A day in the life of Kacy: How it all comes together, where it doesn't, my secret sauce, and the most fun job I've ever had

I'm an organizer so I blog about organizing and anything that can be related back to organizing.  I never stray: never assuming readers want to know what's in my fridge or medicine cabinet. I like to keep my platform pure and stick to what I know best. I was both nervous and excited when given an open invitation to write on the inner-workings of my business for my friend Racheal Cook'sblog tour.  I had my newsletter readers vote though on what they wanted to read and "A day in the life" was the clear winner.  This is a very transparent account not just of how my days flow, but where I know there's room for improvement. First, please join the blog tour here to read all 30 posts from 30 seasoned women business owners. Read yesterday's post from Cerries Mooney here and Jen Louden will post tomorrow here.

Evernote-Camera-Roll-20150426-170534-266x300.jpg

Rise n Shine:

I've alway said, and am very serious about it: one of the best things about self-employment is sleeping in. I wish I was an early riser, but am not (yet). My alarm usually goes off at about 7:30am or 8am. 10 out of 10 mornings, I snooze it until my feet hit the ground at 8:00am or 8:30am. Every morning I tell myself tomorrow will be different.  It never is. Sometimes I beat myself up about it, comparing myself to the Forbes Magazine cover models who claim their secret sauce is a 5am alarm.  I'm learning though to just relish in the fact that I have a career that allows me the luxury of 8-9 hours of sleep!  If it's a rare morning where I have to arrive somewhere early, I have no problem waking much earlier.

Meditate first, no matter what:

If the alarm doesn't get me, it's the devastatingly handsome Bengal cat, Zucca, screaming in my face that does.  Right after feeding Zucca, I meditate for 20 minutes before checking email or any social media.  I nail this essential routine about 4 out of 5 weekdays.  I learned Transcendental Meditation a few years ago.  T.M. is a simple meditation technique that is done twice a day for 20 minutes.  I've slipped on the twice/day part (and yes, I do notice a difference), but am still quite good about getting in at least a morning meditation.  If that doesn't happen, I make sure to meditate early evening.  It settles everything in me, feeling like a shower for the brain. My clients are essentially hiring me to deliver a calmness to their lives.  It's important to me that I walk the walk and have a well from which to draw.  It's this early mediation that keeps me truly relaxed and centered in the face of the chaos I hang out in every day!

FullSizeRender-287x300.jpg

Breakfast: I'm worthless if I'm hungry and I don't always have the luxury (or discipline) of lunch.  I'd rather have a wholesome, hearty breakfast and skip lunch, then skip breakfast and have a quick, unhealthy lunch on the go. Most mornings I make a big plate of eggs, greens and toast*. I'm not a coffee drinker because who needs coffee when the world has chai?!  A close Indian friend of mine taught me her family's chai recipe from scratch, so if I have time, I brew a pot of chai from fresh ingredients and a little treasure box of loose tea and spices.  That piping hot homemade cup is one of life's greatest pleasures. *It wouldn't be fair for me to not disclose that sometimes the first words out of my boyfriend's mouth in the morning are "how would you like your eggs?" I lucked out.

This is where the days become much less routine:

No-client zones: I never work Monday mornings or Friday afternoons. These are golden hours where I prep for the week and clean up emails from the week.  Monday mornings I have a Skype call with my assistant in Portugal.  These blocks of time are really just an email scramble - albeit a very productive one! I take care of the "Oh s#*t, I can't believe I haven't written them back yet!" emails.

Getting around in DC:

I live in Silver Spring, MD right on the Washington, DC line. Living inside the Beltway means that it can take me anywhere from 25min to an hour + to work with a client in VA. It may take 15 minutes to get to a DC client, and 45+ minutes to drive home. I have a unique schedule, but not a unique problem of having to schedule all activities around our legendary traffic.  It's a blessing when I have clients within a 5 mile radius!

Evernote-Camera-Roll-20150426-1705341-300x294.jpg

The ideal day: Driving out to the Shenandoah's, hiking, and unpacking a picnic at a winery. Oh, wait, I have a business to run. (This happened twice last week though when I stumbled across a blissful 5-day weekend…..a NYC trip fell through.)

I typically work with clients in 3 hour blocks.  I'm truly appreciative to be self-employed and busy - certainly a problem to have.  Hours spent with clients are my favorite part of the week. Lately I've been averaging 5-6 clients per week. I start anywhere from 9:00 am to 3:00pm.

An ideal day for me is one of these:

  • Working 9:30am - 12:30pm and work from home in the afternoon.
  • Going to yoga in the morning, having lunch at home, and working 2:00pm - 5:00pm.

Some version of this happens about twice/week.  I practice Ashtanga yoga on average 3x/week - twice on weekends and once during the week.  If I could just wake up earlier (see above), I could work yoga in 4-5x!

The rare "light" day: If I have no clients on the calendar, I catch up on my business and/or catch up on cleaning my house.  It's no surprise that I secretly love housekeeping…. so much so that it is my procrastination tool of choice. Can't think of what to title my newsletter? Let's dust the tables!  Stuck on how to craft that email I've been putting off?  Let's scrub the stovetop!  Thanks to my chores list though, I'm good at keeping this to a minimum, but it still happens. I cannot focus in a cluttered space.  Forget about sitting down to work if the sink isn't empty.

I sometimes get more done on days when I see a client than on days that are wide open. Thanks to the Pomodoro Technique and some very crafty to-do lists, I work very efficiently with limited blocks of time.  I'd like to be better at dividing work-at-home days into reactive work (responding to emails) vs. creative work (writing, planning, recording videos, etc.)  "Light" days sometimes feel like my busiest, with me realizing I'm still in my pjs at 5pm but have just moved mountains...

The full day:

Hours spent with clients are my favorite part of the week.
Hours spent with clients are my favorite part of the week.

I have the energy to work with two clients per day, but this requires two things: 1. A solid hour and a half in-between clients. 2. A delicious dinner and a margarita waiting for me at the end. Forget about blogging or responding to emails on these days. I can only pull this off 2 days/week max.  If I felt like client #2 was receiving a compromised service in any way, I wouldn't do it. Last week I worked 10:30am - 1:30pm and 3:00pm - 6:00pm.  Client #2 benefitted from an energized organizer fueled by her favorite lunch: an Indian buffet.  I start getting the shakes if I don't park myself in front of a bottomless vat of chicken tikka masala at least once per week.  That, literally, is my secret sauce.

Dinner: I eat around 7:00pm or 8:00pm. After finishing with my client(s) I usually have a good hour or two to work before I meet up with my boyfriend, a friend, or my family for dinner. I eat out more than I'd like to, but certainly cook more at home in the winter.

Late night: I used to work and email until midnight or 1:00am.  I hit a wall with that years ago though. I know I get fuzzy by 9pm, so plan accordingly, but still sometimes find myself getting the inbox down as late as 11:00pm.  My newsletter goes out on Wednesdays, so, most Tuesday nights I'm finishing up the posts so my assistant in Portugal can program it overnight.  Writing my newsletters and posts is actually quite enjoyable, I just wish I finished it up about 24 hours earlier.  I'm very firm about my rule of no Facebook after 10:00pm!  I read for about 15 minutes in bed before lights out at midnight.  Wish that were closer to 11:00pm.

The truth: Everything above is true, but for it to read even truer, every other sentence should read "Reply to emails." For every billable hour, I probably work five hours behind the scenes. I feel like I spend my life on email and I'm not sure how to change this.

I'm a very good organizer and get a tremendous amount done to reach those who need me the most, but the emails run me down.  The days I throw my hands up and don't respond to emails, it piles up and my heart sinks. Right now I have 144 emails in my inbox, which is about 124 above my comfort zone.  I just spent a weekend enjoying myself: yoga, plant shopping, dinner out, yoga, and brunch, but now am looking at a Sunday night of getting that number down to 75 if I'm lucky.

I's a sunny 60 degree Sunday afternoon and I just sent my boyfriend home. He's been waiting to hike with me all day but I still have work to do even though I'm a better time manager than I've ever been.  Also, in the past year I have learned to delegate. I'd like to delegate more and manage time better on a macro scale. I cross a lot off my list day-to-day, but around the next bend will be setting bigger project goals and setting aside days to execute them.  When I've done this, I've shocked myself at how quickly I can produce. I've pulled a lot off in the last few months and am now confident that with short deadlines I can complete anything.

I started my organizing business in 2001.  Many of the last 14 years were spent wanting so badly to "be busy," but I just didn't know what that was and admittedly didn't always have the motivation to do it when the path was clear.  I've sent out countless notes in bottles and now that they're floating back to me in the form of magnificent professional opportunities, I'm working my tail off.

It feels like every week something rolls in that just knocks the socks off of the people close to me. (I don't share a ton on social media, so I have a lot brewing that only those close to me hear about).  My good friend Lauren Fritsch also wrote an article as part of this blog tour: More Than Enough. In it she talks about feeling like she hasn't accomplished enough even though she has recently achieved so many of the specific goals she set years ago. I relate. I sometimes feel like I'm making up for lost time. I recently told my ever-patient boyfriend, "To some extent this will probably never end. I'll reach a goal and want more because I'm learning that it's about the thrill of the ride."

I get that building a business takes work.  I'm fortunate to have found work I love at age 21 in 2001.  I am doing my best and am starting to feel very proud of myself.  A large percentage of my to-do lists are tasks I enjoy. I know I'll hit my stride with better delegating of everything else.  If emailing at midnight every now and again is the worst of my troubles, then I'm very blessed.  It's good to be Kacy Paide.

So, it is a beautiful day for hiking, but it's also a beautiful day for sitting on my couch with my windows open and blogging about doing the work I love.  This past weekend someone asked me: "What is the most fun job you've ever had?"  The answer was easy: "This one."

Thank you for reading. Enough about me!  Did anything surprise you in this post?  What routines do you have in place that help you to protect your personal time?  Is there anything else you'd like to know about how I run my business?  Like this departure from organizing advice? Please share in the comments!  I'll do my best to answer questions in future posts if I can't fully answer in comments.

2 New Additions to the Filing Hall of Shame

Please help me in welcoming two new additions to the Inspired Office Filing Hall of Shame!  You can imagine my excitement when my client and I unearthed these two gems from a filing system that hadn't been purged in at least 5 years.  Consider these to be examples of how not to label a folder!  Why exactly?  They're just glorified piles, telling us nothing specific about the contents. The good news is that anything in these folders self-expires after even just a short amount of time.  We had a good chuckle and tossed their mysterious contents in a matter of minutes.  Don't know where to start purging your own files?  Hunt and peck through your office for any vaguely titled folders and envelopes.  Trust me, you can blindly toss the contents.  If they once were "important" or required "action," their ship has sailed and you're surely onto bigger and better things. Need more examples of unhelpful labels?  Check out the original Filing Hall of Shame here! Do you have folders worthy of the Inspired Office Hall of Shame?  Please share!  Email me pics and you too could be a member of the esteemed club of folks who are swiftly moving towards a filing system worthy of the Inspired Office Hall of FAME!  This is all in good fun.  My clients all know that their folders are lovingly showcased here and have graciously offered to serve as examples!

IMG_8001-280x300.jpeg
IMG_8003-300x287.jpeg

A Clever Little Product To Organize Your To-Do's

This video is a follow up to my previous post An Odd Office Organizing Product & Proof That it Works. I've used it many times since, and shot this short video in Alabama last week  to give you a tour of my client's pockets, what they are labeled, and exactly how they are helping to zap miscellaneous stashes and undone to-do lists.  I was coming down with a cold, so forgive my quiet little voice!  Every word was a struggle, but I powered through in the name of organizing!

Purchase your pocket folder here.

What categories would you put in a pocket folder?  Would you keep yours in one place or carry it with you between work and home?  Is this a solution you could see yourself using? Please share in the comments below!

How To Dismantle (And Love Again) A Beloved Collection

  Once upon a time in crawl space sat a treasure box.  Well, a treasure box disguised as a Tupperware bin.  Up until last weekend, it housed more than thirty batik fabric pieces I collected during my trips to Bali, Indonesia - last trip being in 2002.  I consider them to be some of the most beautiful things I own, attached to so many beautiful memories.  I bought them with intentions of cutting them up into so many projects, but there they sat, eternally folded, lonely, and probably missing Bali too.  Recently, I asked myself, “How special is an object if it never sees the light of day?”

A few years back I turned my most beloved antique one into two pillowcases that I now sleep on every night.  This is the one that I would have liked to preserve as if it were the Constitution in the Archives.  It was the softest piece of cotton I’ve ever touched and begged so many questions about who wore it.  It’s so much happier under my head though, and I’m so much happier being reminded of my trips every time I go to bed.  The rest remained boxed tight in the dark.

Many of you know I’ve been on my own personal decluttering bender lately.  First it was the Domino Magazine collection, then it was my only bookcase, and this recent attack was on this fabric collection.  No one is safe here at Planet Kacy.  You should see what I just did to my cook books….  So there the remaining thirty some batiks sat.

Even though I have enough storage space, my inner organizer is always nagging me to keep it as empty as possible.  Being your own professional organizer comes with a lot of chatter upstairs.  She constantly nags, “If it’s stored, why do you need it?  If you never see it, why is it there?  Yes you have beautiful things tucked away, but aren’t your favorite things already out?”  So a few weekends ago I gave in and brought out that box.

Like most organizing projects, parts were harder than I thought and parts were easier than I thought:

Batik sorting
Batik sorting

The hard parts:

-       The beginning.

-       All of the “But this one is so beautiful!” moments.

-       Remembering details about purchasing each and every one.

-       Deciding which first few pieces would go.

The easy parts:

Image
Image

- Deciding which ones would go (these on the right) after getting my sea legs with letting go of the first few.

- Pretty containerizing at the very end for the pieces I kept.  I repurposed a stray jumbo apothecary jar.

- Coming up with some rules.  Let it go if it’s:

- Machine made (as opposed to hand-dyed).

- Pre-fabricated for a piece of furniture I don’t own (ie: a square tablecloth)

- Was a gift and I’m only keeping it because it’s a gift.  I cherished that gift long enough, right?  Nobody said we have to keep gifts forever.

Image 1
Image 1

So in the end, I was left with a mostly empty box, a beautiful one-of-a-kind display, and ten batiks to sell.  I can enjoy these pieces instead of bemoan the space they take up.

What are you “hoarding” that is too special to use?  Is it note cards you picked up overseas?  Is it a pen that was gifted to you?  Is it a collection from your travels that you thought too beautiful to display in your office?  Do you have a collection in mind that you can dismantle, condense, and finally start enjoying?  Please share in the comments!

This Might Upset Book Lovers

I got rid of my only bookshelf. There, I said it. I didn't get rid of all my books, but I did get rid of my one and only bookshelf. I'm going to tell you why and I'm going to tell you how. I'm also going to share with you what I kept and why. The Why: When I told my friend about this she said, "Why? Books are wonderful!" My new bookshelf-independent lifestyle isn't a commentary on books per se, but rather a reflection on living only with things that are indeed wonderful. My answer to her: "Well, the books I donated weren't that wonderful." I get it - I know countless folks who would rather go without indoor plumbing than go without books. I'm not saying that's wrong, I'm just not one of those people. Ever since buying a Kindle last year, I actually read more than ever. I'm a slow reader, so reading a book twice has little appeal. During this process, I learned something about myself: books to me have always been resources or decoration. When a resource though hasn't been referred to in years and the decoration just blends into the background with time, what good is it? I've also come to realize that I value empty space above most objects.

The How: Last Sunday I came home from a weekend on the Chesapeake Bay with friends and family. I was un-showered and hungry, but all I could do was make a beeline to the bookcase. Once I make up my mind to get rid of something it has to happen immediately - even before food and personal hygiene! I was literally obsessed with the idea. Friends, this was NOT easy. Here's the breakdown:

1. I started my own organizing project like I do all others - with the low-hanging fruit. I took from the shelf the books that I knew I didn't want to keep. These were the easy decisions, and there weren't as many of those as I expected.

1
1

2. Realizing that in order to make this happen, every book must come down, I took every book down. A semblance of piles formed. A box appeared. Delusional aspirations of only keeping what would fit in one box surfaced. I blame that more on the hunger than the quest for minimalism.

2
2

3. Better, smarter piles began to take shape. The four piles you see below are the books I kept: - Books to keep on shelf in living room. These include some sentimental gifts (yes, I do keep some of those!), 3 organizing books, an Estonian travel guide I'll actually use, coffee table books that I actually look at & my favorite book ever, "Illusions" by Richard Bach. - Bali and Indonesia books to store with boxed Bali memorabilia. (I studied abroad there in 2000 - um, yeah, great decision!) Don't shed any tears; I have plenty of teak furniture and Indonesian art that are much bolder reminders of my time spent there. - Feng Shui books to store with Feng Shui notebooks. In my early twenties I took 5 feng shui courses. I used to do feng shui consultations. Since I don't do this now, the books don't need to be front and center in my life.

3
3

4. I bagged up the books to donate. These included great books that I read that I'll never read again, freebies from networking events, Feng Shui books that were too basic (I kept the rare & advanced ones), and even an autographed book that wasn't worth keeping just because it was autographed.

4
4

5. Here's how I displayed the keepers!

5
5

With an empty corner where there once was a tall sexy designer bookcase, I do feel much lighter. I have no regrets. Looking at my books now, I know that each one is special and truly chosen by the person I am today. The smaller collection feels rich, curated, and meaningful. Decide for yourself what collection of yours no longer has the value it once did. For me it was books. For you it might be clothing, decorations, art, or furniture. Whatever it is, do whatever it takes to feel lighter, because it's a wonderful feeling that money can't buy.

Do you have a collection that's weighing you down? Have you ever let go of a collection? How do you feel about books? Do you think I'm nuts for doing this?! Do you think you're ready to look at your things with a new set of eyes now? I want to hear your thoughts. Please share!