Posted by: Annabel Ascher | July 2, 2009

Fail Fast

It takes just as much time and energy to pursue a course of action doomed to failure as it does to pursue one that will succeed. This is true whether the project at hand is in the business, the social, or the romantic arenas.
Just a gambler in Vegas must invest an equal amount of energy into a losing hand as a winning, so we invest an equal amount of time, money, and energy into a bad love affair as a wonderful marriage, into a draining friendship as a mutually supportive one, and into the bad job or business deal and the profitable. Thus, the faster we fold our hands and admit failure, the faster we will stop the flow of our resources towards failure. This does not guarantee our success, but it makes it much more likely. Nothing scares success away like being mired in an unsuccessful situation for a long period of time.
Of course this adage recognizes that this applies mostly to new associations, not ones already of long duration or that are a matter of duty. Sometimes relationships just change over time, or one party becomes less cognizant due to age or mental unbalance of some sort. These we must somehow manage. But many relationships are actually controllable, either because they are just in their beginning stages and could be ended with minimal embarrassment, or because they are entirely voluntary. These we may nip in the bud or prune out if it’s not a good fit, and no blame will attach.

Posted by: Annabel Ascher | June 8, 2009

Why Is It So Hard To Get and Stay Organized?

Year after year, getting organized is one of the top three New Year’s Resolutions all across the developed world, yet year after year the attempt to get and stay organized fails. Why is this so?
Those suffering from disorganization are no less intelligent than others. The actual process of getting organized, though somewhat tedious, is certainly not hard to master. Many of us have shelves full of books on organization that soon become just more clutter to step over.
As a professional organizer I have spent quite a bit of time pondering just this problem, and have come to some interesting conclusions.
In some cases there is an issue with undiagnosed ADD, or some psychiatric problem such as compulsive hoarding. But just as often that is not the case. I needed to look deeper to understand why those I was trying to help, people that not only had given me permission to intervene but were actually paying me to do so, were having such problems following through. In many cases these clients would call me in and then resist every attempt I made to actually assist them in getting organized. Most clients almost seemed to be sabotaging the very process they had sought out. I wanted to know why. Then I remembered something important.
Long before I became an organizer I took training as an alchemical hypnotherapist, and that is where I found the answers I was looking for. Alchemical Hypnotherapy is founded on the works of Carl Jung and is based on a system of archetypes. Alchemical hypnotherapists believe that we all carry these subtypes in our subconscious minds as sub-personalities. To test this theory, just imagine yourself at a restaurant trying to decide whether to have the grilled brie sandwich or the green salad with dressing on the side. Imagine the dialog in your head as your inner voices argue over what to eat. There may be an inner judge warning you about weight gain and cholesterol, a princess who wants to be pampered, and maybe a rebel encouraging you to get a vodka tonic at lunch.
These inner voices are actually archetypal parts of ourselves, or sub-personalities. We can’t get rid them, but we can create an inner dialog to get all of our inner selves into alignment with our main outer personality.
This process applies to issues with organization just as is does with all the other areas of our lives. The client’s core self or ego sees what being disorganized is doing to cause harm at home, at work, and in every other realm of his or her life. But it seems impossible to make a lasting change. I have begun using a technique from alchemical hypnotherapy called conference room to have a direct dialog with the sub-personalities to see which of these personalities want to stay disorganized and to gently bring them into alignment with the greater good of the core self.
If this is done at the beginning of the organizing process lasting results are possible. Before touching one box, before going and getting yet another time management tool, I coach my clients through conference room for a lasting change.

Posted by: Annabel Ascher | May 26, 2009

Conquering the Schedule Monster

One of the hardest tasks in creating a well-ordered life is that of formulating and executing a workable schedule. A schedule is a map of how you spend your time and energy, in other words your life. One thing that makes scheduling so hard is that a schedule is an entirely personal thing. Unlike many other aspects of life each person spends his or her time slightly differently. Even those who spend almost all their time together have some slight variations. Only you have to do what you have to do. And yet, a schedule is extremely dependent on a huge set of often uncontrollable variables that have nothing to do with the maker. Things such as other people’s equally individual schedules, the schedules of institutions both public and private, weather, and traffic, to name just the main ones.
But, as hard as the external variables are to master, the internal ones are even harder. These include such things as competing priorities, values, and even internally conflicted parts of our selves (sub-personalities). The water is further muddied by the need to translate the abstract noun embodied in a particular value into and action verb. Only action verbs can truly be scheduled. Joy can’t be scheduled, but blowing bubbles on the beach with your grand-daughter can be. Compassion can’t be scheduled, but volunteering at an animal shelter can be. Core values are the things that mean the most in our lives, but if we don’t have a way to translate from abstract concepts to concrete actions they don’t make it on to the schedule.
A third issue with creating a personal schedule is the addition of mundane maintenance tasks. As important as it is to live your values is, you can’t do it if all your clothes are dirty and your car quit running due to lack of care.
A forth problem with scheduling is the problem of other people’s expectations of us. We all want to be a good parent, a good spouse, a good daughter or son, a good friend, a good colleague, a good neighbor, and a valuable community member. But without good boundaries and a good sense of our own core values, it is easy to go off the track. People pleasing and the inability to say no create an overwhelming and deeply unsatisfying personal schedule. There are very legitimate reasons to take the needs and feelings of others into your scheduling process, but if there is no room left for you, you will not be happy in the end. Remember whose life it is after all.
Each of us has a different degree of freedom regarding our schedule. If you work full time and are a single parent, most of your time is scheduled for you without ever having to consult a core values list. This is especially true after the basic life maintenance blocks are laid in. There might only be a few discretionary hours a week in a life such as that. Hopefully if you are in this situation, the job and family life were planned to fit your values to begin with.
Strangely enough though, it is those of us with the most discretionary time that have the greatest difficulties with forming a schedule. In this case all of the variables noted above come into play constantly. But, it is the internal conflict and the dialog that goes with it that causes the most trouble for those fortunate enough to have a lot of freedom.
There are several tools and techniques for dealing with scheduling problems. They are as follows:
• Be flexible. This is the only way to deal with un-controllables such as weather and traffic.
• Build some air into your schedule by padding all time estimates by at least 10 minutes, all the way up to an hour or two for things like catching a flight.
• Put your maintenance items in first. Figure out what it will take to keep your body, your house, your transportation, your money and your relationships running, and make appointments with yourself or others to get it all done.
• Now add in your core value action words.
• Use some form of scheduling system, whether it is electronic or written. If you write it down and consult your scheduling tool regularly your mind will stay clearer. Some people need both paper and an electronic system complete with alarms and reminders, while others can get by with a little pocket book and a pencil. I recommend a pencil for flexibility.
• But-don’t use a to-do list as a weapon against yourself. If you are really living your core values you will be a basically happy relaxed person. If you have a whole list of things to do that all make your stomach tight, maybe there is more inner work to do. Or, if you feel over-burdened and over-scheduled, perhaps you need to work on boundaries.
• The order recommended above is important. Maintenance comes first because it is the least discretionary. Then values, because they are the compass. This will be of great help for those with a lot of control over their own schedule.

Posted by: Annabel Ascher | April 2, 2009

Nine Tips to Get You Organized for Any Networking Event

Most businesswomen spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on networking events, and then fail to prepare sufficiently before the event or follow-up in a timely manner afterwards. The fly by the seat of your pants approach costs both money and lost opportunities. The following tips will prevent the disappointment that comes from investing time and energy and getting lackluster results. Whether you are going to a once a month breakfast or a four-day conference, follow the rules below for a less stressful more productive time.
1. Keep a briefcase with all your marketing materials stocked and ready to take to the event. That saves time and stress when you are ready to go out the door. This includes business cards, brochures, and any marketing specialty items you want to give out. Take more than you think you will need. It’s much better to carry extra weight than to come up short.
2. Remember to bring a pen. As you receive the cards from others, write anything you want to remember about them on the back of the card. This saves a lot of wondering, “who is this person and why do I have their card?” Get more detailed than you think you need to. The memory can be a poor networking tool.
3. Get some small manila envelopes and put them in your brief case. After the event put all the cards you received in an envelope and put the name and date of the event on the outside. Restock your envelope supply on a regular basis.
4. After the event, replace all of the marketing materials that were given out. Put the envelope at your workstation so you will be able to enter the cards you received onto your database and contact your new networking partners within a few days. When you are done, file the envelope in the networking section of your filing system.
5. Lay your clothes out the night before to avoid last minute surprises in the form of a stain on your blouse or a missing button. If you are going to a conference or convention lay all your clothes out before you pack. Also lay out all the gadgets and electronic devices you want to bring, and make sure they all work. Charge your cell phone, and your laptop battery. Use a checklist to make sure you have everything.
6. Go through all of your marketing materials every six months to make sure they are up to date and properly convey the current message of your company. Make sure your headshot is current, and throw away any outdated or damaged materials.
7. Take the time to plan your networking strategies and tactics. Think about which events you plan on attending and why. The reason for attending may not be a direct increase in business, but you should know what the reason is. You may just enjoy the fellowship at certain groups, while others may have current members you want to add to your network. You may attend your trade association meeting mostly to keep on top of new developments. Knowing why you want to attend is especially important when it comes to conventions and trade shows that require a large investment of time and money.
8. Don’t overlook web based networking opportunities. Create a profile in a word document and cut and paste it into the proper places for you on-line profiles. Don’t forget to update as needed.
9. Plan your time to get there early. Take five minutes before entering to ground your self. Do a short heart meditation. Park a little farther away so you can walk a bit. Then smile and enjoy the event, knowing that you have done everything possible for success.

Networking can be fun when you are relaxed and well organized. These tips will allow you to relax and put your best foot forward.

Posted by: Annabel Ascher | February 8, 2009

Welcome to Organizing from the Heart

Hello friends and clients,

This is the new blog for Creating Order. I have been doing some deep meditation about professional organizing, and have come up with a whole new process to facilitate your path towards a healthy and joyful relationship to your home, your schedule, and your life space.

Combining techniques from hypnotherapy, HeartMath™, and my own heart-centered approach to life management the new program is individually tailored to bring each client into a harmonious relationship with the physical world, starting from where she is at this moment.

In this blog I will post tips, stories, news, and updates about Creating Order and the organizing profession. I hope this will be of use to each of my readers in their daily lives. We should all be able to live our Heart’s Desire!