It’s time to get organised…

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These are my actual budget files…I mean, how can I not be organised with such cute files..right?

 

If I had to give you one tip for the successful juggling of all the priorities in your life,  it would be GET ORGANISED!

I truly believe that being super organised is one of the most important lynch pins to being successful, no matter what you are trying to achieve.   From writing your life goals, to everyday To Do lists.   Being organised streamlines your life and helps you target in on what really needs to be achieved.

Now,  it would be fair to say at this point, that you are probably therefore assuming I am an organised person. And I’d really like to be able to say that you are right…but, sadly…no.

Someone said to me once, ” there is a difference between being interested in something, and being committed to something.”

And boy am I interested in organising.  I LOVE it,  I get excited just thinking about it.   Send me to Office Works to look at pens, files and folders,  and see my heart rate zoom through the roof.   I read blogs about it.  I have books.  I cry with joy when I receive a Kikki K gift voucher.  The IDEA of being organised thrills me beyond belief.

But I’m sorry to say I’m letting the team down here.  I have let my organisation slip and slide until there is not much left. My cupboards are a mess.  We no longer have a streamlined budget system.  Paperwork is overflowing in the intray. I stomp around the house like an angry dinosaur in the morning, yelling “where are the keys?” at anyone who dares to stand in my path,  my face getting hotter as I realise we are going to be late because I can’t find the keys AGAIN,  and if I was more organised this would not be happening.  I shove things into draws and the room downstairs, vowing to sort them out…later.

So I was super excited that perhaps during my big summer holiday, I might have some time to spend getting things a bit organised in our house.  I started in the kids bedrooms before Christmas.   Culling out their cupboards, under their beds, their baskets…making three piles,  charity, bin and sell.   I was amazed (and slightly embarrassed) by the number of garbage bags heading out the door.  And it felt awesome.  It reminded me how much I enjoy getting organised,  but also, how much easier life is when you know where things are, and where things go.

So, I’m setting myself a mission…my organisation and productivity challenge.  And I’m telling you about it, to keep me committed to my word.  I’ll share my progress with you, how my little projects are helping to streamline our household and my work (or not).  I know that not everyone has quite the same level of interest and excitement in the organisational world! but maybe they’ll be some tips/tricks that I share which will help you embrace your inner organisational queen too.

First up…that damn key box…it is overflowing with “I don’t know what” and it ain’t helping to hold the keys.

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Hmm…I know the keys are in here somewhere

 

Here we go..organisational project #1…how will I go now I’m back juggling work and home… well, I’m determined…and I’m not just interested, I’m committed baby.

claire2

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procrastination…yes, I am the queen

IMG_0166 I’m an uber procrastinator.  If there was an award for procrastination, I would quite possibly win it (as long as I didn’t have to submit some kind of nominations,  because I probably would procrastinate on that).  Most of the time I need some kind of hot rod up… well…you know… to get me moving. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not lazy.  No.  I don’t lie in bed procrastinating,  I just jump from task to task like some crazy frog person until time runs out and …BUZZZ…time is up and I fall into bed exhausted after another day of doing…well…everything but nothing at the same time. Like today, I decided that I was going to do some writing tonight.  I have heaps of ideas spilling over in my brain for the blog,  posts which are going to be AWESOME (if I ever actually got them on paper).  My husband is out,  kids in bed…perfect.  And I know I LOVE writing.  I always feel great after I have splurged some of the ideas out of my never quiet brain.  But lets take a little look at what I have actually done so far…

  • tidy up the kitchen
  • Washed the dog (to be fair, he was REALLY dirty)
  • Made some tea
  • Made a snack
  • Started a clothes wash
  • Vaccumed
  • Read my facebook
  • checked my email
  • started sorting some paperwork…

Seriously,  is something wrong with me?  Why can’t I focus on something I know that I really want to do? I think this might fall under the category of “mindfulness”,  being able to focus on one thing at a time.  Really giving that thing your attention, your full attention.   There is also something more daunting about starting something big, or more important, and far easier to try to tick the boxes with some little things instead.  And, it’s hard to focus on the important things when the little every day things are niggling at you. OK..so lets start this again.  I’m writing a list,  oh boy do I love a good list…a list of things that actually really need to be done this evening.  And I’m prioritising writing, so it’s going to be the first thing that I do.   I’m putting a timer on. 30mins.  That’s it, whatever I can punch out in 30min and then I will stop. IMG_0165 Wait…look at that….I’m nearly done already.  That wasn’t so hard.  I feel great now.  Why did I faff around so much in the first place?   Now, what is next on the list.   Tidy out the study cupboard?  hmm… I’ll just go make a cup of tea first… claire2

Are you really busy?

This morning I was running around like a headless chook (as usual),  I’ve managed to do my exercise (tick),  get the lunches ready (tick), tidy the house (tick) dropped the kids on the school walking bus (tick) and now I’m at work and my mind is buzzing.  I have about 20 screens open on my computer (literally), although I have two screens so surely that’s not too bad?  I have every social platform open, plus a few other websites and my personal email.  Then my work email, plus my work messaging system.  Powerpoint, Word and Excel are all open with a least one file on each (Excel has two), and the media player is on because i started to watch a video then got distracted.

There’s pinging and popping coming from several devices and my to do list is buried under a pile of…who knows what…

Phew…I’m exhausted just writing about it.

Suddenly I’m hearing little whisperings in my head….I think it’s Emma.  Yep,  its Emma.

Recently I had the pleasure of attending a seminar at work, led by Emma Grey from WorkLifeBliss on the 7 types of busy.   I loved it.  OK, so first confession is that I was already a fan of Emma’s,  I’ve been following her blog for a long time now and completed her 15min Challenge program.  So I was super excited when I had the opportunity to attend this session through my work.

Whilst there is so many things in today’s hyperdriven culture that we can’t control,  there are also a lot of things that we can…and sometimes we dig our own holes (well…she didn’t exactly say that but that’s totally what I do…I’m a great digger).

Anyway, since that call, “Emma” has been showing up quite a lot in my conscious, reminding me of some of the tips and tricks I should perhaps be following.   Like every “good conscious” does,  she’s sitting on my shoulder reminding me about the importance of being focused,  and not multi-tasking so much…because frankly, pretty much NO ONE is a good multi-tasker.

I remember a friend talking about going for a job interview as a Air Traffic Controller once.   And part of the preliminary testing was giving the candidates four different exams,  then each time the buzzer went, they had to change exams,  PLUS,  there were also some verbal questions which were randomly thrown over the loud speaker.  It is designed to test how well your brain can effectively multi-task, picking up exactly where you left off from an exam 10min earlier.   Needless to say, they failed that test, and I think most of us would.

Right now, Emma is telling me to shut down some of the apps on my computer.  To find that to-do list and change it to a “could do” list…and find those big hitter items which I really actually need to get done…So… now I’ve set myself a timer. 30min on the first task before I moved onto the next one.   Tick.   Next.   Oh my goodness,  i suddenly feel so much better.  All the overwhelm I had been feeling earlier has started dropping away.  I feel like I am back in the drivers seat and in control (and we all know how much I love control).

So, thank you mini Emma, for turning up again and getting me back on track with your little tips and tricks.  Of course, Evil Claire on my other shoulder (who shalt not be named) is now weeping because we haven’t checked facebook in over an hour…she’s not happy…but we’ll talk about her another day….

claire2

Stop making excuses…

parttimeThis morning I stopped myself mid sentence,  because I was about to break one of my golden rules.

You see… when I first started working part-time,  I felt really guilty when I was leaving the office before everyone else or when I couldn’t join a meeting because it was outside my agreed hours.   I had heard so many stories of other part time workers ending up working on their days off and late at night to catch up on commitments,  that I was determined to set good habits right from the start.   But I found myself constantly trying to explain myself and then feeling guilty (I swear I saw my full time colleagues rolling their eyes at me and I wanted to prove I wasn’t a slacker)

“I’m really so sorry I can’t get that work done,  I have to go pick the kids up from childcare, and then tonight my husband is away and I won’t be able able to get this done until Monday” 

“You’ve suggested a meeting on Wed, but I’m afraid I work part time and I don’t work on Wed,  I could do it if we really have to but in the morning I take my toddler to swimming, so I really can’t do that time”.  

I felt constantly guilty.

Then, someone gave me some great advice which I implemented immediately and it made the world of difference…stop giving unnecessary explanations.  Even when you work full time,  you can’t complete every job or attend every meeting, you have to make choices.   The discussion should not be about whether you work part time or full time, or what your commitments are outside of work,  it is about prioritising what needs to be done in the time that you have available.

And so I did.  Simply as that.  And it changed everything.

I’m not hiding or pretending to be someone I’m not.   And sometimes, I do have to pull out my family card and lay it on the table.   But mostly,  if I stop and think before I speak…I realise that what I’m doing outside of work is really not relevant or the point.  When work needs to be done by a deadline,  which I can’t achieve,  I work with stakeholders to re-arrange priorities or push out deadlines…not “because I work part time” but simply because the goal cannot be achieved in the timeframe provided.

Of course, I am fortunate enough to work in a flexible work environment where part time work is not uncommon.  But I think this one simple change helped not only to shape my perception, but also change the working culture around me.  Because when I’m not blaming part time work for not getting things done,  no-one else is either.

This one little tip I think has really helped me to drop some of the guilt around working part time,  which, quite frankly,  I carry enough of already…so this morning when I went to say  “unfortunately I can’t do the meeting on Wed because it is my day off”…I stopped myself midsentence and said instead ” unfortunately I can’t do the meeting on Wed….how does Thurs sound? or I’m free on Friday morning, what works for you?”.  Simple.

claire2

I have 1hr of freedom…

2014-11-05 06.03.48Oh my goodness, on Sunday I got back from my a walk and found my husband and children gone.   Yep, he has taken them OUT and they are not due back for an hour.   This means I have the house TO MYSELF.   This is a rare occasion and I am both excited and anxious. Yep…anxious.

I have an hour, one precious hour.   But how do I choose what to do with my time? What will be the most productive use of my time?   Shall I go fill a bath? No, a bit too early. Read my book? Nah not in the mood.   Look around, the house looks like a bomb has hit it. If I just whizz around a do some tidying up, I’ll feel so much better. Yep. That’s what I should do.   Wait, the dog is giving me the eye…he does need walking, perhaps I should tick that off instead? Although I have just been for a walk.   Oh, that’s right, there is a mountain of clothes that need folding and putting away. I should really get onto that. Plus, I have been meaning to do a cupboard clean out for months and I’m always complaining I should get onto that. Would this be the time to start?   ARGHHH….15min gone now.

I’ll just finish cleaning the kitchen and then I’ll decide.

Surely I should be relishing this time on my own doing something a little more special? But I can’t help myself, the chores are calling my name…I can’t ignore them. I suddenly remember a blog I was on  reading on “The Other Side of 40” about the joys of dancing around the house on your own. .

OK, I’m putting some music on, I’ll tidy up and then I should have time to have a cup of tea on the balcony. Music is on ….LOUD.

And now I’m dancing.   I’ve worked out a special move which involves a complex jumping pattern over kids toys and dirt on the floor. But suddenly I don’t care about the chores anymore. I’m bouncing around the house, my own little personal dance party.   I remember doing this as a child, as a teenager. There is a crazy feeling of freedom when you dance like no one is watching (because there really is no one watching). I’m feeling good. Maybe I’ll forget the washing, and do some writing…

And suddenly…Time is up… the car drives back up the driveway. I look around. I’ve done nothing productive. Achieved ZERO.

And yet I feel GREAT… time used wisely?   Eventually, yes!

My personal cheerleader…

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I’ve talked before about some of the bad managers I have had during my career… like Teflon,  or the manager who threatened to throw her laptop at me (and I haven’t even written about “the aggressor” yet).  But mostly, I have had the pleasure of working under some pretty amazing, influential and inspiring managers.

I believe Managers are the single biggest influence in your workplace.  Doesn’t matter where you work or what you do,  the person you work for has the power to truly engage you in what you do,  or make you walk away from an awesome project.   And it is not easy.  When I was a Manager,  I suddenly realised how hard the job is (I spent so many years thinking “I’m going to be such a good boss, just give me the reigns and I’ll run this joint”), then you realise just how different every employee is, the bureaucracy that Managers often have to deal with and how many ridiculous curve balls Managers are thrown on a daily basis.  And in the social age… the manager role is becoming even more complex, as businesses become more open and collaborative.

So what has bubbled to the top in my experience?

My personal favourite leaders are calm and collected (to counter my sometimes passionate rollercoaster riding),  they listen way more than they speak (they need to, with me on their team!),  they empower and trust me (let me loose with an objective and the freedom to achieve it) and most of all,  they make me feel like I’m amazeballs.

That last point is often the most important for me.  That regular reassurance that I’m on the right track.  The constructive suggestions to support my momentum.  The faith that I can do it,  even when I don’t believe that I can.  The willingness to overlook some of my weaknesses because they can see my strengths.    Like your own personal cheerleader.

And it can’t all be about work.  A great Manager knows when to ask how things are going outside of work,  is tuned into your tone on a bad day and gives you the support and space when you need it.   This has happened to me recently and I can’t tell you how much that meant to me, and the commitment I gave back to work in return was ten fold.

Just like everything in life,  it doesn’t always happen this way.  And, as I’ve said before,  working under some bad Managers gave me skills I may never have learnt if I hadn’t been forced into it sometimes.   So I try to see it as a win:win situation,  bad manager = great, what can I learn from this experience, what new skills can I develop from turning this challenge into an opportunity?..and when a great Manager comes along,  I take every opportunity to learn from them, grow and hopefully progress.

If you’re a Manager,  are you helping your team to thrive the hard way or the easy way today?

A little bit of sunshine in my office

It continues to amaze me how much work environment really does impact your mood, motivation and essentially your engagement at work.   This week I was extremely fortunate to get a beautiful massive bunch of flowers given to me.  They were sitting out on the kitchen table when I suddenly realised I should totally move them to my office (especially since the bunch was so big I could keep some in the lounge and some in my office).    It spurned me on for a little office clean up,  tidied up my files, wiped down the counter and boy does it feel good.   Just walking in this room lifts my spirits.

I have to say that it wasn’t always this way.  I spent several years working in a tiny room under our house, it was cold,  dark, messy  and dingy.  I used to wear a beanie, scarf and fingerless gloves to work.   Not surprisingly i wasn’t feeling my most engaged during this time.

So when I had the opportunity to create my own office space,  I relished in the light bright space I was able to create.  I’m still waiting for the perfect chair to sit in the corner  (for when I am pondering very important strategies), and more shelving etc etc.  But when I walk into this room I feel a great sense of joy and empowerment.  My space.

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And you don’t have to have your own office space to create the same feeling.  Years ago I worked in an office environment that my team had affectionately called “the prison”.  Now, I’m not sure exactly how much affection was in that term really…because it was pretty horrid.   Someone had complained about the light from outside (that would be the sun!) on their computer screens.  The wise office management team thought an appropriate solution was to cover the entire window in brown paper.  Yep…it’s true…the WHOLE floor to ceiling window.   Unfortunately, they also insisted the paper had to stay until a more permanent shading system was implemented….which incidentally was literally YEARS later.    Although it was pretty horrid, I was still surprised when this came up as a top issue in one of our employee engagement surveys. But really, why was I surprised that my employees were uninspired, when I’d given them an uninspiring work space to work with?!   So after a bit of creative thinking and a couple of late night stints (complete with pizza and a lot of laughter) we covered that brown paper with branded posters,  hung fish from the ceiling (yes fish…it’s a long story…) and painted our cubicle poles.  So whilst it was may still have been a tad dark,  the enthusiasm and colour of our teams still radiated through.

In a few weeks time my real office (not my beautiful chillin home office space) are moving to a new location and launching a new office design,  where no one gets an allocated desk and the space is split into different work related sections..like a “collaboration” space and quiet space.  I expect this may be a challenge for some people.   I wonder what spirit this new space will evoke in those teams? I love this little experiment and might have to sneak into the office a few times in the next month and see how it feels.

In the meantime, I’m blissfully happy in my little work sanctuary, where I can smell the roses…literally….