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Did you ever feel like you needed to sit down (or lie on a couch) and pour out your disorganization problems? Is it difficult to discuss your clutter situation with family or friends? Well, you found a sympathetic ear and a helpful, reliable, non-judgmental consultant, who is happy to help restore order to your chaos.
Clutter is simply postponed decisions. -- Barbara Hemphill
Man is not
imprisoned by habit. Great changes in him can be wrought
Copyright © Donna D. McMillan. All rights reserved.
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Why You Need A Home Inventory
"If you're not organized, you waste valuable time, which is equivalent to valuable money," says Donna McMillan, owner of McMillan & Co. Professional Organizing in Los Angeles. Since the company was founded in 1984, McMillan has seen her share of disorderly work stations and offices. But most notably, she has helped countless businesses clear out the clutter and, in the end, increase productivity.
So how do you know if it's time for a major overhaul? Your first warning sign, says McMillan, is when you find yourself murmuring "Where is my (fill in the blank)?" A good standard to live by, says McMillan, is if you can't find something in 30 seconds, it's in the wrong place. Once you decide you're ready to tackle the job, the following suggestions will help you get started:
Tuesday, May 20, 1997
Spend Time to Figure Out How to Make the Most of It
by Jane Applegate
"Time is money" is a tired but true cliche. If you waste time because you're disorganized, you're hurting your ability to make money, according to professional organizers and time management consultants.
"The entrepreneur is more scattered because they think they need to do everything," says Ruth Klein, author of "Manage Your Time, Market Your Business" (Amazon, $21.95), President of the Marketing Source in Bakersfield, Klein helps clients streamline their schedules to make more time to market their businesses.
High technology contributes to entrepreneurial stress and disorganization, she says. "Before e-mail and faxes, we'd send something through the mail and we'd have a little space," she says. "Now we have seconds or minutes, and we barely get the opportunity to take a breath before we have the information back."
To avoid information overload, Klein recommends, check your e-mail, voicemail and faxes only once or twice a day. She also suggests returning phone calls right before lunch and before the end of the workday, when people are likely to be at their desks.
"The best time to check your e-mail is before lunch," she says. "You don't really want to check it early in the morning, because if you're a high-energy person, the morning is the time to use for concentrated work."
She strongly advises against early-morning staff meetings because "it's a sure-fire way to get people to nod off and lose their energy." Klein likes "month-at-a-glance" calendars because you can keep an eye on the big picture. "You can see the layout of the month and circle deadlines in red," she says.
Klein began focusing on marketing advice because many clients complained they had no time to look for new customers. "They were so busy working in the business, they weren't taking the time to work on the business," says Klein, who counsels clients nationwide by phone and fax. Before making any suggestions, she asks new clients to write down everything they do, every day for a week or 10 days. This detailed journal gives her a clear picture of how they are spending-or wasting-time.
Once you figure out how to manage your time a little better, you'll be motivated to take better control of all that paperwork.
Donna McMillan, president of McMillan & Co. Professional Organizing in Los Angeles, says time management becomes easier when you organize your paper and work space.
She uses a "4-D" system to manage paperwork: Do it, delay it, delegate it or dump it. McMillan also advocates using technology to keep track of information. She used to carry a day planner, three address books and a notebook everywhere she went. Now she carries a small personal computer that holds all the information she needs.
"You can teach an old dog new tricks," McMillan said.
Both Klein and Debbie Gilster, owner of Organize & Computerize in Huntington Beach, recommend buying a miniature tape recorder. Busy people, especially those who spend a lot of time in their cars, can use the time to dictate ideas or letters into the recorder.
Setting priorities is at the tip of Susan Silver's to-do list.
"Well-stated goals will serve as a blueprint for your business and help you put your priorities in order," says Silver, president of Positively Organized in Los Angeles.
All the organizers agree that you should spend five to 30 minutes at the end of each day clearing off your desk and planning for tomorrow. The clearing up, tossing out, filing and planning you do tonight will save you time and make you more money tomorrow.
Research assistance by Mimi Schultz.
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