Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tracking Time Tips

Do you lose track of time and end up late for scheduled appointments because you need to straighten up every room you walk through...before you reach the door? you get annoyed with yourself because you're late?  That's me.  I purchased a simple device called a Time Timer which enables me to visually watch time elapse.  When it dings--and it only does so once--I have to stop the task I'm working on and leave.
TTA1 - Time Timer Audible (8") (Front)I also use the Time Timer when working with organizing clients.  The timer gets set for 60 minutes for the first hour of an organizing session, so we "see" how much time it takes us to evaluate/sort/organize contents of a box, or one area in a room.  We continue this way, except for the last hour when the timer gets set for 45-50 minutes.  The last few minutes are used for gathering tools, discussing progress made, and talking about goals for the next session. Clients pay attention to the Time Timer, notice when it "dings," and seem to speed up their decision-making the next time we work together.
Time Timer iPhone AppFellow Professional Organizer and Coach Megan Spears, Disorder2Order, finds the Time Timer I-Phone application useful for her two young sons when setting amounts of time allotted for reading and play.  Her comment, "It's awesome!"  The Time timer also works as a helpful tool for managing projects and homework.  Imagine the Time Timer's possibilities, especially for those of us challenged with keeping track of time with a more traditional method.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Three Networking Tips From Ellen Ely

"What Should Your Focus be as a Successful Networker?" was Ellen Ely's session topic at a recent National Association for Professional Organizers (NAPO) National Conference held in Baltimore, Maryland.

Ellen presented 19 networking tips and my favorite tip was to wear a "networking uniform" to a networking event. Her comments about this uniform:

1.  Wear a jacket with two pockets.  Use the right pocket for incoming business cards and the left pocket for your cards.  Once you receive a card, present your card to the other person...right away.  A two-pocket system keeps the two sets of cards separate and prevents handing out another person's card rather than your own (embarrassing situation).

2.  Wear a nice lapel pin/unusual earrings/necklace; men can wear a great tie.  The item you wear must have meaning to you, then people will notice and comment on it.  This technique works at other types of social events and at work too, especially if small talk is not your strong point.  My Texas sister and I were chatting about this topic and she mentioned commenting on a customer's unique necklace which led to an interesting dialogue.

3.  Write down identifying information about the other person on the back of their business card--in code.  Listen to what they have to say.  Once your conversation is finished, go into the restroom and add notes to help jog your memory the next time you meet.  Ellen said, "...You know information about them and they will love you for it.  Whatever you do, don't drop the card."
  • Start by writing down the phonetic spelling of their name; pronouncing their name correctly is most important.
  • Next, jot down their gender (F - female; M - male) and race (Ellen uses the government's racial code numbers for this purpose).
  • Code their hair, for example, S or short for haircut, R or red for color.
  • Draw two circles with a arch connecting the circles to indicate eye-glass wearer.
  • Married can be denoted with two circles touching each other.
  • Use the letter "K" for kids.
  • Body type symbols annotated with these letters:  CH - chubby; SK - skinny; AV - average, and so on. 
This quote from Stephanie Goddard Davidson's book, 101 Ways to Have a Great Day at Work, is not from Ellen's session; however, I thought it fit. 
Decide that every person that you come in contact with today can teach you something.  Be aware of this possibility and manage the conversation toward this outcome.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

How to Relieve Stress From Overwhelm

Karyn Greenstreet's 44Tips for Dealing with Overhwelm, in her April 2, 2012 eNewsletter, Self-Employed Success, provides "practical tips" for small business owners who have "...too many tasks and projects, and not enough time or resources."  Most of us experience this same state of overwhelm in our personal lives...some time; try Karyn's three useful tips to tame your overpowering task/project list:

1.  "Do it.  Sometimes, a bare-knuckle commitment to getting things done is necessary.  That pesky colonoscopy you've been putting off?  Do it.  That phone call to a disgruntled employee?  Do it.  That 3,000 word article?  Do it."

2.  "OMD:  Off My Desk.  Make a concerted effort to handle each item that comes across your desk ONCE.  do not stack it in a pile and think, 'I'll get back to it later.'  Each morning, make a clean sweep of your desk while reciting the mantra:  OMD, OMD, OMD."

3.  "Action alleviates anxiety.  Pick one high-priority task on your To Do list and do it.  Nothing relieves stress better than getting off your butt and taking action.  Don't fall in the trap of picking a low-priority task just because it is easy.  Do the things that matter."

Preventative measures to get us procrastinators moving!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Why do we accumulate a lot of emails?  Perhaps we don't want to deal with them, or maybe we save them for future needs.  There is a similarity between overflowing email in-boxes and piles of paper mail; both "stacks" represent unmade decisions.  Emails usually arrive daily and multiply quicker, without proper management, than mail delivered by the post person.

Five reasons I get behind in processing email

1.  Emails require action.
2.  Spider Solitaire snares my attention--until I win a game.
3.  Reading an action-packed novel is more enjoyable.
4.  My computer stays at home when I visit my Mom, for several days.
5.  Kitty drapes herself over my shoulder and needs to be held up and petted.

Five ways to reduce email accumulation:

1.  Sort email by "From."  This method seems organized, whereas arrangement by "Subject" or "Receive" appears jumbled and takes longer.  Process those emails that require a response--first.
2.  "Unsubscribe" to emails sent daily or weekly from airlines, bookstores, and catalogs, etc.
3.  Reduce the number of your email accounts, especially if you seldom look at them.
4.  Ask friends to cease sending chain-letter type emails, jokes, and/or forwards, if burdensome.
5.  Read and process 10 emails before playing 3 games of Spider Solitaire, or reading 5 pages in a book.

Before you start to tackle email clutter, ask and answer these questions:  "Why am I putting off processing this email?  Do I really need to save it?  Can this information be found elsewhere?"  Choose a time of day that works best for you to read and act on your emails.  It works!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Tips On How to Preserve Photographs

How and where do you store your photographs?  Rita Norton and Brina Bolanz asked this question at a recent National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) Oregon Chapter meeting.  Yes, one of our answers was--shoeboxes--along with photo albums and plastic boxes; storage places mentioned were attics, basements, closets, drawers, and garages.  
       Rita is a training specialist with the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO), and Brina is a photo archivist and personal historian who owns Restored StoriesBoth organize and showcase photographs (in different ways) for a living; their websites provide greater detail about organizing, storing, and preserving paper and digital photographs for future generations to enjoy.
       Rita and Brina shared several tips and a few are listed below to help you get started with your photo preservation project:
Rita Recommends:
1.  Gather all your photographs into one place and sort them into these categories:
  • Photographs that tell a story and are photo-album worthy
  • Photographs you want to keep, but not necessarily share
  • Photographs destined for the trash container as family members are unable to recognize faces and places and because they are unlabeled. 
2.  Scan your photographs into your computer, then use a free program such as Picasa, an image organizer and viewer, for organizing and editing your digital photographs.

3.  Back up your files!  Use one of these:
  • Gold DVDs, purported to last 100-300 years
  • External hard drive
  • Cloud storage: 
          - advertises:  "Access Your Files From Anywhere Anytime, From Any Device"                - advertises:  "Simple. Safe. Secure."
Brina Suggests:
1.  Proper storage is essential to preserve photographs.
  • Light, temperature extremes, water and humidity, and gases given off by chemicals in household products can cause degradation.
  • Use only materials that pass the Photographic Activity Test (P. A. T.), administered by American National Standards Institute (ANSI), rather than products labeled "Acid Free," a term not regulated by the Federal government.  These products may be purchased from photography stores, or online from:  
          - Archival Methods:
          - Gaylord Brothers:
          - Hollinger Metal Edge:
          - University Products:

2.  Label your photographs because they are not useful without identifying information:
  • Use a 4B (soft) graphite pencil for all-paper photos and write on a hard, flat surface, preferably glass, to avoid damaging the front of the photograph.
  • Write names, life dates, location, and event (if known) along the top or bottom edge of the back of the photograph.
  • Write women's maiden names in parentheses.
       Switch from shoebox to computer storage; back up your files and keep a second copy in your safe deposit box to avoid unforeseeable loss of treasured photographs due to damage and destruction by fires and floods.  Write down your parent's and family's genealogy information and label old family photographs...before photographs and memories' fade.  Once our WWII veterans (our parents for some of us)--and other family members pass, so too do the details of their lives.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Quick Steps Move You

       Do you make to-do lists to tidy your home and complete work projects?  I do.  Finishing one job and crossing it off this list inspires me to do another.  Each lined-off task moves me on to the next.   
       Some days...I don't make a list and would rather "shut the door" on an untidy room...and nothing more.  Does that happen to you?  If it does, my friend and fellow organizer Jill Viglione, owner of Embrace Your Space, suggests we:  Take ten tiny actions.  These may be as minute as turning off a light in an unused room; putting away a pot holder in a kitchen drawer; or rinsing off one dirty dish.  Finish one, cross it off your mental list, and then complete another little chore...until you've reached your goal of ten. Taking care of each little job is a reward in itself; and it might inspire you to bring order to an entire room.  If others live with you, invite them to join in the fun and share in the maintenance of your home.
       You can use this method on any space, room, or for paper pileups. Try it! It's fast and it gets you moving!