Full Circle Communications
August 2010
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past issues
Scan past issues on such topics as design tips for writers and speechwriting.

ease in writing?
"Ease in writing" comes from a poem by Alexander Pope, the British poet:

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance.

Note he (and I) didn't say "easy writing." But just as dance lessons can help get you around the floor more gracefully, the goal for this newsletter is to share a tip or two to improve your writing.

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De-Clutter for Better Writing
 
Cluttered deskCurrent projects, projects on which you are waiting for approval, future ideas--things can pile up around your workspace all too easily.
 
In contrast, "organization allows a person to focus on the task at hand, have the tools needed nearby to do the job, and concentrate without environmental distractions," said Terri Fischer, a professional organizer who has run the company Consider It Done for 19 years.
 
You probably knew that. But how do you accomplish it? Here are some common situations that Fischer sees and potential solutions:
 
  Situation: You are visually oriented, so you need to see your projects to remember them.
Solution: Rather than stacks of papers, she suggests "containment." "Put everything that relates to the project in a container, something you can put a lid on," she said. "You can see it, but things won't get scattered and distract you."
 
  Situation: You have sticky notes all over your computer or desk as reminders.
Solution: Fischer suggests "judicious use to avoid the clutter of little yellow notes that become wallpaper." Take action, then remove the notes. For example, instead of a note to make a dentist appointment, schedule the appointment.  Or put the item on a task list, which Fischer notes can be structured as a word list, pictures, index cards (her favorite), or whatever works for you.
 
  Situation: Your work area is crowded with "stuff."
Solution: The area within arm's reach of your computer, said Fischer, is "prime real estate; anything there has to earn its keep." In other words, limit the space to items or papers you use regularly. Place reference materials or other resources you use often, but not all the time, close by. Archives and things you rarely use belong further away. At the same time, think if you really need to save those items. Are they available online, at the library, or elsewhere?
 
  Situation: You collect ideas for future articles, interview subjects, or other reasons. When you need them, you forget where you put them.
Solution: How do you think of these ideas (Future Projects, Resources, Book Ideas, etc.)? Label a box, folder, or other container with this title. Flip through as needed or every six months or however you want. Fischer, who admits to occasional "clutter challenges," is also a fiber artist and sometimes has too many unfinished projects. She chose a container for these projects. "I respect the size of the container," she said. "When it reaches capacity, I have to finish something up or let something go."
 
Situation: This all sounds great, but you'll never keep it up.
Solution: Fischer is very big on scheduled maintenance time. Take 3 to 5 minutes to put things away from one project and wrap things up in your mind. It can be after working on each one, at the end of the day, or whatever suits your rhythm. Make it fun with music and a stretch. Or just buckle down and set a timer. "Think of it as a form of compassion," she said. "You're making things easy on yourself for the next time."
 
Finally, Fischer urges us to let go of aiming for the perfect system, with nary a piece of paper askew. "Action is preferable to perfection," she said.

More Organization

Terri Fischer, professional organizer and owner of Consider It Done, recommends these resources:
 
Books
Organizing for the Creative Person, by Dorothy Lehmkuhl and Dolores Cotter Lamping
Organizing from the Inside Out, by Julie Morgenstern
Making Peace with the Things in Your Life, by Cindy Glovinsky
 
Websites
National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO)
DC chapter of NAPO
Fly Lady (lots of little tips for home and office)
National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization
Full Circle Communications, LLC / Alexandria, VA / 703.212.0349