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).

Before:

how to have a home office in a closet

After:

How to have a home office in a closet

What would you accomplish if your office was this pretty?

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10 Ways to Go PaperLess March 15, 2012

Filed under: Organizing — HeartWork Organizing @ 2:00 pm
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If I had a nickel for everyone who told me they wanted to go paperless, well, I could buy several reams of paper.  The truth is that our society is nowhere near going paperless.  In fact, our actual individual consumption of paper is up in the past decades!  But we can all take one or two free or easy steps to have less unwanted paper in our lives.  The less that comes in, the less you have to organize.  Take a few minutes and do just one or two of these steps, and have less in your life:

Steps to go PaperLess

1. Stop your newspaper, or subscribe to only one day a week.

2. Get off direct mail lists at the Direct Mail Association site.

5. Let magazine subscriptions expire if you didn’t read them last month.

7. Display kids’ artwork with clever front-loading storage frames from DynamicFrames.

 

Read the rest of this excerpted article where it was originally published on ShopGetOrganized.

What steps will you take to reduce your paper piles?

 

 

Merry Mail, Or 5 Ways to Organize Mail During the Holidays December 6, 2011

Filed under: Organizing — HeartWork Organizing @ 2:00 pm
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Seriously, if I’m annoyed by the amount of mail I got this week, you probably are, too.  I’ll show you my pile if you show me yours.
 Organizing piles of mail
This pile is from just one day.  There are more than 13 catalogs, and 3 pieces of mail from Comcast alone!
Here are a few tips, good for the holiday season and all year through.
  1. Wait to go through your mail until you have a few uninterrupted moments.  Glancing through a stack gives you the false impression that you’ve done something with it. It sends your brain a message that you can move on to other activities, and your unprocessed mail then becomes clutter.
  2. Immediately recycle everything that doesn’t require your action.  Here’s where it gets tricky.  Go ahead and put those catalogs in the recycling bin.  WHHAATT???   If you don’t look at them between now and the next recycling day, chances are that Williams Sonoma, LL Bean and Victoria Secret will send you three more by next week.
  3. If you receive a charity notice that you intend to donate to, then immediately place the donation request with your bills, since it requires nearly the same actions as bill paying.
  4. Define a designated space for your bills.  Ensure that bills have a unique place in your office, on your kitchen counter, or somewhere special.  Ideally, keep your bills standing up vertically, so they aren’t easily covered by tomorrow’s mail.  Paying bills may not be on the top of your list right now, but you don’t want your gift budget to be spent on paying late fees!
  5. Be ruthless.  If you aren’t sure if you need to keep something, then don’t keep it.  This is especially true if you know you can request it again from the internet or another source. There are relatively few mail items that are irreplaceable or vital records.

There is a lot to get excited about this time of year, but losing your sanity over mail overload shouldn’t make the list.

 

Add Energy to Your Decision Making August 10, 2011

Filed under: Financial Organizing,General,Organizing — HeartWork Organizing @ 2:29 pm
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“Clutter represents delayed decisions,” (Barbara Hemphill) applies to lots of types of clutter and almost any decision.

A friend asked me to write about the choosing an energy supplier in Pennsylvania, where state residents have now been able to choose their electric supplier since January 2011.  This deregulation and the marketing blitz that comes with it causes trouble for those who aren’t so good at or who hate to make decisions.

Not making a decision is, in fact, a decision.  Sure, you can stay with your current provider, the lights will stay on, and you’ll still get a bill.  No harm there, and if this is your choice, move on with your life without guilt.  Of course, the problem with this is that you are leaving money on the table.  It’s not a lot of money, in my case between $10 and $15 a month, and you can simply chose to keep paying that.

I started working at one of the big phone companies in the 1990’s not long after one of the biggest deregulation cases in history, upgrading customers to more economical plans to keep them from jumping ship to a competitor.  Customers were saving money and had the same service no matter who they went with.  I don’t mean they had similar service; in many cases (not all) they had the exact same service that I was selling.  The same thing is going on in the electric industry today, as most of the companies marketing to you are reselling power and not producing it, so you’ll receive the same exact service no matter who bills you.

In a few cases, you’ll also have another decision about whether to buy sustainable power from your chosen supplier.  The sustainable power is still usually less expensive than your current default provider, but it is a teensy bit more expensive than a reseller’s base option so they can invest in alternative energy, like wind and solar farms.

One friend told me she hadn’t made a choice on energy suppliers because when she had chosen providers before, her first two choices had gone out of business a few months later.  There was no harm done, since the service always reverts to the default provider, but she lost a little confidence about her ability to chose this time around.  Our country learned a lot when we deregulated the phone company in the 1980’s.  As a result, all of the offers you’ll be seeing in the mail will have competitive rates that may or may not be guaranteed for some period, contracts that last about a year, billing that is pretty easy to understand through the default provider (PECO in my case), and maybe a promotional gift involved.  The one I received in the mail today offers a $50 VISA card, but I only looked at the letter for research, not because I’m interested in switching.

I switched providers back in January to my energy co-op.  (Full disclosure:  I will earn a token gift if you sign up and mention my name, but even if you don’t, they are worth checking out.  This is not a paid post and I do not sell energy services.) They’ve provided my home heating oil for years and, like a credit union, I like that they are working for the community and not investors.  They aren’t digging the coal or drilling the oil to provide my electric; they are providing the business that I interface with, and they offer sustainable solutions.   Like Target and Wal-Mart don’t manufacture their products (not even the ones with their brand!), they simply aggregate the choices so I can make one trip to the store.

Compared to the PECO rate of $.1042, I’m paying $.0928 per KWh for now,  but I can always make a different decision.  PECO’s  rates to compare and those of other companies do change several times a year, but for the small amount of money involved, I’m not going to spend a lot of time checking and rechecking my current deal.  I’ll probably check into it once a year, like when I renew my oil contract or maybe around tax time.  I’m not locked in, but I am saving about $10 each month, and I don’t have to ever open another envelope marked, “Save on energy” if I don’t want to.

So if you haven’t made your choice yet, talk to the very next friend who tells you they are reselling energy solutions, or send back the reply card for the very next company who asks you to switch.  If they are offering rates below $.11 or so, you’ll make a bit of money now and you’ll still have choices in the future.  And you can finally recycle all of those other mail-in energy offers you’ve been hoarding to review when you had a bit more time, which we both know is never going to make it to the top of the to-do list.

If this post didn’t answer your questions on how to chose an energy supplier, please comment below and let’s talk about it.

 

Avoiding Email Overload June 28, 2011

Filed under: Business Organizing,Organizing,Uncategorized — HeartWork Organizing @ 11:42 pm
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If you are a person who does not feel like you’ve got too many unopened, unread, or unattended emails, would you please give me a call? I’m a Certified Professional Organizer®, and I’ve still going too much going on in my in-box. I can’t solve all the problems, but here’s a good place to start:
1. Learn how to filter spam. If you get spam in your inbox, check with your provider or program and tighten up the spam criteria. Sure, you may lose one or two legitimate emails every now and again, but it’s totally worth it.
2. Learn how to use folders. Every major email program that I know of offers some way to filter your legitimate emails into something other than your inbox. Especially if you have newsletters, store notices, blog posts, or other recurring email types that are not critical to your day, get those into their own little spot without you having to click and drag.
3. Stop reading your email quickly. Yeah, I know, this one is tricky. Just like physical mail, try your best to open something, attend to it, and then move on to the next email or task. When you open an email and read it, your mind has this funny (by that I mean bad) habit of checking off the item, even if it isn’t complete. So slow down, and get quick tasks and replies done right away if you can.
4. Use those folders again. Once read, place items into folders if you have them set up.
5. Waiting on something? Set up a “Waiting For” folder where you can park items that you are waiting for someone to respond. This is also a good place to park notices of upcoming meetings. But make things easy on yourself. Modify the subject header with the due date (or presentation date) so you can sort this folder by date, meaning you can always be on top of upcoming events and commitments.

There is an interesting article in the June 2011 Inc. Magazine about David Karp, founder of Tumblr, which includes his method of handling email.  Two things are interesting.  First, he reverse filters, meaning everything goes into a folder that he doesn’t read, and the folder he looks at only has emails from his employees and girlfriend. Second, he’s right on that if you condition people to expect that you don’t read email, they’ll get to you another way. 

I’d write more and add images to this post, but I’m trying to clear out a bit of my inbox…