Category Archives: Home-Based Business

National Organize Your Home Office Day – A Gentle Prodding

MeshDrawerOrganizerSlvr2512G_xThis is where my expertise shines – organizing offices!  I think it has been devine intervention in that most jobs in my career working in nonprofit or the corporate environments required me to organize or re-organize the work spaces.  I’ve worked with some brillant business professionals who happened to be a little disorganized or held onto to much paper, therefore, I was a complement to them because I was organized.

For my own business, I spend a lot of time in my home office, of course. I keep less paper in my office as permanent documents but that doesn’t mean there are not temporary or permanent files in my office.  Some are paper, some are digitized, some are computer files.   I’ve always liked my desktop to be organized. Items on my desk that I use daily are within reach such as my tickler file, my telephone, pens and small reference books. My utility items such as my stapler, tape, paper clips, etc. are in my top desk drawer. I remember one of my professional colleagues commenting that my desk was always clean. That was because everything was in order. At night, I cleared everything from my desktop so that I could come back to the office with a fresh start.  I still do that now.

I like mesh desk drawer organizers.  You can line your desk drawer and dirt and trash will fall through the mesh then you just wipe the inside of the drawer, instead of having to always clean the drawer organizers. The ones shown above are from Container Store and range in price from $2.49 to $5.99 each.

Most of my organizing business has been helping clients organize their home offices.  Most of their offices were organized in some way and only needed to be refreshed or tweaked.  The biggest challenge for most of them was keeping way too much paper in sight which was a cause for clutter in the brain.  Too much clutter equates to less functionality.

Here’s the link to 4 Steps to Make the Most of Your Home Office from Smead. and Quick Tips to organize a home office from HGTV.

Today is National Organize Your Home Office Day. I want to encourage you to do start the process, even if it’s only to clear off your desk.

Tools That Help Me Plan My Day

A typical weekday starts with me entering my home office to turn on the computer and my Anytime Organizer screen opens up.  This inexpensive organizer is the center of my time management regime.

Computer desktop for Edited Places

Computer desktop for Edited Places









  • I create appointments – business and personal.
  • To Do Lists are colored coded by business, personal, community, etc.
  • I can Journal my day’s activities.
  • Contacts are entered.
  • I’m reminded of birthdays.
  • And, I can keep track of expenses.

I can sync the Anytime Organizer calendars with my Android phone and tablet.

Just below my computer screen is a color-coded desk calendar that helps feed my creativity.  Appointments and notes are doodled here also.

Then there is my trusty companion for many years – The Tickler File!  It has been all over my home – the living room, kitchen and bedroom. It allows me to chronologically file paper documents  that go along with the appointments or tasks for a particular date until action is necessary.

My Tickler File!

My Tickler File!










Is the use of modern day technology and the “old paper system” overkill to help me plan and manage my time?  Perhaps for some, but it works for me. There are so many tasks a self-employed person has to do. There is so much information that has to be gathered and processed to help make decisions to run a business and manage your personal life. To balance my work and life priorities, I can focus on what I have planned for the day with these aides as reminders.

6  rules I follow to get things done in a day are:

1. I decide what needs to get accomplished based upon commitments and responsibilities.

2. I list and prioritize tasks and activities according to my capabilities for that day.

3. I avoid interruptions that are counter productive to my completing tasks.

4. I delegate tasks that I don’t have the capability of handling myself.

5. I leave some time unscheduled.

6. At the end of the day, I evaluate if I’ve been productive.

Whether you utilize the old paper planners or modern day technology, I think it’s liberating to purposely plan your day (however, there will always be those unexpected events on any given day). On the flip side, I know some people think it’s liberating not to plan and just go with the flow.  The world functions with both types of people.

How do you plan your day – Outlook, Franklin Covey, Paper Calendars, Tickler File, icalendar, Smartphone, Tablet, Computer…?  Help me count the ways!

Does working from home invoke a vision of free time to everyone?

I don’t know about you, but when I tell people I own my own business and work from home, they get this look on their face, and say something like, “You can do anything you want during the day, can’t you?”  My response is always, “I work just as hard for myself as if I were being paid my someone else.” My expectations for my business to succeed are higher than those I had working for someone else, and they were pretty high – you can verify this by asking someone else I worked for. Yes, working from home does mean certain freedoms, but you do “work.”

2014 is almost half over and I’ve accomplished a goal I set in 2013 to network more.  I’ve joined a couple of business associations and a community advocacy organization. However, this means having to balance more activities, committees and events into my already busy life of running a business as a solopreneur. You volunteer your time (and other resources) because you believe in the organization/group you’ve joined. When people know you work from home (including me sometimes when I forget what it’s like), they think you can drop everything you’re doing at the drop of a dime and respond to their request – whether by phone, email or text message. You volunteer to do one or two things that you know you can fit into your schedule and then you will get asked to do several more “little” things.

Wow! Things got out of control for me already this year, and I got sick, I became unaware of some personal tasks, and I got frustrated with myself.  So what am I doing to get back on track?

As a reminder to myself and perhaps to help you, these few little suggestions will help us balance our lives when working from home (especially if you join groups or organizations):

1) Communicate effectively!  Yes and No are very small words that mean a lot, therefore, when you say either, stay committed to your response.  When you say ‘Yes’ do what you say you will do. If you hear extra things added after you’ve responded to do one thing, communicate clearly what you can and cannot do.  Saying ‘No’ doesn’t mean that you don’t want to do something, it means, you know that you can’t do everything. I like to do things well and if I’m overwhelmed, they don’t get done well, leaving everyone upset.

2) Stick to your schedule!  Add additional tasks you’ve committed to your calendar and prioritize. Your business is Priority 1!  If you’ve committed to do something outside your own work, you may have to work on the other tasks after your business day. Put everything – business, pleasure, volunteer activities, etc. – on one calendar so that you can see everything you have planned in your life in a day, week, month!  There will be times when you can be flexible and sometimes you can’t.  You will probably make adjustments if you’re putting more time into other activities than what’s most important to you. If you concentrate your time and effort on highest priority projects that means you get more done.

3) Respond to electronic communication on a schedule. Answer the phone calls, email and text messages when it’s convenient for you.  I schedule time during the day to read and respond to my email.  I determine whether a text message is important or urgent and respond accordingly.

4) Take care of yourself! Get your rest!  Your body lets you know when you’re tired and it will get sick if you get stressed!  Getting enough rest should be the highest priority in your life.

If you work at home and are involved in your community, tell me your time management tips.

Time Management Tips from Feature Article by Carmen Coker

Since February is Time Management Month and to save time I’m posting a great feature article from Carmen Coker that I wanted to share with you.

3 Sneaky Reasons You Lose Time

November 21st, 2013

3 Sneaky Reasons You Lose TimeReviewed by Carmen Coker, Award-Winning Professional Organizer on Nov 21Rating: 5.0These simple things could be costing you precious time. Here’s how to stop ’em!Having trouble finding extra minutes in your day? These simple things could be costing you precious time. Here’s how to stop ’em!

3 Sneaky Reasons You Lose TimeHaving trouble finding extra minutes in your day? These simple things could be costing you precious time. Here’s how to stop ‘em!

1. You can never say “no.”

Being a yes-man or yes-woman stems from a longing to feel important/needed or from a fear of hurting/disappointing someone. As a result, you are continually over-committed and over-scheduled.

[FIX] When you always say “yes” to others, inevitably, you will end up saying “no” to many of your life priorities. Having an honest response ready will help you feel confident in sending your regrets. Something as simple as this will do the trick: “Thank you for thinking of me! I’d love to support you, but I am unable to right now due to other personal obligations.”

2. You are good at being busy but not productive.

From the outside looking in, you appear like one heck of a busy bee. But from an insider’s perspective, you tend to do something just to do it, even though it may not be the highest priority task at the time.

[FIX] Henry David Thoreau said it best: “It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” Practice mindful productivity (instead of mindless productivity) by only giving thought, time, and effort to the truly significant.

3. You rely on memory alone.

You have 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts a day, and yet only five to nine items stay in your short-term memory at any given time. The odds are against you! Leaving stuff in your head means leaving stuff forgotten.

[FIX] Here’s one theory of Albert Einstein’s that isn’t taught in school: “Why remember my phone number when it’s in the phone book?” Believe it or not, witnesses claim he did not rely on memory alone to recall his number – and there is pure genius in its simplicity! Find or create your own system to track important information.


There is such a thing as PRODUCTIVITY KARMA. If you don’t value your time (or the time of others), then your time will not value you, and … it will slip away.

How could you (or do you) use these ideas to save time? Please let me know your thoughts, experiences, ideas, and other comments below.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

Photo Organizing – A Good New Year’s Resolution!

I recently had someone ask me if  a professional organizer was like a hair stylist, stating that they do fantastic work on styling someone’s hair but their hair style usually isn’t the best (her words and no disrespect to hair stylists). I was happy to reply that although my home is not picture perfect with beautiful, expensive organizing products, everything has a place and 98% of the time, everything is put back in its place.

Most people think that professional organizers want you to get rid of everything, but we have collections also.  I have a pretty substantial collection of CDs, and I know they can be digitized onto my computer,  I don’t want to get rid of them. As long as I own a small CD player, I will keep my CD collection.  The collection doesn’t take up a lot of space the way I have them organized and containerized.

So when I started looking around my home, I found one project that I have neglected organizing is my massive collection of photos.  I have them semi-organized, but the system could use some improvement.  One positive thing about my collection is that it is organized in some fashion. I have photos on negatives, smart media cards, disks and USB drives. I have them in photos albums and, I hate to admit, just piled into into photo boxes. 




















I don’t keep a lot of photos on my camera, smartphone or computer.  I read that the memory card in your camera has a life span. Most recently, I really try to transfer all photos I take to a USB drive.

Since I make memory books, I  print photos at home and  I also take advantage of the online photo printer services like Shutterfly when I want to create an album for someone else. When I’m in a hurry to get the photos, I’ll upload them to Walgreen’s so I can pick them in an hour or so.  It’s cheaper to print a large quantity with a photo service provider than printing at home.

With so many printed photos – a lot of duplicates and bad photos –  I’m seeking help in getting those better organized. I found this Ideabook on organizing photos on Houzz.  Let me get started.  I’ll show you the end result.  If you have a great system, send me your ideas.

Upgrading Your Electronics? Recycle the Old One!

The EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) suggests:recycle electronic symbol

Before Donating or Recycling Your Used Electronics
  • For your computer or laptop, consider upgrading the hardware or software instead of buying a brand new product.
  • Delete all personal information for your electronics.
  • Remove any batteries from your electronics, they may need to be recycled separately.
Where to Recycle
Corporate and charitable organizations will recycle your electronics for you. If the organization is not located in your community, you may be able to find one that will pay for shipping.
You may already know that Staples will recycle your empty ink cartridges and toners and give you back $2.00 in Staples Rewards, but did you know they will recycle other electronics?  Follow this link to find a list of what items they accept:


Tis the season to be jolly and charitable, therefore, you may consider donating your used electronics.  The American Institute of Philanthrophy  – now CharityWatch can ‘help you give wisely to charity.’ They offer some tips for donating your old cell phone.


Along with The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NACDV), you can help save lives and the environment.


Operation Gratitude sends care packages to our military personnel. Recycled cell and smart phones, Ipods and Ipads will help them in their effort.


Each organization offers guidelines on how to recycle on their website. Are you aware of other organizations that accepts recycled electronics? Please let us know.
[Image courtesy of Bing Images.]