All Ways Organized Blog

The real costs of disorganization.

Have you ever thought about what your disorganization is costing you?

The real costs of disorganization.

Have you ever thought about what your disorganization is costing you? Well, here are 10 examples to get you thinking.

1. Lost Receipts: Not being able to return a purchase because you can't find the receipt means money down the drain.

2. Uncashed checks and lost gift cards: Rebates, tax returns, gifts and other uncashed checks that have expired often cannot be reclaimed. Did you hide them to keep them safe and now you can't remember where they are? I once found a check for $262,000.00 that the client lost in the process of buying and selling a home. What a nightmare! I had another client put gift certificates and money in the books above her desk. She did not realize the extent of what was there, and some of the stores were out of business. Money lost...

GPS, The Small Stuff, and Getting Back on Track

GPS, The Small Stuff, and Getting Back on Track

A short time ago, we were returning from a trip, in my car, at O’dark 30 AM, when the dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree. There were warning lights that I had never seen before and there were a lot of them…Check engine was among them…YIKES! So, there we were on the highway, going along with traffic, it was raining, the road was rough, and we had no map other than the little tiny GPS screen on my phone.

Calling for help, meant we needed to know our location. Google tried to help, but there was no street address, and drilling down a location took a bit of expanding the map and trying to find helpful details. In the “olden days”, I would have a route planned on my paper map that would have revealed most of the information I needed at a glance. The big picture here was important. Calling the 24-hour roadside assist that came with the car led to a discussion with an operator in Tennessee. Her reply was; “looks like you have got a big problem there” …Ok, FINE! I thought the check engine light established that fact, but I digress.

We did eventually find our location (hey it was a stressful event; we were a little freaked out!) and a plan for tow was arranged. Time passed and no one called with details about when help might come. We decided we were ready to move to plan B, call the local dealer and see if they could help.

Next up was finding a dealer to help us with the car. OK, 7 miles away…Should we chance it and just drive there? Should we wait?  What should we do?

Ever wondered if Productivity Consultants get disorganized?

10 Ways I Might Be Just Like You

Ever wondered if Productivity Consultants get disorganized?

When I meet new people, and they find out I am a Professional Organizer/Productivity Consultant, they will often stop in their tracks and tell me how much they need me at their home or in their offices. Then, they ask about my home or my office. They want to know if my home or office is immaculate, if I have everything put away, or if I always know where everything is. I often laugh to myself wondering if I have some superhero power that I do not know about.

Always and immaculate are some strong terms. How about this - sometimes my home and office are just how I like them, other times they need work. Life happens, we travel, we get home late, something unexpected comes up, and bad things happen.

Perfection is a productivity killer. I choose to: clean up, tidy up, straighten up, put things back where they belong, or whatever terms you use to describe this task on a routine basis, but the key is an underlying system to use when things get out of control.

So, today I want to share some of the things some of the things you may have wondered about me in my life as a productivity trainer and professional organizer. Why am I sharing this with you? Because, we are all in the same boat. We all get busy, we all have last minute interruptions, we all have days we are just too tired to put everything away…Don’t worry, with the right training and systems you can decide to get your home or office back in shape when you are ready.

Time for a nice long vacation?

Why you really need to take one!

Time for a nice long vacation?

It has been a couple of years since I wrote about vacation and productivity. The first time I wrote about it , I had just come to the realization that I had never in my working life taken a two week vacation I saw so many friends struggling with chronic illnesses and aging family members and I realized right now is all we have. Life is not a dress rehearsal! Today is your chance to live the life of your dreams.
Here are the facts I reported, when I initially wrote about vacation and productivity:

The remedy to your digital distress lies in the analog life.

The remedy to your digital distress lies in the analog life.

We are all so busy with our computers, smart phones, tablets, and smart home devices with their personal assistants. It got me wondering if in the quest for digital nirvana that we might be missing something IRL. (in Real Life). You may all know about my word of the year (intention) and my desire to live more simply with less. On my journey to less, I have begun working on a template for a course on designing your digital life. (I will share my thoughts on that in another post.)

One important component of my digital life design is to be sure it includes analog time. I think of computer related things as digital and human beings as analog.

OK, so you may be shaking your heads wondering what has become of me and that surely I must be losing my mind. Well, I may be losing my mind, but this would not be the reason…

Living With Less. What Really Matters?

Living With Less. What Really Matters?

Have you ever thought of living with less? Have you ever wished you could do more of the things you love? How is this even possible with the demands of our busy lives?
Let’s begin with the way 2019 started for me. I chose a word to guide my efforts this year. That word is intention. The choices I make must serve my intention, which is to live more simply with less.
Why is this coming up now? Well, I am getting older, I have been acquiring for years and it is now time to live in a different way. Relatives and friends have become ill or disabled. People close to me have died.
I have felt the weight of helping others declutter. Often decluttering is to get rid of things that have been kept because of the guilt and shame they have been bathed in. It belonged to Great Aunt Bethany… it cost a lot of money… it is very valuable…what if they found out you got rid of it? I would like to think that I have not given gifts with the intention that they must be kept forever. I want the recipient to enjoy the gift. If they do not it is OK to let it go. All I want is for them to be happy.
I have come to understand that the younger generations do not want our stuff (much of it anyway), and I have too much stuff. I have also come to realize that the things we have been told are valuable, may or may not be. There is a cost to keeping everything, your job is to decide if you are willing to pay the cost: time, space, energy, and money.
Being a professional organizer, I can tell you that this is not only true for me, but also in the experience of many of my colleagues around the country. The NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals) discussion boards frequently visit this topic. What to do with all these “valuable” artifacts of lives well lived. In truth, many in the younger generations are choosing life experiences over stuff. Living more simply and experiencing more of the world around them is perfect. The things that they do buy are not too expensive and can be changed when they are worn or outdated without a boatload of guilt.

Even in this digital age we all must deal with some paper. How do you keep yours, and does it matter?

Four great questions to ask about how you manage you paper.

Even in this digital age we all must deal with some paper. How do you keep yours, and does it matter?

I once shared an office with a therapist whose style of organizing was different from mine. We shared the caseload of an adult/adolescent psychiatric unit. In our work, we used lots of forms and handouts. While our organizing and paper management philosophies were different, they were both effective. She was a classic "piler." She kept her important papers in a large pile on top of the desk. She could go to the pile of paper on the desk and find the form she needed…in seconds. That paper pile was “her system.” Some of our colleagues saw these piles and felt they looked disorganized and messy. Did the pile hold her back? Could she find what she needed in seconds? Yes, she could find what she needed, when she needed it.
Now, what about my system?

Got the Monday Morning Blahs? 7 Ways to Conquer the Overwhelm.

Got the Monday Morning Blahs?  7 Ways to Conquer the Overwhelm.


Do you wake up on Monday feeling an acute sense of loss and a feeling of dread about returning to work?
Well, you are not alone. Why do Mondays cause so much pain? We spend the entire weekend trying to catch our breath from the week before. During our weekends, we stay up late, sleep in, perhaps drink too much or eat all the delicious foods that are high in fat and sugar that sap our energy. I get it. You want to spend the “quality” time you lack Monday through Friday. You spend your work week running all day, you come home tired, your family needs you, and you struggle to give them all you have left. On the weekends it is a mad sprint to fit in everything you want to do for and with your loved ones before it all starts again.
How in the world can you have a great Monday when you are so out of sync with your Monday – Friday world? Now let’s back up to last week. How did you leave your workplace on Friday afternoon? Is your desk piled high with things that belong elsewhere? Do you know where they came from, or where to return them to? Did you note specific times on your calendar to follow up on all the items that are on your desk? Do you even know where your calendar is? What are your highest priorities for next week? Are they on your calendar (I am sure you know my feeling that a blank calendar is a sign of not much getting done)? Is your inbox overflowing? Are you afraid there are urgent and uncompleted tasks in your inbox? Do you have systems you follow that help you do your job? Meetings on a certain day, blocking off some Focus Time during the work week to dedicate to the highest value work you have? I have found that even the most disorganized clients have some strengths they can build on.

Is There an App for That? Here Are Some Questions to Ask First.

Is There an App for That?  Here Are Some Questions to Ask First.

“So, is there an app for that?”
Most likely the answer is yes, there are hundreds of tools that will all “do” what you are looking for: tasks, calendars, to-do, scanning, notetaking, photo editing and many other things. If you are like some of my clients, you can open the app store on your phone in seconds, and find all the apps that do, “that thing you want” just as quickly.
When I am asked this question, I ask, why? Why do you need another app? Maybe this is the perfect question, but often the better question to ask first is: “What tools do you already have that do the same thing.”

Preparing for Tax Time, Are You Ready?

The right system will make this job much easier!

Preparing for Tax Time, Are You Ready?

Preparing for Tax Time, Are You Ready?
It is that time of year again, the tax man cometh. Are you feeling anxious, frustrated and afraid about how difficult this process will be? Well, you have plenty of company. Pew Research report stated that 30% of us dislike doing our taxes and 26% of us hate doing our taxes (I know that will come as quite a shock to many of you!) They cite everything from it being a boring chore, to the convoluted tax structure as reasons why. Especially notable were the responses about the hassle of collecting and putting together the tax time documentation.

Are you dreading tax time?
In my experience with clients, those who dread it the most have a few common problems:
• Don’t know what documentation they need.
• They think it will take too much time.
• They are afraid to ask for help
• They are afraid of what they might owe.
• They feel ashamed they do not know what to do next.
• They don’t know where the important papers needed for completing them are located.

First of all, forgive yourself for what is in the past. If you don’t have a system, that can be fixed, but don’t let that get in the way of completing this important job.
Make some appointments with yourself to do the work to get your taxes completed. When the scheduled time arrives, set a timer and work your way through these tasks one at a time. Take regular breaks to keep yourself fresh during the process. When your timer rings, ask yourself if you want to continue and do more in this session, or make another appointment at a later time to continue your work. Remember, one step at a time!

Need some help with your process?

Here, steal this one I share with clients…

Step 1
Make a list of what documents you need. Start with the physical paper documents. Where are they likely to be? In my years working with individuals and businesses, we have found documents in their offices, the front hall closets, the kitchen or dining room tables, in bags and boxes in basements or attics or under their beds, and the trunks of their cars... Think back to when people were coming over to your home or office and you needed to do a quick clean up. Where did you put that stuff?

Step 2
Ask for help collecting the papers you need, divide the list and get started (think - business partners and spouses). Check all those places you identified for valuable documents.

Step 3
Now that you found all the paper, don’t forget to check your online resources for things you need to download,

Clear Your Desktop in 7 Easy Steps

Clear the Clutter, Clear Your Mind!

Clear Your Desktop in 7 Easy Steps

1. Prepare yourself! Have a great breakfast, coffee, tea or whatever gets your day started in a fantastic way. Warm up your body and your mind: Take a walk, go to the gym, stretch, run, meditate, pray. Hydrate yourself, prep a water bottle to have with you as you work.
2. Dress in comfortable clothes. You do not want to give up because you feel like you cannot move, bend, and reach what you need.
3. Get rid of the strangers…clear out those things that do not belong in your office: empty coffee mugs, dirty dishes, empty cardboard packing boxes, bubble wrap, and any other strangers that need to be removed from your office.
4. Clear off the top of your desk. Put all the items in one pile and work from the top to the bottom of this pile to deal with all these items. Make sure the most recent items are on the top of the pile so your current work and most important follow up items will be taken care of first. Remember, Barbara Hemphill’s motto: Clutter is postponed decisions!
5. Now that the top of your desk is cleared off, it is a great time to give it a good cleaning. Your energy and the energy of your office will improve if you can see a clean, clear space to work.
6. Now you are ready to process the items in your pile.

Get More Done With Less Paper!

10 Tips you can start using today to capture information and save paper!

Get More Done With Less Paper!

It is scary to think that we Americans per capita use 700 pounds of paper products per year.
Are you thinking that using less paper will be difficult?
How about we start in our offices? Here are 10 ways to get started.
1. Stop printing every document on paper. If you want to save something, you can save it to a thumb drive, a hard drive, a cloud service like Box, DropBox, Google Docs, OneDrive, or a virtual notebook like Evernote, OneNote or Notion. Another option is to take a screenshot of the information (in Windows use the Print Screen key on the keyboard on Mac's one way is to use Command+ Shift+ 4).
2. Re use paper you already have. If you have documents you printed only on one side that you no longer need, simply use the other side.
3. Whenever possible, print on both sides of a page using the duplex printing setting if your printer supports this function. Voila, 50% less printer paper with this one change.

How Secure is Your Personal Data?

13 Tips for Securing Your Personal Information.

How Secure is Your Personal Data?

How secure are your devices and you data? With so many news reports about massive data breeches, it is worth checking how your security systems are working. If you are not using any, now is a good time to start. If you already are using a strategy, it might just need a few tweaks. In any case, here are some things you can start with to check how well you are protecting your data.

1. Free annual credit reports. Get an up to date look at where your information is being used to obtain credit.  The report will show you what accounts are being reported with your data. Make sure all the accounts reported are actually originated by you. Federal law requires each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion to give you a free credit report every 12 months if you ask for it. Here is the link to request a copy of yours. https://www.annualcreditreport.com/requestReport/landingPage.action 

If you have been denied credit in the last 60 days due to information on your credit report you are entitled to a complimentary report. https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp

Stagger your requests so that every 4 months you are checking a different source, (i.e., Transunion in Jan, Equifax in May and Experian in September) rather than checking all at once you will have the most updated information being reported on your accounts.
Each agency may differ slightly in the data on record, but now you are checking regularly and know if anything concerning is showing on your record.

10 Tips for Less Back Pain at The Office

Quick and easy ways to be more comfortable sitting at your desk.

10 Tips for Less Back Pain at The Office

 Did you wake up with back pain today? If you did, you have a lot of company. According to the American Chiropractic Association, low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide. It is one of the most common reasons for missing work, and the second most common reason for doctor’s office visits. Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain.

If you are an office worker who suffers from back pain, or if you have in the past, read on. Do you spend most of your day sitting at a desk? If so, you need to pay special attention to something called Office Ergonomics. In a nutshell, it is the science of how people and their environment work together. This is a very important concept in office design. Properly executed, your furniture, technology, and tools work together to support a healthy and pain-free work environment. Executed properly, you avoid unnecessary strain during your workday. 

When I work with clients, one of the first things I like to check out is their version of “command central.” Where do they spend most of their time working?

September is National Preparedness Month

Are You Ready?

September is National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month. Hurricane Dorian has us all watching and worrying about our friends and relatives. How about taking a few moments to think about just how prepared you are. The time to think about this is before disaster is at your doorstep. If you have helpful tips, be sure to post them below so we can all learn from each other. The Ready.gov website is full of resources. The theme for 2019 is Prepared, Not Scared.

Prepare for what you ask? The answer is disaster.

Whether natural disaster, or personal disaster, you need  a plan for you, your family and your company.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

How will you know that disaster has occurred or is imminent? I was recently in Starbucks and suddenly everyone’s smart phones went crazy. We were in a severe weather situation, and tornado warnings were being sent to our County. By setting up the alerts with the Massachusetts Office of Emergency Management – MEMA we all received the warning to our cell phones. Scary, but reassuring at the same time.

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