September 9, 2016
How To Stay Focused in a Digitally Ecstatic World
How to stay focused is a modern dilemma to many a man or woman, given the noise and busyness in our surroundings. At work, you may be distracted by the activities in the cubes next to you, the voices in your workspaces, the telephone ringing, someone’s radio, the internet on your monitors, and the continual stream of emails coming your way. If you are a social media addict, staying grounded and on task is especially challenging.
The people, customer and co-worker distractions may be, to some extent, out of your control. Time management and reducing the digital noise, however, IS something you can easily manage with a few simple changes in your daily routines.
Here are some great real-world tips on keeping grounded and focused so that you can be the productive whiz you can and should be.
1. Windows Management
When on your computer, close windows as you complete tasks. You’ll be less tempted to return to them, pick at them and be distracted by them. Plus, you’ll give yourself a little sense of accomplishment by closing (completing) the task.
2. The Sound of Music
If radio and music is distracting you, work in silence. It isn’t bad having a blank mental slate to work with. Silence is peaceful and grounding. Be really honest with yourself about whether listening to music is actually helping you stay focused or if it is interfering with your ability to concentrate.
3. Hide Your Toys
Hide your toys from yourself – including digital devices, windup toys and action figures. It’s too tempting to play with them. At the very least, put them up high where you’ll have to stand up and reach, or otherwise go out of your way to play with them. If that doesn’t work, keep them in your car. You’ll be okay without them.
4. Eliminate the Bounciness
Make yourself a schedule so you aren’t randomly bouncing from task to task. Whether you call it ADD or it’s simply a symptom of modernity, bouncing around a lot is generally not conducive to productivity. Plan, be still, schedule and proceed.
5. Love Social Media Sometimes
If you love social media, dedicate some time each day for your fix and stick to your schedule. They’ll still be there when you get to them. Promise. Dedicated social time reduces the amount of time you check in during the day, making you more focused for other tasks.
6. Lists Are Your Friend
Start each work day with a list of things to do (this is good advice for homemakers, students and people who work outside the home). Prioritize your tasks with numbers or letters and congratulate yourself as you complete each task.
7. Schedule Like Tasks Together
If possible, schedule like tasks together as you can more easily stay in a rhythm as you work. Example, group visual tasks together as your brain functions differently when processing visual information than it does for writing or math.
8. The Natural Rhythm of Concentration
It may be advisable to begin each work day with your more complicated and creative tasks, leaving more mundane ones for later when your focus will naturally begin to wane.
9. When to Email
Dedicate some time each day to answer emails. Maybe read them first thing in the morning to catch the previous day’s late emails and again a half hour before you leave work. Reducing the number of interruptions will help you stay focused throughout the day.
If you find yourself really struggling, take a break and do some deep breathing to try to engage your parasympathetic nervous system. Do this also if you’re stressed. A quick walk is also a good way to empty your head and connect with nature, or concrete, whichever is available.
As you will see when you implement these ideas, limiting exposure to distractions by reserving specific times to complete tasks is hugely beneficial in helping you stay focused and productive throughout your day. When you reduce digital clutter in your life, you’re likely to notice other improvements as well, including your interactions with people and possibly even your health, as so much of our wellness has to do with the physical world around us, including what we eat, how we communicate and our ability to listen and be present for ourselves and others.
by Laurie Halbritter
Also see: How to Improve Your Office and Decluttering Your Office.
Kitchen Cleaning Tips
August 30, 2016
Kitchen Cleaning for Single People – 6 Tips
Kitchen cleaning is easy when you’re single, or is it? While my living situation changed to “singular” several years ago, I only recently realized that I never adjusted my habits to accommodate my status change. I still had lots of cookware, dishes and other kitchen items I inherited from my grandmother, who had never reduced her kitchen tools after caring for a family of four. With lots of pans and dishes to dirty, and my retained habits of cooking for more than one, I never really noticed the extra work I made for myself through the luxury of having too much stuff. Gradually, however, I’ve become aware that the more you have, the more you tend to use. As an example, it’s easy to keep dirtying dishes when you have an endless collection of clean ones at your disposal.
Whether you are happily single, widowed, or a newbie empty nester, your work load can and should be lighter as a single person. When living alone, you can establish your own cleaning schedule for tidying your own messes based on when you make them. This is a great freedom, actually, unless, of course, you’re me. I find the kitchen to be the most problematic, high-use area that requires the most maintenance of any room in the house. In overcoming my own issues, I’ve discovered a few simple tricks to reduce the overall time needed for kitchen cleaning and help keep it looking better on an ongoing basis.
1. Keep only one place setting handy and hand wash immediately after eating so dirty dishes don’t pile up. It only takes a minute to do. I keep the clean, dry setting (including flatware, glass and cup) on my butcher block table for the next meal.
2. Limit your other kitchen utensils to what you need. The more you have, the more you’ll use. Restricting your choices eliminates accumulation of dirty dishes, and you can always store less-needed tools in an out-of-the-way place, and most-used gadgets in accessible areas.
3. Use a small dish draining rack or the Umbra dish mat and drain set for drying after hand washing.
4. Establish a super-fast morning ritual of wiping counters, tabletop and/or stove to decrease the time you have to spend deep cleaning. It only takes a minute or two. You can even time yourself.
5. Sweep in the evening to prevent dirt and food build-up and scratching of floor (if you have vinyl). Better yet, stop wearing shoes inside the house to eliminate a lot of the debris.
6. Wipe off exposed areas of the fridge once weekly with a warm damp dish cloth. Make it a Saturday morning ritual and reward yourself when you’re done.
If you choose only to do number one on this kitchen cleaning tips list, that in itself will make your kitchen cleaning more efficient – plus you’ll save energy by not using the dishwasher, as you can usually hand wash them in only minutes. Yes, it’s old fashioned, but strangely efficient, plus you won’t have dirty dishes sitting around while you wait to fill the dishwasher.
Check this tiny kitchen blog post for more tips on kitchen organizing and this Clutter Control Freak post on things to toss in your kitchen to free up space.
August 23, 2016
Folding Shirts to Maximize Space in Drawers
Folding shirts, while a chore, can be a joyous, active meditation, believe it or not. If you struggle to relax, and find it difficult to sit quietly and meditate, folding clothes is a soothing activity that can help center you quickly while preparing your wardrobe for future wear.
A friend once asked me pointers for meditating and I suggested chopping vegetables as a good active meditation. If you don’t get centered quickly, you’re likely to cut yourself. Shirt folding is less dangerous, however, but just as satisfying.
Folding is best done on a table but doing it on your bed is okay too. The sooner you start after drying, the fewer wrinkles you’ll have to contend with. It’s surprising how many wrinkles you can remove, though, by simply spreading out your shirts and smoothing them with hands as you fold.
The photo below shows steps for folding a t-shirt, but it will work on shirts with collars as well. Just be sure to smooth and arrange the collars evenly. The method below is very similar to the Konmari method – probably a hybrid of Marie Kondo and my grandmother’s way of shirt folding. The difference is in how the sleeves are folded.
Folding shirts this way makes them super-compact so they can be stored on edge, which takes up less space in your drawers. While hanging shirts in the closet is easier, some of us are lacking in closet space and maximizing your drawer space is always a good idea. If you remove the wrinkles as you go, folding into thirds or even quarters produces no more wrinkles and you’ll be amazed at how many t-shirts you can pack in a drawer. The main drawer photo above includes over fifty shirts – plus room for at least ten more. If the shirts had been folded like retail displays, they would’ve taken up more than twice the room. Most people would arrange the shirts facing the drawer front. In this instance, they seemed more accessible arranged along the length of the drawer. It’s really a matter of personal preference.
If you are moving into a dorm or are short on drawer space, you’re sure to love this method of folding shirts, as it leaves more room in your closet for suits, coats and dress clothes. Enjoy!
Also check out our post on dresser drawer decluttering and check out this video for the cheater method of shirt folding, with Alejandra. For help with jean storage, read this (it’s a fun quick read).