Creating a useful work space

I have had the privilege of working with many different businesses to improve their organization. The #1 BIGGEST complaint I receive is space. Space to work, space to think and space to create. You don’t need a large home to find space for your home business but you do need a plan.

Creating a useful work space will not happen overnight. I mean it could if you shut down production for a day, sent the kids to a babysitter and had the willpower to work for hours on end. It’s not likely that you can give up that kind of time. That is why, I am breaking this lesson up in to 5 parts. We will tackle the biggest decisions first and add in the less crucial organizational pieces later.

Our mission here, today, is to learn what makes a great workspace work for you. Each lesson can be tailored to your personal and business needs. Let’s get started!

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Designate a space

You saw this coming, didn’t you? That’s right. No more sewing at the kitchen table from noon until midnight because you just can’t finish a project without constant interruptions. Combining your work life and home life is the #1 productivity killer! Why?

  • Everyone needs you ALL THE TIME. Especially with small children or significant others!
  • Someone will likely lose or damage a project of yours. Think sticky PB&J fingers finding their way on to the half finished, crisp, white, dress you have been working on all day!
  • Mindset shift. We work better when our minds aren’t multitasking. I know when I am home my mind is juggling all of the little tasks that need completed around the house. The temptation to leave my work and make just one more phone call is too much.

Let your brain know it is time to work by creating a great space for that work to happen. This space preferably needs a door. For those living in a home where this isn’t an option, pick a corner of a room that is considered off limits to everyone but you. No snooping, touching or distractions when you are in this corner!

Once you have picked your space, clear it out. We want to start with a 100% clean slate. The only things standing will be your furniture of choice. Preferably a desk, book case and large organizer for those with lots of needed supplies.

Now that we have a great space for getting work done, let’s fill it with useful organizers!

Business command center

Every business needs a command center to stay on top of everything a business requires. Your command center needs to be a reliable place to find whatever you need to keep your business running behind the scenes. Everything should have a place and be in its place for less frustration and reliability. My suggestions for a command center:

  • A bulletin/ dry erase board for tracking current leads and orders
  • A business planner for keeping appointments, documenting interactions and setting goals. You can also schedule things like renewals for different parts of your business.
  • A computer or laptop for online portions of a business.
  • A scanner for keeping important documents without creating paper clutter.
  • Computer files designated specifically to your business needs. Make them easy to find and back them up on a flash drive or hard drive.
  • An in/out box for taking care of business. A great place to put things that need logged in your business spreadsheets! As soon as your paperwork is completed, scan it, file it away or throw it away!!
  • A filing system. It can be a simple accordion file or a drawer with hanging folders.
  • A safe place for equipment such as photography equipment, card readers, etc. so you know exactly where to find them and they are protected.

Your new work space is really taking shape! Work towards creating a space that you feel comfortable and happy to work in. Whether it is hanging inspirational quotes, making sure your space has a window or creating rituals that improve your mood and productivity.


Those are my tips for creating a useful workspace!

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Why your life is still cluttered.

Life clutter is the tangled little messes that keep you doing the same thing, day after day. Imagine the tangled mess of power cords living behind your computer desk or entertainment center. You know they are there but usually choose to ignore the mess. We do the same thing with our personal life clutter because it is exhausting.

Life clutter can start with your finances, relationships, work or any other big component of your life. When the big clutter is cleared out, all of the little clutter takes care of itself.

The simplest way to identify your life clutter is by comparing your personal values with the current state of your life. If I said one of my core values is having a healthy body but I haven’t eaten a vegetable that wasn’t fried in weeks, I have a big ole pile of life clutter. My life is obviously out of balance with who I want and know I can be.

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What is holding you back from clearing away some major clutter in your life?

  • It is difficult. Most of us prefer to stay in our comfort zone!
  • It is all we know. When we have done things the same way for years, shaking that up may seem risky and nerve wracking.
  • No one has shown us how! For this, you may need a role model. Sometimes those around us have good intentions but they are stuck doing things the way they have always been done. Finding a role model outside of our comfort zone can inspire us in ways we never expected.
  • We can’t see past our current situation. It might feel like you are going to be in this season of life forever. The decisions we make add up each day to change our future.
  • We can’t see the benefits. For me, this was hiring a professional to take care of important tasks. Once I finally changed my mindset, I couldn’t understand why I was so opposed to it in the beginning. Sometimes we need to take the time to research a subject and find inspiring “Whys” for our actions.
  • We haven’t risen the bar for ourselves. Our standards set what we expect from ourselves. If we never set the standard that we need to get our act together, it just isn’t going to happen. We become exactly what we allow or don’t allow for ourselves.

Can you pin point the life clutter you are avoiding each day? Wondering if it is even worth it to change now?

I want to share with you my personal story that started my love for organization. It starts way back as a newly wed. I was married just a few months shy of 19 years old. Super young and in love and thought I was ready to run a household. Even though we didn’t have much physical clutter, we had a big issue causing tremendous life clutter.

Our first home was a teeny, tiny duplex apartment, sharing parking with the auto mechanic shop next door. Each room was “efficient” with just enough space to sleep, sit or cook, not an inch of space to spare for storage or a dining room table. Fortunately, the price was right at just $365 a month and I didn’t think much of it having spent most of my life sharing a room with my younger sister.

Shortly after moving in, the concept of space was a never ending concern. Why you might ask? This young, 19 year old girl wanted a baby. Without a dollar to her name or a square foot of extra space to put a bassinet, a baby was on the brain. My husband and I talked it over time and time again. It just wasn’t going to happen with our current living situation.

That’s when the wheels were set in motion. Nothing motivates more than wanting something you can’t have and believe me, I was one motivated woman. It all started by finding better work.

I started working full time which gave us the extra money to move. I was going to save all that extra money so I could start building a better life and work towards starting my own family. Oh Naive, 19 year old self, that wasn’t going to happen! As soon as the paychecks rolled in, the money rolled right back out to the tune of a new car loan and a small lifestyle upgrade. We made the same mistake we had been warned time and time again about. The lifestyle creep. Spending just enough money to keep us in debt, living paycheck to paycheck.

How could we still struggle when the money coming in was double my original weekly pay? It didn’t take long until I realized we had absolutely no clue what our financial situation looked like. Sure, we paid our bills but now we were in debt. What would happen if one of us got sick? We were living blindly and it was a constant source of life clutter.

So I decided to take what I knew about creating Excel spreadsheets and I made my first budget planner. It was an eye opener! The first time I took a look at our bank account statements, I was blown away. We were spending double our rent on going out, fast food and groceries. Our money was being wasted at every turn. As painful as this first budget review felt, at least I was starting to get what was keeping us broke and frustrated. Now I had the opportunity to improve it because I knew exactly what part of our finances was weak.

I did research, picked my financial role models and set out to improve our lives. Within a few years, we were able to buy our first home and now have a sweet 18 month old boy!

Not only was I able to change my life in a few short years, I also removed a piece of life clutter that was bogging my family down. Now, when big unexpected expenses hit, our family isn’t scared, worried how we can manage another payment. Our financial life isn’t perfect but it an amazing improvement.

I hope my story has helped you identify a piece of life clutter that is closing doors in other areas of your life. Want to take action? Raise your standards of what you expect from yourself each day. Make it a habit to add or subtract whatever it takes to reach your goal. Research the right action to take and follow through. Find a community or role model to
Keep you accountable to your goal.

We all have room for improvement and when we take the opportunity to clear up life clutter, we open doors for the things we truly want t, providing space in our lives.

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My system for never making a late bill payment.

I must admit, for a good portion of my bill paying life, I stunk at keeping track of it all. I would get so frustrated with a company when one day late would cost me more and more money, sometimes even taking my precious deposit money away. One day, I had enough and a new system was born. I have been fine tuning it for years but I must say, no late payments have been made since its implementation.

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What is my secret?
I have to warn you, each step must be performed each month in order to keep your bills in check and timely. Otherwise, things creep up on you. One bill doubles in size and your whole system is thrown for a loop. What is my step by step system?

Tracking each bill
I use an Excel spreadsheet to track all of my bills so I don’t waste time recalculating totals as I try to put together my list of bills.

I keep track of EVERY SINGLE BILL. That measly Netflix bill or a monthly subscription has to be tracked in order to see what you are even working with. Begin by listing all of your bills.

  • Housing
  • Utilities
  • Health insurance
  • Car loans
  • Car insurance
  • Credit card payments
  • Phones
  • Internet
  • Subscriptions
  • Cable/dish/Netflix
  • Student loans
  • Memberships
  • Monthly medical payments
  • Anything else that is a monthly bill

These are your non-negotiable payments. They expect payment each and every month, no exceptions.

Next, list beside them, their due dates and due amounts. Try to put them in order from earliest due date to latest in the month. This will give you a rough idea of what payments should be made first. If you are behind on your bills, start another column for back payments that need to be made. You must pay this off before you can start making “on time” payments. It is still considered late if you are always trying to catch up.

Do a final tally on what your bills are costing you each month. This number may surprise you and that brings us to the next point.

Analyze each bill
Here is one of the harder parts that takes some real motivation to do. That is, cutting bills where you need to in order to make ends meet. If you can’t live off of what is left over after paying your monthly bills, cuts must be made to get on track.

You have two choices. You can cut or decrease services or you can call and negotiate.

Many times you can get an introductory rate on things like internet and phones. You may even want to switch services to a more reasonably priced company. Some companies will even drop their rate to match the competition so you can keep your current service. Take the time, make the calls.

If you decide you need to cut services to make ends meet, look at non-essentials first. This would be memberships and subscriptions. You might also be surprised how many memberships you are paying for monthly that you never use. Like that gym membership that hasn’t been used since the beginning of the year.

If drastic measures must be taken to get things back in alignment, find options that are going to give you the most bang for your buck. Maybe it is disconnecting your landline, going without internet and a smart phone. Whatever the situation, these changes must be made to get on track.

Pay your bills first
I never spend out of my bank account before figuring out what bills must be paid. My bills take priority and I can easily go down the line and pay my bills biweekly with my online bill pay account. My bills are handled by my bank so I have records and confirmation numbers that things have been paid. Plus, it takes me 5 minutes total to put in my payment amounts for each bill and hit “pay now”.

Once I have decided what bills need to be paid, I total up what they will cost. I keep that number with me so when I want to check my bank account, I can easily subtract that total from the amount in the account. That way, I am never confused on how much spending money I actually have and avoid the headache of overdraft fees.

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The bill pay puzzle
I like to think of my bills as a fun little puzzle. Biweekly, I decide what bills I can pay with my latest paycheck. These are planned in advance so I can save a portion of each paycheck for making payments. Then, I pay what bills are due first until I run out of bill money. If I have any money left over, I will either pay a small bill that is due at the end of the month or put that money aside for the next time I need to pay bills.

This is usually a puzzle for me because my husband receives irregular paychecks. Some weeks I have to make sure I have enough living money to take it two weeks and sometimes I can go ahead and wipe out multiple bills at once. I can usually pay my bills weeks ahead by being creative with how I spend my money.

I plan ahead
This is so crucial! I like to plan my bill pay money 2 months at a time so I can plan ahead and stay on track. Sometimes what is going on the next month would leave you broke and push your bills back until they are late again. This doesn’t happen when you foresee what is going to happen and set money aside to combat what the next month will bring.

For instance, since my husband is self employed he is not paid for vacation days or holidays. I make sure to take this in to account when estimating how much money I will have available the next month. I stay aware and the missed money is not a big deal because I took the opportunity to plan ahead.

Tax refund season
For those who receive a refund each year, do not miss out on this opportunity! Pay off any overdue bills, wipe out any credit card debt or loans. This will take the burden of bill pay down tremendously and you will thank me later! Each year, we choose to pay off something or if we have no debts, we save the money for something we really need or to save for a rainy day.

By starting to pay off some debts, you can open up the opportunity to save more money and give your family even more financial security. Bill pay doesn’t have to be overwhelming each month. Work to get ahead and things will begin to get easier.

My secret revealed
So what was my big secret? Being aware. Staying current and on top of your bills. Burying your head in the sand will not keep life from happening. So start digging in to your finances so you can see the opportunities more than you feel the challenges.

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