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!

Declutter Your Reading List

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Originally posted 2010-11-10 15:55:18. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Cover design2 It's book chapter Wednesday. Here you go! Like it? You can buy the ebook here.

Simple Way #9

Reading List

Reading material constitutes a lot of the paper that people struggle with. If you get two daily newspapers, a few weekly magazines and 5-6 monthly publications, your reading pile gets high very quickly. Clipping articles for later is a good strategy, but it’s also time consuming and recommended only for important information you can’t get elsewhere or will use immediately.

Keep your paper stacks under control by making sure you allow time to read all that you subscribe to and when you can’t, that you get rid of back issues to make room for the new ones. This requires being honest about how much time you can and will devote to reading. Newspapers and news magazines should be the first to go because they become obsolete so quickly.

Right now:
If you still have yesterday’s newspaper or last week’s magazines, put them in the recycling now.

 

Are you Doing Important Stuff, or Just Urgent Stuff?

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Originally posted 2009-10-15 17:28:56. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Urgent sounds important, but it's really not. It may be important to someone else, but your involvement is often just a waste of time. Tasks that are urgent require you to act quickly and that means you don't spend time thinking about whether you should do them. They're also often the result of poor planning (or no planning) and bad time management.

Slide1 The words urgent and important are borrowed from Stephen Covey's four-quadrant division of work. As you might guess, people often find themselves stuck doing mostly Quadrant 1 and 3 tasks, just because they have a deadline and someone else is waiting for them. You can't completely avoid these, but at least make sure you minimize Quadrant 3 tasks, which are things like pointless meetings, requests for information, most email, many phone calls.

As for Quadrant 4, obvy, stay away from time wasters. A certain amount of brain shut-down time can help you be more productive; just don't get carried away.

The most important area to spend time in is Quadrant 2. Why is this so hard? One reason is that sometimes these projects are only important to you. That means no one is waiting for it; there's no outside accountability.

To make progress on important projects, you need to value them enough to carve out time in your schedule to work on them. You are not going to find spare time to devote to them. Look for time in your week that's not quite as busy as the rest of the week and block it out for personal project work. That means actually write or type it into your datebook at a specific time on a specific day.

Ultimately, these are the projects that will bring you the most satisfaction and pride of accomplishment. Not all the fire drills and all-nighters that seemed important at the time. Start today on honoring the commitments you make to yourself.

Natural Organizing

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Originally posted 2011-05-03 13:55:30. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

You aren’t a cookie cut from a generic mold (even though you’re sweet). You deserve more than a cookie cutter approach to organizing. Methods you’ve read about in books may partially work, or not work at all. Or they’ll work for awhile but then something happens to make them stop working.

That’s why it’s so important to have your own personalized system.

Your system doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. It doesn’t even have to look like a system to anyone else. What matters is that it works and its flexible (to accommodate your expanding, changing life). It has to be simple enough that if you drop it for awhile you can pick it up again without much grief.

Mainly, your organizing system has to suit who you are and what your life is like, today.

That’s why I emphasize awareness and intentionality. You know things about yourself, like, you’d rather have things on a shelf than in a drawer. Here’s an example, featuring multiple calendars. Here’s another one, from me.

I’ve tried on several occasions to use online or computer task lists and I never stick to it. I revert to small pads of paper that I keep next to my computer. That works fine for me. Although I’m on the computer all day, having the task list on there just never felt natural to me. My hand was always reaching for a pen.

My system is not terribly tidy or photogenic.

It’s a cycle of writing down notes and to-do’s and then putting the notes somewhere for safekeeping (in Evernote, usually. So, yes, I do type them) and rewriting my to do lists by hand as things get done or just dumped off the list.

There’s rarely a time when you’d look at my desk and say, “my, how organized!” That’s because I just got off a call and have a page of notes, or I haven’t crossed off enough items to decide it’s time to rewrite my list.

It’s always in progress. Always.

Why does this work for me?

  • I like a to do list I can see all the time. I don’t want to navigate to a new window to view it. That bugs me.
  • I can easily experiment with new formats and schemes, such as making categorized lists, drawing different bullet shapes, or drawing boxes around tasks to highlight them. All these things can be done instantly with paper and pen.
  • I can stuff a list in my pocket and go out and do errands without synchronizing anything.
  • I can spread out multiple pages on my desk and compare them and reorder them effortlessly.

This is just one example of how I discovered a hybrid system that works for me, based on my reading, client experience and, mostly, self awareness. There’s no reason to use a system just because a book says so, or you paid money for it.

Want help discovering how to organize your time and your stuff in ways that feel natural and are easy and satisfying to use? I’m thinking up a way to offer you a free sample of this, so stay tuned! Or, ahem, go to the Hire Me page.

Computer Cord Organizer

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Originally posted 2014-01-21 12:12:59. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The MOS organizer is a beautiful thing. I’m guessing its designers are Apple fans because the packaging is equally beautiful and clever; the device sits in a drawer in its box and you pull an orange ribbon tab to slide it open.

I love it when office supplies are fun and nice to look at. No one should have to put up with dull, strictly utilitarian stuff at home or at work. This little gizmo has a very pleasing round edged shape and comes in a matte finish aluminum that complements my Macbook.

The MOS solves a problem I didn’t realize I had until I saw what it does. Now I realize how annoying it’s been to reach blindly around the floor under my desk for my laptop power cord or phone charger. It holds the cords with a strong magnet, so I can pop some paper clips on there too, if I want.

The company is running a Kickstarter program for their next product, a superior audio cable paired with a smaller version of the MOS, the Menos (nice play on the words “mas” (the MOS) and “menos” for you Spanish speakers). Judging from the quality, utility and beauty of the current product, the new additions will be terrific.

In the Kickstarter video, they say they’re waging a war against car clutter. Gotta love that!

You can read about the newbies and pledge money here: MOS Spring and MOS Menos. The campaign ends Saturday, so hop on over.

Time Management is You Management

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Originally posted 2008-06-27 15:20:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Here are some helpful hints from Jan Hayner for managing your time, courtesy of the Clutter Control Freak Blog (sponsored by Stacks and Stacks, which has some fab organizing products).
Time mgmt pie

These hints are especially helpful for those of you who have a hard time saying no. This means scheduling things during lunch so that you have no break time (not to mention no lunch) and otherwise feeling compelled to fill up your entire schedule with requests from others.

Remind yourself that others need not be in charge of your schedule. Even if it seems that they do, it never hurts to ask, “Can we meet at 10 instead of 3 pm? That would work better for me.” Or “I’ve got 45 minutes Tuesday afternoon. If that’s not enough time, can we schedule it for later in the week?” Controlling your time doesn’t mean being self-centered and rigid.

Kipple is Clutter

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Originally posted 2007-02-26 17:50:04. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

“Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers or yesterday’s homeopape. When nobody’s around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you go to bed leaving any kipple around your apartment, when you wake up the next morning there’s twice as much of it. It always gets more and more.”
“I see.”
“There’s the First Law of Kipple, ‘Kipple drives out nonkipple.’ Like Gresham’s law about bad money. And in these apartments there’s been nobody there to fight the kipple.
“So it has taken over completely. Now I understand.”
“Your place, here, this apartment you’ve picked—it’s too kipple-ized to live in. We can roll the kipple-factor back; we can do like I said, raid the other apartments. But—”
“But what?”
“We can’t win.”
“Why not?”
“No one can win against kipple, except temporarily and maybe in one spot, like in my apartment I’ve sort of created a stasis between the pressure of kipple and nonkipple, for the time being. But eventually I’ll die or go away, and then the kipple will again take over. It’s a universal principle operating throughout the universe; the entire universe is moving toward a final state of total, absolute kippleization.”

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Sort of a bleak picture, isn’t it? Kipple is the same thing as clutter. And it’s true, clutter will take over if you let it.

But kipple only increases if you leave it lying around. That’s the key. If you don’t leave it lying around, you can keep it in check.

Kipple is also defined as useless objects, or things that have outlived their usefulness. A very good habit to develop is to get rid of something the moment it loses its usefulness. When you finish reading the paper, or even a section of it, toss it in the recycling. When you open a bottle, put the cap in the trash. When you open mail, throw out the envelopes and any other useless mailers they contain.

It’s amazing how much kipple is produced by not taking an action the moment you’ve decided it’s necessary. Start taking action today.

The Seven Deadly Organizing Sins: Wrath

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Originally posted 2009-11-05 12:37:02. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Mad as hell This is Sin #5 on the list, which also includes lust, gluttony, greed and sloth. Wrath, or anger, is sinful because it’s destructive. It can harm others and it can harm you as well.

Here’s a scenario: Overwhelmed Olivia decides to beat clutter once and for all. She buys an organizing book and sets aside a weekend. By Sunday night, she’s only on the third cabinet and she feels frustrated. Then she gets mad; mad at the book, which she throws behind the bed, and mad at herself for not being able to get this project done.

Her anger really comes from trying to achieve a goal with an impossible timeline. Even if you’ve got a team of people dragging all your stuff into the driveway for you to make rapid fire decisions on, you’re still not going to finish in a weekend.

Olivia’s goal also may not be realistic because of other time and energy commitments. She’s bound to feel angry if she never has a spare hour to go through that back closet.

To avoid sin: Be kind to yourself. Know that you are doing your best and that perfectionism is your enemy. Do no compare yourself to others, especially people on TV shows! You have your own unique talents, energy levels, working styles and preferences.

Organize your bedroom

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magazine organizing basketWouldn’t it be delightful to walk into a serene, welcoming bedroom after a hard day’s work? It would invite you to relax and nothing else; nothing to put away, nothing to distract you from chilling out.

The way it is now:

The bed is unmade, clothes are slung over chairs and doorknobs, newspapers and magazine are on the floor, the bureau and nightstand are littered with stuff. People, this is not a room conducive to relaxation!

The good news:

I’m going to give you three quick and dirty tips to get that fancy hotel room feel in your bedroom. This isn’t the full-on, let’s organize overhaul I’d do for a client; you don’t have time for that. It’s just a way to experience how terrific it feels to be in an organized bedroom.

  1. Make the bed! The bed is the biggest piece of furniture in the room. If it’s disheveled, the entire bedroom looks disheveled. If you do only one thing, do this.Simplify your bed making by using a thick quilt or comforter that you can just twitch into place. Warm Things on College Avenue in Oakland always has great deals on comforters and covers.
  2. Hang the clothes. Getting dressed in the morning can be a challenge. To keep cast off clothing under control, install hooks on the back of the closet door, or inside wall. Get big ones, so you can hang a lot on there till you’ve got time to put them properly on hangers.Bonus: get another hamper for your closet if it’s too much trouble to take dirty clothes to your main hamper.
  3. Ditch the paper. Ideally, you want to round up all the newspapers and stick them in the recycling (instead of fooling yourself that you’re going to have time to read them later). Station a big, decorative basket near your bedroom door for that purpose. If you can’t bear to throw them all out, get another container for next to the bed, not on top of the nightstand.Containerizing is one of your best weapons against clutter. Check out local favorite Cost Plus near Jack London Square for baskets galore.

Greatest Hits

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Originally posted 2009-11-12 17:21:55. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Greatest hits Sentimental clutter is hard to get rid of. The watch, the birthday card and the piano all bring back memories of people we loved and good times we had. Throwing those things away seems like an affront, a cold detachment from our feelings. However, if you kept (or are keeping) every nostalgia-inducing item, you'll run out of room for anything else.

Try this. Get all that stuff together either physically or on a list. Categorize it by type (letters and cards, furniture, jewelry, dishware, etc.). In each category, pick the best one or two. By best I mean the most meaningful, most beautiful, most pleasurable ones. The rest you give away, donate or toss out. You're creating a "greatest hits" collection.

The beauty of this is that it not only winnows down your collection, but it concentrates it. Say you only have your grandma's engagement ring and not her flower pots, old slippers, dining table, teacups, wall clock, set of quilting magazines, closetful of fabric and painting of a cow.

That ring is eight times more precious. That ring is the pure, distilled essence of your feelings. Don't dilute your memories by spreading them all over the place.

Greatest Hits from wrestlingentropy's photostream