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Myths abound in the organising world. Don’t let yourself fall for these five common tales:
- Sticking to a rigid meal plan for the whole week will save time. What if you’ve planned a 5-course meal on Wednesday then have an emergency orthodontist appointment at 4:00pm? Generally a meal plan will save time but keep the ingredients for a few healthy, easy-to-prepare meals in your pantry at all times. This way, you can eat what you want, when you want.
- I only need to touch it once when I am organising something. Many jobs may have to be broken down into smaller tasks (divide and conquer) so they are not so overwhelming. For example, if you have lots of photos that need to be organised, the first step might be to separate them by year into boxes. Step two would be sorting within each box. You’re going to touch things more than once.
- Using the latest technology will save time. This may be true if you’re a techno-wiz, but it does take time to learn the new technology and new gadgets can be expensive. Ask yourself if you are willing to invest the time and money in a product so it can actually help you.
- Organising is easy and I can do it myself. While you may be able to clear some of your clutter yourself, you may have too much emotional attachment to your own belongings and may need someone with no biases to help you. I often ask my sister for help with my wardrobe or else I would still be wearing the clothes I had in high school. Many people work better with accountability partners.
- My house should look like the ones in the magazines. The homes in magazines are staged for pictures. Life is never picture perfect. Daily living is messy and over the course of a day it’s not going to look like a museum installation.
ICYMI: An uncluttered and time-saving HP four-in-one color printer, scanner, fax machine, and photocopier for the office available at Staples
The following is a sponsored post from Staples about a product we support. We’ve been aggressively testing this product and the review is based on our first-hand experiences. We agreed to work with Staples because they sell so many different products in their stores, and our arrangement with them allows us to review products we use and have no hesitation recommending to our readers. Again, these infrequent sponsored posts help us continue to provide quality content to our audience.
Back in July, we wrote a review about the HP Officejet Pro X576dw exclusively available at Staples. We’ve continued to use it daily in our office, and we continue to be impressed by its speed and quality.
As a reminder, the HP Officejet Pro X576dw is $799.99 and is intended for active use by small- and medium-size businesses. It’s wireless, so everyone in the office can use the same machine. This means instead of buying each employee a scanner and printer, you can save your company a good amount of money with a shared device. Being wireless, it also means you can store it anywhere that is convenient for all of your employees. The color quality is top notch and we also appreciate it’s special features, like being able to print postage with it through Stamps.com.
Exact product specifications and more technical information on the complete HP Officejet Pro X Series can be found on Staples’ website.
We’ll celebrate Valentine’s Day in two days. Haven’t bought your loved ones anything yet? Don’t panic. OK, maybe a little panic. You’ve got 48 hours! The following are some nice gift ideas that will express your feelings and keep you out of the dog house, all without creating a pile of clutter that must be dealt with at some point:
- Create an unexpected playlist. Many Gen-X’ers out there remember the labor-intensive, excruciating process of creating a mix tape for a loved one. The careful selection of exactly the right songs, placed in precisely the proper order to create a crescendo of meaning and feeling. Only the right mix of sentiment, fun, humor, and truth would do. And it all had to fit perfectly on a 60-minute cassette. The harder you worked, the more your recipient meant to you.
Today, the process is less labor intensive (raise your hand if you remember holding a tape recorder up to the radio to capture a song), but just as meaningful. If your loved one has an Mp3 player like an iPod, sneak into his or her iTunes account and create a playlist of songs that speak to your relationship. Give it a fun name and sync the results to her device. Her commute to work, etc. just got that much more pleasant.
- Get the car detailed. My wife did this for me last year and I was elated. I keep my car tidy but I can’t get it anywhere near as nice-looking as a well-equipped professional can. Some detailers will even travel to you for on-site cleaning. While the kids did eventually track sand and Goldfish crackers into the car again, it was a nice few weeks before they did and extremely appreciated.
- Gather favorite photos. I admit that I still like looking at paper photos more than their digital counterparts. Holding a picture in my hand is nicer than sitting in front of a screen or even holding a tablet or a smartphone. That might be a function of my age, but I suspect some of you feel that, too. It’s also nice to browse a well-ordered album, and there are several companies that produce great-looking photo books. Shutterfly does a great job, as does Apple, if you use its iPhoto software. I’ve ordered several photo books from Apple and they look great.
- Get a landscaping consultation. I love “fiddling in the yard” as I call it but I’ll admit that I don’t really know what I’m doing. Last summer, I spent about an hour talking with some folks at a local nursery and learned so much. Most landscaping companies offer free consultations, so consider that if your better half enjoys gardening or landscaping. Also, check with local colleges, universities, or adult education organizations for classes in landscaping or really anything that will encourage an interest or hobby.
- Re-live a first date. In 1986, I took my very first date to see Jumpin’ Jack Flash. I’m not eager to see that movie again, but I suspect it’d bring back some pleasant memories if I did. It’d be great fun to take your significant other back to the restaurant, theatre, hot dog stand (etc.) that marked the beginning of your relationship.
- Digitize home movies. This one will take some planning, but it’ll be worth it. Many people have boxes of 8mm movies sitting around or old VHS tapes. The simplest method of digitizing them is to set up the projector (many rental stores will have one if you don’t) and a digital camera. Roll the film, record with your digital camera and then import it into your computer.
When recording, keep these tips in mind. Make sure the room is as dark as possible. Position your digital camera on a tripod and keep it as close to the reel-to-reel projector as possible, so that the angle is nearly identical. Zoom into the projected image as closely as possible. Finally, manually set the camera’s focus, as the auto focus could have trouble in this scenario.
Happy (early) Valentine’s Day!
A friend recently reposted the following job listing on his Facebook wall, hoping his friends would refer qualified candidates for the position:
Government affairs firm seeks administrative/executive assistant for firm’s Senior Partner. Main responsibilities will include organizing travel and schedule for Senior Partner, managing correspondence on his behalf, and other as-needed tasks at his request. Other responsibilities will be related to office management and will involve simple bookkeeping. The ideal candidate will be detail-oriented with strong communication and computer skills. Knowledge of Capitol Hill preferable. Spanish fluency required. Please send cover letter and resume to…
As I read through the post, several names immediately came to mind…at least until I made my way to the penultimate sentence which indicated the position required fluency in Spanish. That job requirement obviously restricts the pool of qualified applicants considerably.
Imagine the amount of time collectively wasted by thousands of non-Spanish-speaking job seekers reading almost the entire listing before realizing they were unqualified for the position.
If the person who wrote the listing had included any non-negotiable requirements in the first or second sentence, then it would have given any unqualified job seekers an immediate cue that they could stop and skip directly to the next post. Here is how a revised listing might have read:
Government affairs firm seeks administrative/executive assistant fluent in Spanish for firm’s Senior Partner. Main responsibilities will include organizing travel and schedule for Senior Partner, managing correspondence on his behalf, and other as-needed tasks at his request. Other responsibilities will be related to office management and will involve simple bookkeeping. The ideal candidate will be detail-oriented with strong communication and computer skills. Knowledge of Capitol Hill preferable. Please send cover letter and resume to…
By front-loading important information — whatever it may be — you show respect for other people’s time by giving them the ability to make an early exit. Unless you’re M. Night Shyamalan, this principle can probably be applied to all your writing. It can also be applied to voicemails, where if the person didn’t get your telephone number upon first listen he can go back and only listen to the first few seconds of it again to retrieve what he needs.