You can be far more productive (and avoid a lot of headaches!) by making a few small changes to your organizational system. This can work for both the office or in the home - and if you have a home-based business, then this is exactly what you need!
- Get a real filing cabinet, not a cardboard box. We're doing many things online now, but we aren't going to be a completely paperless society for a looooong time. Invest in a proper filing cabinet to hold all of your paper needs! Remember that you're going to continue to accumulate more paper over time, so get a slightly larger one than you think you'll need to account for future paper you need to document.
- Use trial and error to figure out what you use most frequently. When you're setting up your filing system, organize your file cabinet drawers based on what you use most and less frequently. You can also make a simple reference sheet in Word which outlines all of your file folder names and which drawer they're in so as to find them easily. Within each drawer, arrange files in alphabetical order.
- Enhance and improve your storage options. Take into consideration what works for you right now - and what doesn't. If you don't have a lot of floor space but you have high ceilings, opt for a skinnier, taller filing cabinet. Choose folder sizes that work for your typical document size (I recommend using slightly longer file folders, since some legal and professional documents are typed on 8.5 x 14 paper rather than our typical 8.5 x 11). And lastly, think carefully about where to place your filing cabinet! It should be easily accessible so that it takes no time at all to file documents as soon as they arrive.
- Ruthlessly purge. Get rid of old documents that you don't need anymore. How many old papers are you holding on to "just because"? Be sure to shred or burn any personal items, and also double check that you aren't throwing out any important records that you need to hold onto! But old appliance manuals for appliances that broke a year ago, generic form letters, and membership documents that have long since ceased... chuck them.
- Set aside some time every week or two to ensure your system is all in check. Ideally, every single paper you receive will get filed immediately! But let's be realistic: that's not likely to actually happen every time. So instead, try to make a point fairly regularly to check if you need to file anything. It's better to let things pile up for a week and then take the time to file them properly than to shove papers into a folder and not know where you put it later.
What are your tips for organizing your filing system? Share in the comments section below!
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National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is just around the corner! The fun begins on November 1st, and the idea is to write a 50,000-word novel over the course of one month.
I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo this past July (read all about my experience with Camp NaNoWriMo by clicking here), and I'm looking forward to participating in NaNoWriMo next month. Of course, if you're going to write a draft of a novel in the space of one month, it's a good idea to plan ahead!
Here are my tips for preparing for NaNoWriMo:
- Decide ahead of time what you want to write about. Typically, people write novels for NaNoWriMo. But what will your novel be about? What genre do you want to write? Do you know what the main plot will be, or who your main character is, or from what point of view you'll write? It's a good idea to plan this out so that you can just start writing on Day 1 of NaNoWriMo. For July's Camp NaNo, I wrote a business book, so I think I'll be a NaNoWriMo "rebel" in November and continue working on my series of business books rather than work on a novel.
- Figure out what your schedule will look like in November. Are there certain days or weekends that are already looking hectic? When will you have time to fit in writing? Are you going to set aside a couple days each week for doing huge amounts of writing or write a bit every day? NaNoWriMo often does writing "marathons" some days during the month, in which you're supposed to write as much as you can in a day and that sort of thing. Why not create some of these mini challenges for yourself? It's an especially good idea if your schedule is busy - you might be better off writing larger chunks on fewer days than trying to write every single day of the month.
- Create an outline. If you know what you'll be writing about, it's not a bad idea to have a brief outline written up. For myself, I plan on putting together the table of contents for a business book or two in the next couple of weeks. That way, I'll be able to start writing the chapters on November 1st, and I'll know exactly what I want to write about in the book. You want to take advantage of letting the creative juices flow throughout NaNoWriMo. It's no fun if you get stuck because you don't know what should come next! If you give yourself an outline, you'll have something to go on in case you need it. And if you end up branching out in a different direction, that's okay too!
- Collect your writing supplies. What do you need to do your best writing? Is there a specific type of music you like to listen to? Caffeinated beverages you need to stay alert? Pictures to inspire you? A special notebook and pen to write ideas as they come to you on the go? Gather all of your supplies ahead of time so that they are ready to support you once you start writing on November 1st.
- Plan for hiccups. Sometimes things come up and get in our way. To really set yourself up for success this year for NaNoWriMo, it's a good idea to expect hiccups to happen! If you choose to write a 50,000-word novel in November, that breaks down to about 1,667 words per day. With that in mind, plan to write 1,700 words each day, and try to get a jump-start at the beginning if you can. This year, November 1st falls on a Saturday. Why not try to write several days' worth of words in that first day? There might be other days when you just aren't feeling it or when other things come up, so if you can plan to get ahead of schedule, you'll be that much more likely to reach your goal.
What do you do to prepare for NaNoWriMo? Are you participating this year? What will you write about? Share in the comments section below!
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This is the month of mid-terms for many university students. I've been finished school for many years now, but while I was in university I picked up a lot of great strategies for studying for exams. My toughest subject was History of Science - great course and professor, but understanding the science component was tricky for me (communications and English might have come naturally to me, but it was a whole other thing when I entered the math and science realm!). That was the class that I really had to put my studying practices to good use, and it certainly paid off.
My best tips for studying for an exam:
- Set aside the time for it. Plan for proper study time - don't just do it on a whim while you're on the bus!
- Bring together all of your notes and re-read them. Presumably, you took notes for a reason. Go back through them again! Re-write them as needed, and get out a highlighter and a red pen for the key points.
- Use flash cards. If you start studying far enough in advance, you can get fancy with your flash cards and color code them and put a question on one side and an answer on the other. Otherwise, keep it simple: just write a few main points on each card, or just a single question, and make sure that you can answer it fully or expand as you might need to on an exam.
- Make full use of your space. Pace around the room if you need to (that's one of my personal favorites). You might also want to use your hands to draw out complicated diagrams in the air (this worked really well when studying for my History of Science class!), or even act out things to help you re-learn and remember them.
- Create mnemonic devices. If you need to remember a series of terms, use acronyms and create silly sentences using the first letter of each word to help you with word association. A word of caution: these are no good if you forgot the terms you're supposed to remember! This worked for some of my classes, but it's best used as a supplementary learning tool.
- Get a study buddy. Studying for History of Science was made so much better because I studied with a girl in my class. We were both at the same level for that class, so it made studying together beneficial for both of us. Generally if one of us didn't understand something, the other did, and vice versa. That was the only class that I ever had a study buddy, and it can be tricky to find someone you can really study with and learn a lot with, but don't be afraid to study with a few different people to see who works best with your learning style.
- Once you've got a good handle on the subject, THEN you can start thinking about it on the bus. When you feel like you've got a really good foundation or base on studying for the exam, now is the time to go through it in your head while you're waiting in line, etc. At this point, you should be at a level where you can think of most of it while you're running through the questions in your head (although it's also a good idea to bring a cheat sheet with you if you need it!). This will be a good practice for the exam itself.
- Understand how YOU learn best. Ultimately, different studying practices are going to work better for different people. Figure out what works best for you and make sure you use it to the fullest!
What are some of your studying techniques? Share in the comments section below!
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