Sunday, January 31, 2010

Organization: Philosophy & Purpose

I’ve been reading all the books I can get my hands on about organization in the past few weeks. As I shared in my post about my new year’s resolutions, I have a few areas of my home that I can never quite get organized and KEEP organized. The KEEP is the important issue for me.

One such area is my basement. This is where my laundry hook up is and the primary storage. Being from California, basements are yucky and scary to me. I’m told that I have a nice basement for an older home in upstate NY. It has concrete floors and is fairly dry. But those same qualities that appeal to humans apparently appeal to spiders, too.

Me = no fan of spiders.
Basically I use the fact that my basement is dark and scary and has a weird little room where I’m convinced the previous owner held some creature or ugly child captive as a reason to never clean and do anything down there other than grab my laundry and run back up the stairs. (Anyone saw that old movie “Goonies”? I do not recommend the movie but that might explain the deformed child living in the basement theory.) And then of course, there was that one night a few years ago when a giant mutant rat snuck up on me while I was doing laundry. Okay well, in actuality it was a frightened cat that had squeezed through a gap in a window somehow. But as I saw nothing but a black tail weaving its way through my brother in law’s junk, I made the only obvious assumption: giant mutant rat.

Anyway, the time has come to finally tackle my hard to organize places. And while I’m at it, I will share with you all the handy tid bits of info I have been learning. Some are ideas I’ve been employing for a while, some are new to me that I plan to use and some I do not plan to use but thought they might be beneficial to someone else. As stated before, I’m not an expert by any means. These organizational posts are served buffet style… you can take whatcha want and leave whatcha don’t! Read my disclaimer to learn my feelings about "how to" posts such as this.

Perusing throughout the home section at Barnes & Noble’s, I was surprised by how much philosophy and belief systems were involved in organizing. The term “fung shui” came up numerous times. I do not wish to sound critical but reading about fung shui makes me suddenly crave a bologna sandwich. ;) Get it? Bologna? As in fung shui sounds like a bunch of it? It was usually paired with phrases like “have faith that the universe will replace the object if you truly need it”. This, to me, sounds like a prime example of worshipping a creation rather than the Creator.

Having said that, there is no doubt that our surroundings, which is most often our home, have enormous influence over our attitudes and emotions. Some of us are more sensitive to our environment than others, and perhaps different senses are more astute for some than others. I believe that I am a visual person. Paint colors really have an effect on my mood. My husband is very tuned in to the fragrances and odors around him. My sister in law plays music virtually every second of every day. I think everyone would of course enjoy having ALL of our senses stimulated in a pleasing way all at once. For each person, that scene would be different. My idea of the prefect sense experience is relaxing on a soft couch, wearing my comfy jammies, with my new cozy blue blanket wrapped around me while drinking a Chai Tea, or eating some potato soup (or whatever food craving I’m having at the moment) with an encouraging song playing on the girls’ CD player and my house smelling like lavender and vanilla while soaking up the view of a nicely decorated room. Nowhere in my scenario is clutter and piles of junk or stuff hanging around everywhere. But I know some people actually enjoy many knick knacks and trinkets. It makes their home feel more "homey". What you prefer isn't important...but learning what puts you in the best frame of mind is important. Study yourself.

I think the approach we take to organizing has been be rooted in our personality. For one person, an idea can be exciting and hopeful but that same idea to another person could instantly invoke stress. My point in saying all this is that if the thought of alphabetizing your books by author sounds like cruel punishment, then don’t do it. If the first thought you have is “Well it would be nice to be able to find the book I want without having to look for 5 minutes or more” than it’s worth trying. The degree to which you are organized is up to you. My observation is that most people are craving more organization, regardless of being “uptight” personalities or more "laid back". It's just a matter of finding "laid back" organizing techniques or "uptight" ones... whatever you happiest!

What’s the purpose to organizing? It’s NOT:

- To meet expectations of others

- To be able to say “My home is organized.”

- To take a picture to record the moment because it will never happen again.

- To impress your mother in law (Don't worry, I'm sure she already is thoroughly impressed with you!)

So what IS the point?

- To make life smoother. To relieve stress, NOT CREATE IT in the pursuit of organization.

- To save money (ever had to buy something again because you lost the first one?)

- To make it out the door, on time, with everyone dressed and you have not blown a fuse in the process (reminds me of Sunday mornings...)

- To save time by not needing to search for items.

- To make your home the comfortable, peaceful haven we all need.

There are few things in life that irritate me to no end. Not being able to find something I need right away and forgetting things are near the top of my list. Both problems can be attributed to a lack of organization on my part.

Organization is not a goal in of itself. It’s a means to bigger, more meaningful goals. Being organized should enable us to accomplish more with our resources. Ultimately, that means being closer to the Christian, wives, mothers, etc. that we strive to be. We are not here to serve our houses; our houses are here to serve us. They are not museums. People (gasp!) actually live in them, and some of those people are mess making munchkins who require whole lotta stuff. The “stuff” and the “messes” can threaten to take over. Creating maintainable, realistic systems and methods to keep our house from interrupting our day to day enjoyment of family life, and effectiveness outside the home, is what organization means to this mommy.

My organizing philosophy is that organizing your home should remove stress, not create it. It should save money, not cost it. It should work with your personality, not against it.


1 comment:

kauffeegrl said...

Good post Kayte. (And I take the Vit.D just by itself-I don't believe in multi-vitamins, but that's for another post!) I agree with you on the reasons for being organized. Living with roomates in college from ALL different levels of organization skills taught me that I can not place my expectations on others: something I am still needing to re-learn from time to time with my husband who ironically "organizes" things very much like one roomate in particular.