I was delighted to be included in articles on blogs published by a couple of prominent magazines recently!
I provided one of the tips for the article 9 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Get People to Respond to Your Email on FastCompany.com, affiliated with the business magazine. My tip is indeed simple, but effective: Write “Response Needed” in the subject line of the email. That blog post appeared on March 30.
Less than a week later, I was included in an article on GoodHousekeeping.com called 11 Secrets from the World’s Tidiest People. Now, if you have read this blog for any length of time you know that I am by no means one of the world’s tidiest people. In fact, I’m naturally messy. I gave full disclosure to the writer but answered her questions anyway. And she liked what I had to say. This just goes to show you that you can learn to be organized!
These articles are both great reads and I encourage you to check them out!
My Inbox Zero policy has taken a beating in 2016. I blame my puppy, Bix, for allowing me to get behind on it. (I blame Bix for a lot of things…it’s very handy.) But whatever the reason, I’ve had a really challenging time keeping my inbox in check this year.
I really love the habit of emptying my inbox daily. It has so many benefits. But it is one of those habits that’s a little harder to reinstitute after a backlog develops. I have no interesting in declaring email bankruptcy. i just want to get it down to zero and get back to a daily habit of keeping it down every day, if not to zero then to no more than ten.
I was working on it this morning. When I sat down at my computer I had something like 70 messages in my inbox. I set a goal of getting it down to 20. I surpassed that goal—I’m at 6 right now. I would really like to get it down to zero by the time I go to bed tonight.
So how did I go from 70 to 6 in the course of an hour or so this morning? I started with the low-hanging fruit. This is the order in which I took things:
That left me with six emails, all of which require some sort of consideration and reply. I am confident that given less than half an hour of focused time, I can take action and archive them before I go to bed tonight (and, of course, deal with everything else that comes in in the interim).
With email, as with clutter or so many other things, dealing with the easy items first can have a large impact. And once you’ve distilled the backlog, it becomes much easier to focus on the important items and take action.
I’m traveling now, but I have high hopes that I’ll get to zero in my inbox today and maintain it until I get home. (I am fortunate in that my schedule allows me some focused times in the morning on this trip.)
Taking just a few minutes a day to take care of the emails I consider the low-hanging fruit (or better yet, delete them the moment I see them), will help make this process easier.
ETA: It’s 10:30 p.m. on April 18 and I was able to get my inbox down to zero. It feels so good!!
Have you finished your taxes yet? If not, the government has a happy surprise: You have an extra weekend to get them done.
The deadline for federal taxes this year is April 18, rather than the usual date of April 15. That’s because this year, Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia is celebrated on April 15 and all Federal offices are closed. Emancipation Day is usually celebrated April 16, but that’s a Saturday this year, so it’s observed on the 15th.
Emancipation Day commemorates the April 16, 1862 signing by Abraham Lincoln of the Compensated Emancipation Act, which freed 3100 slaves in the District of Columbia, almost nine months before the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
If you live in Massachusetts or Maine, you get one more extra day because April 18 is Patriots’ Day, celebrated in those two states. So federal taxes in Massachusetts and Maine are due on Tuesday, April 19. (Please note that estimated taxes, which are mailed, are due on the 18th, even for residents of Massachusetts and Maine.)
I’d suggest checking your own state and local deadlines, however. Here in St. Louis, we have until the 18th to file state taxes, but city earnings taxes are due on the 15th as usual, as far as I can tell from the city’s website.
Our standard poodle puppy, Bix, was eight weeks old when we brought him home from the breeder. My camera is chock full of photos of adorableness. Back in January, I posted a cute pair of photos of Bix on the couch looking out the window.
Bix enjoys looking out the window from the couch and does it frequently. The other day I snapped a photo to send to my husband, who wasn’t home.
Looking back at that January blog post I was amazed at how much Bix has grown in just three months. So I thought I’d put the two pictures together here (the app Pic Stitch makes it easy).
The lefthand picture was taken January 3. The righthand one was taken April 2. It’s amazing how much a puppy can grow in three months!
Bix weighed about 15 pounds at the beginning of January and is 45 pounds now. He’s ten pounds heavier than his predecessor, Kirby, was at Bix’s age. Kirby grew up to be 70 pounds. So we may have a giant on our hands here!
Sometimes it’s hard to remember that such a big boy is really a puppy. Well, Bix reminds us daily, of course, but I think we place some unfair expectations on him at times. He’s really a very good boy.
I had a colonoscopy this week. I’m 53 (and a half) years old and for the past 3.5 years I’ve been putting off getting the screening colonoscopy—a procedure that can catch deadly colon cancer while it’s still treatable—that’s recommended for everyone at 50 years old.
I’m a smart woman. I know it’s a good idea to get a colonoscopy and that sooner is better than later. But I couldn’t get myself to do it. My college buddies encouraged me to schedule it (they’d done theirs). But I resisted. Finally, I got a new primary care physician and she basically made the appointment for me.
Why was I dragging my feet? Partly because of the horrible things you hear about the prep (the bowel has to be cleaned prior to the scope). But, in truth, there was also a certain amount of fear that there would be bad news. Irrational, but true. Because of course, if I did have colon cancer, it was better to know than not know. But not knowing bad news felts safer than knowing it.
Well, it turned out that the prep wasn’t all that bad. Not fun, but not tortuous. And the procedure itself was nothing, because I slept through the whole thing. When it was over the news was good—and immediate. Everything normal. Come back in ten years.
I can’t tell you how good it feels to have that behind me. I didn’t realize the psychic energy I was expending avoiding it. It makes me want to find something else I’m afraid of and just do it.
How about you? Is there something you’ve been putting off? Could you take a tiny step today toward doing it? Trust me, you’ll feel better when it’s done!
I bought an iPhone 6S on February 26. I love it of course. I’ve never been shy about expressing my love for my iPhone. And that love has not diminished an iota since my first iPhone, the 4S I bought in 2012. This new phone replaced my nearly two-year-old iPhone 5S whose storage had filled up. I blame my puppy, Bix, who’s outrageously photogenic, for that.
In any case, I bought an iPhone 6S (not Plus) with 128 gigabytes of storage. I went with gold again. I love that I have a ton of storage space. I love that’s a little bigger than the 5S, which my aging eyes appreciate. I love Apple Pay and I love the Live Photo feature, which displays the little bit of video that took place before I take a still picture. (And with the free Lively app I can now easily make gifs from still photos.)
I bought the Apple leather case in red (which matches my Kindle case, which makes me unduly happy). I love it too.
But you know what I love the most? I’m absolutely delighted with an accessory recommended to me by my friend Shannon Wilkinson. Shannon was visiting from Portland in February and was kind enough to go with me to the Apple store and help me navigate the sea of purchase options. (Thank you, Shannon!)
She told me about the Bracketron Si Dash Mount. This smartphone dashboard mount is magnetic. It comes with a little piece of metal that you put inside your phone case. You mount the Bracketron to your dashboard or windshield and you can just rest your phone on the it without fiddling with brackets or clamps. One simple motion and it’s on. And it stays on.
It’s such a simple thing but it makes a huge difference. Mine is mounted to the dashboard and it holds my phone at eye level. Before my put my phone in the center console cup holder, which made using it for navigation a little tricky. I could hear the navigation easily, but if I wanted to glance at the map, I’d have to take my eyes off the road and look down. (Or look at my Apple Watch on my wrist.)
Now I can see the navigation on the phone easily while driving. And it makes it very easy to enter my mileage at the beginning of the trip, or to take a call while driving or place a call at a light. (My 2008 Honda CR-V doesn’t have built-in bluetooth.) It also frees up a cup holder.
The combination of a new phone and this dashboard mount has put a little skip in my step!
It always amazes me how even the most engrained habits can fall by the wayside through a shift of routine. The silver lining is that once we’ve created a good habit it’s easier to get back into it than starting from scratch.
Case in point: Blogging. I’ve been blogging on this blog for seven-and-a-half years, since 2008. In recent years I’ve fallen into a fairly steady habit of blogging twice a week, usually on Mondays and Thursdays. In 2012, I added another blog, Organize Your Family History. I try to blog there on Tuesdays and Fridays.
So for the past couple of years, I’ve blogged four days a week. I don’t plan my blog posts (or write them) ahead of time. As you might be able to tell from reading the blogs, I write about whatever is on my mind that day, which usually works well for me.
But my five-month-old standard poodle puppy, Bix, has thrown my blogging routine into flux. It’s easier to keep an eye on him in our living area, rather than my office, so I’ve been bringing my laptop to the dining room in the evening. That’s actually closer to our bedroom than my office, so I’ve started doing my morning work at the dining room table. I get up before Bix and my husband, Barry, so being in the dining room makes it easier for me to get Bix out of his crate if starts stirring.
There’s something about the change in location that is disrupting my blogging schedule. I used to wake up and think about what I would blog about that day. And then I’d blog when I reached my office a short time later. Now that I’m not necessarily going to my office until after I walk Bix, I’m not remembering to blog. It’s the strangest thing.
But I know the value of blogging and I don’t want to disappoint my readers, so here’s how I’m going to get back into my blogging groove:
For me, putting these intentions here provides needed accountability and also helps bring my blogging habit top of mine. I enjoy blogging. And I know it doesn’t have to difficult. Today, while I have a little time, I’m going to take some steps to make it even easier to get back into my blogging habit.