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Organizing your routines for better health and productivity

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When clients hire Jennifer Robb to help get organized, more often than not, she also ends up helping them work on developing healthier habits, too.

“Most people that call me do not make their health a priority because they give so much of themselves to others,” she said. “I give them the tools to learn to care for themselves.”

Robb, of Simple Organizing Strategies in Iowa City, also is a yoga instructor and teaches a class at Kirkwood Community College called Organized Routines: Taking Back Your Time, Space and Health. She believes these three things are intimately connected.

“It’s a cycle. You feel unhealthy and you feel disorganized, so you don’t want to get out of your chair,” Robb said. “As soon as you start taking control of these things, it starts getting better.” She says many clients benefit from her all-encompassing approach because exercise helps reduce stress, including the stress of organizing your space at work and at home.

Robb encourages clients to keep a log of how they spend their time so they can determine what’s keeping them from being more productive. If you find that it’s taking you a long time to answer emails, she recommends recording how much time you spend actually responding to emails and how much time is spent on Facebook or checking the weather.

“Schedule chunks of time during the day to check and respond to emails and keep only your email tab open. That way, you won’t get distracted or overwhelmed by ‘quickly’ checking the weather, social media or local news,” she said.

Even in your free time, she recommends thinking critically about what you’re spending your time on. “Instead of watching mindless shows that make you feel numb, take in things that make you feel inspired,” Robb said.

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Establishing positive routines can start with small things. “Stick a hook up by the door and put your keys and items there. Once you master that routine, continue to put new routines in place throughout your day that compliment your style, whether you’re a minimalist or a visual thinker,” she said.

Robb recommends setting up a consistent schedule for things like exercise so the habit will become second nature, especially for those who lead busy lives.

“Think about the times of day when your energy levels are high or low and schedule those times appropriately, so you aren’t trying to conquer the most trying tasks when you have the least amount of energy.”

Often, Robb’s clients just need a little help in getting started with new, healthier routines. “Once someone says, ‘Look at this closet, I can use it now!’ they want to jump to the next thing they can take control over. Getting organized, losing weight, quitting smoking — once you start to dominate it, there’s no stopping you,” she said.

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