HeartWork Organizing

Helping you find peace and purpose through organization and design

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

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


Overwhelmed at Work? Read This. November 10, 2011

Filed under: Business Organizing — HeartWork Organizing @ 2:48 pm
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This week I received this gem in an email from a client, who said, “I’m concerned because I actually  may have more work coming in than is possible to deal with in a 40 hour work week; when I’m out for a day, things quickly spiral out of control and that’s frustrating.”

Ever feel like this is your story?  I’ve seen statistics stating the average worker has about 40 hours of work on their desk.  And we know you aren’t average.

Overwhelmed by paper or information

If this is your situation, when you run up against a few days of disaster (and you will) when you are sick, must travel, have a major deadline project placed on your desk, or (gasp!) take vacation, then you can feel even more out of control. Any time you get behind, you are likely to get really behind because you are already carrying a heavy workload.

So how do organized people cope?  They develop systems to help manage daily work so when overwhelm happens, they can rely on their systems to take care of the regular stuff, while they can focus on the extraordinary for a while.  Good systems include a good planner that incorporates a highly functional calendar, 80/20-based to do list, contact list, and projects.

This is where a diet metaphor comes in handy.  Even if you don’t diet, it’s a good metaphor.  Just because I’m going to eat
more than a healthy share of sweets on, say, my birthday doesn’t mean I can’t also eat the good stuff…well rounded meals and plenty of veggies and fruits.  In other words, I’m not going to blow my entire day by ONLY eating junk.  I’m  going to eat well and pack a few extra calories with the goodies.  In other words, organized people keep doing the good stuff.  But at the first sign of anxiety and overwhelm,  instead of reaching for chocolate (or in our work owrld, facebook, IM and other distractions), they do one more thing on the top of their prioritized to do list instead.  Keep doing the good, even if you do a little bit of the not so good.

If you get behind for any reason, it can start to feel really out of  control, but it’s really not.  Usually, a day or so of focused work, and possibly even some overtime, will allow you to get back in control.  I don’t mean to say just work harder and things will be OK, but if you’ve got extra work for a short period of time, you may have to just buckle down and plow through it.

If you absolutely can’t dig yourself out and your workload is unsustainable, it’s making you sick, and you can’t find time for the things that make you happy in life beyond your paycheck, then you need to start building your case to delegate some work or bring in reinforcements (an assistant, someone to split your job with, or a professional organizer to improve your workflow and highlight inefficiencies). If you are working at capacity and the department or company is suffering, the professional thing to do is to discuss the workload with your boss.  Acting like there isn’t a problem – if you are working at capacity – won’t make it go away,
and will ultimately reflect badly on him or her.  Bosses hate that.  The worst case is he ignores you, and the best case is that he does something to help you (like telling you some things you think are high priority are really low priority, yippee!).  This is sort of like asking for a raise, but usually has a MUCH higher probability of a better outcome.

So if your overwhelming situation at work is a new, short term experience, be sure you have good systems in place to stay organized, even when chaos hits.  If you are living in a constant state of overwhelm, start thinking about strategies to discuss the situation with your boss or bring in additional resources to your small business if you are self-employed.  Clearing your desk and calling your job done at the end of the day just doesn’t happen anymore.

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos


Why I Love / Hate my IPad September 29, 2011

Filed under: Business Organizing,Organizing,Tech — HeartWork Organizing @ 4:21 pm
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I call my iPad my third child because it requires so much of my attention. But like a child, I have moments of frustration and moments of utter adoration. In case you are considering investing in one, I hope my top five reasons to love it or hate it will help you.

As of June 11, there were 25M iPads sold.  I was shocked to learn that about 5% of the US population owns one.  They are still the dominant player in the tablet market.


Why I Hate my iPad

1. I’ve only had the thing for about a year, and I’ve had all of my data and settings deleted by the first software update, had to have the unit replaced twice completely, and have to reload all settings each time. Good Lord!
2. I am really getting tired of cleaning this glass all the time! I found a non-glare film at The Five Below store for, get this, $5, when they typically sell between $20 and $40.
3 The audio isn’t anything to write home about. It is not audible in the car without exterior speakers or a headset, which isn’t ideal for young kiddos.
4. I’ll admit it, I am a PC. I am slowly learning entirely new ways to interact with the software, and all of the Excel look-alike programs that I’ve tried so far just don’t allow me to do what I need to do.
5. No Flash??? C’mon, Apple, get this fixed. Still at least once a day, usually with a client, I end up at a site that says, “you must download flash to view this site,” as if it is just taunting me. C’mon, I can’t view the DISNEY site, for Pete’s sake?????  (That’s been fixed, now, as companies have been forced to redesign their sites to allow mobile and iPad users unfettered access.  Looks like Flash is on its way out.)
Did I say five? Uh, oh.
6. The new iPad2??? The one with the camera, rather two cameras? This would seriously make my life easier, but not for another $800. I’m stuck with the stinky old iPad original.  Now I understand why Apple stock is still considered a buy.
7. This thing is seriously addictive. With a push of a button, it’s awake and working. Unfortunately, humans are not designed as well, and having this thing in the house makes it hard to get a good night’s sleep, hence the 3rd child analogy.
8. I imagine that future generations of humans will evolve to have tiny hands, like the T-Rex, to be able to manipulate our increasingly miniature and sensitive keyboards.  When you get a heavily typo-laden post or email from me, please assume it was written on my iPad.

Why I Love my iPad

1. OOOh, seriously sexy. Light. Portable. Long battery life. Beautiful photo gallery. Wait, is that one point or four? It’s all part of the Apple experience, so I’m not sure. But I did gain a couple of cool points when I started using it for my business.
2. There’s an app for that. I only have a relative few number of apps, and I have to admit that none have been life changing just yet. But it will happen. I’m hoping to learn to play the piano on this baby. But I have used it as a flashlight/nightlight while wandering a dark house looking for snacks while my family sleeps.
3. I only own one movie, but there have been times when The Aristocats have saved my bacon. Even though my kiddos are not allowed to touch, or even breath on, my iPad, I do use the movie and certain podcasts to my advantage.
4. Since I refused to pay the monthly $30 surcharge, I never did get a smart phone. This data plan is much better at only $14/ mo, and I am much more comfortable reading my mail and everything else on a big screen.
5. The main reason I wanted the iPad was to be able to carry my professional photo portfolio with me. At nearly 10,000 photos, it’s definitely the way to go. I do miss the ability to quickly click on the individual file, since you have to scroll through all the albums and their images to arrive at particular shots. But wait, this is the love-it list. I do love it, but I’m looking forward to the iPad3, which I hope will fix the downside of these user problems.

Are you ready to shell out for an iPad?  If you already have one, could you ever learn to live without it?