How Clutter Affects Your Brain…

Which sides looks greener?

Which sides looks greener?

When we have finished decluttering at a clients home, I always get the same response: “I feel so much lighter now!” And it is true – decluttering your physical environment also declutters your thinking and emotions too.  Here is a great article I found on Lifehacker.com that goes into this phenomenon in a bit more detail.

How clutter happens

You collect things for a number of reasons–maybe you think you’ll need to use it later, it has sentimental value, or you spent good money on it so you feel you need to keep the item, even if you haven’t touched or used it in weeks, months, or years. You might be holding on to that book you bought a year ago that you swear you’ll read or those killer pair of shoes that you’ll bring out for just the right occasion. But the reality is, you probably made a mistake in buying those things and it literally hurts your brain to come to terms with that fact.

Researchers at Yale identified that two areas in your brain associated with pain, the anterior cingulate cortex and insula, light up in response to letting go of items you own and feel a connection towards: This is the same area of the brain that lights up when you feel physical pain from a paper cut or drinking coffee that’s too hot. Your brain views the loss of one of your valued possessions as the same as something that causes you physical pain. And the more you’ve committed emotionally or financially to an item, the more you want to keep it around.

When you introduce new items into your life, you immediately associate value with these items, making it harder for you to give them up in the future. This psychological connection to things is what leads to the accumulation of stuff.

Clutter’s Impact on Your Brain

Whether it be your closet or office desk, excess things in your surroundings can have a negative impact on your ability to focus and process information. That’s exactly what neuroscientists at Princeton University found when they looked at people’s task performance in an organized versus disorganized environment. The results of the study showed that physical clutter in your surroundings competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress.

A team of UCLA researchers recently observed 32 Los Angeles families and found that all of the mothers’ stress hormones spiked during the time they spent dealing with their belongings. Similar to what multitasking does to your brain, physical clutter overloads your senses, making you feel stressed, and impairs your ability to think creatively.

Clutter isn’t just physical

Files on your computer, notifications from your Twitter and Facebook accounts, and anything that goes “ping” in the night competes for your attention. This creates a digital form of clutter that erodes your ability to focus and perform creative tasks. Mark Hurst, author of Bit Literacy, a New York Times best seller on controlling the flow of information in the digital age, put it best when he said: When you have to-do items constantly floating around in your head or you hear a ping or vibrate every few minutes from your phone, your brain doesn’t get a chance to fully enter creative flow or process experiences. When your brain has too much on its plate, it splits its power up. The result? You become awful at:

  • filtering information
  • switching quickly between tasks
  • keeping a strong working memory

The overconsumption of digital stuff has the same effect on your brain as physical clutter.

Read the entire article here.

How you can build the life you desire…

Today’s post is by the fabulous Rosina Bond from Women 2 Success. This is so true for me right now and no doubt many of my readers will also be able to relate:

Who knows what lies ahead?

How can you build the life you desire, attract a soul mate, build a business and create the financial freedom you deserve?

The startling reality is that, in spite of their dreams, many people are struggling financially, experiencing the pain of debt or bankruptcy, and living a life alone or in neglected relationships.

Why are so many people falling so far short of living the life they desire? What’s missing in them and why cant they find a solution. There are thousands of books to inspire you to gain a life of fulfillment and success but why does success come easy to some, while others struggle and fail?

The truth is, no one is missing anything and every individual has potential to take charge of their lives, no matter your circumstances, level of education, or business experience. Whatever fulfillment means to you, YOU have the innate ability to make your unique visions a reality. When you read this what do you feel, does your inside jump for joy or shrink with fear.

Being driven by a sense of purpose, making a difference in peoples lives reaching goals and targets that you have created from a small seed brings intense satisfaction.

When an opportunity knocks do you even recognise it and know what to do? Successful people grab opportunities and squeeze every drop out to attain more success, are they simply clever or lucky.

Many people do not take up opportunities due to fear of the unknown or fear of failure but moslty because they fear looking bad.

To create a dream you must first create a new mind set. You must develop a willingness to take risks, to find new ways of putting your dreams and desires in motion. The only way to achieve this is to look and find doorways open to success.

How often have you said about someone you know or a celebrity, they are lucky or were in the right place at the right time? Many people attain success, financial wealth and a great life style and called it luck. I know people create their own luck just as they attract negativity into their lives and this is all from their limiting belief or lack of desire to achieve and gain success.

Every cloud has a silver lining, one door closes another opens. We have all heard sayings like these and most of us have experienced them at least once.  How many people have left unhappy job or been made redundant and find the new job more exciting, more money and increased satisfaction, I know I have. So often these new situations were forced on us even though we complained constantly how unhappy we were but were too afraid to move as fear got the better of us. I believe your inner belief can create a negative opportunity to bring about the change you desire.

I have seen people in business become so negative and only see how hard business is, they no longer see any opportunities  and their belief slowly creates a negative door of opportunity and the business goes under. In these situations the initial feeling can be relief but slowly the feeling of failure can immobilise and restict them from jumping forward.

Opportunities are based on an open view and choice. When you get a chance you make choice. You can turn crisis and defeat into success and frustration into fulfilment. To embrace on opportunity you need courage and be willing to move and make sacrifise. It is easy to feel intimidated and ignore adventure and then you can lose out and remain standing where you are now.

You need a creative and adventurous mindset to turn obstacles into opportunities.

Someone comes to you with a business opportunity, it requires time, effort and resources and there is a cost. What is your first response, probably shock or intimidation by the costs! Next you find people who will confirm your worst fears, eventually you will be turned against the idea and again you stand still.

There is no shortage of opportunities in the world, only a shortage of opportunists. Successful people make the most of every circumstance. Opportunities happen at inopportune moments not convenient ones. Don’t get me wrong it is not easy to embrace change and create new; it takes hard work, perseverance and sheer determination to move forward. Don’t do the same as everyone else as you will only achieve the same or even diluted results.

The ways they think and behave literally set them up to fall short, therefore, leading them over and over again into patterns of frustration, helplessness, overwhelm then, ultimately, failure. They are taking the same actions each time expecting a different results which, as we all know by now, is the definition of insanity.

“Entrepreneurship,” says Sir Richard Branson, “is the golden highway to economic freedom, plus It’s an exciting and fun way to make a living.” More than a road to riches, entrepreneurialism is a path to true fulfillment. The experience of putting a great team together, launching a company from the seed of an idea, hitting every goal you set, and building wealth. To be driven by a sense of purpose, ideally, making a positive difference in your life and others.

One Reason people struggle to see how they can embrace change is…they act as if the very thing they aspire for is something outside themselves when in actual fact it has been thee all the time. What life are you aspiring to live now? And how can you get it.

I would love to hear from you and for you to share with me what you feel is blocking you in your quest. I am offering 5 people from Kerri Rodley’s contacts a change to get a free 1-question reading from me. All I need is for you to tell me your date of birth, first name and what you want to achieve and why you feel blocked. I will email you back with anything I pick up on this and what options you have ahead.

To receive this special offer, please email Rosina: roselore@xtra.co.nz

 

 

 

9 Tips to Tackle Your Emails When Travelling

Why won't they stop???

This recent post from Unclutterer is so relevant for me at the moment and I am sure many of my readers will find it interesting too. Here are 9 tips that may help you to stay on top of the plethora of emails that don’t stop when you are travelling:

  1. Tie yourself to a smartphone. If you want to stay on top of email, you have to keep a smartphone on you. Keep the ringer off and the message alerts set to vibrate.
  2. Enable automatic sorting and color coding in your smartphone’s email program. Have a filter that automatically routes all messages out of your inbox and into separate folders where you are copied instead of listed as the main recipient, all newsletters or read-only emails you subscribe to, and all emails from sources you know are not going to be must-respond-now messages. Have your system color code messages from your boss and/or other very important folks so these messages will catch your attention when they come into your main inbox. (If you’re on a Windows-based phone, there are macros and add-ins for Outlook you can install. If you can legally route your work email through Gmail, you can also do this. I was unable to find an app for the iPhone that enables these features.)
  3. Check messages during lulls in your schedule. As you wait in the line at the airport, switch between sessions at a conference, or grab a snack, process your priority emails then.
  4. Only check work email. If someone needs to contact you about an important personal matter, he/she will text or call you. Check your personal email account on weekends or after you get home from traveling.
  5. Only respond to items that can be handled in less than one minute. Delegate as much as possible, delete or archive anything that doesn’t need a response, and only send short messages of less than a paragraph to the priority emails you respond to.
  6. Manage expectations. Have an automated out-of-office message enabled on your account that says you will have limited access to emails and no one should expect a response until you are back in the office (be sure to list that specific date). Provide detailed contact information for someone in the office who may be able to handle emergencies, and give that person in the office your cell number so he/she can call you if there is a major event. Also, let your office contact know when you expect to be on flights and/or completely out of connection.
  7. Manage more expectations. When you reply to someone from your smartphone, have a “Sent from mobile device, please excuse typos and brevity” signature on the bottom of every message. You might also want to consider posting your return date on your out-of-office message as the day after you return so you have a full day to gather your bearings once you’re back in the office. Under promise, over deliver.
  8. Have access to cloud file storage. Not all smartphones allow you to attach documents, so you’ll need to be able to send links to documents stored online with services like Dropbox. If your employer doesn’t allow file posting online and attaching documents to emails is essential to your job, you’ll want to get the smallest, lightest laptop you can because you’re going to have to carry it with you instead of a smartphone.
  9. Work on email every night when you get to your hotel room. It will add to your workday, but taking 30 minutes or an hour every night to process the entirety of all your email inboxes and folders will guarantee you don’t have an avalanche of messages when you get back to your office.

Read more here: http://unclutterer.com/2012/04/03/how-to-manage-email-when-traveling-for-work/

8 tasks to help you focus on work during the silly season!

Sing it with me "only 4 more weeks til Christmas..."

Although it isn’t even December as yet, you can feel it in the air – the silly season is coming! Parties, holidays, shopping, decorating – this is the time of year when our minds are thinking of everything else – except work!

Here are some fab tasks from Unclutterer.com that will help to get you through these last weeks before you can indulge and have some well earned rest.

  1. File. Put on headphones (if they are acceptable in your workplace), and start putting papers away where they belong. If all your papers are filed, review your files to make sure you’re not keeping any information that doesn’t need to be archived. Organize your papers so that they help you do your job.
  2. Review your bulletin board. How recent are all those items hanging on the walls of your cubicle or bulletin board? Can you easily see all of the most vital information? Is the calendar from two years ago? Is there anything that can come down or be replaced?
  3. Clean your phone and work surface. When was the last time you scrubbed either? The dust bunnies behind your monitor aren’t going to clean themselves.
  4. Enter information off business cards. If you’ve recently acquired business cards from important contacts, enter the data into your address book.
  5. Backup your computer. If it’s not doneautomatically, now is a great time to backup the information off your computer’s hard drive. Be sure to follow your employer’s system for doing this task.
  6. Unclutter your bookshelves. Do you have any out-dated manuals or irrelevant reading materials taking up space on your bookshelves? Now is a great time to recycle, shred, or remove these items from your office.
  7. Equipment check. Are you using all of your equipment in your office? Is it in its best possible shape? Could you benefit more by knowing how to better operate the equipment you do have? Make a request to have the item serviced or take the time to read the operator’s manual or get rid of anything you don’t use.
  8. Restock. Do you need more tape, more pens, more notepads, or any more office supplies? Go “shopping” in the supply closet if you do

To read more go here: http://unclutterer.com/2011/11/21/have-vacation-brain-at-work-try-some-of-these-mindless-but-productive-activities/

Being organised in the workplace – the solution to today’s economy?

OK... synchronise calendars NOW!

Having just spent over three hours with my accountant discussing my growing business, it occured to me that being organised in my procedures and systems is such a big part of why my business can grow easily (my accountant is very happy with my extremely organised financial system – even though I hate figures!)

Being part of a large corporate organisation with many team members (like I used to be in my previous life), having organised systems in place is also an essential ingredient to a smooth flowing workplace and could mean the difference between keeping a client – or keeping your job!

Erin from Uncluttered.com wrote on this very thing back in 2008:

In today’s economy, employees can’t afford to be disorganized.

It’s no longer a matter of personality, it’s a matter of keeping one’s job and retaining or obtaining clients. If an employer is trying to decide whom to layoff and whom to keep, the most organized, profitable, and productive workers usually get to keep their jobs.

Workers who consistently miss deadlines, run projects over budget, and upset clients and vendors with their inconsiderate behavior are the people who are let go. Additionally, current and potential clients won’t do business with your company if they don’t receive the product they expect on time and on budget.

If you’re worried about the level of disorganization in your work, here are a few items that may help you:

  • Clear the paper clutter from your office
  • Start using project management and goal systems to help organize your work load
  • Set alarms in Outlook or other calendars to keep you on schedule
  • Learn how to run efficient meetings
  • Work on managing expectations for deadlines and deliverables through ongoing communication with the client or your manager

What are your favorite ways to stay organised at work?

To read more: http://unclutterer.com/2008/10/24/being-an-organized-worker-is-essential-in-todays-market/

6 organising time savers for phone calls

Hello chief?

We are all guilty of it – spending too long on the phone and then when we hang up, we realise we don’t have the information that we called for in the first place!

The following are suggestions for how to use the phone in an organised way during those times when you need to rely on it from Unclutter.com:

  1. Create talking points.
  2. Before you make a call, jot down notes about what you need to cover in your discussion. This is especially important before conference calls. Like with meetings, you should never make a call without knowing how you want the conversation to end. If you can’t construct a purpose statement before dialing, don’t dial.

  3. Set a timer. Whenever you call someone, you’re interrupting whatever it was the person was doing before you called. Be respectful of this and make the call as brief as possible. When someone calls you, be up front about how much time you have to be on the phone. Most phone calls should begin as follows: You: “Hello, this is NAME.” Caller: “Hello, this is NAME. How are you?” You: “I’m great. I’ve got X minutes to talk, what can I help you with?” If the person on the other end of the line needs to talk to you for more than the number of minutes you said, then he or she can schedule a block of time to talk with you in the future. You: “Hey, can we talk this afternoon at three? I don’t have any afternoon appointments scheduled.”
  4. Use a headset if you’re on the phone for more than half an hour a day. From an ergonomic perspective, your neck shouldn’t be cramped for extended periods of time. Plus, your hands will be free to do mindless tasks while you’re on your call — filing papers, putting paper clips away in your drawer, etc. If you’re going to be making a lot of noise, though, be sure to hit the mute button so that you don’t disrupt the other people on the call.
  5. Don’t call people and ask whether they received your e-mail. If you are worried someone didn’t receive your initial e-mail, just resend it with a note and the whole content of your previous message. Ask for a confirmation of receipt if you’re afraid the e-mails aren’t arriving. Not everyone checks their e-mail on your schedule, so don’t disrupt them further by calling.
  6. Use the do-not-disturb button. Just because you’re sitting at your desk doesn’t mean that you have to answer the phone. If you need to concentrate intently on work, hit the do-not-disturb button and let all calls go to voicemail for that period of time. You shouldn’t leave the button on all the time, because this practice will reflect poorly on you in the workplace. However, doing it from time to time can significantly improve your productivity.
  7. Designate a time to return calls. I like to return phone calls from twelve thirty to one in the afternoon, after lunch, when my energy level is low. I get a boost from the people I’m talking to, and it’s a time when most everyone across the U.S. is at work (twelve thirty PM East Coast time is nine thirty AM on the West Coast).

To read more go to: http://unclutterer.com/2010/07/21/excerpt-six-tips-for-organizing-your-time-spent-on-the-telephone/

 

A 6 step plan to organise your desk drawer

My calculator is in here somewhere...

It doesn’t matter how organised you are (and I consider myself pretty organised considering I am a professional organiser), your desk drawer reflects your state of busy-ness. The busier you are the messier it will be. If only we had plenty of time to rearrange our post-it notes and highlighters.

Here is a strategy from Unclutterer.com for helping you curb the clutter from your desk drawer (which incidentally can also be used for the utensils drawer in the kitchen or toiletries cupboard in the bathroom):

  • Take all of the supplies out of the drawer and put them in a small box.
  • Clean out your desk organizer and the drawer.
  • Go about your work.
  • When you need an item, take it out of the box, use it, and then put it away in the top desk drawer.
  • After five days have passed, review the items that made it into the top desk drawer and make sure that they are organized in the best way for your needs.
  • The items that remain in the box on your desk do not belong in the prime real estate of your top desk drawer.
  • Sort through the items and toss out, recycle, or pass along to a co-worker anything that is pure clutter in your desk.
  • Find a shelf or lower drawer where the items you need but use less frequently can be stored.

Another top desk drawer organizing idea: While on your next phone call, give all of your pens a test drive to make sure that they work.

Read some other great suggestions from readers here: http://unclutterer.com/2011/03/21/bringing-order-to-your-top-desk-drawer/

 

4 tips to surviving summer at your desk

 

Oh I do love to be beside the sea-side

It is the middle of summer here in Australia; hard to believe when you see New York City under 12 inches of snow.

But with the heat and humidity of summer comes the lethargic feelings and thoughts of lazing on the beach or out enjoying an el fresco lunch with friends – rather than putting in a productive day at work.

So…what to do?

To survive these beautiful days cooped up inside, try to do the following things every day:

  • As the shine comes up earlier, get to your desk earlier.  Try to get as much work done as possible before other people start working.  Most people have more energy earlier in the day than later, so while the phone isn’t ringing and no one is sending you emails you can get more done. And it will keep you from feeling guilty when you zone out around 3:00 in the afternoon.
  • Do a lot of positive self-talking. Get your stuff done so you can go out and do something outside. The longer you procrastinate about your work the less time you’ll have for whatever else it is you want to do.
  • Have a plan for what needs to be done that day and schedule hard to do, thought-intensive items for early in the day and more mindless stuff for the afternoon.
  • Avoid heavy lunches; if the meal is hard to digest, it can put you to sleep in the afternoon but lighter lunches don’t seem to have such a drastic effect (apart from the 2pm energy lull!)

For more on the topic, go to: http://unclutterer.com/2010/07/15/fighting-the-summer-productivity-blahs/

 

When opportunity knocks, are you ready?

Waving opportunity my way on The Today Show

The Queensland floods have been a devastating event, yet as with any major setback or roadblock, there is always opportunity. Getting the state back on its feet takes the expertise of many and sharing this expertise via the media is a big help to many who don’t know what to do.

And this is how my opportunity came from left field – appearing on the Today Show showing flood affected people how to salvage their damaged furniture. I didn’t see it coming, but I jumped straight up and grabbed hold – I didn’t want to let this fantastic PR opportunity pass me by.

In my email in box this morning was another excerpt from a book called Money, Meaning & Beyond by Andrea J. Lee talking on this very thing so I wanted to share it with you all:

In any given business, the growth of the business will rise or fall to the level of the business owner’s personal development.

I see it frequently.

When people grow, their business grows. When people don’t, their businesses don’t.  and sometimes, when businesses get inherited or acquired, the business will show a spurt or dive, based on the ethos of the new owner.

When opportunity knocks, are you ready?

If you knew you could have everything you wanted right now, would you know what to say?

Are you – your character, your development, your greater Self – ready?

Here are some things to really embrace as you go about life in the next thirty days:

  • Saying NO to bland. Stand for something.
  • Cultivating a vision. Get clear about what you believe and mean it.  Lead.
  • Conditioning yourself emotionally. You and your business will weather many ups and downs.
  • Nurture your strength of spirit just like you work out your body for the great race.
  • Articulate what you want and why. Don’t worry about how just yet.
  • Being prepared to say a resounding ‘yes’ to help that wants to find you, and that many times, is sitting right on your doorstep.

Be diligent and unflinching about yourself and your growth.  Start now in whatever shape or form that looks like to you.

Your success (financial and other) as a business owner is DIRECTLY linked to your ability to evolve yourself.

To find out more go here: http://www.andreajlee.com/blog/archives/2011/01/19/feature-article-the-paul-principle-for-better-or-worse-it%E2%80%99s-all-about-you-excerpted-from-the-money-meaning-and-beyond-book-chapter-26/

My laptop rules my life!

My post is a bit late today – the reason being is that my Word Press blog went down because I thought I was smart and put a new name server on it. Turns out I wasn’t so smart so I had to undo everything and $$ down the drain.

But in the instant that I realised my blog was down, my mood plummeted, I was short and snappy with people, I couldn’t concentrate on anything, I didn’t even want to leave my desk to go to the loo until I had resolved it (with the help of a techie in Asia somewhere!)

This made me think, why do we allow our laptops to rule our lives to the extent that we treat the “living” things in our world as second rate citizens? How many times has the dog not gone for a walk because you were working on your website? How many meals have you forgone because you were watching webinars or reading articles on how to improve your life? What other areas of you life have been put on hold or forgotten about because your eyes were glued to the screen and your fingers to the keyboard?

Uncorking new opportunities!

This year, I aim to take a stand against the time I spend on my laptop and not with the people I love. No more “are you coming to bed now?” as I slave away until the wee small hours. No more Saturday mornings or Sunday evenings tapping away when I could be sitting on the verandah with my husband watching the sun go down with some wine and cheese.

In fact, I am going to start right now since the sun is going down. Well, right after I post this blog of course.  Now…where is that bottle opener?