Thursday, February 24, 2011

March 2011 Upcoming Events

SoCal business owners, professional organizers and anyone who wants to help themselves out of a destructive relationship with paper, here are some upcoming events you should be aware of.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011 5:30pm - 7:30pm
at Bokado in Studio City
Free! Biznik business mixer hosted by Lelah Baker-Rabe
Sign up for Biznik and RSVP at

Saturday, March 12, 2011 9am - 12pm
at my paperless office in Glendale
$75 The (Almost) Paperless Office Workshop
Registration form online at

Sign up for my newsletter (published 1-2 times a month) here.

Creative Commons photo posted to Flickr by Divya Thakur
Lelah Baker-Rabe is a Los Angeles-based professional organizer. To discuss your organizing needs, call her at 818.269.6671 or email

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day in the Life

Monday, February 21, 2011.

Though it was President's Day and a holiday for many, a self employed person can work on such days if it suits her, which it did me yesterday. I woke up at 6:45 and did my morning routine on the computer, checking email, updating Twitter and Facebook, catching up on the feeds in my Google Reader and reading some articles on the Los Angeles Times website. I also ate breakfast and prepared for the day's client.

At 7:45 I left the house and drove to meet my 8 am clients at their home in a nearby mountain community. In the car I caught Steve Inskeep's interview with Lisa Cholodenko, writer and director of The Kids Are All Right, a movie I really enjoyed. She was recommending movies and it was cool to hear her espouse the virtues of Ordinary People, Chinatown and Y Tu Mama Tambien, three movies I love, too. Then I arrived at my clients'.

It was our first session together, so I familiarized myself with their needs and spent a solid four hours sorting papers and getting a filing system set up. As I told my clients, I could do that all day long. I'm not sure they believed me, but it's true. My brain loves to categorize, sort and put away. However, the session was over at noon, so I returned home and fixed myself lunch while going through my email inbox for the second time that day.

I spent the next three hours on my computer promoting my upcoming workshop. It's on March 12, and I'm hoping there will be a good turnout. Getting free of paper in one's office seems impossible, but it isn't, and I think it's something that can really help people's state of mind and productivity. Plus, the workshop price is like getting 3 hours of intensive coaching from a professional organizer for the price of a single hour with that same organizer in your home or office. Anyway, I created notices for the workshop on a number of online bulletin boards. I also emailed a few clients to follow up on their progress and updated Bento with my recent income and expenses information. I also started this blog post.

I took a break to catch up with a relative on the phone. We talked about writing, and I got inspired to set myself a new goal. I write fiction, and have been plodding along in the middle of a novel for months. My new goal is to write ten thousand words in the next week and a half, hopefully getting me over the hump and into the final stretch of the story.

Realizing it has been a while since I hosted a Biznik networking mixer, I also set up one for two weeks from now, on March 8th. It will be at Bokado in Studio City and you can find all the details here. It's amazing to think that I've been hosting these on and off for over a year now!

I spent some time polishing up an article I'm writing called "Taking the Paperless Plunge." I'm sending in to the San Diego chapter of NAPO to see if they want to publish it in their online newsletter. I'm really happy with the way it turned out, and I'll probably publish it here in the future.

Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher.
After a light dinner and an episode of Murder, She Wrote on Netflix Instant (my favorite corny TV show and a good palate cleanser for my brain), I turned to my book. I'm writing a romance and I feel like I've been writing the same scene for days. I got in almost 1,000 words, which is really good for one sitting for me. I then did the dishes, made sure my work kit was ready for tomorrow's client, and finished writing this post.

So my day was productive, if a little unexciting. Now you know what a day in the life of a professional organizer* is like!

*I got the idea to do a day in the life of a professional organizer post from Bay area professional organizer Amanda Kuzak.

Lelah Baker-Rabe is a Los Angeles-based professional organizer. To discuss your organizing needs, call her at 818.269.6671 or email

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Upcoming workshop: March 12th, go paperless

I'm teaching a workshop. If you live in Southern California and would like to get detailed and inspiring instruction on how to get away from the tyranny of paper, come learn in person!

March 12, 2011

Are you drowning in paper, do you lust after a high tech scanner, did you think that getting an iPhone would help reduce the amount of paper piling up on your desk? Do you want to increase your productivity in the office and decrease the time you spend wrestling with paper piles?

The dream of the paperless office has been around for a while, but how many of us have been able to achieve it? Lelah Baker-Rabe, professional organizer and expert in both paper and digital clutter control, will teach you how to make the paperless office a reality with a comprehensive three hour workshop designed for the technology beginner or intermediate who wants to make the transition to a life independent of paper.
This workshop will do more than help you figure out what paper can stay and what can go. It will help you stop paper clutter in the future, and will help you avoid trading paper clutter for electronic clutter. You can go paperless without going completely high tech and Lelah will show you how.
Why almost paperless? Some of us still enjoy paper. It's okay to be mainly paperless and still use paper. After this workshop, paper will no longer be an enemy, it will be another tool in your organization toolbox!
Less paper. More life.

Saturday, March 12, 2011
9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
At Lelah's own (almost) paperless office
Glendale, CA

$75. Space is limited. 
Register by March 10, 2011.**

**Register by March 1st and bring a box of stuff to shred - Lelah will shred it for free!**

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Turn on the light

Sometimes it's the simplest things that can make the biggest difference in our lives. Like ordering side salads instead of the french fries, or getting a pair of shoes that really fit and also match our wardrobe (Well, finding that pair isn't always simple, but it's amazing what it can do for the quality of your day.).

Small changes that make a huge difference can be as simple as turning on the lights. Having a well-lit workspace can make a tremendous difference to your mood, health and of course, productivity. Often I've come into a room where someone was working, and flipped the lights on, and the person reacts as if I've found a cure for cancer. It's easy enough to turn the lights on if it's so dark you can't see, but sometimes, maybe it's laziness, or distractedness, or an over-zealous desire to save electricity, if the light is so-so, we leave it off. Don't. Help your eyes out and give them enough light. If you find yourself not turning the lights on because you dislike the type of lighting, find a way to make it better. A super bright fluorescent light isn't necessarily best for your eyes, either.

Why force yourself to do things in half-light, when illumination is just a light switch away?

Creative Commons photo posted to Flickr by Luke Wisely
Lelah Baker-Rabe is a Los Angeles-based professional organizer. To discuss your organizing needs, call her at 818.269.6671 or email

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Out in plain sight

As nice as it is to have things put away behind cupboard doors and inside convenient drawers, sometimes it's much more sensible to store things in plain sight. For many visual-oriented people, having things visible is necessary in order to remember and find things. Keeping the jar of vitamins front and center on the kitchen counter is how one might remember to take them, or taping the permission slip that has to be returned to the school on the front door might ensure it actual makes the return trip. But sometimes, whether we need them out to remember them or not, front and center is the best place for certain things.

The kitchen is a perfect example. I do a lot of cooking. Within arm's reach of the stove I have pot holders, hanging on the side of the refrigerator on a Command hook. I also have salt, pepper, olive oil and a jar that holds my garlic. I don't put those items there because I'm afraid I won't remember to use them, but because if I had to visit the pantry every time I needed salt, or had to open a drawer every time I wanted pot holders, getting dinner on the table would be a more time-absorbing chore than it already is. My cook's tools aren't in matching containers, but they are functional and easy to clean and refill. Are you making certain tasks more difficult by not storing items out to be easily accessed?

Lelah Baker-Rabe is a Los Angeles-based professional organizer. To discuss your organizing needs, call her at 818.269.6671 or email

Monday, February 7, 2011

The NeatDesk

There were some really exciting raffle prizes at the Gala Industry Exchange portion of the 2011 Los Angeles Organizing Awards. I was lucky enough (and bought enough raffle tickets) to walk away with a NeatDesk scanner from The Neat Company. I finally got it set up this weekend, as my computer had been in to MacEnthusiasts (which has the nicest people you will ever find at a Mac repair place in Los Angeles) for a checkup.

The NeatDesk is a small scanning unit that you use with the NeatWorks software. The scanner can take up to 15 normal sheets of paper, 15 receipts, and 15 business cards at once, or you can take out the receipt/business cards tray and it can take up to 50 sheets of paper. My initial thoughts after completing the straightforward set up and trying it out, are wow-it works so fast, and wow-it auto-populates well.

The system works to archive your paper, as well as make the information on your paper searchable and easily retrievable through its simple file structure. I love when you start using a new system and everything is clean and you can set it up from the ground floor exactly how you want it. The scanner takes the sheets and spits them out quite rapidly, then the software catches up and reads the scan, deciding what kind of item it is and pulling as much information as possible to populate the various data boxes that are associated with each item. For instance, it will try to find the work phone number on a business card and put it into the work phone number slot, and then you can update your Mac Address Book with the new information, tying Address Book entries to business cards you've scanned.

The scanner will make that function on my 7 year-old all-in-one printer obsolete.
As I try to minimize the amount of paper I have to keep around, I do a fair amount of scanning. I can see that the NeatDesk is already replacing my flatbed scanner. What is yet to be determined is if I'll end up using it to archive stuff I already have a system for, for instance, converting my business card binder from the physical to the electronic. I can usually find a card I want pretty easily, but the NeatDesk would make such light work of the conversion process that it might be worth doing.

Lelah Baker-Rabe is a Los Angeles-based professional organizer. To discuss your organizing needs, call her at 818.269.6671 or email

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

2011 Los Angeles Organizing Awards Round Up

The most glamorous night in the organizing industry lived up to its name! I attended the multi-part evening at the Sheraton Universal Hotel in Universal City Saturday night. I was also part of of the event planning committee, and it was so exciting to see all the hours of hard work come out successfully.

The first part of the evening was the Gala Industry Exchange. I was helping at the registration booth and it was so fun to see the big names in organizing all come up and get their tickets - everyone from Elizabeth Hagen to Monica Ricci to Peter Walsh. At the Exchange, there was an elaborate booth set up by the presenting sponsor OfficeMax, plus a fun closet installation from The Container Store, and a whole new range of products at the Office Depot booth. Fujitsu, PODs and ICD were there, too. At one end of the room, the photographers had the red carpet photo op running smoothly, and at the other, Fox 11's Carlos Amezcua interviewed the attendees about their businesses. I was really impressed with the video crew covering the event. They seemed to be everywhere at once and I'm looking forward to seeing how the coverage turns out.

The hit of the exchange, besides the great raffle prizes (I won a NeatDesk scanner!) was definitely OfficeMax's HD Photobooth. They had this high tech photo area where you could pose and get your photo taken, then instantly watch it shoot out of a printer and get to take it home. The quality was great - something about the lighting and the black and white made everyone who stepped in front of the thing look  fantastic. Check out the entire set of photos from the event here.

Erin Haas and me, strict professional organizers!
After the raffle, we all headed up to the 21st floor to the Starview room. It was really beautiful, with twinkling lights in the ceiling to give the ballroom a festive atmosphere. NAPO-LA chapter president Katherine Macey gave a warm welcome to us all, then actress Lisa Ann Walter came out and gave a funny intro about how when working with a professional organizer for the first time, her a-ha! moment came when the organizer mentioned clear boxes. All 24 awards were given out as efficiently as possible, and it was fun to hear the remarks of both the presenters and the winners. Everyone who won seemed to be really appreciative, and it is nice to know that the recognition one can get from the award can really help someone's business grow and thrive. I was also elated when one of the award recipients named me in her acceptance speech!

The evening was brought to a heartfelt climax when Jean Furuya, truly one of NAPO-LA's most beloved advanced organizers, was presented with the Leading Edge Award. That was followed by two of our committee members, Carla DeLauri and Shari Richardson, who coordinated sponsorships and donations, receiving the Volunteer of the Year Award. Donna Rosman, the woman who made the event possible with her tireless drive and leadership was presented with the Raising the Bar Award, and then she and her co-chair, Robyn Reynolds, were given two of the most gigantic bouquets of flowers I have ever seen.

Kathryn Masci (Registration Coordinator),
Carla DeLaurie (winner of Volunteer of the Year Award) and me.
Some went on to after-parties or In N Out, but I took my goody bag (more on that later) and went home to sleep! I wanted to be fresh for the President's Brunch at the Hard Rock Cafe the morning after, which was a fun way to catch up with my friends and colleagues I'd missed the evening before.

Lelah Baker-Rabe is a Los Angeles-based professional organizer. To discuss your organizing needs, call her at 818.269.6671 or email