Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Getting It All Done - Quick and Dirty Tips

There are tons of organizational gurus out there these days. Oprah has about 12 of them on speed-dial. Getting organized is now a multi-million dollar industry. Because, let's face it, our lives are a mess. 

As part of the Quick and Dirty Tips website, the Get-It-Done Guy, Stever Robbins' podcast the Get-It-Done Guy's Quick and Dirty Tips Guide to Work Less and Do More, now has over 170 episodes and covers all sorts of tricks and techniques for handling almost any type of organizational task. 

From forming a new habit (Episode #163) to creating text macros (Episode #167), Robbins covers techincal issues and decisions (such as buying a computer - #154), dealing with specific organizational problems (such as organizing gift and credit cards - #165 or planning a successful group trip - #161), or general work habits (such as how to use the phone better - #151 or making good decisions - #111).

Stever Robbins also has a lot of great advice specific to writers to help us with the glut of information that all workers in the 21st century encounter... but writers in particular. 

His podcast is short, too the point, and (at times) humorous. Whether he is advising you on how to file so you can find anything Instantly (#3), taking killer notes (#16), or keeping track of ideas (#153), Stever knows how to deliver the advice you need during a minute or two of your precious time.

Monday, March 21, 2011

How Much is Your Clutter Costing You?

This article written by Peter Walsh, clutter crusher extraordinaire from Clean Sweep fame has a new book out Lighten Up: Love What You Have, Have What You Need, Be Happier with Less and excerpted on Lifehacker: How Much is Your Clutter Costing You?

He has some simple ways of adding up the costs by going through your house, room by room, and adding up the cost of all of the items you no longer use.  It has a physical cost and (at times) an emotional cost as well.

He even uses a formula for calculating the cost of your clutter per square foot:

Value of your home ÷ Square footage of your home = Value of each square foot
_______________ ÷_______________ = _______________
So, if you live in a $250,000 home and it's 2,500 square feet, then each square foot is worth $100.
The value of each square foot of my home is: _______________
Now let's calculate how much of your home's space is occupied by things you don't use. Walk around your home and make a rough calculation of how many square feet are unusable because of the clutter. Don't forget the basement, closets, and garage!
The number of square feet in my home that are occupied by things I don't use: _______________
Now let's find out how much that wasted square footage is worth:
Value of square footage × Square feet occupied by things you don't use = Value of unusable space
_______________ x_______________ = _______________
This is interesting, but not as helpful for me.  Another way to calculate these costs is in TIME.  Such as when you spend 15 minutes looking for your car keys in the morning, or the hour spent looking for the medical form that you needed to complete so your son could sign up for soccer. Or the 2 hours you spend trying to find the Robo-Grip Pliers to fix the dripping kitchen sink, and then, not finding it, heading out to Lowes to purchase another tool to replace it.  Time is money. And these days my time is more valuable than my money... most of the time.

But money is also something that gets wasted in the midst of clutter.  You all know of my poor track record with flash drives.  I have purchased 3 of them in the last 4 months, and have already "lost" one of them.  I know that it will turn up eventually in a coat pocket, or under a stack of papers, but it is missing when I need it, so I buy another one for $12.  The cost of replacing the Robo-Grip Pliers, $17.94 for a set of similar tools at Lowes.  I've bought 3 vitamin capsule-sized microphones for my iPod Touch because I simply knew I wouldn't be able to keep track of them (at about $1.50 each) and already 2 of them are missing. 2 sets of iPod headphones (another $12). I bought a second copy of one of my favorite books on time management: Getting Things Done by David Allen, because I either lent it to someone and forgot who, or lost it altogether ($15).  And close to $50 in lost or damaged library books this year alone.

So as you can see... clutter indeed has a cost.  Think of all of the items and hours lost, and spring cleaning is a great time to clear out that clutter.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Have You Visited Lifehacker Yet?

If you don't know about Lifehacker yet, you are missing great content.  You will be seeing a lot of links from me here to that site.  It has a lot of great tips on time management, self-improvement, as well as lots of practical advice on daily life, such as this article on getting better customer service, technical how-to's such as this one on recovering from an e-mail disaster, and reviews and information about products and services that may make your life better.  

What Can We Do With Flickr?

This site has fresh content hourly and you never know what kind of advice it will generate.  Today's featured articles focus on disaster preparedness in the wake of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

In addition, the site allows you to link it to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, see 49 of the most popular articles right now, and search the massive Lifehacker archives via the Search feature.

So do what I do, set up an RSS feed for it in Google Reader, or just bookmark it.  Then, check it out daily.  It will be well worth your time. Lifehacker gets ***** out of 5 stars.

15-Minute Writer Rating Scale: * - SPAM is more enjoyable and entertaining; ** - Content not fit for a link farm; *** - An OK site, probably won't be back here often; **** -  Good resource, bookmark and visit often; ***** - An essential resource to consult daily.

Monday, March 07, 2011

15-Minute Writer Manifesto

I did this for my other blog, Grist for the Muse, so it makes perfect sense to do the same with 15MW. I have struggled keeping a blog on this topic. 

This was supposed to be inspiration and support for what was going to become my next book: The 15-Minute Writer: How to Live Your Creative Writing Dreams in Just 15 Minutes a Day. The proposal got fried on a flash drive that I didn’t back up. I have most of it in hard copy, but the topic really didn’t fire me up. I just didn’t connect with it. It felt like I had declared it to be my next book project simply because it was a cool premise with a cool elevator pitch that a couple of agents thought would be engaging. That was back in 2007. I do still like the concept though. The 15-Minute Writer will be a book someday, maybe even a series of books, but not for a while. 

Writers finding time to write is a universal problem that few people address on an ongoing basis. I hope the 15-Minute Writer will fill this void with good advice, cool products, and excellent resources.

The 15-Minute Writer covers tips, tools and topics for your writing time-management needs to help you live your creative writing dream in Just 15-Minutes a Day. I will do this by adhering to the following guidelines:
  1. Not to rely so much on my experiences and knowledge for the blog. You can get that anywhere on the web. I’ll still put together original articles and content, just not rely on it as much as a basis for the blog.
  2. Focus on content that either helps you write faster, or saves you time and money which frees up some time for writing.
  3. Post cool things of interest about writing, time management and organization that I stumble across on other blogs and web-pages.
  4. Inject my “humble” opinions on these items of interest, when applicable.
  5. Not be so afraid to inject my “humble” opinions on those items of interest, the writing life, or life in general.
  6. Post more often. At least once a week, although I’d prefer to make a habit of posting 2 or 3 times a week, to keep you coming back to see what’s going on.
  7. Answer and thank those who take the time to leave comments on my posts.
  8. Share my journey – Because I struggle with these issues just like you do. I have a day job, 4 kids, a menagerie of pets, a house and a yard and all of the responsibilities that come along with them. So it is hard for me to juggle all of these flaming chainsaws and still get the writing done.
  9. Stop being such a technical idiot. Learn to format these entries so they can be easily read. Maybe how to put a nifty picture or two in ‘em from time-to-time. I’d like to overhaul the design of this while I’m at it… but not right away.
  10. Stop being such a perfectionist. Perfectionism wastes time.
  11. Be entertaining. There are so many interesting and engaging writers out there. I want to be like them. And help you get writing done.
  12. Continue the Shameless Self Promotion. A guy’s gotta eat, right?
  13. Be available to answer your questions.
  14. That these guidelines of this manifesto are fluid and subject to change as determined by my mood, audience response, and interests change.