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Showing posts from 2008

Organizing Habits #19-23

Effective work habits keep our productivity up and our stress levels down. You may be tempted at the end of each day to just turn your back on your disheveled workspace. But, reality is you will just have to face it the next morning.

If you invest 15 minutes today preparing your space and organizing your work you will not only save yourself lost time tomorrow you will also save your company lost productivity. And, we all need to be affecting the bottom-line positively rather than negatively.

Using 5 effective work habits can help you focus on the tasks at hand right away in the morning instead of wasting an hour before hitting your stride. 15 minutes before you leave your workplace follow this routine:

1. Clear your work surface - of papers, files and supplies. Jot down notes with your last thoughts or actions on projects, so you can pick up easily where you left off. Return project and action folders that may have piled up during the day to a vertical system on your work surface if the…


Weekly Notepad: Each sheet has a Monday to Sunday section for listing daily activities and a tear-off section perfect for shopping lists. I use mine for weekly menu planning and grocery shopping list.

With a design based on ledger paper, multiple columns naturally create checkboxes. A must-have notepad for any avid planner. Printed with yellow and gray ink on white paper.

If you love paper tablets as much as I do, this one is a must have!

Order from Mateo Ilasco. $9.50 for 50 sheets—a year’s worth of menus and shopping lists if you take a two week vacation from cooking :)

What will you use your weekly notepad for?

Quick Tip

We're expecting our second of three winter storms in a row in Portland, Oregon today. Many people haven't been able to get out and mail their holiday packages. However, did you know you can use a credit card at any time to print a barcoded Priority Mail label on plain paper with your own printer? Go to and click "Print Postage" or "Print a Shipping Label." It's also trackable at no extra cost! That rule about having to hand carry something to the post office that weighs more than 1 pound (because of terrorism) does not apply when you use this Click & Ship service, since the package is traceable to your personal credit card.

Inspiration Wednesday

This inspiration is from Debbie. “Here's a great alternative that will not only spread the generosity of the holiday season, but it will redefine Christmas. Replace meaningless gifts by giving donations to your recipients' favorite charities (You can even request others do the same for you. It's definitely a better idea than standing in the "Returns" line on December 26.) And, makes it easy to do.” states, "It's not about reinventing the holiday. It's about changing the way we look at gift giving and receiving. It's taking money we usually spend on obligatory gifts with little meaning, and creating gifts of charity that give in multiple ways, to the receiver, the giver, and people who truly need."

This year, my siblings, my mother, close family friends, and I agreed to forgo gift exchanges. Instead of presents, I requested their “presence” for a holiday feast and festivities. After all, isn’t …

Organizing Habit #18

Take a Commercial Break…

It’s brrr cold here in Portland, Oregon and there is no school for the kids. Roads are icy and dicey so I’m staying in too. Which could result in some rare TV time. So, today anytime I’m watching TV I’m going to take the time during commercial breaks to tidy up and organize my home. Try it! You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in two minutes and two seconds.

Send me a comment tomorrow and let me know what you accomplished during your commerecial breaks.

p.s. Happy Birthday to my sweet friend Megan!


I love my new handbag!! It’s hard for a professional organizer to admit this, but I am constantly freaking out because I can’t find my keys, Bluetooth, and sunglasses. No matter where I put them, they become “misplaced”. Fortunately, I have a very patient husband who will hunt these items down for me when I’m freaking out.

Not anymore! With my new Butler Bag, all of these items have a designated slot to contain them safely in my Butler Bag. And, there is plenty of room for everything I want to carry with room to spare!

I have a larger Butler Bag for work that holds all my essentials—including my label maker, camera and tape measure.

If you want to enjoy this amazingly organized and extremely attractive handbag order it here on my blog site and receive $10 off your Butler Bag. Or, buy one as a gift for someone you know who could benefit from not digging in their handbag anymore!

Inspiration Wednesday

E-mail Addiction: A Real Problem

E-mail is a valuable work tool, but also an addiction risk. E-mail addiction, to which IT workers and home-office based business owners are especially vulnerable since their workdays center around technology, can become a serious detriment to one's workplace productivity and personal life.

I know I am guilty of e-mail addiction even more now that I have an iPhone and can receive messages when I’m away from the office!

Warning Signs of Addiction:

Checking e-mail every 15 minutes or less.

Going through e-mail religiously when not at work.

Interrupting in-person activities on a regular basis to look at and respond to e-mail.

Interrupting non-professional life, such as sleep, family time, etc., to check e-mail.

Needing to respond to an e-mail immediately.

Feeling compelled to look at every e-mail.

If you fit the e-mail addiction profile, here are some steps to help regain your control over e-mail.

Adjust your e-mail client to check e-mail every couple of hours.


Do you struggle with paper management? Do you have piles of paper everywhere and no where to put them? Or, are your file cabinets bulging with paper and you don't have any room for new papers? Do you know what papers should be kept and for how long? Do you know how to file them? That's where FreedomFiler comes in. It's a "self-purging" filing system that provides an easy-to-file and easy-to-maintain way to contain your paper information. And, it's attractive too!

As a Trained and Certified FreedomFiler Consultant I can help you with all of these paper management issues and more.

You can purchase an already assembled FreedomFiler Quick Start set with the most commonly used labels already affixed to hanging files and stored in an attractive filing box for you to use in the box or transfer into your filing cabinet. The set includes extra labels and file folders so you can customize it for your specific needs. The cost for the Quick Start set is $150.

You can purch…

Organizing Habit #17

I just returned from our Thanksgiving respite in Central Oregon. During our travel 'over the river and through the woods' it caused me to think it is time to get the vehicles winter ready. Organizing Habit #17 is to make it a habit to seasonally care and prepare your vehicles. Now is the time to add some winter necessities into the trunk of your car, such as an ice scraper, gloves, a small shovel, chains, jumper cables, boots and in case you get stuck for long periods of time; a blanket, fresh water, power bars, and the all important--TP.

10 Strategies for Avoiding Holiday Stress

1. List everyone you want to give a gift to and decide your budget for each person.
2. Get a VISA debit card with a limit of your gift budget. Once it is empty your shopping is over.
3. Or, make an agreement with those on your gift list to eliminate that practice this year or donate your time, money or possessions to a charity.
4. List all of your holiday activities.
5. Eliminate the activities that are in your “should” category. If it is too difficult to decide, narrow it down to each family member can pick one and only one activity that is most important to them.
6. Write down your new and improved list of activities, traditions and gift list.
7. This list is what you will now use to create your timeline for the rest of the month.
8. On your family calendar write down when you are going to do each activity and any other days necessary to complete the activity. For example, gift making can involve more than one day to buy materials, make gifts, wrap gifts, and mail or delivery gifts.…

What is your organizing WOW factor?

Recently, I have researched many TV segments featuring Professional Organizers sharing their ways of organizing various areas of one’s home, business and lives. Additionally, I have read many of the latest books written by Professional Organizers explaining their methods for organizing. Lastly, I have perused numerous Professional Organizers websites from newbies to veterans.

What has struck me is...nothing! There is nothing revolutionary being said. No WOW factor. I feel like I have heard it all and seen it all when comes to “how to” organize. If I feel that way, I wonder, does the public at large feel that way too?

Which brings me to my point of this blog post…what is the organizing WOW factor for you? What makes you say, “WOW I never thought of that before!” or “WOW I think that might really help me to get organized!”

I want to hear from you whether you are a Professional Organizer, a person in need of organizing, someone who has always been organized, or someone who has recen…

Giving you

Two tiny words that aren't spoken enough. So with Thanksgiving hours away, I want to say thanks to you for being a loyal reader, for leaving your inspiring comments, and for always coming back for more. Thank you to Stefan for being the best husband, partner in life, and webmaster I could ever hope for. Your faith in me is my biggest support. Thank you to my children Alex and Hannah for being the easiest children (teenagers) a parent could dream of. You bring me joy and renewed insight to life every day. Thank you to my family and friends, for your love, acts of random kindness, tears, hugs, smiles, wisdom, shoulder to lean on, honesty, and friendship. You shape who I am. Thank you to my clients, for trusting me with your stuff and your heart. Thank you to my training participants who teach me more than they could ever realize and for keeping my saw [razor] sharp!

Who are you thanking today? Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Random thoughts from the shower...

I often have some of my most brilliant ideas while in the shower. Must be the white noise factor. The thoughts I share with you in my "Random thoughts from the shower" blogs may or may not relate to organizing.

Today's thought relates to my business of organizing and general thoughts about the state of the global economy and is, "Who makes money and profits from a recession?" I'm sure there is a global economic intellectual response to this question (and I would love to hear it), but I don't have it. My initial response to this question is, "Psychiatrists and pharmaceutical companies treating vast amounts of patients who are severely depressed from the fallout of the recession profit."

What do you think? Who makes money and profits from a recession?

What is your clutter costing you?

We are experiencing very challenging economic times. Maybe it’s time to think about what your clutter or lack of organization are costingyou and what you can save by becoming clutter free and creating habits to maintain organization.

Clutter is costing you—time, space, money, energy and sometimes relationships:
The time it takes you to find what you are looking for because of the clutter. If you own your business, this can cost you in terms of lost revenue because you are spending time looking for something instead of focusing on your business.The space you could create for what is truly important to you if it were not for all the clutter. What are you dreaming of? What is your clutter getting in the way of you achieving?The money you spend paying for duplicate items because you can’t find what you are looking for—or—you forgot you already own. Are you searching for those holiday gifts you bought people earlier this year or did you forget you have them squirreled away…somewhere?The ener…

Inspiration Wednesday

I love the holidays. I don't love shopping the malls! If you do, then don't forget about Black Friday--the Friday after Thanksgiving. For retailers it signals the start of holiday shopping. Ever wonder how Black Friday began? In 1939 President Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving up a week to extend the shopping season to help retail businesses. It was first called Black Friday in the 1960s and the term comes from the accounting practice of using red ink for losses and black ink for profits. To find the Black Friday bargains go to and
As for me, I'm avoiding the malls and going online. I'm scouting out what I want now at and and then come Cyber Monday (the Monday following Black Friday, this year December 1st) I'll be hitting cyberspace!
Happy Holidaze!

Organizing Habit #16

Delegating tasks can help you achieve everything on your list each day. Prioritize your list, and delegate tasks that you personally do not have time to do, like vacuuming, picking up a child from practice, or running a load of laundry. Do&Delegate.list comes with carbon copy delegation notes, to help you get those three tasks off your to do list, and much more!


If balancing your checkbook is throwing off your equilibrium the Receipt Catcher is here to help keep you steady.

Sized to fit in your desk, glove compartment, or the junk drawer in the kitchen, the Receipt Catcher from Buttoned Up has tabbed sections to keep receipts for groceries, clothes, gifts, and more at your fingertips. The magnetic closure also gives you the option to toss receipts in the main compartment to sort at a later date.

Keep one at work for reimbursable expenses, one at home for household budgeting, and one in the car to take the hassle out of store returns.

Order from

Organizing Habit #15

You have 15 minutes... GO! Use this time to: clear our your voicemail box, put 20 pictures in a photo album, run the trash relay, return an important call, toss the spoiled food in your refrigerator, clean out a bathroom drawer, sort the mail, wrap a gift, fill out a form, make a grocery list, or flip through your calendar and plan for the upcoming week.
If you take care of a task this size every time you have 15 free minutes, you will be organized and clutter free in a very short time.


Turn your stacks into tasks with No. 2 Task Clips. Labeled To Do, To File, To Send and To Read, these powder-coated metal clips with chrome-plated arms will help you sort through your in box, your mail box and even that pile of paperwork on the edge of your desk you’ve been trying to ignore. Flip an arm up and use Task Clips to hang lists on bulletin boards or hooks. I use mine to label my desk hutch cubbies.

Sold in sets of 8 identical clips from See Jane Work. Make great stocking stuffers!


I'm sure everyone is blogging about the election results today. You won't find that here. I'm blogging about how to save money for the upcoming holidays. I'm going to share with you what I do every November and December to save money so I have a little extra for gift giving and purge my pantry and freezer at the same time.

My secret...I prepare meals ONLY from what I have in my freezer and pantry as of November 1st. The only groceries I purchase are fresh produce, dairy and bread. This year is going to be a stretch because November 1st snuck up on me unawares. Usually, I will try to stockpile extra pasta, spaghetti sauces and beans for the pantry and meat, poultry and seafood for the freezer...but, I didn't. So, I'm going to have to be extra creative. Fortunately, I'm on a diet (with great results--25 pounds lost in 12 weeks!) that requires "their" food for the most part so I only have three people to prepare meals for.

What's your secret to sa…

Organizing Habit #14

Stay in touch with people you care about. Stay close to the ones you love by setting aside a half hour on a Saturday afternoon to talk and catch up with friends and family. Whether it is a call to your parents, a card to your niece or an email to a close friend far away, every gesture will be appreciated without taking up the whole day.


If you keep everything you’re working on out on your desk, you’ll drown in a sea of paperwork, but if you put it away, you have a sinking feeling you might just forget it.

These durable, re-usable polypropylene envelopes from See Jane Work and Office Depot keep files and documents neatly together, and clearly visible.
Office Solution: Use Project Envelopes to color code projects, or as a handy way to prioritize inter-office mail. Use clear for ‘Information Only’ documents and purple for ‘Read and File’ documents. I have a project envelope for each client I am currently working with to keep all related information in one easy to find place.
Home Solution: More durable and protective than flimsy paper folders, Project Envelopes are perfect for keeping homework and reports together, sending notes to the teacher, or for keeping flyers, newsletters, and reminders in view. I use them to keep all the bills I need to pay in one place.


I have been told by many that I am the most organized person they have ever met. Those who truly know me say I never ever procrastinate on anything. The second statement was recently put to the ultimate test. I was informed that I needed to have a biopsy. While this threw me into an emotional tailspin I discovered that even if it was bad news waiting for me I couldn't put this off. I scheduled the biopsy for the very next morning.

The surgeon met with me before the procedure and he said, "I admire you for not procrastinating on this, most people would put it off." My reply was, "I never procrastinate on anything, I don't know why, but I just don't." But, it caused me to think just why don't I procrastinate when it is so easy for others to.

My answer, a bit surprising, was, "I don't procrastinate because I want to be available to the unknown around the corner that I might miss out on because of something I procrastinated on." I…

Organizing Habit #13

No more catalogs!!! If you are receiving junk mail and worry that in addition tot the annoyance, it is harming the environment, then do your part and stop the junk mail. Send a letter and $1.00 to the address below to get of the junk mail list, include your request to "Activate The Preference Service" and put it in the mail. Click here for a sample letter or your can also register online.

Mail Preference Center Direct Marketing Association P.O. Box 643 Carmel, NY 15012-0643


You have three kids all at the same school and each of them came home last week with a flyer asking for donations of copy paper and ink for the printer. It's like telemarketers asking you to pay their phone bill.

While you probably can't stop the onslaught of letters, flyers, menus, schedules, trip slips and rosters, you can manage it with the helpful School.files expanding filefrom Buttoned Up.

With compartments for up to three children you can sort out the stuff you need to keep, the stuff you need to return, and the stuff you need to just toss in the recycling bin. Have more than three children? Buy multiples!


Create a FUN and ORGANIZED Work Space for YOU
While perusing blogs I came across the article A Home Office That Works Overtime on the Real Simple website. This article depicts what you will experience working with a Professional Organizer to create an organized work space that works for you.

But, that's not the only reason I'm sharing this article with you. I was so inspired by this article because of the desk they chose (above). It's from Ikea. The moment I saw it I had to have it to complete my work space. Since it is my birthday month, I decided it was what I wanted for my birthday.

My husband and I share a U-shape desk and what I wanted was a complete U for myself--that extra space away from my computer to write, dream, and work on projects. This desk is the perfect solution to what I wanted. Here is my side of the U-shape shared desk with my new work table desk from Ikea. I love it! Notice it has bookshelf legs. They are one option you can chose other bases with drawers…


Create an effective work area.
Create a pleasant, well-equipped work area. Whether it's a nook, cranny or a large office, your work area should be conducive to performing your daily work. It should contain all necessary supplies and equipment within arms reach or in easily accessible areas.


A home on my street slid down the hill. Yes, you are reading this correctly. Very surreal. This unseemingly act caused me to [finally] take action and assemble our family's vital records into one notebook and digitally. I have this information organized--of course I do--but, not all in one place or digitally. Now, with the help of the Life.doc Organizing Notebook (available from See Jane Work) I will. What I find most valuable about this product is the information can be keyed in and printed out on the forms provided in the kit AND you can save the information digitally--all in one place. Tip: Send a digital copy to a friend or relative in another geographical location for safekeeping.


If you have not seen this video, take 20 minutes to watch it (listen carefully, and share it with your kids, family, friends, etc...). It has caused me to pause and think twice before purchasing new stuff and before I discard my stuff I no longer need or want.


Declutter your desk.
A clutter-free desk erases unnecessary distractions and helps keep your mind on tasks that need immediate attention.

Keep only the items on your desk that relate to your current projects.


Do you [or does someone in your household] dump the mail on the kitchen counter and refuse to walk it to your home office or household desk? Does this lead to late payments and missed invitations, not mention a huge pile of paper on your kitchen counter and STRESS?

If you can’t break the habit of cluttering your countertop, then set up a mail sorting system in the kitchen to take care of the mail and other household paperwork. The Mail Sorter from See Jane Work has slots labeled Notice Me, Respond to Me, Read Me, and Pay Me. You can quickly categorize and prioritize bills, letters, bank statements and more. Side compartments are sized to hold magazines and catalogs.

Designate one day a week for bill paying, scheduling, and correspondence and you won’t be stressing over an unpaid bill or overlooked obligation again! Be sure to add other tools to help you with your mail sorting and bill paying activities; a recycling bin, garbage can, stamps, a supply of envelopes, address labels, pens, …


In response to my question, “Do you want to keep this?” My clients often respond with, “I might need it someday.” I was recently decluttering my home office [yes, even professional organizers need to do this on occasion] and I came across my NAPO conference books. I thought to myself, “Why am I keeping these”. My response was shocking, “I might need them someday.” This response caused me to chuckle and to further reflect on why I might need them someday. My response was, “For inspiration working with a client or for my professional organizer training program.” Hmmm, would I really think to refer to these conference books for those reasons?

I can now hear my conference buddies gasping. Some are gasping because they are thinking, “Why on earth would you keep those—just get rid of them!” Others are gasping because they are thinking, “How could you possible get rid of these volumes of knowledge and fond memories.” Both thoughts require rationalization and realistic expectations to interve…


Develop false deadlines - If you have a deadline to meet, record a false deadline four days earlier. You'll eliminate the last-minute frenzy to complete the project because you'll have given yourself a cushion of time.

Onboard the Online Social Networking Train aka My Blog Launch

I recently attended a NAPO Oregon membership meeting where my colleague Brandie Kajino presented tons of information on the subject of online social networking. I was dazed by all she shared, but I decided then and there it was time for me to jump onboard the online social networking train or I was going to be left seriously behind!

My first step in online social networking is—My Blog—officially launched with this posting. I’m excited to enter this new arena of communication and look forward to sharing with you my organizing ideas, tips, inspiration and more.

Some days you may want a quick tip and other days you may need some thought provoking inspiration. I hope to provide you with a full range of information.

I want to learn from you too. Please respond to a post when you are inspired to or when I pose a question.

This will be a work in process and I’m looking forward to the journey. Come join me!


SET TIME LIMITS - If you have to work late or during the weekend, set time limits for yourself. Whether you work for two or four hours, stop working at the end of that time and enjoy the rest of the evening or weekend.

Setting time limits can also encourage you to start a task you have been putting off. I don't particularly like to weed. So I set a timer for 15 minutes. When the timer goes off I usually keep on weeding. It's the getting started and thinking it will take too much time that often prevents us from starting an undesirable task.


MAKE APPOINTMENTS FOR YOU - Make at least one screened appointment with yourself each day. Screened time is quiet, uninterrupted time allowing you to concentrate on a project or catch up on your reading.


CONSOLIDATE SIMILAR ACTIVITIES - Be mindful of your time. Instead of starting and stopping at different levels of activity, you'll save time by making all of your outgoing telephone calls together, taking care of all your errands at once, etc.


SET DEADLINES - Setting a deadline encourages you to work towards it. Set a definite date and time. Saying, 'When I get a chance' or 'Sometime in the near future' is deferring a decision.


PRIORITIZING YOUR TO DO'S - The last two tips have led you to this week's tip--Prioritizing Your To Do's. I often hear people say, "I make a to-do list, but I never seem to get anything done." If you don't plan when you are going to do your tasks they won't get done, they will just stay on a list. Schedule your tasks into your calendar just like an appointment. Now you have a plan, a dedicated time, to complete each task.


DEFINING YOUR ROLES - Last week's tip was determine your goals. Goals determined by your roles. For example my roles are; spouse, mother, business owner, teacher, friend, self (not necessarily in that order). For each role determine your goals. For each goal, each week, determine the tasks that will lead you to completion of each goal. Look for Tip of the Week #3 explaining how to pull it all together to get things done that are purposeful to you.


DETERMINE YOUR GOAL - Before you organize anything, determine your goal and vision for the space. If you don't know where you're going, how will you ever get there? Set mini-goals and reward yourself for successes.