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multitasking is a myth

We’ve written about the costs of mulitasking before. How it slows you down, increases your error rate, and heightens your stress level.

With help from Overloaded Circuits by Harvard Business Review, following are three methods to improve focus–the antithesis of multitasking:

  • Move. A quick burst of aerobic exercise relieves stress and improves concentration by bathing the brain with oxygen and activating brain chemicals such as dopamine.

  • Socialize. To promote positive feelings, especially during highly stressful times, interact directly with someone you like at least every four to six hours.

  • Sleep. A good night’s sleep is like pushing the reset button in your brain. You should strive to get the amount of sleep required for you to wake up without an alarm.

Interested in sharing and adding more habits of focus to your workday? Join us for Multitasking 2.0: Insert More Focus into Your Day. Sponsored by Woman’s Network in Electronic Transactions (W-Net) and held at Chase Towers in Chicago on May 3 from 6-8 pm. Visit the W-Net website for more information and a registration link. This will be a fun event for both networking and learning new productivity tips.

If you spend a lot of time in Microsoft Office Outlook, then a sure way to save time is to learn keyboard shortcuts for repetitive maneuvers. We suggest you learn a couple at a time, and soon you will be zipping around your keyboard faster than using your mouse or track pad.
Following are our top 15 favorite Microsoft Office Outlook (2007) Keyboard Shortcuts:

CTRL+1 Switch to Mail
CTRL+2 Switch to Calendar
Create new appointment
CTRL+Shift+Q Create new meeting request
CTRL+E  Search/find message or other item
CTRL+F Forward email
CTRL+K     Check names (when addressing emails or tagging items)
CTRL+N Create new email
PLUS or MINUS Expand/collapse Nav Pane group (with a group selected)
CTRL+R Reply to message
Create new contact
CTRL+Shift+K Create new task
CTRL+Shift+U Create new task request
CTRL+Enter Send
 F7 Check spelling

Excited about how these handy shortcuts can save you time? There are more opportunities to work faster and happier in email. Check out these prior blog posts and try being less organized (less sorting) and separating action emails from reference ones.

On a roll and want more… please join us for a quick, hands-on class to reclaim control and find peace in your email. Email Exhale will meet on Tuesday, May 1 from 6:30 – 8:00 pm in Chicago at Catalyst Ranch. Please register online through Dabble. We would love to see you there!


Would you like to learn simple changes that could lead to a more peaceful start to each workday, comfortable that the right tasks will be worked first and the tools to do so are at hand? Then join Life Contained next week for productivity training in Chicago!

In this class, “Productivity 101” we’ll teach you how to implement a modified version of the “Getting Things Done” process by David Allen. You will be able to customize Allen’s teachings to your unique situation and habits. And, you will have an accountability partner as you pave your new path and follow though on implementing what you have learned.

Following are the details:

We’d be thrilled to see you there.

P.S. Dabble offers quick, affordable, group setting classes for people that are interested in “dabbling” in something new or refining a skill without making a huge time or financial investment.

Speak to be Heard resized 600

A trusted fellow corporate trainer, Stacey Hanke, is conducting her showcase two-day workshop on effective communications in Chicago April 18-19 2012. Having access to this training, typically only available inside large companies, is a real treat.

Speak to be Heard is a highly interactive workshop giving you the opportunity to see how your listeners perceive you. The training approach accelerates learning in a fun and non-threatening environment including:

  • 2 – Instructors

  • 9 – Videotaped exercises

  • 3 – Private coaching sessions

  • Enhancing confident and credible delivery skills

  • Establishing a framework

  • Reaching a call to action

  • Communication Quick Start™

  • Create and use visual aids to support your message

  • Handling challenging questions and objections

  • In-room coaching

Stacey didn’t ask me to post this. I wanted to. Because she’s a solid trainer who walks the walk, and because I’ve had clients attend her workshop and rave about the value they got from it.

Find out more or register today.

getting more done

Through midnight PST Tuesday, January 31 Amazon is offering a free Kindle copy of Getting More Done, the latest book by one of my long-time thought leaders, Chris Crouch.

This very short book outlines 10 simple steps you can implement over a 10-day period to become more focused, organized, and productive:

  1. Slow Down, Pause, and Reset

  2. Establishing and Maintaining an Always Follow-Up Reputation

  3. Finding Things Quickly When You Need Them

  4. Absolutely Ruthless E-mail Management

  5. Managing Meeting Mania

  6. Goldilocks Planning

  7. The Art and Science of Persuading

  8. Leveraging Your Time Through Networking

  9. Busy Tapes

  10. Following Through

Chris’ personal productivity philosophy is built on simplicity, so his ideas may seem frustratingly obvious at first. If you give them time to simmer, you’ll experience their depth. And if you release the notion that getting organized has to be complicated, then you will have landed exactly where he wants you to live.

If you’ve already abandoned your resolve to do things differently this year, download a free copy today, or pay $15.95 for the hard copy form.

Recently I attended A Bright New Boise at the Greenhouse Theatre in Chicago with a fellow corporate trainer. I’m planning to return there for a new production, and I want to share three reasons you should consider joining me:

  1. We all need our personal productivity tanks refueled regularly, and live theatre fills them ever so entertainingly

  2. The topic, the true story of the hoarding Collyer brothers is a serious, relatable one told through comedy

  3. I’m sharing a $10-off-2-tickets discount the theater is offering through Chicago professional organizers

Chicago Professional Organizer resized 600

“Shamelessly entertaining…richly comic…brilliant!” The Los Angeles Times

Written by Multi Emmy Award-winning playwright Mark Saltzman, CLUTTER makes its highly anticipated Midwest Premiere at The Greenhouse Theater Center from Jan. 19 through March 11. CLUTTER is based on the compelling true story of the wealthy, reclusive Collyer brothers, who became hoarders in their Fifth Avenue mansion in 1920s Harlem. When one brother goes missing and the other ends up dead, the police investigate the bizarre case in this poignant, witty and profound exploration of human behavior. For $10 off the purchase of 2 tickets, call the Greenhouse Theater Box Office at 773.404.7336, or visit and mention code HERON.

This offer is valid for performances from January 21 through February 10. Excludes Feb. 2.  Limit 4 tickets per customer. 

Subject to availability. Not valid on previously purchased tickets and cannot be combined with any other discount.

Today I got a copy of OfficeMax’s friends & family sale flyer offering 20% off most everything in the store including ink and toner, furniture, organizers, general office supplies, labels (love me some labels!), filing, binders, business forms and desk accessories this weekend–August 20 and 21.

Since you’re a fan of getting organized, you get a copy, too.organize your office


If you’ve been itching for new office supplies to get and keep you organized, let this sale be the catalyst to take action. Enjoy!

OfficeMax friends & family saleAs you might guess, a Chicago productivity expert like me knows someone on the inside at OfficeMax. (I confess, many days I work from my office in Naperville–OfficeMax’s headquarters.)

As such, I got a copy of their friends & family sale flyer offering 20% off of ink, 30% of several full brand lines including some of my favorites like Avery, Post-It, Sharpie and [IN]PLACE as well as discounts on their printing services, navigational systems and furniture.

If you’ve been waiting for a good reason to get to the office supply store to secure items needed to get and keep you organized, let this sale be the reason. Enjoy!

chicago workshop

A trusted colleague, Diahann Boock, is turning her online career portal for professional women, Women’s Ally, into a Chicago event on June 23, 2011.
CEO of ME promises four hours focused only on you. Sessions will help set a course and commit to specific actions for your own career revolution. A breakout session will allow you to learn more about how nutrition or finance is an important pillar in your career success. In addition, you will meet and network with other professional women, just like you. You’ll have a support network to help implement the strategies and tactics you learn during the workshop.
I’d like for you to experience this event. You know how this type of self reflection adds value. Please consider attending with a friend. It’s a great way to kick your aspirations into gear.

Register or find out more at CEO of ME.

P.S. Life Contained, Inc. is the Chicago professional organizer and time management training partner for Women’s Ally members.

Valerie LorimerContrary to my mission to send emails only when necessary so others can enjoy inbox zero, I’m a huge fan of sending hand-written notes even when they may seem excessive.

And when you consider my sources for lovely-looking notes, it’s easy to see why I love to send them so.

  • Lynda Junge, superb harmonious designer from Greenstar Creative, designed my professional stationery (as well as my lovely business cards).
  • While Valerie Lorimer, remarkable soulful artist from LV Contemporary Arts, is my source for personal stationery (as well as the artwork on this post).

This weekend Valerie is running a giveaway on her blog. Leave a comment listing five things that bring you happiness, and she’ll enter you into the drawing for a print, note cards and necklace feature Grandma’s Songbird:

Grandmas Songbird resized 600

Best wishes on being selected!

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Regain Inbox Control

Our advice on how to organize email. We sincerely hope it delivers the results you're seeking and that you regain inbox control.

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Manage Time With a Budget

Our advice on how to organize time with a budget. We trust it will help you to be more realistic about scheduling so you accomplish the important stuff.