Paper Triage


paper management


We hear that philosophy, Only Handle It Once, OHIO, for paper all the time. But what if we thought of a new mantra for our paper strategy, paper triage.


What is paper triage?

Paper triage is when we sort the important from the trash. We make the first brutal decision of what to keep and what to eliminate. In this one step, we are taking paper from overwhelming to in control. We are making decisions about what is a priority or not.  Just like triage in the medical field, we are getting to what is most important first.  To be most effective with triage, we need to be honest about what we keep and why we keep it.  Empower yourself to make bold decisions and keep less.  Except for bills, many papers will come around again, such as electric rates, credit card offers, and information in general.


Resources for what to keep and what to toss.

If in doubt there are two great resources for what to keep.  On, look at the ABCs of Important Papers by Julie Morgenstern (  This is a lengthy list of what to keep and for how long.  Also you can review on the five steps to simpler record keeping is a quick reference (


Paper triage routines

Do you already do some sort of triage?  I hear from clients “I sorted my paper in the kitchen, but now what?  There are still piles!”   This is when we add admininstrative time to a weekly slot.  We commit to a time we can now really work on the paper, again by prioritizing.  Make a list of the tasks associated with each paper, then review and prioritize.  Establishing your command center with these slots, Action, Pay, Pending,  and File, give you another visual reminder of what your tasks will be during admin time.  If you need additional categories, Receipts, School and Church may help you too.

Best time to triage? Its really up to you! Can you do it right when you get the paper and work at your command center? Do you need time without distraction?  Set aside this time daily to prevent being overwhelmed.

When will you do your triage and get your paper under control?


Need new ideas for paper management?  Check out my pinterest board Paper, Paper, Everywhere.

Weekend Warriors: Taking Care of your Car: My Vehicle’s Glove Box is Full of Paper! Help!

This is the fourth in a series about “Weekend Warrior: Organizing and Taking Care of your Home and Car.”  This guest post is by  Lynn Beckwith, owner of Beckwith’s Car Care, sharing ideas on what papers to keep in your glove box.  

Our glove boxes become miniature filing cabinets over the years as we continue to add copies of vehicle registration, inspection forms, maintenance receipts, repair receipts, and miscellaneous purchases.  Just like any filing cabinet, they frequently need to be purged.

So, what should be kept?

Keep your owner’s manual.  It is a handy guide to understanding everything from the type of oil you should use to what that crazy little light on your dash means. 

Keep only the current vehicle registration and insurance card.  Many of us tend to put the new one in and leave the old copy too, just in case we ever need it, loose the new one, or some other reason.  Guess what, they are expired, no good . .  . chunk them!

When it comes to your maintenance receipts, you have two choices.  The first option is to keep all of them. When it comes time to sell your vehicle this proof of maintenance goes a long way towards comforting the buyer that they are making a good decision.  Proving that proper maintenance has been performed can also be important when dealing with factory and extended warranties.  Of course, I am assuming that you have maintained your vehicle on schedule.  If you have not maintained your car properly, then toss them.  Proof of lax maintenance is not going to help you out.  If you are keeping your car forever, these records can help you stay on top of your scheduled maintenance.

The second and best option is to utilize a repair facility that will keep all of these records for you, even better if you can access them on-line when needed.  Whether you have a fleet of one vehicle or many, a quality independent automotive repair shop should keep your records and help remind you when maintenance is due. 

The repair receipts should be kept at least until the warranty on the repair runs out.  This applies to everything from alternators and batteries to tires and water pumps. Even if your repair shop keeps these on file for you it is a great idea to keep them in your glove box in case you are traveling.  High quality independent repair shops offer a nationwide warranty and your receipt should have the contact information listed on it.   Theses receipts can also be helpful when selling your vehicle because some components tend to fail in cycles. A recently replaced part could help assure that it will not be needed for a while. 

So, whether you are selling your car or keeping it forever it is a great idea to keep your paperwork in order.  If nothing else you won’t have to fumble for your registration the next time you are pulled over.

In general:

  1. Look for a shop that will help you develop a customized maintenance plan that takes into account your vehicle specifications, your driving style and your budget.  Find one that will help you stay on schedule with reminders and maintain your records for both warranty and re-sale purposes.


The staff at Beckwith’s Car Care specializes in developing customized maintenance plans that have kept their customer’s vehicles safe and dependable for over 20 years.  The Better Business Bureau has selected Beckwith’s as not only the best repair facility in the Houston metropolitan area, but also as the recipient of their Ethics award.  The award winning staff includes one of the 2011 Top 20 automotive technicians in the nation.

 Lynn Beckwith is committed to the automotive industry.  Watch for her features on Fox 26 and visit the archived videos on-line.  She can be reached at 281-540-2000 or you can email your automotive questions to Please visit her blog at or on facebook at



Lists that really work!

list making productivity



It used to be that we could keep our tasks and projects in our heads.  Things were simpler, life was simpler and we had less to do.  Not any more!  Because our lives have become more complicated, having a great way to capture tasks and projects is critical to productivity and peace of mind.

Paper lists

One of the simplest ways to get all your lists in one place is a super cute spiral notebook.  It must be a size that can fit in your purse or bag to be carried with you wherever you go.  Being just so adorable means you will use it for each and every thing you need to remember.  Being a size you can carry means you will have it with you all the time.  If you like to have categories for your lists, you can divide you page with a vertical and horizontal line to show four squares.  Or you can purchase a spiral with color on the edge of the pages to have different sections for different parts of your life.   Your categories might be work, home, church and kids. Or it might be calls, errands, computer and anywhere.  You decide if you need categories and what these might be.

Lists made especially for families are available on  Here there is the daily and weekly hit list,  a summary of the seven different departments that families require, such as home and property,  food, time and scheduling, finances, family and friends, special events and personal management.  With this list, you are sure to be on top of family activities and more.


Digital lists

Evernote is a way to use technology for list making.  You can capture any ideas, thoughts or lists on any computer, phone or mobile device. It is a free service and can be uploaded to all types of technology.  Everything you capture is automatically processed, indexed, and made searchable. If you like, you can add tags or organize notes into different notebooks.  You can keep files for “someday maybe”,  your kids’ shoe sizes or whatever you need wherever you go.   Keep a record of your favorite wines by snapping a photo of the label when you find one you like.  Check it out at


Prioritizing your list

And once you have your list, remember to prioritize.  We can truly only accomplish between three to seven tasks in a day.  I suggest determining your 3 Most Important Tasks (MITs) for every day.  You start the day with focus and end with productivity.

Make a commitment to your list making by finding and using the right tool for you!


Find more ideas for productivity on my pinterest board Powerful Productivity.


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Weekend Warrior: Taking Care and Organizing Your Home and Car: Adding Comfort and Saving Money in Your Home

This is the third in a series about “Weekend Warrior: Organizing and Taking Care of your Home and Car.”  This guest post is by  Todd Armstrong, owner of Armstrong Home Services, sharing ideas on adding comfort and saving money in your home.

“Its cold in here!”

“Honey, can you feel that draft?”

Imagine yourself, sitting comfortably in your favorite spot, getting ready to kick back for a couple of hours of mindless relaxation. Your significant other snuggles near, and springs the surprise of cold feet.

“Your feet are freezing!”

None of these statements are pleasant to hear, or experience. All of them are usually easy to remedy. Lets start by looking at your doors and windows to insure that they only let through what you want to get through. Insulation is the key. 

Take a look at your front door. Now open it and look at the insides of the door frame, where the door meets the jamb. You should see some type of insulator. Whether rubber, foam, brass or copper, it has the specific purpose of keeping outside air out and inside air in. If not working properly these easily repairable/replaceable items can make the difference between a comfortable or a drafty home. They can also cause undue strain on your HVAC system and allow dirt, dust and unwanted critters access. 

There are many ways to check the integrity of your door seal. Step outside when it’s dark, leaving several lights on inside your home, and check to see if any light comes through the area around your closed door. Another option is to close the door and run your hand along the door casing on a particularly cold or hot day and feel for temperature differences or moving air. You can even sprinkle a bit of baby powder near the jamb and then open a door or window somewhere else in the house.  If the powder gets blown around or sucked out there is a problem. 

Most gaskets or seals can be changed rather easily and at little cost. If you have a copper or brass seal, look at it closely. The seals are nailed on one side and are shaped like a “V”. The “V” gets closed up by use and time, compromising the seal. Stick a butter knife in the groove and open that bad boy up just a bit. Problem solved. If foam rubber is what is present, many kits are sold at your local hardware store to replace what you have. Look closely and try and get a similarly shaped foam as a replacement.

Windows can be a bit more challenging as the sealing area is also an area where 2 pieces slide together, hopefully forming a seal. Glass is inherently a poor insulator, particularly single pane glass. Most of the problems with air leaks in windows, in my experience, has been where the window latches. Over time, windows can become skewed or not close completely. A simple cleaning of the bottom window jamb often corrects this. Insulated curtains or other window coverings are your best bet for keeping out the unwanted breezes. Be they ever so slight, they all add up to better insulation.

Place your hand over your light switches and receptacles to see if you feel any temperature difference. It’s amazing how many of these little boxes are overlooked when insulating a home. Insulating foam kits made specifically for these are available to make sure the only thing moving through there is electricity. Take note of the shape of your switches and outlets as several styles are made. 

A constant drain of air from your home is no different than a leaking balloon, you must use more energy to keep it properly heated, cooled or inflated.

If the feet are still cold, offer socks.

Todd Armstrong, is the owner of Armstrong Home Services, a home maintenance and repair company in operation since 1999. Specializing in kitchen and bathroom remodeling, Todd takes his clients style and family patterns into consideration creating a comfortable, friendly space in his remodeling projects. 

Whether creating a dynamic space for a child with special needs, a more mobile atmosphere for the elderly, or upgrading an older home to create a modern wonder, every project becomes personal.  

Todd’s work has been featured on HGTV’s Trading Spaces.  Watch for the release of his book “Decorating for Dudes – Don’t Be Afraid of Color,” a guide for the single man who doesn’t want his home to look like a bachelor pad.  

Todd’s goal is to make your project a fun and carefree adventure. He can be reached at (281)220-9056,  or online at

Clutter Support Group Forming in Kingwood Spring 2011

Clutter Support Group Now Forming in Kingwood

Have you had a life long struggle with being organized?  Need support from a community of people who are equally overwhelmed?  Don’t know where to start? Need an affordable organizing solution?  It’s time to get started and declutter your life! Join Ellen Delap CPO® for the Clutter Support Group. A membership based group facilitated by a certified professional organizer, this is a six week, 1 ½ hour program that meets to discuss challenges and work on personal projects.  The group will start on January 25 and ends March 1.  

Clutter support members work on a small project in their home or office for the duration of the group meeting. Together we help each other move forward and be accountable. During this time, we will be reading Linda Samuels book, The Other Side Of Organized.  It is a light hearted and endearing view of organizing. 

The membership fee of $130 includes meeting materials and other resources.  For information and to register, call 281.360.3928 or visit

Weekend Warrior: It’s all about you! Defining Your Own Decorating Style

This is the second in a series about “Weekend Warrior: Organizing and Taking Care of your Home and Car.”  This guest post is by Leslie Sarmiento, owner of Decorating Den Interiors, sharing ideas on updating, decorating and more for your home. 


Whether you are thinking about a decorating project for your home, or you already have one underway, it is always a good idea to stop and ask yourself the following questions:

•    Does the project – and the products you have chosen for it – reflect your lifestyle?

•    What kind of statement would the finished project or room make about you?

As an interior decorator, I truly believe that your home should say something about you and the kind of life that you enjoy. It should showcase your personal interests, the area in which you live, your culture, your talents, whatever it is that you love. In other words, your home should not look like a showroom in a furniture store. Your home should have signs of life – your life!

I also encourage you to keep up with the current trends and fashions in home décor. However, try not to follow the trends to the extent that you leave out any imprint of your own individuality from the design.

It is a decorating myth that good decorating must be limited only to one specific design style. That seems quite absurd if you consider that as an individual, you have many facets to your personality, and that an average household has two or more people living within the same rooms!

So if you are starting a project, give serious thought to your personal preferences, your lifestyle, and then set a budget. Prioritize your needs, and consider that upholstered pieces, floor coverings and window treatments will be with you for a long time. Buy the best quality that you can afford when it comes to these pieces. Accessories, such as pillows and decorative accents, can be trendier, as they do not have to be quite as expensive. As your style evolves, your accessories may be the first elements to reflect any change. And if you’re just not sure what style you prefer at this point, consider consulting with a professional decorator. He or she can start you on your way to finding your own personal sense of style.


Leslie Sarmiento, owner of Decorating Den Interiors, is a speaker, author and interior decorator. Her business is 5 years old, but her love for design spans a lifetime. Her clientele includes homeowners who know the value of timeless, classic design, and appreciate fresh ideas for accessories and custom home furnishings.

She has been featured on numerous television talk shows, such as Fox 26 News and ABC 13 Houston, and is the author of the “Come on Over – Design Series,” which is a series of decorating guides. Loving to write, she is an ongoing writer for the Yahoo! Contributor’s Network. Her product line includes “The Decorating Dreambook,” a project planner designed to simplify the decorating process, which can be found online at

Leslie’s design philosophy is to keep it simple, easy and fun! As a full service interior decorator, she directs her creative energies toward taking care of every detail from inspiration to installation! She can be reached at (281) 686-9293 or online at Also be sure to visit her blog at or her Facebook Page at

Time Management Tips


time management tips

How are you? Busy? Busier than ever? Never thought you would be this busy? How is it we never have enough time?

No matter our age or stage, we all feel and deal with time issues.  We lack of control of our schedule with too many demands, too many balls in the air and too many meetings.  Having no time means we have disorganized space.  There are so many interruptions and distractions.  Tasks take longer than we think.  If you are organized, you think you can squish in just a little more.  Is it time for a change?

How we use our time comes down to creating a new awareness of it and a baby step to make change happen.   The first step is the awareness of how you use your time.  Ask yourself some questions.  What is working well?  Are you getting places on time? Are you always on the go, with too much to do? Do you feel like you are productive and get tasks done? Do your planner and task list work well for recording commitments and tasks? Now ask yourself what is not working! That is where your first baby step will start.

Not getting places on time

  • Set a timer to alert you 15 minutes before you want to leave.  This gives you time to gather up and get going.
  • Plan on arriving early.   You get the best seat, you stress less about parking and traffic, and you are in prime position for whatever you are doing.   Bring your magazines to read now!

Always on the go with too much to do

  • Everything can’t be equally important to you.  Assess if you need to join both girl scouts and adventure princesses, volunteer for church and PTA, and work second and third jobs.  Spend time thinking about what you want to commit to for now.  One of my favorite sayings is, “we can do it all, just not all at the same time.”  Simplify your time with one big commitment at a time.

Day to day productivity

  • Put the big rocks in first, as said by productivity guru Stephen Covey.  Be sure you know what the big rocks are for your job and get these done early in the day.
  • If you are smothered by small tasks at work, group them together and consolidate to be more effective.  Having a call list, an email list, and an errand list for work to group and conquer!

Your Calendar and Task list

  • First decide if you are a paper or technology person.  See what works best for you and all the jobs you have, including parenting.  You can cover a  lot of ground with the google calendar to match up to your partner.  If you love paper, think about  It consolidates your tasks and your calendar.
  • Find a work flow that works with your style.  With your family, host a family meeting weekly to update your calendar.  At work meet with your assistant or colleagues to be sure you are on top of dates.  Having partners makes the process more effective and fun!

This is a long list!  Please pick just one of these baby steps to own this year.  You will be glad you did!  Please share with us your choice and how it is working for you! We want to help you get this done.

You can also find more organizing ideas at

Weekend Warrior: Taking Care of Your Home and Car: Carpet and Wood Surfaces

Starting off the new year with a blog series on Fridays, “Weekend Warriors: Taking Care of your Home and Car.”  This week kicks off the series with Kevin Pearson, owner of Pearson Carpet Care, sharing information about your carpet and hard wood surfaces.  

There is a misconception today that if you were to put in a hard surface floor into your home or office that it would help the indoor air quality.  This is not necessarily true, especially if the carpet is maintained properly from day one.  Carpet by its very nature acts like a filter or a trap, keeping dust and allergens out of the air we breathe. 

Generally dust, pet dander and other airborne particulates that fall to the carpet will tend to stay trapped in the carpet until they are removed through vacuuming or hot water extraction.  This is assuming that they can reach the carpet.  If there is an abundance of furniture, boxes, or other things on top of the carpet then the dust and airborne particulates will not be able to reach the carpet for it to do its job.

Hard surface floors would be similar to a room that had too many boxes, furniture and other things in it. By this I mean that the flat surface of a box, magazine, or plastic storage container would still collect just as much dust and other allergens as a hard surface floor.  So the next time the ceiling fan was turned on or you walked by the stack of boxes the dust and allergens would to be disturbed and kicked up into the breathing zone.  However, only properly maintained carpet will actually contribute to improved air quality.  A carpet that is neglected and already “full” of trapped dust and debris will not yield as healthy of a breathing environment. 

An independent test done by Professional Testing Laboratory, Inc., Dalton, GA., (Asbury, G. Cleaning and Foot Traffic Emissions Analysis. Test Number 0072198 in May of 2002), compared the distribution of airborne dust associated with normal activities, such as walking, on hard and soft flooring surfaces.  The findings show that walking on hard surfaces puts more particles into the breathing zone than walking on carpeted surfaces. They also found that carpeted surfaces trap more particles so that walking on carpet results in less dust, pet dander and other debris that gets kicked up into the breathing zone.  

The end result is that a properly maintained carpet that is able to trap dust and airborne particles will lead to a healthier and cleaner environment than a poorly maintained carpet or a hard surface floor.  So periodically you need to have your carpet cleaned to prevent a build up of dust and dirt in your carpet.  

Kevin Pearson is a Master Cleaning Technician with the IICRC and has been in the cleaning and restoration industry since 1992.   Kevin is presently working on a committee to rewrite the carpet inspector standards in our industry and has previously served on the carpet cleaning standards revision committee.  He also serves on two other committees at the IICRC and is on the Board of Directors of the Professional Cleaning and Restoration Alliance.  For information Call Pearson Carpet Care at 281-548-7200 or visit our website at

Organizing and Exercising

Thinking about those new year’s resolutions and your exercising? Over and over again we know we should exercise, we think about exercising, we think about getting the right “gear” to exercise, and on and on.  So what about getting organized to exercise and getting going?

There are many parallels of exercising and organizing.  Both are lifestyle changes that mean a commitment.  One trip to the gym will not make me svelte, and spending an hour in your kitchen junk drawer will not make you organized. Being committed means finding a compelling reason to organize or exercise.  The list of reasons can be a mile long, but pick one that is most meaningful to you.  Post it where you will see it, feel it and make exercise happen.  For me, exercise means really feeling good about my clothes. It is not just for looks, it is for comfort.  I want to zip up my jeans comfortably.  Your reason will be a very personal one, but be sure to tap into it to create an undeniable need to get going.    Still need a compellling reason? Check out this article

Both exercising and organizing require partners and accountability.  In a world where we share online all the time, put it out there!  Find others who are also struggling and partner for your accountability.   It can be as simple as a text to a partner, “going to the gym today?”  If you are very brave, get it out there on Facebook!  You will find that others who share your struggles feel compassionate, and they will want a partner too.  Most importantly find partners who will exercise with you.  So I am going to put it out there for myself.  My exercising is attending a weekly one hour pilates class.  I am also committing to walking five times a week for 30 minutes with one of my walking partners or by myself. 

Both exercising and organizing require baby steps.  In an all or nothing world, it is easy to think about the big stuff.  But really think about how you can make a small change for yourself.   For me it is the 30 minutes of walking. For you it might be playing Wii fit for 15 minutes every other day, parking your car at the far end of the lot, taking the stairs instead, or any other small change.  So let me know, what is your baby step for exercising or organizing this year?