Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Save Me from the Sticky Notes!

Prod_note_pads_3 Is there any one of my loyal readers who doesn't have a sticky note on their desk? The odds are good that every single one of you relies on this product invented by Art Fry with the Ws_silverfry_5assistance of a colleague at 3M, Dr. Spencer Silver. The product didn't take off when it was first available in the early 1970's. In 1979 the 3M corporation implemented a massive consumer sampling strategy that established its Post-It Notes as an essential organizing tool.

The sticky note does have a place in our quest for organization. I am actually a huge fan and have all colors and sizes on my desk. I use them to label documents, bookmark pages, flag places for signatures, and call attention Altoids_creamcheese_goodplenty_13_3 to something important. I try not to use them to make a note every time someone calls me or stops in my office to discuss a file. These little notes can multiply until they can be compared to the refrigerator magnet ... after a while they become a part of the landscape and we no longer see them, even though they cover the entire surface.

Sticky notes tend to accumulate in every nook and cranny of our offices, one on top of the other, sometimes never to be looked at again or at least until it's too late to do what you wrote the note about in the first place. Or, worse yet, you can't find the note you need when you need it. Oh, my! The frustration!

Organizing expert Monica Ricci provided this Stickytruck_6picture of a pickup truck she witnessed driving down the Georgia 400. I think this may be taking the use of sticky notes way too far, not to mention the danger. This is NOT an efficient daily planner!

Is there a solution? Yes!

All of your notes, instructions, phone numbers, etc. should be written in one place. The trick is to determine what single product will work for you.

S0043150_std_2 I find that a simple, inexpensive shorthand notebook kept by my telephone does the trick for me. I put the date at the top of the page. On the left side of the line, I write the name of the person I'm doing work for and on the right side of the line I make my notes. I try to always ask for the telephone number of the person I'm talking to and jot that under their name. If I'm referring to a client, I may note their file number under their name.

Every day I start a fresh page and every month I start a new book. It is easy to find a name or a category if I need to look back because they are always in the same place (the notebook) and clearly set out by themselves on the left side of the page.

Take a look at your desk. Is it time to limit the use of the sticky notes? If so, decide where you can keep your notes all in one place. Let me know what works for you!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I've been on the road....

Or perhaps I should say I've been "in the air" again....lots of airports were involved!

September was a busy month for me...hence no posts on this blog. I'm back at home now and will soon be posting more of the ideas and information I want to share with my readers.

First, a bit about my travels...

St. Louis, Missouri and the law firm of Thompson Coburn was my first stop. On my first day there, I presented Ethics for Legal Support Staff to 120 legal secretaries. There were 80 paralegals in attendance the next day when I presented Advanced Ethics for Legal Assistants and Paralegals. This program was also web cast to the paralegals in the firm's Washington, DC, Belleville, Illinois and Chicago offices.

The staff at Thompson Coburn, particularly Jacqueline O'Quinn and Patty Brokaw, made me feel right at home and I enjoyed meeting everyone. Their offices are beautiful, with expansive views of the city and the famous St. Louis Arch. The newly rennovated St. Louis Renaissance Grand Hotel on Washington Street was a perfect place to stay.

My next stop was Grand Rapids, Michigan and the beautiful Amway Grand Plaza Hotel ....

where I presented Critical Ethics Issues for Legal Assistants and Paralegals: A Case Study Approach at the State Bar of Michigan's Annual Meeting/ICLE Solo and Small Firm Institute.

While in Grand Rapids I also attended my last meeting as Chair Ex Officio of the Legal Assistants Section of the State Bar of Michigan. Serving on the Council of the Section was truly a privilege! Denise Gau,2006-08 Chair, turned over the gavel to Cheryl Nodarse. While Denise will be a tough act to follow, I know Cheryl will be an awesome leader this next year. I must also mention that Annual Meeting Chair, KathyAnn Blunck, did a great job planning this year's meeting.

My last stop was Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Fall meeting of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Legal Assistants. I serve on the Board in my capacity as Chair of NALA's Advanced Paralegal Certification Board. I also assisted with some entertainment for the Board ... Cowboy Olympics ... designed to promote NALA's 2008 Convention to be held in Oklahoma City, July 29th through August 2nd.

Did I say it was a busy month? That would be an understatement! But it was lots of fun, too. I made new friends, re-connected with old ones, and continued to educate the legal community about the importance of ethics education for legal support staff.

Great Attendance at My NALA Basic Ethics Web Cast

Logoartblack_2 The National Association of Legal Assistants has started its fall programs presented by web cast on NALA Campus Live!

It was my pleasure to kick off the fall schedule with my ninety-minute Basic Ethics course on August 16th and I was very happy to have one of the highest numbers ever to attend a NALA web cast. There were some excellent reviews and also a few very good constructive ideas for improvements that I will incorporate when I present the course again in February 2008.

My next NALA Campus courses will be Time Organization on Thursday, October 4th and Advanced Ethics on Thursday, October 18th. Both are offered from noon to 1:30 p.m. CST.

NALA Campus Live! offers a wide range of courses varying from practice tips and certification review courses to advanced presentations on substantive law topics. Expertise needed by participants ranges from very little knowledge of the subject to extensive understanding. Click here for schedule and course descriptions for all available courses.

NALA is a State Bar of California approved MCLE provider. The Montana State Bar has granted NALA Approved Sponsor Status for paralegals and attorneys. The North Carolina State Bar Board of Paralegal Certification has approved NALA's programs for continuing paralegal education credit and the Texas Board of Legal Specialization has approved certain programs for certification and re-certification continuing legal education for TBLS Board Certified legal Assistant/Paralegals.

The National Association of Legal Assistants is the nation's leading professional association for paralegals and legal assistants. Established in 1975, NALA represents over 19,000 paralegals through individual members and 90 state and local affiliated associations.

If any of you attended the Basic Ethics course, please post your comments about the course that you think might interest my readers.

Friday, August 10, 2007

A Cooking Class at Azienda Trinita in Mascalucia, Sicily

In a couple of my early posts, I wrote about taking a cruise on theSeabourn_spirit Seabourn Spirit from Rome to Athens. During that cruise, the Seabourn Spirit docked in Taormina, Sicily. We had two choices for excursions: a trek to the top of Mt. Aetna or a tour of an Italian farmhouse with a cooking demonstration.

Italia_sicilia_taormina_1224718_tn Mt. Aetna was steaming and looked interesting from afar. But I have had several volcano experiences, having toured the ruins of Pompeii and also ridden a bicycle from the rim of Haleakala on the island of Maui in Hawaii. Also, my friends know I'm all about food. I love to cook and I love to eat. So the choice was really quite simple.

We were driven by bus from the port in Taormina to the hills above Catania to the village of Mascalucia and Azienda Trinita, the family homestead of Baron and Baroness Bonajuto. Now I know this was billed as an Italian "farmhouse" but forget the typical US farmhouse. This was an Italian villa.

Baron and Baroness Bonajuto's "farm" dates back to 1609 and is surrounded by blooming citrus trees. They bottle their own wine and olives, among other things. True bliss.

The Baroness led the cooking demonstration, preparing a homemade meal with ingredients fresh from their garden. This included the antipasto: Carpaccio of Zucchini, followed by two entrees: pasta with pistachio and chicken breast with grapes; and a crostata brushed with their homemade lemon marmalade.

We toured the garden and dined under the shade of the fruit trees. The Baron served our lunch accompanied by their wonderful wine.

I have duplicated only one dish at home: the Carpaccio of Zucchini. Loosely translated, this is a salad of thinly sliced zucchini. Here's how it's done: cut one small to medium sized zucchini in half across; from each half, shave long, thin slices with a cheese slicer; squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the zucchini, add olive oil and coarse salt. Toss well and then (and this makes the dish) sprinkle with chopped mint leaves. There are no exact measurements except for the juice of one-half lemon to one zucchini...just do the rest to taste. This is a very delicious, healthy dish and I hope you will all try it.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Clutter Control Freak

Monica Ricci is an organizing expert out of Atlanta who is a regular on HGTV, Ricci_b_thumb has her own weekly radio show, and also has a wonderful blog that is full of good information. She's also become a friend of mine over the past year and I was guest on her weekly radio show last February. Fun!

My goal is to pass along good information to my readers so I want to fill you in on Monica's latest endeaver. Since she is all about products...Monica knows how important it is to combine tools and habits to create a system...she has been asked to be an expert contributor to a blog of one of the largest and longest-standing online retailers of organizing products, Stacks and Stacks. She will join other blogger pals such as Dr. Amie Ragan, Gretchen Rubin, and Ariane Benefit, to name a few, to man Stacks and Stacks blog titled Clutter Control Freak!

Ccf_badge1_2 Do stop by Clutter Control Freak, leave a comment, get great orgnizing tips and learn about terrific products that will help simplify your life. Mel Ronick, the founder of Stacks and Stacks, is offering a $25 gift card to the first 25 people to comment on the blog. This makes it worth checking out!

Monica also quotes Bob Vila who says "having the righ tool is half the job." As Monica says, "The tool isn't magic but you do need the right products to create a sustainable organizing solution in most cases."

Be sure to check out Monica's blog, as well as Clutter Control Freak, and let me know what you think. I'd also be interested in hearing about your favorite organizing tools. Mine is the turntable (I've even been dubbed the Turntable Queen by Monica) but more about that in another post.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Observing a Chipmunk: Why Do We Feel Compelled to Hoard?

256pxtamiasrufus001_2 A very cute chipmunk has taken up residence in my flower garden. I thought this was OK but friends have told me he will damage my plants so I will be on the lookout for that. As I write this, though, I'm enjoying watching the little guy scurry around the yard. He's everywhere! He darts under the large bird feeder to fill his cheeks with sunflower seeds and then he runs off either to eat them or store them for the winter he knows will be here all too soon. Then he scampers under the thistle seed feeder to feast on those fine tiny morsels. Again, he'll eat a few and then store the rest. This goes on and on...under the porch, through the day lillies, among the daisies...gathering and storing all day long. Except for time out to hide under a flower pot from our cat, Cookie, this is how he spends his time. He doesn't even seem to rest! Where is he putting it all and, more important, how on earth will he find it when the snow flies?

"My goodness," I think. "That chipmunk reminds me of myself when there's a sale on canned goods at the grocery store or when I make a trip to Sam's Club. Perhaps I have the same instinct to hoard for the future as that little chipmunk!"

Preparing is a good thing. Saving money is a good thing. Buying so much we'll never use it before it goes bad is NOT good. Buying things and forgetting we have them is NOT good.

Header_products2 Think about your own shopping habits. Do you really need to buy so much...will you really use a dozen cans of artichokes? Do you have enough space to store what you are buying...or will you be sleeping with cans of chicken noodle soup under your bed?

Chipmunks can't stop hoarding. It is an instinct. We humans walk a fine line here. We also have the instinct to hoard. However, we can control that instinct and make wise choices.

I'd love to hear from my readers. How do you control the impulse to hoard?