Open Thread: The Best Apps for Helping with Information Overload

How to Deal with Information Overload | Corporette (my brain feels like this desk!)I’m curious, ladies — am I the only one who is crushed by the overwhelming amount of information hurtling my way on a daily basis?  I get about 600 emails daily.  Every time I log on to Facebook or Twitter I end up throwing at least 5 new articles onto my “read it later” list via Pocket (which now has something like 1150 unread articles).  Pinterest seems like a bottomless pit of recipes and DIY projects that I know I’ll never try but decide to Pin anyway.  Not to mention the numerous magazines I get monthly, and the 1000s of RSS feeds in my Netvibes reader. (In fact, when I first started this blog I swore I would never do more than a few posts a day because I had stopped reading other blogs like Jezebel and Gawker, overwhelmed by the sheer number of posts every day.)  So… how do you deal with information overload?  I have a few suggestions, but I’m really curious what you guys do — do you rely on certain apps?  Do you have methods (like maintaining inbox zero, or declaring email bankruptcy on a regular basis)? What helps?

For my $.02: [Read more...]

How to Schedule Appointments When You’re Very Busy

how to make appointmentsHow do you stay on top of hair cuts and other personal care appointments when you’re a busy professional? Reader S, who is about to start as a summer associate, wonders…

I’m in law school, about to start as a summer associate at a firm in NYC, and I was wondering if you had any advice on scheduling appointments while working at a firm. I know that as a summer, I probably won’t have the same workload as I would as a junior associate, so this is mostly a question for the future. When you were in BigLaw, how did you stay on top of things like hair cuts and waxing appointments? It just seem like the hours you need to be working and in the office would make it really hard to schedule things in advance or take the time off to get in with your favorite person.

Great question, S — for my $.02, the answer is to make friends with your calendar system. Let me explain:

- Schedule appointments at the first or last appointment of the day. Doctors, hairstylists, it doesn’t matter — everyone who is appointment-based falls behind. Another option: take advantage of weekend appointments where offered.

- Schedule WELL in advance. The first or last appointment of the day (or the weekend appointment) can be really hard to get, which is why you should try to schedule everything ahead of time, when you can afford to wait a few weeks or months. [Read more...]

Tales from the Wallet: Controlling Your Spending

how to control your spendingHow do you bring yourself back when you’re consistently over budget — what changes do you make, on either a small or large scale, to control your spending? We’ve talked about how to set a budget, as well as how to live within your means, but we haven’t talked about that thing that everyone needs to do from time to time:  rein yourself in when you’re spending more than you want to. There are two sides of this coin, I suppose.  First, maybe you’re spending too much and sending yourself into the red — credit card debt is climbing, other bills are going unpaid, etc. Second, maybe you’re still spending within your means, but you just feel like you’re out of control — maybe you were raised with a more limited budget, or maybe you just know you can save a lot more than you are right now.  Either way, the question is the same: how do you stop spending? (Pictured: Moyna Dollar Sign Pouch, available at ShopBop for $40.80 (on sale from $51).

I’ve done a number of things through the years, including: [Read more...]

How to Nap at Work

how-to-nap-at-workDo you nap at the office?  What are your best tips for napping at the office (possibly without getting caught)?  We took a poll on office naps a thousand years ago, but haven’t really discussed since then, and I thought it might be an interesting topic.

First, some factoids from the Internet — according to Inc., researchers concluded in 2010 that “napping can improve the brain’s ability to retain information, noting that a middle-of-the-day reprieve ‘not only rights the wrong of prolonged wakefulness but, at a neurocognitive level, it moves you beyond where you were before.'”  More and more offices are adding nap rooms (or buying “sleep capsules,” which give you a bit more privacy).  (On the flip side, as Salary.com notes, some companies still consider it grounds for firing – know your office!)  For the DIY-nappers, there’s even a fully funded Kickstarter campaign for a pillow that gives you a “micro environment in which to take a comfortable power nap” (pictured — you can now buy the pillow for $99). Apparently, in Japan napping is so popular among top executives that there’s an entire culture around it.  It’s important to note that napping is not necessarily “sleeping” — and even if you normally take 30+ minutes to fall asleep at night you can reap the benefits.  According to Lifehacker, Pzizz is a new tool that can help you “learn” to power nap (and help with nighttime insomnia too).

So, ladies — do you nap at the office?  Is there a nap room or other space available for napping, and do you actually use it?  Have you picked up any tips or tricks (signs on the door, special messages for your secretary, etc) that makes napping at work easier? [Read more...]

How Do You Make Your Evenings Productive?

Hard city sunset, originally uploaded to Flickr by angelocesare.What are the best ways to recharge after work — and reclaim those hours as a productive time for you? Reader R wonders:

Do you have any tips for recharging after work so you can have a more productive night? I keep reading about how mothers like Sheryl Sandberg go home and do another 5 hours of work after they put the kids to bed, but I’m exhausted by then! All I can do is stare at the TV with a glass of wine. Help!

I totally agree, R! I’m curious to hear what the readers say because evening productivity has always been one of my biggest struggles. (Pictured.) I’ve never been very successful at doing work work at home in the evening, but I have had periods where I’ve felt my evenings weren’t a total waste. Things I’ve done in the past include: [Read more...]

Open Thread: Keeping a Clean House When You’re Too Busy To Clean

Cleaning Supplies, originally uploaded to Flickr by SurvivalWomanSo:  one of the big tips they give to working women is to hire a cleaning lady.  I get it, I really do — but I still can’t bring myself to bring someone in more than once a quarter.  I’ve seen a ton of interesting Pins on Pinterest on how to keep your house clean (e.g., this one from The Budget Diet), and I know both Apartment Therapy and Real Simple have written about it in the past.  I know readers have discussed full-fledged “systems” like The Fly Lady cleaning system, as well as newer ones like, ahem, Unf@#$ Your Habitat (which even has an app).  There are even games out there, like Chore Wars! (Pictured: Cleaning Supplies, originally uploaded to Flickr by SurvivalWoman.)

For my $.02: I’ve been doing my own modified version of a few different systems, but in general I’m willing to commit 15 minutes a day to cleaning.  For our 2-bedroom, 1.5 bath, 1000 sq ft apartment, this is what it looks like:

  • Monday: clean bathrooms (counters, mirrors, toilets) and kitchen counters
  • Tuesday: Swiffer floors, dust apartment
  • Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday: spend 15 minutes doing Thing That Bugs Me (maybe it’s scrubbing the stove, or the shower, or decluttering the kitchen table, or cleaning a bathroom floor)

We tend to do laundry as needed throughout the week, and my husband (God bless him!) does most of the dishes and whatever vacuuming needs to be done.  I’ve found the perfect time for cleaning, for me, is after my workout, when I’m already sweaty and gross but want to cool down before I hop in the shower.  I’m starting to get more into nontoxic, green cleaners, and across the board I really like Method products over some other ones I’ve tried.

Readers, do you have a system for keeping your house or apartment clean?  If you have a partner or roommate, how do you split chores?