Category Archives: Productivity

5 Steps to Going Paperless in 2014

Evernote for iOS icon

I have slowly been making my way towards the paperless office, both at work and at home. It’s been a steady process, but there is still some ways to go. One of the best resources for going paperless is Jamie Todd Rubin, the Evernote Ambassador for Paperless Living.

For those of you who are looking at starting the paperless process —maybe a New Year’s Resolution— Jamie has posted a Primer to Going Paperless in 2014. In the article he gives a roadmap with 5 phases to going paperless.

“There are 5 main phases to the process. If you go through each of the 5 phases, you should at the end, find yourself growing increasingly paperless day-by-day. That said, if you have already completed one or more of the phases, you can use this as a guide as to where you might go next.”

Phase 1: Select your tools

Phase 2: Determine your processes

Phase 3: Organize your notes

Phase 4: Practice good online security

Phase 5: Go mobile

If you’re already an Evernote user, this will help you tie-in your paperless processes to that service. If you’re not using Evernote, why aren’t you? This will show you some of the benefits of using Evernote as a tool for going paperless.

 

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Holiday Time Management Tip – Share the Workload

More Christmas Lights

There’s nothing like a major holiday, such as Christmas, to ratchet up the pressure on your schedule. Parties, concerts, shopping, visiting all add to an already full schedule. While you may find a couple of quiet days around the holiday, the rest of December can be quite stressful.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help:

  • If you’re selected to plan the office Christmas party, put together a group to help you out.
  • Get family members involved in shopping, decorating, baking, etc.
  • Charitable organizations often run gift-wrapping services as a fund raiser. You can save some time and support a worthy cause by getting your gifts wrapped.

Holidays can add the expectation of the personal touch to all that happens. Don’t feel you have to do everything. Ask for help.

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8 Tips to Help You Clean Off Your Desk

  1. Make an appointment – Don’t just hope you find the time to clean up, set a calendar entry and stick to it.
  2. Use the right tools:
    • Set a timer for the length of time you have decided to work on this project.
    • Boxes or storage containers to use for sorting.
    • Garbage/recycling bags or box for shredding.
    • Organizer (paper or electronic) to enter to-dos, addresses or calendar data.
  3. Sort – everything into boxes/containers according to what needs to be done: file, shredrecycle, refer, toss, etc.
  4. Remove everything else – pens, stapler, toys, gadgets, phone, monitor, etc.
  5. Dust and polish – give your desktop a cleaning. This will also reinforce the idea of a “fresh start” for your desktop.
  6. Replace necessary items – The only things you should have on your desktop are those that you use daily.
  7. Process the paper – take the items you sorted into boxes and put them where they belong: filing, your tickler or reading folder or delegate/refer to a more appropriate person, etc.
  8. Take out the trash – get rid of the garbage. Don’t let it sit around the office for a couple of days: shred, recycle or toss.
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10 Christmas Organizing Tips

I know. It’s still September. However, we’re less than three months from Christmas. Getting an early jump on the planning can make a world of difference on how well things go in December.

Have you been a bit stressed during past Christmas‘s? Does it seem like the holidays bring too much to do? By organizing Christmas this year you can help to make this a low-stress holiday. Here are a few tips to get organized for Christmas.

Automate your card list

Enter the information in a spreadsheet. Use separate columns for each item in the address such as first name, last name, street address, city, province and postal code. Use mail merge with your word processor to create address labels. You can also create columns on your spreadsheet to track gift ideas, friends’ children’s names, ages, birthdays, etc.

Have a gift-wrap center

Keep a storage bin for wrapping supplies under your bed or in a closet. Include wrapping paper, scissors, tape, name tags, bows and any other supplies you might need. Do not borrow from these supplies for other areas of your home. If you have to search for a gift-wrap supply each time you need to use it, that’s not organized or easy.

Don’t worry, ask questions

Ask people what they want for gifts. Don’t get stressed trying to guess want when you can ask them. You’re more likely to give them something they really need. To keep the surprise factor, as for a list to chose from or get some general suggestions and surprise them with a specific item.

Shop on-line

I hate shopping in general and gift shopping specifically. Can stand in long lines and go from store to store looking for one with your item in stock; or you can shop online. Often, your favourite brick and mortar store has an on-line version.

You have a choice, go to your doorstep to retrieve the gift and spend the rest of the time drinking eggnog and watching holiday movies,  or you can fight for parking, sweat in line, get frustrated by items not in stock.

Pre-test new recipes

If you’re planning a big holiday party, that’s not the time to test a new recipe. If it doens’t work, you’ll hear about it forever. Test drive a new recipe before the big day.

Ask for help

You’re not Superman or Wonder Woman. If you are, you don’t need to do everything yourself. Delegate a few tasks to willing family members. Perhaps you can swap errands with friends. You will stand in line at the post office if she will pick up your recipe ingredients at the supermarket.

Set a budget

The stress of the holiday season can carry over into January, when the credit card bill arrives. Don’t overspend on gifts, holiday outfits and food purchases. Make a list, check it twice, make sure it fits your budget nice. (Sorry). Watch for the impulse items merchants purposely put in your way in the store.

Have a decorating plan

If you like to set up your decorations the same way each year, don’t leave it to your memory. Write it down, take a photo of it and store in binder. Create a system for putting away the decorations. Why struggle fitting items back in the storage containers when you can follow a plan you know works?

Organizing Christmas will virtually guarantee you have a merry one every year. Then you can focus on enjoying and celebrating your holiday the way you want.

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How to Manage Your Time Effectively

How do you decide which activities get your attention first? That is, how do you decide what you are going to do each day? When you set priorities, do you set them in a way that meets your comfort level or in a way that effectively addresses your objectives?

There is a lot of stuff competing for your time. You need to determine which will receive your attention. Not all tasks and needs are equal and part of your job is to determine those that are most important and demand your attention first.

You need to think through what things you need to do first in order to be truly effective. Managing your time well improves your efficiency, allowing you to maximize the use of your resources.

To manage your time more effectively, try these steps:

  • Make a plan of what you’re going to do tomorrow. Once you know what you want to accomplish, organize tomorrow’s “to-do” list today. When planning your activities, identify each one in terms of how important and how urgent it is. Evaluate them as:
    1. Activities that you must absolutely do yourself.
    2. Activities that you really should do.
    3. Activities that you would like to do but could be done by someone else.
  • Rate your time management process throughout the day. Pause about one third of the way through your day and review how you’re doing. Do the same about two-thirds of the way through your day. Ask yourself these questions:
    • Am I on track to meet the priorities and objectives for the day?
    • If not, what got in the way?
    • If something got in the way, should it have taken priority over what you had planned? Emergencies arise requiring your immediate attention. Your priorities may need to be altered in these situations.
  • Arrange daily and weekly to-do lists in order of priority. If you check off each activity as you complete it, you will feel a far greater sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.
  • Plan your telephone calls ahead of time. That way, you know the items you want to talk about and can spend less time on the phone.
  • Communicate your priorities to your workgroup. By communicating your priorities and how they relate to your objectives, your workgroup will better understand their role in helping you to reach those objectives.

RecommendedThe Zen Habits Handbook for Life!

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Time Management Horse Sense

Donald Wetmore looks at time management from the perspective of a horse race; twice the reward does not generally require twice the effort.

Every horse race has a first place winner and a runner-up, second place contender. It is not uncommon for the first place horse to earn twice the prize as the second place finisher. Curiously, the number one horse did not have to run twice as fast or go twice as far as the competition to get twice the money. It only had to be a nose ahead of the competition to reap twice the rewards.

Five suggestions, when applied, can help us to get a “nose ahead.”

  1. Plan your day
  2. Overplan your day
  3. Work with a clean desk and work environment
  4. Restrict meetings
  5. Handle paper just once

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