Category Archives: Productivity

Get Organized for Finals NOW

Students live in a world of endless opportunities to learn, socialize, volunteer, work, and travel among a long list of things. Good study skills and time management are key to learning how to balance priorities and opportunities in your life as a student. With all these options and new found freedom, a student might become dissatisfied with how they are managing their time. Perhaps they have developed a bad habit of procrastinating or maybe they have too many activities on the go. Changing behaviours is a difficult task but following the recommendations below will help any student improve their time management skills.

 A student can start by doing a self assessment. Do I skip class? Do I set goals for myself? Am I easily distracted from school work? Own up to your short comings and bad habits. Set goals you would like to achieve this semester, this year, and in life. This will help you determine what is most important to you and help set your priorities.

1) Starting to plan. Plan each day. You can do this the night before or first thing in the morning. Set out what you would like to accomplish today and prioritize the items on your “To Do” list. The best tool is a day planner. Keeping all your appointments and assignments in one place will prevent you from forgetting anything. If you are behind in your school work, schedule in time to catch up. Flag start dates for major assignments so they won’t be left until the last minute. Be sure you allow for relaxation time as well as social and extra-curricular activities in your schedule. Allow for flexibility in your schedule. This will reduce stress in case something comes up (parents visiting, illness, etc..).

2) Scheduling Time. Going to class should be a top priority. Even if you haven’t done the assigned readings, missing class will put you further behind and waste time. Getting notes from someone else is never as efficient as writing your own and someone else may have missed an important point. Attending class will make studying easier later. Block off small amounts of time for studying. You can devote your focus to the task for a shorter period of time and will remember more of what you read. Subdivide larger tasks into smaller ones. This is helpful when scheduling things in your day planner and will make that big project easier to tackle. If you come up against a task that is unpleasant or difficult commit to trying it for five minutes. You may end up getting into it and spending more time, but if not that’s fine. Try to come back to it again later for another five minutes.

3) Finding a Study Space. The first task is to determine your best study time. Some people are most alert and do their best work after midnight; others work best in the morning when they are still fresh. Know your study preference. Some people like a bit a noise or music; others are distracted by the presence of others. It is your responsibility to guard against distractions. If you know your roommate is having friends over or that people often stop by your room to chat, go to the library. If you are tempted by instant messaging and email get away from your computer.

4) Reviewing your Efforts. At the end of each week, evaluate how you did. How many things remain undone on your schedule? Did your schedule work well for you? What obstacles and distractions did you encounter? Each week set out a reward for completing your most important tasks. Maybe it’s a night out, an ice cream cone, or buying a new shirt. Choose whatever is in your budget and will motivate you the best.

Isn’t it time you started practicing some of these time management techniques? Change your behaviours and you will change your results. These results not only include your grades, but your free time as well.


The Cost of Disorganization At Work

It’s so easy to say “I’ll get organized when I have the time.”When you’re at the end of the day and all you want to do is leave, it’s all too easy to forget about closing the loop on work and physically tidying up your space.

But being disorganized at work goes deeper than just a messy desk. Do you find yourself scrambling to meet deadlines, misplacing communication from colleagues and not achieving your goals? These are the effects of disorganization at work – and they don’t just cause frustration, they cost money. Don’t be a drain on your organization – emotionally or fiscally.

Here are some things that you or your employees may be doing at work that are costing the business financially and professionally. Review the list and ask yourself if there’s anything here you could be doing better.

  • Paying more for training and conferences because you miss the Early Bird Registration
  • Late payments for loans and credit cards
  • Storage fees – you pay when you don’t purge, either in the office or off-site
  • Supplier billing errors – you missed them, and the deadline passed to correct them
  • Personally eating reimbursements because you can’t find receipts to get you money back
  • Going to lunch because you forgot yours at home
  • Going on coffee runs because you forgot to bring coffee from home, or keep tea at your desk
  • Parking tickets – from not allowing time to find parking before meetings or forgetting to feed the meter
  • Late fees for income tax
  • Not claiming all your health plan benefits because you can’t find receipts
  • Missed meetings
  • Missed deadlines
  • Missed opportunities – not following up with clients
  • Missed revenue – missing out on new clients because you’re too busy trying to keep the current ones
  • Replacing lost items – from small things like staplers to larger items boxes of files
  • Searching for misplaced documents
  • Interruptions – you have to work longer hours to make up for lost time
    Credibility is shot – colleagues know they can’t count on you
    Missed advancement opportunities – passed over for promotions because you can’t reach targets
  • Increased stress – you’re constantly worried about what you’re missing and how that will affect you

If you, or one of your employees is suffering from chronic disorganization at work, and it’s affecting their performance, consider hiring a professional organizer or productivity coach. A trained professional will work with you to overcome your disorganization obstacles, helping you develop patterns and work habits that bring you in line with the vision of your organization. And yes- save money too!

Dreaming of a Good Night’s Sleep – 8 Tips to Create a Restful Sleep

To maximize productivity for the following day, it is important to start off on the right track. Preparing yourself for your day’s events begins with a good night’s sleep. If you are tired of tossing and turning, follow these 8 tips to enjoy an uninterrupted night of shut eye.

1) Organizing yourself the night before can help to alleviate stress allowing you to benefit from a more restful sleep. Gather all materials that you will need for the next day. Prepare your lunch and breakfast to save time in your morning routine, finish your assignments the night before and have your bag packed and ready to go. When you are prepared, your mind can rest and stop racing about what needs to get done in the morning. Creating a routine of things you do before bed, as well as, what time you go to sleep and wake up at will help your body gear towards a healthy sleeping pattern.

2) Wash your bedding and sleepwear regularly. Use all natural products when doing your laundry. A good mattress and pillow can help with back and neck problems and other health issues. Poor sleeping patterns can have a negative effect on the immune system, therefore increasing injuries and illness. Just as you must change your running sneakers to guarantee proper support, you must change your mattress every eight to 10 years. Spend a little extra to buy a top quality mattress. After all, over a third of your time is spent in bed, so it should be comfortable and inviting.

3) Try not to exercise right before you go to bed. Instead, wake up half an hour earlier and begin your exercise routine as soon as you get out of bed in the morning. Exercise no later than early afternoon to give your body time to cool down fully. Another reason to exercise for at least 30 minutes per day is because people who exercise have an easier time falling asleep than non-exercisers do.

4) It is important to try to cut back on all caffeine products, but especially be mindful of your consumption before bedtime. Keep track of how much chocolate, tea, carbonated beverages, alcohol and coffee you drink. Instead, have a glass of water or juice. These healthier alternatives will not speed up your heart rate and keep you awake as caffeine products can. Avoid spicy foods and try not to eat at least three hours before you hit the sheets. If you are hungry, have a glass of milk. The serotonin will calm brain chemicals. The higher the level of serotonin, the more relaxed you will be and able to fall asleep easier.

5) Give yourself enough time to get a pleasant and relaxing sleep. Your body and brain need to replenish. We often underestimate how much sleep our bodies really need. We think we can function on as little sleep as possible, but our bodies need an average of eight hours per night. Doctors recommend falling asleep before 11pm. Go to bed earlier than you normally would. This can also help you to avoid constantly checking the clock and worrying about getting up. Also, keep the same sleep routine even on the weekends. Have a 20 minute nap later in the day if you are tired. Don’t overexert yourself and think you can catch up on your sleep on Sunday morning.

6) It takes some time to gear down from a mentally and physically exhausting day. Try to watch something light hearted on television before you go to bed, listen to soft music or read a calming book. Save repetitive and soothing chores for the end of the day, such as ironing or folding laundry. Pay bills and do heavy cleaning at least 2 hours before bed. Our minds continue to think about whatever we were doing before we fell asleep, so it is a good idea to create a restful mood for your mind and body. Turn off phones to avoid late-night disturbances and stop using your computer several hours before bedtime. Keep a notebook by your bed and record worries and task for the next day. This will help you clear your mind. After 20 minutes of unsuccessfully trying to fall asleep, get up and go into another room. The change of scenery will help you to get in the mood for sleep when you return to your bed.

7) Create a conducive and healthy sleep environment. Too much light may be keeping you awake. Dim the lights an hour before bedtime to prepare your mind. Turn your alarm clock away from you it has a backlight or digital display. Make sure your blinds block enough sunlight or wear an eye mask and earplugs. Providing full darkness for your eyes will aid you in falling asleep faster. Keep your bedroom at a cool temperature. You need lots of clean air space and a toxin-free room. Remove any candles or scented products that may be interfering with your sleep, and throw away piles of papers or old magazines in your room. Declutter any extra dust collectors that promote unhealthy air quality. Wash bedding and drapes in hot water to kill dust mites. Remember to replace your pillow every two years or at least wash it hot water periodically. Dust covers can be purchase to trap dust mites away in your mattress. To completely seal it off use duct tape over the zipper closure. Have you carpets cleaned periodically.

8) Try deep breathing while counting sheep. Try counting your breaths. Breathe deeply in and out through your nose.

The effects of sleep deprivation on our everyday performance can keep us from living up to our potential. Even a modest half hour lost per night can affect the way the body functions during the day. By following these suggestions, you will see an improvement in your sleep patterns and wake up feeling refreshed.

Where’s your launch pad?

Do you have a launch pad? You may not be Cape Canaveral but your home and office should not be without one.


How many items are lying around your office that belong elsewhere and often take weeks and months to get back where they belong? There is a coffee cup that needs to go to the staff kitchen. A stack of photos from your vacation you brought in to show your colleagues. A gift you were given that you plan to take home. All these items create clutter in your office.

Find a shelf in your office or an area near the door that you can use for your launch pad. Move all those items that need to be returned to others or those items you want to remember to take home. It will lessen the clutter in your office and keep you from forgetting things you planned to bring home or return. Remember to take a peak at the launch pad when leaving the office to see what can be taken with you.


In your home you can create several launch pads. Perhaps you already have your own launch pad and don’t realize it. Often the bottom steps of your staircase are already serving this purpose. Place items that need to go upstairs in the corner of the step so you take them up every time you go. Make sure it is not a hazard for those coming down the stairs.

You can also create a launch pad for yourself and your family near the main entrance. Place a small table or shelving unit near the entrance to collect items that need to be returned like library books or videos or errands that need to be run. Don’t forget to include things that are going to be picked up.

Your launch pad will help trigger your memory to things that need to go out of your home and office. It will cut down the clutter and help you to save some steps and manage tasks more efficiently. Unlike NASA’s, your launch pad won’t take you to space, but it will help you make better use of your space.

Professional Organizers Canada Guest Post – Tips to Tame Tax Time Terror

Tax Prep is Nothing to Fear!

One of the chief reasons we delay filing our taxes relates to being disorganized. We don’t know where the papers are located; and we don’t know what we need.  We dread the search and process, and putting it off is a common reaction.

Collecting and organizing documents for taxes is really not that difficult, it just requires a designated system be in place every year. Otherwise the volume of this paper clutter gets out of control, we become overwhelmed.

Sorting Systems

Separate your documents into three major categories:

  • Income, Expenses and Taxes
  • Only keep the documents of the current year and the previous year close to where you work. Reduce clutter by putting archival and aging documentation elsewhere in your home, labeled appropriately.
  • Have a clear understanding of what needs to be saved and for how long. If in doubt, ask your accountant, lawyer or other advisor for a retention policy to follow.
  • Schedule a block of quiet time to undertake this work – arrange for child care if necessary and keep your concentration instead of doing it piecemeal over a period of time.
  • Teenagers can help you with the work. It’s a great experience as they enter the working world.  Have them match receipts to statements or enter gas bills into a spreadsheet. They’ll be managing their own finances in a few years.

Small Business Owner?

  • You must keep receipts for 7 years (scan or photograph them with your smart phone). Jot notes on them if you’re going to deduct them as business expenses.
  • Use debit and credit cards – no cash – to better track your expenses and then combine statements with receipts.
  • Keep zippered plastic bags and a pen in your car, briefcase or handbag. Each month, label a fresh bag with the date, then collect and transfer any appropriate receipts. It will be easier to sort through 30 or 40 receipts at a time than 500 at the end of the year.

Getting Help

  • Use software programs like QuickBooks or Quicken (non-business); that way you can look up payments by name, date, amount, or number; balance your cheque book without doing any math; never forget to enter a purchase in your manual bookkeeping system, and have automatic tax reports generated at the end of the year.
  • There is plenty of help out there, and it’s definitely worth the investment. A reliable bookkeeper or accountant can help you find ways to save money.

Professional Organizers of Canada Guest Post – Downsizing. Now What?

Are you ready to downsize? Know someone who is? A well organized move can make the difference between chaos or a peaceful transition.

There are ways to plan for a stress-free move. Follow our Downsizing Checklist to start on the right path:

1. Start the discussion early: For some, the decision to move may not be a welcome idea. Plant the seed early to start discussing the benefits of downsizing.

2. Determine what isn’t moving:Next is the time to do some space planning and decide what you don’t want to move. Decisions can be made to sort into the following categories: 

  • Pass to family/friends
  • Sell
  • Donate
  • Recycle
  • Waste

3. Contact a Realtor: Ask for referrals, find someone you enjoy working with!

4. Declutter and stage: Time to get the house ready for sale. Consider decluttering and staging if your home needs an update.

5. Book moving company:Make plans for truck rental, moving assistance, or hire a moving company.

6. Packing:Purchase packing supplies, enlist the help of family and friends, or hire a Professional Organizer to get the job done quickly.

7. Update address:Be sure to notify utility companies, services and personal contacts.

8. Moving day:Assign one person to be in charge of all questions of what is going where.

9. Unpacking: Make the transition as smooth as possible by unpacking right away.

If you are stuck or require assistance anywhere along the way, call a Professional Organizer – we are here to help!

Happy Organizing!

They Can Do That? A Guest Post from the National Association of Professional Organizers

NAPO members discuss what consumers should ask when hiring a professional organizer in the Smead podcast series, “Keeping You Organized.” Click the image to watch.

When people think of the services professional organizers provide, de-cluttering closets, setting up filing systems, creating time management strategies, or designing custom garage storage systems typically come to mind. But professional organizers specialize in many different areas, and can help overcome a variety of organizing challenges faced at home or at work. Here is a list of some lesser-known services they offer:

  1. Specialty Moving & Relocation: Need help packing the kids up for summer camp or moving your college student into his or her dorm?  There’s an organizer for that! Hiring a pro lets parents stress less and spend more quality time with their kids before they go away, and helps college students get off to an organized start when living away from home for the first time.
  2. Organizing and Cataloging Collections: From photographs to memorabilia to wine, if you need to manage the items in your collection for insurance purposes, display, or simply for easy access, a professional organizer who specializes in collections can help you keep track of the items you have so carefully curated.
  3. Blending Households: A professional organizer can help preserve household harmony when new spouses, stepfamilies, roommates, or parents find themselves sharing living space, and need to find places for everyone’s stuff.
  4. EcoConscious Organizing: Everyone is more aware of humans’ effect on our environment, and for those consumers who actively try to reduce their overall impact, there are organizing professionals who specialize in sustainable ways to reduce clutter, organize and recycle unwanted items.
  5. Technology Organizing: Need someone to help set up your new smartphone?  Need help keeping track of documents and files on your home and work mobile devices? Need help figuring which apps to use to help you stay organized?  Tech-savvy professional organizers can help you get the most out of your electronic devices.
  6. Personal Assistant/Concierge Services: If staying organized means you need a helping hand running errands, scheduling appointments, or fulfilling other commitments, professional organizers who also provide assistant or concierge services will keep you in control of all the aspects of your busy life.
  7. Medical/Legal Office Organizing: Establishing effective filing systems, chain-of-custody protocols, and document retention policies is vital to successful case management and protecting sensitive and confidential information. A professional organizer experienced in medical or legal organizing can help improve office efficiency and maintain client privacy.
  8. Estate Sales: When a person passes away leaving behind a home full of possessions, sorting through a lifetime of memories may be too much for grieving loved ones to handle.  Professional organizers who offer estate sale services coordinate the sale or donation of unwanted items, taking the burden off family or friends at a difficult time.
  9. Working with People with ADHD or ADD: For people who struggle with attention-deficit disorders, routines and systems can dramatically help them maintain focus so they can be more productive at home, school, and work. Organizing experts who specialize in working with those living with ADHD or ADD understand their everyday challenges, and help them develop habits to minimize frustration and become more successful in all aspects of their lives.
  10. Emergency Preparedness: Disasters can strike home or work at any time, and a good emergency plan can keep you, your family, or your colleagues safe, and get you back on your feet sooner. Professional organizers can help you create a plan to keep your vital documents safe, create an emergency kit, put together disaster evacuation and communications plans, and develop recovery  procedures, so your life is disrupted as little as possible in the face of disaster.

These are just some of the specialized services that professional organizers can provide, so if you feel overwhelmed by an organizing dilemma, you don’t have to tackle it alone.

Need help getting organized? Visit NAPO’s Professional Organizer Directory to search for professional organizers in your area.

Seven Places to Tame Clutter At Home

7 #Clutter Problem Areas And How To Tame Them via HuffPost Lifestyle

News Years Resolutions or Fatal Attraction?

Have you set and broken many of your New Years Resolutions already? The law of attraction says we will draw those things towards us that we spend time thinking about.

Attract more of the positive and create brighter possibilities:

Don’t get caught up in the New Year hype.

Instead of focusing on making a resolution, focus on what you have accomplished last year and how you can take those positive events and use them towards making this year the best yet.
Look back on how you made your special memories and how you can create more to last a lifetime.

Picture those activities you shared with loved ones. 
Think about what you are most proud of in your career.
Live your life with meaningful intent.
Take charge of your own well-being, embrace it and enjoy everything that the New Year has to offer you.

Resolve to evolve into the person you want to be by attracting what you want.


7 Things NOT To Do When Making a New Year’s Resolution

One in four people will not make it a week with their New Year’s resolution. Here are seven things not to do when creating a New Year’s resolution that will help you go the distance:

1. Don’t keep it to yourself. “I don’t want my friends to know I am trying to quit my bad habit.” Let others know! This gives you leverage and allows others to encourage you along your journey.

2. Don’t leave it in your head. “I don’t need to write it down, I know what I want to do.” Research has shown that those who write down their goals and track them have an increased chance of success.

3. Don’t be vague. “I’m going to lose weight”.  How much? At what rate? By when? Make your goals SMART- specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely and time bound.

4. Don’t be inflexible. “I’m not going to ever do that again” Not all goals happen with the flip of a switch. Sometimes you need to wean yourself off of a bad habit. Sometimes you will backslide or slip up. It’s part of life. Get used to it and get used to being more successful for the long haul by recognizing that people try and try again at their goals before they reach them. Some reports suggest an average of 14 times. Persistence not perfectionism pays.

5. Don’t be unrealistic or harsh. “I’m not going to eat any sweets.”  “I will exercise 2 hours everyday.” It is not always realistic to deny yourself. Life is meant to be celebrated. Think moderation and think about small incremental steps that will advance you toward your goal. It is better to be doing a smaller action for the long term than a larger goal that doesn’t have a chance of lasting a week.

6. Don’t take on too much at once. “I’m going to quit smoking, join a gym, meditate 10 minutes every day, lose 20 lbs, and spend more time with my kids.” This is just setting yourself up for disappointment. Focus on a couple of things and the activities that will take you towards your goals.

7. Don’t take the first step TODAY. “I’ll start next week…”  There always seems to be a better time than right now. You may think you need to wait until after a special date or occasion, or once the holidays are over or start on a Monday…the list goes on. The truth is now is always a good time. Start by visualizing where you want to be and eliminating negative self-talk that will keep you from reaching your goals.

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become your character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

– Anonymous


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