Archive for the ‘Life Coaching’ Category

No money or wrapping required…

December 19, 2008

This holiday season, there are few gifts we can give each other as precious as the act of listening.

When we provide another person with the time and space to tell his or her story — and we really listen — we let that person know how much he or she matters to us.

I’d like to share with you one of my favorite public service projects, especially designed to help us share stories; bring us closer to our loved ones; and encourage us to listen collectively.  Perhaps you’ve heard of StoryCorps, one of the largest oral history projects ever undertaken.  Since 2003, over 35,000 people have recorded conversations and interviews with loved ones through StoryCorps.  Each conversation is recorded on a CD and is preserved at the Library of Congress.  Millions listen to StoryCorps broadcasts on public radio and the Internet.  (*There is a permanent StoryCorps Booth in lower Manhattan where you can make reservations to record your story, or you can record in the comfort of your home).

Whether you record your conversations using StoryCorps’ Do-It-Yourself Guide — or you simply sit down over the holidays to chat with a parent, grandparent, spouse, sibling, or child — you will be telling that person that he or she matters.  Taking the time to ask someone special about his or her life is a gift that costs no money and is more valuable than anything that comes wrapped. In the words of StoryCorps, “it may be the most meaningful time you spend this year.”

For a great list of questions to get your conversations started, visit here.

If you’d like to learn more about how to make your own recording with a friend or family member, I encourage you to visit StoryCorps.

Wishing you joyous holidays and a happy New Year!

Jen

P.S. Make sure to turn up your speakers to hear one of my favorite StoryCorps clips (running-time: 2 minutes): Listen here.

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Jen helps dynamic individuals achieve professional success and personal fulfillment.
Her personal & career coaching programs are custom-designed to help you meet your unique goals.  Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Financial Times, Smart Money, Forbes.com, Time Out New York, and on The Today Show.

To learn more about Jen’s private coaching services or to schedule an introductory session, please contact Jen directly:

Phone: 914-617-8283
Email:
Jen@JZBcoaching.com


Visit Jen on the Web at  www.JZBcoaching.com

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It’s National Stress Øut Week

November 13, 2008
To view photo, please enable images.

You may think, “What will they come up with next?”  But, considering the challenging and uncertain times we live in, this one hits the mark:

It’s National Stress Øut Week! That’s right.  This week, The Anxiety Disorders Association of America invites every one of us who struggles with stress and anxiety to take a time out and learn more about ways to manage these “gremlins”.

This year, ADAA’s focus is on the benefits of physical activity in reducing stress.  We all know that exercise is good for us, but according to ADAA, studies suggest “a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout” and “even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects.”

In fact, exercise is a part of every treatment program recommended by ADAA President and CEO Jerilyn Ross, MA, LICSW. “It’s one of the first things I tell patients,” she says. “People may feel powerless in terms of home life, finances, or politics, but they’re in control when they exercise.”

To learn more about National Stress Øut Week and ADAA, visit here.

And, then let’s celebrate!

Jen

Jen helps people to set goals and then exceed their own expectations!

Her personal & career coaching programs are custom-designed for students and professionals.  Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Financial Times, Smart Money, Forbes.com, Time Out New York, and on The Today Show.

To learn more about Jen’s private coaching services, or to schedule an introductory session, please contact Jen directly:

Phone:
914-617-8283
E-mail: Jen@JZBcoaching.com

Visit Jen on the Web at  www.JZBcoaching.com

Quality Results Guaranteed

September 12, 2008

The trick to doing most anything well is doing it badly first.

My favorite illustration of this comes from the pages of a wonderful (short) book called Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland:

“The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an “A”. Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.”

Perhaps it is truer to say that the trick to doing most anything well is DOING the thing in the first place. The hurdle lies in moving from contemplation into action…and the best way over the hurdle is practice.  Far too often, we don’t give ourselves permission to practice — to dive in head first, make a mess of things…in essence, create a bunch of ugly pots.

But what if we did?  What if, more often than not, we moved across the great divide between contemplation and action by focusing on doing rather than on doing well?  What if we set our sights on the quantity of practice rather than on the quality of our efforts?

Consider it…What would change for you if you gave yourself more permission to practice?

Jen

P.S. Many thanks for the terrific response to last month’s ZoomLetter on Laughter! Friend and veteran television director & producer, Abby Russell, makes it her mission to share the benefits of laughter with others.  Abby is the founder of Comedy Fights Cancer, a non-profit organization that delivers live and taped stand-up comedy to patients in hospitals and care facilities and organizes comedy benefits to raise money for cancer research.  CFC’s mission is to improve patient quality of life through humor. Learn more about this amazing organization at www.comedyfightscancer.org.

Jen helps people to set goals and then exceed their own expectations!
Her personal & career coaching programs are custom-designed for students and professionals.  Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Financial Times, Smart Money, Forbes.com, Time Out New York, and on The Today Show.

To learn more about Jen’s private coaching services, or to schedule an introductory session, please contact Jen directly:

Phone: 914.617.8283
Email: Jen@JZBcoaching.com

Visit Jen on the Web at  www.JZBcoaching.com

Fun, Free and Good for Us

August 15, 2008
It was Milton Berle who said, “I live to laugh, and I laugh to live.”

Few things in this world are more enjoyable, or better for us, than LAUGHTER!

If it weren’t enough that laughter makes us feel better, an article published by staff at the Mayo Clinic attests to the physical benefits of laughter, including the following:

-laughter stimulates organs and increases endorphins (like exercise)
-laughter eases digestion and soothes stomachaches
-laughter improves our immune systems
-laughter is a natural painkiller (with no side-effects)

You can read the full Mayo Clinic article here.

Everyday, we find ourselves bombarded with information about all of the things we “should” do to keep ourselves healthy (including: exercise, get enough sleep, eat fruits and vegetables…drink enough water, but not too much). Perhaps it’s time LAUGHTER got its rightful place at the top of the list. And the more, the better!

With a chuckle,

Jen

Jen helps dynamic individuals achieve professional success and personal fulfillment.
Her personal & career coaching programs are custom-designed to help you meet your unique goals. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Financial Times, Smart Money, Forbes.com, Time Out New York, and on The Today Show.

To learn more about Jen’s private coaching services or to schedule an introductory session, please contact Jen directly:

Phone: 914-617-8283
Email: Jen@JZBcoaching.com

Visit Jen on the Web at www.JZBcoaching.com

Don’t Put Your Dreams On Hold…

June 30, 2008
This week’s blog entry comes courtesy of a client (I’ll call Laurie) who gave me permission to share one piece of her inspiring story.

Laurie had a dream for more than a decade to own and operate her own vineyard. She had been putting her dream on hold, content rather to keep it in her mind as the perfect fantasy. This perfect fantasy would indeed “rescue” her sometimes when she’d think about it during especially tough days at the office. Laurie liked having this dream to turn to, but she’d been frustrated for a long time that she wasn’t taking steps to make it a reality. Instead, she realized she was stowing the dream away in her mind like an artifact in a museum, keeping the vision wrapped up perfectly in its exquisite detail (ripe with beautiful rows of magenta grapes beneath a golden sky).  She was worried to take it out and touch it, lest she ruin the dream or risk not being able to bring it to fruition in all its glory.

Each one of us has dreams like Laurie’s — dreams we put ON HOLD because they seem too BIG…too SCARY…too CRAZY…too IMPOSSIBLE…or too PERFECT.

The visions we have in our mind’s eye are so resplendent that we have the feeling any steps we were to take in real life would fall far short, and perhaps, leave us disappointed. We effectively create our own hurdle, too high to cross.

The way out of this conundrum is by carving a messy path straight through our picture-perfect dream…and delighting in the process!

So how did Laurie carve her messy path?

She planted a garden in her backyard.

Once she recognized what was most appealing about her dream, she saw the chance to make that part a reality. What Laurie loves most is being outside, getting her hands dirty, tilling the soil, and watching life grow. She can do all of these things this very moment, everyday if she wants to, without moving to the wine country and without buying a vineyard. Owning that vineyard someday is still very much a goal of Laurie’s; she hasn’t relinquished the dream. Rather, she’s taken one step in its direction — one fairly messy step that tracks mud into her house and leaves a smile on her face. And that step, my friends, has made all the difference.

With joy!

Jen

P.S. I dedicate today’s ZoomLetter to all those who want to run a marathon…and sign up for their first 5K race; to all those who long to be published authors… and sit down to write their first blog entries; to all those who wish to be rock stars…and jam in their basements; to every one of us who has a dream…and doesn’t wait until tomorrow to enjoy it.

Jen helps dynamic individuals achieve professional success and personal fulfillment.
Her coaching programs are custom-designed to help you meet your unique goals.

To learn more about Jen’s private coaching services or to schedule an introductory session, please contact Jen directly:

914-617-8283
Jen@JZBcoaching.com


Visit Jen on the Web at www.JZBcoaching.com

How To Get Yucky Tasks Done

May 30, 2008

Can you think of a certain task you dread doing that you consistently avoid?  Consider trying “the combination approach”.  Pair the loathsome task with a rather neutral undertaking you already do everyday.  This tip comes courtesy of a dental hygienist, who recommends flossing in the shower.  Over time, once your mind forms the association, the neutral task automatically triggers you to remember it’s time to do that pesky task, too.  Make things easier on yourself by keeping reminders of the association close at hand.  For instance, keep dental floss in the shower by the shampoo.  Try keeping those vitamins you resist taking next to your toothbrush.  Using this “combination approach”, one of my clients now associates boiling water with sorting the mail.  Whenever she puts water on the stove to boil for dinner, she sorts the mail and pays the bills.  By the time the pasta is al dente, the junk mail has been tossed and the checkbook balanced!

High-five!
Jen

2 Extra Tips to Stop Worry

April 30, 2008

Other handy distractions:

These are great when you’re driving or otherwise occupied and you can’t use traditional distractions like puzzles or sports to keep your mind from drifting to worried thoughts. Examples include: Counting backwards in three’s from 100 (ex. 100, 97, 94, 91….); Reciting to yourself boys’ names from A to Z (ex. Aaron, Brian, Carl, David….), and then reciting girls’ names A to Z; Naming cities from A to Z (ex. Austin, Boston, Chicago…); or Finding the alphabet in the letters of street signs (ex. finding letters A and B in the sign for The George Washington Bridge; finding letter C in the sign for the Cross Bronx Expressway, etc….Attention New Yorkers: signs for Queens really come in handy for Q’s and U’s). The object is to use these fun and easy mind-teasers to keep your mind OFF worry. They really work…I encourage you to try them next time you’re driving and fretting. Perfect for traffic jams!

A great way to quiet nerves when giving public speaking presentations:

One thing that works really well involves shifting your mind AWAY from thinking about how you’re doing. The more you can GET INVOLVED with the audience, the less nervous you’ll be. To quell nerves just BEFORE “show time,” think about the audience rather than focusing on yourself and your speech. Think about what the audience is eager to learn, why they might be interested in attending your talk, and what value you can provide to them. Better yet, greet and talk to attendees as they arrive, asking them these same types of questions. Again, place the focus squarely on them. If nerves strike DURING your presentation, again GET INVOLVED with the audience by looking different audience members in the eyes as you speak. You will find your nerves running higher if you direct your gaze over the audience as one large group. Rather, by looking at distinct individuals as you speak, your mind will interpret that you are having a series of individual conversations, and your nerves will calm themselves as a result. These techniques work great for office meetings, too!

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4 Ways to Stop Worrying

(the full article from this week’s ZoomLetter…..To sign up for Jen’s newsletter, click here.)

Many years ago, a dear friend shared a powerful and liberating piece of advice with me. After I had “entertained” her with some worries on my mind — insignificant enough (when judged in hindsight) for me to have trouble recalling them now — she turned to me and said, “You know, you don’t have to believe every thought you have.”

She had lighted upon something important in the way I was worrying. She detected that I was granting my worried thoughts the authority of facts — as if they were sure to occur, or worse yet, as if they had already occurred.

It’s true that some of us worry more than others, but if one thing is true about human beings, it is that each of us worries at least some of the time. And unlike healthy and useful preparation, worry is unnecessary and wasteful “wringing” of the body and mind. Worry gets us nowhere, except for making us feel more upset. It’s no wonder that the dictionary definition of worry begins with the phrase “to torment oneself”.


So, if worrying is a waste, how can we stop doing it?

The following are 4 techniques to end worry.
(and they work pretty well on negative thoughts, too)

1) GET TURNED OFF: As soon as your mind brings up a worry or negative thought, dismiss it. When you catch yourself worrying, picture a bright red STOP sign in your mind. Use the image of the STOP sign to block giving the thought further time or notice. If a STOP sign doesn’t work, try keeping a rubber band on your wrist, and snap it every time you notice a worry or negative thought. The harmless sting will focus you outside your worry and will remind you to stop doing it.

2) GET ARGUMENTATIVE: If the worry or negative thought doesn’t take STOP for an answer, talk back to it. Be your own best defense attorney and line up evidence that runs counter to the invading worry. If it’s helpful, jot down a quick list of counter-arguments to the negative thought. No one has to see your list but you. Keep the list handy, because negative thoughts can be persistent and usually need a good thrashing on more than one occasion.

3) GET DISTRACTED: This technique is one reason why hobbies are so popular. If you’re having negative thoughts or worries, one of the very best things you can do is distract yourself. The human mind has a beautiful way of not being able to focus well on more than one thing at once. Take advantage of this. Occupy your mind with very tangible things that distract your attention. Some of the best distracters include: puzzles of all sorts, needlework, crafts, sports, and cooking. Keep in mind that if you really needed to do something about your worry, you’d be doing it. By the very fact that you are worrying (and not acting), it’s likely you are wasting energy and are better served by keeping your mind occupied in other ways.

4) GET INVOLVED: This one is all about taking the focus off oneself. Volunteering and helping others is a win-win all around. We feel great for two reasons: 1) we bring joy to others, and 2) we keep worry at bay because we shift our mind away from our own negative thoughts when we focus on others.

One thing I enjoy most about being a personal coach is helping clients quit torturing themselves. Clients often remark that through coaching, they get to trade worry for tangible action plans that get results. There are many more tricks where these came from. Learn more at www.JZBcoaching.com.

To borrow my friend’s line, here’s to not believing every thought we have!

Jen

A Good Problem to Have

April 11, 2008

It’s a rare person among us who sits around thinking, “What problems can I create for myself today?” Most of us spend our days on the lookout for how we can best avoid problems, preferring to act when we’re fairly certain we’ll be successful, or at least incur the fewest headaches for our efforts.

It may be counterintuitive, but recognizing “good problems” to have — and allowing them to happen — is a key to personal and professional fulfillment.


THE EVIDENCE:

Have you ever noticed that as a group, folks who enjoy the greatest achievement and satisfaction (with the least accompanying anxiety) often share a common view of challenges?

1) Simply put, they welcome good problems to have in the pursuit of their goals. In fact, these folks tend to view challenges as opportunities which indicate and spur growth. They know that most goals worth pursuing come along with a fair share of hassles. And so, they get good at spotting those challenges that are necessary and useful along the terrain they wish to travel. Rather than dwell on the hassles, these folks place their focus firmly on the potential upside the hassles herald.

2) Perhaps even more importantly, these same folks rarely spend time forcing themselves to come up with the solutions to anticipated problems in advance. This way, they don’t waste energy, and they don’t hold themselves back from taking action altogether. It isn’t that these folks ignore the potential downside to problems. Rather, they trust they will “handle it” and find solutions when the time comes. They know that their first solution may not be the best one, but that won’t matter. After all, part of the growth that problems create is ingenuity when it comes to solving them.

GOOD PROBLEMS TO HAVE:

In a former life, the producer I worked with at the hit HBO show, The Sopranos, taught me the value of this approach. Her favorite response to anyone’s “what if” questions was, “Now that would be a good problem to have!” (When problems did occur, she’d respond in the moment with useful solutions). I remember we were kicking off the 2nd season of the show with a screening at The Ziegfeld to an invitation-only crowd that we had overbooked. I asked her, “But what if we have to turn away people at the door?” to which she responded in customary fashion, “Now that would be a good problem to have, wouldn’t it?” She saw the value that lay in the short-lived hassle of crowd control. No further mention was made of the “problem” as we got busy on preparations for the special event. In fact, the “problem” did surface the night of the screening, and after we performed some damage control and made a few quick arrangements to accommodate some extra guests, the press covered the event to glowing reviews as a star-studded, standing-room only affair. It was then that I realized one of the things which made this producer so talented — she knew how to direct her energy towards the results she wished to create (while recognizing the gold in the inevitable hassles along the way). After six terrific, Emmy-award winning seasons, her mindset couldn’t have been more productive.

As a coach, I sometimes notice clients holding themselves back with the intention of avoiding a hassle they foresee lurking around the corner. Recently, a client was wrestling with whether to attend an interview for a job she wasn’t sure she wanted. “But what if they offer me the position?” she asked me, to which I heard myself reply, “Now that will be a good problem to have, won’t it?” Once we discussed it in greater depth, the client realized all she stood to gain by inviting the “problem” to occur, including: the opportunity to learn more about the company, extra practice interviewing, a chance to surprise herself and be surprised by what the company might have to offer, and increased self-confidence. (It turned out the hiring manager agreed with her inclination that this wasn’t the position for her, but he was so impressed by her that he offered her another position that was beyond what she could have imagined!)

PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS:

So how do you put this concept of seizing on “good problems to have” to work for you?
Consider the following questions next time you’re starting a new project, taking on a big goal, or making a transition:

  • What would be a good problem to have happen here? How can I make it occur?
  • What hassles am I trying to prevent, avoid, or solve upfront? By doing so, how might I be holding myself back from taking action?
  • What else could I be doing with the energy I’m currently using to focus on problem-avoidance?
  • What problem might I need to allow to occur to get past this stuck point?
  • What strengths must I recognize in myself in order to feel comfortable moving forward on this?


And remember, puddles are made for splashing!


Jen

Visit Jen and learn more about her personal & career coaching services at www.JZBcoaching.com.

To subscribe to Jen’s newsletter, The ZoomLetter, click here.

A quick & useful newsletter on keeping happy and productive, delivered to your inbox twice a month.

When It Comes to Procrastination, It’s About Outsmarting Fear

February 29, 2008

 

One of my favorite tricks is: COMMIT…AND THEN FIGURE IT OUT.

I’m talking about putting a deadline on the calendar. When a person makes a commitment to another person with a date marked on the calendar, it’s amazing how 99% of the time, it gets done.

This is a great trick if you find yourself putting off something out of fear that you really want to do deep down.

Try it next time you’re presented with a vague request to do something that scares you. For instance, if you’re in business for yourself (like I am) and you find yourself getting requests to give public speaking engagements, and if (like me) the thought of giving these presentations makes you weak in the knees, experiment with this: Call the point person at the organization that is requesting your presence and set a date on the calendar — BEFORE you prepare the presentation. Tell them you’ll get back to them with a topic and proposal, but you want to set aside the date well-in-advance to be respectful of them and to be able to plan around it. Once a date is set and you know it’s approaching, you’ll be surprised by how quickly the ideas will flow — DESPITE the fear (The fear itself takes scores of speaking engagements to abate).

This way, rather than the fear eating away at you as you continue to put off picking up the phone to schedule the speaking engagement, now the fear and adrenalin will meet productively as you make preparations for a real, scheduled presentation.

Jump off the cliff, and you’ll find a way to fly!

Jen

Learn more about Jen’s life coaching services at www.JZBcoaching.com.

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THIS WEEK’S ZOOMLETTER: Procrastination Fuels Stress

We’ve all been there — procrastinating out of sheer boredom or repugnance. Take the ultra-common resistance to perform household chores. Most of us can relate to the thoughts: “If I just hadn’t put it off!” or “If I had only done a little tidying up each day, I wouldn’t be faced with the piles of mail or the overflowing hall closet!”

But many times, procrastination springs from something a bit less transparent than simply not wanting to bother. I’m talking about the type of procrastination rooted in FEAR.

With permission, I share a valuable approach to just this type of procrastination, relayed to me by a client. She makes a great case for…

Why procrastination causes us more stress than it’s worth (and what we can do about it):

She writes: “I often put things off that I’m scared to do. Like if I have to make a phone call; or commit to something; or get back to someone; or meet with people. I always try to put it off. The problem is, when I put it off, I’m then spending all that extra time worrying about it. So, procrastinating only feels good for the first day or so (when I feel like there’s still a lot of time until I have to do the scary thing). But, really, I spend the rest of the time worrying.

So, I’ve started experimenting (like we discussed) — committing to things right away and setting up meetings sooner rather than later, even if I’m scared I won’t be prepared. This way, I end up getting whatever it is out of the way, and I have a lot of time left to feel good that IT’S DONE! I know it’s a simple idea, but it’s worked so far.

I’m actually finding that I’m pushing things UP (instead of BACK). What I’ve found is that I have more time to work on things sooner this way, which leaves less crunch time in the end. If I push things up, I can feel more freedom to make mistakes, because there’s more time to correct them. So, I might show my supervisor a crummy draft, but that’s not nearly as scary as if we met further along and I showed her a crummy final draft, because then I’d have no time to make corrections. I find the old saying to be true: The sooner you start, the better. Oftentimes, if you push something off, you end up having only one shot at it. Better to work the kinks out earlier than have it be too late. Plus, it’s a bonus to realize I can handle most things sooner and don’t need the extra time.

Now when I’m nervous about something, I don’t put it off, because that will just leave me more worried about it. The key is it’s better to take action sooner than set your life up constantly worried about what’s coming next.”

This client’s valuable insight is this:
Procrastination that stems from stress & worry ends up FUELING stress & worry. ACTION interrupts this cycle.

I encourage you to try this…Take a moment to consider ONE thing that you’ve put off out of fear, and imagine the stress that could be lifted if you were to look out your “rear-view mirror” at it COMPLETED.

With cheer,

Jen

Learn more about Jen’s life coaching services at www.JZBcoaching.com.

Favorite Organizing Tricks

February 15, 2008

In this week’s ZoomLetter, I shared 4 of my favorite ORGANIZING TRICKS.
What follows is an addendum to each of the first three of them. (To check out all 4 original tricks, scroll to the bottom of this post).

1) Additional e-mail trick: If you have the willpower, make it a point to check e-mail just twice a day. To take this one step further, consider adding an auto-responder message along the following lines: “Thank you for your email. Please note that I regularly check email at 11am and 4pm. If your matter requires immediate attention, please call me at the following number. Thank you and have a great day.”

2) Two more TO-DO list tricks: a) Consider dividing your daily TO-DO list into two or more parts based on content, location, or time of day. For instance, I divide mine into “day and evening” sections, placing daytime items towards the top of the list. Alternately, you can experiment with dividing your TO-DO list into “work and personal” sections or into “in the office and on-the-road” sections. b) When it comes to longer-term wish list items (i.e. planting that garden, taking that dream vacation, cleaning that closet, or taking that painting class), try keeping them all on one “intention” list (perhaps as a document saved to your computer). Then, each week during your 15-minute personal planning session, scan the “intention” list and see how you might add a small piece of one intention to your daily TO-DO lists for the coming week. For instance, “call travel agent” jotted on Wednesday’s TO-DO list or “research classes at The New School” jotted on Thursday’s TO-DO list starts to make taking that dream vacation or that painting class MORE REAL in bite-size chunks.

3) A twist on eliminating piles: If folders aren’t your thing, consider using open bins. Any type of boxes or bins will do (i.e. plastic, cardboard, wicker). The trick is to make sure not to use lids, so it’s easy to throw things into the bins. This will eliminate the tendency to leave papers accumulating out in the open on desktops or counter tops. You can assign names to the bins just as you might do to folders: “the action bin” and “the catch-all bin”, and you can put off sorting the bins until they start to fill. If you’re looking for something important, the worst that can happen is that you’ll have to sort through one or two bins (rather than looking all over the house). For young kids, try making tossing items in bins into a fun game.

If you have more organizing tricks that you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment to this blog below…

To learn more about personal coaching, visit www.JZBcoaching.com.

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THIS WEEK’S ZOOMLETTER: 4 OF MY FAVORITE ORGANIZING TRICKS

2) TOUCH E-MAIL ONCE: The old rule about touching papers once applies to e-mail, too. If your e-mail inbox feels like an overwhelming TO-DO list, it’s time to stop using e-mails as visual reminders that lie around like piles of paper. When opening an e-mail, commit to do 1 of 3 things: a) delete it, b) reply to it (if doing so will take less than 1 minute), or c) make a note on a separate daily TO-DO list to respond later. This eliminates the need to continually scan through e-mails or re-read them (both big time-wasters), because you rest assured that if an e-mail has been opened, either it has been acted upon or has been “captured” as an action item on your TO-DO list. Keep in mind, too, that in many cases, time spent deliberating over how to craft an e-mail “to strike just the right tone” can be cut in half by picking up the phone.

2) SCRAP THE LONG TO-DO LIST: A lengthy TO-DO list that includes everything from work meetings to salon appointments to grocery items to longer-term wish items (like finally planning that dream vacation) can overwhelm the sanest of us. Instead of keeping one long-running TO-DO list, commit to putting aside 15 minutes once a week for a “personal planning session”. I like to hold mine on Fridays. Every Friday, I transfer my work appointments and personal appointments for the upcoming week onto individual, daily TO-DO lists (this is a snap if you use an electronic PDA, but if you’re like me and do it longhand, a ringed steno notebook or weekly planner comes in handy). After the appointments are in, I add other action items to each day, according to what errands I want to run and where I’ll be that week. For instance, I generally add an item like “work out at the gym” most weekday mornings, while I might add “do laundry” to Thursday’s list and “buy groceries” to Tuesday’s list. This way, items aren’t left floating on a long list, but rather, have a day of the week assigned to each of them. Another nice thing about taking the 15 minutes for a planning session once a week is getting to scan the upcoming week from a 30,000-foot view, allowing a vantage point to plan ahead. For instance, if I see “corporate presentation” on Wednesday afternoon, I can make sure to add “prepare handouts” to Tuesday’s TO-DO list.

3) ELIMINATE PILES: When opening mail or sorting papers, keep 4 items close by as a short-term “filing system”: a) a garbage can, b) a folder labeled “catch-all”, c) a folder labeled “action”, and d) your daily TO-DO lists (or PDA). The most obvious is the garbage can – for items that can be tossed.  (As a wise reader points out, ALL clean office paper, receipts, cardboard, inserts etc. should be recycled, and not tossed into the garbage can). The “catch-all” folder comes in handy for items that don’t require action but may be good to hold onto for future reference (i.e. coupons, notices, receipts, etc). Alternately, for items that require action (i.e. bills, invitations, etc.), file them in the “action” folder and make a note – right then and there – on your TO-DO list of the action you want to take (i.e. pay insurance bill or RSVP to Jane’s birthday party). When it comes time to take the action, you’ll know just where to find the bill or the invitation — tucked away safely in the “action” folder. After the action has been taken, you can transfer the bill or the invitation to the “catch-all” folder (for safe-keeping, if you want to hold onto them). This filing method eliminates clutter on counter tops, takes the pressure off needing to sort or file upfront (since you only have two folders to contend with), and means you always know where important papers are (either in the “action” folder or in the “catch-all” folder). Once a month or so, carve out some time to go through the catch-all folder, discarding some items and transferring others to longer-term filing systems as needed (for example, if you save statements or bills for tax purposes).

4) ADD A GOOD SENSE OF HUMOR: As helpful as a TO-DO list and a fab organizing system can be, nothing beats a sense of humor when it comes to feeling good in the midst of the crazy-busy lives most of us lead. Cut yourself some slack, be kind to yourself and to others, and remember to laugh when the best laid plans go awry or something falls through the cracks. Others will appreciate you for it, and you’ll add years to your life and quality to those years.

As a personal coach, I help busy individuals self-style approaches to taming “overwhelm”, finding time, and keeping organized. If you have a valuable tip for doing any of the above, I would love to learn about it and share it with our readers. Please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Here’s to being human and having fun,

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