Archive for the Category ◊ Office Tips ◊

• Friday, June 07th, 2013


Does your calendar work for you? This is a discussion I have had with MANY clients.

Here are a few things to consider when shopping/contemplating a calendar:

  1.  Having only ONE calendar format (digital OR paper) SIMPLIFIES and ensures you aren’t double booking.
  2. Make sure the calendar is the right size for your needs.
  3. Using a pencil allows you to make quick and clean changes.

I just ordered my new academic calendar/weekly planner (July through June–great for moms!). I have loved this style for 5 years now and this year one of the colors is HOT PINK! I love the two page monthly layout that has lines!  This is a HEAVY DUTY product and they come in different sizes, colors and options. I have had NO issues with the pages or the cover tearing. 

Sunset Academic Weekly/Monthly Appointment Book (800-905A) | DAY RUNNER

The beautiful colors of a tropical sunset help ease your school scheduling.

2013/2014 AT-A-GLANCE® Sunset Weekly/Monthly Appointment Book, 8 1/2in. x 11in.

• Monday, October 17th, 2011

For years, I have encouraged my clients to use a timer to help manage their time. It can also help reduce procrastination. Think about what you have been putting off. How much torture have you been putting yourself through just THINKING about it?

Here’s a great example of how I was procrastinating something that took me FOUR minutes to complete.

My daughter and I went apple picking a week ago. We ended up with two reusuable grocery bags half full of apples. When we got home, the bags were put on the side counter until I decided what to do with them (besides the caramel apples and apple crisp that we made that day). For the most part, our kitchen counters don’t have much stuff on them. I like to find a place for things. I just couldn’t decide what to do with the apples so they sat there. Yelling at me.

My dilemma was that I wanted the apples to last awhile. This meant they needed to be in a cool location. The garage would not be good because the weather fluctuates so much and there is the potential of them freezing (or little creatures finding them). The basement fridge is too far away and we may not eat them fast enough (because they would be forgotten!) which would be a waste of money. I decided I wanted them in the upstairs fridge but that’s a whole shelf devoted just to apples.

Well…duh, it finally dawned on me to use a container so I could stack the apples up in the fridge and not take up so much space.

I happen to be fixing a cup of tea when figuring this out and I played beat the timer for how long my tea needed to steep–4 to 6 mins. I set the timer for four minutes and rushed to the basement to find a container. I found a plastic container that is vented–like a veggie bin. All the apples fit and into the fridge the container went before the timer went off!! What an adrenal rush and no longer were those bags vexing me.

What is vexing you that you have been meaning to get at and don’t think you have the time? Break the task down into 20 minutes. Can you devote 20 minutes? Set a timer and go to it. You would be surprised at what you can get done in that amount of time.

When you try the timer technique, please let us know the outcome. If you have questions about what is a good timer to use, ask.

Ready, set, (press the timer button) GO

• Thursday, April 01st, 2010

A Cutesy Tote Does Not Solve All

If your home has serious organization issues, you may find yourself wondering: How did it get this way, or I don’t even know how to begin. This proves that process ultimately trumps pretty. “It’s not about focusing on pretty. The ultimate goal is to make your home work better. If we don’t fully address the issues, they all come creeping back.” Jennifer Strachan said, owner of In Its Place Professional Organizing Services of Neenah. To begin, Strachan focuses on the home’s high traffic areas that need the most TLC. She then defers to Julie Morgenstern’s (a global, Oprah-approved organizing expert) SPACE acronym:

  • Sort
  • Purge
  • Assign (a home)
  • Containerize (store for easy retrieval)
  • Equalize (maintain and re-evaluate system)

“Having these stages really helps people take a step back as they decide what really needs to be done with a certain area,” she added. “Let’s say we’re working with a closet. We all know what closets are supposed to hold based on their location— which means your hockey stick could probably find a better home. That concept alone really helps when going through the sorting and purging steps.”

It’s All About Making Decisions

In order for anyone to stick to a home organization plan, it needs to be realistic and intuitive. As the owner of Organizing Unlimited in Menasha, Sheryl Ruedebusch focuses on the overall vision of a room or space, followed by an assessment of the current function and, lastly, an action plan. She calls this the CDR, or Creating Desired Results, method. “I’ve noticed that people tend to get hung up on clichés or what they see on TV; decluttering does not mean you’ve got to throw out everything that you haven’t used,” Ruedebusch said. “Tome, clutter is defined by postponed decisions. And the CDR method helps you make sense of those decisions as you put things where they need to go.”

Let’s Do This

Process and strategy are everything. But we all learn through example — that’s why we’re giving you some proven tactics to streamline your home’s common catch-alls.


Experts reason that we wear 20 percent of the clothing in our wardrobe 80 percent of the time. “With the exception of eveningwear and classic outfits, look to donate the clothes you haven’t worn in years,” Ruedebusch said. “We’re all reluctant to get rid of clothing. But think of the pleasure donating can bring to someone else.”

Recycle all wire hangers, and opt for a uniform clothes-specific assortment. (Bed, Bath & Beyond’s swivel hangers for skirts and dresses are great.)

Use every square inch of space. Hang shoe racks on the back of the door. Classic belt hangers with multiple hooks are also a good solution for hanging camisoles, bras or scarves.

Assemble a few key outfits on hangers including accessories. Not only does this save on some hanger and hook space — it makes last-minute packing and outfit changes a snap.

Strachan recommends thinking long-term when it comes to closet organization. “I had a client that changed an entryway closet into a pantry, so they had no place to hang their coats. They reasoned, ‘Oh, we can put the coats in the front door closet.’ Did they? No. That’s why I try to be realistic by asking my clients: Is this something you’ll stick to after the honeymoon period, after a long, hard day?”


Ruedebusch organizes around four key elements of the kitchen—cooking, food prep, holding food and cleaning. “You want to store the items you use most often, first; then you can dump, donate or store the rarely used pieces in a more remote location.”

Arrange your cupboards according to these elements. Put your everyday dishes and silverware by the dishwasher, the cutting boards near the knives and so on. Specialty appliances, like rice cookers, juicers and breadmakers can be stored in secondary places—like garages, basements, or even entryway benches.

For those who are always hunting for the oregano: Try alphabetizing your herbs and spices, and arrange them in a cabinet rack.

Plastic drawer trays are your best friend, and often come cheap from dollar stores. Pickup a few different sizes to streamline your large utensil drawers.

Organize the food in your fridge by type: drinks and small containers on the top rack, leftovers/prepared meals on the middle and whole/unprepared goods on the bottom. Strachan also orders her deep freezer according to food and prep type. “I don’t necessarily consider it efficient. It’s more like me being lazy, and not wanting to sort things over and over again.”


Whether you dig bankers boxes, desk drawers or a covered bin, filing systems really are indispensible —and should be divided into two categories: important documents for later reference (taxes, investment information, paid documents) and documents that need tending to (bills and invitations).

Rather than housing a to-be-burned-in-the-fire-pit box for confidential papers, invest in a paper shredder.

Binders are great for organizing special projects, committee work and warranty information for autos, electronics and appliances.

Instead of going crazy with Post-it reminders, organize an office command center—complete with a bulletin board and dry-erase board. This can absorb any and all paperwork you might have hanging on the refrigerator as well.

for the Green Bay Press Gazette

• Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Unless you live under a rock, you know that you should be shredding personal documents before they get recycled.  Tearing a piece of paper into quarters or eighths isn’t going to deter someone who wants to steal your information.  So if you don’t have a shredder, to quote the toy story character, Woody, “Get one!” (Okay, he was talking about a moving buddy so no one got left behind…but it’s still about personal safety.)

I have a nice shredder that can chew up 10 sheets at a time.  I bought it at an estate sale so I don’t know how well it had been cared for.  I brought it home, plugged it in and used it for over two years without doing anything to it.

Upon clearing out some files, I had a good stack of paper I needed to shred (yes, I dread it, too!).  Some of the paper was longer, and I found the shredder was getting jammed before the long sheets could get through it.  This job took way too long.  After I got done, I decided to look at the underside of the shredder.  There was a ton of paper caught in the teeth.  Hmmm…then I noticed the little oil can symbol on the top of the shredder.

Okay, I guess I should oil it.  With what?  I referenced the manual and it talked about a specific lubricant for the shredder OR you could a vegetable based oil in a non-aerosol container with an extension nozzle.   Alright—this was a solution that allowed me to do this now (how long does it take to get back to a job when it’s put off for one reason or another??).

I actually used my “Mr. Mister” that replaces “Pam”.  It pumps air into a cylindrical container that creates a fine mist with no aerosol chemicals.  I bet a medicine dropper would work also (and would be cleaner).  The manual also said to NEVER use flammable synthetic oil, petroleum based or aerosol lubricants because it could combust.

Here is what my manual says:

  1. From the top of the shredder, squeeze the recommended lubricant across the full width of the blades.
  2. Move the power switch to AUTO position and allow the blades to run at least 3 seconds.
  3. Move the power switch to REVERSE position and allow it to run for at least 3 seconds.
  4. Repeat steps 2-4 above at least times.

Basically, the blades need to move back and forth to get the oil on it. Wow—what a difference that made. Papers aren’t jamming up as easily. The job goes quicker. It’s easier. If it’s easier to do it’s more likely that the job will get done in the future (in a timely manner).

Before you decide to oil your shredder, double check the manual or online to see what should be done. I remember one client’s shredder having the oil can crossed out (do not oil?).

Here is more on shredder maintenance:

One other tip—put a bag in the container to collect the shredded paper. The above link mentions shredder bags (which I did not know about!). I use a paper bag and then the whole thing can be recycled. You may need to cut the bag to fit but it will save you time when you have to empty the messy paper out of the shredder container.

I hope these tips keep your shredder happy and chomping up those never ending papers like there’s no tomorrow.