I'm not sure what else to say except that I feel like I'm on to something here-- something that is going to change the way I live significantly. I already feel like my life is starting to head in a direction that makes a little more sense...unfortunately, sometimes things need to get messier before they get cleaner, straighter, and more organized. That's where we are right now...in the mess...but I'm hopeful and optimistic about the outcome.
So let me tell you a little bit about what we did so that if this is something you have been thinking about in your life as well you can perhaps glean some ideas from my experience thus far and as I move forward.
This all started because back in November I got an email for a Groupon offer (my husband rolls his eyes at my Groupon buying but I've gotten some good deals!). The deal was for 1/2 off professional organizing services. I was skeptical about spending the $60 at first, but then I thought, "well, I used to spend $20 an hour on therapy...this is kind of like therapy for a different component of my life...a component of my life making me so crazy that it is going to put me right back into therapy if I don't do something about it!"
So, I justified it, sheepishly told Scott, and buried the Groupon in one of my many "to-do" piles. I initially thought I would have her come help me organize my basement (a nightmarish site for someone in her line of work, I'm sure!), or maybe the kitchen, or my closets...I felt kind of ambiguous about where I needed the most help.
When we finally chatted a couple of weeks ago Jennifer asked me where I'd like to focus our time. I think I laughed aloud, giggled, then laughed some more. She assured me that this was a pretty typical response.
After a little hemming and hawing it dawned on me that the area of my life that causes me the most grief is my paperwork. Paperwork for me includes a lot of material used for my writing; old magazines, research, notes, notebooks, story ideas, published stories, etc. It also includes journals, bible study materials I've enjoyed and maybe some church notes. It also includes credit card information, medical information, the girls artwork, the girls medical information, craft ideas pulled out of magazines, recipes pulled out of magazines, incoming mail, outgoing mail, etc. etc. etc. etc. I'm sure you've got similar lists.
So, not only was "it" all over my house, but "it" was in so many locations in my house that I had no idea where "it" was when I needed "it"...if you catch my drift.... I had file folders upstairs in the bedroom and notebooks downstairs by the t.v. I had recipe folders and binders in the kitchen, my office (upstairs) and a file bin in our former dining room. I had stacks of papers I needed to sort. Unread magazines ALL over the place and multiple "to do", "home improvement" and "craft" folders in varying locations. Can any of you relate to this?
One of the biggest problem's for me is that I was procrastinating doing things I needed to do because a) I couldn't find the corresponding paper's for the job (notes, phone numbers, appointments, recipes, etc.) AND I was also not putting things in proper places because I was a bit confused about what the proper places were...so I would get overwhelmed at the thought of a task because the time it was going to take for me to find what I needed for the task.
You can see why I needed help, right?!
After showing Jennifer around my house she had a couple of major conclusions (I'm sure there were smaller fireworks going off in her head, like what she would only do if she could get her hands on my basement! but she kept those to herself given our short 3 hour time frame!). Here is what we came up with:
1. The space I was using for my office was too small (currently in a corner in our spare bedroom).
2. The fact that my office was located on the second floor was causing all sorts of problems! I was shuffling things up and down the stairs...I would leave things upstairs that I needed downstairs and vice versa...the mail and all of my paperwork comes in through the downstairs so it is a more logical place to organize it...
plus...I threw all of our clean laundry on the bed in there, which wasn't exactly impacting my writerly inspiration in a positive way.
plus...every time w had guests (which is frequent enough with quite a few out of town family and friends) I would "clean" the room by shoving everything I had been working on into big piles and either jamming it in the closet or under the bed...then it would take me an hour to just sort through things once I finally got to them again.
3. Jennifer kindly pointed out that three rooms in our downstairs were being devoted to kids stuff (a corner of the living room, the entire spare room/sitting room to the right when you walk in the house, and part of our "dining" room, while I was jammed into the spare bedroom.
The solution: make one of the downstairs rooms into an office.
Which is where we are today. My dad, the master of all carpentry things, is coming over shortly to give my hubby some much needed direction.
So...as I said, things are messy, but it's messy with a purpose now.
Here is a little photo tour of what is going on...
this is the former "play" room. It's directly to the right when you walk in our front door...we've moved my desk downstairs and as you can see I have some very sophisticated office furniture at this point...(aka an ironing board and an old bookshelf from the playroom!) We're planning to put up walls and french doors so I can lock myself in!
my sophisticated office furniture piled with my sophisticated current filing system
you see all of those random baskets? this is the beginning of my sorting with Jennifer. She says that most people have 80% of what they need to get organized. Her point was, start by using what you have...buy fancier baskets later if you'd like, but let's get the system down first. One now holds "contacts" I need to file, one holds receipts and one holds the random photos that were laying around the house. The key is that EVERYTHING needs a home. Which is why she and I spent a couple of hours sorting all of my papers and giving them "categories".
this is our "dining"room, which was basically a spill over from the playroom. Now it IS the playroom. We weren't planning on buying dining room furniture anytime soon anyway, and it is right next to the kitchen which is great for me and the girls when I'm working on meals and they can be playing right next to me.
I owned 2 of these cubes from target and bough 4 more yesterday...the whole system is interlocking and has all sorts of pieces and accessories so that you can organize to your liking. It's a little messy at the moment, but it's going to be GREAT for the girls stuff. As pieces go on sale at Target I will buy a few more to add on.
This is the other corner of the playroom. I now have their little table (where they like to color) situated next to the craft supplies (in that tall white thing (two rubbermaid 3-drawer organizers stacked on top of one another). I pulled the rubbermaid things out of our mudroom making more room in the mudroom for shoes and now the craft supplies are right where I need them!
the corner in our spare room where my desk was sitting...
the clean laundry that usually adorns the bed in the spare room and all of the stuff that was piled on my desk that needs to make it's way downstairs.
the leftovers that Jennifer and I did not get to last week.
That's it for now!
Definition of "Organizing" from Wikipedia:
Organizing (also spelled organising) is the act of rearranging elements following one or more rules.
Anything is commonly considered organized when it looks like everything has a correct order or placement. But it's only ultimately organized if any element has no difference on time taken to find it. In that sense, organizing can also be defined as to place different objects in logical arrangement for better searching.