Thursday, February 21, 2013

Organizing Mistakes (Part Four: What's Your Motivation?)

This post concludes a series on mindsets and marketing ploys that sabotage attempts at real organization.

Hi, my name is Christina, and I'm a recovering perfectionist. I was the little girl who, at three years old, was lining up shoes under my bed and shelving my books according to their height

I know a few things about the blurred line between healthy and unhealthy attitudes toward having a nice home and an orderly environment. I struggled with "coulda, shoulda, woulda" for a long time.

Say No to Shame

..."If only I could get my kids to clean up their rooms, then I can have people over"...
..."If only I could tackle that remodeling project, then we can invite the boss to dinner"...
..."I'd like to get to know my neighbors, but our furniture is Early American Yard Sale"...
..."I can't even keep up with my laundry, let alone find time to volunteer or serve"...
..."If only I was more organized, then everything would be better"...
..."When we have more money, then I'll feel better about hosting family dinners"... 
..."When I get caught up with the landscaping, then we'll have that birthday picnic for Susie"... 

Someone will always have more than you, but a lot of people have less than you do. Will your friends and family remember the cobweb in the corner, or the bright smile on your face and a warm cup of coffee?

I have a friend who PURPOSEFULLY ignores some cleaning chores, depending on who her guests might be. She knows that if she sets the bar too high, they will feel awkward and hesitate to return the invitation. Amazing, right?

That was a real revelation for me, since I always thought my dirt and clutter was what would make them uncomfortable.

People remember how you make them feel. Consider that having a house that looks like Better Homes and Gardens might be a wee bit intimidating. Having a home where there is laughter and space to breathe is nothing to be ashamed of.

Missed the first, second or third post in this series?

Say No to Guilt

Can't hold a candle to the culinary skills your sister-in-law possesses? Had to downsize your house because of finances? Been spending hours on Pinterest sighing at the lifestyles other people have? 

Try to stop comparing your home or job or kids or your whatever to that of people around you. It won't make you feel better and rarely will inspire you to get ahead.

Don't get me wrong, this is hard. Still, I've come to the conclusion that guilt is one of those things that can get you down only if you let it. It's a choice to be okay with how you are. Celebrate the difference and focus on your strengths, not your perceived weaknesses.

Learn from Pain

Pain is a great teacher and can be a motivator. When it comes to disciplining children, a lot of psychologists talk about reality and natural consequences. These are painful but effective.

It's human nature to try to avoid all forms of pain and discomfort. Some people focus on organizing with the goal of preventing pain: I WILL NOT lose the keys again. I WILL get my papers figured out so I don't have to pay another late fee.

It's painful for your child to get a failing grade because an assignment was left at home.
It's painful to have your credit card rejected, especially in front of an audience.
It's painful when you have to pay outrageous overnight shipping charges because you forgot to order something in time.

But are reality consequences enough to get us to mend our ways and get proactive about (respectively) readying backpacks, keeping an eye on bills, and reviewing future obligations? It would be nice, but it's part of a process.

Next week I'll have a special post for you about goals and life themes, which I hope will help put all this in perspective and put some legs to this information.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Organizing Mistakes (Part Three: Once and Done Mentality)

This post continues a series on mindsets and marketing ploys that sabotage attempts at real organization. Missed the first or second post?

If you’ve glanced through magazines, read articles, or even paged through books on the subject, it seems that most people find “getting organized” to be a project: buy the bins, throw out/donate a bunch of things, then arrange them in a cute way, and voila! You’re done.

I heartily disagree.

Home or office organization is an ongoing task. It’s not only about achieving an uncluttered, rational filing system for your belongings and paperwork. Organization truly lies in a system that can be perpetuated with minimal effort. 

(Is this too much common sense for ya?) 

Let’s use cleaning floors as a parallel. Perhaps you move into a new home where the floors were sorely neglected. It’s a project to either replace the floor covering or get the grime off, but it’s possible. Your end result is a clean floor. Great. 

But, steps are needed to continue to keep the floor clean. It won’t magically repel dirt going forward. You must take steps to prevent it becoming soiled (say, taking off shoes at the door) and regularly sweeping or mopping. You might find that in the winter, you need to put out an extra rug to catch gravel. In the summer, you may have to put a mat outside to keep grass clippings at bay.

Similarly, with organizing, you will probably have to adapt and flex your system as you find new needs or challenges that need to be addressed. 

The good news is that by maintaining your system, you’ll never have to make organizing a project again. And just like cleaning, if things fall a little behind, it won’t be that hard to catch up. We all get sick, have intensely busy times, and get off routine for a variety of reasons, so it’s more important to maintain a reasonable level of organization than ditch the idea because you haven’t achieved organizational nirvana.

And this is one of the times that I’ve fallen behind. In fact, I’m writing this post instead of picking up my living room, which looks like this:

And my kitchen counter, which looks like this:


In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, and to continue my goal of making my home an enjoyable place to be, you better believe I’m going to be caught up before tomorrow evening. 

How have you been viewing organization? As a project or ongoing task?

Additional Resources: Cleaning Chart, Nightly Routine

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Organizing Mistakes (Part Two: Rearranging Clutter)

Today we continue the series on mindsets and marketing ploys that sabotage attempts at real organization. Missed the first post?

As you know (have I said it enough?), I’m not one for buying a lot of bins or containers to house unorganized things. This is because pretty containers just beautify your clutter.

One of the several photos I've pinned sarcastically to highlight the beautification of stuff. However, where are you supposed to work, and who has perfectly sized and color coordinated fabric scraps?

Aside from kids’ toys--which inevitably become a jumbled mess in under 10 minutes--putting disorganized things in pretty containers can give you a false sense of security. Especially if those boxes are all the same.

You probably won’t be able to find things any faster.

You’ll definitely be less willing to sort through a pile tucked in an opaque container, because out of sight means out of mind. (Certainly doesn’t work for leftovers!)

It’s not a system that you’ll be motivated to maintain, because until the container is overflowing, you’ll find it handy to just dump things in there.

So, what’s the bottom line? You don’t just need places for your stuff. You need less stuff.
And rather than hear me say it six more ways, here’s a fabulous (and eloquent!) article on finding just the right balance of possessions and space.