The kitchen is the
de facto command center for many homes. Whether you work at home, commute from
home or stay-at-home, managing the paperwork and information flow of life
requires a centralized strategy. Where better than the heart of the home?
That Was Easy
Organizing a kitchen
office doesn't have to be hard and having one will make life easy. Very easy.
The kitchen is a magnet for paperwork, bills, car keys, prescriptions,
invitations and to-do lists. Corralling these items is a must.
Capture items in
daily use that can't be filed away in your kitchen
A command center doesn't need to be the permanent filing solution we've discussed in other blog
posts. Rather, a kitchen command center is a communications hub handling
incoming and outgoing information needing immediate action on a day-to-day
the following useful items:
Set up your command center to enable family members to walk
in, unload crucial papers and items and have them at their fingertips when next
ready to leave. For more how-to and real life inspiration read The Ultimate Family Command Center. It targets busy moms and harried
home business owners. If they can do it, you can do it.
Command Center Plus
With location independent workers increasingly telecommuting or
freelancing from home, kitchen command centers often need to do double-duty as
an office. In our blog post Tips for Setting Up Your
Home Office we outline basic home office
needs. Home-makeover web site HGTV.com offers tips for optimizing kitchen work
space in Fit Functional Office Space in the Kitchen. Finally, enjoy the eye-candy inspiration of
fabulous and functional kitchen office spaces at Better Homes and Gardens Kitchen Workstation Ideas.
What tools help your
kitchen command center run seamlessly? Do you have pictures of your kitchen
home office to share? Post your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's
Facebook and Twitter
by Carly Fadako
When a team's
members work in Bombay and Boston, creating a high-functioning unit is a
challenge. Navigating diverse cultural expectations and work styles is one
hurdle. The logistics of working across time zones is another.
teams wanting to optimize performance and communications can use technology and
schedules that minimize the divide of separate locales and time zones. They can
also work towards alignment, or common ground, in three critical areas outlined
by management consultant expert Howard M. Guttman in Are Your Global Team Members Miles Apart?
To transcend the limits of
culture and geography, teams need to align, or achieve commonality, in three
key areas. They are:
must agree on strategy and goals, rather than merely giving the appearance of
agreeing. Develop clear, written, mutually agreed upon terms, and then stick to
Overlapping roles and territorial disputes
undermine productivity. Take time to clarify roles both verbally and in written
form; formally articulating roles helps identify misunderstandings or
Clear decision making processes
are crucial. Teams should agree on rules for decision making (i.e. will
decisions be made unilaterally, consultatively or by consensus). Consider
grouping decisions into categories and designate a decision maker for each
(i.e. staffing, budget, marketing, decisions related to new product launches,
etc.). Finally, ban second-guessing or attempts to circumvent set decisions.
members need to pay attention to the logistics of communications as much as the
message communicated. When "what time is it anyway?" has vastly different
answers, it's time to tackle the time zone gap.
Tools to bridge the time
zone divide include:
meetings so the less desirable times (very early or late) rotate across
locales. Cross train team members so that key functions reside in all locales.
No one wants to be rousted from bed or called on a weekend for crucial
the upside of the global nature of your team. When the sun never sets on your
workforce, problems can be tackled in one location, while team members in
another head home for the night.
Do you have far-flung
team members? What tips and techniques do you use to bridge the time zone
divide? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter
by Bradley Eggers
Life requires organization. Fortunately a host of tools can help. We've
assembled a must-have list ranging from the simple notepad and pen to the
latest iPhone app. Read on and study up, it's time to get organized.
Not all organizing tools are high-tech. Consider that lowliest of
office items, the waste basket.
Tossing unneeded items is Organization 101.
Other so-simple-yet-so-useful items include:
Take advantage of technology. Digital note-taking, to-do lists,
mind-mapping, and personal organization tools all make being organized just a
For more information on leading digital note taking, to-do lists and
time tracking tools, read Blogging Bit's comprehensive article 40 Best Personal Organization Tools To Boost Your
Too Cool for
Technology adds a "wow" factor to staying organized. Tools so
innovative, you didn't even know you needed them, keep popping up on the
technology landscape. Here are some funky (and functional!) tools:
Do you have any favorite
organizing tools we overlooked? What is your must-have list? Share your
thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook
and Twitter pages.
Go ahead, check your
e-mail in the morning
Productivity "rules" are great - in a few words,
they quickly remind you of what you need to do (or not do!) to have a
productive a day. But what about when
one of these "always do this" or "never do that" rules
don't work for you?
Let's take "never check e-mail in the
morning." Great advice that works
for many. But if checking your e-mail in
the morning doesn't throw you way off course, and you find that once you get a
few key e-mails out of the way you are then better able to focus on more
important work, that's a successful routine for you - keep doing it, and stop
feeling guilty about it.
Now, if the reason you keep trying to embrace this rule is
because you do end up lingering in your inbox and wasting time, customize the
rule to fit that reality. One way you
can do that is by asking "if I were to check e-mail in the morning and
make the best, most productive and genuine use of my time, what would that look
When I check e-mail in the morning...
Having these "do's and don'ts" spelled out in
black and white can help pull you out of an e-mail trance on those days when
you might need a little help to keep you focused. And you can go through this process for any
other activities that tend to throw your day off course. Keep these reminders to 3-5 points, visible,
and handy (index cards work well), so you can read them every day.
Make productivity rules work for you: they can best help
keep you on track to a productive day when you customize them to fit your
personality, situation, and the way you work.
Claudine Motto is a Productivity Coach and Professional
Organizer in Wellington, Florida. She
works with women business owners who want to work smarter and get more done so
they can have more time to grow the business that they love, and have more fun
doing it. For more tips and information,
go to www.vistalnorte.com, connect
with her on Facebook, or
follow her on Twitter.
It took 20 years for the
character Andy Dufresne to tunnel his way to freedom in the Oscar winning movie
The Shawshank Redemption. While
most of us will never tackle a project of this scope, we all face long-term
projects in the workplace. How best to track progress?
There is no one size-fits-all
answer. Large companies, with deep pockets and dedicated project managers, can
avail themselves of tools such as enterprise project
management software, Gantt charts, PERT
(Program Review and Review Technique) and Earned
Value Analysis .
Looking to learn more about the fundamentals of project
management? Visit the Project Management Institute (PMI), a non-profit
professional organization, for resources including the seminal A Guide to the Project
Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK
PMBOK is the internationally recognized standard on project management
as it applies to a wide range of projects including construction, software,
engineering and automotive production.
Smaller companies, or independent workers, require simpler
project management tools that allow energy to be focused on completing projects rather than tracking
progress. Pared down tacking tools for leaner infrastructures can include:
The bottom line, long-term
projects need to be chipped away at a day at a time, much like Andy Dufresne's
tunnel. Make use of project tracking tools
ensure that you are staying on track.
How do you track-long
term projects? What role do milestones and deadlines play in getting to the end
of your tunnel? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter
To write is human. To persuade, divine. Writing clear, compelling communications
that beguile readers with style and conviction is a must in the modern
workplace. Do you want to convince readers of your viewpoint? Or to clearly communicate information or
intentions? Of course you do!
Writing is a crucial part of the work
day-to-day. Consider how many work products are written: e-mail, cover letters,
sales pitches, internal memos, presentation and blog posts. Even the 140-character
Tweet requires pint-sized punch.
Pulitzer Prize writing requires enormous
talent. Clear, compelling persuasive writing does not; rather it requires
techniques anyone can master. So how to
Employ these techniques:
And, most importantly, proof read your work. Many times,
when I believe I have done all of the above techniques, I proof my work, and
find a mistake, or a better way to communicate an idea.
See what professional writers have to say on the topic:
Really serious about overhauling your writing skills? Invest in two
On Writing Well: The Classic Guide
to Writing Nonfiction and
Strunk's Elements of Style.
Do you have compelling
examples of writing to share? What writers do you find persuasive and why? Share
your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter
by Candie Harris
The office water cooler enjoys an iconic reputation in the American
workplace. It's the hub of office chit chat about must-see TV and weekend plans
while simultaneously being the front-line of critical
Given the value of water cooler communications,
remote employees and nomadic workers need to fill the void created by
their alternative work environments. What's needed is a virtual water cooler.
Fortunately, the rise of social networking makes sipping from the virtual water cooler a
real possibility. Social media allows users to build professional networks and
exchange business ideas virtually. Social networking can also provide
inspiration, boost morale and mitigate feelings of isolation.
Many different networks exist, under two broad
Spend time thinking about what type of network best serves your needs.
Perhaps it's a broad network such as Facebook used in combination with a niche
community focused on your profession.
Looking to "tweet" and "friend" a virtual water cooler network? We've
assembled a collection of articles on how social media can help.
Commit yourself to building and managing a social network just as you
would face-to-face office relationships. The Wall
Street Journal recently declared that Facebook and
Twitter have dethroned e-mail as the king of communication.
It's time to stop by that virtual water cooler and check in.
Do you make use of a
virtual water cooler? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders
Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.
English humorist Douglas Adams once joked "I love deadlines. I
like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." Easy to make jokes when
being funny is your job but at most workplaces procrastination is no laughing
matter. Time is valuable; if we spend it putting off important tasks, it's
So let's jump
right in. Are you a procrastinator?
We all know what procrastination looks like: putting off until
tomorrow what we should do today. Yet some forms of procrastination are more
subtle. Often we busy ourselves with small tasks rather than tackling high
Do you ever:
If you answered yes (like I did) to any of those, you are a
procrastinator. Need help determining if you're a major or a minor
procrastinator? Mind Tools has a helpful Are You a
Recognizing you are a procrastinator is
the first step in tackling the why-do-today-what-you-can-put-off-until-tomorrow
attitude that derails productivity and decision-making.
So why procrastinate? Common reasons include:
For a more in-depth look at the emotional and psychological reasons
people procrastinate, we've collected some useful articles:
Tips to Stop
Now to the good stuff. How to
stop procrastinating once and for all.
To begin, set the stage. Visualize the unpleasant
consequences of not doing the task. Empower others to check up on you; positive
peer pressure is a motivating force. Once you've set up your stick, be sure to
find your carrot. Reward yourself for accomplishing goals. What I have found is
thinking about all the things I have to do causes 'mental stress', which
magically disappears once the task is done!
Get Organized, Get Going
Looking for more tips? We've
collected some terrific resources:
So kick the
procrastination habit for good. What are you waiting for?
Do you have road-tested
anti-procrastination tips to share? How do you motivate yourself to tackle
tough projects? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter
Memorial Day is in the rearview mirror,
school vacation is almost upon us. With
the "lazy, hazy, crazy" days of summer fast
approaching, how best to maintain productivity during a season marked by
holidays, vacations and distracting beach weather?
For starters, don't resist the time off.
While it may seem counterintuitive, productivity is actually enhanced by taking
a break. Roman poet Ovid famously said, "Take a rest; a field that is rested
gives a bountiful crop."
The Upside of Downtime
Ovid's dictum holds true today. A 2009 study lead by Harvard Business School leadership
professor Leslie Perlow confirms that getting away from work for set,
preplanned periods of time can yield unexpected on-the-job benefits. The
preparation required to successfully execute a shortened workweek produces
tangible benefits which can include:
Wall Street Journal reporter Sue
Shellenbarger was inspired by the HBS study to put aside her own work for a set
period each month and found her own productivity improving. Read her article If You Need to Work Better, Try Working Less for her first-hand account
of increased productivity through planned respites.
Consider a Compressed Workweek
Looking for opportunities to let your
field lie fallow? Explore the possibilities of working Summer Hours also
commonly called a Compressed Workweek. Compressed schedules can
be set up in a variety of ways, either 40 hours worked over 4 days, or a week of five
nine-hour days followed by a week of four nine-hour days, giving employees a
day off every other week. Some offices elect to give employees half day
Fridays. Summer Hours typically are offered
only between Memorial and Labor Days.
According to a study
by Hewitt Associates, a leading HR consulting and outsourcing firm,
the majority of firms who provide compressed workweeks during the summer find
it successful in boosting employee retention, engagement and productivity.
While a flexible work schedule can
provide plenty of upside-revitalized employees and improved workplace planning
and communication- drawbacks to compressed workweeks exist and should be
fully explored before embarking on any schedule changes.
Make Vacation Count
If a compressed work week isn't in the
cards, recharge your batteries by making the most of your vacation days.
Alleviate pre-vacation stress by giving
plenty of notice so schedules run smoothly and cross-train a colleague to sub
in on your workload while you're out. Consider scheduling vacations after major
projects and during slow periods so you can be confident your absence isn't
And while you may need (or want) to check
in, be sure to allow enough mental distance from work, that you can return
recharged and ready.
Does your workplace have Summer Hours or
policies to help manage productivity during the summer? Share your stories here
and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook
and Twitter pages.
Learning how to use your new office-issued laptop or cell phone is no longer
enough to keep you current in today's workplace. Today, we must understand when to use these devices.
If you've ever surfed the web at work or
sent a personal e-mail or text from an office computer or mobile phone-and who
hasn't?-you need to take the time to understand your office's policy of acceptable technology use.
Did you know that a quarter of employers have fired
workers for misusing e-mail and nearly one third have fired employees for
misusing the Internet? That statistic comes from the 2007
Electronic Monitoring & Surveillance Survey from American
Management Association (AMA) and The ePolicy Institute. It's worth a read to
see what other forms of technology use have landed employees in hot water.
Most corporate work environments have technology
use policies in place. Consult with your human resources team or manager to be
sure you're up-to-date. If your firm is small, and doesn't have protocols in
place, encourage management to formalize guidelines.
Keep in mind that the landscape of what
is acceptable and legal often shifts. The Supreme Court will soon
decide if a California
police department violated an employee's privacy when it inspected personal
text messages he sent using a work-issued pager. Avid
texters, and companies that issue handheld devices, will want to be
well-informed about how the decision affects their workplace.
Workplaces need to minimize litigation,
security and other risks. They also need to manage productivity. So scrutiny of employees' use of office technology is going to be an ever-present
part of the modern workplace. Arm yourself with information to stay on track.
That way, the next time you pick up your office-issued cell or get on the
Internet, you can be confident that you're adhering to best practices in your
Does your workplace have a clear cut
policy on acceptable technology usage that you can share? What standards are
most helpful in managing your day-to-day technology use? Share your thoughts
here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook
and Twitter pages.
Across the pond, the new English Prime Minister has set
tongues wagging with his decision to ban cabinet members
from using mobile phones and BlackBerries in meetings. This tempest is in an English teapot but it does bear
thinking about at home. I would be lying if I didn't say that at times, I would
love to ban phones, blackberries, and laptops from meetings. Technology has
clearly changed the way we work and live. But has it changed the rules of what
is polite and acceptable in business meetings?
According to Christine Pearson, a management professor at Thunderbird
School of Global Management, Thunderbird
School of Global Management technology
and its omnipresence in the workplace is eroding civility. Pearson interviewed 9,000
workers and managers for her book The Cost of Bad Behavior and concluded that texting
and emailing during meetings is a serious lapse of etiquette.
"No one likes to be snubbed, of course, but the offense
can take on a new edge when the winner is a machine," observed Pearson in a
recent New York Times article Sending a Message that You Don't Care.
Managers work hard to plan and execute successful
let a meeting be derailed by texting and cell phone interruptions. Establish a
protocol for managing meeting technology etiquette.
Steps could include:
One of the first rules for life we are taught as young
children is 'mind your manners.' Keep this old truism firmly in mind when next
tempted to check your e-mail or send a text during a meeting. Remember, that
the message you could be sending is that what is on your e-mail or cell phone
is more important than interacting with the person you are with.
Do you think meeting etiquette is being executed
well in your workplace? Could your
office stand to improve its meeting etiquette policies? Share your thoughts
here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook
and Twitter pages.
Beyond FoldersTM is written by a team of Pendaflex associates
passionate about time management, communications, productivity and workplace organization. Believing in "continuous improvement" on both a personal and professional level, they share their unique perspectives on subjects of common interest to our readers.