June 24, 2011

A New Perspective

Does ‘getting organized’ always seem to be on your to-do list?  Do you often find yourself saying “I really 'should' get rid of some stuff”, but then fail to follow up?  Telling ourselves we should do something rarely motivates us to actually take action. Instead, we 'should' ourselves into a guilt-ridden state and then avoid beginning anything!   What if, instead of feeling guilty about our failure to create change, we stopped and looked at the problem from a different perspective?

Try this exercise: Sit down in a comfortable chair and close your eyes.  Mentally walk through your home or office, examining each room and its contents carefully. Once you are finished the mental tour of your space, begin to watch, in your minds eye, all of your possessions floating out of the room and onto the front lawn.  Sit in the centre of each empty room and look around.  Enjoy the empty space. How does it feel?  Ask yourself “What would I do with this space if it could be set up any way I wanted?” 

Imagine your space in terms of the activities you would do in that room.  For example, perhaps you would like to read, do crafts or meditate. If these are things you enjoy, where would you make space to do these activities? How would your space look if it were exactly as you wanted it.  Envision each room in your mind’s eye with as much detail as possible.

Now, look at all the items you placed on your lawn.  Do these items fit with the mental picture of your space?  Go through and choose items that are meaningful or useful and imagine bringing those items back into your space.  Begin with the most meaningful items:  possessions that represent who you are as a person or family—the things you would grab if your house were on fire.  Next choose just those things that you use and love — item by item.  Imagine where you would place each item and how your new space would look and feel when it was organized this way.  What would your space say to you (and about you) every day?

Lining up your possessions with your personal or business priorities will enable you to let go of the things that are no longer meaningful, relevant or useful.  Envisioning the emotional and physical benefits of choosing rather than simply collecting possessions will move you towards creating the life you’ve always wanted.

If you have been feeling discouraged or overwhelmed at the prospect of organizing your space, try focusing on what truly matters and let go of the rest. An environment that truly reflects who you are now and who you will become, will inspire you.

This month, why not try this perspective and see what wonderful simplicity can be created in your life.

April 19, 2011

Turn your Trash into Treasures

I recently came acros a new website called SwapSity. SwapSity is a consumer bartering community that helps eco-friendly and budget-conscious Canadians go green through barter. The site facilitates online exchanges of items and skills between members. Virtually everything imaginable can be bartered on SwapSity, giving useful things a new lease on life instead of sending them to landfills. Beyond swapping stuff, they also encourage skills-swapping. It’s a great way to share your skills without the need for money exchange.

“Instead of sending perfectly good items to landfills, trade them and let someone else enjoy your castoffs,” said SwapSity founder Marta Nowinska. “Online swapping of unwanted possessions, free time or talents is a perfect solution for cost conscious Canadian consumers seeking a more affordable way to acquire goods and services during these trying times”.

This Earth Day, why not consider hosting your own swap event? Get a group of friends together to share items such as clothing, household goods, books, artwork, etc. It is a fun eco-friendly activity where everyone benefits by reusing items instead of buying brand new stuff!

February 23, 2011

It's Tax Time Again...Where Are Your Receipts?

When it comes to handling receipts, it is important to have a plan in place ahead of time to ensure you can find them when you need to!  Start by following the steps below to create a receipt filing system that will save you time, money and ease your frustration at tax time:

Step One:
The first step is to implement a system for your wallet, purse or vehicle - wherever receipts collect. The key to being able to find important receipts when you need them is to put them in the same place every time - both when you receive them and when you get home. Don't stuff them in your pants pocket or let clerks put them in the bags, and don't let them linger in your wallet or purse.

Step Two:
The next step is to (daily or weekly) empty your receipts into an appropriate file folder or container: one for short-term receipts, one for taxes and one for warranty items, reimbursements or rebates. Separate short-term receipts (like ATM slips and grocery receipts that only need to be kept 1-3 months) from long-term receipts (such as tax-related receipts or sales slips for major purchases). Some folks will have a third category: receipts that they need for reimbursement or rebates. If you're an employee who regularly travels or entertains clients, you'll want to include this category so you can get paid back for your expenditures.

Step Three:
At the end of each month, check your short-term receipts against any bank or credit card statements. If they are not tax related and you've satisfactorily used the item and checked that it has no warranty, the receipt can then be tossed.

Step Four:
At the end of the year, gather all your tax related receipts for the year and attach them to your tax return. Once your taxes are complete you can file the receipts away and start fresh again with empty folders for the new year.

Toss Every Month:
  • ATM And bank-deposit slips - after you've recorded the amounts in your check register and checked it against your monthly bank statement.
  • Grocery receipts - check first to make sure the item appears correctly on your monthly bank or credit card statement.
  • Sales receipts for minor purchases or any receipts for items that cannot be returned or claimed on your taxes - after you've satisfactorily used the item and checked that it has no warranty, the receipt can be tossed.
Toss After One Year:
  • Monthly bank and credit-card statements - if you don't itemize deductions to claim on your taxes.
  • Monthly or quarterly brokerage and mutual-fund statements - after you've reconciled them with your year-end summary.
  • Monthly mortgage statements - as long as your year-end statement clearly shows the total amount you've paid in interest and property taxes over the course of the year.
  • Phone and utility bills - as long as you don't have a home office, use your phone for business calls, or anticipate any need to prove long-term residency.
  • Paycheck stubs - after you've reconciled them with your annual T-4 slip.
Retain for Seven Years:
  • Annual Tax Returns and Receipts, if you deduct any portion for personal or business expenses.
  • Canceled checks and receipts/statements for annual mortgage interest and property taxes, deductible business expenses, child-care bills, out-of-pocket medical costs, or any other tax-deductible expense.
  • Your Tax Assessment Forms from Revenue Canada or tax summaries from financial-services companies.
Keep Indefinitely:
  • Property Tax Forms keep until you sell your home.
  • Home Improvement Receipts keep for as long as you own the home.
  • Investment Confirmation Slips that list the purchase price of any investments you own.
  • Insurance Papers keep for the length of your insurance policy.
  • Legal Papers or any receipts related to a legal dispute. Keep until issue is settled.
  • Receipts for Major Purchases or any item whose replacement cost exceeds the deductible on your homeowners' or renters' insurance policy.

January 25, 2011

Resolutions don't work, because resolve isn't enough - by Rhonda Victoor

I often come across great articles that I just have to share! This one was written by my friend Rhonda Victoor. You can read more on her blog at www.rhondavictoor.com/blog/

I don’t have a crash story of my own. I’ve never died for a few minutes on a hospital table. I’ve never passed out at my desk with pure exhaustion from burnout.

No. My story is less dramatic. My big moment of realization came 5 weeks ago when I took a nap.

You see I'd been trying to set my New Year’s goals. I had resolve but no energy. So I took a nap. It didn't help - it only made me realize how utterly exhausted I really was. And I decided that needed to change. I needed to create a ritual for my energy.

Where is your energy at? Really? Close your eyes for the next 5 seconds and sink into it.

After more than a decade of coaching people in the rituals of high performance I’ve learned something about how they achieve great things year after year. They don’t manage their time. They manage their energy.

They don’t set resolutions. Because resolve isn’t enough. They set rituals.

A ritual is not a resolution. It’s not a habit. It’s more than that. It’s so engrained that you don’t even need to think about it, thus reserving energy for greater things.

According to Schwartz and Loehr, authors of The Power of Full Engagement, the prime example of a ritual is brushing my teeth: I do it absolutely every day, right after I eat my oatmeal and right before bed. I’ve never started the day wondering, “Will I brush my teeth today? Will there be time?” It’s an absolute, so I need not waste mental energy asking those questions: it’s a ritual.

But I have asked each of those questions about resolutions. About exercise. About working ON my business not in it. About being fully present at work or at home. For those things I’ve had resolve, but no absolute ritual.

So today we’re going to create an energy ritual. Next month we’ll explore focus rituals. Then visionary rituals and relationship rituals. These are my 4 rituals of high performance. They will cause you to stop trying…and start doing the things that make you wildly effective and deeply satisfied [that’s what high performance is really all about].

If this is going to work you need to critically think about when and where this ritual will fit your life BEFORE committing to it. Ask yourself:

- What makes my energy crash and burn? What ritual could curb that?
- What makes my energy surge? What ritual could inject more of that?
- What do I moan about missing in my life that used to energize me? What ritual could bring that back into present-day life (considering my new commitments)?

Now commit to just ONE new ritual that will be as absolute as brushing your teeth. And tell someone about it: up the accountability.

Rhonda is leading a series of mastermind groups starting this month. If you’ve always thought you’d like to be coached, but can’t afford the 1-on-1 model of coaching, this is perfect for you! Contact Rhonda by e-mail at info@RhondaVictoor.com or phone 250.712.0085.

December 23, 2010

Christmas Spirit

This story was written by a friend of mine, Terri Knox, who is an amazing speaker and writer. She shared the story in her newsletter and I just had to repost it here as well.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

I was on a mission! I went to Wal-Mart and headed directly for the Christmas aisle. A lovely gentleman who works in that department walked up to me and I said, “I need a house for baby Jesus.” He smiled and replied, “Do you mean a nativity stable?” I responded, “Yes!” He then asked me if I’d like it made of wood with cedar shingles and I responded with an enthusiastic “Yes that would be terrific!” I had no idea this would be so easy as I’d been on the hunt for such an item for a long time. He asked me what dimensions I wanted and I felt like I was requesting a personal order. My surprise came when George told me that he’d have it ready for me in three days as he was going to build it himself!

Most people know I’m passionate about service. Super exceeding clients or customers expectations is not an option. George demonstrated exceptional service! He had no idea that I deliver seminars and keynotes on such a topic. All he wanted to do was make my day! I gave him my contact number and he called to ask if I wanted him to build a cradle for baby Jesus.

Now you might be thinking…would Wal-Mart allow him to do such an extravagant thing? Yes, in fact his manager was more than impressed! Three days later I got the call to pick up my stable which he had in a cabinet at the store. Another wonderful surprise was he had no expectations of me paying him for this! Once I gave George the money I believed was a fair price (plus a little more) he was delighted and more than gracious.

How can we make a difference by delivering superior service to others? Just thinking of a way to do this is motivation in itself. You don’t have to do a George but the smallest act can make the biggest difference. It doesn’t have to be Christmas in order to be gracious as giving always feels better than receiving.