Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Organizing with Refrigerator Door Magnets

magnet with drawing of a bird

If you choose to use the refrigerator door (or another surface that holds magnets) as the home for certain types of papers, you might choose to get some cool magnets — especially since magnets are one organizing tool that’s relatively inexpensive. The art print magnet above is just one of many available from Mary Ann Farley.

set of three rabbit refrigerator magnets

This magnet set from Julia Wine is one of many magnets she has to choose from.

magnets shaped like concrete blocks

If you don’t want a mini-artwork, how about a magnet shaped like a mini concrete block, from CKIE?

Strong Like Bull magnets, in many colors

If you’re concerned about whether or not your magnets will be strong enough to hold your papers, take a look at the Strong Like Bull magnets, which started out as a hugely successful Kickstarter. [via Uncrate]

refrigerator magnet, with a bear and poppies, saying I Love You, California

And finally, 3 Fish Studios has some delightful magnets for Californians — or anyone who likes the state.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Getting Organized: Do You Need to Buy New Containers?

kitchen drawer holding miscellaneous things in various containers

Many times people will already have all the containers they need — or at least many of them — if they just do a little repurposing. Here’s one example from a client I worked with recently, who gave me permission to share the photos in this post with you. A pet food bowl with a small crack is now being used to hold some corks. This allowed us to re-use something she really liked, but couldn’t use for its original purpose.

stacking baskets holding "medicine closet" supplies

But here’s a case where buying new products made sense, because it allowed us to make use of every bit of space available in a small closet. One shelf serves as a medicine cabinet, and the Zia stacking baskets fit the space perfectly.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Organizing the Desktop with Pencil Cups

pencil cup, with the words Write to the one you love; delay no more

If you don’t have a spare coffee mug you’d like to turn into a pencil cup, you certainly have plenty of other delightful options. I’m only finding this one on a single site, in New Zealand; it’s not on the manufacturer’s site, so it’s probably a discontinued product where supplies are limited. But others are more readily available around the globe.

pencil cup with line drawing of a bicycle

The Big Tomato Company has a number of interesting pen pots; of the line drawing ones, this bicycle pen pot may be my favorite. You can also find it at Unite & Type.

pencil cup with the word Bauhaus in the Bauhaus typeface

The typographic pen pots are fun, too. You can find these at Unite & Type, too.

orange and black pencil cups from Rhodia

If you’ve ever used Rhodia notebooks (or admired them in the stores), you’ll probably recognize the shade of orange on this pencil cup. This is the Rhodia ePURE Pencil Pot, made from imitation leather and available from a number of online vendors.

wood pencil cup

This pen pot from Field is made from “reclaimed yellow pine that orginated in centuries old vinegar barrels found in the state of Maryland.” It seems gorgeous — and it’s also $90. [via Better Living Through Design]

powder coated steel pencil cup

Here’s another one on the more expensive end: the Petal Cup from Dino Sanchez. That’s a powder-coated steel cup, with a red oak base. There are three color choices. [via Design Milk]

pottery pencil cup with an impression of a fern

And finally, here’s the fern leaf pencil pot from Ken's Garden Pottery. The fern leaf used to make the impression did indeed come from Ken’s garden.

Related Posts:
8 Pencil Cups to Organize Your Desktop
Organizing the Pens and Pencils: Pencil Cups and More
Organizing Your Desk: Pencil Cups from $10 to $120
4 Pencil Cups — and an Office Brush

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Checking Email in the Morning: 7 Perspectives

book cover - Never Check E-Mail In the Morning

Julie Morgenstern wrote Never Check E-Mail in the Morning — which I have not read, so this is not a book review! But Lifehacker summarizes her point this way:
Julie Morgenstern suggests spending the first hour of your workday email-free. Choose one task — even a small one — and tackle it first thing. Accomplishing something out of the gate sets the tone for the rest of your day and guarantees that no matter how many fires you’re tasked with putting out the minute you open your email client, you still can say that you got something done.
Sid Savera, a personal development trainer, agrees. He says:
When it comes to email, ignorance is bliss. That’s why if you’ve got something important you want to make progress on, I have these four words for you: Don’t check your email. As soon as you get up, work on something important for 30-45 minutes, and only then check it. If you can stand it, wait even longer. Some days I don’t check email at all until after lunch.
Sid goes on to provide seven reasons he thinks it’s a bad idea to check email first thing. He does realize that sometimes you are expecting an urgent email, so he gives you one out: It’s OK to check for something specific, as long as you limit yourself to about five minutes — and that one specific email.

But not everyone agrees! Here’s David Allen, of Getting Things Done fame:
If I never checked email in the morning, I would not be where I am, which is a nice place.
Sarah Rapp explains that she tried working on her Most Important Task first — and while she saw advantages, she also had some issues with this approach.
Even as I worked away, all of those unanswered emails loomed large. I dreaded finding out how many messages had piled up in my inbox. When I did finally tackle my email, it was a bit oppressive, and took far longer than usual to plow through because I had less mental energy.
What wound up working for Sarah was to spend 30 minutes on email, handling the urgent items, before moving on to spend an uninterrupted two to three hours on that Most Important Task.

Karyn Greenstreet says:
As a small business owner, I have a HUGE reason for reading email first thing in the morning: my customers matter to me more than anything. Most of my clients, students and mentoring group members communicate with me via email, so taking care of their needs first thing in the morning is simply good customer service. ... I read email first because it’s when I’m the freshest and smartest. Do you really want to be writing emails when your brain is fuzzy?
She goes on to explain that she makes sure she’s spending that early-morning time on the important emails, not all email.

Organizer Lorie Marrero points out that there can be very important reasons to check email in the morning. Some examples: A client may have written to cancel an appointment. She may have gotten an email notice telling her that her website was down. A reporter, working on deadline, might want to contact her. But Lorie also notes this:
There is a difference between “checking” email and “processing” email. To me, checking means seeing what has come through and noting anything that might be an urgent matter that needs attention. Processing means “doing” your email — replying, getting sucked in.
Lorie says you can check for those urgent items and then go about your project-oriented work.

Personally, I side with Sarah, Karyn and Lorie. I check email first thing in the morning; I’d be horribly antsy if I didn’t. And that doesn’t mean I get sucked into spending hours dealing with every single email when I have higher-priority things to work on; it just means I’m being responsive to the limited number of people who are either relying on me for a reply or offering me an opportunity.

If I intended to just do a quick email check to handle critical items, but knew I tended to get sucked into reading and replying to more than just those few items, I might set a timer to remind me when my first-thing-in-the-morning email time was up and it was time to move on.

But we all have different needs and preferences. You may want to experiment with different approaches — but then do whatever works best for you!