Hey, “Elephants” like to hang out on campus, too! (Organizing tips for Student Entrepreneurs)

Yes, apparently, “elephants” don’t discriminate!  No matter what shape, form or fashion in the corporate or business world, you can become a casualty of the “clutter giant”.  Even YOU, student entrepreneurs! Getting organized is the only “elephant repellent”… that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  So these are just a few simple organizing tips to help you balance life as a ‘trep and as a college student.

  • Purge books that you no longer need.  There are a number of ways that your books can contribute to a lot of good.  Whether it’s helping other students to save money by selling your books to a buyback program or local sites like Craigslist, or donating to local libraries or thrift stores, or holding a book swap party at your place.  Who doesn’t like a party?!. throw some much-needed textbooks in the mix and you’re the campus rock star.)
  • Plan ahead… create a schedule and stick to it.  Take care of things while you have the time.  As a matter of fact, take care of things ahead of time instead of putting them off.  It can absolutely create a stress-filled domino effect to the rest of your day and possibly the week.  Think about it… would you rather be the one who’s, literally, handling your business more focused, confident, and excited about the day ahead?  Or would you rather be the one who’s always on edge, playing catch-up all week between servicing customers and chasing the clock between classes?  Also, if you have a business that you operate on a seasonal basis, like during winter or summer breaks, use the time when you’re not operating your business to prepare for business for the next season. Save money, focus on marketing to acquire new customers/clients, make any modifications to your schedule to reflect changes for that upcoming season, etc.  Having a schedule helps you to develop discipline and the motivation to obtain your goals, both in business and while in school.
  • Maintain control of the “elephant” sitting on your desk… paper clutter.  This is bigger than a paper trail, people… it’s a peanut trail!  Let’s just be honest… you will always have some sort of paperwork waiting for you on your desk whether it’s for business or school.  So I want to be as realistic as possible when it comes to this issue.  The problem is not having a lot of paper, it’s how you are managing it.  The key is control.  Create a paper system.  Start by determining what documents you TRULY DO NEED, seriously…because those three-year-old business lunch receipts and even older class registration forms are not getting it.  As you go through your paperwork, break out your label maker and sort them by general category, like ‘Business’ or ‘School’.  Then create sub-categories within each of your general categories.  Like for ‘Business’, you may want to create sub-categories such as ‘Receipts’, or ‘Business Forms’, etc.  For ‘School’, you might consider a ‘Financial’ sub-category or create sub-categories by classes – hey, it’s a great temporary option for that never-ending syllabus collection every semester.  It doesn’t matter how you do it as long as it’s relevant and convenient for you… unless, of course, you are a part of a team of people (like employees or business partners) then, yes, you have to be a little more considerate.  Check out a previous post I did on this very scenario on sharing a space.  Include your team in the decisions regarding your newly organized paper system.  Once, you’ve given every sheet or document a category home, guess what?  You’re done!  Then all there’s left to do is to file them away and be disciplined in taking ten little minutes, each day, to putting things back where they belong after you’re done with them.  In other words, don’t wake up the next morning to an “elephant massacre” all over your work area.  It is NOT pretty, as I’m sure you already know.
  • Got off-site storage?  Treat it as if you live there.  If you are a student entrepreneur who acquires a business inventory and you’re short on storage because you live in on-campus housing or you share an apartment, then this tip is for you.  However, be sure to keep your storage unit very organized, especially in cases where you store business inventory and personal items together.  Create sections based on what you have and purchase sturdy, damage-free products to store your items in.  You want to protect your business investment and your personal items.  Label everything!  Organize this space as if you were living in it.  You need to be able to find what you need when you need it; so make it as simple as “go in, grab it, and get out.”  No more shuffling through a bunch of “stuff”.  Who needs that?!

Owning a business entails having control and that includes having control over your living, work, and storage spaces.  Otherwise, you just end up with a big, fat problem on your hands.

That “elephant”… I tell you…

– Sy

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How can a mirror, a picture frame and a game board help you organize your work area this summer? (Organizing tips for business professionals and entrepreneurs)

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In the 80s, I use to like a show on the CBS network called, MacGyver (… for those of us who remember it).  Although it was fictional, I enjoyed how the main character, Angus MacGyver, would just get common objects around him and create something totally different but functional.  I was a kid but even I knew that it was a genius concept and super cool at that.  So how does the concept of a show from over twenty years ago relate to getting organized?  Well, I’m going to share a few quick tips on how you can “MacGyver” or repurpose a mirror, a picture frame and a game board to help you organize your work area, whether it’s your office at work or at home.

Need something to post friendly reminders to yourself and prevent your desk from becoming a cluttered eye-sore?  How about creating a memo board… out of a mirror.  Why not take it a step further… a magnetic memo board!  Just grab a framed mirror that you really like (or take a short trip to your local thrift store), give it a little TLC by may be adding a coat of paint, swap out the glass with a metal sheet from your local home improvement store, cover it with some fabric, add a few magnets, and there you have it!.. you’ve got yourself a handy (and fancy, I might add) way to temporarily store those reminder notes, networking cards, or shopping lists.  It helps you to keep your desk cleared of the thousands of tiny paper-items we consume on a regular basis and, if you’re like myself, your memo board can be customized to fit the décor in your work area.  Check out a previous post I did on how I used this same concept to create a vision board.

TheElephantInMyRoom.net

Need a place to discreetly store away and maintain your mobile devices?  What if I told you all it takes is a dual, 8×10 picture frame and a drill? Now, you have a convenient and clever charging station.  Just remove a couple of the templates and the glass from the inside of the frame, carefully drill a hole in the side of the frame where you want to thread your device cords through, and WHAA LAA!  Wanna personalize it even more?  Take one of the templates and glass that was removed from the frame and place it on the top so that you can add your favorite photo.  Be sure to seal the glass down and the edges where the frame slides out in order to secure anything from falling out.

TheElephantInMyRoom.net   TheElephantInMyRoom.net   TheElephantInMyRoom.net

An organized desk usually consists of an area to neatly store your commonly used office supplies, some good lighting, a sorting tray for temporarily storing documents, and an area for your electronic devices or writing.  So keep this space light.  Most of that work surface on your desk is for writing or using your electronics.  How about using a marble game board and repurposing it into a tablet, keyboard, or book prop for your desk?  This is a great option if you don’t have a tablet cover that enables you to angle your device to reduce screen glare, or if you have a desktop keyboard that has a broken prop-up leg, or if you’re reading and would like to prop your book up slightly from the flat position on your desk.  Just open the marble board, placing the actual playing side face-down on the table or surface.  Using batting and fabric material, wrap it around the board and secure it with a hot glue gun.  Allow it to dry and in that little time you have a new prop board for your desk.  When you’re done with it, you can close the board and store it away, increasing your work surface.

TheElephantInMyRoom.net   TheElephantInMyRoom.net   TheElephantInMyRoom.net   TheElephantInMyRoom.net

BAAAMM!.. you’ve been MACGYVER’ED!!!  Enjoy these quick repurposing tricks to help you get your workstation organized this summer.  Remember to subscribe to this blog for many more tips on how you can evict the elephant in your room.  C’mon back!  We’d love to hear from you.

Until the next post…

– Sy

Home-based Business Organizing Tip #7: Recycling (How is it supposed to help me feel better about purging my things?..)

I was working with a client not too long ago and as we were going through his things, he had a hard time parting with some of the things that he clearly did not have a use for anymore.  After sharing with him some ideas of what he could do with them and the impact it could make, he began to see the idea of purging differently and was able to let go.  You see, sometimes we have a hard time with the idea that we just have to let some things go that we may not want to, no matter how much simpler it would make our lives.  We feel like there could be a “possibility” that we would need them at some point or we have some type of emotional attachment to them.  In turn, the process of purging has somewhat adopted a bad rep.  So instead of looking at it as if you are losing something, look at it for what it really is… a gain.  There’s many options besides throwing things in the trash.  But let’s face it, if you’ve been holding on to things that can realistically be replaced then it’s just time to give it up.  On the other hand, some of your items can benefit another person who could really use it as a donation.  Then there’s some items that can make an even bigger impact through recycling.  There’s many things that we use, whether it’s related to business or in our homes, that can be recycled… some of which we didn’t know could be recycled.  So in today’s tip, I’m providing a list of some of the common things I’ve found we as entrepreneurs should recycle… and even some things we should not.

Home-based Business Organizing Tip #7: Recycling

Paper (recycle)*

  • That morning paper (for those of us who still get them)
  • The continuous flow of computer, typing (for those of us who still do it), and writing paper
  • Mail fliers
  • Those old subscription magazines/catalogues
  • Still brown-bagging those lunches?  Yep, those bags should be recycled also.
  • Corrugated boxes
  • Paperboard boxes (the ones without the plastic windows)

*If you can not shred the paper items, place them in brown paper bags.  Be sure to remove staples or paper clips.  Flatten any boxes.

Paper (unrecyclable… toss it.)

  • Wrapping/tissue paper
  • Telephone books (yep, we still get those)
  • Paperboard boxes with the plastic windows

Metal (recycle)*

  • Aerosol cans
  • Aluminum foil/cans
  • Alkaline, rechargeable, watch and camera batteries

*Rinse the items clean and remove labels.  Make sure cans are completely empty and remove any caps.  Place batteries in a re-sealable bag.

Metal (unrecyclable… toss it.)

  • Paint cans
  • Clothes hangers
  • House siding, window frames and doors

Glass (recycle)*

  • Clear glass bottles/jars

*Discard the lids and rinse the items clean.  Remove the metal rings, plastic or foam labels (with the exception of paper labels)

Glass (unrecyclable… toss it.)

  • Dishes/ceramics
  • Light bulbs
  • Broken windows
  • Mirrors

Plastic (recycle)*

  • #1-7 containers (check for the symbol)
  • #2 and #4 grocery bags (check for the symbol)
  • Plastic items include such items as: milk jugs, water bottles, detergent, shampoo bottles, butter tubs, plastic yogurt cups, microwave food trays, plant flats, and flower pots

*Discard caps and rinse the items clean of food and drink residue.  Be sure that the plastic bags are dry and free of paper/receipts.

Plastic (unrecyclable… toss it.)

  • Bottles that can hazardous materials
  • Styrofoam cups, plants, peanuts, packaging, etc.
  • Garbage bags
  • Food storage bags
  • Dry cleaning bags/plastic film

So now you can feel better about parting with your items because of your contribution to preserving our resources.  You can smile now.

I hope this tip helped to motivate you to reconsider some of the things that you’ve been holding on to.  Now share it with others or feel free to share some of your recycling tips below.

Sy

Friday’s Inspired Space (Home-based Business Organizing)

TheIdeaRoom.netTheIdeaRoom.netTheIdeaRoom.net

Guys, today I am highlighting a space that inspired me this week from a fellow blogger over at TheIdeaRoom.net.  Amy Huntley, the owner and super-mom of five, unveiled her newly organized and decorated home office/craft space and I must say the pics that I’m sharing does it no justice.  When you have a moment definitely head on over to her blog and check out the rest of her gorgeous pics and also enjoy her many other creative projects.  She converted a room that was originally in need of some serious TLC into an amazing workspace for herself.  It took her some time but she is completely happy with how it all turned out (as she should have).

Organizing your home-based business space does not have to be an overnight success, just like your business may not be.  It’s about taking the time to sit down, evaluate what your needs are, and actually execute everything that needs to be done.  Tackle one area at a time and then when it’s all done, let it be motivation to not be put back into the same overwhelming situation again.  Realize that no one is perfect and that you may have tiny encounters with stacks of paper, inventory products, or the occasional stuffed animal that your two-year-old insists on leaving on the floor… but as long as you take a little time every day or at least a few times a week to put everything where it needs to be then you’re goldenSmile

Getting your home business space organized and keeping it that way can take your business a loooong way.  It never hurt anyone.

Enjoy the weekend, guys!  Really enjoy it… Lord willing, the business can stand to do without you until Monday.  Weekends are made for rest.

– Sy

Finally!.. We’re settled in!

Yeees!  So I am finally settled in to my new home… well, for the most part.  For the past, nearly two weeks, I’ve been transitioning from my old apartment to my new house and though I can’t say it was a piece-of-cake all of the time, I can say that everything worked out great.  All of my things have a new home and I actually managed to gain a separate space to construct my d.i.y projects.  With all that said, over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing tips on how you can transition to a new space as smooth as possible, especially if you work from home.  Not only was I moving myself over the past few weeks but I was also doing the same for a client; so this is going to be very helpful. I’m pretty hyped about it!  The tips will cover a range of things, from organizing your cords for easy recovery to executing a long-overdue decluttering process while you pack.  The key is strategic planning and pacing yourself prior to your actual moving day.  The moving process does not have to be overwhelming at all.  So if you are the type of person who tends to wait until the last minute to try and get things done, these tips are bound to change your perspective.

So gather your packing supplies, black magic markers, family or a few friends, and get ready to get moving.  This should be painless…

     

– Sy

Home-based Business Organizing Tip #6: Mastering the Art of the Shared Space

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Sooo, grasshopper… you want to know what it takes to stay organized while sharing your domain with a not-so-worthy ally?  Discovering that your spouse, roommate, children, or business partner is a double-agent… they may be for you and against you at the same time?  I see your elephant foe has managed to cause discord in your relationships as well.  Wisdom teaches that “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”  My my, what ever will you do?  If you so choose to accept the challenge set before you, you’ll need six key tips to stake claim of your victory and obtain harmony among the brethren:

  1. Set and post a business schedule or sign by the room you’ll be working in.  Choose the time of day when it is most quiet.
  2. Remove distractions during business hours.  This includes your family, friends, the pets, your personal phone, television, etc.  Explain to your loved-ones how important the business is to you and them.  Tell them specifically what they can do to offer their cooperation and support.
  3. When sharing a space with a roommate or business partner, work together to develop a system of organization and maintenance plan that will provide a happy medium for everyone.  Refer back to the previous organizing tips to assist you.
  4. Zone off an area or areas within a shared space in order to create a personal barrier specifically for your business.
  5. Label, label, label!  Label your business items to inform others that they are off limits.
  6. Stay disciplined and committed!  Don’t rob yourself of the time needed to complete each task you have throughout your business day for the sake of hanging out with friends… {clearing my throat} and, yes, this includes online, too.  Never compromise quality work!  Clients/customers notice those things.  Stay on you’re A-game.  You’ll appreciate it much more in the end… and so will your friends when you pick up the tab at the next hangout from that fat check you earned.  Uh, huh!  So discipline and commitment sounds preeeetty good right about now.  Totally worth the sacrifice.

Now that you have the tools you need to overcome the unrest in your territory, go forth, my pupil.  Go forth, peaceably and enjoy the fruits of your labor… together.

– Sy

Friday’s Inspired Space (Home-based Business Organization)

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In the spirit of creating boards of our visions, I decided to carry it over into this week’s inspired space.  As if creating a vision board wasn’t enough, how about a vision wall.  Or how about creating extra storage for those notes, stamp booklets, or networking cards.  Taking advantage of the vertical space (wall space) in your home-based business area(s) is the smartest move you can make when getting organized.  You spare yourself the floor or desk space and provide a huge convenience.  I’m sure anyone can appreciate a “grab-n-go” feature near their work area.

Well, here’s to another productive week.  Enjoy the weekend, guys!  Next week, we’ll dig into some tips that I’m sure will be helpful to your family, your business partner, or even a roommate, as we discuss the shared space.

Until then…

– Sy