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 Job Search Central– 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.

I have found that among its other benefits,
giving liberates the soul of the giver.”
~ Maya Angelou

Many of these products and services are part of official affiliate programs which pay a referral commission to me based on any purchases you make through these links. However, that is not the reason I recommend them. I only recommend products and services that I believe are of high quality, value, and will benefit you in a tangible way as you improve your home, office, and life.
The Help Kenya Project

This is a Westchester County, NY based charity that focuses on helping the children of Kenya. They collect donations of used computers, books, clothing, sports equipment, and other supplies and ship them to Kenyan schools and libraries. In return, they ask that the recipients plant trees to combat deforestation and provide children with a place to rest and play out of the sun.

It’s incredible how valuable the book or computer you might be throwing out is to a Kenyan child. By providing Kenya’s students with science, English, and computer skills, they give them a much better chance of finding good jobs later in life. It breaks the cycle of poverty by helping Kenyans to help themselves. This is a charity that truly leaves a lasting impact.



National Cristina Foundation

Linking Life to its Promise.

The National Cristina Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to the support of training through donated technology. For more than two decades, it has encouraged companies and individuals to donate computers and other technology, which is then matched to charities, schools and public agencies in all 50 states, Canada, and in many countries around the world.


Vietnam Veterans of America
VVA accepts donations of household goods and clothing in 30 states in the continental United States. To make a donation, please refer to the state map. Identify your area and call the phone number referenced.


Tangible Karma is a donation tracking service that gives you a chance to see the difference your donated goods can make in the world.  At Tangible Karma their mission is to inspire and motivate you, to transform items that are hindering your life into valuable gifts that could make a meaningful difference in the life of another.


Overseas Coupon Program Did you know that expired coupons can be sent to troops stationed overseas and they can use them for 6 months after the expiration date?  If you find this idea redeeming, go to OCPNet.org and get the details. It’s 100% legal and each overseas base has a USA address so it is a local mailing. Save your coupons, even if they are expired to help out our troops!


DisposeMyMeds.org is an online resource to help you to find medication disposal programs at the local independent community pharmacy near you.

Your local community pharmacist has knowledge to ensure the safe and proper handling of your medications, from dispensing to disposal.


Recycle These Items That You Never Thought Of…

Vintage Doorknobs, Radiators, Windows and Mantels
Donate or sell classic architectural elements to salvage firms or restoration projects. SalvageWeb is an online ad space that links buyers and sellers all over the world; here you can buy an Art Deco church chandelier, or unload a clawfoot tub after renovating your bathroom. Baltimore-based Second Chance Inc. accepts salvage donations and trains low-income people in the art of “deconstructing” buildings.

Toothbrushes
The Radius Original Toothbrush has a handle made of cellulose, an organic fiber. (Radius also recycles the handles of its battery-operated model once the battery runs out.)

Foam Packaging
Lightweight “peanuts” made from expanded polystyrene (EPS) contain 25 to 100 percent recycled material.
The Plastic Loose Fill Council has a “Peanut Hotline” (800-828-2214) you can call to find local recycling centers, including chain-store shippers such as Pak Mail and The UPS Store. To recycle large, molded chunks of EPS used to cushion televisions, air conditioners and such, contact the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers.

Sneakers/Tennis Shoes
Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program turns used athletic footwear (no cleats) into a material called Nike Grind, used to surface playgrounds, running tracks and outdoor courts. Or send your still-wearable athletic shoes to Shoe4Africa, which forwards them to athletes in developing countries.

Toys
Ask your local shelter for homeless families or battered women if they accept gently used toys. The Salvation Army and Vietnam Veterans of America also take used toys. Adult-appropriate items such as board games can be sent to troops overseas through www.AnySoldier.com

Wine Corks
Yemm & Hart, which produces recycled building materials, turns used corks into floor and wall tiles.

Motor Oil
Recycled motor oil can find new life as a lubricant or fuel. The American Petroleum Institute estimates the electricity created with just 2 gallons of reused motor oil would power the average home for nearly a day. Preserve used oil in a clean container with a secure, leakproof lid. You can recycle the used oil filter, too. Earth 911 has a list of motor oil recycling centers that’s searchable by ZIP code.

Prom, Bridesmaid and Formal Dresses
Charities like the Glass Slipper Project accepts donated gowns, shoes and purses to provide free prom wear to low-income teens. Another great resource is Donate My Dress, which is the first national network to bring together local dress drive organizations across the U.S. Books such as “Always a Bridesmaid: 89 Ways to Recycle That Bridesmaid Dress” offer tongue-in-cheek recycling advice to every woman who has a hideous gown buried at the back of her closet.

Eyeglasses, Frames and Cases
The Lions Club and Give the Gift of Sight Foundation collect used eyeglasses for needy people around the world. Donate your glasses at one of 17 Lions Clubs recycling centers, or at chains such as Pearle Vision Center, LensCrafters and Sunglass Hut.

Computers, Cell-Phones and Other E-Waste
The EPA maintains a list of charities that accept used electronic equipment. Staples, Office Depot and Best Buy offer in-store e-waste recycling — Best Buy also recycles used appliances. Dell, Toshiba and Sony lead the way in recycling computer products. Donate cell phones to organizations like The Wireless Foundation. Ship old videotapes and DVDs to Ecodisk or Greendisk.

Radio Shack Electronics Trade-In Program

Have electronics to trade-in? Use Radio Shack’s Trade-In Program!

You go online to http://www.radioshack.com/tradeandsave and indicate what items you wish to trade. Items must be in working condition. The site will determine the trade-in value of your items and create a pre-paid shipping label for you. You print off the shipping label, affix it to a box, pack your items and mail it to Radio Shack free of charge. When they receive it, they will mail you a Radio Shack gift card.

Electronics
Electronics improve the way we live, work and play. But, there’s one place where electronics should have no impact — the environment. Through responsible use, reuse and recycling of electronics, the consumer electronics industry and consumers can protect and preserve the environment — together. Many organizations offer free recycling of used electronics, so it’s easy to be green. Check out the following sites, which offer ways to sell or recycle your used electronics.

http://www.Gazelle.com
http://www.MyBoneyard.com

For those of you that were in high school in the 1980s (that would be
me!), you may remember Joan Jett singing, “I don’t give a damn about my reputation!” Sure, Joan could get away with not caring about her reputation (indeed, one can argue that her image was, in fact, not caring about her reputation, but I digress), but can you?

The idea of projecting an organized image can be controversial. Why? Because as professional organizers, many of us teach that being organized has less to do with the way an environment looks than how effectively it functions. The goal is not to be organized, but for your life, home, and work to run more smoothly. In other words, we do not generally focus on the outward perception of organizing or the aesthetics of it, but more on the way it improves your life. We preach that it is not about being “neat.”

And that is all true. But I also truly believe that projecting an organized image will positively affect your life in a myriad of ways. Think about it. Who would you prefer to do business with? Messy Marvin, who always looks a mess, can’t find papers, forgets to return phone calls, and is late for meetings? Or Organized Ollie, who always looks put-together, returns phone calls within 24 hours, has an efficient paper management system, and is consistently on time for meetings and appointments? I would guess Organized Ollie (yes, maybe you would like to go to Happy Hour with Marvin, but that is a different story!).

Being organized can improve relationships and your reputation. You will be more productive at work, which will translate into returning phone calls an d emails quicker, showing up for meetings on time, etc. When you are organized in the workplace, you project a professional put-together image that people trust and are attracted to. At home, many families have disagreements that stem from disorganized systems and habits in the home. Therefore, getting organized almost always improves your family life. And there are many people that are disorganized at home and embarrassed to have guests over, which certainly curtails your social life. So getting organized at home and projecting that type of image will probably help you to be a better host.

Don’t confuse projecting an organized image with perfection. Perfection is not the goal here. But realize that your habits do affect your overall image and the way others perceive you. Start watching others that you admire and respect, and see what type of image they project. Emulate those that you think look put-together and project an organized image. I can’t promise you it w ill change everything in your life, but I can promise you it will help.

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 .

Professional Organizer + Disorganized Friend = Valuable Lessons

First, let me start by saying that, if it weren’t for my friend, Tracy, I probably would not even be a professional organizer, or at least, it would have taken longer to find the profession that is my true calling.  Tracy, demonstrating the intuitiveness that I have come to know is her classic style, guided me to the field of professional organizing in 1999.  I was living in Michigan at the time and working as a lawyer–the career I trained, studied, and prepared for most of my life, and which has never brought me real satisfaction–and expressed to Tracy that I wanted to do something more creative, hands-on, and that would directly help people.  My husband, Sean, whom I also must give credit to for helping guide me to professional organizing, used to tease that what I was really excellent at was planning lives.  Indeed, his slogan for my not-yet-created organizing and coaching business was “Montanaro, Inc. – We Plan Lives.”

Tracy was surfing the Web and discovered the National Association of Professional Organizers website (www.NAPO.net),  as well as that of the local New York Chapter.  She forwarded the link to me by e-mail and basically said, “See, what you do is a ‘real’ profession!”  This was news to me.  I thought, “People pay to have their lives organized?  There are ‘professional organizers’ who do this type of work for a living? Amazing. And awesome!”  I then spent a lot of time researching the profession, as well as brainstorming how and when I could “legitimize” my organizing skills by launching a business.

It wasn’t until the year 2000 when I relocated back to New York where my husband and I are originally from, that I seriously explored the organizing world as a profession.  I attended a one-day conference sponsored by NAPO-NY, “Putting the ‘Professional’ Into Professional Organizing.”   It was there that I learned what is involved in running an organizing business and what sets a professional organizer apart from someone who merely likes to organize.  I realized that I have been organizing people’s lives on an “amateur” level my whole life, and that my organizing and coaching skills transcended my work as a lawyer, educator, mediator, administrator, writer, public speaker, and performer.  Becoming more excited at the prospect of launching a business as a professional organizer, I decided to “practice” on Tracy, one of my closest friends.

Tracy and I met through our high school chorus, and were co-stars of our high school musical.  Our friendship blossomed over the years through college, graduate school, relocation, and marriage.  We always supported each other and considered the other a nice combination of a guardian angel and a tough cookie; hence, our nicknames for each other–Thelma (Tracy) and Louise (Lisa).  I had been providing organizing and coaching services for Tracy for years: assisting her with writing letters to creditors, planning her vacations, reviewing her resume and cover letters, preparing her for job interviews, etc.  It seemed only natural to start my career as a professional organizer with my number one consistent informal client, my disorganized, but brilliant and wonderful, friend.

Interestingly, some people thought this was not such a great idea.  “Don’t mix business with pleasure,” is the old adage.  “You don’t want to spoil the friendship if something goes wrong,” people warned.  As a lawyer, I often referred friends and family to other lawyers when asked to assist, often because the area of law was one that I did not practice in but, sometimes, because I did not want to mix business with pleasure.  Yet, I felt entirely comfortable doing organizing work for Tracy.  “Well, she IS one of your best friends, and you had been doing organizing work with her all along,” you may be thinking.  This is true, although the work I had been doing for Tracy all along was never part of an official professional endeavor.  No, the reason I chose to do organizing work for Tracy was because it just felt natural.  Not just natural; more like it was what I was supposed to be doing.

So we started.  My first task was to plan her wedding and honeymoon in 2001.  Success.  We then moved onto organizing some of the rooms of the newlyweds’ apartment.  Done.  In 2002-2003, I assisted Tracy and her husband Mike with the first-time home buying process.  Voila—they now live only a few miles from my husband and I in the beautiful Hudson River Valley of NY.  Over the years, I have repeatedly provided organizing assistance to Tracy.  We have delved into time management, space planning, bill paying systems, paper management , and organized the master bedroom, master bathroom and home office.

Tracy is an extremely intelligent, self-aware woman who has made great strides when it comes to organizing, and benefits greatly from working with an organizer.  You may be wondering why she needed an organizer in the first place if she is so smart.  It is a common misconception that an intelligent individual who has it “together” does not need an organizer, and would not benefit from professional organizing assistance.  My clients are intelligent individuals that excel at many skills and have many talents.  However, they need assistance with organizing.  Organizing is a skill, but it is not taught in schools (a fact that NAPO is trying to change – check out NAPO in the Schools on the NAPO site).  My clients may not have had the benefit of a parent, teacher, mentor, work colleague, or friend that could serve as a role model with regard to organizing skills.  Some of my clients are organized at home, but not at work, or visa versa.  Some are organized physically, but their time management skills are lacking.  In other words, there is no standard disorganized person profile.  My clients all have their own strengths and weaknesses, and that is why good organizing means tailoring the system to match the needs of the client.

Due to her background and intelligence, I knew one way to reach Tracy was by helping her to examine the psychological side of being disorganized.  She is an avid reader (as well as one hell of an editor, proofreader and writer!) and has digested a plethora of organizing books.  She approaches each book as a true researcher, going deep into the topic, highlighting the pages, and marking them up with notes in the margins.  She then discusses them with me, giving me the important client-focused perspective.  She is convinced that her lifetime of struggling with organizing her time, space, paper and possession stems from having ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).  Her light bulb moment has brought her a sense of clarity and understanding, as well as a renewed sense of hope that she can overcome these obstacles with the proper coping mechanisms and systems in place.  Furthermore, she is planning to write a book to share her story so that others can benefit from her knowledge and experiences with ADD and disorganization.

Indeed, that is what I have gained from this relationship.  While many outsiders may only see the benefit Tracy has received from being the guinea pig that I practiced on early on in my organizing career, I have truly benefited too.  I have been able to follow her struggles, research, revelation, and education process, while honing my skills and developing my unique approach to organizing systems.  This organizer-client relationship with a close friend proves that you can mix business with pleasure and not only have the friendship survive despite the business relationship, but improve the friendship and business because of it.

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 .

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:
      1. Purge (damaged clothes)
      2. Donate (clothes that do not fit, you do not like, or that are out of style, but can be worn by those in need)
      3. Keep (clothes that fit, that you love and wear often)
      4. 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 15th. However, many people take an extension, which means they will be filing this summer. 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 http://tinyurl.com/punhg9.
  • 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.

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 .

My clients have been telling me they need a little kick in the butt to help move along their 2012 personal and professional projects and goals.

So… I’m overhauling my product line by retiring some of my programs and creating new ones based on your feedback… and bundling others into larger packages!

But, before the big launch of the new bundles, I am having a blow out sale of all my stand-alone products to give you the opportunity to purchase any of them at the stand-alone price.

Just use coupon code BLOWOUT and you will get a whooping 25% off! If you have been meaning to order something, now is the time!

See my products here.

Don’t delay as this coupon is only good through 3/15/12.

*The Ultimate Life Organizer is not included in this promotion.

Unfortunately, summer will soon be coming to an end. I know, don’t rush it! Enjoy the last days of summer. Perhaps you have a vacation planned, or want to just stay at home and relax. But fall will be here before you know it. So, take some time now to plan your back to work strategy for fall now. Hopefully, the following tips will help get you started.

  • Get Through That Dreaded Email Inbox. I know that many of you still have tons of emails sitting in your inbox. Summer does not mean a hiatus on email. So take the time now to get through that inbox. Delete like crazy, move important or active emails into folders, and reply to those that you have left for far too long.
  • Sort Through Your Paper Inbox. You probably have a pile of paper on your desk that you call your “inbox.” Sort through it now so you can start the fall season seeing the bottom of it! If you don’t have an effective paper management system, get some stacking paper trays and label them with categories of paper that make sense to you. For example, Inbox/Unprocessed Paper, Action, File, Shred, Scan, Read. Use a desktop label maker or a portable one. I personally like the label makers by Dymo for the way they marry technology, design and functionality.
  • Sort Through Your Files. Go through your files quickly and efficiently, pulling out anything that is obsolete, can be scanned for future reference, belongs to someone else, etc. The less paper you have in your filing system, the more likely you are to file the new stuff coming in! So get to it.
  • Create Templates and Systems. On a going forward basis, create templates, systems, work flow charts and samples that will help streamline your office and work life. The more work you do up front to delegate to yourself (or better yet, to someone else), the more you will be able to reap the rewards of these systems long term, especially in the fall when everyone is so busy.

Follow through on these tips and you will be well on your way to a productive autumn season! Meanwhile, if you have a great office (home or work) productivity tip, email it to info@getbuttonedup.com or share it on their Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/GetButtonedUp for the chance to win a free Dymo label maker. The winner will be chosen randomly.

Full disclosure: This is sponsored content and I have been compensated to do this post. That being said, I do not blog about anything I do not believe in and Dymo did not edit this post or direct the content in any way.

“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.” ~ George Gershwin

Ah… nothing like summer. And I know you want to make lemonade, jump in the pool, go for long walks, and read some good novels. I plan to join you.

But not so fast. Summertime is also a perfect time to organize your office. Yes, I am serious! Many people experience slow times at work or in their business in the summer. Put that down time to good use. Here are some quick and easy organizing tips to organize your office this summer:

  • The Dreaded Inbox – Go through that dreaded, piled-high-with-paper-inbox once and for all. Yes, until you see the bottom of it. Sort papers into categories of Action, To Scan, To File, To Shred, Recycle, and Belongs to Someone Else. Then take action on each category as the summer progresses, so come fall, you will have dealt with all of the inbox backlog. Make sure to keep up with the incoming paper so the inbox doesn’t get piled high again this summer!
  • The Overstuffed Files – Go through all of your files quickly and efficiently to pull any papers out that are no longer necessary to keep, can be scanned instead or can be given to someone else to act on. This will make room for any papers that need to be filed from the inbox.
  • The Backlog of Phone Calls – Return all of those phone calls you have been meaning to return. Everyone will be much more relaxed over the summer anyway, and perhaps not too busy to take your call.
  • The Overstuffed Calendar – Take a look at your calendar for the coming weeks, months and rest of the year. Answer any invitations that you did not get to, plan ahead for any major events coming up, and say no to a few obligations that you now realize you jumped at too hastily.
  • Label Like You Mean It – Take the time to finally label all of your files once and for all. I highly recommend you use a label maker to label these files so they look clean and crisp, and are easy to read. The more professional your filing system looks, the more likely you are to use it! Check out some of the fantastic label makers and printers by Dymo so that you produce professional looking labels every time.

Full disclosure: This is sponsored content and I have been compensated to do this post. That being said, I do not blog about anything I do not believe in and Dymo did not edit this post or direct the content in any way.

I was recently asked by Buttoned Up to review The DYMO® LabelWriter® 450 Duo. I have reviewed several Dymo label makers now, and put them to the “professional organizer” test. The 450 will be the only one on my desktop going forward, which says a lot as my desktop is precious real estate and is not cluttered up by unnecessary gadgets. So to win a coveted spot on my desktop is a big deal!

I will start by sharing what I love most about the 450 Duo – its compact size. In organizing, we teach our clients that in most cases, going vertical is a smart space-saving idea as it uses less horizontal space in a room or on a desktop surface. Dymo seems to understand this, and created a compact product that still performs on a high level. The “Duo” stands for the fact that it prints labels and postage. It does so by having the postage print out on the top of the device from a horizontal opening, and the labels print out underneath from a vertical opening. Trust me, this is a brilliant design because it keeps the 450 Duo small enough to politely sit on your desk and spit out labels and postage when you need them, without taking up tons of space!

So, what can it do exactly? Print impressive address labels, shipping labels, file folder labels, name badges and more, at speeds up to 71 labels per minute. You use the included DYMO Stamps® software to print precise USPS-approved postage directly from your desktop – without fees, contracts or monthly commitments. I am so excited to start using it to ship out my books as the orders come in — it will save me from many trips to the post office! It also prints permanent DYMO D1 plastic labels in a variety of sizes and colors – perfect for when you need durable labels for your office or workplace. Like all LabelWriter printers, the LabelWriter Duo printer never needs ink or toner, and includes software you can use to print labels directly from text in popular software programs, verify US addresses and ZIP+4 codes, and much more.

But did I mention that my favorite feature hands-down is the 450’s compact, lightweight design (yes, I know I am repeating myself, but this is really a plus in my book!). I like my gadgets streamlined, attractive and compact, and the 450 delivers! It is perfect for any office or workspace. It can be left out on display on your desktop for you to use it when needed. And when not in use, it won’t take up much space and will be a sleek and stylish addition to your office. The Dymo LabelWriter 450 Duo will appeal to a busy professional that not only wants to stay organized, but look organized too!

Love this labeler so much that you want one for yourself? You can win one! ButttonedUp is running a contest for a free labeler. To enter, either email your best labeling tip to   with the subject line: Dymo, or visit their Facebook page and post a tip on their wall www.facebook.com/getbuttonedup. The winner will be chosen randomly.

Full disclosure: This is sponsored content and I have been paid to do this post. That being said, I do not blog about anything I do not believe in and Dymo did not edit this post or direct the content in any way.

So, if you played your cards right, you filed your taxes on time this year. If so, good for you! But was it an organized and painless process? Or were you scrambling through files, drawers, shoe boxes and your briefcase or tote bag to find the papers to document and back-up those deductions? There is a better way!

Most tax advice centers around how to make the most of your deductions and ignores the problem that sabotages a large number of people each year: finding the proof to support those deductions. Most people hate the dreaded task of keeping track of receipts and other documents throughout the year. Yet, that is exactly what will decrease the stress come tax time and increase your chances of getting more deductions!

The best time to prepare for tax season is right after you file your taxes. Why? Because you are in “tax” mode. You just filed and, therefore, have a copy of your tax return handy. Or you still have the  Turbo Tax software loaded onto your computer.

You need to create a system for filing all of the tax-related paperwork throughout the year. Take a look at the list of deductions you took, as well as the ones you did not qualify for. Start a hanging file folder labeled Current Year Taxes, using the plastic file tab as the main category. Now, create several cut folders to place within the hanging file folder. These should be labeled to match the general tax deductions you take.

For example, you can create a cut folder named Income. You would keep your pay stubs, W2, 1099s, and dividend distribution statements, gain an loss statements and annual statements from financial institutions in that file. You may also have a file labeled Charitable Contributions where you keep evidence of donations made. If you qualify for a medical expenses deduction, then keep a file for all of that paperwork. If you own a business, keep a file for Business Expenses Deductions. You get the point!

I highly recommend you use a label maker to label these files so they look clean and crisp, and are easy to read. The more professional your filing system looks, the more likely you are to use it! I use the Dymo LabelManager 260 because it is light weight, easy-to-use and produces professional looking labels every time!

Even if you pay your bills online and are a very active electronic user with regard to your financial life, you will still get certain papers in hard copy form that have to be maintained in order to fully support a tax deduction. Take the time to set up a Tax Center in your home and drop papers in their categories throughout the year. Come tax time next year, you (and your accountant if you use one) will be in a much better position to get those taxes done with the least amount of stress while maximizing your financial savings!

Full disclosure: This is sponsored content and I have been compensated to do this post. That being said, I do not blog about anything I do not believe in and Dymo did not edit this post or direct the content in any way.