paper or pixel?

According to a survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, e-book readers read an average of 24 titles in the past year, compared with readers of physical books, who read 15.

Although I am very technologically adept, I am opposing the e-book wave. I still like to hold a book in my hand and turn the pages.

Which do you prefer? Why?

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book review – Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things

Most people have too much stuff; however, there is a big difference between having too much stuff and hoarding. Between TV shows about hoarding and numerous books devoted to the subject, the public has become aware of hoarding as a serious issue.

In Stuff, Randy Frost and Gail Steketee examine the lives of several people with hoarding tendencies and find evidence that hoarding may have a biological basis. Certainly, when food or materials were scarce, humans had a need to amass quantities of anything.

“Hoarding is not defined by the number of possessions, but by how the acquisition and management of those possessions affects their owner.”

For some people, the need to hold onto things is so severe, they feel actual physical pain when asked to let go. Generally, hoarding is based on one of the following beliefs: fear of being without, inability to distinguish value, reluctance to waste and strong personal connection to items. Even though you can prove that the beliefs are faulty, the individual with hoarding behaviors remains convinced otherwise.

One of the most interesting concepts that the authors submit is that their subjects could describe things in “overly elaborate ways, including far too many details and losing the main themes. It seems as though they are unable to filter out irrelevant details. Each detail seems as important as the next.” In addition, these people find multiple uses for the things that other people consider trash.

People who hoard have strong feelings about their belongings and are unable to let go of things easily. The authors remind us that simply clearing out the home of someone who hoards is not a solution.

Although the subject is very serious, the book reads more like a novel. It is easy to read and gives insight into what makes people hoard. What is lacking is how to work with these individuals to help them change their behaviors.

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productivity roundup

There have been some insightful articles on the Web about productivity recently:

How taking a break improves your productivity

Steve Jobs’ best productivity tricks

Michael Dean wants you to stop giving productivity tips

What you eat impacts your productivity

What’s your favorite?

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product review – plastic food containers

I recently wrote about storing plastic food containers and my preference for those that use the same lid for different bases.

If you’re looking for something a little more stylish, these nesting containers solve the problem of losing lids – they snap together so they aren’t floating around in a drawer or cupboard. You’ll know which lid is missing, too, because the base has a dot of the lid color on it.

The smallest one is 8 ounces and they graduate all the way to 152 ounces, so they can handle multiple uses in the kitchen. They’re BPA free and can go in the dishwasher and microwave. If you like these, check Joseph Joseph’s Web site for more innovative designs for kitchen ware.

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emergency preparedness

It’s already September, which means it’s National Preparedness Month.

This year the focus is on families, to reinforce the importance of including children in preparedness conversations. You can talk to kids about emergencies without scaring them. They’ll feel better knowing that plans are in place, whether they’re at home or at school.

Go to for a downloadable family emergency plan, emergency kit checklists and guidelines on how to make preparedness a year-round family activity.

Have a plan in place before an emergency strikes: who to call, where to meet and what to pack.
If you haven’t created a kit yet, start out with some nonperishable food, water and a flashlight. Add to it every month, using this list and change out the food twice a year. Keep a kit at home, at work and in your car. Don’t forget about pets, too.

I keep a plastic tub filled with supplies in the basement. Where do you keep your emergency kit?

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book review – The Clutter Book: When You Can’t Let Go

This isn’t a book review, so much as a shameless plug for my own book. I haven’t finished reading this month’s book yet – real life interfered with plans – so I’m referring to The Clutter Book: When You Can’t Let Go instead.

I’ve noticed that people are wowed by “Before and After” photos of cluttered spaces and often look at them as evidence of great work. What does the picture show, though, except that the clutter is gone? Has it been moved out of the frame or into a different space in the house?

I worked with a client yesterday on a severely congested garage and although we didn’t get rid of anything except some empty boxes, we made a huge difference in the space flow. How? By moving things into places that made sense.

It’s nowhere near ready for a magazine photo shoot. There’s still no room to park a car (they’re storing an apartment’s worth of things for a child for a short time), but the space is much more manageable and they can access what they need. That’s a great before-and-after, in my opinion – same stuff, better outcome.

Once we were able to reach the things that needed decisions made about them, the client could discard things that no one wants and remove things that didn’t belong in the garage.

Don’t look for before and after photos in The Clutter Book, because you won’t find any. The best photos are of the hard work that you do to get your spaces in order.

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productivity roundup

Productivity continues to be a popular topic on the Internet. Here are a few articles about productivity that I found interesting:

Creativity vs. Productivity from Acton Institute

10 Tools & Tips For Escalating Your Productivity from Jay White

Staying productive in the air from OAK

Open offices create sound distractions. What Does Productivity Sound Like? from Wired

Have you practiced any techniques to improve your productivity this week?

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