- Area codes: This is especially important now that we’re required to use the 415 area code even when we’re calling from within it.
- Where/when you met: It happens to me all the time. I meet someone at an event, take their card, enter their info, but a year later, I can’t remember where I met them. Include these details while you still can.
- Partner’s name/referral name: Win friends with this little tip. Knowing a partner’s name or knowing whom to thank for the new client is a powerful thing.
- What they do/what’s relevant to you about them: Is this a great plumber you heard about or a friend of a friend? Why would you want to reach out to this person? Enter this info right away.
- Account numbers, etc: I enter all kinds of useful info in the notes field. Directions to a friend’s house, frequent flier numbers, account numbers, or anything else that might help me when accessing this contact.
- No duplicates: This is going to happen, but when you see a duplicate, immediately merge them or delete one. Duplicates are clutter, and clutter grows.
- Last names: If at all possible, include last names. One day you may know more than one Juan, and you’ll wonder who’s who.
- User friendliness: There may be a time when someone else needs to make sense of your address book (in case of an emergency). Make it easy for them.
- Using “company” and “name” fields appropriately: I will confess, I haven’t always done this, and it makes a mess in my address book. Business names with more than one word become first and last names, sorted by the “last name” or second word. I’m still correcting my old errors.
I hope some of these tips are obvious to you, and if they're not, I hope you'll be inspired to do your future self a favor and embrace all these ideas. Be sure your address book includes these things:
In general, I’m opposed to keeping off-site storage spaces long term, but sometimes they’re necessary. To avoid what you see in the first photo, do a big favor for your future self and follow these simple suggestions:
What's up at Amy's house?
When our toilet stopped working properly because of mineral build-up, we replaced it with a new dual-flush model. I know this isn't exactly organizing, but the feeling of satisfaction is similar. Small projects like these can make a big difference in how you experience and enjoy your home. Even better, Marin County offers a $100 rebate on new, water-saving toilets. Look here for details an other ways to earn rebates or check your local source for rebate info.
What's up at Amy's house?
When it was time to rebuild the front deck at my house, I knew I'd appreciate it much more if I cleared out the overgrown garden area. I confess, I'm no gardener. It had been neglected for years. It took a few hours, but wow, what a difference! Now, what does a non-gardener do with a nice garden plot?
Even though I don’t make formal New Years resolutions, I can’t help but think about how I want the new year to be different and better. What are you thinking about? How is this year going to be better than every year before? Tell me if any of these make you think, “That’s me!”
Whether you get help or do it on your own, I know you can make it happen. Just take the first step.
1. I’m going to clear off my desk, purge my files, and make my office a pleasant place to work again. I know it’s overwhelming, but just bite off the smallest portion possible. Usually, sorting through papers and getting rid of everything you know can go straight into the recycling bin is a great place to start. It’s quick and easy and leaves you with a much smaller pile to deal with.
2. I’m going to tame that closet that makes me fear an avalanche every time I open it. You might want a buddy for this one and a block of time. I recommend pulling everything out so you can see what you’ve got and start with a clean slate putting the keepers back in.
3. I’m going to clear out the garage, getting rid of all that stuff I don’t need, so I can find all the stuff I do. Schedule a time when you can fully commit to driving your cast-offs to a charity drop-off. Load up as much as you can and drive it away that day. If you’ve got too much, some charities will pick up. You don’t have to be 100% thorough, which can bog you down and drag out. Just a down-and-dirty quick once-through will likely yield a good carload.
4. I’m going to make room in the kitchen so I can find everything and cook peacefully. This one can be easier since kitchens are already divided into cabinets and drawers. Starting with countertops can help clear your mind enough to take on what’s lurking behind cabinet doors.
5. I’m going to eat healthier foods. It seems everyone I talk to is concerned about this issue, and no one wants to give up their favorites. Unless your doctor has ordered you otherwise, I recommend making just one small change at a time. Eliminate one food that doesn’t serve you well or add another serving of veggies every day.
6. I’m going to work out regularly. I mean it this time! I’ve struggled with this one myself, and after years of feeling like a failure, I came to a realization: I hate the gym. I just needed to find another way to exercise. Pick something you actually enjoy doing and can maintain as a routine. Most of all, be realistic so you set yourself up for success!
See if you can find the fun in all this! Invite a friend over to help and cook her a nice meal afterwards. Pull your family together and celebrate together when you see what you’ve accomplished. If you need professional help, I’m ready to dive in and tackle the toughest spots you’ve got. Help is just a phone call or email away.
Old road atlases and maps
One outdated road atlas will last for years. I like to choose a page of the atlas that’s relevant to the recipient. I’ve also got a stack of world maps I get from charities. They’re great for larger gifts.
If you’ve got kids, you’ve probably got a stockpile of drawings and paintings. Show them off to other family members and cull your collection a little.
If you’re a sewer or an interior designer with old swatch books, you probably have a healthy supply of fabric that’ll class up your gifts and send your overstock to a new home.
Newspaper or funny paper
A time-honored tradition, yet still a great one. Embellish plain newspaper with colored markers or colored scraps of paper.
Turn these inside out and decorate to your heart’s content. Colored markers or ribbon will make this minimalist wrapping look elegant.
Dig deep into that drawer and find some that haven’t seen the light of day for years. They’ll turn an ordinary package into a work of art.
Perfect for certain kinds of packages, it’s festive and shiny and molds around any shape.
You’ve been saving it for years, right? You’re probably not ever going to need it for your walls. This thick paper is great for larger packages.
They pretty much always have great photos, and they’re destined for the recycling bin.
Tins, cans and jars
Tins and cans can be covered with any of the paper mentioned above, and jars need only tissue paper inside and a bow on top. Voila!
What I’ve noticed about people at parties is that if it’s not easy to eat something, they probably won’t eat it. After all, the main reason for attending the party is enjoying the company. No one wants to be looking for utensils or serving pieces or wondering how to cut something. Whether you’re hosting the party or just bringing a contribution as a guest, here are some helpful tips:
What's up at my house?
Let me start by saying our phones and voicemail are very personal, and everyone has his/her own way of managing them. That said, Google Voice has totally transformed the way I use my phones. I’m so pleased with the improvement I want to share it and offer ways it might help you. No, I'm not getting paid to proselytize. ;-)
One number for everything
First, you'll choose a new Google Voice number (and keep your existing numbers). Then, you can set up Google Voice to ring both your landline and your mobile phone. When someone calls your Google Voice number, both phones ring simultaneously. You choose which one you pick up. You can even answer the phone from your desktop computer when you’re logged into any Google service, such as Gmail or Google+, so Google Voice is especially convenient if you're already a big Google user.
I love having one phone number for all purposes, both personal and professional. Now people call just one number to reach me, and I choose to answer the phone most convenient for me. It’s super simple and easy.
Voicemail any way you like it
My biggest reason for switching to Google Voice (GV) was for its voicemail. I had a psychic block with that stutter-tone on my landline and never wanted to listen to messages. With GV, I’ve chosen to send all new voicemails to my email. I can see who the call is from and even get a transcription of the message. OK, I admit, the transcription can be comically mangled sometimes, but I can always get an idea of what the call is about, which I find very convenient.
I love voicemails in my email, because:
With GV, I text for free and don't need a paid mobile text plan. Also, I’ve set it up to send me texts in email (!), so I see texts arrive while sitting at my desk and type a response on a real keyboard. You can also see voicemails and texts with the GV widget in your browser.
You can use all or none of the features I’ve mentioned. You can customize it endlessly. Even if you don’t want to give everyone you know a new phone number for Google Voice, you can still benefit from some of these features. You can use the voicemail feature by simply forwarding all unanswered calls to the GV number. Your caller doesn’t know it’s happened, but you’ll get your voicemail through Google Voice. If you set up the landline and your mobile phone with this forwarding, all your voicemail will be in one place, which I love. Never worry about missing a message again.
For me, getting my voicemails and texts in email is very convenient. You can configure GV to do what works for you. Oh, and all this is FREE. What could be better?
Amy is an entrepreneur, and has been a successful designer and business owner since 1996. With an architect father and interior designer mother, she's been thinking about how to make a home work all her life. As a child, she loved organizing her closet and found designing her dollhouse more appealing than playing with dolls. She went on to graduate from Rhode Island School of Design with a degree in industrial design. Due to the breadth of her design education, she’s able to assess a room as a whole and instinctively know how to make it work better. Evaluating the contents and functionality of a space is second nature to her.