Organizing Urges

I’ve been getting things organized lately and have been on an optimization kick, trying to find the way to do things that works best for me. So far, I’ve got my kitchen mostly organized (there’s a bit of fine tuning to do, but I can live with the way it is now) and have established routines and procedures that have kept things in order and clean to the point that it’s only taking a few minutes a day to maintain it. I have my closet and dresser drawers mostly in order (though I could stand to do another big wardrobe purge and then do some fine tuning). I can find things easily, and I have a place to put everything, so I can do that “a place for everything, and everything in its place” thing.

What I discovered yesterday when I was searching for supplies for a children’s choir project is that I’ve become so accustomed to these parts of daily life being easy that the parts of my life that aren’t organized at all are even more frustrating. There’s no order to my office, where I store things like that. I do have a designated choir supplies bin, so it’s partially organized, but there are other things that I needed that are scattered all over the place or buried under things I got out when I was looking for something else. At the moment, I can’t even bear to be in my office because it’s such a mess.

Which means that needs to be my next project. I’d like to be able to go back to working in my office. Unfortunately, it’s become a sort of dumping ground for things from the rest of the house so that I can keep the living space in order. Getting the office together is going to be a rather massive project. I think I’m going to start by getting the desk straightened and cleaned, then move out from there. If I start working in there, I’ll be more driven to deal with the rest of that space, and that can become something I do during short work breaks — take a few minutes to go through that box and file things.

I’ve always had a bit of an organized streak — I used to alphabetize my band music in my folder. That made things easy during football season when I could flip through my folder to immediately get to any piece the band director called up. During concert season my freshman year, the one year I had to share a folder (after that, I played oboe and was the only one), fortunately my folder mate was as obsessive as I am (if you watch that reality show about the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, my folder mate was Kelli, the director).

But I’m also easily distracted and a perfectionist, which results in a lot of slobbishness. Instead of just tidying, it has to become a project, and then I’ll get distracted midway through, with the result being a bigger mess. I think I’ve reached a stage in life when the mess gets to me, and I’ve learned that making it a little neater is better than demanding perfecting and doing nothing. When I have things in order, then I can maintain them easily with less effort.

Also, I’m in the middle of a book, when suddenly I need to organize and clean all the things. Meanwhile, those new ideas are flying furiously. This is why finishing a book is such an achievement. It’s not so much about coming up with ideas and putting words together as it is having the discipline to power through when you keep getting new ideas and you desperately want to alphabetize the contents of your freezer.

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