Bird by bird

I have a lot going on that’s pushing me to the limits of my organizational skills. I got divorced in December, we’re selling the house this month, and I moved my stuff out last weekend to store it at my daughter’s house while I travel through next October. Oh, and I quit my job. Things that have been in place for a long time are very much out of place and I feel chaos looming around every corner.

Then, at a Songwriting Workshop last week, our leader Jud Caswell, talked about taking small steps to get started on something new, and mentioned Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird. The title comes from a time when Anne’s brother was procrastinating writing a big report on birds. The dad’s advice was to go bird by bird. And finally the report was done. Continue reading

“Mind your business”

When you “mind your business,” you’re doing a couple of really important things.

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When things go out of control

Do you ever have one of those days, or weeks, or months, where everything seems out of control? People tell you not to worry, that, “Mercury’s in retrograde.” And you’re like, “My life is in retrograde!”

When you’re faced with the overwhelming, it helps to picture your mind as a big sky – vast, and limitless. And this “thing” that’s happening? It’s such a small thing in that vast sky. The “thing” isn’t everything. It’s a tiny piece of a big sky. That’s everything.

And that immovable block? What can you build on it? Continue reading

How to ask for help

A participant in a talk I gave last week shared a great story. She’s a single mom who worked full-time while raising her daughter. For them, there was no question that household chores had to be divided or they wouldn’t get done. To survive, they made a list of weekly chores and put them into a hat. Each week they would draw to see who did what. And here’s the fun part. If you got something you really hated, you could attempt a trade. FYI: She said cleaning the cat box was always worth at least two chores in a trade. 🙂

Most of us who raised kids tried a mix of ways to get them to help out around the house – from charts and graphs to outright bribes! The “hat” method adds suspense each week. And I picture cheering as you draw certain chores or avoid drawing others.

This conversation got me thinking about how much most of us hate asking for help. We feel like we should be able to do whatever we’ve taken on and don’t want to appear weak or needy. At the same time, most of us love offering a helping hand. Think back on a time when someone really needed help and you came to their aid. Can you feel your energy rise remembering that? Continue reading

Decluttering with a mission

I get more questions about decluttering than any other organizational issue. What to me is great fun is, apparently, quite a chore to most people. If you’ve got a drawer, closet, room, or HOUSE to declutter, it helps to have motivation and a deadline.

I had two brilliant motivators descend on me this week: a theater where I work is holding a garage sale and is looking for items to sell, including clothing items. And our library asked for art supply donations for an upcoming project.

My house is mostly decluttered but two areas where things seem to stick are my potential-costume rack, and my art closet. The potential-costume rack includes things I’ve worn in past shows, dress-ups for the kiddos, and clothes I “demote” until I’m ready to part with them. The art closet includes bits and pieces of recent and past craft and sewing projects. Continue reading

How can you help?

When I talk to people about organizational issues, many ask me what they can do to help friends, family, or co-workers who are disorganized. My suggestion is that they get their own lives organized, lead by example, and not worry about others. When you’re organized and you’re getting things done, your energy is infectious which is a great way to raise the energy of others around you.

That being said, it’s also vitally important that you be helpful. That you mentor and coach when you’re asked. And that you reach out and lend a hand even when you’re not asked. Continue reading

How can we be more inclusive?

I heard a great segment on NPR last week about a Council of Mayors from around the world who meet annually to share best practices about how to get things done. Mayors aren’t like national politicians. Mayors live in the communities where they work. They have to know which roads and bridges need repair. Which schools need help. And how, or if, the community is working together for the good of all. They deal with local businesses as well as residents, and they have to get things done because they’re going to run into you at the grocery store or at a school event, and they know that you’re expecting them to do good work.

In Thank You For Being Late, Thomas Friedman writes about this from a slightly different angle. In St. Louis Park, the city in Minnesota where he grew up, the City Council awards grants to neighborhoods to help them organize community events to help foster a spirit of inclusion across a neighborhood – whether someone’s lived there for 30 years or they’re brand new. Continue reading