Does working from home invoke a vision of free time to everyone?

I don’t know about you, but when I tell people I own my own business and work from home, they get this look on their face, and say something like, “You can do anything you want during the day, can’t you?”  My response is always, “I work just as hard for myself as if I were being paid my someone else.” My expectations for my business to succeed are higher than those I had working for someone else, and they were pretty high – you can verify this by asking someone else I worked for. Yes, working from home does mean certain freedoms, but you do “work.”

2014 is almost half over and I’ve accomplished a goal I set in 2013 to network more.  I’ve joined a couple of business associations and a community advocacy organization. However, this means having to balance more activities, committees and events into my already busy life of running a business as a solopreneur. You volunteer your time (and other resources) because you believe in the organization/group you’ve joined. When people know you work from home (including me sometimes when I forget what it’s like), they think you can drop everything you’re doing at the drop of a dime and respond to their request – whether by phone, email or text message. You volunteer to do one or two things that you know you can fit into your schedule and then you will get asked to do several more “little” things.

Wow! Things got out of control for me already this year, and I got sick, I became unaware of some personal tasks, and I got frustrated with myself.  So what am I doing to get back on track?

As a reminder to myself and perhaps to help you, these few little suggestions will help us balance our lives when working from home (especially if you join groups or organizations):

1) Communicate effectively!  Yes and No are very small words that mean a lot, therefore, when you say either, stay committed to your response.  When you say ‘Yes’ do what you say you will do. If you hear extra things added after you’ve responded to do one thing, communicate clearly what you can and cannot do.  Saying ‘No’ doesn’t mean that you don’t want to do something, it means, you know that you can’t do everything. I like to do things well and if I’m overwhelmed, they don’t get done well, leaving everyone upset.

2) Stick to your schedule!  Add additional tasks you’ve committed to your calendar and prioritize. Your business is Priority 1!  If you’ve committed to do something outside your own work, you may have to work on the other tasks after your business day. Put everything – business, pleasure, volunteer activities, etc. – on one calendar so that you can see everything you have planned in your life in a day, week, month!  There will be times when you can be flexible and sometimes you can’t.  You will probably make adjustments if you’re putting more time into other activities than what’s most important to you. If you concentrate your time and effort on highest priority projects that means you get more done.

3) Respond to electronic communication on a schedule. Answer the phone calls, email and text messages when it’s convenient for you.  I schedule time during the day to read and respond to my email.  I determine whether a text message is important or urgent and respond accordingly.

4) Take care of yourself! Get your rest!  Your body lets you know when you’re tired and it will get sick if you get stressed!  Getting enough rest should be the highest priority in your life.

If you work at home and are involved in your community, tell me your time management tips.

It Takes An “Organized” Community to Sponsor A Spelling Bee

I had the opportunity to serve on the CNAP (Crossings Nashville Action Partnership) committee that was organized to help them sponsor the 2014 Middle Tennessee Regional Spelling Bee.  This was a major undertaking in a short period of time for a relatively small community organization in Antioch, TN. However, as I reflect a week later (the Spelling Bee was held on March 15), I know that with the committed,  “fabulous” group of 30+ volunteers that served on the committee, anything was possible.

As an organizer of people’s homes, time and businesses, it was encouraging to watch and be part of a community organizing effort. Our Committee Chair and President of CNAP, Alma Sanford, is an amazing organizer who had a lot on her plate, but nothing fell off.  Alma presented her vast “to do list” and each member of the group decided what we needed to do.  For 13 weeks, the group came together to plan how we could help make one Middle Tennessee student very happy,  after their hard work to get to the Regional Spelling Bee.

Congratulations to Ben Kulas  (and his family) who will represent Middle Tennessee in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.  Please go to the CNAP website –  http://www.cnapnashville.org/ – to enjoy the photos from the event and see the fruit of our labor. To find out more about the Scripps Spelling Bee, go to  http://www.spellingbee.com/.

Thanks to the “caring, committed” community of Antioch, TN and the “education-focused” organization of CNAP,  I have an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life! And lots of great new friends!

Time Management Tips from Feature Article by Carmen Coker

Since February is Time Management Month and to save time I’m posting a great feature article from Carmen Coker that I wanted to share with you.

3 Sneaky Reasons You Lose Time

November 21st, 2013

3 Sneaky Reasons You Lose TimeReviewed by Carmen Coker, Award-Winning Professional Organizer on Nov 21Rating: 5.0These simple things could be costing you precious time. Here’s how to stop ’em!Having trouble finding extra minutes in your day? These simple things could be costing you precious time. Here’s how to stop ’em!

3 Sneaky Reasons You Lose TimeHaving trouble finding extra minutes in your day? These simple things could be costing you precious time. Here’s how to stop ‘em!

1. You can never say “no.”

Being a yes-man or yes-woman stems from a longing to feel important/needed or from a fear of hurting/disappointing someone. As a result, you are continually over-committed and over-scheduled.

[FIX] When you always say “yes” to others, inevitably, you will end up saying “no” to many of your life priorities. Having an honest response ready will help you feel confident in sending your regrets. Something as simple as this will do the trick: “Thank you for thinking of me! I’d love to support you, but I am unable to right now due to other personal obligations.”

2. You are good at being busy but not productive.

From the outside looking in, you appear like one heck of a busy bee. But from an insider’s perspective, you tend to do something just to do it, even though it may not be the highest priority task at the time.

[FIX] Henry David Thoreau said it best: “It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” Practice mindful productivity (instead of mindless productivity) by only giving thought, time, and effort to the truly significant.

3. You rely on memory alone.

You have 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts a day, and yet only five to nine items stay in your short-term memory at any given time. The odds are against you! Leaving stuff in your head means leaving stuff forgotten.

[FIX] Here’s one theory of Albert Einstein’s that isn’t taught in school: “Why remember my phone number when it’s in the phone book?” Believe it or not, witnesses claim he did not rely on memory alone to recall his number – and there is pure genius in its simplicity! Find or create your own system to track important information.

Remember:

There is such a thing as PRODUCTIVITY KARMA. If you don’t value your time (or the time of others), then your time will not value you, and … it will slip away.

How could you (or do you) use these ideas to save time? Please let me know your thoughts, experiences, ideas, and other comments below.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

Edited Places Organizing is Celebrating 2 Years in Business

“Necessity is the Mother of Invention!” — According to Wikipedia (and other sources agreed) The author of this proverb is not known but, sometimes, the proverb is ascribed to Greek philosopher Plato. This phrase was familiar in England, but in Latin, not in English. But, the earliest actual usage of the proverb “Necessity is the mother of invention” is sometimes ascribed to Richard Franck who used it in his book “Northern Memoirs, calculated for the meridian of Scotland.

No matter who created the proverb, it certainly rings true in the invention of Edited Places Organizing Service. I lost my job of 15 years in a large international nonprofit in Washington, DC and returned to Nashville, TN in 2010. I did not have any success in finding a full-time job for two years!  I had considered starting my own organizing business while living in DC  and had watched all the organizing TV Shows early in the years of the 2000 decade.  The organizing gene was deep with me. Most of my job performance evaluations had high ratings about my organizing skills.  Although in my research,  I found so many organizers, organizing blogs, organizing retail stores, organizing products for those of us who want to do it ourselves, I felt there was always room for one more to help someone renew their lifestyle.  I decided to ‘just do it!’ On January 26, 2012, with Necessity, Being the Mother of Invention, I walked out of the Davidson County’s Clerks Office with my business license in hand.

Boy, what emotions I felt that day —  happiness, anxiety, confidence, concern, creativity, patience, endurance!  I still have those feelings today. However, supporting me today, I have clients that put their trust in my abilities and skills to let me come into their home or business, and family and friends who encourage me.  Thanks to all of you, while enjoying  a life of purpose, lessons learned and being fulfilled, Edited Places Organizing Services is celebrating 2 Years in service!

Photo Organizing – A Good New Year’s Resolution!

I recently had someone ask me if  a professional organizer was like a hair stylist, stating that they do fantastic work on styling someone’s hair but their hair style usually isn’t the best (her words and no disrespect to hair stylists). I was happy to reply that although my home is not picture perfect with beautiful, expensive organizing products, everything has a place and 98% of the time, everything is put back in its place.

Most people think that professional organizers want you to get rid of everything, but we have collections also.  I have a pretty substantial collection of CDs, and I know they can be digitized onto my computer,  I don’t want to get rid of them. As long as I own a small CD player, I will keep my CD collection.  The collection doesn’t take up a lot of space the way I have them organized and containerized.

So when I started looking around my home, I found one project that I have neglected organizing is my massive collection of photos.  I have them semi-organized, but the system could use some improvement.  One positive thing about my collection is that it is organized in some fashion. I have photos on negatives, smart media cards, disks and USB drives. I have them in photos albums and, I hate to admit, just piled into into photo boxes. 

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I don’t keep a lot of photos on my camera, smartphone or computer.  I read that the memory card in your camera has a life span. Most recently, I really try to transfer all photos I take to a USB drive.

Since I make memory books, I  print photos at home and  I also take advantage of the online photo printer services like Shutterfly when I want to create an album for someone else. When I’m in a hurry to get the photos, I’ll upload them to Walgreen’s so I can pick them in an hour or so.  It’s cheaper to print a large quantity with a photo service provider than printing at home.

With so many printed photos – a lot of duplicates and bad photos –  I’m seeking help in getting those better organized. I found this Ideabook on organizing photos on Houzz.  Let me get started.  I’ll show you the end result.  If you have a great system, send me your ideas.

Upgrading Your Electronics? Recycle the Old One!

The EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) suggests:recycle electronic symbol

Before Donating or Recycling Your Used Electronics
  • For your computer or laptop, consider upgrading the hardware or software instead of buying a brand new product.
  • Delete all personal information for your electronics.
  • Remove any batteries from your electronics, they may need to be recycled separately. http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/ecycling/donate.htm
Where to Recycle
Corporate and charitable organizations will recycle your electronics for you. If the organization is not located in your community, you may be able to find one that will pay for shipping.
You may already know that Staples will recycle your empty ink cartridges and toners and give you back $2.00 in Staples Rewards, but did you know they will recycle other electronics?  Follow this link to find a list of what items they accept:

 

Tis the season to be jolly and charitable, therefore, you may consider donating your used electronics.  The American Institute of Philanthrophy  – now CharityWatch can ‘help you give wisely to charity.’ They offer some tips for donating your old cell phone.

 

Along with The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NACDV), you can help save lives and the environment.

 

Operation Gratitude sends care packages to our military personnel. Recycled cell and smart phones, Ipods and Ipads will help them in their effort.

 

Each organization offers guidelines on how to recycle on their website. Are you aware of other organizations that accepts recycled electronics? Please let us know.
[Image courtesy of Bing Images.]