A short description about your blog
Posted by: Tamara Meyer in Untagged on
Aug 28, 2009
I have decided to change the content in my blog posts to be about tips and techniques for using 3 productivity tools that I recommend to my clients. If you are not familiar with them now, you will be. Some of these tools have been around for a long time, but are under-utilized, and some of these tools are brand new. While I do not work for the companies that make these tools...I highly recommend them to all of my clients. I have evaluated a lot of personal productivity tools, and these are the BEST!
So, if you use these tools already, or if you think you might use them in the future, please subscribe to the updates on this blog. I am not planning to post on a particular schedule, but expect that I will post whenever I have a great tip to share.
Here is a quick overview of each tool. You can learn more about them on my website as well.
iPEP - Interactive Productive Environment Platform is a brand new tool from PBworks (formerly PBwiki) and the Productive Environment Institute. It allow you to manage the physical files in your office along with the electronic information in your life, and the ideas you have floating around in your head. It is an tool combining the best of Web 2.0 technologies with proven office organizing methodology. The best thing about it is that your information is stored online and can be accessed from any device on the Internet, including your smart phone. Wouldn't it be cool to be able to access your entire knowledge-base from your phone? I think that is VERY COOL! There is a project management version of the tool that is perfect for people who need to collaborate on projects. Check out more information on my website at http://www.meyerorganizing.com/index.php/ipep-productivity-tool.
Orla - Orla is an innovative email and time management program that makes life easier for people using Microsoft Outlook. Orla Express is the ideal product for those people who are tired of experiencing their inbox as a kind of never-ending, rolling To Do list offering no sense of order or priority to the work that is contained in their collection of emails. To be successful with Orla, you need to be ready to consider that email is not just about sending, receiving, and filing information. It is also about planning the work you have to complete as a result of all of your emailing activity. You can learn more about Orla at http://www.meyerorganizing.com/index.php/orla.
SwiftFile - The SwiftFile Desktop Filing System is also known as a Daily Tickler. The concept of this simple tool has been around for a long time. It is a simple tool, but one of the most powerful tool that I use for personal productivity. It consists of 31 individual file folders for the days of the month, and 12 file folders for the months of the year. You put items that you need to take action on, in the folder for the day you plan to take action. It is very simple to learn and use, but very powerful for keeping track of the work you need to do. Unfortunately you cannot find these in the office supply stores, but they are available online and I offer them on my website. http://www.meyerorganizing.com/index.php/paper-management.
Posted by: Tamara Meyer in iPEP on
Aug 11, 2009
Over the last few months I have been exploring the new iPEP web-based information management tool. The more I use it, the more I find new uses for it.
I have the Project edition which allows me to create multiple workspaces and invite unlimited guests to collaborate with me. I am not going to go into all of the details on the tool in this article, but I am going to share an interesting use for iPEP that I just discovered.
My newest workspace is called "What to do when I die". I am not being morbid, just prepared. I got this idea while talking to a friend whose brother-in-law was diagnosed with a terminal illness. There are so many details to be shared with family. While I have taken care of the legal matters after my death, I started thinking about all of the other details that the Executor of my estate would need to know.
Because the iPEP is web-based, it can be access by any device with an Internet connection. My Executor, who lives out of state, can access all of the critical details of my life, my home, my possessions, and my children. By giving the key people access to the workspace, they can begin accessing the information from their computer in their home office. For now, all they need to keep track of is their username and password. In the event of my death, they will know just where to go to find all of the information they need.
Who are the guests in my workspace?
* My spouse
* Our Executor
* Appointed Guardian of our Children
Types of information included in this workspace. Of course, this is just a starting place. I'm sure I will have more ideas for information in this workspace.
Do you seem busier than ever, but feel like you can't get anything accomplished?
This problem seems exaggerated by all of these high tech communication tools we use every day. Personally, I struggle with getting my "real work" accomplished while I respond to emails, phone calls, Internet research, and now social media. Even though I know how to manage it, I find it hard to have the discipline needed to spend time working on the "real work" instead of spending time on the "fun stuff". Getting real about the time you spend on all of your daily activities helps you understand how to better manage your time.
How to "Get Real"
* Track the time time you spend each day on ALL of your activities. I recommend an online stopwatch tool (www.online-stopwatch.com). Start and stop the clock when you switch activities. Since it runs in your web browser, keep it open throughout the day.
* Write each activity down in your calendar or on a sheet of paper. At this point, do not change your normal behavior. You need to have a realistic picture of actual time spent, not what you think you should be spending.
* Track how many times you go in and out of email.
Posted by: Tamara Meyer in Untagged on
Jun 11, 2009
Well here it is, summer again. If you are travelling this summer, do you have your travel plans organized? I use a desktop filing system (called a SwiftFile) that contains individual folders for the 12 months and 31 days of the month.
As I make reservations and receive confirmations, I place all of the documentation into my filing system in the folder for my departure date. If you don't use a system like this, make a hanging folder and label it "Upcoming Travel". You can put your documentation in that folder until it is time to go.
When travelling I create a simple travel folder. I take a manila file folder (I recycle these and use them over and over) and I staple the following documents on the right side of the folder.
- Airline receipts, itinerary and electronic boarding passes.
- Hotel confirmation
- Rental car confirmation
- Any other reservation/confirmations
On the other side of the folder I staple an envelope to hold receipts. I slip some cash in small bills into the envelope to use for tips and tolls. If you have other important information that relates to your health, you can include that in the folder as well. I used to carry a list of important phone numbers, but now that I have my cell phone, I usually don't print them out. If you do not keep contact information in your phone, I would suggest making a simple list of neighbors, friends, family, etc. that you might need while you are away from home.
If you plan to send postcards to friends and family, make sure you have their mailing addresses and some stamps. You can put the stamps into your receipt envelope.
I am so excited about a new productivity tool called the Productive Environment Platform or iPEP. It was created by the Productive Environment Institute and PBWorks (formerly PBWiki). The Productive Environment Institute (formerly Paper Tiger Productivity Institute), founded by the "Paper Tiger Lady" Barbara Hemphill, has developed many systems and strategies for office organizing and personal productivity over the years. This collaboration with PBWorks will revolutionize how we store and share information that relates to our physical filing system and our electronic information.
I foresee people relying on iPEPs just like they do cell phones. Personally, I no longer memorize phone numbers because they are all on my cell phone and are searchable in so many different ways. If I was without my phone for even a day, I would feel completely lost. Now that I am putting more and more data into my iPEP, I am relying on it to hold all of the information that passes through my life every day. Eventually, I will be lost without it as well.
What is an iPEP? An iPEP is a completely customizable, web-based information management system. Using Web 2.0 technologies, it becomes a collaboration tool as you can share your information with other people. Because it is web-based, you have access to your information from any device that has an Internet connection. This includes smart phones such as iPhone and Blackberries.
I am finding that the more information I put into my iPEP, the less dependent I am on my laptop. Because I carry my Blackberry with me all of the time, I can pull up my iPEP anytime, anywhere.
Here is how I am using it for my information management.
Greetings from Santa Cruz! I'm back in the office and my head is spinning with all of the new ideas I have from attending the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) annual conference. I was sad to have the conference end, but it is exciting to be back to work on building and improving my consulting business.
Here is the recap of my final day at conference...
My day started with a break out session on creating a lifestyle business. The concepts were based on the Timothy Ferriss book "The 4-Hour Workweek". http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/ One concept that I took away from this session was to consider decreasing the amount of information that comes into my world. I know that I can find the information when I need it, so why do I want to clutter my mind with it constantly. In fact Tim Ferriss says that "a wealthy of information creates a poverty of attention." I left the session with some thought provoking homework. If I had a heart attack and could only work 2 hours per day, what would I work on?. If I had another heart attack and could only work 2 hours per week, what would I work on? That is a big concept if you spend a lot of time working on tasks that keep you busy, but they are not urgent or important. Definitely something to think about.
Greetings from Orlando! Today was the 2nd day of the National Association of Professional Organizers annual conference. It is so exciting to be with 700 other professional organizers! This is the largest organizing conference in the world and all types of organizers come from all over the world.
After the morning general session on how veteran organizers turned their business dreams into reality, I attended 2 technical sessions. The first was on time management and the presenter was Harold Taylor, (http://www.taylorintime.com ) He gave me some new insight on the subject. He talked a lot about the overload that we are experiencing and the speed in which we work and live. He offered several ways to slow down time by adding variety to life, being present in what we do, and creating more meaningful experiences in our lives. I like that advice. It makes so much sense. We are more likely to remember and cherish memorable events than the mundane activities we do day after day.
Posted by: Tamara Meyer in Untagged on
Apr 30, 2009
Greetings from Orlando, FL. I am down here for the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) annual conference. I thought I would share my highlights from each day.
The day started for me with a trip through the exhibit hall. There were many vendors displaying the latest and greatest organizing products. I was particularly impressed with the new Pendaflex Hang Tuff hanging folders. I recommend Pendaflex files to my clients because of their quality and longevity. These new handing folders are even tougher and should hold up better in your filing drawers. I visited many vendors who are offering paperless solutions.
Posted by: Tamara Meyer in Untagged on
Apr 22, 2009
Happy Earth Day! Today is the one day of the year when the 3 R's, Reduce - Reuse - Recycle, are on everyone's mind. Of course there are so many ways to incorporated the 3Rs into your life, and getting organized is one of them.
Many of the organizing supplies you use (file folders, manila folders, envelopes, plastic bins and containers) can be used over and over again. When I work with clients we try to reuse or re-purpose materials that they already have instead of buying new organizing supplies. A great example is the standard green hanging file folders. If you invest in good quality file folders (such as the Pendaflex brand), they can last you a lifetime. I know that I have file folders in my drawer that are at least 25 years old.
And plastic tubs, we all know that they last more than a lifetime. They may be on our planet forever. So why not use them over and over again. Before you start a new organizing project, take a quick inventory of the empty containers you already have before you run off to the store to buy new ones.
Posted by: Tamara Meyer in Untagged on
Apr 9, 2009
Last week I launched my new FREE webinar series "Effective Paper Management Systems" using tools such as the Internet and telephone to deliver my message. While this is a new concept for some, many people are regularly attending webinars. For those of you asking "what is a webinar?", it is basically a seminar that is delivered over the Internet (web). You sit at YOUR computer and watch MY screen and hear MY voice.
I came to the realization that in this current economy I had to get creative about taking my work outside of the geographic area that I live in. I live in a resort town, so often I am driving a fair distance to reach my clients. Not only does this take extra time, it limited the area that I could serve. The technologies that we have available today, really make it possible for me to work with anyone from anywhere.
An article came out this week in the New York Times detailing the author's experience working with a professional organizer to organize her home office. http://tinyurl.com/cqvykk
Of course I love it when anything is published about the work of organizing consultants because it brings awareness to the type of work that we do.
The important message in the article is that organizing your office, setting up systems, and making it an efficient and appealing space to be in, is a personal experience. What will work for one person, may not work for another.
That is why trying to follow advice from books and television shows may work for some and not for others. Many people feel like they fail when they measure the results and compare themselves to others. (You must know that there are a lot of people behind the scenes making the dramatic room make-overs you see on popular organizing television shows.)
Posted by: Tamara Meyer in organizing families on
Mar 20, 2009
"When you do not honor and respect what you own, the lesson you are teaching your children is that they can own whatever they want, but they don't have to be responsible for what they own." - Peter Walsh on the Oprah Winfrey show, Wednesday 3/18/09
I respect Peter Walsh for many reasons, but the thing that really excites me is when he spreads the word that it is "not about the stuff." It is never about the "stuff", but more how the "stuff" affects our lives. I am so glad that the millions of Oprah viewers are hearing that message. It helps raise awareness about the organizing profession and the role professional organizers play in affecting the lives of others. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.
Late last night I finished my email newsletter on the topic of creating simple digital notebooks in Microsoft Word. A digital notebook is a digital "dumping ground" for information. You type notes into it, you cut and paste information from emails or websites, etc. I am not going into all of the details here. You can read more about it in my newsletter at http://tinyurl.com/d2ymxk.
While there are special software programs that are specifically for keeping digital notes and information, I wanted to point out that sometimes the best tools are right at our fingertips already. Sure, the other programs probably do it better, but you must consider the cost, time for installation, learning how to use them, keeping them up-to-date, etc when you decide to bring them into your life. I think we are a society that purchases the latest tool or gadget to accomplish a specific task, before investigating if we already own a tool that will meet our needs.
Alton Brown, the adventurous chef from the Food Network, calls them "uni-taskers" in the cooking world. Objects that perform a single function. Many times, you can find one object that will do multiple tasks. That would be a "multi-tasker.