Tag Archives: time management

3 Spring Cleaning Principles For Busy People

Spring cleaning advice is sprouting up all over the Internet right now. Well, it is spring after all and old traditions that help rid us of winter’s gloom are very appealing. We all know that an annual deep cleaning ritual has both physical benefits — such as easier breathing and fewer bacteria; and psychological advantages — like stress reduction, better mental focus and a sense of achievement.

spring cleaning, improved productivity, productivityAnd don’t forget the environmental gains: having more space after throwing out old or broken things; finding, assessing and fixing problems; and recovering some of those objects that mysteriously vanished throughout the year.

But, honestly, who still has the time for that? To make spring cleaning more effective, efficient and tailored to your needs and values, I propose following these three principles.

1. Determine your order and cleanliness sweet spots. Most of us have different preferences when it comes to how color-coded our sock drawer should be, or whether the floors need to be clean enough to eat off of. I, for example, am very focused on tidiness while my partner is much more into hygiene. Before jumping into spring cleaning, be aware of where you stand and how much energy and time you can, and want to, dedicate to each preference.

2. Create cleaning modules of 60, 30 and 15 minutes. What held me back from doing the April rejuvenation in the past was the idea that I needed to do the cleaning in one big chunk. Eventually, I realized that a list of timed tasks (under 60 minutes each) that I can do first thing in the morning, after work or over the weekend hugely increased my productivity. Why not clean out drawers for 15 minutes after dinner? All these little accomplishments can add up to a cleaner and more organized house in a couple of weeks.

3. Only clean the areas of most impact. Doing research for this blog, I found lots of spring cleaning tips that are simply not viable when you have limited time — like dusting ceilings in every room. Instead, clean that dirty door handle that drives you crazy every time you touch it. That would probably fall into the 15-minutes module category. Why not quickly wipe a few other surfaces while you are at it? Addressing the messy and grimy hot spots in your house will be satisfying and motivating to continue on to the next cleaning module.

These are just some principles that can cut down on spring cleaning time without reducing the joy of living in a spring-fresh space. What are yours? I would love to hear your ideas. Please leave a message on the right hand side of this page.

The post also appeared on:

Huffington Post Canada

7 Easy Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Dive into a Dreaded Task

Also appeared on Huffington Post Canada

Starting something you don’t want to do can be daunting. You aren’t unusual if you procrastinate when faced with a complex or disagreeable undertaking, such as that needed household project, looming end-of-year term paper or doctor’s prescribed weight loss program. But, when something needs doing, no matter how strong your aversion to it, procrastinating will only send you on a downward spiral of guilt and regret.

Procrastination can have many causes. From everyday postponements to time management issues to fear or even perfectionism, the reasons for delay undermine our energy for what needs to get done. The important thing is to get past this self-defeating behaviour that keeps you from diving into the task at hand.

Try these seven proven approaches to getting over the initial procrastination hump.

1. Assess the timeframe. Make sure you actually have to do the difficult or despised job right now. Often, we think we need to do something immediately when, in fact, it would fit in much better at another time. Pick a time when you are most able to focus and can devote enough time to make significant progress. Then, schedule it on your calendar and add an alert so you won’t forget it.

2. Weigh the pros and cons of completing the chore. Write down the benefits of finishing. How will you feel about yourself? How will other people treat you? What are the financial or health outcomes? Also, consider the negative consequences of not attending to the task. The conscious awareness of both the gains and losses can give you the necessary push to get started.

3. Break down the objective into small steps. Plan out the task in increments of 15 minutes or less. Both larger projects, as well as small unpleasant tasks, profit from chunking them down into smaller pieces. Who can’t spend 15 minutes on something complicated or dreaded? In addition, make each step as concrete and detailed as possible. Something that is clear in your mind can be much more manageable than a fuzzy notion of needing to do something.

4. Start with the easiest part of the chore. Even hated tasks can have some appealing aspects. Start with something agreeable as a way to build momentum for tackling the task. For example, if you need information from a colleague you enjoy before completing the project, start with contacting him or her. Or, if you like to shop, check what supplies you need for the task and take a trip to the store first. Then hunker down to get it done.

5. Challenge yourself to get past the tedious piece. Sometimes it’s not the difficulty of a chore, but its boredom factor that holds you back. In this case, create a challenge for yourself to help you get into flow. Record your speed; commit to just a little while longer; or create a reward system for completing different pieces of the task.

6. Use the 5-minute rule. Commit to working at the project for just 5 minutes (or 15, or 30, if it makes more sense). Once the time is up, you can stop without feeling guilty. In most cases, this little trick gets you over the initial hurdle, and finishing the task makes more sense than picking it up again at later.

7. Set boundaries around distractions. Once you start in on the project, keep your mind on your work. Don’t allow yourself to give into the many distractions that can derail your focus. Tell yourself that you aren’t allowed to do anything else besides the project at hand. Turn off your phone; close your door; ignore emails; and if your mind wanders to something else you need to do, make a quick note to yourself and return to your task.