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Long-Distance Clutter Coaching And Virtual Organizing

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the clutter in your life — the piles of stuff, the stacks of paper, the overloaded schedule? Are you longing to break free from all the craziness, to live a simpler kind of life? As a Clutter Coach and Virtual Organizer, I can guide you to a more fulfilling place in the world — one where you are free from all the excess baggage, no longer trapped by your job or debt or the expectations of others. Sound good? Well come on in and check it out…

What Is Clutter

In many ways, our society programs us to seek out a complicated life. We’re taught to trade free time for a big-screen TV, fresh air for a 6-figure salary, and peace of mind for a McMansion. What we think will make us “successful” only ties us down — to an 80-hour work-week, a huge mortgage, and a credit card bill we can never pay off. We’re not happy, but we just don’t know any other way of doing things. We’re caught on an insane treadmill of achieving and acquiring, consuming and complaining — all the while denying our own true needs in favor of somebody else’s dream. But no one is going to turn off that treadmill for you. You have to be the one to say, “Stop! I’ve had enough!”

Simplicity comes from the inside — the only way to truly “simplify” is to make a change in your state of mind, the set of values you live by, and the choices you make on a daily basis. It’s about choosing your own path in life, regardless of what your family or friends or co-workers think you “should” be doing. You have to be willing to leave behind the habits, beliefs, and behaviors that allowed you to become trapped in the first place. Most importantly, you’ve got to start thinking for yourself — deciding what you want your life to look like, and sticking to your guns when the crowd pressures you to follow them. This is something I know a lot about — I drove right off the beaten path when I became a full-time RVer, and I wouldn’t go back to the “traditional” way of living for anything (please read about my own personal path to simplicity and definition of success if you would like a better idea of where I am coming from in my own life.)

Organizing Is Easier Than You Think

There is no one set “formula” for achieving simplicity. It’s a very personal process, and the path is different for each individual. What simplifies your life may not be the same thing that simplifies mine — but what matters most is that YOU are happy with the results (after all, not everyone wants to go live in a hut in the woods like Thoreau!) What areas of your life need a bit of an overhaul? Not happy with your work? Does maintaining your living environment take too much time and effort? Are you in debt, worried that you will never achieve financial freedom? Do you wish you could teach your children that happiness doesn’t come from the mall? Would you like to have the breathing space to just sit back and relax every once in a while? I can help!

Throughout the years of working with clients (and along my own personal path to simplicity) I have discovered one universal fact about trying to simplify your life — it has to be a holistic process. Change in one area of your life are going to encourage shifts in other areas, and you have to be prepared to see the process all the way through. That’s why I help my clients work on simplifying every important area of their lives. It doesn’t matter the magnitude of change — whether you want to reduce your monthly expenses or seriously downsize your living environment, to make mealtimes a bit easier or embark on a whole new career. Any goal is “doable,” as long as you are willing to commit to the life changes necessary for achieving it. And I’ll be there with you the whole way — helping you create a life without debt or worry, where you no longer feel trapped by your job or circumstances, where you have the space and time and energy for all of your pursuits. So ask yourself where you want to start:

  • basic principles (here we create a core definition of simplicity that is specific to your goals, lifestyle, and personal preferences — we discuss some of the basic principles behind simplifying any area of your life, and start to turn these into a value system that will help you make positive choices as we move forward)
  • household space (we will look at your living environment and discover exactly what seems “complicated” about it to you — we will explore changes that could be made to simplify maintenance and cleaning, to reduce your clutter and better organize your spaces, and even possibly change your living arrangement altogether in a way that makes life easier for you — this might include a discussion of downsizing, a change of neighborhood, moving closer to work or school or other activities, etc.)
  • office space (many times, we are our own worst enemy, creating complications and frustrations where there really aren’t any — we will take a look at that little voice inside your head, the one that talks about what you “should” do and the ways you’re not good enough and all your other insecurities — I will offer some suggestions for shutting him up and replacing those thoughts with positive ones — we will also take a look at changing some of the core beliefs that bring this voice up, ones related to achievement and success and how you judge your life within the larger society)
  • time management (not having enough time is a big issue these days — but the answer isn’t a better time management system, it’s a better way of determining your priorities and saying “no” to everything else — we will look at those “time wasters” that eat up your day, the dreams and goals you never seem to get to, and your typical daily routine — we will reconcile all of your responsibilities and “want tos” together into a more satisfying, less rushed, and more reasonable schedule)
  • paper management (too much of our time and energy is spent dealing with paper and information, and this is one of the major complicating factors in most people’s lives — but again, the solution isn’t a better filing system, it’s a better information filter — we will look at the myriad of paper that comes into your life and what purpose it really serves — we will examine the pressure you feel when confronted with so much information you “should” be reading, and discover ways to let it all go without guilt — I will help you to eliminate the paper that overwhelms you before it ever sets foot on your desk)
  • organizing your kids (children’s behavior is usually a reflection of the value they are taught by parents and the larger society — it may seem like a challenge to teach your kids simplicity in this complicated world, but it can be done — we start first by looking at the behaviors you are modeling for your family, and how a shift in those can make a huge difference in the household dynamic — we will also look at what your kids are being taught by society, and how to help them think for themselves rather than becoming good little consumer sheep — we will also look at ways you can build in more time for simple activities with your kids and create a simple daily routine that will reduce their stress)
  • workflow and productivity (if you asked most people what stresses them out the most, their job would be near the top of the list — we’ve fallen into an entirely false belief that we have to tolerate long hours, stressful deadlines, rude customers, demanding bosses, incompetent co-workers, and tasks we hate just to be able to pay the bills — not true! — we will examine those aspects of your work that you love and loathe, look for ways to increase the former and decrease the latter, and talk about drawing healthy boundaries around your work life — we may also look at more radical solutions for improving your work day, such as a change of employers, a change of careers, self-employment, etc.)
  • moving/relocation (how we eat is a big part of how simple or complicated our lives are, and the fast-food prepackaged lifestyle is not only complicated but a big drain on your personal energy level — we will  not only look at mealtime from a nutritional standpoint, but also examine the preparation process and ways to make that faster and more enjoyable — the goal is to help you reconnect with a healthier way of living, return to a more natural and less processed way of eating, without adding to your workload)
  • organizing your finances (overspending, unconscious consumerism, and debt do nothing but complicate life — we will look at your attitudes toward money and consumer goods, identifying self-destructive habits that keep you trapped in a cycle of lack — I will offer some alternative behaviors that can help you when you enter a financial “danger zone” — we will also develop a personalized definition of “financial freedom” that resonates with your lifestyle, and develop a workable plan to help you achieve that goal)
  • project management (since 9/11, people travel a lot less, partly because it has become a lot more difficult — dealing with airport security, delays, traffic, lost luggage, etc. — but travel doesn’t have to be that way, and you’re cheating yourself out of some amazing experiences if you avoid travel because you think it’s a hassle — travel also doesn’t have to be as expensive as you might think, if you go with the right priorities and mindset — we’ll talk about what kind of travel you would like to do, what has been holding you back, and what very practical steps can be taken to get you on the road)
  • organizing the holidays (the holidays do not have to be so stressful, you just have to decide what kind of a celebration you want and be willing to ignore the rest of the commercialism and hectic plans — we will take a look at the holiday traditions you enjoy, the ones you can’t stand, and how to balance the two out — we will create a list of “wants” and “won’ts” for this next holiday, find ways to make the chores a bit easier, and help you reconnect with the real meaning of the season in whatever way that makes sense to you)
  • getting your family/staff on board (you may not be able to control the way people behave, but you can control your reactions to them — if your life has become complicated by toxic people, it’s okay to get rid of them, and I will show you how — we will also talk about any “boundary” issues you have with friends and family members, things that you are tolerating and shouldn’t be, and ways to create more “me” time for yourself — we will also look at steps you can take to simplify all of your relationships and make them more satisfying)

 

Level 1: A Customized Organizing Plan

Some people need an organizer there to guide them through every step, but others have the gumption to do the organizing themselves — they just don’t know what steps to take or where to begin. So I have created a consultation package for the thrifty and self-motivated — it lays out a “blueprint” for you to follow, and you do the manual labor (the sorting of papers, the setting up of closets and cabinets) yourself. This way, you get the benefit of my knowledge and experience at a much more affordable price. This consultation includes the following:

  • you e-mail me photos of your home or office, showing me all of your spaces and storage areas — you also complete a questionnaire and we will have a 1-2 hour phone interview in which I assess your situation and your organizing concerns
  • based on this assessment, I will draw up a document that outlines the areas which need attention and the organizing issues to be addressed for each
  • for each area in need of physical organization, I will offer a step-by-step plan for clearing out any clutter, maximizing the available space, and tips for maintaining that space — I will also include a list of suggested organizing tools and where to buy them
  • for time management issues, I will offer a step-by-step plan for organizing your schedule, tips for simplifying and eliminating unnecessary activities, and ideas for delegating/outsourcing responsibilities to others in your home or office — I will also include a list of suggested organizing tools and where to buy them
  • for paper management issues, I will offer a step-by-step plan for staying on top of incoming paper, a diagram for setting up a workable filing system (complete with all categories and subcategories), tips for cutting down on the paper that comes into your life, and guidelines for maintaining/purging your system annually — I will also include a list of suggested organizing tools and where to buy them
  • other organizing issues (meeting planning, financial organizing, project management, etc.) will be addressed on a case-by-case basis
  • the completed document will be delivered to you within 1 week’s time — you may then begin working on your organizing concerns one by one, following each step of my plan — and it is easy to recruit “helpers”, because it’s all laid out on paper — just get your friends, family, or staff together and put them to work!

The cost for this package is $500 — a real bargain, and a solid investment toward a more organized future. For those who desire a little extra coaching  and follow-up, I am happy to check in with you once a week by phone or e-mail as you work through your plan. We will talk about your goals for the week, evaluate how successful you were at accomplishing those tasks, take a look at any stumbling blocks that got in your way, and find ways for you to move past these during your next round of organizing. These sessions can be scheduled on an as-needed basis for a discounted rate of $60 an hour (normally $75.) And if you find that you’re having a hard time doing the work on your own, I am happy to bump it up a notch and provide the traditional hands-on services you find in a typical Professional Organizing session — through, move on to Level 2 or Level 3, and I’ll be happy to help.

 

If you’re not able to get it all done on your own, that’s okay — nothing wrong with that. I am a full-time RVer, so it may not be feasible for me to work with you in person — but that doesn’t stop me from being able to help you through each step of the process. The new field of “virtual organizing” allows me to coach you through all the decisions you must make, the systems, you must set up, and the clutter you eliminate to get your life organized — long-distance.

Before each organizing session, you will e-mail me photos and a brief description of the issues you face in the area you wish to work on that day (of course, if you have completed my Level 1 assessment, we will work off of that plan.) During our scheduled appointment time, you will be equipped with a cordless phone and headset — so I can talk to you as we organize. I will be right there with you at your side, helping you tackle those piles and stacks. So for example, if we’re working on a closet, you will actually be IN the closet with your headset, sorting and purging and re-arranging. I will be there asking you all those annoying questions that help you make the right decisions, describing how to set up the new systems, and providing you with the guidance and encouragement you need to succeed. I will assign you homework that I expect to be completed before our next session (nothing too involved — maybe buying some supplies or trying out a system for a week to see how it works.) And we will organize together until you achieve the level of organization that you desire — whether it’s merely a few sessions that get you to “better,”or a large-scale war on clutter that takes you all the way to “anal-retentive.”

This service is available either with or without the Level 1 assessment — scheduled in 1 hour sessions at a rate of $75 an hour. We can get together as often as you need, and I’m always there for follow-up later — but during an organizing project, I insist on a minimum of one session a week, so you continue to make forward progress and don’t backslide into clutter again.

http://www.withtimetospare.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=27&Itemid=58

Home Page:

– the questions you ask about getting organized (Have you been promising to finally get organized? Are you going through your work to get to your work? Is your paperwork blocking out light and air?) should focus more on basic organizing keywords time, paper, clutter, storage, etc. they are a little esoteric right now and now as keyword-rich as they could be

– devote more space on your home page to describing the benefits you provide your customers (how you improve their lives and make daily routines easier) also set up a series of bullet points listing your services and areas of specialization more content, more keywords, more attractive to the search engines

– move your subscription field for the free e-newsletter to the right-hand bar of your home page up under the “search” keep it high up and visible so people will actually subscribe

Virtual Organizing:

– with two unevenly-sized columns, the page looks a little cluttered and chaotic go back to the same format as the home page one wide space for text on the left and a small right-hand bar with your search and newsletter sign-up consistent appearance on all of your pages makes navigation easier for visitors

– under “what is virtual organizing”, your description is a bit thin you gave me a very detailed description of how you work with a virtual organizing client, so do the same on your site talk about the process, about the way you structure appointments, about the ways that virtual organizing differ from traditional organizing perhaps merge in the “how long will it take” with this section again, all of this is content filled with valuable keywords that will increase your search engine ranking but it also helps better explain things to potential clients, making them more likely to call you for help

– under “what are the benefits of VO”, your description is again a bit thin follow the format you have for “what can be organized” list the benefit (to save money), then describe HOW virtual organizing accomplishes that goal (you pay for fewer hours of the organizer’s time than you would having him/her come to your house) be more verbose, not less :)

– under “what can you organize”, flesh it out home, office, and time doesn’t begin to list all the issues you tackle create a list of bullet points under each describing all the different areas you cover (kitchen, bathroom kid’s room, garage, whatever) they more detail, the more keywords, the more the search engines like you

– under “how does it work”, I would suggest merging this with the “what do I need to get started” explain the steps, tools, etc. to begin working on the project, but again, more detail let them know they’ll need to send you photos, get on the phone with you to go over the organizing plan, schedule your sessions based on breaking the area up into sections, whatever you feel is appropriate info

Seminars:

– flesh out EVERY one of your seminars more each should have a detailed into (couple of paragraphs), then the outline of what you will learn, then a closing paragraph the more clearly you can describe your talks, the more keywords you use and the more likely a client is to hire you

– the main speaking page also needs more text describe your speaking style, experience, list some of the groups you’ve given presentations to, etc.

– move “hands-on personal coaching” away from the “speaking” page and give it its own section put as much detail into describing your coaching as you did virtual organizing what you do, how it works, the benefits, how to get started, etc. that’s a HUGE opportunity for you to increase your content and keywords

Products:

– one way you can add keywords and content to your product info is to link each product to a separate page, with a detailed table of contents, testimonials from customers who have bought that item, sample tips from the booklet, etc. this is what we did at OnlineOrganizing, and it got many of our products listed higher on the search engines than the product’s own web page

Photos:

– take the before and after photos off of the home page and virtual organizing pages keep them all on a separate page include detailed descriptions of the client’s situation, what you did, the techniques you’ve used, etc. this is a great opportunity to expand on what you do and how you do it, as well as add a bunch of keyword-rich content to your site

Client List:

– good, but you could include info about each client, even just for the bigger companies if you describe what they do (and what you did for them), not only do potential clients get a better sense of what you can accomplish, that’s another search-engine feature in your favor people searching for info about that company will trip over you, and because you worked with them, possibly consider hiring you

Satisfied Clients:

– consider eliminating this page and farming the testimonials out to other pages on your site put the product testimonials with the products, the company testimonials with the description of the company in your client list, and the others on the pages describing your services they will be more effective this way, and help with your SEO on those other pages

Pages To Add:

– set up a section with ALL of your past newsletters and articles include the full content, because those keywords will enhance your search engine rankings and these are pages that other people who like your content can link to, improving your “link popularity” with the search engines

– make sure that your articles are all included at the major “free article database” websites people go to these sites to get free content for their websites in return for posting your article, they link back to you and every time you write a new article, post it as well:

1)Ezine Articles at http://ezinearticles.com/
2)ArticleEden at http://www.articleseden.com/
3)Article City at http://www.articlecity.com/
4)Top Ten Lists at http://www.topten.org/
5)Top 7 Business at http://top7business.com
6)Content Mart at http://www.contentmart.com
7)Go Articles at http://www.goarticles.com/
8)Marketing Seek at http://www.marketing-seek.com/
9)Making Profit at http://www.makingprofit.com/
10)Connection Team at http://www.connectionteam.com/

– set up a “useful links” section, filled with links to other websites, products, and services you like you know that huge useful links area at OnlineOrg? that’s a lot of why we have good search engine ranking also ask these people to link to you

– you can also set up a section of product and book reviews on your site if you especially like an organizing product or book, talk about why and create an affiliate link to that item potential passive income and more content for your site

– you don’t always have to post only those articles you’ve written if you find other related content (that doesn’t compete with your articles) that you believe your visitors would benefit from, ask the author for permission to include the article on your site with a link back to them a GREAT way to expand your keywords and improve search engine ranking with almost no effort on your part

– you should be doing a lot more cross-linking between your pages for link popularity (especially back to your home page or to your virtual organizing page, if that’s what you want to emphasize) mention other services you provide and link to them from within your site you’ll be surprised what this can do for your rankings

Social Networking Activities:

– I’m not sure how often your newsletter goes out (weekly? Monthly?) but every time you send your newsletter, you should post a notice on twitter, facebook, linked in, and any other networks you belong to announcing it let people know it’s free, how often it goes out, how to read the current issue, and how to subscribe

– consider re-purposing your newsletter content into a blog you don’t want to post the exact same info in a blog as a newsletter, but you could set the theme for the month in your newsletter, then post smaller blogs each week expanding on that theme blogs don’t need to be as long as a newsletter, but they need to be more often it’s recommended that you blog daily, but you could post one or two a week to get started and see how it goes for you

– set up your blog to feed automatically into your facebook page (I use networked blogs, and like their application very much) this way, when you post a new blog, it will automatically post on your facebook wall without you doing anything

– every time you post a blog, announce it on twitter also set up a couple of tweets to go out on twitter offering tips from that blog tweetlater is a great application for scheduling tweets to go out at a specified date and time so when you do your blog, you can schedule all the related tweets at once

– if you get set up on numerous social networking sites, you can use ping.fm to coordinate your “tweets” I set mine up to link to my facebook, linked in, twitter, plurk, etc. (ping.fm will give you a list of sites they post to) I post once at ping.fm and it automatically broadcasts to every other service (a HUGE timesaver, and a way to spread yourself around a bit more and get additional exposure)

– post at least one tweet a day, even if it’s nothing but a quote you like and a link to your site, your thought for the day, an organizing tip, or a description of the projects you’re tackling that day stay in front of your audience EVERY SINGLE DAY

– if you aren’t already, spend a few minutes each day connecting with a couple of people on either facebook or linked in run through the most recent posts, make a comment here, offer some advice there, answer a question in the linked in q and a these things convince people that you know your stuff, it let’s them start to trust you, and you stand a better chance of them coming to you for help when they need it and are ready

– if anyone retweets a post of yours, mentions you, or responds to you, be sure to contact them to say thanks rapport is what it’s all about

– every time you have an upcoming event, something to brag about, a good day, whatever, send a tweet another great way to keep your name in front of people’s eyes

– join groups through your social networking websites that include people you think would either be a) good referrers of clients, or b) good clients themselves participating in discussions in these groups is a very effective marketing tool

– announce new products or re-announce existing ones (at appropriate times) through your facebook and twitter pages give them a direct link to buy

– on your weekly marketing day, find 10 people whose websites you would like to be included on (something relevant to organizing, but not other competing organizers’ sites) create a template e-mail to send that explains who you are, what you do, why you are a good resource for their site visitors, and how you can help them with content (allowing them to post your articles) contact them and create a spreadsheet for tracking so you can follow up to make sure they’ve linked to you

– don’t just post your stuff out there, also serve as a resource point people toward other websites and articles that might be of use to them, offer free advice, give tips, etc. the more you give, the more you receive)

– project-oriented packages

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.

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