Friday, November 30, 2007

Stop the Catalog Avalanche

Mailbox_3 Are you as tired as I am of catalogs and other junk mail in your mailbox? If so, read on!

I had an 'Aha!' moment not long ago. I was listening to organizing expert Monica Ricci's radio interview on the Vicky & Jen Show. The topic was paper clutter.

Now, I have to admit that I have paper clutter. Oh, boy, do I! But I work at minimizing it. I try to deal with my mail as soon as it arrives, handling each piece once, tossing any catalogs I won't use and shredding credit card offers, etc. But still the paper mounts.

When Monica suggested that the BEST thing to do is to stop paper from coming in the house in the first place, I had my "Aha!" moment. Could I really end the avalanche of catalogs that appears in my mailbox every day? Yes! And you can, too.

Catalog Choice is a free service that lets you opt-out of unwanted catalogs. The sign up is simple. The fun is choosing catalogs and declining to receive any more from a company.

Yippee! No more 'Plow and Hearth' or 'Harry and David' and a whole bunch of others that I have never ordered from yet they inundate me with so much paper that I'm left overwhelmed and confused. Maybe there is something in there I just can't live without? Maybe I should keep the catalog 'just in case' I want to order from them? NO!

If the catalogs don't arrive in the first place, my mail is decreased by more than half. My mailbox will now just be filled with credit card offers...and I'll tell you another day how to stop those.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Put a Little More 'NO' in Your Life

In a recent post I wrote about using a 'Commitment Diet' to take control of your time and your life. An integral part of that diet would be saying 'NO.'

It's not always easy to say 'NO.' Sometimes a request catches us off guard. Other times we just hate to turn down someone we like and respect. Still others find us confronted by people we just can't refuse, such as a boss or other co-worker.

Let's think about this for a moment and consider that there may be options in addition to the straightforward "Yes" or "No."

Business communications coach Patrick Donadio lists seven ways to say No at his web site. Here they are...with a bit of embellishment on my part:

1. Say NO...with a straightforward explanation - "No, I'm uncomfortable doing that."

2. Say NO...and give an alternative - "No, I can't do that today. How about first thing in the morning?"

3. Say NO...and clarify your reason so your position will be understood - "No. I can't help you because I made a commitment to my son to attend his basketball games."

4. Give a preface and then say NO - "Each year we choose three charities to support. I am sorry but your charitiy was not chosen this year."

Those are all quite simple and, with some practice, you should be able to come up with a valid "No" without hesitation. Hesitation is not a good thing.

Now for the tougher situations. How about the boss or co-worker who wants/needs help with a project? You really can't say, "No, I won't do that." At least not if you expect to keep your job. Perhaps the following will help:

5. Make an emphatic listening statement (let them down easy) and then say NO - "I can see this is important and I would like to help you but I am already committed to the Jones trial that is scheduled for next week."

6. Say YES BUT - YES, I can work on the Brief BUT I don't have the time to put together all the exhibits."

7. Say YES AND to give a nicer answer and to give alternatives - "YES, I will draft the Brief AND I will need you to prepare the exhibits."

In both No. 6 and 7, you have given an alternative so that you are not taking on the entire project.

Be sure to check out Patrick Donadio's website at and his blog at for more information regarding Patrick's business development training/coaching for lawyers to assist them in building their practices.

I would like to hear other ideas for saying 'NO' and any experiences any of you may have had. Please comment!


Thursday, November 8, 2007

An evening with Beth Holloway...

As I watched the news unfold about the disappearance of Natalee Holloway during her high school senior class trip to Aruba in May, 2005, I was struck by the strength, courage and determination of her mother, Beth Holloway.

It never occurred to me that one day I would be able to shake Beth Holloway's hand, look her in the eye and tell her just that. I had that opportunity this evening.

Beth Holloway is visiting the small town where I live and tonight presented her message of faith and hope during a time of incredible darkness. Beth's story is one no one should have to tell. She has lived the nightmare not one of us would want to live. She is an inspiration.

Beth has established the International Safe Travels Foundationto help people plan, travel and return home safely. The site suggests simple steps to take when making travel plans that will make every trip safer. It offers access to information and resources you will need so that you can focus on enjoying your trip.

Loving_natalee_2Beth has also authored a book titled Loving Natalee that is a candid, insipirational memoir of her harrowing ordeal.

Natalee's case remains unsolved to this day and Beth's search continues. God bless.