Fact Friday: Americans Not Sleeping Enough, Impacts Productivity

On July 4, 2014, in Fact Friday, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
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“CDC data show that 28% of U.S. adults report sleeping six hours or less each night, and that’s just not enough for most people, experts say. It’s no wonder that the CDC calls insufficient sleep “a public health epidemic.

Sleep is so critical to good health that it should be thought of “as one of the components of a three-legged stool of wellness: nutrition, exercise and sleep … although people’s sleep needs vary, the sleep medicine group recommends that adults get about seven to nine hours a night for optimal health, productivity and daytime alertness.”

 

Read More:

If you don’t snooze, you lose, health experts say | USAToday.com | 6.22.2014

 

 

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Find Your Pain Point and Take Action

On June 26, 2014, in Motivation, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
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Pain Point

Original Image Credit: Steven Depolo (Flickr Creative Commons)

Do you like thinking about and remembering painful experiences you’ve had? This is probably not a topic that you give much thought to, but maybe you should. Let me explain …

The subject of pain came up in one of my classes in college (a long, long time ago). This question (or one very close to it) was posed:

If you could choose between experiencing extreme pain for a long time that you would not remember after it occurred …

OR

… experiencing excruciating pain for a short amount of time that you would always remember, which one would you pick?

Interesting question, don’t you think?

No matter which one you’d choose, its seems (IMHO) that thinking about pain can be helpful. It can be a step in the right direction to focus a bit on painful, frustrating times — especially if you’re stuck in a rut and need to take a step forward toward completing a goal or task.

Oftentimes, it’s not until we feel a little bit (or a lot) of pain that we actually start making changes and start gaining a little momentum.

Here are some examples of some painful experiences that may sound familiar:

  • All-nighters: The pain of pulling an all-nighter (or two) to get your project completed.
  • Chaotic mornings: The pain of rushing around frantically each morning as you get ready for work.
  • Meeting blunders: The pain of feeling stressed because you didn’t prepare for an important meeting.
  • Late fees/service interruption: The pain of paying a late fee (and/or having a needed service disconnected) because you didn’t pay that bill on time.

So, how can thinking about painful times be a productive exercise? When you reflect back on excruciating, overwhelming, and embarrassing situations, you can come up with a plan to avoid them in the future.

Afterall, you can achieve a goal with or without pain, so why not choose the most pleasant path?

Here are some solutions you might come up with to avoid the painful experiences I mentioned earlier:

  • All-nighters: Add the deadline to your calendar and also include blocks of time that you’ll work on your projects. Get help and delegate when possible.
  • Chaotic mornings: Put out your clothes, gather all your important items, and make your lunch the night before to avoid the painful morning chaos.
  • Meeting blunders: Make a list of your responsibilities for the meeting and set aside time on your calendar to work on your designated tasks.
  • Late fees/service interruption: Add a reminder to your task manager to pay bills well in advance of the due date and/or schedule bill paying days.

So, what’s your pain point?  The moment when something becomes so urgent that you have to act?  How long does it take you to get there?  What does it feel like when you do get there? Think about the answers to those questions so that you can craft a plan to avoid those painful experiences in the future.

Do you have a solution to a painful moment that helped you get past the pain? Please share in the comments.

 

 

 

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Fact Friday: Work in a Cubicle? You’re Probably Less Productive.

On June 20, 2014, in Fact Friday, Productivity, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
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“Researchers Jungsoo Kim and Richard de Dear at the University of Sydney discovered that noise privacy is the number one complaint among cubicle workers and open-plan employees, with 60% and 50% respectively describing it as a major issue.

Even worse? This reduction of sound privacy could be bringing down your entire team’s productivity. Think about it: How many times have you been trying to work on a project at your desk, only to be distracted by someone’s coughing fit or a conversation two co-workers next to you are having?

Read More:

The Surprising Thing That Could Be Killing Your Productivity | TheMuse.com | 6.3.2014

 

 

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Master ClosetWhether you have a small reach-in or a large walk-in for your master closet, and even if you have a just a small budget, you can make a big difference with how much space you have by maximizing your closet.

As a former custom closet organizer, I’ve shared some tips in today’s post that will help you figure out how to utilize every inch!

How to Maximize Your Master Closet on a Small Budget

 

Step 1 – Move It Out

If you haven’t done a healthy purge of your clothes, shoes, and accessories lately, then this is a great time to set pieces aside for donation or for the trash. Use a large surface for the sorting process, like your bed. Remember, that as with many organizing projects, you will probably make a mess before making it organized — so be patient with yourself!

Step 2 – Put It Back

This time, fold the items that you would like to keep folded and hang the items that you would like to be hung. Think about whether you’d prefer to hang your pants from their ends or have them folded over a hanger. Then put everything away in groupings of like items (i.e. skirts, shirts, pants).

Step 3 – Measure It

Now that you have your items in groups, grab a measuring tape, and get ready to do some math! You’ll want to take specific measurements of the height and the width of each group, in inches. For example, take note of the longest dress that you have so that you will make sure everything else in that grouping will be sure to fit.

Note on paper how many inches in length you will want to devote to short hanging items (tops and short skirts) and to long hanging items (pants, long skirts, dresses and suits). Do the same for shoes and folded clothing (sweaters and t-shirts).

Finally, take measurements of the width, depth and height of your closet.

Step 4 – Design It

With all of your measurements written down, you can now start your design plan. You’ll want just a few sheets of computer paper to draw out your plan, one for each wall. No worries … you don’t need to be an artist, just rough sketches will do!

Draw out a plan of each wall in a front elevation, as if you are looking at right in front of you. Now you can plan for your system to have enough rod space and shelving to accommodate your items.

Step 5 – Build It

If you have a small budget, you can work with what you have. For example, if you have a lot of rod space, use a hanging bag with shelves that provide spaces for foldable items.

You can also fill in dead space by adding stackable shelves at the bottom of the closet underneath your hanging clothing (you can use them for shoes) and bins at the top of the closet (you can use the bins for seasonal clothing).

Ideally, you’ll want to end up with a filled in space, but not so filled that you everything is squished together tightly.

If you are working with a smaller budget, check big box stores for closet systems that you can put together on your own (like this one from Rubbermaid). If you have a bit more flexibility with price, have a look at a system like elfa from The Container Store, or a custom closet company like Closets By Design or Closet Factory, where they can do the designing for you!

However you get there, following steps like these will encourage you to get rid of what you don’t love and keep what you do, and keep on an organized path. You can do it!

… and when you do re-design your closet, please come back here to share your before and after photos. =)

 

Note from Deb: Several links in this post are affiliate links. Organize to Revitalize! will receive a small commission if you make a purchase using those links. The items can still be helpful to you whether or not you use the links in the post, and you can purchase them by directly visiting those websites (but if you use the OTR links, I’d be very grateful!).

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Summer Travel Productivity TipsThat’s right, it’s time for the June 5-Minute Organizing Challenge! In every challenge you get five options to tackle five things you can do for just five minutes at a time to get more organized.

Summer travel means more people are taking off on the road and in the air. This is your lucky day if you have summer trips planned! Here are five mini-challenges that will help you maximize productivity during your summer travels.

5 Ways to Maximize Productivity During Summer Travels

 
1. Spend time preparing for your trip. Start out by spending five minutes drafting a list of topics you need to research. After you complete the list, devote a few minutes each day to investigate forecasts, the place your staying in, tourist attractions, etc.

If you didn’t have enough time to adequately research before you leave, no need to fret. You can use downtime while you travel there to do some of this preparation.

2. Plan healthy food and exercise choices. Eating healthy and getting exercise can be challenging if your don’t plan ahead of time. Look at your scheduled activities and spend a few minutes plotting ideas for places you can find healthier eating options and ways to get exercise in.

Some ideas to help you get started include:

  • Do stretches at the airport and in the plane
  • Locate restaurants and cafes that are en route to your destination
  • Investigate gyms or outdoor activities at the place you’re traveling to
  • Schedule time for brisk walks or jogs — you can do this according to your current eating habits and activity levels

3. Plan how to stay connected with your loved ones. Sometimes when you travel, it can be stressful to coordinate times to stay connected with your loved ones at home. Consider pre-scheduling calls and video chat sessions to avoid the hassle of constantly trying to connect with them during the trip. If you spend five minutes coordinating with the people involved, you can add those time to your your calendar and you’ll be set while you’re away.

4. Make the most of your downtime. There sometimes tends to be significant periods of downtime when you travel. Take a few minutes to record tasks you’d like to complete (digitally and in paper form) during your journey. From transportation to the airport, hours spent inside the vehicle or on the flight, and other waiting periods, you can prepare to make the most of this potentially productive time.

Don’t forget to include ways you can replenish yourself with fun activities like leisure reading or playing games on your smartphone.

5. Reflect and think ahead. When you are traveling home, use a few minutes to reflect on how prepared you were for your trip. Record things that worked well so you can replicate them in the future, and consider things you can do more efficiently on future trips (be sure to document those as well). If you set aside a chunk of time for reflection, you can boost your productivity even more in subsequent travels!

 

Click Here to Learn More Ways to Get Organized in Five Minutes!

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Fact Friday: Drowsy Driving is Like Drunk Driving

On June 13, 2014, in Fact Friday, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
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“The more sleep deprived we are, the more our judgement is impaired. And when our judgement is impaired, the less likely we are going to be able to recognize signs that we are sleepy … drowsy driving is a serious problem … there are more than 100,000 car accidents and more than 1,500 deaths annually that are attributed to drowsy driving …

Read More:

Driving sleep deprived can have same effects as drunk driving, expert says | WTOP.com | 6.10.2014

 

 

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Save Money by Recycling and Repurposing

On June 11, 2014, in Recycling, by Stephanie Shalofsky
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RecycleIt seems that most of us have simply too much stuff and the fact is we keep acquiring more. Shopping has become a major pastime (did you know that the Mall of America gets more than 40 million visitors annually?) and we are continually adding to our collection of goods.

Take a minute and imagine the amount of money that you could save by shopping less frequently and recycling and repurposing what you already have.

Our closets are filled, garages are overflowing, and even the rented storage units are pretty much filled up.  And, if indeed you haven’t reached these extreme levels of mass consumption, you probably still have more than you need!

Take pocketbooks for instance. Most of them are made so well these days that they pretty much never get worn out. And shoes — how many are in your closet that have been worn just once because you realized that they were uncomfortable? Books – how many are crammed on your shelves and haven’t been looked at in 20 years?

You get the idea. We all have too much stuff.

We keep buying the new improved version of what we have (the manufacturers and stores depend upon it) and there is simply no way that we can keep it all. It’s time to take action! There are two things you can do to take care of your stuff … recycling and repurposing … and by doing so you will most probably feel a newfound sense of relief.

Recycling: Making Something New

The definition of recycling is to make something new from something that has been used before (like these suitcases, er, chairs). In recent years, recycling has become part of our vocabulary. In most households we recycle paper, plastics, and glass to reduce pollution and waste  — and it’s not unusual to see multiple waste receptacles in homes, stores, and even on the city streets.

So, what does recycling mean for you besides separating your trash?

  • Well, you might take all of those extra ties that your husband has acquired over the years and sew them together to make them into a beautiful skirt (Instructables: How to Make a Tie Skirt).
  • Or, you can take a rubber mat and cut out shapes for your toddler to learn and play with.

See what I mean? You’ve used the items before, but now you can use them in an entirely different way; by recycling them you are making something new.

Repurposing: Using Something in a New Way

The definition of repurposing is to change something so that it can be used for a different purpose (like this shoe organizer inside a pantry). So, how can you repurpose some of your common, everyday things?

  • pitcher

    Source: Houzz.com

    You might take some of your worn out clothes, barely worn shoes, or out of style handbags and give them to your children to use for costumes when they are playing.

  • The pitcher that no longer fits the décor of your renovated kitchen can be repurposed into a vase that looks just perfect when placed on a shelf or table in your living room.
  • An extra mug you have (but you probably don’t use because you have so many) can be used to hold your favorite pens.
  • Foam bath mats parents kneel on when bathing their young children can be used as bulletin boards (hat tip to Geralin Thomas for that idea) when they are no longer needed for bath time.

We have so much stuff that it is very likely that we now possess items that can be used for something else entirely, thereby eliminating the need for us to go out and yes, buy more stuff. Why not be creative instead? Think of new uses for that bag of bargains from your latest shopping expedition or donate them to a local charity.

Of course, recycling and repurposing are great for the environment and they are great for your wallet as well (less stuff being purchased, right?!). Regardless of which path you follow, you’re sure to feel better for doing so.

 

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Create Infographics For Your Website With PicMonkey

On June 9, 2014, in Technology, by Nealey Stapleton
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Do you know what an information graphic or an infographic is? It is a visual representation of information that often makes it easy to read and understand complicated information. Infographics are all over Pinterest and because of Pinterest’s popularity, they are now all over the web.

Many infographics are filled with data and statistics, and others, like the one below, don’t don’t contain numbers at all:

Business-Tools-Infographic-Small

They are a huge traffic source for websites, which is why I recently embarked upon a quest to add an infographic to all of my website’s pages. So, now I create infographics on the regular now – for both new web pages I create, to spiff up old pages, to promote a product, and the list goes on.

Here’s the kicker – I do all of this graphic creation for FREE! Huh? It’s true.

Back in the day I used Adobe Illustrator, but keeping up with that expensive program and all of its versions didn’t seem worth it. I needed something much easier and less expensive. I currently use the PicCollage app for making photo collages and fun infographics on my smart phone, but I needed something a little more robust.

Hence, I present to you PicMonkey!

Create Infographics with PicMonkey

Original Image Credit: PicMonkey.com

 

This platform is freakin’ incredible, and all of these exclamation points are very necessary! I’m that enthusiastic about this technology and I use it every week.

Check out these cool features:

  • Simple To Use. I mean really simple. You can drag and drop and create images  — like your Facebook cover photo – at the click of a button (or two).
  • Very comprehensive. Just because it’s simple to use doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of stuff you can do. There are lots of options like tons of fonts, a variety of overlays, many cool graphics, and several photo editing options. And, that is just the tip of the iceberg.
  • It’s free. I’ve been using the free version, so you can definitely do all these cool things without denting your wallet. However, if you want access to even more fonts, more graphics, and even more options, the paid version is as low as $33 for the year. Crazy!
  • No need to download software. You use the software online, so you can access it anywhere (as long as you have an internet connection) and you don’t have to use up any space on your computer.

Want more details? How about a demonstration? Ali Rittenhouse has a really helpful tutorial on how to use it (that’s how I found about it this awesomeness), so check it out.

Ready to try it? Why not give PicMonkey.com a test drive? Then come back here, and let me know what you think. If you’ve already used it, what’s your opinion? I’d love to know! Leave me a comment below.

Happy info-graphic-ing!

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A dry erase board can help you get organizedThere’s a lot to love about dry erase boards! They can be so much fun, especially when you use colored markers. They also come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but my favorite one is the small, portable 5″ x 7″ board (affiliate link).

What’s even better is that this simple, helpful tool can be used in several ways to help get your family organized.

5 Ways to to Organize Your Family Using a Dry Erase Board

 
1. Create Reminders

Families have a lot to remember all the time. Why not use a dry erase board to help everyone stay on top of things?

  • Use a dry erase board in your bedroom to remind you about what’s coming up and jot down tasks as you get ready in the morning.
  • Attach a dry erase board near the main entry/exit door to remind you what to bring to school or work.
  • Add a dry erase board to your command center. Attach markers with velcro or magnet to have a handy tool to jot down ideas and notes.

2. Post Pantry, Freezer, or Dinner Lists

You can avoid making duplicate purchases if you keep a running list of your current inventory. And, you can also let everyone know the meal plan for the week.

  • Make a list of what’s in the freezer. Use a magnetic dry erase board (affiliate link) attached to the size of your refrigerator or freezer to record your list.
  • Make a list that includes what’s for dinner each night. Categorize your lists by vegetables, main dish, and snacks (or the categories most used by your family).
  • Make a list of what’s running low in the pantry. Take a picture of your list  (or save your regular list to Evernote) so that you have it handy the next time you run to the grocery store.

Writing lists on a dry erase board can help keep these areas more organized and also keep everyone in the loop.

3. Help with Homework Time

Children can have their own personal dry erase board to keep up with their studies. When paired with colorful markers, (affiliate link) they can help make learning fun.

  • Students can prioritize their homework each evening by writing an action list of things they must get completed on a dry erase board.
  • White boards are also a great tool for reviewing information for an upcoming test.
  • Elementary students can use dry erase boards to memorize and write out math problems.

4. Record Family Responsibilities

Tired of reminding your family member to do their chores? No more nagging! Create a list on the white board instead.

  • Use a dry erase board to list jobs for everyone as well as the days they need to complete those tasks.
  • Check off everyone’s responsibilities during the week as they are completed.

5. Keep Track of Upcoming Events

You can use a large dry erase calendars (affiliate link) in your kitchen or in another well-trafficked area. Then, simply add events and deadlines daily. That way, everyone will know what’s coming up!

There are oodles of ways you can use dry erase boards!  How do you use yours?

 

 

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Fact Friday: Handwritten Notes More Easily Remembered Than Typed Notes

On May 30, 2014, in Fact Friday, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
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A new study—conducted by Mueller and Oppenheimer—finds that people remember lectures better when they’ve taken handwritten notes, rather than typed ones. 

What’s more, knowing how and why typed notes can be bad doesn’t seem to improve their quality. Even if you warn laptop-notetakers ahead of time, it doesn’t make a difference. For some tasks, it seems, handwriting’s just better.”

Read More:

To Remember a Lecture Better, Take Notes by Hand | TheAtlantic.com | 5.1.2014

 

 

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