Sabotage

Getting organized is not an easy thing. It takes time, effort, and focus.  Staying organized is much easier, right?  Not really.  The problem is that some people make a huge effort to get organized but then slowly chip away at that progress until they feel that it’s not worth it.

Here are four ways you may be sabotaging yourself:

  1. Incomplete projects. You tell yourself that you’ll clean out the closet. You pull everything out, sort through it, and decide what you’ll keep, donate, and throw away.  All the things you want to keep go in the closet, the things you want to throw away go in the trash, and then the things you want to donate…sit in a pile on the floor…for months.  This is actually pretty common.  People get a project 90% complete and then it just loses its momentum. There’s a wall that you hit and if you don’t push through it, your project will stay incomplete. Check out this article on organizing your closet by Real Simple here.
  2. It’s all about the little things.  You feel that you almost have an organized home but there just seems to be stuff, little things, everywhere. No, there are not little elves rearranging your stuff when you’re asleep. You’re just not putting everything back where it goes every time.  If you make the time to designate a place for something, you have to commit to putting there after each use.
  3. Putting things where they look good but don’t help you. You are unique and so are your things. When considering how to organize your space, put things you use the most in the spots that you can get to easiest.  Also, determine how you use the item most and put it where it makes sense based on that use of the item.  For example, if you always go through your mail while sitting on the couch watching TV., put your letter opener in the drawer of your side table, not on your desk.
  4. Quantity over quality. Only keep things in quantities that make sense for their use.  Owning four cheap screwdrivers over one really quality screwdriver is not good for you and your organizational system.  If you have a collection, such postcards from places you’ve been, make sure they are displayed with care and that each have that special meaning for you. P.S. In most cases, you will not have a collection of screwdrivers (just in case you’re trying to figure out how to keep them all.)

And that’s a few ways you could be getting in your own way when it comes to organizing!

Getting and staying organized is no easy task, the last thing you want to do in hinder your ability to be successful.  Set up a system for you and not for anyone else. Be deliberate in the placement of items and get rid of the extras that are getting in your way. Be aware and be quick to change things that don’t work of you and your system. Be organized. Be happy.

 

The Total Woman

It’s 8:45 on a Saturday morning and twenty women have gathered in a training room on loan from a local bank. They’re here to attend The Total Woman Workshop and Luncheon. There’s a lot of talking, hugging, and introductions but everyone is a friend, colleague, or relative and the connections are obvious.

The Business and Professional Women’s  group (http://arkansasbpw.yolasite.com)  has been putting on this event for eight years which allows women to talk to women about issues that affect women. The subjects are interesting and varied: advice to achieve success, voting, depression, auto-immune disease, and then Organization: The Key to Success in Life by yours truly.

I am pretty anxious about speaking. I have my speech typed up but then there are blue ink marks and additions all over – like I’m going to remember that when I get up in front of these ladies! I am the luncheon speaker, the last presenter and competing with food for their attention. Who can compete with food?! I worry about how I look, that I am making enough eye contact, and if my face is flushed. It happens no matter what and when I think about it, I blush even more. The one thing I am not worried about is what I want to say.

I talk about organizing being a difficult process and how someone can only  be successful if she thinks about who she truly is and where her short comings are and organize for that. Not to organize based on what’s on Pinterest or HGTV, but to organize in a way that supports and makes life easier for the individual works best. I say that sometimes that means having hard conversations about priorities and goals.

I have them do an exercise on classifying something they brought with them. The idea is that everything we own is either a Treasure, Toy, Tool, or Trash depending on the emotion tied to that item and how functional it is. Surprisingly, we have a conversation about cell phones – I say mine is a Toy, I love it and it’s functional. Another woman says that she just thinks of it as a tool – no love there. That’s the point though, everyone is different.

I finish my presentation and ask if there are any questions. To me, this is where you can tell if you did well. If there are lots of comments and questions, it means they were paying attention and were interested in what you said and want to continue the conversation.  I get a lot of questions, good questions, which makes me feel my presentation was strong.

Afterwards, I still have women come up and make comments, show me pictures, and thank me for coming.  I hand out a few business cards, but honestly I feel like I’m the one who learned something valuable today.  These women come in all different shapes and sizes, ages and colors, interests and backgrounds.  The common thing is desire: to be a better person, to interact with others and learn from them, and to share experiences. The complete package with female flair is The Total Woman.

That ship has sunk.

Whenever I used to get rid of something, the first thing that always, always would come to my mind was how much I paid for it.  And if the thing I wanted to go was expensive – shoo – it was a discussion with myself about wasting money. Like this runner.

table runner-dresser

 

This simple, creased runner traveled from an apartment to a house. It’s covered a table, this dresser, another dresser, been boxed up, and forgotten.  Why would I cart this around? There’s nothing particularly special about it.  The truth is that it matched lots of things, I couldn’t sell it at a garage sale, and by golly I paid full price for it! I ended up giving the runner away to a friend who then got rid of it too but not before I learned two valuable lessons.

Lesson One: I don’t actually like runners.  They are adjacent to doilies and my mom (and her mom) love doilies.  If you don’t know what a doily is, google it – I’ll wait.  Okay, you’re back and yes I appreciate your sympathy. I still have the occasional nightmare of going to dust an end table and the dust matches the doily pattern.

Lesson Two: Sunk Cost. A sunk cost is a cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered. (My college economics teacher would be so proud of me.) Once you have purchased something, (and no longer have the option to return it for a full refund) the cost of the item cannot be recovered.

But Jennifer, you could sell it and recoup the money that way! No, not really.  Let’s say that I bought the runner for $20. After using it minimally in the apartment, I packed it up and hired movers to move it (along with the rest of my household things) to the new house.  There I used it sporadically, storing it more often than displaying it.  When it got to the garage sale phase, I spent time making a price tag ($3.00) for it and trying to sell it on a cloudy, cold Saturday morning.

Had I sold it for $3.00, all that really means is that I would have covered the cost to pack it, store it, price it, and time spent trying to sell it.  None of the original cost.  Sooooo, yeah.

But Jennifer, my things are antiques! If they truly are, then you may make back your initial purchase.  Let’s be honest though; most of the items that people consider getting rid of are not antiques — they’re tchotchkes. I’ll wait while you google that term. Annnnnd, we’re back!  You are right, tchotchkes is a really interesting word for junk!

When it is time to get let go of something, please don’t waste time on trying to recoup some far gone cost.  Instead, think about what you got out of the item while you owned it.  More often than not, you got your value out of it.

Unless it’s a doily.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ode to my blue jeans

Blue jeans, oh blue jeans.

Why’d you have to get so tight?

You were my favorite pair

and now you don’t fit quite right.

 

Blue jeans, lovely blue jeans.

Maybe I’ll just wait a while.

Surely I’ll drop a few pounds.

Just let me live here in denial.

 

Blue jeans, lonely blue jeans.

Relegated to the high shelf.

Just sitting there collecting dust,

much like that Christmas elf.

 

Blue jeans, old blue jeans.

I waited too long a time.

Stored you, moved you, wasted space,

it should have been a crime.

 

Blue jeans, donated blue jeans.

Much better with you gone.

Feeling lighter, wardrobe smaller.

A good way to end this song.

 

Seriously, don’t hold onto something because it may fit one day or come back in style one day.  Donate it; there is someone who can wear it and does need it. Today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dive In

As kids, most of us did not put much thought into the planning part of an activity. Deep end of the pool?  Cannonball!  New board game? Let’s dump it all out on the floor and go from there.

As adults, I think we sometimes put too much planning into an activity, so much so that the planning of an activity becomes its own activity.  This can happen a lot in organizing. People try to plan each detail beforehand, and then they get overwhelmed and never actually start. Others have absolutely no idea where to begin and give up.  The kid-you would be ashamed!  The kid-you would tell the you-you to get on it and just DIVE IN.

As most people read this, they will have an area in mind. For some it will be the pantry,  and for others it will be the attic or garage. For me, it was the spare bedroom closet complete with a hodge-podge of things that didn’t go anywhere else like luggage, golf clubs, the vacuum cleaner, etc. I hated that closet. I could feel it laughing at me, taunting me. Then, one day I went in there to get something and just started pulling everything out!  I would love to say that it was easy and that all it took was just getting started but alas, no.  What I can say is that there is a time when this approach is the best thing as long as you keep a few things in mind.

1. You will create a big mess. One look around may have you heading for the door, but you can do it.
2. A little patience is required. You might be tempted to throw away or donate all of it. Be careful. I have taken this road and gotten rid of something precious by mistake.
3. Keep in mind your end goal. Is it getting organized, purging unwanted things, or just figuring out what you have?
4. When you begin to put things back in place, always keep the most frequently used items in the handiest spots.
5. Do not give up! Power through until all of it is put back into place (or the donate pile or the trash).  Most often, if you take a break and then try to come back to it, say tomorrow, it won’t happen.

Go! Dive in!

What’s it worth to you?

Imagine that you got paid to be you.  Not work you, but personal you.  For simplicity’s sake,  let’s posit that you make $20 an hour when you are at home – doing the dishes, watching TV – whatever you do when you are at home. Your time is worth $20 an hour in this scenario.

In this scenario that also means you would be paid $20/hour to: look for your keys, dig through clothes you don’t want to get to the ones you do, search through the random papers on your desk for a bank statement, or shuffle around the kitchen looking for your special coffee mug.  How much time do you spend (waste) on those activities?  An hour a month? An hour a week? What if it’s an hour a day?  Is it worth it?  That’s a lot of questions.

I would prefer to be paid $20 to drink a cup of coffee by the window looking at the sunshine and petting my cat rather than looking for the cup. You may think to yourself that it’s not that bad, but if you quantify it in money, how bad is it really?  Do you throw out $20 a day? We both know that you are not going to take a twenty dollar bill out of your wallet and throw it in the trash.  And yet, that’s what you’re doing when you waste time looking for, digging through, searching out, etc.

Picture your day: You get up, get dressed, go to work, come home, pay bills, make dinner, and watch TV.  Basic day.

Now picture this day:  You get up and dig through your closet. You want to wear that shirt, but it has a hole in the arm, so you would have to wear a cardigan to cover it up. You can’t wear those pants, they’re a little sung and that shirt wouldn’t hide that.  Finally, you get dressed, but you don’t really feel like you’re rocking that look today.  You go to work, remember that you have an important meeting, and think “Damn, I wish I felt better about my appearance today.”  You come home from work and sit down at your desk to pay bills.  First, you need to organize these papers. Crap, is that a bank statement from two months ago?  Did I balance the checkbook?  I can’t pay the bills until I balance the checkbook.  Are these all the bills that need to be paid?  You feel like you’re missing one, but you can’t quite put your finger on it.  Your stomach starts growling, and a look at the clock shows it’s 7:30.  You haven’t started dinner yet and you’re starving. You decide to make a salad, but you can’t find the vegetable peeler for the carrots. You use a knife to peel the carrots, which is messy, and then you cut yourself.  After huffing around the kitchen, you eat your damn salad and then just go to bed. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

It probably sounds more dramatic than what actually happens, but if you are not organized, this is what your day could look like.  Everyday.

Recycle Me, Recycle Me Not

When you are organizing your abode, you will eventually get to the kitchen. If you are a tree hugging, earth-lovin’, save the planet hippie (like me), then you recycle. And I applaud you.

The problem some people have is that they don’t know what they can recycle, when they can recycle, and where they can recycle. Since Organize This AR is located in Northwest Arkansas (Hallelujah!), the focus of the recycling research was in the four major cities that make up this area: Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, and Bentonville.

Using the information from each city’s website, I determined who had the best recycling program for you. This was based on locations, hours of service, and what you could recycle and of course, my own opinion.

BEST

Fayetteville –

Fayetteville has a bin program, so if you live in a 1-4 family residence (basically anything that’s not an apartment) you get a bin to put your recyclables in and you set it by the curb once a week for pick up.  Yay!  But what if you live in an apartment, condo, or dormitory?  Well that’s okay, they have two locations for dropping off recyclable materials! Double Yay!  One site, located on North Street, is open Monday through Saturday 6:00 am to 5:00 pm. The other facility, while not necessarily in a convenient location on Happy Hollow Road in South Fayetteville, is open 24-hours. All the normal recyclable items are accepted: Plastics #1 and 2, newspaper, cardboard, office paper and junk mail, aluminum and tin cans, and glass bottles and jars. 3 ☆ http://www.fayetteville-ar.gov/531/Recycling-Trash-Service

Rogers –

Rogers also has curbside recycling, in addition to one location that you can drop off your recyclable materials.  The drop off center is a little out of the way on N Arkansas St but it is open 24-hours a day for normal recyclable items.  The facility also has regular hours Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and Saturdays 8:00 am to noon.  You can use these hours if you have questions or need help.  Rogers accepts the following items: plastics #1 and 2, newspaper, cardboard, magazines, catalogs, phone books, office paper and junk mail, chipboard, aluminum and tin cans, styrofoam, and glass bottles and jars.  2 1/2 ☆ http://rogersar.gov/401/Rogers-Recycling-Center

Bentonville –

Three for three! Bentonville also has curbside recycling. In fact, the city gives you two carts!  If you need to take your recycling, there is a trailer on site at the city’s Compost Facility.  The facility is open Tuesday through Saturday 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.  Bentonville’s recycle list is a little more extensive than the other cities: aluminum cans, trays, and foil, plastics # 1 and 2, newspaper, cardboard, brown paper bags, magazines, catalogs, phone books, office paper and junk mail, chipboard, paperback books, and electronics.   2 1/2 ☆ http://www.bentonvillear.com/departments/utility-billing-collections/solid-waste-recycling/recycling-program

WORST

Springdale –

What is this city thinking?!?  The recycling is out sourced to Boston Mountain Solid Waste, which has multiple drop off places but only on Monday and Thursday 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. What!?  They accept most of the normal recyclables: plastics # 1 and 2, newspaper, cardboard, magazines, catalogs, phone books, office paper and junk mail, chipboard, and aluminum and tin cans. This does depend on what drop off spot you go to – check their map first.  No ☆  http://www.springdalear.gov/department/public_works_(street_department)/household_hazardous_waste_disposal.php

That’s it folks! Let’s save the planet and hope that some of our cities catch up. ♻️

 

 

 

To Toss or Not to Toss

If that’s your question, the short answer is yes.

It’s easier to organize less than more. Duh.

Unfortunately, the long answer as to whether you should chuck out that macrame plant holder is … long.  It’s also very individual to each person.  Consider this:

  1. Do I use it/wear it regularly?  Some people turn their hangers backward for a specific period of time and then get rid of items that haven’t been worn. While this is a proven method, it takes something I have little of – time and patience.  Something I prefer to do is to go into the closet and shop.  Seriously, go into your closet and act as if you were out shopping – would you buy your clothes now? If not, they go. For those of you who are saving things for someday – it ain’t coming.  Live for today not, someday.
  2. Can it be scanned? Don’t keep paper just to keep the paper.   If it can be scanned and stored on a flash drive or electronically like Google Drive or Dropbox, do it.
  3. Do you have more than one? I’ve lived overseas several times and had accumulated a lot of memorabilia.  At one point, I had about ten beer steins from Germany.  Now, I love Germany – and beer. But will I remember my time in Germany better by having ten steins or will two do the job?  Think about your items, do they each have a story or do they tell the same story?
  4. Does it fit? Not just clothing, but everything?  Does your stuff fit your life?
  5. Are you keeping it because of guilt?  This is a big one.  My family doesn’t understand that I don’t want things.  I still get Christmas presents or birthday presents. I get handed down things from older family members because they don’t want it anymore but they would feel guilty just throwing it out (and because they love me, of course).  Here is where you truly have to be honest with yourself and others.  Some people will tell you that the person who gave it to you won’t notice it’s gone.  Yes, they will.  Then you have to have a whole second conversation about why you couldn’t be honest in the first place.  Don’t keep anything in your life because you would feel guilty getting rid of it or you will resent it.

These are just a few things to ask yourself when deciding whether you should get rid of something.  When you do decide to rid yourself of unwanted items, DO NOT throw them away! Donate, recycle, repurpose!  Just because you don’t want it doesn’t mean someone doesn’t need it or would appreciate it.

Now, go forth and ditch those unwanted possessions!!

 

Should vs Will

When talking about organization, and actually a lot of different things, I notice people struggle with the issue of should vs will.

The concept is simple. People think, I should: have this, do this, be this.  Well, I call bull#$%t.  Anything in your life that you refer to as “should” is probably not rooted in a need (or a love) for that thing.  Instead, ask yourself “Will”.  Will I: use this, be good at this, need this? Or better yet, ask “Will this make my life easier, happier, or better?”

You see examples of this every day.  There’s that person who owns a house way too big for her needs simply because she makes more money, so she SHOULD have a bigger house.  And there’s the person who can’t get rid of that crockpot because she SHOULD own one since everyone does. (I do not.)

Let’s look at it the other way.  The person who makes more money acknowledges that she don’t need more space and a bigger house BUT she will have some fabulous vacations!  The person with the crockpot acknowledges that she will never use the crockpot because leaving something on and cooking all day while she is at work is insane.  (Ahem, just my take.)

Apply this to being organized. If you know that you put everything down as soon as you come in the door and then worry about it later – PUT YOUR ORGANIZATIONAL SYSTEM AT THE FRONT DOOR.  A shelving unit, letter holder, or a meticulous coat closet organizational system should be right where you need it.  Be honest with yourself. What type of person are you?

I am the type of person who keeps every receipt for at least two months, no matter how useful it is.  I know this and I have a box, with a lid, that I just toss every receipt in, and then every few months I throw some of them out.

Look around your house or your office. Is everything convenient for you? Does everything come together to make your life easier? If  not, why not? Why are your things not working for you and your lifestyle?

Except crockpots, they’re just weird.

Things I lost in the fire

Most of the time when people ask how I stay organized, I usually refer to my childhood. I am a military brat, my father served in the Army.  We moved around and traveled a lot.

By the time I got to high school, the six of us lived in a small apartment in Darmstadt, Germany. Now, I love my family – – I really do. BUT. But, while some may have thought it was cozy, to me it felt cramped and tight. And then my mother joined the Navy. What!? Crazy.

But really, if I had to narrow down a specific event that affected my relationship with stuff, it would be the fire.

I was living in an apartment, in a not so great side of town, with my boyfriend.  He got a job offer in Chicago and moved there.  I was debating my options and slowly packing my things, when one Sunday morning I awoke to this whooshing sound.  I smelled something funny, ran to the front of the apartment and when I opened the front door I saw the apartment next to mine was on fire.  That fire was blocking the stairs.

At this point, I threw on some clothes, gathered up the dog, looked for the cat, and then just stood there.  I could hear fire trucks in the distance and people yelling but everything faded for just a minute. What about all my stuff?

There was a pounding on the door, I had to go, without my cat and without my stuff.  All of the tenants stood there in the parking lot, dazed and worried about our stuff.  The fire was put out but the damage was done.  Fire or water damage (or both in my case) to every apartment.  And we all had to evacuate quickly.

Walking back into the apartment, I am ashamed to say I was more worried about my stuff than the cat. (She was fine.) During the next two months, while living with my PARENTS, I began thinking of stuff differently.  And began to get rid of it, almost obsessively. Stuff is just that — stuff. It’s not pets or family or something else irreplaceable.

And I got renter’s insurance.