Jan 032010

A new favorite on my list of organizational gurus, Regina Leeds is known as the “Zen Organizer”. She explains in her books that what she is trying to bring to her readers is the feeling of peace, calm and clean that she experienced in her own (well-organized) childhood home. She believes that organization isn’t simply done for it’s own sake. “Newly organized areas of my clients’ homes quite literally felt different than they had before we began our work of transforming the space.” In describing this change of atmosphere, she expressed it as “Zen Organizing”.

Here at PathsToKnowledge, of course, we don’t limit our Zen to organization. But its very refreshing to read an organizer who understands that the primary purpose of organization is to gain an inner sense of peace that you simply can’t have if you’re life is constantly controlled and interrupted by the chaotic situations in which you try to live and work.

Regina’s most recent books are a trio based on the excellent model of breaking down our efforts to organize into a year of simply weekly tasks. To begin with general organization, Regina wrote One Year to an Organized Life, which I’ve reviewed previously. Extending this method specifically into the work environment, she next produced One Year to an Organized Work Life – which I still need to read, and finally in 2010 came out with One Year to an Organized Financial Life – saving what is for me the hardest topic for last.

Together, this trio of books takes a direct, hand-held approach to guiding you through the process of acquiring all the habits and values that will make you a more peaceful, calm, happy and (of course) organized person.

In addition to writing, Regina seems to be a very active professional organizer, with seminars, workshops and consulting appointments in addition to serving individual clients. She was named “Best Organizer in LA” by Los Angeles Magazine, and even has a former career in acting – which no doubt helps when getting her points across in seminars.

Check out her products on the Amazon list, and see our more detailed reviews on the menu at left.

Oct 252009

leobabautaLeo Babauta is a recent addition to my list of favorite teachers. He’s primarly known for his blog, Zen Habits, which I stumbled onto one day. It quickly found its way into my personal RSS feed.

Leo’s specialty is taking the task or organizing your life and reducing it to the bare minimum. He is one of the leading advocates of zen minimalism in the area of personal organization. For example, he took David Allen’s famous Getting Things Done system (of which I’m a big fan) and reduced it to a more streamlined system he calles Zen To Done (ZTD).

Leo’s books and posts bring simplicity to such areas as your email, your finances, your health,  your business your browser and life in general.

This is a great thing, because the simpler a system is, the more likely we are to actually USE it.  Our systems for managing our life shouldn’t make it even more complicated and difficult.

In addition to his blog, Leo has several books available which we will be reviewing here time permitting.

The video below is part of an interview with Leo on his book The Power of Less

Oct 252009

stevencovey Stephen Covey is someone I’ve been well aquainted with since my younger days as a Mormon (a long stop on my spiritual journey). Covey has been strongly involved in the leadership of the Mormon Church, as well as being the author of one of the most popular organizational books of all time, the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

At a time where a lot of attention was being focused on the mechanics of staying organized, Covey took a step back and looked at the principles behind organization. Personal organization is not simply a matter of making lists of things to do. It is a matter of choosing to do the thigns that are actually important to our life’s purpose and values. For many type “A” personalities, this is a dramatic insight.

This is the centerpiece of the first of the “seven habits” – proactivity

Just to give you a taste, here are the “Seven Habits” that Covey recommends:

Habit 1: Be Proactive: Principles of Personal Choice
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind: Principles of Personal Vision
Habit 3: Put First Things First: Principles of Integrity & Execution
Habit 4: Think Win/Win: Principles of Mutual Benefit
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood: Principles of Mutual Understanding
Habit 6: Synergize: Principles of Creative Cooperation
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw: Principles of Balanced Self-Renewal

Excellent principles. And Covey has added a book on his eighth habit. “Find your voice and encourage others to find theirs”.

Covey is a well-grounded, balanced and knowledgeable teacher, with many years of experience in leadership, motivation and training. And  he brings deep psychological and even spiritual insight into his work. He is usually careful to keep his overtly religious ideas out of his teaching, but some critics think they detect shades of subtle Mormon philosophy coloring his work. Not surprisingly, these critics tend to be those who have their own very dogmatic religious views.

As for me, even though I now completely reject and cannot share Covey’s Mormonism, his organizational teachings are first-rate, and everyone interested in this topic shouldn’t consider themselves well-trained until they have read Stephen Covey.

Below is a short video interview in which Covey discusses the first of the seven habits – proactivity

Oct 252009

david-allen David Allen and his system of Getting Things Done (known as GTD by fans) took the world of personal organization by storm several years ago.  While many previous teachers such as Hyrum Smith and Steven Covey had been focusing on the general principles of organization, David Allen came along and noticed that many people were failing at organization because of poor mechanics – not knowing the right “tricks”.

Allen takes the planning methods of previous generations and gives them a much-needed overhaul for the computer age. One thing that Allen noticed that had become more important in the digital age is the idea of CONTEXT. Rather than organizing thing strictly by priorities,  we should organize by our working context.

For example, if we are sitting at our computer, answering email, we aren’t going to shut our computer down and move to our next priority. We are going to do all our “computer” tasks at one time – while we are sitting at the computer. Allen’s system organized work into contexts of tasks to accomplish together.

Another of Allen’s principles is the “empty in-box”.  It is never efficient to look at an item and put it back in our inbox (whether literal or electronic). Items in our in-box should either be done immediatly, or moved directly to the appropriate project or context lists, so that it will be dealt with at the appropriate time.

David Allen’s books are full of smart, streamlined “tricks” to make you a more organized person Get one today.

Meanwhile, have a look at a brief promotional video below:

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