I found out about the Free Budget Kit on one of Dr. Phil’s “Money Disasters” shows (which are like watching a train wreck — horrifying, but impossible to turn away from). But I was wondering, couldn’t Quicken or Microsoft Money — or heck, even an Excel spreadsheet, such as a template for a personal budget or a monthly budget — accomplish the same thing?
Posted January 30, 2006 by Mariva in finance, resources
I walked into Pure Beauty to pick up the perfect Smoothies hair clips, which had always been in stock. But I noticed this time that the selection was very low, and I asked the sales clerk what gave. She informed me that Pure Beauty’s current CEO has decided to give the store — and the business model — a makeover. "It’ll be less of a beauty supply shop and more of a beauty boutique," she said. Huh?
Then she showed me photos. Oh. I guess Pure Beauty is aiming to become the Williams-Sonoma of beauty and personal care products.
Fine, but where am I going to get my hair clips?
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Posted January 27, 2006 by Mariva in beauty, business, fashion, news
Just counting the legitimate, non-spam stuff, are you overwhelmed by email? You’re not alone. Email overload is a problem facing everyone from students and teachers to high-level executives to Congress. Too much email consumes your time, stresses you out and even impairs your mental acuity.
What to do? Organizing guru Julie Morgenstern says it all in the title of her new time-management book: Never Check E-Mail in the Morning. And Merlin Mann, proprietor of 43 Folders (no relation to 43 Things), seems particularly fascinated with email management and personal productivity. For those facing information overload, Mann advises canceling something and getting a fresh start with email, among other email management tips.
In addition, business columnist Penelope Trunk suggests getting control over your email by separating your email from your "to-do" list; responding to email within 24 hours even if it means composing short, non-"amazing" messages; and sorting by sender to find out if you can compile a single response to the few people who have been sending you the most messages.
(Update: Farai Chideya defines a "happy inbox.")
You can help others manage their own overload by avoiding common email pet peeves — and whatever you do, do not email and text message while intoxicated!
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Posted January 20, 2006 by Mariva in business, career, resources, social
Googlism: Find out what Google "thinks" of you — or of anyone or anything else.
The Dialectizer: Turn the verbal content of a web page into any of a variety of funny dialects, including "Jive," "Cockney," "Elmer Fudd," "Swedish Chef," "Moron," "Pig Latin" or "Hacker." I sound quite cornpone when Mariva’s Guide has been Redneck Dialectized.
5ives: Lists of five things within a random topic, such as "five ways to get on the del.icio.us home page" or "five terrible fake ideas for a retro TV comeback."
Keepers of Lists is a similar idea to 5ives, but each list has a different number of things, such as "top 65 signs you’re obsessed with Harry Potter" or "top 33 things to do with a paperclip."
Dilbert’s Ultimate Cubicle: Kind of like Scott Adams’ Ultimate House.
Million Dollar Homepage: Yeah, I’m envious, too. A great idea like this is akin to winning the lottery, because it most likely can’t be replicated.
KidSites.com: A good directory of educational activities, coloring books, comics, crafts, games, sports, story books, companion sites to children’s television programs, and sites specifically for girls’ interests.
Bored.com: If you really need to visit this site, you might want to get a hobby.
Linky & Dinky: Even better than Bored.com.
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Posted January 11, 2006 by Mariva in business, education, entertainment, fun, games, innovations, resources
How do you manage all the information in your life? For a busy person — and who isn’t these days? — it can be a challenge to find the right information management system. It may help to know that no system is perfect — each has its pros and cons — and you might end up using a combination of several tools to create a customized information management system that works best for you.
Professional organizer Julie Morgenstern advises choosing a single system — paper-based or electronic — for managing all your personal data (calendar, contacts, "to-do" list, notes, expenses, etc.) Time-tested paper-based systems include the venerable Filofax, FranklinCovey, Day-Timer, and my favorite (and best-looking, in my opinion) organizer pages, Day Runner. Desktop software applications include the robust ACT! contact management software, Microsoft OneNote and IBM Lotus Organizer. And, of course, there is a plethora of handheld devices and PDAs to choose from.
Because each medium has its own advantages, I use all of these in conjuction:
- Microsoft Outlook as my desktop PIM. I used to use Palm Desktop until the sheer volume of data I was managing unleashed some sort of glitch that crashed the application with increasing frequency. (Perhaps this bug has been fixed in subsequent versions.)
- A Palm PDA, with the data synched to Outlook, thanks to Chapura PocketMirror.
- A series of Excel spreadsheets to manage my business data, fitness record, reading list, wish list and generic weekly schedule.
- A good old-fashioned notebook and pen — although I haven’t graduated to the Hipster PDA yet.
While it may seem complicated to use all of these tools, all of my information is well organized, and if my desk isn’t already clear, it’s very easy to tidy up.
Other resources worth considering:
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Posted January 5, 2006 by Mariva in books, business, career, gadgets, innovations, resources
Does scented paper exist? I’ve been intrigued by the concept since seeing Legally Blonde, in which Reese Witherspoon’s character Elle Woods submitted her resume on paper that was not only pink, but scented as well, to give it that "extra something." After conducting my own exhaustive research, however, I found out that you can’t just purchase a ream of scented paper at, say, Office Depot.
The only products I found that were even close to this mythical scented paper included:
I also found a couple of resources for do-it-yourselfers, so that you can either infuse a scent into existing paper or make your own scented herb paper from scratch.
I hope someone eventually makes inexpensive scented paper that’s suitable for printing. A savvy entrepreneur could fill some niche markets in the wedding, home crafting, scrapbooking, stationery, dining napkin or specialty paper industries. Maybe Martha or Kate — or, more practically, Wausau Paper or Gartner Studios — should look into it.
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Posted December 28, 2005 by Mariva in bath & spa, business, decor, entertaining, gifts, home, innovations
Feeling creatively blocked? Try a pack of IDEO Method Cards, a tool that helps designers, innovators, entrepreneurs and others come up with new ideas, approaches and strategies for business and creative endeavors. Each card features a photograph, diagram, drawing or other image on the front and a suggested approach on the back. You don’t have to be a professional designer to appreciate how these cards can help you think about things differently or conduct thought experiments in the everyday world. IDEO provides four examples online; if you’re intrigued by these, you’ll hunger for the whole deck.
Posted December 9, 2005 by Mariva in business, career, education, fun, games, gifts, innovations, resources
Thinking about teaching English abroad? Check out Dave’s ESL Cafe, where you can find job boards, books, links and a photo gallery of students in other countries. English teachers and students alike may find it helpful to review the lists of idioms, phrasal verbs, pronunciation and slang.
Posted November 3, 2005 by Mariva in business, career, community, education, resources, travel
Frappr (Friends Mapper) is a new tool (currently in beta) that allows you to place everyone in a particular group (work, friends, specific communities) on a map, complete with markers, photos and "shoutouts" (messages to the entire group). If the idea seems fuzzy, you can browse the public Frappr groups to see what Frapprs are mapping: quilters, rock band fans, outdoors clubs and so on.
RisingConcepts, the startup behind Frappr, is also developing two other collaborative projects: CareerJive, a social networking tool for friends, colleagues, associates and job-seekers, and Planzo, a shareable calendar tool. The examples of Presidents George W. Bush’s and Bill Clinton’s Planzo calendars are hilarious.
Posted October 28, 2005 by Mariva in business, community, social