Free Your Space: Practicing what I preach

In the world of professional organizing, January is known as "GO" month, that is, Get Organized month.

During this month, the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and its chapters around the country make a concerted effort to educate the public about the benefits and habits of being organized.

Here in the Greater Philadelphia area, professional organizers are present at Home Shows throughout the month giving "How-to" presentations, answering questions and handing out free organizing products and information.

It is funny therefore that, while we are encouraging others to set aside time to organize, make plans and manage their time, we ourselves are being organizationally challenged by all the extra activity that GO month demands.  Between Home Shows, membership drives, products expos and my own clients, my January couldn't be more full.

So I am going to fill you in on how, as an organizing and productivity professional, I am able to manage it all - my home, family, businesses, NAPO-GPC chapter... the works!

Lists. One of the best organizing tools I know of is list-making.  But, before you begin writing on your napkin, let me give you a couple of tips.

- To capture and update your to-do lists, keep one physical notebook or online task planner to which you can refer.

- Divide your list into the different areas of your life that you are responsible for: Kids, Work, Household, etc. I use one Master list, divided into 4 sections (personal, All Right Organizing, All Right Moves, NAPO-GPC) that I check-in with at least twice a day.

- Tackle the list by addressing activities by type: phone calls, writing tasks, bill paying, etc.  You may be able to cross items off of the Work list and the Kids list by making all phone calls during the same time period.

Schedules.  Managing a schedule is easier when there are certain repetitive tasks that are completed on a consistent day of the week or month.  Managing a home and a business is a challenge.  It's easier for me to keep up with my responsibilities when I know that I have a certain day of the week to do laundry, pay bills, change sheets, etc.  Because those regular tasks are assigned to specific days, I tend not to let them fall behind.

Calendar. Embrace one calendar. There are so many calendar options flying around lately.  And some of them enter our homes uninvited.  We have wall calendars, pocket calendars, paper planners, computer-based calendars (such as Outlook) and cloud-based calendars (such as iCal or Google Calendar).  With all of this, it is easy to lose track of where you've written which appointment and for what!  In my family, we stick to one calendar and that one happens to be cloud-based.  It offers each of us the ability to keep personal appointments private and to share schedules with each other that need sharing.  It also allows for booking and updating appointments on the go. I also like the fact that there is more space to include the details of each appointment that a paper calendar allows - addresses, phone numbers, attendees and other pertinent facts about each appointment are right there on my calendar.

Team Work.  We are all busy these days.  It is sometimes hard to ask someone else for help and much easier to think that everything and every aspect of every thing is up to me alone.  Well, that's one way to handle things.  But I find that asking for advice and for help is another, healthier way.  The times that I spend listening to and working together with others are the times that add the fullness of rich relationships to my life.  Offering help to others and loosening my controlling grip enough to receive help is what keeps my organized life balanced and worth it.

I invite any of my readers to stop by the Philly Home Show XFinity Experience stage between 3:30 and 5:30pm on Friday, January 24th.  I would be delighted to meet you.

* To contact Annette Reyman for organizing work, professional unpacking, productivity support, gift certificates or speaking engagements call 610-213-9559 or email her at Reyman is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO®) and President of its Greater Philadelphia Chapter. Visit her websites at and Follow All Right Organizing on Facebook and Pinterest.

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