Tag Archives: Resolutions

Closets are Like Broccoli

January can be an exciting month: you’re motivated to start projects, learn something new, change something about yourself.  For some reason, the New Year brings us new motivation.  That initial excitement can wane somewhat when we find ourselves ¾ of the way through our shoe collection and out of storage space with not a millimeter of options left.  Or when you thought Rosetta Stone was just $400 to learn French… and it turns out to be just level one… and there are three levels after.  New Year’s is like a sugar rush and reality is just waiting in the wings to swoop in a crush us.  By the end of January, most of us will already have given up on our New Years Resolutions.

I know that isn’t nearly as apocalyptic as say, world hunger.  But wouldn’t it be amazing if we could throttle that energy we spring into the new year with and at least make it to March???

So, I was reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and he points out that “the principle of organization is built into nature…”  And he is so right.  This is something I already knew but Pressfield’s reminder in the context of creativity was powerful and inspirational.  We’re trying to organize our world the same way heirloom broccoli grows:

There is a geometry to art and life which we can feel in our bones and whether we realize it or not, we want our homes to reflect that same sense of peace and order.

AND WE SHOULD.

There is a certain sense of accomplishment that comes with organizing your desk, your calendar, your life.  It’s not so much that you miraculously become more efficient.  You do.  But to go deeper than that, it’s your bones sighing in relief that you know exactly where your keys are.  When you need to write something down, you didn’t have to tear through papers to find a pen.  Your scarf pulled off of its hanger without a single extra crease or crinkle.  Getting dressed was a JOY this morning.  And all these little joys make it easier to smile, easier to relax, easier to accomplish your mission, whatever that may be.  Miracle?  Maybe.  Or maybe not.  Hard work?  Most certainly.

Organizing your closet is really no different from painting a picture, taking a photograph, creating a sculpture, writing a book… let’s use the book.  We can draw PERFECT parallel’s there.  No one sites down to write a book in a single sitting.  It’s a habit.  A writer sits down at their typewriter every day for hours so that they’re ready when the perfect words are flowing.  They walk around editing in their head.  Getting your closet, desk, craft area organized is just the same.  It’s a habit that we form which we follow every day.  And we never tackle the whole thing at once – just like a writer could never write a novel all in one sitting.  We will start with shoes, move on to purses, then blouses, pants, scarves, belts etc.  This is normal, this is okay.  

Just because you get a brand new closet doesn’t mean it will be perfectly organized overnight.  But you will find your rhythm, your geometry with just a little bit of time and a wee bit o’ habit.

Organization is an art form.  Approach it like the creative endeavor that it is and give it the time and patience it requires and you are sure to be rewarded with beautiful broccoli  growing in your closet garden.

Timely Tips for 2011

happy-new-year-2011

love the beginning of the year. Now, don’t think me geeky but on January 1st, while many are recovering from carousing, I am organizing my calendar, switching files around and strategizing on how I can make the New Year better than the last one. Often, being organized is just about setting up the right systems that can be repeated. If I can save you just 6 minutes a day, you will have accumulated almost 40 hours to call your own by the end of the year. Here are my best tips to help you accomplish that:

1. What is your single biggest aggravation? Hate grocery shopping, bill paying or cleaning the bathroom? (Don’t tell us all of the above!) When there is a task you hate hanging over your head it impedes your ability to get anything else done, as you busy yourself with other nonsense in an attempt to avoid it. Worse yet, you do nothing while waiting to get in the mood to knock this job off. Solution? Assign it to someone else. Maybe you can trade one of their tasks for the one that eats at you. Let someone else do your grocery shopping from a list or pay your bills. Hire a cleaning person just to do the bathrooms if that’s what it takes. Your energy for the other jobs in your life will rise once the onerous task is removed from your list.

2. Don’t think you have to be Martha Stewart or Betty Crocker perfect. An orderly house is desirable but if you have 4 kids and a job, maybe something has to give. Make it easy for your kids to be neat. Children don’t like anything that takes more than one action to complete. Provide easy systems for them to use. For example, arguing about them hanging their coats in a closet is pointless. Put up hooks they can access easily and a basket they can toss hats and gloves into. Make that hook a double prong so they can hang up their backpack too.

3. Decide how much time each week you can devote to cleaning. For most of us, it’s not realistic to think that a whole day can be dedicated so break it up into hour long chunks and create a schedule. After all, you usually accomplish things that are scheduled. No reason why you can’t dust the family room while you are watching an hour of HGTV. Better yet, make a game of it for your kids. Hide nickels or dimes around the room and have them hunt for them while they are cleaning. You can get them into a lot of corners with this plan.

4. Run errands on a route. This may seem like Organizing 101 but it’s still worth mentioning. I rarely leave the house to complete one task. I leave this up to the guys. According to Marti Barletta, expert on marketing to women, men set their sights on one task at time. Send him for milk and that’s just what he’ll get. Send a woman for milk and on the way she’ll drop off the dry cleaning, return the pop bottles and stop at the post office. If you send your guy on an errand, give him a route. Keep track of those errands right at the back door with a message center.

5. Are you always looking for your keys or sifting through a mail pile. Why? What a waste of time. Spot these trouble spots during your day and create a place for everything- a real go-to spot. Key racks make total sense as do mail cubbies.

6. I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about your kitchen junk drawer. Every kitchen has one. It’s another time waster. Why do you stand there sifting through it all when an inexpensive drawer organizer will reduce that to seconds?

7. You need our stair-step basket. Seriously. Load it up during your day and take everything upstairs in one run. Don’t even think about it. Just buy it. You won’t have a moment’s regret.

8. Set aside 1 hour the next time you are in a gift card store and buy your occasion cards for the year at one time. Honestly, you know your son’s birthday is coming up. It makes no difference that it’s in June. How many times have you stopped on your way to a wedding to pick up a card? Why, why, why? While you are in the store, also pick up a couple of sympathy, get well and blank cards for the events you don’t foresee. Once home, store them in a monthly dated binder or organizer specifically for cards so you can find them quickly. Ah….done.

9. Don’t put off until tomorrow something you can get done today. That needs no more description in my estimation. Procrastination is the biggest time waster of all.

10. On-line banking. I started this kicking and screaming but holy smoke, this is the biggest time saver of all time. You can even set up regularly monthly payments in advance if you like. I still like to decide when to pay things but it’s priceless to hit a button and have the payment go without having to address an envelope or get a stamp.

Now go, be organized and use that saved time to your advantage!

Happy New Year!

Get a jump on the New Year

Happy-New-year-2010It’s fantastic to have a Friday be the first of the year. I have the whole weekend to get myself organized for 2010. Where do I start? I pick 2 “projects” first. These always involve the physical organizing of space. I’ve done my pantry and part of my home office this year. I weeded out, cleaned, labeled and partitioned to my heart’s content. I love the feel of clean, organized space.

Second, I set up my calendar for the year. This is REALLY BIG. There are a lot of digital calendars out there. I’m a fan of Outlook because I like to set “recurrences” and it syncs to my smartphone. Seamless and effortless. Google Calendars is web-based and has more apps associated with it so it’s another good option. I use the “recurrence” feature in Outlook for everything that repeats every year such as getting my car inspected or events like birthdays. Once I put a recurrence in there, it’s there for life unless I remove it. I’ll set up all the events I know of in advance such as trips(including confirmation numbers for hotel and air), sporting events, concerts or meetings. I set up reminders such as dates to start Christmas baking or dates tickets become available. I travel a lot and don’t always have access to my customer resource management program at work so I use my Outlook for that as well- reminders to call or notes on project due dates etc. My Outlook has all my contacts so I’m never without an address or phone number. I even log in ideas for gifts as they come to me. When visiting my nephew last summer he mentioned a great love of mustard. I took note and sent him a tasty trio for Christmas.

In short, it’s the first of the year and I’ve already set myself up for a highly organized 2010!