March 14, 2011
Part 5: Zen of Organization
When I started my desk organizing project a month ago what I really wanted was to just clear off the clutter that so easily accumulated. I’d use the mess as an excuse not to blog, or work on my book, or do projects that I’d promised people. And then I’d feel sorry for myself because my life is sooo busy and I’m sooo tired at night when I come home from the day job and I just couldn’t even begin to think about working on my own stuff because my desk was so messy.
Above: Vanessa’s desk before the clean-up…and after.
As in any heroine’s journey, I met people along the way who helped – beginning with readers who offered advice. Angela Kantarellis of AK Organizing, my perfect friend Joanna and my professional organizer cousin Elizabeth McGrady all helped me to understand that each thing has a place based on frequency of use and accessibility.
Maybe it’s a coincidence or maybe it’s part of a bigger whole of which I am not yet aware, but I also started meditating regularly in the last month. That helps me be less scattered and more focused, and lo, my desk has been clean every day. I’ve kept to a process that helps me just concentrate on doing one thing at a time, and doing it well, whether it’s something as simple as filing materials for a story I’m working on, or monumental, like organizing paperwork for our adoption.
I have spent the last 15 years doing yoga, where the teaching is to be mindful and pay attention to what you are doing, and observe yourself doing it. This leads to clarity. But somehow it took a desk organization project to really make it sink in.
My mindfulness around my work area has had happy halo effects for the kitchen and my clothes (I have a little bit of OCD and change my mind about my outfit at least once every morning). I also gutted and reorganized our linen and tool closet. Our house has no major mess drama anymore. Except the shoe closet. But that is another story for another time.
March 14, 2011
Sandra Draskovic writes about architecture and design from her apartment in Belgrade. Here she shares the snowy view and her work habits.
Tell us about the kind of work you do. How long have you worked from home? And where is home? I’ve been working as freelance journalist in the field of architecture and interior design for more than five years. Parallel to regular full-time employment as an architect and project manager, I’ve been managing my passion for writing from home after working-hours and after a while my home desk became my office station. I stopped my full-time architectural practice last year due to the financial crisis and I’ve decided to work now from home. I’m settled at the moment in Belgrade. But I know, in this era of the internet, that wherever I move or travel I can relocate or build a “temporary office”. My home is in a district known as “Blokovi.”
Describe your style and how it relates to the space you work in and also the work you produce. I like to be well informed, that means constant daily review of hundred of blogs, websites, magazines. So when it comes to a particular projects, I never search for inspiration, it’s already there. My architectural design strategy is based on multilevel data research, starting from detailed site and environment analysis, cultural and political conditions, economic possibilities, to develop programs and generate contemporary architectural shapes. The client is involved in the process and plays a big role in shaping the brief and the project. Most of them are so excited to be part of the first stages of design and that’s how they appreciate more each step made afterward. When you work from home there is no part-time or full-time. You’re available!!!
Above: Sandra’s design for hotel resort on Danube Island
How do you keep your work space organized? When we speak of “space” we can think about virtual space. I think it is important to be well organized there as it is in any real space around us. So for example on my computer I have big folders named after the groups such as “projects”, “inspiration”, “pics”, “research”, “education”. The physical space around me needs to be just as organized with only laptop and notebook on the table. Bookshelf and small coffee table near the sofa are occupied with books, magazines, brochures and other paper-material for research, learning and inspiration. I like to hang posters or souvenirs from trips. At the end of the day our space is who we are.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
March 11, 2011
Where we’ve been this week…
1. Best Buy because their wesbite is well set out and their prices are excellent. And they sell PC latops (I need one for IE) and the iPad 2. Win win. I was at the Culver City Best Buy this afternoon and there was a line of 3 milling around waiting for the iPad2 as opposed to 300 at the Apple store in Santa Monica.
2. The New York Times for their Japanese earthquake coverage. All else pales in the face of such devastation. Also check out the National Post for extraordinary photo coverage.
3. Brain Pickings because I didn’t get invited to TED…and Maria Popover did. Excellent reporting.
4. Oh Happy Day for making us feel like we were in Paris.
5. Grain Edit for the Tad Carpenter studio tour – great work space.
6. Apartment Therapy for the post on the set of the new version of Jane Eyre. I saw the movie last week and it’s incredibly beautiful. Well worth a look.
7. The Modern Home for its mix of design coverage with a good dose of sweets (those cookies look good!)
8. Happiness is for its post on $200 relax shacks. I think they’d make a great little home office.
9. Google Sightseeing for armchair travel during lunch breaks.
10 Street Museum iPhone app because it is just plain cool.
Balance, Design, Technology
March 10, 2011
Over on Twitter we’ve started a Twtpoll asking what iPad apps are helping you be more productive at work? I am pointing this out rather selfishly because we are FINALLY getting an iPad.
My husband is chief technology officer in the family. He’s my IT guy and general wizard when it comes to things you plug in (thankfully not in that weird Charlie Sheen wizard way). He is also a serious early adopter. I only realized how much I appreciated that when he decided we really should wait for the second generation iPad to come out. What!? We were going to have to wait for that gorgeous piece of design? Yep. Surely I need it for work. Surely. But after much discussion we agreed to wait. And the wait seemed eternal.
Tomorrow we have a date at the Apple store It’s our 11th wedding anniversary and we’re going to treat ourselves to the iPad 2. Romantic? For some, no. For us, yes! And let’s hope there are still some in stock. I am too old to camp out so we definitely wont be first in line at 5am when the store opens. I called Apple to find out if there was anything we could do to ‘book’ one and the guy just laughed at me. I even tried the wedding anniversary line and he wasn’t buying it. We’ll just have to line up like everyone else.
Let’s say that we will have that iPad in our hot little hands tomorrow. I would really like to know what apps you use. Which ones help your work life run more smoothly? I use Simplenote but there’s got to be so much more out there. Take the Twtpoll and I will report back in a week or so the results. Hopefully we’ll have a great list of apps to share.
March 10, 2011
A full creative life involves many twists and turns. Being open to them creates new opportunities. Artist, writer and healer Ann Faison holds an MFA from Cal Arts in Music and Art, and her work has been exhibited widely including at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Since the birth of her daughters she has discovered writing and body work are an integral part of her artistic life. Her first book, Dancing with the Midwives, has just been released. Here Ann describes her means to keeping it all in order.
My ideal workspace is spare, sparse, empty and clean. That way I can walk in, set down something I have in mind to draw, and draw it. Or I can sit my computer on the empty desk and write clear, succinct expressions, unhampered by the clutter and clumpy detritus that clogs my home.
Children (and cats) are exceptionally messy. Their boundless enthusiasm makes life one big tangle that is constant. How to untie the knots of an over-scheduled day. How to clear the rubble of snack time, meal time and glitter-glue time. How to cleanse the crustiness of the growing child. Dried cheerios in the jacket pocket. Rocks in the washing machine. I am not particularly neat, but the messier my life is, the more order I crave.
March 9, 2011
Hey students, we want to know where your hub is. Where do you work, socialize, connect and recharge? This is a video competition and for all the details go here. You’ve got til March 25 to send in your entry. Oh, and first prize? $2500. We’re really looking forward to seeing what you come up with. And if you need a little inspiration you can check out last year’s winner here.
March 9, 2011
Architecture and design journalist Sandra Draskovic responds to the post we ran yesterday asking “If you could choose anywhere to work where would that place be?” Look out for more from Sandra in the coming week as she shares her Belgrade home office.
“Where would I work? It would be “central” shaped building with 360 degree view, and then again, the best would be a possibility of the view changing (revolving kinetic architecture) to get inspiration and be aware of contact with an environment.
1. Villa ‘Il Girasole’
This is a revolving L-shaped structure in Po Valley, not far from Verona. It was built between 1930 and 1935 by Angelo Invernizzi and interior designer Ettore Fagiuoli with the help of their artist, furniture designer, and architect friends.
2. Rolf Disch’s Rotating House
Rolf Disch designed this home, known as the Heliotrop, with solar-collecting panels on top that follow the sun all day long, but the real feat of engineering comes from the structure itself. The entire house rotates on a central axis. The front of the house is composed of triple-glazed glass to point toward that glowing ball of gas in the sky during the winter, while a heavily insulated backside rotates around to keep the heat at bay during those warm summer months.
March 9, 2011
Trust prolific industrial designer extraordinaire, Yves Behar, to think of a novel form factor for the mundane task of searching TV listings. His Peel Fruit ($99.95 from the Apple store) looks to tasty product for hardware inspiration for searching television content.
Available in pear, orange and apple, the Peel Fruit works together with a iOS app (with an Android version on its way).
By Gregory Han.
This story appears in partnership with Unplggd, a site for people who embrace technology and design in their home.
Balance, Design, Technology
March 9, 2011
What’s better than a playlist from a designer/musician? Check out this compilation from Matthew Thornton—co-owner of Armchair Studio and guitarist for the band Hawks & Doves.
What do you listen to while you work? I usually start the morning with Sesame Street (nothing beats that harmony between Bert & Ernie in their “Great Adventures” theme song). Then it’s on to NPR’s Morning Edition and usually I switch to John in the Morning on KEXP Seattle (streaming through iTunes) as soon as he starts. The afternoon is either listening to what I’m working on, or a lot of tangential playlisting. I usually have one strange 30-song playlist that makes sense to no one but me, and I listen to ad nauseum for about a week. Every time I get in the car with my wife remarks on how she’s “completely sick of this playlist,” and I’m always a bit surprised that she was even listening. I think the point is that music for me has a way not of being supplemental to my reality, but rather replaces a good deal of what I should be paying attention to.
How do you listen? I run everything through my Apogee One. iTunes, recording apps, the works. It sits on my desk in a little tripod stand, and it’s ready to listen to me whenever I have something to say. When recording, I listen out of that through my Sennheiser headphones (everyone needs a pair of good studio headphones). They put me inside the music, where speakers put the music near me. When I’m not using headphones, I had a custom cable made that lets me take the output of the Apogee One and run it through my Bose sound dock. Audiophiles will laugh, but I don’t care. Limited space, and sounds a a lot better than just about everything else that fits in my little apartment studio.
March 8, 2011
Maybe it’s about time you finally update from those tiny and tinny sounding computer speakers you’ve lived with. For small space dwellers, an iPod dock can be an advisable option for music/audio entertainment. Consider one of these higher end docking units, a little bit pricey compared to cheaper, more common models. But what they lack in budget conscious price, they make up in sound quality…and looks. Here are our favorites.
B&W Zeppelin The Zeppelin is a speaker system with an iPod docking station that fills a room with deep, lifelike sound, and delivers musical detail that you won’t believe your iPod is capable of. We love the simple design and easy to use interface. 30-pin iPod connector, 3.5mm mini jack analogue/optical, digital USB 2.0 slave (for software upgrades) it also outputs S-video (via mini DIN).
We’re currently in the process of testing out their latest Apple Airplay-compatible, Zeppelin Air, an updated model which improves on the original in both features and sound. Review in detail coming soon.