Continuing our series of interviews with professional organizers, today we have Ellen Delap!
Ellen Delap, professional organizer and productivity consultant, launched Professional-Organizer.com in 2000. She is an award winning Certified Professional organizer recognized for her contributions in the industry and community. She has extensive experience in working with ADHD individuals and holds certificates of study in Workplace Productivity, ADD and Chronic Disorganization and is a member of the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD). She works with families as a Family Manager Coach. She is currently the President of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). Ellen truly enjoys sharing organizing and productivity tips as well as tricks and techniques as a blogger. She is an accomplished speaker and has been interviewed by ABC13 Houston and the Houston Chronicle. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Smith College and a Master’s degree in education from Boston College. Ellen’s goal is to empower her clients by making a difference in their lives.
What are your clients’ biggest challenges?
As a professional organizer and productivity consultant, my clients want to be productive and “get more done.” They get overwhelmed by all they want to accomplish because their task lists are long. Everything seems important and they lack prioritization on their tasks and projects. My clients have a lot on their plates as busy entrepreneurs with families and there is not enough time to get everything completed. My clients tend to be perfectionists who want every detail and every task done perfectly.
In your experience, how does a person’s physical space affect their ability to manage their time effectively?
An uncluttered space helps you stay on track and manage your time effectively. When you are organized, you can find what you need quickly and save time. You are undistracted and more focused on your work. Solutions to create a more organized space include having only specific items out on your desk that you use daily, minimizing desk top clutter. You can set up a file drawer that contains “drop slots” for big picture weekly priority actions such as finances, clients, and vendors at work or bills, family and receipts for home. It’s most important to use a planner that captures your goals, projects, and tasks written in yearly, quarterly, weekly and daily. Set up a little time daily, just 15 minutes, to keep your desk clear and ready to use.
These days when people are so busy, how can they integrate organization into their schedule?
A little organization goes a long way! Have a designated paper or digital method of capturing information. It’s a spot to get all the information out of your head and into a spot to review it later. All these ideas may not be actionable, however you can review to assess priority. Getting this information recorded is done right when you think of it. Make it easy to capture your information.
All productivity gurus suggest a set weekly planning time to review your information, assign a priority, and assign a time for that action. Weekly planning can be Friday afternoon or sometime over the weekend so you can get right to work on Monday morning. Weekly planning giving a day or time to a task or part of a project. Assigning a day to certain tasks and creating a weekly routine helps too. Money Monday or Admin Friday are routines that give focus to specific days to accomplish regular required activities.
While most of us think we don’t have time to organize, remember the adage “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Organization time is the best spent time for efficiency, effectiveness, and completion of tasks and projects.
What are your top tips on how people can be more organized?
Choose your tools wisely. A great planner and notebook can be the best way to keep information easily. Digital organization tools can do the same work, such as an online calendar or note app. Be sure you use a tool that is easy to use for you. There are no wrong tools, only tools hardly used. Be proud to use a paper planner if that is what works best for you. I often suggest a hybrid system with both paper and digital planners to reinforce and retain information and meetings.
Make organization a priority. Remember that your time invested, your perspective of the value of organizing and your maintenance efforts give you a big reward for time well spent. If you are not getting to organizing, think about what’s holding you back and what are the obstacles. Maybe it is simply to move it up in priority.
Assess your priorities. What your core values are, whether business, family, spiritual, health, or others are reflected in your organization. Your time spent each day should mirror what you find most important. Your top 3 priorities should be clear when you look at your calendar. What if someone else dictates your priorities? Meet with your boss and be clear on what to do, how long it should take, and the deadlines.
Start small. Map out times on your planner that insure organization in small chunks. A daily review of your 3 Most Important Tasks (MITs) is the best way to be sure you accomplish your tasks each day. Do your MITs early in the day to be sure they are complete. A long list of tasks and projects can be drilled down to smaller units. You will feel accomplished and successful at the end of the day, week, and month.
Know who is on your team. There’s lots of ways to automate, delegate and collaborate in your home and office. Discern who is good at what jobs, partner with them and add more time, strengths and sometimes fun to tasks.