Put Things in Their Place to Get Organized

One of the oldest organizing adages is often attributed to Ben Franklin, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Whether Ben was the first to say it is debatable, the truth of the saying is not. The single-most important step you can take when organizing is ensuring you have a place to put everything.

Containers organize things by type: pens and pencils, cosmetics, groceries, tools, etc. They keep food fresh. They are effective for document storage and retrieval. They make clean-up easier. From the office to the home, from the boardroom to the bathroom, containers make organizing easy.

Before you run out and stock up on containers, you need a plan. You need to know the types of things you’re going to store, along with size and shape. You can then determine the type of storage option to use:

  • Cabinets
  • Shelves
  • Drawers and dividers
  • Bookcases
  • Magazine racks
  • File cabinets or drawers
  • Baskets
  • Boxes

It’s also helpful to consider the material the container(s) is made of in relation to its use. Wooden file boxes might be impractical for lifting in and out of archive space, while cardboard file boxes might not be sturdy enough for daily use.

Start with a plan

Analysis how you spend your time in the office. List of the tasks you perform there and the functional zones in your office. For example: paperwork, computer work, telephone use and reading. Ideally, these zones should not overlap.

Determine the equipment and material you need for each zone. For example computer work requires a computer and monitor; perhaps a printer or scanner. For paperwork, you will need pen, notebook, etc.

Now, work out how best to assign your office layout to each of the zones. The computer work and paper work could quite easily be side by side or even overlap. Figure out the best arrangement of your office to suit your needs.

You can start organizing your office by keeping the essential items on your desk: your computer, scanner, telephone and in box. First, you need to clean the desk. Clean out each drawer of your desk to increase space for other office supplies. Organize supplies like pens and paper clips in different containers to make them accessible for you whenever you need them.Use trays for organizing papers and storage boxes for your dated files. You may also use a separate drawer for your personal items. For the magazines and catalogs, keep them in magazine boxes.

Sort the Clutter

Go through all the material in your office; or at least, sort through the piles of unorganized material. Ideally, you go through everything. Practically, you may need to get organized in stages. Place boxes on the floor and start sticking items into the boxes. Sort items in a way that makes sense. For example, put filing together, shredding in another box and so on.

Get rid of the old items you no longer need or use: old bills, receipts or other paperwork, outdated software manuals, equipment you’re no longer using or books that you will never read. Recycle those items that can and dispose of those you can’t recycle. Shred confidential papers that don’t need archiving.

Give Every Object a Home

Set up appropriate containers for items. Look at the list above, determine what you need and go to your local office-supply store to stock up.If your space is limited, look up. Many storage options can be mounted on walls or stacked vertically. Also look at space below. Containers can be put available space under furniture or equipment.

Put It Away

Once you’ve gone through you clutter and sorted things into the right containers, assign convenient locations for everything and put everything away. This should be easy if you’ve made the right decisions in advance. Don’t cut corners, you’ll pay a price for that later.

Disorganized people make life difficult by having to always make a decision on where each item should go. Organized people have systems so the correct place for each item is obvious, requiring little thought in processing.

Firefighters talk about “containing” a fire. In the same way, containers can help you control your organization fires.

7 Steps Towards a More Satisfying Life

Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, of the University of California, has conducted considerable research in the area of personal satisfaction. The following seven points summarize her findings.

There’s a lot of common sense wrapped up in these steps. Unfortunately, our calendars and to-do lists often get in the way of common sense. If you find you “can’t get no satisfaction”, try any or all of the following.

1. Count your blessings. One way to do this is with a “gratitude journal” in which you write down three to five things for which you are currently thankful—from the mundane (your peonies are in bloom) to the magnificent (a child’s first steps). Do this once a week, say, on Sunday night. Keep it fresh by varying your entries as much as possible.

2. Practice acts of kindness. These should be both random (let that harried mom go ahead of you in the checkout line) and systematic (bring Sunday supper to an elderly neighbour). Being kind to others, whether friends or strangers, triggers a cascade of positive effects—it makes you feel generous and capable, gives you a greater sense of connection with others and wins you smiles, approval and reciprocated kindness—all happiness boosters.

3. Savour life’s joys. Pay close attention to momentary pleasures and wonders. Focus on the sweetness of a ripe strawberry or the warmth of the sun when you step out from the shade. Some psychologists suggest taking “mental photographs” of pleasurable moments to review in less happy times.

4. Learn to forgive. Let go of anger and resentment by writing a letter of forgiveness to a person who has hurt or wronged you. Inability to forgive is associated with persistent rumination or dwelling on revenge, while forgiving allows you to move on.

5. Invest time and energy in friends and family. Where you live, how much money you make, your job title and even your health have surprisingly small effects on your satisfaction with life. The biggest factor appears to be strong personal relationships.

6. Take care of your body. Getting plenty of sleep, exercising, stretching, smiling and laughing can all enhance your mood in the short term. Practiced regularly, they can help make your daily life more satisfying.

7. Develop strategies for coping with stress and hardships. There is no avoiding hard times. Religious faith has been shown to help people cope, but so do the secular beliefs enshrined in axioms like “This too shall pass” and “That which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” The trick is that you have to believe them.

5 Tips for Efficient PowerPoint Presentations

5 Tips for Efficient PowerPoint Presentations

Creating a PowerPoint presentation requires skill, knowledge and creativity. Here are five tips to help you create an engaging and fun PowerPoint presentation.

Share a story.

All PowerPoint presentations should tell a narrative which includes a beginning, middle and end part. The initial part of the presentation should give a brief introduction of the problem. Try to ask yourself the question—“What are the things that you want to solve today?” Key findings should be presented in the middle portion of the presentation, but these facts should tie back to the main issue that you want to solve. By the end of the presentation, the audience should feel they have learned something and have a good understanding of the solution.

Always remember, less is more.

More often than not, people have this tendency to over-complicate a simple presentation with quirky transitions, too much text or flashy images. Some of these features are unnecessary. Try to make each slide free of clutter, using only a single image to sell an idea.

Branding is the ultimate key.

Create a PowerPoint presentation that will reinforce your brand image. Use the same fonts, logos, and color schemes that you use for the business. Treat a presentation like a marketing or advertising campaign. Don’t skimp.

Take a break.

Based on a research conducted by the University of Tennessee, the average adult’s attention span lasts for 20 minutes. It is best to keep your presentation brief and straight to the point. If you think you’ll use more than 20 minutes, give the audience a minute or two to relax. Steve Jobs often allotted a blank slide as a way for the audience to maintain their focus.

Practice and practice some more.

A wonderful presentation comes down to its speaker’s ability to capture the audience’s attention and keep them focussed on the topic. The best speakers are the one who don’t stare at their notes and don’t read scripts. Try to focus on the main points and let handouts outline the rest. Brilliant speakers don’t convey information; they sell ideas.

Places You can Promote Yourself with Public Speaking

Places You can Promote Yourself with Public Speaking

So, you’ve decided to start giving speeches to promote your product or yourself. You know your subject and you have material ready. Where can you go to speak?

Guess what? There are loads of places looking for someone to speak. The weekly e-mail newsletter from my professional association periodically carries the tagline, “We’re looking for speakers. If you have something to share that you feel would be of benefit to our members, place contact…”

So, where can you speak?
  • Service clubs: Rotary, Kiwanis, etc.
  • Community organizations: Chamber of Commerce, 4H, Junior Achievement, Libraries etc.
  • Professional and trade associations: Realtors, Insurance Agents, etc.
  • Direct sales groups: Amway, Avon, PartyLite, etc.
  • Church groups:
  • Community learning: Community colleges, civic education programs, universities
  • Conferences: Local, Regional, National, etc.
  • Small business: Small businesses generally do not have a big budget for staff development. Speakers can provide employee training for such business.
  • Non-profit organizations: Same as above.
  • Speakers groups: National Speakers Association, Local Speakers Bureau, Toastmasters International, etc.
  • Related industry listings: Association of Meeting Planners, Corporate Meeting Planners, etc.
  • On-line search: Enter “call for speakers” in your favourite search engine.
  • Networking: Word of mouth is the most successful way for meeting planners to find speakers for their events.

Think about your desired audience. Don’t go and speak just anywhere and everywhere. If your speech doesn’t fit the group’s function, they may not be listening to what you’re saying.

Not every speaking opportunity carries a cash payment. Smaller groups and organizations will often provide a meal and a small token thank you gift. Larger groups may give an honorarium and others still will ask you to set your fee. If you do a good job of marketing yourself or a product, you will make money.

Get out and do it. You may not be a brilliant speaker at first, but you’ll be good enough and will improve with practice. You will start enjoying it, and the opportunities and profits will multiply.

Shape Thinking with Experiences that Make You Proud

Do our thoughts shape our lives? Albert Einstein believed so. He said, “The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” James Lane Allen, author of the book “As a Man Thinketh” states, “You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.”

It’s easy for us to focus on the negative parts of our lives. In doing this, we sub-consciously shape our future responses toward the negative. If you want to move in a positive direction, you have to shape your thoughts with positive thoughts. One way you can focus on the positive is to have a pride-experiences list.

List past experiences that are positive for you; things you are proud of, that energize you as you recall them. Include your earliest memories. They can be anything from building a house to drawing a picture or running a race. It only matters how you feel about it. The standard for items on this list is your own pride in feeling, “I did it myself.”

Examples of pride experiences are:
  • Coached my baseball team to a winning season
  • Created an innovative new procedure and trained staff how to use it
  • Designed a go-kart with 2 friends and won first prize in a race
  • Doubled the sales volume in my product area in a two-year period
  • Earned enough money to travel through Europe by holding three part-time jobs
  • Helped solve an important personal problem for an employee or neighbour
  • Initiated a program, product or procedure at my job
  • Learned to swim and dive at age seven
  • Organized and led weekend Girl Guide camping outings
  • Raised $1,000 organizing a raffle for my children’s school
  • Remodelled and redecorated part of my house
  • Set up and ran a summer business that earned enough profit to pay for my school tuition
  • Successfully managed a difficult project to completion
  • Taught myself how to create a web site by studying a how-to book
  • Wrote an innovative database program to help my class manage a research project

This is not merely a mental exercise; write the list on paper or in your mobile device. Refer to the list regularly. In particular, when you feel negative thoughts coming on, pull out the list and remind yourself of the things you have and can accomplish.

7 Things Great Leaders Do

7 Things Great Leaders Do

Once in a while you meet a someone who stands out as a leader. They are more than just charismatic or likeable. You can quickly tell, they think and act and lead differently than most people.

However, people don’t become outstanding leaders overnight. Truly outstanding leaders are made. Through training, experience, self-examination and practice, they learn to nurture, motivate, and inspire.

They learn to truly lead.

Over time, those skills become automatic and reflexive. While great leaders do a tremendous amount of thinking, that thinking happens behind the scenes. In the moment, in the trenches, when people look to them and need them most, they act: swiftly, decisively, and confidently.

Want to become a truly outstanding leader? Work hard to do these seven things well:

1) Build a great team

Leaders must be rigorous in the selection process for getting new people “on the bus”, as Jim Collins puts it, in “Good to Great”. Invest time in evaluating each candidate and make systematic use of at least three evaluation tools (e.g., interviews, references, background, testing, etc.).

When in doubt, do not bring that person on the team. Keep the position vacant—taking on extra work as needed—until you have found the right person. Ensure your company does an exceptional job of retaining the right people to perpetuate good hiring decisions.

2) Offer recognition and praise

Offering praise to your employees is all about recognition. Most workers thrive on feeling appreciated. For an employee, knowing that what they are doing means something to their boss and the business, gives a feeling of worth that can motivate them to improve their work.

The happier your employees, the more engaged and productive they will be. Receiving praise is empowering. It doesn’t cost anything to recognize and praise your staff. However, not giving them credit when and where credit is deserved can cost you big time.

3) Improve constantly

Whatever you’re working toward, it’s important to constantly assess, evaluate and appraise where you are and where you want to be. It’s something you do because you want to be a better leader, not only for your own sake but also for the sake of those who are part of your team and work hard to achieve the vision and goals you set. Great leaders make self-improvement a daily practice.

4) Cross-pollinate

Great leaders know the benefits of working in a variety of departments in the organization. This cross-pollination is a productive development tool, giving organizations a competitive edge. When leaders better understand organizational processes, they can make better decisions. The same applies to staff.

Rather than compartmentalize employees in rigid departments, great leaders mix people from a variety of fields and allow them regular contact. As a result, the employees have a better understanding of the overall operations of the organization. This allows them to apply ideas from as many fields as possible to the problems at hand, just in case something unexpected applies.

5) Delegate

Delegation in leadership not only helps get things done, but it also empowers employees by giving them greater autonomy. No leader can do all things at all times, and delegation is a key tool for boosting team and organizational performance and efficiency. A Gallup study found that companies led by CEOs who were strong at delegating achieved a higher overall growth rate compared to companies whose CEOs delegated less.

Great leadership has many components, and delegation is an important factor for maximizing employee contributions and increasing productivity among all members of a team.

6) Share Information

Communication is a core leadership function. Effective communication and effective leadership are closely intertwined. Leaders need to be skilled communicators in countless relationships at the organizational level, in communities and groups, and sometimes on a global scale.

You need to think with clarity, express ideas, and share information with your team. You must learn to handle the rapid flows of information within the organization, and among customers, partners, and other stakeholders and influencers.

7) Create a Vision

“In order to take the organization to the highest possible level, leaders must engage their people with a compelling and tangible vision.” ~Warren Bennis

Leadership vision is essential for focusing attention on what matters most; on becoming the kind of leader you wish to be. An effective vision has to be rooted in your past, address the future, and deal with today’s realities. It represents who you are and what you stand for. It inspires you, and the people whose commitment you need, to act to make constructive change towards a future you all want to see.

A visionary leader who clearly and passionately communicates his or her vision can motivate employees to act with passion and purpose, thereby ensuring that everyone is working toward a common goal. The end result is that everyone contributes to the organization’s forward momentum.