How to Supercharge Your Creativity and Confidence with One Simple Step



I admit it. I was a messy desk person for years. And years.

When I worked as an attorney in private practice, my assistant would regularly come into my office and ask for a document, looking dubiously at the piles and stacks of papers and files on my desk and on the floor.

I would think for a second or two, reach into a pile and voila! I could pull out what she needed pretty quickly.

I was proud of my messy desk and my piles.

Maybe I’ve outgrown whatever psychological need my messy desk fulfilled, but a few months ago (July 30th to be exact), I realized that I dreaded going into my home office to work at my desk. I had been working for a couple of weeks at the kitchen island, telling myself that the new sofa and rug made the great room the best room in the house. Why wouldn’t I want to spend time there?

In reality, I felt completely uninspired sitting at my desk, surrounded by piles of papers, files from completed projects, books, reminders of unfinished projects. And the piles of stuff that just sort of landed on my desk. (Like evil fairies came in and dumped stuff on my desk, right?) I think there may have been some hair products and a missing lip gloss in there. Oh, and an ankle brace. Even my desk accessories seemed to forlornly say, “We’re done.” There was barely space to set a glass of water or a cup of tea, much less to spread out work documents or reference books.

My desk on July 30, 2016.

My desk on July 30, 2016.

The physical clutter was creating mental clutter and stagnation on so many levels.

And I was feeling like a fraud; after all, one of the basic tenets of my design business is “where you work affects how you work.” I’ve written reports about it, and written about how to clean off your desk.

But I wasn’t doing it. Hmmm. There had to be something else going on.

Armed with that curiosity and an intention to make a permanent change, I embarked on a challenge to not only clean off my desk, but keep it clean for 30 days and see if it made a difference.

Well, it’s been more than 75 days and I’m happy to say, my desk is still clean. Turns out, it’s an actual thing. Desktop Zero. Kind of like Inbox Zero, but for your physical workspace.

Desktop Zero: My desk on August 1, 2016.

Desktop Zero: My desk on August 1, 2016.

The difference in my energy, attitude and confidence working with Desktop Zero has been nothing short of extraordinary. I love walking into my home office every day. I feel happy sitting down at my desk. It seems happy, too. My work is more focused and efficient. I have everything I need at my fingertips. I feel inspired. I have physical space to work! I have mental space to think and create. And when I’m getting more done, feeling great about my results, and having new ideas—guess what? These are all confidence builders. Mindset changers.

So that’s the simple thing: Desktop Zero. Not easy, but simple.

If, like me, your desk is a long way from Desktop Zero, I’ll share the steps of my process to get there, in hopes that it inspires you to clean off your work space and keep it clean—and see what might happen for you and your creativity and business!


1. Find some inspiration. For me, getting to that “enough is enough” point was the spark, but finding some very cute and inspiring accessories at Home Goods helped push me over the edge of inspiration. I chose a teal color palette based on a pencil cup (it’s actually a tumbler for the bathroom), an intricate wood box from India and some pastel file folders. I couldn’t put these beauties (above) on a messy desk!

2. Clean off the desk. Literally get everything off the desk surface and any cubbies. I used the method I normally do: trash, action, file (get all the steps here). This time I added bins for “relocate” and “put away”– things that belonged in another room or in the supplies cabinet and “donate,” and then a separate pile for shredding.

3. Look at your pain points. As you’re cleaning off the desk, look for patterns in the piles. What’s in them and how did they get there? For me, I discovered that I tossed receipts and business cards from business trips on the desk (there was no designated place for them) and dropped random items on the desk just because they belonged somewhere in the office. For example, when I would unpack from a trip, anything that is stored in the office like my camera, travel power cords, or books, I would just put them on the desk and not put them away where they belong. Instant clutter! Over time, it built up into overwhelming mountains of stuff. Once you know what you’re dealing with, you can design a solution or process to handle the pain points (more on that in a minute).

4. Clean your desk. Dust, vacuum, polish, wax—whatever is best for your desk. I dusted and applied a nice coat of lemon oil to my teak writing desk.

Desktop Zero

Replace the essentials on your desktop.

5. Replace only what is necessary on a day-to-day basis. I have a rule that a desktop is for creating, inspiring and working. It is not for storage. So my desktop has a lamp, pen cup, computer, a small box for paper clips and such, a notebook, a legal pad and a stand up file organizer for frequently (daily) used files. On the little shelf on top of the desk I keep a few inspiring photos, letter opener and a vase of flowers.

Pretty file folders keep papers tidy and close at hand.

Pretty file folders keep papers tidy and close at hand.

6. Address pain points. This step will depend on what you identified as the major causes of clutter in step 3. In my home office, I dealt with the piles of receipts by creating a folder for them. I created a “home” for the receipts. And more importantly I resolved to put things where they go, rather than dropping them on the desk to put away later. I literally timed how long it took to put back a book, put my tote bag where it belonged, or to put an event folder in its storage box. Each task averaged about 20 seconds. I’m not kidding. Assuming everything already has a home, it takes seconds to put things away rather than stacking or piling them until they become a messy pile that can take an hour of precious time to tackle. Time it yourself!

7. Store active project files off the desk. This was the game changer for me. I struggled with having a “working office” and a clutter-free, presentable office. (My office is just off the foyer of my home and doesn’t have a door.) I’m busy, I have a lot of projects that I work on for different clients at any one given time. Plus, my desk doesn’t have deep drawers. So I took to the floor. On one side of my chair I have a deep file-size basket where I keep binders of reference material, and on the other side I’m using a deep tray to store project files, notebooks, my planner, and other project materials. I can easily pull out what I need as I work on different client projects during the day.

If you have a credenza or storage drawers in your desk, these might be optimal areas for you.

But here’s the most important step and the key to this new clutter-free workspace:

8. Put everything away at night. At the end of the day, no matter what you worked on, put everything away, leaving only the essentials on the desktop.

No, really. At the end of every day put everything away—no matter what. Even if it’s the thing you’ll keep working on first thing in the morning. Put. It. Away. This is the secret! This is Desktop Zero.

Just try it for 30 days. Once you clean off your desk, address your pain points and get into the habit of keeping it clean and clear every day, you’ll see how you feel coming in to your office in the morning. See how it affects your mental clarity, focus, creativity and confidence.

Let me know how this works for you! Comment below or share your story on Facebook. If you’d like to book me for a consultation to get your home office on track, please contact me at


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Gratitude: It’s Just Good for You!

Gift of Gratitude

There is so much in the world to be upset about right now. Truly, deeply, justifiably upset about. And I  believe there is just as much to be thankful for. Truly, deeply, wildly thankful for.

I bet if you stopped and took a nanosecond to think about it, you’d come up with at least 100 things in your life you’re grateful for.

Personally I find that practicing gratitude makes me feel better. Whether it’s finding a penny in a parking lot and lifting my eyes to the sky and saying, “Thank you!” or commenting on someone’s social media post that impacted me, or a thousand other situations large and small–expressing the feeling is a gift to myself and the other person.

Today I’d like to share two resources with you. The first is a worthy cause that is helping children in Guatemala by showcasing some of their precious artwork on a series of thank-you note cards. Check out their Indiegogo campaign at Founder Scott Colby says on the site that his research into the powerful and positive effects of gratitude on us as humans is what convinced him to share this knowledge with the world. Please hop over and pick up one of his packages–you can write your first thank-you note to yourself for doing something good for yourself and others.

The second resource is my new Kindle version of “101 Ways to Say Thank You.” I wrote the book a few years ago and recently decided to share it more widely with the world. I’m happy and humbled to say in the first day on the market, it was the #1 Hot New Release in etiquette books on!

In it you’ll find a well-phrased “thank you” for 18 of life’s occasions and situations (from getting married to getting a ride to the airport) and more than 70 specific gift items. I also included ten common business thank-you letters as a bonus. It’s available this month only for a promotional price of 99 cents. You will never be at a loss for sincere words of appreciation and gratitude again.

Between note cards for a great cause and 101 thank you’s, you’ll be all set to begin your own personal journey of gratitude. Sounds like a great way to start the fall holiday season to me!

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How to Create a Spa Bathroom

Spa Bath FB post
Sunday nights are for relaxing. (At least I think they should be!) What’s better than retiring to your own spa oasis, having a nice long soak in luxurious bubbles, and just enjoying the moment?

If we follow our 5 senses, putting together a pretty good facsimile of a spa experience is quite doable. Here’s a video explaining it all, and I’ve put some notes and resources below the jump. Or, if you’d like the thumbnail, here’s an infographic/cheatsheet.


Two major themes here: decluttering the vanity surfaces, and creating a soothing color scheme.

When it comes to beauty “stuff” — all of our lotions and  potions — I get it. There can be a lot. And if your bathroom is on the small side, storage can be an issue. If your beauty care items have a home, put them back when you use them. That one simple act alone can make a huge difference in reducing visual clutter.

If you find you have a lot of things you use daily that don’t have a permanent residence in your bathroom, get creative with storage. There are a lot of inexpensive but stylish ideas out there. Here are 10 organizing ideas under $10 each.

Next, let’s talk about color. Think about your favorite spa. What colors did you see there? Chances are, the color scheme was designed to inspire a sense of calm. That usually means a monochromatic (one color) scheme in neutrals (white all the way up to taupe) or blues and greens. (For tips on how color affects the human mind and body, check out this infographic.) A monochromatic scheme is less stressful because the brain has less to process, fewer contrasting colors to process.

Whatever your color of choice, bring it in with paint on the walls, the shower curtain, window coverings, rugs, and of course towels. Here’s how I turned my guest bathroom into a more spa-like space for under $100.


Here’s a designer tip: whenever you’re using a monochromatic color scheme, your room needs varying textures to keep the design from being bland and boring.

In your spa bathroom, bring in texture through soft, luxurious towels. Buy the best you can afford, start with just a few pieces and build up your inventory if you have to. Because I see good towels as an investment, I want to know how they’ll perform before I plunk down my money, so I purchase a wash cloth from each brand I’m considering and I use them. Really use them and wash them a few times to see how they do. Then I can purchase more pieces of what I want.

Other ways to bring in different textures: the shower curtain; a soft looped cotton rug underfoot or a gel mat by the tub; floral arrangements; a loofah scrubber or mitts; a natural sea sponge; and/or a luxurious robe. (Seriously, isn’t that the best part of some spa treatments?)

A more ethereal texture: bath products. Yes! The silkiness of bath oil, whipped body butters and bubble bath all count towards the sense of touch. They also bridge the way to the next sense …


(I think I said “smell” in the video, but “scent” sounds nicer.) Of course here is where the core of many spa experiences is found. I love going to my local Aveda spa where they give you a choice of aromas to incorporate into your treatment. So pick up a few of these elements in a variety of scents to cover an array of sensory needs from de-stressing to energizing.

  • Scented candles
  • Reed diffuser
  • Bath products
  • Essential oils

Here’s a quick aromatherapy tutorial to help you decide on your perfect scents.


One year for my birthday I treated myself to the spa at one of the big-name casinos here in Las Vegas that had great reviews online. I was already familiar with other spas in their chain so I had every expectation it would be a great experience. Wow was I under-impressed with the sound environment! I could hear jackhammers, cars, and every other treatment going on since the walls didn’t go all the way up to the ceiling! It was totally distracting.

That’s when I realized the power of sound to transport us to that sacred zen place of bliss. Don’t skimp on this sense! Bring in a CD player, your smartphone or tablet (be sure not to get anything too close to the tub!) and play soothing music. Put together your own playlist, pick up a compilation CD (I always find them at Target), or listening to one of the spa/relaxation stations on your streaming music service.


The final spa element that you can replicate at home is taste. Spas are famous for their flavored detox waters and teas. Make yourself a pitcher of flavored water. Simply slice up some fruit of your choice, add some herbs if you like and place it all in a pitcher with some good, pure water. Chill for at least 1-2 hours to let the flavors infuse. Some traditional combos: cucumber-mint; lemon-mint; and blackberry-apple. Of course there are no rules here — use what you like best!

In a pinch, pick up one of the naturally flavored waters widely available at supermarkets. Make sure there is no added sugar.

So there you have it! The 5 easy steps to make a spa at home. I’d love to hear how you’re incorporating these elements and senses into your spa night routine. Please leave a comment over on the Facebook page and be sure to follow my master bathroom board on Pinterest.

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Trying on a Capsule Wardrobe


I’ve been looking for ways to simplify life, to free up some time and energy so I can pursue everything that I want in life.

This past month it was a 30-day detox and clean eating program that has revolutionized how I think about food.

Starting tomorrow, my monthly quest/experiment will be trying on a capsule wardrobe. For anyone unfamiliar with this concept, let me explain just a bit.

I was first introduced to the concept of a capsule wardrobe last holiday season while reading Jennifer L. Scott’s lovely book, Lessons from Madame Chic. Jennifer uses a ten-piece wardrobe each season. That’s it! Ten pieces! How could this be, I thought? Doesn’t she like clothes?

Well, yes, she does — and her goal for all us is creating a wardrobe we love to wear. The pieces she chooses are perfectly her, for her style, and they are impeccable. Definitely a case of quality over quantity. I should point out, those ten pieces are the core wardrobe and do not include outerwear, occasionwear, shoes, accessories, or layering tees and tanks. Whew! Thank goodness! (Here’s a video of her explaining her capsule theory.)

I’ve done a bit more research on this idea of capsule wardrobe, and I’ve learned that lots of theories are out there. Two blogs that I found particularly instructive and inspiring are Pinch of Yum (easy step-by-step for beginners like me) and Un-fancy (who is credited with popularizing the concept of a capsule wardrobe). Each offers a great printable download to map out your capsule.

Now, I love clothes and always have. I remember what I was wearing on my first plane ride to Orlando when I was 4 years old. (I felt very fancy with my mom’s magenta and purple scarf around my neck.) I had a pink boucle sheath dress with a matching coat with white and brass anchor buttons for Easter when I was 8. One my favorite shopping memories is buying my first designer cocktail dress with my dad at Marshall Field’s department store.

So the idea of having less than my full closet at my disposal for an entire month much less a whole season seemed challenging. Until I really started looking and seeing what I actually wear. The outfits I go to again and again. What colors are really best for me. What pieces fit the best and make me feel fantastic. Ahhhhh. I see.

Using the worksheets from Pinch of Yum and Un-fancy, I fashioned (pun intended) my own version of a capsule wardrobe that fits my life. These pieces are my “going out of the house” outfits for work at my law job, coffee with a friend, dinner, brunch, the movies, etc.

My Capsule Wardrobe – Fall 2016

Dresses – 3

Bottoms – 6

  • 2 dress pants
  • 2 jeans
  • 1 leggings
  • 1 skirt

Blouses – 5

Sweaters – 5

Jackets – 4

Tees, tanks & camis – 15

Shoes – 5

  • 1 pair leopard print flats
  • 1 pair black flats
  • 1 pair nude wedges
  • 1 pair black pumps
  • 1 pair strappy coral sandals

Scarves -2

Overcoat – 1

Not included here are “stay at home” leisure or work clothes (working in the yard, cleaning house) or sleepwear. I do think including shoes is a good idea for me. What fits, works with all the outfits and provides enough support for a busy day. I can quickly choose, grab and go!

I admit 15 tees, tanks and camis seems a bit much, but I’ve included a long sleeve, short sleeve, tank and cami in teal, orange, black and white/ivory to go through the entire season. Living in Las Vegas, it can be in 100+ degrees well into September and I may not transition to long sleeve layers until sometime in October. (I may need to add a turtleneck for Thanksgiving in Chicago and trade my trench coat for a wool winter coat as well.)

Should be interesting!

For more inspiration, check out my Pinterest board. What are your go-to pieces? Do you think a capsule wardrobe would work for your life?

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