In the spirit of transparency, let me first say I have areas of my life that I would never show you. I do not organize people’s lives or homes or workplaces for my living; there are many incredible people (and books) who do that with astounding productivity results (yes, really). This blog series is not about closets or drawers or garages (although I will show you my two types of home medication storage systems in a later post). This series of posts, however, is about the tricks I use to stay on top of my goals and the “little” things that used to drive me crazy that now…well, don’t.

I get asked all the time, “How do you do everything you do?” Well, I have an incredible support system. I’ve also organized several areas of my life. I’ve found systems that work for me, and I use the Seven Habits of Highly Successful People every day. The one I think about the most that I think has helped multiply my efforts in care, work, and life is begin with the end in mind. You can apply it to just about anything to improve the results.

Begin with the end in mind makes you think – really think – about your end results – what you want and how you know you’ll be successful with that one piece. Once you have the ending in mind, you can work backwards to break up the goal into manageable pieces and tasks.

Reading is important to me. And while I’ve been a book lover for a while (more about that in a future post), I have a leader in my life that encourages others often with Charlie “Tremendous” Jones’s quote,

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”


And, boy, is that true for leaders at all levels. Nurses, I am looking at you, too. The books you read change you. I want to grow each year.

Keep a List

Since we’re responsible for our own personal and professional growth, it is up to us to make it happen, so I keep a running list of books I want to read, and then I either delete them or mark them off my list as I finish them. It sounds easy enough, but I am surprised at how few people actually do this. Ask for recommendations from others and write. them. down.

I previously kept my list electronically – on my phone, but I’ve recently discovered bullet journaling, so I have incorporated pieces of that into my paper calendar. Yes, I am still a paper calendar gal in life (and electronic at work…again, more on that later).

Here’s my 2018 reading list. As I finish a book in this format, I color it in.


Yes, it is January 7th, and I’ve already read two books from my list. How?…

Keep A Book Near You

Whether it is hardcopy, electronic, or audio, keep a book near you. It’s amazing how much “down time” you have in your day if you’re mindful of it. Meeting not starting on time? Open your e-book. Commuting to work? Read your hardcopy book on the subway, or listen to your audio book in your car or on the bus. I enjoy running, and I recently learned my audio book app will work simultaneously with my running app! Oh, the joy it brought me to run for 45 minutes while “reading.”

Get a Library Card or Use a Book Subscription Service

Libraries are not antiquated. The possibilities are endless now as most libraries not only have books on-hand but can do interlibrary loans to get books from other libraries. My library also has an e-book and an audio book app. It. Is. Awesome. I don’t have to spend a fortune on books, and I always have reading material on-hand.

There are plenty of book subscription services and apps, as well. Audible, Amazon Kindle Unlimited, and MyBookBox are just a few.

Try Reading Two Books at a Time

If you can keep books straight in your head, have a reading method where you read two books “simultaneously.” Read one as an e-book or audio book in the morning/during the day and another as a hard-copy or e-book in the evenings.

Start as Soon as You Finish 

Because you’ll always have reading content around you, you can pick up a new book as soon as you finish one book. Even if you only read a page or two, go ahead and start the new book.

Don’t Be Afraid to Stop A Book 

Don’t just read to read; read to enjoy and to learn. If a book is not keeping your attention, stop it and start a new book. For those who need a sense of completion, this is easier said than done, so get comfortable with the idea…it’s your reading list, and you can do what you want with it. Don’t waste your time on “bad” books.


So, what are you reading that I need to add to my list? (I’m a non-fiction fan.) How do you prioritize reading in your life?



Ten Things I Cannot Live Without in the Workplace

by Nursetopia on April 15, 2012

As a nurse manager, there are many “things” I need to bring sanity and success in the workplace. Here are my top ten things I must have in daily work or in my work environment.

1. A mission. I certainly understand the bottom line, but if I’m not making a difference in an organization that values making a difference, then I’m not a happy person. A mission-driven organization is absolutely necessary for me. I’ll work for the bottom line because the mission drives me to do so.

2. Leaders who lead. I need leaders in my work who make the tough decisions, who focus on change, who listen to associates and act on those voices, who empower those around them to rise up and lead, as well. I’m not interested in following someone soaking up a title and hoarding power only to make everyone else feel insignificant.

3. A team. “Many hands make the load light,” and many brains make the ideas bigger, faster, better. Highly functioning, diverse teams are hard to build; they’re worth the work, though. I need several teams – not only the one I lead. I like being a part of great teams, too. I enjoy being challenged by other brilliant folks. They keep me sharp and questioning the status quo.

4. Agendas and schedules. I move in synch with my calendar. I use Outlook – which I still happen to love despite all the “newer” calendar applications. Color coded blocks, timed reminders, recurring tasks and meetings – I add everything electronically and print a weekly calendar every Friday in preparation for the next week. I cross out the appointments and days as they occur and write in new items throughout the week as they arise. If it’s not on my calendar, it likely won’t get done.

5. Optimism and humor. I need to be around people who love what they do. It makes work better. I can go anywhere to be around miserable people, but why? Life is too short for being miserable. If I spend 40+ hours each week at “one” place with the same people, it better be good. It doesn’t always have to be rainbows and puppy dog kisses, but it does need to be a kind place the majority of the time. And, it’s always nice to work in a place where laughter is a norm rather than the exception.

6. Professionalism. People in the workplace need to do what they said they would do. In a timely manner. With respect for all. In addition and as a nurse, it’s amazing the difference you can feel when working in a organization that values professional nursing. A-maz-ing.

7. Dreams and goals. Who wants to be in the same place this time next year? Not me. I need to work in a place that strives to be better (for the mission and for our patients) and encourages everyone else to do the same. The workplace should use the past to reach toward the future.

8. Breaks. Who doesn’t need a break in and from the workplace? We all do! Working in an organization that realizes that and encourages that, though, is an entirely different level of work-life balance.

9. Thanks. It is important to me to have the opportunity to both give and receive 360° private and public thanks. Knowing that I am doing a good job and telling my team members and colleagues they are making a difference, as well, is vital to my success in the workplace. Feedback is good.

10. Courage. It’s not easy leading and managing others. There are many difficult situations and conversations throughout the course of work with team members, leaders, patients, family members, colleagues. It takes courage to do the right thing in a timely manner. Simple – not easy.

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Completely Unproductive; Or Is It?

by Nursetopia on September 25, 2011

I like to maximize my time. I usually always have some reading material with me – journals, books, and of course, my iPhone resource library. Waiting for a personal appointment – read. Commercial during the rare television show viewing – read. A three-hour children’s birthday party – oh, you better believe I’m busting out the book or opening a useful app to knock out a project. Perhaps it is a product of my generational upbringing, or maybe it is simply a current societal norm. Likely both combined with my hit-or-miss type A personality.

This week, though, I have soaked up television premiers while snuggled up with my family. I have chauffeured and attended two kids’ birthday parties while enjoying the laughter and merriment. I have wasted – yes wasted – hours of time scrolling through Pinterest, pinning ideas I may never, ever complete. Yet, it all nourished my self. So, it may appear unproductive, but I think it was all very productive, contributing to a much happier me. I have always thought of “productivity” in regards to work and accomplishment; my view is changing.

Wishing you a productive week, Friends, whatever that looks like for you.


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Here it is – the first nursing journal article in response to Nursing Idea’s Research Challenge. I really enjoyed this one.

The Article: Lewis, P. S. and Malecha, A. (2011). The impact of workplace incivility on the work environment, manager skill, and productivity. Journal of Nursing Administration, 41(1): 41-47.

The Big Idea: This study researched the impact of workplace incivility, or WPI, on staff nurses as related to productivity. WPI is defined as “low-intensity deviant behavior with ambiguous intent to harm the target, in violation of workplace norms for mutual respect.” The study compared various hospital units in standard nursing environments to those in healthy work environments (which were defined as Magnet®, Pathway to Excellence, and/or Beacon Unit recognition), nurses’ perception of their managers’ skill handling WPI, and the cost of decreased productivity caused by WPI.

Survey Says!: Nurses working in healthy work environments reported lower workplace incivility than their counterparts in standard environments. The nurses with the lowest WPI scores perceived their managers as more skilled in handling WPI, and participants agreed managers who are aware of WPI and more cognizant of the workplace environment have greater abilities handling WPI. The OR staff had higher WPI scores than ICU, ED, and MedSurg. WPI in either healthy or standard nursing environments lead to a decrease in productivity at the same rate of financial expense.

Quotable: “A large majority of the nurses in the sample experienced WPI in the last year (84.8%, n=553). Interestingly, 36.7% (n=239) of the nurses in the sample indicated that they had instigated WPI to another person in the last year.”

“Lost productivity…computes to $11,581 per nurse pear year…as a result of WPI.”

“There was a negative relationship indicating that the higher the incivility, the lower the productivity.”

So What?: This study confirmed many of the findings in other workplace incivility studies, but it put a dollar amount on the lost productivity as a result of WPI for the very first time – $11,581 per nurse per year! Money talks, so this is yet another reason facilities create and maintain healthy work environments. Also, leaders who were clued into the environment were perceived as more skilled in handling WPI, which supports managers rounding on the units and actually talking to staff. (Novel idea, huh?) In addition, components of healthy work environments such as shared governance models and collaborative efforts prove powerful yet again. The authors show that nurse managers and the work environment make personal and financial impacts within an institution’s nursing workforce, serving as either assets or liabilities.


Thank you to Rob Fraser, RN, of Nursing Ideas, for this great challenge. Big thanks to J Doe, of Those Emergency Blues, for the encouragement to take on this challenge.

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