Tuesday, 10 August 2010

BEDA - Day Nine - Getting Organized

There's nothing wrong with pretending you're in your 30's right? A boyfriend once said to me that I seemed like a 30-year-old in a 16-year-old body. He was 20 at the time. PERV. As a naturally messy 21-year-old or older woman it's nice to sometimes let your mind drift into what life would be like if you could be an efficient and organized human being...

I live with the lady who runs the site
PixiesDidIt with her sister, and so she knows how organizing can work or can fall to pieces depending on your "personality type" defined by the archetypes, Jung, Keirsey® & Myers-Briggs®.

To support her sweet company, I signed up for their daily emails, which led me to Family Circle's post, 55 Ways to Clear Clutter

I was a sucker for "home life" magazines even before any kind of possible "child-of-divorce" stereotypes could settle in on me. I always enjoyed making little mental notes while reading and decided what I would or would not do as somebody with my very own house and family. This is from a girl who can't even visualize herself being married, let alone fantasizing about her wedding AND she lives surrounded in mountains of her own junk in a basement!

Still, the desire to be organized and live a more simplistic or ritualized life creeps in every day, so I took some notes from Family Circle and have mixed in my own thoughts.

FC's Suggestion: File Away

1. Keep a portable file tote for catalogs, thank-you notes, shopping lists, and a menu planner. Take it with you for when you're waiting in the school carpool lane and check things off your to-do list. - Stephanie Vozza, founder of theorganizedparent.com

I can't imagine myself being in a school carpool lane for a very long time, if ever, but you don't need to be in a carpool lane to like this idea. If I was to put everything in one place, instead of mulitiple places, and somewhere where it would always be in view (so it would annoy me) maybe I'd take care of those little naggy to-do's that always end up on the frustratingly flimsy paper.

FC's Suggestion: Make It Tidy

2. Slip your movie collection into DVD albums, organized by genre -- comedies, dramas, and cartoons -- so it's a cinch to flip through. Recycle the empty cases through freecycle.org. - Regina Leeds, author of One Year to an Organized Work Life (Da Capo)

Most of my DVD collection is back home in Australia, though I did start to gather quite a sizable collection here until both Luke and Sarah knocked some sense into me and made me realize that DVDs are just wastes of money. Apart from some great special features, they are a waste of money and an almost-dead technology. So now my lists are on Netflix and iTunes.
However, what to do with the remaining DVDs that I love too much to give away and still have the means to watch them (before I replace or... what, transcode, them? I don't even know what I'm talking about) ? Well, I've seen other friends use this trick and it's definitely simple. Make them alphabetical or organize by genre if need be. If you really have nothing better to do you could even make a list in the front of your folder! Crazy stuff. Luckily all my DVDs are in storage so I don't have to think of this until I have to move. If you're sentimental about the covers, buy a storage case with areas for paper. Think A4, Baby.

3. Keep shelves tidy by rolling kids' T-shirts, sweaters, and sweatshirts instead of folding. - Stephanie Vozza, founder of theorganizedparent.com

I don't do this for my wardrobe, only when I travel. Until I downsize my wardrobe - something I'm working on - I never know what shirt is what and it would only get chaotic.

5. Avoid "my house is a mess" panic when unexpected guests drop in. Leave an empty storage ottoman or basket out for quick cleanups -- make sure it's big enough to stash toys, magazines, and throws. - Alicia Rockmore, founder of Buttoned Up, Inc.

You don't have to have a house to use this neat idea, your room or whole apartment could be fine. This is much better than storing under your bed or in your closet when a date decides unexpectedly that they want you and they want you now. Just don't leave the stuff their to rot.

7. A handsome vintage cabinet or sleek modern console can cleverly hide everything from books and games to a flat-screen TV. - Kim Myles, host of Myles of Style

No. What's the point? Being able to hide things all the time only gives you an excuse to be busy. Keep your house and your style open and it will only force you to be neat.

8. Keep ladles, tongs, and spatulas in place by attaching adhesive Velcro strips to both the handles and the bottom of the utensil drawer. - Julie Edelman, author ofThe Ultimate Accidental Housewife(Hyperion)

A little bit OCD, but OK...

FC's Suggestion: Hang It Up

10. Don't hide a beautiful bowl in the china cabinet. Instead, show it off on top of the dresser and use it to hold everyday necessities like your watch, wallet, and rings. - Meryl Starr, author of The Home Organizing Workbook (Chronicle)

Before I sadly lost interest in Mr. Big and that whole (this does not make me sad) "consumer" lifestyle that Sex and the City represents, I loved that the character Miranda had a lovely bowl just near her doorway that she dropped her keys and other tidbits into. So, for my birthday my Boss bought me a Tiffany glass bowl and for the longest time (when I had my own apartment) I used it. However, I often found it getting covered in other crap. So, if you're someone who see's a dent and likes to fill it with as much shit as possible, use a hook.

15. If you lack shelf space in the bathroom, give each family member a portable plastic tote that they can keep in the bedroom for stashing their nonessentials. - Donna Smallin, author of A to Z Storage Solutions (Storey)

Like Bella Swan, LOLZ. This is good for roommates; for those who live with someone who pinches things and for those who are psychotic and think their roommates are going to steal all their stuff. Loosen up, baaaaaby.

16. To save repeated trips up and down the stairs, keep a basket on the bottom step to stockpile items like slippers or video games. Carry them up all at once at the end of the day. - Romaine Lowery, author of The Clutter Clinic (Sterling)

One: Man up. Two: I feel older just reading these. Three: This is a good idea if you have stairs, just don't throw so much shit in it that you can't get it up the stairs at the end of the day.

FC's Suggestion's for Desktop Organization

18. Place a plastic sock drawer organizer in the fridge to keep small snacks like yogurt and cheese sticks organized and easily accessible to kids. - Amy Keroes, founder of Mommy Track's

I like this idea. Not for kids but for helping you organize your diet or your meal plan or ingredients for each meal. Just keep them all in once place. Now, if I ever went grocery shopping and had my own fridge, I'd probably one day do this... maybe.

23. Designate a laundry room bin for clothes that no longer fit. Once it's full, donate the castoffs to charity. - Jill Shank, cofounder of Mostly Organized Moms, Inc.

For clothes that no longer fit, are spoiled or you just don't like anymore. Give them one last wash and locate a charity that takes anything and organizes it later or a place where they accept any materials. There's one at Tompkins Square during the weekend and Luke and I use to go there all the time. Once you donate a bunch of your clothes, you should realize how much money you waste and how pointless fashion can be if you don't utilize it properly or spend your money wisely. I have definitely learnt a lot from donating clothes I spent lots of money on and getting nothing (no cash nor satisfaction) from it.

24. For each new clothing item, pair of shoes, or accessory that you buy, donate or get rid of two in its place to maintain closet space. - Audrey Thomas, professional organizer for Smead

Well, yes, this could work... but if you already have the item, why are you getting another one? Try to live minimally. This is easy if you are renting, like traveling a lot or, if you're like me, you're not guaranteed a whole lot of time in a country. If you're in a temporary situation, try not to "nest" so much. It can be difficult, but if you have a few cherished items and are allowed to paint the walls and hang up some posters, that can be enough to make you feel comfortable in your home. Or be daring, don't make your room all the comfortable. The prettier it is, maybe the more time you'll spend in it, making it messier and messier. Try living bare bones (this is my personal goal, so I feel like I'm talking to myself right now) and imagine that at any moment you could pick up and leave and have to take your favourite things with you on your back. Could you do that now? Probably not. So, keep hacking away and away at your material goods until you find something that speaks to you.

FC's Suggestion: Repurpose

27. Use leftover twist ties to tame that tangle of television, computer, and cell-phone wires. - Meryl Starr, author of The Home Organizing Workbook (Chronicle)

I like to keep my twist ties on my wires for as long as possible, this is definitely a good idea. If you have a drawer for computer things, like games or accessories, but the twist ties in a plastic lunch bag and leave them there for when you have to pack your stuff up.

29. Give a summer tote a year-round purpose. Place it on a closet shelf for storing scarves and belts. - Stephanie Vozza, founder of theorganizedparent.com

I do this with my winter gear, just don't forget you own it (like I often do) and buy new ones. Then you just have more storage and more means to fill it up with stuff.

FC's Suggestion: Recycle

40. Tackle a spring and fall cleanup each year -- no excuses. - Dan Ho, Host of The Dan Ho Show

Do it! Wouldn't it be great if you had such a minimal wardrobe that you had a uniform for some days. Not all days, that'd be boring, but for work or days when things are hectic. Something you can always reach to and feel comfortable in in times of crisis.

Instead of feeling guilty for buying so many new clothes each year or every few years on top of your older clothes, you could try to make smarter choices. Know your body shape. Feel comfortable with taking time in the dressing room and trying EVERYTHING. Try what is in "fashion" and then break away from it and back again if you have to. Whatever makes you comfortable. The shop keeper wants you to make an impulse buy, it makes their day go faster. Make them work. More importantly, make them wait. Be lovely and polite, of course, but if they are giving you attitude, just remember that you'll probably never see them again.

This doesn't just go for clothes, but for stuff, too. Books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, paperwork, toys. You don't have to singlehandedly boost the economy by yourself and you don't have to always have the "new" thing and you know what, sometimes it's okay to not be on top of the latest thing. There's nothing worse buying a ticket to a film or buying an album because it's "hot right now" and being completely unmoved by it. Let things come to you from true friends or when it feels absolutely right. I'm making it sound a little spiritual and it should be. This is how you are spending your life! (Says the girl writing the blog...)

42. Dress up your desktop by putting pens and pencils in a small vase or arranging essentials like a stapler, scissors, and mail on a colorful melamine tray. -Kim Myles, host of Myles of Style

This doesn't work. I've tried it. Maybe it'll work for you, it doesn't for me. I either have no room for papers or things get pushed off or I squeeze so much stuff into it that I'm constantly having to clean those out too. Bare necessities, baby. Keep it out in the open and deal with it.

FC's Suggestion: Use a Daily Planner

This can actually work for some people. I have my iPhone and it can keep dates easily, but I somehow always find myself forgetting theses dates. It must be the action of entering in the information, it doesn't resonate with my brain somehow and so even when the alert comes two-hours before the event, I'm likely to ignore it or not recognize it at all OR I find myself thinking that I just can't make it to that date after all.

What does seem to help me is a daily planner. One that you actually write in and log around. My Boss got me one in a last attempt to help me remember important dates and/or show up to things on time, and for a few months it worked. Now, I've misplaced - that's the trick - and so everything is in disarray again.

It's almost like keeping a journal. You may write in it every day and then you can go for weeks, months and sometimes years without making a single entry. You know your life was lived, but those blank pages doubt that any event ever occurred.

Well, I hope you got something out of this. These ideas have certainly been stamped ever deeper into my my mind and luckily they'll remain here until I notice them again and hopefully, act upon them.

What are your ways for keeping organized?


EarleWidrich said...

Good tips, Caitlin. I also buy a lot less DVDs/Blu-Rays than I used to. Although I seem to remember already having this conversation with you over a plate of nachos.

I also struggle to stay organized. I tend to lose things a little too often. My desk (at home and at work) is way too cluttered, which is a perfect way to not find things when you need them. I just find that there can be so much junk to sift through, it's hard to keep up at times.

It definitely feels good to have a good clean-up every once in a while. It's just too bad that I don't do it more often. As I'm typing this, I'm staring at the pile of papers on the left side of my desk here at work. If I have time today, I'll be making some trips to the shredder box, that's for sure.

Chris in the Studio said...

Never been so disorganized in my entire life as I have been in the last two years. Having spent the last two months organizing and pretty much just selling and/or giving everything away I've come to the conclusion that sometimes you just get to overwhelmed
to have any organizational tricks work. What seems to be resonating as a life philosophy for me to stay organized is to not have to much going on or to much stuff that needs to be organized making the task that much more attainable. Less is more. Keep life simple. Its not just about stuff though. Its about ideas, goals, things you want to accomplish. Keeping the mind organized first, then everything else just falls into place. This is a very difficult thing and everyone has different levels of what they can maintain in their own brain but its really key.

Strangely enough, having a child has helped me with times of being overwhelmed because when I can't organize my stuff or my life I focus on his. :) It gets my mind off of things and helps put things into perspective. Organizing the mind is much easier with a good perspective and your priorities become much clearer. When your brain nerve endings are fried, the simple activity of focusing on someone else really grounds the short circuit.

Jamie said...

Check this out! I love this site: http://unclutterer.com/

I pile a lot of stuff on one side of the bed and I sleep on the other. Then on my day off, I clean up. It's a cycle of life. It's ok to be messy. Just don't stay messy.

Jamie said...

oh and im reading this now!


MntlWard said...

Haha. Fashion (as it exists now, anyway) is an invention of the clothing industry. It changes constantly so that you have to buy a whole new wardrobe every three weeks if you want to stay in style.

Those are some pretty good ideas, though.

MntlWard said...

Oops! I forgot to answer your question.

Getting organized...I keep meaning to do that one of these days. There are too many other things to do that are a lot more interesting.

Jer said...

Ive made a schedule in MSExcel of things I've done since I stopped working. Shit I spend A substantial amount of time cooking and cleaning up the kitchen after. I mean I eat healthier now but man its like almost half of my day! So Ive tried to wash dishes only once and cook one large meal that will last a few days. Now that Im starting work again, as usual I will eat out almost always. I will watch what I eat as I am so used to home cooked meals that I can no longer eat fast food type foods.

MigdalaVered said...

I used to be a pack rat... Then, I had a house fire and lost everything but the clothes on my back. Ever since, I've realised how very little "things" matter.

I hope you can learn to consume less, without the tragedy.

And if it isn't so much consuming, but mainly organising that's your problem... I'm kind of a pro. Those file-organisers (#1 on your list) are excellent. I have files for keepsakes from high school, music, video ideas, story ideas, etc. Buying good, matching hangers and organising your clothes helps A LOT.
I hide a lot of stuff in my room in an organised way. I have a crate filled with yearbooks and photo albums, it was unsightly, so I wrapped a large piece of fabric around it, put a suitcase on top and now it's a table. I have letters and birthday cards hidden in the suitcase. (An idea I actually got from your tumblr, thanks.)
Make a habit of cleaning your room every night before you go to bed. You'd be surprised what ten minutes can do.

ADB said...

Some cool tips there. However, I disagree about DVD's being dead - they have atleast another 5 years in them.

I also keep the ties on the cables as long as possible. Infact, I go a little further in that my bedroom is full of gear (3 games consoles, TV, stereo, VHS & DVD players) that I have stickers on each of the plugs saying which bit of kit they are for. That way I can save electricity by not having them all plugged into the extension cord all the time, and don't waste time working out which plug is for which item.

A daily planner would be nice at home. I certainly need one so I could divide up my projects and work on each a little bit at a time. A couple of years back I made Tuesday be "reading night". I would sit back and read a book for a few hours after getting home from work.
I use the "appointments" feature in the calendar section of Outlook to set reminders for things, when I'm at work. The same thing wouldn't work at home, as I don't have a recent enough version of Outlook on my laptop that includes the calendar feature, and don't read my emails as regularly as I used to :(