• Dr. Jill Bakke


We consider the New Year a time of change, a clean slate, tabula rosa. Nothing written on it. We can choose what we want in 2016. So we list things like I want to lose 15 pounds or this year I am going to save more money, often with no idea where to start to reach our desire.

This month, I am offering you space to make some comments on what works for you and what you want to achieve in 2016. What resolution did you make for this new year, 2016? What is the most important thing you can think of that would give you satisfaction and make life easier? What do you want to change? Would you be willing to share it with me so I might look at what I can offer you in a blog that would support that desire?

Simply type in your hoped for change or suggestion in the box at the end. You don’t have to sign your real name; stage names are welcome. When you click send, it will go into my mailbox at jill@drjillbakke.com. You may also write me there with your thoughts on resolutions for the New Year.

And I am certainly open to any suggestions you can offer on my desire to get organized. Here is my story.



For me, this year is the year to get organized. I began the process in the fall of 2015 and decided one key was to have two office areas, one where I could give classes and meet with clients, another that could convert into a guest room. Although the house is ideally set up for this, I have found the process a daunting one. Time is part of the equation; access to materials I am working on is another.

How do I organize my spaces to the best advantage? What can I get rid of and what must be saved? Why am I spending so much time on the computer? Here are a few of the changes I have made or am implementing.


I now work with a clean desk. It saves me time from digging out the buried material I want. And an unclutter surface and room makes it easier for me to focus on the task at hand. It also makes it easier to quickly convert the spaces into a guest room or for classes. This is an on-going job to maintain.

The second step was I cleared out books I no longer need or refer to infrequently from my bookshelves in the office/guest room. I dedicated one shelf to the books I wanted to read immediately – well, as soon as possible, and took the rest that I wanted to keep to the bookshelves in the classroom office space. The others were stashed in a big bag to give away and the bag went into my car for delivery to Goodwill.

Since I work wireless. I kept one printer that only prints in black ink in my guest room office and moved the large, all-in-one color printer into a closet-like room with my file cabinets, paper cutter, and major supplies. This is near the classroom.


I start the morning in my upstairs office/guestroom. I work the classroom materials and the photographic project in the downstairs classroom office. This reduces my clutter and it allows me time to wake up and get moving without running upstairs and down.

I stopped checking my emails so often. First thing in the morning I open the three mail boxes while I have coffee, and I answer what I can answer, make a note of what I need to answer others. Then I leave the mail boxes alone until lunch time when I check for urgent messages and have some of the required information to answer other emails.

I updated my pending file and created one with a simple label: important miscellaneous. These are in a file stand this is placed close to my desk, as is my filling basket. I now do my filing once a week.


We know what is important and needs to be done. We know our priorities. The problem sometimes is how to attack them. For example, today I feel overwhelmed. I am a week late with this blog. I have a book that needs the final details attended to so it can be sent on its way to the next step in publication. I also accepted a request to write an 825-word article for publication, have a number of appointments scheduled in the next two weeks, and had begun writing a novel. There are also some family promises to keep. When overwhelmed I tend to do less than I could. Most times if I have an appointment, I don’t get involved in working with the more complex issues I have I in the office. I realize here is a big challenge for me to solve, the challenge of focus.

One thing about writers is that we can procrastinate so easily. Discipline is key. Sometimes it just flows and other times it doesn’t. We clean our desks and sharpen our pencils rather than sit down and look at that blank screen and just begin typing. The answer, of course, is to just to begin.

So, this morning I began by rescheduling a couple appointments so that I only had one day of them. I chose this blog as the first of the major things needing to be done because it felt like the simplest. I began it early in the morning and will let it set and proof read after lunch.

As to the other issues, which were bigger and more complex and overwhelming in themselves, I recognized that I needed to cut them into smaller bites. I could do one portion of the job. Looking at the book I found a major task was putting the work in the same font on the template for the size of the book I wanted to publish. At this stage I could use blank sheets for the table of contents, the recognition or thank you page, etc. I needed one more photo so sent a message to an acquaintance I know who photographs the area I am interested in and asked him if he had one, would he sell it for one time use and his price. One down, one organized in my mind and I will disregard the rest until the one I have in mind is done. I know “chunking” worked for me. I forget to apply it; I let myself get lost in the whole picture.

My Still to Accomplish:

I recognize that in this organization I still have areas to address. Yesterday I finished off the physical aspects of the office/guest room by ordering five linen boxes. They are 18 inches tall and will just fit under the 19 inch drop of the day bed in this room. This solves the problem of neatly hiding projects I am working on without additional furniture to hold them, and they finish off the day bed which has linen and tan upholstery. (Since this is my third guest room, it does not hold a regular bed.)

However, I have a major area still to address. Documents – how to store and save for easy access, where to save, how to keep current copy available and not confused with an older one. I need to learn to use the “cloud filing system” and get a new small external backup unit.

The nice thing is that I am sure as I engage these changes, new solutions will appear. If we have a resolution the first step is for us to what we can do to achieve it, not wait for the Universe to hand our desire to us on a silver platter.

Happy New Year Everyone!

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