Lisa Hess ponders our tendency to underestimate the impact of our tasks and accomplishments.
Have you seen the Golden Girls episode where the girls ask Sophia what she did that day and she says, "What did I do today? I did what I do every day. I bought a nectarine." The full episode, which includes Sophia's point-of-view alongside the girls' perspective, reveals that Sophia did much, much more.
Often, we look at our days and underestimate our accomplishments. One of the reasons I love taking small steps when I tackle an organizing project is that most of my projects turn out to be bigger than I expected them to be.
Take my most recent project: organizing magazines and creating a clipping file. This actually emerged from my desire to empty a basket full of reading materials that I hadn't touched in ages.
The first step was easy enough -- sort the basket -- and I knew that would take more than one session. The basket was deep and full of magazines, each of which takes up very little space, which means that basket housed a lot of magazines. Once upon a time, that was a selling point. Now, I recognize that basket as an I need to see it stumbling block.
But I digress.
Unsatisfied merely sorting the magazines and clippings, I decided to gather up the homeless magazines that were sitting on surfaces and add them to the pile.
See what I did there? I complicated matters from the very first step. My aim was to be thorough but, by doing this, I lengthened the process and, by extension, the amount of time it would take to complete it.
By the time I was (mostly) finished this (multi-day) project, I'd gone from the basket to the bookshelf in the living room to the bookshelf in the mudroom to the magazine baskets in various locations to the bins of reading material, also in the living room. Each was emptied, sorted and its contents put into a (newly) designated location.
In the process of doing this project, I identified my target areas (the containers that needed to be sorted), evaluated my containers, and looked on Pinterest for magazine storage ideas. (I rejected most of what I found -- they looked nice, but my goal was to reduce the stacks not just make what I had look better). I considered all the possible reading material storage areas in my house (thus the trek from basket to bookshelf to bin and back) and ended up cleaning those out, too. I sorted magazines by title and designated logical homes for everything, based on how much space they took up and how long I expected to keep them.
Every single one of these things could be a single small step -- a single session, or part of longer one.
For me, they were a combination. I have a lot of reading material. The good news is that nearly everything (except for a few things left to be sorted this weekend) now has a logical home that fits my organizing and reading habits. I know where everything is and I know where everything goes.
What did I do for the last two weekends?
I cleaned out a basket.
Copyright 2020 Lisa Hess
Image: Dominika Roseclay (2020), Pexels
About the Author
Lisa Lawmaster Hess is a transplanted Jersey girl who writes both fiction and non-fiction. Lisa’s latest book is the award-winning Know Thyself: The Imperfectionist’s Guide to Sorting Your Stuff. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is an adjunct professor of psychology at York College. She blogs at The Porch Swing Chronicles, Organizing by STYLE, and here at Catholicmom.com. Read all articles by Lisa Hess.