Posts Tagged With: Organization

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


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.

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


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.

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


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.

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


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.

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


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.

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


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.

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


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.

Categories: Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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


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.

Categories: Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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


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.

Categories: Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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


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.

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


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.

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


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.

Categories: Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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


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.

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WEEK 2 – SPACE PLANNING: DEFINING KEY PIECES (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)


Clare Kumar - September 18, 2010

By Clare Kumar

Pretend you are visiting your office for the first time. Take a look around with fresh eyes. What do you see? Does every piece of furniture serve the purpose it was intended for? Are there pieces simply attracting piles of paper? Often when we spend a lot of time in a place, be it work or home, we stop really seeing what’s there. We just accept that it’s supposed to be there, whether it’s working or not.

To make sure that everything in your office ought to be there, take the following steps:

1. Identify your work activities

Analyze how you spend your time at work and what activities you engage in. Referring to your calendar can help ensure you include all the activities that are critical to your work. Some activities to consider are:

Pretend you are visiting your office for the first time. Take a look around with fresh eyes. What do you see? Does every piece of furniture serve the purpose it was intended for? Are there pieces simply attracting piles of paper? Often when we spend a lot of time in a place, be it work or home, we stop really seeing what’s there. We just accept that it’s supposed to be there, whether it’s working or not.

To make sure that everything in your office ought to be there, take the following steps:

1. Identify your work activities

Analyze how you spend your time at work and what activities you engage in. Referring to your calendar can help ensure you include all the activities that are critical to your work. Some activities to consider are:

* Working with a computer to manage email and work on documents, or to talk with others
* Writing to create content, manage your calendar, jot down ideas or conversation notes
* Meeting with others face-to-face to talk informally, deliver presentations or hold collaborative work sessions
* Preparing or collating documents
* Talking on the phone for anything from quick chats to lengthy conference calls

2. Select furniture pieces that support your work

You might think this is an obvious step, but it often gets less thought than it should. Your ideal furniture depends on the kind of work you do, and how you like to do it. I’ve seen people take phone calls sitting at their desks while others need space to walk around while talking. Knowing your preferences is an important step in building a functional office.

Let’s take a look at the furniture required to support using a computer, for example. You might need a surface for the computer laptop or keyboard and monitor, a chair, a place for hard drives, a backup system, printing and scanning devices, modems, routers and other peripherals.

Think through each activity and list all the key pieces you require. It’s easy to look at a magazine photo of an uncluttered desk and forget all the items that must be accommodated. Be careful to marry the need for function with your passion for form.

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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Week 2 – Space Planning: Effective Storage (Originally Published in GetConnected.com)


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

Clare Kumar - September 17, 2010

By Clare Kumar

After defining the key furniture pieces you need to support your work, the next step is determining appropriate storage systems. Storage is all about locating the necessary tools and information easily and retrieving them with the appropriate expenditure of energy. Rather than thinking about a storage system, it may be helpful to think of a “finding system”.

1. Identify what you need to store

For each activity involved in your work, develop a list of the sources of information, reference materials and office supplies you use. Imagine a day in your office, from entering in the morning, through work periods, breaks, lunch and leaving at the end of the day. That way you won’t forget to consider creating homes for things such as cleaning supplies and places to store clothes and food.

You will also want to think of what is incoming and outgoing for each activity and make sure there is space for each process. For dealing with paper mail, for example, you’ll want to make space for sorting incoming mail, filing active work and reference material, and both shredding and recycling.

2. Determine the most convenient place to store things

Where to store things will depend upon the frequency of use, personal preferences and ergonomics, and of course the space you have available.

Basic organizing principles tell us that the most often used items should be placed close at hand. I call this ‘prime real estate’.

After defining the key furniture pieces you need to support your work, the next step is determining appropriate storage systems. Storage is all about locating the necessary tools and information easily and retrieving them with the appropriate expenditure of energy. Rather than thinking about a storage system, it may be helpful to think of a “finding system”.

1. Identify what you need to store

For each activity involved in your work, develop a list of the sources of information, reference materials and office supplies you use. Imagine a day in your office, from entering in the morning, through work periods, breaks, lunch and leaving at the end of the day. That way you won’t forget to consider creating homes for things such as cleaning supplies and places to store clothes and food.

You will also want to think of what is incoming and outgoing for each activity and make sure there is space for each process. For dealing with paper mail, for example, you’ll want to make space for sorting incoming mail, filing active work and reference material, and both shredding and recycling.

2. Determine the most convenient place to store things

Where to store things will depend upon the frequency of use, personal preferences and ergonomics, and of course the space you have available.

Basic organizing principles tell us that the most often used items should be placed close at hand. I call this ‘prime real estate’.

Personal preferences affect storage choices. For example, you may prefer to file papers in folders while others prefer binders. You may like to use a notebook to capture ideas while others will write them down on a whiteboard. Let your preferences be your guide, for if you choose a system that doesn’t suit how you like to work you will be less likely to use it.

Considering ergonomics means that heavy items will be placed at waist height and lighter items in harder to reach places to avoid back strain and possible injury.

If office space is in short supply, consider customizing the space and using specific organizing tools to fit your needs. It will certainly make the most of the space you have.

3. Know your company policies, insurance requirements, and legal obligations

Privacy regulations, insurance policies, and often internal corporate policies provide strict guidelines regarding the storage and disposal of business information, particularly if your business involves gathering a client’s personal or business information.

It may mean having lockable cabinets in your office to restrict access to sensitive information. You may require an easily accessible shredder to destroy documents. Metal cabinets may be required to help prevent loss in a fire. Detailed information and strict guidance regarding the storage of business data can be found at the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s website. Investigate what applies to you.

Coming up next in the series: Space Planning – The Office Layout

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.

Source: http://www.getconnectedmedia.com/blog/author/Clare%20Kumar

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WHY HOME STAGE WITH A PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZER? (from Streamlife Newsletter – April 2010)


Clare Kumar Writes About Home Staging – Photo Courtesy of Clare Kumar

Clare Kumar - August 13, 2010

By Clare Kumar

Preparing for and living through a move is one of the most stressful things one can do. The benefits of staging a home to sell are now almost universally understood. If you want to maximize the sale price of your home and the speed in which it sells, staging is critical.

Staging involves three steps:
1. The consultation – guidance on what is required to present the house in fine form

2. The preparation – repairs, maintenance, cosmetic updates and editing possessions to ensure the home’s assets are showcased

3. The presentation – final touches to position furniture and add lifestyle elements to engage the targeted buyer

There can be a long list of things to do, especially in Step 2. One you really don’t want to rush is the editing of your possessions. You can create problems by hurrying through the process of clearing out everything which does not help sell the current home, without giving thought to what you really ought to keep for your new residence and lifestyle, or what you need for day-to-day life.

Clare Kumar Can Home Stage Your Place – Photo Courtesy of Dreamstime.com

Clare Kumar - Staging - August 15, 2010

If you place everything in a storage unit, you may expend energy and money moving and storing items that you could have gifted, donated or sold. You also feel overwhelmed at the thought of having to go through these items at a later date, perhaps in a smaller space. It can be better to make the tough decisions as you prepare for the move. Some of these decisions can be emotionally challenging.

Herein lies the benefit of working with a Professional Organizer. Effective Staging focuses on driving up the value of the sale. Professional Organizers focus on how you live. Organizers understand how to plan and execute a move, what you’ll need to live comfortably through the move, and how to plan effectively for life in a new space. A professional with combined Organizing and Staging skills will give you sound advice to increase your financial return while taking into account your current and future lifestyle needs, ensuring peace of mind.

Allow time for the process and seek professional guidance when you need it, and you can minimize the stress of moving.

Clare Kumar is the Owner of Streamlife – Photo Courtesy of Clare Kumar

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Clare Kumar is a Canadian Certified Staging Professional (CCSP®) and a Silver Leaf Member of the Professional Organizers in Canada.

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