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Last month (wow, time flies!) I was interviewed by the awesome Andreea Ayers for her Ecopreneur Ave blog.  Check it out!

1.    What is One Organized Life and when did you start the company?
One Organized Life is a Professional Organizing business that has become so much more! I started working with clients in the summer of 2006.

2.    What inspired you to start your business?
I find that there are two kinds of disorganized people (generally speaking): The chronically disorganized and the situationally disorganized. I was going through a situational disorganization of my own – a great job, but one I wasn’t passionate about, a relationship that should have been over, and so on.  I had a lot of mental clutter – junk in my head clouding my brain. I felt incredibly overwhelmed, depressed, and just plain stuck in life. This had happened to me at other challenging times in life. That mental clutter manifested itself in my space. I needed help tackling it so I started looking for someone to help me.  I spoke with several people and met with a couple. I could not find the right fit either in price or personality of the organizer. I finally decided I would work through it myself. It took a while, but I did it. I made a decision that I wanted to help other people who felt the way that I did. I wanted to help them change their lives and feel better about their space. I sought out my first client, and that is how my business was born!

3.    What makes your services different?
I really tailor everything I do to my clients. There is no one size fits all solution. Every client is different and so is their space. I talk in detail with my clients about what their goals are – and not just for organizing. Also, because I know what my clients are going through, I can relate to them on a different level than someone who has not been in their position.

Check out the full interview on Ecopreneur Ave!

Andreea Ayers, founder of Tees For Change, started Ecopreneur Avenue to share her experience of being an eco-entrepreneur and a mom-entrepreneur. This site provides business resources, interviews, product reviews and information for entrepreneurs.

Love It or Lose It

Take a look around you. Every single item you see represents your choice to have that item in your life. You either chose to purchase the item, or were given the item and chose to keep it. From your new red sweater to the pile of junk mail on your kitchen counter, every item represents a choice made.

When your life is full of clutter, you might begin to resent all the “stuff” around you. Why do you think that happens? Often it is because you don’t LOVE the stuff you are looking at! Maybe the sweater doesn’t fit anymore. Maybe it was an impulse purchase that you now regret. Sometimes we purchase too much of a good thing – who really needs five staplers? – because it is much easier to buy the thing we need than find it in the junk yard that has become our home or office. When someone sends a gift or just gives us something we “have to” have, we often feel obligated to keep it “for a little while.” Let me tell you, I’ve met plenty of people whose “little while” is now 5+ years.

Make a choice NOW to change things. Start small. Pick five items around you. If you don’t absolutely love the item, find it useful/functional, or it doesn’t add beauty to your environment, get rid of it. Ebay, CraigsList, yard sale, trash can. I don’t care – let it go. It doesn’t matter if you paid $100 for it. If you have the receipt, take it back. No receipt? Ebay or donate it. Your peace of mind is more important than $100.

What items are you holding on to that you need to let go of?

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My goals for 2009

After writing so much about goals, including the New Year’s post yesterday, I have, of course, been asked what my goals are. Well here you go!:

Personal:

– Exercise at least one hour a week (not including all the walking I do).  Hey, like I always say, start small! The quickest way for me to fail is to say “exercise 3 days a week!”

– Read two books per month. One fiction, one non-fiction (It’s been a while since I’ve read any fiction cover to cover)

– Get 6-8 hours of sleep each night

– Have one FULL day off from work or ANYTHING work related each week.

– Get better at saying NO.

Professional:

– Work with clients 4 – 5 days a week

– Spend one day each week writing for all outlets I am published through

– Cultivate at least 3 joint ventures

– Delegate anything I possibly can.

– Consistently have a minimum of 2 events per month for my networking group.

– Create a marketing plan for the year

– Develop a semi-formal board of advisors

– Reorganize all my business cards

– Join 1 to 2 additional professional networks

– Drop out of 2 – 3 ineffective networking groups or groups that are in areas I don’t want to travel to

This is just a snippet of my goals list. I have a lot more! Some are way to personal for me to want to post here (sorry!) Some can be done in minutes, some will take all year. Others won’t take long, but they have to happen at a specific time. The key to the goals I set is that they are reasonable. I think it is fantastic to dream big – I do all the time, but the actual goals I set are attainable.

It is unrealistic to expect that I could buy a house this year. But I could start saving for one. I could say “I want to meet 10 new people every day.”  Certainly doable, but at what cost? How in depth would these meetings be? What quality of contact am I looking for? I could walk up to any Starbucks and introduce myself to 10 people in line that I have no intent of speaking to again. Or, I could sacrifice time normally set aside for clients to attend events where I can meet different people. A more appropriate goal for me would be “add two additional key players to my network each month that I would feel confident referring people to.” Another option “attend one event each month where I don’t know anyone in attendance.” Could I sort and purge every area of my apartment on Monday? Sure, if I cancel my client and meetings. Instead, why don’t I pick an area to tackle each day this week?

I’m excited about my goals because WHEN I achieve them, they all play a part in driving me closer to the ideal vision I have for my life. I hope you have some fantastic goals for yourself and that you really strive to achieve them.

– Alaia

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I ran across an article about New Years resolutions.  Here’s a snippet.:

“This is going to be a very different year for many people,” Greg Helmstetter, CEO of myGoals.com, states in a press release. “In 2009, we expect people to forego big moves, career changes or vacations, and instead focus on reconnecting with friends, spending time with family, and organizing and improving their home.”

Here in Frederick, resolutions made by those interviewed for this story reflect those expectations. Organizing homes and decreasing personal debt were common wishes expressed by people at Francis Scott Key Mall and in downtown Frederick.

Church Street resident Jane Mackley said she can’t remember if she made a 2008 resolution, but she’s ready for 2009.

“I’ve been procrastinating too long about getting things organized around the house and getting rooms painted and getting on the stick with all of that,” she said. “Hopefully it will be a better year for getting things done around the house.”

It was interesting to read about various people’s goals and why some people have made the firm decision to get organized. Check it out! Read the full article at wtop.com

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Personally, I do not make New Years resolutions. There’s nothing wrong with making resolutions. They make people feel warm and fuzzy. It’s nice to feel warm and fuzzy sometimes. The problem with resolutions is that most people drop them by the end of the month – some people simply state the resolution and never even really try. Do you know many people join gyms in January? A lot!

If you want to get organized this year, whether it is for your home, office, car, purse, or brain, I have a challenge for you.  Write down the resolutions. Post them up somewhere prominent. Put them in your planner. Tell your friends and family.  But don’t just stop with stating the resolution – turn it into a goal and turn that goal into your reality. Set manageable deadlines and milestones.

If you want to “get organized in ’09” stop being so broad. What do you want to organize? Even if you feel like you want to organize “everything,” list what everything means to you – your home, your office, your paperwork, children’s rooms, the garage, the basement, family photos.  List out what you want to do so you have a better picture of what is ahead of you.

You can NOT do everything at once – even if you have nothing else to do with your time. So break down the work. What is your goal for January? The office? Okay, great. So maybe at the top of your January calendar page you write “Goal: Organize my office.”  The next thing you should do is decide what you can do each week to get you closer to that goal. For example:

  • Week 1: Filing all papers so that all 2008 stuff is out of the way and I have fresh files for 2009
  • Week 2: Organizing all office supplies and making sure I purchase the appropriate ones so I have everything I need.
  • Week 3: Getting everything out of the office that does not belong in the office
  • Week 4: Rearrange the furniture, have a cleaning crew come through, creating a marketing plan for 2008, etc.

While “organize everything” and “organize my office” are broad goals, these narrowed down sub-goals are practical, achievable goals. Of course, you can break it down further. For week one, a daily goal could be to spend 15, 30, or 60 minutes a day filing (based on how much paper you have!). Of perhaps your goal is to schedule someone to come in during week one and do the filing for you. Perhaps you’ll hire a Professional Organizer. Maybe during week 4 you will with a feng shui expert, a cleaning crew, an interior designer, and a marketing consultant who can have you create a system for marketing your business.

This same formula can work for every area you want to organize. Just scale it appropriately. Maybe you spend a week cleaning out your car and set daily goals: toss all trash, buy a receipt organizer, buy small baskets for the car and talk to the kids about only having as much stuff in the car as will fit in the basket. When everyone gets out of the car, they put all of their stuff into their container. Purchase a mobile organizer that holds notebooks, pens, calculators, etc.

If you want to achieve your goals, whatever they might be, you have to do more than simply stating them. Take action. Start now while the calendar is fresh and there is optimism in the air. If you start planning now and work toward your goals, you will achieve great success this year.

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Well, the holidays are here and I’ve already wished many a Happy Hannukah this week already.  Merry Christmas to those celebrating on Thursday.

Don’t forget to bookmark or subscribe to this blog and visit us after the holidays. Here’s a rundown of what’s in store:

– Getting organized for the New Year (business and personal)

– Ask Alaia (submit your questions about organizing, simplicity, or time management via comment or email info AT oneorganizedlife.com !)

…and more!

Enjoy your week !

– Alaia

Have someone in your life that could use practical gift this holiday season? Hey, some practical gifts are pretty cool!

While browsing the web, I came across an article  with 10 suggestions for organizing gifts at LifeOrganizers.com.  Go check it out!

If you celebrate Christmas, most likely you’ve started purchasing Christmas decorations. When the holidays have passed, you’ll need a place to properly store your decorations until the winter holidays roll around again. And if you procrastinators out there are going to be decorating the night before your family arrives in town, go ahead and keep the following tips in mind when you do your shopping.

5 Hints for Holiday Storage from Solutions.com

My mom LOVES Christmas and I definitely think she could use some of these organizing tools. Sometimes I don’t think you need a customized bin for everything you plan to store. But I think things like tree bags, ornament containers, and something to keep Christmas lights from getting tangled isn’t a bad idea.

Enjoy!

Alaia

I’ve been blogging for a long time. It started way back in 2000. While it was not literally a lifetime ago, it certainly feels like it was. I must say, I have certainly changed a lot in (almost) nine years. I suppose you could say I came of age blogging.

Lately, I have been doing some new media/social media consulting for various small business owners. Most have asked “is blogging worth it?” The answer is not the same for everyone, but for me it is a yes.  While I can not pinpoint one major way blogging has impacted my life (a new job, a soul mate, or anything like that), blogging is just part of who I am.

I’ve been writing for a long time. Way back in kindergarten, I started writing stories. Sure, my writing was illegible back then, but I knew what I was trying to express! I was published when I was in elementary school and again in middle school. These were very very small scale publications, but to me, it meant the world.  When  I was 15, going on 16, my mom decided to move us across town, which meant going to a brand new school in a brand new city.  I didn’t know how I was going to make it. Sure, we lived eight places in one city before, but I never moved to a totally new place and played the role of New Kid. I was usually the one who helped the new kids get acquainted. That summer, on August 13, 2000, I blogged for the very first time. Good old LiveJournal. NONE of my friends even knew what LiveJournal was. I turned them all on to it – and after a while it became the way we kept track of each other. I joined groups, and sent and received postcards from other LJ users. While LJ helped me keep in touch with friends old and new when I was in high school.  In college, blogging really was a saving grace.

My college years can be summed up in one word: struggle. Or depression. Or frustration. Or….you get the idea. But I could vent on Livejournal and get support there. I could express who I really was while continuing to write, which was something that was always fun and therapeutic for me. I wrote about my many many insecurities. I wrote about my favorite Christian bands (I had a brief Christian music phase for a couple of years), movies like Boyz in the Hood, and what I wanted in a man (which, six years later is almost still the same). I grew up blogging. I blogged about my first kiss, my college life, my out-of-state internship.

I maintained the LiveJournal for years – until late 2005, when I created a blog on Typepad. I used this new blog to talk about pop culture, concerts, music, books – anything BUT the details of my personal life. I wanted another outlet to share what I thought about what was going on in the world. Plus, I wanted my writing to me a little more focused. As always, friends come and go in life, but blogging was always there. When certain friends disappeared because their boyfriends became their sole priority – I could blog about what was going through my head at 3am. I could write something down and an online friend across the country could read it and lend his or her support. Blogging always provided me with a support network. And I loved that what I wrote reached people and impacted them. I could be who I was and it was okay.

Blogging and I took a  hiatus for a while, when my life got so crazy that I couldn’t get my head on straight and tight enough to write. I left college. I had a great job, but didn’t love it. My life felt like it was in total chaos. I decided to start a business. Wait – I decided to start a business? I NEVER thought I’d be a business owner, working for myself in any way, shape or form. David Duchovny’s wife, architect, psychologist, film critic, media analyst, non-profit guru, Mother Teresa… these were the things I saw myself as over the years. But I did it. I started One Organized Life based on a passion for helping people feel better about their lives. I didn’t want anyone to feel stuck, lost, alone, or boxed in, like I did. That’s not so bad right?

My life has changed radically since I got my first “real” client back in 2006. I lost my boyfriend/best friend who was probably my biggest supporter (no, he didn’t die, he just dumped me). Part time jobs came and went. Friendships dissolved. Saw a couple of different therapists. I moved twice and downsized my living space. Went on dead-end dates. I started a networking group for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Most importantly, I felt like I had found my purpose in life and did not want to spend another day NOT living it out. And yes, that combined purpose is my business and my networking group.

My life would be so much easier and less stressful if I was working a 9-to-5 job. Go to work, come home, collect steady paycheck. I’ve never had a cushy luxurious life with college paid for or a new car after graduating high school (or college for that matter). I’ve never dined at a 5 star restaurant or taken a trip outside of the country (other than an overnight trip to Mexico…when I was eight…with my babysitter and her kids). My life is even less cushy now. I don’t think ANY of my friends would trade for my life. But you know what, I wouldn’t trade for any of theirs either (though sometimes it can seem tempting…). So, as I went along earlier this year, continuing to make sacrifices in my personal life so that I could attempt to continue helping clients, I thought, “what can I do to feel a little better?” I’m sure you know what it is… I came back to blogging. And that’s how this blog was launched. I wanted to write again, express myself, and hopefully help people with my words again. I figured, well, if I have to take on another job and just work with clients on the side, at least the posts will be out there for people to see.

My goal with blogging has never been to make money. My goal was not even to get clients (though it has happened a couple of times). What I really wanted to do was put information out there that would help someone out in the universe overcome a barrier. I’ve gotten a few encouraging emails and comments. I was interviewed on an internet radio show and got some great feedback. And you know what? Occasionally, I do get a phone call from someone on the verge of tears, calling to hire me to help them because they read my blog and they understand that I get it. And really, that’s what it is all about for me right now. You can get a Top 10 Organizing Tips article from hundreds of sources online. Whoopdido. I’ll probably even post one at some point. But if the content on this blog or any blog I’ve ever had inspires someone, motivates them, makes them laugh, or gets them to pick up the phone to get help (and no, it doesn’t have to be from me), I honestly couldn’t ask for more.

So when someone asks me, is blogging worth it? Well, my short answer is, “Absolutely!”

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I’m not big on the holidays and wasn’t planning on doing a Thanksgiving themed post, but lately I have just been thinking that I have so much to be thankful for. Sometimes it is little things. Sometimes it is something that is huge, but I don’t see it in the moment.

I’m really really thankful for HELP. That’s for sure. We all need help at MANY points in our lives, so that is nothing original. But I am so appreciative of the help I have received. In a season full of transitions, here is a snippet of the help I am thankful for:

– my Ladies Who Launch incubator group –  a group of amazing women who have provided lots of support, insights, and ideas over the past couple of weeks as I have wondered how to proceed with the expansion of my business.

– members of my networking group who provide feedback, attend events, and help me brainstorm!

– a friend who gave me an emergency ride last night when I was stranded.

– my mother, who came to stay on and off in October to help me through the rapid transitions I was going through.

– fantastic business associates who have referred clients to me and offered me speaking opportunities.

These people (and more!) have helped me in immeasurable ways in the past few crazy months. Even in weeks (like this week) and days like this one, where I feel a little stressed and that I needs TONS more help, I am incredibly grateful for what I have been given – and for the people who trust and respect me and care about me. How great is that?

Like I said, I am not crazy about holidays (I wish I could sleep all day tomorrow!), but for all of you that love them like mad, I hope you have a great Thanksgiving with the ones you love!

– Alaia