Best Holiday Shopping Apps 2012

Finding the perfect gift for each person on your list, and within your budget, can be a challenge. Luckily, we’ve got some ideas for managing the process and helping to keep costs down.

Online Shopping: 

  • When shopping online, visit coupon websites, such as retailmenot.com for discount codes and free shipping offers.
  • Google Shopping is a simple way to aggregate all online prices for a particular item, including shipping, into one page. Simply search for what you’re looking for and Google Shopper will list all online availability with pricing totals.
  • Slice App enables you to track and organize all of your online shopping, including receipts, shipping and arrival tracking, and order details.

In-Store Shopping:

  • When shopping in store, use RedLaser to scan the bar code and ensure that you’re getting the best available price on the market.
  • The Coupons App is an excellent tool for locating coupons for nearby brick and mortar stores.
  • SnapTell let’s shoppers compare items on store shelves with Amazon.com prices. If you’re planning on shipping the gift anyways, you may as well buy it online and save the hassel.

Other Great Tools: 

  • Gift Plan is the perfect app for anyone who wants to keep an organized gift list on-the-go. It even syncs with your calendar for future birthday and holiday reminders.

We hope these apps will help keep your organized and within budget this holiday season.

TWOW

7 Time Management Tips for Thanksgiving

For some people, the Thanksgiving holiday is a source of stress. Whether it’s the hosting responsibilities, the cooking, the traveling, or dealing with family, it is perfectly normal to feel a bit overwhelmed this time of year. In preparation for the big day, we’ve come up with 7 tips for managing your time and minimizing stress this holiday.

1) Prep Early: Much of the day’s stress comes from preparing such a large meal. Lighten the cooking load, by preparing certain items a day or two ahead. Things that work well for this include, veggie chopping (onions, carrots, etc.), pies, bread doughs, and baked goods.

2) Use a Cooking Timeline: Having a set timeline or schedule for when dishes will be made can assist in keeping you on track. We’ve developed our own version, called The Turkey Timeline, which is available in our printable Holiday Planning ebook.

3) Clean as You Go: In order to minimize the after-dinner cleaning efforts, attempt to clean as you go. You should also aim to have a load of dishes running in the dishwasher before you sit down to eat, so you will have an empty washer to use after the meal.

4) Enlist Help: Just because you are the chef in the family doesn’t mean you have to do everything by yourself. Enlist help (children, partners, family members) for tasks that are easily handled, such as setting the table, taking out the trash, or organizing the beverage station.

5) It’s Okay to Cut Corners: While we would all love to play Martha Stewart for the day, sometimes it’s unrealistic to think that everything will be made to gourmet standards and from scratch. Cut corners with things like frozen pie crusts, pre-chopped veggies, and pre-purchased Honey Baked Hams. You can also utilize a YouTube video trick for pealing potatoes that cuts the prep time down to practically nothing.

6) Schedule Personal Time: Don’t forget to schedule in time for things like getting dressed and showered, socializing with friends and family, and having fun. Taking a few minutes away from the kitchen can help you relax and make the day more enjoyable.

7) Oven to Table Strategy:  Whenever possible, cook items in the dishes you will serve them on. For example, if you are cooking a side dish, make sure that it’s already in the presentation dish you will later use. This will cut down in time needed for transferring items around.

We hope these tips assist in making your Thanksgiving a happy and efficient one.

TWOW

The Container Store Buckhead Reopens in New Location

Yesterday the WOW team had the privilege of attending a blogger preview event for the opening of the relocated Container Store Buckhead. The new store, located on the corner of Peachtree St. and Wieuca Rd., is significantly bigger than the old store and appears to carry a greater variety of products. For frequent shoppers, the parking is also much easier!

The WOW team absolutely loves The Container Store for their multifunctional and innovative storage products, but also for their commitment to conscious capitalism. If you’ve never heard about the store’s corporate culture, you might be interested to know that it is dedicated to running their business in a way that is good for the environment, local communities, and their employees, as well as the bottom line. For example, their employees are paid significantly higher than the average local wage for similar jobs and receive 263 hours of training in their first year (compared to an average of 7-10 in the industry). Learn more about their Founding Principles here.

In celebration of the store opening, there will be events and giveaways held this Saturday and Sunday (11/10-11/11). Some of the reasons to check out the new location this weekend include:

  • Prize giveaways every hour, on the hour, including a $1,000 Elfa Space Makeover
  • $10 Store More Gift Cards for the first 100 Facebook Check-Ins &
  • 10% of all sales throughout the weekend will be donated to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

Thanks again to Container Store Buckhead for inviting WOW to be a part of your grand reopening events. We loved the new location and will certainly be shopping there soon.

TWOW

Emergency Preparedness Checklist

Hurricane Sandy currently has a lot of people in the Northeast frantically making last minute preparations for the storm. As planners, we’d prefer to ready ourselves for possible inclement weather before it is ever an issue. In order to help prepare for future weather-related emergencies, we’ve put together a list of must have items. This checklist was developed in part from the emergency preparedness lists of FEMA and the CDC, as well as our own recommendations.

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS SUPPLY LIST:

Baby

  • Diapers, 5 day supply per child
  • Baby Wipes, 5 day supply per child
  • Formula or baby food, 3 day supply per child

Clothing

  • 3 day supply of clothes per person, accounting for cold and warm weather
  • Rugged or distance type shoes

Documents

  • Copies of S.S. cards, birth certificates, marriage records, immunization records, passports, and drivers licenses for all family members
  • Copies of insurance policies for home, health, and vehicle
  • Checking & savings account # information
  • Current photo of each family member for identification purposes
  • Written phone numbers and addresses for important contacts

First Aid Kit & Contents:

  • First Aid Kit Box with contents inside
  • Tweezers
  • First aid booklet with CPR ‘How To’
  • Two pairs of latex or other sterile gloves
  • Sterile dressings to stop bleeding
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Ipecac syrup (induces vomiting)
  • Needles
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Safety pins
  • Scissors
  • Razor Blade
  • Cleansing agents or soap and antibiotic towelettes
  • Antibiotic ointment to prevent infection
  • Burn ointment to prevent infection
  • Adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes
  • Thermometer
  • Prescription medications for family members that need them, check expiration dates every year
  • Petroleum jelly or other lubricant to prevent dryness, chafing, or cracking of the skin during extreme weather conditions
  • Calamine lotion (sunburn/insect bites)
  • Prescribed medical supplies
  • Nonprescription drugs, such as non-aspirin pain relievers, feminine supplies and personal
  • Antidiarrheal medications, antacid for upset stomachs, and laxatives

Food & Water

  • A 3-day supply of water (1 gallon per person per day; more if you live in a warm climate)
  • A 3-day supply of ready-to-eat foods, such as canned meat, canned fruits and vegetables, and ultra-high temperature milk (also called UHT milk)
  • High-energy foods such as peanut butter, nuts, dry cereal, granola, and crackers
  • “Stress foods” such as hard candy or cookies
  • A manual can opener
  • Eating utensils and supplies (for example, paper plates and plastic forks, spoons, and knives)

Hygiene:

  • Tampons or pads
  • Towlettes
  • Bar soap
  • Tooth Brush and Toothpaste for each family member
  • Toilet paper
  • Hand Sanitizer

Kids:

  • Games and activities for children

Medical:

  • Extra prescription eye glasses, contacts, hearing aid or other vital personal items

Money:

  • Several hundred dollars in small bills
  • Quarters for phone calls

Safety:

  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • Hand crank-powered radio
  • Dust masks for each family member
  • Batteries in several sizes
  • Work gloves
  • Plastic garbage bags and ties for sanitation
  • Flares
  • Candles
  • A whistle
  • A wrench or pliers to turn off utilities (such as water or gas)
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape for sheltering in place
  • Universal or wind-up cell phone charger
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Emergency reference materials, such as a first-aid book or a photocopy of such a book or manual
  • Warm blanket or sleeping bag for each person
  • Rain gear – ponchos or rain jackets, umbrellas
  • Paper towels
  • A fire extinguisher
  • A tent
  • A compass
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Signal flares
  • Paper and pencils
  • Medicine dropper
  • Household chlorine bleach, which you can use as a disinfectant to clean surfaces (mix nine parts water to one part bleach). In an emergency, you also can use it to purify water. Use 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water.
  • Eyedropper for bleach
  • Backpack, bin or other portable bag for ‘Go Items’
  • Ziplock Bags to keep everything separated in the bins
  • Pocket knife
  • Safety ladder for second floor evacuation

We encourage all of our readers to work on putting together their emergency supply kit as soon as possible. You never know when it might become needed.

TWOW

Guest Post: Storage without Stowaways

It’s finally that time of year when we’ve had enough cool, crisp autumn days to pack away our summer clothes and bring our jackets and sweaters out of storage. This year, like every other, I approached the task with the anticipation of wearing some of my woolly favorites, only to find a less pleasant surprise when I opened the drawer: the unmistakable signs of case-bearing clothes moths.
As an art conservator who owns a pet and lives in an old building with the accompanying drafts and dust, I’m especially aware of pest control challenges and follow vigilant preventive measures. While the single moth casing I spotted means that these silent, destructive insects are nothing if not persistent, it’s possible to prevent a damaging infestation with non-toxic, inexpensive materials and a few easy steps.
● Prevent clothes moths from entering your home. Seal gaps in windows and doorways. Keep your home as clean as possible by clearing cobwebs and vacuuming regularly to remove dust, hair, dead skin cells, and other moth-friendly treats.
● Wash or dry clean your clothing before storing it. Developing moth larvae feed mostly on protein-based fibers but are more likely to be found among items containing sweat, skin cells, or food stains.
● Moths prefer humid environments. Control the humidity of your home and storage areas. This can be challenging here in the South, so I recommend the purchase of an inexpensive temperature and humidity monitor.
● DampRid makes a great series of inexpensive, moisture-absorbing products for use in closets and small storage areas. Silica gel packets, great for inserting in drawers and sealed containers, also control moisture and are available in different sizes for online ordering. It’s a good rule of thumb to change these when rotating your seasonal items. In addition to preventing moths, you’ll control the growth of mold and mildew.
● Traditional moth balls are effective but toxic. Along with lavender and clove oil, cedar blocks, shavings, and oil provide effective and inexpensive alternatives. For an easy DIY solution, simply purchase a bag of cedar shavings from a pet supply store, fill the feet of old pantyhose with shavings, and tie off the top of the “sachet”. Place the sachets in drawers, containers, closet shelves, or suspend from hangers to repel moths.
● If clothes moths, casings, damaged textiles, or other signs of infestation, are identified, inspect the affected area and all stored items thoroughly. If possible, check your stored items every two months or so for signs of pests.
● Insect infestations, mold growth, and climate control problems affecting art and artifact collections are best handled by an art conservator. Likewise, any major household pest control problem is best addressed by a professional exterminator, following with the steps listed above to prevent recurrence of the problem. For additional help in recognizing and controlling moths, check out this article.

 

This post was generously written by Erin Kelly.

Erin L. Kelly, M.A., C.A.S., M.Ed.

Art Conservator / Educator / Outreach
[email protected]

Organization & Time Management for Entrepreneurs

The ELEN chapter of ABWA in Alpharetta recently invited me to speak about organizing and time management for entrepreneurs at their monthly luncheon. We had an excellent time networking with the members of this group and wanted to share some of the tips we gave in our presentation. In order to manage the variety of daily obligations that entrepreneurs face, we recommended focusing on four organizational areas:

Routines & Task Management:

The importance of routine in your daily, weekly, and yearly lives cannot be underestimated. We recommend, taking a look at the things your business requires of you on a regular basis and then begin to set up routines that will allow you to accomplish each task in the most efficient way. You should also schedule time to prepare for upcoming days and weeks. Sunday evening is a great time for this on a weekly basis. Below are a couple additional tips for integrating routines into your life.

  • Prioritization: Decide what the top 3 things need to happen each day and commit to getting them done.
  • Requests for info/action from others should happen in the morning
  • Batching: Group tasks into categories when making your to-do list (phone calls, emails, physical tasks, meetings, professional tasks, personal tasks, etc.)

Managing Email, Calls & Interruptions:

Dealing with the daily influx of demands for an entrepreneur can be difficult. In order to achieve the greatest efficiency, we recommend telling others what style of communication you prefer. For example, if you are best on email, tell employees and others that they should reach you in that manner. This way you will not be bombarded with phone calls or in-person drop-bys that drain you of time. A few more tips are below.

  • Email Inbox: Use for items that need current action. File all other emails in well-labeled folders immediately upon receipt. Review and clean out folders weekly.
  • Closed-Door Time: Schedule time each day when you will silence the phone, close the office door, and turn off email, so that you can finish necessary tasks

Paper Management:

This is the most common concern among entrepreneurs. Managing the necessary, and not so necessary, paper that comes into the business can quickly become unmanageable. We’ve outlined our best tips for keeping the paper under control below.

  • Filing: Use well-labeled files (physical or digital) and commit to reviewing the contents once per quarter. Shred, toss, or recycle unnecessary items or things that haven’t been needed in 1+ years. Google ‘Suze Orman what to keep documents’ for a list of must keep financial docs with timelines.
  • Expenses: Keep track of receipts for business with an app like Expensify or a desk scanner like NeatDesk.
  • Go Paperless: Attempt to eliminate all paper from your life by scanning, opting out of paper statements/mail, and not printing. Digital records are easier to search, permanent (if stored safely), and require less space.

Needing Assistance: (Personal Assistance, Professional Assistance, and/or C-Level)

A final issue that we commonly see with entrepreneurs in not knowing when to get help. Whether it’s an assistant, an employee, or even a C-level adviser it is important to bring on assistance if it will help your business grow or efficiently maintain. If you are dealing with one of the below issues, it probably means you could use some help.

1) Your work/life balance is suffering

2) You’re in over your head

3) You’re doing tasks poorly and taking more time than the job should require because it is not your expertise

4) You’re doing tasks that are below your level when you could be focusing on more important things.

 

We hope these tips for entrepreneurs are helpful and would love to hear your favorite organizational ideas for people with their own businesses.

TWOW

Internet Time-Suck: How to Avoid the Temptation

The distractions of the internet are never-ending. Between social media, online articles, email, and instant messaging, one can waste hours of potentially productive time on essentially useless browsing. The graphic provided from Nielson research shows the average ways in which we use the internet. We are all guilty of the internet time-such, but some have more trouble with it than others. In order to curb this potentially detrimental habit, we have a few strategies:

1) Determine Why: There is usually a reason why you are drawn into the distraction of internet surfing. Perhaps its boredom, perhaps attention-deficit, or maybe it’s a stress reliever. However, if you understand the why, you can more easily shift the habit into something productive. For example, if you are distracted by internet surfing due to boredom, consider instead switching to a new work task that will re-engage your interest. If you’re looking for mindless stress-relief, perhaps a quick walk outside the building would provide a healthy release.

2) Internet Breaks: If you absolutely need a internet break, determine how much time you can afford to browse and set a timer to keep you to it. The site http://minutes.at/ offers a free timer service that allows you set hard time limits per site. When your time is up, use an app, such as Pocket, to bookmark any pages that you’d like to come back and read later, so that you aren’t tempted to stay a bit longer.

3) Total Browsing Limits: If you are the kind of person who finds themselves lost online for several hours a day, consider setting a weekly internet time allotment. For example, if it’s not for work or school, you will only allow yourself 2 hours per week of browsing time. Keep track of your total on a notepad or phone timer app.

4) Minimize Opportunity: If you are under deadline or need to concentrate on something at work, turn off access to internet distractions. Close down your browser window, turn off instant messaging, and silence your phone from receiving social media notifications. This strategy also works if you need the internet to complete part of the task. The difference is that you do all of your online research first, copy the information to an offline source and then close down the browser to complete the work.

5) Block Access: If you just can’t trust yourself to follow the above suggestions, there is a more serious option available. Services such as, Leech Block for Firefox and Chrome Nanny for Google Chrome allow you to set preferences of which sites will be unavailable for access during which times per day.

Although internet browsing can be a very enjoyable and appropriate activity, there are certainly times that all of us have stayed a bit too long. Hopefully with these tips, we can maximize efficiency and minimize the time-suck.

Exercise Routines: How to Create & Maintain One

As discussed in the recent post about The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg, exercise routines can be one of the most challenging things to adopt and maintain. Although the endorphins produced by exercise can be powerful reinforcers, for many the routine is simply not a top priority among life’s other responsibilities. In order to assist in making exercise a consistent part of your weekly schedule, we’ve got a few tips and tools.

Workout Routine Tips:

  • Scheduling: Instead of fitting in a workout whenever you have availability, decide on a specific time and days per week that you will commit to exercising. Add the workout to your calendar as if it were an appointment, and make sure that no other consistent obligations are going to interrupt.
  • Workout Cues: As recommended by Duhigg, creating a cue for exercise will help put you in the mood for the task. He recommends setting out your workout gear the night before a morning workout. This will help to remind you that exercise will be your first task of the day, not checking your email or picking up the house.
  • Accountability: For those who do not enjoy working out, any excuse will usually be enough to keep it from happening. Ensure you make it to scheduled workouts with an accountability trick. Some popular tricks include, working out with a more motivated friend so that you are not alone, signing up for a scheduled workout, such as a bootcamp, or tracking workouts and progress in a logbook. The last one may seem trivial, but science shows that logs provide a sense of accomplishment and encourage consistency.
  • Find Your Niche: Not all workouts are created equal. If you are new to exercising, I recommend trying out many different styles of workouts until you find something that you like. The more fun you have while working out, the more likely you are to continue. And remember, whether it’s running, yoga, or Zumba, the more you do it, the better you will get, so don’t worry if at first it’s very challenging.
  • Reward Yourself: An important part of making anything into a habit is the reward aspect. Create achievable goals for your exercise routine that are tied to non-food rewards. For example, for the first month, set a goal of working out at least 3 times per week for one hour per day. At the end of the month, reward yourself with a new piece of workout gear or clothing. The vital thing to remember is that goals should be reasonable, specific (where, when, what, how long), and measurable.

Tools:

  • MapMyRun App: This GPS-enabled app allows you to track distance, routes, time, and the pace of your runs. Just like the accountability tip above, this tool will help you to see your progress and share it with friends. A great way to get a little extra encouragement is to allow the app to post your run details to Facebook. You’ll be surprised how much praise and support the posts will garner.
  • FitnessBuddy App: This is another exercise tool that provides hundreds of exercises and workouts for all fitness levels. It also has a workout journal for tracking what you did and when you did it.

No matter how you workout, just remember that the consistency is the key to maintaining the routine.

Good Luck!

Mandi

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