Friday, March 26, 2010
I've read over 100 organizing-related books, so in most cases I don't expect to learn much new when I pick up another one. If I get one new idea, or a few good turns of phrase, or some good stories to illustrate a point, I'm pretty happy. How to Cheat at Organizing, which I learned about from Naomi Seldin of Simpler Living, delivered all of that.
The book is filled with solid organizing advice - but I'll share some of the things that really jumped out at me. For example, while I'm not usually a fan of cutesy acronyms, I did like HIRE: "If a task is Hard, Important, Rarely done, and Elaborate, pay a pro." That doesn't mean you might not also get help for other things, such as house cleaning and yard work - if such help fits your budget and helps you attend to your priorities. It just means that things that fit the HIRE criteria are the most important ones to get help with.
And I also loved UGH: Unwanted Gift Headache.
Here's author Jeff Bredenberg's advice on a number of topics.
1. Owning movies: "Minute by minute, it's getting easier to get quick access to any movie ever made. ... Rest assured that for the rest of your life, Casablanca with be at your fingertips. You don't have to own it, and you don't have to fret about the fact that the format you own it on will be obsolete within a few years."
2. Coupons: "Round up all of your coupons, along with your foot-thick coupon-organizing accordion envelope, and drop it all in the recycling bin. ... I'm all in favor of saving money. But is couponing really worth the effort? Only a small percentage of coupon fans manage to make the system pay off big time, and doing so requires hours of effort each week. If you put those hours instead into working, or into interacting with your family, the rewards would be much greater. ... For most of us, couponing is actually the worst-paying part-time job in the world."
But Bredenberg then goes on to provide advice on how to best clip, organize, and use coupons if you really do want to use them - starting with "make sure you need it." He points out that "coupon users spend an average of 8 percent more in supermarkets than nonusers."
3. All that information piling up in your file cabinet: "Janet Luhrs, author of The Simple Living Guide, loves to travel. ... she and a friend once decided to go on a houseboat vacation together, and made their arrangement over the Internet. Upon her return from the trip, Luhrs discovered to her dismay that she had a complete hard-copy file devoted to houseboat vacations - which she had forgotten about and never consulted. After years of careful filing, she never though to go to her own cabinet for the information.
"Lesson learned: To heck with paper files. That massive electronic filing cabinet called the Internet often provides all the research you need."
There's plenty more; if you read this book, you'll find your own gems.