Susan Fay West, Certified Organizer Coach 
Life’s big changes. We all get overwhelmed sometimes.

  • You’re stuck and want to move forward but how?
  • Adult ADHD diagnosis and ... now what?
  • Want more time but you’re not sure where the problem is?
  • Tired of running in circles?
  • Change, time management, organization and transitions work is our focus.

    Build on what you already know about yourself and collaborate with me – a coach, professional organizer, teacher and change-lover.

    Discover new ways to:

  • organize your life,
  • deal with these changes and move on,
  • in ways that make sense to you and how you’re wired.
  • Curious? Click Here to Learn More about My Coaching Services.

    Organize for a Fresh Start - organizing self-help book

     
    "West has written on a topic dear to my heart, getting organized to cope with and embrace change and transitions. Organize for a Fresh Start is a great roadmap."
    Judith Kolberg, Author
    Conquering Chronic Disorganization
     

    What You Ought to Know about Care Giving

    April 10th, 2014

    At what point do we call ourselves a “care giver?” We are in it and still haven’t admitted this role. You might be caring for your spouse who has had some troubles lately, an adult child, a parent.

    As with so much of life, there is the practical side of what you are DOing and there is the emotional side or psychology of accepting what’s happening, to you and to the other person. Here are a few insider secrets to support your care giving.

    Reach out for assistance even if it’s difficult. It’ll be worth it.

    Build your village or your team. You already had a lot to do. And now, you have another person who needs your assistance physically, emotionally or perhaps with everyday life decisions and skills.

    Reach out and build a team of experts to assist you: financial, medical, daily living, bill paying. Do what you can so that the edges of your life stay in tact as much as possible.  Once  you start asking, you will be surprised at the assistance you find. The first “ask” is the hardest.

    You need to be a team manager for both of you to make this work.

    Use a planner, one list or your technology device, but use something to supplement your memory.

    During times of stress, we get brain freeze. Our memory seems less accurate, less specific. Even if you have never relied on a list or a planner or a notebook to keep track of things to do,  now is the time you need to.

    Because if you don’t, you will forget things. And then either someone’s care is diminished, or at the very least, you will feel horrible that you keep forgetting things. You’ll start talking negatively to yourself. And all of that just turns into negative, draining energy.

    What you need is self-compassion for the very  important job you are doing. And that requires self-esteem, a belief in yourself that you can do this. Because, really, you can. Even if you have never done this before.

     

    Adapt your systems to keep life, home and work organized.

    The simple truth is that you have more to do and more important responsibilities with someone else’s care, whether it’s short term or long term, temporary or significant issues.

    That means that if you used to have a precise, detailed, organized system to handle bill paying for example, now you’re going to have to downsize your expectations and your system. Something’s got to get simpler.

    You need more time to do what’s important. So spending less time on being well organized, but “organized enough” is the way this will work.

    What could you do to simplify the major household systems you have? Who could help you or help you reorganize or learn different ways to handle your systems?

     

    Listen differently, more deeply and with patience.

    This is the most difficult, I think. You’ll be less stressed if you listen with new ears, not the same ones you’ve used in the past.

    These ears need to listen more carefully to what is not said,  to what is said many times over, and to what is truly being articulated, not what you believe is being said.

    This is not a judgment; this is acknowledging how difficult and frustrating it is to carry this responsibility.

    To have so much to do that you forget to listen as carefully as you know how. To have so much to think about that you don’t see how you could slow down to really hear, but hear differently.

    Don’t try harder; try differently.

    Don’t assume you have to do everything. Involve the one you are caring for… just differently from what you are used to.

    One of the topics I’ve worked on with clients who are in a caregiving role is in building their team and knowing when to let go of control. Another one is to “try differently.”

    Your parent/spouse/child may not be able  to do exactly what he or she used to be able to do. It is very easy to slide into picking up the things he used  to do.

    What does that really do for both of you though? Ultimately, you may resent having to do EVERYTHING. And he may resent that he does not feel very useful and that you’ve taken on his burdens.

    Or she may be dealing with so much of her own “stuff” and acceptance of what is happening to her that it is difficult to summon up the energy to handle her regular chores. But don’t  take them all on.

    Think differently and you’ll end up happier with each other.

    • What small part CAN she do of those chores? What could she do that you used to do?
    • Make the part as small as it needs to be,  to garner a success for both of you.
    • Ask opinions; that may be the most important thing you could do. Involve the person.
    • What have been your strengths and his or hers, traditionally? Can you find something to do which fits his or her strengths?

     

    A therapist once told me: There is caring  for and caring about.

    The former takes away equality in the relationship. The latter keeps it. Which combination of these two makes sense for you these days?

     

     

     

     

    p.s. This site has particularly helpful articles. The Caregiver Space

     

    Splintered Time? Try This Exercise.

    April 6th, 2014

    Splintered. Fractions. Dangling threads. “Shiny object syndrome.” Bits and pieces.

    That’s how the days feel sometimes.

    The things on our “to do” lists seem to float, not having anything to anchor them. Tasks floating on paper or on an iphone, just scrolling or floating out in air, somewhere.

    Not anywhere we can DO something about them though!

    The threads need to get sewn together. The puzzle pieces need to get put  together. The bits and pieces need glue.

    The chores at home need a purpose. The things you’re doing for your children or parents need to get done so you can spend time on the “thing” that really gets your creativity going and your joy quotient up higher.  The tasks at work or in your business need a richer context, relating to why you have chosen to do the work you do.

     

    “Engaging in meaningful activities and relationships takes no more time than engaging in meaningless ones. Putting our dreams at center stage is the only way we’re going to see them come true.”

    Barbara Winter, “Winning Ways” newsletter.

    It all needs to make more sense. When it does, we know why we spend our time the way we do.

    We have more passion and energy. We live with purpose, and make as much of each day as we can.

     

    Make sure it makes sense to YOU.

    When I don’t understand what someone is explaining to me, I’ll  say: “Hold on. I need a context. I’m a context learner. What’s the point here? What’s the big picture?”

    I need to know what the tapestry is going to end up looking like before I can sew in the threads. Without it, sometimes I don’t understand the meaning of what I’m hearing – in class, in a meeting, and sometimes, with a client.

    So, in this busy, splintered world, I’ll often ask questions to pull back and gain perspective. And then things either fit, are worth continuing to explore,  or they clearly don’t fit on this path and need to be sidelined.

    Exercise: your questions to answer.

    All of this is to say that if you find yourself lost, not knowing where to start or head next, maybe you need to work on your context.

    • What are you doing this task/chore/activity FOR? Why is it important? What’s the point, benefit, path you’re on and  why does it matter to your life?

    Because it seems to me that we lose this purpose as we splinter our time and attention. That’s what I need to do sometimes: sew the threads back together, reglue the pieces, and create my life’s picture again at least for this chapter. Return to the reason you started doing this thing you’re doing.

    And then, I’ll take quiet time to answer these questions, to pull back and look at everything I’m doing.

    • What fits, does not fit, or could fit but with some conditions around it? This could work for me if …
    • What do I let go of because the purpose/context is no longer important, like it once was?
    • What am I missing in my time? What do I want more of?

     

    I want to credit my inspiration for writing this post, Linda Samuels’ interview of Todd Henry, author of “Die Empty.” They talk about creativity, patterns, contextualizing and more gems. That interview is here. And look for my own comment and perspective below the article.

     

     

     

     

     

    Have you seen my newsletter yet? The current issue is about “The Village You Choose.” Strategies for people in your life or business can serve as “life preservers”  for what’s important to you.

    And you can sign up here. One article, classes update, and inspiration – every 4-6 weeks.

    Perspective Podcasts: What do you want from your days?

    March 5th, 2014

    Feeling the push and pull of life ? Starting to feel like a piece of paper stuck in the back of the file cabinet? Maybe the light comes in every once in awhile, but otherwise, phew, how trapped is this feeling?  How do you put yourself back where you belong? Out front and center in the daylight.

                                                                                              (C) Sue West photo

    We are back – Carol Williams of EpS, Efficient Productivity Systems and  Sue West, AD/HD and life management coach. You can listen here: >>>   What do you want ?           … or read it below.

    All our podcasts are 5-8 minutes maximum, and we keep them this length so that you get some practical strategies to put into use right away. Sometimes, we give you questions to think about, and always, we offer examples.

    Barbara Sher said, “I could do anything if I just knew what it was.” And that is the title of one of her wonderfully written books. So do you know what it is you would want to do? That’s the first step, isn’t?  So, the question (or questions) is, then, What do you WANT more of? Taking a step back, we have arrived at the WANT in the W+W+W+H = Woo Hoo! process.

    We’ve talked about What gets in your way, Why you want to design your days differently, and now we are hitting WANT. What do you Want from your days?

    By focusing on what you WANT, it becomes easier to eliminate what you do NOT want.

    Here’s the first example. Perhaps you WANT more time. This is a common reason people come to Design Your Days. Well, we all KNOW that there are only 24 hours in every day, period. So how can we “make” more time? We can’t. We can, however, choose what we do with each precious minute in a very conscious manner.

    One of my clients wants more time so that she “feels less rushed and more balanced.” One first step in determining how to help her choose her activities in “making more time” is to take an inventory. What is she spending her time on now? Are those activities adding to her goals and/or life satisfaction, or are they draining it? You, the listener, can do this. Try this exercise with every activity you begin for one week. Ask, will this energize me or drain me?

    ELIMINATING activities that are low value yields much time, if time is what you want MORE of.

    Here’s our second example:

    “I want to spend more time on my business, because ultimately, my goal is to leave my imprint or my legacy in the business I have built, not just to sell it to a future owner, but because of the skills and leadership I’ve taught people who have worked with me. These live on after us.”

    And I also might hear from the same person: “I want more time with my grown children or with my grandchildren.”  And “I want a less cluttered office space. The clutter holds me back from beginning my next chapter.”

    So here, you might look at a typical week’s calendar and list of what you did, and guesstimate how much time you spent:

    • working on the business versus in it;

    • playing or relaxing with adult children and/or grandchildren;

    • on dealing with clutter (lost items, doing things twice).

    So your first question to answer is: How does this time picture feel to you: is it enough, too much or just right for each of these important areas you’ve identified?

    You’ll need this to know where you are now, to know how much and where you need to shift your time. Without a starting point, how will you know you’ve arrived? Succeeded? You’re getting  what you wanted?

                           (C) Sue West photo

    Second question: What might be a “good enough” number of hours for the week or  the month, to play in each of these areas?

    How much is “enough time” for you to feel that you’re getting closer to your goal? Remember that goals begin with smaller steps.

     

    Follow these suggestions, and you’re one step closer to redesigning your days and your time for what you want.

     

    ****************************************************************************

    If these examples and suggestions struck a chord with you, we know you’ll get lots of benefit out of our Design Your Days workshop.

    Our next public workshop is coming right up- on Tuesday March 18 at 9 am at the Academy of Design and Decorating in Peterborough, NH. Register or read more details about whether this is the right for you, by going to our workshop link here.

    Or you can check our FB page, Design Your Days, which will point you in the right direction.

    In the next podcast we dig deeper into the WANT question. What do you want more of, or less of? Be sure to listen ! We will continue to move through the Design Your Days process. At the end of about 12 podcasts, you will look back and find that we’ve provided an excellent overview of our process. For our other podcasts, you need only see the blog category to the right titled “Design Your Days: A New Perspective ( Podcasts).”

    Perspectives Podcasts: The Big “Why”

    February 12th, 2014

    People call or write and will say something like “Can you help me organize my life?” And on the way to tackling the physical stuff, such as our Things and our commitments on our calendars, we usually end up in another discussion.

    We often end up discussing, as several clients have said, “How to fit ten pounds of potatoes into a five pound bag…”  and then whether the bag needs to get larger, or do we need to drop a few pounds of potatoes so that five pounds fits nicely into the five pound bag.

    Before you can make these life changing choices, you will need to know how you’re going to make that decision. What are your criteria, emotions or instincts?

    Because otherwise, will it be the right decision? Will you live with it comfortably? In a book I’m reading now, Decisive,  the process we use to decide is what builds confidence and comfort in our decisions, not the actual decision.

    This podcast is about “the big why.”

    Why do you want or need to redesign your days?What’s different about our question?

    It’s that we don’t stop with the first level of answer. We ask you to go deeper. The podcast gives you two examples of this two level approach.

    The reason the deeper level is important? Because you’ll feel it with your entire being. You’ll draw on that when you need inspiration and motivation when times get difficult. When you just don’t feel like it. When you start procrastinating. When you can’t remember why you started down this path anyway!

    You can listen here …

    Our podcasts are typically 6-8 minutes.

    2.4.2014 Recording

     

     

    Workshop: Early bird registration ends February 21, 2014. If these examples and this podcast have struck a chord with you, we know you’ll get benefit from our Design Your Days workshop.

    Our next public workshop is coming right up- on Tuesday March 18 at 9 am at the Academy of Design and Decorating in Peterborough, NH.

     

    And in the next podcast we will move to the WANT question. What do you want more of, or less of? Be sure to listen and see how to get both of these!  We will continue to move through the Design Your Days process. At the end of about 12 podcasts, you will look back and we believe you’ll find that we’ve provided an excellent overview of our framework. Hope you do, too!

    Find us on Facebook as Design Your Days.

     

    Thanks! The Design Your Days duo:

    Sue West www.OrganizeForAFreshStart.com

    Carol Williams http://www.efficientproductivity.com/

     

    If you found our advice valuable, please consider sharing our podcast or blog with colleagues and friends.

     

    What do you want to “be” in your next act of life? Where do you start?

    February 7th, 2014

    Choosing your path is often overwhelming, isn’t it?  And especially if you’re dealing with a life changing event.  Something big has happened – a change in career, a significant health or mental health diagnosis, the ending of a relationship, someone you were caring for has died.

    Now, you’re supposed to “choose,” as in choose your next “path.”  Sounds difficult, big and overwhelming. And so you get stuck. But you know intuitively that you want to move on.

    What’s around the next curve?

    So how do you choose a path?  You don’t. Not yet.  

    You choose, with the best of your abilities at the time, a step.  Just one.

    Getting yourself to the point of making a move, of getting unstuck, of taking that first step might sound so difficult, right now.

    You want to move ahead, but  …

    How do we engage our brains and emotions to take that first step? We go with your strengths.  And answer the question: What’s one tiny step I could take to move me forward?”  Keep making the step smaller until you say “Oh, that’s easy. I can do that.”

     

    Practical suggestions getting started.

    Are you a highly verbal person?   Love to talk? Enjoy language, books, socializing? Use that strength. Talk with friends, talk to yourself, a voice recorder, write in  your journal or gain insights with a coach; talk it through, getting your thoughts out of your head. Clarity comes for the verbal person when she lets the thoughts out in the air and out of her head.

    Highly visual? Draw it out. Map it out. Use a whiteboard. Create a Post-it note with one small step on each note.  What do you see as a next step? What’s the picture of where you want to get to? What do the steps in between here and there look like?

    Kinesthetics enjoy movement and speak with words that reflect energy.  Where do you feel the most energy? What next step would stoke the fires? Rev up the car? Cause you to do dance with great energy? Move you along the path most easily and fluidly?

    Cognitive strength? Do you typically read about something before starting a new project? You’re going to want to do some research for your first step: read a book by someone who has been through this before, or a blog, or website first.  After some amount of research, you’ll want to ask yourself: What one next piece of information would move you forward? What do you need to know first? Just to take the next step. And then what else and what else?

    Highly intuitive? You may need to grab some quiet time to think and reflect. It’ll come to you but you may not be able to rush it. You’ll know it when you see it, that next step. Try on different ideas of next steps or visions of your next path and see what resonates.

     

    We all have a mixture of strengths and ways we process what’s going on around us. Use your natural strengths to get yourself unstuck so that you can take a step which gets you closer to your new path and your new chapter.

    All of this makes choosing a path easier –not effortless – but easier, one step at a time. Each step helps to draw down the overwhelm and get it back into perspective.

    And after this time of change you’ve been going through, isn’t it about time something got a little easier and clearer?

     

     Resources:

    My class – At a Crossroads in Life: What’s Your Next Chapter?  is going to start at the end of February. Host: North Shore Community College, Beverly, Massachusetts.

    You’re wondering: What’s next? Take some focused time to move forward. Changes in life often cause us to look at our purpose and life’s meaning a bit differently. You may be recently widowed or divorced, considering semi-or full retirement, have adult children moving back home, a business change, or a medical issue. We will cover: Where to start, how to choose a goal among many, working out steps, identifying obstacles you may put in your own way and some solutions, and then following through to make it happen. A $20 fee for required workbook is payable to instructor at first class.

    Info/link: http://bit.ly/crossroadsspring    Student survey marks: 4.55/5 with 5 as the highest mark available.    “Instructor was compassionate, knowledgeable and encouraged participants to actively speak up and express themselves. Extremely helpful in planning future goals.

    Processing Modalities Guide: Identify and Use Specific Strengths for Better Functioning … for Organizers, Coaches – and Those Who Want to Live with More Ease and Effectiveness – and Less Frustration, 2010. Denslow Brown. Organizer Coach. Approximately 100 pages. $20.00 (plus shipping and handling)

    Character Strengths Profile: The VIA Institute on Character proudly offers the free VIA Survey and VIA Youth Survey, scientifically-validated strength assessments for adults and youth. These assessments help you identify what is best in you.  Detailed reports are available to provide information and strategies on how to use your strengths at work, at school and in relationships.