7 Ways to Improve Productivity when Working from Home

7 Ways to Improve Productivity When Working from Home7 Ways to Improve Productivity when Working from Home

Working from home may sound like a dream come true to many people, but it brings about many challenges in managing both your space and time.  Creating a productive work-life balance is key to making working from home successful.  Here are some tips on ways to improve productivity when you work from home.

Separate your work space from your home space

Creating separate spaces for home and work activities is essential.  Set aside an area of your home to be your working space.  This may be in a home office or spare bedroom.  It is important that you have this space to give you privacy and eliminate distractions.

Set up privacy in your work area

Close the door to your workspace and place a sign on it when you are working.  If your workspace is in an open floor plan, divide the room with a privacy screen, a curtain, or use furniture such as a bookcase or cubical storage unit to divide the “work” and “home” areas.

Eliminate distractions during work time

Do your best to eliminate distractions during work time, such as turning off the home phone ringer, ignoring the doorbell and letting neighbors, family and friends know that you do not accept visitors during your work hours.

Occasionally work off site if needed

Some people find they are able to focus better if they are outside the home.  This doesn’t mean you need to go into an office.  You may want to schedule time at a coffee shop, library or co-working space.

Time block your schedule

Use your calendar or planner to schedule your day into blocks of time for both work and home activities.  For example, maybe your work time is from 9am-12pm, home time to have lunch and do home related errands is from 12-1pm.  Block out your time just as you would if you were working in an office.  

Use alarms, timers and apps to stay on track

Set reminders, alerts or alarms on your electronic devices to remind you when to start work and when to take breaks, and to keep track of your to-do list. Clocks such as the Time-Timer may help to manage your time. Using the Pomodoro technique may also help you to stay focused and make sure you take breaks as needed.  There are also many apps that help you keep track of your to-do list such as Due, Wunderlist or Producteev.

Outsource home errands

Sometimes, it is easier to outsource help managing your home so that you can focus on work.  Consider hiring a cleaning service, a lawn care service, a personal assistant or a nanny to help with the home errands.

14 Reasons to Organize your Home Office

14 Reasons to Organize Your Home Office Title

14 Reasons to Organize your Home Office

Home offices are one of the most common rooms I am hired to organize. So many people are working from home, or trying to juggle a busy home life and work at the same time, that a home office can quickly become cluttered and overwhelming.  Getting your home office better organized will not only improve your work productivity, but it can also benefit you by lowering stress at home.  Here are just some of the many reasons to organize your home office.

14 Reasons to Organize your Home Office

-Better organization can improve productivity and increase income.

– Save time searching for items you cannot find.

-Streamlined filing systems, reference material storage, and office supply storage will save you both time and money.

-To create a more comfortable workspace with the correct chair, desk and ergonomic set-up for you.

-For a more visually appealing workspace that makes you want to spend time in the home office.

-To make it easier to manage cords and charge electronics.

-For better use of time with improved to-do lists, calendar systems and overall time management skills.

-To save money by not repurchasing items you know you own but cannot find.

-To make space for others to visit such as clients or assistants.

-For quicker preparation for events, meetings and business travel.

-To create improved systems for accounting, budgeting and bill paying.

-To separate your home from business spaces for your business tax purposes.

-Organized tax papers make tax filing time less stressful.

-Less clutter and more organization will make cleaning easier and faster.

Ways to Create Routines and Habits to Stay Organized

Ways to Create Routines and Habits to Stay Organized Title

Ways to Create Routines & Habits to Stay Organized

Getting organized is not a one time event. As items and tasks on your to-do list come into your home, office and calendar, you need to set up routines and habits to stay organized.  Like any other habit such as eating healthy or exercising more, starting and keeping habits to stay organized require planning, will-power, and daily attention.

Tips to set up routines & habits to stay organized:

Create a place for everything.

Once all items have a home, it will be easier to put things away regularly.

Have one central calendar for all appointments.

Digital calendars work well because they are portable, can be easily updated and shared.  If you prefer paper, use a portable planner or small calendar.

Create a place for every task on your calendar.

For example, if you need to do laundry once per week, look at your calendar and choose a time to wash and put away the clothes.  If every Sunday from 7-8pm is “put away laundry time,” you will prevent clothing clutter from gathering in bedrooms.

Schedule a “tidy-up” time each day.

If you have already organized your spaces, tidying up shouldn’t take very long, if you do it daily.  I suggest you spend just 15 minutes tidying up each night.  Have a collection basket to bring things to other rooms to quickly put items back in place.

Plan, plan, plan.

Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan,  you are planning to fail”.  The best way to create a routine is to plan ahead.  Think about your goals and priorities, the areas of your home or office that quickly become disorganized, and plan what needs to be done, when it should be done, and who should do it to make sure it stays organized.

By | 2017-02-27T13:31:24+00:00 March 29th, 2017|habits, organizing, routines, Time Management|0 Comments

How Getting Organized Can Cut Down on Chore Time

How Getting Organized Can Cut Down on Chore Time Title

How Getting Organized Can Cut Down on Chore Time

Saving time is one of the greatest benefits of getting organized.  Household chores particularly take up a lot of free time.  Here are some ways getting organized can cut down on chore time.

Doing Laundry

To save time doing laundry, put all dirty socks in a mesh lingerie wash bag before washing.  All socks will remain together and you will save time searching for socks during the folding process.

By having multiple laundry baskets sorted by lights and darks or by family member, it will be quicker to wash and put away laundry.

Organizing dressers and closets and creating a place for all clothing will make it much easier to put away clothes.

Organizing linen closets allows you to make beds, set out towels and put away linens faster.

Cooking & Meal Preparation

An organized pantry and fridge saves you time when searching for ingredients while cooking meals or packing lunches.

Grocery Shopping

An organized kitchen makes it simpler to make a grocery list, shop and unload groceries.

Washing Dishes

One way to save time unloading the dishwasher is to adjust the location of frequently washed items.  If you place the cups, glasses, plates, bowls and utensils that are used daily in the drawers and cabinets closest to your dishwasher, you will reduce the number of steps needed to unload the dishwasher, saving you time.

Cleaning Kitchens

Placing cleaning caddies under the sink or in a broom closet will help you to contain and find all cleaning supplies, saving you time.

Cleaning Bathrooms

Storing bathroom cleaning supplies in another organized cleaning caddy saves time searching for the right supplies.  Using trays on the bathroom counter can save time when you need to clear the counters for cleaning.

Picking up Toys

Setting up organized playrooms and with labeled containers and a home for each toy makes toy clean-up quicker and easier for children.

Car Washing

Having car washing supplies organized in your garage makes the car washing process run smoothly.

Doing Yard Work

Organized yard tools and garden tools allow you to promptly find what you need to get the yard work done quickly.

10 Meal Planning Tips to Save Time and Money

10 Meal Planning Tips to Save Time and Money title

10 Meal Planning Tips to Save Time & Money

Organized meal planning can help you in many ways.  You can save time and money by making fewer trips to the grocery store, and being able to easily access your recipes and ingredients.  Dinner time is a particularly hectic time for most families. These tips and resources can help you streamline your meal planning process.

Organize Recipes

Declutter old cookbooks and recipes you dislike. Gather recipes in an organized way using a recipe rolodex, binders, folders or flagged cookbook pages.  If you prefer digital recipes, scan your favorites, or set up organized digital folders or online bookmarks.

Use Digital Recipe Apps

All Recipes

Big Oven


Designate a Recipe Area

Create just one area to go to when you need a recipe.  This can be in your kitchen, dining room, somewhere near the kitchen, or on your laptop or tablet.

Involve Your Family in Meal Planning  

If you feel overwhelmed, you can delegate a part of meal planning to another family member as a chore.  Some chores that children can help with are selecting recipes, searching the kitchen for ingredients, writing the grocery list, gathering coupons, checking the weekly grocery sales, assisting you with grocery shopping, or unloading the groceries.  If you give other family members ownership in these activities, it can help build teamwork skills.

Use a Shared Calendar 

Use a shared family wall calendar or a shared online calendar.  This will help track your family’s schedule around dinner time to determine if there will be time to cook and eat a full meal.  Knowing your family’s schedule can help you plan for days when you need to eat on the go, have a crockpot meal ready, or eat leftovers.   Choosing nights for dinner out can also be a part of your meal planning.

Take an Inventory of Ingredients

Once meals are chosen, check your kitchen for the ingredient and add anything you do not have to your grocery list.

Monitor Grocery Store Sales

For more savings, plan your meals while looking at the current week’s grocery sales.  Choose meals containing ingredients that are on sale that week.

Make a Grocery List

Have notepad or a dry erase board on the fridge or wall so you can easily add items to the grocery list.

Collect Paper Coupons

Clip coupons from your Sunday paper, and use a coupon organizer or a 3-ring binder with baseball card holder insert pages to organize your paper coupons.

Use Apps & Websites to Help with Grocery Shopping & Coupons

Apps such as Grocery IQ can help with your shopping, and websites such as coupons.com or southernsavers.com can provide you with printable coupons or details on grocery store discounts.

Tech Tools to Save Time

tech tools to save time title

Tech Tools to Save Time

In this busy world, technology can greatly help you better manage your time.  Here are some ways digital tools and mobile applications can help you manage both your personal and business life.

Digital Calendars

These allow you to manage your schedules, share events, invite others to events, and help you to keep track of your daily tasks.  These can also be accessed on tablets or smart phones, giving you a portable schedule that you can access and change at any time.



Google Calendar

Smart Phones 

Many standard applications found on smart phones such as contact lists, calendars, to-do lists, timers and alarm clocks can all help with time management.

Productivity Apps

Many productivity applications are available to help manage to-do lists for teams and individuals, here are some options.


Remember the Milk

Toodle Do





Online Chore Charts

Here are some options for ways technology can help manage your family’s chores.

Chore Monster

Chore Buster

My Job Chart

Online Grocery Shopping Tools

Many grocery stores offer online ordering and curbside delivery.  Check with your local grocery store about this service.   These apps can also help with meal planning and grocery lists.

Plan to Eat

Cook Smarts


Budgeting Apps

Here are applications that help with managing your budget and monitoring your finances.

YNAB (You Need a Budget)


Online Banking & Automatic Bill Payment

Check with your bank about online banking which gives you the ability to check your balance and account statements, and the option to pay bills online.  Many companies offer online bill payment for utilities and other recurring bills.  Check each company’s website to see if you can login and pay bills online or set up automatic withdrawal.  Online payments can save you time writing checks, mailing bills, and waiting for paper statements to arrive in the mail.

As with all electronic applications, it takes some trial and error to find the exact tool that will work best for you.  I suggest trying out applications that appeal to you, and if you find one isn’t working, keep testing others until you find the app that meets your needs.

By | 2016-12-13T22:12:44+00:00 January 11th, 2017|productivity, technology, Time Management|2 Comments

Making To Do Lists

Making To Do Lists Title

Making To-Do Lists

Making to-do lists can be very beneficial to help you reach your goals.  You will be less stressed if you write your tasks down, because you can’t remember everything.  A list also helps to increase productivity and helps you to create habits and routines.  A list can be made on paper or digital devices, it really depends on your personal preference.

Paper List Making Resources

A bullet journal

A paper planner

Post-it notes

A notepad of any size

Digital List Making Resources





How to Make Lists

Focus on 1 day at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself by putting too many items on your daily to-do list.  Narrow it down to important tasks that can reasonably be done in that day.  Schedule lower priority task for other days.

Prioritize.  Make sure the most important or urgent tasks are high on your list.

Break down projects into small steps.  Add those steps to your to-do list.

Be specific.  Be very specific about what you need to do to reach your goals.

Use an action verb at the start of each task.  For example, “Pay the phone bill,” “Call Ashley,” “Write this week’s newsletter,” etc.

Divide it into more than one category, such as personal and work related tasks.

Estimate how long it will take.  If you know how long it will take, the task is easier to schedule.

Decide when you’re going to do it. Determine a day and time of day to work on each task.

Refer to it regularly.  Checking off or deleting items you’ve already completed will help give you a sense of accomplishment and keep you motivated.

Review it at the end of the day.  Celebrate what you’ve accomplished, and move any incomplete tasks to the next day’s to-do list.

Once you find a list-making tool that works best for you, it should be easier to keep up with your daily tasks.  To-do lists are great in helping to form new habits and routines, such as achieving New Year’s Resolutions.  Be sure to review and adjust your list daily, since your tasks and priorities may vary each day.

By | 2016-12-13T22:10:17+00:00 December 14th, 2016|lists, productivity, Time Management|4 Comments

Tasks Busy Parents Can Outsource

Tasks Busy Parents Can Outsource title

Tasks Busy Parents Can Outsource

I often work with busy parents in need of home or office organization and time management services.  One of the biggest issues that most parents seem to be dealing with is chronic overcommitment.  Parents are trying to manage childcare, chores, work, after school activities and more with little or no assistance.  This can lead to a very stressful life and feelings of overwhelm and anxiety.  One way to better manage time is to delegate some tasks to others.  Here are tasks a busy parent can outsource.


Ask friends or relatives to watch your children, trade childcare services with a neighbor, hire a babysitter, nanny or mother’s helper.  Send your child to a daycare, after school camp or summer camp.

Grocery Shopping

If your local grocery store offers online shopping with curbside pick up, try it out.  Otherwise, ask a friend or relative, or hire someone to do this chore for you.


You may want to hire a personal chef to help with cooking.  You can also consider online meal planning services such as Blue Apron or Freshly. Blue Apron sends you ingredients and recipes for healthy meals.  Freshly sends you complete meals.


In addition to giving some cleaning chores to your children, you may want to hire a maid service to clean your home as frequently as you’d like.

Driving or Carpooling

Share carpool or other driving activities with the parents of your child’s friends.

Lawn Care

Hire a professional lawn care service, or hire a neighborhood teen to do chores such as mowing and shoveling.


This is another chore that most children can assist with, but there are also dry cleaners that offer wash, dry and fold services.

Pet care

Hire a dog walker or someone to feed and clean up after your pet.


Hire a personal shopper to help you and your family with shopping for clothing or other items.

Event Planning

If you’re planning a large party, reunion or other event, consider hiring an event planner.


Ask older children or family members to assist younger children with homework.  If necessary, hire a tutor to assist with homework.


Hire a professional organizer to help with decluttering, organizing, and time management.

By | 2016-10-24T13:01:38+00:00 September 14th, 2016|outsourcing, parenting, Time Management|8 Comments

Tips to Set Goals & Prioritize to Save Time

Tips to Set Goals & Prioritize to Save Time title

Tips to Set Goals & Prioritize to Save Time

An important part of time management is prioritizing and setting your goals.  Most of your time should be spent on high priority items that help your reach your goals. Studies show that 80% of our time is spent on relatively unimportant things, whereas 20% is spent on important things. Here are 4 steps to better time management:

1. Monitor Your Time

To determine if the way you’re spending your time is in line with your priorities by looking at how you spent your time over the last week. Ask yourself if you accomplished what was most important to you.  Think about where you could save time, and if there’s anything you need to change.

2. Prioritize Your Time

Determine clear goals and priorities in each area of your life.  The main categories of goals are personal, career, and self-development.  Think about each of these parts of your life, and then set goals and create tasks on your calendar to help you reach those goals.

3. Set SMART Goals

When setting your goals, set SMART Goals, which means Specific, Measurable, Action Oriented, Realistic & Time Limited.  Specifically who, what, when, where and how are you going to reach this goal?  Make the goal measureable by asking how many or how much.  Make sure these goals include a clear action to take and a result you’d like to accomplish.  The goals need to be challenging, but realistic and relevant to your life.  Make these goals time limited by setting a deadline.  Put that deadline on your calendar, and include all smaller tasks needed to reach those goals on your to-do list and calendar along the way.

4. Plan Your Time Based on Your Goals

Once you know where your time is going, you can use scheduling and planning strategies to manage your time to make sure it is helping you reach your goals.  You can better assess how you want to spend your time, and make sure you are spending your time on high priority items that help you reach your goals.  Plan for your future needs by protecting that time you’ve committed to your high priorities.

This information was part of a program on “Effective Time Management” that I presented at Wake County Libraries this summer.

Also, check out these other blogs on Time Management:

8 Ways to Save Time Each Morning

7 Smart Ways to Make Exercise Happen

Time Management Tools

By | 2016-10-24T13:01:38+00:00 August 3rd, 2016|goal setting, Time Management|0 Comments

Time Management Tools

Time Management Tools title

Time Management Tools

As a professional organizer, I offer time management consultations virtually and in-person to help my clients gain better control of their schedules.  I am often asked, “What is the best time management tool?”  The answer is, “That it really varies based on the individual person.”  It really depends on your own personality and learning style.  Some people work well with only paper, others only digitally, and still others use a mix.  Here’s a look at several types of time management resources and tools.

Paper Calendars & Planners

Some people plan better on paper, so there are many options that have worked for years, and some newer products available.  A simple notepad with a written to-do list, and any type of monthly calendar or weekly or daily planner is beneficial to manage your time on paper.  Here are a some of the types of paper calendars and planners available:

Planner Pads

Passion Planner

Post-it Note Weekly Calendar

Franklin Covey Planners

Quovadis Planners

The Mom Agenda

Digital Calendars

If you prefer digital calendars, there are many available, including these:



Google Calendar

Productivity Tools

Productivity tools are other ways to help you stay on-time and on task.  These can be as simple as clock, a stop watch or kitchen timer, but there are also a couple of other timers that give you visual or auditory cues on the passage of time.

The Time Timer

The Pomodoro Timer

Productivity Apps

If you prefer to use digital applications to manage your to-do list and productivity, there are numerous options available, such as these:


Remember the Milk

Toodle Do



It takes some trial and error to find the time management tool or tools that are right for you.  One very important reminder is that tasks on your to-do list, either paper or digital, must be connected to a date and time on your calendar so you can be sure they get completed.  Take some time to try out the different tools listed above to see what will work best for you.

This information was part of a program on “Effective Time Management” that I presented at Wake County Libraries this month.

Also, check out these other blogs on Time Management:

8 Ways to Save Time Each Morning

7 Smart Ways to Make Exercise Happen

By | 2016-10-24T13:01:38+00:00 July 13th, 2016|Time Management, Uncategorized|2 Comments

8 Ways to Save Time Each Morning

photo of alarm clock with title, "8 Ways to Save Time Each Morning"

8 Ways to Save Time Each Morning

Hectic morning routines are very common.  Many of my organizing clients ask me for time saving tips to help them get out the door easier in the morning.  Here are 8 ways to save time each morning.

  1. Have two alarms, one close to the bed, and the other across the room, so you have to stand up to turn it off.
  2. Spend a few mornings using a timer to time how long each activity usually takes to complete, such as brushing your teeth or eating breakfast.  Once you have an idea of how long it takes to complete everything, you can better chose your wake-up time, and schedule your mornings accordingly.
  3. Use a waterproof timer in the shower to keep track of time.
  4. Prepare as much as possible the night before.  After checking the weather forecast, lay out clothing before going to bed. Set out breakfast dishes and make lunches the night before. If possible, place some items inside your car the night before to reduce the amount of work to be done in the morning. Place all purses, brief cases, backpacks, shoes and jackets by the door.
  5. Create a home drop zone by your main entry and exit door.  This area should include a place to hold phones, chargers, keys & wallets.  The drop zone can include a calendar, a dry erase board for any last minute notes and reminders, and a weekly menu board to keep track of meals.  Having all items in one place will save you time searching for misplaced things in the mornings.
  6. Place a Post-it note on your door with any last minute reminders.
  7. Account for traffic each morning by checking road conditions before leaving and leave early enough so that there is a buffer if there’s traffic along the way.  I suggest adding at least 5 minutes to the estimated travel time of online mapping applications.
  8. Skip checking social media and e-mail until you have everything else ready in the morning.
By | 2016-10-24T13:01:39+00:00 March 30th, 2016|Time Management|6 Comments

7 Smart Ways to Make Exercise Happen

7 smart ways to make exercise happen

7 Smart Ways to Make Exercise Happen

When working with my clients on time management, they often want to make more time for exercise.  Starting and sticking with an exercise habit is difficult, but there are ways to organize your home and schedule to make exercise a higher priorityNancy exercising

1. Put it on your Schedule.  If you attend classes at a gym, or just plan to exercise a certain number of times each day, record the workout time onto your calendar.  This is an appointment that cannot be missed!

2.  Prepare clothing and workout gear the night before.  Pack your gym bag and place it in your car, or lay out all of your workout clothing the night before, so you can quickly get dressed and go for a morning jog.  Once you’re wearing the clothes, it is much harder to make an excuse and avoid the exercise.

3. Charge your devices the night before.  Charge your smartphone, MP3 player, watch, or tablet; whatever you use to help your workouts.

4.  Organize a home fitness area.  Remember, treadmills are not clothes horses! Make a space for your workouts, and keep it clutter free.  If you watch DVDs or online videos, set up a space where you can get fit while watching the screen.  Keep it organized and reserve the space for that purpose only.

5. Use an app to help you keep track of your exercise time.  There are many options out there, I personally prefer MyFitnessPal.

6.  Make yourself accountable. Register for that class, find a workout buddy, or tell someone you will be there.

7. Choose an exercise you find fun!  You may need to try several different types of exercises until you find the one that is fun for you, most places offer trial classes.  Take a chance, try something out and stick with the one you enjoy the most.

By | 2016-10-24T13:01:39+00:00 December 30th, 2015|exercise, gym, habits, Time Management|8 Comments

10 Ways to Make the Holiday Season Less Stressful

10 Ways to Make the Holiday Season Less Stressful

10 ways to make the holiday season less stressful

The gift giving holidays such as Christmas and Hanukkah are almost here!  To save yourself time and frustration this season, consider these organizing tips:

1. During Thanksgiving, discuss gift needs and wants with your family and friends.

2. Make your holiday gathering a pot luck to limit the amount of cooking you need to do.

3. Hire a cleaning service before and after a holiday event.

4. Make a list of all gift recipients, and write down ideas for each person. If buying clothing, also keep a record of clothing sizes. Keep this list on your smart phone, or on a piece of paper and carry it in your purse or wallet.

5. Shop online first to save time. Sites like amazon.com usually have sales and combined shipping offers. Otherwise, look at more specific online shops. If you plan to go to a local retailer, check their website first for sales or coupons, or visit retailmenot.com to see if there are any holiday bargains available.

6. Consider giving experiences such as movie tickets or restaurant gift cards rather than items that may later turn into clutter for the recipient.

7. If you shop in retail stores, try to shop mid-week mornings when there are less people out. You may need to take time off from work to do this, but it should be worth it in the time you save in traffic, finding parking and waiting in line during busier times of the week.

8. Shop early, and set a deadline to have your shopping done, so you won’t be rushing to find a last minute gift.

9. Schedule a time to put up decorations, and also schedule a day to take them down. Make sure everyone involved knows that this time is reserved for that purpose so you’ll have help from your family.

10. Plan in advance for items such as gift wrap, gift bags and holiday cards. Store these somewhere easily accessible. Schedule a time to wrap gifts and send holiday greeting cards.

By planning in advance and being organized, you will have less stress and more time to relax and enjoy the season with friends and family!

By | 2016-10-24T13:01:40+00:00 November 18th, 2015|Holiday, Time Management|0 Comments