Define Your Time

Time is this fleeting thing.  We all have the same amount as everyone else and nothing we do can make it multiply.  There are a multitude of ways to approach handling your time – from those that encourage people to put all tasks into your calendar or to base your tasks on your current availability of context, time, energy, and priority.  I’m certainly one that prefers the latter approach since if I fill my calendar with tasks, I will simply avoid doing anything in that slot.

You could even say that I’ve taken that idea of choosing tasks based on context, time, energy, and priority and put my own personal spin on it.  I’ve even given it a fun name: “Whim time.”  This term might even sound like an oxymoron, how can those two words fit together?  Whim is defined as – “a capricious or eccentric and often sudden idea or turn of the mind: fancy.”

For me, “whim time” is when I listen to myself about what I feel like doing – this can be productive or it can be time for rejuvenating.  It’s about paying attention to my mood and using that to help determine what I will work on.  For instance, there is something about making phone calls – to search out speakers for the support group, or following up on insurance issues, or whatever else – that may mean playing phone tag, which I typically avoid.  Yet, there are times that I am happy to tackle that process – and it makes sense to take advantage of that when it strikes.  (This also doesn’t mean that I only wait for the mood to work on those tasks.)

There’s something light and easy-going about doing things according to my mood or more correctly called my state of mind.  I am not being a taskmaster upon myself yet I can get plenty of things accomplished.  When I can use my whim time as I’ve set it up – to make decisions about what I will do with my time and to do those things – I have a great feeling at the end of the day.  It feels productive in the best way – being mindful of where I am at – both mentally and physically.

Sometimes, my “whim time” turns into escapism.  This is not what I set out for my time.  It’s a behavior that the equivalent to burying my head in the sand and ignoring both what’s good for me and what needs to be worked on.  When this happens I feel horrible.  In this age with all the possible ways we can distract ourselves and escape; it’s easy to slip into this.  I wonder if it’s not even more of a temptation with our never-ending to-do lists.  Is there ever a time when you are free from more tasks that need your attention?

I’ve talked about being mindful of how you use your time (in the blog, Use Your Time Intentionally) and I’ve talked about finding ways to make your tasks fun (in the blog, Make It Fun).  In many ways, my “whim time” is my combination of these two principles (and somehow David Allen’s Getting Things Done).  I didn’t set out to create this, but this is what it evolved into over time.

Maybe “Whim Time” is something you can use for yourself.  Maybe it’s not.  You are welcome to it, if you want yet I would encourage you to find your own way to define your time that makes sense to you and for your life.  Experiment with different ways to handle your time, observe what works and what doesn’t (and this isn’t always obvious from one or two tries) and see what develops for yourself.  It really doesn’t matter what you come up with, as long as it works for you.

I’d love to hear what works for you and how you got there. 🙂

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.

Cultivate Curiosity

In this line of work, I run into too many people who are busy “should-ing” on themselves – “I should have done more”, “I ought to have time for that”, “I never get enough done” and on and on.  And my heart breaks a little.  I get it, it does hit close to home for me too, yet this doesn’t help anyone get more accomplished.  Most often this can even derail our efforts to improve.  We’re too preoccupied feeling badly, angry, frustrated, whatever and this doesn’t move us any closer to our goals.  To some extent we become stuck.

“How do I get unstuck then?”

If we can cultivate curiosity about ourselves we can solve many of our struggles.  One of the key pieces of this though is that we need to rid ourselves of the judgment that comes along with looking at what we do and why.  Has there ever been a time when criticizing yourself has helped you get past a struggle or to solve a problem?

Instead, try to step back and examine what is causing your difficulties.  Sometimes this benefits from a compare and contrast – so if it’s a particular chore – what is different about this chore compared to another chore you accomplish with minimal challenge?  The answers you come up with could be a long list, as you want to consider as many different factors as possible: time of day, effort, energy, time consuming, complicated/simple, boring/interesting, dreaded/exciting, rewarding, etc.

Even if you cannot compare it to something else, you can examine what that thing brings up for you.  What is it about that thing that has you resisting it? When you start to get the clues for where your struggles are, you can then start making changes to how you approach that thing.

In trying to make this applicable to many situations, this is vague.  Therefore, let me give you an example.  I was often procrastinating mowing the lawn.  One of the major factors was the dread of lugging out of and back into the basement.  Another factor was feeling like it was extremely time consuming.  The first factor has now been dealt with as we have a garage, but until that happened, there wasn’t much I could do about it.  The second factor – time – I could discover how much time it actually took up, so I timed it.  From lugging it up, mowing the front and back yard, and lugging it back down, it took me 45 minutes.  From that point onward I could easily dismiss mowing as an option if I didn’t have that much time and could plan when I would have enough time.  I also began to stop procrastinating it as much, yes, I did qualify that, I will sometimes still procrastinate doing it, though it gets less and less as time goes on.

There are other chores I dislike because they seem dull, and I can take my iPad and play a show on it while I work or vacuum during commercials.  Obviously I don’t need to watch it intently, it’s a way to make the chores a little more interesting.  The point is that I’ve approached my quirks (my resistances) with curiosity, identified what factors contribute to my resistance to accomplishing them, and then found ways to lessen the resistance.  Even when I falter and don’t get it done when or how I would like, I work at giving myself a break.

Is there another way to look at the chore (or whatever you are struggling with)?  Much of our lives deal with perspectives – the way we decide to look at things.  Yes, it is a choice and this means we can change the way we view things.  Therefore we can decide to look at that dreaded chore differently.  This rarely happens overnight, but if we discover the reasons that matter to us as an individual, we can begin to make the changes.

For me, making the bed was one of these.  I didn’t care much if it was made or not and I struggled with wanting it to be near perfect if it were made.  This meant I spent time and energy walking back and forth around the bed fixing it.  Then I timed myself lying in bed doing a sort ‘snow angel’, slipping out from under the covers, and doing some minor straightening – under 2 minutes.  Then I started appreciating the made bed when it was time to go to bed at night.  I stopped looking at making the bed as a chore; rather it became something to look forward to – a nicely made bed –at the end of the day.

What is it about this situation that causes you difficulties?  Thinking about the answers for yourself can help lead you to the answers you need to make the necessary changes.  Don’t get me wrong, you might not find THE answer on the first try.  Nevertheless it will lead you toward the solutions you need.

Get curious.

Delaying Gratification

If you were told that you would get 2 marshmallows if you could wait for 15 minutes while 1 marshmallow was sitting in front of you – could you wait? What if you were between 4-6 years old? This was a study, called Stanford Marshmallow experiment, done in the late 1960s (of all the articles and blogs I read, the information varied a lot between all of them). This study has fascinated me from the first time I heard about it (Crucial Conversations- book & my blog), and somehow references to this study keep coming into my life.

The initial results were that about 30% of the children were able to wait the 15 minutes to receive the 2nd marshmallow; they weren’t told to not eat the first marshmallow, they could just with the consequences of not getting a second marshmallow. Yet, of the children who managed to wait, many years later were the ones who scored higher on their SATs and had longer lasting relationships – they had a higher resiliency than their peers who couldn’t stop themselves from eating the marshmallow before the 15 minutes were up.

What made the children who could wait different from those you didn’t? Often the children that resisted eating the marshmallow, found ways to distract themselves from the temptation sitting there – they looked at the ceiling and sang a song, cover their eyes, kicked the table, etc. – essentially not focusing on the marshmallow.

You might be able to glean then why these “long delayers” scored higher on their SATs and in general seemed to be more successful – they had the skills to put off pleasurable activities to accomplish things. They would be able to resist going to a party in order to stay in and study. Many people are talking about how this is self-control – and yes, it is, the self- control to delay gratification.

Every day we face temptations. How we respond to these are what matters – and now I tend to think about marshmallows. I don’t know that I would have managed to wait long enough to eat two of them as a child, yet this doesn’t mean I can’t stretch those self-control “muscles” now.

The scientists are continuing to study the original group and other studies on this also are active. There is some data to suggest that we can learn how to become “long-delayers” – and focus our attention away from the temptation and avoid giving in. I think this requires enough practice to have success – we need the positive reinforcement, even internally, to have the motivation to keep stretching that self-control muscle.

The marshmallow study is motivation for me – the idea pops up periodically and I then pause to consider what self-control might be applied. Sometimes it’s walking away from a tempting purchase for a period of time. Sometimes it’s putting things away before I sit down and relax. Sometimes it’s waiting for time to pass and see if the desire is real – like the temptation to eat. Sometimes it’s exercising when I don’t really feel like doing it – not procrastinating when it would be “easy.” In essence, I try to apply this to most areas of my life.

Can the marshmallow study be motivation for you too? How would you apply it to your own life and choices?

Laundry Tools – Sorters, Baskets, and Bags, oh my

If you read my newsletter or talked to me in late December or January, you will have heard that I bounced down a flight of stairs here at home.  Interestingly, a month prior to this fall, my ankle was twisted on these same stairs as I came around the corner on the stairs – only that time I was carrying a laundry basket.  The laundry basket was one of those heavy plastic ones with the indentation for your hip, though I was not carrying it that way since our stairs are too narrow for that.  This occurrence inspired me to get a different laundry “basket.”

Laundry can often involve different steps – depending on whether how you collect your laundry is also how you transport your laundry.  This can often be the same thing, though is often different items.  For the longest time, most of what I used to collect the dirty laundry was the same tool I used to carry the dirty laundry to the machines and then to carry the folded laundry back to where I would put them away.

All homes are different and where the washing machine and dryer’s live in relation to where the dirty laundry accumulates.  In our home as well as in several homes I’ve visited, the bedroom is on the second floor and the machines are in the basement – this means carrying laundry up and down multiple flights of stairs.  We have a collection for laundry on the top floor as well as on the main floor.  This means that carrying laundry from various places can be an issue and ideally needs to be as easy as we can make it.

Promptly after we moved here, we got a 3-compartment laundry sorter to live in the bottom of our linen closet.  I started with a plastic and mesh bag one which quickly revealed its instability – the mesh bags would fall off the frame and were not easy to reattach without dragging the whole unit out of the closet.  We moved then to a metal frame with canvas bags.  These 3 compartment sorters were for linens, whites, and delicates/dry cleaner.  In front of the sorter, there has always lived one of the heavy plastic laundry baskets and during the week that’s where all the general colored clothes go.  Upstairs, I had another heavy plastic laundry basket for the colors and occasional whites.

3-Compartment Laundry Sorter

Hip-Hugging Laundry Basket


After I had the minor twist to my ankle, the new “basket” I got was one of these mesh hampers, where it was shaped like a laundry basket with a wide opening and not too deep.  It’s easy to toss the dirty clothes into and most importantly, it’s easy to carry up and down stairs.  It has handles which means I can carry it easily in one hand, and this also means I can keep an eye on the stairs as I navigate them.  Also, the shape is easy to load the folded clothes back into it before they make their way to the closet or dressers.  Also, they fold flat so simply and then reopen – it’s so easy it makes me smile to think of it.

I dealt with the canvas sorter for many years, periodically bumping my head while digging out the linens or whites and regularly tweaking my back to get it all out from the bottom.  Experiencing the ease of the mesh style, I was then inspired to replace the 3-compartment sorter with 3 upright mesh bags.  Our categories work well for us and only need those 3 categories.  Now, with the mesh bags, I can grab the category I am washing and dump it into the hip-hugging basket.  I am still attached to those baskets for carrying laundry to and from the basement – there’s a sense of it being cleaner to put on the basement floor than the mesh ones.

Mesh Laundry "Baskets" - both shapes

Durability can be issue when you choose your laundry tools, as that mesh/plastic sorter demonstrates.  Although I’ve not used them, some plastic laundry baskets, often the circular ones, are also more prone to getting damaged easily.  I bought the plastic and mesh sorter in an attempt to save money, yet it’s a good example of how “saving” money on a less expensive product didn’t save me money in the long run.

In our country and culture, we have a plethora of options to choose from and this in itself can be daunting just trying to find the choices.  I’ve been impressed with the durability of the mesh bags, which seems a little odd considering the material, and their cost is fairly minimal.  As with so much else, think about what your needs are around laundry and what would help make it that much easier.  This is what matters most – finding the simplest way for you.

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.

Collections, When to Stop

We all collect things.  It might be something relatively unusual or completely commonplace.  Women have the stereotype of collecting shoes and/or purses.  I’ve talked many times about my own collecting of media – books, music, and (somewhat) movies.  Men have been stereotyped as collecting tools and/or electronics.  Stereotypes can often some basis in truth, though we cannot mistake that as truth or being even remotely close to typical.

Collecting things is not bad in and of itself.  It seems to me that it’s an inevitable fact of living.  We need clothes and shoes to survive.  Often we need certain things to apply to different situations and occasions – not all shoes are appropriate in all settings – which means we all need more than one pair.  We find value in certain items – my books are knowledge and other worlds to me.  Also, we enjoy collecting things – there’s a desire to have more of this or that.

Therefore this is not about trying to tell you to avoid collecting things.  Nevertheless, we cannot collect things indefinitely.  There needs to be an end, a time and place where we stop.  We need to recognize how this applies to us, as individuals, and there is no simple answer.  Because of this, here’s a number of considerations for you as you contemplate your own collections, whatever they might be – and you can discover where that place is for yourself and your situation.

  1. Sometimes it’s as simple as the collection feels finished to you.  This means you need to be attuned to that feeling – paying attention to when you feel that you have enough.  It could mean that you have enough to cover those various occasions or unique characteristics.  Then you need to have the discipline to not collect more.  — i.e. shoes of different colors and style for your expected situations – although this does not mean you will no longer desire to collect more – yet you can choose to focus on the anticipation of getting more once one of the current items need replacing.
  2. A clear clue that it’s time to stop collecting is when you run out of space for your things. You need to decide whether there are other things that can go to make room for your collections or does some of your collection need to leave to make room for more.  — I’ve talked before about donating some shoes to make room for a partial bookshelf in my closet, and when I did this, I largely stopped bringing any more books in – I was aware of the limited space.
  3. Are you cycling your items in and out simply as a reason to collect more?  You need to examine your motivation here, if you enjoy the cycling things in and out, great.  On the other hand, if you are using that as an excuse to collect more, it might be time to stop and look at what else is going on for you.  Cycling things can be a great way to keep your things fresh and continue appreciating them.
  4. Have you stopped appreciating what you already have?  It’s remarkably easy to become blind to our things, we are so used to seeing them, and we begin to forget they are there.  If the number of items is getting in the way of your appreciating your collection, you might need to scale back your collection.
  5. Something I’m not sure how much we think about as consumers is that virtually everything requires some maintenance.  Are you able and willing to do the things to maintain your collection?  Many items are meant to be used – leather shoes need to be worn and if you want to maximize their life, they also need to be cleaned and waxed.  — I also think often of pearls with this – as they are meant to be worn, it helps keep their luster, yet many can be reluctant to simply wear them around the home – so we might not be maintaining our things as they need to be.

You might have noticed that some of what I’ve talked about might not be collections per se, someone could have one pearl necklace, but it is one more thing they have – is it being appreciated, protected, valued?  These questions can apply to more than just the things that can be grouped together – all the things in our homes are a collection of sorts.

Earlier I mentioned that there is a time and a place to stop our collecting – this is an individual process.  Jay Leno continues to collect cars, hiring people to help take care of all of them; I wonder how much he is able to actually appreciate this car collection.  It also doesn’t hinder his life apparently.  Most of us do not have this luxury, and I do not envy him – I appreciate my life of relative simplicity tremendously.  As I’ve said before in a previous post, do you have a collection or does your collection have you?

Hate Doing Laundry? – An Alternative Solution

“I hate doing laundry,” someone told me the other day (we’ll call her Jane and respect her anonymity) “it’s the worst household chore of all.”

So I responded, “What is it about the laundry that you hate?”

One of the things Jane won’t do is mixing colors in the loads – each color needs to be washed and dried independently of the other colors. Jane has 3 closets of clothes, moving through them as the week’s progress, knowing when they get to a certain emptiness, laundry will need to be dealt with.

It turns out that Jane separates all her clothes by color immediately. She has 7 laundry baskets to collect the different colors and she avoids needing to sort the clothes when laundry time approaches. As soon as it’s time to handle the laundry, she can immediately begin the laundry process, loading a basket directly into the washer.

Jane went and bought the largest capacity washer and dryer available – despite the salesman questioning her that she didn’t need something so large for just herself. She knew what she wanted – a way to reduce the amount of laundry she would need to do. Jane definitely does not want to do laundry weekly – the least often is best for her.

Once a month she sets aside time, usually Friday evening through Saturday night to get her laundry washed, dried, and put away. She’s then free for another month from having to do any laundry.

The reality is that she doesn’t hate her laundry anymore – she found a way to handle it in such a way that actually gives her pleasure. Jane went on to say that she actually loves her laundry now!

How this applies for you:

  • Identify what it is you dislike or even hate doing – whether it’s laundry or dusting or whatever
  • Brainstorm an idea for how to do it differently enough that it becomes less burdensome – so often we cannot eliminate tasks, yet we can still find an alternative approach
  • Make it relatively easy for yourself – Jane has the different laundry baskets, the large capacity appliances, and does the laundry consistently in order that she keeps it easy enough to work for her – and if it’s too hard, we won’t do it anyway

As with so much when it comes to organizing, finding a way that works for you is most important. It doesn’t matter if it makes sense to anyone else as long as it does make sense for you and your life. In this example, weekly (or for some daily) laundry duty is the solution for many families, but for some it’s the wrong approach. Discover the approach that works for you and your family – and consider all options.

Office Max Portable Folding Cart


3 out of 5 stars

Office Max Folding Cart



  • large capacity for transporting things
  • wheels roll smoothly
  • can be condensed (when empty) to be compact
  • retractable handle
  • relatively inexpensive



  • awkward to move when not rolling i.e. when you need to pick it up
  • large and can get heavy when filled
  • pieces for holding the shape don’t attach the best, along the top
  • wheels are noisy (no sneaking up on anyone with this in tow!)



Once a month I volunteer for the CCFA (Crohn’s Colitis Foundation of America) where I facilitate a support group.  I bring brochures and handouts/articles for the attendees to take as needed.  When I started, I loaded everything into a large bag.  I created a binder with tabbed pockets for the handouts.  My shoulder would ache after a meeting from lugging it around that day, and then the bag strap started to tear.  I knew I wanted something rolling to lug the papers around in – it would just make things easier.  I considered many options and decided on this portable folding cart from Office Max.

Let me be blunt, I liked the price – at $20.99 it was affordable, unlike the roller and catalog cases which most often were over $100.00.  The folding cart also inspired an idea about changing how I would organize the articles I brought to each meeting, which has turned out to be quite successful.  The size allows me to have 2 smaller desktop hanging file organizers inside the folding cart organizing the paperwork for the meetings (one of which is pictured here).

Desktop File Organizer - one style I bought to live inside the folding cart

The larger of the desktop hanging file organizers is pulled out completely for each meeting and then sits on the table (more fitting for it’s name than living inside the cart most of each month).  The size of the cart of the file organizer makes it relatively easy to pull out and put back in.  Since the size of the cart is large, I also have room for a smaller file organizer that holds the brochures and sign-in sheets, this is also easy to pull out and put away as necessary.

Here's my own folding cart

I was admittedly surprised by the noise of the wheels.  You definitely will not be able to sneak up on anyone, yet the wheels seem to work on every surface you’d likely encounter.  The handle retracts and extends as needed.  There is a slight flimsy feel to it, though I have encountered no problems in the 6 months I have been using it.

As soon as I had filled it, I knew there would some areas that it would bother me.  Our home has stairs at both entrances – which means I have to pick the whole cart up and carry it up or down those stairs. (Yes, I considered leaving it in the garage, but this isn’t feasible.)  Since the cart is large, it is bulky and not convenient for carrying around, even short distances.  This applies to lifting it into and out of the trunk of the car.  Once I accidentally caught one corner as I was putting it down and cracked the plastic.  Fortunately the cart still functions as it had before this accident.

Another aspect of needing to pick it up and carry it however briefly – is that it gets heavy when you have things inside it.  This is rather intuitive – of course it’s heavy when it’s loaded with stuff.  The other aspect is that there are these little pieces of plastic that you attach to 2 sides of the top to help keep the square shape.  They live close to the handles you use for picking the cart up.  They don’t attach the best – most every time I pick it up, I need to push these pieces back down (wondering when I will forget to do that and they will fall off, unnoticed).

Challenging to photograph - the little plastic piece(s) that attach to the frame on 2 sides

If you find yourself needing a portable folding cart, this is something to consider.  Although there are several aspects I struggle with, overall it is serving me well.  It continues to provide the benefits that matter most to me – portability and consistency.  It’s still working as well as it was over 6 months ago when it was brand new and considering the price – I am satisfied (not thrilled, yet how often can be thrilled by products?).

* There is a similar one offered by Office Depot as well.

** As usual, I have not received anything for this review.  🙂

Efficiency can be Fun

Late last year I began thinking about 2 books from my childhood a lot.  So much so I decided I needed to pick them up and reread them.  I remembered them as being full of fun high jinx, which might be q given considering it’s about a family with 12 children.  Yes, you read that right, 12 children (no multiple births and all but 1 lived to adulthood) – and we might cringe at our one or two kids. My memories were accurate, yet it was not these escapades of family life that specifically caught my attention this time through.  Really, if it were just a fun read would I ask you to read my writing about it?

It turns out that the parents, Lillian and Frank Sr. Gilbreth, are motion study experts.  Frank (although there is a Jr. I will be talking only about the Sr.) applies his theories and beliefs about efficiency to the whole family.  Lillian was a psychologist as well, so their focus was on not just saving time and energy, it was about cooperation. An example of this was how surgeries were studied and simplified – doctors asking for the implements they needed and having them handed to them.  I took this for granted; yet when the Gilbreth’s were working it was the early 1900’s.

They applied these same ideas to learning, creating different ways to learn – from Morse code being written on walls in the summer home which sometimes gave locations of surprises, to developing how to touch type, to listening to Spanish and French lessons while you were getting ready in the morning and at night – all to increase efficiency.

I’ve talked about efficiency before – I am continually looking at how I do things, asking myself if there is a “better” way.  I do this when I wash dishes, in fully utilizing how I fill the dish rack, keeping both the loading and the unloading in mind.  When I mow the lawn, I consider whether there are other approaches to it, there are 5 different areas with certain obstacles.  Although I think some people can get carried away with shaving off a few seconds or minutes here or there, I am fascinated with the idea of efficiency from the standpoint of simplifying things.

You might not be interested in thinking that much about your own efficiency.  I do not think you need to be.  Yet, for me the idea of efficiency is wrapped up in simplifying. With much of what I talk about, I encourage you to find ways to make organizing easier.  If something is too difficult, there’s a strong chance we won’t do it, even with the best of intentions. If the steps required to put this away are too many or too complicated or convoluted, that thing will not get put away.  If we can find a way to make it easier, we’re more likely to fulfill our intentions.  In many ways this is exactly what the Gilbreth’s focus was on – reducing the number of steps and complication of accomplishing this or that while not ignoring the human aspect of any of it.  They focused on reducing the amount of motions involved not on just speeding things up, although reducing motions did decrease the amount of time needed to complete an action.

Maybe today’s world is not that different from those of decades ago – maybe it is.  Regardless, as humans we all have limited time and energy to do all that we might want and need to do.  If you find ways to save time and also energy from doing it in the easiest way, you have that much more time and energy for what matters most to you.  When someone asked him, “But what do you want to save time for? What are you going to do with it?”  Frank responded with,

“For work, if you love that best. For education, for beauty, for art, for pleasure.  For mumblety-peg, if that’s where your heart lies.”


* The first book deals more with efficiency, Cheaper by the Dozen (not to be confused with the movies).  The second book deals more with running a home and being as economical as possible, Belles on Their Toes.  Both books are authored by 2 of the children – Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey.