Susan Fay West, Certified Organizer Coach 
Life’s big changes. We all get overwhelmed sometimes.

  • You’re stuck and want to move forward but how?
  • Adult ADHD diagnosis and ... now what?
  • Want more time but you’re not sure where the problem is?
  • Tired of running in circles?
  • Change, time management, organization and transitions work is our focus.

    Build on what you already know about yourself and collaborate with me – a coach, professional organizer, teacher and change-lover.

    Discover new ways to:

  • organize your life,
  • deal with these changes and move on,
  • in ways that make sense to you and how you’re wired.
  • Curious? Click Here to Learn More about My Coaching Services.

    Organize for a Fresh Start - organizing self-help book

    "West has written on a topic dear to my heart, getting organized to cope with and embrace change and transitions. Organize for a Fresh Start is a great roadmap."
    Judith Kolberg, Author
    Conquering Chronic Disorganization

    When You’ll Want to Rethink Your Organizational Strategies

    July 20th, 2014

    There are certain times when you’ll want to rethink how you’re managing your life, time and your stuff. This article will give you a list of when this is worth paying attention to, why it matters and what to think about.

    What usually happens is that we end up in the middle of something and suddenly, we realize:

    “Yikes. The house is a mess. Honestly, how did this happen?”

    “My time is completely out of control.

    But I’m using the same systems I always have.”


    Think about a Red Door

    In Feng Shui,the color red brings forth prosperity and abundance. When something in the list below happens in your life, imagine the red door.

    Imagine the red door stops you for a moment, long enough to think about what you can do to manage life a little differently. And then when you’ve thought about that, walk through the door with an abundance of gifts to help you through whatever the big changes are.


    With these changes in life, you’ll need to do some shifting to bring things back on a more even keel. The first step is to acknowledge that these changes are happening.

    So, let the door stop you long enough to consider changes and then life on the other side of the door will be far easier.

    When to Pause & What to Do

    • Big life changes or events cause chaos, whether in your things, thoughts or time. Something big and likely emotional has happened, a change you made or one that was foisted upon you. Either way, now you have something new to contend with and integrate into your life. (Divorce, death, caregiving, marriage, children and so on.)
    • You have guests: This can be friends or family in town for a few days or a longer visit. A temporary change, but think about it: your schedule will need to change; you’ll need to make space for people; you’ll need to be aware of their ‘stuff’ and where it shows up in your common living spaces; they will need things/time from you.
    • The college-aged student or graduate returns home: You’ve lived the whole school year on your own, as has your student. Both of you more independent than when you last lived under the same roof.
    • You take on new responsibilities in your business or at work: There’s a ripple effect here. You’ll need to get organized for this new responsibility. But also realize that by adding a role, you don’t add extra hours to your days, so something has to give. What could you cut back on, if not stop doing? How will you reorganize your days to accommodate the new role? If you’ve stepped up into a management role, your involvement in tactics will need to drop, as you take on a bigger picture perspective. What do you need to accomplish this smoothly?
    • You get a new physical diagnosis: You’ll want to think about how the diagnosis may or has impacted your energy. Do you need to rearrange things at home/work to reduce the impact on your energy levels, making things easier to do? Do you need to reorganize meal planning? Reconsider how much you can fit into your days? What your morning routine looks like? If you have a diagnosis such as lyme or MS, you’ll have days when your energy levels will be unpredictable: always have a plan A and a plan B for your days.
    • You get a new mental health diagnosis: As with a physical issue, here, too, you’ll need to work on different ways to handle this difference you’re now aware of. What does it mean for how you organize your days? Keep track of things to do? Are there more appointments (dr.’s, support groups, etc.) to add to your calendar? Are there accommodations you need to make at work? And how will you work through accepting that this is part of you and both manage it and manage around it.
    • Fairly regular seasonal changes: The seasons, back-to-school, summertime starts or ends, vacations. Any of these transitions are a great time to stop and pause at your red front door. Some of us even have trouble transitioning into Mondays from the weekend. Pause, take your time and do something different on Mondays.

    Why This Matters

    • Simply pausing to acknowledge that something is different is BIG. This will help you stop and make some changes, so that the life event can be handled more easily and with less stress.
    • Ignore this and things pile up: time wise, things, and yes, clutter in your thoughts and psyche.
    • But also don’t hang on so tightly to how you have “always done things” that this resistance creates stress for you. Let go a little bit.
    • Asking for what you need gives you a sense of more control over a time of change. Consider what you need that’s most important to your having a day you’ll feel good about by the end of the day (sleep, quiet time, meal times, together time, etc.).
    • Dealing with people is more important than dealing with our things. If someone needed more than your usual emotional and psychological energy,  give yourself guilt-free permission to take the necessary time to  reset your home or otherwise get back on track.
    • See if you can learn something from this time to apply to the next big life event, too. More control and sanity through learning.
    • Any of these changes adds more to your life. And stress. So rely more heavily than you might on your “external memory.” (Calendar, lists, notes, and reminders.) Memory seems to be the thing that suffers a lot under stress.


    Stop. Pause at the red door of prosperity and abundance. Figure out your next steps. And then walk on through that door, organizational strategies reset and ready to roll with whatever comes your way!





    p.s. Please share this article if you know someone who is feeling overwhelmed, or invite them to talk with me about some next steps.



    What Did You Miss? Or Did You?

    July 16th, 2014

    Did you miss any? Or maybe you’d prefer to read the articles all at once?  Here’s a roundup of newsletter articles sent so far during 2014, with a quick summary for each, and a link to read more if that topic interests you. Cllick here if you’re not on the newsletter list and would like to be.

    Last edition:

    6/17/2014 – What Do You Need to “Get Back to?”

    Nelson Mandela said: “The greatest glory in living lies in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

    Because if we never fell, then life would be perfect. WE would be perfect. “Too smooth” sailing, even though some days, it feels as if nothing goes smoothly, not one minute of it.

    But sometimes it feels like it’s all too much. We are stuck and don’t know or can’t find what we need to get back to it, back on track, and practicing what we know has worked for us before.

    It’s not usually simply a practical issue. Our emotions, self-esteem, and frustrations throw themselves into the mix, too. BUT the practical strategies do help build a track record of small wins, which strengthen the “muscles” of self-esteem, confidence, and hope.

    So, where last month’s article, “When Everything Feels Like a Priority,” was about what to do when everything seems to need to get done right now …  this month, I have strategies for when it feels as if things are sliding backwards, and you need to get back on track. Try just one strategy and see how it works for you.  I dare you.  In the kindest possible way. Read the newsletter here.


    And chronologically from the beginning of this year:

    01/03/2014 – Be That Person
    Would you like to increase your chances of achieving your goals this year? What could be different this time around? You’ve always had commitment. You’ve started out well. You felt you were being realistic. And then, well, by the end of the year, you hadn’t met the goal.  Flummoxed, floundering and feeling like you’d failed. Sigh.There are reasons all along the way for what might have happened, but today, I’ll focus on creating the goal, and I believe you’ll read some new ideas here. If we miss creating the “right” goal, well, a lot of the rest won’t matter.  So here we go. Suggestions for creating a goal that will work for you…  Be That Person (click to read on)


    02/11/2014 – Lost: Commitment to Goals. If found, please contact

    Today’s topic? Commitment.   Sometimes, we procrastinate getting started on a goal or a project or even a relationship.

    One reason can be that we are less committed than we think we are.  We say we are committed to the goal. But what we feel or think subconsciously is out of sync and really not on board with the goal. What to do?

    What questions can you ask yourself to know whether you really are committed to the goal? Because if the commitment’s not there, that’s going to be a problem when things get difficult or you need to push out of your comfort zone….Lost: Commitment to Goals. If found, please contact



    03/25/2014 – The Village You Choose

    In “The Village You Choose,” you’ll read about life preservers.  When you have a looming and large new challenge or life change, these people, these life preservers, will support you, educate and encourage you as you take steps into your next chapter.

    These friends, colleagues and professionals are those who respect you and believe in you, perhaps more than you believe in yourself, at that time of change. They do not step in and save you. They buoy you up when you need it and for as long as you do…. The Village You Choose



    05/06/2014 – When Everything Feels Like a Priority

    We’ve just now arrived at springtime here in New Hampshire, after what we are all calling one of the very longest winters we’ve had.  It’s all beautiful, these changing seasons, but boy, this winter we all felt closeted, stuck, claustrophobic … until finally, some warmer weather arrived to begin the big snow melt.

    So we burst out of winter and into springtime and quickly into school vacations.  LOTS of change and transitions and “stuff to do.”

    It’s as if the gates came up on all of us and we raced out of the gates. And then we sprinted too fast and tired, got overwhelmed, and are trying to swing back.

    So, where last month’s article was about working with people who work with you to assist your home or work life, this month’s article is about how to help yourself when you’re feeling like you have too much on your plate, and “Everything is a Priority.”   When Everything Feels Like a Priority
    To our imperfect lives …


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    Thanks for you attention.

    Struggling to Get Motivated? 3 Ways to Get Moving.

    July 9th, 2014

    Oh, the lazy hazy days of summer. But you want more and you can’t quite get jazzed about much.


    I’m hearing: “I can’t get motivated about work, even though I love my business!”

    “I have family coming to stay and I cannot get myself motivated to pull the house together.”

    “I want to get out after work and take advantage of the summer but I just forget all my great ideas once work is over!”

    Try one of these.

    The “Pull” strategy.

    The “Dominoes” strategy.

    The “Get Social” strategy.


    “Pull” Yourself  Instead of Pushing

    I bought a kayak when I first moved to my lake. In my early years here, I kayaked a lot.

    But in the past few years, I’ve sort of forgotten what it feels like to be out there. I don’t want to kayak when nobody’s home for safety reasons, nor during the day because I work for myself and protect those hours. So now it feels complicated (or at least not easy) to figure out when to go.

    At the end of my workday, I open the door to leave and here’s what I see.

    That’s my kayak oar on the right. My “pull” strategy sits there in full view. A visual reminder to take a kayak ride before or after dinner.


    “Dominoes:” What’s the Red Domino for You?

    The dominoes strategy is about finding the one first task that will get you engaged and easily let you kick off a stream of other tasks.

    Find the red domino for yourself and the rest will fall into place.

    In the morning, take care of you, before the rest of the household. The rest will follow.

    With house cleaning, sit with quiet time and a glass of lemonade first. Or meditate.  (Set a timer to pull yourself out.)

    At work, what do you love to do? If you love to write, draft your newsletter article, and then move onto the rest of your tasks.

    What’s your red domino?



    “Get Social”

    Sometimes, it’s people energy we need.

    You may need to know that what you’re doing at home or at work matters.

    Or you simply find more energy some days from connecting with people.

    At work, call a colleague for a networking meeting over coffee. Meet in person with someone you’d planned to have a phone call with. Brainstorm a project with your coach in between your regular meetings.

    At home, invite friends over for a simple lemonade lull in the afternoon, or for a light supper or ice cream. Work on the house afterwards. Or talk to a friend as you each hold each other accountable for reorganizing that room you don’t really want to tackle on your own. Or hire an organizer or coach for new strategies and fresh perspectives you may not have thought of or to get you from point A to point B faster.


    Three strategies. All quite different.

    Which of these strategies might be worth experimenting with?

    Get yourself back on track and turn the lazy, hazy days of summer into the summer you really want to have.





    Still stumped? Not quite sure how these strategies might apply to the thing you’re wrestling with? Organize your thoughts, things or time.

    If you have the opposite issue (too much going on), take a look at my article written with Carol Williams of the Design Your Days duo in the summertime issue of Front Burner Mama.

    It’s an online magazine for moms to keep themselves on the front burner of life.

    “Have the Summer You Really Want: 5 Strategies to Tame the Chaos.” Subscribe and gain access to the free magazine, filled with strategies, resources and more. We were pleased to be asked to write for Front Burner Mama again!

    “How” Do I Get Started?

    July 1st, 2014

    In this near-last of the series about designing your days, we have two ”how” strategies to share with you:

    It’s about the How…How will I do it? How will I move forward with my work?

    Pull up a chair, have a seat and either listen to our podcast here …  HOW – June 2014 Number 3 (5-7 minutes) … or read highlights below.


    A strategy from Sue: Collaboration is a necessary “HOW” strategy that works well for some people on certain tasks: a couple of examples explain it.

    For one of my clients, when he has a new project or something he knows is going to be difficult to get started on,  his “ how” strategy relates to his natural strength of connecting with people.

    As we talked about what makes him good at what he does and where he gets his energy from, he realized that collaboration and accountability partners would work well for him. They had in the past and they could again.

    Plus, the verbal processing aloud helps to organize his thoughts and so gives him greater clarity Interacting with someone else increases his engagement for the project, too.

    Another client loves the first meeting with a prospective new client, but struggles to write the proposal. Boring follow up details, when she feels as if the deal is done.

    She re-energizes by immediately calling into the office after the meeting to talk about it with her business partner. Or, plan B is to see and talk with her partner when she returns to the office. She talks about the meeting and effectively outlines aloud how she’ll tackle the proposal! This “how strategy” makes it far easier and energizing to sit down and write the proposal.


    From Carol: For this time, I share the strategy of the Sprint.

    Athletes know that interval training will get them better results than a more constant routine. When we “break up” our routine, our bodies get a little confused, have to work overtime (burning more calories for an athlete).

    In the same vein, our minds get accustomed to the “same old.”  When we break up a big project into SPRINTS, we create excitement, enthusiasm, novelty and focus…and get more done, more quickly and efficiently. And…we have more fun!

    So, try this: Set your timer for 30 to 45 minutes. Work intensely on your project. Then stop. During this time, do not answer email, your phone, or any other distraction that is not life threatening. Then, allow yourself a 15 minute “cool off” or “rest” period to get a refreshing drink, take a walk, return a call or a message.

    Repeat the interval strategy as often as you can.

    Our bodies and minds work very well like this.


    And on that note…  I’m a believer in a life so complicated and busy these days, we all at some stages need “life preservers,” people and/or strategies that keep us afloat. They don’t rescue us. They collaborate – whether it is a timer supporting you or a person. Both preserve what is important to you, once you figure that out.  If you’re on my  newsletter list, you might remember the article “It Takes a Village.”


    If you’ve never tried either of these strategies, why not start today?

    What are your natural strengths and how can you use them to get started when you’re procrastinating, or to stick with it, or finish it up.






    Sign up for the newsletter. Call for a 1/2 hour introductory, “how it works/will we work together well” call at 603.554.1948 or Or share our articles on your social media sites.


    Which Link in This Productivity Chain(R) Are You Best at?

    June 25th, 2014

    Isn’t managing your time really about managing your life? Feeling and being productive in ways that are important to you, at work and at home?

    People are  often perplexed at why it is so difficult to get the “most” from their days.  We wonder if we measure up to the strategies in articles about how to best manage our time.

    We move fast and don’t stop to think about how complicated this issue is (Well, I do !)…. so we don’t really solve what’s not working for us.


    I want to share with you  an intriguing, insightful and thought-provoking framework to figure out your own challenges (and solutions). The Productivity Chain (R) is from a book written by a coaching/organizing colleague.

    Casey Moore’s “Stop Organizing: Start Producing”  is not just about the practical elements. The Productivity Chain(R) illustrates how multi faceted this productivity, time, emotional, logical problem is, and gives many case studies on making things work better and more productively, using the framework.


    From Casey: “The Productivity Chain actually frees you from wasting your time trying to ‘fix’ what isn’t broken by identifying your weak links so you target only them. Your weaker links do not need to become as strong as all the others. They just need to be strong enough so that they don’t destabilize your strengths. And so that they don’t crack under pressure, rupturing your entire Chain. Identify what makes your strengths these strong chain links and translate this to your weaker links. The Chain empowers you by offering a new perspective.” ~ pages 6, 33, 34.

    Notice how few links are about ”organization” of our emails, papers, desk or files?

    1. Boundary-setting;
    2. Communications/relationships;
    3. Decision-making;
    4. Delegation;
    5. Drive;
    6. Goal-setting/prioritization;
    7. Health;
    8. Organization of objects/data;
    9. Planning;
    10. Reinvention;
    11. Resources;
    12. Task/project management.

    Not  many. And that’s part of the point.


    An example: “Scheduling appointments or milestones creates boundary lines on your calendar. Boundary setting enables you to enforce those plans by not letting other activities trespass onto them.”~ page 123.


    What I appreciate about this approach

    • It’s clearer and more specific, as a roadmap would be.
    • It’s the connections between and among the links, not just the links, which are important.
    • It signifies the ebb and flow of our productivity as life’s changes throw us curveballs.
    • It includes the internal work we need to do, plus the external organizational parts.
    • It helps you target or diagnose where your focus needs to move to first.
    • It beautifully illustrates the complexity of productivity, whether in your life or work.


    Step one is a system that works to capture what is important to you. Here’s what Casey uses currently:

    For business:

    • Outlook 2013 and MS Exchange: for emails, calendar, urgent tasks.
    • Nozbe: projects, tasks – the bigger picture.
    • Handwritten list: for personal tasks that need to be completed during work hours.
    • Circa notebook: for notes.
    • DropBox: digital files.
    • Index cards: in the car for errand reminders.

    For personal lifenotice the simplicity:

    • Outlook 2014: for emails, calendar.
    • Circa notebook: for projects and task.
    • Index cards: in the car for errand reminders.


    So, as Casey advises: “Stop saying ‘organized’ when you mean ‘productive.’ Stop trying to get more organized if you’re organized enough. “







    What are your strengths? How productive are you feeling, in your life and in your work?

    Contact me today to schedule your no charge “is it a good fit” introductory call or in person meeting to figure out your own solutions. or 603.554.1948

    Or stay in touch via our newsletter.