Why Write a Personal Mission Statement?

Do you have a personal mission statement?

Most of us think of mission statements in corporate terms. Large corporations, non-profit organizations, universities, and philanthropies have mission statements. These messages are usually directed toward the people involved in the organization as well as the person who would buy their product, enroll in their school, or donate to their cause.

academic planners3They tell you where your money is going. They explain why—why they exist, why they want your money, why they do the things they do, and how they hope to accomplish more with your help.

Could such a statement help you? Might your actions improve if you based your decisions on a set of solid core values?

The strongest mission statements are simple. Nordstrom’s mission statement for example states: “At Nordstrom, our goal is to provide outstanding service every day, one customer at a time.”

When you shop at Nordstrom, more often than not, you experience that mission statement firsthand. That’s why people shop there again and again. It certainly isn’t because their prices are the lowest, it’s because they feel valued when they are there. The experience is worth the price. Similarly, many fine restaurants are more devoted to the ambiance and courteous service than they are to their food, because they recognize that you can cook your own great food. It’s the total experience that you pay for.

But what about us, personally—could we benefit in the same way? Could it be possible for people to know us simply by the way they feel when we were around them, or by the quality of our work?

Mission statements work because they give direction to every action that organizations, like Nordstrom, take. Successful organizations base their company standards on their mission statement. The mission statement molds company culture and affects the way employees treat each other and their customers. Because of that, you could blindfold a person and place them in the center of Nordstrom, and within moments they would know where they were. You could do the same at Wal-Mart.

A mission statement that we believe in will change us for the better. But that’s the key—we need to believe in it. At some places, like high-end fashion boutiques, the experience is worth the price—at others, such as big box warehouse supermarkets, the price is worth the experience.

Here’s the thing, perception is reality. We create our own reality by the way we, ourselves, and others perceive us. A personal mission statement is one more tool to help us ensure that our actions are in tune with what matters most to us. Although we can’t completely control how others perceive us, we can control the way we choose to act and the things we choose to do with our time. We can work to ensure that our actions support the way we perceive who we are and who we want to become. As we align our actions with our personal mission statements we become who we hope to be. Over time, those intentional daily decisions will affect the way others feel about us and the way we feel about ourselves.

Your personal mission statement is usually derived from your list of core values. As you spend time focused on those values that matter most to you, you’ll begin to see a few common themes woven through them. Those common themes will become the basis of your personal mission statement. Perhaps your themes are self-improvement and serving others. Maybe you’ll find that you want to improve your personal traits and skills so you can serve your family and friends more completely. (We’ll talk more about how to write a personal mission statement in a later post.)

Can you imagine how your planning sessions might improve if you had your own personal mission statement—a center post that supported all your actions and motivated your daily decisions?

In the olden days of film photography there was a term called a latent image. A latent image is the image burned into film or photo paper from the light exposed to it. That image came alive in the darkroom with the proper application of developer, stop bath, and rinse water. For a photographer, there are few experiences more thrilling and enlightening than watching that latent image appear.

We’re guessing you have a latent personal mission statement that has been formed by the things you’ve been exposed to throughout your life. That silent theme motivates the things you do. Not everything you’ve experienced has been joyful—some of it has been hard, even painful. Yet, this exposure to your world has given you your own unique perspective. Your perspective, the way you see yourself, others, and the world around you—and the way you hope to see them, shapes your dreams. Your personal mission statement gives those dreams direction, and it will be an even greater force in your life as soon as you develop it and bring it into the light.

So take a minute today and seriously consider what truly matters most to you—and why. As you do, you’ll discover your own mission statement and add greater purpose to your actions.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

All You Need To Know About Time Management

By Carmen Coker

When it comes to your life, would you categorize yourself as…

a. A highly effective person?
b. A moderately effective person?
c. A poorly effective person?

Now, here is the cold, hard truth about your answer, no matter which it may be: YOU CAN BE BETTER.

Granted, this very truth brings up the million-dollar question: how?

The answer is simpler than you think! Better yet, the effects are immediate. Even better still, it is a rinse-and-repeat system that will take your time management and productivity skills to new heights.

The Big Reveal

In life, there are those individuals who are goal-setters and those who are goal-getters. A goal-setter is someone who either likes the idea of or is very good at setting goals, but doesn’t put the necessary actions behind them. As such, the goals never come to life and remain well-meaning (but worthless) words on paper. On the other hand, a goal-getter doesn’t just set and believe in goals, but also has the follow-through to achieve them.

Dr. Stephen R. Covey wrote about the secret of goal-getters in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “The key is not to prioritize your schedule but to schedule your priorities.”

A-ha! Much of what comes into your day – emails, text messages, phone calls, meetings, snail mail, conversations – they are just vehicles for other people’s priorities in your life. If you always schedule in “all that stuff” first, then there will always be little to no room for your own priorities, goals, and dreams.

The Ins & Outs

This is the very reason why you should trust your priorities to help you make decisions, infuse your priorities into your daily routines, and stick to your priorities, no matter what challenges you face. In the end, doing so is the best way to avoid common time-sinks like lack of focus and procrastination.

Here are three guidelines to defining your priorities and becoming a goal-getter who is the envy of everyone around you:

1 – Deep down, you are driven by a set of core values and principles. For example, maybe you are motivated by faith, family, excellence, independence, love, power, honesty, wealth – or maybe a mixture of. From the get-go, decide what these values are. They will set the tone for your goal-getting success.

2 – Brainstorm the wish list of objectives that you would like to accomplish, either in the short-term or long-term. Next, break this wish list down into projects and tasks.

3 – Calendar out the projects and tasks in order of importance and also set a date for project completion.

REMEMBER: act as the gatekeeper for your time. Before putting anything on your schedule, ask if it will support your priorities – fully, partially, or not at all. While there will be surprises and unavoidable hiccups here and there, stick to your schedule as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

Your priorities act as your internal compass, helping you to stay focused, make clear decisions, and feel balanced and fulfilled. A highly productive person uses his/her values to guide every step, including how and where to spend time. Here’s how you can learn more and get started today!

Ready for more time in your life? Download your FREE copy of The Ultimate Productivity Planner™ right now, and start saving 90 minutes (or more) every day…even if you think time management is a myth!

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Finding Time – As Seen In The Washington Post

By Carmen Coker

Would you agree that FINDING TIME for your most important life goals is often difficult to do when you are juggling a busy schedule?

What’s worse, for the time-starved, the ick factor doesn’t just stop at the basic frustration of not finding time! These nasty feelings come right along with it:

  • Unfulfilled (Am I ever going to…? I said I wanted to do that years ago.)
  • Uninspired (I do the same thing day in, day out. I can’t ever seem to squeeze in some fun!)
  • Unhappy (This is not the way I want my life to be. I want to dream, explore, live! But instead I feel like I’m just existing.)
  • Undone (I always do and do for everyone else, but what about me?!)
  • Unorganized (Others seem to be moving and shaking through life. Am I the only one who can’t get it together?)

There’s no doubt about it – if you remain disconnected from your life goals and aspirations, big or small, you will always feel unbalanced and unsatisfied.

Take Deb Hardy, for example. Deb is a 48-year-old creative spirit who lives in Seattle. When I first met Deb, by day, she enjoyed her job at a large technology firm, so much so that she put all her energy into it. But, by night, she had little to nothing left for anything else when she got home, except a little TV watching and internet surfing.

What Deb discovered was that work, TV, and internet didn’t truly feed her soul – she really wanted to find time for art. She explained that “I’ve started to feel like a fraud. I call myself an artist, but I’m not making any art.”

Compounding her general dissatisfaction, Deb admitted: “I have this mental block, where I feel life is all about obligation, drudgery, doing what I should do, making other people happy, never disappointing anyone. I must have been a Puritan in a former life.”

Can you relate? All work and no play, well…you know the how the saying ends.

Fortunately, through The Washington Post’s Timehacker project, I was paired with Deb to help her solve the problem of finding time to live her life more fully and creatively.

Here are the top finding-time tips and takeaways from our sessions:

  1. Identify your top five values. Once you do, it’s easier to see if your actions are in line with your values. And if they’re not, once you have a clearer idea of what’s important, you’ll have more impetus to change.
  2. Schedule time for fun first, before anything else. Otherwise, you’re trying to “squeeze” it in, and that rarely works. When you schedule something, it shows it’s significant to you, and you’re more likely to follow through and make it real.
  3. Figure out what you have to let go of in order to make time for what you really want. Ask people you trust for their honest opinions and constructive feedback of how you spend your time.
  4. Find the space, not just in the calendar, but the physical space, to create art, and make the space inviting and organized, so you’ll be drawn to spend time there.

You can read more about Deb’s journey to finding time, including how she applied the above tips (and more!) to her life and what challenges she overcame in doing so, in the full article in The Washington Post.

In the end, Deb realized that she had not made “fun and play a priority for many, many years.” Which is why, she created this artwork to inspire:

Deb Hardy art

Artwork by Deb Hardy

Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted. Well said, Deb! Truth is, you can’t be your most productive self unless you take time to relax, rejuvenate, and regroup – and enjoy your life goals as you go.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. Thousands of busy people have benefited from her expertise featured by CBS, NBC, The Washington Post and Real Simple magazine – now it’s your turn! If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

3 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Organizing Goals

By Carmen Coker

If you want to get organized and stay organized, you may need to change how you approach the process in order to get the most out of it. Common organizing mistakes such as picking out the wrong organizers may be the reason why you can’t get organized even though you’re giving it your all. Here are three typical problems people encounter when trying to get organized – and how to fix them – getting you back on the path to big organizing results.

Problem 1: You copy an organizing idea that looks good on paper.

Ever tried an organizing idea from a magazine, and it never really worked for you? The reason this failure likely happens is you try to achieve an organizing ideal – or what you believe organizing should be – instead of organizing according to your own rules. Break this pattern by crafting systems that work with your habits, routines, personality, and lifestyle – systems you love – rather than trying to copy what looks good in glossy magazines.

Problem 2: You try to accomplish too much organizing at once.

It’s a safe bet that the clutter in your life did not build up overnight. It likely has taken days, weeks, months, or maybe even years to become so … messy! In the same respect, getting rid of clutter is typically not an overnight success. For you, as it is for many people, this realization can become so overwhelming that it stops you in your tracks. Counteract this overwhelm by breaking larger organizing projects into smaller, bite-sized tasks. Then (realistically) schedule those tasks on your calendar, and follow through.

Problem 3: You don’t use flexible storage and organizing solutions.

To illustrate what a flexible storage option is, it’s best to describe what it is not. For example, non-adjustable shelves might hinder your organizing attempts, as you could run into dimension issues. Avoid this setback altogether by investing in organizers that can adapt to your personal needs, ones that modify, extend or retract, move, or otherwise give you additional flexibility.

How have these common organizing mistakes sabotaged your organizing goals? Please let me know your thoughts, experiences, ideas, and other comments below.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. Thousands of busy people have benefited from her expertise featured by CBS, NBC, The Washington Post and Real Simple magazine – now it’s your turn! If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

This Idea Will Change The Way You Organize Your Time

By Carmen Coker

A popular Zen parable tells of a Wanderer who happened upon a raging river. He wanted to cross it, but there was no bridge.

Afraid to wade across the river on foot with such a strong current, he spent hours building his own raft from vines and trees, which ultimately carried him safely to the other side.

However, once across the river, he thought to himself: “This is a good raft; I might need it again if I must forge another river.”

So the Wanderer carried the raft with him for the rest of his life.

The Big Reveal

From the outside looking in, the Wanderer’s decision might seem ridiculous. Why would this obviously resourceful guy carry a heavy raft around when he didn’t need to do so?

Often times, we make this same decision in our own life. In doing so, we hang on to something that was useful at one point but has since become irrelevant clutter.

Now, your “rafts” may come in various shapes and forms – maybe it’s too many commitments, maybe it’s a poor-fit household routine, or maybe it’s too much stuff. No matter, the underlying question remains the same: Is this clutter in your schedule, in your work, in your life holding you back?

The Ins & Outs

It’s important to be fiercely protective of not only your time and how you spend it, but also your space and what you bring into it. Wise decisions about your time and space allow you to preserve these precious resources, whereas foolish decisions can do just the opposite.

No one wants to play the fool! So to help you make those wise decisions – and help you release the “rafts” that are taking over your calendar, wasting your time, and diminishing your space – answer these five questions:

1. What areas of my home/work life could benefit from systems like checklists, automation, etc?

2. What commitments no longer support my top priorities and should be erased from my calendar?

3. Where does clutter stop me from enjoying and/or fully utilizing my home/office space, and how can the clutter be removed?

4. Where do I waste time and/or procrastinate throughout the day, and how can I stop doing so?

5. What are the biggest things about my life that I/my family complain about, and how can I/we smartly resolve these issues?

The Bottom Line

“Rafts” that clutter your mind, your time, and your space (amongst others!) are all stumbling blocks to your best life. A highly organized and productive person understands that doing less and having less often means creating more time and space for the things that truly matter.

So…where can you remove clutter that may be hindering your quality of life?

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. Thousands of busy people have benefited from her expertise featured by CBS, NBC, The Washington Post and Real Simple magazine – now it’s your turn! If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

When To-Do Lists Don’t Work

By Carmen Coker

Generally speaking, a list is a good thing because …

When you write a list, it helps you focus. When you follow a list, it keeps you on track and moving toward list completion. And when you cross off list items, you feel productive.

And yet, despite proven results and positive qualities, lists don’t always work for everyone, every time because …

When you have to make a list, it means you have lots to accomplish. When you have lots to accomplish, you suddenly don’t want to do anything but sit on your couch, watch TV, and eat ice cream.

In other words, making a list is making you procrastinate. At this point, you’ve entered into a mind-game between your lazy self and your productive self, and your lazy self is winning!

If you find yourself in a similar situation, I encourage you to fight back by creating a NOT To-Do List to help you get organized.

The NOT To-Do List is exactly as the name implies – a list of things you do not want to do.

For example …

The Not To-Do List for Housekeeping

  • Throw shoes by the front door
  • Let mail pile up on the kitchen counter
  • Forget to file bills at the end of month

The NOT To-Do List for Time Management

  • Hit the “snooze” button on the alarm more than once
  • Check email more than 2 times per day
  • Turn on TV while getting ready for work

With the NOT To-Do List, you’re giving your lazy self permission to be lazy while, at the same time, giving your productive self permission to get things done.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. Thousands of busy people have benefited from her expertise featured by CBS, NBC, and Real Simple magazine – now it’s your turn! If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Last-Minute Tax Organizing Tips

By Carmen Coker

In the words of Dave Barry, “It’s income tax time again…time to gather up those receipts, get out those tax forms, sharpen up that pencil, and stab yourself in the aorta.”

Filing taxes = huge pain. We all know it. We all go through it once a year. And while there’s no way around tax season, there is a way to make the process less stressful – preparation. A little bit of preparation can make a huge difference in your tax filing experience, whether you do so weeks in advance or at the last minute. Not only can it help you get your tax refund faster if you qualify, but it can also help you avoid the high levels of stress normally associated with finishing your taxes.

If you’d love to come out the other end of tax season unscathed, then here are the best organizing tips to help you do just that. Think: T–A–X–E–S!

(1) Tally: Decide how many hours you need for tax prep. 

First, choose a final date, such as “I want to be done with my taxes by April 10th.” Then work your timetable backwards from that date, planning around your work schedule, family responsibilities, and extracurriculars.

Second, think about how long it has taken you in the past to complete your taxes. If six hours of tax prep has been enough previously, then this year will likely be no different unless you had major changes in your life. So pencil in two hours on your calendar for three days between now and April 10th, or maybe one hour each evening for the next week.

(2) Assemble: Gather all tax-related documents.

Search your files, baskets, and bins. Your objective? To find any and all receipts, canceled checks, and other papers that support an item of income or deduction. Plus, be on the lookout for important tax forms like W-2s and 1099s in the mail.

Don’t forget about the charitable donations you’ve made over the last year! TurboTax ItsDeductible™ is a free software that tracks and adds your donations year-round and accurately determines the value of your donated items.

(3) X-cessorize: Compliment your tax prep efforts.

I’m not talking shoes and purses here! It’s all about storage. Now that you’ve got each and every one of your tax documents assembled, they must be organized in one central location, so as not to get lost.

There are lots of different tax organizers that can keep your tax papers in order.  If you’re not into fancy-schmancy, then you can dress ‘em down with the oldie but goodie manila envelope.

(4) Evaluate: Assess how you want to file your return.

Will you prepare your return personally or will your accountant? Are you eligible for free help at an IRS office or volunteer site? Will you purchase tax prep software or e-file online?

There are many possibilities to consider! Weigh them all and find the option that best suits your needs. These variables may require modifications to your tally and time line. If so, refer back to #1.

(5) Schedule: Make a date to officially file your return.

If you’re doing your own taxes, make an appointment with yourself. If a tax rep is doing your taxes, promptly make an appointment with that individual. In either case, schedule asap – before the calendar fills up – and schedule a date several days ahead of the April 15th filing deadline, just in case a contingency comes up and you need more time to complete the filing process.

Remember: It’s never too early to start tax prep for next year! Looking ahead prevents a last-minute tax crunch and all the pressure that comes with it.

How do you get organized for tax season? I’d love to find out! Please share your thoughts, experiences, ideas, and other comments below.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. Thousands of busy people have benefited from her expertise featured by CBS, NBC, and Real Simple magazine – now it’s your turn! If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

The Top 5 Reasons Why You Can’t Get Organized

By Carmen Coker

Getting organized means…quality of life…high levels of energy and productivity…creating space in your home and life for the things that really matter…being fully present. Getting organized is a huge part of being all you can be physically, mentally, emotionally, and more.

Given these amazing benefits, what’s stopping you from getting organized? Here are the TOP 5 reasons why you can’t get organized:

1 – Can’t break free from the daily grind

Whether you’ve got one small organizing project to tackle, or you’re looking to organize your entire house, the question becomes: “How do I fit in organizing in between breakfast and morning meetings…diapers and dinner…laundry and housekeeping…Scandal and bedtime?”

Being perpetually trapped in the day-to-day could mean another year (or two, three, or more) passes you by – and still you are no closer to your organizing goals.

2 – Not being prepared for common situations

There are some spots that need organizing regularly, like mail, toys, and clothes. I bet if I ask you to list off the clutter hot spots in your home or the ways in which you waste time, you could list them 1, 2, 3 – without much thought.

You likely know the moments that make you disorganized, and if you let them, these moments will continue to steal away your hope of getting organized.

3 – Not connected to your why-power

Just saying “I want to get organized” will not sustain you. Why? It shows that you are interested in enjoying the many positives that organizing affords, but you aren’t 100% committed to doing what it takes to fully realize those positives in your own life.

If getting organized – whether it’s your kitchen or your attic or your files – is not connected to your why-power (aka your deepest motivator), then you’ll easily fall off the get-organized wagon.

4 – Don’t know what you don’t know

In order for getting organized to work for you, you need a complete organizing system, or know-how. Know-how generally consists of more than just tips like “to organize your shelves do this”. These are what I call surface tips, since they tend to repair the surface of things, and often just for a short time.

If you don’t have the know-how or don’t have access to the know-how, then getting organized can be an uphill climb.

5 – Too many negative influencers

Negative influencers are anyone or anything that hinders your organizing progress, either intentionally or unintentionally (spouse, kids, parents, pets). Despite your best efforts to get and stay organized, these guys just get in the way.

Not understanding how to deal with negative influencers will have nothing but a negative effect on your organizing success.

Did you know…there are not just five reasons why people can’t get organized – there are 26 total? Good news! All of the reasons can be easily fixed. To learn more, go here http://bit.ly/GetTotallyOrganized now. Let me show you how to say goodbye to clutter and finally create the home and life you desire (and deserve)!

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Solve This Productivity Riddle and Save 10+ Hours of Time, Every Time

by Carmen Coker

Riddle me this: What is something that is no-cost to do, but if not done, is very costly? Hint: the answer has to do with time management, goal setting, and being productive in your home, work, and life.

The Big Reveal

If you answered “plan,” then you are close. If you answered “planning,” then you are spot-on! While the former is important, it shouldn’t be confused with or used in lieu of the latter.

Reason being, plans are pretty. Plans make us feel productive. Plans are what people should have. Life plan – check! Career plan – check! Weekend plan – check!

The problem is this: a plan easily becomes stagnant and outdated. More often than not, as soon as a plan is created, it is in need of revision, even though it may be just days (or hours) old and even though a lot of time and effort likely went into the making of.

Planning, on the other hand, is dynamic. It is the action to a plan’s inaction, and it always moves you and your life forward.

This is a vital distinction that successful people have been making for years. Case in point: Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was one of only five U.S. Army officers to ever wear five stars (and, oh yeah, who was also the 34th U.S. President), once explained: “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

The Ins & Outs

In any endeavor, not just in battle, Eisenhower’s words ring true. Planning is a powerful tool to improve your life – and it’s free. There’s no reason not to do it.

But, hold up! Who has time to throw in a bit of planning in between breakfast and morning meetings…diapers and dinner…Scandal and bedtime?

In the day-to-day of life, planning becomes one of the first things to fall to the bottom of the to-do list. And, if we’re totally honest here, sometimes it falls off the to-do list completely!

However, if you consider that a SINGLE hour of planning saves TEN hours of doing, then the avoidance of planning altogether drains more time than the actual planning itself. Phew! It seems you really do have time for planning after all.

Now that you’ve solved this productivity riddle, here are five ways to become a power-planner:

1 – Make it real.

Allow for a planning morning or afternoon at least once a quarter, and in advance, schedule these as non-negotiable appointments on your calendar. (Yeah, you “know it.” But…do you “do it”?) This step not only sets a positive intention, but it also turns planning from a nice thought into a new reality.

2 – Own it – loud and proud.

When you keep something to yourself, it’s easy to get away with…doing nothing. Tell someone – your spouse, your best friend, or your personal assistant – that the planning process is now a top priority for you.  Saying so aloud to this person should keep you honest.

3 – Take inspired action.

If you doubt its potential, then the planning process won’t ever seriously happen or create fruitful results for you. Read the autobiography of any influential person you admire – no doubt, planning will be part of their recipe for success. Let their example, in turn, reframe how you look at planning and what it can do for your personal growth.

4 – Bring in the heavy weights.

Planning on your own can have low impact. Ask mentors or trusted friends to get involved and mastermind the planning process with you. They will not only introduce new ideas but also challenge you to reach higher than, if left to your own devices, you would ever dare.

5 – Filter, filter, filter.

Infuse your personal priorities into the planning process. Put up a list of your top priorities for everyone to see, and filter all planning concepts through this list. Trusting your priorities is the way to avoid chasing poor-fit opportunities and getting off-track – and wasting time and productivity as a result.

The Bottom Line

Never underestimate the power of planning. A highly productive person uses planning as a secret weapon to save time, exceed goals, and “get stuff done”!

So…how can you leverage planning to improve your home and life?

 

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. Thousands of busy people have benefited from her expertise featured by CBS, NBC, and Real Simple magazine – now it’s your turn! If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

What Aristotle Exposed About Getting Organized

Aristotle once said: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

It’s hard to argue with Aristotle, one of the greatest scientists and philosophers the world has ever seen. It’s even harder to argue, given that his very name means “the best purpose.” Indeed, his advice encourages you to be the best that you can be.

I’d like to take this example of Aristotle’s logic a step further by changing “excellence” to “organizing.” (Here’s hoping he won’t mind me taking a little creative license!)

So…let me ask you: Is your life full of chaos and clutter, or order and serenity? Your answer reveals what you repeatedly do.

aristotle

Need perpetual inspiration? Download the above graphic here for your personal use.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. Thousands of busy people have benefited from her expertise featured by CBS, NBC, and Real Simple magazine – now it’s your turn! If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, apply for a complimentary 60-minute Get-Organized Strategy Session today!

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

10 Easy Ways to Get More Organized Today

How long have you been telling yourself that you need to get more organized? Honestly. A month? A year? A decade? A lifetime?

No matter how long you have been tolerating clutter in your home and life, you will likely agree that:

  • Nothing good comes from clutter – only chaos, stress, frustration, loss, pain, wastefulness, hassles, and ineffectiveness.
  • Any amount of time is too long to struggle with clutter and the ill-effects it has on your space, time, mind, energy, money, and more.
  • You can get started today, removing clutter and making space for the more important things in life.

If you are like most, acknowledging the above factors is easy; acting upon them, especially the last one, isn’t.

You may explain away your inaction with: I don’t have the time. I don’t have the money. It’s too hard. I’m too overwhelmed. I’ve gotten by so far, so what’s the point? Even so, the reality won’t change – tomorrow, you will either be one day closer to your organizing goals and the home and life you desire, or one day further away.

It’s time to face the stories you are telling yourself about getting organized and set your excuses aside. Here are 10 action items that will help you get more organized today – in less than 20 minutes!

  1. Pick one chore that you’ve been doing but that could be done by another person, like a spouse, older child, or assistant – then delegate it. Permanently. Doing so will free up some “me” time or…some time to get organized!
  2. Consolidate half-full bottles of cleaning or laundry supplies. Doing so will free up extra space in your cabinets and on your shelves.
  3. Create a project/task to-do list for something for which you’ve been procrastinating. Doing so will make you feel as if you are getting things done, and boy – isn’t that a good feeling?
  4. Go through your kitchen fridge/freezer and toss any expired food, beverages, or condiments. Doing so will inspire you to restock with some big-energy foods that will help you be über-productive.
  5. Open your mail that’s been piling up, recycle or shred what isn’t needed, and file the rest away. Doing so will help you finally get rid of that nagging task that has to get done anyway!
  6. Remove three pieces of clothing from your closet that have seen their better days, and recycle them. Doing so will help tidy up your closet – and help Mother Earth.
  7. Clean out your purse or briefcase, making it more orderly. Doing so will make your day lighter!
  8. Choose a never-before-used recipe from a cookbook and plan a healthy, home-cooked meal for this week. Doing so is like milk…it does the body good! (Psst! That’s the most important part of finding life balance.)
  9. Start writing your Christmas cards early, before the season catches you off guard. Doing so will make your friends and family insanely jealous that you have got it so “together”!
  10. Schedule an appointment you’ve been putting off, like one with your hairdresser, auto shop, or doctor. Doing so will help you feel like you are finally getting back on track.

Pick one to do today, or do them all over the next week. Either way, you will feel more energized and organized!

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Welcome Back Organized October

It’s that time of year again. Time to make one giant organizing push before the holidays begin. We call it Organized October—it’s a month dedicated to organization of all types.OO landing page

We’ve posted our Organized October Calendar with tips, ideas, and product suggestions to help you get the most out of each crisp October day. You’ll find excellent ideas from our full family of sites, helping you bring an element of order and serenity into your life. (At least, that’s our hope.)

Schedule a time in your planner each day to spend organizing or re-organizing different aspects of your life—whether that’s your closet, a desk drawer, or your morning routine. Our Organized October Calendar offers daily tips to help, or you can come up with your own ideas.

For a great way to keep track of your month-long organizing blitz, download our new Autumn To-Do and Check Lists. They will help you keep track of your weekly errands, and remind you to participate in some great fall activities.

Contest: #OrganizedOctober

For each day of October we have an organization tip on our Organized October Calendar. Organize whatever the day’s tip tells you to do, post a picture of what you have organized and use the hashtag: #organizedoctober in your post.

Post your pictures on either Instagram and/or Facebook.

Each post is one entry. The more you post, the more entries you will have entered into the contest.

On November 1, 2014, one random winner will be selected to win the Autumn Organization Prize! This prize includes:

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram (@franklin.planner). We will be looking for your results all month long!

Good Luck, and Happy October Organizing!

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

All You Need to Know About Time Management

When it comes to your life, would you categorize yourself as…

a. A highly effective person?

b. A moderately effective person?

c. A poorly effective person?

Now, here is the cold, hard truth about your answer, no matter which it may be: YOU CAN BE BETTER.

Granted, this very truth brings up the million-dollar question: how? The answer is simpler than you think! Better yet, the effects are immediate. Even better still, it is a rinse-and-repeat system that will take your time management and productivity skills to new heights.

The Big Reveal

In life, there are those individuals who are goal-setters and those who are goal-getters. A goal-
setter is someone who either likes the idea of or is very good at setting goals, but doesn’t put the necessary actions behind them; as such, the goals never come to life and remain well-meaning (but worthless) words on paper. On the other hand, a goal-getter doesn’t just set and believe in goals, but also has the follow-through to achieve them.

Dr. Stephen R. Covey wrote about the secret of goal-getters in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “The key is not to prioritize your schedule but to schedule your priorities.”

A-ha! Much of what comes into your day – emails, text messages, phone calls, meetings, snail mail, conversations – they are just vehicles for other people’s priorities in your life. If you always schedule in all that “stuff” first, then there is no room for your own priorities, goals, and dreams.

The Ins & Outs

This is the very reason why you should trust your priorities to help you make decisions, infuse your priorities into your daily routines, and stick to your priorities, no matter what challenges you face. In the end, doing so is the best way to avoid common time-sinks like lack of focus and procrastination.

Here are three guidelines to defining your priorities and becoming a goal-getter who is the envy of everyone around you:

1 – Deep down, you are driven by a set of core values and principles. For example, maybe you are motivated by faith, family, excellence, independence, love, power, honesty, wealth – or maybe a mixture of. From the get-go, decide what these values are. They will set the tone for your goal-getting success.

2 – Brainstorm the wish list of objectives that you would like to accomplish, either in the short-term or long-term. Next, break this wish list down into projects and tasks.

3 – Calendar out the projects and tasks in order of importance and also set a date for project completion.

REMEMBER: act as the gatekeeper for your time. Before putting anything on your schedule, ask if it will support your priorities – fully, partially, or not at all. While there will be surprises and unavoidable hiccups here and there, stick to your schedule as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

Your priorities act as your internal compass, helping you to stay focused, make clear decisions, and feel balanced and fulfilled. A highly productive person uses his/her values to guide every step, including how and where to spend time.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

The Lost Productivity Secret

By Carmen Coker

If you could have a conversation with the late Steve Jobs, right here and now, and he offered you the key to productivity and success – would you listen to his advice?

Why wouldn’t you?! Every era has their icon, and one could easily argue that Mr. Jobs was the king of the computer age, and beyond. His ideas revolutionized the world in which we live. Sadly, he was taken before his time, as many of the great ones are. But he was, in fact, generous enough to leave us with his productivity rule of thumb. So…listen up!

The Big Reveal

When asked the reason for Apple’s achievement and innovation, Steve Jobs explained: “It comes from saying ‘no’ to a thousand things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much.”

Doing too much seems to be part of modern life. Every day offers new chances, friendships, challenges, and ideas. Indeed, the world is a creative, exciting – and busy – place to be.

But are you letting these explorations, if you will, distract you from the most important thing? From making forward progress? From being truly great?

The Ins & Outs

The word “no” is the most powerful weapon in your productivity and time management armory. It’s simple, and it’s free – a true win-win. The problem is that many people find it difficult to say it for many reasons like: maybe you’ll seem rude, maybe the proposition feeds your ego (if you’re honest about it), maybe you feel pressure from others, maybe…the list goes on.

Here are three guidelines to ensure you can say “no, thank you” when you need to most:

1 – Clearly define your vision and priorities.

While this may seem like an oh-yeah fact, human beings often lack mindfulness about these very fundamentals when making decisions, and this can quickly cause a loss of focus. [Tip] It’s vital to separate your vision and priorities into primary, secondary, and tertiary levels, going from most important to least important. Keep a master list beside your desk, in your planner, or on your mobile for reference at any time.

2 – Use your vision and priorities to strictly screen all opportunities.

In the busyness of life, sometimes the day-to-day overwhelms the big picture. [Tip] Review your vision and priorities daily to keep them top-of-mind, plus constantly utilize them to screen decisions, big or small, about what you purchase, how to use your time, what projects you allow, and more. Weigh each opportunity according to whether or not it supports your primary, secondary, and tertiary levels. If it doesn’t, then mark it off the list.

3 – Have your no-can-do response ready.

When other parties are involved and demanding answers, it’s not uncommon for individuals to be at a loss as to how to send regrets in a genuine and honest way. [Tip] To avoid bumbling and why-did-I-say-that moments, create and memorize a simple script like: “Thank you for thinking of me. I’d love to support you, but I am unable to right now due to other obligations and priorities. Keep me in mind for next time, ok?”

The Bottom Line

Say “yes” to only those experiences that let your vision and priorities shine brightly. A highly productive person knows when and how to respectfully (and authentically) turn down anything that doesn’t sustain his/her values, goals, and dreams.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Wanna Get Organized? 4 Must-Do Steps

You’ve vowed to finally transform your “clutter mountain” into a “clutter molehill.” Now that your mind is set, how do you successfully negotiate the ins and outs of getting organized?

(1) Have specific goals.

Don’t say: I want to get organized.

Do say: I want to organize my estate.

Speaking in generalities leads to doing in generalities – or no results. Take the time to make specific organizing goals so that you get the fabulous organizing results you deserve.

(2) Calendar it to make it real.

Don’t say: I’ll get to organizing the garage when I have time.

Do say: I need to schedule a day to organize my garage.

If you treat organizing like a regular appointment, you are more likely to take it seriously and follow through on your get-organized goals.

(3) Focus on one thing.

Don’t say: This week, I’m going to overhaul my kitchen, organize my files, get ready for taxes, clean out my closet, update my address book, re-do my schedule…

Do say: This week, I’m going to organize my tax paperwork.

If you try to take on too many organizing projects, you will surely fail. Focus on one task, and one task only, until it is complete. And let that success, as little or big as it may be, propel you onward.

(4) Have a positive attitude.

Don’t say: Organizing my closet? Yikes! I don’t know if I can…

Do say: Organizing my closet? I’m ready! I’ll save so much time getting dressed each morning…

Your thoughts channel real power to help you achieve your organizing milestones – so think positively not only about the process but also the end result, and put those brain waves to good use!

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Wanna Get Organized? 4 Must-Do Steps

By Carmen Coker

You’ve vowed to finally transform your “clutter mountain” into a “clutter molehill.” Now that your mind is set, how do you successfully negotiate the ins and outs of getting organized?

(1) Have specific goals.

Don’t say: I want to get organized.

Do say: I want to organize my estate.

Speaking in generalities leads to doing in generalities – or no results. Take the time to make specific organizing goals so that you get the fabulous organizing results you deserve.

(2) Calendar it to make it real.

Don’t say: I’ll get to organizing the garage when I have time.

Do say: I need to schedule a day to organize my garage.

If you treat organizing like a regular appointment, you are more likely to take it seriously and follow through on your get-organized goals.

(3) Focus on one thing.

Don’t say: This week, I’m going to overhaul my kitchen, organize my files, get ready for taxes, clean out my closet, update my address book, re-do my schedule…

Do say: This week, I’m going to organize my tax paperwork.

If you try to take on too many organizing projects, you will surely fail. Focus on one task, and one task only, until it is complete. And let that success, as little or big as it may be, propel you onward.

(4) Have a positive attitude.

Don’t say: Organizing my closet? Yikes! I don’t know if I can…

Do say: Organizing my closet? I’m ready! I’ll save so much time getting dressed each morning…

Your thoughts channel real power to help you achieve your organizing milestones – so think positively not only about the process but also the end result, and put those brain waves to good use!

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

How I Plan My Week

 By Patty Gardner

852

 A weekly planning session makes all the difference in whether my week is smooth or rocky.  Starting the week with a plan in place allows me to make changes as needed (and believe me, there are always plenty) and get things done.  Here’s what I do:

My weekly planning session takes place on Sunday evening.  I sit on the couch with my planner and start plugging things in.

First I check my monthly calendar to see if I have any appointments scheduled.  I plug them into the Appointment Schedule on my daily pages.

Monthly Calendar

 Then I add things I know I’ll be doing, like babysitting the grand kids, going to the grocery store, church, etc.  These also go on the Appointment Schedule.  (I don’t remove the pages from my planner when I plan – this was to make it was easier to see the big picture.)

 appointments

 Next I plug in tasks I need to do on certain days.  These go in the Prioritized Daily Task List section.  For example, I usually go to the grocery store on Wednesday, so I need to make my grocery list on Tuesday.  I pay bills on Saturday.  On the 1st of the month I do monthly checks (smoke alarms, furnace filters, snack stash) and give my dog her heartworm pill.  If someone has a birthday, I write “email happy birthday”, “prep card”, “mail card” on the appropriate days.

 to do pages

 I record other tasks that need to be done sometime during the week on the page finder.  The page finder has a slot for a weekly list.  The front of the list has 8 boxes which I’ve been using those to record high priority tasks.  On the back of the page I record all the other things that come to mind.  Pull out the list to add new items or mark things off that you’ve done.

 page finder front

 

 Page finder back

Then I do a review to be sure there aren’t any issues, like too many appointments or a scheduling conflict.  If all is well, weekly planning is done!

Sometimes, though, I have SO much going on that I feel overwhelmed and this planning method isn’t enough.  When that happens, I print out a weekly schedule form and do my initial planning on it.  Seeing the whole week at one time helps me see whether I can get it all done or whether changes have to be made.  Once I get it all worked out, I transfer it to my daily pages.

This method takes about 15 minutes unless I have to do the weekly sheet first.  Then it probably takes 20 or so.  This system works really well and I start my week feeling like I know what I’m doing.  And feeling in control is half the battle!
1311037-fp-guru-bio-pattygardner

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

How to Make New Year’s Resolutions that Stick

Making and keeping resolutions is easy to conceptualize. Actually accomplishing them is another story. For some of us, our New Year’s resolutions end in disaster. There are many reasons for this—we try to do too much at once, we aren’t able to get started, or we just can’t seem to finish what we start.

One of the biggest reasons I struggle with my resolutions is because I find myself so busy that I fail to plan out my days. Rather than taking a few minutes to set daily goals and schedule my time, I just wake up and jump into the day. Helping with the needs of my family, my spouse, and my employer leaves little time for the things I want to improve upon. However, I realize that I have just as much time in my day as anyone else; I just need to schedule that time to make it more effective.

Another thing that helps me keep my resolutions is to remember how much I’m already doing each day. It’s easy to look at the areas where we’re lacking and try to change everything at once; but with our busy schedules, making too many changes just means more things on our to-do list. We need to be careful not to overdo it. We can set several goals, but it helps to work on a few at a time until we’ve worked the new routines into our daily schedule.60618_lrgcase

Big goals can only be reached one step at a time, so break your goals down into manageable pieces that you can work on for a few hours each day or week. You aren’t going to wake up tomorrow and run a marathon unless you’ve put the time in each day (usually for several years).

If you have your goals set and broken down into manageable pieces, decide to start today. Write down the first few steps you’ll need to take and act now. If you’d like to change jobs this year, revise your resume and start learning more about the companies where you’d like to work. Take notes about their mission statement, contact the company and learn who the hiring manager is for the department where you’d like to work. Write your cover letter addressed to that person, rather than addressing it to Whom it May Concern.

Now that you’ve started, keep at it. The only way to ensure you finish what you start is to simply keep at the task. Over time your efforts will become routine. You’ll get comfortable with your gym schedule and your journaling routine and you’ll find something else to improve.

Don’t be overwhelmed by setbacks. None of us are perfect. We’re going to slip along the path. If our sweet tooth gets the better of us one day, it’s best to simply admit we messed up and start fresh the next day. If we dwell on our mistakes, we’ll begin with negative self-talk and before we know it we’ll talk ourselves out of positive change altogether.

So open your planner and start setting goals today. Here’s to a new year filled with success and great accomplishments.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Making the Most of Your Pagefinder

 By Patty Gardner

Page Finders Franklin

I don’t know about you, but my planner’s page finder is a really important part of my system.  Most of the time my planner is open, on the counter or my desk, where I can see it easily.  But if it’s closed, I need to be able to get to my daily page FAST and my page finder allows me to do that.

But it’s not just a page finder!  It can be SO much more, especially if you’re using a pouch page finder by Franklin Planners.  The pouch can hold so many interesting things, including:

Menu

Page Finder - Menu

The Weekly Compass cards have 8 boxes on the front side.  You can use 7 for meals and 1 for dessert.  Then your meal plan right in front of you.

Inspirational Quotes

Page Finder - Inspiration

Who doesn’t love to be inspired?!  If you have quotes that motivate or inspire you, write them on a piece of paper and put them in the pouch page finder.

Memorization

Page Finder - Memorization

If you’re trying to memorize something, type or write it on a piece of paper and put it in your page finder.  Every time you look at your planner (which hopefully is often), you can work on your memorization project.

To-Do List for the Week

Page Finder - To Do's Side 1

Page Finder - To Do's Side 2

If you’re using the Weekly Compass cards you can put your top 8 priorities on the front, one per box, and everything else you need (or want) to do on the back side.

Dailies

Page Finder - Dailies

Tired of re-writing those dailies every day? Put them on a Weekly Compass card or blank piece of paper, put the paper in the pouch and use a dry erase marker to mark them off each day.

Shopping Lists & Reminders

Page Finder - Grocery List

Use post-it notes to keep track of your shopping lists and other reminders and stick the post-its directly on the page finder.  You can still keep things in the pouch, too.

Besides the awesome pouch page finder, here are some other page finder ideas:

 Colored Page Finders

You can also use different colored page finders.  Franklin Planners has an assortment of bright colors.

Multiple Page Finders

You can use multiple page finders.  Sometimes I put one page finder in the correct way and the second one in upside down so the top sticks out of the bottom of the planner.  It makes it easy to grab the one I want.

Page Finder - 2 page finders

Progressive Task List Page Finder

Page Finder - Progressive Task List stack

Page Finder - Progressive Task List

Franklin Planners sells a page finder made of heavy cardstock that you write on directly.  It’s called a progressive task list.  I’ve used it a lot, too.

So if you’ve used your page finder as just a page finder, maybe it’s time to spread your wings and see what other uses you can find for that unused planner real estate.

Do you do anything special with your page finder?

 

Thank you, Patty! Patty is a guest blog contributor to the GO Community and we are so excited to learn new tips from her.

Patty GardnerPatty Gardner is a full-time homemaker and writes at Homemakers Daily. The purpose of the blog is to share what she has learned through her many phases of life with others. You’ll find practical, nitty gritty, to-the-point articles to help you in your everyday life as you try to stretch your budget and your time and make a home for your family!

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Countdown to Christmas

When I was in 4th grade we held a Christmas program for our school. One of the songs in our program was The Christmas Candy Calendar Song, by Robert Maxwell. “It’s six pink peppermints ‘til Christmas,” we sang, “and there’s lots and lots of things for us to do.” With Christmas only six weeks 8502.away, I can’t help but think of that song—there is still a lot to do.

I remember one year when my wife and I felt rushed right up until Christmas Day. The tree stood stately glowing in the family room, but we rarely took the time to relax around it as a family. We had failed to prioritize our activities. Both of us commented that the holiday had come upon us too quickly and we hadn’t taken time to soak in the season—too many “things” on our to-do lists.

Some of you have the holidays figured out. You may already be finished with your shopping, have your gifts wrapped and placed under the tree, and your greeting cards and packages in the mail. That’s great. But what is it that makes the holidays memorable? Is it the gifts we give and receive, the big events we attend, or the cards in the mailbox? For most of us, it’s the little things we do as a family that we remember most—sledding in the park, building snowmen, sharing stories, and making hot cocoa. Here are a handful of things that can help you make the most of your holiday.

Plan ahead. If you aren’t already finished shopping and you love to shop the sales during the season, make a list of each person to whom you plan to give a gift. Decide how much you can reasonably afford to spend on gifts and stick to your budget.

Give thoughtful gifts. Try not to buy something just because it’s on sale. Consider the desires and needs of the people on your list and try to match your gift to each person. Great-priced sale items are good for your just-in-case gifts—for those times when guests arrive unexpectedly with gifts and you want to return the favor. Keep a few quality gifts on hand with universal appeal just in case. A quality pen, journal, calendar, or some fine Swiss chocolate can easily fit the bill.

Organize your holiday decorations. You probably already have your holiday décor organized, but if you’re like us, you’re bound to discover more things to tidy up as you go. While you’re trimming your tree, make a list of things you’d like to arrange differently. Perhaps your heirloom ornaments need a sturdier container, or you’d like a better way to roll up your lights. This is the time take note of the details so you can be prepared when it’s time to take them back down.

Plan your season’s greetings. Give the mail carriers plenty of time to deliver your warm wishes. Remember that the closer it gets to Christmas, the more harried the delivery services are going to be. Plan to have your greeting cards in the mail early this year. If you are mailing internationally, it may take several weeks for your packages to arrive at their destination. Be sure to plan accordingly. You’d rather have your gifts arrive too early than too late.

Plan your activities realistically. It’s fun to take the family out to holiday events. Perhaps you want to catch a play, listen to the symphony, or visit a community performance of Handel’s Messiah. These are all great things to do, but remember that you will also have family parties, neighborhood gatherings, unexpected guests, and your children’s school-related activities to squeeze into the next few weeks as well. It doesn’t take long to be buried in events. Along with your financial budget, decide how much time you want to spend away from home, so you can relax and enjoy your own holiday traditions.

Even if planning isn’t your strongest suit, making an effort to plan the next six weeks will be the best thing you do all season. With all you have to do, you’d hate to forget to sing Christmas carols around the tree, bake a pumpkin pie, or pick a purple tie for uncle Lou.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Strategies for Making Your Planner Work Well For You!

 By Patty Gardner

I have a planner.  I admit it. I’ve actually had a planner forever.  I can’t function without it and my family will testify to that fact.  When I’ve gone through brief periods of rebellion against using a planner, my life falls apart.

planner closed

 If you have a planner but it isn’t working for you, or you’ve had a planner but gave up on it, maybe it’s time to try again.  To make my planner work for my life, I’ve adopted some very important strategies.  Here are a few:

1. A planner will not work if it’s in your purse or briefcase or closed on your desk.  The planner has to be open and available at all times.  My planner is always open and sitting on the kitchen counter or my desk, depending on where I’m working.  You have to be able to see it and it has to be easy to use.  If you have to go get it, open it and find the right page, you won’t do it.

Planner on counter

2.  This is just my personal preference, but I only use pens that have a click top.  If you have to pull the pen out of the loop, take off the cap, put the cap on the pen, and then write, it’s too much trouble.  I like it to be easy.  I want to hold my planner in one hand, pull out the pen with the other hand, click the pen and start writing.  Easier is always better!  And I frequently use the Bic 4-color pen so I have the option of using different colors with just a click of a button.

pens

my favorite pens – cap free!

3.       Take your planner with you nearly everywhere you go.  And when you’re out and about is the only time it’s okay to put your planner in your purse or briefcase.  Frequently when I’m out I need to write something down or look something up.  If my planner isn’t with me, it doesn’t help me.

4.       Write in your planner as soon as you think of something.  When you remember that task you need to do, jot it down.  Don’t wait until later because by the time later comes, you’ll have forgotten.  Write it down ASAP.  Once you write it down, you don’t have to think about it anymore and that frees your brain to think about other stuff.

5.       Customize your planner.  Very few people can use a planner straight out the box, exactly the way it was designed.  We are each unique and our planning needs are unique, too.  If you try to use a planner as designed, you’re probably going to be frustrated.  Just because a section in your planner page says it’s for a to do list doesn’t mean you have to write your to do list there.  Or just because an area is designated for your schedule doesn’t mean you have to use it for that.

Planner customized

So if you’re not using a planner or your planner isn’t working, maybe it’s time to try again.  A planner can be an extremely helpful tool that makes the difference between having your ducks in a row and having your ducks scattered everywhere.

Rubber Duckling I A Different Angle Of View

Thank you, Patty! Patty is a guest blog contributor to the GO Community and we are so excited to learn new tips from her.

Patty GardnerPatty Gardner is a full-time homemaker and writes at Homemakers Daily. The purpose of the blog is to share what she has learned through her many phases of life with others. You’ll find practical, nitty gritty, to-the-point articles to help you in your everyday life as you try to stretch your budget and your time and make a home for your family!

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

The Secret To Becoming A Productivity Superstar

By Carmen Coker

There’s likely not a day that goes by where you, or someone around you, comments on how time flies or time is money.  It’s a given that you know how important time is, but … how do you make the most of it?

Traditional productivity strategies tend to emphasize “getting things done” through managing lists, goals, priorities, plans, and calendars. Indeed, all those facets of productivity are important and should not be discounted.

But there are multiple components to productivity – physical, mental, emotional – and these traditional productivity strategies often overlook something, without which, your productivity will remain low … unsatisfactory … broken.

And that something is: ENERGY MANAGEMENT.

If you are unable to manage your energy, the hard truth is that all the productivity strategies in the world will not help you. Maintaining high to moderately high energy levels isn’t difficult, you simply must find the best ways in which your body responds. For example:

1) EATwise
Garbage in, garbage out. It’s no secret that what you ingest into your body has a direct correlation to your drive and output. So, step away from the chips and soda …

2) SLEEPwise
Your energy levels today start the night before. Make sure you go to bed early enough to get the right amount of ZZZ’s you need.

3) BREAKwise
It is believed that Einstein conceived the theory of relativity while riding his bicycle. Research backs up this example – skipping break time actually decreases your productivity and creativity.

4) MINDwise
Safeguard what gets into your head because that will influence your attitude. As much as possible, avoid negative people, vibes, or news, and surround yourself with positive people and environments.

5) SPACEwise
Clutter zaps your energy on a subconscious level, whether you realize it or not. Keeping a tidy space will free up the energy once consumed by clutter for other more important things.

REMEMBER: don’t be deceived by the simplicity of the above suggestions. When used in combination with traditional productivity strategies like list-making and prioritizing, you will reach productivity superstardom!

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.
CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Syncing your Planner with Technology

With all the cool devices at our fingertips, perhaps the best gadget is one invented centuries ago—the pen. That’s why so many people continue to use paper planners, calendars, and notepads. Today, technology is growing ever more prevalent and convenient, so our challenge is to keep it all in sync. How do we do that? We’ve asked some of our employees to share the ways they merge their planners with technology. Maybe you’ll get a few ideas for yourself.

 

1111039-LisaThumb_On

“As a project manager, I fully embrace both technology and paper. The flexibility of both a planner and technology allows me to tailor a system that works best in my hectic world.

“For day-to-day work tasks, I rely heavily on email, calendaring, and spreadsheets to keep the details organized. There are simply too many tasks to juggle when managing a large workload. My prioritized task list would be a mile long every day. Electronically, I can easily keep projects moving within the team, even when they are thousands of miles away.

“My planner is important for big-picture projects, brainstorming, note taking and personal tasks. I can easily flip back and recall notes or conversations. A planner is fantastic for capturing action-items in a meeting and collecting feedback from a creative presentation. I like it because I don’t have to search several places for notes. It’s all contained in a binder.  It’s my main tool for keeping personal tasks organized. I can jot down home tasks or grocery lists, keep track of parties and vet appointments—basically, it’s my memory.”

—Lisa Gines, Project Manager

 

1111039-LareenThumb_On

“I love technology, but it can be distracting much of the time. In a meeting, some may assume that if you are using your iPad or smart phone, you aren’t paying attention to what is going on, or that the content of the discussion isn’t important.

“My most important planner tactic? I don’t move my page finder to the current day until I have checked off tasks from the prior day, assigned them to others, or moved them forward. That way I don’t lose any projects, and have a constant reminder to “catch up” if I don’t do it first thing in the morning.”“I sync my smart phone with my work desktop calendar and email system. It is a great way to keep track of appointments, and get a popup reminder ten minutes prior to a meeting. During those meetings, I silence my phone (okay, every now and then I forget). For task lists and meeting notes, however, no electronic device can hold a candle to my planner. I like the planner formats without defined meeting times, which gives me plenty of space for tasks and notes.

—Lareen Strong, Marketing Director

 

1111039-ScottThumb_On

“Using my planner with technology is like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, both are good on their own, but combine them and they’re even better.

“Take a look at my desk and you’ll see the best of both worlds. Sure, my computer is humming and the screen is filled with files, spreadsheets, and webpages—but take another look and you’ll see lists, post-it notes, and my planner.

“A large section of my day is spent creating ideas, attending meetings, and planning campaigns. These activities require brainstorming and thought. For me, this is best done with paper and pen.  I love to jot down ideas and activities in my planner; I can then flip back and forth from page to page and re-remember what a genius I am.

“I love to take advantage of technology.  I can transform my notes, ideas and lists; into useful information and reports. Whether it’s a computer, tablet, phone, or something new I’ve never heard of, technology is a definite time-saver. From work to play, it’s here to stay.

“So I’m going to take both, my planner and my technology…the perfect sandwich.”

—Scott Anderson, Advertising Campaign Manager

 

Hopefully some of our ideas have sparked your imagination, and you’ll find even more ways to incorporate your planner and your technology into your hectic lifestyle. Here’s wishing you the best success possible.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Planner Tips

Ashlyn BinderWant to get even more out of your planner? Keep it close at hand as a reminder of your goals and dreams. If you keep it open and in easy view in a corner of your desk, you’ll be able to keep track of your task list throughout the day without getting distracted by email notifications.

Also, be sure to record your contact information in your planner, just in case you lose it. It’s always better to be prepared.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Change With The Season

If you don’t live in an area where the seasons change, autumn is worth a visit. Colors go from vivid green to bright yellow, orange, read, and finally brown as temperatures glide downward until autumn careens into winter. Changing seasons are impressive. In homage to Mother Nature, we’ve gathered a few things to help you change with the seasons. These stunning collections are sure to keep you fresh and up-to-date.

 

Tanner Collection

Tanner Binder

Streamlined and simply elegant, this internationally designed line is minimalism at its best. With a simple strap closure and excellently placed organizational features, there’s nothing to distract from the high-quality leather, earning it a place in our prestigious Artisan collection.

Shop the Tanner Collection

 

Ashlyn Collection

Ashlyn ToteAshlyn Wire-bound Cover

 

Make a bold statement with this sporty collection in soft, durable leather with bright contrasting colors and chrome accents. The keyed diary clasp may not actually lock, but it adds a great touch of whimsy. Designed to carry your plans, your necessities, and even your favorite devices in order and style.

Shop Ashlyn Binders 

Shop Ashlyn Wire-bound Covers

Shop the Ashlyn Tote

 

Weaver Collection

Weaver Binder

Add sophisticated texture to your important plans. This internationally designed line from our Artisan collection features soft twill exteriors with stamped leather accents, and soft, supple full-leather interiors.

Shop the Weaver Collection

 

Delight Mini by Baggallini

There’s elegance in simplicity. This lightweight satin-touch nylon bag features a quilted pattern with a twist-lock flap covering a secure zipper closure, keeping your things inside the interior organizational pockets. The lightweight bag rides comfortably at your side with its adjustable cross-body strap.

Delight Mini by Baggallini

Shop the Delight Mini by Baggallini

 

CH-97 2.0 CH 25 By Victorinox

Access your travel documents on the go with this expandable wheeled upright case. Featuring convenient external pockets for documents, lockable zippers, and a TSA-approved lock for easier security checks, this bag makes the journey that much easier. Plus, its one-touch dual-trolley aluminum handle system recesses into the bag when not in use. It’s all the innovation you would expect from the makers of the Swiss Army Knife.

CH-97 2.0 CH 25 by Victorinox

 

Shop the CH-97 2.0 CH 25 By Victorinox

 

C-Series SelecTip Gell Rolling Ball Pen by Cross

Inspired by the quality of luxury sports cars, the C-Series features cutting edge detail, stunning appointments, and a smooth touch finish. This capless pen comes with Cross’ rolling ball technology, but also supports ballpoint pen refills. Customization options are available.

C-Series Selectip Gell Rolling Ball Pen by Cross

Shop the C-Series SelecTip Gell Rolling Ball Pen by Cross

 

None of us can keep up with Mother Nature, but perhaps these beautiful accessories have inspired you to do a little changing of our own.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

12 Unusual (And Cheap!) Organizing Tricks

By Carmen Coker

If you’re like most people, you want to get organized and stay organized, but you don’t want to spend a fortune on containers, bins, and other storage solutions in the process. Trade store-bought organizers for one of these inexpensive, out-of-the-box clutter busters created from everyday household items.

  1. Pantyhose. Cut off the waistband of an old pair and slip it over a rolled-up sleeping bag, securing it neatly. Or cut off the legs and place a roll of wrapping paper into each one, eliminating crimps from rubber bands or tears from taping.
  2. TP Roll. Need a mini-plastic bag dispenser for the glove box, a diaper bag, a pet travel bag, or elsewhere? Stuff a TP tube with 4-5 bags, and voilà!
  3. Headband. Tired of losing those tiny board game pieces? Wrap an elastic headband, like Goody’s Ouchless Elastic Headwraps, around the width of the box to hold it shut. Color-code to match the game itself or perhaps your home or personality.
  4. Pie Pan. Is your exercise ball on the loose? Put a circular pie pan wherever you’d like the ball to stay and rest the ball inside the pan.
  5. Empty Case. Are you a caffeine junkie? When you’ve emptied out an 8, 12, or 24-pack soda case box, use it to organize socks in drawer.
  6. Sea Shell. When situated belly-up, a sea shell acts as a beautiful jewelry organizer. All you need to do is find the right spot for it, like near the kitchen sink for when you need to remove your rings for dishwashing.
  7. Junk Mail. You’ll often get free personal address labels as junk mail. Attach these to the inside cover of books, planners, wallets. If ever lost or loaned out, the item will automatically have “return to” information enclosed.
  8. Container Lid. Have a loner lid from a large plastic storage container that’s missing its “mate,” or the container itself? The lid, situated top-up on the floor, will work well as a round-up for shoes in your entryway.
  9. Button. Place the backs of earrings through the holes in a button and clasp – it’ll now be easy to spot your earrings in your purse, suitcase, or gym bag.
  10. Picture Frame. Use a large frame, such as an 8 x 10, to corral remote controls or gaming controllers. Just slide a piece of fun paper or fabric under the glass, lay the frame flat on a nearby table, and then arrange the remotes on the glass.
  11. Trouser Sock. To calm cable chaos, cut off the foot of a trouser sock, unplug cords and cables, and feed them all through the sock. Then re-plug everything back into the power strip and/or sockets. If you repeat this process, overlapping multiple trouser socks, you can make a long “tube” to cover the entire length of cables.
  12. Door Knob. Fasten an old door knob to the top corner of a wood table – it’ll act as a great catch for purses, umbrellas, sweaters, etc.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Introducing the Playlist Planner

Playlist Ring-bound Daily Planner RefillMusic is an integral part of our lives. Whether it’s the perfect lyric that describes how you feel, the melody that somehow resonates with your soul, or the perfect rhythm that gets you going, music moves us.

Music is like the wrapping paper of our memories. How often has someone asked you, “What do you think of when you hear this song?” As you listen, you peel back the layers until that faint feeling becomes more and more clear—until suddenly you’re reliving the memory fresh.

Music is all around us—from the drone of a train whistle, to the jagged hum of helicopter blades, to the rhythmic rattle of the subway. It doesn’t take long before we realize that each life moves to a soundtrack all its own.

With this realization in mind, we created the Playlist Planner. We spent months writing interesting trivia, designing pages that resonate, researching different musical genres, and learning about the artists who defined them.

Each two-page daily spread gives you plenty of room for appointments, to-dos, and notes and leaves you with something interesting to consider about the music that surrounds you. It’s a great way to harmonize the events of your life with the music that carries those experiences deep into your memory.

Like any song, the planner started as a single thought and developed into much more. Now, after months of planning, researching, and fact checking, we’re finally ready to share our latest composition, the Playlist Planner.

Pick one up today and delve more deeply into the soundtrack of your life.

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Scheduling Tips

Daily Quarter PackWhen you have a full schedule, the last thing you want to do is spend extra time trying to access your schedule. Putting appointments on your cell phone can be a complicated process, from navigating to the calendar app, to finding the right time slot, and then tapping out any notes in a limited space on a mobile keyboard.

Save time and energy with a planner: Each day, your schedule is right there on the side, available with the flip of a page. And you can add in as much extra information as your planner allows.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

4 More Ways to Use a Planner Page

 By Patty Gardner

 4 More Ways to Use a Planner Page

Planner pages don’t have to be used the way they’re designed.  If the way they’re designed works for you, great.  But if not, do it your way!!!

This is Franklin Planner’s compact 2 pages per day.  All I did here was skip the lines and the single column and make two lists in the Prioritized Daily Task List area.  This works better for me visually and practically.  I don’t like writing on those small lines with no white space between items.  In fact, I hardly ever use the lines on this page.

4 More Ways to Use a Planner Page

Franklin Planner came out with a new design for 2013 called Real Life (similar to Simplicity but has a daily cartoon on the Notes page).  It’s much less structured than the typical two pages per day.  Here are three ways to use this page:

You can use this page as designed with appointments in the left column and to do’s on the right.  You can see that I started out using the lines but quickly abandoned them.

 4 More Ways to Use a Planner Page

Instead of using this page as designed, use the left column for the “must do’s” and the right column for everything else.  This set-up provides a way for your must do’s to really stand out.

4 More Ways to Use a Planner Page

And my personal favorite is the divide the page into four horizontal sections for morning, afternoon, evening and whatever you need the last section for.  I used it for my menu.  Then on the left side of each section put your appointments for that time period and on the right list what you think you can get done during that same time period. 

The beauty of this method is that you record your commitments first and then think about what time you’ll have left and plan accordingly.  I actually love this format because I feel it helps me plan more realistically.  When you make a random list of things to do, those things can be out of context, at least for me.  Maybe I can do them and maybe I can’t.  But this list is much more realistic, and for someone with ADHD, it helps me stay on track, too.

4 More Ways to Use a Planner Page

So there you go.  Combined with the previous article and this one, that’s 10 ways you can use a planner page other than the way it’s designed.

What’s your strategy? Are you a by-the-book planner user or do you like to do your own thing?

 

Thank you, Patty!  Patty is a new guest blog contributor to the GO Community and we are so excited to learn new tips from her.

Patty GardnerPatty Gardner is a full-time homemaker and writes at Homemakers Daily.  The purpose of the blog is to share what she has learned through her many phases of life with others. You’ll  find practical, nitty gritty, to-the-point articles to help you in your everyday life as you try to stretch your budget and your time and make a home for your family!

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Six Back To School Items Every Student Should Have

Heading to college? You’ve got a lot to pack. Of course, some things may be more important than others. If it gets too crowded in your tiny compact car, you may need to prioritize. Here are a few things that we think should remain near the top of your list.

Backpack or Tote

College students need to haul a lot of stuff around campus—textbooks, homework, laptops, etc. Having a strong backpack or tote will make carrying it all easier. If you can find one with padded compartments for both your laptop and your tablet, you’ll worry less about your favorite devices. Take a look at our selection of trendy carriers to help you keep up with college life.

Click Here to Shop Backpacks and Totes.

Wire Basket or Crate

Sharing a bathroom with a bunch of students can be chaotic. How do you keep track of your stuff? A wire crate is a perfect way to haul your toiletries from place to place and keep them from being used by who-knows-who. Sound like a good idea? Visit TidyNirvana.com and check out LaCrate by Design Ideas. This epoxy-coated wire crate can go right into the shower with you. It holds your supplies but won’t hold water.

2013/2014 Academic Planner by Sarah PintoPlanner

With a new semester of college on the way, you’ll be busier than ever. Be sure you don’t lose track of deadlines, appointments, and fun activities by scheduling them in your planner.

Click Here to Shop for Planners.

Notebooks

Sure, every college bookstore has notebooks. We recommend you pick up a few. While you’re at it grab our Better Than A Yellow Pad—it makes it easy to take orderly notes that you can actually follow later, so you’ll remember exactly what your professor and teammates need you to do.

Cellphone And Gadget Protection

Chances are pretty good you’ve got a new smartphone, tablet, or other device that you’d hate to break during your first semester of the year. Find the perfect cases, carriers, and accessories to add protection and character to your favorite devices at Geekorize.com.

Click Here to Shop at Geekorize.com.

HamperTote by O.R.E. OriginalsA Laundry Bin That Helps Sort Your Clothes

You probably know someone who got a new dark sock mixed in with his or her white clothes on washday. If you aren’t familiar with what happens, that sock bleeds dye in the wash and will turn all those white clothes mint green. Yeah, we know through sad experience. College students are busy, but that doesn’t mean they should skip steps when they’re washing their clothes. The HamperTote by O.R.E. Originals makes sorting simple. It’s divided for colors, whites, and darks, so you’ll sort your wash each time you change your clothes. Washday will never be simpler. Find this cool hamper tote at TidyNirvana.com today.

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

10 Reasons I Use a Planner

By Patty Gardner

10 Reasons I Use a Planner

Planners are extremely effective tools for helping you keep your ducks in a row.  I’ve been using a planner for 20 years.  Before that I had a calendar and a to-do list.  My family knows that if I don’t use my planner, bad things happen.  In case you’re skeptical about the benefits of using a planner, here are 10 ways my planner helps me manage my life:

1.       I don’t remember anything if I don’t write it down.  If I write it down, it’s like magic and I can usually remember it even if I never look at it again.  But if I don’t write it down, it’s gone forever.  So if you ask me to do something, make sure I write it down!

2.       I need to see the big picture so I know what I can and can’t do.  No matter how hard I try, I can’t see the big picture in my head.  It has to be on paper.  And seeing the big picture helps me plan so I don’t get worn out or bored.

3.       I get overwhelmed easily, but if I write everything down, it doesn’t seem so bad.  Or I see that it really is that bad and I can figure out how to fix it.

4.       If everything I need to do is swimming around in my head, there’s no room for anything else – like creativity.  So getting it out of my head and on paper allows me to think about other things that are more fun.

5.       I can’t make Plan B if I don’t have a Plan A.  And if Plan A isn’t on paper, it’s not really a plan – at least for me.  I need to SEE things – on paper.

10 Reasons I Use a Planner

6.       Without writing it down, I always plan too much – more than any one person can do.  But when I write it down and schedule it on the calendar, or put time estimates next to each item, I am more realistic about what I can do and it’s much easier to prioritize.

7.       A planner provides a place to write down all my brilliant ideas and be able to find them again.  If I use notes and post-its, there’s no guarantee I’ll be able to locate those brilliant ideas again.

8.       I think better with a pen.  Seeing my thoughts on paper (I use my planner as a journal, too), makes them easier to process and figure out.  It’s also easier to see positive or negative patterns when it’s written down.

9.       My planner provides a permanent written record of events, calls, activities, funny things the kids and grandkids do.  I have all my planners from the last 25 years.  There’s a wealth of information in those planners that I treasure.

10.     Without a written plan, I tend to spin my wheels and waste my time.  It’s like I don’t know what to do next.  But if a task list is on paper, I am much more likely to be productive.

If you use a planner, why do you?  If you don’t use a planner, why don’t you and how do you keep your ducks in a row?

Thank you, Patty!  Patty is a new guest blog contributor to the GO Community and we are so excited to learn new tips from her.  

Patty GardnerPatty Gardner is a full-time homemaker and writes at Homemakers Daily.  The purpose of the blog is to share what she has learned through her many phases of life with others. You’ll  find practical, nitty gritty, to-the-point articles to help you in your everyday life as you try to stretch your budget and your time and make a home for your family!

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

How To Get Motivated To Get Organized

By Carmen Coker

A friend recently asked me if there was anything in particular that helped me to get motivated and power through boot camp. (If you didn’t know, I served in the military for over six years.)

There are too many things I remember about boot camp and most of them unpleasant.

Running in combat boots for miles.
Getting yelled at.
Doing push-ups until I collapsed.
Getting yelled at.
Woken up in the middle of the night for inspections.
Getting yelled at.
30 second showers.
And, yup, you guessed it! Getting yelled at some more.

I recall thinking at one point: “Why am I putting up with six weeks of this?”

While all my college friends were enjoying amazing summer vacations, I was being subjected to unwanted rules, impossible orders, minimal sleep, nasty food, physical fitness ad nauseam – all topped off with copious amounts of shouting.

Then I remembered how much I wanted to be in the military and serve my country, and I refocused on the fact that six weeks of training would only make me a stronger, better soldier. The end justifies the means, if you will.

You see, I faced a crossroad: I could be miserable during the whole ordeal, or I could make the most of it … and the final outcome was totally up to me.

I realize that for some of you out there, getting organized may be just about as fun as boot camp. But living in our world today, as the pace of life gets faster and faster, you can’t afford not to be organized.

Dr. Wayne Dyer once said, “Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.”

Isn’t that so true? In my story, I could have been miserable through boot camp, but instead I tried to motivate myself as much as possible, keeping the end in sight.

The same goes for organizing …

If you know you have to get organized, you can choose to procrastinate, and your disorganization will just cause you more frustration. Or you can choose to get motivated, get organized, and truly know the freedom that comes with it.

It’s always your choice.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

6 Ways to Use a Planner To Do Page

By Patty Gardner

6 Ways to Use a Planner To Do Page

I’m pretty sure that all time management experts recommend using a personal planning system of some sort.  It can be anything:  an electronic planner, your smart phone, a paper planner (my personal favorite), your computer or tablet, or even notebooks, steno or legal pads, or index cards.  It doesn’t matter what you use as long as you use it and it works for you!

And therein lies the problem.  Most of the pre-printed systems are designed to be used a certain way and most people try to use them the way they were designed even if they don’t work for them.  Sometimes the planner you’re trying to use isn’t worth saving – it just doesn’t work.  So toss it.  But sometimes you can tweak it and make it work.  Here are a few points to consider:

  • Just because the planner provides lines for you to write on doesn’t mean you have to write on them.  My planner’s lines are too narrow so I use two lines instead of one.
  • Just because the “box” says it’s for the prioritized task list doesn’t mean you have to write the task list there.
  • Just because another area says it’s for appointments doesn’t mean you can’t put to do items there, too.
  • Just because an area is blank and isn’t supposed to be written on doesn’t mean you can’t.
  • You can write in your planner any way you want!

I’ve been using a planner for a very long time – I can’t function without it.  Just ask my family.  That being said, I’m not sure I’ve ever used my planning pages the way they’re supposed to be used.  But my modifications worked for me.  Below are six examples of different ways I’ve used my planner over the years (and sometimes in the same week!).  I’m hoping these examples will give you ideas for how you can better use your planner.

6 Ways to Use a Planner To Do Page

Example 1.  This example uses the planner page as intended.  You make a list of everything you need to do and then prioritize the list using A, B and C and 1, 2 and 3.  A’s are items that MUST be done that day or bad things will happen.  B’s are items that you should do.  C’s are things that you can do if you have time.  If you don’t do them, nothing will happen.

I personally have a very hard time prioritizing in this way.  If your list consists only of “extra” things you needed to do, like pay bills, schedule an appointment, etc –this method is easier.  But I include pretty much everything I need to do and it’s hard to decide whether dinner is more important than laundry and which should be done first.   So I’ve never done my list this way.  But I know a lot of people have success with this method.

6 Ways to Use a Planner To Do Page

Example 2.  On this page, my list consists only of items that must be done that day.  In the bottom section, the daily tracker, is a list of the daily things I need to do.  On the top right of the page is a reminder of a friend’s appointment so I can follow up.  On the top left is my menu.

 6 Ways to Use a Planner To Do Page

Example 3.  On this example I divided my day into sections and made my list based on what I hope to accomplish during each time segment.  Again my menu is on the top left.

6 Ways to Use a Planner To Do Page

Example 4.  On this example, in the prioritized daily task list section I have one column of daily chores and one column that is all the other things I would like to do.  The circled items (you could also put an asterisk by them) are items that are very important.  My menu is in the daily tracker.  And the area at the top right includes things I need to do as soon as I get up.

6 Ways to Use a Planner To Do Page

Example 5.  On this example I use the appointment schedule to record my to do’s.  I plug in the things I have to do at set times and highlight them so they stand out.  Then in the spaces between, I write what I’m planning to do during that time period.  I use the prioritized daily task list area for details about those items.

6 Ways to Use a Planner To Do Page

Example 6.  On this example, I limit my list to only 10 things that are important for that day.  I have more things I would like to do but setting a limit helps me focus on the most important things.  When I’m making my list (it’s a good idea to use pencil), sometimes I have to erase something in favor of something else that I decide is more important.  The list at the top right includes about 5 things that can be completed very quickly.  I’ll do those when I have a minute between tasks.  If I happen to complete all 10 items before the end of the day (I don’t think that ever happened), then I’ll make a list of 5 more.  Again, my menu is in the daily tracker section.

So just because the planner page designates certain areas for certain things doesn’t mean you have to do it that way.  Don’t be afraid to modify your page so that it works for you!  You should never be a slave to the planner.  The planner is your servant!  Make it work for you!!!

 

Thank you, Patty!  Patty is a new guest blog contributor to the GO Community and we are so excited to learn new tips from her.  

Patty GardnerPatty Gardner is a full-time homemaker and writes at Homemakers Daily.  The purpose of the blog is to share what she has learned through her many phases of life with others. You’ll  find practical, nitty gritty, to-the-point articles to help you in your everyday life as you try to stretch your budget and your time and make a home for your family!

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Keyboard Shortcuts for Quick Cleanup

If you’ve ever typed out notes during a rapid lecture and tried to adapt them for a paper later, you probably know how hard it can be to re-format everything to look nice. Here’s a list of keyboard shortcuts, both common and obscure, that can help you dress up your notes for easy reading (replace CTRL with Command for Mac users):

CTRL + Z = Undo               CTRL + Y = Redo                CTRL + N = New Document

CTRL + X = Cut   CTRL + C = Copy                CTRL + V = Paste

CTRL + S = Save CTRL + SHIFT + S = Save As

Shift + F3 = Change Case: lower Initial ALL CAPS

CTRL + Backspace = Delete Previous Word

CTRL + Delete = Delete Following Word

CTRL + SHIFT + L = Bulleted List in MS Word (on a Mac, use the Command key)

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Stay Productive While On The Go

Staying productive on the go is easier that you might think. If you keep a list of things to do with you at all times, you’ll likely find a number of tasks and to do’s that can be executed with very little technology or tools beyond pen and paper. If you need to meet with someone in the near future, grab your cell phone and set up the visit even if you’re away. You can also brainstorm new ideas for work, sketch ideas for that rundown flower garden in your yard, or write a thank you note to a friend.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Changing a Lose/Win Mentality to a Win/Win Mentality

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - 15th Anniversary EditionOne of our Facebook followers asked us how to turn a Lose/Win mentality into a Win/Win mentality. That’s a great question.

We live in a very competitive world. We’re all clamoring to get ahead and meet our agendas. Nobody likes losing. But when we’re working with other people, we need a little give and take.

Almost every conversation includes negotiation. If you listen closely, you’ll hear a lot of pleasant disagreements disguised as idle chatter. Disagreements are healthy. It’s been said that if two people agree on everything all the time, only one person is doing the thinking. But what if two people are trying to work together and they have dissimilar goals? What happens when your disagreements get in the way of productivity?

We negotiate every day; when our children ask us for treats right after breakfast, when we’re deciding which movie to watch, or what we’re going to eat for dinner. These simple discussions usually end well. Similar yet more complicated situations occur between business partners, marriage partners, co-workers, and during other aspects of our lives. These situations can often be complicated, and how they end depends on us.

So how do we progress from wherever we are now to a Win/Win mentality? First we have to decide what winning is. In other words, we need to decide what is most important to us, and what we hope to gain from our relationships.

Remember that Win/Win is cooperative and not competitive. Once we know what we want, the next step is to understand our partner. We have to be able to see the problem from their point of view. From there, it helps if we can view it from an outsider’s viewpoint.

The next step is to identify the key issues and concerns involved—not just yours, but theirs as well.

Now, determine what results would constitute a fully acceptable solution. Write down every possibility.

Last, work together to identify possible new options to achieve the results you both want.

This process will work most of the time—especially when both parties have an abundance mindset. Remember that one person will not achieve success at the expense of another. There are plenty of acceptable solutions, if you’ll just stick with it until you find them.

That sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? Far too simple, we suspect. To be honest, we couldn’t begin to fully answer your question in the form a blog. The best source for this information is Stephen Covey himself. Pick up a copy of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and read the 4th habit.

3rd Alternative Hardcover by Stephen R. CoveyWe also highly recommend The Third Alternative. This is an entire book devoted to the process of discovering the Win/Win solutions in everyday life. Reading these valuable books will not only answer your questions about Win/Win, but they will also help you integrate those habits into your daily life.

Good luck.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Color Coded Schedule

Prioritize your daily tasks and keep track of progress towards personal and career goals using color.

I use yellow to highlight tasks that must be completed that day.

Pink indicates activities or plans after work.  With a busy work schedule it can be easy to forget other plans you have made.  I’ve found highlighting these plans in my planner helps me remember.

I’ve been trying to stick to a personal fitness goal this year.  I draw orange dots on the days I fit in a workout.  It’s rewarding to see the progress I make every week towards this goal.

Color Coded Schedule

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Achieve Any Goal by Brian TracyWe’re approaching the end of June, so that means that we’re almost half a year away from our New Year’s Resolutions. How have your goals held up this year? June is the perfect time for reviewing your goals, celebrating your successes, and recalibrating your plans for the rest of the year.

As you go over your resolutions, you’ll probably notice that your successful goals have turned into habits, while the ones you ditched in February never quite made it there. That’s probably why the toughest goals to master (like losing weight or quitting smoking) involve changing powerful habits over long periods of time.

So as you re-evaluate your goals, break them down into small daily habits that you can manage. For example, choosing to pack a lunch from home every day might help you reach two different goals: saving money by not eating out, and getting healthier by controlling what you eat.

Once you’ve identified your small goals, put them into practice every day for at least three weeks. If they’re time-specific (like the lunchtime goal above), add reminders to your computer or alarms on your phone to help you break your current habit’s autopilot and accomplish your goal.

If March through June haven’t been your best months for accomplishing your goals, don’t give up. Start small, and add on more complex tasks once your habits start to change. And if you fall off the wagon, don’t start running in the opposite direction: resolve to stick with it the next time your habit alarm goes off. Before the year is half over, you’ll already be making progress.


Products to help you achieve your goals:

Goal Planning Form 

Goal Planning Form

2 Pack Better Than a Yellow Pad – Meeting Notes

2 Pack Better Than a Yellow Pad - Meeting Notes

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Crossing Off Your To-Do List

List & Plan Pad by Gina B. Designs - My List Blue/Green FloralThere are few things in life more rewarding to me than crossing tasks off of my to-do list. In fact, if I am busily working on a Saturday morning and complete something that isn’t on the list, I’ll immediately write down the completed task just for the pleasure of crossing it off. I’m easily distracted, so it’s important to take advantage of every opportunity to feel productive.

This has probably never happened to you, but I’ve spent hours working on less important projects until it was too late to complete the items that I really wanted to accomplish. All too often the day ends long before the list of things to do is crossed off. If I’m not alone, here are a few ways to help you feel more productive during the day.

List your tasks by priority. Go through tomorrow’s list each evening and write it in order of priority. Some people even create a grid and place sticky notes in each square according to priority. Then they can throw the notes away as they complete the task and re-order any task as needed during the day simply by moving the sticky note.

Consolidate your lists into one central list. Make time each morning or evening to combine your lists onto one notepad. Keep the pad in a convenient location, like your purse, so you can check on it during the day.

Break down lists by location. Make a list to do at home, a list for work, a list of errands to keep in the car etc. It’s almost the opposite of consolidating your lists into one, but it may be just what you need to be more productive.

Whatever you do, try to be patient with yourself. It takes time to get a feel for how long a task will take. Setting aside the right amount of time to complete a job is a skill that requires practice and patience. Over time, your list of items to complete will fit better into your day.

This list of suggestions barely scratches the surface of ways to become more productive with your time. What are some things you do to manage your time and your tasks? We’d love to hear about them.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

How To Improve Your Memory And Feel More Organized

By Carmen Coker

An old Chinese proverb declares that “the palest ink is better than the best memory.” And there’s a good reason for it! Relying on your memory can be tricky business.

When you think about the fact that:

  • You get exposed to more information in one day than a well-educated individual living in the 18th century encountered in a lifetime.
  • You have up to 80,000 thoughts a day.
  • You are bombarded with 4,000 messages daily in your environment.

It’s no wonder that you forget things!

If you find that you’re a little scatterbrained, here is how to improve your memory and feel more organized.

1) Memory Fitness

There are lots of reasons why you could forget something, but many of the common causes of memory loss are related to how well you take care of yourself. Stress, unhealthy diet, sleep deprivation – all lead to poor brain function. By taking care of your overall fitness, you’ll also be taking care of your memory’s fitness.

2) Memory Routines

One could argue that repetition is boring. However, if a regular routine has programmed you to always …

  • Meet your best friend at the gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 630 am.
  • Call your mom at 2pm each Saturday.
  • Pay your bills on the 15th of the month.

… then you’re more likely to remember what needs to be done or where you need to be, and when.

3) Memory Cues

Putting a sticky note message on your bathroom mirror, setting a watch alarm to beep an hour before a big appointment, noting and checking to-do’s on your calendar, creating pop-up reminders in your email – these are all popular examples of memory cues. And they’re popular because they’re simple, and they work!

4) Memory Techniques

Sound complicated? Great news! Many of these techniques you learned as a child, like alliteration. An elementary example of alliteration would be “Susy sells sea shells by the sea shore.” Of course, that’s not likely to help you as a grown-up. Something like “Family Fridays,” “Menu Plan Mondays,” or “Bimonthly Bills” is more useful to the adult.

Another type of a memory technique is association, where you mentally link something with a way of remembering it. For example, your favorite radio show goes off the air at 9pm every night. When the DJ signs off, you associate that with packing lunches for the next day.

So the next time you need a memory jogger, try one (or more) of the above methods to boost your ability to recall the what’s, when’s, and where’s of life.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super OrganizedTM.

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

National Memo Day

Serenity Memo MousepadTake this down: May 21st is National Memo Day.

Fun Facts:

  • In 1968, a chemist at the 3M company was trying to develop a super-strength adhesive, but instead created a low-tack, reusable, pressure-sensitive adhesive. 22 years later, in 1980, they finally figured out how to use this adhesive, and the Post-It Note was born.
  • The yellow color came about because the development team borrowed yellow scrap paper from the lab next door.
  • In 1978, the residents of Boise, Idaho became the first to try Post-Its, with free samples throughout the city.

Today, there are all sorts of note-taking products to help your brain manage its workload. Celebrate National Memo Day by noting which notes you need.

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

“Where Are My Keys?”

Finders Key Purse by Alexx Inc - Elegant PurseIf you find yourself asking this question frequently, it’s time to change upyour system. Most of the time, the simplest solutions work best.

  • Leave your keys in the same spot – and while you’re at it, leave your cell phone, wallet, and other daily essentials there as well.
  • Suspend them in your purse – if your keys are attached to a Finders Key Purse,then you can pull them from your purse at a moment’s notice. You’ll never have to shuffle through the bottom to locate them.
  • Add a reminder – putting a list of your left-behind essentials on the back of your door can help you get in the habit of taking them with you.

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

The Basics of Organizing

You can say a lot about organization specifics – the best way to organize a junk drawer, great strategies for handling bills, or the proper order for your medicine cabinet. Sometimes, though, it’s just handy to live by basic organization principles and apply them where needed. Try applying these basic organizing rules to your daily life:

  • Everything Has a Home: or, as the old saying goes, a place for everything, and everything in its place.
  • Decide Quickly: it’s easy to spend more time thinking about the easiest way to accomplish a task than it would take to do it the hard way. Pick a strategy and get it done.
  • Delegate: you can’t do it all – don’t be afraid to let others help you.
  • Be Honest about Time: it takes time to plan, time to communicate, and time to execute. In your schedule, give your self enough time to plan and give every project a time cushion – you never know when a short simple project will hit an unexpected snag.
  • Follow the Rules: just as children perform better and are happier when given boundaries, when you develop and follow your own rules, you spend less time arguing with yourself and more time accomplishing your goals.
  • Establish Accountability: let someone else know of your goals, whether it’s a trusted family member or a professional co-worker. It can provide some powerful motivation for keeping with your plan.

Like the old proverb of giving a man a fish, if you apply these rules in your daily life, you’ll stay organized for more than just a day.

Do you have any organizing rules you live by?

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Paper Planning – Goals Without Interruptions

Seasons Ring-bound One-Page-Per-Day Planner Refill

We live in a world of distractions, a world where during the course of a single meeting, you can get five notifications on your cell phone – two recurring notifications for obsolete meetings, a spam text, a voicemail from your significant other, and a Facebook notification.

Using a paper planning system helps you focus without being drawn away to other pursuits, letting you write down and accomplish the most important tasks in your life. Rather than getting bogged down with notifications and navigating a touch keyboard, you can remain on task and have your notes in one place.

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Download: Travel Plans Checklist

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

What Children Can Teach You About Organizing

By Carmen Coker

Children live big. They laugh from the heart … play like there’s no tomorrow … dream without boundaries … derive joy from the smallest of things.

As adults, the opposite often happens. We laugh less … play less … dream less.

The responsibilities of adulthood – work, bills, commitments, family – tend to create such a serious and task-driven environment that it’s difficult to enjoy YOU. So you find yourself thinking:

  • I’ve always wanted to …
  • I really miss doing …
  • It’s been a long time since …

And when you think like this, you normally experience one or more of the following:

  • Emotional Clutter: Regretting and maybe even resenting not doing more of what you love or not trying something new.
  • Mental Clutter: Rationalizing and making excuses about why you haven’t done or tried something.
  • Behavioral Clutter: Turning the above regret, resentment, rationalization, and excuses into damaging actions like negative self-talk or lashing out at those around you.

Your organizing challenge is to either do something that you have always wanted to do, or if this “something” is a larger undertaking, then start making it happen by doing research, making reservations or inquiries, or setting money aside.

“Experience all things with the enthusiasm of a child,
as if you were seeing it for the first time. This is the Zen mind.
Always new, always aware, always that of a beginner.”
~ Daniel Levin

It’s time to put on the armor of childhood and … Teach a class. Run a marathon. Travel to Tibet. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Join the Peace Corps. Climb Mount Everest. Learn a second language. Take a poetry class. Meet the US President. Surf in Hawaii. Sing in a choir. Learn to ride a horse. Adopt a dog. Dive in the Caribbean. Act in a play. Learn to juggle. Become a drag racer.

REMEMBER: Even if your space is organized, it doesn’t mean you will feel like you are balanced and fulfilled. Organizing is an inside-out adventure, and you have to declutter all areas of your life to get the results you really want.

Thank you, Carmen! Great advice as always. 

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super OrganizedTM.

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Clean Up Your Schedule

April PlannersHave you ever heard of burnout? It’s a term used to describe a mental state, similar to depression, which comes from excess stress over a long period of time. It can lead to decreased motivation at your job, more apathy and neglect in your personal relationships, and even more illness due to a decreased immune system.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it is time to take a closer look at what you do each day. Filling your schedule to bursting doesn’t let you live more – it can actually lead to burnout and make your life less satisfying.

So how do you clear the clutter from your schedule? The first step is to get it written down. Write down all of your daily tasks and appointments for the coming week. (If you don’t have a planner, we have great April start date designs.)

Then, as you go through the week, take some time to see how much your actual behavior matches your schedule. Periodically write down what you’ve actually done right next to your planned activity. At the end of the week, you’ll have a real record of how you spend your time to analyze.

In today’s world, it’s incredibly easy to get distracted, whether you’re working on an onerous project at work or listening to your daughter in the junior high school orchestra concert. If your analysis shows that you spend a lot of your time pursuing distractions, try cutting a few of them out of the picture. You might be surprised how much a little increased presence can help you enjoy your life and ease your burnout.

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Setting Boundaries for Your Small Business

How you organize your time, work space, and personal life are key ingredients to your small business’s success.

How successful you are in your chosen workspace depends on how well you’re able to set boundaries around your work life. If you previously worked for someone else, most of your working life was probably decided for you-what time to start work, where to sit, how your day is structured, and much more. When you work for yourself, it can feel liberating to set all of your rules-but rules are, nevertheless, still necessary.

Setting some basic boundaries around your work life will help your define your business. This is especially true if you work at home. Consider the following:

Space

  1. How will you set up your desk?
  2. If you work from home, how will you define your work area?
  3. What supplies do you need regularly, and how will you order them?

Time

  1. What are your work hours and days going to be?
  2. Are you going to work evenings or weekends?
  3. How much work do you want to take home with you?

Interruptions

  1. How will you deal with your kids wanting to play when you have an important project?
  2. Will you take personal phone calls during your work day?

Remember, it’s your business-you get to define how you want it to work. Think about what worked (and what didn’t) at your last job, and use that as a starting point for how you’d like your business to be set up.

Joshua Zerkel

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Welcome to the Beginning

Compass Wire-bound Weekly PlannerGraduation is one of those strange endings in life where everything begins. Now that you have that degree, it’s time to apply the things you’ve studied your whole life, right?

Well, maybe-if you’re patient-patient with the job market, patient with your co-workers, and patient with yourself. Maybe my own experience can help explain what I mean.

Temper your expectations.

Fresh from college with a degree in Public Relations, I was bent on getting a job in P.R. However, I learned quickly that most businesses simply don’t have a budget for the job I studied to acquire. Most PR responsibilities are couched inside the Marketing department. So after months of searching, I decided that I liked Marketing.

Do your best-everyday.

My first “real” job found me acting as the entire marketing department-writer, designer, coordinator, photographer, trade show attendee, and PR Manager. I loved that job, but I was afraid I was going to be discovered-certain that, at any moment, someone was going to say, “Hey, that guy’s just faking it!” But I kept smiling and working hard and soon found that people appreciated my work. One day, I confessed my concern with my boss, and he said, “We knew you were straight out of college when we hired you. You’ve exceeded our expectations.”

Be honest.

Many years later, in a job interview with a CMO I told him about that first job and the fear I faced. He told me he still feels that way. “We’re all faking it from time to time,” he said. That simple honest statement from a man I looked up to increased my trust in him, and made me want to work harder for him.

Consistent effort will keep you buoyant.

Before you leave the cozy confines of college, you dream of sailing off and conquering the business world. But once you find yourself in the turbulent waters of industry you’ll realize that your first objective is to keep floating. In today’s economy lay-offs are common. I’ve been through several, but that first one was the hardest. I still remember the date and time of my first lay-off more than 13 years ago.

When I got into my car at 3:05 that gray January afternoon and started driving home to my wife and 3-month-old daughter, I felt like Atlas had asked me to spell him for a while-like I was going to collapse under the weight of my world. In my naivety, I figured I’d just pound the pavement and get another job-but after 4 months, I was wondering if Atlas was ever going to come back. I had some serious doubts about who I was and what I was capable of doing. That was a dark place.

Anyone who has ever been laid off experiences that strain, especially if they’re the sole provider in the home. Luckily, my wife reminded me that I had a Minor in English, and encouraged me to search in other directions. A few weeks later I was working again, but it wasn’t even close to my field of study. I doubted I’d ever work in marketing again.

Ignore negative self-talk.

All that talk of never finding my way back into marketing was just a waste of time and energy. The truth is, we can achieve whatever goal we set if we keep it in the front of our minds and are willing to sacrifice. Track your goals in your planner, continually evaluate them, and break them into manageable pieces, and in time you’ll find you are making new goals.

After six years in the Technical Writing world (and a few more lay-offs), I started networking with ad agencies and was impressed with one tiny shop in particular. I kept in regular contact with them, and eventually they hired me. All that writing had improved my skills and they needed a writer. I had found my dream job-except for the pay.

Learn from everyone.

You’ll gain wonderful insights and broader skills from every position you hold and from each person you work with. The owner of that little agency was a gifted writer who mentored and molded me. I also learned from the designers, the coordinator, my creative director, and especially our statistician who tracked the effectiveness of every piece I wrote.

Learn to market yourself.

Regardless of your field of study or where you work, you need to learn to market yourself-to unabashedly show off your best work. Hold on to everything you create. Whether it’s a spreadsheet showing the money you saved your company, a beautiful set of house plans, or an amazing photo. These items are priceless. That agency provided me with loads of beautiful work samples in the short time I was there-samples that I still use in my portfolio today.

Be willing to sacrifice.

When I left my Tech Writing job for the ad agency, I walked away from a third of my salary. I relied on my savings account to supplement my income, but it was worth it. The education, experience, and work samples from that position launched and revitalized my career. Since working there, I’ve earned everything I ever gave up for that opportunity. And I’ve never had to wonder if I would find work in marketing since.

As you navigate the waters you’ll soon wade into after graduation, I hope that you’ll remember that your education isn’t over-it’s just begun. And every experience you have will build upon the past and make you better able to manage the weight of your world.

Congratulations, and good luck.

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

All You Need To Know About Learning How To Be Organized & Letting Go

By Carmen Coker

A Zen parable tells of a wanderer who happened upon a river. He wanted to cross it, but there was no bridge. Afraid to wade across the river on foot, he spent hours building his own raft from vines and trees, which ultimately carried him safely to the other side.

However, once across the river, he thought to himself: This is a good raft; I might need it again if I must forge another river.

So the wanderer carried the raft with him for the rest of his life.

Consider the moral of this story for just a moment. From the outside looking in, this decision might seem utterly ridiculous. Why would this obviously resourceful guy carry a heavy raft around when he didn’t need to? But, often times, we do this same thing in our own lives. In fact, you may be carrying around a lot of “rafts”!

It’s not uncommon for people to hang on to an item that was useful at one point but has since become irrelevant clutter, because … what if I need this later?what if it would hurt someone’s feelings if I gave this away?what if I regret my decision? There are lots of “what ifs” that can bubble to the surface when you are thinking about getting rid of your things.

In a very basic sense, this powerful Zen parable teaches all you need to know about learning how to be organized and letting go. To start your journey toward living clutter-free, your organizing challenge is to purge five objects that no longer add value to your home, office, or life. Don’t carry these “rafts” when you don’t need to …

WARNING: It’s important not to allow yourself to get a mental block around five if it seems like a lot to you. You could toss five sticky notes, five pens that are out of ink, five pairs of holey socks, five magazines, five expired meds, five old emails. It really is that easy!

Declutter Bigger | Instead of trashing, recycling, or donating five items just this once, decide to do it once a week. You’ll be amazed at how much headway you make.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

Thanks Carmen!

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

 

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Spring Cleaning Checklist

Everybody has their own methods for Spring Cleaning—we aren’t going to dictate what you do with your home, but this checklist should give you plenty of things to cross off as you go. (And who doesn’t like crossing things off their list?)

Click Here to Download our Spring Cleaning Checklist in Classic Size

Click Here to Download our Spring Cleaning Checklist in Compact Size

Click Here to Download our Spring Cleaning Checklist in Pocket Size

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Five-Minute Blitz

By Carmen Coker

The battle drums are rumbling…it’s time to suit up for clutter combat. Let Operation Organize commence! Rest assured, this is one battle that will reduce the amount of clutter in your life – quickly.

TheFreeDictionary.com defines the word “blitz” as an intense campaign. Today’s challenge is to select one area of your home at random, and for five laser-focused minutes, de-clutter with all your might.

Go crazy, and do not let anything stand in the way of your blitz victory. If necessary, and to conquer more of the battlefield, call in reinforcements (kids, spouse, friends) to help.

  • The clutter in the toy room that you trip over daily – blitz it!
  • The utensil drawer in your kitchen that never closes – blitz it!
  • Your messy jewelry box – blitz it!
  • Your sock drawer – blitz it!
  • The mountain of old sticky notes – blitz it!
  • The stack of magazines you’ve been meaning to whittle down – blitz it!

Enjoy the full-out assault on your clutter, and celebrate when you can proclaim MISSION COMPLETE.

Get Bigger Results | Instead of leading a five-minute blitz, try a 20-minute one. Not once, not twice, but five times this week.

Carmen Coker, a former U.S. Air Force officer turned professional organizer, helps individuals clear the clutter that holds them back from living their best life. Claim your free copy of 7 Days To A More Organized YouTM at http://lessonsfromorganizing.com/want-your-story/ – and reduce the clutter in your life in one week or less!

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

4 Tips for Eco-Friendly Organizing

Getting organized can be a fantastic way to simplify and streamline your busy life. The process of getting organized can involve weeding through (and discarding) some of the belongings that have been keeping you from living how you want to live, and finding other products that can help you live in more comfortable, effective way. Tossing some things out while also potentially getting new things may seem to be at odds with eco-friendly living, but there ARE ways to be eco-friendly while getting organized. Here are four things to keep in mind:

1. Repurpose what you have. Before getting rid of your stuff, see if you can use what you have in new and different ways. Turn things on their sides, take them to different rooms, and match things up in unusual ways. For instance, an extra bowl from the kitchen can make a great “key-catcher” by the front door. Checkbook boxes transform into drawer dividers, and plastic trays that fancy chocolate comes in are great for organizing earrings. Another example: I have a client who is a scrapbook artist. We used transparent plastic bins to store her supplies, which were functional but not very attractive. Instead of buying new bins, we used some of her extra decorative paper to line the bins and hide the contents. Look around your space – what can use differently?

2. Buy eco-friendly products. You may need to buy specialized organizing products, such as desk accessories, drawer dividers, and other things that will help you get and stay organized. Stores such as Good Girl Goods (goodgirlgoods.com) and the Container Store (containerstore.com) carry many products that are made from recycled or natural materials. Consider products that will make it easier for you to recycle, such as sorters that can help you separate glass, paper, compost, etc.

3. Store the right way. Store your items in a way that will best preserve them. First, make sure you have the right containers. If you’re storing photos or documents, choose acid-free boxes, not plastic bins. Keep clothes in a sealed container, not in a suitcase. Second, be conscious of the location where things are stored. Keep issues such as moisture, light, and temperature fluctuations in mind. A damp garage isn’t the right spot for paper, and a bookshelf in direct sunlight will quickly fade your precious photos.

4. Discard responsibly. After weeding through your stuff, you’ll probably be left with lots of things that need to find new homes and some that can be recycled. When working with clients, I usually recommend that they get rid of things in this order: sell, donate, and recycle. Items of value can be sold on eBay (ebay.com), Craigslist (craigslist.org), at a garage sale, or in your local paper. Call your favorite charities and see what items they are accepting – frequently charities will come and pick up your donations for you, saving you time. Items that are left over after selling or donating can often be given away via Freecycle (freecycle.org). Finally, the items that have no value to you or others can be responsibly recycled.

Simplifying and organizing your life while being environmentally responsible is possible! When embarking on your next organizing project, keep these four tips in mind. You’ll be able to feel good about taking steps toward living the life you want in an eco-friendly way.

Joshua Zerkel

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

On-The-Wall Organizing

Happy Family by UrbioIf you ever attend a junior high school dance, you’ll learn a lot about organizing. First: People sort automatically. The “popular” girls will be huddled in a corner away from the speakers giggling over their shoulders. The athletic boys will have their own section with a convenient wall to hold them up while they pose. Then there will be the rest-sorted even further by interests and habits, but mostly by perception. And only the bravest will be huddled around the refreshment table.

But the biggest thing these awkward kids could teach us about organizing is: You can fit a whole lot against a wall. See that wide-open space in the middle? Yeah, that’s the dance floor.

In our homes and offices, we tend to reserve the walls for paint and a few special pieces of art, and our work surfaces become cluttered with the business of the day. Evidently, work surfaces aren’t meant for working. Like these youngsters, we could certainly make better use of our walls. A few shelves or a bookrack can turn special trinkets into display pieces instead of desk clutter.

Gadget Wally Organizer by KangaroomEven the things that were never meant for display can have a spot on the wall. You can keep all your gadgets, from video game controllers and cables to smartphones and remotes, neatly organized and easy to find in the Gadget Wally Organizer. With its unobtrusive neutral color, various pockets, and pouches, it will clear the clutter on a desk or in a drawer in just a few minutes-keeping it permanently off your desk, and on the wall where it’s easy to find.

If you want to turn your wall organization into a beautiful blend of art and order, check out the Happy Family wall organizers. These beautiful magnetic vases and bins attach to specially designed plates or to a metal door and give you an impressive assortment of shape and design that both intrigues and organizes.

Do you find yourself buried in mail, magazines, coupons, or schoolwork? Make sense of it all with beautiful, understated Mesh Wall Pockets. They look great empty, and when they’re full, they won’t look nearly as cluttered as your countertop.

Panel Bin 9 Pocket by SafcoIf you enjoy crafting, or just have odds and ends that you can’t find a place for, the Panel Bin 9 Pocket is a great so44260lution. It mounts easily on the wall giving you nine bins with spring-loaded, see-through lids to keep you from losing that special rivet or set of buttons.

Managing your time is easily done on the wall too. If you have a big week ahead you can keep the whole group informed with the Magnetic Dry Erase Weekly Planner. It provides ample space for your daily events and gives you room for notes or a shopping list, so you don’t forget the important things. Plus, it wipes clean so it’s ready for the next week.

So if your workspace could use a wide-open area in the middle, take a hint from the kids at the junior high school dances and stick a few more things to your walls.

 

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Break The Procrastination Cycle

By Carmen Coker

Everyone’s got one of those tasks that never seems to get done, no matter what. You know you are in trouble when you start to joke about it, laughing at your failure to accomplish the task. Making light of the situation takes the sting out of the fact that you have procrastinated yourself into Never Never Land.

Yet, when you ignore tasks you should do, that doesn’t mean they leave your mind. They remain nagging little thoughts that may:

  • Keep you awake at night.
  • Distract you from other tasks and projects.
  • Become enablers for excuse-making.

Think of all the things to which you have given lip service, or mind service, about getting done – but subsequently, you pushed them aside for something else, or perhaps nothing at all.

“How soon ‘not now’ becomes ‘never’.” ~ Martin Luther

Never, nada, zilch, zero. Have no doubt that those results are the only results that procrastination will give you.

Today’s challenge is to break free of the procrastination that has become a vicious cycle in your life. Pick one task that’s been eluding completion for too long now – and just do it!

Get Bigger Results | Instead of picking one task for the entire week, pick one task for each day of the week.

Great advice as always Carmen! 

Carmen Coker, a former U.S. Air Force officer turned professional organizer, helps individuals clear the clutter that holds them back from living their best life. Claim your free copy of 7 Days To A More Organized YouTM athttp://lessonsfromorganizing.com/want-your-story/ – and reduce the clutter in your life in one week or less!

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Easy Steps to Starting Your Organizing Journey

As a business owner, you’ve probably already been faced with one of the biggest challenges – staying organized and productive.

Realizing that you need to make time to get yourself organized is one of the biggest steps to getting organized.  It isn’t enough to simply say, “I’ll file that stuff later.”  Later never comes.  When was the last time you had a bunch of free time to get organized?  Yeah, me neither.

The first step you can take to getting organized is to schedule some time once a week to work on your office.  Make it a small amount of time, like 30 minutes or an hour.  Keep it manageable, with an end time in mind.  Don’t take a whole day off of work to get organized – it will seem too overwhelming and it won’t get done. By focusing on a little at a time, you will get more done and have a sense of accomplishment.

So how do you get started?

Start with the number one thing that bothers you every day.  For example, I get a ton of email and before I know it, my inbox is over 200.  So one of my organizing goals is going through my email inbox and going through each email and deciding what to do with it.  Some of the emails will be deleted, others will be filed, and some I need to reply to.  What is it that bothers you most each day? Start working on getting that organized and under control, and then move on to the other parts of your business life that could be better organized.

Action Steps for this Week

1.       Schedule some time on your calendar to get organized – make an appointment with yourself!

2.       Make a list of your top 3 organizational challenges

3.       Start with your #1 organizational challenge and make a plan to work on it.  For example, if you want to clean out your email inbox, your goal should be to reduce it by 25% each time you work on it until it gets to xx (this number is the number of emails you feel are manageable).  Everyone’s goal is different — some people want zero emails in their inbox, some feel comfortable with 50.  Make a goal that’s right for you!

Excellent organizing advice Josh, thanks for sharing! 

Joshua Zerkel

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Want To Get Organized – For Good? Here’s How To Make Your New Year’s Resolution Last

By Carmen Coker

So you recently made a New Year’s Resolution “to get organized.” Well, you’re in good company! Organization is always a popular top ten resolution every year.

But now that you’ve set the organizing goal, how do you successfully negotiate the ins and outs of accomplishing it? Here are four simple tips to do just that.

(1) Have a plan.

Don’t say:
 My New Year’s Resolution is to get organized.

Do say: My New Year’s Resolution is to better manage my time. (Or: tidy up my closet, organize my estate, etc.)

Speaking in generalities leads to doing in generalities, and you’ll rarely be happy with the outcome. In other words, if you don’t have decisive organizing goals, you won’t get decisive organizing results. Take the time to make a plan … you’ll be glad you put in the extra effort.

(2) Make a schedule.

Don’t say: I know what I want to organize, and I’ll get to it when I have time.

Do say: I know what I want to organize, and I need to make a schedule of when to do it.

If you treat your organizing sessions like a regular appointment, you’re more likely to take it seriously and follow through with your plan.

(3) Focus.

Don’t say: This week, I’m going to overhaul my kitchen, organize my files, get ready for taxes, clean out my closet, update my address book, re-do my schedule …

Do say: This week, I’m going to organize my tax-related files.

If you try to take on too many organizing projects, you will surely fail. Focus on one task – and one task only – until it’s complete. And let that success, as little or as big as it may be, propel you onward.


(4) Have a positive attitude.

Don’t say: Man, this is gonna be hard! I don’t know if I can …

Do say: It may be a challenge to organize my house, but it’s a challenge with big rewards! I will have a home that makes me happy and that I’m not embarrassed to have other people see.

As Thomas Jefferson put it: “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on Earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” Your thoughts channel real power to help you achieve your organizing milestones – so think positively, and put those brain bytes to good use!

Great advice as always Carmen! 

Carmen Coker, a former U.S. Air Force officer turned professional organizer, helps individuals clear the clutter that holds them back from living their best life. Claim your FREE copy of “33 Easy Ways to Simplify Your Life TODAY” atCarmenCoker.com/free-organizing-gift

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Finding a Work/Life Balance

Have you ever had the nagging feeling that you should be doing something else? It might come when you’re looking at family pictures on Facebook during work hours, or when your kids call you late in the evening and ask you when you’re coming home. Finding the right work/life balance can be one of the biggest (and toughest) parts of finding satisfaction with your day-to-day experiences. Luckily, the key to developing an effective balance lies in proper organization and time management.

Our 2013 Resolutions Survey featured a new entry on the list of top resolutions – “Improve Family Relations”. With so many people working extra hours during this time of economic uncertainty, it’s not surprising that this resolution worked its way up the list.

So how can you balance your work life with your personal life? Start by scheduling out times to spend with your family and friends. Having a bowling night or girls night out scheduled on your calendar can give you something to look forward to, giving you more motivation to make it through the workday. You can also schedule time in the morning before work – a daily breakfast with your kids can be a great time for building relationships without other tasks getting in the way.

When you get to work, focus on working efficiently. Taking time from your tasks to check social media sites or listen to your co-worker’s latest drama can put you further behind than you might think – along with the time spent during the distraction, you face a loss of concentration on the task at hand. If you find ways to increase your focus, you might find that you can finish your nine-hour day in less than eight hours.

In the end, concentration is key. If you take time to exercise and get enough rest each evening, you’ll have an improved mental state that can help you work quickly. And during your relaxation time, focus on relaxing – without the constant pull of the mobile office.

Click here to view the 2012 vs 2013 New Year’s Resolutions Infographic.

 

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Forming a Habit

In the spirit of the New Year, I’m here to answer the burning question that you may have…sorry, it’s not the recipe to my homemade cookies…that will remain a mystery!    The true question is, how long does it really take for a habit to form?   Do a Google search, like I did and you’ll find many different answers.   If you’re like me, you won’t get to page 2 of your search, as you just want the clear answer!  It’s the same with New Year’s resolutions.  We want what we want and we want it now!  Waiting is a difficult thing, in this age where technology is fast but we want it to be even faster.    Frustrations abound when there isn’t any instant gratification and hence people give their resolutions up so quickly.

So, what is that answer to, how long does it really take for a habit to form?  Well, honestly, there isn’t a magic number.  The consensus from the Google answers is that it takes between 21 and 28 days.  I know, that can seem daunting, but there are ways to keep your goals and still have fun.  When it comes to organizing, (and I’m assuming that’s one of your goals because you are reading a blog on a site in which we help people get organized!) start small.  Have you heard the quote from Francis of Assisi, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!”?  If you push yourself and do too much before you’re ready for it, then you may feel like giving up.  Try these simple methods to help you get organized a little bit every day, when you might not even think to, so that before you know it, it may just become your favorite habit!  Well, a close second, maybe? Ha ha!

1)       TV Commercial Breaks – Use these 2-3 minute chunks of time during your favorite shows to organize a shelf or a drawer.

2)      On a Phone Call – You know those people in your life who just like to talk your ear off on the phone!  You don’t need to neglect them, just put the caller on speakerphone and you have your hands free to straighten up a closet, hang up clothes or put away laundry.

3)      While Cooking Dinner – Use this time to straighten up your kitchen counters and go through junk mail.

-Or-

4)       Just pick any time!  Use a timer, either a good old kitchen timer or the one from your smart phone and set it for 15 minutes.  See what you can get done in that time in the area of your choice and if you feel motivated to do more, than do it!  If not then don’t!

One final tip is to keep a tote or basket handy, in a central location, for each member of the household.  As you are organizing, you are bound to find items that belong to others in their bedrooms or in other rooms.  Once a day, make sure that the items from the basket are brought to each respective area by the person it belongs to.  With the new tips you’ve learned, you can teach everyone else in the family how to organize just a “bite” at a time too!

Thanks for the clever organizing advice Naomi! If anyone else has some organized hosting tips or tricks, feel free to share in a comment.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

How To Keep Your Resolutions

The results are in – here are the top five resolutions from our 2012-2013 survey:

1.      Become more physically fit

2.      Improve financial condition

3.      Improve health

4.      Lose weight

5.      Read more/become more educated

Resolutions 2013 Infographic

In an interesting twist, we also asked our respondents about their resolutions’ duration, both which resolution they gave up first and which one they stuck with the longest. Losing weight topped both lists.

So what makes the difference between those who keep resolutions and those who don’t? It’s more than just willpower – there are several steps that you can take to keep your resolutions going long past January.

First off, make sure that your goals are realistic, and expect change in small increments. Losing 20 pounds by the end of January simply can’t be done in a healthy way (which goes against the physically fit goal). But developing a plan for diet and exercise designed to help you lose a more realistic five pounds each month can help you get on your way, and provide small successes to celebrate.

Try this mental exercise – whatever you do, don’t think about an elephant. Of course, it’s impossible to avoid thinking about an elephant. Strangely enough, though, when tempted to break a resolution, you might spend mental energy trying not to think about the problem, staying in that uncomfortable place called indecision.

In one famous study, researchers put a toddler in an empty room with a marshmallow, instructing the toddler that if they waited 15 minutes without eating the marshmallow, they could have two marshmallows. Two-thirds of the kids ate the marshmallow. But a follow-up study showed that kids who could distract themselves by looking at the walls, reciting a rhyme, or playing a mental game, did much better at the test. They weren’t thinking about the marshmallow, so they weren’t spending energy deciding not to eat it.

Developing your own distractions can help you defuse the situations where you’re tempted to break your resolutions. If you’re used to hitting the vending machine at lunchtime, plan on running an errand instead, or take a short walk to the drinking fountain. Trying new activities to replace your old habits can also keep you from thinking about your resolutions.

Finally, keeping a resolutions journal can help you stay accountable to yourself for your actions. Each day, write down how things went, whether you were 100% compliant or whether you fell off the wagon. If you make a small mistake, you can also write down the situation where the mistake happened and plan ideas for how you can get back on track the next day. After all, falling off the wagon isn’t an excuse for running down the road in the opposite direction.

When you spend enough time planning your resolutions, your mind is free to enjoy the benefits those resolutions provide. Here’s wishing you the best of luck with your resolutions this year!

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Clean & Green: Help The Environment By Getting Organized

By Monica Friel

We all want our beloved earth to last and flourish for future generations. How we utilize what we have can truly make a difference in our pursuit of helping the environment. When you think about your stuff; what you buy, how you use things, why you keep what you keep, it enables you to take an honest look at how you’re doing your part to reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose. Here are a few ways that the process of getting organized can actually help you to be more earth friendly:

Knowing what you have. When your space is organized, you know where things are, you can look and know immediately if you need to replenish your supply. In your closet, for example, if you keep all of your white shirts together, you can see exactly what you have, know what condition it is in, and decide when it may be time to add or subtract from your collection. In any area, knowing what you have will help you to make well informed purchases.

Keeping a mental inventory. Through the process of organizing, you must weed out and make decisions about what to keep and what to eliminate. This process of going through each and every item not only helps you get rid of what your not using, it also helps to mentally inventory what you have so you don’t over-purchase.

Strive to minimize. With all the attention that’s been given to environmental friendliness, there is an endless supply of gadgets and gizmos you can purchase to help in your green initiative. However, retailers don’t often mention that one of the most important elements in being earth friendly is not what you purchase, it’s what you avoid purchasing. When making any purchase, be clear about its use and value to you, as well as what effect your purchase may have on the environment. Small purchases add up. Think of what you can do to reduce your personal consumption.

If you desire to be more organized and want to be environmentally conscientious at the same time, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Your home is not a recycling center. Do you have a perpetual pile for the always elusive yard sale? What about the pile of things you want to eventually sell online? Stop putting it off, set a date, mark it on the calendar and hold the sale or post the items and get the ball rolling. If you don’t give yourself a deadline, the items could linger endlessly. Remember, having a yard sale, selling online or donating your items means putting things you no longer use  back into circulation, not only helping the environment, but also helping someone who may not be able to purchase that item new.

Sentimentality vs. Functionality: Is your space filled with sentimental items that you’ve been guilted into keeping? For example, Grandmothers rocking chair in your basement. Is Grandmother being honored by her rocking chair sitting there, or does the fact that its there taking up space you’d like to use for something else frustrate you whenever you walk past? If so, think of ways you can minimize what you have by still honoring Grandmother. Can you take a photo? Save another, smaller item that reminds you of her? Find alternate and creative ways to remember her, wouldn’t you want someone to do the same for you?

Beware of being over-earth friendly. Many times we hang on to things because they are too valuable to toss or give away. In the pursuit of finding the perfect owner, items linger in your home indefinitely causing clutter and frustration. If you’re pile of recyclable plastic bags is overtaking your kitchen pantry, set time aside to get them to the store’s recycle bin, or get rid of them. Think of an item’s recycle value in comparison to the value of that space.

So if you want to make some headway in your green initiative, it’s a good idea to start getting organized today!

As always, thanks Monica for more great tips! 

Monica Friel

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

5 Tips To Jumpstart January

Real Life Adventures Ring-bound Daily Planner RefillWe have a thing for January. It’s National Get Organized Month. All that sorting, stashing, planning, and relocating are right down our alley. It’s what makes us tick—not because any one of us individually is perfectly organized, but because for a whole month the dream feels almost attainable. And even if we never find that perfect state of organized nirvana, the efforts we make at the first of the year make a huge difference.

The list of things we could do in January is enormous, but sometimes we need a little jumpstart to get going. (Like that rusty, yellow 1973 Ford Pinto my brother drove to college.) Anyway, here are a few little things to get you started:

What’s In Your Freezer?

Now that the holidays are over, you’ll want to empty your freezer and see exactly what you have in there. Throw out anything that’s freezer burned or expired and make sure you aren’t hiding something wonderful behind your leftover turkey. You may be able to center your next few meals around the discoveries you make. Better to eat it while it’s good than waste it later.

Update Your New Planner

January is a good time to transfer important numbers, dates, and information from your 2012 calendar to your new 2013 calendar. Make sure you aren’t missing important items like birthdays, anniversaries, and your children’s healthcare specialists.

Prepare for April 15th

By now you’ve probably got most if not all of the paperwork you needLovisa File Box w/ 12 file by Bigso Box of Swedentofile your taxes from your employers, banks, and investments. Now you just need to gather the information that has accumulated throughout the year. Determine your medical expenses, travel costs, home business expenses and income, etc. and store it in a file box so you can easily file your taxes for the year.

Set An Achievable Short-term Goal

Most of us are focused on long-term resolutions at the beginning of the year. That’s fine, but who wants to wait a whole year before they get the satisfaction of having completed a goal? Take one of your long-term goals and break it down to pieces that you can accomplish in a month. Maybe in January you want to run or walk 3 to 4 days a week. That’s a short-term goal for the month with just enough flexibility built in to make it achievable, and it will move you toward your longer-term goal of developing a healthier lifestyle. Hint: if you schedule the days you plan to exercise in your planner and on your wall calendar, you’ll improve your chances of getting it done.

Start A Compelling Novel

Sure it’s not a way to get organized, but if you’re like the rest of us, your days will soon be getting longer and you’ll want to be outdoors and on the run. While you still have longer evenings void of major yard work, pick up that novel you’ve been meaning to read and escape reality for a few minutes each day. When you close the book and re-join the real world, you’ll feel a little more refreshed.

However you choose to start your new year, we hope you do it with a smile and with a positive outlook. Having an upbeat attitude toward life goes a long way.

Good luck and happy 2013.

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

5 Secrets For Waking Up Organized

By Carmen Coker

Scarlet O’Hara famously said in Gone With the Wind, “Fiddly dee, I’ll worry about that tomorrow!” And if you want to have a hectic morning, then you should definitely try to emulate her. But if you want to have a smooth morning routine, a little planning and prep the night before will help you get organized and ready to be on your way …

1) Select your clothes.
Pick out your clothes for the next day. Iron anything that needs it. Don’t forget accessories: jewelry, cuff links, hose, socks, shoes, panties, boxers, scarf, tie, or purse. If you have kids, the same should be done with their outfits.

2) Pack your bags.
Fix your lunch, get your gym bag ready, and make sure all necessary items for the next day are tucked into your briefcase, backpack, or purse. Again, if children are in the picture, then their bags should be prepared as well.

3) Check your planner.
Look over tomorrow’s activities. This will refresh your memory about must-do items or things you need to take with you the next day.

4) Collect your stuff.
Place your keys, cell, wallet, purse, laptop, briefcase, etc. in one spot, preferably close by your door. It’s a good idea to make this staging ground near an electrical outlet, so battery-powered items can recharge overnight.

5) Get your sleep.
Go to bed in time to sleep 8 hours (or whatever your body requires to be rested). Otherwise, you are guaranteed to hit the snooze and sleep later than you should!

Carmen Coker, a former U.S. Air Force officer turned professional organizer, helps individuals clear the clutter that holds them back from living their best life. Claim your FREE copy of “33 Easy Ways to Simplify Your Life TODAY” atCarmenCoker.com/free-organizing-gift

Thank you Carmen!  I’m pretty good about selecting my clothes the night before, but these other tips will sure be helpful.  I’m adding “create a morning routine” to my 2013 goals!

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Making Your Planner Work For You

It’s been a while since we’ve had a serious discussion about planners. With the year coming to a close and another starting fresh, now is the perfect time for a refresher. You’ll soon be setting goals for a new year, and using a planner will make reaching those goals a little easier. Here are a few thoughts to help you plan from some of the most organized people we know.

Our CEO, Sarah Merz Devoll:

Sarah Merz DevollI am a devoted paper planner user and have been for decades.  Over the years, I’ve developed several special planning approaches that help me make sense of my commitments, goals, and progress toward those goals.  Here are just a few examples:

  • Spatially sort your task list – I list my work tasks from the top down, and my personal tasks from the bottom up. That way, I can easily keep track of progress on both aspects of my life. I try to keep a balance by not letting the bottom list creep up the page faster than the top list creeps down the page, and vice versa.
  • Create a highlighted day code to track important things – On days when I get a good workout in, I highlight the date with a pink highlighter on the monthly tab. A month full of pink dots is a health month. A month with no dots is embarrassing.
  • Add pages for big days – About once a month, I have an event that has lots of moving parts. It could be a dinner party, a board meeting, or a project with my husband. I add a blank page in my planner next to that date and keep all my running lists on that page. I always know where my notes are because the date is top-of-mind and when the day arrives, my thoughts are all collected in front of me.

I look forward to learning planning tips from others as well, so I can continue to adapt and make my planner even more helpful.

Steve Shumway, Vice-President, Product Development

Steven ShumwayI started using a day planner years ago when they were a “must have” for any businessman.  I continued to follow the trends and graduated to a PDA and eventually to a smartphone, which I now use in conjunction with my iPad.  Still, there is one enduring concept I appreciate now more than ever despite all the advances in technology and the changing trends over the years- I need something to write on!

I use the FranklinCovey Leadership 1-page-per-day planner that fits nicely into a beautiful leather cover.  It allows me to capture meeting notes by date along with recording assignments, projects, things I need to remember, and notes to myself.  This planner keeps them neatly organized and makes it easy to transfer some of this information to my electronic devices.

I used to be very concerned about fashions and trends.  I now concern myself more with practicality.  I want to do what works and I find my planner is what works for me.  I love my electronic devices but they are only part of the total organizational equation.  Still, with a business case, a planner cover, and an iPad cover that are all coordinating, I satisfy my need for style.

I am confident technology will continue to emerge and the next big thing is just around the corner.  I am also confident, despite these advancements, my FranklinCovey planner will continue to be the cornerstone of my personal organization.

And from Product Manager, Jennifer Andrews:

Jen AndrewsI’ve been using planners for many years, and as technology and my life have changed, so have my planners. In high school (way before cell phones and tablets) I used it for everything. I kept all my phone numbers, addresses, birthdays, calendars, tasks, notes, pictures, and journaling in my planner. It went with me everywhere. As I entered college, my planner became my lifeline to keep on top of homework, project and work schedules. I found it kept me from losing my mind as I had so much going on.

As I entered the working world, my planner came with me, but it changed. As I began to use technology more and more, I found I no longer needed my planner for my calendars and birthdays, as my computer reminded me of them. And my contacts were also now being stored electronically. I tried a few times to keep everything on a smartphone or my computer, but found myself frequently frustrated as I tried to keep track of notes and tasks in meetings and throughout my day. I needed my planner.

I’ve finally settled on a weekly planner format. I love being able to keep my entire week in front of me at a glance. If I see that I already have a lot of tasks stacked up for Tuesday, but Wednesday’s open, I can schedule my own time better. It keeps me from being stressed out when I can see it all laid out in front of me. I also love that I can put a task in the future; even a few months down the road, and know that it will be there. I don’t have to worry that a glitch in my computer erased it, or it didn’t sync to my iPhone due to a bug in the last update. I wrote it in ink, it’s still there.

If I wake up at night unable to sleep thinking about something I need to do the next day, I grab my planner, write it down and know that task will hit me when it needs to. It keeps me on top of the many hats I wear. My planner is a dear old friend, she keeps me organized, she keeps me sane.

Is your planner a dear friend that keeps you organized and sane? If not, take a closer look at the way you plan. Your planner is waiting to help you make more of your time.

For more help using your planner take a look at this helpful video.



 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

How To Get Organized In 2013

By Monica Friel

Does your New Year’s resolution involve getting organized? Make 2013 the year that you commit to better organization. Don’t think of being organized as an elusive, far-off goal. Create routines to help lighten the load and bring the chaos to order today. Here are 5 tips to help get you started:

Structure Your Day When time is unstructured, it can leave you feeling scattered and unaccomplished. Start each day with a clear plan. Make lists of what you need to do and prioritize them. Structure your day around those goals.

Create Habits Small habits of putting away and finishing up what you’re doing can have huge benefits in maintaining order. Here are some creative ways to get a new habit to stick.

Do Less. Creating a tight schedule without time to re-group will set you up for failure. Plan ahead for inevitable distractions. If things happen to run smoothly, you can make productive use of that extra time.

Be Charitable Having a good cause to donate to will help get the clutter out, while helping someone else in need (not to mention the tax deduction). Regularly asses what you have and weed out the excess.

Create A Place  If you have 15 minutes to straighten up, but don’t know where to put anything, that 15 minutes is wasted. Having a place for everything is essential to living organized. Invest in furniture and containers to make maintaining order easier.

Organization doesn’t just happen, it  is  a discipline and a constant process. Commit to making 2013 your most organized year yet!

Thanks, Monica!  We know 2013 will be a great year!  

Monica Friel

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Prepare Your Perfect Paper Planner!

By Naomi Cook

Can you believe that 2013 is right around the corner?  Are you ready for it?  Better yet, is it ready for you and all that you have to do?!   Now’s the time to figure out your plan for your planner, and what better place to start than FranklinPlanner, where you can find a variety of paper planners to create your own unique system!

Do you prefer a paper planner, or do you favor having an electronic planner on your phone/computer?  Maybe you have taken on a hybrid of both, where you write down personal appointments in a paper planner, but add work appointments into your electronic planner.  I have gone through stages where I prefer one over the other, but have found that a paper planner is the right fit for me, because I am a fan of check marks and crossing off tasks.  Yes, I am a professional organizer and a perfectionist, and I’m proud of it!

Here are some simple steps that you can take to prepare your own perfect paper planner!  Can you say that 10 times fast?!

–     Things you will need: a mechanical pencil, an eraser, pens in different colors, paper clips, one brightly colored binder clip and a warm drink. Are you asking why you would need a warm drink? Well…it’s because you may be getting hand cramps from writing so much, and therefore it will come in very handy!

1)       Get out your 2012 planner, don’t toss it yet!  There is a lot of valuable information in there that will be repeated in your 2013 planner like birthdays and anniversaries.

2)       Ok, well you know what I’m going to say next…add in those birthdays and anniversaries to your new planner.  Use one color pen for birthdays and another for anniversaries.  As a quick trick to always remember how old someone is or how many years they have been married, add in parentheses after the name(s) that age of the person or number of years of marriage, and increase it by 1 every time you update to your next yearly planner!

3)       As you are scouring your 2012 planner look for any other pertinent information like any tasks that never got done, and any phone numbers or e-mail addresses that were quickly jotted down.

4)       Gather all of your new appointment cards and invitations and start entering those.  I like to use pencil for these dates in case any get rescheduled.  It looks cleaner to erase than cross out.  Once I’ve jotted those down, I like to staple the appointment card or clip the invitation to its coordinating page.  It may make your planner a bit thicker, but you’ll be able to see when an event is coming up.  Once the date has passed take out the appointment card or unclip the invitation and toss it.

5)       Add the brightly colored binder clip (so you can differentiate it from the paper clips) as a page marker so that you always open it up to the current week.

Now that you’re done, put the planner aside until January 1st, celebrate the end of 2012, and get excited for the beginning of an organized new year!

Until next time, stay neat people!

Thanks Naomi for sharing these great ideas!  I look forward to getting a new planner every year and your tips will certainly be helpful. 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Counting Down

31 Days of HolidayI remember one Christmas Eve as a kid. As usual, I couldn’t sleep and woke early only to discover that it was barely 4:00 in the morning. Far too early to slip upstairs and peek. So I tried to sing myself back to sleep by chanting Four O’ Three, Four O’ Three, Four O’ Three…. Four O’ Four. Right about then, I found myself at the bottom of a dog pile—buried by my older brothers.

One note of caution: It’s not a good idea to wake your older brothers at 4 am, even for a Christmas countdown.

I still count down the days until the holidays but I’m not in such a hurry for it to arrive. I’ve learned over the years that the best part of the season is before the big day. Once December 26th arrives, it’s all over, and we’re left with the pangs of Holiday Withdrawal—wishing for something more to anticipate.

Instead of anticipating and placing all of our hopes on one day, it’s more fun to make the days leading up to the holiday special. Family traditions are a great way to soak up as much holiday spirit as possible early and often.

At FranklinPlanner, we have a tradition as well—31 Days of Holiday. It’s the perfect time to find the planner, binder, organizer, or tech accessory you’ve been dreaming of at discounts you may not see again until next year. Best of all, new deals are available each week. So you have something to anticipate all month long…even after December 25th.

Check it out.

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Counting Down

31 Days of HolidayI remember one Christmas Eve as a kid. As usual, I couldn’t sleep and woke early only to discover that it was barely 4:00 in the morning. Far too early to slip upstairs and peek. So I tried to sing myself back to sleep by chanting Four O’ Three, Four O’ Three, Four O’ Three…. Four O’ Four. Right about then, I found myself at the bottom of a dog pile—buried by my older brothers.

One note of caution: It’s not a good idea to wake your older brothers at 4 am, even for a Christmas countdown.

I still count down the days until the holidays but I’m not in such a hurry for it to arrive. I’ve learned over the years that the best part of the season is before the big day. Once December 26th arrives, it’s all over, and we’re left with the pangs of Holiday Withdrawal—wishing for something more to anticipate.

Instead of anticipating and placing all of our hopes on one day, it’s more fun to make the days leading up to the holiday special. Family traditions are a great way to soak up as much holiday spirit as possible early and often.

At FranklinPlanner, we have a tradition as well—31 Days of Holiday. It’s the perfect time to find the planner, binder, organizer, or tech accessory you’ve been dreaming of at discounts you may not see again until next year. Best of all, new deals are available each week. So you have something to anticipate all month long…even after December 25th.

Check it out.

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

How To Break Mental And Emotional Attachments To Your Clutter

By Carmen Coker

A wise Zen master once said: “Be like the wind. Blow over everything without becoming attached to any of it.”

Have you become attached to your clutter? When you are tied to your clutter – whether it’s emotionally, spiritually, mentally, or otherwise – decluttering becomes all the more difficult to accomplish.

Here are five simple ways to break the “ties that bind” when it comes to clutter and help you release any attachments you have to your “stuff”:

1) Adopt a charity.
Adopting a cause of your choice – one that benefits from your donations and in which you strongly believe – will help you make the right decision when the time comes.

2) Practice gratitude.
Hold the item in both hands, and be thankful for all the good things it has brought into your life. Now, envision giving this item to someone else and the many good things it will bring to this individual, encouraging the chain of thankfulness to continue.

3) Think transformationally.
Hold the item in both hands, and think about how it pollutes the environment around you and/or how it is no longer a good fit for your life. Now, envision giving this item to someone else to whom it brings happiness, comfort, or care. Thus, it is transformed from a negative (piece of clutter) into a positive (treasured or needed possession).

4) Take photos.
When you capture a “special something” in photographs, it often provides you the safety net you need to let go. Placing these pictures into a slideshow on your computer desktop, a scrapbook, or a memory box are effective ways you can cherish its meaning and importance instead of the object itself.

5) Hire a professional organizer.
When looking for organizing help, have you ever thought something like: “my husband would just chuck everything out the door” or “my friend would just get mad at me because I can’t get rid of things as easily as she can”? Unlike many in your inner circle, pro organizers come from a spirit of understanding and offer non-judgmental organizing advice that works. Although it may be cheaper to ask friends and family to help you, decluttering will go more smoothly and quickly with a trained expert. Plus, you are guaranteed a happy result!

How can you be more “like the wind” (and less attached to your clutter) today?

Thank you Carmen!

Did you enjoy this article? Like it on Facebook and/or give it a cheer!

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

 

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Simplifying December

Simplifying DecemberDecember is a month to spend with family. Sometimes though, it’s a month spent as your family’s air traffic controller, keeping track of holiday parties, school concerts, classroom treat days, and family traditions. Here are five tips to help you simplify your December and reclaim some quality time with your family.

1.      Organize Your Holiday Gift List

Helping Santa get the things on everyone’s wish list can be quite a chore. You can simplify this with a basic spreadsheet: list the names of your family members, the gifts they want, where you want to buy it, the cost, and a running total on your budget. Then, when you’re going through the holiday ads and find a great deal, you’ll have a space to record it, saving you the trouble of bringing the mailers with you on your shopping trip.

Color Code Your Life by Board Dudes2.      Track Your Family Events

As your kids bring their school schedules home, take the time to mark their events on your centralized calendar with different colors for each child. Putting events up ahead of time can help you resolve scheduling conflicts with a minimum of hurt feelings.

3.      Make Room For Traditions

With all the holiday fun going on outside your home, make sure to make time for your own family’s holiday traditions. Whether it’s decorating the house, baking pies, dipping chocolate, or watching your family’s favorite holiday movie (“I can’t put my arms down!”), don’t let the holiday rush crowd them out.

4.      Prepare For House Guests

If you’re planning on having family or friends stay with you for the holidays, or even just inviting people over for a party of your own, you will want to present a clean and organized house. If you have any organization projects that you’ve been putting off, it’s better to tackle them well before your guests arrive. You’ll be dealing with travel schedules and other logistics – the last thing you need the day before they arrive is trying to find a home for the boxes in the guest bedroom.

5.      Schedule Down Time

Most importantly, as you look at your holiday calendar, make sure to schedule some down time. With many family members to visit, and all of them expecting a visit on the holiday itself, it’s easy for a series of celebrations to feel like a set of errands. Scheduling out visits on days other than the actual holiday can help make your holiday together time more enjoyable.

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Simplifying December

Simplifying DecemberDecember is a month to spend with family. Sometimes though, it’s a month spent as your family’s air traffic controller, keeping track of holiday parties, school concerts, classroom treat days, and family traditions. Here are five tips to help you simplify your December and reclaim some quality time with your family.

1.      Organize Your Holiday Gift List

Helping Santa get the things on everyone’s wish list can be quite a chore. You can simplify this with a basic spreadsheet: list the names of your family members, the gifts they want, where you want to buy it, the cost, and a running total on your budget. Then, when you’re going through the holiday ads and find a great deal, you’ll have a space to record it, saving you the trouble of bringing the mailers with you on your shopping trip.

Color Code Your Life by Board Dudes2.      Track Your Family Events

As your kids bring their school schedules home, take the time to mark their events on your centralized calendar with different colors for each child. Putting events up ahead of time can help you resolve scheduling conflicts with a minimum of hurt feelings.

3.      Make Room For Traditions

With all the holiday fun going on outside your home, make sure to make time for your own family’s holiday traditions. Whether it’s decorating the house, baking pies, dipping chocolate, or watching your family’s favorite holiday movie (“I can’t put my arms down!”), don’t let the holiday rush crowd them out.

4.      Prepare For House Guests

If you’re planning on having family or friends stay with you for the holidays, or even just inviting people over for a party of your own, you will want to present a clean and organized house. If you have any organization projects that you’ve been putting off, it’s better to tackle them well before your guests arrive. You’ll be dealing with travel schedules and other logistics – the last thing you need the day before they arrive is trying to find a home for the boxes in the guest bedroom.

5.      Schedule Down Time

Most importantly, as you look at your holiday calendar, make sure to schedule some down time. With many family members to visit, and all of them expecting a visit on the holiday itself, it’s easy for a series of celebrations to feel like a set of errands. Scheduling out visits on days other than the actual holiday can help make your holiday together time more enjoyable.

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Holiday Etiquette Do’s and Don’ts

To Do Pad by Knock KnockWhen you plan a holiday party, you come face to face with one of the greatest stress-inducing situations of the holidays. You’re not just responsible for your own enjoyment, but also the experience of all your guests. Consider these ideas for being an effective and gracious host or hostess:

  • Remain Calm – planning a party can involve a lot of effort, so take the time to schedule out each step. Your guests will sense if you’re frazzled, and might feel guilty for causing you extra trouble.
  • Make A List – setting out all the steps to complete will help you keep on track and avoid last-minute surprises.
  • Make Clear Invitations – include all necessary information, like the date, time, venue, whether the dress is casual or formal, and whether or not kids or dates are invited.
  • Cook Food Beforehand – if you’re working in the kitchen, you’re not enjoying the party with your guests. Select meals that don’t require intense preparation: soups, stews, and even some frozen dishes work well and won’t keep you tied down in the kitchen.
  • Focus On Your Guests – throughout the party, keep an eye out for guests with an empty drink or guests standing by themselves. Making the effort to include them in the conversation can help them enjoy the night.

What if you’re attending a party? Here are some tips for being a polite guest:

  • Bring A Gift – the host or hostess worked hard to put together this get-together. Show your appreciation with a small gift.
  • Communicate – if your babysitter cancels on you at the last minute, call and let your host or hostess know that your significant other will be staying home with the kids. Communicating changes helps everyone plan better and avoids hard feelings.
  • Plan For Your Dietary Needs – if you follow a special diet, such as vegetarian or gluten free, offer to bring your own dish to the party. This takes pressure off the host or hostess and makes sure that you won’t go hungry.

Enjoy the festivities!

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Holiday Etiquette Do’s and Don’ts

To Do Pad by Knock KnockWhen you plan a holiday party, you come face to face with one of the greatest stress-inducing situations of the holidays. You’re not just responsible for your own enjoyment, but also the experience of all your guests. Consider these ideas for being an effective and gracious host or hostess:

  • Remain Calm – planning a party can involve a lot of effort, so take the time to schedule out each step. Your guests will sense if you’re frazzled, and might feel guilty for causing you extra trouble.
  • Make A List – setting out all the steps to complete will help you keep on track and avoid last-minute surprises.
  • Make Clear Invitations – include all necessary information, like the date, time, venue, whether the dress is casual or formal, and whether or not kids or dates are invited.
  • Cook Food Beforehand – if you’re working in the kitchen, you’re not enjoying the party with your guests. Select meals that don’t require intense preparation: soups, stews, and even some frozen dishes work well and won’t keep you tied down in the kitchen.
  • Focus On Your Guests – throughout the party, keep an eye out for guests with an empty drink or guests standing by themselves. Making the effort to include them in the conversation can help them enjoy the night.

What if you’re attending a party? Here are some tips for being a polite guest:

  • Bring A Gift – the host or hostess worked hard to put together this get-together. Show your appreciation with a small gift.
  • Communicate – if your babysitter cancels on you at the last minute, call and let your host or hostess know that your significant other will be staying home with the kids. Communicating changes helps everyone plan better and avoids hard feelings.
  • Plan For Your Dietary Needs – if you follow a special diet, such as vegetarian or gluten free, offer to bring your own dish to the party. This takes pressure off the host or hostess and makes sure that you won’t go hungry.

Enjoy the festivities!

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Preparing for the Biggest Shopping Days of the Year

Black FridayThanksgiving is just around the corner. It’s a great opportunity to consider your blessings and be grateful for the things that matter most. A nice meal and a good rest will also give you the energy you need to make it through the next 24 harried hours known to all of us as Black Friday.

Besides food and rest, here are a few more pointers to help make bargain shopping easier:

Check the ads and make a detailed list of the items you would like and which stores might be carrying them at the best discount. Be sure to get the address and phone number of each location.

Organize your trip so you aren’t traveling back and forth. Start with the store farthest away and work your way closer to home as you shop. However, if there is one particular item that you really want, and you aren’t sure it will last, you had better start with that item and work your way down your list from there.

If a store posts a store map online, print it off so you can find what you’re looking for as quickly as possible.

Speaking of speed, it helps to shop with friends so one person can hold your place in line while you zip through the store and grab any items from the list that you can.

Carry your cell phones. It’s the best way to keep in touch with your shopping partners. If their line is moving more quickly than expected, they can encourage you to pick up the pace a bit, and you can also confirm that the items you’re purchasing from their list are really what they wanted.

Gourmet GetawayIf you can’t handle the thought of stopping to eat, pack a lunch. You’ll need nourishment to keep going.

Joni Wallet on a String by Ellington Handbags

With all the bumping and prodding that goes on during Black Friday shopping, you’re likely to bump into a pickpocket. Make it hard for them to steal from you. Wear comfortable, warm clothing and carry a small wallet or purse close to your body.

If you’re serious about finding the perfect gift and wrestling through thick crowds of people, it’s a good idea to leave the kids at home. They’ll enjoy a good restful sleep and hardly notice that you were gone. You’ll be able to move faster and you won’t have to worry about tired, cranky children. (Tired, cranky adults are bad enough.)

Keep all of your receipts in an envelope and double check them when you get home to be sure you were charged appropriately and that you stayed within your budget.

Speaking of budget, avoid impulse items. Try to stay as close to your actual shopping list as possible.

Finally, keep your perspective. Nothing on your list is worth fighting over. The things on your list are just that-things. It’s the person on the gift label that matters. Don’t go into debt, even for something that is on an amazing sale. And remember that yesterday you were doing pretty well without any of the stuff you’re trying to cram into the trunk of your car today. Someday most, if not all, of this stuff will end up outdated and collecting dust in some recycle bin.

Anyway, good luck, and happy shopping.

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Preparing for the Biggest Shopping Days of the Year

Black FridayThanksgiving is just around the corner. It’s a great opportunity to consider your blessings and be grateful for the things that matter most. A nice meal and a good rest will also give you the energy you need to make it through the next 24 harried hours known to all of us as Black Friday.

Besides food and rest, here are a few more pointers to help make bargain shopping easier:

Check the ads and make a detailed list of the items you would like and which stores might be carrying them at the best discount. Be sure to get the address and phone number of each location.

Organize your trip so you aren’t traveling back and forth. Start with the store farthest away and work your way closer to home as you shop. However, if there is one particular item that you really want, and you aren’t sure it will last, you had better start with that item and work your way down your list from there.

If a store posts a store map online, print it off so you can find what you’re looking for as quickly as possible.

Speaking of speed, it helps to shop with friends so one person can hold your place in line while you zip through the store and grab any items from the list that you can.

Carry your cell phones. It’s the best way to keep in touch with your shopping partners. If their line is moving more quickly than expected, they can encourage you to pick up the pace a bit, and you can also confirm that the items you’re purchasing from their list are really what they wanted.

Gourmet GetawayIf you can’t handle the thought of stopping to eat, pack a lunch. You’ll need nourishment to keep going.

Joni Wallet on a String by Ellington Handbags

With all the bumping and prodding that goes on during Black Friday shopping, you’re likely to bump into a pickpocket. Make it hard for them to steal from you. Wear comfortable, warm clothing and carry a small wallet or purse close to your body.

If you’re serious about finding the perfect gift and wrestling through thick crowds of people, it’s a good idea to leave the kids at home. They’ll enjoy a good restful sleep and hardly notice that you were gone. You’ll be able to move faster and you won’t have to worry about tired, cranky children. (Tired, cranky adults are bad enough.)

Keep all of your receipts in an envelope and double check them when you get home to be sure you were charged appropriately and that you stayed within your budget.

Speaking of budget, avoid impulse items. Try to stay as close to your actual shopping list as possible.

Finally, keep your perspective. Nothing on your list is worth fighting over. The things on your list are just that-things. It’s the person on the gift label that matters. Don’t go into debt, even for something that is on an amazing sale. And remember that yesterday you were doing pretty well without any of the stuff you’re trying to cram into the trunk of your car today. Someday most, if not all, of this stuff will end up outdated and collecting dust in some recycle bin.

Anyway, good luck, and happy shopping.

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

The Key to Finding Balance and Getting Organized

By Carmen Coker

When you are responsible for taking care of others – whether it is at work, at home, or both – then taking care of YOU can become a low, maybe even non-existent, priority.

Women, in particular, feel incredibly off-kilter when this occurs, but men are also not immune to self-neglect and its repercussions.

Here’s what I mean …

  • You’re working more hours, so that’s less time for exercise. You gain a few pounds, and your pants are fitting tightly … and you feel blah.
  • You’re juggling lots of responsibilities, so that’s less time for planning. You’ve put off your hair appointment three times, and your roots are scary-looking at best … and you feel blah.
  • You’re on-the-go from morning to night, so that’s less time for your mind to rest. You keep forgetting things, most recently your best friend’s birthday … and you feel blah.

I could go on with examples, but the “blah” feeling is your gut telling you that you’re off-balance. In other words, something in your life is not quite right.

Avoiding self-care, for whatever reason, takes a huge toll on your mind, body, and soul. As Jack Kornfield once explained, “When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with … ourselves.” And that’s never a good thing!

It’s time to stop the self-neglect. This week, begin your journey back to balance by making an appointment that you really need. Whether it’s to see your health care provider or to see your hairdresser, masseuse, manicurist, or chiropractor – do whatever you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle and make you feel good, inside and out.

The bottom line is: The most important thing you can do to find balance and get organized is to take care of yourself.

Great advice as always Carmen! 

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

 

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Are You Wasting Time Trying to Get Organized?

By Monica Friel

Have you ever been motivated to organize your desk/office space and gotten lost in the details? Have you made a plan to get organized and found yourself wasting time trying to figure out how to print the perfect, color-coded file labels? Too often we find ourselves having good intentions to get organized, but wasting time focused on the wrong things. Here are some solutions to keep you on task when organizing:

Watch the clock. Look at the amount of time you can carve out for the sole purpose of organization and stick to it. Don’t let organizing get in the way of other work that needs to get done.

Tackle the tough stuff. It’s easy to organize where you like to. When you’re motivated to work, begin with the area that’s troublesome and stick with it, but don’t venture into other areas until you meet your initial goal.

Don’t create more chaos. Don’t pull everything out of a supply closet if you don’t have the time to put it all back. Keep everything in the space, eliminate what you can then sort and organize.

Piles of paper= unfinished tasks. Don’t try to finish all of the details of every task while organizing. You will find many things that can send you in different directions, don’t let them derail you.

Don’t focus on the details right away. The files don’t need to be labeled, color-coded and perfected. Creating temporary files is a great way to get started. You can slap a sticky note on the file folder and move on.

Organize only where you need it. When you decide to organize a particular area, don’t wander into other places. Get through what you need to organize and get back to work.

Don’t Over-file. Do you have files for every category possible?  Make chronological files for January thru December each year and file all bills and related receipts quickly and efficiently.

Don’t file alphabetically. File according to use. If you use a particular file frequently, keep it close so you can access it quickly.

Remember, organization isn’t about perfection, its about productivity and finding what you need quickly. Remember these tips to keep organization where it belongs, as a process that leads to better productivity, not a task that consumes your whole day!

Thanks Monica for more great tips!  If you liked this article, give it a cheer and/or like it on Facebook.

Monica Friel

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Goal Setting: Final Checklist for 2012

As we approach the final months of 2012, it’s a good time to review the goals you’ve set for the year. You’ll get a sense of satisfaction for all the goals that you have already met or exceeded during the year, and October still leaves you time to recalibrate the goals you haven’t met yet. Keep these principles in mind as you review your goals:

  • Make Your Goals Specific

It’s hard to cross an abstract goal like “eat better” or “be happier” off your list. The more specific your goals, the easier it is to make progress. Try asking the five W questions:

– What do I want to accomplish?

– Why should I set this goal (specific benefits)?

– Who is involved (myself, my family, my coworkers)?

– Where does this goal apply?

– Which requirements and constraints apply?

  • Make Your Goals Measurable

If you can’t measure your goal, you’ll never know when you’ve achieved it. You can measure your goal through daily assessments (“How many days did I eat healthy this week”) or through completed tasks (“I cleared out the compost bins, and I’m one step closer to a beautiful garden next year”).

  • Make Your Goals Attainable

Setting out specific steps and measurable checklist points goes a long way toward making your goals realistic. Seeing everything involved set out in front of you can help you decide whether the goal will stretch your capabilities or just make you snap.

  • Make Your Goals Relevant

When goals matter to you, you have additional incentive to succeed. As you review your list, prioritize your goals in their order of importance. Ask yourself, “Why is this goal important to me?”

  • Make Your Goals Time-Based

The end of the year provides a great deadline for your goals. With your past holiday experiences in your head, December 31 is much easier to picture than August 7. For ambitious goals, set intermittent deadlines to help you make the bigger December 31 deadline.

Whether your goals are personal or professional, following these steps sets you on the pathway to success. With determination and daily planning, you can keep on track and use the rest of 2012 to mold your life to better meet your expectations.

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

When Mad Men Meet Christmas – Vintage Gifts for the Holiday Season

SALT LAKE CITY (Nov. 5, 2012)  – It’s true that the hottest gifts this holiday will focus on technology including iPads, iPhones and Kindles; but even technophiles love classic gifts that were beloved in their first release even decades ago.  Knowing that the classics never go out of style, the gift specialists at FranklinPlanner have compiled a list of their top gift ideas that are vintage in styling, but updated for the modern user.

Among the vintage classics in FranklinPlanner’s 2012 Holiday Gift Guide include:

Vintage Leather Messenger BagVintage Leather Messenger Bags by FranklinCovey (MSRP: $249.95) – One can imagine this bag being loaded on a steamship bound for Europe, or carrying artifacts from an archeological expedition. FranklinCovey updated this buckles-and-pockets design with signature organizational features, and added padded compartments to hold and protect a 15.4″ laptop as well as a 10″ tablet.

Etch A Sketch Case for iPad 2 & The New iPad by HeadcaseEtch a Sketch Case for iPad 2 & New iPad by Headcase (MSRP: $39.95) – Everyone loves Etch-a-Sketch! Now designed for the iPad 2 and new iPad, this impact-resistant plastic case features windows providing access all switches, ports, and buttons. With rubber feet and a felt backing, devices remain secure from scratches and slipping off the table, while the built-in kickstand accommodates viewing at a variety of angles.

Peanuts Portfolio Case for iPad 2 & New iPad by iLuv (MSRP: $49.95) — This plush portfolio case adds lasting protection to the iPad 2 and new iPad, with a unique twist. Its design allows several tilt positions in portrait or landscape for a customized view, and the iconic design reminds recipients not to take life too seriously.

Commemorative Leather Edition of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (MSRP: $84.95) – Stephen R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, has been a top-seller for the simple reason that it ignores trends and pop psychology for proven principles of fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity. This limited edition life-changing book is wrapped in genuine calfskin for a soft touch and quality that lasts for years.

Dr. Seuss Themed 16-Month Calendar by Graphique de France (MSRP: $14.95) – “Do you like to plan ahead? Yes I do, CEO Fred.” Come to think of it, we’ll leave the clever rhymes to Dr. Suess – which show up throughout this eye-catching, 16 month wall calendar.

Classic Century Gold-Filled Ballpoint Pen & Pencil Set by Cross (MSRP: $170.00) –  This icon of American design and innovation is the choice of successful movers and shakers since 1946. Generations later, passionate fans remain loyal to the iconic silhouette, while trendsetters appreciate its authenticity. The 10-karat gold filled/rolled gold finish is preferred over gold plate for its higher gold content and lasting beauty.

 

ABOUT FRANKLINPLANNER

FC Organizational Products LLC is a global retailer and the exclusive worldwide consumer products licensee of the FranklinCoveyTM brand owned by FranklinCovey Co. FC Org. Products helps individuals and organizations achieve greater organization, productivity, and success. The Company’s products are sold throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East and in more 15,000 retail outlets across North America, including FranklinCovey stores. Some of the Company’s best-known consumer products include ever popular FranklinCovey planners, PlanPlusTM Online, as well as a line of laptop bags and totes.  In recent years, the company has added thousands of organizational tools and accessories to its product offering which are distributed through its consumer sites including Franklin Planner, Geekorize, Tidy Nirvana and The Organized Parent . For more information , visit www.franklinplanner.com.

Contact:         Kelly M. Mooney

This Just In PR & Marketing

503.722.4080

kelly@thisjustinpr.com

 

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Recipe for Receipts

By Monica Friel

Of course there are many different ways to deal with the deluge of receipts that continually fill up your wallet and pockets, but what is the best way to organize them? That answer really is individual. When we work with a client who has “receipt clutter” we offer several suggestions, here are a few:

File them. The good old fashioned way of storing receipts is to file them away. However, it’s not necessary to save every receipt. Keep what you think you may need for returns, personal records, and of course for tax purposes_the rest can go.

Stash them. You can also create a convenient space inside a drawer to keep all of your current receipts. This way, when you empty your pockets/purse, there’s a quick and easy place to put them. Be careful to make sure you clean out this spot frequently or it will be another source of clutter and chaos.

Scan them. Scanning is a great way to keep any receipt you may need, without the clutter. Be careful not to randomly scan them on to your desktop, but to place them into carefully marked file folders so that you won’t be sifting through them again in the future!

Photograph them. Use the camera on your smartphone to take a photo of your receipt and save it. Lemon is an app that helps to organize and back-up everything that’s in your wallet.

Toss them. When in doubt, throw it out. We don’t need every receipt for every purchase. Depending on how well you itemize and budget your spending, you can keep either very detailed records, or none at all. Toss what you don’t need, because if you keep too much, you can’t find what’s really important.

Receipts can be a nuisance, so spend a few minutes thinking about what the best system is for you so that you can stay on top of all those random receipts.

Thanks Monica for the great advice. If you liked this article, give it a cheer and/or like it on Facebook

Monica Friel

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

The Biggest Organizing Mistake of All

By Carmen Coker

You’re sure to find a perfectly organized home when you open up any magazine. And those pictures make you think: Man, I wish my house looked like that! 

Of course, the ideal home doesn’t have to be in a book, in a magazine, or on TV. You may need to look no further than your next door neighbor or your own family to find the poster child for neat freak-i-ness. And that person makes you think: Man, I wish my house looked like theirs!

With organizing, as with most things in life, it’s sometimes easy to compare yourself with others. And when this happens, it’s important that you give yourself a reality check.

The perfectly organized home? The perfectly organized life? Here it is:

A perfectionist mindset is the biggest organizing mistake of all because it stops you from having the clutter-free lifestyle you’ve always wanted. Why? You become so fixated on how to “get it right” that you ultimately decide not to start or follow through on your organizing goals.

That’s why being perfectly organized should never be your goal. Instead, focus on creating organizing systems that fit your daily routine and help you have quick access to your belongings.

Of course, doing this is one of those things that can be much easier said than done. So it’s a good idea to remind yourself of the “imperfect action” principle…every single day!

A simple way to do this is to print off this article and cut out the phrase. Then tape it to a spot you see all the time, like your bathroom mirror, or nest it inside something you use a lot, like the loose change in your wallet. You’ll automatically know what it means, and it reinforces the idea inside your head, which is a key step to believing it – and putting it to good use.

Thank you Carmen!  Did you enjoy this article? Like it on Facebook and/or give it a  cheer!

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

8 Lazy Ways to Get Organized

By Carmen Coker

Even if you don’t feel you have the time, money, motivation, or inclination to get organized, there are plenty of low-effort, big-win strategies for banishing clutter, saving time, and being productive.

Part 1: Shopping

Clutter starts at the store. You buy something you don’t need or even truly like … something you might need down the road, but never end  up using … something you thought you would return if you didn’t like it, but you lost the receipt instead. Now, lots of these little “somethings” morphed from a good idea in the store to clutter taking up valuable space in your life.

1. Remove one.

On average, a shopper makes three impulse purchases during 40% of store visits. Before you head to the checkout, whether it’s online or in store, look at your shopping cart and remove one item you grabbed spontaneously.

2. Walk away.

Everyone loves a good bargain. However, almost 90% of all impulse buys are made because the item is on sale. If you discover your favorite store is having a sale, and you know if you “check it out,” you’ll be tempted to buy yet another pair of cute shoes – walk away from the sale.

3. Pay cash.

According to the Journal of Consumer Research, it’s psychologically more painful to pay with paper, where the loss is more tangible, than it is to pay with plastic, where the loss is more abstract. Leverage this pain to crush the urge to go overboard on your shopping trips.

4. List it.

Stores know how to capture easy prey – you.  Unplanned purchases are heavily influenced by the sights, sounds, and smells of the displays. Don’t get caught in the trap! Making a shopping list and sticking to it will ensure you make it safely to the checkout line without extras in your cart.

Part 2: Space & Stuff

While clutter starts at the store, it multiplies at home. It tends to slowly creep up on you. At first, it’s just in the corner or on the table. No big deal, right? Then it spreads … amplifies … irritates … embarrasses … disgusts … until you simply can’t “take it” anymore.

5. Move forward.

Whether you have high, medium, or low levels of clutter – no matter – it’s still easy to get overwhelmed by the thought of getting organized. Create a charity bin, and choose one thing each day to place inside of it. It’s better to focus on one piece of clutter a day and continually move toward your organizing goals, than it is to get overwhelmed and stop completely.

6. Smooth move.

In any given day, you typically putter from room to room in your house without a second thought. Instead, make a conscious choice to declutter as you go. As you leave one area, pick up an item that doesn’t belong and take it to the place in which it does. No extra steps necessary!

7. Stop mail.

The average American receives 49,060 pieces of mail in their lifetime, and one third of it is junk mail. Save your counter space and time by using a free service like Catalog Choice, which streamlines the opt-out process for you so that you don’t personally have to contact each company individually.

 8. Skip traditional.

People tend to write or type lists, instructions, or requests. The process to do this – as well as any resulting paper required – takes up valuable minutes and space. Use your cell phone to record, save, or send out grocery lists, after-school chore instructions, or honey-dos via free mobile apps like Dragon Dictation. It’s much faster than traditional options, plus you won’t lose the note!

Getting organized takes work – but the time you dedicate to the process doesn’t need to feel like a second job. If you make these behaviors into habits, think of the space (and money! and time!) you’ll save in the end.


CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Healthy Lunch

Gourmet GetawayIf you’re thinking of eating healthier and saving money, lunch is a great place to start. The site Accounting Principals surveyed 1,000 people and found that each year, the average American spends $1,092 on morning coffee and $1,924 on going out to lunch. That’s more than $3,000 – think of the groceries that you could buy!

So rather than sending your older kids out with money for the fast food chains, get them involved in the process of selecting their own lunch. As you prepare your shopping list for the week, let them pick some ingredients for a variety of sandwiches, or let them take healthy leftovers. When shopping, take a look at your family size when buying ingredients like sandwich meat, cheese and lettuce – if your family doesn’t eat the meat before it rots in the fridge, you’re not saving as much money as you could.

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

5 Simple Ways to Declutter Your Home Now

By Carmen Coker

When it comes to tidying up your home, organizing and decluttering aimlessly isn’t enough. It’s essential to organize with one goal in mind, and that is to create a sanctuary where you and your family can easily live, work, and play for years to come. Here are the top five residential “trouble spots” for clutter, and what you can do to organize them.

1) The home office

The problem: Overcrowded libraries with books, magazines, and files as well as big electronics like computers, printers, and shredders mean little extra, useable space.

The solution: Toss magazines and newspapers first, as they are normally the easiest to part with and will give you a motivating “win” to start. Give away unwanted books to charity. If your budget allows, consider switching out a desktop computer for a laptop, opening up more room. Dust, label, and arrange the computer cables in an attractive manner.

2) The bedroom closet

The problem: Closets always feel too small, especially to the ladies.

The solution: Remove out-of-season clothing and accessories, and place them (neatly!) elsewhere in the home. Relocate or purge any items that don’t belong in a clothes closet, like sports equipment, papers, and junk. Then situate the remaining in-season items as if on display in your favorite store or magazine.

3) The kitchen

The problem: As the heart of the home, the kitchen sees high-traffic volumes – and it normally looks worse for wear.

The solution: Make your kitchen into an orderly command center. Remember: you want to make sure that your kitchen has everything you need to survive a crisis, not that your kitchen has just survived a crisis. Rethink any small appliances you don’t use on a daily basis. Chuck the junk mail, and use a tidy basket to hold bills and other essential paperwork.

4) The garage

The problem: The garage is a catch-all for … well, everything.

The solution: Pull everything out of the garage, purge the clutter, and then separate the remaining items into categories like auto accessories, camping equipment, yard tools, recycling containers, etc. Find a home for and use tasteful storage to display each category. The key to organizing a garage is to make use of the elevated space, like the walls for storage racks and ceiling for a false attic.

5) The yard

The problem: It’s easy to ignore the dead patch of grass in the backyard because you have more pressing matters, but the outside of a home is reflective of the inside of a home.

The solution: Have a “discovery session,” where you walk around your house making a list of necessary outdoor improvements. Then schedule a daily to-do on your calendar, or outsource the tasks, until all items are crossed off.


Thank you Carmen! 

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Battery Back-Up

Hybrid Snap-On Case & Detachable Extended Battery for iPhone 4/4s by BoostCaseWhether you’re going out for a full day of school or heading home for the weekend, keeping the batteries charged in your devices can make all the difference in your day. But rather than carrying around a coiled charger cord, there are several other options for keeping things powered. Using battery pack cases can more than double the life of your phone, and protect the finish as well. Also, several powered bags now come with their own batteries, letting you charge on the go. Another interesting fact – extending your phone’s battery capacity can help you avoid wasting electricity when charging overnight.

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Scheduling Success – Making the Grade

CorX Magnetic Dry Erase Combo by Board DudesAs my grandpa used to say, “Homework is the key to a better life.” Sometimes it’s hard to see that fact, but it’s still true that the more education a person receives, the better off they are financially and in other areas. But the years-away reward of a successful career and life often loses out to the constant distractions of the moment. Here are four essentials to help you complete homework assignments on time:

1. Set up a schedule command center – When you’re dealing with several different classes, sometimes simply setting up a homework schedule can take a lot of time. Rather than shuffling papers through your backpack looking for assignments, post them all up where you can see them. Use a corkboard to post up each class’ syllabus, then make a priority list on a whiteboard. Or you can combine the two with the CorX Magnetic Dry Erase Combo.

2. Prioritize – Separate the whiteboard into spaces for each class, and list your short-term sand long-term assignments for each. Leave a section for the assignments due this week. When you sit down to do your homework, list all assignments due this week in the “Due this Week” section. Then break down longer-term assignments into tasks and list them in each class section. This will help you estimate the time you’ll need to complete long-term assignments, and make it easier for them to find their way to the “Due this Week” list.

3. Do not disturb – While working on your homework, limit distractions from cell phones, TV, and video games. Multi-tasking rarely works on mental work, so these distractions can eat into your productivity and make your homework take longer. (It’s an interesting experiment – time yourself doing homework with the TV on and with the TV off. You’ll notice the difference.)

4. Pace yourself – You know your limits. If you struggle with certain subjectsSafe Kitchen Timer by Kikkerland and find yourself getting frustrated, then take a break and give your mind a chance to regroup. Eating dinner or spending time in a different location on a hobby can give your brain a chance to unwind. But if you’re easily distracted, setting a timer can help ensure that you get back to your homework and finish it.

What strategies have helped you finish your homework on time?

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Organizing a Yard Sale

By Monica Friel

One great way to help you get rid of that clutter that lingers is to plan a yard sale. Sometimes it’s hard to donate items when you don’t know where they’re going and if they will really be used. It’s easier to get rid of  things when you know your items are going into the hands of someone who wants them. Sometimes a yard sale can be more work than it’s worth, so you need to be organized and efficient in the process. Here are some tips to help keep it simple and successful:

When clearing out the clutter, have an extra bin for yard sale items. Keep dot stickers and a black permanent marker handy to price things right away as you’re clearing through a cluttered place. When you’re motivated about a sale, you’re more likely to sell what you can.

– Don’t go it alone. A sale is a big undertaking, make sure you have someone to help out, there needs to be at least one person on duty at all times. The best option is to have a multi-family sale. Combine your efforts with a friend or neighbor, you’ll have more items to attract customers and more people available to staff the sale.

– Price to sell. Yard sale items are typically lower than thrift store prices. If something is priced for $8.00 at a thrift store, price it for $5.00 at a yard sale.

– Price by bin. Rather than pricing every item, label bins with a price and toss items into that bin.

– Get the word out. Post signs, place an ad in the local paper and go online. There’s even an app for that: Garagesalestracker.com

– The most important part of having a yard sale is making sure that the items ALL go. Since you’ve made the decision to get rid things by placing them in a sale. When your planning, call and arrange for the pickup as soon as possible after the sale ends. Itemize what remains and you can take a tax deduction so you’ll still come out ahead!

Having a yard sale is an undertaking, but if you plan it properly, its a great way to streamline, get rid of excess clutter and feel more organized.


Thanks Monica for the great advice.  Summer is the perfect time to have a yard sale and your tips will come in handy.

Monica Friel

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Travel Light

If you’re heading home from college for the weekend, make it easy on yourself and pack light. First, take all of your unneeded schoolwork and supplies out of your backpack to make room for your Hanging Toiletry Kit. Then plan ahead – select your outfits for the time you’ll be down there, fold them nicely, and put them in one or two bags. If you’re doing activities with specialized clothing, such as swimming, make sure to include swimsuits or other clothes as well. Your house will probably have clean towels – don’t pack your own.

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

The Moments That Make You Disorganized: Common Clutter Traps To Avoid

By Carmen Coker

If you are trying to get organized, close your eyes for just a minute and imagine the moments that make you disorganized. Think through the last day, week, month, or even year(s) of your life … and you’ll see them there, as obvious as the big pile of clutter on your desk.

While it’s true that you should set goals to get organized – and stay motivated to see these goals through – it is often easier said than done. It’s almost as if human nature dictates you’ll be enthusiastic to start, but then quick to drop interest as time goes by.

As Zig Ziglar, the beloved American motivational speaker, once said: “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”

It’s important not to rely solely on your motivational prowess to get you through the moments that make you disorganized. The key is to accept the fact that your motivation will run out at some point and plan strategies to get you through “cluttery” situations.

Here are the top five moments that make you disorganized, and what you can do to outsmart them.

Snoozing

The problem: Hitting the snooze button is one of the most popular morning-time activities in the world. There’s no sleep benefit, as the rest you get is fragmented and, thus, non-restorative. There’s also no time management benefit, as the rest of your day is 9 … 18 … 27 minutes (or more) behind schedule.

The solution: There are lots of tactics to keep the snooze button at bay, including putting the alarm on the other side of the room, setting multiple alarms, or even super gluing your snooze button so that it no longer functions. However, the real solution starts the night before – make sure you go to bed early enough to get the right amount of ZZZ’s you need.

Dumping

The problem: It’s easy to drop things where they are, not necessarily where they belong. Whether it’s mail on the counter, clothes on the floor, or junk in your purse, the clutter will continue to pile up if you allow it.

The solution: Everything you need to know you learned in kindergarten, right? This includes putting an item back in its proper place after you use it. It’s really as simple as that! After all, it takes just as much energy to put the socks on the floor as it does to toss them in the dirty clothes bin, so why not get it right (and tidy!) the first time.

Shopping

The problem: Our world is becoming increasingly consumerist, especially in countries like the United States, Canada, England, and Australia. So much so that, according to the book A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink, “self-storage has become a $17 billion annual industry in the United States, larger than the motion picture business.” So if you keep shopping, you will eventually outgrow your home and have to feed the self-storage monster by getting an extra storage unit to accommodate all your things.

The solution: When shopping in the store or online, don’t let impulse get the better of you. You’ve likely heard of “think before you buy.” In other words, do you really need it? But better yet is “wait before you buy.” Wait three days – are you still thinking about the potential purchase? 80% of the time, you will have either forgotten all about it or decided it’s not a good idea. The other 20% of the time, you will still be pinning to have it. If and only then, should you proceed to checkout.

Memorizing

The problem: One of the biggest reasons you forget – birthdays, appointments, tasks, deadlines – is because you fail to write stuff down. You have 60,000 – 80,000 thoughts running through your head each day, so if you are hoping to simply remember everything based on memory alone, the odds are stacked against you from the start.

The solution: Create a “tickler” system, which allows you to remember the who’s, what’s, where’s, and when’s of your life. It doesn’t have to be a complicated system; it can be as simple as a sticky note on the bathroom mirror.  But it needs to fit with your organizing personality and routine … otherwise, you won’t use it and you’ll be back to square one.

Adjusting

The problem: Life is full of ups, like graduation, marriage, and birth. It’s also full of downs, like divorce and death. When you go through a period of adjustment, it can be difficult to stay on track. You may find you are overwhelmed, distracted, or perhaps even devastated by the change. As a result, clutter – clutter that you normally wouldn’t have or allow – creeps into your home, work, and life.

The solution: Create or get back to your routine and organizing systems as soon as possible. Relying on these tools will help you build a strong barrier to clutter, and they will also give you a massive sense of constancy and stability as you move forward to the next chapter of your life.


Thanks for the great advice Carmen! 

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Organizing with the Time You Have

It’s an interesting exercise to sit back and try to account for every minute of your day. How much time did you spend watching commercials? In your daily commute? Cooking your dinner? All these little segments add up to your lifetime, and so many of them are spent on unimportant things.

So the next time you find yourself with a surprise chunk of free time, here are some ideas on how you can use it to get more organized (before you pull out the smartphone and fling some birds):

15-Minute Projects

– Sort out a single shelf in the closet or a small problem area

– Clear the room of misplaced items and take them to where they belong

– Sort a drawer that needs attention

– Make a task list for the next day on your Sticky Notes Cube

         

30-Minute Projects

– Sort through your craft desk

– Re-organize the cleaning supplies under the kitchen sink (this LaCrate helps)

– Sort through your coupons and use page markers to mark those that are about to expire

– Add decorative boxes to your bookshelves and media center– move or donate unused books or movies

How do you spend your spare chunks of time?

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Think Ahead

I know, it’s only June, but why not think ahead to the holiday season.  Buying gifts for all your close friends and loved ones can be a chore, especially if you leave it until the last minute.  This year start shopping early.  You will be happy you did once November and December roll around.  Lucky for you, you can pick out some great gifts right now during The Biggest Sale of the Year.  Here are a few of my favorite gift ideas:

For the student or frequent traveler: Laptop Porter by Built

For the gadget lover: Smart Back Cover by iLuv

For the business professional or that one person who is always SO hard to shop for: Century II Ballpoint Pen by Cross


Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

When Lists Don’t Work

Generally speaking, a list is a good thing because…

When you write a list, it helps you focus. When you follow a list, it keeps you on track and moving toward list completion. And when you cross off list items, you feel productive.

And yet, despite proven results and positive qualities, lists don’t always work for everyone, every time because…

When you have to make a list, it means you have lots to accomplish. When you have lots to accomplish, you suddenly don’t want to do anything but sit on your couch, watch TV, and eat ice cream.

In other words, making a list is making you procrastinate. At this point, you’ve entered into a mind-game between your lazy self and your productive self, and your lazy self is winning!

If you find yourself in a similar situation, I encourage you to fight back by creating a “NOT To-Do” List to help you get organized.

The “NOT To-Do” List is exactly as the name implies; a list of things you do not want to do.

For example…

#1 The Not To-Do List for Housekeeping

  • Throw shoes by the front door
  • Let mail pile up on the kitchen counter
  • Forget to file bills at the end of month

#2 The Not To-Do List for Time Management

 

  • Hit the “snooze” button on the alarm more than once
  • Check email more than 2 times per day
  • Turn on TV while getting ready for work

 

 

With the “NOT To-Do” List, you’re giving your lazy self permission to be lazy while, at the same time, giving your productive self permission to get things done.

Carmen Coker is a former U.S. Air Force officer turned professional organizer and productivity expert. She provides organizing resources for small business at OrganizedEntrepreneur.com and for house and home at OrganizeClutterbugs.com.

Thank you Carmen!

Did you enjoy this article? Like it on Facebook and/or give it a cheer!

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Big Savings on Business Cases

Right now, we are hosting a High-Tech Traveler Giveaway.  In case you haven’t seen the blog post, make sure you enter by tomorrow, June 22, for your chance to win!  Unfortunately, not everyone can win, and in case you’re not one of our two lucky winners, here are some great business cases you can purchase ON SALE right now during The Biggest Sale of the Year.

Save Up to 30% on the Lucca Tote and Matrix Rolling Laptop Case by FranklinCovey. 

The Lucca Tote will add a pop of color to your day.  This beautiful, durable, and lightweight tote is made out of stamped PVC from Italy.  You will stay impeccably organized and look as composed as you feel while carrying the Lucca Tote.  The Matrix Rolling Laptop Case is a durable, stamped, PVC bag with organization built in. It’s perfect for the business traveler and is loaded with pockets for your travel necessities.

Save Up To 40% on the Geometric Sonja Rolling Laptop Case and the Jeremy 22 Inch Upright Rolling Laptop Case by FranklinCovey. 

The Sonja Case will make you stand out in a crowd.  This case will keep you organized with two zippered compartments and plenty of room for files or clothes.  It also contains a padded laptop compartment, and plenty of space for pens, phones, and business cards.  The Jeremy Rolling Laptop Case has a pocket for everything you will need.  It is ideal for the business traveler on the go and will keep you organized while on the move.

Save up to 50% or more on the Ryder Business Case and Olivia Bag by FranklinCovey.

The Ryder Business Case is the newest member of our Ryder Collection. Quality, lightweight construction, sporty good looks, and an array of organizer pockets are sure to make it your favorite business accessory.  The Olivia bag is right on trend.  It’s made out of scratch resistant glazed leather and comes in two stylish colors.  Brushed nickel hardware adds the final embellishment making it perfect for anyone who wants to stay chic and organized.

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

The Biggest Sale of the Year is Back!

You may have noticed that The Biggest Sale of the Year is back which means big savings for you to enjoy.  While supplies last, you can save 50% or more on a great selection of items- you heard me right 50% or more!  Here are a few of the items on sale now.

Errand.pad

Grocery store, dry cleaners, bank, post office, pharmacy, book store, and on and on. Sometimes it can feel like errands run us, rather than the other way around. The Errand.padTM is a great tool to help you prioritize all the different errands that need to be completed.  Mark the tasks as a priority, a task you should delegate, or done.  The simple layout makes it easy to take back control.  At only $1.49 per notepad I think I may stock up on these to use throughout the year!  

Julia Laptop Bag

A classic black laptop bag never goes out of style.  The Julia Laptop Bag is a sophisticated bag made with durable genuine leather and punctuated with brushed-bass hardware.  This bag is on sale for $49.99- it’s a great price for a gorgeous laptop bag!

Passport Case

Going a trip this summer?  Keeping track of your passport is critical when traveling.  Protect your passport with this fashionable leather case that’s double stitched for durability. However, this case will protect a lot more than just your passport.  The interior also includes 2 credit card slots, a thumb-slide I.D. window, and an exterior pocket for your boarding pass.  You’ll love it’s red color and it’s price of $9.99.

 

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Emergency Preparedness

We live in a comfortable age – much of our lives are electronic, automated, and wireless, from our office work to our communications with friends and family. But even though our well-insulated air-conditioned buildings keep out most of nature’s inconveniences, sometimes nature still gets the better of us.

Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes can all strike with little to no warning, leaving us without power or a place to keep food, and unable to communicate over cellphone networks jammed with emergency calls. Unless you’re prepared, an emergency can be completely disorienting. Luckily, you can get prepared for an emergency by thinking ahead.

After making it through an emergency, even if your house is standing and undamaged, there most likely won’t be power or gas lines, any nearby grocery stores will be closed, and even the sewer system might be damaged. To keep safe and healthy, here’s what the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) recommends for a basic preparedness kit:

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

You might never be in a situation where you need to deal with a natural disaster. But it never hurts to organize for every possibility. For more info, visit http://www.ready.gov/.

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Do You Get Enough Sleep?

With all the focus on physical fitness this summer, don’t overlook the other aspects of your health. For instance, getting an adequate amount of sleep each night can help your body regulate itself better and make your day more pleasant. Also, appetite increases the later you stay awake, making it more tempting to erase the gains from a morning workout. Giving yourself time for the most important things – like relationships and, yes, sleep – can help your progress in other areas of your life as well.

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Check Off Those Summer Organizing To-Do’s – Here’s How

By Carmen Coker

The weather is great, you’re feeling energized from all that extra solar energy you’ve been absorbing and you’ve got some extra time off. Now is the perfect time to tackle one of those big organizing projects you’ve been wishfully thinking of. First, let’s review a few tips that will help you to get started and maximize your productivity.

  1. Pick one project. Yes, just one: Focus and stick with that project until it is done. Now is not the time for multi-tasking, even though it may be second nature. Often that really big job can be accomplished in one day as long as you develop a laser-focus.
  2. Research and prep: Take some time before you start your project to research how others have successfully tackled similar projects. You can find a wealth of ideas online for what to do – and what not to do as well. If you know that you will need baskets, boxes, shelves or other types of equipment, shop ahead of time to get the best bargains and have it all ready when to begin your project.
  3. Break the job into small pieces: This makes it easier to organize, delegate and keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
  4. Reward yourself: If just the thought of having a clean, organized space isn’t enough, set a reward for yourself to look forward to when you’re done, such as a massage or a nice dinner out that night.

Now that you have the basics down for your big project, let’s take a look three common organizing hot-spots that are great for this season and several ideas and inspirations for keeping the clutter under control.

Gardening Workspace

  • Mount a large piece of lattice, found at any home and garden store, behind your potting bench. Large s-hooks can be easily used to hang tools, gloves and bags to keep your seeds in. (It looks super-cute, as well!)
  • Keep a medium-size galvanized bucket full of clean sand on your potting bench as an easy place to store your garden tools. The sand helps to keep the blades clean, stops  rust from forming and will even help maintain sharp edges.
  • Buy a garden or tool belt tote that fits securely around a 5-gallon bucket. You can find these at most garden and home supply stores. Just like a tool-belt for a bucket, this handy multi-pocketed belt will keep all your supplies organized while leaving plenty of carrying room in the center bucket.
  • Use a small clean pot to hold plant markers and a Sharpie for creating quick labels for your flowers or veggie garden.

Storage Sheds

  • This is a great project for a beautiful weather day. Drag everything out of your shed, create piles of keep, throw out and donate items and sweep and clean out the entire shed.
  • If it’s dark inside, install an inexpensive shop light that will encourage use of the space more often.
  • Purchase simple, heavy-duty storage shelves or racks and use them to place all the smaller items on, getting as much off the floor as possible.
  • And don’t forget the beauty of simple nails and s-hooks for hanging things out of the way. The more you get off the floor, the more efficient and attractive using the shed will be.

Pool and Beach

  • Wet towels, swimsuits and piles of toys all cause organizing distress. Moving from the pool to the beach and back again complicates things as well. For use at home, head to your nearest dollar store and invest in a few plastic laundry-type baskets or milk crates. Label them with bright colors and using water-proof materials to make it fun. Water will drain out, toys will dry and you’ll have one easy place to grab towels or suits from when it’s time to dry them out.
  • Get a pop-up mesh laundry bag to store towels and toys in when moving from pool to beach and back again. You can just shake it out to get most of the sand out of the bag and keep it out of your car and home.
  • Always have a large zip lock bag with you for cell phones and electronics. And take a tip from the surfer crowd, always carry a bottle of baby powder. It’s an absolute miracle at getting all the sand off and keeping it out of your car and home.

Thank you Carmen!

Did you enjoy this article? Like it on Facebook and/or give it a  cheer!


CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Time-Wasting Habits – and How to Break Them

By Carmen Coker

When tackling a cluttered lifestyle, sometimes it’s not what you need to “get” that will help, it’s what you need to “get rid of.” Here are three common time-wasters – and actions steps that will help you to get them out of your daily routine so that you can enjoy a clutter-free, stress-free life.

Time Waster #1: Answering the phone every time it rings. Next time you rush to answer the phone when it rings, ask yourself this: Why am I answering the phone? Is it because it’s the polite thing to do? Am I expecting a call? Is it an emergency? Or maybe it’s my favorite radio station telling me that I won $1,000?

Whatever the reason, it’s practically second nature to drop everything when the phone rings. This instinct makes the phone one of the most dangerous enemies of productivity.

TAKE ACTION: Try each day to not answer the phone for one hour, then work your way up to more later on. Choose a time when you need to be at your most productive and turn the phone to silent mode. Hide it in a drawer, stick it in your glove box or even have your spouse hide it from you. But no matter what, don’t touch that phone! And see how much you will accomplish once you’ve removed that extra distraction.

Time Waster #2: Waiting for Perfection. If you are putting things off until the time is right or conditions are perfect, they will never happen. Perfectionism is a paralytic. It’s a powerful venom that causes productivity to die a slow, painful death.

Perfectionism poisons your productivity and makes you think: I’ll do this when I have more money; I’ll do this when the time is right; I’ll do this when I have enough resources; I’ll do this when I’m not so tired or I’ll do this when I lose a few pounds.

When we delay starting a task because we are waiting for the perfect time, the perfect place, or the perfect scenario, we might as well say “I’ll do this when I win the lottery.” With this mindset, your chances of accomplishing that task are just as slim as winning the lotto.

TAKE ACTION: I challenge you to think about a to-do that you’ve been saving for that “perfect” day and start it right now, imperfections and all. Remember, good is good enough!

Time Waster #3: Multi-tasking Gone Bad. Multi-tasking has become the battle cry of the over-worked, over-stressed and over-committed. In order to survive, we’ve been taught that multi-tasking is always the answer. Not true. The only proper way to multi-task is for those moments when it’s OK to be on auto-pilot – like emptying the dishwasher and watching the news. But for mindful tasks, like listening to your spouse or budgeting finances, you need to give full attention where full attention is due.

The bottom line is that the secret is to live in the present – one of the big benefits you’ll get from organizing your life that I constantly tout.

TAKE ACTION: When you’re working on the computer, shut down everything (yes, Facebook too!) so you can focus on just the task at hand. When you are decluttering your house, decide on a specific area, stay put and stay focused. Don’t leave the room and then decide to fold laundry, then pick up a few things in your kid’s room on the way back. Your time is not being used effectively and all of those projects could have been accomplished much quicker had they been done one at a time, with focus.

Studies have shown that, on average, people are interrupted an average of four times each hour. But here’s the interesting part – they often don’t go back to what they were working on before they were interrupted. So you can see how important it is that we identify the time-wasting habits we’ve absorbed into our lives and start working now on changing that behavior. Take away the distractions and the time-wasting habits little by little and you’ll be amazed at the clarity and productivity you’ll gain in your life.

Great advice as always Carmen! 

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Family Schedules

As spring gets going, family schedules start getting busier. There are suddenly sporting events, school concerts, and other reasons to drive all over town. Before these events get to be too much, and before your kids blame you for not foreseeing any scheduling conflicts, set up a planning board in a common area of your house. Then you can help encourage your kids to keep track of their own events.

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Storing Cosmetics

cosmeticsThere are many classic solutions to storing cosmetics – the small stuffed bag, the line of toppled tubes falling out of the medicine cabinet, the jumbled drawer. When it comes to organizing makeup, though, the first step is to divide and conquer. Set out all your cosmetics on the counter, and the sort them by type. Put each different type in its own place in your drawer, or separate them with small dividers. Then when you’re reaching for the foundation, you won’t have to dig through piles of lipstick.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page