Sep 25, 2009

Operation Organization :: Emily Ayer

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Hi my name is Whitney and I have a problem. No, I’m not addicted to drugs or alcohol. I could go to AA for that. This problem invades every part of my life, creating unnecessary stress and demanding far too much of my time. My problem?I lack a strong organizational method. I’m organizationally challenged.  image above :: kyle barnes

A mental to-do list just doesn’t seem to work when the to-dos begin to pile up. My brain is a soup of ideas and to-do’s floating around and just never getting done. Writing it down doesn’t help if I forget to go back and read it. What is a girl to do?

I have two choices. I can either continue to live in a state of disarray and stress, or I can vow to organize myself both professionally and personally. As of this moment, I declare this the year that I transform myself from a forgetful girl to an ultra organized success.

The time has come to find a strong organizational method that works. My sources of inspiration will be my coworkers (Lara, Katharine, and Emily), my friends (at least the put-together ones), my family, and I might just add a few books in there to liven things up.

Weekly, I will be sharing tips and tricks to how I’m pulling my life together. My goal is to not only clean up my own life, but to be able to help others create a more streamlined workflow. This is a journey that I do not want to take alone… I invite you to take it with me.

For my inaugural post, I am turning to one of the women I work with and admire each and every day. This woman has her own style of organization that allows for a productive, successful office environment. I am constantly amazed at my co-worker’s intelligence, beauty, and above all, her established organizing methods. Give a big, hearty welcome to Emily Ayer, our own organizational guru.


What is your top organizational secret weapon?

I have 5 or 6 small but recurring features for the variety of blogs I write
for (the SW blog, the Bliss blog, and the LC blog).  I was always neglecting one or the other because I couldn’t keep them all in my head at the same time while also juggling all of the larger, more long-term features I work on.  My solution?  Post-its.  I recently set up a post-it board on the wall to the left of my desk.  It’s very simple – five post-its in a row across the top, labeled Monday through Friday, then five post-its in a row across the bottom, labeled with each of the features I work on – Branding Beauties, Etiquette with Emily, Print Preview, etc.  This way, I can move them around in my schedule without forgetting about any of them, and know at a glance what I should be working on on any particular day.

How is your work space set up?

I really like to work with my laptop on my lap, and I like my desk to be as clear as possible.  On the wall to the left of my desk I have my post-it board.  In front of me is a window (yay!) and a whiteboard for jotting notes and holding important info I’m likely to forget, like the SW office number and my intern’s schedule.  On my desk I have a lamp, a tiny little candy jar, and my white ruled notepads.  On a good day, that’s it.  Underneath my desk I have back issues of magazines, SW stationery, a copy of the book we’re reading as an office, and discs of images from photographers.

What do you see as the benefits to being organized?

As cheesy and feng-shui as it sounds, when the physical space around me is organized, it is so much easier for my “mental space” to feel organized, meaning I can tackle projects in a more clear-headed way.  I try to get as much out of my head and onto paper as possible so I don’t have to worry about forgetting something that’s swimming around in my brain.  That’s a really helpful tool that Lara‘s really hammered into our heads.

What advice would you give to those looking to increase productivity
and reduce stress?

Take some time to figure out what works for you.  Everyone is different, everyone’s workflow is different, and, even in our small office, the tasks that everyone is working on are different.  It makes sense that we would each have a different way of tackling organizational issues.

Be sure to read Emily’s Branding Beauties posts as well as her work on the Bliss Event Group blog and on the Southern Weddings BlogSite. Man, that girl keeps herself busy!

Messy closet, messy inbox, messy to-dos, messy dishes in the sink… all of these are about to be a distant memory.

I’m taking the high road to organizational bliss to further my own productivity and happiness and you’re coming with me! Tune in next week for more words of wisdom!



  1. Megan DeMaria on September 26, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    What a well-written article, Whitney! I totally agree with you that organization of your physical space leads to organization of your mental space. Can’t wait to read the rest of these articles!

  2. Julianne Smith on September 27, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    love this post! and, i’m glad to know that i’m not the only one who isn’t an uber organized person…i’m in good company. hang in there and if all else fails make a list and force yourself to go back to it! (you’ll learn to derive such pleasure from crossing things off!)

  3. Emily Ley on September 28, 2009 at 6:49 am

    Good for you, Whitney! I love this post 🙂 Being organized is a minute-by-minute challenge, but with the support and inspiration you have – you’ll get there! For me… I’m a constant note-taker/list-maker. Now if only I could FIND my list… 🙂

  4. Chris Reinolds on September 28, 2009 at 8:03 am

    As a someone who struggles with being organized (and procrastinates trying to be organized), I commiserate!! You are right about the space around you helping you. The post-it idea is great!

  5. reilly on October 21, 2009 at 10:53 am

    good luck! i love your strategies and determination.. and i love that you all read a book as an office! what a great idea : )

    best, reilly

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