April 19, 2024

Stuck No More–Clutter Be Gone! by Katy Tafoya

I’ve recently returned from a twelve day family trip to Costa Rica.  We had a wonderful time, but post-vacation re-entry has been, let’s say, a work in progress.  With that in mind, I’m happy to put my feet up and share a blog post from Katy Tafoya, a Los Angeles based teacher/ coach, and founder of the awesome site Success for Solopreneurs. 
I’ve been a fan of Katy’s Facebook page for some time, and I’m super excited to hear her speak at the July meeting of  the National Association of Professional Organizers–Los Angeles Chapter (NAPO-LA.)  Though Katy isn’t a professional organizer, this post could have been lifted from many an organizer’s blog…her advice is spot-on!
Enjoy, readers…and thanks, Katy!

Stuck No More – Clutter Be Gone! – by Katy Tafoya

“Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.”

~ Wendell Berry
Did you know that clutter is a form of stagnant energy?  It’s a blockage.  A stuckness.  An excuse.

In fact, according to Clutter Clearing and Feng Shui expert, Karen Kingston, “the word “clutter” derives from the Middle English word “clotter,” which means to coagulate.”  As in to clot and to clog….like your arteries.

Not cool.

Imagine what that means to your life and your business.  Think of how many ways you could be blocking your energy and getting in your own way.

As I write this, I look to my left and see a heaping pile of clutter on my desk.  I hate it.  Every time I turn and see it, I’m reminded of how much I hate it.  Every time I look for something important and have to shuffle through the mess, I feel my energy draining and my frustration growing.

Ugh, just thinking about it wears me down.

The good news (at least to me), is that each and every time I put aside a few minutes to clean up the clutter (I use a timer and some good music to make it easier to deal with) I find that amazing things happen.

You see, once you clean up the space, ditch the junk and make space, you’ve cleared up the energy for something new to come in. 

And like we all learned back in High School…nature abhors a vacuum and will rush in to fill that now empty space with something good…new clients, new opportunities and even new money. And who would turn their back on any of that?!?!

So I challenge you to set aside 15 minutes today (or tomorrow, or this week…just do it!) and clear your clutter.  You don’t have to tackle every room or even every piece of furniture in one room. 

But start somewhere and toss, toss, straighten, file and toss some more.

Then sit back and wait for the amazing opportunities, unexpected benefits, surprise money and even new clients that come into your life.

It almost makes it worth living through the clutter for a while.  Almost.

ACTION PLAN: So what’s the first step you’ll be taking in clearing out your clutter?

I invite you to share a little about who you are, what you do and your successes as solopreneur by joining the conversation at the Success for Solopreneurscommunity.

Katy Tafoya is teacher and a coach who finds joy in helping women claim their passion and expertise. She guides solopreneurs to make their lives and their businesses juicier, more fulfilling and more successful. She also leads the Val Gal quarterly networking dinners which are always open to the public and in the greater San Fernando Valley. If you’re ready to identify, claim and leverage your expertise and live your passion you can sign up for a a F.R.E.E. subscription to her weekly ezine at SuccessForSolpreneurs.com.

Back Up Your Business

Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami has left the world reeling. 

The disaster gave me a much needed wake up call, since I live in earthquake prone Southern California.  Prior to this weekend, my family had only a rudimentary disaster preparedness kit, and our emergency plan was hazy at best.  There was no excuse for this, given where we live (not to mention my profession.)  We are now better prepared.

In the event of a natural disaster, the personal safety of our loved ones is paramount.  But what about your business?  If your office or work space were obliterated, would you be able to salvage your vital documents and data?

You probably already back up your computer, but if you’re exclusively using an external hard drive, it would most likely be lost in a flood, fire, or other disaster.  That’s why I now recommend using an online backup service, such as Carbonite (www.carbonite.com) or Mozy (www.mozy.com).   I’ve been using Carbonite for a while, and it’s a great reassurance.  It automatically backs up any new files (though you can set your preferences.)  Carbonite is currently $54.95 per computer / per year, and worth every penny for the peace of mind.

How about your paper files, documents, and receipts?  To what degree would your business be impacted if they all went up in smoke?  Consider going (almost) paperless.  There are some powerful scanners on the market that can scan multiple pages, receipts, business cards and photos in seconds.  Check out Neat Receipts (www.neatco.com) and the ScanSnap (www.fujitsu.com).  If you do decide to digitize your business files, remember to back them up—preferably on the cloud. 

What else are you doing to protect your business from a disaster?  Has Japan’s recent tragedy spurred you to take action, either in your office or at home?

Get Your Act Together with Quickbooks in 2011

It’s the end of the year, bring on the holiday bustle and cheer!  December will blow by, so now is the time to reflect on how your business has done in 2010, and how you can make it better in 2011.

How about  bookkeeping, the vexation of many small business owners…will 2011 be the year that you finally get your act together?  How is your current system working for you? Does it consist of dumping every receipt into a box for “later,” causing untold misery and woe come tax time?  There is, as you know, a better way–and you owe it to yourself and your business to organize your financial record keeping.

As a solopreneur, you have two choices: hire a bookkeeper, or do it yourself.  If you elect to DIY, use QuickBooks.  QuickBooks provides accounting software for small businesses.  It’s been the industry standard for over fifteen years, and it’s what I recommend to my clients.  (And if you outsource, chances are your bookkeeper will use QuickBooks.)  Familiar with Quicken? You shouldn’t use it for business purposes; it’s designed for tracking personal finances, though it’s made by Intuit, the same folks behind QuickBooks.

Here’s a snapshot of what QuickBooks will do for you:

  • Manage customer, vendor, and employee data
  • Track expenses–pay bills, credit cards, print checks
  • Create invoices, statements, and purchase orders
  • Download banking transactions via online banking
  • Create all sorts of nifty reports
  • A whole lot more…

There are many features you can add-on, including payroll and merchant services.  In fact, few users need (or even understand) everything that QuickBooks has to offer.  This is what makes it great for home-based solopreneurs: you can keep things simple (tracking money in–money out,) and increase your knowledge as your business grows.

So, how do you decide which version of QuickBooks is right for you? Take a look here .  Most newbies begin with QuickBooks Pro.  There are also specialized Premier versions for Contractors, Retail, Nonprofits, Manufacturing & Wholesale, and Professional Services.

Finally, you’ll need to decide if you want to use the traditional desktop software, or QuickBooks Online–a newer service that Intuit is plugging pretty hard.  It’s ideal if you need to access your entire data from anywhere–office, home, or on the road.  Imagine creating and printing an invoice from your hotel room!  You can do that with QuickBooks Online.  It costs more (billed monthly,) but you get superior customer support, and you never have to upgrade to the next year’s version–you stay current. (No QuickBooks Online  for the specialized Premier versions, alas.)  If you don’t need all that accessibility (translation: you don’t get out much,) you can add-on Remote Access, starting at $3.95 per month, where you can access and work on your desktop files online.

So, the big question: is QuickBooks easy to use? Well, yes and no.  Once your account is set up, it’s a matter of data entry, which is simple(ish) enough.  It’s the setting up that can be tricky, especially if you don’t have a background in accounting. (Chart of Accounts? Items? Lists? Statements? Oy.)  QuickBooks comes with tutorials, customer service (2011 Pro version comes with a free one-hour phone session with a QuickBooks expert–a very welcome, new feature,) so you’re not completely on your own.  However, I suggest that you save yourself the inevitable headaches and get some help. 

Remember, 2011 is a fresh start.  Make the commitment now to get your books in order.  I can help.  And soon, I’ll be able to help from almost anywhere: in 2011, I’ll be offering virtual QuickBooks training.  If you’re interested in setting up a free practice session, let me know.  Also, if you have any QuickBooks questions, experience, yays-and-nays, post a comment.  On to 2011!

Work from Home? What Pains You?

 Do you work from home? Are you a solopreneur or small business owner? Are you thinking of becoming one?  Or are you working on a project that has a lot of meaning for you, but you’re not making much progress? If so, I’m reaching out to you.  I want to know what pains you—your frustrations, fears, challenges, all of the stuff that makes you want to pull your hair out, or even think, on a down day, that you’re not cut out for getting ahead.

I’m specifically thinking of issues over which you have some control, like managing time a little better, identifying what’s stalling your business, or doing something about your disorganized work space.  But let’s not talk about solutions yet.  If you could wave the proverbial magic wand, what problem or issue would you want to disappear?   

I’ll start.  Besides running Timeline Organizing Consultants, I do the accounting for my husband’s business.  I’ve also recently started an entrepreneurial venture with two friends; we’re inventing a product (strictly ssshh at this point.) I’m active in the local chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and Toastmasters.  Then, of course, there’s all the work that comes with running a home and caring for kids—the cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring, volunteering at school, homework, sports, all of it.  Plus, my daughter has multiple food allergies, including gluten, which requires vigilance and a stocked freezer of safe baked goods.

So, I’ve got a lot on my plate.  So do you.  So does most everyone these days.  I currently struggle with a lack of time (original, I know.)  There’s so much I want to do, yet not enough hours in the day.  A week passes so quickly, it’s frightening.  Lately, I’ve found myself doing the dishes at 11 pm, because perfectionist-me can’t leave them until morning, and I’ve been busy with any number of projects. It’s hard to close up shop when you live there.  But that’s not a sustainable routine for long.  I’m aware of burnout, and desperately want to avoid it. So, I suppose my magic wand would give me two hours of uninterrupted work time each day.

What about you? What pains you? Lack of time?  Lack of support? Reluctance to delegate? Inability to say no? Chaotic schedule? Chaotic space?  Let’s look at the problems, so we can focus on possible solutions.  Your responses will help.  So tell me, what pains you?

10 Benefits of Solid Organization for the Entrepreneur

  1. Ability to  find anything within five minutes
  2. Reduced stress and frustration
  3. Better defined boundaries between work and family time
  4. Organized financial records = peace of mind 
  5. More time to focus on what is truly important to you
  6. Knowing where to place every piece of paper that crosses your desk
  7. Manageable to-do lists
  8. No more forgotten appointments or missed deadlines
  9. Uncluttered space = uncluttered mind
  10. Stuff gets done