Snail Mail 101

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Originally posted 2011-06-20 17:24:42. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Ah, the plague of the daily mail. Kind of like death and taxes, it’s inevitable. Here’s what’s in your mailbox: stuff to

  • delegate
  • read
  • act on
  • file
  • trash

Let’s call it DRAFT for short.

Delegate
This is mail that you can fob off on someone else. If you’re married, you may decide one partner is responsible for paying the bills, so they go in that person’s in box (don’t have an inbox? Get one). Similarly, one of you may be responsible for social engagements and medical appointments.

If you have a business partner but not an office manager, divide up responsibilities. This really helps things not fall through the cracks. Especially things involving money.

Everyone needs an in box.

As above, each partner needs an inbox. When the question of “where did you put that ________?” the answer is always “In your in box.” Not “on your chair.” Not “somewhere on your desk.”

Read
Reading material includes magazines, newspapers, annual reports, tip sheets from the garden center and professional association bulletins. Keep it near where you read. Don’t read? Then stop subscribing to things.

If you don’t know where your “to reads” are, you can’t read them. Pick a spot, like a basket near your bed or a shelf in your living room, to stash it.

Don’t pick too many spots. You want to know where things are and you also need a reality check about how much there is to read. When it’s all in one place, you can clearly see that it’s not humanly possible to read all that stuff.

The rule is that when the basket or shelf is full, you have to get rid of the older publications. Grab a handful from the bottom of the stack and recycle them. Just do it. I know they have fascinating and important information in them, but you don’t have time to read them and keep up with what came in today.

Information is only useful when you can get at it.

An article buried in a months-old magazine is not accessible to you and therefore irrelevant. Just having all that information is not the same as being able to use it. If you can’t use it, it’s just like not having it at all.

Act On
This category includes bills, medical forms to file, an insurance or telephone plan to compare with what you have now, information about a product you intend to buy and a list of activities put on by a group you belong to. Put in your in box anything that requires you to take some action, whether it’s filling out a form, making a call or adding activities to your calendar.

Avoid decisions you don’t really need to make.

Do you really need to get a better phone plan, or would it just be a nice idea to know what’s out there? If it’s the second one, when are you going to take the time to compare plans?

File
Be careful about filing too much. Most people’s file cabinets are neglected paper graveyards. Paper goes in and promptly gets forgotten about and never looked at again.

Things you are keeping that you don’t need to:

  • receipts that are not for tax purposes or under-warranty purchases
  • ATM slips
  • old catalogs
  • paid bills*
  • manuals and documentation for stuff you no longer own; electric toothbrush, car, medical insurance plan

Keep files you refer to near your desk. Get a tray to store file-ables until you’re ready to file them. Files you need to maintain for legal reasons (tax returns, legal documents) are archives and should be kept in a less accessible spot, like the attic or the top shelf in the closet.

Trash
A lot of your mail shouldn’t even come into the house. Your first pass at mail sorting is to weed out the junk mail and recycle or shred it. No brainer recycling: product and service solicitations you’re not interested in, announcements for things you don’t care about, invitations from groups you aren’t joining.

To cut down on unwanted mail, register with the Direct Marketing Association (you can stop junk email here too). Get off catalog lists here.

Whether you shred or not is up to you. Some people don’t want to toss out magazines with their address labels on them. The rule of thumb is to shred anything with personal information such as account numbers, medical and employment info, ATM slips and travel itineraries. Also shred credit card applications.

Shred every day.

It’s boring and tedious and if you let it pile up, you’ll put it off forever (unless you have a six year old; they love to make a racket with the shredder). Also, if you only shred a few things a day, you won’t jam or overheat the thing.

Start Today
Don’t worry about last week’s mail. It’s getting older by the second and, unless it’s a bill, it doesn’t need your immediate attention. Develop your new mail system with today’s mail and you’ll keep on top of things.

Quick Start

  1. Get an inbox
  2. Designate a reading stash spot
  3. Have a tray for to-be-filed documents
  4. Sort your mail over the recycling bin
  5. Shred as you go
  6. Sign up for electronic bills and statements
  7. Get off junk mail lists

*I heartily recommend receiving and paying bills online. You can download PDF copies and keep them on your computer. Pay them through the biller’s website or your bank’s website; both services are generally free. Go even further and sign up for automatic monthly payments for your bills. Then you don’t have to deal with the bill at all.

Nap to Recharge

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Originally posted 2009-07-22 09:46:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Napping A year ago I wrote about the wonderful benefits of power napping. Now, at the Equinox gym in New York, you can take a yoga class that ends with one.

Years ago, when I went regularly to yoga classes, I was surprised that many teachers didn't close their classes with the corpse pose. I learned it as the perfect way to integrate all the benefits of the preceding poses. I think fitness-style yoga teachers and their students avoid poses that don't obviously work the body. Why spend five minutes just lying there when you could be toning your butt a little more?

By the same token, napping still feels like goofing off to most people or an unnecessary luxury to the overworked. But the Equinox class description makes clear that napping "reverses information overload" and puts you in a better state to get back to the office than a lunchtime run does.

It can be challenging to nap at the office, but even a micro nap can help. For early morning college classes, I perfected a technique of resting my chin on one fist and bracing my elbow against the wall so I wouldn't fall off my chair while I napped. Get creative!

Park bench napping from das911s' photostream.

Changing Habits Requires Motivation

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Originally posted 2008-04-25 15:16:23. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Changing habits is hard. It’s easier the more motivated you are to do it. Tip: be honest about what motivates you.

I was riding in my friend’s car the other day and she mentioned that she was trying to keep hLive_fueleff_grapher speed down to 55 mph to maximize fuel efficiency. Her car is a Prius, so she’s really into that kind of thing. I
immediately thought, is the speed the same for all cars? How much could I save? What if I went 5 miles over that? I was planning to research it online when I got home.

But then I remembered that I like to drive fast. I know myself well enough that I might try the 55 mph thing for 15 minutes or so, but then I’d start to feel antsy. Then I’d feel deprived. Then I’d start ratiionalizing and making deals with myself so I could resume my previous habit. And resume it I would.

The point is that I am not motivated enough by saving money to reduce my driving speed. I’m just not. This isn’t about what’s right or wrong or black or white or green. It shouldn’t be about guilt or pleasing others either. If you are sincerely gratified by doing your part to save the earth by driving more slowly, by all means do it. Make sure you feel good about it, though.

Trying to change a habit without sufficient motivation that works for you is a recipe for failure. What have you been trying to change that isn’t happening? See if you can discover a real, honest way to motivate yourself to do it, rather than "I should."

FYI, you can find out more about fuel efficiency here.

Christine Arylo on self love, success and clutter

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Originally posted 2009-06-01 13:35:01. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

COVERmebeforewe
Creating an organized space makes it easier for you to lay your hands on the things you need and helps you be more effective because you now have time for the important stuff. It's also an essential part of taking care of the most valuable person in your life, yourself. Christine Arylo, coach and author of the new book, Choosing ME Before WE, graciously took some time from her book promotion schedule (you can hear her speak on June 2nd at 7pm in Oakland at Great Good Place for Books) to do an interview for my blog.

Christine is also an inspirational catalyst who uses the power of self-love to help people liberate themselves into the life they really want… or as she likes to say “Dare to Live and Love YOU!” 

Clutter Coach:
Sometimes clutter results from not deciding where to put things, or just not spending the time to put them away. It's a common problem. But what if you're using clutter as an excuse not to move forward in your life, or to insulate you from discomfort?

Christine_Chair_Cropped Christine:
The clutter we surround ourselves with is the symptom, it’s not the disease itself. The clutter is the outcome of something deeper going on within ourselves, and often times it’s protecting us from something we don’t want to be with… or it’s slowing us down from actually getting what we really want in life. If you have a clutter filled life, you have to stop and ask yourself, “What is behind this clutter? What is it a symptom of? What inside of me am I not willing to be with or look at?” And then attack that problem. The clutter will clear itself up from there. If you only attack the clutter without addressing the underlying issue, the clutter will just keep coming back.

Clutter Coach:
It can be scary to commit to a goal like getting organized if it's a big shift from where you are now. Who will you be once you're organized? Will you lose your creativity? How do you deal with the identity issues that come up with any major change, no matter how positive?

Christine:
One simple fact: structure actually creates more freedom not less. When you have form and structure in your life – such as getting organized – you create more space and that creates more freedom, not less. And within freedom, you are inherently more yourself, not less.  This lifetime is about letting go of all the ‘stuff’ that isn’t really who we are – fears, society expectations, bad training, ego, obligations, etc. – so that we can be free to be who we really are. If you can keep that perspective, that your life is a series of steps that brings you closer to your truest essence, it’s a lot easier to take each change one step at a time, stopping to integrate what you’ve learned about yourself along the way.

Clutter Coach:
Habits can be ruts we get into that prevent us from seeing what's really going on, or they can be welcome time-savers that allow us to focus on the important stuff. How can we become aware of our habits so we can evaluate them clearly and choose the positive ones?

Christine:
Notice what continually works well and what doesn't. Then look for the patterns that cause those results. That is where you will find your habits. Obviously, if your habits are producing good results, keep doing them. For the habits that create unpleasant or unwanted results, it’s time to create a new habit, so you need to cut a new internal rut. Literally, you have to retrain your brain to act differently, to follow a different pathway. It takes time but if you treat it like building a new muscle, it can be a lot of fun. The following four step process is one that I use with all my clients and with myself:

  1. Awareness:  You see the truth of your behavior and the outcome it produces. You take responsibility and commit to change.
  2. Reflection:  You still do the habit, but afterwards, you look back and say, “Oh, I did that again. Here is what happened. Next time, I would like to do …”
  3. Change in the Moment:  You notice the habit while you are doing it and you interrupt it, choosing instead to do something new.
  4. Integration: The old habit has been replaced with a new habit, and you no longer have to think about it.

Clutter Coach:
How can becoming accepting and loving of ourselves help us battle that sneaky little demon, perfectionism?

Christine:
Success begets success, so when you feel good about yourself you will naturally create more things that result in you feeling good about yourself.  Perfectionism never leads to success, only distress, so it’s a habit you want to give up for sure! You can do that by doing two things. 1. Set realistic expectations for yourself that you can meet. 2. When you meet them, celebrate! The more you acknowledge your small wins the more they will add up to big wins. Before I go to bed each night I actually say out loud at least 5 successes I had that day. It sounds so simple, and it really does make a difference.

Clutter Coach:
What's your personal favorite organizing trick?

Christine:
If it doesn't have a place to go, find it a home. I notice that
whether it’s my email box or my desk, what causes clutter more than
anything are those things that are homeless. So I immediately create a
place for them to go – whether it’s a new email folder on my computer
or in my filing cabinet.

If you find yourself living among clutter, working harder not smarter, or running around like an energizer bunny gone mad, your life is running you, instead of you living it. Don't feel bad, you’re not alone – we’ve been conditioned to live that way. But do be smart and realize that you need to learn some new habits, skills and super powers to deal with the realities of the 21st century. Also be smart enough to find people and resources that can guide you – none of us can do it alone!

About Christine Arylo
A new kind of self-love expert, Christine Arylo, inspirational catalyst, traded in twelve years of creating powerful images for brands like Visa and Gap, to inspire people to bust through their limiting self-images and self-expectations. As an author, speaker, and coach, Arylo is an expert at helping people to get the success and happiness they want by living and loving their most real and wise selves first. She is the author of Choosing ME Before WE, Every Woman’s Guide to Life and Love, and the founder of the international Madly in Love with ME™ movement. She has appeared on national television and syndicated radio shows across the country, and her opinions have been featured in places like the San Francisco Chronicle, Glam.com and Daily Om.

Make a not to do list

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Originally posted 2013-06-13 10:38:18. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

ImageTo do lists are a dime a dozen. I’ll bet you have a dozen hiding somewhere on your desk.

They have important tasks on them, but are also liberally peppered with:

  • things you don’t really have to do
  • things you keep saying you’ll do, but don’t
  • things you have no intention of doing, but think you should
  • things that were a good idea at the time, but have become irrelevant

You get the picture. The problem with having them on your to do list is that they distract you from the real to do’s, the ones that will make you money, advance your career and develop your super powers.

The beauty of a “not to do” list is that you’re allowed to keep it in the back of a drawer in the unlikely event that you’ll want to move something back to the do-able realm. Nothing will be lost. This also stops them from nagging at you.

That’s it! Start now. Hone your to do list into a powerful tool, not a catchall for every idea that comes across your desk.

Staying Organized

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Originally posted 2014-04-24 10:04:53. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

bridge painter by Noah BergerI live in California near the Golden Gate Bridge (which celebrated its 75th birthday last year). To protect it from corrosive sea salt, it needs to be touched up all the time. As long as the ocean winds blow, the bridge will need new paint.

I’m talking about maintenance, my friends.

There’s really no way to get around it. Once you organize your space, you have to maintain it or, like that bridge, it will fall down. Your bridge is everything that supports you and the systems you’ve taken time to create. Treat them well.

There’s no need to dwell on the horrific consequences of lack of maintenance. You may already be familiar with them. Let’s talk about freshening up instead. Get your hard hat and lunch box and climb up with me.

How do you spot the touch-up areas?

The easiest way to do this is determine what is out of place. An organized space means everything has a place. Further, each place should be as easy as possible to put things away in.

Which touch-up areas do you tackle?

On the bridge, they inspect to find out where the most corrosion is and repaint those spots. Clearly they’re not going to paint the entire bridge in a day. You don’t have to either.

Start with the things that will become bigger problems faster; work you need to do now, bills to be paid, important mail to deal with. Once you do that, just start in a spot and work your way around (like continuously painting the bridge one end to the other, which is what I thought they did).

If you get used to the idea that maintenance is a perennial routine, you can relax and know that you’re going to enjoy that fabulous view every day when you climb up your personal Golden Gate Bridge and know you’re keeping it in tip top shape.

Should I Save or Should It Go?

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Originally posted 2008-06-26 10:00:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

People who are collectors love to tell me that things they've held onto for years and years have actually come in handy, so it was worthwhile to keep it. There's often a note of triumph in their voices when they come to the story's punchline, "and I had one!" They assume that I'm against keeping things and they want to head off any suggestions I might have for downsizing.

Elephant
Sometimes, the story is that they decided to get rid of a bunch of stuff that hadn't been used in decades and "the very next day" they needed one of those things. They reluctantly decide it's a big mistake to get rid of anything at all, although they would like to have less clutter. What to do?

I heard a story like the latter one recently and it occurred to me that the storyteller was asking the wrong questions to determine what to keep and what not to keep. He asked himself if he'd used the item in question in the past few years and the answer was no. So, out it went.

But if he had asked, "what will I do if I need this next week and I don't have it?" he would've gotten more helpful answers. Could he borrow one, rent one or buy a new one? Could he farm out the item on long term loan to a friend with the proviso that he could borrow it back as needed? Could he make do somehow with items he did keep? And how would those options feel? If none were acceptable, keeping the item would be the best answer.

The idea is to look into the future ("what will I do?") and not the past ("I haven't used this in years") to make your decision. The future is where you're going to use it (or not).

[White elephant courtesy of Lenny Montana's photostream]

Meditating Improves Concentration

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Originally posted 2009-08-13 15:54:55. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Candles My meditation practice is coming along. I don't do it everyday, but I'm still getting some benefits out of my semi weekly sessions.

One of the benefits is that I'm getting more used to the idea that I will be distracted while I meditate. The goal is not to remove distractions, but to gently set them aside. Thoughts pop into my head and I acknowledge them and release them.

This is really helpful for concentration. When I sit down to write, sometimes I get stressed out when my mind wanders elsewhere and I'm not getting enough words on the page. But when I a) notice more quickly that I've gotten distracted and b) am nicer to myself in disengaging and going back to work, well, the whole day goes better.

You will be distracted. Accept it! The idea is to get past distractions faster so you can get back to what you were doing. 

Candles from LDCross's photostream.

Voicemail, Improved

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Originally posted 2007-10-24 10:30:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Two big reasons I love email:

  • I can send a quick reply or request or, more likely, a whole slew of them. Not that I have anything against conversations, but sometimes I really need to get through a list of to do’s and email is the quickest way to dispatch them.
  • I can send email on my own schedule. I don’t need to worry about interrupting or, worse, waking someone up. I send emails when it’s convenient for me and the addressee responds likewise.

The fly in this ointment is that some of my correspondents really prefer voicemail. But, calling someone means that they might answer and I’ll actually have to talk to them! Yikes!

Besides the above-mentioned reasons, there are other times when I just don’t want to talk. I’m not in a good mood, or I’m concentrating on something else or I’m just not feeling very verbal. Now I have a solution; a fabulous service called Pinger.

I knew there was a way to send a message directly to voicemail with my phone service provider, but only to fellow subscribers. So I looked on the web, knowing there must be something like it that would work no matter who I was calling. And I found Pinger. Bingo.

Pinger provides a way to call someone’s voicemail directly, meaning you don’t even have to wait for the ring, much less listen to someone’s outgoing message (save those precious mobile minutes!). It can be used to send voicemail to a group of people, but it works fine for individual calls too. And you’re not limited to a few sentences as you are with text messaging.

When you sign up with them, you give them your cell phone number, then enter names and numbers for those you want to ping. Then you call into the Pinger number, say the name of the person you want to ping and record your message. Easy peasy. An email confirmation of your message is sent, and you also get an email when your message is picked up.

I’m very happy with this service. And, it’s free! Check out Pinger today!