Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Double Rainbow

Double Rainbow
Originally uploaded by shadowink
Another view of the amazing rainbow I saw on my way to see SARK - Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy.
Found at


I don't know if it was picked from a hat or what I wrote, but I'm the grand prize winner of a creativity consultation with my writer-muse SARK.
I got the email yesterday and found a way to get to her book signing last night because of it.
Here is my squiggly drawing of SARK at the book signing.

On the way, I drove through drizzle and rain and came off the highway to sunshine and the most incredible rainbow over Atlanta that I had ever seen. (this is an actual photo of the rainbow, found on
Of course I could say it was a sign of some kind.

I slowed down to a stop light and looked at the car next to me.
I caught the woman's eye.
I mouthed "rain-bow" and pointed.
She smiled so big and mouthed - "I know!" nodding her head with enjoyment.
Every driver was looking.
It was so incredibly bright, and a perfect arc like a colorful gateway to see my muse and inspiration.
Wow moments rarely happen like that.

More on the event in my next post.

The Organized Writer

I have been a SARK follower for years and years.
I always imagined that she lived in a cluttered, messy, colorful, wild space full of toys and tzatchkes to give her inspiration (of course).
In her books, she is often discussing procrastination and avoidance...and how to avoid avoidance, so I just assumed she was disorganized.
So when I went to the book signing for her new book last night, I asked her. I wanted to know what her clutter issues were.
It was a big surprise to me to find out the truth:

She confessed to the crowd that she is coming out:
She is creative AND she is organized... like uber-organized!
She said, quote - " I am wildly creative AND organized."
"If I ever get married, it will be at someplace like The Container Store."
And this is from a woman who is about as right brainy as it gets!!

SARK also said she doesn't talk about it and I inferred that it is because being organized is sometimes mis-perceived as NOT being creative.

More organizing quotes from SARK, the queen of napping and juiciness:

On time: "There is no such thing as not enough time. It's an invention of the mind."

On perfectionism: "Allow it - then allow it to change form. Do more things badly and see that there is no consequence and no one cares."

On getting help from others: We can't solve the problem with the same mind that created the problem in the first place" - quoting Einstein's phrase:
"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."

Photo is of SARK blessing me with her big purple crayon (as in Harold and the Purple Crayon.)
Between the rainbow and the blessing I just know I'm going to have an interesting year!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Color Coding vs. Using Color

Creative, visual, sparkly people love to use lots of color when organizing. (like colorful paper trays)
And there are lots of people who recommend color coding methods to stay organized.
The two are not the same thing.
Using color is not the same as color coding.

Color coding is making color significant and giving it meaning.
It is usually done in order to separate parts of your life and make the sections easily identifiable at a glance.
For instance: my home files are purple and my business files are orange. Or if using desk trays: green for to-do, blue for to file, white for in-box, etc.

Using color is when you add a dose of color to make a boring situation less boring. Or even to make it exciting! Weeeeee, colored paper trays!

I love using color and patterned products to jazz things up.

And I don't recommend doing much color coding for most of my clients and I'll tell you why.
I think it is just more difficult to keep up.
Maintenance is usually a challenge for right brainers (and many moooooorrrre).
When you color code, you then have to keep a stockpile of those colored things around and store them.
It means having a stack of colored files in all your colors so you have some when you need a new one.
It means colored pens for the calendar (withing reach).
It may mean colored towels, colored notebooks, and on and on.
No problem for the organized lefties.
For us righties - you gotta be kidding.
Does color coding work for many? Sure. I'm not saying it doesn't work. It's just more work.

My mother had an organizer (she has actually had 9 now, including me) and this organizer had her compartmentalize her office and do special labels for the files to color code them. Now she is chronically disorganized with paper. So organizing them in a complicated way is, well, too complicated. She had to hunt down those special labels every time she wanted to make a new file. Looking for the labels was enough to make me stop and say hmmmmm. Didn't the oranizer know upkeep is not her stong suit? Eventually the color coding was abandoned. She still has remnants of that original system, but now she just writes on the files as is (or gets her organizer to).
See a video on how to color code here

To all the Righties who are not the best at maintenance, filing, putting away, complicated systems - my best advice is this: Keep it simple. If a process sounds like it takes more than one step or two easy ones, think twice about it.
Take the lid off the hamper
Use open topped bins
Keep you most used files in open carts or crates so you don't even have to open a drawer.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Structure for Creatives

Structure stinks. Whenever I add formal structure to my day, my inner rebel sticks out her wicked tongue and gives me a raspberry. Thbfffft!

I know that structure and routine bring freedom from worry, and yet I can't stand the thought of being tied down to a time just because I said so.
(Self parenting is even harder than parenting real kids.)
Even when I write down "make calls" at 3:00-3:30pm, I won't follow my own instructions.

If you're anything like me, you may like the "blob" method. Or you can call it "block" if you want to be all like that.
The blob method goes something like this:

  1. Make a list of the stuff you gotta get done.
  2. Look at your calender and identify the large and small blobs of time between appointments.
  3. Pick small tasks to do during the short blobs.
  4. Pick more difficult and time consuming to-do's for the bigger blobs of time.
  5. If you're working on an ongoing project, just do part of it over series of blobs to get it done.
Visualize & Estimate Time
If you like to draw (and even if you don't) you can help visualize how long each to-do is going to take.
Make your to-do list for the day randomly all over the page.
Draw a blob around each task and make each blob bigger or smaller depending upon how much time you think it will take.
Now you have a visual map of your tasks and can easily identify the big ones and small ones.
Draw lines between any blobs that should be grouped together (errands, things at the computer, etc.)
Color in your blobs when you finish them. You can even color in a pie slice or an inner blob if you only get part of your task done.

This may sound a little weired to some, but the only method that matters is the one that works for you.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I got Butlerized!

From this to that -
I can't believe I finally took the plunge -- I plunked down a small chunk to get myself a purse that is beautiful AND functional.
After months and months of waffling I finally decided I couldn't take another day of my beautiful artsy iro purse (photo left). I love it for it's flowy lines and color but it just didn't have enough inner pockets for keeping all my stuff separated and easy to find.

So now - ta da - I got my Butler Bag
thanks to a sample sale (nearly 1/2 off - send me an email and I'll send you the link, and thanks to Monica Ricci and Monica Premo who luuuuuv em so much they want to marry them)
It is not only knock-out gorgeous on the outside (Orange is the new black), but it also has the fantastic original and ultimately organized interior design.. (Does the bin-thing have a name???)

What do you look for in a purse girls?
Shouldn't men carry bags? Wouldn't it be easier than stuffing their pockets? Or asking their gals for pens and other stuff that doesn't fit in a pocket?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Non-Planner Planner

In my quest for quirky yet useful planners I always come back to this little wonder at little otsu.
The Non-Planner really speaks to my Rightie. Lefties beware... its a bit squiggly.
This is just one page. It has more traditional looking planning sections as well.
See other funky planners at the little otsu site.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Planning - Theme o' the Week

I'm a bit obsessed with planners for time management, mostly because I really stink at using most of them. Like many right brainers, I have particular preferences and most planners are made for lefties.
Lefties remember dates. Righties are more likely to remember a day of the week. I remember where the day is visually on a page (middle would likely be a wednesday)

Lefties are linear. Righties don't always think of days in a row but in chunks. (busy week, Which Monday is available)

Lefties can write in pencil (and write small enough to stay inside the lines.) Righties may want to write in colored pens to make the important dates stand out or just for more visual interest.

Lefties tend to be more consistent. Righties generally struggle with structure and consistency. So you may put everything on the calendar one week and then leave it at home the next. Or you might switch calendars often looking for the right fit.

So this week I am devoting the blog to interesting, funky, and off-beat planners that may work better for people who think Right. (pun intended)

This Chrono-notebook non-linear day planner allows you to write your to-dos and activities in a circular manner as if following an analog clock. It is a visual exercise that shows you where activities fall in the day and it's cool looking to-boot!
It will soon be available at Muji stores - home stores in Japan (and now NY City).

Friday, August 15, 2008

Saving Light Bulb Moments

OK you've got a great idea - but you may not be in a place where you can really write it and track it.
LifeDev blog provides 25 great ways to capture your idea for later.
(organizing the ideas is a whole 'nother story)
For a long time my favorite has been to carry around a little spiral notebook in my purse.
For a while I switched to a palm, using the notes.
But my biggest problem was when I got ideas while driving (in a trance, "how did I get here") I didn't want to write and have an accident.
Now, if I'm out and about, I have use to call and email it to myself.
Good thing I'm allowed to make a call and drive in Georgia.

But what to do if you get a great idea in the shower!!
I seriously came up with the idea of a waterproof pen and paper set... but guess what...
It already exists. It's on the list!

What is your favorite way to capture ideas on the go?

Organizing for Creativity

I started reading the newest SARK book and keep putting it down.
It's not because I don't like it.
It's because I like it soooooo much.
I want to slow down and savor it like a toasty warm cup of hot chocolate or a steak done to perfection.
Thank you SARK for putting your thoughts on paper for the rest of us to enjoy and use for a muse.
I yearn for my own magic cottage for creating.
And I vow to make the time to finish the colorful organizing book I have started.

I now have to organize my time so that I can create a magic cottage time/space to make it really happen.
What do you need to do in order to be able to create your creations and make your dreams come true?
Make a magic space?
Designate creativity hours?
How about form a creativity group where several people come together to be creative in their own way and hold one another accountable to be actively creating? Creativity parties! Hazzah!

-- Allison

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It came!

My book came today. I'm salivating.
I'll get back to you soon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

SARK Juicy Pens Thirsty Paper

SARK's new book - Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper comes out today - I am standing at my door waiting for the Brown Van from UPS to show up with my very own copy (yes I'm an Amazon luvr).

If you don't know who SARK is and you're reading this blog, you may want to take a look at her colorful and whimsical (and sometimes very serious) books. They are written in hand with watercolor accents that amuse and inspire.
Her voice was one of the first voices I read that I felt gave me permission to let my artsy side bak out even though I had long ago put it aside for work and kids.

I stumbled across her book Succulent Wild Woman when I was working at CNN 15 years ago and saw the press kit in the hallway being given away (the book had already been taken). I quickly ran out to get the book and have been a fan ever since.

She's coming to my home town in a couple weeks on her book tour and I will be there and bring some friends. I was lucky enough to catch her on the wild woman tour as well.

What does any of this have to do with organizing???
Well - I use the books as muses to keep my inner juicy juices flowing. And I have more like them including journals and coloring books.
My creativity often gets sparked when I can see one thing and expand on it or adapt it for another use.
So this means having books to organize, and planning to spend time looking through them - which is a whole 'nother bunch of bananas for right brainers. More to come.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Are you Right Brained or Left Brained?

You probably already have a hunch or you wouldn't be reading this.
Anyway, here are two tests you can take.

1. Which way is the dancer spinning when you look?

A remarkable thing happened when I did this. I was so amazed that anyone could see it the other way than what I saw - so I looked away - and when I looked back she was spinning the other way!
Perhaps I'm center brained.

2. Hemispheric dominance test

This one is multiple choice.
I scored 15 right. 3 left.
I was pretty embarrassed when it asked if I had a place for everything. Cuz I still don't every have everything in an exact spot even after 6 years of professional organizing.
That's the trouble with us right brainers.

How do you score??? Are you as right brained as you think?

On Creativity

From Wikipedia:

Creativity (or "creativeness") is a mental process involving the generation of new ideas or concepts, or new associations of the creative mind between existing ideas or concepts.

From a scientific point of view, the products of creative thought (sometimes referred to as divergent thought) are usually considered to have both originality and appropriateness. An alternative, more everyday conception of creativity is that it is simply the act of making something new.

The stages of the creative process:
From ArtLex

  1. Finding or formulating a problem. George Kneller (American psychologist) called this stage "first insight."
  2. Researching and drawing from life experiences (memory), networking, etc. This stage is variously called "discovery" and "saturation."
  3. Mulling over the problem in a sort of chaos of ideas and knowledge, letting go of certainties (forgetting). Jacob Getzel (American psychologist) called this stage "incubation" — engaging the intuitive, non-sequential, or global thinking at the core of creativity.
  4. One or more ideas surface. This is also called "immersion" and "illumination."
  5. The idea is tested as a potential solution to the problem. Getzel called this "verification." This final stage often involves revision — conscious structuring and editing of created material.

When you don't allow creativity to flourish:
  • "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." --Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943
  • "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." --Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977
  • "This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." --Western Union internal memo, 1876.
  • "The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?" --David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.
  • "The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible." --A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)
  • "Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" --H. M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.
  • "If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can't do this." --Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M "Post-It" Notepads.
  • "Aeroplanes are interesting toys but of no military value." --Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.
  • "Everything that can be invented has been invented." --Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.

Creative Thinkers:
  • "Creativity is the ability to see relationships where none exist." -- Thomas Disch
  • "There is no such thing as a failed experiment, only experiments with unexpected outcomes." -- Buckminster Fuller
  • "Whenever you see a successful business someone once made a courageous decision" - - Peter F Drucker.
  • "Standing still is the fastest way of moving backwards in a rapidly changing world. Imagination is the highest kite one can fly" -- Lauren Bacall.

  • "Instead of pouring knowledge into people's heads, we need to help them grind a new set of eyeglasses so that we can see the world in a new way." -- J S Brown.

Read more quotes at Mycoted

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Posting posty posts on the new right brainy brain blog

The world needs another blog like a hole in the head...
but there is discussion not being discussed and it'd discussting.
The right brainers of the world are a bit sick of the smug left-brain, sequential and logical world making all the rules.
So for all the creative doodlers, right brainers, artsy-fartsies, dreamers, idea people - This Blog's For You!
-- Allison Carter
Coloring my way to organization
the fun way