Why not organize from the inside out?

“Being organized has less to do with the way an environment ‘looks’ than how effectively it ‘functions,’” says Julie Morgenstern in her book “Organizing from the Inside Out.”
Think about it—“function” is more important than “looks.” That statement gives me some hope.
It isn’t important that Ilene’s kitchen cupboards are always immaculate and uncluttered while mine are crowded with a breadmaker and a basket for breads, bottles of olive oil and flavoured vinegar, a basket of teas, and honey to put in the tea.
It doesn’t matter that Vernette’s living room is always perfect while my living room always has four or five of Phoebe’s toys scattered around and dog fur everywhere. And I don’t have to match Ethel’s house, with her wonderful collections, which is always as perfect as a museum.
Their houses fit them and our house fits us. The problem comes when you give in to “looks” instead of “function.”
For example, I have a wonderful office with lots of space and a whole wall of windows. Our wooded backyard inspires me while I work. I love to watch the birds and the squirrels at the feeder.
Unfortunately, every person who comes into our house sees my office. Like every functioning office, it has lots of books, paper, envelopes, notebooks, and file folders.
And worst of all, I have a habit of working from order into chaos and back to order again, so every time we have a party or have people in, I have to give up “function” and focus on “looks.”
As a result, our guests see a model office. But I am disorganized for the next week or two.
When you have trouble staying organized, Morgenstern says it’s very important to work with your personality rather than against it.
Maybe my obstacle is being a “Conquistador of Chaos.” These people, says Morgenstern, “keep their spaces disorganized because they love the thrill of coming to the rescue and creating order out of chaos.”
As badly as they want to have control of their lives, they can never get it right.
I’ll have to think about that.
In the meantime, check whether any of the other obstacles Morgenstern suggests fit your personality.
Do some items, like your keys, have no home? Do you find organizing boring? Do you habitually buy things in large quantities with no good place to store them? Do you have a sentimental attachment to many things?
Does “out of sight, out of mind” apply to you?
If you want to get organized, Morgenstern says the first step is to analyze. Why do you want to get organized? What isn’t working? And what’s causing the problems?
The next step is to strategize. Where do I start? How long will it take? How can I make sure my efforts will last?
Then comes attack—getting the job done. Begin with sorting. Then get rid of things. Finally, assign a home for everything you keep and put things where they belong.
Then to make sure your organizing lasts, pick up everything every day and schedule periodic tune-ups.
When you’re organized, just think how much time you’ll have for important things, like having coffee with your friends, playing with your grandchildren, reading, or whatever suits your lifestyle.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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