Open the door to your success

Don’t you just love friends you can call on to help you move mountains? Someone who helps you stay true to your dreams and gets you unstuck? Here’s an example of someone I love talking to from time to time.

This week I had a great chat with my friend and fellow coach Natalie Ashdown from Open Door Coaching Group. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Natalie for the last 10 years and I just love chatting with her. Our conversations start out with the usual ‘how are you and what have you been doing?’ Then that’s about where the general chit chat ends. We quickly turn a business or personal challenge that either one of us is experiencing into an opportunity to move mountains. We talk about what we’re doing to address challenges and we listen to and share each others’ perspectives and experiences.

There’s always a big shift when I chat with Natalie. Suddenly – you’ve moved way past the challenge into the area of wonderful solutions and opportunities and you’re grateful for the whole issue in the first place. That’s what a powerful conversation does. It moves you, it motivates you and it dissolves any negative energy.

This past month, I’ve been helping a corporate client build a high performing team. I’ve been running workshops and coaching the team to create a compelling vision and roadmap for the future. One of the resources I like to draw from is Natalie’s book, ‘Bring Out Their Best’. It’s full of more than 30 case studies from Australian corporate coaches and companies. A must read for anyone wishing to implement a coaching culture in their workplace.

You can visit Natalie’s site

Six Steps to Spring Cleaning Success

The irresistible signs of spring are in the air: flowers are blossoming, and the birds are singing us into a new beginning. But your house feels stale, right? So turn that northern tradition of Spring Cleaning into the perfect excuse to freshen up your home in time for summer.

These Six Steps to S.P.R.I.N.G. Cleaning success are actually going to get you to the end result – a light, fresh home that you can’t wait to show off.

These tips are from our Milking it, Systems for Success program:

S = SEE the end result.

The crucial start of every successful project (especially one as big as a spring clean) is all about getting motivated. You need to see the end result in your mind. Gather some images that depict a fresh clean and beautiful home. Get yourself a new notebook and ‘turn over a new leaf’, so to speak. Put the pictures in the beginning of your notebook. Getting in the right mindset is 70% of the effort. We need both PAIN and GAIN motivation. The PAIN is the time and money you waste every day living in clutter and mess. The GAIN is the wonderful feeling of living in a beautiful home, having friends over, finding things and 50% LESS housework (once you’re done).


Your cunning plan will save you from hitting the wall half way through. You want to have everything ready before you start or you’ll take twice as long. Your plan will help you decide the following: When do you want to have the project finished? Who can you enlist to help you? How do you want to break down the project? Which room will you tackle first, second, third, etc? What will be your end reward? When will you be ready to start? What time do you need to block out in your diary?

R = Reduce.

Reduce your possessions by….40% You should always de-clutter before you start cleaning because it will reduce the effort by….40%! Isn’t that amazing? Less belongings = less to clean. Devote two days to simply getting rid of as much stuff as you can. Box it, bag it, drag it and tag it. Get it out of your space and recycle, return, repair, replace.

I = Implement.

Implement your plan. Persistence is the key now. Tackle one room at a time and don’t move onto the next it til you’re done. Turn up the music, keep hydrated, gather your cleaning materials, roll up your sleeves and get stuck into your spring cleaning. The kitchen is always the hardest working room in the house and is the best place to start. Then the living room, and so on. Make it beautiful

N = Nearly there.

Now it’s time for getting into the detail and sprucing things up. A new cushion here, a pot plant there, a polish of the silver and a picture frame update, some new linen or moving some furniture? Subtle changes like these are as good as a holiday. Look at your spaces with fresh eyes and have fun.

G = Gather

Gather your friends together, your goal has been achieved. Time to celebrate as Spring is in the air and you have invested precious time for wonderful results in the most important place in the world…. your home.

Take Control of Your Daily Grind

Some days it feels like you’re spending all your precious time putting out fires and chasing your tail rather than enjoying the small amount of quality family time.

Remember what life used to be like before our 24/7 work culture set in?

There was a rhythm to daily life and the weeks and seasons followed a familiar and comforting pattern; fish and chips on Friday, Thursday might have been washing day, there was shopping day and cleaning day.

Whilst we have an ‘act now’ culture that seems to demand our attention around the clock, by putting in place a few systems and routines that serve and support your life, you can quickly restore the balance and help avoid those annoying last minute upsets.

The best place to start with getting organised is with your paper because it impacts all areas of your life: financial, emotional, career, family and time.

Paper flows through our lives. It maps our journeys, showing where and when we were born, our progress through school, where we travel and where we choose to call home. Paper celebrates our life achievements through school reports, diplomas, degrees and work contracts. We accumulate permission documents such as licences, accreditations and endorsements. Marriage and birth certificates are evidence that we loved and we left living legacies. Invoices, account summaries and receipts show what we exchanged our hard-earned money for, be it electricity, lounge suites, houses or holidays.

Sometimes our paper breaks its banks and floods our lives and we end up wasting hard earned time and money trying to keep afloat. Unpaid bills, lost tax receipts, misplaced warranties and unpaid insurance can put enormous stress on relationships, as well as create serious consequences downstream. Lack of sleep, depression, anxiety, anger, frustration and lethargy are common symptoms of the overwhelm people experience when their paperwork is out of control.

Now before you start berating yourself (or your significant other!), just go easy. This struggle with paper is happening in homes and offices all over Australia. What most people need is a system for dealing with it. Draw a line in the sand and forgive yourself.

In 2008, Australians posted more than five billion items. That same year, Australian businesses sent 4.2 billion paper items by post. A lot of this was invoices, bills and direct-mail advertising. The average Australian employee uses 10,000 sheets of A4 paper each year and these numbers are growing. It’s worth investing a little bit of time in setting up a paper management system in your home and office.

I have written a book along with Melbourne professional organiser MaryAnne Bennie called Paper Flow, the ultimate guide to making paperwork easy. MaryAnne and I offer these five lifesaving and health creating tips for you to turn your piles into files and your frowns into smiles.

Tip 1:
Have a dedicated file for your unpaid bills, and call it ‘Bills To Pay’. All too often people have their bills all over the place, some in a diary, some on the kitchen bench and a few intermingled within a pile on the floor. This lack of clarity causes our subconscious to be continuously thinking about unpaid bills, it creates more paper through reminder notices and increases costs due to late fees and interest and it causes arguments and friction within relationships. You can now sleep more easily knowing that all your bills are in one place! Too easy!

Tip 2:
Looking for important documents like birth certificates causes people to go into a panic. These documents are usually accessed occasionally but when they are needed they are needed NOW. Place all your important documents into one folder now before the urgency hits and the panic sets in. Birth and marriage certificates, divorce papers, passports, wills and powers of attorney, titles and lists of important contacts all come together in one place. An extra tip: scan or photocopy your documents and keep a copy elsewhere in case of loss of originals through fire, theft or other misfortune. You will feel so much more in control after this one simple action.

Tip 3:
Overwhelm is exacerbated by being faced with too much to do all at once. So why not take a trip to the bottle shop? No we are not suggesting you drown your sorrows! Pick up some empty champagne boxes and neatly place all your stagnant piles into the boxes and stack the boxes neatly together. Now you can tackle one box at a time at a pace to suit your lifestyle and schedule.

Tip 4:
Little receipts can do your head in especially when you need to find one to make an exchange or to obtain a refund. People feel sick just thinking about the amount of wasted money is lying around their homes. Place all little receipts into a box the size of a shoebox. At the end of each month place the little receipts into an envelope with the month and the year written on the front. Place the envelope back into the box and then keep collecting receipts for the next month, repeat each month.

Tip 5:
Use a notebook. Of all the things that create anxiety, losing an important phone number or misplacing a person’s contact details or important message is among the most frequent offender. The time wasted searching through stacks of paperwork, scraps of paper and sides of newspapers sends us into a spin of anxiety and frustration. Having a single simple notebook into which all messages and notes are recorded could save you hours of searching every month. Keep the notebook in a central place and place all notes in the book.

MaryAnne and I invite you to join the 28 day Paper Flow challenge – that is to organise all your paperwork in 28 days or less – and feel the benefits for yourself. Are you up for the challenge?

For more information go to

Here are seven easy tips that you can do this week to avoid the last minute panic:

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  1. 2016_christmas_planner_2Take your diary and go somewhere with no distractions for half an hour.
  2. Picture yourself at the end of the year and imagine feeling completely happy that you’ve got everything sorted. In that moment – say the 24th December – what are the major things that you ‘did’ that made a Christmas a stress free season? This exercise will help you stay focussed on what’s important.
  3. Decide which are the most important tasks to get done this week and allocate time for them in your diary. Allow more time than you think you need. You know why.
  4. Then look at what you don’t have time for. Can you delegate that task? Can you push it out? Can you talk to the other people involved and get an extension? Can you delete it?
  5. The statistics clearly show that despite most people saying they want to spend less each Christmas season, they buckle when they hit the mall. We typically spend more than we think. How can we get around this? It’s called a plan.
  6. Don’t sweat the Christmas shopping: there are so many great online stores that you can buy from and you won’t be tempted to spend more than you need. Start with your Ultimate Christmas Planner Christmas gift List and decide who you want to buy for first. Then decide what you think each person would like. Browse online for some ideas and write them down next to each name on your list. Set your budget and then whether you buy online or you step out into the lights and bling of the Christmas shops, you’ll have a plan and budget. That’s half the battle.
  7. If you don’t have a Christmas planner, you can purchase your copy of our Organised By Christmas Planner



What’s Cooking in Your Kitchen?

Does your kitchen also serve as a part time office? workbench? school project centre? party room? When you think about it, we expect a lot from the room we call ‘kitchen’, So my question for you is this: does your kitchen serve and support your daily life, with streamlined order and touches of heart and soul, or does it need a little magic wand treatment? If it’s the latter, click here to get our Clever Kitchens guide. Clever Kitchens reveals the common issues with most kitchens that are easily overcome, the ten steps to organising your kitchen like a professional, clever kitchens techniques and routines to make your day a dream, and the details of how to put some heart and soul back into your kitchen.

I know when my kitchen is sorted my days always take off to a great start. I admit this is not every day – there are ebbs and flows in life that sometimes keep me from my usual kitchen maintenance routine – but when my kitchen is sorted, I feel like I can take on the world. It cannot be underestimated the feeling you get when you’re greeted in the morning with a fridge whose contents are visible and fresh, a pantry displaying neat rows of easily accessible produce and benches clean and clear. Implements have a logical home and you need only to think about the day ahead rather than the loose ends and unmade decisions of yesterday. In fact, it’s such a great feeling, that I had to write about it and share the secrets in my e-book Clever Kitchen Drawers. So let’s cut to the chase – if your kitchen is not serving and supporting you today, it’s time to make a change. Here are seven signs that tell you your kitchen passes the Clever Kitchens test:

  1. Your benches are completely clear and ready to deal with whatever you need to throw at them, be it school bags, brief case, shopping bags or tonight’s dinner
  2. You take less than 3 minutes to unpack the dishwasher because every item has a home in a logical place
  3. The cupboards and drawers are not overstuffed and their contents do not leap out and try and grab you when you go to take one of the 20% of items you actually use. Yes, did you get that? Only 20% of what you keep in your kitchen is actually used…….hmmm….(see you later pizza stone, fondue pot, bread maker, pasta machine and vegetable juicer, anything costing $19.99 on late night television)
  4. You have five zones in which all relevant items are located: cleaning, cooking, food preparation, food storage, food serving (oh, and the sixth: the ‘dumping’ zone!)
  5. Weight, size and frequency of use are taken into consideration when deciding where to store your items
  6. You have a place to think and plan while the pots are on the boil. Whether it be a laptop, a reference binder, a pad and pen or just the phone, you have the ability to connect to yourself and the world while you turn out culinary masterpieces.
  7. People feel good in your space – you feel good there. It just flows.

So if you want to know how to achieve this, we’ve done the hard work for you. You can get access to the Clever_Kitchens workbook here

Be smarter about your money

Make a financial difference in ’10. Find out how to set up and manage your household finances at our Milk Money workshop.

The silly season can drain your finances and make you lose track of the incomings and outgoings. By setting up and sticking to the humble budget you’ll build the the cornerstone of your wealth strategy. We can also help you set some SMART* goals and put a system in place to manage your financial paperwork.

You’ll be surprised by how many dollars you can save by keeping track of the details.Be smarter about your money


Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based

When the going gets tough, the tough get organised

After a turbulent start to the year, many Queenslanders are in the midst of re-establishing themselves and getting their homes, families and lives sorted. For some, starting afresh means tackling seemingly insurmountable odds, for others it’s back to the daily grind.

However, according to best-selling Australian author of Paper Flow and Did You Remember the Milk; and Brisbane-based mum of three Brigitte Hinneberg, 2016 could present a positive opportunity for people to reorganise and gain control of their home, work and life.

“However, this topsy-turvy time has also made us identify what’s really important to us and that’s a good thing to get clear and a great place to start,” she says. “For many people this year could be a positive experience and one of substantial personal growth.

“Getting organised is going to be the key to our success. Taking a relatively small amount of time to get some simple systems in place will save you huge amounts of time, energy, money and frustration in the long term.”

This is what getting organised could save you in 2016:

  • 260 hours – Australians waste this time each year looking for lost documents
  • $2,000 – this is what we pay in late fees, lost health receipts, fines and unclaimed gift cards.

Despite being more tech-savvy, people are losing the paper war:

A piece of paper is moved 8 times before it is tossed or filed
80% of paper that is filed is never accessed again
70% of Australians use ‘to do’ lists, but never feel on top of them.

Here are some of Brigitte’s top tips to get 2011 back on track:

Mission Control

  • Create a ‘control tower’ – your personal office where you manage your recurring actions like paying bills and handling correspondence. This is where you’ll move your key projects forward each day. Within arms reach should be your main reference folders such as your important documents folder, current financial records and ready reference information like school contacts, schedules, planners and business reference.
  • The level of cleaning up and clearing up will vary between each household but the principle remains the same, choose one room at a time and break down the task. For some it will be a case of needing new furniture and for others it will be a major de-clutter. If so, start with de-cluttering before you re-organise it. Trying to get organised in a messy room will prolong the task. Put your space through the 7 step milking it approach to de-cluttering: assess the room, set your goals, create your zones and decide your scope, set a deadline, set some rules (how much are you going to get rid of?), assign each item to a category of keep, toss, donate, repair or reassign, decide what needs to go.

Be Your Own Task Master

  • It may sound basic, but only use one notebook you carry with you and put all appointments, tasks and key dates into one diary. The one diary, one notebook rule will keep everything in one place and at your fingertips when you need to access it. Keep removable tabs in your notebook so you can jump to categories.
  • Always start the day with a plan and tackle the most important things first. Daily planning is the most powerful tool for getting control of your time.
  • No more multi-tasking! Despite popular belief, the fastest and easiest way to get anything done is to get clear, set your target and focus!
  • Master the art of estimating your time and remember for every task to allow set up time, project time, and clean up/winding down time as well as travel time and a buffer for interruptions

Me Time

  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed and in a rut, allow time for yourself because in order to go the distance and keep moving forward, you want to be operating in optimal condition. Although you might be strapped for time, exercise and healthy eating will give you more energy for your busy day and more endorphins, which will combat stress. Planning meals in advance will make shopping and cooking easier and save you time.
  • Aim to get eight hours of sleep per night and at least two of those before midnight. If you have things that are worrying you, write them down before you go to bed and then forget about them until you wake up.

The Power of Positive Thinking – create a new vision

  • It’s no secret that thinking positively and eliminating negative thoughts is a great way to combat stress. Become aware of the negative thoughts that crop up in your mind through worry, stress, anger, resentment and fear and write them down. Then come up with a new replacement thought that could help you re-frame the negative one.

Brigitte Hinneberg’s latest book Paper Flow the ultimate guide to making paperwork easy RRP $24.95 is available in all good bookstores, Australia Post, kikki.K, Officeworks, and selected newsagents.

Now she has launched her latest life-empowering tool, Milking It, an easy to use program that helps busy working mums achieve more with less effort.

“I wanted to create an affordable and easily accessible online coaching program, that you could access whenever you need it, wherever you are,” Brigitte said. Milking it gives you the tools and training to create 12 tried and tested systems that you can put in place in your life, business and home, such as: planning and time management, de-cluttering, meal planning, paper flow organisation, finances and helping children gain independence.

Click here to find out more about Milking It.