Thursday, January 3, 2013

Neat Freak: Part Two

For some reason, I have been in excruciating pain for the last few hours. I have no idea why, but my hips and my legs are killing me; a very deep, heavy, achy pain that just will not subside. Of course, my mind runs wild after an hour of such pain -- to things like chemotherapy-induced leukemia -- despite that I have no reason to think that that terrible side effect would result in this type of pain. 

Brian will kill me for not waking him up tonight to help deal with this but no matter how many times he lectures me about waking him up for anything, I don't have the heart to do it. I admit that I would seriously appreciate some online research right now to confirm my hope that this pain has to do with the Neulasta making lots of white blood cells, but I could never wake him up to Google something that I am too scared to Google myself. If only Teddy could research for me ... he's been up three times in the last three hours (one "I have to go pee" and two "I'm thirsties." An endless cycle of late night fun!). Anyways, I'm doubtful of the Neulasta connection because last time I had that shot the achy pain did not feel like this, nor did it occur this long after the injection.  

After three hours of tossing, turning, and then finishing up the rest of my top 13 organizational tips (see below), I decided that I needed half of an Ativan (and a bowl of Cheerios). I haven't turned to Ativan in so long (aside from my chemo days when they give it to me through my IV) but given that I am going to work tomorrow (or, better yet, in four hours), and that senseless blogging didn't tired me out or stop the pain, I caved to meds to (hopefully) help me get a few hours of sleep. So, in the name of organization and of distracting myself from pain, here's the rest of my amateur expertise. 

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13 Organizing Tips for 2013

... Continued

5.  Attack from the ground up. 

I've already blogged about basements. In my mind, a clean house starts there. If you don't have a basement, start in the place where all the junk collects. If you start anywhere else, it's just for show. And we're not doing this for show. We doing this for real, pure organizational satisfaction. So head straight to the heart of the problem, wherever that may be.  

6. Create quality storage space. 

Once all the big useless stuff is out of the way, hopefully there's some space to work some magic. Enter: the Container Store. (Click HERE to find one near you.) If you aren't lucky enough to have one close by, immediately travel across state or international borders; whatever it takes. Kidding (kind of). In truth, your local hardware store, Target, Home Depot, Walmart, or the like could suffice. Or, better yet, there's the Container Store online (I still forget about online shopping far too often). 

The bottom line is that you need containers. Lots of containers of all different shapes and sizes. And you need shelving for the containers. Sometimes, you even need containers for containers (as I taught my friend Nathaniel years ago). Here are some of my most favorite containers (oh yes, active links are included): 

I have dozens of these boxes (the bottom one) and I keep everything in them but sweaters (only because I have just a few sweaters and they are in a handy box under my bed). For example, I use these boxes for all of the following: 
  • Legos, wooden train tracks, and all sorts of other kids' toys
  • Holiday decorations
  • Paper plates, utensils, etc. 
  • Seasonal clothes (e.g., winter hats and bathing suits)
  • Momentos (e.g., the tennis ball my Grandma and Grandpa signed at the Lang Open many years ago and Brian's hockey awards)

These are very durable and easy to carry (the handle is built in) and again, I keep almost anything in them. For example, in my basement I have one labeled Teddy "Art" and one Annabel "Art." I'm sure if Teddy knew my reasoning behind the quote marks around the word Art he would tell me, It weally is ahwt, Mom. I would agree with him and feel like a jerk. Anyways, this is where I put the fraction of papers that the kids bring home from school that I don't throw away. (Sometimes when Teddy finds his papers in the trash I have to pretend that they fell in there, although I'm thinking that he must see through that lie by now.) Which brings me to another life mystery -- what do other parents do with all of these school papers? Keep them all? Keep only some? If some, how do you decide which ones? And where do you keep them? I'd love to know more. 

Next, finding proper shelving for the containers is key. I found these shelves at the Container Store that fit the sweater and document boxes perfectly: 

In our playroom. 
Until a serious conversion a few months ago, Brian was still under the delusion that boxes could be stacked on top of each other and stored. I explained very sternly that they cannot. Stacking is the root of great evil because ultimately we are all too lazy to unstack. With proper shelving, however, boxes are free. And obviously boxes deserve their freedom. 

7.  Simplify. 

8.  Simplify. 

9.  Simplify. 

The allergy doctor that I've seen in my desensitization chemo treatments has three rules that he repeats every time he comes to my bedside: 1. Complain.  2. Complain.  3. Complain.  I love his rules because I essentially remember nothing that anyone tells me during those treatments, but I still remember his three rules. Tips 7-9 are therefore a much more fun knock-off of my doctor's clinical advice. 

Once the big stuff is out and the containers are purchased and perched upon ideal shelving units, it's time to simplify. Enter: Your Cold Heart

This is when you need to be pretty ruthless. The maternity shirt that you wore the day that you found out your eldest child's gender? You don't need it. The old cookie tins you've been saving for years because they may one day be useful? They won't be. The remote control car that you swear you'll fix one day? Don't bother. Yep, it's time to simplify and the only way to do that is to get rid of stuff -- and now I'm talking even the smallest stuff -- that you don't need. Pens that don't work, bills from five years ago, keys that open nothing that you know of. They all need to move on. 

This is likely the most time consuming of all steps because it definitely requires sorting through all the sh-tuff. It will help to make the following piles: 
  • Stuff to donate
  • Stuff to try to sell (by the way (or BTW) -- my friend Shannon kindly informed me that "bump" on a Facebook post means "bring up my post." Excellent!)
  • Trash
  • Stuff to store so that it's accessible
  • Stuff to store that doesn't need to be accessible
The latter two categories will need lots more categorizing, but remember your cold heart and hopefully only the really necessary stuff will end up there to begin with. 

10.  Invest in a labeler. 

I mean seriously, how does someone live without one? Sacrilege. I love this one but I think it's an oldie so newbies can be found HERE
I must admit my own personal frustrations at the cost of the labeler tape, but it's a reality with which we all must deal. It's like the stupid Diaper Genie that is somewhat reasonably priced (for the purpose of getting rid of poopy smells and all) until you realize the cost of the replacement bags. Or like clothes that need to be dry cleaned. I won't buy them because in reality, a $40 shirt could eventually cost hundreds of dollars. No thanks. Sorry, back to labelers. You need one. 

Once you have one, label everything (even your children, as I've posted before). I know you think that you'll remember what's in a box, or, as Brian so wrongly believes, that you can simply look into the box to see what it contains. But trust me, a labeler is the far superior route and for some reason, it's so much more fun to pull out the Christmas decorations when they're in a box marked Christmas. 

11.  Get brave and creative. 

In your effort to simplify, you'll need to be brave. For instance, I never found a good place to store our DVDs until I realized that I didn't need the DVD covers. Clearly I write too much about organizing because I'm pretty sure I've already written about this, but a few months ago I purged our house (and my Mom's) of all DVD covers. All of our DVDs (except the box sets) are now in this case and it makes me happy every time I go to look for a DVD.

12. Prioritize your space wisely. 

This tip is most helpful in the kitchen. Keep stuff that you use most often in the places that are easiest to reach. If you use the mayo and ketchup every day, put them on the side of the refrigerator door and clear out all those old salad dressings and mustards that you never use. If you don't eat leftovers, don't tupperware them all up after dinner and let them take up half of the fridge's top shelf. If you don't use the old plastic containers from the Chinese take out, don't keep them around (recycle!?!) and if you know you'll never use more than 12 forks at one time, then get rid of the other random 10 that you have collected over the years. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify. 

One of the best organizational things I ever did was move all of the kids' cups to the cabinet just above the dishwasher. Until a few months ago, the cups had been in the cabinet furtherest away and since the whole top rack of the dishwasher is usually full of the kids' plastic cups (they have an obsession with drinking water and they never reuse the same cup), things became a lot easier when I freed up the space nearest by to restock. 

13.  Play music while you clean. 

This tip speaks for itself. Blast it. Sing and dance like a fool. Don't be shy. You'll see. It's fun to be a neat freak. 

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