Tips from a professional organizer on getting you and your family through the week with less clutter and more ease

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WHO SHE IS: Laurie Palau, professional organizing expert / Founder & CEO simply B organized

LOCATION: Bucks County, PA

SUCCESS STORY: In 2009 at the height of the recession I took a leap of faith and turned my passion into profitability.

WORK SCHEDULE: Anytime I am not sleeping or with my family

KIDS: 2 daughters: Zoe (13) & Logan (10)

SANITY VICE: Working out and wine

RECENT SMART READ: Inc. Magazine articles on Facebook (I swear they are great for entrepreneurs!) — relevant content and quick reads

BEST TIME-MANAGEMENT TIP: Establish routines for everyday tasks. Routines make it easier for you to rely less on memory, which can be exhausting and stressful.

GO-TO TECH: Wunderlist. It’s by far my favorite to-do list app. I speak about it in my seminars and workshops, write articles about it, and use it everyday. See my top 3 reasons why I love it here

BETTER WAY TO SAY WORK-LIFE BALANCE? I prefer work-life integration, because it represents the merging of both areas of my life.

5 Questions for Laurie

1. What’s the number one secret to being organized?

Simplicity. Reducing unnecessary clutter from your life is the foundation for living an organized life.

2. What is the biggest reason why people engage your services as a professional organizer?

People feel overwhelmed and frustrated. They are looking for someone to develop a plan of action and help execute it. Where are the biggest pain points for most people? Obviously it’s different for everyone, but two common areas are paper clutter (bills, mail, kids artwork, school papers), and garages (because they are a large space that can easily end up as a dumping ground).

When it comes to paper clutter, I always advise people to make three piles: ACTION, REFERENCE, and RECYCLE. “Action” items would be anything that requires you to do something, like pay a bill or RSVP to an invitation. The “reference” pile consists of any papers you want to file in the event you ever need to refer back (note: this pile should be small). The largest pile, should be the “recycle” pile which consists of junk mail, monthly statements that can be accessed online, etc. By separating your mail into these piles reduces the likelihood of important information getting misplaced.

When I talk to people about garages, the first thing I ask them is to define how they want the space to function. Too many times people dive into a project without having a plan of action and wind up getting frustrated along the way. Knowing what you want to accomplish and the steps you need to execute it are critical for longterm maintenance.

3. You work with people on how to reduce stress at the two busiest times of the day: morning and evening. In the morning, I’m often grateful when I see I have on matching shoes. How do you advise people to make this a smoother time?

As a busy working mom myself I know how crazy the morning routine can be. I always make a point of making sure the house is put together (dishes done, lunches made, toys put away, etc.) the night before so we are not scrambling in the morning.

4. The evening is a very busy time — the after school crunch time with activities, homework, dinner, bedtime. How does a working parent stay organized around all of this?

There are lots of little things we can do to help easy the “witching hour,” but one game changer for me was when I started weekly meal planning. Not having to come home from a long day of work and think about what to make for dinner saved me valuable time and money (we weren’t eating out as much), and reduced my stress of trying to scramble to pull something together at the last minute. See my five tips for simplifying meal time.

5. What is the media missing about working moms, in your opinion?

Raising a human being to be a smart, healthy functioning member of society is by far the most important job, but it is still viewed as a secondary function in many corporate cultures. In my world I have two careers: CEO of Palau Industries where I am mom to Zoe and Logan, make dinner, grocery shop, do laundry, help with homework, run to activities, listen to problems, deal with sick kids, pay bills, clean the house, and all the other “glamorous” tasks of running a successful home. My other career is CEO of simply B organized, where I have a responsibility to my staff, my clients, my readers.

Anything else you would like to answer?

It’s OK to ask for help and delegate when you can. One of the take-aways I teach people is that being organized represents freedom – freedom to reclaim time to do what you enjoy, with the people who matter most.

Follow Laurie on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/simplyBorganized

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