December 29, 2010 at 6:00 am
When it comes to organization, I am a total hypocrite. I have no natural gift for organization and can almost never find my keys, but put me in a hotel room with a messy person and I start straightening everything I have into little piles.
It makes no sense. But it proves that somewhere deep inside me is a person capable of organization. Perhaps I need to take in a boarder.
I think many of us make the effort to get organized this time of year. I usually ask for a calendar as a holiday gift and spend an afternoon before January 1st transferring birthdays, anniversaries and other important information onto the new calendar and a new planner.
The planner usually makes it until Jan 7 or 8th, my favorite uncle’s birthday, before I realize I didn’t send him a birthday card and I don’t actually like not being able to see everything all the time, and take to writing everything down on the kitchen wall calendar. Earlier this year, I spent three hours thinking my husband had a head injury and memory loss because I didn’t write down on that very calendar that he just had to work late.
Although it is nice to get ideas from others, I think most of us need our own system. It is hard to try to borrow an exact system from someone else, because each person is different. I have one friend who swears by her iTouch. Another uses a small day planner that can always be found in the same purse pocket. Several I know use home management binders.
My grandfather carried around a pad of paper in his back pocket for 75 years and called it his brain.
None of those systems seem to work for me. Although the brain idea is appealing because at least then when I inevitably washed the pants I could just explain to people, “we are 45 minutes late because I laundered my brain.”
I eventually tried Google Calendar a few months ago — I had heard wonderful things. But it always felt so far away. I couldn’t function without connecting to the Internet, which makes me sound about 150 years old, I know, and also like I am incapable of abstract thought.
I will say that organization was less an issue before I had children. I used to have a mental Rolodex. I could recall important phone numbers after only dialing them one or two times, a skill that came in handy for a reporter on deadline.
It is like a foreign language though – I stopped using it and now it is gone, replace by the Dirty Dozen list and the words to Elizabeth Mitchell songs.
So what’s a mama to do?
I was thrilled earlier this year to put many much loved recipes into three binders. It took hours. I had to make the tough choices — two vegetarian bolognese recipes … which one is better? Do they both have enough merits to stay? It was heart-wrenching.
I do my meal planning like this: take a piece of paper, write the meals I need to plan for on the back, make a grocery list that includes ingredients for meals on the other side. All is well as long as I don’t lose the list or forget one thing that I need to make a recipe work, like arborio rice for risotto. Then I spend 45 minutes searching for the take-out menu to the Thai place.
It occurs to me that this is not an inspiring post. But it is an honest post. And it covers something I want to focus on in the year ahead.
In the meantime, maybe you can help. We all have a few days until the new year … I’d love to hear some details about something in your life that is organized … something that works.
- Do you keep a home management binder?
- Do you use your phone to keep you going?
- Do you have a plan, or a system?
Talk about it in the comments below. I’ll be grateful all year …