It’s National Garage and Storage Organizing Month! As the weather is warming up across the United States, now is a good time to take a look at what you’re storing in your garage, shed or carport.
Instead of waiting for a full weekend when you’ll feel motivated to tackle the project, choose one area to work on each week. Group similar items (sporting goods, gardening equipment, tools, car-care supplies, etc.) and determine where you will keep each. If you use the lawn mower every week, for example, you don’t want to have to dig it out from behind the pool toys each time.
There are numerous products made for organizing garages. Before you buy anything, however, take a look at what you already have for storing your stuff. In addition, you want to make sure that you’re not storing junk. That means discarding anything that’s broken beyond repair, that you have multiples of, or that you just don’t use anymore.
Dedicate a box to donations and take it to a non-profit when it’s full. Alternatively, you could set up a date for a pick-up, which might motivate you to finish the job. Then you’ll be able to pour a cold drink, admire the cleared-out space and find what you need, when you need it.
Timothy Pychyl is a professor of psychology who writes about procrastination. Solving the Procrastination Puzzle: A Concise Guide to Strategies for Change is a short book, making it easy to get through quickly.
Dr. Pychyl asks the reader to identify excuses used to justify procrastination, then to take action to meet stated goals. You may know that it’s important to break large projects into manageable tasks; in addition, Psychyl encourages readers to pre-decide – figure out how you’re going to handle situations before they arise. Forget about willpower. You have a limited amount and it’s too easy to put things off when you’re tempted by some other activity.
Each chapter in the book begins with a short phrase. Here are some of my favorites:
Procrastination is failing to get on with life itself
Feeling good now comes at a cost
I won’t feel more like doing it tomorrow
Like my oft-repeated advice “Just do something,” Pychyl says “Just get started.” You don’t have to finish, you don’t have to do it perfectly and you don’t have to feel motivated. Sometimes, just taking the first step is enough to get momentum going.
Finally, he discusses personality types and propensity for procrastination. Regardless of your tendencies, however, there are actions you can take to reduce procrastination, if not eliminate it altogether.
You’ll find lots of productivity advice on the Internet, much of it contradictory. In actuality, maintaining productivity doesn’t require anything fancier than a notebook and a calendar. Here are three strategies for using them that will increase your success:
Write everything down
I don’t believe anyone who says that they don’t need to write things down because they have a superior memory. No one’s memory is that good. Compare your mind to an overstuffed file cabinet – even if you could keep everything in your head, you wouldn’t be able to access it easily. Instead, dedicate one notebook to capturing all your ideas, conversations, observations and commitments. Promise to call someone back with an answer tomorrow? Write it in your notebook. Want to investigate sources of funding? Write it in your notebook. Need to remember to make a doctor’s appointment? Yes, put that in your notebook, too. You can’t start a new task every time a random thought goes through your mind, but you can write it down to take care of later. Of course, you need to refer back to your notes so you can accomplish the activities.
Schedule your critical work
It doesn’t matter whether you dedicate the first two hours of your day to essential projects or you close your door from 2-4 pm to focus on priorities. Maybe you prefer to come in before everyone else so you can dedicate energy to significant work. Figure out the time when you are best able to focus and when others can work best without your supervision. Mark the times in your calendar and treat them like appointments with your most important client. Make sure that people understand you are not to be disturbed during those times.
Finish what you start
You can’t always finish a project entirely in one sitting, but you can avoid interruptions that make you lose your train of thought. Answering the phone or reading a text while you’re trying to concentrate on a project causes you to refocus, which is a waste of time. You lose momentum while your brain “reboots” to return to the task. When you stop working on a project, make a note to indicate where you left off, along with any ideas that you were contemplating. When you return during your next scheduled session, it will be easier to get back into the job.
Use your notebook and your calendar to keep your mind clear and your projects flowing smoothly.
Being organized and productive allows you to save time and money, even when you’re doing the most mundane tasks. One of the principles I teach is storing things where you use them so you don’t spend time searching.
You need a convenient area to keep detergent, bleach and fabric softener in the laundry room that doesn’t create clutter and allows you to see what you have on hand. I recommend stocking a nearby cabinet or shelf with the products you use regularly. If you aren’t able to hang a shelf on the wall, the laundry shelf from Lillian Vernon allows you to keep supplies right on top of the washing machine.
If you have additional detergent in reserve, consider keeping it away from the regular supply in the laundry room, garage or utility cabinet, where you keep extra supplies. Having one place where you store surplus items allows you to monitor inventory and prevents making a last-minute trip for something you’ve run out of.
If you live in a place where you experience change of seasons, you have a cue to complete certain activities.
Spring is a good time to move the ice scraper from your glove box to a designated place inside your home. If you actually have gloves in your glove box, they can come out, too. While you’re at it, take everything out and vacuum the compartment before you put anything back.
Instead of shoving all kinds of things in that limited space, consider what you really need and what would be useful. You might keep a pen and small pad of paper, tire pressure gauge, the car manual, tissues and a mini first aid kit.
Remember that car interiors get hot – don’t keep anything in the glove box that could get damaged from heat exposure or any liquids that might burst out of their containers.
What essentials do you keep in your car’s glove box?
April is Stress Awareness Month and it’s important to remember that some stress can be good for you. You might work more diligently or feel more creative if you experience a little stress.
Sometimes, however, we create more stress for ourselves than necessary. That’s the premise of Manage Your Time To Reduce Your Stress by Rita Emmett.
You are in charge of your reality and you choose how you react to stressful situations. In fact, you might react to non-stressful situations in ways that create stress.
I like to remind people that you can’t manage time, but you can manage the things you do. As Emmett says, if you don’t manage your tasks, you create stress for yourself and others around you.
You can reduce stress by making some small changes:
- Write everything down so you don’t have to remember as much.
- Decide how you want to spend your time and learn to say “no” to activities you don’t want to participate in.
- Keep appointments on your calendar so you don’t end up double booking.
- Ask for help.
None of these ideas is earth-shattering, but it’s worth remembering that you can be productive, instead of just busy.
You can do your part to make every day Earth Day by considering what you buy and what you toss.
- Buy better quality and you’ll send less to the waste stream.
- Use up what you have so you don’t have to toss things that go bad.
- Consume less packaging and you’ll have less to dispose.
- Shop when you need something, not when you need entertainment
Happy Earth Day!