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Tips & Tricks from the Experts in the Industry

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  • 05 Nov 2020 9:10 AM | Deleted user

    My 7-year old granddaughter knows what it means to be organized! When she came for a recent visit, she wasted no time unpacking her suitcase and setting up her things in my guest room. In fact, she politely asked me to empty out my vanity drawers so she could neatly arrange her clothes and books.  She cleared off the top of the vanity and carefully set aside my items in the corner of the room. Then she thoughtfully placed her doll and hair accessories where she wanted them to be. She finished getting settles by arranging her (many) stuffed animals along the top of the bed. She made it her space and she kept it neat and tidy during her 5-day stay. 

    Maybe we could all learn a thing or two from this sweet little girl!

    • She had out the things that were special to her so that she could enjoy them.
    • She gave each item a home so that she knew where to put each item when she was finished with it.
    • She genuinely enjoyed creating and maintaining a sense of order.
    • Did I mention she is 7 years old?!

    Last summer during a visit, she asked me to help her organize her room. We sorted through her books, papers, toys, supplies, and treasures. She chose which ones to keep. Then she made the labels – in her own handwriting – for each of the drawers. She was so pleased and proud when we finished.

    So what was her simple organizing method?

    • Making decisions
    • Setting limits
    • Using labels
    • Enjoying the space

    At 7 years old, she is getting an early start at creating and maintaining a sense of order.  Who knows --maybe she is getting an early start at becoming a professional organizer too!! At any rate, hopefully her story will bring a smile to your face and a dose of encouragement to your heart to take the time to organize one small area in your home today!!

    This post originally appeared on www.organizedbyolive.com.

  • 19 Oct 2020 5:40 PM | Deleted user

    I’ve been deliberately and intentionally sorting through storage bins in my garage. I have opened every single one and asked myself if the contents were still worth keeping. I will admit that some bins were easier to deal with than others! The easier bins were the ones where the contents were so obviously outdated and obsolete that I laughed out loud when I held the contents in my hands. I enjoyed thinking about the memories, but quickly discarded the items. Other items immediately brought to mind a specific someone who could use the item right now. Of course, there were many items that were appropriate for donating. I sorted what was left, attached new labels to the bins, and re-stacked the keepers at the back of my garage. 

    I hesitated looking at the several bins of homeschool books. I wondered if I would be too sentimentally attached to pass along any of them. Much to my surprise, it was easier than I had anticipated. Could it be that the 12 years (yikes!) that had passed since homeschooling my 3 children had indeed created a sufficient buffer to realistically evaluate these wonderful resources? Yes, I’m happy to report, that was indeed the case. I refreshed my selections of books in my living room to match the current reading levels of my grandchildren and put away all the younger ones. I put together a surprise box to send to them in the mail—which they received with excitement today! I dropped off a box of paperback books at the local laundromat.  I selected ones to donate and without guilt tossed the ones that were obviously out of date. I sorted the remaining true treasures into more relevant categories and labeled each bin. And I ended up with several empty bins!

    One bin contained my adult son’s key chain collection which he started during his preschool years. As I opened that bin, I again wondered if I could eliminate any. I dumped them all out onto a big table. Immediately I saw several duplicates which could be donated. Then I picked out ones that were broken. I tossed the ones made of plastic that were sticky or yucky. I smiled the whole time remembering how much enjoyment collecting these key chains brought to everyone in the family. When my son was in 5th grade, he even had the opportunity to display them at our local library. Friends, relatives, and even strangers had contributed to this collection.  But it wasn’t necessary to keep every single one. Now I had the opportunity to send the best on to my son. That refreshed collection ended up being just the right amount for a large flat rate postal box, which is currently on its way to Texas.

    I almost overlooked 2 bins at the end of a shelf—simply because they had probably been there about 10 years! I am so glad that I took the time to open them. As it turned out, they contained items that belonged to my father that my mother had packed away. Both of my parents have been gone for several years. I was absolutely amazed to find one of the best pictures ever of my dad taken when he had won a city bowling tournament in 1968. What? How did I not know about this? How had I never before seen this picture? Even more amazing was a leather envelope-sized portfolio with his original discharge papers, a letter from President Truman thanking him for his service in WW2, and a letter from General Omar Bradley regarding his veteran benefits. The leather portfolio was engraved in gold with his name on the front and “Presented for Your Discharge and Service Papers – Your Valued Possessions / Christmas 1945 / McGraw Chevrolet” on the back. These must have been given to each employee that served in the military. It looks brand new! Once again, I had never seen this before. Now I am using it to hold my car insurance papers, which is quite the upgrade from my previous plastic folder held together with tape. I will be reminded of his service whenever I look at it. The fact is, if he had not returned safely, I would not be here today.

    My plea to you is to open those boxes and bins! Give yourself permission to only keep the best and donate, share, or toss the rest. Find the hidden treasures. And treasure the memories. :)

    Originally posted by Olive Wagar at https://www.organizedbyolive.com

  • 30 Apr 2020 3:25 PM | Deleted user

    If you have felt rather overwhelmed by the COVID-19 crisis, you are not alone. Stocking up on food and supplies, constantly watching the news, and wearing masks in public seems unusual. And it is quite common to feel a sense of anxiety. But don't let those feelings completely control your outlook. Instead, consider these 19 positive next steps that will help you create a sense of calm and order even in uncertain times.

    1. Wash all the sheets & hang outside if possible.

    2. Wash all blankets & throws.

    3. Wash all coats & jackets.

    4. Wash the refrigerator shelves & drawers.

    5. Remove mugs & glasses; clean the area; put back the favorites.

    6. Remove casserole dishes; clean the area; eliminate the odd ones.

    7. Remove plates & bowls; clean the area; put back the best.

    8. Remove pots & pans; clean the area; put back what you really use.

    9. Gather all games; pick out your favorites; have a game night!

    10. Gather all DVDs & CDs from around the house; keep the favorites.

    11. Sweep the floor, run the sweeper, & shake out the rugs.

    12. Wash one window; smile; wash one more window.

    13. Remove one category of clothing from your closet; put back the best.

    14. Repeat for every type of clothing.

    15. Gather all shoes; eliminate duplicate styles & colors.

    16. Empty out the junk drawer; put back the most useful items.

    17. Gather all magazines; set the most recent by your reading spot.

    18. Remove books from shelves; clean the area; put back the favorites.

    19. Sort through coupons, flyers, & junk mail; eliminate quickly.

    Eliminating any amount of clutter is always a good thing! You can pick and choose where and when to start. When you feel like you don't know what to do, simply pick one and then enjoy a small dose of satisfaction and encouragement!! There is always something positive that you can do everyday. Decide. Organize. Enjoy!! :)


  • 16 Mar 2020 2:50 PM | Janet Jackson


    By Janet Jackson

    March 15, 2020

    When I started hosting an online-attendance option for my monthly Express Training, I paid for a commonly known web-meeting service. It was expensive and didn't include all the features I needed. So, I went shopping a bit more and found www.FreeConferenceCall.com

    I have been using this service for over a year now, for my Express Training, for virtual training with groups, for team collaboration meetings, and for client meetings when we just can't meet in person. Here's what I like about it:

        It's free

        It's easy to set up and easy to use

        It doesn't require my attendees to download anything. They just need phone/internet access (unless they need to share their screen with me - then they need to download the app)

        It's free

        It doesn't cost extra for additional features such as recording calls or switching who's screen is being shared

        There's no limit (or at least one that I'll exceed) in regards to number of people who can join the call

        It's free

        I've had almost no technical issues. It's been fuss-free.

        They don't clutter my email's inbox with promos or announcements

        They don't clutter my attendee's email inbox with promos or announcements (that I'm aware of)

        There aren't any annoying ads. I'm honestly a bit confused how they can continue to offer so much for free.

        And one last time - It's free

    What I have not liked about it: Their customer support was lacking (and even annoying) when I reached out due to the one issue I have had. Perhaps I just happened to get "that guy". Regardless, I've since figured it out and unless you're demonstrating PowerPoint slideshow tools while also connected to a projector; I don't think you'll have any issues with it.

    I'm a longtime proponent of virtual meetings in an effort to increase workplace productivity. I don't think they replace all in-person meetings but I do think they can reduce the amount of time we spend in meetings. And certainly as I write this today, there are reasons beyond productivity to consider virtual meeting solutions. I hope this helps!

    May you have blessings and balance and health!

  • 14 Feb 2020 9:32 AM | Janet Jackson

    You may have heard me say that I have more ideas than I have years left in my professional career. Seriously, I can’t make them stop. What’s worse is that I tend to have endless ideas for others as well, which seems to make my clients happy but my family not as much. Ha! 

    It might help to pause here and make sure we’re all clear on what I mean by an idea. It’s something that I think might be a good thing to do but there is no due date or anyone waiting for it. It can also be a “should be done” – something you hear that others are doing and think that maybe you should too. They can be complicated items like developing and launching a new program or smaller ideas like researching a specific topic. The key is, no one will really ever know if you don’t do it.

    In regards to Organization Solutions, LLC, hopefully, you have found some of my ideas to be beneficial because things like my eLearning site, my YouTube channel, and the new Organization & Productivity Boot Camp are some of the results. I recognized it as a “problem” through a couple of years ago. My files were bulging with the ideas I’d jotted down (because you know I don’t like to keep things in my head). And that doesn’t just have to mean paper files – electronic files can bulge too. Trust me. I see it ALL the time! I found it to be a problem because I had a hard time knowing what I wanted to do next and what even made sense to do at all. 

    I felt overwhelmed.

    In meetings or visioning sessions, facilitators often use Parking Lots. Typically, it’s a flip chart or whiteboard where you can capture things that are good topics but not necessarily what you need to be talking about at the moment. With a Parking Lot, you don’t dismiss the topic altogether and can schedule a future meeting to discuss it in more detail. (Some of you might want to stop reading right now and process that for a moment. Consider a parking lot for your next meeting to help you stick to the actual agenda!) 

    I decided to apply this Parking Lot technique to my own ideas. I designated a single repository to capture the ideas. Can you guess where? Yep. An Excel spreadsheet. It includes a column to indicate the idea’s priority and serves as an index as well, with a column helping me know how to get my hands on the hard copy file if one existed. Anything can work – the repository doesn’t have to be Excel or even electronic. Simply getting all the ideas together, in one place – and away from the true “to do’s” – brings a lot of sanity and provides clarity. 

    To really contain the problem though, I had to take it one step further and “set boundaries” on my long list of ideas. My Parking Lot now has a finite number of spaces. What that means is tomorrow – when I have the next idea or hear the next thing I “should be doing” as a business owner, I’ll compare it to what’s already on my list. If my list is full (which it is), then I have to decide which idea stays and which one goes to keep my list to that specific number. It might be that the new idea doesn’t make the list at all. 

    Managing my ideas this way also helps me feel confident that I’m choosing to spend my time on what’s important instead of bouncing from one thing to the next. For those of you who might be feeling overwhelmed by all the things you think you “should be doing”, I hope this strategy offers some relief. It’s something to consider for those of you leading a team as well, helping you all focus your time and talent in the same direction. If this resonates with you, please let me know! And know that I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have as you try to get your thoughts under control.

    May you have blessings and balance!




  • 27 Dec 2019 11:32 AM | Deleted user

    As you approach the last days of 2019, why not consider a few easy steps to get ready for 2020! You will start the new year with a sense of accomplishment without feeling exhausted by finishing tasks that usually get put off or neglected.  Some take less than 15 minutes! You can do one each day in January. Either way you end up starting the new year organized and ready for new opportunities!!

    • 1.      TAKE DOWN all interior and exterior holiday decorations.
    • 2.      SORT & ORGANIZE decorations as you put them away.
    • 3.      DONATE all decorations you didn’t use.
    • 4.      DISCARD all leftovers in your frig & freezer.
    • 5.      DISCARD all expired items in your pantry.
    • 6.      DONATE all 2019 magazines.
    • 7.      RECYCLE all 2019 newspapers.
    • 8.      TOSS all expired coupons.
    • 9.      DONATE 20 clothing items.
    • 10.   THROW AWAY all car clutter.
    • 11.   CREATE a simple one-page budget plan.
    • 12.   CREATE a simple one-page food & supplies list.
    • 13.   UPDATE your address list.
    • 14.   DELETE excess photos on your phone.
    • 15.   DELETE old voice messages on your phone.
    • 16.   DELETE excess text messages on your phone.
    • 17.   DELETE unnecessary emails on your computer.
    • 18.   RETURN all library items.
    • 19.   BUY new toothbrushes for your family!
    • 20.   GO to a car wash!!

    BONUS: Reward yourself with a favorite holiday treat.  My favorite is frozen strawberry yogurt + 7UP.  Mix together in a mug  or glass as thick as you like!

  • 29 Nov 2019 1:01 PM | Deleted user

    I don’t like being lost.

    I don’t like being confused.

    I don’t like being overwhelmed.

    On a recent trip, I took an unintended detour off the interstate. The roads were unfamiliar to me and not very well marked. The directions on the GPS didn’t seem to match the reality before me. Let’s just say it wasn’t exactly my idea of fun. But I made one decision that made the difference. I decided to keep going north! I knew that eventually I would get back to my intended route.

    Maybe, at times, you have unintentionally drifted through a season of life. It wasn’t where you wanted to be or what you wanted to do. You were confused and overwhelmed. I’m guessing it was not your favorite time, either.

    Whatever the situation, it helps to ask some questions.

    • 1.    What values matter to me?
    • 2.    What decision can I make?
    • 3.    What action can I take?
    • 4.    What can I do differently?
    • 5.    What can I eliminate?
    • 6.    Whom can I ask for help?

    Asking questions and making decisions helps you get past feeling helpless. Doing something is so much better than doing nothing. And there is always something that can be done, even if it isn’t always immediately obvious.

    Consider the frustration of sometimes forgetting to pay a bill or getting charged a late fee. Regardless of how much income you have coming in, you can ease the stress of paying bills by having a written monthly budget. It doesn’t need to be fancy or complicated. Just one sheet of paper with what bills you normally pay in a month. List them in chronological order with amount & due date. Check off as you pay with cash, check, or online payment. With that one simple tool, you have eliminated the confusion of paying your monthly bills.

    Consider the stress of preparing evening meals. Again, a written plan will bring clarity to this daily dilemma. Decide to simplify your meals. Ask everyone in your family what are their favorite meals. Decide what themes would work well, such as Taco Tuesday or Pizza Friday. Post the intended meals on the frig so everyone knows what to expect and how to help. Look at your activities for the week. Soup and sandwiches might be best for an evening with later activities. You can decide to do something to eliminate the last-minute rush to the drive thru. Or you can plan that and not feel guilty about it!

    Perhaps the holidays bring a sense of being confused and overwhelmed to you. Give yourself grace to determine what “have a happy holiday” means to you. Let that be your filter as you decide what to do in the coming weeks. It doesn’t have to look like last year and it certainly doesn’t have to look like a staged magazine article. There is no “one-size-fits-all” for celebrating holidays. Let your values, your season of life, and your personal resources be your compass. Have confidence in determining what works best for you! No apologies necessary.

    Values and goals.

    Decisions and actions.

    That is how you get past confusion.

    Give yourself the gift of a no-confusion holiday!

  • 29 Oct 2019 1:25 PM | Deleted user

    You may not be rich or famous — but you are an influencer!

    It doesn’t matter if you make the evening news or the front-page headlines. You change your corner of the world by the decisions, choices, and actions that you make every day. You can make decisions that bring chaos, confusion, and frustration or you can make decisions that bring peace, contentment, and joy.

    Having a measure of order and efficiency is not just reserved for a chosen few. It is available to anyone who is willing to accept change and a fresh perspective. Too often we settle for the way things have always been. We replay failed attempts and mistakenly assume that future attempts will automatically be the same. That simply isn’t fair or true.

    My one my favorite childhood memories was watching the yearly replay of “Cinderella” on TV. This was before VHS and DVDs! I loved singing “in my own little corner, in my own little chair, I can be whatever I want to be!” And even as an adult, I still sing those words. I can make small changes in my corner of the world that enable me to live the life I want to live.


    I can make changes so that I am an organized person.

    I can make changes so that I am a dependable person.

    I can make changes so that I am a generous person.

    I can make changes so that I am a productive person.

    I can make changes so that I am a gracious person.


    One way to change your corner of the world is to significantly reduce the quantity of items in your home. We tend to use 20% of our stuff 80% of the time. In other words, a lot of stuff is simply hanging out, taking up room, demanding your space, time, and energy. Just last night, I pulled about 20 books from my shelves that simply were no longer relevant in my life. I enjoyed the satisfaction of being able to acknowledge that while these books had served a purpose in my life, I wasn’t obligated to keep them forever! I’m glad to pass them along for someone else to use. As a bonus, I changed up the arrangement of the remaining books and enjoyed the extra space. I changed a corner of my world!

    I once helped a client change the arrangement of almost everything in her laundry room. We emptied every shelf and drawer, tossed the items she no longer used, and rearranged the remaining items into zones according to their use. It was refreshing to see how these changes made the room easier to use!

    It became easier to sort and fold the laundry. It became easier to find particular items. It became easier to know exactly what she needed to purchase at the store. She changed a corner of her world!

    I helped another client change an extra bedroom that had essentially become a storage area. We worked through each pile making decisions about keeping, donating, selling, or trashing the items.

    We put the remaining items together in labeled bins. The exciting part was when we saw that the lovely daybed was clear and empty and ready to be used for overnight guests. She changed a corner of her world!

    Each one of these success stories creates momentum for more change. Once you realize that you are pleasantly surprised by the change, you have the courage to step into another area of your home and make another change. Once you get started, it is easier to keep moving!

    That Pareto principle applies to your clothing, too. You tend to wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time. Deciding to have less clothes will immediately bring very pleasant results into your life. You will spend less time doing laundry, you will spend less mental energy deciding what to wear every morning, and it will be easier to put clean clothes away.  It might be interesting to put together your favorite 5 work outfits, 5 dress-up outfits, 5 jeans, 5 casual tops, and 5 sweaters—or whatever amounts and categories make sense for your life. Box up the extra and set in the garage for a month. Less clothes just might mean less stress, less chaos, and less work. What a lovely way to change your corner of the world!

    When you intentionally change your corner of the world, you create more time for enjoying your family and friends and for doing what matters most to you. You are being an influence for good for you!

     “You can’t go back and change the beginning, 

    But you can start where you are and change the ending.”    C. S. Lewis

  • 30 Sep 2019 2:33 PM | Deleted user

    What is one of the fastest growing segments of the US commercial real estate market?


    a. Luxury Homes

    b. Smart Homes

    c. Tiny Homes

    d. Self-Storage Facilities


    The surprising answer is “self-storage facilities!”

    And www.selfstorage.org reports the annual revenue at $36,000,000,000 — 36 billion dollars!

    That happens to be more than the revenue of the NFL & MLB combined — yikes!

    There are approximately 48,500 storage units in the US — more than all the McDonalds & Starbucks!

    All of this is absolutely C-R-A-Z-Y!


    Which leads me to the following observations:



    1. I am not your friend.
    2. I take your peace of mind.
    3. I cannot make your stuff more valuable.
    4. I cannot prevent your stuff from deteriorating.
    5. I cannot guarantee that your stuff won’t be stolen.
    6. I cannot protect your stuff from critters and rodents.
    7. I cannot protect your stuff from extreme weather conditions.
    8. I cannot guarantee that you will eventually still want your stuff.
    9. I do not solve clutter problems.
    10. I actually create more problems for you.


    There may be temporary situations where renting a self-storage unit for your personal items is the only option. However, in many situations, another option would be first to eliminate the excess by selling it, donating to a local charity, sharing with a friend, or even setting it at your curb for free pick-up. 

    You will feel a tremendous sense of relief when you finally close the door on an empty storage unit.


    Delaying making a decision doesn’t really serve your best interest.

    Living with less and living with limits can be a very good thing!  


  • 29 Aug 2019 1:21 PM | Janet Jackson

    As I shared in an earlier newsletter, this was a BUSY spring and summer! First, my daughter and motivation behind Organization Solutions, graduated high school and soon begins college. As if that wasn’t enough, I have also been working on a national project. Let me explain that one a little more…

    The National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals (NAPO) is our industry’s leading professional association. They promote our industry as well as provide education to new and veteran professionals like me. In addition to offering an industry certification, they offer several "Specialist Certificate" tracks. I was honored to be asked to develop and deliver course #2 in their "Team Productivity Specialist Certificate" track. NAPO members around the world will be viewing "Time
    Planning to Enhance Team Productivity" as they seek to grow their skills and help their clients. (Horn officially tooted) Fortunately, the development process includes a review team so there were great minds contributing to the session.

    For the majority of you who are not a Productivity & Organizing Professional, let me share just a quick analogy from the session that I also share in my workshop,
    A Better Way to Manage Your Workday:

    Time management is a lot like money management. With money, when you find yourself struggling to make ends meet, you essentially have 3 choices:

         1.     Make more
         2.     Manage it better
         3.     Spend less

    Unfortunately, with time, none of us can actually make more. There are a finite number of minutes in every day. However, we can get the same result by learning how to manage it better or figure out how to do things more efficiently, thus spending less. Here are three of my favorite tips that you can implement immediately to help you manage your time better or spend it less:

    1.)Have a plan: Budget your time the way you budget your money. Go into each month with a plan of how you want to spend your days. It’s a lot easier to make progress when you plan it ahead of time rather than squeezing it in between appointments.

    2.) Spend less time dealing with interruptions: Especially in regard to notifications, turn them off! Email, social media, text alerts, etc. They will all still be there when you choose to view them. For those that you can keep off permanently, do. For others, consider turning them off for a brief period of time to help you focus. (A-ha! Tip: Windows 10 has a "Focus Assist" feature in their tool set to help you do just that!)

    3.) Don’t schedule more than ½ your day (or week): Yes, I share this tip often. It really is important enough to share again. You can’t be organized or productive if you’re never in your office, working.

    Do those three things and you will be tooting your own horn as well with all of your accomplishments!!

    May you have blessings and balance,

    Janet Jackson




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