Spring into collecting!

Calling all collectors! It's spring, and that means the start of another season of antiques and arts and crafts shows, flea markets, festivals, and street fairs.

It's prime time to get out there and procure new — or new to you — treasures for your collection, whether you collect frog figurines or, like PPP editor Vicki, costume jewelry. In fact, Vicki developed a great place for you to keep track of all your treasures: Our Collectibles Record Keeper: A Collector's Companion.

Whether you shop auctions, Etsy, or eBay, you can use this convenient little volume to document information and organize your records. The Record Keeper includes: Collectibles Acquired pages to record purchase details, such as where and when you acquired your item, and the price you paid. The Wish List pages enable you to keep a record of items you're questing for out there in collectibles land. A write-in Collectibles Index makes it easy for you to locate your entries. The inside back cover pocket holds receipts, business cards, tickets, flyers, etc. The binding lies flat to make it easy to use, and an elastic band attached to the back cover keeps your place or keeps your  Record Keeper closed. And it's small enough (4-3/4 inches by 7-1/2 inches) to fit in your bag. One reviewer says this little organizer makes a great place in which to record those memorable stories about each acquisition. Nice, Vicki! I like to use it for my collectible books.

Teacup image © jabiru / Shutterstock.com

Carpe Calendar!

Lots of Peter Pauper customers are ordering 2013 calendars! (Thank you!) But can a calendar truly help you keep life's chaos under control? Yes! proclaims Lisa Montanaro, organizer extraordinaire. Start streamlining that schedule right now (especially during these jolly but hectic holidays) with with a few quick tips from Lisa's acclaimed Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful, and More Organized Life.

Master your time, home, workplace, and paperwork!

Says Lisa:

  • "Keep just one calendar or planner to have a place to write all appointments. It doesn't matter what kind it is. Just be sure it is only one. Why? Because as soon as you add more than one calendar to the mix, you create an opportunity for conflicting appointments."
  • Paper, electronic, or both? "Visual people tend to do better with paper calendars, which allow them to see time and lists in a layout rather than as individual items. Tactile people like pen to paper and enjoy writing, color coordinating by category, and being creative. If this matches your style, by all means, stay with a paper system, but make it work for you . . . "
  • Create a master calendar. "It's helpful for facilitating communication in a family (or office) environment. An old-fashioned wall calendar still makes a great organizing tool for most busy families. Centralize the information so everyone's activities for the month can be seen at a glance. Any appointments (parents or children) that affect the family go on it. Consider color-coding based on person or activity. Or go high-tech and synchronize electronic calendars or an online calendar for the entire family."
  • Eliminate one or two social activities you'd really rather not do. "Give yourself the gift of some free time. Stall first so you can gather your thoughts before you reply. Ask yourself if you can fit this activity into your schedule. If not, try simply saying, 'I'd love to, but I can't.' But don't say 'Maybe.' If you mean no, say it."
  • Buffer your schedule. "Try to allow transition time between activities or appointments, for traffic, interruptions, etc. If you don't need those extra minutes, then hey — you have some bonus time for you!"

Thanks, Lisa!

Image © Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com


Secrets of Journaling, Part 2: Create a Time Journal

Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.
William James

Journals can be beneficial in many ways: they can relieve stress, help us nurture our creativity, even help us improve our health.

They can also assist us in managing our time and bringing balance to our life.

Lisa Montanaro, Certified Professional Organizer and author of PPP's Ultimate Life Organizer, suggests making a “Time Journal” of your life for a week.

"Just like people who are on a weight loss program keep a food journal and those on a budget track finances, you will write down all of your tasks for a week," says Lisa. A time journal can be a powerful tool for discovering how long things take you and what you are spending your time on.

"You will be surprised at how much you underestimate the time it takes to do things you normally do, and overestimate the things you are not as familiar with and don’t do as often."

Lisa suggests you pick a typical week to get a true snapshot of your life. Then create categories such as getting ready in the morning, commuting to work, household chores, errands, exercise, family time, work, “me” time, etc. Be as detailed or broad as you want. At the end of the week, tally up time by categories or by activity type.

Or, if you want to track a particular activity, for example, how long you spend on e-mail, then you must track that activity in a detailed manner. Remember, knowledge is power!

"Be mindful as well of the amount of sleep you’re getting, too," adds Lisa. "Most people require at least 7 hours of sleep a night for physical and emotional health and to perform at peak productivity."

A few extra guidelines:

  • Do not judge yourself as you are tracking time in your time journal. Save the assessment for later.
  • You do not need to get fancy. Use the calendar below, or use your own online calendar system, daily planner, or smart phone calendar app.
  • Lisa cautions: "Just don’t let this project itself take too much time or effort!" If so, you will dread doing it, or worse, use the time journal as a distraction from the bigger goal (improving your time management skills).
  • If you are a strong visual learner, you may consider color-coding by category. It is a handy way to look back at the end of the week and get a visual snapshot of each category.

My Time Journal

Fill in tasks and activities, tracking how much time spent on them daily, and then tallying them up by category for the week.









































































































































































Add up time you’ve spent in the categories you tracked and record them below.

Tasks and activities tracked                                    

Time spent daily

Time spent weekly































Consider if the ratios reflect your values. If not, identify where and how adjustments could be made. Are there activities important to you that you spend little or no time on?

"A time journal is a great way to beging getting life in balance," states Lisa. "If you start feeling you are losing control of your time, you can revisit your time journal or create a fresh one."

Compare how you've been spending your time with how you would spend it if you were doing what is most important to you, and living your life in alignment with your goals. If there are glaring discrepancies, you may have your first clue about things you need to change to make your life more balanced and satisfying.

Image copyright Scott Rothstein / Shutterstock.com