Erin Doland is a very organized woman, it’s her profession so you’d hope so. Erin edits Unclutterer, a cleanly-designed blog that doles out organizing advice with a good dose of humor. And as she says in her bio “she believes in buying quality over quantity, and experience has taught her that a clean, uncluttered home is an essential component of a less stressful life.” We couldn’t agree more.
How long have you worked from home…and where is ‘home’? I’ve been working from home since June 2006. My husband has been working from home since 2000. We share an office, and our desks are just seven feet apart. It’s an arrangement that works extremely well for us, but we are quite aware that it wouldn’t work for all couples. Home is in Fairfax County, Virginia — right outside Washington, D.C. [Decor8 has a tour of their home].
What does an average work day involve? If it’s a work day at home: Wake up at 7:00, and I’m at my desk writing by 7:30. I’ll write straight through until 10:00 a.m. At 10:00, I take on Dash Detail (my son’s name is Dashiell, and he’s 7 months old) and hang out with him until 12:30. Lunch is from 12:30 until 1:30 with the family. At 1:30 I’m back at my desk working, which is typically full of administrative duties — responding to e-mail, patrolling comments on the site, checking in with the Unclutterer staff, returning phone calls, answering media inquiries, etc. If I have time left, I’ll do some more writing. At 3:30 I’m on Dash Detail again for two hours. At 5:30 we fix and eat dinner. By 6:30 p.m. I’m at my desk again finishing up any projects that didn’t get completed for the day. I usually call it quits for the work day by 7:00 or 7:30 p.m.
Is there any form of technology that really inspires you? I have some tech I enjoy using, though — my MacBook, my Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M, my Thermaltake BlacX storage that I use for easy laptop backups, and my 26″ Dell monitor.
How do you organize your space? My home was designed in the late 1950s by a regionally-famous architect named Charles Goodman. Goodman apparently didn’t believe in built-in storage. Our house only has two small drawers (which are in the kitchen) and our entire house has two closets (one of those closets is in the bedroom for clothing — there isn’t a single built-in cabinet or drawer in the bathrooms). As a result, a good amount of our furnishings serve as design and storage elements.
My desk is a series of Elfa shelves that I purchased at The Container Store. I needed the vertical space to hold office supplies and items necessary for me to do my work, so I chose function over form. My office is 100 percent utilitarian. I’ll admit that I could greatly benefit from having an interior designer come in and help me make it look more attractive, but since no one sees it but my family and myself that’s a pretty low priority for me. The things I need most often are within an arm’s reach, and things I need less often are stored on higher shelves. I have a Cramer Kik-Step to help me access the higher shelves. And I use DevonTHINK Pro Office to organize my documents on my laptop.
Can you list three office pieces that are essential to keeping some kind of order? 1. Our Fujitsu scanner is essential for keeping paper clutter under control. I don’t need to keep most pieces of paper that come into my life, so I scan anything that is important and shred and/or recycle the physical item. The software with the scanner has optical character recognition (OCR), so I can easily search the content of all of the documents on my computer using Google Desktop.
2. The papers I have to keep for legal reasons are organized in my filing cabinet thanks to the FreedomFiler system. Seth, the owner of the company, e-mailed me three years ago and asked if I would like to try his product. When it arrived, it was an envelope full of filing tabs and a small instruction pamphlet. I actually thought it was a joke. After I read the pamphlet, though, I decided to give it a try. These goofy little filing tabs transformed my filing cabinet from a mess into a work of art. It’s a perfect system for people like me who don’t know how long to hold onto documents and which ones I need to keep and which ones I don’t. I’m a big fan.
3. Comfortable and ergonomic desk chairs. I have a Humanscale Freedom Task Chair and my husband has a Herman Miller Aeron. When designing our offices, we calculated how many hours we sit at our desks a day, and immediately went out shopping for quality chairs. No other pieces of furniture [including the couch pictured below] in our house are used more often.
What item from your desktop can you not do without? My laptop. It’s an extension of my brain — anything I can’t retain in my head is stored on my computer. I have an online and onsite backup system in place because I wouldn’t be able to function if I lost the data on my computer.
What’s the one area in your life where you’re not organized? I’m really bad about keeping in touch with people outside my immediate family. Beyond family, I have three friends who hear from me regularly. Thankfully, one of my closest friends is truly gifted at bringing people together and so I have some semblance of a social life. I’m also grateful for services like Twitter and Facebook where I can log on and learn who has had babies and who is getting married, etc. My social life is in complete disarray.
What inspires you? Every where I look and every thing I encounter inspires me. It sounds like such a fake answer, but it’s true for me. I look at a stack of books on my nightstand and think, “I could write about ways to get rid of clutter on your bookshelf.” My cat bit my foot once and it inspired me to write about taming pet fur tumbleweeds. Life is amazing and I find inspiration in every aspect of it.