DC Organizing Conference: Tips on Estates, Green Organizing & Email!

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a great time at the 2009 Mid Atlantic Regional Conference for Professional Organizers that was held in Washington DC. Not only did I meet some fabulous organizers, I learned quite a bit as well. Here’s my top three tips from each of the sessions I attended. Tips that I’m using now – and you can too.
First session was Julie Hall, Estate Lady. Julie is a certified personal property appraiser, a certified auctioneer and a licensed estate sale professional.  Very entertaining with a new book out, The Boomer Burden, Julie talked about

Julie Hall at MARCPO

working with people who are downsizing or have inherited items from family who have passed away.  Here’s the take aways:

  • If a plan isn’t made ahead of time, it often falls to the families to deal with decades of stuff.  This can be a huge burden, both financially and emotionally.  Make a plan, NOW, of what happens to all of the things you own so this doesn’t happen to your family.  Working with a Professional Organizer or simply taking inventory and making decisions can make all the difference later on.
  • Too often, decisions are crisis driven from seniors who are deceased or are no longer mentally capable.  Don’t let this happen – downsize early and make sure all your ducks are in a row including wills and property.
  • As organizers, we can be a one stop shop for clients dealing with the stress of what to do with estates.  Most people have very busy lives, and they just don’t know what to do.  Be the resource for them, and help guide them to make the right decisions and help ease the burden.

Next up was Candita Clayton, “Putting Some Green In Your Organizing”.  Candita was delightful and full of information about using green products and making healthier and more sustainable choices for yourself, your family, your business and the planet.  Candita also has a book out:  Clean Your Home Healthy: Green Cleaning Made Easy.  Here’s the take aways:

  • Bring up “green” to clients gently.  Some are very interested, and some can take offense.  If you sense resistance, back off, but bring it up to clients by showing the benefits to them and their family’s health.
  • Develop a network of local green companies – seek them out and create strategic alliances with them.
  • Utilize information on the web to strengthen your knowledge for yourself and clients.  Here’s some of her suggested websites:

Finally, Lauren Halagarda with “Detox Your Inbox:  Overcoming Email Overload”.  I found this session to be particularly helpful because it’s something I struggle with daily and so do my clients, and, well, everyone I know.  I thought I was pretty good at it but I was surprised at how many tips Lauren gave that I’ve been able to implement easily that have saved me quite a bit of time.  Here they are:

  • Remove yourself from mailing lists that don’t interest you anymore or are too frequent.  This sounds like a no-brainer but when I really looked at how many of these I was deleting daily, I realized how right she was.  I unsubscribed from 6-8 newsletters & flyers I was getting, and it made a huge difference.  Each day a new one arrives, and I decide right then and there to take that extra minute to unsubscribe if it really isn’t being read or used.
  • Redefine the meaning of your inbox.  Look at it as a temporary location for storing incoming mail.  So many people use it as a task list or a reminder spot.  This is one I’m pretty good at but Lauren really broke it down.  Emails are one of the following:
    • project
    • calendar item
    • task
    • contact
    • archive (you need to save it but not see it regularly)
    • interaction
  • There is a 5 step process for dealing with email:
    • Eliminate
    • Delegate
    • ACT (Appointment/Calendar Item, Contact, Task)
    • Extract (information into a tool)
    • Archive

I have to include one more tip which is just something I was so excited about.  If you use Outlook, you can click and DRAG an email over to the calendar, contact list or task list.  WHOA! This was relevatory for me.  Saved me a bunch of time – and super simple way to clear out my inbox easily.

Struggling with email is tough for everyone – but take control and make the decisions.  Inbox zero is an achievable goal . . .  at least once in a person’s lifetime!

So there you have it – my three sessions at MARCPO.

Next post will be about some of the vendors I met.  A few stood out as products or services my clients could actually use, plus I’ll mention a few cool places I visited while in DC including a yummy bagel place.