Mindfulness: A State of Inner Simplicity

By Amanda Zaidman of Constructive Parenting

As humans we evolved in a time of scarcity. For most of human history there was never enough to eat, never the promise of a roof over our heads, never the assurance of safety and stability. Fortunately, many of us no longer live with scarcity but the pendulum has swung the way. Now it is almost too easy to get food, clothes and other goods affordably. In fact, it is so easy that many of us have found ourselves surrounded by too much. Our brains haven’t caught on to the fact that resources are no longer scarce and we continue to crave more, more, more.

This plays out in many different ways. We can’t eat just one chip. We start to feel down and we rely on retail therapy for a pick-me-up. We hear about the latest gadget, and instantly thoughts of owning it consume us. We hear about our neighbor’s child playing soccer or competing in gymnastics and we get a pang of guilt that we haven’t signed our child up for that sport yet. The result is regret about expanding waist lines, homes filled with too many things, and a schedule that is so full that we don’t have time to just be together as a family.

I am not preaching from a soapbox. I live with a constant desire to have more, do more, and be more too. But feeling guilty about this desire is not productive. The goal is to acknowledge that this need for more exists so that we can gain the freedom to make different choices. Because what we know about the brain is that when it is constantly overwhelmed by “too much” (food, stuff, activities, choices) we become stressed and the result is that we end up walking around with a very short fuse.

Think about it. When was the last time you lost your temper or completely over reacted, and you surfaced from your anger only to wonder “whoa, what just happened? That’s not me. That’s not who I want to be?” Maybe you cursed at a driver who cut you off as you were hurrying to an appointment in your car. Maybe you completely lost your temper with your spouse or your kids. If you are tired of feeling stressed out as the result of our “too much” life styles it may be time to simplify.

This is where mindfulness comes in. We have all heard this trendy word but what does it really mean and how can it help? Mindfulness is simplifying where we place our attention so that instead of always being distracted by a worry about the future or a concern about the past we make an intention to bring our focus back to the present moment. We are so used to multitasking and we are so addicted to distractions that it is actually really hard to focus on what is going on right here and right now. But when you make the choice to slow down (to literally pause), your brain gets the message that things are safe and the stressful feelings dissolve. The result is that you gain the ability to choose how you want to respond to a situation rather than always having to look back after the fact wondering why you reacted the way you did. There is a famous Viktor Frankl Quote that captures this best, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

The following are tips for how mindfulness can help you simplify so you can get back to your best self.

Start with your values

What are the things that are most important to you and your family? Come up with a list of five values or positive traits and write them down. These are the qualities that you want your children to possesses as they become adults. These values can become the backbone for your choice to live mindfully. Believe me, making change is hard and when you feel the pull to give in or give up having a little backbone to lean on is super handy.

Mindful choices in daily life.

Once you have identified your values think about how you can start simplifying your daily life. If gratitude is important to you and you have noticed that lately your children seem entitled, maybe it is time to pare down the number of toys they have. Parents find that when kids are less overwhelmed with so many choices, favorite toys are rediscovered, creativity increases, and play becomes more peaceful between siblings. If the playroom isn’t the only room that has become chaotic with “too much” stuff, consider hiring an organization company to help you create a space that better reflects your values.

Next take a look at your schedule. If every minute of every day is filled with organized activities, it may be time to simplify here as well. As parents we feel pressure to give our children as many opportunities as possible and this may mean lots and lots of lessons. Piano, Spanish, tennis, golf, baseball, gymnastics– you get the point. After a long day in school children need down time for their brains to decompress from the stress of being “on” all day. They need time to play outside, time to build forts in their rooms and time for boredom. Yes, boredom. This gives them the opportunity to be their most creative selves.

If your family is still too busy with activities after school to relax together, why not make family dinners together a priority? This is a mindful choice that we can make as parents that allows us to create meaningful bonds with our children. While you are together you can spend time mindfully eating (pausing to consider where your food came from, how it got to your table, what flavors make up the meal). You can practice mindful listening as each person shares about their day, what they are grateful for, and what they learned from the mistakes they made (mindful listening means giving your full attention to the other person rather than thinking about what clever thing you will say next). When you are done you can mindfully clean up together.

Start a formal mindfulness practice.

If your goal is to truly simplify where you focus your attention so that you can live more fully in the moment, the best way to do this is to start a formal mindfulness practice. If the thought of sitting for 30 minutes in silence seems like it could never work for you, remember to try to set yourself up for success by starting with small manageable steps. Try downloading a mindfulness app like Calm or Headspace and learn to pause and ground yourself by focusing on your breathing. Do three-minute guided meditations for a few days in a row. If you miss a day don’t beat yourself up, just start again.   If you want to take it a step further take an eight-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course in your community or online. Remember, the goal of mindfulness meditation is not to sit with an empty mind. Rather it is to notice when you get distracted and gently bring your attention back to the present. Likewise, the goal of living mindfully is not to be a perfect. It is to notice when you are making a choice that is not aligned with your values, to learn from that mistake and then to start again with intention.

For other helpful parenting tips check out Constructive Parenting

 


Carve Out Time for Your Technology

October is here, which means the holiday season is fast approaching! Before your technology makes you start screaming, carve out some time to get your digital world under control. To some of you, technology might haunt your dreams or seem like a bunch of hocus-pocus. Current Technology Consulting is here to help so that your technology is no longer a trick but more of a treat!

Whether your computer needs a tune-up or you need help with holiday computer-related projects, Current is here for you. To schedule an appointment, click here!

Current Technology Consulting Services

 

 

 

Tech Time for Your Technology,

Kacie

Kacie Blue

Founder, Current Technology Consulting

 


Uptown Errands

 

 

Hi everyone!  My name is Kadie Kersey, and I am the founder of Uptown Errands!

 

I have always known the importance of a balanced work and home life. However, many of us struggle to find this balance. There are never enough hours in the day to complete our never-ending, ever-growing “To Do” lists. Until now!

 

My company, Uptown Errands, is an errand-running service that allows people and businesses to outsource their “To Do” list!  Need to pick up dry cleaning?  No time for grocery shopping?  Need an oil change? We’ve got you covered! Uptown Errands offers a wide variety of personal and professional services to help you take control of your busy life.  With our help, you will have the ability to accomplish more!  And, we assure that your time will once again become your own.

 

Errand Services are priced at $30/hour* and can be booked online using our easy-to-use booking tool, which can be found at the top of each page of the website or with a simple phone call, email, or text!


Procrastination

 

When we willingly defer something even though we expect the delay to make us worse off, we’re procrastinating. (per Piers Steel) And most of us are guilty as charged. It’s so easy to find a distraction that doesn’t demand much commitment that avoiding a demanding task or project is commonplace. But dragging our feet doesn’t make the job go away. It only makes us feel guilty, inadequate and ultimately overwhelmed.

Procrastination has many faces. The thrill-seeker loves the euphoric rush of waiting until the last minute. The avoider often has unrealistic expectations or a serious case of perfectionism. The decision avoider feels that by dilly-dallying, he’s absolved of any responsibility for the outcome.

Procrastination might be a basic impulse, but it’s also bad habit. It’s costly and anxiety producing. Failing to file taxes on time results in fines. Late papers and projects can mean failing grades. Dithering over a decision often closes the door on options.

Here’s a procrastination conundrum: Avoiding the onerous task doesn’t seem to make people happy. This is what William James was talking about. Not doing something we know needs to be done is exhausting and defeating. In our heart of hearts, we know that “One of these days is none of these days.” Henri Tubach

So how can we overcome the tendency to dawdle? Try better planning. Set deadlines or have others set them for you and impose penalties for failure to comply. Expect interruptions- they’re part of life so give yourself enough time to complete the project even if the roof springs a leak or the dog goes missing.

Divide projects into smaller parts, each with better definition so the tasks are concrete and you don’t have to think about how to start. Restrict your options.   If you need to buy a new washing machine, determine your budget. Ask two friends for recommendations. Read several consumer reviews. Pick one that looks good enough- no expectation of perfection. Buy the darn thing!

Will power has been compared to a muscle that can be strengthened through exercise. Making now the time to act, paves the way for that pattern to more easily be repeated. You can become one of those people who accomplish things in a timely fashion. The best way to get something done is to begin.

 Getting Things Done by David Allen is full of time- management tips.

“The Thief of Time” essays edited by Chrisoula Andreuo and Mark White

By Robin McCoy

 

 

 

 

 


What Type Are You?

The idea of personality type has always been intriguing to me. Over the years, I’ve taken several personality tests – Myers-Brigg, Enneagram, Love Languages, etc.  With each test, you can learn a bit more about yourself. Are you a judger? Agreeable? Introverted? Extroverted? Do you like to receive gifts or spend quality time?  The list goes on and on.

carson tate working simply

Recently, I had the opportunity to take a different type of personality test. I was able to learn my “Productivity Style”.  For two days (approximately 20 hours), I attended a two-day implementation boot camp called “Working Simply: Work Smarter, Not Harder”.

Led by expert and author, Carson Tate, the purpose was twofold – to learn more about my own style and how to increase my personal productivity, but also to learn how to detect and identify other people’s styles so that I can help clients not only in their homes but also their lives.

The first morning began with a seemingly innocuous task – use a large blank sheet to describe your productivity in various ways.  Being the prioritizer that I am, my sheet contained bullet points, numbers, straight lines, and I finished first. Apparently, finishing first is a common trait for prioritizers. As I looked around the room waiting for others to finish, I realized immediately the purpose of the task.  With a very short and concise activity, it can become quickly obvious to detect someone’s “type.”

carson tate workshop

From prioritizers (me), to planners (my colleagues), to visualizers and arrangers, we covered the gamut.  I learned that my “prioritizing” style tends to be straightforward and fact reliant (not a big surprise).  We moved on to sequential and organized “planners” and intuitive and big picture “visualizers”. Lastly, we became acquainted with “arrangers”, those who thrive on relationships and like to focus more on people than the process.

The rest of the two day boot camp was an intense study of personal productivity. How do you manage your schedule – on paper or digitally? How do you manage your time – focused or distracted? We learned how to improve communication when considering your audience – how to determine your co-worker’s and client’s productivity style? We even spent time with a tech guru to make our inboxes work for us rather than us working for our inboxes? Do you ever feel like a slave to your inbox? I’m sure I’m not the only one.

All in all, we were able to come away with a toolbox full of ways to increase our own productivity and communication. We also walked away with many resources to help our clients in their lives; from home office organization to simply managing the endless to-do’s of daily life.

On the last day, during the last hour, each attendee was asked to “free-write” for ten minutes on a blank sheet of unlined paper.  My “visualizer” neighbor made a bullet point list…something she had never done before. My “prioritizer” bullet point list from the first day turned into a stream of consciousness memoir of the past two days.  I walked in as a “prioritizer” and walked away more in touch with my inner “visualizer,” a true measure of bootcamp success.

Carson Tate Group pic

Simplicity’s Shyla Hasner, Laurie Martin and Jenna Skaff with Carson Tate.

By Jenna Skaff


Simplicity’s Student Planner

student-agenda-cover

“The assignment is due when? Today??”

We’ve all been there at some point. Somehow, that assignment due date just slipped right up on us without our noticing. That is why organizational skills are so important to school performance.

Using a planner is the key to time management!

Students are doing more than ever before-taking multiple classes, completing homework, preparing for projects, studying for tests, participating in afterschool activities, playing sports, and attending family and other social events. With so much to juggle, it is important for students to have a planner that works for them. Planners help students track and organize all their to do’s including their homework, tests, projects, and other events. Planners reduce stress, increase productivity, and prevent students from feeling overwhelmed. It’s important to invest in a planner that fit’s your child’s needs.

Tips for Using a Planner

  1. Pick the right planner. Take your time when choosing a pocket planner. Find one that fits inside a special pocket or pouch in your book bag if you can. Avoid planners with locks or zippers that will only annoy you. Little things like that will become a hassle and create bad habits.
  2. Put your name on your planner. At some point throughout the school year-most students misplace their planner. Take 30 seconds to put your name and phone number or email on your planner-just in case!
  3. Make the planner a part of your daily routine. Carry it with you at all times and remember to check it every morning and every night.
  4. Fill in your assignment due dates as soon as you learn them. Get in the habit of writing in your planner while you’re still in the classroom. Don’t put it off!
  5. Learn to use backward planning. When you write a due date in your planner, go back a day or a week and give yourself a reminder that the due date is approaching.
  6. Use a color-coding system. Keep some colored stickers on hand and use those for reminders that a due date or other important event is approaching. For instance, use a yellow caution sticker to serve as a warning two days before your research paper is due.

Put everything in your planner. You must remember that anything that takes up time, like a date or a ball game, will keep you from working on an assignment. If you

  1. don’t put these things in your planner as time out, you may not realize how limited your homework time really is. This leads to cramming and all-nighters.
  2. Use flags. You can buy sticky-note flags and use them as tabs to indicate the end of a term or the due date of a large project. This is a great visual tool that serves as a constant reminder of a imminent due date.
  3. Don’t discard old pages. You will always have important information in your planner that you’ll need to see again at a later date. Old phone numbers, reading assignments—you’ll want to remember those things later on.
  4. Go ahead and congratulate yourself ahead of time. On the day after a big project is due, put in a reward appointment, like a trip to the mall or a meal out with friends. This can serve as positive reinforcement.

Things to Include in Your Planner

It is important to block off anything that consumes your time, in order to avoid conflict and crisis. Don’t forget:

  • Homework
  • Test, Quizzes and Papers
  • Holidays
  • Sports/Activities

If your child has lost their planner or has a planner that doesn’t seem to be working efficiently, consider using one of Simplicity’s student planners!

Simplicity’s planner includes:

  • A laminated, durable cover
  • 3 hole punched
  • Monthly calendars
  • A tab that divides the weekly calendars
  • Ample room to record assignments and projects
  • A special section to write announcements, reminders, and notes

To purchase a Simplicity Student Planner please email info@simplicity-organizers.com


Overcomplicating Organization

Overcomplicating Organization

When it comes to conquering clutter, one goal is often to create simple, functional systems to make daily tasks run smoother. Labels, containers, calendars, lists- you name it, and we use it. But with most things in life, the “less is more” adage holds true here as well. When trying to get organized, it’s important to not overcomplicate it. Being honest with yourself, acknowledging other participants in the space you’re organizing and being realistic about your expectations will save time and money.

Some people start by making the (extremely fun) trip to The Container Store or Target for supplies. Whereas, anyone who has worked with Simplicity knows, we won’t bring anything in before we’ve pulled it all out, sorted, and purged. Our team leader as well as many of our project managers ensure clients that “it gets worse before it gets better.” You can’t figure out where you’re going until you know where you’re starting. Logically, all things are like this, you can’t solve a math problem without knowing the numbers. You can’t make a delicious meal without determining what ingredients you need. So how can you expect a purchase of essentially more stuff to help with your current stuff issue?

While organizing can be overwhelming, tackling projects with these tips can help minimize frustration and keep it simple:

–       Start small. Instead of tasking yourself with an entire room to accomplish, pick a single drawer or cabinet. The feeling of success will come a lot quicker and may motivate you to keep working!

–       Timeframe. Give yourself a time limit. Set aside a specific increment of time, ex. 1 hour or the afternoon 2-4pm. Set a timer. This keeps you focused on your expectations and decisions when sorting or purging. Even if you merely come to a stopping point in that time, it allows for a natural break as well.

–       Incentive. Although a newly organized, simplified space is rewarding enough, most of us are motivated by more tangible rewards. Especially if organizing is more daunting than fun for you, decide on something to work towards!

–       Challenge yourself. Your intentions to simplify are admirable and you owe it to yourself to do the very best. Ask yourself challenging questions about what you’re sorting, “Do you love it?,” “Do you use it?,” “Can you live without it?”  

–       Keep it simple. Sort into only a few categories, you’ll only confuse yourself if you try to get too specific. For example, if you’re sorting through kitchen utensils, consider your storage and create piles of frequent use, occasional use and seldom use (this pile you could potential purge and donate).

Keep it simple and STICK with it, you can do it!

 


Coach Approach

Coach Approach

Simplicity is the very first organizing company to send their entire team through a Coach Approach program!  We underwent an intensive and comprehensive 8-week coach training program that has added tremendous value to the services we offer our clients.  Simplicity strengthened our coaching skills through education and leadership by master trainers at Coach Approach.

Week 1-Betsy House

The International Coach Fedration’s website defines coaching as, “Partnering with clients in a thought provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”  The Coach Approach states that “Coaching is not advising, telling, training, showing, organizing, counseling or consulting.  Coaching refers to the bundling of specific, effective communication skills and to a creative and resourceful partnership.”

We entered into the first week with hesitation as to what we were about to embark on, but quickly realized how powerful this program was going to be both personally and professionally.  We practiced new coaching skills in small groups by role playing from a neutral space with no opinions or judgements using self-management skills.

Week 2-Anne Steppe

This week we were challenged to practice our Active Listening Skills.  We made the connection as to why it is powerful to take a brain-based approach to coaching.  During our practice sessions we worked on how to co-create relationships with our clients and how to listen “to” and how to listen “for” what our clients are saying.  We also worked on the skill of endorsing.

Week 3-Shyla Hasner

This week we worked on creating a coaching metaphor to provide us with a self-image that grounds and inspires us as coaches.  Developing our personal metaphor will help us to hold a set of personal intentions to maintain when coaching.

Week 4-Deb Fletcher

We began Week 4 with a clarification of our metaphor exercise.

We deepened our understanding of the “DO” of coaching by learning to listen for self-criticism, contradictions and what is left unsaid. We also added the concept of direct communication by adding the use of powerful questions.

Week 5-Jen Borda

Success (or success in failure) and seeing the value of our learning that leads to meaningful change. AEC – Awareness, Engagement, Completion.  It is important to use “curious accountability,” by checking back with clients on their solution and then brainstorming. We learned how to try to help the client shift their perspective from negative to positive and focusing on how the client brings value (and opportunity).

Week 6-Robin Leonard

In  week 6, we looked at the strategy piece of the coaching puzzle.  The three parts to this segment are Request, Challenge and Champion.  The request aspect is asking the client to complete an action with specific parameters.  The challenge aspect is a super power request.  The champion aspect  is when we are speaking to our client’s future capability.  Each of these components are important to the success of our clients because we are giving them ownership.

Week 7-Katie Puckett

This week we learned about accountability during a coaching session. According to The Coach Approach definition of terms: “Accountability describes the work of the client and coach to support client actions beyond simply identifying and choosing them. As partners, the client and coach agree to learn from the experience of agreeing to, attempting and/or completing these actions”. There are many kinds of accountability. Action (or inaction) is an opportunity for deeper learning coming from a supportive, curious, and neutral environment within the coaching partnership. Accountability should come from the client. Coaching helps the client create accountability within themselves.

Week 8-Betsy Blair

With the completion of 8 weeks of training in Coaching Essentials, in the words of Cam Gott, our instructor, “We are now organizers with coaching skills”.  It’s been a life-changing course.  As a Team, the skills we have learned taking this class will equip us to offer so much more to our clients who are looking to break-free from their stuff and live a more productive life.  Our clients call us for the organizing, but we hope they will stay for the coaching.

Coach Approach Training

 


Good Intentioned Resolutions

The beginning of each new year dawns with good intentions that are much easier to make than to keep. Holiday excesses are fresh in people’s minds. Couple that with a yearning to live more healthy and productive lives, and getting organized becomes tops on many people’s list of resolutions.

So what can you do to enhance your chances of success this year?

1. Be realistic: Remember, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

2. Celebrate small accomplishments: Since “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

3. Ask for help: Because “many hands make light the work.”

Simplicity-New Year

The clutter, chaos and disorganization that you want to conquer wasn’t created overnight and won’t be banished overnight. Your goals should be realistic. Start by making a list of projects you want to tackle. What will be your definition of success? If you have a busy family and work responsibilities outside the home, your success might look very different from that of the retired, empty-nester. Prioritize the organization tasks and projects. Estimate how long each will take. Be sure you have the necessary tools and supplies to do a good job. Remember, anything worth doing is worth doing well. A household that hums is surely a worthy goal.

The hardest part of getting organized is simply getting started. The enormity of the project can sandbag you from the outset. Now that you’ve identified and prioritized your problem areas, try this simple trick. Spend ten minutes filling two trash bags – one with actual trash and one with items for donation. Set a timer and spend only the allotted 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, you’re through until the next day when the exercise is replayed. At the end of a week, deliver the donation bags to your preferred charity and congratulate yourself on the progress you’ve made. The good news is that success breeds success.

When getting organized becomes a family affair, the rate of progress increases exponentially. If everyone played a part in creating the clutter, it seems only fair that everyone should help with the de-cluttering. If your organizational dilemma is overwhelming, outside help makes sense. A professional can provide whatever level of support you desire. Maybe all you need is the road map and a bit of assistance with the start. Maybe you want regular sessions with your organizer to tackle specific projects. Or maybe you want to have the organizational “swat team” descend on your home and not leave until there’s “a place for everything and everything’s in its place.”

Just remember, your home is the center of your family’s universe. With a bit of time and attention, it can be the sanctuary you all crave. If you’ve resolved to really get organized, Simplicity would love to help.

In addition to our tried and true services, we offer a Year of Simplicity program. It incorporates the three steps outlined above. By committing to work on a specific project or problem area each month, you’re setting an achievable goal. Having scheduled a monthly block of time with your Simplicity team member, you’ve already taken that first step – the hardest one – toward an organized household. And finally, an experienced organizer will lighten your load enormously. Working side-by-side, you’ll learn the tricks of the trade so you can maintain the organization you’ve labored so hard to achieve. 


Simplicity for Young Adults

You’ve heard the phrase “Start ‘em young!” Well that definitely applies to organizing.  Growing up, did anyone help teach you how to create and maintain organizational systems? Maybe it was your mother who showed you her meticulous methods or a teacher who demonstrated how to be tidy. Whatever the source, it is ideal for the origins of organization to begin in childhood when individuals are thrust into new responsibility and routines.  Since organizing does not come naturally to everyone, many need to be taught these important life skills, especially young adults who are venturing off on their own.

Here are some basic pointers for those just starting to structure their organizational success as an adult:

  • Create a paper or electronic system: Stacks of paper or rows of emails can accumulate quickly.  It is important to establish a folder or file system for all of your documents.

Simplicity for Young Adults

 

  • Carve out time to de-clutter: Set aside a day per week, either after work or on a weekend to maintain your systems. Put away dishes or hang your clothes.  Sort your mail and file papers.  Donate, toss, shred, or recycle what you no longer need.   Update your weekly calendar.  Remember it is much easier to keep up than start over. Maintenance is key to organizational success.

ical

  • Make lists and use calendars: DO NOT RELY on your young brain to remember everything!  Use one calendar to record all of your appointments. Write down your to do lists and plan your week accordingly.

 

Simplicity for Young Adults

  •  REMEMBER: There isn’t one right way to be organized. Systems can change and be altered with time and necessity. What matters is that they work for you –bringing order, structure, and simplicity to your life.