Be a Calendar Master

Chances are you have access to a digital calendar. It’s there for you but is it THERE for you? Here are some quick tips to help you get more out of your calendar:

Change your view

Everyone processes information differently and your Calendar default view might not be the best view for you. Switch from monthly view to weekly, daily, list or agenda view.

Color Code

I have the major categories of my life associated with color.  Family = Blue, Work = Green, Medical = Orange, Taxes/Bills Due = Black.  I can see at glance when I need to switch hats without taking the time to read.

Use Attachments

Have a meeting coming up that you will need to access something online for?  Link the file or URL and you will have everything you need at your fingertips.

Use Location

When you set that appointment up, go ahead and put in the address.  From your phone, it’s a quick tap to enable navigation as well as drive time.

Fun Tricks

If you have an IPhone – tilt your phone to landscape view to see the Weekly view of your calendar.

If you use Google Calendar – enable shortcuts in Settings.  Good shortcuts to know:

.t will take you to back to Today

.c will open window to create a new appointment

.? will give you a list of all shortcuts

Celebrate ‘National Clean Off Your Desk Day’ Right!

Here are 5 quick tips to whip your desk back in shape!

1.) The desk top is the most important space in a workspace. Be ruthless and only keep the items currently being worked on and the things used frequently (daily) on the desk.

2.) Get office supplies and reference materials off your desk. It’s not productive to shuffle through rubber bands, 12 notebooks and the manual to the broken printer while trying to work. Find another home for these items in the office by creating specific zones for them.

3.) Notices/handouts/flyers that are date sensitive? Put on the calendar and toss the paper. If that event require pre-work, schedule that activity on the calendar as well.

4.) Edit the non-work items on the desk. It’s nice to have a little personality in the office but not so much that it is distracting or dust catching.

5.) Take 5 minutes at the end of every workday to clear off the desk top.  In a well-organized office, it shouldn’t take longer than 5 minutes and it’s a great feeling to start with a clear workspace the next morning!

 

Organizing for Parents

My career as a professional organizer began when I made the transition from the corporate world to being a stay-at-home mom with two small children, a puppy and way too many toys.

Colorado, USA - August 18, 2015: Studio shot of pile of various toys and figurines.

I well remember the days of feeling like I lived in a toy store that had been hit by a tornado.  For the typical American family, it’s pretty common to be overwhelmed by all the stuff that comes with having children.  We love our children and want them to have the best opportunities in life and this instinct drives our buying habits.  However, studies show that the typical child only plays with 5% of their toys daily.  An overwhelming number of toys is just that – overwhelming.  It’s stressful for parents to manage and actually discourages children from developing deeper, more creative play habits.

Children use play to learn so our goal is not to deprive our children but to help them have a more enjoyable, creative playtime.  An idea that often works for my clients is to rotate toys.  Always keeping the favorite toys accessible, divide the remaining toys into thirds.  Keep 1/3 out and store the other two groups, rotating the toy groups occasionally.  Parents are often amazed that their children don’t miss what is boxed up and actually seem to enjoy their play areas more.

When working with a family, my main goals are to teach the habits of organizing and to make it easy for children and parents to organize. Here are my top tips:

Control the Volume – 30 crayons are just as effective as 100 and a lot easier to put away.

Child Friendly Storage  –  Long, low bookcases are wonderful and the space above can be used to display favorite artwork.  Bins are great for corralling toys but a few large, general bins are better for preschoolers.  Don’t overwhelm kids with dozens of small bins and categories or Mom will be the one doing all the sorting.

Create Zones to avoid the ‘Big Mixed Mess’ – Have a art zone, a reading zone, a barbie zone.  Keeping ‘like with like’ makes it easier to put things away.

Pick up a Little, a Lot –  Build organizing transitions into the day:  a quick toy pick up before meals, art supplies put away at the end of a project, books shelved after reading.  Mini-cleanups throughout the day head-off that Big Mess so stressful to parents.

Schedule a Toy Purge – The best time to convince your children to let go of their stuff is when they are focusing on new, cooler stuff.  Prior to gift-receiving events like holidays and birthdays, go through your kids rooms/play areas and toss anything broken or stained and donate the toys that are outgrown/unused.  Involving your children in this decision making as well as the donation/recycling process often helps them ‘let go’ and creates de-cluttering habits that will serve them them well as they grow up.

Work Zones Boost Productivity

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Boost your productivity by zoning your office space

Big or small, any work space will benefit from defined zones. In the typical office, I would begin with these 3 zones:

Work Zone – For most of us, this is the space around our laptop or desktop. This zone is the space we can comfortably reach from our desk chair. This space should include a computer or tablet, phone, charging cables, and only the items we use very frequently – daily or several times a week. Edit this space ruthlessly – most of us need something to write on and with but we don’t need 40 pens and stacks of notebooks and note pads!

Reference Zone – 80% of the paper we file is NEVER accessed again. A good deal of this paper is kept due to governmental or tax regulations. This type of paper doesn’t belong in your main workspace so designate a file cabinet or shelves to house this paper. Your goal is to be able to quickly locate these documents when (if) you need them, but not allow this type of paper to clutter your office or impede your daily work.

Office Supply Zone – The best way to save money on office supplies is to know exactly what is on hand and only buy what is needed. Group all office supplies together – all files folders, boxes of paper clips, all pens, all paper. A book shelf, cabinet or closet is a great way to store these items as it allows us to see what we have at a glance.  Knowing what we have is the key to using what we have already purchased and not overbuying office supplies.

 

Small Business – Costs of Disorganization

iStock_000080981703_MediumDisorganization costs you more than you realize…

The average office worker spends 1.5 hours a day (6 weeks per year) looking for things

The typical executive wastes 150 hours a year (almost an entire month), searching for lost information. For someone earning $50,000 a year, this loss is equivalent to $3,842 annually

These statistics seem impossible to believe but have been compiled by such credible sources as the Wall Street Journal and Forbes. Other studies show that:

46% of office workers have lost one of the following items in the past year (a file folder, mobile phone, calculator, flash or memory drive, a briefcase, suitcase, or luggage, lap top computer, or a PDA)

The financial costs of disorganization in terms of assets and people hours are quantifiable but also consider the human toll with respect to professionalism and productivity.

Close to four in 10 (37%) of office workers have gone into a work meeting feeling unprepared

87% of office workers say when their workspace is disorganized they feel they are less productive than when their workspace is organized

For the next month, I will be focusing on work productivity and organization! Whether you are employee or owner, new hire or executive, work downtown or at the kitchen table, better organization will improve your bottom line and your peace of mind!

Excuse #6 – “I hate to see this stuff just go in the trash.”

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Maybe you are hanging on to stuff you don’t want because you are looking for the perfect way to get rid of it.  Perhaps you intend to hold a garage sale or sell it on ebay.  Both of these are great solutions if you enjoy the reselling process and your stuff is worth the time involved.  What do you do if your items are not that valuable and/or you don’t have 3 days to spend on your driveway hosting a yard sale?

There are literally hundreds of options for reducing your clutter burden without adding to the landfill burden.  Contact me and I can help you find a home for the stuff that no longer belongs in your home.

Excuse #5 – “I’ll fit in those clothes when I lose 10 pounds”

First of all, let me go on record that I do own ‘fat’ jeans. You know what I’m talking about – the jeans that fit the week after Christmas or vacation or an especially salty meal. For some of us, our weight normally fluctuates and it’s good to have a wardrobe that can roll with the ups and downs. I’m not talking about those jeans. I’m talking about the jeans you wore in college or before you had babies or the power suits you wore when you worked in the corporate world a decade ago. These clothes represent who you used to be and sometimes it’s hard to let go of that image.  Continue reading “Excuse #5 – “I’ll fit in those clothes when I lose 10 pounds””

Excuse #4 – “(Insert significant relative here) gave it to me.”

One of my clients is a collector of many things. She is a woman of many interests and travels, who is incredibly kind-hearted and sentimental. Her house was full of souvenirs, memorabilia and things given to her by family and friends. Over the years, her home and many possessions had become a burden and she was looking for ways to lighten the load.iStock_000004361489_Small Continue reading “Excuse #4 – “(Insert significant relative here) gave it to me.””

Excuse #3 – “I’m going to use that/repair that/scrapbook that one day.”

Some people invest in gold, I invest in ‘projects’. I pick up a piece of furniture at a yard sale because I’ll refinish it one day. I’ve owned a broken lamp for years because I’ll rewire it one day. I bought supplies to make purses because I was going to make purses one day. I swear I’m not making that up – I actually believed at the time I was going to make purses! Continue reading “Excuse #3 – “I’m going to use that/repair that/scrapbook that one day.””

Excuse #2 – “It’s a collectible and it’s worth a lot of money

There is nothing wrong with collecting especially if the objects bring you joy and lighten your heart. Just remember that ‘collectibles’ have two different values – the value to your heart and actual market value. If you love something and don’t mind dusting it, then it has value to YOU and is worth keeping. Continue reading “Excuse #2 – “It’s a collectible and it’s worth a lot of money”