Monthly Archives: November 2011

Digital Organization: The Inbox

Oh my goodness. Thanksgiving has come and gone and we are quickly heading into Christmas season. I started listening to Christmas music yesterday evening while coming home from a family celebration. Earlier this afternoon, we braved a few crowds (really, it was the drivers that were the worst part) to snatch up some “late” Black Friday deals we ran across while browsing. I say late because, well, we weren’t insane and didn’t wait in line for 5+ hours outside of a big box store (I’m looking at you, Dad) so we only go the leftovers.

Does it even really count if your Black Friday “deal” you got excited about was canned green beans and cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soup for .10 cents less than normal?

Ok, so we got a printer, too. But it was a business expense and we were planning on getting one, regardless. It just happened to be cheaper today.

Anyway, I have spent the past hour or so relaxing on the couch, using Hulu Plus to watch the Biggest Loser Thanksgiving special, and trying to gain control of one of the last bastions of super UNorganization in my life. My email Inbox.

[Insert ominous music and terrified, painful screaming here.]

I was inspired by a post by Arianne Foulks over at Oh My! Handmade Goodness I read recently on how to end each day with an empty inbox. Really, go read this post immediately if you want to get the best possible explanation. Seriously. Go. I’ll be waiting.

Are you back? Fabulous. Now, let me tell you, I’m starting with the amazing idea of skipping the Inbox for all mail that I can read at my leisure. I’m even doing it for all mail that IS important, but is easily divided into neat categories. My inbox will be the area that independent emails come to rest. In other words, a real person wrote them and I will want to see I have new mail. While emails that an automatic email created to be sent to me (from my bank, from Etsy, from PayPal, etc.) go to their respective folders, STAT!

Granted, this hasn’t been easy. Even with a separate email address for only friends, family, and legitimate legal or business-related entities, I still get mail I don’t really want to read immediately but might want to read later, and many of the emails are from a single entity that uses multiple addresses or subject line formats to send mail. So I have been creating labels and filters and grouping them together to catch all the emails from that entity. For my “wanted junk-mail” email, I’m going to even create filters and labels for Shopping. All those alluring private deep sale sites that call me to their webpage … siren song, be gone! I’ll come to you on MY terms now!

Here’s some helpful tips from my experience in progress:

  1. If you have Gmail, make use of the ability to group labels. This means you could create the label “Services,” as I have, and then create sub-labels for the different service providers you might get emails from. For instance, I’ve included my hair salon and my public library.
  2. Don’t be afraid of the delete button. If the information expires (sales, past invitations to movies or parties, etc.) it is okay to delete it. Obviously, this does not apply to any email you may need to archive, such as client requests or tax filing information.
  3. Make information gathering a one-stop or specific stop event (even if that means several different tools for different kinds of information.) Up until recently, I’ve used my inbox as my sole information deposit. Bad idea. Can you say “information overload?” I even had my blog subscriptions all sent to my inbox and emailed myself notes. I loved that I could search all content to find what I needed and I could use it at work if necessary. But now I realize that I’m suffering from information overload and I’ve finally begun using Google Reader to subscribe to blog RSS feeds–all in one place. I’m also hunting down unique ways to gather ideas, inspirations, and information. Pinterest is great for inspiration (no more magazine clippings all over the office and house!). I’ve been told Evernote is great for filing any digital information for ideas and notes, so I’ve just signed up to use it. And instead of archaic, clunky bookmarks, use a service like Gimme Bar, Snip.It, Blink List or Clipboard. I’ll share more on these at a later date.
  4. Commit to empty your Inbox on a regular basis and file away important emails that were missed by the filters. Again, delete emails that have lost informational value. Move emails to folders or labels for future reference. Make it a goal to have zero emails at the end of the day. Just look at that pretty background with no subject lines on it! Wow.
  5. Here’s a final tip I have learned from several time-management books: set aside specific times of the day to read your email (if you can, wait until your primary tasks are complete and you can focus on sorting mail as you go.) Yes, people who email you frequently will pick up on the fact that you usually reply after 2pm. That’s okay. That’s good, even! This will free you up to really focus on work and not feel at the mercy of the Inbox. I’m still working on this one.

Basically, the summary is: filter, file, delete, and schedule.

And definitely, definitely read the comprehensive how-to over at Oh My! Handmade Goodness. I promise you won’t be sorry you did.

 

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Filed under Balance, Organizing

Moving on Up!

Now that the downstairs is (mostly) set up, I’ve moved on to the upstairs. The office renovation is nearing its last steps; it is time to tackle the chaos of the guest bedroom.

Now, if I was normal (ha!) this would be the place we put a bed and a nightstand and a trunk full of extra blankets and linens, and it would all be so pretty.

I’m not normal.

So while, yes, we have left room for a bed/air mattress for future guests, I’ve decided I need space to store all the vintage goodies for my Etsy shop, Creative Salvage. So onward and upward, movin’ on up … all of my stash is going to be moved to Spare ‘Oom, as C.S. Lewis would say.

The problem is, what will I put it all on to keep it safe? I thought about this for some time. With a near-zero budget (I’m boot-strapping my itty bitty biz  for sure), I had to get creative. So, I stole some shelving from the garage and a tower of plastic drawers from our office (Daniel will never notice they’re gone. Shh. Don’t tell.) I also have an empty vintage metal cabinet I’ll snag. I’m kicking our luggage out of the closet. It will go … um … in the attic? Somewhere. And I’ll set up an inventory area and packing/shipping area. Hopefully, it will all fit.

I’m determined to have my business organized, both for our sanity and for better customer service.

And then I’m going shopping for more stock to fill the shelves and make my efforts worthwhile. Hey, it’s as good as an excuse as any.

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Filed under Bedroom, Cleaning, Closet, Organizing, Storage

Moving in Progress Update

Well, folks, it’s been three weeks since we moved into this house and one month since I quit my day job. Here’s the progress, to date:

  • Kitchen fully unpacked. Still some organizing to do.
  • Living room unpacked. We plan on purchasing a rug and selling our current coffee table/end table combo; for now, though, they are doing just fine holding up coffee and lamps.
  • Dining room mostly unpacked. I’ve been ignoring the two upright laundry hampers that hold all the odds and ends we took out of the old house in a panic at the last hour. I should probably unpack those. Oh, and Daniel would probably appreciate me moving the broken down boxes and packing paper in a trash bag out of there. Probably.
  • Bedroom has two boxes left to unpack and a ton of clothing to figure out where to put it. Maybe I’ll just take it all to Goodwill. Oh, and I am storing ALL of our wall art in the bedroom, propped against walls. Again, Daniel would probably appreciate me moving that. Somewhere.
  • Office is 3/4 painted. We just have the IdeaPaint and green accents to add. Currently, it is a little crowded with all the vintage things I’m taking pictures of for my new little Etsy shop. Oh, you didn’t know I had a new little Etsy shop? Why, take a gander by clicking on this link or the one on the top of the lefthand sidebar. Please and thank you. Otherwise, and this will sound like a broken record, Daniel would probably appreciate if I put all those lovely vintagey things back in their storage space.
  • Second bedroom (oh, how I love having a three bedroom home now!) is sort of our storage facility for the time being. It is mostly inhabited by stacks of books on the floor and a large air mattress for guests. One day it will be a clear floor and a real bed. And probably storage for my Etsy stock.
  • Outdoors. We love our new grill! It’s grill out time in the Brame household at least once a week these days, while we stubbornly hold onto the last warm vestiges of Fall in Tennessee. I should probably rake those leaves.

And that about sums it up. Our current organizational progress is mainly of the “figure out where everything goes” category. The GREAT news is that we have only 8-10 boxes, total, that are still unpacked, and most of those are crafting and art supplies that are being stored on a huge industrial rack in the garage. We really only have 4 boxes unpacked in the house itself. So, technically, we’re pretty much moved in.

I have some Craigslisting of our furniture we’re selling to do, and I have some decorating to do, and I have some cleaning schedules to figure out, but for three weeks later, it ain’t too bad to have the house in livable condition. I’m thrilled.

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Filed under Dining Room, Home, Kitchen, Living Room, Moving, Office, Painting

Happy Friday!

I just stumbled across this video and I had to share it. So creative and beautiful. And the music ain’t bad, either.

Hudson – Against The Grain from Dropbear on Vimeo.

New Clip from Hudson – Stop Motion Kaleidoscopic Fun.

The new music video for ‘Against The Grain’ from emerging Melbourne indie-folk artist Hudson sees him collaborate with film maker/animator/VJ Dropbear (aka Jonathan Chong), producing a vibrant and colourful clip based around a mainstay from our humble artistic efforts throughout childhood – coloured pencils.

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Filed under Art

Our New Office

Ever since I first began browsing through home decorating magazines (before blogs were popular) and then blogs, and then Pinterest, I have loved the look of white-on-white rooms, especially loft apartments or offices. The blank canvas of the walls would always be accented by punchy graphic prints and colorful art or quirky eclectic collections.

That’s why Daniel and I chose Behr Polar Bear white for our new office paint color. (With the exception of one wall which will be 75% Idea Paint whiteboard paint and 25% nearly-lime-green aka Behr Japanese Fern or something like that.)

Today is my man’s 30th birthday (Happy Birthday, Babe!) Last night I stayed up waaayyyy late to get our office ready for his first birthday present. He’s been really wanting our office to be completed. So I finished the last paint touches on all but the soon-to-be-whiteboard wall and dressed the place up with already existing pictures and items we had on hand.

Ta-da!

I have to admit, this is my favorite nook! The typewriter is an Underwood and was passed down to Daniel by his grandfather. The “art” is a T.J.Maxx pet placemat for the floor that I framed. The plant I got from the Nashville Farmer’s Market. I got it months ago and haven’t killed it.  This is amazing.

Slightly blurry view of the desks … sorry. Still getting used to my iPhone.

Other view of the office, birthday edition!

Print station, with Kenyan Rhino carving

Sock monkey!

Hatch Show Print find

Limited edition Princess Bride  print from Movies In Haiku at Etsy.

And finally, my favorite birthday boy in his new office …

The weather was beautiful and warm today, the leaves were gorgeous, our celebratory pumpkin cheesecake and coffee with caramel creamer was delicious, and the company was fantastic. Really, I couldn’t have asked for a better first day in the new office.

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Filed under Balance, Budget Decor, Home, Office, Organizing, Painting

Container Store Shopping Trip

My good friend, Joy, and I drove to Green Hills this afternoon to attend the Grand Opening of the The Container Store in Nashville. We were so excited; it was like early Christmas for us organization freaks. I can’t express how much I love that she and I are kindred spirits in our sense of style and appreciation of all things organizational. We wandered the store for hours, dodging the masses of people and drooling over all the shelving, kitchen stuff, office supplies, and yes, containers.

Here’s a shot of a dreamy closet I wish was mine:

Of course, we didn’t come home empty-handed. In fact, after a brief tour and demonstration of their Elfa system closet organizers, she won a $25 Elfa System gift card … and then GAVE IT TO ME. Just because she knew I could use it. Have I mentioned that I love this lady? I bought this sliding drawer system for one of our kitchen cupboards to hold cutting boards and tall kitchen-y things. Thank you, Joy. You rock.

I also bought an under-shelf hanging organizer to help with our dishes and a pot lid holder. I’m going back with Daniel soon (his birthday request. Why yes, we are pretty geeky like that), so I’m sure we’ll get more loot.

In closing, here’s a parting shot of an item I find especially appealing. My hatred of cable mess is well known to my husband. (He regularly hears me say, “I see cables! Please hide them!) So he was amused to receive this picture in text message while we shopped. Hint hint.

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Filed under Containers, Home Improvement, Kitchen, Organizing, Shopping, Storage

Chalk Board Canister Labels

I discovered a wonderful thing at World Market today. Chalk board labels. No painting! No mess! I was so excited I didn’t hesitate to pick up a pack for $3.99 + tax. Sold.

I had seen similar chalk board ideas on blogs and Pinterest and Etsy. I kept tucking them away for future reference, and I vaguely recall seeing one astonished blogger excited about labels, but until today I hadn’t seen them for myself. They are so easy to use, and since I messed up several times while writing on them, I can vouch that they rinse off easily. Just a little water wiped across the label and a dab with a towel to dry and you can re-write over them. I hope this means rinsing out the canisters for new items will be just as easy.

I’m sure you can use these in 101 other ways than I did, but I placed them on glass canisters we got as a wedding present.

Voila!

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Filed under Containers, DIY, Kitchen, Organizing, Shopping, Storage