Monday, March 22, 2010

On organization

I'm crap at it. But seeing as it is a recognized (though not celebrated) weakness of mine, I'm always trying to come up with (or find) ideas that just might help me be not-so crap at it. Occasionally out of sheer volume of trial and error, I come across some things that have miraculously worked for me. I will share them with you on the off chance that perhaps they might help you too. Or you could alternately point and laugh because A- you are already an organization pro, or B- of course my silly ideas wouldn't work for you, or C- you are rich enough to pay someone to do your dirty work for you, or D- you have no children to negate your organizational prowess. At which point you have at least been amused by my misfortunes, so my rantings haven't been in vain after all.

Idea Uno.

I especially suck at cleaning my house. I just don't LIKE it, and it gets messed up again so fast, why bother cleaning it ALL of the time. So I used to let it slide until I went absolutely mad with disgust and annoyance at which point I'd go through and angrily clean the whole thing up, only to have it last roughly .00318 milliseconds before the next tornado hit. Seriously, what was the point.

Or else I was forever picking things up, but it never stayed as such long enough to vacuum or sweep before other toys, coats, backpacks or shoes would drift in of their own natural volition, t
hus preventing any actual cleaning of the cluttered surface. * So, even I who have a moderately high tolerance for clutter, was seriously annoyed. Next, I tried a chore chart, which didn't really last. Then I tried having everybody help clean up every Saturday. It wasted the day, and made everybody cranky. Everything I tried never really lasted longer than a couple of weeks. And took lots of effort.

* (Sir Isaac Newton, had he any progeny would have certainly discovered this fourth undeniable law of thermodynamics which is as follows "areas in clutter must remain in clutter unless acted upon by the STRONG force, which exists only in the nucleus of atoms, so good luck with getting that to work for you", but fortunately for high school students everywhere he didn't manage to fit procreation into his rather busy schedule and there is, for now, one less law to memorize.

So... I came up with only cleaning one room a day. Every day, except weekends. That's it. Ignore the rest of the house (except the dishes.. yeah, that can't be ignored, and laundry I suppose..) and only focus on one room. Then the next day pick a different room. It actually has a chance to get all of the way clean, not just picked up, but thoroughly scrubbed (and half of the time organized) because I'm setting a realistic, small goal. And because it is realistic, easy and small, I do it again, and it actually lasts beyond a few weeks. The surprising thing is it helps me to be more productive, because once my one room is done, I don't have to do any wasting-time-avoid-cleaning-syndrome things, I get to move onto whatever project I am currently working on sans guilt. Then not only do I have a great feeling of accomplishment, but it actually stays a lot cleaner for some reason. (this part I don't get, except that as a whole, each room gets completely cleaned about once a week, which is probably more than
ever did before in my house) And if happen to be feeling lazier on a certain day, I pick a room that isn't so bad. (if I have something too structured, I feel stifled, so I don't have set days for each room) Even when I miss a day, or days, I don't catch up and clean more than one a day, I just start again. I turn on music, and make my kids help me, and its not so bad. I really l
ike it, and even if it doesn't work for you, I'm really, really relieved that something works for me. Sure it means all of your entire house isn't spotless at the same time, but when did that ever last anyway. Its scientifically proven. Nature truly does abhor a vacuum. Lucky for us, 21st century narcissistic Americans abhor Nature. So, it all evens out.

Point deux.

I am rotten at making real dinners consistently. Five o'clock rolls around, and I spend an hour thinking of things I don't feel like making, and then having to force it upon my unwilling subjects. By six, I am in somewhat of a panic... oh crap, now I have to do something ELSE and quick, because we should be eating now, or thereabouts. Pancakes, oatmeal, cold cereal, grilled tuna or cheese sandwiches, hot dogs, or mac and cheese are now the options. Gross. Well, except for the pancakes, which we have quite a lot of, but aren't really that great for long term hunger fulfillment. ANYWAY... as aforementioned and is now glaringly obvious at this point, I'm not organized enough to know what I'm making beforehand, which would solve all but the forcing-to-consume part of my problem. I also am a booger and can't be bothered with sticking to a fixed schedule for meals. How am I going to know on Monday what I'll feel like eating (or making) on Friday? Sometimes I think of a few I want to make, and I write them down before hand, but only occasionally, but it really helps. So I should be able to write out a list of seven meals that I might wish to make through the week in no particular order, and in varying degrees of time allotment required to prepare. I make sure I have ingredients on hand, or go get them all at once... So, I thought if I had a cool specific place to write all of it, then maybe I'd be consistent at planning ahead. So instead of dinner, I made a blank menu idea list I could print more of whenever I needed to. And then I thought of a cool way to put them on my fridge... So, I thought I'd share how to make it, and perhaps it can benefit you too, so that my kids having oatmeal for dinner yet again won't be in vain. I'll even give you the finished printing layout because I'm that kind of person.

print THIS out.

I didn't put borders on it, because my laser printer doesn't DO borderless printing, so make sure when you print it out it is with a border. And its not perfect (hey, don't look a gift horse in the mouth, I made it for you, quit whining) they're all not going to line up exactly and the edge borders are going to be bigger than the middle ones, but get over it, and just cut it off.

..and then if you went through all that bother, you might as well make the holder. (its really easy) And you can use a random ugly or boring magnet you don't care for to hold it up.

Cut a clear vinyl strip. 3 1/4" x 10 1/2"

Fold the strip of clear vinyl once backwards, and once forwards. Adjust to fit.

Sew the edges with cool colored thread. (I sew each seam twice so its thicker, and stays better, and you don't have to backstitch at the beginning and end because that looks silly on vinyl)

Slide the magnet under one flap.

..and the blank lists into the other.

Fill with ideas. Place on fridge. Feel sufficiently motivated and inspired to make dinner before bedtime.

Figuring out how to get your picky kids to eat the dinner, without giving them therapist fodder? No clue.

(and hey, make it all you want for you and friends or family, but don't rip off my idea as your own and try to sell them or anything K, that's just rude!)

Solution drei.

ha, ha, just kidding! I don't have another one. yet. I just wanted to use another random language number, so it looked like it was on purpose. (Kinda like I'd be cool like Bono and do my own version of weird counting, and not just totally copy
his 1, 2, 3, 14 in spanish.) I know I'm lame, just checking to see if anybody is still actually reading by now. You can officially stop though. I'll let you.

I promise.


  1. love the ideas! I also love feeling a sense of accomplishment. unfortunately my life revolves around lists so there are old lists on every notebook, scratch paper, back of envelopes, or any other loose piece of paper you can find. It is kind of ridiculous. I love your post!!

  2. I started Suggestion Uno a while ago and my problem is when I get behind, I give up. I'm like you, that I don't feel like cleaning up the same mess every stinking day. But I did better when the rooms were scheduled for days. Plus, I had some daily tasks and some tasks that were assigned days. Like, washing whites is Tuesdays and colors is Thursdays. Vacuuming is Mondays and sweeping/mopping is Wednesdays. That kind of thing. It tried to have the living room clean every day, since that's the part people see when they come over. My other goal is that my house never gets so dirty it takes me more than 2-3 hours to clean. (That goal isn't working out too well right now.)

    Suggestion deux: I will definitely try that. I get in a rut with food SOOO easy! I don't mind eating the same 5 things every meal, but I feel guilty feeding Sarah that way. So I need to just come up with more ideas. Plus, I cook way too much of an item, so I like to have the leftovers for times I don't want to cook, but I don't want to feed Sarah PB&J AGAIN.

    Suggestion drei: Maybe you should come up with something to keep a kid's room straightened that I can copy. Or I'll come up with something and tell you about it.

    I'm glad you blogged!

  3. I remember those days, C. For me, it was trying to make Zion, and neatness was part of it. A goal to chase, but not to achieve...

  4. I used to make menu plans (& grocery lists) after checking the grocery ads so as to afford better food (& make sure to get good veggies & fruit into plans so they didn't go bad) and all. Then I'd figure out which days I had time to do the harder meals.
    Now I do vague lists of menu ideas (after still checking the ads--it's compulsive now) but still plan around how to use all those good veggies, meat on sale, etc.
    Good habits do grow.
    But OH! do I remember those "never stays clean" days! I think you have great cleaning-up ideas!

  5. awesome, c.
    good ideas!
    of course these topics are super relevant to all mothers of young children, or just families in general, so thanks for your thoughts!

  6. Great ideas! I make a menu plan myself, but sometimes the days get switched around, no biggie.

    I'm going to try to start your room a day cleaning, though. Usually my house gets cleaned in a rush the day before I'm expecting company, and other than that forget about it!

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