Monday, September 29, 2008

No more ink cartridges

The end is in sight!
No more $50 ink cartridges.
No more plastic wasteful leftover cartridges to recycle.
Check out Zink - and zink paper - all the color is embedded IN the paper!

The price will no doubt be incredibly high to begin.
But I spend at least $600 a year on ink!!!
This is sooooo awesome.
I love technology.

Read more about the soon-to-be portable printer that is wireless and uses Zink.

-- Allison

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Do Organizing Tips Work?

My favorite procrastination expert writes a blog for Psychology Today. Tim Pychyl's recent entry gave me a full buffet of food for thought about whether organizing tips are really what people need.

He says yes, and...
Tips are only good if they are put into action
The type of tip counts. It has got to be a tip worth following to make a difference.

Read more about it

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pink - It's the little things in life

Sometimes it's the little splashes of color that make organizing fun.

Now you can add some brightness to ordinary filing and help a cause. Pink folders and boxes and hanging files are available now at your local office supply store. (I got mine at Office Max - new NAPO Associate Member). It cheers me up to see pink and know I'm helping out.

Thank you Pendaflex for the nice design and adding the bonus: pink paper clip thingies.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Creativity & ADD

During my radio interview today with Laura West of Joyful Business, we were discussing the similarities in positive traits for creative entrepreneurs and people with ADD. I think I love working so much with ADD people because ADDers tend to have the same natural tendencies as creative people and may in fact BE creative people.

Some of the traits are:
highly enthusiastic
goal oriented
good at trouble-shooting
thrive on experiencing a greater variety of what life has to offer
good when directions aren't included
exceptional with computers because computers don't come with instructions and the results are immediate.
They are creative and they are explorers.


With all these positive traits, how did ADD come to be called a disorder?
It should be a benefit, right??

Creative people and ADDers both know that for all the positive, there are also some traits that make it difficult to march to the beat of everyone else's drummer.

losing things
talking excessively
often interrupting others
often shifting activity from one uncompleted activity to another

There is and has been some research around ADD as an evolutionary phenomenon.
Modern theories of evolution embrace the concept of selective pressures on populations rather than individuals. A trait that may be bad for an individual might be good for the population overall. For example, some individuals who are ADD will become criminals, but if a few brilliant ADD inventors change the course of history and increase the fitness of the population, the ADD genes will be favored."
-- From

- So are we producing a population with more ADDers so that our population can be more innovative in the long run?

Whether this is true or not, i like to think of creatives and ADDers as super-abled like a superhero who has special powers to think and link and explore, to do "other stuff' than the rest of the average population. What stuff may come is to be seen.

Read more about the evolutionary theory and more about the positive side of ADD at

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hanger mess

Hanger mess
Originally uploaded by gaorganizer
Got a crazy hanger mess?
Get it together without spending a ton of money.
Try this DIY project using a simple box and box cutters.
Keep the box in your closet to store unused hangers.
This means more room in your closet so clothes don't get squashed.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

100 LESS THINGS - Sept 22

Monday September 22 begins the countdown - 100 days until the new year.
How is your de-cluttering goal coming along so far?

If you aren't where you want to be or just want more motivation to clear out some debris and sludge from your life, try this playful exercise.

Delete one item from your life every day through December 31.

It can be a slip of paper or an old vase you haven't used in years.
Toss, recycle, or donate one thing every day.
And in 100 days, you will have 100 less things.

As you de-clutter - you can leave comments here to tell us all what you have purged.
You can even take photos and send them and I'll post them.
Send to
-- Allison


Do you have so many ideas you don't know where to start?
Or are you staring at a blank page having trouble getting the first words on paper?

The trick to getting un-stuck is to start.
Start with anything.
Start writing about something you don't even intend to write about. Write about your cup of coffee.
Start painting anything. Paint your cup of coffee.
Start organizing something. Organize your coffee mugs.
When you take action, any action, it leads to inspiration.

Action comes before inspiration. (Thank you SARK for that juicy tidbit).

So if you're staring at a blank computer screen or a stack of papers to sift through, just start doing anything and the inspiration will begin to flow after a few minutes.
You'll see.
You know you're creative. It's just a matter of getting the juices flowing and the bubbles percolating again.

If you're worried about doing "it" right, forget perfect. There is no such thing and you know it.
But that is for another post.

Friday, September 12, 2008

File Papers using Album Covers

Gotta love a fun new way to use the clutter of our former lives.
Look at how DIY shows us how to turn old album covers into paper organizers.
= > Allison

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Systems = Freedom

Many creatives think they can only be creative if they are free and unstructured. But most of us have come to realize that there must be some kind of process and systems in place so you can really do what needs to be done to create and be productive.
Coach Laura Howard West says it sooooo well in her article Systems = Freedom.
((Laura will also be a guest on The Organizing Playground radio/podcast on Sept. 23, 2008)

Systems = Freedom!
By Laura Howard West
Center for Joyful Business, http:/

I have a sticky note in my office that says "Systems = Freedom". I have become an avid fan of systems. I used to be rebellious of systems as though they would take away all my creativity and spontaneity. What I have found is that they give me the freedom to be creative, enjoy life and it keep me enjoying my business! Nothing is worse than waking up one day and realizing that you've created a successful business but it's over taken your life and you are afraid you can't maintain all these great marketing vehicles. We've all faced that - gotten caught up in the excitement of launching a new newsletter, blog or podcast only to realize that we have to keep it going for it to have real impact!

Here are five reasons for you to embrace the idea of looking for and commiting the initial time to develop systems:

1. To Grow Your Business You Have to Grow Your Capacity

This is a fundamental truth. If you want to grow bigger - more clients, sell more products, work with larger more high paying clients - then you have to increase your capacity to get more done in less time. This doesn't mean that you personally have to learn to do more work. The first place to start is being willing to look at the areas in your business, specific projects, tasks and the giant never-ending-to-do list and see what you can delegate and what you can let go of. Many people get stuck right here because they aren't willing to let go. I can guarantee if you don't let go - you won't grow!

2. Creating Systems Gives You Valuable Creative Time

One of the most common complaints I hear from clients is they don't have enough time to write the article, the book or the create their new information product. When you create systems for those things you do over and over again, you free up time which you can use for getting those creative projects done. For example, I have a lot of clients who start out creating their own newsletter. They are doing the graphics, the layout, finding the photos and writing the articles. They are struggling with making things fit and the layout looking professional. This could easily become a full day project. If you spend all your time here you'll run out of steam for finding inspiration to write the article! It actually depletes your energy, and it will keep you chained to your computer doing routine work instead of getting you out there thinking about and creating that new product! You want to be doing work that keeps your energy flowing!

3. Systems Give You More Time for "Focus and Flow"

Every morning I spend reflection time on my day and my business. I lovingly call it "Creative Bagel Time" as I get the boys off to school and then head to one of the local cafes or bakeries for some inspiration time (with or without bagels!). You might wonder why as a busy mom-preneur who does most of my work from the bus pickup time to the bus dropoff time, that I can afford the time reflecting over cream cheese and tea? I can tell you that this morning time is invaluable to me in helping me get so much done in a few short hours. I consciously line up my energy behind what's important about my day. I review my Intention Cards so I'm connecting to my bigger vision and then I create my 3 Daily Giggle Goals so my energy is focused for the day and then I let go and let it flow! I am able to do this because I make the morning time a "system" - I have a special bag for my "Focus and Flow" time, I block it out on my calendar in the mo rning and I protect this time (which is a calendar system) so that I have dedicated time to line up my energy for me and my business several times a week. The power that comes from this "focused energy" helps me get more done in less time - certainly more than if I went straight for my computer and sat there all day trying to push a lot of work around.

4. Systems Allow You To Enthusiastically Take Time Off

By creating systems for handling billing, the administrative work, my podcast interviews, and my blog postings, I can comfortably and enthusiastically (meaning without a ton of stress that my business will fall apart without me!) take time off and enjoy life. In fact, my husband and I are on a 10 day trip to England to visit his family as you read this. I can sit back and enjoy because I know that my marketing is still getting done and is consistently getting out there - in fact, this newsletter is set to go out while I'm away! All because of using technology systems and creating systems with my team who are clear about what to do and when.

5. Systems Give You Time to Grow and Learn Without Being Stressed

Look at what you do consistently, over and over again. Chances are there is a way to create a template, a form, or a system for recycling your information into new formats that will free you up to have more time to attend workshops and mastermind groups so that you are continuing to grow personally and professionally. Better yet, work with your team to create the systems so everything flows quicker and more smoothly. Then book time to spend on you and nurturing your brilliance. As you grow - your business grows!

Written by Laura Howard West, Center for Joyful Business, http:/

Laura West is an award-winning online entrepreneur and president of The Center for Joyful Business. If you are ready to shift your marketing and mindset for more success with joy and ease, get your free report: Business Attraction Success Kit

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Email folders and labels for ideas

Right brainers have some different organizing needs that are often overlooked in the run-of-the-mill organizing books and articles. That's because many of them are written by lefties who don't feel compelled to save every idea for when they're ready to act on it.
And email and the internet are full of great idea triggers!!!

If you're an idea saver, how can you work with your need/desire to save?

1. Save based on what kind of idea it is
Make files or labels based on what you will most likely use the idea for.
For instance:

  • Book ideas
  • Article ideas
  • Painting ideas
  • Coaching ideas
  • Decor ideas
You get the gist. Then when you get an email you want to save, it has a place to go and sit until you're ready.

2. Save the ideas based on how soon you want to get to it. In this case you can make a limited number of files:
  • Act now (this week)
  • Soon (this month)
  • This year
  • Someday (these are just to have but don't have any urgency)
3. If you just don't like to file or tag much, dump all ideas into one big file called ideas and use your computer's search function.

Do you have another method that's working for you?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Email Organizing with folders

Can Righties organize email with folders? Why yes we can.
The trick to using the folder approach is to make the folder titles mean something.
There are 3 kinds of folders
1. Action - emails you drop here are still in the cooker. Some on low heat, some on high. Each still needs some kind of attention.
Action items can be broken down into sub folders such as:
To pay
To read /sites to go to
To reply
To research
Pending orders
To Call
To Go (classes, parties, meetings)

2. Reference - keep info for future reference
This is where labeling of folders gets a little complicated.
a. The folder names work best if they match the names of any real physical files in your file drawers
b. The titles have to be broad enough categories so that you don't create zillions of files.
c. The titles have to be obvious to you

Some example reference file folders
Kids stuff
Account /password info
Stuff from Mom (that's real for me)

Business files:
Client correspondence
Website information
Writing ideas
Marketing ideas
Memos from boss/workplace/HR

3. Project files
These are for information to be collected for a short time, then discarded (including deleting the folder icon)
RSVPs for event
Decor project bids

The second trick is to use your in-box as your to-do list.
I know this is a huge no-no, taboo, frowned-upon way to operate - but for some of us it just works better. The reason is because if you're already looking at mail in the in-box, your brain is triggered to attend to the stuff that is still sitting there.
It works great with a running list of urgent to-dos and non-urgent to-dos.
You can mark the urgents with flags or by color marking them if your email system allows it.

Next - how to get less email and be a better emailer friend.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Right Brain Email Organizing

Email has become a huge big monster to organize over the last several years.
Remember the early days when we just got a few emails a day?
There are so many ways to organize email I'll try to comment on a few over the next few entries.
For me - I have been using folders since I got my first email using outlook express back in the 1990's.
Now I use applemail and still use folders.
But I wish I had switched to gmail years ago - and I'll tell you why.
It is made for Righties!
The system uses labels instead of folders - which allows you to SEE the subject and the label(s) at the same time.
Labeling means SEEing!
Lets look at the usual ways people deal with email:

Filers - this is how it all began - and why it's so hard to turn the corner. We would (and many still do) create folder upon folder within folder to house our email archives so that we may find them again if needed. Some people have more than 100 folders and that doesn't make it easy to find what you need after a while.

Searchers - Hate to put things in a folder, so they leave everything in their In-box, Deleted folder, or Sent mail folder. When they want to find older emails, they just search for it. They love the apple Spotlight function because it can find just about anything using keywords. They use the in-box to house just about everything.

Taggers/Labelers - these are the wise ones who have adopted the tagging system that google created with gmail. It took me days to figure out I was never going to find a way to make a folder in the gmail program.
Instead, you put a label on each email with key phrases you would use for it. Each can have more than one tag as well. Labels can be action - Do, Read, Pending. And they can also be about the sender or the information - Work, Mom, friends.
Labels allow us to SEE everything we need to SEE while simultaneously showing us the label we gave it.
So if you're thinking about finding another way to organize your email, consider the gmail approach.

Read some other great blog entries about how to use gmail
James Melzer's Blog entry on google and outlook - includes a photo of tagging done right.
4 steps to banish email from Think Simple Now blog

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

When to use Color Coding

These fabu Index Chopping Boards are a perfect example of color coding outta-the-box.
* Each color MEANS something.
* The color will help you stay organized (or at least less contaminated in this case).

The color also happens to be fun for those who love a splash of color about the home and office.
You can get the index chopping boards at the Museum of Modern Art online store.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Coaching for Creatives

I generally don't feel like I need coaching. I am a self starter. I set goals and reach them regularly.
But there is something calling me about Christina Merkley's upcoming tele-seminars for creatives.
She speaks to my overgrown child who still wants to play with coloring books.
She speaks to my inner cool-kid who wants to be taking the most unique and creative approach.
She speaks to my grown-up entrepreneur who is always questioning and doubting herself.
Take a look at her upcoming no-charge teleseminars:

I've been following Christina's career for a bit over a year now. She was a pioneer in the field of Graphic Facilitation - using pictures with words to capture a meeting and facilitate thought.
I wanted to put in a drawing to show you - but she is smart and protects them so you'll have to go to her website to see for yourself.

Now she has shifted her career to coaching - using the same visual principles she used as a facilitator.

My book, Color Me Organized, (inspired by visual practitioners) is my ongoing effort to capture the organizing process using graphics. My hope is that visual people will recognize and understand something because of the drawings that they otherwise don't "get."

If you have never taken a gander at visual practitioners at work there are many way-cool sites. Each practitioner has a different visual style, but the effect is the same: Pictures help visual people process and remember. Visual Practitioner organization

Center for Graphic Facilitation Blog

You tube video of facilitation in action

My local graphic facilitator who took the time to show me everything she knows.
Martha McGinnis