Advice About Clutter

“I’m an intelligent, successful person, but I can’t seem to get myself organized! I’m desperate!” a prominent business owner revealed. Sound familiar?

Over the years, I’ve heard this more and more, and have come to realize that the answer is very basic. Many people were never “taught” the fundamental principles of organizing in their offices or their homes.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the average U.S. business person loses six weeks each year retrieving misplaced information from messy desks and files. At $75,000 in annual earnings, that equals over $8,500 worth of time wasted.

In these busy times, professionals often live and work with too many papers and possessions and too little time. They’re involved with their businesses, finances, associations and personal lives. Prioritizing is vital.

As a Professional Organizer (since 1984), I’ve worked with corporate, entrepreneurial, and residential clients to organize their space, time, paperwork and other information. My philosophy is: “If you can’t find something in 30 seconds, it’s in the wrong place.”

Although organizational skills are not part of a formal educational program in most occupations, numerous books and magazine or newspaper articles can be tapped for informative organizing tips.

Now, you don’t have to do it alone. If things are out of control, one good investment is to hire an experienced Professional Organizer for personalized assistance and training. These specialists offer unique solutions for chaos control, plus for saving your time and money.

Members of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) help clients bring order to their homes and offices. Most work with clients one-on-one and teach techniques to become and stay orderly. ( Contact us for details – 310-391-7392 or email: )


Are there are too many “homeless” supplies, clippings, and unpaid bills floating around your home or office? To eliminate disorder, I recommend finding “a home for items to live, and take them home after use.”

Information, which floods homes and offices from various sources, needs a safe place to dwell, whether it be in paper or electronic format. Also, certain people (including you) must be able to access data effortlessly. The “ideal” filing system is one customized for your own personal needs. Begin organizing yourself by following a weekly routine for recordkeeping (input) and filing:

Categorize income and expenses in a filing system and accounting software. Frequently review your profits and losses (P&L) and stay on top of your financial status. Intuit’s Quicken and Quickbooks are quite effective for personal financial records and small businesses. Industry-specific programs are also available.
Make names, addresses, and vital details on personal and professional contacts readily accessible in a contact management program. I use LeadCommander by DataBasix Technologies, but Symantec’s Act, GoldMine, and others are excellent as well.
Sort e-mails (Compuserve, AOL, etc.) within the program by topic or person for easy accessibility. Limit printing e-mails whenever possible, and delete unwanted messages.


To help yourself stay focused, presort paperwork into four categories using Donna’s “4D’s Principle” … Do It, Delay It, Delegate It or Dump It.

Group papers that need to be filed into categories and subcategories. For major sorting, I recommend records storage boxes (stackable, cardboard or plastic, with handles and lid). On these boxes, use labels for categories such as magazines, newspapers, paid bills, and tax records. Always toss junk mail immediately.

Share this article!

No part of these articles may be reproduced in any way without written permission by author.

REPRINT PERMISSION granted when the following credit appears in full:

Reprinted with permission from Donna D. McMillan
Professional Organizer and Productivity Consultant
McMillan & Company Professional Organizing

Donna D. McMillan
Productivity Consultant
Efficiency Trainer/Coach

Make An Appt.

Call: 310-391-7392

Hawaii location, co-founders Donna D. McMillan and Karen L. Simon