Living By Design


{Photo: Cezign}

“If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.”  Greg McKeown

I’m re-reading Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown because I love the message - everything is a choice - but there’s a lot to take in…


If you’re overwhelmed, feeling guilty about saying no, or missing clarity of purpose – this is your book.

“Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done.”

It’s about making the wisest use of your time and energy, so you can function at “your highest point of contribution.” It is a simple idea, but difficult to practice.

In order to focus on what is important, it means saying no to what is not important – because like McKeown says, “so much of excellence, of course, is the art of elimination.”

Read here for more ideas about when to say “No” and when to say “Yes” for a more productive work day!


Holding On To Summer

Last week wrapped up summer for us. We had our last beach days and a successful back to school drop-off.  It was a whirlwind ten days – visits in 3 states, over two thousand driving miles, and fun with friends and family.


{Photo credit: Kim Olson – California Beach}

I always feel a little more focused and inspired when September rolls around, and I look forward to making significant progress in the things that matter, while building momentum for an exciting and productive start to the new year.

There are so many ways to get inspired and re-energized.  My goal with clients is to automate as many of their tasks as possible to help maximize creativity and efficiency.

Visual cues are one of my favorite ways to stay focused and motivated. Surrounding yourself with your favorite things is as important as your filing systems and day planners for working smart and getting the right things done.


Some pictures from our summer – Asheville, Davidson, Georgia, Greece and the Cape Cod National Seashore

If you’re like me and can’t get to the beach until next season, but want the beach memories all year, Travel Print Shop has beach & nature photography designed to create a colorful splash of happiness & adventure on your wall at home or at the office.

“All images were created around the globe by Kim Olson in hopes of capturing and celebrating the beauty of our natural and human world. All artwork is proudly made in the United States with high-quality, archival and professional-grade photographic materials.”

Kim’s values align with those at Positive Workspace:

  • Make a Difference
  • Stay Curious
  • Live with Intention

To learn more about the Travel Print Shop and Kim, visit her website


{Photo credit: Kim Olson – Cinque Terre}



{Photo credit: Kim Olson – Monterosso Cinque Terre}

My 2 Favorite Productivity Tips for June

It’s hard to stay focused in the summer and the cost of interruption is significant. To help, here are 2 changes I made that are working well.

TIP #1:

Bringing Back the Rolodex

Writing key information for each client on an index card instead of using an online document. (Information like: location, time zone, Skype ID, a brief bio, contact information and best method of contact – formatted the same on each card.)  The improvement in productivity was immediate, and I loved the quick, automatic retrieval of information without having to type anything, or navigate online distractions.

Other benefits:

  • A break from the computer
  • A chance to utilize the “write it down to retain it” theory
  • The intangible benefits from having a visual cue and the tactile experience of reading on paper

{I was hoping to find something both functional & pretty like this discontinued product}


{After a frustratingly long search, I dropped “pretty” from the wish list and got this}

Is there anything you’re storing electronically that would work better in written form?

Tip #2:

Getting Control of Your Email

For anyone struggling with managing their Gmail inbox and the frequency of checking emails, The Ultimate Gmail Productivity System for Business, is a fantastic resource. I find it useful for personal use too. The 3+ hour course offers strategies and tools to cut your time spent on email and increase productivity. ($49 on

If you’re overwhelmed by clutter and paper piles, and tired of wasting time on busy-work instead of good work, contact me for ideas of what you can do to work more efficiently – or (704) 236-9181

5 Things Happy People Do (and you should too)

In an article for the New York Times, Gabrielle Leblanc compiled a list of 5 simple actions that add up to a formula for joy according to the leading experts on what happy people have in common.

Here is Gabrielle’s list, plus my (less scientific) ideas for bringing happiness into your workspace.

1.  They Find Their Most Golden Self.  Strive towards excellence based on your unique talents and potential – Aristotle considered this the most noble goal in life.

The positive emotion accompanying thoughts that are directed toward meaningful goals is one of the most enduring components of well-being.” Richard J. Davidson, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

PW says… Find gold office accessories!

{Interiors By Studio M}

2.  They Design Their Lives to Bring In Joy.  “People don’t devote enough time to thinking seriously about how they spend their life and how much of it they actually enjoy,” says David Schkade, PhD, at the University of California, San Diego. Your happiness is something you can design and have control over.

PW says… Bring joy to your workday

3.  They Avoid “If Only” Fantasies.  Happy people keep their lives full of novelty.

4.  They Put Their Friends First.  Social engagement is one of the most important contributors to happiness. According to research, you get more joy from spending longer periods of time with a close friend, then you do dashing around chatting with acquaintances.

PW says… Good people bring out the good in people. A friend is one who listens, doesn’t judge, and somehow makes everything all right.

5.  They Allow Themselves to Be Happy.  Do not feel guilty for having fun.

PW says… Happiness is the highest level of success, so -


If you need a boost of inspiration in your cluttered office contact me at

The First Step in Success? Figuring Out What Success Means to You.

“You can reap huge rewards from a series of small smart choices.” Darren Hardy, Publisher of Success Magazine


{Rita Chan Interiors}

Success or failure is earned through the seemingly insignificant decisions we make every day. Once you determine what success means to you, automating certain tasks in your daily routine will put the power of compound effect in motion.

In his book, The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy counters all of the “get-rich, get-thin, find success fast” gimmicks distorting our sense of what it takes to succeed, and brings us back to the core fundamentals of finding success.

Here’s a great podcast of Darren talking with Joel Boggess on the “Relaunch” show about:

  • Why so many people fail
  • His path to becoming the Publisher of Success Magazine
  • His personal success routines

The first step is the hardest – but remember, objects in motion tend to stay in motion.


It’s the Little Things That Make a Difference

Twice today, in two very unrelated places, I read these words.

First was on a label at the Container Store where I was shopping for a client and stocking up on some travel items (see pictures below).  And the other was in an email, linking me to an article about the productivity app, Trello.


{Little travel items at a little price – all under $10}

I am a big believer of doing the little things – for friends, family, strangers, myself, at work, and at play – the little things make a difference in our relationships and personal development. They can also have a big impact on productivity and efficiency during the workday.

Here are some “little” ways to improve your workspace and workday:

  1. Emergent Task Planner work sheets. One sheet of paper for simplifying your daily schedule. I work with several clients throughout the day and this simple form makes it easy to track my time and stay focused on my top tasks.
  2. Speed up your mousepad.  Go to your System Preferences tab, select Mouse or Trackpad depending on what you use, and increase the Tracking Speed. Everything you do on your computer will get faster. For more tips, workspace inspiration, and favorite products, visit my Pinterest boards.
  3. Four months of peel and stick dry erase calendars. I love these! I’ve tried variations of dry erase calendars in my home office (one month and 12 months) and these work the best for me.

It’s a long weekend for a lot of folks. If you’re cooking out, here are 3 star-studded Memorial Day recipes. If you’re working in the garden, here is a recent discovery too good not to pass along – thornless roses. Who knew?!

sangria rose

{ Sparkling Star Spangled Sangria & Climbing Roses}

Whatever you may be doing this holiday weekend – be sure to remember, honor, and celebrate our military heroes.

Happy Memorial Day From Positive Workspace!