When your best-laid organizing schemes begin to show wear and tear, Lisa Hess offers direction and encouragement.
I heard a rumor that there are people who are bored from too much time at home. Others have run out of things to watch on television. I can promise you that none of those people are teachers at any grade level or parents of school-aged (or younger) children, unless, perhaps, they have tutors and domestic help. Some days, we may feel as though we're in a bad episode of Candid Camera but bored? Not even close.
I cannot remember the last weekday when a nap was not essential if I intended to be even remotely human for the rest of the day. In fact, as I type this, I'm trying to decide if I want to stop typing right now or take a nap after I post this. Either way, sleep is in the equation, sooner rather than later.
I've always lived right on the edge of the line between I need to see it and I love to be busy, but I didn't bargain on the learning curve that came with the busyness this fall. And whether it's a learning curve that requires ropes and pulleys, a schedule that leaves you hanging on for dear life, or simply a little too much reality, these are the times when our best-laid organizational schemes begin to show wear and tear. And, as for our organizational weak spots? They start falling apart at the seams.
My beautifully clear counter? A repository for my class planning materials. My almost-always clear mail counter? About a week behind. My to-do lists? Scraps of paper that I'm afraid to transfer to one list because I fear it will be longer than I am tall.
My mantra for these times has become "one thing at a time," or, some days, "all in good time." (And some days, "I can't even look at that right now.") Not original, I know, but the first two bear repeating, at least until I get into a routine befitting the latest rendition of the new normal.
How do we know where to start when it seems that everything is calling to us? That will depend on our styles. As someone with an I need to see it personal style, I knew I needed to reduce the visual clutter because visual overload increases my stress level and decreases my productivity. A cram and jammer might need to take action when a container is overflowing, while someone with an I love to be busy personal style may take a break because the slots on her calendar are overflowing. The I love stuff person may be unable to find her favorite treasure (or may need a home for a new one), while the drop and run organizer may no longer be able to follow his trail and the I know I put it somewhere organizer reaches the organizing breaking point after putting one thing too many in a safe place.
Whether you start with what's most frustrating, most obvious, or most time sensitive, keep in mind that this, too, shall pass. And, until it does, being patient with yourself and doing what you can is the best way to take small steps that can lead you in the right direction.
For me, that direction was the restoration of the counter in my office. Last weekend, I came up with a plan that let me see things and keep them organized, but required a significantly smaller footprint, restoring my hard-earned clear space. In addition, I transferred some of the materials I'm finished with into what will be archival storage. The rest will have to wait until this weekend, unless I manage to eke out a few five-to-fifteen-minute slots between now and then. Either way, I'm excited to be on the path to clear space again.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I am quite certain that I've earned my nap.
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.