New Book

The Proactive Manager, my latest e-Book, published this year by Bookboon, expands on my 2020 introductory book, How to Become a Proactive Person, and with the aid of more recent research, introduces you to our innate proactive brain and how you can enhance its power. Although it is recommended you read How to Become a Proactive Person first, it is not essential, since that book’s more important recommendations are expanded upon with further examples. This book also provides a history of the word proactive, and its importance in this digital age of speed. To view and purchase, click HERE. Or visit our website.

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Feature article

The War Against Clutter  
I have a little magnetic sign on my refrigerator that claims, “Organized people are just too lazy to look for things.” There is more than a little truth to that. I am definitely too lazy to look for things, and that’s what spurred me on to become as organized as possible. I find that looking for things is frustrating, stressful, a time waster – and not good for impatient people like me.

I also have learned that the fewer things I have, the easier it is to organize them – and the less time I waste retrieving them. It is fun to practice common sense. Do I really need nine pairs of shoes, four winter jackets, seven hats, four scarves, and so on filling the hall closet?

I know everyone’s situation must be different, but unless you’re a centipede, how could you possibly need more than four pairs of shoes? I cut the number in half for the hats and scarves since I only have one neck and one head. I allowed myself two winter jackets because the closet started looking bare.

I cannot tell you how many pairs of shirts and slacks were crammed into the bedroom closets – mainly because I kept losing count somewhere in the thirties. And I did not even attempt to count the underwear and socks.

It was not easy to get rid of a lot of the stuff. Over half of the 30 odd pairs of slacks would no longer fit; but I still had planned to lose weight – even though I had not lost any weight in the last 48 years. Quite the opposite. Sometimes you must give your brain piece of your mind because it can be stubborn. I finally convinced it that if I ever lost weight, I deserved the reward of a new wardrobe. Subconsciously I knew I would never have to deliver on that promise. Once you are on a roll, it becomes motivational. I even got rid of the tuxedo I borrowed from someone for the school prom back in 1953. I never could track him down and he probably went to an early grave wondering who had borrowed his tux.

I was further motivated when I became a regular hero in a small Mexican village that I visited several times a year. On each trip I would bring down a suitcase full of old clothes.

By the time I got to the kitchen, nothing could stop me. 62 glasses, 24 pots and pans – including in an egg poacher that never saw an egg in its life, a cast iron frying pan that I could hardly lift, let alone use, and hundreds of plastic bags stuffed into plastic bags – all went to a worthy cause. The 40-odd cottage cheese containers that I had carefully washed and were now still nestled inside one another on a top shelf out of reach went to the recycle bin.

Perhaps I went too far when I got rid of the one spare set of bedsheets and pillowcases; but I found I never used them. I wash the one set and return it to its rightful place on my bed. Sure, it will wear out sooner, but I might last longer. And I can always replace them with a new set when they wear thin.

I find that getting rid of stuff becomes a lifestyle. It’s never ending because people keep buying me things. So, for every item I receive, I get rid of something less desirable – with the knowledge that it will bring joy to someone else.

I will not bore you with further details of my assault on superfluous stuff. I am sure you get the idea. I found it to be a necessary first step in getting organized.

Quick time tips

Work in process.
If you want your work area to be organized when you finish work, take out everything that you will need for the day, and put it back as you complete each item and no longer need it for the balance of your work. Process clutter is okay, and necessary for efficiency, but you will always be neat and clutter-free when you are not working.

Organize as you leave your home.
Make the bed when you get up, tidy the bedroom as you leave it, put the dishes into the dishwasher after breakfast, tidy the kitchen when you leave it, and so on, until you work your way out the front door.

Quick facts

Longevity increases for positive people.
15 studies that included 229,391 individuals who were followed for almost 14 years, revealed that for optimistic people, the risk of death from all causes fell by 14%, and the risk of a cardiac event such as a non-fatal heart attack, was slashed by 35%. (Research from Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital, New York and Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health, Boston.)

Cause of clutter.
Disorganization, not a lack of space, causes 80% of household clutter. (Soap and Detergent Association study.)

Timely quotes
“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal nagging of an uncompleted task.”
– Wm. James

“Nothing is worth more than this day.”
– Goethe

“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.”
– Joel Arthur Baker

“Practice saying no to the good things; reserve your yes for the best things.”
– Dr. Richard Swenson, M.D.

Trainer’s corner.

Online courses.
As the pandemic subsides, individuals and organizations will continue to provide and to participate in online courses and training programs. Whether you deliver live sessions via video conference platforms, such as Zoom, or use pre-recorded videos, be aware of your environment. Do not have distracting backgrounds. This includes clutter, U.F.O.s (Unidentifiable Funny Objects) or books. Although a background of books is impressive, viewers may try to identify the titles rather than pay attention to your presentation.
Always look at the camera or camcorder, not your laptop, smartphone screen, or notes on your desk. Teleprompter apps are available if needed. You want to look at your audience, and they are not above your head, to one side, or in your lap.

Also make sure you silence your iPhone, ticking clocks, running water, or living creatures while you are speaking. And if you do not have a soundproof environment, avoid recording or presentation times when trains go by or church bells ring or fog horns sound.

For live presentations, always have more material available than you plan to present and are ready to deliver a lot less material than you would like to deliver. Go for as much interaction as possible, pause frequently for questions, and never go beyond 90 minutes without a major break of 15 minutes or so.

You must have more structure for online courses so that participants do not get confused. Make sure everyone has an agenda or outline and know what you will be presenting and when you will present it. And stick to that outline.

E-books by Harold Taylor, published to date by

Harold has been writing e-Books for Bookboon for the past 8 years and has completed 36 books to date. For a complete list and descriptions, click here.

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