A Life – Retired!

Posted on June 24, 2014 by Tanya

“I want to live in a world where people can enjoy each other and not worry about paperwork, so I created The HAINES System™”. My sister and I together organized a comprehensive system in a simple format that guides people through the process of gathering and organizing their important papers. This is something we all must take seriously and complete, though most do not.

No one wants to think about or talk about illness or death, but the reality is that life happens! So, let’s be as prepared as possible for this and then relax knowing it is done.

THS Logo Small

The HAINES System™ refers to Having All Important Notes Executed and Secured. Everyone needs a Will, Durable/Financial Power of Attorney, Healthcare Power of Attorney, and a Living Will completed and those named in the documents need to know they are named. We guide you through the collection of your personal, household, legal, financial, and medical documents. If you don’t know how to begin the process, check out our free download here.

If you are interested in purchasing the system, please be sure to contact me! I would love to help you Retire the Worry, Not Your Life!™

Organizing the Organized

Posted on June 17, 2014 by Tanya

Meals and Memories

My Mom is very organized and maintains her kitchen as a well stocked source for the delicious products she develops and delivers. And as a Depression-era survivor, she always has lots of extras ready. It is rare that we want to bake or cook something for which she does not have all the ingredients. Her challenges are that she is rather short (incredibly cute at 5′), she is blind in one eye, and she has just one pantry with immovable shelves. It is imperative that she utilize the space sensibly and maximize access.

2014-05-17 Mom's Pantry Before

I had an extra canned goods rack I thought she would appreciate. So, I began pulling out all her cans she had just recently re-organized by categories and fought off her protests with promises of putting them back in essentially the same order. This canned goods rack allows for a three tier stack of cans with a slight incline so you can see what you have with the cans rolling forward.

2014-05-17 Mom' Pantry After


Now she has fewer cans stacked up and more cans where she can see them better. All the fruits are on the left and the ethnic foods on the right. “I DO like the can rack. It helps simplify the pantry some more. I probably would not have gotten that, so thanks a bunch!!”

What could be a better or more tasty endorsement?

Organized Hoarder – for Real!

Posted on June 12, 2014 by Tanya

Organized Hoarder

Last year I wrote a blog post about my Dad’s workshop. It essentially takes up the full two car garage, and therefore there is no room for my Mom to park her car. She is OK with this because the workshop is so important for my Dad. This does not mean that there is to work to do. My Dad is truly an “organized hoarder”. Yes, you read that right! He is highly organized, but hoards items he “may need one day”.

Link to first blog post about his Garage Organization.

As a product of the 30s and a Depression Era survivor and thriver, he is like many others who feels that throwing away things is a waste. We can always re-use and re-purpose items. He was ready to better manage his space, time, and energy. This is where I came in!

Here is a picture of his garage-based woodworking workshop before:

2014-05-18 Desk Area Before











The workshop before was overrun with too much stuff. My Dad has a place for everything and yet he was not utilizing the space well because of the volume of stuff.  To know how to re-work the space, I needed to have him tell me what he needed the space to do for him. His heart is in woodworking, specifically using a lathe and making wooden bowls. So, that was the basis for prioritizing his work areas.

We got rid of the extras (glass jars, plastic containers) and collected all like-minded items (all paperclips, pens, pencils, scissors, rope, string, tape…). The extra items were sent to the recycle bin or trash can and the others were stored together, all in one place. He now has a clean area in which to work:

2014-05-18 Desk Area After

Though only part of his workshop, getting this much cleaned out and putting all his supplies within reach and easy to find has made his shop much more functional and enjoyable! He even text me to say, “my shop feels ready, fresh and clean. My shop is great! Thanks to you.” What more could a daughter-organizer ask for?

Communicate and Facilitate – NOT Obligate!

Posted on June 10, 2014 by Tanya

As a professional organizer and Productive Environment Specialist, my role is to ask the questions and offer options. Much as my training to be a social worker encouraged, we are here to listen to YOU. It is not our job to come in and decide what you need to do, how you need to do it, and what to throw away. Many fear that having an organizer means having someone dictate to you. This could not be farther from the truth. We are here to help facilitate the process.

We like to ask some basic questions:



And, to create that productive environment, or intentional setting, you need to:

  1. State your vision
  2. Identify your obstacles
  3. Commit your resources
  4. Create your plan
  5. Maintain your success


This art of organizing is all about finding out what will work for you and then making that happen. The goal is to establish a process or system that makes sense to you and you can and will maintain. We can help to facilitate this process through communication and NOT obligation! What works for you may not work for someone else and that’s OK; this process is about you and your interest in living and working in an environment that allows you to be less stressed, more productive, and enjoy your life.

The motto for Structured Chaos is clear:

SC-tagline copy

Enjoy the journey and then live yours! Let me know your thoughts on these questions and the idea of having the support to do what you want and need without judgement, condemnation, or pressure. Everyone is different and I thank God for that and for each of my individual clients!

Records Retention Policy

Posted on June 5, 2014 by Tanya

Chances are, if you work for a company there is a Records Retention Policy. If not, ask about it. Having one will assist you greatly should you ever be audited. By having a policy and showing that you follow it consistently, you show good faith effort. Any policy needs to be reviewed at least annually to ensure the method of retention is still valid and up-to-date.

But, what about at home or your own small business? On a lesser scale, you still need to have some system for how  you maintain your records. Do you keep everything in shoe boxes shoved in closets and under the bed? Do you not keep anything assuming you can always retrieve it digitally? Neither of these extremes is good practice, so what is?

Epic - Shoebox and Receipts

Start small and write out some basics that you can live by, just to get a framework going. This can be changed at any time, but start with something. It may be as simple as having a file system where you mark it by year and each year you add the new file for the new year, you get rid of the oldest year by scanning it and then trashing or shredding it.

None of this has to be overwhelming if you just begin with ONE thing, no matter how small. Go ahead – start today!


Needed for All: Advance Directives!

Posted on June 3, 2014 by Tanya

It has been a month since National Healthcare Decisions Day – a national movement to encourage people to take personal responsibility for completing their advance directives (healthcare powers of attorney, living will…). We all know that we will not get out of this life alive. I don’t mean to sound negative or morose, just realistic. We really need to plan a little better and here is some help to start.


Many people will spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars to pay an attorney to draft legal documents like a will, powers of attorney and so forth, and an accountant to complete taxes. None of this is really very good if we don’t have these documents in a format others can get to when they are needed. And, this is not something just older people should do. Regardless of our age, we are all susceptible to the unknown. Once you commit to making your plans, you can then move forward with living your life.


Consider using my new system, The HAINES System™. It is named after my GG who died in November at the age of 93. GG was a highly organized man who had only a few files of paper for us to sort through. That is it! He had everything completed and filed so that when he died, my Mother had only to follow the paperwork. This was a tremendous gift for her and the rest of our family. The immediate aftermath of dealing with all the emotions of someone’s death is powerful and can be overwhelming. He gave us the ultimate gift of peace.


The HAINES System™ is named for GG as he and his death truly did inspire my sister, Julie, and I to put this workbook together. We want others to benefit from his legacy. Haines was his middle name and we use it as HAINES – Having All Important Notes Executed and Secured. We guide you through the process of gathering all the information and documents you need to consider should something happen to you. This allows your loved ones the opportunity to truly deal with your illness or death and not to be concerned about calling the credit card companies or searching for your marriage certificate or wondering if you really did want life support. You will already have this compiled for them.


Share your thoughts on this idea as well as your suggestions to make the process easier. Thanks for reading and considering what your legacy will be!