Efficient Office Organization

Today we’re talking about an area that most people get overwhelmed in: the office.  Whether you’re paying bills or running a business out of a corner of your bedroom, have a room to yourself or have a corner office at your company location, everyone has challenges with their office space.   This previous blog post shared tips on storage and cleaning up.  Today’s blog post takes some of that information and adds new information to it on how to best use the space you’ve got.

Let’s start by organizing the space you’ve already got.  Visit a Dollar Store or Walmart near you.  They have lots of great baskets, drawer organizers and tools that will help you take better advantage of your drawers.  Don’t have drawers?  A small investment in an organizational cart, seen here for $21, will give you the drawer space, or even extra drawer space to better organize your office.  Once you’ve got your office organized, and everything put away, the next challenge is to keep it this way.  I’ve got 4 tips to help you do exactly that, and save time too!

All of today’s tips center around 1 theme: deal with it as soon as possible and file it away.

First we’re going to approach those drawers again.  If you’ve got stuff you use only once every 2 months in them, put that stuff in a separate area, or extra cart in a closet.  Don’t waste valuable space right near you to be storage for stuff you don’t use frequently.

Second, don’t waste time keeping files near you that you don’t use frequently.  Keep a month’s worth of paper work in a mini file like this and keep the rest in a filing cabinet away from your main office space.  Or, if you don’t have a lot of files, keep only 1 year at a time in this file.

Third, each day when the mail comes, or at another time that is more convenient for you, sort through the mail and other papers that are on your desk.  File them, shred them, read them, reply to them and do your best to deal with them that day.  It will help you to not have built up paper piles on your desk, and it will reduce your procrastination and to-do list, and increase your productivity.  Think of this as your super productive hour of communication.  It’s also a great time to attend to the emails you’ve received that need to be replied to.

Finally, spend a day at the end of each month putting together receipts, bills, client statements and other important tax documents so it’s not such a challenge at the end of the year.  By taking care of it monthly, you’re more likely to remember when things happen, what they’re for and have an easier time recording them.  Then file the receipts away, in the larger filing cabinet or boxes, to be put together at year’s end for taxes.  With a monthly, not yearly, time perspective, you’re able to be more successful, keep better track of your finances, and save hours or even days of time at the end of the year.

What other areas of your office challenge you?  Share your frustrations below.

Talking About Change

Today we’re going to talk about an important topic: talking with your family about change.  It’s important to not just spring changes on either your partner or your children, but to talk about it.  Talking about changes also helps to encourage more frequent communication between all of you, as well as help you communicate more effectively and more honestly.

Who
Everyone.  That’s all there is to it.  For a point of clarification though, see the next point.

What
Well, that depends.  You don’t have to pour, for example, your entire marriage/relationship challenges and problems upon your children, but you do need to talk with them about it.  They have noticed what’s going on and are either making up stories or worrying frequently.  They need to know what’s going on, how it impacts them and what changes are definitely going to happen.  If you’ve got kids who blow things out of proportion, leave out possibilities that are unlikely to happen, or will happen in the future (1.5+ years away).  Encourage them to ask you questions and ask for clarification.  You’re trying to be open with them and treat them with respect, and want them to feel comfortable coming to you with their challenges, uncertainties and concerns.

When
Soon enough that you can all prepare well for the change.  Don’t wait until it’s obvious Mom’s pregnant (3 months before the baby comes) to tell the kids you’re having another baby.  Obviously there are some changes you never get enough time for, like the loss of a job or death of a family member.  But do your best to give ample time for adjustment and conversation.

Where
Someplace neutral.  Don’t put someone in an uncomfortable position or location and then tell them.  Do it someplace you’re both comfortable with and able to talk openly.  Don’t do it over email, or on the phone if at all possible (but doing it those ways are better than not having the conversation at all).

Why
Communicating change is a natural opportunity work through shared experiences together.  Communicating your feelings, thoughts, fears, and ideas about change are important not only for you, but for those who are directly impacted by the changes.  It should bring you closer together as a family.  Regardless of the outcome, being honest and truthful is the best thing you can do for yourself and everyone else.

How
I believe you need to be as honest and truthful as possible. Yes, you should be considerate and try to do it in the most loving and considerate way, but don’t be any less than honest.  For some communication tips, check out this post from Friday.  Also, try to limit your judgments, hate talk or denial.  If the other person immediately goes into judgment or denial, be honest, tell them it hurts, you’re struggling and  you just want to be open and honest about what’s going on.  Usually after the initial shock wears off people will admit they appreciated you being honest with them.

I know it can be scary to be truthful or talk about change that scares you.  But having an open discussi0n, without judgments, will not only make you feel better about the changes, you’ll hopefully have the support and understanding of the important people in your life.  What are your thoughts on talking about change?  Have a success or horror story?  Share your thoughts below!

Healthy for 2011

Today we’re talking about being healthy each day.  I know that there are simple things you can do each day to make better decisions that will help you have a healthier life.  There are 4 main areas, food, exercise, education, and spirit which we’ll be taking a look at and I’ll be offering you some simple ways to be healthier in each area every day.

Food
I love eating and food.  Each week I share about food on my creative blog.  This week’s topics include food for a Super Bowl party!  There are tons of recipes online talking about ways to “lighten up” your food but still keep the great flavor.  Try some of these instead of your usual recipe next time.  There are two simple rules of thumb I encourage you to really try to live by: eat everything in moderation, and stock healthy food in your house.  If it’s there you’ve got fewer reasons to eat something else.

Exercise
Exercise is often a new years resolution for people.  I think that NYR are too easy to let go, so I don’t really believe in them.  However, I do enjoy exercise.  My top 2 exercise guidelines are to not look for parking spaces close to a building (with the exception of late at night or in dangerous areas), and to take the stairs.  By parking farther away, you’ll protect your car from runaway shopping carts, and you’ll get exercise.  Elevators are great, especially for high-rises, but if you have 2-3 flights of stairs, try to do them at least twice every day.

Education
I am not a big fan of the current education system, but I am a fan of learning.  I’ve always been a big reader, my latest books are a Brian Tracy book and a spiritual book.  I think it’s super important to continue to learn and be exposed to new ideas and ways of doing things.  If you stop learning you basically deny yourself opportunities to become greater and grow.  I suggest that you spend at least 30 minutes learning each day.  Whether that’s reading, listening to a seminar or teleseminar,  listening to a (non-fiction) book on tape/cd while driving, do your brain a favor and learn!

Spirit/Joy/Happiness
Whether you’re a spiritual person or not, I’m positive that deep inside each of us there’s something that makes us tick, that gives us the ability to get up each day, that encourages us and is influential with that gut feeling we have sometimes.  I think it’s important to attend to that inner you each day too.  Listen to music that feeds your inner being, do something creative and express yourself, read inspirational books, and take care of yourself so you can care for others.  Spend at least 15-30 minutes each day attending to your inner self.

These thoughts are part of one of my Path Plan Track courses, “10 Daily Habits”.   Click here and scroll down about 2/3 of the page to learn more about my “10 Daily Habits” course and other courses and programs I offer.

Share your thoughts on being healthy below!

Business Blogging

There are tons of ways to market your business, and share your talents and abilities with more people.  I think that blogging is one of the best ways to do marketing for free.  Let’s look at some of the important factors of blogging, as well as some resources that will help you come up with great material to write about every week.

Who
Who should write the blog?  Anyone in company can write the blog for you or you can outsource it.  There are many people and companies who do writing for a living and would be happy to write you a blog or more per week.

What
What should you write?  You should write about your company, and any topics that are relevant to your company. You can always write something seasonal or tie your post to a holiday (search “[month] special days” for a list each month of unique birthdays and special holidays). Other great places to get ideas are from the news, you could poll clients and see what they would like to hear about, check out other blog posts and newsletters, write about hot topics in your company or work sector, and work off your Twitter and Facebook posts for the week.  It’s super easy to write your own blog post from inspiration in someone else’s newsletter or on their social media pages.  I also have several lists of potential topics I can rotate through, each list having about 12 topics.

When
Weekly, at least.  I write on each of my blogs 3 times per week (I enjoy writing).  But if you’re writing at least weekly, you consistently are adding new material for your clients and customers to read and get to know you through.

Where
You can write your blog through your website or write it on a free platform like WordPress.  Either is fine, but make sure you’ve got on your website where your clients and fans can find your blog.  Regardless of where your website is hosted, you should post an update to Twitter and Facebook to let your fans and followers know about the new blog topic.

Why
Blogging is a simple way to tell your clients about who you are as a company, the products you have, and answer some of the client’s concerns and questions.  It doesn’t take technical knowledge and is a great way to be more interactive with your clients (hopefully they’ll share comments) and share great information that makes you more valuable to them.

How
How long is an interesting question.  Your blog post can be anywhere between 250 and 900 words.  I suggest that for the sake of your readers (and your writers) you keep it down to between 250 and 450 words.

I would love to hear your thoughts on blogging and what blogging has done for you or your company.  Share your thoughts below!

January Date Night

Whether it’s a weather thing or just a cold thing, many people want to stay inside in the month of January.  It’s ok to stay in, but don’t neglect that essential relationship time.  Today I’m sharing some ideas for staying at home and enjoying each others company.

#1 rule: send the kids to either a relative’s or agree to do a sleepover with another couple’s kids if they have yours tonight.

Go fondue: from $30 up, you can get a fondue pot on Amazon.com.  Whether you have chocolate, cheese or prepare a wine broth, your night is off to a fun start!

Cook together: visit Foodnetwork.com or another great recipe site and pick out a special recipe you can cook together in the kitchen.

Takeout at home: either order takeout and have them deliver or pick it up and have a tv dinner type night.  Relax, laugh, have fun, take it easy!

Dessert: don’t forget about dessert! Make sundaes, bake cookies or brownies or make another dessert that you both enjoy.

Roast marshmallows: if you’re not lucky enough to have your own fireplace, dig out your grill or chiminea and bundle up! Roasted marshmallows taste wonderful any time of year.

Massage: after you’ve eaten, do a couple’s massage.  This is a relaxing and fun activity that can get the rest of your night going!

Movie: snuggle on the couch and watch a movie.  Popcorn and snacks allowed!

Play a card/board game: whether you’re a poker or monopoly fan, games are a fun way to add some variety to  your date night.

Go to bed early & together: So many couples have different schedules so take this opportunity to not only go to bed early, and get enough rest, but also go to bed together.

In December I shared some ideas for date nights out.  You can check that out here.

What are your favorite date night ideas?  Share them below.

Hope and Change

Change is one of my favorite topics!  I love changing a room, changing my filing system, changing my websites and adjusting to the changes life offers me.  Change is challenging and scary for many though. Everyone knows what change is.  Change is inevitable, never easy, and there will be mistakes as you work through your changes.  I’m not here to depress or worry you though.  Let’s talk about the hope that is found in change.

Change gives us opportunities: maybe you’re struggling with your job and a layoff is the motivation you needed to get a new job or starting a business. Maybe you are at your wit’s end with your family and you start working with a counselor or mediator who helps you all come to an understanding and come up with a plan that helps you all work better together.  Maybe you’re moving to a new place and leaving lots of memories and friends behind, but it gives you the opportunity to essentially start over and build relationships with people who care for you, not the you you used to be.

Change releases you: maybe you’re tired of working for a less than polite boss, and the company gets taken over.  Maybe you’re entering a relationship that is unlike any you’ve had previously.  Maybe you’re starting a blog to express the real you, not the you that shows up at family functions and work.

Change can bring you together: there’s been a lot of not so hopeful situations around the world in the past.  From Roman wars, World Wars, 9/11, tsunamis, flooding, (school) shootings and more.  There is always more hope and strength in the company of friends than there is when you’re trying to do it alone.  I was interested by what President Obama said at the Arizona victims’ memorial this past week.  He said “The hopes of a nation are here tonight.  We mourn with you for the fallen.”  Whether you understand what he was getting at or not, I do believe we can find hope from this situation.  Hope that we will work together to bring about changes that would prevent these types of events from happening, hope that changes in the direction of peace are in the works, hope that even though it may be difficult, we will stick together and support each other through whatever difficult time we face.

What are your hopes about change or lessons have you learned through change?  Maybe change is exactly what your life needs right now.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on change and hope below.

Organizing Emails

Ah the infamous email account.  A constantly a growing pile or group of emails all wanting your attention.  What can you do to better manage and deal with your email?  Well, a lot like papers, take care of it and store it or get rid of it!  Let’s take a look at some tips for dealing with emails.

First and foremost, make folders.  To start it’s ok to be somewhat general (recipes, family stuff, friends, bills, to do etc).  But eventually, the more specific you can get, the easier it will be to find things (breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, drink folders for recipes)

Since just about everyone checks their email daily, file your email daily.  While you’re reading them, if you don’t have to do anything with them immediately (or in the next 2-7 days), file it in an appropriate folder.  I do this with a lot of emails I may want to use with recipes or with inspirational quotes or thoughts.

Once you’ve gotten your folders set up and decided to file your email daily, you may want to have your email program help you with some of the filing.  In most email programs there are filters that will sort your emails into the folders.  Be careful setting up keywords that you know will pre-sort only the mail you want in the folder, or at least get it right 98% of the time.  I only use this to have my seminar reminders and confirmations, as well as Twitter emails, not sent to my inbox, because I don’t need to give them attention every day and don’t need them cluttering up my inbox.

It’s pretty widely suggested that you check your email only 3 or so times  per day.  I typically read through all the emails I have in the morning, check for important things typically around 2 and 5 (I typically will read no more than 5 emails at either of those times), and then sometime at night I will read through the emails I’ve gotten since I read through them all in the morning.  If I’m expecting something, I’ll check more frequently (max once an hour), or make sure it’s being sent to the email that is connected to my phone.

I know it’s great having all this technology, and I do love being able to get my email on my phone.  However.  I have 4 email addresses and rather than them all come to my phone, I’ve only got one.  The others do have important information that I receive each day, but I don’t want to be notified every time I receive a newsletter or news bite.  You can also change whether you’re notified each time you get an email on your phone or not.

Two final thoughts.  Do try to keep it to less than 1 page of  emails in your inbox.  Typically that’s between 25 and 50 emails.  It’s not always easy, but try.  And finally, inevitably you’ll have to clean out your inbox.  I get around to it every 3 months or so.  If you keep on top of filing and addressing emails each day, it won’t take long to do that clean out.

Share your thoughts, challenges and ideas below!

Soup’s On!

January is soup month in the USA, so today we’re celebrating with a bunch of family friendly recipes you can make and eat together!  Those with a * were created with healthier eating in mind.

Roasted Vegetable soup

Italian Wedding soup

French Onion soup

Spanish Chicken and Rice soup

Sweet Potato and Rosemary soup

Butternut Squash soup

Taco soup

Thai Chicken Noodle soup

Maryland Crab soup

Lentil soup

*Black Bean soup

*Salmon chowder

*Cream of Mushroom and Barley soup

*Vegetarian Bean and Barley Vegetable soup

Tomato soup

A large collection of healthier soup recipes from Mayo Clinic

Share your favorite soup recipes below!

Finding Hope

There is hope around, you just have to know where to look for it.  Today I’m sharing some of the ways you can find hope too.

Encouragement & inspiration:

blogs: check out Sean Stephenson, Edward Mills, John Maxwell, LeadingSmart, Laurie Wallin

books (and their authors): Eckhart Tolle, Marci Shimoff, Max Lucado, John Maxwell, Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra

speakers: check local papers and also find free seminars online

newsletters: Mary Morrissey, Leadership Wired, Gloria Burgess

Opportunities:

Start a business full/part time

Post services and creative items on fiverr.com and etsy.com

Post services or search for opportunities on Craigslist

Do freelance consulting

Get online education: maybe you’ll sign up with a online university, or just do your own work and read articles and watch videos that very well may educate you more than a class would.

Look for ways you can help people, and offer your help.  Don’t be afraid to get out there and find people to help!

Talk with friends!  Sitting down and having a cup of tea or coffee around a big table and just putting lots of ideas out there is a great way to not only have new ideas, but also be supported when you take action.

These may be great ideas, but they’re only great if you do anything with them.  What actions will you take to bring hope into your life?  Share thoughts about that, as well as blogs, books, newsletters and other things that inspire you or opportunities you have found below.

ps-I’d love to help you with starting any of the opportunities listed above, or help you come up with ideas for hope in your life.  Visit my Life Turnaround website to get in touch with me 🙂

Business Building for 2011

Is your business ready for 2011?  I’ve got 10 things you should do for your business to be ready for success in 2011.

1-Website updates: have you checked the copyright date at the bottom of your website?  How about your picture or prices, do they need an update?

2-Check your website content: make sure it reflects what you’re doing in 2011 and is up to date with links, technology and ideas.

3-Make a social media plan: get your tweets and Facebook posts planned out for the year to the best of your ability.  Consider other (social media) sites you can add great content to too.

4-Do a newsletter/blog plan: you don’t have to write or make it all now, but plan out your topics.

5-Check your subscriptions:  Make sure the blog/email subscriptions you have are good ones.  Unsubscribe to those which you don’t read or look forward to, and subscribe to new ones you will benefit from.

6-Plan your learning: If you aren’t growing and learning you’re not as helpful.  Write down books and courses you would like to read/attend this year.  Also check out online seminars and teleseminars.

7-Check your ideas/business areas: does it match up with your hopes for 2011 or the vision you’re desiring to share in 2011?

8-Customer service update: make sure customer service is a priority and set up guidelines and extra measures to make sure your clients are well cared for.

9-Check your expenses: plan what you’ll spend money on this year, where you’ll be cutting back and ways to bring in more money.

10-Create a plan for 2011: whether you do it by yourself or hire someone (check out my business success planing session), take the time to actually plan out your year, including desires, hopes, goals and dreams.

I hope you’re ready to make 2011 your best year yet!  Share what you are looking to achieve this year below.