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.

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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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

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

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?

Goal setting for the new year

Trying to make a change?  Here are some thoughtful resources  to begin the process!

10 Questions to Ask Yourself

My Specific Goals by MomAgenda

Organize to Revitalize

Zig Ziglar’s Seven Steps to Goal Setting

Organizing your new gadgets

In holidays past we were all about assembling toys and reading instruction manuals.  Now it is setting up your wireless and using your new smart phone!  We each have a different way of getting started on our new technology.  Some of us like to read on the internet, some of us like to play with the technology, others like our friends to talk us through the set up.  Let me offer a few hints with baby steps to get organized.

New Kindle or Nook

New mobile device like a smart phone

  • Verizon offers a class for their customers with blackberries, droids or other new phones. It is well worth the time to attend! I did! After struggling for 2 weeks with a new phone, it was great to get specific instructions on common tasks and shortcuts. 
  • Google instructions for your specific smart phone. There are an incredible number of online resources to suggest how to get started.
  • Just do it! It may be painful for the first 2 weeks, but the transition is worth it.  Remember when you travel to a new country how quickly you learn the language? When you “just do it,” it is the same immersion process. 

New computer, laptop or other hardware

  • Find a reliable, knowledgeable and trustworthy source to help with installation.  If you work with technology regularly, you know the shortcuts.  Consistently rely on the same source for set up for all your devices.
  • Before you transition, think about backing up all your data. I use and it has been a great resource.

New ipod,  ipad, itouch or iphone

  • Online resources will be a great help here.  Of course Apple offers a great resource here.
  • The Apple Store offers one on one, workshops and other training.
  • There is always the old fashioned way: by phone at 1-800-MYAPPLE. 

Calendar technology

  • Choose a calendar that will work well with your smart phone or find an app that will add your existing technology. With my smart phone, I added nitrodesk to be able to view my Outlook calendar.  You can use Google calendar automatically with your gmail accounts on Verizon products.  If you have an iphone, you can also sync with the google calendar.  Every phone is different, so check your provider for  more information. 
  • Set aside an hour to add as much current or upcoming information as possible.  Add dates from school, church, Boy Scouts, and any other events between now and June.
  • Begin adding in dates for birthday and anniversaries as recurring events.
  • Remember, each time a new date comes up, check your calendar, and enter the date.

Getting started with your new gadgets may take a few extra minutes but it will be well worth it! Remember, there are always a few glitches so be sure to persevere.  If you get stuck, talk with friends, google or call.  

What are your ways of organizing your new gadgets? 

Lifehacker’s link for shiny new gadgets

Keep It Simple Santa

It is the happiest of times and the busiest of times!  The holiday season is here!  Sharing a few ideas to help you celebrate this special time of year! 
Choose one

Whether is it choosing gifts, baking holiday cookies or sending Christmas cards, we often have complicated choices.  Choose one biggie and make it your best.  Simplicity is a powerful way to do your best and de-stress. 

Also, think about taking one task off your list this year.  Throughout the year we are busy, and the holidays are extra busy.   Take off that one task you dislike the most, you are least prepared for, or one you can delegate easily. 
Share the joy

Holiday time is filled with ways to share time and tasks.  Partner with family members to get tasks done, such as wrapping gifts, baking, or decorating.  Put aside perfectionism so your partners can be creative and have fun.  These moments make the holiday  most memorable.  

Think of others to share the joy too! Set a time and date in the next few weeks for family decluttering.  This is the perfect time to declutter with your kids help.  Have them help you load the car and go with you to donate too.  Used toys in good condition are appreciated by Goodwill now and all year long.
Spend time with people, not preparations

Nurture time with family and friends at this time of year.  Set a date and create a simple gathering with those who are most important.   Time together can be a visit to a museum, a picnic in a park, or a watching a holiday movie together.  Here is where the true joy of the season really shines.

Wishing you a very merry holiday season and the happiest of new years!  Hugs, happy organizing and happy holidays! 

Your Calendar and You! Making a Match!

Helping decipher the calendar code is what I do with my clients.  There is no perfect planner, but there is a planner that will make your life, your work and everything come together. 

A work at home mom and photographer who is also a very busy volunteer prefers google calendar.  She loves that it synchronizes with her phone so she only has one item to carry in her purse.  It is also compact, so no bulky planner to carry.  Her husband can enter dates and see all the family activities.  She adds dates consistently and loves that it is always updated.

A working single woman uses ical to track her work week.  She uses the week at a glance feature and color codes her appointments, her testing dates, and her administrative time.  The color coding reinforces what tasks she has to accomplish.  She add recurring dates and uses this feature to keep her on top of routines.

A part time working, part time stay at home mom with an additional small side business loves the planner pad.  This planner is only available online at  She loves the columns at the top of the week at a glance section to add tasks in categories, loves the month at a glance page to get an overview of the upcoming events, and loves that it comes in a notebook format.  She adds additional pages at the back to record information she uses regularly in her additional business. 

A busy entrepreneur loves his Outlook calendar.  He writes notes on index cards every day and enters into his calendar each evening.  What is especially helpful is adding reminders 15 minutes before each action item and dates.  He never misses an appointment or is late!

A blended family with 6 kids come together weekly and fill in their month at a glanc calendar that hangs in their kitchen.  Everyone talks about the weekly activities, while one of the kids fills in the dates on the calendar. Each family member knows that is going on that week.  Kids and parents refer to the calendar throughout the week to keep on top of pick ups, drop offs, and tasks. 

Call me old fashioned, but for my work I love the paper planner with week at a glance.  It really works for me as a visual tool, easy to access and great for planning.  I work with a week at a glance, have a weekly planning time to update and review what is coming up, and add items all the time. It is my most important tool for my business and my life balance.  I carry it like it is my “blankie” and never let it out of my sight. 

Think about your strengths, your needs and your work flow to make an effective choice!  What calendar system works for you?


At the recent National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization Conference, I learned from Dr. Wanda Bethea ( about the important of happiness. 

Happy people live longer, are more creative, generous, productive at work, in better health, and have higher income! 

 Dr. Bethea shared the value of positive psychology, including the study of people living an engaged, meaningful and pleasant life.  Dr Bethea’s introductions of several rating scales for happiness intrigued me in that adding a measurement tool for happiness made us even more aware of how important this emotion is to daily living.  Every day we face stressors, but are we generally happy?   Take the test and see.

If you found your score deficient, here are some ideas shared by Dr. Bethea to elevate your score. 

Write down 3 good things each evening.  Keeping a gratitude journal makes a difference.

Write a letter of gratitude to share on the phone or in person with the recipient.

Write about your future as if all had gone the best possible way, seeing the best possible future for yourself.

Identify your character strengths and cultivate one of them in five ways during a week. 

Create a vision board for happiness, what makes you happy,  brings a smile to you face, and bring inner joy.

Some of my ideas….

Surround yourself with optimistic people.

Find a quote you love or a silly saying to post on your mirror where you dress each morning.

Do for others. Nurture optimism in those around you by celebrating a birthday, bringing a surprise, or taking a cupcake to them.

Bring out the best strengths in others with affirmations.   Celebrate the small quiet kindnesses in our world. 

So what is the happiness and organizing connection?  For me it is about being  and feeling your best, living a meaningful and productive life.  And that is what organizing adds to in everyone’s life.  Happiness is the global result of organizing.   Share with me your steps to greater happiness!