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Category Archives: Organization

Boost productivity & wellness with these 6 free apps

Boost productivity & wellness with these 6 free apps

Boost productivity & wellness with these 6 free apps

As an entrepreneur, I face the same struggles as my clients, job seekers, other entrepreneurs, and professionals. I seem to run out of time or energy before I run out of things I should be doing. For me, I think there is a combination of things I need to boost productivity and stay healthy at the same time.

Staying Organized

1. Todoist  — I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for more ways to track what I am doing, create reminders, and complete projects. I have always used lists and still love my DayTimer with the colored pens but after giving Todoist a month’s try, I can truly recommend it. I can create as many projects as I want (the tasks are listed and tied to the projects), schedule tasks for specific days, set up recurring tasks,  color code projects, and prioritize the tasks. I did buy the premium version, but it allowed me to integrate it with multiple devices: my phone, my tablet, and my PC, it is also MAC friendly though I haven’t tried it. It can integrate with Gmail, but that feature seems to have some issues. However, just by sending an email over to Todoist, I can create a reminder.

2. Gmail — I love the cross-integration of Gmail with my phone and tablet as well as the calendar integration. I am still trying to learn to manage my email, it comes in faster than I can handle but Gmail does let me label emails and move them to specific folders.

3. Grammarly — I am much more productive when my writing is accurate. I am just testing Grammarly but it is editing this blog post and I like it better than the built-in WordPress spell-check. It integrates with Chrome and allows me edit anything I am writing online. I have not yet bought premium for Grammarly, but they have a premium version. As a professional writer, it is nice to have all the grammar and spell-check support I can find.

4. JibberJobber — Jason Alba created this app during his own job search. It is the job seekers Customer Relationship Manager (CRM). I will confess that I still underuse JJ, but I love the videos that Jason puts in place to help you understand how the features work. This is an area I will be working on more and the ability to track when you are supposed to follow up is something I really need to work on. Jibberjobber was originally designed to help people organize and track their job search—but has since evolved into a “personal relationship manager” that allows you to manage your job search and optimize your network relationships for the duration of your career. The site was designed by Jason Alba during his first real job search in early 2006. Membership to the website is free, but users can pay to upgrade their account to Silver ($60/year) or Premium ($99/year) status—which offers additional features.

Staying Healthy

5. Noom Walk — With all of the information about sitting too much being unhealthy for you, I have been looking for ways to keep moving. Winter in Wisconsin makes walking outside treacherous and so when I found Noom Walk for my phone, which works as well as other step counters and keeps a record of my progress, I was happy.  It works in the background and though it isn’t perfect, it counts better than other apps I have tried. My husband doesn’t have the same passion for technology but we did buy a smart phone for him and this app helped him learn better how to use his phone since we have competitions. This app is free.

6. My Fitness Pal — I’ve used this one for a few years and it is also cross platform. My Fitness Pal has a really good database so that most of the things I eat can be counted. I am not consistent, but it does remind me to make healthier choices and keep exercising.

Perhaps you are wondering what this has to do with job search but I find that as I work with job seekers, they struggle with the same things I do. They need to stay organized and track their progress, but not just in their job search, but also in their daily life. Too often, the challenge of too much going on makes the job seeker get bogged down. When you don’t get enough exercise or eat the wrong foods, it affects everything. No matter what your role is – job seeker, entrepreneur, or working professional, you need to boost productivity and stay healthy. So there you have it, my top 6 apps to help you! Note: In case you are wondering, none of these are affiliate links… I just like the apps!

I help job seekers transform their resumes and job search strategies in interactive, solution-driven strategic planning sessions. To see how I can help you, call me (Julie Walraven) at 715-564-5263.

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Eliminate frustrations by organizing your life

Eliminate frustrations by organizing your life

Eliminate frustrationsWe’ve all lost something at some point.

Your keys, your Daytimer (planner), your checkbook, your phone, the TV remote, and important files or mail. At that point, you kick yourself and think, “I am going to get organized!” but you don’t! The moment passes and you can now move on to the next process.

We also all have something that we know we should do but we put it off. Procrastinate. other things take priority or we just really don’t want to do it. I’ve talked about organization before because it is one area I know needs my continual attention.

What if you could eliminate frustrations?

You can! You might think this is impossible but the problem stems by thinking that you have to do everything all at one. Breaking your changes into steps and pieces lets you feel a sense of accomplishment and move forward. Let’s try some examples:

You lose your keys regularly

Make a new habit. If you are female and regularly carry a purse, find one pocket you will always put your keys in. When I buy a new purse, I consider multiple options and figure out what would help me find my important things.

Women who throw their keys into the main part of the purse (the bottomless pit) struggle to ever find them. If you select one spot, it will work for you.

Men don’t carry purses (usually) so you need to find a place to put your keys when you come home. It can be the top of your dresser (we will address finding the top of your dresser in the next step). Perhaps a hook on the wall, cabinet by the door, or another place will work. Your job will be to place your keys there consciously every time you come home.

You have piles (not a disease)

You’d like to put the keys on the top of your dresser but you can’t find the top of your dresser. If you are a person who piles things, you need to start with one location. If you need your dresser top to place your keys, you need to clear the dresser.

Remove everything and systematically find a new home for things or throw things out.

Set up several boxes as sorting assistants. Label them Move, Throw, or Review.

All you have to do with this step is sort your things into the three boxes and dust the dresser. Replace only what you must have on your dresser and leave a spot for your keys.

This process will work for every other spot in your house, one piece of paper or object at a time.

You need to change your job (regular readers knew I would tie this to job search at some point)

When you know you need to change something about your life, until you reach the breaking point, you will avoid action. Counselors tell you that you have to want change to make it happen.

When you are considering a job change, you push the thought of changing your job aside until you hit the point that you are so unhappy that you can’t function.

When you do this, you end up with new problems. Clients who work with me often say they wish they made the call sooner.

Your one step if this is your issue is to connect with a resource to prepare you to begin a job search.

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How I make Google Calendar work for me

I was a devoted Outlook user until my laptop started having problems this summer and Outlook failed to open. It was so unstable that I could no longer send attachments which is a kiss of death for resume writers, especially if you work with clients around the globe.

My solution was to pack up all the things I did with Outlook and move them to Google. My contacts were imported, the calendar was imported and we installed the email files including the backlog of older e-mails. It all moved with me over to Google.

Guess what I learned? I thought that this was a temporary solution until I could get Outlook to work well again. But after playing with the features of the e-mail program and the calendar, I found I like it much better. I customized the calendar with the rainbow I saw right after my mom died this summer. Since Google calendar allow you to customize colors for appointments, the appointments still show up prominently against the background.

Google Labs

Do you know about Google Labs? I didn’t until Jim Connolly told me about them but now they are my favorite thing to check out to see if there is a new gadget I would like. You find the access point under the settings button (the little gear-like thing at the left) which opens to this drop down. You can also find Google Labs in Google e-mail and I have some favorite gadgets.

As a fan of anything that keeps me organized, I have made use of several of these experimental tools and wanted to share two that you might like too.

World Clock

Since I work with clients throughout the world, I am always trying to figure out what time it is as I set appointments. This World Clock feature (one of the Google Labs) is one of my favorites. It keeps expanding as you add other times you need to track. I then know what time it is with anyone I am working with which makes scheduling much easier.

The last little tool I want to share with you is another time-related one. This serves as a notice of your next appointment. I cut out the specifics on this example but the gadget also lists who the appointment is with and where it will be held. If you had an out of the office appointment with a client, it would remind you of how much time there is left before the appointment.

Whether you are a job seeker or business person, these tools can make your life easier. Do you like them?

Start with Organization

Photo by robstephaustralia

Through the years, people have commented, “You are so organized! How do you do it all?” Unfortunately, this is another misconception about me, much like how I deal with balance as we discussed in yesterday’s post, Start with Balance. This is the fourth post in the series, You have to Start to Finish.

Organization is definitely one of my goals and I occasionally give the appearance that I am organized with my ever-present Day-Timer and my colored pen lists. I even write posts on topics such as how to keep track of your resume in Where did I put that resume? or how to make organized decisions as in A Little Decision-Making Tool. But right about when you think I have it all together, I admit to failing in posts such as Achoo! Allergic to Mail.

How am I going to start with organization in 2011?

What is my goal to get organized and at the same time keep my life in balance and make myself accountable in the area of finances?

  1. Creating the colored pen list is key. My to-do list reads like a mini-resume with action statements like “write blog post” or “Process Mail” or “Update QuickBooks.” I have three standing reminders in black ink on the top of each list. Two of the 3 almost always happen: Read Bible and Exercise. The third is a specific reminder to ride the exercise bike with ____ Minutes ____ Miles ___ Calories Burned, but that one gets ignored — a lot! Red is for the urgent and important things, usually client-related. Purple is for my office projects like Process mail. Green is for financial related items: Update QuickBooks, Mail Check to…., or Pay mortgage. Blue is for household chores such as Vacuum living room or Sort laundry.
  2. If I make the list wisely and then follow it, the client projects will get done, mail will get processed, my bills will get paid, I will stay on top of my financials and the household projects.
  3. Kindergarten rules like put away what you take out are so simple but this concept is one many adults struggle to follow. You need to have a place for things to go first but assuming you do, putting things away when you are done with them will help you stay organized. In your office or workplace, when you work on a project and then file it in any easy to retrieve place or label your computer files in a way that lets you find things, then you make progress in this area. In your home, the same principle applies. If you take it out, put it away.

Here’s some projects I have on my list for the next few days:

  1. Set up invoice files for 2011. I still keep paper files for invoices for tax purposes. I have a set of labels I print with the tax categories and year on them.
  2. Organize client files and enter into database. I struggled with this one all year but now have a basic database that I can expand on to track clients and better manage them.
  3. Clean closets. I have two large closets with office things in them. The former office downstairs really needs some organization and purging. Getting rid of things you don’t use any more makes you feel better and helps you stay organized.

More tools for organization:

  1. Jason Alba’s JibberJobber is a great career management tool for job seekers and for lifelong career management. Jason is continually refining JJ and it only gets better.
  2. Flylady has been a help to disorganized people everywhere. Marla Cilley with her many associates has motivated and led people to solutions for household cleaning, dinner planning, exercise, and overall organization. I have used many of her tools through the years and still find that her “You can do anything for 15 minutes” coaching coupled using her timer gets me moving through projects I procrastinate.
  3. I’ve used my Daytimer since 1982 and still prefer writing those lists to Blackberry’s or PDAs or even Outlook. Something about the writing helps me get things done.
  4. Oh, and those colored pens? I use Pilot G-2 gel pens from Staples.

Whatever you decide, I think you will find that if you Start with Organization, it will help you move forward!