Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Short Attention Span Challenge | The Organizer

It's 2013 and some of us are starting out the year with our resolutions.  Keeping this in mind, I chose a skill to learn this week that most people, even the masters, could probably brush up on, Organizational Skills.  I know, right?  Blah!  How boring! And you know what? I agree!  I have always considered myself "functionally disorganized".  I have piles of stuff around my home.  Do you know what though?  I know where pretty much everything is.  Those disorganized piles are organized.  My life if busy and hectic, but I make it work.  It takes some amazing time management skills for me to keep it together.  I mean, a disorganized person couldn't do all that right?  So, when I walked into my house a week ago with a pile of library books about "Organization". I was surprised when my husband asked, "Are you going to learn how to be organized this week?  That is FANTASTIC!"  He looked way too happy.

"What are you talking about?  I am organized!  I am just going to improve on the organizational skills I already have," I said.

I followed his eyes as they traveled across our living room.

Okay, fair enough, so maybe I have more than a thing or two to learn about organization.

The Challenge
The "Plastic Stuff" drawer
The "Random Stuff" cabinet
My original goal was big.   I was going to perfectly organize my entire house.  A little ambitious, yes.  Delusional, absolutely.  As I read my books by professional organizers, I realized not only would a hugely ambitious organizational project be difficult, it would be disingenuous, because organization is not only a skill, but a commitment.  Organization is not something that can be done in one night willy-nilly.   It is a way of life.  There is a reason that the magazine article I found at the library was called "A Year of Organized Living" and the book I checked out was One Year to An Organized Life.  So, since I have a week to learn this skill, I decided to scale it down.  I would organize the messiest drawer (The Plastic Stuff Drawer) and cabinet (The Random Stuff Cabinet) in my kitchen.  Yes, we actually call them that. 

The Process
It seemed sort of silly to me, and perhaps boring, that I would write an entire blog post about my kitchen cabinet and drawer.  However, I think we know that this is more than just about my functionally disorganized kitchen.  Organization is about time management.  It is about making things easier.  How many times can I lose those keys, or that cheese grater?  I hate to say it, but on more than one occasion I have put something important in a "safe" place, and forgot where that was.  If everything had a place, that wouldn't happen.
For some people organizing might seem intimidating.  Like most things, tackling the project step-by-step is the key.

There seems to be a fairly consistent set of steps to organizing.  Most of you probably do it intuitively.  While there are many ways to word these steps, I found this book seemed to sum it up best.

Step 1: Eliminate
Empty fish bowl down there, not so necessary.

Lay out everything you are going to organize.  Go through it.  Check for things you don't use.  For example, as I looked through the drawer, I found an old curly straw.  I probably kept it because my daughter didn't want to throw it away, but here is it is in the drawer, unused and oh, look, MOLDY! Gross!  Out of the drawer and into the garbage.  Maybe there are things you have that you could use, but you don't.  In my cabinet I found a brand new salad spinner.  I remember buying it.  I thought we would eat more salads if I purchased it.  You know what though?  Maybe a charity thrift store could sell it to someone who would use it more than I would.  By getting to the bare bones of the things you are organizing, it creates more room and makes it less intimidating.

Step 2: Categorize
Put related items together.  In this case, the easiest way to do this was to put everything in piles on the counter. 

Step 3: Organize
Think about the items you have and what is the best way to use them.  For example, this drawer was used for storage of cookie cutters and children's eating utensils, but they didn't need to be thrown haphazardly into the drawer.   How much time and energy does it save to be able to open the drawer and reach into the exact spot where I know the items would be?  Think about how often the items are used.  Should the eating utensils be in the back, in a difficult spot to reach?  Probably not. Instead, maybe the Christmas cookie cutters, which are only used once a year.  

As mentioned before, organization is a commitment.  According to the experts, in order to keep a household (or workplace or whatever) organized, everyone must be on board.  This means, it is the responsibility of the organizer to inform others of how things are organized.  This can be accomplished several ways, such as  creating labels, making a chart, or even just talking about how things are organized and structured so everyone is aware.  I chose to make labels. 

The Result
I now have an organized kitchen cabinet and drawer!  No longer will I wonder where my Santa Claus cookie cutter is, or the party cups for my Magic Bullet.  The "Plastic Stuff" drawer and the "Random Stuff" cabinet are organized, easy to look through, and time saving! 

Now on to the Christmas Tree!!!

Okay, so organization might not be SO exciting, but next week I will be.....



  1. I would be happy to take the newly orphaned salad spinner! :D

  2. One drawer at a time! This is a very good plan.

  3. Oh, I know all about those "safe" places. I just wish I could remember where they were.

  4. My scary spot is the "tool" drawer, which contains almost anything but of course tools. There's various tapes, glues, batteries and bit of string that "may be useful some day". Twice a year I tackle it because things happen in that drawer when I am not looking!

  5. This is Peach, Rena will have to teach me how to comment so you can see my name.

    I have so many things in safe places I cannot tell you.

    Recently my mother and I were looking for something and we cleaned out all my bathroom drawers. I now have a drawer for hair, a drawer for make up and a drawer medicine. Now, the counter is still a nightmare and I will admit that Christmas is still going on at my house...