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Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

Week 10 – Desk Management – Celebrate an Organized Workspace (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on October 31, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Clare Kumar Writes About Organize Your Desk Day – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 15, 2010

By Clare Kumar

In a study commissioned by Professional Organizers in Canada, 7 in 10 Canadians who work say their workplace is disorganized, and disorganized Canadians report feelings of stress, frustration, and failure.

Organize Your Desk Day, a yearly event on the third Thursday of Small Business Week, brings focus to the need for order in the workplace to indeed boost productivity, but also to improve disorganized Canadians’ peace of mind.

If you’ve been reading along over the past 10 weeks as we have journeyed the path to greater order, you’ll be celebrating an organized desk right now or be well on your way. Congratulations! Please feel free to share your story on http://www.facebook.com/organizeyourdeskday. If not, I invite you to read through the previous posts to begin to create order in your workspace.

A messy desk may be the most obvious sign of disorganization; it is, however, not the only indication. If you notice any of the following signs of disorganization, consider sharing what you have learned or passing along this series of articles to encourage others to become more organized and more productive. Disorganization not only affects the individual’s work, it affects others – both colleagues and customers.

In addition to a messy desk, the following are signs of a disorganized approach to work:

1. Losing time hunting for misplaced items
2. Being late or missing appointments
3. Missing deliverables or submitting incomplete or unprofessional work
4. Not spending time on the most important tasks
5. Suffering a work-related repetitive strain injury

The impact of a disorganized approach to work includes:

1. Lower overall productivity and/or working longer hours
2. Lack of credibility within the company and with customers
3. Job dissatisfaction and other negative feelings
4. Lack of career growth
5. Absenteeism from stress or injury

Getting organized is not about moving from procrastination to perfection. It is about being the most productive person you can be. A sense of achievement is indeed what drives many of us. There is research to suggest happy people are more productive people. I suggest the reverse is also true – productive people are more satisfied people.

Now, what will you spend all that extra time on?

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Week 10 – Desk Management – Maintaining an Organized Workspace (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on October 30, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Clare Kumar Writes About Organization – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 14, 2010

By Clare Kumar

Now that your office is set up for success, is your organizing work done? Well, if nothing changed, maybe, but our lives are always changing – we all know change is the one thing we can count on. So, here are four tips to keep things organized no matter what comes your way.

1. Review regularly

Regular practices like committing junk mail to the recycling bin as soon as it arrives will help you achieve and maintain order. Scheduling daily organizing activities such as clearing your desk at the end of every day and planning your schedule the night before is also critical to sustaining an organized space.

Still, materials accumulate and become outdated, and over time we may relax our commitment to staying organized. Approach your workspace with a fresh perspective at least once per quarter to make sure systems that were effective previously continue as a foundation for your success. If not, tweak or redesign your organizing systems and storage requirements as necessary.

Go through your files and archived information and determine if you still need to keep them. If you have marked a “keep until” date on your files, this will be an easy exercise.

Certainly, if a storage system or your calendar becomes cluttered, don’t delay in creating time in your schedule to tackle the issue. Create a strategy and tactics to make short work of the organizing dilemma and put you back on the path to maximum productivity.

2. Adapt for new work

If your work or responsibilities change, use it as a cue to review the material you keep on hand. Cull or pass on what you no longer need. It’s a good time to let go of the old to make room for the new.

To take that thought one step further, if you’re stuck in your role and seeking a change, the physical act of creating space in your office can often make room for new opportunities.

3. Modify for new people

Not everyone thinks and works in the same way, so if you find a current system is no longer effective, review it to make sure it will work for the majority of users. This is especially true if your boss changes. Figure out the most effective way to communicate with your boss and you’ll be more productive in the end.

4. Think twice before allowing incoming

One of the easiest ways to keep things in order is to be judicious about what enters your workspace. So, before signing up for a new newsletter or subscription, before picking up another brochure, or even before sending an email, consider the impact on your limited resources – time, space and energy.

Coming up next in the series: Celebrate an organized workspace

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Week 10 – Desk Management – 6 Strategies for a Successful Home Office (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on October 29, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Clare Kumar Writes About Successful Home Office Spaces – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 13, 2010

By Clare Kumar

We’ve covered a wealth of material in this series which is applicable to any office, but working from home presents unique challenges. Numerous stats show productivity gains of 15% or more through working from home. Why is it then that some people can work successfully from home but others say they simply can’t? The foundation to work successfully from home comes with planning an effective workspace and developing appropriate work practices.

Here are six strategies you can implement to ensure productive work from home:

1. Pay as much attention to creating your home office as you would an office in a traditional work environment

Identify the tasks you need to accomplish and determine the work surfaces, storage, and tools you need to support those tasks. Invest in ergonomic equipment to keep you working safely – this includes among other things your chair, keyboard and mouse, keyboard tray, monitor stands and footrests. Be mindful that the least expensive office tools are not necessarily the best value if they don’t function the way you need them to, or you end up replacing them more often.

2. Set boundaries

It is important to create physical boundaries to preserve your ability to work in a focused manner. This may mean repurposing a room with a closed door to create a quiet environment.

If your work area is carved out from an area used by others, define times in which you cannot be disturbed. I work from a home office and if working on the weekend, I communicate to the family the period of time that I may disturb for “emergencies only”.

One hazard of working from home is the proximity of work compelling you to attend to it 24/7. Creating physical and time boundaries will help you keep your work and home commitments from encroaching upon each other.

3. Light it up

Lighting in home offices is often overlooked. Be realistic about the amount of time you will spend working in your office and your need for natural light. Take this into account when choosing where to place your workstation.

4. Create a schedule

It can be daunting to have a whole day in front of you without a clear schedule. Create a daily or weekly schedule around the different kinds of work you do –varying tasks within each day. Use a wall calendar or planner to keep your plan easy to refer to. This will help avoid distraction from at-home to-dos.

One of the benefits of working from home can be fitting in home tasks in short breaks throughout the day. If managed carefully you return to work refreshed and satisfied at getting a jump on dinner or laundry. Working from home allowed me to hang laundry outside all summer long, saving me money and better preserving my clothes!

5. Build community

One of the joys of working in an office in the sense of community that comes from working with others. To make sure you get social interaction schedule office visits (good for keeping in sight and therefore in mind) or appointments away from home at least 2-3 days every week.

6. Stay active

You’ll save commute time by working from home so invest at least part of this time in staying physically active. Find a gym nearby or an exercise companion and combine your social time with a healthy lifestyle. A quick trip to the gym at lunchtime will boost your energy and help you attack the afternoon with vigour.

Coming up next in the series: Maintaining an organized workspace

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Desk management – 5 steps on how to organize your desk (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on October 28, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Clare Kumar Writes About Organizing Your Desk Space – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 12, 2010

By Clare Kumar

We’ve covered the theory behind getting organized, but what about the practical side? How do you go from a cluttered to calm desk space? The following 5 steps show you how:

1. Commit

Set aside 30 minutes to tackle the re-organization of your desktop. Once space has been redefined, it will take much less time to clear at the end of each workday.

2. Clear

File any papers, folders or reference material. Recycle or shred any unimportant papers.

Set aside – perhaps in a bag or box – items to be returned to others, or taken home.

Use a box – perhaps the one copy paper is delivered in – and place in it all the remaining items from your desk.

3. Cull

As you place items in the box, edit your supplies. Get rid of pens and markers that don’t work or that you simply don’t like using. Throw out dried up glue sticks. Let go of the three jammed staplers that you think might work one day and replace them with one that does.

Keep only one each of basics such as tape or glue at your desk, and place backups in a supply cabinet.

Take a closer look at all the awards and office trinkets you have accumulated. It is alright to let them go if they are taking up valuable desk space.

If you like to keep photos in your office, consider mounting them on the wall, or changing to a digital photo frame to reduce their footprint.

4. Categorize

Sort the items into two groups – those which should remain with your desk and those that can be placed elsewhere.

Store the items you use most often close at hand. The less often you use something, the more you can afford the time it takes to retrieve it. If you’re not sure what you’re using, place your supplies into a shoe box. Each time you use an item, retrieve it from the shoe box and put it back in your drawer. If after a week you haven’t used an item it may not need to be by the desk, in fact, you may not need it at all!

5. Repeat

Overhauling your desk area once in awhile is a good idea to pare down to your essential supplies. It will make it easier to clear your desk at the end of every day, enabling you to start each day with a sense of control.

If you have a clear desk policy for security reasons, it is critical to establish good habits so that files are in order when you need them rather than being stashed away quickly.

Coming up next in the series: Organizing the Home Office

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY; on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Desk management – 5 ways to control desk clutter (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on October 27, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Clare Kumar Writes About Desk Management – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 11, 2010

By Clare Kumar

Even with papers tidied and files put away, desktops can appear busy because of computers and the many peripherals and accessories we use. Here are 5 ways to reduce desktop disarray:

1. Wireless Peripherals

Use wireless computer accessories such as the keyboard and mouse to eliminate cords from the desktop.

Adopt a cordless phone with a headset to reduce the phone’s footprint, increase comfort during use and reduce cord clutter. It also frees both hands to use your keyboard and input notes directly to the computer.

2. USB Hubs

If you connect a number of devices such as a printer, scanner, camera, smartphone, or hard drive to your laptop, simplify the process by using a USB hub. A hub allows you to connect several USB cables into a central connector, and from there provides one connection to the computer. It’s much faster to unhook one connection and it also permits moving multiple cords away from your main workspace.

3. Cord Management

Speaking of cords, there are a number of products designed specifically to tame the tangle of electrical cords and USB cables. A simple way to manage, however, is to

a) Label each end of the cord or cable with its function (i.e. printer). The 6mm size label works perfectly on the side of USB connections and plugs.

b) Use twist ties to gather and secure any slack in the cable. Re-use the black twist ties that come with most electronics and you won’t even notice them.

c) Attach several cables together with Velcro® fasteners.

4. Screen Supports

Use a laptop stand to raise the screen to a more comfortable viewing height and reduce the amount of space it takes on your desk. Monitor stands with built-in storage make the desktop more efficient. Monitor’s arms provide the utmost flexibility by clamping to the edge of the desk and swinging right out of the way.

5. Drawer Organizers

To maximize the storage space in your desk drawers, use drawer organizers to segment the space based on the material you need to store. Purchase organizers designed for the purpose or fashion your own dividers from greeting card or other shallow boxes.

Coming up next in the series: 5 Steps on How to Organize Your Desk

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY; on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones.Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Desk management – 5 items that really belong at your desk (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on October 26, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Clare Kumar Writes About Desk Management – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 10, 2010

By Clare Kumar

Here we are, 8 weeks after beginning this series on organizing your workspace, finally talking about how to organize your desk. We have covered space planning, ergonomics, time management and information management before getting to the desk – the most used space.

Why? To have an uncluttered desk space that lets you focus on your work task by task, you need to have a place or a strategy to handle everything that might land there. Only then is it possible to clear your desk without causing chaos?

Take a look at your desk – you may see amongst the screens and wires an assortment of office supplies, papers, sticky notes, a snack or drink, files, calendars, a telephone, a lamp, and a planner for example. We have already reviewed how to store items that may accumulate on your desk while you work, but which of these really ought to be there?

The following 5 items are truly worthy of your desk real estate:

1. Task lighting and the telephone

Make space on your desk for task lighting – preferably on the opposite side of the hand you write with to avoid casting shadows across your writing. This is also the ideal place for a telephone, as it facilitates note-taking while you’re talking, and keeps the cord from interfering with your work.

2. Filing supplies

Keep the materials you use to label and file or store material close at hand – you’ll be more likely to put things away regularly and avoid a paper pile up. File folder labels and a fine marker work well to label file folders. Binders, hanging file dividers and magazine holders are best labeled with a thicker marker or a label maker for greater clarity.

3. Electronic Devices

You’ll want to keep your mobile phone accessible and likely charging while on your desk. Use stands or charging centres to keep devices close by and protected from spills. Keep cords and charging units for less often used devices in a nearby drawer or in a container within a cabinet or on a shelf.

4. Planner or notebook

Have a planner or notebook handy to jot down important numbers and phone conversations. This will prevent the loss of important information and reduce visual clutter. If you need to see notes to remember them, attach them to a board on the wall to keep desk space clear.

5. Basic office supplies

Keep handy only the writing instruments and office supplies you enjoy or are required to use at least weekly.

For other items, you’ll need to decide if the item really needs to be on the desktop based on how often you use them. If you use them frequently, find containers and desk accessories that fit both the items and space.

If desk space is limited or you need the full surface to complete your work, you’ll want to store office supplies in drawers, in containers in nearby cabinets or in a rolling drawer unit. Keep in mind a common cause of office clutter is inadequate or poorly used drawer space.

Coming up next in the series: Desk Management – 5 Ways to Control Desk Clutter

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY; on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones.Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Week 8 – Information Management: Tips – Time Saving Tools (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on October 25, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Clare Kumar Writes About Managing Time – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 8, 2010

By Clare Kumar

New features have been designed into data storage supplies to make them easier to use and to save you time. Take a look at your data storage processes and especially for any that are repeated often, consider feature-rich quality tools for a smoother, more efficient experience.

Here are a few of my recent favourites:

Sheet Protectors

Perfect for preserving important papers, the average sheet protector opens at the top and can be somewhat fiddly to use when inserting documents. If you want fast and easy access and a clean look you’ll want to try the Wilson Jones EasySnap™ Sheet Protector for its two-sided opening and uncluttered appearance.

Easy to use Staplers and Hole Punches

If you often collate documents or prepare binders, consider the Swingline® Optima® 40 Reduced Effort Stapler and the Swingline® Optima® Low Force Punch, both designed for repeated use with less effort. The stapler requires 50% less effort than a traditional stapler and has the capacity for 40 sheets to easily accommodate a variety of projects. Comfort is increased through the thoughtful addition of a soft grip surface.

Index Tabs

Wilson Jones® View-Tab® Transparent Dividers make fast work of indexing a binder. Simply write the headings on the back cover sheet and view them through the clear tabs. There is no longer a need to create a label for each tab. Online customizable templates are also available online at http://www.wilsonjones.com.

Coming up next in the series: Desk Management

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Week 8 – Information Management: Afraid of Your Inbox? 5 Tips For Email Efficiency (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Radio Podcasts, Technology, travel, Video Work, Writing (all kinds) on October 24, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Clare Kumar Writes About Organizing Your Email Inbox – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 6, 2010

By Clare Kumar

One of the most common frustrations in today’s work environment is the volume of email. I commonly hear reports of between 100-200 emails a day and inboxes with thousands of unread emails. Coupling email with portable devices creates the expectation of an immediate response – a pressured system.

Here are 5 tips to help you take control of your inbox and boost your email efficiency.

1. Unsubscribe

Be judicious about signing up for email newsletters. Just as with traditional magazines, if you’re not reading the articles, do you really need the subscription?

2. Use rules

To keep your inbox uncluttered, consider applying rules to direct emails to specific folders. This works well for the non-urgent material you wish to read or process later.

Paying attention to how you craft an email may take a bit more time upfront but will save you and your readers’ plenty. Do these three things every time and set an excellent email example.

3. Title meaningfully

Create a title that will quickly communicate the topic and help the reader find it again if necessary. Use a project name, for example, followed by a subtopic. When replying, append or modify the title to refer to your additional content.

4. Address purposefully

The “To:” category should include everyone you require a response from. Including them in the “Copy:” section conveys a “for your information only” feeling and your request may be missed.

5. Organize content

Communicate the purpose of the email and what you need from the reader concisely at the start. Use formatting to make it easier to read the meat of the message. Consider bolding dates and underlining actions.

The more email you send, the more you are likely to receive, so stop and think before hitting the send button. I’d love to hear how you cope with email – please share your inbox insights.

Coming up next in the series: Information Management Tips – 3 Simple Steps to Manage Your Contacts

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Week 8 – Information Management: 3 Simple Steps To Manage Your Contacts (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on October 23, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Clare Kumar Writes About How to Manage Your Contacts – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 5, 2010

By Clare Kumar

In business, it’s often said that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. But, what good is that if you struggle to organize and manage your contact information?

True, we now have more opportunity to find contacts through social media sites such as Linked In, Facebook, and Twitter, but it’s still important to develop a smooth process to keep your contact information current and easily accessible.

Here are 3 steps for simple and effective contact management:

Collect the cards

Gather and store newly acquired business cards in one place. Hint – The box that your business cards came in makes a perfect container.

Select a contact management system

Electronic address books capture detailed contact information and enable sorting and finding contacts quickly. Search by name, company, title, city, and any word you choose to add in the notes section. The ability to easily backup contacts provides peace of mind.

Business card holders – binders or folders with pockets for business cards are helpful if you recall information because of visual cues found in the company branding or a photograph. To make it easier to find a specific contact use index tabs within the binder to group like contacts.

Rolling card holders make it easy to add cards and preserve alphabetical order. Take care to file the contact information as you would expect to search for it, for example by profession instead of by name or company name.

Regularly add contact information to your address book/card storage system

Enter business card contact information into your address book or business card holders in batches for greatest efficiency. Make sure to include any notes you have made on the cards when entering information electronically.

Add contact information appearing in emails to your online address book as it comes in. Copy and paste all relevant information from the email signature.

If business cards often pile up, be sure to schedule the time to process them regularly, especially after networking events, conferences or trade shows. Card scanning tools and mail-in services are available if you’re looking to improve processing speeds or delegate the task.

Coming up next in the series: Information Management – Time Saving Tools

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Program a model for early childhood education

In Beauty, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on October 22, 2010 at 4:00 AM

New Brunswick Program is Helping Children – Photo Courtesy of Dreamstime.com

RICHIBUCTO, NB, Oct. 16 /CNW/ – La Boussole, Centre de la petite enfance et de la famille de Richibucto inc. celebrated its official opening today in Soleil Levant School. Elected officials and community leaders from business, culture, health, and education joined children, their parents and caregivers to tour this unique “one-stop” location for children from birth through Grade 8.

La Boussole (“The Compass”) is one of nine early childhood demonstration sites in the province. Its team of staff delivers programming to parents and children including full- and part-time child care, parent and child playgroups, immunization clinics and healthy lifestyle programs integrated with school-based services.

The school location was chosen because it is familiar to parents and helps facilitate the transition to school for young children. The concept is based on the latest national and international research of best practices in early childhood service delivery. New Brunswick is one of the first provinces in Canada to test integrated service delivery as a way to improve supports for parents and young children.

“The early years are the most important years and quality of care that a child experience in their first years has a direct effect on their ability to succeed later in life. That is why we are committed to working with New Brunswickers to make quality early learning and childcare more accessible, more affordable, and more inclusive,” said Claude Williams, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Minister representing Jody Carr, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development.

La Boussole serves Acadian and Francophone families in Kent County as well as English speaking families who want their children to attend a French school. Michèle Doiron Campbell, Vice President of La Boussole and the mother of two preschoolers welcomes the strong linguistic and cultural identity the program offers.

“Minority francophone children often do not have the opportunity to acquire pre-literacy skills in French before they start school. This centre will help children build a strong linguistic foundation for their ongoing learning and development.”

The Margaret and Wallace McCain Family Foundation has partnered with the Government of New Brunswick to support the development and evaluation of the demonstration sites. The Health and Education Research Group (HERG), based out of UNB and l’Université de Moncton, is conducting the evaluation.

“Our goal is to demonstrate the profound payoffs that public investment in education and development targeted toward our youngest children can have,” says Foundation chair, the Honourable Margaret Norrie McCain. “Research tells us early childhood programs that are partnered with public education and encourage the involvement of parents and the community excel in fostering creative thinking, confidence, and leadership among children, educators and parents. These skills benefit the entire community.”

Painting of Black Woman with Afro embodied by a Rose and Based in Water is Art

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on October 21, 2010 at 3:00 AM

Donna Kakonge\’s Painting – Photo Courtesy of Donna Kakonge

IMG_0007

After the Caribana Exhibit in July, I contacted Joan Butterfield, the curator to congratulate her on the exhibit.

She invited me to submit to their next exhibit when I expressed a personal interest in art. I had the paints and 30 X 40 canvasses ready according to the submission guidelines and the deadline to submit is May 2011. I painted the picture above to prepare for the 2011 Caribana Exhibit.

The painting is on a 20 X 30 stretched canvas and is a black woman with an afro, surrounded by a red rose with two different bodies of water. Above the afro in some of the corners are flashes of yellow. Below are flashes of orange just above the crimson red rose. The body of water to the left is dark, rich blue. The body of water to the right is about three shades lighter. It took me three days to do this painting.

First, I sketched the outline using sharpies. This was on the first day and my arms were in pain at times, so I needed to take breaks. The following day, I used oil pastels to fill in the colour. I discovered that you really need to paint hard with the used oil pastels I was using; almost as though I would be painting the walls in the house my father lives in now. This was a different kind of painting.

On the final day, I added the definition with the lines under the eyes, the eyebrows, the nose, accented the lips and defined the eyelashes. I also was aiming to add more texture to the canvas, unlike what I had helped to do with my father’s walls, and added more paint to all of the colours to give a thickness to the appearance.

Dewey (1934) says impulsions start from a need and are the beginning of artwork in a given environment. Dewey (1934) goes on to explain that the experience of art is a high form of the human experience. I felt a great need to do this painting when I saw Toni Daley’s “Blame it on Boogie” at the Caribana Exhibit. Her painting is of a nude black woman, framed from the chest up and encased in light and dark shadows and reminds one of the disco eras and dancing from dusk until dawn. I decided that with my piece I wanted to make a statement along the lines of how Daley’s piece impressed me, by bringing beauty to the afro, however by replacing the body with a rose, deemphasizing the importance of the size or shape of the body. The rose replacing the body to me was as beautiful, as naturally sweet-smelling and sometimes thorny as we grow older, as the body can be (Springgay, 2008).

Dewey (1934) discusses how the impulsion goes through many obstacles and challenges once out of the body (Dewey, 1934). Challenges include whether there is an audience for it? Worries about how it will be perceived? In this case, I received many favourable comments from friends and family.

hooks (2000) says that many black people do not see the visual arts as important in the struggle of black folks, they instead turn to the media arts. Is my art currently hanging in my bedroom changing the world? Is it causing people to think differently? This is what the artwork of Mierle Ukeles does with her mechanical, industrial and environmental artwork (Oregon Public Broadcasting, 1997). My artwork started a surge of the participants in my online course expressing themselves artistically.

I took three photos of the painting and I posted them up for participants in my politics of black hair online course. I received some favourable comments. It encouraged a discussion about art, as well as some participants searching for other artistic material to add to the online course content, such as poetry by Una Marson Kinky Hair Blues (1931). It also encouraged the daughter of one of the participants to agree to have her poem Do You Hair Me? (Oshibajo, 2006) posted up on the course content. As well, Remi Oshibajo gave me permission to use her poem for my dissertation.

Dewey (1934) notes that the purpose of art is to create more order and unity – this is exactly what my art accomplished through my online politics of black hair course which had at that time in late August about 24 active participants. The majority of the participants are black females that feel positively about natural black hair. Abreu (2009) expresses what he has managed to create through the art of music with his youth orchestra in South America. My online course started in July of 2010 and I have already seen participants getting jobs and feeling the inspiration to create their own jobs, as well as express their creativity. It is an ideal environment for the participants to feel safe to express themselves.

As Dewey (1934) goes on to say, I felt a great feeling of happiness at the completion of the work of art. It was difficult however during the process, as I know the creation process I am most familiar with when it comes to writing.

This painting is an expression of my light (Lorde, 1968/1984). It a creation out of my soul and represents my magic within. It has been shared with others and well received. It is indeed art.

References

Abreu, José. (2009). On Kids Transformed by Music. TED Talks. [Video].
Butterfield, Joan. (2010). From the Soul COLOURblind 2010 Royal Ontario Museum. [Art Exhibit].
Dewey, John. (1934/2005). Art as Experience. New York: Perigee [AE].
hooks, bell. (2000). Art is for everybody. In D. Chasman and E. Chian (eds.), Drawing us in, (pp. 96-104). Boston: Beacon.
Lorde, Audre. (1968/1984). Poetry is Not a Luxury. In Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, (pg. 36-39). New York: Norton, Quality Paperback Book Club.
Marson, Una. (1931). Kinky Hair Blues. Kingston: Gleaner.
Oregon Public Broadcasting. (1997). A World of Art: Works in Progress. Annenberg Media Initiative. Mierle Ukeles.
Oshibanjo, Remi. (2006). Do You Hair Me? The Politics of Black Hair Online Course. July 19, 2010 to present.
http://affiliate.kickapps.com/_Do-You-Hair-Me/blog/2631461/107952.html
Springgay, Stephanie. (2008). Body knowledge and curriculum: Pedagogies of touch in youth and visual culture. NY: Peter Lang.

Painting Black Woman with Afro embodied by a Rose and Based in Water is Not Art

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on October 20, 2010 at 3:00 AM

Donna Kakonge\’s Painting – Photo Courtesy of Donna Kakonge

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I tried to get my artwork displayed at One Love, a vegetarian restaurant northwest of Bathurst and Bloor in Toronto; however, another artist had already reserved the space.

The same artist has a mural on the outside wall of the building where the restaurant is of tropical birds and an environmental scene. This sets up the dynamic where if what I do is art is compared and contrasted with other artists. Obviously, according to the restaurant owner, I did not measure up to the talents of the young mural artist, emphasizing the fact that beauty is in the eye of the beholder (Dewey, 1934). The restaurant is run by what I believe to be Rastafarians. Perhaps perception, however, I could sense from the owner of One Love that something depicting a black female may be something she thinks will turn away white patrons. She may be right since her restaurant brings a diversity of customers although the cuisine is uniquely Caribbean.
hooks (2000) says that many black people do not see the visual arts as important in the struggle of black folks, they turn to the media arts. For visual art representations of black folks in the public realm, there are few. Even the ROM showcases very few black faces, other than Nelson Mandela, in works of visual art. The artwork displayed in the regular exhibit of the ROM are mainly wooden carvings, displays of combs, bowls, and sculptures. Actually, paintings are scarce and the same is true at the AGO, as well as the galleries on West Queen St. West, as well as in the Distillery. So I ended up hanging up my work of art on my bedroom wall above my MacBook Pro laptop. I do not have a wide audience for it (Dewey 1934).

Again, Dewey (1934), discussing impulsion, I knew where I was going with the painting. I had it clearly planned out in my mind’s eye. I had been inspired by a painting by Toni Daley “Blame it on Boogie” that I saw at the Caribana Exhibit 2010. This too, would not make it art in Dewey’s perception.

I have not been formally trained in fine art. I took it in grade school and was always very good at it. I enjoyed it thoroughly. My background has mainly been in media arts.
My painting style is nothing like the refined, intricate and detailed sketchings of Japanese artists you see in the ROM. The very fact that the regular exhibit of the ROM does not contain a heavy visual art collection of African or Caribbean art, rather mostly wooden sculptures and textiles – does this mean I was not even born to be considered an artist at this place and time in society?

As Davis (2005) describes the fictional Octavia and her unaware whimsy while creating her art, I do not tend to operate as a child when producing my art. My “U’s” probably are adult-like, being trained for many, many years in the art of penmanship before computers, as well in the art of writing throughout my education and career. To Davis (2005), I may not be viewed as an artist, or what I produce to be artwork at all. As well, it does not sit prominently in a gallery such as the ROM or AGO. I highly doubt if Davis (2005) would view me to be an artist, or she would see the work that I do only benefit those of the group to which I belong to and unable to reach or affect others.
As Graham (1998) writes about the art of being a dancer, I do not train every day to be a visual artist. I taught a Dramatic Writing course at Ryerson University over the summer and there was a student in my class who would constantly sketch. She sketches all of the time, and also works as a court reporter in movies and does animation as part of her career. Unlike Graham or my former student, I have not ever made a single penny from what I can recall from my artwork.

When I was 6-years-old, a picture I did in grade 1 was put up at a hospital. This is the only time my artwork has had a public viewing. Perhaps to the public view, to the public eye and to my audience, my artwork has lost something as Davis (2005) states in Framing Education as Art.

References

Butterfield, Joan. (2010). From the Soul COLOURblind 2010 Royal Ontario Museum. [Art Exhibit].
Davis, Jessica. (2005). Framing Education as Art: The Octopus has a Good Day. New York: Teachers College Press.
Dewey, John. (1934/2005). Art as Experience. New York: Perigee [AE].
hooks, bell. (2000). Art is for everybody. In D. Chasman and E. Chian (eds.), Drawing us in, (pp. 96-104). Boston: Beacon.
Graham, Martha. (1998). I am a dancer. In The Routledge Dance Studies Reader, (pg. 66-71). New York: Routledge.

Royal Ontario Museum – “From the Soul”

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, travel, Writing (all kinds) on October 19, 2010 at 3:00 AM

Painting at From the Soul at the ROM – Photo Courtesy of TalkofToronto.com

 

Image result for Royal Ontario Museum

bell hooks say “taking our cues from mainstream white culture, black folks have tended to see art as completely unimportant in the struggle for survival” (hooks, 2000). From the looks of the number of people at the Caribana Exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) on July 22, 2010, this is changing.

Amongst the circle of couches my friend and I sat in, there were two older white men, a South Asian family, a black man with a white woman and a white lady who looked Italian sitting beside me. I looked up at one point and could see an Asian family standing, looking at the podium before the event actually started. The audience was as diverse as the Caribbean, with black people in the majority.

“When I think of the place of the visual in black life, I think most black folks are more influenced by television and movie images than by painting, sculpture and so on” (hooks, 2000). No one told us what to expect from the night’s event, however, we did have a pamphlet, almost like a TV guide in both of our hands featuring miniature versions of the pieces that were accepted for the exhibit. Toni Daley did a piece called “Blame it on Boogie” with a large afro and a black woman unclothed, framed to her bust and painted in shadows. It was a striking piece which illustrates the notion of dancing from dusk until dawn with both the moon and sunrise captured in the background. I found this piece particularly interesting because I am doing my dissertation on black hair politics in online education, which is a continuation of the research I began during my master’s degree at Concordia University in Montréal.

What does an artist look like? I was wearing a red shirt, a long flowing black jacket and flowing black pants with a yellow scarf. Many people were telling me I looked like an artist. I think the fact I had my hair out in an afro contributed to comments from many people that I looked like one of the artists. I ran into my dentist Dr. Kenneth Montague at the event, as well as a long-time friend Julie Crooks who I worked with briefly at the CBC, as well as on a documentary project for the NFB on Caribbean nurses. We all exchanged business cards, making the event also good for networking.

hooks quoting Painter Charles White: “without culture, without creative art, inspiring to these senses, mankind stumbles into a chasm of despair and pessimism” (hooks, 2000). The curator Joan Butterfield introduced all of the 37 artists selected to showcase at the Caribana Exhibit for this year. People joyfully applauded. Once the introductions were over, there were some speeches by some of the sponsors and then it was time for them to open the exhibit.

Once upstairs, there were ushers pointing in the direction of the showroom and there it was, hundreds of pieces of art showcased in a room of approximately 4,000 square feet. The first piece of art to the right was fantastic, done in mixed media and I really enjoy that form of art. It was really neat at first, feeling like being in a visual candy shop. My friend and I moved slowly through, wanting to take all of it in. The walls were packed with art, there was not enough space for all of the pieces and the usual rule of spacing out art to leave room for the experience was surpassed by the need to showcase all of the talents in the limited space of the ROM.

Now when I think about the politics of seeing – how we perceive the visual, how we write and talk about it – I understand that the perspective of which we understand art is determined by location (hooks, 2000).

About three-quarters of the way around the room, I started to feel really claustrophobic and over stimulated – with all of the people and the colour on the walls. I started to make a beeline for the exit with my friend in tow, agreeing with me that they crammed in too much art into too small a place.

Once we were outside of the building, it was kind of a relief. I think the best experiences of viewing art are when there is more physical space involved unless the art is taking place in a rural setting with the outdoors as a backdrop. Inside the ROM, there were just too many people there and too much art in one place. The combination turned out to be overwhelming; however, I was still very much inspired and impressed with the display.

References

Butterfield, Joan. (2010). “From the Soul” COLOURblind 2010 Royal Ontario Museum. [Art Exhibit].
hooks, bell. (2000). Art is for everybody. In D. Chasman and E. Chian (eds.), Drawing us in, (pp. 96-104). Boston: Beacon.

Week 7 – Information Management: Strategies – How To Deal With Incoming Information (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on October 18, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Clare Kumar Writes About Information Management – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 9, 2010

By Clare Kumar

We are increasingly inundated with mail, some of it very useful to us and critical to our successful performance, but much of it extraneous and distracting. To avoid feeling overwhelmed by the physical clutter of paper mail and the mental chaos of an abundance of electronic information, it is critical to systematically deal with each incoming piece. This means knowing how to process email, regular mail, faxes, information from trade shows, meeting notes and more.

The first step involves making a decision on how to treat a new piece when it comes in. I suggest there are only three real options, Do, Delete or Designate.

1. Do

This category includes incoming mail that requires an action, by you or a delegate. Set aside time each day for processing incoming mail incorporating time to address items which can be responded to quickly – in one or two minutes each.

It can be most productive to review email through a few scheduled periods throughout the day, such as mid-morning, after lunch and before the day’s end. If you start your day reviewing email try to avoid being sidetracked and derailing the plan you’ve made for your day. If you process mail as it arrives you run the risk of losing minutes of productive time as you switch between tasks.

For actions that can’t be taken immediately, add them to your to-do list and/or schedule them in your calendar. If it’s appropriate to delegate the task, do so as quickly as possible to give the assigned person more time to process the request.

For current projects, it can be helpful to have desktop file folders available to hold related materials. Desktop systems are easy to see which prevent you from forgetting about the action.

2. Delete

Be sure to follow privacy laws and corporate guidance to comply with information management and retention requirements what information to delete.

To avoid feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information you own and to ensure efficient use of storage space, it is important to delete items that you have completed and no longer need or that can easily be sourced again when needed.

Open paper mail near a recycling bin or shredder so you can discard or destroy unneeded pieces as you read them. Always shred anything containing sensitive or confidential information.

Unneeded electronic mail may also be discarded as it is read. If you have let emails accumulate, rather than processing them one by one which is very time to consume, considering batch deleting based on the age of the message or the sender.

3. Designate

Any item that you wish to easily find and use later must have a home. Figuring out where that home should be will depend on how you think about looking for the item. Your system for personal information management must be simple and easy to use so you can quickly put away an item the first time you review it. This will help to avoid information accumulating, having to handle the same piece several times and time lost searching for missing information.

Coming up next in the series: Information Management Strategies – 6 Tips to Turn Your Filing System into a Finding System

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Week 7 – Information Management: Strategies – 6 Tips To Turn Your Filing System Into A “Finding” System (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on October 17, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Clare Kumar Writes About Filing and Organization – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 8, 2010

By Clare Kumar

For incoming information that makes it past “delete”, systems are required to hold our active or “do” items and those we designate for reference. Filing systems are the most commonly used but unless set up effectively can quickly become cumbersome space hogs full of papers that are never referred to.

Follow these 6 tips to turn an ineffective filing system into an easy-to-use ‘finding’ system.

1. Create a simple filing hierarchy to store like items together

Rather than filling in categories labeled from A-Z, create categories based on the type of information you need to find together. Create subcategories as required. This will make it faster to find files and eliminate some of the guesswork if you forget exactly what you named the file.

Consider, for example, vehicle records you keep as part of your expenses. If you use an A-Z system, you might choose to file information related to the car under automobile, car, vehicle, or by the brand of car. Instead, create a category or folder called ‘Expenses’ and include the car file within in to make it easier to find.

Within each category, store files alphabetically or chronologically depending upon how you need to find them.

2. Use the same hierarchy for paper and computer files

Mirror the system in both paper and electronic environments so you don’t lose time adjusting between the two.

3. Develop a consistent naming methodology

It is important to be judicious and consistent when naming files and folders. If chronology is important, consider using the date in the beginning of the file name for computer files. Use the yyyy_mm_dd format and sort by date to have them appear in order.

Take time to include information needed to identify the file in the file name. This is especially important if you have multiple files with similar names.

4. Be selective about what you keep

The more files you keep, the more storage space they take up and the more energy is required to maintain and sort through them. If you’re not required to keep iterative work, delete draft versions and keep only the final product. Once per quarter edit the contents of your filing system and remove unneeded documents.

5. Keep active files easy to reach

Make sure your active folders are easy to access. You may choose to use desktop file holders to keep active paper files tidy, insight, and therefore top of mind.

Temporarily storing often-used folders on the computer desktop or at the top of the hierarchy can make them quicker to access.

Be sure to transfer active files and folders to their long-term home once a task or project is completed.

6. Make the physical filing system easy to use

Naming computer files is part of the saving process. When saving paper documents however you need to have a physical folder handy and a way to label it. Keep filing supplies well-stocked and at the ready so papers can be filed without delay.

If you are using file folders, use a label maker and sturdy hanging file folder labels for clear definition and easy recognition of major categories. For individual files, print clearly using a dark marker on a white label to make the title stand out, especially on coloured folders. If you use binders, make sure of the label holder on the spine to label the binder and indexes inside to keep your files sorted.

Coming up next in the series: Information Management Strategies – Ready Reference Material

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Week 7 – Information Management: Strategies – Reference Material At The Ready (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on October 16, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Clare Kumar Writes About Organization – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

week7-1option2

By Clare Kumar

Filing works well for storing some types of information but not others. Smaller papers can get lost, files can easily get out of order and they may not stand up to heavy use.

Consider including binder systems and magazine holders to provide additional options for your paper storage. Here are a few reasons to consider each:

1. Binder Systems

To set up a successful binder system, keep good quality supplies handy. These include a reliable 3-hole punch, index tabs, sheet protectors, binders in a variety of sizes and labeling material. Select a binder system for:

a) Durability

More durable than folders, good quality binders hold up to heavy usage. They are ideal when information is to be referred to often or by multiple users.

b) Storing and protecting random-sized papers

In combination with sheet protectors or pockets, binders offer more secure storage for smaller papers. Sheet protectors preserve documents and eliminate the need for a three-hole punch. Special pockets can be used to store business or credit cards.

c) Organizing information

Information in binders can be further divided for quick recognition with index tabs. Widths vary to handle regular hole-punched paper or wider sheet protectors. Consider how quickly you can label contents – especially if making multiple copies, and how durable the tabs are if they will be used regularly.

d) Storing information on bookshelves

If filing space is limited, bookshelves become ideal repositories through the use of binders. Have a variety of sizes on hand to suit the material being stored. Bigger is not always better. Especially if the binder will be referred to often, choose a size that makes it manageable to use. Men’s hands are generally bigger than women’s, so keep users in mind.

e) Making presentations

Binder and sheet protector systems work well if you need to present information to a small group of people. Built-in easels prop the binder up for easy display.

2. Magazine Holders

Often overlooked in offices, magazine holders are ideal for storing a variety of information in seconds. For an uncluttered look in an open space, keep the taller side of the holder facing out. For easy access or behind closed doors, use them with the shorter side facing out so you can easily pluck out an item. In both cases, label the exterior side for easy reference.

For more than just magazines or catalogues, consider using magazine holders for:

a) Odd-sized documents

Manuals for electronics and software can be kept together and out of sight in a magazine holder.

I’ve often seen piles of trade show material cluttering up offices as people wait for just the right time to review the material. Instead, use a magazine holder to corral all the flyers and brochures in one place. When you’re ready you can conveniently take the material to a comfortable spot to read and sort it.

b) Stationery

Magazine holders are ideal for group paper office supplies. Use them to keep presentation folders, envelopes and paper pads easy to access and free from damage.

c) Project files

Magazine holders are the quickest way to group like pieces of information. They can be used to organize files and materials by project or client.

Coming up next in the series: More Information Management Strategies and Time Saving Tools

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Week 6 – Time Management: Tips – 5 Time Saving Products (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on October 15, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Clare Kumar Writes About Products That Can Help You Organize – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 6, 2010

By Clare Kumar

There are numerous products on the market designed to help you use time more productively. Here are a few of my favourite time-savers:

Paper-Based Day Planners

While today’s electronic tools offer easy organization, sharing and portable storage, paper planners have several inherent advantages that make them ever-popular effective time management tools. Larger planners make it easy to keep your time management tools with meeting notes and other business materials. A week or month view in a paper-based planner can contain much more details than a similar perspective in a smartphone screen.

It is often faster to write an entry in a paper planner then enter it electronically, and some claim the physical act of writing a note or appointment can facilitate recall. With a paper planner, you also don’t have to worry about regular battery charging or carrying the related cables.

The Day-Timer® brand of paper-based planning systems has been around for decades. The concept was originally created by Morris Perkin, a lawyer who realized that he needed much more than a simple appointment calendar to be most productive, he needed a systematic way to manage his time. So he created one, combining the calendar with a reminder system, time record, diary, planner, organizer and list of contacts. Proving its effectiveness, results of a Bar Association study showed lawyers using the system earned 50% more than those who did not.

Day-Timer has evolved over the years to cater to all kinds of professions and personal styles. The system allows for terrific customization – by type of binding (loose leaf or wire-bound), by the size of the page (pocket to desktop), by format (the amount of space devoted to each day or week), and my style. Additional pages can be added in for to do lists, notes and memos, a work record, future appointments, expenses, and mileage records. Add in only what you use and keep all relevant information easy to access.

Combine support for a great cause and getting organized with the Day-Timer Pink Ribbon series. A portion of sales from each Pink Ribbon Set is donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Whiteboards and Bulletin boards

Keeping track of important goals and due dates is critical to success. Whiteboards and bulletin boards provide a convenient way to refer to and update such information and facilitate easy communication, planning, and organization.

Quartet® offers a variety of quality boards to fit different workspaces and organizing needs. Choose separate dry to erase and bulletin boards, or select a combination board when space is limited. Smaller models are designed to fit on cubicle boards.

Planning and calendar boards come in one to four-month models with some incorporating space for task lists. Magnetic boards facilitate easy attachment of paper notes to the surface.

A variety of finishes including wood, metal, cork, and foam are available to complement the style you have chosen in your workspace.

Compliment your whiteboard with EnduraGlide® Dry-Erase Markers. Thoughtfully designed, they include a cap that prevents the marker rolling away on you, and a transparent barrel so you can quickly see how much ink is left. There is also a system to ensure the consistent flow of ink so you don’t compromise the quality of your message as you run low on ink. Keep a set in your office, well away from any permanent markers so you don’t make an irreversible marker mistake!

Coming up next in the series: Information Management Strategies

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Week 6 – Time Management: Tips – 5 Ways to Use Time More Efficiently (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on October 14, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Clare Kumar Writes About Setting Priorities – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 5, 2010

By Clare Kumar

Since time management is the most common challenge to being organized, here are five more time management tips to boost your productivity:

1. Group similar tasks

Batch tasks of a similar type and you’ll accomplish more in less overall time. If moving from location to location, cluster appointments in one geographic area for the most efficient travel time.

2. Double up

Find two things to get done at once. Take a walk with a colleague or friend to marry physical activity with a work conversation or social time. Be careful not to combine tasks which compete for your focus – this could actually take you more time.

3. Protect your time

Create boundaries and communicate them to allow for undisturbed periods of work. A closed door or sign outside your office can work wonders.

4. Avoid distractions

Turn off alarms such as email notifications and position yourself in an environment which allows focus. Having specific objectives for each time period can help you stay on track. Use the internet purposefully to avoid being easily sidetracked.

5. Define your peak periods.

Most people have a particular period during the day when they feel most productive. Do your most challenging work when you feel most energized and alert. Avoid carbohydrate heavy meals at lunchtime which can induce drowsiness.

Coming up next in the series: More Time Management Tips

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Week 6 – Time Management: Tips – 5 Ways to Overpower Procrastination (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on October 13, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Clare Kumar Writes About Time Management – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 4, 2010

By Clare Kumar

A recent Leger Marketing survey commissioned by Professional Organizers in Canada reveals that of the 80% of Canadians who say they are disorganized, they appear to struggle most with their ability to organize time.

Procrastination is one of the leading saboteurs of effective time management. Here are five tips to help prevail over procrastination:

1. Get it over with

If you are dreading a certain task perhaps because it makes you uncomfortable (i.e. cold calling) or is challenging in some way, tackles it first thing. You will eliminate worrying about it and you’re guaranteed to savour the success throughout the rest of a very productive day.

2. Dangle a carrot

Rewards are great motivators. Promise yourself an experience you’ll truly enjoy upon completion of the task.

3. Beat the clock

Creating a sense of urgency can be an effective motivator. Set an alarm on your computer or watch and beat the timer. It’s amazing what you can get done when you add a little time pressure.

4. Partner up

Find a supportive partner who is also working on a goal. It doesn’t have to be similar to yours. Agree to discuss both your results at regular intervals. The fear of confessing may just keep you on track.

5. Track it

It takes time to create new habits. Pick one behaviour you want to change and draft a simple table to track not only whether you were successful or not, but how you felt about it. Do this every day for at least a month. This increased awareness will help to keep you focused on the change you wish to make.

Coming up next in the series: More Time Management Tips

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Week 5 – Time Management: Strategies – Three Tools to Manage Your Time (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on October 12, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Clare Kumar Writes About Tools to Help You Manage Your Time – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 3, 2010

By Clare Kumar

I read an article recently that suggested that the average worker uses 13 different time management tools. The most common tools fall within the following three categories:

1. To Do Lists

As discussed in the last article, I suggest creating master lists to capture personal and professional activities, most of which must be scheduled. Daily lists are helpful to keep you focused on immediate tasks. Make sure your lists can be referred to and updated with ease.

To do lists can be incorporated into paper planners work journals or notebooks. I recommend reserving several pages at the front or back of each book solely for to do lists so they are quick to find.

2. Planners and Calendars

Calendars exist in a huge variety of formats to visually portray the abstract passing of time. Traditionally, and still in use in many places, are monthly wall calendars which give a broad perspective of time and any upcoming events and deliverables. Wipe off versions make it easy to make changes.

Mobility drives the need for portable systems such as paper planners or personal digital assistants (PDA’s) and smartphones. Paper planners have been not only important time management tools but style statements in recent years.

The evolution to electronic calendars is not yet for everyone. Phone screens provide a reasonable account of a day’s activities but fall short of providing a detailed week view at a glance. Combinations of an electronic calendar and portable monthly calendars highlighting key dates can be very effective. Numerous phone-based applications are available and being developed to assist with prioritization and task management.

The number of people referring to a calendar must also be considered when choosing a time management system. Online calendars make it easy to share schedules between people. Privacy can be maintained by only making selective entries public. These solutions can work well for shared personal calendars in conjunction with the planning system you adopt for business.

3. Time Keepers

Watches and clocks are obvious timekeepers, but so are our electronic calendar systems with easy-to-program alarm systems to help us keep track of time. Alarms can be set at varying amounts of time in advance of meetings or due dates, helping not only to keep us on time but not lose track of upcoming deadlines.

Be wary, however, of potentially unnecessary alarms, such as email notifications, becoming a distraction.

Timekeepers can be such an important part of the way we live that we can even get attached to them. I rely on an old phone just for its soothing ‘Chi Gong’ alarm sound to wake me each morning.

Coming up next in the series: Time Management Tips

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Week 5 – Time Management: Strategies – Setting Priorities (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on October 11, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Clare Kumar Writes About Setting Priorities – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 2, 2010

By Clare Kumar

Just like space, time is a limited resource. In fact, most of us would say this is a resource under constant pressure. With so many demands on our time, it is easy to feel pulled in several directions and be unsure of what to focus on. Here are three strategies to help you invest your time wisely.

1. Know your priorities

Goal and objectives, whether personal or professional, are often defined annually. These, in turn, must be broken down into specific implementable activities.

When a new opportunity or commitment presents itself, use your objectives as a measuring stick to help you determine what to say yes to and what to decline. Incorporate those that further your goals – these are your priorities. Defer or decline those that don’t.

If you’ve got competing priorities, sometimes you simply have to say no to something worthwhile.

Write down your priorities to create a visual reminder that you and others can refer to often. Use a whiteboard or jot them at the front of a paper planner. Remember, out of sight is out of mind.

2. Plan your time around your priorities

To ensure you achieve your goals you must devote time to working on them. Not doing so leaves you open to sabotage by daily incoming obligations which may be urgent but less important.

Since there will always be unexpected and pressing issues, plan gaps in your schedule to accommodate them.

A week is an ideal amount of time to consider and make time for each of your personal and professional goals. Colour-code your calendar – one for each type of activity for a quick visual check on how you are spending your time. You may, for example, choose one colour for lead generation, one for client meetings, one for administration and others for social or exercise time. If you see one colour dominate, you may need to make a shift.

3. Review priorities regularly

You’ve often heard “the only thing constant in life is change”. Stop and review your goals, objectives, priorities, and performance at least once per quarter to make sure you’re indeed working on the things that move you towards your personal and professional goals. If not, adjust.

Coming up next in the series: Time Management: Strategies – 5 Ways to Master Your To Do List

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Week 5 – Time Management: Strategies – 5 Ways to Master Your To Do List (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on October 10, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Clare Kumar Writes About Organizing Your To Do List – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 1, 2010

By Clare Kumar

Our goals and objectives lead to numerous actions. Writing them down can help us make sure we don’t forget them, but is there a best way to do it? Here are three strategies to keep your To Do list under control:

1. Create master lists – one professional and one personal

Write down actions in one place so you know where to find them. It can be in a planner or notebook or on your computer or smartphone. Make sure it is in a place that can be carried with you and that you find easy to update.

Even though personal and professional time often extends throughout the day, schedule focused periods for work and home tasks. Keeping two separate lists – one for work tasks and one for a home to do’s – makes it easy to find tasks appropriate for the period of time you are scheduling.

2. Keep it simple

If you create an overly complex system to track to do’s you will be less likely to use it. The list should serve as a memory jogger or menu from which to plan your time. You may wish to note critical dates for required deliverables and any high priority or urgent items. Dry-erase calendars are easy to update and help you maintain a highly visible reference for dates you just can’t afford to forget.

3. Schedule

Schedule both activities (30 minutes or more) and deadlines in your planner. What about the myriad of shorter actions – responding to emails, returning phone calls, filing papers? Also, schedule a block of time to tackle short tasks. Refer to your task lists and select a reasonable number to attend to in this period of time. Write them directly in your planner if space allows, on a whiteboard or on a small index card or sticky note which you discard at the end of the day.

Be reasonable about the number of tasks you can accomplish in a day to avoid feelings of frustration and inadequacy. If you have unexpected gaps in your day, you can easily identify additional tasks to knock off your list.

Make it a habit to use these simple strategies and you’ll be well on your way to making the most of your time.

Coming up next in the series: Time Management: Strategies-Three Tools to Manage Your Time

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Week 5 – Time Management: Strategies – Setting Priorities (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on October 9, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Clare Kumar Writes About Time Management – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

week7-2option2

By Clare Kumar

Just like space, time is a limited resource. In fact, most of us would say this is a resource under constant pressure. With so many demands on our time, it is easy to feel pulled in several directions and be unsure of what to focus on. Here are three strategies to help you invest your time wisely.

1. Know your priorities

Goal and objectives, whether personal or professional, are often defined annually. These, in turn, must be broken down into specific implementable activities.

When a new opportunity or commitment presents itself, use your objectives as a measuring stick to help you determine what to say yes to and what to decline. Incorporate those that further your goals – these are your priorities. Defer or decline those that don’t.

If you’ve got competing priorities, sometimes you simply have to say no to something worthwhile.

Write down your priorities to create a visual reminder that you and others can refer to often. Use a whiteboard or jot them at the front of a paper planner. Remember, out of sight is out of mind.

2. Plan your time around your priorities

To ensure you achieve your goals you must devote time to working on them. Not doing so leaves you open to sabotage by daily incoming obligations which may be urgent but less important.

Since there will always be unexpected and pressing issues, plan gaps in your schedule to accommodate them.

A week is an ideal amount of time to consider and make time for each of your personal and professional goals. Colour-code your calendar – one for each type of activity for a quick visual check on how you are spending your time. You may, for example, choose one colour for lead generation, one for client meetings, one for administration and others for social or exercise time. If you see one colour dominate, you may need to make a shift.

3. Review priorities regularly

You’ve often heard “the only thing constant in life is change”. Stop and review your goals, objectives, priorities, and performance at least once per quarter to make sure you’re indeed working on the things that move you towards your personal and professional goals. If not, adjust.

Coming up next in the series: Time Management: Strategies – 5 Ways to Master Your To Do List

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Week 1 – Selecting Organizing Tools (Published on GetConnected.com)

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on October 8, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Clare Kumar Writes About Organizing Tools for Your Home Office – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 12, 2010

Organizing tools are critical to creating an efficient and effective workspace. Tools help us group like items together, identify and contain items for easy retrieval, and place items in the most comfortable position for use.

However, not all tools are created equal. It is important to consider how and where you will use an item to make sure you’re making the right investment. Sometimes a cheap solution can turn into an expensive one if it doesn’t solve the problem or hold up to use.

When deciding which tools, consider:

1. The purpose

Be very clear on the organizing problem you are trying to solve. For example, rather than just thinking “I need a place to store my paper documents”. Think about how you would like to refer to the information, how often and for how long. Identify how much information must be referred to at the same time. This might lead you away from traditional filing to selecting binders which keep information in sequence. You might consider adding page protectors to preserve documents.

2. How it will be used

If you’re purchasing a tool that will be used frequently, be used to invest in sturdy equipment. Everything from staplers and hole punches, to binders and drawer organizers, come in a variety of qualities and at different price points. I have seen many offices with broken stapler collections. Buy once and buy well.

3. Where it will be used

Before purchasing a tool, think of where it will ‘live’. If tools are difficult to retrieve and use they will often be ignored. It may mean taking the time to create space to store an item or a work surface for a specific activity.

One of the most common mistakes people make when organizing is shopping for organizing tools too early, before determining what will really work. Before investing in organizing tools, it is also important to understand the options available to you, your preferences, and the budget. The greater the investment, the more you want to be sure that you’re making the right choice.

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.
Filed Under: How-To
Tags: Acco, AccoOYDD, organize your desk day

THE HOTTEST PERFORMERS CHILDREN’S BOOK OF 2010

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Movie Reviews, Music, Opinion, Sports, Writing (all kinds) on October 7, 2010 at 8:00 AM

Dirk McLean is the Author of the Outstanding New Children's Book, Curtain's Up - Photo Courtesy of McClelland.com

Dirk McLean - October 7, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT:
Dirk McLean 416-494-9820

CURTAIN UP! A BOOK FOR YOUNG PERFORMERS, a children’s picture book by DIRK McLEAN with colourful illustrations by FRANCE BRASSARD has been published by Tundra Books in Toronto & Tundra Books of Northern New York.

Written by an author with extensive firsthand theater experience, Curtain Up! is a
must-have resource for young performers.

In Curtain Up!, a fiction picture book, Amaya has been chosen for the lead role in what will be her first professional play. Although she has acted before, she’s about to learn how much team effort and hard work is involved in putting on a show. Through Amaya’s journey, readers will experience the audition process, the many rehearsals, the costume fittings, the memory work, and the thrill of performance.

Dirk McLean, writer-actor, was born in Trinidad & Tobago. His autobiographical radio drama, The House on Hermitage Road, was produced by the CBC and subsequently published. McLean’s previous children’s books have garnered starred critical reviews: Steel Drums and Ice Skates (Groundwood Books) and Play Mas’! A Carnival ABC (Tundra Books), with promotions at Book Expo America, American Library Association, Book Expo Canada, Bookstores, and Libraries. McLean’s writing also extends to plays, screenplays, and memoir ghostwriting. He lives in Toronto.

France Brassard, the illustrator, has been fascinated by illustration since she received a tiny picture book in a Christmas stocking when she was a child. After studying both interior and graphic design, she became an illustrator in the 1990s. Brassard now has several books to her credit including Lily and the Mixed-Up Letters by Deborah Hodge and If I Had a Dog by Carolyn Jackson. She lives in Quebec.

“…the illustrator (Brassard) gives Amaya, who looks biracial, distinctive features and an appropriately big personality. McLean, an experienced actor, does tuck a case of stage fright and a few tricks for memorizing lines and the like into his brief, upbeat narrative.”
Kirkus Reviews, August 2010

Copies of Curtain Up! are available in your local bookstores from September 14.

Can. $19.99 / U.S. $17.95 Hardcover with Poster Jacket 40 pages
Ages: 6-8 Full-colour ISBN: 978-0-88776-899-6 www.tundrabooks.com
Canadian Distributor: Random House of Canada 1-888-523-9292

GET ONE FOR YOURSELF
GET ONE FOR A CHILD YOU CARE ABOUT

Donna’s Online Store Sale

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, cars, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Disability, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Movie Reviews, Music, Opinion, Pets, Radio Podcasts, Religion, Restaurant Reviews, Sports, Technology, travel, Uncategorized, Video Work, Writing (all kinds) on October 6, 2010 at 2:14 PM

Image result for Sale

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Week 4 Space Management: Inspiration – Defining Your Office Style (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on October 6, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Clare Kumar - October 5, 2010

By Clare Kumar

Given the amount of time spent in our offices, once designed for function, it makes sense to create spaces we truly enjoy being in. Since offices hold large variety items, selecting a style can help unify the space and reduce visual chaos. In this article, we’ll consider furniture, soft furnishings, and lighting. In the next, we’ll explore colour, art, and accessories.

1. Furniture

Natural wood is an age-old favourite for office furniture. Available in a wide range of finishes, it adds warmth to any space from traditional to contemporary. Most factories finished surfaces are durable and ready to stand up to daily use.

Laminated surfaces are scratch resistant, easy to clean and come in a variety of colours.

Metal and glass combinations offer clean lines and provide a more industrial look. Carefully consider the placement of glass pieces as they reflect light which could be distracting. Glass is susceptible to showing fingerprints and streaks which could be aggravating and it also offers no place for electrical cords to hide. Cordless computer peripherals and cable management systems will help avoid a cluttered desk area especially if you select a transparent top.

A hot trend right now is the combination of light coloured wood and metal shelving, tables, and desks. When kitting out your office, try and purchase all the pieces you think you will need for space at one time to avoid being disappointed later if items are discontinued or colours change.

2. Soft Furnishings

In addition to softening the appearance of the office, soft furnishings such as carpet and draperies or blinds also dampen sound. In a noisy office environment, it will help people avoid distractions and maintain focus on their work. Consider durable, easy to clean natural fabrics.

If you will be rolling chairs or filing carts, keep carpet pile low so wheels roll freely. Make sure rug edges won’t get caught in the wheels.

3. Lighting

In every office space, you will want to consider natural, ambient and task lighting.

Fluorescent lights provide light with no shadows, however, can cause fatigue because they don’t display the full spectrum provided by sunlight. Light from the full spectrum helps set our circadian rhythm. Without this, we feel like we’ve spent the whole day in the dark. Change old bulbs as soon as they flicker to avoid additional fatigue.

Incandescent lamps or ceiling fixtures provide warmer ambient light. Halogen up-lights also do a good job.

For task lights, consider a full-spectrum light on an adjustable neck so you can focus it where you’re working. Place the lamp on the same side as your non-dominant hand to avoid casting shadows on your writing.

Coming up next in the series: Space Management: Inspiration – Personalizing your space

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Week 4 – Space Management: Inspiration – Personalizing Your Space (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on October 5, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Clare Kumar - October 2, 2010

By Clare Kumar

Having defined your office style through furniture, soft and lighting, you’ll want to consider the use of colour, art, and plants to further personalize your workspace.

1. Colour

Colour in a space creates powerful emotional and cognitive responses. Did you know research shows that the colour of a room can affect the performance of certain tasks? People read more slowly and understand less in a red room, and report a more positive mood when in a blue room. Certain colours, like orange and red stimulate the mind – perfect for creative work but too distracting for administrative tasks.

People infer a person’s characteristics based on the colours of their clothing and the same can be said for the colours in their office. What does your office say about you or your company? Does it convey the image you want? Take the Dewey Color System Personality Test to find out what your colour preferences say about your personality.

If you have the opportunity to choose workplace colours, think about your preferences, the type of work you do, and how you wish to be perceived prior to selecting a colour.

2. Art and Accessories

If you can’t change the colour of your walls, inject colours you enjoy in art and accessories.

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Find images that speak to the attitude and energy you want in your space. Art can serve as a source of inspiration and remind us to connect with our own creativity.

Consider mounting current family photos on a wall or placing them on a bookshelf so as not to take up valuable work surfaces.

Office accessories provide great opportunities for self-expression. I have an active file folder in a fuchsia and orange paisley pattern (I know that’s not for everyone!). Even I couldn’t do all my work in a room so brightly coloured, but it is a piece I use daily and it brings me a little joy every time I see it. Choose functional and fun accessories. A little whimsy goes a long way.

3. Add Plants

The addition of potted plants not only brings vibrancy to the office, plants also help improve air quality. There are species that will even thrive in low light areas. If maintaining potted plants sounds like too much work, consider adding a vase of flowers as a natural accent.

Coming up next in the series: Space Management: Inspiration – Four Ways to Boost Your Creativity

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Week 4 – Space Management: Inspiration – Four Ways To Boost Your Creativity (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on October 4, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Clare Kumar Writes About Getting a Boost at Work – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 8, 2010

By Clare Kumar

Out of the box, thinking is necessary to generate new ideas and even problem solve in our daily tasks. Since time is always limited, we have to be efficient even in our creativity.

Here are four ways to boost your creativity at work.

1. Inject fun

Use toys or objects not normally found in the office environment to trigger broader thinking. Incorporating toys in a meeting or brainstorming exercise can often create humourous situations. Laughter is invigorating and leads to freer thoughts.

2. Employ colour

Use a whiteboard and markers in a variety of colours to capture ideas. Give meaning to each colour. I use four colours, one for each area of my business. The use of colour makes the content more visually interesting, faster to read and easier to retain.

3. Use tools to change your thinking

There are a variety of tools that can help you find new ways to think.

Mind maps allow for the capture of associated thoughts without forcing priority and are often used for brainstorming and note-taking. Use paper or a whiteboard and coloured pens or markers. Write a word or idea in the centre of the page, and then connect other ideas to it. Branch out as you flesh out your ideas.

Shift Gears is a free online tool that increases the likelihood of connecting previously unconnected thoughts or shifting your knowledge through changing your perceptions. To shift gears, you start by stating your business challenge. Then you look at a provided image and note your reactions to it. The last step entails using those reactions as clues to solve your challenge.

4. Change your location

Even in a space designed for creative thinking, it can help to have a change of scenery. Find another place to work, perhaps a boardroom or even outside. The change of environment can spur new ideas.

Invest in your own set of dry-erase markers in colours you like to use to avoid disappointment in another location. Portable easels and whiteboards help capture your ideas wherever you choose to work.

Coming up next in the series: Time Management Strategies

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Week 3 – Space Management: Ergonomics – Work Station Comfort (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on October 3, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Clare Kumar Writes About Work Station Comfort – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 3, 2010

By Clare Kumar

Numerous studies show a direct link between comfort at your workstation and productivity. In fact, a summary of 250 studies on the impact of ergonomic equipment shows average productivity gains of 25%. Add to that the benefit of avoiding serious and sometimes permanent musculoskeletal injuries (such as low back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome) and it makes sense to invest time into making sure your office space suits your body and your work.

As defined by the Association of Canadian Ergonomists, ergonomics is the science that examines the interaction between humans and the other elements in a system to optimize human well-being and overall system performance. Bottom line, if you’re comfortable then you’ll get more accomplished.

Here are two important ergonomic considerations for your workspace:

1. The Chair

Consider this the driver’s seat in your office. Imagine going for a long drive in an uncomfortable car seat? That’s exactly what you may be doing every day if your chair isn’t designed to support you.

The chair must place you in the correct position for work. Since people come in all shapes and sizes, this means one chair does not fit all.

When selecting an office chair, look for adjustability in

* Chair Height – your feet should be flat on the floor and thighs parallel to the floor
* Seat – the seat should place no pressure on the backs of your knees
* Arm Rests – shoulders should be supported in a neutral position at the correct width for your body
* Back Tilt – the level of tension and degree of tilt in the chair back should be adjustable
* Stability – a five wheelbase is ideal

If you have an adjustable chair, be sure to learn how to use it. One worker had the same chair for 5 years and didn’t know how to adjust it. A five-minute review of the chair’s functionality had profound and immediate effects on his comfort and productivity.

2. The Work Surface

Many modular office systems offer the ability to adjust the height of fixed work surfaces. The ideal desk height for a man of 6’2” is not appropriate for a woman who is 5’4”. If your work surface can be an adjusted, take advantage of it.

If you cannot adjust the height of your work surface, use a combination of seat height adjustments and a footrest to place you in the correct posture.

There are also height adjustable desks (manual and power-operated) which allow you to vary your working position from sitting to standing, reducing pressure on the lower back and increasing comfort. In fact, incorporating standing periods into your workday engages the large muscles in your legs and increases your metabolic rate. Studies show that people who had sit-stand desks changed their position 3-4 times a day.

Coming up next in the series: Space Management: Ergonomics – Using Your Computer Safely

Disclaimer – For information and reference purposes only and not intended as legal or professional advice. The adoption of the practices described may not meet the needs, requirements or obligations of individual workplaces.

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Week 3 – Space Management: Ergonomics – Using Your Computer Safely (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on October 2, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Clare Kumar About Ergonomic Best Practices While At Your Desk – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 2, 2010

By Clare Kumar

Just as it is critical to have a supportive chair and a work surface at the correct height, it is essential to know how to use a computer correctly to avoid serious repetitive strain injuries.

The following suggestions should be considered no matter what kind of computer you’re using.

1. The Keyboard

Make sure that when using the keyboard your wrists are flat to avoid pinching the nerves in the wrist. Often keyboards are raised at the back to produce an incline similar to typewriters. This is not helpful and can create wrist strain. Support hands while not typing with a gel wrist rest.

Keep your elbows at a 90-degree angle to reduce strain.

If you use a mouse on the right-hand side, consider a keyboard with a detachable number pad to allow for closer placement of the mouse. You should never have to reach to use your mouse.

2. The Mouse

Speaking of the mouse, find one that fits comfortably in the palm of your hand and requires gentle pressure to operate. The asymmetrical mouse allows you to interchange hands (a great idea) or shares use of the mouse with others.

Your forearm should be supported by an armrest or support. Wrist rests may be employed to provide a soft resting place for the hand when not mousing. The heel of the hand is best placed on the rest.

A scroll wheel helps avoid repetitive clicking when moving up or down a page.

Mousepads work! They help the mouse move more smoothly and reduce the number of movements. If you do one thing right away, get yourself a mouse pad.

Learn software shortcuts to reduce dependence on the mouse for repeated actions. Consider wireless devices to help reduce visual noise in the workspace.

3. The Monitor

Position your monitor in front of you so the top is at about eye level to reduce neck strain. Keep it at a comfortable distance for reading to avoid eye fatigue. Control light sources to avoid creating glare. Use the bright/dimmer controls when necessary to maximize comfort, and increase the font size rather than leaning forward to read.

4. What About a Laptop?

Laptops are fantastic for short periods however their compact nature has been achieved only by seriously compromising ergonomics. For periods of lengthy use, you must create the healthy ergonomic conditions outlined above.

Add a separate keyboard and mouse. If your screen is an adequate size, prop the laptop up on a desktop stand so that the monitor is at a comfortable height. If not, add a separate monitor. I use both my 15” laptop and a monitor on my desk and benefit from the ability to have two screens open at any time. A monitor arm allows me to swing the monitor out of the way when I’m not using it.

If you’re not sure of your posture while using the computer, have someone take a photo of you. Compare it to an image of correct posture such as the one found in this photo. What adjustments do you need to make?

Coming up next in the series: Space Management: Ergonomics – Best Practices

Disclaimer – For information and reference purposes only and not intended as legal or professional advice. The adoption of the practices described may not meet the needs, requirements or obligations of individual workplaces.

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Week 3 – Space Management: Ergonomics – Best Practices (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on October 1, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Clare Kumar Writes About Getting the Best Out of Yourself While Working – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 1, 2010

By Clare Kumar

The equipment you use in your office goes a long way in setting up your chances for working in a healthy way. In addition to these, you will want to establish some best practices to ensure you are doing everything necessary to take care of yourself while at work.

1. Take Regular Breaks

You know the old saying “Moderation in all things”? Well, that is also true of work. Even if you’re sitting in an ergonomically correct chair with the computer and keyboard at the correct height, if you sit there for several hours straight, your body will not be happy.

For every hour of work, budget a 5-minute physical break. Get up out of your chair and move around. Walk to a window and enjoy some long distance viewing. Your eyes will appreciate the ability to focus at a longer distance.

Place your printer further away from your desk or set an alarm on your computer to remind you to take breaks. Schedule a regular walk around the block with a colleague. It will help refresh your eyes, mind, and body and bring fresh energy to your tasks.

2. Stretch

Stretching can counter the effects of long periods in the same posture by reducing soreness, tension, and fatigue. Keep in mind that stretching should never cause pain. For maximum relief, stretch 2 or 3 times during the day. If you have health concerns, consult your healthcare professional before beginning a stretching program.

Here are just a few of the stretches you might consider. For diagrams and more stretches with detailed descriptions, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety page on Stretching – At the Workstation.

Shoulder stretches

* Shrug shoulders and hold for 10-15 seconds then release.
* Roll shoulders several times in one direction and then the other.

Neck stretches

* Keeping your back straight, look down slowly and back to neutral position. Repeat several times.
* Look slowly from side-to-side. Never rotate from one side to the other while looking up.
* Bring the right ear to the right shoulder, and then repeat on the left side.

Side stretch

* Link fingers together and lift arms overhead with palms facing the ceiling. Lean slowly to the left and back to the centre, then lean to the right and back to the centre.

Back stretches

* Upper back – Link fingers together, facepalms out and extend in front of you. Slowly round your back.
* Lower back – Keep your hips facing forward and gently twist your upper body to one side. Repeat to the other side.

3. Change position

Varying tasks throughout the day will help reduce muscle fatigue. Shift between writing, using the computer and talking on the phone for example.

Coming up next in the series: Space Management: Inspiration

Disclaimer – For information and reference purposes only and not intended as legal or professional advice. The adoption of the practices described may not meet the needs, requirements or obligations of individual workplaces.

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

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