McMillan & Company Professional Organizing    





By Donna D. McMillan

Donna McMillan








Information Management & Procrastination

Leaders Take Control, Conquer Chaos

Organizing in the Home and Office

Summertime and Moving is Easy

Work Place, Supplies and Reasons for Clutter

Dear Organizer ...

Paperwork Problems

Moving Monsters

"Donna's 4-D's Principle"

Losing Information

Need New Habits

Piles & Piles & Piles

For more topics, go to ... Dear Organizer

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 by crisis
-- once that crisis can be recognized and understood. --Norman Cousins

Summertime and Moving is Easy

Summertime ... and the moving is easy ... with our tips for preparing for and completing your next move. Learn what to do before, during and after a relocation project for your business and/or home. Of course, if you need help in any phase of your move, give us a call.

A place for everything, everything in its place. --Benjamin Franklin
The art of progress is to preserve order amid change, and to preserve change
amid order. --Alfred North Whitehead

Leaders Take Control, Conquer Chaos

You can CONTROL THE CHAOS!!! Learn the Secrets of Leaders in the professional world. Because this is a "hot topic," you will be interested in the statistics compiled by the National Association of Professional Organizers. Our Dear Organizer column is where you'll learn Donna's "4-D's Principle" and how to apply it to systems in your own office or home.

"Good habits, which bring our lower passions and appetites under automatic control, leave our natures free to explore the larger experiences of life. Too many of us divide and dissipate our energies in debating actions which should be taken for granted. --Ralph W. Sockman

"Not to have control over the senses is like sailing in a rudderless ship, bound to break to pieces on coming in contact with the very first rock." --Mahatma Gandhi

Information Management and Procrastination

This is where you'll find answers to "how to be more prepared."  With tax time approaching and the need to systematize current and previous records, we provide recommendations on handling vital information during the year. You will also learn how to avoid becoming a victim before an emergency or disaster happens, as well as the causes of procrastination. Our Dear Organizer column targets specific "information overload" problems and solutions.

"Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today." -- Benjamin Franklin
"Our grand business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do
what lies clearly at hand." -- Thomas Carlyle

Organizing in the Home and Office

Here we provide "hot tips" for organizing in your home, plus how and where to store possessions. Our Survey will help you review personal situations in your office and tips to make decisions for organizational solutions. Our Dear Organizer column focuses on why a home can be chaotic when other areas of our lives are more organized.

"He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home."
-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
"A bad habit never disappears miraculously; it's an undo-it-yourself project."
-- Abigail Van Buren

Work Place, Supplies and Reasons for Clutter

You will learn about the reasons and benefits of utilizing the expertise and services of a Professional Organizing Consultant and Coach. We have shared with you the 4 Steps to creating a happier work space and the reasons why clutter can periodically consume our lives. Our Dear Organizer column features time and paper management tips.

"Time is the most valuable and the most perishable of all our possessions."
-- John Randolph
"Obviously, the highest type of efficiency is that which can utilize existing
material to the best advantage." -- Jawaharlal Nehru

Copyright Donna D. McMillan. All rights reserved.
No part of these articles may be reproduced in any way without written permission by author.

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February 1996

Why You Need A Home Inventory

HOME OFFICE Magazine, January 1998

Out Of Order  
By Heather Page   | East Meets West  Entrepreneur Magazine - January 1998

Let's face it: Clutter is more than a small hindrance for most home offices. According to the National Association of Professional Organizers in Austin, Texas, paperwork is a small business's biggest burden--and 80 percent of all documents filed are never referenced again. It gets worse: The Wall Street Journal recently reported that U.S. executives lose an average of six weeks per year searching for misplaced information.

"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:

  • Sort your paperwork. Purchase and assemble several cardboard file boxes. Once you pick a category for each box, sort the entire office. Every shred of paper gets filed in its proper box, from paid bills and magazines to newspaper articles and tax returns. Also toss out all that junk mail you've accumulated.

  • Organize the information. Go through each box and further organize the documents.

  • Arrange your space. Now you're ready to tackle your work station. How many filing cabinets do you need? What should be boxed and stored in the attic? Where should office supplies go? Keep the items you need every day within reach, and put everything else away.

  • Set up an organization system. McMillan suggests file folders for information accessed infrequently and three-ring binders with dividers, placed on a nearby bookshelf, for documents referenced more often.

  • Develop new habits. Always put things back in their place, and reorganize before leaving the office each night. Says McMillan, "Accept this as a new habit, and grow with it."

LA Times 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.

To find a professional organizer in your area, contact the National Association of Professional Organizers at

Research assistance by Mimi Schultz.
Jane Applegate is a syndicated columnist and author of two books on small-business management.
Write to her at P.O. Box 768, Pelham, NY 10803. E-mail:


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