Simplifying My Simple Life | Let’s talk organization

August 12, 2010

Still working towards finding that perfect place where I feel completely at ease with my amount of things. Hand in hand with this constant purging of the unnecessary is the need for organizing what is staying put in my life. Organizing has always been hard for me to do. At the beginning of every school year, as a kid, I would promise myself that things would be different. I would write neater in my notebooks. Keep things tidier in folders and binders. Know where my textbooks were all the time. By the beginning of November, without fail, I would be a scattered mess again. Not sure what my roadblock is in this area, but it’s there. It’s stubborn. It’s something I want to get rid of.

In trying to understand how to organize efficiently (not the problem) and stick with it (the problem), I’ve read blogs and articles about the subject to no avail. So many things talk about all the cute boxes and containers you can buy to organize your things. Label them! Put them on shelves! Buy this weird piece of crap you don’t really need to help keep all your stuff in one place and easy to find. Call me crazy, but I don’t think I need more things to keep my things organized during my downsizing process. I don’t want to go to The Container Store and buy a lot of plastic organizers to put stuff in and place on shelves. That’s how I sort of got into this overwhelmingness of things to begin with. It’s easy to acquire more unnecessary items when they are all stacked on shelves in pretty boxes. I don’t want the pretty boxes. I don’t want the stacks of stuff. I want a system for my current belongings on the shelves and bookcases I have that I can stick with. I’m fine with organizing my stuff…it’s the keeping things organized that’s the real problem. It’s the putting things back that I don’t do very quickly. It’s the keeping the shelf of organized things tidy that I have problems with. Sometimes I feel like I’m a bit of a hurricane, over a long period of time. I don’t see things slowly become untidy and disorganized but then all of a sudden my office is chaotic and I need to spend significant time putting everything back to where it belongs. Let’s just say that my brief research in the area of “personal organizing” was uninspiring.

Friday afternoon

As Kasy and I continue in renovating our home, we are talking about how to organize, what to build to help keep up organized, etc. We’ve built a broom closet and built in bookcase on the first floor and a second closet for the bedroom. Once the second closet was built, now allowing both of us to have our own closets, we decided to rid ourselves of our dressers. I don’t know about you, but horizontal flat surfaces become magnets for stuff for us. Getting rid of our dressers was a great move. My closet is fantastic. Still not as organized as I like, but it’s getting there. I find it’s easier to keep it tidier since all of my clothes are in it and when it becomes unruly I need to address it fairly quick otherwise the door won’t close or I can’t find anything I want to wear. Kasy always talks about how it’s easier to stay organized when you have less stuff and I’m really starting to see that truth.

How do you keep yourself organized?

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8 Responses to “Simplifying My Simple Life | Let’s talk organization”

  1. Marie Says:

    Are we twins? I used to say the same thing every semester since 3rd grade. I actually love to organize but I rarely 100% finish the task and I never keep up. I hear planning a few min. each day really does wonders.

  2. krista. Says:

    When I was younger, I was always organized but messy (i.e., I had a system, but if I got overwhelmed by schoolwork or whatever, a mess developed), and since everything had a place, and there wasn’t much to begin with, once there was a mess, the system was easy to restore. Somehow, I have lost this in adulthood. There’s just so much more stuff in my life, and half of it belongs to my partner. I feel overwhelmed by her things as does she by mine. I think our messiness is compatible but our organizational styles are not. I’m just not sure where to go with things that are not mine, and vice versa. It’s terribly frustrating. Wish I had an answer for you.


  3. I love this as a goal. Less stuff. More organized. You are an inspiration.

    While I hate the idea of buying “stuff” to store “stuff”, I have to say that right now my most favorite container for organizing (be it yarn, small projects, cloths) are these Sweater Boxes from the Container Store – http://www.containerstore.com/shop/movingShippingStorage/homeStorage?productId=10003228&N=78667 They are the PERFECT size.

    I also have employed this system in our house for organizing transient items. It is perfect for me.

    http://unclutterer.com/2009/09/12/diy-project-for-transient-items/

    Looking forward to seeing other ideas here.

  4. stephjmg Says:

    I struggle with this same problem. The loft that I share with my boyfriend is about 350-375 sq. feet, so it’s imperative that we stay on top of tidying and organization unless we want to live in a complete mess. I’m a bit of a hurricane myself, so it’s often very challenging. What has worked for us recently has been to keep a strict ‘one in, one out’ policy for most of our things. For example, if I buy a new book, I have to donate/lend an old one. That means that my bookshelf is never overflowing, so books don’t clutter the few surfaces in our home. We diligently try to stick to the rule of ‘A place for everything, and everything in its place.’

    Also, daily maintenance keeps looming, larger messes at bay. So every night, a bit before bed, I’ll turn on a nice, long song, and for its duration I’ll pick up as much as I can and put it where it belongs. This can be dishes, stray clothes on the floor, papers, etc., and it minimizes the visual clutter the next day.

    I’ll be checking back to see what others advise, because I could definitely stand to learn more about organization!

  5. Marissa Says:

    The bookcase looks lovely, as does the new blog layout! I identify with your organization issues. It sounds like you’re on a path that makes sense to you! Do you ever organize your clothes in your closet by color? My mom taught me to do that, and it makes it look so much more organized. Light to dark too…. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Bridget Says:

    Sadly, even my messes are organized. I think it’s because when I lived at home, my sisters were slobs, and I didn’t want my things to be mixed in with theirs.

    I keep myself organized by tackling at least one space (closet, bookcase, desk drawers) at a time. That way I actually finish. Whereas if I say “Today I’m cleaning out the basement” it gets started, then more junk gets added, and it never gets finished. Small areas one at a time work for me.

  7. whitney Says:

    Oh, I so did the exact same thing at the start of every school year. And, um, still do. I mean it this year, really, I do!!

    I struggle so much with organization; I crave it, but I’m not all that good at putting it into action, especially now that I share my life with someone who is much less inclined towards orderliness. I used to be a bit of a packrat, but since moving away to college, have become much more minimalist. Unfortunately, my beloved spouse is even more of a packrat than I ever was at my worst, so my desire for less STUFF is hard to realize in a house that we share. Our house is relatively small (1000 sq. ft), and I’m quite adamant about not going much bigger when we move, even if we have a kid, so I’m very very interested in ways of living compactly. For us, those silly boxes and containers are sort of a must, because our cats are the most destructive creatures ever (seriously, having our boys is like having puppies who never grow up and can also jump 5 feet straight in the air and get on top of the refrigerator, etc); I can’t have anything chewable on open shelves lest it get chewed, and I can’t leave anything on a flat surface lest it get pushed off. People who visit our house marvel at all of the crazy systems we have in place for keeping the cats from chewing on powercords, shoes, or anything else.

    We have been making some progress recently towards better organization. Just this past week, we got ourselves some (nice-looking) containers and went to town on our closet and the bathroom shelves, which were pretty terrifyingly cluttered and messy. Got rid of a lot of stuff, and created what I hope are fool-, cat-, and laziness-proof systems for keeping the stuff we do have organized. And we’ve made ourselves a little chore-chart, so that we stay on top of the cleaning and whatnot so that it doesn’t ever get so terribly out of hand again. We hope.

    That new bookcase looks great!

  8. Anne-Marie Says:

    The story of my life, especially with two children. We are fans of the 10 minute clean up, though honestly it rarely helps us deal with the bigger issues. The only way we have had success with our bigger clutter problems is the “only touch it once” policy. When putting stuff away, put it all the way away. Folded laundry doesn’t just go to the bedroom, it gets put back in the closet. Papers don’t just pile on the desk, they get filed immediately. When we can take that extra step to do it right, we usually have more success, however its our biggest challenge. Why is it so damn hard to do it right in the first place?

    Someday when you post about the psychological reasons for clutter, I’ll share with you my theory. ๐Ÿ™‚


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