FREE! 10 Organising Tips For The Office That Cost Nothing – Guaranteed To Improve Your Life

Another top 10 list (because you asked so nicely).

1.  Keep your stationery drawer filled with things that you use regularly and that work.  Ditch the dry pens, the used staples, the bent tacks and the dried up glue stick.

2.  Organise and label wires: a) So you don’t unplug the wrong device when backing up (see 7) and b) if you move around the equipment in your office or take electronics off your desk you know what wires go with what item.

3.  When arranging your desk, put the phone in the opposite corner to your dominate hand.  For righties on the left for lefties on the right.  Why?  So you can grab a pen and write notes!

4. Date your work as you go because, no you won’t remember when you did “that” part.

It doesn’t always have to be
Take steps now to improve your working life 
Kidsbooks, Vancouver, British Columbia – 2011

5.  Put stuff back as you go. Keep organised so you keep your work under control.  Much easier and less painful than an emergency panic driven sort out.

6.  Projects you have completed, old tax documents etc – store elsewhere (labelled and dated of course).  You don’t need this stuff looming at you everyday.

7.  Back up! Back up! Back up!  – Do this regularly i.e. daily! No explanation needed I hope.

8.  Your desk is not a giant in-box.  Straighten your desk at the end of each work day.  Not necessarily a clear desk, but a state of organisation that you won’t be inclined to avoid. Clutter is an indicator of indecisiveness not lack of time.

9.  Take all your personal mementos and “executive” desk toys off your working desk.  On the wall or a free shelf is OK.  You can keep them in the room but you need the space to work and not distractions.

10.  Eliminate homelessness from your office. If there isn’t a place for something, do you really need it?  Honestly assess how big (and how useful)  your “just in case” collection is. You can keep it, but you don’t need to give it room in your office.

 Achieve a better life balance
Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Canada 2011

Bonus – Make peace with yourself.  You are most likely your harshest critic.  Keep in mind who you are trying to “impress” and give yourself a break.

I hope this help and if you have any ideas to organise your office for free, let me know.  I’d love to add to my list 🙂


Long and Important Blog with a Big (Very Big) Lobster

Recently I’ve been reading a lot on and offline about the minimalist movement.  I’ve always been quite interested in the less is more principle of living.  Well, I would be wouldn’t I, as a de-clutterer and organiser! 
As one of “those types” of people, I strongly believe that life isn’t about how much stuff we have.  
Basic rules of Our Stuff:
1. Our stuff should be useful or compliment our lives with beauty/quirkiness/interest.
2.  Our stuff should never take over and be in control (i.e. dictate how big our house is so you can squeeze it all in).  
3.  All we need to know about our stuff is: what we have, why we kept it, and where we put it. 
There are endless “minimalist” gurus online telling you how to shed your stuff.  Lots of advice and a few key themes (with my own twist of course):
1.  You have too much stuff. I know I do.  
A few years ago I went on a world tour with a backpack.  I can live very successfully out of the back of a car and did so for months and months.  And no it wasn’t a hardship.
And I thought it was luxurious having a chair!
Bright, Australia, 2005
So why do I have a two bedroom house full of things?  I didn’t miss my things when I was staying with friends in Ontario, camping (or sleeping in the car) in Brisbane or hosteling across the South Island of New Zealand.  (Oh I have a house so my family and friends can visit and well I do need a place to call home for all the usual reasons!)
Sleeping in the car – Australia 2005, not a hardship just 
a little more interesting and a little more cosy
Why was I sleeping in the car?  My poor tent in the ice storm!
Late summer in Australia %-)

Poor tent after the storm 😦
2.  Keeping useful things and beautiful and sentimental objects is great but they all need a place to stay so really think about it.
There are only so many lovely doodads you need to dust, only so many pictures fit on the walls and people aren’t the things they give you. 
So yes to the bed and the coffee maker but seriously think about the cherry pitter. Maybe its got a function but really? 
Definitely no to the day china, the good china, the celebration china, the related crystal and scary amounts of cutlery.  White is great for dishes and you can get as inventive about decorating a table as the laws of gravity will allow. As for crystal, if you are like me, its hopeless because it doesn’t bounce.
Resistance isn’t futile – The Green Gypsy Caravan, South Island, New Zealand 2005
3. Clear desk/counter/table policy – Strangely I’m against this one.  I don’t have clean desk policy.  I have a tidy piles policy. 
I’m very visual and if I put something away I can forget I have it, which leads to forgetting to do it.  But my piles are lovely (usually). 
My piles are sorted into folders or binders (boxes have their uses for long term storage. In an office, just say no) and of course labeled and decorated by me for my amusement.  Hey any tricks that get me to do my paperwork are worth it.  And if having George Clooney on my work folder helps so be it!
Oh dear and those are only three points covered about the evils of too much stuff and there are so many other very compelling ones. 
So a visual illustration of 3 more!
The places you get to visit when you stop worrying about stuff
Kingston SE (somewhere between Melbourne and Adelaide), South Australia 2005 

 The natives you meet when you stop worrying about your stuff
Brisbane, Australia 2005

The views you will have when you stop worrying about your stuff
Greymouth, South Island, New Zealand 2005 

Some of my more interesting recent discoveries have been:
The 100 Things Challenge – interesting concept but I’m afraid even I can’t comply.  I have over 100 books, but they are constantly in flux, some go, some stay, new ones join the collection. So is that one thing, as in book collection or 100+ individual items? This one’s hard!
Rowdy Kittens is a great website from someone who made the jump from two cars and a big house to a bike and low low maintenance lifestyle
Far Beyond the Stars Everett Bogue impressively gets down to 57 things – but he’s a boy (not that that necessarily mean he’s against personal grooming, but I’ll bet his hair isn’t as long as mine and I’m not cutting it just so I‘ll save one more item and won’t have that hair clip!).
Everett’s business is writing about minimalism – pen, paper and laptop are his essentials.  As a photographer I have slightly more kit!  Thankfully he has the same issues about books that I do and his things don’t include shared items like: chairs, cooking utensils or soap.  
I do like the flexibility of these rules.  They’re easy to personalise and all about degrees.
Writing this has made me see (again) how complacent I’ve become.  I feel a big clear up coming on!
Watch this space
 This person couldn’t cope! Reading Festival 2010

The Prep for Canwell Continues – Being An Information Goddess Helps!

As promised/threatened, welcome to Part Two of the prep for Canwell Show.
Its exactly one month and four days since I decided to go public with my Photography.   Talk about a steep learning curve!  I’m developing skills I never knew were essential;  eg.  converting imperial measurements into metric and visa versa. 
That’s one of my biggest bug bears –  that photographs are measured in inches and mounts and frames in millimeters.  Who decided this was a good idea!?  And what about standardised sizing? Beyond aggravating when you discover that the 6×4 prints you ordered, won’t fit into a 6×4 mounts you already bought.
So I have become adept at cutting and paste.  Always knew those crafty skills would come in handy %-)
Making Christmas cards (the only photo I’ve taken of cutting and pasting in action)
My house has become a hub of activity.  Lots of important piles of stuff – photos, mounts, backing and even a few frames (but not many, I am soooooooooo not getting into that).  Sorry no photo of my cottage industry to show you.  Its not a look I’m proud of as my doppelgänger is an organiser extraordinaire. So I’ll let you have this photo instead. Someone else clutter – at least its an innovative storage solution.
A place to leave your stuff
Begin organised means I have time to be fabulously creative! Not boring at all.
So how do creativity and organising go together?  Very well thank you.  I know where I put the glue.
What being organised gives me:
1.  Peace of mind – as noted, I can find the glue and other essentials
2.  Saves money – not having to buy more glue ’cause I know where I put it
3.  Space for creativity – both physically and mentally – Thanks to a lovely client this is such a great example – “My Tidy Office After Admin Angel Visit” 
4 . Saves time!  Reduces the aimless wandering through miscellaneous stuff and things so I can get to the good stuff quicker.  I need less time (or no time!) to sort through the dross so I can start a project sooner and spend better quality time on achieving a more pleasing/successful result.

                                 My stuff                                    

There done my sermonising for the day.
Now back to “proper” work and sorting out more of what needs to be done before Aug 7.  Seems like loads of time, but even for organised people like me, time tends to speed up the closer you get to a deadline.
Oh and before I finish, short plug here for the  Church Stretton and South Shropshire Arts Festival.  Yours truly has a few photographs in the exhibition.
Till next time

What direction is this blog going?

Well, to be really honest, I’m not sure yet.
There is an extensive list of things I don’t want it to become.  I have selected a few key ones:
1.  Ongoing ad nauseam lists of random tips that I know we’ve all heard before.  They make me sound like a dictator and well, you won’t follow them anyway.  Who needs to be told what to do by a blog!? Unless of course you ask 🙂
2.  A repetition of all the other advice that’s out there.  Put “organise” in Bing (or search engine of choice) and today you get 11,500,000 results.  And how is that helpful?
3.  I’m not going to share little stories about my clients.  They deserve confidentiality and I’m saving those tidbits for when I write my novel (just kidding!)

4.  Lots of how tos – if you want to know my opinion, please ask, see point 1.
5.  Endless lists of books, other websites, Youtube clips, other twits/tweets etc. (but I’m sure they will sneak in)

6.  Um…..?
For now we will be a Zen Dog and see when the journey takes us
“You can’t have everything.  Where would you put it?”  Steven Wright