Five Ways to Improve Your Focus

improve-focusDo you struggle with focus at work (or, hey, at home)? What tips and tricks have you found to improve your focus?  I am always looking for the best ways to improve my focus, but keep coming back to a few ideas…

  1. Eat that frog. I have yet to read the book of the same name by Brian Tracy, but I really like the idea: whatever you’re procrastinating on most — your “frog” — get it done first thing in the morning.  As in: eat the frog. (Half of the trick here is knowing what your frog is!)  Once the frog is out of the way, I find that my mental focus is a lot better — or, at least, I’m free to procrastinate on other things. [Read more…]

Decluttering, Selling, Donating, Kondoing, and More

declutteringWe are doing a major declutter of our apartment, and I just feel completely scatterbrained because of it.  We donated a good chunk of stuff to charity a week or two ago, I have a ThredUP bag filled and ready to go, and yesterday some eBay auctions ended, so I’ve been scrambling today trying to get packages out to people. (The last time we did a major declutter we talked about eBaying and selling your old stuff, as well as what the best stuff to buy on eBay is; we’ve also talked about thrifting for workwear.)  We are trying to get rid of a ton of baby stuff via the local parents’ listserv, first offering it for sale and then issuing curb alerts, which requires more email management.  (The woman who sent her nanny to pick up the Bumbo this morning sent like 10 texts, which is fine, but considering it was a $5 sale, the drain on my attention was less than good.)  It is a colossal waste of time, when looked at per hour. And here’s the thing that I’ve been asking myself all morning:  Why do I feel obliged to do this, make “use” of stuff we no longer want? Why am I not just walking it to the trash chute/garbage room and disposing of it?  I answer myself with these thoughts:
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Apps for Working Women: What Are Your Favorites?

apps-for-professional-womenLadies, what are your favorite apps for working women?  I rounded up some of my favorite Android apps  a few years ago, but now that I’ve switched over to iPhone (in December 2014), I’ve been collecting an ever growing list…

  • Pocket.  After our post on information overload, I did such a good job of getting my Pocket cleaned up, primarily thanks to dumping stuff that was “for later” in Evernote.  (At one point I went from something like 1250 articles to read later, down to 200 articles.) Then I got pregnant and had another baby, and it’s out of control again. The app has stopped counting, though, so I’m not sure how bad it is — I just opened the app on my phone and it said it was downloading a 158 new ones.  Sigh.  At least I’m never short on reading materials…
  • CalenMob.  I love my Google Calendars, and have several — a personal one, one to schedule Corporette stuff, one for my sons’ stuff, etc. — and it never seemed like iPhone’s native calendar did a good job of syncing them.  CalenMob bridges the gap for me. There is a free version and a “pro” version for $6.99 — I just bought the pro version.
  • Sheets. Excel seems to be my default program of choice these days, so I like being able to edit everything in Sheets.
  • If This Then That.  I’m still playing around with this one, but Lifehacker is perpetually in love with it.  What recipes are you guys using?
  • Key Ring.  Handy for when you have a bunch of store cards/loyalty cards and don’t want to carry them all with you, so you can scan the bar codes and so forth into the app.
  • Pinterest.  I love this for collecting visual ideas — decor things I want to try, outfits I like, etc.  You can follow us at http://pinterest.com/corporette.
  • Evernote.  I use this like Pinterest, but for articles.  I’m still figuring out how to make the most of it, to be honest, but it was a great way to unload my Pocket reading list when I first started.
  • Dropbox. As I mentioned at CorporetteMoms in our post on organizing family photos, I love Dropbox — we first started using it back when I was on Android and my husband was on iPhone (and I’m also just generally suspicious of Apple’s iCloud stuff), and the love continues.
  • Sleep Cycle.  I’m still searching for the best “hack your sleep” app; at the moment I like Sleep Cycle.
  • Seven.  This app is great if you want a really focused workout — it’s a seven minute HIIT workout, inspired by a NYT article.  Do multiple cycles to get the most effect, of course, but even one cycle can help.  I also just downloaded the app Seconds to try to find a way to put HIIT intervals on top of music (but haven’t had a chance to try it out yet).
  • DarkSky.  Wondering what the weather will be like in the next HOUR? Dark Sky is great for that — it was designed by two people who were driving cross country, and happened to get stuck inside the rest stop without umbrellas when one of those out-of-nowhere storms hit.  Would it last ten minutes or an hour?  They didn’t know, so they created an app for it.
  • Other basic must-haves: Seamless. Fresh Direct. Open Table. Shazam.  I don’t read a ton on Kindle (see my out-of-control Pocket list, ha) but I have that on there too.

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CRMs, Business Development Trackers, and Other Organizing Fun

How to Keep Track of Business Development Efforts | Corporette How can you track business development efforts, beyond traditional CRM (customer relationship management) software programs?  We’ve talked about how to build a book of business, but not how to organize those attempts.  Here’s reader EJ’s question:

I have accepted a new job that will involve less billable hours and more business development. I would like to keep track of new contacts made (even if it does not translate into business immediately) and business development generally (lunches attended/seminars/conferences) so that come my review, I can show my efforts and, hopefully, the tangible benefits. Can Corporette readers recommend any specific type of app/software to keep track of this kind of work and the results? Obviously, I will record all of my time in the usually way but I was hoping to use some sort of software/app to collect the data and the results. Any suggestions would be helpful.

Great question, and congrats to EJ on the new job!  I can suggest a few things here, but I’m curious to hear what readers say…

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How to Organize Your Office

How to Organize Your Office | CorporetteLet’s talk about a subject near and dear to our hearts, ladies: how do you organize your office and your work (or otherwise get things done)? We’ve talked about cute office supplies, the best notebooks, planners, and office padfolios — as well as how to keep notes to CYA — but we haven’t talked about this directly.  Reader A wonders:

I would love to see more articles on the best ways to organize your work in the office, i.e., a folder with separate notes for each project or client v. one notebook for all meetings/projects, how to organize your day or to-do list, how to turn meeting notes into a to-do list, etc. I’d also love some suggestions on day planners, notebooks, and other office supplies.

Fun topic!  Personally, when I was a lawyer, I played around with having a single notebook per case, as well as having one notebook or notepad that I grabbed whenever I was heading out to take notes.  If memory serves I finally settled on a folder system — I would keep one “general” folder with all of my initial notes from prior pleadings and general strategy notes, and then I’d start a new folder for each major assignment I was tasked with (memo, research, portion of a brief, whatever).  I would keep the recent and active folders near my desk in a folder tower (where each case had its own little slot — something similar to what I had is pictured above), and then move them to a filing drawer or redweld once the case was Really Truly Over, or once the assignment got stale enough and I needed more room closest to my desk. (Oh, and I love my label maker.) [Read more…]

Guest Post: How to CYA at Work

How to CYA at Work | CorporetteRecord keeping — fun, right? But: it can really help you cover your butt at work when you need to. So how DO do you organize, file, and otherwise keep track of your meeting notes, emails, and phone calls? Today’s guest post brings you some excellent advice from Belle of Capitol Hill Style — CHS on CYA, so to speak. Thanks to Belle for passing along these tips (and welcome back to the blog)!

Working in politics taught me a number of valuable lessons, the most important of which was how to keep excellent records. I save emails, letters, memos, and meeting notes because you never know when you’re going to need a paper trail. So when Kat asked me to write a post detailing how to cover your ass at work, I was happy to oblige.

Let’s start with the foundation of CYA, keeping good records:

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