Tuesday, January 21, 2014

How to write a book...when you don't like to write

I have had an idea for a book that I've wanted to write for some time. The problem lies in the fact that I don't like to write. That puts me in a bit of a quandary. When I was in school as a kid, I wasn't one of those kids that could write pages and pages for their term papers easily. I was one of those kids that would gather my thoughts and write them down and it would be done in one page. I wasn't even a good bull s**t artist and able to write lots of words but still say nothing. But since this is something that I really want to do and since I am now a grown up, I have decided to forge ahead and write this book. I do have some notes and ideas for what I want to include in the book.

Luckily for me I do have some people that I can turn to for some guidance. However, it would be much easier to hire a ghost writer, but that is not in the budget. Not to mention I do want the sense of satisfaction when I finally finish it that I did it by myself. So here I am. Any time something pops into my head I jot it down for later. I also downloaded a voice recording app on my phone so should something brilliant come to me when I am driving I will be able to save it. I also take as many low cost or free workshops as I can so I can gain some knowledge for the task at hand.

So the other day I sat down to start the project. I got some thoughts down on paper ( yes, I am a prehistoric dinosaur and feel more comfortable actually with paper and pen)when I realized that I needed to do some research. So I am headed off to the library today to do some research and take out some books that will aid me in my process. Maybe I should take out a book on how to write a book. All kidding aside, I also am interested in interviewing organized and unorganized folks for this project. So feel free to contact me if you would like to be interviewed. I will not need to use your name in the final book. You could remain anonymous if you want.

Even though this is definitely not my strong point, I am actually very excited about this book. I look at it as a challenge for myself to see if I can actually do it. Wish me luck...here I go.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Organizing Baby

So you’re having a baby? Congratulations! In less than nine months you will be bringing home your little bundle of joy. However, as small as they may be, they come with a whole heap of stuff. From the crib to the stroller to the car seat to the swing, the play yard and walker, your little darling can quickly take over the house. Whether it is your first or your fifth, overwhelm can set in. So what do you do with all the stuff? Where do you put it? The first thing is to determine what you need immediately and what can be stored momentarily. Keep in mind that which is age appropriate for the child at the moment. You can always store the extras in a garage, a car port, a spare closet or even a corner in a room. Depending on your space the larger items are best kept in their boxes because they will be easier to store. It’s hard to stack a baby swing on top of a walker when it’s not in the box. In the bedroom, hanging shelves in the child’s closet is a great place to keep extra diapers and wipes and clothing and stuffed toys, etc. That keeps it close enough at hand to replenish when needed but not out in the open where it can look like clutter. As for the apparatus, try to use only one at a time. If you don’t have a lot of space, use either the play yard or the swing or the walker. You don’t have to use them all. Find what you and your child like best and use that piece. You can always switch them out as necessary. As for the toys the best thing is to try and keep them in one room. Once that is decided, keep one basket or trunk or drawer where you can house all of those things. Keep it contained and it won’t take over your space. The down side of children is the extended family. When they visit they always feel the need to bring a present (usually another toy or stuffed animal). Therefore, they end up with more and more toys. That doesn’t mean they need all of those toys. It is up to you to decide what they have. They will play with what they own and be very happy about it. Don’t fall into the trap of keeping things just because so and so gave it to you. In addition, as they grow out of their toys just know that it is okay to pass them along to someone else or to donate them. That makes room for their current toys and doesn’t overtake the space.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

To Deal or Not to Deal?

The internet has obviously changed the way we live, do business and even play. With the developments of the recent economy, there is always something new surfacing to help the consumer save money and to help businesses make money. Fast forward to sites like Groupon, Screaming Deals and Living Social to name a few.

When I first found out about these sites, not only did I sign up as a consumer, but I thought it would be a good way to generate new business. So I proceeded to send an application to Groupon and Living Social. Many, many months passed and I hadn't heard from either company. Finally, after about 6 or 9 months from when I submitted my paperwork to Living Social they contacted me. I was the first professional organizer in the LA area they were considering for one of their daily deals. I was thrilled that I was to be the first and thought that might be to my advantage. Then the negotiating started. I was in control of the area the deal would run and how long the coupon would be valid once purchased. The negotiating was on the pricing.

The way the deal works is that the discount must be at least a 50% savings to the consumer. After that there is a 50/50 split with Living Social. I wasn't thrilled with that part because I end of practically working for free but I figured there would be others benefits for me. We went back and forth before we came up with a deal that was acceptable for both of us. I weighed the pros and cons and in the end the pros won out. I realized that in addition to more clients, it was also free advertising and more people signed up for my newsletter.

When the deal finally ran I found myself watching the amount purchased all day long. As the number climbed up and up, I got more and more excited. I literally had to tear my self away from the computer. In the end the deal ran for 2 days and I sold a total of 116 deals. That meant 116 new clients. While I was obviously thrilled with he amount of new business coming my way, it was also a bit nerve racking knowing that I would now have to fit 116 new clients into my schedule. But then I realized that not everyone would be calling the same day to schedule their appointments and nor would I have to do all 116 in the same week or even the same month.

Thus far, I consider have sold that many a success. Once the expiration date has past then I will be able to determine if this was also a profitable idea. Of course, there will always be those that never use their coupon, there will be others that will end of purchasing more hours and there will be some that will only use the coupon. I guess only time will tell.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

How to Let go of “Stuff” when Grieving

At some point in our lives we will all experience the loss of a loved one. Robyn Reynolds of Organize2Harmonize knows firsthand that this is all too true. Along with dealing with the loss of the person also comes the realization that we are now responsible for the things they’ve left behind. Some may be treasured and some not so much. No matter if that person is a mother, father, sibling, spouse, family member or friend the “letting go” can at times be just as challenging. The closer the person is to us the harder it is for us to let go of things that belonged to them. Several different emotions come up when it is time to make decisions about the items. We may feel guilty letting their things go or we may feel as if we will forget them by letting their things go, or a variety of other emotions. Whatever the reason, while your feelings are justified, the truth is that the memories are always with us. We just have to come to the realization that the memories don’t live in the “things.” The memories are always in our hearts and always will be. The sooner we realize this, the easier the process becomes.

The “things” are just a representation of something. Something, that goes much deeper than we may even realize. When I work with a client on letting go, we do a lot of talking. We talk through the process of why they are holding on to the item/s. What does it mean to them? What does it represent? How does the item make them feel as well as the idea of letting it go? Why is/are the item/s so important? During this process it is normal for emotions to run high and it can get very overwhelming. Once we’ve had our talk we then start going through each item and discuss them. In addition to the previous questions we discuss if it has a purpose and is it really needed, not just wanted but actually needed. Does it have a purpose?

There are several reasons why we shouldn’t hold onto an excessive amount of things.
1. They can potentially create clutter and lots of it
2. They can be stressful for the person and at times for their family
3. They can be physically and emotionally unhealthy
4. This could be a sign of living in the past

When the excess gets to the point that it takes over your living space and creates unnecessary clutter, this is a sign that there is a need to let go. This can also sometimes have a profound effect on our health . In addition, there is the obvious emotional stress as well as the physical stress when it accumulates so much so that dirt and dust collect in excess. So the stress it puts on your health and your life is not good for you or your family.

Holding on to everything can also be a sign of living in the past and not wanting to move forward or not able to move forward. None of this is what your loved one would want. I can guarantee that your loved one does not want you to be stuck in the past and not moving forward. Being stuck in the past is not a way to live. In order to move forward you have to let go of the past.

There are several reasons to let go.
1. Your loved one would want you to
2. Your life is moving forward
3. To be stress-free

It is perfectly acceptable to want to keep something that belonged to your loved one. What is unhealthy on many levels is to keep everything and not want to let it go. The last thing anyone is asking is for you to forget your loved one. By releasing the items you allow more love and light to enter your life because it can now be received. There is now space for the love and light to come in. It is a process. It won’t always be easy but it will definitely be worth it.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Organizing Your Taxes

Taxes, taxes, taxes…Fun times are ahead. With the tax deadline rapidly approaching, some people are scrambling. Scrambling to find receipts and scrambling to organize them. Robyn Reynolds, owner of Organize2Harmonize, a professional organizational company suggests the following to make tax time a little more manageable. Even if your receipts and important papers are not organized, be mindful of the ones that you need instead of scrounging for everything.

The basic records that most people will need include, in addition to the previous year’s return:
• Income –W-2 forms, 1099 forms, bank statements, brokerage statements, K-1 forms
• Expenses – sales slips, invoices, receipts, cancelled checks, receipts from qualified charities
• Home – closing statements, purchase and sales invoices, proof of payment, insurance records, receipts for improvement costs
• Investments – brokerage statements, mutual statements, 1099 forms, 2439 forms

In order to make the process easier for yourself and the tax preparer, separate the papers into different categories. Use the list above as a guideline. Even if you haven’t yet gotten everything together it would be advantageous to make your appointment anyway. This gives you a deadline which will push you to work on it sooner rather than later and not have to wait until the last minute.

For others, the following information may be needed. Those specific records might include:
• Alimony – whether you pay or receive
• Business use of home
• Casualty and Theft Losses
• Child Care Credit
• Contributions
• Credit for the elderly or the disabled
• Education Expenses
• Exemptions
• Employee Business Expenses
• Energy Incentives
• Gambling Winnings and Losses
• Health Savings Account and Medical Savings Account
• Medical and Dental Expenses
• Mortgage Interest
• Moving Expenses
• Pension and Annuities
• Taxes
• Sales Tax on Vehicles
• Tips

For more information you can always check the IRS website.

Here are a few tips for keeping your papers organized for next year and the next and the next… For personal returns there are notebooks that you can purchase where you can keep track of your monthly expenses and pockets to put those bills in by the month. I find these books much easier to use than a file cabinet. Some even come with extra blank pockets where you can file donations, write-offs, receipts, etc.

For businesses, it is easy enough to keep any receipts that will be used as a write-off in a separate folder. While it may be accounted for in Quickbooks or whatever bookkeeping program you are using, you still need the hardcopy as a backup.

Instead of letting the receipts and paperwork pile up, either file them when you get them or pick one day a week to do the filing. Even 15 minutes a day will keep the paperwork manageable so that it doesn’t become overwhelming. Whichever works best for you is what you should choose. Even so some people procrastinate because the paperwork is so unorganized and so overwhelming they don’t know where to become. They may even need extensions because there is no organized method which ends up costing the client money. If that is true for you, you might need the assistance of a professional organizer. To find out more about the services offered by Organize2Harmonize you can visit the website at http://www.organize2harmonize.com.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Value of a Coach

As I am learning, there is more to starting a business than just helping clients. First you have to get the clients. For a lot of people that tends to be the most daunting part. For me, I know where I am today and where I want to be but I don't always know how to get there. That's where a coach comes in. I felt that it would be very helpful for me to have a coach to help me figure out how to get from point A to point Z. As a professional organizer it was important for me to have a coach that was also a P.O. because they would really understand the business and the challenges. I actually researched and interviewed several coaches before I decided on who I wanted to work with. I wanted to make sure as much as I could that the coach I chose would be a good fit for me and my business.

Once I made the decision I started the work. From the first session I could see that this is probably the single most valuable thing I could do for my business. Immediately she had me write down my goals. I gave her a list of both business and personal goals. She broke down everything for me so that I could get a clear picture of what I needed to do to reach those goals. Step by step she laid it out for me. I now know where exactly to put my energy day in and day out.

Everyone works differently and is at different stages in their business. Since I am still building my business, I felt it necessary to equip myself with as many tools as possible to reach my end result. This may not be for everyone. For me, I ask myself, why did I wait so long? Stay tuned for the successes.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Customer Service vs. Profitability

The concept of customer service vs. profitability is kind of like what came first the chicken or the egg. In order to be more profitable you have to have better customer service. But how do you have better customer service without customers? And of course, you need the customers to be profitable. So what exactly does this mean?

When someone starts a business do they actually think about the customer service aspect of the business? The customer service could actually make or break a business. I just wonder how much emphasis is put on this. When I decided to start my business, I thought about the basics of the business, how to do the job, how to market, etc. I don't think I really thought about customer service as far as the big picture is concerned.

When I worked with my business coach, Judi Glova of Pinnacle Coaching, she suggested I read Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles. I also attended a luncheon where Kay Wallace of Tools2Connect was speaking and she suggested the book Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos.com. Both of these books focus on customer service. I found both books to extremely valuable. The thing I realized is that customer service will set me apart from others in my field. But what does that look like? How should I do that? Even while reading I was internalizing and trying to think of what my company could do that would separate me from the pack.

After much self deliberation I realize that it is not just about how I treat my customers or clients. It is also about how I service them. What I give to them, how I meet and greet them, how I follow up with them. It is all these things and so much more. I have finally figured out what that service would look like now I just have to do it. In all honesty I have yet to put these things into practice. Everything takes time but I am in preparation mode. I am putting systems in motion and will soon enough be at the top of my game. That I know for sure. (That's not conceit, just confidence.)