You CAN Have it All

On March 31, 2011, in Guest Posts, Work-Life Balance, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
No Gravatar

We’re happy to welcome back Dr. Marla Deibler. Her last guest post focused on compulsive hoarding. This time, she tackles the notion of having it all.

I’ve always been ambitious.  From the time I was a little girl, I imagined myself with the devoted husband, 2.5 precious children, white picket fence, and rewarding career.  It seemed plausible, even realistic.  These days, I am often asked, “how do you do it?”  Patients often comment on how “calm” and in control I seem. While it’s true that I feel incredibly fortunate in my life, when I’m asked this, I have to laugh, as “having it all” can be downright ridiculous at times.  Let me tell you a little bit about myself and the reality of my day-to-day.

I am a wife and a mother.  I am also a doctor, a clinical psychologist. I specialize in treating trichotillomania, anxiety, OCD, and compulsive hoarding. With two young children at home in 2009, I left the comfort of my employer to set up a part-time private practice in order to have some schedule flexibility; I wanted to spend more time at home with my children, have a more balanced home-work life.

I rented an office and decorated it to convey a certain warmth, comfort, and polished professionalism.  This business grew unexpectedly quickly.  I found myself as the director, the consultant, the supervisor, the clinician, the bookkeeper, the secretary, and the appointment scheduler.  My job ranged from scheduling appointments, to conducting evaluations and therapy, to providing supervision and consultation, to giving presentations and writing articles and book chapters, to giving newspaper and television interviews.  AND, I managed to do it all in three days per week, still being “Mom” to my young children at home the rest of the time.

All was going so well with two children and a business; why not have a third child?  Well, this child’s birth was very different for me. Now, I was a business owner from which I could not take family medical leave. Less than one hour after my cesarean section, I found myself checking my work voicemail and calling a patient who was waiting at my office for a therapist who was not scheduled to come in that day. I could not even feel my feet yet and I was making a professional call from my hospital bed! And so this new balancing act began.  From calling employees while breastfeeding to submitting payroll through my iPhone (thank goodness for free hospital WiFi), I had it all.

My youngest son is now nearly four months old and most of my days are filled with diaper changes and feedings, entertaining my four-year old, getting my first grader on and off the school bus, and doing endless laundry and cleaning. I am in the office one to two days per week. My business continues to grow and I continue to be accessible to employees, patients, and colleagues, but I now manage much of the day-to-day business from home.

This has required some creativity that was not covered in graduate school.  I check my email and voicemail constantly, but plan to return calls later in the evening so that calls cannot be interrupted by the Diego theme song or by my four year-old demanding “an apple sippy.”  I frequently return patient calls after dinner while standing in my laundry room, which tends to be the quietest room in the house (so much for my professional office).

There are days when I don’t get to take a shower until afternoon at which point I throw on a suit and leave the house to give a professional training, then return home to put children to bed, write reports, do billing, and write insurance appeals, etc. until 3am.  Fulfillment presents itself in strange ways.

Some say you can’t have it all. I say, be careful what you ask for.  You just might get it. I did. And as crazy as it sometimes seems, I love every moment and wouldn’t change a single thing.

About the Author

Dr. Marla Deibler is the director of the Center for Emotional Health of Greater Philadelphia, LLC, and holds a doctorate in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Health Psychology/Neuropsychology. She holds licenses to practice psychology in New Jersey (Lic. No. 35S100438000) and Pennsylvania (Lic. No. PS0157790). Dr. Deibler is a member of the International OCD Foundation (formerly the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation), Trichotillomania Learning Center, and the Anxiety Disorders Association of America and has been involved in working with the Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum Disorders community since 1999. She has also appeared on A&E’s Hoarders.

Connect With Dr. Deibler: WebE-mailFacebookTwitter | 856.220.9672


Get More Information







Simple Tech: Read More & Control Tab Abuse With Instapaper

On March 30, 2011, in Technology, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
No Gravatar

Remember how I used to struggle with tab abuse? That’s when I would keep 25 or more browser tabs open at the same time. I don’t any more (well, not as much) because I have a few tricks up my sleeve. One of them is called Instapaper.

Using Evernote & Outlook to combat my urge to keep every tab open works well, and while adding another method might seem like having third wheel, it really isn’t. In fact, I might end up using Instapaper only. Whaydaya think about them apples? ;)

Here’s why I like it:

1. It’s easy to use.

2. I can e-mail articles directly to Instapaper.

3. I can add the article name, URL, a summary…and they are stored in the order they are received…or sent…you know what I mean.

4. There’s an iPhone app. Is there anybody who doesn’t have a biz app?  (Yes – me. =/)

5. It will give me just one way of controlling my tab addiction. One = simple.

6. It’s free! There’s no cost and it’s simple and easy to use. What’s not to love?

7. It’s got a cool name that makes sense. =)

8. I was hoping to come up with an 8th reason because I prefer even numbers (can you say O-C-D?). ;)

Just like anything else, you do have to keep it under control and weed out the articles you’ve already read. Piece of cake. More good news: I actually read more now…must be something about the interface. I suppose that could be reason #8. =)

Do you use Instapaper? Does it stop you from allowing your browser tabs to take over?

Quick Tip: Declutter With a Friend

On March 29, 2011, in Home Organizing, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
No Gravatar

Would you believe that holding an object can increase your desire to keep it? Crazy, right? Well, it’s true. So the next time you decide to go through the clothing in your closet, for the love of God, don’t touch anything!

Get a friend or your favorite pro organizer to help you. Let that person hold the items so that all you have to do is decide which things will be donated or thrown out. Remember that you shouldn’t donate anything that is broken or in disrepair.

So, which friend are you going to call to help you get rid of stuff?


Tagged with:  

A Year Ago on OTR ~ Our Interview With Geralin Thomas of “Hoarders”

On March 28, 2011, in A Year Ago on OTR, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
No Gravatar

What a busy weekend we had at the Food, Libations, and Luxury Home Show at the Gaylord National Hotel! We met lots of new people, a few “old” friends stopped by our booth, and we ate waaay too much. =)  We’re still unpacking and hope you’ll enjoy an oldie but goodie from last year – our interview with Geralin Thomas from the A&E show, Hoarders.

Here’s an excerpt from that interview…

1.  What is your area of expertise and how long have you been a professional organizer?  Doyou work only with hoarders?

My area of expertise is residential organizing. I particularly enjoy helping clients who are chronically disorganized or clients with mental health challenges, including hoarders.

2.  You are one of the organizers featured on the A&E show, Hoarders. What is that experience like?

It’s interesting (in a good way). Before the show, a lot of people weren’t even aware of the term, “hoarding,” let alone recognizing it as a disorder. Bringing this disorder out into the open has ignited a lot of conversations about the impact on families, communities, landlords and, of course, the health of the hoarder.  It has been a very rewarding experience.

3.  Do you continue working with the people profiled on Hoarders after filming ends?

No, so far, I haven’t worked with anyone located in my home state of NC.  I refer my TV clients to a qualified professional organizer who lives near them whenever possible.  I do, however, stay in touch with many of the clients via phone and email.  I even talk to some of their family members too, with their permission, of course.


Click Here to Read More

Tagged with:  

Quick Tip: Slow Down!

On March 26, 2011, in Wellness, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
No Gravatar

I’m sure you’ve heard a million times that there are benefits of slowing down. It really does help. I’ve been practicing slowing down the over the last few days and I’ve noticed that I’m more purposeful in what I do AND in how I think about things.

A little background info…

Have I told you that I used to bite my nails when I was younger? It was nervous habit but I kicked it. It’s been many, many moons since I’ve chewed on my fingers. Until a few weeks ago. I’m not sure what happened but suddenly, I’ve been biting my nails again. Not. Good. Especially when you have a wedding to attend.

So, of course the only thing to do when you have no nails and you want to look pretty is to get some fake nails, right? Did I also mention that I used to be a nail tech (a.k.a. manicurist) in a former life? That’s another story. Anyway, I decided to get those press on nails from the drugstore so I could get used to them before this weekend’s wedding.

What a great lesson in patience this has been. First lesson: putting them on and waiting for the glue to dry. It’s a sticky type of glue that can get a bit messy. Second lesson: trying to work with them has been interesting. Interesting good, actually. I’ve been doing things a lot slower. As a result, I’m more careful and I think more purposefully about what I’m doing…even before I begin doing it. Filing has been very different experience…so has cleaning…opening the car door…typing…putting groceries away…

It’s hard to imagine that fake nails can make you think (or plan) better and make less mistakes…but they kinda do. I think I may have to keep these press on’s for a while. =)

Moral of the Story: Get your own fake nails to help you slow things down a bit. Yes, you male readers out there…you, too. Kidding. =) …but try to find a way to take things down a notch. If your mind is racing, your output might not be so great. Slowing down lets you really think things through.


Tagged with:  

Fact Friday: Does Your Baby Have an E-mail Address?

On March 25, 2011, in Fact Friday, Technology, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
No Gravatar

“Today’s world is about being connected. Apparently some parents believe that can’t start too soon: new research shows that 7% of babies and toddlers have their very own email address. 92% of U.S. kids have some sort of online presence by their second birthday.”

Read More:

Who’s Linked In? 7% of Babies Boast their Own Email Address | | 10.8.10



Room by Room: A Strategy for Elminating Items You No Longer Need

On March 25, 2011, in Home Organizing, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
No Gravatar

Check out these organization tips from today’s guest author, Tim Eyre, of Extra Space Storage. He shares strategies for just about every room in your home.

Faced with trying to keep myself and my own household organized, I’ve developed a strategy that seems to work for me. Depending on your lifestyle, particularly if you have a large home with children, the task of keeping an orderly house can be daunting. I’ve learned that focusing on one specific room at a time can help make the process more manageable. These are some of the things I’ve learned along the way.

Kitchens. In my experience, the kitchen can be one of the most difficult parts of the house to keep organized, but it’s also one of the most important. Making sure to remove expired foods from the refrigerator and pantry will help you organize your food so it’s easier to find, thereby minimizing waste. However, it’s also important to do so in order to avoid the risk of someone ingesting food that’s gone bad.

Although the refrigerator and the pantry require the most vigilance, you shouldn’t ignore the freezer. Freezers can extend the useful life of many foods, but items shouldn’t be stored there forever. Instead, make some time every once in a while to organize your freezer and throw out food that’s been there a long time in order to make room for fresher options.

Bedrooms. Bedroom closets are another common obstacle in the pursuit to get organized. However, making some time at the beginning of each new season or at the same time each year to go through all your home’s closets and collect garments that haven’t been worn in about a year will help keep things orderly and neat.

Bathrooms. While bathrooms aren’t typically major storage areas for most folks, I’m often surprised to learn how many people hang on to expired medications and empty pill bottles for no apparent reason. For organizational and safety reasons, those items should be disposed of on a regular basis.



Living Rooms. Like bathrooms, living rooms and dens aren’t the most common rooms in the house for clutter to accumulate, but it’s a good idea to survey the items adorning bookshelves and tabletops from time to time. For example, while a well-worn book may look nice on a shelf, donating it to a charity once you’ve read it can make room for that new novel you’ve been wanting to read.

Office. Regardless of whether you have a separate office in your home, chances are you have a desk, a counter, a drawer, or some other area devoted to storing important papers and financial materials. While there’s nothing wrong with that, a good strategy is to go through and actually read all the documents that you’ve been saving.

If something isn’t important, get rid of it (but make sure to shred or otherwise destroy anything that has personal information on it). For other older documents that are, in fact, important, box them up and store them away in a file cabinet or some other safe place so you can keep newer records neatly organized and easily accessible.

Garages, Attics & Basements. Garages, attics, and basements often get neglected because most of us don’t spend much time in those areas, so we tend to let things slide when clutter accumulates. However, if things get out of hand, eventually you won’t be able to find the items stored there. Therefore, it’s prudent to go through these spaces on a fairly regular basis and purge things, like tools that no longer work.


About The Author

Working with self storage users all over the United States, Tim Eyre helps customers store their stuff in places like a self storage facility in Brooklyn and a Sacramento self storage location. In his spare time, Tim likes to get outside for a game of basketball or a round of golf.

Connect With Tim:  Brooklyn Web | Sacramento Web

Super Awesome Eco-Friendly Paper Products [Part II]

On March 24, 2011, in Guest Posts, Paper, Recycling, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
No Gravatar

Last week, guest author, Julie Bestry, shared a few of her favorite eco-friendly office products.  On her first list – Recycled Post-It Notes and Bankers Boxes. Here are her final two picks.


ReBinders…and Their Buddies


Locating recycled file folders and hanging folders is relatively easy, but finding an affordable green solution for binder-style paper storage has long been a pipe dream. Three-ring binders are usually made of PVC plastic, and given that up to 500 metric tons of toxic PVC end up in landfills each year, it’s enough for a green-minded guy or gal to give up on binder storage altogether.

An innovative Seattle company is hard at work on creating alternative solutions. ReBinder is an online store offering products made from SFI- and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified post-consumer recycled materials, assembled by an AbilityOne-certified disabled workforce. Their manufacturing processes reduce energy and water consumption, as well as greenhouse gasses, solid waste, and deforestation.

The original ReBinder three-ring binders come in three versions: the no-frills Original, made from heavy-duty corrugated cardboard, the Select, made from 100 pt. chipboard, and the Professional, which takes the chipboard base of the Select and adds an elegant black cloth spine.

(To get a sense of the vast chasm between vinyl and recycled paperboard, check out ReBinder’s detailed explanation of their materials, process and end result.)

To improve your eco-friendly efforts, you can purchase replacement ReBinder covers for a fraction of the cost of the original, from $1.76 for .5″ to $2.38 for 2″ replacement covers. Sturdy, high quality Re-Tab recycled tab dividers and Re-Pouch three-hole punched slash/pocket tab dividers (which hold papers, CDs and business cards, each in their own little slots) amplify both usability and your green credibility. In addition to ReBinder’s lines of recycled binders, dividers, and pockets, they make similarly planet-friendly CD sleeves and cases, folders, conference badges, adhesive labels and notebooks, available in a sample pack of their most popular products for $25 (with free ground shipping).


PlanetSafe Dry-Erase Wall Planners and Calendars

Each year, when you discard your wall calendar and put up a new one, do you heave a sigh, imagining millions of other glossy calendars with plastic-coated spiral bindings getting tossed into the landfill? Have you wished there were a better alternative? Thanks to PlanetSafe, makers of the world’s only non-plastic erasable wall planner, there is.

These planners all have the write/wipe attributes of typical plastic wall planners, but use no petroleum-based products. PlanetSafe’s line is made from 100% recycled paper, organic vegetable inks and a 100% biodegradable plant-based film laminate. Not only made from recycled product, it’s the first erasable line that is 100% recyclable, biodegradable and compostable.
PlanetSafe products are made from durable, heavyweight write/wipe material with a glossy finish. The line includes dated one- and two-year calendar planners, as well as multiple styles and sizes of 5-, 30-, 60-, 90- and 120-day undated planners with room for notes and project planning.

The planners are designed to work with either dry-erase or wet-erase markers, as well as sticky notes – like those in the Sustain line of recycled Post-Its®!

While the boards have ample space for writing one’s thoughts, “To Do” items and action plans and then wet- or dry-erasing them afterward, tracking concepts and tasks via sticky notes allows you to quickly re-prioritize by moving, rearranging, and even color-coding…it’s sort of a retro version of cut-and-paste in Word, without a single keystroke.

From tiny notes to massive calendars, from boxed archives to binder-bound papers, there truly are affordable ways to help keep our little blue marble a little bit green.

While the boards have ample space for writing one’s thoughts, “To Do” items and action plans and then wet- or dry-erasing them afterward, tracking concepts and tasks via sticky notes allows you to quickly re-prioritize by moving, rearranging, and even color-coding…it’s sort of a retro version of cut-and-paste in Word, without a single keystroke.

From tiny notes to massive calendars, from boxed archives to binder-bound papers, there truly are affordable ways to help keep our little blue marble a little bit green.

About the Author

Julie Bestry is a Certified Professional Organizer, speaker and author, who helps individuals and businesses save time and money, reduce stress and increase productivity through new organizational skills and systems. Although a generalist, Julie specializes in paper organizing, blogs as the Paper Doll, and publishes Best Results for Busy People: Organizing Your Modern World. For more information, visit Best Results Organizing at

Connect With Julie: Twitter | Facebook



Get a Better Grip on Time

On March 23, 2011, in Time Management, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
No Gravatar

We at Camp OTR are getting ready for the Metropolitan Food, Libations, and Luxury Home Show (yes, there will be wine!) coming up this weekend at the Gaylord National Hotel. While we’re off getting organized, please enjoy (read: use) the following quick tips on how to get a better grip on your time.

1. Just Say NO!

…to the bright, shiny things that distract you. Even if they’re cute. And, especially if they’re fun. Put your dresser behind the door if you have to, or use a tech add-on (like RescueTime orLeechBlock) to keep a firm grip on your time. No e-mail, texting, or phone calls are allowed.

2. Just Say NO! Part Deux

…to the people who think you’re fabulous and ask you to sit on the board of that equally fab organization. Please graciously decline when you are asked to organize the summer outing for grades one through twenty. Smile, and say, “OMG, I wish I could, BUT…” or “Dude, I would do it BUT…” when you are asked to take on something you hate. This is especially crucial if you already have a jam-packed schedule.

3. Make a List

of your top priorities – the stuff you have to get done that day – and then figure out how long each one will take. Get a calculator if you must and try to keep your top stuff to under 5 things. Oh, btw, do you remember how long it took you to finish last time? That might help you come up with realistic time frames for getting stuff done. So will using a timer.

4. Get Back Up

…in the form of another person, when possible. I did this last night and delegated a home show “to do” to the hubmeister (I did ask nicely). Not only did he say yes (thank goodness), but he got it done a lot more quickly than I would have.  If I had done it myself, I would have pored over every minute detail until it was way beyond perfection. Instead, he knocked it out in 20 minutes. And, it was great! …and I was happy. Double yay! So, delegate a task that will suck your time (or one that you hate) to someone else who’s good at it (or loves it).

What do you do to keep that firm hold on your time?


Tagged with:  

5 Minute Organizing Challenge [March 2011]

On March 22, 2011, in 5 Minute Organizing Challenge, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
No Gravatar

It’s time for a new 5 Minute Organizing Challenge! What can you do in 5 minutes to gain a little order in your life? You can put a few things back in place or gather your important items. Here’s a new set of five things for you to consider adding to your routine this month. Try try them on for size and feel free to suggest a few of your own.

1. Throw away those useless receipts and scraps of paper on your nightstand or desk.

2. You know the used napkins sitting in the cup holder in your car? You can pitch ‘em. The empty bag of chips can go, too…along with the empty water bottles.

3. Oh, yeah, and you can get the hand vac and “dust” your car seat while you’re at it.

4. Have you called your CPA about your taxes yet? The office may be closed, but you can leave a message.

5. Gather all the wandering remote controls and put them back in place.


Check out the November 2010 Organizing Challenge