GLVWG member, Judy Mehl, had an opportunity to interview Colleen, who’ll provide insight to authors with organizing the materials that support the product you sell – your writing, and a separate session to organize the back office side of things.
Interview by Judith Mehl, www.judymehl.com
GLVWG: You have a unique business based on organization, yet you’ve expanded that to encompass so much more than a filing system. Would you tell us about that?
Colleen Warmingham: I’ve been a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, and in continual training monthly, for ten years. The organization has different specialties—different ways to solve problems. Others have specialties in downsizing or hoarding. Mine is office organization. I’m certified in FreedomFiler, a home filing system, and the Evernote paper and electronic system for note taking and keeping. This area is also something dear to me—repurposing, reusing, gifting. I created the name, Minimologist, LLC. because the name reflects my core value of minimizing my impact on this precious planet and helping others do the same.
GLVWG: How do you coordinate going green and getting organized? Do you emphasize the green aspect, or the space streamlining?
CW: Going green and getting organized go hand-in-hand, because both are about exercising thoughtful purchasing habits, and disposing of excess responsibly. I don’t often have to compromise between the two since going green is often the solution to getting organized and uncluttered. With a clutter problem, shopping is seldom the answer. I have a firm belief that we can create what we need from what we have on hand. I will encourage you to reuse what you have, to find new homes for unwanted items, to select sustainable products, and to recycle your household or office waste. For many of my clients, my belief in going green is the selling point. But In the end, the clients ethics are the most important. The client must make the decision. I only suggest solutions.
GLVWG: On your website, you say it isn’t actually about the stuff, it’s about goals and dreams and hopes. Cleaning out clutter to align our stuff to our future, and therefore dreams, makes sense. Could you relate this to our writing life—beyond always knowing where your post-it notes are?
CW: For writers, for those creative, it’s about setting the stage. Making space. We address two questions to determine how we are in our space—what causes stress. First, Can you find your stuff, your tools? And second, how do you feel in your space? I learned a lot when I helped reorganize an area to clear the desk of all clutter. Though the client was happy at how beautifully clean it was, someone who saw the before and after photos said, “I could never work in a space like that. It’s too sterile.” That person needed a different environment to feel good. Especially for creative people, some like a blank space, others need to be surrounded with creative inspiration. It’s a matter of do they prefer visual quiet or visual stimulation? My job is to figure out where one is in that continuum from quiet to stimulation and make suggestions. The client decides how much of my suggestions to follow.
GLVWG: You used a sentence on your website that seems to apply to much more than finances. “What are your strengths? Weaknesses?” Just as with your finances, an honest assessment will empower you.” Could you relate this to most aspects of organizing? To business? To writing?
CW: It is important to remember that even for creative people, what we do is a business. For some, writing is the business. For others, writing is part of the business. For either, the job has an “on stage” and a “back stage.” For writers, the actual writing is on stage. The back stage skills may be the marketing, or bookkeeping—all the areas that are necessary to complete the business of writing. Some hats don’t fit well. Shore up what we’re not good at. As a coach I stress that there is not a specific right or wrong way to organize. Ask instead what works for me? I define that. If in writing, there is a weakness in the “on stage,” you may need to hire an editor or get training. If there is weakness in the “back stage,” find that weakness and hire someone to do that aspect. Maybe you need an accountant, or cover designer.
Hire the talent you need. I’m the talent some people need to hire.
GLVWG: What a wonderful addition to the writing advice to be offered at this conference. Thank you for providing this often undiscussed perspective.
CW: I look forward to helping writers be comfortable and happy in their space.
Organize Your Writing Business – Saturday Morning, March 25
You’re in business… do you know where your receipts are? Learn to manage your back office like the self-employed pro you are. We’ll cover organizing your income and expense receipts, locating your marketing plans and materials, and some basic business planning. You’ll learn the tools to understand your business’s financial position and save time and money at tax time.
Organize Your Writing Content – Saturday Afternoon, March 25
Ideas, proposals, research, drafts… how do you keep track of it all? This session will focus on organizing the materials that support the product you sell, your writing. Learn techniques to prevent saying the dreaded “I know I have it here somewhere” while on the phone with your editor, and face the IRS with confidence.
Colleen Warmingham works one-on-one with clients to create a safe place for them to work through life’s transitions. Whether joyful or painful, intentional or unplanned, all transitions bring challenges. When she’s done, her clients have an efficient home or office and a comfortable life.
In addition to client sessions, Colleen conducts workshops focusing on finding practical ways to overcome common obstacles to getting organized. Attendees leave her workshops energized and confident in working with their unique talents. She is also a contributor to the Valley Ledger. Each article addresses a different aspect of simple living in the Lehigh Valley.
Colleen graduated from Moravian College with a B.A. in History. She finds that studying history was the perfect foundation for organizing. After all, history teaches us to understand cause and effect in our lives; a critical step in understanding how we relate to our space and how our space affects how we live and work. After college, Colleen worked as a consultant, instructor, project manager, and even tour guide before launching her organizing business.