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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.**

Two Must Reads: Just The Facts, Please

I love to share what I'm reading with you, because my life isn't only about organizing! Today, I just have two pieces I strongly believe will bring you a lot of value. They have in common a strong grounding in objective research, as well as a subject that a lot of us stress out about. I don't know about you, but I find all the conflicting information spinning around the internet to be so overwhelming that it's functionally useless. i also get really frustrated with the fact that if you're just trying to be better at something and following what you think sounds like a good plan, you will still be told that you are doing it wrong in a zillion different ways.

So, without further ado, here are two definitive guides, based on facts and presented reasonably. Get rid of the guilt and get the real info!

Photo courtesy of grubstreet.com (Bobby Doherty)

Photo courtesy of grubstreet.com (Bobby Doherty)

The Last Conversation You'll Need To Have About Eating Right

As a friend of mine said to me the other night, "I know what I should do... I just don't always do it!" This article is even more proof that you don't need to buy fancy ingredients, follow complex instructions, or starve in order to have a healthy diet. It also helps reframe diet goals from "I need to do everything perfectly" to "I want to live a healthy, long life."

Photo courtesy of flickr.com (miltedflower)

Photo courtesy of flickr.com (miltedflower)

14 Sustainable And Ethical Fashion Myths That Need To Die

Less is still more, and quality is still better than quantity, but it turns out there's a lot of nuance that many of us overlook. Read on for seriously good reasons to become a more thoughtful consumer, practical ways to do it, and a nice side of absolution from some of the worst of the wannabe ethical shopper's guilt.

I'd love to check out any other fact and research based articles you might have come across on related topics - please share!

LMW

What I'm Reading

Image courtesy of Getty Images and Victoria Warnken/Bustle

Image courtesy of Getty Images and Victoria Warnken/Bustle

How About We Don't Expect Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle to Get Along

As usually happens when I read a piece by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, I started cheering in my head when I got into this one! More great work here on the outsized expectations we have of women and the strangely specific roles they are forced to play.

Is Wokeness In Fashion Just Another Illusion?

I will not be including a picture of the Instagram post in question here, but if you click through you can see what the uproar is about. Personally, I find it incredible that in our connected world anyone could possibly claim ignorance on so basic an issue as usage of the n-word. If you speak English, spend time in the United States, and do business with Americans, it is your responsibility to behave in culturally appropriate ways - just as it would be if you were occupying space in any other country and culture.

Sex Work Has A Class Problem

I don't have strong feelings on the concept of sex work in general. They call it the world's oldest profession for a reason and I know it will never go away, but the intricacies of how to protect people who might be victimized and still enable people who feel empowered by their choice of work are complex. This is a great take on how some of these issues play out in the actual practice of sex work.

The Strange Brands in Your Instagram Feed

Can I be honest? I haven't for one second thought that any of these brands were worth purchasing, even before I knew the details about how they came to be.  If something is too good to be true, it probably is!

The Hottest New Organizing Trend?

This past fall, I noticed a PR blitz across major media outlets for the hottest new trend in home organizing.  It had all the elements of a runaway hit: a universal struggle, a controversial angle, and foreign (even better, Scandinavian!) origin.  So of course, I pre-ordered the book on Amazon, eager to find out what all the fuss was about!

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My copy of The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter arrived a couple of weeks ago, and I spent a leisurely hour and a half with a mug of coffee enjoying it one morning.  I can’t decide if I want to be Margareta Magnusson or become her new best friend, but I can tell you that I was not expecting to shed a happy/sad tear over an organizing manual and I’m weirdly glad I did!

Margareta is a self-described grandmother and artist “between the ages of eighty and one hundred” and her voice is practical, warm, and deeply authentic.  She’s the wise Swedish grandma you never knew you needed to bake you cheesecake, mend your old clothes, and teach you how to tend a garden.  She’s also surprisingly up to date, waxing philosophical about the pace of change and decrying her contemporaries’ lack of engagement with technology.

Oh, and she’s direct.  My favorite quote?

“Many young families have to schedule their lives down to the smallest increment to have time to d what they consider most important.  Do not ever imagine that anyone will wish - or be able - to schedule time off to take care of what you didn’t bother to take care of yourself.”

There is so much reality, struggle, potential offense, guilt, and love wrapped up in those two sentences. And they distill a concept that is by definition hard for me to communicate to older clients.  After all, I’m 35, I can’t possibly understand what they’re going through!

But at the same time, my clients need to hear Margareta Magnusson’s message: that organizing while you are still alive, both for your own benefit and that of your children, is important and valuable work.  I know from experience, both my own and my clients’, that the burden placed on children by parents who don’t “death clean” is significant and incredibly draining.

So, I’ll be recommending this Swedish grandmother’s wisdom to pretty much everyone! After all, as she says, not one of us will make it out of life alive.

LMW

P.S. If you’ve read a book about organizing and wondered what a professional organizer might think about it, let me know in the comments and I’ll add it to my list!

What I'm Reading

Photo courtesy of lithub.com

Photo courtesy of lithub.com

Anne of Green Gables: Patron Saint of Girls Who Ask Too Many Questions

The depth of my love the Anne of Green Gables and her world knows no bounds. I've read the entire series many times over and wholly identified with her from the start. As a kid, I read pretty much any historical fiction I could get my hands on, and there was lot of prim and proper behavior and bonding with horses and stuff,  but Anne was always real to me. To this day, I use the term "kindred spirits" and look for them everywhere.

Me as a debutante with my grandma in 2000.  We bought the dress in the bridal department of Saks, which was... bizarre.

Me as a debutante with my grandma in 2000.  We bought the dress in the bridal department of Saks, which was... bizarre.

The Curious Plight of the Modern Debutante

So, uh, fun fact: I was a debutante. Twice: in Ventura, where my dad's family has lived since the 1880's, and in LA, where my mom grew up. Even eighteen years ago I found it weird, dated, and irrelevant. I agreed to do both balls because they meant a lot to my mom and grandparents, and because I got to wear a poofy dress with lots of hair and makeup and force a boy I had a crush on to hang out with me for a night. I mean, I was 17!

13 Things You Should Know About HIV, But Probably Don't

As a teenager in the 90's, I was absolutely petrified of AIDS. It was finally publicly acknowledged but it was still basically a death sentence. I remember the AIDS quilt and Ryan White, and Pedro on The Real World, and scary sex ed. I'm glad we've come so far, but AIDS remains a global health threat and we should all be informed about how the disease is currently impacting our world.  Spoiler alert: it's not just for men who have sex with men anymore.

Image courtesy of thecut.com

Image courtesy of thecut.com

The Other Women's March on Washington

It's not enough to march, we need to run and vote, too.  I'm looking forward to participating  in the political process in 2018.  And I happen to love this author, Rebecca Traister - check out her book All The Single Ladies if you haven't already!

How French Girl Style Works

Simple, minimal style can be as visually compelling and fashion-forward as it is timeless.  Think of classic “French girl” style, which gets fawned over every few months by fashion blogs (for the ultimate primer on the current state of French girl obsession in our culture, see Eliza Brook’s piece at Racked: How To Sell A Billion-Dollar Myth Like A French Girl).  You can instantly conjure an image of what this looks like in your head and it’s an image you likely want to see yourself in… imagine, if you will, a pair of straight leg jeans, smart little booties, and a slouchy sweater topped with a classic leather cross body bag.

I have a theory about how “French girl” style evolved... and you’re not going to be shocked that it all comes back to organizing.  I suspect that the ability to create a simple, timeless style à la Parisienne stems, at least in part, from a basic fact: French girls have small closets!

When I say that European apartments have small closets, I mean they are SMALL.  In the very lovely one bedroom apartment my husband and I inhabited for a few months in London, the entire closet space for the two of us consisted of a wardrobe from Ikea that was less than four feet wide.  No one I mentioned this to found it in any way out of the ordinary. 

When your storage space is smaller, you’re forced to make more careful decisions about what you buy.  You’re prevented from purchasing in great quantity or frequency because there just isn’t room for haphazard shopping! And if you have to buy fewer things less often, you necessarily find yourself getting pickier about the things you do buy and how they fit into your personal style.  This situation also means that you can probably afford to spend a bit more on each piece, rather than dividing your budget among a plethora of cheap stuff.

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Above and below: the same cream cashmere Theory sweater (not currently available), a bunch of different ways, from my Instagram!

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Imagine how a tiny closet might change your shopping habits, and in turn, your style.  French girls might have one Saint James striped shirt instead of a pile of them from Zara.  They might wear a single pair of the perfect worn in jeans on repeat instead of rotating through twenty different washes and cuts.  They may have chosen the perfect slouchy cashmere sweater instead of stocking up on trendy acrylic copies.  In a way, French girls are living with enforced capsule collections. 

A cruel irony of fashion is that it’s often easier to refine your style and express it when you have fewer options to choose from.  So, if you want to cultivate your own particular flavor of “French girl” style, consider downsizing your wardrobe to its true essence.  And if you’re considering a wardrobe overhaul, I’m here to help!  Schedule a call with me today and get started on your own dream closet.

LMW

Welcome, Gilt City!

If you, like me, are a subscriber to Gilt City San Francisco, you received a deal from me in your inbox this morning!  Exclusively through Gilt City, I'm offering 40% off your first three hours of organizing, plus as always the initial complimentary consultation. This is truly an amazing deal, one I haven't offered before, and I encourage both my existing and prospective clients to jump on it!

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How can you make these three hours with me work the best for you?  The way I see it, there are two approaches.  First, we can treat this special 3-hour session as the start of your total organizing project.  We'll begin work on the area that's bothering you the most, and at the end of the appointment schedule future sessions in order to get that perfectly organized and functional space you've always wanted.  The second option is to treat the 3-hour session as a tutorial for you on how to continue your organizing project alone.  I'll walk you through the basic steps, and try them out on a small area of your space.  And of course, I'll continue to be available via text/email, and we can always schedule another session if you're feeling stuck!

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I know many people resolved to finally get organized this year, and I also know that a goal without a plan is just a wish.  If your goal is to organize your home so that you can stop feeling overwhelmed and stressed, and start spending your precious time on the activities and relationships that matter most to you, a good plan is to work with a professional organizer.  Don't miss this great opportunity to work towards your goal and save a little money in the process!

Limited quantities of this exclusive Gilt City deal are available (I am, after all, but one woman), so don't wait!  I'm looking forward to working with you.

LMW

 

 

 

How to Spot a Great Professional Organizer

There are approximately nineteen zillion articles published about how to organize your home this time of year.  I try to read as many as I can because I want to know what kind of information my clients have been taking in, what ideas I can use myself, and what silly myths or hacks I’ll have to dispel!

The article I want to talk about here is actually a year old, but I find the content evergreen: How-to: Declutter Your Home in the New Year.  It’s from our friends at goop, which might make you suspicious (I am… strongly ambivalent on the entire concept of the site), but I can tell you that the organizers profiled in it are the real deal and are sharing great tips you can really use.

Photo courtesy of goop.com/The Home Edit

Photo courtesy of goop.com/The Home Edit

How do I know?

1)   They’re thorough.  Some organizers don’t actually want to go through every single piece of everything in the space they’re working on, whether it’s to save time and effort or to avoid stressing out the client.  Those are both worthy aims, but in the end the main goal is to leave the client with a fully organized space that they can maintain on their own.  If the client hasn’t seen absolutely everything they have, this just won’t happen.

2)   They tailor solutions to each individual client.  Everyone loves the idea of a beautifully curated pantry a la Gwyneth Paltrow’s as shown at the end of the article.  But decanting everything you buy into labeled boxes and bins only works if… you’re willing to take the time to decant everything you buy into said boxes and bins!  For some people this is realistic, and for some it’s not.  A good organizer will find out what works for the client and tailor their solutions accordingly, rather than imposing their idea of what an organized space should look like.

3)   They focus on simplicity.  People who struggle with organization need less, not more, of everything: less stuff, fewer places to stash it, fewer types of containers, fewer steps needed to complete a task.  Simple organizing solutions are the ones most likely to last.

4)   They understand the intersection of stuff and habits.  This intersection will be at a different point for each client.  Some clients are so excited about a new organizing scheme that new habit formation easily follows.  Others need the organization tailored to the habits they already have – even if that solution isn’t the most aesthetically elegant.

After working with a great professional organizer, your space will work for you… and it will look beautiful!  See for yourself: schedule a complimentary phone consultation with me today.

LMW

What I'm Reading

Image courtesy of wired.com (Getty Images)

Image courtesy of wired.com (Getty Images)

Why Men Don't Believe the Data on Gender Bias in Science

If you, like me, have ever been frustrated by interacting with a man who prides himself on his pure, logical mind and yet seems to be completely ignorant of the realities of prejudice, this is news you can use.

Photo courtesy of racked.com (Jessica Pons)

Photo courtesy of racked.com (Jessica Pons)

My Super Sweet 15

Growing up in Southern California, I always knew about quinceañeras, but I didn't know they had become this much of an industry.  This is another fascinating look into one of the ways immigrant populations add to the cultural tapestry and diverse economy of the US.

Photo courtesy of vulture.com (Sergi Alexander/Getty Images)

Photo courtesy of vulture.com (Sergi Alexander/Getty Images)

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About "Despacito"

Given that this article is now over two months old I would have thought it would have lost relevance... but based on the pop radio station in San Francisco, "Despacito" is still going strong.  To me the song seemed to come out of nowhere, but this article explains in depth how clueless that perception is.

Photo courtesy of newyorker.com (Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty)

Photo courtesy of newyorker.com (Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty)

What Le Cirque Will Be Remembered For

Almost 20 years go, I ate at Le Cirque in Vegas with my parents, and I remember thinking it had to be the pinnacle of fine dining.  I never knew the real scoop on the NYC original!  And if you didn't already think Ruth Reichl is a badass, you will now.

Declutter Your Digital Life

In my work and here on the blog, I focus primarily on organizing tangible stuff.  However, even though it’s less obvious, it’s just as important to organize your digital life as your physical space.  For insight into the reasons you might want to overhaul your digital storage strategies, I particularly loved Daniel Cooper’s take on the topic: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Your Computer).  The dirty little secret his experience reveals is that while the stuff is different, the issues involved in both digital and physical organizing are pretty much the same!

Photo courtesy of engadget.com

Photo courtesy of engadget.com

As Cooper discovers when he sets out to tidy his own computer, it’s never really about the stuff.  If organizing really boiled down to a simple game of Stuff Tetris, it wouldn’t be so difficult or overwhelming!  Instead, it’s about what the stuff means, why it means that, and how to extract that meaning in a way that’s productive instead of letting it hold you back.

To organize your digital life, just like in the physical world, setting up systems in advance is just as important as doing the work of organizing after the fact.  What do I mean by that?

For one thing, I don’t organize my email in the traditional sense of filing messages once they come in.  There’s a good reason for this: I’ve been using Gmail since 2005 and the search function is so good I’ve literally never found myself unable to find something I needed.  And anything I want to do with my email is so easily automated on the front end that there would be literally no time saved or functionality gained by trying to file my email in folders after reading it.  So, I’ve set up the rules that make my inbox work effectively (for example: send all email addressed to an old address I never use to one folder and mark it as unread), and carry on!

A peek at my actual hard drive/iCloud backup

A peek at my actual hard drive/iCloud backup

Still, when it comes to organizing digital storage, I do have a system. To keep it easy, I utilize a common naming convention when I create files and drop them in the appropriate folder the first time I save them.  It’s a virtually automatic process for me, because my folder architecture has been pretty much the same since I started using my 1996 Powerbook my freshman year in high school!

Lately, there’s one more step I’ve added: cloud backup.  I used to back everything up periodically to an external hard drive, but recently transitioned to a dual backup to both Google Drive and iCloud.  Frankly, iCloud is a bit easier to use because I can just save things to it directly from my MacBook, but Google Drive’s ability to upload whole folders at once and auto-replace any duplicates is pretty sweet too!

If your desktop is covered with icons or your browser is stuffed with bookmarks and it’s stressing you out, consider taking the time to organize your digital life.  And if you need support through the process, contact me - I can help!

LMW