Sunday, June 20, 2010


One of my absolute least favorite things to do is move. I love change, don’t get me wrong, but the physical act of moving is not something I, or most people, enjoy in the least. Hopefully these tidbits of helpful hints will make moving a little bit more streamlined and as positive of an experience as possible. I must say, once everything is all moved in I do love unpacking the boxes and finding a place for everything and organizing all of my belongings – that’s the fun part. But the stuff you have to do before that is not fun.

I am beginning a mental preparation for moving. We have been house-hunting now for seven long months. We have to be getting closer to the finish line by now, right? I am assuming that we will be packing our own belongings into our own boxes this time around (the last time we moved I sat in the kitchen and watched so gratefully as the movers wrapped and packed all of our boxes for us. That was so blissfully wonderful I can’t even tell you.), so the first step for me will be to go on a man-hunt for boxes and stock up on newspaper, packing tape and permanent markers. The best boxes I have found have come from liquor stores, golf courses, restaurants, grocers, gas stations and any boxes you have received in the mail (say from Amazon or Zappos, etc).

In conjunction with my box hunt, I will ultimately clear out a space in my condo for all of the moving supplies and packed boxes to be stored until moving day. Likely, that space will be our den. It is the most secluded area in our home at this time, and I can avoid looking at the mess, as I would have to do every day if all of this were to be stored in our living room (the only other viable space in our current digs – hence why we’re moving).

I have been employing the philosophy “if I pack, the house will come” – similar to “if you build it, they will come” – you know, from the movie Field of Dreams. So, I have been slowly knocking out a few boxes here and there. My strategy goes like this: start in the storage room and make sure that everything is boxed up and can easily be pulled out come moving day; then move into your kitchen cabinets to pack up the duplicates or the items you infrequently use, such as the china, the extra linens, etc.; then work your way to the bedroom and pack up any out-of-season clothes (this will be a challenge for me, here in Seattle, as it is June 20 and we are still in the thick of winter with no sign of spring ahead) and shoes, as well as jackets and any sporting equipment that is out-of-season. Another day, I would grab some boxes and work on the office – I am not going to be reading my book collection between now and the time of the big move, I don’t think, so that can be packed up and closed off; along with the stuff we store in the office – cords, wires, connect-y things, office supplies – all of this can be packed up in advance, if you ask me.

To keep me sane, I do like to chip away at the task of packing a little bit at a time to avoid a stressful situation just prior to closing on our perspective new home.

In the week or two before the big move, it will be important to determine what the most important belongings you have are – things like the coffee pot, a few place settings (plates, bowls, glasses, flatware, coffee mugs) toiletries, the computer(s), a few outfits to wear, etc. Keep these useable, but at this time, it will be necessary to pack the extras – linens, mixers, pantry items, and so on. I would pack these last-minute items in a box labeled just that – “Last Minute Items” so you know that is a box that needs to be unpacked before everything else, once you’re in your new space. You could also pack your last minute clothes and towels in a duffel bag or suitcase.

A cross-country or International move will require an enormous amount of patience and flexibility. Trust me on this one. I moved from Minnesota out here to Seattle nearly two years ago and it was not the biggest piece of cake, ever. The movers changed the date they would arrive with all of our stuff several times, which made it very frustrating and difficult to plan for. But, we did turn the experience into a mini-vacation – we packed up our suitcases and headed to the lake for a week of fun and relaxation while our moving truck was en-route to Seattle. We flew out to Seattle with those two oversized suitcases, hoping to arrive the day before the moving truck, so that we wouldn’t have to be in our new home without anything to eat on or sleep on in the meantime. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, as the moving truck was several days late (how long, really, does it take to drive a truck from the Midwest to the west coast??? I’ve done that drive in 2 days!) That was an experience I do not wish to repeat anytime soon.

Some tips I have for you, as someone who has moved 6 times in 3 years and 8 times in 4 years (so, 14 times in 7 years?):

• Label correctly: when I hired movers who packed – they did an absolutely horrible job at correctly labeling my boxes. My bedding was in a box marked “Kitchen” and my pots and pans were in a box labeled “Office Supplies.” This was very frustrating because there are things that you want to get unpacked before others – bedding is one of those things, especially when it is brand new and you need to wash and dry it before the end of moving day. I also suggest labeling two sides of each box, as well, so that you can see what is in a box if it is in a stack with other boxes.

• Things alike go in the same box: this will simplify and streamline the process, come moving day and unpacking day(s). I suggest labeling every box with the room it is to go into along with an in-depth contents list.

• Don’t over-pack: make sure that you can still lift your box without the bottom bowing out – that would be a horrible experience if the box split open at the bottom (especially if it was filled with something fragile).

• Use high-quality tape and use it well: if your tape doesn’t hold up, your box could break or it could come open and spill everything out.

Summer is usually a fairly busy moving time – be sure to call ahead to rent your moving truck or to hire your movers. They will probably ask you questions about the size of your home, the number of boxes you have and your location to determine the size and quantity of the truck(s). We live in a condo in downtown Seattle, so we have a lot of hoops to jump through here with our HOA – paying a fee, reserving the “moving elevator” and making sure we reserve a parking space for the moving truck(s) since it’s on a busy street. After we move, we’ll have none of that nonsense to worry about anymore!

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Inbox Reduction

A little while back I read a fantastic book that was recommended to me called “Organize Yourself with Office 2007.” One of the focal points of this great text was about how many “inboxes” we have. Thinking about all of the places where we store new information is outrageous. One personal goal I have, since reading this book, is to limit all of the inboxes I have, specifically in my office.

To give you a better idea of what I mean when I say “inbox” here is a short list of inboxes that I have at work:

• E-mail inbox
• Mailbox
• Voicemail box on office phone
• Voicemail box on cell phone
• Paper messages to return a phone call
• Text messages from employees on cell phone
• Six stackable baskets for things that are coming in that I need to deal with, categorized of course
• To-do list on paper to add all of the items coming in that I need to deal with

That’s a lot! And that was just a quick 60 second brainstorm that didn’t even go into personal inboxes.

Honestly, inside that list of work-related inboxes there aren’t many spots where I can trim down and reduce incoming information overload. I can’t just cut out my voicemail on my office phone or cell, nor can I stop receiving e-mail (though I often wish I didn’t get so many e-mails!). But what I can do is manage how I store all of the information in my inboxes.
Six stackable baskets for things that are coming in that I need to deal with is a bit much, eh. I have reduced this substantially. Now, I really have one basket with things that I need to deal with, and the remaining five baskets are for filing things that I’m either working on or need to refer back to. I even turned one of those baskets into an outbox (things I need to mail).

One thing that I used to rely on heavily was little notes ALL OVER MY DESK. Those started cluttering everything and becoming a nuisance and getting lost among each other, so I have discontinued that habit. Instead – I create fewer notes but have a category for the notes. For example, I run an educational program where one of my responsibilities is to put together materials for my staff. Instead of having 17 notes all over my desk saying that Joe needs x, y, z and Jenna needs a, d, t and Hannah needs t, u, v, I have a list of who needs what materials. This sounds so trivial and obvious, but it has made such a big difference in my sanity. Oh, and I got some super cute Anne Taintor sticky notes that say “I dreamed my whole desk was clean.” They make me smile.

It’s the little things that you can do during your workday to make the 8-12 hours you spend there more organized and entertaining. Reducing my inboxes and information intake has been a minor adjustment to a major change.

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Anne Taintor and all her wit

By now, you have to know of my love for sticky notes, notepads, notebooks and anything related to writing a note. I prefer handwritten notes in any capacity, than those written electronically. I have a moderate obsession with notes; however, after a recent discovery of a new notepad designer, that obsession has reached a new level.

After 3M, my favorite note designer is Anne Taintor. Her products are absolutely hysterical. My good friend turned me on to her when she sent me postcards that were designed by Anne Taintor, then she started sending me notepads and my life had taken a turn for the best.
This is the first notepad I received, so eloquently stating “Just file it under “who cares?””:

Some more of my favorites from my good friend, Anne Taintor and her collection titled “Modern Office Revisited”:

The simple pleasures, like witty notepads, that give me a smile on the toughest days are worth every penny.
Anne Taintor’s products can be found on her website: and in specialty stores or boutiques across the country.

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