The time-managment guru
You’d never guess one of our own expert advice columnists, Karyn Gordon, celebrated therapist, speaker, founder of DK Leadership (a career and life coaching agency) and a regular face on Cityline and Good Morning America, pretty much flipped a coin to decide her future. Her other option? Design school.
But after 12 years of studying all there is to know about counselling, she still couldn’t shut off her love of sewing, colour palettes and custom storage. So she bought her passion home — literally. The small house in Toronto’s east end that she shares with her handy husband, Brent, and twin boys is the outlet that allowed her to combine her personal and professional aptitudes.
The couple bought the three-storey detached house from flippers, who’d done a rush reno that cut many corners. When it came time to move in, Brent and Karyn made the most of the narrow frame and devised their own solutions to suit the space, beginning with a sketch on a napkin and a trip to a lumberyard (yes, he really is that handy). Their plan was to build as much storage as they could and figure out where things went later.
Now, at 9 p.m. on any given weeknight you’re likely to find Karyn playing tennis down the street or curled up on her tidy living room sofa with a glass of wine — not picking up toys, stepping over discarded fish crackers, trying to find misplaced mail or arguing over who’s on dish duty. How does she do it?
Her organizing system is key, and it’s all about routine. She has cleverly figured out how to make putting things away and finishing chores part of her family’s behaviour with a “work first, play later” mentality.
“We’re all so energy and time deprived that most people live in chaos and then wonder why they can’t get things done. Figure out the stuff you know needs to happen,” says Karyn. “Determine who does laundry, takes out the garbage, gets groceries. All of that boring stuff wastes time and energy.” Assign it once. No further discussion is required; everyone just does their jobs. “Create habits that become automatic,” she says, subscribing to the theory that you have only X amount of mental energy per day. If you use it all up on stressful or chaotic situations, you end up with nothing left for activities that are enjoyable and recharging. And that — the reward — is the heart of her system.
Accustomed to the “But how do you do it?” question from friends and clients, she has a prescription but stresses that you need to embrace the “work first, play later” philosophy. “Being able to play, hang out, read, visit friends or watch TV without feeling like you should be doing something else is what gets you hooked. You’ll get your whole family on board once they realize how enjoyable and energizing downtime is.” Cheers to that!