Spring Organizing Technology Edition

spring organizing technology

 

Technology tools are an big asset for our day to day living. At the same time these have overtaken our lives. We have devices of all sorts, ranging from cellphones, to smart home lightbulbs, to voice activated assistants.  Our tech needs a little spring cleaning and organizing too!

 

Inventory and edit

Where the heck is the tech in your home? Go through your home and office and find what you have and where it is.  Make a list of what you use and what is required of each.  Label cords with the tech device name and use.  Now you know what’s an older version or a duplicate. Many of us have quickly accumulated older devices as new items come on the market within a three year time frame now. If you have multiple devices that perform the same solutions, think about sending the item on it’s way to someone who can use it.

 

Plan for recycling

There’s electronic recycling all around us.  It’s the right thing to do for our environment. Be sure to clear your device of all your personal information by using the general settings.   For older equipment,  write the date on your calendar of local recycling. If your device is new, you can sell it and make back some of your investment.  Cell phones can be donated to a charity of choice. CellPhones for Soldiers, or local community domestic violence shelters.

 

Choose central storage

Now that you know what you have and what’s left, it’s time to plan for storage.  Choose a central storage spot in your home for technology. Ziplock together the device and cord to store for future use.  Organize the devices by use, such as listening devices like airpods and ear buds or reading devices like nook and kindle.  A drawer in an office, the bottom drawer of your nightstand or a basket in your office cabinet are common storage spaces.

 

Set up a common charging spot

Most important is to set up a common charging spot in your home going forward.  This spot is where all devices are charged overnight for a great night’s rest.  Research proves repeatedly that keeping electronics away from your bedroom improves your rest.  Your family will benefit too. There’s no longer the chaos of lost or borrowed cords for last minute charging or where to find your device on the way out the door.

 

If you are adding a new device this spring, be proactive and get organized with your devices.  It’s one small way to be more organized this year!

 

4 Foundations for Productivity

 

4 foundations for productivity

 

Set yourself up for maximizing your productivity. There are foundational aspects that create the structure to maximize your time and prioritize the tasks.  These include tools and strategies that create a basis for doing your best work.   Here’s the 4 ways to create a foundation for exceptional productivity.

 

Capture all together

If you have post it notes, random scraps, several notebooks and a lot in your head, it’s likely you need a specific capture tool and a capture time.  A capture tool is where all your projects, tasks and ideas are recorded.  It’s tempting to keep it all in your head however it’s not effective.  Decide what’s the best, paper, digital or a hybrid, to capture these elements.

Capture time is the time you are recording.  There’s many ways that can work for you. ASAP is a great strategy, as well as at the beginning and end of the day. Capture by notes, with a voice activated device, or any means that makes this easy. A capture time once a week, with a high level of view of your work, keeps tasks from being overlooked.  I call this weekly planning time.

 

Assessing time

Determining how much time a task or project takes can be the biggest challenge to productivity. It takes practice with the same tasks as well as a knowledge of your strengths and skills.  Break your task into the simplest step and give this your best guess. Then multiply that time by three.  Time yourself as you complete the task and review your success.

 

Assign work times

Completing a project on time, whether it’s taxes or client work, is a true test of productivity. Look at how you structured your weeks, months and quarters. Be sure to schedule chunks of time to work or give yourself an entire day to complete your tasks.  Either way, you know that you can be sure to finish for your deadline.  Remember,  a task that has no time assigned on a calendar is not a task. It’s a wish!

Control the distractions after your assigned work periods.  That’s dificult and necessary.  Those distractions indicate you have lost momentum and energy.  If you find yourself scrolling through Facebook instead of working, take a break, get a drink of water or move your work time to another time of day.

 

Match work and energy

Work when you work best.  Use your lower energy time for when you do less important work. Know your chronotype to do your best work. If you are morning person, get to work on the important stuff first before checking email.  Come back around to work again after dinner if you have an energy spurt. bove all, the best foundation to productivity is rest and rejuvenation. Time away from work, time being creative and time to sit all contribute to being more effective.

 

The best foundation for productivity includes a plan.  Plan for planning time, however your plan should not be too specific and too detailed.  Your plan should be a work flow, incorporating some routines that keep your productivity high.  Complicated, hour by hour planning can be too much to accomplish.

 

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19 Ways to Organize Your Office

 

 

19 ways to organize your office

 

An organized office is the gateway to more productivity.  As in any space, the key is clear areas to work, easy access to what’s most important to use and good routines to keep your space organized.

 

Start with your desk

  1. Everyone needs a good space to work. Your “desk” may be stationary or mobile.
  • Clear what’s on your desk and put it in a box.  Add back in only the tools you use every day to the desk top.
  • Gather papers together in an “unprocessed” wall pocket near the door of your office. Drop items in there that have not been reviewed or triaged.
  • Clear your computer or device desk top by moving documents to the document folder.  Start by creating folders to house the documents.  Do this 15 minutes at a time and you will feel accomplished as your desk top looks clearer and cleaner.
  • Not enough space on your desk? Add a file cart to store papers and access these quickly.

 

Move to the desk drawers

Drawers are not to just stuff away desk top clutter.

  • Designate uses for each drawer.  Top middle or top right drawer works best for immediate access items, such as less frequent tools or checkbooks.  Right file drawer can be set up for frequently accessed resources. Left file drawer can be your “personal” file drawer for snacks, lotions, or extra items.
  • Desk drawers can easily become cluttered. Add organizing trays to your drawers to see exactly where items go.  A pencil tray or shallow baskets help you organized these.
  • Keep the knee space clear under your desk.  It’s easy to accumulate stuff that needs to go home.  Make a point of taking home items every Friday to keep clutter away.

 

Resources and bookshelves

Think vertical and think access for your bookshelves.

  • What resources do you want to keep close and access quickly?  That’s what belongs on your bookshelves.  Your resources can be stored in attractive, consistent appearance notebooks with labels on the spine.
  • Use the top shelf for knickknacks and photos.  Your desk stays clear and you have a space to host family and memorable keepsakes and awards.
  • Remember that on organized bookshelves all books are vertical or staged in a decorative array.  An overpacked bookshelf means it’s time to cull out what is not useful.

Digital organizing

Organizing inside your computer is critical to your productivity.

  • Organizing your email by general topics. Think about the areas of your work and create subfolders in your inbox to save these. Areas might be clients, vendors, or resources. These big categories save you time filing.
  • Set specific times to work your email.  Three times a day is sufficient to work through email.  Add tasks and project to a task list to keep from cluttering your inbox.

 

Paper

The word strikes horror, fear, and overwhelming feelings. Paper work takes a plan.

  • Have a basket, wall pocket or slot for unprocessed papers.  It’s the spot where paper comes as it enters the office.  Having this spot keeps the paper in one area.
  • Be deliberate and brutal about eliminating paper.  Have a recycle and shred zone in your office.
  • A To Be Filed spot helps you keep control of paper.  This slot is a drop area to keep papers until you file.  When the basket or slot is full, it’s time to file (which should be quarterly.)
  • Paper work builds up quickly.  A weekly admin time for one hour helps you keep on top of paper.

 

Keeping organized

Keep your organizing success by keeping your office organized.

  • Each evening set a timer to remind you it’s time to close up shop.  Remember that time when a shop keeper turned the open sign to closed and took the money from the till to the safe?  That’s what we all need to end our day. Make a list of your closing activities to get items back to their slots.
  • Set time weekly to bring items back home to their original spots.
  • After your annual strategic planning or at the new year, evaluate what is in your office and if it serves your purposes this year.

Need help with your office?  Call me!

NAPO and Your Business and Career Success

NAPO and your career and business success

 

It’s exciting to lead our thriving association and get to know smart, professional colleagues in an expanding industry.  It’s thrilling to be at the front of what is a bustling industry. This has been a fantastic year as President of NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals) and I want to share my State of NAPO address with you!

NAPO empowers and partners with us in our businesses and careers.

Let me share just one of many NAPO stories with you about our relationships.  It’s a story of us. Amanda Wiss met Eileen Bergman before conference. Many referrals were passed between the two and then there came Urban Clarity’s largest referral amounting to over $50,000.  As a gracious thanks, Amanda gave Eileen tickets to the play Hamilton. And guess the name of that client – Hamilton!

That’s the power of our relationships and our connection to NAPO.

5 Ways NAPO empowers our businesses and careers

That story speaks about one success, however there are many more.  I am speaking today about 5 of these: education, credentials, leadership, financial scaling, and work life integration.

NAPO Education

We’re education junkies and NAPO has the stuff we need.  It’s our certificates, on demand education and bundles. NAPO offers top notch education available affordably and easy access 24/7.  Our NAPO certificates are game changers. I just completed Household Manager Specialist Certificated and loved each class. As Deborah Gussoff, In Place owner says, certificates have given her more education to help her clients. NAPO Education ranks as a top member benefit.

Certification

We have the gold standard here at NAPO. It’s our certification program, the Certified Professional Organizer (CPO).  This is about credibility, education and ethics. As my friend Janice Simon, who works at M.D. Anderson says, certification gives her additional credibility inside an institution that values this.  Congrats to our over 350+ CPOs. We’re growing!

NAPO Leadership

There’s a leader in each of us.  We have opportunities to lead that include major opporutnities and micro volunteering. Our industry has passion for making a difference and these opportunities are available to each of us. As my friend and President – Elect Susie Hayman says, NAPO leadership gives her the opportunity to empower others.  Be sure you are signed up to share your strengths and talents.

Financial Success

No matter how big our financial goals are, NAPO is here to support you in meeting these.  NAPO members can scale their businesses to the size that works for them, can be a team member in a larger business, or decide on a career organizing within another arena or company.  We support financial success in supporting each other. As my friend Lisa Mark says, she and a mentee worked together on a project that included over 35 subcontractors of various forms.  Together they earned 5 figures in 6 days. That’s how we can support and work together to earn what we want.

Work Life Integration

NAPO gives us the opportunity to create balance in our work and life. That’s my NAPO success story. Each Friday I close the week off at 12 noon to start Gigi Friday. That’s when I spend the afternoon with my grandkids.  I appreciate the flexibility of my work and the opportunity to spend every Friday afternoon with my grands.

NAPO is thriving because of each of us and our partnership with NAPO.  As we move forward with our work and careers, there is no limit to what we can accomplish together.

As I end my term, I want to thank each of you for the amazing opportunity to lead our association.  It’s beyond my biggest dream to lead the smartest, most innovative, most collaborative members in our bustling association and a growing industry.

Getting to the finish line for those with ADHD

The energy of a new project gets you started. You are excited to create order in your home with organizing, find a new app to help with productivity or create better communication with a meeting.  In the beginning, there is fuel with stimulation and energy. What happens when your tasks and project hit a road block? How do you get to the finish line?  For those with ADHD, it’s a common question.

 

Know what the finish line looks like

What does it look like to finish your project?  Is is pinterest worthy? Does it need to be?  Keep the end in mind as you start the project so you know when it is complete. There’s often perfectionism that’s inthe way of getting to the finish line.  You can work in the space or on the routine as a practice session. That way you can course correct if necessary and finish after you redefine the end result.

 

Get coaching to get to the finish line

It’s so close and yet so far.  You are 90% done and it’s that last 10% that  is not happening. Go with a team approach with a coach.  A coach will help you flush out obstacles and see what is in the way.  Perhaps there were more decisions you didn’t see or there’s no time in your schedule.  Often those with ADHD respond well to coaching s they are verbal processors who need to work out a few last details.

 

Set the date

A simple date can draw your project to a close. It’s just like when we plan on company coming! It’s that date that helps us make things final. If you have a project, work backwards from the due date and create segments or chunks to accomplish smaller parts. Also pad your due date with an extra week.  Tasks and projects take twice or three times as long as you might project.

 

Teamwork gets you to the finish line

For me the last 10% takes the most time and energy.  The energy and  strengths of having a team can get you to the finish line.  Meet with you team well before the deadline.  Align who does what best so you are working from strong skills and knowledge. A team approach also means there are more people to celebrate your success together.

 

After getting to the finish line, celebrate your success with a list of what helped you finalize your project.  The list helps you create new strategies for your next project.

 

I am a Certified Professional Organizer

Certified Professional Organizer

 

Are credentials important to you?  My “initials” in instagram represent a credential that’s valued beyond measure to me.  My industry offers a gold standard for working with clients.  It’s called Certified Professional Organizer®, which I have been since the program began in 2007.  I am so proud of my CPO that I always share this credential in articles, speaking and blogging.

 

Credentials are earned by passing a test to show a base line level of knowledge.   The test includes questions about my job, called a job task analysis, to be sure what is being tested applies to the work I do. To sit for the test, there are a required number of hours with clients.

 

What is required for certification?

You might say it’s surprising that there is a certification for this work.  Most clients inquire about how long I have been in business rather than the education or testing done.  Certification includes earning over 1250 hours in working with clients and passing a test over a body of knowledge for working in this field.  This credential is offered by the Board of Certification for Professional Organizers®.  There are a little over 350 CPOs globally. It’s an elite group!

 

Here’s more facts about my certification.

It’s more than passing a test! It’s about maintaining your education  with continuing education.

  • Every three years I recertify by earning 45 or more continuing education units.  I just recertified with 127 CEUs. I take classes to make a difference with you as my client and stay on top of industry and professional trends. We recertify every three years.  This is the year of my recertification.
  • I am bound by an enforceable Code of Ethics.
  • Certificates are not the same as certification. I also hold certificates of study in ADHD and chronic disorganization, as well as specialist certificates in life transitions and workplace productivity.
  • The CPO is the only certification endorsed by the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO).

 

Why certification matters

Certified Professional Organizers are committed to experience, education and ethics.  That’s who I want to work with when I am choosing a professional too!

 

 

9 Tips on How to Conquer Email

9 tips to organize email

 

Email has become one of the most demanding, stressful and overwhelming parts of our day.  There’s email streaming in at all times and a torrent like a flood.  Add to that, there’s many important tasks and documents imbedded in the stream. Email has moved from a way to share information to a heavy chore to dread.  Here’s 9 tips on how to conquer email and feel good at the end of the day.

 

Folder Organization

We have had email overload for a while.  It’s time to take charge of how it is organized.

To file or not to file?  That’s a great question!  While our technology gives us the opportunity to never file, do we file what we what to find most easily?  The search tools work for anyone who does not want to file at all.  However, if you want to file, here’s the easiest way to set up your folders.  Think big categories! For home these categories are Financial, People, and Home. For work these are the different categories of work you do. Most likely it is Clients, Vendors, Marketing and more. The reason to think big is that you can gather information into these general files and not spend too much time on filing.  It also gives you a specific home for specific information.  Write out your categories before you begin to be sure you have a category for all the topics in your email.

 

Email subject lines

Universally the first line we see in email is the subject line. Make it a good one!  Be specific and short. Email is intended to inform, not discuss.  The best subject lines are short and sweet and to the point.  If you recieve one that is not, reply with a more appropriate line to keep your email on target.  If you decide you want to file this email, you can email yourself with a new subject line too to keep it relevant.

 

Signature lines

Signature lines share your contact information.  There’s a lot to keeping in touch with your contacts and also sharing who you are and what you do.  There’s great ways to write these to help your contacts and you stay in touch. That’s also where you should begin in keeping connected.  Add the information from the signature line to your contacts. It will cross over to all your devices to use when you want to email or call.

 

Detach documents

Documents are intended to be detached from email and kept in your Documents folders.  This is the way to make work happen.  If you are working together on a document, google docs is the way to go!

 

Tasks on your task list

The big reason we keep reviewing our email and keep our inboxes full is that there are many tasks in our email.  Those tasks range from a one minute acknowledgement we received something to multi-step projects to important responses to a client.   Can you apply the 3 minute rule to an email? If it takes 3 minute or less, just do it during your email work time. If it takes more, add it to your task list for completion later.  Just this simple rule will clear out your tasks and your email.

 

The same applies to dates and calendaring as well.  Dates that come in email should be added to your calendar and your online calendar as a reminder as needed.  Email is not the place to leave your calendar dates to search.

 

Separate shopping with it’s own email address

What’s cluttering our inboxes the most? It’s our shopping offers! We are reluctant to let go of these offers since we might use them.  Set up a separate shopping email to keep these offers together and segregated.  It’s going to save a lot of deleting and time.

 

Work your email and routines that make email disappear

Email is just like snail mail. Would you run up and down to the mailbox every hour to get your mail? Keep your email routines sharp.  Check email 3 times a day.  That way you always keep it in check and keep up to date on your work.  Set aside a work time for those detached documents.  That is a power hour when you do important work without distraction.

 

Email etiquette

Our email gets so overwhelming, we leave it for long periods of time.  Email gets lost as we open it on a device and then it’s buried in already read email. Determine your own email etiquette to keep communication flowing. Perhaps you consider your “turn around time” 48 hours and letting other’s know this is good.  Know who to respond to rather than respond to all.  Email etiquette shows your own professionalism. Your email is a reflection of you.

 

Consider the information, consider the communication

If you are receiving 10 emails about the same topic, it’s time to pick up the phone.  Email is not the tool to use instead of a meeting or if you have a crucial conversation to hold. There are times that a one on one phone conversation is required.  Know when it’s time to pick up the phone instead of use email for communication.

 

Email can be conquered with organization.  Get started with organizing, then add these tips to your email routine.  There’s hope for email organization as you take small steps to conquer this.

 

Bonus tip: Organize your email with tech tools.

With unroll.me, your subscriptions are organized into a list for you to read but not interfere with your work. Using Mailstrom you can group related mail and act on it as a group.  If you use gmail, there’s Boomerang to help you respond to email.  Check out one of these tech tools to get through your email overload.

 

 

 

 

 

 

19 Ways to be More Organized in 15 minutes

19  ways to be more organized  in 15 minutes or less

 

Busy schedules required small time increments to make a difference in your life.  We just don’t have a lot of time to get organized because of all we do each day.  Here’s some baby step, 15 minutes steps you can take to have a more organized home, work and life.

Start with yourself and getting your stuff together.

  1. Gather your favorite clothes and hang them at the front of your closet.
  2. Use ziploks or small zipper bags to gather like items together in your purse or man bag.
  3. Group your exercise clothes together and place one set in a gym bag in  your car.
  4. Use an online app to purchase your groceries. Set up a reminder to do this every Saturday morning for delivery later that afternoon.
  5. Purchase online a small alarm clock for your bedroom to get a great night’s rest.

 

Move on to your family and home.

6. Place a donation bag for easy access to drop items in as they are ready to go to Goodwill.

7. Every time you go into a drawer in your kitchen, assess what’s not used and add it to the donation bag.

8. Grab a pile of paper and recycle or shred for 15 minutes.

9. Head to your bookshelf and add books to your donation bag you have not read or will not read again.

10. Walk around your home and gather school and office supplies together to know what you have.

 

Add in tech organizing

11. Spend 15 minutes in your email folders organizing by category. Think big and think about the ways to group your email rather than by alphabetical single folders. Organize only what you need rather than every email.

12. Delete photos you don’t need from your phone. Move photos to a consolidated cloud based access tool.

13. In email detach documents and save these in your documents folder. Rename these with an easy, consistent naming process.

14. In 15 minute slots, delete what you don’t need from email. Rearrange by subject and sender to make it easier to decide what to delete.

 

Finish up with routines

15. Take 15 minutes each evening to “reset” and get life back together.

16. Take 15 minutes each evening to prep for tomorrow with your clothes, nutrition and stuff.

17. On Sunday evening, add a weekly 15 minutes to review your calendar for the next week ahead.

18. Write up a weekly meal plan for you and your family. Post it or capture it digitally to repeat in 3 weeks.

19. Spend 15 minutes sitting, relaxing, rejuvenating, reading a magazine or taking time to reflect on all you are grateful for each day.

 

Congrats! You have made organizing simple, fast and easy! You are more organized in 15 minutes. Now repeat again next week, and again the following week.

3 Strategies for Effective Team Leadership Communication

 

Team leadeship communication

 

Keeping your team up to date is a critical communication strategy. There’s always more information, more to say and more to update than we can communicate easily.  As team leaders, we want to be transparent, efficient and effective in communication.  To be transparent, we strive to update all our team members simultanously on the current  initiatives, tactics and operations. It’s all about what’s the most efficient way to do this, rather than a blanket email.  Being effective encompasses both of these values as well as doing our work as a thought, vision and strategic leader.  Here are 3 team strategies that I use routinely for effective communication.

Strategic routine phone calls

It all started because there are so many details and so many emails in my work as NAPO President.  Rather than email daily with an unconsolidated list,  early on my Executive Directors and I determined that two calls a week could cover what we needed to cover with strategies and tactics.  These calls have an agenda that we complete as we gather information. The agenda has a spot for actions that we can refer to and complete.  Our Executive Directors value this since our conversations are high level, strategic and succint.  We allow 45 minutes for the calls, talk at the beginning of the week and end of the week.  It’s brought us and our work together.

 

Strategic use of tools

Google docs has become our most strategic tool for communication.  Google docs are an array of possible documents including spreadsheets.  This is a free option and we can access on all devices.  We have several google docs that are used for different agendas.  The President and Executive Director doc includes topics that are most important to discuss, FYI (not discussion, just for your information), and the list of Requests for Action (RFA) for our next meeting. The Executive Committee google doc is an open agenda.  As a leader of your team, determine what is required for weekly discussion.  This tech  tool is one of many different tools I recommend for leadership for many different actions.

 

Strategic long term communication

There are several factors important to communication. It’s what you are sharing, how frequently you share it and who you share it with.   A monthly update, posted to a community internal board, keeps everyone apprised of strategic work.  The update can be an excel spreadsheet chart with a column for completion or a narrative update.  Posting these with a year then month gives your team the option to see several months and review progress.  This all starts with your annual strategic planning, leading to initiative throughout the year.  Posting this monthly offers the opportunity for updated projections, updated tactics and assessing success.

 

Start your communication with a discussion about options.   Set a routine time to meet that offers everyone a time to do their most important work first and then update at a least productive time.  Be sure everyone updates their planner at the start of your collaboration.  Be open to flexibility when needed and be on target enough to keep the boundaries of your work together.  Fortune favors the prepared leader!

 

More leadeship ideas here!

How to set up an Organized home: Your Tech Spots

technology in your home

An organized home has 4 important components for living an easy, organized life.  These areas are zones that help you accomplish the basics: being on time, feeling in control by knowing where things are and working together as a family team. These components will make life better! The second step is having your technology organized.

 

Technology can rule and ruin the day in your home.  There’s so many devices, so much connectivity and so much that needs organizing.  Get your tech organized with a plan.

 

Common charging spot

Common charging spots make life better.  A good night’s sleep comes from no blue light before bed or distractions during the night.  Create a common charging spot for all of your family.  That’s where you and your family all plug in at night, overnight, to be sure that every sleeps undisturbed. All your devices are ready to go and in one place to take off for the day. Use alarm clocks for wake up for all of you.  It’s an inexpensive option as a replacement for your phone.

 

Labeling

Our devices have lots of pieces, cords and accessories.  Break out your labelmaker to know what cords are needed for what devices.  Have sufficient cords for yourself and your family. If you are a frequent traveller, have a duplicate set of cords to travel with in a small zipper case or grid it case.

 

Smart home stuff

Thank you to our friends Alexa and Siri for helping us each day! Smart home features are on our devices to make life easier. There are small ways to get started and most sites state that the most bang for your buck decision is your therostat.  Choose a strong password for your smart home stuff to avoid being hacked.

 

With your Amazon or Google assistant, place this in a well supervised area of your home. Just like any other device connected to the internet, there’s possibilities for your kiddos you may or may not have imagined.

 

Tech during homework or work time

All of us get easily distracted on devices.  There’s ways to help you stay focused with apps.  If you want to track your use, check out RescueTime. If you want to block segments of the internet, use StayFocd.  Keeping on task means staying organized and productive.

 

Tech graveyard

There comes a time when your tech dies. It’s reaching epic proportions in homes with computers, laptops and devices.  There’s ways to sell and recycle tech without much work. Sites like Gazelle and Decluttr to buy back your tech. There’s kiosks in your mall or your cellphone provider will buy back new-ish devices.  Don’t create a tech graveyard and take action when you get a new piece of equipment.

 

What’s best about your organized tech spots? It is using your tech for what’s best in your life!