mom who works

the joys and challenges of being a working mom trying to find "balance"

Organization for the nail polish obsessed April 15, 2013

Never in a million years did I think I would own so many nail polishes. But once my collection got over 20, I realized I needed to find a way to keep track of what colors I had so I could avoid purchasing duplicates and just because I’m kind of an organized person anyway it just seemed like something I needed to do.


So I started first with a spreadsheet. I chose to include columns such as Brand, Color Name, Collection, Year, LE (Limited Edition), Color Family, Color Tone, Formula, Untried?, Swatch (link to a photo of my swatch on Google Drive), and Others in Collection I Don’t Have.

I save this out to my Google Drive, in a folder aptly titled “Nails” which includes the aforementioned photographs, as well as another spreadsheet I keep with my base coat/top coat experiment (that’s a different post altogether).

Nail Polish Spreadsheet

The spreadsheet works great for keeping lots of detail about polishes, and for quickly sorting by brand or by color. But it’s not great in terms of seeing at a glance what the colors are, or what colors go good with other colors in terms of mani-pedi combos, etc. So for that I turned to swatch spoons.


I love these clear plastic swatch spoons. You can find them in packs of 50 on Ebay from a number of different sellers for less than $10 a package. I purchased mine from sunwebhome, who I would recommend, although I don’t know that they always have these available. Price is good, communication is good, the only thing is these are shipped straight from China so it can take several weeks to receive them. You can search on words like “nail art tips stick polish” to see what’s out there.

swatch spoons pink red orangeswatch spoons green blue brown grey black

The first thing I do when I bring home a new polish is paint the swatch spoon. I always do two coats, and top it with one of my less preferred top coats for protection and to give the look that I would expect to see on the nail. I now have these organized on large, 2-inch binder rings by color family – whites and pinks, reds/oranges/vamps, blues and greens, purples/greys/blacks. It allows me to quickly flip through and “test” a color on my nail or as a mani-pedi combination.


Nail Polish App screenshotFinally, for the best of both worlds on the go, I recently downloaded the FREE Nail Polish Book app for iPhone.

This app is AWESOME. It allows you to sort quickly by brand, name, color or collection. You can “flip” though the photographs just like many of the carousel-like photo apps you’ll find for iPhone, and you can even search by name, brand or collection. This is invaluable when you’re at the store considering a purchase, and aren’t sure if you’ve purchased that color before or if you have a dupe already.

I actually just upload my swatch photos (the ones I keep in my Google Drive), rather than bottle shots, so I can see how it looks with my skintone. I tend to take the photo with my iPhone anyway, so it is a quick and easy step to just add the photo from my Photo library into the Nail Polish Book.

So those are some of the tools and tricks I use to try to keep organized with this fun hobby. How about you? What kinds of things do you do to keep organized?


Swatch spoons! July 8, 2012

Filed under: beauty,organization & productivity — Deborah @ 8:14 am
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swatch spoons pink red orange

swatch spoons green blue brown grey black

I finally got my clear swatch spoons, and as it so happens, I had a free hour and a half hanging out with my daughter to swatch my polishes. I was able to swatch out everything I currently have, and I’ve even prepped blank spoons with labels for the ones that I am waiting for in nail mail (and for the Fall 2012 Chanel arrivals at my local Chanel counter next week). I only have about 50 polishes at the moment, and my “philosophy,” if you can have such a thing, is to avoid having color duplicates in my stash, for the most part anyway. We’ll see how well my resolve holds up as Chanel introduces their new colors. It’s definitely not my goal to just have lots of polish, but I will actually admit here that I am a huge Chanel collector, so that may be the only brand that I may be tempted to purchase most, if not all, of the polishes as they are released.

Anyway, it feels good to have these as a tool, not only for reference and choosing a particular mani or pedi color, but also for future color comparisons. What about you? Do you swatch your stash or just let it grow organically?


An organized life? January 17, 2010

I have been in my new job now for about a month and a half, and I find myself floundering not in the job itself, but in how to keep myself organized and on top of the 100+ different things I am responsible for.

The issue is that I have the memory of a gnat, so I’ve learned to become a creator of lists. If it’s not written on a list, it’s gone from my brain as quickly as it enters it, and never gets done (just ask hubby!). I’ve been an avid user of PDAs for about 100 years now, starting with my Palm III through to the Treo 650, then to Blackberry, iPhone and back to Blackberry again. For about the last 10 years I’ve used Outlook at work, and got quite good at using customizing Outlook’s “task” function (which always synced with my current PDA at the time) so that I always had my various lists both on my computer and synced to my handheld. I had a system and I had it down pat. I was the epitome of organization.

Cut to the new job. Which I love by the way. But they use Lotus Notes. Yes, you heard right, LOTUS NOTES. Now I’m sure for all the IT techy geeks out there there is some great and cool reason why a huge organization such as my current employer would choose to go with such a clunky, kludgy, mid-90s-ish enterprise email/contact/calendar system as Notes. But for me, I have just one thing to say about it – Notes SUCKS.

Let’s just say Notes To Do function is useless. I’ve been trying for the last 6 weeks to get Notes to work with my previous “system” of managing my tasks, and the bloody thing just won’t cooperate. To give you just a small flavor for how much Lotus Notes SUCKS – it can’t print out a task list. I’m dead serious.

Oooh, I sound like a whiny baby, don’t I. Sorry.

Image of Moleskine from

Image from

So on to some possible solutions. I had just started subscribing to Lifehack, when I saw this post by Dustin Wax on how he sets up his Moleskine. And I was all like, “Moleskine? What the heck is that?”

Turns out that Moleskine is a company that makes these really high-quality, hardbound notebooks. And what I found out is there is this whole cultish devotion to these simple, yet elegant tools.

There’s the Monster Collection of Moleskine Tips and Hacks, How to Make a Moleskine PDA, Moleskinerie, and much, much more. Just Google “moleskine” or “moleskine hack” and you’ll see what I mean. Even anti-Moleskine posts have cropped up to try and combat the onslaught of love the world has heaped upon this simple notebook.

I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the possibility of going back to an analog task management system, not unlike my first job out of college where I got hooked on the Franklin Planner system (before it became Franklin/Covey and got all spiritual on me). Since my first Palm III in the early 1990s I’ve been digital and never looked back. But I am beginning to think that going old-fashioned may be the way to go.

In either case, I need to get there quick because the email and tasks are piling up.