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 Campaign for Flexible Working Conditions (Or, How to Change the Company Policy That Requires You Lug a Heavy Laptop Around)

How to Campaign for A More Flexible Workplace (Or: How to Ditch Your Company Laptop)How do you campaign for accessibility and flexibility in your workplace when the policies are less than ideal?  Yesterday’s post on how to lighten your tote bag got me thinking — I was so intrigued by the commenters who noted that they have to carry a huge, bulky laptop to and from the office because that is the the only approved way to get access to the office system.  When I was working in BigLaw, my firm used Citrix to give everyone access to the Docs Open system and other office programs — there were even times you could access document review programs from home.  (Ah, glory days.)  The only thing we needed to access the system was a small, flat device (a 2″ by 1″ fob) that displayed a long number that changed every thirty seconds. When you needed to log into the system, you entered the current security number.  That was five years ago, so it honestly didn’t occur to me that companies with information security issues would not be using something similar to Citrix in 2013.  (Even the Department of Defense has a better remote access option, according to a 2011 Lifehacker article.)  Maybe there are good reasons Reader R’s company isn’t using a secure remote system — but maybe it’s just an old policy that hasn’t been reevaluated in a while or from the right perspective. 

So readers, let’s talk about this — how do you change an office policy to make the conditions better for you (and those who come after you)?  Sheryl Sandberg talked a bit about this in Lean In — regarding how she insisted that the Google parking lot have spaces reserved for expectant mothers — and this was kind of mentioned in a recent NYT article about workplace flexibility  — but I can’t seem to find much else about this topic on the Internet.  For my $.02, here are some ideas… [Read more…]

How to Lighten Your Load

how to lighten your loadIf you’re carrying a million bags, how do you look professional?  How can you lighten your load and reduce the number of bags you’re carrying? Reader R wonders…

I work in a large corporate environment and recently had a daughter. I’m back at work, but I feel like a bag lady. I’m only 5’3″ and have to carry in my laptop, purse, pump, lunch, and coffee. (Not brave enough to add my gym bag to the mix, although I’d like to.) I feel like the bags overwhelm my frame and generally make me look smaller, younger, and unprofessional. How do others juggle all this STUFF?

Congratulations on your daughter, R!  Great question — I can see how this is a problem for new mothers, but also for other people carrying too much stuff.  We’ve talked about what your tote bag says about you, as well as how to save your back while commuting, but we haven’t really talked about a) how to lighten your load, and b) how to balance your load (particularly if you’re petite) so it looks more managed.

From my perspective, most of reader R needs to do is to reduce the amount of stuff she carries.  Some tips: [Read more…]

The Best Lists To Keep (That Might Seem Obsessive But Are Actually Super Useful)

The Best Lists to Keep | CorporetteI am kind of an obsessive list-keeper and note-taker. Back when I had a Palm Pilot, it was filled with ‘em; now that I’m on Android I’m still happily using the program B-Folders to keep track of my myriad lists. Am I crazy? Sure. (All the best people are.) But I sometimes really marvel at how useful my odd little lists are, so I thought we’d discuss — are you guys fond of lists?  Have you found that certain “weird” lists you make are really helpful from an organizing/productivity standpoint, either for life or work?

For my own $.02, here are some of the weirder lists I keep that I’ve found to be ridiculously useful (and how I use ‘em): [Read more…]

Tales from the Wallet: Tackling Big Debt

how to pay big debtHow do you pay off big student loans?  Can you manage your debt when you’re facing huge numbers, such as six figures? We’ve talked about when to save versus when to pay down debt before, but a number of readers have asked for a post on Really Big Debt, so let’s discuss (particularly since the interest rate just doubled on new Stafford loans!).  I polled some friends to ask who had a plan or success story that didn’t involve inheritance/lottery, and thought I’d round up their stories, anonymously, below — but readers, please share your own! Have you paid off major debt (student loans or otherwise)?  What is your plan to pay it off? (Pictured: one of Nordstrom’s top rated wallets: Hobo  ‘Lauren’ Double Frame Clutch, with 95 positive reviews. Available in six colors for $110.)

M’s Story: Some repayment assistance / A whole lot of payment discipline

So, on my loans: the total between grad and law school was about $130k. I was fortunate to go to a law school with a repayment assistance program for graduates working in non-profit organizations… which requires the 10-year repayment plan. I bit the bullet and went for it, feeling like I’d rather suck it up for ten years and be FREE than have student loans following me into my 50s. Consolidated all the loans (with super-low interest rates, hooray), signed up for repayment assistance, and made sure to sign up for auto-pay on the loans to make non-payment/paying less not an option. [Read more…]

Open Thread: Staycations

StaycationsWith the Fourth of July right around the corner (and a nice four-day weekend for most US readers), I’m sure a lot of people have travel plans.  For those of you who don’t, though, I thought we’d talk about staycations — what are your favorite things to do on staycations?

For my $.02, I’ve enjoyed a number of staycations through the years…

  • Museums.  For a long time, I used to take a regular museum staycation in the beginning of the year (usually either over the 3-day MLK weekend or the 3-day President’s Day weekend) — I would pick a few museums that I hadn’t been to in a while, or had great exhibits I hadn’t seen, and try to my tourist thing in NYC — and go to at least two a day.  I would normally be exhausted after the weekend, but I really did feel like I’d learned a lot (and felt like a tourist!). [Read more…]