Structure Your Chaos! Top Three Ways Professionals Undercut Their Potential

Posted on October 2, 2014 by Tanya

Next Thursday I will be speaking at the New Bern Breakfast Rotary Club on the Top Three Ways Professionals Undercut Their Potential. Even highly successful people can and often do learn new ways to become more productive and increase their successes. This topic will address the following three ways I believe all professionals can do better:

  1. Lack of organization
  2. Lost productivity
  3. Neglecting networking and collaboration

By getting your organization under control so you can increase your productivity allows for more time to network and collaborate. You will also be ready to accept that new client or contract and be able to do so efficiently so you can move on to the next project with ease.

A chronic lack of organization is systemic and though your clients may not see it, they will subconsciously react to it. As will your peers. Perhaps they would have referred a client to you but were not certain you were “ready and able” to respond. Or a client really enjoyed working with you but were hesitant to refer others to you because of this one quality they knew others would not react well to.

Once you get a handle on your clutter and you are able to produce more better, you are in a position to fully engage with others to truly reach your potential. For some this is not easy, but it can be accomplished and with the proper systems in place, it can be maintained. Come out next Thursday the 9th and learn much more about this topic!

If you are interested in having me speak with your group, please check out my signature speaking topics here.

Calculate YOUR Chaos – What is the Cost?

Posted on August 11, 2014 by Tanya

Alzheimer’s Disease – Prepare Now

Posted on July 3, 2014 by Tanya

The Center for Outreach in Alzheimer’s, Aging and Community Health is looking toward our future. With the aging Baby Boomer’s there will be a “silver tsunami” coming. Through a grant from Merck, NC A&T State University’s College of Arts and Sciences is working to address the concerns about this debilitating and devastating disease through education, advocacy, and research.


Alz Warning Signs     Alz Warning Signs P2

It is important that we all complete our advance directives before we need them. My Grandmother died with Alzheimer’s and I am so glad she had our GG to care for her and she had her paperwork completed. This allowed us all to focus on her care, loving her, supporting GG, and then grieving her when she died. It was a wonderful gift for my Mom and the rest of us.

Visit the National Healthcare Decisions Day website for ideas on how to start this conversation with those you love.

Visit The HAINES System on my website for help with gathering, organizing, and maintaining your documents or call (252) 665-3424.

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!

Paying all Bills

Posted on May 27, 2014 by Tanya

SC - MailBox or InBox?

So we all get mail whether it comes in our mail box outside or our email box inside. As a military kid, I LOVED mail day! Living overseas in the ’80s meant the best communication was every two weeks when our Dad would come home from work and have a stack of mail. It took at least one week for a letter to get from our home in England to a friend’s home in the U.S.A. That was impressive and we just never thought twice about having to wait for a letter or card.

Now that I am an adult with a house, husband, children, cars, and dogs I am not always so excited to get the mail (either version of it) because it is either junk mail or bills. Either way, the experience does not hold the same allure it did when I was a kid.

Recently I received an email from the online account I have been using to schedule all my bill paying, Manilla. At this site, I could log in and see all of my bills that are paid electronically, the balances, when the next bill is due (they send me email reminders before a bill is paid), any documents/notices the companies have sent to me, and a link to go directly to that site to amend any bills. Well, Manilla is closing this summer and they suggest their users download documents and delete the account.

This got me to thinking about all the digital tools I recommend to my readers. How secure are these electronic records? Why not just keep using the paper bills? Well, just like with paper, you must keep your own records in a format that you are comfortable with, makes sense to you, and will allow for any tax implications you may need to address.

As I went through my account, I realized that I was using Manilla as a staging ground, or gathering place to see most of my bills in one place. The reality is that I am already signed up for paperless billing with all the companies and therefore will be just fine without Manilla. Plus, I have reduced the number of accounts we have as a means to better manage our finances. This helped as well.

Now, I can go back to looking forward to getting the mail and know that most of what comes to my house will be something other than bills and maybe, just maybe someone will send me a card!

Murphy’s Law or Hemphill’s Principle?

Posted on May 22, 2014 by Tanya

Think about this:


I often hear people say: ” I know that as soon as I throw something away, I will need it!”. Murphy’s Law certainly has it’s place and this is the reason may people keep everything. It is out of fear. But, think about it. When has this ever happened? If it has, what can you do to protect yourself? Do you use any online tools that will allow you to save articles, documents, photos and other things and then back that system up?

Consider instead Barbara Hemphill‘s principle: If you don’t know you have it or can’t find it, it is of no use to you. Today there are so many apps and digital tools that help you to stay organized without all the physical stuff overwhelming your space. Make some time in your schedule to check out these new free resources and commit to trying just one or two. Or, consider reading some of my posts that do this for you. I have tried several apps for shopping lists, to do lists, keeping track of mileage and so on.

If you have an app you are interested in or need an app for something, let me know. I’ll review it, compare it to others, and then post a blog about it. If you have the need, I am sure others do, too. So, is it Murphy’s Law or Hemphill’s Principle?

Personal Library Indexing

Posted on May 15, 2014 by Tanya

Many of us have lots of books around our house. We enjoy reading them, sometimes re-reading them, looking at them, but probably not dusting them! For those of us who have moved a lot, it is also not fun moving them – they are heavy and take up a lot of space and cost to transport. So, what’s a bibliophile to do? Index!

Barbara Hemphill of the Productive Environment Institute  made this suggestion: consider making an index of all the books you have and include the name of the book, the author, and a few things about it you want to remember. This allows you to then give away books to literacy programs, libraries, or simply to others to enjoy. You will recall the books without having so many in your home or office.

Click the image below to get a link to a free Excel spreadsheet to use for indexing your books:

Book Index

Videos (Barbara Hemphill and Tanya) are Live!

Posted on May 14, 2014 by Tanya

On April 29th Barbara Hemphill joined Tanya in New Bern to hold a seminar about home organizing and more. You can now see the videos here to learn more:

Barbara Hemphill Barbara Hemphill – talks about basic organizing and how a Productive Environment Specialist can help you through the process of implementing a system that will work for you! We use proven methods to implement simple yet effective systems you are then able to manage. This allows you to accomplish your work and enjoy your life.

BQ4A0244-LowRez Tanya Roberts – shares her new book, The HAINES System™,  as co-written with her sister, Julie. Together they have researched and pulled together resources and then put them all in one simple yet comprehensive format that guides you through the process of gathering all your important documents in one place. What a gift for your loved ones!

How productive are you? Are you interested in seeing what your productivity score is? Click for a link to both:

Scorecard for Individuals – allows you to see what is enhancing or impeding your personal productivity.

Scorecard for Organizations – measure your satisfaction with your current work environment.

If you have any questions, please just let me know! Thanks for watching and reading!

Record Keeping – How Long?

Posted on May 8, 2014 by Tanya

Last week Barbara Hemphill was in New Bern and shared her experiences as a professional organizer with a group gathered at the Courtyards at Berne Village. One question that we often hear and was asked during this seminar was: how long do I keep my records for tax purposes? This answer is really quite easy: as long as you feel you need to.

For a business, ask these 6 Records Management Questions:

  1. What do we need to keep?
  2. In what form?
  3. For how long?
  4. Who is responsible for filing?
  5. Who needs access to it?
  6. How can we find it?


For personal use, follow The Art of WastebasketryⓇ questions:

  1. Does it require action?
  2. Is it recent enough?
  3. Would it be difficult to obtain again?
  4. Are the tax or legal implications?
  5. Do you have a specific use for it?


Though these are not entirely clear cut, black and white answers, they should provide some guidance for you. With the availability of amazing technology, you no longer need to retain everything in paper format. Consider utilizing Shoeboxed for managing all your old records and files.

ShoeBoxed Logo

I mail to them each year’s taxes. They upload all the documents, including receipts, forms, invoices…, shred the originals, and send me an email that the documents are available in my Shoeboxed account. This allows me to clear out the paper clutter and not feel the need to retain a container of files I most likely will not ever need to access. It also allows me to feel confident that should I need those old tax returns, I can get to them quickly.

What works for you? How do you keep your documents? Are you willing to move from paper to digital storage?

Mother’s Day is Coming!

Posted on May 1, 2014 by Tanya

Mother’s Day is fast approaching and what better gift to give your Mom than one that will provide her and your family with peace of mind and relaxation? The HAINES System is simple way to guide you through designing your blueprint for the gathering, organizing, and maintenance of your important papers.

HAINES was my GG’s middle name, Frederick Haines Schmitz, who died last November at the age of 93. He was highly organized and had his papers in such a format that there was very little we had to do when he died. The gift he left us was incredibly clear on that day. Watching my Mom deal with his passing was difficult, but seeing the immense relief in her face when she realized that virtually everything was in order was priceless. It really was. She was so stressed about doing things properly and appropriately that day, but she did not have to be concerned with what GG wanted or did not want; he had made all those decisions years before.

A gift like this is not your typical gift, but that itself is refreshing. Flowers are beautiful, but they fade quickly. Candy is delicious, but is gone faster than the flowers. This year, consider writing your Mom a note to express your love and gratitude for her and give her The HAINES System – you can do together.

If you need some tips for having this conversation, here are some resources:

Dare to be different this Mother’s Day and really show your Mom how much you respect her wishes by completing The HAINES System with her, for her, and beside her.

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