People don't generally want advice when they are venting about being disorganized on Twitter, so I usually don't reply. It gets my organization problem solving impulse twitching, though, so I'm going to indulge myself here.
The fact that I have an organizing impulse is amusing to people who have known me a long time and remember what my room looked like as a child (hint: not neat and tidy). For that matter, people who know me now and see my desk could be forgiven for thinking I am hopelessly disorganized.
But here's the thing: I have accepted that I cannot keep everything organized, and so I focus on the most important things. It took me an embarrassingly long amount of time to arrive at this insight, but now that I've had it, I embrace it. I don't have to be all the way organized. I just have to be organized enough. It doesn't matter if my desk is a cluttered mess as long as I can find my important documents. It doesn't matter if I haven't cleaned out the kids' outgrown clothes as long as I remember to check the hand me downs from Pumpkin BEFORE I go out and buy Petunia new shoes.
I won't claim to have applied this approach everywhere I could, but I'm making progress. I am much more zen than I used to be about the clutter that remains. That is what really matters to me. The goal isn't to have a perfectly organized house and life. It is to be happy. I just need to be organized enough to keep the inevitable chaos from causing me to be unhappy.
My other hard-earned insight about getting organized is that it is OK to focus on just one area at a time. When I'm feeling overwhelmed by the chaos, I try to figure out what specific chaos is driving me crazy right now and address that. For me, feeling like I might let someone down and forget to do something I've said I'll do is a big trigger for feeling overwhelmed by chaos, so it often makes sense for me to look at our scheduling methods and try to improve them. The most recent improvement there was the decision to print out monthly calendar pages (I use the monthly horizontal calendars on Printfree.com) and stick them to the fridge. We write all non-routine events on this calendar, and since it is right in front of our eyes when we get into the fridge, it helps us remember things. We've been using this method for a couple of years now and I can't really fathom how we managed before we implemented it.
Now that my work schedule is less regular, I have also ramped up my use of my Google calendar. I would LOVE to get Mr. Snarky more on board with online calendaring, but he can't seem to stick to using it, so I've given up. I just put important things in my Google calendar, but treat it as a back up to the "master" calendar on the fridge. Again, my goal is to be happy, not to be optimally organized. Constantly harping on Mr. Snarky to do something that obviously is not natural to him does not advance me towards my goal, particularly since the printed calendar is an easy workaround that he will use.
There are lots of other little enhancements I've made based on stopping and trying to figure out what chaos is actually causing me stress at the moment that I tip over to the "too much chaos!!!!" feeling. For instance, we added a small whiteboard to our fridge where we write things we need to buy, divided up by the stores we visit regularly. This one was based on a suggestion in a comment from a reader on a post I wrote right after one of my "too much chaos!!!" meltdowns. (Here's a follow up to that post, about stress-busting and mental unloading.)
|Fridge, with calendar, shopping lists, and menu plan. |
Plus a lot of magnets.
I love getting new ideas for how to organize things- even if I don't implement an idea right away, I might come back to it at my next "too much chaos!!!" moment. Give me your organization tricks and the seemingly small optimizations that have made a big difference in the comments!