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  • September 28, 2021 10:25 AM | Jeanne Fox Alston (Administrator)

    Janet Schiesl

    Basic Organization

    September 27, 2021

    It’s that time of year again! School is in session. How is your student managing their time? Do you find yourself constantly nagging them to do their homework? Do they always end up doing a large project the night before it’s due? Managing their time and organizing the tasks they need to do is a common issue for today’s students.

    So how can you help them?

    First, ask yourself some questions. Do they have a good system in place to track all of their to-dos? Are they proactively planning and working ahead? Do they have a way to look at their extracurricular commitments AND their schoolwork in order to see possible future time crunches? Have you discussed the benefit of working ahead and not doing everything at the last moment? Is their desk space organized and uncluttered, with appropriate supplies and limited distractions? Do they have both a paper filing and electronic filing system (they should be similar) in place so they can easily find the information they need to do their work?

    One of the most important things a parent can do to prepare a child for schooling at the next level (e.g., middle school, high school, college), is to make sure they have good time management and organization skills to manage their workload. Each year, the amount of work a student is expected to manage increases. The system they used previously needs to be continually improved to meet their additional workload.

    Is your student learning time management?

    I’m amazed that our schools don’t actively teach our students to do this as part of their education. If you’re lucky, they’ve had a teacher that made this a personal priority. I’ve seen so many capable students whose work suffered not because of their ability, but because of limited organizational and time management skills.

    So, if you haven’t already, sit down with your student and have them show you the system they use. Ask the questions listed above. Ask what is working and what is not working.  Try not to be judgmental. Don’t try and impose your system on them. We all operate a bit differently and each individual needs his or her own system. Many students do well with a planner that includes both school and extracurricular activities managed together in a very visual, grid type format (the planners handed out by many schools DON’T work well for some students or would work better used in a modified way). Others can operate fine with a series of lists.    Some like to use paper and pencil and others prefer to use an automated tool or application.

    Ask them how they are filing their schoolwork, both paper, and electronic files.

    Encourage them to set up a paper-based filing system in a file drawer or file crate for this year’s schoolwork. (If they haven’t cleared out last year’s work, now is a good time to get that done!). Most students file papers and files by school subject, making subfolders as needed. Others prefer to file based on their block scheduling (odd day subjects vs. even day subjects).  The system should make sense to them and paper and electronic filing systems should be the same.

    Finally, make sure they have a good place to work.

    It should be comfortable and inviting. Ideally, they should have a hard surface, a comfortable reading chair, access to organized supplies, easy access to a computer and their electronic filing system, a file cabinet or crate for paper files (with extra folders and hanging files), and limited distractions. Some students need to be encouraged to leave their mobile devices in another room while working. Others work better with background music. Encourage your student to try a few different things. Many of them are surprised how productive they are when their phones AREN’T in the room with them.

    Most students are using some system. However, many of them haven’t customized it to work well for THEM or are missing some of the important pieces discussed above.

    For more information, contact Janet Schiesl.

     

  • September 28, 2021 10:15 AM | Jeanne Fox Alston (Administrator)

    Janet Schiesl

    Basic Organization

    September 27, 2021

    Let’s talk about how to reduce paper clutter.

    With the wide variety of paper that comes into your home every day, you need individual systems (a defined way) to deal with each kind of paper. Having a system will make it easier to determine what is necessary to keep and what should go.

    1. Stop the junk mail and catalogs by signing up for Catalog Choice to remove yourself from mailing lists.

    2. Manage your magazines from coming into your home by canceling subscriptions that you don’t read consistently. Rip out the articles that interest you and file them in categories in folders to eliminate the bulk of the magazines.

    3. After reconciling your bank and credit card statements shred all receipts, except for large purchases, business expenses, and items under warranty. These need to be filed.

    4. Post only needed paper on your bulletin board. This is where less is more. You’ll be able to see what you need without the clutter of unwanted or old paper.

    5. Simplify your library by trading or giving away duplicate books. Consider purchasing an e-reader for future reading, so you don’t add to your collection.

    6.. Manage business cards by scanning them into a contact management software program or organize them into a notebook made specifically for business cards.

    7. Only keep your kid’s artwork that is display-worthy. Keep everything together in one box and take photos of the 3D projects that you want to keep as a memory.

    8. Gather your new greeting cards into categories and store them in a card organizer. Evaluate the sentimental cards you have received and only keep the ones with a high value to you.

    9. Keep coupons in an organizer that will allow you to use them. If you find that you are not taking them shopping with you, stop the practice of clipping them.

    10. Curtail your printing. Save digital copies of bills, statements, and other documents on your computer or in the cloud instead of printing them.

    For more information, contact Janet Schiesl



  • August 18, 2021 7:38 PM | Jeanne Fox Alston (Administrator)

    Janet Schiesl

    Basic Organization

    August 18, 2021

    I love to read. Do you? But it can get away from me sometimes. Have you seen my nightstand or e-reader lately? At this time of year, I love a paper book (beach read anyone?) So to help you (and me) out today I’d like to list 10 ways you can manage your reading material. All these tips are for paper-based reading.

    1. Don’t let magazines or newspapers pile up.  Clip out articles of interest and file them in manila folders that are labeled as to the topic.
    2. If you’re in the habit of lending books to others, write your name on the inside cover, so they’ll be reminded to return it.
    3. A quick way of identifying your books so you can keep books of one topic together is to place colored labels on the spines. Red for business, blue for health, green for psychology, etc.  If they get separated it’s easy to spot them.
    4. It’s faster to browse through books on websites than in bookstores. The largest site is (of course) www.amazon.com. You can search by title, author, and subject.
    5. When photocopying material from books that cannot be marred, write the source on a sticky note that can be removed after photocopying.
    6. Stick a partial pad of sticky notes on the inside cover of any book you are reading so you can easily mark pages and make notes.
    7. If you find you lose your place when reading books due to the bookmarker falling out, use an elastic band.  It keeps the read pages firmly in place and will definitely not fall out.
    8. Keep a folder containing articles torn or photocopied from magazines so you can read while traveling, in waiting rooms, or in long lines.
    9. Every few years, allow your magazine subscriptions to expire. Reinstate only those you have missed.
    10. Read books and magazines with a highlighter in hand to mark relevant ideas and a pen with which to jot ideas in the margin.
    For more information, contact Janet Schiesl.


  • August 18, 2021 7:25 PM | Jeanne Fox Alston (Administrator)

    Janet Schiesl

    Basic Organization

    August 18, 2021

    You want your kids to be organized. But you need it to be easy and fast and fun! It’s important for children to manage their own things. By giving them responsibility for their toys, clothes, and rooms you teach them essential life skills. This is a broad subject, so we’ll focus on tips you can use to make your life easier and your kid’s toys and books more organized.


    1. Store small toys in see-through bins that are an appropriate size for your kids to carry.
    2. Sort items of the same type into bins.
    3. Communicate where things belong with labels.
    4. Use container size as the limit for that type of item.
    5. Apply the one-in-one-out rule to cull the number of toys.
    6. Never keep the box from a toy separate from the toy itself.
    7. Make it easy for preschoolers to put books away by housing them in bins.
    8. Store books for older children on shelves.
    9. Make putting things away as easy as taking them out.
    10. Model the behavior that you want from your children.
    You want your kids to be organized. But you need it to be easy and fast and fun! 

    Hope you enjoyed these tips on organizing your kids, here are similar posts, with general kid’s organizing tips, and tips for organizing kid’s bedrooms.

    For more information, contact Janet Schiesl.

  • August 02, 2021 11:55 AM | Jeanne Fox Alston (Administrator)

    Jill Katz

    One to Zen Organizing

    August 2, 2021


    The Back Story



    This past year, I started asking my clients a new question: 

    “How do you think your space should look when it’s not in use?”

    This question occurred to me when I was organizing a client’s new apartment. Each time I walked into her apartment, I noticed that the dining room table was cluttered. Although we were organizing another room, I took a moment one session to ask her how she would like it to look when she wasn’t using it. She thought for a moment and responded: She would like the table to have a few items in the center but, otherwise the table should be clear. 

    So we started by moving everything off her table and arranging her napkins,salt, and pepper in the center. We took a step back and sighed contentedly. Then, we took an hour of the session to investigate and problem solve the other items that were accumulating on the table. Her puzzle could be moved to the coffee table and placed on a special puzzle mat. Her mail could be sorted on the coffee table and any bills or to dos could be placed in the storage space there. Her keys and wallet were set on a pretty bowl on the hall table. The Reset was born and it was revolutionary.

    How the Reset Differs From Traditional Organizing

    At first glance, The Reset doesn’t look much different than ordinary organizing. But I knew I was onto something. Here’s how the Reset differs from traditional organizing and why it is so effective:

    • For the Reset to work, you must use a small space. (i.e. a table, counter, shelf or shelves, perhaps a small closet)

    • The process is flipped in The Reset by jumping to the last step of traditional organizing and arranging items in the space the way you want it to look when everything is put away. This is super motivating. 

    • The client needs to create a clear perspective of his or her space’s purpose upfront as well as a mental picture of the end result.


    The Steps

    Intrigued? Try it yourself! Here’s how you apply the reset to your space:

    • Choose a small space that is accumulating clutter. Start with your own space. Not a shared space. We will discuss shared spaces real soon in another post. I promise!

    • Ask yourself: What is the function of the space? Really challenge yourself to think about how you have used the space in the past and if you would like to use the space in the same way moving forward.  Don’t forget to ask yourself how you want the space to look when it is not in use.


    Some examples: 

    Kitchen counter:  Used for food prep

    When not in use only items on counter are toaster oven and coffee maker

    Office Desk: 

    Used for work and paying bills and dealing with mail

    When not in use only items on the desk are laptop, a vertical file holder and pens

    • Now take everything out of that space and only put back what you want in that space when it is not in use

    • Look at the items that you removed from that space and sort through them. What categories do you see? Where do they belong at the end of the day? How can you problem solve so that it’s easy to put them away?

    This is a critical step or else these items will creep their way back into your space. Some items will be used to serve that space when “in use” and will be stored nearby. Other items don’t belong in that space and need to be stored in a different area. Don’t forget that some items don’t belong anywhere in your home and should be donated or thrown away.

    In Conclusion

    So next time you feel a heaviness descend on your soul as you walk past a cluttered counter or table in your home, consider pressing The Reset button. Were you able to transform that small space? Let me know how it goes….

    For more information, contact Jill Katz.


  • August 02, 2021 11:29 AM | Jeanne Fox Alston (Administrator)

    Jody Al-Saigh

    Picture Perfect Organizing

    August 2, 2021

    How to Prepare for Your First Visit with a Professional Photo Organizer


    For people who struggle with organizing their photos, hiring a professional photo organizer can be a great resource. A photo organizer can provide valuable tips for organizing photos and can give hands on guidance to achieve your final results. But there’s a few things to keep in mind that can save you time and money

    1) Think about your goals for the professional photo organizer.

    A common goal is to preserve precious memories. Perhaps you were given photos by a family member or found historic photos after the passing of a loved one. Maybe you’ve run out of room and your printed photos are cluttering your space. Or you want to be sure not to lose precious digital photos, but you don’t know how to back them up.

    Another goal could be to share the photos with others. What is the point of taking all these photos if they never leave your phone? Maybe you want to make a scrapbook as a gift. Or share photos online with former classmates and friends. Perhaps you want to frame some beautiful vacation images.

    Many people are also interested in downsizing and digitizing. Can you take all those albums with you? Will you have space for all of the framed photos you used to hang? Will your digital memories be organized after you’re gone?

    When you’re getting ready to move, photos are a key piece to consider, but often get put aside when trying to think about moving furniture and other items. Getting printed photos scanned is a great way to take all of your photos with you, even if space in your new home is limited.

    2) Prepare to get started. 

    A lot of people get daunted or overwhelmed by the process of organizing photos. They just don’t know how to get started.

    Setting an appointment is a great first step!

    Sometimes people hire a professional photo organizer just to have a regular appointment to keep. If they are paying someone by the hour, they know they don’t want to waste their money and time. An organizer will work side by side and becomes an extra set of hands in the organizing process.

    For many people, photos trigger a lot of emotion. Organizing photos can get derailed when the memories cause pain or sadness or even if they just cause the client to get sidetracked reminiscing about happy times. Photo organizers can offer guidance and steer you back on course when a project hits a roadblock.

    Photo organizing is one of those tasks that, for many, can fall by the wayside in our busy lives. But after a while the task gets too big to manage because you’ve put it off for so long.

    Often the bigger a project gets, the more money you end up throwing at it in order to quickly solve the problem. professional photo organizers can make sure that you’re shopping and spending appropriately – finding the best backup solution for your hard drive, determining how much cloud storage you should pay for, finding cost effective but photo-safe methods of storing prints and memorabilia items.

    3) Get going on your project!

    You’ve got a goal for your photos and your first appointment with a photo organizer is booked. 

    Prepare for your visit to maximize your savings.
    For print photos, search and collect from every place photos are stored in your home and get them into one spot. This saves time for when the organizer arrives – you don’t need to hire someone by the hour to help you rummage through your drawers and closets.

    When everything is brought together, set up a good area to work. You should have a large flat surface such as a dining room table or a bed in a guest room. If you have the space, find an area for photo sorting that doesn’t have to be put awaybetween appointments.

    It’s always good to break up the organizing process into small and manageable chunks – you can’t expect to organize all your photos in one single session with an organizer. So, it’s great if all of the sorted piles can stay put if you have the space to leave them out.

    If you’re trying to organize digital items, similar rules apply. Everyone these days has multiple devices that take and store photos. Gather all of your phones, tablets, camera memory cards, old hard drives and laptops, thumb drives and CDs together to show your organizer. Make sure you have all of the necessary cords to charge and plug in those devices so your organizer can view everything contained on each device. Your photo organizer will want to see the total volume of your photo collection to determine the scope of your project.

    Advancements in technology have made digital storage much easier to achieve, even for those who aren’t technologically savvy.  Whether you can manage it yourself, or if you need a little help, you will definitely want to use technology to your advantage to preserve your collections in a digital format. 

    Now you’re off to the races! You and your photo organizer can work efficiently and with less stress because you’ve prepared in advance. Best of luck with your photo organizing!

    For more information, contact Jody Al-Saigh

  • July 14, 2021 12:44 PM | Jeanne Fox Alston (Administrator)

    Janet Schiesl

    Basic Organization

    July 12, 2021


    I recently finished reading Small Change by Susan & Larry Terkel. The beginning of the book had a great chapter on how to apply small changes to your life. Like many of our clients who are trying to make changes, doing something large is overwhelming and often left untried. Susan & Larry suggest that small changes will add up to something big in the end.

    On top of chapters on health, relationships, creativity, and work, the chapter that resonated with me the most was small change for more happiness. Isn’t that what we are all about, living a happy life.

    There was a section in the chapter on Slowing Down and the first line is, “Are you always in a hurry?” They suggest that one small change you could make is to slow down. It will make a difference in all areas of your life. The authors suggest 10 advantages to doing this exercise.

    Slowing Down

    1. Allows you to be more careful and lessens the chance of accidents
    2. Removes much of the stress caused by hurrying and worrying about it
    3. Makes you a safer driver
    4. Helps you to be more patient with everyone
    5. Gives you time to think before you speak, talk more slowly, and listen more carefully
    6. Allows you to be more mindful
    7. Makes you eat more slowly and allows you to enjoy your food
    8. Enables you to rely less on fast  and processed food and more on home-cooked meals and pleasant dining experiences
    9. Allows you to entertain more easily and make your guests feel more welcome
    10. Makes you feel as though you had more time to live life

    In our fast-paced world, it may be hard to consider slowing down, but if you want to improve one of these 10 areas of your life, slowing down may be the ticket.

    In conclusion, try to do everything a little slower.

    For more information, contact Janet Schiesl.

  • July 14, 2021 12:36 PM | Jeanne Fox Alston (Administrator)

    Janet Schiesl

    Basic Organization

    July 5, 2021


    The more choices you have, the longer you spend deciding what you want. Limiting your choices makes it easier to make decisions. Therefore you are more efficient.


    What to do about choice?

    • Pick out what you are going to wear to work the night before.
    • Only wear solid colors or certain colors.
    • Establish a weekly dinner menu.
    • Eat the same thing for breakfast every morning.
    • Create a standard grocery shopping list.
    • Pay all your bills in the same method.

    Finally, consider cutting back on time spent mulling over decisions and move on to the next thing.

    For more information, contact Janet Schiesl.



  • July 14, 2021 12:15 PM | Jeanne Fox Alston (Administrator)

    Janet Schiesl

    Basic Organization

    June 28, 2021


    Productivity is all about focus. Starting and staying on task is the only way your to-do list is going to get done. Some days, easier to said than done. I get it. I can procrastinate with the best of them. Not the best place to be for an organization and productivity specialist. I found some fixes that work for me and thought I’d let you in on my essential requirements to getting things done.

    I can get ‘in the zone’ pretty fast and when working with a client and when it clicks, it’s magical. The work flows, time flies, things get done! It’s great. But then I move to my office where the admin happens and it seems like the clock stops. Have you ever felt like that?


    The 5 Things That Keep Me Productive

    1. Finding a quiet place to work

    In our portable technology world, you can work anywhere, anytime. But is that always the best way to be productive? Not for me. One thing I know about myself is that I need to tuck myself away from any other activity in order to focus on work. I am lucky to have a designated office space in my home. Everyone who works from home should be so lucky. It allows me to block out distractions like family members, laundry, TV, the frig, or a sunny day. It’s as simple as closing the door to my office. In my mind, the closed-door means business. Don’t bother me unless you are on fire!

    Some people work best in a busy, noisy environment or with lots of people around. Whatever helps you focus. If you are not sure what works for you, do a little experiment. Move to different locations inside and outside your house. Work on something challenging. Where are you most successful? Tweak your work environment until you get the results you want.

    2. Finding the best time of day

    When are you most productive? I am a morning person through and through. As a kid, I used to wake up hours before the rest of my family. So much so that my mom would set out dry cereal at night, so I could have something to eat while waiting for everyone else to rise. So why not take advantage of that? I still rise early. Do a little lingering at the TV and coffee pot, but then I go into action mode. I can get more done at my desk in three AM hours than I do the rest of the day. I focus on the hard stuff first. You know the ‘Eat That Frog’ idea. Get what I am most dreading done and then the rest of the day is cake! I saved the afternoon for reading, education, email and chores when my mind is not as sharp.

    What’s your best time of day? Maybe you are a night person. More power to you. It doesn’t matter what time you do your book-keeping, pay your bills, or write your paper. Why not do it at your most productive time of day? Figure out your sweet spot on the clock and then focus your efforts on the important tasks of the day then, can raise your productivity with not much effort.

    3. Finding the deadline

    Some tasks have deadlines and some don’t. One thing that has helped me be my most-productive-self is to set deadlines for everything. I set deadlines for writing blog posts (like this one) or they’d never get done. I’d push them to the bottom of that to-do list of mine every day. The thing I find the hardest to complete is the development of my company. What’s the next step? Where will I step outside my box next? I use the support of colleagues to focus my thoughts in this realm. We ‘meet’ over the internet once a month. often discussing our new ideas and challenges and encourage each other to move forward. But what makes it work for me is that we give ourselves challenges with the deadline of reporting back at the next meeting. We keep each other accountable. It’s fantastic!

    Look at all your regular tasks and set dates and times that you will do them. Make an appointment with yourself. Put it on your calendar. There is something about writing (or typing) it on a calendar that cements it for me. Try it. It may work for you too. You could even try micro-managing your calendar for a bit. Write down what time of day you will check email, make phone calls. Time blocking like this really works. It’s deadline personified!

    4. Finding prep time

    I love to schedule and plan and I think that is one key to my ability to focus on the tasks of the day. Prepping for the next day is essential (to me) for a good night’s sleep. I use a modified Tickler File for my business planning. It’s visual, it’s easy and it’s fast. I have a file system on the wall, next to my desk that I use religiously. I mean it, all day, every day. My routine every morning includes pulling out what’s in that day’s file and shuffling the folders/papers into the order of importance. Bam! My day is laid out in front of me, right there. See it. Do it. Done.

    More prepping is done at the end of my day. I am a member of the clean desk club, (to me) which means that I clean my desk off at the end of each workday. File things back into my wall filing systems anything that did not get finished. The thought “I’ll do it tomorrow” is enough for me to put it out of my mind until the next day.

    Do you incorporate prep time for the next day into the end of your day? I know about those days you’d rather run from your desk when the day is done, but wouldn’t you feel more prepared to tackle what’s coming tomorrow if you downloaded/decided all the issues of the day before walking away?

    5. Finding a reward

    It sounds kind of funny and simple, but I find a to-do list helps me focus. It’s the challenge of seeing what needs to be done and concurring it that helps me move forward. When I feel overwhelmed with how much I have to do, I sit down and make a list. I am very visual, so seeing it on paper helps me focus.  I love checking things for my list. Just that little reward of the checkmark does it for me. There is nothing like seeing everything checked off at the end of the day and tossing the paper. You see the reward doesn’t have to be big. It just has to work. Feeling accomplished is a reward enough for me.

    What type of reward do you need? Could it be recognition from colleagues or that glass of wine at the end of a successful day? Figure out how often you need to feel that sense of accomplishment and make sure that your rewards are attainable in that time frame.

    For more information, contact Janet Schiesl


  • June 07, 2021 11:12 PM | Jeanne Fox Alston (Administrator)

    Janet Schiesl

    Basic Organization

    June 7, 2021

    How to get going on a task. If you are always doing things at the last minute, you are not alone. Many people have trouble getting motivated to start tasks. Large or small, homework, chores, or job responsibilities – getting started on all these can stress you out.


    To help you with options to move forward, here are 10 tips to get you going.

    1. Evaluate whether the task is something you really value. Maybe it’s something that someone else asked of you and may not important to you.
    2. Imagine yourself doing and completing the task. Seeing the outcome may motivate you.
    3. Chunking. It means to break down your task into smaller, more doable pieces. It won’t seem so overwhelming then.
    4. Make action items. In addition, make a list of the tasks you want to accomplish and use verbs at the beginning of each item.
    5. Get it in your planner. Prioritize each task on your calendar and schedule enough time to do it, you are more likely to succeed.
    6. Use post-it notes to remind yourself of the tasks to complete. A little reminder never hurt.
    7. Be accountable to someone else. For instance, reporting to someone who will support your work and not criticize your efforts will be a great motivator.
    8. Look at what is getting in your way. If you have tried everything and still struggle, examine if outside (or inside) forces are getting in your way.
    9. Get help. Working with a friend will motivate you to move forward. Making any activity more social can add to the experience. 
    10. Finally, plan a reward at the completion of a task. Make it small, but fun.
    For more information,  contact Janet Schiesl.



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