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Organized 365: January

In flash, 1/12th of 2018 is has passed. Browse through a month of Organized365 tips and tricks. Select a few to act on and see what you can accomplish in our shortest month!

Organized365 1/365 Resolutions or no, today is the perfect time to conduct your own 2017 year in review while couch surfing. Reflect on the wins and wishes from last year as the new year dawns. While not a resolution, looking ahead to a special trip, event, or gathering provides focus as you move into the year. Make a list of all your hopes and dreams for 2018. They don't all have to turn in to resolutions or ongoing projects. Target a few and then follow along with us as we spend the next 364 days working toward a year of growth and sharing with friends old and new.

#Organized365 2/365 Take a look at the goals and dreams you are targeting and identify the people that you will need to rely on for success. Are they on board? Make connecting part of your process. Build toward your goals!

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Review your 2018 goals and the steps needed to achieve them. Then get them on your calendar.

Whether digital or print, having tasks and checkpoints on your calendar will help you stay on track into the future.

Hitting those dates will allow you to reflect and refocus as you check your progress. Celebrate your growth!

If you hit a road block, consider the cause, impact and solutions to get back on course.

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Do your goals and dreams for 2018 include opportunities in your professional life?

Annual performance reviews are being discussed a lot in business news. Companies are moving to more incremental, less formal ways of communicating with employees.

However, for individuals who want to drive their own professional advancement and growth, having a long view and reflecting on the larger picture is vital.

If you have targeted an area of your professional practice for growth in 2018, establish a collection point for information focusing on that area. Create a folder (digital or paper) to collect articles, blog posts, contacts and evidence of your work. Use it to drive growth. What connections can you make to learn more about this opportunity? Document the work and experiences you already have as well as the training/learning you plan to acquire to strengthen your skills.

Employee reviews are not just for the employer's benefit, employees can ask for the support and growth that they desire to advance and find satisfaction and enjoyment in their work.

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Manage the task that is in front of you.

Unexpected tasks crop up all the time both at home and at work. When this happens to you, deal with the "have to". Don't let these pop-up tasks derail you. Identify and address the have to. Plan for addressing less urgent related tasks another time, execute and move on.

Organized365 7/365 Identify a goal area for intense focus this week. Determine the amount of time you can devote to making significant progress on this goal. Could be 5 minutes/day, could be an hour. Realistically reflect your life/work schedule. Put the daily steps on your calendar as tasks to be performed. Need a reminder? Set your calendar up to send a reminder/notification. Anticipate the feeling of accomplishment you will experience at week's end when you look back!

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Capture Your Ideas!

Using your phone's camera or by texting yourself, you can make sure your brilliant but fleeting inspirations are captured for acting on in the future. Don't skip the critical step of reviewing the content in those texts and your photo albums for formal planning at work and/or home.

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Breaking A Bad Habit

Ridding yourself of a long-standing habit can be very challenging. To make it easier to break a bad habit, you may need to get tough.

Consider the actions and behaviors that are necessary to performing your habit. Make those actions as challenging as possible. Too much time on your phone? Place the charger is a far corner of your house or office. Some place so inconvenient that you cannot wait around and linger, using your phone as it charges.

Hope to cut back on the amount of coffee you are consuming? Move the coffee beans or k-cups away from the coffee maker. Move the coffee maker out of the kitchen or away from a ready water source. Move the coffee mugs while you are at it. Scatter those items and make it is tough and time-consuming as you can.

If it is inconvenient, almost impossible, to continue a habit you will have increased the likely good of your success in breaking it.

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Meal planning Rx

One of the most frustrating aspects of meal planning is deciding what to serve. If you are the family cook, making all of the food choices can be stressful. There is a lot of pressure in making healthy, tasty choices with enough variety to keep everyone happy.

A great solution is to have everyone contribute ideas for dishes they would like to eat. If they are short on ideas, provide a cookbook or two with guidelines for selecting a specific number of salads, chicken dishes, desserts, etc.

Everyone participates and looks forward to having their choices served and the cook no longer bears the burden of being solely responsible for family meals.

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"Just Do It!"

Taking care of a task is easier if executed as quickly as possible. Have a spill on your stove or in your fridge? Wipe it up before it dries and hardens, waiting makes it tougher to clean and will take more of your time.

That pile of shoes by the door will disappear more quickly if addressed when there are only 3 or 4 pair. Wait until there are more (and there will be) and it becomes a chore rather than a quick straighten up.

Ticking off small tasks is energizing. Watching a mountain of laundry or food stain sit and accumlate is draining. Take action and enjoy both the feeling of satisfaction AND the tidy space you have created.

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Email: Inbox Management - Step 1

If your inbox feels overwhelming and out of control, take a moment to consider the messages you receive on a regular basis. If you subscribe to newsletters that arrive on a daily or weekly basis, access the content for material you are actually interested in and read. If you find that you have a backlog of subscription newsletters sitting in your inbox waiting for you to have the time to read them, create a category or folder to filter those message into. You can read them at your leisure AND they will not clutter your inbox possibly obscuring messages that need more immediate attention.

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Email: Inbox Management - Step 2

Review the messages currently sitting in your inbox. How many are over a week old? How many are you holding to read that do not require an active response? How many are there "just incase"?

These messages should have moved out of your inbox. Your folders should be labeled in a manner that allows you (or a filter) to do this confidently.

Create or rename your folders so you do not have messages in inbox limbo.

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Email: Inbox Management - Step 3

Consider the timing of your email use. When do you spend a chunk of time sifting, winnowing and responding? How often to you check back?

Now consider when the majority of your messages arrive? Are they there waiting for you at the start of your day? Do they arrive primarily in the morning as colleagues begin their work day? How predictable is your inbox traffic?

Based on what you discover, plan to spend your time efficiently by giving your attention during heavy traffic times and focusing elsewhere without interruption during slow periods.

Depending on your work/life events, your routine may need to be altered as high demand events occur, particularly if the role you are playing is done remotely.

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Email: Inbox Management - Step 4

Monitor your email traffic over the next couple of days. Have you seen an improvement in efficiency based on the actions you have taken unsubscribing, sorting, and having email management as a planned part of your daily routine?

If you continue to feel overwhelmed with your email traffic. Identify the cause specifically. Then identify the factors that you are able to impact. This may require a conversation with a supervisor, colleagues or family members to find solutions. Solutions that work long-term will found only after a period of trial and error.

The health of your email inbox depends on consistently applied strategies and continuous attention to shifts that require adjustments in your routines.

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Resolution Reboot!

We are 16 days into the New Year. How are your resolutions coming along? Seem like it's too early to reflect? It's not!

For resolutions or any long-term change to be sustained, regular assessment, reflection and refocusing is necessary. Take some time and pay attention to how things are going, how are you feeling about your goal and your progress toward it.

Celebrate your successes. Identify the obstacles or challenges you have experienced. Make adjustments, ask for help, reboot and prepare to move forward.

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Take Action!

The concept of mindfulness is flooding our news and entertainment media sources. Being mindful is valuable but do not stop there. What will you accomplish in the moment you are experiencing? Reflection without action is daydreaming. Positive thinking alone is not enough.

You need to take action. That may mean making a change, saying "no" to a commitment, developing a plan/timeline for achieving a goal or learning a new skill.

What will you act on today?

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Herd of Hangers??

It is easy to end up with a herd of unused hangers in your closets. This is especially true if you have clothes dry cleaned on a regular basis.

In just a few minutes, you can sort through your closet, pulling out unused hangers. The pile of wire hangers that is likely to accumulate can be returned to the dry cleaners. You will be relieved, the dry cleaners will be grateful. #Win

To avoid having this clutter reoccur, place a container designated for wire hangers in your closet. As an item is taken off of a wire hanger to be worn, place the hanger directly into the special container. Now you can easily return them to the dry cleaners when you drop off or pick up clothing.

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Packing or Storage?

A strange phenomenon takes place when perception confuses reality and impacts the value we place on materials. I'm talking about those clear plastic zip bags in which some underwear and most linens are packaged. As we unpack the purchased item, the container often begins to take on a new value. What a useful item this could be! It's clear and has a zipper for easy containment of small items. It must be made useful, and suddenly this packaging becomes like a bonus treasure with which we are delighted.

While it is true that there are some situations that call for use of just such a container, they are limited. Once you have corralled the cords, batteries, post-its or whatever, it is not necessary to save additional zipped packaging for future use. This is where the line is often overlooked and leads to a collection of empty zipped bags that have morphed from packaging to storage to clutter!

Bottom line: Do use your repurposed packaging when you have a legitimate use. Once your storage needs are covered, dispose of extra or new packaging. It is not storage. It is clutter!

Bonus: Apply this process of use or disposal to like items: plastic or paper grocery bags, bread bag ties, etc. and free some living space for peace of mind.

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Designate a Home for Wallet & Keys

Consistency and convenience are the critical elements here. Location is less important. Keys & wallet maybe stored in the entryway, bedroom, office or kitchen wherever mades the most sense for you. That you designated a space that is on your route in and out will be what makes this a habit of convenience that you will allow you to be consistent and end that frantic search as you head out the door.

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Mail Call!

Sort mail immediately, each day. Much of ours goes in the recycling, some needs shredding and the remainder rests on the kitchen island until our next trip to the home office (bill paying central).

This addresses the majority of our mail.

Sorting immediately after retrieval from the mailbox makes sense (your looking through it anyway) and prevents stray bills from getting lost in a pile.

Retrieve, recycle, shred and act to keep your "snail mail" organized.

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Keep Learning

Successfully achieving your goal will almost certainly require learning. This may mean acquiring a concrete skill or gaining abstract understanding, likely both.

Plan for the learning acquisition to support goal attainment. What do you need to learn? Where can you gain the knowledge (do not overlook personal connections)? How much time will you need to devote to learning and how does it fit into your daily, weekly, monthly plan?

Life-long learning is essential to living a vital, fulfilling personal & professional life!

Organized365 23/365 Are you a list maker? I love making lists and adore crossing items off of my list......and then re-copying them. Because suggestions come during random conversations and some of my best thinking happens in the middle of the night, I gather tiny slips of paper with scribbles on them regularly to create a "master" to-do list. I often text myself ideas and suggestions during meetings and social gatherings. These items are copied and added to my paper lists. There are many ways to manage your to-do lists including using apps and online task managers, the choice can match individual preferences. Whatever your choice is, maintaining a to-do list is an proven strategy for ensuring that necessary tasks are completed and for reducing stress.