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Combining prosperous work lives and balanced personal lives
February 2006

My goal is to bring you news, insights, and information about leading a balanced and prosperous life.

In this issue, you'll find:

  1. Getting Organized - Part II
  2. BossWoman coaching
  3. Up and coming workshops

1. Getting Organized - Part II

Last month we covered the first two of six principles to getting more organized in the New Year:

  1. How to hook your purpose(s) in life with your organizational structure;
  2. How to get away from archiving all you own and just keeping the most important things.

If you were not a subscriber last month or missed the issue, ask for the back issue (Susan@BossWoman.org).

This month we will continue with our series on tips on getting organized for the New Year.

More Principles of Getting and Staying Organized
Busy professionals don’t have time to create extensive and expensive organizational systems. If you are feeling a need to get better organized, start with the barest minimum. Small changes can make big differences.

Here is the continuation of organizing principles:

  1. Sometimes happiness is best attained by subtraction. The tendency to save something because you “might need it someday,” is a costly and anxiety ridden way to live. Don’t order the plastic containers from the catalogues to store more stuff you will never use until you decide:

    • What do you need to store? Do you really need it? Ask yourself whether you need the papers or objects right now or in the foreseeable future. Exceptions should be made for legal and financial documents. Consult your legal and tax professionals for guidance on how to store and when to purge those documents.

    • How much do you have to store?

    • How often do you need it? The answer to this question determines how accessible to make the files or objects. For example, your evening wear might go in the back of your auxiliary closet if you don’t go out very often while my evening wear needs to be in the front of my closet because my husband and I go ballroom dancing every week.

    • How you will retrieve your stored items when you need them?

    For right now, use what you have and keep noticing what is not working. Only when you have defined what your organizing aggravations are is it time to visit the organizing store nearest you. Then it makes sense to buy bins, folders, label makers, etc.

  2. There is no perfect system that will work for everyone. A coach or an organizational consultant can help you design a system that will work for the way your brain works. For example, I am very visual and kinesthetic in my learning style so an uncluttered “zone” system works for me. The zone system divides space into zones based on function. I offer my kitchen zone system as an example but know that it might not be the perfect system for you.

    • A food preparation zone with mixing bowls, knives, and mixing tools nearby.
    • A stove zone with cooking utensils nearby.
    • A serving zone with dishes, glasses, etc.
    • A leftover zone right next to the refrigerator with the plastic wrap, containers, etc. in drawers.
    • A home management center with a calendar, phone message paper, pens/pencils, scotch tape, paper scissors (the food scissors is located with the knives in the food preparation zone), rubber bands, staples, etc.

    My paper calendar is also divided into zones:

    • A philosophy of life section with my mission, purpose, and vision to remind me how I set priorities on my activities.
    • A monthly calendar section to glance at the bigger commitments.
    • A daily section with the pages of the current 6 weeks with plenty of room to write the smaller commitments including appointments and to-do lists.
    • A contact information section.
    • A project tracking section for following the major projects.

    My office has zones as well. I can move to a zone and everything I need to do for that function is available in that zone. Even my day has zones: sleeping, eating, working with clients, with pockets of time for office work and writing.

    If the zone system does not tap the way you work, try a color coded system or an electronic system. The key is to develop a system that you will actually use. Buying an expensive calendar is a waste if you never open it. If you are on the road in your job as a sales rep or interior designer, a computer calendar makes no sense. You need a paper or electronic system that is transportable.

  3. When your life changes, your organizational systems need to change. The natural times for you to tackle an aspect of your system is when you have a transition such as:

    • A promotion or retirement.

    • The arrival of household members (babies, elderly relatives, etc.) or departure (kids off to college, the elders moving on to their next stage), etc.

    • Seasonal transitions such as a summer break for college professors, a slow season in your business, a post-inventory time at your retail store.

    • Inclement weather when you spend more time inside such as during the winter in Minnesota or in the summer in Phoenix.

    • Moving time for your home or place of business.

    Here are some tips for dealing with reorganizing yourself related to a transition.

    • Some organizing tasks are best done before the transition while some tasks can only be done afterward. If you know that your old dishes won’t match your new kitchen décor, you can save moving dollars if you sort and purge before the move. However, if you do not have all of your furniture planned for the new space bring along your present stuff and decide later what fits.

    • Keep reminding yourself of the status you are moving towards and organize for that life best as you know it. Just like the “dress for success” principle of dressing for the job you would like to be promoted to, this principle guides you to have ready access to the equipment and materials you need in your new life. For example, if you are retiring from a corporate environment to a golf community, you will not need 85 wool suits but you will need golf outfits so pack up all but a few of your suits and donate them to your local women’s business group that collects suits for women transitioning back to work from being unemployed or underemployed.

    • If you don’t know what you will need, ask others in the new status what they use. If you are really unsure of what to discard, keep your current stuff in boxes marked with an expiration date usually one year from packing it up. Offices use this tip to archive records so that every year they get rid of old records from eight or ten years ago and then have room for the new records. When the expiration date arrives, resist the temptation to sort things in “case you might need something in here.” If you haven’t needed it in a year, you won’t need it this year.

  4. Stay organized. Sounds so obvious, right, but if you don’t schedule maintenance time you won’t maintain. Waiting “until I have more time” has not worked in the past, has it? If you do “find more time” let me know where you found it so that I and all my clients could have some of your extra time for ourselves. Instead of waiting until you have more time or finding some extra time laying around some where, book an appointment with yourself to straighten the living room, purge your files or clean out your purse.

    • What times of the day or week are most likely to be a time to check your files, calendar, to-do lists, etc.? Now write that task into your calendar as if it is a date with yourself because it is. Without a written appointment, you won’t think about it.

    • Notice how long it takes to clean or straighten. Can you set a timer and knock a few minutes off that time? Now book that time into your calendar. Depending on what needs organizing, you might be able to stay organized with 15 minutes increments a day or with one hour on Friday afternoons. You might like to take a Saturday in the office once a quarter. The maintenance schedule has to work for you.

I am collecting questions from last month’s and this month’s newsletters (Susan@BossWoman.org) and will answer them in a future issue.

Get a system, work a system. Make it your own.

Happy organizing,

Susan Robison

2. BossWoman coaching

About the publisher: Susan Robison, Ph.D. is a professional coach, speaker, author and seminar leader. She loves to coach women who want improvement in:
  • work-life balance,
  • career transitions,
  • building your business or practice,
  • time management,
  • increasing productivity.

If you are feeling stuck on the way to your ideal life, give Susan a call for a complementary half-hour coaching session.

She provides keynotes and seminars to business and organizations on the topics of:

  • leadership strategies for women,
  • relationships,
  • work-life balance,
  • change.

She offers her audiences a follow-up coaching session because she knows that workshops don’t work.

Contact Susan for your coaching, speaking, or seminar needs at Susan@BossWoman.org or at 410-465-5892.

3. Up and coming workshops

I have booked a number of work/life balance workshops for the winter that are not open to the public.
Contact me if your group needs a speaker on any of the topics listed above.

Title: “Happiness is an Inside Job: Creating Lives of Joy, Hope & Grace”
Date: March 3, 2006; Soup 6:00; Speaker 7-7:45
Place: St. Joseph Parish (Sykesville, MD)
Registration, fee, and directions: Andrea Springer 410-552-5402

To start receiving the BossWoman e-Newsletter send an email with “Please send BossWoman” in the Subject to: Susan@BossWoman.org.

BossWoman e-Newsletter is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Coaching should not be construed as a form of, or substitute for, counseling, psychotherapy, legal, or financial services.

© Copyright 2006 Susan Robison. All rights reserved. The above material is copyrighted but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as long as not a single word is changed, added or deleted, including the contact information. However, you may not copy it to a web site without the publisher’s permission.

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