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

Friday, December 23, 2016

Tackle the Time-Crunch for Better Gift-Giving Success

There are many folks who purposefully wait until the last few days to complete their Christmas shopping, loving the energy that comes with running around on Christmas Eve or finding that these last-minute shopping sprees fill them with the Christmas spirit. I have vivid memories of running out with Dad on Christmas Eve to start his shopping, feeling the excitement from everyone's harried movements. However, many procrastinators who have shopping left did not plan to not be done and are truly feeling the crunch. 

If you would rather skip the mall madness, you have a few options:

One wonderful idea is to "shop small" and visit the locally-owned and -operated small businesses throughout your community. When you shop at a chain store, only $43 of every $100 spent benefits your neighbors locally; however, when you shop at a locally-owned business, $68 of every $100 spent stays right there in your local economy. When you look at the statistics, there's ample rationale for saving your sanity, enjoying greater service and shopping your locally-owned small businesses. If you are in the Lake Norman area, consider supporting my sisters' shop, Sweet Magnolia; if you are in the Raleigh area, consider supporting Stylefinder, DECO or The Green Monkey. Which locally-owned and -operated small business in your community is your favorite?

Another alternative is to subscribe your gift recipients to goodies that will be delivered directly to their front doors. The younger folks in your life might appreciate a delivery from Rockets of Awesome, where experts hand-pick a selection of stylish clothes, sending 8-12 outfit-ready items that are $12-$36 per item and can fit what size you select between sizes 2 and 14. The dog lovers in your life might appreciate a delivery from Barkbox, which includes a monthly box of goodies for dogs and their humans. If you have not already gotten them a Poole's: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner book by Ashley Christensen and Kaitlyn Goalen, the foodies in your life might appreciate a subscription to the Snack Smart, Do Good club from Love With Food, which delivers all-natural, organic or gluten-free snacks each month. Those folks in your life that lack a green thumb and want plants easy to keep alive might appreciate a delivery from The Desert Box, which includes a planter made from repurposed wood, 1-3 succulents and / or cacti, depending on size, soil and moss, pouch of white granite pebbles and a plant care card. Plus, anyone can benefit from a subscription to the Dollar Shave Club, which offers blades and associated shaving products as well as sulfate-free shower products that hydrate without stripping, hair styling products and skin protection products. Which subscription gifts have you loved giving or receiving?

Stop spinning your wheels; take advantage of these options to organize for success. What other tactics work best for you? Please share your strategies for time-crunched gift giving to better enjoy the holidays. Make every minute matter!™

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Over 60 Gift Ideas to Eliminate Clutter for Loved Ones

It is the holiday season, and, whether you're celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah or Boxing Day, chances are good that your shopping list feels endless. While giving the gift of your time or tickets to an experience offer excellent alternatives to eliminate clutter for your loved ones, we often want to give a tangible item that can immediately improve the recipient's life. When determining which gifts to consider, it is important to think about lifestyle elements for the person to whom you're giving a gift. Here are some of my favorite clutter-free gifts for many of our work-life needs:

- In this day and age of being attached to our smartphones, battery power can extremely valuable. Gifting a tool to charge your loved one's mobile device while on-the-go is a great idea, and the blue leather iPhone charge-and-sync bracelet from Jet is cost-effective. As another option, consider the mobile power banks or the solar power bank from The Container Store.

- Speaking of charging devices, to provide an amazing charging outlet for home or work that allows doing more in less space, consider gifting the thingCHARGER. In addition to 2 standard outlets, this has 2 built-in USB ports and a top that doubles as a charging dock for your phone or tablet. Alternatively, consider the USB wrap and charger to wrap excess cord around the charging plug as your gift recipient's device is being charged.

- Do you have a gift recipient who often has a phone near water at the pool, lake, beach or bath tub? Consider the Dry Spell Floating Phone Case from The Container Store to lock out sand and water while keeping a smartphone safely tucked inside, enabling the user to continue taking photos, texting, using the phone for calls and, generally, having fun or catching up on work. Plus, if it falls into the water, it's designed to float so the phone stays protected.

- While on-the-go, wouldn't it be nice for your loved ones to have a smaller charging cord for their PC laptops? Consider Dart micro PC laptop charger from FINsix, which offers a PC charger shrunk to fit in your pocket, delivering 65W of energy through a six-foot cable with a built-in USP port to power up another device. There are 9 interchangeable tips to fuel up just about any brand of PC, but it's not an option if your recipient prefers Macs.

- On the other hand, for those with the 2016 MacBook Pro, consider the Thunderbolt 3 USB-C Hub from HyperDrive to equip this Apple laptop with HDMI video output, Thunderbolt 3 video connectivity, USB-C with 5Gb/s data speed, SD with UHS-I 104MB/s, microSD with UHS-I 104MB/s and 2x USB 3.1 Gen 1 with 5Gb/s data speed as well as high power to various devices. This will be a game-changer for folks who utilize multiple devices with their MacBooks so make sure to check out the video on their page.

- It's easy to get grossed out by what happens to our tech tools, but PhoneSoap will keep your smartphone disinfected as it charges while the Electronics Cleaning Brush by OXO cleans the hard-to-reach nooks and crannies from keyboard keys to camera lenses. Plus, the screen cleaning wipes from Spruce and Co make life a little brighter as they clean mobile devices' screens.

- Although there are plenty of options for bluetooth speakersBose Soundlink Mini 2Beats by Dre Beats Pill+ and Sony SRS X77 offer the best portable bluetooth speakers that I've seen. Plus, I'm loving the JS Portable Mini Wireless Bluetooth Nut Speaker with Sling for iPhone, iPad, Android and more for an itty-bitty sized speaker with elegant looks and simple operation. Or consider the bluetooth waterproof speaker from The Container Store for a high-performance, go-anywhere bluetooth speaker that lets you stream music or take calls anywhere, whether outdoors or on the water.

- The Monkey Mat Quilted Blanket or Mini Monkey Mat create the perfect clean, dry surface to sit on at the beach, for a picnic in the park, during an outdoor concert or sitting on a hill for a football game. Padded for comfort but exceptionally lightweight, its lightly weighted corners keep the mat down, and it comes in a compact travel pouch for easily taking anywhere.

- Allow your gift recipients to keep an eye on their homes while at work, out on the town or traveling via the Canary All-in-One Home Security Device with a live video stream of whichever room in which it is kept and a measure of air quality to keep safe.

- I'm a big fan of the personal assistants available on smartphones, like Cortana, Dragon Mobile Assistant, EasilyDo, Google Now, Maluuba, Siri and 24me, there are a growing number of technological assistants to keep in the room with you, like Google Home, Amazon Echo and Echo Dot.

- Your loved ones can keep clothes looking their best wherever needed with the Gleener On The Go Travel Fuzz Remover, which includes a lint brush and three garment-safe blade options to remove pills from fabrics as fine as cashmere or as heavy as wool.

- Folks don't want to leave home with a big gap at the back of their pants or a bulky belt buckle that ruins the lines of a fitted top; therefore, consider gifting Invisibelt for the perfect, low-profile alternative to hold up pants without adding bulk.

- Consider BootRescue or ShoeRescue to wipe away dirt, grime and damaging salt stains, especially with how difficult weather can be for those lovely accessories protecting our feet; HandbagRescue cleans/ conditions prized purses via essential oils.

- If your gift recipient could benefit from a better way to more easily grab a bag's zipper and use it to open the bag, consider gifting the zipper pulls from The Container Store. Choose from Paracord Zipper Pulls in durable nylon or plastic zipper pulls from Eagle Creek in black, lime green or ocean blue.

- Do you have a gift recipient who runs a business, will be making big changes in the new year, has tons of new ideas to be implemented or is looking to uplevel goals moving forward? Consider the Powersheets® Intentional Goal Planner. As another option, consider the Fit-Spirational Journal to log every calorie eaten, every exercise and that for which there is gratitude.

- Do you have a gift recipient with a keychain full of keys? Consider the KeySmart Minimalist Key Organizer to contain up to 10 different keys within a compact key holder that fits neatly and comfortably in a pocket.

- Do you have a gift recipient who loves to workout? Consider the Life Energy Ekosmart Yoga Mat from Bed, Bath & Beyond, Gaiam Restore Deep Tissue Roller from Target, S'well water bottle to keep beverages cold for 24 hours or hot for 12 hours, leggings from Lululemon or Athleta and Phillips Freshtones Wireless Earbuds. As another option, consider the Harmony Mat from Jade Yoga, which provides a thick mat with great traction, comes in a variety of fun, soothing colors and gives back by planting a tree for every mat sold while contributing to charities corresponding to colors.

- Do you have a gift recipient who spends a great deal of time working or playing outside in the cold? Consider ThermaCELL Heated Products, like shoe insoles and hand warmers.

- Do you have a gift recipient who loves living a spirited life? Consider a tool that multi-tasks, like the Beer Opening Glass from Uncommongoods. Alternatively, the portable wine glass from The Container Store makes a great gift. Or choose from Corkcicle's innovative bar accessories for a reusable cork that chills wine, an in-bottle beer chiller, an intriguing wedge of ice specially designed to cool the contents of a tumbler glass and the Arctican to keep 12-ounce drinks cold without chilling your hand.

- Do you have a gift recipient who sips on a cup of a coffee for hours or starts a cup of coffee only to get pulled away with a distraction? Consider Mr Coffee Mug Warmer for Office/Home Use. Plus, anyone who enjoys a hot beverage would enjoy the Multi Photo Color Changing Mug; it is dishwasher and microwave safe.

- Do you have a gift recipient who is a foodie? My fellow alumnus from East Forsyth High School in Kernersville, NC, Ashley Christensen, owns the AC Restaurants group and is sharing some of her famous recipes through the Poole's: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner cookbook. You absolutely must try her macaroni au gratin! Alternatively, consider gifting a Shiitake Mushroom Log to grow multiple crops for up to 3 years.

- Do you have a gift recipient who wears glasses? I know first-hand how difficult it is to keep glasses clean so I'm extremely excited about the creation of Peeps carbon eyeglass cleaner.

- Do you have a gift recipient who needs a little stress relief? Consider The Head Duo - Cooling and Soothing Kit from Saje Natural Wellness for a refreshing blend to be used with a soothing head massager for an ultra relaxing scalp massage. Or perhaps your gift recipient would prefer calming essential oils from Young Living or Doterra.

- Do you have a gift recipient who is often searching for keys, wallets, bags and more? Consider TrackR Bravo coin-sized tracking devices to track whatever needs to be found. Attach the tracker to something valuable, connect the app on a smartphone and, then, when the item of value is missing, it can be found via the app's locate button. Further, consider the KeyCatch Magnetic Key Hangers to replace the lower standard screw of any light switch plate with a super-strong magnet that holds even heavy keychains so your gift recipient can always find those vital keys.

- For the travelers on your gift recipients' list, Lay-n-Go offers products for hauling around toiletries, cosmetics, technology accessories and Legos alike. Likewise, the Everything ORGO Expandable Travel Organizer provides a whole system to organize and keep track of makeup, toiletries, jewelry and more that fits securely over your sink to conserve counter space.

- For folks who travel most via plane, consider the TAB Seatback Pocket Organizer from Walter + Ray to keep what's needed at your recipient's fingertips while on a long flight. Further, make the trip a little cozier with the easy-carry travel blanket from The Container Store that is ultra-soft as well as lightweight and comes packed in a zippered, jersey-knit pouch. I'm considering this blanket as perfect for an upcoming football game in Annapolis, MD.

- For folks who travel regularly and need help sleeping in hotels or on planes as well as those who have streetlights seeping into their bedrooms, shut-eye sleep mask from Madewell can help.

- If your gift recipient travels most often via automobile, consider a JunoJumper portable battery pack with enough power to jumpstart most 4- or 6-cylinder cars (or mobile devices) via 12 volts and 300 amps, all in a pack roughly the size of a cell phone. Plus, no need for extra cables as JunoJumper comes with its own.

- Whether you are gifting a guy or a gal, it's vital to be prepared, and the minimergency kits from Pinch Provisions provide many tools necessary for life's little emergencies. Better yet, look to the states of emergency kit for "personal care that meets local flair".

- Speaking of preparedness, the right tools are the key to staying safe during a storm or power outage, and Eton Emergency Preparedness Tools provide an arsenal of innovative safety gear to survive difficult situations. Choose between the Blackout Buddy and Scorpion II Multi-Function Emergency Radio to best prepare your gift recipient for whatever issues might arise.

- The PocketMonkey will become the go-to tool for anyone to whom you gift it! This 12-in-1 tool fits in any wallet, is as thin as a credit card, is built of unbendable stainless steel and is TSA-compliant. Or consider the Micro Plus EX Hand Tool to have one tool for pliers, wire cutter, wire stripper, wire crimper, bottle opener, flat screwdrivers and Phillips screwdrivers.

- The Classic Leather Front Pocket Wallet from Rogue Industries provides advantages over traditional, back-pocket wallets in that it's safer to carry your billfold in the front, and puts less stress on your back, allowing for comfortably carrying cash and cards alike.

- Everyone appreciates a pair of comfortable sneakers to wear everywhere, and Allbirds uses the amazing qualities of merino wool to minimize odor, regulate temperature and wick away moisture in sneakers that feel like clouds on your feet. Or you could gift a subscription to the "sneaks of the quarter club" so your recipient gets a curated mix of the best apparel and shoes from Adidas every 3 months through Adidas Avenue A.

- Personalized gifts don't have to include the recipient's initials or name; instead, highlight one of your loved one's favorite places with laser cut street maps from CutMaps. Try a campus map for a recent college graduate, the city where he grew up or the place a couple got married. The stainless steel design comes already framed so all you have to do is wrap it, and, at 5" x 7", each map is just the right size to sit atop a desk or on one's entry foyer table.

- Whether your little one is a fan of Batman™, Darth Vader™, Spider-Man™, unicorns, princesses or critters, Pottery Barn Kids offers a bath wrap option that doubles as a towel and a cover-up.

Since it is hard to go wrong with gift cards and gift certificates, consider Gyft to buy, send, organize and redeem eGift cards while the Yiftee app will let you send certificates for what's local to any recipient via text or email message.

I recommend culling together all your gift-giving ideas, what you've bought for whom, where each present is stored and whether it has been wrapped thus far. Evernote provides an excellent option to organize those details amidst all the other information you must remember; however, if you are seeking an app designated to tracking your gift-giving activities, The Christmas List, GiftPlanner and Santa's Bag are really fabulous iOS alternatives while Gift List Manager and Christmas List Snowball are great Android options, and Christmas List works cross-platform. Which will you try?

Above all, though, realize we are still 2 weeks from Christmas so there is time to pull together all the loose ends. Take a deep breath, remember to take care of yourself amidst the craziness and start breaking the big projects down into manageable action items.

Finally, if you are shopping in stores, you can compare prices with the Bakodo app; alternatively, if you are shopping online, use the Honey browser extension to find ways of saving money instantly.

What gifts do you have in mind to help your loved ones boost productivity while taming technology or limiting clutter? What tools do you currently utilize in your own work-life integration efforts? What are your go-to gifts that are functional for folks? I am always looking for more and would love your ideas!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Do You Look to Squeeze Every Minute Out of the Day?

Has it really been over 8 months since my last post to the Tips To Organize For Success blog? Yes, I took a bit of a hiatus from blogging, investing that time in making sure Organize for Success, LLC is growing effectively and efficiently to best meet the needs of my clients while making the greatest impact on improving this world. To make sure my company is moving in the right direction, I'd love your feedback (and your referrals) as you see the following best fitting into your life and your loved ones' lives.

The vision statement for Organize for Success, LLC is to "Make life efficient for time-crunched leaders" while its mission statement is "Maximize work / life solutions for meaningful results with your very limited time." Since we are gifted only 1,440 minute each day, it is imperative that each of us invest every minute as best we can to achieve our current priorities in each domain of our lives: work or school, home or family, community or society and the private realm of mind, body and spirit. Although we cannot achieve complete success in all domains at one time, harmony is possible as we work to have each domain complement the others.

Life is fluid, meaning there is an ebb and flow to our priorities. At some points in life, our emphasis might be more on work or school while, at other points, our emphasis is more on home or family. The key is to adjust our organizational systems, workflow processes, technological tools and general approaches to getting things accomplished accordingly so we best address the most important goals for each specific moment in the cycle of life.

In fulfilling this mission statement and working towards this vision, I partner well with several types of folks, which are detailed below:

  • Time-crunched, high achievers who want to squeeze every minute out of each day.
  • Overwhelmed managers who have more deadlines than hours or days to get it all accomplished.
  • Teams that need tools and technology to better collaborate for attaining loftier goals and desired results.

As my business continues growing and I near Organize for Success' 10th anniversary, I've revamped my packages, expanded my eBooks, added a self-paced online video course and renewed my emphasis on speaking engagements nationwide to share more useful tidbits with a greater portion of those needing my help.

When you think about your own productivity and how you handle each day's limited time, with what do you struggle the most? Where do you feel like you are losing time or being inefficient?