Systems Match Both Organizing and Memory Style

Ellen's Bookshelf
Ellen’s Bookshelf

In the Spring I helped a client organize her husband’s home office as a Father’s Day present.  We were given clear instructions to not touch anything “on the desk,” but everything else was fair game.  Her husband is a Neuroscience Professor at an area university.  Of course he had a large library of books. They were in absolutely no order at all.

I was curious how he could find anything.  Why is it that certain people’s brains need order and others don’t?  Continue reading »

This isn’t so bad

“This isn’t so bad” is perhaps one of the more frequent statements I hear out of my client’s mouths. It doesn’t quite matter if we are sorting stuff, culling emails, consolidating post-its or any of the other numerous tasks that go into becoming more organized and productive, I hear it often…”this isn’t so bad”.

What’s that about? Could it possibly be that:

  • creating order and structure actually is a relief?
  • getting rid of excess actually feels good?
  • being in control of one’s responsibilities actually is a good thing?

Yes, I’m convinced of all that, and I’m convinced that having some semblance of order contributes to a better life overall.

Then why is it so hard to do it? The easy answer is because there are so other things we have to do that it’s hard to prioritize taking care of our work space. What if we were to reframe this? For those of you who love to exercise and would never miss a workout, but the thought of spending time getting your office or desk or kitchen island in shape is horrifying – ask yourself why is this any different?

Organizing is simply a workout for your space. Without the maintenance of taking care of your stuff, your space gets sluggish, inefficient and blob-like. Once you invest a bit of time and energy into taking care of it you feel lightened up, more agile and more nimble. And that isn’t so bad.

Paper-less not Paperless

I recently attended a workshop on digital filing. It was clear that the concept of a paperless office was completely unrealistic. What is clear however is that we can simply reduce our use of paper by training ourselves to think differently? I pose to you the challenge of going Paper-LESS. Yes, LESS PAPER! Easy Paper-LESS changes:

  • Don’t automatically print out receipts of on-line purchases – Do file electronic confirmations in an email folder (mine is called on-line purchases!)
  • Don’t automatically print out emails you need to act on – Do put the action item into your task management system (on your to-do list, on to your calendar, etc.)
  • Don’t automatically print out airline ticket confirmations – Do put arrival and departure information (including flight numbers and confirmation codes) right onto your calendar.

These are simply places to start. However the real trick is the “automatically” part. You are going to have to change the habit you now have of hitting the print button at every turn. Instead of hitting Print try hitting a mental Pause and asking yourself “can I do with less paper?” Because when Paper-Less you have less clutter, and less clutter means fewer distractions from your important work.

Free Isn’t Really Free

I went to a great meeting yesterday with a lot of free give-aways. I saw people taking and taking and taking. I kept thinking “Where are they going to put it all?” I thought about what it means to bring all this stuff into our homes and offices. Free isn’t really free. Bringing something into your space costs you in many different ways:

  • Freebies take your time – now you are going to have to make time to put it away. How much time will it take you to make a space for it so it can be useful? How much time will it take to figure out how to use it and when to use it?    Continue reading »

Magazines and Newsletters: Low Hanging Fruit

At this time of year when time and space are at a premium, it’s helpful to clear space quickly and without much emotional investment. Be it at home or at the office, there is ALWAYS too much information around. Imagine the space you can make by doing a quick publications purge. 

Here are some thoughts to help you move them from prime space to the recycling bin:

  • Many of the magazines we have today are freebies that are sent to raise the subscription rates to attract more advertisers…you didn’t ask for them, are they really worth your time and space?   Continue reading »