Tag Archives: organization

5 Reasons Why I’m Straight Ballin’ At Work

Or, 5 Reasons Why These Apps and Online Tools Will Make You Rich and Successful and Cause Your Wildest Dreams To Come True (Not An Exaggeration)

1. I use OmniFocus.

Now that my work involves pursuing tenure through professional development and scholarly contributions (that’s just the kind of boring sentence a tenure-track person WOULD write), OmniFocus is, like, my crack. I discussed its ridiculous features in this post in some detail, so I won’t expostulate about it too much here. Suffice it to say that OmniFocus is capable of breaking down large goals or projects into small, achievable tasks with plenty of reminder and due date options. I use it to catch all my half-formed ideas when I’m on the run, flesh out projects and objectives, and keep track of my progress. Oh, and lest I forget, it also gives me the opportunity to enjoy a smug sense of superiority whenever I check something off the list. And who doesn’t want that?

I can be obnoxiously smug sometimes. It’s a shortcoming.

2. I keep my meeting notes in an online blog.

So most jobs involve, like, a million trillion meetings. Honestly, what is that about? You really can’t just send me an email? Anyway, all these meetings require note-taking, which means you need a good way to record, organize, access, and preserve your notes (and that’s just the kind of boring sentence a librarian would write). But seriously, y’all, it’s 2012. Time to step away from the notepad and file drawer (or pile of random paper on your desk, if that’s your system). Instead, do this:

  • Establish a free WordPress blog
  • Adjust the settings to make it completely private
  • Enable the ability to submit posts by email
  • Create categories for different types of meetings (staff meetings, committees, clients, what have you)
  • Establish a standard method for titling each post (“Weekly Staff Mtg 9/27/12” or “HR Webinar 10/4/12”, etc.) and use those titles every time
  • Download a note-taking app with rich text editing and email capabilities, like Notemaster
  • Use your phone or tablet to take notes in your meetings (and be sure to tell people you aren’t texting or you’ll get some really dirty looks)
  • Code your notes with appropriate categories and tags—most important step of all!
  • Email each new set of notes to your blog

And voila! Now you have a database of all your notes featuring built-in organization, instant access from any device or machine, and robust searching capability. Do you see the beauty of this system? If you’re trying to remember what your boss in that meeting six months ago about TPS reports, you don’t have to thumb through a stack of paper in a drawer somewhere. Just go to your blog and search your tags, or pull up the “Boss meetings” category and scroll by date. Immediate retrieval FTW!

3. I browse with Firefox.

Look, I know Chrome is a good browser (I actually use it at home), but for work purposes Chrome can’t quite compare to the level of customization that Firefox offers; plus it seems to work better with sites I visit often in the course of my cataloging tasks. And we’re not even going to discuss that other browser. What’s that you say? You like it? Excuse me while I scornfully harrumph. HARRUMPH SNARK HARRUMPH. Anyway, install Firefox. Done? Good. Now install some add-ons. My goal for my work browser is to give myself as much screen space as possible for actual content instead of wasting it on menu and tool bars, and I also like to speed up navigation as quickly as possible (I’m often jumping between six or eight different sites while cataloging), so here are my favorite add-ons:

  • Bookmarks menu —> places your bookmarks folders on the nav bar for quick access
  • Speed Dial —> make your home page and new tabs a panel of favorite sites
  • OmniBar —> combine search engine and nav bars
  • Translate This —> no more copying and pasting, just translate right on the page
  • All-in-One Gestures —> use efficient mouse movements to quickly navigate  through and between pages

With all these tools in place, I blaze through the web like a freaking comet. WHOOSH. That was me, just blazing by. I was probably saying “Suckaaaaas!”

Here’s how Firefox looks with all my customizations (click to enlarge!).

4. I store articles and manage citations with Zotero.

Being a cataloger at an academic library means reading a LOT of scholarly articles, plus a bunch of other documentation on cataloging standards and practices. At first, I was printing articles off as I found them and sticking them in a “to-read” file, but again, I find this paper-based system inadequate. Some of those articles are about the tenets of cataloging sound recordings, but others are about changing standards in encoding bibliographic data. My file doesn’t allow me to easily sort by subject or date or anything helpful like that—instead I just have to thumb through a pile of paper and probably get a paper cut and turn into the Autumn Monster. To prevent these distressingly Hulkesque incidents, I’ve started using Zotero, a free program that will automatically save articles, web pages, and other content to folders which you can label by category, author, format, whatever. But that’s not all—Zotero also generates citation info in dozens of different authorized formats (APA, MLA, etc.) so that if and when you decide to write a brilliant and exciting paper about the use of geographic area codes in the public catalog, your bibliography is already formatted and ready to go. And the very awesomest part is, there is a Zotero add-on for Firefox. It is so easy to grab an article while browsing, stick it in a folder, and tag it “to-read.” In fact, sometimes I feel compelled to say BOOYAH to the computer when I do it. Sorry, coworkers.

5. I stay speedy and secure with LastPass.

If you’re like me, you have approximately five thousand logins to various essential sites online. Also if you’re like me, you’re dumb and use the same password all the time. Well, stop that. ::reaches through internet and flicks your forehead:: It’s dangerous, as I found out when someone hacked my Gmail. I had to fly around in a panic changing Amazon, iTunes, Facebook, bank accounts, bills, and other sensitive stuff. And then I couldn’t remember any of those new passwords. DAMEET. So…enter LastPass. I found out about it from a rave review on a tech blog and I haven’t looked back since. It’s a free service that stores all your login information in a secure vault to which you set one master password and which you can access from any computer. You only have to remember that one single password to open your vault, and LastPass does the rest. The LastPass Firefox add-on will automatically retrieve and enter your login information into all your sites, depending on your settings and stipulations. So when I click my SpeedDial button for ClassWeb, the next second I’m in, no waiting or typing. And LastPass will even generate crazy good passwords for new sites if you want. But for the LOVE OF GOD don’t forget your master password. LastPass can’t give it to you or reset it–they don’t store it anywhere, which makes your account nice and secure but also a huge pain in the neck if you forget. Then you might turn into the You Monster. And nobody wants to see that mess.

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5 Reasons Why This Former Dorm Dresser No Longer Has To Fear Dirty Socks

Or, 5 Reasons Why I’m One Step Closer to Organizational Nirvana

1. I rescued this dresser from the surplus store.

If you live near a big university, chances are their physical plant has a surplus or salvage store. If you’re lucky, the store will be open to the public, not just the university community, cause there are some good deals there, y’all. You’re not going to find anything super fancy (although my store does boast a few nice antiques and collectibles), but I’ve had an eye on dorm furniture for a while. That stuff is designed with storage in mind and built to outlast successive years of abuse.

dresser

Bless her heart. She just needed a little love.

With the new school year starting, a bunch of the older dressers got relegated to the scrap heap, as it were, but they were still in pretty good shape. This old girl caught my eye as I wandered past. I felt an immediate bond. She was all, “Omg I’ve been through dresser hell. You don’t even know. Do me a solid and get me out of here.” And I was like, “Right on, talking dresser.” $37 later, she was in my garage and ready for a makeover.

supplies

Here’s what I used for the job. Ignore the thumbtacks; they represent a short-lived idea that was scrapped as soon as I realized how dang hard it was to push thumb-tacks into that dresser. Seriously, built to last!

2. I primed her the lazy way.

Buy this stuff, guys. It’s the only way. I barely even wipe the dust off a piece of furniture before I slap on the Zinsser. I’ve used it over chips, stains, polyurethane, you name it, and it never disappoints. And thank God, because sanding furniture turns me in the Autumn Monster.

primed dresser

I know it looks like it doesn’t cover well, but it totally does. One coat is all it takes. And it dries in ONE HOUR omg.

3. I painted her a fun color.

I found a quart of mis-mixed paint at my local hardware store that just happened to be in the family of colors I wanted. Naturally, if you buy discount paint you have to be a leetle flexible in terms of color schemes, so if you’re totally committed to that perfect shade, just pay the extra few bucks rather than drive around looking for unlikely deals. But this time I got lucky. What can I say—I saved a turtle on a bike path so I have awesome karma right now.

painted dresser

Didn’t the color turn out beautifully? I’m loving this seafoamy green right now.

4. I put labels on her drawers.

Ok, this part has lots of steps. You know what that means. Prepare for…A LIST WITHIN IN A LIST:

1. Find a free label shape online and print one you like. Then make a cardboard cutout and poke a hole in its center.

cutout

I used an empty beer case for my cutout. Reduce, reuse, recycle! Also, drink a lot!

2. Measure each drawer and mark the center (a level is the best tool for the job).
3. Place the cutout’s center hole over your center mark on the drawer. Make sure it’s straight, fasten it to the drawer with masking tape, and trace with a pencil. Repeat as necessary.
4. Paint the outline of your label (I used a can of leftover spray paint for a nice glossy yet translucent effect—just spray the paint in a cup and dip a brush in).

label outlines

My original idea was to outline the label shape with thumbtacks, but I am loving the red paint so much more. Serendipity, y’all.

5. Use this recipe to mix up some DIY chalkboard paint and fill in your labels. (Tip: Don’t be lazy like me. Actually sand and condition like Martha says. Otherwise your labels won’t be very smooth.)

finished labels

I needed two coats for good coverage. Also, be warned that the chalkboard paint is thickish, so use a good sturdy craft brush.

5. I filled her with crafty things.

This poor dresser. I can only imagine the horrors of her past (moldy food, wadded up clothes, bugs and rodents, bad music, roommate fights, awkward sexual encounters—ah, college!). But now she has a new life holding my pretty yarns and threads and fabrics in a highly organized fashion—clearly what all dressers aspire to. So tune in text time for “Reasons Why I Insist Upon Treating Items of Furniture Like Sentient Beings.”

finished dresser

I know that lampshade is too small for that lamp but I’m liking the color and I’m too cheap to buy a new one. Also, see how my chalk didn’t go on terribly smoothly? Heed my warning! Sand! Condition!

yarn

There’s another drawer of yarn under this one, but I figure the average blog reader can only take so much.

sewing stuff

Silverware trays and other drawer organizers from the kitchen aisle are handy for all this little stuff. I love Target’s selection!

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5 Reasons Why I Need This Bag Really REALLY A Lot

Or, 5 Reasons Why I’m Considering Selling a Kidney

The 1903 all-leather Rough & Tumble pack by MimsMaine.

1. It’s gorgeous.

The shape of the 1903 is chic and curvy—not frumpy or formless like so many other large hobo and tote bags. Also note the contrasting trim and the pretty hardware, ooh la la! And the best part is the leather. Just luscious. Designer Natasha Durham gives buyers a choice of color and customized features. ::swoon::

My leather of choice: vintage saddle. It’s warm, yet bright—versatile but neutral. Mmmm.

2. It’s huge.

It’s hard to find a large, functional bag that doesn’t look like a briefcase (blegh). I love how much space this thing conceals behind its uber-cute exterior. It’s like Mary Poppins’ bottomless bag’o’wonder. If I owned this bag, I’d enjoy settling down at a table in my local coffee shop and astonishing onlookers by removing my iPad, my phone, my Kindle, a notebook, a water bottle, a snack, a sweater, a desk lamp, and a cat.

3. It’s organized.

With most bags of this style and size, you get one big cavernous area in which your stuff disappears like space waste into a black hole. I’ve spent hours of my life fumbling blindly through my belongings inside purses like that, but I dream of a future in which peace and balance are restored–in which everything has its own little secure resting place. I mean, look at all the crap essential stuff I carry around with me every day.

Kindle with homemade case, shades (from Meijer?), Target wallet, Moleskine memo pockets file, allergy meds, iPhone, hair stuff, Clinique 50 SPF face cream, Aveeno hand lotion, compact brush/mirror, Blistex Mint Medicated, Carmex, Eos Sweet Mint, mini measuring tape, marker, Orbit Sweet Mint, keys.

There’s no off-the-rack bag in the world that could keep all this in place. By contrast, the 1903’s numerous and brilliantly placed pockets promote high-level organization and quick retrieval. In other words, it’s like a purse version of a library. ::goosebumps::

Omg. It’s…it’s so beautiful. ::chokes up::

4. It’s a cross-body.

I’m thinking of amending this list to include “My shoulder strap purse is constantly sliding off and requires incessant fidgeting and readjusting.” I was foolish, friends. I swore to myself long ago that I would only invest in cross-body bags forevermore, but a few weeks back I was tempted by the plethora of outside pockets on a shoulder bag and decided to give it a whirl. Now it’s just one more thing contributing to my slow descent into full-on OCD psychosis. Seriously, cross-body is the only way to go. When I’m out and about, hither and yon, kickin’ ass and takin’ names, I need to be hands-free. Unencumbered. Unfettered. At liberty to exercise my ninja-like reflexes. I can’t be my awesomest self with a stupid shoulder bag forever dropping onto my elbow.

Seriously. This is how I am every day.

5. It’s a backpack.

So the husband and I have been riding bikes lately, and it’s pretty much the most fun EVER. We’ve been riding them to work, which means I often need to carry a change of clothes along with my water bottle and giant thug-proof u-lock and other bicycling accoutrements. I have a small bag on the bike but I’m starting to think that for morning commutes a backpack is best. Which means the 1903 is yet again the awesomest bag ever since it seamlessly transitions from purse to pack in a second, AND still manages to look oh-so-chic.

Zombies? No problemo.

And here’s the other bonus to a convertible bag: it ups my zombie-apocalypse-preparedness. Let’s say I’m walking down the street and all of a sudden a massive-scale zombie attack erupts around me: I toss the 1903 on my back and sprint for safety without missing a beat. No flailing purse throwing me off rhythm or getting snagged on obstacles and having to be left behind in the desperate fight for survival. Plus if I’m isolated for a few days in a tree or a locked storage closet, I’ve got all the essentials with me already! Snacks, a water bottle, a phone, even keys and pens which can be used as weapons in a pinch. What—you don’t consider the advantages of a handbag in light of possible zombie attacks? Weirdo.

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