Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Old School

Much to the dismay of my family and friends, I, like a good girl scout, prefer to be prepared. At this time of year, while many people are concentrating on stocking stuffers, my thoughts leap ahead to January 1 when I can begin a brand new day planner! Flipping through the final calendar pages in December becomes more and more noticeable with each passing day making me realize that I need a new planner!

Birthdays, addresses, anniversaries will all need to be transferred, tasks that need advance planning for sure. I must start the selection process at once and I could not be more thrilled!

This love of stationery products began in grammar school with the introduction of the Trapper Keeper by Mead. This state of the art notebook forever changed the way I view all paper related products. So much so that I still reject the advice of wise speaking techies bent on converting me to a Palm or Blackberry. I remain the holdout.

Shopping for and ultimately selecting the perfect planner needs a plan of it's own, much like back to school shopping does. And since my school days are well behind me, I relish the start of a new date book as my fresh start. And so the online research begins which will eventually lead to visits at my locals: The Container Store, Filofax and Coach. Finally, at Kate's Paperie, a final choice will be made.

This truly is the most wonderful time of the year!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Get Organized in Minutes!

Probably the most common problem for my clients is the notion of change. No matter what the circumstance, the idea of changing one's habit represents something undesireable or even frightful.

Getting organized is always top on the list of things to do for busy people, so what does the notion of taking time to get organized cause such anxiety? The reality is just a few minutes a day can get you organized. Take 10 minutes to start your day, get your workspace organized and make a plan for the day. Your plan could simply be, return 5 phone calls and make a doctor's appointment.

And at the end of the day, do the same, take 10 minutes to leave your work space in order. You will be surprised what simply grouping tasks together will do for your peace of mind and your productivity. For example group all phone messages together, all bills together, all correspondence together.

Taking the time to make subtle changes in your schedule each day make a huge difference in yor productivity.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Pure Unadulterated Retail

Before I could even dry the last turkey platter and put away my Miles Standish figurines, it seems that it is already time to break out the jingle bells. And while I applaud the efforts to prolong the joyous season,I have my doubts. Afterall, people are not knocking themselves over at 5 am Walmart sales to share the holiday spirit. The season is pure unadulterated retail! My large family is the perfect example. Each year, we pick one name to buy for. Each person writes their name on a piece of a paper and then a few suggestions. My husband and I compared our notes later. Each of my brothers, leaving nothing to chance had asked for gift cards and a list of suggested retailers. This only gives further support to my theory that the same Lord and Taylor gift card has been making it's way through my family for the past five years. Even though it may lack imagination, everyone gets to pick the gift they want and enjoy some post holiday markdowns as well. I wonder is the gift card just another way to extend the retail season? Happy shopping!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Do you know what you have?

We talk a lot today about our problems on the job. From"my boss is working me to the bone" to "that new client is really high maintenance." to "I don't get paid enough to do this job." Some even lament over "a bad hair day," missing a bus or misplacing a cell phone.
All common complaints in our modern over stressed society. Everyone, it seems is feeling underappreciated and over worked.
As I saddled up to this year's Thanksgiving feast, I was honored to be seated across the table from a Marine returning from a tour of duty in Iraq. His job as a team leader on active duty presented it's own brand of stress including heavy gun fire and being woken in the middle of night for search and seizure missions.
As he spoke, I began to realize how easy it is to take the important aspects of life for granted. Often caught up in our own little dramas, we don't give thanks, but once a year. I don't think that is enough. My plan, give thanks everyday to my family, friends and work colleagues all of which make my life better.

It was a wake up call, I won't soon forget.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I wish I had more time to...

It occurs to me after listening to friends, family and my clients that we all have too much on our collective plates. We chat on our cell phones, listen to podcasts, text message our boss all while purchasing our Starbucks Latte.
Seems like with all this technology, we should be living more productive lives. In fact the opposite happens. The main complaint I hear over and over again is "I wish I had more time to..." There in lies the problem, the elusive, dot, dot, dot, the thing we never, no matter how much we work over time and mutlitask, can get to.

As we near the holiday season and we begin to stuff our holiday dinner plates and our holiday schedules with more than we can handle, I reccomend beginning with the dot, dot, dot.
Make the thing you love, the priority. Make an effort to find time, even if that means that something will get pushed til tomorrow.

For me, a slice of Dutch Apple pie pre-Turkey just might do the trick, for others a yoga class, even others a good read or an autumn walk. The point is to pick your priority. As we enter this busiest of seasons, start on Thanksgiving to change the schedule. Simply say "Pass the priorities, please!"

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Good Morning Clutter!

Even though I pride myself on being uber organized, after all that is what I do for a living, at times, the process can be a little overwhelming!

That was the case last night, when after a long day and night of appointments, I returned home with my arms full. Reading material, items for clients, umbrella and hand bag were sufficiently drenched after battling an evening rain storm. I left all at the front door and headed to the bedroom to prepare for a much needed sleep.

As soon as I got up this morning, I faced the piles. Like a busy waitress working her section I begin to take the trips necessary to return all the items. I cannot work with all that clutter around me.
What I noticed is like that busy waitress, I never waste a trip. I take my boots back to the closet and return water glasses from the bedroom back to the kitchen. While making my bed, I put a sweater in the dresser on other side of the bed. When gathering the mail, I pop oatmeal into the oven and grab my vitamins.

I know that returning calls and emails willl occupy the morning. I also know that I cannot work in chaos. In about 15 minutes, I clear the clutter physically making way for a mentally clutter free day! As I write this blog, all of my items have been returned to their homes. And like a good waitress who serves her clients, I have made the time to feed myself as well. Morning organization takes a bit of focus and a bit of time, but the rewards are great! Try it for yourself.

Monday, November 21, 2005


Standing in the Starbucks in designer shoes purchasing $5 coffee while talking on my cell phone, I pondered, would it be possible to live better with less? What I discovered was that eliminating unnecessary aspects of my life would bring a more richer existence eventually leading to big time changes. I underwent an extreme make under. Month by month, I eliminated one thing in my life that I held most important, beginning in January with alcohol. Over the course of the year, I came to a deeper understanding of my wants vs. my needs as well as deprivation vs. sacrifice. Coffee, chocolate, elevators, cell phones, multitasking, dining out, newspapers, television, taxis, cursing and shopping rounded out my year of learning to live better with less. The result a book, entitled Give it Up!" which chronicles the journey which would profoundly change my life. Immediately after my year of paring down, I left my job of 14 years, started my own company, got a book deal, got married and bought my first home! Talk about less is more!
"Give it Up! My Year of Learning to Live Better with Less." is available for pre-order from Amazon and Powells now or through

Friday, November 18, 2005

So Much Cereal, So Little Time

It happens time and time again, you go to your closet and cannot find a thing to wear, despite the fact that there are enough outfits to last a lifetime. Perhaps you are just being offered too many choices, endless combinations of skirts and blouses to pair with the latest capri cut pants or Seven Jeans. Honestly, you could find a different runway look everyday if you put your mind to it. I have the same confusion when food shopping too where most of the trip is spent in the cereal aisle trying to take in all of the choices of flakes, squares and oats in combination. I don't know what to choose there either. Is this phenomenon strictly American? When traveling in Europe, cereal shopping is simple, you have granola and flakes. Choose one and you are out of there. Applying that philosophy to our collective closets would make getting dressed, simpler. As for me, I am off to have a bowl of granola in my tried and true Lucky Jeans and an Old Navy tshirt. Despite my shopaholic ways, my favorites always emerge. Pick out your favorites today and try on limiting your choices for size.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


George Carlin has a bit about people's stuff and moving to bigger apartments, then to houses to make more room for their growing supply of "stuff." As a professional organizer, I deal with other people's stuff all the time and have found this to be true. Just the other day, while working with a client, I discovered 15 of the same exact brown handbag. Is that really a necessity? Probably not, since most of them still had the price tags on them. I am familiar with this problem, because I am a recovering shopaholic. In fact, at the height of my addiction, I was buying the same item over and over again not realizing that the same black top resided in my closet in pristine condition. Today, I offer a solution for all that stuff. If you like retail, like I love retail, then treat your own closet like a retail store. And that begins, with good old fashioned inventory. Take stock of what you have literally before heading out to the store: group like items together and start an inventory sheet. You will be surprised to find out how much you already have.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Shopping Temptation

I love to shop. I admit it. I tend to buy things just because I can; an excuse that seems less stable than my sling backs. Even when I am best intended, the universe seems to intervene.
The other day on my way to a business appointment,I found myself in the garden of eden or here on earth, Henri Bendels. Inevitably, I give in to the gravitational pull and am led astray by a handsome makeup artist named Lorenzo. Before I knew it, my entire face was done and I was charging a conspicuous amount of cosmetics irregardless of price or necessity. Just to prove that the universe has a sense of humor, I had been on the way to promote my new book, Give it Up, My Year of Learning to Live Better with Less. Perhaps, Oscar Wilde said it best, "I can resist anything but temptation!"