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Stop Forgetting to Send Greeting Cards!

Stop Forgetting to Send Greeting Cards!

It’s Valentines Day this week… did you send cards to the people you care about? Hopefully you’re not trying to get comfortable in the doghouse.

Wouldn’t it be great to get permanently organized to send cards? If this is something you’d like to improve upon, I have several suggestions that include some great Outlook tips!

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Outlook Task Settings

    There are many options out there for getting reminders one-at-a-time, and you can certainly write birthdays into your calendar. However, for many people this still doesn’t seem to work for getting cards out in the mail on time. A system that works well for me is to use an Outlook task to pop up and remind me to write cards once a month. I usually do this the last week of the month on a day when I am going to be in the office doing administrative work. You can use an equivalent reminder in your own time management system if you don’t use Outlook.

    Hyperlink insert

      I have developed a spreadsheet that I refer to each month when it’s time to write cards. In the notes area of the Outlook task, I have provided myself a hyperlink to this spreadsheet so I can get to it quickly. You might want to do this for a lot of different reasons–from the menu bar of your task, you choose “Insert–File” and then navigate to the document you want. Just before clicking “Insert,” note there is a drop-down arrow where you can choose to “Insert as a Hyperlink.” This trick is very useful for any task that involves a frequently-accessed document.

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      You can have a copy of my Greeting Card Calendar spreadsheet to use for yourself. Some people refer to this kind of list as a “perpetual calendar.” It’s just an easy way to list everyone’s birthdays and all of the holidays permanently in one place. You can sort it and filter it in various ways, and I have written instructions for using it right into the document. When it’s time to write cards, just open the spreadsheet and filter for the occasions for that month. Anytime you hear of someone’s birthday, make a solid habit of adding it to the list.

      If you need to mail the cards out later, write a small send date on each card where you would place the stamp, and place it with your outgoing mail to send at the right time. There are some great options for sending out cards online (not e-cards), such as American Greetings, CardStore, HallmarkGreetz, and SendOutCards (these are sold by individual distributors). All of these options will send out a personalized paper card from you with a stamp on it. It’s great to be able to create all the cards for the month at once and post-date them to be sent out automatically!

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      For organizing paper greeting cards themselves, I recommend purchasing a greeting card organizer box from your local discount store. They usually come with dividers for the common types of cards, and they also typically come with a few cards to get you started. You can also use an expandable accordion file that you label with your own categories, but boxes do work better for flipping through your collection easily.

      Sending greeting cards is a great way to make your friends and acquaintances feel remembered and special. Now you can be that person who always remembers!

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      Lorie Marrero is a Professional Organizer and creator of The Clutter Diet, an innovative, affordable online program for home organization. Lorie’s site helps members lose “Clutter-Pounds” from their home by providing online access to her team of organizers. Lorie writes something useful, funny, interesting, and/or insanely practical every few days or so in The Clutter Diet Blog. She lives in Austin, TX, where her company has provided hands-on organizing services to clients since 2000.

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      The Gentle Art of Saying No

      The Gentle Art of Saying No

      No!

      It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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      But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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      What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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      But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

      1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
      2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
      3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
      4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
      5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
      6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
      7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
      8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
      9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
      10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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