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

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Gift Guide for One's Many Work-Life Integration Needs

It is the holiday season, and chances are good that your shopping list feels endless. While there are plenty of smart home kits or home monitoring hubs and wireless charging options, not everyone needs such expansive tech tools in their lives. Instead, when determining which gifts to consider, it is important to think about lifestyle elements for the recipient of whatever gift you're giving. Here are some of my favorite clutter-free gift options:

- If the person to whom you are gifting is a runner, a walker or just someone who likes working out, assuming they don’t have an Apple Watch or similar toy, something to attach their phones to their arms would be helpful. Sprigs offers the Phone Banjees with up to 2 pockets so the phone goes on one side, their personal items go on the other side, and it slips right onto the arm. While you can purchase directly from Sprigs' website, there are alternative designs on Amazon, eBay and

- For those fashionistas who love their current gloves but are frustrated by not being able to use their smart devices while styling and profiling, consider NANOTIPS. These transform any leather, rubber, fabric or fleece gloves into touchscreen compatible smart gloves and work well with iPhone, iPad or Android devices.

- I like having a “drop zone” by my entryway so my keys have a home and I can easily find them as I’m leaving; however, that’s not feasible for everyone. Lots of folks spend plenty of time searching for tiny objects, such as the car key when rushing to get out the door. There are several options for solving this, like Tile, TrackR and SecuriTag, but they all function the same: You attach a tile or tag that’s a little bigger than a quarter to the object you want tracked, sync that to an app on your smartphone and, then, track the object with your phone. Your gift recipient doesn’t have to limit use to just car keys; there are endless options for tracking!

- Cords are always an issue so a solution to wrangle in that problem is welcome by everyone: With CableDrop from BlueLounge, you can keep cords plugged in but not falling down as you plug in and unplug your devices. Simple peel and stick the adhesive backs to your desktop or wherever your devices sit to be charged, clip a cable through each CableDrop and it stays put whether connected to a device or not. Kableflags are tags you attach to each cord’s plug so you can identify which cord goes with which item, and you’re protected from ever pulling a wrong plug again. Neet’s Cable Keeper comes in many different colors to organize, protect and identify all your cords; with its inner wire to hold its shape, insert your cable, zip it up and wind, squeeze, loop or tie a bowtie to keep the cable together. If you put each device’s cable in a different colored Neet Cable Keeper, you go beyond just protecting them and can identify at a glance which is where. Likewise, the Cord Wrap from Bobino comes in 3 sizes and 6 different colors, allowing options for wrapping various cords for easily transporting them. CableKeeps secures the cable and charger for your iPhone or iPad together; adding a bit of fun and color while Cordlupa stays on your cord's plug cube so it's fast and simple to wrap up when ready to travel or store your cable. When planning your holiday gift giving, you could give these cord solutions individually or bundled together.

- Whether at home, in our offices or while traveling, plugs can be an equally big issue. Acoustic Research offers a travel plug with USB charger slots, perfect for airports, train stations and hotels where there are never enough plugs for all that needs charging, especially not located close enough together to be truly helpful. The PowerCube offers big, colorful outlets for 3-prong plugs on all 4 sides as well as 2 USB outlets for devices. The ChargeHub plugs into a wall outlet or an automobile to provide 7 USB charging options, and Easy Hub cleverly converts a single USB port into 4. Then, the Pivot Power Flexible Surge Protector offers variety in the angling of each outlet so chunky adapters and chargers can fit better side-by-side. Plus, with Quirky's Pickup Power, you can gift a surge protector for 3-prong plugs that includes USB charger slots and a portable battery pack. Wow!

- These days, we all have a love / hate relationship with our mobile devices, but I’d imagine most of us don’t have many days go by without using them at some point, making gifts related to our mobile devices especially popular. ZAGGLogitech and Belkin each offer keyboard folio options to add a real keyboard to our iPad tablets, making it easier to type while working or playing on-the-go. Or, if your gift recipient is notorious for letting his or her smartphone batter go dead, there are tons of battery cases, like Mophie, Anker or Tylt Energi. Native Union's JUMP Cable offers a 2-in-1 cable and battery solution with attractive, brown leather case for easy portability. To protect the connections on charging cords, a Klip Cable Protector can be slid over the sensitive area of any plug. The Mist Screen Cleaner and Microfiber Sponge from AM Company includes antibacterial all-in-one spray and microfiber cloth designed to clean computer, tablet and smartphone screens. If you’d rather avoid liquids, the iRoller Touchscreen Cleaner is a liquid-free, reusable option for removing fingerprints, smudges and bacteria from touchscreen devices. The PhoneSoap Smartphone Sanitizer uses UV light as a safe, effective way of cleaning, sanitizing and polishing devices.

- If the person you are gifting lives with several others that have similar-looking mobile device cords, vinyl labels from Whooz can be a welcome gift; they help to differentiate which cord belongs to whom while adding character and color with all different options.

- Or, if the person you are gifting likes to work on plugged-in mobile devices but the outlet is far from where they’d like to be working, REACHarge offers extended lengths of charging cords for Android, iPad and iPhone devices.

Hyper’s Pearl is a compact, LED-lit mirror with a built-in USB battery pack to charge devices on-the-go.

- Although I personally use my Grid-It from Cocoon to organize my tech-related gadgets, gizmos and accessories, the ways in which this marvelous tool can be used are limitless and can apply to so many of the folks for whom you’ll be seeking gifts this holiday season. Golfers can keep tees, a divot repair tool, ball markers and even an extra ball or two snugly secured in this ultimate organizer. There are plenty of little objects that new parents need on-the-go which can be secured in the family’s bag with this tool. Even the items usually thrown loosely in a woman’s purse can be better contained with this gift. It comes in various sizes and has little rubber lines on each strap to secure things.

- Any time our car batteries go dead, we’re used to needing another vehicle to connect to ours for charging. Well, now, we have an alternative… Juno Jumper is the most portable smart jump starter available, offering a battery pack that connects to your car’s battery for jump-starting your own dead battery. It’s that easy! This would be an ideal gift for anyone that travels regularly, particularly folks that drive alone.

- As a huge fan of all types of music, I’m also a huge fan of the iHome Bluetooth mini speaker, which streams tunes from any Android, Blackberry, iPad or iPhone that has been paired to it. The volume is adjusted on the paired device; battery is rechargeable.

- Since the holidays are a peak time for traveling, this next item could be a good gift to give others or for yourself: PacSafe offers several tools with RFID-blocking, and I encourage considering the RFID-blocking passport protector as well as the credit card sleeve… Very important security tools!

- Although not tech-related, the Pocket Monkey fits in your wallet, is TSA compliant to fly with you and performs 12 different functions, including bottle opener, flat and Phillips screwdrivers, phone kickstand, orange peeler, Hex wrenches, earbuds wrap, letter opener, ruler, straight edge and door latch slip.

- For kiddos aged 5 to 13, I am loving Osmo, an award-winning game system that aids children's learning with hands-on play. Start with Tangram, Words, Newton and Masterpiece; then, choose if you'd like to add Numbers for an additional emphasis on math.

- Finally, since it is hard to go wrong with gift cards and gift certificates, consider Gyft to buy, send, organize and redeem eGift cards while Yiftee lets you send certificates to what's local for any recipient via text or email.

While my go-to resources for finding unique, useful and tech-related gifts are usually The Container Store, The Grommet and Uncommon Goods, there are other sites for you to check as you are shopping around this holiday season. Consider shopping,,, and, and use each site’s filtering options to make the gift options less overwhelming; there are some very cool gift ideas floating between these sites.

If you are looking for more information to have an organized holiday and about giving clutter-free gifts, please check out my interview with Julie Coraccio in Episode 86 of her "Clearing the Clutter Inside and Out" podcast, entitled "Technology Tips for an Organized Holiday and Clutter Free Gifts Ideas", which can be found by visiting this website.

What gifts do you have in mind to help your loved ones boost productivity while taming technology? What tools do you currently utilize in your own work-life integration?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Stay Productive & Limit Stress This Holiday Season

Whether folks in your office are celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanzaa, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day can be a precarious time for productivity. You want to honor requests for vacation and time to rejuvenate; however, work must still get done. The holiday season is stressful for most everyone, especially business owners, particularly as your busiest day at work is often the same time as your personal to-do list is a mile long.

It is during this time of year that being proactive, getting organized before the holiday rush and best utilizing your entire team can empower you with the focus necessary to achieve all of your work-life integration goals, even with this season's additional distractions. Start with these 6 steps to stay productive and make this your best holiday season thus far:

- Be clear about your priorities: Between family traditions, friends' parties, the annual company shindig, making sure the kids get to class with the holiday-themed snacks promised and much more, there are simply not enough hours in each day to accomplish everything you may wish to do. With time being a very limited resource, it is important to invest each minute in what really matters. Knowing what matters most to you and your loved ones up front makes those choices easier. Therefore, take time now to set your priorities and choose activities accordingly.

- Write it all down: Our brains are meant for thinking, not remembering; it is vital to write down what we need to remember, including shopping lists, baking needs, holiday card recipients, work deadlines, gift ideas and the endless list of tasks needing attention. Regardless of whether you choose pen and paper or an electronic solution, getting those items out of your brain and into a documented list will make it much easier to efficiently, effectively and productively address the season's commitments.

- Create a habit of being strategic: Take time weekly to establish your game plan. Then, since priorities can change quickly and new issues can arise, take time at the end of each day to wrap-up the ending workday while planning accordingly for the next day; take into consideration tasks that must be completed, preparations for time commitments, personal and professional growth as well as keeping your physical space in order.

- Take time off to handle holiday obligations: While you cannot add hours to your day, you can accomplish more in the limited time you do have by managing your actions to more singularly focus on what you are doing at any given time. With that in mind, it's important to schedule time off for shopping, cooking and decorating so you are fully focused when at work. Likewise, whenever possible, avoid the mall madness by shopping online, and use available apps or sites to optimize your savings, like Flipp, ScanLife, Shopkick, Shopular, Shopsavvy and SlickDeals.

- Plan and schedule vacations accordingly: Since many people want to be off during the holidays, it is essential to balance employee vacation requests with business needs. Consider having a policy for no vacations on especially busy days or limiting the number of days that team members can take off during the holidays. Plus, you will most likely want to limit how many employees can vacation on the same day, choosing whether to give the day off based on seniority or first-come-first-served.

- Know when to ask for help: Ask your team members to take tasks off your plate. Determine what can be automated, like with IFTTT, Podbox and Zapier. Then, consider outsourcing through Fiverr, Guru, Task Rabbit, Thumbtack, Upwork and 99Designs. These services allow you to find help without the obligation of a full-time or seasonal employee; plus, they fit nicely within budgetary constraints. Meanwhile, when hosting, invite your guests to pitch in, and, as you pick up your purchases around town, always opt for in-store wrapping options.

Take time for a little planning and employ all your available discipline to be proactive and productive in this dash to year-end. You'll better maintain your sanity while meeting so many more of your goals, which will lead to a successful fourth quarter and build a solid foundation for the new year.

What tactics do you employ to limit stress during this time of year? Which of the approaches mentioned above will you utilize for this hectic season?