Many years ago I was at a writing conference with someone who was into Feng Shui and we got to talking about being artistic and being organized. I mentioned that I was the Oscar in the relationship with my husband who was totally the Felix. My messiness was totally tied to my artistic side, but this person posed the following scenario to me.
Imagine that you’re a painter and messy as you are. A moment of inspiration hits and you need to paint that idea while it’s firmly in your brain. But first you have to find the paints and tools and they are all over. You search and search for just the right color or brush, but it takes you half an hour or more and by the time you are ready to paint the moment has passed. If you’d had everything organized, you could have started right away and not lost that moment.
Hmm. That got me to thinking that even as a writer, that scenario was appropriate. We may not have to deal with paints and brushes, but what if we can’t find the latest draft on a computer or notes for the scene? What if we can’t even sit down at the computer because we have some other task we have to complete first, but that task takes twice as long because we don’t have the materials we need to complete it in a reasonable time?
With that thought in mind, I started to get organized many years ago. Not easy. I have a tendency to clutter and collect. Plus, I don’t like sitting at my desk to write. I sit at a desk all day and when I write, I want to be comfy. That meant that my desk at home always ended up with piles of stuff.
To tackle that, I started with some basic rules that I’ve applied to everything around the house and here they are:
1. If you haven’t used/read something in the last six months, you probably aren’t going to use/read it. Toss it or donate it.
2. If possible, keep the paper things you really want/need to keep electronically. Scan, save and destroy.
3. As my Felix hubby would say: A place for everything and everything in its place. Whether a shoebox or other organizer, gather together like items you want to keep/use and place them there so you know where they are when you need them.
4. Do you have too much clothing? Do you buy clothing regularly? As with papers and things you haven’t used/read, when was the last time you wore an item? If it’s been more than a year, donate it.
5. Another rule for clothing, for every 1 new item you bring home, get rid of 2. (And again, by “rid” I mean donate. There are lots of people who could benefit from some nice used clothing. Same thing for kids’ toys!)
6. Kitchen counters are always a source of trouble. Too much on them and they are hard to keep clean or work on. I just bought and installed these awesome FINTORP organizers from IKEA and they have decluttered my counter and made it look so much more organized!
7. If you get cooking magazines but find yourself searching for a recipe from one of them, cut out the table of contents in the back and label the month and year for that magazine. Keep the table of contents in a binder so you can look through there for the recipe and then pull out the magazine you want.
8. One other thing to do with recipes/magazine contents, scan the page(s) you want to keep and set up your own electronic database of recipes.
9. Use clear plastic containers in freezers and refrigerators to keep like items (like all the frozen chicken in one place) and make it easier to get things in and out of the back of the shelf.