Get everyone involved
As parents, most of consistently try to do it all and get frustrated when we can’t. There are never enough hours in the day to keep up with activities, chores, work and home. Well, it’s never too early to let our kids help out. Sure, we may need to adjust our expectations a bit, but giving our children regular responsibilities like sorting their own laundry, making their own beds, or emptying the dishwasher can help the house to run much more efficiently. Consider setting aside an hour or so each week to complete a list of chores that anyone can do, things like cleaning mirrors, emptying waste baskets, or putting laundry away. It will feel good for all of you!
Organize your Cleaning
Do you find yourself starting a cleaning or tidying job in one room, only to carry one thing somewhere else and get completely absorbed in another room? Do you find it frustrating to clean your house because you can’t focus on one room at a time? Audrey Bertoni from HOPE Pro-Active Synergy Cleaning suggests this: Enter a room and follow a system. Clean what needs cleaning on the perimeter first, working one wall at a time around the room from floor to ceiling. This might include cleaning switch plates or tidying magazines in a basket on the floor. Once you have worked your way around the perimeter of the room, then it’s time to turn to the middle. Working this way makes it easy to keep track of where you’ve been and where you are going.
Start a Reading File
We always have articles to read. In fact, if you’re like me, the reading pile on my bedside table just keeps growing. One trick is to create a “to read” file of the books, magazines and articles you’ve been putting off reading. Then keep the most current reading in your car or your bag, so that you can use your time wisely when you have to wait for an appointment or a friend or family member.
We often become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tasks to be completed. To maximize your time, start the day by listing your priorities and imposing deadlines for yourself. It’s surprising how a 10 minute task can grow in our minds to become an all-day chore as we put it off. Suddenly, when we set deadlines and backwards plan to accomplish them, nothing takes as long as we think it will.
Handle Every Paper Once
A great deal of time gets wasted each day when we have to search for important papers and supplies. By keeping the supplies in your workspace organized, you will be better able to spend your time effectively sorting through your incoming mail and immediately filing, discarding, or responding to it. Remember, the general rule should be to “handle every paper only once” and deal with it immediately – either by filing, discarding or responding to it.
Learn to say "Yes" and "No".
Far too much misunderstanding and frustration occurs when we don't learn to say a clear yes or no. We often try to be too nice and say "Maybe" or "I might be able to do that", instead of being realistic enough to recognize when we are simply too busy to take on one more thing.
It would be great to learn not to say "Maybe" at all. Choose to say "Yes" or "No". People will respect your honesty and decisiveness. And by stepping away from overcommitment, you will feel much less pressure.
Separate Your To-Do List
I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating. Take a few minutes to look at this month’s to-do list. Now separate that list into 3 sections: those things that you personally have to do now, those things that can wait, and those things that you can pass on to someone else to do for you.
A client recently told me that she did this and found that she had to do her work stuff, and she had to be the one to visit relatives in the hospital, and she really wanted to enjoy her at-home time with her family, but she could assign her errands, her meal planning, her trip research and her gift shopping to me. One 5 minute phone call saved her over 4 hours of her own valuable time.
What’s your time worth to you?
Multi-Tasking - Are we as good at it as we think we are?
Here's a test:
Time yourself as you create 2 separate lists of the letters of the alphabet and the numbers 1 to 26.
First, alternate between the 2 sets of characters: a, 1, b, 2, c, 3 and so on.
Second, write out all the letters, then all the numbers.
Most people who complete this exercise find that switching between numbers and letters takes nearly twice as long - and their work is more likely to be riddled with errors - than when they focus on one set of characters at a time.
(from Reader's Digest, October 2010 issue)
Feeling overwhelmed at work this week? Consider taking a quick exercise break. A 2011 study from Stockholm University says that working out during the day could actually boost productivity, so the time spent exercising could actually help us get more done later.
Not sleeping because of your “monkey brain” spinning through all that needs to be done? Keep a notepad beside your bed and write yourself reminders when you think of them. Your mind will be able to relax when it no longer has to keep reminding you of all the things you can’t forget - - - it’s all written down. Relax Monkey Brain!
Simple Food Substitutions
When you're wondering where to begin in changing unhealthy eating habits, Canadian Living magazine suggests trying these simple food substitutions:
Instead of juice, try sparking water and save over 100 calories.
Instead of regular yogurt, try fat-free Greek yogurt for more protein and lower calories.
Instead of white potatoes, try sweet potatoes and you'll get the benefit of rich antioxidants.
Instead of peas, try edamame, which is high in protein, calcium, iron, zinc, and potassium.
Instead of iceberg lettuce, try kale for more healthy fibre.
- Canadian Living, June 2012
Too many books on your bookshelf?
Many of us buy book after book, read part or all of them, and know immediately that we'll never look at them or refer to them again. Separate out the books that you absolutely have to keep and give the rest away. Your local library will be thrilled with the donations! You can do the same thing with those movies and CDs that you thought you had to have. And think of all the happy library users who will benefit from your culling . . . I mean generosity.
And if that's too much to handle, ask TimeSquared to come in for an hour or so to pack up those unwanted volumes and take them away for you.
You'll love the space this one small exercise will open up.
Downsizing Your Files
Now that you’ve gotten your income tax information under control, are you trying to figure out how to stuff even more papers into your filing cabinet? And why you’re keeping them all?
If you’re wondering what to keep and what to get rid of, here is a system that I was given by an accountant friend of mine a number of years ago. It’s a good guideline to get you started on downsizing your files.
Monthly Bills – for 1 year
Home Repair Records – for 1 year
Warranties – for the length of the warranty
Insurance Documents – until they are expired
Home Documents – until the end of the home ownership
Business Documents – for 7 years
Auto Records – until the sale of the vehicle
Credit Card Records – for 1 year
Bank Records – for 1 year
Tax Returns – for 7 years
Organizing Your Stuff
Organizing expert, Deniece Schofield, says to ask yourself these questions when you next go through a box, a room, or a closet:
Do I need this?
How long has it been since I used this?
Do I need so many?
Then act immediately on each item. Put it in a container to donate to charity, to discard of, or to keep.
Christopher Richards of SlowDownNow.org suggests that, in order to find the elusive work-life balance, we need to consciously “Slow Down” – to slow down our thinking, our activities, and our minds. He says that, “Slowing down has the reward of honoring the unique you, and being present for yourself and others. And what’s more, you just may discover the joy in enjoyment.”
Imagine what you would do if you had an entire day – or even just a half day – to slow down and do exactly what you want. Nothing practical, not catching up, or getting things done. Just some You Time. What would you do? Who would you do it with? Where would you go? How would you feel?
It even feels good just to imagine it. Now take an hour and go do it! You’ll be better at work and at life when you do.
According to the AMA, there are a number of things you can do to protect your home and help you to relax while you get away this summer.
Arrange for your newspapers, flyers, and mail to be either suspended or picked up regularly while you are away.
Have someone keep up with the yardwork.
Use timers on your lights to give a lived-in look. Timers should be set in different rooms for various times.
Install motion sensor lights in the front and rear of your home. Remember to put them out of arms' reach.
Don't leave a key hidden outside your home. Instead, leave it with a friend or neighbour.
In addition to asking them to keep an eye on your home while you're gone, let a neighbour know how long you'll be gone and when you'll be returning. Also let them know if anyone will be at your home while you're away (such as a gardener or repair person), and how you can be reached in case of an emergency.
Turn off the water valve for any outside water taps. You may want to turn off the main water valve, depending on how long you will be away.
Have someone check your home regularly.
If you are leaving for more than four days, you must arrange to have someone check on your home or shut off the water and appliances. Some insurance companies could disallow claims for problems that occur while you are away if you haven't made arrangements. Check your policy to be sure.
Ensure all windows are locked and secure. Place a strip of wood in sliding window tracks for extra security.
If you have an attached garage, ensure it is locked and secure. Attached garages are another way of gaining access to your home.
Listen on the go
For years, I have gone through books I've wanted to read (but can't find the time to sit down and open) by listening to the audio versions while I work out.
Dying to read that new non-fiction book that's destined to change your life?
Curious about that new fiction bestseller you keep hearing about?
Load the audiobook up on your iPod or phone and listen to it while you run around doing other things. This is also a great way to keep up on podcasts you've missed or bone up on some classical literature. If you're stuck in the car commuting or on a long road trip, plug in a book and fill your time with something you'd rather be hearing.