Technology Tweaks with Big Organizing Payoffs

Even the smallest tweak and tip with technology can make a difference.

  • Need to create your grocery list or other list by store? Try the app ziplist for your smart phone. It helps you create a checklist by store. 
  • Use click ‘n ship at www.usps.com.   Get postage online and print it on  your computer! All you have to do is drop it off!
  • Getting lost? Print out your map from google and keep it on the car seat next to you. 
  • Use Evernote www.evernote.com or Dropbox www.dropbox.com to keep up with your ideas and notes. 
  • Use Send Out Cards to send cards and gifts to family, friends and clients.  I joined Send Out Cards because I am passionate about making mail more fun!  Just click on this to send a smile, a congratulations or celebrate an event!  https://www.sendoutcards.com/storefront/ellendelap/
  • Love to try new recipes or looking for old favorites? Try www.allrecipes.com.
  • Keep all your important phone numbers in your phone for easy dialing.

What is your favorite technology tweak?

Getting Your New Business Organized

I am honored to post again on D. Allison Lee’s blog, Organize to Revitalize.

If you have just started your new business, getting organized is vital to long term success! Check out this post to learn the critical organizing success factors!

http://dallisonlee.com/blog/2011/07/14/get-your-new-business-started-right-get-organized/

ADD and Productivity

ADD and Productivity

 

Slow to start, hard to complete, lose interest, can’t get it perfect? These are some of the stresses of productivity and ADD.  Having some tools to work through these challenges can help.

  • Know your strengths and work from your strengths.  Have the best possible match for your work.  Creativity, being in the moment, and being a people person are often strengths for people with ADD.  Also an intense curiosity and love of information are common. Tedious, every day tasks are usually not.  Whatever your strengths, capitalize on them in your work.
  • Create partnerships that work for you.  It can include an administrative assistant, a colleague, or technology.   The interaction with your partner will help you get started and the accountability will help you finish.  Be sure to ask for help in addition if you need this from a professional organizer, an ADD coach or a productivity consultant.
  • Set a timeline that is compelling. Your brain clicks, clicks, clicks with a deadline.  Set a series of baby steps with faux deadlines to get projects completed on time.
  • Use a planner that works for you.  For technology your smart phone is always with you and can remind you.  For paper think about the planner pad with its lists, week at a glance and month at a glance features.  Focus on using the week at a glance features to help you “see” what you are doing each day.
  • Capture tasks on paper or with technology.  Always have a way to have a brain dump, then prioritize your 3 Most Important Tasks (MITs) for the day.   You can’t get it all done, but you can get the most important done!
  • Establish routines in your day and your week.  Have a power period each morning and afternoon, with interruption and distraction free times.  Assign certain tasks to certain days, such a Money Monday or Financial Friday.  Routines ensure that you are on top of the most important tasks.
  • Delegate what you don’t do well.  Continuing to struggle can be demoralizing and distracting.
  • Know what good enough is.  Perfectionism can strangle your work.  Reflect on what a minimum standard and a good enough standard are and come to a compromise.

What is your best go to idea for struggling with productivity?

Sync or Swim: 201 Organizing Tips You Need to Survive the Currents of Change

 

Sync or Swim: 201 Organizing Tips You Need to Survive the Currents of Change are the next-generation organizing tips for getting things done and controlling clutter without falling into a sea of complexity. Seventy organizing and productivity specialists share 201 of their best tips and 100 most valuable resources in home management, information organization, and organizing every basic area of life. It is a 93-page ebook written by award-winning professional organizer, Judith Kolberg, and certified professional organizer, Allison Carter.  I am one of the contributors!

Featuring:

“New Organizing Tasks”: 20 years ago we didn’t have to deal with syncing calendars, avoiding spam, scanning, defragging, or managing the overload of information that comes our way every day. Our tips help you to survive the day to day chores of this generation.

“Tech Lite” Resources: This ebook contains 140 unique resources for syncing, reminding, tracking, reducing, organizing, scheduling, balancing, and so much more! But it’s not scary high tech. It’s easy to access organizingtools you can use today.

“New School” Tips: New ways to do old tasks: Filing, cleaning up, setting reminders, viewing photos, even changing the oil.

Purchase your copy at

http://www.squallpress.net/index.php?target=banners&bid=70&sl=EN&aff_id=78

ADD and Routines

ADD and ADHD

 

For some of us, creating routines is natural and comfortable.  We love repetition and the sameness of routine.  However, some of us like spontaneity and the excitement of new and fresh!  Can there be a balance or a way to merge these two ideas?  With the challenges of ADHD, often there is a big void of routines.  It is unnatural and uncomfortable.   However, a few important small routines can make a difference.

  • Start with an awareness of how routines can make a difference for you. If you have ADD or ADHD,  think about how whether having one day established for a certain task might be helpful?  The time does not have to be rigid, but it should be compelling.   I suggest having one hour of administrative time once a week to catch up with tedious, required tasks.  Having a routine set for admin time, such as Sunday afternoon between nap and dinner, make certain that paper is acted on. A routine might be something that happens daily or weekly.  Laundry days can be every day in the morning or every Monday and Thursday.
  • Add on one simple, small step to an existing routine.  If you are already successful at a task, add on a related task as the next step in your routine.   It can be simply empty the trash in your car each time you get gas.  Toss the junk mail right after you put the kids to bed.
  • Add a partner to get a task finished.  You and your kids, spouse, or friend can fold and put away clothes, clean up the kitchen, or file and chat.
  • Give yourself permission and time to do a routine well.  If bill paying is the priority, that is all you need to accomplish in one day.   It is okay to accomplish one big job in a day.
  • Use a checklist to successfully begin a new routine.  Your checklist will prompt you visually with the steps in  your routine and you won’t have to rely on working memory. Your checklist will ensure completion too!  A checklist can be used at the beginning or end of the day and placed in a spot where you will see it regularly.
  • Don’t give up a routine easily.  It takes at least 3 weeks and up to 6 weeks to get a routine established.  Have tenacity and a compelling reason to keep your routine going.

What are routines that work well for you?  What is your “secret?”

Getting Dinner Done

organizing your dinner plan

 

One of my personal priorities is getting dinner done.  It is a great time for communication, cooperation and role modeling for our families.  It all starts with setting a time for your family to gather and getting dinner on the table.  There are several short cuts that can help.

Planning dinner

Having  a plan is the biggest part of getting dinner done.   The success factor for dinner means you have a plan that works for you.   Gather your family together for your family meeting and brainstorm 10 meals everyone will eat.  These can be very simple, including dinner for breakfast, sandwiches or simple assembly with pre-cooked ingredients.   Moms sometimes like to throw in “surprise night” so that you have the opportunity once a week to be creative.

My colleague Susan Heid recently added her own cookbook for sale. With the discount code of CP20, you can purchase it online at her website.   Susan includes making your lists and conversation starters too!

http://www.theconfidentmom.com/mom-resources/got-dinner-quick-easy-recipes-from-the-confident-mom/

Susan enthusiastically wears the hat of mom, step-mom and foster mom to 4 awesome kids – ages 18, 14, 10 and 14 months; is married to her very own prince charming, loves coffee, cloudy days, and does think the bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle. You can find her at her other day job, The Confident Mom and get a FREE copy of her popular eBook “Getting Kids to Cooperate and Become Team Players.”

Online resources for creativity include www.e-mealz.com and www.thescramble.com.  All of these boost your meal planning organization in different ways.  Choose what works for you to get the plan going!

One amazing way to make your family and husband VERY happy is to post the meals of the week! You will receive not only amazing compliments, lots of hugs too!

Planning shopping

One of the trickiest shopping is for groceries.  Everyone’s ideal is different, but most agree that have a way to capture the list, and getting to the store regularly, make for the easiest organization. You can google your store and print out the list of groceries by aisle and keep this on a clipboard near the pantry.  Having two days that are the “regular” shopping days make sure there is always milk in your home.

Planning cooking

At 4:30 your kids become aliens who were raised by wolves! Having a plan on when to cook is the last step in dinner planning.  You can set aside time on Sunday to double batch, you can start your dinner early in the crock pot before you leave for work, or  you can entertain your kids in the kitchen with you while cooking dinner.  You can mix it up with partnering, where you and one child cook one night, and your partner and another child do the dishes that night.  Delegating and cooperating are fun parts to cooking dinner and everyone can have a job.   All of these are great ways to have preparation time.  Know what works for you and set up your time accordingly.   For me, even without kids at my feet, I love to cook on Sundays and adore my crock pot!  My husband and I share the clean up responsibilities too.

What are your best ways to get dinner done?

Get ready for summer travel, camps and more!

get ready for summer

 

 

Now is the perfect time to be planning your summer holidays.  Many families are choosing a stay-cation for spring break, taking time to catch up, do projects, and get in a little fun locally.  Get ready for the summer by choosing camps or other activities for your kids, planning an extended summer vacation or even preparing for local summer fun.

 

Start by corralling all those important summer dates and ideas.

When does school end? What events like family reunions or weddings are already planned? When is Vacation Bible School or Swim Team? When does school gear back up with activities like sports or dance?

Host a family meeting focusing on summer fun. What do your kids enjoy the most? What new adventures or activities would they like to try?  Where would you and your kids like to travel? Is there time for you and your spouse to have your own get-away?

 

Your approach gives you time to investigate some great online resources.

Check these out!

http://www.thefamilytravelfiles.com/

http://familytravelnetwork.com/

http://www.travelandleisure.com/vacation-ideas/family

If you are planning a summer stay-cation, check out this site.  http://www.visithoustontexas.com/

Our most beloved family vacation was at Yellowstone National Park.  http://www.us-national-parks.net/

 

Think about alternating busy weeks with low key weeks.

You and your family will feel less pressured in preparing and enjoy the vacation more.   It gives you time to prepare for each event and travel.  Kids need down time too!

 

Making early decisions on your summer plans can save you a bundle.

Once you have committed and paid, remember to keep a folder in your command center specifically for summer.  Move this into your filing cabinet at the end of the summer to keep a record for future trips.   As your summer plans get near, check online for coupons for activities and recreation in your vacation area.  There are lots of ways to save with internet resources.

 

What is your summer plan?  Need ideas?  Check out my Summer Fun pinterest board for great free ideas!

Last minute tax time tips

last minute tax preparation

 

If you are paralyzed about tax time, here are a few ways to get started and unstuck.

Items you can get off the internet if you don’t have the papers you need.

  • Use your year end credit card statements.   These are already categorized for taxes.
  • Go online to your mortgage company and download your mortgage expenses and property tax for your 1098.  Property taxes  and mortgage expenses are the biggest deductions in Texas.
  • Use your online pay stubs to find the taxes you paid on your final paycheck for 2010.
  • Visit your online banking and print statements out needed for income and expenses.

If you have papers, but are overwhelmed and not sure where to start.

  • Go through your papers and mail to find all the 1099s, 1098s and any other envelope marked important tax document on the outside of the envelope.
  • Spend one hour sorting income and expenses.  Spend 30 minutes sorting income into interest and dividends and then stocks for capital gains.  Spend another 30 minutes sorting medical into doctors/dentists, labs, eyeglasses, out of pocket and deductibles.    Spent another 30 minutes sorting charitable deductions.  Spend another 30 minutes using  ItsDeductibleonline.com to tabulate your charity non cash donations. Finalize with 30 minutes of wrap up.
  • Group your credit card and other receipts by categories for your small business, such as advertising, meals (with the name of who you worked with and the work you did written on the receipt), office supplies, mileage and educational expenses.

The hardest thing about taxes is getting started! Just do it, jump on it, get help with a professional or tax software, and you will be very glad you did!

Effective, Efficient, Productive Home Office

 

Organizing your home office, whether it is for personal or business reasons, makes all the difference!  Getting down to business at your desk is a chore if it is piled with papers! Establishing a comfortable area for paper work and other office activities is important for productivity. Use these tips to create a space dedicated to effectiveness, efficiency and organization.

Create a Work Zone
As you begin, determine what tasks you are doing in your office and the tools needed for these tasks. By making these decisions at the outset, you are preparing your space for accomplishment. Create areas specifically designated for most frequent activities. As for room arrangement, place your desk in a position that allows maximum use of natural light. Position the desk in a direction that allows for direct viewing of all who enter without you having to turn.  Add an L shape or credenza behind for easy access storage for your command center or project files. 

Desk drawers should have only what you use at the desk in them. Store your additional office supplies in another area. Keep specific categories of items individually stored in different drawers. One drawer should contain checks and bill paying items, one drawer stationary and note pads, one drawer with a pencil tray holding pencils, pens, tape, stapler and scissors. Again, keep just enough to use and not over stuff the drawers. Place books on book shelves, magazines or reading material in a basket to grab and go. Be sure that your telephone, computer and other essentials are placed easily in reach.

A Personalized Paper Plan
A “paper plan” is most important in this work zone. Create an area for “Action” files. This is a temporary home where papers live until either filed away or thrown away. Papers used frequently or that are a “hot topic” need a basket, vertical file, or other space on your desk. Label them according to what actions or terms fit best with your needs. These files can be call, file, mail, or pay. Or these can be named by client name, project name, or other key word that comes to mind quickly. Clearly label your files so you will always know what is in them, and just as importantly, the labels will remind you what not to put in them.

Arrange for the placement of frequently used files to be placed in the desk’s file drawer. Less frequently accessed files can be placed in a separate filing cabinet. As for filing cabinets, use a low-lying, two-drawer cabinet that can be placed next to or near your desk for the added use of its top for other items that you often need. Filing system should be simple easy and manageable. Create categories in your files for the different major work/home areas. For work it may be clients, administrative, financial. For home it may be home/auto, personal, and financial. Use general key words that come to mind quickly, and sub categorize as needed. An example would be Car – insurance, Car – maintenance, or Insurance – Car, Insurance – Home. Think about how YOU think about the paper to find it. Color-coding your files makes it faster to find information. Use one color hanging file to easily slip information into a file. Label the file with a tab using a label maker!

Work Life Balance

work life balance

 

Is there such a thing a work life balance?  Does balance mean the “scales” are always even?  Work life balance can be seen as always a work in progress, arms of the scale going up and down in small increments, but mainly toward the middle where balance occurs.  In pilates, balance occurs when you are moving many parts in very small ways to keep the momentum of balance in place.   That is really what our lives appear to be when we are balancing home, work, relationships, wellness, spirituality and community.

How do we get this momentum of balance together?

Work life balance comes together when you are strategic about your goals and your plan.   Know what your goal of the balance is.  It can be many different aspects of your life, but not every aspect.  It could be to be healthier, “me” time, career advancement, contributing to the community, deeper relationships or peace of mind.   Choose three areas you can positively change to add to your balance.  Then think through your elements to keep them in balance.

 

Then here are my six elements of balance.

  1. You can do it all, not all at once.  Again, it comes down to choices.
  2. Put in the big rocks first.  do the most important first in your day.
  3. Plan your work and work your plan.  Have great tools like a planner and task list, have a weekly meeting with yourself and keep a task list for every day to keep focused.
  4. Build a team using everyone’s strengths.  Learn to delegate waht you don’t do well.
  5. Power periods and productivity.  Be in the moment, set up power periods in your day for productivity and be brutal about disruptions.
  6. Put your own oxygen mask on first.  Have time in every week to rejuvenate and take care of your health in exercising, relationships, proper sleep and good eating habits.

 

 

Decisions make work life balance happen

Decide on actions that fulfill these elements and position them in your calendar as “sacred” and unchangeable.  You have established a boundary for the really important aspects of your balance, and have flexibility on the rest.  You have to know that your goal is and aim at this with specific actions, not generalities.  Having specific times these actions are set, you can now work around them.  It comes down to plan your work, and work your plan!

Tough to do? Knowing what  is most important to me, I find really makes the difference. If being a great mom is most important, drill down and decide what 3 actions show this.  If being top in your field is most important, you must decide what 3 things establish this criteria for you.  If it is both, let’s create a balance between considering the actions.   I think of it as a road map, getting you to where you want to be.

Work life balance for me means a full schedule of clients, time with my grand kids, time to exercise and time with my husband.  I work with clients in blocks of time throughout the week, including Saturday.  On Friday is my “Gigi” day where I pick up my grand daughter from school.  Each week I schedule pilates, and then walk with a friend 3 times a week on a flexible schedule.  Dinner time each night is my time together with my husband, but it can happen anytime between 6 and 8 pm.  Everything else I work around these 3 aspects of what I consider the most important parts of my week. I see clients around the schedule, accomplish tasks at home including paper work, and take personal care with a good bedtime and focus on healthy eating.

Find your work life balance with this equation and share with us what made the difference for you!