Book Review: The Upbeat, Organized Home Office by Darla L DeMorrow

Here I am again looking at my messy desk after failing to figure out an organization system yesterday that would solve my paper problems.

{Here’s a peek at my messy desk!}

So today I’m using a more targeted organizing book that was written specifically for messy desks. Today’s book review selection is The Upbeat, Organized Home Office by Darla L DeMorrow.

The first sentence in Chapter 1 says “Your home office doesn’t have to be perfectly organized all the time, but it can be better.”

THIS might just be my book! I think Darla should have started Chapter 1 off by writing “Dear Sharon”.

CHAPTER 1: Welcome Home

This chapter is filled with a lot of logical information that came from studies and Darla’s own personal experiences, it gives an overview about the history of home offices and points out some glaringly real pitfalls and consequences that happen when your desk is disorganized.

I’ve never before stopped to really think about what happens when your desk is ugly, and now that she has pointed all of this information out, I can definitely relate! Some of the pitfalls have definitely happened to me!

Chapter 1 also explains some really cool productivity techniques, some that I’ve either never heard of or didn’t think to apply to when organizing systems.

One of them describes eating a frog. That’s a hard technique to swallow, but wow I sure do see the value in it! One technique is from Jerry Seinfeld. One is a parking lot, and so on. They make sense.

It’s intriguing.

A beautiful thing that I adore about this book so far is that Darla is validating some of what is already working for me…things I’m already doing right. That gives me confidence that I can tackle my problem.

I just need some tweaking and some fine tuning in some areas, tips and tricks I haven’t already thought of, and a serious overhaul regarding my love affair with paper.

But it’s reassuring that I’m not a total failure at this organizing gig…I am simply in need of some help…and help is what I found in this book!!

{The mess inside of my messy desk}

CHAPTER 2: How to SORT and Succeed

Wanna know what the hardest part of organizing is? Well, it’s right here in Chapter 2 and it’s NOT what you would think, but it’s 100% correct. The rest of the chapter details the SORT and Succeed system.

YES! Darla said the word system!! I need a system!! I need a system with the word “succeed” in it, so a “SORT and Succeed System” sounds promising.

But oh my goodness, SORT and Succeed it starts with a written plan. Is this deja vu? I wonder if my previous written plan from yesterday will be sufficient for this SORT system also?

Nope, there is a huge difference here. Darla tells you how to create an effective list by stating the problem first before the actual goal.

Okay, here’s my problem to goals list:

  • PROBLEM: I feel uneasy when I sit down at my desk if it’s covered in paper. Therefore, I avoid my desk. GOAL: Create a system that helps continuously move the paper towards their home.
  • PROBLEM: My mail doesn’t have a home and that makes me feel like I’m going to miss something. GOAL: Create a designated and pretty drop location for mail & teach my entire family to put the mail there consistently.
  • PROBLEM: I know there are papers that need ACTION, but when I decide to hunt for them, I get distracted. GOAL: Create an action system and schedule time to take the necessary action.
  • PROBLEM: I have a brochure addiction. I love to collect brochures as reference material for blog posts, but I don’t “do” anything with them. GOAL: Prioritize a special place for the brochures to be easily accessible without clogging up my desk.
  • PROBLEM: I do not update my blog enough. Is this because of my desk? GOAL: Write write write…create a schedule and do it.

I like the idea of defining specific problems in order to create a goal.

I am convinced that Darla is a genius.

And I feel like Darla “gets” me. I’m certain we can be friends!!

The next step is to organize items into like groups and with each item, actually state a question out loud: “What is this, and what do I need to do with it?”

She offers very specific advice for how to group items. And she advises not to leave the room to put items away and she says to not start organizing items until everything is grouped. She explains exactly how to decide how to group everything.

It’s almost like Darla wrote this book for people like me who need Barney-style tips and tricks that break it down in understandable terms.

Okay, so there is a LOT of information and useful tips to unpack in every chapter of Darla’s book. So I focused on the parts that specifically pertained to today’s paper situation…and setting up some type of system for mail.

So I will do a detailed read of the rest of the book when I’m ready to tackle things like my computer desktop, email, etc.

CHAPTER 3: Brain Science to Boost Your Organizing Efforts

{Darla’s guidance solved my paper problems!}

Oh, Chapter Three is awesome. It talks about developing “nudges”, how to help create focus time and create mind maps, tactics for swallowing the frog even when you don’t feel like it. This is all good stuff.

Tools. Darla gives you the right tools.

CHAPTER 4: Organize Your Desk

Did you know that the second Monday in January is NATIONAL CLEAN OFF YOUR DESK DAY?

Wooohooo!!! I’m soooo ahead of schedule!!!

Darla proposes a challenge to get your desk cleaned off in 15-30 minutes. And she walks you through it, baby step by baby step!

Chapter 4 is how I actually got my desk cleaned off today. And I went a step further to clean out the paper inside my desk! Then I set up a mail system by creating a “mailbox” above my filing cabinet so I can immediately have a home for anything that needs to be filed.

My tools are nearby the mailbox, including a trash can for discarding the junk mail. I also have some magnets on the mailbox to hang any action items that arrived which are time sensitive. I’ll include time for sorting mail on my schedule each evening, but I’m saving developing an effective schedule for another day.

{My new mail system and my “to file” box thanks to Chapter 4 and my brother-in-law, who built the box for me!!}

CHAPTER 5: Productivity Wins

This is for paper people like me. And it’s for people who need to prioritize what’s sitting in front of them on their desk. It helps you re-frame your mindset and apply the 8 steps to help you make it through the day.

CHAPTER 6: Email – Good, Better, Best

Here’s where you will learn to maximize your productivity. Processes, habits, tools, time management, and helpful tips about email. She walks you through it. Read that chapter when you’re right in front of your email so you can follow along and test out some of the new skills she’s going to teach you.

CHAPTER 7: Taming Office Gremlins

Techy stuff is located here in this chapter for those of you who want to go paperless to solve your paper problems. It’s a chapter packed full of “how to’s” and cautionary advice.

CHAPTER 8: It’s Easier to Stay Upbeat in an Attractive Office

Personally, this is my least favorite chapter because not all of it applies to my particular office situation. That doesn’t mean it’s not great information, but I simply am not at a point where I can utilize much of this information at this exact moment. So, I didn’t digest it very well.

CHAPTER 9: S is for Start

This chapter gives extra resources to help connect with your tribe! I don’t have to be alone!

There is so much more to Darla DeMorrow’s book than I’ve covered here. You’ve really got to read it to find out how well she packed every page with useful information that you can actually relate to.

With so many people working from home due to Covid-19 pandemic, I promise, this book is a MUST READ!! I’m going to read it again when it comes time to “fix” my file cabinet situation.

Fabulous job, Darla. We can definitely be friends!!!

  • Darla DeMorrow
    January 12, 2021 - 3:25 am

    I’m so glad you found inspiration here. I’m thrilled that you shared your progress with me and your friends. #SORTandSucceed #OrganizingWins

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