Sue McMillin
Sue McMillin
Organizing Consultant & Speaker

With Time to Spare

Organize to Make Life Easier


Getting organized can be a daunting task, but you don’t have to do it alone.

Streamline your office. Do you have a strategy for organizing your paper and electronic files? Learn proven techniques on how to better manage your information and save an hour a day. Visit Office Transformations to see success stories.

Simplify your home. Do you know what to keep and what to throw away? Learn practical steps on how to gain more space, save more money and reduce stress. Visit Home Transformations.

I’m passionate about creating an organized workplace and a peaceful home so you can make life easier and be more productive. Even though the new year is behind us, it’s always a great time to get organized.Take a look around at the online posts and articles, books and Facebook. Learn how I come alongside clients through services including presentations, seminars, workshops and hands-on coaching. Whether in your office or home, I’d love to help bring order to your surroundings.Take advantage of With Time To Spare’s book discounts and get If I File It, Can I Find It? and Organized! How to Create a Happier Home, Family, and Life for half price.




Now that the dust has settled…

~In our first installment, we organized and tweaked the student’s desk to make it a more functional space.  In this second installment, we will deal with the student backpack.

Second stop: The backpack

A quick inspection might reveal that the typical student backpack is too heavy and full of unused junk; in short, a place screaming out for order!  It can so quickly devolve into a messy space that loses all functionality.sort and contain 2

  • First step: Clean it out completely. Open up all the side pockets, the zippered pouches and the nooks and crannies and really clean it out.  You will probably find a ton of stuff that just has no reason to be in the backpack to begin with.
  • Next step: Pack it only with essentials. Use all the pockets and zippered areas to their fullest potential.
  • Now that your student has been in school for a few weeks have they expressed a need for a personal organizer or planner? This would be their on-the-go mission control complete with spaces for assignments, “reminder” pages, and important notes.  So find them a good planner and put it in the backpack along with some other important essentials.
  • These essentials might include their laptop, books, computer charger, their notebooks and binders, chapstick, sunglasses, and a pouch full of pencils, pens, and the all-important highlighters.

The key to conquering the bulky backpack is “less is best.” They will need all available space for school books and assignments that they will bring home to do their homework.

Check in next time when we conquer the disorder in a typical student locker!



Pop Quiz : To what catastrophic event in America’s past was President Calvin Coolidge referring when he said this in 1925? “…This waste results from the conditions which justify a sense of shame and horror; for the greater part of it could and ought to be prevented… It is highly desirable that every effort be made to reform the conditions which have made possible so vast a destruction of the national wealth.”

Answer: The Great Chicago fire of 1871 which killed 300 people, destroyed 3.3 square miles, and left over 100,000 homeless.


National Fire Prevention Week is celebrated this week in the United States and Canada. “Fire Prevention Week commemorates the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. On the 40th anniversary (1911) of the Great Chicago Fire, the Fire Marshals Association of North America sponsored the first National Fire Prevention Day, deciding to observe the anniversary as a way to keep the public informed about the importance of fire prevention.” (

Now, here is a startling statistic: Only 1% of fires occur in homes labeled “hoarder houses”, but a shocking 24% of deaths from house fires occur in those hoarder homes. This could be due to the fact that there is a ton more fuel in a hoarder house as opposed to a typical home. Add to this the inability of the hoarder to access easy egress from a hoarder home, and you have a recipe for disaster. A staggering 5% of the population, or roughly 16 million people, suffer from hoarding disorders.

Mayo Clinic psychologists who specialize in hoarding disorders define Compulsive Hoarding as a syndrome that refers to people who acquire items to an excessive degree, which may or may not be of use to them, plus the inability to discard said items. Many people may associate hoarding with laziness or being a pack rat, but it’s more serious than that, says Sanjaya Saxena, MD, director of the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders Program at the University of California in San Diego. “It is, in fact, a neuropsychiatric disorder that will not get better unless the person is treated.”

Besides the visible signs of hoarding like clutter in the home and difficulty discarding items, many hoarders share behavioral symptoms such as shame, embarrassment, self-imposed isolation from friends and family, and excessive emotional attachment to inanimate objects. They have difficulty managing and organizing not only their items, but also their daily activities, which can lead to procrastination and falling behind on important responsibilities. Hoarders typically stockpile items they feel have some sort of future use or sentimental value. (

According to Smith College psychologist Randy Frost, co-author of the book, Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things, and expert on obsessive-compulsive disorder and a pioneer in the field of compulsive hoarding, hoarding among the elderly may be a consequence of the deprivation they experienced during the Great Depression or WW II. They save everything, keep broken appliances, won’t part with worthless items and acquire more things regularly at garage sales.

Sometimes adult children will continue the hoarding, Frost said, especially when they are confronting the eventual loss of a parent. They figure they can sort through the clutter at a later time. But what’s actually occurring is that they are starting to become hoarders themselves, Frost said. There may even be a genetic connection to hoarding, he noted. (Huffington Post)

Now, while most of us don’t struggle with the stigma of being a hoarder, many of us struggle with clutter and other behaviors that steal time and joy from our lives. Examples of these behaviors include lack of time management, procrastination, excessive acquisition or excessive shopping, the inability to make decisions, and the fear of letting things go.

One of the joys of my job as a professional organizer is that I love to come alongside my clients and help them journey through these challenges with clutter, disorganization and other behaviors that rob them of joy and time.

Why not celebrate National Fire Prevention Week by taking that first step. Give me a call, and I will come alongside you and help you with your clutter and disorder. I even offer Virtual Organizing now, so you can benefit from my 30+ years of organizing via the computer for a very reasonable price. Not only will you gain precious time when you organize your life, but you will gain peace of mind, as well.