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If you’re among the many people who have been working from home for over a year, it may be time to spruce things up and clean your space. Papers tend to get shuffled into stacks, odds and ends tend to get crammed into drawers. It’s a good idea to take some time to pay attention to your work space.

Why tidy your home office?

For one, it will make things easier to find and keep track of. Though you may have to invest a few hours to clean your space now, you’ll save time in the future.

Secondly, having a clean work area can help put you in the right mindset. Decluttering your space can help to declutter you mind, reduce stress, and increase self-esteem. You’ll likely find yourself breathing easier once you’ve tidied up your space.

Where to begin cleaning?

Start by taking a good look at your work space and thinking about what needs to be improved. Are you in need of a new filing system? Could you benefit from a “to do” box? Would a large whiteboard calendar be useful for organizing? Are you thinking about swapping out your current desk for a standing desk? Identify your big-picture needs before getting to work.

Quick Tips for Home Office Cleaning:

  • Remove the clutter. It can be helpful to take everything out of your office before putting anything back in. That way, you can thoroughly clean the space and start afresh with your organization.
  • Sort papers efficiently! Create a recycling pile, a shred pile, and a filing pile. Once you have your filing pile, turn on some background music and get to work! Make sure your file folders are logical and well-labeled.
  • Make sure everything has a home. Even your paperclips and sticky notes deserve a place in your office.
  • Group similar items. For instance, you might create a letter station filled with envelopes, paper, stamps, mailers, and return address labels.
  • Buy drawer organizers. It’s easy to cram everything into a drawer and forget about it. Instead, shell out a few dollars for small, plastic drawer divers, like these by Madesmart.
  • Be logical. Keep the things you use the most (pens, notebooks, sticky notes, etc.) handy and within reach.
  • Commit to tidiness. Once you’ve revamped your space and reworked your filling and organizing systems, be sure to stick to them! Once per week, set aside time to take care of any filing or other organizational tasks that need to be done. If you keep up on the work, it won’t feel nearly as daunting.

Happy spring! Have fun reorganizing your space.


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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Who are you? This can be both a simple and a daunting question at the same time. To make things even more complicated, you might change in small ways from moment to moment, and in larger ways from year to year. You are not (nor should you be!) stagnant, and it’s natural to grow and evolve as you move forward in life.

That’s what being human is all about.

This past year (a year that seemed about a decade long at times!), you might have shifted more than usual. Many of us had to reinvent ourselves and adapt to new life situations as we worked from home, attended video conferences, tutored our children at home, and were less able to enjoy public spaces. Shaking up your basic lifestyle might have forced you to discover new sides of yourself or lean into underdeveloped sides. Maybe you realized you’re more extroverted and social than you thought you were. Maybe you found that you actually enjoy working at home and setting your own schedule. 

Whether or not this past year brought substantial change for you, the fact remains that you are a complex, multi-faceted person and it’s difficult to thrive if you’re not embracing your whole self. Yes, that means acknowledging your trouble spots, too. You can’t work on changing those trouble areas if you ignore their existence.

To me, owning who you are means…

…Sticking closely to your values

Though you may change slightly from day to day, your core values should not. Unless you’ve had a major change of heart and have had to re-examine some fundamental areas in your life, your values should be one of the consistent features of your personality. Embrace them; live by them. Don’t compromise your values for a promotion or to fit in with others.

…Recognizing your strengths and the areas where you struggle

Whether you recognize it or not, I know you are multi-talented with an array of valuable skills. Perhaps you’re an excellent listener or someone who is good at analyzing data. Perhaps you’re highly organized. Or, maybe you’re creative in certain areas or are an innovative thinker. Don’t be afraid to recognize your skills (or interests) and lean into them. Capitalizing on your abilities will not only benefit you, but also your co-workers and anyone else around you. Your skills are a gift—use them!

On the other side of the coin, it’s valuable to understand and face your shortcomings. You could take two approaches: 1) Think of them as “areas of opportunity” and do your best to learn or improve or 2) Recognize that certain tasks/methods/activities/etc. are not for you and stick to what you know. If, for example, you are well-aware that you are much more of a creative person than an analytical one, it’s better to entrust others with data analysis and data-driven strategy. You’ll be doing everyone (including yourself!) a favor if you focus on what you do best.

…Consistently being yourself

Have you ever met someone who acted completely different around different groups of people? They seemed to be one person, then another—changing personalities like shoes.

Behaving in such a way can be off-putting and can leave people wondering who the real you is. That isn’t to say you can’t modify your behavior in certain situations with certain people. Of course you’ll act differently if you’re grabbing a casual cup of coffee with friends than you would at a company meeting. However, your core self can (and should!) remain consistent. Think of yourself like an M&M that comes in a variety of different colors—you’re still chocolate in the middle! And you’re not morphing from an M&M to a Twix bar to a Gummy Bear.

In sum: it’s fine to present the many shades of your personality. It gets problematic when you’re willing to compromise your values or completely change your thoughts, opinions, or beliefs when you’re around certain people.

Own who you are.


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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Roaring river

For months, I’ve heard many people say, “I can’t wait until the elections are over.” While I understand the sentiment (it’s been an exhausting political season), all the rifts and hard feelings have not magically mended with the conclusion of the presidential election. If anything, the nation is as fraught as ever. How can we possibly bridge the gulf between people and start working together once more? What can you, as an individual, do?

I have a few thoughts:

1. Focus on People

No matter how different someone’s ideology is from your own, there’s a person behind the ideology. Start seeing that person as someone who loves and is loved–someone who has a family, friends, hopes and fears, financial troubles, and health issues. This is a person who pays a mortgage or rent, occasionally burns the pizza, and gets annoyed when their socks get wet from the rain.

In short, see the human behind the ideology. If we all started to do that, I guarantee our conversations would become more civil and we would find some common ground.

2. Focus on the Work

When it comes to co-workers, you may not agree 100% of the time, but you can always turn your attention to your common work assignments. When we collaborate with others and focus our energy on a shared project or initiative, we can set aside political differences for a time and start seeing others as co-workers, collaborators, and co-brainstormers. Recognizing that we CAN work alongside others and agree on certain things (no matter how trivial) is a big step toward mending larger rifts.

3. Spend Time With Individuals

One way to bridge a gap between yourself and someone with whom you do NOT see eye-to-eye is to meet with that person individually. In my experience, when you’re sitting across the table from someone, it is easy to find at least a few things you have in common, and focus on those things instead of your differences. You might talk about your family, your pets, the latest book you’ve read or show you’ve watched, or even the weather. Though you might think such surface-level conversations are meaningless, they’re truly not. Bridging gaps takes time, and it starts with individuals seeing the humanity in one another.

4. Find Commonalities

Instead of focusing on the things that divide us, focus on what unites us. At our core, most of us want the same things: Clean air and water, a healthy family, safety, good schools for the next generations, a decent job, affordable housing…the list goes on. Though many of us agree on the big picture goals, we get bogged down by how to meet those goals. THAT is where much division comes into play. We disagree about the methods for reaching those universal goals.

Once you realize that, you begin to see that “the other side” might not be so different from you after all. They probably want the same things in their lives, they just disagree on the means to get there.

Yes, I DO understand this is an over-simplification. Some differences between people and parties are significant, and it may be nearly impossible to reconcile them. However, I still think we can find commonalities between ourselves and those on the other side of the spectrum. We just have to look for them.

Though you may be feeling like a small fish in a wild, raging ocean, take heart! If we all decide to work toward relative harmony and understanding, we can get there eventually. Start recognizing the human behind the ideology, and go from there. Your example CAN make a difference.


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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