Brought To You By Emily Parks
Productivity Consultant at Organize For Success, LLC...
Helping You Make Every Minute Matter!



Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Over 150 Gift Ideas to Eliminate Clutter for Loved Ones

The holiday season has snuck up on us again, and, whether you're celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah or Boxing Day, chances are good that your gift shopping list feels endless. While giving the gift of your time, access to an experience or consumable items can offer excellent options, many gift recipients want a tangible item that can immediately improve life or solve a problem. When determining which such gifts to consider, it is important to think about lifestyle elements for the recipient. To eliminate some of the overwhelm, here are some of my favorite, clutter-free gifts for folks on your list:

Technology:

If someone on your gift-giving list is like me and many of my friends, that person makes a cup of coffee, gets pulled in 100 directions and, then, upon returning to that cup of coffee, finds that it's gotten cold. Such sadness! The travel, ceramic and copper mugs from Ember heat themselves so there's no worry about one's coffee, tea, cider or hot chocolate falling anywhere below the desired temperature. Alternatively, fend off sacrificing your cup of joe with the Bellemain desktop mug warmer for coffee, tea, cocoa, soup, scented candles or wax, including effortless clean-up.

EyeJust blocks the harmful blue light emitting from just about any type of iPhone, helping prevent it from killing cells in the eye, causing sleep disruption and damaging skin. Oh, yes. And it protects your phone's screen, too, using scratch-proof tempered glass that's anti-microbial as well as smudge-proof.

Speaking of blocking bacteria, particularly with all time spent on our mobile devices, it's helpful to give the gift of easily cleaning our mobile devices. Whoosh! Screen Cleaner Kit includes superior, non-toxic cleaner specifically designed to not only clean screens but also make them shine like new and resist fingerprints. With about 250 sprays per bottle, it's possible to keep tech devices clean and shining like new, perfect for any carry-on or laptop bag as it's TSA compliant. OXO Good Grips Electronics Cleaning Brush easily cleans the hard-to-reach nooks and crannies of everything from keyboard keys to camera lenses, including a retractable bush designed to brush away crumbs and dirt along with a silicone wedge designed to reach into crevices, grabbing dirt and fuzz, all in a pen-like shape that's easy to carry and use. PhoneSoap will keep anyone's smartphone disinfected as it charges, which works well to "house" one's iPhone or Android device overnight while sleeping.

Whether at home or on the road, being able to stream one's desired content can be helpful. Consider gifting the Amazon TV Fire Stick, Apple TV, Google Chromecast or, particularly for those business travelers on your list, the Roku Streaming Stick as it plugs straight into the TV's HDMI port to be good-to-go for streaming.

The Lenovo Smart Display is a voice-controlled device with Google Assistant built-in to help, adding an enhanced visual experience for greater ease of getting things done. It allows for keeping in touch with video calls, includes a privacy shutter and a powerful, 10W, full-range speaker with dual passive radiator that expands the low end bass range for clear, natural, balanced sound, whether listening to a playlist or communicating with loved ones.

With so many photos living in electronic form, it can be a challenge to keep them all organized, accessible and able to be printed easily when desired. Although many prefer Dropbox or Google Photos, ThePhotoStick is a safe, secure way to easily backup all your photos, videos, documents and music from across various mobile devices. Choose either the Lifeprint 2x3 Portable Photo and Video Printer for iPhone and Android or the Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer to capture and share photos in less than a minute.

For those with a newer MacBook from Apple, there might be a need to replace the missing USB plugs, particularly when trying to plug in USB devices, HTML cords or projectors. Consider the HyperDrive PRO 8-in-2 Hub for USB-C MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs, which might be the ultimate MacBook dongle with plenty of ports from which to choose.

If someone on your list of recipients is constantly suffering from a dead phone battery, there's no better gift than extra power. Twin Power Powerbank Station has 2 compact, lightweight, rechargeable powerbanks that are slim but impressive, offering power to recharge both iPhones and Android phones up to two times as well as give a power boost to iPads and tablets; plus, the charging cables and dock are included to recharge both powerbanks at the same time. If you're looking for something that offers even more juice, consider the Anker PowerCore portable charger, which provides high-speed charging at an ultra-high capacity, meaning it charges the iPhone 7 almost seven times, the Galaxy S6 five times or the iPad mini four times. Similarly, there are ways to build powering options into your gift recipient's space with Simple Designs gooseneck organizer desk lamp that has a holder and charging outlet or the LampCharger that screws onto just about any household lamp to provide a USB power source for mobile devices and works even when the light is turned off. Or consider a personalized nightstand valet with a phone-charging dock.

For those that often have a phone or table sitting on their desktop while plugged into the wall, it can be an issue to have the cord fall off the desk each time the mobile device is unplugged; give them the gift of keeping the plug in place until the next time the device needs to be recharged by giving BlueLounge CableDrop cable holders, which easily mount to a flat surface with permanent peel and stick backing while holding wires up to 7.5mm in diameter.

Mark and Graham's wooden Charging Desk Station is a computer stand equipped with three USB ports for charging and one adaptor, supporting one's effort to stylishly keep clutter at a minimum. Plus, you can easily add a monogram or personalization.

As standing desks have lost a bit of their shine, current research shows that it's important to alter standing and sitting throughout the day, which makes options to offer this fluctuation more appealing. The design of the Levit8 foldable laptop stand was inspired by the folds used in origami, and the stand goes from flat to fully upright in seconds. It is lightweight, sturdy and built to keep up with you wherever you take it thanks to durable, high-performance fabric that is water- and stain-resistant. The Adjustable Tilt Lap Desk from Target is adjustable to eight different angles for easy, hands-free use and optimal viewing, saving space when it's folded flat, providing proper ventilation for any laptop and conforming to any user's lap with dual-bolster pillows underneath.

In this day and age, the gift of a device to make life easier is always welcome. The reMarkable Paper Tablet has visually unlimited pages, days of battery, the ability to cull together all notes in one place, easy annotations of documents within the organized system, sunlight readable screen, ability to instantly share content via email, ways to convert multiple pages of handwritten notes to typed text, access from anywhere over the cloud, real-time syncing between devices and file transfer in a drag and drop functionality; it eliminates distractions by making users focus solely on writing, reading and sketching. IRISNotes 3 digital pen converts handwritten notes to editable digital text, recognizing hand-writing in 30 languages along with graphs and drawings. With this tool, users can export digital notes to one's favorite text editor and, then, share notes, video memos and annotated photos anywhere. Rocketbook offers endlessly reusable digital notebooks with symbols at the bottom of each page that allow for sending notes to specific locations in the cloud services already being used; plus, the associated app crops and enhances each page so digital notes are more crisp and vibrant than the real thing. With Rocketbook, put pen to paper, choose destination, scan to transcribe pages and blast notes to the cloud.

Once you know your gift recipient has the right tools, why not offer a complementary accessory? AfterShokz Trekz Titanium Wireless Bone-Conducting Headphones let users hear their music as well as their surroundings at the same time. With the Prynt Pocket instant photo printer, photos are printed directly from your iPhone onto ZINK Sticker Paper with no ink necessary; after printing, simply peel off the adhesive backing to turn any photo into a sticker.

If your gift recipient is always misplacing things, XY Findit™️ can help. XY GPS devices attach to items so users have up-to-the-minute tracking information from virtually anywhere in the world. The XY4+ Bluetooth Item Finder is the most powerful Bluetooth item finder on the market with the longest range, loudest sound and longest lasting battery.

The germ-eliminating cleaning compound kit is perfect for use in one's car, on smartphones and for any electronics cleaning. It squeezes into vents, ridges and nooks, picking up direct, absorbing it and eliminating more than 99% of germs along the way.

Particularly for new homeowners or folks that live alone, the Nest Hello Video Doorbell replaces an existing wired doorbell, delivering HD video and bright, crisp images, even at night, showing the resident everything at the doorstep, including people head to toe as well as packages that have been delivered. Alternatively, you could gift the Ring Video Doorbell 2, which lets homeowners see, hear and speak to visitors from a phone, tablet or PC.

For Business Owners:

Whether founder, CEO or solopreneur, one must have the right tools to meet all business goals. The Layered Living Planner is more than a simple paper planner; it empowers users to lead the layers of their lives as they plan for the year ahead, live out those layers with weekly calls to action, lean into their layers as they assess progress and learn from those layers as they reflect on what happens throughout the year. A subscription to Sparkle Hustle Grow provides tools, training and community to help grow a business. Plus, Emily Ley has created a "Well-Loved Brand" playbook and online video masterclass that pairs the video course with a printed Well-Loved Brand workbook that's shipped to homes.

Productivity Boosters and Sanity Savers:

One of the basic principles for bettering one's productivity is to "contain what you retain", and zippered, canvas bags can assist in this goal, particularly when they include entertaining phrases, like "Straight Outta Patience" and "Those first five days after the weekend are the hardest." Likewise, backpack, carryall and Scout Pouch options provide stylish solutions to contain what you retain from 100% premium neoprene that is a high-tech fabric, hand washable and quick to dry. It's insulating and shock-absorbent make-up boosts durability and versatility for all need.

When considering that "vertical is visible while horizontal is hidden", consider whether your gift recipient would implement a Godery 5 Pocket Hanging Wall Organizer, which can contain file folders, individual documents, magazines and reference materials in a meaningful manner.

I'm a sucker for a great bag, particularly the hand-made goodies created by Holly Aiken's team at Stitch in downtown Raleigh, but I keep being reminded how backpacks are so much better for our bodies. The Laptop Backpack from Beyle offers anti-theft, water resistant capabilities with USB charging port.

A weekly Simplified Planner from Emily Ley pairs well with creating each week's game plan through the steps of my Weekly Strategy Session, but you must hurry to order one of these as they are selling out quickly. Paired with the Marvy Le Pen 12-color set, it's amazing how many big, hairy, audacious goals can be solved. Then, to simplify another aspect of the corresponding process, include paper tape to line up a list of numbers, checkboxes or days so your gift recipients' lists become so much easier to utilize.

As humans, it's often easier to utilize what we can see; therefore, it's important to make sure what is visible isn't misconstrued as clutter, remains contained and is labeled for easier reference later and that the piles don't spread. Magnetic See and Store Containers are made of food-safe polypropylene plastic with a magnetic backing and see-though top that features an air-tight silicone seal. Three by Three Magnetic Tin Bins have front windows for easily viewing what's inside.

Nite Note offers a hand-held, light-up notebook that conveniently holds a pen and writing pad. Record your thoughts while laying down using this bedside notepad that "lights up"when the pen is removed and "lights off" when the pen is replaced.

On-The-Go Necessities:

For those times when there's no hook but there's a need to keep a purse off the ground, Bagnet can hang from chairs, barstools, table bases, tabletops, gym walls, under bars, in restrooms and anywhere else needed.

Making sure to have the right beverages while on-the-go can become a major issue. Be the one who helps with the right tools! The water bottle has been reinvented with Que Bottle's collapsible, leakproof, shockproof, lightweight option that matches your gift recipient's style; it is BPA-free, plastic-free, taste- and odor-free with a mouth wide enough for ice cubes and, most excitingly, dishwasher safe. Alternatively, whether the 14 oz, 22 oz or 35 oz option, the Bubi Bottle is a collapsible, silicone water bottle that's BPA-free, flexible, washable, reusable and, according to its website, completely indestructible. One of my personal favorite bottles is the S'well Bottles, and I've been particularly impressed with the new Traveler size. I like its wider mouth, that it holds 16 ounces, keeping cold beverages the desired temperature for 24 hours while hot beverages stay that way for 12 hours, and mine came in a beautiful Green Jasper, which is perfect. Soda Says x Wacaco Minipresso GR Portable Espresso Machine connects innovative construction with easy operation in a sleek, beautifully designed brewer that turns out rich, bold espresso anywhere at any time by combining ground coffee with hot water and pressing the semiautomatic piston. Boon Supply's Portable Blender allows its owner to blend amazing smoothies in a minute and, then, easily take them on-the-go in the same container.

Does your list include a new mom who needs to clean her breast pump parts while at work or traveling? How about someone who wants to make sure their travel bottle gets the coffee cleaned out earlier in the day? Or a business traveler who needs some help cleaning bottles while traveling? The OXO Tot On-The-Go Drying Rack is a portable, ventilated kit for quick washing and drying that comes with a brush and a drying rack; plus, it's easy to fill a travel-size bottle with dish soap as a quality complement.

Yes, an individual who owns a dog that sheds a lot will have to deal with fur sticking to their clothes, but the various things that cling to our clothing are endless. The Flint Lint Roller offers super sticky sheets, retracts to stay clean, won't get stuck, fits in a bag or pocket, is easy to refill and offers a stylish, fun solution to the lint that black sweaters attract. Toss one of these in your vehicle and bag to have a readily available fix whenever needed.

For those of us who live in our vehicles or are hopping on planes between commitments, there's never easy access to all the beauty necessities needed. You could make your gift recipient super happy if you cull together a Minnie by OLIKA charcoal natural hand sanitizer, CoolKind Original Organic Lip Balm and Aveda hand relief moisturizing creme, maybe putting them all in a nice basket.

Warmmuffs are cozy hand-warmers that attach to the handlebars of a stroller or shopping cart, eliminating the "runaway mittens" that result from juggling so many different things.

Hot Logic pyrex containers let you pack your lunch in a container that allows for reheating via an outlet or car inverter.

Pearl is a compact mirror with a ring of LED lights around it that's also a USB battery pack.

For Traveling:

Many folks who travel frequently start complaining about their luggage once things start functioning in a less than desirable manner. If your loved one is itching for a new suitcase, consider gifting the American Tourister 16" underseat spinner suitcase, which slides right under the seat in front, or Away Travel's The Carry On with an ejectable battery to charge mobile devices while on-the-go.

The Paravel Fold-Up Bag offers a couple options: It its unfolded state, it's the prefect overnight duffel bag; alternatively, it zips into itself to form a compact pouch that can easily be tossed into a carry-on for an extra bag to haul back all the goodies found along a trip.

Whether traveling by plane, train or automobile, keeping all one's IDs, credit cards and travel documents together and organized is vital; if your gift recipient is often scrambling to quickly access what's needed, consider the Zoppen Multi-Purpose RFID-blocking Travel Passport Wallet, which is a tri-fold document organizer available in a multitude of color options.

For carrying toiletries, pills or small items in ways that really work, no one thinks about the details, users' needs and the ultimate experience better than HumanGear.com. Consider the GoToob+ as the new standard in silicone bottles, which offer a variety of colors, come with a warranty, is easy to squeeze such that every last drop comes out, is designed for easier filling and features an exclusive LoopLock around the collar, which makes it almost impossible to accidentally open. Likewise, consider the GoTubb to open with one hand for pills, knick-knacks, snacks, vitamins, change or anything that's little and loose but needs to be contained.

It can be truly frustrating to be on an airplane with AirPods or wireless headphones when you really want to be watching the movie that's projecting throughout the main cabin or unable to hear the gym cardio machine's audio. To aid your loved one with connecting those AirPods or wireless headphones into the wired headphone jack that is sharing the much-desired audio, gift AirFly, which uses Bluetooth, provides high-quality sound and offers easy set-up.

If your loved one has been using Grid-It by Cocoon with occasional difficulties, consider gifting the BAGSMART Travel Universal Cable Organizer electronics accessories case that stores various USB, phone, charger and cable needs in a similar manner but adds a heavy-duty, durable, water-repellent, nylon-molded case to contain items while protecting from scratches, dust and accidental dropping.

Secret Weapons' fold-up ballet flats come with a carry bag to fit in one's purse, tote or airplane carryon so no one ever has to suffer form foot pain while racing between appointments, commitments or flights. Available in black or silver, these are super comfy. Further, if one's suitcase is filled with other types of shoes, the best gift might be YAMIU Travel Shoe Bags, which come in sets of 4, are made of waterproof nylon for appropriate protection, include a zipper for easy access and make it easy to keep shoes protected while tossing them from home to bag to destination.

Looking for something your frequent traveler will want to pack to take luxury along for their next trip? The Merino Travel Kit is ideal for frequent flyers, comfort seekers and backseat nappers alike, including a blanket, eye mask and carrying case all made from 100% extra fine merino wool so they are light, breathable, warm and super comfortable.

One of my absolute must-have items when traveling is a travel-size steamer. Yes, many hotels will offer an iron in the room, but nothing can beat the ease and productivity offered by either My Little Steamer's Deluxe Hand Steamer by Joy Mangano or PurSteam Elite Powerful 7-1 Clothes / Garment / Fabric steamer, which remove wrinkles as well as soften, clean, sanitize, sterilize and defrost as needed. The functionality can't be beat for ease, simplicity and ability to meet desired results.

The BONECO Travel Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier makes any environment more comfortable, particularly for those of us with breathing issues, and includes an adapter for users to simply utilize conventional plastic bottles while on-the-go, whether in a hotel room, while an overnight guest at relatives' homes or in your own office. Along those same lines of boosting comfort, Travel Remedy essential oil blend is a grounding as well as refreshing scent that helps your loved one adjust to shifts in temperatures, climates or time zones, making the transition to a new location go much more smoothly.

Traveling with kids can take some effort. The Go Happy Travel Tray gives kids a clean, contained space to play, create and eat while on-the-go. Its removable, food safe, easy to clean silicone liner welcomes food, drinks and baby products atop a clean surface. Its firm surface gives the ideal space for creating art or building with Legos. Its raised border means that no more toys, crayons or food will end up on airplane floors while the entire tray fits securely atop the built-in airplane tray table.

Whether your gift recipient has little ones that need separating in the backseat or simply wants to keep the inside of one's vehicle better organized, the High Road® Back Seat Cooler / Play Table offers an insulated cooler to keep drinks and snacks cold, has multiple storage pockets for everything that needs transporting alongside passengers and features a convertible plastic lid for an instant tabletop that offers an ideal flat surface to play games, eat snacks or rest supplies being used.

When four-legged family members are in the vehicle, there are specific supplies that can be most helpful. The Bonza Collapsible Dog Bowl is lightweight, sturdy, leak-proof and food safe. PupProtector Car Seat Covers allow dogs to come along without any fear of water, dirt or hair being left behind while protecting seats from any scratching damage; the cover is waterproof as well as equipped with seat belt openings, straps to fit head rests and rubber non-slip backing.

For the road warrior, frequent flyer or travel aficionado, it can become increasingly difficult to keep track of all the places that have been visited. Consider gifting the Scratch Map, where scratching off areas visited reveals adventurous pops of color that turn traveling into a treasure hunt, or the Cork Globe, where travelers add red pushpins to mark cherished destinations or attach pictures, tickets and mementos to relive the thrill of each trip over and over again.

Support Health:

We all need a little rest and relaxation to be able to successfully battle what life throws at us each day, and AHAlife's Exclusive Aromatherapy Herbal Wrap Set heats up easily to melt away stress while easing muscle pain. This gift is like wrapping your loved one in a hug whenever daily stress becomes too much.

If your gift recipient suffers from congestion, allergies, breathing problems or air sensitivity, consider AmuseNd USB Cool Mist Humidifier that's in the shape of a miniature cactus to add a pop of color to one's bedroom, office or car. Prevent dry, stuffy air while fending off flu / cold germs and preventing dry, chapped skin with noise-free service that includes automatic power-off protection after 4 hours have passed.

One of the most well-received gifts can be a basket of goodies that make the recipient look and feel better for many moons to come. Consider filling a basket with some of your favorites or you can use these that are some of my favorites. Restorative Treatment Mask by North Carolina's own Virtue Labs actively rehabilitates hair in need of extra care for an instant infusion of shine, moisture and resiliency without weighing it down. This product delivers an immediate and intense hydrating and conditioning boost for silky-soft hair that's reinvigorated with health and nourishment. Dr Dennis Gross' C+ Collagen Brighten + Firm Serum helps even out skin tones, smoothens fine lines, lessens wrinkles and addresses the loss of firmness as well as elasticity; alternatively, NeoCutis' RéACTIVE Anti-oxidant Serum powered by VITAPLEX C offers one of the most complete anti-oxidant defense systems available to help neutralize free radicals and promote anti-oxidant regeneration to promote energized skin while limiting the signs of skin redness related to oxidative stress. RoC Multi-Correxion 5-in-1 Daily Moisturizer provides amazing hydration while fighting multiple signs of aging, including discoloration. Most importantly, EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 is recommended by dermatologists everywhere for a lightweight, oil-free sunscreen to protect sensitive and acne-prone skin alike.

As we near the winter months where folks are desperate to fend off extra germs, Jao Refresher becomes an increasingly desired gift; it is an all-purpose fix for any germy skin thing.

Sleep is necessary to maintain one's health, and there are tools to be gifted that will make achieving better sleep much easier. Slip's Pure Silk Pillowcase provides a gentle, hypoallergenic surface to protect users' hair and skin. The Sleep Mask by Mingtong is a contoured, comfortable, lightweight and breathable sleep mask with adjustable buckle that's helpful for sleeping, traveling and easing stress.

Whether your gift recipient loves working out or is looking for an easier way to get moving each day, there are two ideas which put technology to work in making life better. LED-Embedded Smart Jump Rope displays user's fitness data while in mid-air and can be synced with the free mobile app to track jumps, calories burned and workout times, get recommended training intervals as well as keep motivated by unlocking rewards while competing with friends. YoYoMats are self-rolling, stay rolled up while on-the-go and have edges that stay flat during any workout.

HemingWeigh Complete Acupressure Mat and Pillow increases energy levels and improves sleep while relieving stress, aches, pains and muscle tension. Gift the benefits of acupuncture without requiring your loved one to actually go anywhere.

Eufy Smart Scale includes two pairs of super-sensitive sensors that ensure precise and correct measurements for users to instantly learn 12 insightful measurements of body health, including weight, body fat, BMI, bone mass and muscle mass.

Mold and Germ Destroying Air Purifier from Hammacher Schlemmer eliminates up to 99.9% of airborne bacteria, mold, viruses, pet dander, dust mites allergens and pollen, all without making a sound. With no filter to replace or clean, the anti-germ air purifier uses natural convection to silently draw airborne impurities into its patented ceramic heating chamber that instantly destroys the microorganisms with 400℉ heat and, then, releases the clean air into the room. This tool works quickly and efficiently to replace all the air in a standard size room in about 4 hours, remaining cool to the touch while the heat it produces does not affect room temperature.

Since night driving is the top cause of auto accidents, Myiaur® night driving glasses make an excellent gift, helping the recipient see enhanced color and clarity just like high definition TVs at a fraction of the price of designer glasses while providing a durable, lightweight and stylish solution. Even better, those already wearing glasses will have no problem adding NightGuide HD as it fits easily over prescription lenses and is designed to overlay glasses while driving, all with a polarized lens.

For the Kitchen:

The gift of extra storage space can go a long way toward improving functionality in the kitchen. The Instant Range Top Shelf is a 30"-wide magnetic shelf that snaps directly on a stove's top range, allowing items used frequent while cooking on the range to be easily accessible as needed. Yamazaki Home Over-The-Sink Dish Drainer Rack is made of steel and wood with an adjustable bottom so it fits easily in different sizes of sinks; it holds a variety of items that need drying right there by the sink, such as dishes, bowls, cutting boards, utensils and glasses, which saves valuable kitchen space.

Having the right tools to clean what you've used in cooking such deliciousness is imperative, which makes OXO Good Grips Kitchen Appliance Brush Set an ideal gift. This set keeps every crack and crevice of small appliances clean with sturdy nylon bristles and an angled design to sweep away food, while cleaning out tight spaces or small crevices. The two pieces snap together for simpler storage.

The Easy Speed Salad Maker offers the quickest and most convenient way to make one's favorite salads. It's a matter of chop, chop, chop, rinse, toss in a bowl, add dressing and eat. Super speedy!

As a huge fan of watermelon, it's always a good time to stock up on tools that make enjoying this fabulous fruit easier. Aremazing Watermelon Slicer is stainless steel with a sharp blade to help cut watermelons into consistent size pieces with no watermelon juice left on anyone's hands or the countertop. This popsicle shaped slicer adds some whimsy to the process and encourages kids to help.

I can't think of a kitchen appliance that uses as little space to perform as many functions as the Instant Pot Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, which is convenient, dependable, safe, fast and easy to use. Plus, it's an excellent time-saver as it offers set-it-and-forget-it options for cooking.

Since the kitchen is one of the most powerful places to eliminate clutter, there are storage solutions worth gifting, particularly to your loved one who is environmentally conscious. Consider Beeswax Reusable Sandwich Wrap, (re)zip® Leak-Proof Assorted Colors Stand Up Storage Bags and Colorful Beeswax Food Wraps Reusable, Sustainable, Plastic Wrap Alternative.

Make sure your loved one is never without the ice needed for truly cold drinks with Kitchen Utensils Ice Cube Storage solution, which replaces the traditional ice cube trays to hold 3 batches of ice in a handy to use, clean and store option. Made of high-quality silicone rubber with a unique double chamber design, the outer chamber freezes the ice cubes while the inner cylinder stores them. It's airtight lid keeps cubes fresh and odor free, and it can be washed on the top rack of any dishwasher.

The Zoku Ice Ball enables enjoying one's favorite drink without diluting the flavor. Users fill the mold, let it freeze and, then, remove the ice sphere with no rinsing required.

Whether your gift recipient likes to cook, enjoys a hot cup of tea or prefers good, ol', southern biscuits, everyone needs honey, especially with all of its amazing health benefits. Some of the greatest honey options are the BumbleBerry Forager's Collection, including avocado and orange blossom options.

To Better Enjoy Living at Home:

As explained on its website, the BEDDI Intelligent Alarm Clock "is your ultimate bedside concierge." Give the gift that allows waking up refreshed with a light that simulates the sunrise, setting an alarm to one's favorite music that gradually increases in sound, receiving weather and traffic reports upon waking up, sleeping well with soothing white noise, communicating from a bedside table with other smart devices throughout the home and rapid charging of smartphones or tablets.

Being a huge fan of music for motivation, I love starting my day by singing in the shower, and Kohler's Moxie Showerhead with Wireless Speaker offers a great tool to add some jams to my morning routine. It enables streaming music wirelessly with any Bluetooth-enabled device, and the speaker can easily be removed from the shower-head for recharging.

Bring both magic and function to any space with MagiCLIPS, which pair bright illumination with clips to hold photos, drawings, letters and mementos. Each light is a clip to be more creative in displaying your loved one's keepsakes while creating a warm environment.

Trade Secret Wood Furniture Care Solutions camouflage nicks, cuts, dings and rings in wood while being more eco-friendly than similar alternatives, and the results are amazing. If you left your calling card on a friend's side table or heard them complaining about a stubborn issue on wood around the house, this might be the perfect gift to give.

As the temperatures drop, folks with traditional fireplaces or fire pits need creative solutions for getting that fire properly lit. Pinecone Fire Starters are molded from a mix of pinecones and wax, burn with a high, powerful flame and make it simple to light a fireplace or campfire.

Whether a cold evening or a snowy afternoon, it feels divine to snuggle up with a Sunbeam Reversible Sherpa / RoyalMink Heated Throw Blanket, which features an EliteStyle II Controller and comes in olive, honey or garnet color.

Entertaining:

If your gift recipient is "the hostess with the mostess", she probably would love an Andaz Press Personalized Laser Engraved Small Bamboo Wood Cutting Board, which makes quite the statement when bringing out the carved meet or a great mix of cheese and accompaniments.

Whether your gift recipient likes serving guests a custom punch, sweet tea, water or something else, presentation can matter, both for how it is perceived as well as how it functions. Consider gifting Home Essentials and Beyond 4800 Del Sol Impressions Ice Cold Beverage Dispenser or Circleware Family Recipe 2.2 Gallon Beverage Dispenser.

If your gift recipient has incredible glasses but fears guests getting too wild and crazy such that someone commits the party foul of dropping (and breaking) one of those beautiful glasses, the best gift might be Bendi Blue Silicone Wine Glasses. These work well for parties at home, picnics in the park and traveling or tailgating options. Allow your gift recipient to say goodbye to broken glass and get ready to have a great time anywhere with these 100% BPA free, food grade, silicone glasses that are dishwasher safe, flexible, freeze proof and clumsy proof.

For the gift recipients who host happy hours, cookouts and tailgates where attendees mix and mingle, carrying their food around, consider gifting 2-in-1 Reusable Food and Beverage Party Plates, designed for freehanded eating and drinking where the plate has separated compartments for different parts of the meal and fits over most consumer bottles, cans or cups. Plus, they are available in packs of 10 or 20 to make hosting even easier.

In anticipation of overnight guests, consider gifting West Elm's Bedside Carafe + Glass Set, creating a welcoming environment that enables those staying in a guest room to more easily fend for themselves and better stay hydrated, which is super important during dry, winter months.

Clothing:

If your gift recipient craves dependable sweatshirt warmth and durability but prefers something a little more different than the same old sweatshirt, consider the Trout Bum® Quilted Snap Sweatshirt, which is sewn from two equally soft jersey layers and filled with just enough insulation to fend off frigid breezes or cool conditions.

Women who are out and about, doing things and moving around, often struggle with tanks that inch up in the back, leading to constant tugging and battling. Gift the Women's No-Yank Tank to solve this problem. It's available in a plethora of colors, and the extra length prevents overexposure.

Although Spanx offers plenty of powerful options for meeting one's style needs, consider gifting Sculptwear from Honeylove for an excellent alternative. This supportive technology is effective shape-wear that hugs one's curves to better boost confidence.

Whether your gift recipient prefers hiking, climbing, exploring trails or participating in the athleisure trend, Athleta's Headlands Hybrid Cargo Tight offers stretchy Sculptek Light™️fabric in the back with structured, abrasion-resistant Trek Tech™️fabric on the front along with six secure zip pockets to keep essential handy.

When you think about the human body, remember that your entire weight rests on your feet, making socks super important. Consider gifting NeverQuit anti-odor comfort socks that are also anti-blister and anti-fatigue, Gekks socks that line the interior heel, sole and tongue of the shoe, providing a complete no show solution with moisture wicking fibers that eliminate odors while keeping you cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, or Bombas' absolutely amazing socks, which are engineered for greater comfort while gifting a matching pair to homeless shelters for each pair sold.

Many people hear "medical compression socks" and have negative thoughts, but the DocSocks are actually attractive while supporting all foot sizes and improving circulation. Foot pain, no matter how great or small, is alerting that person to underlying health issues, and these compression socks have a positive outcome on users' results, improving circulation of blood flow so feet get enough oxygen.

The buzz about allbirds' Wool Runners is for real and doesn't appear to be lessening anytime soon, but I'm not surprised as these sneakers are fabulous: flexible, supportive, astonishingly soft and cozy, wool upper, recycled laces, padded insole, lightweight sole, cool in the heat while warm in the cold, wicks moisture, minimizes odor, machine washable as well as low carbon footprint.

Preparedness:

Have you noticed the havoc that Mother Nature has been causing across our nation?!? From hurricanes to fires and everything in between, there's never been a better time to make sure you and everyone around you is thoroughly prepared for whatever might strike.

One of the greatest finds I've encountered for preparedness is the LuminAID PackLite 2-in-1 solar lantern and phone charger. It's lightweight, inflatable, portable waterproof, shatterproof and durable, offering 5 brightness settings (including SOS flashing mode) with approximately 100 hours of light on low mode when the battery is fully charged and two ways to recharge (solar and USB).

Nite Ize 3-in-1 mini offers modes for a hanging lantern, SOS signal and flashlight, which is perfect for stashing in backpacks, emergency kits, glove boxes, office desks or home gadget drawers, keeping the necessary light at arm's reach wherever you might lose electricity.

The 6-in-1 Emergency Auto Tool from Sharper Image is a must-have no matter where your gift recipient lives, works, plays and drives around. It includes a white LED flashlight, emergency flasher, emergency whistle, safety blade seatbelt cutter, automatic glass breaker and digital tire gauge.

Loaded with over 20 items that could mean the difference between life and death, the Ultimate Survival Kit can be stashed in a camping bag or glove box so your loved one is always prepared should disaster strike; it includes a water bag, nylon cord, night light, flint and striker, compass, fishing kit, mini multi-purpose tool, book of matches, sewing kit, water tablets, safety pins, single edge blade, salt sachets, mayday mirror, gold wire, pencil, distress whistle, tampon to use for tinder, wire saw, lock bag, cable ties, micro torch and silicone tubing. Can you think of anything it's missing?!?

Because no one should fear venturing out alone, Unbound's Whistle Necklace is like gifting your recipient with a shield of armor and an extra layer of confidence, which are both always a good idea. This chic necklace features a pendant that conceals an effective whistle, which can be used to keep anyone safe even when riding solo.

Enjoying the Great Outdoors:

One of the greatest boosts to productivity is getting outside, breathing in fresh air and absorbing some powerful vitamin D directly from the sun; however, those that are out in the elements need the right gear to make being outdoors its most enjoyable. The Filson Dry Backpack keeps one's gear dry by rolling the top closed, even when fully submerged. Its high-density foam back panel provides comfort while on a long hike just as balancing the weight of one's load between both shoulders is so much better for back health; plus, it comes in one of my favorite shades of green.

If you want to enhance the gift of a bag to go out and about, try including an essential tool for camping, travel or backpacking, which is the Muncher Titanium Multi Utensil by Full Windsor, which is a lightweight multi-purpose tool featuring 10 different functions: spork, serrated butter knife, fire starter, bottle opener, peeler, can opener, cord cutter, screwdriver, pry-bar and box cutter.

For folks who bike to destinations and, then, want to actually live their lives in those destinations before heading back home, the Morpher Folding Helmet is an excellent gift option. Its lightweight material makes it easy to carry, and it folds flat for ultimate convenience as well as portability; it can slip easily into a small bag, backpack or briefcase. Plus, it is as safe as a normal helmet, being made from eps and polycarbonate, which are standard helmet materials. It offers excellent ventilation, suitable for use in all weather conditions, a magnetic clasp for comfortable fit and a range of colors.

Another great gift idea for those recipients who like to ride bicycles is the Avantree Portable Wireless Bike Speaker with bicycle mount and an SD card slot. Its powerful sound enables cycling, hiking or even sailing to one's own distraction-free soundtrack with an IPX4 splash-proof, shock-proof, rubber exterior, bike mount, belt and snap hook design, which offers input from wireless, micro SD/TF card and AUX line options.

One of the greatest balancing acts required for enjoying the great outdoors is getting enough but not too much direct sunlight, and there are plenty of gift options to assist with this. Consider Supergoop! Glow Stick Sunscreen SPF 50, COOLA Organic SPF 30 Makeup Setting Sunscreen Spray, Coolibar's Sun Blanket with a UPF 50+ that doubles as a wrap in an array of stunning colors, the Instant Sun Shade from Hammacher Schlemmer that is a portable umbrella with a telescoping pole which sets up quickly for instant shade on the beach, at the campsite or along any youth sports sidelines as well as Herbivore Botanicals' After Sun Skin Soothing Aloe Mist.

As a big fan of fun, festive, upbeat tunes, I firmly believe that being outdoors is made much better with some great music, and the SunnyLIFE Portable Beach MP3 Speaker with AM/FM Radio and Smartphone Holder is an ideal addition to anyone's beach supplies. Its fabulous greenery pattern simply screams spring, summer and time by the ocean, soaking up some sun.

Many of my friends and family members who prefer the great outdoors enjoy an adult beverage while out hiking, camping or simply spending an afternoon over a picnic in the park. While all 25 ounce S'well Bottles will hold a full bottle of wine, it is the BottleKeeper that works best for beer-loving folks.

Similar to the balancing act regarding sunshine, there's an equally pressing battle against rain, snow, sleet and any other water element falling from the sky. The RainScarf is a reversible scarf that includes a waterproof hood, 2 pockets and a generous length of soft, comfortable protection, all of which is machine washable so upkeep is so easy. The RAINAWAY™️Double-Layer Reverse Umbrella closes inside-out, which prevents it from getting blown out, destroyed or leaving puddles and water marks wherever it gets placed indoors. Further, TheEcoDryer® Floor Dryer with Sanafor® is a non-electric shortcut for drying gloves, mittens, boots, shoes, hats and wet garments, which works particularly well drying items overnight after a busy day sledding or building snowmen.

Handmade by Tilley Endurables, The Better Winter Hat protects against wind, rain and snow while horseback riding, canoeing or working outdoors. This phenomenal hat is handsewn with lock-stitch seams from a lightweight technical fabric blending Merino wool, polyester and polyurethane. A windproof membrane laminated to the interior reacts to changing temperatures, keeping the wearer warm in cool weather and comfortable when the temperature rises. The interior crown has a layer of closed-cell foam for insulation and comfort while knit earflaps extend from either side or easily tuck away for storage.

Lastly, no matter why your loved one is headed out into the cold, you can help with Ravean Heated Down Jackets and Gloves, allowing the wearer to control the temperature whenever and wherever needed. Plus, the same cord that heats the jacket can charge a mobile device, making sure no one suffers from a dead battery when hiking through the woods or skiing down a black mountain hill. As an addition or alternative, consider the EnergyFlux Enduro Rechargeable Hand Warmer, which doubles as a USB portable charger power bank to make sure your hands stay warm while keeping your mobile device charged, and it includes a built-in flashlight as an added bonus.

For Your Significant Other:

Whether you're newly dating, someone who's been dating the same person for years, a newlywed or in a couple that is celebrating 50 years of matrimony, making time for one another is imperative, but it's easy for other priorities to supersede that time commitment, resting on the fact that the other person in your relationship will still be there when things calm down in other areas of life. Plus, when you do make a commitment to a weekly date night, it's easy for ideas to get stale. Proactively keep things fresh by gifting your partner the Date Night Bucket List from uncommongoods, which offers date night-invigorating prompts printed on a cute collection of birch wood sticks, running the gamut from romantic to intellectually stimulating. Or consider Bonding Bees' subscription of date night boxes, which offer unique activities, custom-made games and awesome products to help you connect, have fun and delve into new experiences together.

Meeting the Needs of Babies, Children and Teenagers along with Their Parents:

With nieces and nephews that range in age from 3 to 31 years in age, I am a big believer in the power of getting up, moving around and being active. It's good for physical health, but it also helps connect people, creates positive energy and aides in staying active as "activity breeds activity". Two of my favorite gifts for achieving the goal of getting young folks moving are Little Tikes® Pogo-It, Kidzlane Light Up Dance Mat and ROXs Real Life Gaming Console Kids Active Play Set.

Equally important to incorporating movement into play, I believe, is including creative crafts, coloring and hands-on experiments. Pinhole Press creates beautiful, customized, photo gifts, many of which help engage kids in activities to bring the entire family together. Likewise, Seedling offers gobs and gobs of fun and unique activities, like the Galaxy Rocket Adventure Cape Costume Kit, Design Your Own Marble Maze Virtual Reality Game and Disney's Alice Through the Looking Glass Clock Kit. The Sensors Alive STEM experiment kit brings physics to life with a pretend bioengineering lab inside a game, which is super cool. Still, sometimes, kids simply want to draw, but there's extra energy that will need an outlet; for those instances, consider ArtCreativity 13" Flexible Bendy Pencils, which are fun, functional, long, bendable, writing pencils. Finally, consider Sculptapalooza Sculpting Party Game for teams to race against the clock in sculpting their way through hilarious challenges that create laugh-out-loud family fun.

Ice cream is a winning dessert year-round, which makes Prepara Super Scooper Kids Ice Cream Scoops a great fit for kids of all ages. The set of four scoopers comes in an assortment of colors, and it's easy to add some sprinkles atop the smaller portion for a special treat.

The 2-in-1 Travel Booster Seat by CarGo Seat goes from colorful carry-on bag to car seat seamlessly, making it an empowering addition for little travelers to pack and roll their own suitcase, which fits in most overhead compartments and eases the hectivity of a trip to visit relatives or vacation.

If you're buying for a newborn baby or the parent of an upcoming arrival, consider the VTech Video Baby Monitor with 4.3" Screen, which has a portable parent unit that enables viewing live footage within 1,000 feet of the camera and has a built-in intercom for two-way communication. Another option is the Milk Boss Infant Feeding Pillow from Itzy Ritzy, which provides infant feeding support, a burping pillow and an arm cushion all in one, soft solution. It is ideal for positioning the baby at the perfect angle while bottle feeding or breastfeeding to help reduce the chance of reflux or gas; then, when feeding is over, it acts as a rest for baby while on his or her tummy getting burped. The Milk Boss is firm enough to improve the caregiver's posture while holding or feeding the baby and also helps to prevent strained arms from feeding or cradling; plus, its compact size makes it ideal for use while out running errands, traveling or visiting others. Simply slide it on or off the arm as needed.

The Knot Genie™️Detangling Brush was created for every mom that has endured the foot stomping and screaming matches that come from brushing children's hair. With this tool, even the curliest, most knotted up hair will practically slip through the unique bristle configuration, gently and painlessly, virtually stopping breakage and split ends.

The Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 film camera is simple to use so anyone (including that hard to buy for tween on your list) can easily achieve crystal clear, vibrant photos in no time, including built-in flash and a fun, colorful package. With the available accessories bundle, you add to the camera 2 instant film 20-packs, camera case with adjustable strap, 64-photo album, selfie lens, 4 colored filters, 10 hanging frames, 10 clips, 60 sticker frames, 5 plastic stand-up frames and a microfiber cleaning cloth.

Any budding artist on your shopping list will love My Comic Book Kit, which contains everything needed to turn original comic book drawings into a bound book. It includes a booklet of instructions, inspiration and helpful tips. Once your gift recipient's illustrated story is complete, it gets sealed in the pre-paid envelope and slipped in the mail; shortly thereafter, a professionally-bound copy of taht original comic book will be sent back, complete with an "About the Author" page.

Give The Gift of Better Living

Feel free to utilize these ideas for the holidays or throughout the entire new year. There are plenty of opportunities for gift giving, including birthdays, thank yous and so many different types of celebrations. Still, since it is hard to go wrong with gift cards and gift certificates, keep in mind options like Cardpool, Gift Card Granny, Gyft or Raise to buy, send, organize and redeem discounted gift cards while the Yiftee app will let you send certificates for what's local to any recipient via text or email.

Keep in mind the value of giving experiences. Depending on your recipient's interests, there are so many options: tickets to sports events, theater productions, food tours, art exhibits, special events at museums, airline travel vouchers, zoo passes and spa packages. Or you might want to consider restaurant gift certificates or gift cards to hotels in cities that might be of interest. Sometimes, though, the greatest value is in giving your own time, like to help with childcare while your gift recipients go out for a date night or to jump in on some household chores that are tasks you really enjoy.

I recommend culling together all your gift-giving ideas, what you've bought from whom, where each present is stored and whether it has been wrapped thus far. I'm a big fan of Evernote to organize these details amidst all the other information I must remember; however, if your information is primarily based in G Suite, you might want to consider Google Keep, and, if your information is primarily in Microsoft's tools, it might be best to use OneNote. Alternatively, if you are seeking an app designated for tracking only your gift-giving activities, The Christmas List, Gifted and GiftPlanner are excellent iOS options while Christmas List Gift Planner is equally good for Android, and Christmas List works cross-platform.

Above all, realize there are 12 days until Hanukkah and 35 days until Christmas; there's plenty of time to pull together all the loose ends. Take a deep breath, remember to take care of yourself amidst the craziness, break the big projects down into manageable action items and see what resources can help. You can stay sane while addressing all your priorities.

Finally, make sure you are getting the best deal possible. If you are shopping in stores, you can compare prices with the BuyVia and Flipp apps; if you are shopping online, use Amazon Assistant, camelcamelcamel, Coupons.com, Honey, PromotionCode, RetailMeNot and SlickDeals to find ways of saving money instantly. Plus, with Ebates, you can earn cash back by shopping at the stores you love while seeing the best coupons and deals available.

What gifts do you have in mind to help your loved ones boost productivity, squeeze every minute out of the day, limit clutter and best craft the life they desire? What are your go-to gifts that are functional for those on your list of gift recipients? I am always looking for more ideas!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Are You Prepared for an Emergency or Natural Disaster? 10 Tips for Your Business' Productive Preparedness

Each September, we are reminded of the need to review how prepared we are for emergencies and natural disasters as National Preparedness Month rolls around. The need to be prepared is increasing, evidenced by how the insured losses from the 330 natural catastrophes that occurred during 2017 reached an incredible $134 billion per a report published by Impact Forecasting. This included a very active Atlantic hurricane season, severe weather events from convective storms as well as many wildfires. It can feel overwhelming to prepare for such disasters, but here are steps each of us can and should be taking to be prepared, minimizing our negative repercussions:

  1. Plan for what makes most sense for your location. Whether you face hurricanes, tornadoes, snow blizzards, thunderstorms with lightening or another type of natural disaster, there are differing steps to take. Determine what types of disasters are possibilities for your area so you can customize your approach, planning for those specific risks.
  2. Gather necessary supplies. Visit Ready.gov/build-a-kit for what to include in your company's disaster supplies and, then, cull those items together where they are easily accessible. Add a recurring appointment to the electronic calendar of whichever team member will be accountable for maintaining the kit so it's reviewed regularly.
  3. Create your communication plan. Establish from where employees, customers and vendors can obtain updates during an emergency situation, especially when and where team members need to return to work. Decide where folks will go and with whom to connect for check-in should your team have to evacuate. Be sure to communicate the plans.
  4. Address potential gaps in what tech will provide. Verify all computer programs, data and documents are being automatically updated as well as backed up from each computer to a remote location. Include a hosted exchange server, VoIP, updated apps and a cybersecurity strategy in your steps to prepare for data issues.
  5. Prepare for lack of electricity. Power outages are often a by-product of disasters, particularly if there are strong winds. Be sure you have cash, back-up batteries for all mobile devices, flashlights to see without office lights and an emergency radio supporting multiple power sources. Fill gas tanks for personal and company vehicles alike.
  6. Get ready for the risk of a fire. Locate all fire extinguishers, making sure there are enough to cover your entire facility, and ensure everyone learns how to operate them. Find out where your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are located; mark the calendar of whichever team member will be responsible for replacing batteries so they are alerted when that recurring commitment arises, and learn which sounds indicate what. When possible, prepare and maintain adequate firebreaks and green spaces around your property. Consider installing fire glass in windows and doors. Locate your sprinkler shut off valves so first responders can easily access them and prevent residual flooding; routinely test your sprinkler systems to keep them in good working order. Also, know the location of major HVAC, piping, gas and water lines to aid in preventing the domino effect of damage being done to your facility. Keep emergency exits clear and marked with plenty of signage to direct anyone through that area.
  7. Know what to do if evacuating is required. Decide where all team members will go in an evacuation and who should be contacted should you have to evacuate. For example, will you notify senior leadership who will relay the message to their teams or will there be a mass communication sent out via email, automated calls and text messages? Make a list of what essential equipment must be taken from your business' premises at that time, and designate who will be responsible for removing each item on that list. Cull together items that you need to grab when leaving, and store them in a quick-grab bag.
  8. Verify your insurance coverage. Make certain you have proper insurance and it is up-to-date. Ask your insurance agent, broker or underwriter if you are adequately covered for potential property damage as well as what business interruptions you could possibly face.
  9. Consider how to continue beyond an emergency. What functions need to continue no matter what sort of craziness is happening? Decide how you will facilitate payroll if you are displaced, lose power or have intermittent Internet connectivity.
  10. Have your plan documented. Keep your business' policies and procedures in writing to be accessed from anywhere at anytime. Include within this documentation how contact data for employees, customers and vendors will be kept up-to-date for facilitating the aforementioned communication plan. Upload your documentation to the cloud so folks can access the necessary information during an evacuation or relocation. Then, be sure to review your plans and supplies every 6 months; you'll want to incorporate updates as things change
Is your business prepared for what natural disasters might strike your area? If not, which of these steps can you take to boost how productive your preparedness might be?

Monday, July 30, 2018

Top Tips to Simplify Your Life

As we near the first week of August, plan how you'll celebrate "Simplify Your Life Week" with baby steps you can take to streamline, cut out the clutter, make life easier and better invest your limited resource of time. With a few tweaks to how you get things done, you can better focus on what matters most, making greater progress on your priority goals to achieve your desired results.

Per Dictionary.com, simplify means "to make less complex or complicated; make plainer or easier." Invest some time in simplifying to limit stress, more quickly find what you need when you need it, have a clear grasp on what needs to be done at any moment and stop wasting precious moments of time. Make every minute matter!Ⓡ

Here are tactics to jumpstart your efforts at simplifying your life:

  • Learn to say "no". What actions are being asked of you that don't actually need to be done? Are there tasks on your to-do list that could be delegated to someone else that can do them equally well if not even better so you open time for what only you can do? Alternatively, should you consider "not now" for something that can be delayed until a later deadline?
  • Stay true to your priorities. When you know what matters most, you can more intentionally align your actions with those areas of importance, avoiding burnout. As priorities shift, you can be flexible and shuffle how to invest your time so you keep your actions focused on your goals.
  • Utilize work-life integration for greater overall success. By studying research by Wharton's Work / Life Integration Project along with my experience with clients' best practices, I know first-hand how you can create harmony with goals for home, work, society and yourself complementing one another rather than competing with each other. Focus on actions that can accomplish multiple goals at once, plan how you can invest your time with each of your most important priorities at the forefront of your emphasis and maintain pliability to easily address your priorities as they evolve over time.
  • Respect the value of your space. Whether it's in your physical space, electronic files or calendar, keep only what is accurate, applicable, useful, bringing you joy and not just as easily found with a quick Google search. If something filling your physical space, electronic files or calendar no longer meets those requirements, remove that clutter.
  • Plan to have the tools you need nearby when needed. Do you utilize a smartphone, tablet or laptop? If so, you are well aware of all the accessories needed, especially when you are working on-the-go, like charging cords, earbuds and the like. Rather than depending on whether you remember to bring "all the stuff" with you whenever you work outside an office, keep multiple sets of accessories (one for the office, one in your vehicle, one for your bag), bundling your tech tools together with the GRID-IT or a canvas pouch that's easily portable.
  • Address email. Unsubscribe from eNewsletters you are no longer reading, consider bundling subscriptions that you do read via Unroll.me and shift from checking to processing newly received messages, moving to-do items to your task management system, adding requests for your time to your calendar, shifting retention items from your inbox to personal folders and using delete as your friend to remove trash or junk.
  • Save time with forms, templates and checklists. If you regularly send the same reply, create a template that can be easily plugged in and tweaked as necessary, saving time by not starting from scratch each time. Create a packing checklist so you don't forget anything needed for travel. Design a form for your grocery shopping list so you remember to restock the essentials each time and save valuable minutes by listing the items in order of the aisles at your store.
  • Automate daily processes. "Set it and forget it" may be the greatest time-saver. Investigate options such as IFTTT, Podbox and Zapier to find the best solution for your needs. In addition, add an automated cloud back-up solution, such as Backblaze, Carbonite or CrashPlan, and consider which social media management solution will allow you to automate putting the right message in front of the right audience at the right time.
  • Cut back on distractions with fewer pings and dings. When distracted, it can take us an average of 23 minutes to fully re-engage in the task at hand. Each time we receive a notification for a new email, social media update, text message or voice mail received, those are distractions that rob us of valuable time. Turn off the notifications and schedule set times to check each platform. For folks that do require an immediate response (like key account clients or your direct supervisor), make them VIPs so you can utilize Do Not Disturb on iOS and Priority Mode on Android.

Where do you see excess in your life or time being wasted? How can you take action in tiny steps that will assist in simplifying your life so you get to your goals more easily?

Monday, April 23, 2018

Does America Have an Unhealthy Focus on Labels?

Photo by Pro Church Media on Unsplash
Recently, I was an attendee at a non-profit gala; when I was unable to hear the speaker due to attendees talking and poor audio technology, I tapped my knife against my glass to get folks refocused on the speaker, hoping to not miss anything important being said. Unfortunately, by trying to wrangle in the crowd such that I could benefit from a little less background noise, I got labeled as a control freak, which surprised me. The person who said it was simply joking, but the experience did get me thinking.

According to a quick google search, control freak is defined as "a person who feels an obsessive need to exercise control over themselves and others and to take command of any situation." Likewise, the Learning Mind explains "10 Signs You Are Dealing with a Control Freak" as (1) They always correct people when they are wrong, (2) They always criticize and judge other people, (3) They are leaders, not team players, (4) They take full credit for their successes, (5) They will never admit when they're wrong, (6) They know what's best and try to change others to fulfill own agenda, (7) They spend a lot of their time trying to prevent bad things from occurring, (8) They never delegate tasks to others, (9) They always have to have the last word, and (10) They have no time for anyone who makes a mistake. I will happily admit that I do spend a good deal of time trying to prevent bad things from occurring, hence why I own a productivity consultancy, and I dislike wasting time with folks who consistently make the same time-wasting mistakes over and over again; however, there is a big difference between committing each day to making the world a better place and being a control freak.

Lately, in the media, there has appeared to be a movement toward "You do you", including an awesome book entitled You Do You that was published in November 2017 by Sarah Knight. Yet, as a business owner and community leader, I find it's important to be cognizant of others' perceptions of you because they directly lead to how those making assumptions about you will respond to your needs, initiatives or offerings. The tricky part is that no one can get inside another person's head, and human nature is to fill in the blanks of what's not been shared verbally or visually; usually, how we fill in others' blanks is not how those folks would fill in the blanks for themselves, but we can base our fill-in-the-blank answers on only our personal experiences, perspectives and thoughts. Similar to deeming someone to be a control freak would be the label of perfectionist or saying that someone lacks time management skills. They are assumptions, and we've all heard the saying about what assuming makes us.

Since humans can't get inside each others' heads, how do we know that our definition of perfect does or doesn't match someone else's definition of perfect, how can we determine if someone's longer hours working on a project are because they are trying to get it "just right" and aiming for perfection or simply trying to figure out how to get it done at all, how can we decide that someone is late because they have poor time management skills versus simply having had a more pressing priority pop up to deviate a timely arrival and who are any of us to determine another person's delegation skills if we don't know for certain who is actually getting everything done that we are attributing to that person?

Teams are made stronger, more productive and far better at achieving greater results by bringing together diverse individuals with varying experiences, perspectives and thoughts; however, the power behind including diversity within any group is limited by the communication skills of all team members. Are we subconsciously sabotaging our teams? How do we speak up so others don't make inaccurate assumptions about us? Or how do we ask questions to get others' true answers instead of filling in the blanks incorrectly?

When presenting a team-building workshop to a client earlier this month, we focused a good deal on embracing varying perceptions as we cling to the wisdom from Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" song lyrics that we can change only ourselves, not others. In other words, we have to be "starting with the man in the mirror", and I find the Serenity Prayer helpful in knowing how to react to any given scenario... "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Are the assessments we make of others helpful as we attempt to focus on what we can change about ourselves? Moreover, as humans, how can we reign ourselves back and stop making such assumptions of others? How does the human impulse to apply labels impact our success in teams?

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

10 Tips to Safely and Successfully Spring Forward

As explained by WebMD, "Losing an hour of sleep to gain an extra hour of sunlight... interrupts your circadian rhythm or your sleep-wake cycle", and the act of springing forward can be stressful for our bodies, affecting our well-being in both positive and negative ways. Losing an hour of sleep in March is especially hard on those not following Arianna Huffington's advice and already getting less sleep than needed. As routines are tools to boost productivity, they can also assist in transitional times like this. During these days counting down to the start of Daylight Saving Time, there are steps to be taken for optimizing the good and minimizing the bad of the upcoming time change. Here are some actions to take this week:

  • Prepare your sleep-wake cycles. Gradually shift yourself into the hour earlier sleep upcoming by adjusting your bedtime before the time change gets here. Go to bed 15 minutes early on Wednesday, 30 minutes early Thursday, 45 minutes early on Friday, and, then, an hour early Saturday. That means you'll get your normal amount of sleep once Sunday's alarm goes off.
  • Caffeinate strategically. As you'll be headed to bed earlier in the upcoming nights, it's increasingly important to fall asleep easier, working towards those goals for your bedtime. Reduce your caffeine intake earlier than usual each day leading up to the start of Daylight Saving Time so it's out of your system earlier and has less effect on when you get to sleep.
  • Fine-tune your bedtime routine. Start preparing for bed by eating dinner earlier. Then, drink a relaxing, sleep-inducing tea to make falling asleep come more quickly, like chamomile, lavender or some combination of similar herbs. Lower lighting and activity levels for an hour before bedtime.
  • Be active during the day. Especially on Saturday, be sure to get some vigorous exercise. If it's sunny, get moving outside and soak in that vitamin D, which advances the body clock.
  • Nap selectively. Normally, power naps can be a good way to catch-up on missed sleep; however, on Saturday or Sunday, an afternoon nap might make it too difficult to go to sleep earlier that night. Avoid taking a nap anytime this weekend.
  • Stick with Sunday's normal wake-up time. While the aforementioned earlier bedtime approach is helpful for those with the chronotype of "night owl", many "morning person" types benefit from waking up in the same increments of increasing earliness; however, when it comes to Sunday morning, everyone needs to get up at what is considered a normal wake-up time. Sleeping in on the morning that the time change takes effect will make adjusting all the more difficult.
  • Power up on morning sunlight. Letting the sun shine over your face first-thing each morning resets your body's natural clock. With Daylight Saving Time, you'll be waking up when it's a little darker outside so consider swapping your alarm clock for a light box to wake up more easily. Take a morning walk outdoors to get moving in the sunshine, even if it's for only 15 minutes. If there's not enough time for a walk, soak in the sun's rays from your porch, patio or sunniest window, allowing the warmth to better jumpstart your day.
  • Add essential oils to your springtime morning routine. A little peppermint in your morning tea will help kickstart your energy level, especially the first week of Daylight Saving Time. 
  • Implement the same changes for kids, too. Children having a hard time falling or staying asleep after the start of Daylight Saving Time are listening to cues from their bodies, making it equally if not more important to help them through this same process of proactively adjusting to the time change.
  • Drive more attentively. The morning is already the most dangerous time on the road; when you add in the fact that it will be darker during your morning commute along with potentially greater exhaustion, it's important to be even more careful and alert as you drive to work, especially during the first few weeks following the start of Daylight Saving Time.

Take action with these tactics to cut down on the stress and sleep deprivation associated with Daylight Saving Time; you'll be grateful for the results. Do you do anything special to make the time change less impactful or stressful? Please share in the comments.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Visualize Your Ideal Life to Make It Happen

The fundamentals of productivity build upon one another... You clarify what matters most, utilize those priorities to create a game plan for proactively addressing the week, utilize a daily wrap-up to stay on track and, yet, sometimes, still miss out on attaining your loftiest of goals. The missing link might have more to do with visualization of your goals than the tactics you use to get through each day.

Have you ever heard the saying that "Seeing is believing"? As the Huffington Post explains, "Before we can believe in a goal, we first must have an idea of what it looks like... This is where visualization comes in, which is simply a technique for creating a mental image of a future event." It is through visualizing our experience of desired results that we can see, feel, smell, taste and hear all that success offers, fueling even greater emotional drive to meet goals.

One of the most successful methods is outcome visualization, where you create a detailed mental image of the desired outcome using all of your senses, putting yourself in the situation of achieving your goal to envision every little detail. This could be drawings, words, diagrams or a vision board, but the key is dig into the details as you create a visual representation of that outcome.

Another of the most successful methods is process visualization, where you envision each of the actions necessary to achieve the outcome you want, focusing on exactly how to complete each steps needed to achieve your goal rather than the end result.

At the end of this year, how will you have spent your days? What will be your gross revenue? How many of what types of clients will have hired you? What new things will you have tried or what helpful habits will you have developed? What did you stop doing?

Write out your answers; then, determine exactly what needs to occur to make your vision a reality. What resources do you need to procure? What partnerships do you need to initiate? What marketing efforts do you need to schedule? What sort of training do you need to acquire? With whom do you need to interact more?

Need help? Try Jack Canfield's step-by-step to get started.

What is your vision for your ideal life? What needs to occur to make that vision a reality? Share your experience with these visualization techniques and share your successes.