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Secrets to Help You Work Smart, Be Successful, and Have Fun
By Mina Parker
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 2008 Mina Parker
All rights reserved.
get Organized: TIPS and TIME-SAVERS
If managing your life feels like a war, then half of every battle is getting things in order. For me it's no fun at all. I have this nagging feeling that I have two lives going on simultaneously: the fun stuff and the rest of it. For example, I love to cook but despise washing dishes. I love the feeling of paying off the monthly bills, but often can't get myself together to do it until a week past the deadline, and then I feel miserable about the cumulative effect on my credit score. And any upheaval—a move, an emergency, or just getting a bad head cold—throws me for a loop. How did I let this go?! I ask myself, crazed. Why is my house filled with paper?! (One in every five pieces is really important, I swear.)
Well, it's time for a detox, a deep cleansing, spring cleaning. Doing your taxes. Clearing and sorting your wardrobe. Getting rid of the magazines you've been unwittingly storing since college. What a wonderful release. Now, those are the big projects, and don't worry yourself into trying to do them all at once. Just pick a project each month and do it a little at a time or set aside a whole weekend to blast through, whatever suits your style.
And for the rest of the month take aim at the little, repetitive, everyday stuff. Work hard to make it a habit to sort your mail right away, clean out your pockets and purse every day, and dream up new ways to multitask effectively. Train yourself to make a difference in tiny ways all day long, and soon you'll forget it's an annoyance because when it all adds up, you're way ahead of the game. If you can coax yourself into making the art of organization second nature, I promise it will serve you forever.
Find Your Focus
Words are a lens to focus one's mind.
Sometimes I still lose my head, even though it is attached to my body. But if I've left myself a note, I can usually find it again.
Detail is electric.
To know where you can find a thing is the chief part of learning.
Only when your consciousness is totally focused on the moment you are in can you receive whatever gift, lesson, or delight that moment has to offer.
BARBARA DE ANGELIS
On clutter: chaos begets chaos in our homes, and in our minds.
A place for everything, and everything in its place.
ISABELLA MARY BEETON
Just before bedtime prayers, evaluate each day. Make plans for tomorrow that will move you toward your long-range goal.
FLORENCE S. JACOBSEN
You may not be able to foresee what the universe has planned for you, but that doesn't mean your own plans should be unpredictable.
Most of what you obtain in life will be because of your discipline. Discipline is perhaps more important than ability.
Never walk into or out of a meeting without a clear agenda.
MARY JANE RYAN
Many a woman has a "to do list" that resembles the phone book! Don't over do your "to do" list. Keep it reasonable and keep it doable.
I want minimum information given with maximum politeness.
Out your problem on a piece of paper, stick the paper in a drawer and close it. Do not allow yourself to look at or think about the list until the end of the week. By then, you may will look at your problems differently and will have solutions.
I don't wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.
PEARL S. BUCK
Plan and Prepare
Look twice before you leap.
The very best impromptu speeches are the ones written well in advance.
What I've learned from fairy tales: Invest in some good string rather than mere breadcrumbs.
That way, you can always find the path back to the gingerbread house.
WENDY ST. CHARLES
Failing to plan is planning to fail.
If one asks for success and prepares for failure, she will get the situation she has prepared for.
FLORENCE SCOVEL SHINN
Don't agonize. Organize.
Plans are necessary to life and achievement in any sphere. But they should never overcome our powers of flexibility.
Lack of confidence is born from a lack of preparation.
Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.
You had better live your best and act your best and think your best today; for today is the sure preparation for tomorrow and all the other tomorrows that follow.
Winning is the science of being totally prepared.
Preparation, I have often said, is rightly two-thirds of any venture.
Fantasies are more than substitutes for unpleasant reality; they are also dress rehearsals, plans. All acts performed in the world begin in the imagination.
BARBARA GRIZZUTI HARRISON
What the world really needs is more love and less paperwork.
If we would only give, just once, the same amount of reflection to what we want to get out of life that we give to the question of what to do with a two weeks' vacation, we would be startled at the aimless procession of our busy days.
DOROTHY CANFIELD FISHER
I want to so order my life that its impression, its impact, might always be positive and spiritually constructive.
For the happiest life, days should be rigorously planned, nights left open to chance.
To stay ahead, you must have your next idea waiting in the wings.
ROSABETH MOSS KANTER
All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.
Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble and logical plan never dies, but long after we are gone will be a living thing.
It's never too late—in fiction or in life—to revise.
Take Your Life in Your Own Hands
It's true that life's gifts come with responsibilities. When I don't feel like cleaning up my desk or my car or my house or my general existence, I try to remember the people who would be desperate to have all the things I take for granted.
You take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.
Make decisions in a timely fashion—rarely does waiting improve the quality of the decision.
This is a wonderful world for women. The richness, the hope, the promise of life today ... are exciting beyond belief. Nonetheless, we need stout hearts and strong characters; we need knowledge and training; we need organized effort to meet the future.
BELLE S. SPAFFORD
When planning for a year, plant corn. When planning for a decade, plant trees. When planning for life, train and educate people.
I don't know that there are any shortcuts to doing a good job.
SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR
I was taught the way of progress is neither swift nor easy.
Some Helpful How-To's
I must govern the clock, not be governed by it.
If only everything were as easily organized as, say, my shoe collection. And even that can sometimes be a losing battle.
There are so many options, so much to do, so many demands on women. There is no point in taking one hour to do a ten-minute task, nor should we slap together an hour-worthy project in ten minutes.
Arrange whatever pieces come your way.
A team is more than a collection of people. It is a process of give and take.
Effective teamwork is all about making a good, well-balanced salad, not whipping individuals into a single batch of V8.
Take just a few minutes each day to sort through any miscellaneous papers on your desk at home or the office, rather than letting unorganized piles multiply and grow.
To achieve your dreams, remember your ABC's: Avoid negative sources, people, places, things, and habits. Believe in yourself. Consider things from every angle.
WANDA HOPE CARTER
Keep things as simple as possible ... nobody wants to reorganize their system of organization!
If a problem has no solution, it's not a problem, just a fact.
There are two ways of meeting difficulties. You alter the difficulties or you alter yourself to meet them.
Adopt the highly effective SAW inbox system: Stat (as in a hospital Emergency Room) means "do it now!" and is for urgent tasks with a deadline of today. A stands for "as soon as possible" and goes on your "to-do list" with doable deadlines. W stands for "whenever" and is only for "ideas" and wishes for the future.
I always say don't make plans, make options.
Get a 3-ring binder with pocketed dividers for receipts and user-manuals, and organize by need such as "birthdays," "utility bills," "credit cards and reports," "computer info," and most importantly, "taxes!"
One way to keep control over the paper in your life is to get it back in circulation—do you have a stack of magazines that you are almost "done" with? Take a few moments to go through them and then pass them on to friends, a library, a school, a hospital, or a charity thrift shop. I have a magazine "trade" system set up with some girlfriends!
The most successful people in the world break big tasks down to into doable pieces. If you have a major goal that feels overwhelming to you—slice and dice it. One step at a time and the mountain is climbed—Now, doesn't that feel great?
I make the most of all that comes and the least of all that goes.
Never rely on your PDA or your electronic file for addresses, numbers, and email. Just one computer crash or loss of your PDA or cell phone can render you helpless if you lack a paper backup!
Recharge yourself by rearranging your home or office. Go for simple and streamlined décor and organization and you will find you have a fresh new attitude, as well.
I see something that has to be done and I organize it.
Pay your bills the same day you receive them—don't even think about it. Not only will you be more organized, but your credit rating will improve dramatically!
Chill: GIVE YOURSELF a BREAK
You know the feeling too well: you're worn out. The rope you're dangling at the end of is frayed and about to snap. But you can't stop. Your to-do list is longer than the beginnings of that novel you've been working on, and every second that ticks by is gone forever. STOP! You're no good to anyone in this state—your boss, your best friends, your family, and most of all you.
In high school I was a bit of an overachiever, wearing myself to the bone to get good grades and participate in every extracurricular activity I could. Overall I enjoyed it, but I remember waking up one morning and my mother telling me I should stay home from school. I wasn't really sick, but I was exhausted. I didn't know what to make of it—most parents would punish their kids for trying to get out of going to school. But her lesson was partly about perspective. If I was sacrificing my health and my sanity for things that were meant to be fulfilling and fun, what was the point? And she knew better than I that some downtime would refresh me and I could hit the ground running the next day doing what I loved.
Naps. Walks. Quiet time. Meditation. Breathing. Day-dreaming. Baths. A good book. Or maybe, best of all, doing nothing. When's the last time you took a step back and really took a moment for yourself? It's about time. Here are a few famous quotes as well as some tried-and-true suggestions from ladies like you and me for taking good care of number one.
If you realize too acutely how valuable time is, you are too paralyzed to do anything.
KATHARINE BUTLER HATHAWAY
To achieve the impossible dream, try going to sleep.
Like kids, adults need time-outs too, but it's usually to keep from doing something bad rather than as punishment.
A good rest is half the work.
Relaxation is an art that has been made very difficult to practice by the conditions of modern civilization.
For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.
Regardless of your religion, go inside a local church, temple, or synagogue and sit for a half an hour when there is no service happening. Simply sit and enjoy the company of your thoughts, the mellow lighting, and the reflective atmosphere.
If you don't take naps, take one! Take a nap in the middle of the day when you are unusually overwhelmed. Just doing this once, during an "off limits" time, will renew your sense of self and allow you to stay on task the rest of the time!
Take a bath early in the morning, before you begin your daily routine. Get up earlier if you have to, and immerse yourself in the tub. You will have a relaxed day.
Interrupt your daily routine on a weekend by doing nothing; it brings a fresh perspective.
Laugh Out Loud
You grow up the day you have your first real laugh at yourself.
Housework can't kill you, but why take a chance?
Remember that thing they say about stopping and counting to ten? It only works if you're sane enough to count.
I am woman! I am invincible! I am pooped!
Insanity is my only means of relaxation.
Read some young adult fiction—a Nancy Drew book or anything by Lemony Snicket. Get yourself out of the busy adult world and remember what it was like to get lost in a book.
Here is the opposite of your "to-do list" for work! Make an "I want to do this" list. It can be as adventurous as possible, anything you want to accomplish in your life: plant a gorgeous garden, go to Australia and surf, learn to play piano, hang glide. Just by making the list, you are helping your wild wishes come true!
Learn and Share
Love the moment, and the energy of that moment will spread beyond all boundaries.
SISTER CORITA KENT
Take up a new hobby you've always been interested in. Learning a new skill will make you feel productive, even if that skill is only for your enjoyment.
Don't forget the simple pleasures of your past. Recently I remembered a favorite present from my childhood, an origami kit. I bought myself a new kit and was delighted to find that making these tiny works of art can still focus and clear my mind.
A potluck with friends may be a simple tradition, but it's one of the most fun and even rewarding to uphold.
A change of scenery is often the easiest way to take time away from our everyday lives. Never underestimate the benefits of a simple day trip alone or with friends.
Museums are some of the best places to gain a bit of relaxation and perspective. You have to think about something besides your own problems when surrounded by the evidence of so much other reality.
Listen to music you like and cultivate that interest actively—go to concerts, listen to CD's you have never heard at the store, and share your taste with friends. Music communicates to us on many different levels and your favorite music tends to transport your mind to its favorite place.
Develop your green thumb—even if you only have a couple of pots on your deck or fire escape. Learn all about plants online or at the local nursery and add seasonal plants for spring and fall. Not only will you be creating beauty, you will be more in tune with nature and the seasons.
Pets are great happiness boosters. The companionship, love, and entertainment a pet provides, for many people, is as significant as any human relationship. Medical researches have even discovered that petting your pets reduces blood pressure!
Grab your wild friends and have a clothing swamp. Set aside clothes or accessories you don't wear, gather with friends who've done the same, and begin a fair trade. Spice up your wardrobe without spending money!
Let It Go
Forget the past and live the present hour.
SARAH KNOWLES BOLTON
The jump is so frightening between where I am and where I want to be ... because of all I may become I will close my eyes and leap!
MARY ANNE RADMACHER
Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.
CORRIE TEN BOOM
Excerpted from Her Inspiration by Mina Parker. Copyright © 2008 Mina Parker. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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