Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I know I'm kind of late to the game when it comes to Pinterest. I've been hearing about it forever, and I finally checked it out recently. I was impressed with the clean look of the site; for some reason when I imagined all those images it sounded like it would by busy and jumbled, but it's not.

Pinterest screen shot.
Pinterest is really lovely for visual people who respond to images and colors and want to be able to browse visually to get ideas. It's also fun for people in niche groups to find out what their peers are looking at and talking about. For organizing inspiration, there are dozens of collections of beautiful organizing shots. My friend Cari of Cari's Custom Organizing has some awesome ideas collected here.

I think Pinterest could be a nice organization tool in and of itself, helping us keep track of ideas thematically for future reference, or just for fun!

FYI, to fully use the site you have to get an invite or request an invite.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Review: Good to Great

I finally made time to read Good to Great, the modern business classic by Jim Collins. My NAPO-LA book group made it our November pick, and we're discussing it this evening. Though I had trouble getting into it, once I got to the second or third chapter I found the arguments compelling and the anecdotes inspiring. I really liked the tone of the book and the message that we can go from good to great in any area of life, from business to personal goals to family life. Have you read it? What did you think?

Here's one of my favorite quotes: 
“I believe it is no harder to build something great than to build something good. It might be statistically more rare to reach greatness, but it does not require more suffering than perpetuating mediocrity. Indeed, if some of the comparison companies in our study are any indication, it involves less suffering, and perhaps even less work. The beauty and power of the research findings is that they can radically simplify our lives while increasing our effectiveness. There is a great solaces in the simple fact of clarity--about what is vital, and what is not.

If we organized the majority of our work time around applying these principles and pretty much ignored or stopped doing everything else, out lives would be simpler and our results vastly improved.”
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Thanksgiving Recipe

I'm so thankful for all my wonderful blog readers, so I'd like to share a family recipe with you, which I will be making for my family this Thanksgiving. These little morsels are huge crowd pleasers, so I usually double the recipe.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Swiss Cheese Tartlets

1 pre-made pie crust (in this recipe store-bought works better than homemade)
3 eggs
1/4 cup cream
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons very finely minced onion
1/4 lb. grated Swiss cheese
1/4 teaspoon poppy seeds (or up to 1 teaspoon as desired)

Roll crust thin and cut out rounds about 2’’ in diameter. Press into greased or nonstick shallow muffin tins. (You can use a regular muffin tin as well, just press the crust in gently so it will be easy to remove later.) Beat eggs and mix in rest of ingredients. Pour 2 teaspoons of egg mixture into each crust shell. Chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 425 F. Bake at 425 for five minutes, then turn down oven to 350F and continue baking for 12 minutes or so until lightly browned on top and on edges and center is puffed up a bit. Best served warm. You can freeze and reheat in the microwave or oven, but they won't be quite as good as fresh.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Gift idea: handmade, but not by you

Sometimes the best gifts are handmade, but they don't have to be handmade by you. If you have an artist, writer or crafty person in your family, support them by purchasing (or trading for) their wares and giving them to others on your gift list. They might even give you a family discount!

A taste of Six Sapphires.
I'm lucky to have a wealth of talented, productive people in my family. My sister-in-law is a hugely talented jewelry designer, and everyone in the family delights in receiving something she's made. My mother-in-law is a photographer, writer and all-around talented person, and I've already earmarked one of her pieces for someone on my Christmas list. My brother works with plants and makes succulent wreaths and pots plants for wonderfully colorful, living gifts. Who in your family has a talent for creation?

Giving items made by someone you and the person you are giving to both love makes the gift doubly special.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Review: Partners in Crime

I read a lot, and one of my favorite genres is romance. I also love Christmas, and I've been binging lately on Christmas-themed romances which seem to be in abundance at my local library. One story,  Partners In Crime by Cait London, is about a professional organizer who gets involved with a undercover cop on vacation and a string of burglaries of Christmas presents in her small town. It was a cute story, but the way the author portrayed her main character, Cecilia Lattimer, as a fairly OCD person who thrust her unwanted organizational solutions on everyone from business owners to the hunky cop-who-she-thinks-is-a-drifter was a little off-putting.

I suppose I'm overly sensitive, being a professional organizer in real life, but it was hard to see her try to give advice to everyone about how their lives could be organized better. I would never presume to do that, since part of being a professional organizer is being non-judgmental about people's situations and stuff. By offering to "fix" their space for them, the character in the book is implying that there is something wrong with them, which is not only presumputous, but insulting and it doesn't get her very far with any of these characters, anyway. 

So, the takeaway for me is that even though it was neat to see the main character in a short novel share my profession, it made me wonder how others see the job I've chosen. I certainly hope they don't think I'm a nosy person who wants to fix their space whether they like it or not!

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Get organized, save money

Getting organized really can save you money. I've decluttered many things in my own home as well as in client's homes that other people in the household were just about to go spend money on because they needed the item. No need, I'd declare, depositing the item into the hands of the person in need. Money, time and effort saved all in one go.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Clutter Carnival

I'm so happy to be one of the participants in this month's Professional Organizers Blog Carnival, hosted by the very talented Janet Barclay of Organized Assistant. My classic post Common clutter areas and what to do about them is just one of two dozen helpful and insightful blog posts all on the topic of clutter presented in the carnival.

Read and enjoy!

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How to make folders on your iPad

My mother is in town and, as usual, she's still teaching me things. We have matching white iPads, and she noticed I didn't have any folders organizing my apps on my home screen. I had never seen folders, and she showed me how to create them.

Tap and hold an app until they are all wiggling (this I knew how to do--it makes it possible to delete and move around your apps). Drag an app on top of another app. This will create a folder. The iPad (magical device that it is) will examine the apps you are putting together and recommend a name for the folder. In two out of three cases, it recommended the exact name I wanted to use. Amazing! You can rename the folder, however, right then, if you choose. Then you can drag other apps into the folder as desired. I made a News folder, a Reading folder and an Entertainment folder. My mom, wonder that she is, has one called Productivity. Just hit the home button at the bottom of your iPad to make the wiggling stop.

The advantage to doing this is it makes all apps of a certain type available at a glance and it allows less frequently used apps to take up less screen real estate. One caveat: some of the permanent apps, like Newsstand, don't allow you to add them to a folder. Not sure why.

Thanks, Mom!

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Organized people are lazy

Laziness is underrated as a motivating factor. I'm a hard worker, but I'm lazy in the sense that I don't want to spend extra energy doing something that can be done more simply, more easily or more quickly. I think a lot of organized people are also lazy people in this same way. They know that if they have the elements of their lives as ordered and streamlined as they like, they can spend less time on the minutiae of life and more time doing the things that are important to them. I particularly think that organized people have an advantage over disorganized people in that they are not constantly reacting, not constantly bombarded by "emergencies" of their own making and are not caught up in a feeling that everything is urgent, because everything is behind where it needs to be.

When an emergency really does crop up, then an organized person has the flexibility to put other things in their life on hold and deal with it, without causing too much damage. This results in less clean-up, less work. For me, I don't want that extra work, so I get organized at the front end to avoid it. And it works most of the time. When I do get overwhelmed with stuff, the laziness factors in when I stop taking on new responsibilities for a little while in order to get back to my natural equilibrium. Once I'm back in my comfort zone, then life can speed up as it is bound to do. An outside person might call that laziness in a pejorative manner. I think it's common sense, being true to yourself and knowing what makes you comfortable and happy. If that's laziness, so be it.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Archiving calendars

I've had a weekly calendar to keep track of appointments and important dates since high school, and I've kept most of them for sentimental reasons. I just recently switched to using iCal exclusively instead of a paper calendar, and I went back to look at the stack of calendars I had been keeping in a drawer.

They were fun to glance through to remind myself of the classes I took in college, the concerts I went to, the trips I've been on. But I realized that was the first time I'd looked at many of them in years. I decided to give my lovely ScanSnap S1500M a workout and turn each calendar into a digital file, then recycle all that paper.

Of course, the ScanSnap didn't break a sweat, the results were beautiful scans, and I have that data should anyone care to know what I did back on March 18, 2000 (apparently I went to Magic Mountain).

I also freed up an entire drawer for some more useful purpose. But I'm leaving it empty for now.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lelah's Email Coaching Special!

Email plagues us all. It's a wonderful tool but can be an enormous drain on our time. As a person who doesn't like to leave things unfinished, an email inbox filled with messages is a distressing thing, so I have a system for getting my inbox down to zero, every single day, and I've shared this system with many clients.

If you'd like to reduce the amount of time you spend processing your email, spend two hours with me; you'll make the time back tenfold after we implement a new, improved method for dealing with your email.

I will come to your Los Angeles area home or office for two hours of intensive, email-specific productivity coaching. Virtual sessions for those outside the Los Angeles area are also available. This is a special offer at a special price and is for a limited time only. Applicable to both existing and new clients. Call 818-269-6671 now to book!

Lelah's 2 Hour Email Coaching Special: $135

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