Organized Home

Start The New Year Organized!

By Jerry Lambert

Hello and welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club.  Since this is the time of year when people start to think about getting organized, I thought this would be a good time to talk to you about a website I discovered a few years ago. The name of the website is Organized Home.
Paper in filing cabinetI discovered this website while looking for a Christmas Countdown Checklist. The website had a countdown checklist and so much more.

The website is the brainchild of Cynthia Ewer.  According to her Google+ page, she has been “Helping folks get organized online since 1995”. That’s quite a track record in my book.   I have always considered myself a pretty organized person, but I’ve got nothing on this lady.

Her website is broken down into seven different categories.  I’ll cover each one individually.  Plus, two bonus categories that are just priceless, Organized Christmas & 101 Days to Christmas.

Clean House:  I know what you’re thinking, yuck.  However she breaks it down by season, so it seems much more logical, at least to me.  She even goes into getting your kids or grandkids involved.  Plus, how to tackle cleaning out the refrigerator.  Yuck, again!

Cut Clutter: This is something we all need to learn how to do.  It covers everything from de-cluttering your closet, holiday clutter, room-by-room, creating a storage plan and much more.  I know at our house, any flat surface can become “Clutter-Central”.

Getting Organized: Seems redundant to me, but whatever.  Anyway, this is an excellent area that has articles on starting the New Year organized, kids rooms, yard sales, getting organized on a budget, moving, paper management (Thank God!), plus a lot more.

Kitchenware on wallKitchen Tips: Boy, do I need this one!  This area covers all things kitchen.  Party planning, setting up and organizing a pantry, menu planning, school lunches, organizing your refrigerator, and much more.

Family Ties: This section mainly deals with preparing for back-to-school and the routine of getting your kids out the door, fully prepared to take on the day.  Since my sons are 27 and 24, this is not an issue for me anymore.  However, some of you may be in charge of getting your grandkids moving in the morning.  Lots of good advice here.

Seasonal Spin: This area groups together many of the previous articles by season.  It’s easy to see all of the articles about New Year organization, spring cleaning, daylight savings time, back-to-school, family vacations and so on.

Printables: This category has calendars, meal planners, events and travel, health and safety, crafts and hobbies and so on.  Each section has multiple documents that can be printed out and added to your to-do list.  A really excellent resource.

And last, but by no means least, Organized Christmas and 101 Days to Christmas!  These sections are so big, they have their own websites.  These are indispensable tools in preparing for Christmas.  This past Christmas, I resolved to really dig into the Organized Christmas website and implement the Christmas Countdown.  There are so many terrific ideas and articles, it can become a little overwhelming.  Tabs on the website include Christmas Countdown, Holiday Plans, Simplify Your Holidays, Gifts / Crafts, and (even more) Printables.

Christmas baublesBy following the Countdown Checklist, I was able to complete the majority of my Christmas Planning early and I actually enjoyed a RELAXED Christmas.  I know what you’re thinking, “There is no such thing!”  I beg to differ!

There are 2 Christmas Countdown plans.  Regular and Crazy!  Regular (Organized Christmas) starts on October 23rd and finishes up well before Christmas, so you can actually ENJOY the holiday, which is the whole point!  Crazy is 101 Days to Christmas.  This one starts on September 15th!  I told you, CRAZY!!  However, Christmas Eve is at our house this year, so I plan on going with CRAZY.  101 Days to Christmas has a Daily Message Index and Christmas Planner.  I’ll wait until after Halloween to put up my Christmas Lights, I promise!

Unfortunately, I recently read that Cynthia Ewer is retiring from running the websites.  Hopefully, she will hand over the reins to someone who has the same passion for organization that she does!  If you want your own personal copy of the Organized Home website, get it in book form.  Cut The Clutter is available on Amazon.  I will definitely be ordering a copy.

I hope this article has inspired you to tackle your own “Mountain of Disorganization”.  I know going over these websites in such great detail has inspired me to get my butt into gear!  Happy Organizing and De-Cluttering!!!

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends.  Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner.  Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

Side Hustle: Becoming a Tutor

Make Some Extra Money By Sharing Your Skills!

By Jerry Lambert

Welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club.  This week I thought I would look into the Side Hustle: Becoming a Tutor.  For those of you who have skills in the area of art, music, science, math, foreign language, etcetera, this could prove to be a lucrative sideline for you.

grandma teaching grandchild musicWhen I think of tutors, I immediately think about high school or college kids, getting help in subjects they are having difficulty with.  Many of the tutors helping them are fellow students or teacher’s aides.  However, there’s no reason why you can’t help out these kids, if you have the skills in those areas of study.

I admit that I have not tutored anyone as of yet.  However, I may have skills in some areas that may translate into a tutoring gig.  I’ll have to find out.  In the meantime, I thought I would bring this Side Hustle to your attention.

WikiHow has a couple of excellent step by step articles on how to get started as a tutor.  Some of the items mentioned are things that I had not thought of.  For instance, consulting an attorney if you are going to be working with children.  This strikes me as kind of creepy, but these are the times we live in.

There are many professional tutoring companies out there that you can choose to work for, or you can go it alone.  Starting small in your own town may get you some gigs that will build your confidence, reputation, and help you develop your tutoring business.  This article from Consumer Affairs has a breakdown of some of the best companies to work with, or for.

A chemistry teacher conducting an experiment in a classroomI also found a very nice Q & A spot on Quora, a website that prides itself on giving you “The Best Answer to Any Question”.  One of their contributors is a guy named Mario DiBartolomeo.  He has answered 70 questions posed to him regarding becoming a tutor and he also has a video course and book you can order for more detailed information.

I hope this brief article has been helpful in pointing out some areas for you to look at regarding starting your own tutoring business.

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends.  Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner.  Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

My Shipt Experience

My Review On Becoming A Shipt Shopper

By Jerry Lambert

Welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club.  A while ago, I tried my hand at the Side Hustle: Shipt.  I promised to write my impressions of Shipt, and here they are.

is09ao7n6In theory, it seems like a good idea.  Get pinged to pick up groceries and deliver them, just like Uber or Lyft, but substituting groceries for people.  Yeah, not so much.  I have a number of beefs with Shipt.

Before I get into them, let me start by saying that Shipt, and other food delivery services like Shipt, provide a valuable service to their customers.  Based on my discussion with Bryn, my Shipt Orientation Specialist, most of the customers are older folks or young moms who have a hard time getting out of the house (though I am sure they would love to, sans kids!).

As I mentioned in my previous article about becoming a Shipt Shopper, the online application process moves along quickly.  However, there is a video part of the application, where you will have to record your responses to specific questions.  That was a little nerve-wracking, but it’s only about a third of the application process and the rest of the questions are pretty much common sense.

Once you’re approved, you can start making money by scheduling your availability to accept orders.  This is a very squirrely process.  Since you can schedule up to 7 days in advance, it is not really an “on-demand” type of position.  Instead, you make yourself available for “Delivery Windows”, which means that all of your shopping needs to be done before the window begins.

This also means that you have to be able to shop the whole order, go through checkout, load up your car, and get to the customer by the beginning of the Delivery Window.  Shipt expects its drivers to hit the beginning of the Delivery Window every time.  Yeah, that’s not gonna happen!  At least initially.

Young man reading label in grocery storeAnother beef I have is with the estimated shopping time listed for each order.  This time estimate appears to be for an experienced shopper, who can whiz through the store on Rollerblades and have all of the items magically jump into his or her shopping cart!  For beginning shoppers, the accuracy of this time estimate, in my experience, is closer to double the time listed.  Not only does this make hitting your Delivery Window almost impossible, it cuts your hourly wage in half!!

You can choose to shop at the store closest to you.  That’s a bonus.  Not many jobs let you pick a location close to home to work from.  In a related story, the Meijer that I chose to work from is just down the road from the recently re-opened Fraser, Michigan Sinkhole!  A story that just made national news for the third time!!  A nice feature of Shipt is that you can easily change your store if your selected store happens to be on the edge of a sinkhole (that swallowed up one house and damaged many others)!

I get it, you say, “But what about the actual shopping?”  The app has 2 ways to shop for the items.  In a list, or by flipping through each item, one by one.  Let me say this to be fair.  This Meijer is not where I do my grocery shopping, so I don’t know the store layout as well as the Kroger where I normally do my shopping.  That said, I had a very tough time with the shopping process.  Between substitutions, where you have to get in touch the customer (about eight times on my first order), and racing around the store trying to find that elusive last item, I started to feel like a game show contestant on the worst game show ever!

Ok, you say, “But I bet you made some good money!”  Uh, no.  I only shopped two orders.  The first order paid me a whopping $15 and it took over two hours to shop and deliver the order, so I was late.  On the second order, I did better.  It took me only one hour and forty-five minutes to shop and deliver the order to a very pregnant young mom.  That paid me a massive $12!  All I could think of was how much money I could have made driving for Uber or Lyft, during the same time!

To be fair to Shipt, they are a great company, that is providing a valuable service to their customers.  However, in my case, I found that I would have a hard time replacing my driving income by only shopping for Shipt.  Also, since it took such a large chunk of time just to shop one order, it would cut into any other money-making Side Hustle I might be working as well.  I’m sure I would be able to speed up and make more money by becoming more familiar with the store.  However, the prospect of shopping an order of $200 or more (I did orders of $70+ and $50+) was terrifying!  It would probably take me five hours or more to shop it!!

is09ao7k7All in all, I decided that Shipt was not for me.  And that was before the sinkhole opened up down the street.  I just couldn’t see how I could earn enough money.  Plus, filling a huge shopping order would require a lot more work than a smaller order.  Driving someone to the airport requires that I hang onto the steering wheel and keep my foot on the gas.  In other words, no additional effort.  I am not afraid of hard work, but I think that spending endless hours in a grocery store would be my own personal version of Hell!

I hope this review of becoming a Shipt Shopper has given you some insight into how it all works.  It appears to be a young person’s game since I did notice many young women shopping orders.  Unfortunately, since nobody is going to confuse me with a 20-year-old, I have decided to look elsewhere for another income stream.

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends.  Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner.  Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

Side Hustle: Virtual Assistant

Use Your Skills To Stick It To Your Old Boss!

By Jerry Lambert

Hello again and welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club!  I hope you had a terrific holiday season and are rested and refreshed.  Yeah, right!  Anyway, this week I thought I would discuss a Side Hustle that many of you may be interested in.  Becoming a Virtual Assistant.

is09ao1z3I have decided, at least for the first few postings of this year, to focus entirely on Side Hustle jobs.  We all need to generate some extra income to pay off those Christmas bills.  When I first started looking into Side Hustle jobs, I was surprised to find the position of Virtual Assistant.

I am going to be honest.  I don’t come from a Secretarial, pardon me, Administrative Assistant background.  Gotta be PC.  When I was moved onto the Tech Support Desk, I was terrified.  I had to try to help the Secretaries who would call with fubared legal documents.  Needless to say, I had a pretty steep learning curve before I became relatively competent in my job.

That said, I was surprised to find out the Virtual Assistant position was actually a “thing”.  Since this is really not my area of expertise, I have decided to defer to Joanne Munro, who has an excellent website with a complete rundown on how to become a Virtual Assistant.

The VA Handbook takes you through how to set up your business, create your website (for FREE at Wix.com), and take care of all of the legal stuff needed to get your VA business off the ground.  It’s really an excellent resource and I highly recommend that you check it out.  However, keep in mind that Joanne is in the UK, so some of the information may be related to that region.

However, if you are someone like me who was downsized, becoming a VA might be a great way to start a new career and flip the bird to your old company at the same time!

Joanne does mention that Networking is the key to building your VA business.  I would think that Social Media would be an excellent way to spread the word about your budding Side Hustle.  Spreading the word on Facebook about your VA business could net you some solid leads.

Happy typistAlso, I would reach out to your friends at your old job.  See if they have heard about anyone who is in need of additional secretarial help outside of the office or after hours.  Catching up with them over lunch might be your key to future clients!  Also, getting in touch with contacts you may have with your old company’s clients is a good way to capitalize on your time there.

Don’t forget about LinkedIn.  I know that you probably blitzed all of your LinkedIn contacts after you were let go from your previous job.  Do it again, but this time keep in mind your new objective.  Promoting your fledgling business and mining for prospective new clients.

I know that our firm had one secretary who worked the afternoon shift.  She was there to help attorneys who had after-hours work that needed to be done.  You may want to consider specializing in after-hours availability.  I would think if you get contracted by a couple of companies as an after-hours Virtual Assistant, you can pretty much write your own ticket.  Again, not speaking from experience, but I would think that it would make a lot of sense.

is09ao1ykThat said, keep in mind what you may be letting yourself in for as an after-hours VA.  When the law firm I worked for had a “Closing”, it could run all night.  That may be a can of worms you do not want to open.  However, if you can find a company that needs after-hours support, it might be steady work without the threat of an “all-nighter”.

I hope this article has encouraged you to venture out on your own as a successful Virtual Assistant.  After all, what better way to stick it to your old employer than by using the skills you perfected to become a successful VA?!

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends.  Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner.  Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!