Think homework is just for kids? Too often, work creeps into the
weekends, cutting into downtime with friends and family.
If work projects and emails are eating into your weekend time,
we have some tips for getting your workload back on a Monday-through-Friday
Take a Load Off: If a crushing workload
demands weekend hours to keep up, it's time to talk with your boss about
redistributing the load. Your boss may be unaware that you are shouldering a
disproportionate burden. Before talking with your higher ups, spend a few days
or weeks logging your time so you can demonstrate how your time is being spent.
For more advice, read How to Talk to Your Boss about Being
Set Boundaries: If your boss or a
work colleague is emailing or calling you at all hours and on weekends for
non-urgent matters, take time to set boundaries. Calmly and professionally let
your co-worker know that you are happy to respond to emails and work calls
during the week, but unless the matter is urgent, you will not be back at work until
first thing Monday morning and will respond then. Most people will get the hint
and limit their outreach appropriately. For more advice, we like the advice in Set Boundaries at the Office to Balance Work, Family.
Stop Time-Wasting: Sometimes it's
you, not them. Are you prone to procrastination? Too chatty at the office water
cooler? Taking longer lunches than you should? If the answer to any of these
questions is yes, it's time to make an honest assessment of time spent in the
office, so you stop taking the office home with you on weekends. Read 13 Common Work Time-Wasters and take a good look in the mirror: change what you don't
Practice Better Time Management: In a fast-paced, demanding work world, effective time management
is key so if your skills aren't up to snuff, make 2012 the year you overhaul
them. Our past posts on time-blocking and effective time-management are great places to start.
How do you keep your
weekends free of work demands? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook and Twitter
When opportunity knocks, most of us
are quick to answer the door. But are we as fast to spot opportunity when it
isn't insistently banging? Recognizing opportunity - be it a new business
prospect, a smart career move, or any high risk, high reward gamble - can often
make the difference between status quo and a status upgrade. Is it possible to
hone one's ear to better hear opportunity's knocks?
We've collected some insightful reads
on recognizing opportunity:
Identify New Opportunities:
Listen and emulate is the advice from this Forbes.com piece. Listening to
customers-that is truly hearing their needs-allows
investors and entrepreneurs to identify untapped markets and unmet needs. Similarly,
existing business can serve as models for what's working; consider franchising
or building upon the ideas of those that have come before you.
CEOs Need to See Through Walls:
Fascinating Harvard Business Review piece about how to channel your inner "Superman"
and successfully "see through" the conventional limitations of an existing
business to create value by meeting unmeet social and environmental needs.
Bottom line: don't limit your vision to what's right in front of you, the big
picture is out there waiting for you to spot it.
31 Innovation Questions (and Answers) to Kick
off the New Year:
Innovation is created when opportunity meets action. This list of questions and
answers on innovation creates a useful lens through which to measure and vet
Truth be Told, There's a Business in
Spotting Liars: Interesting profile on how one Harvard Business school grad spotted
a business opportunity-coaching businesses
to spot deception-at her 20-year
class reunion. First came a book on the topic, next a coaching business:
pretty good for someone whose "aha" moment came while listening to a lecture.
How do you spot
opportunities? What has been your most unlikely (or most regular) source for
recognizing opportunity knocking? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex
Facebook and Twitter
a Smartphone and looking to get more out of it? Tired of being the last to know
about the newest apps? Sick of Angry Birds
and in search of new games? Staying abreast
of all the latest apps is like trying to drink from a fire hose: the Apple
store alone has a staggering 500,000 available apps with thousands more arriving
marshaled some resources to help you stay current.
users can head to the Android Market to tap into five new features to keep up on
the latest; apps are now sorted into top app charts, editors' choice, top
developers, trending apps and a category making use of related apps (shows
other apps often chosen by people who pick a particular app.)
Apple Store sorts its hundreds of thousands of apps into
categories such as travel, family & kids, business and games and also
provides lists of the top free apps, top paid apps and top grossing apps.
third-party app reviews can be found on numerous sites including MacWorld, Androidtapp.com and in mainstream media such as The New York
Times, which aggregates all its app coverage and reviews in The App Index: A Guide to Mobile Apps. Many sites also sort app reviews by
niche interest; for example parents in search of apps might like to make use of
the review sites listed here.
we leave you with Time Magazine's list of the 50 Best iPhone Apps of
2011 and Business Insider's The 15 Best New Android Apps of 2011.
Tired of arguing about whose turn it is to take out the
trash? Commit to a schedule of household chores for less stress, greater
efficiency and yes, fewer arguments. Check the chart sweetie - it's your turn!
Not sure where to get started? We have some terrific resources
that will have you whipping up a fair, user-friendly division of labor in no
Chore Chart by
Shift Schedules: A chore maker spreadsheet that assigns
chores to individuals in a random manner for a one week period; now no one can say
you're playing favorites. Great for big families, or multiple roommates, the
chart is able to assign up to eight people to as many as sixteen
How to Maximize Your Schedule with a Family
Chore Chart: Offers step-by-step advice on
identifying, assigning and checking up on chores. Also includes a chore chart
Roommate Cleaning Issues? How to Split Up
Chores without Splitting up Friends: Offers advice on how to manage chores when living with roommates as
well as a tips on creating charts for the cleaning-impaired (i.e. specific
directions on dusting, etc. for individuals unfamiliar with the domestic arts.)
Finally, we leave you with this About.com link which
has not only numerous, customizable chore chart templates but useful articles on
the benefits of a chore chart, how to convince kids to follow the chart as well
as advice on age-appropriate chores.
Do you use a chore chart
to keep your household running? What tips and tricks help you use a chore chart
effectively? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook and Twitter
If you made a New Year's resolution
this January, you were probably inspired to change a certain aspect of your
life. But does deciding to lose a few pounds because your jeans no longer fit
truly count as inspiration? Or is it just commonsense? No matter the motivation
behind your resolutions, one thing is clear: you are taking proactive steps to tackle
Can one in turn proactively seek
inspiration, or is it a lightning strike that comes when you least expect it?
Pablo Picasso famously said, "Inspiration exists but it has to find us
In search of inspiration of our own,
we came across a diverse array of resources. All suggest that inspiration comes
when you set yourself up to be an engaged, active, continual learner, open to
suggestion and regularly stimulated by the world around you. For more, read the
following items on channeling inspiration:
Where do you find
inspiration? Do you think bright ideas and insight come more readily to those
who look for them? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook and Twitter
it be great if using a Smartphone automatically made you smarter? Until science
figures out a way to boost brainpower with a magic pill, let's settle for
boosting your phone IQ with our tips for making smarter use of that oh, so
A Smartphone is like a mini computer in
your pocket, so it's crucial to protect your sensitive data. Get smart about
phone safety by password protecting your phone just as you do your computer. Consider
making use of "lock and wipe" technologies that allow you to lock or erase your
phone's memory if it's lost or stolen. The last thing you want is a thief
trolling through your data.
be wary of downloading attachments on your phone just as you would your
computer. Read the fine print carefully before installing apps; many access
data you may wish to keep private.
more safety tips, read Protecting Your Smartphone.
games, videos, and apps galore: today's phones do so much we sometimes forget
they can be used to make phone calls. Optimize the "phone" in your Smartphone
with the tips in 5 Apps that Make Your Smartphone a
Smarter Phone. The apps do everything from managing your
call log, to blocking unwanted calls to recording phone calls for
are so smart they can help you do what you didn't even know you wanted done.
Features such as "swype" allow you to bypass the old hunt-and peck
method of tapping away to produce texts and emails, instead allowing you to
glide, or "swipe" your finger over touch-screens.
of managing your own work expenses? Use application capturengo to scan business receipts and sit back while
they are automatically uploaded to your expense reports.
about never using a fax or a scanner again? Install scanning application Scan2PDF and use your Smartphone
camera to scan documents and convert them to PDF files. The app even compresses
the output from the camera to improve document quality. Smartphones maximize productivity
when used correctly; read 10 Apps to Optimize Your Smartphone
for more smart suggestions.
All work and no play makes
Jack a dull boy so be sure to get your fun on with your phone when you can. Smartphones
offer endless options for creativity with camera, video and social networking
apps not to mention games.
unleash your creativity? Try the Top 30 Best Photography
Apps for iPhone, or the 10 Best Creative Apps of 2010. Music lovers won't want to miss 30 New
Music Apps for iPhone, Android and iPad. Sick of Angry Birds? Try something new with App Smart Extra: Top 10 New iPhone Gaming Apps for 2011.
What is your favorite way
to use your Smartphone? Share your
thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.
you meant to make New Year's resolutions but somehow never got around to it, we
have a resolution for you. Procrastinator, time to kick your habit of putting
off must-do tasks once and for all.
Who Me? Procrastinate?
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 priority
jobs. Do you ever:
If you answered yes to any of these
questions, welcome to the I-Need-to-Change-My-Procrastinating-Ways Club.
Why People Procrastinate
Recognizing you are a procrastinator is the
first step in tackling a condition that derails productivity and
Common reasons for procrastinating include:
Tips to Stop
To begin, set the stage. Visualize the
unpleasant consequences of not getting to a task. Empower others to check up on
you; positive peer pressure is a motivating force. Reward yourself for
accomplishing goals. Take time to notice and appreciate how the mental "stress"
of leaving tasks undone disappears once the task is completed.
Get Organized, Get Going
Looking for more tips? We've collected some
2012 is your year to kick the procrastination
habit for good. What are you waiting for?
Do you have a
procrastination problem? How do you stay
motivated to stay on task? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.
Don't you just love
January's clean slate? After a hectic holiday season, capped off by a late
night of champagne and streamers, January 1st dawns as a low-key,
fresh start. Looking to make this January a time to reset and rev up for the
upcoming year? Kick off your 2012 with the only three tips you'll need for a
ability to prioritize, to assess your to-do list and triage the most pressing,
vital tasks, is a must-have productivity skill. Effective prioritization is
also a major stress-buster.
Need help mastering this must-have skill? Study up on the three
components of effective prioritization:
Decluttercize: Clutter creates stress and inhibits
productivity and efficiency. January is a time to tackle those piles,
streamline your files, and reboot your efficiency with a thorough office and
and moving your body is a must for energy and productivity. Great feats of
athleticism or hardcore time at the gym are not required; even a brisk walk
taken daily can do the trick.
How do you create and conserve productivity and
energy? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.
January is the month for making
resolutions that are too often abandoned by February. This year be realistic and
pick just one outstanding organization project that you never seem to find time
for and get it done.
Does your messy garage drive you
crazy? Or is it the piles of paperwork that have taken over your desk? Are your
closets stuffed past capacity? Everyone has a project they really wish they could
get to: make 2012 the year you move that back-burner project front and center.
Go for gratification: Pick a project that
will really and truly provide a sense of accomplishment. If you feel like you ought
to tackle your overflowing attic but would prefer to spend time sorting photos,
go with the photos.
Limit chaos: Start with spaces that won't limit your
ability to function such as the spare room or attic. Once you have those spaces
in better shape, you can tackle future projects in high-traffic zones such as
the kitchen or home office. Use the newly organized rooms in your home as staging
ground for sorting through paperwork or warehousing kitchen items as you tackle
bigger projects in high-traffic zones.
Break down a big project: Determine what steps you need to take
to get from the starting line to your end goal. If you want to empty an attic,
the first step might be tossing broken and outdated items, next, giving unneeded
items to family members and then finally donating the rest to charity. Defining
success before you begin allows you to know when a project is successfully
Get equipped: Filing projects
require files, moving projects require boxes. Don't overlook the basics when getting
started. Carefully consider all your needs before launching a project and then
stock up on the tools you need.
Enlist helpers: Many hands make for
light work so enlist family and friends. Make the project fun (filing while
listening to music! a family reunion garage cleaning!) and you better your odds
of getting helpers to pitch in.
Reward yourself: Reward yourself
for getting through your project and link your reward to your project if you
can. Did you tame a cluttered guest room? Treat yourself to new throw pillows
or a duvet cover. Did you tackle a mountain of paperwork? Reward yourself with
new desk accessories. Print and frame all those family pictures? Have a party
to show off your new home décor.
Making 2012 all about one major project betters your odds of
getting it done. Who knows? The glow of accomplishment may even carry you
through another project or two.
Do you have a major project
in mind? What is the one area of the house you never seem to get to? Share your
thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook.
Ah, New Year's
Resolutions; easy to make, and even easier to break. This year better your odds
of sticking to your goals with our this-time-I-mean-it tips.
Resolve Consciously: Just as impulse
purchases lead to buyer's remorse, so too does impulsive resolution-making.
Spend time evaluating your priorities for 2012 honestly and then make
resolutions that fit in with your objectives. Brainstorm with friends and
family and vet your choices by asking trusted friends, "Can you see me meeting
this goal this year?"
Say Good-bye to Failed Resolutions: January 1st is a clean slate so leave the ghosts of
failed resolutions firmly in the past. Instead, reframe your resolutions for a
fresh start. If last year's "lose
weight" resolution never got off the ground, commit instead to "add fruits and
veggies to daily diet" and "20-minutes of cardio a day."
Be Positive: Scolding young children doesn't work
as well as recognizing and rewarding positive behavior. So turn "stop biting my
nails" into "take better care of my hands" and treat yourself to a manicure
each week if you stick to a regimen of tender loving care of your hands.
Months, Not Years: A year looms long
when you're looking at sticking to a tough commitment. Break the time into
shorter chunks and strive to stay committed for a month, than a quarter,
working up to the full year. Reward yourself along the way for remaining
committed. When you run a marathon one-mile at a time, eventually you cross the
finish line at mile 26.
Plan for Speed Bumps: The road to
resolution success is never a straight path. Identify possible speed bumps and
plan for them. Work travel throwing off your gym schedule? Pack sneakers for a
jog. Is a busy party schedule making dieting a challenge? Plan to fill up on
healthy eats at home before arriving at the buffet table. Sick kids and the
demands of work keeping you from tackling that clutter? Treat yourself to a few
sessions with a professional organizer. Identifying possible pitfalls, and
working proactively on a Plan B, can prevent challenges from derailing your
Positive Peer Pressure: Trumpet your
resolutions far and wide. The more public you make your commitment to friends,
family and coworkers, they more pressure you will feel to stick to those
resolutions. Positive peer pressure works!
Looking for more
advice on keeping your resolutions well into 2012? Read our past posts Sticking to Resolutions with the Buddy System and Turn Resolutions into Reality.
How do you stick to
resolutions? Does the buddy system
help? Or do you reward yourself for
commitments kept? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.
resolutions are here. Put your chronically overflowing
e-mail inbox on your 2012 resolution list: we have tips for getting to empty,
and staying on top of e-mail, once and for all. Now that is a resolution worth
An overflowing e-mail
inbox is difficult to navigate; often important messages are overlooked or
allowed to linger too long before a response. For many workers, an overflowing
inbox creates stress and anxiety.
Tackling the in-box allows
you to manage communications more effectively and creates a sense of optimism,
rather than dread, when you open your e-mail each morning.
The first step in taming
the e-mail beast is setting aside a block of time to triage all critical e-mails
from the past two months. Next, move the ones that remain to an archive file. Archiving
e-mails allows you to unearth an old message if the need arises while
simultaneously freeing up your in-box for new mail.
E-mails proliferate like after-Christmas
holiday sales. Keep the madness at bay by adhering to a few simple techniques.
an e-mail for online shopping; this way spam and marketing e-mails that can clog
an in-box are corralled at a rarely used address. Or reclaim an existing e-mail
by unsubscribing from all e-mails from marketers, news outlets, etc.
Limits: Schedule your e-mail time and stick to it. Check e-mail
no more than once or twice an hour; rare is the e-mail that cannot wait 30
minutes for an answer. Or schedule e-mail free Fridays (or mornings) where you
carve out productive time free from the distractions of the incoming ping. When
it's time to turn you attention to e-mail, answer it, then archive.
Not Procrastination: Get into the habit of moving through your
e-mail, then moving it out of the in-box. If possible, respond to an e-mail
immediately, then archive. Often, e-mails require no more than a few words or
lines in response. So make time to respond right off the bat if you can.
Hold: E-mails that require a longer response time can be
moved to a temporary folder and handled at a scheduled time. Try to discipline
yourself not to let e-mails linger longer than a day.
Do you have tips for
dealing with e-mail overload? Share your thoughts here
and at the Pendaflex Facebook page.
If Santa doesn't deliver
every wish-list item this holiday season, take matters into your own hands
during the January sales. January is one of the best times of year to shop as
prices on everything from holiday decorations to winter coats and accessories
hit rock bottom.
Take your savings all the
way to the bank with our smart shopping strategies for making the most of the
Clothes: Even as the mercury is still
plunging in many parts of the country, cold weather goods hit the bargain rack
as stores begin to stock the shelves with spring items. Load up on needed cold
weather items at low prices for this year and next. Invest now in new winter
coats or snow and ski gear or buy one-size up for the following year for growing
Furniture: Did you know retailers
typically only restock furniture twice a year and that one of those times is
February? Great deals on big ticket items such as sofas, bookcases and dining
sets make January a smart time to scoop up existing sales-priced inventory
before the newer stuff arrives.
Electronics: Need a new TV or sound
system for the big Super Bowl Game? You're not alone which is why electronic
retailers offer competitive prices and financing during January to lure sports
fan in advance of the big game.
Holiday Goods: Décor,
wrapping paper, cards and serving items fall to fire sale prices right after
the holidays. Anticipate your 2012 holiday needs now in order to reap big
savings. By thinking ahead you can stock up for a fraction of the prices the
same items will cost next December.
Do you plan on hitting the January
sales? How do you best take advantage of deep January discounts? Share your thoughts here and at the Pendaflex Facebook page.
There are messes, and
there are mountains. Sometimes a mess is just too big to tackle alone. Messes can
grow excessively large and out-of-control for a variety of reasons: sometimes a
neglected area of the home such as an attic or a garage becomes a dumping
ground over the years, other times a move or a major remodeling throws a home
into chaos. For others, a form of mental illness creates a hoarding mentality that
engulfs a home in clutter and debris.
When a mess is out-of-control,
when the clutter interferes with daily functioning and happiness, or is a
source of embarrassment or stress, it's time to get help.
Friends & Family: Some
messes can be tackled by enlisting friends and family. Empty a full garage or
attic in the spring or summer with a garage sale. You might consider working
with neighbors to create a multi-family sale; having helpers will make sales logistics
such as advertising, set-up and clean up faster and more fun.
Older families can also
help empty overflowing homes and rooms by asking adult children and
grandchildren to remove childhood memorabilia and unneeded items. Often, as
children grow and move out, they leave items behind over the years. Schedule a
day for a walk-down memory lane: family members can revisit items, deciding
which special mementos should be saved in their own homes and which items can
be trashed, sold or donated.
organizations are happy to accept donations of gently used goods. So purge your
old skis, well-thumbed paperbacks, outgrown bikes and seldom used décor and
kitchen items knowing that the items will be happily used by others.
Read here for tips on managing a garage sale and here for help on finding charities that accept donated goods.
Professional Organizers: Sometimes
an unbiased outsider is the most effective resource for dealing with
disorganization, clutter and chaos. Packing up a family for a big move or
remodel is a major endeavor; if you are already juggling a job, young children
or ill health, doing the work yourself is not always feasible.
Outsourcing the work to a
pro ensures that the job gets done and done well. Professional organizers can
also help defuse some of the emotional upheaval that accompanies organizing; a
pro's unbiased eye and professional feedback helps homeowners suss out what
makes sense to hang on to and what needs to go.
For help finding a
certified organization pro in your neighborhood, visit the National Association of Professional Organizers.
Mental Health Experts:
Hoarding, the compulsion to collect, and unwillingness to discard items, even
those without value such as old mail and outdated newspapers, is rooted in
mental illness. Sometimes a hoarder collects only one type of item, other times
entire homes can be swallowed in junk. We've all seen the commercials for Extreme Clutter on TV; tackling the major messes of a serious hoarder requires
expert intervention. If you, or a loved one, are struggling with a hoarding compulsion,
seek professional mental health advice first, and then work with an organizing
pro to help restore order to your home.
For more on hoarding as a
compulsion read here and here. To find a mental health expert, visit The International OCD
Foundation's resources on hoarders.
Have you tackled an extreme mess? Share your thoughts here and at the Pendaflex Facebook page.
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.