Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Clutter Battles and How to Win - Part 1

A few weeks ago I attended a presentation by a professional organizer. Kathie England has an organizing business called Time for Success. She presented some excellent ideas on how to get started taming your clutter. I don't know how much clutter you have but dealing with my overwhelming amount of clutter / stuff is one of the reasons I started this blog. I have a serious paper problem. I have a crazy, messy coat closet which doesn't work. I have a tiny garage that needs some serious organization. And the list goes on.

Kathie taught us a method for organizing based on an acronym that she learned in Julie Morgenstern's book, Organizing from the Inside Out. The acronym is SPACE. Forgive me if I hack this...I took notes but haven't gotten the book from the library yet.

First, S, you Sort like items with like items.

Second, P, you Purge. Once you can see that you have 5 potato peelers, you can pare down (pun intended).

Third, A, you Assign an appropriate home. For example, Christmas ornaments or your menorah don't need to be easily accessible. On the other hand, stuff you use every day should be right where you can get at it. A tape measure is going to be invaluable in this step and in the next step.

Fourth, C, you Containerize. I cringe at this word but basically, you find appropriate containers for the homes you assigned.

Fifth, E, you Equalize. This is maintenance where you make sure that your system is integrated into your life. One thing that she suggested is after you finish a project, you set an appointment with yourself in the future to make sure that you system is still working.

As you go through the process, she suggests having a "Quandary Box" (or bag or bin). This is where you put the stuff that defies sorting and that you don't know what to do with. You can go back to it later and make decisions. You may not be ready yet to let something go. This gives you an opportunity to get used to the idea of letting it go.

Another thing she mentions is to be sure to take before and after photos. She cited a client who had a 5 foot stack of papers to go through. During an organizing session with Kathie, she reduced the stack by 2 whole feet. The client was so excited! The problem was that when her husband returned home, he couldn't see the difference. It still looked like a huge stack of paper. A before photo would have been great proof of progress.

As a mama with 3 under 4, I really liked her idea of bins for kids with the word and the picture so kids can help clean up. Granted, I wouldn't even know how to categorize all our toys but it is still a good idea. One of the other ideas she had for kids was to take a photo of how you want a room (a bedroom, a playroom) to look. Then, set a timer, turn on some music and make it a game to get the room back to looking like the picture. Are you overwhelmed with toys? She suggested making it a fun event with your children to purge toys. You can build social awareness by talking about who would get the toys and why they might need the toys.

This post is getting super long so I will break it into Parts 1 and 2. Look for Part 2 in the near future.

Dear Blog,

I just wanted to apologize for ignoring you. It isn't because I don't love you, honest! It is just that, well, there is another blog in my life. There. I said it. I love you both and you are both so different! You fulfill my need to express the creative side in me, the crazy side and the confused side. My other blog, which is an internal work blog (so I cannot share it here) is totally different. It focuses on my work and on educating people about my work. The name of my other blog is "Water on a Stone" because that is how I think of my work sometimes.

The other difference is that this blog is a tiny little fish in a big, big pond. My blog at work is a huge fish in a little pond. It gets read. It gets comments. It gets lots of links and it gets noticed. But that doesn't mean I don't still love you and have good ideas for blog posts which I promise to write soon. Honest.

Your writer

Friday, June 8, 2007

Guitar makers seek to save trees

I was blown away by an article I found entitled, "Saving Trees Is Music to Guitar Makers’ Ears". Guitar makers are banding together with Greenpeace to save the forests because if they don't they will have no materials to build guitars. Imagine that, no trees or small trees mean no wood or not the right kind of wood to make guitars. I honestly can't imagine a world with no guitars. Can you?

Creating your Personal Board of Directors

If you are planning to make a big decision in your life, you may want to create your own personal board of directors. A personal board of directors is a group of individuals who can help you think through big decisions. They tend to have attributes that are different and compliment your personal attributes. The suggested number of people is anywhere from 4-7 and there are also suggested rolls to fill. Fast Company suggests that you have a clarifier, a challenger, a connector and a wise elder in addition to 1 or 2 free agents. You may find that you have strong talents in one of these suggested areas and then you may want to find an alternate archetype to draw on. Obviously, your personal board of directors are people that you trust.

Proactive Living says that personal boards of directors don't meet like professional boards. Instead you would meet with them one on one at least once a month. These people can help you stay on track toward you life's goals. They can make great suggestions and also often ask the hard questions that sometimes we don't want to face ourselves.

Decision Books lists reasons why you should create a personal board of directors. Here are a few of those reasons excerpted from the above link:
- It gives you access to experience you not normally available to you.
- It lets you to draw on the wisdom of people with diverse perspectives.
- It takes some of the fear out of making difficult decisions, and it allows you to climb the learning curve faster than if you were on your own.
- It delivers "intellectual bench strength," and helps you see the bigger picture more easily than if you were on your own.

If you want to get started, look around at the people you consult today. Are these people who support you in your decisions? Do they offer good advice that helps you to be successful? If the answer is yes, you are already on your way to creating a personal board of directors. If the answer is no to either question, you may want to consider replacing some of your current consultants with better candidates.

Who should create a personal board of directors? According to the links, everyone! This is not just for starting a business but for any big decision in your life. It can, however, be particularly helpful for career guidance.

Click on Goals Guy to see a list of 10 Personal Board of Directors Insights.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Opening Pandora's Box

Have you heard of the website Pandora? It is a super cool site where you enter your favorite music and then the website plays similar music. It is like your own personal internet radio station that plays music you like. What a great way to get exposed to new music! You can even buy songs you like directly from iTunes (very smart). The brains behind the website is the Music Genome Project© in which each song and artist is analyzed for particular musical attributes which they refer to as "genes". Ani DiFranco, one of my favorite artists, is classified as "folk roots, acoustic sonority, major key tonality, a good does of acousitc guitar pickin' and a dynamic female vocalist".

This website is an excellent example of what Web 2.0 can do. It lets you guide the music you want to hear. You can give feedback by rating each song thumbs up or thumbs down. I believe that it is a learning website as it learns which songs are most appreciated by the audience. It offers the ability to meet people who like the same music and there is a blog.

If you like music, you should check it out.