8 Tips for Winter and Holiday Preparation

Gift box
Holiday gift box

 

 

 

1. Focus on public rooms, common rooms: kitchen, living room, entertainment room, entryway, guest bath and the one used the most.

2. Prepare the kitchen for holiday cooking. Clean and organize kitchen cabinets, paying major attention to cooking supplies, ingredients, pans and equipment.

3. Clear kitchen counters of all appliances and STUFF not used within the last week. Clear counters and provide more room for holiday cooking.

4. Wash light-diffusing bowls from light fixtures.

5. Check dryer exhaust tube and vent for built-up lint, debris or birds’ nests! Make sure the exterior vent door closes tightly when not in use.

6. Schedule fall furnace inspections.

7. Clean electronic and heating vents and elements monthly for most efficient operation. Wash them in an empty dishwasher or with a strong spray nossle in your tub or wash bin. Size will depend.

8. Have chimneys and flues inspected and cleaned if necessary.

10 Ways Social Media Affects Our Mental Health

 

“The topic is broad enough to expand into dozens of articles, so this top 10 list tackles only some of the most staggering results of studies and surveys pertaining to social media. Chances are, if you’re reading this you participate in social media in some way or another, so next time you go to check your Facebook, retweet an interesting link, or choose an Instagram filter for a selfie, think about the ways your brain is processing the seemingly endless stream of information it is taking in.”     

HT to Caitlin Probst

1. Social media is addictive.

Studies show that 63% of Americans log on to Facebook daily, and 40% log on multiple times each day. People use the site for myriad reasons; however, it usually serves, on some level, the same basic purposes: distraction and boredom relief. “Likes” and comments are positive reinforcement for posting information, making it difficult for a person to stop. Researchers have found this so common that they created a scale to measure this addiction: The Berge Facebook Addiction Scale.

2. Social media makes us compare our lives with others’.

Posts on social media many times present an idealized version of what’s happening, what something looks like, or how things are going. This can lead users to constantly compare themselves to others and think less of their own lives. If things are going particularly well for people in your newsfeed and you’re having a rough day, of course this will likely negatively affect your mood. In fact, in 2012 a team of researchers in the UK surveyed users, 53% of whom said social media had changed their behavior; 51% said it was negative behavior because of decline in confidence they felt due to unfair comparisons to others.

3. Social media makes us restless.

Out of the same sample as the above example, two-thirds admitted to having difficultly relaxing when unable to use their social media accounts.

4. Social media gives rise to cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying is an enormous concern, especially for adolescents. An organization that aims for internet safety, called Enough is Enough, conducted a survey that found 95% of teenagers who use social media have witnessed cyberbullying, and 33% have been victims themselves.

Where social media aggression happens

CDC data

5. Social media glamorizes drug and alcohol use.

A study that explored the relationship between teenagers, social media, and drug use found that 70% of teenagers ages 12 to 17 use social media, and that those who interact with it on a daily basis are five times more likely to use tobacco, three times more likely to use alcohol, and twice as likely to use marijuana. In addition, 40% admitted they had been exposed to pictures of people under the influence via social media, suggesting correlation between the two factors. Although a correlation is all it is, it makes sense that social media would amp up the amount of peer pressure to which teenagers are exposed.

6. Social media can make us unhappy.

A study from the University of Michigan collected data about Facebook users and how it correlated with their moods. Simply put, they found that the more avid users were overall more unhappy than those who used the site less. Over more time, avid users also reported lower satisfaction in their lives overall.

7. Social media can lead to fear of missing out, aka FOMO.

Fear of missing out is a phenomenon that occurs when you feel pressure to be doing what everyone else is doing, attend every event, and share every life experience. It can evoke anxiety and cause social media users to question why everyone is “having fun without them.” Surveys have even found that people feel insecure after using Pinterest because they feel that they aren’t crafty or creative enough. Facebook and Twitter can make people feel like they aren’t successful or smart enough.

8. Social media often leads to multitasking.

How many tabs do you have open right now? How are you even concentrating on one thing? The thing is, you’re probably not – especially if one of those tabs is a social media site. Research has shown that our brains don’t have the capacity to fully focus our attention on two things at once, and instead multitasking causes our brain to quickly switch from one task to another. This hinders information processing and productivity. Closing out your Twitter feed can seriously help you get some work done.

Social media isn’t all about selfie-taking narcissists, cyberbullies, and killing productivity. When used in moderation with the right intentions, it really can achieve what it was first set out to do: connect people. Which brings us to…

9. Social media enhances our connectivity.

A paper linking social media usage to the Freudian ideas of the id, ego, and super-ego cites many examples of positive psychological effects of social media. Perhaps one of the most important points is that social media doesn’t necessarily take us out of the real world. It can instead be used to revive and preserve relationships with other people. Even more exciting about this technological world is that there is an incredible number of like-minded people who can connect in just one click. Research presented in the journal The British Psychological Society found that students who experience low self-esteem can take advantage of social media and its capability to bond them with others in order to pull themselves up from slumps in their mood.

10. Social media can help with socialization.

Research presented at the 119th annual American Psychological Association found that introverted adolescents can actually gain social skills by using social media. In part, this is because shy individuals may feel safer behind a computer screen (or smartphone, or tablet, or… well, you get the idea…it’s everywhere). Dr. Larry D. Rosen, who presented the information, also stated that teens were becoming very good at virtually expressing empathy towards others.

History of Psychology series. Previous post: The Stanford Prison Experiment

Sources

Academia.eduPsychological impact of social networking sites: A psychological theory
iVillage. 10 (good and bad) ways social media affects your mental health
Medial News Today. Social media: How does it really affect our mental health and well-being?
Science Daily. Social networking’s good and bad impact on kids

Photo credit: Multitasking by Sorosh Tavakoli [CC-BY-2.0]

ADHD or not ADHD?

 

frustrated-at-computerAs a Professional Organizer, I work with a lot of different flavors of people. It seems that almost all of my clients or new clients say that they have ADHD or ADD. I ask them if they were diagnosed. It’s amazing how many of them answer “yes” and have self-diagnosed themselves and not been diagnosed by a professional. In this media saturated society and with the omnipotent pressure by media and society to “Be all that you can be”, we are simply – overwhelmed. “Overwhelmed” is the word that I constantly hear from clients, friends, family and associates. Organization of the mind (Mind Organizing) plays a key role in helping to ease this anxiety and focus challenge.

Below are some questions from the World Health Organization that may help you see if you actually do have ADHD.

ADHD or OBLT? (Overwhelmed By Life Today)

 

If you answer Often or Very Often (on a ranking scale of Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Often or Very Often) to four or more of the following questions, it may be beneficial to consult with a health professional to see if you have ADHD. In the last six months….

 

  1. How often do you have trouble wrapping up the final details of a project once the challenging parts have been done? (never/rarely/sometimes/often/very often)

 

  1. How often do you have difficulty getting things in order when you have to do a task that requires organization?

 

  1. How often do you have problems remembering appointments or obligations?

 

  1. When you have a task that requires a lot of thought, how often do you avoid or delay getting started?

 

  1. How often do you fidget or squirm with your hands or feet when you have to sit for a long time?

 

  1. How often do you feel overly active and compelled to do things, like you were driven by a motor?

 

Source: World Health Organization

 

I recommend reading some of my past posts. Here is one to get started  à

http://q3r.4aa.myftpupload.com/transitioning-fall-organizing-tips/

Let me know what you think. I offer a free phone or Skype consult.

 

Do I need help Organizing?

before-you-dive-in
Diving in way over your head

Many of my clients over these past years have said that they can organize “It” themselves but that they are simply overwhelmed and can’t seem to make it happen.

They also think that they know how the best way to organize is but then they don’t end up doing it. The next thing you know, years have gone by and an accumulation of “stuff” is still lingering in every room, garage, attic or basement. They also waste a lot of time in their lives looking for things. The average American spends 72 hours per year looking for documents. There is a reason why I became a Professional Organizer. Not only because I had skills in multiple areas of business and trades but because I wanted to help individuals and families delete chaos from their homes and in their minds.

Life can be stressful enough. I always say, “When you are sick and not getting better, you go to the doctor.”. Sure, we all “could do” or have talent to do many things but the reality is that we may not have the skills and expertise or education to suddenly become a botanist or computer guru. That’s why we look for professional help. You know those people who have multiple problems in their lives with their emotions or psychologically and they say, “I can figure it out myself. I don’t need help.”? Well, usually, they don’t get counseling and then repeat the same behaviors and patterns of thinking and become recidivist-like in their own.

Does this sounds familiar to you? Feel free to write or fill out the form on this site. kathryn@seattle-organizers.com

5 Spectacular Reasons to Organize – Anxiety

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anxiety-eyesDo you suffer from anxiety and/or anxiety-depression disorder? Please respond to this post at the email below if you want to participate in a questionnaire and get a free organizing phone consult or via email.

Continue reading “5 Spectacular Reasons to Organize – Anxiety”

The Distraction Crisis – Mind Organization

Vintage Brain painting
Vintage Brain

In the book “Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life: Train Your Brain to Get More Done in Less Time” by Margaret Moore and Paul Hammerness MD, they write of what they call the Distraction Crisis. Phones, computers, driving, media saturation and overall — life in our society. Anxiety and depression disorders have increased tenfold in the past 5 years. I selected some  facts to share with you regarding this topic. This snippet shows  only a fraction of how being disorganized in our minds negatively effects our behaviors. Remember to breathe and be mindful. Take time to take care of your brain and be present in the moment. Mind Organization is the key.

Here are the facts:

“Some other distressing distraction-related statistics:

  • Forty-three percent of Americans categorize themselves as disorganized, and 21 percent have missed vital work deadlines. Nearly half say disorganization causes them to work late at least two times each week.
  • A lack of time management and discipline while working toward [financial] planners’ professional goals contributes to 63 percent of those surveyed facing obstacles regarding their health. There is a direct correlation between too much stress, deteriorating health and poor practice management.
  • Forty-eight percent of Americans feel that their lives have become more stressful in the past five years. About one-half of Americans say that stress has a negative impact on both their personal and professional lives. About one-third (31 percent) of employed adults have difficulty managing work and family responsibilities. And over one third (35 percent) cite jobs interfering with their family or personal time as a significant source of stress.
  • In a Gallup poll, 80 percent of workers said they feel stress on the job, nearly half said they need help in learning how to manage stress and 42 percent said their coworkers need help coping with stress. Job stress can lead to several problems, including illness and injury for employees, as well as higher insurance costs and lost productivity for employers.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 80 percent of our medical expenditures are now stress-related.5 Seventy percent of employees work beyond scheduled time and on weekends; more than half cited “self-imposed pressure” as the reason.”.

Those facts alone are stressful. Please take a few minutes to ponder how you can alter your behaviors to slow down the constant brain chatter and move into a more peaceful and less chaotic way of being with mind organization. Again, please feel free to send me any of your thoughts. The first 5 people who reply will get a free 1/2 hour Organizing phone or Skype consult.

Kathryn@Seattle-Organizers.com

 

 

Brain Organizing Tips

meditation-1000056_1280

Brain Organizing is much more challenging than simply organizing a desk. It takes courage and stamina and it also takes daily practice.  “Organize Your Mind Organize Your Life – TRAIN YOUR BRAIN TO GET MORE DONE IN LESS TIME” by Paul Hammerness, MD & Margaret Moore with John Hanc. Here’s an excerpt from it: “Through the use of imaging techniques, researchers at the University of Colorado were able to observe the “thinking”-brain regions of these subjects (including areas called the prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex) actually regulating the emotion-generating regions. If you can manage your emotions, harmonize and focus the various “thinking” parts of your brain, then a whole new world opens up before you. You’ve got a more organized, less stressful, more productive and, in many ways, more rewarding life— not to mention one where you can always find your car keys.”

In other words, if we can get a better grip on our secondary emotions (the feelings you have about your primary emotions like anger, fear, etc) we can act on our “organized brain”. Inherently, the brain is a web of organized mechanisms. It is our emotions that throw it off. So what does this have to do with transitioning into fall/autumn? Instead of falling (no pun intended) into the same old habits of thinking that you can’t change behaviors and habits – think again. It takes 60 days to form a habit that isn’t drug related.

Continue reading “Brain Organizing Tips”

Organizing Your Mind

The neuroscientist, Dr. Daniel Levitin’s new nonfiction book, “The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload,” combines scholarly research and interviews with people like Michael Bloomberg, George Shultz and Sting with practical tips on how to organize our homes, social lives, time and more. “Neuroscientists have learned a lot about the brain and organization and productivity, but it hasn’t trickled down to the average reader,” he says. “My aim was to bring the science to the average person.”
HT to Lucy Feldman from WSJ

Here are ten tips on organization from Dr. Levitin based on his book, which was released by Dutton.

1. Take breaks. What do air traffic controllers and simultaneous translators for the United Nations have in common? Their jobs are so stressful, they’re mandated to operate on “duty cycles” of time on and time off. Increasingly, we all feel bombarded at work. Try a 15-minute break every hour or two. “That walk around the block, that fresh air, is going to help you work more quickly and effectively when you get back,” he says. One study showed overtime workers suffer from profound diminishing returns—for every extra hour, they achieved only 20 minutes’ worth of work.

2. Set up different computer monitors for different activities. “[There’s a] biological mechanism in the hippocampus for remembering where important things are,” Dr. Levitin says. Studying for an exam in the testing room helps a student perform better, and visiting the crime scene will help a witness remember more. For office workers juggling multiple activities at a time, physical separation can help mental organization. “You’re using your spatial memory now to tell you where to look,” he says.

3. Embrace a (modified) paper to-do list. “Computer scientists talk about serial access versus random access, and this is an important concept for finding things,” Dr. Levitin says. If a VHS tape represents serial access—you have to fast-forward through everything to get to the scene you want—a DVD represents random access—you can skip right to the part you need. A to-do list typed into a computer or phone usually forces you to go through the less efficient process of serial access. “Your eyes have to pass ones in the beginning to get to the ones in the middle,” he says. Dr. Levitin recommends writing to-dos on small pieces of paper like index cards, then making piles based on priority—a technique used by Sheryl Sandberg. You can “rejigger” the cards with ease, he says, and making physical piles frees up your attention for the task at hand.

4. File correspondence in multiple ways. If your inbox sometimes feels like the Times Square of the Internet, it can help to file each thread of correspondence in more than one category—a technique shared by executive assistants and the White House, Dr. Levitin says. Keep track of President Obama’s emails in a designated Obama file, as well as the files dedicated to the specific committees, meetings and projects he’s writing about. When using an email program that allows tags, mark each message as it comes in with all possible relevant tags. And if you have a phone call with Mr. Obama that you’ll need to remember later, send yourself a quick email about it, then file and tag it as if it’s a message directly from him.

5. Purge, when needed. When inboxes, “review later” files and stacks of papers on our desks pile up past the point of return, sometimes it’s okay to simply “hit throw it all away.” Some people declare “email bankruptcy,” delete everything and write to all their contacts asking to please try again if whatever they sent is still important. Dr. Levitin himself doesn’t purge in the same way, but he does box up old, related items in his office once a year or so and simply file them away.

6. Designate time for short tasks and longer projects. Some tasks take weeks, and some only a few minutes, and you shouldn’t switch back and forth between them all day long. “The research says you shouldn’t intersperse these little things,” Dr. Levitin says. Instead of reviewing your inbox every time you get a new message alert, allocate only a couple blocks of time each day to respond to all your messages.

7. Don’t spend more time on a decision than it’s worth. A CEO won’t take an hour to decide whether to switch office supply companies in order to save a couple dollars. “Figure out what your time is worth or what you and you company stand to gain or lose, and figure out how much time it’s worth investing in the decision,” Dr. Levitin says.

8. Sleep, and nap on the job. “The fundamental finding about sleep from neuroscience in the last 10 years is that it’s necessary to form memories,” he says, and memory is essential to our work and social lives. “If you don’t get a good night’s sleep, the events of the day are not properly encoded in memory.” Companies like Google and Safeway have even set up nap rooms: You gain in efficiency and problem-solving ability more than what you lose in time spent on a 10-20 minute nap, he says.

9. Don’t over-organize. “The obvious rule of efficiency is you don’t want to spend more time organizing than it’s worth,” Dr. Levitin says. “If you’re finding things quickly enough as it is, then don’t go to all the trouble.”

10. Leave work at work. “I don’t want it to sound like I’m proposing we all become androids,” he says. “I’m talking about being able to do what you want to do in your work time so you have more time for spontaneity, leisure and social and artistic pursuits.” People who spend time at home thinking about work and vice versa can feel disconnected and experience less enjoyment. “When you’re at work, be fully at work,” Mr. Levitin says. “And let your leisure time be what it’s meant to be—restorative and fun.”

These are all strong tips that I give to my clients when they are shifting into being more goal driven and while “Habit Rehab” is in action. Do it now.