Promoting Passion Week 66: Balancing Act of Organization

Promoting Passion Week 66: Balancing Act of Organization

I am by far the messiest, disorganized person I know, and that is really saying something. I love making messes. I would rather have chocolate all over my face and hands than not, because come on, chocolate isΒ fun! I make messes around my house and I can’t seem to remember to do the simplest tasks, like washing dishes or folding my clothes. And quite honestly, I don’t really see a problem with that a lot of the time…

Unless you can’t function at your optimal level because of it. Disorganization is something I have challenged head on this year. I redesigned my office so that everything has a place. I organized my email so that I answer them quickly instead of waiting sometimes months in between. I have list apps on my phone and desktop to keep me on task, and I have a nightly and morning routine that keeps me organized as well.

Those have been huge changes for me, and the results have been spectacular. I no longer panic about missing emails or wonder as I fall asleep what I need to accomplish in the morning, and those small changes have been really big for my well being. Just by having my emails caught up on and always having clear goals planned, I have decreased my stress. I have more free time, I worry less, and I enjoy working more.

Here are all of the changes I made. The video also shows my new office, and I included some “extras” (re: ridiculous) clips at the very end. Apologies for the focus issues in this video. I think I need glasses.

1. Wake up early. When I am up early, I feel an odd sense of pride, as though I have already accomplished my first mission. I am taking advantage of my most productive hours, no one else is awake then, and I have time to fall into a routine.

2. Drink water. This is another one of those things that makes me feel motivated and healthy. I drink 3 liters of water a day. I drink one of those liters before I do much else in the morning. It energizes me and allows me to feel accomplished.

3. Stretch & meditate. I do this each morning in the open air and it makes me feel invigorated and alive. My body hurts less throughout the day (the Fibromyalgia can really make my joints hurt) and I feel inspired by the time I sit down to work.

4. ToDoist. This is an app that I have for my desktop that allows me to write out, per category, what I need to get done and then check it off the list when I finish. It also has tons of other features I haven’t even tapped into yet. Absolutely adore this app to pieces.

5. Email organization. I have my email categorized into three main folders: My immediate folder. Anything I put in there needs to be dealt with within 24 hours. My pending folder, where emails that require follow-up go. And my assistant’s folder, where emails that deal mostly with scheduling go. If I hit inbox 0 for my personal immediate inbox everyday, I feel significantly less stressed and I sleep better. I try to do this in the morning before any other tasks so that I am still excited to complete the other things on my to do list.

6. Happiness & resolution documents. I keep two text files on my desktop. One says “Happiness” and the other says “Resolutions”. The happiness document lists all of the things that makes me feel healthy and happy on a regular basis so that I can always check in on it to make sure I am doing what makes me feel good. My resolutions document simply lists all of the things I want to accomplish this year. It is always in sight and I can keep on track that way.

7. Inspirational quotes. The image on my desktop background is always rotating through inspirational quotes that I’ve downloaded in image form. Mostly from Winnie the Pooh and Alice in Wonderland, these quotes remind me all the time of who I want to be and inspire me to reach for more.

8. Hard drives. I keep my work backed up on two hard drives that are almost always at my computer plugged in. One I travel with and the other stays put. Because I have them out in the open, often plugged in, I never have to worry about finding a document because they are all, essentially, already on my computer waiting to be found. I organize my images based on folders of: YEAR — TITLE.

9. Uniform password. For my passwords on my computer and social sites, I have a root word for my password. Take LANTERN, for example. And then I add on a signifying word to that for each website. Let’s say we are signing up for Flickr, you would write LANTERNFLICKR so that you never forget your password and so that they are always different. I have two base passwords – one that my assistant and husband know, and one that is for personal use only.

10. Colornote. On my phone, just as I do with ToDoist on my desktop, I use a to-do list app. This allows me to write out a checklist or text document that I can later transfer to ToDoist if I am traveling.

11. Inspiring workspace. I have never had a space of my own that I have found inspirational, so this year I redecorated. I got new desks, a filing cabinet, and I even decorated my walls. I filled my office with props that I have used in photo shoots and hung my work on my walls (other artists coming soon). Everywhere I look there is a touch of something personal and special, and it makes me feel excited to sit down to work every day.

You can check out the video for what my new office looks like.

How do you keep organized? Any special tips that make you feel extra healthy, productive, or motivated?


25 thoughts on “Promoting Passion Week 66: Balancing Act of Organization

  1. Well how refreshing and fun was that to watch. Always so nice to see what your up to and reminds me that we are all in this together. Whatever ‘this’ is. πŸ™‚ Loved the end bit. Have fun in your space x

  2. I admit I’m also chronically disorganized, and that’s something I could really benefit from working on… my motivation falters when it comes to cleaning, and my “space”, which I HAD cleaned up, is a total mess again.

    I do some things when it comes to what I want to accomplish though! Every week I’m making sure I apply to two publications of some sort, or two contests if it tickles my fancy. I start planning out my next image, check out my work schedule, and weather report to see if I have a viable time to shoot this week (I get to shoot twice this week! – really really excited about it because I’m starting my new series about mastering and working within the limitations of your gear and not using your gear as an excuse.)

    Things I should do is checklists and setting a time aside for creative brainstorming. I’m so forgetful and I even need a checklist for shoots. I wish I could say that I’ve never forgotten a shot for my composite before, but luckily whenever it’s happened I’ve always had a work around.

    And creative brainstorming just makes me happy.

    1. We should start a messy people support group πŸ˜€ We can all hop on Skype together and clean our rooms in good company!

      I am also mega forgetful, so I need a checklist for everything…perhaps even a checklist for my checklists!

  3. love the new office! Looks very uncluttered and an inspirational place to create!
    I too have that scary closet. Hideously framed prints that make me nauseous to think about throwing away so they just chill in there. lol.
    When you said “my assistant”, I think you meant, “the most amazing person in the known universe”. Jus’ sayin’. πŸ™‚
    My office is far too huge a mess right now to show you actual pics of it but I keep a giant, wall sized atlas I got from Ikea a few years back on the wall behind my computer. When I’m feeling down or uninspired I look at it and remember all the places I’ve been and all the places I’m going. (“The lands beyond” is coming up so quick! Ahhh!) On the wall to my left, I am slowly but surely creating my wall of inspiration. It’s become a bit of a custom between my photo friends and I to give each other mini prints on our birthdays of images that we are either in or have a special meaning. Then, behind me on the wall are my wife and my own’s achievements like awards, degrees, etc. In the other areas I have images of friends that are no longer with us. A reminder to make the most of every day and to cherish those we are close with as our time here, unfortunately, is finite. I also have a glass desk with the word love written all over it in different languages.
    All of this is going to change very soon though for reasons I’ll explain the next time I see you;) I am thinking about moving my office to my finished basement and turning a portion of it into a mini studio. Much more space and the sliders will give me a nice view of the backyard.
    So that’s my big rambling description. lol. Bet you are wishing I just posted a pic huh? Miss you. Hope all is well.

    1. I’ll take paragraphs of text over a picture of your office any day. I love reading anything you have to write!! I love that you keep inspiration so close to you. I love imagining your process to find inspiration and act on it. That is what I think is so amazing about you – you are always searching, always growing, always doing.

  4. Hi Brooke Shaden, I’m a big fan of you. I usually watched you on Facebook and I learnt a lot of things about Fine art photography from you. I learn and improve myself everyday but now I have a big problem, I always feel lost something in my pictures, like not enough for each pictures. I don’t know the thing I lost, I always find this thing and I hope in 1 day, I will know the thing I lost or another photographer teach me or give for me best feedback. Thank you and you can check my gallery. Hope you reply my comment. Sorry my English is too bad.

    1. Hi Toan!

      It looks like you are doing fantastic work! You are developing a cohesive style, and your images all tell a story which is really great. I think that if you keep pushing how creative you can be with telling little stories in every image, you will go so far. I think your picture with the tree in the bottle is really exceptional!

  5. I LAUGHED OUT LOUD at “I love dead things” oh my god XD more bloopers please!
    And I love the furniture in your office!

    I’m a mess too. My room is a mess and I don’t have a proper workspace (just a small couch and a table). I usually keep my tablet on my lap when I’m working and it’s been so terrible for my back but I’m hoping to get a desk soon (and also clean my room!)
    You’ve talked about making to do lists before and I’ve already implemented some of that. What I do is that I keep a text file always open on my laptop, and write down a bunch of random things I want to do this month (from finalizing concepts for shoots to reading more non-fiction), then every night, underneath that list I write what I want to do the next day from that list. Sometimes I do it the same morning while I’m at work, so I’d plan out everything I want to accomplish when I get home. That’s been incredibly helpful. When I start to think “I’m kinda bored today”, I go “really amani? reeeeally? just look at all the awesome stuff on your to do list!!” haha
    I can be such a noob when it comes to softwares and apps so I find that a simple text file is just easiest to use, but ToDoist looks pretty simple, I’ll check it out πŸ˜€

  6. I LOVE this topic! It really inspired me :). I am a super organized person, partially because I am the most forgetful person alive :D. The other day I hid something, not wanting my daughter to see it, and then I ended up not finding it myself… So keeping a special place for everything is my best tip to stay organized. And I have to have routines to not feel disoriented, I probably would leave the house without my clothes on if I didn’t have a morning routine before I go to work.

    It is easy to feel trapped in routines also, especially house work. I have to plan time to have fun and relax, otherwise I would be a robot, so that is the down side of it ;).

    My cup of coffee in the morning is the thing that makes me want to jump out of bed really early even on the weekends. I also take a 15 minute walk to work instead of taking the bus, that makes me wake up and feel energized.

  7. Oh my goodness Brooke… This image is epically awesome! Love the quirkiness of it and the colouring is divine!

    Thank you so so much for sharing this with us! I’m busy preparing a space at home that will become my office and studio soon. Here is a snap of the beginning bits of what will be the welcoming area / office space:

    One thing that has me very worried about your set up is your hard drive / backup solution. Leaving your hard drives out in the open poses some concerns… It could get bumped off the desk and damaged, or stolen, or lost/misplaced while traveling, etc. I would suggest a 3rd drive that you back up on a regular basis (say every week) and store that either offsite or in a fireproof safe. Hope that helps πŸ˜‰

    Love & Light

  8. I love this Brooke. I love dead things too… I also have some dead flowers on a shelf.

    I share a workspace… so, I have limited space to have items around. I do have a hand painted magnetic art piece on the file cabinet…

    I’ve been told by many people that I’m very organized. I thank them.

    I love google calendar and the tasks option [with the mobile app called: Tasks Free – It’s highly configurable and syncs with google calendar.] I love that I can create the categories and share the calendar for public or specific people to see. I also use gmail for email. I don’t share my email/folders with anyone. However, I do share my calendar with my husband so he can see what’s happening with me. I’m hyper organized here though… I have multiple calendars. Each calendar represents different things… i.e. business schedule, personal schedule, etc.

    We just recently reorganized this space and moved things around, taking away and adding. It’s not 100% ideal, but, it works.

    Thanks for your insight Brooke.

  9. For organizing, Scanbot has been amazing for quickly scanning documents using my iphone. So fast, very automated and recognizes all the text and converts it to a pdf automatically. I used to have papers all over my work desk. Drove me crazy. Couldn’t find my wacom tablet on most days because it was so thin and covered in papers.

  10. Loved the extra…
    Well! I can say I’m a guy who keeps the properly stowed things, but sometimes…
    I love waking up early! I love open the window and smell the air early in the morning. Waking up early and go running 6 miles, makes me feel better throughout the day.
    Unfortunately, I only drink 2-3 glasses a day, but my doctor is always saying, “Paulo, you have to drink more water!” By chance, I have consultation and analysis of blood in the next month, it is best to drink water! πŸ˜‰ I even like to drink water, but I forget! Upss!
    One more point in common. I love to stretch out and meditate, especially when I’m surrounded by the nature. I feel so alive! Did not know this app ToDoist, but I’m tempted to try. Usually I write a list on paper and as I doing the things, I write, done.
    I also have my gmail organized by folders and identified by colors as well. So, I can be more efficient.
    As you well know, I also give value to certain quotes and curiously in the last days I’m thinking of establishing on my local of work, write a quote per day in our framework to inspire our day. Each day, one of my coworkers, will have to write a quote. Beautiful! πŸ™‚
    Right now I have only one hard drive, but I’m thinking about buying a new one. Or rather, I want to purchase a MAC or upgrade my PC with a good monitor. I do not know yet! Or maybe I know, but I do not have time ($) to go buy now! πŸ˜€ As for my organization of folders, I have folders by year and subfolders by title and date, and the files are something like this paulocarvalho2015@Letusdancetogether.
    LOL! I also tend to use this method for passwords, Brooke!
    Almost a year ago, I moved and decorated my workspace. Is how I like, but still not quite as I want. I’m in need of a bigger table! That is, when I have time to buy the mac 27′. πŸ˜€ Lots of hugs!

  11. Just a quick word of advice: that is a really, really bad password system. There are a multitude of set and forget automated tools for breaking patterns like those and then breaking the password for associated accounts that use the same pattern. The tools get smarter and faster as they break more passwords and will hunt out similarly named accounts on major services and use the patterns against those accounts automatically. All with very little effort on the hacker’s part.

    Since you really seem to rely on the Internet for your work I would highly recommend a password manager such as 1password or LastPass that will create and mange very strong passwords for you automatically. 1password in particular is Mac friendly.

    Love your work and the look into your organization routine was nice!

  12. I absolutely love Evernote! It syncs to your phone, desktop and even has a web version. That way you don’t have top copy notes from your phone to your computer. Check it out.

  13. I, also, tend to slowly develop an area of disorder around my desk area in my living room. I put it there in the l corner so that I could work and still be with my family. I homeschool my 10 year old and I have a bookshelf dedicated to her school supplies – texts and such. I have my treadmill, Flamingo {I name everything, and it is named such because I go like a flame on it – like the flame of a candle, but a flame nonetheless!}, to my immediate right to keep it in mind to actually use it. I, also have a wonderful 27″ iMac, Gertie, that I have no clue as to what I would do without her. My husband is not allowed to touch my area, except to clean the floor… because when he does he just shove things willy-nilly and I then have to start talking to St. Anthony to find everything. About 3 times or so a month, I buckle down and reorganize myself to make sure that I have taken care of everything I put on the side to take care of later. I have MS and my memory is not what it used to be – to say the least. I was relying on my iCal for everything – but I downloaded “Todoist” on my iPhone/iPad and i/Mac and they are all synched! LOVE IT! Oh, I had (as I usually do) to show my hubs your video, he loved it – just as I did – esp. the end! Brooke, you are delightful!

  14. OMGosh, I somehow missed this video.. and just watched it.. and the best part for me was your weeping angel.. laughed my butt off… oh that was simply perfect… thank you for sharing.. yes the rest was informative but … well good on you for facing your fears. HA

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