Jan 202018

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a pleasant holiday!

I wanted to talk about something that is near and dear to my heart – organization.

This past December, I was looking for some business information, but couldn’t find it. I tore my office apart and still couldn’t find what I needed. I spent so much time looking for this paperwork that I grew frustrated with myself. I knew I needed to get organized and vowed to go into 2018 clutter-free. I knew this wasn’t going to be easy, but I was up for the challenge!

I started by writing down what I wanted from this process. I wanted to be able to find the information I needed in minutes, I wanted to go paperless, and I wanted less physical clutter in my home. My main reason for getting ultra-organized was because I knew it would help me with writing.

How does being organized help me with writing?  The less time I spend looking for items, the more time I can spend on writing. Also, I’ve noticed that when my home is clear, my mind is clear. This allows me to be more creative and focused.

I began this process of going clutter-free by gathering all of my business information and putting it in a clear bin. Then I moved onto the piles of paper in my home. I scanned each page using an app called Fast Scanner Pro. It is a genius app that everybody should have, which allows you to scan directly from your phone and e-mail it to yourself or save it on a site like Box.com.

You do know about Box.com, right? It’s a cloud content management service where you can upload, save, and share your files. You can even make custom folders on your account to house your scan’s by category and then by year, etc. It’s essential if you’re attempting to go paperless like me!

My next step was to purge. I started by placing items my family and I no longer needed into bags and then took those bags to the Salvation Army as a donation. I honestly feel a lot lighter.

Here are some techniques I use to keep my space clutter-free:

  • As soon as I get mail, I immediately decide if it gets thrown away or scanned. If scanned, I do it right away. No paper, no mess.
  • I purge. When I see things piling up, I know it’s time to sell or donate. I set it aside and take it to the donation center within a few days.
  • I delete 25 messages from each e-mail account every morning to keep my inbox maintainable.
  • I keep a single bin in the living room where I place my current journals and books so they aren’t cluttering my space.

I know what you’re thinking. Can I really do this? Yes, you can. All you need to do is set aside some time and commit to the process. Once you do, you’ll have greater focus and creativity for your writing. You can do it!

When you’re done, send me your before and after photos! I would love to see them.

Oct 072014

My life is always changing, which means that the space around me is always changing. After my first update, I worked on my office closet again and here are the results.

I stated that I wanted convenience, space, lighting, and color. I think I have achieved all of that and more.

Here is my current space:

closed and open closet doors

And here is a close-up of the interior: office closet
Here is what I did to achieve my dream space:

For convenience, I had an outlet put into my dining room and it is wonderful. I no longer have to avoid cords sprawled across my floor.

For space, I purged a ton of paper. I still have one small bin that I need to go through, but everything else is in files on my desktop. Sure things need to be separated, but at least all of that paper is out of the way.

For lighting, I used a clamp lamp, which can be moved around anywhere. It’s a great tool to have. I couple that with my overhead light above and it works beautifully. I believe that a workspace needs plenty of light to be functional.

For color, I added a city scene that my son made and put up photographs and desk toys. These pops of color are like tiny pieces of happy energy that help me focus.

For organization, I added a DIY combination cork/dry erase board. I made it using an old cabinet door and a pack of square cork and dry erase tiles. I used stamps and white paint to make patterns on the cork, which gave it a little bit of personality. I love my cork/dry erase board and use it every day to keep track of ideas, to-do lists, and important reminders.

I also organized my writing books by color. Organizing books by color makes your space look well put together. Try it yourself.

The best part about my office closet is that there is a place for everything and when I’m done, I can just close it up and join the real world.

May you find your perfect work space in your home as well!

May 062014

I’ve been working on redoing my closet office for the last month. I intended on creating an office that had ample space, light, color, and convenience and I’ve got most of it done.

Ample space: In order to create the space I wanted, I had to purge. I got rid of many file folders, moved three storage bins filled with holiday decorations to my storage space, and gave away several plastic and wooden bins which cleared up some space.

Lighting: I purchased a clamp lamp, which I found at Home Depot to light my space.

Color: I put up some new artwork and photographs to give my space pops of color.

I was going to purchase some new bins, but I had plenty and I didn’t want to clutter the space.

Convenience: My dining room does not have a single outlet. This is an issue since my closet office is located in my dining room and I will need to plug in my lamp, computer, and printer.  I am going to have one put in. After this is done, I shouldn’t have any issues while working in my closet office and it should be very convenient.

Check out my before and after photo’s so far:

Closet office before and after

The “green man” artwork was inspired by Keith Haring and made by my son at Easel Art Studio in Chicago.

As always, this is a work in progress. Stay tuned for more.


Feb 012013

Don’t you feel lighter when you have less stuff around? I know I do. If I have too many things clogging my space, my mind feels cluttered. Then I have a hard time focusing, which means I can’t write.

So I’ve decided to start on my purge early this year. I’m purging clothes, lighting fixtures, furniture, and books among other things. The problem is I’m not the selling type. I’m the mail it to people I know or drop it off at the thrift store type.

The biggest problem for me is setting aside the time to actually do it. I always feel like I have to make extra special concessions to get this stuff out of my place. It’s definitely a process. I have to get my head right, make a plan, and drag the stuff down to my car. I’ve had a bag of junk, er stuff sitting in my trunk for the last month and I have no idea why.

A new revelation – no more stuff.

I have this horrible habit of collecting things and then stuffing them into random spaces I almost never visit, like cabinets, drawers, or parts of my closet. It’s the whole out of sight, out of mind thing. Hoarding tendencies I suppose. I no longer have the luxury of keeping the stuff I don’t use because things are looking rather cluttered.

Here’s what I’ve heard you should do if you’re interested in purging:

  1. If you have more than one item, keep the best one and get rid of the others.
  2. If you no longer fit into a piece of clothing, it’s time to let it go. This is the hardest one for me because I have a lot of clothes that I love and I’m just not ready to let them go yet. Maybe you are?
  3. Go paperless by scanning everything. Have you all seen Try Neat? I don’t have one, but I do have the VuPoint Scanning Wand. I’ve used it to scan my magazine clips collection and it is amazing. My intention with this gadget has been to scan all of my bills and important papers, but it’s been a year since I entertained the idea and I have yet to start.
  4. If you’re still using CD’s, it’s time to get an MP3 player. Seriously.
  5. Organize your junk drawers. I do this like once a year.
  6. If you have kids, go through their toys. Are any of them broken? If so, toss. Have they outgrown them? Perhaps give them away. There are so many toys in my home that it feels like a toy store. I’m still trying to figure out if that’s a good or bad thing. I am also trying to figure out a way to organize the toys. Check out this blog post by Rachel Meeks about how to declutter toys.
  7. Only buy furniture that works with your space. I wish I had burned this into my brain when we first moved in. We brought way too many pieces from our old apartment, but I spent good money on them and didn’t want to let them go. I now realize how ridiculous that was. In the last three years, I’ve slowly gotten rid of a lot of our huge pieces of furniture, but I still have some that I can’t bare to part with. They sit in the back of my closet, but now that the clutter is building up, I think it’s time to get rid of those pieces too. It’s so sad because they are so beautiful.
  8. And the best idea I’ve heard about purging, stop buying new stuff.

Here’s a great article by Peter Walsh about how to declutter: “5 Steps to Kick-start your Clutter Cleaning.”

Good luck all!


Nov 072011

Are you one of those people that can’t create unless your mind is clear and relaxed? What a coincidence – me too! This is why I spend a lot of time organizing my work space and my home. I want to be as productive as possible. Here are some organizational tips that have worked for me and may work for you.

1. You know that pile of paper you have sitting on your desk? Go through it and dump what you don’t need right now. Do it! If you don’t, you’ll have a bigger pile waiting for you next week. Think paperless.

2. Check off all of the unread messages in your e-mail account at once and delete them all. Each morning, read and respond to the messages that matter and delete the ones that don’t. Unsubscribe from e-mail lists you care nothing about. This will keep your e-mail inbox under control. At one point I had over 1600 unread e-mail messages. I tried this and now I get about 50 messages a day, which I look through and delete first thing in the morning, which makes me feel as though I’ve accomplished something huge!

3. Do you know what you spend your time on? For a single day log how you’re spending your time hour by hour. Create a pie chart to identify your time wasters. Now eliminate them.

4. Every week spend time filing all of your bills and important papers in your file cabinet.

5. Go through your magazines. What you can’t or don’t have time to read, toss. Pull out clippings of the stuff you think is important. Scan them, create pdf’s and organize them by subject in folders on your computer. Throw out all clippings once scanned.

6. Back up your computer every week. Trust me, if you work on your computer, you should back up your ish every week. This is especially important for writers. Backing up is a way of life for us. If you don’t have an external HD, look for an online place to back up your files or e-mail your files to yourself just in case. You never know. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

7. If you’re anything like me, then you keep a lot of stuff, even product guides. They are the bane of my existence, but I refer to them often so I can’t toss them. I thought about scanning, but it was too much, so mine lived in a drawer for a very long time. Big mistake! Here’s what I did to organize that mess:

Step 1: Tossed all guides in other languages.
Step 2: Organized the guides I kept by subject.
Step 3: Utilized large plastic zip-locking bags.
Step 4: Slapped a label on each bag and stuffed them with the appropriate product guides.
Step 5: Got a bin and put the zip-locking bags inside.
Step 6: Labeled the bin “Product Guides” for easy reference.
Step 7: Stashed them in my closet and out of my way.

8. Designate blocks of time in the day to get things done. Try not to spend more than a few hours at a time on anything. You could burn yourself out and not want to do anything else and that would suck.

9. Everything has a place. If you take something out, put it back in the same place by the end of the day.

10. Take time to take care of yourself and your family: exercise, laugh, sleep. Do things that are good for you and you’ll be your best and most productive self.

I recently finished reading, The Productive Writer by Sage Cohen. It’s excellent and tackles a lot of the issues us writer’s face while trying to organize our “writing life.” There are several detailed and clear-cut examples to follow. Cohen’s advice is practical and makes sense. I enjoyed reading this book and recommend it to other writers.

If you’re drowning in clutter, then check this video out and follow the one-minute rule:

I am so going to read The Happiness Project soon.

Have a happy and productive writing week y’all. 🙂


Jul 232010

Over the last two weeks, I realized that my system of bookmarking web pages wasn’t working all that well. Honestly, it’s my own fault. I never took the time to organize all of the ones I saved over the years and now it’s a mess. Herein lies my new obsession with Delicious.com.

It’s an organizational freaks savior. In order to gain access, like all web sites, you must sign up. In this case, you’ll need a yahoo.com e-mail address. No need to fret if you don’t have one, simply register. If you’re anything like me, you don’t need another e-mail address, but trust me, the advantages are well worth it.

Once inside, I felt like I opened to the door to some awesome secret underground web site only meant for the privileged few who were in the know. But when I started to navigate around, I realized that I didn’t have a clue as to how this site worked. It took me a few minutes after playing around with the site to understand.

All you need to do is add the Delicious menu bar to your browser. That way you can save your web pages with a single click. Just install and press “tag” whenever you want to bookmark your favorite web page and ta-da it’s saved. It really is that easy.

If you’re interested in organizing your bookmarks, you must use the tag system otherwise it’s completely pointless and a waste of your time. What the tag system does is help you organize your bookmarks under words or phrases that you associate with the page. For instance, I associate dictionary.com with Writer’s-Resources and that’s what I tagged it under. You can click your tags on the right side of the page and there lies your list of wonderful Writer’s Resources.

Now you can delete all of your bookmarked pages and join us in the modern age.

To view my Delicious, please visit: http://delicious.com/ninawilliams

Jun 232010

The readers out there already know that I have a list of Chicago pubs, but now I have created a separate page for the literary publications of Chicago as well. There are more lit pubs in Chicago than I previously thought and I bet there are a few more, so if you happen to know of any please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Dec 182006

After weeks of waiting, the last few responses in reference to my short story Foiled finally arrived.  Each letter contained a depressing, but standard rejection. After talking to my sister about it, she gave me this great idea. I am going to make postcards that give editors a chance to respond in a way that will help me re-work my piece for publication. What this means is that I will create a postcard, which will say something like so:

We thank you for your submission however; we feel your piece needs:

–More character development.

–Work on the dialogue.

–Work on either the tone of the piece or the timing.

–Plot development.

–To be submitted elsewhere because we do not publish this type of fiction.

Thank you and good luck in the future.