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Shiny New Toy? 7-Step Checklist for New Gadget Nirvana

Shiny New Toy? 7-Step Checklist for New Gadget Nirvana

New Gadget Nirvana

    Got a new gadget? Maybe it’s a beautiful new iPod, Blackberry, or camera. We’ve seen a lot of debris from these gadgets in our organizing work… empty boxes, drawers and bins full of old cords and cables, and files full of obsolete manuals. Here’s my 7-step checklist for making sure your gadget has the best possible life!

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    1. Look at the return policy. Right when you get home with your new toy, make sure you notice on the receipt what the return policy is for that store. Some stores are only 14 days, and some are 30 or even more.

    2. Write the last date of return on the box. Take a permanent marker and write on the side of the box the last possible return date. Alternatively, you could write the purchase date, but unless you remember the return policy, that date might not be as meaningful. What happens is that later you’ll see this box on a shelf and wonder if it’s okay to throw it away… the answer is YES!  Boxes like this are just boxes full of air.  They are taking up lots of valuable storage space. (The exception is if you are really meticulous about re-selling your gadgets later on eBay. If you really like selling them in the original box later, go ahead, as long as you have space.)

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    3. Label the cords and cables. If you could only see the graveyards of bins, boxes, and drawers we’ve seen, full of old “black box” adapters, USB cables, and other accessories… typically the owner has absolutely no idea from which devices these extras have originated, and that makes it really difficult to discard them. If you grab a label maker and quickly type out a few labels that say, for example, “Olympus FE-280 Camera” and stick them on the power adapter, the PC cable, and the battery charger, you’ll always know. Bonus tip: Sometimes it’s good to use the “FEED” button to feed out an extra length of label tape before cutting, so you’ll have extra tape to wrap around a cord and still be able to read the label clearly.

    4. Take care of rebates immediately. That great deal you got “with rebate” does you no good if you don’t mail in the rebate information. In fact, the manufacturer is counting on that! Make sure you follow their instructions to the letter, in a timely manner, with copies of the UPC code, the receipt, and everything else they ask you to provide.  And don’t forget to spin around three times and say the magic word before mailing.

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    5. Read the Quick Setup Guide. Yes, the good gadgets should be intuitive. You don’t need no stinkin’ instructions. But there are so many times that one important step makes all the difference, such as whether to plug in the USB cable to your device before or after installing the drivers.  Sometimes it’s a very big deal!  Those Quick Setup Guides are designed for people like you who want the bottom line.  Take just 2 minutes and look it over before making a mess of everything.

    6. Protect your device from loss or theft. Take a moment to put your name and contact information in the “Owner Information” section, such as seen in a Blackberry or Palm device. Offering a reward for return is a great strategy. You can also put an address label on the device if it’s large enough, and you can use Stuffbak labels or other asset ID tags for further protection and easy return. If your device has a calendar feature with alarm, you can set a weekly alarm at the same time (I like Monday at 10:00 am when most people are at their desks) to ring and pop up with your owner information. This strategy is great for that honest person who found your device but doesn’t know how to look up the owner information on it. Yes, you’ll hear it once a week, but you can just shut it off and keep going.

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    7. After the return period expires, file the software, receipt, and documentation (if needed). If the device came with a CD with drivers on it, you may want to file that with your other software. I like using CD wallets for this purpose, to store them in the least amount of space. Do consider whether the documentation is really necessary, since most of the time manuals are obsolete from the moment they are printed. Check online to see if the documentation exists in PDF form, and if so, save that to your hard drive and toss the manual. If you want to keep the receipt for warranty purposes, file that in your warranty files or your accounting paperwork.

    Enjoy your new device now that you’ve made sure it’s identified and protected properly!

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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