Are Magazines Taking Over Your Office?

Hi, it's Debbie Green with Minutes Matter. This week, I would like to give you a few simple tips to take control of all those magazines you receive. If you wait until you have 15 - 20 magazines to go through at one time, there will never seem to be enough time because the task is overwhelming.

  • First, wait until you have the time to look through an entire magazine.
  • Tear/cut out photographs of window & bed treatments, floral arrangements or other items of special interest. (Be sure to tear out articles of personal interest as well.)
  • After you have removed all the photographs and articles you want, toss the magazines into your recycling bin. I know this may seem like a cruel concept, but who else is going to want the magazine after you've taken out all of the good stuff. By tossing the magazine you will rid yourself of a tremendous amount of clutter.
  • Clean up the photographs by cutting away any advertisements and straightening up all edges.
  • Use doubled-sided tape and mount them on card stock/index paper; use the front and back of the card stock/index paper.
  • Place the mounted photographs into plastic sheet protectors.
  • Create four View Binders with categories (Bedding, Pillows, Etc. Draperies Swags Top Treatments & Shades)

These neat organized binders can be a great asset to your company. I allow my clients, especially the ones that have never had custom window treatments, to borrow them over a weekend. Just like your local library, I "check out" the book to clients to keep track of this valuable resource. I also give them a pad of 2" x 3" Post-it notes to flag rooms or treatments they favor. Many of our clients are not exposed to custom window treatments on a regular basis; so, in a sense, your client is getting educated on what design styles are available. When we meet for our appointment, the client has already narrowed down some choices so the decision process is much faster.


Create a Logo with Studio

Are you looking for something to set your business apart from others? Minutes Matter Studio design software can help; it's not just for drawing beautiful elevations and accurate floor plans! One of the myriad other uses is creating your own unique logo. Because Studio is a sophisticated graphics program with extensive drawing tools, it can be used to sketch anything you can imagine, add dimension with gradient fill, and add text in any font, size and color.

If your company focuses on window treatments, drag one of the beautifully detailed images from the Index and customize it with trim, banding, color or fabric, and decorative hardware. It can become a scaled down logo which you can then use to "brand" your company. Add that logo to everything, from stationery to invoices, renderings, business cards, store & vehicle signage, and even your email signature, to create a uniform, consistent image. You don't have to be a Fortune 500 company to have a "corporate identity."

In our November '07 Design Challenge on The Lounge (Minutes Matter's interactive forum for Studio users) we examined familiar logos and what made them special and eye catching. Then we used Studio to design "copycat" logos for an imaginary interior design business. Read the complete thread here: The Lounge, Business Card Discussion.

In January '08 we explored marketing materials such as brochures and business cards ~ talented Studio Lounge members came up with some stunning ideas. Check it out: The Lounge, Marketing DiscussionOur Designer in the Spotlight, Tammy Horstead knew the look she wanted and was prepared to hire to a professional to tie it all together for her, but she also wanted to put her own touch on the all-important logo. She started with an open window and her tag line, "Creating a little piece of Heaven on Earth for your home" and then experimented with different window treatment styles, using the Studio images from the Index. Lipstick & Rouge, whom Debbie mentioned in an earlier newsletter, took Tammy's design and fashioned a complete look for Theodore's Custom Interiors.

We hope you'll make visiting the Lounge part of your weekly routine. It's always fun and inspiring to view what your colleagues are doing in our Success Stories forum. See imaginative renderings and how those "before" windows are transformed into contest winners and magazine features. And best of all, learn new ways to maximize your investment in Studio. Let the world see what you can create!

See you online!

Merlyn Corcoran
The Industry's Experts in Systematizing, Organization, and Marketing


QuickBooks Favorite Features and Shortcuts

Hello everyone, it's me, Debbie Green with Minutes Matter. As you know CPAs, accountants and bookkeepers have spent numerous years in college to learn correct accounting procedures. We, at Minutes Matter, along with Intuit and their QuickBooks software, have dramatically reduced the learning curve for business owners. This week I wanted to share with you a feature in QuickBooks I find extremely helpful. The Open Window List is a vertical navigation bar inside of QuickBooks and is located on the left. This list allows you to toggle to multiple open windows quickly. Enabling this feature only takes a few minutes.

Here's how I use this feature. First, I enable the One Window View, click Edit > Preferences > Desktop View > One Window. I enable this view to maximize my viewing area on my monitor. Working on proposals or invoices is much easier when you can see most or all of the transaction.


Minutes Matter Studio is soooo easy!

Here is a story that you will find inspiring. As many of you know, I love teaching and sharing what I have learned and surprisingly enough my best students happen to be my granddaughters! Morgan is better known as MoMo and has just turned three. Maddie, also known as Boobaloo, is six years old. (Don't ask me how Maddie acquired her nickname as Casey has a knack for coming up with such things.)

In the Green family at six years old you are hopping on reading websites, typing out spelling words, and of course using a trackball mouse is a must! However, Maddie has developed a unique passion for a child her age; she loves to design Studio renderings. Maddie is so ready to travel to shows with us so we have had to promise her when she turns 16 she can go to conventions and learn what it takes to become the next company president.

Last month was her daddy’s birthday and we happened to be playing in Studio. Owen and Maddie are very close so she wanted to make him a gift that he would love! I suggested making him a rendering. If you know Owen, you know he's a big Tennessee Vols football fan, so his favorite color is orange! Maddie had the brilliant idea to create a Tennessee room - she raised her eyebrows and wiggled a bit to get straight in her chair and was ready to get to work. The above is the masterpiece that was created that day. Let me just say that I never touched the mouse, she did it all by herself! (I did suggest that she start out using one of our new wall templates which would save her a lot of time.) Since Maddie loves color, one of Maddie's favorite tools is the eyedropper tool. I gave her a few pointers along the way and told her how to add a pattern to the wall and lamp shade, and within 10 minutes her rendering was complete. When her daddy looked at her rendering, he started laughing thinking I had done the work but was amazed to find out Maddie had done it all by herself.

The moral of this story is Studio is best described by Maddie, “Studio is easy for me and it can be easy for you too!” Maddie has even recorded video to tell you her story. At the end of the video, we included some “Behind the Scenes” clips - let's just say Maddie was able to create the rendering much faster than the video.

I know many of you are thinking that working with computers just comes easy to kids. Well, the biggest difference between us and them is their mindset - they embrace technology and many of us tend to resist the change. As Maddie has shown you, anyone can learn to use Studio, and we are here to help you every step of the way! Try it Free for 30 days and you will see how easy Studio is to learn.

Debbie Green
Minutes Matter
The Industry's Experts in Systematizing, Organization, and Marketing


Parking Lot Dreaming

Hi, it's Debbie Green with Minutes Matter. I received this article from Mary Ann Plumlee and just had to share it with you. As a business owner, I have had these same thoughts. We tend to get bogged down in the day-to-day operations of our business, but we should never forget that our impact is far greater than we realize.

~ Article By Mary Ann Plumlee ~

As I stood in the parking lot a feeling of pride came over me. The move was complete. Supplies stood on neat shelves overlooking the machines and worktables. The new sign announcing “open for business” could easily be seen by cars blasting down the highway in front of the new commercial location. As I paused to stand there, a sentence of satisfaction played over in my head, “Now, this is what it’s all about.”

My employees, who had delivered furniture for reupholstering to this new location, had been telling me how nice it was. They had been telling me how excited Linda of “Linda’s Upholstery” was at the prospect of moving out of that cramped leaky roof afterthought of a building she was working in. Now I could see why.

For years I had passed that little sign on the little rent house with the little workshop in the back. The homemade sign didn’t really reveal who was inside. The sign kept a secret, never revealing that a 3rd generation upholstery craftsman lived and worked there. Someone who learned from her father and grandfather the fine art of bringing lost furniture back to life. Linda is a little woman in her mid 50’s carrying on a family tradition. I often wonder how she wrestles furniture that outweighs her into submission.

Over the years my customers often asked about upholstery. Even though I knew there was a demand I never ventured into upholstery because, quite frankly, I was neck deep in window treatments. When my own business grew to the point of adding designers to my staff, they wanted to offer upholstery. As it turned out, the market for upholstery was larger than even I had imagined. We average 15-20 pieces a month, all of which go to Linda. The work we send to Linda from my company helped her move to commercial space. The new location increased her exposure and drew in even more business. Now she has a new employee to help wrestle furniture. Fulfilling a lifelong dream, Linda just bought her own home as well. I take pride in that. We helped her do that.

Growing my own company for twenty plus years from nothing more than idea to what it is today, I never thought about how my business would have a meaningful effect on the lives of others. I imagine, like most people growing a business, I was concentrating mostly on the task at hand. But as I stand in my own parking lot, I take pride in the fact that there are three brand new cars amongst the cars driven there by my employees. Another employee recently bought a home. Two more are working and paying for college.

As business owners we do affect more than ourselves. Our dedication, hard work, and often sacrifice radiate outward, often farther than we know. As I think of my own little company it is amazing the number of people that we support or help support. A small glimpse can be captured on Wednesdays when checks go into the mail. Every invoice we pay represents even more people who count on us, if even in a small way, for their future.

I love this industry. I love the fact that a little girl like me, or should I say a little girl like I used to be, could dream a dream, make it come true, and by doing so help so many others realize their dreams as well. ~

Mary Ann Plumlee started her business with $50.00 and a home sewing machine in 1985. Her company now employs 12 at 2 locations. Mary Ann writes “from the workroom” a regular column for D&WC magazine. She is currently launching a national trade association specifically for workrooms including those who fabricate bedding, window coverings, and upholstery. Learn more about Workroom Association of America LLC at http://www.workroomassociation.com/

What Do Millionaires Have in Common?

Hi, it's Debbie Green with Minutes Matter this week I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts on a very important topic. I always take time to read organizational and time management books and articles. They all have one thing in common - written lists. Everyone recommends that you create a written daily list, a written master list, and written long term goals. Every millionaire is goal oriented; it has been proven that the most successful people take time to physically make lists. When you actually write down your tasks and goals you are 90% more apt to achieve them. So what am I saying? I am saying if you want to have less stress and get more done, start making lists.

Your daily list should have no more than ten tasks listed, including personal tasks. Your master list can have as many as 100 tasks. The master list includes tasks that need to be done next week, next month or sometime in the future. Written goals should include long term plans for your personal and business life. What does goal setting do for you - it gives you focus!

When you consistently rely on lists to govern your day, you can expect to get 25% more done in a day. When you don't have a list, little tasks slip through the cracks and then turn into tomorrow's crisis. For example, have you ever put off ordering trim or custom hardware because it was going to take too much time? Well, I did and one day I said "enough!" Now when a client signs the contract and gives me a deposit, I place orders with my vendors within three to four days. I go down the estimate line by line and create a purchase order for each item. It does not matter if you get your hardware list together today or one month from now it takes the same amount of time, the only difference in waiting is you may incur Second Day Air or Overnight charges as well as rush charges from the vendor.

Be sure to schedule quiet time on your daily list. Quiet time is the time when there are no interruptions and the phone is turned off or not ringing. This time should be scheduled during the time of day that you are most productive; my most productive time is the morning. Use this time to do planning for your business, create proposals, research fabrics, bookwork etc. Remember, planning prevents crisis. Use a calendar to schedule and plan personal, as well as, business tasks, activities, appointments and don't forget the quiet time. Don't over schedule - leave some extra time. Be sure to schedule your quiet time; if you don't, it will always be eaten up by someone or something. We all have the same amount of time; the only difference is what we do with it. The one thing you can control is your time; once we waste it - it's gone forever.

Here are a few tips on planning & making lists:

  • Use only one calendar. (I recommend Microsoft Outlook & a PDA Phone and sync daily.)
  • Group appointments with errands.
  • Control the phone. (Turn off the phone during your quiet time; don't let curiosity get the best of you.)
  • Handle a piece of paper once. (Act on it, file it, delegate it, toss it - those should be your only choices)
  • Stay with a task until it is done. (Jumping back and forth to a task is a huge time waster.)
  • Turn off email notification. (When you are working on a proposal and you hear that "You've got mail" or a ding, it is an instant distraction and it takes several minutes to refocus. I confess this is a weakness for me, but now I have my computer check messages hourly. This was a big step for me!)
  • Do those unpleasant tasks first. (You will be encouraged to move to the next task.)
  • Break large tasks into several small tasks. (A proposal for a whole house could be broken into several entries on your daily list. This helps those large proposals not seem so overwhelming.)
  • Commit time every day to read - it's educational & relaxing. (Read trade magazines, newsletters, Minutes Matter Ezine of course, self-help books, etc.)
  • Create your daily list during your quiet time. (If your quiet time is in the morning, create your daily list in the morning. If your quiet time is at the end of the day, create tomorrow's daily list at the end of each day.)
  • Be flexible. (Some days just won't go as expected - tomorrow is always another day.)
  • Remember bad things happen to good lists - just don't give up!

"He who every morning plans the transactions of the day and follows out that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the maze of the most busy life. But where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incidence, chaos will soon reign." ~Victor Hugo


Start Dreaming

Hello everyone! It's me, Debbie, from Minutes Matter. Who has time to daydream? If you have not practiced the art of planned daydreaming you should give it some thoughtful consideration. You can daydream about what you want out of life, a design issue, an installation problem, marketing concepts, or where you want your business to go, then come up with solutions on how you can accomplish any task or reach any goal.

Taking time to be quiet opens up your creativity. We all know creativity comes from the right side of the brain and logical thinking comes from the left side. Many of us have the ability to use both sides; however, if we spend too much time on the logical side, it has a tendency to stifle the creative side. Daydreaming is a way to release your creative side. Other factors that could block a person's creativity are a very busy lifestyle, anger, or bitterness. Taking a vacation is one of the best things you can do for yourself, your family, and your business. After a vacation your mind is rested, provided that you don't plan a jammed-packed, fun-filled trip with little or no time to just relax and enjoy the scenery. There is an art to planned daydreaming; it is a bit like meditation. So, if you are not in the habit of taking regular daydreaming breaks, it may take some effort to get your mind to settle down.

Here is how to get off to a great start. Make sure you are in a quiet place with a cup of coffee or hot tea and cast your gaze on something that is peaceful. Spend about 15 - 30 minutes daydreaming. As your mind relaxes, start to ponder on an opportunity or a problem that needs more thought. New ideas, concepts or a different perception will start to gather and arise.

Our industry is full of creative minds and creative minds need rest in order to operate at optimal performance. So don't feel guilty or think that you are wasting time when you allow your mind to wander off into a daydream. Try it! You'll love the peaceful experience and the results are incredibly powerful.



Welcome to Minutes Matter - In the Loop!

Welcome to In the Loop! Here you will find great resources that will inspire you to grow your business. We look forward to providing you with the tools you need to be successful and stand out from the crowd!


Casey Green
Minutes Matter
The Industry's Experts in Systematizing, Organization, and Marketing