Monday, May 30, 2011

Business - Organizing Your Schedule and Paperwork

Small businesses are crucial to the economy and we like to use and support small businesses and neighborhood businesses as much as we can. And for the most part we always get better and more personalized service when working with a local business.

But sometimes we are disappointed because the business "forgets" to return our calls or "forgets" to come out and provide the service we requested on the day they arranged to come out. Most often the business will apologize and they will come up with some excuse. The problem is that the excuse shows how unprofessional they are and how unorganized they are.

Having run a number of small businesses my first priority was always to create the feeling of a bigger company. At least in the eyes of the client. Some clients don't trust that a person that runs a business out of an office in their home will be "professional" or "experienced" enough for them. One has nothing to do with the other. Today many businesses are run out of home offices to save money and for convenience and life style choices.

One of the first accounting firms that I did business with had their office in the basement of their home. But once you got into their basement office you would have thought that you were in a high class accounting firm. The office had the highest quality equipment and beautiful furniture. But they saved money by not pay thousands of dollars a month in rent and therefore passed that on to their clients.

Having forms that are professional where you can capture client information is crucial. Not only does it present a professional image but it also allows you to capture the needed information without forgetting anything. Even if you are a roofer or plumber you need to present a professional image when it comes to paperwork.

Writing quotes down on a scrap of paper does not present a professional image and chances are you will lose that scrap of paper.

Which is what happened to one of the plumbers we tried to do business with. He lost the order...somewhere..... He couldn't find our contact information and didn't call us.

Having a filing system and logging phone messages and client schedules is crucial to a small business. Being organized in a small business is even more important than in a larger company because the smaller business depends on client referrals more than a larger company that has a big advertising budget.

By having systems in place to capture client information and having a process in place to follow-up on that information you will save time and your clients will be happier when they get the service they need on the day they need it.

Being organized in business is crucial. Start today. Step back and take a look at your business and see how you can improve and make your clients happier. You won't be disappointed in the end result.

Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ready For Change

Change is hard. Believe me, I know. I don’t like change. I like things the way I like things. And even though I know that some changes are good for me it sometimes takes me a while to warm up to the idea and make that commitment to the change.

So I really do understand my clients’ fear of change and their hesitation in getting started in any new project. 

When a client initially contacts me they are usually at a point where they feel they need to make a change. They are tired of their disorganized home, office or life and want to be free of the clutter. They want a more organized life. They want to be able to have people come to their home without being embarrassed by the clutter. They want to be able to juggle their busy life without feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. They are ready for change.

Or so they think.

What happens most of the time after the initial phone conversation about the change that they are about to undertake is that they panic. Their mind starts going over all of the things that a change means and they get scared. Scared of change. And they step back and decide they are not ready to let someone else into their lives to help them make that change. 

And that’s O.K. Really it is. A person has to be ready for change. And when they are ready they will let you know. 

I get a lot of calls from family members saying that their mother or sister has severe chronic disorganization or hoarding problems and they want them to get help. And I when I tell them that the person must be ready for the change or it won’t work, they are not happy. But you can’t force change on a person. Any type of change. It won’t work.

The person might even initially agree to work with me and then back out at the last minute when they feel that their family member was forcing them to do something that they did not want to do.
You can’t force change on someone. You can plant the idea. You can be supportive. But you can’t make a person change.

A hard lesson to learn.

So when they are ready I will be too.

Remember: Less Clutter = Less Stress SM in your home, your business and your life

Organizational Consulting Services

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Summer Schedules

Summer can be a fun time or a stressful time. For kids it's fun. For parents, especially parents that work and have kids it's not so much fun. With younger kids it's easy. There are a lot of different activities that the kids can go to and keep them busy and out of trouble. For kids that are over ten (10) there aren't many group activities and even though most ten year olds think they are "grown up", leaving a ten year old home alone all summer long never made me feel comfortable. A lot of people don't have the luxury of having family around to watch the kids or have the money for expensive "summer camps". So what is a parent to do?

Sit down with your kids and make a very detailed summer schedule. Plan your activities ...even things such as going to the library. Knowing exactly where your kids are will make you feel more secure.

If you have the flexibility of taking your kids to work, even for a few days over the summer, it's a great learning experience for them. And you can also get a lot of things done at your office that you never had time for, like organizing your stock room or office, putting together brochures or mailings or any variety of things.

If you can spread your vacation days out and take one day off a week you can plan mini vacations to the beach or the park for some "family time". Inexpensive and relaxing.

You can also offer to take your friends kids with you on these "outings" and they in turn can take your kids on their outings. This gives the kids fun things to look forward to and you not feeling guilty that you aren't taking them on a summer vacation or leaving them home alone bored all summer.

By making the kids responsible for coming up with ideas for their summer schedule you let them have some input into their summer and you teach them responsibility and scheduling.

Coordinating a successful summer for kids isn't easy. But by planning ahead and being organized you will be more relaxed and your kids have a lot of activities to look forward.

Have a fun and safe summer.....

Organizational Consulting Services

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mother's Day

Wishing all of the Mothers the very Happiest Mother's Day !

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The End of the School Year

It's that time of year again. The end of the school year. An exciting time for kids but maybe not as much for parents. Along with having to re-arrange your schedule and come up with summer activities you also have to deal with all of the "stuff" that your kids bring home from school.

Projects, books, tons of papers and maybe even the tupperware that you were missing. So what are you going to do with all of that "stuff" ? Besides let it sit in the hallway for most of the summer?

Now is the time to start thinking about it. As soon as your kids come home from school (grade school, high school or even college) make them responsible for putting their things away. Go through their backpacks and throw out all of the "garbage" (you all know what I'm talking about). Take back your tupperware. Go through the clothes they bring home and donate the things that don't fit any longer or throw out the things that are beyond repair.

Keep a "few" of the special pictures that your kids made for you (take a digital picture of the rest) and toss the rest (you don't have the space to keep every single thing they made...really you don't).

If you have leftover school supplies make sure they are still good and that you will need them for the next school year. If your kids won't be able to use them give them to a parent that can or donate them.

By immediately dealing all of the things that the kids bring home from school you will not have to trip over it all summer and you can start your summer vacation with one less thing to worry about.

Have a great summer.

Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, May 9, 2011

Protecting Your Privacy - Identity Theft

Life is very complicated these days. We are inundated with so much mail....most of it unwanted. Credit card offers arrive on a daily basis for most of us. And most people just toss them right into the garbage. A very dangerous mistake.

As organizers we tell our clients to "open the mail next to the garbage can and throw the junk mail immediately away" . This is usually to prevent it from being piled on a table creating a mess. BUT, we also need to be very careful about what we are throwing away. Anything that has identifying information, such as your name, address, social security number, birth date should be shredded.

Identity theft is rampant and can cause a lot of damage. Damage that can take years and thousands of dollars to undo. The aggravation and emotional toll that it can have on you far outweighs the small amount of time it takes to shred anything with identifying information.

Get into the habit of putting anything with identifying information into a "shred box" and then shredding the information on a consistent basis.

Also, start paying attention to who is asking for your identifying information. Don't give out your social security number and birth date to everyone that asks for it. Just say "no". These days you can't get a quote for anything or any type of service without giving up this information....but that just opens you up to the possibility of identity theft. Keep a list of the places where you give out this information.

Protect yourself. Protect your identity.

Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, May 2, 2011

Organized and Clean - What's the Difference

A lot of people have this misconception that being organized and being clean is the same thing. It's not. You can have a clean house that is a cluttered mess. Or you can have an organized house that is filthy and dusty. One does not necessarily have to do with the other.

Organization is a state of mind. It's subjective. What's organized by some people's standards isn't necessarily organized by others.

But dirt. It's sort of black and white. Mostly black. I'm sure that you have all seen the old fashioned white glove test. You can't argue with black dirt on a white glove.

Just because a space is organized doesn't mean it's clean. When you are sitting at a desk and you are wheezing because of all the dust bunnies on and under the desk...chances are it is not clean.

But when you get a manager that says "well, no one else has complained" ....obviously it must be clean and you are just too picky. Right? WRONG !

I'm sure that you have all seen the "Hoarders" shows. Those people live in their homes and they don't complain. So does that make it o.k. ? No, is the correct answer.

Just because everyone around you doesn't complain doesn't mean your office space is clean. It just means that they don't mind living and working in a dirty environment. That doesn't mean that you have to. And your manager should be ashamed of himself for subjecting you to a dirty working environment and for making you feel like you are the one that has the problem for speaking up.

It sort of reminds me of the story "The Emperor's Clothes". Everyone just went along with the program and no one wanted to rock the boat. Until a new person came to the palace and said "no, don't see the clothes....he isn't wearing any".

Taking a stand and saying that you want a clean and organized work environment is not easy. Especially when you are made to feel like there is something wrong with you for speaking up. But your health should come first. And people will eventually thank you for speaking up and creating a safer and cleaner work environment.

Remember....being Organized involves being Clean. They are not exclusive.

Organizational Consulting Services