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My Resolution– Get Organized

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Home, Sweet, Home. Sometimes, it’s messy. Somtimes it’s clean.
If, for instance, you showed up unannounced at 4:00 p.m., here’s what you would find in our apartment. A pile of laundry, cleaned, but unfolded. A hurricane of toys in The Bortski’s bedroom. A tangle of strollers, coats and shoes in the hallway. A “fort” constructed out of blankets, draped over the sofa and coffee table. A semi-circle of pillows around The Bear and his toys, just in case he topples over while playing. A fine layer of crumbs in the kitchen.
On the other hand, if you stopped by about four hours later, you would find the toys stuffed into bins. The living room returned to a semblance of sophistication. The dishwasher and washing machine humming in harmony. Shoes in the shoe rack. Newspapers and magazines neatly stacked. Strollers all in a row.
It’s an ongoing battle, this fight against the natural chaos of daily life. It’s kind of like trying to prevent the incoming tide from destroying a sandcastle. I know it’s futile. And yet, I persist.
I find disorganization distracting. Clutter makes me cranky. Before I sit down to write, I have to spend at least 15 minutes loading and unloading the dishwasher, washing the high chair tray and clearing the path to my desk.
Each day I face-off against rogue sneakers, two overflowing Diaper Dekors, and a migrating Aeron chair.
So I find myself at odds with the “anti- anticlutter” movement described recently in The New York Times article, Saying Yes To Mess.
An anti-anticlutter movement is afoot, one that says yes to mess and urges you to embrace your disorder. Studies are piling up that show that messy desks are the vivid signatures of people with creative, limber minds (who reap higher salaries than those with neat “office landscapes”) and that messy closet owners are probably better parents and nicer and cooler than their tidier counterparts. It’s a movement that confirms what you have known, deep down, all along: really neat people are not avatars of the good life; they are humorless and inflexible prigs, and have way too much time on their hands.
For the record, I’m not one of those “really neat people,” and that’s why my New Year’s resolution is to get organized and de-clutter. And it appears I’m not alone. Getting organized is a pretty common New Year’s resolution. In fact, according to The New York Times article, The National Association of Professional Organizers says January is Get Organized Month.
Here’s my plan. Not only will I continue to beat back the daily mess in our apartment, I’m actually going to take care of the other messes, the ones you can’t see. The ones I never let anyone see because I can hide them behind a door, under a bed or in a drawer.
Here are my top ten missions:
1. Organize my sock drawer. Throw out pre-pregnancy bras that don’t fit.
2. Clean my purse. Throw out old lipsticks, ancient receipts, empty Purell bottle and crumpled nursing pads.
3. Donate unused kids’ toys and clothes to Baby Buggy.
4. Organize the stack of research papers for my book, “Mama Knows Breast” (Quirk Books 2007). Prevent future pile-up of papers by following the OHIO principle– “only handle it once.”
5. Put stack of photographs in an album.
6. Edit together two years worth of family videos. Step one, buy new computer. Step two, learn video editing software.
7. Organize kitchen junk drawer. In other words, move the matches and batteries so The Bortski can’t reach them.
8. Collect stray change and take it to the Coinstar at the supermarket. Donate said change. Bring The Bortski so he can see how the machine works.
9. Figure out a way to curb the sprawl of keys, cell phones, iPod and Blackberry.
10. Do SOMETHING, in fact, DO ANYTHING, about the coat closet.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that my husband pitches in. He’s great with trash, recycling, folding laundry and putting things on the top shelf of a closet. I also have a cleaning lady who does the real dirty work once a week.
So why am I setting my sights higher than keeping after the daily mess? Perhaps because I pine for the perfection you find in magazines like Real Simple. I yearn for a Zen like calm even when I open closet doors. I don’t want to have to literally shut out the mess.
But is this really possible? In all honesty, I’m terrible at keeping resolutions. I always seem to be able to stick to my plan for a month or two. But then, things start to slide. Stuff happens to get in the way. There’s a deadline for work. Someone gets sick. I “mess up” and we’re back to square one.
So perhaps, the so called “anti-anticlutter” people don’t have this so wrong after all. What’s so bad about a little mess? I’m busy! Maybe I’ll get my sock drawer organized once, but I’d rather “play trains” than match mismatched socks. Maybe I’ll clean my purse tonight, but I’ll always be too rushed to do anything more than shove a receipt in my bag and push the stroller out of the store before the screaming escalates. Maybe I’ll file my papers this month, but I’d rather sit on the sofa with my husband than take care of this each night.
In fact, if I let some of the daily mess slide, I’d be free work on some other resolutions. I could go to bed at 10:30. Exercise at least three times a week. Start my next book. Have a weekly “date night” with my husband and read more books to The Bortski and Bear.
You know, maybe I should have a new mantra for 2007. “Mess, Sweet, Mess.”

3 Responses to “My Resolution– Get Organized”

I use the FlyLady to help get rid of my clutter ( She takes you through the program slowly, in baby steps, so that you don’t burn out. Definately has helped me to organize my house and finances!

Great post! I might just have to agree with you on the mess mantra…

instead of a coin star machine, bring your change to your bank (call ahead first to find out which branches have a coin sorter). They will sort your change free of charge (some banks you have to be a member of), as opposed to a coin star which takes a percentage of your cash.

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