Wednesday, February 04, 2009


My friend Sabine was helping a mutual friend overhaul the inside of her house. They'd been hard at it all morning and then met me for lunch (I, who had merely been sitting at a computer.) Their dust-stirring industry was inspiring to hear about.

Sabine had learned a lot of her techniques, she said, from Organizing for the Creative Person: Right-Brain Styles for Conquering Clutter, Mastering Time, and Reaching Your Goals by Dorothy Lehmkuhl and Dolores Cotter Lamping.

My first reaction: what a persuasive title. It begins by flattering the reader: I may be a heap, but I'm an imaginative one. The flattery sticks because there's truth to it, for most anyone who would pick it up. (Aside: another book that did that welcome-to-the-book gesture well was first published in Europe with the title Prisoners of Childhood. It went on to succeed in this country under the title Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self. What a difference a few words can make.)

Anyway, back to my point. I've found some good stuff here:

*you don't have to get rid of a particular objet, just find a place for it
*a pile of papers is a pile of unmade decisions (get BOLD and make those decisions)
*if you're intensely engaged in doing something you value, you're an instant success (this can be helpful for writers who ask themselves: will it sell? will it be good? am I wasting my time?)
*little bits of regular effort add up; regularly set a timer for 15 minutes and spend that long on one troublesome problem

And I haven't even finished reading it; my husband got hold of it, which is just fine with me. If we both did a bit of straightening, there's no telling what treasures we might find. (I found five lost items just yesterday: earring, purple jacket, camel pin, checkbook, and a notebook.) More on camel pin another day.

Happy organizing, you bold and creative person. Do feel free to report results here.

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kenju said...

I am a notorious hoarder of papers, photos, books and random correspondence. When I get on a kick of cleaning out and organizing, it provides blog fodder for weeks, since I post nearly everything before I toss it out! That's a silver lining to the process.

Peggy Payne said...

I hate to think some of the things that might wind up on my blog with that strategy, Kenju. But in fact, I do plan to say more about my camel.

Sabine French said...

Peggy! So glad the book and conversation proved inspiring. I look forward to reading about the results of your archeological dig!

Another example of flattery or positive spin in titles is viewing ADD as "The Edison Trait" -- where ADD stands for "Attention-driven difference" and the resulting divergent way of looking at the world is considered an asset.

Greta said...

I'm a sucker for anything with "organize" somewhere in the title. If the grocery-store-checkout-aisle has a tabloid with an article about how to organize your whatever in 17 minutes, I have to buy it. The title can even insult me...I still want it. Sick? Maybe.

*a pile of papers is a pile of unmade decisions (get BOLD and make those decisions) - This is so true. Right now I have about 5 piles on the treadmill, 3 or 4 in the bedroom floor, and about 6 or so on the desk. I am going to get BOLD and hit 'em. First thing in the morning, that is.

Peggy Payne said...

The Edison Trait is a great example, Sabine. My shrink husband would refer to this flattery or positive spin as re-framing. It really works miracles to see the same much-maligned trait in the context of a larger good thing.

Thanks for getting in on the conversation here.

Peggy Payne said...

Piles on the treadmill, Greta! A perfect description of what so many of us deal with. I hope you have a good morning moment of unpiling.

I feel the same way about the word organize. The catalogues of organizing boxes and gizmos feel like pornography to me. They present titillating images of order that I can only imagine.

amath said...

As a creatively disorderly person, my first reaction was to think "I wish I could be called something fabulous like Sabine! Ah yes.
The problem with being right-brained is that by the time you are 60+ you lose the ability to multitask. This is bad for a disorderly person, but devastating for a teacher who is ADD. My conclusion--thank God I can link my obscure but blessed mode of being to Einstein. (Even though it doesn't help when you have lost the lesson plan) ADD is more fun, more creative, and decidedly more frustrating than other ways of being, Of course I ordered the book!

Peggy Payne said...

Welcome, amath. Does your moniker mean you're a math teacher?

I do sympathize with the thought of trying to teach without multitasking. I find teaching the hardest work I ever do.

I'm newly 60 and still multitasking--as well as I ever did, anyway. But all around me my buddies my age are one after another turning into one-thing-at-a-time people. Which might have some advantages. We'll see. The research certainly shows that it leads to better results.

I'll be interested in hearing any reaction you care to offer to the right-brained organizing book.