June 2, 2011
Stop for a moment, and clear your computer screen of any open windows to get a good look at your desktop. What do you see? We’d predict the average Unplggd reader keeps a pretty tidy desktop workspace, as we’d assume you’ve got a good sense of organization (or at least aspirations for it). Some say what your computer desktop looks like and how it’s organized reveals a lot about you…
The statistic/infographic geniuses over at Hunch polled their readers and discovered 72% of their readers keep their computer desktops tip-top and tidy, an impressive figure considering the average person’s desktop looks like someone spilled mahjong tiles. What was even more interesting was the conclusions they came to with their desktop organization findings, which may or may not apply to Unplggd readers, but gives insight about how we organize our virtual workspaces. Key findings include:
*Men are more likely to have neat desktops, but are also apt to have too many icons on their desktop (a no-no, since it slows down OS performance).
*The older you are, the more apt you are to have a messy desktop. 12% of those belonging to the 35-49 age category had a mess on their computer.
*The more education and more liberal you are, the more likely you are to have a messy desktop. Hunch’s readers tend to skew to the left, as noted in their findings, but it makes sense those who are more conservative and like order would have neater desktops.
April 12, 2011
I work from home, so I love “going into the office.” I grab my water bottle, computer and phone and make my way out to my usually sunny and warm backyard (as I live in L.A.). I get comfy and then I’m ready to take calls from my life coaching clients. I love the work I do and could coach clients for hours on end (all over the phone).
What I absolutely dread, however, is invoicing my clients. It takes so much time and effort for me. And, I have to think about numbers. This is definitely not my strong suit.
We all have parts of our business and work/life that we dread. What do you dread in your work/life? What would be possible for you in your work/life if you could shift the dread to joy? The four relatively easy steps below will help you do just that – turn your work/life dread into work/life joy.
1. List all the things in your work/life that you dread on a daily weekly or monthly basis on one side of a sheet of paper.
2. On the other side shift your perspective and find an aspect of that task that brings you some joy or lights up your heart – even just a tiny bit. Here’s an example:
Dread: I have to send out invoices to clients.
Joy: I get to remind people of the amazing value that I offer them. I get to collect money for work I am passionate about. I’ll receive money to help me better live my life.
3. When you engage in that task repeat the “Joy Perspective” to yourself over and over even if it doesn’t quite feel totally true for you yet. Over time it will feel more and more natural.
4. Post up sticky notes with your “Joy Perspectives” on them everywhere. Post them in your fridge, in your glove compartment, on your computer screen, on your bedpost – any place that you will see them. Remind yourself often of the joy that is yours to have!
Have a great month. I’m off to joyfully (and thankfully) go invoice my clients.
llustrations by Jordan Awan
April 1, 2011
New York City-based Angela Kantarellis is a professional organizer. She founded her business, AKorganizing, in 2006 and since then has helped hundreds of busy New Yorkers get organized both at home and at the office. Angela, who is an active member of the National Association of Professional Organizer, holds a master’s degree in psychology from the New School for Social Research – which must come in handy when dealing with her clients!
With tax deadlines around the corner we asked Angela to help out Lifework readers with a few key organizing tips. Feel free to add your own tips or questions in the comment section. I know Angela would love to hear from you.
Above: Angela’s home office and her dog, Max.
The key to a stress free tax season is to have a system in place to collect receipts and tax related documents throughout the year. It’s a classic organizing principle of “a place for everything, everything in its place.”
1. Prepare a Tax Folder in January for the year ahead. Place the folder at the front of one of your file cabinet drawers for super easy access. You want to gather all of your tax related documents in one place throughout the year – even though you won’t necessarily be looking at them till the following January. If you make charitable contributions for example, put the acknowledgment letter into your tax folder. Use a checklist to determine if you have all the documents you need. If your accountant hasn’t given you a check list, use your previous year’s taxes as a guide.
2. Collect receipts in a centralized location. A client of mine who works out of her home office simply puts all receipts in a basket on top of her file cabinet. Once a month she enters the receipts into a spreadsheet. She includes income at the top followed by expenses. At the end of the year she totals each of the categories and voila – she has a list of all of her income and expenses. You can also use a software program like QuickBooks to track income and expenses for your business.
3. Don’t wait till the last minute but if you did…don’t panic. Are your receipts and 1099’s buried under mounds of papers with no records of your income and expenses in sight? There’s still time to get organized. Use the quick sort method to locate your tax related documents. You’ll need a staging area – an area to do all of your sorting. Gather all your receipts in one pile. Sort by category. Total all of your categories. Enter into a spreadsheet. Locate your end of year credit card statements. Highlight tax deductible expenses. Add to your spreadsheet. Review your checkbooks. Pull out personal expenses such as medical and education that can be deducted. Add to spreadsheet. Do the same for business expenses. Not sure what’s deductible? Use last year’s tax return as a guide.
March 22, 2011
I bet you’re busy. Do you own your own business or work from home? Maybe you have a family or volunteer in your community. How’s that work-life balance coming along?
If you are like most of the people I know then you’d probably like to have more time for yourself in your busy life. I call this “Me Time” – you know, that time that replenishes you – that time that you carve out just for yourself to slow down or do something exciting and fun.
How much time do you spend on yourself each day? Where do you fall on your to-do list – at the top, in the middle or dead-last? Most people put themselves last and think that they can’t afford to make time for themselves. They think their work or family will suffer if they take time out of their busy schedules for themselves.
Actually it is just the opposite. The more rejuvenating time you carve out for yourself the more energy you’ll have to give to your work, family and anything else you choose. When you fill yourself up first you have exponentially more to give. Here are some Me Time tips to slip into your work-day.
1. Date. Make a date with yourself at least once a day. Go for a walk around the block, go for tea/coffee, sit on your front or back stoop for 5 minutes and watch the world go by. Get creative.
2. Connect. Call one friend/family member that you like to talk to during your drive home from work each day (or during your lunch break if you work from home – have a lunch date over the phone). This can be a great, structured way to stay connected. Or, email a friend/family member just for fun each day.
February 22, 2011
Part 2 – Decluttering the Surface
The background: My desk has historically been an impending avalanche. The problem is not only that there is stuff piled on stuff, but I don’t know what to do with the stuff once I want to put it away. Here’s last week’s post.
Since I embarked on Project: Desk a week ago I started noticing some things about myself. Which are not all that attractive. One thing is that I don’t have good follow-through on tasks. Or maybe more accurately, I follow-through, but not in chronological – or even logical — order. So I’ll start an email, then go make a cup of chai, then pick up the living room, and then go back to the email. My desk is in between the living room and the kitchen, so all kinds of things end up on it while I’m distracted by the next item on the to-do list.
This happens in the kitchen too. The other night, surrounded by salad greens on the floor and all over the counter, I pointed out my realization to my husband, Steve. “Why do you think I call you Edward Scissorhands?”
A change in my behavior that will lead to my redemption. The union of thought and action will help me overcome this chronic disorganization, which puts me in a bad mood and makes me too stressed out to go to yoga.
I learned two major things this week. The first – great advice came in from comments on the first blog entry — is about shredding and tossing things you don’t need. I had dinner with my friend Joanna, who is basically perfect. She’s a brown-eyed blonde beauty, a supersmart former corporate VP-turned-shrink. She has a rich spiritual life and laughs at my jokes and is probably one of the best advice-givers I know. But the annoying thing is that she is also very well organized. She told me, as she gripped a cilantro-ginger shrimp with her chopsticks, that she normally just puts each thing in its place when it comes through. She doesn’t even think about it. When she’s too busy, she has everything in a grocery bag that she can stash and then tackles it on Sunday.
The other thing I learned is that I don’t mind cleaning up as long as I have a little reward for myself. I only watch two TV shows, 30 Rock and The Office, which happily, are available online. So I’ve made a new rule: While I’m cleaning my desk off, I absolutely must also be watching something I enjoy. Or the other way around.
So today I’m sitting at my newly clean desk, with some tulips and a Valentine’s Day card in the feng shui relationship area. I have a lot more to do. Empty out drawers. Get rid of adaptors for long-gone electronics. Sort through a giant redwood tree’s worth of clean paper and envelopes. Figure out where to store the books I need to read and review for 40licious so they don’t get all mixed in with my Latin primer from college. Why am I keeping a Latin primer from college anyway? That is another story that involves books as a cultural shorthand to a person.
What I’m realizing is that I don’t have to do it all in one day. If I break Project: Desk up into phases and really think about what’s next and why, chances are I’ll make some changes that really work.
PS – In case you were wondering, frēti fidē tuā nōn timēbimus means “Relying on your trustworthiness, we shall not fear.”
February 15, 2011
Part 1 – The Problem
You know how it’s only when addicts plummet to the bottom that they can begin to rebuild their lives? So it goes with my home office. Which I, over the next many weeks, hope to transform into a beautiful, functioning workspace where thoughts will soar and inspiration will flow in like a spring breeze.
I thought the antique sheet music storage would be good for my paper organization. Apparently not.
Some background: I live in a delightful two-bedroom 1947 condo in Southern California with my über-supportive and well-meaning husband, Steve. We are not terrifically messy people, but we’re not completely compulsive either. What the architect intended to be a dining room is my workspace, open for all to see. There’s a desk and several bookshelves. And in an attempt to be organized, I have purchased many holdy-things: snappy cardboard boxes in attractive colors and prints, a file rack that goes on the wall, desk organizers and under-desk storage. I thought it was a genius move to commandeer a cedar hope chest as a filing cabinet and stick one of those press-on lights to the inside of the lid, but I have not opened it since I tucked away papers I apparently can’t live without two months ago. Steve tried to put up a shelf but ended up with a precarious installation that seems like it’s trying with all its might to escape the wall and go back to Ikea. There is a lot of glue where I think screws are supposed to go.
This shelf is defying all known physical laws as it pulls away from the wall and still stays up. Hopefully there will be no animals or people nearby during an earthquake.
I think I may have all the tools for effective organization, but there is a user-error issue here. My office is where I write magazine stories and work on my blog. There is always an impending avalanche of paper. My tax guy told me to save all my receipts, but I honestly do not think that the IRS cares that I spent $26.29 on sheep’s milk gouda, Valrhona chocolate and lavender-scented laundry detergent at Trader Joe’s. My desk is covered with menus and brochures from travel story research, “inspiration” pages torn from magazines, photos that are not important enough to frame but too dear to toss, mortgage re-fi paperwork, postcards from the vet reminding me that my dog is due for a dental cleaning – you get the idea. Pretty much everything.
I found this perfectly good inbox in my neighbor’s trash. I put wedding invitation stationary in it. I got married in August so I hope I won’t need it again any time soon.
Once I hired a woman to help me organize my office, and after her two-hour show of folding and tossing and filing, I thought, “Well that was easy enough. I didn’t need to pay anyone, I could have done that.” And then everything went to hell the next week.
These are my desk drawers. I like to play a little game called “find the scissors.”
The issue is that I need a system. I need to know what to do with each piece of paper, each electronic accoutrement, each business card and bank errata that passes my way.
How do you do stay clear and organized in your workspace so that you can actually produce? Welcoming all suggestions, and I thank you in advance.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
December 28, 2010
Dee Adams is an interiors consultant, an artist and a senior producer at Yahoo! She lives in a airy loft in Oakland, California where she paints as much as her day job allows. I came across Dee on Ann Gorman’s blog, Where People Create. Here, I talk to Dee about her work, the practicalities of creating in a loft and how she fits it all in.
How long have you worked from home? I’ve been working from home in some form or another for the past 14 years. I’ve stolen hours where I can find them in between sleep and my various day jobs, so home has always been a continuous place of work.
Tell us a bit about your work? I wear a lot of hats around here including graphic designer, painter, boss lady, blogger and interiors consultant. By day I’m a Senior Lead Product Designer at Yahoo! and in all my in-between hours I’m running the studio here producing work for personal clients. Most of my fine art clients reside in New York, San Francisco, London and Sydney with work in both private and corporate collections. Graphic design clients include Taschen, GOOD Magazine and design shops like Rare Device and Renegade Handmade. I produce a wide range of products like interactive user interfaces, paintings, illustrations, logos, and infographics.
How big is your work space? The loft is 2200 square feet on the ground floor where most of the work occurs. Larger art pieces are transported in through the heavy double wooden doors. The living area upstairs has been deemed a no work zone.
Is there any form of technology that really inspires you? I’m a bit old school. Blank paper and canvas still get the best response out of me because that’s where all my ideas start. Technical drawing pencils also get me excited. But if I had to pick a newer item, I’d definitely say high-end audio headphones. I’m a bit of a collector and audiophile when it comes to them and the bigger the better. I love headphones where the modern components are hidden inside retro looking shells.
What desk accessory can’t you do without? My orange flip clock. I can hear the gears grinding and it keeps me on task. It’s a stunning bit of machinery and always gorgeous to look at. When the days and nights blur together as I obsess over another project, it reminds me where and when I am.
Do you have any tips for organizing a home work space? I live and work in basically a large rectangular box. If something is out of place or disorganized you notice it pretty quickly. To stay organized means knowing my limits when it comes to how much I can store. The loft has no built in storage so supplies are kept to the level of what’s necessary to complete the job. Paintings are often hung to maximize the immense wall space and serve as a gallery display when clients come over for viewings. I also tend to group and organize items by colour so that they give the appearance of being part of a related group. My biggest secret is that my vintage lunch box collection serves double duty as a filing system for important papers and business receipts. Finding creative ways to keep organized allows me to keep the space from getting too cluttered.
August 2, 2010
A rather elegant cat landed in my inbox recently. Alexie Hiles, an illustrator and graphic designer based in France, sent the images through of Mr Grey in response to our Pets in the Office series. I was intrigued by her space and her work so I asked her to share a little bit more.
How long have you worked from home? I’ve been working from home full time as freelance graphic designer for 3 years, I’m working mostly in the fields of institutional and culture communication in France. I am also an illustrator, which I enjoy most and I try to post a sketch as often as possible on my tumblr blog. I would love create children books now! I’ve always had a place to draw where I lived as long as I can remember.
And where is home? Our home is in Lille, in the north of France, between Paris, Brussels, London and Amsterdam. I really enjoy living in one of Europe’s cross roads. We bought our house 2 years ago from one of my partner’s former architecture teachers. I like the idea that the place where I spend most of my days has been a home office for a long time.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? The house was built in 1930, we are furnishing it slowly with furniture found in jumble sales or vintage stores from the 30′s to the 50′s. The home office is the place where I feel free to stick any pictures I love anywhere on the walls just because I want to be able to see them all the time (and take it away when I’ve had enough of it). It is full of tins, old books and toys I find everywhere.
How do you keep your office organized? I’m thinking here of the physical space but also your computer. I organize myself with a pen and a paper – everything starts in my big blue notepad (they are always the same, I only change the colors of cover when I buy a new one). All my lifework is in there. I once threw one away by mistake, and had to have a look in the street paper recycling bin to find it… my neighbors thought I’d gone mad that day. When my notepad’s closed my workday is finished. Also shelves! Plenty of them – so that books, magazines etc. can stand vertically, instead of horizontally in piles. Filling the shelves with the books I love when moving in, it is always a great pleasure.
Are there any particular programs you find really useful? I use Skype everyday, it changed my way of working in team with other freelance graphic designers, they became kind of colleagues in a way!
When you were setting up your home office what did you keep in mind? When we moved into this house the ground floor walls, where I work now, were already covered with bookshelves which was ideal, and the former landlord had given us a beautiful old “double desk”. We just had to refresh the white paint, sit down, and work. We added a big old workshop table where I like to draw because it is far from the computer and a big “cat-approved” sofa to make the place warm and comfortable, friends are always welcome to sit down and have a drink and a biscuit.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet? Honestly not really… I might need to find a place on the walls for a proper inspiration board to avoid flyers, articles and post cards everywhere, that’s all I am thinking of for the moment.
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? My “gigantic” screen, I miss it when working away from home on my portable computer.
What would you change about your own workspace? My workspace is a bit dark in winter, I need better lighting.
What do you most love about your space? When the sliding glass windows are wide opened in spring and summer I feel like working outside and I love it.
What inspires you? I receive the Grain Edit newsletter every day. I love art and graphic design from the 50′s, I love the clear, simple and efficient style. I admire the way artistes use subtle and bright colors. Charley Harper is one of my favorite illustrator. I also admire japanese illustrators such as Yoshitomo Nara, for the same reasons I guess. Apart from this, I think that if you pay attention around you, everyday life is always very inspiring.
Balance, Design, Products
July 9, 2010
Check out this office makeover. Erin Doland from Unclutterer took on the job to reorganize Levy’s home office in the Berkshires. And it’s a great success – as is the way Wired has presented the story. They are graphic design geniuses over at that magazine! We interviewed Erin back in February and you can see her office here.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
June 3, 2010
Ghislaine Vinas, who recently won Benjamin Moore’s 2010 Hue Award, is based in New York and was one of our visitors at the Herman Miller stand during ICFF. Ghislaine’s interiors are a warm take on modernism that utilize a strong and saturated color palette. Here we talk to the designer about her work space at the country home she bought 6 years ago.
How long have you worked from home? This is my desk at our country home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. We bought the house in 2004, spent a year renovating it and have been working on the interiors ever since. Being an interior designer, designing my own house is torturous and I don’t think I will ever be finished! If I need to get work done during the weekend and I’m not out on the deck with my laptop, you can find me here. I mostly use the time away from my New York City office to look for inspiration and to come up with new ideas.
And where is home? Home from Monday – Friday afternoon is downtown New York City. I’ve lived in the same loft for over 20 years right on the Hudson River. We work from the loft too. But life is crazy in the city and after my husband and I had our two little girls we decided to get a country house near my sister in Pennsylvania. So Friday evening to Sunday evening our home is in the country. It’s a little old farmhouse that my husband and I lovingly renovated with the help of my sister’s husband, Glenn who is a contractor.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? I would say that my style is modern, fresh, clean happy and a wee bit quirky. I like things that can be cleaned off easily, I dont like too much clutter but I like that my home reflects who I am. I get enjoyment out of being surrounded by things I have found around the world or even in my back yard from local garage sales or flea markets.
As an interior designer with multiple clients how do you keep your office organized. The New York apartment pictured above seems typical of your work – strong bursts of color against a fairly minimal backdrop of white? We specialize in one style – we are not an office that does traditional through to contemporary – we stick to simple happy modern – this helps keep our samples to a minimum and has helped clean up things a lot in the NYC office. Over the years I have honed my style so I dont want fabrics or other samples lying around that I dont intend to use. Two years ago we got rid of all our brochures and binders and it was such a relief to “clean house” Everything is online anyway so we are good at bookmarking our favorite sites and pieces.
We keep all our fabric samples in drawers – there are 16 big drawers all color coded. Our tiles and other materials we keep in drawers too for easy access. We have big boxes that we keep sample in on projects we are currently working on and its always great to see how all the materials start coming together. All other material is kept in giant client binders – these binders contain everything from plans and elevations to color inspiration and specific furniture pieces. The binders are evolving constantly as we work on the projects.
Are there any particular computer programs you find really useful? I used to have interns do weekly color copies of magazine inspirations and I kept them in a giant lateral file but now we use Evernote to organize all my inspirational images as well as furniture pieces that I really dont want to forget. So now when I am looking for something its such a breeze to find.
When you are designing a home office what do you keep in mind? I keep in mind that peoples lives are busy and we dont always have time to put things away – this means that a stack of bills on the desk top may be reality. So a nice paper tray could be a smart investment. I try and reduce clutter by having upper cabinets that are easy to reach from a seated position that can store unattractive real life things you need at your desk. Also essential is a good “box box file” drawer right next to the desk. Top drawer for essentials including check books, good hand cream and lip balm , second drawer for stationary and stamps and the bottom drawer for filing monthly bills. You also need good lateral files for all the other things that need filing like taxes and investment, school and other info.
An attractive trash can under the desk never hurts . Its always nice to have a beautiful cup holder for pens and stationary and a beautiful stapler, tape holder and paper clip holder. Recently I have started working with personal organizers so that my clients can have perfect tabs on all their files holders and just the right drawer dividers.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet? I love the Airia desk (and seriously not because its for Herman Miller) and I adore the big e15 table especially in yellow (above). I dream of having a giant desk like it. I love my vintage saarinen chair that I have in my PA house. I had it reupholstered in a brilliant magenta – it makes the perfect desk chair.
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? A cup of coffee in my right hand. I would really love to get a set of “Anything” desk accessories (below).
What would you change about your own workspace? Well, my little spot in PA is kinda perfect for me but my office in New York needs help. In New York we sit at long white counters and although I can look out the window at the river from where I sit, I would love to have a freestanding table to work from. I would love to get a giant table maybe vintage or Baroque looking and have it shop finished in a crazy color – like fluorescent red. Then everything around it would be white. A giant inspiration board is the second thing on my wish list. My little space in PA feels personal and has an aesthetic, my New York space is about function and lacks personal style.
What do you most love about your space? Well, my space in my PA house is very special to me – it’s full of fun little memories because all the pictures on the wall were given to me either by the artist themself or by friends. I love looking out the window and daydreaming. There are always bunnies out there in the spring and summer and it’s so ridiculously idyllic that it makes me smile. I love my comfy magenta chair and the pop of color the rolling file add. I love that I can go out and pick some flowers from the garden and put them on the desk. In the pictures are peonies from my front yard.
What inspires you? Anything bright and happy. I love seeing unexpected color combinations. I love seeing things that are out of scale – an image of something small that has been enlarged or visa versa. I love animal objects. The beach is my favorite place in the world and inspires me. I love my girl’s (Mia Soleil and Saskia Luna) art work. I love designing with my husband Jaime. I am inspired by very smart people who are also creative and who don’t take themselves too seriously. Collaborations with clients get my heart racing. Graffitti and urban wall art is beautiful and surprising.
Images: The PA office: Jaime Vinas, the New York apartment: Eric Laignel