Archive for the ‘Consulting’ Category

While in Toronto in early November at the Professional Organizers in Canada annual conference I attended a workshop delivered by Deanne Kelleher from Kaos Group called “Essential and Powerful Business Tools”.  The session made me realize how many systems all of us small business owners should have in place and perhaps don’t, myself included.  If only I could find the time! (more…)


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Most time management experts agree that many of us get to the end of a week and wonder where it’s gone and why we haven’t accomplished anything significant.  Each and every time I work with a client to teach them the planning process, I realize I could do a better job of it myself.

Why is it that we put off planning even though we know that the most successful businesses and individuals dedicate time to planning weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually without fail? (more…)

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At this time of year I always start to get into what I like to call ‘Clean Up and Get Organized for the New Year’ mode in my business.  Somehow, I always look forward to this process. For me it involves several steps which many of you may find it helpful to consider.

  1. Purging Paper & Electronic Information – like many of you I accumulate a lot of paper and electronic information throughout the year, some of which I never use. There’s no better feeling than going through all the paper files and shredding a bunch, going through my ‘My Documents’ folder and either archiving or deleting a bunch of files and finally going through all my email folders from this year and either archiving or deleting a bunch of that information.  Somehow this process always seems to shift the energy around a bit and make room for new and exciting projects each new year.
  2. Getting Ready for Canada Revenue – I have to say that all of us small business owners certainly do have to be well organized on the financial records side of our business in case our friends at CRA come calling.  I firmly believe that if I’m well organized and keep good records there is less likelihood that will happen but if it does I’ll be well prepared. I can pull any piece of   information they may require on a moment’s notice including invoices, expense receipts, HST returns, my calendar with all appointments,  monthly financial statements and the all important Automobile Mileage Log (to purchase yours go to http://www.janetheorganizer.com/productsforsale_automileagelog.html)  for the past 7 years.  The two things that they love to audit us home-based businesses for are ‘office-use-of-home’ expenses and ‘vehicle expenses’, so be sure to have those records in tip top shape and easily accessible.  In addition, HST audits are quite common so being able to produce your records in a timely fashion can make this process almost painless.
  3. Creating A New Budget – I always like to challenge myself to ‘stretch goals’ on the revenue side and then see how little I can get away with spending on the expense side while still growing the business.  This year I’m thinking about a few new budget items such as a Smartphone (yeah, yeah, I know I’m so behind on that one), a part-time Personal Assistant (too exciting), and maybe even my dream of a Training Video.  Having a monthly budget and reviewing it twice per month is one of the key success factors to any business, large or small.
  4. Annual Planning – in addition to creating a new budget, I schedule a yearly annual planning session for 1 or 2 days with my mastermind group(s) to brainstorm ideas for the next year or so.  This will involve both my personal and professional life and is a chance for some free thinking with no limitations.  A chance to review outstanding projects and think of new ones.  A chance to dream big and share those dreams with others.  And finally the time to put it all in writing, decide my priorities for the next year, and make a committment to others in my mastermind group to work on those priorities or, if I don’t, to have a good reason for changing them.

Whew, aren’t you exhausted just thinking about all this? Now we all have to go and book time in our calendar over the holiday season to get working on #1 to #3.  In my business #4 will be happening in two phases, one in January and the other in March.  However, you may decide to do something completely different like attend a workshop or hire someone to help you through the process.  Remember the adage, “Poor Prior Planning leads to P… Poor Performance”.

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Last Friday we had a meeting of the Nova Scotia Chapter of  Professional Organizers in Canada (POC), our first one since June.  We had a number of guests at our meeting who were new to the business or thinking about getting into the business.

Anyway, we got into a long discussion about being qualified, which courses to take, how many designations, if any,  one should have and so on.  Not an easy question to answer so it turns out.  People will often ask me how I got into this business and sometimes I do get the direct question from a fellow business person, “So what makes you qualified to be a Professional Organizer?”  Of course, since I received my Certified Professional Organizer® designation I think I have a good answer for that.  However, in my mind it’s not as much about the exam and book knowledge as it is about the eight years experience.

Some members of our group were adamant that we should have as many designations as we can and be constantly taking courses and upgrading our skills.  Some of our potential members were on the opposite end of the scale where they are not interested in taking any courses, they just want to start organizing.  The latter scares me just a little, I must say.  Without some foundational priniciples for organizing and an understanding of the unique challenges our clients face I don’t think we can provide the best possible service.

But where is the cut off?  How many courses should a person take?  Where is the trade off between book learning and actual experience? I can only speak for myself.  I have to take 15 hours of continuing education every year to maintain my certification so I’m always on the hunt for the latest discovery around productivity or the newest time management technique to help my clients manage their time more effectively. 

In addition, I do love to read a good organizing book now and again.  My weakness, however, is looking a pretty organizing products – I admit it, I’m a junkie!  We all know how many gorgeous things you can find on the internet – I just love to check out all the pretty products even though half of them I can’t even get in Canada, darn it. 

There I go again, off topic.  Well kind of off topic.  Knowing about the newest and prettiest organizing products is part of the service I provide so in a sense is part of my continuing education and it’s fun too boot! 

As a business owner I think there is a happy compromise in there somewhere.  We all need to keep on top of what is going on in our industry but we also need to earn a living.  I suspect if we narrow our focus and get really good at a few things, educate ourselves on an ongoing basis, and learn by doing, we’ll provide the best service we can to our customers. 

I’m not sure that immersing ourselves in studying and attending conferences and putting more letters behind our name is always the best way.  Unless, as one of my clients always reminds me, you’re building bridges and then I would be inclined to advise all those engineers out there to take lots of bridge-building courses


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How we help our clients change was a hot topic at the dining table today.  I spent several hours with five good friends and fellow coaches, consultants and trainers this afternoon and the topic of how we each work with our clients, our methods, and our beliefs around how we may or may not succeed in helping them change was certainly a well debated one.

This has me thinking about a fascinating tool I discovered in a book entitled “It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys” by Marilyn Paul.  She has created a ‘Seven-Step Change Cycle’ specifically related to organizing.

Here are the 7 steps:

  1. Establish Your Purpose
  2. Create Your Vision
  3. Take Stock of Current Reality
  4. Choose Support
  5. Design Systems & Solutions
  6. Take Effective Action
  7. Go Deeper to Keep Going

When I discovered this map, I realized that all of these steps are exactly what I do when working with a client.  It occurs to me that you can certainly understand the cycle and how it could help guide you through any organizing project.  However, I still wonder if answering  questions like:

  • “What will I see”
  • “What organizing systems will work for me?”
  • “What are the specific steps I plan to take . . .?”
  • “How can I change my thinking?” 

is difficult when you are completely overwhelmed by mental or physical clutter.  I believe that having the support of a professional organizer and/or a coach is one of the key components in building a support team to help you achieve long term change.  That person should be a good fit for your personality, have the credentials and experience to work with you effectively,  and be able to support you in a positive way while holding you accountable  for your actions and choices.

One thing we all agreed on is that before any individual or organization hires anyone in a consulting or coaching role they have to be willing and ready for change.  Allowing individuals to flourish within a changing environment requires trust and the freedom to make choices that are best for both the individual and the organization.

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