Thursday, May 31, 2012, 12:58 PM
I've just spent the last 90 minutes at my desk, and while it was not much fun, I feel much, much better. I've completed some tasks that have languished on my desk for far too long, and I have captured all of my outstanding to-dos in a comprehensive list.

Clients always want to know the secret to handling all of the paperwork (bills, statements, forms, etc.) AND their many tasks, but they don't always like my answer: DESK TIME. It sounds ridiculously simple, but if you don't carve out time in your schedule to sit down and process your paper and tasks, you will fall behind and feel out of control. Where you sit can, of course, vary. Some people have traditional desk setups, while others have more of a mobile work style. Similarly, when you carve out this time needs to be a personal decision. Some will need a shorter, daily time slot, while others may prefer a once weekly schedule. The trick is to pick a schedue and PUT IT IN YOUR CALENDAR, AS IF IT WERE A DOCTOR'S APPOINTMENT.

Before you sit down, you may want to set up a shredding bag and a recycling bag. Once you're ready, here are some strategies that may help:

1) Sort your paper into the following categories: shredding, recycling, bills, filing, actionable. You'll need to designate a place for bills and clean out your files if they're jammed.
2) Capture your tasks in a list. This includes the actionable items you just found while sorting. You can then prioritize your list. One helpful tip: if you can do it in 5 minutes or less, do it on the spot.
3) Start with the most urgent tasks, and complete what you can during the allotted time.

I'm sure I'll have more to say about this, so stay tuned :)

[ add comment ]   |  permalink
Tuesday, September 6, 2011, 09:13 AM
I hope that all of you who are reading this survived the hurricane intact, but I think that's wishful thinking, at least where I live. I walked around my neighborhood yesterday and it was really sobering to see the enormous piles of destroyed carpets, couches, trees, and other belongings waiting at the curb for pickup. I'm truly sorry for everyone who suffered losses during the storm. My husband got hold of a generator and saved our basement--I'm very grateful.

What was interesting when I was walking around, and in various conversations I've had, were the comments people made about their possessions. More than a few people told me they while the storm was devastating they were relieved that it forced them to throw away long forgotten, useless items that were now waterlogged. These folks finally got rid of stuffed animals and plastic toys their kids used and abandoned years ago. Others told me about books they had to discard. Books are very hard for people to let go of, but one friend told me the books she threw away were nice, but basically sat in her basement and were never reread.

Again, this is not to say that people were not upset about the expensive carpeting and furniture--they were, and rightly so. It's that the experience forced them to do what I do with clients during an organizing session--separating out what's important and meaningful from what's not.

A good friend said it best: "My newly finished basement was destroyed, but my parents home was untouched. I'll gladly take my basement flooding in exchange for their safety".

[ 1 comment ] ( 809 views )   |  permalink
One word: PAPER!! 
Thursday, November 18, 2010, 08:57 PM
It just struck me that I've been writing this blog since May, 2006 and I've never mentioned paper!! How could this be?! Paper is, hands down, the most common and most upsetting problem my clients face. The only thought I have is that the topic is so BIG that I didn't think I could even begin to tackle it in one small blog entry. So, I'll just touch on a few points.

Does this sound familiar? You stack up papers on every imaginable flat surface. One day you realize you're going to have company, so you panick and throw the papers into a box or laundry basket and shove them into a guest room. This has to be one of the most commone situations I run into. But why does the paper stack up to begin with, and how can you stop it from accumulating?

I always tell my clients to stop the flow from the point of entry: the mailbox/front door. Here are some quick tips:

1) Enter the house and put down your belongings before getting the mail. Then, take a deep breath.
2) Immediately throw all junk mail into your recycling bin.
3) Place all bills in a designated bill area.
4) Separate out all magazines. Be careful here. How many is too many? How long should they hang around before you toss them? This may be another whole blog entry!
5) Scan all catalogs as fast as possible. If you're not planning on making a purchase, toss them in the recycling bin. Even better, call and ask NOT to receive them.
6) Separate out all calendar items and get them on your calendar as fast as possible. If you don't need to hang on to the invitation, flyer, etc.--DON'T.
7) Here's the most important category of all: the "ACTIONABLE ITEMS". Separate out anything that you need to act on--that's anything that requires a phone call, decision, etc. and place those on your desk. Make sure to build time into your decision to complete these tasks.

I'm only scratching the surface here, folks. In fact, mail is only one of several categories of paper. I'll have to continue in another entry...

[ add comment ]   |  permalink
Thursday, September 30, 2010, 08:55 AM
Once again, I seem to be hitting on a rash of clients who are preparing to move. If you read my previous blog entry on moving or pretending to move, you know that the process can do wonders for stalled decluttering projects! Among the areas that finally get some much-needed attention are the dreaded storage areas: the basement, attic & garage.

Here are some items I found during some recent basement decluttering/packing jobs: never-used wedding china and crystal, boxes and boxes of photographs, high school and college memorabilia, and discarded small appliances, gifts, and toys. These basements were crowded, dirty, and unappealing spaces, but they all had the potential to become really nice, usable spaces. Why does it take a move to get us into action? Because these spaces are out of sight and we have busy schedules. But, if you can spare the time to tackle them, you can literally add rooms to your house. Think about the items I've listed above and how you would handle the task of reducing them. It's not easy, but the payoff is worth it.

Moving on to the attic. Lots of people store clothing in this area. That's fine if you're storing out of season clothing, but not ok if you're storing clothing that's 20 years old or 3 sizes too small! For clients with children, this is where old cribs, strollers, etc. go to die. If you no longer need these items, bring them to a donation site if they're still in good condition.

Finally--the garage. Take a good look at how many shovels, rakes, and other gardening tools you have. Organize and store all chemicals. Donate abandoned tricycles, and toss old, abused outdoor toys.

These areas of the home can be tough to organize, but it's a shame to clog them with unwanted items. Do it BEFORE you move, so you can enjoy the space!!

[ add comment ]   |  permalink
Read About My Business and Philosophies in "The Jewish State"! 
Wednesday, May 19, 2010, 04:00 PM

[ 1 comment ] ( 961 views )   |  permalink