December 20, 2011

My fellow grasshoppers, I have seen the light: If I really want the new me, then there must be room for the new me. And that means getting serious about cleaning my house.

It’s taken two dreadful days to get my home work spaces in order. But now, I have a beautifully functional desk setup. And the spare room where I paint has been transformed too.

So when 2012 rolls in here, I am prepared to welcome a new job, busy months of college tours with my 11th grader daughter, and some serious financial soul-searching about managing our future.

Yup, lots of changes ahead. And I say, bring’em on!

I’m feeling brave right now, thanks to some great advice from Alyson Stanfield. If her name sounds familiar, it’s because I’ve been talking about her all year. I still have no idea how I found her website, where she inspires me to believe in my ability to be a successful artist (someday — haha!).

Alyson has a bunch of $97 online classes and I just took one called “Get Organized.” This one ran for 18 sessions and was filled with tons of helpful suggestions. Here are some of the ideas that most resonated with me:

** You can’t have room for anything new — or be anyone new — if you live in suffocating clutter.

** Multi-tasking makes it harder to get things done. When possible, complete one task at a time.

** Manage social media, which is a time and energy sucker. Start by turning off all notifications for new comments and mentions on Facebook and Twitter.

** Emailing will eat you alive if you let it. Set specific times (once or twice a day) to read email and just deal with it then and there. Don’t keep going back over and over again. This same approach also works for social media.

** Have only one calendar and put all your appointments on it.

** As much as possible, go paperless. It’s much easier to maintain to-do lists and build files online.

Alyson had more to say. But maybe I should just show you what’s happened in my house:

On Jan. 1, I’ll become a digital reporter for Newsday, covering Westchester County, N.Y. — from my home “office.” My desk, which is in my bedroom, wasn’t set up for such an intensive work level. Now it is. I’m also set up for power naps.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much paper stuff I threw away (don’t worry, I recycled!). Why did I need notes from an intro Photoshop course? Or the handout on “How to Burn CDs on a Mac?” Was there any reason to have a timeline of “Wars Through The Ages” tacked on my bulletin board? By the way, notice the nice space I cleared on my bulletin board — room for taking in new stories, new ideas:

I love my new wall-mounted desk organizers. My work files are handy too.

Sorting through everything was such a chore. Nothing was sacred, not even my paintings. I chose to hang only my favorites around my desk; the rest are stacked on a closet shelf. As for the wall-mounted mesh desk organizers, I found them at Target. They were better — and cheaper — than anything I saw at the Container Store.

In case you want product details: The “Metal Mesh Wall Bureau” that’s holding my iPad and cell phone is $18.59. The “Metal Mesh Hanging File Sorter” is $11.59. They’re both only available in the stores but you can view them online at Target’s website here.

Now let’s move on to the special place where I paint and mess with stuff:

This is my little studio. Getting cleaned up feels really, really good — like exhaling.

So that’s the tour…

Moving forward, I am really excited by the concept of physically making room for new things to happen. There’s no breathing room if every inch of my bulletin board is covered with paper, if my walls are filled with paintings or if my rooms are packed with furniture.

Making room for change is a good thing.  :)

P.S. — I am a total Alyson Stanfield groupie. If you’d like to read more posts about her work, just click on the orange link for her name in the “Tagged as” section below.