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

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Startling Statistics Must Drive Action

Did you know that identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America? Although they readily admit this number is probably low, the Identity Theft Resource Center recorded 662 data breaches in the United States in 2010, a nearly 33 percent increase from 2009. Our current economic situation, the increasing use of smartphones or other mobile devices and U.S. troops returning home to increased risks with which they are unfamiliar all contribute towards the continuing threat of identity theft, but there are things you can do to protect yourself.

[ ] Regularly pull FREE credit reports from To have year-round awareness, pull Equifax in January, Transunion in May and Experian in September... Have you pulled your Equifax report this month?

[ ] Add security software to your computer, preventing illegal access to your network and computer. Purchase anti-virus software and install a firewall. When security levels are set at their highest, proper software can provide protection from spyware, adware, worms, Trojan viruses and hackers. Plus, always keep your operating system software updated.

[ ] Carefully guard your online logins, passwords and personal identification numbers (PINs). Use unique passwords whenever you can, and change those passwords regularly, making sure you don't use the same password in multiple places. Finally, do not set your computer to "remember my password" or have it preset in your system.

[ ] Look for the https at the beginning of website URLs before submitting personal information. Seeing the https beginning signifies a secure site, which means your personal data is kept secure as it's transmitted across the Internet.

[ ] Do not carry your social security card in your wallet. In fact, your social security card, birth certificate and other certified documents should be kept in a high-security location, like a safety deposit box or fire- and flood-proof safe.

[ ] Carefully guard your credit and debit cards. Do not regularly carry in your wallet any credit or debit cards that are not used on a frequent basis. For those cards you do elect to carry, keep photocopies of each card's front and back in a secure location. Do not write your personal identification number on the back of any cards. Instead of signing the back of each card, write "Check photo ID" in the signature block. Review monthly statements closely, looking for anything that looks irregular or that you don't recognize. Finally, opt out of pre-approved offers by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT.

[ ] If regular bills don't show up when you know they should, follow-up with the company. This may be a sign that someone has stolen pieces of mail from your mailbox. Likewise, when you reorder checks, arrange to pick them up at the bank instead of having them mailed directly to you, eliminating the chance of them being taken out of your mailbox.

[ ] Always be aware of protecting your general safety and security. Take precautions with wireless networks, especially those publicly available. Shred whatever paperwork is being discarded that might include personal information.

What steps do you take to protect your identity with all of today's challenges? What can you do TODAY to start making a difference?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Does your calendar help you focus on your purpose?

January is "National Be On Purpose Month", which is further outlined at, and I firmly believe your calendar solution can help you stay on the path of your selected purpose, especially when that tool is utilized to its fullest.

Many available calendar solutions walk you through how to select your own specific purpose, determining how you want to be remembered and what kind of footprint you'd like to leave on the people you know, the world you've lived in and the future of our society. Almost any Franklin Covey option, whether paper or electronic, is a great example of calendar solutions that enable future planning, mission / vision development and analysis of your personal or professional goals. Have you used any such tool for your own future planning and, if so, what level of success did you experience or do you recommend one tool over another?

Whether you've selected a paper or an electronic option, your calendar helps you see how much time is available each day and, then, allows you to determine how best to fill your available time. When faced with more than one appointment option occurring simultaneously, you have to deliberately determine which opportunity is more in alignment with your own specific purpose, making a conscious decision as to how you'll spend that available time. Do you have a clear purpose and, if so, what questions do you ask yourself when determining if an upcoming opportunity aligns with that purpose closely enough to be added to your calendar?

That same calendar solution often allows you to manage tasks on your to-do list. If you are using Outlook or another electronic calendar solution linked to your email, you can actually add the associated item to your to-do list as the email containing the action item request is received. If you are using certain paper or electronic calendar solutions, there are tools included for prioritizing such tasks on your to-do list. However, there are limited hours in each day, and one person can only complete a certain number of tasks, especially when intertwined with scheduled appointments. Do you delegate or discard tasks unrelated to your own specific purpose?

Still, enabling your selected calendar solution to be a tool in your staying on the path of your selected purpose depends on whether you take time to fully learn the bells and whistles of what that calendar solution offers and, then, keep the solution where you'll reference it frequently to fully utilize all of those available bells and whistles. Are you aware of all the options offered by your electronic calendar solution, like scheduling repetitions of activities at whatever might be your desired intervals, programming audio, text or email reminders of upcoming events / celebrations and easily updating directly from existing email applications? Are you aware of all the options offered by your paper calendar solution, like sections for meeting notes, built-in holiday notifications, areas for tracking expenses, auto service or medical records and references for toll-free numbers, weights and measurements?

Which calendar solution are you using for 2011 and how is it helping you stay on the path of your selected purpose?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Paper, Plastic or Reusable?

Okay... So we don't ask ourselves the same questions when picking out a calendar solution as we are asked in the grocery checkout line, but there are plenty of questions necessary for finding the calendar solution right for your unique needs. Are you struggling to pick your new calendar solution for 2011? Or had you previously selected a solution and are now finding that solution isn't really working for your current style and commitments? No problem... Let's evaluate your personality and scheduling needs to see what might be a better option.


Do you have tons of appointments each day? If so, a monthly view might be too overwhelming and might not allow enough space for all your commitments in each day's block. On the other hand, a daily view might make long-range planning more difficult since you won't be able to see the big picture of a week- or month-view to know all that is going on. Plus, if you don't have many appointments each day, a daily view might be way too much paper or

Do you know what size spacing works best for you and how it impacts which solution you should get? For paper planners, is your handwriting larger or do you prefer to write very small? For electronic planners, can you see your appointments in the program's available font sizes?

Do you spend more of your day sitting at a desk or moving around? If at a desk, can you keep an electronic program easily accessible and open on your computer's desktop throughout the day or would you have space atop your physical desktop to keep a paper planner visible, like maybe setting on a cookbook stand or one of Franklin Covey's Compact-Classic Planner Holder with Paper Storage? If more mobile, do you carry items in a briefcase big enough for a larger paper planner, do you need something smaller for a purse / shirt pocket or do you have a portable electronic device that can provide access to the electronic solutions available?

How many people need to have access to the selected calendar solution at any one moment in time? Are you the team's Chief Operating Officer, making you the only one that needs to access this calendar, keeping track of others' activities amidst your own as needed? Will all members of the office team and / or family be adding, subtracting and referencing this calendar equally? A personal paper planner versus a larger, wall-hanging calendar versus an electronic option will all offer differing levels of access, all depending on many variables.

How much time can you commit to maintaining your selected calendar option? Appointments must be added, regardless of whether the option is paper or electronic. Paper calendars need to be referenced since there aren't email or auditory reminders. Electronic calendars often need to be synced, particularly between team members' computers or your own devices, and always need to be charged or "powered up" to work.

Do you remember things better when you write them down? Can you look at a computer screen and memorize what's on tap for the day, visualizing that image throughout the day as a reminder? When you read a book, do you turn down corners of pages to mark content that needs to be referenced later? Do you enjoy the feel of flipping planner pages as the year progresses? Are you comfortable with tech gadgets? When you ask for directions, do you prefer a map drawing or turn-by-turn navigation provided by a GPS?


Paper calendar solutions work well for visual folks who process information by writing it down, often more "global thinkers".
--- Always on and ready: there's no on / off switch to make sure is flipped in the right direction, no battery to charge and no syncing to occur.
--- Often less expensive, keeping track of appointments, big events, annual celebrations, to-do items and addresses in a cost-effective way.
--- Since a paper planner can't "crash", the only way to lose your data is to lose the entire system itself.
--- Offers sharing between team or family members with a larger, wall-hanging option, but that is not as mobile as a personal planner.

Electronic calendar solutions work well for detail-oriented folks who remember things without really looking at them all at once, often keeping track of tons of appointments by focusing on one day at a time.
--- Includes options like scheduling repetitions of activities at whatever might be your desired intervals, programming audio, text or email reminders of upcoming events / celebrations and easily updating directly from existing email applications.
--- Offers sharing between team or family members with web- or server-based options, but requires additional devices for mobility.

A hybrid solution that is often ideal for groups or individuals encompassing both personality types would be to enter things electronically and, then, print the daily, weekly or monthly calendar to carry with you or post on a wall, which is especially important when info must be shared.
--- Requires training yourself to always add data to the electronic solution, using the paper portion simply as a printout of what's in electronic


There is no "right" or "wrong" answer to which calendar is best for you. In fact, when selecting a calendar solution, there really is only one "requirement" per se... Pick only one tool that will hold everything in it. That means all your personal and professional commitments are noted on that one calendar, not bouncing between different solutions. People that use more than one calendar have a much greater chance of something falling through the cracks, and we really don't want that to happen. Along those same lines, though, I do recommend incorporating color so different facets of your life or different projects in process have different colors, making it easy to see what's happening with each at a glance, and that tip is easy to utilize in any calendar solution, regardless of whether your chosen option is paper or electronic.

Then, once you have settled on the calendar solution deemed best for your unique style or personality and current commitments, I highly recommend allocating time to really get to know all that is offered by that particular option, training on its associated tools and applications so you take full advantage of what is available in getting and staying organized for your ultimate success.

What type of calendar solution do you use? How well is it working for you right now? What do you like best and what would you change?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ready, Set, GO!

As outlined on, the new year brings a variety of focuses for folks worldwide. Maybe your 2011 resolutions include "spend less, save more" or "quit smoking, get fit and stay healthy" or "enjoy life to the fullest", but many people have "get organized" atop their resolutions' list... and now is the time to GO towards Getting Organized!

The average worker admits to wasting 2 hours per 8-hour work day. However, getting and staying organized helps everyone maintain productivity, which has become more and more important as businesses streamline and employees must continually do more with less. With that in mind, it really is no surprise to me that "be organized" tops the list of new year's resolutions for many folks. To help, January is National Get Organized Month, otherwise known as GO Month, and there are many ways you can start being organized right now.
As you tackle the various tips that best meet your unique organizing challenges, there are a few things to keep in mind:

- Every person is different so it can take different amounts of time for different individuals to turn actions into habits, but simple, repetitive tasks require a timeframe of approximately 21 days to condition. Furthermore, most people require 30 to 40 repetitions to firmly adopt a habit. Stay focused... Success will come with time.

- Since people are different, there is no right or wrong way to get organized. Organizing is not "black and white" with one system that meets everyone's needs. Instead, what works best for you will depend on your unique needs and your own personality traits. For example, when things are filed away in a drawer, do they fail to get accomplished because it's "out of sight, out of mind" or does leaving things out in the open lead to inactivity because the visible things feel like clutter? Do you remember things better when you write them down or is an auditory reminder from an electronic device more helpful? Are you more energized early in the morning, mid-day or later in your workday? Would you prefer more to get organized with regards to to-do lists, space management, best utilization of your available time, communicating with others, optimizing the skills available on your team or something else? Success will come best when you know yourself well.

- Seeking help from others can be a very good thing. If you delegate a task to someone else, you are freed up to do something else while the original task is being completed. If you hire a professional whose services are in an area outside your expertise, the task will be completed much more quickly, maybe even more thoroughly. If you utilize a team in the completion of a task, the end result will benefit from different skill sets, different thought processes and different knowledge bases. Success is richer when you delegate, outsource, partner with others and simply seek assistance.

Whatever might be your resolution, today is the first day of the rest of your life and a great time to get ready, get set and GO towards Getting Organized... I wish you ultimate success in a joyful, prosperous and organized 2011.