Monthly Archives: April 2009

When Bad Gadgets Happen to Good People

I’m a fan of technology, but from an organizing perspective, I think the gadgets are starting to get a little out of hand.  The promise these items hold when we see them in the store or on a commercial is immense.  Any possible stress or struggle in your life can be solved because: “there’s an app. for that!”  Really?  Wow, sign me up.  What they don’t tell you is the amount of money you’ll be spending on this gadget, and all of the gadget’s little friends you have to buy separately before it looks like the one in the TV ad.  They also don’t tell you how much time you’ll need to spend figuring out how all of these things work, figuring out how to re-train your mind away from your old system to this new one.   No, they don’t tell you that.

And yet, we continue to buy them.  The latest and greatest.  The new and improved.  The thing you’ve been waiting your whole life for.  Enough, Madison Avenue, enough!  Every week I see houses filled with this stuff, unused or barely used.  These devices are supposed to make our lives more efficient, less stressful, and give us free time.  Instead, what I see are clients who are confused, over-worked, tired, and burned-out – with the extra clutter of gadgets, chargers, boxes, wires, syncing docks, etc., etc….

That said, I actually own one of those “smart” phone devices.  I like it, but it isn’t my entire life.  I still take lots of notes – on paper!  I like that it is essentially no different from the one I had 7 years ago.  It’s just smaller and lighter.  Bravo to the company who helped me maintain a system that is easy to work with for all of these years.  I pray that they will continue to make it.  I know I’m probably kidding myself.

I started thinking about this because of a client who has a “fancy phone” (no need to advertise) for a few months now and has just discovered how to turn the ringer on and off.  Some people might snicker at this, but I believe this is a fundamental and systemic problem with planned obsolescence, and if you own a phone or a computer more than a year old you might as well have stone tablets and an abacus.   Typewriters were just fine for people for about a hundred years.  Sure, they got better, but they were still essentially the same.  How can we keep up with technology that changes so dramatically every few months?  I’m all for learning new things, but some of us were not cut out to be IT specialists and we should stop pretending that we were.

So, my answer is – resist the urge!  Resist the urge, which is coming from an external force of advertisers with years of training in manipulation, to own the latest computer, the latest kitchen gadget, the latest phone that does more than any phone should, the latest gaming system, and the latest music system.  If you have a record player – good for you!  Use it, enjoy it.  Take pleasure in the process of putting a record on a turn-table and gently placing the needle down and waiting to hear it “catch”.  (And, here’s another thought – the reason we don’t play records is because it’s too hard to multi-task when you have to pick a needle up at the end of the record.  So why do we always have to multi-task?  Can’t we just do one thing at a time anymore??)  Enjoy doing things “by hand” once in a while.  Don’t let the anyone tell you there’s something wrong with you if you write to-do’s on a note pad.  Remember, your life can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.  Outside forces only have as much power as we give to them.  Stop clutter at the source, and don’t buy something to replace an item that still works well.  Choose tools that work for you, and ignore the rest – they’ll be obsolete next month, anyway.

Live abundantly clear,


Paint Colors and other Scary Tales

It was a dark and stormy night.  Edith was looking through paint color swatches to decide what color to paint her dining room.   The phone rings.  The man on the line says, “Don’t pick that color, it’ll feel like a cave in there!”  Then Edith realized: the call was coming from inside the house!!!  Shriek!

Okay, maybe it’s not that bad, but selecting paint colors can be a scary prospect for most people.  The most common side effect of this fear is a house with no color, or too much of the same color, or a “jewel-box” effect – where one room is painted at a time without regard to the overall flow of the house.  Or, you may have one room painted an intense color, which you now hate, but you’re too scared to change it or to paint any other rooms.  You don’t need to live this way – there is help out there!   Actually, there is help right here.

Perhaps you’ve decided “builder’s beige” is your style after all, or perhaps you are experiencing perfection paralysis.  You don’t want to make a mistake and end up with a migraine every time you step into that space.  So, what do you do?  You can call me!

Okay, how does this work?  To start, I’m a big fan of Benjamin Moore colors.  Most of them work very well with each other, and they have a livable palette suitable for any age or style of home.  I will come to your home armed with my satchel of paint samples.  We start with the fan-deck, and narrow down a few favorites (I like to start with an overall color for hallways and such, and a trim color, if needed).   Then I pull out the 3″x5″ samples of the colors we liked so we can tape them up and take a good look.  It’s amazing how often the first color we pick is the winner.  We’ll put up 5 more samples and realize that first one was the best!  Then after about 2 to 4 hours (depending on how many rooms we are working with), we have a final palette for the house.  I trim off a quarter of each paint sample for you to keep, label the backs, and write down the numbers on a 3-part form so I’ll have a copy, and presto! – you now have your house colors all settled!   I can even order larger samples and have them mailed to your home if you want a little more time to “live” with them and make sure they are right at all times of the day.

Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that.  We’ll look at your floors, counters, cabinets, furniture colors, the light in the home, etc.   We’ll focus on how the colors work together and flow throughout the house.  We’ll talk about color theory and how colors will compliment or contrast with each other.  The main thing I will do for you is make sure these colors suit you, your style and your home.  There are colors I like better than others, but my goal is to always guide you toward your ideal colors, in a way that will be stylish and tasteful.  Put your fears to rest and give me a call!  And remember: it’s only paint!

Live well & live in color,


Abundantly Clear – 303.322.5327

Are You a Member of the Messy Desk Club?

When I worked in the corporate world, you could tell a lot about a person by his or her desk.  The trouble was it was open to many interpretations.  I worked with someone (we’ll call him Paul) who had stacks and stacks of files on his desk.  His superiors thought he was a real “go-getter”, was always busy, and could seemingly multi-task like a champ.  Those of us who were his peers had a different perspective.  When you called Paul, he almost always had his phone forwarded to voicemail.  Everything was a “fire” he was putting out, and being “in the weeds” was his daily position.  He gained a reputation as someone to work around, not with.

In my job, we had ad hoc projects each day, but for the most part, my team and I had a schedule, and we knew what had to be completed and when.  As a result, I was able to put files away and sort my paperwork every night before I left work, so I walked into a clean desk each morning.  Were there nights when I was just too tired and dragged myself home without doing the nightly tidying?  Sure, but I noticed a marked difference in how I felt the next morning and how well I managed my work that day.  Here’s the kicker – one night I was about to leave and my desk was pretty much clear.  My boss passed by and asked “what – don’t you have any work to do?”  Ha ha – what a card.   Bosses – do your whole team a favor, and don’t make fun of your organized employees – they know where things are and they can get your answers when you need them.  You want them on your side, and you want your other employees to see the respect you show those who can manage their time, and their spaces.

So, if you are a member of the messy desk club, ask yourself why.  Maybe there’s a little ADHD going on there, because it’s difficult for you to finish something before another task grabs your attention.  If you suspect that, do your research and get some assistance.  Lists are great for ADHD, plus other visual or audible reminders (like the *bing bong *on your Palm, or Outlook, etc.)  Maybe it’s just a bad habit.  Time to break it.  Learn some time management and filing skills – (try a professional organizer!) – or delegate anything you can.  Maybe you’ve found that people leave you alone when you look busy.  You may do well with this tactic for a while, but eventually the little boy shouts out: “the emperor has no clothes!”  Do you really want to be the person who never gets promoted due to the fact that you’ve established a reputation for being too busy to ever take on anything new?   Information is power – but only if you can find it.