How to unclutter without getting rid of things you love

Lots of books have been written about the importance of uncluttered homes.
Get rid of clutter, get rid of stress.

I value the efficiency of an uncluttered house. Like being able to find things fast and easy rather than wasting time looking for what I need. 

I also like beauty. To me beauty can include pretty precious things that remind me of places I have been or people who are dear to me. 

It took me a while to find out how to combine these two desires. Uncluttered and efficient, yet enjoying many things that matter to me. 

Like the two sets of china we have. One is a wedding present, the other  is a present from my late, beloved grand mother. 

Since a few years I keep one of the sets in the vitrine in the kitchen, while the other is stored in the attic. Every autumn and spring I switch between them, so we have a "winter china set" and a "summer china set". 

That way I can keep the look in the vitrine tidy and I get two keep both sets. Also, when I change I get a "new look" in the kitchen.

Of course the switching, including carefully wrapping the china and putting it in a box, costs some time.

I have decided it is worth my time.

When I talk about Holistic Time Management, this is one of the pieces. Looking not only at what costs time, but at what gives you energy and happiness. And then decide how you want to spend your time. 

For me, it is a good time business case to store some things and switch now and then. I do it not only with sets of china but also with clothes, coffe table books and other things.  

Your way of managing your things and your time may be different. And that is OK.

That is also part of my approach to Holistic Time Management - the only right way is your own way.  

If you haven't found your way yet, let me know and I will gladly help you find it :).


Where did my 8 hours free time go?

It was May 1, 1890.

Av Herr Axelsson i Skönvik - Klass i rörelse

 In Sundsvall in Sweden the workers demonstrated, demanding:

8 hours work
8 hours free time
8 hours rest

Maybe you work about 8 hours a day.
Maybe you sleep 8 hours or less every day.
Does it feel as if you have 8 hours free time per day?

I don't know how you spend your time.
But I know that one difference today compared to 1890, is that we spend a lot of time going from one place to the other.

In Sweden 1890, many people would work at home or close to where they lived. The kids would be at home or in a school they could walk to.

Today a lot of time is spent on bringing kids to school, going to work, picking up kids, bringing them to activities, going to the gym, taking the car to go to a shopping center etc.

Some of your "free time" may be spent transporting yourself and your family members to different places just to make life fit together.

Marta Vaidla has found another way. A way that makes it easier to manage the "work-life balance" we so often talk about.

If you want to get some ideas about how to balance or even integrate work life with family life, listen to my interview with this mother of four who works as a real estate agent.


Pressure or Pleasure - what do you choose?

A few days ago, I participated in a discussion with other project management professionals and heads of PMOs to discuss Competences needed for project managers to be ambidextrous in the business ecosystem. An interesting topic in itself, but this post is about something one of the participants said, before we even started:
"Everytime I come here, I get nervous, I feel the pressure. "
The pressure did not come from the group of leaders from different industries participating in the discussion, nor from the topic. It came from his memories from the place where we had the meeting; at Chalmers University of Technology, the university where most of us earned our degrees.

He said it jokingly, but there was a hint of seriousness about the feelings he had had when going to exams.

The comment stayed with me, since my feelings when I parked my Suzuki Gladius at the Campus were completely different. Of course I studied hard when I was a student here. Of course I participated in difficult exams, not always sure I would pass or get the results I wanted. But I also partied. A lot. And I was part of an organization that took care of the sound at concerts and arranged film evenings. I don't remember the pressure, I remember the pleasure.

You can have similar experiences as others - yet perceive them completely different. You decide what to put the focus on. You decide what memories to keep.

And then there is the future. You get to decide that too. Not what happens - but how you will react to whatever happens.

Pressure or Pleasure.

I know what I will focus on.

Do you ?


There is never a right time. Or a wrong one. Just do it!

"Once I have made x amount of money I will start my business"
"Once I own my own home, I will start a family"
"Once I have concluded university I will get myself a dream job"

Are you waiting "until" before you do something you really want?

Remember there is no such thing as "the right time".

You can start that business before you have the amount of money you envisioned.

You may find yourself pregnant and willing to start a family before you own a home.

Your dream job may show up before you have concluded university

There is no such thing as the right time. Or the wrong time for that matter.  So if you really want to do something - just do it!

This is the advice of Jenni Bush; Mother, marketing consultant and business owner.  In the video below she and I talk about daring to start your own business. Jenni also shares a funny and unusual way of cleaning the floors together with your children.



"I can never work under a boss again"

When Evelien was young she didn't want to have her own company. She saw how hard her parents worked in theirs.

Now she is a business owner since several years and she doesn't think she could ever work under a boss again.

Listen to her story in this interview

For more information about the Timefinder package that helped Evelien beat her habit of procrastination, click here.


You can run but you can't rush

"Sometimes I l am late when I go and pick up my daughter from day care. Then I run. I enjoy running. I make sure I don't feel stressed though. If I am  stressed I just transfer my stress to her."
I was very happy when I heard one of my Holistic Time Management program members say this. It indicates a good understanding of the holistic part. You don't only manage your time, you look at the whole when doing so.

For many there is a connection between running and rushing. Between being fast and being stressed.

Trust me. There is no such connection. Unless we create it.

When I lead one of my first major projects, many asked me:
"Annika, how can you be so calm?"
It was as if I was supposed to be stressed since the project risked delaying production start for a new car model. This is very costly and I was aware of that. I also knew that stress would make it worse - not better.

A few projects later I went into the room of a colleague and asked him about something that my project needed. He picked up the phone and called someone else. When talking to the other person he turned to me. When he saw I had taken a seat in his office he said:

"Yes, it seems to be really important because Annika is actually sitting down."

It took me a while to understand that this meant that I normally was up and about, moving from one place to another to do whatever it took to get my project where it needed to be. I was always on the move. So when I sat down I showed I wasn't going anywhere until I had received what I came for.

Many get surprised about how I can get so much done, yet be so calm.
There is no contradiction.
Actually there is a connection.

 I get a lot done not despite being calm - but because I stay calm.

Speed and stress are only connected if you connect them.

Don't be afraid of speed, just make sure you keep stress out of the picture.

The basket ball coach John Wooden expressed it very well when he said:
Be quick, but never hurry.


Don't hide behind your high standards

"I am not sure anyone even reads my status reports."
I was talking to my mentor, airing my frustration about the time I spent writing status reports I wasn't sure were read.
"Next time, prepare your report, but don't send it. Send the old one. If anyone says something about it you can just go "Oh, I attached the wrong one" and then you send the latest. If no one notices - well then you know it is not worth your time and effort to write them anymore."
I followed my mentor's advice. It turned out that my report, one of many in a large multi-site project, was not read.

When I talk to people who want to find more time in their everyday lives, many tell me they are perfectionists. They have high standards and are unable to do all the things they want to do, since they want to do each thing very well.

I understand the feeling. I also believe in high standards and always doing your job in a way that makes you proud.

There is only one catch:
Not every task is worth your highest ambition level.
I often refer to the expression:
"Whatever's worth doing, is worth doing well."
This should not be confused with "whatever you are asked to do is worth doing well."

There are times, like in my example above, when we are asked to do things that are not worth our time and effort. In an ideal world we shouldn't do them at all. But at times, refusing to do them may have consequences you are not willing to take.

That is when it is time to look beyond your high standards. Look beyond them and adjust your ambition level to the task at hand.

If you want to do everything at the same ambition level, maybe you can fit in 10 great things in your glass of time. If you adjust your ambition level to the task, maybe you can fit in 13.

The choice is yours.

Don't hide behind your high standards and say "you don't have time" to do more than you do today.

When you make conscious decisions about what to do and how well to do it, you have taken a big step towards mastering your time. Be the chess player, not the chess piece.