Carrie T. Rivera is a freelance journalist and photographer, as well as the President of Alight Communications. A seasoned professional, she provides well-researched and intelligently written content on a variety of subjects including: Law Enforcement, the Office Products Industry, Technology, Workplace Issues and Ethics, Business, Personal Safety, Religious and Legal Issues, Frauds and Scams and Women's and Parenting Issues.


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This month: REPENT! Author Helps Others Get Organized and Battle “Procrastinationosis” and “Packratitis”
Repent, for the time of taxes is now at hand! I donít know how it happens, but it happens every year, every three months for some of us. We cry, we confess, we beg forgiveness. We swear, we promise, we vow. We start overÖand then. Here we are again.

I canít find receipts, I canít find papers, and I have no idea when my tax appointment even is. I am a sinner. There, I said it. Confession is good for the soul, come on dear readers, confess with me. Though not the ìWhitney and Bobby on Barbara Waltersî kind of confession, but you know what I mean.

I know I am not the only ìfunctioning unorganizedî writer out there. So dear readers, I have come clean for you. I have sought out the High Priestesses of Productivity and (using my editorís nameósorry, I said I was a sinner) confessed my misdeeds. Not only are these Divaís of the Disorganized leading the way for those of us who are desperately suffering from procrastinationosis and packratitis, both are accomplished authors. Hush now, we are in the presence of cleanliness.

More Holier Than Thou

What do you get when you take a professional organizer with 25 years in the biz, mix in some time hosting her own television show, add a flourishing comedy writing career and sprinkle in her latest book How To Get Organized Without Resorting to Arson? You get Liz Franklin, founder of, speaker, consultant and organizer of thousands of professionals across hundreds of industries in businesses of every size. Visit or call (800)447-3488 for more information on how Liz can make you laugh, get your lead out, and increase your profits all at the same time.

When this former consultant/auditor began juggling a family and writing career she searched for ways to make life run smoothly. Finding organization to be the key to the writing life, she turned her hard won wisdom into a bestseller, The Organized Writer: 30 Days to More Time, More Money And Less Frustration. On a one woman mission to organize writers everywhere, visitors to Julieís site can download fun freebies, sample chapters, sign up for her newsletter and much more.

IS: Why it is imperative for those in the publishing industry to be properly organized.

Franklin: We sell our thoughts. If our thoughts are scrambled because we are distracted by messes on our desks, impossible-to-find files, or impending To-Do's, it shows up as scrambled writing, which leaves us with scrambled egg on our faces. Likewise, if we don't meet deadlines, we get a rep for being unreliable. Even the saintliest of publishers can then get resentful and feel justified in paying us late . . . or "forgetting" to pay us at all.

IS: It seems that every consumer magazine, and even some trade publications and book publishers, are beginning to jump on the organization and work/life balance bandwagon. However, you are a pioneer in recognizing this as a real need for the professional. What made you recognize this need and its potential as a niche market for your writing?

Franklin: Boy, is THAT true! Organizing has become such a fad that everybody wants in on it. I must get 20 calls a month from people who say, "I'm going to hang out a shingle as an organizer because I'm so organized." That's like saying, "I'm going to call myself a professional chef because I really like to eat." There's a leeetle bit more to it than that. This year I'll celebrate 25 years as a paid, professional Office Organizer. I think I was the second one in the country, after Stephanie Winston who wrote, Getting Organized in 1977.

Once I became an "official" (business cards, invoices, briefcase) Office Organizer, I sometimes found myself delaying my own projects or becoming disorganized. Yikes! I made myself into a lab rat, figured out how to solve the problems, and wrote about how I got the results I did. I figured that if an obsessive-compulsive like me could leave my groceries in the bank, lose my glasses on my face, and cry because I forgot my bank's ABA number, anyone could. When I took my solutions to my clients, they not only benefited from increased efficiency, they also made more money, so I knew I was doing something right.

Hood: Organizing has always been a hobby of mine and when I started writing, I realized that if I was going to be even slightly successful, I had to be very productive and even more efficient! I started because I needed it when I started. It helped that in my corporate job I did much of the same type of work ñ helping businesses do their work better, quicker and more effectivelyóso the leap to the writing arena seemed like a logical one.

IS: Do you feel that writers, especially because we are at once both artists and business people, are most susceptible to disorganization and the problems that it causes?

Hood: Writers (and most creative types) use the right side of their brain to fuel their creativity. Unfortunately, the right side of brain isn't as logical and organized as the left side. So the best writers recognize when they need to be creative and when they need to be organized. When you're finding the perfect title for your short story, your right brain can give you the snazziest answer. But when you need to file last week's invoices, you really need to jump into the logical side of your brain. The challenge is knowing when and how to jump between the two sides of your brain.

I think everyone needs to understand their organizational style. On my web site I list the Organized Writer's Six Rules, and the first one is Work with Yourself, Not Against Yourself. This means that you take the time to understand your personality and what works (and doesn't work!) for you. Each month in my newsletter, we have a day to talk about what works for writers and how they take a positive trait in their personality and apply it to more than one area of their writing business.

On the first day of the 30-Day Plan in The Organized Writer, readers take a short quiz to rate their organizing personality. Solutions are given for some of the most common personality traitsóbeing a packrat or a perfectionist, for example. The first step in getting organized is recognizing what underlying traits affect your ability to stay on top of everything.

IS: Many writers are so overwhelmed with the business of writing that they often never get to write, or they are so into their writing that their business side suffers. What are your top tips for getting organized?

Franklin: I have discovered a useful balancing trick: I started noticing under what circumstances my brain switched from creative to business or vice versa. For example, when I am concentrating heavily on writing and suddenly hit a snag, I may feel the need to "escape" and go water the cats or feed the plants, whatever, which used to make me feel guilty. Now, however, I realize that my poor overtaxed little brain is switching off the creativity as a way of telling me it's time for a break. In other words, I have learned to go WITH the flow instead of against it. (People argue with me all the time that this will not improve one's income, but it does! So does a nap: it's not dilly-dallying, it's diurnal research!)

Some helpful tips:

a) Put a sticky on every piece of paper that requires action. On the sticky, put a large verb and date. Examples:

- Call by June 10

- Fax by June 3

- Slit wrists by month-end

- Submit to ABC magazine by July 9

- Accept or decline Pulitzer by May 31

b) You can then arrange your paperwork by due date OR by activity OR by project, whichever works best for you.

c) Make colored folders to "control" your paperwork. Use the same titles and put the stuff in the appropriate folder. Make sure the colors make sense to you. (Remember, nonsense is a kind of sense). This way, even if your desk still gets disorganized, you can always curse and swear more efficiently: "Where is that *%*^$ blue folder?!" instead of, "Where is that *%*^$ project that's due tomorrow?!"

d) To isolate and protect large projects (or projects with many folders or bits, such as a website or newsletter), use plastic bins (as one would use for sweater storage. Take the sweater out first, though.) Then put all the parts of a project together. This keeps your desktop clear and helps you focus on one project at a time. A beer might help, too.

e) Note: Don't let anyone else set up your system or it won't work for you. (See How to Get Organized Without Resorting to Arson, chapter one, "Access Types", for more.) I have a friend who thinks so much like I do that we have a joke: "Have you got the brain today? Can I have it tomorrow?" Yet she organizes differently than I do. Sure she can borrow my brain; but she is not allowed to TOUCH my paperwork because she would get her different-wave-length-cooties all over it.

f) To find lost things, ask yourself, "What activity was I going to do next?" For example, if it was "Dispense with Bureaucracy Globally", your paperwork is in your orange "control" folder for "Bureaucracies to be Dispensed With". Calls are in the "call" folder, faxes are in the "to be faxed" folder, etc.