Tag Archive for: organization

Multitasking, Time Management and Organization

Multitasking, Time Management and Organization

By Donnell Ann Bell

Where’s my keys? Where’s my phone? What did I do with my glasses? Sound familiar?

Many people attribute forgetfulness to advancing years. Me? I attribute forgetfulness to distraction, our busy lives, and the ridiculous notion that if we’re doing multiple things at once, we’re efficient and engaged in time management.

I’m not a fan of multitasking. If you’re doing multiple things at once, chances are you’re in a hurry. Slowing down, focusing on one thing at a time, e.g., concentrating on those keys in your hand, solidifies in your brain where you put them.  Even better, if you concentrate on those keys in your hand AND put them in the same place every time, chances are you will find them every time.

It took me a while to figure this out, but now that I put things in a strategic place, I’m less stressed and don’t spend ten minutes trying to recreate my movements. Further, the most amazing thing has happened. I know precisely where everything is and I’m not late anymore!

I’ve been traveling a great deal for the last two years and hopefully will be slowing down. Now that I’m home, I plan on tackling things I’ve left undone.  Mainly all the stuff I’ve crammed into closets, promising myself I’ll get to it later. Well, my friends, it’s later! And to say I’m organized would be complete fiction. However, I have a game plan to become organized, and I’d like to credit my friend Author Mike Befeler for giving me the ideas to get started.

Mike has no idea I’m crediting him or that I’m recommending his book, Unstuff Your Stuff.  I read this book years ago, and the moment I remember where I put it . . . Kidding. It’s on my Kindle. 😉and my Kindle resides on my nightstand.

Typical of Mike’s books, it’s a humorous mystery, but I have to say as I read, I couldn’t help thinking this is also a great self-help book. So, that’s what I’m doing. Taking the tips I learned from Mike’s novel.

In closing, here some great advice I heard from my eye doctor when I continually misplaced my glasses. “If they’re not on your face, they belong in your case.”

For anyone who wants to read a mystery, smile, and read a self-help, here’s the link and blurb to Mike’s novel.  Happy organizing!

About UNSTUFF YOUR STUFF:  68-year-old Millicent Hargrove returns from her Tuesday night bridge game to her house in Boulder, Colorado, to find her husband, George, dead on the floor with a knife in his chest. At the funeral a man she doesn’t know comes up and hands her an envelope. He explains that with George’s death, she will receive special compensation for some work that George once did for the government. She asks what the work was, but he only says it was classified and he can’t discuss it with her. As she cleans out all her stuff to move from her house to a condo, she discovers that she’s good at organizing her things. Her friends encourage her to start a personal organizing business. Millicent gives it some thought and decides it’s a good idea. She calls her business, Unstuff Your Stuff. Millicent gains clients but struggles with her new life and cryptic clues left by her husband. Men hit on her, but she doesn’t want to get involved in any relationship, although she likes the father of the young man who helped her move to her condo. She escapes attempts on her own life and figures out the mystery of the cryptic messages left by her husband. She develops a successful organizing business while sorting through the clutter from the secret life her husband led.

About Mike Befeler: In the May, 2008, issue of the AARP Bulletin Mike Befeler was identified as one of four authors in a new emerging mystery sub-genre. Harlan Coben, president of Mystery Writers of America stated, “We’ve just scratched the surface on geezer-lit. It could be the next frontier in crime fiction.” Mike turned his attention to fiction writing after a career in high technology marketing.  His debut novel, RETIREMENT HOMES ARE MURDER, was published in 2007.  The second novel in his Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series, LIVING WITH YOUR KIDS IS MURDER, appeared in 2009 and was nominated for the Lefty Award for the best humorous mystery of 2009. The third book in the series, SENIOR MOMENTS ARE MURDER, was released in 2011. The fourth book in the series, CRUISING IN YOUR EIGHTIES IS MURDER, was published in 2012 and was nominated for the Lefty Award for best humorous mystery of 2012. The fifth book in the series, CARE HOMES ARE MURDER, was published in 2013. The sixth book in the series, NURSING HOMES ARE MURDER, was published in 2014. He also has a paranormal private investigator mystery, THE V V AGENCY (published 2012); a paranormal geezer-lit mystery, THE BACK WING (published 2013), and its sequel, THE FRONT WING (2019);  a theater mystery, MYSTERY OF THE DINNER PLAYHOUSE (published in 2015); a non-fiction biography, THE BEST CHICKEN THIEF IN ALL OF EUROPE (published in 2015); a historical mystery, MURDER ON THE SWITZERLAND TRAIL (published in 2015); a sports mystery, COURT TROUBLE, A PLATFORM TENNIS MYSTERY (published in 2016), and its sequel PARADISE COURT (2019); an international thriller, THE TESLA LEGACY (2017); a standalone geezer-lit mystery, DEATH OF A SCAM ARTIST (2017); a professional organizer mystery, UNSTUFF YOUR STUFF (2018); a novella, CORONAVIRUS DAZE (2020); OLD DETECTIVES HOME (2022); and LAST GASP MOTEL (2023).

Mike is an acclaimed speaker and gives three entertaining and informative presentations titled, “The Secret of Growing Older Gracefully—Aging and Other Minor Inconveniences,” “How To Survive Retirement,” and “Rejection Is Not a Four Letter Word,” which promote a positive image of aging. Contact him at mikebef@aol.com if you’d like him to speak to your organization.  https://www.mikebefeler.com

About Donnell Ann Bell:  Leaving international thrillers to the world travelers, Donnell Ann Bell concentrates on suspense that might happen in her neck of the woods – writing SUSPENSE TOO CLOSE TO HOME. Published with BelleBooks/Bell Bridge Books, she has written four Amazon bestselling standalones as well as her award-winning Cold Case series, Black Pearl and Until Dead. Currently, she’s working on book three of the series. For more information, see her website at https://www.donnellannbell.com


The Big Planner Shake-Up

By Debra Sennefelder
What happened at the beginning of January was an
unprecedented shake-up in how I plan my life. And it all started in the latter
part of 2019.
There was a post on Facebook. A fellow author was
looking for suggestions for planners. Like us all, she was looking to get a
head start on organizing 2020. I commented that I’d been using an Erin Condren
Life Planner for two years, but I intended to go back to my six-ring A5
After careful consideration, I decided to go back to
the A5 because I wanted the flexibility of being able to organize the planner
how I wanted it. And I wanted more space to write my to-do tasks for each day.
With the decision made, I ordered
new inserts for the A5. As soon as the inserts arrived I began noting all my
deadlines, birthdays, appointments, etc. Everything was good.
So, I thought.
Something started not to feel right with the A5. My
first thought was maybe it was due to the texture of the binder. For some it
may not be a big deal, but since I handle my planner multiple times during the
day, how it feels in my hands is essential to me. I then thought maybe I was
over the black cover. Perhaps a pop of color would be nicer and more visually
appealing. The temptation to buy a new A5 was strong, but I held strong. The DayRunner was good enough.
So, I thought.
In early January, I signed up for a free online
workshop on how to go paperless. During the class, I learned some tricks on how
to go partially paperless (some papers just can’t be scanned and shredded). One
of the recommendations was a to-do list app. This was new to me and I decided
to give it a try.
With the app downloaded to my phone, I began using it.
After a week, I realized the app wouldn’t work for me because once a task was
completed, it was deleted from the list. I’m one of those people who need to
cross off tasks from a list and be able to see what I’ve accomplished at the
end of the day. While the app didn’t work for me, it did introduce me to using
my phone as a part of my planning process. Which led me to my Google calendar.
Yet again.
I’d tried using the Google calendar before, and it
never clicked. Until now.
I planned out the whole month of January. Color-coding
the tasks was a nice perk. And I got
into the habit of opening up the calendar in the morning right after my morning
pages were completed. What I’d been craving in my “planner” was the ability to
look at the monthly spread without having to page back and forth all the time
in the A5 or EC. Sure, I could have a wall calendar, but then I have to take it
down and write in the task, then put it back up, and for me, it becomes visual
clutter on the wall. The Google calendar was working for me. Finally.
But there was still a piece of the puzzle missing.
While the Google calendar gave me a view of the month, I was missing the daily
planning. All the things I need to do from laundry to outlining to walking
Connie. Yes, I know there’s a daily view feature in the Google calendar, but I
prefer to write these lists down so I can cross of all the completed tasks.
I gave some thought, and I ordered a new planner from
Amazon. It’s bigger than a personal size Filofax but smaller than an A5, and it
has a page for every day. This gives me plenty of space to write my lists, group my to-do
actions into categories if I want to, jot down ideas that pop into my head.
Since I don’t use the monthly spread for planning, I use it to track my
workouts. It’s awesome.
Finally, between the Google calendar and my new daily
planner, I have the perfect planning system for 2020. I know this because I
feel calmer when it comes to my to-do’s, and I’m getting things done without
feeling scattered or overwhelmed.
Most of the time, a shake-up can be a negative experience, but
this time it was a gift. I trusted myself enough to let go of what I’ve clung
to for years, and it’s been one of the best things I’ve done so far in 2020.
I’m curious. Do you use a physical planner? A digital
planner? Or, a hybrid like me?
Debra Sennefelder is the
author of the Food Blogger Mystery series and the Resale Boutique Mystery series.
She lives and writes in Connecticut. When she’s not writing, she enjoys baking,
exercising and taking long walks with her Shih-Tzu, Connie. You can keep in touch
with Debra through her website, on Facebook and Instagram.

Do You BuJo?

by Paula Gail Benson

you heard about bullet journaling or
“BuJo” as some practitioners call it? I hadn’t until I read an announcement
from Fiction Addiction
, an independent bookstore owned and operated by Jill
Hendrix in Greenville, S.C. Jill is offering a course about bullet journaling
on Thursday, February 22, at 6:00 p.m. The cost is $25, which is redeemable on
a purchase of supplies available that evening in the book store. If there is
sufficient interest, an afternoon course will be offered.
Advertisement for the Course Offered by Jill Hendrix
the advertisement, I could see that bullet journaling could be used for keeping
a calendar or agenda. I wondered, why offer this course in February instead of
at the beginning of the year?
I began reading about the subject. At http://bulletjournal.com/,
I learned that bullet journaling was described as “the analog system for the
digital age.” It was developed by Ryder Carroll, a “digital product designer
living in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Mr. Carroll has trademarked the names “Bullet Journal”
and its abbreviated form “BuJo.” Rachel Wilkerson Miller, a writer, editor, and
blogger, also based in Brooklyn, N.Y., has written several books about the
technique, which she calls “dot journaling,” maybe because practitioners are
encouraged to use notebooks with dot grids as a guide for their own creations.
Ms. Miller has been criticized in her Amazon reviews as appropriating
trademarked information that Mr. Carroll has available free online
. You can take a look at
her website at http://www.rachelwmiller.com/
and compare it with Mr. Carroll’s site to see what you think.
bullet or dot journaling is a do-it-yourself organizer that can include as much
or as little information and structure as the preparer wants. Ryder Carroll has
some great videos to explain how to get started in his online section Bullet
Journaling 101. They are simple, straight-forward, and concentrate on the
focus–how to be efficient in organizing your life. They set out the method
without complicating it with any artistry a preparer might wish to bring to the
is the method? According the Mr. Carroll, through bullet journaling you can track
the past, organize the present, and plan for the future. First, number the
pages of your journal. Second, label the first few pages as “index” so that you
can list where you’ve written certain items throughout the journal. Third,
create a future log, diving two pages into a six-month or longer organization
where you keep lists of tasks and events that must be handled. Fourth, use
two pages to make a monthly log, with a calendar on one page and a task list on
the other. Fifth, through a short hand system, you can list what you need to
accomplish. A filled in dot is for a task (which later can be “x-ed” when the task
is completed).
A star next to
a dot means the task is important.
An oval signifies an event (and can be colored in when the event is
over). Indicate notes (things you need to remember) by a dash.
Sixth, at the end of a month, set up the
next month’s log.
If you have tasks that have not been completed, consider “migrating”
them, either forward into the next month, or back into your six month
projection. Mr. Carroll uses a greater than sign > if the task goes to the next
month’s list and a less than sign < if it goes back into the six month
aspects of one’s life can be included in the bullet journal: obligations for
home, work, or school; routines or patterns such as exercise, diet, or writing;
and personal reflections, like journal entries. A cottage industry seems to
have grown up around bullet journaling, very similar to accessories for
scrapbooking. You can purchase books, pens, and stencils to help you create a
very unique product.
In some respects, I see this as a natural off shoot of the
adult coloring books, only instead of being just relaxing, bullet journaling
combines creativity and productivity. Not to mention it encourages a
generation that grew up with computer graphics to take a chance on using those
old fashioned tools of pens, pencils, and rulers to sketch out their own
After learning about the method, I understand how it’s adaptable and can be started at any time. I’m
tempted to try it. How about you?

Getting It Together

by Linda Rodriguez
This is not really my house (thank heavens).
My husband, the world’s original
disorganized, absent-minded professor, is fond of saying, “I’m
going to get it together,” as if he’s putting the final touches on a perfectly organized life. Now, regular readers of this blog may
remember that my youngest son, who adores him, calls him “the chaos
demon.” Sometimes people who work with my husband at the university
take someone new into his office just for the shock effect. Over the
years—after many efforts to set up systems he can’t destroy and
after giving him books designed to help him understand the simplest
organizational principles (like ”throw the trash in the
trashcan—don’t just walk past it and deposit it on the kitchen
counter”) I’ve stopped trying. I try to keep a couple of areas
clear and comfortable for me, and I don’t look when I pass the
rest. I haven’t had guests to my house in years, although I had
many before he fully embedded himself in my home. (It takes a year or
two to completely undo good systems, I’ve found, even for a chaos
demon.) He’s a wonderful man, and it’s his only real fault, so I
long ago decided to live with it.

Lately, I’ve been chafing at these
circumstances, however. Probably because, unlike my husband, I work
at home and thus spend most of twenty-four hours a day in these
chaotic surroundings. I’ve grown tired of living with boxes of books
and postal bins of manuscripts stacked in the living room—he runs a
micro press from our home in his spare time when he’s not running a
university press and teaching. This morning finally sealed the deal
for me, however. My weak and shaky hands (from lupus) managed to
knock off the table between our chairs the big Columbia University
cup in which I keep things I use regularly—fountain pens,
mechanical pencils, scissors, a nail file, and knitting needles. This
meant I had to scrabble around on the floor around and under his
chair for the spilled contents of my cup.

He keeps a quilt made by my sister in
his chair to cover up with if he’s cold or just sit on if it’s hot.
This quilt often puddles on the floor around his chair, and I’ve
given up chiding him about it. So this morning, I was looking for my
fallen necessities, only to find that his quilt was hiding three
times as many items as I had spilled. Apparently, I’m not the only
one with shaky hands in this house.

My cup is back and filled with the
pens, pencils, and knitting needles that I consider necessary to
daily life, but my hard-won peace with the house mess is gone. I’m
googling home organization websites and making lists of decluttering
tasks to do over the next weeks. I’m laying in supplies of trash bags
and cardboard boxes. The chaos demon’s days are numbered.

He tells me he is going to get it all
together. I tell him that’s a meaningless phrase, that no one ever
gets it all together. He reassures me that. He. Will. Get. It. All.
Together. I tell him that, like too many men, he sees the house
situation as a war where he can win a battle and go home forever. I
tell him that life’s not like that. “It’s a case of constant
maintenance, baby,” I say. The chaos demon is stubborn, however,
and insists that he will get it together. Tomorrow. Or maybe the day
after that. After all, things are crazy right now. But he will get it
together. Later.