I love doing genealogy research. (If you’d like to know more about that, check out my blog Organize Your Family History.) I’ve actually created a habit of doing research every day, first thing in the morning. I haven’t missed a day since August 1—which especially pleases me because I took a week-long trip during that time.
I research frequently, but not typically at length. I try to research for at least 30 minutes a day. Occasionally the research session is shorter than that and sometimes it’s longer. For example, I spent most of the day researching with a friend last month at the St. Louis County Library’s Genealogy Room.
I was hoping to take a research trip to Kentucky this month, but decided it wasn’t a prudent way to spend my time and money. My consolation prize is that I’m going to spend all day today and tomorrow on my research. After I get a couple of work-related tasks out of the way, I’m going to focus on my research, with the intention of visiting the St. Louis Public Library’s Genealogy Room and perhaps making my way back to the County library. Getting away from my desk and its distractions will be really helpful.
Why am I writing about that here? Because I think it’s so easy for us to let the responsibilities and tasks of home and work life get in the way of pursuing our passions and having fun. It feels like I could spend all day every day running my business and keeping my house organized. But that’s not the life I want to lead.
For me, genealogy is the passion I want to explore more. For you it might be a yoga practice or a craft. Whatever it is, I encourage you to try making time to do it. I can assure you, the other stuff will wait.
In addition to blogging here a couple of times a week, I also have a monthly newsletter, which comes out on the 15th of the month. There’s not a whole lot of overlap between the two, though occasionally I like a newsletter article so much I run it in the blog (or vice versa). And each newsletter contains links to four or five favorite blog posts from the previous month.
Some months, I have special offers for newsletter readers only.
Just over a month ago, I had the newsletter format changed so it would be mobile responsive. It’s a cleaner, easy-to-read look, no matter if you’re reading it on your phone, tablet or computer.
You can read the archives of the newsletter (I’ve published it monthly since the beginning of 2008!) and/or subscribe so that it lands in your email inbox on the 15th of every month. If you subscribe, you’ll receive my free pdf, The 12 Most Common Organizing Mistakes.
Just go to the Newsletters page of my website to read the newsletter archive or subscribe to new newsletters.
In the spring of 2016, I read the book Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. I had heard a talk about the Profit First concept from Cathy Sexton of The Productivity Experts who gave a presentation about it to the St. Louis chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals. I was intrigued so I bought the book. After I read the book, I decided to implement the system. It’s been wonderful for my business and for my financial security.
The basic premise of the system is to pay yourself first and also put away money for taxes and profit, before paying operating expenses. Most people pay operating expenses first and risk running out of money for taxes or for paying themselves. Michalowicz calls it “reverse engineering your profitability.”
I set up a spreadsheet in which I enter each payment I receive from a client. In the spreadsheet I designate how much of that deposit was paid out in wages and materials. The difference is my Real Revenue. In the spreadsheet I allocate 15 percent of Real Revenue for taxes, 5 percent for profit and 50 percent for owner’s pay. The remaining 30 percent is for operating expenses. According to Michaelowicz, if I can’t afford to pay my operating expenses from that 30 percent, then I need to cut my operating expenses.
Twice a month, I tally up my taxes, profit and owner’s pay amounts and transfer them from default Operating Expenses bank account into the appropriate bank accounts. This means that I have four bank accounts (Operating Expenses, Owner’s Pay, Tax and Profit), rather than the two I formerly had for my business (Checking and Savings). Once the tiny bit of work to set up those accounts was done, it became very easy.
This shift in thinking has been revolutionary for me. My revenue, like that of many professional organizers and small business owners, fluctuates. By consistently transferring 50 percent of my Real Revenue into my Owner’s Pay account and then transferring a set amount from the Owner’s Pay account into the joint account shared by my husband and me, I avoid suffering because of that fluctuation. During flush times, the balance of the Owner’s Pay account grows, creating a reserve for the lean times.
When it’s time to pay my quarterly estimated taxes, the money is waiting for me in my Tax account. Watching my Profit account grow is a real joy. Even more enjoyable is the quarterly bonus I give myself. Profit First mandates that you take one-half of the amount you transferred into your Profit account each quarter as a quarterly bonus. (The rest stays in the Profit account as a reserve.) You’re not supposed to use the bonus for your business. It’s supposed to be used for something fun, like a vacation.
In my case, I purchased tickets to see Hamilton, my favorite musical, in Chicago with my bonuses. I’ve now seen it twice! I can spend a hefty amount for this pleasure without guilt because of Profit First. That feels amazing.
If you’re a small business owner, I heartily recommend reading this book and giving serious thought to implementing the program. There are detailed instructions, including what the appropriate percentages for your business are. A second edition came out earlier this year, which I purchased I read. It’s so worthwhile!
On July 1, 2016 I decided to try out Courtney Carver’s Project 333, an experiment in having a minimal wardrobe. I thought I’d do it for a year, but I think I’m hooked. Each quarter, I select 33 articles of clothing from which to dress for the next three months. The clothes I don’t wear, but don’t want to give away, reside in bins in my basement. I’ve blogged about my collection each time I’ve made the selection.
October 1 marked the start of my sixth quarter doing this. I’ve been traveling so I’ve been a little behind but today I finalized the collection. Because I’ve been doing it so long and I’ve proven to myself I can do it, I decided to cut myself some slack and give myself permission to have as many clothes as I wanted in this season’s collection, rather than limit myself to 33.
I had a pleasant surprise. Even though I’d given myself permission to have as much as I wanted, when I chose the clothes for this collection, the number came to only 36.
Here’s why: I have found that having fewer clothes in my closet makes my life so much better. Far from feeling limited, I feel liberated by having fewer choices to make when I get dressed. It gives me time for more important things in my life!
My collection includes clothes, shoes and accessories that I wear out of the house to client appointments (but not team organizing appointments, to which I wear work-out clothing) and social events and just going about life. It does not include dog-walking clothes, exercise clothes, pajamas or underwear. This quarter, I decided to exclude jewelry and coats from the count.
Here’s what made the cut:
Here’s a photo of the collection. I love how I can see everything in my closet and I don’t have to think hard about what to wear. (I could probably put on a blindfold and pull out an outfit, since everything is coordinated.)
It feels ample and abundant to me and I’m very excited for cold weather to finally arrive so I can wear these clothes!
I got up this morning at 5:30 to get some important tasks done before I leave for a client appointment. Over a year ago, I wrote this post about using the precious early-morning time and I’m still making great use of the time I have when everyone is asleep. I’m still doing my genealogy research first thing in the morning and it’s working out very well!
I’m a morning person. I know that I’m most productive in the morning. Especially first thing in the morning. My brain is turned on and I can be pretty focused when everyone else in the house is asleep. (And by everyone else, I mean my husband and dog.)
I’ve learned that if I want to get something done I should do it during this precious early-morning time. For me, this is especially true of blogging. It’s easier for me to blog first thing in the morning than later in the day. I have trouble sitting down and focusing on blogging in the afternoon or evening. So I know that if I want to blog consistently, I am best off doing it in the morning.
Recently, I’ve turned that early-morning focus to doing genealogy research. (I blogged about this very thing on Organize Your Family History recently.) I had not been taking the time to do genealogy research, which was really disappointing me. Now that I’m doing it first thing, I’m really enjoying it and making progress. Of course that makes blogging the second thing I do in the morning, but that’s working out too.
I started to think about the things I can do to make it easier for me to do important things first thing, even on days where I have early client appointments. I’d prefer not to have to get up earlier, so I try to do routine things the night before instead of taking precious morning-brain time in the morning. These things include:
Just doing these easy things the afternoon or evening before can allow me to harness the power of my early-morning brain. If you’re a morning person and you have something you’re having trouble getting done, you might give it a try.
If you’re an evening person—which is okay too, of course—you might try switching this up for your schedule. If you know your peak time, work around that. If you’re on your game at 9 pm try to make sure the mindless before-bed stuff is done so that you can really get into your flow at 9 and nothing gets in your way.
Is there something you’ve been wanting to accomplish regularly that keeps going undone? Try doing it before everything else.
I had lunch with my friend and former team member, Julie Hough of Enjoy Mouse Travel, the other day and she pulled a plastic contact lens holder out of her purse. She casually opened it, dipped her finger in and rubbed it on her lips. I immediately stopped the conversation to ask her more about what was in that contact lens case, since it obviously wasn’t holding contact lenses! Julie uses a special lip ointment and she makes it very portable (and non-messy) by filling the little compartment with ointment.
I thought it was brilliant and snapped a photo of it. It seems to me that you could use these highly portable, tightly sealing cases for a lot of things, including pills, lip balm, even makeup.
I mentioned this in my newsletter last month. If you don’t subscribe to my monthly newsletter (it comes out on the 15th of every month), now’s a good time to start because I just had the format refreshed so that it’s now mobile responsive. I think the new format is a little easier to read and I now have the capability to add photos, if I’d like. I occasionally offer promotions to newsletter readers, so it might be worth subscribing.
P.S. Julie left organizing to become a Disney Travel Planner. She did a guest blog post about her services with Enjoy Mouse Travel back in June 2017. If you’re planning any sort of Disney trip I encourage you to contact her—you can enjoy an organized, stress-free Disney trip without any charge for her services!
It’s not unusual for a new client to ask me what she should do before I arrive at her home for the first time. (And, yes, most—but not all—of my clients are women.) Most assume they need to clean up the house.
I almost always suggest that the client not clean up her home for me. Piles and messy spots can be revealing. They reveal where the client and/or her family naturally tends to rest stuff. They reveal the stuff that’s actually in use, typically. They reveal an absence of a working system for handling the mail.
There’s no need to be ashamed of piles and messy spots. It’s why you’re looking for help, after all. (And believe me, I’ve had professional organizers help me in my home, so I understand the discomfort of airing my dirty laundry, so to speak.)
What you can do that is helpful is to spend a little type visualizing what you would like your space—and your life—to be once you achieve your organizing goals. Try to put that into words that you can share with your organizer. Knowing what success looks like is a huge part of achieving it. And being able to communicate that vision of success will really help your organizer.
So I suggest you put aside the notion that you have to clean up. Take that energy and put it into thinking and perhaps writing down what you desired when you decided to call in an organizer. And, please, be kind to yourself. Self-recrimination over a messy space doesn’t do you or anyone else any good.