Posts made in March, 2009

Tech Tip Tuesday: iPhone Applications for Moms

Posted by on Mar 31, 2009 in Easy Organizing, Organizing Products, Product Reviews, Sanity Savers | 3 comments

Tech Tip Tuesday: iPhone Applications for Moms

At the first of this year, I bought an iPhone. I’m so happy with this little device! Since most of the time, my communication with people is less than 140 characters, there’s less of a need to sit at the computer to check email. Also, I can respond a lot more quickly too. While waiting in the carpool line or even at the grocery store.

Most recently, I was at a client’s house, took a 5-minute break and checked email. My editor had contacted me telling me she noticed that my manuscript hadn’t been “coded” with the proper headings and tables and that she would spend the afternoon taking care of it. Fortunately, I was immediately able to email her letting her that I had, in fact, coded the document and to please look for it. A few minutes later, she emailed telling me she found it. That few minutes of communication saved her a few hours of work!

So I had my doubts as to whether I would use the iPhone as much as I do, but I promise you, it has nearly eliminated my physical planner! I can schedule appointments, check Facebook, and even tweet on Twitter! Yes, there was an adjustment period, but well worth riding the learning curve.

As an organizer who focuses on helping moms simplify, I feel compelled to tell you about a few applications that I LOVE and recommend, if you’ve got the iPhone. If not, consider it or something similar. No doubt, other companies have apps for your device.

Here are the FREE iPhone applications I recommend for moms:

  • Twitterific - Standing in line somewhere or waiting in the carpool line and want to stay connected to the Twittersphere? View and post tweets. You can even view someone’s User Information.
  • Facebook - Great for posting a status, checking other people’s status, and retrieving email. You can even Chat or post an entry on your wall.
  • Midomi or Shazam – Do you ever hear a song, want to know what it is, but not have a way to do that? Well, these two free applications allow you to “grab” the song and buy it (if you choose).
  • Grocery Gadget – Make a weekly shopping list or a special list (Thanksgiving). When you begin your shopping trip, Grocery Gadget displays the list and allows you to check off items as you put them into your cart.
  • Flixster – Want to see a movie at the theater? Launch Flixster and view movies by most popular, their rating, or title. You’ll get the title, rating, length and date released. Choose a movie and you can read the movie info, play the trailer, and retrieve showtimes. No need to make a phone call or get your hands dirty on newspaper print. You can also choose your “Favorite Theaters” which is great if you like off-beat movies not in the mainstream.

As I discover more, I will certainly share. The iPhone has given me the mobile flexibility that I’ve wanted and needed for some time.

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SERIES: 5 Simple Steps to Setting & Achieving Goals

Posted by on Mar 28, 2009 in Featured | 0 comments

SERIES: 5 Simple Steps to Setting & Achieving Goals

Get what you want!

In today’s busy world, it’s important to have direction, otherwise it’s too easy to get off track. In order to set achievable goals, first it’s critical to understand your behaviors, habits and relationships. 

In five simple steps, learn how to set and achieve your goals. 

The Five Steps to Setting & Achieving Goals are:

  1. Discovery—Get to know and understand yourself on a more thorough level.
  2. Goals—Formulate an annual goal based on Discovery
  3. Plan—Formulate action steps to achieving your Goal.
  4. Weekly Action—Process of backing into the daily/weekly To Do List in a more deliberate way.
  5. Accountability—Checking in and reporting weekly successes and challenges.
Here’s Step 1: Discovery
The Discovery process is a very personal one. You learn to slow down and take a thorough look at your process. Often times, we become mired in the details and lose sight of the big picture…or worse, we don’t have a big picture plan.

“If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.”
-Laurence J. Peter

The Discovery process is much like decluttering and organizing. In order to make a cluttered room into a peaceful sanctuary, you must analyze the existing space, remove the clutter, and place only the necessary elements in the room to make it what you truly want! The Discovery Process is where we address these issues as they relate to your time and plans. It’s about reviewing your existing schedule, processes and behaviors; removing what doesn’t attribute to where you are headed; and creating new routines and behaviors so you can achieve what you set out to.

Answering these questions also lays the foundation for moving into the subsequent steps. The questions help you identify qualities and characteristics that perhaps you haven’t previously considered and that will move you to the next level in your personal and professional life. Also, it may be that you have convinced yourself that you are following your dream, when in fact you discover that it’s actually someone else’s. OR maybe you have an employee who is sapping your energy and didn’t realize it OR you’re spinning your wheels without considering where you want to be in your business in one year or five years. These things are important. It’s the lightbulb moments where you discover things about yourself–or rediscover, which can be very exciting too.

Here are a few questions from the Discovery process that can help you get started moving forward:

 

Do you live mostly in the past, present or future? Do you get stuck in the “shoulda’s.”
What does this mean? Well, do you regret decisions made and haven’t moved on, or refrain from making a decision out of fear (this is also known as procrastination) or what needs to be accomplished today doesn’t get done because you’re fretting over the what might happen in future. The key is to honestly identify and analyze how you operate. Once you have identified how you function, you can then determine what you need to adjust or change in order to be more effective.

How do you solve a problem? Do you enjoy starting a project, but never seem to finish it? Is research and gathering details your forte? Maybe you’re a visual person and would prefer to compile spreadsheets and a PowerPoint presentation. Knowing and understanding your process—and possibly the processes of the people around you—will help you more efficiently and effectively achieve success in what you set out to do. For example, if you know and understand that you’re a last-minute person who works well under pressure, then instead of berating yourself for not getting started earlier, accept this is how you work. Now if you’re not doing quality work due to this habit, then you need to reassess and try something different.

What is resistance? Where are you resistant? Resistance, as defined by dictionary.com, means the act or power of resisting, opposing, or withstanding. Why is it important to identify what you are resistant to? This could mean the difference between staying stuck in a routine or habit that is not working you, or learning what the resistance is and changing it. This could be a light bulb moment that could have you moving from average to superior performance! So ask yourself these questions as they relate to where you want to be personally and professionally. These questions can open the door to more easily setting and achieving your goals!

STEP TWO: Goals

coming April 6, 2009

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Tough Times, Teaching Opportunity

Posted by on Mar 27, 2009 in Mom Moments, Reduce Your Carbon Footprint, Sanity Savers | 2 comments

You’re feeling the pinch. What are moms doing do cut back?

It’s no surprise that moms everywhere are cutting budgets. The biggest areas that are feeling the cutbacks? Eating out and Travel. Eighty-four % of moms surveyed are no longer eating out, but are opting to make meals at home for a fraction of the cost. Thirty-seven % are no longer taking extravagant family vacations, but opting perhaps for Staycations, where you take time off from work and visit the sites in your own town. Novel idea? Probably not, but one that has become more common due to the economy.

In March of this year, Momcentral.com published a survey of 1,200 moms who told them how they are cutting back during these times of financial uncertainty. The survey was 24 questions that focused on how American families are directly impacted by the current economic recession. So I’m taking this opportunity to highlight some of the teaching opportunities we have when it comes to our kids. Momcentral called these seven point “Key Habits to Learning Fiscal Responsibility.” According to the survey, the majority of Moms surveyed count teaching children and teens to save and make smart purchasing decisions as key elements of fiscal responsibility.

  1. Learn to Save (84%) - Teach your kids to put money in their piggy banks. Use the rule of three to help: One-third in savings, one-third to give away, and one-third for spending.
  2. Working to earn spending money (83%) - Kids are capable of helping, it just take time to teach them. The learning curve can be conquered and you can get assistance. Granted, you’re “paying for help,” but it teaches kids to how to earn versus being “entitled” to a an allowance.
  3. Appreciate the value of a dollar (81%) - Show your kids what things cost. If they are asking for a particular item, show them how to save for it and then assist them with the purchase. This will teach them how to make choices because likely they’ll have to forgo one thing to get another.
  4. Using coupons (80%) – Make it a family challenge to save money next time you go to the grocery store. Make a list and use coupons. Teach the kids that the money saved will go toward family entertainment.
  5. Ways to have fun that are not expensive (75%) – There are plenty of ways to have fun without spending anything. Scour the house for board games that have been pushed to the back of the closet or arts and crafts supplies you have on hand to make collages.
  6. Recycling or donating old items (73%) - This is a great time to declutter and downsize. Kids can choose what they keep and what goes. Again, putting money earned from consigned items toward future purchases or save for a vacation.
  7. Learning to appreciate what you’ve got instead of what you want (71%) – Discover what you already have on hand. Chances are, you’ll find many treasures in the back of your child’s closet by pulling it all out, purging and organizing.

So how do we entertain the family on a budget?

Consider an in-home movie night, save money and create special memories. Turn the lights out, grab a bunch of pillow and camp out on the floor. This is also a great way to reconnect with your family at the start of a weekend. Here’s how you can save money creating an in-home entertainment evening:

In-home movie and pizza
Cost of a movie rental $4.00
Cost of pizza made at home $12.00
Popcorn made at home .75 cents
Drinks $1.50
Total $18.25

Going to the movie theater
Pizza at restaurant before $24.00
Cost of family of 4 movie tickets: $34.00
Popcorn & Drinks @movies $20.00
Total: $ 78.00

Difference $59.75 saved which could fill your gas tank for the week and you’ll likely still have $25 to go towards groceries, which if done well, you could feed your family two to three meals during the week at home.

So take this opportunity to teach your children the value of a dollar, which are skills they can use in the future, even once the economy bounces back.

Additional ways to “find” money in your home:
No-cost solutions to Gain Control over Your Home

For more information about the Momcentral survey: How To Raise Financially Responsible Kids in Uncertain Times Survey, March 2009

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Five No-cost Strategies to Gaining Control of Your Home

Posted by on Mar 16, 2009 in 5-minutes-a-day, Easy Organizing, Sanity Savers, What You Need & Where to Put It | 7 comments

Feeling helpless, hopeless or simply frustrated! Who isn’t in today’s economy. Just heard of another colleagues spouse taking a pay-cut versus a lay-off. Jobs are hard to come by and what used to be an asset for many, is now an albatross. Yes, I’m talking of our beloved real estate investment(s). There is something you can do, however, to feel a little more in control of your own situation, to feel empowered and proactive. Here are some suggestions you can implement today. Get your family members to help. Clear out and clean up!

1. What you can do:
Donate. Other people need help more than ever. Box up clothing, cosmetic samples, extra office supplies, books, and linens. Donate those items to local organizations needing items. For example, a homeless shelter or a tent city if you live in Southern California.

How it will help:
Donating will eliminate items from your own home, make it clearer as to what you have. Only keep what you intend on using. No need to hang on to items just for the sake of hanging on. Sure, you may have spent some money on those items, but having them around will only remind you of the money you spent. Donating the items will help others and you can sleep soundly knowing that you’ve done a good thing.

2. What you can do:
Get a grip. Know what you’ve got. Sift through your attic and basement, taking an inventory of what you have. Eliminate excess, sell items you’ve been meaning to eliminate.

How it will help:
Knowing what you have can ease your stress. Generally, it’s the unknown that we fret about. So get clear on what you own and what you can eliminate before spending more money.

3. What you can do:
Put like items together. Is your office scattered with paper that’s disorganized? Do you have a plethora of office supplies strewn throughout your house? Putting like items together, be it papers in the same category or copy paper and pens in one place will let you see what you actually have on hand. Store supplies separate from items in use. Categorize paper and file Reference papers away, carefully considering what you actually need to keep.

How it will help:
You can see clearly what you have. When like things are together (Group Objects), you can easily assess what you want to keep and what can go (Purge), then give it a home (Assign), decide on what it will live in (Contain), and put the items back where they belong after usage (Keep it up).

4. What you can do:
Shop with a list. Marketers spend thousands of dollars for product placement. You know, the impulse purchases. We don’t know or even intend to buy these items, but somehow they wind up in our cart. Make a list and stick to it! It won’t be easy to begin with, but what new habit is easy at first? You may want to reward yourself for sticking to the list by putting what you’ve saved in a jar at home for a planned, fun purchase later on.

How it will help:
You’ll be more conscious of what you “need” and “want.” It’s always a good idea to ask yourself if you’re trying to satisfy a need or want. By sticking to the list, you’ll be honest with yourself and your budget.

5. What you can do:
Find a new hobby. Is your hobby shopping or something that has a hefty fee attached to it? Try something new. Get together with girlfriends at each other’s houses for a movie night. Make arts and crafts from stuff you have at home. Go to the library for books and movies, then make yourself a coffee drink at home. Be creative and challenge yourself.

How it can help:
You’ll save money, number one. Number two, you can bask in the glory of having tried something new that is a budget buster!

Click here for more information on the GOPACK Method of organizing, the proven method for organizing just about anything.

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Five Simple Steps to Easing Your Stress in Today’s Economy

Posted by on Mar 13, 2009 in Mom Moments, Sanity Savers, What You Need & Where to Put It | 2 comments

We’re all under a lot of stress these days! The economy has everyone tightening up and fearing for their future. Surely everyone’s blood pressure is a little higher than normal. However, there are ways to gain control of your personal situation by taking a few simple steps:

1. Re-establish your personal and professional goals. Now is a great time to reevaluate what you want to accomplish by the end of the year. It may be simply scaling back, cutting expenses. But how will you do that? Write down specific action steps and the steps necessary to get started.
2. Use the time to get organized. A little sorting can help you get clear on what you’re doing. File paperwork and get a jump on gathering paperwork so that this month, you can get your taxes done without filing an extension.
3. Sell stuff. What do I mean? Now is the perfect time to declutter and generate some money by selling items you no longer need or want on ebay or craigslist. You will accomplish two goals: generating extra money and decluttering.
4. Set aside 10 to 15 minutes each morning to get centered. How many of us get up and hit the ground running without giving ourselves time to get centered. Before we know it, we’re checking email and twittering. Setting time aside may seem inconsequential, but could mean the difference between approaching the day in a reactive versus a proactive manner. 

5. Get moving. I’m talking about exercise. There’s nothing like a good run, or walk for that matter, to reduce stress and feel a little better. Pumping up your endorphins ups your “feel good” neurotransmitters, which can lead to an improved mood overall.

Implementing one or all of these strategies can help you gain control of your time and surroundings, which is how you can weather the storm of the the poor economy.
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