Organizing your new gadgets

In holidays past we were all about assembling toys and reading instruction manuals.  Now it is setting up your wireless and using your new smart phone!  We each have a different way of getting started on our new technology.  Some of us like to read on the internet, some of us like to play with the technology, others like our friends to talk us through the set up.  Let me offer a few hints with baby steps to get organized.

New Kindle or Nook

New mobile device like a smart phone

  • Verizon offers a class for their customers with blackberries, droids or other new phones. It is well worth the time to attend! I did! After struggling for 2 weeks with a new phone, it was great to get specific instructions on common tasks and shortcuts. 
  • Google instructions for your specific smart phone. There are an incredible number of online resources to suggest how to get started.
  • Just do it! It may be painful for the first 2 weeks, but the transition is worth it.  Remember when you travel to a new country how quickly you learn the language? When you “just do it,” it is the same immersion process. 

New computer, laptop or other hardware

  • Find a reliable, knowledgeable and trustworthy source to help with installation.  If you work with technology regularly, you know the shortcuts.  Consistently rely on the same source for set up for all your devices.
  • Before you transition, think about backing up all your data. I use www.carbonite.com and it has been a great resource.

New ipod,  ipad, itouch or iphone

  • Online resources will be a great help here.  Of course Apple offers a great resource here. http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4053
  • The Apple Store offers one on one, workshops and other training.
  • There is always the old fashioned way: by phone at 1-800-MYAPPLE. 

Calendar technology

  • Choose a calendar that will work well with your smart phone or find an app that will add your existing technology. With my smart phone, I added nitrodesk to be able to view my Outlook calendar.  You can use Google calendar automatically with your gmail accounts on Verizon products.  If you have an iphone, you can also sync with the google calendar.  Every phone is different, so check your provider for  more information. 
  • Set aside an hour to add as much current or upcoming information as possible.  Add dates from school, church, Boy Scouts, and any other events between now and June.
  • Begin adding in dates for birthday and anniversaries as recurring events.
  • Remember, each time a new date comes up, check your calendar, and enter the date.

Getting started with your new gadgets may take a few extra minutes but it will be well worth it! Remember, there are always a few glitches so be sure to persevere.  If you get stuck, talk with friends, google or call.  

What are your ways of organizing your new gadgets? 

Lifehacker’s link for shiny new gadgets  http://lifehacker.com/5717749/

Keep It Simple Santa

It is the happiest of times and the busiest of times!  The holiday season is here!  Sharing a few ideas to help you celebrate this special time of year! 
 
Choose one

Whether is it choosing gifts, baking holiday cookies or sending Christmas cards, we often have complicated choices.  Choose one biggie and make it your best.  Simplicity is a powerful way to do your best and de-stress. 

Also, think about taking one task off your list this year.  Throughout the year we are busy, and the holidays are extra busy.   Take off that one task you dislike the most, you are least prepared for, or one you can delegate easily. 
 
Share the joy

Holiday time is filled with ways to share time and tasks.  Partner with family members to get tasks done, such as wrapping gifts, baking, or decorating.  Put aside perfectionism so your partners can be creative and have fun.  These moments make the holiday  most memorable.  

Think of others to share the joy too! Set a time and date in the next few weeks for family decluttering.  This is the perfect time to declutter with your kids help.  Have them help you load the car and go with you to donate too.  Used toys in good condition are appreciated by Goodwill now and all year long.
 
Spend time with people, not preparations

Nurture time with family and friends at this time of year.  Set a date and create a simple gathering with those who are most important.   Time together can be a visit to a museum, a picnic in a park, or a watching a holiday movie together.  Here is where the true joy of the season really shines.

Wishing you a very merry holiday season and the happiest of new years!  Hugs, happy organizing and happy holidays! 

Your Calendar and You! Making a Match!

Helping decipher the calendar code is what I do with my clients.  There is no perfect planner, but there is a planner that will make your life, your work and everything come together. 

A work at home mom and photographer who is also a very busy volunteer prefers google calendar.  She loves that it synchronizes with her phone so she only has one item to carry in her purse.  It is also compact, so no bulky planner to carry.  Her husband can enter dates and see all the family activities.  She adds dates consistently and loves that it is always updated.

A working single woman uses ical to track her work week.  She uses the week at a glance feature and color codes her appointments, her testing dates, and her administrative time.  The color coding reinforces what tasks she has to accomplish.  She add recurring dates and uses this feature to keep her on top of routines.

A part time working, part time stay at home mom with an additional small side business loves the planner pad.  This planner is only available online at www.plannerpads.com.  She loves the columns at the top of the week at a glance section to add tasks in categories, loves the month at a glance page to get an overview of the upcoming events, and loves that it comes in a notebook format.  She adds additional pages at the back to record information she uses regularly in her additional business. 

A busy entrepreneur loves his Outlook calendar.  He writes notes on index cards every day and enters into his calendar each evening.  What is especially helpful is adding reminders 15 minutes before each action item and dates.  He never misses an appointment or is late!

A blended family with 6 kids come together weekly and fill in their month at a glanc calendar that hangs in their kitchen.  Everyone talks about the weekly activities, while one of the kids fills in the dates on the calendar. Each family member knows that is going on that week.  Kids and parents refer to the calendar throughout the week to keep on top of pick ups, drop offs, and tasks. 

Call me old fashioned, but for my work I love the paper planner with week at a glance.  It really works for me as a visual tool, easy to access and great for planning.  I work with a week at a glance, have a weekly planning time to update and review what is coming up, and add items all the time. It is my most important tool for my business and my life balance.  I carry it like it is my “blankie” and never let it out of my sight. 

Think about your strengths, your needs and your work flow to make an effective choice!  What calendar system works for you?

Happiness

At the recent National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization Conference, I learned from Dr. Wanda Bethea (www.drbethea.com) about the important of happiness. 

Happy people live longer, are more creative, generous, productive at work, in better health, and have higher income! 

 Dr. Bethea shared the value of positive psychology, including the study of people living an engaged, meaningful and pleasant life.  Dr Bethea’s introductions of several rating scales for happiness intrigued me in that adding a measurement tool for happiness made us even more aware of how important this emotion is to daily living.  Every day we face stressors, but are we generally happy?   Take the test and see.  www.positivityratio.com.

If you found your score deficient, here are some ideas shared by Dr. Bethea to elevate your score. 

Write down 3 good things each evening.  Keeping a gratitude journal makes a difference.

Write a letter of gratitude to share on the phone or in person with the recipient.

Write about your future as if all had gone the best possible way, seeing the best possible future for yourself.

Identify your character strengths and cultivate one of them in five ways during a week. 

Create a vision board for happiness, what makes you happy,  brings a smile to you face, and bring inner joy.

Some of my ideas….

Surround yourself with optimistic people.

Find a quote you love or a silly saying to post on your mirror where you dress each morning.

Do for others. Nurture optimism in those around you by celebrating a birthday, bringing a surprise, or taking a cupcake to them.

Bring out the best strengths in others with affirmations.   Celebrate the small quiet kindnesses in our world. 

So what is the happiness and organizing connection?  For me it is about being  and feeling your best, living a meaningful and productive life.  And that is what organizing adds to in everyone’s life.  Happiness is the global result of organizing.   Share with me your steps to greater happiness!

Embrace your inner minimalist at the office

 

Are you drowning in paper at work? Is your space littered with too many empty mugs or hand cream?  Do you feel disconnected, unproductive and disorganized? Do you feel it reflects on you professionally ?  Embrace your inner minimalist! 

Create a vision of who you are and your professional performance with the décor in your space.  Define what clarity looks like in your environment. Think of colors that are a reflection of your style.  Keep minimal personal photos and knick knacks.   Think through the books, the art, and even the awards you have placed in your office.  In creating this vision you can make a list of adjectives you want to embody as you change this space. 

Many companies have an existing record retention policy stating how long to keep paper records.  But sometimes we can create rules for what you will keep and how long you will keep it if it is a rough draft, old budgets, or even a former employees previous paper.   If you do keep the paper, decide if a notebook or file is a better location for you to find the information.   How did this office client eliminate so much paper? By knowing what to keep and where to keep it! 

Take time to maintain your minimalist style.  Start and end the day with routines that reflect this.   Bring your one mug to and from work in your professional looking bag.  End the day with picking up the paper and replacing it in your project slots.   Once her office style and routines were defined, my client was able to share  that “clutter means I am too busy and moving too fast.”    Being definite about your style makes maintenance that much easier!

 What does this office say to you?

Following Through

following through

 

 

Over the last few years, I have realized that we all struggle with finishing things up!  In learning more about this,  I read the book Following Through by Steve Levinson and Pete Greider.   Some really simple concepts emerged from this short read.   The book covers both new perspectives on why we fail to follow through and strategies for us to do so.

Even with the best of intentions, we fail to follow though.  Humans operate on a primitive survival  oriented guidance system.   Whatever squeaks the louded and most, of course gets the attention.   It often operates at cross purposes with intelligence based guidance.  The intelligence based guidance comes from our brains thinking through what we want and how to logically complete a task.  However, we can operate with a coordinated effort by both guidance systems if we make a plan to do so.   As the book states,  ” we don’t have a problem knowing what we want, just following through to do it.”

Two ideas were most valuable in following through on tasks. Personally and professionally, I tapped into both of these concepts.

Compelling reasons  are a critical aspect of follow through.   Make the reason for completioncritical to you and eliminate wiggle room for not completing a task.   Compelling reasons include highly motivating accountability.  Host an early meeting  in your office so you must get your desk in order to start the day.   Plan an anniversary party to clear the clutter in your family room.   Pay an incentive to an assistant to get your work bid out on time.  Each person has different ways and thoughts on what is truly compelling, from financial gain or loss to personal consequences.  Tapping into your personal ideas is what makes the big difference.

Strike while the iron is hot  makes use of our natural high energy to finish a task.  While you are sensing urgency to complete a task do so.  Use your intention to complete to help you finish up.  Levinson and Greider use the example of while you are grateful, write your thank you note right away.  They state “use your intention while your emotions are stirred.”  Acknowledging that inspiration can fade, use it to full advantage while you feel it.   Clear your clutter when you are most agitated and frustrated by it.  Look at your credit card bill and pay it right away.  When you hear a productivity tip you like, use it that day.   Take the action while highly motivated.

If you are struggling with completing tasks, this is the book for you!