|The desk that inspired it all, not mine it’s Fit Chick’s|
If you came to my kitchen you could open my spice drawer and see bottles alphabetized from Arrowroot to Vanilla Bean. In my refrigerator there’s usually a pitcher of iced tea, another of filtered water, glass containers of prepped vegetables and multiples of staple ingredients. I make a menu over the weekend and cook most nights. Before you get annoyed or think I’m bragging, don’t worry there’s more to this story. Food and nutrition are important to me and I spend time and energy focusing on what my family and I consume. I have a system that works and work to make the system better. Just off of the kitchen is another room; it’s a small room my husband and I use for our home office.
There are two white desks and matching chairs. My husband’s desk is orderly. There are two laptops, framed photos of the children and one of me, a scanner/printer and the most current issue of Golf Digest. Then there’s my desk. Until yesterday, my desk had piles of clippings: recipes, articles to potentially blog about, magazines I hadn’t read yet, food labels, bills, mail, a necklace I had taken off, you get the picture. You actually will not get the picture because I forgot to take a before photo. This room was an anomaly. It was such an eyesore that, when home, I often disconnect my MacBook and move it into the kitchen and work there.
With my children away at camp for another few weeks, I sensed an opportunity and decided to call in a professional. My friend recommended a professional organizer named Kim Parker and gave me Kim’s phone number. When I texted Kim I asked for her website, turns out it’s not up yet. She’s not on twitter either. Hmn, I wondered what my desk would look like if I wasn’t blogging or tweeting but I am so that’s that. Kim arrived and jumped right in. She buttered me up telling me I have “lots of things happening in this space” (no kidding) home stuff, work stuff, running stuff and travel stuff. We got to work purging and the truth is, given the time, I love tossing things. Some Kim wisdom:
- Just because something is good information (handouts from 10 years ago) doesn’t mean you have to keep it, especially if not using it
- If you have cabinet or drawer space you don’t need files on your desk (who knew?)
- When organizing, often things get worse, look worse, before they get better.
- Choose your system, there’s more than one. My husband scans everything. He would have scan-kids and a scan-wife if possible. Kim reassured me paper is a possibility as long as it has a place.
We worked for about four hours and though we’re not done yet. I feel great. I didn’t know how much the disorder was bothering me until we started to clear it. Marc joked “I can’t believe throwing out files put you in such a good mood.” This got me thinking about the carryover effect of organizing. Ironically, I see the reverse effect among my clients. Once food becomes more organized, clients often feel more motivated at work or more balanced when it comes to mood. Freeing yourself from clutter, whether it’s papers, stress or weight – provides you will energy for other pursuits. So now I’m off to make tonight’s ceviche and of course tweet and read some blogs.
What is your clutter area or what do you put off? Do you think it’s unusual to be organized and orderly in one area of your life and chaotic in another? Where are you most and least organized?
My hubby is very organized. Me, not so much. I do all my grading and prep work for my classes from home, and there is always lots of "extra stuff" and not a lot of space. Unfortunately, my kitchen isn't that organized either. I know I'd feel calmer if things were organized better. I think I'll have to add some organizing to my "to do" list!
Andrea, what do you teach? Who knew. I feel calmer and actually happier with things in order. The problem is, I tend to wait for a big chunk of time. It's hard to find that. Start with 1 drawer, it is catchy once you start. Now I'm speaking like an expert.
my closet is my most unorganized place. i left work 6 years ago and one whole area still contains work clothes…
Any plans to purge Shari? Funny, you seem highly organized (maybe I do too).
I totally get what you are saying. My closet – it's perfect. I even fold my sweaters with paper so they stack perfectly (leftover from days in retail – you can see why I left). But the rest of it – I have articles from ages ago that I know I will someday need to refer to. Binders of old recipes I haven't opened since, well, since I put a recipe in a binder (and with Evernote.com, who needs recipe binders anymore?).
I'm getting better, tackling things in small bits, and have allowed myself to acknowledge that not everything has to be done in one day (not admitting to this is probably what led to a shredding frenzy last year, which, unfortunately, also led to the shredding of my tax returns and back-up documents from 2009 and 2008. Sorry IRS – those returns are gone.
Once everything has it's place, I find it so much easier to keep it there!
My closets and drawers for the most part are organized, it's my counter tops and the top of my desk that get messy. My problem is if I don't have a place to put things, I don't put them away. Today I'm cleaning out the mechanical room of the house (It's an absolute DISASTER since the renovation) but should be cleaning counter tops.
I agree that eliminating the clutter allows room for productivity. I really can't study or write a paper until my desk and room are in order — it just weighs on me. Sometimes I'm amazed how organized I can be in my living spaces, then how chaotic my purse and wallet can get. I always have to have a once a week dump out to purge receipts, wrappers, etc..
Lisa I'm a total wallet hoarder. And when I read articles "what's in my purse" I always want to say ok what does your purse really look like people? Where's the year-old altoid, the random tampon etc.
Thanks for the shout out. I think it's totally normal to be organized in one area of life and not another. You should see my spices. =)
My mom is a clutter bug so I've grown up to be the OPPOSITE of her! My kitchen is the neatest but I keep most other areas just as clutter free (minus our dining room table! eek!) But you'ew right…when organized, it's easier to set goals and make progress in all areas of your life!
Jess makes me feel better, that desk is impressive. Erin, know what you mean. My mom is a "naked' person, no inhibitions and I love a cover up. Interesting.
I hate clutter in general and everything is organized in my closets and my desk. But my kitchen closets are a mess. There is zero organization over there. I am usually scared to open them for fear of cans and jars falling out.
so interesting, we're polar opposites. Anytime you want a perfect pantry, just say the word. I'm good.
that sounds like a cool thing to do you must feel more relaxed now
I love being organized. Right now, my office space at home is a bit disorganized. I have a roommate staying in that room so I haven't been in there all too much.
I always feel much better when clutter is put away.
I do feel so much more productive and less stressed, but my desk isn't reflecting that right now. I'd love to organize, but summers not the time for me with the kids at home. I might get in to a nice organizing groove, but then a child needs me for something and the mood is lost. On the other hand, my pantry looks pretty good now too 🙂
EA you bring up the good point. Timing is important and trying to organize, lose weight or make any real change when schedule isn't conducive can backfire. Having said that, for some people there's never a "good" time always super busy.
Does Kim also clear the mess in the brain? It's there that the file overload is my biggest burden 🙂
Ayala- that's a different specialist, ha. Brain clutter may be unavoidable for parents/working parents etc.
Before kids I was extremely organized and always had an updated TO DO list. After 3 kids, not so much. My desk looks like the one you described before the photo.
I will say that throwing out paperwork is a HUGE stress relief. At one time I had an entire filing cabinet filled with paperwork I accumulated during school… articles, assignments, reports…. I kept everything. Then one day I realized that I didn't need it anymore and threw it out.
I love this post, Lauren, and it is very timely for me. Today on my blog, I am contemplating the age-old question of chaos versus order and the things that affect levels of mental clarity and calm. It is also timely because I have begun a major effort in de-cluttering my home. Have been pulling everything out of drawers and cabinets and starting over. Must say it feels pretty good.
And, yes, I always feel better, cleaner, more sane when my food is under control. You are in an important line of work, my friend 🙂
Loved your post too Aidan. You make chaos sound fun and interesting. Maybe you need Kim's help, she's fantastic.
I function well in chaos but once I get rid of the clutter I feel a sense of happiness. I am also a wallet hoarder. 🙂
I wish you had told me you needed help organizing as I do it for fun! I love it when I feel de-cluttered and completely up-to-date on everything. It feels awesome.
The only unorganized thing I own is my husband. And he isn't so easily replaceable…
I'm working hard at being more organized. Purge, purge, purge! It's fun for me to read this post today, because I started setting up my home office. I'm working really hard at hiding stuff (filing cabinets, drawers, etc) so that I can keep my table clear. I am absolutely affected by clutter. I'm not naturally tidy (ha! Understatement!), and clutter makes me feel tense and unproductive.