Organizing

Getting Things Done - a PSA

Every week when I think about a potential blog post there are so many ideas that come to mind sometimes it's hard to choose. One of those recurring thoughts is to share a very valuable "life resource" with you. I follow many blogs & podcasts and a few months ago through the "Beyond the To Do List" podcast I learned about a little book called "Getting Things Done" by David Allen.  Actually, I kept hearing the reference "GTD" and the "GTD system" that finally I just HAD to look it up.

This book isan extremely valuable resource not just for getting things done, but for streamlining your work process and get things off your mind. I figured getting back to work after having our first baby would be the perfect time for me to learn more about it. So I went to the library and devoured it within a few weeks. (I only had to renew it once - c'mon I had a 4 month old at the time!) I kept laughing at the irony of me reading about "getting things done" instead of actually just getting things done... but I knew this would transform my habits and so I wanted to learn about it before getting back into the swing of things. 

The tips & methods he details for processing information have been insanely helpful. One of the things I often felt when things got busy was that there were so many "moving parts" it was hard to keep track of the loose ends. His tips for "closing the loops" in our minds have been so valuable I've really felt inspired to adopt this system for both my design projects and my personal life. So now I feel that I should return the favor and tell everyone about it! How did I not know about this sooner?!?

So here is a link to the book and website, and below are a few of my favorite parts of the GTD system. 
gettingthingsdone.com 

 

1- Email processing

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I love his tips for creating @Action, @WaitingFor, Read/Review and Reference folders. They really help keep things organized and make sure I am not forgetting anything. I am still working towards an empty inbox but I've enjoyed processing my emails with his tips. And since I use Gmail for work, it's easy for me to tag emails directly from my sent mail so I don't forget to follow up with people I've contacted! 

 

2- Master Project List

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Here's where my "too many moving parts" problem was solved. I don't know if working from home made this worse but I had this perpetual thought pattern every time I walked through the house of all the things we needed to get done. Then I'd look at my emails, open design projects and always try to assess what needed to get done next. It was becoming a perpetual mess! By having a master project list I am able to keep an inventory of every single aspect of my life, both work and personal so I can assess the use of my time holistically. If we're planning an event at home, it takes actual time from my life and I need to take actionable steps to achieve it just like a would I client project. Which leads me to the next favorite...

 

3- Action Items

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Splitting up a task or job by actionable items might sound like a no brainer, or maybe even a waste of time for those smaller tasks, but his idea of breaking things up by Action (emails, calls, errands, agendas, etc) has been a really helpful way for me to manage my to-do's. I'm still slowly adapting to this because I used to always organize my lists by job and it feels weird to separate them. But ultimately I do agree this makes a lot of sense and will be beneficial to view all my to-do's holistically. 

 

So what do you think?

Have you already heard about GTD? Have you been using the system, or like me wish you had discovered it sooner? I'd love to hear your thoughts! I hope you found this post helpful. 

 

Cheers, 

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Useful or Beautiful - Part 3

Now that you've read how to purge & declutter, and how to smartly reduce what you bring home, I would like to share a few design tips on creating a beautiful space using what you already have.

1- Create a plan!

This is the most important step, and the first I do when I meet with a new client. Brainstorming all our ideas and coming up with an organized master plan for the room will keep your goals on track. It's important to understand how you currently use the room, and how you want to use it going forward.This information will guide any decisions you make going forward.

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2- Inspire Yourself

Sometimes it's hard to see new potential for the same old pieces in the same old room. That's one of the biggest benefits a decorator can bring to your job is a fresh new perspective! To start getting some ideas you can look on Pinterest or Houzz for other rooms that inspire you. Then look for a common theme in them, are you drawn to neutral colored rooms? Bold colored accents? Mid century style?

 

3- Try something new

After the purge, some inspiration, and a plan you will start to see your things in an all new way. Try new things with your existing pieces. It could be as simple as rearranging the furniture to create a better seating area. Or maybe you found an easy DIY idea that will help you repurpose that old side table, chair, or accessory.

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4- Fill in the gaps

Once you're set up the foundation for the room using what you already had, you'll have a better sense of what you need. Check back with your plan to see what your other goals were. How many were accomplished with what you already had? And how many need to be filled in with new purchases? If you head out shopping bring your design plan with you to keep you on track.

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5- Rotate accessories

If you have a lot of accessories you want to keep but they aren't working together, I would recommend rotating them seasonally. Keep out lightweight linens and fresh bright colors for the spring, and store your heavy blankets, curtains, pillows, carpet, and darker colored accessories for the winter.

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6- Enjoy!

Show yourself and your new space some gratitude. It may not be magazine perfect, but nothing really is. Enjoy the change you've made in your home, the new freedom from clutter, and the well planned decor you have in your home. Maybe you can even celebrate by hosting a party to show it off!

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I hope this mini series has helped inspire you to redecorate a room in you home.

Cheers,

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Useful or Beautiful - Part 2

Last week I shared a few tips on how to declutter your home by purging things you don't need or love. (click here for article). This week I will share some of my tips on how to avoid accumulating too much in the first place.

Step 2: avoid buying too much stuff!

Now this is tricky because shopping feeds into our desire for instant gratification. We are constantly overwhelmed with lifestyle ads & coupons that say "buy this and you will be happier." But the truth is that happiness may be short lived - then you're just left with "stuff". So here are my tips & strategies to help resist the temptation.

1- AVOID FLASH SALES

Yes, you can do it. Someone is always curating an enticing list of "must haves", and you surely can find some exciting deals on there. But the devil in these sites is that there is only a limited quantity and it's gone. It bullies you to buy now or forever hold your peace. So my advice is if you're not actively looking for something - don't open that email! Or better yet - unsubscribe from such emails and only log in when you are looking for something. Seriously - you will thank me!

2- Make a list

Impulse shopping is also the devil so I suggest making a list and sticking with it. At the beginning of every room redesign I work on we create goals for the room, and then define what it we need to fulfill those goals. I write up a design plan with all the details and items to buy for each client. Then I suggest to put the list on your phone, tablet, or in a program like Evernote that syncs with everything. Or just keep the design plan in your wallet.  This will keep you on task when you're shopping around and resist unnecessary purchases.

 

3- Sleep on it

If you have a few items you want or need, create a list then sleep on it. This gives yourself time to sort through your decision and prioritize your purchases.  Keeping an ongoing list of "wishes" will help you stay organized and avoid spending extra money on things you don't need. Plus it gives you the chance to change your mind without spending too much time or money.

 

 

3- Walk with it

So now you're in the store and you can't resist an item. It grabs your attention and you want it! Go ahead and put it in your basket. Walk the rest of the store with it and re-evaluate the object at the end of loop through the store. Does it meet the criteria you established for your goals? (color, category, texture, etc) If it's not perfect then put it back. Usually a walk through the store will help you sort through other options and may provide the right perspective.

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4- Photograph (or Pin) it

Another strategy to postpone a purchase is to photograph it (in person) or Pin it (if online). This way you won't loose track of it and can go back to make the purchase later. If you collect enough images then you can even create a moodboard and see how all the items will look together. This will make sure you're staying on track with your goals.

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5- Reduce time spent shopping

Many people find shopping a pleasurable experience, but perhaps it provides too much temptation to make an unnecessary purchase. In this case when you feel the urge to shop, make a list of what you want to get it off your mind, then find something else entirely different to do. Think of other hobbies that you enjoy such as reading, watching a movie, going out to eat with friends, working out, etc. There are plenty of other hobbies to distract yourself from the urge to buy!

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I hope these tips & strategies provide you with some ways to manage your purchases. What ways do you find helpful to reduce accidental shopping, and to ensure you make the right purchases for your home?

Cheers!

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Useful or Beautiful - Part 1

I'm sure you may be familiar with this quote from the well known textile designer William Morris:

"Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."


(photo credit Morris & Co)

Ahh... doesn't that sound so simple? When we think about our homes it's easy to get caught up in our consumer culture, or the latest trend and before we know it we have accumulated a mass quantity of things we don't use, or don't even like that much but hold onto anyway. Since spring officially starts tomorrow now is a great time for a little spring cleaning & a good declutter.

The ultimate goal is to pull a room together and make a few really special pieces stand out. In order to do that we need to reduce the excess clutter and simplify the surroundings! Here are a few tricks I find helpful to make the purge, and strategies to stay on top of it.

step 1: the purge

WHAT:

Define what it is that you like, don't like, or don't use. What are your goals for the room - Do you need a cohesive color scheme? Large scale artwork to offset smaller items?  Updated furniture?  Then decide what you have that doesn't work towards your main goal and put it aside. 

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WHERE:

Start with one room at a time to avoid being overwhelmed. Pare things down to what you need and like (useful or beautiful) and see if you can repurpose an item in another room. Eventually work your way through the entire house until you have a clean slate.

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WHEN:

Ideally you'll look to purge all the time. Whenever you look at something and think it should be replaced, updated, don't like it anymore etc - put it aside. Our tastes change and evolve every few years, so it's good to keep updating frequently so our home evolve with our tastes, instead of putting things off until it feels overwhelming. Doing it often and in small doses won't feel so emotionally & physically draining either. Consider purging with each change of the season - did you use all winter decor this past season or can you purge some of it?

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HOW:

Pick a method below or try a combo to see what works best for you. A big part of purging is how you feel about the stuff you're getting rid of. If you can rationalize letting things go you'll be much better at staying on top of purging!

1- Keep an ongoing donation box in your home. (my favorite)

Designate a basket or box in a small corner of your home. As soon as you grab something from your closet that doesn't fit well, or you just don't love anymore put it in there!! Same with any serving dishes in your kitchen, decorations, surplus office supplies, technology, toys, etc. The goal of this is to "temporarily" get rid of it. For many this is a much easier decision to make because it's not final. If you need to just "grab that shirt" in a pinch you can since it's still in your house. But most likely you will gradually keep adding to that donation box and then forget what you've even put in there. Then in a few months it's one step closer to the door and it's time to make a donation!

2- Donate while it's still good!

Nobody gets excited about buying anything second hand that is damaged. The trick to making a great donation is to get rid of things BEFORE they are destroyed. As you start loosing interest in an item don't feel bad about getting rid of it - someone else will appreciate it that much more!

3- Sell or consign

So you spent quite a bit on that side chair and kind of regret it? Try selling it on your own through a resource like Craigslist or Ebay. Or try finding a consignment store in the area to help you do it and share a bit of profit. This is a win-win because people love to buy nice items for a fraction of the price and the seller gets to recoup some of the cost! When I sell an item on Craigslist for example I try to research what a "new" similar item would sell for, then offer mine for about half price.

4- If you're sentimental

Take a photo of your beloved object so you can always remember it. Most times it's just the memory of who gifted the item, rather than the actual item itself that brings you joy. So snap that photo of how you used it in your home, archive it on your computer, then share with joy with someone else!

If you're looking for a creative way to document some of your items check out this website:
www.ThingsOrganizedNeatly.com

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I hope you found this post to be helpful! This is Part 1 of 3 so check back soon for more tips on keeping your objects from owning you! Also if you're interested in some local resources drop me a line - I'd be happy to share what I found helpful in the area!

 

Cheers!

     

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Crafty Spaces

I just wrapped up a consultation with a fun client who wants to turn a spare bedroom into her crafting workspace. At the beginning of each design project I like to do some research that serves both as inspiration and an easy way to talk about their needs and wants for the space.

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Once I started researching I kept finding more and more creative storage and workspace solutions! There are so many great options out there it can certainly be hard to choose. Some general things to consider when making your decision are: how long you plan to stay in your home (which will help you figure out what type of investment to make), what is your budget, who uses the space, what for, and most importantly is how do you work?

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My biggest suggestion is to create a system that works the way you do. Are you a piler or filer? Do you like to spread out to work or do you keep things confined to one desk? Do you craft solo or with a group? Do you like to do crafts in the heart of the action so you don't miss anything, or do you like a peaceful escape? Everybody works differently and there is no wrong solution. It's a ton easier to create a custom workspace that fits your style rather than changing the way you work.

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After talking through some ideas we narrowed down the essentials to scrapbook supplies, finished album storage, and the longest possible work surface for spreading out pages while working! Given this criteria I suggested getting quotes from both California Closets and Elfa, the wall system from The Container Store. Both are fantastic options and I can't wait to see which she chooses!

California Closets - craft

California Closets - craft

Meet My New Assistant!!

I knew this day was coming for awhile, I was getting the usual warning signs of an ending working relationship. You know the usuals such as unwilling to complete the requested work, lagging response time, very needy and inflexible, and generally uncooperative. We worked together for over 7 years and while they were a very valuable resource they just quit working one day. Seven years is a really long time so I shouldn't complain, but the hardest part of it all was trying to get a new assistant quickly. Good help is hard to find!! 

I made a list of requirements I desired in my new assistant such as: the ability and willingness to travel, good memory, fast, efficient, social, well connected, and the ability to crank out 3D CAD models as well as floor-plans. I wanted all this for a competitive price of course. And so the hunt began - all the while trying to do all the work myself! I spent a frustrating few weeks not finding the right match. Finally I narrowed down a few contenders but they couldn't meet the last important criteria: I needed instant availability!! After weeks of researching and reviewing candidates I couldn't wait any longer and needed to make a decision! I had to compromise a bit on the price but I will say I am extremely satisfied with my choice and so today I would like to introduce to you my partner in crime and extension of my business-self...

Bringing the Outdoors Inside Is Only Good Sometimes...

As I was gathering my thoughts for this post with Mother's Day quickly approaching I was thinking about all the different things I could show that a mom would love. Then I was thinking a mom would probably love nothing more than for her life to be a little simpler... just one less thing to take care of, right? And considering it's just the beginning of the messy outdoor season with gardening, yardwork, and generally muddy feet tracking in the great outdoors.... I thought that perhaps the idea of a mudroom could make a mom happy. A place where muddy feet stay, bags get tossed, wet rain drenched coats hung... and nothing filthy goes past this barrier so the house stays fresh and clean, ahhhh....

 

Are you with me on this? What do you think? Is this something a mom would appreciate? Here are some ideas for a mudroom that you could work into any space.

 

If you don't have alot of room for a built-in try framing out some cubbies around a window. This offers plenty of storage while still letting the light in. I would even suggest making the cubby in front of the window lower to create a window seat.

 

See how this concept puts the bench nice and low below the windows to create a seat? Cubbies with baskets neatly stacked above eachother are kept towards one side. Tile floor is easy to clean and the carpet catches all the mess.

 

If you have a cubby area or nook near the entry create an alcove for stashing your stuff. This Mediterranean design is just beautiful, look at that tile!  Try a rug by the door for wiping feet! They probably look bad in photos but they are very practical :)
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Quick Tips: Organizing the Kitchen

The kitchen always seems to be a vortex of circulating activity where things get thrown in all directions and are easily misplaced. And that can be especially frustrating in a small kitchen space! The more organization you can add to a kitchen the cleaner it will stay and the easier it will be to use it. While there are many beautiful custom cabinets with storage galore, here are a few tips that focus on small kitchens and ways to add organization without a renovation.