Jen Against the Machine (If the machine were an egg timer) Part 2– The Test

So! Previously, I discussed a time-management method called the Pomodoro Technique.  In part one the blog went over the book and my initial thoughts on how this process would work for me.  If you didn’t read it, part two might not make any sense, so definitely check it out here. Now, let’s get in to how it actually worked (or didn’t) for me.

The Tools:

I used a small notebook and labeled my pages as such: Week 1 Activity Inventory Sheet (a list of the things I would like to complete that week), To Do Today (one for each weekday with the task items listed in order of importance and a section at the bottom of the page for “Unplanned & Urgent Activities” and then a Records Sheet (which ultimately remained blank).  A second set of these pages was created for week 2.

Because the thought of a ticking timer would drive me insane, I looked through Google Apps for an appropriate app to use and found the aptly named “Tomato One”.  Tomato One is an online timer that ticks down from 25 minutes and then automatically switches to a 5-minute break count down.  After the four sets (pomodoros), it then times down from 15 minutes as recommended in the book. I have my laptop screen and then a secondary screen, so I placed the timer where I could see it counting down.

Week 1:

I felt pretty optimistic when I completed the inventory sheet of what I wanted to complete. This was easy to do since I already bullet journal and had my week spelled out for me.  I ended up with a pretty long list on my to-do today sheet, and my first lesson of the process was that I completely over-estimate how quickly I can complete things. I got through four pomodoros and felt okay, but a little concerned at how little I was checking off my list.  Then I got to some client work and started to get really frustrated because not only was I having to monitor Tomato One, but I was clocking in and clocking out for each client.  I will tell you my clients got a few minutes of free work from me several times.

InterruptionsI also noticed that my “Unplanned & Urgent Activities” list got very long.  These came from “Internal Interruptions” such as checking my budget and scanning a stack of business cards to get them off my desk to multiple “External Interruptions,” i.e. clients.  Or, in this case, one particular client who came in through multiple channels (email, a text, and a phone call) which made me make a note to myself to evaluate the way I work with that client.

Day 2 had similar instances plus several occurrences of my just needing a few more minutes to finish something and that flipping timer would click over to break. By noon on Wednesday, I had abandoned the process.

Week 2:

Deep breath and here we go. Felt good about my inventory list, and developed a weird tactic for dealing with just a few more minutes needed to complete something with the Pomodoro going to break.  I would actually stop for break, then finish the item in the next Pomodoro and start the next task during the same Pomodoro. I recorded the “shared’ Pomodoro by drawing brackets on my list.

I also was more detailed on my task list because I was not accounting for the little things, such as reading/returning emails, checking social media pages I manage for comments or anything weird, sending out invoices, etc. These little things occur around the big tasks I have to complete. By Thursday I did not have any unplanned and urgent activities on my list. Score!What it starts to feel like.

I did develop a deep-seated hatred of the Tomato One app. That stupid, ticking time bomb caused me, on more than one occasion, to rush to finish something before it flipped to break which resulted in my messing that task up and having to work on it during the next Pomodoro. I also began to dislike the color change (red for work time, green for break) and actually made fun of it by asking it why it was Christmas colors and who did it think it was to tell me how to manage my time. I believe once I told it to “piss off.”


And I used to like tomatoes

This process does not seem suited for a free-lancer with multiple clients who needs to track worked time for a specific client on a specific task and ends up taking 5-minute breaks all the time. As I mentioned in part 1, I do think this is probably a great idea for students and school work or studying. Having said all that, I do think there are probably people this method would work for, but since I usually get on a roll when I’m working, I feel that my efficiency dips using this method. And if I never see another tomato timer, it will be too soon.


Jen Against the Machine (If the machine were an egg timer) Part 1 – The Book


As evidenced in many of my blog posts, I love to try out organizational or time-management methods and see how they work (or don’t).  When a client mentioned the Pomodoro Technique, I must admit I had never heard of it. She lent me her book,The Pomodoro Techniqueby Francesco Cirillo. It is a very short (112 pages) read. I’m not going to lie; I had many doubts early on in my reading. Even so, I committed to trying this technique for two weeks, and even as I write this, the timer is still ticking.


imageThe basic premise of the Pomodoro Technique (PT for short) is working with a timer going. You work for 25 minutes intensely and then take a 5-minute break (one Pomodoro). After 4 Pomodoros, you take a longer break of at least 15 minutes.  You create an Activity Inventory Sheet of all the tasks you want to complete and then a To Do Today task list in order of importance for each day. As you complete Pomodoros, you mark them next to the task until the task has been completed.  FYI-Pomodoro is Italian for tomato, which is the shape of the kitchen timer the creator used to develop his technique.

My Doubts from Reading the Book:

One of the “rules” is that you cannot keep working past the 25 minutes, even if you are certain that you could complete the task in just a few more minutes. I’m one of those people who gets on a roll, and stopping just hampers my efficiency. It made me picture when I learned how to drive a stick-shift in Colorado-stop, go, stop, go, stall.

Another portion of the book is the stated rule “If a Pomodoro begins, it has to ring.” As in the timer must ring.   From the rule that you can’t work past the 25 minutes, I’m to understand that I must start another 25 minutes for really 10 minutes of work to finish the task and then … what? According to the book, I’m to use that time to overlearn by repeating or reviewing what I’ve done. That just sounds like a waste of 15 minutes. Keep in mind that I’m a consultant who charges by the hour, so I have to be very careful about wasting my minutes. There is an exception that if you finish the activity in the first 5 minutes, then you don’t have to count the Pomodoro. In my mind, that means waste or 5 minutes of time I cannot charge the client.

One rule of this technique states “If it Takes More Than 5-7 Pomodoros, Break it Down.” I’m uncertain about this as a rule, though 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours may be reasonable for some tasks. For one of my clients, I complete a monthly online calendar for her website. During my testing, this took 5 pomodoros but in my mind, how do I break this task down? You try finding and inputting 20 family-friendly events in less than 2 ½ hours! And if I did try to break it down by finding all the events and then inputting all the events, is this most efficient? I can’t charge a client more because some technique says I need to break down a task because it takes 3 hours.

One part of the book discusses deadlines and insinuates that if you have to work overtime, you shouldn’t do so for more than 5 days in a row. Good luck telling your boss or client that you can’t work overtime on the assigned project because this technique says you shouldn’t do it for more than 5 days in a row.

Some Positives from the Book:

notebookOn your To Do Today task list, you add a section called “Unplanned and Urgent Activities.”  This technique acknowledges that things will come up. It even discusses dealing with internal and external interruptions. I liked this section because it was filled daily with tasks for the same client. I was able to evaluate how I was working with that person and whether it was my efficiency or the client’s that determined the results.

The other thing I really appreciate about this methodology is that it encourages me to schedule all my tasks, not just the big ones. It’s sometimes easy to overestimate how much you can complete if you aren’t taking into account the little things around the big tasks such as emails, phone calls, research, etc.

As someone who charges by the hour and by the service, I need to know how long (i.e. how many pomodoros) it takes to complete a task.  By using this technique, I will apparently be able to track a good average for most activities.  However, each client and subject matter is different, and it may still take some educated guessing based on discussions with the client. In the long run, it may not be more helpful than looking through time-tracking (clocking in and out) that I currently use for billing.

Biggest Takeaway from the Book:

The book includes quite a lot of references to studying and school work. While I am doubtful about using it as a long-term business time-management method, it may work very well for students.

Stay tuned for part 2 when I actually try out this technique for two weeks!

Disclaimer: The Pomodoro Technique is very detailed and could only be summarized briefly here. If you are interested in this process, you should read the book to see if this time-management tool is for you.



From One Internal Audit to Another?

In a new episode of “Jen tries something and fails but learns a valuable lesson,” I tried an exercise called a Life Audit.  Here’s what happened:

As a compliance officer and internal auditor for a bank in my former life, I got excited when I saw the word audit (yes, I know that’s weird, but that’s me).  Naturally, a life audit seemed right up my alley.  I read several articles before I tried it and followed the directions to a tee (ummm, sort of).

Here’s the breakdown: I read “How and Why to do a Life Audit: Architecting a Life in 100 Post-its and a Saturday Afternoon” by Ximena Vengoechea posted on Medium in 2014. The basic premise, (read the article for all the deets) is to set aside one hour, write one wish per post-it note, and in one hour complete 100 post-it notes of wishes.  The article says that no wish is too big or too small, but honestly that in itself is subjective.  For me, all I could think of was big things. What I call “failure” number 1.

So, there I was with my blank post-its, my thoughts, and a blank wall to stick them to (the post-its, not my mind).  Being an organization freak, before I ever wrote one post-it, I came up with general categories for them: Personal, Professional, Health & Well-Being, and Weird & Random. Turns out I am weird and random, so eventually I changed that one to community and moved everything else to personal.

Life Audit

Categories set, I got on a roll for the first five or so – learn Spanish, exercise more (or at all), write a book, be debt free, and save more animals. Then anotherten or so post-its went up including speak at a large conference, get a cat tattoo, and be more patient.  Once I had about twenty post-its on the wall, I began to rearrange them in categories.  Then I saw that some things I wanted would happen if I did others first, so I put them in order.  And then some fit in two categories… you know what happened right?  I got twenty-nine post-its on the wall in an hour and half.  29.

I looked at some other articles written by people who completed this process to see if they mentioned what their wishes were and found that some did, but those didn’t really apply to me (such as getting promoted, getting married, etc).  I looked down in my paper recycle bin and remembered that I had thrown out a few wishes because I only wrote them down because I thought I was supposed to wish for those things. One said “make lots of money” (I’d rather be happy and useful than rich), “buy a house” (I’ve done that before and home ownership is not for me), and “to be seen as an expert in my field.”  Why? I hate the term expert.  To me, it implies I know it all, and while I can be a know-it-all, I will never know it all, you know?  I also noticed that none of my wishes were small. They were big, with lots of work needed to achieve them.


I wondered if I had done the exercise wrong by thinking too much, so I tried again. This time I just had a notebook in which to write the wishes. That way the post-it notes couldn’t get in my way.  I also set a timer for one hour, added in a glass of wine and put on the movie “To Wong Fu, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar” because if that’s not a movie about wishes then I don’t know what it is.

An amazing thing happened.  I came up with new things that I was wishing for, like being more spontaneous and riding my bike more. When the timer went off after an hour, I had a whopping … 20. Even less than the first time I tried the exercise! What was wrong with me?

Nothing. At. All. I don’t want for a lot of things; I’m very lucky.  I don’t have many wishes because when I do think about something that I want, I move toward getting that thing. And I don’t want the traditional things because I am not a traditional person (understatement of the year).

So, what do I think about the process?  It can be enlightening.  It can be useful. It can be frustrating. Go. Do it.



The lion, the witch, and the capsule wardrobe. Part 2.

So, there I was talking to myself (negotiating really) about the amount of clothing I owned.  I was irritated because I thought I was a minimalist and yet the number of pieces in my closet disproved that. When I took a deep breath and really thought about my clothes, I realized that I wasn’t really upset about the amount.  I had to face some truths about the types of clothes in my closet and what they really said about me.

  1. I am not comfortable with my body. It might be true that I wore cardigans to cover up tattoos but I also believed that the cardigans were hiding things. Flabby arms, muffin top, you name it, I thought cardigans magically covered all that up.  Then I saw pictures of myself, and they don’t.  I need to either get right with myself, or do something about the things I was trying to hide.
  2. I’m a lazy shopper.  If I find an item and like the way it looks and feels, I will buy it in several colors – whether I like the other colors or not. It means that I don’t have to try on any more clothes. Dressing rooms give me anxiety since they’re small and usually hot, and I would do almost anything not to have to try something on.
  3. I’m a fickle person.  As a point of pride, I am not normally wishy-washy. I try to make a decision and stick with it even if it’s difficult. (This doesn’t include what to have for dinner – I’m fickle as hell then.)  Subconsciously, I know something that I like today would be a temporary feeling. I will wake up one day and just all of sudden hate that item. Because of this, I buy cheap clothes. I shop at Old Navy, Gap Outlet, and Target. That’s my entire wardrobe! To have a capsule wardrobe your clothing items must be good quality – and I don’t have that.

It wasn’t all bad realizations though, as I learned some good things about me and my relationship to clothes as well.

Who doesn’t love a bright yellow cardigan?
  1. I love color. All the colors, all the time! I hate wearing black or brown – it actually makes me sad. And I really struggle with wearing them at the same time. Most capsule wardrobes are made from neutral colors in order to coordinate with each other – difficult if you wear any color under the sun and …
  2. I love not really matching.  I don’t buy anything in matching sets, I pair colors that you don’t generally see together, and I’m okay if someone looks at me and thinks “How did that come together?” I want to be original, and I don’t believe in this dressing for your age bull.  If I want to wear a dress and tennis shoes, then I will, which made me realize…
  3. I hate dressing up.  I wear dresses as a cheat. That’s one item to put on versus pants, and a shirt, and then shoes, and probably a cardigan. Meh. I wear dresses because I don’t wear shorts and it’s hot in the summer. For events, I look for a dress that barely makes the dress code (expressed or implied) and that I can wear more casually later.

All in all, it wasn’t a completely bad experience. Did I fail? You betcha. After all was said and done, my wardrobe consisted of 94 items and not the 39-item original goal.  And then I went to Target.

I may have learned things about my wardrobe and me, but it’s going to take a while for me to adjust that mindset and that’s okay. I may never have a capsule wardrobe, and that’s okay, too. What the goal should be is to have a wardrobe that I love – each and every piece.

The lion, the witch, and the capsule wardrobe (part 1)

Until now, I have considered myself a minimalist.  I don’t have an attachment to many things, so I thought creating a capsule wardrobe would not be a problem.  A capsule wardrobe is a compact wardrobe that is made up of staple pieces in coordinating colors.  The number of clothing items, as well as the types of clothing items counted, varies dramatically.  Some people say 24 pieces and some say 33 pieces, but the point is to eliminate those items that match nothing else in the closet.

In some of the things I read, others have tried this by limiting themselves to a specific number of pieces including jewelry and such.  Yeesh. Here is where I started in the process.

  1. Do the laundry.  I washed everything so I could have an accurate view of my current clothing collection.
  2. Pull everything out.  Then I pulled all of my clothes out and hung them around my room in groups. I kept dresses together, tops, etc. Then, I took pictures and listed an inventory.
  3. Make some decisions.  Decide what you want to create. Do you want one versatile wardrobe for any season? Do you want two capsule wardrobes, one for Spring/Summer and one for Fall/Winter? What is your goal in regard to number and types of pieces?


Since I just celebrated my 39th birthday, I decided my capsule wardrobe would be 39 pieces, would not include socks, underwear, bras, or accessories including shoes (because the number of underwear I own is nobody’s business and bras are expensive so I’m not just tossing them!)

Here was my inventory:

  • 16 dresses
  • 2 skirts
  • 2 pair of dress pants
  • 5 pair of jeans
  • 7 sweatshirts/hoodies
  • 2 blazers
  • 35 t-shirts
  • 17 tank tops
  • 16 yoga pants/leggings
  • 13 dressy tanks/sleeveless shirts
  • 29 cardigans
  • 7 scarves
  • 6 button-down dress shirts
  • 6 belts
  • 1 swimsuit       = 164 items

164 items? What the what? This was a bit of a wakeup call for me. How does a self-professed minimalist own so many pieces?  I took a deep breath and looked at my list closely. Some things made sense and I could explain, so I started a conversation with myself.

SELF 1: “Okay self, I own 29 cardigans because when I was in the corporate world I had tattoos to cover up.”

SELF 2: “Not in the corporate world anymore, are you? And haven’t been in over a year.”

SELF 1: “Good point, self.”

SELF 1: “I have 16 pairs of yoga pants and leggings because my job now allows me to work at home in comfort.  And I’m going to start working out and taking yoga.”

SELF 2: “Don’t you wash clothes?”

SELF 1: “Yessss.”

SELF 2: “How’s that going to the gym and yoga thing working out?”

SELF 1: “Shut up.”

What I was really trying to do was justify owning things that I might not actually need or want anymore.  Deep down, I felt sad and dejected. How could I help other people pare down and organize when I obviously had way too many things of my own?  I do realize that to some, this amount of garments may not seem nearly as expansive as I saw it, but remember, I thought I was minimalist person!

In my mind, I had failed my experiment. After trying to justify what I owned, I tried to cultivate ways to keep what I had anyway. “I’ll have two wardrobes – one fall/winter and one spring/summer, and then a workout wardrobe separate from that, and then I’ll only have to get rid of a few things…sheesh! That wasn’t the point of the exercise, and if I wasn’t going to take it seriously, then what was I doing?

It looks weeks of thinking about it and looking at my wardrobe (all put back in the closet).  So, what happened?  Tune in for The lion, the witch, and the capsule wardrobe – part 2.










































Organized with kids?

Some people tell me that it is impossible for them to be organized because of their kids.  While it can be a challenge to organize all the stuff that seems to just appear when you have kids, it is not impossible.  Here are some ways that you, and your children, can get organized – together.

  • Less is More. There are several studies and articles that show the benefits of children owning fewer toys.  Consider doing a deep clean of your children’s toys, keeping only what they toysactively play with and use daily.
  • Get them in the giving spirit. When organizing your children’s things, and your own, take your children with you to donate the items. Explain to them the purpose of a donation, who will benefit, and why this is important.  Once your children understand that you aren’t just throwing away their things, they may decide to give away more.
  • Make it a game. Being organized is challenging, but not impossible. Instead of telling them to go clean their room and then off they go for an indeterminate amount of time (and possibly little to show for it), set a timer for 10 minutes and tell them if they can get their items picked up and put back where they belong, they will get a prize! Prizes could be anything that is important to them, from watching their favorite movie (again) or going to the park, etc. You could develop a system where they get star stickers on a chart or money in a jar and after they get so many stars or so much money, they can go to the movies or go skating or go get ice cream. This helps them to watch their stars or money accumulate and know they are actually working toward a goal.
  • Treat them like an adult. Kids want their parents to be happy and for their parents to be proud of them.  Sit down and explain to your children how important it is to you for things to be organized and neat.  Explain to them that things last longer and will be more fun to play with if they are stored properly—less likely to be accidentally stepped on or run over by a car.  (Side note: this conversation will not work on anyone under the age of three, but you could give it a try.)
  • Get them involved from the beginning. Help your children build problem-solving skills by allowing them input into how their items are stored.  If they are part of the planning, it will make it much easier to get them to follow through with the process in the long term. This doesn’t just mean their bedroom or playroom. Kids love to take their things with them-even if they are just going to the living room. Have a special spot in the living room for them to keep a few things there instead of insisting all things must stay in their rooms.
  • One in, one out. Just like adults trying to get more organized, children, too, should toys2follow this policy. Instituting a one thing in means one thing out policy keeps your children from havi
    ng an overload – of toys, clothes, shoes, etc.  It also makes them value what they have more.  If they have to give something up in order to get something new, they will learn to prioritize and may even stop asking for new things just because they see something at the store.

Not all of these things will work with every child.  Some of these things may not work for your children at all.  The biggest goal is to include them and teach them.  You may discover that there are other methods that work for you, but the point is you can be organized – with kids.

Me, myself, and a bullet journal.

I’ve used a rotary phone and when I really need to remember things, I have to write them down.   I tell you these things so you know that behind this technology-using, social-media loving person beats an analog heart.

The Bullet Journal has been given a lot of media coverage lately from The Wall Street Journal and Real Simple to The creator, Ryder Carroll, has a website with videos and instructions on how to set up your bullet journal. The articles intrigued me, so after watching the videos and reading the instructions, I was excited to give it a try.

cover_fotorFor me, there were way too many pictures of bullet journal pages that were elegant and artistic. Since I am neither of those things, my bullet journal is strictly a functional tool and pretty representative of my constantly-changing schedule (more on that later).  I did try to make a concession by getting a cute notebook. Meh.

If you decide you want to do the bullet journal, please understand that you do not have to be artsy. However, if that makes happy, then go for it!  You also do not have to buy a fancy notebook, but I did find that notebooks with hard covers worked best for me.

Then you open the notebook and …index_fotor


Yeah. It’s a mess of different ink colors, lots of changes, lines crossed out, and a mix of work and personal entries.


But I LOVE the bullet journal.  I used it for the things recommended in the videos and instructions and then added a bunch of my own ideas.  Here’s a quick run-down, but if you want to give this try, I suggest you check out the video.



The first four pages of the book where you label what the following pages contain and their page numbers. (see above)


The next two pages of the book that lists future months beyond what you are currently scheduling. (I split each page in half and noted the four months after the month I was working on)


The next two pages where you map out the general things you want to accomplish, but not necessarily on a specific date, AS WELL AS events that occur on specific days.


The next two pages that give a week at a glance (I did not use this)


Split each page into half (or I did thirds like the picture below) and mark your specific items with one or more of these notations

  • Tasks             – Information                * Priority

o  Events             ! Inspiration                 > Migrated task            X Completed

In my opinion, the daily log is where it’s at. Note all the things you want to accomplish on that day, like this. Mark your tasks, events, and information. Anything not completed on that day is migrated to the next day.  And the next day. And the next day.  That’s the point. If you migrate a task so many times, you eventually ask yourself if it’s all that important in the first place.  Sometimes migrating a task incites a bit of guilt, and that’s why you complete it. Whatever works, right?

For me, just the act of writing things down helped me focus and gave me some perspective on how I was spending my time. I noted down everything from small tasks like returning something to the store to big things like a conference I attended.

Here are the things I added:


I keep a monthly budget of bills and income, so I just started tracking it in the journal.


A snapshot of the projects I have going, the people I need to follow up with, and topics/businesses I need to explore further.


Future topics to write about on the blog.


I’m writing a book, and this is where I keep all the random things I think about to add.

I also keep notes I’ve taken from the books I read. See the Index above where I took several pages of notes on the book The Art of Social Media.

A new notation I added was Hold with a squiggly line. To me, it was for things that had been on a long term hold, but not put off indefinitely.

Basically, focus is what I got from this exercise. I’ve seen where there are instructions for doing a bullet journal in an electronic format, but I disagree with this approach. I use Trello as a project management tool for overall projects, but this is for the minutiae, the details, and the accountability.  If you have to write something over and over again, you will either get it done or recognize it as unnecessary to your success. Things are less abstract to me when I write them down, while I can sometimes feel that technology is abstract (in the way that I understand and retain the information.)

Check out the links or give me a call, but I highly suggest trying this method and seeing if it works for you. I’ve already bought my next notebook, and the cover reads “Trust Your Crazy Ideas.” Indeed.

Thanks for the Memories

watchLegacy. Heirloom. Heritage. The tradition of passing down an item of significance from one generation to another has long been documented.  In today’s world, though, have we confused this act with handing down keepsakes or mementos? These things have value to a specific person and are usually about a certain place or time.  Are older generations bestowing things to younger generations that weren’t necessarily meant to be part of the historical tradition? If so, what are the younger generations supposed to do with these objects?

If you are considering what to do with your possessions, take into account these few things, and you could avoid some unintentional harm or hurt feelings.

Is your remembrance something that has been in the family for years and has a deep meaning?  Is it something that has a special significance to another family member?  Or is the reason that you want to pass this object on simply that you might feel guilty getting rid of it yourself?  If it is that last one, reassess the meaning of this token. You may realize that it doesn’t have the significance that you thought it did. While some things are painful to get rid of, not all things should be passed on to others.

A friend of mine told that me that when her grandmother was considering what to leave her family, she decided that whatever gifts you had given to her would be what you were bequeathed.  This seems like a strange approach because the keepsake was purchased with the receiver, the grandmother, in mind.  If the only connection is that the family member gave the gift, it might not have as much meaning and will be less likely to be kept.

Family, in the traditional sense, is almost unrecognizable today. With adoption, step-family, grandparents raising their grandchildren, and all kinds of configurations, the passing of treasures is harder.  When thinking about gifting an item to someone, consider how it will affect all parties – including those individuals that will not be getting the memento.  

Some people struggle to make this process fair.  Unless you are talking about cash, it shouldn’t be about being fair, but about the connection.  One person may have a strong connection to a set of books that holds no monetary value while another person may have a strong connection to a piece of jewelry that does have monetary value, but the emotional value is more important. Being fair in this situation isn’t actually possible because everyone values items differently. Another thing to understand about handing down items is that you shouldn’t make someone take it.  If you do, it loses the meaning and any positive feelings associated with it and that item then becomes a shackle. As a matter of fact, a synonym for “things” is “trappings.” Hmm.

Younger generations are moving toward a more minimalist lifestyle.  Older generations come from a time when you kept all of your things because at some point you didn’t have much.  How do we decide what is important and “hand-down-able”? The best heirloom is one in which the value is in the memories that surround it.  The best passing of an item between one generation and another is where the memories tied to the item are equally strong by both the giver and receiver.  Most of the time, a real heirloom has little financial value, but tons of emotional value.  Those are the best things!

What we collect, along with the things we are given, add to the challenge of staying organized.  If you are conscientious, you can have both – meaningful, wonderful things and being organized.

But I don’t love it, love it

One premise to being organized is to own things you only really, truly love.

Mmmmmm, okay.

There are certain things that you HAVE to own, right?  Plates, utensils … toilet paper.  In my case, it would be pretty much anything in the kitchen.  I don’t like to cook, and I’m not a fan of being in the kitchen at all.  So, how do you own things you don’t really love?   kitchen-cooking-interior-decor

  • Make it yours. I may not like kitchen tools, but I do have to have them.  I love things to be very colorful, so I decided that one way to enjoy using the utensils was to buy ones that are orange, blue, teal, and red.  Now I display them proudly and hope that people think I actually cook. Come to think of it, most of the things in my kitchen are colorful, even my toaster! Depending on what you are working with, a table, chair, or kitchen items like me, you could also paint, stain, reupholster, or cover it in washi tape! Go crazy, get creative, and make it your own.
  • Be honest.  Do you really need it? Cooking utensils, silverware, etc are things everybody has to have (mostly). However, if you own something and can’t remember the last time you used it, like that wingback chair in the spare bedroom, then you probably don’t love or even need it.
  • Hide it.  If you have to own it, and making it original isn’t an option, then hide that stuff.  I have never been a fan of displaying, well, much.  I like clean, clear countertops and try to keep a lot of things hidden.  The problem comes when my husband tells me that he forgets we own things if he doesn’t see them, like apples and the cat. So, we have a bowl on the counter with food in it, and the cat walks freely amongst us.  If you own something that you don’t love, don’t use often, and don’t need to be reminded that you own it, hide it away!
  •  Repurpose it. Some people keep things that they don’t love out of obligation, because it was a gift or hand-me-down or some other thing. If you have to keep the thing, ask yourself if it can be utilized in a different manner – you’re still keeping it, right?  For instance, my family gives me jewelry. I don’t really wear a lot of jewelry but I have all these pieces sitting in a box. Recently, I became friends with a wonderfully creative woman who makes jewelry.  I asked her if I could bring her these pieces of jewelry and have her fashion a new piece from it, and she said yes! By the time we’re done, I will own a completely unique necklace, made from jewelry that individually I was not likely to wear.  Win-win!
  • Embrace it. What else can I say? If you own something that you don’t love and can’t repurpose, hide, or make it reflect you – why do you own it? Secretly, you do love it and just don’t want people to know it, like a boxed DVD collection of Gilmore Girls? If that’s the case, then embrace it and love it. Be loud and proud. But really, Gilmore Girls?…

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Moving Day!

One reason people hire professional organizers for is to coordinate moving their household from one place to another.  This is popular among people with very busy lives, with a large household, or who recently suffered an injury. I, myself, am moving right now and thought it would be great to share a few tricks that I use when moving, whether myself or others.

    1. Start early. Start going through your belongings at least one month prior to your move date.  Begin by going room by room and determining if there any items you want to get rid of, especially big items or furniture.  It doesn’t make any sense to pay movers to move things you don’t actually want.  Post it for sale or donate it so that you’re ready to move only what you truly want to keep.
    2. Use boxes. Don’t make things harder on yourself by packing things up at the last minute in what ever you can find.  You will exhaust yourself unnecessarily, will increase your risk of breaking something, and will probably spend twice the amount of time than if you had just packed your  items in boxes.  Good quality boxes are fairly inexpensive at Home Depot.
    3. Use boxes unless… As stated in number 2, use boxes unless you are talking about clothes!  Use your luggage to move all your clothing items, bedding, bath towels, etc.  This can be especially helpful for moving coats or offseason items that are stored in spare closet.
    4. Label your boxes. Each box should be taped shut and labeled with: the room it goes to, what is inside the box, and the weight or special instructions.  For example: Living room-DVDs/Electronics-Heavy or Office-Decor-Fragile.  This will help you and the movers on moving day to arrange the load so nothing fragile is on the bottom or so that you can carry several boxes at one time based on how heavy the boxes are or what room they are going to .
    5. Have the proper tools.  Assemble these items together at the start of the packing process for ease: boxes, tape, marker, post-it notes, scissors, hammer, measuring tape, and bubble wrap.  Most of this is explanatory but just to make it super clear: the boxes to pack things in, the tape, scissors, and markers for the boxes, a hammer to remove nails, post-it notes for big items or furniture to indicate what room they go in, and a measuring tape in case you need to double check or make note of the measurements for a large piece of furniture.
    6. Snap a pic. If you need to remember the exact placement of an artwork collection or bookshelf set-up, take a picture before you pack it away. Then, when you get to the new place, you will be able to put it all back as it was. 

These simple things will make your move easier! You’ll be sipping wine in your new home to celebrate and not because the move went so badly you need a drink, I promise.