Interview with Professional Organizing Consultant Sue McMillin

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Continuing our series of interviews with professional organizers, today we have Sue McMillin of With Time To Spare (WithTimeToSpare.com)!

 

Please tell us about yourself and your business.

After graduation from the University of Kentucky in 1968, I was a missionary (nationally and internationally), served as a school teacher in KY and worked at the Navy Federal Credit Union in VA,  before I started my business, With Time To Spare, in 1982.

I became one of the first organizers in the country even before the organizing industry came into existence. I trained myself on 50 men and women in my church who loved being guinea pigs. After about 8 years of successfully organizing homes, I started offering seminars and workshops to the corporate world and now I speak in hospitals, associations, manufacturing, hospitality, government, non-profits and churches all around this country and overseas.

I love my work and my clients and have had quite a ride these last 36 years!

 

What are your clients’ biggest challenges?

Too much stuff and they are “going through their work to get to their work”.

Stuff is blocking out light and air and it is costing companies and individuals time, energy, space and money. “I might need it someday” is an expression that my clients use for holding onto stuff and it is drowning them in inefficiency and clutter.

My clients are constantly “going through their work to get to their work” and it is affecting their company’s bottom line. They are spending more time searching for their work (“Now where did I put that file, I know it is here somewhere.”) than doing their work. With just simple systems in their files, paperwork and supplies, they can find their work more quickly thus becoming more productive.

 

In your experience, how does a person’s physical space affect their ability to manage their time effectively?

How your office and home is set up physically with proper systems will directly affect how you manage your time. Even though we all use the term, “manage your time”, you really can’t manage time. You can’t buy it, sell it, store it, save it, loan it, multiply it, change it, manufacture it, or rent it. You can only spend time by properly managing your tasks and if you don’t have systems for your files, paperwork, storage items, even your clothes, dishes, and toiletries, etc., focusing on managing your time will be fruitless.

Here is an example: Your morning routine. If your clothes closet is in disarray, if your kitchen is disorganized, your morning routine will be chaotic and stressful, which will directly affect your morning routine at your office. Always organize your physical systems before tackling time management problems.

 

These days when people are so busy, how can they integrate organization into their schedule?

I have found that the biggest problem with lack of organization in offices and homes is because my clients don’t take the time to organize. The reason that they don’t take the time is because they have never been trained. With just a little help from a friend or a trained professional organizer, your office and home can be transformed. When you take the time, learn simple systems and implement those systems, you feel fabulous and the results are seen and felt immediately!

I like to tell my clients that instead of saying, “I don’t have time to organize,” they should start saying, “I organize to have time.” When you change the way you think about getting organized, you will get organized.

 

What are some ways people can minimize distractions to help improve their productivity?

Put things away not down. Put things back where you got them. You will then be able to find them the next time you need them. Leaving things out will distract you and you will not be able to focus on one thing at a time which is another skill that will eliminate distractions.

 

What are your top 3 recommendations on how people can be more effective with their time?

Find a calendar/day planner/ phone system that works for you in all situations; office and home. A planner system will help you to forget! Yes, forget! It is all recorded in your system and you can now relax and focus on your top goals, not on the hundreds of “to do’s” on your list.

Leave margin between each task, appointment or meeting. Don’t schedule every minute of every day. Margin will give you space to breathe before you move on to your next task or meeting.

Don’t schedule your time, schedule your priorities. Focus on priorities not tasks.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Organizing is a skill and must be learned just like typing or skiing. Most people feel that they should be automatically organized but I have found that it is a skill and can easily be learned. Professional organizers are fun people to work with and we are not judgmental! We love our work and we love our clients. We only want to see them succeed in life. Bringing order to their lives goes a long way in solving many other problems making getting organized a critical skill for managing your office and time.

More time, more space, more energy, more peace, more money, more control. These are the benefits of establishing order in your office, home and with your time.

 

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