Earlier this week, I wrote about the Pareto Principle, aka the 80/20 Rule. Little did I know at that time that the 80/20 Rule would surface in the most unlikely of places a few days later – during a wedding ceremony.

My brother’s wedding was this past Friday evening. Friends and family were all gathered in a lovely setting for the ceremony. The minister started talking about what makes a good marriage. He then proceeded to introduce the 80/20 Rule, and described how it applies to marriage.

He said that when we fall in love, we fall in love with 80% of our partner’s personality, and that the other 20% makes up the flaws and personality quirks that we would like to change. He then advised that the most successful relationships are ones in which the partners focus on the 80% they love about each other, and consciously try to ignore, or at least tolerate, the 20% they don’t.

As the minister was giving his sermon, I couldn’t help thinking how this is just another way that the 80/20 Rule manifests itself in our daily lives. It truly pops up in the most interesting ways and situations. I also started to realize that if the 80/20 Rule can be applied to marriage in this way — focus on the positive and ignore the negative — then, by extension, it applies to relationships of all kinds.

Think about it. In every relationship — romantic couples, family, friends, co-workers, business associates, etc. — there exists some form of the 80/20 ratio. There are always going to be aspects of the relationship that are better than others. In good relationships, the positive aspects clearly outweigh the negative ones. And, perhaps, the best relationships are the ones in which the parties make a conscious effort to try to avoid focusing on the 20% that is negative.  It’s sort of like applying the “glass is half full” attitude to relationships. 

So, whether in marriage or any other relationship, think 80/20 and chances are, it will be a more fulfilling partnership!

Next Thursday and Friday, September 24 & 25, I will have the pleasure of presenting at the Interior Redesign and Industry Specialists Conference (IRIS) in Denver, CO. This will be my second year presenting at the IRIS Conference, and I am very much looking forward to sharing my expertise with such a great group of entrepreneurs.

I will be conducting two workshops – Branch Out: Grow and Expand Your Interior Redesign & Home Staging Business by Adding Organizing Services to the Mix, and 3 Steps to Next Level Business Success for Entrepreneurs. Full details of both presentations can be found on the IRIS Conference site.

If you are an interior redesigner, home stager, or professional organizer, or are thinking of starting a business encompassing any of those services, this conference would be a great fit for you! My “Branch Out” presentation is a good match for anyone interested in adding organizing services to his or her existing menu of services, whether an IRIS or NAPO member. My “Next Level Business Success” presentation covers how to juggle all of the hats of being a business owner, how to leverage your services, and many other tools and tips to help you take your business to the next level.

So, meet me in Denver! I look forward to seeing you there.

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Have you always wanted to get organized but can’t afford to hire a professional organizer on a one-on-one basis? Well, now is your chance!

Come join me for the DECIDE® to be Organized Online Group Coaching Program, a 6-week program designed to be comprehensive, but easy to digest. You’ll have time to work on your organizing projects — in fact, the whole goal of this program is for you to achieve results on an individual basis while working in a group environment! The program is a combination of information, exercises, and support. 

There will be 6 (six) 90-minute calls in a row on Tuesday evenings from October 6 to November 10, 2009, each starting at 7:30pm EST. (If you miss a class, no worries! All classes are recorded for your convenience.)

Due to the interactive and intimate nature of this program, space is limited! So, if you know this program is for you, act now. Registration is only $199 if you register before Tuesday, September 22nd. You have nothing to lose — except maybe some clutter, overwhelm, and stress! Click here for details and registration.

Who Is the Perfect Candidate for this Group Coaching Program?

  • Those that learn well in a group environment.  Participants will have the opportunity to interact with each other, realize they are not alone, and share challenges and solutions with the group.
  • Those outside of my geographical area that cannot work with me one-on-one.
  • Those that are on a budget and cannot afford one-on-one organizing services.
  • Those that need structure in order to reach their organizing goals. The program includes weekly homework assignments for those that want to work on their own between sessions.
  • Those that benefit from an accountability aspect. You have the opportunity to report your progress each week, as well as have access to me and other participants by email and social media.

Want to learn more about the DECIDE® process? Click here to listen to a 10 minute audio presentation about it!

So join me for DECIDE. I promise it will be the best decision you’ve made toward your goal of getting organized all year!

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”  ~ Thomas Edison

So, you are searching for a new job?  Perhaps you are making a voluntary career transition.  Maybe you have been laid off, or worse, fired.  Regardless of the reason for your job search, one fact remains true: if you are conducting a job search, it is vital that you take an organized approach.  Managing your job search is just like managing any other major project.  You must create an infrastructure that allows you to operate in an efficient and productive manner.  A successful job search requires forethought and action.  Here are some tips for conducting an organized job search.

1.      Declutter and Pre-Purge – If you are embarking on a job search, it will be difficult to do so if your physical space is covered in clutter with piles of papers everywhere.  Take some time to declutter.  Purge any unnecessary items, file papers that you need to keep, recycle junk mail, and get some order back into that space!  It will be easier for you to concentrate on your job search without all of that chaos and clutter around you.  Just be careful that you don’t spend too much time decluttering that you start using it as an excuse to procrastinate with regard to your job search.  A few days should suffice.  

2.      Create a Job Search Schedule – Let’s face it – searching for a job is hard work!  If you are still employed while you are conducting your new job search, be prepared to have an extremely busy schedule.  If you are currently unemployed, realize that you do, indeed, have a job – conducting a job search!  Create a job search schedule that gives you ample time for all of the activities you need to focus on in order to succeed: resume and cover letter preparation, surfing the web for jobs, networking, interviewing, follow-up, etc.  Block out time in your calendar for job search activities and treat that time as you would any traditional work commitment.  Be consistent in the amount of time you spend each day and week on job search activities so that you keep your momentum going, and don’t lose focus and miss valuable opportunities.  

3.      Get Your Gear in Order – Update your resume, cover letter, references, and writing sample (if applicable).  Ask for letters of recommendation and testimonials from previous or current supervisors, co-workers, and professional colleagues.  Get some nice new stationery, and stock up on print cartridges for your printer.  If you want to use an outside source for printing, some local printing shops will copy resumes for free during an economic downturn, so ask around!  Be sure to have a computer with high-speed Internet access.  An all-in-one machine for printing, copying, faxing and scanning will also come in handy during a job search.

4.      Create a Job Search Center – Set aside space at home (or wherever you will be conducting your job search activities) and make it job search central.  Keep all of your job-search related supplies in that location, which will make it easy for you to find them when you need them.  This will also help you to get into job search mode when you are in that space. 

5.      Create a Job Search Paper Management System – You may be acquiring a lot of paper in your job search: resources, articles, sample resumes and cover letters, business cards of networking contacts, contact-us-later or rejection letters, etc.  To the extent that you can maintain these items in a paperless fashion, go for it.  But if you have to maintain hard copy paper, be sure to create a job search paper management or filing system, to be stored in your job search center.  Keep it simple and use whatever system makes the most sense to you for ease of use (binder, portable filing bin, traditional filing cabinet, etc).

6.      Plan Job Search Activities – Plan out job search activities on a daily basis, such as phone calls to make, resumes to send, online applications to fill out, informational interviews to conduct, etc.  Write down your job search activities as calendar items, to-do’s, or tasks so that you take them seriously and treat them as measurable goals.  Be realistic with regard to what you can reasonably accomplish in one day, but also challenge yourself!

7.      Track Job Search Activities – Organizing your job search involves keeping track of all information and communications.  Keep a record of where you sent your resume and when, whom you have spoken to, when interviews took place, etc.  This information will prove vital when deciding when to follow-up with leads.  You can track all of this information using a calendar such as Outlook or Google, or an online tool such as JobFiler.com.  Whatever tools you use, it is important that you be able to track the status of your job search.

8.      Manage Job Search Email – In today’s world, much of your job search will likely be conducted by email.  Therefore, before you even start your search, whittle down the amount of email in your inbox so that you can hyper-focus on your job search emails, which will add up quickly.  Create folders within your email system using categories that make sense to you, such as Companies Applied To, Contacts Submitted Resumes To, etc.    

9.      Polish Your Online Profiles – If you are conducting a job search in today’s market, you would be remiss not to develop an online presence on social media sites, especially LinkedIn, which is the most “professional” of the social media sites and can essentially serve as your online resume.  But also consider other social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.  The opportunities are endless for employers and contacts to find you online.  You may even have your own website, e-zine, or blog.  Maybe you post articles on various article-marketing sites, or serve as a guest blogger on other blogs.  If you maintain profiles on any of social media sites, or have any type of online presence, be sure to polish your profiles so that they promote the image you want potential employers and contacts to see.     

10.  Change Your Greetings – Change the message that greets callers for any phone number that you plan to use for your job search so that it sounds professional, and conveys the information you want callers to hear.  Be prepared, not embarrassed! 

11.  Stay Positive – The longer a job search takes, the more chance you have of becoming negative about it.  Try to maintain a positive attitude to the extent you can by monitoring your progress and staying active in your search.  When the going gets rough during a job search, many people take a back seat and give up, which is counter-productive.  Try to stay focused and make valuable contacts that are likely to lead to a job.  However, don’t be all consumed by your search for a job!  Maintaining some balance in your life at this time will serve you well.  Get adequate sleep, eat well, see family and friends for pleasure, and make time for exercise.     

Organization is one of the single most important things you can do to keep your job search manageable.  Just like being organized helps you improve any other area of your life, home, or work, it will also help move along your job search in quick and efficient fashion and with less stress.  It may even wind up being the key to finding that dream job you always wanted. 

Good luck!

“Our life is frittered away by detail … simplify, simplify.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

When I am conducting an organizing, time management or business related workshop, I often ask if anyone has heard of the Pareto Principle. I usually get a room full of blank stares. However, if I ask if anyone has heard of the 80/20 Rule, many people nod their heads yes, and have a better idea what I am talking about.

The Pareto Principle takes its name from a 19thcentury Italian economist named Vilfredo Pareto. In the late 1940s, business management guru Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle and named it after Pareto, who observed in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. Pareto studied the unequal distribution of wealth in his country in order to offer suggestions as how to improve its disparity.

Pareto’s Principle (or the 80/20 Rule as it is often called) has expanded over the years to include many examples of unequal distribution. Essentially, the 80-20 Rule now stands for the proposition that in any grouping of items or events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Or stated in the reverse, 20% of the items or events is always responsible for 80% of the results.

The 80/20 Rule has become a common business principle, resulting in the oft-repeated phrase, “80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients.” Conversely, 80% of your complaints come from 20% of your clients, and 80% of the profits made in your industry come from 20% of the businesses.

The Pareto Principle also applies to a variety of other items and events: we only wear 20% of our clothing, we spend 80% of the time with 20% of our acquaintances, 80% of our interruptions come from the same 20% of people, 20% of the work we do consumes 80% of our time and resources, etc. You can apply the 80/20 Rule to almost anything, from business and time management principles, to clutter and physical possessions. The exact percentages may vary, but the overall gist of the principle remains the same.

The Pareto principle was also featured in the book, The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. Ferriss recommends focusing one’s business activities on the 20% that contributes to 80% of the income. Boldly, he also recommends firing the 20% of clients that take up the majority of your time and energy, and cause the most trouble, often referred to as ‘toxic clients.’

I personally love the way Joseph Juran described the phenomenon in the 1940s — the “vital few and trivial many.” The 80/20 Rule means that in any grouping of items or events, a few (20%) are vital and many (80%) are trivial. 80% of our results come from 20% of our activity. That means that of all of the daily activities you do, and choices that you make, only 20% really matter (or at least produce meaningful results).

What is the takeaway that we can learn from the Pareto Principle?

Identify and focus on the 20% that matters! When life sets in and you start to become reactive instead of proactive, remind yourself of the 20% you need to focus on. If something in your schedule needs to be deleted or not completed with your fullest attention, try your best to make sure it’s not part of that 20%.

Use the Pareto Principle as a litmus test to constantly check in and ask yourself: “Is this truly part of the 20% that matters?” Let the Pareto Principle serve as a powerful daily reminder to focus 80% of your time and energy on the 20% of your work and life that is really important and delivers positive results.

A large percentage of my clients face paper clutter challenges. Despite visions of a paperless society when the computer was invented, we are still inundated with paper at home and at work.

One of the biggest culprits is “junk mail” — those credit card solicitations, catalogs, circulars, and the like that you don’t want or need, but that still keep coming. Experts estimate that the average person receives 41 pounds of junk mail per year.

How to stop the madness? Here are some great resources for helping you whittle down the amount of junk mail that comes into your home or office in the first place.

  • OptOutPrescreen.com is the official Consumer Credit Reporting Industry website to accept and process requests from consumers to opt-in or opt-out of firm offers of credit or insurance.
  • Catalog Choice is a free service that allows you to decide what gets in your mailbox. Use it to reduce your mailbox clutter, while helping save natural resources.
  • DMAChoice.org is an online tool developed by the Direct Marketing Association to help you manage your mail. This site is part of a larger program designed to respond to consumers’ concerns over the amount of mail they receive, and it is the evolution of the DMA’s Mail Preference Service created in 1971.  For the purposes of this site, direct mail is divided into four categories: Credit Offers, Catalogs, Magazine Offers and Other Mail Offers. You can request to start or stop receiving mail from individual companies within each category—or from an entire category at once.
  • YellowPagesGoesGreen.org was started because we are continually bombarded with yellow and white pages directories at both home and office. The site is not intended to stop the use of such directories, but to eliminate the unsolicited delivery of the books. The thinking is, if you want a book, you can call and order one.
  • 41Pounds.org is a service that helps you stop 80-95% of unwanted catalogs and junk mail. Yes, it is a paid service, but the fee is reasonable and they do all of the work of contacting the mailing companies for you. 41 Pounds donates over half of its profits to  environmental groups, local schools, and youth groups.
  • Mail Stopper is another paid service that does all of the work for you. Mail Stopper plants 5 trees on behalf of each member to further fight the environmental impact of all of the wasted paper produced by junk mail.

Take the time to contact any of the above resources to help you stop junk mail from entering your home or office. The result will be less paper to process, which means less clutter and more time for you!

In honor of my friend’s surprise baby shower today (shhhhh!), I am sharing a great organizing product that I just love — the Baby Briefcase.

Baby_Briefcase2 

The Baby Briefcase was designed by a new mom who realized her baby’s paperwork weighed almost as much as her baby. Think about it – medical documents, birth certificate, social security forms, thank you notes, warranty information for all of that new baby gear, etc. The list goes on!

Instead of throwing all of those papers in a pile, and stressing about not being able to find them when you need them, you can store them all in one portable stylish location. It is a grab-and-go strategy that allows you to take all of baby’s documents with you when you need them, or to leave it at home in a filing drawer and just grab what you need from it. And at a time when sleep is a precious and rare commodity, the time saving features will be a real blessing!

Baby Briefcase is a wonderfully designed, charming little organizer. Did I mention it is also adorable? It’s a great gift for a new parent, which is why I am wrapping it for this afternoon’s baby shower.

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Paper. It should be a benign part of our lives. It means no harm, really. But somehow, when it piles up and has a paper party with its friends, it becomes dreaded clutter! What to do?

Grab a RAFT and sail to an organized shore! (Okay, technically, it should be RAFTS, plural, but that just didn’t work well in a sentence, so allow me some leeway.)

  • Sort your mail daily – use the RAFTS method:
    • Recycle – Junk mail that is not confidential.
    • Act – Bills to pay, invitations to RSVP to, forms to fill out, etc.
    • File – Vital documents that must be kept long term (only 20% of paper needs to be filed!).
    • Toss – If you unfortunately do not have paper recycling in your area.
    • Shred – Anything with financial or confidentil information on it.
  • Designate a spot for your mail.  If there is no “mailbox” in the house, you will “deliver” it to a different spot each time, or in a location that may not be best suited to paper flow (for example, the dining room table!).
  • Keep the recycling bin, garbage, shredder, and calendar/planner nearby to immediately be able to take action.  Whatever is brought in the house should be pre-sorted by recipient, category or any system that makes sense for your household.  For a large household, consider separate mail slots per person.
  • Evaluate whether you want to continue to receive magazines and newspapers that you are not regularly reading.  Cancel subscriptions, rotate them, or share with a friend or neighbor.  Get in the habit of cutting out only those articles you know you will refer to again, and recycling the magazine itself.  Set up those articles by subject matter in your home filing system.  Start by throwing out the piles of unread junk mail and catalogs.
  • If you have a home office, use it!
  • If not, set up a Home Information Center.
    • Home offices do not need to be a room, but can be a “hub” somewhere in the home.  A likely spot may be in the kitchen, as many people do paperwork and pay bills in the “public” areas of their home.  If you do realize you need a larger space, re-evaluate the space you have in the home to determine where the home office should be established.  For example, if your child is away at college, repurpose the room as a home office. Invent the room that best suits the space and the activities that will take place in your “office.”

When you have a high functioning paper management system, you will be motivated to actually get the work done and keep it organized.  If you have good systems in place, you will be able to find what you need more easily and be able to do the mundane tasks, such as bill paying with less stress!

Now, go find your RAFT and climb in. Happy sailing…

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Are you ready to make positive changes in your life, home and work environments, and need help with organizing and time management projects? Then it is time for DECIDE®!

Many people say they want to get better organized, but in order to act upon that wish, you must deeply examine your motives for wanting to do so. Your motives must be strong enough to sustain you through the change process. DECIDE is an empowering process that leads to change. It will assist you in achieving results at home, at work, and in life in general. While the process guides a person in making decisions that lead to a more organized state, it is itself a decision; a decision to take control. How do you do that?

Announcing the

 DECIDE to Be Organized Online Group Coaching Program

  • Dates: Tuesday evenings, October 6 to November 10, 2009
  • Time: 7:30-9:00 pm EST
  • Investment: Early Bird Special – $199 if register before Sept. 22nd
  • Bonuses: Includes MP3 recordings, an ebook, email access to me, a laser coaching session, and more!
  • Click here for details and to register

If you are ready to change and need help with any of your organizing or time management projects, then join me for the DECIDE to Be Organized Online Group Coaching Program, a 6-week teleclass program that allows participants to be guided through the entire DECIDE process in a group coaching environment.

During these teleclasses, I will offer guidance, support, and expertise as you embark on this empowering process for change. Through DECIDE, you will learn the tools needed to get better organized, take control, and make positive changes.

Go to this page to listen to a message from me about this exciting program AND a free 10 minute audio about the DECIDE process. 

What the DECIDE to be Organized Group Coaching Program Includes:

  • Time, motivation, and inspiration to work on your organizing projects.
  • A fun, supportive environment made up of individuals that also want to get better organized. You don’t have to go it alone.
  • Lasting tools to help you learn your own organizing style, change your mindset, and maintain your organizing systems long after the program is over.
  • Decluttered physical space and clarity of mind so that you can focus on the things you really want, love, and need in your home, life, and work.

If you are interesting in having your very own organizing coach, but aren’t able to invest a lot of money to work on a one-on-one basis with an organizing expert, this affordable program is the answer!

Take a look at the program details and “decide” for yourself!

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A business coach that I admire, Sandra Martini, is hosting a 30 Day Blogging Challenge. Always one to accept a challenge, I decided to go for it!

Here are the rules:

  • The 30 Day Blogging Challenge officially begins at midnight on September 9th and ends at 11:59pm on October 8th.
  • You must write at least 100 words for each post — you can write a review of something, show a video, write a fresh new article, repurpose a teleseminar recording by posting the main points…whatever you feel is appropriate for your audience.
  • You may skip some days and post several times on others — as long as you reach 30 posts by the end of the challenge period.

So… stick with me for 30 days. I promise to deliver quantity AND quality! I have so much great content to share, and this will force me to blog often, and keep the posts short.

Feel free to take the challenge yourself if you are a blogger, or to comment on any of the 30 posts to come. I love hearing from you.

Now, bring on the challenge!