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An Insider Look At How A Professional Organizer Runs Her Day

I recently did an interview with Julie Gray, from Profound Impact and I’d like to share it with you today.

The time management and organizing systems that you use to manage your day, your work and your life are endlessly fascinating to me.

The systems you’ve developed to get things done. How you think through a problem. How you make decisions and commit to your goals. What tools, habits, and mindsets you integrate to make it all work together.

It’s wicked cool.

Which is why I want to give you the same opportunity to be motivated and inspired by how others’ are managing their lives.

Read on to get an insider’s view of how a successful professional organizer with 4 employees, a family, and a very active volunteer schedule manages her time and all that she has to do each day.

For the full audio interview please enter the free productivity secrets audio library here  where you will find hours of additional productivity training.


Julie: Clearly you’ve got a lot going on, Janet. I am so curious, what the heck does your day really look like? Are you super regimented like what we would assume of the stereotypical professional organizer?

Janet: I am pretty regimented because I am definitely a planner. I like to know what my day is going to look like before I get started, then I can kind of roll with the punches, cause nothing ever goes perfectly.

I break my day up into four parts. I break up my day with, before my [client] appointment, my client appointment, after my appointment and then just the evening, when I’m relaxing and just doing my own thing.

Julie: I love the four-part approach. So you really anchor your day around your client appointments. The other thing that I love is your awareness around when your brain is really at optimal functioning.

Janet: I’ll schedule myself to do the really productive work in the morning.

Julie: Can you give us some examples. What’s really productive time for you?

Janet: For me, usually its early enough that people aren’t calling so I do a lot of my writing at that time. I have a blog, I will post stuff on Facebook, I’ll do a lot of reading that I just need to do for myself. I always have projects going on for my, so I’ll work on one of those at a time. Just in small increments. That’s how its gonna get done.

Julie: That’s so true. The other thing I hear there, that I really want to highlight and underline and underscore and bold and capitalize and exclamation point, is that you are working in a distraction-free, interruption-free way. Not only when your energy is the most focused but also when you are going to have the least amount of interruptions and distractions.

Janet: Right. Absolutely.

As a business owner, you struggle with any downtime you have. “Oh, I should be working. Oh, there’s stuff on my desk to do. Oh, I need to make these phone calls.”

I found that I have to, in order to have some kind of work-life balance, I have to give myself permission, that I’m not going to think about work now. It’ll be there tomorrow. 

Julie: So tell me something, what do you use for tools, I hear you’re a big planner, and you kind of block out your day, are you a paper person, are you an electronic person?

Janet: So I’m about half paper, half electronic. [laughter] I use the Google calendar, religiously, it’s the first thing that goes up on my computer screen every morning. I like to see the visual.

But for my workspace, I’m what I call a mostly a nothing-out person, so I get very distracted if there’s a lot of stuff on my desk, I really need it clear and I focus on what’s right in front of me.

Julie: So you’re pretty much the epitome of what we would think of as a professional organizer. [laughter] Just teasing.

Janet: I do like the visual, so I went out and bought a magazine rack that hangs on the wall next to my desk and I have them labeled the days of the week. They look very much like what a doctor’s office has outside the examining room.

So on Sunday, it literally takes me five or ten minutes, I look at my Google calendar, I will pull out client flies, I put them in the pockets of the appointments that are coming up for that week. If I need to go pick up my dry cleaning on Thursday, I’ll just write myself a note and put it in the Thursday pocket.

Julie: I’ve seen many clients attempt to use a system like this and it doesn’t stick. Do you have a ritual for reviewing these pockets every day?

Janet: I pull out what’s in the pocket for that day, first thing in the morning. As soon as I walk into my office, I pull out everything in that day. You have to use the system for it to work.

Julie: Anyone that’s listening to this call is really interested in up-leveling their own systems. They’ve got tons going on. What advice would you give them?

Janet: What works for me is focusing on one thing at a time, and focus on making small changes. It’s somewhat a slower process, but your investment in the time that you spend, you’re going to get a return, if you make very small changes.

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Janet Schiesl

Janet has been organizing since 2005. She is a Certified Professional Organizer and the owner of Basic Organization. She loves using her background as a space planner to challenge her clients to look at their space differently. She leads the team in large projects and works one-on-one with clients to help the process move quickly and comfortably. Call her crazy, but she loves to work with paper, to purge what is not needed and to create filing systems that work for each individual client. Janet is a Past President of the Washington DC Chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and was voted 2016 Organizer of the Year by the Washington DC Chapter of NAPO.

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