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Tudor Portraits

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


Whichever way you spell it, it's just that time of year to make a hard and fresh dash at getting things together for the coming year. Whether your goal is to be uber-organized with every element of your life under control, or just to have a more inspired and attractive space, I feel your yearning.

This lovely little post-it note To Do List from Muji is a great size.  

Inch by inch, over the past few years, I've been making headway on this (when time allows!) and it's amazing how much of an addiction organization can be.

With the cyclone-mess-creating artistic side of my nature constantly stirring up a new cloud of projects, I never actual thought my workspace could be manageable, clean, and inspiring.  (My nickname in design school was 'Pig Pen' due to the magnetic nature I had with charcoal and pencil.)

I blame the folks: my dad's got the artistic brain that needs everything laid out visually across the desk: it may look like chaos, but he seems to know where everything is, and the systems make some mysterious sense.  That's how I usually run things.

One the other side, my mom's got a a flair for labeling, organizing, and sorting things that leaves me feeling a bit intimidated.  Yep, you bet those folders are color coded. I feel this urge to be organized, too, but it's not nearly as strong as the cyclone-instinct.

Recently, I've been honing into latent clutter-mastering genes in order to keep tame the wilds of my studio and home.

Brocade on the outside, aqua blue inside,   lovely binder to use.  

Here's some of my favorite bits of advice:
Never buy organizational supplies before you've got a specific need they fulfill.
Something about organization and office supplies always draw me into their magic clutches.  They're pretty, they seem like they'll fix everything, and you want them even though you may not quite know what for yet...
Fight the urge.

Always sort out your things into categories to store first, the decide what size and type of containers will suit. Leave room to grow as well.

Otherwise, you'll end up with stacks of bins and boxes that are charming, that you don't need and that you'll feel guilty for having bought.
It will remind you of failure, which is no good at all.

If your system is beautiful and attractive, you are more likely to use it, and you'll enjoy using it.
This is especially true with filing.  I'd seen my mom's pretty colored folders, and her meticulous, aesthetically pleasing storage containers with a pang of envy.  Filing, doing my accounts and business paperwork were not inspiring, but necessary.  My papers were all over the place, my filing containers uninspired.

So, after completing last year's taxes (and taking way too long!) I followed my mom's guidance and treated myself to a lovely brocaded filing folder for my receipts and a binder for all my business papers. (Laura Ashley, WHSmiths, London).

And... everything changed.  Filing is so much more pleasant, I love the look of these objects, and no longer dread having to make use of them.  It may seem like a childish psychological trick, but it works!

Decide what you need to organize, then get something pretty to put it in.

Everyone is unique, and you have to organize according to the way you think.
Now, I have managed to organize the studio, the Etsy packing station, and my business papers in a way  that suits me, and that I'm able to maintain.  What works for my mom, or anyone else, doesn't necessarily translate into what works for me, so there's some self evaluation that needs to be done in order to find your method.
My little best friend- from Muji - helps me keep my papers in  order.

In the studio, I prefer to have a lot of places to make a mess (that can be easily cleaned up after), and to organize a lot of tools and projects at once.  And it's nice to be able to easily see waiting projects.  So, I've organized bins for works-in-progress.  Frequently used but unattractive items (like cables and printing labels) are tucked into pretty fabric-covered bins that blend in with the studio/living room furniture.

I love my inks, and they inspire me to paint, so those stay right next to the desk in sight.  Also, things that build up (paperwork, sketch piles) have to have a home that they can be chucked into quickly and instinctively, or they creep into large looming beasties. Another solution: I found a large, carved and ivory painted box to hide away all of my business items when they aren't in use.

How to kick start yourself?
The very best advice I've had has come from Julie Morgenstern's books.
Start with "Organizing From the Inside Out"and you can't go wrong (especially if you've got artist-brain.)
She'll sort out your business, home, life, and your schedule while she's at it.
Her approach is systematic but individualistic- the perfect blend, really.

Great places to get inspired:
Muji: Everything is so neat, and so sensible and compact.  So functional.
Liberty:  Design inspiration central.  Great just to get ideas for colours and schemes, even if most of the goodies are beyond budget.  Any excuse to browse is nice, though.
WHSmith, The Works, Ryman, Pound Shops:  Treasures to be found in all for the basics.  WHSmith can run a little pricey, but some good design slips in there.
(In the US, Linens N Things, Pier 1, and the Container Store were staple sources, as well as OfficeMax.)
Etsy: A great blog articles to get ideas.  Always a brilliant place for finding that certain special something.
Martha Stewart:  This can be intimidating, but she's so good at this stuff.

Go your own way.  Find what inspires you.  Use gardening pots on your desk to remind you of a favorite hobby, use an antique scale to store incoming mail.  If it makes you smile when you see it and use it, there's a great start.

What are some of your favorite organizing tricks?
Share some of your best tips...

1 comment:

  1. Just what I needed to hear! I've been through several 'organizing systems' to be able to stay on top of everything nicely and not get overwhelmed but need a little kick-start this year... to put some thought into it & realistically see what REALLY works for me. Thanks for the little tidbits--and the Julie Morgenstern books suggestion. I just heard about those from a friend (coincidence?) so must toddle over to B&N or look online for them!