How Disorganization Led to My Near Arrest…(a true story)

To begin with, I’d like to defend myself. In this country, we are innocent until proven guilty…

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The fact of the matter is that I’m a busy gal. I’m a single mom, college student, have a bit of a social life, and am a business owner. Not the kind of work where you show up on a regular schedule, do the same old thing, and then go home. No, the kind where you juggle everyone else’s lives simultaneously. So, I have a lot of balls in the air at any given moment. Things were going great without a hitch, until my doctor tinkered with my thyroid hormone dosage (as described here) and I had a hard time regaining equilibrium.

And then one day I received a letter from the government…I was to show up for jury duty at the end of the following month.

Cool! I was just starting a business law class for the summer and had never been called up for jury duty. Should I put it on my calendar? The new phone calendar I had wasn’t as good as the one on my old phone and the reminders weren’t so obvious. No, I’d put the letter on the fridge where I’d be constantly reminded (I don’t really have anything else on it) and surely it was so important that I would remember.

And I did remember!

I thought about my impending duty regularly, especially in law class when my teacher inquired during her lectures whether we had ever been on a jury. I’d say to myself, “I will be towards the end of this month.” …the problem is that time flies, the day came quick, and I had not been keeping track of the current date.

So, as I sat in law class one evening, it dawned on me…I was supposed to have been on the jury THAT MORNING! 

When we were dismissed I flew to the car and called my teenager. As he read the letter out loud to me, I panicked! I had indeed missed jury duty. What would happen to me? It was 8 pm so no government office was open for me to inquire of–I called anyways and got a recording.

I texted my mom who told me they usually come for you immediately. “Come for you?!” “Yes.” I texted a local police officer friend of mine. “They put a warrant out for your arrest,” was the reply. “Stop messing with me,” I said. “This is serious.”
Him: “I am serious. This is so great! I can’t wait to arrest you! Haha!”

I checked the county’s website to see if my number had in fact been called up but I was still in my car and had a hard time navigating it on my phone. I Googled “what happens if you skip jury”, and got the same answer. Sometimes a fine, but usually a bench warrant out for your arrest with up to three days in jail. I knew I’d never survive in prison!

Desperately, I returned to the county site to look for answers…and found them. I stumbled upon a page where it listed all of the juror numbers that had been called up for the week and found my number among those that had been dismissed!!!! Relief came over me in waves. Then I shuddered a little thinking again of how I would not have survived in the slammer. A resolve was made then and there to re-institute a better calendar and reminder system.

And so my dear readers, please learn from my mistake and please remember: organization is not just desirable– it’s a necessity! (If you’d like to avoid a run-in with the law!)

Illness and Disorganization

“…what about a health issue that silently steals your motivation?”

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Many times when I enter a situation, I find a homeowner who is perfectly capable and could have handled their mess on their own along the way. So what happened? Life.

Often, there has been some major life event that has stalled progress and productivity, and it’s not uncommon for it to be health related. Whether it’s a major personal health problem or an issue with a family member, it puts organization on the back burner. But what about a subtle health issue that silently steals your motivation?

Depression would be the most obvious. A person may know what things need to be done, but may simply not have the want-to. And other hormonal imbalances go hand in hand with this as well.

I’ll take myself for an example. A few months ago, I felt on top of the world and my schedule. In fact, a friend called me and inquired how I had been doing recently, and mentioned how busy I had been. “I feel like I’m killin’ it!” was the reply and I proceeded to tell her how excited I was at the fluid motion of my pace. Fast forward a little…

My doctor and I decided to lower my thyroid supplement dose a little and wow, did it take awhile to regain my balance! Until then, I struggled to keep things together and paired with some other life changes…chaos followed. And it led to one hilarious situation in particular which I will save for a future post.

In any case, if you are struggling with your organizational skills, consider whether it may be an underlying health problem– especially if you’ve been organized in the past.

Clearing Your Inbox

Do you still get emails from dating sites when you’ve been married for 10 years? (and you swear you’ve unsubscribed!) Did you enter an obscure contest and now you’re getting daily ads for melon ballers?

HOW CAN YOU CLEAR ALL THE SPAM?!
I’ll tell you 🙂

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Try any of these methods (the best is last!):

1. Instead of throwing those emails in the garbage, remember to actually mark them as spam. Good email clients such as Gmail are good at learning what you don’t want. (And speaking of Gmail, consider switching if you’re with someone else. In my experience, you’ll get less spam that you haven’t signed up for with them as compared with some others)

2. Many email clients offer a large unsubscribe button or link at the top of the email now, instead of scrolling to the bottom to search for it. Still, this takes some time if you need to unsubscribe from several lists. So up next is my favorite!

3. Try Unsubscriber or Unroll.me
You can click your way to an uncluttered inbox as these services will do the work to go thru the steps to unsubscribe you. These add up to a real time savings!

Reclaiming My Time- App Usage

I’ve wanted to do this for awhile. And yet, I didn’t…

But I’ve recently heard that the average person will spend about 4 years of their life on a smartphone.

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If there’s one thing I hate to waste– it’s my time. But ignorance is bliss, and as long as I wasn’t aware of how much time was slipping thru my fingers, maybe it wouldn’t bother me.

There have been apps out for awhile that could keep track of how much I was watching funny videos or browsing facebook, but did I really want to know? Did I really want to stop?

Truth is, for all of my shortcomings, I’m a pretty productive person. But I couldn’t help but wonder how many moments I was missing out on. How much time that my loved ones saw my face only in the blue light of a screen.

And so, the journey begins. This morning I downloaded an app simply named “App Usage”. It will keep track of my comings, goings…and lingerings on my phone. Wonder what wonderful activities and people this will make time for? Oh I’ll still have downtime. But now hopefully it will be spent in better ways 🙂

Wish me luck!

ADHD and ORGANIZATION

How can four little letters lined up in a tidy row make neatness so difficult? Yet tidiness is one thing that brings clarity and peace to every mind.

Photo by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash

 

And even if we pitch the letters, what about the fact that we all start cleaning one space and wind up lost in another and then another, forgetting the original intent? Staying on task when organizing can prove difficult, so here are some tips to get it done!

  1. Set a timer- work on one task for about 15 min and don’t leave it until you hear the alarm! Then set a new goal, working in small increments. Almost anyone can keep focus for that amount of time, and the timer will keep you accountable. If you have a family, also consider regular 15 minute clean ups.
  2. Break it down! Similar to making small sections of time, break down your home into small spaces. Edit one cabinet, one storage bin, only one toy box at a time. Then move on to another type of task until the next day or so. Small victories and achievable goals will encourage you to go on!
  3. In keeping with the above, always keep boxes nearby clearly marked for “donate”, “trash”, or “somewhere else”. This will keep you from walking away from the project every few seconds– those items can be dealt with afterwords.
  4. Do it now! If after you’ve  tidied, you have things to donate, return, ship to a family member, etc, do it ASAP! Better yet- organize a donation in advance! This will keep leftover items from hanging around while forgotten or put back into circulation.
  5. Treat your ADHD: Some studies point to a link between shopping/impulse buying and ADHD. Many of my clients find that they simply lose desire to fill time this way once treated. Also, think of organizing as a form of treatment.
  6. Recruit a tidy friend or a professional organizer- why? Because they will help to keep you on task and everything seems more doable when you have help!

I notice a vast difference in those with attention issues once things are tidied up. Not only does the novelty make them feel happier, but putting things where they are easily located greatly reduces stress, and brings focus. Look thru the lenses of an organizer– life could be a completely different experience 🙂

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Cutting Out Christmas Clutter

Ah-the most wonderful time of the year! But, unfortunately, all the “decking” of the halls, Black Friday and Cyber-Mondaying, and general merry-making leads to stress due to clutter, both mental and physical.

Photo Credit Andrew Neel

 

So here is your Official Guide to Holiday Sanity:

  • Buy experiences for gifts: this is an especially useful suggestion for grandparents who tend to overbuy and contribute to unwanted clutter. Suggestions could be tickets to a sporting event or show, yearly passes to the zoo, museum or state parks, or even one-time experiences such as a sailboat-navigating lesson.
  • Better stocking stuffers! Resist the urge to buy cheap, breakable toys that will be jammed into junk drawers. Instead, purchase card games (or a plain deck of cards with printed instructions for several new games), ornaments that can be hung, or things that will be used up such as holiday scented hand sanitizers, fun school supplies, and creamy body wash for dry winter skin. If you’re like me and don’t like to fill stockings with a too many sweets, instead opt for some nuts, or exciting new flavors of gum.
  • Out with the old, in with the new: January brings a lot of downtime with cold evenings that begin early. It’s a good time to make room for all the the new items received by donating unwanted items. This could also be done just before Christmas to keep kids busy on winter break– and they may be more easily convinced to edit their belongings for those who might need them.
  • Reconsider your decorations: Once you’ve pulled out your decorations and decided what to use this year, look at what’s left. If you haven’t used it in awhile, it’s broken, or the lights are out– now is the time to get rid of it. If it’s a family heirloom, consider sending it to a member of the family who will appreciate and use it.
  • Pare it down: If Christmas has become too complicated for you, it’s time to rethink. Accept only doable commitments, bow out of the rest. Shop online when possible. If you’re having guests, plan meals that can be thrown into the crockpot while you visit, and look up some breakfast recipes that can be prepared ahead of time and popped in the oven in the morning such as this overnight french toast dish.

 

Simplify so you can enjoy the holiday– take it down to just one partridge in a pear tree 🙂

Merry Christmas!

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

 

What are you waiting for? The power of NOW.

Procrastination used to be my middle name. Sometimes it still is.

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But, I found it got in the way of…life. When your friend calls–do you have time for a last minute concert or spontaneous coffee date? Have you noticed the weather is amazing but you’re stuck indoors cleaning up or working on a project for work?

The key to changing this is and having the life you want is in the word NOW. When you’ve been given something to do, take care of it immediately. Or maybe you need to take up some tasks in your down time instead of watching TV etc. Because at some point, you’ll have the opportunity to LIVE and whether or not you can seize it will depend on whether you’ve accomplished your other necessary tasks.

So, here’s how this looks for me: Right now I’m also taking some classes at the college. I have a syllabus and I know when things are due. Why should I wait until they’re actually due? Sometimes I have a window between classes or on a Sunday afternoon when friends are busy etc. If I stay ahead of the game, when someone asks me if I want to drop everything and head out to the mountains (this just happened) I can say “yes” without reservation or worry. This lowers my stress levels and enables me to enjoy my life.

So, ditch your procrastinating ways and get out there!

When Time is Up

Cancer. The diagnosis came to me over the phone and almost knocked me to the floor. While we watch dramas that glorify these types of moments and the actors live life out in some beautiful, bittersweet, touching way–this was no Hallmark film. And my very first thought as I looked at my son was, “Why did I waste so much time?”

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And because I’m writing this, you’ve probably guessed that I’m still here. And yet, that experience changed the way I looked at many things, like risk, money, and most of all: time.

And it’s very simple. I don’t do anything I don’t either really want to do, or have to do. I don’t say yes because I feel pressured to (think: my friend is having a party selling toaster covers), and I plan my life around my goals. What’s important to me. I run my day, and it doesn’t run me.

To get a better idea of how this is done, I’m including this video featuring Laura Vanderkam. She explains it beautifully.

Overwhelmed & Anxious? Do these 3 things

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There have been many years that my teacher at the school of hard knocks has given me an “F” and sentenced me to repeat a level. I’m no stranger to painful situations or sometimes just a multitude of duties which threaten to take me under.

Fortunately, I’ve learned something that helps me push thru the most difficult of hard times. 3 Things.

Maybe you’re waiting for me to tell you what those three things are, but first let me set the stage. See, part of the issue when we go thru troubles or simply deal with anxiety is that we are getting ahead of ourselves and our situations. Simply put, we are looking at everything at once. But at the present, there is no way for any one person to deal with it all.

And that’s why you’re going to take it one day at a time and do just 3 things. Any 3 things. If you’ve been following me, you know I’ve talked before about this as being a tactic of extremely organized people. However, this is an extremely effective strategy for anyone who needs to tackle the chaos of life.

So, it goes like this:

Right now, think of a few things that need to be done. Anything will do, but if you have one in which time is of the essence you may want to make sure to include that.

Pick which of those things is either the most pressing, or if you’re completely at break point, pick the one that seems most doable. Do that. Don’t worry about anything else. Just do that. When it’s finished and you get to check that off of your list (feeling better already!), knock out the other one or two things on your list.

Finally, feel accomplished. Meeting short term goals like this will help you not only move forward but make you feel good about everything else. Now, you’re gaining ground.

When you’ve done this, relax and make a new list for the next day. You can write it down, put it on your calendar, or if you’re like me you’ll email it to yourself. As more and more tasks begin to get knocked out, you’ll be bringing more peace to the areas of your life that are within your control.

So what are you waiting for? You can do this.

 

Minimizing Stress- what’s under my control?

In life, there are certain things that are out of our control. Other’s behaviors, weather patterns, cars that randomly start doing weird things, the fact that your computer acts up just when you’re trying to write a blog post… (oh wait! Maybe that’s just my current plight, lol!)

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But when things seem to be spinning out of control, do you really need the added frustration that comes when you can’t find the blouse you need for that interview or the piece of paper the bank is demanding to complete your mortgage process?! Enter organization. Some people feel that it’s difficult to stay organized or that they don’t have the time. However, it’s actually harder and more time consuming not to be!

Take charge of your life and time today by getting a handle on what you can change. It will make you feel better able to manage your every day- LIKE A BOSS!

Maybe you should try my organizing challenge starting with Day One? 🙂