I’ve experimented quite successfully with habit tracker apps in the past such as Good Habits, then drifted away from them either because I just couldn’t get on board (lights out by 11pm) or the habit became so ingrained that I no longer needed to track it (meditation). As of January 1st, I seem to be making good use of an old fashioned paper calendar to track workouts.Read More
If we’re not already making an effort to practice positive thinking, we certainly are aware of the benefits. I’m not here to go into the depths of why this works, or to explain how feelings create actions that create results, but rather to show specifically how to apply this to living a beautiful life.Read More
The one sentiment I hear from clients more than any other is “I should be able to do to this on my own, but for some reason I don’t. If you weren’t here, this would never get done, and with you it’s so much more fun!”Read More
One change I’ve made since reading The Organized Mind is that I do different tasks in different places, using geography to train my brain to focus on a specific task. When you try to do everything on one computer screen in one chair, nothing gets done. Now, mindless surfing and emails happen at the dining table.Read More
Recently, this quote on Instagram jumped out at me:
Everything you have will one day be given. - Kahlil Gibran
In searching for it on the web later, I couldn’t find it. Left to wonder about Gibran’s intended meaning and context, I assigned a literal meaning.Read More
Joshua Millburn, half of the famous duo, "The Minimalists" guest posted A Day in the Life of a Minimalist on Leo Baubata's Zen Habits blog. You’ll agree that Joshua has absolutely earned the label “minimalist,” not just by buying less, but also scouring his days for superfluities, thus, finding true breathing space in his life. This is one of the most unique and inspiring “day in the life” posts I have ever read, stressing habits over routines.Read More
Maria Popova reads the greatest works of literature and non-fiction (and blogs about them) so we don’t have to! In her recent post The Difference Between Routine and Ritual she essentially provides elegant Cliff’s Notes on Anne Lamott’s book Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair. Popova, fascinated by routines and rituals, illuminates the important difference between the two in her reflection on Lamott’s Stitches...Read More
I don’t think I could either, but I’m incredibly humbled that any American can. Last week my client sent me home with the print edition of the Washington Post’s All My Trash For a Year Fit Into Two Plastic Bags: Here’s How I Did It. Author, and ultimate walker of the walk, Darshan Karwat, went to great social and consumer extremes to only fill two plastic bags of trash...Read More
This was going to be the year I broke the chain. I wasn’t going to continue the tradition of my “things I learned about organizing” post simply because I was too busy to pause long enough to reflect on such a fruitful year with clients new and old. Well, last week while driving to my client’s house in the rain, these 8 insights came to me all at once with crystal clarity. At the next stoplight, I grabbed a piece of paper and captured them. Apparently these little stories wanted to be told! I’ve been a professional organizer since 2001, and continue to learn so much each year, gleaning deeper insight into why we struggle with our spaces, and how to transform them with a change in perspective.
Here’s what I learned about organizing in 2015:
1. Rooms in Architectural Digest don’t always look that neat.
This year I had the pleasure of being welcomed into a NYC office that had graced the pages of Architectural Digest just months prior. Much to my surprise, there were things strewn on the desk, huge planning boards leaning against shiny bookcases, and true signs that a hard worker was creating things in there. It wasn’t cluttered, but it was delightfully lived-in! I was beside myself to literally be standing inside an AD page, but even more pleased to see that she too has more important things to do than clear her desk at night.
2. Sometimes you simply need more storage.
Nic, my fiance, moved in on September 1. My goal: seamlessly incorporate him without buying or building any additional storage. This was a lofty, if not arrogant goal. I just couldn’t do it. Week after week we shuffled our things, but still had piles of shoes, clothes, outdoor equipment, books, etc. strewn about. My motto that makes my clients chuckle, “There’s always room for one more thing” just wasn’t the case. There simply was too much to store. I had to admit defeat.
1. We bought a huge vintage pine trunk at a thrift store for Nic’s bulky outdoor equipment and some electronics.
2. My sister gifted me a day with her contractor. I used it to build out storage in my walk-in closet. I can’t recommend floor to ceiling 6” shelves enough! It was a risk. They’re shallow and not adjustable, but allows us to store plenty of items without putting them in boxes. We’re all so accustomed to stacking boxes, but no need with a shallow shelf.
3. People like seeing experts struggle too.
A much more minimal friend recently said, “you’re like the cobbler whose kids have no shoes.” This was during a conversation about a pit-stained shirt that had been sitting on my bedroom floor for six months. My reason for leaving things out is usually the same as yours: it represents an unmade decision. It was one of my favorite pieces of clothing: 100% gauzy cashmere, hand dyed in a vibrant pink and green. Even though it was rendered useless by unsightly pit stains, I couldn’t get rid of it, but knew it couldn’t go back in the closet.
If you have anything “sitting out” in your home, you can relate. This year I learned that I can relate to my clients an readers more than I had preciously realized. My struggle is the same as theirs (albeit, my threshold is a bit lower), and it was time to get real and voice it. The result, my minimalism video series on YouTube.
4. Focusing on what must stay helps to let go of what mustn't.
This year I got called out by someone on YouTube who didn’t agree with how I was letting go of some beautiful, (formerly) sentimental items from my past. She pointed out that I was sitting against a white wall, so my home must be stark and heartless. What I hadn’t made clear in my video was that my home is full of cherished items. Between my fiancé and me, every piece we have tells a story. Giving full appreciation for our unique things (many, one of a kind) and the experiences that brought them about makes it easier to let go of the things that no longer matter - no matter how beautiful. Full house tour coming in 2016!
5. The message behind many of your saved articles is to live better, so stop letting them hold you down.
One of my new clients this year grew leaps and bounds in her journey towards organizing her office and beyond. On day one, she made it clear however that the Oprah magazines will stay. Knowing when to pick my battles, we worked around the stacks. Message understood. On our last session of the year, she said, “Kacy, I’m ready to talk about the Oprahs.” She was right on the edge, so I had to make my case passionately, on the spot. My reply, “Why do we love Oprah so much? Because she teaches us to ‘live our best life.’ A lot of these articles are specifically about letting go, right? So, what would Oprah want you to do? Live your best life by getting rid of her magazines!” DONE. We marched out to the recycling bin together, making Oprah proud.
6. Meditation is the best tool for organizing my thoughts.
I’ve been a regular meditator for a few years now. Sometimes it’s profound, but most of the time it’s not. On average, I feel like my brain has had a shower, and I can take full deep breaths again. I shouldn’t have been surprised when I turned to it one afternoon and was blown away by the immediate results. I had been struggling with starting to plan a talk I have on the calendar. I had set aside a few hours that day to work on it but for the life of me, could not sit down. Afternoon rolled around, and I had nothing to show for it. Feeling crunched for time, I sat myself down to meditate. Twenty minutes later I opened my eyes to crystal clear focus, knowing exactly how to outline the project. In addition, I found a media request in my inbox, as well as resolve to some tricky scheduling issues I was having. Lesson learned: meditate before you feel you have no choice but to.
7. Hold an image as your organizing muse.
Nothing inspires me to live a more beautiful life than my Pinterest feed. Specifically, I’ve discovered some Scandinavian design blogs that I hold as my gold standard for how I want my home (pictured here) to look. I took leaps and bounds this year towards attaining those clean, organic, whitewashed vignettes in every room - though I still have a ways to go. Once you find an image or tightly curated collection of images, ask yourself what exactly you love about that space. What do you see? What do you not see? Be very specific, then be very, very disciplined.
8. Encourage interaction when giving organizing workshops.
It took me dozens of talks over the years to begin to get this right. I knew that the best talks I had attended were heavy on interaction, but didn’t quite know how to execute it myself. I have ways of asking my clients if they already know the answers to their greatest organizing challenges, and they usually do. This year, I had talk attendees write down lists, fill in the blanks, shout out answers and more, resulting in a handful of talks that made me proud.
What did you learn about organizing in 2015? Please share in the comments!
Click below for inspiration from years past:
I recently ran across this great quote on Tim Ferriss’ blog: “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” – Steve Jobs
Just this morning I was chatting with my yoga teacher about the ups and downs of being self-employed and told him, “It’s not that I need more time, I just need more focus. It’s incredible how much I can accomplish in an hour when I just sit still.” With that fresh in my mind, this week’s newsletter clocked in at about 1.5 hrs total - a record.
Every so often I find something amongst the papers that gives me pause. It’s the hope of finding these gems that makes it so hard for my clients to just "dump it all into the trash,” as many claim they would like to do, but know they can’t. It’s not just overdue bills we’re worried about tossing, but rather the shreds with soul that inspire and reaffirm the goals we are moving towards. My client took a few minutes to read this, her favorite poem, to me. Read Ithaka by C.P. Cavity, a beautiful poem on the journey of life, below. Sure, I could have sent you to a web link on a poetry site, but I think most of you will relate to the wrinkles and stains that give patina to the things that really matter amongst the rubble. Enjoy.
Don’t let the niche demographic of Dr. Mike Doughty’s show turn you off to this packed hour of all things productivity and office organizing. Though he appeals largely to school administrators, his questions and my answers apply to anyone looking at a desk full of paper and a bottomless to do list. Listen on Mike’s site here or on iTunes here.
Did you know that (according to Noisli.com) the wrong sound environment makes you 66% less productive? That’s why I’ve pulled together this list of resources for soundtracks that encourage focus and productivity. Unless your office windows open to a mountain stream, you’re working amidst more noise pollution than you realize.Read More
You just never know what's going to stick in your mind long after you see it. You also never know what seemingly tiny little experience will actually prompt you to change. I've struggled with being an early riser my entire life. "Early" to me is anything before 8am. The best thing about being self-employed: waking up whenever I want. I certainly don't take this to extremes. Getting out of bed after 9:30 on a weekday is just plain depressing. I am guilty of routinely getting way too much sleep though, simply because I can.
A couple of weeks ago, I saw a post on Instagram that was my "come to Jesus" moment. I didn't recognize it as such until a few days later. Something had changed. I had deleted every alarm that was set after 7:25am. I was still snoozing for about 20 minutes, but that 7:25 alarm had become my new normal. It still is, even on weekends. Knowing that alarm is coming has also completely reshaped my late nights for the better.
I've been wanting to share this with you but I wasn't able to find it again on Instagram. I've re-created it for you here. I believe that how we do anything is how we do everything. As this image states, it's not just about rising and shining. It's about being more consistent with what I preach and the life I want to live. I think it struck me because the "before" half looked so cluttered. Always seeking out ways to further declutter my life, not just my space, I had to make the change.
What kind of person are you? The left image or the right image? Are you an early riser but haven't always been so? Please share in the comments below.
Artists have some of the most creative ways of organizing their thoughts and projects. Thanks to Austin Kleon, author of Show Your Work, for recently sharing in his blog these two creatives and how they creatively use space to produce art. They're not necessarily space-saving solutions, but contain some out-of-the-box inspiration: Click here to see how artist & author Twyla Tharp uses bankers boxes like you've never seen before. http://tumblr.austinkleon.com/post/58625662398
Click here to see how film editors and writers are using the trusty, analog index card to layout their ideas.
You may remember that after the new year, inspired by Chris Brogan's post, I chose three words to shape my 2015. (Click here to read my original post on this style of new year's resolutions). They were Green, Reach, and Offline.
Let's revisit mine:
Green – This is twofold: I want to eat more green foods and spend more time outdoors.
Reach – I want to get creative in reaching more people with my work.
Offline – I won’t be taking a year off the internet, heck, probably not even a weekend, but I want to choose offline as much as I choose online.
Green – B
Reach – C
Offline – D (though I'd give myself a B+ just looking at the last month or so)
Looks like I have some refocusing to do… I need to ask myself what it would take to bump those grades up, as these three words still resonate as they did back in January. Resolutions need revisiting if they stand a chance at making a difference in your life.
Did you choose 3 words with me back in January?
If so, what were they and how are they shaping your year (if at all)? We still have 5 months in 2015. It's not too late to pick your words! Please share in the comments below.
Any chef knows (and may very well live by) the French cooking term mis-en-place, meaning "to put in place." In a bustling kitchen restaurant, mis-en-place is crucial for the chef's sanity and the timely delivery of the perfect plate. Culinary Institute of America instructor Dwayne Lipuma told NPR, "Once [students] set up their station I should be able to blindfold them and tell them ... and they should know that their tongs are always here, their oil is always right here, their salt and pepper is always right here."
If you were blindfolded, could you find anything you need in your office? Please listen to and read NPR's For a More Ordered Life, Organize Life a Chef.
The Story of Stuff video made its rounds on the internet back when it came out in 2007. I recently came across it again and it's as relevant as ever: a manifesto of sorts against clutter and consumerism, revealing the social and environmental reasons why it's crucial that we all begin to live with less. It's just brilliant. Watch the video below.
Visit storyofstuff.org to learn more
A lot of minimalism articles are just fluff, explaining its popularity without teaching the execution, which is why I liked Why Tidying Up Could Change Your Life in The Guardian. It offers 5 applicable steps for lightening your load and becoming a minimalist. Step #2 challenges readers to play the 30 day minimalism game.Here's how it works: on day one, donate/toss/recycle/trash one item. On day two, get rid of two items. Repeat with three items on day three. Repeat daily and by the end of the month you will have 564 less items! This technique has you anticipating, planning and earmarking items for tomorrow. It even has built-in accountability with #minsgame so you can share your wins with others and see pics of what your fellow challengers are chucking!
Read the article here. Up for the challenge? What would you donate/trash on day 1? Day 15? Day 30?? Please share in the comments!