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Author: Geri Chark FrankelDigital Apps Document Management Electronic Organizing Home Office Lists Organizing Productivity Project Management Receipts Tips

Quick and Easy Ways to Let Tech Help You

Photo by Oleg Magni on Unsplash

First, let me confess:  I am NOT what you might call an “Early Adopter” when it comes to technology. 

I need to know that an app/program has been around a long time, is secure and is fast and easy to learn and use.

Here are 5 tech tools that meet those requirements. Use them daily to free up mental clutter, to run on time with appointments and projects, and to help you access information quickly.

  1. Alarms on your smartphone: In the morning, as you review your plan/to do list for the day, set an alarm to ring at the point you need to gather yourself in order to leave on time NOT for an appointment time itself. You can add an additional alarm for when you need to be heading out your door.
  2. Calendar app on your smartphone: As you enter an appointment, meeting, occasion, etc., in your calendar, remember to use both alert options as reminders and set them at appropriate intervals.  For example, if the event is a party or birthday, you may want to set the first alert a week before, to allow yourself time to purchase a card and/or gift. The second alert can be for the morning of the event. 
  3. Evernote: Use it to do a brain dump of your things to do; record receipt; store your vital documents, medications list and other medical records, prepare for tax time, file client/business information, tame recipes, organize your clippings from magazines, and journal.  The possibilities are endless. You can keep photos, video, and audio files in it. This program synchs beautifully across your devices so you have this information at your fingertips.
  4. CamScanner (or Scannable): Snap photos of documents, receipts, clippings and other paperwork/labels et. al.  that you can then save as PDF files. You can send these directly into Google Docs, Dropbox, Evernote, a text message and/or an email etc. 
  5. Contacts:  The minute you get a new person’s details, take a moment and set up a contact!  Add key descriptions to help you locate that newbie at a later date. For example, if a friend tells you about the BEST landscaper in the area, after you enter the person’s name and company,  and mobile number and email address, add “Landscaper Recommended by (friend’s name) in the area where you recorded the company’s name. That way you will still be able to get that information should you forget the company’s actual name.  Use Contacts to enter usernames and passwords for accounts. (NOTE: make sure you have a 6-digit lock on your phone, as 4-digit locks are not secure enough.)

You will enjoy the benefits of a calmer daily routine and the ability to access information speedily if you take a little effort to use one or more of these tech tools!

Author: Geri Chark FrankelClutter Goal Setting Home Organizing Productivity Project Management Time Management Time Management Tips

TOP TIPS for Productivity and Organizing

As the year closes, I am inspired to note some of the TOP Productivity and Organizing Tips that I personally used throughout the year that made the most positive difference in my daily life:
1. Do the hardest task first thing in the morning, before opening emails.
2. Completely clear off your desk area at the end of the day, so that the work space is clean and clear for the start of a new day.
3. Be clear on priorities so that when you feel “pulled in many directions” you can quickly and methodically generate a numbered “to do” list that sets the mind at ease.
4. Compartmentalize: accept that time and energy is limited; define how many hours each category of your life gets and make peace with that.
5. Use a small zip pouch in your purse into which you put receipts and other scraps of paper.
6. Listen, don’t interrupt: so much can happen when you hold a silent space while speaking with a friend, relative, client, co-worker. Getting to understand more deeply can lead to better success/solutions.
7. Set aside tasks that don’t require huge amounts of brain activity (e.g. laundry, opening mail, putting stuff away) to those times of day when good quality mental prowess is at a minimum,
8. Plan the week the Thursday before.
9. Pad your schedule: things take longer than anticipated and the Unexpected always happens. Wiggle room is imperative.
10. And most important: schedule in, as an event in my calendar, time out for self-care! Yup, even purely FUN STUFF!
I’ve made this list, I’ll be checking it twice… and every week to make sure I stay on a productive and healthy path in 2019. Wishing the same and A Happy New Year to All!

Author: Geri Chark FrankelClutter Document Management General Paper Productivity Tips

What TO DO with old TO DO lists

While working with clients on managing their paperwork and filing systems, and/or time management/productivity we often come across very old (meaning over a year) TO DO lists.To Do lists and what to do with them.

Are YOU haunted by these? Know they are out there lurking to challenge and shame you? I AM!!!

Here are some thoughts to guide you as you contemplate your next move against these demons.

Option #1: Look at them

Pros:

  • They can serve as a reminder about some still very important priorities that may have fallen off your daily and weekly planners. Scheduling the tasks back in your life can get you on track to achieve your goals.
  • They can give you a sense of accomplishment when you note what DID get done.
  • They can give you a GOOD LAUGH at the things you thought were urgent.
  • You can see that the world did not end because you were not able to get to a certain project.

Cons:

  • Viewing what did NOT get done can make you feel frustrated or ashamed or angry.
  • You are using time that might be better spent on doing your top 3 high priority tasks as you know them TODAY.

Option #2 Throw them out

Pros:

  • You avoid any negative emotions that might arise
  • You are able to move on from the past and be in the NOW

Cons:

  • You might miss out on a learning opportunity. Insights you might gain include:
    • That there are simply not enough hours in a day/week/month/year to do what we all yearn to do.
    • Accepting the concept of limits can be liberating.
    • Our to do lists are sometimes not in alignment with our core values and/or abilities.
    • We might be trying to prove something to ourselves and/or others and that might not be a good thing.
    • Perhaps we are avoiding confronting something that could stir up uncomfortable thoughts and feeling.

My recommendation:
Take an hour or two off and, armed with a legal pad or journal, bring those lists to a coffee shop/library or other secret hideaway. Review them in a loving, self-accepting way. Jot down any thoughts that arise.
Then, like you would with the old tub of cream cheese that is festering in the back of the frig, growing green and black molds, TOSS the old to do lists out.
Onward to what calls to you NOW!

Author: Geri Chark FrankelClothing Electronic Organizing Estates Organizing Wardrobe Management

From Both Sides Now: I Became The Client

Over the past 3 years, I’ve called three different NAPO colleagues to help me with my own organizing projects.  Each time it was a fantastic experience.  Not only did I get stuff done, I really got an appreciation for what it feels like to be the client AND as a result, I am a better Productivity and Organizing Consultant!  

I hired professional organizers (or PO’s) to help me:

  1. clear out my deceased mother’s apartment in Florida (I live in South Jersey)
  2. with technical issues on my computer
  3. purge my clothing and create new outfits

Here are some key takeaways from these sessions:

  • the PO who helped me in FL was from the area; she knew which charities would come and get all that “brown furniture” and the location of other key resources.  HUGE TIME SAVER! She had also gone through cleaning out after the death of a loved one; her compassion helped me through many emotionally-difficult moments.
  • All three organizers that I hired were supportive and upbeat; it reminded me of this critical element of being a great PO.
  • I needed to talk a bit before plunging into a session; I toe the line between letting a client talk, but needing to gently guide them back to the organizing task at hand. All three organizers understood and implemented this.
  • It is OK that clients want to offer you a refreshment; when I was the client I wanted to feed my PO’s.  I was thrilled when they said yes!  Although I like to decline such offers when I am the PO, I now understand that it is a nice thing to say yes, as long as the session does not turn into an unproductive (as defined by the client) gab session.
  • Things really DO take longer to organize than one might think.   I had unrealistic expectations of what I could get done in one session!  Even as a veteran organizer!
  • I DID tidy up my computer desktop and my closet before each of the PO’s dealing with them arrived, even though I ask my clients to leave things “as is” so I can get a sense of the natural state of affairs before any organizing systems are developed.

tech-organizing

  • During the tech-organizing session, the PO and I discussed my overall business goals.  She encouraged me to join a …join one of NAPO’s Special Interest Groups (SIGs), which I did.  INVALUABLE!
  • I did need that extra “push” from the wardrobe PO.  Example: I knew deep down that many of my clothes did not fit, but SO did not want to deal with that. The PO gently guided me to that conclusion and, one trip to the GAP later, I purchased 3 pairs of pants that fit like a glove. I now have presentable outfits!  She also had me TRY ON new outfits we created, AND I was able to give away items that I knew I needed to but previously had trouble parting with.  Having someone else encouraging these actions was the dealmaker!  We also established some rules for going forward, e.g.  that I must only buy PETITE-sized clothing!

I was thrilled by what I got done:  cleaned out an overwhelming amount of stuff so I could close down my mother’s apartment, became very tech-comfortable, and am feeling stylish and well-dressed like never before.  The gratitude I feel towards these organizers is immense.

I close by urging all PO’s who have never hired another Professional Organizer to do so.  Everyone can improve their productivity and up their level of being organized.  And you’ll have much greater understanding and empathy for your clients!