Time Management

How My Instant Pot Saves Me Time

How My Instant Pot Saves Me Time

I’ve written in another post my love-affair with my Instant Pot. But I wanted to write about it here on my Simply Sort blog to explain how (in addition to making really good food) the Instant Pot is a time-saving solution for any busy schedule.

With it’s pressure-cooking magic, foods that once took hours to make, now take minutes. Some of my favorite dishes I would rarely have the time to make conventionally have been risotto, BBQ ribs and pork roast. Of course if I prioritized the the time I could put a roast in the oven at 2 p.m. Or if I wanted refried beans for dinner I could take the extra step to soak them the night before. But that is one extra thing on my to-do list. When my to-do list is already full with things like doing laundry, going to meetings, writing blog posts and walking Alton.

When I want to make dinner, I just want to make it all at once. And for the first time, for more complex or time-consuming meals, the Instant-Pot has allowed me to do that.

And it’s not just about being busy. Because of my disability,

Shopping Organization Tips that Save Time and Money

Shopping Organization Tips that Save Time and Money

Let’s just get to the point: I love shopping. I need to be in the *mood* to shop, but nonetheless, if shopping were a sport, my training schedule and technique would be on par with the elites.

One of the things that helps me to love shopping is I often have a strategy heading into the mall or store. Whether that is a list of items I need to buy, or a list of places I want to go. I also really try to budget my time. I think about how long I have in total to shop, and then divide up how long I can spend at each store, or searching for a certain item.

Now, you’d think that this kind of pre-planning would really only be necessary at the holiday time, when the lists, and the lines, are the longest. But I say no, that rules for organized shopping can apply to any time of the year. The following suggestions will make shopping more fun, more efficient and hopefully way less stressful.

Tip #1: If possible, try to go to the store or mall at time when it won’t be so busy. I find the hours between 10 and 2 the best during the weekdays for the mall (but steer clear of the food court for the lunch time rush). Grocery stores and big box stores tend to be more quiet in general on weekdays verses weekends. But if weekends are the only option, early mornings, or near closing are the quietest.

Tip #2: Think about the weather. If it is a gorgeous day out, odds are most folks are out enjoying the outdoors doing recreational activities. Also, I tend to head to outdoor malls when it’s raining because I’m a Californian who grew up in the Seattle area and so a few pesky rain drops aren’t going to deter me from a good shopping trip.

20 Organizing and Time-Saving Productivity Tips for the New Year

20 Organizing and Time-Saving Productivity Tips for the New Year

1) The hanger helper: when hanging your clothes up in your closet, put the hanger facing backwards. After six months, whatever still has hangers facing backwards, it's time to purge those items from your closet.

2) Music mess: alphabetize your CD collection A-Z by last name in the following genre categories: pop/rock, classical, soundtracks and compilations.

3) Tame the crazy cords: When storing cords or cables, bind each one up with a rubber band first. It helps keep them tidy.

4) Buy a label maker: It is vital to help stay tidy and know what you have. It’s an organizational must-have.

5) Reduce paper clutter: Sort out junk mail immediately and recycle it before it even enters the house.

6) Keep reducing paper clutter: Shred all paperwork except for financial statements, legal documents or income taxes. 8 out of 1 O pieces of paper you save will never get touched again; and if you do accidentally toss something you may look for later, most likely the information is available on the internet.

7) Work on decluttering: Don't be afraid to re-gift or donate things you don’t want, need or use. Cluttering up your home with unused or duplicate presents is not what the gift-giver intended. Pass it on to someone who will enjoy it as much or more than you will.

My Take On The "Hustle" Philosophy

My Take On The "Hustle" Philosophy

Most entrepreneurs or professional creatives are familiar with the “Hustle” Philosophy. This idea that your true life passion, or “side hustle” is actually a full-time fixation and that you make large personal sacrifices to accomplish your goals.

Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of consulting firm Vayner Media, responded a backlash of the “Hustle” life in this video. A self-made millionaire, but also self-admitted work-a-holic, Vaynerchuk contends he’s been misunderstood. He says his personal wealth is the result of a true and inner love for his work and his career. Yes, he admits he loves making money, but he says he also loves the process more than the result, which in turn, makes him more successful.

The backlash arose when he, and others, were accused of prescribing this lifestyle as a binary to achieving success. Meaning, either you do it “my way” or you won’t achieve success. The problem is that there is not a one-size-fits-all formula for success. Not only because everyone is different, but success itself is subjective. Is the goal more money? More time? Power? Status? Better health? Autonomy over your schedule?

Menu Planning Tips for the Holidays

Menu Planning Tips for the Holidays

For the first time this year, I made a proper holiday meal plan, and it really was a game-changer. Being so organized and intentional about my process, helped me be more productive, saved me time, and shaved dollars off my grocery bill.

Step one was decide how I wanted to create my planner: paper or digital? I know popular convention is to go all digital these days. With smartphones, iPads and organizational apps to help with organizing and planning. But I am somewhat of a luddite. I think many times good old fashioned pen and paper work just fine. Plus, it keeps me off the computer, where I will undoubtedly be distracted by emails, social networking, or other projects.

I created a small binder to be my planner. I inserted a pretty holiday themed art image for the clear pocket of the cover. Inside, I placed several clear pockets sleeves that will hold and protect my recipes, and created three divider sections: Main dishes, side dishes, and desserts.

Step two was looking at a calendar. I looked at my work calendar which includes both work meetings and appointments, as well as various personal commitments. I strategically chose days in which I would have time to shop, prep, cook/bake, (and, if baking treats for gifts) deliver.

My Bumpy Road To Planner Peace

My Bumpy Road To Planner Peace

Cleaning up my office, and going through the piles of paperwork and other miscellaneous items on my desk, I came across a desk-sized planner that I bought to... yep, get me more organized -- again. Once I blew off the dust and opened it, its contents barely scribbled in, I came to a realization: planners/calendar organizers/ "to-do" notebooks of all shapes and sizes, fancy or functional, just don't work for me. The dust on the small stockpile of unused planners should have been my clue.

Master Your Voicemail With the YouMail App

Master Your Voicemail With the YouMail App

Just the other day I was reading a thread on a friend's Facebook feed on which she was complaining about how many voicemails she gets. She was also lamenting about how long it takes her to listen to each message and accurately transcribe them. Boy, can I relate to her frustration!

Voicemail had become such a problem for me a couple of years ago that I started to experience actual anxiety about the unlistened-to voicemails filling up my phone. Slowly I would see the number of messages increase day after day, as the older messages got buried further and further in the stack.

Part of my dread stems from the fact that I'm not much of a phone person. Which surprises me considering how many hours I spent with a receiver attached to my head as a teenager. But when your whole world is limited to school gossip and teen drama, the level of priority phone calls are infinitely more consequential compared the demands of adult life and responsibility. If ALL I had to do these days was talk on the phone, I'd probably still love it. But that is not the case. Now I have housework, work-work, pet-care work and everything-else-in-between work. Additionally, the ease and prevalence of text messaging has made it so much easier to be able to avoid the phone.

The Organizing Solution Often Overlooked: Putting Things Away

The Organizing Solution Often Overlooked: Putting Things Away

There is one aspect of organized living that I think gets highly under-emphasized by organizational professionals and how-to magazine articles and books. That is: simply the act of picking up after yourself. Or, put another way, putting things away. I know, it isn't a sexy answer, and even may sound overly simplistic. It isn't even really any fun, either, because it doesn't involve buying anything and it does involve the one commodity we all say we don't have enough of: time. Time we'd rather spend being entertained, relaxing, spending time with our friends, or doing one of our hobbies.

But trust me when I say this: The time you invest in picking up after yourself will greatly increase the time you have to do other things in the long-run. Putting things away is the most cost-effective, highly productive ways you can keep your home or office organized. And when things are organized, life is simple, and life is good.

10 Random Time-Saving Tips

10 Random Time-Saving Tips

For today's post I want to offer up some random time savers. These are all things that I do, I use, and I swear by. Hopefully one of them (or more) provides you a solution to a pesky problem you've been having! Cheers!

Tip #1:  Who says Ziplock baggies are good just for storing left-over foods? Use them to store bits and pieces of office supplies, children's toys, hardware screws, nuts and bolts…. the possibilities abound!

Tip #2:  Invest in a label-maker. The P-Touch is a great brand. Everything just looks more finished when it is labeled!

Tip #3:  A small accordion file provides a great way to keep your home or business receipts organized. Go through them once a month and it will help you stay on track with budgeting your spending.

The Strategy and Value of Time Blocking

The Strategy and Value of Time Blocking

Time blocking is finally productivity technique that seems to be sticking with me for the long-run.

If you can read through my words to hear a sense of exasperated relief, you are spot on. I've tried so many different time-saving tips, apps, worksheets, planners, etc. over the years. And nothing really seemed to ever find my sweet spot.

Until I learned about time blocking. Time blocking is where you set a specific allotment of time to do a specific task or set of tasks. Generally, why it works is because it debunks the myth of multi-tasking. It is simply a more efficient, and I would argue, less stressful way to be productive.