Post One: Clean For a Reason 06/2010 (A)

I have been meaning to write this post for a little while, since it was almost a month ago that I went to Chicago… but better late than never, right? Hoover graciously sent me to Chicago with some other bloggers to attend the International Home and Housewares Show. After we arrived in Chicago, Hoover took us out to dinner at a really yummy restaurant, Hub 51. At the restaurant they told us about a project they are doing with the organization Cleaning For a Reason. This organization believes that fighting cancer is difficult enough, but living with it is even tougher. That’s where the Cleaning for A Reason Foundation steps in. This nonprofit offers free professional housecleaning, and maid services to improve the lives of women undergoing treatment for cancer – any type of cancer. How can you help this organization in it’s mission to provide cleaning services for cancer patients? Whenever YOU hire a professional cleaner make a commitment to only use companies that are partnered with this company. They have a great list on their site of Maid Services that have partnered with them to offer the free cleaning services for those suffering with cancer. While I was in Chicago I found some great products and companies that I will be posting about, but the first one I wanted to talk about is the new FloorMate from Hoover! It LITERALLY blew me away! So much so that I tried to distract the Hoover executive showing me the product so I could try and sneak it under my jacket and bring it home on the plane. What you see in the picture is some gatorade spilled on a floor. First you switch the upright to “vacuum” and it sucks up all the liquid (I was slightly impressed). Next, you switch it to “wash” and it SCRUBS your floor with some cleaning solution! (Here is where I started to covet this new toy) This has spinning brushes that act like you were on your hands and knees scrubbing! Whenever I’ve wanted to deep clean my floors like this it’s taken me ALL DAY LONG on my hands and knees, and I usually have to send my kids elsewhere so they don’t screw up my process. THEN this handy little device completely BLEW ME AWAY when they set it to “dry” and a squeege came down and DRIED THE FLOOR! Again, when I’m doing my floor scrubbing I have to use just about every towel in the house an do a little floor dance to get all of the soapy water up. Needless to say, my old process was a pain, and this is going to make it soooo much easier. It wasn’t releasing until this month, so I’ve been patiently waiting (and truthfully ignoring my floor because I knew that very very soon it would get so much easier). As soon as Best Buy gets one… it’s going to be MINE… oh yes… it will be mine!

*Disclaimer… Hoover paid for my trip to Chicago, but has not paid me to write a review of the product… I just really really liked it*

Post One: Clean For a Reason 06/2010 (B)

A vacuum manufacturer sent me to Chicago with some other people to attend the International Home and Housewares Show. After we arrived in Chicago, the vacuum manufacturer took us out to dinner at a restaurant, Hub 51.
At the restaurant we were told about a project they are doing with the organization 'Cleaning For a Reason'. This organization told us that fighting cancer is difficult enough, but living with it is even tougher. Cleaning for A Reason Foundation steps in to help. The nonprofit offers free professional housecleaning and maid services to improve the lives of women undergoing treatment for cancer. To help this organization in it’s mission to provide cleaning services for cancer patients make a commitment to only use companies that are partnered with Cleaning for a Reason. They have a list on the company website of Maid Services that have partnered with them to offer the free cleaning services for those with cancer. While in Chicago, I found some products and companies that I will be reviewing. The first one I want to review is the new product from the vacuum manufacturer: First you switch the upright to “vacuum” and it sucks up all the liquid. Next, you switch it to “wash” and it scrubs your floor with a cleaning solution! The new product has spinning brushes that scrub the floor. Whenever I’ve wanted to deep clean my floors like this it’s taken all day. The new product isn't releasing until this month.

Post Two: Outlook, Your New, Old Best Friend 08/30/2011 (A)


For a few weeks I had been, what I’ll call “between computers”. I left a job at one company, and as a result had to give back the laptop I was using. My new company had purchased me a laptop, but due to some parts that were not in stock it was taking a bit of time for the laptop to make it’s way to me. I had an “interim” laptop, but I wasn’t going to set up my Microsoft Office when I was only going to use it for a short period of time (didn’t want to give up my license in case I wouldn’t be able to install Office on the new computer). So I made do with Windows Live Mail. Near the end I was hanging on by my nails trying to make it through the day without Outlook. So, let me explain something. I’m a busy girl. I have SEVERAL, and I mean SEVERAL email addresses. While Windows Live Mail likely works great if you are dealing with just one or two email accounts, but when you have as many as I do, you need something a little more robust.

Enter the wonderful day I got my laptop and was finally able to setup my Outlook again! I think I heard angels singing. It was a beautiful day. So, how do I manage and organize the hundreds of emails I receive every single day?

POP – There are two main ways to get emails from your accounts (if you aren’t with a company using an Exchange server), POP and IMAP. IMAP will keep your messages on the server that it resides on. So I typically use IMAP on my phone, and then POP the mail to my Outlook. When I setup the POP account it will take the messages off of my server (such as gmail) and will bring them down to my laptop. This way, I’m only accessing the mail when I’m on the road (not removing them from the server), and then when I’m really ready to deal with the message it gets downloaded to my laptop. This method isn’t going to work for everyone, but it’s what works for me. The only real problem is if I’m ever on the road and want to see an older message I won’t be able to access it, since it’s been downloaded to my computer already. On the road I’m only responding to urgent emails though, so this isn’t as big a deal for me.

Triage – This is something I’ve recently found in Outlook, and I am OBSESSED! It’s actually called Quick Steps, and you can customize these buttons to do anything you want! For example, I receive an email from someone that has included inside something I need to do. While I have the email highlighted, I click my “To Do” quick step and it will automatically flag the email, add the message to my to do list, and move the email to a special To Do folder I have. I have also set up quicksteps for scheduling an appointment, and moving emails to various folders. Another favorite Quick Step of mine is Reply and Delete. Once I reply to a message and I know when I reply I am done with the current email, if I click the reply and delete it will open a reply message for me to type and delete the original message. This makes going back through my email at the end of the day to clean it up SO much easier! Since I’ve already deleted messages I’m done with.

Folders – That leads me to my next organization tip, and that is use FOLDERS! If you right click on your “inbox” you can create new folders to go underneath your inbox. This is how you can categorize every message you receive. The goal is to keep the inbox empty so it’s just that, a place where things land before you file them away. I delete spam, move messages to a “to keep” folder if there is no actionable items, but there is information I want to keep. I move other messages to a “To Review” folder if it’s something I want to decide what to do with later. You could also create folders for various areas of your life. I usually do this under the main 3 folders (to do, to keep and to review). I create folders under “To Keep” for Church, Business, Personal, etc. I also have an “orders” folder for order numbers and confirmation codes under the To Keep folder. Figure out a folder system that works for you, and start sorting!

Having an empty inbox is a great feeling, and you can keep that feeling by dealing with messages as they come in. Triage the message into the appropriate folder, and when it comes time in your daily routine to really go through your messages, it will be down to the stuff you actually want to read!

Disclosure: Microsoft and the Office team did not pay me or compensate me in any way for this review. Truthfully, I don’t even think Microsoft knows I exist. This is just how I roll with my email workflow.


Post Two: Outlook, Your New, Old Best Friend 08/30/2011 (B)


You left a job at one company, and as a result had to give back the laptop you were using. Your new company had purchased you a laptop, but due to some parts that were not in stock it was taking a bit of time for the laptop to make it’s way to you. You had an “interim” laptop, but you weren't going to set up your Microsoft Office when you were only going to use it for a short period of time (didn’t want to give up your license in case you wouldn’t be able to install Office on the new computer).
So you made do with Windows Live Mail. Near the end you were hanging on by your nails trying to make it through the day without Outlook. So, let's explain something. You're an adult. You have several email addresses. While Windows Live Mail likely works great when dealing with just one or two email accounts, but when you have as many as you do, you need something a little more robust.

You got your laptop and was finally able to setup my Outlook again. You thought you heard angels singing. It was a beautiful day. So, how do you manage and organize the hundreds of emails you receive every day?

POP – There are two main ways to get emails from your accounts (if you aren’t with a company using an Exchange server), POP and IMAP. IMAP will keep your messages on the server that it resides on. So you typically use IMAP on your phone, and then POP the mail to your Outlook. When you setup the POP account it will take the messages off of you server (such as gmail) and will bring them down to you laptop. This way, you're only accessing the mail when you're on the road (not removing them from the server), and then when you're ready to deal with the message it gets downloaded to your laptop. This method isn’t going to work for everyone, but it’s what works for you. The real problem is if you're on the road and you want to see an older message. You won’t be able to access it, since it’s been downloaded to your computer already. On the road you're only responding to urgent emails though, so this isn't a big deal for you.

Triage – This is something you’ve recently found in Outlook. It’s actually called Quick Steps, and you can customize these buttons to do anything you want! For example, you receive an email from someone that has included inside something you need to do. While you have the email highlighted, you click your “To Do” quick step and it will automatically flag the email, add the message to your to do list, and move the email to a special To Do folder you have. You have also set up quicksteps for scheduling an appointment and moving emails to various folders. Another favorite Quick Step of yours is Reply and Delete. Once you reply to a message and you know when you reply you are done with the current email. If you click the reply and delete it will open a reply message for you to type and delete the original message. This makes going back through your email at the end of the day to clean it up much easier.
Folders – Your next organization tip is to use folders. If you right click on your “inbox” you can create new folders to go underneath your inbox. This is how you can categorize every message you receive. The goal is to keep the inbox empty so it’s just that, a place where things land before you file them away. You delete spam, move messages to a “to keep” folder if there is no actionable items, but there is information you want to keep. You move other messages to a “To Review” folder if it’s something you want to decide what to do with later. You could also create folders for various areas of your life. You can do this under 3 folders: to do, to keep and to review. You create folders under “To Keep” for Church, Business, Personal, etc. You also have an “orders” folder for order numbers and confirmation codes under the To Keep folder.
Figure out a folder system that works, and start sorting.

What I Did:


And, finally, in a paragraph or two, consider this, from Myers:
[In mass media] a bigger audience is usually better - it means more influence, fame and money. Blogs are different; they ... encourage many-to-many rather than one-to-many interactions.... Success for most bloggers is having an audience, of whatever size, of readers who are engaged and responsive. ...
[The techniques of engagement] do nothing to produce a large audience. ... But they do help produce the right audience, or rather, to assure readers that they are in the right place, and that it might be completely reasonable to interact with this total stranger on the other side of the world, by commenting or linking or quoting. ... Blogs speak to a group, but a group that seems to know each other and share a lot already. (93)

Personally I think that I can now look at any discourse and pull something more out of it than I could have before studying these markers. Even if there was no intention by the author or animator, if the potential is there for something to be interpreted a certain way, it was probably meant to be there.
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