This week my digital organizing advice appeared in a very comprehensive post on MarthaStewart.com: 10 Housekeeping Tips to Declutter Your Digital Life. As I was compiling all of my ideas for the article, I wondered why I had never written a post like this for my own blog! Here you’ll learn how to:Read More
I’m so excited to have been invited back to the NAPO-SFBA annual conference this fall as the pre-conference workshop leader. In three hours you’ll learn how to:
- Build fans through newsletters, public speaking, "light" blogging, and more.
- Use assessments to encourage visitors to interact on your site.
- Use intro sessions to sign-on 80% of prospects you meet.
- Secure prospects' interest after they commit (and before the first payment).
- Use gifts to reconnect with past clients.
Click here to learn sign up for the workshop and/or conference!
I'm teaching organizers how to build a YouTube Channel in Bethesda this fall. This will be the same workshop I gave to the NAPO (National Assn. of Professional Organizers) San Francisco chapter conference last year. I'm really proud of the feedback I received: "Kacy was the highest ranked speaker last year, and there is a good reason why. Her content is highly relevant to being an entrepreneur today, she is a very personable speaker, and I took away tactical, tangible ideas that I've implemented in my business since her workshop."
Interested in what a few hundred organizers do when they get together? Registration is open now to aspiring, new, and veteran organizers.
Click here to see full speaker line-up and to register for MARCPO in Bethesda, MD on October 24.
…but it still looks like me. That is the mark of an excellent photographer. I actually never considered professional head shots until I landed on Tamzin Smith's portfolio a few months ago. As soon as I saw her work, I knew I needed to step up my head shot game and she was the only one I wanted for the job. Tamzin is a gifted portrait photographer based in Rockville, MD. In the DC area and in need of a head shot makeover? Hire her immediately. I couldn't be more thrilled with how they turned out.
Office Organizing Expert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper. She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess and wants to fix yours. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Kacy is nationally available for consulting & speaking. Reach her at 202.262.1207 and email@example.com. Watch video lessons on office organizing here. Subscribe to the weekly newsletter & receive your free list of 100 Ways to Organize Your Office at www.theinspiredoffice.com/subscribe.
Last week I was pleased to be interviewed for an article on workspace productivity in Metro's online magazine. I give so much advice, micro and macro, that it's nice when I'm called to focus on the basics.
The gems are all in there. This concise article really sums up everything I teach when consulting.
Click here to read.
I attended a winter solstice party where I was informed that we were supposed to have brought a quote, message, song, etc. as an offering. Luckily, I had one in stock on my phone! Before reading it, I said to the group, "Throughout the year I save so much in digital form that is both mundane and meaningful, including a collection of quotes. If it isn't for moments like this, then what's the point?"
Click here to read a beautiful Black Elk quote on circles in life. It was the first time I shared it in the 10 years since bringing it home from a workshop. This is Evernote at its best. How do you keep track of your favorite quotes? Please share comments below!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euQ5oWUv-d4 Video Length: 2:36
To Make a Long Story Short: Gather your papers from all corners of your universe. Dig deep: pull from bags, drawers, boxes, closets, piles on the counter, piles on the desk, and bring them all into one central location. This will serve as your central sorting station. Place them all in one mass lump so you can evaluate the paper situation honestly. This makes for much more realistic planning. Until you see exactly how much you have, you won't know exactly how and where to create stations that will last.
Helpful? Please leave a comment! Have you done this already? Do you think you might even have less paper than you expect. Do you think you might have more, once you see it all together? Does the thought of seeing it all in one place stress you or give you relief. Please share below!
Office Organizing Expert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper. She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess and wants to fix yours. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Kacy is nationally available for consulting & speaking. Reach her at 202.262.1207 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn about Skype consultations here. Watch video lessons on office organizing here. Receive your free list of 100 Ways to Organize Your Office at www.theinspiredoffice.com
Video Length: 3:56
To make a long story short: Use colored sticky notes to create a project wall. One row per project, create a sticky for each action step, putting the next action step at the top. This can be for projects large or small. It helps you to see the entire process, allowing you to prioritize better and know exactly where to put your time.
Have you tried anything like this before? What projects do you need to map out and break down with notes? How many projects do you expect to have on the wall? What other ways have you creatively used space to organize projects and to-dos? How do you think this will help your business or personal life? Please share in the comments!
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!
Yes, organizing begets productivity, but the two are not synonymous. More time in one's day is an obvious benefit of getting organized, but just as organizing takes thought and maintenance, so does time management. As long as papers and objects are entering your life, organizing remains a process. As long as distractions and life outside of your goals enter your mind, time needs ongoing managing.
Personally, time management has been a challenge for me ever since school homework assignments grew beyond half-page worksheets. It might not surprise you to hear that I use organizing as a distraction! I've been known to leave my chair, mid email, to start cleaning the refrigerator or scan my receipts. No matter how focused I get on a work project, that focus is not guaranteed to be there the next minute. I've tried a few tools in the past that have helped, but my tendency is to still start wandering the house after about fifteen minutes of work.
Things changed though back in January when I re-discovered something that has proven to work magic on my productivity. To keep this from you any longer would be a sin of omission. I was working with a client in Alabama who wanted help managing her time at work. On the spot, I remembered a time management technique that was shared with me years ago by one of the most productive people I know: The Pomodoro Technique. I explained it to my client and promised that I would commit to using it right alongside her.
It's this simple: Work for 25 minutes at a time, allowing five minute breaks in between spurts. There is nothing you have to study, read, or buy. Watch a video about it here. It's important that you take your breaks even if you are on a roll, as Pomodoro is based on studies that show our focus deteriorates rapidly after about 25 minutes. To skip a break renders your subsequent Pomodoros weaker and weaker.
This technique has kept me honest. Almost immediately I found that I'm much better at estimating how long a task will take. For example, I had been putting off some light bookkeeping for months. When I set the timer, I found that this dreaded task only took about fifteen minutes. On the flip side, I'm learning that some important tasks of mine require more than I had thought. Now I can properly schedule them into my week. (Writing this post took exactly two Pomodoros).
A surprising benefit has been that there is less gray area in my day and work life in general. When the timer is running, I'm working. When it's off, I'm off.
Though it's a free tool with no gimmicks or gadgets, I chose to buy a timer app for $1.99. In your app store, just search for "Pomodoro Timer" to see dozens of results. I keep the ticking sound on as added anchoring of my attention. The "tick, tick…" works like crazy glue, sticking me to the chair until the chime sends me off to pet the cat, check Facebook, grab a snack, or organize a drawer.
Intrigued? Here's how to start: 1. Learn more and watch the video at www.pomodorotechnique.com 2. Download a Pomodoro Timer app - not required, but strongly recommended 3. Before your first set of productivity bursts, write down exactly the tasks you hope to accomplish in your 25 minute blocks of time.
Do you already have experience with the Pomodoro Technique? If not, do you have a feeling this could change your life too? How many Pomodoros would you like to work into your day? What recurring tasks do you have that should be done only during defined blocks of time? Please share in the comments below!
It's here! The Washingtonian has encapsulated my organizing philosophies so beautifully. Read my most important organizing advice in the latest issue. Being featured is thrilling in and of itself, but I'm also so pleased with how Michelle Thomas, the writer, organized the organizers thoughts! We spoke for close to an hour. I wasn't sure what to expect to see on paper, but she masterfully decluttered our conversation, resulting in these five nuggets of wisdom:
Recently I was interviewed by Jeff Copper of Attention Talk Radio for a chat on ugly organizational systems. Glossy magazines and Container Store catalogs have us all thinking that the best organizing systems are the beautiful ones. I'm a sucker for a stack of pretty lacquered boxes, but sometimes I just have to get down and dirty and do whatever WORKS. This sometimes means that to eliminate the mess, we have to replace it with something not so sparkly. Please listen for some way-outisde-of-the-box solutions that are especially helpful for those with ADD/ADHD. Runs 39 min. Do you have a remarkably uninteresting or even unsightly organizing solution? Does your office work, but not look magazine-worthy? What organizing issues are you struggling with that have you wishing for ANY solution, even if not a pretty one? Please share in the comments below!
Popular Self Help Internet Radio with Attention Talk Radio on BlogTalkRadio
It's been twelve years since I posted my first ad in Washington, DC's City Paper, advertising a full home organizing makeover for $80. This year I reunited with the lucky man who took me up on that steal of a deal! Hundreds of clients later, I'm still learning. Each client and each session continues to reveal a new layer about what makes us tick, why organizing matters, and how to better use my words and energy to deliver a healthier space.
Here are 7 of the many things I learned about organizing in 2013:
1. Sometimes organizing serves as a welcome distraction from the scary things over which we have no control. This year I had clients hire me in the face of severe depression, divorce, and looming brain surgery. They chose to focus on the minutiae of organizing because it balanced the weight of something unpleasant at best, frightening at worst. In turn, together we realized that it's not minutiae at all. To create calm in one area of life has a steady and far-reaching ripple effect. Their personal environment was something they did have control over. Organizing gave them back their power.
2. Evernote changed my life. Personally, Evernote is the best tool I've discovered for going paperless, organizing the brain, and reassuring yourself that you'll never lose a piece of information ever again. After having the app sit idle on my iPhone and computer for two years, I patiently learned how to use it. I now add to and refer to Evernote countless times per day. It has allowed me to toss almost every paper that comes into my life, capture my thoughts, bookmark sites, and manage the mental scraps of the day.
3. Organizing isn't something you ever get done. This is not bad news. It's not like getting a college degree. You don't obtain it and claim it as finished. It is a lifelong process. As long as things come into your life, organizing must be something you are always doing, not did one afternoon.
4. A to-do list is a sign of life. This "a ha" moment came to me while discussing the weight of to-dos with a long-term favorite client of mine. We were lamenting how crossing things off often begets more things to cross off. We simultaneously realized that we'll never get it all done. It actually felt liberating. Everything on our lists is a choice. Everything. Really, what do we have to do? See them as choices and either let them be a burden, or a sign that we are alive and moving forward. God forbid we actually get it all done…!
5. Posting a visual reminder of one's chores, to-dos, and accomplishments works. I had a client mark Xs in boxes to track the bags of paper that went out the door, posted my own daily household chores list on my fridge, and had another client post her organizing projects in colored markers on her office door. Each are different ways to both motivate us and keep us honest.
6. The best tool I can ever give a client is one of seeing them as the person they want to be. When I see their vision for their life as bigger and brighter than the packed boxes of paper that line their walls, the flood waters recede and the sea parts. The best part is I don't even have to use words to express it. This is when they begin to have ideas they never had before, and find a motivation that wasn't there when all they could see was chaos.
If you:Drop something, pick it up.Open something, close it.Take something out, put it away.Bring something in, get rid of something.
What did you learn about organizing in 2013? Big or small, ground-breaking or mundane, all insights & comments are welcome below!
I once learned a valuable lesson while having my hair blown dry at my local Dry Bar. I had been walking down the street post-yoga with my pounds of hair twisted into a sweaty knot when a sweet voice stopped me and said, “Excuse me. Would you like a free blow-out? I’m a trainee and we’re looking for volunteers to practice on.” I replied, “Sure! You might regret it though once you see it let loose.” I followed her in and proceeded to watch her work magic on my head. I also was a fly on the wall as her instructors were teaching the new staff the non-negotiables of the job.
I remember there being about five non-negotiables during their famous signature blow-out, one being to never turn off the dryer while working with a client – it slows down the process. Non-negotiables are all around us and most of us have them even if we don’t explicitly list them. For example, you may not date smokers or eat anything partially hydrogenated. Personally, I meditate for 20 minutes before checking email in the morning. If you’re a parent, it’s likely that you have set some non-negotiables with the little people in your life.
Non-negotiables are the rules that hold us to our standards. If all else fails, these are the constants we can rely on to keep us close to our axis. To veer off is to create a slippery slope. Have you ever tried to eat just on Pringle? Waistlines, corporations, and households are all kept healthy with their own personal set of rules.
Set some non-negotiables in your office. Create an “If all else fails” list. Just like with Dry Bar, keep it short. I actually suggest limiting it to three. Begin by asking yourself what happens daily that adds to the chaos. Next, ask yourself what category of things causes you the most stress? Create rules around these. Some examples:
If all else fails:
- Receipts will be emptied into the “Deductible Receipts 2013” folder at the end of the week.
- “To Scan” stash is scanned by 5pm Friday.
- My scissors never leave the desk.
- I open my mail at the end of the day.
- Paper never goes on the floor.
- Unpaid bills land in the blue folder.
- Post-its are processed & eliminated at the end of the week.
Do you already adhere to some non-negotiables? What is one non-negotiable that you are going to put into place? Please share in the comments below!
This is Jane Austen's Inspired Office as captured by an old friend visiting Chawton, England last week. No cords. No keyboards. Imagine what you could create with a quill, a weathered old desk, natural lighting, and a bundle of lavender....
Tell me in the comments, what would you do/create/write if you had to sit here for an hour each day?
Like many of you, I’ve been attending workshops, talks, networking groups, and mastermind meetings for years. A while back I went to an event with a friend. My notes are on the left and my friend’s notes are on the right. How are they different?
Experience has shown me that there’s a good chance hers will end up in a pile or folder (if she’s lucky) never to be seen again. She might even come across them one day and wonder, “Where’s the 2nd page to this?” and “What event is this from?” or “There’s good info in here! I wish I had found this earlier.” Hers are loose pages and mine are in a notebook that I’ve been using since 2009, dedicated solely to business building notes. When I go to an event, I grab this one notebook. When I need to refer to a business idea note, I grab this one notebook. I trust that ever good business idea I've had or heard since 2009 is in this notebook.
Notes are like anything else we keep: almost never to be looked at again, but saved for peace of mind. At least have them all in one place and accessible just in case someday maybe you might want to use them. Dedicate this notebook just to business/event/marketing/workshop notes. Use it, and only it, until it’s full. You don't have to do this retroactively, though it would be a good way to review your brilliant ideas and notes. Going forward, reach for the notebook and not the scrap paper or hotel-provided notepads (that both you and I know will end up in the trash)!
WARNING: Branded journals are given out at many workshops and conferences. Resist! I never pick these up! Just because it's free doesn't mean it's helpful. I prefer a spiral bound notebook that stays open when flat on a table. Here’s a link to the exact notebook I use. I think it’s the perfect size.
Do you have a collection of notebooks that are only full up to page 5? Are your brilliant ideas scattered on paper scraps, pads and various journals? Are you willing to commit to only one business/idea notebook going forward? Was this post helpful? Please share your comments below!
You don't know me until you've been in my home. It truly is an extension of me. Any stranger would walk into my home and assume I value beauty, order, art, plants, nature, and travel. They would also glean that I love texture, strong shapes & silhouettes, statement pieces, and mid-century design. One day a few weeks ago, I was relaxing on the couch and felt inspired to make a list of all of my favorite objects in my home. It was fun, easy, and made me even more grateful for the things in my life. It truly is a well-curated collection.
The list was actually 45 items long. What I love most: my terrariums, my Indonesian teak platform bed, and my live edge walnut side table found on Craigslist. What I really began to notice though were the few objects that were not on the list. One piece that didn't make the cut was a huge decorative vase that I've had for years. Shortly after I got it, it dropped and cracked. I patched it up nicely with glue and exposed the unscathed side, but the love affair with this vase was dead. I had just stopped noticing it. It wasn't hideous, but was adding nothing to my home. It now sits in my car, on its way to the thrift store.
I didn't make this list as part of an exercise to get rid of more things, but rather, a way to deepen my appreciation for the things I already loved. That, it certainly did. Ridding myself of one more thing that was less than amazing was just an surprise side benefit. Making my list only took about 10 minutes, but was a very enjoyable 10 minutes. Do the same. You may be surprised at what doesn't make the cut!
What are some of your favorite things in your home and office? From where you're sitting now, can you spot one thing that you may have had for some time, but just isn't adding anything anymore? Was this post helpful? Please share in the comments!
To make a long story short: These clear plastic file boxes are a supply that I rave about in talks and always try to have on-hand in my trunk when working with clients. They work wonders for anyone who is "out of sight out of mind," providing a nice alternative or addition to the filing cabinet. They work well on desktops or bookshelves, allowing you to quickly access active files. Think of your filing cabinets as document storage. Think of these as document access. Papers will likely flow through these, rather than live here permanently. Purchase yours at the Container Store by clicking here.
Found this helpful? Please let me know by leaving a comment! Let me know how you display and access your most active files. What documents of yours need to be kept visible?
Office Organizing Expert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper. She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess. Based in Silver Spring, MD Kacy is nationally available for consulting & speaking. Reach her at (202) 262-1207 and email@example.com. Watch video lessons on office organizing here. Receive your free list of 100 Ways to Organize Your Office at www.theinspiredoffice.com.