Organizational Tip #1: Post-traumatic Martha Stewart-itis syndrome

August 10, 2007 at 3:28 pm (Beauty Tips, Martha Stewart, Organizational Tips, solution, time management, Toodledo)

So, who feels more stressed out AFTER reading Martha Stewart’s mag? Maybe I have problems, but I find her small font and perfect home layouts and instructions for creating your own doily to be overwhelming. I just feel like an inadequate failure. And to boot, I can barely keep up with the millions of things I need to do involving daily life maintenance. I haven’t even gotten to the beauty routine I apparently should be doing. Alas, I seek to share life tips that will not add more weight to your to-do lists, but will actually lessen your load. I am also struggling to juggle multiple responsibilities as many other ladies are these days.

My first tip is not so much a tip as a change in mindset. As a female, we seek to please. When I get an email, I feel a compulsion not to offend the sender by waiting too long to write back. When the phone rings, I think, yikes, must get to it! When someone rings the door bell, I throw on whatever scraps are nearby and aim a slightly presentable appearance as not to scare away the villagers. When someone insults me, I USED to believe it, then think, how can I fix my hair, face, manner…you fill in the blank. What is wrong about all of this? I am considering everyone but myself. And why is SOMEONE ELSE’S opinion more valid than your own? Well, it’s not. Who could possibly understand your needs better than YOU? And jumping to attention at every available opportunity is not only exhausting, but it is rude to YOURSELF. So, the bigger picture gain by stopping this horrid behavior is a sense of empowerment. Stop dropping everything and getting completely stressed out and abandoning your responsibilities and dreams.

So, solution number 1 involves focusing on your own needs first. You are not selfish, you are not cruel, and lastly, being a martyr is boring. Relishing in telling for the 115th time how exhausted you are, and how you don’t have time is also boring. What would be interesting is being rested, feeling in control of your destiny, and accomplishing some of your personal goals. So, anytime the phone rings, the doorbell dongs, the email comes buzzing in, first STOP. Second, take a deep breath. Third, say to yourself, will the world explode into a million pieces if I don’t answer the phone? In the modern world, with caller ID, you will know if it’s the Secretary of State ringing. Unless you are Jack Bauer, this is unlikely. Obviously, turning off the lights and your tunes and hiding in the closet when the doorbell rings reeks of weirdness, and perhaps the UPS man has arrived with tasty treats. You may need to answer the door, but if you don’t feel like an hour-long chat with your blabby neighbor, cutting it short isn’t rude…her disrespect of your schedule IS. Not that people are to be cut off rudely or socialization is unhealthy…but if you are focusing and working and accomplishing, these interruptions should be kept quick and you should schedule in fun time with friends. Log your phone messages, important emails to return on your calendar or To Do list for a specific time of day. Pick a specified time to devote full attention, much like a doctor’s appointment. It is time limited, and whatever you don’t finish in that time (I’d suggest 1 hour), is for the To-Do list for tomorrow.


Interruption occurs (doorbell, phone, email, dog humping your leg, etc.)

1. STOP and take a breath
2. Ask yourself, “is this absolutely necessary to attend to at this very second?”
3. If the answer is no, which it should mostly be, then continue your work… If the answer is yes, you must divert attention, then do so, completing the task quickly and return to your previous activity.
4. Make a list of phone calls, emails, visits, and schedule the most vital for a daily block of time.

PROS: a sense of control, more work accomplished in less time, re-prioritizing YOU vs the rest of the world, less stress, fewer headaches

CONS: your change of behavior may surprise and disappoint others who are used to having you jump when they call (after time and reinforcement, they will get used to the new you)

FAB TIP: Toodledo has added great organizational joy to my life. You can add your To Do items, in addition to your schedule, which can all print into a little foldable list every day. Any item you must complete may be given a time of day and time limit as well. Just check out this awesome free tool. Click: Toodledo is an easy to use, web-based to-do list. Keeping track of all your tasks will help you avoid disorganization, stay motivated and be more productive. Check it out.

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