Dear Miss Organized,
Hi, my name is Betty and I’m a wife, mother of two spirited little girls and a budding photographer. There are many areas in my home that need help. We have way too much stuff not in a home. As a result our home is disorganized and untidy. Aside from a long shelf right at the front door that has become the dumping ground for everything, my biggest stress spots are my kitchen and my office, especially the paper in the office. Staying on top of incoming mail and bills seems to be getting harder and harder to do. Now that I have my own business, what’s now on my plate has doubled and hardly any time to deal with it and even if I did, I wouldn’t even know where to start. I feel like I’m on the fast track to burnout and I’m afraid it will hurt my new business.
Signed Burnt out Betty
Most of my clients are mompreneurs. When a mompreneur calls me who is struggling with disorganization, there is a very good chance she is also struggling with managing papers. In fact, the three bottlenecks I have found consistently in the homes of my mompreneur clients are managing papers, kid’s toys and laundry. If you are a mompreneur reading this right now, I am willing to bet you just said a resounding, “yep” to yourself.
Being a mompreneur myself, as my business picked up so did the amount of information I had to manage. From papers and emails to calendaring and maintaining a client database, I often found myself staying up till 2 am trying to manage it all. Quickly realizing that this was the fastest way to burnout, a known business killer, I put my efficiency skills to the test and created systems that would enable me to get more work done quicker and with less stress. After months of creating, testing, refining and adding to, I created a simple paper and email management system that has boosted my productivity to a level I didn’t even realize was possible.
When I began to see how many of my mompreneur clients were struggling with paper, I started sharing with them the paper and email management system I had created. Then something completely unexpected happened. They started organizing their own offices without the need of my help. I couldn’t believe it. It was happening over and over and over again. Then I realized why. Getting their emails and papers under control removed so much stress off their shoulders that their energy reserves started to fill again. This gave them the energy they needed to organize their space and do it from a focused, decisive state of mind instead of a stressed out and overwhelmed one.
When Betty came to me, I quickly assessed that the condition of her office was holding her back in her business. She shared with me that she doesn’t have much motivation to go into the office. It was easy to see why she felt that way and we decided we needed to start her home organizing project in the office.
The first thing I look for when assessing an office/workspace, is the lighting. Almost every time I ask someone how they feel about the lighting in the room, if they tell me they don’t like it, guaranteed they are not using their office as much as they want to. Lighting absolutely matters. You will probably feel a sense of uneasiness in your space if the lighting isn’t right for you. Not only that but your productivity will suffer. A great solution to bring in light that will increase your productivity and focus is to use a full spectrum light like the Verilux SmartLight. It’s like a ray of sunshine at your workspace which will make you want to stay there longer and get more work done.
The other thing I look for when assessing someone’s office/workspace is the position of their desk. If your back is to the door, this will also create an uneasy feeling as though as though someone is always sneaking up behind you making you feel like you have to be constantly looking over your shoulder. This will interrupt your focus and negatively impact your productivity.
Betty had both lighting and desk position working against her. The glare from the lights coming in through the window made it difficult for her to see the digital photographs she had taken and was trying to edit. This created a bottleneck for her and she started falling behind on managing her photos.
The other problem Betty was having was there was more stuff then there was space for. I never like to say too much stuff, because that’s subjective. What one person perceives is too much, another person can perceive as not enough. I look at it from this perspective. You may have more stuff then you can fit into a home and be able to find and put away again easily. In my opinion, that is the number one objective of organizing. Being able to find and put your things away easily and quickly. If you can’t achieve those two objectives, then you’ll probably have issues with clutter.
Another bottleneck was her hubby. Loving husband and devoted Dad, though he appreciated a clean and organized home, he wasn’t the one that liked to do it. This put a lot of extra responsibility on Betty and added to the burnout feeling she was experiencing.
The last thing I noticed that added to the low energetic feel of the room was the placement of the cabinets and shelving. This created an imbalanced feeling and with detracted from the aesthetic appeal of the space.
After about 8 hours spread out over two sessions, we were able to de-clutter and find homes for her things. We also re-arranged her desk and the cabinets to open the room up and give it a more balanced look. We removed the metal shelving unit as it became unnecessary to have in the room since she purged enough to be able to fit everything in the cabinets and drawers she already had in the room. We were able to re-purpose in another room where she was keeping items she used in her photo shoots making it easier and faster for her to access those items when she needed to.
To help her with her paperwork, I taught her my paper management system which was built with David Allen’s GTD principles in mind. She was a bit resistant to some of the steps of the system but was willing to listen enough to get the foundation of the system so she can start getting control of her papers immediately.
The best part was her husband wound up going through and purging his stuff, much to Betty’s surprise. He was very appreciative of the work. Now that the space was clear he decided to put his drums in it. It bothered Betty a little bit because she was enjoying the clear space she had for half a second, but at the same time it put a smile on her face knowing that her husband would return to what he always loved to do, play drums. She instinctively knew this would change the energy in the office. At the end of the day, she also knew that would contribute to the growth of her company. So she grinned and beared it.
Want to see the after shots? Check out the before and after video on YouTube.