Staying Organized

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Originally posted 2014-04-24 10:04:53. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

bridge painter by Noah BergerI live in California near the Golden Gate Bridge (which celebrated its 75th birthday last year). To protect it from corrosive sea salt, it needs to be touched up all the time. As long as the ocean winds blow, the bridge will need new paint.

I’m talking about maintenance, my friends.

There’s really no way to get around it. Once you organize your space, you have to maintain it or, like that bridge, it will fall down. Your bridge is everything that supports you and the systems you’ve taken time to create. Treat them well.

There’s no need to dwell on the horrific consequences of lack of maintenance. You may already be familiar with them. Let’s talk about freshening up instead. Get your hard hat and lunch box and climb up with me.

How do you spot the touch-up areas?

The easiest way to do this is determine what is out of place. An organized space means everything has a place. Further, each place should be as easy as possible to put things away in.

Which touch-up areas do you tackle?

On the bridge, they inspect to find out where the most corrosion is and repaint those spots. Clearly they’re not going to paint the entire bridge in a day. You don’t have to either.

Start with the things that will become bigger problems faster; work you need to do now, bills to be paid, important mail to deal with. Once you do that, just start in a spot and work your way around (like continuously painting the bridge one end to the other, which is what I thought they did).

If you get used to the idea that maintenance is a perennial routine, you can relax and know that you’re going to enjoy that fabulous view every day when you climb up your personal Golden Gate Bridge and know you’re keeping it in tip top shape.

Are you Doing Important Stuff, or Just Urgent Stuff?

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Originally posted 2009-10-15 17:28:56. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Urgent sounds important, but it's really not. It may be important to someone else, but your involvement is often just a waste of time. Tasks that are urgent require you to act quickly and that means you don't spend time thinking about whether you should do them. They're also often the result of poor planning (or no planning) and bad time management.

Slide1 The words urgent and important are borrowed from Stephen Covey's four-quadrant division of work. As you might guess, people often find themselves stuck doing mostly Quadrant 1 and 3 tasks, just because they have a deadline and someone else is waiting for them. You can't completely avoid these, but at least make sure you minimize Quadrant 3 tasks, which are things like pointless meetings, requests for information, most email, many phone calls.

As for Quadrant 4, obvy, stay away from time wasters. A certain amount of brain shut-down time can help you be more productive; just don't get carried away.

The most important area to spend time in is Quadrant 2. Why is this so hard? One reason is that sometimes these projects are only important to you. That means no one is waiting for it; there's no outside accountability.

To make progress on important projects, you need to value them enough to carve out time in your schedule to work on them. You are not going to find spare time to devote to them. Look for time in your week that's not quite as busy as the rest of the week and block it out for personal project work. That means actually write or type it into your datebook at a specific time on a specific day.

Ultimately, these are the projects that will bring you the most satisfaction and pride of accomplishment. Not all the fire drills and all-nighters that seemed important at the time. Start today on honoring the commitments you make to yourself.

Computer Cord Organizer

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Originally posted 2014-01-21 12:12:59. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The MOS organizer is a beautiful thing. I’m guessing its designers are Apple fans because the packaging is equally beautiful and clever; the device sits in a drawer in its box and you pull an orange ribbon tab to slide it open.

I love it when office supplies are fun and nice to look at. No one should have to put up with dull, strictly utilitarian stuff at home or at work. This little gizmo has a very pleasing round edged shape and comes in a matte finish aluminum that complements my Macbook.

The MOS solves a problem I didn’t realize I had until I saw what it does. Now I realize how annoying it’s been to reach blindly around the floor under my desk for my laptop power cord or phone charger. It holds the cords with a strong magnet, so I can pop some paper clips on there too, if I want.

The company is running a Kickstarter program for their next product, a superior audio cable paired with a smaller version of the MOS, the Menos (nice play on the words “mas” (the MOS) and “menos” for you Spanish speakers). Judging from the quality, utility and beauty of the current product, the new additions will be terrific.

In the Kickstarter video, they say they’re waging a war against car clutter. Gotta love that!

You can read about the newbies and pledge money here: MOS Spring and MOS Menos. The campaign ends Saturday, so hop on over.

Organize your bedroom

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magazine organizing basketWouldn’t it be delightful to walk into a serene, welcoming bedroom after a hard day’s work? It would invite you to relax and nothing else; nothing to put away, nothing to distract you from chilling out.

The way it is now:

The bed is unmade, clothes are slung over chairs and doorknobs, newspapers and magazine are on the floor, the bureau and nightstand are littered with stuff. People, this is not a room conducive to relaxation!

The good news:

I’m going to give you three quick and dirty tips to get that fancy hotel room feel in your bedroom. This isn’t the full-on, let’s organize overhaul I’d do for a client; you don’t have time for that. It’s just a way to experience how terrific it feels to be in an organized bedroom.

  1. Make the bed! The bed is the biggest piece of furniture in the room. If it’s disheveled, the entire bedroom looks disheveled. If you do only one thing, do this.Simplify your bed making by using a thick quilt or comforter that you can just twitch into place. Warm Things on College Avenue in Oakland always has great deals on comforters and covers.
  2. Hang the clothes. Getting dressed in the morning can be a challenge. To keep cast off clothing under control, install hooks on the back of the closet door, or inside wall. Get big ones, so you can hang a lot on there till you’ve got time to put them properly on hangers.Bonus: get another hamper for your closet if it’s too much trouble to take dirty clothes to your main hamper.
  3. Ditch the paper. Ideally, you want to round up all the newspapers and stick them in the recycling (instead of fooling yourself that you’re going to have time to read them later). Station a big, decorative basket near your bedroom door for that purpose. If you can’t bear to throw them all out, get another container for next to the bed, not on top of the nightstand.Containerizing is one of your best weapons against clutter. Check out local favorite Cost Plus near Jack London Square for baskets galore.

Idea > Decision > Action

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Originally posted 2012-01-26 10:07:37. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For many people, it’s easier and more fun to think up new ideas than to take action on the ones they already thought of. Buckling down and focusing on one idea and making it happen can make them antsy.

Sometimes the project you take on is very large and there are so many things to address that you’re tempted to start them all at once. When it comes to organizing, this can get you into trouble.

The process is this: have an idea, make a decision, take the action.

For example, the idea could be “organize the bottom shelf,” the decision is “only have notebooks, pads and file folders there,” and the action is getting those items into the spot and finding other homes for anything that doesn’t fit those categories.

Here’s what happens when you leave off the action part.

My client, Annie,* is a big picture kind of gal. She’s very good with coming up with ideas and making decisions. The action part, not so much. She’d rather move on to the top shelf, or the counter above the shelves, or the table on the other side of the room.

She had numerous shopping bags with things sorted into them. Some of them were marked, some not. There were also piles and collections of items on which decisions had been made. This is definitely progress, but it’s not enough.

We needed to spend some time moving the physical stuff around.

For Annie, this was the tedious, low priority part. But not doing it was impeding our progress. It was like having puzzle pieces all over the floor and knowing exactly where each one went, but not assembling them into a completed picture.

Is this a sticking point for you? Look around and see if you’ve collected some piles of decisions that need a nudge to get to the next step. If taking the action seems dreary and monotonous, approach it like washing the dishes. It’s a chore that needs doing and you don’t really need to like it.

The good news is that you’ll stir up some good energy by moving things along. You’ll also see some inspiring progress when you see the results of all that decision making!

* Not her real name. In fact, whenever I write about my clients, I’m usually combining events and compositing people.

Cool Bubble Wrap Calendar

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Originally posted 2008-07-11 10:33:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

calendarYes, a calendar where you get to pop a bubble each day! If you’ve been on vacation, a whole row at once!

According to the website, this calendar is great for that special designer / obsessive / compulsive in your life. If you’re really obsessive, you could find a way to write on the bubbles… Found on Guy Kawasaki’s blog.

Organizing kitchen spices

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I worked with a client unpacking and setting up her kitchen this week. I corralled and sorted all her spice containers; jars, plastic bags, paper bags, plastic boxes, fabric bags; and we saw that there were duplicates and even triplicates of some spices.

One problem is that spices don’t all come in the same kind of container and plastic bags don’t work well in a spice rack. That means that some spices end up packed into a larger container in the pantry, away from the jars in the rack.

They’re usually not very usable there because the bags are rolled up or not labelled clearly. In this case they were also pretty tightly packed together. When it’s hard to find one, it’s easier just to buy more and then you end up with doubles and triples.

With spices, that’s a waste of money because they don’t keep very long. Not many cooks need half a cup of turmeric on hand all the time. I like Spicely brand boxed spices because the quantity is small. So here’s what we did:

  1. We got rid of all the expired spices. Some were dated. Some we judged on their color and smell; lack of either means toss it.
  2. We got rid of extra spices. One average spice jar-full is plenty to keep. We tried to select the newest ones to keep judged as described above.
  3. We now had spare jars to wash and empty the bagged spices into. Even so, the jars aren’t exactly the same size. I recommended that the client either start buying one brand or buy her own jars. Uniform containers with uniform labels make it much easier to find what you need quickly.
  4. We used a labelled to identify the jars and put them in the rack in alphabetical order. Some cooks like to sort by type of cuisine, or by the spices they use most often; those methods are fine too. With alphabetical sorting, I put the blends in their own section at the end.

Other spicy notes:

Don’t keep spices above your stove. The heat will destroy the flavor.

Select a spice container based on your cooking style and preferences. If you have a drawer available, you can get handy inserts to keep the jars in place. To save space, attach a rack or two to the inside of a cabinet. If you like having them on the counter, use a tiered lazy Susan. A graduated riser shelf unit is great if you have cabinet space for one.

Photos courtesy of The Container Store

The Pile-Free Zone

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guard your desk spaceYears ago I had a client who was plagued by what she called CHS. That stands for Convenient Horizontal Surfaces. Whenever there was one, she found herself filling it up with something and then had to work to get it free again.

Your desk is a prime candidate for attracting piles, especially when there is empty space on it. It’s a conundrum; you want to have space to work at your desk, yet that empty space inevitably calls out to have paper piled on it.

To maintain your free space, try creating a DMZ for paper. In this demilitarized zone, you make a treaty with yourself not to allow pile attacks. They may occur elsewhere, but this spot is a pile-free zone (PFZ).

It’s helpful to mark your PFZ so you know where it begins and ends and can easily honor your self-created treaty. One way to enforce the PFZ is to use a desk blotter. These come in a variety of materials and sizes. Choose one that allows you enough space to work.

If you can’t find a big enough one, make your own. You could use a rectangle of contact paper or just make a shape with colored tape (it doesn’t have to be a rectangle!). Heck, you can even paint it right onto the desk.

What matters is that you define this spot as the PFZ. Inside the borders: no piles. Outside the borders, piles are allowed. Try to keep them in an in-box if you can.

 

What is being organized worth to you?

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What is being organized worth to you?More time for fun. More time with family. More time with friends. More time to read. More time to relax.

More time to make a dress. More time to drink your morning coffee. More time to be outdoors. More time to smell the roses. More time to take a road trip. More time to cuddle up.

More time to pet the cat. More time to dance. More time to send a card. More time to give a compliment. More time to remember a dream. More time to go to the beach. More time to gaze out the window.

More time to hold hands. More time to go down a slide. More time for yoga. More time to laugh. More time to rub someone’s back. More time to travel.

More time to write a letter. More time to bake a cake. More time to write a screenplay. More time to watch the sunset. More time to learn to paint.

More time to eat bacon. More time to meditate. More time to feed the ducks. More time to volunteer. More time to kiss. More time to ride on a ferris wheel. More time to sit by the fire.

More time to savor life.

More time to live your dreams.

More time for you.