Organizing – a process not an end point

Sometimes people I know personally are self-conscious about letting me see their spaces – afraid I might critique their systems.  Other times, I get requests for ways to tweak and improve on things.  Fortunately I love what I do and am happy to talk about ideas and even get hands on.

Recently I was with some family and she was probably a little of both of the above – a little concerned I might critique things and probably more excited at my ideas and help.

Now, let me preface everything else with admitting she does not really need much organizing help.  Her spaces are relatively uncluttered and organized.  Yet, this is part of my point – just because you have good systems in place doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth analyzing and tweaking.  This is the exact thing that is often missing and a struggle for people – it takes work to sit down and look through things are already mostly organized.  And this is how clutter can get out of control!

One of the spaces we did some physical hands on work with was on the garage.  I took some before pictures – what do you think about how it looks?

Is this really a before picture?

Before or after?

The challenge of organization is that it’s never really finished.  It’s about creating a system in order to simplify the process as life continues.  If we keep adding clothes to our closets and dressers without pulling anything out – we become overwhelmed with all the clothes we’ll need to go through to get organized again.  And of course, we need to pull out enough clothes to make up for what we’re adding.  This is one of the reasons the idea of “one in, one out” is so popular – it makes the process automatic and simple.

As I’ve said, I dislike absolute rules.  They don’t work for everyone.  I strongly resist the idea that I would have to get rid of a book or CD every time I brought a new one in, although I’d be OK with getting rid of something else entirely.  I think we need to follow guidelines that work for us and that respects what we value.

This means that we need to stay attentive to what is gathering around us.  First, we have to notice what our surroundings look like, including the insides of closets and drawers, as well as our basements, attics, and garages.  Second, we have to make time to deal with things once we’ve noticed them.  Third, are there ways to simplify the process of getting rid of things?  My husband and I have a donate bin that we throw things into as we come across them and once it’s full I list the items and get it out of the house.

During my visit, she and I spent a little less than 2 hours working in the garage.  By the end, we had created 3 small bags of trash and had about 2 small bags for donating.  Many things got moved around – grouping like items together.  Now, we did not literally go through every box and bin though we did look inside every one.  As I already stated, she was already pretty organized so the boxes and bins were what they looked like.

As you saw, it didn’t need an overhaul, but it did appreciate some refining of things.  And although I work with people in much more extreme situations, I also have clients closer to this situation – wanting some help in tweaking the relatively organized stuff already in the space.

Remember, organizing is not an end point – it is the continual process we need to incorporate into our lives.

Treasures from Others

I enjoy trying to share my excess stuff with others – friends first and then to one of the stores.  I approach friends and ask, “Is this something you’d like to have?”  With one particular friend, let’s call her Joanna; she almost always takes whatever I’ve offered.  After a handful of months, I noticed stacked in a corner the sugar and creamer containers Joanna had taken most recently. The last thing I want to do is add to someone else’s clutter.

Stuff from other people comes into our homes – one way or another – from gifts or sharing or inheritance.  We all have them – things from those we love that don’t quite fit our personality or style.  Sometimes these are the most difficult items to make decisions about.  It holds some value in one way or another for us.  Is it simply the memory?  Is it guilt?  Is it a sense of obligation? Or is it something else entirely?

When working with clients, I often ask them after hearing that it’s from someone else, “Do you think this person would want to add to your clutter?”

I know this is the last thing I would want – it turns out I gave a gift to someone who was bothered by part of the design of it, I told them emphatically to pass it along to someone else, PLEASE.

William Morris known partially for his involvement in the Arts and Crafts Movement said “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” If something is not useful or beautiful to you, wherever it came from, is there a reason to keep it?

The last time I visited, I saw it sitting in a corner.  On some level it made me sad since they shared how they don’t love it, yet because it was a gift from me, it stays.

Maybe I have too noble expectations of people – that they too would not want to contribute to anyone else’s clutter.  It’s hard for me to imagine that anyone would want someone to keep a gift that isn’t adding value to his or her life and space.

We each get to make decisions for our own life – is it worth it to have things around that don’t make you happy?  Keep the lovely memory of the gift, the care from the person giving the gift, and let the item itself move into someone else’s life who might treasure it dearly.

So Little Space

I remember with some embarrassment how excited I was about our house before we moved in.  Walking through the spaces, imagining how spacious most of it seemed.  The full bath was admittedly tiny, yet just across the hall was a big linen closet.  Many of the spaces seemed full of potential.  Using the spaces wasn’t quite as simple.  Whether you realize the space limitations before or after you move in, you still want to make the most of what you have available.

When you space is physically small, the first thing to consider is going vertical with your storage options.  Although many of our rooms are small, the taller pieces make the most of the available height – from our over 6 foot tall bookshelves to the tall and narrow “lingerie” dressers.  In the bathroom, we had a new medicine cabinet and matching cabinet installed over the toilet – creating some good depth and enclosed storage options.  Using the vertical space can mean furniture although it can also be simply installing some things onto the wall higher up.  Is there room for a stand-alone pantry?  Remember if you go vertical, keep in mind how easy or hard it is to access those things on top, and opt to store lesser-used items in the hard to reach places.

Small bathroom- medicine cabinet and cabinet over the toilet

Small bathroom- medicine cabinet and cabinet over the toilet (no room for an over-the-toilet rack and pedestal sink so no storage room underneath)

When dealing with a physically small space, one of the main tasks is to figure out what is critical to have in the space.  What can live elsewhere?  In our tiny bathroom, it felt luxurious when we got the cabinet over the toilet installed; we suddenly had this additional storage space.  Only the frequently used items live in the bathroom, and the rest are divided between the linen closet and the half-bath upstairs.  The bedroom linens don’t live in the linen closet at all – it made more sense to store those upstairs closer to the bedroom in a chest we have.  What absolutely needs to be kept in the limited space available to you?  Where can you store the back-up items or lesser-used items?

That linen closet I was so excited about is too deep and the fixed shelves too far apart for our ideal use.  To deal with this, I started with those items that could be stacked in front of each other – the towels have two stacks, so once we get through the front stack, it’s easy to access the second stack.  This is surprisingly not uncommon – I have seen this too frequently, it makes me wonder what people think when designing closets.

There are several options for making the most of closets and pantries – consider a Lazy Susan, maybe even a double tiered one – these can be especially useful in closets or pantries that go around corners, which can be challenging to use effectively.  Any tools that are double-tiered can be useful, as long as you don’t need to get behind it for things.  Depending on the items and placement, an under-the-shelf basket can help utilize the space well.  Often what helps is to put the front items into baskets, bins, or containers of some kind.  If you use this, you can pull out the container in one movement and easily get at the things behind them.

I’m a big fan of thinking non-traditionally.  Where can you store things that aren’t a “normal” place?  I’ve shared before how I purged some shoes to make room for the partial bookshelf in the bottom of my tiny closet – this isn’t where you’d typically think of putting books.  I’m currently using part of a bookcase to store office supplies – they are behind closed doors so it’s not obvious and they’re in a different room from the printer and mail supplies.  You’ve probably heard or seen people storing various items in their hutch – from photo albums or kids art supplies, not your traditional table linens, china, or silver.  We sometimes think of under-the-bed storage as an option – and with the canvas bags this becomes more of an option when your bed isn’t high enough for the traditional bins.  You can apply this same idea to under your dressers and other furniture – and keep it relatively hidden.

One of the popular ways to store things is to use the basement or attached garage.  I’ve seen people install virtually floor to ceiling shoe racks – using both non-traditional storage options and thinking vertically.  The basement and attached garage can also be useful for those back-up items – you move things from there into your home when needed and stock back up to the garage or basement.

There are such a plethora of options for how to make the most of your limited space.  Of course, you need to make sure you have exactly what you need and use – there’s frequently an opportunity to purge, even if it’s just a handful of things.  We almost have too many options for storing things – it can be tricky just sorting through them.  Also, you want to think about how you use things, make things work for you – despite much acclaim for storing cleaning supplies where you use them, this is often problematic when you have limited space.  Can you embrace the challenge to make the most of the space you have?

If not, call me!  I now offer virtual organizing. 😉

Anthropomorphizing Your Belongings

After watching a video with my mom recently, we started talking about anthropomorphizing.  My observation of the video was that the animals were being credited with some human characteristics.  She agreed and commented sometimes we go out of our way to avoid recognizing “human” characteristics in animals and shared an experience she’d had.  She observed some elk sliding down a hill, front legs splayed in front of them while their haunches was on the ground.  Now, even that is cute, but after they got to the bottom of the hill, they jumped up and ran back to the top and did it again.  They were sledding, it was play – this served no other purpose.

Yeah, so what does this have to do with organizing?

Anthropomorphizing isn’t limited to animals.  We can view our belongings with a certain amount of personality.  We might be reluctant to throw things away or even give them away.  This always makes me think of The Velveteen Rabbit, where a toy can become real once it’s owner really and truly loves it.

What we tell ourselves about our stuff affects how we deal with it.  Some people throw things out easily once they’ve lost their usefulness while others have a hard time parting with them at all.  And this is just talking about when the things might need to leave – what about how we treat our belongings while they are in our possession?

There’s another argument that a certain amount of anthropomorphizing could be helpful.  If you loved your keys and cell phone, you be less likely to misplace them.  You’d be conscious of them and where you laid them down – mindful of how you treated them, maximizing their chance to be useful.

If you valued your things as if they personality, or maybe more that they had a job to do – to help you – you might want to help them accomplish this.

  • Your papers – accessible and logical so you can find what you need when you need it.
  • Your clothes – arranged and easy to access whenever you want
  • Your dishes – clean and ready to be used whenever you need
  • Your photos and memorabilia – available when you want to share it with someone or even to take a trip down memory lane for yourself
  • Your jewelry – if you know where all of it is, you can wear it when you want
  • Your décor – pleasing and rewarding for you so that you would smile as you walk through your home
  • Your random lost items – peace at being able to find exactly what you need when you need it
  • Your “whatever” – to make your life simpler and more enjoyable

Show your things your compassion and care so they can help you – the give and take that relationships require.  And even if we think of it differently, we do have relationships with things, so let’s nurture that.

Once your things have stopped helping you, it’s time to let them move on.  If appropriate, moving them onto someone else who can appreciate what they have to offer.  What better blessing that gifting that usefulness to someone else?  If they’ve outlived their ability to serve, then simply letting them go.

If our things had feelings, I imagine they’d be sad to become clutter since they served us so well, that’s not what they would want.  If you want a more magical approach, in The Velveteen Rabbit, although it looks like a dire end to a well-loved toy who sheds a real tear as he’s about to be burned (the boy had Scarlet Fever), the Nursery Magic Fairy comes, kisses him, and makes him a real rabbit – who the boy sees romping in the wild and thinks of his old toy.  Even with things, it is still a relationship – what would you do to treat that relationship with care and respect?

Keeping Your Car Organized

From the time I started driving for quite a while longer my car collected various things.  Eventually I would spend some time just getting it emptied out once it got bad enough.  Then there came a time that the car would still get a little cluttered, yet it never required hours of work to get it cleaned up.  It’s easy for our cars to collect things – we’re in and out of them regularly.

As with so much with getting and staying organized, how we handle our cars depends on how you want to do it.  If you are one of the people whose cars collects things and then you eventually set aside some time to deal with – and don’t want to change that – no problem.  You choose how you want to handle your space and things.

Then, there some steps you can take to handle it differently.  You don’t even need to begin the following steps with a clean car; you can begin these from however your car is right now.  We are in and out of our cars often, and there’s things we can do with our efforts to keep our cars organized.

Most of us completely empty the cars of our groceries after shopping.  If we use this philosophy with everything else, we can maintain our car.  Each time you get out of your car, you take a load to where it needs to go.  You can take just one load even, and if you do that regularly, your car will rarely collect much clutter.  If you have trash – you grab as much as you can and drop it in the nearest receptacle each time you get out of your car.  If you are heading into a store, there are usually trashcans by the front door – use those.

Sometimes getting gas can feel like a chore.  This is another great time to spend a little time emptying stuff from the car.  There’s usually a trashcan right by the gas pump, and you’d be amazed by how much you can get done just while your car is getting filled up.  If you tend to procrastinate getting gas, try to curb that and work at getting gas on your way home since you’re likely to feel less rushed.  It might also lessen any resistance you feel toward using that time to clear out the trash.  You can also gather the other things that need to go into the house while the gas tank is getting filled – make it easier to grab the things when you head inside.

I’ve used different techniques over the years for trying to keep the car organized.  For a while I kept plastic bags in the car for collecting trash and recycling and when those got full would take them out.  I discovered that I would procrastinate emptying them though until they were overflowing.  I now keep a reusable bag in case I need it, though I’ve not used it yet.

The habit of each time I left the car I would take at least one load to its place has been the easiest for me.  My procrastination habits interfere the least with this.  It also never feels like a chore…  well, almost never.  🙂  In my case, it’s also now minor stuff and not something I have to do each time – just when I have something for the trash or recycling.

For the various things that I want to keep in the car, and it’s gotten less over the years – I tend to look for ways to contain them.  Before containers, the stuff would slide all around and look messier than it was.  When you’re driving kids around, it can be even more of a challenge.  I encourage you to enlist the children to help, they can return things to where they belong and even help carry things into the house.

As with probably everything about organizing – it requires some discipline and developing habits.  How do you want things to be?  It doesn’t have to require lots of time or energy, though it might in the beginning.  Once you’ve established your routines, it can become easy.  Decide for yourself how you want your car to look and take steps to get it there and then keep it there.

Under the Bed Storage

I’ll admit I use the space under our bed for storage.  It’s not something I generally recommend, though as with so much about organizing – it all varies depending on the person and their situation.  There are certainly pros and cons to not only whether you store things under your bed but also what sorts of things to store there.

First let me talk briefly about simply choosing to use that space to store things.  There’s a great benefit to the space as it’s out of the way – you’ve got an area that will not clutter up your space by keeping things there.  One of the reasons I use it is that I know the things are relatively protected there – there’s not going to be moisture problems, unlike the possibilities of an attic or basement.  It’s fairly accessible if I need to get something from it.  Interestingly one of the reasons I first started storing things there was that it kept my scared-y cat from hiding and crying out of my reach.

Next, if you choose the use the space under the bed for storage you want to make sure how much space you have – the height from the floor to the bottom of your bed.  There are many beds that aren’t high enough to allow for the standard plastic under the bed storage containers.  There are under the bed bags you can get which provide greater flexibility as long as you don’t stuff them too full.  There are also super long plastic containers for under your bed, although if you don’t have enough room around the edge of your bed these become counter-productive.

If you are going to use the space under your bed for storage you need to be cautious about what you decide to store there.  Think about:

  • how often will you need or want to access those things?
  • how much space will these things take up, will it all fit under one bed?
  • how will you feel about having to pull them out from under the bed and then put them back under again?  Consider your energy, flexibility, and reasons for wanting to store them there.
  • are they things really worth saving if you’re relegating them to under the bed?  i.e. magazines – why would keep them if you’re just going to stuff them under your bed, that makes them hard to access and unlikely that you would!

There’s a number of things I can think of that are fairly easily stored under the bed.

  • If you want to keep some clothes that are not your current size, this can be a great place to keep them out of your way yet have them readily accessible for when you fit in them again.
  • If you cycle your clothes with the seasons, this can be an easy place to switch clothes from twice a year.  It’s close to where they’d move to so you’re not dealing with carrying loads of clothes to another floor of your home and back again. It would simplify switching clothes for the seasons.
  • If you have memorabilia that you want to save, yet do not have another good alternative for where to put it.  It’s likely to things you’re not going to look at frequently, yet still want to be protected and saved.

Under the bed storage can be quite useful since it’s out of the way while remaining fairly protected.  Yet there are always aspects to consider when deciding whether to use the storage space under your bed.  There’s even more than what I’ve shared, remember to consider your own circumstances and evaluate whether this is something beneficial for you.

5 Products from the NAPO Conference 2012

The world abounds with organizing products. There are many products to choose from and the NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) expo is a great place to discover and play with these tools. As usual, products need to meet your specific needs – not all tools will be useful for everyone. Consider your own needs and style when evaluating these or any organizing products.

I’ve chosen 5 products to briefly share with you; look in future months to see more in depth reviews.

1. WallMates: self-adhesive dry erase planning surfaces from At-A-Glance. These come in various sizes and formats. The entire back is adhesive and they claim they stick to everything. I saw them sticking them to a carpet-covered pedestal repeatedly without problems.

At-A-Glance's WallMate

At-A-Glance's WallMate's self-adhesive dry erase planning surface

2. M by Staples Arc system: customizable notebook system.
These are notebooks of 2 sizes with various accessories that you can easily rearrange and design for your personality and style. There’s a special punch you can purchase to let you use any paper inside the notebook – mushroom shaped for the “tear-out” pages which you can easily put back in anywhere.

M by Staples Arc system

M by Staples Arc system, customizable notebook

3. File Case and Case Wrap from Smead.
A box for keeping file folders that comes with a case wrap for storage. These can replace hanging folders and fit in most file drawers. They are also decorative enough you could store them on a shelf and with the case wrap it won’t even look like a filing system.

Smead's File Case and Case Wrap

File Case and Case Wrap from Smead

4. Mini-cube systems with fabric drawers from ClosetMaid.
You might be familiar with ClosetMaid cubeicals already – have you seen the mini-cube systems? There are currently 2 styles. There are fabric drawers to fit this mini-cube system with a wide variety of colors to choose from.

Mini-fabric drawer for a mini-cube system from ClosetMaid

Mini-fabric drawer for a mini-cube system from ClosetMaid

5. Various adhesive tools from 3M.
– We’re all familiar with Post-It’s and now there’s one with almost a full adhesive back. There are the familiar flags for marking pages.
– The filing tabs are interesting which can be written on and repositionable.
– There are some storage container label pads, even applying to canvas materials securely (as the advertising says).
– You’re probably familiar with the Command hooks as well. It seems quite late, but I saw demonstrated how the adhesive works – they used a Plexiglas sheet in order to see both side of the application and removal. If removed properly it shouldn’t leave any marks on the wall, no matter the material (they mentioned- with the possible exception of stucco walls). They’ve also got Command strips for poster strips and picture hanging. Those picture-hanging strips are fascinating from the non-Velcro connection that is quite strong.

Various adhseive products from 3M

Variety of adhseive products from 3M

These were by no means all the products that I played with during conference, simply ones I found worth sharing. I’m excited to get a chance to get some hands on experience using these products and then sharing what I find with you over the coming months.

Organizing Art & Craft Supplies

Whether you have one hobby or many, organizing the supplies that go along with it can be challenging.  There are very specific tools as well as the more universal tools that function for different aspects.  You might have a whole room dedicated to this or you might have only a small space.  Nevertheless, there are usually many tools that go along with this, things that need to be organized and accessible.

There’s been one room in my house that has repeatedly caused challenges for me – it’s the room I call the craft room.  It’s not just a craft room for me; it’s where I exercise, where the movies live, I used to watch TV, and now where most of my business stuff lives.  It has a walk-in closet where I housed a lot of the craft supplies, as well as many other items.  This closet keeps getting cluttered and I have re-vamped it several times over the years we’ve lived here.

There are many different ways to organize such various, yet related supplies.  What will work for you will likely vary depending on your space, your supplies, and how you use your things.  Quite randomly one day when I was waiting for someone, I did some brainstorming about my closet.  This can be useful for us – just thinking about what we need to deal with.  What are the categories we think of for this space/stuff?  What kind of things do we have – generally, specific types, general types?  What ideas do we have for organizing them?  (You can see my notes typed up here and how I moved through some processing of ideas.)

For the closet, I got a closet system with a section of drawers.  I already had some products I liked for organizing – mainly the 6-drawer unit that holds scrapbook paper.  The complete overhaul of the closet was a daunting process – there was so much to go through and too many things I found that I’d wasted money on that I accepted needed to just be donated.

Although every situation is different, what I discovered for myself was that I would use “rules” for most of the supplies, yet there would be exceptions.  Let me use the scrapbook paper as an example.

I knew I had 6 drawers that I liked for storing the paper, and I started organizing it.  Some of drawers had been storing stickers and stamps.  It took me about 4 hours to sort my scrapbook papers.  I initially started with solids and patterns as a division.  This gave me a better idea what I was dealing with.  Then I sorted the solids: pink, red, orange, and yellow into one drawer; green, blue, and purple into another; then brown, black, gray, and white into another.  This left the patterned paper.  I wanted to keep the Halloween papers separate since I make Halloween cards every year and the easier it is to get at those, the better.  The other patterned paper could be broken into two groups – those I had collected for quite specific themes and then “random” other patterns.  The specific paper for specific projects was not a huge amount, the drawer had plenty of room left in it, yet I decided this was an opportunity to group some other related supplies with the paper.  When I am ready to do one of those projects, having the embellishments right there will simplify the project.  If someone were to come in and look at this drawer, they might think it was a hodge-podge of things since it’s got some honeymoon supplies as well as graduation and some kid stuff.  Yet for me this works best – it’s the exception to the “rules” I established for the “paper drawers”.

6-drawer scrapbook paper unit

My scrapbook paper "drawers"

I used this idea throughout – so most stickers are in a general sticker container, yet I also made some containers for wedding and Christmas/winter.  Those themed containers have all sorts of supplies that are specific to them, while keeping the quite general containers for types of things (embellishments, stamps, templates, etc.).  This makes sense for me and the things I have to work with – what will work for you might be completely different.

There are any numbers of ways to organize such a plethora of supplies and you need to think about how you use your supplies.  What do you want to be able to find when? It needs to make sense for you, both when and where you will look to use specific things and how many you have of certain things.

My Notes on Organizing Craft Supplies

One day I was waiting to meet someone, I took out a little notebook and made notes – just based on my memory and thoughts about what things I would be dealing with.

Initially I spent time thinking about what I needed to be kept in the closet and room –  I knew I wanted to make room for my business stuff, then there was the paperwork for the volunteering I do, and of course all the craft items.  For me this included the completed photo albums, scrapbooks, old journals, as well as all the supplies for projects to come. From here, I decided to break it down – remember this is still just notes I am jotting down, brain storming.





Memorabilia – yearbooks, photo albums, scrapbooks, containers, pen pal notebooks

“Kid” – piano music, “diaries”


To read

To type

To fix/repair

To finish


After this one of the first things was I thought about was the supplies I had to deal with and get organized.  I began with just a list, things like the following:

Supplies – re-done with groups


Candle making

Cross-stitch & knitting


Color- chalk, pens, pencils, paint







General – cutting, glues, wire



Empty containers


Memorabilia (to do something with)

Tear outs to use somewhere

Journals – blank

Albums – blank

Scrapbook- blank

It became first, general supplies – things like paper, “color” (pens, pencils, paint, chalk), punches, beads, stickers, templates – that I could use across multiple mediums.  Then specific supplies, I have specific tools for making books (a remnant from my library science days), candle making, and “needle stuff” (which was my grouping for cross-stitching, a learn to knit kit, and some small other needle kits).  The specific tools ideally would live together as I wouldn’t want my candle making supplies to be mixed up with book binding supplies.

Supplies – Grouped











General flowers





“Needle” stuff






Blank books

Empty containers


This were my final notes, considering if this would be another approach which I did use partially.

Supplies by                ??

TYPE or                     CATEGORY

Paper                                      Wedding

Die-cuts                                  Kid

Stickers                                   Season

Embellishments                    Holiday


– or both for large quantities

–>then sub-divide & keep type close together

Using Your Time Wisely

How does having lots of to-dos make you feel?  The answer might vary depending on many different circumstances.  There is a wonderful feeling of accomplishment when we have lots of things pressing on our time and still manage to get it all done.  It can certainly make you feel alive, your heart is racing, and you can look around and see all that you accomplished.  There is a time and a place for using this energy.

Unfortunately, if this is how you primarily function, your super productive moments might be far and few between.  If you do not have that external pressure to get it all done, it is easy to struggle when you have lots of to-dos on your list.  And truthfully how many of us actually have a little to-do list?  There is always more to do, even if it’s not critical or important to accomplish in a certain time frame.

Too often when we race around getting things done, we might end up looking around and see how much is left to be done.  We might have even created more of a mess in the process.  Sometimes we even wear ourselves out doing this.

For me, often what I need to do, after I slow down enough to recognize that I am spinning my wheels, is to choose one area, a small area, and focus on dealing with that space.  Maybe you noticed, or maybe not, that I prefaced my previous statement with a “for me” – this is one of many ways to focus our energy.  You might need to approach it differently – and begin with one focus rather than an area.

Area focus: I will focus on each thing that needs to be done in that specific area and I will remain there until I am finished or until I want to stop working for the time being.

Focus area: I will go through various spaces dealing with a specific focus, this can be everything that belongs in a specific room or other people might focus on picking up all the papers that need to be recycled.

Neither is any better than the other, it varies on your situation and what works best for you.  Again, for me, when I focus on an area, I can then look at the area and clearly see what I accomplished – however minor it might have been.  Then again, if you have many things around that belong in another room, you can see what you’ve gathered.

Another key to focusing your attention and working on something is that you are mindful.  It’s important to be mindful of what you are doing and how you are using your time and energy.  When we race around sometimes, we’re not really paying attention to what we are doing.  Too often I see people so desperate to get all these things done, they wear themselves out.

I’ve talked before about there being times when you just need to stop for a while.  It might be that you need to decide where you want to focus yourself or it might be that you’re overwhelmed or stumped about the things you’re dealing with.  Whatever it might be, taking time off, time to think and process is a good thing.  It can be hard to feel like it’s a good thing, but I cannot think of a time when it’s served the person well to barrel through.  It’s too easy to make rash decisions that inadvertently cause more work and stress.

Our time is spent most effectively when we make decisions about what we want to focus on and avoid distractions from other tasks.  This is another area where a timer can help keep us where we want to be – deciding to work on x for y amount of time.  There’s no need to try to do it all tomorrow.  Everything takes time and energy and divvying it up into manageable focused chunks will help you make the progress you want and save yourself the time and energy in the long run.