Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Organizing: what do You do?


Angela said...

I have no sound advice (I am browsing blogs instead of cleaning house or preparing for going back to work), but I just wanted to say a big thank you for this post!

I have put the book on hold at the library and am compiling a list of half-finished tasks to be finished . . . later.

Motherhood has made that so hard!

Lizzy Derksen said...

I needed to read this today! Since getting married in May, I've been astounded by how difficult it is for me to write, draw, read, print magazines, or do Etsy work when my husband is around to talk to. Sometimes by the time we're both out of bed, showered and dressed and chatted and cuddled (and made-up, for me), the day is half-gone. Sometimes I need to throw on old clothes, ignore my hair, lock the door on our bedroom and work, even when it doesn't feel like enough, even when I'd like to be sitting at my desk at eight in the morning, calm and scholarly and collected.

By the way, I was thrilled to see you mention Twyla Tharp - she is a constant inspiration to me.

Sunny Rising Leather said...

Angela: yes!!! Kudos for first steps and kudos for motherhood :)

Lizzy: Oh man do I understand! Sometimes I worry that Anthony finds me freakish for trying to bound out of bed at 8 even on the weekends: I do think that snuggling and straggling about is good for the soul, too :) and the relationship!!

Amy said...

Wild. I was JUST obsessing over this today. My house is a complete mess right now thanks to renovations on all three floors and I was thinking about how I can't for the life of me really, calmly, fully, attentively get down to work until the spaces around me are clean and orderly enough to reflect the headspace I want to be in.

However, since trying to speed home reno's along generally results in mistakes and even more work, I mentally grabbed my own collar and told myself I just have to accept that it's going to be December before the house is exactly as I want it.

I cleaned the places I do have control over (my closet, my desk, my studio and bedroom), then made a list.

This is standard practice when I feel things spinning out of control. Clean something and make a list.

Every day of my planner is filled with lists. Sometimes not everything gets done on its ascribed day and I'm ok with that. I move it to the top of the next day's list. I cross everything off as I do it, no matter how important (finish the final draft of a story and send it to an editor) or insignificant (fill a jug with water and put it in the fridge so I have something cold to drink in the afternoon. That sounds unhealthily anal...the only reason this task made it to the list was because I forgot to do it four days in a row) it seems.

I know it's not a new idea, the thought of a list, but it does SO much for me to see it in writing and to get to cross it out.

Plus it's an excuse to buy another new notebook!

Anonymous said...

Loved your video posting today! Made me want to get organized. I'm one of those people who are constantly starting new projects and never finishing what I've already started. When I say projects, I mean everything, whether it be cleaning out the closet or some artsy thing. My house is in a constant state of disarray. It's very embarrassing when friends drop in unexpectedly :) One thing that does help me is giving myself a time limit. I like to listen to music, and what I'll go is give myself maybe two songs for a task. When the songs are over, I start over again with either the project I'm working on or move on to something else that needs my attention. It's like I have all these little centers that need my attention and I go all around while listening to music. I'm not bored then, and whenever I feel overwhelmed, the song is over and I move on to the next job. Eventually I'll come around again, and usually by then I'm ready to work on that project again. Does that make sense?

I also like to make lists. I find it very satisfying to cross things out. I'll make my list, put on my music, and get to cross things out later on. :)


Sunny Rising Leather said...


Aw, lists make me salivate in the best way: thank you for this!!
Your modus operandi sounds very healthily anal, my dear ;)


Sunny Rising Leather said...

CeCe - hi, you!

The musical time limit sounds like a great idea:
it only begs the question of who to listen to:
Celine Dion or Journey?
Classic Elton John or Nina Simone?

I need to try this for cleaning the studio tonight!!!


emmy d said...


I feel like I've been in a similar place recently. Mostly I've realized that I take on too many obligations and have a hard time saying no to anything. I don't realize how much I need that me time until I panic that I haven't cleaned in weeks or had time to sit and do the things I enjoy! So my first step is starting to say NO to some things so I can have time to organize!

Good luck with yours; sounds like you are doing well already!


MrsLittleJeans said...

I struggle...I let things control me until I get sick of it and then I start prioritizing! I have to mentally let go of things that I like to do if they are not of high priority. One of these days I hope to get the hang of it. : ) xoxoxo

Sunny Rising Leather said...


That is a gooood reminder. 'No' most assuredly has its place in our lives :)


Sunny Rising Leather said...


Isn't it amazing how it's like we forget over and over again that we've been 'here' before with each moment of frustration?
It boggles my mind! My husband teases me that every time I get hormonal is just like it's the very first time.
Bless our hearts! :)


novadesigns said...

funny I just completed an overhaul of my studio space! De-cluttering is good for the soul :o)

Anonymous said...

Hi Allison,
Ive been checking out your blog here and there for a (year) or so!
I too read creative habit awhile ago, will keep an eye out for the book you mentioned here!
Actually lil lady...Youre giving out some some wonderful advice right here on your blog :)
It was in regards to feeling like you dont know how to start, or what to do next (in the studio)...
You compared it to standing on a mountain pass, needing to reach the other side...You suggested just to start something small...anything, solder a jump ring. Make the first step and the rest will come.
Well, I sometimes find myself at my desk, not knowing where to start my days work...Then I think of your advice, so true. Thanks Allison! x

Nogrinnin said...

I have no advice to offer, just heartfelt thanks for this post!

I have so many to-do lists that I find myself paralyzed into inaction, and in dire need of an exit strategy or something to get my Chi flowing where it needs to go to get things done.

Thank you so much for this post! I'm going to check out that book, and whatever works for me, I will report back!

Sunny Rising Leather said...


Well, thanks my dear!!
I am loving the Twyla Tharp book, though I bet she's a smidge intimidating in real life: that is one intense lady!!

Thanks so much for writing:)

Nogrinnin: yes, please do let me know what you think! I am still in the first 1/3 of it, so I may have to post again as I work through it :)

Cat said...

Lists are my lifesavers. My biggest fear when the muse is pounding down on my brain's door with showers of ideas is to forget something. My new favorite list is not a "to do", but a "things done" list. I get to really write down all the things I started, or better, finished! Its just as satisfying as crossing things off, but much more alive feeling to me. I feel that I've really gotten things accomplished when I have a long Done list. Because, as you know, sometimes things hit you to hard and to fast to add them to a list of "to do-ness".

And then I clean my desk. I adore a clean desk almost as much as I adore mussing it up again.

Anonymous said...

I have always hated lists and I still do! When it comes to accomplishing.... the time has to be right. I think I can push a project to completion but I can't , I'll walk around and around and try to see and get frustrated but if I remember to give myself the gift of time and let the project resolve when my brain is ready life is rich... it's the waiting that is the crunch but finishing does happen and it is WONDERFUL when it does. I realize after I do this over and over that this frustration is just getting it right and I have to sit back and Let it happen in it's own time.It's good to know others out there feel the same.

Tasha Imajin said...

This post came at just the right time! I'm feeling scattered and ungrounded with too many things pending. I feel like I can't move forward because everything depends on something else. I don't even know yet which decisions I CAN make because I'm waiting on what happens first. Naturally the rest of my life is getting clogged up too. Papers, clutter, dishes, laundry. Never mind any room for creativity.

So it's time for me to take a deep breath. I just finished organizing the hall closet that was a disaster and I'll float on that high and do another little small thing.

Thank you for this!


UmberDove said...

Hello Doll!

First off, it's so comforting to feel in good company when this can be SUCH a constant struggle. We really never are alone, no?

For me, when I find myself doing the hour+ wandering in the studio unable to settle on any one thing, I know I need to get outside. To leave the air that has become static and stuffy, to run or bike or at least walk to the cafe and pick up a beverage. There is something in the self-care of these things that releases me from the grip of "needing to progress" (even though that is STILL what I want more than ever). Most of the time in these situations I need to NOT bring my sketchbook, try to NOT look too hard for inspiration, but to consciously give my brain time to relax and my body to stretch.

Secondly, I'll try to give some fresh love to my studio space. Be it a bit of cleaning or a revamped inspiration wall or just moving in new plants, just moving the air around in there always seems to bring new clarity (no static feng shui baby! Or so I sometimes attempt...).

This video and consequent thought process, by the way, was a particularly wonderful way to start my day.

Anonymous said...

Lady, I love the parallelism in our lives sometimes .. 'Getting Things Done' is sitting on my desk at the moment - I plan on reading it after vacation ;-)

I'm also gonna recommend a blog called the Simple Dollar - he's the guy that turned me on to both of the books we've been reading, and he has a nice set of posts about implementing David Allen's strategies in his own life .. it might help you in your interpretations of 'corporate speak' *grin*

I think I handle things in much the same way that you do, in this regard .. I need to have a clean workspace, a clean nest, and a clean headspace in order to really be productive. I occasionally take a weekend and just finish off all those loose ends that have been distracting me so that I can return to my projects with a fresh perspective and no distractions.

That old addage "A place for everything, and everything in its place" really works. REALLY. Stuff that doesn't have a home in my space is just in the way.

Oh - and look up the Cult of Done Manifest sometime .. I think it will make you smile, in that fierce way you have!


Ann from Montana said...

Another list maker here - and additionally a scheduler. I've been a self-employed, paid by the hour computer programming consultant for 25 years and mostly single ...and when not have been the breadwinner - so, I must get a certain amount of work done to meet committments.

But, I am also a person who needs my life mostly clutter-free. And I need some time to just fritter and time to just sit and be and enjoy. So, what works for me is a daily schedule with time slots for everything. I allow myself flexibility because that is part of the fun for me, but I start the day with a plan. Ultimately, the list and the plan are tools that keep me mostly on track...hey, I've managed to pay the mortgage and all of the other stuff on time my entire life through the ups and downs of everything :)!

The "organization", though - always a work in progress and when I get off track I try to shake it up a bit. There are always/still things I don't get to but my mantra is to love my life and live it - enjoying what each day brings, being clear on my priorities and committments and doing the best I can each day.

Sunny Rising Leather said...


I am so grateful for these incredible responses: I love how different we all are, and yet how much the same in our desire to Get things done and done well.

Reading and re-reading with gusto :)


EmeliaRo said...

I gotta say, I'm RIGHT there with ya sister. First of all, whenever I'm feeling particularly stressed and maybe falling behind (business-wise), I make someone take my little women, I load up my mac and head to Starbucks for "business meeting" with me myself and I. I find that for some reason, when I am in a setting other than my home (and have coffee that I didn't have to make myself), I am able to stay a little more focused (ie: not seeing the pile of unfolded laundry out of the corner of my eye means there is no guilt about not getting up and folding it rather than answering emails).
Also, (and I'm quite sure that this is not the best method of dealing with things but...) when I start to feel overwhelmed by something (or several somethings) I drop it all and have the mindset that "I would rather not do this right now if it means I'll be doing it with any less than all of me" with no worry for how long I might have to step away. Once I feel the pressure-cooker has let off enough steam that I can focus again (and not just focus but ENJOY it) I get back to it. Beyond that, it's just a jiggling act that is a daily adventure!!! :)

EmeliaRo said...

HAHAHAHA... I just re-read my comment and almost fell off my chair when I saw that I wrote "jiggling" instead of "juggling"... (still laughing for some reason...)

Sunny Rising Leather said...


It IS a jiggling act if you've got a booty like mine ;)!!!


You are too divine!!

the Gypsy Coast said...

I have been reading your blog for awhile and I am so excited to chime in! I have 2 kiddos, husband, 2 dogs, etc, etc, etc-the list seems to go on and on. When I am feeling overwhelmed the first thing that happens is that I retreat. I cancel commitments:meeting friends for coffee, playdates--it's all extra at that point. Second, I complete all things left undone(like you said)--all the little things get a turn. Lastly, I set the timer for 30 minutes and clean.
I guess I just declutter mentally and physically. Oh yes, I also turn off my computer.

'Rin said...

I'm not very good at organizing at the moment in my life.. I just pulled a half dozen things out of a box that I had filled by cleaning off my desk.. and are all things that need to know where they are. And life right now is definitely scattered... there is so much I need to fit in and so much I want to squeeze it, that it leaves little time for organization. However, I do find that my friends do help quite a bit when I need that extra push to get something done. :) Thanks for your insight, as always, Sunny!