I’m in Walla Walla, Washington, with my brother and niece visiting our dad. I flew here through Phoenix Skyharbor Airport, where I purchased a little pick-me-up latte at Peet’s Coffee.
When the barista served me my latte, it put a giant smile on my face. She is an artist! I keep looking at the photo in my camera roll (and on my Instagram feed) and it keeps making me smile. So I thought I’d share it with you.
I haven’t taken a proper, responsibility-free vacation in a very long time. I re-read this post this morning, written in 2012 after a wonderful trip to Barbados, and was so glad to be reminded of the importance of getting away. I thought I’d share it in the hopes that it might inspire you to take a vacation!
As I mentioned in my last blog post, last week I went to Barbados with my college buddies, to celebrate our 50th birthdays.
It was glorious. Barbados is a lovely island, full of friendly people. Our accommodations were top notch. We kept busy, but not too busy. I did virtually no work, save checking email occasionally and responding a tiny bit.
It made me realize how long it had been since I’d taken a real vacation. And that I need to do it more often.
On the last day, I dangled my legs in our little private pool and jotted down ten things I learned on vacation to share with you here:
1. It’s okay to take off your watch and not know what time it is.
2. Unwinding completely is possible—and beneficial.
3. Under certain conditions, I actually am a beach person.
4. Vacations are worth the time and money.
5. You can create memories without documenting them. (It killed me to leave my camera at home when we were in the water, but I couldn’t risk injuring my precious iPhone.)
6. I don’t particularly care for snorkeling (but I was glad I tried it).
7. It’s okay to admit that snorkeling isn’t for me and stay on the boat while others snorkel.
8. There’s no room for the word “should” on vacation.
9. Being among your most long-standing friends who know and love you is a wonderful thing. (Well, I already knew that.)
10. Luxury doesn’t have to be outrageously expensive.
Here’s a photo of the five of us at a restaurant on our last night on the island. I feel so lucky to have such wonderful friends!
KC, Dede, me, Denise and Ann
This month, this blog turned 12. I published my first blog post, What is organized? on November 10, 2006. I’m really grateful that my website designer, Nora Brown, suggested I start a blog. Back then I had barely even ready any blogs.
In the 12 years since, I’ve published over 1300 posts, which at an average 450 words per post is a whole lot of words. I try to blog twice a week (Mondays and Thursdays), though that doesn’t happen every week. And occasionally, I repeat past blog posts, which is one of the perks of being a long-time blogger, in my view.
Writing a blog is a lot of work—particularly if you dedicate yourself to posting regularly. But for me it’s been well worth the effort. This blog has helped me and my business in so many ways. Here are a few:
Social media channels seem to come and go but I think blogs are here to stay. That suits me fine, because I have no plans to stop blogging. In 2012 I started a second blog, Organize Your Family History, which marries my passion for organizing with my passion for genealogy research. I try to post there twice a week as well (Tuesdays and Fridays).
If you have topics you’d like me to address on this blog, I hope you’ll shoot me an email!
I don’t celebrate Christmas, so December is a very easy month for me. I give few gifts so I don’t have to worry about shopping. And I don’t decorate at all.
But one I thing I enjoy doing is sending holiday cards. I send two sets: One for Peace of Mind Organizing clients and colleagues and one for personal friends. (The personal set always sports a picture of our very photogenic standard poodle, Bix, on the front.) Over the years I’ve been simplifying and making the process of sending out cards easier and easier.
How do I keep it simple? My secret weapon is Minted.com. I’ve been ordering from them for years and don’t even consider taking my business elsewhere.
Here’s why I love Minted:
This year, I picked out my design (I tried not to agonize over it), then edited last year’s address list. I removed a few people and added more. I ordered stamps from the postal service’s website.
When the cards arrive, they’ll already be addressed. All I’ll have to do is write a note on the back of each one, put it in its envelope, apply the return address label and stamp and put it in the mail. I’ve ordered 165 business holiday cards, so if I do 20 a day I’ll have it done in just over a week.
In 2018 I took up hand lettering as a hobby, so I’ll get some great practice when I write on the back of each of the cards.
I still need to do the same thing for my personal cards—picking out the picture of Bix is the hardest part. But I’ll turn my attention to that this weekend and I’ll do it all again for my friends. But that’s a smaller list.
If you don’t enjoy sending holiday cards, I encourage you to take that particular task off your list. As a card enthusiast, I always enjoy receiving cards but I don’t notice if someone doesn’t send me one. I’d be willing to bet that no one will hold it against you if you choose not to send cards!
But if you do enjoy sending holiday cards, you might look into ways that you can make it easier, like ordering online and having your addresses printed on the cards. Minted makes that easy. (By the way, that’s an affiliate link; if you use it I get a small commission that doesn’t affect your price.)
Let your holidays be as easy as possible!
In the past I’ve been able to maintain an Inbox Zero habit for my email and have blogged a lot about how great it is. I truly believe it’s one of the best things I do for my sanity.
This year, I’ve done a pretty poor job of emptying my inbox every day. I let messages accumulate that required action, with the fear that if I moved them from my inbox, I’d forget about them. But what happened instead is that by leaving these messages in my inbox until it’s bloated, I can’t even see these “important” emails among all the others.
When that happens, my inbox becomes source of stress so I avoid dealing with it. And then not only am I not focusing on the emails that require action, even the easy responses don’t get sent. It’s a bad cycle, obviously.
Yesterday, I finally emptied my inbox after probably months. I started the weekend with something like 285 messages in my inbox. I sorted by sender and got rid of the easy ones, like the daily emails I receive from a newspaper I subscribe to. I filed a bunch of documents that had been emailed to me, which is very quick to do one at a time but a little time consuming if you let them accumulate.
Then I was left with those emails that I had let languish in my inbox because I didn’t want to deal with them. And guess what? I dealt with them! It felt great. I felt empowered and liberated and accomplished.
This morning, I woke up to just a few emails that had come in overnight and it was very easy to delete (or reply to) them. I’ve feeling great about keeping up the habit because I know from vast experience how beneficial it is.
Here is why I love emptying my inbox at the end of the day. (I’m taking this from a blog post I wrote almost exactly a year ago.)
The best part is that when I have only one day’s email accumulation, it takes me less than five minutes to empty my inbox on a typical day.
I encourage you to give it a try. If you have a lot of emails in your inbox, here are some ideas for getting down to zero without too much angst.
Trust me, dealing with email is easier with a streamlined inbox. Inbox Zero is not only achievable, it can be easy to maintain when you commit to it. I’m so glad I’m back on track with it.
I wrote this blog post five years ago. But it still resonates with me. It speaks so clearly to my mantra, “Let it be easy.” Incidentally, my extra buttons remain in their little Mason jar and I’m pretty sure I haven’t accessed them since I wrote this post in 2013. I could just toss them, but they kind of make me happy.
While I was perusing Facebook this morning, I stumbled onto a link to a post on organizing extra buttons on the Organize and Decorate Everything blog.
You know what I’m talking about, right? Those extra buttons that come (usually in some sort of envelope) with new clothes.
In that blog post, Leanne, the writer, details her beautifully organized and very labor-intensive method of dealing with these buttons: she either uses the original packaging or puts the button in a tiny clear-plastic envelope. She writes a description of the garment on the envelope. She does the same with the extra thread that comes with the garment.
Then she files these tiny envelopes in small accordion file, organized by color. Once a year, she goes through the accordion file and weeds out the buttons that belong to garments she no longer has.
Wow. Just wow. To me, that is a whole lot of work that, in my life anyway, would pay very few dividends. I can’t remember the last time I needed one of the extra buttons that came with a garment.
Let’s contrast Leanne’s method with my own. I have a mason jar that I put buttons in. When I buy a garment that has extra buttons (which these days is pretty rare, since I buy so many of my clothes at resale shops), I take the buttons out of the envelope and put them in the jar. And I throw away any extra thread.
In the rare event that I need one of these buttons, I just pour the buttons out of the jar and and find it. I have the matching buttons on the garment, so I can identify it.
That’s it. It takes no time.
Here’s a photo of my button jar:
These contrasting methods do a marvelous job of illustrating an overriding principle I live by:
Organizing systems should be as complex as they need to be and not one bit more.
I found myself admiring how beautifully organized the buttons in that blog post were, and the beauty of accordion file of buttons sorted by color, and then I realized that for me, anyway, that would be a complete waste of time. And if I aspired to a system like that, I’d probably just have a big pile of buttons waiting to be processed. In the case of extra buttons, I think simple is best.