Travel can be a stressful time for anyone.  It requires not just planning for your destination, but also planning for what’s going on at home or at work while you’re away.  To simplify things, I’d like to share a few things that I do to prepare for travel:

1.) I keep my toiletry bag packed at all times.  Aside from a very few items, I have duplicate, travel-sized versions of all my toiletries packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice.  You never know when your husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/other might want to whisk you away for a romantic weekend!  Or, as is more likely the case, when you’ll get called to a conference out-of-state and have to leave…you know…right now.

2.) Speaking of toiletries–if you go some place a lot (say…your parents’ house?), see if you can leave some toiletries there.  Almost everything that I would need is already at my Mom and Dad’s, so packing for their house is a breeze!

3.) I keep my suitcase in a moderately accessible place because my husband and I travel pretty often.  In previous posts I’ve talked about how your proximity to an item should be a sign of its usefulness in your life.  If I’m in the living room and about to sneeze, an open box of tissues in the garage isn’t going to be much help.  I need the tissues to be more accessible than that.  On the other hand, I don’t need the veritable pallet of tissue boxes that we got from BJs to be sitting on the counter waiting for me to eventually run out of the one open box.  They can stay in the garage.  We travel fairly often, so I keep our suitcases in an easily accessible storage area downstairs.  If you travel a lot–make some room in your house for your luggage.  If you only travel once a year–then maybe the attic, basement storage or shed is an appropriate place for your bags.

4.  I choose one color scheme for clothes.  It’s tempting to throw in all your favorite outfits but take it from someone who has done lots and lots of traveling–Not. Worth. It.  Choose “things that go with black” or “things that go with brown” or whatever and stick with it.  It’s easier to think about when planning to pack, and then it’s easier to put things together at your destination as well (and you don’t have to bring as many shoes–can I get an Amen?!)

5. I keep a list of things at work that I generally need to do if I’m going to be away from the office.  It has things on it like, “away phone message” and “away email message” and “forward calls.”  That way it’s less likely that I’ll forget to do something important.

Those are just a few things that I do–but I’m sure you all have ways to cope.  Feel free to share your tips and tricks for staying sane while traveling!  For information on easy travel accessories, check out The Daily Grommet


Joy to the world

There is a bright orange sticker in the stairwell of the garage that I walk through to get to work each day.  It looks like it’s been ripped off some larger, neon-orange, sticky surface.  It’s not a large sticker, but in the largest capital letters that will all fit on that small surface it says, “DON’T POSTPONE JOY.”  I have usually forgotten that I saw it by the time I get up to work, and when I leave work, I usually forget that I have seen it again by the time I arrive at my car.  Still, every time I walk up that staircase and that orange beacon catches my eye, I think it was put there just for me.  It reminds me, as I’d like to remind you, that your time really is your own and sometimes you should do the things you think are irresponsible.  You need to stay up till 3AM to watch a meteor shower, go night swimming in the freezing Atlantic with your college friends or allow yourself to fall in love in three days flat.  These are the things that you will remember, in part because they were fun, but also because they don’t belong to your routine.  I know that none of these distractions are likely to help you get more organized–but saneaty is not just being able to put things in the right place.  It’s about life optimization.

So thank you, anonymous staircase befouler, for reminding me of one of the most important lessons I may ever learn: Don’t postpone joy.

Most of us exist on a sliding scale of clutter–from “neat freak” to “slob” and there’s no better place to observe this than your desk.  I’ve often heard that, “a neat desk is the sign of a sick mind.”  I’m not sure how true that is, (personally, I think that that’s the attitude of a person who just hasn’t gotten the knack of being organized!)  but it is certainly a sign of something.  Back in October, this was sent to me (thank you Jen!) and I’m so glad to be sharing it with you now.

So who are you in this video?  Philosophically I think I’m a little Kurt Anderson.  Leave a comment and let me know!

I know it’s been a while, but I’m back just in time for Spring (cleaning)!

Anyway…I’m pretty sure that I’ve mentioned before that there isn’t a lot of storage at my house, so I decided that it was time to create more.

Down in the basement we have low ceilings with a lot of the venting showing at one end of the room.  What I did was create a “wall” out of bookcases far enough into the room to create a “closet” of sorts behind it.  I haven’t gotten a chance to really organize back there yet, but things are finally accessible.

Wall of bookshelves

All the way to the left you can see the entrance to the closet.  So behind the shelves are…

…a lot more shelves.  I guess the lesson today is, when life gives you weird square-footage…make a closet.

PS–the dark bookcases in the first picture are “Billy” from IKEA

Happy Monday

Happy Monday everyone…

When I saw this picture at House Beautiful, I knew it had to be my Friday saneaty post!  The combination of the excellent organization solution (the custom shelving units that don’t get in the way of the door) and the fact that it was employed to create a home library…well what could be better?

Well everyone, that’s all for this week.  I hope your weekends are nice…and neat!

My friend Gabriel has been talking about the tinyhouseblog for a while now, and it’s completely amazing.  The people who build and live in these spaces are pretty much my heroes.  They have chosen location and lifestyle over physical belongings–but often to what may be considered an extreme.

Take Felice Cohen for example.  She’s a professional organizer, an artist and an author and she lives in a 90-square-foot-apartment in NYC.  Check it out!

I’m not sure that I could really do what she’s doing here (I’m a little claustrophobic) but she does two things that I would encourage everyone to do!

First, she took the doors off her closet.  If you’re in a small space, this is really helpful.  It allows you to be able to see EVERYTHING that you own without having to negotiate around the opening of a door, or only seeing half your closet at a time behind a sliding door.

In addition, I would encourage you to increase your upward storage space.  Many of us have at least a couple of feet above our kitchen cabinets, our wardrobes, and other spaces.   Just because there is a top shelf, that doesn’t mean that your ability to put things there stops.  Stick another shelf up there!  Stick some boxes up there!  I keep all my hats on the tops of my wardrobes at my house (only my Hartford friends probably even realize that I own hats).  I’ve added a shelf above eye level in the dining room for extra space.

I would not encourage you to put your bed within 3 feet of the ceiling though unless you don’t mind the feeling of sleeping in a coffin.  Or maybe that’s just me.  And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you really need to watch the video.  (Thank you to Gabriel for sending it!)

Looking ahead

Looking ahead is an important part of organization, but also of life in general.  So often we’re caught up in the minutia–the plodding progress of daily activities.  When we forget to look ahead to our ultimate goals, to the bigger picture, it gets harder and harder to get through the potential toil of everyday.  At the same time, the small victories seem just that, small.  Without perspective it’s hard to see that those victories are adding up, little by little, to that which we really want–whatever that may be.  With regard to organization, ten minutes every day dedicated to straightening up may end up creating an organizational habit that becomes a part of your life and helps your peace of mind.  A written reminder by the office telephone that at 5:00 your day ends could save you a few more minutes everyday to chat on the phone with a friend or family member (instead of staying at work–which may not be the direction you would like your life to take.)

You can live day to day, but life requires that you look ahead.

Just to clarify, I care about organization, but I also care about the english language.  I had to remove the picture from yesterday’s entry because “organized” was actually spelled “organizized” and I just couldn’t take it anymore.  Never fear though–I have a new picture for you today with absolutely no spelling errors!

Here we have a pretty chic and organized space.  Shelves with baskets, a great color scheme, work space and a couch all in one.

But is it really a couch?  Look closer…

What at first glance seems to be a couch, is actually a Murphy bed.  That means that while not in use, that baby folds up and out of sight!  It is the perfect idea for any guest room that gets only moderate to little use.  Why take up all that floor space (like I currently do) with a bed that’s only used about a dozen times a year?

Well I’m not sure if you guys get as excited about Murphy beds as I do–but maybe you’ll at least be inspired by the other organizational elements in this space.  Either way, I hope your weekends are nice…and neat!

If I asked you what the number one “worst enemy” of the organizer is–you might say mail, or judging by the nearly 80 hits on my tuperware entry, you might guess kitchen cabinets.  Perhaps you would guess that it’s the “miscelaneous” closet, the desk drawer or the garage.

In truth, it is none of these things.  Where there is a will, there’s most certainly a way.

No, the number one roadblock for anyone attempting to get organized is procrastination.  “I would totally organize the office except the game’s on.”  “I would definitely find a place for the tools in the garage but first I have to do some research on the computer/go to the store/visit my family/attend this meeting…”

This is not to say that all of these things aren’t true.  Watching the game, going to the store, visiting family–those are all excellent pursuits!  But think back to how many times you’ve done those things instead of your equally excellent goal of getting organized.

So why do we procrastinate?

  • We just don’t want to do something.
  • We want to, but feel that we don’t have time.
  • We want to, but we don’t have enough information to begin.
  • We want to, but feel that we don’t know how.
  • We want to, but we don’t have the resources to do it correctly.
  • We want to, but we’re waiting on someone else.

There are plenty of reasons to wait, but waiting changes nothing.  If you can only dedicate 5 minutes a day to it–make sure you set the timer for 5 minutes every day.  If the most important thing for you to keep track of is bills–find a way to just keep those in the forefront of your mind.

Or, if your challenge is on a slightly larger scale, you can always give me a call.  It is my business after all, or as Andy says, “my deal.”