I think this quote says it all:

bombeck-quoteWhatever that larger vision for your life is… that’s what La Dolce Vita is all about.

Isn’t it time you fell in love with your life again???

You might think that it’s selfish to invest in yourself… but your happiness depends on YOU… and you deserve it.

So won’t you join me for this amazing 6 week group program? We start this Thursday, February 20th (tomorrow). Come join La Dolce Vita now.

P.S. And don’t forget, if you take La Dolce Vita and plan to use it to satisfy a CE requirement, I am happy to issue a certificate for topics that may qualify like productivity, life-work balance, etc.

tuscany-viewWhat’s YOUR version of The Sweet Life? The La Dolce Vita lifestyle is about following your dream, deciding not to play small anymore, living your life to the fullest, and allowing the real you to shine through!

Join me for the La Dolce Vita 6-Week Group Life Coaching Program, starting Thursday, February 20, 2014. We will enjoy 6 weeks of open-line calls (recorded for your convenience), powerful content and exercises, a private Facebook group, and much more! All designed to help you make significant changes in your life so that you can adopt a La Dolce Vita kind of lifestyle no matter where you live.

Maybe for you “The Sweet Life” means:
Saying no to a toxic relationship that doesn’t serve you.

  • Cultivating a hobby or passion that you have always wanted to try.
  • Adding a little romance (or a lot!) into your life.
  • Taking better care of your body or spirit.
  • Going to bed at night feeling peaceful and waking up looking forward to the day.
  • Changing careers.
  • Enjoying quality time with your family and friends.
  • Writing a book (its been on your bucket list for years).
  • Running a marathon or some other type of active pursuit.
  • Traveling – finally giving in to that wanderlust!
  • Saying ‘No’ more often.
  • Saying ‘Yes’ more fully.

Whatever that larger vision for your life is… that’s what La Dolce Vita is all about.

Many of you have expressed interest in coaching with me, but can’t afford the one-on-one price. This is an ideal way to get the coaching you crave at a rate that meets you where you are. This program is powerful, yet affordable. Early bird rate is only $299 if you register by February 13th. $359 thereafter. There’s even a handy 2-pay option if you need to spread payments out.

NOTE: For those of you that need or want continuing education units (CEUs), you may be able to use some of the topics for CEUs depending on the guidelines of your certification and whether you will use the content for yourself, your business, and/or your clients. If you are a coach or organizer, for example, many of the topics may qualify for CEUs. So keep that in mind!

If you want results and are ready to live The Sweet Life, then join us!

Ciao!

Do you…

new_life-old_life… long to live a life of purpose and passion, that reflects your values AND desires?

… need permission to make your well-being, happiness, and self-care a priority?

… have fear that is still holding you back from going after what you want?

… feel tired of living your best life “in your head” and want to make it a reality in 2014?

Then you are in luck! Come learn how to live “The Sweet Life!”

Introducing the La Dolce Vita 6-Week Group Life Coaching Program from LMG University, starting on February 20, 2014.

Lisa-Sean-ItalyThis isn’t just any group life coaching program. It’s based on content taken from my concept of La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life), and w ill help you bring the passion and zest back to your life.

The content is based on my research (and background!) of Italian culture, positive psychology and happiness, years of coaching clients holistically to integrate life-work balance, and my own personal lifestyle. My life is a work in progress, and sharing my own personal experience, and that of the hundreds of clients I have been privileged to work with, is part of the La Dolce Vita process.

Stop settling for good enough because you are worried if you go for great that people will think you are too big for your britches. It is time to step into your power and claim the life you know you are truly meant to live!

How much longer are you willing to wait? How much time are you willing to sacrifice? When will you decide that you deserve to be really happy and live The Sweet Life?

If you are committed to making regular “deposits” in areas of your life that have been neglected and feed them what they need to grow and prosper, then join me for La Dolce Vita.

Topics we’ll address in the 6 weeks:

  • Crazy Busy Is Not a Badge of Honor: Positive and Proactive Productivity
  • Prioritizing Self Care: Let Go, Say No, and Make You a Priority
  • Become a Passionista! How to Tap Into Your Passions & Manage Them
  • Don’t Be a See-Saw Anymore: Go Beyond Balance and Engage in Life-Work Integration
  • Mind, Body & Soul: Health & Fitness, Personal Spirituality
  • C’Mon Get Happy: The Power of Positivity
  • Connection & Relationships: Romance, Friends & Family, Say No to Toxic Relationships and Negative Nellies & Neds
  • Financial Wellness: Preparing for the Future, While Still Living Well Today
  • And more!

Many people have been asking me to share this type of content and create a program like this for years. And I am thrilled to finally be able to share it with you. But I don’t want finances to keep you from living a La Dolce Vita life! So I have kept this program affordable.

Early Bird Rate is $299 until 2/13; $359 thereafter (there’s even a 2 pay option available if you need to spread payments out).

Go to lisamontanaro.com/lmg-university/LaDolceVita for details and to register.

Hope to help you live a La Dolce Vita kind of life this year!

Ciao!

Ah, New Year’s Resolutions. They come but once per year, and cause quite a stir. Indeed, people talk about their New Year’s Resolutions quite freely. A small portion of people even write them down. But how many truly achieve them? The number is probably dismally small. Why? Because most people do a great job of talking about their resolutions, but don’t do such a great job of taking action on them. They often set themselves up for failure by biting off more than they can chew!

2014_goalsTake, for example, the most popular New Year’s Resolution: to lose weight (get in shape, exercise more, achieve greater levels of fitness, shrink a few sizes… any version will do!). What most people do is come out swinging. They join a gym and try to exercise 5 days a week, when they were formerly a couch potato and led a sedentary lifestyle (not only is this setting you up for failure, but it can be dangerous too!). They deprive themselves of every food they love, instead of eating a little bit of everything in moderation or learning their trigger foods and slowly replacing them with better choices. In other words, they try to do too much in too little time. They experience set backs, or fail altogether, which then leads to a defeatist attitude and they say “See, I knew I couldn’t do it.” They then give up.

Does this pattern sound familiar? If so, try a different approach this year. Try taking it slowly, one step at a time, and actually taking action throughout the year. How? Here are some tips:

  • Start Small & Grow Your Goal Little by Little
    Instead of looking at your goal or resolution as a major project, think of just the first step. For example, instead of thinking that you have to get your entire life organized, try keeping your appointments for the first week, clearing out your email inbox the second week, saying no to some tasks and events you can’t handle the third week, etc. Get the picture? Take it step by step so each smaller goal feels, and is, more manageable.
  • Reinforce Goal Setting in Various Ways
    Use different learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile) to reinforce goal setting. Perhaps you can journal about your New Year’s Resolutions (one of my favorite activities!). Maybe you prefer to set up a vision board to see your goals. Or you can listen to podcasts and audio programs that reinforce your resolutions. It doesn’t matter which you choose, only that you choose a way to reinforce goal setting that works for you!
  • Ignore the Naysayers
    Often, you are making actual progress towards achieving your resolutions or goals, but someone tries to sabotage you. Try not to let this derail your efforts! You need to stay the course, despite what they say. The famous life coach Martha Beck talks about surrounding yourself with people who can be your “believing eyes.” I love this idea! Adopt it and use it as your own. Stay away from the Negative Nellies right now, and surround yourself with people who believe in your goal and will help you achieve it.
  • Be Accountable
    Some of the world’s most successful behavior modification programs are successful partly due to the strong accountability celebratefactor built into the program. Find an accountability partner, join a mastermind group, or hire a coach. You need motivation and someone to share your trials and successes with. Having accountability systems in place can be a powerful aid in accomplishing the goals you set.
  • Celebrate Success
    Make sure to reward yourself along the way for achieving success, no matter how small. Set up milestones, and as you achieve them, figure out ways to motivate yourself to keep going. The more successful you feel at each step, the more apt you are to keep moving on the path towards achieving your full goals.

“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.”
~ Helen Keller

Meet Your Board of Advisors

Imagine a group of people that are available to bounce business ideas off of, to help you make pivotal business decisions, and to serve as a sounding board.  Major corporations have a Board of Directors.  Non-profits have a Board of Trustees.  Why can’t the solopreneur or small business owner too?  You can!  How?  By developing a Board of Advisors for your business.  You’ve heard of Mastermind groups, through which like-minded peers share ideas and support each other’s business endeavors?  A Board of Advisors is similar, but usually consists of individuals from outside your industry, even clients.

Striking the Right Balance

I am a Certified Professional Organizer, Business & Life Coach and Motivational Speaker.  I’ve been in business for seven years, am structured as a Limited Liability Company, and consider myself a solopreneur, in that I have no employees working for me.  My Board of Advisors consists of an individual with a marketing background, an individual with a publishing background, two other successful professional organizers with a very different business model and focus than mine, two long-time clients, and my very supportive, objective husband.  A good number to strive for is 5-8 members.  Be careful not to include anyone on your Board of Advisors that pushes your buttons, saps your energy, or is competitive.  In addition, try not to surround yourself only with “yes” men and women who nod approvingly at everything you do, and never challenge you or hold you accountable.  You want members that challenge you to stretch your entrepreneurial muscles.

Do not confuse your Board of Advisors with your official team of advisors.  Your team of advisors is usually made up of people that you retain to assist you with certain aspects of your business operations, such as a lawyer, accountant, graphic designer, webmaster, etc.  These are paid professionals that you hire to provide services to your company, as opposed to an individual that is voluntarily providing assistance to you and your business.  Yet another category of people that may provide assistance to your business are what I call power partners.  These are vendors that you refer your clients to, or that you partner with on a project basis.  Again, these partners are extremely valuable to a small business, but do not serve as a Board of Advisors.

What Does a Board of Advisors Do?

What can your Board of Advisors help you with?  Everything and anything.  A Board of Advisors can push you when you need a nudge, lift you up when you lose focus or faith, and help to keep you on track.  Mine assisted me with the re-branding of my company last year, including the design of a new logo, business card, brochure, and website.  Yes, I used a graphic designer and web designer to actually create the promotional materials, but it was my Board of Advisors that helped me to capture the overall vision and message I wanted to achieve.  A Board of Advisors can act as a sounding board for the future launch of programs.  When I was developing my signature approach to organizing, DECIDE®, my Board of Advisors provided invaluable feedback.

You can also use your Board for market research.  These days, we have a plethora of resources available online, including social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, survey tools such as Survey Monkey, as well as forums provided by professional associations (for example, as a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, I have access to the NAPO Chat, which is an invaluable resource).  All of these are fantastic resources, and serve a relevant purpose to a small business.  But, there is something magical about a consistent group of people that can go deep with you, gets to know your business intimately, and is vested in some way in your success.

What Are The Rules That Govern a Board of Advisors?

When I recommend to a small business client that he or she create a Board of Advisors, invariably the client will ask me what the rules are that govern this type of relationship.  It is entirely up to you and your Board of Advisors.  Communication is key, so think about how you will communicate with your Board members.  Do you hold in-person Board meetings, or communicate virtually? Should you develop a special online membership forum or website to communicate?  I communicate with members of my Board of Advisors in numerous ways — by email, telephone and in person, as some are local.  I have never convened a full Board meeting, although that may be in my future plans.

What are the benefits to your Board members?  Some just want to be a part of a growing, successful business.  Others may want tangible benefits, such as the ability to take your workshops for free, or buy products at a discount.  Ask what they want in return.  Find a way to acknowledge or reward the members of your Board of Advisors to let them know they are an asset to your business.

On the flip side, if you are asked to serve on a Board of Advisors, take the request seriously.  I recently had to turn down an invitation because I knew I could not actively participate at that time.  I appreciated the offer and confidence in my feedback, but passed it onto someone else that was a better match.

Take your time putting together a great complementary Board of Advisors and experience the positive affect it will have on your business.  Now, go forth and create your village!

Copyright © 2008 Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.

Want to Use This Article in Your E-zine or Website?

You can, as long as you use this complete statement:

Copyright 2008. Lisa Montanaro is a Productivity Consultant, Success Coach, Business Strategist, Speaker and Author who helps people live successful and passionate lives, and operate productive and profitable businesses. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for success-minded individuals, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at www.LMOrganizingSolutions.com. Lisa is the author of The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life, published by Peter Pauper Press. Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at www.DecideToBeOrganized.com. Through her work, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how Lisa can help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at Lisa@LMOrganizingSolutions.com.

By now, you have probably heard the term “Coopetition.” Coopetition is a contraction of the words cooperation and competition, meaning essentially cooperative competition. In the business world, coopetition means collaborating or partnering with your competitors in an innovative way so that both parties benefit. The most successful entrepreneurs realize early on that the old military adage, “To know your enemy, you must become your enemy … Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer” applies just as well to the business world. Of course, we all know that your competitors are not truly your enemies (at least I hope they aren’t!), but the idea of keeping them close is the point. A creative collaboration with your biggest competitor in the same industry may be the best opportunity for boosting your business.

Many of you are already familiar with the idea of collaborating with your competitors through membership in an industry specific professional association. For example, I am a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), the premiere association for my industry. I attend the annual conference every year as a participant or presenter, belong to a local organizers’ neighborhood (an informal chapter), frequently engage in discussion on the organizers’ email list, and serve as a mentor and business coach to new organizers and organizers-to-be. I have partnered with other organizers in various ways, as well as share referrals back and forth. This coopetition with other organizers has enriched my business in ways that are immeasurable. I’ve benefited greatly from these relationships and from keeping an open mind in my approach to dealing with my competitors.

It is smart business to capitalize on the positive aspects of a competitive situation. However, for coopetition to work effectively, both parties need to clearly define their roles, making sure not to overstep boundaries. The goal is to find a way to partner with your competitor (read: colleague!) so that both parties can substantially benefit from the collaboration. Look around at your competition, and identify competitors that share the same zest for business and success that you do. You want to make sure that you align yourself with a competitor that you respect and admire, and that exudes the same sense of professionalism and level of expertise.

What are some ways that you can engage in coopetition that will boost your business? Here are some examples of strategic alliances between competitors that are innovative, creative, and effective:

    • Develop a joint venture project together. Some of the best business ideas are born out of competitors joining together. For example, in my industry, organizers are collaborating together to offer certification prep courses, train new organizers, design organizing products, etc.

Share a booth at an expo, tradeshow or business showcase.

      Not only will this help each party keep costs down, but as we all know, two minds are often better than one. You may come up with great new ideas to market your industry and businesses, offer more products, and gain more attention from participants and the media.

Co-present with a competitor.

      Co-presenting is a wonderful tool when done well. I have had the opportunity to present with colleagues to offer workshops that I may not have been able to do on my own. The participants benefit from hearing two different presenters, which helps keep the workshop fresh and interesting. Each presenter only has to do half the work, which makes your job easier overall.

Advertise with a competitor.

      Advertising is expensive. Sharing that expense with a colleague or competitor to promote types of service, your industry, or an event you are doing together is a great way to maximize advertising costs.

Refer leads to each other.

      This is probably the most common form of coopetition. But don’t lose sight of how powerful it is! What you give out almost always comes back. If you cannot service a prospective client, find a colleague or competitor that can. The potential client will view you as a true professional and resource-provider, and the competitor will be grateful and will usually reciprocate in the future.

Co-author an article or book together.

      Writing does not come easy to many people. Consider sharing writing responsibility by co-authoring an article or book with a competitor. This may be the most effective way to get published in your industry. For example, if you teamed up with 9 competitors in your industry and all wrote one chapter, voila, a 10-chapter book is born!

Offer a teleclass or webinar together.

    You’ve probably seen this many times where two business experts team up to offer a teleclass or webinar together. Many times they are in complementary industries, such as an interior designer (or life coach, or wardrobe consultant, etc.) and professional organizer, or a financial planner and accountant. Again, two minds are better than one, work is shared among the presenters, and the participants get to hear from two experts. It’s a win-win situation for all involved.

Think broadly, keep an open mind, and seek out collaborative opportunities to boost your business with coopetition. Used wisely, it is a fantastic tool to add to your business.

Copyright © 2009 Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.

Want to Use This Article in Your E-zine or Website?

You can, as long as you use this complete statement:

Copyright 2009. Lisa Montanaro is a Productivity Consultant, Success Coach, Business Strategist, Speaker and Author who helps people live successful and passionate lives, and operate productive and profitable businesses. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for success-minded individuals, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at www.LMOrganizingSolutions.com. Lisa is the author of The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life, published by Peter Pauper Press. Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at www.DecideToBeOrganized.com. Through her work, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how Lisa can help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at Lisa@LMOrganizingSolutions.com.

Ah, New Year’s Resolutions. They come but once per year, and cause quite a stir. Indeed, people talk about their New Year’s Resolutions quite freely. A small portion of people even write them down. But how many truly achieve them? The number is probably dismally small. Why? Because most people do a great job of talking about their resolutions, but don’t do such a great job of taking action on them. They often set themselves up for failure by biting off more than they can chew!

Take, for example, the most popular New Year’s Resolution: to lose weight (get in shape, exercise more, achieve greater levels of fitness, shrink a few sizes…any version will do!). What most people do is come out swinging. They join a gym and try to exercise 5 days a week, when they were formerly a couch potato and led a sedentary lifestyle (not only is this setting you up for failure, but it can be dangerous too!). They deprive themselves of every food they love, instead of eating a little bit of everything in moderation or learning their trigger foods and slowly replacing them with better choices. In other words, they try to do too much in too little time. They experience set backs, or fail altogether, which then leads to a defeatist attitude and they say “See, I knew I couldn’t do it.” They then give up.

Does this pattern sound familiar? If so, try a different approach this year. Try taking it slowly, one step at a time, and actually taking action throughout the year. How? Here are some tips:

Start Small & Grow Your Goal Little by Little
Instead of looking at your goal or resolution as a major project, think of just the first step. For example, instead of thinking that you have to get your entire life organized, try keeping your appointments for the first week, clearing out your email inbox the second week, saying no to some tasks and events you can’t handle the third week, etc. Get the picture? Take it step by step so each smaller goal feels, and is, more manageable.

Reinforce Goal Setting in Various Ways
Use different learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile) to reinforce goal setting. Perhaps you can journal about your New Year’s Resolutions (one of my favorite activities!). Maybe you prefer to set up a vision board to see your goals. Or you can listen to podcasts and audio programs that reinforce your resolutions. It doesn’t matter which you choose, only that you choose a way to reinforce goal setting that works for you!

Ignore the Naysayers
Often, you are making actual progress towards achieving your resolutions or goals, but someone tries to sabotage you. Try not to let this derail your efforts! You need to stay the course, despite what they say. The famous life coach Martha Beck talks about surrounding yourself with people who can be your “believing eyes.” I love this idea! Adopt it and use it as your own. Stay away from the Negative Nellies right now, and surround yourself with people who believe in your goal and will help you achieve it.

Be Accountable
Some of the world’s most successful behavior modification programs are successful partly due to the strong accountability factor built into the program. Find an accountability partner, join a mastermind group, or hire a coach. You need motivation and someone to share your trials and successes with. Having accountability systems in place can be a powerful aid in accomplishing the goals you set.

Celebrate Success
Make sure to reward yourself along the way for achieving success, no matter how small. Set up milestones, and as you achieve them, figure out ways to motivate yourself to keep going. The more successful you feel at each step, the more apt you are to keep moving on the path towards achieving your full goals.

Copyright © 2010 Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.

Want to Use This Article in Your E-zine or Website?

You can, as long as you use this complete statement:

Copyright 2010. Lisa Montanaro, “The Solutions Expert,” is Principal of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC, a professional services firm created in 2002 that offers professional organizing, business and life coaching, and motivational speaking to individuals and organizations. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for the general public, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for professional organizers and entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at www.LMOrganizingSolutions.com.  Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at www.DecideToBeOrganized.com. Through LMOS, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how LMOS can improve your home or work environment, or help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at Lisa@LMOrganizingSolutions.com.

I coined an interesting phrase recently when I was facilitating one of the teleclasses for my group coaching program, DECIDE to be Organized. I was speaking to the group about how so many high functioning, busy, successful men and women have all of these passions and get overwhelmed with trying to decide which to do and which to implement. I referred to the act of managing all of those passions as “Passion Management” (instead of Time Management, Project Management or Energy Management). Everyone loved the phrase and I realized I was onto something.

Passion Management acknowledges that we do, indeed, have multiple passions. I, for one, always refer to myself as a multi-passionate entrepreneur and person. Also, Passion Management is a much more positive way of describing our dilemma of what to do with all of these great ideas. Time management and project management are terms that are not only overused but, unfortunately, can be a negative reminder of our lack of time, as opposed to a motivating factor that leads to productivity.

Passion Management is the ability to manage all of the passions you want to tackle in business and life. Here are some tips to help guide your Passion Management.

Pick a Passion

Most multi-passionate people are swimming in a sea of great ideas, and often have the drive to make them happen. The conundrum is which passion to pursue. My advice — pick a passion and go for it! Author and life coach Cheryl Richardson talked about this when I heard her speak in NYC years ago. She said that so many of her clients get stuck because they have so many great ideas and passions, but don’t know which to pursue. So they wind up pursuing… yup, you guessed it — nothing. Don’t fall v ictim to passion confusion! It is better to pick a passion and allow it to blossom and flourish than to be trapped under a mountain of too many great ideas. If you pick a passion and it does not go well or does not take off the way you wanted it to, that’s okay. Regroup, learn from your passion exercise, and pick a new one.

Tap Into Your Passion

One of the best ways to determine what you should (and want to) focus on is to tap into your passion. Sometimes we lose focus with our business or personal projects and we need to take the time to remind ourselves what we value and why we are staying the course. It is all too easy to get bogged down in details and tasks. Try to ask yourself, “Why am I really doing this project?” and see if there is a reason that relates back to one of your passions, whether perso nal or professional. For example, maybe you are feeling the crunch of trying to blog several times a week. Ask yourself why you set this schedule and whether it taps into one of your passions. If your passion is to write, then write! Do you need to stay on a particular schedule? Will anyone, but you, notice if you only write when your passion strikes? Sometimes we set ourselves up for failure, or more likely, undue stress, when we remain too regimented. Yes, I am a professional organizer and see the value in systems, processes, and timelines, trust me. But it is vital to check in and ask yourself: “Is this tapping into my passion?” If so, it will help propel you forward and remind you why you are doing this particular task or project. If you realize this task or project does not tap into any of your passions, you may decide to abandon the project, delegate the task, or reevaluate whether you want and need to continue it.

Ignore the Naysayers

Often, you are making actual progress towards achieving your passions, but someone tries to sabotage you. Try not to let this derail your efforts! You need to stay the course, despite what they say. If you are truly passionate about the project, you will be able to withstand attacks. The famous life coach Martha Beck talks about surrounding yourself with people who can be your “believing eyes.” I love this idea! Adopt it and use it as your own. Stay away from the Negative Nellies, and surround yourself with people who believe in your passionate goals and will help you achieve them. Passion is contagious and can not only serve as strong motivation for you, but as inspiration for others. People notice passion. In fact, in my opinion, people often notice passion more than they notice productivity!

Celebrate Your Passion Successes

When we take on a project or task and successfully complete it, we often reward ourself at the c ompletion. But when we pursue a passion, we may not have any reward system built in. In some situations, it is hard to determine when we have “completed” a passion. Passions are often ongoing. They can be a particular way of approaching a topic, or a passion can be a mindset or belief. But it is important to come up with some way of rewarding your successes and milestones when pursuing your passions. Figure out ways to evaluate whether you have achieved a certain level of success for a particular passion. The more successful you feel at each step, the more apt you are to keep moving on the path towards achieving your passion goals. And most passionate people just want to keep the passion going! Copyright © 2011 Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.

Want to Use This Article in Your E-zine or Website?

You can, as long as you use this complete statement:

Copyright 2011. Lisa Montanaro, “The Solutions Expert,” is Principal of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC, a professional services firm created in 2002 that offers professional organizing, business and life coaching, and motivational speaking to individuals and organizations. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for the general public, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for professional organizers and entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at www.LMOrganizingSolutions.com.  Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at www.DecideToBeOrganized.com. Through LMOS, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how LMOS can improve your home or work environment, or help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at Lisa@LMOrganizingSolutions.com.

It is difficult enough for one person to be organized and maintain that state of organization on a daily basis. Now imagine being thrust into a living situation with a person you have never met before, who is not a relative or even a friend. A person with different sleeping, grooming, eating, and studying habits, who may be from a different background or culture, and who has a different schedule and interests to boot. Enter the college roommate. When described in the abstract, the college roommate situation reads like a recipe for disaster. Yet, thousands of college students manage to live successfully and harmoniously every year with a roommate who, just days before the beginning of the semester, they had no contact with. Often times, this exercise in living is a wonderful entrance into the “real world” for college students and can serve as an example of the importance of compromise and flexibility that will serve the student in years to come.

Two such young women decided to work with a professional organizer and life coach, hoping to not only improve their living situation, but their overall lives and habits as well. Let their experience serve as an inspiration to all roommates, college or otherwise, who find themselves living in close quarters with a person they’ve never shared a space with before.

Meet Marta and Maria: So Alike and Yet So Different

Marta Anderson-Winchell and Maria Boere found out they were each other’s roommates about one week prior to heading to college. They had never met before.  In many respects, Marta and Maria have a lot in common. Both entered Pace University in September 2003 as freshman and reside on the Briarcliff, New York campus, in the suburbs of New York City. Both attend Pace on a soccer scholarship, are interested in pursuing a career in human services, maintain good grades, and consider themselves family oriented. Yet, there are many differences between the two young women. Marta not only plays soccer for Pace, but also basketball, which forces her to engage in some serious time management. Marta’s family lives within an hour’s drive from campus, which means being able to head home every two weeks to do laundry. Maria isn’t so lucky, as her family resides in Nashville, Tennessee. Maria shared a room back home with her older sister, while Marta never had to share her space before. Although in the same year of college, they are almost an entire year apart. Most importantly, however, is the fact that the two have very different habits when it comes to organizing and maintaining their space and lives.

When I first visited Marta and Maria, I was struck by how small their dorm room is, but isn’t that par for the course in college? What separates organizing a college dorm room from a traditional house bedroom is that the college dorm room must function as a lot more than just a place to sleep. If you split the dorm room into zones, you realize how multi-functional the space must be. There is the sleeping zone (bed and dresser), the dressing zone (armoire style closets), the food zone (mini-refrigerator and dry food storage), the studying zone (desk and bookshelf), and the hanging out zone (television and chair). That is an awful lot of stuff to cram into one space, but then you also need to double almost everything in order to accommodate two people. It’s no wonder college students are often disorganized – there’s too much stuff in one little space!

Maria is a self-professed procrastinator. She likes things clean but let’s the chores go until she cannot stand it anymore (sound familiar, all you procrastinators out there?). In fact, she will let her laundry pile up until she runs out of undies (if she runs out of clothing such as sweatshirts, however, she often steals Marta’s!). She admits that this stresses her out and she’d like to “change her ways.” Marta does more of the general straightening of the room on a daily basis, while Maria actually does more of the cleaning, such as sweeping and mopping the floors. Neither really likes to or has time to cook, so they usually eat in the cafeteria, but they do keep some food staples in their room (although not near the fridge, but we’ll get to that later).

Doing Better Than They Think But There Is Room For Improvement…

So how are they doing? Not bad. Not bad at all. For two people who have never lived together before, Marta and Maria have managed to figure out a way to make it work. Instead of working against each other’s weaknesses, they compensate for each other. Heck, some married couples could learn from these two! But before we give them a freshman-student-living-together-harmoniously-award, let’s focus on what can be improved.

The actual room set up and design is working. However, Marta and Maria have a huge bean bag chair in the middle of their room. When asked if either ever really sit on it, the answer is once in awhile. Do guests sit on it? Sometimes. How often do they have guests? Not that often. Thus, we discussed storing the chair under Maria’s bed where there was adequate space. That would give a sense of openness to the small room. When guests drop by, they can just take beanie out from under the bed. Interestingly, once we discussed moving the bean bag chair from its precious center room location, the two confided during a later visit that they have been using it more often! Sometimes, when faced with the prospect of purging or relocating an item, a person realizes its value and begins to appreciate it and use it. At least now, however, when it is not being used, it has a “home” to go to that is a bit more out of the way.

Another design flaw of the room organization is that the dry food and cooking supplies are stored on the sole shelving unit across the room from the small fridge. I recommended moving the food and cooking supplies to an open area next to the fridge, which is now unused space. It is a narrow space but there is a lot of room vertically. Often times, vertical space is sorely underutilized and can provide the answer to a storage problem.  So we used a narrow, but tall, clear plastic drawer unit with 5 smaller drawers on top, and 2 deep drawers on the bottom. All of the food easily fit in, as well as the few cooking supplies. Now, they have an actual “food zone.” An additional advantage to this reorganization is that it freed up the shelves where the food used to be for storing things like videos, CDs, photo albums, and their toiletry carts (the bathrooms are down the hall, which means carrying toiletries back and forth). We stored those items in pretty open wicker baskets of varying sizes with removable cotton muslin lining for ease of cleaning. The design provides easy access as the baskets are open, and add charm to the space. We used a matching, but smaller, wicker basket to store extra videos that they watch more frequently on top of the television.

The clothes inside their small armoire closets are pretty well organized. However, their shoes are actually on top of their armoires. They claim they can easily see and reach the shoes up there, and they do not want them in the bottom of the closets so the shoes can air out properly after use (remember we are talking athletes here…). One thing organizers know to do is to work “with” the client, so we left the shoes up there as the system works for them.

As for Maria and her laundry, I recommended setting aside one night per week after soccer practice as “laundry night”. Using positive association, I offered up Thursday night as she can put in her laundry before Friends begins, watch the half hour episode, and then switch the clothes to the dryer. She can then take an hour or so to check and reply to e-mail, and then fold the clothes while listening to she and Marta’s favorite radio show, the Delilah show (which they bonded over when they first moved in together and realized they were both huge fans) while winding down before bed. Using positive association will help Maria not dread laundry, but instead think of it in association with fun television shows, e-mailing friends and family, and winding down with music and perhaps a chat with Marta. Having her laundry done every week will also avoid the pile up that stresses her out and causes her to run out of clothing. She gave this a try and said it did help somewhat. I reminded her that it takes time to make new habits, so she plans to keep at it. I have no doubt she will improve her laundry situation as she is motivated to change this behavior, despite her tendencies towards procrastination.

What Does the Future Hold?

Marta and Maria plan to continue living together as roommates in their sophomore year. They already heard that they are moving to a different dorm. Their actual room will be smaller (yikes!), but it will be part of a suite with another room for two other students, and a common living room and bathroom for all four to share. I have no doubt that they will make the smaller space work, and I plan to check in on them to see whether they have been able to maintain the organized systems we put in place. And when I do, I imagine they will whip out the bean bag chair from under the bed for me to sit on. After all, I may be their professional organizer, but I am also their guest.

This article originally appeared in Balance magazine in 2003.
Copyright © 2003 Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.

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Copyright 2003. Lisa Montanaro is a Productivity Consultant, Success Coach, Business Strategist, Speaker and Author who helps people live successful and passionate lives, and operate productive and profitable businesses. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for success-minded individuals, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at www.LMOrganizingSolutions.com. Lisa is the author of The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life, published by Peter Pauper Press. Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at www.DecideToBeOrganized.com. Through her work, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how Lisa can help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at Lisa@LMOrganizingSolutions.com.

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Bold Business Moves: Moving Your Business in the Right Direction

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This Teleclass will be on Tuesday, June 28th titled: Don’t Go It Alone: It Takes a Village to Run a Successful Business ~ Building Your “Team”

Are you a solopreneur and often find it lonely? Maybe you are a small business owner with employees or subcontractors, but find yourself wanting to brainstorm with those outside your business? You can! Imagine a group of people that are available to bounce business ideas off of, help you make pivotal business decisions, and serve as a sounding board. Set your business up for success by enlisting the help of others. Options are plentiful, from using virtual assistants, independent contractors, and employees, to brainstorming with business colleagues, setting up a formal Board of Advisors, participating in a Mastermind group, or hiring a business coach.

Studies show that business owners achieve success more frequently when they set up accountability programs. Identify different ways to partner with others to improve your business by engaging in competition, and learn the differences between various types of accountability tools. Determine which accountability tools are the best match for your business, and how to implement them. Hear about what other like-minded entrepreneurs are doing. Walk away with a plan to enlist the help of others in your business in a way that makes the most sense for your business model, stage, and needs. Get ready to create your village!

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Who Should Participate:
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Do you want to brainstorm with like-minded business owners, while learning from a business coach, lawyer and trainer of entrepreneurs? This series is a cost-effective way to get quality business advice at a fraction of the cost of one-on-one coaching/consulting. Come join us for a teleclass series that promises to deliver great results!

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About the Presenter:
Lisa Montanaro is an inaugural Certified Professional Organizer, Business & Life Coach, Motivational Speaker, and Author. Lisa founded LM Organizing Solutions, LLC in 2002, and since then, has helped thousands of people and organizations live better lives and operate better businesses. A sought-after business expert due to her background as an attorney, mediator, and trainer of entrepreneurs, Lisa offers business coaching to professional organizers, and other entrepreneurs and small business owners. Part consultant, part coach — Lisa gives expert advice, while also guiding clients to the answers they seek. Lisa presents at national conferences, has been interviewed by television and radio hosts, is a frequent guest expert for national teleclasses and webinars, and has been widely published on the web and in print. <