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Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Organization Tuesday: Keepin’ it Pretty


Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky
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Being organized and being pretty don’t have to go hand-in-hand, but it really helps. I recently treated myself to a fun class, and one of the first things our teacher told us was to get a pretty notebook. Cynic that I am, I kind of snorted at that, but two days later I found myself at Papersource plopping down twenty-five bucks for a KOLO linen three-ring binder.* Let me tell you why it was worth it. I put all of my assignments in it and left it out on the coffee table. I wasn’t constantly trying to stash some ugly vinyl binder somewhere out of eyesight and losing track of where that spot was! It looks so nice I want to grab it and read what’s inside.

Unlike Flavia, who showed us her Style Files last week, my notes for blogging are usually scribbled on scraps, post its, paper-clipped to lampshades, stashed in a folder I forget is in my filing cabinet, etc. I decided to bite the bullet and splurge on a blogging files binder. Or maybe I just wanted an excuse to go back to Papersource; I’m not sure. However, now when I mercilessly rip sheets out of magazines because they inspire an idea, they don’t wind up crammed between books when I need to pick up. I stash them in plastic sleeves.

Finally, (OK, I swear, after this, no more Papersource for me for AT LEAST a month – that place is my own personal crack den), I took a good hard look at my most hated binder. I’ve had the actual binder since grad school. I think it still says “QUEST” on the side, which was this stupid kumbayah snoozer of a class we budding landscape architects had to take with all of the architects, urban planners, and preservationists our first semester. The lectures were OK sometimes, but the early morning discussion sections – I’m still pissed that they robbed me of hours of my life. The point is, the cheapo hideous binder already has bad juju all over it. In its repurposed life, it says “2008 Expenses” on the cover in Sharpie, and it has two and a half year’s worth of tax receipts in there. I dread having to use it. I actually keep it hidden so I don’t have to think about doing my taxes. Now it’s time to say goodbye to it and hello to the new KOLO home for my tax crap. Of course it’s black! I think I’ll put a skull and crossbones in the square on the front.

So, too review, here’s why you should organize with pretty stuff:

1) You won’t lose it because won’t be throwing it under the sofa and out of sight all the time.

2) You will actually want to look at it and interact with it, because it’s right there in your face and you’ll be admiring it.

3) It will make you actually keep your stuff all in one designated place.

4) It gives you an excuse to go to Papersource and spend obscene amounts of money. OK, maybe this one should not be in the pro column.

Sayanora Quest Class/I.R.S. Folder!

*The Unclutterer recommended these in this New York Times article a month or so ago, and I had been unable to get them out of my head. They make really beautiful photo albums as well.


Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Organize Your Blog Notes with Style Files


Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky
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After feeling motivated by our Organization Blogfest last week, I’ve decided to try and implement a series on organizing each Tuesday for as long as I can keep coming up with them, or as long as I can keep finding others who are much more organized than I am. In taking Holly Becker’s Blogging Your Way e-course, I met Flavia Heupel, who shared the great blogging organization system she’s put in place for her blog, Estilo Home. I asked her if she’d like to share it with our readers, and Yea! She said yes. So without further ado, take it away Flavia!


If you are anything like me, you are constantly searching for inspiration for new blog posts, whether it’s from a newspaper or magazine, an online store, or a beautiful pillow you saw while window-shopping – the list can go on and on. Since starting my blog last year, I have been jotting down notes and ideas for blog posts on scattered pieces of paper, which usually end up anywhere from my day-planner, my desk at work, the coffee table in my living room, or the bottom of my purse. And my massive collection of dog-eared and ripped-out magazine pages is no different. As one could guess, this method of brainstorming is not the most effective when you are staring at the computer screen thinking about what your next blog post will be!

In need of a solution, I implemented and personalized a system originally suggested by Holly Becker of the Blogging Your Way e-course: the style files. In doing so, I re-purposed a file storage box that I already owned into a simple, yet effective system to store and organize all of my ideas in one place.

The key is to figure out the right categories for your inspirational images and notes. As I write about interior design, my file is loosely organized with folders for designers and stylists; products and stores; inspiring rooms; as well as a folder for mood board inspirations, which could be anything from artwork to a nice outfit. I can then file all my scribbled notes and ripped or printed out source pages into the relative category. I have left some room for the magazines that I can’t bear to damage, with the pages of interest flagged so I can easily locate the items that sparked an idea or thought.

This method has been extremely effective for me to organize my thoughts, overcome writer’s block, and has saved me a great deal of time as I no longer have to search and dig for my notes. Once I write about an item, I either throw the notes out, or file them in one of my decorating files that are organized by room and style. To implement this system, you could easily use an accordion file, or a simple box with dividers or file folders. I highly recommend it!

Flavia Heupel is a PR Manager and author of Estilo Home, a blog which follows a design-obsessed woman pursuing her love for Interior Design while balancing a full-time job, a happy marriage, and a condo to decorate.


Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Organizing Links


Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky
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Ah, Organization Week has come to an end! Thanks so much to everyone who participated in Organization Week. I’m feeling motivated and hopeful, and you have all provided me with some clear and easy ways to get a jump-start on getting organized.

Here’s a roundup of our guest bloggers’ websites and blogs:

Penelope Loves Lists

Unclutterer / Unclutter Your Life in One Week (mine is on its way from Amazon)

The Kitchen Designer / Susan Serra Associates Inc.

Turquoise L.A. Blog / Vanessa de Vargas’s Design Site for Turquoise L.A.

The Office Stylist / Sorting with Style

The City Sage

Here are a few more sites I check on for Organizational Inspiration. Please add your favorites in the comments section so I can add them and have a more comprehensive list. I need all the organizing help I can get.

Chez Larsson’s Organization Page


February’s Lonnymag is chock full of  FABULOUS jewelry storage ideas.

The Ten Habits of Highly Organized People over at Oprah’s putting her closet cleanout stuff up on eBay. I spied a pair of Prada Venice Print pumps, size 40 on the cover of the magazine…

Flickr Group Pretty Organized

I’m going to be following Paola as she tackles her home office for the next three weeks.

A great round-up of Storage and Cabinets in this Canadian House & Home (LOVE that magazine) Photo Gallery


Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Clear the Clutter from Your Bookshelves by Erin Doland


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by Erin Doland of Unclutterer

I have an affinity for books that borders on an addiction. I usually read three books a week or more, and those books come in many forms — audio, digital, checked out from the library, and purchased. Even with relying heavily on audio, digital, and library books, I continually fight book clutter in my home.

If you’re a bibliophile like me, you may have more printed books than you can (or should) store in your home. Try these five tips from Unclutter Your Life in One Week to decide which books to keep and which ones to let go:

  1. Give away any books that you don’t plan on reading or referencing again, are in the public domain, and can be found in their entirety online.
  2. Keep the leather-bound copy of The Scarlet Letter that your grandmother gave you on her deathbed.
  3. Give away or recycle out-of-date reference books. They’re full of inaccurate data.
  4. Keep books that you love and books that provide you with significant utility.
  5. Give away books that you’ve been storing for the sole purpose of impressing your houseguests. If you’ve never read the complete works of Shakespeare, and you never plan to read the complete works of Shakespeare, get rid of the complete works of Shakespeare.

These tips also work well for books you may be storing in your office at work. Unless you are an executive with office walls lined with bookshelves, you might be sacrificing valuable storage space with books you never reference. Keep the books you regularly need, and take home, sell, or recycle the others.

Erin Rooney Doland is Editor-in-Chief of and author of the book Unclutter Your Life in One Week.


Monday, February 22nd, 2010

My To Do List Hates Me by Meredith Schwartz


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Take Welcome to Organization Blog Fest 2010! I thought the best way to start the week would be with Meredith Schwartz of Penelope Loves Lists, and her advice on how to handle a Daily To-Do List. Take it away Meredith!!!

We all make the Daily To Do List. Problem is, most of the time, we do it wrong. There, I said it.

This list, which should be our problem solver, becomes the problem itself. Like some huge, looming, cartoonish thing from our nightmares, the incomplete items from each day’s lists grow until we feel defeated under their collective weight.

Instead, you should have two To Do Lists, one called the “Daily To Do List”, one we’ll call the “Overall To Do List”. You can think of your own pithy names when you adopt this system.

The first step is to know, each day, what your most important tasks are. If you don’t know what your true priorities are, either at work or at home, your list will be a meaningless schedule of tasks. If you’re unsure as to how to prioritize, read this book. If you know what you truly need to do each day, you can then set about step two.

Each evening before finishing work, make tomorrow’s Daily To Do List. This should take less than 5 minutes to do.

This list should have 3-4 of your highest priority items on it, each one with SPECIFIC goals, like this:

  1. Check in with pending clients  – 10 clients
  2. Get product shipment ready for Monday
  3. 1pm Meeting with Jennifer
  4. …If I get that done, I’ll move to:

  5. Work through sales leads – 12 calls
  6. Emails – spend 1 hour getting email inbox cleaned out.

See how specific each item is?

Also, notice that, by separating it into items 1-3, and then 4 and 5, you give yourself room for the day to actually happen. Things take longer than we expect. Emergency items come up. You set yourself up for success by ensuring your top 3 items get done. Then, if you are able to move to items 4 and 5  (which are also very specific and serve to “chunk out” larger projects) you can feel you got ahead by the end of the day, rather than always feeling overwhelmed and behind.

While I use my favorite Bob’s Your Uncle grid paper notebook to keep my daily to do list in line, I’ve also had great success with the online tool Teux Deux. I like that it doesn’t try to be all things to all people. It’s super simple graphic interface just enables you to quickly and easily do what you’re there for: keep and update your daily task list.

Whether you use paper and pen to create your list, or an online tool, if you know what your priorities are and are specific with the items you put on your list, you’ll end each day with a feeling of effectiveness. And, maybe, you’ll have just enough extra energy to go get a margarita. Wouldn’t that be refreshing?

What strategies do you use when creating your Daily To Do List? What’s working for you and what isn’t? Please share them with us in the comments section.

Meredith Schwartz is the Founder and Editor of Penelope Loves Lists, an organization inspiration blog. She’s a girl with a To Do List and she knows how to use it. Meredith and her fellow readers make no apologies for their love of lists, notebooks, pretty office supplies and all manner of cool organizational tools. Are you a Penelope?