Sue McMillin
Sue McMillin
Organizing Consultant & Speaker
719-495-7626

With Time to Spare

Organize to Make Life Easier

Welcome!

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.

 

 

 

Or why you don’t want to discover you have 119 eyeliners and you lose 57 bras.

A while back I read a great article by Mark Shead, a seasoned blogger, about organizing your desk. I’ve picked 3 of his 12 tips that point to critical organizing maxims, truths that transcend the specifics of our desks and speak to wider issues in our offices and homes.

“1. Get rid of pens and pencils you don’t need. I have one type of pen I like to use, but every month or so my pencil holder gets filled up with other random writing instruments. If you aren’t going to use it, don’t feel bad about throwing it out. It is just clutter. The less clutter you have, the closer you are to having an organized desk.”

I once organized an office in the DC area and the man had 87 pens in his desk! Who needs 87 pens? But pens aren’t the only culprit. One man at the USDA had two drawers filled with napkins. One gal at Kodak had 11 glue sticks. A lobbyist in DC had 119 eyeliners in her bedroom dresser. I guess you never know when you may need a good eyeliner! And how about this bedroom closet decluttering surprise: the discovery of 57 lost bras.

Bottom line: Eliminate and consolidate or you will accumulate! We have too much stuff. So much stuff it’s blocking out light and air. And it’s not just the light and air, accumulation of stuff translates higher supply costs – $100 per year per employee. And the cost of those 57 bras — who can guess!

“6. Scanning documents. This is something I’m experimenting with. I have a scanner and I’ll turn important documents into PDFs and keep them on my computer. I use OCR so the documents are searchable. This is wonderful if you travel a lot because it keeps everything right there with you. The problem is trying to figure out what to scan and what can just be filed. If you are good at guessing what you’ll want to have electronically this can work very well. I haven’t figured out how accurate I am just yet. Keeping papers off your desk is an important part of desk organization.”

Sounds good, right? Two things to keep in mind that the scanner companies don’t tell you. First, your scanner can’t tell you which documents to scan. You might be scanning clutter into your computer! Second, your scanner can’t tell you where to store that image. Putting 100 or 1000 images of digital documents into digital folders can create its own nightmare when it comes to finding a specific document.

Bottom line: you need a personalized file-mapping system — an organizational structure for your paper and digital files, plus your emails, that mirrors your work processes. The system I teach is called FileMap® which allows you to find any file is 15 seconds or less!

“12. Organize as you go. As we discussed the Iron Chef Fable, it is more efficient to stay organized as you work instead of trying to do it all at the end. You should be constantly working on keeping your desk neat. If it gets disorganized in the middle of a big project, take small steps. Clear a 1 foot by 1 foot area before you leave for the day. Making a small effort toward organization may not seem like much, but if you do it everyday, it will keep things headed in the right direction for you.”

I call this step maintenance.  Here’s a simple rule-of-thumb for maintaining the order in your office. For every hour that you work, spend one minute maintaining or organizing as you go. Then, 4x a year, spend a whole day just going through all the stuff you have accumulated.

Bottom line: It only takes a small amount of consistent effort each day to maintain the organization of a desk, office, kitchen, bedroom closet or garage.

 

Here is a fabulous letter that I just received from a very happy client:

“After 30 years of collecting file after file, with stacks of papers everywhere in my home office and elsewhere, and books everywhere, I desperately needed help getting organized and focused.

That’s where Sue was a miracle worker! With the help of virtual organizing using pictures and computer and FaceTime, she came in with direct, simple, but extremely helpful ideas that helped me so much!

First she guided me through the categorization of all my files which I then implemented and purged the unnecessary. Beautiful!

Finally we took all my many stacks of loose papers and organized them into just three stackable paper holders that leads to clarity and positive action. Great!

Then I went through books and cleared out the lesser ones to focus on my best ones. Sue is excellent at what she does and I found her assistance in getting my office organized invaluable.

I enthusiastically commend her to you!

Andy Farina
Navigators, Staff & Personal Trainer”

~

Read more about more about Virtual Organizing.

Once in a while I hear something that makes me think of the Wizard of Oz and Dorothy’s traveling companions. They truly wanted to help Dorothy, but each of them thought they were lacking in something essential. Lion wanted nerve. Scarecrow a brain. Tin Man desired a heart. And they sang a similar chorus, “If I only had…”

Today, there’s no wizard to find, no flying monkeys to avoid, no witch to defeat. But I still hear a chorus of ifs that are just as troubling.

OK, I can hear some of you now. “Sue, hold on a sec! What in the world does the Wizard of Oz have to do with being organized?”

“If I only had more space!” says the mom.

“If I only had more time!” adds the dad.

“If we only had more money!” cries the kids.

Believe it or not, in more than three decades of organizing homes and offices across the country, I have never found any of my clients who genuinely had lack of space or time or money.  Don’t misunderstand me. I hear clients say this all the time and many of them believe it is true. “If I only had…” is a built-in mindset of the human condition, isn’t it?

It isn’t easy for any of us to face the seemingly stark reality of our personal situations, that the root cause of our inability to manage our lives lies squarely within ourselves — in that guy or gal we look at in the mirror each day. Just like with Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man. And Dorothy, too. Remember the ruby slippers? The ability to go home had been within her power and on her own two feet ever since her house set down on the Wicked Witch of the East.

New Year’s approaching and it’s a great time to face yourself in the mirror and change your thinking. Stop saying, “if only…” and start saying “with only…”

  • With only a little bit of space, you can organize a closet using every wall surface to it’s fullest potential with hooks for hanging and installing more shelving.
  • With only a little bit of time, you can organize your kitchen or desk by setting aside 15 minutes a day and in two weeks it’s done.
  • With only a little bit of money, you can organize a whole house. I once decluttered and organized a four-bedroom home in Utah using only $55 of boxes and containers.

It’s not the lack of space, time or money that’s our enemy, it’s how we think about what we already have. So transform your thinking from “If only…” to “With only…” and just imagine what you can accomplish!

Have a merry Christmas. I hope to hear your success stories in the New Year.

Thanksgiving

Here we are, two days away from Thanksgiving 2014! Where did this year go? As you have no doubt experienced, time is quickly draining out of the hourglass marked 2014. With that in mind, let’s talk turkey about Thanksgiving and its meanings and traditions.

I talk alot about time and the efficient use of it. The very best use of time is to invest it. One great way to wisely invest your time is by creating lasting family traditions.

And now, with Thanksgiving approaching, one long-standing tradition for most Americans comes easily to mind: a beautiful dinner table laden with delicious traditional foods and surrounded by dear family and friends. Thanksgiving, of all the holidays, is one of the most family-oriented and least commercialized holiday, and for that I am thankful!

Smiles and laughter balanced with reflection and celebration. The perfect combo. This Thanksgiving marks 151 Thanksgivings that we have celebrated as a nation. And we’ve never missed a single one!

On a personal level, my Thanksgiving traditions have taken on new life as of late. In 2007, I discovered my biological family who all live in Kentucky. All of them live far away except for one first cousin who lives down the road in Westcliffe, Colorado. My new tradition is that I go to their home for Thanksgiving, and as a special treat, we go into the national forest, usually in deep snow and cut down their Christmas tree.

 

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We load it on the truck and bring it home for the Christmas holidays.

 

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Now that is one cool tradition that I absolutely love!

 

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If you need some fresh ideas on starting your own fun and inspirational family traditions, try these websites to jump start your imagination:

1. Start a Family Tradition! “8 wonderful ways to create family memories, beginning in your baby’s first year.” (by Sascha Zuger at parenting.com)

2. The importance of family traditions. “As families become more fragmented and disconnected, there is less time and opportunity to enjoy the simple traditions that were once a natural part of family life.” (by Karen Banes at Hubpages)

3. Meaningful Family Traditions Strengthen Family “Family traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world.”- Susan Lieberman

Have any great ideas that you have used and are worth sharing. Let me know!

And have a fabulous Thanksgiving.

time

In Part 1  and Part 2 of this series I provided significant quotes and thoughts from my books about time.

In this final segment of the series, I leave you with two more timely quotes:

  • “You might say, “I don’t have enough time!” But I say, “You have all the time there is.” 

Are you thinking from a misplaced paradigm? Are you thinking, “I don’t have enough time”? If so, look at that statement from another perspective and begin to realize that you have all the time there is.  When you see time from that perspective, it changes everything, and you begin managing your time based on another paradigm. All of a sudden, time takes on a whole new meaning, which in turn affects how you spend your time and handle your schedule.

Time management is a misnomer. You can’t manage time. You can only manage the events of your life or your priorities. You can’t save time or enhance time; you can’t buy it, sell it, store it, loan it, multiply it, change it, manufacture it, or rent it. You can only spend time.

Realize that you have all the time you need to accomplish what God created you to accomplish. After all, He’s the creator of you and your day. He not only orchestrates the dance of the planets, the stars, and the cosmos, but He is intricately interested in your every day. He is the originator of time, and He can guide you best in the most productive use of your time. As you respond to His timetable, projects begin to get done in record time. Why? Because you are doing His projects His way, not just doing activities that produce nothing. –If I file it, can I find it?

 

  •  And finally regarding the wonderful benefit of organization~~ You will have time to spare:

“E.B. White, the author of Charlotte’s Web, once said, ‘One of the most time-consuming things is to have an enemy.’ Viewing disorder and disarray as enemies to be defeated will serve us greatly in our battle. When the battle rages and we win the war against disorganization, one of the great benefits is that we have much more time—time to do cool things with our kids. Isn’t that what the essence of family is all about? Time spent with kids and family is our most precious commodity, and we always desire more of it. Who among you have ever lamented, “Oh, if only I had a few more hours in the day!” Well, one wonderful result of organization is that this can become a reality. You can have “time to spare.” ~Organized

Enjoy your spare time today as you pursue all that your day holds.

And remember, I can come alongside you to help you in your organization. Let’s gain that spare time you so richly deserve.

Contact me for ideas and we can also work virtually using your computer, pictures and FaceTime. Let’s do this!

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Time ~ The Fourth Dimension ~ Part 2

In part 1 of this series, I gave you three indicators of effective time management.

Now, let’s turn our attention to three concepts about time:

  •  Concerning a mistaken belief that some people have

“Why are so many people disorganized? Good question! If order and organization are so wonderful, why don’t more people practice these principles?

Disorder actually occurs in epidemic proportions. It is a rampant fact of life.

Some folks would say that they are disorganized because they have no time. Little do they realize that their lack of organization is costing them much more time than the time it would take to organize.” (Organized)

  •  On the subject of gaining time at work:

“You will gain ½ -1 hour of time each day simply because you are no longer going through your work to get to your work.

No longer hunting for your work, it will be accessible and easy to find.” ~ If IFile It, Can I Find It?

  • In regards to taking time for yourself:

“When you plan a block of time each day and each week for yourself, you are caring for yourself and others directly. The time you allot for yourself does not have to be rigid; just try to give yourself some free time each day and week. It is healthy.

Your mind will be free to dream and create and your body will be refreshed with new energy.

You may ask, “How can I possibly give up an hour a day, one day a week, and exercise, rest, and eat right?” Again, you must see that time for yourself is important.

There are four main areas that will be affected positively as you accomplish these objectives: your health, your family, your outside activities and your relationships.” ~ Organized

 

clockThis past weekend Americans set their clocks back one hour as we ended Daylight Saving Time; many look at this as getting that one extra hour of sleep that they crave. It’s interesting to note that the idea of daylight saving was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin in 1784. The main purpose of Daylight Saving Time is to utilize the daylight better. We change our clocks during the summer months to move an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening.

Denis Waitely, American author and keynote lecturer, is one of my favorite authors on time management.  I love his quote: “Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can’t buy more hours. Scientists can’t invent new minutes. And you can’t save time to spend it on another day. Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you’ve wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow.”

So just what is effective time management? Here are three indicators you are using time wisely.

  • You achieve your goals. “You must set aside some specific and significant portions of time, money and energy devoted to attaining your goal. Furthermore, it is important to set aside a little time and a few resources every single day. Do not wait for the large periods of time and money to devote to your larger goals as a family. Setting aside a little each day will help you move slowly and steadily towards the goal. In addition, it will help keep you focused on what you have decided is truly important.” (From Rubble to Reward)
  • You get organized. “Becoming organized has wonderful benefits. It brings a sense of stability and peace. Where there is order, there is peace; and real order liberates rather than confines… Accomplishments increase and all of a sudden you feel good about yourself. Your productivity on the job increases as does your sense of well-being and self-worth. Guilt subsides, along with procrastination and worry. Perhaps most importantly, you have more free time for you. The more efficient and effective you become, the easier things are to get done. Therefore, you have more time to pursue other goals and interests.” (Organized)
  • You complete tasks. “Do one thing at a time. This means that when you are working on a project, before starting another, put away the first project. If you fail to do this, your first project becomes a distraction. Finish fully what you start. Or, finish fully a segment of what you have started. For example, finish the paragraph of a report before starting another report, finish folding the laundry before starting supper. Ask yourself, “What is the best use of my time right now?” (Organized)

 

Now that the dust has settled…

In the last three installments we organized and tweaked the student desk, the backpack and the locker.

Today we will deal with the final place where disorder often reigns:  The Student Notebook

Stop Four: The Student Notebook

Has your student’s notebook already devolved into an overstuffed, disorderly mess in just this past month?

 

  •  Some students like to have a separate notebook for each class, but I feel that it is very advantageous to use just one binder for all their subjects as this will ensure that they have all the necessary material with them for whichever class they are attending.  If they have just one notebook with all their subjects they will not have to endure that sinking feeling that most students have experienced where they sit down in their class, look in their backpack and discover that they left their important homework and other class documents in their locker.
  • Hopefully, your student started out the school year organizing the notebook with index dividers. If not, consider this. These essential dividers come in every color of the rainbow, clear, or sprinkled with graphics. These dividers will separate their subjects with ease. Dividers come with handy little tabs that perfectly fit into the window separator. Label each divider with the class the student is registered for. You may even want to put them in order of the classes’ times, from earliest to latest, as they progress through the notebook in a school day.
  • Another must-have for the notebook, if you don’t already have one, is a zippered notebook pouch. This three-holed pouch securely holds calculator, pens, ruler, compass, and protractor.
  • Some schools provide an academic planner for their students. If you have not already done so, place this behind the zippered pouch. If it is not three-hole punched, do it yourself with your hole puncher.
  • Of course, you need make sure your student has plenty of loose-leaf paper to place between the dividers.

Encourage your student to maintain their organizational system with their papers and notebook. After each class encourage them to take a moment to replace their papers into the proper division, and keep their system intact.  This step only takes a moment, but the benefits of keeping their papers and homework organized in their binder are legion.

As a teacher for 25 years, I could always tell the students that had their notebooks organized.  They would walk into class with a smile, sit down, open their notebooks, and pull out their beautifully organized homework ready to turn in at the beginning of class.  They had learned the benefits of organization early, and they would be successful, I felt, as they continued on into college where organization was an absolutely essential element to success.

So, as a parent you can help your student and guide them in these essential exercises of applying organization to their desks, their backpacks, their lockers and their notebook binders.  They may push back a bit or argue that they don’t need these tips, but with a little love and encouragement you can insist that they apply these principles to their domain.  Their academic life will benefit greatly, I guarantee it!

 

 

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Sue’s story continues as we see Sue hearing from the Lord and praying about traveling for her work.  This chapter takes us out West and into foreign and domestic places far and wide.

As Sue puts it, “…when I launched this business, I couldn’t have dreamed of the people and places it would involve. In New Hampshire I organized an antique dealer’s new home and office; in Texas I worked with a tree farmer in her business; church offices in Alabama and California were on my schedule, and I even organized a kitchen for a Christian retreat center in Canada. From pastors to high-powered executives, from the D.C. area to the “Wild West,” from the homemaker’s kitchen to a college campus, I never ceased to wonder at the ways He chose to work.”

Read the latest installment here.