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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Boxes, Bins, And Organization -- How Organized are You?

As somebody who has been disorganized her entire life, I have always welcomed help from anybody willing to offer it.

I once met a woman who told me that when she was in a hurry to organize her home, especially when she expected visitors on short notice, she would throw everything into a box, throw the box into a closet, then sort through it later.

A light bulb went off in my head. Boxes cost nothing. I tried her tip and before I knew it, my entire house looked spectacular.

I shoved the box into the closet and forgot about it. It's not that I ignored the "sort through it later" part – I just never found the time to sit still long enough to sift through the contents – until I needed something.

Before I knew it, though, the box was too small to accommodate my stuff. Although it was filled mostly with school papers from my only daughter (at the time) and junk mail I never had time to open (I'll get to it later), the box soon overflowed, and I had to dump the contents into a larger box.

And then I needed a larger box, and then a larger box, and then a larger box... One day, I found the Rolls-Royce of all boxes sitting by the dumpster. I ran outside to grab it. It had recently held a refrigerator and it was pristine! It helped that I was fortunate enough to have a walk-in closet large enough to accommodate it.

Years passed. Knowing how disorganized I had always been, I eventually bought a book to help myself, Organizing from the Inside Out: the Foolproof System for Organizing Your Home, Your Office, and Your Life by Julie Morgenstern. But I lost it in the clutter.

Today, having an organized home is still something that requires a lot of effort. As I have moved again and again and again, dragging my boxes with me, I have assured myself that the first time I became bored, I would sort through all of them. I haven't been bored since I was 19 and I'm now nearing 60.

I was actually organizing quite well until a year and a half ago. All of my boxes and bins were neatly placed in various closets throughout my house. Then my youngest daughter, her husband, and their two children moved in with me. They cleared everything from all of the closets and threw all of the boxes, bins, and other miscellaneous items into my bedroom.

One day, as I sat under the mountain of stuff that cluttered my room, I decided to take a stand! I grabbed some trash bags, filled three of them, went to the store, bought bins, and decorative boxes, placed them on shelves in my bedroom, and became organized.

Somewhat. I still have a problem with paperwork. I HATE sorting through it. Those pieces of mail that tug at my heart begging for attention sit in boxes and drawers all over my room, my pantry (in a bin), and the garage. How can I NOT give to the American Lung Association (I have asthma), or the American Cancer Society (I have cancer), or the Disabled American Veterans (my son is a Marine), or SmileTrain (everybody notices faces), or any of the thousands of organizations who need money?

My desire to help every single organization in the world and my inability to accept the fact that I can't help every single organization in the world are preventing me from organizing my home. I really just need to admit to myself that I can't help everybody. I need to discipline myself to help those I can and throw away the rest.

One of these days I will set aside time to go through my bins that hold little scribblings handed to me decades ago by my children, "Here, Mommy, this is for you," because I forgot to write the names on the scribbles, and I don't know whose scribbles they are. In the meantime, I will continue to use decorative boxes, bins, and plastic drawers to hold my items.

You can find me in the container department at Walmart, KMart, or Target, or online at The Container Store.

Photo is borrowed from The Container Store.

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