by Guest Blogger, Monique MacKinnon

A scattered mind produces scattered results in business. Scattered means: “occurring or distributed over widely spaced and irregular intervals in time or space” and “lacking orderly continuity” (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/scattered). If it is taking you longer than anticipated, expected or desired to build your business, then tweaking your focus may be the “next best” step for you at this time. When I saw Donald Trump “live” in person last year, I learned that “lack of focus” was the cause of his financial downfall and near catastrophic ending in the early nineties. So, if your focus needs fine-tuning, check out these five business distractions:

Business Distraction #1: Are you unclear about and aimless in your purpose and use of passions? What is your purpose in life? Do you know yours, and if yes, are you consistently placing your attention and energies on fulfilling it? What are passions: “intense emotions compelling actions” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/netdict/passion)? Without this clarity about and focus on your purpose and passions, you will end up resorting to trial and error – and perhaps lots of pain and frustration too – to make profit from your purpose and passions.

Business Distraction #2: Are you sometimes close-minded and pessimistic about your current situation and the future? Here is how you can tell: When you are presented with challenges and problems, do typically open your mind and see the potential inherent in these? Adopting this perspective will allow you to attract the vision or answer about how to move gracefully and successfully through it.

Business Distraction #3: Are you more reactive than proactive? Do you prefer to wait and see what happens in life or take matters into your own hands and carve your own path?

Business Distraction #4: Do you resist instead of welcome change? If you have a habit of accepting the status quo instead of focusing on continuous improvement: making good “things” – including yourself, your offerings and you current situation – even better, then you are change-averse. Instead of reducing expenses, think about how you could improve productivity, performance and profitability through innovation and by working collaboratively (including sharing costs) and in new ways with partners, competitors and suppliers, instead of doing it all yourself in the same old way, which will create the same old results. To save time and effort, join You Are In Royal Hands (http://tinyurl.com/LinkedInCollaborationClub), where we discuss ways you can accomplish this.

Business Distraction #5: Do Bright Shiny Objects pull you off course? Entrepreneurs and people with an entrepreneurial spirit are adept at looking out for and jumping on opportunities. Are you one of these people who see, seizes, and sticks with opportunities through the up and down cycles of business and life?

What are the opportunity costs of being scattered in business? Several exist, including lost: time, money, clients, business opportunities, energy, health, vacations and spiritual and emotional fulfillment.

Remember, if your mind (i.e. thoughts and emotions) and actions are mostly focused on low-vibration energies (like fear, worry and doubt) and distractions, they will pull people, things and situations to you that are aligned with these low-quality energies and scattered or unwanted results. So, if you want to upgrade your life, including the type of clients, collaborators, suppliers and investors you attract, you’ll need to shift your focus upwards instead of keeping it on the down low. What is the solution for creating desired business and personal results then? On a micro level, focus on living, making decisions and acting in the now in the directions of your identified dreams and goals. Believe that the details (i.e. the macro level) required to make your goals and dreams come true will appear and you will spot them if you consistently have faith and the right focus: mind and action-wise.

About the Guest Blogger:

Energetic Evolution Creativity Expert, Monique MacKinnon, is committed to teaching open-minded entrepreneurs how to meaningfully monetize their passions. If you are not fully and meaningfully profiting from your passions, there is a strong probability that your business is stuck and preventing you from creating the business and life you absolutely love. To claim your complimentary 15-minute phone “Clear Creative Blocks Forever Session” valued at $100 (for a limited time only), contact monique@energeticevolution.com and put “I want a Clear Creative Blocks Forever Session, please” in the subject line.

Yesterday, I presented “Social Media 101” at the Orange County Chamber of Commerce in Orange County, NY. This was the first of 3 workshops in a series hosted by the Small Business Committee and the Young Professionals (YP) Council. I was ably assisted by my Co-Chair, Scott Wohl, of the YP Council, and will be joined by many other successful social media Chamber members for the next 2 workshops.

The idea behind these social media workshops is that anybody can do social media. Yes, anybody. Age, type of business, level of technology, etc. all shouldn’t matter. In this first workshop, we targeted total newbies that have not participated in social media to date. In fact, we asked them to bring their laptops so that they could create profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter at the workshop. It was great to see such fresh-faced newbies lose their social media virginity! We were sold out so expect 40 new Chamber members to show up on social media sites.

The second workshop will take place on Thursday, May 6 from 8:00-10:30 a.m. It is geared towards beginner to intermediate social media users and will cover Promoting and Protecting Your Online Presence. This workshop will consist of a panel of local social media users with me serving as the moderator. The last workshop will take place on Thursday, May 20 from 8:00-10:30 a.m. and will cover advanced tips and tricks for social media.

All workshops are open to Orange County Chamber members only, and there is only room for 40 people with laptops. If you are a Chamber member and are interested in attending one of the last 2 workshops, visit the Chamber site to register.

Hope to see you there! And if you are not a Chamber member, it doesn’t mean you can’t jump on the bandwagon. Join the coneversation! I look forward to connecting with you on social media networks.

Are you afraid of public speaking but want to move past that fear? You know that good public speaking skills could propel you forward professionally, but you lack polish and practice?

Then join me for “Public Speaking Mastery” at Pace University’s Professional Development Program on Tuesday, May 4, 2010 from 9 am – 4 pm at Pace University Midtown, 551 Fifth Avenue at 45th Street, New York, NY.

Learn how to conduct engaging, informative, and interactive presentations to audiences large and small.  Discover how to improve your oral and nonverbal communication styles, inspire and motivate participants, and exude confidence and enthusiasm, while establishing credibility. 

Participants will have the opportunity to practice public speaking techniques and will make impromptu presentations for constructive feedback.

Topics Include: Overview of the vital tips and tricks to conquer the fear of public speaking; improve oral and nonverbal communication and the use of visual aids when presenting; receive valuable constructive feedback on your personal presentation style.

If you are ready to become an accomplished public speaker, click here for more details and to register.

Hope to see you there!

I just had the pleasure of attending the 2010 National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) Conference in Columbus, Ohio from April 21-25. What an experience! This was my 7th consecutive NAPO Conference, and it was the best one so far!

Many people don’t like conferences. I can understand that. They are tiring. You are often on your feet for much of the day, or sitting in a chair paying attention to a presentation and taking notes. The food is usually sub-par. The air is “fake” as you are indoors all day. so you lack fresh air. The hotel beds are not the most comfortable.

But let’s look at all of the great advantages of attending a professional development conference. Networking, collaboration, knowledge, brainstorming, energy, motivation, inspiration, etc. The list goes on! This year, I noticed that conference attendees seemed to connect on a deeper level — not just business as usual. People were showing their authentic selves, personally and professionally, which elevated the entire conference experience to a higher level.

I am lucky to be a member of such a dynamic, forward-thinking, collaborative and successful industry. I attended keynote and workshop sessions on making connections, using social media, creating a power office, being resilient, using technology via online and smart phone “apps” to stay organized, and using coaching techniques with organizing clients. Wow – what amazing stuff! 

I had the distinct privilege of being one of the panelists on the Ask the Organizer Panel. Attendees ask questions of panelists and the entire session is expertly moderated by a colleague, Monica Ricci, who has been serving as the moderator for years. The questions were insightful and intelligent. I was so impressed!

I also had the honor of presenting “Don’t Go It Alone: It Takes a Village to Run a Successful Organizing Business” during which I shared ideas and information about outsourcing, delegating, setting up a Board of Advisors, using Master Mind groups, creating an Operations Manual, etc.  The attendees shared great information, which made the session interactive. I love when attendees learn from each other and not just from me as the presenter.

I am now home, catching up, connecting with peers on social media that I met at the conference, adding those that subscribed to my ezine lists, and generally basking in the conference after glow! I have renewed energy for my business, and can’t wait to implement all of the fantastic ideas that I gathered. My business year runs from April to April, as that is when the NAPO Conference takes place. I work my action plan between conferences. Next year’s conference is in San Diego, which means we have the added bonus of great weather! You can be sure that I will take breaks at that conference to get outside and enjoy the sun and fresh air. Therefore, my conference after glow may be mixed with an actual tan. Not bad, huh? 🙂

While “green” and organizing may sound unrelated, promoting green consciousness is a natural extension of the organizing process.  Professional organizers enter homes and businesses on a regular basis, and armed with proper knowledge, a professional organizer can assist clients in becoming more Earth-friendly.  As the Chair of my Town’s Earth Day Clean Sweep for the past six years, I am well aware of the importance of reducing and recycling, and relish the opportunity to influence clients and the general public in this regard. 

What can you do to get better organized in a “green-friendly” way?  Here are some tips.

  • Think Before You Buy – Try to transform your buying habits so that you are not accumulating too many items in the first place.  Most of the environmental damage is done in the manufacturing stage, so the less consumerism, the better.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans produced 254.1 million tons of household trash in the year 2007 alone.  In 2008, however, as a result of the economic recession and the resulting decrease in disposable incomes, landfills reported a 30% decline in waste levels.
  • Pay bills Online – According to Javelin Strategy & Research, 53% of Americans currently use online banking services, rising to an estimated 67% by 2012.  The report also estimates that Americans could prevent the logging of 16.5 million trees every year if all Americans switched from paper bills to online banking.
  • Repurpose and Reuse – Consider repurposing or reusing existing items in creative ways to avoid buying more and to give new life to forgotten items that are just taking up space. 
  • Recycle – Throughout the sorting, purging, and organizing process, think of the benefits of recycling.  Often times, a person is unaware of the recycling guidelines in his or her particular area, or whether a particular item can be recycled at all.  For a list of lesser-known recycling programs, visit the Donation and Recycling Resources page of my website.  Get educated so you can stop adding to landfills and recycle more.  Consider setting up an organized recycling center in your home or business to make it as easy as possible to recycle. 
  • Donate – Remember, recycling includes donating items that you no longer love, need, or use often to those who could truly put those items to good use.  Adopt a charity, or even a particular family to donate to (check out Tangible Karma).  If you just want to unload items for free, consider giving them away on Freecycle.

Think “green” when organizing.  You will not only be able to reduce your clutter and find things more easily, you will be helping the Earth in the process.

Everything ends. But there are always new beginnings. ~ Ralph Bellamy

Spring marks the transition from winter into summer.  It is a time that most of us equate with renewal, increasing day length, and a symbolic changing of the seasons.  Spring is seen as a time of growth, when new life (both plant and animal) are born.  The term is also used more generally as a metaphor for the start of better times.  For many, it is also a time for cleaning and organizing – i.e., the Spring Fling!

During the winter, we tend to stockpile.  It is in our nature.  Chances are you’ve got some clutter left over at work, at home, in your car, on your computer, and in your head.  This is an ideal time to do some eliminating.  The old adage, “Out with the old, in with the new” definitely applies this season.  To help you with your Spring Fling, the following are some tips for clearing the clutter.  

  • Purge Your Paper Inbox – When is the last time you’ve seen the bottom of your paper inbox at work and at home?  Make it a goal this spring.  Develop a paper management system to try to keep it that way.
  • Eliminate Email Clutter – Schedule some time to clear your email inbox.  Delete unnecessary emails, capture contact information, delegate tasks that can be done by someone else, send those “replies” finally, and set up filters and folders to avoid back-log in the future.  Once you get your email inbox down to one page (where you can see all emails without having to scroll down), try to maintain it.
  • Go on a Calendar Diet – Take a look at your busy calendar and try to clear 2-3 social or work obligations that you said “yes” to that you now realize you should not have.  We all do it (yes, even the professional organizer/time management expert!).  Time is limited and precious, so think carefully about what you want to fill it with.
  • Switch Clothes – If you have not already done so, this is the perfect time to switch your clothes from the cold weather items to the warm weather ones.  Make 4 categories: Purge (damaged clothes), Donate (clothes that do not fit, you do not like, or that are out of style, but can be worn by those in need), Keep (clothes that fit, that you love and wear often), and Dry Cleaning/Tailoring (clothes that need to be professionally dry cleaned or mended). 
  • Retire the Christmas Decorations – You think I am kidding on this one.  I am not.  You know who you are.  If the Christmas decorations are still up outside or inside your home, it is high time you put them away.  Go do it, now.  Your neighbors will thank you.
  • Take Care of Your Taxes – Yes, the official tax-filing deadline for personal income taxes is April 15, which means you still have time! If you can’t meet that deadline, you are looking at an extension, which means filing this summer — do you want taxes hanging over your head that much longer?  Stop procrastinating!  Gather the documents to get those taxes done.  And for those of you that already filed, purge old tax records that no longer need to be saved (check with your accountant, but generally, the average person needs to maintain 7 years of tax records in case of an audit claiming fraud).  Don’t forget to shred!  
  • Declutter the Car – You will be passing many car washes held by various charities this time of year.  You’d like to get your car cleaned, but you don’t want anyone to see the inside!  Sound familiar?  Clear that car clutter.  Empty out the garbage that has accumulated, bring in items that you purchased that are sitting in bags in the trunk, and return all sorts of “stuff” to its place in the home or office that found its way into your car.  Ah, now go get that car wash or, better yet, treat yourself to a full car detailing.   
  • Organize Outlying Areas – Clear clutter in the garage and shed so that you can find the things you need this spring and summer.  Take out the patio furniture and grill, dust off the bikes, and put away the snow blower.  If you can’t reach the lawnmower, chances are you will not use it as much.  You may have put the Christmas decorations away, but with that jungle you call a yard, your neighbors will still not like you very much.
  • Mend the Medicine Cabinet – Clear out any winter medications that you stockpiled, such as cough medicine and cough drops that have expired.  Ditto for prescription medications that have expired.  Buy yourself some new sunscreen, as that also has a limited shelf life.
  • Makeup Makeover – Makeup attracts bacteria.  Therefore, purge any makeup that is “old.”  While there is no exact life span for makeup, if you haven’t used it in a year, it is time to go.  For more exacting makeup safety guidelines, visit the Women’s Forum.
  • Overhaul Your Toothbrush – You should replace your toothbrush every 3 months.  Period.  Get a new one.  It feels great!

There you have it — the Spring Fling checklist.  Take your time, and work through it.  I guarantee you will feel a sense of renewal, while clearing the way for a productive and pleasant summer season.

Want to meet close to 100 exhibitors in one fell swoop? Come to the Warwick Valley Expo on Saturday, April 10th from 10 am – 4 pm at the Warwick Valley Middle School (West Street extension) in Warwick, NY.

This will be the third annual Warwick Expo, which is hosted by the Warwick Valley Chamber of Commerce. Expo is a community showcase of businesses, non-profits, and more. The first year I was the keynote speaker. This year, there are two great keynote speakers that I know personally and have heard speak (you will not be disappointed!). I am excited to be an exhibitor. Come stop by my booth and see my new line of CDs, and other great products and programs. I will be offering some Expo-only specials, so if you are in the area, don’t miss out!

Hope to see you there!

I am very pleased to announce the official launch of the LM Organizing Solutions You Tube Channel! The channel will allow me to post and share lots of great videos, including interviews, television segments, panel discussions, and clips from speaking engagements. I will also post short ‘how-to’ videos covering common organizing challenges so the channel will be an educational resource, as well as a promotional one.

The first series of videos is ready for viewing, and includes 4 segments from a local cable television show called The Path: Positive People, Places and Things in the Hudson Valley. I was interviewed about my business, and gave organizing tips for back-to-school time.

So bookmark the channel (or better yet, become a subscriber!) and check back often for new and exciting videos.

Do you often miss personal and professional deadlines? Do you feel frustrated due to failing to carry out your priorities?

Then join me for “Time Management” at Pace University’s Professional Development Program on Tuesday, April 6, 2010 from 9 am – 4 pm at Pace University Midtown, 551 Fifth Avenue at 45th Street, New York, NY.

Time is one of our most precious resources.  Yet we battle daily to make the best use of it.  This comprehensive workshop addresses how to get more done in less time with less stress by maximizing your productivity and setting priorities. Learn to pinpoint where you need to take control.   

Topics Include: Self assessment, tools of time management (calendars/PDAs/daily planners), how to say no, project lists and to-do lists, conquering procrastination, the myth of multi-tasking, and dealing with interruptions.

If you are ready to tackle the time management beast, click here for more details and to register.

Hope to see you there!

I have worked with many clients over the years to organize after the loss of a loved one. Living in the greater NY metropolitan area, I have helped many 9-11 widows and widowers organize after losing a loved one in the World Trade Center terrorist attacks. It is an emotionally draining process. My best advice is to take it slow and go at your own pace. After the death of a loved one, some people are tempted to sift through belongings and make decisions quickly. If this feels natural to you, fine (consider checking with a grief counselor before moving too quickly through the process). But most people need more time after a loss to organize a loved one’s possessions. So give yourself permission to grieve first, heal, and then organize later.

Some clients only needed a few months, while others waited years until they took on the task of organizing their loved one’s possessions. Indeed, some clients only took on the project due to necessity – moving, selling a house, clearing room for new family member to move in, etc. If you aren’t ready to handle the project but you must do so by necessity, then you may need to temporarily box up your loved one’s possessions. Label the boxes so that you know what the contents are, which will make it easier for when you are ready to sort them at a later date.

Although many organizing projects can be done alone, some people find it helpful to sort through a loved one’s belongings after a loss with another person – a family member, close friend, or professional organizer. I also recommend doing the project in stages, as it can be emotionally demanding as well as physical. Be careful not to make decisions too quickly and be sure to check in with other family members who may consider some belongings special that you are considering letting go of. You may want to sort into categories based on family members, friends, donations to charity, antique appraiser/estate sale (for valuable pieces that you are not keeping), archive/storage, etc.

I often tell my clients to choose items that embody the person’s spirit, remind you of details of his or her personality, or that carry special memories. There is no magic number of how many items to keep, but remember that sometimes less is more. You don’t want to be smothered by items that you don’t have room for, or that will drudge up painful memories. You want to be able to enjoy the selected items and let them serve as reminders of your loved one’s well-lived life.

Sadly, I recently lost my mother to pancreatic cancer. Many family members and friends assumed that I would quickly go in and sort my mother’s belongings due to the fact that I am a professional organizer by trade. But I recognize that I need time to process this profound loss, grieve, and heal before I can take on the task of going through her possessions. The only items that I am taking quick action on are the medications and medical supplies so that I can donate them before they expire and someone else can benefit from their use. I plan to take my time with the process, include family members, honor the possessions, and choose select items to keep and cherish. That way, my mother will always be with me.

Wishing you warmth and strength if you are organizing after a loss. Be kind to yourself.