21 December 2014

Resolution Resources: Get Organized!

Dear Lissy,

Personal and home organization is another top five resolution.  Living in a messy environment is incredibly stressful on a personal level as well as for relationships.  Once again, Supermom plans aren't going to solve the problem long term.  Let's look at our original parameters to make organization a regular part of our lives....
Montessori style shelf available here

Make small daily exchanges, even for big goals.


  • Don't put it down, put it away!
  • Don't go from one room to another with empty hands.  EVER.
  • Set aside 14 minutes a day to organize instead of promising yourself an afternoon.  Don't believe me?  Set a timer for 14 minutes and work on your inbox or a drawer in your kitchen.  You'll be surprised!
  • Commit to re-homing just 1 item a day from your home instead of going through once or twice a year.  Most towns have freecycle or "yard sale" pages on social media that allow you to advertise just an item or two, or start an E-bay store. Keep a box in the mudroom or hall closet for Goodwill donations.
  • Set aside a few minutes in the afternoon and/or evening to have a family "bangerang" pick-up through the whole house and return any items to their homes instead of waiting for the weekend.
  • Rotate your children's toys instead of letting them have access to every toy all the time. We limited toys to one toy/set for every year of age in the play area, and rotated toys every month or so.  Puzzles, games, art supplies, and videos were in closed cabinets outside the play area that required a parent's help to access. Children are happier and play better with fewer toys.
  • Gift items to your children in storage containers instead of the original box.  Keep the box size and type consistent so they'll stack.  Flip top storage containers tend to work better than those with separate tops.
  • If you purchase an item, another item of the same type has to leave your home
  • Keep your homeschooling, sewing, and arts and crafts supplies organized into project totes. I picked this tip up from a friend in quilt guild, and it changed the way I purchase and organize.  
    • The old way:  Purchase supplies, books, patterns, and tools on a deep discount, and store them until I decide I want or need them for a project or class.
    • The new way: Purchase/obtain only the tools, material, and book or pattern I need for my current project (and maybe one more in the planning stages) and store all of the necessary items in a single tote that I can pull out when I work. For classroom purposes, 1 storage tote contains all the books, videos, manipulatives, and tools or equipment for one subject in one grade level. Create toolboxes for frequently used items -- sewing baskets, pencil boxes, etc.  All scraps and leftovers in the tote when the class or project is done are processed intentionally and filed/sold/discarded.  I just deleted three paragraphs of bullet points on how to implement this system:  I'll write another letter after I finish this set on Resolution Resources and link it here.

Make exchanges whose input can be measured.


 For organizing purposes, you have two available metrics:  time or space.  Set small goals that have one of those two metrics.  "I will organize my sewing supplies for 14 minutes today," or "I will organize Eggbert's puzzles while he naps today."

Make organizing plans for today only, but set goals for 28 days.  When you write out your Daily Plan, you already know how much energy and time you have available that day.  You're not going to sort and re-organize 6 totes of books if you've been up all night with a sick child, or have three dentist appointments scheduled for the afternoon.
  • Big Goal:  During the month of January, I will organize all of my schoolroom books and supplies into totes by subject and level. 
  •  Little Step:  "Today I will sort and box all of our reading material by level."
  • "I'm going to get all of our school stuff organized this year." 
Can you see the difference?  If I set a goal of organizing all of our school material into totes by subject and grade this month, I know I need dozens of small boxes/totes on hand, and I can set a task that works toward that end goal each day.  The second resolution gives me no focus or motivation.  It only took a few seconds more to think about and write Big Goal/Little Step than it did to write the resolution.  I didn't spend an hour planning out each day, I just jumped in with a reasonable step toward my goal that I know I have the time and energy to accomplish today. (See my letter on our month of hard work.) Tomorrow I'll write another little step, and so on, until I get the job finished.  When I was first married and out on my own, I'd write down ALL the little steps at once, assuming I'd have the identical amount of time and energy for the project each day.  It took me a long time to learn to take things a day at a time.

Create or join a support and accountability group. 


This one definitely falls under "create," but I guarantee if you put out a 28 day challenge on any social media platform, you'll have half a dozen friends who want accountability and encouragement for organization projects.  I suggest taking before and after pictures each day and posting them as a means of accountability in this area.

Once again, by the yard it's hard, by the inch, it's a cinch! Build solid, small habits and watch your organization soar.



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