Office Organization

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.



List it!

Like any other project with a definite deadline, I planned ahead. After 3 months of antibiotics not working, I am having sinus surgery this Tuesday.  Surgery might be outpatient, but it still means rearranging things.

First, I made a list of the things that needed to be done before surgery.  I like to list Business in the left-hand column and Personal in the right-hand column on a paper pad about 5×8.  The idea of writing it down vs. putting it on the computer Task List seems to help me when I’m under tight deadlines.  I think it’s the visual in me that says I need to SEE the List and writing vs. typing seems to reinforce it in my head.

It also helps to take into account results – i.e. I know I won’t be able to bend down or lift much for several weeks, so adding to the list of things to do was Clean the House on Sunday.  (Mission accomplished.)  That included another important item – clean the whole bed – washing the blanket and comforter as well as the sheets for maximum health (no sneezing germs still around).

Of course it also means preparing for the day of surgery – choosing button-down clothes, reviewing pre-surgery information and picking up pain pills.

I know I won’t feel like doing much the day of surgery, or days after, so I will want some distractions besides watching TV.  I created a third list – Bedside Setup.   I like to listen to audio books so I chose several to put on the night table along with a CD player and Radio Shack speaker (will not want to wear headphones with ice packs on my face.)  Plus I am adding some print books to read and my tablet (need full charge) to read emails or look up anything.   Though I just realized as I am writing this that wearing glasses may not be comfortable for a day or two.  (Guess TV series catch-up might not happen.)

So in essence, there are 3 lists:  Business, Personal and Preparation.  Your Preparation might be for an upcoming business trip, meeting, or just preparing for tomorrow.   As a former Girl Scout Leader = Be Prepared.

What’s on your To Do List?

Do you also need to be Prepared?


PS  I’m not prepared for my husband to take care of me.    I’ve always had to take care of his health issues – should be interesting.


2014 – Time to Get Organized

One of the top goals people set for 2014 is:

“This year I am going to get organized.”   

That may be a very large goal that could take all year to accomplish.  So how do you get started?

There are several ways to becoming better organized.

1.  Do it on your own.

Maybe you are good at organizing items.  Your problem may be making the time to do it.  The first step is to break the goal down into smaller parts.

Next, set aside a certain amount of time each week to organize.  When you organize for an hour or less, you barely get started before you are done. And the next time it is as if you are starting over by reviewing what you have done before you can continue.   The longer you can work in one stretch, like 2-4 hours, the more you will accomplish.  Try setting aside longer blocks of time to accomplish more faster, especially if what you want to organize is a large job like your whole office.

2.  Add more knowledge

You may have some organizing ideas, but may not feel you know enough to really get organized.  Reading a book written by a productivity expert can boost your knowledge and make the job easier because someone else has suggested what to do.  This knowledge may kickstart your own ideas on how to personalize your organizational needs.  (Organizing For Dummies® does give many detailed tips about getting organized.)


3.  Get professional help by hiring a productivity expert.

Many people can organize their home but can’t organize their office or their files.  A productivity expert can help you get better organized because I have systems to help streamline your organization and can customize it specifically to your needs.  Sometimes hiring an expert is the best and fastest route because it will get done quickly.  (In fact, I needed to talk to a tech expert this week when my internet would not connect and my basic knowledge of restarting my router and modem did not solve the problem.)


Are you ready to get organized this year?

Which method will work best for you considering your time is valuable?

Happy 2014!


What are your goals?

It is the end of 2013 – time to evaluate the past year and set new goals. Your goals could be in any of these areas:

  •   Business / Career
  •   Education           
  •   Family
  •   Financial
  •   Home
  •   Personal
  •   Physical               
  •   Religious /Spiritual
  •   Social


If you set goals in 2013, think about the past year:

  • Which goals did you accomplish?
  • Which ones did you not achieve?
  • Which ones do you want to stop doing?


Now write down your 2014 goals.  People who write them down (vs. keeping them “in the back of their mind”)achieve them.  When you write your goals down,  you make a commitment to yourself. 


For 2014, 

  • What new goals do you want to set?
  • Which goals do you want to keep doing or renew?

Set your goals and keep your targets in sight.


Happy New Year!








Holiday Travel Time

Many of you will be traveling for Thanksgiving or the holidays so you will understand this blog.  I just returned from 2 weeks of visiting family in 3 different states.  We wanted to go in October before it got really cold, but one set of relatives lives in Union City TN where they just opened Discovery Park of America  on November 1st  (worth checking out – 50 acre museum).   I checked the weather for all 3 states and told my husband it was going to be cold.  For some reason he thought a drop from 90’s and 80’s in Arizona to 50’s and 40’s in VA, TN and MO didn’t warrant more than a windbreaker.   He ended up borrowing  a heavier jacket until we shopped for a new one -and gloves! (Of course he owns at least 6 heavy jackets, but they were all staying toasty warm in the closet at home!)  And you know he only brought 1 pair of shoes for 2 weeks, but he lived with that oversight.


I wasn’t sure just what to pack for the trip either.  Should I take heavy winter clothes like for Jan or Feb or would November be the “fall” in-between weight?  I decided the best choice was to bring both short and long sleeves as well as sweaters to layer so I could swing either way.  After all once you live in warm weather all year, you forget whether 50’s and 40’s is cool or freezing to you.  (The answer is “freezing” when you drop 30 degrees– even if it isn’t below  the traditional freezing temp of 32 degrees outside!)


Quick Packing Tips:


Check the 10-day forecast for each destination.  You can even print the forecast so you know what days to wear your warmest clothes.


Pack sweaters to layer

The weather can change on your trip and your closet is at home.  Packing sweaters will help extend your wardrobe and keep you warm in cold restaurants during summer weather.


Keep gloves in every coat.

Left gloves at home in a warmer coat?  Keep a pair in each coat and never leave home again without them.


Bring a change of shoes

Give your feet a break.  Pack dress, casual/walking, and gym shoes.  Then change shoes and your feet will feel better.


Keep a packed bag of cosmetics/toiletries in small sizes.

The easiest way to forget something is to not pack it.  Having a bag of travel toiletries already packed means everything is there.  Just replace items when you return from a trip – or add one like adding an extra small can of shaving cream for the next trip in case the first one runs out.  Even buy a second hairbrush – better to have one in the suitcase than not have one!  That’s one item that is easy to forget, you use it that morning and then it doesn’t get packed!  (You know I had to buy one at an airport once and my hair just didn’t turn out as good as when I use my regular hairbrush.)


Pack some underwear and at least a shirt change in your carry-on – just in case.

We took a “bump” to get a free ticket when the airline overbooked.  It was only a 5-hour delay, but if it had been an overnight bump, our luggage would have been there without us.  If your plane has unforeseen mechanical failure or your luggage is lost, having a change of clothes will feel really good when they put you up in a hotel! 


Tag your luggage and your carry-on pieces.

Use both an ID tag with your name and address as well as some type of colored identifier – like colored shoe laces.  It makes it easier to identify your luggage at airports and hotels.


Have a safe and fun Thanksgiving!

Computer Organization

clip artMy computer is back from the store tonight where it has been for 9 days.  They said it was not a warranty problem but I needed my operating system redone – for a charge not covered by the warranty. of course. So now I have to download all my programs again, and they didn’t really say anything was wrong -a few registry problems.   Couldn’t even duplicate the problems I had – i.e. blue lines on screen, computer freezing, etc.

The desktop looks nice without all those icons – and yes, that’s one of my organizing rules – no documents on the desktop – just frequently used program icons, but it seems like there were still 2 columns of icons.

I don’t recall all the programs I need back on here.   It’s easy to come up with the basics – Microsoft  Office and Outlook, but then there are others like my video program, Camtasia,  Drop Box, antivirus programs, malware programs, back-up programs, camera programs, etc.  What other icons did I have?  Do I really need the C drive?

The one good thing is that I created a password list in Excel that I could easily refer to.  That list reminded me of what programs need to be re-installed.    Of course, Windows Update will probably be running all night.  I have 153 updates to do.  Wow.  Guess I need to hop to bed and let it get started.

Lesson to be garnered here:

Lesson 1:  Make a password list and refer to the list to know what programs you need to re-install.  Don’t install programs you haven’t been using.

Lesson 2: Clear the desktop by limiting the icons.  Do you need 3 icons about your printer?  Will you really order your ink supplies direct  from HP or somewhere else?

Do you need shortcuts to programs you don’t use but came with the machine  (those were the first ones I deleted and uninstalled!)

Lesson 3:  Do not save documents on the desktop – put them in My Documents.  Spend extra seconds to get them organized in folders and not scattered on the desktop.

We spend too much time on the computer these days.  The first place to start is to organize the programs and desktop.  It’s much more pleasant to actually see your desktop!

Next –  onto organizing the electronic file folders!

Happy Organizing!

Every Choice (Decision) has Pros and Cons

It died; and the time to make decisions was thrust upon us.  When making a major decision – business or home –begin with a list of the pros and cons.  And often you have to weight the list because all items are not equal.

You wouldn’t think organization was going to play a major role in choosing an appliance, but it really does.  The repairman said it was not worth replacing the condenser because the refrigerator was too old.

I started with a list of Pros and Cons, with a little obvious weight decision (use a scale of 1-10).  What is important to you with 10 being very important.

Top freezer

Pro – Freezer items are on 2 shelves and at eye level.                                            9 in my book

Con – No outside water/ice maker for quick drinks.                                      10+ for me – I refill ice at least 6x to keep water cold

Notice the Con here weighs more (scale of 1-10) than the Pro.  This is very important as this would be my top choice, but I refill my water glass more than 8 x a day because I like very cold water.


Side by Side

Pro –  Lots of small shelves in both refrigerator and freezer.                                        8 -more organized = easier to find

Con – Can never have large items that really need 2 of these shelves to go across                 10+ for me

OK if you aren’t the one who makes the family holiday dinners or parties)


Bottom Freezer

Pro – Don’t have to bend for everyday items from refrigerator.                                                       5

Plenty of space for large items for dinner parties.                                                                    10+

Con – Items piled in bottom sections – hard to see what you have.                                               2


My personal preference is still the Top freezer.  I like to be at eye height and have 2 shelves for separation. I had a Side-by-Side, and every time there was a family gathering, it was hard to put in large items, especially entrees — so I had kept an old top freezer in the garage with the larger refrigerator shelves.


Start with Elimination:

I eliminated the Top freezer because of the ice maker.

Then I eliminated the Side-by-Side because of the lack of wide space for large items.


As much as I did not like the idea of digging for buried treasure in the Bottom freezer, I felt it was my best choice to have the large shelves in the refrigerator section.

Comparing Bottom Freezers.  The major companies now make more choices than just 2 bottom bins.

You can get an extra top pull out section with 1 or 2 drawers (some have extra ice makers/bins).  This means the bottom bins are not quite so deep and helps separate more items for better organization.

You can also get a wide pull-out shelf that has little depth but useful for large items like pizza or small frozen items like packages of corn, frozen peas, hot dogs, etc.  This pizza area comes built into some doors putting the pizza in sideways – top to bottom – but I am not sure what other items could go there.)

Having both a top section with 2 more drawers, the pizza middle shelf and less in the bottom 2 “pile” bins, ended up being the best choice.  I still dislike the piles of food – but the top 2 drawers help it be more organized and less of a pile.  BTW, we rarely have pizza – that slide out tray is useful for other items like flat frozen foods.


Another decision – The extra refrigerator/freezer in the garage is old and will one day die, so a larger unit in the house would mean I might not need to replace the one in the garage.   Decision – buy the largest refrigerator to eventually have only 1 refrigerator/freezer.

Once bought, there are new decisions – what goes where based on shelves and door bins. Decisions, decisions.

Happy decision making.




Back to School – Everything in its Place

Your student needs to be organized for the new school year.               MPj04394030000[1]

Here are some quick tips for getting a better start:



Quiet Zone

Have a place for your student to study that is quiet and free from distractions.  TV, music, electronic games and noise take away from concentration.   While students may have to share a computer, a separate desk for each child will make their study time easier.  Each child will have different homework and different organizational needs depending on their grade and how much they accomplish at school.



Help your child with a paper calendar as well as an online calendar.  Visually seeing activities on dates will help them stay on schedule.



Establish as many routines as possible – study time, dinner time, practice time, break time, bedtime, etc.



Many students understand time better with an analog clock (hands) than a digital clock.  Consider investing in one for each student’s room.


Clothes Closet

Help students organize their clothes closet so they can dress faster in the morning for school.  Put like with like and keep shirts, pants, dresses and shoes together.


Landing Place

Have a place for backpacks and bags to be ready to go to school.   You might also include a coat rack for quickly grabbing coats, hats, gloves, or sweaters  as well as umbrellas or snow boots.



Create “bags” – sports bag, scout bag, dance bag – for each child to keep the items they need for those activities like special clothes, shoes or books.  Some large equipment like musical instruments or golf clubs may not be in this location but in the garage.  Always return items to the same place every time the student comes home – unless it is going in the wash!


Library Books

Establish a place for library books – from the school or public library.  The student can take the book somewhere else in the house, but must return it to that spot after using it that night – even if it isn’t due for 2 more weeks!  You will be more likely to see that it needs to be returned than if library books are kept in each student’s room.


Congrats on helping your students!

Need more help now?  see Take Action File + Student File System under the Products page.

More to come on that shortly.



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