April 9th, 2014
Posts in category: Office
March 18th, 2014
10 Ways to Get a Handle on Your Workload
When your workload has you overwhelmed, it will likely take a toll on your personal life, leaving you tired, anxious and left with no time for family and play. Inspired by Michael Hyatt's article in GettingOrganized Magazine (10 Reasons Why You Aren't Done Yet, Winter 2012), here are 10 ways to get control of your workload and lighten up.
1. Manage the Meetings
Make sure that the meetings you plan or attend are pertinent to your core objectives and will "advance your agenda". Ask yourself, or your associates, "do we really need this meeting"?
2. Stop Surfing!
Limit your time online. It's easy to get drawn in to link after link leading to another link. The internet, loaded with information, can easily waste your time. Discipline yourself to keep within the boundaries of only what is needed at the moment. Try setting a timer and stop at the bell.
3. Turn off the Pings
If your phone, text service and email inbox, not to mention your social media sites, ping you for every new message, it is difficult to keep your energy on the project at hand. Indeed, Interruption Science, which studies the effects of interruptions on job performance, has determined that answering notifications slows task performance. Unless it's a job requirement, you probably don't need to respond to these messages in real time. Turn them off to eliminate the distraction, perhaps scheduling time blocks in the day to check messages. This will also set a precedent for the people you communicate with; they will learn that during core work hours, your response time will be delayed. I'm guessing they won't mind.
4. Close the Door
The open door policy is great, especially if you are in management. However, if you work in an office, these interruptions can really slow down your work effort. Just like the email and texting, set a precedent that during a certain period of day, you close the door. A time management course I took years ago even suggested putting a sign on the door, such as "working on a project until 2 pm". Or graciously walk your un-scheduled guests to the door.
5. BALANCE Urgency
Everyone believes their issue is the most urgent; but it's not necessarily yours. Be sure to manage this with your associates. Alert your associates if you need more time to respond to their "urgent" requests. Again, set a precedent. Most demands are negotiable.
6. Don't Yield to Perfectionism
If you find yourself spending too much time trying to get something perfect, you may be a perfectionist, and you may be wasting time. Take this test on Psychology Today to see if you are. Not everything has to be perfect. Sometimes it's more important to just get it done so you can get out the door! After all, Confusious says: perfect is the enemy of the good.
7. Practice the Four Ds
A popular time and workflow management idea is called The "Four Ds"
- Delete it - if it's not important, just let it go
- Do it - If it's a priority, do it now
- Delegate it - If you have resources available, then delegate when you can
- Defer it - if it's not a priority, act on it later
8. Use a To Do List
There are so many to do list tools in the market now, from paper to technology, that it can be over-whelming to find the right one. Yet, managing your day with a to do list to set priorities is well worth choosing a tool and sticking with it. Choosing the right system is as easly as 1-2-3:
1. Keep it simple. Too many bells and whistles and you won't use it. Even a whiteboard in your office will get the job done.
2. Choose a system that allows you to do some categorizing, such as work/home/family.. or email/desk work/errands.. etc.
3. Pick a system that is easy for you to use. If you don't like to enter things into your phone, then don't use an app, no matter how popular or cool it is. Stick with paper.
9. Time it
Especially for the tasks you dislike or procrastinate, use a timer. Set it for 30 minutes and spend that time responding to emails, working on project X, writing the report and on. When the timer goes off, your done. You have the choice then, to keep going if you are in the groove. Or to move on if it's not a priority.
10. Schedule it
For major efforts, or regular required work, try blocking time on the calendar. I block off Monday afternoons to plan my week, call clients and get desk work done. If someone wants to schedule my time, I can legitimately say that the time is booked. I have found that Monday mornings and Friday afternoons are good times to get this type of work done, since not a lot of meetings are planned during these times.
Follow these tips and get it all done with time to spare!
October 11th, 2013
From my favorite magazine, the New Yorker, a cartoon by Jack Ziegler.
Consider your intentions for your paper storage. Send it to the shredder or recycle bin if you know you won't ever get to it. It doesn't have to be your burden!
September 30th, 2013
According to Don Joseph Goeway, author of Mystic Cool, "fear is at the heart of the disorganized mind." Stress affects the brain, particularly the not-so-intelligent part called the Amygdala, and results in risky decisions, agrressive behavior, a decline in creative thinking and closed off communication channels. Clearly, that's a disorganized mind!
I had the pleasure of hearing Don speak at the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) 2013 Conference. After articulating the why of something we already know - that stress is dangerous and unhealthy - he provided some great ideas and tools to help illuminate and eliminate stress.
... only 15% of the things we worry about actually happen ...that means 85% of the time, our worry is a waste of time! Think about that the next time you are stressed out trying to predict the future, ....then take a deep breath and stop wasting your time and brain-power with worry.
To clear stress clutter, a tool Don introduced called:
Stop and Stand Still
1. Start each day in quiet, by waking up little earlier than usual, than find a quit place and meditate. "When you're fully awake, take a few minutes to frame the day in a positive light. ...follow your breathing. Imagine each breath softening your heart and opening it wider. Feel appreciation for the gift of another day of life... Set the intention fo have a great day, achieving meaningful results in your work.., and to succeed at love, peace and joy."
2. Once a week, count your blessings. Research suggest that people who count their blessings experience lower levels of depression and stress and are more likely to make progresss towards important personal goals.
3. Take breaks. Take Walks. ...after 90 minutes of work, take a break, to maximize performance. Further, taking a 20 - 30 minute walk three times a week in a green environment dissolves stress hormones and oxygenates the brain.
4. Let your mind wander. Your openness to the seemingly irrelevant content of daydreaming intensifies the brain's creative process, increasing creative intelligence by as much as 40%!
Look at the sky.
Watch the wind blow.
Sense the way the sunlight encourages the grass and flowers to grow.
Look at people with the clear intention of not judging anyone.
Be as free as you can be...
Try it.. let me know how it goes!
For more, read Don's book, Mystic Cool.
September 8th, 2013
Vision without action is a daydream; action without vision is a nightmare.
-- Japanese Proverb --
It's like chemistry and timing, yin and yang, silver and gold...
See it, do it.
Buy it, use it, break it, fix it,
Trash it, change it, mail - upgrade it,
Charge it, point it, zoom it, press it,
Snap it, work it, quick - erase it,
Write it, cut it, paste it, save it,
Load it, check it, quick - rewrite it,
Plug it, play it, burn it, rip it,
Drag and drop it, zip - unzip it,
Lock it, fill it, call it, find it,
View it, code it, jam - unlock it,
Surf it, scroll it, pose it, click it,
Cross it, crack it, switch - update it,
Name it, rate it, tune it, print it,
Scan it, send it, fax - rename it
Touch it, bring it, pay it, watch it,
Turn it, leave it, start - format it...
July 30th, 2013
BALANCE Launches on Pinterest
We are very proud of our new Pinterest site, which will make it easy to share our favorite organizing solutions and some funnies too!
As their mission statement reads, "Pinterest is a tool for collecting and organizing the things that inspire you. We are located in sunny San Francisco, California." Thats two great reasons for BALANCE to have a presence there.
Check us out and tell us what you think!
July 16th, 2013
First watch this, to lighten the mood. My Mother sent me this video.. I love it. So funny.
Going paperless is still a challenge, even in this age of digital everything. My best advice is to start slowly. Here are 10 great steps you can take - knock them off, one at a time, and by 2014 you might just be paperless!
10 Great Ways to Get You to Paperless
1. Opt Out of Junk Mail Lists
Sign up for a service such as DMA Choice to opt out of junk mail and catalog lists. This is a simple thing to do and it will drastically reduce the amount of mail you receive. It's free, and so is CatalogChoice.org or you can go with a paid service like Updater.com.
2. Pay Bills Online
Most big banks offer an online bill pay service for free. Just be careful when selecting an online bill pay service if it is not from a known company - there are more than a few scams out there.
3. Sign up for eStatements
Sign up to receive statements online - from your bank, credit card companies and other financial institutions.
4. Curb the Need to Print
Much of the paper you have you will only look at once, so curb your habit to print. Before you hit "print" on that email, document, or receipt, ask yourself if you really need a paper copy of it. Chances are you don't.
5. Digitize Everything
Invest in a good scanner and digitize all those papers you have including old bills, important documents, even kids artwork. You'll need 2 key things to make this happen - a good scanner and an online storage service.
6. Create a System for Incoming Mail & Other Paper
Open mail as soon as you get it. If you are brutal about it, to be kind to yourself, you will recycle or shred 80% of it. Have labeled baskets or bin for "Shred", Recycle, To Read, etc. Remember, to manage incoming paper, the key is RAFT'd.
7. Go eBooks
Read Books with an eReader like Kindle, Nook or even your iPad or Phone. They are easier to use then you think.
8. Purge Old Books
Get rid of all those old books that are "non-keepers." If they are in decent condition, consider donating them to Goodwill or a similar non-profit. Or start your own Amazon store. Have a goal that every book on your shelf is:
- A book you will read again
- A book you will refer to
- A book you will give as a gift to a visitor
- A book that is a collector's item; an investment
- A book that is very meaningful or is part of the decor of your home (and these need to be nominal)
9. Minimize Magazine, Newspaper and Newsletter Subscriptions
Have subscriptions to only your very favorite periodicals. Be brutal about it to be kind to yourself. You can always subscribe online or buy one or two issues a year from the magazine stand. Most "free" subscriptions, like from your Insurance company or healthcare provider, can be stopped with one phone call or online request.
10. Convert Owner's Manuals into iPad "Books"
Most, if not all, owner's manuals can be found online now, especially the tech related items. They take up space, and how much do you actually ever refer to them? I realized I go online now anytime I have a product issue.
SOURCE: Thanks so much to Eden Godsoe of Skinnyscoop.com for this compilation, with my slight edits.
What do you think? I've gotten to 1, 3, 4, 6, 8 and 9. Have you ticked any off the list yet?
June 25th, 2013
What is the best way to deal with all that tech clutter, specifically, all the printer cords, phone chargers, the i-this and i-that cords? aargh!! I get this question a lot. I just put together some "best of Nancy" tips for a Journalist asking it again, so I thought I would share...
Nancy's Crème de la Crème Tips to Organize Your Technology "Cordage" Clutter
Regarding “cordage”, as I’ve named it, there are lots of products on the market designed to collect and house the cords in a tube or other management device. The problem with those solutions, however, is the nature of technology - fast-paced and short-lived. No sooner have you finished implementing this, and one of the items needs to be replaced or a new device added. Now you're starting all over!
The secret to cordage de-cluttering is to hide the unsightly look yet make sure they are very accessible.
One of the standard items I keep in my small client toolbag are Velcro cord wraps. I find they are the easiest and most reliable way to contain cables while keeping them accessible.
Another tip is simply to use light furniture, a large plant or decorative objects to block the view of the cords. Then, when you need access, you just move it out of the way.
Now, what about the recharging cords that need to be on the desk or countertop? There are many cool products to manage them, as pictured. Or do it the way I do and just use a big clip attached to a neat looking bowl or bin.
Finally, if you have the time, label the cords; Modem, Monitor, Color Printer, and on. It will save you time in the long run.
And there you have it. Manage that gadget!
May 28th, 2013
According to Gallup, lost productivity costs businesses $350 billion.
This is one area of hidden costs in your business, small or large, that is easy to remedy. Providing yourself and your staff with the resources they need to reduce desk clutter, manage their time and work at peak performance is worth the expense.
There are plenty of options in the marketplace. As my regular followers know, my favorite is David Allen, of Getting Things Done, or just hire your favorite Professional Organizer!
March 9th, 2013
Today, Saturday, March 9, the IKEA store in Emeryville, CA, is celebrating BYOF (Bring Your Own Friends) Day!
Join us for an in-store shopping event that offers fans and friends special perks, activities and giveaways, along with an opportunity to shop for items to help improve your life at home. We are excited to be part of this fun event at IKEA, a great place to find products to organize your home and office!
Everyone is welcome to enjoy…
- Ask a Home Furnishings Expert for free decorating advice!
- FREE food samples throughout the day.
- Free Life Improvement seminar – learn tips on how to improve life at home, featuring our own Nancy Castelli of BALANCE, who will tell you about the 5 best IKEA products to get you organized fast!
- Eat for FREE - Dine in our Restaurant & deduct your Restaurant total from any home furnishings purchase over $100!
- IKEA will be giving away $1,000 in IKEA gift cards through the day! (must enter for chance to win, see co-worker for details)
See you there!
January 15th, 2013
We designed six closets and a media center for a client in her new family home using the Elfa System at The Container Store. We saved $581 at their 30% off Elfa sale; over $600 if you include my NAPO Professional Organizer discount on the non-sale items! The BALANCE team is installing it and I'm going back tomorrow to design a garage mud room area as well. The Media Center pictured here ---->
Elfa is an excellent, reasonably priced way to make better use of a space, whether it's a closet, an entry way, garage storage or a shelving system. It's durable, flexible and looks great looking too. Though we would love to help you out, you don't need an Organizer for the design. The staff at Container Store are great at working with you to create a space-efficient system.
A tip: don't forget to sort and purge your stuff first before "containerizing" so you know what you have to contain in the space. And take photos of the stuff with you.
Don't delay - the sale ends in mid-February.
January 1st, 2013
If you do a web search, you will find, year after year, that to get organized is usually one of the top 10 New Year's resolutions we set for ourselves. Since it shows up every year, it is safe to assume that we often fail to achieve this rewarding yet difficult resolution.
This year I would like to suggest, not just in honor of our beloved yet suffering planet but to make it easy on you as well, that we rename this resolution and call it: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Getting organized is a term that carries weight from your past, laced with the idea that you should be able to get yourself in order. It can feel like a sacrafice. It's no wonder the edict is so unachievable.
On the other hand, striving to simply reduce, reuse and recycle in everyday life is a fresh idea. It is righteous, honorable and just as rewarding getting organized. Further, reducing, reusing, and recycling can help not just you and your family, but also your community, and the environment since is saves money, energy, and natural resources.
Get organized by:
- Reducing and reusing throughout your household.
- Get your stuff reused by donating it to your favorite charity.
- Recycling and repurposing clutter that doesn't serve you.
- Eliminating used electronics via a multitude of local options.
- Checking here for some options to get you started: www.epa.gov
And as ever, stay tuned to us here at BALANCE, where we can help you turn matter into energy!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
August 14th, 2012
I trust the links my clients forward me to be the best concepts around finding balance from clutter. I love this Carl Richards sketch and the message is clear. Don't forget the costs of clutter. Here are some examples of what your "too much stuff" is costing you:
- Cost of real estate, space and extra storage to house the "too much stuff"
- Cost of all the bins, hooks, shelving and containers to manage it
- Cost to your health - for most people, it is stressful to have clutter
- Cost to your image - a cluttered office, home or closet will reflect in your image and appearance.
- Cost of time - digging through the "too much stuff" to find what you really need
- Cost of redundancy - buying new stuff because you can't find what you need in the "too much stuff"
- Cost to your self-esteem - most of my clients are embarrassed and ashamed of their clutter
- ____ Am I missing any??
Holding on to clutter it is a waste of your hard-earned money. Another great reason to get organized at last!
July 26th, 2012
Most of us have clutter and "getting organized" problems in some area of our life. For many folks, paper is a big one and a close second is To Do List or Action List management. If you end up with multiple to do lists, whether its several half finished notebooks, a few legal pads or dozens of little sticky notes, it is a burden. One of my clients even said of his many pads of notes, that they "kind of tyrannize me!"
According to Merriam-Webster:
tyr·an·nize verb \ˈtir-ə-ˌnīz\
1: to exercise arbitrary oppressive power or severity
2: to treat tyrannically : oppress <a regime that tyrannizes its citizens>
Maybe it's worth taking the time up front to consolidate the lists and get disciplined about tracking them in the future. I am a big fan of David Allen (Getting Things Done) for time management stuff, who highly recommends having a compatible workflow system for getting things done. He asserts doing so in order to capture all the things that need to get done into a logical, trusted system outside of your head and OFF YOUR MIND. Thus, you free up your mind to recieve new information, to be present in the moment, to improve your performance ...it's all good!
So choose a source - paper, electronic, notebooks - wisely considering convenience and accessibility. When you get to the task of consolidating:
- Set a timer – for example, for 20 minutes – and just do the consolidating and getting things done until you hear the buzzer.
- If an item on the list will take 2 minutes or less, get it done immediately. Quick phone calls, emails and fast tasks.
- If an item has been on a list for a long time or has been transferred from list to list, it is likely not something you really need, want or have as a priority, so remove it from the list completely. Remember, be brutal about your list to be kind to yourself. You are a unique, important and busy person so be arrogant about what gets to stay on your list. Is it worthy of your time? Does it fit into one of your top 5 life goals? If no, buh bye.
Carry on, man. Fight the to do list regime of tyranny!
July 20th, 2012
It was great to be a part of Tony's growing Small Business Forum Radio program; a radio show dedicated to supporting Small Business Owners. Our show in April specialized in helping you save money in Digital Marketing as well as getting back lost revenue from your clutter.
May 19th, 2012
Polystyrene loose-fill packing materials, more commonly known as "packing peanuts", actually only contain about 0.4% polystyrene resin. The other 99.6% is simply air. That could be why it didn't take long to produce an eco-friendly alternative - the cornstarch peanut - which is 100% biodegradable and can be tossed in the compost pile. The Styrofoam version cannot be recycled and is a problem when it ends up in the landfill. The bottom-line, either way, is that packing peanuts end up as clutter in many offices and households.
What's the answer, you ask? Of course we have it here at the headquarters of How to Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 Days!
• Many packaging stores (like UPS and Mail Boxes, Etc.) will take your peanuts and packing material.
• Find a local drop-off location at the Plastic Loose Fill Council or call their Peanut Hotline at 800-828-2214.
• Toss the cornstarch peanuts in the compost. (Don't eat them, man. contrary to a recent ad campaign, it's not a vegetable!)
• If you don't compost
• Cut up/shred the peanuts with scissors and mix with potted plant soil. The peanuts will break down and dissolve into the compost or soil over time.
• Fill a large bucket or trashcan with the packing peanuts. Add hot water to dissolve the peanuts. After the packing peanuts have dissolved, pour the starch residue and water down a drain.
Finally, for a packing peanut alternative, use shredded paper. If you don't have a shredder to protect yourself from identity theft, we strongly recommend you get one. If you do, and ideally if it's a cross-cut shredder, it's a great packing matierial alternative. A different messy problem to plastic peanuts, but on both ends its recyclable.
May 17th, 2012
For businesses large and small, here's a planet-friendly tip: stop receiving mail meant for former employees by visiting the Ecological Mail Coalition. For every former employee entered into the site's database, a company will avoid 100 pounds of waste in undeliverable mail. That's equivalent to one tree! Since the estimate is that one former employee's bulk mail costs your business $18 or more, it's another win-win!
May 16th, 2012
Piles of magazines are a perfect example of the symbiosis of sustainability and organization. To be sure, symbiosis, defined:
sym·bi·o·sis - noun -
1: the living together in more or less intimate association or close union of two dissimilar organisms; especially : mutualism
2: a cooperative relationship (as between two persons or groups)
In reference to piles of old magazine subscriptions, by minimizing the magazines you read to those that you can consume in a timely fashion, you eliminate both the annoying clutter that clogs up your space and the need to fell trees - a planet hardship; the natural symbiosis of living a sustainable and organized life.
So for the planet's sake, consider your situation with magazines. I was at my local library and they were selling bundles of magazines for $1.00. What a great way to get rid of your piles of magazines - the library will reuse them. Besides the library, other places who may want your magazines include a doctor’s office, hospital or laundromat; a residential home or hospice; and schools, for children’s art projects or class work. You might even find a bookstore that will credit or pay a pittance for them. Save another bunch of trees by cutting back on the number of subscriptions you have to just those you love and can actually read in the short term. (Don't forget, magazines have a short shelf life)
Read on, but not so it hurts!
Stay with us for more ideas on How to Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 Days - One simple tip a day to help you live organized and sustainable.
May 15th, 2012
Three for Tuesday - a 3-part tip on letting go of your old tech gear at last!
What to with all your old technology...? I find most people are reluctant to donate or discard computers, cell phones, hard drives and other data devices for fear that someone will get access to your confidential information. That is a valid fear. Data theft is actually pretty easy for a reasonably savvy scoundrel. Yet, once it's clean, it's pretty easy to eliminate this gear responsibly, thoughtfully or even profitably!
Part 1: Erasing the confidential data
Here’s a great video from PC World that guides you through several options to completely erase your hard drive, including the sledgehammer approach!
For mobile phone data, there are companies who would like to recycle, reconstruct and resell your old cell phone. As a service, they provide details on how to clear it for just about any mobile phone.
Pace Butler’s Data Erase Page
Secure Trade-in's Data Erase Page
Part 2: How to eliminate Tech Gear, the charity route…
There are likely several options for eliminating your tech gear right around the corner from your home. Most are run by non-profit organizations looking to fund raise. Making a quick phone call to your neighborhood school or community organization may be all you need to do to find out when the next technology drop-off day will be right in your hood!
Here are a few resources for you as well:
- The Consumer Electronics Association sponsors a Recycle Electronics locator service. (While visiting there, you might also find the Energy Calculator interesting, to find out how much in energy dollars your electronics are costing you monthly and annually.)
- If you have working products to donate and want to be sure they go to a non-profit who can use them, Christina.org will take care of you. Just let them know what you have and where you are and they'll hook you up!
- Find a location here to take your Sony electronic products
- Check out your nearby Office Depot Store, Staples or Electronics Store as most of them have a recycle program to offer.
Part 3: How to eliminate Tech Gear, the money route…
If you're short on funds and would like some money for your tech gear, you can always try to sell it on ebay.com or craigslist, but for the fastest route, I <3 Gazelle.com, who will give you a quote for your working tech gear. Check out my previous blog post for more Gazelle.com details.
Thanks for staying tuned to How to Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 Days – daily tips, inspiration, and food for thought on living sustainable and organized. Improving our planet and your life, brick by brick:
“I avoid grandiose plans. I start with a small piece that I can do. I go to the root of the problem and then work around it. It's building brick by brick.” Muhammad Yunus
May 9th, 2012
Don’t sweat the small stuff when recycling your paper, meaning the sticky notes, staples and such. In the paper recycling process, it all gets put into a big vat and pureed into a pulp "smoothie" where the random paper clip, staple or the sticky note glue substances get separated out. So recycle freely!
May 8th, 2012
Two Tip Tuesday! Part 2.
In most offices that I have organized, a portion of the clutter is always office supplies. We gather tools of all kinds to support ourselves in our daily work, yet, since things changes constantly, there may no longer be a use for much of the office supplies you have gathered over the years to be productive. Meanwhile, most school teachers, already underpaid, are faced with shrinking budgets and forced to forage on their own for tools, school supplies and craft projects. Put things back in balance by sorting and boxing up office supply overstock and donate it to your local school. During the school day, just walk in with a box of it. This simple act will make you feel so good to when you see how grateful they are to get your clutter!
If stopping at a school is not convenient, here are some alternatives:
Do Something.org - who partners with Staples each year for a school supply drive
DonorsChoose.org - where you can choose a project based on a topic that interests you
Adopt A Classroom - who matches donors with a classroom in need of supplies
A bonus to this planet-friendly tip is that if you take the time to gather, sort and edit/purge your office supplies, it will make an impact in organizing your office. The process will make the space to move forward in organizing the other key area of office clutter - paper and files.
Thanks for joining us for How to Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 Days - practical tips, inspiration, and food for thought daily on living sustainable and organized.
April 26th, 2012
Due to the short shelf-life of the tech gear we so love, hundreds of millions of used cell phones are taken out of service each year. Two brothers founded ReCellular, Inc. to refurbish, reuse and responsibly recycle discarded cell phones. The aim is to keep valuable materials out of landfills, including an estimated $630,000 of precious metals from circuit boards, and enough copper from phone chargers to recover the Statue of Liberty, twice!
You can sell your old iphone or blackberry here
Buy a refurbished model for a bargain (at the store appropriately called Mobile Karma
Donate your phone by using the locator to find one of 40,000 drop off locations. The site even has a handy little Data Eraser service to determine how to erase all your confidential information!
Tres eco, ReCellular Inc.!
Please stay tuned to Get-Organized-Save-Planet-in-60 for 55 more days of practical tips, inspiration, and food for thought on living sustainable and organized. Got Clutter?
April 23rd, 2012
Start at the mail box. Go to www.dmachoice.org or if you are in the San Francisco bay area go to stopjunkmail.org. At least 80% of your mail is someone trying to sell you something, and the Direct Marketing Association will stop most of that by going through their now mostly online process at DMAchoice.org.
Take af few minutes. Log in. Fill out the forms.
It's simple. It works. It's worth it.
If you want more information on this tip, contact me.
Please stay tuned to Get-Organized-Save-Planet-in-60 for 58 more days of practical tips, inspiration, and food for thought on living sustainable and organized. Their symbiotic!
April 20th, 2012
In his report on the economics of global warming in 2006, Sir Nicholas Stern calls climate change a “market failure on the greatest scale the world has seen”. Then the economy failed, and our collective eye got further off the ball. Maybe it's time for one small change a day? That's what we think here at BALANCE Organizing Services based in ultra eco-friendly San Francisco.
In the seven years since opening her Professional Organizing practice in San Francisco, Nancy Castelli has morphed into a Save-the-Planet zealot. Yet her authentic and intuitive approach is really about getting her clients organized. "Getting organized is all about sustainability", Nancy quotes in a book she co-authored (Get Organized Today). "Putting the stuff that doesn't serve you back out into the Planet to serve someone else is simply the right, sustainable thing to do." Nancy brings a refreshing perspective to the long-begrudged task of finally getting organized, making it about the planet and living a sustainable life, rather than making it about you and your past transgressions around clutter. Her planet-friendly advice and philosophy will have you clearing out your closets, liberating yourself of stuff, and minimizing your planet-footprint in no time.
To celebrate seven years in business, and to help her clients and followers launch optimistically into the spring cleaning season, Nancy has put together a 60-day virtual event series chock full of daily inspiration, moments of brillance and practical, executable tips to eliminate clutter in a sustainable way. If you haven't had a good excuse to clear your clutter, well, you just got one! Do it for the planet's sake.
How to Get Organized and Save the Planiet in 60 Days starts Sunday, April 22nd, apropos that it is also Earth Day 2012. It is a 60-day virtual event series to help you get organized in a sustainable way and serve the planet. Smart and illuminating daily updates include:
• Organizing tips that are sustainable.
• Sustainability tips that will get you organized too!
• Coaching advice to motivate you to action.
• Inspiration and sustainable food for thought.
• Videos, prizes, and more...
Stay tuned by flowing the BALANCE blog, BALANCE on Facebook (facebook.com/balancesf) or on Twitter (@matter2energy).
I was interviewed this afternoon on Blog Talk Radio by Tony Wilkins, the Voice of Small Business Radio. Give a listen. In the first part of the show, Tony talks with Feras Alhlou, President and Founder of E-Nor, who is a Digital Marketing Evangelist. Feras divulges some great information on how to measure, analyze and prioritize your website activities and he proceeds to take the science out of Google Analytics.
About half-way through the one hour segment, at about 29:30 minutes into the program in fact, I join Tony for the second half of the show. In our interview, I share a little bit about my background, some great practical and inspirational tips on getting organized, how to get started on an organizing project, stories and more... Listen for my astute (?) quote: "There's gold in your clutter, man!"
It was a pleasure to talk to Tony and I hope you find some inspiration from this program.
April 6th, 2012
In my daily readings, I came across these words of wisdom from the book by Dumont Monte, 365 Steps Towards Harmony. Feng Shui is at the heart of my practice. In almost everything you read or study about Feng Shui, the number one rule is to be organized and eliminate clutter from your space. Even if you don't practice Feng Shui, you probably agree that a cluttered space is a block to productivity and peace of mind. "Rooms crammed full of junk tend to block and impede the fruitful interaction between individual energy fields. Energy must be able to flow." Before a Feng Shui master can really begin to analyze a space or before you can gain true benefits from a Feng Shui Assessment, you must clear away the mess.
"You will be surprised to see how many problems disappear and how few aids are still necessary to set positive energy free."
Here is Dumont's Check for Cleaning Up:
- Commit yourself to clearing away the mess
- Decide on a starting date and write in on your calendar
- Set yourself a realistic goal - decide in advance how much you want to achieve
- Make a timetable
- Have bags and boxes at hand to dispose of the rubbish
- Work behind closed doors
- Before starting, take a few minutes to sit down and relax
- Work from the top to the bottom
- Have you got too much of everything? Part with it, even if it hurts! Decide as you go along - what purpose does a thing serve? Is it instrumental to your well being?
- A good exercise is to get rid of one object a day.
- Only acquire new things after ridding yourself of the old ones.
March 23rd, 2012
My favorite product at the Organizer Conference Expo is Neat Receipts - an easy way to go virtually paperless.
A nominal investment in this remarkable product will make it easy for your to digitize bills, bank statements, receipts of any size and even all those annoying but essential to record business cards. Neat also simpllifies the process of organizing these documents and even move them up to the cloud for safe storage. if I don't win it in the raffle, i'm going to get me one!
March 5th, 2012
A little bit of BALANCE showed up in today's online San Francisco Examiner. Check out the story here, written by Laurie Farr.
National Procrastination Week, March 4-10, has arrived again. What a good time to think about how refreshing it is to clear out the closet clutter. Ditto for the attic, garage, shelves and garden shed. No need to think about moving, because it is easy to gain space at home. However, some people could use help in tackling the job and procrastination is just not the answer.
March 1st, 2012
Here are some excerpts from an article by Alicia Ciccone in today's edition of The Huffington Post. Most of us spend well over half of our waking hours at work, so it's good to be sure that it isn't "killing you"!
"Is your office killing you? Hours of sedentary, stressful work under bad lighting is taking a big toll on your well-being -- and the health risks extend far beyond junk food at the vending machine. ...here are eight tips -- from simple modifications to high-tech gadgets -- to help ward off the Grim Reaper at work.
#1 Stop Hoarding
OK, so desk clutter may not be killing you, but it certainly is killing your work. In fact, a cluttered workspace can significantly hinder your productivity and mental clarity, according to organizing guru Nancy Castelli, founder of BALANCE.
"Clutter is self-inflicted stress," Castelli says. "You waste time looking for something, then waste more time reproducing it because you couldn't find it."
Castelli recommends following a popular organizing acronym:
A- Assign a space
#2 Drop the M
It's easy to let your diet spin out of control, but eating processed, fatty foods directly contributes to the expansion of your waistline, which significantly increases your risk of developing heart disease and Type II diabetes.
By brown-bagging your lunch, you know exactly what's in your food, and you're also limiting your options.
# 3 Don't Stress
While stress may seem an ever-present part of your workday, continued stress without any relief can cause adverse body reactions. According to WebMD, ongoing stress can attribute to headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pains and problems sleeping.
When work has you in a frenzy, it's best to mentally check out for a few minutes and get some peace and quiet. Yoga gurus recommend completing some simple breathing exercises and meditation to stabilize your heart rate and refocus.
# 4 Straighten Out
While sitting at a desk all day seems safe compared to hard labor, millions of Americans are doing long-term damage to their joints, muscles, tendons and spine by not utilizing a proper work station setup or simply sitting up straight.
# 5 Get Some Sleep
While sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your body, most of us do everything in our power to avoid it -- working overtime and having too many late night distractions. Sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on your immune system, memory, mood, metabolism and general overall well-being.
# 6 Step Away from the Computer
While researchers have yet to conclusively prove that computers cause permanent eye damage, the unnatural, backlit glare of a computer screen almost certainly causes eye strain.
While many can't escape the reality of staring at a computer screen all day, there are several preventative measures that can help reduce eye strain, headaches and neck soreness caused by overexposure.
# 7 Walk this Way
No amount of gym time can make up for the eight-plus hours you spend sitting at your desk only moving your eyes and fingers. Catrine Tudor-Locke, a specialist in walking, said the minimum amount of steps a person should take in a day is 8,000. In reality, the average office worker logs between 3,000 to 5,000.
To counter the effects of sedentary work, specialists recommend standing desks and conducting walking meetings.
# 8 Drink Up
While the common notion of drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day is slightly off from the Institute of Medicine's recommendations, (13 cups for men, nine for women), the health benefits of drinking water are widespread. ...even mild dehydration can cause you to feel tired and less energized, according to the Mayo Clinic.
While keeping a water jug at your desk is your best bet for adequate (and affordable) intake, ...Snacking on fruits and veggies like tomatoes and watermelon, which are nearly 90 percent water by weight, are a great and tasty source of fluids to keep your bodily systems functioning.
February 24th, 2012
Whether you are organizing the kitchen drawer, a closet or an entire room. the process of getting the work done can be simplIfied into a basic five-step process identified by the acronym "SPACE". This approach, first established by Julie Morgenstern, is only slightly modified here:
Sort – Sort all items into basic categories
Purge, or edit, if necessary – consider whether each item is active and serves you. If it's not beautiful or useful to you, let it go!
Assign a space – Consider the size requirements and keep like things together. Accessibility is key here; if you use it often, put it in a easier to access location.
Containerize – Remember to reuse or repurpose before you buy. Be sure to measure hieght, width and depth of spaces and add those dimensions to your shopping list.
Energize - Live with the changes for a while to make sure it works for you within your life flow, and modify if necessary. Monitor the space ongoing as your life changes.
The key to your success here is to do every one of these steps and, most importantly, to do them in this order. If you only do some of them, or if you do them out of sequence, they can be highly ineffective. And don't for get to label things during the containerize stage, especialy for multi-person households.
As ever, if you need help, give us a call at BALANCE.
January 25th, 2012
Most, if not all, organizing projects do not start with shopping for containers. Indeed, that is almost the last step. The process actually begins with sorting and purging, then you choose where to put things based on usage, accessibility, proximity, etc. Only then, once you know what you have for a space, is it time to "containerize".
Having said that, any organizing endeavor needs a reward to motivate you, though getting organized is its own reward. This time of year, I like to remind my clients that Container Store is having their annual Elfa System sale, but don't start by going to the Container Store and buying a new closet system. The sale is now through February 13th, so there is still time to organize the closet first. If you do so, the system in which you invest will serve you much better.
Here are the basic steps for closet organizing:
1. Make space. Clear off the bed or the hall way or make some room around the space where the closet is.
2. Get some supplies, including trash bags, a marker, sticky notes, and a few baskets or bins. Designate the containers as follows:
- Elsewhere: This container is for items that belong elsewhere in your home. Don’t waste your time going to put them away. Put them in this bin to put away later or it may distract you and disrupt your organizing effort.
- Donate: This container is for items you will donate to your favorite charity.
- Give Away (or name of person, people) – This container(s) is for items you want to give to someone else, perhaps to someone at work or a family member.
- Optional: Sell – should you choose to have a garage/yard sale or sell on eBay or Craigslist.
- Recycle – This one is obvious! For our planet, recycle much as possible!
- Shred – This one is necessary if you will be going through paper. Shred anything with an account number on it!!
3. Now Organize, which means pull each item out of the closet and decide if that item is active and serving you. Ask yourself these questions:
Is it Useful?
Is it Beautiful?
Do I love it!?
Have I used it in the last year or so?
If there are no Yes answers to the above questions, put it in the appropriate bin to eliminate it.
As I tell my clients, be brutal about your stuff to be kind to yourself. Make the hard choices. The less stuff you have, the easier your life will be; more ordered and productive.
4. Sort the Keep items by type. Also decide whether items are best kept in this closet or perhaps belong elsewhere.
5. Measure and purchase a system. Once you have a completed sort of all the items that will go into the closet, it's now time to take measurements of the closet. You actually may determine that you don't need a new system for the space; all the better as you are now closer to finishing. If you do need a system, measure the closet depth, height, width and be sure to measure the door height and width as well. You can now go online to containerstore.com where a design system will walk you through creating a closet and the parts you need to buy. Or just head out to the Container Store where the rep will help you with the design and what closet accessories you will need, be it drawers, shelves, hanging rods, divider racks, hooks, etc. As you design, consider the categories of items that will go into the closet and general volume, to insure you have the right space for everything. For example, if hanging clothing, how many inches of hanging clothing? If books, how many feet of books?
6. Now install the closet and put everything into it. The installation can be a laborious step, unless you have a willing handyman in the house who will have fun with it. If there is no such resource, hire someone. It serves you to get it done and it serves the local community to employ someone else to get it done. There will be payoff every time you look into your well ordered closet and every time you find something quickly when you need it!
Reward yourself with a well ordered closet now, while the price is right!
And as ever, call us if you need help!
December 28th, 2011
I was taking care of some business at City Hall and was asked what do we do at BALANCE. When I explained my occupation as an Organizer, helping people to get rid of clutter and find order in their home or business, the agent said "oh, so you are like a Qi Master". A Qi Master, yes, that is just what I do!
In traditional Chinese culture, qì (also chi or ch'i, pronounced "key") is frequently translated as life energy, life force, or energy flow. In Chinese Medicine, balanced and free-flowing qi results in health; while stagnant or imbalanced qi leads to disease. In the same way that an acupuncturist diagnoses physical imbalances, and works to re-establish free-flowing qi in the human body, and the practitioner of Feng Shui perceives energetic imbalances in natural or man-made landscapes, and applies various techniques to remedy those imbalances, so do I, as an Organizer, work with my clients and their clutter imbalances. We work together to establish a more open flow of energy. If your space, home or office, has clutter blocking the flow of positive productive energy, perhaps you need a Qi Master to help you get to balance.
I'm a Qi Master, indeed!
December 19th, 2011
If you are procrastinating on getting organized, read this. Here is what my client said to me Friday before beginning our session to continue organizing her home (something she has been wanting to do for years!) This client is a busy, single, working professional. So far, we had organized all of her clothing, accessories and jewelry and began to organize paper.
I am not publishing this to toot my own horn but rather to encourage you, if you keep putting off the project of getting rid of your clutter. I expect that deep down, you know this could be the result. Well, here is proof.
Her words, exactly:
"Working with you on this organizing project has been a healing and nurturing experience for me. It has been transformational! It has given me a sense of inner peace and self-confidence. Coming home and seeing the order of things now helps me to be more clear about who I am in the world and what's important. AND IT'S NOT THE STUFF! Now I have more inner capacity to hold conflicting ideas and emotions. I feel more at peace and less hurried. And, anytime I want to get a contact "BALANCE" high I look in my jewelry drawer!"
You can hire someone like me or you can do it on your own and just read this blog once in a while for tips and support. Give yourself a gift this holiday. Get organized and transform your life too!
January 26th, 2011
Pop Quiz: Is your clutter killing you?
I'm was browsing through an interesting book called "The Owner's Manual" (Harper Collins), written by two M.D.'s. It's "An Insider's Guide to the Body that will Make You Healthier and Younger". Who doesn't want to be healthier and live longer? Early in the book, they ask you to test how "body smart" you are with a quiz. The very first question was the closest I have seen to an ROI (Return on Investment) study on the benefits of getting organized. ROI, in this case, measured in years of life.
Here it is:
Which of the following ages you the least?
a. Smoking one pack of cigarettes a day
b. An HDL cholesterol level of 29 mg/dl (for those of you who don't know, that's sorely inadequate)
c. Consistently avoiding a nagging task on your to-do list (...in other words, clutter!)
d. Eating steak twice a week
The answer.. eating steak twice a week ages you the least. A lousy cholesterol level will age you about 4 years. And, drum roll please, avoiding a nagging activity - such as those clutter piles or an action item you hate - will age you just as much as smoking a pack of cigarettes a week! The doctors say it will age you eight (8) (yes, eight) years! Yikes! Eating steak ages you less than a year.
So, the return you get from investing in getting organized is to live a longer, less stressful life! Does your clutter stress you out? Time to get organized. Eliminating those nagging to-do items. The time is now. Because, it's aging you my friend.
Stay tuned to www.balancesf.com in 2011 to help you stay young! Our mission, after all is "to inspire your quest to live a more organized and balanced life."
July 23rd, 2010
Get Organized TODAY is a key tool in building a successful life; to bring ease and flow to your day-to-day living when clutter has got you down. More professional and personal organization and preparedness expertise is yours with these insights from Nancy and her organizing peers. With Get Organized Today, you will better manage your life and be ready to handle any situation with ease. To support you on your mission to live an organized and balanced life.
This book includes expert strategies to:
- Capture the Vision to Create a Space You'll Love
- Create a Productive Environment in Five Steps
- Overcome Chronic Disorganization
- Build the Perfect Closet
- Create a Home Office that Works for You
- Conquer Paper Piles
- Organize for Disaster and Be Prepared!
- and more...
Including Nancy's Chapter -> Get Organized for the Planet, that outlines 10 incredibly easy ways to turn your matter (clutter) into energy (where everything is in its place waiting to serve you) in an Eco-Friendly way!
March 22nd, 2010
It's madness, what comes into your space every day; mail, paper, reciepts, business cards, flyers, schoolwork, magazines and more. Yet, it's really very simple. Look at it this way: every piece of email and incoming paper fits into one of a short list of categories, indentified by a simple acronym. To manage incoming paper, you just setup a system to sort based on these categories as, soon as new paper enters your space. For personal, it’s RAFT. For a household or business, it’s RAFT'eD, as follows:
R = Read
A = Action. Where the next step is to take some action, such as pay a bill, make a phone call, consider invitation/RSVP, send an email, etc.
F = File. A business or home file system should be accessible, so easy to do that you file most things immediately or almost immediately.
T = Toss, as in recycle or shred. When it comes to paper, virtually all of it will either get shredded (anything with an account number) or recycled. Note that windowed envelopes, sticky notes and even some staples are ok in San Francisco and in most cities that recycle.
and, for a business or household,
D = Delegate - Distribute to appropriate household or staff member. Note, just as you have mail boxes in an office for each employee, have an in basket or incoming mail file folder at home for each adult family member.
As you proceed, here are a few key points:
-> A Green Tip: Paper that is not confidential and unprinted on one side can be reused in your printer for scrap printing.
-> Remember that 80% or more of your incoming mail typically will go to “T”
-> Open mail every day. Sometimes you will skip a day, but if you do it every day it will soon become a habit, it will get easier and faster and it won't pile up.
-> Get angry and arrogant about paper. Stand by the recycle bin and toss freely. Most of what comes in is someone trying to sell you something anyway! Don't take the business card or flyer if it doesn't serve you. Don't keep paper that isn't about YOUR goals and desires TODAY. Let it go.. you are too important in your busy life to waste time sorting and acting on things that don't serve you.
Ok... Manage well. Toss Freely.
And, as ever, call me if you need some help!
February 10th, 2010
It's nice to have a printed list of the upcoming holidays but even better to have them all posted in your calendar with reminders. So you won't forget to pick up those roses for Valentine's Day or to phone home for Mother's Day. Not to mention knowing when it's a full moon so you have an excuse for eratic behavior!
If you are an Outlook user, here's a solution. I've been using this service for years to refresh my calendar at the beginning of the year. It's so easy and it's relatively inexpensive. And if you do have issues with the service, their support is very helpful: http://www.calendar-updates.com/
February 9th, 2010
In the world of getting organized, "containers" are anything from a hook on the back of a door to a bin or box or even an entire shelf system or custom closet installation.
As ever, The Container Store is having their annual elfa sale. elfa is a modular shelving and drawer system that can be customized to your needs and your space to help you get organized. You can use the systems in just about any room, including the closet, office, garage or pantry. It's a relatively low cost and attractive "do it yourself" way to create a custom built-in closet and or a shelving system. Until Monday, 15 February, you can get 30% off a closet or built-in system!
It's unlikely that you will get organized if you start by going to Target or The Container Store or to IKEA; a mistake many people make when they set the goal to get organized. While these are all great sources for "containers", the FIRST step is to sort your stuff and purge, or edit. Editing as in letting go of what no longer serves you. Yes, it's true, organizing usually involves making some choices to let go. These decisions can be difficult, but they are always ultimately LIBERATING and REWARDING.
So, step 1 and 2 - Sort your stuff and edti. Let go of what doesn't serve you now in your life. Then, step 3, decide where the rest of the stuff goes. Then, and only then, if you need a shelf or a bin, it's not until step 4 that you head to the store, because that is when you know what you have!
(And don't forget, it's good for the planet if you repurpose those bins and boxes you bought the last time you tried to get organized!)
Make sense? Contact me if not.
January 7th, 2010
It's a good idea to use the Unsubscribe button often on enewsletters to keep clutter from your inbox. You only need to ask yourself one question: "Will it serve me?" Is the content meaningful and useful to you and the goals in your life now? If not, unsubscribe freely!
Does the content of the newsletter appeal to you... for example, a key business initiative or personal goal, an activity or hobbie that you love love love? Or a philosophy, political genre or material that is of high priority in your life? Can you learn from the content? These are all questions about whether this information will serve you right now, today, in your life. Be sure not to fall into the trap of "maybe someday I'll get into this...". Don't worry. When that "some day" comes, the world will give you what you need. There will be a newsletter or website out there just for you.
Also consider the structure and format of the publication. Is it well organized? Is it easy to review and read to determine quickly? Are there links that work? That sort of thing.
Finally, consider the sender. If you met that person at a network event or a party, perhaps they included you on the list only because you know someone who might appreciate it's value. If that's the case, then forward it along - that's great karma. And then.. well, you get the idea... unsubscribe freely!