“According to Dell’s 2014 International Tablet survey of IT Decision Makers (ITDMs) tablets are good for business as it helps increase productivity and liked by employees. ITDMs in India and Brazil believe tablets help increase productivity by 25%, while in the US and UK ITDMs believe that it has helped improve the production by 20% followed by China with 15% increase in productivity. “
Tablet at Workplace Improves Mobility and Productivity | CBROnline.com | 10.27.2014
*All book links are affiliate links.
Many thanks to Lizzie Weakly for today’s post on how to keep your home clean and organized.
With each new season comes new challenges for the cleanliness of your home. Different outdoor activities results in changing needs for house cleaning. Fall can be particularly challenging as crunchy leaves and dirt track through your house.
Thankfully, by changing a few habits, your home can feel fresh each and every day of the autumn season.
Spruce up Your Entryway
Those beautiful colors of the changing autumn leaves are better left outdoors. Unfortunately, leaves easily stick to your clothing and shoes and track through your home. This mess is easily avoided with a few quick tricks.
- Start by adding a coat tree or hooks (affiliate links) right next to your entryway door so you and your family can stop bringing in the mess from your clothing.
- Next, for boots that get dirty after a trip to the corn maze, place a stylish doormat down or boot tray (affiliate link) that will catch any of the dirt or moisture from your fall adventures.
Window Wash Before the Cold Air Hits
Let’s face it, we can all agree that the house seems to brighten up after a good window washing. Suddenly, we see light we did not realize was available and our home seems to shine. This fall, make a point to wash the outside of those windows before it gets too chilly. If you wait, you risk avoiding the washing all fall and winter due to cold temperatures.
Related: Who’s Coming Over? Time to Clean!
Get Your Carpets Cleaned
Although taking precautions towards avoiding fall leaves and dirt from tracking through your home can help, no prevention system is perfect. No matter how hard you try, stains always seem to find a way onto your carpet. Stain removal can be a big pain especially when they show up on light colored carpet or your favotire rug.
According to Babayan’s Carpet Cleaning, one of the best ways to remove a carpet stain is to take a paper towel to the stained area and press firmly on the carpet until all of the moisture is removed. Don’t wait until the stained area is dry or it won’t work. For more difficult stain removals, you will want to hire a professional carpet cleaner.
Store Your Summer Items
Clutter is one of the largest enemies of a clean home. Avoid clutter by storing all your summer items. You may already have a storage closet or basement for your summer clothing, beach towels, and pool toys. However, there are vacuum sealed bags that can condense all of your summer items to fit under the bed!
Do not let those pesky fall leaves and dirt ruin your fall this year. Fall is a beautiful season and as a homeowner, you deserve to enjoy the vibrant colors. Simply plan ahead and stay on top of the mess to make your home fresh and enjoyable!
About The Author
Lizzie Weakley and is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. Lizzie enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.
This month’s 5-Minute Organizing Challenge is going to help you get your kitchen organized for Thanksgiving. If you want to have a stress-free Thanksgiving celebration this year, then these mini-challenges are designed for you.
Each one of the tasks only takes about five minutes or less, but collectively they will allow you to get your kitchen in tip top shape before the big day.
- Purge kitchen drawers and cupboards. Start out by quickly looking in the storage spaces in your kitchen and toss items you rarely or never use into a box. This will help you open up space so you can easily find items you’ll need to quickly find. Consider donating these items if there is little to no chance you will use them in the near future. As the saying goes, “If you don’t use it, then lose it.”
- Organize your refrigerator. Examine the contents of your fridge and toss expired items. If that takes up five minutes, then return in a while (for another five minutes) to make sure foods and beverages are sorted. Make sure condiments, produce, etc. are all grouped together so they are easy to find. If you want to take this a step further, use clear plastic trays (affiliate link) to contain the grouped items.
- Clear the kitchen and dining room tables. This challenge is especially relevant if your kitchen or dining table has turned into a dumping ground for everyone’s stuff. Spend a few minutes removing piles, bills, homework, and other things that don’t belong there. Place them into totes that you can sort through later, a little bit at a time.
- Collect all the Thanksgiving recipes in one area. If your recipes are printed, collect the sheets and/or books in one place. Make sure they are easy to access and stored in a place that food won’t spill on them. Also, be sure you have a shopping list with the ingredients ready to go when shopping time comes.
That’s it. If you take on these challenges, your kitchen will be prepared for the hustle and bustle during Turkey Day. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and thank you for reading my monthly blog. If you would like to add ideas for more 5-minute tips, please add them in the comments.
“A new study suggests that playing music is instrumental to being able to smoothly switch between tasks – even more so than learning another language
… meticulous training may help them to develop superior control to respond efficiently to stimuli in an environment where both switching and non-switching components exist.”
Musicians are better at multitasking | ScienceAlert.com | 10.28.2014
*All book links are affiliate links.
Let’s face it, most kids are messy. Sure, there are those rare exceptions that seem to have been born with a well developed sense of orderliness and organization — those kids that put away their toys without asking and patiently line up each and every doll or truck before they go to bed.
But they are rare … really.
Most kids have so much stuff coupled with an over abundant amount of enthusiasm and an innate desire to continually play. Their days are chock-full of activities from morning until night, and when they start to go to school everything expands exponentially.
There hardly seems to be any time for keeping kids organized, let alone time to teach them what needs to be done to stay organized.
But, it doesn’t have to that difficult, does it?
No, it doesn’t. There are lots of things that parents can do keep their kids organized. And, the time you spend cultivating specific behaviors will be time well spent. Teaching them these important skills will serve them well throughout their lives, so the best time to start is likely when they are young.
5 Tips for Keeping Children Organized
1. Create Play Zones. Make certain that your children have designated locations for their play activities. Toys, books, art supplies, and electronic gear shouldn’t be strewn all over the house. Keeping kids organized is easier if they have specific locations where they can do certain activities, and then store the related materials when they are done.
2. Contain Everything. Be sure that your children have plenty of storage containers, shelves, or baskets for their belongings. It’s not necessary to have extra closets, although that would be wonderful. There are terrific storage options available and these containers come in a variety of sizes, prices and styles. Take the time to evaluate your situation and purchase the appropriate storage receptacles. You can even involve your children in this process as it is a great learning exercise.
3. Create Cleaning Routines. Make clean up a regular part of the day. For instance, when the kids have friends over to play, they should know that the last 5 or 10 minutes of their play date will be spent cleaning up after themselves.
That includes putting away everything that had been taken out, including the electronic gear that oftentimes clutters a room with wires, plugs, and controllers. On days when a play date isn’t part of the schedule you should have an established time for clean up.
Once you make clean up an expectation that everyone knows and understands, you won’t have to nag quite so much!
4. Make Cleaning Up Fun. Does your child really know how to clean up? Sometimes small children don’t understand all the steps to being organized. So, you’ll need to be specific, show them what “cleaned up” looks like, and take a picture to help them remember what they’re striving towards. Be sure to consistently work with them and help them to obtain the skills that are necessary to do the job.
And, make it fun! Many people crank up the music when they vacuum or do some crazy dance routines as they dust their house. Why not do the same with your children? A little music, maybe some singing, and the time will go by a lot faster and everyone will have a smile on their face.
5. Set a Good Example. It’s difficult to insist that your children keep their space organized and orderly when you don’t follow the same guidelines. If your children observe that the adults in their home leave things everywhere and don’t clean up after themselves, it will be difficult to get them to stay organized.
So, consider creating a daily family activity centered around clearing the day’s clutter. This can be one way to be sure that all family members are doing their part in keeping your home organized.
Children Benefit From Being Organized
Once your children start school, their organizational skills will become even more important. Late or lost homework, books that go missing, and precious time wasted when it could be spent getting their homework assignments completed, can potentially do a lot of damage to their grades and make their school years problematic.
And let’s face it, by the time your children are in school they will have already developed certain habits. The optimal time to teach them how to be organized is when they are quite young.
As your children’s lives get filled up with school and after school, sports, or religious activities, it is critically important to have a master calendar (affiliate link) and time schedule for their activities. By doing this, you will also help them to plan ahead and not wait until the last minute to do their homework or tackle that big assignment.
Helping your children to become better organized is a lesson that will benefit them for many, many years to come. There’s no time like the present to get the ball rolling!
Are you overwhelmed by trying to follow all of your favorite blogs? There are lots of helpful websites out there, but keeping up with all those updates can be a bit much … for you and for your inbox. Don’t let that scare you away from following the sites that help you get through everyday life.
Let me introduce you to Bloglovin. It’s like a social media platform for blogs that makes following the blogs you love easier than ever.
It’s fantastic and here are three simple reasons why …
3 Useful Bloglovin Features
1. Follow your favorite blogs. Remember RSS? Did you ever really know what it was? Well wonder no more, because RSS is pretty obsolete now that you can subscribe to blogs using Bloglovin. You can easily follow your favorite blogs and you can add any blog to Bloglovin.
2. Discover new blogs. Similar to Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, Bloglovin will send you e-mails with suggestions of blogs that are similar to the ones you already follow. Search no more! They’ve got it covered.
3. Upload your blog. You can join on a personal level to follow your favorite bloggers, and you can also join as a blogger and upload your own blog.
So what do you get out this? Lots!
Benefits of Using Bloglovin
Get rid of the bloggy overwhelm. How many blogs do you follow? I follow a lot of them and am on many e-mail lists. My inbox gets very full very quickly, and it’s very overwhelming.
So, if you’re like me, I would suggest you avoid this altogether and use Bloglovin to get your updates and reduce inbox clutter. I unsubscribed from any blog updates via e-mail that weren’t at the top of my list and followed them on Bloglovin instead. Now, I get a compiled e-mail with updates from the blogs I follow, and it’s much more manageable.
Receive updates all in one email. Bloglovin will send you an update with new blog posts published by all the blogs you follow in one simple e-mail. When I receive my daily digest from Bloglovin, I scan the e-mail for the blog updates I’m interested in, and read those when I get a chance that day. If I don’t get to it, then I usually delete the e-mail since there will be another update the next day.
Get exposure for your own blog. There are a ton of people on Bloglovin, so join the party and spread the word about your little corner of the Internet! Bloglovin also gives you a button that you can put on your blog, so visitors know that you can be found there. You can check out my Bloglovin page and button on my blog to see what they look like.
Make meaningful connections. If you’re trying to expand your community, then give Bloglovin a try. I’ve met a bunch of other bloggers on this platform and have developed some nice relationships that led to opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Thus, out with the old and in with the new! Are you still using an RSS reader? Or, do you use Bloglovin or something like it? Comment below. I’d love to hear from you. Happy reading!
It’s not exactly a problem of global importance, but laundry has become a challenge for many families. In fact, it has become a big problem.
Unfinished laundry has been consistently taking over family rooms, dining rooms, and other public spaces in many homes. It can also be an unending source of friction for parents and kids. Recently, laundry — and what to do about it — was even the cover story of a national magazine (Real Simple, August 2014 issue).
But, all is not lost. There are options to help your family successfully manage the challenges of starting and finishing the laundry.
4 Simple Solutions to Successfully Managing Laundry
1. Organize Your Clothes
- Sort. Twice a year go through each family members’ clothes and eliminate, consign, and donate those that don’t (as Deb often says) fit, flatter, or function the way they’re supposed to. Laundry is much harder to do if there is no drawer or closet space to put away your clothes. By creating space to easily put away laundry, you will notice the biggest difference in managing it.
- Designate homes. Assign storage locations for everyone’s clothing. It will be especially helpful to label your kids’ drawers and sections inside their closet. Not only will you know where clothes go, but everyone can also put them away in the right spot.
- Start with adult spaces. Work on organizing your space first, then move on to your children’s areas. You benefit immediately by gaining happier, less stressful mornings for yourself while modeling successful habits for your kids.
2. Come Up With a Game Plan
- Have a family meeting. Gather everyone together at your family meeting to talk about how to partner to get laundry done for your family. It’s common for teens to have laundry responsibilities, but what about your elementary age kids? Almost everyone can sort, foldn and hang clothing in the closet, so consider allowing each child who is old enough to help to choose what they will be responsible for. And, remember to let go of perfectionism and focus on teamwork.
- Select laundry day(s). Decide on days of the week that laundry will be done. Keep in mind that doing laundry more often will probably be easier. It’s not getting clothes into the washer or dryer that’s usually the issue. It’s the putting away of laundry that tends to cause a problem. So, start with small loads since to make it easier (and quicker) to put clothing away.
- Host the “laundry party.” Invite close friends and family to help you with laundry (and return the favor, too!). Get together to fold and hang clothes so that no one feels overwhelmed by the quantity or the time spent with clothes.
- Use containers. Place laundry baskets or sorters in several locations. Each person in your home should have a basket to carry their clothes to and from the laundry room. A laundry sorter (affiliate link) can be placed in a central location and will make it easier to do single loads when a slot is filled.
3. Get Help with Some Laundry Tasks
- Go to the laundromat. Families often reap the benefits of using sometimes laundromats. There are so many washers and dryers to get a large volume of laundry clean at the same time. Visit your local laundromat and bring a book or games to pass the time while you wait.
- Select a dry cleaning service. Decide on what will go to the dry cleaners and who will take it. A weekly drop off and pick up of work clothes can help you diminish the quantity of laundry you do yourself.
- Ask your maid service for help. If you use a cleaning service, ask for additional services like washing sheets and towels. Taking these big items off your laundry list can make it easier to get specific items laundered, folded, and put away.
4. Decide What to do With “Clirty” Clothes
- “Clirty” clothes, a term coined by one of the Clutter Diet (affiliate link) pro organizers I work with, are clothes that are worn once or twice. They are not clean nor dirty, so they are “clirty” and can be worn again. These clothes can become a problem when you’re not sure where to put them. So, designate a “clirty spot” with hooks to keep these items until they move to your laundry sorter. Just remember to limit to how much clirty clothing is permitted to build up.
- Kids often leave their clothes on their floor. Are these clirty or dirty? It’s one of the biggest disagreements in families. I recommend a “no clothes on the floor policy” so that pathways can be kept clutter-free. Be sure to have this conversation with your children at your next family meeting to create a standard protocol for deciding when an item is clirty or dirty. Doing this will help keep clothes from being washed over and over and will reduce the amount of laundry that needs to be done.
Do you think that laundry may always be a challenge in your home? Will one of these solutions make a difference for your family? Please share in the comments.
If you’re a freelancer, consultant, or a coach, you’ll need to rely on systems to keep track of your clients and projects — and to simply get stuff done. One of the most helpful things you can to to increase your productivity is to use a combination of people and technology, including apps. For example, you might use a productivity app or a suite of apps to help you stay on top of your freelance game.
And, you might also consider hiring an intern, a virtual assistant, or using a service like oDesk, Elance, Zirtual, or FancyHands, especially during your peak seasons, to help keep your freelance gigs running smoothly. It’s probably very likely that your virtual assistant will rely on apps keep herself (and you) on track toward greater productivity.
If you’re not sure which productivity apps you should start with, check out the seven tools below. Each will give you fighting chance of staving off procrastination and distractions and keep you organized so that you can cross those tasks off your to do list.
Seven Essential Productivity Apps for Freelancers, Consultants, and Coaches
Staying focused is one of the more challenging things that, well, just about everyone, faces. If the bells and whistles that the Internet serves up (like Facebook and Twitter) always seem to get you off track, RescueTime will … wait for it … rescue you!
RescueTime will help you track how you spend your time. It runs behind the scenes on your desktop and mobile device and gives you data you can analyze and do something with. What does that mean? You’ll get a realistic snapshot of your day and where your time is spent so you can make adjustments to be more productive.
You can also set alerts for when you’ve hit the limit on a specific activity. You might, for instance, set a 20 minute time limit for connecting with your Twitter peeps. When your time’s up, RescueTime will tap you on the shoulder. If you find that you just can’t drag yourself away from sending 140 character messages, you can use the app to block Twitter or any other site that distracts and takes you away from your priorities.
2. Now Do This
NowDoThis.com is a no frills to do list. There are no fancy colors or pretty pictures to distract you. It’s as minimalist (and simple) as it gets. Create a to list and each time you complete a task, click the “done” button.
NowDoThis also lets you focus on one task at a time instead of multitasking. So, though you record your entire list, you’ll only see each individual task after you click “done.”
Trello is one of my favorite apps, especially because it’s very intuitive and easy to use. Think of a Trello board as a card system with lists that are organized according to the workflow you have in place.
I’ve used Trello to track client projects and have also invited those clients to join the Trello board I’ve set up for their project so that they can see progress in action. So, as you might already realize, it’s a great collaboration tool.
Trello can also well for visual learners who might otherwise plan everything out using sticky notes that can easily get misplaced. You can organize your projects on a specific board and then create a card system that includes tasks for each phase of those projects. Each board is private, though you can, as I mentioned before, invite others to join (you can also revoke access).
Trello will have a familiar feel — you can drag and drop cards and copy/paste content from one card system (even that content is on a separate board) to another. In addition, Trello uses Markdown so you can format your text (e.g., bold, italics).
Are you forgetful? Does out of sight mean out of mind? OhDon’tForget.com can help by sending your reminders, especially ones that are not recurring. You know, the ones that you will likely forget because you don’t do them all the time.
And, you can remind the peeps in your life who need a little nudge, too. Simply enter a mobile number, the date and time you want the reminder sent, and a message. Of course, you’ll want to make sure you have your cell phone with you so you don’t miss the reminder.
Evernote is a well known application and a popular one, too. That’s because it’s a very versatile app that can improve your productivity and help you manage your workflows well.
One of the best features of Evernote (in my opinion) is the Web Clipper. It’s a simple and easy tool to use. As you’re searching the Internet (perhaps doing research for your next blog post or chapter of your book), simply clip the useful information you come across. Save it to a specific notebook and add tags (i.e., keywords) to help you find what you’re looking for. Oh, and you can annotate your clips, too.
And, since Evernote is accessible via your desktop, the web, and mobile apps, you can access your clips no matter where you are.
Are you tired of sifting through your inbox looking people you need to reply to? Sometimes, you get an e-mail from a prospect (or joint venture partner) who asks you to get back to them on a specific day that may be a few days out.
Where do you put that reminder?
You could put it on your calendar or you could send a reminder to yourself using FollowUp.cc (using a speciall FollowUp.cc address) so that you don’t forget. For example, if you need to follow up with that person on October 30th, simply send an e-mail to October30@followup.cc.
How else could you use this reminder service?
- Check in with a client after you’ve finished working on a project with them
- Ask for a testimonial
- Revise a proposal/contract and re-send to a client
- Doctor’s appointment
- RSVP to an event
- Purchase a gift
You can see that by using FollowUp.cc, you’ll be able to stop endless searches and stop wasting time.
6. My Minutes
This app can help you to budget and track your minutes, and it can also motivate to keep up with new habits (sort of like the Wonderful Day app does). Need to work for a set timeframe on your most important project? My Minutes turns your tasks green once you’ve hit your goal, but turns red if you spend too much time on a task. This feature can work well for non-work related tasks (like surfing the web). Set aside a reasonable block of time for those activities and start the timer so that you know when it’s time to jump back to your work projects.
Another helpful feature — you can set an alert to be notified of tasks you need to get done at the top of your day. That way, you can start your day off on the right foot and focused on your priorities (not, you know, checking your Facebook feed).
So, I know that you’re not using the same password for all the sites you have accounts with, right? And, I’m sure you also have a safe, easy way to store and retrieve those passwords, yes?
Don’t worry if you answered “no” to those questions because that’s where LastPass comes in. With this app, you’ll only need to remember one master password and keep all your passwords in one central location. LastPass also has a strong password generator so you don’t have to be rocket scientist to come up with a hard-to-guess passcode.
So, don’t waste time searching for sticky notes with your passwords on them. Instead, install LastPass and work on getting important things done (like writing client proposals or working with your virtual assistant).
Question: What’s YOUR favorite productivity tool? It’s ok if it’s not an app or tech tool. There’ll be no shaming. ;) Please share in the comments.
Sticky bottles, crushed pills, and gooey globs on shelves…oh my! Sounds as scary as a Halloween haunted house … well, the thought of cleaning it all can be anyway! Since October is National Kitchen and Bath Month and it is cold and flu, as well as allergy season, this is a good time to talk about what’s lurking inside your medicine cabinet!
I learned my lesson when I had a fall cold last year and found that my cold medicines had expired. So, I recently went on a cleaning spree of my medicine cabinet and purged all of my old medications.
I restocked it with the cold medicine that I use and, of course, ended up with a cold a few days later! But, I was prepared!
Here are some simple steps to follow to make sure your medicine cabinet stays current, well stocked, and glob free!
6 Steps to Organize Your Medicine Cabinet
1. Remove and Clean. Remove everything from the cabinet and wipe the shelves down.
2. Review Medications. Go through all of your medicines (tablets, liquids, gels, and salves), including prescription drugs and look for those that have expired.
3. Dispose of Expired Medications Responsibly. You should dispose of your medications responsibly, to protect both your family and the environment. For example, you may find painkillers from that dental surgery you had a couple years ago. You don’t want your kids (or pets) getting into them if they happen to look in the trash bin.
Also, by flushing them or pouring them down the drain, they can end up in the water supply. While the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day has passed, you have other simple options to get them out of the house.
- Place them in a baggie with used coffee grounds or kitty litter (or add this ingredient instead)
- Check with your pharmacy to find out if they can take them back
- Check with your township to find out if they have a disposal bin in the township building. (I just discovered that mine does!)
4. Recycle. Don’t forget to peel the labels off of your prescription bottles as well, and rip them up to prevent anyone from knowing your medical history and attempting to get a refill. Additionally, for bottles that can be recycled, rinse them out and put them in the recycle bin.
5. Buy New Medications. Start a shopping list for replacement medicines for those that have expired and go out to buy them.
6. Put Everything Back. Wipe down any sticky bottles and install shelf liners so that you can remove and clean them from time to time. That’s much easier than reaching in awkward positions to get to the top shelf. Finally, put everything back into your cabinet. Keep medicines that aren’t used often up on the top shelf and use lower shelves for products that you use every day.
May the cold and flu (and those gooey globs, too) stay away from you!
Recently, I wrote a guest post for Eych2.com and shared five creative strategies you can use to unclutter your desk. And, today I’m sharing a sixth thing you can do keep desk clutter to a minimum.
Did you know that a simple list can also help you bring a little order to your workspace?
Two Ways a List Can Help You Declutter Your Desk
1. To Do List. Make a list of all the things you need to do to clear your desk at the end of each day.
Include things like:
- Wipe desk and clean up spills
- Remove trash and recyclables
- Organize cables and wires
- Put pens, markers, and other writing tools in pencil cup (or desk drawer)
- Put priority files in view (e.g., in a desktop organizer or file holder)
- Put non-priority files away
Take out your checklist 15-30 minutes before you leave your office (or will stop working in your home office). Then, check off each action on your list so that your desk is work ready and decluttered for the next day.
2. Stop Doing List. You can also make a “stop list” for things you should stop doing so that your desk can stay (mostly) clear. That way, you’ll have less cleaning up and organizing to do.
Here are some things you should stop doing:
- Mixing personal and business files together
- Leaving out confidential files
- Leaving receipts strewn about
- Keeping printer paper and other non-essential items on your desk
- Letting trash pile up
- Eating at your desk
Have a look at your stop doing list periodically throughout the day to help keep your desk clear so that you don’t have a big pile up at the end of the day. Use the list as a reminder, especially on days when things are a bit hectic. Remember, if your desk is mostly organized during the day, you’ll have a better chance of getting stuff done!
What do you do to keep your desk clutter-free? Please share in the comments.