Minute by minute

my thoughts on making the most out of all of life's minutes…


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Tips on Tuesdays…Speed Shopping

While we’ve probably all heard of speed dating and maybe some of us have even experienced it, Speed Shopping is not quite the same.

Basically – Speed Shopping is shopping done with speed and purpose.  Well, maybe it is more like speed dating than I realize.

The keys to speed shopping are to get in and get out of the grocery store quickly, without spending any more time or money than necessary.  There are some key components to speed shopping:

 

 

 

  • Make a list – – whether you have a standard list of items that you check off as your run out or if you shop from a weekly menu – make a list of all the items you will need from this one shopping trip.
  • Arrange the items on your list in the order of the store.  Most likely, you shop at one or two regular places, so you are familiar with the store layout.
  • Shop at one or two regular stores so you become accustomed to the store lay out.
  • Time yourself on the first run through.  This will be your “control”.  Challenge yourself to cut a set number of minutes from each future grocery store visit.
  • NO SHOPPING!  And by this I mean, there is to be no dilly-dallying through the aisles, looking at new products.  Save those excursions when you aren’t “speed shopping”
  • Wear uncomfortable shoes or don’t wear make up.  When you are uncomfortable or self-conscience about your appearance , you’ll be apt to get in and get out.
  • Organize coupons in order of your list.  Place a *** next to items on your list that have coupons and then when you are waiting in line, find said coupons.
  • Take the kids.  Nothing says get me out of here more than kids in the grocery cart. (I have kids, so I can speak freely on this topic.)

Speed Shopping is for regular and routine trips to the grocery store.   Give yourself more time every once in a while to explore the store for new items.

Today’s question – do you say “in line” or “on line”?  Also include what part of the country you reside.  I never heard “on line” until I met a friend from New York….being from Texas, we always say “in line’.

Happy Tuesday!

~Amy 

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Word Up Wednesday – Disposable -v- Discretionary Income

Many times people use or hear the term “Disposable Income” and think – this is all the money that people have leftover to do whatever they please.  Play money.  Not play money is the Monopoly sense….but money with which to play.

This is, however, incorrect.  Disposable Income is that income that is earned minus taxes.  So basically – disposable income is take-home money.

Within Disposable Income all your expenses need to be accounted.

On the contrary – Discretionary Income is all the leftover money that one has after taxes and expenses have been taken out.  

Discretionary income = (Gross income – taxes – necessities)

From both a personal and business standpoint, it is important to acknowledge both incomes.

For personal:  Your disposable income needs to include things like food, mortgage, cars, utilities…all your normal expenses.

Then after all those are taken out – you can budget things like vacations, gifts, fun stuff from the discretionary income pile.   $$$

From a small business owner aspect….you need to realize which income stream does your service or product fall into for your clients or customers.

It is pretty sweet if you are in the disposable income side.  But don’t take that for granted.  You need to keep yourself in a status that makes your service or product a “need” in their eyes.

If you happen to fall into the discretionary income part…that’s not a bad thing. People spend a lot of money of things they don’t technically need.  And just because times are tough and people are cutting back, they aren’t cutting back on everything.  Just make sure you are offering your service or product to the best of your ability, which will make it really hard to cut out of your customer’s lives.

Happy Wednesday!

~Amy

My eBook – Making Time for Dinner, Time saving tips for on the go families is now available  for Kindle on www.amazon.com  And for a limited time, it is free for Prime subscribers.  Please check it out and leave a review!


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Not Me Monday – A No-Do List

Happy Monday Morning!

Today’s edition of Not Me Monday is all about creating a No-Do List.  What is a No Do List – – well, you’ll have to read to find out more.

I love this author’s idea of creating a list of things to not do.  I think from a time management perspective…this is just as important as creating your To-Do List.

I love her first two items on her No-Do List.

1. Don’t watch reruns

2. Don’t waste time online.

But like she mentions in the first part of the blog….this list is personal.  And I like that she says it is not a negative thing…in fact – it is really quite the opposite.

This could be a fun exercise – – what would you put on your No-Do List?  Take a look at your biggest time wasters…can you “not do them” this week?  How about just one… what would that be?  Share it in the comments section – – we can get some inspiration from each other.

Hope your day is a great one!

~Amy


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Word Up Wednesday – Out of Office Assistant/Reply

Do you ever get those auto replies that say something like

“I’m out of the office this week, I’ll be in touch with you when I return.”  

This auto reply function on your email server has become named the “Out of Office Assistant” and that my friends, is today’s Word Up Wednesday!

This auto reply is very helpful for people who send and receive a lot of email.  It is a courtesy  for those on the sending end to be notified that you are planning on being away from your normal routine for a set period of time and when they can expect to hear back from you.

This function is available on most email servers and to use this option isn’t limited to only professionals or small business owners.  I suggest setting it for your personal email as well.

A couple of key points to remember:

  • Turn it on – it is important to set it up as you are planning on being away.  Maybe you are going on vacation, a business trip, a conference or maybe your week is just full of meetings that are keeping you away from your normal turnaround rate.
  • Turn it off. Once you have returned back to your regular routine, be sure to turn the reply off.
  • Don’t over explain where you will be.  You don’t have to say “I’m getting crown put in on my bottom, left molar and I usually take a couple of days to recover from any dental procedure.”  TMI!  Just state stimply…”I’ll be out of the office from this date to this date.  I’ll return your email as soon as I get back into the office.”
  • But do offer a contact of someone in your office who is covering for you if this is necessary.
  • Consider giving yourself an extra day to catch up upon your return.  By saying “I’ll be returning on Monday and I’ll get back to you as soon as I get back.” implies that you’ll get back to them Monday.  Give yourself a little time to catch up on details that happened while you were gone instead of promising an immediate response.  You won’t be able to give an immediate response to everyone.

People appreciate quick responses and we’ve come to expect it.  The handy Out of Office Assistant relieves the issues of “I haven’t heard back from Tom.”  This will keep your clients and customers satisfied and takes the stress off of you of having to be available 24/7.

What’s your experience with using an Out of Office Assistant?  I’d love to hear if you love it or never use it – – and why.

Happy Wednesday!

~Amy

PS – do you love inspirational quotes as much as I do.  Subscribe to my ” a minute, a thought” blog for a once daily, positive message.  It helps set the tone for your day.  This month we’re doing all Buddha quotes.


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Tips on Tuesday – – The case for a clean closet

Here’s a question for you….how clean is your closet?

One of the biggest things I like to talk with people about when trying to find more minutes in their day is the importance of having organized systems.  When you are organized it not only takes less time to find things, it is less stressful on your mind.  What do I mean by that?

Well – it is simple – which of these pictures is easier on your eyes?

OR

 

I hope you picked the second one.  The second, cleaned version, is so much easier on your eyes and your mind.  Instead of mentally having to decipher what’s going on in that mess of a space in the first picture, the second photo is calming.

I personally find I can’t work – be it in my office, the kitchen or my car – if the areas are trashed.  I find it too distracting, too maddening to sort through papers and piles to find a clear space to work.  I notice my focus isn’t as clear and I easily get discouraged or overwhelmed.

If  you are struggling with everyday tasks and finding yourself always wishing  you had more time or were more focused to get things done…try clearing your workspace…even if it is just moving the piles off to the floor for a bit.  Test this idea and see if that doesn’t also clear your mind.

Need help setting up a system to stay organized?  Let’s talk.  I’d love to help!

~Amy

 


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Word Up Wednesday – Brand

This week’s word brought to you by:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Actually it isn’t sponsored by any of these companies.  But I have a feeling you recognize each of these logos and were able to visualize their products instantly.

Brand:  Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brand)

On Monday, I suggested an article about building your brand with no budget.  And in that article the author writes about finding a way to separate yourself from your competitors and he suggests you do it consistently and constantly.

In general, the single most important thing about branding your company is the consistency in which you do things.  This means you do the same thing over and over and people will start to identify that look and image and thought  – with you and your company.

Without me telling you – I know you know who this sign belongs to:

And do you know why you know – without having to think about it and say “where did I see that before?”

Because The Home Depot uses this look, font, marker size – – every. single. time. they do a sign in the store.  All the stores, across the country.  Every. Single. Time.

And even small businesses can do the same.  Keep in mind – be consistent.

  • Use the same font on all your correspondence
  • Use the same template for every newsletter that you send out
  • Set a rule that all calls will be returned within two hours
  • Have the same look for your window display (think about The Gap)
The possibilities can be as complex or as simple as you’d like to make them.  But the key is – you have to keep it consistent.  

 

I would love to help you audit your “brand”.   I’ll offer my services free for the rest of this month.  Let’s take a look at your image and see how we can create a brand that helps customers identify with you – – every.single.time.

Do you know someone who can use a little help with their brand?  Have them give me a call.  I’d love to help them too!

Happy Wednesday!

~Amy


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Tips on Tuesdays – Dare to daydream….

The other day I was listening to an NPR segment on what the French have on us in terms of raising kids.  We all know the Tiger Mom (who is an Amy too, BTW) – now we have French moms to compare ourselves with?   Great!

But one of the big differences this speaker/author mentioned was the fact that French parents let their kids get frustrated and bored.  They don’t fill their every waking moment with activities, crafts, playdates and noise.

I have to admit, I am a firm believer in not over extending our children – because an over extended kid means an even more over extended parents.  Who do you think is planning all those crafts, buying all the supplies, schlepping kids to all those activities?

So let’s talk about white space.  Even though it isn’t Word-Up Wednesday – the definition of white space is the portion of a page left unmarked.

In thinking of white space – it can refer to many things – but I think typically it has to do with unassigned appointment in your calendar – with no appointment there is nothing in that time slot – thus – white space.  If you color code your calendar (like I love to do) this white space is probably very noticeable.

I also think white space can come in the form of quiet in our minds.

In our society today, it is hard to embrace white space. Every person has his or her own activities and interests.  And there are tons of activities and interests to choose from.  We are coming and going all the time. We have 500+ TV channels, our cars have radios, satellite radios, DVD players. While standing in line at the bank or grocery store there is a screen showing advertisements or clips from sitcoms.  On airplanes we have our own personal monitors to keep us watching something the entire flight.  I haven’t even mentioned our iPods and smart phones that keep us plugged into something at all times.

We seek to be active all the time and we are entertained everywhere we go!!!!

And is that so bad?  Maybe – maybe not.  Staying active is good – being engaged is good.

But here’s a thought.  How can your mind be creative and come up with new ideas if your mind isn’t allowed the opportunity to think and drift and daydream.

Two quotes I love:

You get ideas from daydreaming.  You get ideas from being bored.  You get ideas all the time.  The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.  ~Neil Gaiman

Television is simply automated daydreaming.  ~Lee Loevinger

Here’s a challenge to you (and me too).  Create some white space.  Be it in your head, on your calendar, throughout your day.  It might take some time get used to the quiet and the unplanned – but give it the time — see what comes out of it.

A few ways to create some white space:

  • cancel one appointment this week.
  • don’t listen to anything in the car or while you go for your run.
  • delete all the shows on your DVR.  (talk about white space – looking at an empty queue).
  • eat dinner as a family at the dinner table – without the radio or TV playing in the background, with no technology allowed.
  • take a bath – no music, no reading, just water and soaking.
  • watch a sunset or sunrise.
  • let the dog take you for a walk – stopping and go as he pleases.

Share with me your ideas and what came out of the white space – – did you gain some inspiration?

One final thought – – don’t let anyone else doing your daydreaming.

Happy Tuesday!

~amy