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
     

    Work/Life Goals: When Something’s Not Quite Right (Part Two)

    January 16th, 2015

    We’re talking goals. This is part two of a four part post about what might be wrong with your goals if you’re feeling uninspired, and what to do about it. Today is about looking backwards to move forwards.  (Here is part one if you missed it or want to read it again.)

    Look in the Rear Window  rear windowrear windowRear Window

    We all know that even with the best laid out goals, we still have our own selves to wrestle with.

    Procrastination, lack of motivation or energy around the goal, don’t know how to get started, ignore or avoid, and so on.

    The positive here is that you are also the answer.

    Car. Roadster. Wheels

    Here’s how to get to the answers.

    Think about small or large goals you have achieved, at any time of your life.

    How did you make those goals happen? In this, you’ll discover answers to today’s conundrum.

    More specific questions will light the path.

      • How did you keep the end goal in mind, visible, and in front of you as a daily intention?
      • When you felt discouraged or as if the car were sputtering and had no pickup, what did you do?
      • How many goals felt like the right amount to hold onto?
      • How often did you take a look to see how you were doing?
      • How did you keep track of progress?

    Our tendency is to see what is still left to be done, rather than how far we have come already. rear window

    Keep track of the progress on small steps. The small steps give you just enough momentum to keep at it and they show you what you have done.

     

    Looking forward to part three? 

    rear window

     

    Work/Life Goals: When Something’s Not Quite Right (Part One of Three)

    January 13th, 2015

     

    goal excitement

     

     

    You have some goals, perhaps written or held in your mind.  For your business or for your life. Yet you’re feeling uninspired for some reason and can’t seem to get moving.

    What might be wrong and what can you do about it? Part one of a three part blog  issues today; you’ll have time in between the posts to look at your goals and find your answers.

     

    What’s it all about, Alfie?

    Sometimes, the goal is clear and measurable, but it’s not enough to get you moving.

    What is the point of achieving each goal? What will it mean, to your life?

    • Even for a business goal, what will achieving it mean to your life?
    • At the end of each goal, add the phrase “so that…” Articulating why success matters, and seeing this reminder will engage your mind.  Example: Saving money: for what, exactly? It’s not “saving” that will keep you motivated; it’s what “saving” means to your life, what you will do with that money.
    • If your goal is too far out in the future, for example, saving for college for children, you’re going to need to find a way to bring the goal into the present. A time too far into the future doesn’t do much for our motivation, so says the research. So how could you break up your goal into something tangible for the short term?

    Does each goal feel achievable, and with enough of a stretch where you want one?

    • Sometimes, there isn’t enough stretch to inspire and motivate. Other times, the stretch is too high and the goal does not feel doable. Examine this. What would make you feel proud?

    Notice how how you react to each goal, as you read it aloud.

    • If you’re not feeling the energy on a goal, what is missing ? Is there an obligatory “should” in there? Is this a goal someone else suggested? Is it something you’ve tried doing before (and haven’t succeeded at), so you want to give it another try? How about trying differently this time? Reword the goal so it fits you better.
    • Find the spark, because without energy around the goal, you’ll have a tough time getting started. And you’ll have difficulty following through. Imagine how that feels, if you were to move through the year, kind of knowing at the outset that you won’t make this goal. Catch the energy, now.

     

    Feeling Clueless

    Do you know how you’ll get started? What is the smallest step?

     

    Staircase

    • Even smaller than the one you are thinking of right now.  A small win, with an easy first step gives you momentum to keep going. And taking a step will usually add to your clarity around what you really want, too.
    • Write out (or mindmap) what you know so far about how to get this goal done. Sometimes, the answers are right there, but there’s so much in your head, you don’t see everything.
    • You may not be able to write out every step to get that goal done. You may need to write out a few, get those done, and see where the path leads to next.
    • That’s fine, so long as you regularly create the time to review where you are, and where to head next.
    • Or take the big picture view. Create a rough outline of the chunks, phases, or stages. For some people, knowing the big picture first is what creates engagement around the goal.

    Tools:

    • Brainstorm with someone else if it helps to talk it through.
    • Or use your whiteboard, your post-it notes, Trello or other software app.
    • My favorite for brainstorming (with myself!)  is SimpleMind. When the steps are organized and out of my head, I often use Trello to keep myself on track and easily see what my next step is. I also have a reminder in my daily to do list to check on projects, and include a link to the Trello plan. One less obstacle and a faster, distraction-free path.

     

    Goals matter, not only because we get things done.  Not only because they help us live the one life we have in ways we want.

    • They give us energy for our days and purpose for our life. We are excited about working on our goals or focusing on our intentions.
    • Goals show us what we are capable of, which is sometimes different from our self-perception.
    • We add richness to our work or personal lives.
    • Goals teach us about how we get things done best.
    • And goals also show others our standards and our values. We are a role model, whether we see people watching us or not.

     

    How rich is your life, personal and business?  How could you make it be more of what you want?

     

    Signature

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    7 Questions to Revisit this Holiday Season

    January 4th, 2015

    How has your holiday season been this year? Anything you would have liked more of? Less? I’ve created a set of questions to give you perspective on this season so that you’ll know what you’d like to repeat or do differently next year.

    Holidays are partly about organizing the practicalities…. and partly about the emotions, dynamics and communications. So you’ll notice the questions are a mixture of both. Start from either side of the equation but try to deal with both.

    reflections

    (c) Sue West photo

    Once you’ve answered the questions that make sense for your life, make sure to write down a few notes for yourself; save them on your calendar, or wherever you keep holiday things.

    Perspectives on this year

    A special memory

    • What was your most special memory about this year? What made it so special? How could you have this again next year? Was it the numbers of people involved or who they were? Was it the experience or the place? What you spent?  Your attitude? Visualize and revisit this, so get specific.

    Your time

    • How did your schedule feel? Answer with a scale of 1-10 or a metaphor (whirlwind, calm seas, etc.). Either approach will give you perspective. What made your schedule feel this way?  And for next year, what would you like to do differently? What would that mean to you if you could do things differently?

    Wanting more of/less of

    • What have you had enough of? What do you need more of, to make it your best season? Who do you speak with to make this happen? If you were not concerned about the reaction you’ll get, what would you say to start the conversation?

    Simplifying

    • How could you simplify? Some families share group experiences, or give gift cards when kids reach a particular age, or buy bigger gifts together instead of shopping for multiple gifts. Or travel: how could you organize it differently or spread it out over a longer period of time? Not send out cards, limit recipients, or send out in January? What else could you simplify? Not get rid of, but whittle down, so you have the essence of what is important, just not as much.

    Seth Godin on "stuff"

    No time for

    • What did you have no time for this holiday season? How could you have at least a little bit of that next year? Or is there something else you could drop to make room for this?

    Ask for what you need

    • Did you ask for assistance in getting everything done? If not, what would have made it easier to ask? Do you need to drop things from your list because there is simply too much to manage?

    Difficult people

    • Who was the toughest person you had to deal with this holiday season? Or the most difficult situation? Did you handle it the way you wanted to? If not, what would you do differently in hindsight; and how can you prevent something similar from happening next year? Is there anyone who could help you with difficult people? Someone who could help you leave the situation? Or practice ahead of time so you can respond the way you would want to?

     

    Use the answers to these questions to create next year’s holiday season.

    And you also might consider asking yourself these questions about the rest of your year.

    I want my holidays to be about meals and talking around the table, connections and community, naps, laughter and an escape from to do lists and schedules and devices. Where we put a hold on everything and just relax, sometimes together and sometimes alone. Where we enjoy the company of those we love, friends and family alike. Where we express gratitude, appreciation and thankfulness instead of noticing what we don’t have.

    Where we slow down, without any guilt for pausing, and genuinely reflect on our year, how we have changed, and on what’s important to us as we roll into the New Year.

    And that’s the key question here: what do you want?

    Reflections

    (c) Sue West

    Signature

     

     

     

     

    If you’d like support, brainstorming or accountability to make changes for next year, please email or call.

    [email protected] or 603.554.1948

    Perspectives: 6 Tips for Holiday Overwhelm

    December 19th, 2014

     

    For some calming words and practical advice you can use right away, below are 6 quick tips if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the business of this season.

    Read them right now – each is only a sentence or two – and carry them with you as you move through today. Or keep with you on your iPhone; write on a post it note to put on your car’s dashboard or on an index card in your pocket.  If you’d like to hear more detail, there’s a podcast Carol Williams and I recorded, too.

     

     

    Summary of our tips on this podcast:  

    • Make a quick bullet point list of the “top three things for today.”
    • Set reminders on your phone to check your top three at least twice during your day and that will help keep you focused.
    • Identify needs vs. wants.  “Is this thing a ‘nice to get done by Christmas?’ or is it a “need to” get done for Christmas.  What’s the worst that will happen if you don’t do the ‘nice to do’ things?
    • Simplify to reduce the overwhelm. Ask: What’s the simplest way I can do this? Excellent, but not perfect. (“Perfect:” the enemy of actually getting things done.)
    • Keep the week in front of you. Use a white board, calendar, task app on your iPhone or just white paper. Map it out and keep it visible.
    • What’s most important to you about this season? Focus there.  What would you miss the most? 
    • If Christmas were TOMORROW, what are the three things you REALLY need to make sure are done?  *Now go and do just THOSE things.*  Come back to the others in a next round, phase, chapter.

     

    For some calming words and practical advice you can use right away, we invite you to listen to our short podcast with a bit more detail … 6 minutes is what it takes.

    Just click on this link>> Ticket to Sanity – Christmas Countdown – The Week before!

     

     

    Thanks for being here with us.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

     

    p.s. If you’re in need of a sounding board to “organize your thoughts,” please call 603.554.1948 for a one hour phone consultation meeting. You’ll have a plan of attack, next steps, and gain some control over the upcoming weeks. That’s a promise. Call or write: [email protected]

     

     

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

    Links to Prior Podcasts

    *If you’d prefer to read, click the “Holidays” category in the list to the right>>>

    CHUG thru your holidays

    Breaking down the end of your year … 6 tips for the holidays.

    Breaking Down Our Year – Small Business Owner Advice 

    Breaking down the end of the year: Lists – Made more fun as a way to clear the fog!

    Back to school transitions -tips for parents on scheduling life

    Advice for Kids – Habits for School Routines

    True student and family success

     

    Routine Support: Healthy Routines with Dr. Mark Bertin, CHADD Speaker

    December 2nd, 2014

    ADHD: a Matter of Routine — Some great ideas and suggestions from Mark Bertin, a pediatrics doctor, who spoke at the CHADD conference recently.  CHADD conf sign hallway

    His website: http://www.developmentaldoctor.com/online/

    His session description: ADHD  - A Matter of Routine

     

    I’ve written two other articles about learnings at CHADD: one about Executive Function (search engine or orchestra conductor of the brain) and instilling habits. You can read both of them starting here.

     

    ADHD gets in the way of managing habits. When you consider that ADHD is an issue with organizing, working memory, prioritizing, and motivation … this makes perfect sense. “I know what to do; I just can’t get myself to do it.”

    Dr. Bertin’s session was about “Healthy Routines” and his list includes something new: nutrition, sleep, exercise and …. media and technology!

     

    Technology checking  tires the brain. He made the point that the constant checking of email, then Facebook, then your flight app or groceries or to do app … all this switching gears literally tires the brain. Hmm. Makes sense. I hadn’t thought of this, except I have noticed that when I shut off technology, I seem calmer.

    But then if you ignore the pings of texts and emails, what happens?  Stress increases as you stop yourself from checking!

    And if you ADHD, this is all much more a significant an issue. So protecting the work and health of your brain is part of self-care.

    Possible solution? Change the email settings so that your device/pc checks less frequently, and not constantly, real-time. Great idea. What email can’t go a bit longer until you see it and act on it? Setting-Goals-Tony-Robbins-Quote-success

    Other points: Kids have to be taught what “healthy” looks like for technology use: what, when is it okay to be on technology, how long is allowed each day.

     

    ADHD also gets in the way especially with morning routines. If your ADHD medications are what allow you to focus, stay on track, remember the steps to your morning routine … then your ADHD is going  to get in the way.

    Possible solutions? Post your routine checklist everywhere you show up in the morning, no matter the age of the child or adult. Use smaller steps to the routine. Take medications sooner than later (Check with your practitioner on this.) think about the morning routine as “mini routines” within the larger routine.

    Arguably, depending on when your medications are taken, evening may also be difficult, plus just getting through your days can be tiring to your brain, keeping it altogether. So experiment with how much you accomplish in the morning versus evening, the types of tasks, how you can prepare earlier for whichever is more difficult for you … and use those checklists to make it easier. You may find that checklists are important at startup of a habit, and if you have a lot of stress in life. But then not in between. Or  you might like the comfort of having the list all the time to be sure. ~sfw comments.

    If you are an adult with ADHD and parenting a child with ADHD, he warns that you’ll need to think at two different levels of ADHD management: your  own brain fatigue/energy limits and your child’s.  You’ll also need to observe yourself, to know when you’re getting “hooked” by a discussion emotionally: And then, you’ll: Pause. Breathe. Return to the conversation.

     

    Where to start if you’re trying to work on several habits

    1. Stop. What’s the most disruptive routine? That’s your primary focus and goal.
    2. Create the routine.
    3. Write it down. (I’d say  mindmap it or draw it out, if that’s your method to brainstorm.~sfw)

      Mindmap – SimpleMind+ website

    4. Post it where you can see it. Helps with working memory. Helps to sustain the habit. Helps to keep track of it in the moment. And helps you understand how much time is passing and how much work there is to this routine.~sfw

     

    Homework

    The national guideline is 10 minutes per grade. Homework can be part of an  IEP plan.

    What parents can do at home is decide on the routines:

    • When IS homework time?
    • Where will you choose to work on homework.
    • Create a list of exactly the steps to accomplish the homework.
    • When are the breaks.
    • Break up homework into mini sessions (use your timer).

     

    Sleep 

    I’ve often written about sleep, so I’ll list the new points:

    Consistency is key – when you go to bed and what time you wake up. The more inconsistent you are playing with the  times, the more difficult it will be for your body to understand what it is supposed to do.

    Start 45 minutes before you have signs of tiredness on your wind down routine.

    Learn to settle yourself. Mindfulness works beautifully.

     

    Overall, another excellent speaker who shared some new ideas with us at CHADD. Check out his HuffPost blog articles - much more detail awaits you, if you’re a family dealing  with ADHD.