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

    “Yeah. I Can Do That.”

    April 1st, 2015

    As a small business owner, I look for a couple of events a year which are inspirational.  What I look for is people to look up to. People who have been on a similar path in some way. I might be looking for inspiration, new ideas, new perspectives or validation of what I may already know.

    The (very slow) ending of Winter here in the Northeast U.S. seemed like an a propos time to attend a panel discussion with about a dozen of New Hampshire’s leading women in business.  Some are with large companies (Anthem as one example), some a bit smaller (McLean Publishing, Labelle Winery) and some non profits (Families in Transition). This roundtable was hosted by the Center for Women’s Business Advancement.

    “What you would tell your 21 year old self” was the last question and most inspiring. Selected answers are shared below.

    Waiting to go onstage.

    Waiting to go onstage.


    These women had gathered in January in a private session, and generously agreed to this second panel session for the public, to share much of the January discussions and more.

    I can’t even imagine how the scheduling process went; when you read who was in attendance, you’ll see why I say that.  Demographics in the printed program showed that most are in the age range of 44-54; most are married; typically two adult children in the family.

    • Linda Johnson, Moderator, McLane Law Firm;
    • Susan de Mari, McLane Law Firm;
    • Lisa Guertin, President, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield NH;
    • Linda Fanaras, President, Millennium Integrated Marketing;
    • Amy LaBelle, Owner and Winemaker, LaBelle Winery;
    • Cathy Schmidt, Executive Director and CEO, McLane Law Firm;
    • Margaret Franckhauser, CEO, Central NH VNA & Hospice;
    • Dianne Mercier, President, People’s United Bank;
    • Tiffany Eddy, Principal, FocusFirst Communications;
    • Betsy Gardella, President and CEO, NHPR;
    • JerriAnne Boggis, Director, Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail;
    • Maureen Beauregard, President, Families in Transition;
    • MaryAnn Manoogian, CWBA;
    • Sharron McCarthy, McLean Communications.

    Advice for Your 21 Year Old Self

    There was so much they shared with us about the path to their current roles, that it would take a book.

    “What advice would you give your 21 year old self.” This question – or their answers really – resonated with me, so I’ll share some comments here.

    Whether you are a small business owner, working for someone else, working for your home and family, I’m going to suggest that you:

    • think about each piece of advice and whether it speaks to you;
    • and ask how you are doing, in your life, with that advice. Have you improved along your path? Where do you want to go?

    I should mention that I would love to attribute each comment to the appropriate panelist, but I didn’t catch them all. Essentially, answers started from the left side of the stage and went to the right!

    Panelists larger photo


    1. I say “no” more than I say “yes.” (Lisa Guertin)
    2. When you have other things in your life, balance is easier than only with work. (Sharron McCarthy)
    3. “Yeah, I can do that.” (Amy Labelle and others. On how they grew their skills and their career, when presented with a project or opportunity. Even if she wasn’t sure she could do it, if it was ‘close enough,’ she tried and assumed she would figure it out.)
    4. Know who you are. Inside.
    5. Passion or perseverance. Yes, both. (What does a business owner/leader need most?)
    6. Keeping balance – During family time, we do not allow any technology or devices as a way to stay connected and pay attention to each other. (Tiffany Eddy)
    7. Mentors along the way? Yes. Only women? No; could be either a woman or a man.
    8. Essential skills to help you grow: Be curious. Hire smarter people than you. Listen. (Maureen Beauregard)
    9. Be brave. Find your voice.
    10. Save your money…it’s empowering and it means you decide early on how you define success. (Amy)
    11. Don’t worry about people liking you. Likeability is secondary. Own your great work.
    12. Don’t sell yourself short; everyone is a mix of confidence and worries.
    13. Put yourself first versus always taking care of everyone else.
    14. Figure out what might be transformational for you… how can you change your world view (travel, move around to different places, etc.) – Betsy Gardella
    15. Don’t compare yourself to your friends.
    16. Life is not linear. You can make lots of changes. Along the way, you learn who you are.
    17. Find something you love and fits you and become an expert at that.
    18. Own your setbacks and don’t let them own you.
    19. Listen to yourself. Only you know what you can do.
    20. Take the time to know who you are. Don’t be afraid of that growth.
    21. Don’t listen if they say you can’t.


    Which piece of advice might you consider and think about for yourself? Where would you start? How could you organize your life around what is most important to you?








    Next newsletter out soon! “Wrestling with Change” is the lead article, with a few pieces of advice on how to move through it. Also check out our ADHD Awareness section in the newsletter. You can sign up here.

    Self-Care, Someday

    March 11th, 2015

    “Self-care” is swirling around in my head and “retirement” is swirling around along with it. (Not mine!)Dale Chihuly installation)

    My brain makes connections easily; once you hear the connection I made, I hope it’ll make sense and be useful for you.

    Self-care and retirement. What’s the connection? 

    Short answer: Creating a life of meaning.

    Why swirling now?

    When I work with people “rightsizing” their treasures and things for a move to a retirement community,  I hear people in their 70’s and sometimes 80’s sharing stories and memories of amazing lives already lived. (And I am always surprised when someone says he/she is in her 80’s!)  These are people planning ahead, moving into the independent side of a retirement community, looking forward to yet another fulfilling chapter in life.

    Curiosity and excitement, along with bittersweet memories. Talents and skills turned into fascinating hobbies or useful careers or generous volunteerism. They tell stories about the emotions that each treasure has had in one’s life and the most important rise to the top through our discussions. This is an important part of the process of moving on.

    I also have several business clients who tell me they are in their early 70’s, and have recently started a business. (And I am always surprised when someone says he/she is in her 70’s,too!)

    They all share this insightful, powerful perspective of looking back on life as also they look forward.

    From these people, I rarely hear “Someday, I will,” when there is that tone of resignation, the person thinking that he/she probably really never will … The tone of voice and emotion being key.

    And that is where self-care comes in.

    I first heard the term in coaching, and it’s not part ofeveryday lexicon. Self-care is essentially taking care of you, your soul, mind, body and spirit.

    So then, you need to know: What is your self-care about?  What gives you energy?

    And at the same time, what is it all for? Why does it matter? What is it that you need time for, so you are not waiting for “someday.”

    It is what Tony Robbins suggests: What gives your life meaning?

    Charlie Rose asked Tony Robbins about why people in their 60’s and 70’s “still” want Tony’s life and business coaching. Tony said this  (and you can hear the full interview here):

    “They are clear on their values. Each is a sage at this point in life.

    He/she knows what life has really been about. They are interested now in a life of meaning.”

    What’s the answer?

    Maybe it’s the growth mindset. (Carol Dweck interview at that link.) Maybe optimism and positivity. Resilience, appreciation, gratitude, movement.

    And read what 52 year old Google CFO said in his resignation letter recently:

    We no longer work until 65 and then completely retire. Two clients told me this week that when the retirement age was set at 65,  our life expectancy was only 66 1/2 ! (Pause to think.) Instead, we have an opportunity to mix in some of those “retirement” wishes with our everyday life.

    Self-care possibilities.

    If you want to be more productive, have more energy, move better, slow down your fast mind, then small self-care steps do make a difference and they do add up. June - kayak sky and trees hobby self care

    Self-care is like a muscle to exercise. It helps you with “life balance.” It helps you with living a life of meaning, as you do some things for yourself and create time for what is important to you and the people you love.

    Some specific ideas are below in the HuffPost article, and some of my ideas will be in a next blog post.

    Find ways to spend as much time creating your life as you spend on work, even if you love what you do.


     The expectations of what we can get done, and how well we can do it, are beyond human scale.~ Brene Brown, quoted here.

    “I’ve also had to humbly remind myself of the obvious — that the art of taking a break starts with remembering to take one. One strategy I’ve found helpful in this not-always-so-easy remembering is to identify activities that feel restorative and rejuvenating before the moment when I’m hoping to act on them.”  from HuffPost article here.


    50 Ways to Take a Break HuffPost article.

    Flexible Time Management: Psychology Pieces

    February 20th, 2015
    Flexible To Do Lists: This is another of my practical strategies series, with this topic being flexibility in one’s time management. Each post will have a different focused set of practical strategies and questions to practice with. Today’s post is some of the psychology to consider.

    Do you have a habit of allowing everything to automatically flow onto your master to do list?

    Try a new habit: decide whether something deserves a spot on your list or not. Our default is “yes.”

    Find ways to make your progress and priorities visible. Many people use technology to capture tasks, but print out today’s list for focus.


    Technology is splitting our attention.

    Use strategies to stay focused and not allow your own mind to take you off track. (List, timers, sandwiching tasks, shutting off technology for short, quiet periods of time – or having an app do it for you.)

    Time Awareness

    Time Awareness

    Ideally, you’ll work on tasks when your energy for that task type is best. Sometimes, life is too busy and you really cannot afford to stick to this way. If you try, you’re increasing your own stress. Let it go. Come back to this method when your life calms down and you can organize your days in this way.

    You cannot control whether your situation will cause chaos in your days: physical issues, caregiver responsibilities, mental health differences, the presence of children/puppy, etc. How you react is key. And then, too, how quickly you get back on track is also key, so know what works for you to circle back (lists, “bookmarking” where you were, selecting some time slots where you shut out everything but your own work or needs).



    The Series:

    Create Choices to Create Calm

    Figure out the Flow

    Size it up to See

    Psychology Pieces

    Flexible Time Management: Size it up

    February 20th, 2015
    Flexible To Do Lists: This is another of my practical strategies series, with this topic being flexibility in one’s time management. Each post will have a different focused set of practical strategies and questions to practice with.  Today’s post is about “sizing it up to see” what’s what.


    Size up your week:

    How many work hours do you available have in each day?

    Home? In other words, what’s the “container” for all you need to get done?

    Is each day the same or do you need to figure out a couple of different routines to manage your days?


    Size up your time slots:

    How big a chunk of time can you afford, where you can focus singularly on something? For busy parents, for caregivers and others, your time slot is shorter than someone with older or no children, for example. This is important, because it directly relates to how you break up a larger issue or project. You need smaller steps to work on, if you have the shorter, smaller chunks of time.

    Size up your list: You need two lists, the (usually overwhelming) master list with everything.   And the “today” list, with just a few items on it, which are your focus for today only. These are separate lists. Do not try to run your day looking at the master list or you’ll be overwhelmed and spend time organizing the list, but not doing much else.


    Size up your day: Getting Started Template

    Each day at the close of your day, you’ll plan tomorrow.

    That’s the key: do it the day before, because in the morning, you’ll be clear on what needs doing and you can hit the ground running.

    If you wait for the morning, chances are good you’ll do what you feel like or simply forget what was important.


    Size up your tasks:

    Many people find it useful to include on their list how long a task will take.

    This is useful when you’re interrupted or when you have unexpected extra time.

    A quick look at the list gives you your next thing, instead of spending a ½ hour organizing your list to find the thing to work on.


    Flexible Time Management: Figure out the Flow

    February 20th, 2015

    Flexible To Do Lists: This is another of my practical strategies series, with this topic being flexibility in one’s time management. Each post will have a different focused set of practical strategies and questions to practice with.


    Figure out the Flow

    Your time flows differently from anyone else’s. Figure out your flow and you’ll find it’s easier to switch gears.

    It also becomes easier to see when the flow of your time is about to be so different from the norm that you need to operate differently to keep your sanity, balance, or flow.

    Examples of Flow

    Summer time flow is different from the school year for parents, teachers and grandparents and home-based workers.

    A musician has high performance seasons and quieter seasons.

    If you have custody of your children, your seasons relate to the children’s visiting schedule.

    Tax season for the accountant.

    Software release cycles for developers.

    Days you are in the office versus on the road for a day or a week.


    Where to start

    What seasons of time do you see in your life? How does time flow for you?

    Create strategies to manage your time differently, for each season; usually we have two, so don’t get too complicated here.

    What new strategies do you need?

    Which need to change when you have busier times?


    When our circumstances are different, strategies need to change a little.

    Identify the “must do” maintenance strategies versus the nice-to-do.

    Let go of the nice-to-do, for now. You’ll come back to what works, when the season or flow changes again.


    Flow of Time

    Flow of Time


    The Series:

    Create Choices to Create Calm