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

Friday, April 11, 2014

Manage Self, Rather Than Myth of "Time Management"

 Chances are good that you've attended a presentation about time management, read about it in books or magazines and tried to use some sort of planner or app to "manage" your time. You may ask yourself why, with all your acquired knowledge and all the related tools at your disposal, do you still struggle to get everything done. Well, I'd like to share a thought or two about this with you.

I believe that there is no such thing as time management. Yes, it's a great "buzzword" that evokes the image of someone in control and able to accomplish all that is intended for the day. However, everyone is gifted the same 24 hours in any given day, and it's not about managing that time. No one can control time; it's going to keep ticking away regardless of what you or I do. Instead, I believe getting more done is more about managing oneself as it is much more realistic to control ourselves than the hours in any given day. Manage yourself, not your time.

As we work to get more done in less time, there are specific steps we can take to manage ourselves. Here are a few of the many such steps we can take:

  • Complete a weekly strategy session where you create a game plan for the upcoming week's tasks, appointments as well as opportunities for personal and professional development. Instead of prioritizing your schedule, schedule your priorities; focus on making time for what is important.
  • Start each day with a written list of 3 - 5 "must do" items. Plan your work and work your plan to be more effective.
  • Wrap-up each day by evaluating which action items got done versus need to be carried over to the future and, then, schedule the carryover items to be done on specific dates since "every what assigned a when is more likely to be done".
  • Put a stop to procrastination and build momentum by starting on your bigger projects. Set a timer for 15 - 30 minutes and work hard for that shorter duration with a burst of energy.
  • Batch tasks so you are completing "like" actions in one, lump grouping; for example, return all calls back-to-back, process all received emails together at set times and schedule errands so you complete all your running around in a single trip.
  • When you block off chunks of time for completing what actions are important for achieving your goals, be sure to include buffers for travel as well as "unexpected" opportunities or hiccups.
  • Be fully present for each scheduled task or appointment, focusing on the individual, group or activity in front of you rather than thinking ahead or multi-tasking... Not only will you get more out of that specific task or appointment, but you will complete things more efficiently and effectively.
  • Identify and eliminate as much as you can the time stealers in your workday. Close your door to limit drop-in visitors. Send phone calls to an assistant or directly to voice mail when you are focused on a specific task at hand. Communicate your priorities clearly. Encourage planning prior to meetings, leading to better meeting management. Options are limitless!

Contrary to the connotation typically associated with "time management", the dictionary definition of "the analysis of how working hours are spent and the prioritization of tasks in order to maximize personal efficiency in the workspace" appears to be quite a bit more accurate. With the aforementioned thoughts and that definition in mind, what do you find is something you can control when working to get more done in less time? What tactics do you utilize to boost productivity and enhance efficiencies?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

'Tis The Season to Shred, Shred, Shred

To Shred Or Not To Shred?
... That is the question
 Ah, yes... April 15th is just around the corner, and, with the deadline to file your 2013 tax return quickly approaching, it is a perfect time to purge outdated paper from your filing system. While paperLESS is possible, our world doesn't accommodate the concept of paperFREE, making it all the more important to shred papers discarded with confidential information, and local organizations make it easier than ever to shred what needs to be shredded with several free events coming up (see list of options below or on this site). Yet, with all the different advice available, it is difficult to know what can be recycled versus needing to be shredded. There are many different opinions about what to keep for how long, and the following is what I have found most helpful for my clients. VERY IMPORTANT... I recommend checking with your accountant about items that should be kept for the long-run as well as the BBB's Records Retention Schedule; however, here's a general reference list to get your sorting and purging started.

What to keep permanently, protected from fire and flood:
- Annual tax returns (however, tax-related receipts and bank statements can often be shredded after 7 years... Please verify your specific circumstances with your accountant.)
- Audit reports
- Business licenses
- Year-end summaries from financial service companies
- Stock and bond certificates; investment trade confirmations
- Deeds of property, auto titles and most recent documentation for insurance policies, especially related to pending claims
- Real estate and residence records, including those of paid mortgages and transfer / sale of property
- Health records / medical test results, wills, trusts, powers of attorney and estate-related documents
- Birth certificates as well as adoption and custody records
- Social Security cards and Social Security annual statements
- Current passports
- High school and college diplomas
- Military service information, including discharge papers
- Appraisals for jewelry, artwork, antiques, etc that you still own
- Marriage licenses
- Legal paperwork related to any divorces
- Pensions / retirement plan records as long as they're current
- Death certificates

Documents to keep for terms related to life events:
- Current homes' improvement and maintenance records until the homes are sold
- Receipts for major purchases while you own the appliance, furniture, electronics, jewelry, etc
- Current automobiles' maintenance and added accessories records until vehicles are sold
- Pet ownership and care records until taxes are filed for year when no longer part of your family

Documents to convert into electronic, shredding originals:
- Education records
- Current copy of your resume
- Employment records, including performance evaluations
- Copies of important work projects and volunteer records

What to shred and, as needed, related timetables:
- Any unwanted paper that contains your social security number
- Pre-approved credit card offers immediately upon receipt
- Expired credit cards and identification cards, like driver's licenses and student IDs
- Old bills unrelated to taxes or past time needed for tax records
- Out-of-date account statements
- Paycheck stubs after reconciled with W-2 or 1099 forms
- Brokerage and mutual fund statements after they've been reconciled at year-end
- Records of selling houses or stocks and annual investment statements once no longer needed for tax records
- Tax-related cancelled checks, W-2s, 1099s and receipts for tax-deductible expenses after 7 years
- Records of satisfied loans after 7 years
- ATM receipts, bank deposit slips and receipts for credit card charges after cleared on statements
- Receipts for minor purchases that are not deductible for taxes (like your normal groceries) and for items you no longer own or are no longer eligible for returns
- Property tax records once any related disputes are resolved
- Addresses of prior residences
- Outdated credit reports and credit scores
- Completed travel itineraries
- Old report cards
- Luggage tags that you are no longer using
- Anything no longer needed that has a copy of your signature
- Anything that includes your birthdate and / or prescription information alongside your name

Again, it's important to contact your accountant before shredding anything, just to verify any special circumstances unique to your situation. It's better to be cautious with things like this.

Plus, there's good news: With this being "shredding season", you are in luck. There are plenty of free events occurring soon for you to shred what documents you need to shred. While events across the state of North Carolina can be found online here, below is a list of the events local to the Triangle of NC area:
- Saturday, April 12th at 73 Hunter St, Apex --- 9am - noon (click here for details; limit of 3 small bags or boxes per person)
- Saturday, April 19th at Marrow-Pitt Ace Hardware, 1713 N. Main St, Tarboro --- 10am - 1pm
- Thursday, April 24th at University Mall, 201 S. Estes Dr, Chapel Hill --- 10am - 2pm (limit of 5 boxes per person)
- Saturday, April 26th at Oak Park Shopping Center, 6001 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh --- 8am - noon (limit of 3 boxes or bags per person)
- Saturday, April 26th at Hampton Pointe Recycling drop-off site, 625 Hampton Pointe Blvd, Hillsborough (behind Home Depot) --- 10am - 2pm (limit of 5 boxes per person)
- Saturday, May 3rd at Duke University Federal Credit Union, 2200 W. Main St --- 9am - 1pm
- Saturday, May 17th at Roxboro Savings Bank, 313 S. Main St, Roxboro --- 8am - 11am
- Saturday, May 17th at Coastal Federal Credit Union, 1000 St Albans Dr, Raleigh --- 8am - 12:30pm (click here for details; limit of 3 boxes or bags of documents to be shredded as well as up to 5 electronic devices to be recycled)
- Saturday, May 17th at Lafayette Village in front of Executive Office Suites, 8480 Honeycutt Rd, Raleigh --- 8am - 12:30pm (limit of 3 boxes or bags of documents to be shredded as well as up to 5 electronic devices to be recycled)

If you are unable to make any of the aforementioned events, no problem! Many businesses offer shredding services, like ProShred, Apex Shredding, OfficeMax, A Shred Ahead, Phoenix Resources Recycling and Iron Mountain. No matter which direction you take, though, please keep your confidential information safe, particularly since identity theft is such a growing issue for us all. How do you determine what to shred and do you shred in-house or with a vendor partner? If you take your documents somewhere to be shredded, which option do YOU prefer?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Are You Ready to "Bring The Neat" as well as Implement the "Top Tech Tools for Rocking It at Work and in Life"?

 Today kicks off a very busy week in the world of +Organize for Success, LLC, and I'd love for you to join in some of the fun... Beyond attending this morning's Bizwomen Mentoring Monday event and, then, celebrating the honorees of the Triangle Business Journal's 2014 Women in Business Awards over lunch, I'll be working with several wonderful clients, all leading up to two very special events this Friday, April 11th... Mark your calendar now to join me at either or both of Friday's events!

On Friday, you have two options to get tips and tidbits from me as well as several of my colleagues: First, WrapIt presents "Bring The Neat" Springtime Organizing Master Summit starting at 10am on a Google+ Hangout, and I am thrilled to be one of the presenters. This online event will feature 10 organizing specialists, who will share tips for getting organized and boosting your productivity this spring. While you can find the link to join us as well as the entire summit's agenda at, I want to highlight that my portion about how to "Spring Clean Your Email & Mobile Devices" will be at 11:35am to 11:50am; here's a bit about what I'll share:

Then, I'm so very excited to be presenting an updated version of my "Top Tech Tools for Rocking It at Work and in Life" at 3:00pm to 5:00pm in the Training Room of Executive Office Suites in Lafayette Village at 8480 Honeycutt Road, Suite 200, Raleigh, NC 27615... Do you feel like there aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done? Might you be losing time and want to get it back? Feel like you might be treading water and all you want is to get ahead of the onslaught? Need a competitive edge?!? Well, this Friday's workshop might well offer exactly what you are seeking... Take full advantage of available software, apps and tech tools to achieve an organized office, enhanced efficiency, greater productivity and larger profitability. Adjust how you approach your work and organize for greater success so you get more done in less time, quickly find what you need when you need it and always know what must be done when. Here's what you'll take away from this presentation:

    • Particular software, apps & tech tools to lower your stress and enhance work performance
    • Detailed ways to use these software, apps & tech tools to achieve desired results
    • How to implement suggested solutions for immediate success

    Visit to register and reserve your spot. I'll do the legwork for you in finding the most up-to-date options and how you could best use each, bringing all attendees an excellent handout to be referenced later for easily adopting what software, apps and tech tools are best for your specific needs... Come ready to expand your effectiveness.

    Thanks for your interest in what I'm offering for enhancing your productivity, helping you get organizing and how to include technology in your efforts for greater efficiency... I look forward to connecting with you soon, but don't hesitate to give me a holler in the meantime. Have a marvelous Monday today!