Sunday, December 4, 2011

How Do You Enjoy Your Photos?

Our final installment on photo storage and organization from guest blogger Siobhan Wolf Shaffer, photographer and Creative Memory Consultant.

How Do You Enjoy Your Photos?
The Ultimate Photo Storage 

        By now I think most people have heard the horrors of the old “magnetic” photo albums.  No magnets were involved - only PVC filled plastic film over cardboard pages covered in super glue.  The photos inside were faded, yellow, and stuck to the pages.  (If your photos are still in an album like this, I highly recommend you getting them out.  Contact me if you need help doing so.) 
        Then there were pocket page albums like the ones my mom used.  The PVC in the plastic sucked the colors right out of the photographs. When we took the old photos out, the plastic pages were tinted red. 
        Fortunately for us, today there are many options for safely preserving our photos while we enjoy them. 
        Digital photo frames are a simple way to fill your home with your precious memories.  They offer an ever changing slide show of your favorite images and can, and should, be updated often. 
        Scrapbook albums preserve your photos and allow you to tell your stories, preserving your memories as well.  We all tend to think we will remember the precious moments, the funny stories, and the exciting times.  Yet if we rely on our brains alone, we will be disappointed despite our best intentions.  That is the way of memory.  By writing down the important details alongside the photos, we can ensure that these details will be there long after we are gone.  Include in your stories the people, places, and dates associated with the photos, but also include your feelings, the thoughts you had, and any stories that are not readily conveyed by the images. 
        There are many scrapbook albums on the market today.  Be sure to look for albums and pages that are acid free, lignin free, and buffered to ensure the highest quality of photo preservation available.
        Creative Memories’ traditional scrapbook albums give you the most flexibility and room for creativity.  Design and create pages around your photos with your stories alongside them.  From simple to decorative, the choice is yours.       
        For those seeking more structure and ease, the Creative Memories Picfolio line is the perfect blend of pocket and scrapbook album.  Using Creative Memories’ Memory Manager also allows you to create the album digitally then send your files to Creative Memories Digital for printing.  When your prints arrive, they will be in the order they will go into your album.  Add a mat and journal card and you are ready to share.  (You can also create digital journal cards and have them printed along with your photos.)
        Creative Memories’ Storybook Creator is an entire suite of digital scrapbooking software that allows you to create Storybooks, simple or decorative, then have them printed and sent to you as a high quality, bound photo book - perfect for your coffee table. 
        Once you have your albums created, they should be stored, like your prints, in the living areas of your home.  They should be stored upright on a shelf the same way you would store a book.  Laying albums flat and stacking them compresses the pages.  Over time, the pages can become stuck to one another and album covers will become warped under the weight.
        In addition to enjoying your photos in albums, your photos also make wonderful artwork - not just for the refrigerator.  Enlarging and framing favorite family or vacation photos fills your home with your most precious moments.  Photo calendars, mugs, and t-shirts are among the many gift options available today.  You can even design and make greeting cards for any occasion using your own photographic images.  The options for sharing and gifting your photos today are endless.
        The most important thing to do with our photos is to finish them - print them and enjoy them.  These are the moment that have meaning to you.  That’s why you made the photographs in the first place.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Are Your Prints in a Box?

So many people ask about how to organize photo prints and the process for many of my clients begins with what I call "herding".  Gather all your photos from the closet, the buffet, the shoe box in the basement,  and the envelop the friend sent you.  Then you can begin to organize and preserve them.  Don't forget to label so you will remember what year you took the pictures. - Melanie

My guest blogger, photographer and Creative Memories Consultant, Siobhan Shaffer explains more in this part 2 of our photo organizing series.                     

Are Your Prints in a Box?
                                 By Siobhan Wolf Shaffer

        All those prints and negatives from the film days along with prints from our digital images have to be stored somewhere.  Where are yours?  In a photo box from the craft store?  In a plastic bin?  In a cardboard box in storage?
        Once our images are printed, there is nothing that can stop them from degrading in quality eventually.  There are, however, a lot of things we do with our prints that accelerates the degradation process.
        Cardboard boxes, and many photo boxes, are filled with acid and lignin.  Acid, found in paper, and lignin, a component of the wood from which paper is made, are in all paper products unless they are specifically removed.  Acid will eat away at photos causing them to fade.  Lignin becomes dry, brittle and yellowed over time.  If you’ve seen old photos that are yellow and faded with cracks in them, then you’ve seen the effects of acid and lignin. 
        If your photo boxes are archival quality yet do not have a buffering agent added, even the envelopes from the photo developer placed into the box will introduce acid and lignin into your photo storage environment. 
        Most plastics are made with PVCs.  Unless your plastic bins are labeled PVC free, the PVCs in plastic will also negatively affect the quality of your photos over time.
        Temperature and light are two additional factors that affect photo preservation.  High temps and humidity speed up the chemical reactions that cause photos to degrade.  Direct sunlight does the same.  I’m sure you’ve seen what happens to a newspaper when it’s left sitting in the sun, even for a short period of time.  The same thing happens with our photos. 
        Given these factors, it is important to make wise choices when storing our photographic prints in order to slow down the aging process.  
        Choose storage boxes made from photo safe plastics (PVC free) that have compartments inside that allow you to remove the photos from the developer’s envelope.  The box should have a lid that sits down over the top of the box sealing it to keep light and dust out as well.   Prints should be stored standing upright which allows air to flow around them.  Laying prints on top of one another compresses them together and over time they may become adhered together.  
        Creative Memories’ Power Sort boxes are designed with these specifications on mind.  Each Power Sort box contains smaller, lidded compartments that allow for easy storing and organizing of your prints.
        Once you have chosen a safe storage box, you have many organizing options.  You can sort and store them chronologically or by event, location, or family member.  Storing vacation photos together allows you to locate those quickly and easily when you are ready to put them into albums.  If you are also storing digital images, carrying that organization system over to your physical prints is a great idea - then whether you are looking for prints or digital files, you will know exactly where to find them.        
        Once your prints are safely stored and organized, what should you do with the storage boxes?  I have found photos in attics, garages, and basements.  None of these are good choices.  Attics become ovens, baking your prints and speeding up the aging process by adding extreme heat.  Garages are subject to wide temperature swings, increased moisture levels, and are also vulnerable to rodents and insects.  Basements, unless they are finished and have a dehumidifier running, are too damp.  Your living space is the best temperature and humidity for storing your photo boxes.  Think of it this way - if you and your family are comfortable, your photographic prints will be, too. 
        Organizing and storing your print may seem overwhelming, but if you put a system into place and start with your most recent photos, working your way backward to your oldest prints, you will be doing yourself a huge favor.  Each time you develop prints, add them into your storage system right away.  This way you’ll never get behind in safely storing your photos again. 
        Wondering what to do with all those prints once their organized?  Stay tuned.  

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Digital Photo Storage: Where are Your Photos?

I find photos everywhere. People say they cherish their photos and that they are irreplaceable, but the evidence tells me that is not really the case. 

I asked Siobhan Wolf Shaffer, professional photographer, and Creative Memories consultant to be my guest blogger on this the first of a three part series on photos.  

Where are Your Photos?
by Siobhan Wolf Shaffer

When I asked this question of people less than 10 years ago, I would get answers such as: They’re in a shoebox under my bed.  or They’re in the envelope from the developer on the top shelf of my closet. or They are still in the film cannister waiting to be developed.  In this day of digital cameras and iPhones, the answer is more likely to be: They’re on the memory card; I just buy new ones when one fills up. or They’re in my phone.  or They’re on my computer.  

Either way, then and now, we take pictures because we are moved by the moment and then we don’t finish them.  We don’t print them and put them into albums where they can be enjoyed.  We don’t load them into digital photo frames and place them on display. We don’t enlarge and frame them and hang them on our walls.  It is easier than ever to make 
photographs, but with our busy lives, it is hard to follow through with preserving those images. 

I am personally guilty of not loading up my digital picture frames.  I have two of them, still in the box, waiting for my attention.  I do, however, have a good number of my favorite shots of my girls hanging on the walls of my home.  I also have a cabinet full of traditional scrapbook albums that I created when my kids were toddlers.  None of this would be possible for me if my photos weren’t kept where I could find them and organize them for easy access.  

I recommend creating a digital photo file in your computer and organizing it in a way that makes sense to you.  Creative Memories Memory Manger 3.0 ( software is my choice because I love the simplicity of the file system and the ease of use.  Every time I finish an event where I’ve taken photos, I import them into the Memory Manager and place them in the appropriate folders within the software.  There is even a place for me to tell the story of my photos and save it right with the image.  Doing this while the memories are fresh in my mind allows me to remember the important details that I might otherwise forget.  There are a number of other digital photo organizing programs available and you can check out Picasa or the My Pictures section in Windows (or do a Google search for Photo Organizing software) for other options.

Once you have your system in place, make it a habit to download your images every time you use your camera.  The same can be done with images taken from your phone; transfer them into your photo organizational system.  Memory Manger reads the date information from your digital files and sorts the images chronologically automatically.  Filing can then be done by event type (Pumpkin Patch, Christmas) family member (Mom, Grandma), or location (Disney World, Hawaii) which will be easier to find when you go back to look for them.  Leaving your images sorted only chronologically with camera generated image file names (like IMG24563) is not helpful when you need to find a specific event or person's photos later on. 

The last step in organizing your digital photos should always be to backup your files.  You can burn the images onto CDs or DVDs.  You can invest in an external hard drive and copy your digital files (preferably in the organized form) to this drive.  You can use online services that provide backup space for digital media.  Whatever you choose, make it a system that you will use and use often.   In fact, if you make backup the final step in your digital image organizing processes, you will guarantee the safety of your images should you ever experience a computer failure.  

Putting a system into place for managing your digital images is necessary in order to then be able to fully enjoy those images later.  More on what to do with printed photos, and enjoying photos in my next installment.

Siobhan Wolf Shaffer has been an Independent Consultant with Creative Memories for ten years.  She is available to assist with your photo organization and preservation needs.  Receive 20 FREE 4x6 prints at by using her CM ID 41373165.  Feel free to contact her at  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Who needs a Professional Organizer?

The other day, a caller told me she thought she might need help with organizing, but she was worried if she told people that she was hiring a professional organizer, they might think badly of her. They might think she is a hoarder. They might think she is unable to manage her life and all my stuff.

Not so, I assured her.  Lots of people need and use the services of professional organizers every day.
We work with all kinds of people. My clients are doctors, nurses, teachers, artists, rabbis, pastors, government officials, bakers, philanthropists, moms, designers, store owners, realtors, lawyers, bankers. scientists, engineers and retired people. ( And I only thumbed through my client files to the letter L to get that list.)  They are smart and creative people.  They are caregivers, who get behind on maintaining organization while trying to make doctors appointments, and run two households. They may be people who help moving boxes because of age and injury. They are busy executives who don't want to spend every weekend organizing.  They want to have expert help so that it takes a fraction of the time and they can do things they really enjoy.

You wouldn't think badly of someone hiring a personal trainer to improve their fitness. Professional Organizers specialize in helping people improve the quality of their life by managing their space, time and stuff. Smart people, I think, who see a problem and refuse to be a victim of the current state of affairs.  Who can honestly think badly of someone for that?

My caller, after her first appointment, wishes she wouldn't have waited so long to get started.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Paper Organizer to Cheer About

Paper management is the number one organizing problem. For top of mind papers, my favorite is a table top file with hanging files to hold active items.  The categories are up to you, but it's great for coupons, tickets, invites, phone call notes to follow up on, receipts, bills to pay and so on.

New product for those files from Smead. Stadiums and theaters use tiered seating so everyone can see.  That's the idea behind the new stadium file.  It says it holds 900+ sheets. That's a lot!--Way more than I recommend on a counter top, but good to know.  It has 12 pockets that you can drop files in. It also comes with labels for months, days, alphabetizing, household categories like utilities, and blanks. I like the rising tiers so all the tabs can be visible.  I think you could even drop in color coded, 2 pocket folders to hold papers that you want to stay together in transport like ones you might be grabbing for a meeting.

It would be really useful for getting and staying organized for managing papers in a Mom Command Center (where you run the world). Round up all those papers and sort.   Decide what categories apply.  Maybe you need files like one per child for school papers, or per activity like soccer schedules, or dance recital details. Add files for church groups, recipes, coupons, or receipts. Edit these files for outdated events every couple weeks.
From the front row to cheap seats, I like the Stadium File.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Shabby Sheets

C'mon...You can do better.
If you can get your nails done, go to a concert or can afford to dine out, you can do better.  There are a few household items that we seem to compromise on when buying initially and hang onto even when the item is shabby.  Each has a life cycle. Somebody asks what you want this holiday season, ask for gift cards to upgrade these items.

1- Brooms- They work best when the broom straws all hit the floor evenly. Buy it for the kitchen and rotate it to the garage and porch/sidewalk. Discard before it resembles the one Dorothy brought to the Wizard to prove the Wicked Witch had died.

2- Towels- Often on sale at department stores, with coupons they can be had for less than $10.  Frayed edges, and holes should send them to the rag pile, car washing, or pet bathing. (Keep in mind though, you only need keep a finite number of rags)  You use them daily so get ones you like.  Color code them by bathroom or get all one color to get that hall closet that you see in magazines. 

3- Sheets- A couple sets per bed perhaps a seasonal change. Don't hang on to ones that are stained, torn, pilled, or if they fit a bed size you no longer own. Lots of linen closets are bulging with sheets way past their prime, unused and taking up space.  A few years ago, I realized that I spent roughly one third of my life in bed, and I spent less on my sheets than dinner out one evening. Hmmm...that's bad math. It was a great anniversary gift to ourselves to swaddle ourselves in luxury. 

Life is too short to hang on to shabby sheets and ratty towels. Time to trade up.

What do you find yourself hanging on to when you know it is really nearly worn out?  I make exceptions for robes and jeans. How 'bout you?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Planning a Change: Paper or Electronic Calendars

"Let me get my planner and check and see what's on the calendar."

I have always had a paper calendar. I just prefer paper. It's got that tangible, put-my-hands-on-it feel.  In the past, I have used Day Runner, Filofax, Planner Pads, and WeekDates.  Any calendar will work if you use it.  Having more than one calendar is worse than no calendar at all since you will miss half the events.  Even when I thought I was techie cool, because I was editing my calendar on the computer--I was still printing a copy to carry or post on the fridge.  I discovered Google Calendar years ago and tried to get my family to check for days that we were committed to an appointment or activity, but they wouldn't bite. They'd just ask me and I'd have to print it out.

Until...cue the scary music, I got my new tablet. It has great ways to sync contacts, appointments and maps. It just takes a little getting used to.  I decided not to ease myself in slowly like getting into a chilly pool a little at a time, but rather jumped in with both feet tuck up in a cannonball. First, there was the data entry. I entered birthdays, vacations, appointments, and meetings for the rest of the year. I kept forgetting to click done and would have to start over again. Sigh.. stick with it girl. Finally, I closed the book on my faux leather planner and tucked it in a drawer...well... just in case this didn't work out.  I was a little uncomfortable for a few days. Each time something came up, I entered the new appointments getting a little faster each time.

Trying any new system for organizing space or time is a process of reorienting yourself.  There may be some discomfort in letting go of old ways. It takes commitment to embrace something new.  I'm happy to say, I'm doing well with this new system. I can check the calendar on my phone, tablet, or laptop.  I feel secure about being able to find appointments AND I can even use a "search" feature if I want to find an appointment that I don't remember.
My nervousness at the beginning of this transition reminds me of a client who was resisting my suggestions that she not print so many of the recipes that she had found on-line.
"But, but, what if the whole internet system collapses?", she said fearfully.
"Then what to fix for dinner will not be our biggest problem!"

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What's in my closet?

People always say to me, "I bet your house is really organized". And it is... but it doesn't look like a Martha Stewart magazine photo.  Organizers have stuff too. We have families who sometimes grow weary of our organizing ways. Our homes are not sterile, but they are organized.

Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Expert, Krista Colvin, of Organize the Whole Shebang features the homes of several professional organizers in her latest blog series "The Organizer's House".

So want to see MY hall closet?  C'mon, let's go over to Organize the Whole Shebang and see.
The Organizer's House...Featuring Melanie Dennis

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Organizing Your Summer Travel

Ahh, the summer vacation. Whether you fly or drive, it's going to go much smoother with a little organization.  I am a little bit of a travel junkie and am the happiest planning a trip.  How do you handle all the printouts?  Genius idea from the folks at Smead is a Travel Organizer.  (see photo below) It has a front Velcro pocket for your receipts or boarding pass, and tabbed sections for maps, directions, car rental confirmations, hotel reservations, itineraries and more. The front is clear, left side and bottom are sealed and there's a right hand side flap that keeps the papers safely inside. They are sold in sets of two.  Smead even has Travel Tips for gathering your information.

Other useful tools for making your vacation run smoother:  I recently discovered and used it to generate a packing list that I can print each time I need to pack my suitcase.  You could make lists for each family member to pack his or her own suitcase.

Things don't always go as planned.  Take a flexible attitude. The things that don't go perfect make the best vacation stories. Pack a few things to help deal with the unexpected.
Always pack your bathing suit in a carry-on because it's easy to buy T-shirts and shorts at the department store at your destination if your luggage is lost, but a bathing suit purchase is more complex and even impossible if it is late August and the stores a hawking school supplies and jackets.  And if your room is not ready, you can slip into your suit and wait happily at the pool.
Other handy things to have in your carry-on:
-A few granola bars or snacks in case you are delayed. No sense in being grumpy and hungry.
-Playing cards, small games, or electronics. Sometimes you just have to wait and you might as well have a little fun.
-Ziploc bags-all sizes. They are great for all kinds of things from seashells to wet swimsuits.
If you are flying and you aren't a frequent flier, please note the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) still has the 3-1-1 guidelines for liquids in effect.  I am often surprised by how many people are completely unaware of this. Yes, this really means you cannot carry-on your family-sized Suave shampoo or giant bottle of No-Ad sunscreen.
Wishing you safe and organized travels this summer!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What to Keep? Your True Self

It's true.  I got MacGyver skills.  In half a century, I have amassed a wonderful array of skills that I bring in to play as the situation dictates.  Water main break at the beach house?  I know we can flush the toilet using a bucket of water from the pool. (This skill comes from a summer job mopping floors.)  I have a penchant for power tools, have canned foods from my garden, scrap-booked, scuba dived and traveled.  My skills have come from hobbies, jobs, and life experiences. It's like a Swiss Army knife, some tools for work and some tools for fun (wine opener), and you bring each one out when the occasion arises.  They are part of who I have become, but do not in themselves define me.

I said all that to tell you this.  You can let go of things from your past, because the events, memories and skills are now an inseparable part of you.   If you have traveled, you do not need save every scrap of memorabilia from that trip. Keep one ticket from the Disney World extravaganza, not the parking pass, not the brochure, and not the map.  If you love to cook, not every cookbook or recipe is equally important to keep.  Build your own book of favorites and search on-line for new ones. If you like sports, keeping every issue of the magazines doesn't make you more fit or a better player.  If you got your degree, keeping your old college textbooks and notes is no longer necessary. If you are reading this blog, you are most likely able to navigate well enough on-line to get the information you need when you need it.  The beauty of the Swiss Army knife lies in its simplicity and compactness.  Lots of tools in a small space.

So go forth, and free up space.  Empty closets. Clean the shelves. If it is not who you are now, let it go. Let go of the canner and Mason jars, you have nothing to prove by keeping it in the basement.  Let go of the roller blades, and the dusty camp gear.  Been there. Done that. Don't need the T-shirt!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Motherhood Induced ADD: Moms Struggling with Organization

 A few weeks ago Cindy (not her real name) called to ask me if it was possible to suddenly begin suffering from ADD.
"What do you mean by that?" I asked.

"I find myself running around, busy the entire day, not finishing tasks, forgetting about others, and I am worried about what is happening to my children, my business, and my house. I keep dropping things in boxes and bags in the basement thinking I will sort it out later. I could be becoming a hoarder too."

When I met Cindy, she had recently married and just begun a family. Today, she has four adorable children, her own business, and a multitude of other responsibilities. 
Of course she feels frazzled, who wouldn't?  

"Here's an example." she continues. "I'm fixing dinner, then I remember that the school bake sale is tomorrow.  I get a cake mix out, then the phone rings.  The automated message tells me I evidently have scheduled a pap smear for Thursday.  I reach for my planner to confirm and see my keys on the counter. I remember that there is still a few groceries in the car. In the driveway, I think I might as well get the mail while I am out here.  Oh look, the Pottery Barn Kids catalog...Wait!... Is something on the stove? So what do you think? Do I have ADD?"

I think that she may be on to something. I submit that Motherhood-Induced ADD may be a real thing. Before she had a family, she had large blocks of distraction-free time after work to exercise, run a little eBay business on the side, and tackle organizing projects. Now, she delights in a five minute hot shower. I want to tell her that Adult ADD/ADHD symptoms can improve with a good diet, sleep, organization and time management...

But she doesn't wait  for me to answer before she continues.
"Did I tell you about the spring thaw?" she said.
"Yeah, since it has gotten warmer, my van is beginning to stink. I went to the backseat and  between all the boosters, and  car seats, books, and toys there are rotting french fries and snacks. The winter chill kept everything frozen and now it's thawing."

Do you think Motherhood-Induced ADD might be a real phenomena?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Children's Paperwork- Organizing Mantras

Children's school papers really stump many of my clients. What to save?  How to save? The whole "Tiger Mom" media craze had many of my clients wondering how much should they be saving of their child's art and paperwork.  If they save totes full of paper, are they obsessive?  If they toss them, are they heartless?  The Tiger Mom was ruthless, driving her children to achieve, and tossing artwork that was not perfect. Not the parenting style of most people I meet. Ultimately, you always have to do what feels right for your child and your heart. Here are a few of my mantras to consider. Once you frame your thoughts you can establish your own rules to make the daily decisions simple.

"The learning is in the doing and not in the keeping."  Children learn color wheels, fine motor skills, perspective and so much more from art classes. Tossing an art project will not take this away. Most of us master multiplication, phonics (do they even call it that anymore?), and penmanship.
"Thank goodness that snowmen and sandcastles aren't forever." They disappear. This does not stop us from making them, from teaching the next generation how to or appreciating them while we have them.
"What kind of mother -in-law do you want to be?" Do you really want to bring 12 totes of paper to you child and their new spouse in their new home? Enough said.
"I don't recommend saving anything with macaroni, leaves, rubber bands, sugar cubes, cotton balls, or glitter."  These either do not age well or may attract insects and rodents.
"If it is 3-dimensional or poster board sized...take a picture of it."  It is unlikely that any 20-something wants a diorama of a book report.
"Any All-About-Me reports with photos are always a keep as are hand-prints." Organizers can be sentimental. I'm a mom too ya know.
"We have to recycle this paper so other kids can color and their Moms can make grocery lists."  Teaching children that paper has a life cycle and we can only keep a small portion is a good thing.  Help them choose the best. Praise them for deciding.

Finally, picture you and your child in the future (that is what saving is about), sitting on the sofa,  looking through a box of memorabilia, telling stories, laughing, tousling their hair.  Hey, that was fun... Do you really want to say, "Yes dear,and we have still have 30 more boxes to look through."?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Guess Not

Remember this game?  You flip the cards over to find matching pairs.  No match? You have to remember where it is if you need it later.  My daughter Leah, with the photographic memory, was amazing at this game.  Actually, she didn't see why we were bothering to play this game, but it amused her that I couldn't remember where the matching cards were. Kids like knowing more than adults which explains the riddle phase in about first grade and pretty much all of their teen years.  But back to the game-- I don't like guessing.

Guessing where something belongs is not in the fiber of most professional organizers.  We are all in love with our label makers. My linen closet has labeled bins of first aid, dental, and  travel sizes. My kitchen desk area has little drawers labeled glues, tape, and cords. My dog has a labeled bin of pet supplies.  I know some people may be rolling their eyes and find all this labeling to be a little too OCD.   I have to argue that it is great communication for everyone in the house to find and return items when the space is claimed and labeled. No one should have to open every drawer to find the tape. Labels mean you know where to return the item when you are done using it.

Every so often my job takes me to a garage or basement with stacks of totes and boxes.  Sometimes the boxes are not labeled.  Sometimes the boxes are labeled incorrectly (and sometimes the boxes have been moved multiple times and never unpacked, but that is a story for another day.)  Often the lids are separated from the boxes following great searches that resemble the memory card game.  But after we dig in, sort and purge all the totes, consolidate, and find zones in the room where the totes belong, I whip out my labels and label maker. Storage should not be a guessing game. This family will be harmonious this fall when she asks "Honey, could you bring up the Halloween decorations?" and he can be successful finding them.
No guessing. Game over.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I figured I would get to this topic sooner or later.
Bonus time. Two days of weather-related cancellations gave me lots of extra hours to get things done. Woo-hoo!  I wanted to get a blog entry done. Good, I think. I'll write it on my to-do list along with exercising, cleaning bathrooms and ironing. It will happen today.

Day 1 What happened:
I chatted on Facebook and Twitter, talked on the phone to an old friend, played scrabble on my netbook, ironed, cleaned the bathrooms, organized my utility drawer (maintenance really), played Angry Birds on my Droid and watched all 8 installments of "Pillars Of The Earth" on Netflix. Because the bad weather was going to continue another day, I rescheduled both clients. I check my list and decided I'll do the blog and exercise tomorrow.

Day 2 What happened:
I cooked a great breakfast, ran an errand, emptied the dishwasher, purged some old files in my filing cabinet, logged all my continuing education hours from last year, chatted on the phone with my sister, sharpened all the pencils in the house.... Wait!  What am I doing? Then I had an epiphany. I really like how I feel when I have finished writing a blog entry. I really like how I feel when I exercise. Why am I procrastinating?

I did a little research. I am not lazy nor do I lack ambition. I was clearly busy all day. There were articles that suggested low self esteem, perfectionism, inability to make decisions, or perhaps, the task is unpleasant. This may be true for some people. but for me--Nope, Nope and Nope. Turns out we all do it at one time or another.  Yes, even Professional Organizers procrastinate. Science Daily's definition of procrastination is "the deferment or avoidance of an action or task which requires completion by focusing on some other action or task."  That's exactly what was happening.

The answer for me was in the focusing.  The snow day made my day unstructured.  I needed a plan on how to avoid procrastinating and take action.  Action plans require verbs. These are my verbs.
Zeroing in on what I specifically wanted to accomplish.  (Write the blog entry.)
Deciding exactly when it was going to occur. (Now!)
Creating the conditions that will make it happen. (Sitting at my desk, phone off and distractions removed.)
Envisioning the end result. (Scratching it off my to-do list.)
Ok, that is not acronym worthy, but the job got done.  I am now going to apply this to the exercise thing...maybe later.