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

Happy 4th from TheElephantInMyRoom.net!.. and 10 Awesome Travel tips and tricks whether it’s business or pleasure!

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Well, hello there, stranger!  I know… but with good reason.  I encourage anyone, especially business professionals/entrepreneurs, to always schedule some much needed down time whether alone or with loved ones.  It is so refreshing and a great way to come back fired up and ready to go.  It is so great.  On that note, it made me think about this coming 4th of July weekend and the vacation season that is upon us.  So I’ve found 10 awesomely helpful tips and tricks to help you rest easier and enjoy your travels whether it’s for business or pleasure.  So let’s jump right in.

  1. As you are planning your trip, be sure to create a handy check-off list of the items you are bringing.  All too many times we have the frustrating experience of forgetting something at the hotel or in a rental car.  Avoid it by taking a little time to create or print out an inventory list that you can tuck away in your luggage.  So when you are preparing to return home, you can check off every item you brought with you to assure you it leaves along with you.  Boom.  Done.
  2. Uh, oh! Let’s say you did leave something… like your cell phone charger.  You check into your hotel room just to find out you forgot your charger at home.  Well, here’s a friendly tip:  Hotels are a notorious place where people leave things, especially phone chargers.  Check with the hotel staff to inquire about an unclaimed phone charger that you could put to good use.
  3. Now, one of my favorite topics, storage.  Need a safer, more sanitary way to store your razor blades during travel?  Here’s a simple and free way to do it with a common item you already have… use a binder clip.  Yes, place a binder clip over your shaving blade.
  4. Jewelry is another commonly left item during travel.  So hold on to your precious goods a little longer by storing them in small storage containers (like the Really Useful Box containers that I mentioned in a previous post) or in a sock tucked away in your luggage, especially one of those lone socks when you just can’t find the other.
  5. Place tissue paper in between the items of clothing in your luggage to reduce wrinkles or place dryer sheets in your luggage for that fresh-out-of-the-dryer scent.
  6. Have a broken suitcase zipper?  Loop one of those souvenir key chains from a previous trip through the slider and there you have it!  As good as done… even better.
  7. So you’re out-and-about at a theme-park with your family or at the gym so you want to pack light… especially cash.  Unfortunately, some things are not accessible with a swipe and it’s equally unfortunate that theft is real.  But you have to carry some form of cash.  A couple of things to consider: a.) carry small amounts of cash at a time or what you absolutely need and b.) invest in a sports bra or undershirt with built-in pockets (ladies… this option beats mom’s old secret bra stash… yeah.)
  8. So you’re sitting at the airport, waiting on your flight, and need access to Wi-Fi? How about free Wi-Fi? Well, in the words of a certain tech company, “There’s an app for that…”.  There’s actually a pretty good app for that from what we hear in JiWire’s free Wi-Fi finder for smartphone users.  It has the ability to locate free networks worldwide.
  9. Speaking of airport apps, how about some travel apps.  Look into apps like TripIt or FlightTrack for flight information and more, as well as, a friendly app for relatives or business partners (especially those who want to avoid the “merry-go-round” trip around the airport to pick you up) called Just Landed.
  10. Finally, before you head out to your flight, always check the current and expected weather conditions for your destinations.  Summer is known to whip up some severe weather conditions and it would save you the trouble to plan ahead.  So it’s worth checking into some weather tracking apps like The Weather Channel or Accuweather.  They are free and offer some great features such as health risk assessments, storm maps, and forecast breakdowns by the hour.

I hope these tips were helpful and if you have some tips that you’d like to share with us, feel free to post them below in the comments.  Enjoy this weekend, everyone, and get ready for new posts to hit your inbox soon.

– Sy

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

 

Happy Good Friday, guys!  Today’s post is dedicated to entrepreneurs who need ideas specifically for storing product inventory.  So this is a little something for the distributors of companies like Mary Kay, Scentsy, Thirty-One, Avon, etc. If you have a business that requires you to store product in your home office, or home in general, then this is one of the many solutions that I’m swinging your way.  This awesome space belongs to a fun-loving blogger by the name of Chelsea, owner of Two Twenty One.  She is a very talented creator of home improvement and décor projects so I’ve decided to share her home office as our inspired space for today.

Shelving is everything when it comes to product storage, the more the merrier, in my opinion.  As long as your products are organized and contained well, you can expect to have a smooth transition throughout your workday.  I love how Chelsea utilized a number of creative storage methods within her shelving to not only keep it neat looking but she also incorporated her own personal style touches into the space.  Shelving is great to display your products for easy access and inventory management purposes.  But sometimes the pretty packaging of the products are just not enough for you to put it all out there.  Storage boxes and magazine file boxes would be a handsome solution for entrepreneurs who don’t want to necessarily display their inventory for the sake of compromising the look of their room décor or may be you’d just rather keep the product tucked away.  Floating shelves are another great solution for additional storage of products or supplies for your business (pictured to the left of Chelsea’s shelving unit).  Just group your products by category, label the boxes, and your set.

Well, here’s to a great three-day weekend, an amazingly Good Friday, and a beautiful Resurrection Sunday!  Enjoy it all and if you have an inspiring space that you’d like to share with us, feel free to comment below or visit the About page to contact me.  Why not inspire others to get organized and showcase your home-based business space?!

– Sy

Home-based Business Moving/Relocation series (Pt.3): Are cardboard boxes really as good for moving and storage as we’ve made them to be?

TheElephantInMyRoom.net

We recently had another round of rain and ice in the area but not as bad as the weather from the previous weeks.  Interesting enough the schools we’re eventually closed for the day; in all fairness, the bridges and bypasses were covered in ice and causing major problems for drivers on the road.  Let’s just say even salt trucks ended up on their sides… yeah.

On a positive note, the scenery has been looking pretty nice as a result…

TheElephantInMyRoom.net  TheElephantInMyRoom.net  TheElephantInMyRoom.net

As much as I love winter, I am kind of glad to see it go for one reason – ice.  How can something we so commonly see and use regularly (… not to mention, beautiful) be associated with damage?  But that’s just the reality of it.

So what does this have to do with cardboard boxes?  Well, I had this same question regarding boxes as I was organizing my storage unit a couple of years ago.  How is it that something we commonly use be associated with damage?  However, we continue to use them in spite of that fact.  Think about it… we assemble the boxes, line them with tape, and then pack and cram them with a bunch of stuff, some items of which carry a good deal of weight so that we end up dropping or spilling all of the contents inside them.  Then, we lift those same boxes, taking a risk of either pulling or causing serious injury to ourselves.  If we’re storing things in the boxes in places like the basement, attic, or a self-storage unit, we throw those same packed boxes on top of each other, causing them to become damaged or overused, and they’re never replaced in order to protect your precious valuables.  Not to mention the little critters that like to feast or hide in the boxes, especially in non-climate-controlled environments.  DAMAGE!

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Now with all that said, my suggestion is one of two things… when moving or even just storing your items, consider more sturdy, reliable forms of containment such as plastic bins with lids.  Plastic bins are a great solution because they are durable and they protect your items from water damage and bugs/rodents.  However, if you must use the cardboard boxes, keep these handy tips in mind in order to get the most use out of them and to preserve the items in them:

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  • Be sure to use boxes that are in the best condition possible.  You can usually call your local grocer or department store to request some of their used boxes in order to save you a few dollars, in comparison to purchasing them.
  • Replace boxes you may have that are showing clear signs of damage, like holes, tearing, or crushing.
  • Do not over-pack the boxes.  Leave plenty of room to close the boxes completely and comfortably packed enough to lift without risking damage to yourself (be sure to lift with your knees…ALWAYS!).
  • Be mindful of items that require proper temperature-control and store them accordingly, especially your PRODUCT INVENTORY.
  • When sealing your boxes, use at least three layers of tape to secure the bottom of the box in order to prevent items from falling out.
  • When stacking, store heavier boxes on the bottom and lighter boxes on the top.
  • Use the handy label tape that identifies what boxes go in what room or write directly onto the boxes with a bold magic marker.  Be sure to write the room name on the top and side of the box so that you can identify the boxes at two different angles.
  • Package like items together or items that you typically use together in the same box.
  • Boxes with handles are very convenient for moving. (Just so you know…)
  • In the process of preparing to move, store all boxes that need to be loaded onto the moving truck close to the door for easier access.
  • For those who plan to keep their current property or frequently visit, despite their relocation, separate boxes that will be loaded on the truck for moving to your new home from boxes that will remain for storage in your current home. This will prevent confusion and mingling of the boxes when the movers arrive.

So there you have it.  Just some of the great tips to consider when utilizing boxes for your move or storage.  To continue this series on moving/relocation tips, we’ll touch on cord organization and storage.  How often do we become frustrated by the constant tangling of cords under, behind, or on the desk?  Or how can we conveniently package, store, and recover our cords in the process of a move?

Oh trust me… I gotcha’…

– Sy

Home-based Business Moving/Relocation series (Pt.2): Declutter while you move… how?

TheElephantInMyRoom.net  TheElephantInMyRoom.net

In the previous post I shared how important it is to consider the size of your new space in order to determine if it will fit your specific storage needs.  When I was searching for my new home, I knew that we needed to consider not only the items that were in my apartment but also the items that were in my storage unit.  And coming from an apartment, if I was going to pay for more room, I at least wanted to get something that was going to accommodate everything I had without the added expense of off-site storage.  I posted a pic of what my storage unit looked like prior to me decluttering it about two years ago.

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We had a 5×5-inch unit that housed a combination of seasonal items, personal items, business supplies, and memorabilia.  Yeah… a lot for such a small space.  But by cutting some time out of my schedule on an early, Saturday morning, I was able to purge many of the items that I acquired over the years.  Now when I say “purge”, I mean I removed the items that I no longer needed or loved in different ways… not necessarily trashing things.  Some items I donated, sold, gave to friends, or recycled.  My new home came with an attached garage and now everything we needed to store in the house fit perfectly.

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Preeetty goodSmile.  The garage is a work in progress but it’s blessing my family right now… and our pockets.

All of this leads to my next moving tip… decluttering.  This is the perfect opportunity to declutter your home as well as your home-based business spaces.  Save yourself another headache of transitioning to a new place with a ton of items, much of which you probably forgot you had and don’t need.  Some of those things you may find useful in your new place because you may not have had a chance or the space to use them.  But be sure you actually need those particular items.  My philosophy is if you have to make it work in your space then you don’t need it.  You have to have a genuine need for them.  Apply this to your business items as well.  You have enough to deal with as far as household items, let alone your business items.

Check and recheck your business inventory.  Be mindful of expiration dates and low supply.  Discard damaged or unsellable items.  Wait to restock or reorder after you get settled in.  This will make your transition much easier – less to transport equals less stress.  As far as the inventory you currently have in your stock, pack and label the moving boxes according to how you typically store them so that it will be as simple as just taking them out of the box.  Pay special care to any temperature-sensitive items.  If you have to change the current system of organization that you have to accommodate your new space then refer back to the photos you took of the new space and create a plan.  (You can refer back to my post on creating a plan to get organized – – Smile.)

When it comes to your office supply, you can actually have too much.  For example, if your desk caddy is overloaded with pens, pencils, and paper clips then, yeah, it’s probably time to let a few go.

Create defined areas in your current space such as a “Keep” area, a “Donations” area, a “Trash” area, and a “Storage” area (for those who find that you may still need additional storage for things like business inventory or you are moving into a smaller space).  You can then label the boxes or items within the “Keep” area based on the specific places you want them to be in your new home.  For example, you may have toiletries and bath towels in the “Keep” area, so box and label them as Bathroom or Linen Closet.  Box and label like items together… in other words, pack your items according to where you actually store or use them.  Remember, you want to keep it as simple as taking them out of the box.

Well, since we’re talking a lot about boxes, I thought it would be a great opportunity to dig into some tips on those.

Are those cardboard boxes really as good for moving as we have made them to be?… Hmmmm.  More on that on the next post…

– Sy

Product Review! (Home-based Business Organizing)

This week I chose a home-based business space that inspired me to find solutions for storage in a shared space.

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There was one particular item in this space that stuck out for me especially since I bought something similar to it a couple of months ago for my home business space.  That item was the rolling file drawers (found under the desk).

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I loved them so much that they put me in the mind of a similar product I purchased in December – a rolling cart by Recollections.

Recollections 9-drawer rolling cart

Prior to purchasing this cart, I was in serious need of storage for my business documents and office supplies so when I received a text from my local Michael’s craft store regarding a MAJOR sale on rolling carts, I jumped right on it.  I practically begged my husband to get me one and apparently it worked.  This cart retailed for around $80 and I got it for $29.  Um, yeees, a steal!  With a little assembly and an hour of my time, I got this baby up with very little fuss.  It contained simple instructions, a “tolerable” number of parts, and perfect storage for items such as 8.5 x 11-inch paper, files, tools, office supplies, etc.

   

Below are the pros and cons of this product based on my personal experience:

 

It is lightweight but solid (meaning, that it can hold up well and doesn’t come off as being cheap and unreliable).  I saved a lot of money on it from the sale but the quality seems good.  What I didn’t like was how sharp the metal tracks were while I was assembling them.  I cut myself pretty good but, nevertheless, I just knew to be a little more careful from that point out.

I love the wheels on this cart but they also come with breaks.  They snap securely in place to anchor the cart right where you need it.

With this unit, I got nine drawers – 6 smaller, flat drawers and 3 deeper drawers.  They are very durable, spacious, and slightly transparent.  Now, what I did not like was how tough it was to separate the drawers once I got them out of the box.  They seemed to be packed pretty airtight, which I’m sure was for the sake of trying to fit all of the parts into the packaging but, boy, was it a fight.

Here’s a few tips to keep in mind during the assembly process:

  1. Be sure the metal drawer tracks are aligned correctly on both sides, especially prior to tightening the screws.
  2. Pay special attention to the instructions on the front of the box as well as in the manual.
  3. Tape the extra screws provided (yes, there is actually extra screws in the pouch) to the inside corner of one of the drawers so that you can identify what they belong to and should you need them down the line.

Well that’s my spill on Recollections’ 9-drawer rolling cart.  Overall, I think this product is great and can fill a range of storage needs in any home-based business and beyond.  I must also mention that I have not been contacted by any of the companies mentioned in this post to do this review.  It was solely constructed by the decision I made to provide it based on my personal experience.  If you have any questions or comments regarding this product, feel free to leave it below.  Don’t forget to repost and/or share.

Until next week, guys, enjoy the weekend!.. and get cracking on those overdue organizing projects.  Get organized, stay organized!

– Sy

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

BHG.com

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