What chefs can teach us about organizing

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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

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

2 New Additions to the Filing Hall of Shame

Please help me in welcoming two new additions to the Inspired Office Filing Hall of Shame!  You can imagine my excitement when my client and I unearthed these two gems from a filing system that hadn't been purged in at least 5 years.  Consider these to be examples of how not to label a folder!  Why exactly?  They're just glorified piles, telling us nothing specific about the contents. The good news is that anything in these folders self-expires after even just a short amount of time.  We had a good chuckle and tossed their mysterious contents in a matter of minutes.  Don't know where to start purging your own files?  Hunt and peck through your office for any vaguely titled folders and envelopes.  Trust me, you can blindly toss the contents.  If they once were "important" or required "action," their ship has sailed and you're surely onto bigger and better things. Need more examples of unhelpful labels?  Check out the original Filing Hall of Shame here! Do you have folders worthy of the Inspired Office Hall of Shame?  Please share!  Email me pics and you too could be a member of the esteemed club of folks who are swiftly moving towards a filing system worthy of the Inspired Office Hall of FAME!  This is all in good fun.  My clients all know that their folders are lovingly showcased here and have graciously offered to serve as examples!

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A Clever Little Product To Organize Your To-Do's

This video is a follow up to my previous post An Odd Office Organizing Product & Proof That it Works. I've used it many times since, and shot this short video in Alabama last week  to give you a tour of my client's pockets, what they are labeled, and exactly how they are helping to zap miscellaneous stashes and undone to-do lists.  I was coming down with a cold, so forgive my quiet little voice!  Every word was a struggle, but I powered through in the name of organizing!

Purchase your pocket folder here.

What categories would you put in a pocket folder?  Would you keep yours in one place or carry it with you between work and home?  Is this a solution you could see yourself using? Please share in the comments below!

How To Dismantle (And Love Again) A Beloved Collection

  Once upon a time in crawl space sat a treasure box.  Well, a treasure box disguised as a Tupperware bin.  Up until last weekend, it housed more than thirty batik fabric pieces I collected during my trips to Bali, Indonesia - last trip being in 2002.  I consider them to be some of the most beautiful things I own, attached to so many beautiful memories.  I bought them with intentions of cutting them up into so many projects, but there they sat, eternally folded, lonely, and probably missing Bali too.  Recently, I asked myself, “How special is an object if it never sees the light of day?”

A few years back I turned my most beloved antique one into two pillowcases that I now sleep on every night.  This is the one that I would have liked to preserve as if it were the Constitution in the Archives.  It was the softest piece of cotton I’ve ever touched and begged so many questions about who wore it.  It’s so much happier under my head though, and I’m so much happier being reminded of my trips every time I go to bed.  The rest remained boxed tight in the dark.

Many of you know I’ve been on my own personal decluttering bender lately.  First it was the Domino Magazine collection, then it was my only bookcase, and this recent attack was on this fabric collection.  No one is safe here at Planet Kacy.  You should see what I just did to my cook books….  So there the remaining thirty some batiks sat.

Even though I have enough storage space, my inner organizer is always nagging me to keep it as empty as possible.  Being your own professional organizer comes with a lot of chatter upstairs.  She constantly nags, “If it’s stored, why do you need it?  If you never see it, why is it there?  Yes you have beautiful things tucked away, but aren’t your favorite things already out?”  So a few weekends ago I gave in and brought out that box.

Like most organizing projects, parts were harder than I thought and parts were easier than I thought:

Batik sorting
Batik sorting

The hard parts:

-       The beginning.

-       All of the “But this one is so beautiful!” moments.

-       Remembering details about purchasing each and every one.

-       Deciding which first few pieces would go.

The easy parts:

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- Deciding which ones would go (these on the right) after getting my sea legs with letting go of the first few.

- Pretty containerizing at the very end for the pieces I kept.  I repurposed a stray jumbo apothecary jar.

- Coming up with some rules.  Let it go if it’s:

- Machine made (as opposed to hand-dyed).

- Pre-fabricated for a piece of furniture I don’t own (ie: a square tablecloth)

- Was a gift and I’m only keeping it because it’s a gift.  I cherished that gift long enough, right?  Nobody said we have to keep gifts forever.

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So in the end, I was left with a mostly empty box, a beautiful one-of-a-kind display, and ten batiks to sell.  I can enjoy these pieces instead of bemoan the space they take up.

What are you “hoarding” that is too special to use?  Is it note cards you picked up overseas?  Is it a pen that was gifted to you?  Is it a collection from your travels that you thought too beautiful to display in your office?  Do you have a collection in mind that you can dismantle, condense, and finally start enjoying?  Please share in the comments!