Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Lelah with an h is growing!

**This post was originally published in my monthly e-newsletter, Lelah's News. Don't subscribe? Sign up here!

I have some exciting news: my husband and I are expecting our first child, a boy, in April. We're thrilled to be expanding our family, and I wanted to finally share the news with my amazing clients and supporters.

Impending parenthood has a way of putting thing in perspective, and it has tuned me in to physical and temporal limitations that I've never had to consider before. Therefore, I'll be transitioning away from hands-on organizing work at the end of March, for a while, at least. This means right now is a great time to put into action all your plans to get organized! After April, I will be growing my business in other ways. I plan to maintain my blog, newsletter and social media profiles, and I have wonderful, talented professional organizer colleagues to whom I will be referring new clients when I am no longer able to take them on. I'm always learning about new organizing methods, trends and theories, and will continue my education in this amazing field. Also, I'm hoping to expand the speaking area of my business, so I can share my knowledge with a greater audience.

Thanks for your support as I navigate these changes to my life and business!

Creative Commons photo posted to Flickr by Carly Franklin

Friday, January 27, 2012

Software updates

How often do you download and install software updates on your computer? Most operating systems make it easy as clicking a button to set this process in motion, and they will remind you when critical updates are needed. Some software has to be manually updated. But if you are using a computer, you need to do the software updates. Don't think of it as optional. This is mandatory maintenance.

I find people are resistant to updating for one or more of a few reasons: they think it will take too long, they don't think it's necessary for their programs to run, or they are afraid that updating will do some harm to their program or their computer. In general, software updates are essential for keeping a machine running efficiently, and any time spent downloading and installing updates (which can usually be done in the background while you work on other things) is minuscule compared to the time you may spend if you find yourself losing speed and functionality by using outdated software.

So get in the habit if clicking Yes! when asked if you would like to perform software updates now. Update early, and update often.

Call Lelah at 818.269.6671
or email lelah@lelahwithanh.com

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

In my reading pile

As you know, I'm a couple of book clubs. Here are the books I've got on deck:

Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi - I'm looking forward to reading this popular tome about networking.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum - I've never read this, and it's free for the Kindle and iBook apps.
Moneyball by Michael Lewis - We'll be reading the book and comparing it to the recent movie. I really like Michael Lewis's writing style, so I'm looking forward to this. I've also heard that it's a great book about management, so it kind of crosses over between my two book clubs.

Call Lelah at 818.269.6671
or email lelah@lelahwithanh.com

Monday, January 23, 2012

Lelah's News

I share news, organizing specials and short essays about organizing on my monthly enewsletter, Lelah's News. If you don't already receive it, sign up here.

The next issue will be out this week, and will contain a very special announcement!

Call Lelah at 818.269.6671
or email lelah@lelahwithanh.com

Friday, January 20, 2012

Paperless tips

Here are a few paperless tips in preparation for my paperless organizing workshop, Take the Paperless Plunge, which I'm teaching Saturday, February 4, in Sherman Oaks, CA, through the Professional Organizer's Learning Academy of NAPO-LA.

  • Don't have time to enter a business card into your contacts, but don't want to keep the card around until you do? Take a snapshot of it with your digital camera or the camera on your mobile device and save it to Evernote, or extract the data later at your convenience.
  • Getting too many catalogs in the mail? Catalog Choice is a free service that can help you easily unsubscribe from catalogs.
  • Paperless doesn't have to mean high-tech. Stop printing things. It will make a huge difference. 
Call Lelah at 818.269.6671
or email lelah@lelahwithanh.com

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Refill Shoppe

There's a neat store in Ventura, CA, called The Refill Shoppe where they sell reusable items from grocery bags to water bottles and consumables like dish washing soap and shampoo in bulk containers that you fill up your small, reusable bottle from. The idea is that we don't need disposable packaging if there's a place to get refills of your favorite consumable items. I was fascinated by the fact that they sell actual handkerchiefs, especially as my household goes through at least a box of tissues a week.

I love the idea of reducing waste on the front end instead of just recycling all the plastic and glass bottles we get every day to hold single-use items.

Next time you are in the area, check them out. 1068 E Main St. Ventura, CA 93001 - Open Monday through Saturday 10am - 6pm. On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/therefillshoppe

Call Lelah at 818.269.6671
or email lelah@lelahwithanh.com

Monday, January 16, 2012

The importance of an alarm clock

One of the last things I always ask my husband before we fall asleep is, "Is your alarm set?" It's probably an unnecessary question...after years of my asking it only a handful of times has he said no, and gotten up to set it. But I like to think that those few times saved him from starting off the next day poorly. While alarms might be unpleasant for some of us to wake up to, the consequences of not getting up on time are usually much worse.

I'm not a fan of the sleep function on alarm clocks. I think alarm clocks are most effective when they are set for the time that you must get up, or perhaps ten minutes earlier, so you can at least lie in bed for a minute and collect your thoughts if you like. If you tend to fall asleep again immediately after shutting your alarm off, placing it out of arm's reach so you have to get up in order to turn it off really does work.

I'm also not a fan of using one's cellphone as an alarm clock. This works for a lot of people, but it means that psychically we're dependent on our phones, even as we sleep, and that doesn't seem healthy. Personally, I like an alarm that wakes me up by gradually increasing the volume of preselected music...it's gentle and effective. I consider myself a morning person and when I'm in a routine, I often don't even need to have an alarm set in order to wake up at a predetermined time. But I set one anyway.

Creative Commons photo posted to Flickr by Alan Cleaver.

Call Lelah at 818.269.6671
or email lelah@lelahwithanh.com

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tax season special!

Tax returns are due on April 17, 2012. To celebrate the unique organizational opportunity that filing one's taxes creates for us every winter, I'm offering a special organizing rate to help you get ready to file on time.

Lelah's 4 Hour Paperwork Prep Special: $239

I can help you sort your paperwork, find your receipts and assemble the documents you need to file your taxes. This will make you and your accountant extremely happy, and save you time and money. Invest in your sanity. I can help you get this done!

Details: One 4-hour office organizing session with an emphasis on getting your tax documents together is normally $300. From now until March 1, this rate will be only $239! Applicable to new and returning clients in Glendale, Pasadena and surrounding areas. Applies to one 4-hour session. Additional sessions may be needed and regular rates may apply. I am not a tax professional, but I can get you organized before you see yours!

Call or email today for more information and to schedule your session. Don't wait until the last minute. Get this off your mind today!

www.lelahwithanh.com    818.269.6671    lelah@lelahwithanh.com

Creative Commons photo posted to Flickr by Ken Teegarden: www.seniorliving.org

Monday, January 9, 2012

Baking tips

I'm an avid baker and over the years I've developed some strategies that help me keep the guesswork out of baking and increase my enjoyment of it. Not surprisingly, these strategies keep me organized as I bake, so I feel in control and get better results from my recipes!

Here are a few tips from my kitchen, and a recipe that I love.
  • I always get out all of the ingredients I will need at once before I start anything, that way I can see if I'm missing anything.
  • Then, as I finish using an ingredient, I put the rest of the item away. This might seem like an extra step, but it helps me see if there is anything left on the counter when I think I am done, so I can tell if I've accidentally left an ingredient out.
  • Using the correct temperature butter, eggs and other dairy products usually does affect the outcome of a recipe. I always try to plan ahead and pull those items out of the fridge early if they need to be warm, or leave them in fridge until the last minute if they need to be cold. If I forget, and need room temperature butter but have only just take it out of the fridge, then the microwave is a good alternative. Run eggs under water until they warm up a bit if you need room temp ones.
  • Really know your oven. Oven temperatures can vary widely, and I never take the recommended baking times in recipes at face value, but compensate in accordance with how I think my oven will behave.
a recipe handed down from my mom

2 cups finely ground oatmeal (About 3 cups whole oatmeal. I use a food processor.)
1 cup unbleached white flour or whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unsalted butter, very soft or mostly melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup boiling water

In a mixer or by hand mix butter and brown sugar until blended. Add dry ingredients and mix, adding the boiling water at the end to bind it all together. You should have a stiff dough. Shape dough into a log and slice into inch strips. Place strips two inches apart on a cookie sheet and bake for about 12 minutes at 400 degrees F until lightly browned. Let dry on a rack for a couple of hours. These should be crunchy on the on the outside, chewy inside. 

You really can't go wrong with this recipe - it doesn't matter what size the strips are...it always turns out!

Creative Commons photo of oatmeal posted to Flickr by S. Diddy

Call Lelah at 818.269.6671
or email lelah@lelahwithanh.com

Friday, January 6, 2012

What's so great about Evernote?

I just did a search of this blog and realized that I've never blogged about Evernote, except for this brief mention. That changes today.

I'm going to quote from their website in order to set the stage, then just outline why I think Evernote is an indespensible tool.
Our goal at Evernote is to give everyone the ability to easily capture any moment, idea, inspiration, or experience whenever they want using whichever device or platform they find most convenient, and then to make all of that information easy to find. 
I use Evernote on my desktop computer and my mobile tablet. I capture recipes, articles, craft ideas, photos, lists, gift ideas, maps, products, things I find funny and things I find inspiring. I capture anything I think I might want to remember or access when I'm out and about, like the name of that wine I got one time that I really liked or a list of the kinds of pears my husband likes and the kinds he doesn't like.

I now use it for all of my to-do lists and lists in general, instead of Stickies, because Evernote syncs seamlessly, instantly and without having to do anything between my desktop and mobile device. I keep it open all the time and use it daily and have never gone over my free monthly quota, but I'm thinking of upgrading to a Pro account just because I like it so much ($5/month).

I rarely use the tags feature because their search function works so well; it always finds what I am looking for even if I have the merest of keywords to go on. I can scan anything directly from my ScanSnap S1500 to Evernote without having to go through middleman software or save screens.

I will be honest--it took me a couple of years to really start using Evernote consistently. Before I'd use a combination of saving PDFS, scans, Delicious bookmarks, etc. But when I did, it was like a door opened to more productivity-and I was pretty productive before!

Anyway, that's enough gushing for now. Let me know if you have specific questions about how to make Evernote work for you!

Creative Commons photo of pears posted to Flickr by Emilian Robert Vicol

Call Lelah at 818.269.6671
or email lelah@lelahwithanh.com

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Take the Paperless Plunge

Registration is now open for my 3-hour workshop Take the Paperless Plunge! The Professional Organizer's Learning Academy is hosting the event through the National Association of Professional Organizers Los Angeles chapter. I'm so excited to have this opportunity to share my knowledge about paperless organization. The workshop is geared toward professional organizers and how they can use paperless organizing techniques to streamline their own business and also how to cultivate their paperless organizing skills in order to be able to offer paperless organizing to their clients. Though professional organizers are the target audience, the workshop is open to the public.

This workshop is being offered in conjunction with Dolores Kaytes's amazing filing workshop which I have personally taken twice and think is a must-attend for any organizer. Attendees may register for one or both workshops.

In addition to the fabulous content, as an added incentive to register, all attendees of my workshop will be entered into a drawing to win one of several amazing prizes including a ScanSnap scanner!

WHEN: Saturday, February 4, 2012
WHERE: Leeza’s Place, 5000 Van Nuys Blvd., Suite #110, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
PARKING: Parking is free.  Garage entrance is on Addison St.
Early Bird Fee: $79 (per session) for NAPO-LA Members
$99 (per session) for Non-NAPO-LA Members
Note:  Add $15 to any registration fee received after January 25, 2012

Registration is available on the NAPO-LA website.

For more details, call or email me at 818-269-6671/lelah@lelahwithanh.com

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year's To Do List

Over the last couple of years I've stopped making New Year's Resolutions and have focused more on creating a detailed to do list of things that I want to accomplish over the course of the year. My resolutions used to be pretty specific when I did make them, so it helps me to just call a spade a spade and list them as things to accomplish. Since I enjoy working from a to do list, this works for me. It also allows me to make a master list of everything in my head, from buying new mugs to taking a trip to San Francisco to doing yoga or pilates five times a week, without worrying about whether the item in question is resolution-worthy.

A bit of my board.
For more of a spiritual approach to the year ahead, I've also made a vision board. Last year I blogged about vision boards and how they can help attract new energy into our lives. This year's board is full of bright colors and is hanging on the wall just to the left behind my computer, where I can look at it every day.

How do you celebrate the clean slate the new year brings?

Get help creating or getting through your own to do list.

Call Lelah at 818.269.6671
or email lelah@lelahwithanh.com