Revisiting Cozi.com

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Earlier in the year I wrote about Cozi and gushed about how fabulous I though the site was for creating lists. I’ve long been a fan of their clean, simple design and layout, their useful and relevant ideas and “how-did-I-live-without-that” tips.

Amazingly, the site just keeps getting better. They have added more content, including an online magazine (Live Simply) and menu planning (Nourish), but have still managed to do so in a way that is easy to navigate.

Two other new features:

Still not convinced if you should try it?

From the site:

Wish you had some help organizing your busy family life? Cozi is a FREE online family organizer that helps you manage the family calendar, organize your shopping list and to do list, share favorite memories in a family journal, and enjoy family photos—all in one spot. With Cozi’s mobile access, your information is not only available from any computer with an Internet connection, but also from any mobile phone. All you need to get started is a Cozi account and signing up is quick and easy with no downloads required.

Using Cozi has really helped me stay organized and keep track of my children’s busy schedules. Having it all in one place, without the mess of scratch paper, crumpled notes shoved in my purse has saved my sanity many times.

Let me know if you’ve used Cozi and how it’s changed how you organize your time and family.

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Use your photos to create quick calendar gifts

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Homemade gifts are always hit. There are a million and one different ideas for what to make, but really, unless you started making them last March, do you really want the stress that goes into making a bunch of last minute holiday gifts?

There are several sites that have taken the stress out of it all by allowing you to just upload photos, create a calendar and VOILA! Instant gift giving! And don’t you even dare think that these are cheesy ideas. What family member WOULDN’T love receiving a calendar full of your smiling family?

Here are some of the good ones:

Big Huge Labs: great prices; order before December 14th for Christmas delivery.

Vista Prints: BIG variety of styles – from posters, to desk calendars to magnet calendars. They have 3-day rush shipping for any procrastinators.

Create Photo Calendars: they also offers fundraising calendars. $5 flat shipping fee.

Kodak: You know that the original photo paper people will have these. They offer volume ordering as well.

Shutterfly: lots of cute layouts; currently offering 20% discounts.

Snapfish: you receive 20 free prints when you start your account to create your calendars.

If you are feeling really brave and organized, create some at home on a word processing program, save to a flash drive and take them to Kinkos/Staples/OfficeMax etc for printing.

Create Your WishList or Registry from Anywhere With Wishpot

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As you peruse the web, how many times have you come across an item for sale and thought “I wish someone would get that for me”? Do you scribble items on paper, or figure you’ll remember them later when someone asks what you want for your birthday… only to lose the crumpled up paper or completely forget what it was?

With the holidays coming, you’ll realize even more how useful Wishpot.com can be. Most people will probably use it as a bridal or baby registry, but why not go ahead and make your own wish list.logo_homepage

The premise of Wishpot is simple: gather a list of all of the gifts you’d like to receive from around the web into one spot. It’s not a shopping site – Wishpot doesn’t sell the items on your list. But it does make the shopping more manageable.

Wishpot offers several different options to make it easy to gather and share your lists:

1) Add the button to your browser to save items you find:

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2) Import your Amazon.com wish list

3) Take a photo with your mobile phone, enter the ISBN number and email it to your Wishpot account (you must sign up for your Wishpot email address on the “mobile settings” page under “Account settings”)

Additionally, you can:

  • sign up for price alerts:

“Now, when you add an item to your wish list you can set a price alert. This means that Wishpot will notify you when the item you selected goes on sale or reaches a target price. Click here to see how to add a price alert.”

  • request contributions for a gift:

“Now you have the ability to request contributions for items you add to your wish list or registry. Click here to see how to request a contribution.”

  • request cash gifts:

Click here to see how to request a cash gift

  • create lists for various friends and family members to save gift ideas for each (there is no limit to the number of lists you can create, so list your little heart out)

In my opinion, nothing beats the ease of shopping online. I’d rather sit in the comfort of my home, in my pajamas than fight the crowds and lines at the mall. And the fact that Wishpot makes it even easier? Priceless.

Sound off: How often do you shop online?

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Managing your time online

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When I first started blogging over 4 years ago, it was easy for me to manage my time. I sat down to write a post, edited it, posted it and that was that. I didn’t know anyone else who had a blog, so I didn’t spend time reading other blogs. There wasn’t Twitter. I wasn’t using Facebook. I didn’t know what a feed-reader was. My online life was manageable.

But soon, I realized that there were blogs. MANY blogs. Written by other people. And they were interesting. My “Bookmarks” list in my browser became flooded with links. I quickly realized that method was futile. I spent my time going through that list each day only to realize that there was nothing new to read. Wasted time.

Fortunately, I discovered feed-readers and that solved that problem.

Enter Twitter. And Facebook. And the hundreds of blogs that I ended up subscribed to. And all of the other social media sites that I became involved with.

If I hadn’t realized a way to wrestle all of those things under control, I’d be sitting in a corner sucking my thumb and rocking, mumbling something incoherent. That’s not to say that I have time management down to a science. I don’t. But I have found some things that help me maintain my sanity, while also continuing to grow my sites and business online. You won’t necessarily find anything new on this list, but we all need to be reminded of these things on occasion.

1) PRIORITIZE: Your to-do list is probably a mile long. Face it – you aren’t going to get it all done today (and that’s ok.) But what you can do is look your list over and find the items that have a glaring need for your attention. Put those things at the top of your list. AND DO THEM. If you can’t complete the entire task, break it into little chunks and check those off as you complete them.

2) STOP PROCRASTINATING: If it needs to be done now, do it. Ignoring it will not make it disappear off of your list. It will only serve as a further distraction as you start to worry about the fact that it isn’t getting done. So just do it. You’ll feel better once it’s checked off of your list.

3) USE APPLICATIONS/TOOLS THAT ALLOW YOU TO BE MORE EFFECTIVE AND EFFICIENT: When I first started using Twitter, I hated it. I found myself on the Twitter website obsessively refreshing to see if someone had replied to any of my comments (“Why doesn’t anyone else see how witty I am on there?”). I wasted so much time doing that, I had to just quit Twitter for a couple of months. Then I learned about Twhrl and was hooked on Twitter once again. Only this time, I was able to use it in a way didn’t take me away from other work I was doing. If someone responded to me, I received a little notice on my screen. There are so many applications that make using Twitter so much easier and I’ve tried most of them. Tweetdeck has been my favorite, and each new version adds something that makes me enjoy it even more. Try them out and see which one helps you the most.

(*NOTE* I will be posting tutorials on some of the helpful features for each Twitter application/tool in an upcoming series)

4) KNOW WHEN TO CLOSE OTHER APPLICATIONS: The internet allows us to be in multiple places at one time. On so many levels, this is a fantastic thing. But when you are trying to get work done, it leads to overload. If you have too many programs open on your computer screaming for your attention it will become a major distraction. If you need to write a blog post, close down every program except for the ones you need in order to write your post. Don’t keep Tweetdeck or Skype or GoogleChat open, unless you have to have access to write your post. (And if that’s the case, consider doing that portion of your post separately) Those are tools meant to help you. Just as you can turn off your phone to keep from being interrupted, you can turn these other distractions off as well.

5) ALLOW YOURSELF TO BECOME PICKIER ABOUT WHERE YOU SPEND YOUR TIME ONLINE: When I first started reading other people’s blogs, I had the time to do it. Soon, my reader had become too full. At first I tried breaking them down into types of blogs (eg: design sites; blogging friends; cooking sites…) but my reader still caused me anxiety when I’d open it and find 500+ new posts waiting to be read. I was so afraid of missing something that I’d try to make it through that list (Oh yes I did…). But when I got to the end, I realized that I couldn’t recall most of it. That is because not all of it was relevant to me anymore. My needs had changed. I no longer needed every single design site (And really — did I ever??). So I whittled my list down to the select few that I consistently found myself referring to. I did that for each type of site I had in my reader. If it was not useful to me, I removed it.

6) ALWAYS HAVE SEVERAL POSTS STARTED IN YOUR DRAFTS: At any given time, I have at least 4 posts in my drafts folder that I can work on. This allows me to work on them as inspiration hits, but it also keeps me prepared for those times when something unexpected happens and I need to get a post up. If you are a blogger with a regular posting schedule, this can be a life-preserver in a pinch.

7) DEDICATE PARTS OF YOUR DAY TO VARIOUS TASKS: If you were at work in a corporate office, you would most likely have some sort of schedule that you’d follow through the day. It should be no different when you are sitting in front of your laptop at your kitchen table. Come up with a schedule/game plan for how you will spend your computer time. Twitter won’t die if you aren’t on there every 20 minutes. Facebook will carry on without you while you complete your current project. Set aside times of the day to spend on each of the sites you frequent. Consider what times of day are most active on those sites. (eg: Twitter is most active in the evening/night hours… but you may have people you call on who are most active in the morning) Feel free to allow for flexibility with it, but be aware of how much time you are spending on each site and how much time it is taking away from the other things you need to get done, and plan your time accordingly.

Time management doesn’t always come naturally to us. We want to do what we want to do. But sometimes, we have to do other things. With some focus dedicated to those things, you will soon find that your day feels more in control.

How do you manage your time? Share in comments.

Get a Free Passport Photo Through ePassportPhoto.com

If you have ever had to have a photo taken for a passport, you know what a big fat pain it can be. It has always perplexed me as to why it had to be that way… I mean, come on – it’s a photo. And a not very good one at that!

There had to be a better way.

There is: ePassportPhoto.com. And guess what? It’s FREE! Not only is it free, but you don’t have to get in your car and drive anywhere to have it taken. It is done right on your own computer.

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You take the photo. You upload the photo to the site, where you can easily check for compliance with any requirements:

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epassport ensure compliance

Once compliance is checked, proceed and preview your sheet:

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If it all looks right, you are ready to print them off:

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The only charge incurred is if you use the premium service and have them sent to Walgreens. My suggestion, if you aren’t going to print them yourself, is to check Costco and other stores that print photos. Find the best price and send them there. Click on the “download and print” link on the “Basic” option. The photo will be downloaded to your computer, which will allow you to upload it to any photo printing site. Just be sure that their printing meets proper passport photo requirements.

It doesn’t get any easier than that. And best of all, you’re not stuck with a photo that looks like you just ate a bag of lemons and are on your third straight night with no sleep.

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About ePassportPhoto.com:

ePassportPhoto.com is the Internet passport photo booth, and our primary goal to put an end to the passport photo rip-off. We believe that there’s no reason you should have to spend valuable time and money just to get a simple, compliant set of passport photos.

Unlike traditional photo shops, our system currently supports the exact government requirement of over 60 countries, from Albania to Zimbabwe (and many in between, such as Australia, France and Germany). For example, if you’re a citizen of China living in Canada or a citizen of the UK living in the US, ePassportPhoto.com will help you create passport photos that comply with the requirements of your home country.

ePassportPhoto.com was established in 2005 and has served over two million users from 200 different countries and territories.