Archive for May, 2009|Monthly archive page

Make up your mind

I received a letter recently from a client. It read in part:

... I also made it to the bottom of my inbox, and I’m not letting things “ripen” there. Your encouragement to “decide to decide” has been helping to prevent things from piling up. …

My client is succeeding because she is deciding.

Professional organizer Barbara Hemphill, author of Taming the Paper Tiger, has defined clutter as “deferred decisions”. A lot of what is lying around our homes and offices is there because we have chosen to put it where it is “for now”.  Too often that day on which we were going to make a permanent choice never comes.

One of the best ways to put your paper organizing into overdrive is to decide to decide. This concept is so important that organizer Kathy Waddill, author of The Organizing Sourcebook, makes it one of the nine key strategies required to become and stay organized.

If you’re holding back because you are unsure how long you need to keep papers, email me for a complimentary records retention guide.

Maybe you’re holding back because on some deeper level you’re unsure what the paper, email, and other clutter actually means to you. This is when I find coaching to be an effective tool to help my clients get organized. I ask coaching questions to help clients clarify what meaning is invested in the papers.

Know what you need to keep. Consider what you want to keep. Then take action to discard, delegate, file, and act.

What have you decided lately? What happened when you did? Leave a comment here.

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Memorial Day: a quote

A quote for the day:

Washington Monument Reflection in Vietnam Memorial

Washington Monument Reflected in Vietnam Memorial

True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.

— Arthur Ashe (19431993), American tennis champion

2009 NAPO Organizers’ Choice Awards

Last week at the annual conference of the National Association of Professional Organizers, we (the 800 or so organizers present) voted for the recipients of the 2009 Organizers’ Choice Awards. And the winners are…

Taking “Best Product – Business” was OfficeMax, for the [IN]PLACE System by Peter Walsh. A series of plastic binders, files, totes, envelopes, and color-coded labels, the [IN]PLACE System provides is a good-looking collection of tools to assist with efficient paper management.

inplace_system_officemaxThe components include a number of thoughtful details, such as color-coded labels that change easily among right, left, and center locations. Now if you love the sight of your files marching across the drawer (right, center, left, repeat) or if you want all left-justified (we all read from left to right, after all) — whatever you like, you can set it up.

The desktop sorter has adjustable-width sections. Discreet notches in the file folders keep files from slipping out the side of the sorter. It all works. The plastic ensures durability; the translucent finish provides visual calm.

The award for “Best Product – Technology” went to The Neat Company, for their NeatDesk product. Just as the term “paperless office” has become a universal joke, the technology is developing to make it a reality. Desktop sheet-fed scanners coupled with cheap computer memory and superior character-recognition software have begun to bring the paperless environment into view.

ndesk_mediumNeatDesk will scan a batch of mixed paper — just feed it your business cards, receipts and papers in one go. Data can be exported to the most popular software programs you already use, such as Outlook, TurboTax, Excel, and QuickBooks. Unlike the company’s popular NeatReceipts, which is available in a Mac version, NeatDesk is still PC-only for now.

Though the economy kept many exhibitors away from the NAPO conference this year, the exhibit hall featured a heartening number and variety of companies intent on making our lives more organized with their products. With new and improved systems available every year, especially on the technology side, I see a future that does offer real improvement in the modern office.

Just remember: the organized mind comes first, not the containers or the technology. Containers applied to clutter generally create additonal clutter. And technology applied to inefficient systems? In the words of Mitch Ratliffe, “A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history — with the possible exceptions of hand guns and tequila.”

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