Sharon C. Cooper

Just thinking…

Simplify Your Life

It’s that time of the year again – Spring Cleaning. This weekend while I revamped our home office and started my version of spring cleaning, I couldn’t help but think about the connection between having an organized living space and having an organized life. Typically, people who live in a cluttered / unorganized space, often have a cluttered and unorganized life. Think about it.

So whether you’re organizing your office or your life, here are five tips to get you started.

Start in One Area

Don’t try to organize the entire house at once: pick a single area. In my case I started with our home office. Not only did I start in the office, but I started in one specific spot in the office, and worked my way around. I know it sounds crazy – and yes, I’m anal like that – but it works. When it’s done this way, it doesn’t feel as overwhelming…and you’re not hopping all over the place. And most important, you see your progress immediately.

Next on the spring cleaning list – our bathrooms and the master closet. I can’t wait! I can see my husband shaking his head already – Ha! At least he won’t have to move furniture this time.

Everything has a Place

Normally, we don’t accumulate a lot of clutter, and in my opinion, it has to do with everything having a place. Usually things only pile up if there is no designated spot for it…or if you don’t actually put it where it goes.  So there should be a place for important papers, keys, hats, cleaning equipment, etc. When you start your spring cleaning or start re-organizing areas in your house, make sure you identify a place for everything. Oh, and can I just say – if you have a junk drawer- get rid of it! There is no reason any household should have a junk drawer. If it’s junk, throw it out!

Keep, Donate, Sell or Toss It

I’m a big fan of tossing things! Depending on what it is, if you haven’t used it in two years, it’s safe to say you can get rid of it. Granted I know we often keep things because someone special in our lives gave them to us – but at some point, you have to ask yourself (especially if you don’t have the space for it), “Is this something I really need to hold on to, or can I get rid of it?”

The last time I revamped our office space, it revealed just how many books we owned. Though I absolutely love-love-love books, I had to make a decision – either let them continue to over flow from the numerous bookshelves, or get rid of some. So I kept some, gave some away, and those that I’m selling (ongoing) are organized in several see-through containers. Note: I do have a time frame for how long I’ll keep the containers of books.

Lastly, in regards to this tip, when you’re sorting things out, don’t just sort the piles into more piles, place them into various containers as you organize the space. Plan to touch each item one time. Have boxes, trash bags, or storage containers on hand for the items you’re going to donate, sell, or toss.

A Little At a Time

Trying to do too much at once doesn’t work – especially if de-cluttering or organizing doesn’t come natural for you. Break the project up into small, manageable pieces. For example, if your desk is cluttered, maybe work on that first, and then give yourself a break before you tackle one of the piles you have on the floor (assuming you have several piles on the floor).

Seek Help!

I know organizing is not for everyone, and some hate doing it more than they hate going to the dentist. So get some help. Why stress yourself out doing something you’re either not good at doing, or you hate doing?

Side Note – Being organize can save time, your sanity, and in some cases money. For example: the tip about everything having a place – think about the time you’d save if you had a designated place for your keys, or bills. Looking for things not only waste time, but it’s extremely stressful! Hmm, now that I think about it, this tip could save you money! Just think – no late fee because you couldn’t find a bill!

In all seriousness though – the most important thing to note is – when you de-clutter and organize your living space, something happens within you…it’s as if you can breathe and think better. I’m a true believer that when you de-clutter your space, you simplify your life.

Try it – one area at a time.

March 14, 2012 Posted by | Multi-tasking, organization, simplify | , , , , , | 20 Comments

Multi-tasking is a Myth, Or So I’ve Been Told

For years I’ve prided myself on being able to get a lot done in minimum time. I even took on the Army’s old recruiting slogan – “we do more things before 8 a.m. than most people do all day.” That was me, getting an early start to my day to see how much I could get done before 8 a.m. I’ve always considered myself the ultimate multi-tasker, but now I’m wondering if my version of multi-tasking has really been as productive as I’ve thought. 

I’ve often heard people say – multi-tasking is a myth. In my mind, I wondered how that was possible since I typically take care of several tasks at the same time. If having a load of clothes washing, and a pot of brown rice cooking on the stove while I work on one of my writing assignments is not multi-tasking, then what is? I decided to do some research.

According to neuroscientist, Earl Miller, humans can’t focus on more than one thing at a time, but they can “shift their focus from one thing to the next with astonishing speed.” We may think we’re paying attention to everything we have going on around us, but we’re not. He says that often times, “similar tasks compete to use the same part of the brain.” One example I liked: typing an email while talking on the telephone.  This is almost impossible to do effectively – I’ve tried it. “They both involve communicating via speech or the written word, and so there’s a lot of conflict between the two of them.”

It turns out, most of the tasks I do simultaneously are considered “background tasking” according to business coach, Dave Crenshaw. This is when you’re “doing two or more tasks, with only one of them requiring mental effort” like my example above. It’s suggested that instead of trying to do several things at once, give your complete focus to one task at a time.  That’s a nice idea…but will I be able to accomplish as much? Hmm…I’m not sure.

Surepayroll did a study and found that “despite the widespread acceptance of multi-tasking, one in four small business owners report that multi-tasking in some way hinders their working ability. Multi-tasking skeptics cited everything from decreased quality in work, tasks taking longer than in the past and becoming burned out more quickly.”

Now I’m curious. I’m thinking about trying to limit my version of multi-tasking and see how many tasks I can scratch off my daily to-do-list. I have no doubt that this will be super hard for me, especially since I’ve mirrored the Army’s old slogan regarding all I can get done before 8 a.m., for well over 20 years. I also can’t imagine it being as much fun, but we’ll see.

What are your thoughts on multi-tasking?

December 7, 2011 Posted by | Business, Just Thinking, Multi-tasking | | 6 Comments