Today we welcome back guest blogger, Jeri Dansky, with three simple decision making tips.
The stacks of magazines, the piles of papers, the stuff crowding the car out of the garage — there can be many reasons for clutter like this, but one of the most common is unmade decisions. We look at a piece of paper, can’t decide what to do with it, and put it back in the pile.
But, here are three ways to move past this decision paralysis.
1. Define some rules of thumb.
You may decide to toss newspapers after a day, news magazine after a week, and other magazines after three months — recognizing if they haven’t been read in that amount of time, they are unlikely to get read at all. If you set some guidelines like this — no matter what numbers you choose — you’ve made a decision once, rather than having to make one every time you come across yet another magazine.
Here’s another example: You may decide that if something isn’t worth more than $25 (or whatever price point makes sense for you), you’ll donate it rather than trying to sell it.
And one more: You may decide you’ll keep some clothes one size smaller than your current size, but not those even smaller.
2. Give yourself permission to make less-than-perfect decisions.
Some decisions are worthy of much time and thought. But others are much less critical, and making a decision can be more important than making the absolutely best decision.
If your bookshelves are overflowing and you decide to give away 100 popular mystery books, and later decide there’s one you’d like to look at again, that’s OK. You can always get your hands on another copy — from the library, a used bookstore, etc. In the meantime, there are 99 books that no longer are cluttering up your space!
3. Decide to decide.
Look at the item you’re indecisive about. Will you be able to make a better decision about it sometime in the future? Do you need to do some research, or consult with someone about the item? If so, put those next steps in the decision-making process on your to-do list.
But many times, the answer is “no” — you won’t be able to make a better decision later. A business card from someone you met is either worth keeping (or worth the time to enter the information into your address book) or not. The broken item stashed in the garage can either be fixed (and is worth the effort to do so) or not. The charity solicitation is something you want to reply to, or not.
Like almost everyone, I’ve struggled with this at times. I’ve had paperwork pile up and not get entered into my business accounting system because I hadn’t decided what percentage of an expense (like my cell phone bills, or printer supplies) was business, and what was personal. Once I decided to decide, it took all of ten minutes to tabulate my uses and assign a percentage.
So set aside some time to just make those decisions — you can do that in small chunks of time, if that helps — and feel the weight lift off your shoulders, and watch the papers and the stuff disappear.
About The Author
Check out these organization tips from today’s guest author, Tim Eyre, of Extra Space Storage. He shares strategies for just about every room in your home.
Faced with trying to keep myself and my own household organized, I’ve developed a strategy that seems to work for me. Depending on your lifestyle, particularly if you have a large home with children, the task of keeping an orderly house can be daunting. I’ve learned that focusing on one specific room at a time can help make the process more manageable. These are some of the things I’ve learned along the way.
Kitchens. In my experience, the kitchen can be one of the most difficult parts of the house to keep organized, but it’s also one of the most important. Making sure to remove expired foods from the refrigerator and pantry will help you organize your food so it’s easier to find, thereby minimizing waste. However, it’s also important to do so in order to avoid the risk of someone ingesting food that’s gone bad.
Although the refrigerator and the pantry require the most vigilance, you shouldn’t ignore the freezer. Freezers can extend the useful life of many foods, but items shouldn’t be stored there forever. Instead, make some time every once in a while to organize your freezer and throw out food that’s been there a long time in order to make room for fresher options.
Bedrooms. Bedroom closets are another common obstacle in the pursuit to get organized. However, making some time at the beginning of each new season or at the same time each year to go through all your home’s closets and collect garments that haven’t been worn in about a year will help keep things orderly and neat.
Bathrooms. While bathrooms aren’t typically major storage areas for most folks, I’m often surprised to learn how many people hang on to expired medications and empty pill bottles for no apparent reason. For organizational and safety reasons, those items should be disposed of on a regular basis.
Living Rooms. Like bathrooms, living rooms and dens aren’t the most common rooms in the house for clutter to accumulate, but it’s a good idea to survey the items adorning bookshelves and tabletops from time to time. For example, while a well-worn book may look nice on a shelf, donating it to a charity once you’ve read it can make room for that new novel you’ve been wanting to read.
Office. Regardless of whether you have a separate office in your home, chances are you have a desk, a counter, a drawer, or some other area devoted to storing important papers and financial materials. While there’s nothing wrong with that, a good strategy is to go through and actually read all the documents that you’ve been saving.
If something isn’t important, get rid of it (but make sure to shred or otherwise destroy anything that has personal information on it). For other older documents that are, in fact, important, box them up and store them away in a file cabinet or some other safe place so you can keep newer records neatly organized and easily accessible.
Garages, Attics & Basements. Garages, attics, and basements often get neglected because most of us don’t spend much time in those areas, so we tend to let things slide when clutter accumulates. However, if things get out of hand, eventually you won’t be able to find the items stored there. Therefore, it’s prudent to go through these spaces on a fairly regular basis and purge things, like tools that no longer work.
About The Author
Working with self storage users all over the United States, Tim Eyre helps customers store their stuff in places like a self storage facility in Brooklyn and a Sacramento self storage location. In his spare time, Tim likes to get outside for a game of basketball or a round of golf.
Today’s guest blogger, Tim Arends, thinks an organized desk is key to achieving an organized work life. He’s also a MAC and will share tech suggestions for getting things in control.
Whether you work for yourself or someone else, a large percentage of your time is spent at work, and if you’re not organized, you will not achieve the productivity and level of work output that you require. By organizing your workspace, you can not only be more productive, but you can effectively achieve an overall rise in income. So here are a few tips to help get your workspace in order.
Create a Good System
Since you spend a large part of your office time at your desk, this is where you will want to start your organizational efforts. A good system is essential to avoid losing important papers. Letting finished projects pile up on your desk is almost a guarantee that you will have trouble finding what you want when you most need it.
Take Control of Your Papers
It is easy to advise that you remove from your desk everything that you don’t absolutely need, but the fact is that we keep some things on our desks as a sort of “nag.” They’re not urgent, but we don’t want to forget about them either. In this case, you might want to make a special pile for your non-urgent but still important items, but be sure to immediately file them away items when you are finished with them.
The lack of a good filing system is how papers can pile up on a desk, even though only a small percentage of them are actually being used. A good rule of thumb is that if you see something sitting on your desk that hasn’t been used for the past six months, it is probably safe to file or discard it. In this length of time, chances are it never will be used and you might as well get rid of it.
The best step to office organization is to simply throw away papers you no longer need, but some people are terrified of discarding something they may require later on. You can organize your papers by putting them in color-coded folders in your filing cabinet, but a better system might be to eliminate your paper altogether. With a scanner and the appropriate software, you can digitize your papers and then discard the hard copies.
For example, Yep for Macintosh can convert your physical papers into convenient PDF files and organize them as well. Alternatively, Paperless allows you to scan and manage your documents and perform OCR (optical character recognition) on the document text so that you can perform searches through the contents and find the exact file you want at any moment. Other OCR and electronic filing applications include Readiris Pro, OmniPage Pro, and ABBYY FineReader Express Edition. Most of these applications are available for both the Mac and PC.
It has been estimated that the average business executive loses six weeks per year simply looking for important files amidst the clutter. A clear, well-organized workspace is the best way to be able to find things quickly and to focus on the projects that are the most important.
About The Author
Tim Arends is the webmaster of InternetMacMarketing.com. A user of Macs since 1994, he has helped purchase, install, maintain and troubleshoot Macintoshes and Mac networks for business for several years. Currently, he runs his business exclusively using Macintosh.
Did you know that some of the top names in Internet Marketing use Macs? Visit Tim’s website for more information and get a FREE 75-page ebook that covers everything you need to know about running your Internet business using a Mac, iPhone and iPad here.
Our Thursday article is usually reserved for a guest blogger, and today we’re sharing a post from OTR friend, Cori Padgett, from a year ago. Enjoy!
Let’s just say that organized and productive are pretty relative terms when it comes to what I do and how I do it! While I have all the theory and know how to stay on top of things and keep my business running smoothly… implementing that theory and know how is another story altogether. Sometimes things simply do NOT go according to plan!
However, there are a few things that I find help me to keep things efficient, which is what I’ll share with you now.
Create a Schedule for Yourself
I know, sounds a bit dumb… after all, you go into work for yourself to work how you want, when you want.
Except when you operate from that mindset, what happens is that the things that should be done end up falling by the wayside, because you wind up not managing your time appropriately. So… set a schedule for yourself, even if it’s a somewhat loose one.
Figure out what are your most productive times of the day, and make it a point to reserve those hours specifically for high priority projects whenever possible. For me, that is usually from 8am to 2 or 3pm, which are the hours that my kids are in school. After 3pm, any additional work I get done is just gravy!
Create Timed Priorities
I’m a ghostwriter, so the bulk of my high value activities involve writing consistently. I’ve found the best way for me to do this is to do it in blocks, or chunks of time. So invest in…
About the Author
Cori is a wildly hire-able freelance ‘ghost’ as well as the creative brains and dubious brawn behind her blog Big Girl Branding. If you’d like to harness her creative brains and dubious brawn and put it to work for you, just stalk her on Twitter and ask her. I’m “almost” sure she doesn’t bite. Well… like 95% sure.
Today’s guest blogger and freelance writer, Jared Heath, shares his personal journey to getting more organized.
I’d like to share some of my experiences and feelings with you about staying organized. I’m a freelance writer, but you can substitute “writing” with carpentry, sewing, sales, or whatever it is you do to keep food on the table.
We always hear about how work can be tough, and it’s true. It’s tough to get business. It’s tough to keep business coming. Any of you who have done writing know that it’s not always that glamorous. Sure, we all like to dream that our blog is suddenly going to explode with followers and comments next month, but by and large, the writing we do is not exactly the same caliber as Leaves of Grass. You put in your time and make it work, writing on whatever subject happens to drift your way and come with a paycheck.
But that’s not really the point, is it? We pour ourselves into our work. Each day we muster our greatest amount of concentration. Anything can disrupt that concentration – interruptions, stress, clutter – you name it.
I’ve gotten excellent at shutting off interruptions. My phone goes off, email alerts get disabled, door gets locked, and I sign out of chat. But, when you make one improvement to your life, you soon realize weaknesses elsewhere. That “elsewhere” for me was the clutter on my desk. I was so disorganized, and papers were everywhere. Sure I had a system for them, but it didn’t change the fact that every time I looked away from my monitor, I felt the stress of realizing that my office was a mess.
How did I solve this? I took 1 hour and organized my office. There were so many things there that I didn’t need in the foreseeable future, and things that needed to be filed. This may not be the solution for everyone, but I went out and rented a unit from the Los Angeles storage units down the road. I got rid of the clutter, and my ability to write and concentrate. My investment of the few bucks per month has paid off many fold now, and I’m glad I did. Whenever a pile starts to grow, I either file it away, or take it down the street. No stress.
For you, the biggest strain on your work might be a relationship, laziness, or heck, an undying love for Cheetos for all I know. What I do know is you will make some sacrifice, and reap the benefits from it for years. Whether the solution costs money like mine did, or whether it’s free, you’re thinking of the problem right now – now find a solution.
About the Author
Jared Heath is a freelance writer who lives for his two passions: his writing and his family. It’s not always easy, but doing what you love for the ones you love is worth it. As a recent college graduate, he’s making his way and shooting for success. Email him for any inquiries—business or just a friendly chat.
Connect With Jared: E-Mail
Thinking about jumping in the RV for a family getaway this summer? Check out these tips from today’s guest author, Rachel Paxton.
The weather is getting warm again and our family is thinking about going camping again. We are not die-hard campers. We like to camp during warm summer weather and enjoy camping from the comforts of our RV.
RV camping is great, especially if you have young children. With three children six and under, it’s nice to be able to stay warm and dry when it’s raining and to turn the heater on at night when it’s cold. That makes camping a lot more fun both for them and mom and dad.
One of the convenient things about owning an RV is that you can plan and pack well ahead of the day you are going to leave. You can plug the RV in on the driveway and fill the refrigerator and freezer with food several days before you are going to leave. You also don’t need suitcases, you can just pile all your family’s clothing in the RV closets.
With small children, however, it is often still necessary to be packing clothing the night before you leave. If we are going to be gone for a long weekend, I don’t have enough clothing for them to be packing several days in advance. Make sure you pack shorts as well as pants, no matter what weather you expect. I also take two changes of clothing for every day and lots of extra underwear..
Food and Supplies
While you are camping, make a list of items you run out of so that you can replenish your cupboards for your next camping trip. If you wait until you get home, you will forget what you were going to put on the list. This happens to me all the time. Things you will most often run out of may include paper towels, aluminum foil, dish soap, paper plates, etc.
Food storage is also easy with an RV. I keep a lot of items already in the camper so they are always ready to go, such as hot chocolate, small boxes of cold cereal, spices. The more you store in the camper the less you need to pack later.
When you are planning meals, consider whether or not you will have access to water at your camp site. Although you can fill your water tank before you get there, if you are relying on that water for the entire weekend for cooking, dishes, and the bathroom toilet, you will run out of water faster than you expect. When we know we will have limited water, we use a lot of paper plates and plastic silverware, and bring a small barbecue along to cook a lot of the food to limit water usage.
RV camping is great fun for the whole family. If you are like me and like to be organized ahead of time, this is very easy to do with an RV. RV’s take a lot of the stress out of getting ready for camping and make the experience more enjoyable for the entire family.
About the Author
Connect With Rachel: Web
Today’s guest author, Ryan Embly, shares some tried and true traveling tips.
Today’s young travelers seem to be unable to plan and organize their vacations without the help of at least three different gadgets – what a difference from the days before it practically became a requirement to own a cellphone. If you prefer to kick it old school while making travel arrangements rather than join the technological age, here are some organization tips for you.
1. It’s easy to get confused and disorganized when shopping around for things like airline tickets, hotel reservations and tickets for tourist attractions. If you’ve just called six different hotels that all quoted you different prices, it’s unlikely you’ll remember which hotel goes to which price.
When calling multiple locations, make sure to write down the name, phone number, price quoted and other useful information. Make sure to write this information down even if you don’t think you’re going to use it. Far too often people have neglected to write down information that at the time seemed useless but later became valuable. For example, if you are looking for a cheap hotel but the lowest price you’ve come across so far is still too expensive, keep that information because, for all you know, that is the lowest price available and it will be a real hassle to have to dig up that information again after you’ve made ten other phone calls.
2. Writing up a packing list will help you kill two birds with one stone. A list is useful to have when you are packing so that you don’t have to spend time digging through your dresser figuring out what to bring. A list will also help you when you are packing to go home so you can run through it to make sure that you have packed everything you brought with you and there’s nothing hiding under the hotel room bed for you to accidentally leave behind.
3. Write down all your contact information neatly and store it all in the same place. You can buy yourself a little address book to keep all the information in. You should write down the number of your hotel, airline, car rental agency, travel agent, places you are visiting, friends and family in the area – everything! It will save you a lot of time and effort later on when your memory inevitably fails you.
4. Hard copies are your friends. Make copies of everything that could be important for your travel plans, such as your itinerary, tickets, reservations and flight and hotel information. Bring a copy or two along with the original on your trip, and leave another copy at home so if you lose everything, you can phone home and still have access to the information.
It’s also a good idea to make a copy of your driver’s license, passport or identification in case they are stolen or lost. This way, replacing or reporting these documents as lost will be a much easier process. Also, for some purposes you may be able to use these copies in lieu of the original documents. Bring along a folder, binder or accordion file with you so you can keep track of everything.
About the Author
This post was written by Ryan Embly of CarRentalExpress.com.
We’re happy to have Doug Ramsay back to share his thoughts on how technology helps him be creative and productive.
In the contemporary lifestyle of an artist of any type, the marriage of technology and creativity is one destined to never see divorce. For me they are a match made in heaven. Being a musician is my side passion and technology propels my creativity to levels where it’s never been.
I can recall my first use of technology in creating music – the simple aspect of recording my live guitar playing over the air, then via line-in cables to a stereo boombox, was something I did as a young musician starting out in the 70′s. Today, I own a home recording studio and if that isn’t a marriage of tech and creativity, I don’t know what it is.
In music, the 70′s saw primarily analog technology and slowly it evolved to the use of a digital counterpart. Today, creating music by purely analog as well as digital-to-analog and analog-to-digital is widely acceptable.
What happens to all the wonderful music created? Well, one should have a means of communicating that music to the masses. Enter the everyday tools of email and the interwebs! Sites like Bandcamp, ReverbNation, and Soundcloud are very popular for sharing the audio files of music created by an artist.
I often use GMail to send tracks to my business partner to proof, as we strive to finish our own CD project, and use Google Calendar to sync events like recording sessions to my Blackberry and iPod Touch via iCal.
Needless to say, being “techreative” is where it’s at!
It’s NAPO Conference week in San Diego, CA! While I’m off at this year’s conference, enjoy this 2009 article from guest author from Candita Clayton on how to add a touch of green to your spring cleaning.
Unlike like my blog hostess Deb, cleaning is not really one of my favorite things to do. So you may be wondering why I would write a book about green cleaning. In my career as a professional home organizer, I have discovered time and time again that an organized and clean living space can reduce stress, and help every daily routine run smoothly. So with spring cleaning on everyone’s mind, let’s consider greening up your cleaning routine.
Some things you need in your green cleaning arsenal:
• All Purpose Cleaner – I love a product from Better Life called “What-ever!” It works on every surface and really works! Find it at www.cleanhappens.com.
• You can whip up your own all purpose cleaner by filling a spray bottle 1/2 white vinegar, ½ with water and a few drops of nice smelling essential oil like Lemongrass and Tea Tree (found in natural food stores).
Need a little pick me up? …a little something to help you get up and go or get stuff done? Today’s guest blogger, Kim Starry, shares how she stays motivated.
We all have experienced it, times we are discouraged or maybe even depressed. Times we need to be motivated to make it through the day. We may find it hard to motivate ourselves. I learned early in my adult life that I could either be discouraged and depressed or find a way to rise above it.
I was a young Navy wife and mother of two young children far away from my family with a husband who was frequently out to sea. I realized I could find tools to overcome those feelings and motivate myself. I then found myself being the designated cheerleader for other Navy wives, helping them through the difficulties of deployments and the stresses that long separations could bring to family life. I found my motivation through the writings of people like Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn, Martin Luther King, Jr., and most importantly, the Bible. I found myself pulling their quotes and saving them in a file for just the right situation. I knew that every quote I saved at some point would help somebody at just the right time.
Fast forward many years and along comes social media such as Facebook and Twitter, once again another wonderful opportunity to pull those quotes out and share them with friends, colleagues, and people around the world that I have never and will never meet. Some days when I may be feeling a little overwhelmed with life, it is so uplifting to receive a note saying, “Hey I was having a bad day and that quote you posted was just what I needed to hear.”
“Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others, cannot keep it from themselves.” ~James M. Barrie
It makes my day to know that a quote that I posted has touched someone in a special way, helped them if only slightly make their day just a little brighter. While there can be some negative things out there on the internet, I have found that sharing motivating goals has been noting but positive. I have received only nice, uplifting notes from many people, some of which have evolved into friendships. I find it amazing how something that started out as a way to help me get through a lonely day and be the best mom and wife I could be, all of those years later is still not only motivating me, but many others too.
I’m often asked “What is your favorite quote?” It’s almost like asking a mom which child is her favorite. Well, not quite, but I have so many favorites it’s really hard to pick just one or two. My favorite quote is which ever quote I just read or the last one that I posted. If you would like to read my quotes, please feel free to follow me on Twitter at KStarry. If you have ways that you motivate others I’d love to hear it. Wishing you a happy and healthy 2011.
These are a few of my top picks from some of the quotes that Kim has posted on Twitter. ~Deb
» “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to always try one more time.” ~Thomas Edison
» “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” ~Henry Ford
» “You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.” ~Jim Rohn
» “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” ~Albert Einstein
» “Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: ‘I’m with you kid. Let’s go.” ~Maya Angelou
» “Obstacles are the things we see when we take our eyes off our goals.” ~Zig Ziglar
» “If you really want to improve your life, learn to laugh.” ~Tony Robbins
About the Author
Kim Starry is the owner of the Virtual Transcription Team. She started her business in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and today, she lives in Orlando with her husband along with her dog Maggie. Business is thriving providing transcription services for businesses in the social media industry as well as for college professors and market research firms. Stay tuned in the first quarter of 2011 for the roll out of exciting new services.