Get Your New Business Started Right! Get Organized!

On July 14, 2011, in Business, Guest Posts, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
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Certified Professional Organizer® and Family Manager Coach,  Ellen Delap, is back today to share tips for new small business owners.

I often meet with clients who are just starting their new small business.  Their business is something they are passionate about and have excellent client connections. However they need a boost and some basic organizing ideas to keep them on track administratively speaking.

1. Consolidate your contacts all in one place.

This can be the biggest challenge for my clients since their information might be on a business card, a post it note or in their phone. Choose a contact base that will you know well and can easily access. For most people this would be
Outlook in the Office Suite or Gmail Contacts.  The biggest reason to consolidate this information is peace of mind. You will be able to look in one place and connect easily with your client.

2. Get control of your calendar.

When you start a business, the adage “time is money” is so true. How you spend your time is all about income in the beginning. Having a calendar that really works for you means that you can plan your week, see where you have time for “opportunities” and where you need to put more push into your week.  Be sure to be diligent about a weekly planning time to review your calendar too.

3.Get control of your task list.

Keeping tabs on tasks and ideas makes for great use of your time and customer relationships. Task managers on Outlook help you keep up to date. Or, if you are paper person, a simple spiral that you carry with you all the time can work, too.    Use technology with digital clouds like Dropbox and Evernote to help you capture ideas, “carry” documents with you, and save space.


4. Keep track of your papers.

Creating a paper management system customized to your business needs will help you stay on top! Create a command center for your desk area with categories for action, pay, projects, and filing. For your car, create a system with the papers you need to meet clients. Have with you the papers you need to sign up a new client, sell a property or cosmetic, and take money to the bank. Be sure there is a spot for every paper you have.

5. Think about customer service.

Put processes in place to create consistency and great customer service. Think about the sequence of part of your business, write it out as a step by step plan, and then commit to it with a checklist. Once the process becomes routine, you are ready to go.

6. Other things to think about.

· Start off planning for an emergency. Use Carbonite to back up your computer!  Using Carbonite prevents the ultimate fail, loss of important data.

· Cultivate resources who can help you and you can help too. Being a team player can be the best of all, with help in areas that you are most challenged.  You can barter as well to get jobs done.

· Disorganization is costly and distracting.  Get started right off with a great plan and make it work for you.


About the Author

Certified Professional Organizer ® and Family Manager Coach, Ellen Delap, is the owner of  Since 2000, she has worked one-on-one with her clients in their home and offices, streamlining their environments, creating effective strategies for an organized lifestyle, and helping them to prioritize organization in their daily routines.  She holds ADD and Chronic Disorganization certificates and specializes in working with ADD and ADHD adults and students.  Ellen has been featured at The Woodlands (Texas) Home and Garden Show, on ABC13 Houston, in the Houston Chronicle, and is an Expert on The Clutter Diet, an online organizing resource.

Connect With Ellen: TwitterFacebookWebE-Mail



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Put “Me” Time on Your Calendar

On July 13, 2011, in Work-Life Balance, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
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Are you at the bottom of your to do list? When was the last time you got a massage? …took a walk? …without rushing? Or, simply sat down and did absolutely nothing?

I know you’re thinking that you don’t have time to do all or any of those things. Life is too busy, so you take those moments when they come up spontaneously. There’s nothing wrong with living in the moment and grabbing “me” time when it comes up.

But, you’re more likely to have more time to get rejuvenated and revitalized if you actually schedule it. Like going to the batting cages? Write it on your calendar (enter it on your smart phone). Feel relaxed and calm when you’re in the garden? Pen it in. Love how you feel after a bit of yoga? Make it regular appointment and block out time for that.

Whatever it is that equals “me” time for you, put it in your calendar. Add a reminder. Put yourself at the top of your list on certain days of the week/month.

After all, if you’re not at your best, how can you be your best for others?

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Quick Tip: 2 Great Places for Magnetic Pencil Cups

On July 12, 2011, in Home Organizing, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
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Everybody knows that when you want a pencil or pen and a piece of paper, you can never find them. They spontaneously get up and walk away…from you.

Two places that magnetic pencil cups work well are:

1. Fridge. If you’re like me, you spend a fair amount of time close to the fridge. =) And, some of us still have landlines in the kitchen, so the fridge is great place to keep pens/paper handy. No need to open a drawer if there’s a pencil cup right on the icebox.

2. File Cabinet. Ideally, your file cabinet will be close by your desk. It it’s the metal kind, then that’s another great place for magnetic pencil cup…especially if your desk has limited space or no drawer.


Check these out to see which one might work for you. Remember, choose one that you like because you’re more apt to use it.

InterDesign Magnetic Memo Center, Brushed Stainless Steel



Design Ideas Brocade Magnetic Divided Bin, Black



Design Ideas Mesh Magnet Organizer, Silver


Franklin Covey Black EcoGen Magnetic Pencil Cup by Design Ideas

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Transformers: The Sofa That Turns into a Bunk Bed

On July 11, 2011, in Small Spaces, Transformers, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
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Welcome to our regular “Transformers” feature (click link and scroll down to see them all). A transformer is a thing that started out as one thing, has been rehabbed, and now functions as another thing.  A transformer can also be a thing that is really another thing all at the same time. Check out our latest find…

Sofas that turn into beds is nothing new, but when they turn into two beds at the same time, that deserves a closer look. The Doc sofa is perfect for when you’re tight on space and seems quite easy to assemble (check out the video below). That’s always a plus…and, you can also choose from several finishes and fabrics.



…transforming into…

…two separate beds…


How to assemble the Doc sofa




Check Out These Other Transformers


Fact Friday: Entrepreneurs Crushed Under Weight of Unanswered E-mails

On July 8, 2011, in Fact Friday, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
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“Every day entrepreneurs carry the weight of thousands of unanswered e-mails and the problem takes its toll on them professionally and emotionally. Not only are they are missing out on untold opportunities by not being responsive, they are in a constant state of heightened stress, panic and guilt.

Read More:

How to Clean Out Your Inbox Without Guilt | | 4.29.11

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Must Have Tech for Business Owners

On July 7, 2011, in Business, Guest Posts, Technology, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
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Jack of All Tech, Terrance Gaines, is back with his top tech picks that every business owner must have.

Before, a large portion of a business budget went to operating expenses and hiring outside help just to handle the tedious (and boring) day-to-day business operations. Although it’s still a good idea to consult with specialists to make sure the ship is running smoothly; today, technology makes starting and operating a business actually attainable…and fun with the right tech tools. So, below is a list of must-have tech for businesses.

Online Accounting

In addition to working with a bookkeeper/accountant, online accounting tools likeQuickbooksOutright and Indinero, make managing your income, expenses, budget and taxes simple and accessible from any computer with internet access. Many of these services, connect to your current online business banking/credit accounts to make categorizing transactions automated.

No matter how big or small your business is, once you create a profile, enter your business information and link your accounts, these services help you get your finances in order within minutes. They can even generate end-of-year reports that you can hand to your tax specialist that will help you get you in and out of your tax appointment and on your way.

Cloud Storage

If you’re already using online accounting/banking services (or using email for that matter) then guess what? You’re cloud computing, my friend. So, you might as well stop worrying about your data being safe and step up to housing some of your documents online as well.

Again, the major takeaway from cloud storage is the fact that you have access to your files anywhere you can find a computer with internet access. Depending on the size of online storage you choose, you can backup important documents, or work solely in the cloud.  Services like DropboxSugarSync, and Google Docs give users the ability to not only store files online; but to also edit, collaborate, and share your documents with other users or other devices.

Online Backup

The rule of thumb is that you should have the content on your computer backed up regularly and in multiple places.  I would suggest you back up your files up on a separate computer/hard drive, and somewhere in the cloud. The above services could work as backup services; but there are other services like Mozy and Carbonite that can handle the heavy lifting of backing up one or multiple computers/files in one shot.

Once you sign up and link your files or computers, these services will back up ALL of your documents, emails, videos, pictures either on request or automatically based on a schedule of your choosing.


I chose to list the above as must have tech for businesses because there is essentially no hardware involved. All you need is internet access, and you can manage your business from anywhere. So, to bring it home, any business owner needs access to their operations even if they are nowhere near a computer.

That’s why I suggest a smart phone as the only hardware that ANY business needs (Well, besides a regular computer…and a blue and black pen). All of the services listed above give users the ability to access its services via smart phone. Whether it be a mobile-friendly website, or native mobile app, with a high-powered smart phone, no emergency has to wait until you get in front of a computer.

You can open documents sent in their native format from an email, edit and share them via email using a combination of smart phone and mobile apps.  You can also access and share files stored/backed up in the cloud, and access your financial accounts, create and send invoices, and track time spent on projects. These little things can even swipe credit cards with the right gear.

So, there you have it. You don’t need to hire (and pay) a team of professionals to handle the many day-to-day activities of your business. With just internet access, the right online services, and your trusty, never-leave-home-without-it smart phone, you can run your business your way.

Check out Terrance’s other OTR article, Top 5 Reasons Your Company Should Embrace Technology.


About the Author

Terrance GainesTerrance Gaines is a technology evangelist who empowers the lives of people through technology via my expertise with gadgets and consumer electronics. He’s a “Jack of All Tech” with his own technology consultant business (Tech Life Coach). He also posts daily technology commentary, tools, tips, news and reviews on his website,, in addition to writing for several tech-related online publications. He has also appeared on several tech radio shows and has presented at local technology events.

Connect With Terrance: Web | | Twitter LinkedIn | E-Mail


Get to Inbox Zero by Playing Games with Your E-Mail

On July 6, 2011, in Technology, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
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I love that I can download lots of apps for my iPhone. Even my husband has apps on my phone. My favorite gaming app is Angry Birds. Mmmm…or Words With Friends. Especially when I’m winning!

When I’m actually trying to be productive, I’d love to be winning at getting to inbox zero. And, now that there’s an app that makes it a game, I could get closer to it. With The E-Mail Game, checking e-mail might actually be fun. The quicker I do something with a message, the more points I’d get. It has GTD feel (do it now, do it later, or delete) but the real key is beating the clock.

Plus, it works with Gmail and it’s free (there is a fee for the Exchange version). Points = Squat …but who cares?? I’d kick my inbox in the arse! …or have fun trying…

Would you give it a go?






Independence Day 2011

On July 4, 2011, in General, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
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It’s a holiday here in the U.S. so we’re taking the day off. We hope you’re having fun and fabulous times no matter where you are. =)

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Fact Friday: Overtime Work = Heart Disease

On July 1, 2011, in Fact Friday, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
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“A study of 7,095 British civil service workers revealed that those who toiled 11 or more hours per day had a 67 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease than their 9-to-5 officemates.”

Read More:

Like High Cholesterol, Overtime Work Boosts Heart Disease | | 4.5.11