What I'm Organizing

My Shot at "Project Pan"

I’m a quality over quantity kind of girl. Whether we’re talking about clothes/shoes/accessories or kitchen appliances, I’d rather spend a little more time and money on the right thing than go through multiple iterations of the wrong thing.

This extends to makeup and toiletries. For skin care, I trust the expert advice of my dermatologist, but when it comes to bath, body, hair, and makeup products I don’t have that one resource who will tell me exactly what I need and nothing more.

So it was that I started reading beauty product reviews online. And if you spend much time doing that at all, you inevitably start wading into the vast online beauty community, filled with jargon and acronyms and interest subgroups. That’s where I ran across the phenomenon known as “panning.”

The term comes from the fact that when you’ve used a lot of a powder makeup product, you will eventually see the bottom of the container, or pan. When you are doing a "project pan," you’re trying to use up one or more products.  That’s something I can get behind!

Just like with my closet, my goal for makeup is to have a tightly edited, high quality collection that I really enjoy using. On a daily basis, I wear very little: nothing if I’m doing organizing appointments or working from home, a basic five-step face if I’m going to meetings or a daytime event. However, I do have fun with more dramatic colors and styles for parties and dinners out!

Please excuse any yuckiness, NARS packaging is notoriously sticky and difficult to clean!

Please excuse any yuckiness, NARS packaging is notoriously sticky and difficult to clean!

In the course of identifying products that work for me, there are a few things that I used to love, but find that I’m not as excited about anymore. Because I don’t like wasting things, I decided that I would do my very own “project pan” and try harder to use up these items. They are:

  1. Dior Lip Glows in Lilac and Coral. Both skew really bright pink on me, while I would have liked to see more of an actual lilac or coral color.
  2. NARS lip glosses that are now old enough that I can’t read the labels on the bottoms of them! I like the colors, but I these days prefer a sheer lipstick formula to a sticky gloss.
  3. NARS The Multiple in Orgasm - this is a cult favorite makeup product and I used and loved it for so long that this is actually my second tube! These days, I find the glitter to be a bit much.
  4. Lancôme Tient Miracle foundation in Ivoire - the color match and formula are good, but going forward I’ll look for something even lighter weight and more moisturizing for every day.
  5. Lancôme Dual Finish powder foundation in Porcelaine I - again, good color and formula, but I’d like to transition to using a loose translucent powder for a less heavy effect.
FYI, the Dior Lip Glows go pretty fast. Powder foundation... not so much!

FYI, the Dior Lip Glows go pretty fast. Powder foundation... not so much!

The great thing with beauty products is that, unlike clothes, shoes, and accessories, they really can be used up in a reasonable amount of time - and the feeling of accomplishment is awesome! That said, sometimes the value of using something up completely is overtaken by the total drag it is to do so. I’m pretty optimistic about my progress on the lip glows, cheek stick, foundation, and powder - but I’m starting to think that those lip glosses have served me well enough and might have to hit the trash can.

When people think of professional organizers, their thoughts often tend to spaces like closets and home offices. However, I also love to organize bathrooms - there’s nothing more relaxing than getting ready in a pretty, airy space with all the things you need close at hand and nothing you don’t need cluttering everything up. If this sounds good to you, let’s talk!

LMW

What I'm Organizing: Working Remotely

For all its flaws, the startup culture that’s taking over the world is making my life a lot easier.  There’s one simple reason: most places I go, there are cafes and co-working spaces that cater to people like me who can work anywhere with a laptop and an internet connection.

Recently, my husband and I went to London for a week.  We lived there for a few months in 2011 for his job, made great friends, and have made a point to visit at least once a year since.  It’s an easy and relatively low-stress trip for us due both to that familiarity and to the fact that his company has an office there, so he can go into work and as a result have to take fewer vacation days.  

I cannot lie and say that I got a particularly early start each day that we both decided to work, but I can truthfully say that I did get up at an undisclosed time, work out, and then get ready and pack myself off to one of the many work-friendly cafes close to our hotel.

Kale caesar, spiced carrot soup, a slice of crusty bread, and fizzy water: the perfect lunch.

Kale caesar, spiced carrot soup, a slice of crusty bread, and fizzy water: the perfect lunch.

At the risk of becoming a total hipster (or hipster wannabe), I have to say that I found one of the best working environments at The Hoxton.  All day, every day, the lobby of this hotel, restaurant, bar, and coffee shop is packed with tech workers and freelancers on laptops.  The food is great (I had the 2 for £10 soup and salad combo), the servers are completely unbothered by you having your nose stuffed into your screen, there’s plenty of natural light, and comfortable seating and outlets abound.

Photo courtesy of thehoxton.com (I posted up at that gray chair closest to the camera)

Photo courtesy of thehoxton.com (I posted up at that gray chair closest to the camera)

The vibe of a space like The Hoxton works for me because the dull roar of people around me feels like pleasant white noise, and I work better when I have slight guilt about the possibility of someone seeing my screen and judging that it’s not actual work.  The only thing I need in addition to my laptop is my glasses - for some reason, wearing them helps me focus even better even though they don’t improve my actual vision all that much.  You wouldn’t want to set up camp in a place like this if you needed to make phone calls, though!

Where are your favorite places to get a little work done while traveling?

LMW

What I'm Organizing - Don't Leave Home Without It

We just landed this morning from an amazing trip to Asia, and I have never been more pleased about the medication stash we bring on every trip. 

You see, the final 24 hours were something else.  While my mother taught me to never have a drink with ice, eat a salad, or consume a fruit you have not peeled yourself when traveling in places with less reliable water sources than you’re used to, on this trip we were staying developed areas.  So, I did not have my usual guard up. 

No details are necessary, but let’s just say that the meds made the difference between a rather unpleasant day during which I was nonetheless able to travel, and what could have been an abject disaster.

I should mention that I generally don’t take a ton of medication.  The occasional Alleve for pain.  Perhaps some Sudafed on the worst day of a cold.  Cough medicine if it’s bad enough that I’ll keep my husband up at night.  That sort of thing. It’s not a moral philosophy or anything, but I wanted to put our travel stash in context!

So what do we bring?  In general, it's the stuff that will get us through in case of the things that immediately impact our ability to travel: pain and upset stomach.  

  1. NSAIDs
  2. Immodium
  3. Alka-Seltzer for the plane – my husband insists that we both down it before takeoff to ward against pulmonary embolism.  A friend of ours actually had this happen to him, he’s ok now, but yikes.
  4. Advil with codeine – this is available over the counter internationally and I highly recommend you pick some up if you can.  It’s a game changer when it comes to food poisoning – the codeine picks up where the Immodium leaves off, and it also takes away that nonspecific “I’m gonna dieeeee” feeling.

We also bring a couple prescriptions when applicable to the trip:

  1. Cipro for trips where we will be far from proper medical care – this is an all-purpose powerful antibiotic, and it literally saved my life in Africa in 1995.
  2. Ambien for trips more than a couple of time zones away – it helps me get a few solid nights of sleep at the beginning of the trip so I can actually enjoy the destination.

Fortunately for me, there was a happy ending to this particular episode: I woke up yesterday (this?) morning in Hong Kong feeling about 95%, and enjoyed a perfectly normal flight home.  Thank you, modern medicine, for letting me flit somewhat irresponsibly around the globe and come out none the worse for wear at the end of it all!

LMW

What I'm Organizing: How to Pick a Bathtub

I've referred before to the fact that we're currently renovating our house.  And after 8 months of construction, we've started to accelerate towards the finish and I'm finding that I need to keep my eye on more moving parts than I did during earlier phases.

Last week, for example, I picked out a bathtub.  My contractor was getting antsy to have specs (can't blame him), my architect was busy with other things (can't blame him either), and I knew the best way to get this done was to do it myself.  So, I drove on down to Excel Plumbing, sat down with consultant Irene Lee, and found the perfect tub in about 10 minutes.

This one: the  Liberty freestanding bathtub  by Hydro Systems

This one: the Liberty freestanding bathtub by Hydro Systems

That might sound like I'm exaggerating, but I promise you I'm not.  Add on about 5-7 minutes waiting for Irene to finish with her previous customer and another 10 minutes to peruse sinks and toilets (since, you know, I was already there), and I was in an out in under half an hour.  How did I do it?

1) I know what I like.  Note that I don't zero in on exactly what I want, because this can lead to a wild goose chase for something that doesn't exist - there is not actually infinite choice in the home decor space!  But I'm confident in our vision of how we want our home to look, and I trust my gut.

2) I'm willing to stop the search once I find something I really like.  This one is tough in our world, since there are so many options in every category of things to consume.  But I find that I can minimize stress and save everyone time by sticking to the first thing that really catches my attention in a unique way.  There's very little to be gained through an absolutely exhaustive search.

I honestly cannot recommend Excel Plumbing, and Irene in particular, more highly.  She is a total pro: she has encyclopedic knowledge about everything she carries (which is a lot), gives great advice, and tells you about potential problems before they even come up.  They carry a wide range of products, all of them mid to high end - think Grohe faucets, Villeroy & Boch sinks, Toto washlets - and give everyone who walks in the door very competitive pricing.

We still have a couple more months to go - all I'm hoping is to have a finished downstairs by the time the holidays roll around!

LMW

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What I'm Organizing - Staying Connected (or not!) While Traveling

Why hello there!  It’s been rather quiet chez LMW Edits this summer, and I’m quite proud and grateful to say that it’s because I’ve both been busier than ever before with clients and lucky enough to have been able to take a couple of amazing trips.  As a result, I’ve been trying to balance staying connected enough to nurture my business and care for my clients while at the same time remaining present in the moments I get to experience out in the world. 

My first trip made the choice for me: it was to a very remote location with only satellite communications, which did not work at all.  Fortunately, the trip operator had communicated clearly that we should not expect internet access during our stay and had advised those with pressing needs to bring a satellite phone, so I was mentally prepared for this possibility!

I cannot emphasize enough how powerful and important I found the experience of being disconnected to be.  The initial few hours were a little bit rough – I felt weirdly adrift (even though I had books on my Kindle and a needlepoint project to work on) and realized with no small amount of shame how many minutes I usually kill throughout the day.  I also fretted because I couldn’t tell my husband we’d arrived safely, something I always do whenever I travel (to relax, I fell back on the mantra of “no news is good news”)!  But, I didn’t have a choice, and I quickly realized that having the cord cut for me gave me an incredible amount of mental freedom.  All those minutes I would have been mindlessly scrolling through something became minutes of thinking, looking, and experiencing.  I spent a lot more time in my own head than I’m used to, and worked out quite a few things.  I came back refreshed in a much more different way than I feel after, say, a beach vacation – but a way I hope to be able to replicate in the future!

On my second trip, I struck a different balance.  This time we were headed for Europe, so I knew that I’d have all the access I wanted. My business phone has an unlimited plan from T-Mobile, which includes unlimited texting and 2G internet access around the world.  I find this perfect for traveling: it’s enough to be able to stay in contact with your group, use maps, and check email, but man, that 2G speed makes it really difficult to want to peruse social media or the web in general!

The real debate for me is always whether or not to bring my laptop.  I hate doing anything more than quick emails on my phone or ipad, so if I’m going to try to be productive at all I need to bring it.  In the end, I did use it on both trips, mostly while sitting in airport lounges, but I question if I would have felt less pressure if I had just decided ahead of time that anything requiring a laptop just wasn’t going to get done.

I hope you’re enjoying your summer and any travel opportunities you have! 

LMW

What I'm Organizing - Seeing Clearly

Fun fact: I wore glasses my entire childhood.  I was born with a condition called strabismus that basically means your eyes don't work together, which causes problems with 3D vision and coordination.  I had surgeries as a baby to cosmetically correct the problem and doctors recommended thick prism lenses to try to force my eyes to link up.

My, ahem, storied childhood athletic record gives it away: the glasses did not improve my hand-eye coordination.  Flying objects and I have always had a somewhat adversarial relationship.  And since I was only a little bit farsighted otherwise, and sick of wearing glasses, I put them down at age 16 and went without.

That is, until this year.  My primary care physician found out I hadn't had my eyes checked in nearly 20 years (whoops...) and sent me off for an eye exam.  Although I hadn't noticed any vision deterioration, her logic is sound: eyes can often give preliminary warning signs of serious health problems.

My doctor recommended City Optix, and I had a great experience there.  It's one stop shopping: there are two doctors upstairs, each of whom perform comprehensive eye exams, and downstairs is a full shop of eyewear that carries everything from basic to designer options.  I was in, examined, frames ordered, and out in about half an hour.  Plus, they have the machine that does an air puff in each eye instead of having to get the drops that dilate your eyes and force you to wear sunglasses around indoors like a weirdo for the rest of the day - an experience I recall detesting as a kid.

In the end, the doctor recommended that I use glasses when sitting in front of a screen, and for night driving.  I still have only mild farsightedness, and this recommendation is more to reduce eye strain than to correct any serious vision problem.

I figured that if I was going to get glasses, I might as well get cute ones.  After a little bit of trial and error, I settled on a pair of contemporary, yet classic Chloe frames.  I like that they make a style statement but remain simple and streamlined, and the lenses are large enough to balance well on my face (seriously, these are the biggest frames they had, I have a ginormous head).

The good thing is, when you take the time to carefully pick out something you love, you're more likely to use it.  This is most definitely the case with me and my glasses.  They've become part of my work routine: sit down at my desk, put my glasses on, open my notebook and email, and get going.  This association means that I feel ready to work every time I put them on, and so I somehow manage to concentrate better and for longer periods than I used to before I got them.  The brain works in mysterious ways, folks!

LMW

What I'm Organizing - Everyday Sparkle

I'm into fashion, but to be totally honest with you, I’m not very good at accessories.  Conventional wisdom says that accessories complete an outfit, but somehow when I try to incorporate them creatively I feel like I leap over the line into trying-too-hard territory.

I think part of the issue is that my taste in jewelry runs to the small and simple.  Not TOO small, because I am not a particularly delicately proportioned person, but I’ve just never been a fan of gaudier, bulkier styles.  For example, anything with pavé diamonds is my personal kryptonite.

So, instead of trying to keep up with the latest trends in jewelry on a daily basis, I usually wear a tightly edited set of simple, meaningful pieces.  It's only when I have more time to think things through that I bust into my small collection of inherited treasures and costume jewelry.   

I keep my jewelry in an undisclosed location, and it was becoming a serious pain  to pull out my standby pieces at the beginning and end of every day - because, of course, I am an organizer and I hate leaving things just laying around.  I started keeping them out on the bathroom counter, but that made me nervous - one false move and they'd go sliding down the sink drain, never to be heard from again.  I am, it must be said, a clumsy person.

Fortunately, the right answer arrived in the form of a stocking stuffer this past Christmas: a fun little china dish my mom found.  It's just the right size to keep my daily essentials, and looks cute out on my bathroom counter.  After a couple of months of incorporating this jewelry dish into my daily routine, I definitely think it strikes the right balance between a strategy that works and a decorative addition to my space.

Clockwise from top left: pink sapphire and diamond engagement and wedding rings, picked out by my husband; Cartier trinity bracelet, a gift from my husband; diamond solitaire necklace, a gift from my husband; Cartier trinity ring, a gift from my husband; diamond stud earrings, a gift from my parents; Omega Lady Seamaster watch, a gift from my parents

Clockwise from top left: pink sapphire and diamond engagement and wedding rings, picked out by my husband; Cartier trinity bracelet, a gift from my husband; diamond solitaire necklace, a gift from my husband; Cartier trinity ring, a gift from my husband; diamond stud earrings, a gift from my parents; Omega Lady Seamaster watch, a gift from my parents

You can see the theme here: my daily jewelry has been picked for me by the people who love me most, and so these pieces mean even more to me than their aesthetic contribution to an outfit.  When I put them on every morning, I'm reminded that I'm loved and cared for.  Of course, I do love the look of these simple, classic pieces, otherwise I wouldn't be so happy wearing them all the time!

For me, having my skin care, hair care, makeup, and jewelry routines dialed in exactly where I want them means I have more space in my brain to put together the things I have fun with varying, like clothes and shoes.  We all have those things we love doing and the things that stress us out - I recommend making a routine out of the latter so you can fully enjoy the former!

LMW

What I'm Organizing

When I started my Instagram account, I committed to authenticity.  The social media world is saturated with picture perfect influencers, and I don't need to compete with them.  Why? Organizing for real lives isn't about a Pinterest-perfect set of chalk labeled baskets, it's about streamlining daily tasks and storage so that you can spend your time and energy on the things that really matter to you.  

So I prefer to show my real life on social media - while of course maintaining some semblance of personal privacy! To that end, I have not and will not retouch my photos, create events only for Insta, or force other people to take my pictures for me.  No #instagramhusband here!

So, as you'll have seen if you follow me on Instagram, my first few months of activity are filled with pretty terrible selfies.  There's only one full length mirror in my house right now, on the inside door of my husband's closet, so that was the only place I could grab pics.  I quickly got fed up with that and decided to get a cell phone tripod with remote so that I could at least move my selfie game to a more well lighted location!

I decided on the iKlip Grip smart phone stand.  While you can get tripods for half the price, I always go for something of higher quality that will last longer without falling apart.  This one was the only tripod listed on the Apple Store, which I took as a good sign!  It was incredibly easy to set up and works perfectly.  The parts screwed together easily and tightly and the remote was a breeze to pair with my phone via Bluetooth.  I probably went from closed box to taking pictures in about five minutes.

I'm still getting used to posing in front of a camera rather than being able to see myself on screen as I take the picture, and I'm still figuring out where to take pictures for better lighting.  However, it's much easier to just grab the tripod and start clicking than it is to open up my husband's closet and move various things out of the way before attempting selfies!  

Check out my Instagram account and let me know what you think.  I'd love to share the kind of content you want to see, and of course follow you back!

LMW

 

What I'm Organizing

Or, should I say, what I'm failing at organizing!  I'm never too proud to admit when I go wrong, and I definitely did last week.

Our renovation means that our contractor has to periodically turn off water and power to move things around, and he wanted a week without us in the house to accomplish the latest round.  So, my plan was to spend the week at my parents' condo at Tahoe.  I'd have few distractions, so I planned to get some serious work done: set up my CRM system, do a lot of writing for the blog, start to work on some cool partnership ideas, take a new look at my social media presence.  Photo below was from Day 1...

If you happened by the blog last week, you'll get an idea of how much of that happened: pretty much none of it!

During the week, whether I was on the slopes or curled up on the couch, I got into that mode where I was happy with what I was doing, l was terribly guilty about what I WASN'T doing, and i was unable to snap out of it.  I had everything I needed in terms of resources, time, ideas, space, and I just could. not. get. it. together.

Looking back, I think it's because I was adrift from my usual work habits and hadn't set myself up for success.  At home, I've developed a series of rituals that make me feel like I'm in work mode and help me concentrate.  For starters, I work on a large computer monitor with separate keyboard and mouse.  There's something about sitting at a desk with that big monitor that deters me from general internet screwing around.  Of course, I only had my laptop with me at Tahoe, and I do plenty of screwing around on that so... 

I also do things like have a candle on my desk that I only light when I'm working (and usually only when it's cold outside, because apparently flame = heat = warm? WTF self?), only wear my glasses when I am actually butt-in-seat working, and only keep work related items on my desk.  At Tahoe there was no candle, I found myself wearing my glasses around constantly, and the small desk in my room in the condo was cluttered with my purse, various charging devices, and other random stuff I brought with me that wasn't work related.

These seem like really small things that a person should be able to overcome easily.  And maybe you're made of tougher stuff than I am and you can get work done anywhere, no matter what.  But for many (most?) of us, the small habits and rituals we create to nudge ourselves into doing the things we need and want to do are crucially important.  This is why I always say that organizing isn't just about stuff, it's about habits.

About to drop down and get first tracks in Counterweight Gully at Alpine Meadows, I'm closest to the camera (Photo by @xoxjulianne)

On the plus side, I spent great quality time with my parents and enjoyed an AMAZING powder day skiing with some of the coolest hard-charging ladies around.  So, instead of dwelling on the fact that I didn't get much done last week and now feel behind, I'm trying to be thankful for the great experiences I did have and start anew this Monday.

Have a great week!

LMW

 

 

What I'm Organizing

There comes a time (one hopes) in the life of every small business when the number of clients outpaces the capacity of the business owner's brain.  For LMW Edits, that time has come!

I'm really into using integrated cloud-based apps to run my business.  I'm pretty well versed in accounting, marketing, and other foundational business practices thanks to my MBA, but I'm still just one person and anything that streamlines processes is a win in my book.  Plus, part of the way I differentiate my business is by keeping on top of tech trends in the organizing space, so it would be rather incongruous for me to use dated tools myself.

So, when I realized I needed a CRM tool (that would be Customer Relationship Management, a fancy way of saying "how to keep track of clients"), my top priority was to find something that would integrate with Xero, the cloud-based accounting app I've been using since I received my very first payment.  Although I have nothing to compare it to, I've been very happy with Xero: the design is clean, it's super user friendly, and there are tons of resources available including the App Marketplace, which is where I started my CRM search.

At this point, based on reviews and recommendations from other tech-savvy organizers, Insightly is bubbling to the top of the list.  I'm going to do a bit more research, so if you have a CRM solution you love, tell me about it!  I'd be very interested to hear your experience.

LMW