Conquer Digital Clutter / MJ Rosenthal of An Organized Life on the Emily Rooney RadioShow


As a Newton Professional Organizer, I am lucky to have the opportunity to discuss getting organized with many different media sources.  I sat with Emily Rooney for her radio show to talk about how to conquer digital clutter.

Listen to the clip at:

Do you know what you want to keep?  What you want to throw away?  I can help.  I can show you how to cut your paper work and filing time in half, just by identifying what you can toss and what you should take the time to file.

I’m MJ Rosenthal, Newton professional organizer and organizational coaching specializing in helping people create balance between space, belongings and time – and providing coaching and training for Clients with ADD and Executive Function challenges.

#digitalorganizing #electronicorganizing #paperorganizing #nomorefiling #organizedlife #anorganizedlife

27 Great Tips to Keep Your Life Organized

27 Great Tips to Keep Your Life Organized


It’s a rare person among us who doesn’t feel the need to get more organized. I consider myself fairly organized, for example, but there are times when I get a little lax about my organizational rules, and there’s always room for improvement.

And if you’re already organized (read: you’re an organizational freak), chances are, you like to read about others’ organizational systems.

As such, there should be something for everyone on this list.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked all of you for your best organizational tips and tools. And you responded in force, with some great stuff. What follows are some of the best of the tips (tools will be in another post), edited for brevity and consistency.

I must emphasize: these are not my tips, but yours, and when you see the word “I” it refers to the reader writing the tip, not me. Names have been removed to protect the innocent.

  1. 3 Most Important Tasks. Writing down and making mental note of my top 3 tasks to get done for the day. Everything else seems to fall into place if I do that.
  2. An easy and workable task list, or to do list. While I love all of these handy web 2.0 apps, computer software, very neat gadgets like palms and really cool cell phones, they just don’t work for me. I’m a lazy woman, with an even lazier attitude. I might put a task in Remember the Milk, another task in my palm, one in my Gcal and send another text to my phone. With all of these different ways of doing things, I end up spending much more time trying to organize my to do list, or consolidate it, that I don’t get much actually done.
  3. Keep ubiquitous capture device. It might not be the same device for every location (I have a moleskine for work, but use my mobile for inspiration on the fly) but just being able to write stuff down when you think about it is key for me.
  4. Choose one tool and stick with it.
  5. Do one thing at a time.
  6. Do it now.
  7. Make use of the word no.
  8. Use the recycling bin/trash basket. Organizing unnecessary items is wasted energy. It is amazing how much more in control I feel just by ridding myself of now outdated articles I’d like to read “someday,” or countless meeting notes from which relevant action items have already been extracted.
  9. A (good) place for everything, and everything in its place. By finding places that are easy to get to for all the things I use most often, and places that are pretty easy to get to for the things I use less often, I spend less time dreading doing things and more time actually doing things. And the place for things you never use is elsewhere (trash can, place that accepts donations, etc.).
  10. Simplify, simplify, simplify!
  11. Put it away now. The single, simplest thing I do to stay personally organized is to put whatever tool, item, clothing, bag, hairbrush etc., away immediately after using it. I always know where everything and anything is so I never waste time looking for something. Very efficient. I could tell a stranger where to find anything in my home.
  12. Keep a to-do list that syncs with your mobile phone (so you can add stuff as and when you remember it). And make sure every item has a due date.
  13. Change. It obsoletes unimportant things. It brings down any method or idea that isn’t timeless. It brings up newer and more important things that you and others can’t resist anymore. Best of all: it’s an organizing tool that operates itself. You simply have to embrace it.
  14. Divide material into red, yellow, blue and green plastic file folders. For example, anything that has to be done today (paperwork to be given to a client, bills to be mailed) go in the red folder. Contact material or anything related to customer field support goes in the yellow folder. Your mileage may vary as to how you organize your briefcase, and like me you may also have project-specific manilla file folders as well, but dividing stuff up into just four color coded folders is a huge help.
  15. She helped me realize that I needed to apply GTD principles to my home life and not just work. I had work under control using checklists, projects and next actions. I tried the same system at home and failed. Then about a month ago I discovered courtesy I believe one of your blog posts. Wow, what a difference. My house is clean and so is my desk at work. Many if not most of her basic ideas are just like GTD in a slightly different perspective (control journal, baby steps) and also concrete methods for accomplishing next actions (2 minute hot spots, 15 minute timers). Her most useful tip was to put my daily/weekly lists into shiny page protectors in my control journal. I use a dry erase marker and voila no more killing trees or not doing my list because I can’t print it (or want to avoid the hassle). The best thing about this, I am more relaxed, my blood pressure is finally dropping and I feel less stressed.
  16. Unapologetically take control of your time and priorities.
  17. Sort at the source. My favorite organizational tool is my post office box. I visit it once a week (usually Saturday), stand at the counter in the lobby and sort my mail. I use the P.O.’s trash bin. What comes into my house is only what I need to have. Bills and letters and checks go into my inbox (which by the way is a box with a lid that is wrapped in lovely fabric and has a yellow bow on it so it looks like a present sitting on my desk). Reading material goes on the table by my chaise lounge which is where I do all my reading.
  18. A sheet of paper, a calendar and a white board. I’ve found that the easiest way to organize myself, my days and so forth is a good paper calendar, a sheet of paper that I divide into four sections and a medium sized white board. For my paper the top left section is my actual running to do list for today. The top right section is my running grocery list, or list of things I must purchase. The bottom left is for notes such as calls I made, who I spoke to, appointment dates. The bottom right is whatever I need to move to another day. If I’m told to call back on Monday, then I note that on the calendar. As for the white board, the kids can make notes (Can I spend the night at Brian’s on Friday? Grandma called), and I can jot down things as I think of them to be added to tomorrow’s to do list. My calendar, and the white board are in the same location, so I can transfer short notes if need be. I carry my paper task list with me everywhere, so I can make notes at any given moment.
  19. Color coding. I’m a visual person, and I find that color-coding my various lists and calendars minimizes the time I have to spend looking at them. This worked especially well when I was in school: I dumped every class syllabus into Outlook, and then color-coded every class period (blue for paper due, yellow for quiz, red for test, etc). It took awhile to set up, sure, but then for the rest of the semester I only had to glance at Outlook to get a very clear idea of what kind of week I was going to have.
  20. One binder. I use a binder cleverly labeled “@ 2007″ with the following divisions:
    • @ Today – With my Emergent Task Planner from;
    • @ Week – The remaining days of the week ETP’s as a skeleton;
    • @ Year – All my historical sheets;
    • @ Diet – Which tracks what I have eaten for the day;
    • @ Fitness – Which tracks my workout routine for the day. My binder is with me all the time and it has helped me become a better employee, family member and relationship guy.
  21. Write down, execute and tidy up on the way. These are is my organization bible. I’ve been living that way since more than two years and I can say that I’m an organized person.
  22. A little whiteboard on my bedroom wall. I have it separated into two sections, a “todo” and a “today”. “Todo” is a list of general things I have to do, like get my car inspected, buy someone a present, etc. Then “today” is what I need to do, obviously, today! Things can be moved back and forth as appropriate. I find having a specific list for today helps push me to get the important things done in a timely manner. I also keep two things permanently on the “today” part, which are meditation and exercise. This seems to help.
  23. Note cards. One can write tasks on them — one per card, or in a list (depending on the type of task in question; I do both). When doing one per card, the stack serves as an easy prioritization scheme. But wait, there’s more: They can be arranged on cork boards, shared, annotated, torn up and rearranged. They can be used as placeholders, as mini-white boards and as tokens to model ideas. They are easy to carry around, and to attach to other documents. Further, different colors allow for a visual representation of different kinds of todo’s (as can different annotations). Finally, they are cheap and most importantly of all: easy (much easier than software) to reconfigure as needs and projects change.
  24. Never rely on a single point of failure. I’ve seen people pay $1,000 to hear speakers at a conference and only have one pen to take notes. It’s a great feeling when one thing breaks, gets lost, or runs out of power, and you have another one in reserve!
  25. Have.. less.. stuff.
  26. Delegate. Learn to trust people with critical tasks in all areas of your life. When you learn to effectively delegate tasks you actually find that it is easier to keep the stuff you cannot delegate better organized.
  27. You control your life. Whatever electronics or paper you use, make them work for YOU not the other way around. Does Outlook really have to stay checking your email every 5 minutes? Maybe, but I bet you’ll get a whole lot more done if you check it a few times per day. That goes for the Blackberry too! After all, there are so many tools, and one to fit everyone – so use what works, but make it work for you!




27 Great Tips to Keep Your Life Organized

An Organized Life / Decluttering and Staging Sell Houses Faster



It is important to declutter your house so it appears to have lots of storage space.  Potential buyers want to feel like they can easily fit all their belongings and be well-organized.  All built-in cabinets and closets are fair game for potential buyers to inspect.  These areas must be clean, neat, and orderly.   There are several key areas in your house where you will want to focus your time.

1. Kitchen:
– Counter tops: Remove clutter from kitchen counter tops to show an expanse of counter space.  Rule of thumb suggests that you should not have more than 3 items on your counter.
– Under the sink: Remove as many items as possible from under the sink.  Place any remaining items in bins or baskets to keep them orderly.
– Cabinets:  Pack away anything that you have not used in the past year.  Remember all those items you purchased at that Pampered Chef party?  Don’t forget the fondue set and bread maker you received as a wedding gift.  They can all go into storage while your house is on the market.
– Pantry:  Throw away all spices that are over a year old.  Box up any dry goods that can go to the Food Bank.
– Refrigerator/freezer:  You may not plan to include your appliances in the sale of your house, but they can be used as a negotiating tactic…if they are in good shape.  Use this opportunity to give the refrigerator and freezer a full clean.  Dispose of all those old condiments and orderly replace remaining items.

2. Bathrooms:
– Counter tops:  Limit yourself to only hand soap plus one additional item on the counter.  No one wants to see your toothbrush when touring your house!
– Under the sink:  Dispose of any unnecessary items and place those remaining in bins.
– Medicine cabinet:  Potential buyers will look in your medicine cabinet.  Hide anything you do not want public and place as many items as possible in the bins under the sink.  You will want to lock prescription medicine away.
– Linen closet: Remove any unnecessary items and store away.  Neatly fold all linens and stack by color.  You can find our post on organizing a linen closet here.

3. Laundry Room: Make sure all products are neat and orderly.  You want to give the impression that it is easy (and fun) to do laundry in this space.  You can see an example of a organized laundry room here.

4. Clothes Closets: Pack and store off-season clothes and shoes.  Separate clothes types (eg. shirts, pants, long) and hang together by color.  Remove any extra hangers.

5. Office:  File away all paper and corral computer cords.  Desks should be clear of all clutter with only a few items showcased on top.

6. Kid’s Stuff:  While your house is on the market, kid’s toys should be put away in cabinets or bins.  What will not fit should be boxed up and placed in storage.  (The same goes for pet toys and products.)
Note: This is not the time to stock up on toilet paper and beef-a-rino from Costco.  Replace food and toiletries only as needed.

How to Stage a Patio: Before by The Sweet Spot Blog


It is important to stage your house so it looks open, airy, and inviting.   Potential buyers should walk into your living room and want to relax on the couch.  They should go into your bathroom and want to take a bubble bath.  Take the example of my small upper deck above.  It is dull and brown.  Now look at the ‘after’ photo below.

How to Stage a Patio: After by The Sweet Spot Blog

Do you see what a difference a few plants and pillows can make?  Now potential buyers will want to sit down, drink a cup of coffee, and read the paper!  Here are a few key staging suggestions to consider:

1. Spacious: Rooms should appear spacious.  Store any unnecessary pieces of furniture to allow for easy movement around the room and throughout the house.

2. Personal Items: Remove all personal items, such as photos.  Potential buyers want to see themselves living in the house, not you.

3. Plants: Replace all dead or dying plants.  Use real plants, not fake ones.

How to Sell House Fast!: Staging Secrets by The Sweet Spot Blog

4. Bath: Use ‘fancy’ hand soap and shower products to stage for showings.  Potential buyers do not want to see your old razor and facial wash in your shower.  Look at the before photo (with my old razor) and after photo below with staged shower accessories.

How to Sell House Fast!: Staging Secrets by The Sweet Spot Blog

Decluttering and staging can be fun!  You will find that you are more organized and comfortable in your own home.  Potential buyers will be envious of a home that is so harmonious and will want to live there themselves.


#getorganized #organizedlilfe #anorganizedlife #habit #routine #stayorganized #organizedspaces #beautifullyorganized #stayingorganized #organizesimply #iloveorganizing #loveorganizing #simplyorganized #organizedcloset #closet #beautifulcloset #beautifullyorganizedcloset #organizedclothes #organizedclothing #professionalorganizer #professionalorganizing #personalorganizer #organizemyday #howtoorganizemyday #organizemydayforproductity #productivity #organizedday #organizedhome #personalorganizing #personalorganizer

#sellyourhouse #declutterandstage

An Organized Life – 7 ways to become minimalistic

Great article by Josh Becker – love it.






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#icanfindit #notamess

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#organizedspaces #beautifullyorganized #stayingorganized

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