SEPT: Secure Every Password Today

Despite not being tech guru’s, we are committed to keeping you safe. So we checked with experts and compiled some best practices to Secure Each Password…starting Today. It’s also our way of highlighting SEPT as National Emergency Preparedness Month.

Protect what’s yours.
• Use a healthy dose of vigilance.
• Set up an extra layer of protection.
• Remain cautious about sharing information.

Control your passwords.
• Use a password manager like Bitwarden.
— Password managers allow for complex and random passwords. This builds safety and security. 

Lock electronic “doors”.
On-line, our assets are personal information. 
• Especially with sites that use or store financial information, add 2-step authentication (or 2-factor authentication) to your log-in process.
• Never re-use passwords.
— Using the same password for multiple sites puts you at added risk. If one service you use gets hacked, scammers will be able to apply that stolen information to your other accounts. 

Get serious about electronic safeguards:
Explore the privacy and security settings of your most commonly used apps, especially social media apps. Learn more about privacy and security on this great YouTube channel.



AUG: Audit Unused Gadgets

If cutting excess clothes from your closet didn’t float your boat, maybe a gadget audit will “suit” you?

The virtual rooms of school and work have added tech paraphernalia to our drawers and desk areas.
Pop-up classrooms and offices invite excess:
• free-standing mics & earbuds
• USB adaptors & chargers
• wifi boosters & extra monitors
• external speakers & noise-cancelling headsets
Throughout AUG — from anywhere within your home — Audit Unused Gadgets.

Is it useful?
It’s time to look at what really gets used.
If you have more than one of the same gadget, device, or thing, decide between the two:
• which is the most useful
• AND the easiest to use
(or clean or charge)
Is it useful to YOU?
• remember to ask if it is STILL useful in your life

Is it unique?
Especially if this isn’t your only pen-knife, dual time-zone watch, muffin tin, lemon zester:
• Is really so different and special from whichever other one(s) you own?
Another way to ask this question:
• Does it solve a unique problem?

How user-friendly is it?
Only you can answer for yourself how easy something is to reload, recharge, handle, and manage.

Up-to-date and updatable are different considerations.
Some classics never go out of style. Other items drop in “class” when they can’t be updated in today’s e-world.
Make sure all your keepers have a designated spot when not in use.
Otherwise, clutter-creep will take over your work & prep surfaces and fill your drawers.



AUG: Audit Unworn Garments

Watercolor background features a woman in white draped clothing.

After spending so many weeks wearing much of the same clothing you may have come to the same conclusion as us…we don’t wear everything we own! This AUG Audit Unworn Garments. Editing every clothing category may be impossible during Covid times. You can still see your wardrobe with fresh eyes. 

Fashion and clothing is meant to:
• enhance our best features
• combine beauty and function
• help us get into the mood
— picture your fitness uniform or think lingerie
If your clothes aren’t doing “all that”, take a good look at what gets to stay.

When we edit our stuff we ask:
• Have I worn it at least 20 times?
When considering a new purchase:
Will I get 20 wearings out of this?
Ask yourself about what you own:
• Is it worth what it cost?
Is it worth the space it takes up?

Need our expertise while you curate, edit, and invest?
Schedule a virtual or in-person session with us to:
•. get clear on your best styles
• look and feel your best!
FYI: The longer we hold onto clothes before passing them on, the less valuable they are to others.

We are both sellers and consumers of pre-owned items. Whatever you call it (vintage, thrifting, repurposing, paying it forward) it has some major benefits.
Here’s why we’re fans of 2nd-hand clothing:

It’s smart investing! Buying second-hand means you are paying at least 30% sometimes 70% less than original asking prices. Your savings allow you to invest in better brands for the same or less money than 1st generation clothing.
• The better the brand, typically the higher quality fabrics and better constructed clothing…which adds up to longer lasting (if you’re shopping classic not trendy.
Regarding trends: buying 2nd-hand for accessories or accent pieces means you will pay less for time-limited fads while looking on point.

You’re not gambling with your money! Buy a known quantity when you consider the fit and wear.
• Pre-laundered clothes are tried and true.
Save yourself the surprise of a “new” size after washing.
Taking the guess work out of a purchase ensures you’re not wasting hard-earned money.

It’s good for Mother Earth! The health benefits to our planet are undeniable. Reclaiming clothing that would head to the landfills reduces toxins and carbon footprints. We could go on and on about how you’re saving the world’s labor market with 2nd hand purchases.

Our favorite 2nd-hand options for both selling and buying
• Local brick-n-mortar Clothes Mentor in Ardmore: tell Sharon we sent you
On-Line ThredUp: easy to sell, easy to purchase



JUL: Joan’s Unending Lists

Our client, Joan (not her real name), has a lot going on. She is a highly productive and capable woman. BUT she never FEELS like she’s accomplishing.

Part of Joan’s “problem” is her list. Her to-do list is an 8-page brain dump. Joan’s instinct to write everything down in a central place is a great start! Where her “list” could stand improvement is in its organization.

Joan, and anyone else whose list is beyond 5 items, could improve their success rate with these three approaches:

1. Separate projects from tasks.
Projects are made up of multiple steps — tasks are one and done.

2. Distinguish importance from urgency. 
Eisenhower’s grid illustrates the Urgent-Important Matrix

3. Group similar tasks to maximize efficiency.
Chunk or task batch (group tasks that use similar tools, mental energy, or require similar attention-to-details focus) to achieve flow.

As JULY ends and a new month begins, keep in mind Joan’s Unending Lists and don’t repeat her mistakes.

• Do a brain dump but don’t stop there.
• Break projects up into individual tasks.
• Organize items according to themes

And finally…
• Allow yourself the choice to delete, delegate and defer!

Need help with your lists?
Schedule a call with Joy or Kelly to: 
• reduce overwhelm 
• get clear on your priorities 
• plan more effectively
• feel successful
• and collaborate!



JUN: Jen Usually Needs…

If you’re anything like our client, Jen (not her real name), you can sometimes get caught up in a procrastination loop or a swirl of confusion around:
•  what’s next
•  how to proceed
•  or how to get it done — whatever “it” is. 

This June, and throughout the year, Jen Usually Needs

Jen, and others, benefit from external motivators. Large projects and looming deadlines can create overwhelm which clouds thinking. A body double — someone who is “with” you while you work — keeps you focused and anchored to the task at hand.

What Jen, and many of our clients, appreciates from our body doubling is a trusted and judgment-free sounding board to:
• refine decisions
• double check priorities
• collaborate with another, even on solo tasks.

A by-product of body doubling is accountability. Beyond providing the structure to focus and collaborate, body doubles allow people to FINISH. Bonus: your accountability partner gets to witness this job “done” and celebrate with you!

Try body doubling: 
Schedule a virtual session with Joy or Kelly to: 
• focus your energy 
• get clear on your priorities 
• stay on task for your project
• and finish!



Stressed Backward = Desserts!

While sheltering-in-place we’ve been spending a lot more time baking. And wouldn’t you know:

Loretta LaRoche gets credit for coining “stressed backward spells dessert.”

I saw that catchy phrase after delivering my 5th batch of muffins in April. To avoid gaining the dreaded Covid-19 (think Freshman-15) I dropped off Tupperwares to my neighbor who appreciates my zero-sugar recipes.

With my last delivery of cranberry-sweetened pumpkin millet muffins, I wrote “sorry for dumping my stress-baked goodies on your doorstep.” She texted back “TY” with a link to “Stress-baking is a real thing!”

My 3 favorite therapeutic benefits to baking:

  • On the surface, baking’s sweet “aroma-therapy” is a lift to the senses.
  • It’s a form of mindfulness forcing us to stay in the moment and be present.
  • Baking offers proof of progress; it lets us see a project through from beginning to end.

This “proof of progress” is where I want to focus.
I don’t know about you, but I am:
•  losing a sense of what day it is
•  not as productive as I was before Covid-19
•  feeling less accomplished despite feeling almost as busy

So I reflected on the tools I used before Covid-19:

  1. Planning out my day the night before factoring in daily exercise
  2. Setting timers before ANY screen tasks and computer-related work
  3. Setting self-imposed deadlines
  4. Rewarding myself for meeting those deadlines 
  5. Taking breaks to free my mind and open myself up to creativity

Here’s why I’m returning to these habits:

  • Planning always makes me more efficient. When I predict how long something will take—I challenge myself to get it done before the time is up. 
  • Timers build in accountability for being “on” and give permission to be “off.”
  • Set self-imposed (and realistic!) deadlines: they offer us an amazing boost to our sense of self and inner confidence. They also give us a healthy look to the future and make us more aware of time.
  • Earned rewards are the essential “pat on the back” that we can gift ourselves. While all rewards should not be caloric, a little baking—no stress involvedcan pay off.
  • Breaks are essential to productivity, healthy living, and…when else can we bake!



Joy’s SIP Routine

While sheltering in place (SIP), Joy created a schedule around organizing, connecting and healthy living. If you asked if she’s going stir-crazy…the answer is “NO!”  Joy’s schedule is pretty reliable and packed with plenty of outdoor walks, time with friends via virtual dates and a healthy dose of organizing & cleaning projects!  

Here’s her routine:

Make bed   
Do stretching exercises
Watch “Let’s Make A Deal”
..she loves Wayne Brady
Walk 11-11:45/12 pm 

Bridge with her besties 1-3 pm
Joy’s partner Bunny and she play against Connie & Gail. They’ve been friends for 70 years. This is the longest any of them have gone without seeing each other.

Her afternoons are reserved for organizing or cleaning.
Organizing projects: 
• every drawer of her desk
• culled her bookshelves
• her stationery collection – matching every card with an envelope; no mate = toss.
• extensive photo sorting (her mother did the same for her)
Household cleaning projects:
• had her windows professionally cleaned which forced her to clean inside as well
• swapped out light bulbs for LED’s throughout her house
• gardened and continues to water her outdoor deck plantings in the hope that she’ll have a bbq at least once this summer!
• dusted Kelly’s doll house (which led to a fun trip down memory lane)

Joy has kept Kelly’s childhood doll house. It provided hours of entertainment to her grandkids and visiting nieces and nephews. Who knew that while SIP it would entertain Joy so much!

She noticed a layer of dust so she vacuumed it and rearranged the furniture, power washed the outside and ended up playing…In her own words:

It did start as a dusting “job” but it turned into a full hour trip back to my childhood while I played and rearranged the furniture (especially now that it was sparkling clean!) Anyone who knows me knows that is one of my favorite things to do…It’s so much easier to move the couch in a doll house!

Dinner is between 6 and 7 pm
• If Joy eats at Kelly’s (we’re SIP’ing together), she takes another walk with the Galfands and their dogs.
• If Joy eats alone, she finishes her crossword and makes her calls.
Get ready for bed
 one of her new favorite Netflix shows

All in all, Joy’s been busy and content but she does miss being with all of you.  

Catch Up with Joy!
She’s been connecting with at least 2 different people by phone a day. She always call a friend and usually a family member. Let her know if and when YOU want a call!



MAY: Choose May Over Can

During the month of MAY, forget about what you Can do.

Sometimes asking if you can accomplish a task, finish a project or take care of someone gets us into trouble. There are SO many things you CAN do. You are awesome, for goodness sakes! It may not be wise for you to do all that you “Can.”

When you’re busy doing everything you can, you let ability dictate necessity.

Question whether you should do something just because you can.
• Weigh the payoff of YOU doing it
— maybe there’s greater value in delegating
• Delete the task from your list
radical thinking to some…maybe it really doesn’t need to be achieved (despite how long you’ve been doing it or have had it on your list/mind/plate
• Defer to a future time
— make this choice consciously rather than out of procrastination 

You might have to experiment with giving yourself permission. If you asked and answered from the power seat of life, what could you ALLOW yourself to do?

• Reach for a goal
— you are the only one standing in your way
• Learn a new hobby

— now is the perfect time to invest in yourself
• Focus on YOU for a change

— remember the safety rules for airplane flight: “Put your own mask on first.” We have to be reminded to put ourselves first.
— What or whom are you putting ahead of yourself? Examine if that’s the right choice for you now.



Beyond The Desk Before & Afters

You may have seen our segment on PHL17 focusing on creating workspaces while socially distancing. But you never got a chance to see the before and after images side by side.
By special request, we’re walking you through the three transformed work spaces.

Universal Tips for ANY Work Space
• When standing or sitting: pay attention to your posture
— You don’t want to strain your neck or aggravate your back
• Add task lighting and proper power to charge and use electronic devices.
2 tools you should add despite our warnings to be minimalistic:
an analog clock to help keep to a schedule and a timer (we’re partial to Time-Timers) which help you see time.

Built In Bookcase Transformed

Some bookcases lend themselves to this make-over, especially those with a deeper base like the cabinet style pictured.
• Rearrange your shelf contents, or shift contents completely to another space as we did with the wine bottles
• To sit while working: find a chair or stool at or adjusted to the appropriate, comfortable height

Under-The-Stairs Closet Transformed 

This closet is ideal because, like the bookcase, the lower shelves are deeper:
— This allows more “head space” to think and focus.
• Your “work surface” shelf should be sturdy
— add support as needed
• Adjust shelves to the proper height for sitting or standing
• If you can’t adjust the shelf, use an adjustable seat
• Don’t overlook the option for a standing desk
— add a cushioned standing mat for comfort

Spare Bedroom Transformed 

Many have asked “What happened to the bed?!” It’s still there…just not as “bed-like”
• By removing the pillow and changing the bedspread, the bed becomes an additional work or storage surface
and a comfortable reading area without saying “sleep”

• Take the time to remove any visual clutter
• Rearrange (or remove) furniture to put what you need where you need it.
• Keep a box, bin or crate handy to create a “pop-up” standing video chat “station” to check in with colleagues or professors via Zoom or Skype.
— Face the window for the best effect.



Think Beyond The Desk

Working from home during Covid-19 is different from how you may have worked from home before…so your workspace should not be a replica of your “office.” 

3 Tips to Make Your Work Space Work for You

1. Know Your Needs
— what tasks do you need to perform for your job?
— what tools do you need within reach?

2. Pick a Spot
— think beyond the desk
— consider areas that have the appropriate work surface or internet

3. Get Set Up
— be a minimalist: move in only the essentials 
— add a way to track time: think analog clock and timers
— add task lighting as needed

Behind-the-scenes tip: If you need to Skype or Zoom soon, go old-school in these new tech days and use a post-it to remind yourself to look at the camera 🙂

Joy can be camera shy but she never holds back from being Kelly’s behind-the-scenes wardrobe stylist, location assistant
and tech back-up.