Category - Client Experiences
When we work with business clients, our recommendations for increased business productivity are not always simply physical changes or office reorganizing, but about improved communication and understanding.
For example, I have worked with several business clients in an office setting and find not only process improvements, but also relationship improvement opportunities. Sometimes opening up communication lines between team members can not only improve a process, but it can also identify other opportunities that otherwise would have remained unseen.
When my team or I shadow employees, we make observations on work behavior, team dynamics, workflow and more. We ask a lot of questions and then summarize our findings, providing recommendations where there are opportunities for improved productivity.
If one of my business clients is planning on changing the configuration of a team or adding or reducing resources, we recommend that the client takes into account team dynamics to make sure that productivity will not be hampered by the add on or change. Clear roles and communication processes are critical for ensuring smooth operations and happy employees.
How does your office function? Think it could benefit from a review?
Feel like you need more time in your day? We can help! We are often hired to help people with time management so that they can be more efficient and productive.
Recently, I had a client who was highly efficient, but he still wanted to have more time in his day. So we discussed the importance of setting the proper priorities.
When we think about money, we realize that it’s limited and we should find areas to invest with the highest return on investment (ROI). The same is true for time. At the end of the day, there is only so much time. We can try to be efficient with our tasks, but in the end we still need to set priorities to ensure the highest ROI.
To do this, we have to think about the areas of your life that are most important to you. This should be done for your home life and work life in order to work properly. For example, say that being healthy is a priority. Then, take a step back and think of the specific things you need to do to achieve this goal. For example, exercise is critical to healthier living. Then you need to determine the amount of time needed for these areas.
In order to ensure that you are sticking to your plan, you need to track the actual amount of time spent on these tasks, just like you would do with any business process. Comparing the amount of planned time to actual time will keep you honest. So be sure to track your time to see if you’re as balanced as you would like to be.
With the client that I mentioned, there was a disconnect. He wanted to be a good parent, so he coached his kids’ soccer teams. But the kids felt like they didn’t see enough of him. So maybe the tasks weren’t accomplishing the goal. Maybe the kids would’ve preferred more one-on-one time.
As you go through these processes, it’s important to ask your kids (or your staff) for feedback on how to accomplish goals in a more efficient way. Another perspective can be very helpful and they may have some very good insight that you hadn’t thought of before.
Also, it’s important that your goals aren’t something like “spend time with kids,” but rather something like “build deeper relationships.”
And always remember, with limited time in the day, it’s important to drop some tasks as you take on more. According to Alan Weiss, author of Million Dollar Consulting, dropping the bottom 15% is critical for future growth. These could be areas that are less profitable, less rewarding and/or don’t align with your long term goals.
So, think about yesterday. Did you invest your time wisely?
It seems like some people love to have the latest and greatest organizational systems and get new filing systems, or shelves, or hooks, whenever they can. However, in your quest to contain the clutter, it’s important to remember to have a second look at your current organizational system and make sure you are using it correctly before you get rid of it and move on to something new.
Not long ago, I was working with a client who told me that her “active file” area wasn’t working and wanted to try something new. So the two of us went through this area and found paperwork from projects that had been completed some time ago and were no longer active. If you’re keeping an active file area, it’s important to remove completed projects so that they’re not staring you in the face all of the time. In this instance, it wasn’t the system that didn’t work, it was that the system was not being properly maintained and projects that were not active were cluttering up an area meant for high priority tasks. If you let an organizational system get tainted, you will no longer trust it and no longer depend on it.
So, the next time you’re considering switching your organizational system to something new, ask yourself whether you have properly maintained it so that it could work. Don’t forget that every system, even the latest and greatest, will require maintenance. The trick is to have smart solutions that just require a little maintenance that can be taken care of on a regular basis.
My clients and a lot of households in general struggle with reading material. Newspapers, magazines, journals, and on and on. Most people are so busy that they don’t get around to finishing up their magazines within a day or two, and then the piles start to grow. I mostly see piles on desks, but they also can accumulate on coffee tables, nightstands and other open areas as well.
People tell me that they feel as though this material is urgent and then place it somewhere where it can be seen easily. The problem with this, however, is that piles of unread material can simply add to a person’s stress. When I work with these piles with clients, it turns out that most of their reading material is really not that urgent after all.
I usually tell people that reading material is generally not critical, but it can, unfortunately, come with its own kind of baggage: We feel like we’ve lost an opportunity or are not keeping up with our professional education.
That’s why I tell my clients that it’s important to keep reading material at a realistic level. If you accumulate more magazines and journals than you can read, your sense of guilt can rise to very high levels.
My suggestion for this? A basket. Simple, yet effective. And it does two things, it keeps a limit on your reading material and it contains the clutter. When the basket is full, you need to get rid of some of your reading material if you want some new stuff. And keeping reading material in one location means that it’s not spread all over your desk, the kitchen table and your nightstand.
Just remember that reading material spread all over the place can have some really negative effects. Most of the time, something simple, like a basket, can help solve the problem.
I’ve worked with many, many clients who tell me that they’ve organized their garage, or their basement, or their office, but it just won’t stay neat. Sometimes, these clients can identify the source of the problem: Maybe they have a spouse, child or other family member that is a messy person and never puts anything away. That’s an easy one to figure out! And then there are some people who have yet to identify what leads to their ongoing struggle to stay organized.
In situations like these, it may take someone else to look at what’s going on with a fresh pair of eyes to figure out the root of the problem.
One time, I was doing some office organizing with a client and we were going through tons of files and paperwork. As we were doing this, I started asking her questions, hoping to better understand why she kept so much of the paperwork around. What I discovered by asking her a series of questions is that she really wasn’t using the paperwork, but she subconsciously was holding onto it because she felt guilty that trees had been cut down to create them and she couldn’t just toss them in the recycling bin! She was shocked to learn this about her behavior. And she of course immediately changed, realizing that this was a silly rationale for keeping something. But it was the key to figuring out how we could change her behavior and be on track for keeping her better organized. The more you keep the more you have to maintain, and that takes extra time that most of us don’t have.
Similarly, other clients have kept way too much paperwork because they felt guilty about recycling someone else’s hard work even though realistically they had no plan to use it. Another common thing I see is that piles will be building up on top of a file cabinet and the client doesn’t really know why. But by working through things with them I am able to determine things, like that they are avoiding filing because their file cabinet drawer sticks and it’s a pain to open! Voila, problem solved! Organizing needs to be easy or quite frankly we will avoid doing it.
When I work with clients, it is important that we work together so I can evaluate why they do what they do and how this leads to clutter. The key is figuring out the root cause of the problem so an organizing solution can be set up to help make sure they not only get organized, but that they stay organized!
When most people hear that I’m an organizer, they think that I help people decide what to throw out. And I have to say that with many clients, home organizing involves getting rid of some clutter. However, I’m of the opinion that if you have a lot of stuff that you actually use, you can afford it, have a place to store it and it doesn’t cause you or your family stress, then keep it!
Recently, I was working with a client who had gone through her fashion accessories and purged many that she didn’t wear or use. However, she still had like 40 purses, around 100 necklaces and many more belts and shoes than I own. This woman’s babysitter was of the opinion that she still had too much stuff, but I told her otherwise.
Since she had gotten rid of the items she no longer used or wore, and had storage systems in place for all of the remaining items so they were not causing her stress, and could afford all of this, I told her to go for it and enjoy herself.
Here are some pictures of her belts and shoes after paring down her collection:
I’d give this same advice to any of my clients: If it makes you happy, you use it, you have a place to store it and it doesn’t cause stress, enjoy it and have fun.
So many times, when you have a spur of the moment idea or are talking on the phone and need to jot down a quick note, it’s easy to grab the nearest piece of paper and scribble something. Most of us have plenty of scrap paper around in an effort to reuse paper before recycling it. While this is a wonderful thing to do, it can come at the expense of your organization and sanity!
I have worked with many clients at home or in their office who use scrap paper for notes and to do lists. Think of the stack of scrap paper in your home or office. Are all of the sheets of paper the same size? The same color? Or even the same texture and paper style? Most likely they are not. And this is where using scrap paper for notes or to do lists can start to be a problem. If the pieces of paper aren’t bound together or can’t be placed in a nice, even pile, it can be a problem for organization. Also, what if you throw an important note or list away, thinking it was just another piece of scrap paper?
With so many options available now, I usually recommend electronic organization nowadays. However, I have worked with plenty of clients who prefer hard copies of notes and lists. If paper notes and lists is your style, I would recommend a notebook. When you have a notebook for lists and notes, you know for sure where your important action items can be found and will never have to worry about accidentally throwing them away.
I have worked with business clients, such as receptionists and personal assistants, who rely on scrap paper as part of their office organizing. When using scrap paper for organization in a business situation, there is the added element of reduced professionalism. To keep a desk looking neat and professional, a notebook is definitely the better way to go.
For some one time things, like leaving a note on a doorstep or desk, scrap paper is perfect. But if you are trying to organize lists and notes in your home or office and aren’t ready to make the leap to digital yet, I would really recommend using a notebook.
Recently, I had a client who had an issue with not wanting his customers to know his phone number. He was a contractor and was afraid they would hound him day and night.
He used to write his customers’ phone numbers on a message pad in his office and then go back through them to find a number when he needed it. To do this, he would need to stop by his office to look up the number (a slow and tedious process since it was not an easy task to go back through all of the memo pads and papers), and then call them from his office number.
He considered adding their numbers to his QuickBooks accounts so at least they would be faster to find.
My suggestion was to do it very differently. I suggested that he contact his phone carrier and get his phone “blocked” so no one could see his number or call him back. In the future, whenever he had a new client he could just save their contact information on his phone so he could call them directly without having to stop by his office and search for numbers. I also suggested that he add the customers’ addresses and other pertinent information to his phone as well so he would have all the customer details close at hand when he needed them.
A huge time saver for sure!
I’ve said this many times, and it still holds true: When you see you are spending a large amount of time doing something that adds little value to the work you do (e.g. commuting home to get a number), challenge yourself if there could be a better way of doing it. Or contact us and we can review your business operations and shed some light on where there may be some easy ways to make your day to day operations much more efficient and less time-consuming.
There are many factors to consider when you ask yourself whether or not you are productive. In actuality, this is really an individual question as we all have varying ideas of what being productive means and looks like.
The other day I was doing some searching on the internet. After about an hour, I realized I began to feel like I was “spinning my wheels” and not accomplishing what I had hoped to. Though I had been making progress on my search, I was no longer being as productive as I would have liked. My internal checkpoint helped me realize I needed to take a break from this task and do something else. This did not mean I was done and could not be productive again on this task, it just meant I was needing fresher eyes on this task to be productive.
This was such a good moment for me to take the advice I so frequently give to my clients: When you feel like you are not being productive on one task (i.e. spinning your wheels), move to another task that you can be more productive on.
There are several areas to consider when you talk about being productive:
1. Time of day – Figure out the time of day you are most alert and creative (i.e. when you do your best thinking). Make sure to complete your most challenging tasks at this time.
2. Distractions – Is there a time of day you feel most distracted? This can either be from colleagues, kids, phone, email, Facebook, hunger, etc. Make sure to schedule your breaks or easiest work then.
3. Difficult Tasks - Are there tasks at work or home that you do not feel as confident in completing or that you dread the most? Make sure to complete these tasks when someone is available to assist you or when you are at the peak performance of your day.
4. Task Change Up – How long are you able to focus on one task before you need to change things up? Just because you lose focus on one task does not mean you can no longer be productive on another task. Make sure to listen to your internal checkpoint to know when you need to change things up. Do a simpler more mundane task, i.e. filing, folding clothes, etc.
Even though being productive looks different to different people, we all have the ability to make progress and be/feel productive. I challenge you to figure out when you are most productive and to tackle those areas you may have put off or never gotten back to!
Just last week I worked with a client who needed help getting settled into her new apartment. I had worked with her previously helping her to downsize in preparation for the move and now it was time to see if all of our efforts had paid off.
Because my client was a busy professional and had to take the day off of work, I along with another of my employees arrived early to get started on the job. Luckily when we arrived, the movers had labeled the boxes (which is the organized way to go!), and we were able to move the boxes into their correct room locations to unload them. While my employee began working on the kitchen boxes and organizing the kitchen, I strategized with the client on the other rooms. This allowed us to have a strategic plan in mind as the day unfolded.
Steadily my employee, myself, and the client unloaded boxes, flattened packing paper, and the boxes. Tip: Always flatten the packing paper. This allows for easier storage of the paper as well as ensures you have not missed anything tucked away in the paper.
Within 6 hours, we had nearly unpacked everything, moved furniture, set up, and organized the client’s new apartment!
When we got ready to leave, as I always do, I checked in with the client to see how she felt about the day. As she is a busy professional and had not asked for more time off of work, she readily agreed that the day had been very productive and worth every penny!
Working with a professional organizer helps to make even relocating to a new home less stressful and a faster process, which in turn allows you to move forward in life enjoying your new (unpacked and organized) space!