Ripping the bandage off slowly


What do you do when you have to do something you don’t want to do?

We’ve been taught to rip the bandage off quickly and get it over with. The pain will only last for a moment. Pulling it off slowly is worse.

That’s usually good advice. But not always.

I’ve started a project I’ve been putting off for years. I’m getting rid of books in my home office, closet, garage, and at our storage facility. I hate it. I love my books. But it has to be done.

Thinking about carting off my prized possessions to the library bookstore in one fell swoop has caused me to avoid doing it. But I’ve kept that particular bandage on my finger for too long.

But, rather than doing it all at once (and getting it over with), I’m doing it slowly. In stages.

The first pass was easy. I removed books that are outdated–old software manuals, for example, books related to business ventures I’m no longer involved with, and books I’ve never read and know I’m never going to.

Second pass (which I haven’t started yet) will be to pare down what’s left. This won’t be too difficult because I will know I don’t yet have to make the hard decisions.

The third pass will be tougher. I plan to remind myself that, “If I ever need or want this book, I can buy it again.”

How many books will I keep? That will depend on how much room I have left on my shelves. I’m committed: No more boxes, no more garage, no more storage.

I’ll get it done. I have to. Tripping over books, dusting books I haven’t looked at in years, storing books I used for projects 20 years ago, just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Anyway, I thought I’d pass this along to you in case you’re a book lover and need to make room somewhere (maybe for new books!), or in case you have anything else you need to do but don’t want to.

Instead of waiting for referrals to happen, make them happen


Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want


I’ve been doing some tidying up lately. Going through closets and boxes, getting rid of old papers and the like. I know, I’ve done this before but no matter how much I get rid of, there always seems to be more.

Anyway, since cleaning up is on my mind lately, I noticed an interview with Marie Kondo, author of the mega bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. You have to admire someone who can write an entire book about tidying up and, I’ve learned, built an entire business around it.

In the interview, I learned that the KonMari method, as she calls it, can be applied to any are of life because it’s not just about paring down possessions and organizing what you keep, it’s a philosophy for creating simplicity and flow, leading to a more effective and fulfilling life.

Or something like that.

Anyway, one thing in particular caught my eye. Kondo was asked, “What’s the major error we make when trying to tidy and simplify?”

Kondo said, “The biggest mistake people make is to focus on what to discard instead of what to keep. If you focus on this, you look for flaws. . . and cannot appreciate the things you own. The correct mindset is to keep what you love instead of throwing out what you don’t like.”

That’s precisely what I did in my recent clean-up. I went through several boxes of old papers and got rid of two-thirds of them by setting aside the ones I liked. Notes I can use for current and future projects, some awards and photos, and a few other things that caught my attention.

I threw out decades of clutter by focusing on the few items that meant something to me.

It got me thinking about the digital clutter we all have residing on your hard drives, and the ideas they represent. We all have notes and lists and ideas that occupy space, like the physical clutter in our closets and drawers. I’ve got close to 9,000 notes in Evernote. Which notes should I keep? Which ideas should I start?

The ones that speak to me about things that excite me, of course.


Taking inventory and getting organized


Most people have way more “stuff” in their life than they need or want or even know they have. I was reminded of this over the last few days while setting up my new laptop.

I went through the old hard drive, making a list of programs to install on the new drive, and realized I didn’t recognize half of the program, and others I never used. There were many programs I didn’t install on the new drive. I mean, how many pdf makers and readers does one really need?

I’ve organized documents and folders. Put things in a more logical order. The new machine is lean and uncluttered. I can see what I have and find what I need. It feels good to be on top of things.

So now, I’m looking at other things in my life I can inventory and organize. December is a good month to do that. I’ll start with my projects and someday/maybes, so I can make decisions and set goals based on what’s important rather than what happens to be in front of me.

Why not do the same?

An easy place to begin is with your physical environment–closets, drawers, desks, the tool shed, the trunk of your car. What can you get rid of? As you eliminate things you don’t use, you make room for new and better things.

In the office, you might organize forms, form letters, and templates. Get rid of or update the ones that are obsolete or that you don’t use. Do the same for books, email subscriptions, and blog feeds.

How about taking inventory of your clients? Some are more valuable to you than others. Which ones can you ask to find another attorney? Which clients should you give more attention to?

How about your friends? Are there people in your life who enervate you? Cut down on how often you see them, or resolve to not see them at all. Do you have a friend you don’t see often enough? Now you’ll have more time for them.

Do you belong to too many groups? Support too many causes? Have too many hobbies or take too many classes? By cutting down on some, you can do more with the ones that matter.

Take inventory of the people and things in your life and pare things down to a more manageable number. Organize what’s left so you can access it more quickly. You’ll be better able to see what you have, what you need, and what you want to accomplish in the coming year and beyond.

Taking inventory and getting organized is a process of deciding what’s important so you can focus on it. When I’m not sure whether or not to keep something, I ask myself if it can be replaced. If not, I’ll hang onto it and look at it again some time down the road. If it can be replaced, out it goes. Usually.

If you’re too busy to take inventory of everything right now, take inventory of what needs to be inventoried. Make a list of possible areas of your life you’d like to streamline and organize. Then, tackle one area each month. By next year at this time, you’ll be a lean, mean, organized machine. With lots of room for new stuff.

Learn how I organize my digital life in my Evernote for Lawyers ebook.