Thursday, April 30, 2009

Creating the Ultimate Experience

Attending the annual conference and expo for the National Association for Professional Organizers (NAPO) is proving to be remarkable. I will admit I was quite nervous about coming. For the first time in years, my confidence was a bit off.

When I arrived and registered, that all changed!

At this point, I have no idea what I was nervous over. I am meeting some great people. Learning a bit about the future of business. And making some GREAT connections with a few of the sponsors. (we're talking about a national speaking gig in Vegas and spokeman opportunity with Rubbermaid!!)

At the opening keynote address, Scott McKain did an amazing job talking about what clients really want when they make a purchase. It truly is not the pizza, new tires or organized garage purchased that satisfies your customer. A rude waiter will ruin the tastiest burger, crispiest fries and refreshingest ale. Providing an amazing experience to your customer, will create an emotional connection.

Scott asked each of us to ask our clients a question. Please take a moment and think about this. I can only get better with your input:

If you could describe the ultimate organizing experience, what would that be?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Just The Facts Ma'am

"In God we trust; All others bring data."
~ W. Edwards Deming


"When in doubt, bombared them with data," a former engineer at Ford use to tell me all the time.

Hey, either way information is king. Browsing through the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) website I found these little tid-bits:

- 80% of what we keep we never use.

- Getting rid of clutter eliminates 40% of housework in an average home.

- The average American burns 55 minutes a day – roughly 12 days a year – looking for things they know they own but can’t find.

- Employees spend roughly 25% to 35% of their time looking for the information they need to do their jobs.

- 50% of homeowners rate the garage as the most disorganized place in the house.

- 23% of adults say they pay bills late (incuring fees) because they lose them.

- We wear 20% of the clothes we own 80% of the time. The rest just hangs there, just in case.

- IKEA survey found that 31% of people are more satisfied after cleaning out their closets than they were with sex. (my personal favorite statistic EVER!)

Oh there are a ton more, but I would hate to bombard you with info.

What is one of your favorite stats?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Make Millions or Enjoy Happiness?

It was a beautiful sunny morning as I walked about downtown Plymouth, Michigan looking for a place to munch some lunch before an appointment with a client.

So, many tasty places to eat in this quaint little city, though I was drawn to Jimmy John's. One of my favorite memories is when a college roommate yelled, "Where's my sub?" the week of finals my senior year, as the rest of us arrived to our apartment with freaky fresh subs from Jimmy John's.

As I sat munching my #4, I turned to the wall at my table and read this story:
How Much Is Enough?

The American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, only a little while.

The American then asked why he didn't stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs.

The American then asked, "but what do you do with the rest of your time?"

The Mexican fisherman said,
"I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life."

The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise."

The Mexican fisherman asked, "But, how long will this take?"

To which the American replied, "15-20 years."

"But what then?"

The American laughed and said that's the best part. "When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions."

"Millions?" asked the fisherman, "Then what?"

The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evening, sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos!"

Hmmm ... The object of this game called life isn't about accumulation, it's about doing what makes you happy.
Living within your means.
Enjoying yourself.
Having some fun!

What will you be doing 10 years from now?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Too Much Stuff

"Things come in, but nothing EVER goes out!" cried "Kathy" as I sat in her home with her husband talking about what can be done to get a grip of their home. They have lived in their home over 30 years, slowly items built up. The time had come to let go.

"I know there is stuff that has not been touched in YEARS," "Bill" exclaimed. We need help to get rid of some of these items. I was ready to help this wonderful couple feel better about their home.

As with all projects (this one or your own), we walked through the home and took notes of any thoughts and comments about each room: items to stay, things to go, what the room should look like when finished.

A bedroom was the first area we needed to conquer. This had become a catch all room for items, some gifts others purpose or function in the home had past. Grabbed a chair for Kathy to sit down and we went to work.

I pulled items out of the closet, she shared a memory and let it go. It was not easy for her, though as we continued to work she began to feel better about what we were accomplishing. "Wow! I had no idea there was that much stuff in this little room that we were not even using anymore." Items were bagged/boxed up and loading into my car for donation. Quick sweep of the floor and the room looked bright and shiny.

The next spare bedroom had a lot of empty boxes that were easily crushed and packed for recycling. Kathy and Bill had gone through the closet and created a "safe area" of clothing to keep.

The remainder was to be donated. The safe area clothing was returned to the closet. Christmas decorations were consolidated into fewer boxes. Personal family memorabilia was set aside for future review. With the extra space in the closet, the luggage was tucked away. Another sweeping of the floor and another bright and shiny room to enjoy. Ready for a family sleepover.

This project was quite a challenge for Kathy. It was quite difficult for her to let go of the items she had accumulated over the years. She wanted to clear up the space and knew she needed a bit of help.

I encouraged them to keep in mind: If a new item comes into the home, an item must leave (2 if they want to gain ground on the clutter battle).

What have you brought into your home and what went out?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Getting Garages Ready For Anything

Spring is here and perhaps one of your lingering projects is your garage. All winter long, items have been tossed and dropped as you scurry into your warm home.

"Terry" had wanted to do something with her garage, but could not figure out her plan. She has a great big open canvas to work with, so it really came down what items she would be storing in this area: car maintenance/cleaning, garden supplies, outdoor decor and golfing equipment.

Terry knew she wanted everything tucked away nice and neat, so cabinets were the perfect choice. Once the design was sorted out and the installation complete, all Terry's items were placed into their new home ready for action.

Another area that needed some attention was Terry's garage walls. Walls are the area that is rarely used to their full potential because the biggest concern is "How do I keep stuff from pulling out of the walls?"

A great solution to this is a product called Storwall. Once the panels are attached to the wall studs, you can load up these bad boys with all sorts of gear. There are a variety of accessories available that kinda snap into the tracks of the panels. As your needs change, you can easily reposition your items.

Terry's garage is now ready for action. Whatever she needs has a home, neatly tucked away though easily accessible.

Is your garage ready for fun?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Finding A Home For Everything

Sometimes it takes a fresh set of eyes
to see the possibilities before you.

"Joanne" had a great storage area in her basement for a hodgepodge of items: fishing poles/gear, sports equipment and household tools.

Joanne wanted this area to look neat and tidy with a spot for everything. After grouping the items into Fishing, Sports and Tools, we were ready to plan the transformation.

The floor was finished with an epoxy coating and Storewall was added to the walls to organize all the fishing and sports gear. The garden tools and golf bags were moved to the garage to be stored on racks and in cabinets.

Finally, the tools used regularly were stored on a pegboard easily vi sable to grab and go as needed. A Muscle Rack was brought in to hold the weight of Joanne's tool chest and her other tool cases.

When Joanne returned home and saw the transformation, she was quite pleased: "Everything has a home!"

Next time you are stumped on any sort of problem, step away and have a fresh set of eyes look at it. Let them give their opinion and see if they can help you solve your dilemma.

What's got you stumped?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Ooh, I Have A Desk Top

"This has got to go" Elaine said to me as we stood in her office looking at the piles of papers stacked on and around her desk.

She could not spare a large chuck of time out of her work day, plus she had a budget to keep within. Knowing what we had to work with, the plan was to break her office organizing project into short and small tasks. Slowly working our way toward how "Elaine" envisions her office to be.

Our first task is the desk top. Magazines, articles, receipts, notes, messages and bills covered both desktops and needed to be conquered. Elaine worked along side me. As I sorted out the papers into piles, she would grab one of the sorted stacks and see if she needed any of those papers. This method speeds up the organizing process.

Once the desks were cleared, they got a good wipe down and we began placing items back on the desks. Elaine was not able to sort through all the paper stacked in the short 3 hours I was there, though she now had 6 stacks of papers to take with her to sort through at her convenience. Each stack should take 20-30 minutes for her to go through.

- If the papers or items are used within the week, they can be placed on top of the desk (in an appropriate vertical filing system).
- If the things are used monthly, they can be place in the desk drawers.
- Anything not touched within a month, should be in a file cabinet.

There may be an exception to these, though they pretty much will hold true.

Amazed at how quickly her desktop was found, Elaine is now motivated to continue the conquest of her office.

What are you looking to declare victory from?

Friday, April 03, 2009

Oh Bother ... Are You Mixed Up?

"Organizing is what you do
before you do something,
so that when you do it,

it is not all mixed up."
A.A. Milne

What's all mixed up for you?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Eyeballs In Coffee??

I love practical jokes!

Some of my most successful ones:
- Switching all the letters on a keyboard
- Removing all the lightbulbs out of an apartment
- Signing a "friend" up for a special visitor at 6am
- Filling a coworker's desk with those styrofoam peanuts

All in good fun, right? I've had some doozies pulled on me, too.
So in honor of April Fool's Day ... how about a quiz?

Your Prank Is: Putting eyeballs in your friend's coffee

What prank should you play?

Hmmm ... wonder where I can get some eyeballs ...

What prank have you played out?