Reader question: Emptying storage unit from across the country

Reader Lenore recently sent us the following question:

We had to leave our home in Nebraska to go to New York to deal with a family medical situation. After a few months in New York, I went back to Nebraska to pack and store our furniture, belongings, clothes, etc. It has now been nearly three years and I’m still paying for storage in Nebraska, and renting furniture in New York. I wasn’t sure we were going to stay in New York once the medical situation was sorted out, but I have a job here and the kids are in school and doing well. I don’t want to uproot the family again. I need to know the most economical way to sell the majority of our furniture and transport our sentimental things, some clothes, etc. to New York. I do not have the finances to let this insanity go on for much longer.

Since I am only able to take four days away from work so I would have to do it all in one trip, I can’t imagine how I would unload the locker, show and sell the furniture, and drive it back here myself. I hope you can provide me with some information and/or companies that you believe could guide me.

First of all, let me say that I’m glad your family was able to pull through the medical situation and is happily settled in New York. I can imagine it was a stressful situation for you.

Unfortunately, Unclutterer is unable to recommend specific companies but we can provide you with some advice that we hope will help.

We recommend that you contact a NAPO member in Nebraska. Select a professional organizer with experience in relocations. Some who are experienced in Seniors’ move management may be willing to take you on as a client even if you are not a senior so please consider contacting those organizers as well.

Most professional organizers would be able to communicate with you via email during the process so, if you were not able to return to Nebraska, you wouldn’t necessarily have to. They are also trained in separating sentimental and high value items from those that you wish to sell. Many professional organizers have networks that include local auctioneers that can help you liquidate the items you do not want to transport to New York. They are quite capable of organizing an estate/garage sale if they feel that would work better in your situation and they have connections with charities who could accept items that are not sold.

If you decide to return to Nebraska to clear the storage area yourself, you could contact moving companies to see if they would be willing to take a partial load from Nebraska to New York. (Our family did this twice, shipping only an heirloom piano across the country and back.) Moving companies would much rather put two or three clients on one truck and transport a full load. The only downside is that you may have to move your items when the moving company is available rather than when you want to. Once you have shipped out the items that you want to keep, you could simply walk hire an auctioneer to liquidate the rest of the contents of your storage locker.

You may wish to combine these two options, hiring a professional organizer to start clearing the storage area before you arrive and work with you when you are there so it goes faster. Then you could drive the load yourself from Nebraska to New York. Alternatively, the professional organizer may be able to meet a moving company at your storage unit so you do not have to wait around in Nebraska.

We suggest that you call several businesses and discuss your situation and get quotes. Prices (and personalities) can vary widely and it is important that you work with someone who you get along with and who understands your situation — both emotionally and financially.

All the best of luck to you and we thank you so much Lenore for sharing your situation with us. We hope that this post gives you the information you’re looking for.

Do you have a question relating to organizing, home and office projects, productivity, or any problems you think the Unclutterer team could help you solve? To submit your questions to Ask Unclutterer, go to our contact page and type your question in the content field. Please list the subject as “Ask Unclutterer.”

Four ideas for creating New Year’s resolutions

Are you considering some resolutions related to uncluttering and organizing? I always find it interesting to see how other people have approached this, because other people’s ideas can inspire some of my own. I’m hoping some of the things I’ve seen recently might inspire you, too.

Ask others for their ideas

A recent Mutts comic strip had one character who made a list of resolutions — for another character, not for himself. While that’s obviously not what I would recommend, it made me think that sometimes other people who know us well may have helpful insights and suggestions.

Consider resolutions to minimize your shopping

In The New York Times, Ann Patchett wrote about her 2017 “year of no shopping.” She did indeed shop for groceries and such — and as an author and a bookstore owner, she also bought books. But she didn’t buy things such as clothes and electronics, and only bought things like shampoo if she had used up everything she had on hand. She obviously comes from a life of abundance, but perhaps her experiences could still inspire others. The whole article is worth reading, but the following are a few excerpts:

My first few months of no shopping were full of gleeful discoveries. I ran out of lip balm early on and before making a decision about whether lip balm constituted a need, I looked in my desk drawers and coat pockets. I found five lip balms. …

The trick of no shopping isn’t just that you don’t buy things. You don’t shop. That means no trawling the sale section of the J. Crew website in idle moments. It means the catalogs go into the recycle bin unopened on the theory that if I don’t see it, I don’t want it.

Not shopping saves an astonishing amount of time. In October, I interviewed Tom Hanks about his collection of short stories in front of 1,700 people in a Washington theater. Previously, I would have believed that such an occasion demanded a new dress and lost two days of my life looking for one. In fact, Tom Hanks had never seen any of my dresses, nor had the people in the audience. I went to my closet, picked out something weather appropriate and stuck it in my suitcase. Done.

Patchett has decided to continue her no-shopping approach for now, even though the year is ending. That sure sounds like a resolution that worked well for her.

Look for things to stop doing

Oliver Burkeman, writing in The Guardian, had a list of three suggested resolutions for the new year. I’m not usually a fan of such lists, but this was one I liked. The following was his second resolution:

Select something to stop doing this year. … I mean something worthwhile, but that, if you’re honest, you don’t have time for. In our hyperbusy era, there’s an infinite number of potential things to do: emails to read, groups to join, ways to become a better person, parent, employee. Yet still we proceed as if “getting everything done” might be feasible. It isn’t. … Quit your book group; stop struggling to make dates with that hard-to-pin-down friend; accept you’ll never be a good cook. Not because those things are bad; because it’s the only way to do other things well.

I also liked his third idea: “Resolve to cut everyone a massive amount of slack, including yourself.”

Note: One of my own 2018 resolutions is to get back to reading more books, and I’m definitely not quitting my book group. But if I’m going to read more books, that means I need to figure out other things to stop doing.

Keep doing what works

Louise Hornor had a line in her quilting blog that resonated with me: “I resolve to keep on doin’ what I’m doin’.” If you have found ways of managing your stuff, your papers, and your time that work well for you, there’s no need to change.

Gift card clutter

Gift CardWith the holidays behind us and the popularity of gift cards increasing every year, make sure you don’t let them go unspent. According to MarketWatch, about $1 billion worth of gift cards’ value will go unspent. Here are some tips so you don’t let your gift cards go to waste.

Keep them all together. If you have gift cards all over the place you’ll end up losing track of them. Keep them in one spot and look through them before you head out shopping.

Re-gift them. If you know someone who would be more likely to use the gift card you received, consider re-gifting it. Just take care you don’t end up giving it back to the person who gave it to you.

eBay them. If you received a gift card to a retailer that you don’t particularly like, eBay is a good way to get rid of the card. Rather than being stuck with a card that you will never use, get some value out of it. (The value is usually around 80%)

Don’t buy just because you can. If you have a gift card, don’t make that an excuse to purchase something. If you don’t like that particular store, don’t feel compelled to purchase their merchandise. Don’t clutter your home with gift-card guilt purchases.

 

This post has been updated since its original publication in 2007.

Book review: Soulful Simplicity

Soulful Simplicity isn’t a book entirely about uncluttering and minimalism. It is a book about the author’s journey to her ideal life (of which uncluttering and minimalism play a large part).

A number of years ago, Courtney Carver was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). She recognized that her lifestyle was exacerbating her symptoms. She needed to reduce high stress levels caused by clutter, debt, overwork, and trying to meet the needs of everyone in the family.

During the first few chapters, Carver she describes her life after her MS diagnosis. She felt that MS was her wake-up call then she goes on to say, “…but had I been really paying attention I would’ve woken up sooner.” Carver explains that the way she was living was difficult but at least it was familiar. Isn’t that the case with so many of us? We cling to our old habits because they are comfortable and we resist change because it makes us feel uneasy.

By following Carver’s journey in Soulful Simplicity readers can learn how to create their own ideal lives. Carver came up with the “Simplicity Summit” — a type of family meeting to discuss, in a supportive environment, why you are simplifying your lives in the first place. Her book provides a guideline on how to hold your own Simplicity Summit. There are lists of questions to ask each other and suggested action steps to achieve your goals.

One idea I liked was Carver’s suggestion to change your lifestyle slowly by using habit stacking — establishing one habit at a time then adding a new one so that each habit triggers and supports the others. For example, if you want to increase your daily water intake, drink a glass of water before every meal. You are already consuming a meal so that habit is already established, adding another habit onto it, will help create a pattern that will stick.

Soulful Simplicity has a chapter on “The Upsides of a Downsize” where Carver discusses her reasons for uncluttering. She hits the nail on the head when she talks about organizing supplies and storage space stating, “When you need to buy things [i.e. storage bins] for your things, it’s time for fewer things.”

Carver doesn’t really delve into the organizing process itself (for example, where to donate shoes or what is the best spot for the coffee maker), but she does discuss a lot of causes and reasons for clutter accumulation. From debunking the myths of ownership to shopping away the pain to dealing with the guilt of letting go, she helps readers wade through the emotional turmoil and come out on the other side with a better idea of the life they want going forwards.

If your New Year’s resolution is to move towards a lifestyle with less stress and less stuff but more joy and more soul, I highly recommend Soulful Simplicity.

What to do with those old toys

Five years ago I wrote an article on what to do with old toys. Now that the holiday season is here, I’ve decided to revisit it. For many, the holidays means the acquisition of new stuff, and that can lead to clutter, especially if you have young children. Here’s another look at what to do with old toys, with a few updates for this year.

Donate

Donating is a fantastic option (for clothes, too).

  1. Charities are always looking for new and gently used toys. Many deliver toys directly to those who are in need while others may sell them in a thrift store. In either case, your donation can make a child’s day. Just make sure toys are undamaged and in good working order before going this route.
  2. Doctor’s offices. Many pediatricians have a “prize box” to reward their younger patients for getting through an unpleasant appointment. Books are often welcome as well, so give them a call to see if they accept donations.
  3. Daycare centers. Good luck finding a daycare that doesn’t want donations!
  4. Military families. Operation Homefront knows that military families are move frequently, and not every toy can necessarily make the trip. This great organization can help welcome the children of military families to a new city with toys just for them.
  5. Local fire department. Firefighters and EMTs often keep stuffed animals around to give to children they must transport to the hospital. Call the department in your area to see if they have such a program.

Repurpose Old Toys

As I said last time, “repurposing is where it gets fun.” Repurposing lets you get creative and even offers a way for kids to hang onto a toy (or part of it at least) they’ve grown attached to. Here are a few fun options.

  1. Animal head toy coat rack. I’ve pointed this out before and I still think it’s absolutely adorable. A very clever and useful project from Make: Craft uses the heads of discarded plastic animals to make a good-looking coat rack.
  2. Make something functional, like this Playmobil clock. It’s cute, useful and a great way to keep these adorable, vintage toys around without generating a mess.
  3. Unwanted LEGO bricks can be turned into just about anything, like this clever charging station. When they cease to be appealing toys, consider them building material.
  4. Brighten up the fridge with these great-looking puzzle piece magnets
  5. Create some art for the playroom or kids’ bedrooms.

Honor the Memory

We often fail to part with things not because of the item itself, but with the memory or emotion it represents. This is especially true as kids grow up.

My wife and I have two shadowboxes in our home: each with two or three items from when the kids were newborns. They are decorative, provide a nice memory for us and most importantly, do not waste space. Kids’ toys can be made into memory display boxes too.

Sell

You won’t be able to sell all of your old toys, of course. But some vintage toys and collectibles can attract buyers. Before you list your treasures online, you will need to take some photos. A good photo can make or break a sale. Here is a fantastic tutorial on how to photograph your items for auction sites like ebay.

There’s a lot that can be done with old toys. If you can, have your kids take part in the process you choose. They will feel a part of the decision and enjoy seeing the toy’s new role.

What to do with holiday cards? Recycle!

Two of our readers provided creative suggestions for how to recycle holiday cards in the comments section of our Holiday gifts: Out with the old in with the new post. Not wanting to have them lost in the shuffle, I wanted to pull them out to everyone’s attention.

From Jan:

I recycle my Christmas cards. They arrive in the mail, I read them, I cut the writing off the back, I turn them into a Christmas post card with a friend’s address, stamp and short message and repost immediately.

From Kate:

Once the holidays are over, I “massacre” [cards] into gift tags for next year using a pair of pinking shears.

For even more great ideas, check out the comments below and our other post on uncluttering holiday greeting cards.

 

This post has been updated since its original publication in 2007.

Avoiding one-size-fits-all uncluttering rules

Apartment Therapy recently ran an article by Shifrah Combiths entitled 9 Things No One Needs Anymore and Should Declutter. The list includes DVDs, DVD cases, CDs, file cabinets, a stockpile of pantry and household items, wall calendars, physical inspiration (mood boards, etc.), paper lists, and take-out menus. The recommended alternatives were almost all digitally focused: streaming services for movies, Amazon’s Subscribe and Save service, scanned papers, etc.

The good part about this list is it can challenge you to think about whether the physical items you have are indeed the best answer for you. Maybe you really do want to eliminate one or more of these things from your space and use other options.

But I can think of many situations where eliminating these items isn’t the best choice. Combiths acknowledges some of these, noting that people may want DVDs for road trips and CDs for playing in the car. Some people’s minds work better with wall calendars, and they also help some families.

But the following are some other reasons people may want to hold onto the items that “no one needs any more:”

  • They aren’t comfortable using digital options. My father, who is in his 90s, is not going to scan his papers and keep them in the cloud, as Combiths suggested.
  • They live somewhere with slow internet connectivity. Streaming movies just isn’t a good option for everyone.
  • They have budget constraints. Streaming services cost money. Keeping some DVDs and CDs (especially ones that children play repeatedly) and borrowing others from the library may be better options for some people. A good scanner costs money that people may not have, too.
  • They just work better with paper, at least in certain circumstances. Some people really like their paper lists, even if they acknowledge the benefits of digital ones. You’ll still find a wide variety of paper lists for sale: to-do lists, shopping lists, and more — as well as paper planners that include both calendars and lists. And not everyone is going to find that a Pinterest board works as well for them as a physical vision board.
  • They have a real need to stockpile at least some items. I stockpile a lot of water, some food items, cat litter, and more because I want to be prepared in case of an earthquake.
  • They are movie fans who like all the supplementary material that comes with DVDs and usually isn’t available from a service like Netflix. They may also like more obscure titles that aren’t readily available through streaming services.
  • They have disabilities that make digital options less attractive. For example, not all websites work well with screen readers. And Hulu was recently sued because it didn’t provide the audio description tracks that are available for many movies and TV shows, describing what’s going on for those who cannot see it.

So yes — you may well find that you don’t need all or most of the items in the Apartment Therapy list. But it’s perfectly okay if you do if you do need or want some of them. Lists like this are useful if they get you to reconsider what you’re saving, but you’re the ultimate authority on what works for your particular situation.

Book review: Let It Go

It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh is one of my favorite organizing books, so I was eager to read Walsh’s newest book. I found that Let It Go: Downsizing Your Way to a Richer, Happier Life started out slow, but by the time I finished it I was glad I read this one.

Walsh deals with two types of downsizing scenarios. The first is if you are downsizing for yourself, and the second is if you need to downsize for a parent. He deals with both the purely practical aspects and the emotional aspects, including the family drama that can arise when dealing with a parent’s stuff.

Walsh identified three categories of things a downsizer owns: Memory items, I-Might-Need-It items, and trash/recycling. I really appreciated how Walsh has you identify the treasures among the various types of Memory items, since these treasures (vs. trinkets and such) are the items worth taking to a new home. Walsh wrote that each treasure “should commemorate a specific memory, event, or person.” He suggested coming up with a list of “bests, greatests, and mosts” from your life and then looking for one treasure related to each item on that list.

While I don’t currently need to downsize, I found it interesting to compare the treasures I identified using Walsh’s process with the short list of items I had identified as things I’d try to save if I ever needed to evacuate from my home. Sure enough, the art pieces I had chosen all fit — they are tied to memories of my mom, a dear friend, a wonderful trip, etc. I have other art I certainly enjoy, but I could leave it behind if I needed to downsize.

And looking at Walsh’s “treasure map” of possible “bests, greatests, and mosts” I saw “my greatest career achievement.” This inspired me to add two things to my evacuation list: a teddy bear I was given from a fantastic project team from my corporate days, and a coffee mug given to me by one of my many amazing organizing clients.

While this was my single biggest insight from the book, I found scattered gems throughout. For example, I appreciated this warning:

Gender-based shortcuts can save time, and they may work for your family. But they also present a well-worn rut that can lead your family away from the best solutions. …

During your downsizing process, avoid assuming that women will wrap the china and men will load the truck. In your family’s case, maybe the best recipient for camouflage clothes is a sister, and the best caretaker of a decorative glass bowl will be a 12-year-old grandson.

I also appreciated how much emphasis Walsh placed on not feeling guilty if you don’t want a loved one’s possessions — and how he encouraged parents to not push things onto their children that the children don’t want. His advice to parents:

If your kids don’t want your treasures, don’t try to guilt them into taking them. These things are important to you. They mark your happy memories, your identity, and your accomplishments. These may not be a meaningful way that your children would choose to remember you. Furthermore, your kids don’t have to have a reason for not wanting your things. They get to choose which items they want in their homes, just like you do.

Wallets and loyalty cards

Like many people, I use loyalty cards to get deals on products and/or accumulate points to get free products. However, I was running out of space in my wallet (which is similar to this one) to store all of the cards. I worried that I would have to get a new wallet so I asked fellow Unclutterers Jeri and Alex what types of wallets they used and what they carried with them.

Jeri’s answer

I bought my wallet 20 years ago on a trip to Italy — such a useful souvenir — and it’s still going strong. The only thing I regret is that it’s black, making it harder to see inside my purse. It’s a basic bifold design with two slots for bills (one of which is deeper, so it holds bills from various countries just fine), four credit card slots, and a coin purse. There are pockets behind the credit card slots and the coin purse where I can store my insurance cards and my driver’s license. This fits my needs perfectly. I use Apple Pay wherever I can, but I still need to carry two credit cards (business and personal) and a bank card.

If I had to buy another wallet I would go for the same brand, because of the amazing quality: The Nappa Vitello collection by Bosca. I don’t see one exactly like mine — most of them lack a coin purse — but I might go for the one with a zippered coin purse. Or maybe I’d get a basic bifold and adjust to using a separate coin case. And I’d stay reconciled to black, because this specific collection only comes in black.

Alex’s answer

Because I always carry my wallet in the front pocket of my trousers, I never carry much in it, keeping it down to seven different cards (driver’s license, ID, two bank cards, health card, transit card, and a store loyalty card). I also carry money (but not much as I know pay almost everything with my bank card or my smart phone), receipts for things that may need to get returned or that offer a discount on the next purchase, a picture of my husband, and my mother’s library card (in the last few months of her life, I would go to the library for her and it’s a way to keep her memory close to me).

To store all this, I need something lightweight, slim, flexible, yet sturdy. A few years ago, I came across the perfect solution by accident and now I swear by it, only ever buying myself the same brand when the old one wears out. The brand is Mighty Wallet. They are made from Tyvek and apart from being practical, tear-resistant, water-resistant, and expandable, they are fun! I’ve had ones that look like they have been made from Star Trek comic books, a page torn out of a notebook, a NYC subway map, or an American one dollar bill. And there are many other designs to choose from too.

If you don’t like to carry much in your wallet and want something a little distinctive, I would highly recommend trying out a Mighty Wallet.

Jacki’s conclusion

I appreciated the input from Alex and Jeri. It made me realize that I was carrying too much stuff in my wallet — specifically loyalty cards. My iPhone fits into my wallet thus I have it with me when I shop so I started using the Stocard app for my loyalty cards and kept the cards themselves at home. However, if I need a wallet in the future, I’ll certainly take Alex’s and Jeri’s suggestions to heart.

Reader question: Helping mom unclutter

Reader Misty sent us this question:

I want to help my mom do some uncluttering. The entire house is in need of some help. My sister passed away three years ago — she was a collector and many collections there are! Do you have any ideas on how to deal with packed closets and chests of drawers, etc.? In order to clean, one must have a place to put things away. The answer might be simple, except that mom isn’t ready to do a major cleansing of clothing, shoes, etc. Do you have any ideas on beginning with baby steps? Mom has lost great deal of her vision and has had three strokes. I’m the one to help her clear out and make safe where she is walking.

First of all Misty, thank you for being willing to help your mom with such a project. It’s obvious that you are concerned about her safety and well-being and it is important to emphasize this when you start your project. It will be a challenge for both of you but working together to make your mother comfortable can bring you closer.

We’ve written before about strategies to use when helping someone else unclutter and this advice may be useful to you as you proceed. Remember that forced clean-outs are rarely successful and can create a lot of resentment between family members.

Her health issues indicate that she may not be as mobile and active as she used to be. She may feel that removing items from her home amplifies her belief that her world, and her ability to influence it, is shrinking. She may struggle against this loss of power by refusing to let things go. Remind her that you are not uncluttering to “get rid of her stuff,” you are uncluttering to keep her safe and independent for as long as possible.

Consider doing many mini-projects. Even just one drawer, cupboard, or surface per day may be enough. Choose a time of day that works best for your mom, when she has the most mental and physical energy — maybe first thing in the morning or perhaps just after lunch. Keep your sessions short and always end the project on a positive note sharing your successes over a cup of tea or some fancy chocolates.

Keepsakes will be important to your mother. While many of us may select certain aesthetic features when keeping and displaying memorabilia, these may not be practical for those who are visually impaired. Objects with bright and/or contrasting colours and those that have a unique, distinctive structure that can be felt rather than seen, may be a better choice. Consider keeping one or two items from your collections that meet these criteria and let the rest go.

When it comes to clothing, help your mother decide on easy-wear/easy-care pieces. Build a colour coordinating wardrobe that will make it easy for her to be independent.

All the best of luck to you Misty as you work together on this project. For more helpful tips on whole house organizing, check out our Organizing Jumpstart.

 

Do you have a question relating to organizing, home and office projects, productivity, or any problems you think the Unclutterer team could help you solve? To submit your questions to Ask Unclutterer, go to our contact page and type your question in the content field. Please list the subject as “Ask Unclutterer.”

A simple trick for uncluttering email subscriptions

When I was young my parents often decried the junk mail that arrived at our house — catalogs, flyers, local take-out menus, etc. It was a constant influx of clutter that went from the postman’s hands, to the mailbox, to our kitchen, to the trash.

Today, digital junk mail is just as annoying. What is worse is that we invite a lot of it to our inboxes via subscriptions and newsletters. At one point, you clicked “subscribe” and began to receive periodical updates from a given provider. I’ve done it too and I’m often glad I did. But situations change, and those subscriptions become less appealing. They build up and soon the influx of email clutter is out of control.

A couple of years ago I shared suggestions for eliminating unwanted email subscriptions, and I encourage you to check it out. Today I want to share a trick that is so darn easy and effective, I just had to share it with you all. It goes like this.

  1. Open your email software.
  2. Search for the word “Unsubscribe.”

There is no step three. The result is all of the messages that include the word “unsubscribe,” the vast majority of which will let you do just that by clicking the term. Now you needn’t scroll to find them or what for a few weeks as they roll in one by one. Just search, click and they are gone. So easy.

Of course, you can get as involved with this process as you like, which I’ve described here. But this simple trick will save you a lot of time and help get the job done.

Learning from failure: a Bullet Journal experiment update

After starting my Bullet Journal experiment, I wrote down my worries concerning maintaining the experiment. One worry was boredom, one was letting things slide because success would lead to overconfidence, and the third concern was getting distracted. Specifically I said:

Good habits aren’t easy to form, but so simple to break. Think about a gym-commitment. How many times do you start some exercise program only to stop because for two days in a row, you are too busy to go to the gym? This happens to me all the time at work. My best intentions get trashed because I arrive and have to solve any number of mini (or not so mini) crises.

I promised myself that I would spend at least five minutes a day updating my various Bullet Journals, but in November, things fell apart. I managed to keep up some semblance of lists until mid-November, but after the 20th, I added one entry on the 30th and nothing since then. In my home-related journal, the abandonment happened well before that. And other than medical appointments, I haven’t added anything to my agenda in a long time.

Since things aren’t working, I need to step back and examine what went wrong and I need to go back to my root reasons for creating the Bullet Journal in the first place. Those are simple:

  • to create a record of everything I do at work so that I can plan better each year (as almost everything is repeated annually),
  • to make sure I don’t forget any task or activity due to being busy or distracted, and
  • to learn to blend work-Alex with home-Alex to create better balance.

Okay, so if those are the three objectives, what went wrong?

I got distracted by technology. Remember how I moved from iPad Pro? It allowed me to create an infinite number of journals. Bad idea! I’m a minimalist and need everything in one place.

Each day more than half of my workday was taken up with covering the tasks of an employee on sick leave. When I had time to do my own work, I ran around putting out all the mini fires that were popping up because I wasn’t keeping a watchful eye on the whole bonfire.

By separating out work and home journal, I complete negated the third objective and went back to my comfort zone which is to put my focus and energies into work.

Does that mean the Bullet Journal experiment has been a failure? Only if I let it.

The good thing about calling the project an experiment is that failure is built into the name. Most discoveries are made through systematic trial and error and each failure is considered progress towards the desired result rather than proof that the project isn’t worth pursuing.

J.K. Rowling gave a speech years ago about the power of failure (included in this great list of her successes). Failure is part of the learning process. If we let failure stop us from moving forward then the failure and any related suffering has served us for nothing. Of course, the result may be  abandoning the project. It’s madness and soul-destroying to continue something when it’s obvious that the originally desired result is not possible.

But that is not my case.

With the holiday season upon us, now more than ever, I need to refocus and go back to my original plan — one journal with all my information together. I will stay with the digital version instead of going all the way back to my physical journal (although they are so nice to touch and feel) because the digital version allows me to move pages around and insert images and with ease.

How have you used failure to refocus your projects and find new and better ways to create progress?