect backsliding. Most clients experience some backsliding, when life gets in the way and newly learned behaviors fall by the wayside. If you backslide, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed or your organizer isn’t effective. It just means you need to renew your efforts. Or perhaps tweak our systems.
  • Be brave. It can be scary to let someone into your house for the first time in ages. It can also be scary to admit to your organizer that you haven’t done your homework or that you’ve not been able to maintain the order you created together. But organizers, by and large, are compassionate and non-judgmental people. Getting past the fear can help put you on the path to an orderly life.

When you hire a professional organizer, you’re making a time and financial commitment to getting organized. Often, you’re making an emotional commitment as well. That can be very powerful!

Janine Adams is a certified professional organizer and owner of Peace of Mind Organizing. She specializes in working with chronically disorganized client, primarily in their homes, helping them create the order they crave. She blogs regularly at her website and offers concise, downloadable Organizing Guides for purchase. With life coach Shannon Wilkinson, she also offers a 28-day e-course called Declutter Happy Hour.

Your Home Inventory Portfolio

By Jennifer Morehead

I put together a home inventory because I wanted to know the value of the stuff in my home. I thought, if I can log into a website and see the exact value of my investment portfolio, why can’t I do the same for my home inventory portfolio?

In our household we keep track of insurance, investments, bank accounts, you name it. But in the past we weren’t diligent about recording information for the things in our home. And when you add up all of your stuff it equals, on average, 70% of the value of your home. Considering that the average U.S. home price is nearly $275,000, that’s coming close to $200,000. Can you believe that nearly $200,000 usually goes unaccounted for in most households?

I talked to different claims adjusters, and combined with surveys I did on home inventories, it seems that approximately 12% of the population has made a home inventory.

The process we created on Lockboxer is easy to follow. You take a few pictures of each room and closet in your house, upload your pictures, and then our website makes it easy to “grab” details about your stuff. It only takes an hour on the site once you’ve taken your pictures.

I have talked previously about how I would like to run my household like the floor of a successful retail store with old inventory being sold at a discount and new inventory continuously coming in. It all starts with a home inventory portfolio that is accurate and up-to-date.

Think of how you can manage ‘poor-performing assets’ like the couch in your basement that is only losing value. On Lockboxer, you can choose to make an informed decision about how and when to sell it or donate it, instead of rushing out the door on Dec. 31 frantically looking for a drop-off donation location.

I realize that I’m talking about stuff like it has no sentimental value. I am likening my stuff to lifeless stocks and bonds. But to be honest, most of the stuff in my home doesn’t have a lot of sentimental value. Maybe that’s just me or maybe it’s the current state of our society where you can pick something up at a store and there wasn’t a lot of hand-craftsmanship that went into it. At any rate, I hold certain items very dear but for the most part, I’m happy to have a home inventory portfolio that lets me effectively manage the stuff in my home.

Your Home, the Retail Store

By Jennifer Morehead

I have done a lot of research on making a home inventory. Most blogs and websites start by telling you how unimportant people say a home inventory is and that it lives at the bottom of any to-do list. Sure you might have been told by an insurance agent or friend to do it but you just haven’t gotten around to it. Then they sprinkle in a bit of fear to really get you motivated.

So I wanted to talk about why I put together a home inventory. Yes, I live in fear of one of those catastrophic events just like anyone else. We have insurance on everything, it seems, including pet insurance for our dog. But in reality, the likelihood of one of those crazy events happening is small (thank goodness).

I wanted a home inventory so I could have a running total of the value of our stuff.

I have this weird way of categorizing anything that crosses my path and needs money: is it an investment or an expense? Most items count as an expense (especially, sigh, those Rock & Republic jeans). You pay money for it once and you get the experience of using it, wearing it, eating it, etc. but basically the dollar amount goes down after you use it.

As I’ve gotten older, the shelf life on my clothes, purses, coats, and other items has gotten longer. But now that we have young kids, we’ve entered a phase where all of their stuff has a really short shelf life. Now we’re entering phases every 6 months where their toys should be different and they need new clothes.

In my ideal world I would run my home like a Gap or Zara store. Zara is famous for getting fresh inventory every 6 weeks and we know that the Gap is constantly letting us know we need skinny jeans, then boyfriend jeans, then boot-cut jeans, and then we’re back to skinny jeans (usually within a calendar year).

My husband Brad always gives me a hard time because when I tell him about my dreams to redecorate our bedroom or bring in a painting to the dining room he asks how we’re going to pay for it. I always tell him that I have a plan. He teases me because in my mind I truly believe our old bedroom set or living room set will sell for “something like $10,000 each on eBay or Craigslist.” I’m usually completely out of touch, considering we didn’t pay that much for either in the first place.

But wouldn’t it be nice if you could run your home like a retail store? You could have new, fresh items sprinkled throughout your home’s décor while efficiently getting older inventory out the door. Afterall, if you wait too long, certain items don’t carry a value at all anymore. Then you’re just paying for them to be moved or stored or you’re lugging them to the donation bin.

We’re aiming to help people create that type of efficiency with their stuff on Lockboxer. The Lockboxer tool starts with the price and helps people add as much detail as they want to their home inventory. Then they can sell, donate, or make that wish list for something new. That way, no one is caught being out of touch about the value of their stuff.