Jun 072012

While all of Regina’s books have been first-rate, this latest one, “The 8 Minute Organizer”, may be the most useful one yet. Because I’m so naturally disorganized myself, I’m something of a junkie for books and systems to bring some kind of order to my world. Regina’s other books have been very helpful for that – giving me organizational tasks that I can schedule throughout the year on my way to perfect neatness. But I’ve never seemed to accomplish them all. Some projects are just a bit large and intimidating.

The genius of this book is that it has broken down organizational tasks into 8 minute sprints – units of work short enough that they don’t scare me and that I have no excuse not to incorporate into my day. Unlike previous books that grouped organizational tasks by time of year – this one is organized by the area of your home. Pick the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen or your files – and there’s a chapter full of eight-minute mini-tasks focused around that area. You can pick the room most in need of attention. Or, as Regina suggests, you can pick one that’s not quite as intimidating and build up your skills.

the eight minute organizer

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There are several things I especially like about Regina’s approach. First of all, she’s called the “Zen Organizer” for a reason. There’s a definite undercurrent of calm, meditative philosophy in her books. You aren’t just organizing so that you can cram more stuff into your life. You are trying to achieve a healthy balance and a strong and calm mental and physical foundation for peace and tranquility. She even has advice on diet, exercise and meditation. You’re not just bringing order to your stuff. You’re bringing order to your life.

Another thing that’s a personal preference of mine is that I don’t like to be given TOO many choices in how to approach something. Or if there are choices, I want to be pointed at a “preferred” option. If I’m given the opportunity, I can tend to get lost in choosing the perfect organizational tools and systems instead of actually organizing. Regina tends to just tell you what to do, and I like that. Sure there are choices, but she’ll often indicate her personal preference, so I can just follow the clear instructions and get right down to business.

If you’ve had trouble getting started in organizing because your life is just too chaotic, this may be a perfect book for you.


Feb 022010

One Year to an Organized Work Life by Regina Leeds. I had previously reviewed two other books by Regina Leeds (the “Zen” Organizer) . Those were One Year to an Organized Life and One Year to an Organized Financial Life. Since both were excellent, I was really looking forward to the middle book in the series, dedicated to organizing your work life. After all, I spend a lot of time at work, and the consequences of being disorganize at work can be even more serious than falling to pieces at home.

I was not disappointed. This is a wonderful book on workplace organization – but even more, on integrating your work life and your personal life seamlessly. As with her other “one-year” books, Regina takes what could be a daunting subject and makes it manageable by breaking it down into easy weekly goals for a one-year gradual makeover. Follow the program and you end up with a complete organizational makeover for your work life. You can pick up the book and start the program at any time, as most of the assignments are not prerequisites of each other.

Each month also includes a work “habit of the month” and a HOME “habit of the month”. What’s really amazing is the range of topics covered in this book. It’s not just another book on time management and paperwork. Sure, there are excellent chapters on those topics, but there are also a lot of topics that you don’t often see discussed. How to pack for a business trip. How to prepare your office to run smoothly while you’re on vacation. How to integrate your holiday plans with your work responsibilities. How to organize your computer, laptop and other virtual environments.

As usual, Regina devotes considerable time not simply to the mechanics of organizing, but to your mental attitudes. How to set goals, understand and overcome procrastination, and how to balance your family and work responsibilities.  Even how to plan your vacation. She never forgets that the purpose of organization is not simply for it’s own sake, but to make our lives better. She also keeps an eye out for the particular needs of the working woman, which is a topic where some other books fall short.

You can get excellent specialized books in any of the several areas Regina covers in this book – from goal setting to filing and paperwork. But for a well-constructed plan to overhaul every aspect of your work organization, it’s hard to beat this book. Give Regina a year and she’ll make your work life sparkle.

Jan 032010

A new favorite on my list of organizational gurus, Regina Leeds is known as the “Zen Organizer”. She explains in her books that what she is trying to bring to her readers is the feeling of peace, calm and clean that she experienced in her own (well-organized) childhood home. She believes that organization isn’t simply done for it’s own sake. “Newly organized areas of my clients’ homes quite literally felt different than they had before we began our work of transforming the space.” In describing this change of atmosphere, she expressed it as “Zen Organizing”.

Here at PathsToKnowledge, of course, we don’t limit our Zen to organization. But its very refreshing to read an organizer who understands that the primary purpose of organization is to gain an inner sense of peace that you simply can’t have if you’re life is constantly controlled and interrupted by the chaotic situations in which you try to live and work.

Regina’s most recent books are a trio based on the excellent model of breaking down our efforts to organize into a year of simply weekly tasks. To begin with general organization, Regina wrote One Year to an Organized Life, which I’ve reviewed previously. Extending this method specifically into the work environment, she next produced One Year to an Organized Work Life – which I still need to read, and finally in 2010 came out with One Year to an Organized Financial Life – saving what is for me the hardest topic for last.

Together, this trio of books takes a direct, hand-held approach to guiding you through the process of acquiring all the habits and values that will make you a more peaceful, calm, happy and (of course) organized person.

In addition to writing, Regina seems to be a very active professional organizer, with seminars, workshops and consulting appointments in addition to serving individual clients. She was named “Best Organizer in LA” by Los Angeles Magazine, and even has a former career in acting – which no doubt helps when getting her points across in seminars.

Check out her products on the Amazon list, and see our more detailed reviews on the menu at left.

Jan 032010

Just released in 2010, One Year to an Organized Financial Life is the latest installment from Regina Leeds, the “Zen Organizer”.  I’ve previously reviewed her book “One Year to an Organized Life” and found it a refreshing change in the field of organization. This book continues a winning pattern and expands it to an area where I (and many others) especially need some serious help – our finances.

Overhauling any aspect of our lives can be an intimidating. There are so many things we could do differently. So many small and large habits that need changing.  Regina approaches this problem by having us concentrate on only one issue at a time, one per week, over the period of a year. Every month she introduces one key habit for the month, one helpful tool for the month, and then introduces one change or habit each week, in nice bite-sized pieces. Follow through on these easily manageable assignments, and in one year, ta-dah! you’re financially organized. Or at least in a lot better shape than when you started.

One of the beauties of this approach is that you can pick up the book any time during the year and start the program. You don’t need to start in January (although January would make a great time to start). Some of the months deal with items specific to that time of the year. for example, in November Regina deals with gift-giving, holiday spending and organizing holiday parties and get-togethers economically. The fact that I tend to start thinking about these things in December instead of November is an indication of just how much help I need.

The chapters and assignments give some really exceptional ideas for spending less money, making more money, saving for the future and protecting yourself from life’s uncertainties. Regina covers insurance (of all kinds), investments, retirement, college planning, budgeting, entertainment, and the aforementioned holiday spending.  In this book, she has a certified financial advisor (Russell Wild) along to supplement her organizational knowledge with expert financial knowledge about such things as various kinds of tax-deferred savings accounts and tax-loss harvesting (if you don’t know what that is… you need this book).

When I open up a book on financial organization, I generally expect to hear that I should spend less, save more and make spartan cuts in my lifestyle. Perhaps that’s why I don’t generally like such books. The ideas in this book, however, are surprisingly fresh. I am getting a lot more new information out of it than I expected.  And, like her previous book, Regina doesn’t focus exclusively on the mechanics of organization, but also explores and rehabilitates your feelings about financial issues, through such tools as journaling tasks. The goal, after all, of “Zen Organizing” is a feeling of peace and security – not organization for its own sake.

So, if you feel your financial life needs some serious help (we know who we are), this is a gentle program that takes you by the hand and leads you through a year of easy steps to feeling much much better about your economic situation. There are no theories without simple, practical steps. Take the first step and give the book a try.

Nov 242009

calendar I had heard good things about Regina Leeds as an organizer, and decided to read her book One Year to an Organized Life. Call me sexist, but for some reason I haven’t gotten a lot out of organizational books by women. Perhaps it’s just the books I’ve picked, but they seem to focus on a more detailed level than I want. Of course, you could argue that it is just this level of detail that I most need.

But Regina’s book is a bit different. This isn’t simply a book of abstract principles or isolated hints. It’s a complete program for overhauling every aspect of your life over the course of a year. You can start the program at any time, because she has arranged completely independent sets of tasks, projects and experiments for each month (actually, for every WEEK of every month of the year). And these tasks include not only lists of areas of your life to organize (with excellent suggestions) but also such projects as journaling and analysis of your habits.

It’s the perfect book for someone who has no idea where to begin with organization and wants a complete step-by-step program. And since it’s arranged by the year, it would make an excellent Christmas gift for someone who wants to start the year off right. Regina will take you through getting your luggage in order, finding the right address book, decorating for the holidays and buying gifts – and virtually every organizational aspect of your life.

Regina is known as the “Zen Organizer”. Compared to the minimalism of someone like Steve Babauta, I think using the word “Zen” in connection with such a detailed organizational system might seem a bit misplaced – but I understand what’s intended. Regina’s book is just as concerned with the mental aspects of organizing, and the enjoyment of additional free time as it is with little tricks for conquering clutter.

Overall, an excellently done book – especially for someone who needs a complete organizational makeover.

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