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    Entries in organized life (3)

    Tuesday
    Jun072011

    A List for All Seasons

    While writing the articles on organization, I knew that I wanted to do a seperate post on list making - and here it is.  From what needs to be accomplished today, to this weekend’s party menu, lists are invaluable.  My list making capabilities were passed down through the family lines, and may even be genetic!  Groceries, daily chores, trip packing items, home repair and remodeling ideas, recipes for upcoming functions (to name a few), all get an ordered list of some kind.  Not to mention to-do lists, honey-do lists, and wish lists.

    Lined, or unlined, paper works equally well.  Fancy notepads, sticky notes, bordered, handmade, recycled - use what works for you and keep it handy.  Spiral notebooks and three-pronged binders can be picked up very cheaply during the back-to-school sales.  They are great for your car or purse, so you are never without something to write down what is cluttering up your mind.  I’ve even been known to use the back of a sack, or a napkin.  Calendars, computers of all varieties, electronic reminder devices, and daily planners are other great list-making tools.  Why try to keep a single item in memory, when you can jot it down and live stress free?  Even if you are a brainiac and can remember the names and birthplaces of the signers of the Declaration of Independence that is no reason to use your valuable gray matter for every day, mundane remembrances.

    I have an old bowl on the counter in the kitchen that holds note paper, pens and pencils (which stand in an antique snuff glass), paper clips, and sticky notes.  I also use spiral notebooks for long term lists.  We keep seperate lists for the health food store, grocery store, and Sam’s Club.  Seasonal around-the-house jobs, long term projects, getting-ready-for-company ideas, and menu planning all get their own paper or page in the notebook.  Many times, my list items are organized further by priority.  Jotting a number by each one, from most important to least, will do the job.  And, I’ve learned to be flexible.  What doesn’t get accomplished one day will another.  No worries.

    There’s not much in our lives that doesn’t get listed.  The planning for every trip, vacation, big event, or dinner party gets written down somewhere:  what to pack, what to buy, what to prepare at home, what to purchase when we get there.  The What to Pack column gets broken down further so I’ll know what items go in which bags (or boxes or baskets):  toiletries, clothing, kitchen items, miscellaneous, books, etc.  There are also Idea Lists - blog articles, curriculum, bible study thoughts, gifts, party games, decorating, paint colors.  I absolutely, unequivocally, do not want to remember every little idea, thought, or question that pops into my head throughout the day.  GB even bought me a small voice recorder that is invaluable.

    During life’s trials, a list can be your best friend.  My mother-in-law and I have been making lists this week…

    • after death formalities
    • thank you notes to write
    • a store list - stamps, trash bags, cleaning supplies, a few groceries
    • doctors’ appointments to cancel or reschedule

    I believe that part of our society’s dysfunction can be related to trying to remember, for ourselves and by ourselves, the minutia of daily living.  Disorganization, being late for appointments, forgetting important events, losing time searching and scrambling for information.  Those kinds of things can make us appear disinterested, lazy, or even selfish.

    Becoming a list maker is not hard at all.  Begin this evening - gather paper and pen, and put it in a special place.  And then make a note for yourself that, tomorrow morning, you will start an accomplishment list for the day.  Place cute little numbers besides each item on the list, placing them in priority order.  What a relief!

    Companion Article:

    Kids and List Making

    Sunday
    Apr032011

    Where To Begin?

    Piles and stacks are inevitable signs of good living…partially read books with their markers hanging out; clothes that are too small or too large; the corner of the couch that holds items to give-away or take to family and friends.  Recipes, papers to read or grade, mail, curlers, jewelry, tools, photo albums, magazines.  We all have more ‘stuff’ than we have places to hold them.  Our basement has become the receptacle for keepsakes, mementos, and the ‘just can’t bear to part with it’ tub.  Over the years, we have managed to tub most of it, or at least organize like items on the same shelf.  I remember saying more than once that keeping all the treasures from our past will leave no room for present or future treasures.

    There comes a time in our rich, abundantly blessed lives that we have to examine our piles and stacks.  It cannot all stay.  Piles must be reduced and stacks (even neat ones) must be depleted.  So let’s first make the decision to pare down our lives.  Make some room to grow, and lighten it all up a little.  Parting with a past treasure does not devalue the memory of that treasure in the least.  We can’t hold everything we love in our hands at one time.  And we are surely not going to take it all with us “when we go”.  Saving family heirlooms for our children and grandchildren is great.  Especially those items that have an interesting story, are a part of history, or that we know were highly esteemed by our ancestor.  But, where do we keep it?  How do we manage our current space and keep up with collectables and day-to-day life?

    It sounds simplistic, but you must first pick up one item and make a decision.  Pick up the next item and create a space for it, or move it on out.  If you stand in the doorway of your designated room-to-be-organized, and turn to your right, what is the first thing you see?  Or, what is the first piece of furniture to be gone through with a fine-toothed comb?  Whichever it is, a single item, or a dresser, choose.  Keep it, give it away, or throw it away (which includes recycling).  Even if your space is a disaster, a piled up mess, you can get it done.  So, have three tubs, or bags, or boxes.  Ideally, it would be permanent storage containers for like items, a garbage and/or recycling bag, and a box or bag for donations or give-aways.  If you like to have yard sales at  your home, then this is the perfect opportunity to pick up some extra grocery money.  The give-away or donation box could be a yard sale box.  Please don’t give away, donate, or try to make money from dirty, broken, torn, mismatched, or rundown items.  Unless it is truly ‘gently used’, it’s trash.

    Whatever you decide to keep must eventually have its own place.  Keep that in mind.  It does no good to make a decision to keep something, then end up placing it right back in the same piled up mess in which you found it.  Countertops, tabletops, drawers, closets, cabinets, storage buildings, bins, boxes, bags (sounds like a Dr. Seuss book) must all be pilfered.

    • If you haven’t worn it in a year or so, move it out
    • If you forgot you had it, you don’t need it
    • If you use it, but only occasionally, it doesn’t need to take up prominent storage space
    • If it’s an heirloom, or a collectable, display it or store it out of the way.  In other words, it does not need to be rolling around in the silverware drawer.
    • If it’s one of those “I might need it someday” items, examine your motivation for keeping it
    • If it was a gift that you’ve never used, or never really wanted in the first place - someone else would probably love to have it
    • If you’ve read it once, and don’t ever plan to do so again, let someone else have a turn
    • If it’s a keeper, set it aside for storing and organizing
    • Etc and etc

    Where to begin?  Right in the doorway.  With the first thing that falls to your right, or your left.  Pick it up.  Think carefully and rationally.  Decide.  Most cleaning-out projects are not short order propositions.  Plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time.  Take a week, or one, whole, beautiful, spring month.  We’ll pick up next time with how to store and organize your keepers!

     

    Thursday
    Mar312011

    Organize Your Life

    One of the many things my parents taught us (by instruction and example) was organization.  Besides being some of the hardest working people I know, they live by the motto, “An organized life is a happy life”.  And I have learned to love it!  It does make me happy to know that whatever I need or want can be found in a moment by going to the place where it lives.  A place for everything and everything in its place. 

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