Meet Julie Morgenstern, Author of Never Check Email In The Morning, Time to Parent and Organizing from the Inside Out.
Julie Morgenstern is an organizing & productivity consultant, New York Times best-selling author, and speaker. For over 30 years, Julie has been teaching people all around the world and at all stages of life how to overcome disorganization to achieve their goals. Her mission is to free each individual to make their unique contribution to the world—by helping them design their own systems for managing time and space that feel natural and are easy to maintain. This Inside Out approach to organizing everything gives readers, listeners, and clients the energy and knowledge they need to get (and stay) organized.
Julie is a hiitide partner and her 28 day micro-course on her New York Times best selling book, Never Check Email In The Morning is always available on hiitide. Sign up here.
Through practical, dynamic workshops and coaching sessions, Julie and her team help organizations around the globe identify what’s holding their people back and get on the road to fulfilling their mission quickly. Past clients include American Express, Hearst, HARPO, Deloitte, Microsoft, FedEx, GlaxoSmithKline, the NBC-Newsroom, the NYC Mayor’s Office, Sony Music, State Farm Insurance and Viacom/MTV.
As a speaker, media personality and corporate spokesperson, Julie is known for her passionate, articulate style and warm sense of humor. She has written columns for O Magazine, Redbook, and Wells Fargo, helping readers solve problems by inspiring order in their lives. She has shared her expertise on countless TV and radio outlets, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, The Rachael Ray Show, The Today Show, Good Morning America, and The National Public Radio. She is quoted and featured regularly in a wide variety of publications and has been seen in The New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, Best Life, O Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Fitness Magazine and Men’s Health.
Julie is as crisp and engaging in her books as in person. She helps readers diagnose the causes of their disorganization, make mindset changes through insightful metaphors, and master simple technical skills they may be lacking. Julie is the author of the New York Times bestselling Organizing from the Inside Out and Time Management from the Inside Out, both of which have been developed into popular specials for PBS. Julie and her teenage daughter, Jessi Morgenstern-Colon, co-authored Organizing from the Inside Out for Teens. Her workplace productivity and work-life balance book, Never Check Email in the Morning, is the basis for a training and coaching program conducted for the Fortune 500 and businesses worldwide. Julie’s book Shed Your Stuff, Change Your Life shows people how to use the process of decluttering to ‘get unstuck’ in their lives. Julie’s latest book, Time to Parent, presents a revolutionary framework that frees parents to savor time both with their kids and on their own, from birth through college.
Many people have an unique path that leads them to their calling and Julie is no exception
Julies gives us the full story of how she got into this work:
I was once a notoriously disorganized person. From the day I was born until the birth of my own child, I lived in a constant state of chaos. I was a classic, right-brained creative type, operating out of piles, spending half my days searching for things. I lost absolutely everything you could possibly imagine. The usual little stuff: keys, watches, umbrellas, gloves, wallets—things you simply stop buying after a while.
I would lose big things, too. I actually lost someone’s car once.
I was one of those people who lived “in the moment”—spontaneous and charming, but never planning more than one minute into the future. As a result, I was always scrambling and frequently didn’t get things done on time, either because I forgot I had to do them, or because I couldn’t find whatever I needed to get the task done.
The truth was, no matter how disorganized I was, I always seemed to pull things off. Somehow, by the skin of my teeth, I always made it to events, produced high quality work, pleased my teachers and my employers. I felt charmed somehow, a bit invincible.
My day of reckoning came when I had a baby. When she was three weeks old, I decided it’d be a beautiful day to take her for a walk by the waterfront. When she got up from a nap, my husband went to get the car, and I went to get Jessi. Suddenly I realized, “Hey, I should probably take along a few supplies!” What did I need? Let’s see, diapers, a blanket… Oh, yes, a little sweater, and maybe a toy or two.
I started running around the house, gathering items. Every time I thought I was ready, I’d think of something else to bring. By the time I was packed up, more than 2 hours had passed and Jessi had fallen back asleep. I looked down at my innocent baby asleep in her crib. I had missed the moment. I truly believed my child would not have a full life because I was disorganized. And that seemed profoundly unfair.
So I told my husband that the walk was called off, and I sat down to organize the diaper bag. Staring at all the items I had gathered for our outing, I began by grouping all the supplies into categories that made sense to me: things to keep her warm with in one group (blanket, change of clothes, sweater); things to feed her with in another group (water bottle, pacifier); things to change her with in another (diapers, wipes, powder); and finally things to entertain her with (toys, music for the car).
Then I assigned each category of items to a particular section of the bag, so that I could quickly get my hands on items when I needed them and know at a glance if anything was missing. When I was finished, I wrote out an inventory of what belonged in the bag because I thought, “I never want to go through this process again!” I ended by tucking the inventory into its own special pocket in the bag as well, to make restocking the bag easy. Ba-Boom! I had done it! That bag was organized! I felt powerful. I felt liberated.
That diaper bag was the first thing I ever successfully organized. And though it sounds small, it was truly significant to me. Because it wasn’t about the diaper bag. It was about being able to take care of my child. Never again would my daughter miss an opportunity because I wasn’t ready.
And isn’t that what being organized is all about? It’s about being ready. Ready for the phone to ring by a friend to drop over for a welcome visit. Ready to pursue your passions. Ready to jump on career opportunities, and react on your toes to surprises. Instead of stuck behind looking for your keys…
Many clients and readers wonder why was this attempt at getting organized so successful, when all my other efforts had been in vain? It was because, for the first time, I saw something on the other side of the clutter that I wanted. I saw being organized as a means to a much higher goal: the ability to serve my child. Breakthrough never occurs when you are looking at the mess. Organizing is not the destination; it’s the gateway to your higher goals.
And because I started small. For the next six months, all that was organized was that diaper bag. After that, I tackled other areas of my house—my drawers, my closets, papers, and so on—always using the same basic approach I used to organize that diaper bag. The rest, as they say, is history. I had happily discovered that organizing is a very straightforward skill, learnable even by the likes of someone as once hopelessly disorganized as me.
It has become my professional mission in life to help every person who feels trapped by chaos or burdened by rigid organizing systems make that same life-changing discovery. So, no matter how long you have been disorganized, and no matter what form of clutter is keeping you from achieving your goals, there is hope. What do you see on the other side of the clutter? I promise we can get you there.
Recently Julie sat down with hiitide members to have a live discussion about her micro-course on Never Check Email In The Morning:
Q: What was your writing process for Never Check Email In The Morning?
A: For all of my books I have learned the same basic approach, which I learned from other writers very early on when I wrote my first book, Organizing from the Inside Out. At the time I was asking myself, “How do you actually get a book done?” So I talked to 10 different people who had published books and asked them how they did it. I asked things like: How much time do you spend writing? When do you write? How do you get the job done?. I heard the same basic message over and over again, which was that you need to write at the same exact time every day and not wait for inspiration to find you or for the muse to show up. I was told that if you write at the same time every day the Muse knows where to find you. “That was really a game changer for me.”
“Also, most people that I talked to said they couldn’t write for any more than four hours a day.” Writers said they might edit in the afternoon if they were a full time writer but four hours was a max for a part time or full time writer of how much they can create.
As for the details of how I organize the work, first, I create an outline of the book. You have to conceptualize the book before you start writing it, you can’t just take off and see where it takes you. “I don’t do it that way, not for the kind of writing that I do.” To do that I have to ask, “What’s the book about? What are the chapters? What’s the outline?”
In the beginning I start a folder for every single chapter. The idea is if I’m working on one chapter and I think of something for a future chapter I don’t have to stop and go to the next chapter. I can drop the idea into that folder for future use when I get to that part of the book. This is a way of collecting ideas. “Because when you write you may be working sequentially but you don’t think sequentially.” So I would just drop things in, and then when it was time to do that chapter, I’d have whatever tidbits I’d thrown in there plus new thoughts.
Then the last thing I would say about the writing process is what I learned from Anne Lamott in her book Bird by Bird. For anybody who’s a writer, has ever written anything or ever tried to write a book, her book is the Bible for anybody who gets stuck writing. It’s a very short and fantastic book. She has this concept, “shitty first drafts.” The idea is that you just have to get the first thing out from beginning to end. Don’t write and polish as you go, just write and worry about the polishing later. Once I read that, I started to write that way and I would get a draft done in a week. I gave myself two weeks a chapter, power out that crappy first draft, go through, clean it up as best I can and then move on and move on and move on. Every two weeks I generated a chapter, and then at the end I would go through and really fine tune.
For anybody who struggles with writing, organizing the work is the hardest part. Once you show up in the seat for your daily writing practice, whether you get two sentences out, three pages or a whole chapter out it doesn’t matter. Something happens every day if you show up consistently.
Every book feels like a miracle. You can’t even fathom how you got to the end.
To put it as simple as possible Julie focuses on these main areas when it comes to writing a book:
- Talk to professionals who have already done it.
- Committed practice- Show up every day, at the same time and only go to your threshold.
- Create an outline- Don’t dive in without some plan and idea.
- What’s the book about?
- What are the chapters about?
- Create a folder for future ideas- She says that we don’t think sequentially. Sometimes ideas will come up for future chapters and we need to find a place to store them for future reference.
- Write a shitty first draft– Instead of worrying about grammar, structure, etc.., as you write, just write organically and come back to revise later. Writing and revising are using two different parts of the brain and it’s better to focus on one at a time and give space to allow the ideas to flow onto the page without judgement.
Julie has even more to offer in her micro-course with hiitide. Look at the benefits you’ll receive from taking her course:
- Implementable new habits to become a better co-worker
- An opportunity to assess your work/life
- Strategies to become more effective and efficient in the workplace
- Pull techniques that will allow you to delegate work and create more time for yourself
- Ways to optimize your work/life balance
In today’s video (linked above), Jocko Willink, an organizational and leadership coach, will walk you through a strategy on how to take an honest look at yourself. Truly insightful! After you listen, come back to reflect below.
Throughout this course, we will be working to identify some of the problems with our work life and learn how to use Julie Morgenstern’s strategies from Never Check Email in the Morning to fix them. One main question that we will see over and over again while reading this book is, “Is it you or is it them?”
To better understand the situation, we have to know who we are and be brutally honest about it. Optimistically, we want to believe we are in the top-tier of performers, and we may be. But, if not, we need to identify where we fall short and use the techniques in the course to help us get there.
The Three Major Work-Performance Tiers:
“Top Tier (20%): These are the star performers and high achievers (who can appear in any position in the company). They are tuned into the company’s mission and make it flourish. Do everything you can to keep them happy and motivated. They deserve all the extra attention and recognition you can afford.
Middle Tier (60%): Most employees, he explained, do a reliable, respectable, straightforward job. They aren’t perfect, make mistakes, but they are generally on target and aim to please. They should be treated fairly and respectfully and rewarded in normal, regular increments.
Bottom Tier (20%): These are the under-performers who rarely pull their weight, drag everyone else down, and don’t care about their work. They’re a bad match for your company. If you can’t replace them right away, move them into low-stakes jobs until you can. Don’t waste your efforts trying to fix them.
I’ve since learned that many bosses and managers follow a similar rule of thumb, with a few variations. Some speak of a 10%-80%-10% ratio, others divide it as 20% – 70% – 10%. Regardless of the numbers, all tend to think in terms of a bell-curve scheme, which guides the time and resources they invest in their employees.
Of course, the only true security at work comes from being solidly in the top tier. But it’s not as easy as it used to be to climb to the top. Fierce competition poses a great challenge, but what also makes it tricky is that the rules can change on you. If your industry changes focus, your old skills may not be so useful anymore. During tough times, what an employer can afford to provide even to top-tier employees may not be much, which can send a confusing message—making you wonder where you really stand.”
-Never Check Email in the Morning | Self Assessment
This message from Julie rings true more now than possibly ever before. When the world is shifting so much due to pandemics, technology, and a variety of other factors, we don’t always feel secure in our position. A changing climate calls for adaptability.
Where do you think you fall right now in that bell curve scheme?
- Top 20%
- Middle 60%
- Bottom 20%
Where would you like to be in the bell curve scheme? Why?
Let’s do a shorter version of the exercise Jocko suggested in today’s video. Think of one employee or someone you report to, like a boss or manager. How do you think they perceive you?
Based on this information, what shortfalls do you see? How well are you representing yourself? **Remember: Detach, look, refine
Week 1:Embracing Work/Life Balance
Week 2: Taking Ownership
Week 3: Organizing like Hell
Week 4: Strength in Sharing