2 Favorite Travel Tools

March 2, 2015 11:18 by elizabeth

A friend recently gave me the gift of two of my favorite travel tools: a zippered bag and a list.

PackingListBagShe found this blue zippered pouch by Walker, and knew I would love it. It’s great because it has color, so it stands out in my black purse or black suitcase. It’s mesh so you can see what’s inside, and it is sturdy. I used it on a trip to Florida to hold running gear: my headphones, headband, and my armband cell phone holder.

 

She also gave me a fun book of packing lists. This thorough list covers everything you might need on a trip, from chewing gum to your tuxedo. It includes helpful reminders for key electronic items such as cell phone, headphones, and chargers.

What’s your favorite tool for an organized trip?

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Reduce Unwanted Mail and Phone Calls: Get off the Lists

January 8, 2015 15:16 by elizabeth

IMG_4133I noticed that this past December I got a ton of catalogs, many more than I had ever ordered from. I also seemed to be getting a lot of unsolicited phone calls to my home phone. 

Time to get off the lists, and sign up (again) for the national “do not call” and “do not mail” registries. These lists are only good for 5 years so if you find yourself getting a lot of unwanted mail or calls, it’s probably time to re-register your information.

Here are my favorite resources:

And here's one to try for unwanted email subscriptions: unroll.me.  
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Getting those Nagging Projects off the To Do List

September 8, 2014 12:47 by elizabeth

j0399562I love lists, so of course I have a To Do list. But some projects just seem to sit on the list forever, mocking me to get them done.

I’d read a Real Simple article years ago about an editor’s “Un-procrastination” day where she and a friend set aside a full day and got all their nagging to do projects done. It pops into my head from time to time as I review my list.  So last week I decided that I’d set aside at least a half a day to take care of a few projects I had been putting off. I didn’t have a friend help me out, but did treat my self to an iced chai when everything was done.

Here’s what I got off my list:

  • Washed winter duvet cover at the Laundromat (too big for my washer).
  • Bought a protective cover for my phone from the Sprint store, and recycled four old cell phones.
  • Took a 10 year old video cassette recorder tape to get made into a DVD at Everpresent, since we don’t have the right cable to use the recorder anymore. While cleaning out the basement my husband found the recorder with the tape inside; the tape turned out to be the only video we had of the first days after my daughter was born. I’m thrilled we found and will get to keep these memories. 
  • Started to research options for getting shades made for my kitchen. This project isn’t done, but I did stop by my local fabric store to find out about their pricing for custom window treatments, something I had been putting off for about two years.

“Chunking” errands or projects can be an effective way to get things off your To Do list, as Julie Morgenstern points out in her book Time Management from the Inside Out. This strategy really can work for some people, as a client reminded me last month. I had been helping this client move, and we had made piles for items to go to her storage unit, get donated, go to her office, and get dropped off at neighbors and friends homes. After a week or so the piles were still there, but she assured me they would get done—and they did, all in one day!

What’s your strategy for working on those nagging projects?

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Organizing is a lot like Training for a Race

June 3, 2014 19:09 by elizabeth

Last Spring I started running. I hadn't really run since I was in elementary school, so it was a huge feat for me to complete half a dozen 5K races over the past year.

Organizing is a lot like training for a running race (or any competition):

  • Just start. I was totally out of my comfort zone when I started running, but I signed up for a beginning runner's group. Taking that first step was the hardest but most important. It's the same with your organizing project. It may feel overwhelming, but take that first step: just start.
  • Start small. The new runner training program started by having us run for a minute, and then walk for a minute as a break. That's easy, right? Each week we moved up to running for 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and so on until we were at 10 minutes running with a 1 minute walk break. We started small and made incremental changes over time. This is the same for organizing: pick one spot to re-organize, or one routine to improve, and work on it consistently. Small changes will add up.
  • Schedule it, and make it routine. Run 3-4 times a week-ha! That seemed impossible at first but my trainer gave me a calendar with a suggested schedule. I tried really hard to follow the schedule, even when I'd rather be doing something else. After training regularly for a month, running several times a week with my gals became routine, and even something I looked forward to. You may not ever look forward to organizing, but scheduling time to work on your organizing project-just as you would any other important activity-can help keep you on track. Over time you'll start to build new habits. Picking up each night or putting your clean clothes away in the closet, for example, can become routine.
  • Clarify your goals. Right from the start my trainer wanted to know what my running goals were: I wanted to prove to myself that I could workout regularly and run a 5K. We picked a 5K to be my first race and worked towards it.  Think about what your goals are for your organizing project: do you want to create more space, want to have friends over for a dinner party, or get your kids to pick up their rooms? Keep your goals in mind when you get discouraged or feel overwhelmed with your project.
  • When you get off track (and you will), start again (reset) and keep going.  After running for several months I had a knee problem that required doctor visits and physical therapy. And no running for at least a month! Some mornings I enjoyed sleeping instead of running, but it was also discouraging and frustrating. As my knee improves I'm starting to reset and get back into my healthier routines. It's the same with organizing. When we get off track it can be easy to forget how far we've progressed, and slip back into old habits.  It's inevitable to have some slipping in our progress, but reset yourself and keep on going. This is a good time to remember your goals (see above) and what you are trying to accomplish.

This article first appeared in the Summer 2014 edition of The Neat Sheet newsletter. Sign up here so you don’t miss a Neat Sheet, and read previous editions in the archives.

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Favorite Container #12: The Keyring App

December 16, 2013 20:16 by elizabeth

For the last installment of my year-long Favorite Container series I am highlighting an app that helped me to organize and “contain” my store loyalty cards: Keyring.

In 2010 I wrote about a great card holder for store cards. I got many compliments and queries about the card holder, and for three years it was the perfect old-school solution for me.

But since I’ve got this iPhone, I thought I should explore new ways it can make my life easier. The Keyring app does just that. It’s easy to scan and load your card information on to the app, which then stores the barcode or information. When you are at the store the clerk simply scans the barcode from your phone…and you don’t have to hassle with finding the right store card or sharing your phone number. It also works for storing my library card! The app is available for the iPhone, Android and Windows 7 phones.

What apps have made your life easier this year?

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