Eileen Roth

Eileen Roth is a productivity expert and the author of Organizing For Dummies. She helps people be better organized in the Office, Home, Time Management and Student Organization.

Do you know your Why?


Your goals may fail because you have no reason to accomplish them.

Ask yourself, “Why?”  

Goals and your why?


Why do you want to do this?


The reason, your Why?, could be to do something:

  • for you
  • for your family
  • for a relative
  • for a friend


It could also be:

  • for your business or career
  • for your finances (to make money)
  • for your health
  • for your personal development
  • for relaxation or entertainment
  • for your spiritual growth

If you want to lose weight, you need a reason, a WHY?

  • Do you want to look stunning for a wedding?
  • Do you want to look good for your HS reunion?
  • Do you want to look great this summer in your bathing suit?
  • Do you have health issues that suggest a diet like diabetes, heart, or kidney problems?
  • Do you want to be healthier to prevent health issues, especially hereditary ones?

If there’s no reason to achieve something, you won’t do it.

If there’s no reason to achieve something, you won’t do it.  A compelling reason gives you more motivation to achieve the goal.  It may be as simple as “My boss asked for it.”  (The compelling reason being that you want to keep your job or hope for a promotion!) or it may be as simple as  “I can’t stand looking at that pile.”



The answer to WHY? will also tell you

that some items on your To Do List do not need to be done.


Comment and tell us your goal and your WHY?

Chunk your Goals

Last month we discussed the fact that New Year’s, or even winter time, may not be the right time for you to set goals   (see Have Your Goals Already Derailed Off Track?)  Yes, it still may really be right for you, especially if you love the quiet of winter, but for most people winter time is not an energetic time to set goals.

If you do tend to set goals in January, why are they not working?


Person walking in snow –  Copyright Stock Unlimited

  1. We already discussed that you may not have been in a serious frame of mind (especially if you made your goals during a New Year’s Eve party)
  2. We also said winter may not be the right season for you to create goals.
  3. Another reason is that you didn’t break them down into bite sized pieces – chunks.

Most goals are too super-sized.  That’s what a goal is – something big to strive for.   Therefore it needs to be broken down into pieces you can truly handle – chunks.  You don’t eat a whole cake at once.  You take a chunk of it – one slice at a time.

Do you remember the Chunky candy bar?  It is small –  1.4 oz   I did a google search and was surprised to see that it is currently sold at Walmart, at least online.  I don’t know if it is in the store.  They even have a King size version.  To me that is just a total oxymoron–a King size bar of a Chunky candy!

Anyhow, each of your goals can usually be broken down into smaller parts or chunks. If you look at your goal as a series of steps forward, they are easier to achieve.  When my daughters started training for their first marathons, they had to run a block first, then a mile, then a couple of miles, 5 miles, 10 miles, etc.  They didn’t suddenly run a marathon, which is 26 miles. In the same respect you have to chunk down your goals into bite-sized (whatever size works for you) steps until you can achieve your big goal.

Chunks don’t have to relate to each other and they don’t have to always increase, but they often do.  For example, a typical New Year’s goal is “to lose weight.”  If you want to lose 30 lbs. you won’t lose it in one day and maybe not in one year.   You want to chunk it into sub-goals and then chunk the sub-goals into smaller action items which are also chunks. Two major chunks of losing weight, sub-goals, are diet and exercise.

Diet Goal

Cakes – Copyright Stock Unlimited

If your first sub-goal is to adjust your diet, you might begin by cutting out eating cakes.  Then you might cut out ice cream.  Next you might cut out cookies.  Those are chunks- pieces of a larger item – in this case diet.  And diet is a piece of losing weight.

Exercise goal

Exercise – Copyright Stock Unlimited

Another sub-goal might be to exercise:  first 5 minutes a day, then 10 minutes, then 20 minutes, then 30 minutes, and then an hour a day.  Those are all chunks of the sub-goal exercise, which in itself is a chunk to the big goal of losing weight.

Diet and exercise may or may not be done together.  While you might focus on one and not the other, both diet and exercise are sub-goals of losing weight, and each of them could be broken down into smaller chunks to help you achieve the big goal of losing weight.

So the next time you have a goal, chunk it!

What’s your goal that you’re working on and what chunks did you create?

Comment below.



PS I have foot surgery on Tuesday, so I may take a little longer to respond to comments this week.


Have your Goals Already Derailed Off the Track?

Have your Goals derailed off track?

Have your Goals derailed off Track?                                                (Yes, it’s my village train.)


If you have already fallen off track, don’t be surprised.  It may be because it’s not the right time of year for you.  In fact I don’t really recommend you set goals at this time of year.  Why?

Why NOT to set goals in January

The main reason is because most goals are set at a New Year’s Eve party. So they aren’t really thought out. Instead they are a quick answer to someone’s question – “What’s Your New Year’s Goal?”  Answers like “Lose Weight” or “Make more money” or “Stop smoking” are typical.  Most of the time it’s not even a new goal; it’s a repeat of last year’s goal.


 Why is it often a repeat of last year’s goal?

  1. Chances are it’s repeated because it wasn’t accomplished last year.  So it’s the same goal.   …    In fact it’s probably been the same goal  for the past 10 years!   
  2. The other reason is because it’s the easiest response to give.  No thinking is necessary –and that’s the problem with New Year’s Eve goals. No thinking is necessary.  Being at a party is not the time to plan your goals.  You want to do this by yourself, when you are serious about what you really want to achieve and can set aside planning time to set realistic goals.

No Thinking is Necessary.

The second reason to not set goals in January is the weather.  Let’s think about January.  For most of the nation, it’s a very cold — think below freezing temps. It is also a very  dreary time of year.  That doesn’t conjure up a good time to sit and reflect about goals.  Goals should be something you desire and really want to achieve.  It’s hard to be energetic about achieving something when all you really want to do is sit by the fire, stay warm, and see the sun again!

Goals should be something you desire and really want to achieve.

So When is the best time for you to set goals?

The best time to set goals is not winter time for most people.   It is spring or fall, whichever makes you feel better.  Some people like spring because things are changing.  Birds are back and singing.  Red and yellow tulips reminds us that spring is here.  There may even be a spring to your step as you shed your winter coat and enjoy the beautiful colors of spring flowers.

Other people prefer Fall when the summer heat has disappeared and the cool air makes them feel more energized.  For them the changing colors of the leaves add splendor to the world and the cool, crisp air energizes their thoughts.

Winter Goals

Now there are people who do like to set winter goals.  For them it is a time to be alone with their thoughts.  They do some really serious thinking about their goals and their life because of the fact that they are indoors.  They find this time of year slower-paced and since they aren’t as busy, they can reflect on the past year and decide how they want this year to progress.

Samuel  (name changed) is one such person. He sells greeting cards.  His big season is the end of the year with holiday cards.  So once his sales are done, he has some time to kick back and seriously map out his goals for the coming year based on the past year’s performance. He is the perfect example of someone who relishes the quiet, indoor time of January and can set real goals now.  If you’re like Samuel, go ahead and set your goals in January.


So what time of year do you think would be best for you to set goals?  Are you truly a Winter goal setter?  Or should you be a Spring or Fall goal setter? I prefer Spring when I feel more energized and Fall as a second time for new goals.

Comment below and let me know.





How to Handle Gifts You Don’t Really Like

holiday gifts

Gifts can be all types of surprises!

The holidays, especially in December, usually involve gifting.  You take a gift to a relative’s house for them having you over for a holiday dinner.  Or you have a holiday dinner and you receive a bunch of gifts. And on Chanukah or Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate, you give and receive gifts.

Gifts are probably one of the hardest items to discard.  You feel like this gift was special – maybe it came from your Dear Uncle John who is no longer with us.  Or maybe it came from your child who made it when she was in kindergarten.  The fact that it no longer is “whole” because it has broken or fallen apart seems irrelevant.  Your child made it – you have to keep it no matter how it looks.

The question here is – “Do you?”   

The issue really came home for me when Aunt Babe made me a needlepoint tissue box.  It was designed for a square tissue box, which we did use in the small guest bathroom.   Since I didn’t have one, I know she thought she was being “really sweet” to make one for me.  And I know she probably spent a lot of time needlepointing it.  While I truly appreciated the thought and the work that went into making it;, I still didn’t like it.

One reason I didn’t like it was that it wasn’t easy to clean.  In fact it was impossible. And people with colds would keep the virus hanging onto the tissue box since I couldn’t exactly clean it with Lysol.  But the main reason I didn’t like it was the colors.  At the time our guest bathroom was brown and cream wallpaper.  The tissue box was pink and white.   It absolutely didn’t fit with the décor. In fact you could say it certainly did stand out — just in the wrong way.

What to do? ….  What to do??

If I didn’t use it, I knew my great aunt would be hurt.  She came over for holidays and birthday parties, but otherwise she didn’t just drop in because we lived on the other side of the city in the far northwest suburbs of Chicago.  Aunt Babe lived “in the city.”  We were probably a good hour drive apart.  Normally I would have donated something like this.  But I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.  So on every birthday or holiday that Aunt Babe and Uncle Abe joined us; I took the tissue box out.  I displayed it in the bathroom during those times, and I put it under the sink, hidden in the cabinet, when they weren’t there.

When Aunt Babe passed on, I did donate it.  Just like I had donated the foam fruit stuck with needles and beads from my grandmother.  Some “decorating ideas” from those years just weren’t my taste.  I’m sure at some time, somewhere, someone used them, but they were not for me.

Toss It Rules

My usual rules are:

If the sentiment isn’t worth it, or you dislike cleaning it; let it go.  

My second rule is:  If it isn’t whole, let it go.  (read broken).

The third rule is:  If you can take a picture and enjoy that; let it go.

However, in the case of special items, sometimes you want to  compromise and find a way to not hurt feelings.  Taking it out for special occasions when the person visits was worth sparing Aunt Babe’s feelings.

If you really can’t stand it, there’s always the “dog ate it” or the “kids broke it” excuse.  Hopefully you don’t have to “fib” and can just discard those things that don’t give you pleasure.  If you don’t enjoy it, why keep it?  I hope your holidays give you the gifts you really like.  (PS  Cash is always great for kids, especially since we rarely understand what they w ant.)


Leave a comment below.  What gift did you receive that you should discard but still have?

What are you going to do about it?


Happy Holidays,





Are your Fall Goals too Big?

 Did you set some goals for this quarter?

If so, how are you doing?

I’d love to know your organizing ones, please tell me what they are in the comments section.



Are you taking action on your goals?

If you feel you are not moving forward, a common reason is:

It is just too big!!!


What goal did you set?

In the Office –

Did you decide you are going to revamp your entire office?


In the Home –

Did you make a goal to clean the entire house?

Look at the goals – both are large containers that hold many items.


Cut the Clutter in your Office means:

  • Clear your desk – desktop AND drawers
  • Clear your overhead bins
  • Clear he cubicle walls
  • Clear your bookcases
  • Clear your file cabinet(s)  – how many cabinets do you have?
  • Clear your magazine holders.
  • Clear your computer
  • Clear your cell phone


Cut the Clutter in your Home means:

  • Clear your kitchen
  • Clear your bathroom
  • Clear your dining room
  • Clear your living room
  • Clear your master bedroom
  • Clear your kids’ bedrooms
  • Clear your guest room
  • Clear your den
  • Clear your craft room
  • Clear your home office
  • Clear your playroom
  • Clear your entry way
  • Clear your mud room
  • Clear your garage
  • Clear your shed
  • Clear your patio


As you can see, there are too many areas to be uncluttered in an “entire” office or house.

It becomes overwhelming and no one wants to tackle that much work, especially trying to do it all in one weekend.


So what can you do?

Break it down into small chunks.


If you are looking to do the office, you can see we have 8 areas.  You might think you could just divide that into 8 weeks and get it all done just in time for Jan. 1st.  Don’t fool yourself, they aren’t exactly even areas.

Depending on how many bookcases and file cabinets you have, that will be the bulk of work. But you probably can’t finish a four- drawer file cabinet in one day unless you are already extremely organized and maintain it.  And if you work in a corporate or non-profit environment, you probably can’t take an entire day off to do even one file drawer.   It all depends on how much you have saved and how organized you are.


If you did do a major cleaning out at one time and have maintained that organization, you may not have too much to declutter.  However, if you have never really cleaned out your files, it will take quite awhile.


And when it comes to the home, you can see we already have 12-15 possible rooms/areas to declutter.

And each room could probably be broken down into many sub-areas.  Again, it’s not possible to get it all done in one day unless you already did it once before and maintained it in excellent order.


So how can you get it all done?

Break it down into smaller chunks, bite-sized pieces

that you feel you could accomplish in one session and do it that way.

Energize Yourself – Jump Start your Fall Goals!




With so little time left in the year, ask yourself –


“How am I doing with my

Goals for 2016?”


There are 2 different ways to look at the rest of the year:


1. We are in the last 100 days.

Did you realize we are in the last 100 days of the year?

There is still a little less than 100 days to complete whatever your

New Year’s Resolutions were. That’s 1/3 of the year still to go and

plenty of time to get things done before the winter holidays.


2. The New Year starts this week.

The Jewish New Year starts now because it is the Fall Harvest.

The Jewish calendar revolves around the seasons, and starts in the fall.

If you are Jewish or not, would a new start, a new year, be good for you?


Whether you are considering it as a new beginning or completing 2016,

the cooler weather often brings about more energy than the summer

heat wave and will give you a much needed jump start

to doing more in the fall than you did in the hot summer weather.


So which is it for you –

  • the end of the year


  • the beginning of a new year?

Either outlook should push you forward with new momentum.


Jump past the summer heat and jump into the Fall energy!


What are the goals you are currently working on?  Let us know.

Organizing Your Car

Whether you’re going out to the store or taking that summer road trip, here’s some tips to organize your car, especially if you have children along.

1.  Toss the trash.

The first step to keeping your car organized is to keep it clean and always toss the trash. Every time you return home, empty the car from all the trash and it will stay clean.  If a child had a snack in the car, have them help you take the trash to a garbage can when they leave the car. Obviously if your child is too young, this will probably be your job, but you can start asking them to carry out their own trash after age 3.

Click here to Read More


Unusual Stress Reliever

I didn’t know this was going to be such a stress reliever, but I love it.  I have never been an audio learner; when I attend a seminar I can’t tell you what they said unless I look at my notes.  I am more of a visual learner, and maybe even kinesthetic.  I even underline items in a fictional book so I can go back to follow a family background or I would mark some philosophical statement a character would make.  So I did not believe audio books would hold my interest.

About a year ago I heard some audio books on Sirius Radio.  I really enjoyed listening to a variety of different stories.  Unfortunately, I didn’t drive in the car at the same time every day so I wasn’t always able to keep up with a whole book and was disappointed to be left hanging in the middle of a story.  (Sirius has since dropped that programming.)

One time we made a gas stop at a place called the Flying J on the way to California.  I saw audio books in the store.  I quickly chose two different ones to listen to in the car on the long drive.  Because it was not “learning” or non-fiction, the story lines held my interest and I didn’t really have to take notes to learn something.

Since then I have found myself addicted to driving with an audio book on.  I keep one in the car as much as possible.  I try to listen to series books by an author so I can just keep ordering them from the library and listen to each one in order.  In fact when my local library doesn’t have the next audio book I need, I get it sent from another branch to mine so I do not have to drive far to pick it up.  When I have only 1 or 2 more disks to an audio book, I order the next audio book in the series.  And, of course, some books are on mp3 format or can be played as e-audios on your tablet while you drive.

We’ve had a lot of medical issues in the past six months, me included where I suffered from November through the end of February before I had sinus surgery on all 8 sinuses and my husband has had one surgery and another one coming.   One of the ways I can relax is listening to audio books.  It’s an unusual organizing tip – but anything that can reduce your stress is well worth your time!

My best friend says it relieves her stress while driving stop and go for 40 minutes until she can get to work.  She arrives more peaceful than when she was just concentrating on traffic.  My two daughters have also taken up listening to audio books in the car.  If you haven’t tried this stress reliever, consider it.  It’s a great way to start and end your day.


M for Magazines


I was getting a free magazine.  I don’t even know where it came from, but it has been coming these past few months.  I didn’t sign up for a subscription; they just showed up in the mail box.

Since it came, I naturally put them aside and thought I’d read them.  Unfortunately all they have been doing is piling up.  I have no real interest to read them.  It occurred to me that I should give them to my daughter who can take them to her office where patients might want to read them.    And when the next issue comes, I’ll look for my account number on the plastic wrap and call them and unsubscribe.

You may have even subscribed to magazines you are not reading.  If you are, look inside the cover and call the subscription department and unsubscribe.  Do not let them talk you into “six more months for free”.  I did that once too.  They just piled up.   If you have some piles in your home, just donate them to a doctor’s office or take them to your local library who also sells them in their book corner.



Traveling for vacation – Plan it out!

We had a large (20 people) family vacation that I organized for a major birthday. To say that planning was involved would be a complete understatement.  There was planning the “hotel” reservations (actually timeshares) for everyone – which was tricky enough to find a place where we all could stay.  Then there was the usual car rentals and flight reservations.

This was far from a “let’s just take it easy vacation” to more of a “let’s plan it all” vacation. We really had to plan because we went to Disneyworld.  Pre-reading really gave us some great tips, like checking out sites for various things like crowd calendars, where to find discount tickets, and dining options.

The last time I went to Disneyworld my children were probably 8 and 10.  In 20 years things have changed, and there are more international visitors too!  Back then we just wandered around from one exhibit to the next.  Now we had to plan what rides we could go on based on very young children’s heights, and then actually decide which ones were more important to get Fast Passes (new Disney system to get into a faster lane thru “time reservations”.)

 For Disney trips

Then there was the online planning through the My Disney Experience app and touring plans app which tracked our dinner reservations, sent reminder messages,  and even told us line wait times for various rides.  I liked the old days of just walking around.  But planning dining reservations seemed to be a must  if you didn’t want to wait hours to eat!

General Vacation Organizing Tips

Because there was so much just from everyone’s timeshare reservation, car rentals, plane flights, crowd calendars, weather, dining reservations,  etc.; I actually found that using a notebook with plastic/vinyl dividers helped to organize all the aspects of the trip.

For your summer vacation, be sure to plan – between reading books, Excel spreadsheets, a binder, and apps, it took all resources to plan this trip, and there was still things we didn’t do.  Don’t forget the raincoat and sweatshirt!  Mother Nature doesn’t care about your plans; she changes her mind –  it was cold and rainy some days.  Oh, and don’t forget the medical phone numbers and meds, we still had to order meds due to new problems.  Planning helps, but the unexpected happens.



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