Posts Tagged ‘work’

posted by | on , , , , , | Comments Off on Start a Business for the Win, Part 2: A Beautiful Mixed Bag

By Eva Jannotta

This year I started Simply Put Strategies. I’m a few months in, and learning like there’s no tomorrow. Turns out it’s not all rainbows and butterflies, but it’s still pretty awesome.

Should I work for free? There are other ways to work.

There are also other ways to work besides for money or nothing. I started my organizing business by working pro-bono in exchange for testimonials for my website and before and after pictures. I also barter: a graphic designer friend is designing my business cards in exchange for social media consulting. You could trade babysitting services, pet care, etc. Offering these deals eases pressure on your spending, establishes mutually beneficial relationships, and gives you experience.

Learn everything but don’t do everythingWith the Internet, there is no end to the things you can learn to optimize your success.

You do not need a business degree to start a business. The Internet abounds with resources for everything, which means you basically have no excuse! You can learn to be your own bookkeeper, market yourself, design your own graphics, advertise, ramp up social media, and so on. Of course, doing everything yourself is not necessarily a good investment. If someone else can do it faster and with expertise, it’s worth outsourcing. Weigh if it’s cost effective for you to do, or trade with/hire someone else.

7624914104_16bc3555a6_oHow to cope – Everyone will give you advice and tell you that running a business is hard. Don’t be deterred!

Everyone and their uncle warned me that starting a business is hard. It got old: I knew it would be hard and I like working hard! But it has been challenging in ways I didn’t expect: I didn’t expect the loneliness I feel by spending so much time alone. I didn’t anticipate how easy it would be to get distracted. I hadn’t considered how long some decisions take to make.

Before I started my business, I imagined leaping out of bed every morning and producing badassity until dusk. But sometimes I hit snooze, plant flowers all day, or schedule Skype dates during “business” hours.

When you’re doing your own thing there are no boundaries unless you set them. This is a blessing and a curse: you can work wherever and whenever, which is freeing and invigorating. However, this means that at any given time you may feel like you should be working. Since “working” and “not working” look the same now (they can both be done on your couch or in a cafe) you must consciously designate time not to work.

14360595726_9b6d525bcf_oWork your Network – It may be your best resource.

I put off sharing my business with my network. I worried that sending an email blast to my extended family would be awkwardly self congratulatory. I explained this to my aunt and she said, “you’re going to have to get over that.” She was right.

Part of your unique contribution to a business is your network. You have no idea who wants your services/product or knows someone who does. Take advantage of that as soon as you can – it’s all about people.

Starting a business is a great time to expand your network. If the thought of wearing a blazer and schmoozing grosses you out, think again. Networking isn’t about meeting as many people as possible to use them for your career. Networking is about investing in your community. Putting down roots by meeting people, joining organizations, and learning about your area makes you feel grounded and connected. It has two benefits: it’s good for you as a person, and it’s good for business.

Eva Jannotta is a professional organizer, social media consultant, and the founder of Simply Put Strategies.

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The following is a cross-post from Penny Catterall’s blog Order Your Life. Penny presented the “Organizing Your Life” workshop at the DC EcoWomen Conference on May 18th, 2013.

I recently had the pleasure of giving a presentation on the topic of Eco-Friendly Office Organizing at the DC Ecowomen’s first all day conference in Silver Spring, MD.  It was so popular that I thought it would make a great topic for a blog post, as it is something that comes up more and more often in our society today.

Whether organizing your work or home office, the three main areas that most affect the environment are paper, plastic and electronics.  In the first part of this two-part post, I will be focusing on paper, the area that has the biggest impact both environmentally and organizationally.

First, a few startling statistics about paper:

  • According to the EPA, paper waste accounts for up to 40% of total waste produced in the United States each year, which adds up to 71.6 million tons of paper waste per year in the United States alone.
  • The paper industry is the 4th largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions among the United States manufacturing industries.
  • Worldwide consumption of paper has risen by 400% in the past 40 years leading to increase in deforestation, with 35% of harvested trees being used for paper manufacture.

Not only does paper have a hugely negative impact on our environment, but it also contributes the most to office disorganization.  We are all flooded with too much junk mail –  too many memos and printed emails, coupons, flyers – paper in all its forms.  When paper piles up, it is hard to see what’s important and focus on what really needs to be done.

The first and most important step in office organizing is to take a hard look at your paper and decide what really needs to be there and what doesn’t, and start reducing the influx of paper into your workspace. This will not only clear your mind and desktop, but will help the earth at the same time.

First, start by unsubscribing from catalogs, magazines, and mailing lists you don’t need or read that add unnecessarily to clutter. You can always go online to order things, and you can read your favorite magazines on line or on your tablet as well on apps like Flipboard.

There are some great free apps out there to help you unsubscribe from junk mail and catalogs – my favorite is PaperKarma, which works on both Apple and Android based products.  According to PaperKarma, each US household receives about 850 pieces of unwanted junk mail per year.  This adds up to more than 100 billion pieces of mail per year for the US, about 44% of which goes into landfills without even being opened!

The free PaperKarma app enables you to simply snap a picture of your unwanted mail, press “Send”, and get unsubscribed.  It works best for catalogs, magazines, credit card offers and yellow/white pages.  They do not sell or rent your information to anyone, and all webserver activity is done via SSL (strong encryption).

To opt out of all those pre-screened credit card and insurance offers that seem to constantly come in the mail, you can go to optoutprescreen.com and while you’re at it, get yourself on the Do Not Call list for those pesky telemarketers who always seem to call during dinner.

Next, you need to think hard about what paper you yourself physically bring into your home or office.  Do you really need that flyer from Whole Foods, or can you take a picture of it on your smart phone to refer to later or look it up online?  Do you need to clip paper coupons, or is there a coupon app you can use instead?  CVS, Staples and most other major retailers all make their coupons available on apps these days. You can even snap photos of business cards with apps such asWorldCard Mobile which will then transfer the information directly into your address book. The less paper you bring in, the less visual and mental clutter you have.

Controlling paper outflow is also vitally important in organizing in the office.  You don’t want to create more paper to just put in piles or to have to file.  Think twice before printing, and try not to print temporary pieces of information like emails.  If it is an email you need to refer to later, flag it and look it up in your smartphone, or create email folders by topic and archive them there for future reference.

Instead of printing documents, save them as PDFs on an electronic folder on your hard drive.  You’ll end up saving on both paper and printer ink, which as we all know can really add up cost wise.

Another way to go paperless is to use cloud-based systems like Evernote to digitally capture all the bits of random information that you want to remember instead of writing it down on sticky notes or memo pads. You can scan, take photos or webclip everything from recipes, to travel plans, to useful household reference information, and save it directly into your Evernote account.

You can think of Evernote as an online bulletin board with virtually unlimited capacity and perfect organization capabilities. Evernote makes it so easy, that even if you don’t use their system of notebooks or tags, you can still find any note you entered by doing a search for any word that might be in that note.

Even with all the tips above, our use of paper is not going to disappear any time soon. So when you do use paper, you can reduce your impact on the environment by purchasing recycled paper. Paper made with 100% recycled content uses 44% less energy, 38% less greenhouse gas emissions, 50% less waste water, and of course, 100% less wood!

And for when you are done with your paper, make sure you have a recycling bin in your office – preferably right under your desk. It doesn’t have to be large or bulky, just something to separate paper from trash. And a cross cut shredder is key as well to shred anything with personal information on it. Shredded material can be recycled as well.

Penny Catterall offers professional organizing services for clients in the Washington DC Metro area.  If you missed her workshop on Saturday – “Organizing your Life” – check out her page on facebook!

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Washington D.C., the city of young professionals and fast politics, is one of the hardest working cities in our country. And as an environmentalist, it can be particularly easy to get disenchanted with politics. Sometimes you just need to escape.

It’s important to get away and remind yourself what you’re working for. To get lost in the woods, to paddle on a river. To remember why you are working for the environment in the first place. To feel at peace.

The pockets of nature and beauty dispersed throughout the city make DC wonderfully unique. Even in the midst of the hectic atmosphere, it is possible to find stillness in nature.

If you’re looking for your next get-away, here are some places to escape to without leaving city borders:

The National Mall

Although this is probably the most well-known (a.k.a. tourist-frequented) getaways, there are many pockets of beauty that aren’t the first stop on a segway tour. The World War II Memorial usually is less crowded than the others – and in the summer heat, the fountain is a quenching hiatus. You can also take the long walk around the tidal basin, which might seem too daunting for tourists, but is perfect for the DC native trying to escape!

Rock Creek Park

Washington D.C.’s most ubiquitous secret, Rock Creek Park extends all throughout the city. Almost anywhere you are, a patch of this Park is likely nearby. If this park is good enough for 200 deer then it is good enough for a peaceful escape.

National Zoo

Just a few steps can transport you to a foreign land with pandas, elephants, and dragons! Komodo dragons, at least. Go to the zoo to gaze into the eyes of a creature you’ve never seen in person before. Maybe you will see your own image deep in its the eyes – maybe it will awaken your inner tiger. (Or your inner penguin, no one’s here to judge.)

Capital Crescent Trail

This biking and hiking path that runs along the Potomac goes on for miles. It extends Northwest out of DC, eventually into Maryland. When the trees start enveloping the landscape, you may forget the city is just a mile away. Grab a bike and go if you want to get really far away – and be able to find your way back after.

Additionally, if you don’t mind leaving city borders (or at least crossing the river to Virginia):

Roosevelt Island

The monument that got separated from the mall. The Theodore Roosevelt monument rests in the middle of this tiny island, smack dab in the middle of the Potomac. With DC on one side, and Arlington on the other, the stillness lies in the middle of the noise. The island doesn’t feel that small when you’re on it – there are footpaths, riverbanks, and an expansive open area around the monument itself.

Gravelly Point – Ronald Reagan International Airport

This is secretly my favorite spot in all of D.C… well, I guess the secret’s out now. A simple, humble park on the Potomac, Gravelly Point is windy enough to be a respite on a hot day. And, the national airport is approximately 20 feet away. To be able to see airplanes heading towards you at top speed, and take off just barely over your head, is exhilarating. You feel like you can almost reach out, grab onto the wheels, and take a ride.


Next time you’re stressed
about the inequality of women in the workforce or after five oil spills in one week, you can go to one of these getaways and clear your head. When you come back, you’ll be ready. Ready to walk into work and ask for what you want. Ready to take care of yourself. Ready to jumpstart your career. Ready for change.

Wikimedia Comons

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If you’re like me, the phrase ‘business casual’ throws you into a panic attack.  Depending on the workplace, that phrase can mean anything from jeans and a nice blouse to dress pants and a button up.  So if you’re looking to ‘dress to impress’, just what does that mean?

Lots of people weigh in on what women should wear to work.  Some adhere to the philosophy that women in the workplace should look masculine and no-nonsense – pantsuits are required.  Others argue that style has a place in the workplace, making pencil skirts and blouses the norm.  Still others eschew the idea of dressing in anything other than what makes you feel comfortable and confident.

With all the ideas of what women should wear, it can get complicated.  So here’s a list of general guidelines to follow.

1. Dress for the audience.  Remember that not all workplaces are the same, nor are all meetings the same.  Think about wh you’re meeting with before you get dressed that day.  Do you have a meeting with an important client? Maybe a suit is best.  Or is your day going to be sitting at your desk reading emails? Something more causal may be ok.

2. Pay attention to fit and style. While it’s easy to wear the same thing you were wearing ten years ago, maybe it’s time for a change.  Changing up what you wear, or who you wear, can boost confidence.  Wearing clothes that actually fit can too! It’s not easy to get things tailored on a budget, but it’s easy to reject things that don’t fit as not a good use of your spare pennies.  So make each item count and get them to fit right.

3. Don’t be afraid to copy co-workers.  It’s absolutely ok to watch what your co-workers wear and copy their style.  Not exactly of course (stick to your own unique style!), but it’s ok to copy the tone and timing of their clothes.  If all your co-workers tend to wear suits for the Monday meeting, you probably should too.

For more great tips, check out this and this.

What’s your best dressed secret?