One Bag Nation

Archive for March 2008

I’m revisiting David Allen’s (in)famous book as a way to finally tame my out-of-control lists and stacks and piles. With all the online support out there via blogs (43 Folders,Zen Habits, etc.) I thought it might just work this time. But I’m struggling.

I understand the thinking behind organizing your lists in terms of “contexts” (at the phone, at the computer, etc.) but I can’t quite get my life – or how I think about my life – to fit into this model. I keep wanting to write my lists based on roles (Stephen Covey is still in my head) or projects. So for three days or more I’ve been struggling with what list categories to use and what to write on the tabs in my Filofax  . . . meanwhile the piles and post-its continue to grow.

Some of my struggle is due to perfectionism; the lists have to be “just right” – in more ways that I’m willing to admit here.  And it’s at times like these that I feel sure I suffer from ADD; I completely lose focus, my brain shuts down and I begin to panic.

I will, however, GET THIS DONE this week. I will choose 6 words to write on the tabs and give it a try – it’s only paper, and I can tweak it, right??


Surfing the net is the best procrastination tool I’ve ever encountered. It starts with checking email (gotta do that frequently, right??) and before I know it, 30 minutes (minimum) have gone by and I’m on a website called Poodle Planning Party.

I have no idea how I wasted time before (probably reading magazines) but now I know for sure. The internet is perfect for people like me who are hugely curious and have trouble with focusing and staying on task – a deadly combination. I can “click around” for hours and never get bored. Sometimes my time on the internet is productive; I work for an online retail company and it’s important to know who’s doing what out there. I’ve thought that maybe I should find a full-time gig as an internet researcher and get paid to indulge my habit.

Julie Morgenstern, the professional organizer, has written a book entitled Never Check Email in the Morning, so I imagine I’m not alone . . . . and I know that kicking my internet habit is key to becoming more productive.

How do you tear yourself away from the computer???

Last month sometime I enthusiastically dove into clearing out one of our bookcases and filled two large bags with books we no longer want. (This was very hard for me). But I soldiered on and was thrilled to find a used bookstore that would pay cold, hard cash for books they took, and so I eagerly put the bags of books into my car, just ready to be taken to the bookstore.

Today, finally, several weeks later, I drove up to the bookstore, found a parking space, hauled the two bags of books up to the door . . . and they were closed for remodelling!!

I wanted to scream.

The books are now safely back in my car, patiently waiting for the day when they’ll find their new home.

I decided to start this blog because the physical clutter in my home and the mental clutter in my head make me feel anxious, overwhelmed and generally unhappy – and I know I’m not alone.

Organizing “experts” are everywhere these days – there are books, blogs and websites galore – many with wonderful, useful ideas. But I suspect that unless you’ve personally struggled with impossible piles of paper, jumbled closets and cupboards, or a basement that looks like a small landfill, you can’t really understand the pain of the disorganized person.

My “expertise” comes from my own daily struggle to deal with my endless To Do list; the piles of paper on my desk; the stacks of reading material by my bed; the emails in my inbox; my overcrowded kitchen cupboards, my messy car; the junk littering my basement, etc. etc. Sound familiar?

I hope One Bag Nation will be a place where those of us who are often paralyzed by our stuff and our lists can support and inspire one another as we pursue physical order, serenity and peace of mind.

Stay tuned for more posts, some photos of my messy spaces, and – drum roll – photos of spaces I have managed to conquer!