This is why following through on the Organizing Continuum helps you live the life you imagined!



Getting organized is a continuum, a work in progress,  a journey not a destination, and a learning experience. In my work with clients, I see that there is a definite starting place for my clients that begins with organizing skills and new perspectives. Clients learn basic skills to help them get organized and be productive.  I coach them to see new perspectives about themselves, their stuff and their time.  I am thrilled to acknowledge their gains as they progress through the organizing continuum.  If you are new to organizing, here’s how the continuum progresses. The time for the continuum depends on you.


Everything needs a place

It’s the basis of all organizing. It’s the age old adage, a place for everything and everything in it’s place.  All the items in your home or office need a specific spot.  That’s where they are located, put back and retrieved when used.  The first step in getting organized is having a place for everything. Yes, EVERYTHING. You can start by assigning a function to each room, what you need to do that action, the items needed, and then the storage of the items.  Overall, each item will have a home and a place as a result.


Everything needs a time to attend to it

Not only does everything need a place, everything needs a time for it to be worked on, worked with or returned to it’s spot.  You make breakfast, retrieve dishes and cookware, wash it and return it to where it was placed.  If you are doing your taxes, you need to gather documents, work on them, then store these whether paper or digital.  When you work, you go to your digital documents, work, and save it to a digital spot.  All things, papers, or digital documents need time to work the work and store appropriately.


There’s a place for your stuff, however it’s not worth the time to attend to it.

This is when your discerning decluttering really kicks into gear.  It’s not that you don’t have space for an item, how important is it to spend time getting it to where the place is? How many do you have already or do you need? Our time is the most valuable commodity we have and we can let go of items just so it’s not as time consuming to put them away.

It’s not valuable enough to find the space for it.

Here’s where you begin to assess a “just in case” perspective. Is the possibility of use a good enough reason to keep an item? The Minimalists have this perspective.  If it costs less than $20, and you can get it in 20 minutes, do you need it in your home or office?  Finding the value of keeping an item helps you move forward in this continuum.  It’s about prioritizing your time and space.


There are many easier ways to find the stuff you need.

You have wrangled your stuff to get it stored and put away. Now you realize that there are many easier ways to find what you need, whether it is stuff, information or paper. You are entering the continuum where you start releasing more and bringing in less to your home and office.


Living with less is rewarding.

Life is feels less overwhelming, more about experiences, and you are living the life you imagined.


Organized and stay organized.

Your life is about living, not about stuff. You stay organized because you know what is important to have and what to release.  Congratulations on accomplishing the real goal of being organized!


Sharing this continuum helps you start on your organizing and productivity journey!

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Start Small Go Big

Start organizing small, then go big



How can SMALL and BIG be used together for organizing?  When we think of these opposites, can we use these together in getting organized?  Well here’s how!


Organizing and productivity are overwhelming. The most frequent question is how do I get started?  Whether your view is a cluttered desk or home, it’s not clear where, when or how to get started. And what about the next steps? Is that starting with the small of units, like organizing your paper clips or the shoes in your closet?  Or do you go big with the big stuff? Here’s answers to these 2 important questions.

Start small

I love the question, how do I eat an elephant? Its the analogy I use most often in presentations.  Of course the answer is one bite at a time!  It’s in getting start in a small way that gets you started at all.  It doesn’t matter if you take a nibble at the trunk or the foot, starting with a nibble gets you started. Your nibble in your home could be the junk drawer in your kitchen, the floor of a closet, the shelf in a linen closet or the papers in your kitchen.  Nibbling can be an amount of time, like only 15 minutes.  A nibble can be a number, like picking up 3 items to donate.  Your office nibbling can be your inbox, a bookcase, or a file drawer.  Decide what small looks and feels like to you then set a date on your calendar to commit.


Go big

Look around at your home or office.  What’s the big stuff in your way?  We organizers call it macro organizing.  Start with the big stuff when you keep on organizing.  It’s not the time to launch into complex sort ing of your stuff. It’s also not the time to go to that shoebox full of small random items.  Work on the big stuff first.   Big stuff open up space. That’s the space you see and feel.  It’s the big stuff that helps you break through being stuck and you feel the openness of your space.  Take a big picture with your papers too.  What are the big categories you can sort?  Broad categories make it easier to work through tedious papers.


Is this a new perspective for you?  Have you thought you needed hours to organize and never started?  Have you walked about from your papers after creating an overly complicated system?  Here’s a new way to make organizing happen for you.


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Words Matter: My Organizing and Productivity Mantras

organizing and productivity



For over 15 years, I have been sharing organizing mantras with my clients. These come out when we are working together on organizing and productivity.  These also come together as I create presentations and work with virtual clients.  These come from years of experiences, in a variety of settings, for organizing and productivity.  I am sharing these here to help you on your organizing and productivity journey too.


Less Stuff = Less Stress

All your stuff takes a toll on your. You have to take care of it, put it away, make sure you have it, and make sure it works when you need it.  That’s a lot of care for stuff.  The more stuff we have the more stress we have on just how to take care of it.  It’s hard to do, but less stuff means you have less stress.


A little structure goes a long way

Structure is the way you set up something. It could be the way you set up a space, like a desk or a kitchen, or a day, like your schedule and calendar.  It’s the way that we establish what’s around us that matters most.  The impact of structure is that you set yourself up for success.  The reason a little structure makes a difference is to keep you nimble.  A little structure keeps you within a good working routine and complete chaos.


People matter, stuff doesn’t

Recently at home we had a small accident.  There was sadness and, well, some blame.  As I said to my family, people matter, stuff doesn’t.  It’s a reminder that truly relationships are the most important part of our lives.  The stuff we have either adds or diminishes relationships.  Let’s make people matter the most.  That’s not to say that taking care of your stuff isn’t important, however its important to keep it all in perspective.


Plan your work and work your plan

Planning in itself is not enough.  It’s getting started and working your plan that makes the difference.

Keep it simple sweetie

If you tend to over complicate and make work too complicated, this is the mantra for you.  It’s about choosing the most simple process to get the results  you want.


Hugs and Happy Organizing

Hugs and happy organizing is how I sign my success notes for my clients.  It’s that happy feeling because you are more organized and productive.  Check out lots of before and after successes with my clients in this Hugs and Happy Organizing category of Ellen’s Blog.


I’d love to hear the mantras that inspire you to be more organized and productive.  Add a comment here!



people matter stuff doesn't





The Secret of How a Reset Helps You be More Organized

reset your home, office and life


Days and weeks take a toll on our organization and productivity. We work hard and play hard. Some times our organization suffers because we are too busy.  That’s why a reset can make a difference.


What’s a reset?

By definition a reset is when you get back to your baseline, get started fresh and get back in order.  It is typically a verb that shows the action of placing back. It means to move (something) back to an original place or position. However, let’s think of it as noun to help you restore order.


When do I reset?

It’s a best practice to reset daily and weekly.  A daily reset is getting your bags emptied and reorganized, your kids’ backpacks uncluttered, and  your clothes in a hamper or hung up.  Each evening take 5 minutes (with your family) to reset your home. That is to restore order to important bags, spaces and spots to have a fresh start for the next day. A list can help you be sure you reset all the areas that are important to you.


Make your your week starts with a weekly home reset ion Sunday. It’s your preparation for having a great week.  Take 30 minutes to check your calendar for the week so you know what’s ahead..


A weekly office reset is best on Friday.  At this time you are most in touch with your projects and tasks. Capture information, get your desk back in order, create files for loose papers and tidy up your space at this time.


What else is behind a reset?

In the book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explains small changes in behavior and the impact. With a reset, you are applying the science of change to your life in a way that can make every day better. Life with new habits requires reminders and practice. Build in support for this new habit with baby steps, attaching your reset to an existing habit, and acknowledging how important can be for you.


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Fresh Start Spring Organizing

fresh start spring organizing


With small green buds peeking out from the trees, or maybe just many feet of ice melting, spring is around the corner (thankfully.)  It’s been a long winter of nesting. We may be especially looking forward to the change of seasons.  We want to get started on our spring organizing.


“Reset” frequently used spots

It’s time to recheck those spaces that are frequently used in your home. Those spots are the landing strip and command center.  The landing strip is where all your bags and backpacks land each afternoon.  Get this area back into shape by distributing what needs to go elsewhere in your home.  Pull out the mittens, scarves and boots and place them back in closets for next year.  Your command center is paper central for all incoming papers.  Review what is there, recycle and shred what is not needed.


Closet renovation

Another season has passed and you know there are lots of unworn items in your closet.  Before you do your season switch out, get started by pulling out, donating and consigning unworn items.  It will make room for spring and summer, as well as help you lighten up your space.  If clothes have gotten out of whatever order and organization is best for you, go back in and realign.  You may find even more to eliminate after this is reorganized.


Linen reorganization

Spend a few minutes reviewing your linens. Do you have too many blankets and sheets for your needs?  Let go of extra blankets, pillows and older linens.  Take these out to donate and create space. Have towels that are ripped or not a color the coordinates?  Move these out to the garage for spills.     Fluff up your bed by switching out to lighter linens.  Let go of those extra decorative pillows (that you don’t place on your bed daily) and simplify your bedroom.


Fresh start your pantry

Spring and summer are about fresh veggies. Make room for this in your kitchen, refrigerator, freezer and pantry.  Go through and discard expired foods.  Set up spaces that are designated for categories of food, like breakfast, dinner and snacks, so you can easily plan and make meals.  Label your shelves for easy access and putting groceries away.  It’s a great way to welcome spring, improve your eating habits, and make wellness choices easy.

happy spring daffodils


Finish up your fresh start with a new plant or flowers in your kitchen.  It’s a lovely reward for your hard work!  A fresh start for your spring organizing is a great way to be ready for the season.


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How setting limits helps us be more organized and productive

HOw setting limits helps you be more organized and productive

We live in a world with few limits. There’s unlimited information on the internet. There is no limit to the number of projects we can start.   There are few limits to the amount we can purchase.  No one wants to hear about the limits we put on ourselves or others put on us.  It’s against our nature to accept limits at times.   However, setting limits can make life more organized and productive.


Why limit ourselves?

Is it possible that we need a relief from all the options?  Studies show that when faced with an overwhelming number of options, we have an overwhelming amount of decisions.  Each day we make up to 35,000 decisions in a day, ranging from what to eat for breakfast to whether to continue a relationship to where to invest for marketing your business.  With all these decisions, we tire through the day with decision making.  Can we really make all the good decisions when faced with so many decisions? That’s where limits come in.  Maybe what we need to focus on is our priorities for the sake of good decision making.  Save your best decision making for what’s most important to you.

What should we limit?

There are empowering positive limits for our space, our time and our relationships.  Think of your home as a container filled with items.  There is a finite limit to what you can easily access with storage in your home.  The same applies to our time. There’s just 24hours /7days a week and that’ s all the time we have.  Here’s some ideas to get you started on limits.


For clothes and closets:

  • Purchase 50 hangers and that’s the limit of blouses you own.
  • Wear only dresses to work so that you have ready to go, ready to wear clothes each day.
  • Go with only a capsule wardrobe of color.  That’s where all your clothes coordinate and can be work interchangeably in your closet.
  • All your clothes must fit in one or two closets.


For offices and work:

  • Set Monday or Friday as an administrative day for paperwork, calendaring and other small tasks
  • Set a “closing time” at the end of the day for writing tomorrow’s plan
  • Use one drawer only for personal items.
  • Keep only one photo of your family on your desk.


For productivity:


If you find life and work too complicated, setting limits helps us keep things simple. By simplifying you are making it easier to be organized and productive.


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The ONE Question to Ask Yourself When You Declutter


Only question needed to declutter


Decision making can be paralyzing when you declutter.  It’s all the questions, decisions and options that weigh you down and bring organizing and productivity to a halt.  How long have we had it? When did we use it?  Do we love it?  How many do we need? When we are faced with decision making back to back, we shut down before we start.  How can we pare down the questions to just one question?  Here’s the ONE question to ask to declutter.


Would I use it today?


Would I wear this today?

It’s a combination of do I fit in it? Is it my style? Is this a color the complements my hair and eyes? With all these questions, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and make no decision.  If you put on an item, and decide you can’t or won’t wear it today, it’s time for that item to go.  It’s just that easy.


Would I use it today?

Would I baste a turkey with it? Cut up veggies with it? Can I use it today to cut down a tree or hammer in a nail?  If I can’t use it today because it requires repair or it’s not useful, it’s time to let it go and make room for another that can be used right away.


Would I refer back to it?

You’re about to start a landscaping or repair project, but would you refer to the article you cut out a while back to do that work?  Often when we collect service people or clip articles from a magazine, we are thinking that we would use this information later.   We have to admit sometimes it’s hard to find that information again and it’s easier to find it online.  If you can admit that the information will not be used or easy to find when you need it, you can let go of that paper.


Would I start this project today?

So many project, so little time! You may have started a project and it became complicated, unwieldy, or boring.  If you have moved beyond the project, you can let it go.  It can be donated if there are unused resources.   It’s completely okay to let it go as pieces.



Reflect on this question, “Would you use it today?”  It’s going to simplify decluttering, help you eliminate more, and get you started on organizing.


I look forward to hearing you and learning more about your organizing and decluttering.


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7 Simple Steps to Achieve any Goal in 2017

Get Organized Month. Be organized and productive!


In honor of national Get Organized Month, I’d like to offer you a simple, organized strategy to achieve your goals in 2017.   A template can be the best practice for achieving any goal.  It’s a standard that  you use to accomplish a task, series of tasks and goal.  More than ever, we have many goals and not much accomplished. Celebrate national Get Organized Month this year by applying this strategy each day in January and assessing it’s value on January 31.


Step 1:  Identify your goal


Write down what you want as a goal.  Be specific, measurable, realistic, and detailed to make accomplish the goal.  By writing it down, you are also committing to success.


Step 2:  Write out advantages for accomplishing your goal


Each advantage gives you justification of why to accomplish this goal now and how it fits your values and needs.  The more advantages you write down, the more likely you will keep working the system.  These benefits justify your time and energy.


Step 3:  Note obstacles to reach this goal.


What stands in the way?  Spell out obstacles to overcome and what will hold you back.  Identifying a challenge early on keeps you from being discouraged or giving up when the obstacle occurs.


Step 4:  Add in skills or knowledge required to reach this goal


There is more to accomplishing a goal than just desire.  At times, it requires higher level skills and learning.  Identify what you need to learn or what training is needed to reach your goal.


Step 5:  Create a team to reach your goal


Look for support and assistance around you.  There’s others who have strengths and skills to be collaborators.  With this in mind, who can be part of your team to assist you to reach this goal?  Reach out and partner up to reach your goal.


Step 6:  Plan your work and work your plan


Write down your detailed plan of action of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks to reach this goal.  Go beyond the planning phase and be sure to execute each step as planned. Assign a completion date for your goal. Every task and project requires a deadline.  Set a realistic deadline for you to complete your goal.  Your deadline keeps you accountable to accomplishing your goal.

Step 7: Assess your success

There’s an equal amount of learning both strengths and fails in accomplishing a goal. It’s important to celebrate the accomplishment. Just as important is reviewing attaining the goal. When you assess, you are looking for continuous, small improvements, also known as the kaizen method.


I’d love to hear about your progress in using this system. What flaws are you encountering? What’s holding you back?  What’s working well?  Your daily practice during Get Organized Month for 31 days will serve you well to create a new habit.










How to Set up Successful New Year Goals

start with the end in mind


New year goals have had a bad rap for a long time. It’s the natural time for a fresh start. We have goals for health, wealth and relationships.  However, each year 1/3 of American’s make a goal but that goal is dismissed in 6 months.  It’s not only the goal that’s important. It’s how to keep on track all year long with it.  Here’s how to set up successful new year goals.

Why define the goal

Stephen Covey, productivity guru, writes all about how to be your personal best.  Habit #2 of Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is to “start with the end in mind.”  When setting a goal, to “begin with the end in mind”  helps us chart a course for success. When we define the goal, we have a clarity.  What does the end look like?  What does the end feel like?  It’s a reminder of a road map analogy where you can’t travel to your destination without a road map.  Making sure your goal is well defined to get to the end.


goal setting measure your success


How to define the goal

Metrics are an important of defining your goal. How do you know you reached your goal? By setting up simple measure-able steps.  It’s part of the SMART goals acronym: Specific, Measureable, Achieveable, Realistic and Time based.  Be as specific as possible, with a measureable, realistic, achieveable time based goal.  In addition, write down your SMART goals to see these each day.

Make yourself accountable every day.  Keep a money log of where you spent every dime and a food journal for every bite.  Share your successes each day with supporters who help you stay on track.  It’s keeping your eye on the prize every day that helps you measure your success.


goal setting work as a team


Work in collaboration

There are lots of pieces to reach your goal. You may not  have all the skills to reach your goal.  Working in collaboration makes reaching your goal more fun and easier to accomplish.  The best practice is to seek out others who have a strength you need to reach your goal. At home and at work, your team helps you accomplish your goals.

When you work as a team, the energy of your team makes the difference. Research shows that positive thinking helps you view more possibilities. With more possibilities, there’s greater probability for reaching your goals.


goal setting keep your skills sharp

Sharpen your skills

Your goal may require more education, more organization, or more practice. You may already be aware of obstacles to your goal that can be avoided by learning more, taking a new track, or being more skilled.  In all these cases sharpening up your skills gets you to your goal.

Take a class to learn something new this year to make you more productive. Your business can expand as you read a blog, view a TEDx talk, or participate in a Mastermind group.  And besides, you are probably someone who loves to learn so feed that part of your soul!


What goal to set

Typically our new year goals are lose weight, get organized, or save money.  Choose a goal that has compelling reason with a great end in mind.

  • If it’s lose weight, what realistic number of pounds by what date do you want to lose?Who else is on your team who also wants to lose weight? What combination of tools will you use?  What skills can you sharpen to help you?


  • To be more organized, decide what space, what it will look like, and how many hours a week you will work toward the goal. Who can be your clutter buddy? What strategy will you use to declutter?


  • To save money, use a tracking tool to see where you spend money now, review what can be cut down, and create a place where will the savings be held.  How much do you want to save?


Reaching your new year goals doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does have to be strategic. While having a goal is important, what’s more important is to have a compelling reason to accomplish your goal.  Losing weight is really about living life more fully. Being more organized is really about being less stressed and sharing experiences.  You save money to be more secure in our chaotic world.  Find your compelling reason for your goal and it will make it much easier to stay committed.


More tips and tricks for productivity, organizing and related ideas here!







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Organizing: Streamlining or Unearthing Treasures


organizing streamlining or unearthing treasures


What’s organizing REALLY about?  Working together with my clients I see two different ways we work.  I also see the goals of our work in two different ways as well.  Organizing while both strategies accomplish what my clients want, each process differs slightly.  Here is my concept of organizing as letting go and organizing as unearthing treasures.


Organizing is streamlining and letting go.

You are overwhelmed with stuff.   Your goal is to have less, organize it and then keep your space maintained.  The first step  in your organizing project is to review what you have.  Then you assess it’s value. Do you use it or love it?  If neither applies, it’s time to eliminate this item.  As Marie Kondo says, “To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.” Working on having less is often the most motivating reason to get organized.


Organizing is unearthing treasures.

Your stuff is overwhelming you, but just culling out is not enough.  Your goal is to keep what’s most valuable to you.  Organizing can also be about finding and unearthing treasures. You can take the “treasure hunt” perspective where you sift through items to find what is most valuable to keep.  In choosing what’s most valuable, only you can be the judge.  It may be a long lost trinket or a check.  Organizing can be unearthing items that have been buried in what’s not important.



unearthing treasures

We found this treasure while working together! What treasures have you found while organizing?


When you unearth treasures, whether it’s financial or sentimental, you find real value in organizing.


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