Follow Us!

Get Organized!

Did you know that January is National Organizing Month?

We learned that fact and more from CHAMPS member and Magic Maker Solutions CEO Amy O’Donnell at this month’s entrepreneur meeting on Jan. 10th.

The goal of organizing is to use deliberate decision-making to create effective processes, effective systems, and smart solutions.

It’s important to decide how you want to store your files. It’s great that you have the motivation to attack that pile of stuff on your desk, but where is that paper or electronic file going to go? Decide if you want to archive your work as paper or as digital files. To get further into this process, as yourself a few questions:

  • How does this paperwork come to me? Do I receive emailed receipts that I have to keep, or are most of them paper? Do I have electronic invoices that are paid online by clients, or are they paper and checks that come back to me? One of Amy’s key pieces of advice – file that item in the way it comes to you.
  • Can you reduce what’s coming in? Reduce what you have to manage to save yourself time. Unsubscribe to emails you don’t use, or mail that you don’t want to receive. Catalog Choice is an unsubscribe method for catalogs.
  • What works best for you? Use a system that is intuitive for you personally, and don’t feel that you have to file things down to the micro level. Maybe there’s a broad file for school work, professional development, client development opportunities, or bills. Save the more detailed filing system when necessary for things like individual clients, and then organize by year within those clients, for example.

Organizing for your business can really depend on what kind of business you have. Have lots of detailed or large format files that are in print that you need to keep by client? Invest in physical storage space like filing cabinets, rather than trying to scan and store files.

If you send invoices and receive payments digitally, organizing and storing those files digitally is the way to go. And don’t be afraid to use a combination approach – digital storage for finance/accounting/human resources files, and paper files for client work for example. There’s no right or wrong way, so long as you and anyone else in your organization who needs access can find the information.

Because business and personal life is not clear cut for many small business owners and entrepreneurs, making sure to use a single calendar that has all of your commitments on it (again, coded by color or whatever works for you) ensures that you don’t miss a meeting or an event. Adding reminders through your phone or email can allow you to more easily balance business and personal work.

One of the most important things you can do is create a habit with your organizing and filing. Set aside time daily or weekly, depending on the task and your schedule, to stay on top of things like billing and invoicing, etc.

Or maybe that habit includes an intern or a personal assistant – if something is bogging you down, outsource it. Your time is best spent doing the things that are most important to your business.

Another part of the organization habit is reviewing your day in advance of the next day. Take a look at what meetings or events you have and pull out any information, copies, equipment, etc. that you need in advance. And at the end of your day, put things away so you can start at a clean desk when you next sit down to work.

Piling vs Filing. Do you put things in a pile on your desk and then say – I’ll get to all this later? Schedule a block of time on your calendar so that later actually happens. Then look at how you are collecting these items and look at how you can organize them vertically where you can see them and address them. Categorize them by top priority or topic. And voila – you’ve gone from a disorganized pile to an organized file.

Lastly, if you start a method of organizing and it turns out to not work for you, don’t be afraid to change it. Re-label a folder if you find the priority word or phrase doesn’t exactly fit what you need it to do. Make a more general file or break out a file into more specific sub-categories. This goes for paper and online filing.

Check out Amy’s tip sheet below. Do you have an organization tool, tip or trick that helps you make sense of the chaos? Share it with us so we can add it our list!

Tools, Tips and Tricks:

One Touch

One tactic that you can use is the “one-touch” process. Basically, if you touch it, you address it right then, particularly if it will take under 2 minutes to deal with. Write that check for the bill that’s been sitting on your desk and stick it in the mail. Pay that parking ticket online. Create a 2020 file for those receipts and put it in your standing file.

Color Coding

For paper files, a tactic is to color code them – red for medical, green for financial, etc. Create a system that is intuitive to you.  Visual categorization like this can allow you to pull things faster. Again – you don’t have to file things down to a detailed level.

Genius Scan

A free mobile app for scanning documents with multiple pages. Great for storing information if your business is particularly mobile.

Audio Recording Your Notes

If you’re looking for a simple way to retain meeting notes but don’t have time to type them, try recording them and saving the recordings. In an age where every phone can record audio and video and usually upload it to the cloud, think about whether this medium may be an easier way for you to go paperless and be mobile.

Vertical Storage Solutions

Generally, vertical storage solutions will help you be more efficient, see documents and files easier, and let you spend more time doing work and less time managing documents and papers.


High School Is a Waste of Time and College Is a Scam…Unless You Have Study Skills 

WASHINGTON (February 18, 2019) – Parents struggling to find ways to ensure their child is armed with the necessary skills to succeed in college have a new resource to avoid any costly academic crises. Published by Rowman & Littlefield, This Book Will Not Be on the Test: The Study Skills Revolution, is part on-the-ground college insider tell-all memoir and part study skills Bible backed by cognitive and educational psychology.

“Considering the amount of money spent on college, it’s criminal that most students never learn how to learn, even though they’re expected to do it like a job,” said author Paul Smith Rivas. “Most kids won’t hit the ground running in college — not because they don’t study, but because they don’t know how to study. I wrote this book to give students the methodologies and practices needed for real success, complete with practical “science of learning” techniques like writing your own explanation of what you’re learning and connecting it to what you already know.

Written by Paul Smith Rivas, the book also alerts parents to a huge problem in American education today – that high school doesn’t prepare students to thrive in college and a jumbled, ad-hoc approach to learning will cost them money and valuable opportunities.


Rivas is the director of SMITH RIVAS Study Skills & Academic Coaching, a Washington, D.C.-based academic accelerator founded in 2014 to help students earn better grades in less time. SMITH RIVAS takes research about how people learn and translates it into practical study skills that students can use to succeed in their classes. Before discovering the value of study skills towards the end of a 20-year career at UC Santa Barbara, Rivas spurned Stanford for a full academic scholarship to UCSB, where he triple-majored in math, sociology, and Spanish while working 10-50 hours per week in the Athletic Communications office.

The book has an astoundingly diverse list of endorsers, including bestselling author on productivity Daniel Pink, PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff, science of learning experts author Ulrich Boser and Dr. Stephen Chew, several former professional athletes, and a graduate of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.

Offering explicit study skills solutions for the academic, financial, and mental health problems caused by this unfortunate reality, This Book Will Not Be on the Testhelps families, teachers, and administrators have more rewarding experiences in schools. Everyone will recognize their college-bound students in several of the chapters.

Request a review copy of This Book Will Not Be on the Test or an interview with the author by contacting Paul Smith Rivas directly at (202) 615-7791,, or Rivas is also on Twitter and Facebook @SmithRivasDC.

Media Contact: Jon-Michael Basile Email:

As Capitol Hill continues to grow and build our storefront retail and service industry, newcomers and long time stores alike must keep in mind the keys to turning a one time customer into a second, third and forever return customer.

My rule as Partner at Realignment Studio is to meet the first time customer where they are.  My training and experience as a yoga teacher of 13 years has taught me to work from a structure that is also inherently flexible (pun intended) and kind.  Once a customer has been in our space for the length of a class (lucky in our industry we get at least 30 mins to shape the first impression) they begin to find the mood and flow, but for those first ten minutes I remember to let them lead the way…not to worry if they’ve arrived two minutes late or walked around studio space with their shoes on.  No biggie.  We’ve made a clean, clear space to be allowing and easeful and hopefully in those small pieces customers will want to return time and time again.  And sales wise we offer the introductory month at a discount because we understand that in the wellness industry customers aren’t often committed after one class, so we offer an easy way to come back.

Entrepreneur magazine asked six entrepreneurs from various industries the question…how do you create repeat purchases?

The bullet point take aways were

  • Treat ‘Em Nice
  • Anticipate Their Needs
  • Know Their History
  • Give Gifts!
  • More Is More
  • Help Them Never Forget

Check out the full article HERE.

You only need one hand to count back the years to the time Waco, Texas was known perhaps for Baylor University and most likely for the 1993 Branch Davidian tragedy.  For me Waco was always the town I veered off the highway for a pitstop during my three hour drive from my home in Arlington to college in Austin.  Waco was un unlikely tourist destination, but in just a few years time Chip & Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s Fixer Upper have changed all that.

Long before the TV show came along the Gaineses decided to stay in small town Waco and make a life.  Entrepreneur magazine highlights the couple’s story in its December 2016 publication.  Read the full article, Entrepreneurs Are Transforming Small Cities by Maggie Gordon.

Washington, D.C. is, of course, not a small city, but notwithstanding the remarkable presence of our U.S. Capitol, our Capitol Hill neighborhood does very much have the warmth of a small town.  And it does us good to remember it this way.

The holidays provide a nice reminder to shop local.  I recall buying all my Christmas gifts locally in the first few years I lived on Capitol Hill as a way of sharing my new home with friends and family in Texas.  Now as I near almost 20 years living in the neighborhood my reasons for shopping and sourcing locally have changed.  I want to see my small town in the city thrive.  To do that we not only have our house on Capitol Hill, but in-source as much as possible within our neighborhood.

I deeply value the life I’ve created in this neighborhood.  My daughter’s public elementary school is strong because other families have invested in staying in the neighborhood as well.  Neighbors have invested through opening small businesses and non-profit organizations that make our lives more enriching and fun.  I often brag that our car sits parked except for our ventures to Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Virginia.

I love the retail and service businesses that we have on Capitol Hill and I want to see more.  In 2017 CHAMPS will brainstorm and advocate for measures that will make more retail & service businesses viable.  Have you ever research the cost of storefront space on Capitol Hill?  It’s high!  And as business expenses continue to rise we must find a solution to keep and attract small business owners.

The Gaineses (with some help from HGTV) saved their business while helping save their city.  Capitol Hill is an established neighborhood.  Waco we are not, but the lessons are useful to us too.

by Betsy Poos