The Better Organized Me

Though I did not write a post about New Year’s Resolutions, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have them.  It either means most of them are too mundane to bore you with, or that I am not really ready to commit to them–I will let you figure out which one is true.

One of these goals, which I am stating here, is the need to de-clutter and better organize my home environment.  Pretty much every drawer, closet, shelf, table top and floorspace needs some reorganization–from minor to full-blown, should be featured on television, kind of reorganization.

Yes, I’ve seen those shows, but they don’t really seem to inspire me.  They don’t speak to me.  If I put all my stuff in Rubbermaid containers, I’d forget they were there and I would probably go out and buy more of the same stuff when I couldn’t find it.

Just as an aside–don’t you wish they would go back to these homes that have been organized a year later to see if the people have kept up with what they promised?  I do?  I wish they just showed up one Saturday morning.  That expert who reorganized everything would probably break down and cry.

hobbydesk 001

My usual concept of organization. If I know where it is, I am pretty content.

hobbydesk 003

Trying to be better, functionally and aesthetically.

I am not terrible.  At times, I can organize.  The picture above is a before and after shot of my hobby desk.  As you can see, at times, I can make everything seem neat and tidy.  I just don’t know how long it will last.  I must admit, my ex-wife was much better at this than I was.  She appreciated organization from both a functional and aesthetic perspective.  I think I worked better under her directions.  Mostly, I just feel a bit overwhelmed and wonder where to start…then I check the computer for inspiration, see a couple of YouTube videos… then it’s time for bed.

I have bought lots of “organizers” or products that are supposed to make organizing things easier.  I have a file drawer for bills and receipts.  I have even gone paperless on some bills just to save the space.  None of it really seems to make a difference.

What I do know, making something a habit takes a month or so.  If you can do something for a month, then you can make it part of your routine.  (I learned this from a friend her on WP).  Unfortunately, I have to get everything organized before I can keep it organized.

The plan is to tackle one space, or one category a day (or every other day depending on how busy I am).  I say space because not everything that needs to be organized is a room.  My kitchen pantry needs an overhaul, but that really isn’t a room.  All my clothes need to assessed, folded and stored.  My bookshelves…. I could go on, but you get the point.

What I need from you people is two things.  One is advice.  I can’t guarantee I will follow any of it, but I will read it  The second is some accountability.  I need some of you to remind me of my plans, so that I will feel guilty enough to get it done.  Sorry to put this burden on you.

About Anthony

I am: equal parts rebel, romantic and shockingly average Joe. a writer trapped inside of an ESL teacher's body. an introverted attention seeker. a teacher who hopes one day to be called "Captain, my Captain." an intellectual who can do some very dumb things. a person whose Japan experience, despite being so long ago, still exerts a strong influence upon him. a lover of books, music, beer, hockey and Pizza.
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6 Responses to The Better Organized Me

  1. I am a master at organization. I mean a master. As high up the ranks as a Zen master in the East. It’s who I am and what I do. I’ve always been this way. Even as a child, if you opened my closets, cupboards or drawers, you’d find socks, toys, clothing, whatever tidy and organized. Some of it’s the German in me. 🙂 (My sister, on the other hand … Hurricane City!) I’ve long said that I’d have invented the phrase “everything has a place and everything in its place” if someone hadn’t beaten me to it!

    I’m an anti-clutter nazi. (A neat freak too!) I share all this not only to establish street cred but to extend my natural gifts and strengths to you. (I’ve also often thought about writing a book and/or opening my own business as an organizer and declutterer because soooooo many people have problems with this. I don’t. But I know from observing where it is most people stumble and what helps keep them moving forward.

    The hardest part for anyone going from slob (no offense) to organization and neatness rests not in your home. It’s in your mind. IT’s a way of thinking that is very very challenging to teach, harder still to implement and remain consistent with, as you’ve noted.

    Like a crime scene investigator, the first step, once the scene is surveyed, is to break it down into squares … elements … one area. Otherwise it feels overwhelming and you will not tackle it and will give up.

    With an area/room selected, the next step is to get yourself the appropriate DISPOSAL tools. Giant garbage bags. Those construction bags (from Home Depot) are fantastic because they don’t tear. You want big bags that won’t tear and will hold weight.

    Depending on the target area, you may also want boxes if the good in that area is earmarked for donations / thrift stores. Dishes, for example, electronics, glasses, many more items are better packed in boxes than bags.

    You push aside all the non-targeted crap to create a space for empty boxes and/or bags. Creating a dedicated tools space for the clean-up project is critical. It keeps it at the forefront of your psyche. It sends a message to the universe too that you mean business and are committed, come hell or high water or more than likely being drowned in your sea of stuff! Stuffing the bags back under a sink or boxes in a garage out of view only ADDS to the problem you’re trying to resolve.

    Next, you assign each box or bag a purpose.

    This bag is for Trash. A bag for Recycling (papers, etc. if your area has such service). A bag for Goodwill – thrift stores. And a bag for Keep.

    Now comes the hardest part for me (not me though!!) You become ruthlessly practical. You do not let sentiment get in your way. Now, notice I do not say become heartless. No no.

    The four BIGGEST traps for people are these:
    1. Futuristic. But I might need this some day. I’ll wear this when I lose 10 pounds. Etc. Etc.
    2. Sentiment. Oh, but my mother gave me that. I can’t get rid of that. My daughter (who is now 32) made that when she was 8. Etc. Et.
    3. Blindness to true value. Holding onto papers, files, receipts, goods that have no value out of laziness or carelessness or not taking the time to examine each one to determine whether it needs to be kept.
    4. Accessibility. If I toss or donate this and then find I do genuinely need it again down the road, can I get another.

    You take EVERY ITEM in the target area and determine which of the three classes above it falls into. The process from this point forward gets increasingly refined. What does that mean? It means …. let me cite an example.

    I’ve made many many moves with only what I can get into my car (Subaru so not a truck or SUV!). That means that what travels with me is ONLY what matters truly matters. There’s a little room for sentiment but NOT MUCH!! And nothing goes that hasn’t been subjected to examination. That includes every piece of paper. Every single item, down to a tiny bracelet, is examined by the loose guidelines above.

    Now, I have a power drill. Still in the original box (because I’m that organized). It is extremely useful. Nothing can replicate a power drill’s functions when a drill is needed — though I’ve certainly done substitutes with a rock and nail to create a hole in a wall! Now, I had to weigh the value of a power drill against the space — which is at a TRUE premium — in the car. After considerable consideration, I decided that the value of having a power drill was worth the space it took.

    That’s my Power Drill Litmus Test. I still have that drill. It has a dedicated space in a box that goes with me move to move in my Subaru.

    Do likewise in your space. Truly WEIGH the value of an item in your life. Item by item. I’m confident you’ll find that as you go through the target area, you’ll find many more items getting tossed in the designated Trash and Go-to-Goodwill bags than you predict!

    A good stopping point here, methinks. Your project isn’t finished. That’s stage I and II. It’s a step-by-step process and must be undertaken as such. If not, I can assure you with rock-solid certainty: Nothing will change. The crap and stuff will go nowhere. You will go nowhere in your endeavors — and land right back where you were.

    Questions? Feel free to ask. (Once stages I and II are accomplished, I’ll proceed to the Completion States III and IV.) Good luck!

    Ms. Meticulous 🙂

  2. p.s. sorry for the typos! — the price paid for not editing or reviewing before posting. 🙂

  3. Where is the model on the workbench? Just kidding. It always feels great to have a clean workbench. Looks good!

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