Organizing Your Paper, Spaces & Time 

Organized & Productive 
March, 2015    

"The snow must give way to the will of the spring."

(Pepper Blair)


It's been a terrifically long winter, but March is finally here and spring  

is on the horizon (oh please, oh please!) While many of us may still  

Lisa S. Griffith

have several weeks of snow and cold to get through, the days are longer, the air is warmer, and the snow will someday melt! Meanwhile, life, with all of its challenges and rewards, goes on. If one of your challenges is getting your spaces, paper or time under control, this is a great time to start a project before the desire to be outside again overwhelms your senses. Get rid of the clutter, establish new systems and new habits, and make your living and working spaces functional, productive and peaceful. (Check out the RI Resources Recovery Center's Eco Depot schedule for state-wide recycling events to help with some of that clutter reduction.) 

Now is the time - spring IS on the way!

Let's get it done together!



Not Insane, Just Stuck  

(or How to Make a Change and Make It Stick!) 


Here in New England, we have been inundated with snow. Storm after storm, we hardy New Englanders soldier on, trudging through snow banks as high as our heads in some cases. This has all contributed to a severe case of cabin fever! Many of us feel trapped in our homes and offices (think of the mad dash through the cold to your car, then the mad dash into your office. Rinse and repeat at the end of the day.) When that occurs, our surroundings become either claustrophobic and overwhelming, or peaceful and relaxing, depending upon our situation. If feeling overwhelmed and claustrophobic is your response to your living or working space, it's time for a change!


When your spaces feel suffocating and overwhelming, is your first response to go shopping? Often, the impulse to get your space organized is followed immediately by the rush to the store to buy bins, baskets, folders and labels. "Yes, indeed," you think, "if I have all of that organizing stuff, I WILL BE ORGANIZED! Why, I can just feel the organizing juices flowing through my body!" Then you get all those supplies home, or into your office, wave your magic wand, and, just like the Sorcerer's Apprentice, it's magically all done! No muss, no fuss, no sweat, no decisions. Whew! That was easy!


Wait, that's not what happened? I can feel the deflated spirits, see the dejection now, as those bins you thought would be so perfect don't quite fit on the closet shelf. When the shoes overflow the fancy new shoe rack. When the magazine holders don't hold even half the magazines you've accumulated, and are just a HALF AN INCH too tall to fit on the bookshelf you had planned for them. When you unearth an entirely new, unused box of file folders in the supply closet from the last time you were overcome with the organizing fever, and you've already lost the receipt for the box you just bought so you can't return them. And you really don't have time to trudge back to Staples again, anyway. So the shiny, new organizing stuff becomes just that - more stuff. Piled up in the corner, filling what space is left in the closet, becoming part of the cluttered landscape that is your living or working space. And leaving you feeling guilty, frustrated, and like a failure because you just couldn't seem to get it done. Again.


I'm tempted to use the tired old quote about the definition of insanity (you know, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.) But, in my experience with my clients, none of them are insane. And probably, neither are you. They're just stuck. Stuck in their old way of doing things, and giving up when it doesn't work. And they've bought into the whole Container Store catalog, Pinterest, Real Simple magazine, "look at the pretty pictures of perfectly organized spaces and believing that it's all about the stuff" mentality. One of my colleagues coined the phrase "organizing porn" to describe it.


What I think is a more accurate label for this behavior, rather than insanity, is perseveration. Not in the clinical sense, obviously, but as an attempt to gain some insight into a self-defeating act. Perseveration is the pathological, persistent repetition of a word, gesture, or act. Like going out to buy organizing supplies every time you want to get organized and then leaving them to pile up in the spare room. What's really needed to change your spaces and time is perseverance. Perseverance is the steady persistence in a course of action in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. (read the article from Psychology Today) Organizing your spaces, paper and time is all about digging in, working at it in small chunks at a steady pace, and persevering until the clutter is under control (and mostly gone.) Then, it's about persevering in creating new habits so that the same problem doesn't crop up again, and again, and again.


The first step in getting things organized is to figure out what you have, what can be let go, what you want to keep, and where you want to keep it. That requires the persistent work of sorting like things with like things, making decisions about whether those papers, possessions, and commitments are relevant and useful to your life as you're living it right now, TODAY. Not how you used to live it, or how you might live it in the future. It's about touching every single object or paper, examining every task and commitment in your calendar, and about letting go of old, outdated, irrelevant stuff, concepts, and attitudes. Decide where the stuff you're keeping will live (that goes for things that inhabit space in your calendar, too, by the way.) Assess and evaluate. For physical spaces, MEASURE! (That's what helps avoid the "half an inch too tall" syndrome.)


Then, and only then, do you go shopping for those fancy bins, baskets, or folders. You may find, as so many of my clients do, that they don't really even need to buy much, if anything, because we've emptied out or unearthed so many organizing supplies that they already possess.


Once you've finally persisted in achieving your goal of functionality, productivity and living in peace in your surroundings, persevere in creating a new way of living in those surroundings. New habits are all about being a little uncomfortable for a while, getting discouraged sometimes, overcoming obstacles, and making some challenging new choices when the old ones seem so much easier.


Insanity - no. Perseveration - no.

Perseverance? Yes!


Like me on Facebook

Help Me Spread the Word! 
Your referrals are my best advertising. Do you have 3 friends who would enjoy this newsletter? If you do, take a moment to forward this to them and help me spread the organizing word! 

 View our profile on LinkedIn Find us on Facebook  

Hear Lisa Speak
on Organizing & Productivity

The Four Organizing Traps

Monday, March 23, 2015
12:00 - 1:30 pm
East Providence Rotary Club
Chelo's Restaurant
911 Warren Ave.
East Providence, RI

Have you started an organizing project with the best of intentions, only to lose steam before the project is done? Does your beautifully organized space deteriorate into its previous state more quickly than you'd like to admit? Or do you never really get going at all, and wonder why it's so difficult to get started? If any of this sounds familiar, you're not alone! Many of us struggle with the same issues, and we all have mental traps that capture us and keep us from succeeding in our organizing goals. Come to this presentation and learn about the four common mental traps that can derail even the most well-intentioned of organizing projects!



Conquering Paper Clutter at Home 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Noon - 1 pm

Brown University - College Hill campus

Providence, RI

(open to faculty & staff only) 


Dealing with the constant influx of paper into your home is crucial to maintaining an organized, uncluttered living space. Countertops, dining room tables, all horizontal surfaces can become inundated with paper piles. In this presentation, you will learn how to set up a household command center that will give you quick and easy access to current and important family papers. You will know what to keep and how to store your kids' artwork and school papers so you can preserve the most significant mementos in an accessible and enjoyable fashion. Come and discover Lisa's signature "5 D's" system for making quick decisions on the daily influx of mail and other papers. Find out how to set up a mail sorting station to keep those mail piles from cluttering up your home, and finally reconnect with your family over dinnertime at your paper-free kitchen or dining room table!


The Optimized Office
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Noon - 1 pm
Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
222 Richmond St.
Providence, RI
(open to faculty & staff only)

Turning your cluttered, disorganized office into a functional workspace is crucial to maintaining your productivity and keeping stress at bay. This presentation will offer organizing techniques and tips to help you deal with the most common source of office clutter, wasted time, and reduced productivity - paper! Learn how to set up an easy-to-maintain desktop center that will keep important papers at your fingertips, make quick decisions about how to deal with incoming mail and other paperwork, and turn your cluttered desk into an efficient place to work. You will walk away with tools that will enable you to reclaim your desktop, filing cabinet, office floor, or any other place that has become overwhelmed by paper clutter.


In order, in joy, 



Lisa S. Griffith, CPOŽ 
The Organized Way
Organizing & Productivity Specialist/Speaker 
Phone:  (401) 289-0042
Website: www.organizedway.com  View our profile on LinkedIn  Find us on Facebook