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.

Millions of Americans vow to be better organized every year. But did you know that being more organized can save you money? Yes indeed! Here’s how.

  • Organized finances – If your financial papers and systems are organized, you can easily assess your budget, track your spending and see where to cut corners if need be. It will be easier to access all the details of your accounts and finances. Knowledge is power and when your financial life is accessible and trackable, it usually results in more savings. An added bonus — you won’t have as many missed tax deductions due to your improved financial record keeping systems.
  • Effective bill paying system – Just imagine — no late fees or overdraft fees, your credit score goes up, and your interest rates go down. Sound like a dream? It is a reality for those that have an effective, and on-time bill paying system. By keeping track of your bills, and paying them on time, you can save a significant amount of money as finance charges and late fees can range from $1 to more than $35 per month. Setting up online bill paying and automatic bank account deductions can make financial organization painless, save you, money and protect your credit rating.
  • Donations = tax deductions – When clearing out your space, you may sometimes uncover items that you no longer need and cannot return to the store but are valuable to someone else. Charities need your excess stuff and you get a tax deduction.
  • Unwanted clutter for sale – You can sell your unwanted items (online, locally or through consignment) and cash in! Online services such as eBay and Craigslist are two ways to sell your items for fast cash. Consignment stores are another way to sell perfectly good clothing if you choose not to donate your items. Selling your items this way is usually quicker (and far easier) and results in more money than taking the time to have a garage sale.
  • No more duplicates – Many disorganized people buy duplicates or items in bulk that become obsolete due to expiration, failure to store properly, etc. Replacing items that have been “lost” or buried under the clutter is a big money waster because when the item has to be purchased again you are spending money you didn’t need to. By clearing clutter it allows you to see what you have and you don’t need to over buy.
  • Organized meal planning and shopping – By knowing what is in the refrigerator and cupboards of your kitchen, you won’t be over-buying and having food going to waste. Also, making a shopping list and planning out your menus in advance helps. An added bonus is that eating at home more frequently is less expensive than eating out.
  • Home and car maintenance – Keep on top of home repairs and car maintenance. If you take better care of the things you own, they will break down less frequently. Some examples include servicing your heating and air conditioning systems at home, changing the oil in your car, etc.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute – Another reason to be organized is to avoid paying a premium for things at the last minute because you are up against a deadline. Some ways to avoid late fees is to record due dates in a daily planner, sign up for email at the library to receive notices of overdue books before they incur a fine, buy gifts in advance, and book travel plans early. Also, you can save money by using your coupons, store credits, and gift cards before they expire, and sending in rebates on time.

The above tips are just a few ways that being organized can save you money. And who wouldn’t want to put some more money in his or her pocket in this “new economy”? So get organized, and reap the benefits financially.

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.

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 Lisa@LMOrganizingSolutions.com.

For most people these days, keeping up with the daily onslaught of email is a major challenge. In fact, experts estimate that e-mail has added an extra 1.23 hours to the average person’s workday (E-Writing: 21st Century Tools for Effective Communication by Diana Booher; Managing Your E-Mailby Christina Cavanagh). If you multiply 1.23 hours by 5 days for 52 weeks, the average person is spending 320 hours per year of extra time handling e-mail. Wow! That is a lot of time spent on email. And experts estimate that the time lost to email has caused workers to shave time elsewhere, causing a productivity crunch.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the average U.S. worker spends up to four hours a day sending and receiving e-mail. Of that four hours, it is estimated that one hour each day is spent on the 36 percent of e-mail messages that are either irrelevant, or relevant but do not require a response.

So how do your survive the daily email attack? The following tips will help you manage the flow of email:

  • Turn off e-mail alarms and prompts through your e-mail preferences tool. Many people have alarms and prompts set to go off every few minutes upon the arrival of e-mail in their inbox. These continual interruptions make people respond like Pavlov’s dogs every time they hear the “you’ve got mail” chime. Turning off the chime will keep you from interrupting what you were doing to read e-mail in the midst of other projects.
  • Plan for the reading and response of e-mail in your daily schedule. Create a proactive method of managing e-mail by setting up time in your day dedicated to e-mail. Do not check e-mail the first thing in the morning, or you risk becoming reactive. Instead, spend the first hour working on the most important project or planning your day out.
  • Estimate the amount of time you are spending on e-mail now, and cut that time in half. Deadlines usually make most people more efficient. You may want to spend half of your allocated email time in the morning, and the other half after lunch or before you finish working for the day. The time constraint forces you to prioritize. The e-mails that do not get answered are probably not that important and, thus, deleted, or archived in file folders for future use.
  • Create e-mail folders, and direct the flow of e-mail. Create folders in your e-mail system that mirror your paper filing system to reinforce storage and retrieval of important information. In addition, create the folders to reflects your active projects and change your e-mail settings to direct e-mail that contains project-related language to those folders within your inbox. Added bonus: many e-mail systems impose limits on inbox size, but not in a folder.
  • Use computer storage folders. For e-mails that need to be kept for a longer period of time, create an electronic filing cabinet, with electronic folders for category names that match the physical files. Use Word or any system your company utilizes and backs up often.
  • Save the most recent only. Delete the earlier string of emails and just keep the most current one to avoid saving redundant emails.
  • Just save the attachment. If e-mail has an attachment and that is all you need, only save the attachment.
  • Control the flow of the e-mail exchange. People often feel they must respond to email instantly. Take time to consider your response and slow the flow of email when an immediate response if unnecessary.
  • Refrain from sending irrelevant e-mail. Be careful not to send e-mail just because it’s quick and convenient. The same rules apply to e-mail as regular correspondence – if it doesn’t have to be said, don’t say it.
  • Create templates. If you frequently send the same types of emails, create templates that you can use over and over (changing only the specifics each time).
  • Create an e-mail ritual. Every Friday before you leave the office, be ruthless about deleting e-mails no longer needed, saving those you need for a week or longer to personal folders, saving those you need longer to Word, and reviewing those in the personal folders to delete any no longer necessary. Make this a weekly habit and your e-mail will be a lot more manageable. You can also do the same thing at the end of every day if you so choose.

Many people are familiar with the above tips, but few actually implement them, leaving them to be reactive instead of proactive. Organizing your e-mail, like any other organizing behavior, allows you to be more productive and better utilize your time and energy. So stop the madness, and do what it takes to take control of your email. Remember, e-mail is supposed to be an electronic communications tool to assist you, not drive you crazy.

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.

Overwhelmed just thinking about the upcoming holiday season? Relax. If you take a little time to plan your holiday season, it will be more enjoyable for you and your family! Focus on practicing good organizational techniques and time management principles. Here are some tips to make the holidays enjoyable and the new year start off in a positive manner.

Setting Your Goals for the Holiday Season

  • We are pulled in so many different directions during the holidays: travel, family gatherings, parties and social events, shopping, baking, decorating, etc. As yourself: What do I want? This question is an invaluable guide for the holiday season. Think about what you want to do, as opposed to what you think others expect of you. Decide on your goals for the holiday season. Do you want to spend quality time with family? Do you want to try your hand at hosting or baking? Or, do you want to relax and enjoy quiet time? Achieving your goals and creating a meaningful holiday season requires that you have smart plans in place, especially if you want to enjoy the season without overindulging or stressing out.
  • It is difficult to keep all of the mental clutter associated with the holidays in our head! Keep a ‘holiday central’ notebook or create a memo in your handheld device. List items you want to do (notice I didn’t say need to do!), gifts to be purchased, people to send cards to, etc. Create a holiday budget so you know what you want to spend and stick to it.

Dealing with Holiday Schedule Overload

  • All the things you want to do over the holiday season can bring pressure if you don’t bring your wants and needs into alignment and into a manageable schedule. Holiday joy comes from balance and choosing the activities that are fulfilling for you. Avoid taking on too much at this time of year. If you’re feeling too pressured, look for activities that you can reschedule until after the holidays, delegate, or say no to. Recognize that you can’t do everything, especially if you want to enjoy your holiday season! Ask yourself: What is the worst thing that will happen if I don’t do this?
  • Identify and avoid triggers. If going to certain events or seeing certain family or friends stresses you out and always ruins your holiday experience, avoid that activity. If you must attend, shorten your visit. If you are watching what you eat, plan ahead by eating a small healthy meal at home, so you won’t be as hungry at the event. Or plan out what you will eat at the event, allowing yourself a few treats that you only get to have once per year and stick to your plan.
  • If you regularly exercise, don’t stop over the holidays! Carve out time for exercise, even if it is not as much time as you usually do. The holidays are stressful enough – don’t miss out on a great form of natural stress relief!

Holiday Decorations

  • Pull out those holiday decorations (yes, all of them!). Take stock of what you will definitely use, and donate the rest in time for a family in need to use the decorations this season. Those decorations that are really just sentimental, but will never be used, should be stored in your Memory Box, not with holiday decorations.
  • Do you need to go all out with decorating this year? Maybe you want to scale back? Ask yourself if you still want to decorate as much as you used to, or are doing it out of habit or others’ expectations of you. If so, then give yourself permission to keep it simple!

Holiday Cards

  • Buy your stamps in bulk or online at www.usps.com. Check that you have current addresses for everyone on your holiday card list. If your contacts are stored on your computer, you can print labels.
  • Use a card sending service, such as www.SendOutCards.com.
  • Consider sending New Year’s or Valentine’s Day cards instead. It’s unique and can be an unexpected treat to the receiver!
  • Just don’t do it! Don’t send paper versions of holiday cards at all if you don’t want to. Use email and social media sites to send holiday wishes, or pick up the phone and call special people in your life.

Holiday Baking & Cooking

  • Prep your kitchen for holiday time. Purge any food items that your family is not eating (if they have not expired, donate to a nearby food pantry!) and make a shopping list of what you will need for holiday cooking and baking. Choose recipes in your favorite cookbooks or online, and start making lists of holiday menus you want to prepare.
  • Plan out your baking and cooking time on your calendar as an appointment so you take it seriously and stick to it. Otherwise, you will find yourself cooking and baking at 3 in the morning the night before the occasion!

Gift Giving & Receiving

  • When gift giving, keep in mind that more isn’t necessarily better — sometimes, it’s just more!
  • Considering regifting. Yes, I said it! Look at gifts you have received and have not used yet, or gifts you bought and stored throughout the year. Consider sharing some of these gifts with those on your list if the gift is a good match. Don’t feel guilty! It’s the thought that counts, not how you came by it.
  • Think outside the box. Try to give gifts that won’t just become clutter. Give perishables (make a favorite food item for a friend that always comments on your great cooking), gifts of experience (horseback riding for that niece that loves horses), gifts of time (baby sitting for the couple that never gets to go out alone), etc. Be creative! Consider only giving gifts to children on your list, or deciding to donate to charities in people’s names instead of buying presents. Just make sure to agree to do this with others on your list so you don’t offend anyone come gift exchange time!
  • Ask people to be specific with what they want and need, and you do the same when writing out your wish list.
  • Let go of whatever gifts you receive that will just become clutter in your life, and do so without guilt! If you can’t return it, donate it or give it to a friend that is likely to enjoy it.

The payoff to all of this planning? You won’t have post-holiday regret syndrome! You’ll be calmer and more available to enjoy the company of your family and friends, and you’ll start the new year feeling empowered.


Powerful smart phones, computers, tablets, websites, software, blogs and social media. There are so many technology tools and gadgets these days that it is hard to keep up! On the other end of the spectrum are people that are glued to their devices, addicted to their “Crackberry.” Indeed, for many people, technology has become the master. However, true technology was designed to be our servant. The following tools (some are “apps,” which is short for applications for those of you that have are not as familiar with smart phone lingo) will help you harness technology to boost your productivity. You may have heard of some, while others may be new “finds.” All of them are designed to assist you in being smarter, faster, and more productive, which is why technology was created in the first place.

Google Calendar – Need a calendar that can’t be lost, can be accessed from any device, and can be shared with others when you want to? GoogleCalendar to the rescue! Google Calendar is an Internet based calendar system that you can access from your desktop computer, laptop, smart phone or tablet — basically any device with Internet service. You can share events with family members and friends, making it perfect for families to use and even small businesses. And it is absolutely free! Your content is stored “in the cloud,” which means you can never lose it, a real bonus for those of you that sometimes misplace your smart phone or forget to charge it.

Hightail – (formerly YouSendIt) Ever want to send a friend or work colleague a file but it is too large to send via your regular email system? Try Hightail next time. Hightail is secure online sharing software that allows you to easily send large files and email attachments. It is free for the basic level, and if you need to send even larger files, you can upgrade to a paid version. I use Hightail often to email video files, slides shows, and other types of files that are larger than usual. It is quick and easy. All you need is the recipient’s email and, voila, away the file goes.

Dropbox – This tool is my favorite. Dropbox is a free service that let’s you store information from your computer, smart phone or tablet on the Internet, and then access it from anywhere you have service. You can also share it with others. Just upload files, videos or photos into your Dropbox account, and they are stored there until you need them. The basic level gives you 2GB for free. Any more than that, and you must buy a paid version. But 2GB is a lot of free online storage if you are only storing documents. If you need video a nd photo storage, you will be at a higher level. To me, the beauty of Dropbox is it’s portability. It is like having your files with you wherever you go!

Evernote – Need a place to jot down notes, ideas and lists that can be accessed from anywhere, and tagged and archived so that the information is easily retrievable? You will love Evernote. Evernote is a suite of software and services designed for note taking and archiving. It allows you to make notes and lists in a handy location (better than post-it notes scattered everywhere) using your computer, smart phone or tablet, and access them when you need them. Uses are endless — shopping lists, business ideas, snap a photo of something to remember it, clip webpages, class notes, recipes, travel itineraries, images of business cards, etc. Evernote has a bigger learning curve than the other tools list ed, but once mastered, it’s power is amazing.

Toodledo – Need a place to list all of your projects, tasks and to-do’s that is portable and allows you to access it from any device? Chuck the paper and check out Toodledo. It is an Internet based software that is a powerful task manager. You can organize tasks by category, place them into folders, track due dates and access the information from anywhere. If you need a calendar system also, Toodledo does have that option. You can tag tasks to easily search them later, add notes to them, and lots of other bells and whistles. Toodledo, like Evernote, allows you to dump your brain into an electronic format so that you don’t have to remember everything yourself!

Dragon – Dragon i s voice-to-text software that allows you to dictate to your smart phone, tablet or computer, and then converts the voice recording to text. Once in text format, you can email or text it to yourself, or anyone else for that matter. Uses for Dragon are endless — shopping lists, letters, quick emails, etc. It’s not only easy and fun to use, it’s also safer to speak into your phone than type when driving!

Coaching Challenge: Harness the power of technology! Choose at least one of the above tools and try it. Technology works best when you take the time to learn how to effectively use it and integrate it into your life. So be patient, take your time and discover what works best for you.


By Guest Blogger,  Nadine Nicholson


According to Wikipedia, this is “a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision.”

Ouch. That hurt.

Let me tell you a personal story.

Recently, my accountant emailed my year-end corporate taxes. I made a task to review the documents. Two weeks later I still hadn’t reviewed them. I delayed the task at least three times.

My company is incorporated and getting my taxes done on time is not a nice-to-have.

I allowed myself to get distracted by other “more interesting” tasks and went against the time system that usually works so well for me. There’s a big difference in delaying versus CHOOSING to do something in the future.

I delayed. Period.

One day I thought to myself, enough is enough. Just review the taxes, will you already! It took me maybe 30 minutes. Easy, easy, easy.

I spent way too much energy avoiding this task. I let it drive me, not the other way around.

The moment I stepped into the driver’s seat and took charge was the moment it became easy. Not only that, it also freed my energy to focus on other high-priority business items.

My mindset completely shifted.

Do you relate? I’m willing to bet you’ve experienced something similar.

Procrastination is like having guilt. Both are wasteful ways to spend energy.

So what can you do about it?

  1. The most important thing is to have buffer time set aside in your calendar to do your admin-type tasks. Check out my article to learn about a time system custom-made for entrepreneurs. Use your buffer time to get whatever you need done that will allow you to focus on your top performance days.
  2. Before shutting down your computer for the day, identify the top three mission critical things you must accomplish the next day. Try not to pick more than three. Don’t leave it for the next day. Do it before you walk away from your desk. It will take one minute.
  3. Design a morning practice ritual to warm yourself up in the morning. This could include yoga, meditation, walking, stretching, etc. Do the same thing every day, whether you are at home or on the road.
  4. Have a healthy breakfast within one hour of waking up. Your body’s energy requirements peak during the first hour you’re awake so make sure you give it good fuel. Control your physical energy throughout the day. Ensure you’re eating to get enough nutrition to provide energy for the next two to three hours. Don’t wait longer than three hours between meals. Your brain needs to be fed for you to think clearly and make good decisions.
  5. Use a tool like Microsoft Outlook tasks to manage your task list, assign due dates and estimate how much time they will take.
  6. Do your mission critical things when you have the most energy in the day. For most people it’s around 9 am or 10 am.
  7. Minimize your email while you’re working on your critical tasks so you’re not distracted each time someone sends you a note. Even better, shut your email off completely and choose two times each day to check it. If people really need you, they’ll find you or call your cell phone.

How do you stay focused on the key tasks in your business? Share a comment below.

Nadine Nicholson is a business consultant, coach, speaker, trainer and author for solopreneurs who survive… and thrive! Using her D.R.I.V.E. to Thrive Business Blueprint™, Nadine helps high-achieving solo business owners unleash and leverage leadership skills to drive business growth and honour personal priorities at the same time. She believes building a business is a spiritual journey of personal leadership and inner bravado. It’s about doing what you’re meant to do and not settling for anything less. Visit Nadine’s free resources at: http://nadinenicholson.com/free-stuff/.  

Lisa is thrilled to be one of the presenters for the Junior League of Orange County’s 3rd Annual Winter Development Workshop. She will be presenting “The Brand Called You” and “Stop Stepping Over the Elephant in the Room: 10 Ways to Boost Productivity.”

The Conference will be held in Goshen, NY from 9:30-2:00. Registration is open to the public. $20 in advance, $25 at the door. To register, visit their website at www.jlocny.com, Email jlocny@gmail.com, or call the League Line at (845)-344-8554.

After my preview call for the DECIDE to be Organized Group Coaching Program last week, many of you have sent in questions, which I appreciate. It made me realize that many of you may have the same questions… so here’s a look at a few common questions and the answers so that you can make an informed decision about joining the DECIDE program.

And while I am a person that likes to stick to deadlines, all of the questions coming in made me realize that some of you may need a bit more time to “decide”, so I am extending the early bird rate of $397 ($100 savings!) until Friday, February 17th. The program starts next week on February 21st. When you are ready (but before the rate goes up!), register here: http://bit.ly/decidetobeorganized

Is the DECIDE program delivered online or on the telephone? Please explain the format.
The program is delivered via teleclass, which means all you need is a telephone to participate. You’ll receive a special dial-in number and access code. Of course, if you want to be in front of your computer while we are on the live teleclass, you can do so. You receive the 58-page workbook when you register, and can choose to follow along on your computer, but you don’t have to.

What if I can’t make the live calls? Will that affect what I get out of the program?
Absolutely not! I’ve created this course to fit a variety of busy lifestyles. After each week’s class I’ll post the audios – so you can listen on the web, or download an .MP3 file – that way you can listen at the gym, during your commute, while runni ng errands or working around the house. If you still have questions about the material on the call you missed, just email me with any questions or comments. You can listen to the audios over and over if you wish. And you can come back to the program months or years later to refresh or deepen your learning.

What if I don’t know which organizing projects I want to work on?
Part of the process of the DECIDE group coaching program is learning to discover what your organizing goals are, which projects you want to work on, and what will bring you the most satisfaction if accomplished.

Does the DECIDE program deliver great value for the cost of the investment?
Yes! Do some research. You’ll find this is one of the most affordable programs (and the most comprehensive) of its kind. I have kept the cost down so that many people can access my services in an affordable manner and get the assistance they need. The cost of the program is a fraction of what it would cost to work with me one-on-one. Yet, you still get personalized access to me due to the small size of the group, and the chance to learn from other participants too!

I’ve tried to get organized in the past, but did not have much success — how is your approach different?
Hopefully the preview call I did on February 7th gave you a little window into my approach. Trust me, if you enjoyed that call, you’re going to LOVE the actual program as we dig a lot deeper!

But here’s the bottom line:

I can’t make you listen to the calls, or work on your organizing projects in between the calls. But I can tell you that the content I’ll be covering and materials provided are powerful! They allow you to dig deep and change your mind-set, tap into your unique organizing style, and allow change to happen. Plus, there is a healthy dose of practical tools and tips, so it is not all pi e-in-the-sky and you can implement immediately and get results.

I’ve also experienced first-hand the strides past participants of the program have made – some going from piles of clutter to organized systems; some letting go of old habits that have stood in the way of their living a more productive life; some getting better organized which leads to more time to focus on what truly matters; and some even changing their lives in drastic ways during or after the program, like changing careers!

Trust me, I understand that you’re a smart, busy person who wants deep, lasting changes. That’s why I’ve designed the program to provide the following support:

  1. Weekly Teleclasses – so you keep your momentum – great for auditory learners!
  2. Email access to me and the group – so you are not alone and can share your experience with others.
  3. A comprehensive 58-page workbook with interactive exercises to reinforce your learning – so the program is experiential – great for visual + experiential learners!
  4. Downloadable audios – so you can listen at your leisure, or review again and again to deepen your learning.
  5. Feedback to your questions – so you don’t get stuck, and can get personalized feedback.
  6. An MP3 recording of my most popular audio program “Record Retention 101: Organize Your Paperwork” – so you know what papers to keep and for how long — just in time for tax season! (This is the first time I am including this bonus because so many past DECIDE participants needed special help with paper.)
  7. Assignments and accountability – so you keep your momentum, and get the most possible from the program.
  8. Post-program laser coaching call – so you can check in with me after the program to ask any lingering questions and, hopefully, share your continued progress.

When are the classes being held?
The DECIDE program runs for 6 weeks, with 90 minute calls every Tuesday evening, 7:30 – 9:00 p.m. (Eastern), from February 21st to March 27th.

I have a busy life – I’m not sure if I can devote enough time to the program.
I completely understand! But here’s the beauty of the program: there’s absolutely no “right” way to do it.

If you can’t listen to all of the calls, or do all of the exercises, don’t fret! You have the audios and workbook to go back to for years to come.

Even if you only walk away with one amazing new insight (which is almost impossible, because I’ll be sharing a TON!) — that one insight can affect your overall behavior and results in a serious boost in productivity which can help you achieve results at home, in business, and in life. I promise.

I ‘m thinking of taking this program at a later date – when will you be teaching this again?
I usually offer this program in February and October. But this program isn’t on my calendar again for 2012. There are other programs that I need to make room for that are launching later this year (great stuff coming — keep on the lookout!). So there’s no guarantee that I’ll be repeating the DECIDE program in the near future. In fact, it may be the last time I offer it live…

What I do know is this: for what you’ll receive, and how this information can affect the rest of your future — it’s a total steal.

I want you to think about something that we cover in depth in the program: delayed decisions are what most likely caused you to get disorganized in the first place! Don’t let the decision of whether to join this program that has the potential to change your behavior, space, time, relationships and life be just one more “delayed decision”! That would be a s ad irony.

Now, if you know that this program is not for you, then, by all means do not feel compelled to join us.


If this program is calling you, then I have to gently nudge you and ask:

“Isn’t INDECISIVENESS what got you into this mess in the first place?”

Take action! It is time to decide to DECIDE. Register here: http://bit.ly/decidetobeorganized

I am a Professional Organizer looking for continuing education. Does this program qualify?
Yes! If you are a professional organizer and are looking for continuing education, the DECIDE group coaching is perfect for you too! You can take the program to learn a great new organizing process that you can use with your clients. I will issue a Certificate of Attendance at the end of the program that you can use to support 9 hours of continuing education credits. In the p ast, organizers have taken the program along with non-organizers as a way to further their organizing skills and add a new process to their repertoire. You can too!

What if I want to refer my clients, friends and colleagues to the DECIDE program and earn a referral fee?
I bet you have colleagues, clients, and friends that would like to find out how they can lead a more organized, productive, and peaceful life. I have an affiliate (referral) program where if someone purchases one of my products or programs that you referred them to, you automatically get 20% of the sale! It’s that easy… tell your friends, colleagues and clients and if they buy, you earn a commission. All you have to do is sign up to be an LMOS affiliate and you’re given a special link to pass on to your colleagues, clients and friends.

I hope this special Q&A session has helped you ” decide” to join me for the DECIDE to be Organized Group Coaching Program. (I don’t want you to have this program sitting around on your “to do” list all week!)

Have more questions? Ask away! Just reply to this email . . .

I can’t wait for the opportunity to start working with you.

PS: Remember, the early bird rate of $397 now ends at midnight on February 17th and then the price goes up to $497 – don’t miss out on that $100 savings! Register here: http://bit.ly/decidetobeorganized

Large companies in Corporate America usually conduct business retreats, known also as Corporate Retreats. Business retreats are often held towards the end of the year, and serve to assess performance for the past year, and set milestones for the coming year. The retreat creates a document that is used as a business blueprint, serving as a benchmark to measure against. Some companies will make this document public, such as in an Annual Report. Others will keep it as an internal document that acts as a powerful tool for business success.

However, what if your business is small, or you are self-employed? Does this mean you miss out on this transformative business activity just because you are not a “big gun”? No way! Large companies in Corporate America haven’t cornered the market on business retreats. If you are self employed or a small business, you can conduct your own business retreat. Here are some tips to guide you in the process so your business retreat is a success.

  • Choose topics to focus on. Most business retreats are comprehensive, covering marketing, financials, employees and contractors, clients, business growth, etc. Choose what topics your retreat will focus on, and how in depth your retreat will go into each topic. Having an overall plan or checklist of what the retreat will cover will help you plan and implement it with success
  • Gather all of the necessary data. Usually, a business retreat will involve a certain level of assessment, and “looking back”. Therefore, it is important to have all of the business data needed at your fingertips. This includes return on investment statistics for marketing and advertising, financials, client lists, etc. Knowing the numbers and stats of your business will prove vital as you assess and measure performance and create new milestones and benchmarks going forward.
  • Get all of the players involved. If your business has any key players, make sure they are available in person, by phone, or bv email for your business retreat. This includes marketing reps, assistants, bookkeepers, accountants, etc. Making sure that all players are on speed dial or stand by will avoid a frustrating business retreat where you need information and can’t get it at that time.
  • Record and blueprint. Make sure to record performance measurements, trends, and any other stats that are necessary for business assessment and future planning. You can do this on a simple word processing document or spreadsheet, or even audio record the retreat to listen later or get it transcribed.
  • Choose realistic and success-driven goals. As you create the blueprint to use in your business for the future, make sure that your goals are realistic and success-driven. This means creating milestones and benchmarks that can be achieved and are not too pie-in-the-sky, while also stretching your business to reach higher and further. Think where you want the business to be at next year’s business retreat and what it will take to get it there. That will help you create the best plan of action.
  • Accountability is key. Create a system for accountability so that all of the work put in for the business retreat does not go to waste. Make sure to consider implementation. Who will implement the blueprint from the business retreat? How will it be implemented? Make sure to designate implementation time into the business calendar. Consider getting assistance from a business coach, joining a mastermind group, or partnering with a colleague to ensure that accountability is built into the business retreat blueprint.

With a little planning, an open mind, and a willingness to put in some hard work at assessing your business, a business retreat can be a huge success. So go ahead and act like the big guns – get that business retreat on the calendar and make it happen!