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It’s September. My favorite month, actually. Aside from it being the month of my wedding anniversary and the birthdays of about 7 different family members, it’s when we get that first hint of fall! Labor Day passes and suddenly the air smells a bit crisper and you start itching to wear those boots and sweaters you have had packed away since spring. September also means back to school time which, for me, was JUST like that Staples commercial – the most wonderful time of the year! Skipping through the aisles of your favorite office supply store while tossing brightly colored pens and notebooks into the cart… but I digress…

As Brooke mentioned in her post last week, September inspires a shift in our lives. Back to reality. No more beach vacations or summer Fridays or days spent lounging at the pool. So how can we use this change for good? You guessed it – resolutions! That’s a fancy way of saying goals. Use this time as a way to inspire yourself to do those things that you have been meaning to do, but just haven’t gotten around to actually doing. Resolutions don’t just have to be for the new YEAR – they can be for any new time in your life. Here’s a few tips on how to go about setting your September resolutions:

  • Make a list of everything you want to get done, and post it somewhere in your home or office where you can see it throughout the day. I find that if I make a list on my phone or computer, I forget to look at it! But if it’s sitting in the middle of the coffee table or hung up on the fridge, I’m more likely to remember.
  • One of the things that really helps me keep organized with the changing of the seasons, is to swap out my closet. I know, it sounds simple, but so many people don’t actually do this. The sweaters are hanging up right next to the sundresses, and the Uggs are piled on top of the flip flops. Which is fine, if you have a GINORMOUS walk-in closet that BSLM has organized by season. But for most of us – especially here in NYC – our closets are not exactly spacious. Take an hour (or two, if you have a lot of clothes) and just sort through everything. Move the summer stuff to a high shelf or back corner that’s hard to reach, and display those fall gems front and center! This will also make getting dressed in the morning a snap!

Now the final part of making resolutions or setting goals is always the hardest – ACTUALLY DOING THEM!

  • My best advice is to make your goals public. Post them on Facebook or email them to a few close friends and family, then ask them to check up on you to see how you’re doing. If your whole family is participating in these fall resolutions, have a weekly check-in to see how everyone is doing. Hopefully the fear of having to admit you didn’t do any of the things you said you would, is enough inspiration to get them done!
  • If you have a fitness or health related goal, you can sign up for GymPact (www.gym-pact.com).  You pledge an amount of money, per week, that you would like to receive for going to the gym/working out a certain amount of times. If you accomplish this goal, they PAY YOU! However, if you DON’T go to the gym, you have to pay them! Talk about motivation!

Now, if you need that last little push to get going on your fall resolutions, here’s a playlist that will surely have you bopping around the house getting things done before you even realize you’re being productive!


Post authored by Beth Renoni

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A big part of the college experience is the good old summer internship. Internships are becoming more and more important for college students with the job market staying small and the competition becoming stiffer every day. An internship provides a student with the opportunity to lay the groundwork for potential future employment, learn more about the real life working situation in their field of study, be in a real live workplace and sometimes to live for the first time in a new place on their own. Internships are a great way for young adults to continue their learning. But they are also a great way for you to continue yours. When was the last time you stopped to think about what your interns can teach you?

I have the privilege of working with the Programming and Outreach interns at LitWorld, and after one short week, they have taught me a lot. I hope I returned the favor in a great session on time/task management and will continue to do so throughout the summer. So, in honor of the start of intern season here are my top fives. Full steam ahead are the top 5 things your interns can teach you, and the top 5 things I’m teaching interns this summer. Make the learning experience a two way street, as it always should be.

Top 5 Things Interns Can Teach You

Chill out.

Your interns work with you during the day, but have lives after work! Real, fun, young people lives! They go out to dinner, see movies, walk in the park, eat ice cream and have an extra cocktail. While your adult life may afford you less time, what you can take away is leaving your work at the office once in a while is not only ok, but awesome, refreshing and actually helpful to your continued passion for your work. Don’t worry, it will all still be there in the morning.

Get loud.

Sometimes your interns might laugh too loud, talk too loud or yell across the room. They get excited! Really excited! Imagine that?! They get so excited they momentarily forget all of the practical advice they have been given about how to be in the workplace. Get that excited once in a while.

Just do it.

Interns are often given errands and more grueling, routine tasks staff members either don’t have time to do or just don’t want to do. They don’t complain though – they just do it! They enter that info into the database, they go to that post office, they pick up that laundry list of office supplies – they just go and do it. No hemming, hawing or other thought need apply. So stop thinking and just do it.

Bring lunch.

Interns are economical. They bring lunch and go eat it in the park, or at their desks while they browse Facebook. It’s healthier and will save you like $100/week.

Ask questions.

Interns have been encouraged to ask questions in class and are really trying really hard to do well and to get things “right,” so they ask a lot of questions. If they are really lucky, no one has yet told them too many questions is annoying and makes you look or seem one way or another. Hopefully no one ever will – because questions are AWESOME! How many times have you not asked a question because you thought it was a stupid one, or because you were too lazy to pick up the phone or send an email? And how many times did that result in you doing something wrong based on your incorrect assumption? Interns asking questions teaches you about how you manage and the work at hand, you asking questions helps you do things right the first time – and maybe even learn something in the process.

Top 5 Things I’m Teaching Interns

List Management

This is how I do it, which is a bastardized, combined version of techniques from David Allen and Tim Ferriss…and my brain.

Try this, make your big to do list, empty your brain of all of miscellania taking up valuable hard drive space and put it all in one place. This feels awesome by the way, almost like losing 10 pounds immediately. For all you crazy control freaks and type A organized types (no names please), go ahead, make one big list for each big area of your life – work, personal, errands – go nuts. Really, everything. Big, terrifying moster lists please. Write them on paper with a pen (radical, I know), use Word docs, TextEdit, awesome software like TaDa Lists, whatever.

Now, each night, as you wrap it up for the day, write, this time mandatory pen and paper (try Staples, they still sell this stuff), the top 3 things you want to accomplish the next day. These should be the 3 most urgent things, or if no deadline is organically imposed, the 3 things weighing on you most heavily.

Then, go to sleep.

When you wake up in the morning and get to your desk, do not, I repeat, do not look at your enormous brain dump to do list. Look only at the mini-list of the three things you decided to do the night before. Now do them. If you finish your list, and only if, go back to the monster and pick one more thing. Yes only one, you are not totally superhuman (sorry for the reminder), and will be much more successful long term if you remain encouraged rather than discouraged by your lack of progress.

Deadlines

Assigned a large, unwieldy, multi-faceted project with a deadline a month out? Know your habit is to write the term paper the night before it’s due? Try this, set internal deadlines for yourself. Chunk the project out into smaller projects. Put each of the smaller projects on your monster list, and incorporate them into the 3 priorities a day method described above. After all, Parkinson’s Law tells us “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” Which basically means, if you give yourself a month – you will take that much time to finish your project. If you give yourself a day, you will simplify the task so as to make it happen in the allotted time frame.

Check your luggage

When you walk in the door to your office, check your luggage at the door. Check your roommate drama, hangover, miscellaneous stress at the door. Smile. This is not to say don’t have an authentic relationship with the people you are working with, or be fake in any way, but know your attitude and outlook effects the overall workplace environment. The same is true for staff members. Plus, when you decide to be in a good mood and smile, soon enough you will be.

Structure Your Time

In a lot of internships you have your set work hours and are given various projects to complete by certain looming dates, but no one is telling you where to be or what to do each day. This is a big adjustment from you college schedule, which requires you to be in certain places at certian times doing certain things. Structuring your own time is tricky for most adults. Here is a quick way to start.

Use your calendar, block off your lunch break. Now you have two big defined chunks of time on either side. Pick two half hour blocks, one before and one after lunch, to check and process your work email and add items to your lists, etc. Look at your 3 big priorities for the day, and block them right into your calendar. Tada – you daily schedule!

Identify a Mentor

Business books are always preaching the importance of finding a mentor. Do this in your internship. Ask a staff member to be your mentor, I promise they will be nothing but flattered, and use your mentor to keep track of how you are doing in the work you are given and as a sounding board for new ideas.

Post authored by Brooke Stone. 

I have been an insomniac my whole life. My body has resisted sleep like a petulant child, even when I was a petulant child. I read all the recommended articles and tried all the techniques, yet sleep and I remained contentious frenemies (a word I learned thanks to an insomnia fueled all night Sex and the City marathon).  Not having consistent and restorative sleep led to a number of other ailments as well. I went through battles with migraines, teeth grinding and TMJ, just to name a few. I was sleepy all the time and never truly felt rested.

But then I discovered my wonder drug – which is not a drug at all: The Alexander Technique.  The Alexander Technique is commonly taught in acting programs (which is where I learned it), but I truly believe that it would be more popular than massage and visits to the chiropractor if more people knew about it.  Very long story short, F.M. Alexander (1869-1955) was an Australian actor who began to experience chronic laryngitis whenever he performed. When his doctors could not help him, Alexander discovered a solution on his own. He had not been aware that excess tension in his neck and body were causing his problems, and he began to find new ways to speak and move with greater ease. His health improved so much that friends and doctors asked him to teach them his methods. Alexander taught for more than 35 years and continued to refine his exercises, which has now become known as the Alexander Technique.

Well, that was a nice little history lesson, but what is it and how does it work? The Alexander Technique is a method that works to change movement habits in our everyday activities to improve ease and freedom of movement, balance, support and coordination. The technique teaches the use of the appropriate amount of effort for a particular activity, giving you more energy for all your activities. It helps you to release unnecessary tension and can be applied to sitting, lying down, standing, walking, lifting, and other daily activities.

Again, you’re probably thinking “nice description, but what can I do with this today?” Great! Here are 2 simple ways to bring some “Alexander” into your life today. The next time you are walking up stairs, simple tuck your chin down closer to your chest and lead your body up the stairs with the crown of your head versus your eyes and chin.  You will feel like you are flying up those stairs! Seriously! Our heads weigh a lot (thank you kid from Jerry Maguire), so use that weight to your advantage by directing it towards your destination, not away from it. Just tuck your chin and allow the momentum of the weight of your head to start to propel you up those stairs.  You’ve just Alexander’ed!  You’ve made better use of your body and used less energy by working with your body versus against it.

Next up, constructive rest. Never has improving your life been made so easy. It involves lying down for 15 minutes a day. What could be easier?!? Here’s how:

  • Find a reasonably quiet place. Lie on your back on a flat, firm surface, like a carpeted floor, or a wooden floor with a yoga mat or thin blanket beneath you. Do not lie down on a bed, cot, or sofa, these surfaces are too soft and will not allow for your muscles to release.
  •  Place something firm beneath your head, such as a few thin books or magazines, for support. The height of this support will vary with each individual. The idea here is to lengthen the spine, so you want to find a height that allows your neck to stay in line with the rest of your spine, not bent too far back or forward. Try different heights to find the one that feels best to you and allows you to let your shoulders relax.
  • Now, bend your knees to bring your feet flat onto the floor. Keep your heels in approximate line with your hips. It may take some playing around to find the right placement, but you’ll know you’ve found the “sweet spot” when keeping your knees up feels somewhat effortless.
  • Next, bend your elbows to bring the palms of your hands to rest on the sides of your torso towards the bottom of your ribcage. Make sure your hands are not touching one another, and that there is plenty of space between your ribcage and elbows.
  • Finally, close your eyes, breathe and allow the weight of your body to fall into the floor. Fifteen minutes later, you’ll feel practically brand new! (Here’s a great tutorial with a more in depth explanation: http://www.expandingself.com/constructive_rest. And here’s a video to help you out too: http://vimeo.com/170140.)

In a perfect world, we would all do this every day or our lives, but I aim for at least 3 to 4 times a week and still feel miraculous benefits.  I haven’t needed migraine medication since I started constructively resting regularly and my bed and I have become best friends forever! Enjoy!

Post authored by Erin Jerozal 

Applications for the iPhone (or, if you insist, the Droid or Blackberry) come at all price points, and in many shapes, sizes and…well…applications.  Many people use the obvious ones; Facebook, Gmail etc.  What many people don’t know is that if you look more closely at some of these apps (let’s exclude Angry Birds for the purpose of this discussion) you will find amazing time- and sanity- savers!

My favorite application, hands down, that I’ve installed recently is called “Things”.  I have two clients, a documentary and a casting project to manage.  And yoga teacher training.  And the mundane stuff (buying groceries, cleaning the apartment, plotting world domination…).  It was too much!  I thought I was going to start ripping my hair out, tracking tasks on google tasks and with all these different lists and spreadsheets!  It was too much.  It was clunky, I needed my projects separated but not so separated that I couldn’t have them all in mind.  And then I found Things!  It was like a new religion in iPhone gadgetry!

Things can be downloaded on your mac and your iPhone and will sync between the two.  You can use it to create tasks with due dates and separate those into projects as well as areas.  When I’m sitting down to work on my documentary, I click that area and see all the projects I need to do.  I see what is due imminently on top, and can easily understand my order of priorities without any further thought.  When I complete a task, I click that satisfying little checkmark and the app logs all my completed tasks.  I’m also able to create automatically recurring tasks; every month I need to reconcile Quickbooks for a client; that task generates with a due date automatically.

Things.  Changed my life.  It can change yours

Post authored by Laura Baron 

I have always believed creativity and freedom are born in an environment of structure. A few well placed rules have never done me wrong. If I am able to structure my time and my life consciously, making informed choices about how and with whom I spend my time and energy, I am able to infuse my days with focused thought and am productive. Note the big “If” at the start of that sentence.

Living within a solid framework feels like being supported by a good firm mattress, as opposed to trying to sleep on a too soft and lumpy mattress. With a firm base underneath me I will get my sleep, whereas with a lumpy base and not as sound sleep, I will feel a little bit fuzzy all day. However, putting a good, solid framework into your life takes a lot of effort. Adhering to this framework takes about twenty times that much effort. But I think it’s worth it.

If you are going through one of those times where you feel all over the place, unanchored, restless and cranky, try giving yourself some structure. You will stop flailing for a bit, and maybe even flail productively when all of that energy is channelled thoughtfully. Here are a few good starting points.

Give Yourself a Reason

Give yourself a reason for each day. Write into your calendar, on a post-it, wherever, the point of each day. It is important that you handwrite or type this reason, don’t just store it in your brain – we all know how reliable that is. Infuse your day with this reason. Everything you do should be filtered through the reason. The reason can be anything, here are some examples.

Tactile Reason: The reason for Monday is to clean my apartment, which looks far closer to the hot mess that is Bloomingdale’s at the end of a Sunday than a place where someone actually lives.

So on Monday, when someone calls you and wants you to come out for coffee, but you haven’t cleaned a single crevice yet, don’t go. Your reason does not allow that choice for the moment. Structure, voila.

New Age ReasonThe reason for Tuesday is to embrace my inner light.

So on Tuesday, when someone calls you and wants you to come out for coffee, but you don’t even really like the person who wants to double-shot-skim-cappuccino with you, don’t go. Your reason does not allow that choice for the moment. Structure, voila.

Stupid Reason: The reason for Wednesday is to get to Thursday.

This has legit been my reason for Wednesday many weeks running, and is totally valid and helpful.

So on Wednesday, when someone calls you and wants you to come out for coffee, but you have already had too much coffee in blind fear of the day that is Wednesday and haven’t even touched the pile of crap staring you in the face from your devil of an inbox, don’t go. Your reason does not allow that choice for the moment. Structure, voila.

Make One Rule

When you clearly identify a problem, make a rule about it for yourself to prohibit you from encountering said problem again. Try to play by your own rules. Don’t make a million, just one or two when expressly necessary.

Food Rules

Problem: When I eat spicy food I feel like my esophagus is actually on actual fire. No amount of Tums can cure this if it happens after 8PM. 

Rule: I will not eat spicy food after 8PM.

Now you never have to go to sleep dreaming of a tiny, little, non-toxic fire extinguisher just for your burning innards. Structure, voila.

Electronics Rules

 Problem: I cannot sleep if I’m at staring at screens too late into the night. I know I can’t – I just have visions of Fruit Ninjas all night long if I play until I turn off the light. 

Rule: All electronics off at 10PM. I will read books (the ones with pages, not buttons) before bed instead of trying to slice up electronic fruits (high score 645).

Now you never have to dream about watermelon halves attacking you in the night or those pesky little bombs messing up your three-fruit slice. It’s a good game, don’t judge.

Start small with your structure. Give yourself plenty of room to grow. Add as much or as little support to your life as you need, and, as we always preach here at Praxis – be kind to yourself. You will not follow your own rules all the time, which is not cause for self deprecation – it is cause for growth.

Post authored by Brooke Stone 

I just so happen to come from a family of extremely talented female cooks: my mother, my grandmother, my aunt, my cousins, my sister. I’m not exaggerating when I say every woman in my family has been blessed with the Kitchen Gene… except me. To be fair, I’m not horrible in the kitchen (in fact, I’m pretty skilled when it comes to making scrambled eggs), but I definitely spend more time collecting recipes than I do testing them. I’m constantly bookmarking ideas or e-mailing them to myself—all tagged in Gmail with a “Recipes” label, of course. Then there’s my manila folder full of ideas: pages torn from Real Simple and Women’s Health mixed with handwritten recipes scribbled on scraps of paper, and, for good measure, a few childhood favorites Xeroxed from my mother’s cookbooks. The only problem? I love feeling organized, and I hate not having one consistent means by which to keep track of all my carefully collected recipes—you know, the ones I’ll probably never make.

Needless to say, I’ve given this recipe situation a lot of thought. Here are a few (hopefully helpful) suggestions for storing and keeping track of your favorites:

Create an online cookbook. Sure, the Internet is full of databases like AllRecipes.com and virtual cookbooks like MyCookbook.com, but I’d rather have more control over the layout. My solution is a blog called “The Blogged Cookbook” (creative, I know)—a password-protected collection of recipes. The best part? My mom and sister have the log-in information so the three of us can share family recipes and build a comprehensive database of all our favorites. We tag each dish with keywords ranging from “cold weather” and “baked goods” to “healthy” and “side dishes”. The best part? Your recipes are accessible wherever you go.

Save your recipes in a Word document. One of my coworkers saves all his recipes in one document so he doesn’t have to store cookbooks in his apartment. I still prefer to save my recipes in a blog so I can access them remotely, but saving recipes in Word is a great way to eliminate clutter and save paper, especially if you use the “Notebook Layout” view and assign a different tab to each food category (Appetizers, Salads, Soups, Entrees, etc.)

Create a recipe binder. If you’re the hard-copy type, you can always buy a three-ring binder and some plastic sheet protectors with holes.  Whether your recipes are ripped out from magazines or typed neatly, storing them in see-through covers keeps them legible and clean, and you can always add and delete recipes as needed. Use dividers to create customized sections—it’s like your own personalized, constantly evolving cookbook.

Go the Martha Stewart route. What’s wrong with a good ol’ fashioned recipe box? Handwrite your recipe on an index card and file it. You can always re-purpose a shoebox (I’m personally not crafty enough for something like that), use a photo-storage box, or look for an actual recipe box. Store it in the kitchen for easy access.

Use Pinterest. Oh, Pinterest. My new obsession. I just can’t get enough. If you’re already on Pinterest, you can probably relate. A virtual pinboard that allows you to organize and share images you find online, Pinterest is both useful and addictive. You can browse other people’s boards and then re-pin images you like (make sure to cite your sources and link back properly!) You can also install the “Pin It” button on your toolbar—just click it whenever you come across a delicious-looking recipe that you’d like to save for future reference. The end result? A visually stunning collection of images that would have otherwise wound up in some never-visited Bookmarks folder.

How about you? How do you store your recipes? I’d love to hear your ideas! Happy cooking!

Post authored by Lia Zneimer

Originally from Colorado, Lia is a Junior Publicist at Scholastic with a love of all things organized, color-coded, and grammatically correct. When she’s not drooling over sites like Praxis and Real Simple, Lia can be found working on her own blog, Simplicity. You can follow her on Twitter @liazneimer. (And be sure to check out Scholastic’s official blog, OOM.)

If accurate multitasking were an Olympic sport, I’d have a closet full of USA warm-up suits and a room full of gold medals. I can multitask with the very best of them. I can simultaneously answer the phone, file a folder, check a calendar, order lunch and blow my nose with meticulous attention to detail. It’s a wonderful skill to have and to hone, but it is not to be overused. That’s the secret to really being an expert. If you live in a constant state of multitasking, you don’t have anything left in your bag of tricks when the s*** really hits the fan. The Olympic medals of multitasking are made and lost in knowing when to turn the skill on.

I save time every day by saving my multitasking for when it really counts. High level multitasking can only be maintained for short bursts of time. If you try to operate at that level for too long, you cannot, absolutely CANNOT maintain the accuracy and you wind up having to go back over tasks you’ve already done. In general, I work much faster and complete long to-do lists easier if I tackle one thing at a time. But it can be hard to quiet the voices of all the other tasks waiting to be completed. What invariably happens is that a voice in my head keeps yelling out all these other items that I should also be putting my attention towards. This voice will keep shouting until it feels it has been heard and acknowledged – which usually leads to too much multitasking. “I’ll just take a break from this project to start on that other one, so I don’t stress about starting it or worry about forgetting it.” You’ve totally said and done that – don’t even try to pretend you haven’t!

All that switching between projects and actions takes time. To stop that from happening, anytime I start a project that is going to take me more than ten minutes, I start a “I Heard You The First Time” list. I make sure to have a notepad or post-it next to me at all times and anytime that voice pops up, I instantly write down what it says, so it doesn’t have to keep repeating itself. Even if the item seems silly – clearly my brain thinks I need to hear it, so I write it down so it doesn’t feel the need to keep reminding me, thereby distracting me from my task at hand. In the course of writing this blog post, I have written down 3 items on my “I Heard You The First Time List” (in the interest of over-sharing: add taxi receipt to budget spreadsheet, remember to bring computer tomorrow and use up broccoli in fridge for dinner tonight). As soon as I wrote each one down, that voice got quiet and I was able to focus back on the task at hand. If I had stopped typing to find the receipt and open my Excel spreadsheet or to go to the kitchen to set the broccoli on the counter, I would have lost momentum. I probably would have found other things to do along the way as well. If I’m getting the broccoli out, I might as well wash the carrots, since I’m here. And there my blog post sits, half written and still looming out there as an unfinished project. By sticking to it and quieting those nagging voices I save myself time, as well as frazzled anxious nerves, on a daily basis. I think I hear the Star-Spangled Banner – better get to the podium, my medal is waiting!

Post authored by Erin Jerozal 

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