Don't Buy Random Crap for Your Loved Ones

You’ve heard of The Five Love Languages, right? If not, the basic premise is that people tend to prefer to give and receive love in one of five ways: words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, gifts, and quality time. Once you and your loved ones figure out your individual love languages, it can help you show love to each other more effectively. In fact, if you’re not sure what you prefer, there’s an online quiz you can take to find out!

Recently, I’ve watched my clients struggle with the gift giving love language. Specifically, they have family that lives very far away and misses them very much, and shows their love by sending them inexpensive gifts regularly. While I haven’t met the gift givers in person, it’s clear to me that these gifts are sent out of an abundance of love, with absolutely no ill intent.

However, there are serious side effects to a regular gift giving routine.

  1. Those gifts add up fast. In thinking of one client in particular, her mom likes to send her costume jewelry, cloth bags, cute glasses and dishware, and general tchotchkes. My client, like many of us here in San Francisco, lives with her boyfriend in a one bedroom apartment. It’s plenty of space for them and their cats, but there just isn’t enough storage to accommodate the constant inflow of gifts. 
  2. Those gifts cause serious guilt. My clients tell me that they don’t want to donate these gifts because they know that if the giver found out, they would be hurt. The gifts, in effect, become an emotional burden and an extension of the guilt my clients already feel over living so far away from their loved ones.
  3. Those gifts can cause relationship strife. I have a couple of clients who deal with continuous gift giving from both of their moms. They are each uncomfortable with dealing with so much stuff from their own mothers, but end up taking that frustration out on each other and the other’s mom. While this is so common for all of us as humans - we redirect anger at a person we can’t confront to the people who see us every day - it’s completely avoidable in this case.
 This is what years of inexpensive gifts looks like after I've helped a client decide what's important to keep... and what's not.

This is what years of inexpensive gifts looks like after I've helped a client decide what's important to keep... and what's not.

People whose love language is gift giving (and I am one of them, so I know of what I speak!) sometimes struggle with the idea that a gift could be a bad thing, and they often don’t know how to communicate their love in other ways that feel just as effective. So, I have a few suggestions!

  1. Take a picture of the cute tchotchke, send it to your loved one, and tell them why it made you think of them. How fun is a random loving message in the middle of the day? You get all the benefits of gift giving, like reminding someone that you love them and showing that you understand what’s special about them, without any of the downside. This also gives you the opportunity to see whether or not your loved one actually wants that item! If they text back “hahaha, love that, I miss you too!” then the thought was enough. But a text that says “OMG I need this!” means you have the green light to send a gift!
  2. Give experiences rather than objects. This is something my family has wholeheartedly embraced as part of our gift giving tradition and we all absolutely love it.  You get the gift giving experience - opening something, the surprise, the feeling of being special to the giver - and then you get to extend it by talking about the upcoming event, planning for it, then doing it and reminiscing about it after the fact. My sister gave me a trip to Jackson Hole for Christmas a couple years ago and it was one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten!
  3. Direct your gift giving energy to people who are in need. Every holiday season, my husband and I adopt a family through Compass Family Services, and take great joy in making their Christmas magical. I love giving to friends and family, but it's even more rewarding to give to people who truly need and appreciate the gifts.
  4. Save your gift giving effort (and budget) for select occasions. Often, people send many cheaper gifts because they feel that the number of gift giving occasions should be maximized but they don’t have the funds to purchase high quality gifts that often. When it comes to gifts, like many other things in life, I recommend going for quality over quantity. Two high quality, beautiful gifts per year will give your loved one all the surprise and delight you crave, and because you have the extra time and money to spend on selecting it, chances are much higher that they will use and love the gift.
  5. When in doubt, just pick up the phone and say “I love you.” Because that’s what we’re all really trying to do with gift giving, right?
 This not my family's Christmas, but the gifts prepared for our adopted family this past holiday season!

This not my family's Christmas, but the gifts prepared for our adopted family this past holiday season!

I, personally, will never stop loving the process of opening a present that someone has selected just for me, and then watching them open something I know they’re going to love. But I love it even more when it’s a truly special moment and not just a regular thing.

LMW

Organizing A... Marriage?

One of my major pet peeves is when people say that a marriage or long term relationship is “hard work.” This declaration is usually made by a married person to an unmarried person with widened eyes and a serious tone, and carries the mental weight of a thousand marital spats.

It’s not that I think that long term relationships are easy. In fact, I find it pretty obvious that when people coast along in relationships and don’t put any energy into maintaining them, bad things happen. And, uh, I’ve certainly had my share of marital spats!

It’s just that the phrase “hard work” seems so unjustly onerous. To me, a relationship is like a lot of other things in life: you get out what you put in. So, if you pay attention to your relationship and your partner, and put in effort at maintaining it, you won’t put yourself in a position where you need to dig yourself out of a deep hole with “hard work.”

Still, it’s not as though maintaining a great relationship is easy or effortless. It does require a plan, and follow through on that plan. Which means that, just like most other things in life, relationships require some organization! There are as many ways to organize a relationship as there are people on the planet, but my husband and I have found a process that works for us: we set and review our goals once a year.

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Like all the good things in life, the process of goal setting is as important and rewarding as the outcome. So, to make the process feel special, we carve out a specific time in a specific place each year. Said time and place is during our anniversary getaway and usually involves martinis, to be honest.

To get down to the nitty gritty, we have a shared Evernote notebook with a note for each category: things like health, philanthropy, finances, travel, work, and family. We go through each category one by one and review each item within the category. Sometimes we get to congratulate ourselves on a goal accomplished, sometimes we have to re-evaluate a goal or the timing thereof, and sometimes we add more plans for the future. The process reminds us of the things that are important to us - and at the same time reveals the things we’ve been dealing with that are just distractions.

Still, the thing I find most fun about our goal setting sessions is that it puts me right back into that feeling of discovery and possibility that we had at the beginning of our relationship when we were first getting to know each other. You know that time: when you’re starting to share your hopes and dreams for the future, and you get unbelievably excited when you find out that you have some of said hopes and dreams in common. You’re madly in love and the future feels limitless, no matter how cheesy that sounds.

Yes, I realize this seems somewhat implausible: a regular, systematic process of creating and benchmarking against goals sparks a romantic renaissance. But it’s true! I always leave the conversation feeling renewed, connected, and excited about the future.

Organizing: it can be for your long term relationship too!

LMW

My Most Difficult Organizing Job

Last week, I was explaining my work to someone, and they asked me a question I actually had never been asked before. They wanted to know what had been my most difficult job, and why.

I have been so fortunate to have absolutely wonderful clients over the past few years. There really have not been any horror stories - my clients have listened to me, trusted me, and been honest with me. I value the relationship I have with each client, and remain incredibly grateful they have allowed me into their lives to help them.

That said, one job does come to mind. The client wanted me to help unpack following a move - which is a great time to get organized! However, this person was also absolutely unwilling to consider changing any habits or getting rid of any items at all whatsoever. This person believed that I could wield some sort of organizer magic to make the stuff they owned take up less space and look prettier, without requiring them to put in any effort to change.

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If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that’s not what it’s about. I do not wave a magic wand, and I do not do cosmetic fixes. I create an organizing system that works for each of my individual clients, and then I make it look beautiful. People come to me because they realize that their space is not working for them, and I do my very best work when they are willing to undertake change.

Plus, when you come right down to it, organizing and storage are limited by the rules of physics. There is nothing I can do to make a certain number of shirts suddenly take up less physical space. I cannot bend the space-time continuum! This is why I always tell people that organizing is not about the storage, it is first and foremost about the stuff.

So there you have it: my most difficult organizing job. And if that’s all I’ve had to deal with, then I count myself very lucky indeed!

LMW

How to Revive Your Old Jeans

I’ve talked before about the joy of wearing things out. It almost feels like an accomplishment: you selected the perfect thing and used it up completely.

But there’s another joy to be found in keeping high quality things for a long time: repairing them before you even get to that point! I’m a regular at the shoe repair place near my first San Francisco apartment to this day, and I have my favorite tailor out of a teeny little dry cleaner in that same neighborhood.

Sometimes, though, things go beyond the ability of a tailor to bring your pieces back to life. For example: when that pair of premium denim develops a hole it wasn’t supposed to have, you don’t just want to slap a patch on it, you want it to continue to look good. Enter Denim Therapy.

 My much loved jeans, pretty much good as new!

My much loved jeans, pretty much good as new!

I believe I first heard of them through a 00’s newsletter like Daily Candy way back when, before places like Poshmark and The RealReal had normalized sending clothing, shoes, and accessories back and forth across the country. I tried the service then and was very pleased, and based on my recent experience I can confidently say that Denim Therapy continues to offer high quality denim repair.

Here’s how it works. You go to the Denim Therapy website and fill out a simple form for each pair of jeans you want the to fix. Box up your jeans (clean, please!), send them in, and within a week or so you’ll get an estimate for the repair via email. Once you accept, they will perform the repair and mail your jeans back to you. Or, if you happen to be in the vicinity of Brooklyn, you can do all of the above in person!

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Sending your wounded jeans to Denim Therapy for repair is not particularly cheap and it’s not particularly fast, but the process is really easy and the quality of the work speaks for itself. I just got back my favorite pair of 5 year old Alexa Chung x AG skinnies with distressed knees last week, and unless you get super up close and personal with my butt, you’ll never know they’d been repaired. Denim Therapy matches the color and texture of the fabric really well, and the work holds up over time.

 There's a repair in each picture.

There's a repair in each picture.

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Honestly, I’m just super glad Denim Therapy is still in business and providing high quality service after all these years! I got to keep wearing a pair of jeans I truly love, prevented them from going into a landfill, and saved the money I would have paid to replace them. 

What other ways do you repair and/or repurpose your things so that you can keep using and loving them?

LMW

Organizing a Kick-*ss Bachelorette Party

Last month, my best college girls and I were draped over the furniture in a hotel suite in Austin, primping, drinking champagne, and roasting each other about our considerably more messy college selves.

At one point, one of the girls asked the room at large, “Did anyone think Lucy would be the responsible one planning all our bachelorette parties??”

The answer was a resounding “NO!” and gales of laughter!

You guys, they’re not wrong. I have, ahem, grown up a lot over the last fifteen or so years. I still put my foot in my mouth more often than I would like, but I have learned through trial and error how to manage some of the more important things in life.

One of those things is being there for your nearest and dearest at the most important times in their lives. I’m now in the middle of maid of honor duties for the third time, and was also delegated the bachelorette party planning role when I was a regular bridesmaid in a fourth wedding. It's a serious honor (and responsibility) to be in charge of this kind of occasion, and can be stressful because bachelorette parties get wrapped up in the whole wedding industrial complex.

And as with all things wedding industrial complex, there are a ton of tips on the internet about how to throw a bachelorette party. So instead, I wanted to share with you the less obvious ways you can make the event a source of treasured memories instead of drama.

1) Your bride is all that matters.

Ask her what she wants, and LISTEN. One of my best friends wanted a night out on the town with pink and sparkles, another a chance to relax somewhere quiet for a weekend. Just as there are a million types of weddings, there are a million types of bachelorette parties. Resist the temptation to copy curated parties on Pinterest and instead plan something that truly fits your dear friend.

 This is the more, ahem, photogenic part of the bachelorette stash.

This is the more, ahem, photogenic part of the bachelorette stash.

This goes double for bachelorette… paraphernalia. I have a stash of funny stuff I bring to each party, but every bride should be able to decide for herself exactly how much attention she wants to attract and how risqué she wants to be. I have pictures of one girl carrying a large inflatable “item” into a restaurant, and another didn’t wear her sash or beads outside the hotel room. If it’s all in the name of fun, then it doesn’t matter!

2) Be very transparent about costs with the guests - and don't bother your bride.

This means involving all the guests in the planning process before you make reservations so that you can make sure everyone is comfortable. It also means that if you find the budget too restrictive for your party goals, your only option is to cover the balance yourself and do so quietly and graciously. No bride wants to feel like she's causing her best friends stress and anguish! On more than one occasion, I have used my own airline miles to make sure a treasured member of the wedding party can make it to a destination bachelorette. I’ve also covered activities the bride was stoked about but others wouldn’t have chosen on their own. 

If you can swing it, I also recommend putting everything on one person’s credit card and privately giving each guest a clean total after the party is over. When you remove the feeling of nickel and dime-ing during the party itself, you make the whole thing feel more seamless. This may mean extra work on your end, but it’s worth it. 

3) Restrict your geographic area during the party.

When doing a destination bachelorette, I either like to keep all activities on property or within walking/short Uber distance. The reason? A weekend is actually very limited time to spend with people you may not see very often, and what you really want to focus on is maximizing the quality time you all spend together. Of each bachelorette party I’ve planned, some of the most memorable time has been when we’re all getting ready together in a hotel room, or just chilling out by a pool. Time spent in transit, and all the stress that causes, just saps the energy from your good time.

4) Give your schedule plenty of breathing room.

For a weekend bachelorette, I like to have dinner reservations for both nights, a general post-dinner plan for Friday night and definitive reservations for Saturday night, and one daytime activity on Saturday. Anything more, and you’re going to be forcing crabby, hungover girls to get up too early or stressing everyone out with trying to get to too many appointments. No, you may not be able to hit that Instagram star brunch spot if you don’t plan ahead, but again, this party is all about quality time. Grab some brunch from a food truck or counter service cafe, and enjoy your morning together!

 Vegas ready in spring 2010!

Vegas ready in spring 2010!

I’ll confess that for my own bachelorette party, way back in 2010, I wanted the whole Vegas shebang. I remain incredibly grateful that all my best girls gamely rolled out in their sparkly best, treated me to a fancy dinner and night out, and generally made me feel like the star of the show. I'm so lucky that they indulged me, and that we're all still close to this day!

LMW

On Long Term Love

Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not a relationship expert. I’m a professional organizer, which means I’m much more qualified to tell how to store your sweater collection than how to recognize true love.

What I can tell you is that I’m lucky enough to be living in a truly fulfilling marriage, one that just turned eight years old today. I can also tell you that the first indication that I’d found the love of my life was so simple that at the time I didn’t think much of it.  

It’s ridiculously simple, in fact: when I told friends and family about my relationship, the phrase “it just works” came out of my mouth.

From the first time I hung out with my husband, he fit into my life. There was no worrying over whether or not he liked me, no strategizing over how to get him to commit, no counting of pros and cons.  I had spent my high school and college years striving and searching and pining for love, and then when I met my husband, it felt like, “Oh, there you are. That wasn’t so hard.”  It. Just. Worked.

Nearly thirteen years after we first met, we are still just two ordinary people who were lucky enough to find each other and smart enough to hang on to each other. No Great American Novel will be written about our love... and if you grew up obsessed with the great literary love stories, as I did, the sheer normalcy of a real, lasting love may at first feel like something of a come down.

 Photo courtesy of  Timothy Teague Photography

Photo courtesy of Timothy Teague Photography

But I promise you: the love that just works is worth everything.  It will give you new depths to find in yourself where you least expect them, challenge you to be your best even when life is monotonous, teach you how to give more to another person than you thought you ever had in the first place, and give you a bedrock of security from which to conquer the world in your own way.

Thank you, AVW, for all of it.

LMW

One Small Taste of Success

My sister and I are close. Not physically - although we live in the same city, we often go days or weeks without seeing each other or talking on the phone. But emotionally, very much so - we’re really open with each other about everything from gossip to family conflict. We HATED each other as children (something something sibling rivalry something), but a switch flipped some time in high school, and I’ve been proud to call her one of my very best friends ever since

All this to say: we were chatting the other day, while my not quite two year old niece tried on all my costume jewelry and harassed the dog, and got to talking about work. She’s a bigwig at a financial services startup, a relatively recent promotion for her, and has been on fire about it since the day she got the gig. She has always been incredibly smart (much more so than I) and the kind of dedicated, hardworking employee anyone would want to have, but this is a whole new level of passion that I’ve never seen before.

Except… I kind of have. In myself.

When I started LMW Edits, I knew that it would be fun and a challenge, but I didn’t know if it would really work as a going concern and I had pretty minimal goals.  I wanted to have a full roster of clients in the San Francisco Bay Area, and serve them well.  That was it!

 Where the work gets done.

Where the work gets done.

For the first three years, I worked towards this relatively modest goal. I loved the work and I loved my clients, but I didn’t feel an inner drive to make my business my life. I still treated it as a job, relishing my time off and feeling a little big of a drag on Sunday nights as I faced the work week.

And then, last year, I started to see a shift. It started with the local conference put on by the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) SF Bay Area Chapter, where I saw Debbie Hoffman speak. Debbie is a former Wall Street rock star who shifted her focus to coaching small business owners on the finer points of follow up. I really connected with what she was saying, scheduled a consultation with her the next week, and signed right up for her one on one coaching program.

 Getting out there on behalf of my business!

Getting out there on behalf of my business!

As I started to work with Debbie, two things happened. First, I began to see more success: more clients coming in, more interest in my blog, and yes, more revenue in my bank account. Second, I began to dream bigger. The experience of working with so many varied and wonderful clients had started to give me the confidence to express my views on all things organizing related (as many of you have seen here on the blog), and I began to think about how to connect to a larger audience.

LMW Edits is still very much a work in progress, but I’m more passionate about my business and its potential than ever before. I have lots of projects in the pipeline, think about my business constantly, and work more hours than I ever thought I had the capacity to work. And this is all organic and intrinsically motivated - no one is standing over me telling me what to do, I’m just so fired and up and inspired that I absolutely have to get it all done. And all it took was reaching out to someone who inspired me and getting that first small taste of success!

LMW

Bullet Journaling: Helpful or Hype?

Our culture is currently obsessed with productivity and saving time. This makes sense: as a whole, we’re wealthier than we’ve ever been and we can buy almost everything we need… except time.

This explains the popularity of the bullet journal: a custom made planner that you design specifically for your needs. Some people use it as a calendar, some as a to-do list, some as a goal setting tool, and many people use it for multiple purposes. There’s serious power there in being able to plan things that are important to you so that you minimize the time it takes to deal with them.

And yet, the focus of bullet journaling seems to have shifted away from pure productivity and toward making the journal itself as Instagrammable as possible. Just look at Pinterest: there are so many photos of beautiful bullet journal layouts that must have taken hours. To me, this is kind of like the “pretty box and label” problem - the intention is great, but many people get caught up in the aesthetic details and waste more time than they save.

 Image via Pinterest

Image via Pinterest

This is why I initially rejected the bullet journal. Of course, it’s great to have a creative outlet, and if you personally derive a lot of intrinsic value from the process of beautifying your bullet journal, that’s great. However, there is a lot of hand wringing online by potential bullet journalers who don’t take it up because they feel that their artistic skills are inadequate. Talk about missing the point! A bullet journal is intended to help you be productive in whatever way works for you, and literally no other human ever has to see it.

I also can’t help but notice that beautiful bullet journals are pushed towards a female audience. All the gorgeous layouts you’ll see online have lovely looping handwriting, pretty patterns and colors, and other hallmarks of feminine stereotypes. And that just frustrates me, because the last thing we need in this world is one more image-based activity for women to worry about and waste time on!

Still, I have both work and personal goals that I always think about but never quite do. So, I gave the bullet journal strategy a shot.  Here’s how I do it.

 Notebook from Kate Spade New York

Notebook from Kate Spade New York

I use my bullet journal to to two things: track habits I want to acquire, and create mini to-do lists and time planning for each work day. I use a notebook a dear friend got me as a gift and one color of ink. I do no decorations and I use my normal handwriting. I simply lay out the habit chart for each week, and then write the next day’s activities each evening on the following page. it takes maybe two minutes.

 Yes, my hand is strategically placed, why do you ask?

Yes, my hand is strategically placed, why do you ask?

And you know what blows my mind? That grid of tiny little check marks adding up as the week progresses WORKS. I get so much innate satisfaction out of checking everything off that I think ahead throughout my day about when I’m going to fit in my desired activities. On the flip side, the things I habitually forget to do or avoid really bug me, so much so that I am motivated to change my schedule for the coming days.

The grid also helps me work towards a larger achievement of permanent habit change. I’ve decided that if I do something every day for two weeks straight, I can consider that habit acquired and move it off my checklist. So far, nothing has quite made the cut - but I’m getting closer, and that’s extremely motivating!

So, as with many things in the organizing and productivity space, I wholeheartedly agree with the strategy while remaining frustrated at the inordinate focus people place on the aesthetic.

Have you tried bullet journaling? How did it go?

LMW

On Imperfection

I will not be the first or last person to talk about imperfection. Insert trite truism about our social media airbrushed perfection image driven society blah blah blah here! Plenty of people smarter and more articulate than I have written powerful pieces on the topic.

Instead, I want to tell you what imperfection means to me. Specifically, I want to tell you about my skin.

 Hangin' out in the skin I'm in at The Peak, Hong Kong

Hangin' out in the skin I'm in at The Peak, Hong Kong

I’m super pale. I come from a long line of people so pale that some of our freckles are white. For most of my life this has been distinctly unfashionable, so in my teens and twenties I absolutely hated my pale skin and tried to tan. Emphasis on "tried." 

I’m covered in freckles and moles, because see above: pale skin and sun damage. Some of them are cute (my mom used to refer to the crop of freckles that would appear on my nose every summer as brown sugar sprinkles), but a lot of them are bumpy, uneven, and weird (yes, I get my skin checked from head to toe by my dermatologist every 6 months).

I have cellulite. I’ve had it since I was about twelve years old. No matter how much I weigh, no matter how much I exercise, no matter how well I eat, the skin on my butt and the backs of my legs is lumpy and dimpled.  I spent a lot of time when I was younger tying sarongs over bathing suits and being sure that no photo ever captured me from behind.

 In all my pale, freckly, cellulite-filled, scarred glory from a bachelorette party this spring!

In all my pale, freckly, cellulite-filled, scarred glory from a bachelorette party this spring!

I have a few scars. There’s a line on my lower abdomen from my emergency appendectomy in December 1995 (in Nairobi, Kenya - it’s quite a story). My bellybutton is a little wonky from an ovarian cyst removal in 2007 (it was 10 cm in diameter and my best friend named it Alvin - good riddance!). I have a long keloid on my inner left arm from the removal of a melanoma in 2016 (it had not spread, I’m lucky). 

There are a plethora of self tanners available, even ones that don’t make a person as pale as I am look orange. I could have larger moles removed if I wanted to. There’s a procedure to fix cellulite. My dermatologist has even offered me a shot to make my scars less prominent. For reasons that are only starting to coalesce to me now, I don’t do any of the above.

To me, my skin is part of my story. Yeah, it might look a little gross in places, but the human body is a little gross. That, and it makes me look interesting. No one else on the planet looks quite like me.

I love to be active and try new things, whether it’s a new workout, travel destination, or clothing style. In the past, caring about my imperfections has hindered that. These days, I put on my sunscreen and wear my workout clothes or bikini, and get on with it. The more time that passes, the fewer f*cks I give about whatever anyone thinks of my pale, moley skin with cellulite and scars. I can’t say I totally love it - at least not yet - but I’m getting there!

LMW

The Well Organized Wedding

As of July 10, I will have been married for eight years. Time really does fly when you’re having fun! Quite a bit has changed in wedding trends since then, but the basics remain the same. In the spirit of wedding season, I wanted to share a few tips that I think will make your entire wedding experience run more smoothly.

1) Cut out unnecessary extras.

The wedding industrial complex is so real. Weddings are high stakes events: you only get one and you want it to be perfect. This makes you extra vulnerable to the marketing of products you don’t need. Companies know this, and they prey on your emotions.

I am here to tell you that there are three things you should not skimp on for your wedding. Get these three on point and yours will be a party everyone remembers for decades to come:

Food. Booze. Music.

And there’s no need to complicate it, all of those things just have to be high quality and plentiful. If you feed people delicious food, provide tasty options for drinkers, and have music that makes people jump out of their chairs to dance, no one will care about anything else.

 Look, no favors! All photos by the incomparable  Timothy Teague .

Look, no favors! All photos by the incomparable Timothy Teague.

We cut unnecessary extras, and we had a gorgeous wedding with zero regrets. For example: favors. Think about the last wedding you went to. Do you remember the favors? Did you keep yours (or if it was edible, did you eat it)? If you skip favors, you’ll save hundreds of dollars and a couple giant trash bags going into a landfill somewhere - not to mention the time and effort of putting them together.

 No monogram, no problem! (Cake by  Robyn Loves Cake , it appears she has moved to Orlando so check her out, Florida brides! The cake was SO good.)

No monogram, no problem! (Cake by Robyn Loves Cake, it appears she has moved to Orlando so check her out, Florida brides! The cake was SO good.)

We never even considered having specialty champagne flutes and cake cutting utensils. Cake cutting takes about five minutes, and the pictures are just as beautiful without an engraved monogram. Plus, if you do drink champagne at home, it’s far more practical to have a full set of glasses on hand that go in the dishwasher so that you can pour bubbly for all your guests and clean up easily after they leave!

 This one's framed in my living room. Dress and veil by  Peter Langner  via  Marina Morrison , suit by  Ralph Lauren , tie by  Thomas Pink .

This one's framed in my living room. Dress and veil by Peter Langner via Marina Morrison, suit by Ralph Lauren, tie by Thomas Pink.

We also didn’t take engagement pictures. My sister snapped a few pics of us so that we had something to put on our website, but that was it. Our rationale was this: we knew we would get beautiful photos from our wedding, and exactly how many photos of yourself displayed in your own home do you really need? I think it’s lovelyto have one or two framed wedding photos, but I much prefer being surrounded by pictures of my family and friends than glamour shots of myself!

2) Hire a day-of coordinator, or, if you can swing it, a full-on wedding planner.

When I got engaged, I strongly suggested (well, more like insisted) that we hire a wedding planner. To say that my parents, who had very generously offered to foot the bill, were not wild about this idea was an understatement. They have thrown many parties before - what could possibly be so hard? Plus, why waste the money?

 It did, in fact, rain on our wedding day! My planner had the staff (enthusiastically assisted by my dad) out there cleaning off the dance floor plus a backup plan in place, and it became a funny story to tell instead of a disaster.

It did, in fact, rain on our wedding day! My planner had the staff (enthusiastically assisted by my dad) out there cleaning off the dance floor plus a backup plan in place, and it became a funny story to tell instead of a disaster.

Fast forward to the day after my wedding, and my parents are the biggest evangelists of wedding planners that you will find. Weddings, even if they are small and simple, have a lot of moving parts, and if you want to truly be present and enjoy your day, you don’t want to be the one dealing with them. 

I talk a lot about organizing being a way to buy yourself quality time with the people you love. On no day is that more true than your wedding day! And this is also a place, much like organizing, where you want to look to your friends and family for referrals, and be aware that you get what you pay for!

3) Someone is gonna get weird. Be prepared.

Again, a wedding is high stakes. Everything from the amount of money spent to the numbers of people involved to the fact that this is (ideally, anyway) a one-time only event conspires to spike everyone’s stress. So it makes sense that someone you’ve always been able to count on to behave a certain way suddenly veers off in a totally unexpected direction.

Classic suspects for this kind of behavior are brides themselves, moms, and wedding party members, but sometimes it’s a special guest star like a groom, dad, or random aunt. You won’t be able to predict who your weirdo is, but once they surface, you’ll realize this is happening to you!

It doesn’t matter who it is, or what they’re doing that’s so inexplicably off kilter - what matters is that you understand that this person’s unusual behavior is probably coming from a good place and will pass once the wedding is over. If you can, be patient, listen, and try to figure out compromises.

Engagement is a joyful time, but there’s also a lot of pressure involved. If you’re getting married soon, I wish you low stress, helpful friends and family, and the wedding of your dreams!

LMW

Shift Your Productivity

When I’m working, I have a lot of tabs open. There’s personal email and calendar, work email and calendar, all my work resources like accounting, blogging, CRM, and social media, and then whatever else I’m clicking around on doing research or finding product links. It gets really overwhelming and cumbersome to manage all that within one browser!

In a stroke of perfect timing, a blogger I follow wrote a post recommending an innovative solution to the multi-tab disaster: Shift. He raved about the ease of use and how it streamlined his workflows.

However, I was hesitant, because the tier of service you really need to run a business costs $99 per year, and as a small business owner I’m trying to make sure that every nickel and dime I spend makes an impact.

Finally, after another day spent clicking back and forth between tabs, I’d had enough. I looked over the options one more time and downloaded Shift, the Advanced version.

 Not my inbox - image courtesy of tryshift.com

Not my inbox - image courtesy of tryshift.com

You guys, I totally love it. I have three Gmail accounts, and Shift makes toggling between the mail, calendar, and drive windows a total breeze. My personal favorite touch is that when you open a document in your Google Drive account, Shift pops it out into another window automatically. So helpful to be able to tile Google Docs and Sheets across a computer screen - it really makes the Google Drive experience feel a lot more like traditional word processing.

 Image courtesy of tryshift.com

Image courtesy of tryshift.com

I’m really glad I chose the Advanced version, too, because I’m using the crap out of those features. Shift accommodates super helpful Chrome extensions including Boomerang (which is actually changing my life, scheduling emails ahead of time is my new favorite thing) and Lastpass (which I’ve raved about before and makes life so much easier). It also tiles some of my favorite services right inside the app, like Xero, my accounting software; Hootsuite, where I manage social media posting when I’m really feeling on top of my life; and even iCloud which makes grabbing all my iPhone photos for blogging a breeze.

Shift is a new product, so there are certainly some downsides that come with the growing pains of any new technology. For starters, it's definitely a Google and Cloud driven software solution. They do offer support for a limited group of other email account types like Outlook, but my lame old Yahoo email address that I use for junk mail is still out in the cold. Actually… maybe that’s not such a bad thing…

The other thing is that there are still plenty of really useful apps that don't work with Shift. I would be over the moon if they could provide seamless integration with blogging software and my CRM program, for example. However, the good news is that they’re adding linked apps and services all the time, so the functionality is only going to get better over time.

Bottom line: Shift is well worth the investment if you live your digital life in the Cloud, appreciate high quality design, and want to level up your productivity.

What other great digital productivity solutions have you found?

LMW

***This post contains referral links, which may earn me cash back or service credit on the linked sites.  All opinions are my own.**

The Joy of Empty Closets

I have empty closet space in my house. 

Does that statement seem strange to you?

If so, let me explain.

For many people, and pretty much all of my clients, there is a direct relationship between the amount of storage in their home and the amount of stuff they have. Specifically, the amount of storage dictates the amount of stuff, and when space runs out, they seek to obtain more storage.

In my personal life, and when working with clients, I flip this around. Forget the storage space you have - whether it’s closets, shelves, a basement, an attic, whatever. Instead, focus first on the stuff. What do you actually need and use? What do you love that brings you real joy? And why would you have anything at all that doesn’t fall into either of those two categories?

Then, only then, do we talk about how and where to store the stuff.

 This is our laundry cabinet - everything we need, nothing we don't, and space if needs change. The cabinets above are empty, too!

This is our laundry cabinet - everything we need, nothing we don't, and space if needs change. The cabinets above are empty, too!

Leaving empty storage space is also about acknowledging that time is an important dimension of organizing. The process of living an organized life is ongoing. You need to maintain your home organization systems every day (it takes just a few minutes if your systems work well) , and adapt them as your needs change.

If there's one thing I know, change is a constant in this life, no matter how much we may fear or resist it. So, given that, why not leave yourself both the physical and mental space to accommodate that change? Future You might take up a new hobby and need a place to stash the equipment. Future You might throw a party and want a coat closet to accommodate guests. Future You may work from home and need a place to set up a work station, and Future You may bring home a baby with all of the gadgets, gizmos, outfits, and diapers parenthood brings.

 This is our entryway coat closet. We love to entertain, so there needs to be space for coats and bags so people can settle in and feel at home!

This is our entryway coat closet. We love to entertain, so there needs to be space for coats and bags so people can settle in and feel at home!

By completely stuffing all of your storage space full, you are creating serious problems for Future You! Under likely time crunch and performance pressure, Future You will have to cobble together a solution for their new venture, rather than having the space and energy to comfortably and easily fit it into their life.

In so many ways, living an organized life is about investing time in the present to free up more time in the future to spend on the activities and relationships that really matter to you. What kinds of amazing future projects could you make room for if you left yourself some empty storage space?

LMW