Thursday, November 16, 2017

3 Keys Thursday: Fun Discoveries While Revamping a Room

Dodgerton Skillhause via Morguefile
Even the best systems need to be revamped from time to time. And the ones that aren't working or that we've outgrown? Well, those definitely need revamping.

I've been in the midst of that sort of project. Spurred by the purchase of new furniture for a room that was overdue for repurposing, I've been moving some things around and trying to move other things out. One piece that had to go had served as significant storage, so it was time to find something that was both style-specific and STYLE-ish to shoulder the organizational burden.

As has probably become clear, I love doing this sort of thing. Part of the reason for that is the challenge, but another reason is that these projects usually serve as a reminder of key ideas, such as:

  • Being open to new ways of doing things. I'd never been happy with the DVD storage we'd set up. It fit and it kind of worked, but it was unwieldy, yet I couldn't come up with a better idea. When I cleared off a shelf in one of the cabinets, a new solution presented itself. My I need to see it style was overwhelmingly excited by the simple sight of a row of DVDs all lined up alphabetically by title. I'd never considered using that space in that way before, but now I have a new solution that works -- and has room to grow.
  • Breaking habits. Sometimes, we've had the same things in the same places for so long that we don't even see them anymore. Such was the case with some catch-all bins (a great drop and run tool) on top of one of the storage units. When I stepped back and really looked at it, the area looked more like clutter than storage, so getting rid of it was a no-brainer. Not only did clearing it off make things look better, but it also provided a place for storage that was actually functional.
  • Remembering the decor. Finishing touches might not be organizationally necessary but, by making the space look attractive, they encourage us to keep things looking that way. I had space for five file bins on top of the storage unit, but I had only four bins. Suddenly, the empty space looked very appealing, but it needed something. A candle on a tall stand filled the space, quickly taking it from practical to polished.
I'm not finished yet but, since watching the new personality of the room emerge is a lot of fun, I'm to in a big hurry. Besides, I sometimes get my best ideas when I remember to relish the process.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Dreaming Up New Ideas

gr8effect via Pixabay
One night last week, a freak accident on our street had us awake at 4AM. Aside from damage to cars, the only casualty was a good night's sleep.

Though I was determined to go back to sleep, sleep eluded me. So, as I often do when my usual endeavors to fall asleep fail, I started rearranging things in my head.

The second bedroom in our house has never actually been a second bedroom. It's been a catch-all for homeless furniture and belongings, an office, a place to stash everything we didn't want falling into the hands of a curious toddler and a playroom. As you can imagine, many of these roles overlapped; there was rarely a time when the room stopped being one thing and became something else entirely.

We are, once again, in one of those transition stages. My daughter, who just turned twenty, has outgrown the playroom, yet many of the trappings of that space (not to mention the collections that lived there) are still in the same places they were in when she was a toddler.

Two months ago, we committed to taking the next step to making the room into a family space that reflected our current family configuration and bought grown-up furniture. We knew it was a little large for the room, and that existing pieces would have to go, but the jury was still out on what was going and where it would go.

So, bit by bit, I've been working on the transition. It's a lot like working a jigsaw puzzle that has somehow collected pieces of another jigsaw puzzle: most of the pieces need to stay, but it takes a lot of sorting to figure out what we need and what we don't.

And so last week, as sleep eluded me, I lay in bed visualizing the room, trying to determine what could go where and, perhaps more important, what could go. This curious combination of zooming in on an image I had to recall actually helped me to arrive at a solution. Somewhere in the midst of this process, I fell asleep, but when I woke up, I was excited to get started.

maklay62 via Pixabay
There's still work to do. One pivotal piece -- a lateral file cabinet I'm attached to -- has to stay put until my dad relocates and can re-claim it. But, in the meantime, I've not only figured out where its contents will go, but also set up the systems that will hold them. Now, bit by bit, I can move things from Point A to Point B.

Eventually, the furniture will fit the room, and the room will have a new personality. In the meantime, I'll keep dreaming up new ideas.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

3 Keys Thursday: 3 Strategies for Finding (and Working with) Your Styles

Dodgerton Skillhause via Morguefile
Hi, my name is Lisa and my styles are I need to see it (personal style) and drop and run (organizational style). Yes, I've been at this for a while, and yes, these are still my styles. Organizing by STYLE doesn't mean changing my styles; rather, it means learning to work with them instead of against them.

If you don't know what your styles are, take a minute to take the STYLE quiz. If you're taking it for the first time, you might very well find a little of yourself in every category.

How do you narrow the field?

Think about what's most outstanding. For me, the need to see things stands out more than anything else. Although I file important papers and keep lists and a planner, I'm still the girl that leaves the empty prescription bottle on the counter as a reminder to call in a refill. My strategies keep my style in check, but they don't erase all signs of it, and I'm okay with that.

Look for the overlap in approach. Does one style feed another? If so, finding strategies that work for one style may resolve issues in another as well. My drop and run organizational style and my I need to see it personal style feed one another, so choosing tools and strategies that work for one often helps the other. Containers with open tops, for example, allow me to put things away in a single step, simply by dropping them into the container....where I can see them. Check out the charts section of this blog to see if your style overlaps come with container overlaps, then experiment away, but don't forget to...

Trust your gut. If a tool or strategy feels wrong, it probably is. It really doesn't matter how popular it is. If it doesn't work for you, find something else that does. I ditched binders ages ago in favor of simpler tools like accordion folders and open top files. Their simplicity makes me more likely to use them and visibility they provide suits my I need to see it personal style.

In the end, the style labels you choose should serve only one purpose: pointing the way toward strategies and tools that work for you.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Rediscovering the Big Three

geralt via Pixabay
When the fall semester started, I slacked off on my Big 3 list/habit. With so many days already filled with class work and class preparation, what I needed to do seemed obvious. Why write it down?

Because, to paraphrase a book title, when I don't write it down, I don't make it happen.

In the past month or so, I've begun to become frustrated by all of the little things I don't seem to be getting around to. I had a little chat with myself about restoring balance, and that was a good start. Right around the same time, though, I realized that it had been a long time since I'd written down my Big 3. So one morning, feeling a little overwhelmed, I jotted three things down.

And then I did them.

Funny how that works.

Without my Big 3 list, stuff gets done. Time sensitive stuff. Previously scheduled stuff. Already promised stuff. All of that is good, but it still leaves a lot of stuff undone.

My Big 3 list is my way of making sure all of that other stuff gets on the list because apparently, that's the way I get things done. The Big 3 list is not a miracle or a magic wand, but it is an effective strategy. And, whether we're managing time or stuff, when we find a strategy that works, we need to make sure it becomes a habit and remains a habit. It's easy to rationalize, make excuses or even offer good reasons for why we're not using it. But, as I discovered (again) recently, all of these juicy rationalizations are easily counterbalanced by one simple argument.

When we use strategies that work, things get done.

Funny how that works.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

3 Keys Thursday: 3 Things I Want in that Mythical Work Bag

Dodgerton Skillhause via Morguefile
Yesterday, I wrote about my ongoing search for the perfect bag. In the process, I've gone through quite a few contenders and have discovered a few of the attributes that matter most to me.

A pocket (preferably external) for my cell phone. Putting my cell phone in the same place every time saves me a lot of digging through my bag to find it. Putting it in a pocket on the outside of the bag makes the access even easier.

An interior pocket or two. Sometimes one really is better because then I don't have to remember which pocket I put something in. And there's always something I need to put in a pocket.

Strong straps and a bag that distributes weight well. The biggest problem with big bags is the obvious one -- they become unmanageable. When I was younger, I considered it a badge of honor to be able to pick up heavy stuff; now I prefer things that don't strain my back and hurt my shoulders. As I continue to "try on" bags, I'm discovering that two bags of the same size aren't necessarily equal when it comes to manageability.

So, when I find my perfect bag, will it need to have anything else?

Just one more thing. It has to be cute, too.

How about you? What qualities do you look for in a bag, be it a purse, a briefcase or a bag you can use after a productive day at the mall?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Another Day, Another Bag

I am once again engaged in a struggle to find my "just right" bag for work. This is especially ridiculous, given the fact that I sell bags, but there you have it.

Then again, maybe that's part of the problem; too many choices can, indeed, be a challenge. And finding a bag that holds everything isn't my problem.

The issue is finding a bag I can still lift after I've filled it with everything I need.

The perfectly appointed bag would be stocked with all the stuff I know I need, along with the stuff I might need and the stuff I used to need a few semesters ago, but haven't needed recently.

Hmm. Is that what I need or what I want?

I have a great rolling bag, but it's so...conspicuous. I could get past that -- and I often do on days when I have a lot of stuff to transport -- if it were less challenging to lug my wheeled bag up and down stairs. I could always take the elevator, I guess, but that's a habit I've been trying to break.

For now, I've (once again) settled on a combination that works -- a tote bag I can throw over my shoulder, coupled with a laptop case (I have several of those as well). There's room in the tote bag for the laptop, but its addition makes the bag a little too heavy, since the bag is already stocked with all the stuff I know I need, etc., before I put anything in it.

As I write this, it occurs to me that perhaps I've reached the point in the semester when it's time to check the need/want ratio for the contents of my bag. Like any other container, the ones that we carry with us routinely tend to collect both essential and non-essential items, and it's only when they overflow or we begin to have trouble lifting them that it occurs to us that some sorting and -- gasp! -- purging might be in order.

Although this process looks similar in both containers that are primarily stationary and containers that are portable, it can be harder to cull the contents of the bags we carry with us since we're often planning for a variety of eventualities. Not having something in a purse, diaper bag or work tote often means doing without; we can't simply walk into another room to get the item we wish we had.

Still, there comes a time in the life of every bag, tote and purse when a little sorting and re-organizing is necessary. When we reach that time, we have to confront the balance between the essential and the non-essential, as well as the too big, the too small and the "just right."

I know my bag fits my personal and organizational styles. Now it's time to make sure its contents are a perfect fit as well.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

3 Keys Thursday: 3 Organizing Favorites

Dodgerton Skillhause via Morguefile

My post yesterday about unique solutions got me thinking about organizing staples -- furnishings that are standard, but lend themselves to non-standard uses. Here are three of my favorites.

  • Open shelving. Some may see storage for books, but I see opportunity. While most of the open shelving in my house is, indeed, laden with books, open shelves can store almost anything. Storage cubes, bins, baskets and other containers can add a decorative touch, or can simply keep things looking neat.
  • Double duty organizers. I love furnishings with hidden storage. I'm the proud owner of two ottomans (one upstairs, one downstairs) with storage space inside. (The downstairs ottoman is a replacement for the original, which went off to school with my daughter). They have held everything from blankets to files to stuffed animals. (No word on what my daughter is using hers for). Our latest acquisition is a cocktail table with a hinged top that can be raised to create a work surface (or a snack surface). Best of all, it has storage inside.
  • Bins, baskets and miscellaneous containers. These are the elements that make STYLE stylish. Whether they roll away, contrast, match, coordinate or fit into nooks and crannies, they come in such a wide variety that finding one (or many) that fit your personal and organizational styles is a snap. Not sure where to start for your styles? Check out the charts tab at the top of the page for some container checklists.
How about you? What are the building blocks of your organizational system?