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Blog: Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles
Paper Doll Organizing Carnival: Winter 2012 Edition

Welcome to the Winter 2012 edition of the Paper Doll Organizing Carnival! As I mentioned back in September, this periodic series will give us a chance to discuss some of the more quixotic and delightful items related to paper and organizing.


In The Sentimental Stuff: A Photo or Portrait Can Sometimes Replace a Thing, the magnificent Jeri Dansky illustrates how one kind of paper -- a photographic representation of an item -- can preserve an emotional connection while setting the clutter free. In other words, take a picture -- it'll last longer!

Savvy Margaret Lukens knows Why GTD Isn't Working for You. If your results from the Getting Things Done time management system are flagging, check in with Margaret's insights and suggestions.

Rebecca Joines Schinsky isn't a professional organizer, but her How to Say "I Do" to Shared Bookshelves Without Ruining Your Relationship in Book Riot is as masterful as it is funny.


Although I love the fact that my Kindle lets me carry the world of Jane Austen around with me, it's still rare to see me without a few dead trees in tow. As I write this blog post, I'm hankering to get back to the fascinating Selden Edwards' The Little Book: A Novel.

Spanning from 1897 Vienna coffeehouses to the infamous Altamont concert of 1969, with stops in World War II Germany and at Boston baseball diamonds, this time travel saga has romance, intrigue and political discourse, transfixing me in a way that I'm not sure a digital reading could have achieved. Some stories require the turning of actual pages.

One advantage that digital books have over paper is that you can create your own annotations without harming an actual book. Anyone who has sighed with dismay over an excellent volume ruined with the cramped scribblings of a prior reader knows that writing in a book is just plain villainy.

Reading Notes is an intriguing alternative to defacing your books. They're perfect for those of us who lend books and want to share our comments and thoughts, and for anyone who likes to keep track of quotations for future reference or ideas for blog posts or wedding toasts.

Reading Notes has a particularly non-21st century feel, and I mean that in the best way. When you acquire a book, just affix an envelope pocket to an interior page or cover of the book. Then, as necessary, dash off pertinent comments (the dates you started and finished the book, page numbers of favorite lines, drafts of a love letter or first chapter of a Great American Novel inspired by the book, etc.). When you're done, tuck the little notebook into the envelope to review in the future, or share with readers to whom you lend the book, allowing them to share comments as well.

This appears to be a little labor of love for Matthew Latkiewicz, who also writes about wine, creativity, and productivity, and whose side venture is creating comedic "fake audio walking tours of real places." Matt prices the Reading Notes at $15.95 for a package of three notebooks.

Speaking of booklending, Paper Doll is a sucker for just about any kind of bookplates that ensure safe return of a title to one's library. As such, I wanted to share these retro personalized library card/sticker sets from Etsy shop Littlebeane Boutique. Each set, at $7.95, includes twelve 2" x 3.5" vertical rectanglular stickers on high quality matte paper stock.


By now, readers have a sense of my initially-strong antipathy for floozies, but I think I've shown that I'm not afraid to flip-flop when my perspective has been expanded. In that vein, I do love the Jumbo StickIt Pad from the wacky folks at Vat19.com.

These 12" by 12" sticky notes are perfect for making a bold statement, brainstorming ideas or storyboarding your next Sundance Festival film. These notes fit a niche between desktop sticky note blocks and 3M's Post-Its® adhesive (25" x 30") Easel Pads and (20" x 23") Wall Pads, which, while perfect for office and classroom use, can be a bit unwieldy for personal jotting and quick creative bursts.

When it's hard to motivate yourself towards productivity in the dark drear of winter, Dr. Paper Doll prescribes color, and lots of it. Happily, 3M obliges with eight fresh new palettes in the Post-It® Color Collection:

In addition to traditional cubes and pads, the products available differ by each collection; for example, Sunwashed Pier includes a variety of Post-It® recycled Greener notes, while Electric Glow sports a wide variety of SuperSticky notes and Tropical Breeze has recycled SuperSticky notes. Visit the site to take a quiz to determine your color personality and be sure to click to get a $2 off coupon.


The lovely blog All Things Paper just shared a profile of Julie VonDerVellen's amazing garment "replicas" made entirely of paper. VonDerVellen's artist statement explains that these are not merely paper renderings of outfits, but a mixing of memoir and storytelling -- "recollection tailored narratives" -- generated from paper craft creations made from recycled cotton clothing. And they are stunning. I still can't get over the dress associated with the tale of Christine B.'s The Great Prom Saga.

2012 Julie VanDerVellen


From Siri to podcasts, it's true that we can get more information than ever before without reading it. But reading, as opposed to listening or watching, is the only way we can actively consume information and entertainment at our own pace, doubling-back or skipping ahead at our convenience and our leisure. Only when reading do we supply all of the essentials for complete surrender to a story, and ironically, that surrender empowers us. While few would doubt that Colin Firth is the perfect Darcy, I think the powers of our imagination in drawing characters and situations (from the classics to sparkly vampires and girls with dragon tattoos) usually surpass anything that can be fed to us by the media.

(Paper Doll, depicted in Braille)

Did you know that January has been Braille Literacy Month? When it comes to paper, we tend to think of what we have to do to maintain it -- open the mail, pay the bills, file the documents, recycle the refuse, and so on. Especially with the ever-growing digital presence in our lives, we take the benefits of paper for granted. However, I have been fascinated by reading 15 Facts to Share During Braille Literacy Month, and have a newfound appreciation for the independence and creative opportunities paper grants us.


In many respects, the digital world is encroaching on what had previously been the province of paper. It's hard to believe it's been more than three years since Paper Doll asked, May I Have Your Card? and discussed the issue of organizing business cards. I wasn't entirely a Luddite. It's not that the post ignored the issue of digitizing, but it certainly presupposed that we were, at least initially, dealing with a business card -- a piece of heavy card stock with carefully considered font selections and design choices.

Now, however, the discussion has to include the likelihood of a future with no business cards at all. American Express' Open Forum raises points on the issue with Is It Time To Finally Ditch Your Paper Business Card?

As a professional organizer, I appreciate the notion of streamlining data, but just as I mourn the loss of album cover art displayed to its full advantage, I know that someday I'll miss spotting my signature color-scheme card in a fishbowl or feeling the frisson of anticipation when I trade crisp cards with someone and sense that it could be "...the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

As a professional organizer, I've guided you towards getting rid of junk mail and digitizing more of your finance-related paper, but what about paper that you might actually want? While business turns away from paper, literature is embracing it in new ways. The literary blog The Rumpus had started an enchanting Letters In The Mail project.
For a $5 monthly subscription price, or $60/year, subscribers will get a weekly mailing (with a stamp and everything!) of innovatively conceived and creatively written letters from novelists, memoirists, comedians, and other literary types, including Dave Eggers, Marc Maron, Emily Gould, Tao Lin and Rumpus editor Stephen Elliott, who started the project to "rekindle the pleasures of paper correspondence," according to the blog Book Riot.

Organizing literature on loose pieces of paper, instead of digitally or even in bound books, may fly in the face of traditional organizing practices. But I believe that organizing isn't about stuff. It's about how we interact with our stuff. As such, I believe that The Rumpus' Letters in the Mail endeavor can foster some small measure of slowing down, organizing one's time in such a way as to approach opening the mail as one might approach a fine meal, as opposed to fast food -- with intention and an expectation of grace.

In a charmingly old-fashioned manner (which I imagine could turn problematic quickly), some authors will include their return addresses, making it possible for fans to reply. Imagine corresponding with the next Austen or Dickens or Hemingway! Wouldn't the anticipation and eventual receipt of an actual paper letter be more thrilling than any delivery of an email? More tantalizing than a text or Kindle download?

Speaking of writing, Paper Doll loves hearing from readers. Please share your thoughts on any of the above carnival attractions in the comments section, below. And don't forget -- there's still time to enter the Paper Doll/ListPlanIt contest!

posted on: 1/24/2012 10:30:00 AM by Julie Bestry
category: Paper

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Discuss This Post

by Janet Barclay on 2/10/2012 7:20:53 AM:

Another great carnival, Julie! I love the idea of the little notebooks to put in the front of books and I just HAD to take the color personality quiz - mine is Electric Glow, by the way. :-)

by Julie Bestry (Paper Doll) on 2/10/2012 11:10:25 AM:

Well, Janet, I've always though you had an electric personality. :-)

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Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles

by Julie Bestry

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Julie Bestry, President of Best Results Organizing in Chattanooga, TN, is a Certified Professional Organizer®, speaker and author. Julie helps overwhelmed individuals and businesses save time and money, reduce stress and increase productivity through new organizational skills and systems.

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