Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Review: Never Eat Alone

Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi was first published in 2005. I read it to discuss with my NAPO-LA book group, and found its advice about networking to be straightforward and applicable to any business or personal situation. The author is kind of a connections addict. He loves making connections and networking with people and has found it to be one of the most influential strategies for advancing in business and life. I liked the book's tone and organization, though it's hard to adjust to the bald fact that it's pretty much always who you know rather than what you know. Ferrazzi wants to empower you to learn how to get to know the people who can help you on your path through life.

I got the most out of the chapter on conferences. Ferrazzi argues that conferences are less about the content of the sessions or workshops or keynotes and much more valuable for getting face time with and getting to know people. Conferences do offer concentrated people-meeting arena, and it pays to go in having done some research on the other attendees and making a point of meeting and talking with those who you find fascinating or relevant to your fields of interest.

There were a lot of good take-aways from the book, and even though it was published before the Facebook/Twitter/social networking explosion, the principles still apply. Following up, being interesting, taking an interest in other people, being willing to ask for help as well as give help are all timeless concepts and well worth reminding ourselves about.

Monday, February 27, 2012

5 easy ways to get your inbox to zero

I'm constantly striving to have my unread emails total 0. It happens every day, but it takes daily upkeep. Here are five ways to make it easier to keep those unread emails at bay:

  1. Unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe. Anytime you find yourself deleting or archiving a newsletter or advertisement without opening it, take two seconds, open it and scroll to the bottom where there will be an unsubscribe link. Sometimes it's clearer than others where to click, but doing so and following whatever prompts appear will stop those types of emails from landing in your inbox in the first place.
  2. Filter. You might want to keep statement notices, certain newsletters or list serve digests for future reference or reading, but you don't want them cluttering up your inbox until then. Set up a filter to label them and have them skip your inbox and go straight to a folder for later.
  3. Post something like "No need to respond" at the bottoms of emails you send out that really don't require a response. 
  4. Belong to a Yahoo Group or other list serves? Consider setting up a filter (#2) or switching your membership to a daily or weekly digest of email instead of receiving every message as it gets posted.
  5. Turn off or reduce email notifications on your social networking sites liked LinkedIn or Goodreads. Do you really need to be notified about what your friends are reading every day or week? If you cared, you'd be on the sites and interacting there.
Do yourself a favor and stop your email overload before it starts, and getting to inbox zero will be much more achievable.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Book of Household Management

Though the phrase "A place for everything, and everything in its place," may predate the publication of the book The Book of Household Management, it surprised me that the saying is generally attributed to the author of that volume, Mrs. Isabella Beeton. The book was published in 1861 and is a handbook for a woman running a household in Victorian England. It never occurred to me that the quote could be traced back to one person. It's a marvelous aphorism that holds up in any era.
"A place for everything, and everything in its place," must be her rule, in order that time may not be wasted in looking for things when they are wanted, and in order that the whole apparatus of cooking may move with the regularity and precision of a well-adjusted machine;—all must go on simultaneously.
~Mrs. Beeton, The Book of Household Management
You can download a free copy of The Book of Household Management in numerous formats from Project Gutenberg.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How many days until...

It seems there is always something to look forward to and celebrate. For instance, today is Mardi Gras.

And there are...
29 days until the NAPO National Conference (March 21-24)
56 days until taxes are due (April 17)
82 days until Mother's Day (May 13)
117 days until Father's Day (June 17)
307 days until Christmas (December 25)
and 53 days until my baby is due! is a good free resource for figuring out the days to an event, plus other useful tidbits of information relating to the date and time. They also have various apps for your mobile devices that could come in handy.

Creative Commons photo posted to Flickr by Karrett Barbosa

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The state of my closet

As I write this post, my clothes closet is something of shambles. The top shelf, meant for purses and hats, is a jumble of both of those plus a few scarves for some reason.  The main clothes hanging area, usually organized by color and then by article of clothing type, isn't too bad, but more than half of what is hanging there isn't currently in circulation, due to my pregnant state. The bottom, which has a built-in shoe incline, looks the worst, with an errant overnight bag vying for space with a dozen jumbled pair of shoes, again, only two of which I'm actually wearing at the moment. I'm lucky in that I have a dedicated deep cupboard above the closest that is perfect for luggage storage. The overnight bag usually lives up there, but I've been using it semi-frequently and putting it away, which involves getting my step ladder from another room, seems more trouble than it's worth lately.

Why am I sharing my closet woe with you? Well, I think it's always nice to hear someone who is supposed to have organization down to a science admit to imperfection. Professional organizers are people too. But this story also illustrates how easy it is for a well-conceived system to fall apart when you don't spend the time to maintain it.Your clothes won't put themselves away by color and type. If that's how you want them, you have to put them away that way. And in the last few weeks, a meticulous closet hasn't been at the top of my priority list. That's okay. The good news is that even though I haven't been maintaining it, because I do have a system in place, it will take me much less time to return it to its organized state than if I was starting from scratch.

You'll notice I only included the "before" picture. Closet maintenance will rise to the top of the list one of these days, so until then, you'll have to imagine the "after" shot.

**An exterior shot:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Plunge

Earlier this month I gave a workshop titled Take the Paperless Plunge to almost 30 professional organizers. The workshop covered everything from the history of the paperless movement to the features of some of the top of the line scanners out there. It was so much fun adapting my paperless office workshop for a professional organizer audience, and I was amazed at the insightful questions and comments that the attendees shared throughout the workshop. There were both experienced and novice organizers present, and within that group a mix of comfort levels regarding both paperless organizing and the technology that paperless organizing usually entails.

The three hours I had been allotted went by way too quickly, so I felt that I had much left to share at the end of the session, but we packed a lot in and spent a lot of time in dialogue, which was important.

The workshop was made possible by the Professional Organizers Learning Academy (POLA) committee of NAPO-LA, and in particular I want to thank Jean Furuya, who is known throughout the professional organizing community for her commitment to education and tireless good cheer and helpfulness.

I'm not sure when the next time I'll be presenting a workshop will be, but I'll keep you posted right here on the blog and via my newsletter, Lelah's News, which you should sign up for now!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

February calendar

February has always been one of my favorite months. It's short, to the point and is always full of fun activities for me, as it contains both the anniversaries of my business launching and being with my husband, as well as my half-birthday, which also happens to be Valentine's Day. This year, I'll be having a baby shower in February as well, plus it's a Leap Year.

I celebrate my third year in business this month, and have to say that it feels good to get there - lots of small business struggle in the first few years of business, if they last at all. I've had a steep learning curve while being in business for myself, but it has been tremendously rewarding. I'm thankful to so many people for helping me along the way, from my family and friends and local solopreneur contacts, to my amazing colleagues in the professional organizing community here in Los Angeles and around the world.

Entrepreneurship isn't for everybody, but it has most definitely been a positive path for me. I highly encourage people who aren't happy in their careers or who are under- or unemployed to consider creating a job for themselves.

Have a happy and productive month, everyone!

Creative Commons photo posted to Flickr by

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A DMV story

I had a recent experience with the California Department of Motor Vehicles - and it was a positive one.

I needed them to resend a document to my home, and found both their website and phone service to be highly functional. They have the service where instead of waiting on hold for 40 minutes, they take your number and call you back when it is your turn. I love not having to listen to tinny music and be interrupted every minute by an automated voice telling you it isn't your turn yet. Then, I had an extremely friendly and helpful person on the other end of the line when they called me back. She solved my problem in just a couple of minutes, and when we got disconnected (my phone's fault) toward the end of the call, she called me back and left a message saying that everything was going through and I should receive what I needed to by the end of the week. Which I did. Amazing! Since the DMV is widely considered one of those agencies you want to have as little to do with as possible, I wanted to point out a good experience that I had with them. Keep up the good work, DMV!