No. 25

The Art of Curation

For the last two months, I’ve been working on a new skill — curation — and I’ve been applying it to everything. I think it’s easy to feel overwhelmed in our information rich world and with new content being created and stories being told everyday, just consuming it all can feel like a full time job. Since beginning to practice curating everything in my life, I’ve noticed I have more time for myself and for other people. But it’s really hard to live the adage “less is more” because, well, doesn’t more always feel like more? Of course, in reducing the amount of stuff both physically and mentally in my life, I have found there is more space in my life for intangibles: laughter, creativity, serenity, time.

Here are the questions I asked myself to help me manage my three biggest curations as of late.

My Closet

1. Do I love it? If not, into the bag it went.

2. Does it look awesome on me? No? Bye! I don’t want to live my life in clothing that doesn’t make me look and feel like a goddess.

3. Does it reflect the style I want to have in my life right now? It may be cute and comfortable and I might even love it in some ways, but if the hoodie I bought 5 years ago doesn’t reflect me now, it doesn’t get to stay.

4. Have I worn it in the last year (or two)? I often seen the question asked “Have I worn this in the last 6 months?” I think all those people must be Californians because anyone who lives in a place with four seasons knows it may be a year before you wear something again. I’m not donning any winter sweaters in summer just to justify keeping them.

My Google Reader

Oh, this one was positively torturous to do. I love reading blogs, but my Reader had gotten out of control and I found that I was frequently so overwhelmed, I would just hit the “Mark All As Read” button and spend the rest of the day trying to convince myself I wasn’t a bad person.

1. Does this blog feed my creativity? Does it give me new ideas? These questions have very individualized answers. I’m not crafty, so looking at blogs that show me how to make pillows myself doesn’t really thrill me. But ones that spark writing ideas? Yes, please.

2. Does this inspire me? Inspiration is the key. I want to feel like I’m a more knowledgeable, more capable person after reading a post. I want posts that set me on fire, that make me want to go out and do awesome things.

3. Do I know the blogger? While there are many bloggers who I have met in person, there are many others I haven’t but feel we would be fast friends if we did meet. It’s not about face to face time for me, but how much people inject themselves into their blog. My favorite thing about blogging has been the connections with people I make, from reading blogs to email conversations that have started in comments. So I didn’t feel like I knew the blogger in some way, I asked myself to let it go.

My projects

After returning from the World Domination Summit, I realized I had an overabundance of projects I was working on. And having so many meant that I never succeeded in doing real work on any single one. I would just flit from one thing to the next. I decided if I wanted to be successful with the ones that mattered, something needed to change.

1. Does it light my fire? If I wasn’t excited to do it, it went. That included exercise I didn’t enjoy, side employment that made me a bit of extra cash, and even (gulp) my food blog. (While food does light my fire in some ways, trying to blog about it 5 days a week never did.)

2. Does it feed into my purpose? If it didn’t resonate with what I’m meant to do in the world or what I want to be doing in a year or in 5+ years, it went or at least was tabled for the future. I needed a cupcake by the time I was done, but prioritizing my projects has really helped me manage my time better.

Do you curate on a regular basis? What are you an expert at? What type of curating do you know you need to do but wish you had help with? I always get pumped when I hear stories about how people have simplified, don’t you?

{split image of Laurel Denise’s 2013 planner — a super awesome way to curate your time}

About brandi

Brandi is a digital strategist, website developer, and founder of Alchemy+Aim, a company that helps entrepreneurs and business owners elevate their online presence and enhance their digital experience. Her academic background in theatre, philosophy and physics was the perfect foundation for launching her business, where she’s worked with Brené Brown, Laverne Cox, Judy Smith, and other notable thought leaders since 2013. She is an advocate for using technology in ways that humanize, connect and serve people as well as for asking deeper philosophical questions and teaching others to think more broadly about impact when they create, particularly in STEAM fields.

43 thoughts on “The Art of Curation

  1. This is a rich way to manage your life. And I love that you have managed to simplify it and yet, still enjoy it. These are all great tips. Thanks for sharing!

  2. These are great questions and ones we should probably all ask ourselves. I like that you call it curating, too, which to me encompasses so much more than just simplifying or organizing.

    1. Thanks, Anna! Curating is the way to approach everything, I think — it certainly has forced me to ask really hard deep questions about the way I do things.

  3. I planned on curating my closet this weekend. That didn’t happen sadly but it’s going to! I curate bookmarks on my computer and blogs that I read every once in awhile – that’s the hardest thing to do because I’d like to visit everyone!

      1. Almost the same way with clothes except it’s “if you haven’t visited it in 3 months, then delete the bookmark.” It’s tough because some sites are really really cool but if I don’t visit them, then it’s just cluttering up my favourites

  4. I must say that I love all of this and will be bookmarking this to reference back to. I’m not going to touch my closet anytime soon (I’m excited to get back into normal clothes, whether I love them or not at this point) but I know I will be in a few months. I would also love to examine how I spend my free time. Too often it is doing things I only kind of enjoy and too rarely is it doing things I love!

    xoxo

    1. Kate, please do tell me how examining your free time goes. I know there are some programs out there to help with that, but I’m curious to know how you end up doing it — and the results.

      And definitely that “have you worn it in 6 months” rule would never work for you, being in maternity clothes right now. Don’t touch that closet for several months.

  5. Oh boy. This is something I have been meaning to do all summer, and now I’m down to just two weeks! I always feel so much better when I have simplified things. I think I’ll work on my desk today, and my closet tomorrow. The playroom will be next! {too. many. toys.}

    Somehow I need to fit this in with getting ready for school, training for Run for the Cure, and keep those boys of mine busy. I don’t think we can squeeze in skype before you go, so will have to look forward to a good long chat when you return from Scotland! I cannot wait to hear all about your adventures…

    1. Do you think it would help to get your boys involved in simplifying things in the playroom? Can you donate the toys somewhere in the area? Maybe they’d help you reduce even more than you could on your own if they knew it’d be helping someone. Just a thought…

  6. Love these tips, Brandi! Especially about the blog ones. And the closet tips… goodness I really need to take those tips into heart.

    ps… I hope I never fall into the ‘mark as read’ category. I often create my posts with you in mind.

  7. This is fantastic and timely advice. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately and am now going to ask myself some of these questions. Thank you!

  8. A few months ago, I started freelancing at a social media start up that specialized in helping people curate their styles and look book. It’s a bit of a stretch, but it certainly made me think about how I organize my life, my time and my closet. I do like your idea of examining and re-examining things and tasks in your life though :) Do keep us posted with your curation!

    1. What an interesting idea to create a look book! I’ve been trying to do something similar with my personal style and a Pinterest board.

  9. great post….and great job at being intentional. i’m trying to do this, on some levels, too. i’m always hitting “mark all as read,” and i just can’t seem to find the extra time to read blogs like i want to. i’m trying to work that into my schedule because i do so enjoy a great blog. i’m so glad that you’ve been able to see some great results in that there is more time to laugh, create and so on!
    xo . trina

  10. Oh this was a wonderful post! And exactly what I’ve been trying to do. It’s a bit scary to suddenly realize how much you love stuff and how hard it is to throw or give them away. Even if you have piles of things you don’t need. But when you manage to do it, it’s wonderful how light it makes you feel!

    So thanks for giving me more inspiration! Maybe I could check at least my clothes once again… :)

    1. Kirsikka, a fun way to tackle that closet again: invite a friend over, open a bottle of wine, and make it fun! Sometimes the extra opinion about what to keep or donate makes a huge difference.

  11. More is more for sure… After the big move I really want to live free of stuff… I don’t have a cell phone yet and I’m dreading that they will give me one at my job. Anyways, good for you my dear… The clutter clouds your vision! Haha!

  12. so freeing, isn’t it? I’ve been pretty good about this lately and it feels wonderful. It’s funny how it affects everything–a few weeks back I walked through the house removing objects off tabletops/dressers/counters yearning for more open, empty space. haven’t had the desire to fill it back up since.

  13. It’s like you always read my mind! I think we’re synced or something. I’m going through a bit of an overall upheaval lately in the lead up to my trip home and two things that are totally getting hit are my reader and closet.

    In fact, I’ll be writing a blog post about my closet soon!

  14. I’m so grateful for this post! That’s exactly what I need… I’ve bookmarked it to read it once and again to remind me that “less is more”.
    Thank you Brandi once again for sharing, your blog is a great inspiration.

  15. Can I just say how helpful this post is? I’m tacking exactly this – well, not so much the blogging part, but definitely the closet and the projects. Last weekend I had someone help me go through a bunch of stuff I’ve been meaning to file/pitch/organize forever. I felt so much better afterwards! Now I’m preparing for a yard sale and have to tackle my closet – your pointers on how to approach that are exactly what I needed!

    p.s. I got an awesome candlestick holder in the mail yesterday. Yay! Thank you :)

  16. I love cleaning out my closet. I usually get more satisfaction out of that than a shopping trip. I also just ordered that planner – it’s perfect for how I organize my days/weeks/months. Thank you. ;)

  17. This is awesome! I wish I saw this sooner, like before packing up my closet! No worries, because it will help when I unpack my closet. Thank you!

  18. this is something that i need to practice more. at heart i am an aspiring simple living person. i have really been paying attention to what i am giving my attention to these days and scaling back. reading your post{and talking with you} i am really inspired to scale back my closet and to get rid of some things that don’t suit me. i can never read blogs like i want to and try to keep it down to just the ones that light a fire in me..love that imagery.

  19. Curation has been my goal of the year, so I loved this post! So far, so good: I’ve echoed many of your rules for closet purging, and even made my way over to household knickknacks and kitchen items. It’s really freeing to have only things that I like around.

    Getting rid of unhealthy friendships has been essential. Sometimes, it’s necessary. And, I keep being surprised by the great things that replace the things/activities/people that need to be purged.

    Thanks for the post!

  20. I LOVE this post, Brandi, and it never occurred to me to think of this process as ‘curating.’ What a great concept – I need to think of my life and my home as a museum and surround myself with only the best of the best. Really challenging for me to put into practice, though, as I tend to hang onto clutter!

  21. I so badly need to do this. Especially when it comes to Google Reader. When they make an online version of “Hoarders,” I just know I’ll be a prime candidate.

  22. I was inspired by your outlook and did a little curating of my closet and project list. It felt liberating to have a few simple criteria and discard the things that did not match up. I have a feeling this well make packing for my upcoming apt move much smoother and help to not get too involved in projects that don’t match my goals. Thanks for sharing, Brandi!

  23. This post is perfect Brandi, and exactly what I need right now. School has started for the kiddos and I am feeling a little overwhelmed by all the things on my list (that was pretty much empty a few weeks ago). Your last one is going to be applied to my evening ‘down time’ when I try to accomplish a million things in a half-assed way and then end up frittering away time on the internet. Yay – and thanks!

  24. Pingback: But We Will Stay

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Credits

Jane Reaction

(logo and original branding) is a graphic design and art director who works with with small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, creating cohesive and interesting brands and websites.

Carrie Coleman

(photography) is a wedding photographer, whose goal is to capture the visual expression of a couple's love through timeless, organic images. She is based in Charlottesville, Virginia.