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Organising Me | The view from down here

Category: Organising me

What will

I was reading a series of blog postsfrom Beth on a 10 week read along she did of the Willpower Experiement. I haven’t read the book ( though it is on my wish list now). It seems like the book was written for me. It’s not that I always fail to follow through but personally driven, personally focused committments over multiple days is hard for me.

For example it was time for me to do my annual GTD tweaking. This time however, having fallen off the wagon almost entirely so think of it more as a decluttering detoxing rebuild of a very ill GTD system.

So this weekend officeworks and I became well acquainted and I have a beautiful office space; complete this time with a working tickler and reference filing thanks to a working filing cabinet which I have resisted to greater or lesser degrees in previous rollouts. One of my main rationalisations being that being computer savvy, I would of course scan every bill and other documument into a perfectly ordered system of virtual filing with full and consistent backup and redundancy!

Ha! And we now return you to your regularly scheduled program: reality. So I’ve started with the filing system and with my somewhat consistent efforts to purge the office here, my “girl den” as I’ve taken to calling it, is looking good, even a tad sparse.

It is now a beautiful space. It is clean and crisp. I even got a spontaneous “oh wow” from a visitor after it was done for the day. I was and am proud. I haven’t done the mind sweep David Allen suggests you start with because I have learnt that while it is neccessary to do that step and thoroughly I can get bogged down in it and not get beyond a project list that looks and feels unwieldy and unforgiving.

So today I tried sorting the bedside shelves which is where I want to store my shoes- in pairs ideally, fancy that and atop which I house my equally disorganised jewellery case. That was today’s project and it was an excavation in itself as we’ll as a high exposure to dust! But yes I got there.

So in one way, yes I did good. I continued decluttering and took on another bite sized activity while maintaining the clean and clear surfaces.

So the other side of my pride and going back to my original musings about willpower I havent really continued on with the project I started on only yesterday. Although what I did do today was great, I’m a little angry that I didn’t have the staying power to even do a two day project. I get excited when I finish a set of post-it notes rather than lose or de-sticky them through carelessness because right now it seems so unlike me to follow through or finish anything!

Leaning back and trying to be self-kind now, there are two things that stand out from the blog posts.

  • Choose one thing at first to develop will power for: decluttering, going to bed early, writing, drinking water and do a little bit each day. I guess this is among other things the idea that neither Rome nor our willpower were built in a day.
  • The second was a tip with I think very broad application; about time. Quoting the author of the blog now:

    “Studies show that most people, like Sonnet and I, “wrongly predict we will have much more free time in the future than we do today” (p. 94). What’s helping me is to find a way to get ever-closer to my goal of a decluttered house, even though I’m busy. For me, this means one clutter spot (sometimes a very small one!) per weekday. Even on extra-busy days, I can usually do that. And if I do miss a day, I just make sure I’m extra-motivated to pick up where I left off the next day.”.

So for me, being as realistic as I can about the time and resource available, I’m going to try and sort my intray for an hour into the right context lists and remember to whiten my teeth tomorrow night.

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Friday fashion: the first question

Recently, I volunteered to be part of a media or research project on disability and fashion. The co-ordination was done by a Dr Jill Bamforth a social research academic from Melbourne with an eye for fashion and an awareness that there must be challenges finding clothes that work on any number of levels for people with disabilities. She was also aware that there would be an unmet market that wasn’t necessarily being served currently.

After at least two brief phone calls that had technically or timing issues in which we established among other things, that; I didn’t like centre-back zips, can’t wear pantyhose, but can do thigh highs but don’t like the limited range (even now when there is a decent range in pantyhose as there has been recently in Australia). She then sent me 11 insightful questions, inviting me to answer without the pressure to answer them all. After that was an equally insightful hour-long phone call.

As with most well-written surveys on topics you have at least a passing interest in, the process of thinking that went into the preparation of my answers was fascinating.

Here was the first Q and A

1. You say (as others do) that it is important to dress in a professional way in order to be taken seriously at work. What does this kind of dressing entail – a suit/make up/ heels/hair cuts and colour, for instance?

How long have you got…. It involves all of those things above and balancing them out for an overall effect, based not only on the event you are planning for and the impact you want to make (same for everyone I guess) but how physically you are feeling (energy) and what parts of your body are working and what sort of movement you are anticipating — transfers etc.

For example I have two pairs of very different work shoes, that from the top(the way most people will see my feet) look very similar. This is deliberate. However, if I wear the higher heels (which are more comfy on my footplate) and my foot goes into spasm, my ankle gets twisted and it becomes a painful and visual distraction tht can last hours.

In addition as a wheelchair user I am viewed as sitting even when I’m moving which changes the parts of my outfits and body that are visually apparent.My breasts and my shins are more visible than my waist or whether I’m a pear or apple. So traditional fashion advice or mannequins are only so useful.

Also the wheelchair in one way is a fashion accessory and frames me so I dress to either not clash with it, or to complement it. Trying to igbnore it has not worked in the past. Keep in mind though that you want to be distinguishable from the chair at all times.

In the more traditional version of your question, yes all these things you mention contribute. I always tend to up dress because I get judged already on the fact I sit. I don’t wear a tracksuit at all except in bed. I always wear foundation. It might be vanity but the logic is to come over as a grown up, let alone a professional. I’m in my 30’s.

She was interested in the wheelchair as accessory bit, which I might go into on another occasion.

 

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Bag Hag

I’m something of an organisation junkie, though the physical evidence particularly offline might not bear me out. I tend to be an organised thinker, planner and communicator more than live in a pristine environment and be able to find the right piece of paper at the right moment. I’ve read and implemented at various times both GTD and FranklinCovey. My newish most expensive shopping weakness after years of it being handbags is now stationary and Howard’s Storage World!

However, as I said, in the bottom of my handbag you are just as likely to still find random receipts for things I don’t need to keep the receipts for, (while losing the ones I meant to file), melted forgotten chocolate and the ever frustrating tangled headphones (while the Bluetooth ones sit around my neck).

Friends of mine also use wheelchairs have in place of handbags; backpacks and/or a thing called a caboose. Now I don’t mean a bottom. In many cases the caboose is integrated into the wheelchair, either as a wire or mesh net or as a secret compartment in an armrest or behind the legs. It was only recently that I discovered the concept. Given I haven’t yet had a custom-built wheelchair I haven’t had one built-in. Also for a long time handbags were the easiest and most independent accessory I could go for. However handling a handbag when you are so short in the torso, low and effectively only have the use of one hand is challenging. Especially when you’re trying to look like you have it together enough so that strangers in supermarkets and taxi drivers don’t feel the need to rush to your defence or protection, regardless of whether you need it.

So, given all the above, it is not surprising that my eyes were drawn a while back to a blog post on the organisation of one’s handbag. I have cut back on the variety of handbags I use and have recently switched from a Tony Barlow that I used over Summer/Autumn that was beginning to slouch to a smart black Guess number.

I seem to have worked in reverse order according to her list of tips.

A while ago, I picked up two inserts and now use one for makeup that I use daily at home. I like the fact they are clear sided and even with the older floppier bag it made finding stuff buried a little easier. Now that I’ve got in the habit of using them it is nice to know that even when I’m at home everything is only in one place.

Of her other tips:

Start From Scratch

Yes, I did empty the bag on to my desk. Because I’m already using a liner, this was easier and neater than it certainly would have been. I admire those like a close friend who have mini-bags compartmentalising everything. My beloved late maternal grandmother did the same. I tried. It looks neat on other people, but too fidley for me in my one-handedness. The liner needs to be the only extra bit. In an ideal world those liners would have many unzipped compartments built to fit my bits and pieces and in a material that balanced flexibility and firmness perfectly.

Make-Up Minimalism

I’m usually a minimalist when I’m out anyway, as I rarely have the energy unless I know that I can see into the mirror, after getting into the bathroom. I used to carry a lot more and as the article suggests, I too rarely get round to using it. A brush, hand sanitiser, mirror and lipstick will do me, unless I’m feeling particularly ugly, guilty or have multiple high-octane events. Oh and chewing gum, because I tend to like raw onion on my salad!

Money, Money, Money

No, I don’t have a separate coin purse. I find because I have the use of one hand and most vendors give me notes, coin and receipt in one hit (and then watch me intently and worried as they wonder how I manage and if it would be rude to serve the next person while I put it all together. It’s too fidley and too slow to play with multiple containers. I dump the coins either in the handbag to go straight in the coin jar at home in the reckoning, or back in the coin section of my purse.

General Electrics

Being a geek, this is perhaps where I predictably come undone. I can’t easily wrap cords around things even at the best of times, not well enough for it to be useful. And I like to keep my options open, so I’d like to carry a charger for my iPad/iPhone, as well as the spare earphones for when the Bluetooth ones that fit me best go flat. But I do make space for both iDevices most days. The tough bit is that I also like and carry notebook and pad for scribbling and tangibleness. And after all that, I still feel under-prepared. I used to try to carry my Kindle too, but now I use the Kindle app on the iPad (strange reading the Steve Jobs bio kindle book on an iPad). Kindle sits on my bed head at home.

Colour Code It

I don’t tend to do this by colour. I tend to do my digging by feel much more than looks. This is where texture comes in for me. Knowing the shape and approx location of items. Keeping my cheque book on the opposite edge to the letter writing stuff is key here. Having a lilac case on my phone and an interestingly shaped wallet are both useful for different reasons.

Key Party

Nope. Just goes in the liner. I find those clip things too awkward. I like having a distinctive key ring though. Heavy and large. Speaking of which I need a new one as I ran over the last one and busted it whilst trying to pick them up. Occupational hazard. Same thing tends to happen with sunglasses and earphones which is why I never spend more than $20 on sunglasses or earphones!

Survival Kit.

Good idea. Some of this in the main liner; medication and personal girl things and $20 in a hidden pocket. Check! I don’t repair my own clothes and going through airport security would be too hard with a needle.

I also carry gloves, 5 taxi subsidy forms (as important as cab money to a chair user in Sydney), stamps, and a cigarette case which ironically seems to stop me from wanting to smoke. Given that works I’ll keep it up.

In addition to the iDevice charger, I wish I could also carry and easily use an umbrella and a water bottle. But alas.

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Confession — iTunes

I’ve got a nasty habit of downloading movies and TV shows that either aren’t good for me, or I’ve seen them before, or even worse I already own them – in hard or soft copy. That was the case with Julie and Julia last night, which I had already rented and enjoyed and now own.

 

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On the selling of books

I’ve been following It’s All Too Much
by Peter Walsh an Australian turned American declutter expert. After two read-throughs of the book, I’ve been slowly getting my head around throwing things out. I’m heartily sick of being unable to find things and this has actually been a good remedy, even if I haven’t found any of the exact things on my list. I’ve found 3 DVD’s i loved and was missing as well as two books that I had missed. No sign of the missing key or my winter wardrobe. But still.

It’s been a good practise to get into. Books I fear will be my Achilles heel. Although I have recently gone through my bookcase and have a garbage bag full of books that are not representative of me, or that I can’t bring myself to read again. I fear that I have a long way to go. I have listed 2 today on eBay, with more to come.

With a pile of books that I must get through reading, including two largely untouched library books I must get to, now is not the time to indulge in rereading or in what I call “re-try” reading. I was well behaved putting these books in the eBay pile, but as I looked through them to write up the listing., I had pangs of regret.

“maybe I should reread this one”
“I didn’t give this one a fair shot.”

“Did I get as much use out of this one as I could”

Oh if only I had infinite time time to read.

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Thinking about doing this

I think I’m becoming a hoarder.

At this point I can’t imagine living my life with 100 things–although I’d like to think I could. Maybe the idea is to start and reduce. I wonder if it is different for women than men. But then, I look around and I see:

  • half used make up,
  • unopened foundations,
  • multiple half used tubes of toothpaste,
  • books I promise myself that I’m going to read and never do (and really have no interest in)
  • seven different colours of post-it note,
  • three somewhat used spiral notebooks, and
  • three small pads.

Do you think you could?

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book review: Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Work and Life

My book review of David Allen’s Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Work and Life here got me thinking about the book in more detail.

The hardest thing about the book was also its greatest asset. The fact it was an audiobook meant that it was right there with me which not only kept me moving through the book, and mindful of the principles, both good things. I am finding having a hard copy of books with me at the points that I feel like reading harder than it once was (bad for GTD itself perhaps, but there you go), so the audio allows me to use those moments when I have a gap, but when my head is too active to enjoy nothingness.

The negatives were that it was hard to get into a groove with it because in this book unlike in the audio version of the Getting Things Done book, the quotes were included in the audiobook as well as the hard copy, and the chapters are short sharp pointers; profound but not deep, and still practical enough to have you going “Now there’s a thought.” on more than one occasion

Allen claims in the introduction that after writing Getting Things Done, he started to think about the why of the approach, why the principles he was teaching seemed (at least to him it seems) universally applicable and as such started to put together principles and essays about their application. These are those essays. They are solid as an introduction, or as a review. There is depth to them which makes the format of an audiobook without chapter markers at the end of each point hard.

It is worth while as a read even if you have no direct interest in GTD. In Allen’s words;

This program will likely validate much of what you already know and do that works. But it will also challenge you to apply that awareness in a much more conscious and consistent manner and that’s where the real power lies.

In my own words it is as much about mindfulness as file folders.The spiritual angle is tangible and makes it a lot less a business book and much more a life book.. Thinking about my own choices and the impacts I have has been useful, given that really there is nothing new under the sun. As he says

If God is all and you’re part of that, just relax

This isn’t a sponsored post but my advice is if you want to buy/borrow a copy, get a hard copy.If you want to buy this it is on Amazon.

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