What? Me Organize?

begin to organizeWhen the discussion of goals, projects, and to-do lists comes up, so does the topic of organization. Even though I don’t have long to-do lists or year-long goals. I do need to organize.

During the recent cold spell in Texas, I hauled my laptop to the living room where it is warmer. Because I didn’t see my desk daily, it became a pile of wayward items. Instead of putting things away, as I usually do, I dumped and ran. Of course, I had to pay the piper. Before I could work in my office again, I had to get at least my desk organized.

Each of us has a different definition of organization. For some, it means colorful folders lined up neatly in a drawer. (I think this is the same person who alphabetized the spices in the rack.) Others of us just want our piles to be left alone; we know what’s where.

May I digress to a story? When I taught at a small private school the parents cleaned the building each weekend. One Monday I came in to find only the blotter on my desk. Yes, some very kind parent decided to clean it up for me. It took weeks to find everything. When I had left on the previous Friday I had finished the students’ report cards. They were on the right corner of my desk ready to send home the next week. I never did find them and had to start from scratch.

This little story illustrates one person’s chaos is another’s organization. I obviously knew my system if after 25 years I can still remember where I left the report cards. This is also way there are so many organization systems. I’ve tried but have been unable to read them all, and few fit my priority style of working.

Let’s take a look at some tools to begin organizing. (Please note, these may be affiliate links.)

The Organized Homeschool Life Don’t be misled by the term “homeschool” in the title. This incremental guide to organizing everything from meals to, yes, homeschool items is practical and easy. The Organized Homeschool Life by Dr. Melanie Wilson of psychowith6.com is designed to pick an area each week to bring order in a way that fits your lifestyle. Arranged not just by area, but also by month. The reader may pick a starting month or a starting area and complete the easy weekly tasks. Dr. Mel provides more hints on her website with the links in each chapter. This one gets six stars from me. Available in print or e-book.

Organize Now! Also based on weekly tasks, author Jennifer Ford Berry www.jenniferfordberry.com offers simple checklists for each week. It is based on topics such as “Your Papers” and “Your Personal Spaces.” Like The Organized Homeschool Life, the reader can pick an area or start at the beginning of the book and move through it. In addition to the beginning organizing tasks, Organize Now! has monthly, quarterly, and yearly checklists to stay that way. I tend to shun organizational professions because the systems are too complicated for ordinary people. Ms. Berry is an “ordinary” professional who has developed a system for the real world. Five stars here.

Side Tracked Home Executives  This book is written by home executives Pam Brace and Peggy Jones. I used this method of file card task for daily, weekly, and monthly “chores” when teaching my children. After breakfast each day, I gave the kids their stack of cards and sent them scurrying to complete them. No, I didn’t sit back and enjoy another cup of coffee; I had my own stack of cards. After a while, some of the daily tasks became so routine a card wasn’t needed. A four-star system that worked for me.

Sink Reflections by The FlyLady Marla Cilley is another baby step by baby step system. FlyLady uses some of the same basic ideas as the other two systems. For me, it’s too detailed and exacting. I prefer the flexibility of the previous three systems. The FlyLady website has various areas to explore. The main area is Flight Plan. The FlyLady system has daily, weekly, and monthly goals and habits. If you use the website or iOS app, there is little room to go your own way. For those who want or need a definite day-by-day plan, FlyLady is for you. I give it four stars, even though it doesn’t work for me.

Please don’t buy all of these books right away. That doesn’t help the clutter situation. Instead, peruse the websites, try out the samples, and see what works for you. Determine your own priority, use the plan that fits it, and don’t let a system derail what is important to you.

What is your favorite organizing system?

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Comments (2)

  1. Reply

    I have a few different strategies when it comes to organizing and what will be the most effective solution for each person. When I work with clients who need their storage spaces organized for example, the first question I ask is if certain items will be taken out periodically or not. That will tell me upfront which items will need to either stay in the front or have a clear path of access to the item.

    • Susan K. Stewart


      I try to do a similar thing with my desk. I keep within arm reach items I use regularly. The further away, the less I use the item.

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