How often do you find something that is EXACTLY what are looking for? Like perfectly exact?
Let me guess... never? But sometimes you find something pretty close, right?
Here's a great thing about finding something that is pretty close to what you are looking for - you can zhuzh it up to suit you.
A while back I created a toolkit to help people take some control over their to-do lists. Since then, I've heard some awesome ways in which people have used it!
I love when people share their a-ha's and successes - whether in the on Facebook. via email or live on Zoom!
Jamie of Learning Partnerships LLC, is a member of the Facebook group Organizing Teaching Life and Spaces and has shared a couple of her successes with the group in the last few months. She's great at grabbing some ideas from conversations and posts, and morphing them to suit her needs.
Here's a snippet of how she morphed the to-do toolkit to suit her needs:
"I downloaded the To-do list Toolkit, but didn't do much with it until now. I am using it to set up the days in my new planner. I struggle with planners, especially when the day is scheduled out. Using the set-up from the toolkit makes so much sense to me. It's only been about a week, but I am already more productive and motivated. Thank you, Tammy, for creating such an easy and manageable way to tackle the to-do lists."
Yahoo! Love this! Want to see how Jamie set up her page? Hop over to Organizing Teaching Life and Spaces to see!
I'lll tell you - the more I read productivity books, the more ways I think of chunking all of my to-do's too! The value placed on finding efficiency in our everyday lives has to be a priortity to help us find some clarity and calmness. We can achieve this with the right structures.
If you have some tips to share, drop a comment below. We'd love to hear what works for you!
Want to try out the To-do List Toolkit, grab it for FREE here!
Learn more about how Jamie supports young learners with dyslexia. She also offers children's yoga! She meets the needs of the whole child! Visit Learning Partnerships LLC.
Last week our shipment arrived from storage - all of our previous lives were boxed up, and are now in one place. Everything fit into half the garage. We chose to downsize a lot by selling all of our furniture and items we didn't really view as adding value to our lives.
What I was the most excited to get my hands on were my books. I had been missing them for a few reasons - I simply missed having them around, and many of them I actually needed to dig out and use...
The Art of Coaching, Becoming a Globally Competent Teacher, Guiding Team to Excellence With Equity... not to mention all my Elin Hildebrand beach reads!
But now I've found myself in a small dilemma - I know I don't need all the books I have at this point. I've had to downsize my book collection a few times in the past. At this point, I acquired some for specific reasons and now they don't seem to quite fit into this new life. I know it's okay to pass them on for someone else to use and enjoy, but there is always something hard about letting books go. Perhaps I will think of this as extra space for new ones.
Disclaimer: I've never had this many books ;)
About a year ago, at the start of the pandemic, I joined a business group that has forever changed my life (thank you, LaVonna!). That's another several blog posts - but in that group was this really interesting lady, Naomi.
Naomi Church of Growing Minds Consulting, LLC specializes in math education, and math people often catch my interest so I knew she would be someone I'd want to get to know. Not only was SHE interesting, her home office always caught my attention whenever we were on Zoom sessions. I could tell certain things were important for her, in her space by looking at the little square box on my own screen, and listening to her speak.
I knew Naomi had some effective technology in her space because of her crisp sound and good lighting. I already knew that she and I had an interest in organization and space set-up but when she mentioned that her space made her feel calm in a social media comment in one of our groups, I simply had to ask her to be a guest on the blog! And, not only does she share what's in her office, but she shares with us her morning set-up ritual. I love that! An organizer's dream!
Me: How do you feel in your workspace? What creates this feeling?
N: It has taken a while, but over time I’ve created a home workspace that helps me feel calm and motivated to work. As an educational consultant, I work from home most of the time. When I wake up in the morning I’m actually excited to go down to my office and get started on my projects and meetings for the day. I have developed a work day startup routine that works for me.
I have found that setting up this routine with the lighting and the scents helps to signal definitively the start of my work day and helps me to be in the frame of mind in which I can be most productive.
My desk used to be covered in different piles of papers and binders. I have found that when I begin work in the morning with a clutter-free workspace I’m more relaxed and excited about starting. I used to walk in in the morning and was almost immediately frustrated by the piles. It felt like I had more to do than I actually did because of the space I was working in. It definitely took an entire day, maybe more, to initially throw out unnecessary items, file my plethora of papers and put away my supplies. The time investment was definitely worth it though - because now I don’t feel like I’m already starting out my day behind. It feels more like each day is a fresh start to really dig into my work and accomplish my goals.
Me: How do you manage the space when you get busy?
N: I am also realizing that unless something makes it into my planner or onto my calendar realistically it isn’t getting done. I just do not remember things that are not written down. So if you are distractible, anxious or forgetful like me, it can be helpful to schedule a time, maybe only 15 minutes, during the week to tidy up your space and reorganize yourself.
Me: What tips do you want to share that can help others keep their work areas feeling like a space they actually want to work in?
N: It is easy to overlook things like lighting, sounds, scents in our workspaces. When I think back, I did the same thing in my 3rd grade classroom. I opened the blinds, turned off overhead lights whenever possible, played classical music for my students while they were silently working and scheduled in time for them to tidy their desks and spaces. My advice is to take a moment to consider what lighting helps you be most productive, what scent reinvigorates you or calms you, what music or sounds (if any) help you focus, and what is the best configuration of your belongings on your desk for efficiency.
I'm feeling pretty proud of myself for accomplishing all the things on my to-do list the last week and a half, minus one... because there will always be one - and I do know why that one wasn't tended to. It's because it isn't a priority yet, so I ended up removing it from my list and pushing it ahead in my calendar to a time when I know I will tend to it.
Anyway, back to this burst of accomplishing tasks.... I'm really proud of being productive with work things AND getting in some down time. How was this happening? I had gotten myself to a new level of productive... and it's still going strong into this week. What IS UP!
Of course I had to evaluate my attitudes and actions so I could try to figure this out - this new sense of motivation and focus. Clearly I'm getting some dopamine rushes!
Here's what I think has contributed to this ultra-productive me this last couple of weeks.
So here it is...
I DO ONE THING AT A TIME.
There is a ton of research telling us that it is not possible to multi-task. Our brains will not truly attend to more than one cognitive task. It's just not possible. So I stopped pretending like that's a thing that I can do. I've found some focus by seriously considering this research in my day's work, and by taking my own advice (that I know is borrowed from research as well). I've sorted and chunked my tasks, and literally done one. at. a. time. All those little things have been checked off and even the medium-commitment tasks have been completed from start to finish.
I usually squirrel around, as many of us may do with so many to-do's on the list, but I had to change something to increase my efficiency. So I did. Will you?