Journée au Forum des 100 de l'Hebdo [fr]

[en] I'm spending my day at the Forum des 100 (a selection of 100 local personalities by l'Hebdo, a regional weekly magazine). My computer is still being repaired, and to top it all I've (temporarily) lost my internet connection at home.

J’ai piqué à  [Anne Dominique](http://annedominique.wordpress.com) (assise à  côté de moi) le joli Powerbook qu’elle a amené au [Forum des 100](http://previon.typepad.com/forum/). Comment?

1. Mon ordinateur est toujours en réparation, et je n’ai depuis quelques jours même plus de connexion à  la maison (dans quelques semaines/mois, cependant, je devrais être l’heureuse propriétaire d’un nouveau [Macbook](http://www.apple.com/macbook/macbook.html).

2. Il y a quelques semaines, j’ai reçu une lettre m’annonçant que je faisais partie des fameux “100” de l’Hebdo et que j’étais donc invitée à  passer mon jeudi 18 mai (aujourd’hui!) dans l’Amphimax de l’UNIL.

Quelques premières impressions:

– que de mecs en costard! (bienvenue en Suisse Romande, me dit ma voisine.)
– les verres dans lesquels on sert le jus d’orange sont vraiment petits, probablement pour nous forcer à  faire des allers-retours…
– un [webcast](http://previon.typepad.com/forum/) de la conférence (le lien est en haut à  droite) est disponible, vous pouvez donc la suivre depuis votre ordinateur
– le modérateur (et néanmoins blogueur!) [Bruno Giussani](http://giussani.typepad.com/) a annoncé lors des informations pratiques le [tag](http://technorati.com/tags “Un tag est une sorte de mot-clé qui sert à  étiqueter un billet.”) à  utiliser pour les personnes couvrant la conférence sur leurs blogs: [forumdes100](http://technorati.com/tag/forumdes100 “Cette page vous permet de suivre en temps réel ce que dit la blogosphère de l’événement.”)
– pas d’accent sur mon prénom, ni sur le badge, ni sur la liste des participants (malgré les nombreuses autres coquilles que j’ai pu voir!) — et ils ont même épelé “blogueuse” correctement (contrairement à  la lettre d’invitation qui m’a propulsée “blogeuse”…)

Ah oui! Bruno a aussi attiré notre attention (je suis assise à  côté de l’équipe de [lift06](http://lift06.org/)) sur le fait qu’il y avait des fontaines à  eau dans la salle et des points d’alimentation pour laptops dans la salle. (Il se souvient des mes [premières impressions de lift06](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/02/02/first-impressions-of-lift06/)…)

Voilà ! Je vais rendre l’ordinateur à  sa propriétaire. Passez une bonne journée!

*PS: ah oui, pas de photos, je suis encore en train d’essayer de récuperer les dernières photos effacées de ma carte mémoire, qui ont péri avec le disque dur de mon iBook…*

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Pensée sociale [fr]

[en] My sister said it very well: it's worth planning your social life a little in advance, because part of the pleasure of seeing your friends is also to be found in anticipation to the meeting itself.

Ma soeur l’a très bien formulé ce week-end: ça fait partie du plaisir de voir ses amis que de se réjouir de la rencontre parce qu’on l’a fixée à  l’avance.

Du coup, ça vaut la peine de prévoir sa vie sociale un peu à  l’avance plutôt que systématiquement à  la dernière minute, vous ne trouvez pas?

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About the Swiss Blog Awards (SBAW) [en]

[fr] Un compte-rendu des problématiques que je vois liées à cette histoire de Swiss Blog Awards (pour mémoire: pas de nominations romande, tessinoise, ou romanche). Je suis fâchée que les organisateurs rejettent la faute sur les blogueurs romands et n'admettent pas qu'il y a un problème dans la façon dont la communication a été menée autour de cet événement, ainsi que dans la manière dont les nominations ont été faites.

Cependant, je tiens à noter que je n'encourage personne à boycotter l'événement, au contraire. Je crois qu'il est crucial qu'il y ait une présence romande à Bienne vendredi. Faites connaissance avec les gens. Si vous avez envie que les SBAW de l'an prochain soient plus équitables, impliquez-vous, faites des propositions d'autres méthodes aux organisateurs. Je ne soutiens pas non plus la demande faite aux sponsors de retirer leur soutien, et je ne souhaite pas non plus voir qui que ce soit du comité d'organisation se retirer.

Si je n'ai pas accepté de faire part de l'organisation des SBAW, c'est premièrement parce que je n'étais pas libre, et que lorsque la demande m'a été faite, les choses étaient bien en train, et que j'aurais eu un peu le sentiment de jouer le rôle de Romande-alibi. Qu'est-ce qui aurait pu être fait côté organisation pour rendre cet événement plus populaire en Suisse Romande?

*Note: this blog post was dictated, so if you see things that don’t make sense, try reading them out loud and let me know.*

I left [quite a few comments](http://cocomment.com/comments/steph/sbaw/) here and there on the issue of the Swiss blog awards. For those of you checking in now, the fact that aside from one English language blog, only German-speaking language blogs were nominated for this award is creating [quite a stir](http://www.cocomment.com/tag/sbaw) around here. It is a touchy issue, and people on both sides are getting angry and/or taking things personally — me included, to some extent. Over the last couple of days, I have seen my position on this issue misrepresented, and I would like to set the record straight and clarify some of my opinions on what is going on.

### I’ve kept my comments public

First of all, let’s say it loud and clear:

– I am not encouraging people to boycott the event, [on the contrary](http://annedominique.wordpress.com/2006/04/28/occasions-sociales-fondues-et-autres-amenagements/#comment-97);
– I do not support the [request made to sponsors to withdraw their support](http://politique.bleublog.ch/politique-federale/aux-principaux-sponsors-des-swiss-blogs-awards.html);
– I do not want anybody to step down;
– I am doing my best to be constructive, even though this whole affair annoys me tremendously.

In addition to that, I would like to stress that I have not held any private conversations about all this since the stir began, aside from forwarding [Bruno](http://giussani.typepad.com/)’s suggestion that the Bloggy Friday be held in Biel to [Anne Dominique](http://annedominique.wordpress.com/), who is [taking over Bloggy Friday](http://annedominique.wordpress.com/2006/04/28/occasions-sociales-fondues-et-autres-amenagements/) for this month as [I cannot be there](http://cafecafe.ch/concerts/cheserex/), and a chat this morning with one of the organisers. Everything I had to say was said in public. In particular, since I was asked that precise question, I am not the one who [reminded Bruno about the unfortunate LIFT episode](http://giussani.typepad.com/loip/2006/04/swiss_blog_awar_1.html).

The closest I got to expressing an opinion on what was going on in private was in the response I sent to Bruno last night, still on the topic of encouraging French-speaking Swiss bloggers to be present in Biel on Friday. For the sake of transparency, I’m reproducing my response here. It also pretty much sums up where I stand.

> Yes, as I commented on AD’s post (no hyphen for her, btw), I also think it would be good for Romands to be there.

> As I expressed in my last comments on the subjects, I do feel that [[some organisers] are mainly blaming the bloggers for not having been nominated. I guess I’m taking it a bit personally because I was approached about
SBAW and (a) didn’t have the time for it and (b) didn’t really feel totally comfortable about the event (can’t pinpoint why, which is why I haven’t said this in public yet).

Now that this is out of the way, here are a few things I’d like to say about these awards and the whole mess.

### Some background information about me

As I — along with other French-speaking bloggers here in Switzerland — am being blamed for not having publicised the awards enough and not having encouraged my readers to go on and nominate me, here is a little information about my personality that I think is relevant to the issue.

I talk about things that I’m excited about. (Or that anger me…) This is especially true when it comes to promotion. It is not my habit to promote an event or a service just because a friend asked me to. So blaming me because I didn’t put a button on my site for the Swiss blog awards is beside the point: it’s blaming my personality.

Then, I don’t like awards. For me, they are inevitably flawed to some extent. Some less than others, but still. In 2003, [I won an award for “Best Swiss blog”](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/02/11/ce-soir-a-geneve-nuit-du-journal-intime/) in the French-speaking blogosphere. Why? Because I was pretty much the only Swiss blogger to hang out in the community gravitating around some of the organisers.

### Blog awards

When an award puts out a title like “Best Swiss blog”, it creates a certain number of expectations. For example, that more than one Swiss blog will be entering the contest. That the contestants will be more or less representative of Swiss blogs in general. That the award will be given with a certain degree of fairness. That the “best blog” is in a way “better” than the others in the same category, which translates into “better quality” for most people, unless clearly specified otherwise.

I find that this is not often the case. First of all, the pool of contestants is always in some way related to the people who organised the awards. Blogging functions like word-of-mouth, but with greater reach. Inevitably, the first people to know about it will be the organisers’ networks, and then in the networks of these people, etc. Then, what is being rewarded is not always quality. I agree with what [Pascal Rossini says](http://giussani.typepad.com/loip/2006/04/swiss_blog_awar.html#comment-16620460): quality and “bestness” is somewhere in the eye of the beholder. In the case of the Swiss Blog Awards, what is very explicitly being rewarded is [the ability to campaign and get as many people as possible to nominate you](http://swissblogawards.ch/2006/04/25/and-the-nominees-are-best-swiss-blog/#comment-794).

### I was approached to be part of SBAW

Here are some details about the last comment of mine in the e-mail reproduced above. I had known about the Swiss blog awards for some time, if my memory serves me right because Matt had talked to me about it. I was officially approached in February. Even though there were perfectly good reasons for which no French-speaking blogger was yet involved, the fact that it became a crucial problem so late, when the date for the awards was set, and most of the organisation was already done, did make it appear bit like an afterthought. I know it was not an afterthought, but still, the fact that organisation had got so far underway did make me feel like my presence in the organisation was desired only to promote the event over here and make it appear like it was not just a ” Swiss German thing”.

I should have raised the issue and clarified with the organisers at the time, and for that I plead guilty. However, I was in any case not available on the date of the awards, and my personal life was a mess (it often is), so I declined and left it at that.

### A Swiss blogosphere?

One of the goals behind the Swiss blog awards is to increase visibility of blogs and blogging in Switzerland, and also improve communication and networking inside the Swiss blogosphere. Improving communication inside the Swiss blogosphere is also one of the goals of the [blogerbosse list](http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bloggerbosse/). I approve of the goal, but I wouldn’t personally have chosen an award for that. A LIFT-like conference, but more Swiss-oriented than international-oriented, would have suited me better to adresse those issues.

I have my doubts about the viability of such a thing as the “Swiss blogosphere”. The borders on the Internet are linguistic. I learnt German at school, but are not comfortable enough with it to read German-language blogs. I stick to my mother tongues (plural, as I’m a strange bilingual animal), English and French. I have a foot in the French-speaking blogosphere, and the other one in the English-speaking blogosphere, but I really don’t have many clues as to what’s going on in all these German-speaking blogs. The Swiss-German blogosphere is almost as much a mystery to me as a Spanish-speaking blogosphere.

It would be interesting to have statistics describing which language blogs people read. I suspect that most people only read blogs in their mother tongue. A fair amount of people probably read blogs in English in addition to that. And then, I suspect we find a small number of brave or a bilingual people who go around reading blogs in other languages.

### Language barriers are even stronger online than offline

Language is an issue in Switzerland. French speakers are a linguistic minority here, and often have the feeling that the German-speaking part of the country ignores them. Funnily, we often forget that are part of this country speaks Italian, and yet another Romansch. I personally often wonder if French-speaking Switzerland isn’t culturally closer to neighbouring France then to more distant, German-speaking parts of the country, which are nevertheless part of the same political entity.

I know where this can make me sound as if I’m promoting the Röstigraben. I don’t want to encourage or promoted. But I think it’s there. Trying to pretend it isn’t there will not make the problem go away. Offline, Switzerland makes sense. We are held together by institutions and politics. We travel from one part of the country to another. We do our best to communicate with fellow citizens who have a different mother tongue, often using English in the process.

But online? What is there to “hold Switzerland together” in cyberspace? These are real questions. The “Swiss blogosphere” must exist because everybody wants it to. The media want to know things about “blogging in Switzerland”. Swiss bloggers want to feel they’re still Swiss when they’re in cyberspace. But how real is it? I think the “Swiss blogosphere” is a pretty artificial concept. That doesn’t mean I think it’s bad. On the contrary. But it means that we must not underestimate the difficulties we will face when we try to make something out of it.

### Publicizing via blogs still requires you to be active

The Swiss blog awards were supposed to be a bottom-up, grassroots event. I don’t think you can create that. Grassroots movements are unpredictable. If you want something to go in one direction, even if you are using the power of blogs to spread the word, you need to be active. In my opinion, letting the word spread on its own and then blaming people for not having picked it up when they complain is unfair.

In the case of the Swiss blog awards, hoping the word would spread through the French and Italian speaking parts of Switzerland with an all Swiss-German team communicating in English was wishful thinking. I know there was no evil the intent on the part of the organisers. I know they tried to get French-speaking people on board. But in my opinion, given the context I described above, having motivated and enthusiastic people from various parts of the country on the committee should have been a requirement before starting to design the awards.

If that is not how things happened, (and again, I’m aware there are valid reasons why it did not happen this way), then a massive communication effort was needed to get the word out another linguistic regions. It’s too easy to just say that [popular bloggers this side of the Sarine ignored the SBAW, while Swiss German A-listers promoted the event](http://swissblogawards.ch/2006/04/25/and-the-nominees-are-best-swiss-blog/#comment-853), and that therefore French or Italian speaking bloggers can just blame themselves for not being represented. Making sure the word spreads in the whole of Switzerland is the burden of the organisers of the **Swiss** blog awards.

### Why am I writing all this?

The main reason I’m writing this is that I’m annoyed. (I know this might not be the best reason to write on a topic, but here we are…) I’m annoyed that we the bloggers (the “candidates”) are being blamed that there are no French-speaking blogs among the nominees. I’m annoyed that I’m being suspected of trying to create trouble, of saying things behind people’s backs, of deliberately trying to make the awards fail, of encouraging people to boycott, and of wanting people to step down. None of this is true.

I’m annoyed that an event that was supposed to bring Swiss bloggers together is dividing them. If the organisers were willing to admit that the nomination design was flawed, and that the communication was badly handled, or that maybe including language-specific awards would have been a better idea, I think it could go a long way towards placating angry French-speaking bloggers. But no, if we are unhappy about not being present in the nominations, it’s our own fault. This kind of attitude is not helping keep the peace.

I’m also annoyed at myself, because from the beginning I had a vague feeling that this event was “too Swiss German”, and I had trouble seeing how it would be accepted and endorsed in this part of the country, but the feeling was too vague, I had other worries, and I didn’t say anything. Would it have changed anything if I had?

### What now?

I don’t have a miracle solution. I think bloggers who do not feel represented in the nominations should by no means boycott the award. Their displeasure has been heard, and there is an occasion in Biel to “meet the others”. Be there. Go to Biel on Friday. It’s much more important to be there now than it was before this whole mess broke out.

As for the organisers… I don’t really know what to suggest. I would have suggestions for things that could have been done earlier on, but I’m not sure they’re very useful to give now. What can still be done now, though, is what I suggested above. Accept your part of responsibility in how things turned out instead of blaming the bloggers for it. Start asking for suggestions *now* for how bloggers from linguistic minorities would organise the nominations so that everybody has an equal chance of being represented. Start prospecting *now* for French and Italian speaking bloggers who would like to be part of organising better Swiss blog awards for next year.

This will show angry bloggers that you already had to do things differently from the start next time, and that they have been heard. There is nothing worse for somebody who is angry than to hear: “let’s just sweep this under the carpet for the moment, and get on with the party, it’s your fault anyway.”

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Software: FreeMind [en]

Trying out FreeMind, mind-mapping software that runs on OSX (and other operating systems).

[fr] Je suis en train d'utiliser FreeMind, un logiciel gratuit de "mind-mapping" (comme MindManager) qui tourne sous OSX. J'y ai mis ma liste de choses à faire, et c'est bien mieux que dans iCal.

The less I post, the less I post. One reason being that there would be a ton of things I could talk about, but I don’t want to discuss here. Another being that my hands hurt. But the most important one is that as I don’t write much these days, the things I actually do publish had better be overly important and overly interesting.

So, to hell with that. I’ll lower my interestingness expectations.

I’ve just been trying out FreeMind, a free mind-mapping application that runs under OSX, Windows, and Linux. Following Suw‘s advice, I’m using it to keep track of things I must do. I’m not certain it will replace my fun to-do list, but it sure beats iCal’s To Dos.

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Cours de maths-base [fr]

Avec la suppression des “sections” en VSB, l’enseignant en maths se retrouve à  devoir gérer jusqu’à  la fin de la scolarité obligatoire des classes passablement hétérogènes quant à  leur facilité dans cette branche. Un commentaire sur mon expérience.

[en] In canton Vaud, the school organisation has changed a lot during these last years, resulting in more heterogenous classes. I talk about my experience teaching maths in classes where you have "maths-specialists" and "language-specialists" (who are often less at ease with maths) in the same classes.

Mon premier “challenge” d’enseignante, lors de mes remplacements, cela a été les cours de “maths-base” — à  savoir les cours de maths donnés à  la classe entière, sans faire intervenir les différents choix d’options spécifiques qu’ont fait les élèves. En effet, on trouve maintenant dans une même classe de VSB aussi bien des latinistes, des scientifiques, que des élèves ayant choisi comme option spécifique l’italien (“langues modernes”) ou l’économie.

Ces élèves suivent en commun les cours d’allemand, d’anglais, de français, de maths, d’histoire (etc.) et se séparent pour suivre les quatre (cinq) heures de cours hebdomadaires consacrées à  leur option spécifique: l’italien, le latin, l’économie, ou des maths supplémentaires. Les cours “maths-option” couvrent des domaines qui ne sont pas abordés par le cours maths-base. Ainsi, les élèves de maths-option ne se trouvent pas favorisés lors de ceux-ci.

Mais, il y a un mais. Nous ne sommes pas tous égaux devant les maths. Si je crois fermement que chacun est capable de comprendre et maitriser les mathématiques enseignés au collège (si on fait preuve de patience et de compétence pédagogique, et qu’il y a assez de temps à  disposition — ce qui n’est en général pas le cas), il me parait cependant évident que certaines personnes comprennent plus vite que d’autres. Au risque de tomber dans le cliché (mais en étant consciente que ceci est une généralisation, à  manier donc avec des pincettes), il y a fort à  parier que l’on trouve chez les élèves ayant choisi les maths en option spécifique une forte proportion de personnes ayant de la “facilité”, comme on dit, et dans les options plus littéraires, un plus grand nombre d’élèves ayant besoin d’un peu plus de soutien pour appréhender les mathématiques.

Lorsque l’école secondaire était divisée en sections bien distinctes, on attendait clairement plus des scientifiques durant les cours de maths, quel que soit le sujet abordé, que des modernes (pour rester dans les gros clichés). Les latines étaient considérées comme des littéraires, certes, mais puisque c’étaient des latines (traditionnellement la section pour les “meilleurs” élèves, à  tort ou à  raison), certains enseignants avaient tout de même des exigences un peu plus élevées que pour des élèves en section moderne.

On va tenter de s’arrêter là  avec les clichés, espérant tout de même que mon argumentation aura été claire: certains comprennent plus vite les maths que d’autres. (Et ne nous limitons pas aux maths, les problèmes que je soulève ici se retrouvent dans l’enseignement des langues et probablement d’autres branches encore.)

Prenez donc une classe de 7VSB. A force d’exercices et de persuasion, on leur présente l’addition et la multiplication des fractions. Quelques élèves auront compris dès la première explication ou le premier exercices. D’autres auront besoin encore de longues heures d’explications bien plus détaillées, accompagnées de force schémas et analogies, mettant à  l’épreuve la créativité de l’enseignant et dans bien des cas, sa patience. (Et très personellement, c’est là  un des aspects de l’enseignement que je trouve le plus stimulant.)

Reste la question: que faire avec ceux qui ont compris, qui ont fini en cinq minutes l’exercice que vous avez donné à  faire, et qui s’ennuient durant les explications que vous donnez à  ceux qui ont encore du chemin devant eux? Si vous leur faites prendre de l’avance dans les exercices à  faire pour les occuper, cela ne fait que repousser le problème. Leur donner à  faire des exercices supplémentaires, que ne feront pas les autres élèves? Cela me paraît la moins mauvaise solution. Elle demande bien entendu préparation, organisation, et travail supplémentaire de la part de l’enseignant.

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Liens épineux [en]

Je me demande comment gérer toutes les sortes de liens qui se trouvent sur mon site/weblog.

Que faire de tous ces liens, je me demande bien? Où les placer, comment les gérer?

  • ceux du blogroll, qui changent trop souvent, parce que mes lectures sont instables
  • ceux de la page d’accueil, catégorie liens utiles-sympathiques-incontournables-et-compagnie
  • ceux des Bookmarks, parfois classés et parfois non, la faute à  une liste de catégories un peu déficiente
  • ceux du “Linkball” que je compte instaurer sous peu (les “Daily Links” d’autrui)
  • ceux qui accompagnent certains articles, comme celui qui vous incite à  débarrasser vos tables
  • ceux de la navigation principale, secondaire?

Et puis encore:

  • faudra-t-il catégoriser les liens de la future “Pelote”, au risque d’élever la barrière de publication?
  • y aurait-il ainsi un moyen d’en tirer des favoris classés dans une jolie hiérarchie?
  • j’aime l’idée du “layout historique”, en particulier pour les archives du weblog; mais je ne peux pas vraiment garder le même layout tout en les passant sous MT; et si je change de layout dans six mois (Dieu m’en garde!)…?

Si vous voulez nous faire part ci-dessous de vos expériences de vie concernant ces questions épineuses, nous vous écouterons d’une oreille attentive.

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Keeping The Flat Clean: Living Space As User Interface [en]

How I applied what I have understood about designing user interfaces to organising my flat so that it too is ‘usable’ and remains clean.

One of my ongoing post-study projects is reorganising my flat from top to bottom, hopefully throwing out half my stuff in the process. I have been thinking a bit about the way I store things.

First of all, I tend to try to minimise waste of space. I will organise things into cupboards and drawers so that they occupy the less space possible. Second, I tend to organise things with taxonomy rather than function in mind. I will try to store objects of the same type together, regardless of their respective frequency of use.

The result is a perpetually messy flat, with whole areas that I never use (places I do not go, cupboards I never open).

I have therefore been rethinking my whole living environment in terms of function and process. What do I use this thing for, and when? How do I deal with common tasks like washing up or doing my mail? And most important, how does clutter arise? An environment where each thing has a place is not sufficient to prevent clutter. If clutter arises, it is not due to “laziness”. It is because the storage system is not usable enough. It was not designed with the user in mind.

I have switched to considering my living space as a user interface rather than as a library of categorised items.

If I catch myself dumping something on the table instead of putting it away, I’ll try to identify what is preventing me from putting it where it belongs. I’ll try to bring this “where it belongs” closer to where I am naturally tempted to put it. (Instead of thinking “ooh I’m a bad girl, I’m not putting things away as I should,” which we all agree does not help in the least.)

Here are a couple of examples of what I have been doing.

First, I identified the main sources of clutter in my flat: dirty kitchen things, clothes, papers and books. Then I tried to analyse how these things ended up lying about my whole flat. I know that I can clean my flat spotless, and that within a couple of weeks it will be messy again. So obviously, there are things I do mechanically which create clutter. Something which breaks the natural “keeping clean” flow.

Let’s take the dirty dishes to start with. (Not the most glamorous example, but I’m sure there are many of you out there who can relate.) Why do I leave cups, glasses, or even plates lying around in various places? A first reason for this, obviously, is that I do not only eat in my kitchen. That’s a fact we will just have to live with. But why don’t I bring things back to the kitchen? Well, more often than not, the kitchen is in such a state that there wouldn’t really be any place to put them. The sink, of course, is already full of dirty dishes. We have here are perfect example of how disorganisation in one area leads to clutter elsewhere.

One factor which helps stuff pile up in my sink (despite my “fool-proof” method for taming dirty dishes) is that I usually have to make space on the drainer before I start washing up. (I’m one of these people who don’t dry dishes but leave them on the drainer to put them away “later”.) And putting the dishes away is a pain because my cupboard is so crammed with stuff that I have to empty half of it before being able to put my plates were they belong. That is where the bottleneck is. Or the limiting factor, if you prefer.

I realised that out of my four kitchen cupboards, there are only two that I regularly open. I proceeded to empty all the junk out of the others and get rid of the most of it (if I never open the cupboards, then I can’t really need what’s inside them, can I?) I then reorganised the things I use on a regular basis in all the available cupboards, focusing on “how easy will it be to put it back there?” rather than “could I use less space for this?”

One significant result concerns plates. (Don’t worry, we’ll soon be done with the kitchen things.) I have big plates and small plates, four of each. I used to keep the small plates piled up on the big ones, which meant that each time I wanted to put a big plate back in the cupboard, I had to lift up all the small plates first (see what I mean?) That didn’t help prevent things from accumulating on the drainer. Now I have the small plates on one shelf, and big ones on another. I use up more storage space, but it’s easier to put things away. I have rearranged all my kitchen cupboards along the same principle, and the kitchen is now much more usable.

This post is getting much longer than what I expected. However, I don’t want to leave you without letting you know what I have come up with for dealing with my incoming mail. I have been using a tray-based system for sorting paperwork for a long time, but it has shown its limitations regularly over the past years. The new system still uses trays, that groups papers according to what I have to do with them instead of what they are. So now, this is what my trays look like; I’ll see as I use it if it needs any modifications:

  • to do (bills to pay, things to investigate or have a closer look at)
  • to do, ASAP (anything urgent)
  • to file, daily business (bank papers, medical papers, salary slips)
  • to file, important (tax stuff and other important things)
  • to look at (optional) before throwing out (various newspapers, information leaflets)
  • to throw out (envelopes and anything else I don’t keep; the bin is often not close at hand)
  • to sort (anything unopened; sometimes I fetch my mail and don’t deal with it straight away

In conclusion, here is my line of conduct:

  1. pay attention to cupboards that are never opened or shelves that are never reached at
  2. keep an eye on what I do automatically and try to adapt the environment
  3. think “actions”, “process”, and “frequency” instead of “categories” and “families”
  4. accept my limitations

The last point is important: there will always be clean washing waiting to be ironed, because no matter how hard I try, I’ll never get around to ironing and putting it away as soon as it’s dry. I therefore need to take this into account and explicitly plan a space for my huge pile of Clothes Waiting To Be Ironed, even if in an ideal world, Clothes Waiting To Be Ironed should not be around.

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