In Pursuit of an Organized Life

. . . putting life in order


I had a wonderful and productive morning. No kids. Just me, the car, and to do/buy list. It felt great to be able to cross all the stuff off my list at one time rather than doing random little stops throughout the week or month.  It felt so efficient and purposeful than either dragging the kids and spending more time hurding than shopping (tripling the time).  I think it also helped me to buy less since all the spending was in one morning rather than $10 here and $50 here.  I wouldn’t buy something that was just okay at one store when I knew another store would probably have more options.

  • Hair Cut—I wanted to get a new hair cut before I started my new job.  I want to make a good first impression as well as easier to maintain my hair with my busier schedule.  I was in the habit of wearing my hair in a pony tail most of the time which makes me look younger than I am.  (I had someone this summer ask if my parents were home.  Needless to say my parents were not at my home, but my two children were napping upstairs).  I have new layers and it looks good down with minimal effort.  I can still put it into a ponytail for working out.
  • Library/Borders—picked up books and DVDs I reserved at the library and browsed the going out of buisness sale at Borders.  While I had fun browsing at Borders, the library was a much better stop—picked up books on reserve check out and go home with free materials.  I ended up spending about 45 minutes at Borders and coming out with 2 magazines and a running log book.  Everything was 50%-70% off, but most of the stuff I could get from the library for free, couldn’t find what I wanted, or was still more than I was willing to spend for the item.  There are so many “sales” now days that I forgot how high some of the suggested retail prices are.
  • Tea shop—So excited to have a tea shop near my house.  I got a drink to sip while I run errands and enough loose leaf tea to make about 30 cups of tea for $8.  Life’s little luxturies.

I also got basic groceries, deposited checks, and purchased a planner for work.  I am planning on making a list of items and errands to keep on the fridge.  Then I can schedule days like these as needed.  I already have a couple of ideas.

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New Cabinets

We got new cabinets for our dining room. Which is good for several reasons:

1) Less piles on the tables and floors

2) Doesn’t look as junky

3) More storage containers are empty

4) Easier to find things

4) Expands kitchen storage

Its amazing how it looks like I have a lot less cookbooks now that they are in the shelves versus in a big plastic tote. I get to buy more cookbooks!!! Well I should probably use the ones I have or get rid of some other ones first. The less I buy the less time I have to spend organizing and sorting.  I seperated the casserole and baking dishes from the appliances.  Both areas are easier to find and less likely to break.  I had items I forgot I had like an electric wok and thermos.  I had more appliances than I thought and less baking dishes. My husband is working on getting the shelves installed as well as staining the cabinet to match the rest of the furniture.  So the project isn’t done—but it is far enough along to have a positve impact on the organization of our kitchen and dining room in general.

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I am done with organizing the 3 pantries. I have some idea of what is in all of them and they are grouped together and the space is used better. The blog did help since that is what motivated me to finish it. I didn’t want the blog to forever say 2 out of 3 done.

Only one more week of break. This week is a cooking week. Trying to get dishes made so that we have plenty of leftovers for when we are both working. Tonight Hawaiian meatballs. Later in the week meatloaf, manicotti, stuffed bread, and jambalaya.   Also I plan to get the house to a presentable level so I can maintain versus catch up.  Now to clean up the kitchen.  Cooking is way more fun than cleaning.


Part way

I am part way through pantry number two. I am tired and both girls are up from their nap, but I can’t stop because it looks as if my kitchen has been bombed. Everything is out of it. Now I need to find a way to sort it and put it back in some order before Lance gets home. Send any positive thoughts you have my way.

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1 of 3 Pantries done

I sorted through one of the 3 places that hold non-parishable foods. It doesn’t look that different, but it should be more well organized.  I had it mostly sorted, but it slipped because of quickly shoving things where they fit.  The main motivation was spices.  I knew I had spices and couldn’t find them or wasn’t sure if I had it and bought another one.  I now have LOTs of chili powder and tyme.  I suppose I always did–I just didn’t know it.  I have some shelves labeled so maybe  I can keep the organization longer. I also started a list of overflow items that were downstairs.  I am SO glad that I organized it before I swept the floor.  Spices were everywhere, but it smelled good.

On a side note,  I love this pantry.  Its the height of a normal door, but its only one can deep.   That way I don’t have to search to find items or think of weird storage devices to help subdivide the space. My husband built it.  Previously, it was just a jog in the wall that could have stored a garbage can, but thats about it.  Still lots to do.  Every little bit helps though I suppose.

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I decluttered my mantle. I knew it was cluttered, but there were some things that I had no idea that were up there. I found some tape (too bad it wasn’t until after I wrapped presents), a nutcracker, nail gun nails, cards from as early as this fall, diaper cream, knight statue, and other random junk/treasures.  I also found some mystery object of my husband’s.   I have no idea what it is for.

I took everything off and decided the few items that would stay there. Then I had to decide what to do with the other items. I had to resist the urge to put them back on the mantle. Not sure why—its not like it was a good place for them. It was just out of the reach of the kids and a quick spot to place it.

Below is the final product. I’m trying to live by the idea of if it’s important or sentimental display it or make it accessible. One of the organizational shows (clean sweep etc) had said that and it made sense. It’s a shame to have some really cool keepsakes in the closet and junk on the counter.


Cleaning vs cluttering

Today I cleaned the kitchen counter. It’s amazing how much stuff accumulates there. Things I don’t want my youngest daughter to put in her mouth, coupons, mail, dishes, snacks, etc. A bigger kitchen might solve the problem for some people, but honestly I think we would collect more stuff.

I was surprised by how good it felt to see the actual counter and have it smooth and without clutter or crumbs on it. I was oddly protective of it. Any stuff that landed there felt like it was invading my space. I am going to see how well I can keep the surfaces clean. There is a bigger difference between clean and a little messy than there is between a little messy and a lot messy. I think once its messy, I get accustomed to it and let more of it slide.

I’ve been focusing on getting the actual cleaning done. I think the clutter is what is draining my energy more. Both need to get done. If I can’t find the surface, its hard to get it clean. I’m not great at either, but maybe someday I will be.

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Compare and Contrast

I’ve tried monitoring and charting my progress on cleaning to see how I am doing. Last week was pretty good—this week not so much. There is still today left so there is some hope left. (Since I drafted this post I did have a burst of bathroom cleaning and glass table cleaning—so hope is not lost—completely.)

Last week, I had visitors coming so there was a clear due date and motivation. My other theory is that I mapped out what I wanted to get done last week, but not this week. I did map out my meals which helped add variety and avoid last minute quick foods. While I didn’t do what I wrote down on the prescribed day last week, I think it helped me map out what I wanted to accomplish and see the items as individual tasks versus a giant to do list.

So I will try to do more of the week mapping. I remember hearing a speaker on organization talking about thinking about what worked in the past and do that again. It was an interesting point, because there have been certain strategies that were helpful that I stopped doing or that I was never doing consistently. I think using the weekly/daily to do list is one of those things for me. For now, it will help me from either piddling away the day and not getting anything done or from starting lots of little projects and not completing them. Once I return to work, it should be a good format to help purposely define what I want to do with the precious evening hours after work.

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In a few weeks, I will be returning to work at a new school. The school is year round and sounds like it is a positive place to work. I also get to work with another speech therapist. I love to bounce ideas off another person. The person leaving has been super supportive and left some good materials.

While I’m excited to be at the school and return to work, transitions have always been difficult for me. Even postivie ones (vacation, summer, husband back to work) take a little while for me to adjust to mentally and emotionally. There are so many things that will be brand new—-students, staff, schedule, Lance working, daycare. How will I do on my current goals and pursuits, what will my days be like, will I get along with everyone. will the kids behave in daycare, will she ever get potty trained, how willl I make time for me, the girls, and Lance in the evenings? Now most likely everything will work out one way or another—like it always has.

Any tips for making transitions easier? Its the balance between trying to get everything done that I wanted to do over the summer and enjoying what is left day by day. Try to prepare for the future and be in the present. My current plan is to try to get some of the house stuff and daycare stuff taken care of beforehand (plan meals, buy supplies, etc). Then work stuff I plan on just doing the fun stuff (making materials, reading textbooks, etc) until I start teacher workshops. And exercise and take time for myself so I don’t drive my husband crazy. Now we will see if I can pull the plan off. Plans and reality are often so different.

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After significantly low motivation and whining, I did finally get some stuff done. Mostly the basics—-laundry, dishes, and picking up toys. If I didn’t have those three things to deal with, I would have so much more time and my house would look so much better. Unfortunately, I like eating, wearing clothes, and happy kids.

I did also tackle some organizing of boxes of junk. They were in the guest room but we moved the clutter into our room so the guest room is clean and so we could decide what we actualy wanted in there. I decided to sort a box of notebooks and random office supplies. Below is a list of what I found.

  • two pairs of scissors
  • two cassette tapes to study for my national SLP exam
  • scotch tape
  • poems from middle school/high school days
  • to do list pad (sorted by day of the week)
  • a variety of  thank you and note cards

Have you found anything interesting or lost while cleaning?  Well I’m off to relax before the girls wake up—the little one is already making noises.  I’m trying to will her back to sleep.

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