What we have been reading

I feel like I have been unintentionally collecting links to great articles recently. I’ll spot something clutter/organizing/productivity-related in the news, immediately think it would make such a terrific topic for an Unclutterer post, save the link to a text file of post ideas, and then do nothing further. Apparently, I want ALL the links for myself. All of them. Mine.

Since this is ridiculous and there is no good reason for me to be collecting all these links and not sharing them, I thought an ol’ fashion link roundup post was in order. Please enjoy all of these links that have been catching our attention:

  • Why aren’t hoarders bothered by all that junk? Scientists find a clue
    This article from NBC looks at a recent brain study by psychologist David Tolin that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. According to the research, clinically diagnosed hoarders’ brains respond differently to physical stuff than the brains of the general population. As a result, their ability to make decisions is significantly limited.
  • Three habits that drive down productivity
    I’m still trying to decide what I think about this article from the Memphis Business Journal. The article references a study that analyzes the work product and attendance records of employees with very different lifestyles at three large corporations. The article concludes that healthier people are more productive workers and it specifically names smoking, poor diet, and lack of exercise as productivity killers.
  • Plan of Work for a Small Servantless House (3 or 4 in family)
    After the war in Britain, many homes and estates that once had servants found themselves unable to afford any servants in the house. To help women learn how to keep house, someone (the British government?) published this guide for how a woman should spend her time. My friend Julie introduced me to this page from the I Love Charts tumblr, and I think it is a fabulous look back in time. I’m still confused as to how a woman with one or two children only seems to attend to them for an hour and a half each day “if necessary,” but maybe “servantless” doesn’t include nannies?
  • Re:Re:Fw:Re: Workers Spend 650 Hours a Year on Email
    This article from The Atlantic confirms that most people with desk jobs (referred to as an “office stiff” in the text) spend “13 hours a week, or 28 percent of our office time, on email.” A quarter of one’s job is consumed with reading and answering email. The article also reports that time spent on tasks specific to one’s role at the company only consumes 39 percent of one’s time at work.
  • You Probably Have Too Much Stuff
    This short piece from The New York Times looks at the burdens of being “over-prepared.” I like the use of the phrase “over-prepared” in the article because it so aptly reflects the “I might need this one day” mentality.

As you also know, I’ve been doing some writing for the Women and Co. website lately. Most of what I’ve been writing continues to be about home and office organizing, but they’ve been letting me branch out a bit and pick up some other topics. It reminds me of the days I wrote the Sunday news for the local commercial radio station in Lawrence, Kansas, so very, very, very long ago …

Anyway, this is what I wrote in July:

17 Comments for “What we have been reading”

  1. posted by erin @WELLinLA on

    Thanks for sharing & summarizing what you’ve been reading lately!

  2. posted by Susan in FL on

    Erin, I’ve been reading your blog for several years and I had no idea you were writing for the Wonen and Co. website lately. Now I know why with three writers (Erin and the two new contributors) we are reading fewer articles on this blog. I think each of the contributors write one article a week. The rest of the space is fleshed out with the Unitasker, Workspace of the Week and A Year Ago entries. Still love this blog and especially the Forum, but just letting you know I noticed.

  3. posted by WilliamB on

    Re the article “Three habits that drive down productivity”

    Wow is that a bad article. Read the abstract: “The objective of this study is to identify the contribution that selected demographic characteristics, health behaviors, physical health outcomes, and workplace environmental factors have on presenteeism (on-the-job productivity loss attributed to poor health and other personal issues).”

    The article focuses on only one of the factors considered (certain unhealthy behaviors), totally ignores the existence of the other factors, and makes no mention AT ALL of whether the unhealthy behaviors are the cause of the problems or merely correlated with them.

    Thank you for pointing us to the study and the rest of the links, but that article should be banned.

    “The Plan of Work” is hilarous! I wonder if someone who actually kept house was involved? Even taking into account that several generations ago parents spent less time tending their children than they do now, their numbers are impossible. Potty training in 1.5 hrs a day??? Thanks for the laugh.

  4. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Susan — I hope you did notice the new writers since they are so awesome! I’m really loving what they’ve been doing and so glad they have joined our team!! I’m especially glad to have a male voice back on the site and finally have a rock star person of color on staff. Actually, the Women and Co. just replaced the Real Simple stuff, so my writing output for non-Unclutterer websites is the exact same as it has been for five years. We expanded the staff to broaden the brand again (remember, I’m not Unclutterer, just its editor-in-chief), and I’m so happy with how it’s working. In addition to my editing duties, I’m working on two book projects, still carrying a client load for my professional organizing business, and we’re getting ready to launch the audiobook version of Unclutter Your Life in One Week. (There is also a little something brewing in my personal life right now that is truly amazing.) There are so many great things happening with the Unclutterer community right now!

  5. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @William B — As I said in the post, I’m not exactly sure of what I think about that article. I’ve always wondered about productivity and smoking breaks, though. In my personal, completely anecdotal experience, people who take smoking breaks during the day either are highly productive (the breaks give them a chance to process information) or are significantly less productive than the rest of the staff (they give themselves an excuse to goof off for 20 minutes of every hour). This is the first time in a long while I’ve seen a study on the topic hit mainstream media, though, which is why I found it interesting …

  6. posted by WilliamB on

    @Erin – the ~study~ looks fascinating and I’m delighted you pointed us to it. The ~article~ is a poor representation of the study, based on the abstract.

  7. posted by Kai on

    The reason that post-war British mothers only spend 1.5 hours attending to their 1-2 children is not that they had nannies. It’s that children don’t actually need constant attending-to. Remember the classic idea of playing outside until the street lights come on? In earlier times – especially just after a war that mobilized the entire population – children were seen as competent people who didn’t need constant attention past infancy, could mostly attend to themselves, and could help out.
    Think of book from that time period – the original Nancy Drew, the Famous Five, Narnia, etc. The children were out all day, playing with other children, and generally occupying themselves anytime they were not in school (which they walked to and from on their own). Maybe an occasional visit home for some food.
    Sure, average British children weren’t solving mysteries or visiting other realms, but those depictions of childhood were considered normal, and no-one in the time thought “wait a minute, where are the parents?”.

    Mothers in post-war Britain probably did spend an average of 1.5 hours attending to their children. It’s only recently that we developed the idea that children need constant supervision and attention from adults.

  8. posted by Shalin on

    >>”Apparently, I want ALL the links for myself. All of them. Mine.”

    What? No “Bbbhhhwwwwwaaaahahahahaha!!!!!” after that? :-P

    Great post :)

  9. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Kai — My assumption was that older children would be in school, so it would be infants and toddlers needing more than an hour and a half of tending to in an average day. But, maybe one and two year olds roamed the streets back then?? Heck if I know?!! :)

  10. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @WilliamB — Agreed!

  11. posted by Lisa on

    You know what is taking too much time? Talking about how much time is spent on email. How much longer did it take before email when we had to write an paper letter and send it?

  12. Avatar of

    posted by Another Deb on

    How much time is spent making personal calls and contacting their children during the school day? Everyone thinks they must have instant access in order to micromanage the kids’ schedules. It takes a phone call every afternoon for some parents to alert their children that they are 30 feet away in a parked car when school lets out. The kids are walking out of the classroom literally texting their parents that school is out and they are leaving the building.

  13. posted by Kai on

    If they assume a family of 3-4, that would include all people with children. Even if we figure they’re only counting people under the age or 16, after which they might be marrying and moving out, they’d spend a lot more time as a family of 3 with a child 5-15, than as a family of 3 with a child 0-5, which would affect the averages.
    Even in the 0-5 age group, toddlers may not have been roaming the streets, but they were typically playing with something on their own. It’s again only recently that we came up with the idea that infants and toddlers need constant parental attention rather than just food and a check-in to make sure there’s no trouble.

  14. posted by Jacquie on

    “I’m still confused as to how a woman with one or two children only seems to attend to them for an hour and a half each day”

    This is when and where I grew up, so I can answer it. Children in the late 40′s and early 1950 were not deemed to need entertaining all the time, in the same way that seems to be more prevalent now.

    While mother was doing the housework the child would play in play pen or if old enough, help. As soon as I could toddle I would help with making beds, dusting, hold the dog while she vacuumed, have a little bowl with a couple of socks and a lot of bubbles when it was washing day, a potato to peel, some pastry to roll. It is more than enough attention so why does it need to be listed separately?

    I had a little desk in the kitchen and played for hours at that, cutting out, colouring, doing jigsaws etc. In the afternoon Mum did mending or sewing or played with me, just as it says on the chart, and as part of that play I learnt to read before I went to school. Once I was five, she took me to school a couple of times, then I walked by myself, coming home for lunch every day. It’s what we did then.

    What I didn’t have was cupboards full of toys, or a television, or a feeling of boredom all the time.

  15. posted by Henave on

    The chart has the kids going to bed at 7pm! I like to watch old TV shows and one from the 60′s shows the mother w/ a newborn and the bottle (no breastfeeding) was propped on a pillow that had a ribbon tied to hold it in place and baby fed from that. I think mom did have to pick it up to burp it and change the diaper though! Kids in a lot of books do things like go away to boarding school or have the older kids watching the younger kids as an effort to get rid of the grown-ups when they don’t fit into the story.. or they’re orphans w/ guardians who neglect them:)

  16. posted by Kai on

    Sure, some things are story devices. But people reading at the time didn’t find them overly contrived. Even the boarding school kids often have books at summer holidays, and people who were young reading them then found the idea of a group of kids of mixed ages (older ones look out for the little ones) to be congruent with what they knew to be normal. It was entirely expected that kids could and would have all kinds of adventures (or at least play) on their own.

  17. posted by Julia Q. on

    I saw this recently and liked it a lot: http://www.bbc.com/future/stor.....to-hoard/1

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