4 Tips to De-Stress Holiday Giving

Giving gifts during the holidays is a wonderful way to express love to family and friends. But how do you make sure everyone gets what they want, without stressing at the last minute? De-stress your holiday giving with these tips.

Write Gift Ideas Down

Why try to keep a mental list of gift ideas when you can write them down? Save yourself the brainpower and jot presents down as you think of them throughout the year.

Keep the list in one place, and when it comes time to shop, you’ll know exactly what to get.

Check things off the list as you purchase them, so you don’t double-buy something because you forgot you got it months ago!

Encourage Re-Gifting

It’s easy to go overboard during the holidays and buy too much stuff, which creates waste and unnecessary clutter—and not just for you, but for gift recipients! Before you shop, look around at what you already have. If you got a great book for your birthday that you know your sister would love to read, re-gift it! Things don’t need to be new to be great gifts.

Encourage others to re-gift, too. Let your friends and family know that you would treasure used items just as much as brand new ones. Lead by example, and normalize re-gifting as a great way to cut down on waste and get items to the right person.


Minimize Holiday Stress: Plan!

Let’s Minimize Your Holiday Stress!

The holidays can be a wonderful(ly stressful) time of year! There’s family to connect with, decorations to put up, and gifts to arrange. With so many moving parts, how are you supposed to keep track of everything? Plan, plan, plan! 

Start Early

Think back to a time when you and your family made last-minute holiday plans. Is your blood pressure going up? The solution is simple (if not always easy): start early. 

Minimize Holiday Stress - Start Now!

There’s a reason I’m posting this in early October, and that’s to give you time to get your ducks in a row. After all, it takes a special kind of person to enjoy last-minute gift shopping, or booking a flight when you know a few months ago it would have been cheaper! 

If you want to see your family in December, look at tickets a few months beforehand (hint: that’s now). When you opt for refundable tickets, there’s no harm in grabbing that flight early. It’s a lot less expensive, too! 

Make a Gift List

Keep an eye out year-round for gift ideas. Jot them down in a dedicated list, even if it’s June! You don’t need to go out and buy the gift right away, especially if you live in a smaller space that doesn’t have room to store presents for months. But it’s nice to have ideas down on paper, in an app, or in a spreadsheet. When it comes time to shop, you know what to get.


Organize Your Desk: Tools and Supplies

Stock your desk with these essential tools and supplies to make working simpler and easier! 

Your Favorite Writing Instrument

Uni-Ball 4-Pack: $12.09. Montblanc PIX Black Rollerball: $315.00

Do you have a favorite pen, pencil, or fountain pen? Make a home for it on your desk. Always put it back in its home when you’re done with it, and it’ll never get lost! (Pro tip: that’s true with all of your belongings.)

Keeping track of one pen or pencil is easier than keeping track of a bunch. That’s the secret of minimalism and sustainability! Living simply with fewer possessions lets you have favorites, and choose higher-quality things that will last longer. 

I love a good rollerball pen like these from Uni-Ball! Or, if you want to totally splurge on your one-and-only work pen, Montblancs exist, too.

A Printer/Scanner

It usually makes sense to put your printer/scanner on the dominant hand side of the desk. It’s easier to operate that way and if you have it just in reach, you still have space for project items in front of you. It’s okay to place it slightly out of reach so that it gives you a break from sitting.


Organize Your Desk: Optimize Your Setup

Optimize Your Desk Setup!

A good arrangement for your desk not only makes work easier and more enjoyable, it makes it better for your body! Don’t let pain and discomfort distract you from your work. 

The New York Times article 7 Things You Need for an Ergonomically Correct Workstation has this to say about an ergonomic setup. When you’re using your keyboard, “your arms and wrists would be in a neutral position: parallel to the floor or angled down toward your lap to reduce strain.” Test it out at your desk! If your arms aren’t parallel for angled downward, you can raise your sitting position, or lower your keyboard using a pull-out shelf. 

For your monitor, make sure “your eye level is about 2 to 3 inches below the top of the screen and about an arm’s length away.” That will help keep your neck straight and avoid a lot of backaches!

Look into ergonomic keyboards, too! They’re available in a wide range of prices. This one from Microsoft is a well-reviewed, inexpensive option. Split keyboards like this one from Kinesis Gaming offer more customization options.

There is also always, of course, the super extra option. Ergodox makes seriously cool, seriously fun-to-use keyboards that can be configured in tons of ways, including raising the keyboard up and down depending on where you’re using it. 

Have a Clear Space in Front of You

Keep a space in front of you clear from distractions or extra clutter. That gives you space to create, and a place to put materials relating to the task at hand. If you’re working digitally on several projects, consider using different desktop views for different projects. 

For instructions on working with Mac spaces, click here!

For instructions on working with Windows virtual desktops, click here!


Organize Your Desk: A Non-Boring Guide to Paperwork

Paperwork can be a dry subject (literally and figuratively!), so while I relay my expert tips for keeping paperwork under control, please also enjoy these very cute images of cats in business attire. Let’s go! 

Go Digital

The best way to manage paperwork is to make sure there’s never paperwork in the first place. Your bank statements, utility bills, and other recurring payments often have the option of digital delivery instead of paper. It’s eco-friendly, and it takes no physical space on your desk! 

Make sure that you download statements and other documents that you might need to refer to later. Your utility provider may clear old documents on their schedule instead of yours. 

Use RAFTS to Sort

The first step toward fully organized paperwork is to sort. When we are clearing someone’s desk, we use the RAFTS system: Recycle, Action, File, Trash/Treasure, and Shred.

Recycle any paperwork you no longer need that doesn’t contain sensitive information can be recycled. This includes things like advertisements, takeout menus, old Post-it notes, or junk mail.

Action items are anything that needs your attention, like a bill to pay or a letter to reply to, or phone calls to return.

File paperwork that contains things you will need later. Statements, school records, and policy documents fit into this category.

Trash/Treasure: Go through your paperwork and decide what’s worth keeping, and what’s worth letting go. Any paperwork with grease or other food on it can go. As for treasure, you can store holiday cards from family in a keepsake box. If you’re holding on to something you can’t remember receiving, consider recycling or trashing it to minimize clutter.

Shred anything with account numbers, social security numbers, or other non-public information that you no longer need. You don’t have to shred items with your name and address because that’s public information.


Organize Your Desk: 3 Common Paperwork Traps

Let’s organize your desk!

Whether your desk is at the office or at the home office, it’s a place where productivity is key. But if your desk (like many desks) holds too much paperwork, how the heck do you get anything done? 

Over the next four weeks, I’ll show you my expert tips for turning your desk from cluttered to calm. That way you can focus and do your best work! Let’s start with paperwork. 

There are three major traps that people fall into when it comes to their desk. Do any of these sound like you? 

Trap 1: Wanting everything at hand.

While a Homer-Simpson-esque desk setup where all the buttons and knobs are within arm’s reach sounds nice, it’s actually very good for you to have to get up to get things. According to the University of Michigan Human Resources, you should get up and move around “approximately three minutes every 30 – 60 minutes.” If your printer is a few steps away, turn printing into a mini-break and get your body moving. 

It’s also good to have some room around you! You can stretch out and actually do things with your desk. If you have everything you could possibly need on your desk at once, where do you put your coffee?