HeartWork Organizing

Helping you find peace and purpose through organization and design

Home Office In a Closet March 28, 2012

I was talking to a friend about this particular transformation, and realized it had never made it to the blog, so here you go.  For those of you who work at home, you can have a super-functional and pretty office, in just about 30″ of space (deep).


how to have a home office in a closet


How to have a home office in a closet

What would you accomplish if your office was this pretty?


My Paperless Office, 2012 February 9, 2012

Filed under: Business Organizing,Organizing — HeartWork Organizing @ 2:00 pm

Remember tech month back in 2011?  That was when I took on the challenge of posting about some of your everyday tech challenges, and started using the NeatDesk scanner.

With my NeatDesk, I scan cards, make needed notes, correct any info not scanned properly, keep the image in the pc database, and then sync with outlook and then my iPad so I always have all of my contacts.  I also sync with ACT so I can queue clients and vendors into different schedules and follow up actions.

The NeatDesk scans receipts for export to accounting programs and scans other docs to PDFs for storage.  I’m looking forward to scanning magazine pages for design ideas, industry articles, and maybe even recipes.

My Progress on the Paperless Office

So how much have I gone paperless with?  From left to right in the photo above:

1.  The box of cards has been completely scanned, but I’m still keeping the paper for now.

2. The stack of receipts was scanned, but I haven’t done anything else with them just yet.

3.  The stack of bank deposits in the middle?  I chucked those.  I mean shredded.  You know.

4. The stack of design ideas is still on my desk.

5.  The NAPONEWS issues were recycled.  Really.  I didn’t have time to do more than brief through them when they were published years ago.  I do not have the time to rip them apart and scan them today!

6.  And that little mystery stack next to my phone?  Most of that has been eliminated by turning them into to-dos on my Evernote to do list.  But we’ll see if I ever completely get rid of it.  I know you are smiling about that, but it’s the truth.  😉

My Review of the Neat Scanner

Neat started publicizing an update to their software, which is an integrated part of their scanner, late last year.  I was able to download the version 5 update and am THRILLED with it.  After the software upgrade, we saw about a 600% increase in scanning productivity.  Almost all of my business cards are now entered, which was my original goal for this whole project.  I’ve been able to get the Neat database to sync with Outlook 2010 and feed through to ACT.  This is all important for my business, and makes and future trade shows, conferences, and seminars where I am picking up business cards so much more fruitful.

I’ve been involved in “cloud” computing for decades, first at my former employer, then as a professional organizer constantly answering the question, “When can I take my home/office paperless?”   The hype was always bigger than the capabilities.  Up until this year, I considered all but a few clients who were trying to go paperless just plain reckless.  The input was clunky, the OCR was awful, and backup solutions were usually completely absent.

Neat is starting to solve the first problem, and input is no longer clunky.

The OCR improvement that I saw with the last release is remarkable.  Is it still not perfect, especially when there are tricky fonts and logos involved, but it was really much improved.

Backup, Backup, Backup the Paperless Office

The one piece that is still feeling like the Wild West to me is the backup solution.  Yes, backup is a HUGE part of the paperless office. In fact, just this week there was a discussion amongst professional organizers nationwide about how a cloud backup solution can go wrong.  Many small business and home office users are not technology experts, and I know that not enough of them have a solid backup and recovery solution in place.  I would love for Neat to buy or partner with a backup company to make the backend of home computing a non-issue for clients who really want to rely on a scanning solution. I simply don’t believe that our home PC systems are sturdy enough to hold all of our data.  In fact, I experienced a catastrophic failure three years ago, and a huge risk point just this last year when I upgraded my system.

It’s not a matter of if, but when your computer will crash.  So I recommend on site AND offline backups for homeowners, and off-site, monitored backups for business owners.

There is a lot of chatter about the latest tech, like smartphone apps to snap business card pictures and Evernote’s awesome OCR and storage capabilities.  The smart phone apps let you take pictures of cards and try to do the same thing, but this is pretty sophisticated stuff, and I have a hard time believing the apps are as accurate or robust. I did have a chance to try the CardMunch app this week with a client, and it worked well for light duty (one card at a time) scanning from a smart phone.  Pitted against these free products, it’s tough to justify the price tag for Neat for the casual user.  But for a home office and a home based business user, I believe that the support and commitment to upgrades at Neat justify the cost.  I would love to see Neat address their solution compared to the free apps, and I would LOVE to see tighter integration with Evernote.

Neat Scanner Competition

Neat’s strong competitor is the Fujitsu Scansnap.  Both manufacturers have Mac options.  I don’t own this product, but can report that many of my professional organizer peers have had positive reviews, and especially love the tight integration with Evernote.

This is the first time ever I now feel confident enough about the tools, because they’ve improved that much, to recommend a small business really moving toward paperless records.  Converting to a paperless office is neither painless nor automagic, but it is an improvement over paper piles.

Other cloud applications to watch or use if you are moving to a paperless life:

Google contacts

Google docs


Apple cloud

Is Neat Worth the Real Estate?

I’m right in the middle of an office redesign- for myself this time!  I had to decide whether I was going to give the Neat Desk scanner precious real estate on my desk top.  You’ll see it for yourself in an upcoming post, but I did decide that the Neat Desk gets to stay on my desk, just within arm’s reach.  I’m starting to be very fond of this little gadget.  I may not be paperless, but I’m getting to less paper, for sure.


Get Organized. How Long and How Much Will It Take? January 5, 2012

Filed under: Business Organizing,Organizing — HeartWork Organizing @ 6:40 pm
Tags: , , ,

There are three questions everyone wants to know about my projects:

How long did it take?

Did they keep it looking fabulous after you left?

How much did it cost?

It’s the New Year, and everyone wants a fresh start, so I thought you would just love to see this little project that a client and I completed between Christmas and the New Year.  His goal was to clear out the space so he could do something with it, maybe create a much needed home office office down the road.

Knowing that paper takes the longest to organize, we contracted to go through the paper and purge unwanted furniture and items.

This is a third floor bedroom/dormer space that was already finished, but being used to store tubs of paper and household cast-offs.  This picture shows just half of it.

Organize a home office

Here’s the other half.

So how long did it take to get this organized? Remember, there are five steps to getting organized (as always, with a nod to Julie Morgenstern’s great book, Organizing From the Inside Out):

  1. Sort
  2. Purge
  3. Arrange/Analyze remaining items
  4. Containerize
  5. Establish a maintenance plan

We planned on spending about 8 hours, and we spent about two hours longer than that.  And that is only because we went shopping, bought a new desk and file cabinet, and put them together. The client got way more than he bargained for!  Here they are, on day 2, the final day of the project.

Organizing a home office

And the other side of the room. You can see the new file cabinet hiding back in the corner. Yes, the client went through all the paper that you see in the before photos, and what didn’t get shredded or recycled got divvied up into the three small but sturdy drawers. There was a lot of recycling out at the curb the next day.

Organizing a home office

And to help with containerizing, we added two bookcases,

and we reset the bookcase that was already there.

Now this office really works. And we did all of this, just the two of us, in just a few hours over two days. So that answers the first question.

Will he keep it fabulous and organized now?  Probably.  He now has places to put household papers, his own personal paper retention guidelines, and a real desire to use this space for work instead of storage.  Most of all, he has systems with the file cabinet, the bookcases that store books, and the one bookcase that holds his office and teaching supplies.

And how much did it cost?  Well, in round numbers, it was around a thousand bucks for the services and the new furniture.  My organizing projects themselves start at $350.  This guy will probably deduct all of this as a business expense.  Smart move.

He said to me, “We got more done in 4 hours than I have gotten done up here in the last 5 years.”

Aw, shucks, that’s what I love to hear!

I hope this gives you some real inspiration for your winter organizing project.

What space are you ready to tackle?


Forget Resolutions: Do This One Thing and Sleep Easier January 2, 2012

Filed under: Business Organizing,Financial Organizing,Organizing — HeartWork Organizing @ 1:53 pm
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How to store tax files for 2012And, by the way, forget the resolutions.  Who ever thought up that idea, anyway?

But here is one thing you can do in three minutes or less that can make a real difference for you this year.  Not kidding.  Right now.  Read this, and then run to find your nearest file folder, oversized envelope, or empty box.  Yes, you can even repurpose a gift box if you need to.

Use any box, file, or envelope you have for tax files

Label this folder, oversized envelope, or gift box with a thick, dark marker:  TAXES, 2011.

Set this folder, envelope, or box aside in your home office, or near where you process your mail.  If you share your home, let your spouse know where this is and what it is for.  Start filling it with items you might need to file your taxes this year.  You’ll start gettting these items in mid-January, possibly through February.  You might already have a few receipts or pages to add right now.  But if not, you’ll find them over the next few weeks.  When you find stuff that is or might be tax related, just pop it in here without worrying about organizing it.  Get something in email that you might need?  Save your sanity today by actually printing it out and popping it in the safe spot you just created.  Do you run a small, disorganized business from home?  Start pulling all of your records together now, and you’ll have what you need come crunch time.

Important tax records include W2’s, 1099’s, receipts for charitable gifts and donations, 529 records (contributions or expenses), end of year banking statements, refinance records, energy-saving home improvement records from the past year, and, of course, any unreimbursed work expenses.  If you aren’t sure whether it might be tax-related, pull out last year’s (2010) tax return and use that as a guide.

Don’t organize this stuff until you get ready to prepare your taxes; you are weeks away from that.  Right now, you are just trying to corral the little buggers that you’ll need for your 1040.

There.  Done.  You’re all organized, and it’s only day 2 of the new year.  Good for you!



Copyright (c) <a href=’http://www.123rf.com’>123RF Stock Photos</a>


How to Remove a Hard Drive December 29, 2011

Filed under: Business Organizing,Organizing,Tech — HeartWork Organizing @ 2:00 pm

If you are about to recycle or donate a desktop or laptop computer, watch this video first and learn how to remove your hard drive.

Remove Hard Drive

Even if you want to donate your computer to a refurbishing organization, remove and destroy the hard drive, because sensitive personal data CAN be retrieved from a hard drive that has been erased by a magnet or a software program.

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos


How to Decorate an Office for the Holidays December 15, 2011

Filed under: Business Organizing,One Day Interior Redesigns — HeartWork Organizing @ 1:22 pm
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Decorating an office for the holidays

If you want to stick with traditional, use on hand materials to customize office decorations.

Decorating an office for the holidays can put co-workers, employees and customers in festive spirits without feeling commercialized.  You can use these same tricks to make your home decorating beautiful and personal.  I like to keep it as green as possible, as affordable as possible, customized, and classic.  Click here for the full article on how to decorate your office this year, or use these same easy principles to decorate for any holiday.

Decorating for Holidays beyond red and green

You can step outside traditional red and green to create custom decorating themes for an office.

Whatever you do to decorate your office, enjoy this opportunity to share a bit of your own style for the holidays.

This post originally published in About One.





Why Women Do What We Do: Praise for The Pregnant Entrepreneur December 8, 2011

Filed under: Business Organizing,General,Organizing — HeartWork Organizing @ 1:52 pm

Holidays are upon us.  For most people I’ve talked to, things are crazier than ever.  It’s easy to get caught up in the craziness, or to feel overwhelmed by it.  I was having drinks with some  gal pals last night, all extraordinary models of moms in action.  These are the kinds of women who keep the world running quietly in the background for the rest of us. It got me thinking about why we all, especially moms, take on so many roles and activities.

Why I Run Two Businesses

Last year at this time, I was working on the finishing touches for my first book.  The Pregnant Entrepreneur was published this year, and has been a great way for me to offer even more assistance to women and families.  If you wonder about how and why it came about, please read the Pregnant Entrepreneur book review by Nicolette Milholland, Book Bound columnist.  This book isn’t about me, but rather it’s for the next woman who needs to know how to get through nine months with her businesses, finances and dignity intact.

cover for Pregnant Entrepreneur

I’m very proud that the book was well received by professional reviewers, including Midwest Book Review, who said this about it.  “Pregnancy doesn’t mean you stop being a businesswoman. “The Pregnant Entrepreneur” is an advisory guide for the recently expecting businesswoman who realizes her endeavors aren’t going to stop for nine months while she deals with the newest entry into her life. From making it so your business runs well when you need to take your leave, to coming back after this tough endeavor, “The Pregnant Entrepreneur” is a strongly recommended business preparation guide for those expectant mothers.”

They Called Me a Mama Mogul!

And the national parenting magazine Pregnancy and Newborn mentioned it in their October issue. Pregnant Entrepreneur in national magazinePregnant Entrepreneur in national maternity magazine

Who Cares About Pregnant Entrepreneurs?

So it turns out that one of the biggest criticisms of my book is that it is marketed too narrowly.  Women who have read it say it provides a lot of good information about staying organized and running a business, even if you aren’t pregnant.  Thankfully, that’s the kind of criticism I can take more of.  If you feel like you just need more entrepreneur stuff and less pregnant, please  go right to www.PregnantEntrepreneur.com and look at the Downloads section.  I’ve published all of the appendixes in the book for everyone to grab, for free.  Yes, even the guys can use some of these tools.

Why Do You Do What You Do?

One of the best pieces of organizing advice ever given is to start with a goal in mind.  Even my hardest case ADD/ADHD clients are excellent at something.  They, and all of us, tend to excel where we feel most motivated and energized.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE to help people get organized because they can accomplish so much more when they aren’t spinning in an overwhelmed state.  I LOVE to help people beautify their homes and offices, because life truly is better when you have a safe, beautiful place to unwind and be with friends. And I love to help other women figure out how to be successful in business.  Because I truly love all these things, I love to spend my time on them, and I get a lot done.

Pay attention to when you are most energized, most animated, and most satisfied.  Chances are, if you can line up your interest, talents and energies, you have a winning combination.

Why do you do what you do?  What would you do if you didn’t have obstacles?  Or if I’ve helped you in some way, what were you able to accomplish when you stopped the “spinning”?

By the way, if there is a woman in your life you are trying to encourage, this might be a good resource for her.  There is still time to order autographed copies as a gift.  Just visit www.PregnantEntrepreneur.com today to place your order (or visit Amazon).