Archive for the ‘education’ Category

Baby steps – your first photo book

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Dealing with digital snapshot photos can be overwhelming.  Last week we talked about overcoming overwhelm by working on decluttering in 5 minutes at a time chunks.  The first step was to make sure your photos are sorted into folders so you can find them.  Now on to a new goal with an exciting tangible outcome – your first photo book!  Thinking of the complete task can be overwhelming so break it all down to baby steps which I have listed below.

  1. Goal: make a photo book from photos in your top priority digital snapshot photo directory.
  2. Set your reward goal for your treat after you complete your goal and project!  Simple or complex, it is up to you.
  3. Set a realistic due date.  This is motivating for me.  I find without a deadline, I just don’t get to it.
  4. Make sure that all of your event photos from camera, phone, text messages, emails, Facebook and friend’s cameras are in your folder.  Scan any other memorabilia you want to include.  Move photo files as needed.  I have 317 photos without scanning memorabilia or checking to see if any other photos are in text message or emails.
  5. Open your favorite photo editing software so you can look through your photos one at a time.  I happen to like the free Shutterfly Studio but there are many out there.  I actually have many photo editing software programs loaded on my computer. Editing is the key to make a so-so snapshot look great!  Not everyone is a professional photographer, but editing the photos WILL give the best result.  Most photo programs have easy to use tools for straighten, red eye, crop and brighten / exposure.  Make sure you make a copy of the photos you plan to edit so you can revert back to the original – just in case.  Shutterfly Studio happens to automatically make a backup, but I usually will save a new copy for cropping.  I will discuss photo cropping and editing in more detail in another post.   Keep in mind that if you happen to have a lot of photos of your event, you may need multiple sessions before you are done editing.  If you are getting tired of the process, stop and come back another time.
  6. Delete ALL unflattering, out of focus or just bad photos.  Save photos that are too dark or too light for now, they can often be easily fixed by editing software.
  7. Rotate any photos that need it.  Some software will automatically rotate for you but some do not.
  8. Delete all but the best of similar photos by looking through large view of photos, one by one.  There is no need to have multiple versions of one photo.
  9. For very special events, some photos may need extensive editing in Photoshop.  Examples: combine group photos to make sure everyone is looking at the camera, removing distracting backgrounds or removing extra people in the background.  If you don’t have the skill for this, ask a professional.  Elemental Design does this!
  10. Review your photos again to see if there are any more that can be removed.
  11. Upload your photos to your favorite photo book printer.  This is also a great way to backup your important data for storm or disaster preparedness for free.  Step through their book design program to create your special event photo book.  Go with the quick load for super quick results.  I usually prefer to put my photos in the order I want so I can control the pages.  During this process, I sometimes reduce photos more as the pages lay out.
  12. Order and enjoy!  There is nothing better than giving someone a sentimental gift that means a lot!
  13. Reward yourself with your goal treat!
  14. Set your next goal…

Overcoming photo overwhelm – Filing

Friday, July 5th, 2013

With the use of digital cameras, the amount of photos taken at an event has multiplied exponentially.  Instead of a roll of 24 or 36, you might have hundreds of photos.  Just the thought of going through the photos seems to be overwhelming.  So you never get to it.  Days go by, months go by, years go by… no printed photos for albums… no keepsake scrapbooks or photo books either.  Most digital photos don’t even end up in a shoebox, if you don’t go through the photos they usually don’t get printed.   It may get pushed off the to-do list, but it is still in your thoughts.  Fear not, there is a way to get through this.

Like the art of decluttering your house, but we are going to start decluttering your digital photos.  The trick with anything is life, is to stop thinking about it and JUST DO IT!  If your goal is a heirloom memory photo book of your favorite event as a meaningful, thoughtful gift for someone you love or yourself, set the goal and work toward it.  Even if it takes a bit longer than you thought, you will get there if you work toward it.

Work with yourself and your natural tendencies.  Do you have more energy in the morning or at night?  Make a game of it and work for 5 minutes at the top of the hour then stop. If you like to be spontaneous, 5 minutes when the mood strikes you.  You don’t have to complete everything in one sitting.  Just work on small 5 minutes bites at a time.  Keep going if it feels good.  Set a timer if you like.

  1. Look in your My Pictures folder.  Do you have your photos in folders by date, sorted by year?  If not, that is the first place to start.
  2. First goal – make sure all photos are in folders so you can find them.
  3. My suggestion is to make a folder with the year under My Pictures.  Then under the correct year, I make a folder with European date and event description so events sort in chronological order.  Example: 2013-07-04 fireworks  or 2013-06 Wyoming trip or 2012-12-25.
  4. Set your reward goal for your treat after you complete sorting your photos into folders.  Simple or complex, it is up to you.
  5. Set a realistic due date.  This is motivating for me.  I find without a deadline, I just don’t get to it.
  6. Move photos from Downloads directory into correct folders.
  7. Save photos from cameras, phone, emails and text messages into correct folders.  Delete email since you don’t need it any longer.  Cleaning up your inbox and folders helps relieve overwhelm too.
  8. Once you have caught up with photos, keeping up with new photos won’t be as overwhelming.
  9. Reward yourself with your goal treat!
  10. Set your next goal – which event do you want to make into a photo book?  I will go thru the steps next week!

Suggestions for recent Interior Design Graduates

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Congratulations on your interior design degree.  The next thing on your agenda is to find a job if your internship didn’t change into one.  I have been an interior designer for 18 years now. Here are some things that I have found useful while job hunting.

* Send your resume to any firm that even vaguely looks like it would be suitable for interior design or architecture.

* Look at the job posting at IIDA, ASID, AIA. Don’t only look at open posting, read all to see if the firm does the kind of work you are interested.  Then send your resume to the ones that look like a fit for your personality and what you want to do.

* Do internet search for local interior design or architecture firms.

* Do internet search for facilities groups of corporations that do in-house design and reconfiguration

* Keep an open mind about what kind of work you might like to do. Usually after finished school and a few internships, there are still a lot of areas out there. You never know what you might fall into that you will love.

* Be willing to try many different areas of design. I have worked for many types of firms: single architect office, custom furniture design, furniture showroom, window covering retail shop (in store and in home), museum, architectural firms, big E little A firm in architecture department, interior design firms (often have technical side and FF&E side), custom cabinetry shop, furniture dealer, etc.

* Remember that at this point in your career, you could work as an intern architect doing cad work also. Great experience for an interior designer to have the technical background.

* I did get a relocation position through Zweig White which is an architectural / interior design recruiting firm. That was about 7 years into my career after I had passed my licensing exam.

* If you can’t find a position right away spend time educating yourself with the many online and often free white papers, webinars, etc. I have had time recently to do this and was greatly impressed by the quality of valuable education out there.

* Be actively involved in your local IIDA, ASID, AIA organizations. Volunteer on their committees and boards and get to know working professionals. Networking is the best way to find a position.

* Keep in touch with your local product reps. They are usually extremely helpful and know what is going on in the local firms and often who is hiring. I have got a lot of good leads from my reps.

* Use the power of social media to your advantage.  Use your connections on LinkedIn or Facebook to network with local designers.  Then set up a time to have coffee to meet them.  Ask them to critique your portfolio or offer a practice interview.

* Consider working as an intern until you can find a paying position.

* Consider working for a non-profit until you can find a paying position. Even volunteering for Habitat for Humanity or other similar group would be very educational.

* Consider studying for the LEED exam.  The industry is moving toward desiring this in addition to your degree.  It could give you an edge over other potential employees.

If design is your passion, be open and something will come your way.

Design Links

IIDA International Interior Design Association

ASID Americal Society of Interior Designers

USGBC US Green Building Council

IFMA International Facility Management Association

NCIDQ National Council for Interior Design Qualification

CIDA Council for Interior Design Accreditation

The American Institute of Architects

The Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS)

Louisiana State Board of Interior Designers


Thursday, January 21st, 2010

I enjoy reading inspirational quotes and even more than that, I like to act on the ideas I read about. I would like to send you a gift to brighten your day. My gift is an invitation to receive QuoteActions.These short email messages contain an interesting or inspirational quote followed by a recommended action to help brighten your day. I’ve found QuoteActions give me a welcome break from my everyday routine — and it’s nice to read receive an uplifting email!

An example…

“You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”
John Wooden, LegendaryBasketball Coach

Your action for today is tomake an anonymous donation or do something nice for someone without themfinding out you did it.

Enjoy my QuoteActions.There’s no charge. They’re trusted, safe and secure. You can unsubscribe at anytime.

Just click on this link toopt-in. Important–look for another email asking you to confirm it was you whoopted-in.

I hope you’ll accept my gift today!
Suzanne Dummer Stafford, IIDA LEED-AP
Elemental Design, LLC

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Definition of Responsibility

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Responsibility has always been a favorite attribute of mine. Years ago, I have attended multiple seminars presented by Landmark Education. I have kept this definition in my office memo files to share with co-workers. This is a concept that has been very useful to reduce my stress level. It is empowering to take responsibility for yourself instead of giving it away to others. This attitude is also very useful as a basis to work on interior design projects, keeping on task toward completion.


Responsibility starts with saying you are cause in the matter.

Responsibility is not burden, fault, praise, blame, credit, shame or guilt. In responsibility, there is no evaluation of good or bad, right or wrong. There is simply what’s so, and your stand.

Being responsible starts with the willingness to deal with a situation from the point of view that you are the generator of what you do, what you have and what you are. That is no the truth. It is a place to stand.

No one can make you responsible, nor an you impose responsibility on another. It is a grace you can give yourself – an empowering context that leaves you with a say in the matter of life.

© 1995 Landmark Education

Suzanne Dummer Stafford, IIDA LEED-AP
Elemental Design, LLC

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7 Workplace Etiquette Tips to Build Teamwork in Any Economy By Rachel Wagner

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

No one would dispute that today’s gloomy economic news is a concern for workers everywhere. But, did you know that showing workplace courtesy and respect to those in your department or team is a winning way to build up your team?

Workplace etiquette pays in two ways for you and your team. First, it elevates you as an individual—and it’s a good thing to be known as someone who shows respect and courtesy to others. In fact, research shows that workplace etiquette is essential for keeping and being promoted in a job.

Secondly—and of equal importance—workplace etiquette improves work relationships. It shows your team that you care about them, their work, and their value to the team.

Moreover, when the entire team or department embraces professional workplace etiquette, your team’s stellar example can raise the bar for the rest of the organization. As the saying goes, “A rising tide floats all the boats.”

Here are seven ways you can use workplace etiquette and courtesy to set you and your team apart in any economy.

1. Attitude is everything.

Have a great attitude like your job depended on it. You may not be in your dream job or have a dream boss, but don’t wear a negative attitude on your shirtsleeve. It shows! Refrain from gossip and negative talk about anyone on your team. Rather than building you up, condescending conversation diminishes you instead. Also, be all there—don’t mentally check out by 2:00. And, show yourself friendly to everyone on the team. Research from the Servcorp Index reveals that the majority of American business professionals appreciate being acknowledged by teammates when they arrive at work.

2. Notch up nonverbal communication.

Have good eye contact to show you are listening. Look at the upper part of the face—the eye and brow area. Looking any lower on the face is too social and intimate for the workplace. Avoid crossing your arms over your chest as this can indicate you are not approachable. Give a good handshake to those on your team, not just to your clients.

3. Be timely, not tardy.

Regardless of age, job title, or level in the team hierarchy, be on time for work and meetings. Better yet, be a few minutes early. Punctuality shows your team that you respect them and their time. Complete tasks and projects on time, too; don’t let the team down with excuses.

4. Use proper tech etiquette.

Don’t leave the team hanging. Answer their emails and phone calls in a timely way—by the end of the day if possible, and no later than 24 hours. Using proper grammar and punctuation in departmental emails is just as important as in client emails.

5. Go the extra mile—it’s not crowded!

Look for ways you can help out and show support to a teammate. If he has a heavy day and deadlines to meet and you don’t, step up and offer to help. Your assistance and team spirit will be appreciated by everyone in the group.

6. Contribute value to team meetings.

Focus on the meeting, not on side conversations or on your BlackBerry. Be open to others’ ideas and points of view. Avoid a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude. It makes you appear selfish and undermines team spirit. Let others finish speaking before sharing your thoughts.

7. Show appreciation.

Everyone likes to be appreciated. Sincerely verbalize and demonstrate thanks as often as possible. Do this both publicly—when appropriate—and privately. If your boss congratulates you on a job well done and you had help from your team members, be sure to tell your boss so they can receive credit, too. They’ll be more likely to rally around you on the next big project.

Truly, nothing could be easier—or better—for building up your team than when everyone engages in workplace etiquette and courtesy. No matter how uncertain the economy, using these tips will make a difference in your own job success and promotion—and in the success of your team. Ready to float your team’s boat higher?

©Rachel Wagner Etiquette and Protocol. All rights reserved.

Rachel Wagner is a certified Corporate Etiquette and Protocol Consultant and founder of Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Rachel Wagner Etiquette and Protocol ( . Ms. Wagner provides business etiquette, dining etiquette, and international protocol training programs for companies and organizations and is frequently quoted in the media. You may reach her at 918.294.3179 or e-mail

Internet Education

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

I always love self and business improvement books and events.  I am always looking for a new bit of information to improve myself and my business.  I recently saw a post on the Design Success University ezine about the League of Extraordinary Minds.  My curiosity was peaked so thought I would take a look.  Last night I listened to the free intro interview with Tony Robbins.  I got some GREAT tips which I hadn’t read anywhere else (and I read a lot of books on this).  I can’t wait to listen to / read the other free information I downloaded.  I suspect there will some great information in there.  I definitely recommend you check this out.  I love getting great information for free!  The internet is a wonderful place for continuing education!

Suzanne Dummer Stafford, IIDA LEED-AP
Elemental Design, LLC

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Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Talent.  Everyone wants to be talented.  Business owners want to retain talent.  Elemental Design, LLC feels interior design should create an inviting workspace that should help the business with talent retention .  But what is talent really?  What are you willing to do to be known as talented in your field?

“The future of your company is directly tied to the quality of talent you can attract and keep,” as written in Below C-Level Strategy by John Spence, a manifesto / whitepage.  The article discussed the Five C’s of Talent: Competence, Character, Collaboration, Communication, Commitment.  This is the best discussion on the topic of talent retention that I have found lately.  In our current cultural climate, core character of individuals is key to long term business success.  The description of the manifesto doesn’t mention talent, but it is worth a read.

Suzanne Dummer Stafford, IIDA LEED-AP
Elemental Design, LLC

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Workplace Evolution and LinkedIn Marketing

Friday, October 9th, 2009

Yesterday I had a great day attended two wonderful seminars.

The lunch program for IIDA was a discussion by Lynn Utter, president and COO of Knoll.  She had great discussion topics to discuss regarding how the workplace is evolving.  I am so glad I got to attend.  It also makes me feel good that the things I have been thinking about and working on were the things she was discussing.  It was also nice to see everybody there too.

In the afternoon I attended a great free webinar “LinkedIn Power User Strategies Webinar Series” by Nate Kievman.  It was an action packed with great information that you can utilize immediately.  The new social media platforms are great ways to meet others but sometimes difficult to navagate on your own.  I find it more informative to listen to a discussion rather than just read a book if possible.                                

I decided to get his ebook LinkedIntoMarketing.  I have just started looking through it but the book and videos will great investment for my business.                   

Suzanne Dummer Stafford, IIDA LEED-AP
Elemental Design, LLC

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Time Management

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

I recently joined Mind Tools and have been enjoying the recorded interviews.  I have been very excited to find the large amount of continuing education recordings available.  A recording I enjoyed yesterday on Mind Tools site was The Myth of Multitasking by Dave Crenshaw also found at his site

In a nutshell, this is really switching between tasks and actually takes longer if the tasks require concentration.  This really seems to be true for me.  I have been working on organizing my tasks with a variety of tools lately and will endeavor to work more in this manner.   The only way to be more efficient is to shorten little things.   The switching between tasks time would add up considerably after time.  What is your billable rate per minute?  Is the task worth your effort?

I need to learn to use the technology and not let the technology use me.  I have been spending a lot of time lately listening to voice mails.  I ran across a tip for having voice mails converted to email.  It seems it would be much quicker to scan an email on my blackberry 8330 than listen to a long email.  I went with gotvoice because I have sprint and the call forwarding fees were too much.  Worth a look for free trial.

Suzanne Dummer Stafford, IIDA LEED-AP

Elemental Design, LLC

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Dedicated to improving quality of life for everyone with functional interior design.

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